About Me

I'm creamy and flavorful. I go well with raspberries. I plan to keep getting more delightful with age, so stick around! I like to travel, both physically and in my own head. I buy a lot of books just because I like the way they look and smell. If "old paper" was a glade scent, I'd plug them in all over my house. Ummm... I can lick my elbow. If you're reading this, you've probably already had the pleasure of witnessing it. Also, I love dishwashers.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I have not been able to think of anything to write about all week. I should say, rather, that I had a great number of thoughts that I wanted to put down, but I could not find a segue into them. Since this is not my own personal journal, it wouldn't do to present you with a collection of jumbled, partially formed ideas. They seem brilliant and deeply convicting in my head. Fortunately for you, we are not in my head. I spent all week looking for outside inspiration.

Then the massacre happened. 

A bit unsettling, isn't it? But it seemed like such a perfect sequel to my last blog post. There is a very great difference between the way I treat my stuffed animals and the way Chandler treats his, but I don't believe his are loved any less. This snowman is one of the most adored toys that ever lived. He and Chandler sleep together, watch television (or me trying to exercise) together, and play outside in the yard together. In their favorite game, the snowman plays dead while Chandler stages a series of run-by attacks. 

Until very recently, no one got hurt during their games. It's been nearly a year. Last week, the snowman finally lost his carrot nose. I would have sewn it back on, but I think it was swallowed. Tonight, Chandler brought his snowman to me, just to show him off. He likes to tease me with the snowman, showing me how wonderful he is without letting me touch him. He still loves him, face or no face. 

The contents of this beloved snowman's head are currently strewn across my bedroom floor. I'll patch him up in the morning. He won't be as good as new, but I think I can prolong his life. He'll be damaged and disfigured, and Chandler will go on loving him unconditionally.

Sometimes I remind myself of a torn-up stuffed snowman...  and during those times, I feel as though I'm closest to who I wish to be.  It's when my wounds are fresh, and I feel exposed, that I can feel God moving and working most clearly in me.  I was reminded of this in my devotions this morning. "Sorrow is God's tool to plow the depths of the soul, that it may yield richer harvests." 

The world tells us that when we are wounded, we should patch ourselves up as quickly as possible. We've romanticized the whole concept of buried pain and deep-seated bitterness. Think of all the proud, damaged and cynical heroes and heroines we've met.  It's admirable in movies, books and society in general to be scarred - but not to let your stuffing show through! All too often, though, it's our own patch jobs that get in the way of actual healing. Some of us just distract ourselves and pretend not to hurt. Some of us build splints out of pride and fear, isolating ourselves or forever viewing ourselves as damaged. Eventually, our failed patch jobs lead to hideous scars, which are far more painful and harder to recover from than the original hurt would have been.  We can limp on for many years like that, and God will not love us any less. He knows that we cannot heal ourselves any more than I can heal Chandler's snowman - but He could do such a beautiful job if we'd let Him. God doesn't just promise to put pretty patches over our ripped seams or make us like new. He promises to make us better than new... and He doesn't need our help to do it. We just have to get out of the way and let Him work.  I don't know why we humans find that so difficult. Why survive with a limp when we could flourish?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Tale of Toys

I had dozens of stuffed animals as a kid. I could hardly go anywhere without seeing one I just had to have. Each has a name, a personality and a life story.  Their stories are more creative, for the most part, than are their names.  There’s Pup and Pink Bear.  Kiwi is a green bear. Music Bear, not surprisingly, plays a lullaby when you wind the key in his back, and Petunia was named after her floral-patterned jumpsuit. Below is a partial family portrait:

Pup was a great favorite of mine. He’s roughly the size of a hamster and the shape of a peanut. He was, undeniably, a troublemaker. I told my parents when I was about 5 that “life was so much easier before we got Pup.” I’m not sure whether I actually remember saying that, or if I’ve reconstructed the memory over the years of teasing I received. Troublemaker or not, Pup remained very close to my heart for many years. I lost him once, for several months at least.  I’d almost given up on him, but that Christmas, Shannon found him, wrapped him up, and put him under the tree. It was a wonderful reunion.

Though I certainly had my favorites, I was always determined not to let the other toys know. I was obsessed with fairness at a young age, and so if I played with one animal more during the day, I’d give the rest a little extra love at bedtime. There was a time when I could not fall asleep before I’d kissed each and everyone of them goodnight.

You may have noticed I said earlier that Petunia wore (not "wears") her floral jumpsuit. That’s because when I was 15, I left her in a hotel room at the Grand Canyon while on tour with the Albuquerque Youth Symphony. At least I think I did. I called the hotel lobby from our tour bus to inquire as to whether anyone had found a white bunny in a pink jumpsuit, but no one had. So there I was, 15 years old and tearing up over a stuffed rabbit while on a bus packed with my teenage peers. Petunia never turned up.

It’s hard to say goodbye to childhood playmates, because it really does seem as if they have feelings - that they feel neglect and rejection as surely as we do. If Toy Story 3 made you cry, you know what I’m talking about.  Not long ago, I packed about 2/3 of my stuffed animals away in a big cardboard box and stashed them in the garage, because there just wasn’t room for them anymore. It was a heart-wrenching decision, deciding who would stay inside with me and who would go into the box.  A few hold extra special meaning for me, and so they remained in my bedroom, but I have feelings for each and everyone one of them, and I felt extremely disloyal to the ones I packed away.  Giving them away would make more sense, but I’m not quite ready to part with them yet. So I’ll keep them for now, and maybe someday, another little kid will love them.

Today, I said goodbye to another stuffed animal – one that I’ve had for less than a year, but who has become as dear to me as any of the bears who once slept in my crib.  His name is Patrick.  

I put him in a box today that was barely big enough for him. I sealed it up with tape and hid it where I would not be too tempted to retrieve him. Poor Patrick. I gave him his identity, and now I’ve banished him because of that identity. You see, Patrick represents an idea, one that I now know is not true, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t convince him that it’s not true.  He still tells it to me every time I look at him.  He doesn’t mean to lie to me – he can only repeat back to me the thoughts that I first projected onto him. If I tell him he’s lying, he only looks sad.  He’s looked sad like that for months now. I don’t know how that’s possible. I’m well aware that the line of brown thread that’s stitched across his face can’t have moved. How then could his expression change? But change it did.  We’ve cried a lot together, he and I. There were no tears today, though. I held him in my lap and stroked his big, soft ears and tried to explain why his presence was no longer beneficial to me. He looked sad, but I think he understood.

I eased into the decision. Last week, I stopped cuddling with him at night. I found it even harder than usual to fall asleep. Finally, I left him in the garage, high up on a shelf, inside a box. I can’t describe how terrible I felt this afternoon– as though I’d betrayed a real friend.  After a few minutes, it occurred to me that I might have at least put him in a box with other toys, so that he wouldn’t be totally alone. I had to throw myself into cleaning the house to keep myself from going back for that box.  I never gave much thought to this idea as a kid, but it became very clear today that Patrick is more than a sentimental object to me. It’s not just the thing he represents that I’m grieving. For the better part of the day, I was genuinely concerned about his feelings.  Not until I started writing this blog post did the silliness of the whole situation present itself to me. You cannot make an inanimate object feel unloved, can you? And yet, I know that the next time my dog decides to take the life of one of the cotton-filled characters in my bedroom, a small part of me will feel like I failed to protect a friend.