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.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Writer's Cramp


No, it's not what you think. I often wish I could write entire manuscripts on parchment with a ink-dipped quill and tie it up with string and single red rose, like in Little Women - and then complain of a crippling cramp in my hand. That would be romantic. I feel that it would inspire me to write romantically, too...

... but no. This is a mental and emotional cramp.  If you spend time with people who write fiction, you might hear them say something to the effect of, "My heroine is misbehaving." Actually, I say that even when I'm writing nonfiction. Sometimes, I, the protagonist, cannot be persuaded to cooperate with me, the writer and narrator. It's maddening. This week, however, I'm faced with a much more difficult problem. My heroine is behaving just badly enough, you see. Her attitudes and actions are quite in keeping with her background, and in that sense, she is just as she should be. I'm proud of her hot-blooded passion, her magnificent scars, and her poorly-concealed vulnerability. The hero is behaving very well indeed. He's an angel, truth to be told - also in keeping with his personality, upbringing, and education. He's everything a well brought up 18th century European protagonist should be. Unfortunately, I have dropped him into a world where his virtues are neither shared nor valued. The minor characters - neighbors, relatives, and the rest of the town's inhabitants - are difficult to understand and almost impossible to control. I keep trying to guide them into my intended narrative, helped along by my adorable protagonist. More often than not, they laugh in his face and mine, and I'm forced to leave them be for a little while longer. Even the landscape mocks me. It's pure wilderness, in every sense of the word.

Late last night (or early this morning), when sleep was tugging at my eyelids, and bizarre dreams were beginning to poke holes in what began as a well-constructed scene, my handsome protagonist looked straight at me and asked, "Do you have ANY idea what we're doing here?" It was the first backtalk I'd received from him, and it was unsettling.

I wish I could say with confidence that I will not leave my hero to fend for himself.  The truth is, I am a quitter. I always have been.  Fortunately, the man I invented last week is anything but. For his sake, I am determined (I hope) to master this town and gain control of its inhabitants. If I cannot tame them through language, I will defeat them with research (again, I hope). Perhaps when they know that I'm no longer afraid of them, they'll decide to start participating in my plot.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Things that confuse, frighten or anger me:

1. My luck with cell phones.  I have only ever owned 2 phones that worked well, both of which were hand-me-downs. First, there was the razor. It liked to adjust it's own volume settings and turn itself on and off - especially when I was in class. Then there was the purple terror that just could not follow instructions when it came text messages. I would glance at my phone by chance just in time to see it announce, "message sent." I'd panic, having no idea what message it had sent and to whom.  I once sent a guy a message that said "Happy Birthday!" 4 days AFTER his birthday... 4 times.

I had a wonderful phone last spring.  It's at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean now. My current phone scrambles my text messages, placing them willy nilly into folders so that I often reply to the wrong person. This could potentially lead to some awkward situations.

2. Sappy commercials. I know they’ve been around for a long time, but I swear they get more ridiculous every day. I can understand why Betty Crocker, Downy and Charmin make cheesy, feel-good commercials. They think they’re playing a part in good ol’ fashioned family values, and who I am to say they’re not?  Food motivates families to gather in the same room. Moms do a lot of laundry… toddlers have sensitive bottoms… But what makes banks, credit cards and insurance companies think they should be in on the action?  Who are these people who see a sappy commercial and actually think, “Hey, Mastercard really cares!” Do they think we’re all idiots?

3. The Easter Bunny. A giant rabbit that lays eggs? Did they make that up to confuse and/or terrify little kids? I remember seeing a commercial many years ago, in which a white rabbit lays an egg while clucking like a chicken... or was it a white chicken with pink rabbit ears stuck to his head? I just remember thinking, "What is wrong with that animal?!!"

4. Obama’s openness award. First, the ceremony at which he planned to accept an award for his exceptional openness with the press was his ONLY event that day (maybe all week?) that wasn’t closed to the press. Then they canceled the ceremony at the last minute due to unavoidable, undisclosed changes in the President’s schedule. Hmmm…

5. Robert Pattinson.
 Enough said.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The tragedy of the murdered four o'clocks


In our writing group last week, we tried a one-leaf writing exercise get our creative juices going. I chose the one that said to describe something you can see outside your window. The only thing I could see, apart from perfectly ordinary tables and chairs with nothing on them, was a rather depressing potted plant. This is what I wrote:

...There's a large terra cotta planter outside. The sides are chipped and stained by years of rain and the occasional cigarette butt. Inside is the corpse of a flowering plant. The straw-colored stems rise side by side from the damp soil. They all lean the same direction, as though all bowing in shame before the same master. The leaves, now black and shriveled, hang far over the side of the planter. It looks like at any moment, the stems might admit defeat and let them go.  Maybe they died like that, clinging to their last shred of pride and beauty. The freeze must have come suddenly and without warning. There were none of the usual signals telling the stems to drop their leaves and bed down for the winter.  Beside them in the dirt, a colorful sign lies face up, showing off the splendid yellow, white and pink blossoms that once adorned this sad plant. That little sign is the only splash of color nearby, drawing the eye away from death and despair to the hope of what might live there again someday...

I hate to see planters, pots or flower beds full of dead plants. A dead plant is tragic. It suggests neglect, even if there was absolutely nothing its caretaker could have done to save it. I would much rather the pot be empty. An pot full of soil is  a wonderful thing. It speaks to me of promise and potential, offering itself as a cozy, protective home for whatever perfect baby plant with which I decide to entrust it. 

This has been a great week to get outside and work in the yard, so that's where the majority of my time has gone. Both my front and back  yards have been terrible eye sores all winter long, and it's great to finally make some progress. Before I can have green plants and pretty flowers, I have to cut away all the dead stuff that accumulated over the last few months. 

This is what most of the plants in my front yard look like now.

Almost all of my brave little pansies were killed in the cold spell, and their pots will have to be filled with something else.  I can't wait to have spring again!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Looking for Sweet Spots

             “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:10-11

I got to do something exciting tonight. The New Mexico Breeze (the newspaper I write for) has teamed up with Dan Rosecrans of Family Life Radio to present a talk entitled "Culture Under the Lordship of Christ - living a life that matters". The central question of the talk is, "What might happen to our state if each of us got outside the Church and made a difference in our community." New Mexico needs a lot of help, and though Christians want to take action, most just don't know how. There's a terrible lack of information, and that's where our paper comes in. What if your main news source gave the same attention to anti-abortion efforts in New Mexico as CNN gives Charlie Sheen? Tonight was our trial run. I was there to help behind the scenes and handle new subscriptions.

To help people find a niche in which to get involved, we invited local organizations to come and set up a table at the event, so that they could generate interest for their specific causes and get people plugged in. Not all the organizations present were Christian. There was a table to sign people up to be trained as poll challengers, one for the New Mexico Tea Party, and one for the Center for Family Justice. I think they were surprised by the number of scripture passages in Dan's presentation, but no one seemed put off by it. Also in attendance were:

  • Wings Ministry (an outreach to families of inmates)
  • Concerned Citizens for APS Reform
  • Family Lifeline
  • 5 Stones (raising awareness of human trafficking)
  • Goodwill 
  • International Students, Inc.
  • The Albuquerque Prayer Transformation Council

The turnout for audience was smaller than we'd hoped, but the responses of everyone who did attend were very encouraging.  People kept coming by my table and thanking me for my involvement in the New Mexico Breeze - saying something along the lines of, "We've needed something like this for a long, long time." I'm not sure what they meant by this. A newspaper that prints the stuff the Albuquerque Journal won't touch? or maybe by this, they meant tonight's event - Christians and non-Christians gathered together to do something!  It was very exciting to see the audience and representatives of all 12 organizations mingling, discussing their causes with one another and exchanging contact information. Those of you who know me know that standing around talking to strangers is probably my worst nightmare.

Strike that. Being eaten by giant cockroaches is my worst nightmare... Standing around talking to them doesn't sound much better.

But this I really enjoyed. I spent a good 20 minutes talking with Ann Sweet of Wings Ministry. Their goal (apart from the obvious assistance such families might need) is to keep the kids out of prison by providing them with life skills like literacy and manners, instilling confidence, and teaching them about Christ.  I came away with new a friendly acquaintance, a handful of brochures, and ideas about future events to be covered in our Community Transformation column. I was also told over and over by the people I met tonight that they'd heard great things about me from my boss (awesome!). Some recognized my name because they read my articles (more awesome!).

Years ago, I read a book, the title of which escapes me, by Max Lucado about finding your "sweet spot"- the thing that utilizes your talents and allows you to glorify God through your passions. There may not be much money in it yet, but I'm starting to feel like this job might be my sweet spot. Not only am I writing, but I get to write stuff I actually care about, for a paper that is not run by greed or manipulated by powerful corporations. At a preparatory meeting on Friday, my editor, Leslie, Dan Rosecrans and I prayed together that this thing would become what God wants it to become and that we would not be in the way. We all agreed that nothing would happen unless God moved. I think He will. I think New Mexico is crying out to be reclaimed.