Tuesday, August 10, 2010

sleeping dragons.

Listening To: The Cave by Mumford & Sons
Line Obsession: "And at last, the wicked queen's spell was broken, and the young woman, whom circumstance and cruelty had trapped in the body of a bird, was released from her cage. The cage door opened and the cuckoo bird fell, fell, fell, until finally her stunted wings opened, and she found that she could fly." - from "The Cuckoo's Flight" by Eliza Makepeace

Hey lovelies! I've been MIA for a couple of weeks, and while this is mostly due to my lack of good prioritization skills ... I'm going to blame it on the heat. Don't get me wrong ... I love where I live. I've moved around enough to know (to hope) that this is the state I want to be in forever and always. It fits me. I'm wild about these mountains. I like the way they surround me and the way they shatter sunsets across the sky. I'm obsessed with the way Fall sets this place on fire. But summer ... ugh. The humidity makes me grouchy and delirious. Somehow, as I've made my way through this yuck-o humid summer, I've been yanked away from blogworld. I have missed you dearly! To add injury to insult, Google is being finicky. Everytime I try to comment back to you on old posts, Google growls and eats my mile-long comment. I think The Goog is aware that I sometimes cheat and use Yahoo as a search engine instead. We're trying to work things out.

As it happens, some very cool bloggy topics have fluttered across my mind in the past two weeks ... I just haven't written about them. And so I've made a list affectionately titled ...

Things I Should Have Blogged About but Didn't

1. I should have blogged about something deep and meaningful ... like summer television shows. No doubt, you know Project Runway is back on Lifetime. Eight seasons in, and I'm still smitten with this show for two reasons in particular:

Uno.) I heart Tim Gunn. I think he seems so talented, distinguished, and kind. Also, I think he's an incredible mentor. I have a theory that teaching is probably the hardest job in the world after parenting. I don't know how teachers teach anything and still leave a classroom sane. I've wondered, in particular, how difficult it would be to teach art. How do you help a student hone in on their unique view point, voice, medium (whatever you're working at) while still helping them improve? How the heck do you teach a subject that is subjective? Just considering these things makes me feel dizzy. Great teachers are fab. I think Tim Gunn is a great teacher.

Dos.) Project Runway always makes me think about all the similarities different creative processes (processi?) have in common. The glorious moment of epiphany. The joy of creation. The mind-suck of trying to edit. The moments of self-doubt. The boot-kick-in-the-face rejection. (Poor Nicholas. How sweet was that guy? I cry too when I get rejected.)

And yet! There is also that glorious, sometimes fleeting, but oh so welcome, moment of victory. There's that moment when you know you are really, truly doing what you love, and you're actually succeeding (sort of), and you're sooooo close to making it even more of a reality in your life. Maybe you finally understand your voice, your view point, your point of reference. Maybe someone you admire sees talent in you (and tells you about it!). Maybe someone makes a connection to what you've made, and then they actually take the time to write and tell you about it. That whole creation process is painful and wonderful and makes for such good TV. Make it work forever, designers!

And then comes Top Chef. I still don't have a favorite (maybe Tiffanie? I like how she's so calm and no-nonsense in the kitchen, don't you?). I don't care for this cast like I did last season, but the show is still fast-paced and fun. I love it when they have 10 minutes total to make a dish and they still manage whip out some classy-amazing concoction full of words I can't even pronounce. I particularly like it when they use "truffle butter," but only because the word sounds so fun when spoken aloud.

(Did you just say "truffle butter" out loud? Doesn't it have a cute ring to it? My niece and nephew aren't allowed to say "crap" so I've tried to stop saying it. "Truffle Butter" was my choice word for awhile, but it ended up not working out so well.)

And then there's my favorite show of the summer - The Next Food Network Star. I am unabashedly Team Aarti. She's engaging and talented and so pretty. I like that she's sweet without being saccharine. I like that she's intelligent without making me feel stupid. I don't particularly enjoy cooking, but when I watch Aarti, I want to learn how. And though I haven't eaten much Indian food, it looks delicious. She makes me want to try more of it. And when asked who she would invite to a dinner party, her answer:

"I have to go with Jesus, too, because he's a great conversationalist and always brings the best wine."

Rocks my face off! I wish we were friends but I'll settle for watching her future Food Network show (and buying every cookbook she ever releases). Aarti Party all the way!

Are you watching anything fun this summer?

2. I could have blogged about the famous actor who was in my city last week. I don't want to post his name, because I don't want to get swamped with spam in the comments, but I shall give you clues:

Clue #1: He didn't make it back to the portkey in time.

Clue #2: He sparkles.

And he was here, in my city, filming new scenes for this movie.

So The Rogue Accountant and I started talking about places an actor might go in this city - where they would stay, where they would eat, what they would do. I love this town all to pieces but I can't imagine it would be much of a draw for swanky Hollywood types. This place is a more understated kind of hip, like some wonderful, little secret the South keeps tucked away in the curve of a mountain.

Still. The Rogue Accountant and I made various predictions about The Big Handsome Movie Star's whereabouts. As it happens, the nightly news pretty much tracked every move the poor guy made. We totally should have made a Bingo game of it because we were spot on. Crazier still, my brother came [-----] that close to an actual sighting. (A fact that means zilch to him but I think it's cool!)

Most every Saturday night, my brother goes to a certain restaurant downtown with his hipster work friends. (Sing with me: sometimes you wanna go - where everybody knows your name!). He's taken me to the same establishment because he believes the chicken fingers are awesome (we're nothing if not classy when it comes to picking eateries) (I also think he takes me because he finds it humorous. The restaurant sells cigars and has a bar, so you have to be 18 to go inside. And I always have to show I.D.) (Confession: now that I'm ebbing ever closer to the big 3-0, I hug people when they ask to see my ID). The Chicken Finger Stogie Emporium (not actual title) was not on my Movie Star Bingo Card because I didn't think celebs liked to chillax at places full of normals. Also, I don't think celebs hang out at eateries that serve chicken fingers. Last Saturday night, my bro was not at The Chicken Finger Stogie Emporium. But do you know who did go? Do you know who chilled at the bar like a normal and chatted with locals? Ugh! It would have been such a fun post if I could have said, "I know someone who saw ..."! Alas.

3. I could blog about this quote from Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybles.

"I fear for too many believers, spiritual discipline turns into a straightjacket experience filled with requirements that squeeze the vitality and spontaneity and adventure right out of faith and life. For these people, Christ no longer brings freedom. Religion becomes a heavy burden. Most people can't live this way for long. Some of those who really work at it develop such a self-righteous attitude that everyone wishes they would fail." (p.43, paperback edition)

The quote hit me square in the heart because, to some degree, I really love tradition. Specifically, I like tradition in the church. As I meander through my 20's, I keep finding myself pulled back toward denominations with more observances, which is very much not the kind of church I wanted to be part of as a college student. I think this is because something about tradition and participation feels very sacred to me (or maybe because I grew up in a denomination without much of that). At the same time, I know (also from experience) how easily all this can become rote, how easy it can be to disengage from a message, from service, from my Bible, from prayer. I don't want my faith to be somebody else's words. I don't want it to be made of meaningless actions. But I also don't want it to become so chummy-chummy that I miss the overwhelming impact of it all. I don't want to cheapen grace in my life. That's a balance I'm always re-learning, it seems. I want to engage with God personally and authentically with my whole heart. But I also want to be more disciplined; I want to know how people pray, and how they worship, and how they live. I like spontaneous but I like order too. Push and pull. Push and pull.

4. I could blog about taking Biscuit for a walk down by the lake. Biscuit loves car rides. She loves to explore. Thus, the lake leaves Biscuit in a perpetual state of tail-wagging. She's also convinced every person we pass wants to be her friend (and really ... who wouldn't want to be Biscuit's friend?). Two kids asked me if they could pet her and, though I warned them she would lick them within an inch of their lives, they decided to take their chances. Have I shown you Biscuit's summer haircut? Please prepare to squeal:

5. I could have blogged about the vase full of flowers I found on my nightstand a few days ago. And how gorgeous they are. And how much they make me smile. Sometimes ambiguity is key though ; )

6. I could have blogged about my most recent Ichiban fortune: Your horizons are about to be broadened considerably. I'm of the firm opinion that Ichiban (my favorite local hibachi eatery) is somewhat magical. The fortunes always come true in some weird (often funny) way. I'm excited, and terrified, to see what "new horizons" might entail. My friend Kristen's fortune read: A dark haired woman will give you a special gift. I'm even more excited to see how her fortune works out. Like any good friend, I'm hopeful this mysterious, dark-haired woman will be mildly crazy.

7. I could have blogged about the fact that Paperdoll is now available on Kindle! Yippie! You tech-savvy types can download it here. (Also, if you're on the sort of budget that requires digging change out from between the couch cushions just so you can afford a Taco Bell run ... you can find some uber-cheap bargain copies of Paperdoll on Amazon right now.) I have some fun Paperdoll related posts planned for September (to celebrate year one!) so stay tuned for that too.

8. I could have blogged about Mumford & Sons. This song makes me want to use lots of !!!'s. "The Cave" begins, and I clap excitedly. "The Cave" ends ... and I push replay again and again. The Rogue Accountant introduced me to Mumford & Sons (no surprise there). FYI: I have almost talked Chase into doing a playlist feature here on the blog. *fingers crossed*

9. I could have blogged about how my ever classy and hilarious writer-friend Jenny B. Jones received two (2!) ACFW nominations. One of the nominations comes for Just Between You and Me, which was one of my most favorite novels released last year (in any genre). I cannot tell you how many times I have 1.) loaned my copy out or 2.) Bought it for people. I get excited about passing it on. If you still haven't read it, but you love smart women's fiction - I can't recommend it enough. I'm kind of jealous you get to read it for the first time. Typically, I have a hard time connecting with Christian fiction. Jen's books, however, are wonderfully real - full of struggles I can relate to, and girls who are smart and modern, and guys who aren't over idealized but still strong. Ugh! Now I want to read the book again ...

10. I could have blogged about playing the stars. The Rogue Accountant and I drove over the mountains a few nights ago.

And the mountains looked kind of dangerous that night,
with the full moon shining down on them.
Like a hundred sleeping dragons, all settled up against the skyline.

We rolled the windows down
(this is a necessity during summer).
We turned Ray LaMontagne's "Be Here Now" up as loud as we possibly could
(without breaking the speakers).

I stretched my fingers long and pretended
that I was tap-tap-tapping against the stars,
as if those stars were some big piano
stretched over the curve of the earth.

I could write about how I think it's sometimes necessary to let yourself go like that: to drive over the mountains, to breathe in the night sky, to play star-strings that tangle back and forth across the universe. Maybe, sometimes, the music needs to consume you. Maybe you should let the wind wrangle your hair a little bit. I could write all these things, but I'm afraid they might come off a little too dreamy (or a little too cliche). I guess some moments are meant to be written about, while others are just better lived.

All the same,
I hope your summer is full of wildflowers
and starlight songs
and sleeping dragons.

Thanks for being so patient with me while I try to get some work done over here. :) I would love to hear about what's new in your world! And for those of you who are back to school this week ... *hugs!*. I hope this is your best year ever :)


  1. your blog never fails to brighten up my day!

    I'm getting ready to head home from the Middle East. When I came here at the end of May, I brought my copy of Paperdoll with me. An MK I know was at my house visiting and she saw it and asked about it. I let her borrow it, and I thought it was cool that your book came all the way over here to the Middle East! :)

  2. I agree with you on topchef. I don't have a favorite either. I did kinda like Andrea but then she had to pack her knives. :( in my opinion this hasn't been the best season and i don't think there's the one person who's just an AMAZING cook like last season. but that's ok, it's still tons of fun to watch! me and my mom always watch it at night together. :)

    So i started Paperdoll last week and I'm in love. It's beautifully written and it's really challenging me! At first I wasn't sure if I'd like it or not because I've read so many things with a similar message. But I decided to read it anyways because I love your writing style and I was wrong! It's not like any other book I've read, it's a lot deeper! And I love your questions that go with different songs in the back. Pretty much I love everything about it from the hot pink cover to the stories inside. write more please!

  3. I'm for Aarti too. My sis loves to cook so we watch it, and she loved Brad and so she's still mad about him getting off. I love Aarti because she's unique.
    I heard about (said superstar) coming to our state. My oldest older sister freaked, but didn't go. I personally don't like him and think he's ugly, but I loved the clues you gave. Very funny and clever.

  4. I was recently introduced to Mumford & Sons, and I think they're great! I love music like that. :)

    I also love the last part of what you wrote. Nights like that are probably my favorite thing ever, and I always want to write about them, but like you said...it always seems too dreamy or cliche. Then it just upsets me because it's like it cheapens the whole thing. Heh! (You writing about it, though, made me even more anxious to get back to Tennessee in 3 days! I miss the mountains!)

  5. I love Project Runway for the exact same reasons! I am convinced that if Tim Gunn met me, we would become fast friends. As far as Top Chef, I suppose I'm rooting for Tiffany too. She knows her stuff but still seems like a decent human being.
    I'm a huge Mumford & Sons fan! I hope they play in Nashville soon so I can swoon over them.
    And as someone with a constant backlog of blogging ideas, I think this was a wonderful way to convey a lot of thoughts/ideas/hints when you're short on time. Well done!

  6. I cannot help but smile when I see you have a new blog up. Also, you are now responsible for my new obsession with Noah and the Whale AND Mumford and Sons.

    Your discussion of worship, prayer, and discipline is very interesting to me. I come from a very traditional church. As a child, tradition was all I knew. I recited everything just as it was worded every Sunday. Now that I've seen several other styles of worship, I often miss and need that tradition back. But... I so wish it just wasn't so contrived!

    It's a difficult balance.

    You are dear!

  7. I have not been watching any summer shows. Boo. :(

    So am I right when I say that mystery man was in town when I was??? That would be pretty sweet. :)

    You and your brother are two of the coolest people. You remind me of me and my sister, how close you guys are. It makes me smile! :)

    Yay for Jenny! I loved that book and am buying it for my BF Jill for her bday!

  8. Haha, Mr. Sparkles was where I live too. Three of my friends saw him, but of course I was in Florida at the time.

  9. I have really missed your posts...I was so excited when I saw that you had a new one!

    I also find myself drawn to tradition in church. My church isn't extremely traditional. My grandparents' old church was, though, and I wasn't very fond of that much ritual. Almost two years ago, my cousin got married in a Catholic church, and it was the first time I had experienced anything like that. In a way, I sort of liked all of the little observances. But I can definitely see how it can become routine (and sometimes even meaningless).


  10. I was quite excited about said star being so close to my wonderful, tiny town that I will refrain from naming :] I love how I understand all the local references and can identify them all, since we live in pretty much the same town and all. Lol.

  11. I'm with you on the tradition stuff. The older I get, the more beauty I see in it, but I also see people surrounded by it just going through the motions. It's difficult to find the balance sometimes. I look for churches that have a creative balance between the traditional and contemporary, but all ways help me worship God. :)


    PS) I want to hear more about this rogue accountant!

  12. Katie, that is so stinking cool that Paperdoll went with you to the Middle East! Love it! Thanks so much for telling me :)

    Courtney, know what you mean about Andrea. I felt that way about the guy from Nashville too ... I think a few chefs got into some twisty situations this season and went home way before they should have. I'm liking Tiffany a lot though. Thank you SO MUCH for saying so many kind things about Paperdoll. I hope you enjoy the rest of it : )

    LF, your comment about YouKnowWho made me laugh :)

    Brittany, I will gladly assume responsibilities as spokesperson for the mountains and say that I am sure they've missed you too :) I hope you have a great start to your year!

    Leigh, I would flip if Mumford & Sons played in Nashville! I came [---] that close to snatching up some Ray LaMontagne tickets but I didn't care for the venue. I feel like, with his music, it's so much more fun to watch in a smaller setting. I know the Ryman is flooded and all that but I don't like the idea of RL in a stadium. I passed. I'll probably regret it. I'm definitely going with Tiffany after tonight. I like her attitude.

    allysonkate, you described it perfectly. It is such a difficult balance. I think the fact that we're concentrating on how to balance things is a good sign though. I really want to find some footing in the middle but that's not always easy. I'm glad you understand :) (Love your profile pic!)

    Steffanie, he was here when you were here! That would have been totally hilarious if you randomly bumped into him on your way through TN. I should have warned you so you could be on the lookout :)

    Paris, did your friends see him at the Stogie & Chicken Finger Emporium?! :) ( ... I think there are more locals who read this blog than I realized. If so, that's super cool.)

    Thanks Kristin :) I like what you said about the Catholic church. I have a friend who grew up Catholic. She eventually moved to a different denomination - and at the time, she did it because she felt like she was more concerned with observances than actually having a relationship with God. But she said the thing she missed most is the reverence she felt when she walked in the door. That's cool that you picked up on that same thing. I bet that was a beautiful experience.

    Beautiful Dreamer, you are local too?! I never realized there were so many locals. :)

    sunnydaydreamer, love that you're working to find a balance too. I think you have a very mature perspective of what worship can be. I always have to remind myself of that - that if I'm not into it, it is typically because I"m choosing not to be. Like you said, there is so much beauty in both. I'm glad you enjoy hearing stories about The Rogue Accountant! I keep trying to talk him into actually using that slogan on his business cards ;)