Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Trouble With Starting Over

In Portland, during the summers when I wasn’t working (but still getting paid, which is infinitely better than not), I spent a lot of time hanging out with my girlfriends. We’d get coffee, see a movie, go to a happy hour, or shop.

The one thing that has kept me from going completely nuts moving to a new town is that I do have a few old friends in the area, good friends from college and high school. I’m not working, Matt works from home, and we haven’t found a church, so if it weren’t for the relationships I already had, then I’d be one lonely girl. Poor lonely Nicole.

The other day, Matt and I went to lunch together. This cute girl sat across from us, and I mentioned our friend Dave should ask her out. (Never mind the fact that we no longer live in the same town; it’s just an old habit, I suppose.) Then I said that I wanted to be friends with her for several reasons.

1) We were both eating at a vegan restaurant, so maybe we have similar food habits.
2) She had bangs. There is something about bangs on a person that makes me automatically like them. It’s like we could sit around and dream about the 60s together.
3) I wanted to wear her clothes, which means she would be a good shopping friend.

I jokingly told Matt I wanted to ask her to hang out, and he laughed loudly and said NO. But seriously, how awkward would it be if I went up to her and asked to hang out? So awkward.

It’s tough making new friends. Therefore, if you are a friend of mine, please just relocate yourself to my neighborhood. It’s quite cute.
In other news, I found a piece of diced onion in my clean laundry last night. How’s that for living the domestic life?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oh, hello there.

I pumped my gas for the first time in nearly five years a couple weeks ago. I looked clumsy and stupid, too. No one was at the 7-11, so I sat in my car for a few seconds before I remembered I'm not in Oregon anymore and I had to fill up the tank myself. I got out, fumbled with the cap, and thought that I really wouldn't mind paying an extra 20 cents a gallon for someone else to do this.

We've moved and settled now, in a new town, a new state, a new climate. I actually really love our new house, the one we're renting, that’s just a few blocks from a good friend from high school. But I also really miss our old house, the one we owned, the one that Matt remodeled the bathroom, the one with the roses I cared for, the one where friends would drop by to drink wine, play games, and laugh.

There is so much about this city that is unfamiliar to me. I look at every corner with a bit of skepticism, a bit of curiosity, a bit of wonder. What will I come to love in this new place? When will I start to feel comfortable? When does this new life start to feel like real life? It's this idea of home that I can't stop thinking about.

When you move, when you uproot your life with a lot of hope and not much else, everything feels uneasy at first. Home is no longer the place on 132nd. New Seasons is no longer our local grocery store. The book on Portland happy hours that we kept in our car is now useless to us. But because of all these silly things, I’m reminded what home actually is.

I appreciate the friends who say why don't you just move back, and the families that say we're so glad you're near. But what I'm most grateful for are those moments in bed, when the lights are off and Matt's softly snoring, and the setting is so vague that I could be anywhere. In that moment, lying next to my husband, I feel such comfort because I know that I'm home; that we are each other's home, wherever we might be.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I feel like it's been a bit too serious around here lately, that's why.

Current book(s):

All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren - This was one of Matt's favorite books this summer, so it's only fair I read it. So far, so good.
An Alter in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor - My women's bible study book, and it's awesome. Not cheesy. Awesome.
And I'm not reading it yet, but I will be soon because I've made it my new tradition to reread it every Fall... Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, who I get to see tomorrow night at Powell's. YES!

I think I could write about books all the live long day. Suddenly, I have a really strong urge to teach an English class right now. Sigh.

Current Playlist:
I've been listening a lot to my mix of late 60s/early 70s music labeled Let's Start a Revolution.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure:
Okay, this isn't current, but it dawned on me the other night how some habits are just hard to break: I still watch a Friends episode every night before I go to sleep. In high school, I did it with a bowl of blue bell, so I guess I've changed a little bit. Not by choice, though.

Current Color:
My red winter coat is back out. It's actually my favorite thing about winter.

Current Drink:
I've been doing a lot of black tea lately. It's cold again, and as much as I enjoy coffee, it consistently gives me a headache after every cup. So, I've resorted to tea.

Current Food:
The farmer's market has ended. You have no idea what this does to our household every winter. We were out of town this weekend, so we missed the last one, and now we don't have any produce. I realized this this morning as I was trying to figure out our meals for the next week. When I went to the grocery store today, all I bought was cheese. I'm going to need to step it up tomorrow or else we might die.

Current Favorite Show:
Hands down, Modern Family. OH MY HELL, so funny. Please watch it so it doesn't get canceled. ABC, Wednesday nights, 9/8 central. Matt and I cry laughing every single week. SO worth the time.

Current Wishlist:
Dark, chocolately brown hair.

Current Needs:
Just give me today what I need for today.

Current Triumphs:
Having a perfectly cleaned house for two months now. Want your house to always be shiny and spotless? Put it on the market.

Current Bane(s) of My Existence:
The Jay Leno Show. I can't even fully describe how infuriated I get every single time I see him on prime time tv. I think I've even alarmed Matt with my irrational frustration. But he's NEVER BEEN funny. And he's NEVER GOING AWAY.

Current Celebrity Crush:
I honestly think I'm crush-free for the time being.

Current Blessing:
Matt and I were in the car the other day, and it was quiet and I was thinking. I suddenly burst out, "Praise Jesus for Crown Financial Ministries." I don't normally say things like praise Jesus, but I meant it. We took their class two years ago, and it was life-changing for us. Had we not taken it and gotten our finances together, we'd be shit out of luck right now. So PRAISE JESUS.

Current Outfit:
For my day-to-day... Black puffy vest and my rain boots. It's that time of year!

Current Excitement:
I'm seriously excited to see Jonathan Safran Foer tomorrow night. I hope I get a good seat... or a good place to stand.

Current Mood:
So ready to be done with this thing.

Current Link:
Feed Your Soul: Free Art.


Monday, October 26, 2009

What I Would've Said

Four Weeks Ago: We're moving to Austin, Texas as soon as we sell our home.

Three Weeks Ago: We're moving to Fort Worth, Texas as soon as we sell our home.

Two Weeks Ago: We're moving to Fort Worth, Texas Thanksgiving weekend, as soon as we close on our home.

One Week Ago: I have no idea what the hell is happening anymore.

Today: Lord, give us today our daily bread.

I've been thinking a lot about that prayer the past few weeks. I've said it angrily, helplessly, and hopefully.

Today, I feel peace, and I honestly haven't been able to claim peace in a good while. I've hit my point of weariness. I'm worn out from trying to control what I can't, so today, I sincerely mean Lord, give me TODAY what I need for TODAY. Tomorrow, I'll pray it again.

And all the while I'll enjoy a little bit of peace that comes when you trust, obey, and believe.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Guess I'm Also Wearing Heavy Boots

This morning it was rainy and gray. Yesterday our grass was green. Today, it is dotted with yellow leaves dropped by the wind. Portland has put on its rain boots, and I imagine they'll stay put for a long while.

This morning before I left my house, I put on my rain boots. I grabbed my rain coat. I stood at the back door as I let the dog run out and run back in. I followed behind her in the kitchen, wiping up her paw tracks with a kitchen towel. The rain doesn't bother me today. Today, it reminds me I know what to do. These fall days are so familiar to me. With so many things changing, familiarity can be so comforting.

After four years, I'm getting ready to take off my polka-dot rain boots and hang up my simple rain coat, the one I also wore in Northern Ireland. I'm about to say good-bye to dear friends, pass on the keys to our first home, and leave a church I love. I'm scared, excited, heartbroken, and hopeful.

So in all the chaos and change right now, it's good to know I can at least count on the rain.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Trying to Find the Humor

Friday was supposed to be a good day.

I woke up and got ready, took Matt to the train, went to my yoga class, and planned on starting my errands.

I went to Target first. I only had to get two things for Sunday school: flashlights and marbles. As I walked in, I of course started browsing the clothes. I found a really cute summer dress on clearance and, as I stood there debating its relevance to my closet, my phone rang. I threw the dress in my cart and answered the phone while moving on to get the two things on my list.

The phone call gave me bad news. Shocking, unexpected news. News that I might just look back on in a few years and laugh at how I handled it, but for that moment? It was BAD. It still feels bad.

I LOST IT. I found a corner near the maternity clothes (no connection to this story, by the way) and cried over the phone. I hung up, stood there for a moment, and thought ok, you can do this. Just two items to get. I made it to the toys department and started looking for marbles, all the while crying. I thought I’d gained control of my emotions, but then I started doing that hiccup thing, and snot was running, and I’m sure mascara was around the perimeter of my face. I know I should have immediately left the store, but I kept telling myself two items! You can do it! Buck up, bitch!

Only I couldn’t find the marbles. I started to look for someone to ask for help but stopped about half-way down the aisle. I was in no condition to talk to anyone, let alone ask someone for MARBLES.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for marbles.”

“Why, yes. You clearly look like you have LOST THEM.”

At that realization, I did what was best for everyone and left the store, marble-less. Seriously, could I have been looking for anything more appropriate??

(And if you’re concerned about the bad news, thanks. Pray for peace. Lots and lots of it. We’re okay with some Jesus and some peace.)

(Also, on Saturday I found some marbles at the dollar store.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lessons in Prayer

The beautiful thing that happens when I teach preschoolers is that they end up teaching me. A few months back, I was in the preschool room, which is really a section of a basketball gym, making my teacher rounds by playing trains, drawing flowers, putting a baby doll to sleep. I walked over to the reading corner where two of my favorite girls were sitting. The first girl, Pam, said she didn’t feel well. I thought to myself she probably just wanted her mom, but before I could say anything Bellie jumped in first.

“Pammy, can I pray for you?” And after Pam said yes, Bellie scrunched her eyes shut, rested her hands palms up on her knees, and asked Jesus to help Pam feel better.

And of course, I started crying. I don’t remember the last time I was humbled so fast.

When was the last time my first response to an ache, a problem, a need was to pray? Has it ever been?

So in the midst of all my unknowns right now, I think of gorgeous Bellie. Her reaction to a friend wasn’t to worry or to feel apathetic or to even be afraid. It was to pray. I want to pray. Just like a little girl with big faith.