Team Work

All I can say is that I have a whole new respect for couples that have put each other through school. This is hands down one of the harder things I have ever done. I am not talking about the course work, it is interesting, relevant and I enjoy it. I enjoy my fellow students, I love learning, and I feel like I can apply every single thing I am learning to my life.

However, the life lesson at hand is how to fit it all in. 5 classes, two different nanny jobs, homework, running, friendships, maintaining relationship, cleaning the house, doing laundry and nurturing a new marriage? I’ve spent the week on the verge of tears if not in tears due to sheer exhaustion. I just can’t seem to find a rhythm this semester that keeps me from feeling like I am always chasing far behind what I think should be done at any given moment. The result is a husband who heats up the dinner and does the dishes and laundry and comforting. Classes that get missed so that I can stay home and do homework. Emails and phone calls that go unreturned and breath that does not get caught. Ever.

I know that I am in the right place and that this is the right decision. I know that many women do this alone, and with children. They are stronger women than me.

I am so thankful for J right now. It’s all I can say. I absolutely could not do this without him.

Back to my paper. And kuddos to all you guys out there on the same journey. It’s a good one, but a steep course!


Winding Roads, Change and Comedy

Dear Readers (all 4 of you),

Well, with the new schedule I am re-adjusting again. ROUGH. I think I am realizing that there is a need to recognize that this is the way of life for me for the next few years… It’s so weird to think about. Every 5 months new classes, new schedules, new adjustments. I added a class and the honors program to my load, as well I started a new job and added and extra day of work. I didn’t think that adding one extra day, and one extra class would require so much extra effort. I realize as well, that age and perspective don’t totally eliminate procrastinating tendencies, this is only achieved the same way everything else in life is, dedication and hard work. So I am upping my commitment and trying to stay ahead instead of just on target. I saw a blip of someone speaking the other day reminding me that doing things in the moment saves you time in the long run. So here we go. It means that I tumblr more and blog less. It fits my current schedule much better, so if you’re wondering about me in the day to day then you can keep up with the randomness of my thoughts here.

Return of the Jordi sent me a hysterical email this morning that concluded with this;
Who would have ever thought 10 years ago that you would be married to an arkansan, a democrat, living in Boston, applying to [colleges], and applying to fitness jobs. Really?!

SERIOUSLY J – good perspective. How the hell did I get here? Well, I got here as part of the journey. I always thought I’d be in some third world country dodging grenades and loving on people. I have to say that probably J feels like he’s living more of that loving while dodging grenades life… Bahahahaha.

Let me just say, I did not picture myself married to an Arkansan. I mean, it’s not as bad as someone from Oklahoma. As you know I am a Texas girl, and originally when dating someone from Arkansas I thought it was God rewarding Snigs for all the times I put the bumper sticker with a Texas flag on it, that said “I wasn’t born here, but I got here as fast as I could!” on his car during church… But then I realized it was actually providential love for me. Because J is a dream and he is the opposite of all the things about marriage that scared me. I love that man. And Lord knows that all that Arkansas is part of what makes him who he is. I have to also say that the thought of holidays near Mimes, Snigs, Baby E & any of their future children makes me cry. A gift above and beyond.

A Democrat. This is a highlight most accented by the time I was trying to explain to my father that the Republican party had a heart for the poor and needy, they cared about the ‘social’ issues I was concerned with, they stood on ‘my side’ on these particular issues. He slammed his hands on the table, listening to my reasoning and yelled, “YOU ARE NOT A REPUBLICAN.” (how right he was, oh how right he was) This is the man that stands me in front of his 8×10 glossies signed from all the big name Dem players, puts his arm around me and declares, “This is your inheritance.” And he is serious. It used to bother me, now it amuses me, and in light of the New Year’s card we received from Obama, it makes me incredibly grateful. In truth, I think it was watching AM&UK live their life, be active and kindly, patiently and intelligently argue the delicate issues with me in a SAFE PLACE. I also have to give a shout out to my Uncle who is a priest who would talk through the sensitive religious issues with me, abortion, homosexuality, separation of church and state. Love my family for those things. My hope is not in a party or in politics, however, democracy is contingent upon our willingness to be educated about the issues, the constitution, and then to VOTE.

Boston. Good Lord. If I was going to live anywhere other than Texas is was going to be working on behalf of the needy. HOW DID I GET HERE???? I will leave it at that. Still working through my mid-winter blues. Did I mention it’s 40 degrees today. 50 degrees tomorrow. SIXTY DEGREES FRIDAY! Back to cold for the weekend, but I’ll take all the warm I can get.

Applying to college in New England. Home of the Ivy League. I can only shake my head. Never would I ever have imagined. It still feels beyond me. I never thought I would finish school. EVER. I just didn’t think I could. For a million reasons. Many legitimate. You know how it happened. By doing it. Like AM says. Put your big girl panties on and do it. Presto. College applications.

Applying to fitness jobs… SERIOUSLY. I watch Heavy and Hoarders to keep me in check. I am a nut. But I believe in health, and as my dear friend Sarah is a beautiful advocate of, holistic health. Mind, body, soul. Get on the health train. I am working on my mind and my soul, but am proud to have lost the weight and kept it off. Now for balance.

Sometimes I wonder how I ended up here and I think, oh maybe it was where I failed here, or things didn’t work out here. Nope. One foot in front of the other. I didn’t get here by making good decisions, not failing horrifically and publicly, or by great successes, but I did get here one blind step at a time. And though there have been parts of the journey I was not that thrilled with, and that were full of tears and fear, I am so deeply grateful for this moment and this place. Like AM says for every mile on the road there’s one in the ditch, and that’s not cynical, that’s real. There are highs and lows and they don’t mean life is good or bad, just that it’s real. Good and bad, beautiful and ugly. That’s what makes it life. So keep your bearing and laugh at yourself. A healthy ability to laugh at yourself will keep you truckin’, that and the new iPhone app – HeyTell.

HeyTell, Psalm 37 and Bedside Blogging

WHO HAS BEEN KEEPING THIS APP FROM ME??? The best thing about working the LL Sams project was that my foreman of the project, Toothless Tony and I would communicate almost exclusively via Cell/WalkieTalkie. The only problem came when I was in a public place, and would inadvertently leave the “phone” in my purse and suddenly there would be the DOUBLE BEEP, a look of horror on Jordan’s face and then TT seemingly screaming “StephNIE? YOU THERE???” Damn, I loved that phone. Worst day ever when we left those for the Motorola Razor, my last phone before moving to the Data age… It seems like years ago, it was. Anyway, HeyTell has turned my cell phone into a virtual WalkieTalkie. Boo currently looks like he wishes he were washing dishes for no money after a meal for 300 5 year olds… However, Lee and I definitely just laughed back and forth multiple times with NO WORDS, JUST LAUGHTER. Priceless.

I was reading something recently about a couple here in town that people thought were so different because they dressed to the nines and then marched off to Church instead of Brunch every Sunday morning. I immediately related and then realized, our church is at four in the afternoon, and even in Boston, most people are moving by then. As well, for our neighbors to notice I am pretty sure we’d have to average more than once a month, which is what I am managing on a HIGH month. Seriously. Boo makes it more often than me. I generally have either run myself into the ground, procrastinated on some project for school, or simply can’t make myself go. I just never imagined being that person. Whose husband goes to church while they sit at home.

Today two things happened that helped me realize the DEPTH of the situation that I am in. For those of you who don’t know I started going to All Saints Episcopal around 11 and never really looked back. I made a decade long soiree into the Non-Denom section, but waltzed my way back into the Anglican community post-Berlin. I thought the return would re-build some of the seemingly annihilated bridges of trust in the leadership of such organizations, but it simply hasn’t. How do I know? The level of righteous anger I feel when thinking about what I have seen/experienced in the years I had away, how much compassion I felt for Paul Haggis as I read the New Yorker article about him leaving the Church of Scientology and how he just took the easy road instead of fighting and going through all the motions of their required rehab when you voice concerns, and finally tonight on the treadmill when I was reading the news about what was happening in Egypt and the President’s REFUSAL to step down pre-election despite the fact that an ENTIRE nation was rising against him, there has been cautious and gentle reprimand from men who obviously hold more authority than him, but refuse to publicly slap him in the face… and all I could think was, “I know how you feel Egypt, and I can tell you this, Mubarek will not relinquish power, so if you don’t like it you might as well say goodbye and move on.” Please note that I have never lived in an oppressed nation (well, Uzbekistan) in my life to have feelings of relate-ability. This is born of circumstance. I am no victim. I left. But my goodness at what a cost. What a cost. I got my husband, and a few thousand miles closer to my family, but I am pretty sure it cost me years of my life and some optimism that I once had about believing that you really can change the world with the best of intention and the right heart…

All that to say, in my monthly attendance of church last Sunday the responsoral Psalm was 37. I was dying laughing next to Lady A and emulating the GNASHING OF TEETH every time it was mentioned. I thought she was going to LOSE it. It was so funny. However, here are some of my LITERAL and EXACT responses at the Psalm was read (I wrote them down to prove my bitterness and need for some therapy to myself…)

1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;


2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

mine already did…promises, promises

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

What am I? A goat?

4 Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Hmmmm. We’ll see

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:


6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

I could use some noonday sun… I am pale as Casper the Ghost.

7 Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;

What choice do I have?

do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

What about when they don’t even know they are wicked?

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.

I am one evil son of a %&$*# (I am only not typing this because of linkup)

9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

I don’t want land, just a parking space (and for my upstairs neighbors to sneeze more quietly and stomp at more reasonable hours)

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.

Because I am pretty sure that it is me I hope this is not true, but if it is, they say He is Just, so I guess I had it coming.

11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.

That rules me out and what about that whole “the kingdom of God is violently advancing and the violent take it by force…” I am just saying. I’m noticing some conflicting inerrant text here.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;

Gnash Gnash Gnash – what the EFF is gnashing. this is so ridiculous, no wonder people think we are crazy. Talking about munching on grass in fields and GNASHING of teeth.

13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

That’s what that incessant laughing I hear is…

14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow

Who even uses a sword and bow anymore outside of Sarah Palin’s Alaska?

to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.

Shaking my head, you are losing me, too many verses.

15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

Damn, kick a dog while he’s down.

16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;

I’m not going to lie, the lottery sounds like a sweet deal to me.

17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

in His mighty right hand, good to know what the Lord’s dominate hand is. Wish we could get this whole Judgement Day thing settled.

18 The blameless spend their days under the LORD’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.

I am pretty sure this is not as motivational to me as it was intended to be.

19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

Um, OK…

20 But the wicked will perish:
Though the LORD’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.

UGHHHHHH, so freaking harsh. I thought you were all into the lilies of the field.

21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;

I do both.

22 those the LORD blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be destroyed.

Again, all I can think of is my parking space

23 The LORD makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;

I don’t even know what this means.

24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

I am pretty sure I fall daily and that salvation is the continual process of being saved.

Now, I know that many of you will find that wholly offensive but remember it on your dark night of the soul and you will be comforted that you are not the first person to question the Lord your God.

All that to say, I like my iPhone Apps more than the 37th Psalm, and I can understand them a little better as well. And even as I lay here in bed blogging while HeyTelling my friends, and teasing my husband about how much he loves to hear what I’ve been texting all this time there is a stack of books next to me filled with the wisdom of wise sages that have asked far more difficult questions than I. Nouwen, Piper, Lewis, Tozer, Manning, Haggis… Sometimes you need to press into the difficult and not be afraid of the hard, and sometimes you need to let deep call out to deep. And sometimes you need to press “Hold and Speak” on your HeyTell app and do nothing but laugh knowing that if C.S. Lewis, Ghandi, Tolkein and their peers never got it all straight, it’s unlikely we will either.

Update on Baby H – Thoughts and Prayers Please

Our friends Sam and Sarah will take baby H. in tomorrow to have his eye removed, and hopefully every bit of cancer. They are scheduled to begin the surgery at 7:30 a.m. Just as the second wave of snail (snow rain sleet and hail) are scheduled to hit. Obviously they are full of mixed emotions, glimpses of thankfulness and waves of sadness. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you.

Snow Big Deal…

This is what I came out to after class today. I went in at 8:30 after a dicey drive in. I live 7 miles from campus, it takes no less than 45 minutes many mornings. During each class I thought that they would cancel the next one… Not so. Thankfully my Management professor was terrified to drive home in the weather, so she sent us home. Look at the teeth he grew while I was inside learning

Hahahaha. Scary huh? Not as scary as the drive home. EEEEEK. I saw so many Texans posting on terrible driving, road conditions etc. Let me just say that I saw multiple accidents on overpasses where seasoned New England drivers had spun into the walls or snow banks. I have 4wd, which is literally the only reason I got out of my school parking lot. Lots of people were STUCK.

I don’t know if you guys remember, but my landlord loves to compare me to the wife next door. She does a lot of shoveling, trash taking out, and manual labor (according to Mr. Lee, last time I saw her she was going to get a pedicure…) Anyway, I was reminded of this when I walked out of school and realized I have never had to clean my car off, because Boo does this for me. I managed. Thankfully this is a fluffy friendly snow.

When I finally made it home, never, ever exiting 4wd, I entered the house and began watching people struggle up and down the road. One of my cutey college age neighbors tried to drive up the slight hill that is our street, which had not been treated or plowed in a couple of hours. Needless to say her little Mazda was not doing well. So I went out to help her. I know. It was really sacrificial of me, in a neck-brace and all. Don’t worry, it ended up just making me look really good, because before I could begin to try to think of some way to get her car out of the mess she was in, the people that the people across the street pay to do their snow shoveling were there. Digging her tires out and flagging down sanders. I ended up being more of a friendly cheerleader.

This is actually a great improvement from the parking space war that has been going on this week. There has been an exchange of passive aggressive notes, the stealing and discarding of hard worked for parking spot. I created a “location” on Four Square entitled “Parking on &*%^$# Street Sucks Because People Steal Your Spots and Space Savers.” We are literally less two trash cans, a book shelf and something else that I am forgetting. We may have also completely forsaken any hope of friendship with the next door neighbors renters who were the recipient of our notes reminding them that the spots they were parked in, previously held a bookshelf indicating that we’d be back for it. A practice that 99.7% of our street for blocks and blocks is participating in. Except for the .03% that steal, demolish or remove your marker and help themselves to your spot with an entitled

I am currently ending this blog post as I spent the past two hours digging Justin out of a spot. We eventually got pulled out by a neighbor, who in turn could not find a place to park, so I drove him to a parking garage. The snow is making friends of strangers. Friends of the 99.7% participating in the communal love.

Friends in the South, Some Winter Weather Advisories

OK, I can see on Facebook that you are all freaking out. SEVENTEEN DEGREES IS FREAKING COLD. So I thought I would offer you a bit of advice I’ve learned over the last few years. As Markus, David and Christoph so enjoyed me saying, EVERY TIME I slipped on my boots on the cold Berlin winters, “You can take the girls out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the girl.” And the part you can’t take out, is the part that likes WARM weather.

So, here it is:

For every 10 degrees below 40 add an additional layer of clothing. I choose tights. Here I have fleece lined tights, but you guys don’t have time for that. So, go into your drawers. You may not know this, but you can layer tights. Today when we woke up it was 11 degrees, so this is what I wore.

1) 2 pairs of tights
2) 1 pair of fleece lined tights
3) One pair of skinny black pants from the gap – wear something tight knit or HEAVY jeans. I have no idea why, but the tighter the pants the warmer.
4) I wore a long sleeve under shirt, a turtle neck from Zara (to say that it was lighter, not some heavy bulky ski tn) and then a sweater.
5) Wear your ski socks. Trust me. Smart Wools are the only way I survive.
6) I wear wellies or snow boots, but we have 60 inches of snow outside. Just remember when you’re pulling on those boots you bought at anthropologie that when you walk in snow or get out of your car that snow has been treated and will ruin your suede or leather, even if it’s been treated. So leave them inside and get over your fashion. Wear your rain boots. With wool socks. And then you can feel like a rock start when Perez shows Kate Hudson in the same outfit leaving the Grey Dog.
7) If you are a runner put your running gloves on under your normal gloves, believe me.
8) Wear a hat. I generally only give into this when it’s 20 or below, but no matter what it does to your hair, your ears and body temp will thank you.
9) Be prepared to look like the kid in a Christmas Story. In so many layers, once you put your coat on, putting your arms down is only a dream.
10) When you are cursing the weather Gods remember that this weekend when it’s 60 for you our high will be 30 if we’re lucky… UNTIL MAY. I am pretty sure you can handle a day or two of it.

Love your bitter, cold and slightly amused friend in Boston.

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