Wednesday, August 30, 2006


It's been a hellish week at work. In fact, I'm not entirely skeptical about Hell being very much like my job has been...It's only Wednesday, and I've already put in 42 hours. Still two days (at least) of the work week left...yeehaw!

I am constantly being assured that this is not going to be the norm, once we get the plant up and running without problems. We will have a set schedule, we will not be working these insane hours, and I will actually be able to have a life outside of my job. As it is, all I am doing lately is working, sleeping, and a little blogging here and there.

I miss my niece. My mom and sister tell me that she asks for me often. It's breaking my heart. She just doesn't understand, and how do you explain things like this to a two year old? :(

I'm so tired.

Monday, August 28, 2006


It is my third night in my new place, and I am realizing the truth of Patrick's matter where you go, there you are. It's funny how insecurities do not seem to change with the scenery. They are alwasy there, always the same. I didn't really expect to find anything different, I suppose. I am just amazed by the tenacity of the intangible things that follow me.

Nevertheless, I do love my new apartment. It is tiny, but already it is feeling very much like my own space. It is a wonderful place to come home to. It is a quiet place, excellent for thought and reflection. A great place for fellowship with good friends...though only one or two at a time, because that is all that will fit in here. I am still amazed that this has all come together for me.

It's odd, the things I'm going to have to grow accustomed to. I am so used to driving significant distances to work, church, etc...I'm finding that I simply do not know what to do with my time now that I don't have to do all that driving! I wouldn't say that I miss all the driving, but I will say that I do not know what to do now that I don't have to do it. It's just so weird.

It only took me three minutes to get to work this morning. I am still smiling about that.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sweet Emotion

It is my first night in my new apartment. I am completely exhausted, but I am wonderfully happy.

It is strange, starting this new chapter in my life. I am fearful, wondering if I can do this, wondering if I can make it work. But, I am also confident that I can make it work, even if it might be difficult at times.

There are some things I'm already missing about my old place, though. One of them is coffee. I do not have a coffeemaker, and my parents do. I miss the coffee. Right now, I want coffee.

But, there are other things, too. I feel sad when I think about not being able to see my sweet little niece every day. She is very much the light of my life, and I feel such an emptiness when I think about not being able to watch her discover more of this world every day. The world is new to me when I see it through her eyes, and I will miss that view.

One of her newest things is her "tiny bit" stories. She enjoys "reading" stories to all of us, and a few days ago, she started telling us "tiny bit" stories. These stories she precedes with, "Okay, tiny bit!". She then tells us a story that is about one sentence long, then says "All done!" and giggles as she closes her book. This happened just a couple of days ago, and it is a great memory to take with me to my new place. I will miss hearing her tiny bit stories.

Overall, though, I am very happy to finally be moved in. It didn't go perfectly, in that all of my things could not be transported in one trip, and what was moved got wet because it rained today. But, the point is, I am here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Things I will not miss

Moving day is Saturday, and as my time in this dwelling is quickly drawing to a close, I thought I would take the next few blog entries to write about the more remarkable moments of my seven years in my parent's nicely finished basement.

Among the many things I will not miss about living here, this "ucky bug" pictured below is probably among the most prominent:

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These disgusting creatures are camel crickets. I only just learned today what they are called. How timely, wouldn't you say? Anyway, these creatures have terrorized me for the last several months, and because I did not know what they were (and had a heck of a time finding out), I did not know how to get rid of them. My solution? Upon seeing one, I would grab my trusty Clorox Clean-Up, and douse the vile beast with it, watching gleefully as it died.

So, how did a two inch long insect terrorize a full grown woman? Well, to begin with, I am not a fan of bugs at all. There are some I can tolerate better than others, but overall, I prefer they just leave me alone. If they are outside, I will leave them alone, too. If they are in my house, they are fair game for Clorox treatment.

Anyway, as I began to tell you, they would often terrorize me by showing up in my shower. My dad recently put in a new shower, and I am happy to say they have not been fond of it. However, in my old shower, it was nothing to find two or three of them in there every morning. I got into the habit of checking the shower before I would step into it, usually by opening the door and standing back, lest one of the disgusting things jumped out. And they are excellent jumpers, by the way. I've seen them jump as far as 18 inches in one leap.

As though the shower were not enough, they would often walk nonchalantly through the hallway near the bathroom, as though they had the right to be there. I am in the habit now of turning on the lights and checking the hallway and the bathroom before going in. I cannot tell you how much these little things have kept me on my guard all this time. It's rather amusing, when I think about it. But, most of the time, I prefer not to think about it, and just kill them when I see them.

They only like to stay on one side of the apartment, that being the side of the apartment that is actually in the ground as any proper basement should be. That side of the apartment is where my bathroom and my bedroom are. My kitchen, living room, are happily camel cricket free, because they are above the ground and therefore do not offer the dark dampness that camel crickets adore.

Blasted things...I am looking forward to having an upstairs apartment, where camel crickets, in all their disgusting glory, will not dwell. I am sure there will be other things to contend with, but surely nothing so horrifying to me as these dreadful things. Right at this moment, I feel like they are everywhere, and I'm afraid to get out of my seat to go to bed. It is after nightfall, and this is when the little beasts become most active.

Only four more nights here. Thank God.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Old Habits

So, I went out today and bought a pack of cigarettes. I have to say, it was like having coffee with an old friend as I took in that first drag of toxic air. It's a terrible habit, but all things considered, it is certainly not the worst thing I could be doing to cope with my present state of mind.

I am in s state of apathy. I am tired of caring about so many things, and if I can't feel any better even when doing all the right things, I figure...I might as well do at least one or two things that I KNOW will bring some relief, even if it is just momentary. I am just so tired.

I can just hear the lecture I'd be getting from my family, if they were not out of town. It will be beatuful to move away from this place, and not have my every decision questioned. I'm 31 years old, and should not have to explain to my parents and my sister why I choose to smoke, or drink Nyquil to help me sleep, or whatever.

It's how I'm coping, and all things considered, it's really not that bad.

Okay, on to other things....

Interesting Things I've Found While Packing:

And that's that. Looking at this list, my life is pretty boring. Just cluttered.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The heartbreaking commonplace

I really like that term. It's from C.S. Lewis's book "A Grief Observed", and as soon as I heard it, it really struck a chord with me. I haven't pieced together why it so resonates with me, but it does, and I'm keeping it.

I have been feeling heartbroken lately, though for no one particular reason. I feel as though I am somehow two people...One Stephanie is a competent, steady, responsible person who has, for some reason, been given a lot of favor lately in the way of work, housing, etc. People like and trust that Stephanie. That Stephanie is looked upon as being dependable, reliabe, and capable. That Stephanie likes being seen that way, and responds well to it, feeling confident and competent, able to handle whatever challenges are thrown at her. That Stephanie walks into work with a smile, works hard throughout the day, maintaining a "take charge" attitude, necessary to get the job done. That Stephanie is confident with her friends, able to maintain a conversation, tell a joke, and somehow, shine just a little.

But, there is another Stephanie, one that few people see. That Stephanie...the real always there, always under the surface. I've learned not to show too many people the real me. There are only a handful of people in this world you can trust enough to let them see you as you really are, and I've learned through trial and error that there are not many people who want to know the real me. Or, the other me. The other side.

The other side of me is desperately sad most of the time. Especially lately. I feel always at the edge of despair, as if any small thing could be the thing that is enough to push me over the edge and bring an end to this terrible mess called life. On the other side of who I am, there is the yearning for finality, the sense of despair that comes with waking up every morning, facing another day. Another day, like so many other days, trying to keep the desperation and the sadness at bay long enough to get through a day somewhat productively. Another day of wrestling against the darkness, trying not to be consumed by it. Another day of aching to just hide away in my bed, sleeping off the sadness.

I've had so many days like this over the years. So very many. There does not seem to be anything, and certainly not anyone, that really helps bring an end to the desperation which threatens always to swallow me whole. Lately, I ache to cry with red tears again, but I get tired of people asking me about the wounds. It's much just keep it inside than it is to lay it all out on the table in the hopes that someone will understand. I don't even understand it, and can't expect anyone else to.

As I anticipate moving, I am hopeful that some internal changes for the better will come with it. Yet, I realize I cannot move away from myself, and this scares me. I always seem to find me, after awhile, and I find that I am no different than I was before I made the decisions that were supposed to change my life. Whether I live here or there, have this job or that job, this relationship or no relationship at all, I am still myself...and much of the time, I utterly despise myself, and there is no getting away from that.

It can't be right, this dread of looking in the mirror or hearing my own name. The thing that has haunted me for as long as I can remember is rearing its ugly head again, with a loud roar and a hungry sneer.

Hello, beastie.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm wide awake, I'm not sleepin'

I have to be to work in about 7 hours, and I've yet to have any sleep tonight. I've got so many thoughts racing through my head right now, I can't seem to find that state of restful peace needed to get a good night's sleep.

Now that I know I am actually going to move, I'm very eager to get on with it and actually make the move. I am going to sign my lease later today, and after that, it's going to be all I can do to patiently wait for time to pass.

There is a lot to be done between now and moving day to keep me occupied, so there is no worry that I will have to pass the time in idle anticipation. All of these tasks will also go a long way in keeping my mind off of all the questions that come with this next chapter in my life.

I am well acquainted with failure in many areas of my life, and I have failed abysmally in my attempts to live out from under the protective umbrella of my parents. Sure, I've learned many lessons since my last attempt several years ago, and I'm not at all the person I was then. Still, those memories loom large in my thoughts, and they are a good part of why I am still awake right now.

I did not work last week, because there was a lapse between the end of cherry season and the work they had for me at the new plant. Hence, I will not get a paycheck this week. So, money is very tight. These financial constrictions have me concerned about what is to come next week...the week of the move...which then leads me to think about what will come in all of the following weeks, and how will I manage, and what if I can't, and yadda yadda yadda. Worrying about things over which I have so very little control...

I will get through this week somehow. It will be a lean week, but I'll get through. God has not failed me yet. And, I'll get through next week, and the week after, and the week after...Even if everything was certain today, and I had a good paycheck coming, and I thought I knew what was waiting around every bend, there are always the unseen and unplanned things that can thwart even the most certain of plans. We are always living at the point of needing God's grace and provision, we just don't realize it most of the time.

So here I am, once again finding myself in the place of need, with the realization that God is going to provide for me somehow. This sort of thing keeps me humble, and helps me to remember that when all is said and done, there really is so little that I have any control over. Once again, I have to leave it is His capable hands, trusting that He knows my needs and He will provide in His way, in His time.

Yet somehow, knowing this is not helping me feel any more sleepy. I wonder what it would feel like to just give it all to God, and never take it back.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Do you remember when...

As I've been packing up my residence of the last seven years (my parents basement), I've come across so many things that just make me stop and remember for a few minutes...Things I've held on to for a year or two, maybe longer, because they were so significant to me at the time.

I found some old artwork...paintings, drawings, sketches...some of which was not half-bad, most of which I will never show to anyone. I decided I would put these things where I put all things of this an old footlocker I've had for about ten years, where I store old journals, letters, and anything else of sentimental value that I can't really part with, but have no practical use for.

When I opened the footlocker to store away my artistic efforts, I could not help sifting through the contents.

The first thing I came across was a leather-bound journal from about three years ago. My words were words of despair and utter heartache over a broken relationship. This particular relationship was the longest relationship I've yet to have, and it spanned about two years. Thinking on it now, I am eternally grateful that it came to an end. Back then, though, I felt such an emptiness and loss, somehow not seeing how terrible the relationship really was, and the deep wounds it was leaving on my soul. It's funny how time changes our perspective.

I skimmed through a few other journals, and sadly found that I've not grown very much in how I perceive myself. In my old journals, some of which date back to when I was "just" a teenager, I perceived myself as being disgusting and unworthy of love. I still so very often feel like that today, at 31 years old. I guess there are some things that time itself does not change.

Among the more interesting discoveries in the footlocker was a half-smoked La Diva cigar. As I looked at this cigar, which I had put back in the glass tube it came in after I finished smoking it, I remembered so vividly the night my best friend and I sat on the boardwalk at Round Lake in Charlevoix, smoking our cigars in delicious rebellion against everything we were told we should be. It was late at least 10:00...and we truly believed we were stronger than we were told we could be. Those moments of smoking, burning haze were moments of incredible clarity...not because we were smoking, but because we were being something other than what we were told we had to be. As I looked at this cigar, I ached for those moments.

It occurs to me that the half-smoked cigar is only a few years away from being as old as I was when I smoked it. Time is relentless.

I am not sure why we chose cigars over cigarettes. I think we were in a phase where we wanted to be anything but the norm. Every rebellious teenager smokes cigarettes. We'd been there and done that. I am guessing we somehow thought cigars were less expected, therefore more rebellious, in a sophistocated way.

I continue to uncover treasures as I pack up my life here. Some of the things I'm finding bring back painful memories, and I am eradicating those items as quickly as I find them, not wanting to take that trigger with me when I go. I am ready for a fresh fresh a start as one can have when they cannot get away from themselves.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Winds of Change

When I woke up Thursday morning, I was feeling a sense of despair. Perhaps not despair so much a sense of being stuck. Overwhelmed with the knowledge that, despite my packed boxes and my restlessness, I was not going to be moving anywhere, anytime soon. I was looking at my life packed up in brown egg boxes, dreading the unpacking of these things, and the sense of failure that would come with it.

Unwilling to accept defeat so readily, I made a few phone calls, investigating the possibility of getting help from the state so I could make the move. Again, because I do not have any pressing issues that make it vital that I receive help, I was denied.

Then, my sister asked me if I had looked into borrowing against my student loan. This idea had not even occurred to me, but it was worth a shot. So, I went to campus to pick up my books, then went by the financial aid office to ask about borrowing against my loan. I was told that such an arrangement was not possible. However, if I could work it out with my landlord, I could arrange to have my student loan check deposited into his bank account.

This certainly was not the answer I was hoping for, but I called my potential landlord with the information. He and his wife are very kind people, and he asked me what was keeping me from moving in. I explained that because of how much it had been costing me to commute back and forth to work, it had been very difficult for me to save any money. He asked me how much I would be able to give them, and I told them I could give them only about $200. This is roughly $400 less than they typically need to allow someone to move in. Amazingly, he said that they could take that and work out a payment arrangement for the rest. He offered to meet with me on Monday to sign the lease, work out an arrangement, and get me moved in so I could start saving money on fuel and whatnot. I was amazed by his kindness, and we set an appointment for Monday.

A short time later, I met with my sister, and explained to her what was going on. As we talked things over, we worked out an agreement in which she would help me get the right amount of money to my new landlord, and just take the payment out of my student loan.

I called my new landlord with the news that I would be able to meet their requirements for moving in, and he was thrilled!! We are still set for Monday, at which time I will be signing the lease and setting a date to move in.

I could not be more pleased or amazed with how this has worked out. I am again amazed by God's grace and goodness. I am truly humbled that He has opened this door for me, so unexpectedly. What have I done to merit His favor?? I can't think of anything.

I am so excited as I think of what this will mean for the next chapter of my life. I've got a good job, a great place to live, I'll be taking classes...moving forward, in every sense. The "stuckness" is coming to an end, and I can hardly believe it!!! This is what I have been waiting for, FOR SO LONG, and now here it is!!!

I honestly am having a hard time wrapping my mind around it. This entire situation, with the job and the apartment and the way it all came about, is so much better than anything I could have asked for. I keep waiting for someone to tell me it was just a dream, and I need to snap back into reality. But this IS reality, and it is just another testimony of the amazing way God takes care of us.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I am feeling better today. I've made peace with my humanity, accepted that I'm prone to have shortcomings now and then, despite my best efforts not to, and that I am okay with that. I'm not always going to get things right, and I will never be perfect. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Life keeps moving along, despite my faltering.

I interviewed today for a key position in the fruit drying plant that is opening up in a couple weeks. It is going to be a sort of extension of the juice concentrate plant I've been working at the last few weeks. They are currently in the process of hiring laborers for the new plant, and they are taking the best of the best from cherry season to fill the most desirable positions.

When I first learned of the opportunity to continue on with the company in a full-time, year-round position that offered benefits, I was thrilled just with the idea of not having to look for another job. I had heard rumors that it was not going to be an ideal place to work, in that it would be hot, there would be a lot of "garb" to wear for food safety reasons, and it was not going to be as much fun as it had been the last few weeks. Still, I've been through enough this past year to know that just having a job of any kind is something to be grateful for, so I wasn't going to complain or pass up the opportunity.

As the cherry season came to a close, it was mentioned to me that I was being considered for the Quality Assurance Tech position. I really didn't think a lot of it, because nothing was certain, and there have been a lot of changes happening as the new plant comes together. However, today, I was called in for an interview with the QA Manager, and was given the job. I am very, very happy about this, because it is a secure job, and it is something that will utilize my abilities far more than a job on the production lne would have. There is a lot I need to learn, but I love to learn, so it's all good.

After the interview, the QA Manager and I went to talk briefly with the woman who oversees the hiring being done at both plants. She was the person who recommended me for the job, and when she explained why she thought I would be a good choice, I was surprised.

She explained that she was most impressed by my positive attitude. She said she knew there were a lot of things I had to do and a lot of things I had to put up with during cherry season that weren't a lot of fun, but she never heard me complain. She said I always remained positive and upbeat, willing to do whatever needed to be done, and always had a smile on my face.

Knowing the internal conflict I felt when I first took the job, I was amazed to hear these things coming from her. Yet, I also acknowledge that it is by the grace of God that I was able to maintain such a good attitude throughout the last few weeks. I really did have fun with the job, and I am eager to get back to work next week.

You just never know who is watching you or what they are looking for. You never know how much your attitude alone is going to be a testimony to God's presence in your life.

When I started working there, I decided that if my job was going to be to pull leaves, twigs, and stems out of the cherries as they came down the line, then I was going to be the best leaf-twig-stem puller they had. After a series of events that turned out to be unfortunate for my coworker but a bonus for me, I was given the job of doing inside receiving. I decided I was going to be the best inside receiving clerk they had.

There is no job associated with processing cherries that can really be considered difficult. In fact, it can be very boring at times, because it is very repetitive. You make or break it only by your attitude, and I was determined to make the most out of what God had given me. I had no idea I was being watched, or that what the plant manager was seeing was going to put me in place to fill a key position in the new plant.

I have had the week off, which I have enjoyed. I am going back to work on Monday, not because there is necessarily a lot of work to do just yet, but they want to give me work so I can earn a paycheck as soon as possible. Why? They said they don't want to lose me to another job.

Go figure.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ugly Girl

There are some things that happen in life that tell us all we need to know about our character. These things show us exactly what we're made of, and it is not always pretty.

As I wrote about recently, I had been planning a move. The move was actually supposed to happen next weekend. Despite my reservations, which I never spoke of until about a week ago, I had been planning to make this move and start a new chapter in my life, no matter what hesitation I had.

Then, I learned of a friend who was in need of a roommate, and it offered a better situation for me. I found that situation much more appealing, and should have just said so, in order that all of us could have moved on.

Instead, I wavered back and forth for a week. I felt a sense of obligation to the first person, and incredible guilt that I could not seem to shake free from. Knowing what I knew of that situation and how great the need for a roommate was, I felt that I would be letting her down in the worst way if I didn't move in there. Yet, for a lot of different reasons, I didn't feel comfortable moving in there, and it took me a week to tell her that. I was not forthright with her, and as a result, she is hurt, angry, and feels betrayed. None of which I really blame her for at all.

As far as the second, more attractive option...I'm not even sure I can pull that off, financially. I'm also not sure I want a roommate at all. There are a lot of things I'm not sure about right now, because I've been in so much turmoil and instability of my own this past year and a half. I am reluctant to make any commitments to anyone regarding rent and so forth until I have a more stable employment situation. The catch is, until I've moved (into a situation I'm comfortable with), I likely will not have that stability.

The only thing I am sure about tonight is that I feel like a terrible person for what I did to the person I was intending to move in with. This situation has revealed a lot to me about what I am really made of, and it's not been a pretty sight to behold. I try too hard to make everyone happy, and in the end, what was intended to prevent pain only causes pain. I'm a waffler, one who wavers, one who does not know how to stick to a decision because I get too caught up in what I think other people want or expect from me, and I don't want to let people down. I get so caught up in what other people want and expect, I find it difficult to make decisions based on what I want out of life, so I remain indecisive for far too long. This is an ugly, unsafe characteristic, and now that I'm aware of it, I need to do something to change it.

As far as moving at all is concerned, it will take God's hand moving in my favor to make that move happen. I have learned that, despite the many factors that might make one think otherwise, nobody is going to cut me a friggin' swath to help me get back on my feet and out of this rut. People have helped along the way with a few things here and there, and I am grateful for that. But, the kind of help I am in need of to make it possible to get out of this hole is not the kind of help that people are willing to offer (unless you're totally destitute, an alcoholic, a single mother, or a crack addict...then you can get help. People who just need a hand to get back on their feet are on their own.) I am at a serious disadvantage with where I live, and I'm having a hard time understanding what God is doing when the only situation that is offered to me is one that I would be completely uncomfortable with. Maybe I was wrong to pass that up. I don't know. I don't know anything anymore. (Though, truly, I could not even afford to get through that door. Things are that bad right now.)

I am just tired of having no stability in my life. I'm tired of living on a rollercoaster. I'm tired of having opportunities with jobs, places to live, etc, dangled in front of me, but having them just out of my reach.

I did look at an apartment in Elk Rapids today. It's ideal, as far as how close it is to where I am working, its proximity to church, and the rent is better than I could have hoped for. But, there is a relatively small amount of money standing between me and that apartment. Once again, the carrot is dangled, just beyond my grasp.

Tonight, I feel that I need to stop hoping for good things. Maybe the place I was moving to next weekend, even with all its questions and things I was not comfortable with, is the best I should let myself hope for. Tonight, I feel like hoping for anything better is a fool's hope, and perhaps I am not entitled to the kind of stability and peace in my life that I ache for.

Honestly, tonight I feel like a terrible person, and I'm thinking that perhaps terrible people should not look for good things in their lives.

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