Monday, February 26, 2007

Why I Hate Northern Michigan

So I was in a little accident yesterday. Despite my intuition telling me to do otherwise, I decided to venture out on the crazy icy roads. For the first little while, things really weren't so bad. Then, quite unexpectedly, the roads became very icy, and visibility was signifantly diminished. However, I could see well enough to see the person in front of me very quickly reduce speed. I attempted to do the same and lost control of my vehicle. I soon realized that my only option was to continue forward, and rear-end the person in front of me, who had come to a nearly complete stop. Or, I could attempt to avoid them by veering toward the shoulder, and hopefully hit a snowbank.

I did neither. My vehicle veered to the right all on its own, thanks to the blessed ice beneath my wheels. I avoided the driver in front of me, but ended up hitting the parked county cop's car. Yes, I know...of all the vehicles to hit, it had to be a police car. All in all, that may have been the better option. Had I hit a citizen's car, I not only would have been given the civil infraction for VBSL, but would have possibly been facing a civil complaint from a disgruntled citizen. As it was, the officer was very nice, very understanding, and nearly apologetic as he wrote out my ticket. It could have been much worse.

My vehicle sustained very minimal damage, and is still driveable. The damage to the car was so minimal, I'm not even sure I'm going to pay the deductible to have it fixed. It's already a hoopty car, and now more than ever. It is quickly becoming a redneck cadillac.

My body, however, is feeling every bit of the 40 mph impact. My neck and back are wrenched out of place, and I am in significant pain. I missed one day of work already, and it looks like more time off will be required so I can get the treatment I will need.

While everything has turned out fairly well, I am feeling a little frustrated. I was finally in a place where I didn't feel I was treading water financially, and was even ahead of the game. Now, between paying for my ticket and missing work, I am once again behind. I am trying not to feel too discouraged by this. I know that God has a plan, and I will see it unfold beautifully as time goes on.

Right now, though, I am going to take some ibuprofen and hope for the best.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Slightly Overweight Tuesday

So, starting tomorrow, we're all supposed to give up our vices. Everything in our lives that proves to be a detriment must go on the chopping block, and one of them will not come out alive. But who am I kidding? Not being Catholic, I do not observe lent. So today is just a day with a built-in excuse to eat high-fat, high-calorie pastries.

I suppose that if I were serious about giving up a vice that was difficult to surrender, it would be the vice of selfishness, or the entitlement, or self-righteous faux-virtue. My paramasturbatory tendency to lick my injuries and mentally rehearse all the things I would like to say to those who have hurt me is far more damaging to my spiritual nature than the tendency to enjoy too many desserts or drink too much coffee. I look at people who are overtly sinning and think, "Well, at last I am not like THAT!", all the while nurturing my entitlement to be angry and thirst for revenge, which I have labeled justice. I have stopped smoking cigarettes, choosing rather to poison my soul with a steady flow of justifications, arrogance, and selfishness.

It is funny, really, when I have to face the reality of who I am as a person. I talk about wanting to get involved in a ministry someday. The truth is, though, that I jealously guard my time and space. I do not hesitate to tell anyone how important it is to me to have time to do the things I want to do, and that I do not easily sacrifice that time for anyone or anything. Ministry is about giving, about dying to self, about being poured out and spent. Sacrificing the temporal for the eternal. I say this is what I feel called to. And I do. Yet I also realize that such a calling does not come without a price, and that I will need to pay that price if I am to be faithful to what God has put in my heart to do.

The fact is, living alone, I have a lot of time for me. Tons of it. Too much. I have become very selfish with it, in fact. My desire for independence has become a tendency toward anti-socialism, and it seems to be ever more so the longer I am alone. I see the value of community now. The question is what is to be done with this new understanding?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Stop the bleeding

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The basement shower

I feel clean now, and that is a glorious feeling. I have spent the better part of the day with a thin layer of grime covering my body, and I cannot put into words how glorious it feels to wash it away. I spent the night at my parents' house last night, and woke up this morning with the intent of heading home after spending some time with my family. Being very particular about showers, and generally preferring to shower only in my own shower if it is at all possible, I opted to wait until I got home to shower. I can tolerate a certain amount of uncleanliness, if I know I will soon be able to shower at my own place. I'm a bit of a shower snob, I guess you could say.

However a shower at home was not to be mine, and I was tired of feeling grimey. I needed to be cleansed.

I utilized the basement shower at my parents' house to accomplish this. I am trapped in Bellaire right now, a victim of a northern Michigan winter. I want to be home, in my own apartment, where I would be able to sleep in my own bed. It is nights like this that make me remember ever so clearly why I hate northern Michigan, and why I would leave in a heartbeat if the right opportunity came along. Of course, I say that now, but I would probably not be so cavalier about it if I were to be given such an opportunity. There are things about this place that I love...more than the things I loathe...and it would be difficult to tear myself away from those things.

But, I digress. Back to the shower.

I think everyone who has a basement should have a basement shower. There is something very stark and poetic about the basement shower. In its own way, it does put life into perspective. The basement shower tends to be very simple, assuring that your need for a clean shower, soap, shampoo, a wash cloth, and a towel are met. The basement shower rarely houses the fifteen varieties of shampoo you may find in the every-day shower, not to mention the assortment of body wash...each serving to pamper your skin in a different way, with a different fragrance. The basement shower does not offer such complications. The basement shower, finding glory in simplicity, often offers you one thing...that being, a way to get clean.

I wonder how much easier my life would be if I were to use the same approach. Rather than complicating life with seeing fifteen varieties of truth in the every day, instead seeing only what life has handed me, and enjoying it for what it is. I often blame it on my Pentecostal upbringing, but I have this bad habit of attaching spiritual significance to things that, in truth, aren't all that significant. This has brought so much confusion into my life, and a lot of pain. How much easier life would, in fact, becoming...with the "basement shower" philosophy. Life doesn't have to be so hard. In fact, I would say God never intended for it to be that way. I often wonder what He thinks of how complicated some of us make life. God gave us life for the purpose of being lived. I don't think He ever intended for us to live in the bondage of over-spiritualism, slaving under the tyranny of a delusional faith.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Taking it back

So, I did something wonderful last night. I unpacked the few boxes I had packed in anticipation of the life-changing event that never materialized. The few things I had packed were primarily books and DVDs, but having them tucked away in boxes that weren't going anywhere made me feel like my entire life was in transition...which it clearly was not. As I took these things out of the boxes, I felt like I was unearthing part of myself that I had buried away.

I am enjoying this season of rediscovering parts of myself that I feel I had...misplaced...over the last couple of months. Things that make me who I am, but that I was all too willing to minimize or attempt to obliterate completely, in the spirit of moving toward what I thought I wanted in life.

I am finding that I sit comfortably somewhere between hippie and beatnik, and that I love being in that place. I am never going to be comfortable with the bourgeois, and that is okay. I am more earthy than refined, more Dollar General than Macy's. I am never going to be the type to strive after creature comforts, orchestrating my life to assure that I will have those things. I am very much a "fly by the seat of your pants" kind of girl, and I am feeling wonderfully good about that these days.

In March, I am going to be taking a creative writing class...which I have time to do now that I am not doing paralegal studies. I've wanted to take a creative writing class for years, but never allowed myself the joy of doing it, because it wasn't "practical". I am at a place now where I think that being practical is, for me, boring, and I would much rather do what is in my heart to do. I love to write, more than just about anything else I could be doing. And it is to this end that I will invest my energies during this season of my life.

God is so good. Isn't it wonderful that no matter how far we may roam, as long as we are sincerely seeking His will, He always brings us back to where He meant for us to be?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Finding true north

(I am feeling very ill as I write this, so please excuse my foggy thoughts. It's almost nap time...)

Which way is north? To find the answer to this question, you might take out compass and wait for the needle to point to the "N". Or, you may take out a map, and let the map tell you which way is north. Both of these methods (Magnetic North and Grid North) would tell you which way is relatively north, but neither of these would point you to "true north". True north is the direction that points directly to the north pole.

For the sake of discussion, let's say that we're looking for our "true north" in life. While I do not fully understand all the differences between true north, grid north, and magnetic north, I do understand that the differences are significant enough to throw you off course if you are looking for true north. Simply going "north" may not lead you to the place you ultimately wish to be.

And where is that? I am in a place of finding my own true north. I think that finding your true north is about learning who you are apart from other people's opinions or expectations, or even the expectations you've placed on yourself that do not reconcile with who you are when everything is stripped away. When you get to that place within yourself where nothing matters except being true to the person God made you to be, then I think you've found your true north.

I can think of countless times in my life when I've been going "north", but ended up in a place that was only in close proximity to where I wanted to be. I've ended up in places that were good, but not fulfilling. Places that had promises of their own, but promises I realized I wanted no part of, because they meant nothing to me.

Most recently, I realized a few things about myself and my pursuit of true north. I realized that pursuing a career simply because it was one that would pay well was utterly distasteful to me. I was considering changing my college major from social work to legal assisting, and was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the classes I had taken so far could be applied toward that degree. So, I started taking classes in paralegal studies, and it did not take long for me to understand one thing: I LOATHED the idea of being a paralegal! I love people, and I want to work in a field that allows me to get my hands dirty as I help "the least of these" work out problems that most people would avoid like the plague. I have no desire to sit in a pristine office, hiding behind law books, case studies, minute legalities that mean nothing to me, and mountains of paperwork with deadlines attached. Yes, I could make a ridiculously good living as a paralegal...and be utterly miserable the entire time. I have realized I'd rather make a very modest living and be ridiculously happy doing it.

I have been exploring the idea of working in mental health again, eventually. Come what may, I cannot deny that I have such a burden for people who are working through mental health or emotional issues. I know the mental health system is utterly dysfunctional, perpetuates problems rather than solving them, and does little to encourage mental "health" of any kind. It's a broken system, badly in need of reform. Still, does that mean that those who have a desire to help should bow out and look for greener pastures? Perhaps find a way to help that does not require so much of their patience, endurance, fortitude, and ability to take it on the chin when the state decides what they're doing isn't that important? I am beginning to believe that the answer there is a resounding NO!

So, I am looking into colleges that offer a program for Mental Health Technician. That allows me to have the clinical understanding of the mental health issues, but still serve in a capacity that allows me to "get my hands dirty" in helping those who are struggling through toward wellness. So far, I haven't found any colleges in Michigan that offer such a program. But, we'll see where God leads.

You know, my former fiance told me that he believed my job at the non-profit organization where I now work was going to be a springboard toward greater things in my life. I believe he was right. This job has brought to light things that I've kept hidden for a long time, out of fear of reliving my horrific experience with CMH. I believe this job allowed me to see that I was pursuing a path that was not my true north, and shined a light on the path that was. It's really something, the way God works all things together for good.

"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do." Helen Keller

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The end

And so it comes to this. No more striving for answers. No more struggling to fit pieces together. No more creating bittersweet memories together. No more laughing to fill the silence. No more wondering if we can fix it. No more creating the illusion of happy couplehood, knowing all the while that we were living worlds apart from each other. No more of what we love about each other. No more of the things that scare us. No more.

We said our goodbyes tonight. He asked me how I felt about the idea of us being forever apart, finally and irrevocably. How do I feel? I feel numb. I feel nothing. I feel dead inside.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I am a very understanding person. I can be very gentle, very loving, very nurturing, and very supportive, to the point that I ignore my own needs and desires in favor of loving, supporting, and nurturing the one my heart loves. This is my blessing and my curse, all at once. It is my blessing to be able to be so loving, it is my curse because pouring myself out often leaves me feeling incredibly empty.

I have had several relationships in my life, each with a man who brought some measure of joy to my heart. For a little while, these men, each in their own way, helped my world seem just a little more beautiful. For a little while. But, this would inevitably come to an end when the more pressing reality pushed its way to the forefront, and the truth reared its ugly head. You see, these men all have something else in common...These men, each in their own way, needed to be loved and nurtured and supported, above and beyond what would probably be the norm. I have never known the norm, so I can't say for sure. All I know is that these men seem to recognize something in me that tells them I would be an excellent source of nurturing and support and affection, and that I would be so caught up in the joy of being able to give those things that I would scarcely notice that they do not reciprocate to the same degree...and that by the time I did notice, they would be just about done with me anyway.

I think I am the ultimate stand-in. I am a relationship stunt-double that has no rival. I am not the woman any man wants to spend his whole life with, but I am certainly good enough to carry him through a difficult time in his life, while he gets himself together in prepartion for the kind of woman he would rather be with. This seems to be my lot in life, try as I may to change it. Just when I think I've finally turned over a new leaf and I am finally going to have a taste of the dream I've cherished for so long, it turns out that it was only the same old thing, just dressed a little nicer. I think I am the ideal package for Ms. Right Now.

I have started to put out feelers for a possible move. I have concluded there is nothing for me in northern Michigan but dead-end jobs, painful memories, and constant reminders of my many failures. I don't want to play anymore. After all, there are men in other parts of the country who are probably in need of a Ms. Right Now. Everyone has a calling and a purpose in their life, and I suppose it is my obligation to fulfill mine, such as it is.

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