Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sierra rocks my world

This little note from my dear niece Sierra says it all. The crazy thing is that I know she just sat down and did this all by herself--no prompting or anything. Honestly. My sister, her mom, was just like that. I remember her writing these crazy entries in her journal when she was probably 8 that went something like this:

Today is MY day. Today everything is going MY way.

And she would go on and on. I love the confidence, the excitement, and the love in this style of writing--the firm expression and delight and hope in life.

And I'll scan and post the valentine Sierra sent me this year. It seriously made my whole month, just like this card.

Translation: Dear Jenny You are beautiful as spring time flowers! And as refreshing as the rain! Love Sierra!

Monday, February 19, 2007

There is nothing like the Finish Line Flourish. My roommate Jessica and I ran the George Washington Birthday 10K on Saturday. We laughed about paying $22 to run in 19 degrees cold, up and down, up and down a stretch of Eisenhower for 6. whatever miles. The course was supposed to wind through Old Town Alexandria or somewhere cool or something, but the recent snow storm created problems and left ice everywhere. So we literally ran a double loop up and down. It made things with the fast runners a little interesting--two police escorts created a nice path for them in the middle as they finished the race.

My favorite part is always the finish line. I don't know where the energy comes from--somewhere deep inside me--whenever I see the finish line. This course was a little tricky because I saw the finish line twice, but it was only the REAL finish line the second time, so the finish line flourish didn't happen until then. But this surge of energy comes literally racing out, and my legs just start moving and the rest of my body has to keep up with them. The blood courses and the oxygen pumps and I feel like a mighty moving machine. It really takes a lot of energy, usually when I'm the most spent, and I sometimes wonder if I'll be able to keep it up all the way through to the end. But I always do. And I'm pleasantly surprised at how strong I am and fast and how real my hidden energy reserves are. If only I could pull those out in the other areas of my life...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

There is nothing like a full tank of gas. I'm talking literally, here, though of course there is a moral lesson. No, I'm talking about real life--being a student, not having a lot of money, trying to make every penny count. Part of that means really hoping for good gas mileage. And calculating every new tank. Lately I've gone down by up to five miles a gallon. I even got new tires--which weren't really in the budget, but extenuating circumstances (read NAIL) called and it really was time. Unfortunately, my spiffy new Costco tires haven't solved the gas mile problem, and I really didn't think I was pushing it too far with my low gas this morning. I think my car barely crawled into the gas station--my favorite in Fairfax, with usually much lower prices than elsewhere.

Luckily, I made it. Now I know, my sweet grandmother has always worried about me and has taught me to always have a half tank of gas in the same breath as to tell me to say my prayers. And I've always kind of laughed that off, thinking I'm a poor student and that I live paycheck by paycheck. Plus, there's something adventurous about living on the edge. But mark my words, there is nothing as beautiful as the relief that comes after I do make it, and my tank is full. I mean, with a full tank, I could drive all the way to Jamestown and most of the way back. Or just last about a week and a half on my student budget.

Last night, when I knew my tank was very low, I drove with my cousin and aunt on a little night tour through the District. We took my cousin's car so the boys' car seats would fit in the back, but I drove because I've been here the longest (and I can proudly drive into the District without getting lost). I noticed, though, driving my cousin's car, that her tank was full. And I realized how safe I felt. It was a huge relief--I knew that I could handle driving anywhere--or at least be clearly safe to make it to a gas station and refuel.

So yeah, I think from now on I'm going to follow my grandmother's advice.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Yes, it's true... it's official... it's a snow day. I have lived 32 years of life, a majority of them in Utah--the Intermountain West and the Everlasting Hills--and I've lived through the Blizzards of '05 and '06 in New York City--never a snow day among them. I move to Washington DC, there's a 1/2 inch of snow and the threat of ice, and after driving in to work for the afternoon, all evening classes are canceled. It's brilliant!

Part of me thinks it's wimpy. I want to protest. I've tromped through two feet of snow to take finals at BYU, and two feet of snow through the streets of Harlem to get to church. I've gone running in Central Park with a wind chill of 4 degrees (thanks to vaseline slathered on my face--it makes a great wind retardant). I've driven through the Rockies with 5 feet of snow (granted, I-70 was plowed). Where are the guts and muscle of the people of our nation's capital?

On the other hand, I'll be honest. I'm delighted. I honestly think it's a blessing--a true tender mercy. I'm exhausted and I don't know if I could make it through 2 1/2 hours of Clio 2 Digital History, then drive 20 miles home on an inch of ice at 10:00 at night. Instead, I am going to sit at home. I am going to read The Making of the English Working Class (I know, I know--you're all going to run to your nearest Amazon.com to order your very own copy!) for my Thursday class, and I'm going to actually watch a movie! On a week night! And go to bed early! I am so excited.

Meanwhile I look out the window and drink in the snow. All 1/2 inches of it. Maybe there'll be more in the morning--and maybe there'll be ice on the trees. I can't wait to wake up and see. Maybe work will be canceled tomorrow, too!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Oh, the comfort of food. Southern food. Southern comfort food. Last night my good friend Sue invited me over to her house for dinner. We're both so busy: she's a lawyer for the EPA and I'm a full-time graduate student. We see each other in passing at church and try to catch up as she runs up to play the piano for Primary and I rush off to our New Member meetings. So she invited me over to her house so we could catch up.

I think it was the nicest thing anyone could have done for me yesterday. Wednesday nights are the only weeknights I have without class. Of course I try to cram everything else in--yesterday I had a haircut and a paper due, not to mention work and reading like a mad woman. I didn't have time to even think about making dinner. Sue made, from scratch, oven baked fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and biscuits with strawberry freezer jam. And for dessert: cookies with oatmeal, chocolate chips, craisins, and cashews. Delicious. The warm food, the conversation, the combination of tastes--I felt well taken care of. It was delightful.

I think food does wonderful things. I love that as a culture we look to food for healing--when a new baby is born or when someone is sick or has passed away, we take over a plate of food. If we can feed someone something warm and tasty, we can contribute to relieving burdens. Of course there's always the strange concoctions that you really don't want to eat (why do we make so many casseroles?), but for the most part, food always tastes better when someone else makes it. One night recently my little brother wanted some leftover chicken noodle soup, and he wanted my mom to warm it up. She was busy--but Josh insisted that it always tasted better when she did it. So he brought her into the kitchen and physically moved her hand to ladle soup into a bowl and push the microwave buttons. It was definitely more work than it would have been to just do it himself, but I think he wanted the human connection even more. Of course Mom laughed and loved Josh and his quirky ways even more.

One of the kindest parts about my meal last night was that Sue packed up leftovers for me to eat today. I have class until late at night, so three days a week I end up packing both lunch and dinner. Today I'll have some fried chicken. I won't ask Sue warm it up for me, but I will remember her sweet service and effort to feed me. And I'll eat every last crumb. It'll give me the energy to get through a long historiography class tonight. So I think I'm hungry right now...