Dear Nashville...Let's Be Friends?

Dear Nashville,

Since I'm moving back into the neighborhood in a few short weeks, I thought I'd drop a line in interest of renewing our acquaintance. I glimpsed you in passing recently, and I decided that I should really get to know you better.
Do you remember when we first met in December of 2007? It was brutally cold as Dad and I roamed your streets, shopping for Christmas gifts in a foreign land. I'll admit we caught you at a bad time of year, but it was also rough for me then as well, as I had just left the sweet warmth of Tallahassee's company; so, let us chalk up our chilly relationship to bad timing and start afresh.
 I'd like to do away with the facade; if we're gonna be better friends, I want to be real. I know you like to show off Broadway with all its boot shops and bars, and I know you're nicknamed "Music City" but here's the thing (and please, don't take offense) but whoever said that all that music had to be Country? Do you ever get tired of the honky-tonk and twang? I'm not out to change this integral part of who you are, but I would  very much like to know the Nashville beneath the surface. Show me your hole in the wall used bookstores, your quaint boutiques, your coffee bars, and I'll visit each one in turn.
So how about it? 2014 is just around the corner; lets do coffee sometime.

Let's Be Friends?

Weekend Inventory

This weekend:
I had a visit from my former roommate (which was fantastic!)

I had a lovely long chat with one of the Bryan wives I most admire, about children's literature and families and post-graduate plans and how neither of us knew quite what was going on in the rugby game. (When I grow up, I want to be like Amy Jones. And my own mom. And Dr. Impson. And no, I didn't just throw those last two in because I know they'll probably read this; I really do aspire to be like them.)

I finally watched Raiders of the Lost Ark (of which I'd only seen the end... get that.) and realized how well my youth pastor had followed the style of the Indiana Jones movies when he made his mini-Indy movies with his kids.

I started applying for grad school... Finally. I know, its about time I got on that. Also in this vein, I learned the five laws of Library Science as proposed by S. R. Ranganathan, who is pretty much the Father of Library Science. (How cool is THAT?)
Fantastic stuff here. I can't wait for grad school. 

I was constantly reminded of the fact that as the Doctor says, "there is, surprisingly, always hope."
and as Sara Groves says "Hope has a way of turning its face to you just when you least expect it"
and as Paul says in Romans 5:3-5 "We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." 
Hope is my favorite emotion/abstract concept.

I practiced using semicolons, as I don't often remember to use them when I can, or rather, I just don't remember when I can use them.  Wait, I think I can rewrite that sentence. 
I practiced using semicolons; as I don't often  remember to use them when I can; or rather, I just don't remember when I can use them.  
Probably not doing that right, but at least I'm trying! 

I checked the following two items off my Whovian Bucket List:
  • Eat real fish fingers and custard. (actually quite good, and I'm not just saying that to sound cool. I really liked it.)
  • Watch the 50th Anniversary episode. (AMAZING!) 
I started applying for jobs back in Nashville and prospects looks bright, as I have many different avenues to check out.
I tried hard not to think about not being at Bryan next semester, but that didn't really work out.

Yeah, so that was my weekend, and since this was just random list and not an essay I'm not gonna bother to even try to wrap things up neatly.

Peace, love and happy Thanksgiving week to my handful of readers who are faithful enough to read even this mind-dump of mine. :)

Starry, Starry Night

Starry, Starry Night
Cold air bites fingers
Grasping at warm quilts wrapped tight
‘Round huddled bodies.
High above, all time stands still.
Shades of blue swirl; a star falls.

(an example of Tanka, a japanese poetic form, written for Intro to Poetry)

In which I look around my room and decide that I don't want to leave.

I'm waiting on my dad to send me mark-ups on a research paper and taking advantage of this break from work to tidy up my room. Its beginning to hit me that in just under a month, I'll have to pack everything up and go home for the last time of my Bryan career. This is a daunting thought, because living here over the summer allowed me to nest and create my "home" in a manner quite different than what the dorms allowed, and I've settled in a little too well.

 I decorate with books, so I have not only my textbooks here, but a bookshelf full of my most beloved volumes, most of which, I haven't even touched over the past year. I knew I wouldn't have a lot of time for pleasure reading, but it makes me feel comfortable to have them here, "just in case." Some are old, old friends--like Anne of Green Gables--who I pull out occasional to draw courage from. Others are new additions, like my writing shelf full of essays and non-fiction and writers-on-writing; I keep these for encouragement to continue to do what I love best.

Just as the surfaces in this room are covered with books, so are the walls aptly adorned. As you might have noticed from the picture above, the focal point is a grand retro-style travel poster for Gallifrey, the planet of the Time-Lords. This is only a part of the larger Doctor Who theme that pervades my room. Roughly a third of the computer printouts taped to my walls and pinned to the bulletin board have something to do with the Mad Man in the Blue Box. The next largest category is anything Jane Austen. There's one crossover piece though that reads,"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a mad man in possession of a blue box must be in want of a companion." Whovian-Austenites, for the win!

I've grown quite comfortable with this room, as its begun to feel the most home-y of all my college lodgings. It's hard to think that in a few short weeks I'll be leaving it behind for the final time. I've spent a good portion of my life adjusting to a new living situation, getting to know people, making memories and cultivating a sense of belonging, only to be uprooted and transplanted someplace new. It's comforting to remember that I'm not starting afresh in a brand new place this time; rather, I'm just going home to my family in Nashville. But still, I'm not the same Sarah as the 19 year-old that left home for the first time two and a half years ago, and this is going to be hard.

A Wardrobe-Personality Experiment

Yesterday I conducted an experiment with myself. My roommate had put together an outfit for me, entirely from her wardrobe, (complete with 4 inch heels) and I wore it the whole day, with the intention of experiencing the difference a complete style change affords. It takes confidence to walk in 4 inch heels, but I found that the confidence I mustered to make my way up the hill to campus, was recycled and came back to me exponentially greater. I felt like a queen as I sat through classes with my roommates cute cream-colored top and coordinating navy-shot with gold-cardigan, the only evidence of my own personal style being the worn out, comfortable skinny jeans with a neat hand sewn calico patch mending the one egregious hole.  I sat up straighter, held my head higher and generally tried to own the air of sophistication that my outfit gave me.

But despite the fun I had wearing my confidence on my sleeve...(or on my feet, if you will), I found that by the end of the day, I was completely exhausted, in mind, body and spirit.  I think that it is not that confidence is not natural to my personality, but that my confidence doesn't need to be shouted through what I wear. So this morning when I got ready for classes I reverted to my own style--the homemade flannel plaid skirt, tights and sensible brogues. I am comfortable, I am happy, and I feel no less self-assured.

The discussion of introversion/extraversion seems to be a hot topic these days, but I'm gonna dare to add my voice to the throng and say that this experiment showed me just one way that my introversion has manifested itself.  But that's just me, and by no means am I saying that all introverts dress like me or vice-versa. I generally avoid the Myers-Briggs discussion because I believe that humans have the tendency to label and pigeon-hole people enough as it is with out introducing a pyschological element to the mix. The important thing to remember is that each one of us uniquely reflects the image of God, and as image-bearers, you need to be the best you that you can possibly be.  I tell my five year old sister, who has recently developed a habit of asking, "Am I pretty?" that, as nice as it is to be pretty, it is also important to be good and kind and true.

So friend, be confident. Be beautiful. Be you.

A Momentary Lull

There are, occasionally, times when the events of my harried life and all the many hats I wear--student, sister, daughter, friend--are suspended in a momentary lull. I have to be careful, or I'll miss the being of these moments for the doings and goings that press in on either side. When I find myself in a moment where all these layers are lifted off me and I'm allowed to simply exist and reacquaint myself with the knowledge of my Father's reign , I find a deeper rest than even sleep can provide.
I've always loved Psalm 127, one of the Psalms of Ascent, of which the first two verses in The Message paraphrase read:
 If God doesn’t build the house,
    the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
    the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
    and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
    giving rest to those he loves? 

I so often forget that I can do nothing without God's help, and He gives me all the reminder I need in my little moments of being. And so, when I find myself in the lull, instead of fretting about tomorrow's big project, or the unmade plans for post-graduation, I pray for diligence, strength and perseverance to do the next right thing.

7 November 2013

I got home around 2:00 this afternoon, and while everyone else was napping or working, I was greeted by Fifth and Sixth Brothers. They came running across the field to my car; Sixth wrapped his arms about me and buried his face in my midriff, ever the affectionate one, even at the newly acquired age of nine.  Eager to show me the latest in their Lego collection, Sixth led me inside and up to his shared bedroom, where he proudly displayed the new Star Fighters, droids and other miscellaneous Star Wars sets he had been collecting. Fifth joined us to discuss what set they plan to buy next; the posters on the walls lead me to believe that Star Wars might soon be joined by Lord of the Rings. Did you know that Lego has LoTR sets? Imagine acting out the Battle of the Black Gate with Mini-figures. ("For all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Lego Men of the West!") 
Mom, up from her nap, comes down in her green jumper and fair-isle sweater, hugs me, puts on the coffee. We pull out our yarn and needles, and show and tell our latest projects: my shetland lace baby blanket (for a sweet new mother-to-be), her purple patchwork squares. We sit and work with coffee at hand.  
My sweet Littlest Sister is finally awake, and she tip-toe runs to hug me from behind as she hums in wordless contentment. Sometimes she has a lot to say, others, she can be completely mute. She wants to show me her Lincoln Log village, the train, the bank and the cabins (especially the one where our cousins Jon and Amanda live). She continues to build as she listens to Disney on Pandora. Just like her big sister, she can name most of the songs by movie within the first few seconds. I'm ever so proud. ;)
At dinner I almost laughed out loud when Littlest Sister, indignantly protested over the fact that she had to have mashed potatoes while Sixth Brother wasn't required to partake. "You're gonna have to work on that," Mom warned me; but when you're used to the company of 18-22 year-olds, the precocity of a 5-year-old can be almost too much to bear. 
We need a sign by the coffee maker that says "I'm sorry, but you must be this high to ride the coffee machine." That way Fifth Brother will know not bother to pipe up when Dad takes a head count for after-dinner coffee.
The kids sent to bed, Dad and the Big Boys put on The Magnificent Seven, one of those classic movies where (Spoiler Alert!) in the end, everyone you like dies. Its my dad's favorite genre. I sew to the noise of a rollicking cowboy soundtrack and gunshots, till its over and everyone disperses and I'm left here at the dining room table with my newly finished skirt, my computer and the cold dregs of coffee swilling around in the bottom of my mug. It's good to be home.

What is Your Life Genre?

I have a theory that everyone's life has a certain genre to it. It is seen in your personal style, the way you react to your life events and how your life has played out so far. 
Some people were born into a fairy-tale. Their lives glow and sparkle as if sprinkled with pixie-dust. Everything about them strikes the senses with the extraordinary. To them belongs the roses, ribbons, and lace. The damsel in distress gets rescued by the charming prince and after the curse is broken, all live happily ever after.
Such is the life of my roommate. When describing her to friends and family, I often fall back on "She's like a Disney princess." And it's true. The first time I went home with her, everything I had learned about her in the context of school finally made sense, for in a little town on the outskirts of Atlanta, where book-shoppes (and they ARE shoppes) are named after foxes and trolleys run at Christmastime, is a little house with a rose bower bedroom belonging to its only daughter.

As for me, I am convinced that I was born into a period drama. When people describe me, they often use phrases like, "Jane Austen", "Little House on the Prairie" and "Anne of Green Gables." Obviously, the era varies on occasion, but I've never looked out of place in dresses styled a hundred years ago. The events of my life happen slowly, unfolding over the space of several chapters and though the observer cannot hear it, there is a sweet, achingly beautiful musical score that plays in my head. Mine is the quiet, unambitious life, filled with needlework, tea, reading, and playing the instrument. I glory in a good walk, and enjoy a dance as much as the next Bennet girl. I love my family and few friends with a fierce loyalty, and I have a feeling that when I fall in love, it won't be a thing of fireworks and first-sight magic, but a slow building so that I will say as Lizzie did ,"it has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began." 

What about you? Through what genre-lens do you see your life?