Brown Events in a White World

This post is stereotypical and possibly offensive, but that seems fairly normal for me. Currently,  I plan international student events at a predominately white college.  (I say currently, because as all good blog followers are aware, I quit my job).  Anyway there are some slight difficulties planning events for brown people in a white world. For this post I will call all of my non-white Americans brown, although they represent many different beautiful shades.

1. Typical white people love deadlines, the earlier the better. They give me lots of deadlines. They want me to tell them by a certain time what my event will look like, who will be at the event, and when will they plan to be there.  Brown people hate deadlines. That is actually not true at all. They don't hate deadlines, they just consider them loose suggestions.  I think it must be very freeing.

2.  Typical white people like to know everything- in advance and in detail. Brown people are fly by the seat of their pants sort of folks.  For example white people in a talent show will select their talent  months in advance and practice tirelessly, whereas brown people call the day before the event and say, "I have decided I will perform". They have not necessarily decided what they will perform, just that they will perform.

3. Typical white people love watches. They own a watch and have it synced to their phones. They schedule events to the minute on their google calendar. Although they receive a notification 10 minutes prior to having to be somewhere, they are usually already there... sitting front row 15 minutes before. Brown people run on the -ish system; 3pm is actually 3ish, 4ish and possibly 5ish.

4.  Typical white people don't have rhythm.  Yes, some white people have rhythm, but I find it to be standard that the browner one gets the more rhythm one's got. This could be why white people have to practice so hard before they can perform.

These are just a few reasons why my job can be stressful at times. The white people want to know what we are doing, and the brown people want to just see what happens. The white people tell me when they need things by and the brown people tell me after they've changed things. The white people want to know exactly when they need to be there, and the brown people assume we will be there all day. I love both the white and the brown and all the shades in between. I love the schedule and the freedom. I love the organized plan and the happy surprises. And though the white people's deadlines and the brown people's constant changes may give me a heart attack, it always produces a good show.

Tales of the Girl Who Loved too Much

Once upon a time there lived a girl who possessed a very special magical gift. She could make people love her, not in a romantic way, but more in a genuine great friend love kinda way.  All sorts of people loved this girl, young people, old people, white people, black people, brown people. Everyone wanted her to be their friend, whether they had known her for a lifetime or for a day. But, as with all magical gifts, it had a down side. You see, you cannot possibly love back everyone who loves you, so you have to choose who will be your good friend.

And this little girl rarely chose well. 

One day she befriended a waiter. "He is a very nice and interesting young man," thought the girl whom everyone loved. The waiter invited the girl and her friends to go to a bar with him. "What a fun idea!" said the girl who loved too much.  She gathered her friends and they followed their new friend to a bar. As they were at the bar, the girl asked their new waiter friend to tell them all about his interesting and exciting life. He showed them stab wounds from his previous relationships, told stories of exacting justice on those who wronged his friends, and then told stories of felon charges he received after exacting said justice.  

As they left the bar, the waiter decided that he loved this young girl whom everyone loved. He promised to protect her with his life. "That seems such an extreme promise" thought the girl with no discretion, who then gave her phone number to the waiter with the stab wounds and felon charges.  In the weeks that followed the waiter continued to communicate with the girl. He asked her myriads of questions and told her that she was wonderful.  One day he asked the girl if she thought him a good dog.  "What a weird question!" thought the girl, as she responded with, "You are a person, silly friend!"  

"No, I am a dog.  I have no concern for my own life. I would happily die for you and protect you at all costs" said her new waiter friend. "Oh!" said the girl who loved a little less. "I think maybe, I um, hmm... should give out my number a little less freely". 

Hippie Zen-Like Buddhist Feeling Post

We all want what we can not have, well at least I tend to want what I can not have.  More than anything that I want or don't want, I actually only want one thing, which is to stop wanting anything.  Wouldn't it be great to be in a moment, fully, not wondering how you are being perceived, or wondering if by being in this moment you are actually missing out on another moment that is even better than this moment.  I can't count the number of beautiful moments I have wasted, because I was wishing I could be in another moment.  (It's like watching a mediocre show on CBS only to find out later that your favorite movie was playing on ABC and you missed it).  Man, I wish I could be in every moment and no moment all at once.

Sometimes I want you, the one person who can make this moment better or realer (also the one person who can make realer a real word).   I pray for you, because I want to be with you but can't be with you as much as I do try. So I pray for you, because I know that He is with you. 

Of course when I am with you, sadly I am still left wanting. Usually I am wanting for you to "be" with me not just with me. I want you to turn off your wanting so that you can be with me without wanting to be somewhere else or with someone else. I just want you to want to be with me, right here, in this moment.  So please turn off your wanting so we can rest in our being. Being, together, with no more wanting, whirling, waiting, just resting. Resting together, fully satisfied in this shared moment, we can silence our wanting.  That's all I really want (No offense to Cyndi Lauper, some girls just want something else which is really to want nothing else).  

This is a picture of me pretending to meditate while wondering if we should go do something  less weird?!?

Angus, Thongs and My First Snogging

Snogging means kissing in England (head out of the gutters people)

The wonderfully dramatic pre-teen novel "Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging"as well as its awesome movie adaptation "Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging" are to credit for this next extremely vulnerable post about a hypothetical 12-year-old we shall call Whitney.

Once upon a time, Whitney was an awkward brace faced frizzy headed 12-year-old girl.  While the rest of her friends were busy dating and exploring their new pre-teen sexuality, Whitney was content to spend her time writing morbid poetry, sleeping with her teddy bear, and dying her hair with Kool-Aid. I would say that despite all these things  she had a good personality, but Whitney tended to have a bit of an attitude problem. So... it came as a shock to everyone when the coolest Bad A at her middle school asked her out!!! Yes, awkward brace face was asked out. (In case you are no longer up-to-date with middle school lingo being asked out simply means you are now in a committed relationship where you talk on the phone twice a week, and never speak in public. It is a big deal).

Whitney handled her newfound relationship commitments with ease, managing to have 4 phone conversations in 2 weeks with her new boyfriend.  Things were getting serious. Two weeks means one thing for a blossoming pre-teen relationship, it was time for 7th grade consummation, the kiss.  The big day was set for Whitney's 13th birthday party. All her friends had arrived. Because Whitney went to the worst school ever, most of her friends had arrived high on a mixture of over-the-counter medicine, and were giggling in Whitney's bedroom.  The more sober of her friends were in corners around the yard making out with their significant others, because, once again, worst middle school ever! Whitney knew the moment was coming; however, she was doing everything she could to stay busy and avoid the imminent first kiss doom.

But she could not avoid forever. Whitney accidentally passed her school's own mean girl, Ashley.  "Hey Whitney," Ashley yelled so everyone could hear. "I heard you and Bad A haven't kissed yet?" her tone changing to disgust. Everyone stopped their own make-out sessions to look up at the scene Ashley was making. "Well, I, uh, we..." Whitney mumbled. "Why not just get it over with," Ashley yelled as she grabbed Bad A from amongst the onlookers. Ashley then took Whitney and Bad A by the arms and pulled them to sit on either side of her.  Before Whitney could fight back, Ashley took both her and Bad A by their necks and shoved their heads together with a clunk.  It was a blur but next thing Whitney knew Bad A was attempting to stick his tongue in her mouth! "EWWWWWW" she shrieked without even thinking! "He put his tongue in my mouth!!!" 

Silence.  Everyone was staring at Whitney in utter shock. Hmm, so maybe tongue in the mouth was normal.  Not knowing how to escape the mixed looks of empathy and shock, Whitney ran away. (If you are imagining along don't forget the braces and frizzy Kool Aid dyed hair). Whitney hid curled up in her mother's bed, the only room without any of her high giggly friends.  "My life cannot get any worse" Whitney thought. But only moments later, she was proven wrong, as she heard Bad A's best friend yelling down the hall towards her mother's room, "Hey Whitney, Bad A doesn't want to date you anymore."  

Whitney then either A. (Whose real name is actually Whitley) married Dwayne Wayne and lived happily ever after, or B. Ended up, 17 years later, living alone with her teddy bear writing modern morbid poetry... a blog. 

Your Waiting Stinks List to a More Exciting (Awkward) Life

Be still before the Lord and Wait patiently for him... (Psalm 37)

My best friends and I are all in seasons of "waiting". Waiting sometimes just sucks. Maybe God has called you to a new city where you don't know anyone. You have started over before, but that doesn't make starting over any easier. Waiting to "fit in" is hard. Or maybe God is preparing an exciting adventure for you. You see it on the horizon, the light at the end of the tunnel; only currently you are stuck in a crappy living situation or a draining job waiting for adventure. Maybe you, unlike all your friends, were called to stay. Stay in a hometown with people you've known forever praying daily for change in a culture that is fine with staying the same. Sometimes we are waiting for God to show us what is next, and sometimes we are waiting for him to make what "is" more bearable. Either way... we all wait. So to make your waiting more exciting I have, per ush, made a list :):

Your Waiting Stinks List to a More Exciting (Awkward) Life:

1. Google every coffee shop in a 30 mile area (may need to extend the mileage if you are living in the village, desert or boonies). Pick a coffee shop a day (Target & Waffle House count).  Your job is to go in like a food critique, more pompous the better, and review. Post your thoughts online.  Secrets don't make friends, but neither do bad reviews. 

2.  Find the lamest place in the lame city that you are currently living in. Make a hysterical scene out front sobbing and crying, "Why me, Lord? Why Me?"  You know that's what you are thinking.

3. Go to a Children's Museum and try to get in without kids. If you have kids, leave them with a sitter. Nothing cures hopelessness better than being accused of being a creeper.

4. Take a trip to one of your local government offices, perhaps the friendly neighborhood DMV or Post Office. Your goal, make friends with a worker behind the counter and invite them to dinner. "How can I help you today?" "By coming to my house for dinner tonight?" Don't forget, frowns are the universal sign of acceptance amongst government officials! 

5. Dance. Naked. (Preferably before Government Official Arrives... stranger danger  people).

6. Redefine Cool. Yes sitting alone on a Friday Night waiting for someone, anyone, to call is cool!

7. Learn to Code. See #6. 

8. Pray for someone else. Crazy how that makes your life seem a little less awful.

9. Call me. See again #6. 

10. Send me pictures of you accomplishing any item on this list, except for #5 which I leave between you and God. 

Center of My Own Universe?

My life is consumed with me. I wake up with me, and go to sleep with me. I spend the days thinking of funny stories to write about me. I want people to love me, and fear when they don’t. I am the center of my universe. There is a part of me that realizes my life isn’t about me, or at least it shouldn’t be.

I know that my life is wrapped in His life. He created me. He gives me life and breath. He is in control of the things that I cannot control, and, despite a life that often lives to the contrary; I know that He is more important than me. I know that my days should be focused on Him, but it is a struggle to let go of me to find Him. 

I believe this obsession with self is a universal problem.

I hypothesize that the Lenten season was created to combat all the “me’s” out there. I realize when I bring up the word Lent some of you flinch in fear. You imagine a season of temporarily giving up some food or drink that you shouldn’t be eating or drinking anyway, only until Easter Sunday rolls around where you promptly begin binge drinking and stuffing your face with chocolate.  I feel ya. When I was 16 I gave up carbonated beverages for lent. That was until some kind fellow adolescent pointed out that beer was also a carbonated beverage. I then, as a 16 year old, gave up, to the glory of the Lord, carbonated non-alcoholic beverages. I completely understand your reservations about Lent and the hypocrisy that seems to surround it.

But in a world filled with “me’s” and consumed with “mines” I am taking Lent back. I need to. It’s not about giving things up; it’s about taking time to intentionally choose Christ over myself.  Just because others (including myself) have abused this season in the past, does not mean it can’t or isn’t beautiful.  The King came and He’s coming. I want to remember what He has done and reflect on what He is doing.  You don’t have to join me in this, but you can. I can’t tell you what to give up or take on, anymore than you can tell me what I should be giving up or taking on, but I do invite you to find a way to intentionally consider the gospel over the remaining weeks leading up to Easter.  “He must become greater. I must become less” (John 3:30). 

Don't Know Where I'm Going, but I Know Where I've Been.

Currently, I am applying for jobs, watching a movie and, more accurately, writing this blog post.  You see, I quit my job, well I turned in a letter of resignation for June. Because I live and work in a college dorm, when I quit my job I also gave myself my own eviction notice.  Yes, I know that I should not have quit my job before I had a new job lined up, but unless you have lived in a college dorm for 9 years or more, don't judge. I had to get out. Had to. Love my students, but I'm 30. Again, 30, not 22, 30. So here I sit, chocolate in hand, with my imminent joblessness and homelessness looming.

I don't know where I am going, but I do know where I have been.  The night before I moved to Chicago, I remember my sister asking in a concerned voice, "should we tell someone?" My aunt's mercedes was packed with all of my earthly possessions, how was I going to tell her I had no money and no job. That 13 hours to Chicago seemed endless as the anxious pit in my stomach continued to grow. I knew God had called me, and therefore it was on God's shoulders to provide, and so He did.  It wasn't always easy. People would leave food and clothes at my door, or envelopes of cash when tuition time rolled around.  By my last year in Chicago, I had two jobs.  God had provided, and I had it made.

And then...  graduation rolled around. Like all campus jobs, graduation equals termination.  So upon graduating, I would be jobless and homeless.  The fear returned growing in the pit of my stomach.  I anticipated the worst, but, despite my worst fears,  two weeks after I left Chicago, I was living in a new state & home and beginning a new job. The Lord provided, as he always does, when He was ready.

So now 3 years later,the same circumstances are looming over my head. I quit my job, and will, by extension, lose my home. I don't know where I am going or even where to start looking. Sometimes I sense that same fear starting to creep up in my belly.  I try not to stay in the "what if's" the "why me's".  They aren't real. I may not know where I'm going, but I know where I've been. God will provide, when He is ready, fear or not.

Queen Latifah singing what I'm saying... sort of?!?!

The Memoirs of a Single 30 Year Old in a Bridesmaid's Dress

It's been a long time since I left you, without a dope beat to step to. So without further adieu, I give you this. Whatever "this" ends up being. I will attempt to write to you about the experiences of a single 30 year old at her twin sisters wedding. All of this is hypothetical, of course.

1. If you are a single 30 year old at your twin sister's wedding, you will probably get lots of dumb questions. "Do you want to get married?" How to answer this one? If I say "no" the question asker will feel less guilty about talking about her husband and kids, but if I say "yes" said question asker will realize what a dumb question this is. Hmm.  Other questions: "so how does it feel being single when your twin sister is getting married?" Well it feels awesome, like winning the lottery and giving someone else the ticket. Thanks for asking, I love sharing my deepest feelings with strangers.

2. People will ask you repeatedly if you are the maid of honor.  You will listen intently at their tone to see if they are stressing the words "you" "maid" or "honor". All seem insulting, but its up for debate over which is worse. (Yes I agree with your argument that this is technically a "dumb" question which should be included in #1, but I wanted it to be separate, and since this is my blog, I won.)

3. The groom will likely give you stats on all his single groomsmen, which won't be many because we are old. Pickins are slim at 30.  The groom will then take every opportunity to strategically place you next to all his single groomsmen.  At which point you are primed and ready to engage in perfectly planned small talk.  Let the games begin.

4. At one point in this hypothetical situation, your mom will get on stage during the wedding reception and say we are so thankful for our new son 'n law blah blah, and then end with... we only have one single daughter left, any takers? She will tell you she wanted to make sure that any single guys at the wedding knew you were available.  Your other old single friends will take this personally and tear up on your behalf. You will wave and sign your digits.

5. You will likely make a complete fool of yourself on stage, dancing like an epileptic who has just done a hit of crack cocaine and is currently having a seizure.  This total disregard of any traditional  dance etiquette will ruin any chance of a single man at this wedding asking for your digits. Why do such a thing? Because it will make your sister laugh, and that will make it worth it.