October, 2012

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Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

If I happen to cross your mind during the month of November, this is how I would like you to picture me:

Yes.  Please picture me as a happy farm girl with a smile on her face (pig optional).  November will be a month of me keeping the cows and chickens from going to the dickens.

See, I’m feeling more at peace these days than I have in the past year and a half (in case you’re wondering, I credit counseling, the Bible, more sleep, and less alcohol).  I’m learning to be less anxious.  I’m learning to see situations that would usually make me afraid as opportunities to practice trust.  I’m learning that time doesn’t heal everything, but it does heal some things.  I’m learning that hope seen is not hope at all.

After spinning and striving and trying so hard to keep up with life, I find myself with a surprisingly (and blessedly) quiet month on the horizon.  In the spirit of simplicity, I’m choosing to keep it that way.

So Happy Halloween from “Farm Girl,” the only thing I thought to be – and I’ll see you in December.

Tuesday love

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

I just finished reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  I can’t tell you what this book did to my heart.  I can tell you that wherever life takes me next, I’m going on a major backpacking trip first.  If you know me at all, you’ve already heard me talk about it.

Say what you will about Taylor Swift’s latest album, but I can tell you this: “All Too Well” is classic Taylor, and it hits me in the gut.

“How we spend our minutes is how we spend our lives.”  I don’t know who’s credited with coining that phrase, but it’s hitting home for me these days.  I want to spend my minutes well – which means, ugh, maybe I need to stop watching “Dawson’s Creek” on Netflix.

I recently volunteered to be bumped from a flight in exchange for a travel voucher.  I’ve decided that I want to use it on a solo vacation somewhere peaceful in early 2013.  Requirements: a beach, a kitchen, and plenty of quiet.  Any ideas for where I should go?

New to my… circle of friends

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

I have this new friend named Stephen, and we recently became Facebook friends.

This was the happiest part of my yesterday:

Things you are dying to know

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

1)      I’m back from New York.  “Newsies” was the definite, absolute highlight of the weekend.  I smiled basically the entire time – that is, when I wasn’t tearing up (and then just letting the tears spill over) during “Santa Fe.”  If it’s even possible, I think I’m getting MORE EMOTIONAL with time.  Suitors to the left.

2)      In addition to getting good, quality time with my pal Val, a twist of serendipity brought Nashville Miranda to the city on the same weekend – something we didn’t put together until we were already there.  So fun to get some unexpected time with her and her awesome boyfriend, Brandon.

3)       Speaking of Miranda and Brandon, I like to think of them collectively as “Mirbranda.”  I’m waiting for it to catch on.  So far, I might be the only one who thinks this is a good idea.

4)      To complete my month o’ travel, I’m heading to Nashville this weekend.  Out of all of the trips I take, ones to Nashville are my favorite.

5)      Did anyone catch the Broncos game last night?  I did, because I’m so sporty.  GREAT GAME.

6)      I bought a 2013 calendar, and already have things to write in it.  Things like…

7)      BECCA’S WEDDING.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we’re gon’ have a weddin’.  Michael Murphy is joining our family in January, and we couldn’t love him more.

Trips, and trips

Friday, October 12th, 2012

I am a notoriously horrible suitcase packer.  If suitcase packing were a school, I would be the dunce.

I always pack too little or too much, and never the right quantities of anything.  I’ll pack running shoes, but no socks.  A light shirt, but a black bra.  No heels for dinners out, or no flats for walking the city.  Too many layers.  Too few layers.  Five dresses for two days.  No hair product.  Whatever.

It’s always bad.

And the fact that I know this about myself would make one think that I’d be extra prepared – make lists, plan out my outfits, check the weather, think ahead.  But it’s a major defect, a constipation of logic, an impediment that I cannot work or think or plan my way around.  If there is a suitcase to be packed, I will screw it up.

When I left the house on Wednesday, I drove for a block before I remembered.  OH.  UNDERWEAR.  So I pulled back in front of the house, ran inside, grabbed a handful of undergarments from my top drawer, and boldly carried them outside in my bare hands in broad daylight to stuff into my suitcases.  Hello, neighbors.  I climbed back behind the wheel of the car, and thought for a second: am I forgetting anything else?  Concluding that I indeed had everything I could possibly need, I took off for the airport.

Can you sense the impending doom?

When I opened my suitcase in New York, I found the following: all of the last-minute underwear, a ratty brown cardigan, and a white V-neck T-shirt.  Not the nice one.  The see-through, stretched out one that is good for absolutely nothing outside of a shopping trip to Wal-Mart.  To buy a new T-shirt.

So I spent yesterday in the same outfit I’d worn on the plane the day before, and by the evening, I smelled sour.  I took a quick shower, donned the gross white T-shirt, and looked at myself in the mirror.  “I can go to dinner in this,” I thought.  “I totally can.”

You know I totally couldn’t.

The clock told me I had 25 minutes until we were leaving for dinner, so I jumped on the elevator.  I’d spotted a Gap just down the block, and was on a mission to race to buy a new top.  Just as the elevator door opened, I pulled out my phone and called my mom, anxious to tell her about the ways of my idiotic packing.  She’s my mom – she has no choice but to indulge her daughter’s freak outs.

I was rushing through the lobby, talking fast, when all of a sudden I caught my toe on a rug and – phone catapulting through the air – dazzlingly, spectacularly tripped.

Like, people gasped.

There were probably 100 people in the lobby, and they all GASPED.

I didn’t waste any time.  I used my rug-burned hands to grab my phone off the floor – “Mom, are you there? Okay, so as I was saying” – and shoved through the revolving door.  The bellhops on the curb smirked as I walked past – because yes, they had seen me through the window.

I tornadoed through the Gap, grabbing all manner of pants and full-price sweaters.  I didn’t bother trying anything on; my bill came to $176.  I’ll return most of it tomorrow.

Moral of the story: learn to pack for a trip, lest you trip.

(Dumbest moral I’ve ever come up with.)

New York

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

So many things were old hat: the quick note of my parking row, the toiletries in Ziplocs, the train to concourse C, the weight of my book-laden purse. After all, this was my third trip in so many weeks; I am no stranger to Southwest Airlines and Denver International Airport.

But as I boarded the plane, I felt an alien sort of energy: the destination was unfamiliar.

And waking up this morning in a very plush Hilton, the unfamiliarity was confirmed. I am in New York City. Word.

Prior to today, I have only been to New York once – five years ago. Another life ago. I spent a week crashing on my sweet friend Heidi’s pull-out couch in Brooklyn, and hoofed myself all over the city with absolutely no idea what I was doing.

One night, I was on the subway around 1am when the train just… stopped. Everyone off, they said. Trouble on the tracks.

So I took the stairs up to the open air of the dark night streets, and looked around for some sign of what to do next. Street signs did me no good; I had no context for where I was, and the hint of red wine lingering around my edges wasn’t exactly helping. I figured that I would get on the bus that I saw some of my fellow/former trainmates boarding, and just see what might happen.

Inexplicably, and hours later, I made it back to Brooklyn that night, elated at my sheer moxie (when really, it was all due to a merciful stranger who nothing short of spelled out directions for me). I had had a CLOSE CALL in New York, New York, and lived to tell the tale.

Yes, I acknowledge my naiveté. But I also acknowledge the possibility of my very large face on a very tiny milk carton. Touché.

In addition, I acknowledge the fact that I just used é twice.

This week, I am in New York for a work event – something rather outlandish and fun in and of itself. But I’m extending my visit through the weekend to a) rendezvous with the one and only Valerie Morby, b) test out the services of airbnb, and c) attend “Newsies” on Broadway. If there was any weekend to be jealous of my life, this is it.

Back in August, I started the book Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, but wound up shelving it when life got crazy. On a flight to Austin just a few days ago (I told you – flights in abundance these days), I started reading again, and I finished it last night en route to New York.

In the last 15 pages, I underlined this: “One of the beauties of New York is that you can be from anywhere and within moments of landing it is yours.”

I’m wide open to that possibility.

Miranda Sings

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

I have three favorite Mirandas.

One is Seattle Miranda (who is actually now New York Miranda): sassy and styling, mother to two of the sweetest little boys, knows how to drive a stick shift and run in high heels and out-talk just about anyone.  Her wit and wisdom are astounding, and her belief in me as a human being both pumps me up and humbles me.

I also have Nashville Miranda, who is one of the greatest gifts I’ve been given.  She is easy like Sunday morning, unflappable, gliding through life with grace, poise, and humor.  A natural teacher, I learn from her all the time – and she is never too busy to ask the Good Questions, and talk about the Real Things.

And then… oh sweet mercy.

Then, there is Miranda Sings.

I remember when I first saw “Free Voice Lesson” on YouTube.  I was horrified – because I believed her.  She reminded me of girls that I studied music with in college, girls who sang just to hear themselves sing.  I KNOW PEOPLE LIKE THIS.  So it wasn’t outside my realm of possibility that this girl might actually exist.

Just watch.

But as it turns out, Miranda Sings is a character, a farce created by Colleen Ballinger (who is actually quite talented).  This satire has brought me so much entertainment, especially in the past few months.  If you hear me laughing from my bedroom late at night, it’s probably because I’m watching Miranda Sings.

Some recent favorites:

TOUR OF LONDON – mostly because I love the fact that she walked around London all alone making this video.

CHICK-FIL-A BREAKING NEWS – because she should have the right to marry a gay man.


VOICE LESSON! (PENTATONIX) – “Do you speak English?”

May I know whose hand I’m in

Monday, October 1st, 2012

On September 18th, we lost my grandma to pancreatic cancer.  She was diagnosed back in July, and even though we knew that death was coming, it still felt very sudden.

This past Saturday, we laid her to rest in Richland, WA, and then celebrated her life during a 2-hour service at the church she had attended nearly her entire life.  My grandma was widely loved, and the hundreds of people in attendance were confirmation of her gigantic sphere of influence.  She lived her life so well.

This weekend, I was reminded of what it means to be part of a family – the complicated parts and the beautiful parts, the uncertainties, the joys.  To belong to a family means you’re going to laugh and you’re going to cry and you’re going to roll your eyes – and sometimes, you’re going to do all three at once.  Especially when you’re all sharing the 15-passenger church van.

Anyone who knows me (or has visited this site for any length of time) knows that these days, my family looks different than I ever anticipated.  Maybe you feel the same way about your family.  Maybe things have not turned out the way that you planned.  Maybe you assumed one thing with such certainty that your new, unexpected reality causes nothing less than an internal shriek.

Family members were missing.  We are broken and incomplete.  This weekend held moments that were so potent with reminders of the way that things used to be, and will never be again.

People are quick to glibly label those feelings “nostalgia” – but that’s absurd.  These feelings are more important than that.  The lament and longing that come from the loss of a former life that molded you into who you are today are no small matter.

When I was dropped off at the airport yesterday, I told my mom and our friend Sharon, “Going back to Denver feels really lonely.”  And it did – it does.  I left my family members and the town in which I was born, and flew back to Colorado alone.  When I landed, I took the shuttle to the long-term lot where I’d left my Subaru, and headed back toward the city.

As I drove, I remembered that I was missing a show that I had initially planned on attending.  Peter Bradley Adams is one of my favorite songwriters – maybe even my soul mate.  Probably.  Is he married?  Let’s look into this.

PBA writes some of the best songs I’ve ever heard, and I was crushed to be missing his show in Denver.  So I turned on his music, and listened to a song about the loss of place and of belonging – the loss of what was, what might have been, what can never be again.

And yet, his words have a hopeful, trustful bent: “If I wander ‘til I die, may I know whose hand I’m in.”

Of all of the ways I would like to be like her, this is the greatest: all the way to her death, my grandma knew whose hand she was in.  And prone to wander as I am, I hope to continue this legacy.