Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Saudade

I don't know how to explain it other than this: I left my heart in Brazil last summer. It sounds melodramatic and exaggerated, I know, but the truth is that I have never loved like I loved there. I generally wouldn't describe myself as overly kind or sensitive or tenderhearted, but when I walked on the dirt roads of Village Campestre [which literally translates poor village], everything inside of me melted. The people that I met in that beautiful place will be with me for the rest of my life -- truly, I have a family in Brazil, and I ache to go back.

I find that whenever God sends me somewhere to teach me something, I get an intense desire to return. It happened when I went to SEMP after my sophomore year, New Orleans after my junior year, and West Virginia after senior year, but I have never had such a burning passion and need within me like I have for Brazil. What was it about that country that is so special? How can I even begin to explain it?

When Phil and Rachel Stucky, the missionaries with whom my team stayed, moved to Maceio to plant a church, they prayed for God to send them people, adults, committed married couples. They found a handful, but it became very clear that their link to the community was going to be the kids that came to the church in droves. We spent nights in the church building [for lack of a better term -- in reality, the building was little more than slab of concrete with a roof over it and a security gate around the perimeter] with over forty of these beautiful children, and as Phil and Rachel told us their stories, I did everything I could not to let my jaw drop.

These kids came from broken home, alcoholic homes, abusive homes, destitute homes. The culture requires nothing from a father but whatever financial support he can give, and that is often absent, to say nothing of a loving, present figure in a child's life. The education system is set up so that it is extremely difficult to get even a basic education -- anything higher than eighth grade would be considered advanced and the chances of getting accepted into a college or university are slim to none. Of course, entering the work force is nearly as difficult; jobs are scarce and the average monthly salary can be made in mere hours by most Americans.

As I learned about the individual stories and the social forecast as a whole, my heart broke for the hopeless kids. When I looked around, though, I didn't see the bleak future. I saw joy. I saw the love and companionship that they found in that church and with each in other, a new family in Christ. I saw Godly mentors as the adults developed relationships with the kids, taught them how to live effectively in their world. I saw the life changing effect that the love of God had on these people; materially, they had nothing, but they welcomed me into their church, their homes, their schools, and their lives with open arms and enormous smiles.

I did more than see when I was in Brazil -- I became a part of it. I stood among them during worship and I was more moved by their passionate, genuine singing than I have ever been by any expensive, effect-laden presentation. I played games with them, met their families, laughed with them, laid brick to help build classrooms with them, and cried with them when it was time to leave. I so completely gave that village church my heart that I am positive I will never get it back completely, but I don't want it back -- I just want to go home to my family that doesn't speak the same language.

That's just it -- we didn't need words. Don't get me wrong, a common language would have been the biggest blessing in the world, but when we were stripped of our most basic form of communication, we were able to move to a far better form: love. What we couldn't say because of the language barrier, we said through our actions, our faces, our prayers for one another. I still pray for the church and the people that I fell in love with there almost daily, and now God has given me another opportunity to show them how much they have changed my life.

As I said earlier, the church building is woefully lacking. While the people would never complain, they are trying to save $3000 to put a roof on their future sanctuary. God has provided for them to build classrooms and God will provide for them to finish this sanctuary, but $3000 American dollars is an incredibly daunting amount when most make far less than $50 a month. I want to help. I want to help because I love them, yes, but also because that is what God calls the church to do -- isn't true religion taking care of the widows and orphans in their need? I promise you, there are plenty of those in Village, as well as abandoned, abused, and alone. I spent time there, and for the people in the community, it is so much more than just a church. It is an after school program, a place to hang out and not deal with gangs or alcohol, a refuge, and [literally for one family] a home. The money sent to Brazil will do more good than it could ever do in my wardrobe or apartment, that much is for certain.

I don't mean to use this blog as a soapbox off of which to preach, but having just received some emails from a few different people from Village, I couldn't help but to share what was on my heart. Will you help too? I'll be talking to the team who went last summer and my family, and I want to raise some support to send them a gift as an encouragement. As Phil said in an email, "It would be an answer to their prayers." If you, whoever you may be, have stumbled upon this blog and took the time to read my usually silly antics, and you would be willing to contribute to this offering of sorts, please talk to me. If not, please pray. Please pray for the church as the leadership is going to be turning over. Pray that God will continue to mold His people and that they will not grow discouraged, but that they will continue to grow and serve and love.

For your prayers and perhaps gifts, thank you. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of my beautiful friends and family in Village Campestre, obrigada.


video

How Great Is Our God became extremely meaningful for both the Kalamazoo team and the Brazilian youth group, so some of the kids asked to learn it in English. This is them singing on the last night.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Further Proof That I Am Not Normal

Dear School,

Please hurry up. Please come quickly, with your excitement and adventures and lessons around each and every corner. Please don't forget that I'm just sitting here in this office, dreaming about you and praying that you weren't just a wonderful dream from last year. Please bring a beautiful fall with you, with vibrant colors and crisp air and autumn-y scents that make my wonderful campus even more gorgeous and collegiate and energetic. Please be even more fun than freshman year -- I'll even take it more seriously, I promise. Please just come as soon as you can.

Thank you.

Love,

Carly

Thursday, July 24, 2008

True Life: I'm a Stalker

Don't judge. I cannot help it that Old Navy Joe is a.) adorable, b.) funny, and c.) constantly working whenever I go in to shop. It's not like Shelby and I stop in just to see if he is there...often. And it's not like we scan the aisles once we walk inside, just to see if we need something off of the shelf that he is stocking...every time. Besides, it's common to recognize people who work in a store if you go in there often enough, right? I mean, I worked at a grocery store for two years, and I definitely knew our regulars by name, business or organization, and buying habits -- it doesn't make me creepy, it makes me OBSERVANT.

The key is to be subtle. Now, I know what you are thinking -- "Carly? Subtle? Right." Ah, but you underestimate me. Let's not forget, I am an actress. Can I pull the coy, "I think I know you from somewhere..." card? Of course. Do people like Old Navy Joe realize that I recognize them and, in fact, giggle about their cuteness with my sister as I walk out the door? Absolutely not.

Unless, of course, my mother is with me.

Although Julie has taught me many wonderful and valuable things ["Carly, you can change a man's clothes, but you can never change a man."], I must have learned the art of inconspicuousness on my own. Mom knows all about Old Navy Joe from Shelby and I, so when we were shopping a few weeks ago and he was the cashier, she rolled her eyes at my little smile. "He's not even cute," she said.

"Mother!" I gasped in horror.

"Well, I mean, I guess he's sort of cute in a not cute way?" she offered. I shook my head. Poor, sad woman, she can't even recognize completely adorable when it's standing right in front of her anymore.

Old Navy Joe looked bored at the register. There was quite a line building up, and he just sort of looked at us all like, "Really?" He had a Speedracer shirt on, a nametag that said "Amanda" [see? He has a great sense of humor!!], and his thick, dark hair was spiky and faux-hauky. My mom was crazy for not finding him cute. As we got to the front of the line, Jewels went first and put her stuff on the counter. Old Navy Joe gave her an upwards nod. "What's up." He said as way of greeting. Mom smiled and looked at his shirt.

"Do you really like Speedracer?" she asked him in an accusing tone. "Or are you just being trendy?"

"Uh, it's just kinda trendy," he said lazily. "You know, it's kind of my style." Mom laughed.

"Oh, okay, Amanda. Mandy. A-MAN-DUH!" She said. A normal daughter would be mortified by such actions, but really? I'm used to it. Old Navy Joe, however, was not.

"Why you gotta be makin' fun of my name?" he asked, grinning.

"Oh, I don't have a problem with the name Joe," she said. My heart stopped and I looked at her wildly. Old Navy Joe got a confused look on his face. He wasn't wearing his own nametag -- we weren't supposed to KNOW his real name!! I had to turn around and try to compose myself so that I didn't start to die laughing and look like an idiot, but Mom didn't get the hint. Oh no, she just kept right on going: "I really like the name, actually," she said. "If my fourth kid was a girl, I was going to name her Emme Joe...but I got a boy, and his name is Taylor instead."

"Did you know my name is Joe?" he asked with an extremely weirded out look on his face. Clearly not understanding the fact that it isn't normal for non-regular customers to just know a salesperson's name off the top of her head, Mom nodded.

"Uh-huh," she said.

"How...how did you know my name?" he asked. Mom finally began to see why I was hiding behind her, trying desperately to compose myself. She faltered.

"Oh, she's psychic!" I blurted out, before I could even think. Now Old Navy Joe looked at me strangely, but not for long.

"Yeah!" Mom agreed. "I have my own hotline and everything." At this point, I telepathically willed my mother to never speak again.

Through this whole episode, Old Navy Joe got more and more confused -- you could the his brain working overtime, trying to figure out how in the world we knew him. "I was gonna say..." he sort of stuttered, unsure of WHAT to say to the crazy, supposedly psychic woman in front of him. "That would be weird...."

Then it hit him. Thank God another employee had walked past the register a few minutes earlier, while Mom and I were still waiting in line. He had waved and said, "Have a good night, Joe!" as he left for the day. Light spilled across his face as he remembered this.

"Oooh -- you heard Kyle say my name! That's how you knew!" he said, triumphant and, I dare to say, relieved. Mom, of course, wasn't really paying attention and as she opened her mouth to say something, I cut it.

"That's it! That's right. That's how she knew!" *fake, nervous laugh* Mom closed her mouth and smiled and nodded, and I shooed her out of the way as quickly as possible so that I could make my purchases and we could leave.

Now, OF COURSE, this is the day when Old Navy Joe actually flirts with me. Since I protected him from my crazy [albeit endearing] mother, he probably felt like he owed me his life. Who can blame him, really? But since the offending party was standing mere feet away, watching the entire transaction with bemused sort of look on her face, it was very rushed and limited. He smiled at me sweetly as I walked out the door, at which point I burst out laughing and immediately called my sister to tell her how our mother had nearly blown our cover with our beloved Old Navy Joe.

Small point of interest: a few weeks after the whole escapade, I was hanging up the shirt that I bought that night, and a little tag along the neckline caught my eye. I held it closer to read what it said, and my mouth dropped open. Old Navy Maternity: Small.

SO, hopefully my future boyfriend didn't notice the fact that I inadvertantly bought a maternity shirt [it's the empire waist that is so popular right now! It was mingled in with everything else on a sales rack!! It's just a black top!!] and think that I'm pregnant with a baby psychic stalker and crazy mother to go with it. Somehow I just don't really think that such an image leads to a second date...or any date, now that I think of it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Here I Go Again

I realized this morning how lenient I have become with getting to work on time; in May, I left the house no later than 7:45 [sometimes even earlier] so that I got to work ten to five minutes early. This was all good until I realized that I am not productive enough to merit such punctuality. I mean, seriously -- I spend half of my time Stumbling online anyway and since the office doesn't even open until 9, I am a completely unnecessary fixture at the front desk until then. Why Uncle Realtor told me to get here at 8 is beyond me, but it's an extra hour of pay, so I don't complain...I just show up late.

Now, it sounds like a very bad work ethic to leave the house at the time you're supposed to arrive at the office, I know. It's just so hard to drag yourself out of bed on a morning when all you have to look forward to is a blubbering boss and many hours of mindless interpretation of what he wants. Add to that the fact that this Monday morning was particularly daunting due to the terrifying amount of hours at the office/restaurant in front of me for the week, and I don't think that anyone can really blame me for showing up to the office ten minutes late.

Ah, but take heart, ye weary souled. God can lift us up and encourage us and He often uses the most ridiculous means. For example, ABBA.

That's right, ABBA, as in the Swedish group from the 60s or 70s or whatever. They just make my LIFE. I have always loved music from that general era -- I mean, I grew up singing "I Think I Love You" and "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" like it was my job. I blame my parents and Uncle Jimmy for never updating their musical tastes, so the soundtrack of my childhood summers were quintessential compilations of "Best Of...the 60s! the 70s!! the Beatles!! Van Morrisen!!" I'm quite impressive when it comes to these sorts of songs; I have a feeling that I am a budding karaoke superstar.

I don't remember my first taste of ABBA, but I know that the song that caught me was "Dancing Queen." Of course that one caught me...I was like, "This is me!!" Because of this love for all things retro, my mother bought me a Best of ABBA cd for Christmas a million years ago, but since I only knew one song on the entire album and I had the attention span of a chipmunk on speed [in addition to the fact that I had never actually seen pictures of Abba until that point, and the mesh unitards very much terrified me], I never listened to it.

Until now.

This weekend I dragged my poor, unsuspecting friend Eric to the movie theater with me to watch Mamma Mia! I just had to pick the friend who is a classically trained [incredible] vocalist and thereby has the right to hold lesser talents in disdain. He detests Hairspray [which greatly strains our friendship] and I think that he finds my giddy delight in gaudy musicals mildly aggravating. When I called him on Saturday night, he just groaned and said, "I have been waiting for this ALL DAY." He knows me so well.

Here's the thing about the movie: if you go into it without expecting too much critical integrity, you will love it. Also, please be forewarned: Pierce Brosnan really should not sing. It's quite hard to watch him and Meryl Streep do "SOS" because he has this pained look on his face as if he knows full well how embarrassed he is going to be at the premiere. Nevertheless, he pushed through and so did we and regardless of whether he tells you differently, Eric and I quite literally danced out of the theater.

Enter the ancient Best of ABBA cd. I have been listening to it basically non-stop for the past 48 hours, much to my family's chagrin. The best part is my air-conditioning doesn't work, so I drive around, windows down, blaring "Take a Chance on Me" and "Fernando." Seriously, yesterday this guy turned around and stared as I sang along, screeching, "Yes, I've been broken hearted...blue since the day we parted..." That's my favorite part of the song, by the way.

Anyway, it's fabulous and while it doesn't make work or getting up at unGodly hours of the morning any better, it certainly makes the commute more fun. So if you're driving around town and you hear some insanely loud ABBA somewhere, just smile and wave, because there I go again.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Golfing Von Trapps

Written 5 July 2008

I have said it before, but I am going to say it again: my life is My Big Fat Greek Wedding. My family is not Greek, and most of us aren’t that fat, but the point remains that that movie has always struck a chord close to my heart. Sometimes I look around me and think, “No other family spends this much time together,” or “Nobody else tells their aunts these kind of details about their love lives,” or “Do other people make this much food for no reason?” Once I asked my uncle[-in-law] what his first reaction to the Creamers was, and he laughed. “I was like, ‘What is wrong with these people? This is not normal – they like each other too much!’”

To further prove our abnormality, now we golf together. That’s right: we golf. For those of you who know me [even slightly], this may come as a shock. Don’t worry though, I’m not leading alternate lives, one in which I am Carly as you know her, while in the other I am simultaneously a super athlete, ultra-sweet and domesticated, shy and docile, yet laced with tomboyish tendencies. Rest assured that I am still the girl who can’t bake cookies, pacify a baby, hold my temper, and detests long, boring sports.

Still, this morning at 9:15 sharp I found myself holding a golf club for the first time in my life, surrounded by twenty-two family members “warming up.” Mind you, such an ambiguous term means different things for different people. For my golf pro Uncles Mark and Terry, it was an intense swinging/driving/putting frenzy. For my cousin Ginny, it was sitting on a bench with her book about an emotionally abused girl. What about me, you may ask? I was merely thanking God that my scramble team consisted of a.) my dad, the most patient and fun-loving man I have ever met, b.) my fabulous Aunt Nan, who manages to see the good in every situation, and c.) my cousin Dustin who actually has skill on a golf course. I was in good hands, but I figured I should probably join the crowd and swing a club or two.

But which club do I swing? Irons, woods, drivers, putters – these words mean nothing to me. Aunt Nan held one out to me, and I asked her what it was. “Uh...um…a metal one…” she said, searching for the word. “Oh, I know! An iron!” We laughed loudly until we received scandalized looks from those old men who didn’t come with us and actually wanted to golf. “Oh, they’re fine,” Aunt Nan said. “It’s not like they’re in a hurry. What do they want to do? Rush home to do chores? Get back to the office? You know they don’t want to go home to their wives. They’re probably happy that we’re slowing them up!” See? Ever the optimist.

At some point, Papa came around and dispersed the golf cart keys. Now this is what I had been looking forward to. Inwardly cursing myself for taking the desk job instead of the job as a beer girl on a golf course, I expertly navigated Aunt Nan and I into the queue to tee off. You see, this whole situation was a birthday celebration for Papa. He turned 76 last Tuesday, and this was his Second Annual Creamer Golf Scramble. Last year I had to work and was exempt. This time, I had no such excuse.

Let me just explain something – I don’t golf. The closest I have come to a golf course is Pirate’s Cove [or any other putt putt place for that matter] and even there my cousin Tyler beat me when he was four. I think I was thirteen at the time. A four year old beat me!! Ever since then, I have put golf in the same category as bowling and horseshoes…fun for five minutes, but after that I am only too aware of my own inadequacy, at which point I get frustrated because I want to win but I CAN’T, then I get annoyed and, in the end, very angry. Better to avoid the whole scene [although I’m cool with putt putt, since there are generally go-karts to placate me after the general slaughter.]

Needless to say, then, I felt very out of place lining up to drive the first ball, and rightly so. My swing was awkward, I probably lifted my head up, and as a result, the ball flew away from me, terrified of my club…but it died a few feet away. Seriously – I tried to drive the ball to the green, and it landed mere feet away from the tee. Luckily, Daddy and Aunt Nan and even Dustin were nice about, and since it was a scramble, we got to use Dustin’s perfect hit anyway. No harm, no foul, I guess.

At one point, Daddy explained the difference between the clubs to me. At this point, I probably would not be able to tell you much, except the fact that golf clubs are boy versions of make-up brushes. Scoff if you must, but I am right. My picture of golf began to come together.

By the fourth or fifth hole, I really felt like I had the hang of it, and I was ready to be good at the game. I saw my golfing future stretch out before me, full of fabulous little outfits, fun dates, and cocktails at the end. My team was quite impressed with my swing; apparently I am a natural, something in which Papa took great pride. I felt so adult, so mature swinging that club, twirling my hips and turning my toe, just like I have seen a hundred professionals do. I was awed by my own ability – how much inside of me remains untapped? I began to wonder. What other secret skills linger beneath my regular surface? Am I a secret martial artist? A painter? A chef? A car mechanic? The possibilities are quite endless, you know. All of these thoughts swirled through my head as I lined up for my practice shot. “Nice swing, Carly!” Daddy called enthusiastically, and I smiled to myself. I have a nice swing. Then I hit the ball, and I learned that my nice swing has little to do with anything, since I could barely move that dumb, little dimpled thing anywhere.

All I wanted was for it to pop up, arc gracefully, and soar to the green. It’s not like I asked for a hole in one or cheering crowds – just a mere bit of flight would satisfy me! But no, if my form was good, the ball hit the tip of the club, or I brought my head up, or my putt was too hard. There are a lot of little things to adjust and remember, and as soon as I did everything that I had learned until that point, there was another issue that needed to be addressed. I shanked drives, I sliced putts, and I overshot plenty, but I am shocked to say that I had a lot of fun, and was one of the nine recipients of the “Most Improved” award.

Still, after two sink-to-par putts on my part, I felt pretty decent as we came to the final hole. My team was the last one, and nine carts lined up ominously at the green, waiting for us. Our drive had left us in a difficult position Рwe needed to chip it up, over a sandtrap, and set it up to roll over the rough and into the green. According to the order, I was up first. Daddy handed me some club, and I walked up to my ball. I heard my aunts and uncles and cousins jeer teasing cries in my direction, and I suddenly felt every sports movie clich̩ in my very soul: this was it. This was my championship, my big game, my knuckle puck time. I focused, kept my head down, swung the club, and prayed that God would at least laugh lovingly at my attempt and give me a decent shot.

That ball rolled to exactly where I wanted it, gracefully stopping on the green within easy putting range of the hole. The crowd sat in stunned silence, and then they cheered. “Carly!” they exclaimed, rightfully shocked. “Nice shot!” That was enough for me.

So there it is: I golf now. Not well or often, but I feel adequately equipped to start…next summer. Who knows? Maybe I’ll take that job on a golf course someday, tap the deep well of talent within me, and before you know it I’ll be on the LPGA or something. This is doubtful, of course, but still. I’d better start shopping for cute golf clothes just in case!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fireworks

Written 4 July 2008

There is something special about being by yourself in the dark, existing in a room lit with only a single candle. You experience aloneness in a new way – you don’t see the rest of the room, you cannot make out forms or figures, and the silence is firm, real, tangible almost. My family lost power in the storm a couple of days ago, and I lie in bed at night, my room consumed in the darkness. All that I can claim is the teeny orb of light that my laptop and the candle on my nightstand emit. The flame flickers and pulses, like a honey-colored heart, and I relish the stillness, especially after a day like today.

The Fourth of July is quite epic in my family. Patriotic to a fault, my mother takes it upon herself to buy every piece of kitschy red, white, and blue paraphernalia that she can find and forces us to wear her treasures. Every year we go to the parade in the tiny village where she grew up, where we were raised, where the quaint white farm house that she lived in until the day she married my father is still called the Creamer house. My wonderful Aunt Carol hosts a delicious annual brunch for my entire family at her house, and then we walk to the main square in time to hear Mrs. Healy sing God Bless America. Mrs. Healy is a close family friend, possibly my mom’s godmother, and every single year her aging, lilting soprano fills the air with song. Her voice is nice in the fact that you know it was beautiful once – she played the lead opposite my Papa in some community production of Guys and Dolls a million years ago, and she continues to pepper our family events with hugs and songs.

This particular village loves the quintessential American holiday just as much as my mother does. Flags fly on every telephone pole beginning sometime in June, and a banner stretches across the main street that says, “Happy Fourth of July!” Hundreds of smiling people mill between the church, the community building, the park and the Village Sundries, and everyone wears some sort of red, white, and blue ensemble. Lemonade stands spring up in driveways, red wagons and strollers clog the sidewalks, and children hover near the edge of the street, simply waiting to dive in the way of the parade for candy. The same announcer narrates the parade every year, with intermittent comments from Mrs. Healy, and his commercial voice booms over the sounds of fire trucks and tinny bands. Young people wander down the walk in search of friends, as the old-timers stay firmly planted in their fold up chairs, waiting for others to come find them. Despite the fact that the parade never changes and is borderline painful to watch because it is so boring, the whole scene could not be more perfect. It’s like a time warp, and for that one hour of that one day, I live in Mayberry, Leave it to Beaver land, the tiny village that America was meant to be.

The day goes on in more Americana revelry. Farm chores, poolside lounging, grilling out with family – one can’t help but to be overwhelmed by patriotism, love, happiness. As the sun sets, the party moves to the lake, where everyone bundles up and sits on the dock to watch fireworks. Brilliant colors glitter in the sky, and surrounding areas compete for the best show. All along the horizon, magnificent displays light up the night and the stars and fireflies are nature’s contribution.

Today should have been the best day of my summer so far – the weather was truly perfect, I spent the entire time surrounded by the family that I adore, we laughed, we ate good food, we celebrated, and we relaxed. Honestly, I could not ask for more. And I don’t; I am blessed beyond reason, and I thank God for all that He has given me. Still, something was off. I felt heavy, and I do not think that it has anything to do with the copious amounts of Tootsie Rolls and grilled chicken and potato salad that I had for lunch.

The birthday of a former loved one, this Fourth of July marks a painful part of my life, a dark period of time where I was far from God. I went through today plagued with thoughts and memories that I had believed were behind me. Unfortunately, the past comes back to haunt you when you least expect it, and that was what happened tonight. As I sat on the dock with one of my favorite aunts, ghosts from months ago cuddled up next to me, drew my thoughts away from the present. I half watched the fireworks, half retreated into my mind, into the land of “what-ifs” and “what-nows.”

The fireworks continued to illuminate the night, and I realized something. When a firework explodes, it lights up everything around it, including the smoke from the sparklers before it. I found myself waiting for the light so that I could see the smoke, and then it hit me how dumb that was – there was an incredible, colorful explosion that everyone else oohed and aahed about, so why in the world would I want to see that measly smoke? Immediately I saw the parallel to my own life. My past is over. I cannot go back, I cannot change things or do anything differently. And you know what? That is okay, because God has forgiven me. He has given me grace and made me new, and He is trying to put on a spectacular fireworks show in my life, but as I sat on that dock tonight, I just wanted to watch the smoke of my past. I wanted to focus on the pain, the regret, the longing, and all along God just wants my attention long enough to see His beautiful masterpiece of life and love.

I love lying in bed in this inky darkness. After a day of sirens, loud laughs, and explosions, there is something deeply and profoundly spiritual about the stillness of silence, and I love it…but I don’t want to miss the fireworks. I don’t want to settle with my peaceful, simple little candlelit life when I could have an explosion of passion and color and brilliance – I don’t want to stay here in the dark, waiting to see some smoke, when I could be cheering and watching God splatter paint across the night sky. I want more than a half-existence, a life haunted by memories; I want so much more than that. So even though I am about to blow out this candle, overwhelm myself in darkness, close my eyes, and fight dreams from the past, I know that I have a future hand-painted by God Himself. I can only hope that there are a lot of fireworks involved, and next time I will not be watching any smoke.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Farm Mama

Okay. So clearly the beach is not a place of great inspiration for me. I tried to write last week, I really did...but I have found that the beach is a place of relaxation, a place to do nothing, a place to read and sleep and tan and drink Diet Coke. I promise you that I did all of those things in abundance over the past six days, but writing did not happen as much as I wanted it to. Mountains inspire me, cities drive me to create, foreign countries beg to be written about, but not Lake Michigan it seems. Apparently I have to be stuck in an office, bored and frustrated to the breaking point before I can do anything...or maybe I just need to be procrastinating from something else, like, I don't know, DOING MY JOB. Either way, I apologize for leading you on about the updates -- it was never my intent to lie.

I will post a couple of the blogs that I was trying to edit later, however today is different. Saturday was my mom's birthday, and being such, it's time for her special little birthday blog [regardless of the fact that she doesn't read this...]. Sooo...

Top 5 Reasons Why I Love My Crazy Farm Mama

1. She collects farm animals. Now, this is both adorable and aggrivating to me. Why? Why does she want chickens? Where is the thrill in a rooster's crow? How is this so fun for her? I don't get it at all, but it is still sort of endearing. When she gets borderline giddy about finding chicken eggs or how frustrated she is when she just wants to ride her horse [which I am convinced she bought just so she could pet], I cannot help but smile. It's funny, but it's cute, and plus it always gives me something to talk about. Still, to all of my friends who insist that is only a matter of time before I am married and hosting "Camp Carly" and raising a little hobby farm of my own, YOU ARE WRONG.

2. She is a Godly example of the woman I want to be. I deeply admire her marriage, her friendships, and her relationships with her family members. She can juggle a million different commitments and responsibilities with school, church, friends, and family, and she still has time to look amazing and have her Little House on the Prairie farm. It's both impressive and encouraging.

3. She is hilarious. Sure, she is borderline embarrassing at times, but then again, I probably am too. I have always had this well of pride within me because I have the "cool mom." She was the fun mom, the hot mom, the mom that all of my friends liked and wanted to talk to. She makes everyone laugh, and she has a great sense of humor -- I mean, seriously, what other mom drops her young teenage kids off at the mall and calls out the car window, "Be nice and SHARE YOUR CIGARETTES!!" She has thrown a good number of my friends for a loop with that one, or else there is always the classic line, "Okay, I'm going to go run some errands. You may have two beers and no more than a fifth of scotch....and I am serious this time!" She is obviously joking, and that is why I love her. Laughing with Jewels is one of my favorite things.

4. She taught me what a healthy appreciation of beauty is. My mother is beautiful. Much to my dismay, I often find myself in a position where co-workers and friends sing very rousing renditions of "Carly's Mom Has Got It Going On." That part is not fun. However, the fact that she doesn't need to get dolled up just to run some errands says a lot about her, I think. She focuses on health more than anything, but she still takes time to look good. She taught me that you can be smart and loving and a hardworker, but still love makeup and pedicures and facials. What's more is that [for the most part] she has really good taste and buys fun things, which I then "borrow." It works out really well to have a fabulous mom and equally fabulous sister with whom I can share things...:-)

5. She is my number one support system. True, I might think that she has a tendency to overreact and dramatize situations, but as a nearly twenty-year-old daughter, that is my job. Regardless of this, my mother is always there for me. Even during the worst of times, I never questioned that she loved me and wanted the best for me. When I need her, she is there. I am well aware of the fact that she is not perfect, but when I look at my friends' moms, I wouldn't want to trade with anyone. Complain as I may, I think that I have the best mom in the world, and if I have kids one day I can only hope that I am as loving and wonderful as she is.

Happy Birthday [a few days late], Mama. I love you!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Just so you know...

Okay, I have been without power and internet for a few days now, but I have a couple posts that have been backing up...anyway, I just wanted to let the three of you who might actually read this know that I'll try to put up one a day to catch up. They are in the order[ish] that they happened, so, just to alleviate any future confusion, there it is. Not that I think this blog is important enough to merit confusion, but I just thought that I would clarify/explain. Right, so, enjoy!

PS: Thank you for actually reading this -- everytime someone mentions it to me, I kind of get surprised that anyone bothers to look at it, and a rush of happiness sweeps through me, like the kind you get when you find ten dollars in an old purse. Really, though, I love your comments and everything. It means a lot to me. :-)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Three more days...

I want to lie in the sun.

I want sweat to drip off of my skin, my golden brown skin, softened and moistened from the delicious smelling tropical tanning oil.

I want to lose my perception of color, to see everything in the haze of the brilliant, fiery orb.

I want to ache in the heat, to roast and toast on an oven of sand, to dive into clear water and see the oil float away from me, swimming on top of the glassy surface.

I want the hot air to dry my body while I uncurl like a cat, stretching and purring on a big, soft towel.

I want my muscles to relax, to lengthen, to melt down to nothingness in the heat.

I want to see the bikini lines on my body, the border between brown and white, the difference so perceptible it could separate countries.

I want to shimmer in the haze, glossy pink lips shining like neon lights against my deep, dark skin, melty in the sultry heat, like the gleaming Greek goddesses of yesteryear.

I want to do nothing all day long, except revel in the rays, let the sun and my lioness-like laziness mysteriously sap my energy.

I want to feel the coolness of night, shiver and get goosebumps at the stark contrast between night and day at the beach.

I want to lie in the sun.