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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I hear the train a comin'

I was laying in bed last night around midnight, trying to sort through a point of frustration for me right now, and I heard the blaring horn of a freight train about a mile away. This is a sweet and comforting sound for me, as it sounds like home. I've been able to hear the train every place I've ever lived. It used to echo off the trees on Calendar Lane and bounce through the hills of Long Hollow into my childhood bedroom at night. When I was in college, I could hear it whistle through the courtyard into my dorm room window. My first apartment post-college was located at one of the highest points in Cool Springs, and the I could look down and see it rolling along the Vanderbilt Legends Club in the valley. And now, the trains roam in Berry Hill, filling all of 12 South with their cacophony. It's a simple pleasure, really, but one that is uniquely mine.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Humble Thyself

Yesterday around 4:15, I picked up my CWJC merea, D, from her janitorial job at Vanderbilt. She hopped in the car, and I started driving toward Hillsboro. We were on our way to The Dog of Nashville, a gourmet hot dog restaurant off Belcourt. As we approached a gas station on our left, I commented about how high the gas prices are around here, and wondered if they would ever go back down. She chimed in agreeably, "I know. I used to be able to make a phone call at a pay phone for 25 cents, and it's gone up to 50 cents now."

Ouch. I am complaining about the affordability of gas to a person who has no car, no cell phone, no cable television, and barely makes ends meet. I am complaining to a person who takes the city bus and who walks miles to get from place to place. I am complaining to a person that never has access to the convenience of a phone ringing in her purse, and who struggles to locate pay phones, as they're becoming more scarce these days. I am complaining to a person who works weekends and cleans up after the messes that others make.

Cut yourself a big ol' slice of humble pie, Mary Anna.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Leaf, P.I.

The fall foliage tracker and maps are up on the Weather Channel. You can view them here.

I believe a weekend drive down scenic Natchez Trace is in order soon! This is going to be the most gorgeous Tennessee autumn!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Autumnal Nostalgia

We're officially five days into my favorite season of the year, yet today was the first day that actually felt like autumn. All of this rain we've been having has suppressed the crisp air and amped up the humidity. The sun is finally back. So, what did I do to celebrate? I went to the pool. Steph and I spent three glorious hours in the sun and we barely broke a sweat. And, we managed to save a drowning grasshopper and kill two bumblebees with one stone. Just doing our part to make the world a better place.

An anomaly occurred Friday night, when all four of the foxes on Knox found ourselves without plans as of 8 p.m. So, we texted some girlfriends, piled in the car, and headed down to the theater in the hood to watch the late showing of Fame on opening night. As we entered the building, we saw five or so other gals we all knew with the same intention. Imagine that....a grand total of 13 single girls without dates on a Friday night. Shocker. Anyway, Fame was rather lame, but it was nice to get out of the house.

I got my London and Paris '08 photos organized this weekend. The plan is to build an album on Blurb. After carefully combing through thousands of pictures, only 300 made the cut. I'm envisioning a 150 page album, and thankfully, Blurb will accommodate in an economical fashion. So many other sites charge at least a dollar per page after 20. Ridiculous.

Bible study was at 50% tonight, as Siebe, Steph and I were the only ones in town. We just started a new study on the twelve apostles, with John MacArthur's Twelve Ordinary Men as our framework. One overriding characteristic of the twelve is how ordinary these men were. Christ didn't choose Jewish scholars on purpose...He wanted people that were weak, so His glorification couldn't be justified by human intention. We asked ourselves the question, "would Christ have chosen me, among His thousands of followers, to be His disciple?" That's a tough question to answer. I'm sure I wouldn't have been one of the twelve, based on my own pride and self-righteousness alone. As I'm seeing myself grow in my relationship with Christ, it's becoming evident that He's refining my impurities. It's a difficult process, but one I am thankful for. Lately, I find myself praying Psalm 139:22-24 often, albeit reluctantly.

One item on the agenda for the week... Find someone tall to hand wash my car. My assigned parking "spot" at the house happens to fall downwind of our big pine tree in the front yard. RJ is caked with sap, and on top of that, dirt. He's been through the automatic several times, but this is going to take some elbow grease. And, my 5'4 isn't able to see the roof, much less reach it.

A few minutes ago, I got an email newsletter from the alumnae relations chair of my Alpha Delta Pi chapter in college. Sorority recruitment was a couple of weeks ago, and seeing the pictures of all the shiny, happy coeds in their starchy letter shirts sent pangs of sweet nostalgia through my body. I remember running into the chapter room on bid day with my bid card in-hand, having no idea how impactful those four years of Greek life would be for me. Such a happy time, and what a great joy to look back exactly ten years ago, and realize that I met some of my "life" friends on that day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Santa's Elf

I'm in the market for a new digital camera for a Christmas present to myself. My Canon Powershot bit the dust in May of 2008 and I haven't been able to afford to replace it until now. It was the end of my last day in Paris, so at least the timing was apropos. And, I can't really hold it agains the camera itself...I was the one who dropped it.

I cleaned out a junk closet at the house this weekend and came across my 35mm Canon Rebel SLR with my big fat Sigma lens. The camera is in flawless condition, and means so much to me....but it's not digital. My parents gave it to me for high school graduation, and it was my constant companion in college to document my shenanigans and a tool for my photography classes. It even accompanied me on my first trip to Amsterdam for a work trip. When I learned how to develop my own film and prints in college, I always thought I would someday have a darkroom and an expensive projector. I think that dream has died with the digital revolution and Photoshop.

So, it's time to buy a new point-and-shoot. My budget is around $300 or less, but I'd like to keep it on the $200 end. I want something that works reacts well to motion, as well as in low-light conditions. Canon is my brand of choice, but I'm also open to Nikon, and maybe some other industry leading brands. And, I'd like a camera that has at least 7 mpx with at least a 4x optical zoom. Lastly, my Powershot was on the large size with a finger grip. I'd like something more the size of a cell phone. Any suggestions? Any warnings?

Monday, September 14, 2009

E for Effort

As you may have figured out, I'm struggling a bit right now with writing. Don't ask me why. Life is good, but very steady and slightly boring right now. But, I'm trying to make the effort again. My wise friend Courtney says, "one must practice creativity."

I met with my new Merea last night at the Christian Women's Job Corps. I am a mentor in a program for women in poverty. A Merea is the Hebrew word for friend. We'll call my Merea "D." I won't lie, this time around is going to be a challenge for a variety of reasons. The last lady I mentored, "G," was very motivated and was well on her way to accomplishing her goals by the time we were introduced. I feel very illequipped to mentor "D," but that's where I'm going to have to be very trusting of God.

This past Saturday night, we celebrated Katie's birthday at "Bluebird on the Mountain." The Bluebird Cafe hosts a series of summer concerts on the front lawn of Vanderbilt's Dyer Observatory. It was such a calm, cool evening, and I enjoyed sitting there with a glass of red wine in one hand, a slice of brie in the other, surrounded by friends in lawn chairs. And, it's always a privilege to be reminded of Nashville's endless talent pool.

Katie, MA, Amy, Hadley, Arica

I've been doing a lot of reading lately. My book club book is a Pulitzer Prize winner called Middlesex. It's about the three generation-passing of a genetic trait for hermaphroditism. A girl is born in the 60s, but never menstruates, and finds out at age 15 that she is genetically a he. It's a weird, yet fascinating read. It could potentially be one of the best books I've read, based alone on the intricate and detailed character development.

Last week, I was invited to attend a listening party at work for Steven Curtis Chapmans' new album that hits stores in November. Steven was very transparent when he described his family's sorrow of the loss of his little girl last year, and all of the questions that one asks God through something like this. I'm not normally a SCC fan, but I haven't stopped listening to the pre-release copy I stole off Courtney's desk for the past week. The words to his songs are absolutely beautiful, and there are a couple of phrases that make tears well up in my eyes every time I hear them.

Speaking of work, we were notified recently of some major changes in how we structure our store zones. These changes affect me in a major way, but so far, I've not been given the resources or help to adjust accordingly. It's going to be a difficult process...even more difficult than the challenges I'm currently facing. I'm choosing to take it day-by-day, and do my best, despite this nagging feeling of failure I deal with constantly. I'm remembering John 8:44 in this.

Perhaps there is something going on inside my four walls that I won't talk about on this forum. But, it's good, and I do believe it might stick. It's going to require me to relinquish control and take a risk, and that's clearly hard for me. We shall see.

It just started raining outside, and that is such a beautiful sound to me. God sure does know how to love on me.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

You're the Inspiration

I've been feeling terribly uninspired and uncreative lately. This is not like me, but I haven't been able to shake it. Any suggestions?

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