Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Charlie the Bird lives at Happy Foods.

Very rarely am I in my own neighborhood. 6 out of 7 days I am on the West side in Lawndale where I work, in East and West Garfield Park and Humboldt Park where my friends live. Or you can find me in Lincoln Park where I go to school and love the family I babysit for frequently. I come home to sleep, paint and hang out with grandma. But yesterday my usually independent grandma fell in the snow so today I didnt want to let her run her Christmas errands in this crazy weather alone so I was her chauffer. What a funny day in the neighborhood. First, getting the car down the street was hard enough because it seems that the snowplows totally forgot our streets. I wanted to take a different route that led right to a busy street (Milwaukee) instead of her usual neighborhood side streets all the way route. She was mad as this was not the way that we usually go. I tried to explain my rationale of safety and ease of navigating as she argued that Alderman Daughtery is her friend and he plows the streets himself. Apparently, one year like FOREVER ago my grandma and grandpa could not get out of the garage because the snow was so deep in the alley. My grandma made a phone call to the alderman's office and TEN minutes later they came and plowed the alley. This is one of her only real intersections with the local or national government and this has given her great faith that the system here works. Milwaukee looked like snow never fell on it, while the side streets looked like a huge grey slushee and winter wonderland. But I let her talk and complain for approximately 11 blocks. We got to happy foods, a tiny grocery store with huge yellow smiley faces all over it, and it was INSANE. Like food was going out of style or a famine had engulfed the land. People everywhere. Everyone knew everyone. It was funny, a blast from the past as all the kids around me had Irish dancing coats on or jackets from the Catholic schools around there (St. Thecla (Thats where its at!), St. Monica, St. Mary of the Woods, St, Juliana). A few men had an Irish brogue ( = accent) and most of the kids had oodles of freckles.
As we navigated the tiny cart down the even narrower aisles, the people shouted back and forth about their Christmas eve plans (drinking, eating, drinking). We came to the end of an aisle and my grandma told me to go knock on the door and ask for Jack. I was like what? Why? I did. Jack appears and is excited to see "Ol Mrs. Murphy" and appears with our Christmas Roast which costs way too much to be made out of just meat. She slips him some money and he tries to refuse once, twice, then accepts what we all knew he would all along. A small brown bird is flying over our heads and sitting on the hanging christmas displays in all the aisles. People are pleasantly surprised by the little creature and kids ran around following his flight path. As we rounded the fruit aisle, I asked the kid working there about the bird and he said it had been there for a few days and they had no plans to remove it. They tried once to shoo it but it didnt work as we could see. When we were checking out, I asked them about the bird and they said "Charlie? Yeah he lives here now." I asked how he eats and the girl admitted some of them leave crumbs around when they lock up at night. She also said that there are now 2 birds and she hopes they mate and have Happy Food babies. When we were walking to the car, I asked my grandma how she affords that meat. She said she buys cheaper paper towels all year long.

And the funny thing is....She is serious. She likes ViVa paper towels but for some reason we always get the plain white Bounty!!!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I am my own kryptonite.

Through several recent current events, I have come across the realization that I am a maniac about rejection. Rejection in any form at all. From men, from women, from businesses, schools, stores, credit card companies, scholarships, pets, kids I babysit for. I avoid situations that in any way could contribute to the vast possibility of being rejected in some form. I think this is an issue of pride. That was one area where I thought I did not struggle. I struggle to think well of myself, let alone be prideful in any way shape or form. Perhaps though, an absence of pride or self worth is just as much an issue I should seek God in. God made us all in his likeness and image, and I can see the good in everyone else but somehow that God-given love for the lost and forgotten and my ability to see the good in people no matter how hidden is lost on me. I am my own kryptonite.

Did you ever get to a point in your life where you thought things would get better? I mean I remember being like 10 years old and hearing about how the world was going to end in 2000 or 2010 and worrying...(that was my hobby as a child) but thinking that I would be like 21 or 30 and that I could handle that then. I remember thinking that when I got older, I could handle everything and that relational problems and awkward situations were a thing of adolescence. That is so incredibly not true. I didnt care at all what people thought back then. I had this innocence or naivety, some prefer to call it a lack of discernment(!?!?!) But now here I am 29 years old and its like I am more awkward and shy then ever. What happened?

I also thought that I would be 29 and I would be this successful *fill in the blank*
(teacher, social worker, secretary, mom, wife)
And its pretty obvious that I am not.
I am in college.
I am an intern and honestly, its not going that well.
I babysit for extra money.
I am not married.
I have no kids.
I dont even have my dog anymore.

I thought I would be 29 and have this whole secure grown up life. But I dont. I struggle now more than ever with opening up to people and being friends or in community. The older I get the more broken I get, which right now is terrifying.
The whole pyramid is inverted. I feel like I am regressing.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I hope you have a crappy Christmas.

My mom refuses presents on Christmas.
We used to be so mad and like "Oh Mom!Please!"
We would wrap up presents with birthday paper and put tags on the gifts that said Happy Arbor Day instead. She always said that Christmas wasnt about presents. We just thought it was another one of those things Mom is doing again.

but she was right. And it totally caught on in the family here in Chicago a few years ago. Even before I was a Christian....

Is there a better example of the perversion of man and sinfulness of the world than Christmas?
The reason for Christmas is Jesus and his birth.
Somehow, it has been turned into a season of joy or a Holiday season. A time for being with family? Christmas trees? Where did Santa come in, was he a take off on one of the wise men? Reindeer? (I like animals so I wont hate too much on them) Lights, ornaments, trees, presents, wrapping paper and bows. Elaborate Christmas parties with fancy outfits and food and drinking. Holiday songs about mistletoe and elves. And money. So much money.

I read of a mob at a Walmart this year. People fighting over each other to get to a sale item. A man was killed in the melee. He was an employee. Also, a pregnant woman miscarried due to the hustle and bustle and getting so knocked around. How did it come to this?
I worked at Kohls one christmas season for extra money. It was the year of the tickle me elmo. Grown women fought over this stupid red toy that I hated. It vibrated and laughed so creepy. I remember seeing the hate and envy and greed that year. Now during the holidays I wrap presents for wealthier families for extra cash that helps me eek out a living. They purchase so many presents that they cant wrap them all so I come and help. I wrapped over 300 presents last year. I am a pro.


A pastor of an affluent church was apparently overcome by the godlessness in Christmas everywhere but in his church as well. He spread manure all over the floor of the sanctuary and when people came in on Sunday it smelled horrible. He was like No, THIS is Christmas. This is what it is so you come in and sit here with me and we remember.

God came to earth as a human, a baby and was so unimportant to us that he could find nowhere to be born but a barn.
That is what it smelled like in there. It wasnt all warm and glowy and mary wearing a blue robe and joseph with his staff and cuddly lamby watching. It was poop and filth and no medicine and pretty hospital and luxury.
That was the first thing Jesus did that for us and we take his birthday and turn it into a shop a pallooza.

I feel sick.

And people get upset when we talk about an angry God.

Crappy Christmas....Get it.
Remember how jesus was born and celebrate the right things this year.

I pray that I am able to more fully share this message with my family and everyone I come into contact with.
For Christmas this year, I wish my family would really pray together.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Your pants are clearly on fire!

Liar liar, pants on fire.

Little white lies.

Honesty is something I am huge on. It is so incredibly hard to trust people, and I am a perfect example why. I am sinful, and wretched and do bad things. I cannot trust myself most days and the bible clearly says why: The heart's deceitful above all things ( Jeremiah 17:9 but pointed out to me today via the Flame/Shai Linne song "To My Heart").

But how honest am I?

Until very recently, I was not honest with someone I am super super close to: ME. I often try to lie to myself by telling myself I can deal with certain situations and relationships, situations or that I am over things people said or did when in fact it is banging around in the pit of my stomach where I pushed all those feelings and emotions. Its not like I can hide my emotions from anyone who is not blind, deaf or breathing. I am not smooth or slick or gifted in any surreptious fashion. The Lord sought out to force me to be honest by making me completely transparent 98% of the time. But apparently since I cant see myself often, I believe my own lies.

This has been a season of honesty for myself. Not a fun season exactly but more of a brutal open hunting season.

Anyway... I was inclined to write this post as my mother, grandmother and I were discussing lies the other day. The situation is that a few weeks ago I stopped at a gas station in South Holland (the town not the country) due to some car problems, specifically my car was saying it was very very hot. A very nice man happened over as I was looking bewildered under my hood and offered to help. He added some fluids and checked others and when I went around the remove my gas pump he closed the hood and told me I was all set and no more problems for my car, Have a safe trip home. As I guided my car back onto the expressway, I remarked to my car full of friends that you just dont find people like that anymore. That man was so very nice and thoughtful and went out of his way to help me with only hitting on me the bare minimum and asking for my phone number once. No seriously, he did all that for no reason! And after I turned down his request, he still filled my fluids and smiled and shook my hand. As I went on and on about how impressed I was at how caring he was, I hit about 60 on the expressway and suddenly WHAM! the hood detached from the car and plastered itself onto the windshield, smashing it. That nice young man forgot to close the hood and I didnt think to check it.

Long story short, I am fine,we are all fine and I just got my car back yesterday. About two hundred dollars later, my white toyota camry now sports a shiny black hood (it was cheaper).
But unfortunately, I could not fix the windshield yet. It will cpst another 150$ and I dont have that right now. The smash mark is on the drivers side and while its not humongous, it is like someone punched the windshield trying to get at my face or something.

SO THE HONESTY PART (you were wondering how I was going to pull this all together werent you?) I will be driving all over the Chicagoland area as I usually do, with a cracked windshield. My mom and grandma were creating elaborate sorrow filled stories (lies) for me to be prepared with in case I get pulled over since it is illegal and costly to drive with a smashed windshield. I told them that those were lies and wrong per the ten commandments. They were shocked and after a long heated debate my grandma usurped my declaration that all lying is wrong by saying, "NO all lying is not wrong. If you tell a lie and no one gets hurt or nothing bad happens then its not a sin. White lies are NOT a sin."

I told her she made that up and if we could do that and it be true then dogs would fly and I would never have to clean. She and my mother definitively agreed that white lies are not harmful or bad.