The life of a not so average girl doing not so average things.

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Looking Forward, Glancing Backward

I know I am a bit late to the party, but I’d like to do a brief reflection on 2013.

Just prior to the last new year, I found myself really starting to fall for a friend of mine. Then, sh*t hit the fan with The Nerdmate and his new gal bringing out all the tremendously awful things about our relationship and why it ended. Subsequently I began to doubt everything I had held to be true, particularly about myself and I reverted to pushing my loved ones away.

That is how I began 2013, but it is not how I ended it.

2013 was the year that I rediscovered myself. I rediscovered my passions for painting, for academics, and for God. I had nothing left of the girl whom I had been with The Nerdmate and 2013 showed me that that was more than ok; that was bloody fantastic! In 2013 I rebuilt my self-image according to who and whose I am inside, not based on the arm I clung to.

In 2013 I was accepted and began my journey as a dual degree student at Princeton Theological Seminary. I met extraordinary people who I sincerely hope will be my friends for a lifetime.

I left people behind. It’s sad and I miss (some of) them every day, but our lives go trudging on and they are beautiful because of it.

I moved 1300 miles away from my family and my best friend.

I cried. A lot. More than I think I’ve cried in the rest of my years combined.

I fell in love with a town and with a youth group that didn’t fall back.

I learned to study.

I learned to forgive.

I learned to let go.

2013 was a hard year, but by far not the worst I’ve faced. I sought help when I needed it and I trusted others with my pain. 2013 was a year of huge change and I’m immensely grateful, because change came at the best time possible, whether I liked it or not. Usually not. 😉

2013 was the year that Plato drug me from his notorious cave and showed me what life in the sun looked like. Every step of the way hurt. It bruised me. It made me bleed. I kicked and I screamed. The sun initially burned so badly I could not keep my eyes open, but when I did… when I was finally able to see as I had never been able to see before; it was the most glorious thing I had ever beheld.

I can only hope that I learn as much in 2014 as I did last year. Maybe with a few less cuts and scrapes. Eh, Plato?

-Kay

You Must Take Me As A Whole

This particular post is going to get a bit rant-y, so if you’re not looking for that vibe, move along.

If you feel targeted by this post, then perhaps you are part of the problem, but trust me, there’s more than one person that has caused this.

Ok, commencing rant:

I am me. I don’t try to hide who I am or what I like or what I am passionate about. You get all of me, or you get none of me. It’s your choice and you needed to make it awhile ago. There are things that I am passionate about that you are not going to agree with. That’s fine! I don’t want all like minded friends and colleagues. I am in absolutely the wrong field if that’s what I need. I am going to get excited about things that you are not excited about, and the opposite is bound to occur as well. That is a good thing. A close friend of mine, I’ll call him Wash(from Firefly), said recently that the beautiful thing about friendship is that you get to lift up the things that your friends are excited about, even if independent of that friend that thing doesn’t excite you. He is absolutely right and he is wonderful about it! When Sporting KC won the MLS Cup last weekend, he was excited about it, because it made me happy. More of the people in my life need to take a lesson from his handbook.

Some of the things I get excited about you may think are childish or immature. Guess what. I don’t care what you think about it. I like, nay, I LOVE British television! I have a particular affinity for Doctor Who. I get really excited about Doctor Who. You might be wondering why and I will tell you. One, because I have been watching sci-fi and fantasy movies and tv, and reading sci-fi and fantasy books, my entire life. This is something that my parents, particularly my dad, were passionate about. I have been watching Doctor Who for the vast majority of my life. I grew up with Star Trek and Star Wars and Babylon 5 and Buffy and Angel and on and on and on. I have witnessed and participated in more games of Dungeons and Dragons then I ever care to try to count. My dad used to read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to us before bed and I have a knowledge of the Marvel universe to rival that of any nerd. These things are an essential piece of my personality, because they have made up key moments of my formation.

Soccer has also made up a huge part of my life. I was on my first team when I was four years old! All of my siblings have and do play soccer. My dad played on an adult team for much of my childhood. I have watching Sporting KC go from being The Wizards to the glory that they are now. I have watched them play games in every jersey that they have had. My first Wizards game wasn’t long after the team’s first game. Even more than sci-fi and fantasy, soccer is something that brings my family together. It may well be the one and only thing that we can agree on. It is the only thing that I can think of that we all are passionate about. And you haven’t seen passion until you’ve seen my dad and BigSis at a soccer game.

These are things I get excited about. These are things I rely on when I need a break from reality. Because, folks, often times reality sucks. Life is hard and it is painful and sometimes I need to shut my brain off. If you are at all connected to me, in real life or online, you will hear me talk about these things at great length and you need to be ok with that, or you need to find a new friend. This is me, but it is far from all of me. If you go to my Facebook, you are sure to see far more of my passion for social justice and the desire to spread love and charity than you will of anything else. I post, almost daily,  videos and articles from Upworthy, HuffPost, and countless others. So I’m sorry if you think my use of social media puts out an immature image of myself and I’m sorry if you have a vision of seminary students that only get excited about Biblical scholarship and what Augustine had to say about how the world does and should work, but that isn’t reality.

Trust me when I say that we need a break from that reality. We spend at least 3/4 of our time every day thinking about and talking about really heavy stuff. The reason I can’t sleep at night is because I can’t stop thinking about how it is our, my, responsibility to feed the hungry and clothe the poor. Most meals turn into theological discussions and sometimes the only way I can prepare for class is to not think about class. Seminarians are fun and we are lively and we get excited about a broad range of things, so if you think that there is something out there that seminarians don’t do or don’t say, I guarantee you are wrong. We are people. We are human. We have the same desires as everyone else. There is representation on my campus alone for every kind of funny bone imaginable, yes, even seminarians laugh at dirty jokes.

So please, PLEASE, hold you lectures about how I need to be on Facebook less or how I need to appear more professional online, because I am not going to feed future colleagues a load of crap about my personality. This is who you get and if they don’t like it, then I don’t want to work with them anyway! I will NOT stop having an online presence, because online is where young people are. I won’t be relevant to the Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and Tumblr generation if I don’t have a Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and Tumblr account! If you think that the only way to prepare for ministry is to have my head in a book and to button the collar of my button down shirt then I don’t want to do ministry your way! And if that means I have to reinvent ministry, then that’s what I’ll do. Because this is what you get, all of me, and some day someone is going to be DAMN glad to have me, because I am going to change lives. My love of science-fiction and TLOR and soccer and social justice and human rights and rom-coms and art and poetry and books and water balloon fights and snowball fights and boardgames and every other thing that I am, have been, and will be passionate and excited about will change lives.

I will not change for you or for anyone else.

-Kay

Tips From Friends

Depression. Sometimes we struggle with it. And it is always a struggle. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you’re dealing with it, it’s a struggle. For some of us it’s a severe condition, for some of us it’s seasonal, for some of us it gets worse depending on the climate of our new homes, the list of circumstantial pieces goes on and on. Here is a little something that the Bestie recently sent to me from The Twelve-Step Program for Life.

“1. There will be some days when you close your eyes while crossing the street, maybe because you want to see what fate has in store for you, or maybe because your depression is running rampant again and you don’t know how to calm her. It’s okay. I will still love you.

2. There will be a year, or a series of years when your birthday doesn’t feel special. Celebrate anyway. Because people spent time baking you a cake and buying you cards and even if they’re your family and they’re obligated to, they still love you. Cherish that love. Revel in it. It is the best gift you will ever receive.

3. You will learn that the saddest word in the English language is stay. Whether it’s your mother’s voice whispering it before you leave for college, or your ex-lover’s desperate screams as you walk out of the house, it will always be a hard word to hear. Sometimes you should listen to it, other times you shouldn’t. Trust yourself. Go with your gut.

4. Along with hearing the word stay, you will also hear the word why from every person who is remotely related to you. Why did you get that tattoo? Why did you try to kill yourself? Why aren’t you married yet? You don’t have to answer them. Be selfish. Keep somethings to yourself.

5. Some nights you won’t be able to sleep. You will lie awake at 2 am and contemplate existentialism and wonder if the French had a point. Get up. Get out of your bed. Do something. Because even if there is no God, what you do matters, who you are matters. You matter to me.

6. Some days you will want to run away and never return. So go. Drive to a small town in the Northwest, maybe Oregon, and settle down there for a while. Tell people your name is Elizabeth, because you loved Jane Austen as a child and because this a town full of strangers and who’s to know the difference? Don’t be selfish. Call your mother each night and remind her that you love her. Come back home when you find yourself seeing your sadness painted in the shadows, and when you feel more at home in the arms of a stranger than on your own.

7. There will be several nights when you lose yourself in the medicine cabinet, because liquor and morphine seem like a faster cure than time. It’s okay. I will still love you in the morning.

8. One day, in the midst of work, you will learn to forgive. It will start out with a simple reminder of the past, maybe a facebook notification from an old schoolmate or a wedding announcement from an ex-lover. In that moment you will learn that yearning for the past isn’t romantic, it’s stupid, and that if Gatsby had just let go of the green light he would’ve lived. So forgive your past, it didn’t know any better, and move on.

9. Leaving home will hurt, but soon you will learn that home isn’t a place but a feeling, and that there is a compass on your heart that points directly to that feeling. Follow that compass. Don’t get sidetracked by boys who don’t care or alcohol that doesn’t forgive. If you follow that compass, no matter how lost you get, you will always have a home.

10. The hardest lesson you will ever learn will be to love yourself. But you can do it. There will always be days when you hate yourself, days when you wish you had never been born. But darling you are beautiful, and if Shakespeare had met you you would’ve inspired his 18th sonnet, and if Monet had known you he would’ve given up painting water lilies and chosen to paint you instead. I know it’s hard to love yourself, but sometimes it’s okay to be a little selfish with your love.

11. When you begin to feel worthless, remember that the stars died for you. You are made of elements that are thousands of years old, elements that make up every atom of your being. When you want to cut your wrists, remember that the souls of stars live in your veins. Don’t kill them. Don’t be selfish.

12. Some days will be beautiful. Live for those days. Live for the days when the sun shines on your soul and the smile on your face isn’t forced. Live for the days when you don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks because your scars are a part of your story and you don’t need someone else’s approval to wear them with pride.

Live for the life you always wanted but were too scared to pursue.

Live for you. Live for me. Live for every person who has ever loved you, for the people who have come before you so that you may be here today.

Live for the fire that burns in your soul, that tells you: keep going, you’re almost there, just a little farther. Because when Rome burned down the emperor didn’t run away, he stayed and he sang for his people. Stay. Sing for your people. Sing for us. Are you listening? Because this is your life, singing a siren song to capture your attention and steer away from the rocks, to guide you back home.”

-The Twelve-Step Program for Life, by M.K.

For more helpful everyday tips, here are some notes from a DIY blog I follow of a woman who deals with severe depression. She is great and I love her sharp, sometimes dry, wit. 🙂

-Kay

To Make You Feel My Love*

*I prefer Mick McAuley and Winifred Horan’s cover of this masterpiece.

 

I don’t necessarily listen to this song with a romantic notion of love in mind, although in some cases that would be an accurate interpretation. I genuinely feel this way about all of the people I care deeply about. I have “no doubt in my mind where you belong.” “There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do to make you feel my love.” I feel that intensely about the people in my life and I hurt when they hurt.

We’ve been discussing Lamentations and lament psalms and laments in the prophets and I have felt like it’s the most relevant thing I’ve ever studied. I see so much pain and suffering in the world, particularly amongst my loved ones, and it makes me angry! It makes me question where God is at in all of it sometimes and reading the Old Testament tells me that that’s ok. It’s ok to ask questions. It’s ok to lament and be angry, because I am not the first person to blame God. You are not the first person to blame God. And yes, I have faith that God will do something good with all it and I will keep praising him, but right now I just need to put my emotions out there and it’s my job to let those who are hurting know that they have a resource to use when they cannot find the words to express their anger and sorrow. I’ve been there, you’ve been there. Sometimes we have so much to say, but our language is limited.

Well, turn to Jeremiah. Turn to Lamentations. They are beautiful in that they are so harsh and honest. Jer. 20:13 says that the LORD has enticed Jeremiah. The footnotes there in the Harper Collins edition say that this is typically read as rape language, that this is the most blasphemous curse in the Bible. And he was the LORD’s prophet! This was a man that God loved. If he can make such a harsh statement and still speak to the people on behalf of God, well, then I’m not doing too bad. Better yet, it must be ok to angry with God sometimes.

What beauty! What grace I feel knowing this, because sometimes I DO blame God for my situation. I often identify with this particular passage, because, like Jeremiah, I was enticed into ministry at a young age and as a result I do not have other training. I am solely equipped for ministry and sometimes that means dealing with the weight of the world, sometimes it means working myself ragged to pay the bills or to get a necessary education. It is God who gave me a heart the size of the Pacific Ocean and it is God who has convicted me to take care of the lost and the broken. Sometimes, I feel I may be torn in two as my heart leaps from my chest. Sometimes, what awaits me is terrifying.

But I am not alone. We are not alone.

So let it out. Yell and scream and cry and, yes, curse, because we have Biblical examples of that and God is listening to the hearts of honest men and women.

-Kay

Sometimes A Smile is the Biggest Lie

The title of this post makes it sound so much more glum than things really are. I really am doing quite ok. I’ve had the opportunity to have short conversations with Bestie and last night I spent two hours on FaceTime with Big Sis. I haven’t had much of a chance to talk to The Nerd(aka Little Sis), but I know she’s busy experiencing college and spending time with her boyfriend. I do miss her, though. Also Little Man. He’s gotten so busy with boy scouts and soccer and choir and band and theatre, and the list goes on, that he’s never home when I call. I try not to feel sad about that, though, because I’m so proud of him. He’s growing into such an amazingly talented and SMART, geeze is he smart, young man. Sometimes I can’t believe he’s only 12.

Anyway, I didn’t really mean to blab on and on about my family, but they’re just so amazing. I came here to fill you in on what’s been happening in my life!

Well, first of all, I was in a car accident a week and a half ago. I’m ok. The car is going to be ok. The other driver is ok. It was a pretty wretched way to come back from my short visit to MO, but it could have been so much worse. Today was my first day back to work at PPL and I definitely feel the soreness and stiffness, but it was good to be back. I do a surprising amount of thinking while I’m at the library. The kind of thinking I used to do when I shelved at Smiley or when I would spend hours a week driving back and forth from Grandview in high school.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. I’ve felt the weight of the world. All the sadness and pain I see in the news and in the people I interact with. I don’t know, it’s like my undergrad experience and my experiences working in ministry have taught me to be aware of what others are facing and dealing with and I feel so convicted to do SOMETHING that it’s becoming a problem. I love school and I believe in an educated ministry, but it’s so hard to do seminary when I’m wading through the issues of the world. I can’t sleep at night, my social skills are suffering, I don’t have an appetite, I can’t focus in class…

Again, this makes it sounds so much worse than the situation is. I’m still going to class everyday and doing my homework and doing fairly well, I think, I’m just distracted. And I need to figure out a way to refocus very soon, otherwise it will be a problem.

I’ve also been fighting some of my own demons, but if ministry has taught me anything it’s that our demons never really go away. I just have to trust in the God who loves me to help me make it through. And also take proactive measures against myself. It’s really easy to get trapped in my own head space, especially when I’m so far away from the people who can get me out of it.

Hot tea helps. 🙂 I think hot tea might be able to solve the world’s problems. Maybe not hunger. I’m still working on that one.

-Kay

Two in One

Typically, you get restless waiting on new material. However, today I am patiently sitting in the waiting area of the Plainsboro Surgical Hospital waiting for my friend to get out of surgery. She is having surgery on her ankle, because it is not healing properly after a walking accident during Orientation. She basically did the same thing that I did in high school when I broke my ankel/foot by standing up on it while it was asleep.

Anyway, the result of this down time is that I wrote a post about the library AND am going to share a few thinks with you that contain information/words that I think everyone should read/hear.

Here’s one that pretty closely echos some of my frustrations with the Shutdown and also convicted me to claim the whole body of Christ, not just the parts and people I like. The only way to change the way people view the Church is the change the parts of the Church that don’t live up to Jesus’ teaching.

And here’s some Shutdown humor. Part 1 and part 2.

How about one for those young women who forget they are amazing?

And one for the men.

Here’s a few things I think women should consider reading.

And a poem that I think demonstrates a wide array of things that young women are wrongly being taught.

I share/ have shared a lot of this stuff on Facebook, but this is an insight into the kinds of things I am passionate about. Tada!

-Kay

Princeton Public Library

Hello, all!

I owe you a post about my new job at the library! First of all, you should know that I absolutely adore it. Secondly, you should know that my job makes it very difficult not to come home with new books all the time.

I have a more behind the scenes job than my previous position at Smiley Memorial Library which I was initially disappointed with. However, I work in Access Services and am in charge of discard responsibilities. This means I do something that the library staff like to call “DnX-ing.” What this means is that when books are pulled off the shelves to be discarded, whether due to damages or low circulation, I delete and suppress their records on Sierra and on the inter-library systems. After that, the books are stacked into huge boxes on pallets and are donated to the Friends of the Library book sales and charity events. In other words, these books go directly back into the community.

The challenge of my job is not coming home with new books every day. I process books all the time that had key positions in my childhood and adolescence. Time Cat was the first novel I read to myself; I read it during Map Testing in Ms. Kenoke’s first grade class. Harold and the Purple Crayon was my favorite book as a child. I learned time with Mickey and Pluto go to Space and knew it so well that I tried to convince my mom and dad that I knew how to read. Unfortunately, holding the book upside down and backwards tipped them off to my scheme. Reading Harry Potter and Anne Rice novels was my first real rebellion. I fell deeply in love with the classics in middle school, because I dealt with my own issues by sorting through the responses of famous literary characters from the past and from far away places. Austen, Dickens, Orwell, Tolkien, and Lewis, just to name a few, have predominant places on my many bookshelves.

When books like these have low circulation numbers, it honestly breaks my heart. I feel the deep set desire to bring them back to my dorm and give them the loving home they deserve. Unfortunately, I do not have the space to do that with every book. I know that these texts will be circulated back into the community and some of them will even reach children who may otherwise not have access to books, and these are the only solace I can find. I have to constantly remind myself of these things, because otherwise I would despair at the lack of reading taking place in a community such as Princeton, NJ.

That’s a gross exaggeration of the situation. Lots of reading takes place and we service hundreds of patrons a week. They just don’t read the same things I read, I guess. It does help that most of what is discarded is either children’s literature or has been damaged. And fear not, the children’s literature collection is by no means shrinking. Packages come through our offices every day that are chalk full of books, often for children and young adults.

I love my job. I love that I get to be around books all the time. I moan a lot about the amount of reading I do here for classes, but I do love reading. I love the smell and texture of books. Books whose pages done align perfectly on the edge of the book are my favorites. There is not much that I think is more beautiful than books on shelves, of books in laps, and in windowsills. Books are food for the soul and my job is to help the library get them into the hands of the community. I love that!

-Kay