Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Older Women Teach

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior… to teach what is good, and so train the young women… that the word of God may not be reviled.

Recently I have been noticing how much my relationships with older women have been developing. Now, by “older women” I simply mean women who have been handling life a little bit longer than I have—not that anyone is actually old. As I continue through life, some things are getting easier, but a lot of things are getting harder. Having more experienced people’s help along the way makes a HUGE difference.

These godly women have been helping to fill the void left by my mother. I wouldn’t say that anyone is formally mentoring me, but they are all teaching me something: one woman loves to remind me that she didn’t even meet her husband till she was 30. Another one has the best dessert recipes ever! Another has never been able to have children. Another one is a little bit older and still single, but she’s probably the coolest person I’ve ever met.

Something I’ve been learning about life is that no two experiences are the same. There may be some general similarities, but the happy family with 2.5 kids is more the exception than the rule. Nobody’s life is perfect, certainly not all the time. What matters is your ability to gracefully deal with all the conflict and confusion, especially in the everyday.

The best part is that most of the time, these women inspire me without even realizing it. I may see them at church, or at work, or on facebook, or at Walmart… the where does not matter because of who they are. They are living as virtuous examples. It’s a little scary to think that there's always someone younger who might be watching me, looking for her own role model. I guess the good news is that we “older women” are all in the whole “teaching” thing together.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Christmas Time Is Here

Christmas is coming! Based on my calculations it should be here… tomorrow! Yes, I know the calendar says it should take another 124 days, but based on how quickly the summer went by, I figure it will only feel like one day, maybe two. Personally, I had planned to do a lot over the summer but ran out of time. After all, you can’t do much overnight.

That’s sure what it feels like to me. It feels like commencement was just yesterday, yet we already have convocation today. Somehow, I managed to be in a wedding, find a new apartment, undergo knee surgery, go to New York three times, and fall in love with my Kindle—all between yesterday and today. However, that isn’t nearly as much as I had wanted to do!

So little time, so much to do. I had wanted to get to the beach. I had wanted to have a Lord of the Rings marathon. I had wanted to rearrange my office. I had wanted to update my blog more often. Somehow, all that time just got away from me. Crazy work hours dominated the few days of nice weather with which Scranton is graced every year. Life has always been a battle between what I need to do and what I want to do.

The beautiful thing about Christmas is its scheduled sanctity. We get federal holidays and office parties and bonus checks: we get a BREAK. I don’t know about you, but I know that I’m already looking forward to the vacation. All those tranquil days of quiet snow that can be spent cuddled under a blanket on the couch… I’m feeling peaceful just thinking about it! Good thing it will be here tomorrow.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Toy Story

A very scary thing happened to me yesterday: I legitimately used the phrase “when I was your age.” This terrifies me because I don’t think I’m that old! However, when confounded by the modern toy industry, it was entirely appropriate. All my friends are having babies now and a generation gap has officially formed twixt my own childhood and “kids these days.”

The problem was that I was searching for a classic toy. I checked the toy departments in Walmart and Target first, because I was there anyway. Then I went to Toys R Us, which was a huge mistake. The only sales associate I could find was a teenager who looked like she hated her job almost as much as she hated her life. How could you hate working at a toy store? Only way to beat that would be to work in Santa’s workshop itself!

She just gave me a blank stare when I said that I couldn’t find a paratrooper toy. “What’s a paratrooper?” I very politely described the parachuting soldier doll, trying my best not to call her an idiot. She had another blank stare, then mumbled something about them not having it and walked off. I resumed the search on my own and eventually concluded that she her lazy guess had been correct.

When we were growing up, my brothers and I had basic toys, mostly because we never had any money. I loved my Etch-A-Sketch and Polly Pockets. What I did not love was stepping on random Lego blocks all over the house. We actually played with our toys, often even outside. The only “luxury” toy I ever had was my American Girl doll, which was a Christmas gift from my grandparents. I definitely still have her.

Most of our toys were pretty low-tech. I did have a Galaxy class U.S.S. Enterprise model with detachable dish and warp engines, which even made warp and torpedo sounds. There was always great debate between me and Andrew about who had the Enterprise and who had the Klingon Bird of Prey—but we always agreed that James got the lame shuttlecraft.

It was such a big deal when the boys got their first Nintendo 64. Up until then, my Furby had been the most high-tech toy. We never did get Gameboys. As I looked around at all the new toys yesterday, I was amazed. Almost none of them lacked electronics of some sort. G.I. Joe and Barbie are now fully articulated, yet even they were largely outnumbered by action figures for the latest movies.

The lack of educational toys was heartbreaking. When I was a kid, we still had to use our heads to play. We actually learned how to build rockets! Nowadays, toys don’t leave much room for imagination. You don’t have to imagine your toys coming to life when they can already walk and talk and fight crime on their own. Give me a Thomas the Tank Engine set any day. You can keep your Orbeez Soothing Spa set.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Little House in a Good Hood

Sometimes God’s perfect timing comes when you least expect it. My friend Laura and I recently experienced one such surprise blessing: a new apartment! Everything has worked out so perfectly that there is no way we could have planned it so well ourselves. Weeks later, I still can’t believe it all actually happened.

What happened was that I realized I hadn’t seen my fellow librarian Laura in ages and felt like a bad friend, so we had dinner on a Saturday night. Around the same time, I realized that my current lease was about to be up. Over the course of dinner, we got to talking and figured out that it might be a good idea for the two of us to look for a new place together.

When I got home Saturday night, I hopped on Google to have a look around. At the top of the list was an ad for an apartment that was showing the next day. It really looked too good to be true, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to go check it out. I emailed Laura and she thought the same thing. So Sunday afternoon, we went to have a look.

It actually was as awesome as it looked online—way bigger than the shoebox I’d been living in, with hardwood floors and a new kitchen, conveniently located near our jobs. The space was actually on two floors (living room and kitchen downstairs, two bedrooms and bath upstairs), making it feel more like a little house than an apartment. The price was exactly where Laura and I had agreed we felt comfortable.

We fell in love with the apartment, but figured we’d never get it. After all, we’re practically still just kids, and several other people were also interested. The landlords said they would make a decision and let us know by the end of the week. Monday morning they called to say it was ours if we wanted it. Of course we wanted it!

Less than 48 hours after deciding to look around, we had it. There were still lots of details to work out. I had to move out of my apartment; Laura had to move out of her parents’ house. It got pretty crazy for a while there. There were a few little snags, like getting the electricity turned on, but everything eventually fell into place. A big thanks again to all my friends who helped us!

I am now living in a genuine neighborhood for the first time in… a long time. We already knew the family nextdoor, who turned out to be some of my coworkers. I just love hearing the kids playing in their yards and sometimes even mine. There was even a big bonfire the day after we moved in, so I got to meet everyone almost immediately.

It never ceases to amaze me how the timing in life correlates with personal development. Did it happen because I was ready? Or was I ready because it was happening? I’ll never know. All I can do is wonder what’s coming next. For now, I’m more than content to dream about the future from my awesome new home. Be jealous.