Saturday, December 17, 2011

When I was sinking down

Sometimes, when I have too much time to think about it ("it" being my "love life" and the time being those days right after the student finally realizes that there are absolutely no papers to write for absolutely zero classes), my heart gets heavy. Sometimes, your body is weighed down by some inexplicable force besides gravity. It can happen on the train, alone, witnessing a moment. A specific person comes to mind immediately. That person is the exact emotional and relatable substance you want to be sitting or standing next to you when you see or hear this particular moment. But, they're not there. That's all about missing someone, I know. Lots of people. It happens. Maybe it's also because my body's heavy from being sick, or because I miss my close friends, far away, or because I'm not singing. Or, the reality that, even during the "happy" holidays, hate, greed, and hunger still happen. True loneliness, grief, longing, inpenetrable sorrow.

God still calls us to lift our heavy hearts, bodies, emotions, not just at Christmas time but all the time. Because the Baby Jesus DID come and he DID die for you and me. So, it counts for something that we spread the cheer - faithfully and whole-heavy-heartedly keep the love going around all year long, not ignoring the evil, but spreading the good, not glossing it over, but penetrating it wherever it might be.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

As for my "love life," it's the only thing that's actually "lonely," but me, myself? I have so much to make me, well, not alone, which makes for a full, heavy heart.

What wondrous love is this
That caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down,
Beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb I will sing;
Who is the great I AM,
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on,
And when from death I’m free
I’ll sing His love for me,
And through eternity I’ll sing on.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Manchester Victoria Station

I came across some of my old poetry the other day - some that I wrote in the last five years. Seems more like a decade ago, because so much has happened. It was comforting to read my own words again, knowing exactly what they mean. Maybe it's because they're still all my words, not really meant for an audience. Not an essay, a review, a feature story. Just poetry. Just words and lines, and my own goofy life between the spaces and line breaks, inside and underneath. Maybe it's selfish, but it really is something to look back, know yourself then, and know yourself now.

I wrote Manchester Victoria Station for a poetry publication in college. The critics of the publication said there was a tragedy and desperate longing in the poem. I agree, and that stinking hopelessness really is there, because that's what I thought a lot of things were - hopeless. I've never even been to Manchester. It's ironic that I would write a "love" poem about it, though, because putting the thoughts into words confirms something, not sure what, maybe the existence of that actual hope of going there someday and having the conversation. It's all forgettable and memorable at the same time. So utterly and despicably sentimental.

I haven't written a poem in two years. Now, I don't think every thought and sentence has to be poetically unforgettable and sentimental. Not that all poetry is like that or should be. But, the sappiness of my old words has probably disappeared because reality slapped it right out of me. Sometimes, though, I still think in measure, iambic pentameter, and hopeless romanticism. But that's rare now, because I realize actual love isn't held together by these things.

Our kneecaps touched on the train.
A five-hour surge soda
pulsed through my veins,
at the touch of our denims

Your lips fluttered,
smooth and jagged at once
while stories spilled out and
laughter echoed them apart

Mine put to shame,
as they were bitten
and trembling

I felt your big-hearted blue eyes
wash over me

     off the stool and 
     onto the brick.

Your warm hand
on the small of my back
the fog of air from your mouth
hazing me closer

I could only hear the song of
the tickle of our eyelashes

And your smile
draping the rims of my mouth

And our kneecaps tapping gently
as your heat filled my lungs

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Homeward Bound

My dog, Mollie, is 12 years old - which makes her 84 in dog years! Yes, she is the best. We got her the day my Mom, Dad, brothers and I pressed our hands into the wet cement outside our new house in 1999. I put my hand over the imprint the other day, and it's about twice as big as that imprint. At that time, Mollie was a little puppy with really sharp teeth and really sharp making-everyone-melt-even-when-she-tore-up-the-yard skills. She was one when I was 12. Now's she's 12, and I'm twice her age. But she's so much wiser. I suppose that might be why she's got 7 times the wisdom - and maybe why they figure dog years by that number. Coming home to her stooped on the porch is a big comfort. This time, for Thanksgiving break, it's almost as if she knew how dreadfully much I had missed her and home, and being able to look at the handprints of my family in the cement anytime I want.

I realized that dogs I've seen elsewhere, (all of which I like to imagine are Mollie's good long lost friends - the kid in me) are quick to become my friends, too. I wouldn't be as joyful without them around. I think their innocence makes me feel like a kid again.

"You've learned all you need to know, Chance. Now all you need to learn is how to say goodbye." - Shadow, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
 Duke: Nebraska, 1991

Mollie: Nebraska, 2008

Unknown: Madrid, 2009

Unknown: Barcelona, 2009

  Rocco: Annapolis, 2010

Daisy: Annapolis, 2010

Unknown: New York City, 2011

Petra: St. Louis, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I don't want my blog to become a form of narcissistic self examination - confirmation of my own self-worth. But, sometimes, that's what it I write a self examination about writing another self examination. Sure, call me cynical, critical, worrisome, pessimistic. (Write something positive, Linds! Be happy.) It's getting harder to write seriously about happy things. I've gone snarky. So, I thought I'd let a few things speak for themselves. I dug these out of my quote bin just now. Yes, I have a quote collection - pages and pages.

"I don't know what I think about that because I don't know where people's hearts are. It's important to not judge without knowing their hearts. If their heart is to honor the Lord, then it's a good thing. Only God can judge because only God knows what's truly in a person's heart." - Tim Tebow

"I feel that everything that pulled me to the city slowly pushes me away from it, and everything I grew up with that pushed me away from the farm is what’s pulling me back. The peace and quiet and the freedom that I actually never realized meant as much as it did. We didn’t have any neighbors for miles, woodlands to run around in. We had a lot of things to catapult our imagination when you didn’t even know what imagination was. Life’s too short when you find yourself sitting in a car for four hours every day trying to get from East L.A. to West L.A. to Hollywood and then back to East L.A." - Garrett Hedlund

"I think at this point most creative things are pretentious or ambitious so it's just a waste of time to apologize for trying to develop your skills or eye or whatever. Everyone is so worried about seeming hipster but I dunno, I think caring about what kind of clothes other people wear or what kind of music they like is the most hipster. I would much rather be taking pictures and writing and be way in over my head and none of it even be that good than not do anything. Otherwise, I would probably be one of those people who puts all their self-perception in what their tastes say about them since they don't have anything they themselves make or do because they're afraid they won't be good at it because they believe you can't be creative just for yourself and that someone will say they are bad at it. Which just makes you think about what your tastes say about you all the more, which is that stupid mentality of people who are annoyed by hipsters. I just wanna like what I like! Where in this world is there any passion anymore! Any commitment! Once I didn't leave the couch for 25 hours except to go to Ihop. That took commitment." -Tavi Gevinson  

You might be thinking this post is a cop-out, but when somebody says somethin' - peep's got somethin' to say about what they know, feel, and think. And, sometimes, I get it: the beauty of it all (Oh, look. Something positive).

"A writing space like this in the blogosphere, can be a narrative, not just an internal dialogue. I want to connect with people (I'm also really bad at keeping in touch)." - Self-involved me

Also, here's to living vicariously through professional sports teams. 
Go Blackhawks!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Confessions. Wait, what?

Sometimes there are paragraphs. And sometimes there are stupid paragraphs. And sometimes there are ridiculous paragraphs. Case in point:

"Interestingly - at least, to me - Frankfurt goes on to show how bullshit differs from lying. And, furthermore, Frankfurt claims that the bullshitter's presence is actually more dangerous to the health of liberal society than that of the liar; for, what distiguishes lying from bullshitting is a certain respect for the truth. Whereas the bullshitter only respects the power of utterances to persuade based upon emotion and, as such, finds no use for any given truth of science, theology, philosophy, or whatever, the liar, in concealing the truth from his conversation partner, actually respects the truth a great deal more than the bullshitter."

Wait, what?
 ...if you care to read on:

Let's begin one more time. Here's how I see it.

"Interestingly enough, bullshit differs from lying? Hm. The truth is, we're all liars and we're all bullshitters. Utterances, as such, that we are not...are bullshit."

I bring this up because I have fallen victim to my own, um, bullshit. I'll start using a more tasteful word. Let's go with hypocrisy, maybe? No. Hold on. I'm going to for this one...of course, it's not on dictionary/ Let's try Always a dangerous task.  No more internet filters, if you know what I'm talking about. So: nonsense, exaggeration, lies.

My confession of nonsense. No...bullshit (no better word), is this. I've been hypocritical of this city and its people, thinking oftentimes I'm much well off coming from the farm, living simply. Not only is this a little assuming, it's also caused some insincerity and judgment on my part, which I've been excusing as culture shock and a loss of patience. I've also made an excuse for not blogging for a couple of weeks: pressure - from this whole idea of writing for you. But that's not really a valid excuse either. Rather, I'm unsure of my actual ability to not bullshit. I'm trying to write better, become edgier, become more informed.

I have also admittedly been angry at friends. Of course, for selfish reasons. Forgiveness is another thing I learned again in church on Sunday. Did I also mention this church, Saint Luke, is where Paul Manz was Cantor Emeritus? Yes, he was. I miss singing his music with the A Cappella choir. I miss it so freaking much. And I miss you.

At this point, I'd like to dedicate this blog post to Momma Auten, because, even though I'm in a funk, she actually made me realize, there is no funk. Just fear and excuses. I am so thankful she was able to come visit for her birthday! Happy 29th Birthday, Mom! Just kidding, she's not 29, but she is a beautiful age, and a wonderful wisdom to behold. Trust me on this.

 In other news...even though the Blackhawks have had a rough couple of days.

That was no bullshit, excuse my language. That was LEGIT.

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or bran; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your hear on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.'" -Luke 12: 22-34

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Patchin' it up.

Today was PUMPKIN PATCH day, except there wasn't really a patch, just a lot of pumpkins, and giraffe-feeding, a pumpkin-eating dinosaur, corn maze, petting zoo, camel rides, roasted corn, kettle corn (lots of corn), and pig races (so many piggy puns - I wish I could remember all of them). And 50/50. If you want, you should see it. And lately, just a few thoughts over the last few hours.

Country music and pumpkins.
Why are fall colors so comforting? Because they're warm. And good country music, too. It's got the warmth of the color, but the sting of the cold, if you know what I mean. Depth. I'm talking about the good 'ol stuff: Johnny Cash, early Garth Brooks, mmhm, Zac Brown Band. The good stuff I can listen to with my brothers.

Friendship is heavy. a really good way, because you volunteer to help carry someone else's burden. Taking three hours of precious sleep time to listen to a friends expression and/or woe - and you meet on the same road, find the right exit together, make it home.

Actors and dogs.
Have you ever thought about how acting in a movie or play with a dog is even more revealing of the actor - the person - than the character? Also, has anyone else noticed that Joseph Gordon Levitt has done a number of movies with numbers in them: 10 Things I Hate About You, (500) Days of Summer, 50/50. Interesting.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks (sorry, I know you're probably getting sick of the updates if you don't know and love them as much as I do) lost tonight. But, that doesn't stop their big hearts. I like growing up with them right now. Check it!

And...Coldplay's new album comes out in less than 24 hours.

For greater things have yet to come
and greater things are still to be done in this city.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A little enthusiasm.

While the autumn air is starting to sweep through Chicago and the smell of cold fills my nose and open pockets of my early fall jacket, I'm beginning to warm up to the details of the city. The train stop is dirty but so familiar and endearing now. The construction down the road makes me curse every early morning it jolts me awake (I am not a morning person), but I've been here long enough to see new things take shape, new ads traipse downtown, new venues open up, new exhibitions and events happen. You don't get that stuff when you're a tourist (don't get me started with them), but when you're an amateur Chicagoan, oh, the possibilities! Even the bustling downtown is invigorating and energetic. Walking on Michigan Avenue at 4 p.m. is the best and worst thing at the same time. The anonymity is comforting most days. New friends are even more comforting.

I've come to enjoy the echo of Pink Floyd and (pre-Battle Studies) John Mayer in our shoebox apartment. The hall light on the third floor is out, but there is a skylight. Even if I can't ever find the right key after dark, I like that the coral-colored street lights get to peek through.

Show me a picture of every red line El train stop from here to downtown, and I can tell you exactly which one it is. I guess that doesn't sound so neat, but I like to think outside the box of monotony. The 30-minute ride to school every day has the potential to make me a grump because of its claustrophobia, loud and obnoxious teenagers on their cell phones, and consistently funky smells.

I still miss wide open space, harvest time in Nebraska, taking meals to the fields, Blue Hill high school football games, joking with my grandparents over a steak dinner, beating up on my little brother (who am I kidding? He'll never be little anymore)...singing everyday, getting drunk with good friends, and Pabst Blue Ribbon not being such a hipster beer. I don't think I'll ever stop missing these things.

Nonetheless, I knew that comfort would come and that my young and naive (with some additional urban maturity and navigation skills) country girl spirit of awe and wonder would come back to me, a better outlook on the challenges of the future.

The Blackhawks have been winning, and now, out of decency and respect for the sport, I know what I'm talking about when it comes to hockey. Yes, I did some research instead of doing homework. Sue me for being a Blackhawks fan and posting related videos more often than probably need be. Come on, it's hockey season!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

And then we're gonna go go go go go go.

Thank God for athletics, for the gifts of men and women from Him, the power to bring people together for a passionate gratefulness of these things we call sports. I've sometimes doubted the hearts of athletes and the compassion of "fans." But, today, being one of them, and knowing that I'm watching fellow people do what they love, what they're bodies and minds are built and skilled to do, I won't doubt the nature of these wonders: football and hockey, among others. And, no, I haven't only thought this after big wins...losses, too. How can we not be grateful for the ability to motivate and compete? It's never perfect, but surely a better way to spend our time together.

I will forever bleed Husker red. I was born here. You know what they say, right? You can take the girl out of Nebraska, but you can't take Nebraska out of the girl.

ONE GOAL. Okay, they may look like celebrities, but more than being faces of the NHL (and so incredibly good-looking in both suits and hockey gear), the Blackhawks are known for relationship: a fan/player support system. It often brings a city together. I've seen it. You can tell me I'm being dreamy again. I'm okay with that.


Let us also take a moment to be thankful for one of the greatest movies of all time.
"We're gonna go inside, we're gonna go outside, inside and outside. We're gonna get 'em on the run boys and once we get 'em on the run we're gonna keep 'em on the run. And then we're gonna go go go go go go and we're not gonna stop til we get across that goalline. This is a team they say is... is good, well I think we're better than them. They can't lick us, so what do you say men?"

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

so. much. gray. area

You shouldn't have to feel bad about being wishy-washy or indecisive about life. American culture may teach us to decide between black and white types of ideas, which is okay to present to young minds - but don't tell an adolescent there isn't any gray area in their lives.

And I'm not just saying this because I've come across more artists channeling creativity from an astounding amount of gray area.

Though simplicity is nice to look at, it's not a realistic idea, since so many things make up the complexity of simplicity.

And I think decision-making and conviction is entirely relevant and important to growth. Of course. But, someone can't just jump to convicting someone for their views or inability to make a snap-3-second-decision. That can be a gift. So can perspective. So can empathy.

If you're not with me, I won't jump to assuming you're against me. There's much more to it than that...acknowledging the complex humanity of the enemy. And of the sinner.

Faith is complex. We'll never understand the immensity of God's love.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky about or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
-Romans 8:38-39

Friday, September 30, 2011

I don't hate you, milieu.

A few words have been popping up everywhere around me: in papers, on signs, in my head, spoken by people around me. Strange, really, when just miniscule parts of English vocabulary (miniscule, not meaningless, because the English language is so HUGE) are heard or read so often in just a few days. This got me to thinking about the definition of these words as they relate to the things around me. It's never bad to think. At a play I saw earlier this evening, called Red, about the life and work of well-known painter Mark Rothko, the actor playing the artist said:

"Stop being so pedestrian. Think more."
So, I thought about it.

milieu: surroundings, especially of a social or cultural nature.
My professor used this word in a comment on one of my papers. Right before he suggested I become an urban warrior, he told me "by the way, you've done a great job masking your insecurities, every time I see you, you look like you're in complete command of your milieu." Whether or not this is true, I'm not sure. Maybe he's just being optimistic. It is nice to know I have the ability of covering up my mess of emotions and insecurities in public. At least I have that going for me. And, whether or not I do have complete control of my surroundings, ha, I don't think I really want that kind of responsibility. But, I don't think that's what he meant. I heard the word again at the play and once more from someone I don't know. My milieu is so interesting.

discernment: perspicacity, insight
Whoa. Don't ask me what perspicacity means (well, it probably means discernment). This word came to me by letter, from a friend. A blessed letter, and impressively timely (I think I just lost command of my milieu by using two adverbs). Discernment involves a lot of perspective and reflection about future opportunities and decisions. Most days, we face it involuntarily, but sometimes the concept gets heavier when we start facing change and uncertainty. With the changes (and natural human stress) of God's mysterious (but exciting, right?) plan for each of our lives, we might lose a little gusto and begin to doubt. I am confident the plan will be challenging, enlightening, and worthwhile. I'm praying for you, friend. You know who you are.

romance: sentiment, emotion, or desire
You didn't really think I was going to talk about dating and marriage, did you? Gross. Romance isn't red roses, candles, kisses, passionate desire for the opposite sex...I bet you thought I was going to say something else. No, I'm talking about the real thing. The desire for beauty in life. The stuff that moves the very heart of soul of who you are! I think God's creation is romantic: planting, growing, living. One of the most romantic moments of my life was when I was young and standing in the middle of a wheat field, bright blue above me, a God-made golden blessing beneath me. Alone. I was standing there alone. I didn't need my 4th grade "boyfriend" standing next to me to make it romantic. However, I do wish my fourth grade "boyfriend" the best in life.

futility: lack of effectiveness, success, purpose, meaning
This one's interesting. This week, I wrote a news story about art collaboration. One of the collaborative practicing group of artists was called (f)utility. Ah, the juxtaposition - one of the most profound, meaningful art terms spoken by man. No. But, the word got me thinking about how much we feel futile as human beings. It's not just artists that don't get their art sold, not just writers that never get their work published. The judge within the self. At the end of the day, it's mostly me bringing myself down about all the mistakes I made, stupid things I said, or all of the sidewalk cracks I tripped over (which happens often). But, here's the romantic part...despite the ability to command surroundings or define interesting words in the English language, God loves us, everyone. Tiny Tim was right (well, if he would have said "loves" instead of bless). The same thing, really.


In other news (forgive me), the Blackhawks' Patrick Kane is joining Twitter. This probably has no significance to most of you reading this, but I think it's hilarious. I couldn't stop laughing, and I couldn't tell you why. Maybe it's because I think Twitter is ridiculous, no offense to those of you who have it. It's just another way to write sentiment without having to show it at all...anytime you want, for free. The fact that Kaner is being interviewed about the phenomenon of him being able to share with fans the going-ons of his just made me laugh. Why isn't it news that we're slowly losing touch of each others' voices and interpersonal relations?

But, actually, I'm not going to lose my love or communication with friends because it's news that Patrick Kane has Twitter (did I mention his followers grew from 4,000 to 20,000 in one night?). Truth is, the keyboard is the only place I feel comfortable sharing collective sentimental thoughts. It's ironic that I would have trouble communicating these things interpersonally, in person, whether or not I had a Twitter. Or a blog.


In all things, cheers! Here's to words and the Chicago Blackhawks (season opens next weekend!) and "tweets" and finding the things or milieu that make your heart and soul beam from ear to ear.
Here, here!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The heart does, actually, ache

I miss painting. I miss working with my hands. I miss a lot of things that were in my life everyday a few months ago. And all of the details, the coincidences, the music I see and hear in another person, the awe and wonder I find in their heart...the coincidental photos and big smiles, the friendly banter. Sometimes, it doesn't matter, because they don't see me seeing it or they don't see how much it matters that I see it...the compatibility of two souls, hoping for it, longing and pining for it while the other person is getting on with their life, maybe doing the same, but for someone else.

 I think one reason why I'm at such a wall, is because I don't have the time to mold, scratch, smooth, lift, sculpt, and sketch these reasons, people, feelings, and memories.

...the heart does, actually, ache
from trying to push beyond
itself, this room, the world,
all that can be imagined;
space is not enough space
for its sudden immensity...
- January Afternoon, with Billie Holiday by Lisel Mueller

Sunday, September 25, 2011

God is good.

view my portfolio:

I have a portfolio now. I'm growing up. That's cool.
Inspiration to write about anything in length is lacking today.
But I got to spend a day with two of my best friends.

And I ate some pasta.


Monday, September 19, 2011


Right now, my father is riding in a plane, counting down the seconds until he jumps out of it, and dives into the sky. All I can think is, "I want to be jumping with him."

My Dad is an adventurous man, though he's never been out of the country or seen the Mona Lisa in person. That wouldn't matter to him, because those aren't things that deserve mention. They're tourism and material things. It's the present action of life that gets the credit. He's the man with the tanned leather hands - that have worked the soil and plow since the age of twelve. I think that's where I get my desire to work with my actively living out what it is I want to do in life.

"Be present where you are," is what my old camp friend, Andrew, would say when we talked about dwelling on a bad decision or worrying about the future decisions we'd also have to make. In many ways, the two men are similar, but my Dad doesn't say phrases like that aloud because they are a little deeper than he'd like to go or are more cliche than he'd like to sound.

What he doesn't know is that he says the same thing with the way he and my mom raised his daughter and his two sons: how he taught us to work our asses off in whatever we do, wherever we are..and also, to just go for it. Just jump! Before I left for Chicago, I had a dramatic breakdown that almost led me to flip off the city all together and stay in the comfortable dwell of Nebraska. You know what he said to me? First he told me to stop freaking out - like the Auten women in our family often do when they try something new or say goodbye for a while to something or someone they love. Then he told me, "I'm proud of you for being uncomfortable." I take it as, "I'm proud of you for taking the leap and starting to pay your own bills, even if the altitude or the whipping wind on the way to the ground is, at times, too much." Then he told me he was going skydiving in September.

If he can jump, I can jump.
We made it!
Na zdravi, Pops!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Here's the goal, folks

Yesterday, my day began at 5:30 a.m. By 7 a.m., I was standing outside of the United Center in Chicago about to enter the building which, at that moment, contained one of the best professional hockey teams in the NHL...the CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS. Thanks to my lovely friend Katy and her family, I was able to spend the morning and early afternoon watching the scrappy and awesome game of ... you guessed it: hockey. The huge, bright arena contained actual professional athletes I had only seen in photos, on the Internet, on Blackhawks TV (awesome, by the way). Later, I realized, I could feel the chill of the air under the ice, hear the skids of fresh blades on a chiseled surface, watch the zamboni brush the ice with a fresh coat of friction and water, watch the freeze resurface just to be carved again by sharp skates, feel the vibrations of the glass when a player got checked, stand up and join in the celebration that is the Blackhawks goal song. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever beheld. A slew of (beautiful) men playing the game they know best - a game they think about daily, and dream about often. It's their job. For some of them, it's apparent they still love the game as much as they did when they were caught with a big smile while playing or when they received their first pair of official hockey skates, all on precious home video.

A strange thing happens when I attend a concert or professional athletic event. I don't get out much, nor did I when I was younger. I love Nebraska all the time, but the closest mainstream popular entertainment is three hours away from my home. I digress. I've done my research on people of apparent celebrity status, though I hate the word celebrity. The awestruck to guilty to wishful phenomenon happened to me at my first (and probably only) Jason Mraz concert a few years ago. My first Garth Brooks concert when I was ten. And, yesterday, my first encounter with a professional hockey team. It's quite surreal at first. I'm initially and genuinely excited to be in the same place as this one person...or in Saturday's case, a few people (details soon) because they're so charismatic. They've achieved talents and awards I could only dream of obtaining. Why, yes, I'd love a Grammy or a Stanley Cup. I'm sure many people feel this same euphoria when they attend concerts and events with "famous" people.

About halfway into the event, after time has flown by because I'm so entertained and starry-eyed, I starting feeling intrusive. I've jumped on a bandwagon going 100 miles an hour. I can't jump off. I feel a little guilty for putting these men on this shiny pedestal. I feel bad that they have to accommodate their lives for so many people that don't even know them or all of their likes, their dislikes, their favorite food, what makes them truly happy, their quirks, their absolute favorite time of day. I suppose they chose to have their life checked by professional hockey.

I know I sound like a nice, down-home country girl - naive, maybe. Like I said, I didn't get out much. But, I'm not stupid and I'm fairly smart, and, when you think about it, celebrity has it's own effed up way of effing up the world. I feel effed up for idealizing people like Jonathan Toews (the captain, the face of the Blackhawks) and Patrick Kane (another face of the team). They have incredibly good looks, and they've obtained a large amount of charisma just for being who they are. (I guess their win for the 2010 Stanley Cup didn't hurt either.) Anyone can see that. It's also hard to look away from the surface charm of someone you want the pleasure of knowing. Everyone did in that arena. Everyone wanted to shake Toews' hand, get his autograph on their jersey or program. What does that even mean? I don't want that surface with anyone. I don't want their autograph. I want the real person. I want to know why they love the game so much. I want to know why Jason Mraz writes the music he does...where does that poetry come from? What does Toews feel like after a game? What is most important to him in life? Note: I don't want to marry the guy. Though, I admittedly wouldn't jump to saying no if I was asked. I'm only a human woman, and the guy is obviously wholesome and athletic. What's not to like on the surface level? But I don't know him, nor will I anytime soon...unless, by chance we meet on a romantic Chicago street under the bright lights and towering, beautiful architecture. (The city does something for my hopeless romanticism and for my newfound love for the game of hockey.) I did leave feeling entertained. Of course. The third step of my strange star-struck state of mind is longing. I find myself wishing to behold them even more, wanting to watch just one more shootout, just one more practice, one more Jonathan Toews smile in my direction.

That's entertainment. On a stage. In an arena. But people are more important than entertainment. The game, the players...the person is more important to me than how enticingly handsome and in shape every hockey player really is in real life.

If there's anything I'm trying to get at with this long-winded blurb of writing (a little ambiguous and sporadic - sorry), it's that I don't want to lose a few things I had when I was growing up. A few of them being the awe-inspiring moment of any note sang by a talented musician or any impressive skill shown by an athlete after hard work. It's easy to fall into infatuation with Jonathan Toews when he's so focused on the game and it's the most attractive thing you've ever seen at a hockey rink. It's easy to love Jason Mraz, who can sing a B flat perfectly in tune and pic the guitar in such a way that makes you lose feeling in your knees during one of his earlier songs. I want to be there for the same reason they're there. To appreciate the sights and sounds of fresh skates on glossy ice, to appreciate the intricate patterns of the guitar and voice together. To find the mystery and excitement in hearing a song or watching the game of hockey. The love of great music. The love of the game. And appreciation and gratefulness for the ability to have skill and work hard. It seems like these things lose it when they're thrown onto popular radio or released onto the National Hockey League stage. They're subject to personal destruction. It's as easy as finding a Starbucks in downtown Chicago. Also, as one of my professors stated in class: there is no corner of this planet that we don't already have an idea about from media. We think we know. But it's about the excitement of mystery and what makes music and hockey what it was made to be. The awesome appreciation of a child who wants to work hard and play hockey like Toews. That should be the real goal. Ha.

I'm awefully glad I had to get up at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning to discover a few things about growing up in a world of the titled elite and the not-elite. We're all the same, folks. But we're all special, too. Just as the Blackhawks are special to me, so are you. I want to know your absolute favorite time of day or something else you would ever want to tell me...but also come to realize the mystery and excitement that makes you, well, you. That makes Toews, well the Toews I probably won't have the pleasure of running into on a nice little stroll downtown anytime soon. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Oreooooooh, you just got slam dunked!

The best way to eat an Oreo cookie is to DUNK it. I've always wished I could do a slam dunk. Now I can! Oreo style..which is the best way. It makes my apartment more fun, pretending to be a professional Oreo basketball player. I'd recommend it. Plus, the wood floors make the place feel just like a mini Oreo-basketball court. That's cool.

A few words of advice, though, from an experienced coach. Just close the sticky-sealed bag after you've eaten a whole row. It's probably best not to pretend like the whole row is doing a wave at your basketball game before you eat them all and move on to the next row. And, don't submerge your best team player of an Oreo too long, or you'll have to give it Oreo CPR and carry it out on a paper towel stretcher. It loses a lot of precious crumbs, and when that happens, it's dunking life is not so awesome. Finally, find someone to share an Oreo with. Being a team player is always good.


"I believed in myself. I never imagined myself as just an ordinary player."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Animalistic revenge personified

When writing to inform, one must convey a clear idea. Otherwise, the audience sometimes feels separated and sifted into different levels of intelligence and worth, don't you think? In the life of a writer the difference between saying, "the person acted like an animal seeking revenge" and "animalistic revenge personified" is so crucial. So significant to the entire tone of a paragraph, of a page, of an entire piece of writing. I used to choose the latter. I'm a naturally deep writer. The words have their own personalities and they all work together to create (in the words of Lisa Smith one day: a giant monster baby of a poem.) I'm poetic. But, with my recent journalistic writing background in my undergraduate days, I've learned to be terse. And now, I'm afraid I'm just...boring. I've become a journalist! Oh, woe. I don't even write poetry anymore.

Being flowery and poetic all the time can get, well, how do I say, a little introverted and lonely. Hard to understand. If I told you some of these random poetic thoughts, you'd probably run the other way or stare at me blankly for about ten minutes. Or, you might know exactly what I'm saying, which is freaky because then I'd think of you as my soul mate, and that's just creepy. I've learned to sift my words into journalistic writing. Let me tell you why this is sad: the writer (not the poet) I've become.

Of course, as you well know, I'm being a little too critical of my own work. I'm ironically writing about it. It's how I function to compartmentalize my life, make it a little simpler. And, isn't it ironic that journalism is so incredibly complex and complicated when it shouldn't be? Same with my life. Stay with me if you want. Otherwise, go drink a Mountain Dew, make some baked goods, and watch some How I Met Your that order.

I am continuously and painstakingly scrutinizing every word I think of, spoken or written. This leaks into other parts of my life, but we won't talk about some of my OCD tendencies. Even though words on a page finally become so clear to me, the rest of the world around me crumbles in a pile of journalistic and poetic cow dung. It's because I've lost a hold of that line between the two. I don't think I'm the only one. Did you know that blogging is a form of journalism now? What? And, of course, there's the *gasp* review. This isn't journalism. This is critical writing and journal entries. I can't believe my thoughts are in such dissaray over the fading definitions of two different types of writing. Seems trivial. But, technology and (ehem) the prestigious art world is putting terms together like blog journalism and new arts journalism (that's the graduate degree I'm working toward, by the way), and I can't help but speak out.

I'm confused all the time...but, continuously challenged. That's what education is supposed to do. And, at this age, that's what I'm supposed to be doing: learning, scrutinizing, discovering, and being a general mess. I'm writing all this down because it helps me with each of these things. Plus, I feel as though writing a blog lets me throw out my thoughts to those who will listen...or read. So, if you're out there, thanks for it.

But, know this: my blog is not a form of journalism, and I am not trying to be a journalist right now. It's a medium for finding the balance in me between critic and my 5-year-old curious self. I seem to have lost that childlike wonder most days, especially when I'm bombarded with assigned critical thinking about critically thinking about art and writing.

In order to keep you coming back (not that you have to - I just like you), I want to share with you a story I found earlier today. It sums up my life...if I were a sock, I think. And, as for making a pair of socks...if you're out there, soul mate who can understand my poetry, this one's for you. Cheers!

From Lost: A sock speaks out:

"Let me begin by sharing what I am not. I'm not a fancy argyle. Nope. That is SO not me, people!

And I certainly don't pretent to have cashmere tastes. One-hundred percent cotton--that's me, from a long, proud family of sports socks in the midwest. My geneology is nothing remarkable, but I want you to know, I've warmed many a foot in my time.

Life has never been the same since that agitating day when Man stepped up to the washer and began his dirty deed. (He should have known to separate colors from whites...but Woman was away for the day and...oh, it's almost too painful to describe what I went through.)"

The man = New Arts Journalism.

As spoken by my father in reference to my life (thanks, Dad and Full Metal Jacket):
"In other words, it's a huge shit sandwich, and we're all gonna have to take a bite."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

One Week

It's been a week since I arrived in the city. It was lonely. Then it was exciting. Then it was lonely again. Then Stephanie arrived. I started laughing again, with someone to laugh with. Then I was overwhelmed by classes. Reading about art, viewing art, thinking about art, talking about art, dissecting ideas about art, writing about art, and dreaming For a girl from the simple life (in no reference to Paris Hilton's horrific television ambitions), the density and mystery of the city is scary. Not scary because it's big. I've been able to find my way to the L quite a few times after a maze of people, buildings and 7-11s downtown. (There's probably about eleven 7-11s in the loop, and on my first day of school, I got off the train and made my bearings from one such 7-11 on the corner a few blocks from the Art Institute. Then there was another on the corner just a few blocks away.) It's scary because no one knows me, and I can be whoever I want to be. I could disappear into the alleyway, and no one would even notice I was gone.  I drive myself crazy thinking about how little I matter to the city of Chicago. I'm a little girl again in Kindergarten, on the playground with no one to play with. Don't worry. My nature of worrying and beating myself into the ground, or rather, the wide cement on Michigan Avenue, has been realized. God knows it, too. He's knows that I was homesick for Nebraska yesterday. That I don't make a very great city girl. That I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss camp. I miss the stars. That I get claustrophobic around so many people and buildings. That all I've dreamed about every night this week is my friends and family, and when I wake up, all I want to do is hop on a plane, move back to Nebraska, and get a job in the Cornhusker state.

The School of the Art Institute couldn't be more different from Concordia University. Every program is disjointed. I don't even know when I'll ever see the sculptors I met last week for some cocktails and chili fries. The material resources for success are overwhelming. The competition is intimidating. People are intensely driven, brilliant, and creative. Yet, here I am, the youngest entrant into my program and the least knowledgeable about the art world. I couldn't even name a living visual artist besides Thomas Kincaid. What the eff am I doing here?

But, there's got to be some kind of reason I'm now sitting here in my apartment, writing about all this in the big city. I just don't know it yet. And I probably won't know. That's how the early twenties of life go, right? Am I going to miss the unknown one day? The freedom and independence of young adulthood? The humongous opportunities of creativity before me? Probably. So, why not have a few beers and say CHEERS! to the hazy future, that might never be there again!

Plus, at the Art Institute, they say they plan on giving plenty of tools and materials to make a blank slate colorful. Here are a few things I've learned.

Let your brain boil.
Don't be afraid to think and to analyze what you take in with your senses. The human nervous system was made beautifully to help us become ourselves and develop our own thought. Also, pay attention to your body when you're looking at art, listening to music, or reading. It will tell you something about yourself.

Viewing the original Mona Lisa might be like watching sausage being made.
Media consumerism sucks, and some artists have become mere celebrities.

But don't be fake.

Avoid bullshit.
One of my professors was specifically referring to writing, but I think it applies to being yourself, too.

Did you know the rain is just as beautiful in Chicago as it is in Nebraska? It is. The lightning is bouncing off the rooftops right across from our top floor apartment. It's so loud. God's majesty is here, too! Sometimes, the floor shakes when the lightning strikes. I love rainy days. I like to eat a bowl of Cinnamon Life and look out the window. It's nice to know I can love rainy days in Chicago, too. And, I'll never stop loving Life! Ha. That was a good one, yeah?


Thursday, August 25, 2011

12:44 a.m. thinking of chocolate chip cookies

10:42 a.m.
Hit snooze four times, until approximately 11:00 a.m.

11:15 a.m.
Hit the shower, approximately 14 minutes long.

11:46 a.m.
Leave for lunch with Grandma...I have to meet her at noon, but it takes me 20 minutes to get there. Blast.

12:10 p.m.
Wait for the train just five minutes from the Bull's Eye Bar and Grill. Late.

...If only I would have hit snooze once, hit the shower at 11, left at 11:30, just missed the train at 11:57, and arrived for lunch on time, I would have had more time - to spend with Grandma - time not wasted on the grogginess of snoozing repeatedly, road rage, the stress of being late, unlocking the car door (still groggy), stepping up onto the curb, frantically opening the door, and apologizing for my tardiness.

If there is one thing I need to work on, it's time. But, that was way back when in the time of youth. You remember? When I had a two-hour detention for being tardy 3 days in a row. It's quickly becoming more like long ago. The days of apathy, reliance, codependence, procrastination, and youthful, wishful thinking are coming to a close. I can't really say what I want to be when I grow up, because I'm 23 years old. I'm growing up now! Of course it's not a terrible thing! It's a beautiful thing. But, did you know how much of a pain it is to start budgeting, call to set up cable, Internet, natural gas, and electricity in your apartment, while planning how you're going to pack a little beauty of a U-haul trailer with all of you sh**, which seems so giant and unnecessary all of a sudden? Growing pains, I guess.

Chi-town, here I come!
(Won't it be fun to see if I actually say the same in the morning.)

12:24 a.m.
Journal about days of goodbyes. But also I love you's, I'll see you soon's, and I'll miss you's. It's okay to miss the loves of your life and to be missed by them. That's a part of growing up, too.

12:49 a.m.
Thinking I'm clever, come up with a, uh, clever saying that describes this post. Yes!
That's the way the delicious chocolate chip cookie of youth crumbles.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lord, listen to your children praying.

NY Times Lens Blog: Where Children Sleep
by Kerri MacDonald

"As much as the project is about the quirkiness of childhood, it is, more strikingly, a commentary on class and on poverty. But the diversity also provides a sense of togetherness. Everybody sleeps. And eventually, everybody grows up."

Dancin' is best done with my Shaun Whites on.

Apparently, it's not very professional to walk into a job interview with a pair of grey and pink Converse Chuck poser shoes from Payless with bright blue shoelaces. But, this job interview, for a newspaper internship, was the first time I walked into a place to get a job, not knowing anything or anyone. No strings attached. No networking beforehand. I just walked in to see what kind of experience I could gain to sharpen my writing and photography skills. I had just finished my freshman year of college, and was looking to change my major to English or Journalism. Why not check out my local newspaper? I got the job, probably because they don't judge you by your sneakers. I do like small-town Nebraska. I wish I could say the same about other interviews. If I would walk into Teen Vogue with copycat ripoff shoes from Payless, it could be a different story. Duly noted.

At my newspaper job, one of my coworkers told me a story about a guy who inquired about a fashion writing job at a magazine. All he sent the editor was a Converse Chuck sneaker, with his resume inside. He got the job, too. Because he was so fashion forward. Mmhm. And because he consciously decided to be memorable with a shoe. At the time, Converse sneaks were HUGE. Wait, they're still huge, aren't they? And not just for hipsters. After my successful summer internship and after that story, I looked at (and wore) my grey and pink Chuck poser shoes differently. And I haven't been to Payless for sneakers since.

When I had to say goodbye to these sneaks, it was the first time I had trouble parting with a pair of shoes. I thought I might turn into a materialistic "sneaker-lover." I gasped one day and worried that I was going to end up having 40 pairs of sneakers in my closet and no more money from my internship paychecks because of my newly discovered passion for chunks of leather and rubber. That didn't happen. It was one pair at a time.

After I parted with my Payless sneakers, I decided I would get the real thing. I ordered online (my first time ordering online!) a similar grey pair of Chucks. I got some sweet magenta and grey argyle shoelaces from Hot Topic (we won't talk about my Hot Topic phase), and I was off! You know what? I had so many good times in those sneakers. I wore them almost everyday at school, because they had become molded to my feet. They were fashionable. Girls wore them. Guys wore them. I wore them. I even wrote a ridiculous romantic comedy of a story for Intermediate Writing class about a dreamy guy who wore classic black Chuck Taylor sneakers.

"Originally from Montana, Jack had a Midwestern charm about him that somehow complimented his eccentric outfits. He glided down the street in his faded black Converse sneakers, a vision in his snap-button flowered shirt and orangle tweed trousers. His dusty brown hair curled upon his brow and one kindly dimple framed his smile as he waved to the women sitting outside the hair salon."

Please never ask me to share the rest of the story. And, I don't really think gliding men, who might be my soul mate, actually exist, whether they wear Chucks or not. I've stopped writing romantic comedies.

My (real) pair of grey Chucks, I thought, would have gotten along swimmingly with fictional Jack and his sneaks. So, those shoes and I went through a lot of soul-searching during my college years, especially when it came to mysterious guys with similar taste in shoes. It was no surprise that parting with them..the shoes, silly! was difficult once again. I said goodbye to them in the year 2008, after I had worn them for a couple of years. Here I am in Frankenmuth, Michigan, mini-golfing at a hotel on choir tour with my best buds Katie and Jenna. I never left school to go on tour without packing my favorite, and only, pair of sneakers. Oh, and this was also around the time I started wearing these fellas with corderoy pencil skirts. Ouch. You can never go wrong with your favorite pair of jeans and your favorite pair of sneaks.

Following my sophomore year adventures, I had a short-lived fling with some classic black ones with different colored shoelaces before I decided to try something different. I was inspired by my friend Johanna to try all-black cordoroy shoes. (I really like corduroy.) This began my rebellious phase of fashion experimentation, wearing all-black shoes with formal wear. "Dressing down," skirts and dresses. I've always been more of a casual kind of girl, and it's amazing how a pair of sneakers and a nice dress can make one a delusional combo of hip, rebellious, and edgy. Too bad I don't have a good photo of that time in my life. Probably for the best. Our time together, these all-black, corduroy Chucks and I is still a "to be continued" love/hate relationship. Because around the same time I was giving them a whirl, I discovered a different kind of shoe.

Boys' Skater shoes. And what better skater shoes than those from a skater? Target's new line of Shaun White Shoes. I was browsing the shoe section at Target when I spotted a rack of skater shoes with a big W on the top of the tongue. They. Were. So. Cool. But I walked right past them. A lady was nearby browsing the women's section, which was right next to the shiny Shaun Whites. If I picked up those sneakers, she may have given me the you're-too-young-to-have-a-son-to-buy-those-for-but-you're-too-old-to-wear-them stink eye. She probably wouldn't have done that, because I'm sure she was a nice lady. She picked out some really nice professional heels...what I should have been thinking about. I pretended to try on more mature women's shoes, like a pair of black heels and a cute pair of ballet flats. She finally left the aisle, and I bolted toward the grey, size five boys' Shaun Whites. I tried them on, keeping an eye out for onlookers, or people that stink with their eyes. They fit perfectly. And they were so roomy. Like they were made for me. I put them back, though, and told myself to head back to the black heels.

But, no! I couldn't. I racewalked back to them and snatched 'em up, hiding them under my new Target blouse. I couldn't hide them for long because I had to check out soon. I started making up a story of how I was going to give them to my hypothetical nephew for his case the cashier asked. She didn't. And even if she did, I'm really terrible at lying about shoes.

From then on, it was me and my Shaun Whites. I wore them to painting class, where I got a dab of yellow acrylic paint on them. You can still see it. I wore them almost everyday at school. Did I mention how comfy they were? I've also dreamt of pulling a full-size skateboard out of my magical pocket and skating off with it. I couldn't do that (or have that fantasy) without my Shaun Whites on. One of the most memorable times together was...a Swagger Party. With my best friends. In the blacklit basement of my guy friends sort of off-campus house. What we call "the blue house." I participated in a swag contest with my Shaun Whites. We won. We swagged to "Chain Hang Low" by Jibbs. The best (and only) Swag Party I've been to in my life. We danced the night away. My friend Steph and I have this thing we say sometimes:

"Dancin' is best done with my Shaun Whites on." It's true.

After a tiny hole started forming on the inside of the left shoe, I decided I would wear them at camp. Again, I wore them everyday. We spent the whole summer together, my Shaun Whites and I. I dripped tye dye on them the first week of camp and spilled spaghetti sauce on them almost every Sunday during kitchen parties at Springs. They got wet in the summer rain. They're surprisingly water resistant. Paint, dirt, food, children's spit, sno cone juice, adventure canoeing mud, grass stains, horse poop, and good times stuck to those shoes. I hugged people in them. I got to meet campers in them. I had to say goodbye to campers in them. I cried in them. I laughed A LOT in them. After sweat, probably blood - not mine, and tears, I now have to say goodbye. They're also pretty gross. They're no longer the shiny grey they were when I first laid eyes on them. But it's sometimes hard to find a pair of sneakers with such good character.

I'm getting a similar pair of Shaun Whites. Blue ones this time. We're moving to Chicago together. I know we'll have a great time. We all know I'm not really going to grow up and get those black heels. I think I'll always have the heart of a wannabe skater kid. Don't worry, though. I'm not going to wear them to my Rolling Stone or Skateboard Mag job interview. I might just wear my chucks with my new black skirt. Or maybe I'll just send them a shoe.