Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Grinches Who Stole Christmas

Dear Annie,

I remember several years ago walking on my parents' vacant lot where their custom home now rests. It took over four years to design and build this home... they angled it in such a way as to take full advantage of the view. Almost every room in the house faces towards the mountains, and all have massive windows. It was Christmas, two years ago, that they triumphantly finished construction and were ready to move in. I remember taking their Christmas card photo in the empty living room. My mother set up a small tree with decorations. They were so excited.

I recall standing in the backyard, overlooking the valley, and my mother bragging about how no one could ruin their view. Shortly after this, the neighbor's newly planted tree on the bank mysteriously came down with a fatal fungus, and when the neighbors on the other side moved away, someone had several trees on their bank yanked out in the dead of night. My mother just happened to overhear the new owners one day, while they were standing out on their deck, exclaim dumbfoundedly: "Why... they're all gone!" Two days later my beaming mother showed up on their doorstep, cake and cookies in hand, innocently welcoming them to the neighborhood.

Over the past few years more and more homes have started cropping up across the valley on the opposing hillside. I remember commenting to my mother a while back that she has no control over what is built there. She replied, "It's ok... at night it will be quaint to look out and see all the little glowing homes..."

Today, the largest house across the way is also at the highest elevation. It has a long, barren driveway that steeply winds up to its entrance, with a grand black metal gate at the bottom. The house itself, being a tract home, is rather conspicuous, bright and boxy. We became fascinated with this home, while relaxing on the porch during lazy summer afternoons. Because it sits on a hillside, the swimming pool is technically in what would normally be deemed the front yard. One day, while gazing upon this grand beauty, we noticed two tiny specks swimming in the pool. The couple had just moved in and must have been enjoying their fine purchase. Binoculars in hand, my ever so curious mother was determined to get a better look. She walked over to the edge of our property, and strained to see, hot pink mumu blowing in the wind. To her surprise the couple actually waved back. We laughed and waved, too.

Well, life goes on and we all but forgot about the boxy beauty across the way. Fourteen months ago, however, the aquaphiles decided they'd better decorate for the holidays. Seeing that their abode is so large, adorning the thing with Christmas lights would probably prove quite treacherous. Instead, they had a rather brilliant idea... "Why not turn our home into one big, bright, light?"

Three gigantic spotlights appeared in their front yard one morning, and, for the following week, their home glowed as bright and shining as perhaps the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem. If that image doesn't do it for you, think Gotham city... bat-signal. And then, just when we thought it could not possibly get worse, the couple put colored filters on the spotlights, making their monstrous abode glow neon green.

My parents were horrified.

I could, at this point, insert a picture of the green house for you to see. A photo would not, however, do the thing justice. Simply use your imagination, and then quadruple the magnitude of your wildest spectulations.

Christmas was at our house that year, but no one noticed my mother's Christmas village, or her beautiful lamps and grand kitchen. The green house stole the show, and I have not laughed that hard in a long time.

You have to understand, the windows in my parent's home are so grand that, when you pull up to the front in your car, you can look right through the front windows and see right out the back. Now, all that one notices is the green house leering at you through layers of construction. At night, if you tiptoe out to the kitchen for a midnight snack, the green house taunts you the whole way. It is hard to read a book... watch tv...

They took the spotlights down after the New Year, thankfully, but this Christmas they are back.

Tonight it is wet out and, the glowing behemoth reflects quite beautifully off the thick layer of fog. The windy road up to their entrance is glistening green.

There is no Christmas village this year in my mother's living room, and we had our party at my cousin's.

We've schemed up all sorts of ways to get revenge (which I'll keep to myself in case one of our plots comes to fruition). My mother wants to turn them into the authorities (who she imagines care about our plight). My father wants to leave them an anonymous note. Possibilities include:



I, personally, would prefer to gather the townsfolk and storm their foreboding gate with torches, pitchforks and wooden stakes.

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people. " ~ G.K. Chesterton

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 18, 2008


Dear Annie,

Have you ever noticed that in the absence of light, one’s surroundings become colorless? I'm viewing my black and white world right now through the dim glow of my computer monitor while I sit here typing in the wee hours of the morning. I'm wrapped in a blanket, as I just crawled out from under the covers of my bed. I sleep with the windows open, even in cold weather. Why? Because I'm stubborn.

My jaw hurts. I've been clenching it for the past couple hours while in deep thought. I feel awake. Alive. Passionate. I've been reading something theological, and cannot help but ponder the ramifications. Some people shy away from controversy or a good paradigm shift. I thrive on it. In the end, my faith is always strengthened, and I'm left in greater awe of God. I take delight in His mysterious ways.

Yes, that's right. Mysterious.

Most of the bible is rather matter of fact. It is so... forthright. God states His case simply and feels no need to qualify. Good examples might be: the story of creation, the flood, Jonah,

אהיה אשר אהיה


Thus we have reached the end of this late night voyage through the elusive musings of my mind.

Till next time,

Monday, December 15, 2008


Dear Annie,

Believe it or not, in college I had a pet rat. I don't know what I was thinking really. Perhaps I had read Flowers for Algernon one too many times. I remember driving down to Santa Rosa with a friend, walking into Petco and picking out the rat. The Petco employee informed me that my rat was a female. I named her Aphrodite.

Aphrodite was the cutest thing. So tiny. I could hold her in the palm of my hand. I used to sit in the lobby by the fireplace and study with Aphrodite exploring the sleeves of my sweater. We weren't allowed to have pets in the dorm, but I managed to hide her for awhile.

I must have had her a week or two when quite mysteriously, Aphrodite decided to grow testicles. I switched its name to Hermaphrodite just for fun.

Hermaphrodite often accompanied me about my day. I remember one time in an honors class it was my turn to recite a poem, and just before I began the first line, he took the opportunity to pee all over my leg. Everyone's eyes were on me. I was mortified. Nobody seemed to notice, but I barely made it through the poem! Toting around a pet rat... could there be a more ideal way of accessorizing my insanely short hair and baggy clothes? No wonder I didn't date much in college.

It wasn't long before Hermaphrodite started getting... bigger. I only had a small cage for him. He'd wallow around all day in, well, you know... and I soon became wary of holding him. I remember I'd bathe him in the sink, which he hated! I felt so bad about this.

I don't know if my roommate simply couldn’t take it anymore, or if the dean accidentally discovered him... either way, one day the hall monitor informed me that Hermaphrodite had to go. I didn’t know what to do with the little guy. I had no car to drive him anywhere safe (a rodent sanctuary perhaps?), nor did I know anyone who wanted a pet rat.

My dormitory was way up on the hill, nestled in the forest. I took Hermaphrodite in my arms and trudged out into the wilderness. I sat down in a field and released him into the great wide open. He sniffed the air, his little whiskers twitching. He took a step or two. I'd like to think there was a moment in which he turned around and gave me one last longing look. I waved goodbye and watched as he waddled away, across the dirt and under a nearby bush.

There were tears.

I'd like to say I cried because I was sad to say goodbye. In reality, the great amount of relief I felt at not carrying around such a burden anymore made me realize how pathetic I was. Here I had taken on the responsibility of a pet, and I had failed miserably.

Every so often I ponder the fate of poor Hermaphrodite. I remember going back the next day to look for him. He wasn't there. Did he starve to death or freeze in the cold? Was he snatched by a hawk? Snake food? Owl pellet? Perhaps he lived a long happy adventurous life in the woods, subsisting on wild berries and early morning dew.

Only God knows.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Dear Annie,

Starbucks, in an attempt to capture the holiday spirit, has introduced some new pastries. Everything from mint chocolate brownies to pumpkin scones...and their latest addition, gingerbread men. Today there was one lone gingerbread man left in the display box, and he was squished up alongside the edge of the tray with his head slightly bent, beginning to crack. I felt sorry for the little guy, and decided to rescue him. 

I watch as the Starbucks employee ever so daintily plucks him off the tray, yet still, by the time he slides Mr. Gingerbread Man into the bag, his head has fallen off completely. 

 Awwww. I receive no apologies. The Injustice!

I pick up the bag. It's a long solitary walk back to the office, and he keeps me company. 

"Be still, little one. I will put you out of your misery shortly..."


The little guy is surprisingly edible...

You have lovely pictures of your family posted, and all I have is a sad photo of my decapitated gingerbread man.

Ah yes, it has been one of those days...


Friday, November 21, 2008


Dear Annie,

So, yeah... I got home from work tonight and I hadn't the energy to get out of my car. I just sat there for ten minutes or so, thinking "finally... it's over! Time for vacation!"

I'm sitting in my parents' home right now. It is late and I should go to sleep soon. We are getting up early to leave for Death Valley.

TEN WHOLE DAYS away from everyone and everything... and hopefully out of cell phone range! Maybe I just won't take my phone with me!

I am not so sure why you dislike camping. Have you ever been? Some people like to rough it, but my family takes the motorhome. This way, you have the best of both worlds. Campfire, millions of stars, far from civilization, yet, running water and electricity!

Few things are so relaxing as sitting around a campfire and looking up at the stars. Campfires inspire good conversation. Maybe it is the dimly lit faces, familiar, yet somehow strange in the flickering light of the fire. Maybe it's the the warm glow or the marshmallows (I never cared for marshmallows...).

People keep asking me what's there to do in Death Valley? There are canyons, dirt roads, sand dunes, lava rocks, abandoned mine shafts... The best Gilbert Christmas card ever is a picture of Laurie and I standing in front of a mine shaft with flashlights. There is a big DANGER sign above the entrance. And yes, we really do go exploring in the mines.

The coolest phenomenon in Death Valley is called the racetrack. Here is a picture of it (as well as others of Death Valley).


Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Dear Annie,

It has been a while but I finally feel like blogging again...

Let's see... what am I thankful for. I'm thankful for variety.

A while back at a Foundation meeting (about a year ago), Kurt gave a sermon on consumerism in our modern day society. He gave, as an example, the fact that there were ~200 different varieties of breakfast cereal. How shameful of us humans!

I like that I have a choice between Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios... Personally, I like buying the plain ones and putting my own honey on them.

God is the ultimate creator of variety. Just think of all the different fruits there are! And look at all the animals. There are animals on this planet that you have never even heard of and never even could possibly dream exist. Here are a few of my favorites.

Highland Cow

Tibetan Fox


Boto (Amazon River Dolphin)

These are far from the strangest animals on our planet, but like I said, just a few of my favorites! I love the last part of Job where God addresses Job by referring to His creation and all the different animals in it. It is so beautiful.

I think God rejoices that we have invented so many different cereals. Of course we should not let our lives be governed by the latest trends and consumerism.

The real danger for us is not variety, but sameness. In a world of so much variety it is sad that we all try to be the same, if anything. What if there was only one type of cheese available? One type of cereal? I'm thankful to live in a society where we do have the choice to buy Goldfish or your children's favorite: Annie's Cheddar Bunnies.

*Crunch Crunch*

I love Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

It is this concept that allows for the ultimate variety: the true bond between brothers and sisters in Christ. I love that when I am out with a group of Foundry-ites, that almost everyone in the group is from a different nationality or culture. Strangers stare in awe, actually. It is great.

It is late and this is not the most formulated thought of mine at the moment, however, I'll type it anyway. This is another paradox of Christianity... the idea that, we are dead to this world and alive in Christ. It is only this separation from the world that allows us to turn right around and enjoy it for what it truly is. The awesome creation of our Lord. I can't stare at even a gum spot on the sidewalk without thinking of God, sin, and salvation. That being said, spending time out in pristine nature is overwhelming.

On another note, my parents bought a brand new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon today (they are gleefully whittling away at my would-be inheritance...). We are going to Death Valley for Thanksgiving and I can't wait! I wonder if my mother will at least let me drive it recklessly across the desert.


Heh. Heh.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Zen in the art of... Peanut Butter & Jelly

Dear Annie,

Recently I have had a craving for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I hated them growing up... you know... the soggy saran-wrapped lump of brownish goo you'd find in your lunch box as a kid...

There are a plethora of ways to destroy this simple dish:

~ Artisan bread (way too fancy)
~ Organic, natural nut butter (bleh)
~ And who ever decided you could package peanut butter and jelly in the same jar!?


It wasn't until I reached adulthood that I learned the art of creating a perfect PB&J sandwich:

~ Roman Meal 100% whole wheat bread (yes, the cheap, pre-sliced stuff)
~ Skippy Peanut Butter (creamy, not chunky)
~ Knott's Boysenberry Jam (refrigerated)

Put it all together and consume immediately! Ah the cool smooth taste of perfection...

You are probably gagging right now. Heh.

This blog is so pointless. I could cry right now.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

This should never be a blog.

A recent conversation with my friend Doug (from college). He lives in North Dakota. Oh man, I know I'm going to get in trouble for this one...

it is lisa




see i joined facebook

your little narcissistic club



you need a picture up of yourself


i have a webcam, but that is just for me to get on tv ;)


ha ha

i want to see a recent picture of you!


i need to find a kid, lots of former school peoples have pictures of their kids, from what i have seen

jason lives in ND now, he has a son and another one in the oven


i was just looking at some fellow classmates' pictures.

i'm so jealous

i want a family


i am almost 30, didn't i tell you i would marry you if i was still single at 30


i'm tempted

just mail me the ring

i like platinum.

but you have to show me your picture first



i am fat and all my hair fell out :)


oh that's okay. as long as you are stable, a christian, and have a real job. you brush your teeth, right?


i worship some guy named satan, my job is fake, and my legs are wobbly. i hire fish to clean my teeth. it seems practical


you must really not like me. wow.

i tried to snag Danai before his visa ran out...

he didn't bite either.

decided he'd rather be in THAILAND than married to me.


wow and i thought i was desperate


i think the line he told me was something like: "i have a lot of very close female friends who I have considered in that regard, and you are not one of them."


they are lots of russia girls like want to move in with me


is there such a thing as a mail order husband?


i bought a house

and i no longer live with my sister

see i am ready for marriage ;)

living with your sister, chases women away, just a bit


i'm sure it does.

so when can i move in?


it is about a 12 hour drive from wa, so i am guessing LA, 30 hour drive

if you leave now, tuesday you can move in


you have to propose first.

and mail that ring.

and flowers. i want flowers.




can we get a pet chicken? i always wanted a chicken... and a garden.

*still waiting for that picture*


Quiverfull... yeah right!

Dear Annie,

As for your last post, pardon me for arguing ad hominem here, but:

Number of children each of your quiverfull supporters sired:

Thomas Aquinas - 0
John Wesley - 0 (even though his own mother had 19 children!)
Martin Luther - 6 (go Martin!)
John Chrysostom - 0
John Calvin - 1 child (the child died three days after birth)

I rest my case. 

I really have nothing to blog about these days. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Dear Annie,

I just realized that I have not brushed my teeth all day today. I didn't brush them when I woke up, I didn't brush them after breakfast, nor after lunch.

I am usually an obsessive brusher. I can't go more than 30 minutes after a meal without feeling the need to clean my teeth. I don't know what has caused this sudden lapse in personal hygiene. Perhaps it is a tinge of rebellion... perhaps I feel that my breath could not possibly be bad.

I have my teeth cleaned at the dentist twice a year. That's right. I pay $100 to have a lady scrape at my teeth for fifteen minutes, rub that polish stuff all over them, make me rinse with mouth wash, and then tell me to keep up the good work. My hygienist told me I had the cleanest teeth ever.

There is really no point to this blog. I think I'll start another one.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Halloween - A True Story

Dear Annie,

Every year the house on the corner of the street by my workplace decorates for Halloween. They go all out. Ghosts, skeletons, demons, tombstones, cobwebs and witches. It is quite a spectacle. 

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. It is the first in a series of many, and hence, carries with it the most excitement. As a child I loved eating pie and drinking apple cider, carving pumpkins in the backyard and roasting pumpkin seeds. I loved dressing up, and most importantly...

I loved the CANDY!

What could be better than going door to door and forcing people to give you Tootsie Roll Pops and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?


I always dressed up as a princess on halloween. I don't quite recall if this was my choice, or if my mom simply bought a one size fits all halloween costume and stuffed me in it every year to save some money. Either way, I didn't mind. I liked being a princess. It meant I got to wear my mom’s makeup. (My mother has had the same Mary Kay make up for 23 years now.) She would always use her blush to make big pink circles on my cheeks. I felt so pretty.

Upon reaching adolescence, my friend Julie and I decided to trick or treat one last time. We were finally old enough to go alone, without the encumbrance of our crotchety old parents. You know what this means: MAXIMUM CANDY ACQUISITION.

I spent the week prior to the 31st riding my bike around the neighborhood, mapping out the homes. My goal was to create the most efficient trick or treating route: how to hit the largest number of homes in the least amount of time, with no back tracking. (I'm so not making this up.)

Bye bye princess outfit, this year I was a full fledged witch. I had the pointy hat, black cape, and my hair was already long, straight, and stringy.

Julie and I set out as early as possible, beginning our brisk walk through the neighborhood. The details of this enjoyable evening elude me now. I only recall reaching the last house, well after dark, the kind lady informing us that it was getting late and perhaps we should go home, then looking around to realize that we were the only two kids left out on the street.

Now, in today's society, this would not be a problem. We'd have simply pulled out a cell phone and called my dad to come pick us up. Not so back in 1993 (I didn't get my first cell phone until a decade later).

*switches to present tense for dramatic effect*

So we begin the one mile trek home, lugging our 20 pounds of candy with us... not a big deal on any other night of the year, but on Halloween? Who knows what creepy things lurk in these shadows? We round the first corner to see a white windowless van driving by. I’ve never felt so vulnerable. Perhaps we look too old, because, even though the driver slows down a bit, he doesn't stop. We pick up our pace a little.

Julie and I are so close to home when I suddenly hear a strange noise from behind... running water or a gust of wind, like something straight out of  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Keep in mind, before I continue, this story is not for the faint of heart!

We are sheltered under some large trees on the sidewalk. Instinctively, I feel the urge to leave this area. I grab Julie by the arm and we scurry out into the well lit street.


As we cross, I turn around to see a dark figure looming towards us at an unbelievable pace. It is a madman on roller blades, wearing a hockey mask. He is skating right at us. We start running.

I don't know if it is sheer luck or divine providence that he goes for Julie and not me, but, as he skates past, he grabs at her plastic bag of candy. The only problem? SHE DOESN'T LET GO!

The bag rips (I remember it as happening in slow motion). Candy flies everywhere. He falls. She falls. Julie’s candy scatters all over the street. He gets up and skates off. 

I don't remember how much of her candy we bothered to salvage. I think we  grabbed a handful or two and dashed home as fast as possible. I had to split mine with her. 

So much for a perfect night of trick or treating.      




Saturday, October 11, 2008


Dear Annie,

Every day for lunch I walk to Gelson’s. I go to straight the deli and order my favorite:

½ sandwich/wheat

lacey swiss cheese

+ 2 sides.

When you frequent a place so often, after a while you start to learn more about the employees. My favorite Gelson’s deli employee is Lance. He is young, average height, blonde hair, pretty green eyes, acne, and a tad bit chubby.

Lance is always friendly, outgoing, and polite. He jokes around with his co workers... seems like a smart enough guy. One day I asked him what his goals are. Turns out he really wants to go to Le Cordon Bleu and become a pastry chef.

“What are you doing here?” I tell him. “Life goes by really fast.”

“Oh I can't afford school right now. I have to pay my bills," he says.

“Can you take out a loan?”

“No. I looked into that. It wouldn't really work.”

Now you have to understand that I CARE about Lance. I WANT him to go back to school. As great of a sandwich maker as he is, I so want him to achieve his goals. I start racking my brain. What could I do to help? Maybe I should go down to the library and look for grants. Do I have any rich relatives? Can I start shoving money into a savings account?


One day I ended up behind Lance in the check out line. He was talking to the cashier about how he had won $10,000 in Vegas. I immediately piped up “You're putting that in savings for school, right?!”

“No,” he said. “I had to buy a new car and I borrowed money from my dad, so I have to use the $10,000 to pay him back.”

My heart sunk.

I'll admit Lance intrigues me. I used to wonder if he has a girlfriend. Not because I would have ever dated him myself... (he is only 21) but simply because I feel an affinity towards the guy. He seems so great. But you know, it is way too easy to build a false impression about someone based on such shallow interactions. I mean, I've seen this guy almost every day for four years. I'd sum him up as:

A bit sheltered, insecure, inexperienced... nice, funny, quirky...

I decided to myspace stalk him:

Forget quiet little innocent Lance. We're talking Japanese loving, techno listening, gambling, smoking, race car driving, gay atheist here.

Maybe I should invite him to church.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Dear Annie,

I have recently realized that the intricacies of life, the sinews of real human relationships are filled with far more drama and excitement than even the most preposterous of movie plots.

I enjoy watching life unfold... the subtleties of our every day interactions.

God is most certainly the ultimate storyteller.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Conspiracy Bug

Dear Annie,

This week my mom discovered a video on the Internet. It is one where a bunch of kids put their cell phones around corn kernels. Then, their phones ring all at once, and the kernels suddenly pop. Voila! Popcorn! 

After viewing this horrifying video, she sent me an email. Note the concerned red ink:

Hi Lisa,

Did you see this?   Maybe we should rethink carrying cell phones in our pocket!!  We want to be sure you aren't sterile . . . . . .

Could these waves, be dangerous??  Try this with all your friends phones.  See if it really works.


My response:

Um, those are obvious actors.  =)  Read following article.


OK, but you have a GROUP of friends, why don't you try it with them.  Just take some popcorn to your next meal out, or to church, and try it OK???

Might be fun.



WHY??? ha ha. it is a JOKE. it doesn't really work!  


MAYBE,   TRY IT!!!!!    Ha Ha

Yes, that's right. My mother really thinks that a cell phone could pop corn. Once you put an idea in her head, there is no undoing it! 



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Time Capsule

Dear Annie,

I was going to begin this blog with a poem I wrote at nineteen, but I thought better of it. In fact, thumbing through my poetry journal just now makes me blush, and the only thing keeping me from setting it aflame is the thought that I just recently replaced the battery in my smoke detector.

What was I doing at nineteen? Tell me, for crying out loud!

The year I graduated from high school, my senior class buried a time capsule over by the tennis courts. They plan to dig it up on our twentieth reunion. I remember that I wrote a note to myself, and also one to my high school sweetheart (who dumped me six months later for my roommate). My only regret now is that I am compelled to return on that fateful day to watch my class open the thing. Will I read those letters? Should I read them?

I would really like to know what advice my nineteen year old self has for me now. What would she tell me?

“You old prude,” she’d begin, “You grew up to become everything you loathed.”
“Yes I did,” I’d reply, “and my only regret is ever being you.”

If you could go back and relive your youth with the knowledge you have now, would you? I don't think I would. Even with all the mistakes I've made, I'd much rather not suffer through the misery of being a teenager again.

I had three best friends in boarding academy: Heather, Tiffany and Breanna. We would sit around and joke about who would get married first, and now I'm the only one still single. Two of them have kids, and the third is the one who married my high school sweetheart! I guess the joke's on me, huh?

I wonder what I'll be like ten years from now. Will I be married? Will I have children? And most importantly, will I be fat? I better not be. I'm going to write a letter to myself right now.

Dear Lisa,

It has been a long time since you were me. I wonder what you are up to. I hope you are married with children, and own your own island by now, like you planned. Have you ran for office yet? Perhaps you are a supermodel, a housewife and the president? And you better not have gained a pound!

Your younger, better looking self.


Friday, September 12, 2008


Dear Annie,

I’m sitting here listening to The Mission soundtrack on my iPod. It was written by Ennio Morricone, who is probably one of the most brilliant composers alive. On my way to Gelson’s for lunch today, I had it playing, and everything seemed to pass by in slow motion. Much like your Oblivion soundtrack does for you, when I’m listening to this music, the minutiae of life suddenly seem meaningful. Stop lights, passing cars, a dog peeing on a fire hydrant... 

My favorite song on the album is Gabriel’s Oboe.

I’d say that the oboe is, without a doubt, my favorite instrument. I did not discover this until about a year ago. And when I realized it, I looked online for oboe music, and found it surprisingly hard to come by.

The oboe is a rather unassuming instrument. If you saw one, you’d think it would make an ugly sound, and never guess it would cost you thousands of dollars. I wish I had one. I’d promise my firstborn to whatever devilish creature could conjure me up an oboe...

Few sounds can wrap themselves around my heart like its perfect timbre. It is melancholy, passionate, haunting, yet strangely hopeful. Subdued, yet violent. 

People always imagine angels as playing harps, I think of them as playing oboes.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Dear Annie,

Few things are more enjoyable to me than walking to the gas station on a late summer afternoon to buy a soda and a candy bar. 

There were no stores in my neighborhood growing up, not to mention, I had very little money. I remember one day, though, on which my sister, our friend Mandy and I made the three mile trek to the grocery store to buy some candy. I must have been about six, and I'm sure my parents would have died had they discovered.  But I remember how good it felt to choose something off the shelf... anything I wanted, and pay for it. 

That day comes to mind on the rare occasions I leave my office chair and head on over to the convenient store down the block. If I do go, it is usually in the warm glow of the late afternoon, there is a breeze and I hear the sound of the passing traffic. At these times, even the gum spots on the sidewalk seem to call my name...

I smile at the clerk as I make my entrance, and walk over to the soda section. I survey my options. 

Recently I discovered Dr. Pepper. I never drank it growing up (we were a Coke and Pepsi family, if anything). But then, on the Foundry retreat, I ordered a Coke at lunch and the waiter goofed. He brought me a Dr. Pepper. What a pleasant surprise it was!

So I grab a Dr. Pepper off the shelf, and head on over to the candy section. So many choices... so many candy bars I have yet to experience... I choose a classic: Reese’s Pieces, which  always remind me of the movie E.T., my first movie going experience.

Now I sit here crunching candy and slurping Dr. Pepper, and I lament that this blog must end, for it means that I shall have to continue editing. 



Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Dear Annie,

While on a walk early this morning, I heard a rustle, and when I turned to look, I discovered two squirrels in someone’s front yard. One was in a tree, and the other, in a trap on the ground. Both were upset, making frantic noises. The caged squirrel was tugging and pushing at the wire mesh surrounding him, and his friend was watching intensely from above, obviously pained. 

I know it is not always the best idea to anthropomorphize animals; however, it was rough seeing this squirrel struggle, and even more miserable watching the frantic concern of his little friend.

Several years ago my parents had a feral cat living in their back yard. They set a trap to catch it, and once captured, the thing hissed and yowled and hurled itself against the cage as if it were demon possessed. My parents were afraid to go near. Hearing the ruckus, our family cat, Macadoodle, decided to scope out the situation. As he approached, that wild beast transformed into a timid little kitten. His hissing now no more than meek mews. Just the presence of another cat, another creature who spoke his language, calmed him down.

I have always had trouble watching animals suffer, even pests. Most girls kill insects, I rescue them, even giant hairy six eyed spiders. So, you can imagine the horror I felt upon seeing this squirrel in a cage. My first instinct was to set it free. I took a step closer, analyzing the contraption. Could I open it? Was it safe? I glanced up to the house. Was someone home? Were they watching? I stepped back as a car passed, embarrassed. Then I turned away and walked up the street a ways. I stopped. It hurt. I wanted to go back. I could still hear their painful sounding squirrel chirps...

At this point, I began to rationalize. We live in a sinful world. Creatures suffer, they die. Besides, a squirrel is nothing more than a bushy tailed rodent. Think about it. What do these squirrels do to warrant a trap being set by their tree? Do they dig up Mrs. Smith’s prize petunias? Do they destroy the lawn in their attempts to hide nuts? Maybe they torture the two year old. Or perhaps they are rabid squirrels, in which case, just opening the cage would put me at risk!

I started to walk further away...

Then again, what if the homeowner is a maniacal sadistic man who loves to torture innocent creatures. Maybe he is a taxidermist and his living room is decorated with stuffed squirrels. Or perhaps he is a mad scientist with a squirrel research lab in his (non existent)  basement. I turned around, with the genuine intent of going back, but instead I hesitated. If, indeed, one of these above scenarios were true, what would the people living in that foreboding house do if they caught me in their front yard, liberating Mr. Squirrel? It was getting late (8am perhaps). Surely these people are awake. They will open that front door any second now to pick up the morning paper, and how embarrassing it would be, for them to discover me hunched over their trap, freeing this little pest.

Alas, I walked away. That’s right, Annie, I turned my back on the squirrels and continued on my way home, their memory growing fainter with each step.  

And thenthe watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Littlelessnothing!and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.
                   —excerpt from “Out, Out—” by Robert Frost


Friday, September 5, 2008

Picture Day

Dear Annie,

When my mother was pregnant, she told God, “If you send me boys, I’ll send them back.” And, I think, as some sort of divine punishment, He sent her my sister and me.

From day one, Laurie, especially, refused all things feminine. In fact she kicked so hard in the womb that my parents were sure a boy was on the way. I highly doubt that child would have accepted even so much as a pink pacifier.

Dirt, lumber, a hammer and nails... these were Laurie’s playthings. She did have one doll. It was a stick doll she had fashioned out of wood. The thing had no head, hands, or toes. I think she drilled a tiny hole at the top of the stick to represent a mouth. Her stick doll must have been about three feet tall, and she would dress him in her clothes.

Now, you may think that it is partially my mother’s fault that Laurie and I lacked all feminine qualities. It is true we spent lots of time out in the wild, camping and whatnot. We had short hair and wore overalls. And yes, my mother grew up without much feminine influence herself (my grandmother only let her bathe once a week). However, by the time my mom hit grad school she had transformed into a feminine beauty. She had long brown hair with perfect curls. She wore beautiful dresses, most of which she sewed herself, plus high heels and makeup. All that and she knew how to cook.

The truth is, my mother did try her best to feminize us. Oh how she tried. One year for picture day, she wanted Laurie to wear a pretty outfit, and Laurie of course, protested. It was quite the battle, but my mother finally got her way, and as her little girl trudged off to class in a dress, I'm sure my mother sat in her VW Rabbit, smiling.

Triumph! She had conquered!

Two weeks later, this photo arrived in the mail:


Thursday, September 4, 2008


Dear Annie,

I received a call the other day about designing a one-sheet for a composer who is somewhat well known in the music and film industries. He had seen my previous work and was really excited about my designs. All seemed well until I asked him how much he would pay. It turns out that the lady who put him in contact with me quoted him a price that was about half of what I normally would have charged. 

Because I am terrified of speaking my mind, and because he was such an impressive client, I was unable to inform him that I needed more money. Now I’m staring at a blank Illustrator document thinking over all the ramifications of what I’ve just agreed to. Will I be able to create something that pleases him? How long will it take? I’m panicking!

Impressive Client + Flat Rate Pay = an average of $2.00 an hour!

Ah. Such is the nature of freelance!


Pizza & Perfection

Dear Annie,

I know my last blog seemed like a joke, but the sad thing is, it was completely genuine. I had just finished typing “6PM” when my phone rang... half a pizza later and a completely wasted evening, I’m sitting here typing this to you. Instead of going on my five mile walk while listening to sermons on my iPod, I consumed inordinate amounts of cheese and white flour, and watched television. My apartment is a disaster (I threw everything on the floor after returning from retreat, and have yet to pick it up).

Normally I am clean and responsible, but when things get overwhelmingly out of control I don’t know where to begin anew.

Recently, in a conversation with a fellow Epochian, I exclaimed, “I have no will-power!” It turns out that this seems to be another “no no” phrase in Grace culture, because (I surmise) it implies I am trying to do things on my own without any help from God. The correct word is “discipline.” I have no discipline. This is due to my perfectionism. If I cannot get it right the first time, or perfect every time, I don't want to do it at all. If I am dieting and I slip just once, I give up entirely. If I make plans to read every night before I fall asleep, and skip just once, I will never pick up that book again. For crying out loud, if I resolve to do something as simple as take a vitamin pill, and miss just one day, chances are I never open that bottle again.

I can’t resolve to control just one aspect of my life at a time, either. It is an all or nothing endeavor. I must exercise two hours a day, eat perfectly, read a book of the bible every day, and teach myself a new language... all at once, or do none of it. Perhaps I am trying to rely too much on myself after all...


I suppose one might say this is way too personal for a public blog. I DON’T CARE! I need to put it down on virtual paper so I can suffer a little. I need a written record of my misery that I may look back to five years from now.

(At least the pizza was amazing... garlic and sun dried tomatoes... yum!)


Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Dear Annie,

Some people fast for religious or spiritual reasons, some people starve themselves for the sake of weight loss, and some people simply forget to eat. I on the other hand, am ashamed to say that I have never gone a day in my life without eating at least something. 

So today, for the first time, I am trying to go a full 24 hours without eating. So far, so good. I don't feel terribly hungry at the moment, and it is already 6PM. 

AAHHH! A friend just called... going for pizza!


Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Dear Annie,

Few things are more terrifying to a shy, quiet editor than an unruly producer. These creatures are known for their short tempers and ability to throw grande no-foam vanilla lattes long distances.

Overall, as an editor, I have been lucky in my career... most of the clients I’ve worked with have been ever so gracious, patient and jolly. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit that my present producer, Jason, is far more frightened of me than I am of him.

Either way, by now I’m quite confident I could handle any personality in the editing bay. Part of this confidence comes with the fact that I know I know what I’m doing, I know I’m a fast editor, and I’m not afraid to admit the things I do not know.

None of these skills are reassuring, however, when it comes to my most recent freelance client. He doesn’t throw things, he doesn’t yell, he simply claims to be a Christian... the type of Christian who God speaks directly and audibly to... the kind of Christian who is given special insight and commands. He believes he’s on a mission and nothing can stop him.

One of our last meetings went so terribly, I swore I’d never return. I questioned his motive on a Christian film project, accused him of misleading his crew and disobeying the rules of the festival. He responded by telling me that God had told him to make the film, that the script was from God (bad language, violence and all), and that he was sure the film would win an award at the Cannes film festival! He also informed me that he has been a Christian way longer than I have, and is far more spiritually mature than I (a line I’ve heard a painful number of times in the last several months as you know!).

When he calls now, I come up with any excuse that is even remotely plausible, and up until now this has worked beautifully. I know what you are thinking... why don’t I just tell him no? I suppose I'm afraid.

Last week he called me to work on an artistic piece for Lexus. I couldn’t come up with any good excuse to say no, so I tried telling him that Santa Monica was too far away to make the money worth it. He responded by doubling my pay! I finally acquiesced.

I woke up this morning and begrudgingly drove down there, repeating in my head “It’s only eight hours... it’s only eight hours!” I vowed to be as kind and helpful as possible, looking at this as a witnessing opportunity.

The day went well, and was filled with more humor than terror. He told me one of his next projects is a documentary about a group of “Christian” dream interpreters that go around and “save” people through these ‘miracles’... uh huh...

I tried informing him that this was entirely un-biblical. He wouldn't have it. “Daniel did it why can’t we?” He gave me this book entitled: Going Deeper, Experiencing New Depths in the Holy Spirit. I’m sure it is full of heresies but I’m too exhausted to thumb through it.

He told me that I’m a talented editor, and that God surely has great plans for me. Then he asked me what my goals were. I told him, “To get married and have lots of children.” He said he’d keep me in his prayers, and my first instinct was to tell him “NO PLEASE DON’T!!” Instead I just smiled.

This guy reminds me of one of my father’s favorite quotes, which is found in chapter three of Moby Dick:

“Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.”

Last time I went home, I sat there dumbfound as my father bickered with my mother about the Sabbath issue, saying all the things I had been telling him all along. I saw, for the first time in a long time, a glimmer of hope in his eyes... the tiniest smidgen of light that comes with the revelation of freeing truth! (And somehow I’ve managed to convert my mother to predestination... but that’s another story.) Of course my parents have a long way to go, but they are finally freed from their mental yokes of bondage to a false religion.

A couple weeks ago, while stuck in jury duty, the court gave me a free pass to the MOCA. I eagerly visited on my lunch break, sad I only had ten minutes to enjoy the art. I entered the gallery, only to discover the paintings of Marlene Dumas. Her exhibit was entitled “Measuring Your Own Grave.” The first room had water color paintings of a myriad of faces... men, women, children, different races... all they had in common was the look in their eyes. It was a startling look, a chilling look... a blank, lifeless look. I hastened out of there, hoping that the rest of the exhibit would prove more fruitful. Alas, I was bombarded by images of dead, naked, lifeless bodies... mummified bodies, rotting bodies, children peering at dead bodies, and more hopeless faces. It was truly unnerving. I started fast-walking, and by the end, I promise you (no joke), I was running frantically for the exit. There was a tear in my eye as I gave the desk lady my bag check number. I shuddered as she handed me my backpack, and I barely resisted exclaiming: “HOW DARE YOU!”

One of my text books in sixth grade had a painting of Paul (Saul) persecuting the Christians, and another of him as an older man with the kindest looking eyes, all defiance wiped away. I remember looking at the two pictures and finding Saul quite handsome and the transformed Paul rather boring and uninteresting. “Is this what Christianity is all about? Killing your spirit?” (And oh how opposite an impression I have of this painting today!)

Indeed I only recall this picture of Paul now because it came to mind when I witnessed my father talking about the Sabbath. His eyes looked just like the eyes in that picture, gazing up, not down, with a glimmer of hope and excitement, and most importantly, full of life! What a beautiful image that is.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Dear Annie,

A couple weekends ago I merged onto the 134 East only to find myself at a stand still. After twenty minutes of inching along, a kind lady in the car next to me rolled down her window to let me know they were closing down the whole freeway due to a four car pileup. It took me another half hour to squeeze my way over to the exit at Pacific. 

I've heard of freeways being stopped for over five hours due to toxic spills, etc. My only question is, what would you do in this situation if you really had to go to the bathroom? 

I have very few resources in my car in case of an emergency. My mother, however, if she were, say, stuck in the snow, could put on a heavy jacket, set up a tent, start a fire and cook dinner. She has her ham radio license, flashlights, flares, water... and is never caught without at least a half tank of gas. This is all quite amusing, especially since she was born and raised in Southern California!

I suppose if you were in the midwest, having flash cards for your children that read TRACTOR would make complete sense. Maybe the flash card creators wanted to throw a special card in there for the particularly bright child? Next time I come over, I expect the twins to know what a COMBINE HARVESTER is.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Dear Annie,

Ah cheat codes. I remember using my Game Genie to play Super Mario Bros. My sister and I would play it so much that at night, while trying to sleep, the theme music would echo in my head. It was so audible that I would get out of bed to see if Laurie was still playing the game in her room!

So apparently you and Hohn were horrified by my last blog. I almost regret writing it. Really the whole point of the blog was my observation of my grandmother... how naturally she could laugh at the thought of a crazed babysitter torturing her helpless four year old.  I wasn't trying to disgust you.

I suppose this is the consequence of growing up in a medical family. I have become immune to topics that repulse most people. Nothing is off limits around our dinner table. 


We are not crude people. There is no foul language or dirty jokes... just a candid exploration of what makes people tick (both physically and mentally). 

I’ll spare you from more tales... let’s just say I could never invite anyone from Grace over for Thanksgiving dinner. 

I’m so very tired right now. I have had trouble sleeping recently. A few nights ago I think I saw the glimmer of dawn before finally drifting off (yes I ended with a preposition). My leg is asleep!