October 29, 2010

Inappropriate Hospital Behavior...

Oh dear.  I'm afraid I have definitely been inactive here.  I have an excuse, I promise-- but I'm not telling you what it is, sorry. :)

Last weekend, I spent much of my time in the hospital, not as a patient, but a visitor.  Bestie and Bestie Jr.'s mom had to spend several days in isolation due to low white blood cell count, so the three of us (and assorted husbands) kind of made a squatter camp in her room. 

I don't like hospitals, not because I have bad memories there, though one would think I should.  I don't like them because they are cold and sterile (I suppose they should be, but still...) and reek of urine and other bodily excretions.  Also they make my hands smell like medicine.

Despite this dislike, I found that the three of us had a very interesting, even unique attitude about our time at the hospital.  We didn't spend our time there speaking in hushed tones, gingerly making a little home out of the room and walking on eggshells.  We didn't wring our hands or pace about the floor.  No, we laughed and took pictures.  It wasn't until the second day of this that I realized perhaps our behavior was not normal hospital behavior.  When most people are visiting their loved one in isolation, they are struck with a bad case of the nerves and seem to be on the brink of tears.  Yet in spite of our concern and care, we were howling with laughter, making fun of each other, and enjoying thoroughly the fact that we all were required to wear surgical masks.

As I pondered this, I realized that this behavior must be directly linked to our childhoods.  Sadly, we both had parents who spent a large chunk of their lives in the hospital as we grew up.  We learned at an early age to go about normal life, only sometimes in a hospital instead of a house.  I still remember going to visit my dad one summer after he had been in the hospital for what might have been weeks.  We played in the waiting room as if nothing was wrong.

And then there was the birthday that was spent with Dad in the hospital.  Dad had given the nurse some money and she went out and bought me something "from Dad."  It was a necklace and bracelet set, made of little pastel- colored stars.  I loved it.  I opened all my gifts there, sitting on Dad's hospital bed.  The thought that something was wrong or weird never even entered my mind. 

The familiarity with hospitals had desensitized us to their sobriety.  So when we popped those surgical masks over our faces, our first instinct was not to tear up because of the circumstance, but rather to take pictures, lots of them.  And where some might speak in hushed tones around the bed, comforting the patient, we laughed about everything and probably made a few jokes at the patient's expense. 

Why do I write about this?  Really, I don't know, except to give you further evidence that my group of friends are not normal... but I love them. :)

Because that's what we do.

 PS: the black box is protecting "he-who-put-up-a-stink-about-being-on-a-blog."  LAME.

October 15, 2010

Ah, the Innocence of... a Twentysomething...

I took one of my classes outside today to enjoy the fantastic cool weather.  I started swinging.  Students started arguing about lip gloss.

"Miss Hardt, have you ever talked to your boyfriend about lipstick?"
"I've never had a boyfriend"
".....What?  Miss Hardt!  You've never had a boyfriend?"
"Nope.  But I don't mind."
She touched her finger to her lip.  "So you've never been kissed?"
I smiled.  "Nope.  But that's okay.  Someday I will"
She looked troubled and I felt I had to assure her that I was alright, and this was not a bad thing.  "Really, I'm just picky.  For me, the point of dating is to see if I would ever marry that person, so I don't go out with guys who wouldn't make the cut."
"But Miss Hardt!  Have you ever been asked out?!"
I kind of laughed.  "Yeah a couple times, but I said no.  Someday it will happen, it just hasn't yet.  I'm not worried.  Besides, the way I see it, once I get into a relationship I'll have a lot less emotional baggage to deal with.  I know it's unusual, but I think it's smart."
"Yeah, I can see your point... Miss Hardt, you remind me of a little girl."

I laughed inwardly and thought, good.  I'm glad I'm different from their worldly ideas of what a 26 year-old woman would be.  I'm glad I've surprised them.  I'm glad I gave them something to think about.  I'm glad they see me as one with childlike innocence.

It's a strange feeling, knowing that in many ways you're more innocent than your students who are nearly half your age.  Sure I've got years, experience, and wisdom on them, but in many ways they have worldly experience I haven't had.  And I'm not jealous of that.  I'll savor the fact that I'm not worldly, and thank God for the ways he's protected me.  This is not the first time I've been surprised by my students' worldliness this week.  Earlier there were girls in my classroom talking about a boy:

"I think he's a virgin!" One whispered, as if this were as surprising as saying, "I think he's an alien!"
I smiled from my seat at the computer and spoke without looking at them.  "You know, there's nothing wrong with that.  It's a good thing, you know?  Self control?"
They were a little quiet after that.

I know it's only God who has protected me from heartache and mistakes, both physical and emotional.  I'm sure if left on my own I would not be any different from my students.  I was encouraged this week that I apparently am different, because that's what I've always prayed for my life-- that God would help me to be holy so that others would see that and know the God I serve.  I hope my students see that I'm different and see the God I serve, not a prudish spinster. 

Being a teacher is the strangest, most challenging, most enlightening job ever.

October 12, 2010

It Means Everything...

I met with a friend and coworker for dinner at Panera today.  We discussed the book we're currently going through-- Humility by C.J. Mahaney.  It's a butt-kicker book, for sure, but we're used to that.  This particular chapter focused on Christ's atoning work on the cross.  It seems that lately, God has wanted me to focus on that.  It's easy to take it for granted when you grow up in the church.  So I've been thinking about it quite a bit, and what came to my mind today was this:

Picture Christ: the sinless Son of God who left the glory of heaven to live on earth and experience trials and temptations, hunger, thirst, and fatigue. He knows the end of the road leads to a torturous death and complete separation from the Father as he takes on the sins of mankind and experiences the wrath of God to become our righteousness so that we might have the opportunity to repent and believe and have a relationship with God. And yet he is willing to experience all of this to reconcile us, the sinful, the profane, to God. Then he will rise again to conquer death and return to the Father, victorious.

Now picture this man walking towards his death.  He carries the crossbeam on the back that has been ripped to shreds already by whips in the hands of sinners.  Silently he walks to the place where he will atone for the sins of the mankind.  People on the left and right spit on him, mock him, insult him.  People on the left and right for whom he was about to die.  People on the left and right that he created.  People on the left and right like you and me.  And then he was crucified.  He endured not only the physical agony of the cross but the far greater agony of separation from the Father when he carried my sins, your sins, our sins, and the Father forsake him.  With a victory cry he said, "It is finished," and gave up his spirit; the Lamb of God was slain.

And what I find so unbelievable, so insulting, and so sad, is that people have the audacity to look at that and say in effect, "That didn't happen, that isn't important, that means nothing."

It means everything.  It changed everything

And I just wanted to leave you with that thought tonight.

October 9, 2010

The Musings of Two Single Gals In Starbucks...

I've been off the singleness vein in my blogging for a while.  But today I'm back, as I usually get some good ideas when I talk to my single girlfriends. :)

Over caramel apple cider and a pumpkin scone, I met up with a friend and former colleague at Starbucks.  I hate coffee, by the way.  Random fact.  I love the smell, but the taste makes me shudder.  Just fyi.  But on to more important things...

We have had similar experiences, she and I.  We both moved from the North to the South for our teaching jobs.  We both have hearts pulling from two places.  We both have been single for a long time.  We talked about our jobs, our families, and the excitement of the unknown for our futures.  We talked about what it's like to have lots of married friends.

And then I told her something I've thought for years and never thought to blog about, until now.  Maybe some of you long-single ladies will understand what I mean.  And maybe some of you married ladies, too.

I realize I don't know what it's like to be married-- all the hard work, the fights, the struggles, the aggravations.  I also realize that these things are a normal part of marriage and a marriage probably isn't healthy if the husband and wife don't deal with issues and occasionally fight.

But.  I like to think that by the time I ever get married, I will have waited so long for this man that I won't be able to help looking at him every morning and thinking, I am so glad God brought you to me, and I'm so thankful to have you.  I think (or at least I hope) I will be less likely to take him for granted or become aggravated, and will be more likely to remember he is an answer to years of prayers.

So, just a thought.  Maybe it's just an idealistic thought like when I assumed that if I respected my students, they'd respect me... could be.  Regardless, I hope it's true.  Whomever he is and however long I have to wait to find out.

October 5, 2010

What Would You Do For a Burrito...?

I LOVE food.  I'm not one of those girls who is like, "Oh, I love food!" and then orders a salad.  I'm one of those girls who is like, "Oh, I love food!" and then eats half a pizza and an order of breadsticks all by herself, and will also probably have dessert.

It's this love of food that made me a perpetually chubby girl, and made my weight loss the most epic challenge of my life.  I remember when I started Weight Watchers almost two years and thirty pounds ago.  Every.  Single.  Food.  Commercial. elicited the "yummy sound," (not sure what that is?  Just hang around when I take the first bite of anything) and I literally dreamed of food.  Think I'm exaggerating?  Think again.  I LOVE food.

I love making it, I love thinking about it, I love planning it, I love looking at it, I love smelling it, and mostly I love eating it.  If I had the fastest metabolism in the universe, I would eat every hour-- not because I'd be hungry, but because I just love food.  And I'm not super-picky, either.  Sure I have a list of DON'T's (mayo, mustard, pickles, olives, horseradish, raw eggs and/or raw meat... ew.), but my list of DO's far exceeds that mini list.  Just add cheese, bread, or sugar, and I'm game.

With this admission comes another admission, decidedly more dastardly and dark... I have been known to wish I had a boyfriend simply because I wanted excuses to go out to eat (on his bill, too).  Yikes, I know.  I've never actually acted upon this-- you know, like wink at the guy in the car next to mine just for a quick trip to the Olive Garden-- and I wouldn't, of course... but that doesn't mean I haven't thought about it.

I'll be honest: when Bestie and her now-husband started dating, I didn't so much envy the fact that she was in a relationship... I envied the fact that she went to fine culinary establishments at least once a week... for free.  Well, maybe not for free... she did end up marrying him, so I guess for him it was an investment... 

Perhaps this indicates that I have a problem.  Or maybe it's just proof that I'm a healthy American girl with a robust appetite.  I'm not really sure, at this point.  I only know that I want Mexican food right now like I want world peace, and I'm thinking very seriously about winking on my way home...

.... just kidding.  But seriously.  I want a burrito.

October 3, 2010

My Perfect Life...

Sometimes, I read blogs.  Shocker, I know.  And sometimes, when I read blogs, I see the pretty pictures and I read the pretty words, and I somehow get this impression that the blogger's life is perfect.    This happened the other day.  I was reading a delightful blog, and this uninvited, bitter thought invaded my otherwise cheerful mind:

Their life is perfect.  They have everything they've ever wanted, they have someone to share their life with, and their dreams are coming true. 

And for a moment my lip curled in disgust.  Until just a moment later, when I felt extreme disgust at my own bitter thoughts.  After repenting, my very next thought was this:

Amanda, your life is perfect, not because you have everything you've ever wanted, someone to share your life with, or because your dreams are coming true, but because you are exactly where God wants you right now, doing exactly what he wants you to do.  And your life is exactly as it should be.

It was a comfort.  I mean, I know it's not perfect.  I sin (obviously, as illustrated above), and the people around me sin, which results in an imperfect life.  But God's plan and God's will is perfect, and because of that, my life is "perfect."

Besides... I know that behind the pretty pictures and the pretty words are other sinful people like me, who struggle through while finding some kind of solace in blogging, just like me.  And as believers, their lives are "perfect," just like mine.  Funny, I never thought I'd think that singleness, a challenging job, and daily hurdles would equal a perfect life... but it's amazing what perspective can accomplish. :)

October 1, 2010

How I Earned My Nerd Glasses...

I recently bought a pair of nerd glasses.  My high school students seem to be fans of them and sometimes refer to them as "Li'l Wayne glasses," much to my dismay.  I absolutely love them, even if they make my head hurt behind my ears like a cheap plastic headband; but some of my friends do not feel so friendly about my nerd glasses.  Because they are not prescription and were instead bought in an awkward transaction at Forever 21, some, I fear, think I may be a poser.  Lest you think there is no nerd behind said nerd glasses, I would like to proudly plead my case.  I once denied my nerd status; I now embrace it-- hey, it's who I am.  Love it or leave it, I always say.  Well, I've actually never said that, but maybe I've always wanted to.

Life, through nerd-colored glasses:
1.  Look at my bookshelf (just one of several).  I read and collect (nay, horde) books of many kinds.  And I have read most of these.  Also, I decorate with books.

2.  I don't collect baseball cards, classic cars, fine jewelry, or designer bags.  I collect unique editions of Alice in Wonderland.
3.  I couldn't shout the answer of who sang "Breakfast at Tiffany's," but I could shout answers like, "Bay of Pigs!!!" while hanging with the Crew at the Applebee's on trivia night.  That's right, I came pretty close to the correct answer too. 
4.  I not only teach literature and grammar; I make notes like these (and relish them):

5.  Bestie Jr. recently said, "Sometimes Amanda uses big words."  Not sometimes, Bestie Jr.: habitually.  In fact, it is a quotidian occurrence.
6.  Sometimes when I am listening to instrumental music (hint one), I have a strong urge to conduct with my hands (hint two).  And I usually do it, too.
7.  I would rather have an unlimited museum pass in Chicago than an unlimited theme park pass.
8.  The morning after my friends and I returned from an exhausting six-week backpacking trip in Europe, I got up early with a friend to see King Tut's tomb at the Field Museum in Chicago because it was the last day of the exhibition.
9.  I love "Chuck."  Enough said.
10.  I have an unintentional cornucopia of "Star Wars" trivia in my brain thanks to my brother.  But I have only myself to thank for the fact that one Halloween, I dressed up as Princess Leia (but not in the white dress with cinnamon-roll hair; in the pretty Cloud City outfit with braids).
12.  I have seen every single "Star Trek" movie that has been made, thanks to my mother.  But I have only myself to thank for the fact that I've started watching the original series, and like it.
13.  I knit.

14.  And I'll stop here, because fourteen is my favorite number (that's kind of nerdy too, isn't it... to have a favorite number?), but this is what I have on my "nightstand," the window ledge beside my bed.  Not my phone, not a magazine... but The Grapes of Wrath.