Tuesday evenings are when the films are screened. Some people bring in snacks for the movie - or their dinner, as the screening time is from 5 to 7 - prime dinner eating time. The people seated behind me decided to bring in popcorn (original). A friend of theirs came in, who I guess brought popcorn last week, and exclaimed, "You guys brought popcorn?! I'm starting a fad!"
No. She did not just say that. Starting a fad? Of eating popcorn at the movies? Has she ever been to a movie theatre? I assume she wants to patent the idea of throwing popcorn during a movie too? Because that's what her and her friends thought would be a good idea yesterday. I didn't realize I was entering a time machine when I walked into the screening room, because clearly we're 12 again.
Piece 1: Jer and I headed out yesterday around 4 to venture downtown. After parking the car at the mall, we got on the RT. As I was talking with Jer, I noticed the lady sitting beside him, fully digging for gold. It was like she hadn't eaten for days. This woman was really hankerin' for some boogie.
Piece 2: While getting off the subway, two girls, who were utterly confused as to which direction they should be going in, kept walking onto the subway then back off. One girl got her foot stuck between the ramp and the subway. I laughed. She laughed. It was a nice moment.
Piece 3: Bex, Laura, Jer and I went to Salad King last night. It was the first time I tried thai food. Pineapple chicken is scrumptuous, by the way. Jeremy has some words of wisdom on the chillis: "5 chillis going in? 5 chillis going out." I stuck with mild. But I'm still paying for Jer's decision to have 5 chillis.
Piece 4: I had the priviledge of seeing Sloan in concert last night. Two words: crazy fans. Some old guy behind us thought he was the Sloan expert. And some 12 year olds thought it would be cool to start a mosh pit. They were the only ones that participated in that part of the Sloan festivities. They probably didn't even know who Sloan was. Shame. Then some guy started crowd surfing. It was the fastest way to the front of the crowd. I thought about it myself, but opted for not being touched in places that are reserved for private moments with Jeremy.
Piece 5: Speaking of private moments, after the concert, we headed over to this giant snow globe that we thought we could go in (we couldn't). Some random couple were sauntering along when they suddenly stopped in the spotlight and started making out. This was no ordinary PDA: I think maybe the girl had a wedgie that her boyfriend was helping her with.
Piece 6: Next, we headed to HMV. Jer and I wanted to buy the new Sloan CD: 10 bucks? deal. There's more to this piece later.
Piece 7: Bex and Laura, and Jer and I parted ways at Kennedy station. On the RT, Jer decided to share his 5 chillis with the rest of the passengers. The RT decided to stall for 15 minutes. Connection?
Piece 8 a.k.a Piece 6 Part 2: Jer and I decided to listen to our new Sloan CD in the car on the way to church. As Jer cleared off the car, I got in to put the CD on and heat up the car. But when I opened the CD case, there was no CD. "oh Jeremy, you silly" I thought. When he got in, I was like, "okay. Give me the CD." "I gave it to you," he said. Hmm. So we paid 10 bucks for a CD case. Not such a good deal. After church, we headed to HMV at the mall to exchange it and there were no CD's left. We got a gift card and ordered a new one.
Piece 9: I never really considered Scarborough Town Center to be a swanky place, but apparently it's really quite picturesque. No joke, a bride and groom were posing for their pictures on a bench in the mall- in front of the escalator. Silly me, and I thought flowers were pretty for wedding pictures. I guess everyone has their tastes: pink flowers or moving stairs? Moving stairs it is.
I'm telling my testimony at church tomorrow and I'm pretty nervous. Just thought I'd share it:
I could start where every one else seems to: I became a Christian when I was 6 years old at camp. Blah blah blah. Don’t misunderstand me; that moment in my life holds significant value to me. I still remember my counselor, although I don’t recall her name. She took the time to show me Christ’s love. I still remember lying on my stomach on my top bunk (we had to get there early so I could get a top bunk – When I was older, I wanted to leave home early so I could get a bottom bunk). I remember burying my head in my pillow and asking Jesus to live in my heart. So I guess that’s where my journey begins. But starting there seems so senseless; I didn’t fully understand the significance of the words I prayed when I was 6 years old.
So I’m going to fast forward a little bit. In grade 8 I considered myself a Christian. I went to church and Drop-In. I had been going to Mini-Yo-We every summer. I prayed. But at that point in my life, there were two people that influenced me a great deal. Their names were Calvin and Colin. Now, for those of you who haven’t already heard of these two guys, you’re probably thinking, “Isn’t that nice to have people influence us.” But for those of you who know about Calvin and Colin, you know that grade 8 was a very hard time for me. I dreaded getting out of bed and making the two minute walk to school for fear of facing cruel insults and hateful ridicule. For a young girl who was already self-conscious and unsure of herself, this was not helping. I came home with a tear-stained face on countless occasions and began calling in sick by pretending to be my mom. Soon, my sadness turned to anger and I began fighting back with words – very hateful and angry words. I yelled at Calvin and Colin. I yelled at my teacher for seeing what was happening on a daily basis and not doing anything about it. And on those days when I was home “sick,” I yelled at God for letting Calvin call me a Hippo and letting Colin call me stupid. I yelled at God for making me ugly. Eventually, I became so desperate to be accepted and to feel comfortable with myself that I slowly began eating less and less – I would go a whole day without eating much, but then I’d wake up in the night with hunger pains and sneak down to the kitchen to eat – I wasn’t a very successful anorexic.
I remember one particular day, I came home from school, and as soon as I shut my bedroom door, I burst into tears. I cried hard for a long time. That day, I was put into a group with Colin. Whenever I tried to participate in our group’s discussion, Colin would give me dirty looks and tell everyone else in the group not to listen to me because fat girls are stupid and don’t have anything important to say. That day in my room, I looked for comfort. I cried to God to make me pretty and to make me skinny. I grabbed my Bible and asked God to tell me something. I just opened it up and read the first words that my eyes rested on: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18. I cried even harder. God was telling me what was really important – not what other people thought of me, but what was in my heart, which brings us back to that night at camp on my top bunk when I asked Jesus into my heart. That’s what’s important. That’s what’s eternal.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that everything was perfect after that. I still came home crying some days. I still called in sick. I was still sad sometimes. But I kept that verse with me in my heart to remind me of what was really important. I still care about how I look, but I don’t base my identity and worth on it. And to quote one of my favourite books: “I don’t think we should base so much on weight, muscles, and a good hair day, but when it happens, it’s nice. It really is.” Fortunately, I’m having a good hair day today.
Nehemiah was able to bring together and encourage hundreds of regular everyday Joe's to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem in 52 days. Goldsmiths, Priests, Women, Perfume makers, Bakers, Servants. People from outside of Jerusalem, people from Jerusalem, people of different occupations and backgrounds came together to accomplish something. Did you know that the word "next" appears 14 times in the 3rd chapter of Nehemiah? All of these people from different origins, different experiences, different walks of life came together and worked next to each other. Not below the more important people, not above the servants and women, but next to each other with a common goal. This unity is something we can learn from.
When Nehemiah set out to rebuild the wall, he didn't look for stone masons, or construction workers. He looked for God's people, willing to lend a hand and do their part. Nehemiah trusted that God would provide the right people - people with gifts of encourgement and compassion. But what is most important is not the part we play, but doing our part. God doesn't favour the ministers over the ladies that make the coffee for Sunday morning. He doesn't favour Youth Pastors over those booking speakers, music, and events. All of our gifts are important, but the part we play is not as important as doing our part.
So many times, we are unwilling to take on a role in our churches, or even outside our churches, because we won't get recognition, or we think, "it's not important enough for me to do." Sometimes we think we're above certain tasks. But when we think that way, other's have to pick up the slack. Nehemiah 3:5 says, "The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors." Even back then, some people were unwilling to do their part. The men of Tekoa had to pick up the slack - they did extra work in order to finish the wall!
Still, it's not enough just to do the task that needs to be done, but to do it in good spirits. Nehemiah 3:20 says, "Baruch son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section." This guy worked zealously! Not only was he doing his part, he was doing it with a smile on his face. God not only wants us to do our part, He wants us to love doing our part. Do you really think we're bringing glory to God if we're serving food at the Saturday youth event with a scowl on our faces? Or if we're arguing with the others in the kitchen? Nehemiah and his crew are a tremendous example to us. Not only should we be doing our part in (and out!) of our churches, we should be happy to do it because we're glorifying God through the work we're accomplishing.
TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS by Jamie Tworkowski
Pedro the Lion is loud in the speakers, and the city waits just outside our open windows. She sits and sings, legs crossed in the passenger seat, her pretty voice hiding in the volume. Music is a safe place and Pedro is her favorite. It hits me that she won't see this skyline for several weeks, and we will be without her. I lean forward, knowing this will be written, and I ask what she'd say if her story had an audience. She smiles. "Tell them to look up. Tell them to remember the stars."
I would rather write her a song, because songs don't wait to resolve, and because songs mean so much to her. Stories wait for endings, but songs are brave things bold enough to sing when all they know is darkness. These words, like most words, will be written next to midnight, between hurricane and harbor, as both claim to save her.
Renee is 19. When I meet her, cocaine is fresh in her system. She hasn't slept in 36 hours and she won't for another 24. It is a familiar blur of coke, pot, pills and alcohol. She has agreed to meet us, to listen and to let us pray. We ask Renee to come with us, to leave this broken night. She says she'll go to rehab tomorrow, but she isn't ready now. It is too great a change. We pray and say goodbye and it is hard to leave without her.
She has known such great pain; haunted dreams as a child, the near-constant presence of evil ever since. She has felt the touch of awful naked men, battled depression and addiction, and attempted suicide. Her arms remember razor blades, fifty scars that speak of self-inflicted wounds. Six hours after I meet her, she is feeling trapped, two groups of "friends" offering opposite ideas. Everyone is asleep. The sun is rising. She drinks long from a bottle of liquor, takes a razor blade from the table and locks herself in the bathroom. She cuts herself, using the blade to write "FUCK UP" large across her left forearm.
The nurse at the treatment center finds the wound several hours later. The center has no detox, names her too great a risk, and does not accept her. For the next five days, she is ours to love. We become her hospital and the possibility of healing fills our living room with life. It is unspoken and there are only a few of us, but we will be her church, the body of Christ coming alive to meet her needs, to write love on her arms.
She is full of contrast, more alive and closer to death than anyone I've known, like a Johnny Cash song or some theatre star. She owns attitude and humor beyond her 19 years, and when she tells me her story, she is humble and quiet and kind, shaped by the pain of a hundred lifetimes. I sit privileged but breaking as she shares. Her life has been so dark yet there is some soft hope in her words, and on consecutive evenings, I watch the prettiest girls in the room tell her that she's beautiful. I think it's God reminding her.
I've never walked this road, but I decide that if we're going to run a five-day rehab, it is going to be the coolest in the country. It is going to be rock and roll. We start with the basics; lots of fun, too much Starbucks and way too many cigarettes.
Thursday night she is in the balcony for Band Marino, Orlando's finest. They are indie-folk-fabulous, a movement disguised as a circus. She loves them and she smiles when I point out the A&R man from Atlantic Europe, in town from London just to catch this show.
She is in good seats when the Magic beat the Sonics the next night, screaming like a lifelong fan with every Dwight Howard dunk. On the way home, we stop for more coffee and books, Blue Like Jazz and (Anne Lamott's) Travelling Mercies.
On Saturday, the Taste of Chaos tour is in town and I'm not even sure we can get in, but doors do open and minutes after parking, we are on stage for Thrice, one of her favorite bands. She stands ten feet from the drummer, smiling constantly. It is a bright moment there in the music, as light and rain collide above the stage. It feels like healing. It is certainly hope.
Sunday night is church and many gather after the service to pray for Renee, this her last night before entering rehab. Some are strangers but all are friends tonight. The prayers move from broken to bold, all encouraging. We're talking to God but I think as much, we're talking to her, telling her she's loved, saying she does not go alone. One among us knows her best. Ryan sits in the corner strumming an acoustic guitar, singing songs she's inspired.
After church our house fills with friends, there for a few more moments before goodbye. Everyone has some gift for her, some note or hug or piece of encouragement. She pulls me aside and tells me she would like to give me something. I smile surprised, wondering what it could be. We walk through the crowded living room, to the garage and her stuff.
She hands me her last razor blade, tells me it is the one she used to cut her arm and her last lines of cocaine five nights before. She's had it with her ever since, shares that tonight will be the hardest night and she shouldn't have it. I hold it carefully, thank her and know instantly that this moment, this gift, will stay with me. It hits me to wonder if this great feeling is what Christ knows when we surrender our broken hearts, when we trade death for life.
As we arrive at the treatment center, she finishes: "The stars are always there but we miss them in the dirt and clouds. We miss them in the storms. Tell them to remember hope. We have hope."
I have watched life come back to her, and it has been a privilege. When our time with her began, someone suggested shifts but that is the language of business. Love is something better. I have been challenged and changed, reminded that love is that simple answer to so many of our hardest questions. Don Miller says we're called to hold our hands against the wounds of a broken world, to stop the bleeding. I agree so greatly.
We often ask God to show up. We pray prayers of rescue. Perhaps God would ask us to be that rescue, to be His body, to move for things that matter. He is not invisible when we come alive. I might be simple but more and more, I believe God works in love, speaks in love, is revealed in our love. I have seen that this week and honestly, it has been simple: Take a broken girl, treat her like a famous princess, give her the best seats in the house. Buy her coffee and cigarettes for the coming down, books and bathroom things for the days ahead. Tell her something true when all she's known are lies. Tell her God loves her. Tell her about forgiveness, the possibility of freedom, tell her she was made to dance in white dresses. All these things are true.
We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don't get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won't solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we're called home.
I have learned so much in one week with one brave girl. She is alive now, in the patience and safety of rehab, covered in marks of madness but choosing to believe that God makes things new, that He meant hope and healing in the stars. She would ask you to remember.
So I've been working on my hair skills. Drawing hair takes an enormous amount of patience and talent. The two sample practice drawings on the right took me a couple of hours. After I finally nailed down the shape and where the shadows should go, I just kept drawing strand after strand until I could go through and erase sections and darken others. I'm actually really happy with the way the pony-tail turned out. I was frustrated with it in the beginning because I wasn't getting the shading or the realistic look that I wanted, but I realized that that look doesn't just appear after drawing a few lines - it takes time and layers and layers of pencil to get that full look of realistic hair.
Patience is definitely a virtue.
Ok, so I wasn't that angry, but what is it with telemarketers and their persistence? If I said no the first time, I'm going to say no the second and third and fourth time you ask me if I want to change to your phone company (one that I have NEVER heard of).
First of all, the woman asks, "Is this Mrs. Marchay?" And when I say no, you have the wrong number, she still continues her sales bit. After being told several times that I was not interested in whatever it was that she was selling (a cheaper phone plan), she seemed flabbergasted that I would reject her offer. But, really, what did the woman expect me to say? "Oh yes, I'll hand over personal information over the phone to a complete stranger from a company I've never heard of! This is my lucky day!" After I had declined politely several times, the woman would not give up and I was starting to get irritated. So I reemed her out and told her exactly why I wasn't interested in saving money:
First of all, you called me thinking I was someone else. I've never heard of your company, I'm already with another one, as you can tell because you're talking on the phone with me right now. I am not prepared to give you any of my personal information, I don't know who you are, and you can't speak English properly. I've said I'm not interested, I will never be interested, so please stop asking me.
and then I hung up on her.
a little harsh?
I was waiting at school the other day for someone I was selling a textbook to when a girl approached me and asked quietly, "are you Katie?" I was kind of in that state where you're day-dreaming and staring off into nothing, so I didn't answer her at first. She asked again and I snapped back into reality and realized that this girl was talking - but I wasn't really sure if she was talking to me. Her eyes were a little lazy and looking in slightly different directions, so it was really unclear where she was actually looking. Honestly, only about 10 seconds passed where I was completely confused, but it felt like 10 minutes while I squinted at her, trying to figure out where the heck she was looking. I finally realized she was the girl I was meeting and quickly made the exchange and went off to class. I didn't want to look at her again for fear of squinting at her irregular eyes.
I've realized to a greater extent that we take for granted the freedoms we have here. Hakakian spoke about how her Jewish school for girls was taken over by a female Muslim extremist, vying to convert the girls to Islam. The new principal told them they were dirty, took away their Passover holiday, and accused them of causing men to sin by letting stray strands of hair escape from under their scarves. She told the young girls that the "edge of their hairline" is the "edge of the apocalypse."
Later, Hakakian was taken into custody for having taken off her scarf. While being held for questionsing, she ate literature and her own poetry and writing that she had hidden in her clothes so as not to be put into prison. Any literature was considered a crime against the government.
Reading this woman's account opened my eyes to how different it is in other parts of the world and how much I take for granted. I wish I could really appreciate the freedom I have that allows me to fill my bookshelves with literature that I love.
Why am I such a nerd?
Already after the first week of classes have I finished reading 2 novels and taken meticulous notes - and I actually enjoyed it. I am the Queen of Dork.
I really don't want to be in school anymore. And I really don't want to take random courses that I really don't care about. School is pointless.
On Friday, Bex, Laura and I went to the Fox and Fiddle Mansion. I had never been there and I just assumed that it was a pub, which I was excited about. I love the relaxed atmosphere of a pub. So we get there and realize that the Fox and Fiddle Mansion suddenly turns into a club on a Friday night, but we stay because we're there for our other friend's birthday. Unfortunately, we had to wait in line to get in.
Every situation that involves a line-up will most likely involve line-cutters- one of my biggest pet-peeves. And of course, this line-up situation was no different. We had been waiting for maybe 15 minutes when three huge black guys kind of cut in front of us. Now, they weren't actually in front of us yet, but we could tell that they were definitely going to attempt to cut in. It wasn't until a couple more of their buddies showed up that they cut right in front of us to welcome their new friends. In all honesty, I was pissed.
Bex, Laura, and I contemplated confronting them, but we all chickened out. There were now five huge black guys in front of us - three little white girls. What could we do really? A few times I found myself almost saying something to them, but in the last second, changed my mind. I was honestly afraid that they would hurt me in some way and even considered them having a gun on them. I actually felt ashamed for thinking that.
Why was it that I thought they could potentially have a weapon? Because they're guys? Because they're big? Or because they're black? If they had looked like a lot of the other guys lining up that night: skinny white "clubber" guys, I probably wouldn't have had as much of a problem getting the courage to confront them about cutting in front of us. But because of preconceived ideas and stereotypes, I thought these guys had weapons because they were black. I really wish that wasn't the way my thought-process runs. I wish I could have just tapped those guys on the shoulder and tell them to mosey on down to the end of the line, but I couldn't because of my fear based on stereotypes.
To make this story slighly less unfortunate, I eventually got back in front of the guys by slowly squeezing my way back in as the line moved forward. In fact, they never confronted me for cutting back in front of them. Maybe they thought I was carrying a gun...
Over the past year or so I've taken up drawing again. I used to really enjoy it and now I'm in that mode where I really want to improve my skills and draw realistically.
Unfortunately, I can get impatient and want my drawing to look like the photo sooner than is possible. I like looking at professional graphite portraits because they're so impressive, but when my own drawing doesn't turn out like that, I get frustrated and want to give up or start again, rather than continue working on what I've got.
I'm going to try to work on being patient with my art - we'll see where it takes me.
Over the holidays, it's common to go to several different events, whether with family or with friends. I love it, but this year I've finally come to the conclusion that I much more enjoy smaller get-togethers than big parties.
With bigger crowds, I tend to blend into the wood-work a little more than usual. I find it hard to concentrate on one conversation or even to have one at all. I find I'm overwhelmed a little bit by the amount of people and miss the intimacy of a small group. Big parties are too loud, but I also find myself in awkward conversations with people that I don't really want to be talking to in the first place.
And then there's that awkward-ness I feel with big crowds, especially those containing people I'm not as familiar with. I want to be sociable - and I am a sociable person - but I find my conversational skills lacking big time.
At my family Christmas party, I watched my brother as he just talked to everyone about anything and was able to carry on an interesting conversation. I always say the same things: "I'm in my last year at university," "Yes, married life it great," "I read a lot for school." Bo-oring.
I'd really like to work on my conversational skills, especially with people that I tend not to feel as comfortable with. I want to be interesting and witty. I know I am those things - but only with certain people.
I wish I wasn't such a wallflower.