Has It Really Been...

August 27, 2005, I woke up for the first time in my new Bellingham home.

August 29, 2005, I got up at 4:00 AM and began my new job at 5:45.

Both days, I stopped and spent time admiring the view from somewhere. Everywhere I turned, the hills and trees and lights and water and mountains seemed to offer comfort and beauty and rest and hope.

I didn't know then what it would mean, or how exactly my life would change. I only knew that it had changed, and that it had needed to.

One year doesn't feel like much time anymore. Christmas. Birthdays. Evenings and mornings, winter and summer. Red leaves in the fall and flowers in the spring.

There are still connections to be made between the old and the new, and much to re-learn. And I will love my childhood years and my time at YD and my other great memories forever. That said, I'm grateful for this year.

For a white flower, picked from a bush outside of Haggen's. For a four-hour stint just sitting in my room, staring out my window, marveling. For laughing and crying with girls gathered in my living room of a Wednesday night. For Instant Messenger. For getting reacquainted with my Californian sister. For the hope of Bailey. For the fireside room at Hillcrest Chapel. For Spanish diccionarios, Greek typing, and hilarious people on telephones. For starting the blog I've wanted since first reading Chris Knight's a couple of years ago. For hours on the phone with a "best friend" who after eighteen years hasn't tired of me yet. For a young writer whose eyes look blue in some lights and green in others, who tells me beautiful things I've never heard before.

What will the next year hold? I'm content right now without the answer to that question. Three hundred sixty-five evenings and mornings overwhelm little Jennifer when she thinks about them in advance. One day at a time is good enough.



A week-and-a-half’s absence from blogland doesn’t necessarily result from a lack of things to say. Sometimes it has more to do with having too much, and lacking words or time to express it all.

Writing up an entire blog and then having one's internet crash can be thoroughly annoying.

Right now, the sun shines uninhibited by clouds of any sort, and I can see green leaves against blue sky—one of my favorite things in life.

It’s hard not to believe in God when standing in a forest next to a little sun-spangled, laughing, bubbling brook. That serenity and peace cannot be improved upon, except by entwining one’s fingers with those of someone who cares.

In case anyone doubted my bookworming propensities, I’ll confess to having read the entire text of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in one morning. This morning. Tennessee Williams can write, no doubt about that. The heartripping tragedy of the story contrasted oddly with the idyllic, late-summer color and light around me, though.

As impressive as anyone may find bronc riding and barrel racing, no part of a rodeo could top the mutton bustin’. After one small boy stood up gamely after getting rather dragged and tumbled by his sheep, the announcer said “He came out of the gate with two fistfuls of wool, folks, and he’s still got ‘em.” The boy raised his fists.

Even the best of songs grow annoying when the human brain puts them on instant replay. That said, “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge has run through my head for most of this week without wearing out its welcome in my life.

Few women have the moxie to stand up to the wiles of car salesmen. My sister Beth happens to be one of them.

When Anne Shirley talks about ‘kindred spirits’, I know what and who she means. Kindred spirits have, among their other greatnesses, the ability to go on as friends like they never left off, no matter the time elapsed since last contact. I have several of those in my life. I love them all. Shouldn’t put so much time between conversations with some of them.

It might not be “normal” to burst out laughing from total silence when no one else is around, but it sure makes life more fun.

Not many people talk about contentment in the context of young love. But they should. Or maybe they shouldn’t. Let it remain one of the good and perfect surprises.

And yes, I know that good English grammar frowns on the opening of a sentence with a conjunction. As passionately as I uphold the proper use of commas and semicolons and other important linguistic matters, however, that is a stupid rule.

The prophet Daniel had the right idea. It’s easier to pray by a window. Especially an open window. With a good view.


Moulin and Music

Naomi and I had this planned for weeks.

Last night, accompanied by Beth, we finally watched the Nicole Kidman/Ewan McGregor version of the old classic, Moulin Rouge. Neither one of us had ever seen either version; hence the movie night. Beth had seen it, so she explained it to us; it gets a little tough to follow in places.

Do I recommend the movie? Yes—to women who need a glass of wine, some chocolate, and a beautifully told, over-the-top, romantic story to cry over. It has a sad-though-satisfying ending and definitely has its risqué moments… being about a guy who falls in love with a prostitute… but it’s sweet. And the music!

Despite the fact that I like most of Elton John’s music, I’ve always hated the one called “Your Song.” I hated it thoroughly until the moment early in the movie where Ewan McGregor—his character trying to escape a rather embarrassing situation—starts off with the line “My gift is my song, and this one’s for you.” A stunned hush falls instantly over the scene (and over everyone watching.) It’s enough to give anybody goosebumps.

The same could be said for his two lines of “Up Where We Belong” and the final duet with Nicole Kidman on “Come What May.” Ewan McGregor—besides having fabulous tone to his voice—has got something very few modern singers possess: an understanding of how to use dynamics to their full potential.

And I’m totally jealous. Which means I’ve been practicing. On whatever songs come to mind.

So… if anyone in Bellingham has “You Light Up My Life” running through your head, sorry: you probably just passed me on the road somewhere.


The Gospel in Tie-Dye

Down in Old Fairhaven, where beats the heart of Bellingham culture, there’s a little fenced park known as the Fairhaven Green. Raised above the surrounding street and edged by glass-roofed patios, the Green boasts a perfectly-kept square of grass with a concrete stage-platform at one end. The stage abuts an old building with a giant white screen, set up for the local bands and popular movies they show down there every Saturday night in summer.

Last Thursday night, the Western Washington University theater guild took over the stage for their next-to-last production of Godspell. We saw it—Brandon and I—sitting on one of my old blankets on the grass, just one row back from the front. I had never seen the play. Now, I can tell you all that it’s one of those that sticks in your mind and just gets better as you think on it.

The little troupe of ten actors, four musicians, and a few techs, knew their craft. Godspell combines so many different theatrical styles that it can’t be easy to perform, but the gifted, wildly-costumed cast made it enthusiastic, vibrant—truly alive.

To add to that, I loved the music—everything from the comical, tap-danced “All For the Best”, to the Episcopal hymn lyric “We Beseech Thee”, to the hauntingly lovely “By My Side.”

For anyone who hasn’t seen it (and you should), Godspell basically tells the Gospel story in an offbeat, urban, 70’s musical setting. Apparently props, stage and costumes can be customized from one production to the next; this guild performed against a tie-dye-painted wall, wearing an assortment of outlandishly random clothes, and throwing empty soda cans and water bottles at each other during the “Tower of Babble” act.

Nine of the actors (everyone but Jesus) took on multiple roles—for instance, the same guy played John the Baptist and Judas—and the first half of the show moved through a rapid, uptempo progression of parables, teachings, and events. It was often downright hilarious, with ten comedians running up and down the aisle and all over the stage, interacting playfully with each other and the audience. The second half sobered down gradually, culminating naturally in the death and resurrection of Christ (hope I didn’t just spoil the story for anyone :-P )

As to the power of telling a well-known story in a new and creative way—let’s just say that for me, watching, it stripped out all of the excess baggage attached to Christianity by the difficulties of life, by the church's legalism, by the world’s mocking cynicism, and left me with Christ.

My favorite part: when Jesus looked into the eyes of the woman caught in adultery, put his hands on her shoulders, and said “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and do not sin again.” He started to walk away, but turned back to her with a smile and took her hand as she sang him these words:

“Where are you going?
Where are you going?
Can you take me with you?
For my hand is cold
And needs warmth
Where are you going?

Far beyond where the horizon lies
Where the horizon lies
And the land sinks into mellow blueness
Oh please, take me with you…”

“…Then I'll take your hand
Finally glad
Finally glad
That you are here
By my side”


I Am 50% Weird

From the sublime to the… well, hilarious, anyway. I worried about this post being too great a contrast with my last. Humor is good, though, and laughter heals. It has certainly helped me this weekend.

Briana, my best friend and a veteran Myspacer, recently posted the results of an internet quiz on her site. It told her that her “inner European” was Italian. Which makes sense, if you know Briana; she studied photography in Italy and, in the process, fell so much in love with that country that she’s now learning the language as well.

Of course, I had to try the quiz. This automatically meant that I killed an absolutely unreasonable amount of time yesterday taking internet quizzes. When it comes to getting acquainted with oneself, no question is too small, I guess.

The quizzes range everywhere from a “quick and dirty IQ test”—which told me I was below average logically, even after I’d played with the answers until the score went as high as it would go and it called me a genius in every other area of knowledge—to generators that will give you invariably stupid foreign names. I had a blast playing with them; laughed hard and freely at the tests and their results. Among other things, I have learned from them that my inner Californian would live in Orange County, that my “2005 summer anthem” was Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone”, that I’m so sexy I sometimes scare men away, and that I should date a Swede.

Here are some of my favorite results. You can take these tests yourself (after you finish reading this post, of course!) Be careful, though: they’re highly addictive.

My “inner European” didn’t surprise me at all; well, except by actually being reasonable:

Your Inner European is French!

Smart and sophisticated.
You have the best of everything - at least, *you* think so.

This particular quiz seemed like the answer to my prayers (you have to read my post “Odd Stuff” to understand that):

You Should Learn French

C'est super! You appreciate the finer things in life... wine, art, cheese, love affairs.
You are definitely a Parisian at heart. You just need your tongue to catch up...

This one intrigued me. What kind of soul are you? it asked. While taking the test, I wondered in amusement how many kinds there were, and who defined them. This is really a pretty accurate description of my personality, though; the quizmakers must have ripped off part of the Myers-Briggs or something. I wonder about the compatibility feature, however, since the "What Kind of Soda Are You? quiz told me to stay away from my best friend's personality:

You Are a Peacemaker Soul

You strive to please others and compromise anyway you can.
War or conflict bothers you, and you would do anything to keep the peace.
You are a good mediator and a true negotiator.
Sometimes you do too much, trying so hard to make people happy.

While you keep the peace, you tend to be secretly judgmental.
You lose respect for people who don't like to both give and take.
On the flip side, you've got a great sense of humor and wit.
You're always diplomatic and able to give good advice.

Souls you are most compatible with: Warrior Soul, Hunter Soul and Visionary Soul

I’ve lain awake nights wondering about this one. You have, too. Admit it:

Your Personality Is Like Ecstasy

You're usually feeling the love for the world around you - you want to hug everyone.
And while you're usually content to sit back and view the world with wonder...
Sometimes your world becomes very overwhelming and a little scary.

As a new but loyal X-Men fan, who has happily progressed all the way to reading (Brandon’s) comics, I simply had to take this:

You Are Cyclops

Dedicated and responsible, you will always remain loyal to your cause.
You are a commanding leader - after all, you can kill someone just by looking at them.

Power: force beams from your eyes

I didn’t know how to feel about this response:

You Are 50% Weird

Normal enough to know that you're weird...
But too damn weird to do anything about it!

This one came as a bit of a relief. Since I scored so high on weirdness, though, apparently my quirks have just manifested themselves in Yankee ways :P

You Are 10% Redneck

I'll slap you so hard, your clothes will be outta style.
You ain't no redneck - you're all Yankee!

I would never have posted one that asked simply for the kind of car I drive, except for the hilarity of the response. Ask my family; they’ll all tell you I’ve openly liked the idea on this bumper sticker. “I’m Matt Foley… and I’m a motivational speaker…”

Your Bumper Sticker Should Be

Livin' in a van - down by the river

And now, for the grand finale, is one all you men will definitely want to take. The internet appears to have been tipped off about my listening to Metamorphosis at work (no joke—I actually do that):

Your Inner Pop Princess Is Hilary Duff

"I'm shedding
Shedding every color
Trying to find a pigment of truth
Beneath my skin"

You're sweet and cute, but a little more complex than that.

Now it's your turn! You know you have all been wondering what kind of mythological creature you are (I'm a mermaid) or what kind of pizza you would be ('Everything' pizza, in my case) or what animal you were in a past life (apparently, I was a beaver; I have no memory of this.) Ahh, I love the internet. You can find answers to everything you ever wanted to know and more... much more.


Now I Understand…

…something of what people mean, when they lose someone they love and say “They still live… their love, their memory, lives inside me.”

I’ve never lost someone really close to me, so you’ll hopefully forgive me for talking this way about a dog. To make it to age 28 without losing a parent or sibling or close friend, either to age or tragedy, ranks in the category of miracles, but I have. And the mere thought of losing the few people very close to me—I’ve always kept the bulk of my social life to family and a few close friends—makes up my saddest moments. I will not compare losing an animal, even Peaches, to the loss of a human life’s presence on this earth.

Someone might say, as if in agreement, “It’s just a dog.” But I know better than that.

When I was sick, she curled up beside me on the couch. When I came home after YD trips, she crawled up in my arms and sat there so I wouldn’t go away again. When the man I loved left Washington to marry another woman and an unrelated experience left me with panic attacks and I didn’t know if I could ever trust God fully again, she was among the loyal ones whose love got me through—the one who followed me around like a little shadow and slept in the crook of my elbow.

And I can’t seem to make myself believe that she won’t come running and barking next time I visit my parents, wanting to be picked up, frenzied with welcome.

Or howl with my sister, or ride around on her shoulder. Or that Sweet Pea, Mom’s dog, won’t butt in for her share of the attention, or sit on the couch and bark at mocking cats. When Peaches got sick, Mom took the aged, frail and practically toothless Sweet Pea in too, knowing that Sweet Pea would have had a short and sad life without Peaches there. The dogs hadn’t been separated for more than a few hours in eleven years, and Sweet Pea couldn’t even handle hours well. My poor mother. Those dogs were a part of almost everything she does.

As humans, we live with loss, but we don’t forget being loved. Not completely. Not if we’re in our right minds.

Now, I’ve cried until 1:15 AM, when I know I have to go to work in the morning. And I’ll have to post this halfway through the day, so my sister doesn’t read it and wind up crying when she’s trying to answer telephones. Peaches was her dog first.

We had eleven years. And no, to the insatiable human heart, it was not enough. But it was good. And I’m still inclined to hope that dogs really do go to heaven. I can’t help myself. Love never dies.



Apparently, after getting comment-spammed the other day and turning on Word Verification for comments, I somehow managed to restrict all commenting to "Team Members Only"... which meant that nobody could comment except for... well... me! Since I'm not inclined to do all my own commenting, and I like to hear the opinions of my friends and anyone who might drop by, I have fixed that little problem.

Thanks, Brandon and Chris, for pointing that out to me this morning... never would have figured it out myself!

Happy commenting :-)