Saturday, August 28, 2010

Getting to Know Me

A while back this thing saying "Tell me 25 random things about you" was floating around Facebook, and I did it. I came across it the other day, and I thought it’d be a cool blog post for those who don’t know me that well. I’ve added a few to round it off at 30. Enjoy.

1. I love Mississippi with every part of me. In so many ways it defines every aspect of who I am...both good and bad. I can’t think of a better place to have been raised; it showed me trees as well as tall buildings; it showed me love just as much as its much publicized hate; it showed me the importance of family and friends but also the necessity of solitude. Pretty much everything that is important about me or in my life can be traced back to a time or place in Mississippi.

2. I’m a klutz in every sense of the word. My body (and often ego) are always bruised, scabbed, or sore from some tumble or slip.

3. I didn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird until I was 22 (a shame for anybody raised in the South). But after reading it, I spent the next year writing about it because it was so powerful. It still moves me, and there are parts of it that still bring me to tears even after more than 20 reads.

4. I love baseball with an unbelievably deep passion. And while my love for the Red Sox is leagues above the rest, I can watch any game by any team at any time. I watch well over 250 baseball games a year (counting 162 Red Sox games, spring training games, all play-off games, and the random Braves, White Sox and Cubs games on tv here), and at no point in my life have I watched a game and not thought of my daddy. It’s an intense mixture of love, happiness and longing all rolled into one. I’m certain my love for baseball is completely intertwined with my love for my father.

5. I’ve been unusually blessed with great mentors and teachers at every stage in my life.

6. My favorite city on earth is a tie between Zanzibar, Tanzania and Nice, France. I’d like a villa in both when I grow up (and obviously come into some unexpected money). But, my home is my favorite place on earth. The front porch at the house I grew up in is where I go (or want to go) when I’m sad, confused, lost, or wandering. From that spot, everything becomes clear; it doesn’t fix everything, but it certainly brings solace to whatever I’m feeling.

7. C. S. Lewis’ book The Last Battle rocked my world unlike anything I think I’ve ever read. It’s been 10 years since I read it on a bus in the South of France, but I still get chills thinking about it. More so than any other book, it made the second coming of Christ and the end of the world seem real and not fantastical. I. Was. Rocked!

8. My nephews have born in me and shown me a love like I never knew there was. Upon first look I felt complete love -- love that didn’t need to be earned or justified. I would imagine it’s the love most parents feel, but I’m certain it’s the purest example I’ve seen of God’s love.

9. I always fail personality tests. It never fails that I baffle the test giver. I’m never one group/animal/letter/type, and often I’m all of them. I’m as type B as they get in some areas and as type A in others. While it would seem like the best of both worlds, it’s often a duel.

10. I love the show My Boys; it reminds me of the end of college and the couple of years afterwards. There is no direct correlation between the characters and the guys in my life at that point, but I never watch that show without missing Jonathan, Wes, and CJ (and the other guys who came and went). It’s comical because the show is so sports related, and none of those were/are sportsy kinda guys. On top of my entertainment center is a photo of Wes, CJ, Jonathan and me at the Devore’s, and it encapsulates so much of that time to me. I look at that picture and don’t see the picture, I see the memories spread across many days and nights over a couple of years.

11. Similarly, I don’t watch any show or read any book about girlfriends that I don’t think of Kirsten, Amy and Heather. Life and changing dynamics hasn’t erased their importance to me and to who I am (who they helped make me become). Were I to live another 100 years without seeing or talking to them, I’d still say they were three of the most influential people in my life.

12. Most people think that because I’m working on a PhD I must be smart. The truth is, I’m the youngest of three children, and both my brother and sister are leagues smarter than I am. They both could easily do what I do, but I could never succeed in their fields. The fact that they pretend not to know this makes me love them even more.

13. I love baking. My life seems stress-free when I’m in a kitchen covered in flour trying out a new recipe. The fact that baking kills my appetite so that I don’t actually eat what I’m baking is an added plus.

14. My sister is my bestest friend. I wish I had her daring, and she makes my life a little less vanilla, and I love her for it.

15. One observant trip around my house could tell you more about me than any survey or list ever could.

16. My plant, Leon, is actually the second Leon (though I like to pretend it isn’t true). I let the first Leon die, and I was so devastated that I bought a small, more manageable plant and named him Leon too. Leon is, of course, named for Leon Phelps, The Ladies’ Man. I’ve since killed Leon #2…I wept.

17. I love classic movies, but Good Will Hunting and Almost Famous are my favorite non-classic movies (though the older I get, the closer they come to being old enough to be classics). Good Will Hunting, more so than any other movie, changed my view on life, experience and love.

18. Speaking of movies, I love action films as much as romantic comedies. Both have things that blow up (cars in one, relationships in the other), and by the end of both, the guy gets the girl and vice versa. They both are equally unrealistic...and I love it!

19. I'm more honest with my friend DiAnne than I am with myself. I can lie to myself, but she throughs me when I lie to her, so it’s useless.

20. I think the term “love” is thrown around too much and the action is not thrown around enough. People seem to be so wrapped up in the emotion and status of “being in love” or the acquisition of romantic love that there seems too little effort left to actually show love to others. I try to live my life following the words of John: “Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and everyone that love is born of God and knows God ... because God is love.” And, “Let us not love with words or tongue but in action and in truth.”

21. If in my life I possess half the strength I’ve seen in my mother, I’ll be pleased.

22. I flatter easily, and often flattery embarrasses me. I tend to be dismissive of compliments because ... actually, I don’t know why, but I am.

23. I’m simple yet quirky. I’m not great at first impressions because I vacillate between being a wallflower and nervously talking incessantly. I’m better at second impressions. :-D

24. My daddy called me Baby, and it stuck. I spent the vast majority of my early life as Baby or The Baby (until Jeff actually had babies and it got too confusing). In high school my friends called me Eli (mostly). My sister gave me the nickname Libby. When Reese was born, Elizabeth was too hard to say so we started referring to me as Libby, and that’s when it really stuck, and all the little kids in my life call me Libby. My sister lengthened it to Libby Lou and then shortened it again to Lou. I went by Crews in college, and after awhile I became rather endeared to it. Crews and Libby are my favorite nicknames. There is nothing more precious to my ears than to hear my nephews call me Libby. However, I also love my name, and the sound of people calling me Elizabeth is sweet.

25. I read chick-lit and travel stories when I want to read for mindless pleasure/enjoyment. Lying on a beach reading chick-lit is my idea of a perfect day!

26. I think Tennyson had it right when he said “Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.” I fully believe that I was blessed to have the father I had…even if for only 15 years. I would much rather have a father who loved me completely and was amazing but who died when I was 15 than have a father who lived my whole life but was a crappy father.

27. I keep a framed Monopoly ship on my desk at work. I gave it to Jonathan when he moved to California. Mrs. Dottie gave it back to me after he died. I made it so he could have a reminder of us and home while he was away; I now keep it on my desk as a reminder of him.

28. My dad’s baseball glove is one of my most prized possessions. It’d be among the first things I’d grab if my house was on fire.

29. I absolutely love my job. I prayed for a job like this for years assuming it didn’t really exist and hoping God would at least get it in the same ballpark. Yea, I have a tendency to underestimate God. The job I have is my dream job, and I absolutely love Shorter, the students, and my co-workers. I’m so unbelievably blessed.

30. I jones for different music at different times and different seasons. I go through phases of genres or artists. But, The Rolling Stones and Otis Redding are good any time. They fit any mood, any moment. They’re like an old pair of jeans that fit no matter how much weight you’ve put on; they’re worn and that makes them perfect. And the more they’re utilized, the better they get.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Visit to the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House

I’ve been working diligently on my dissertation lately. I’m writing about the concept of “Home” and what that means to us as individuals and families. So, it was with the theories of home I’ve been reading and my own conclusions about what that word means that I entered the Gatewood Ronald McDonald House in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago.

Once I rang the doorbell, I was immediately greeted with a friendly smile and led back to meet with Lauren Chandley, the Marketing and Communications Intern. Lauren showed me around the house. I knew the family eating and sitting areas around the main lobby and the kitchen, but I’d never seen so much of the house. The rooms the families stay in are very much arranged like a hotel room, but the wall colors, lighting, and art work are more inviting than the typical hotel. Every room has a view of the outside so that the families can see nature around them; it gives the rooms a rather open feel to them. Also on the floors with rooms, there are many family areas where families can go and eat dinner, sit and read a book, or lounge around watching television. There is a conference room with computers where parents can carry on business or work from “home” while staying at the house. The house and rooms were immaculately clean! I didn’t think it was humanly possible for a place to be more clean – then Lauren took me into the transplant wing! The air is purified, and everything is sterilized. This wing houses the transplant patients who are well enough to leave the hospital but not well enough to go home and their families. These families stay longer at the house, so they have apartment type suites. These rooms have two bedrooms, their own kitchen and laundry rooms, and a small den. These families and children can’t interact with those outside the transplant wing because they can’t risk bringing infection to the transplant patients. There is a tv room where families of transplant patients can interact, and there is a conference room where family members can work and where doctors often come and meet with them. Back downstairs in the common areas, there are many sitting areas and nooks. There is a play room with everything from toys to video game stations; the house will soon be getting a Wii system, and everyone is rather pumped about it!

Throughout the tour I was continuously pleased with how home-like the house seemed. Families aren’t confined to their hotel-like rooms. There are plenty of places where they can go and do many of the things they do in their own homes. The house, like any home, has areas where people congregate and places of retreat for privacy. There are places outdoors where family members can go to get fresh air, have a picnic, or just walk around. No place can replace our real homes, but often places away from home serve well as temporary homes while providing all that the primary home does. The Ronald McDonald House is a homey house that comes as close to being “home” as anywhere away from home can be.

There are many ways to get involved if you want. Several events are coming up, and the houses can always use volunteers. I’ll be blogging soon about each of the upcoming events and about various ways in which you can get involved with the Ronald McDonald House in Atlanta (or the one near you).

Monday, August 2, 2010

When Or Was Bob

My best friend gets married tomorrow. As we’ve celebrated the occasion all weekend and today, I can’t help of thinking back to the days when we would discuss the perfect guys for us. Kirsten has called the man she would marry and the love of her life “Bob” for as long as I can remember. We would laugh as we talked about what Bob would be like, and we got giddy looking forward to finally meeting him.
I remember the first time Kirsten told me about Or. She was a million miles away, but I could tell in her voice that he was unique -- unlike any other guy she had ever talked about. The first time I met Or, Kirsten had just moved back to the States; he had come home with her; and they had driven to Atlanta before Or flew back to Israel. They spent the night with me, and I got to see the way in which they interacted. It was instantly clear that this guy was special and that she was special to him. That was the first time in all my years of knowing Kirsten that I thought, “I think I just met Bob.” I’ve loved getting to know Or over the last couple of years, and I’ve loved seeing how perfectly he and Kirsten fit each other. I’m unsure what I pictured or what I thought Kirsten’s Bob would be like exactly, but Or is so much more than I could have imagined. In all of our idealistic musings about her life with Bob, I don’t think we ever realized just how happy he would make her and, as equally important, how happy she would make him. I can’t wait until tomorrow when Kirsten marries the love of her life, and dream Bob officially retires and steps aside for the reality of Or.