Saturday, December 31, 2005

Plop, Plop, Fizz Fizz...

Oh what a relief it is.

I totally quit my miserable Corperate Bookstore job tonight. (Or, I gave two weeks notice.) Corperate Coffee said they were more than happy to take me on full-time, so why would I torture myself at Bookstore? I'm no glutton for punishment.

And there's an awesome story to go along with it, that I probably shouldn't blog about, because I don't want to get sued. But if you haven't heard it yet, and want to, feel free to ask.


(Ahhh...I feel so free.)

Michaela @6:05 AM :: Comment

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Two Years Left to Live

Turns out my soft, kind heart towards the insect world ("Capitial Punishment for the Pretty Bugs")was a good thing after all.

I'd have felt really guilty these days, all things considered.


Michaela @8:38 AM :: Comment

Monday, December 26, 2005

I'm not dead yet.

...But if I keep it up, I just might be. I've decided I really cannot work 6 days a week anymore. I'm sure that makes me a wimp, especially when I compare myself to the hard-working days of yore, when I'd be up at 5am to milk cows and feed babies and cook a hearty breakfast for my man who is going out to hunt boar. Or whatever. But I'm not only wearing myself out, I am having no time for any semblance of a life. My only holiday day off was Christmas...which was LOVELY and wonderful, but I worked til 6 on Christmas Eve, and I'm back to work today. I remember when I was a kid, thinking how great Christmas breaks and Summer breaks were (who am I kidding...I still thought that up til this year), and realizing how much it sucked that adults didn't get those. And now I don't get those. Bummer. But having only Sundays off means that I don't really get a full day off...because Sunday is generally church/family stuff, and that's when I have to catch up on all the things I haven't been able to do during the week. Make sense?

Aside from Christmas (which I may write more about later), my only "break" time this week was really Thursday, when I went with my friends Jackie and Lincoln to see the Chonicles of Narnia. Now, I know there have been nay-sayers about it, but honestly, I thought it was really very good. Not perfect, but I wasn't expecting that.

I realized part of the way through the movie, why I was loving it so much. The movie managed to take me out of my life - to a sort of "fantasy world" that felt very very real. And perhaps that makes me sound slightly kooky, but maybe some of you understand. I love movies that resonate with me, that have such clear elements of truth and beauty.

And so, I recommend it.

As for now, though, as usual, I'm going to get ready for work.


Michaela @6:12 PM :: Comment

Monday, December 19, 2005

Jesus Resides Here

I was shaking a little, as I walked over the crunchy, snow-covered grass to a stranger's house. It struck me as ironic, that only three minutes before, I looked out at the fresh-fallen half-inch of snow, and thought about how snow makes the world seem so new and clean - and how much I wished some snow could fall on my life right now, covering it over and making it new.

I walked up the steps, and the door was already opening before I got there. In the window next to it was a sign that said "JESUS resides here!". I sure hope so, because rumor has it this Jesus fellow is full of grace and mercy and forgiveness.

"My mom said she'll be right down", said the girl, african-american, probably about 12, when the door opened. Black scottie dogs circled her legs, and barked at me, the stranger. I was still shaking, and couldn't tell if it was from the cold or my shock and fear.

Within moments, a large black woman in her silk dressing gown came down the stairs and opened the door.

"I am so sorry!" I told her, not sure what else to say.

"Don't worry, don't worry. Come on in, it's cold outside."

I stepped into the suburban house, 9:30am on a Sunday morning, and smelled the unmistakable scent of fried chicken.

"I'm so sorry!" I said again. "I tried taking the corner slow...and the car just slid. I just wanted to go to church!" I figured this would gain me points, seeing as apparently, Jesus himself lived here.

"It's alright, these things happen. It's slick, that's why I decided we wouldn't go to church today. But it's okay. Besides, that's what my husband gets for parking out there on the street."

We swapped phone numbers and information, and she said her husband would call when he got home from work. I walked out past the truck I'd hit, with the three kids now outside to inspect it. The truck took a lot less of a beating than my Blazer - a tail light out, the bumper mangled, and the truck bed slightly bent in at the wheel well, from the hit at the tail light. My car window - mostly in one piece, but not without a lot of glass around it - lay next to the truck. Some redneck neighbor came out, pretending he had to get something out of his car. "I thought I heard somethin'!" he said. "Well, you did, Sherlock", I should have said. But I didn't. I don't remember what I said, and don't really care.

I walked back to my car. The entire passenger-side rear door bashed in, along with a dent in the bodywork next to the door, where the wheel sits. It was bad.

But it could have been much worse. I was definitely skidding towards the truck head-first, but managed a little steering at the last second, which meant it hit the side instead. And it is mostly confined to that door - when it could have so easily been both doors, or the front, making it a lot worse.

I slowly drove home - still in the 4-wheel-drive which has done me well in snows past - shaking. I didn't start crying til I got in the house.

This really shouldn't be the headache that it is. The car is (we think) double-insured, despite the fact that I told my Grandmother that she should stop paying insurance on it. It should be straight-forward and uncomplicated. But nothing is uncomplicated with my extended family, and the car has already been causing major strife in the family since the day I bought it off my grandmother. We all wanted to just give it back to her, so she'd shut up, but I had no other way of getting a car. I was going to keep payments for her for a few months, and then give it back to her, so that we wouldn't have to deal with the headache of her until it was paid in full. I'd rather deal with creditors and car dealerships than with her.

So we haven't told her yet.

There are a lot of other reasons that this has also come at a bad time. A very bad time. And did it have to happen on my day off, God? The least that could have happened was that I'd get a day off work out of the deal, instead of ruining my whole free day - the only day off I get in a week. I was just trying to go to church. And let's be honest, I didn't really want to do that today anyway. I wanted to stay in bed.

But if I'm to be thankful for anything, it's that it seems Jesus lived in the house where I hit the truck.

Michaela @1:10 AM :: Comment

Friday, December 16, 2005

Better to have loved and lost?

On certain Sundays in November
When the weather bothers me
I empty drawers of other summers
Where my shadows used to be
And she is standing by the water
As her smile begins to curl
In this or any other summer
She is something all together different
Never just an ordinary girl

And in the evenings on Long Island
When the colors start to fade
She wears a silly yellow hat
That someone gave her when she stayed
I didn't think that she returned it
We left New York in a whirl
Time expands and then contracts
When you are spinning in the grip of someone
Who is not an ordinary girl

And when you sleep you find your mother in the night
But she stays just out of sight
So there isn't any sweetness in the dreaming
And when you wake the morning covers you with light
And it makes you feel alright
But it's just the same hard candy you're
remembering again

You send your lover off to China
And you wait for her to call
You put your girl up on a pedestal
Then you wait for her to fall
I put my summers back in a letter
And I hide it from the world
All the regrets you can't forget
Are somehow pressed upon a picture
In the face of such an ordinary girl

And when you sleep you find your mother in the night
But she fades just out of sight
So there isn't any sweetness in the dreaming
And when you wake the morning showers
you with light
And it makes you feel alright
But it's just the same hard candy
You're remembering again

Tonight, while flipping through the millions of channels we manage to get on our satellite TV, I noticed that public television was showing an hour-long program before BBC World News called "Visions of England". Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to watch it.

The UK is a beautiful place. It really is. I can honestly say I've been to a lot of beautiful places, but the UK - particularly Edinburgh - may well be the most beautiful. I know I'm sorta biased. But I really do mean that. In three years, through the reality of living in a very imperfect city full of imperfect people, I still woke up everyday, sunshine or cloudy haze, and marveled at the beauty of where I lived. I venture to say that clouds and mist sometimes even suit the place, which is a good thing, given the infamous British weather.

Of course, the tv show said nothing of Scotland, (or N. Ireland or Wales for that matter) only England, which will no doubt ruffle the feathers of many of my Scottish friends, but for all my loyalties to the North, I think England is a pretty great place too. Besides, when there are no TV shows on Scotland, one on England will just have to do.

The show was very "public television-esque", complete with accompaniment by symphony doing Hymn's Greatest Hits, a soothing southern English female voice-over, catering to the wealthy elite who happen to watch public television and can afford to travel overseas. It consisted of fly-over views of many of the major cities (and some of the minor villages) of England - Bath, Cambridge, Oxford, Canturbury, Stratford-on-Avon, London, and of course Cheddar. Yes, Cheddar. I sat on the floor in front of the fireplace in the living room with my nightly cup of tea (it's hard to teach an old dog new drinking habits) and bored my mother to tears with random facts of places I'd visited and seen. ("Went there, but didn't go in. Too expensive." "I ate lunch on that bench once. There. SEE IT?!") It was stunning in that touristy sort of way, adding various facts that all American tourists really should know ("The Tower Bridge is often mistaken for the London Bridge..." and the ever popular "Big Ben is actually the name of the bell...."). It was very much how I viewed Britain from before I'd ever been. Everyone has a picture of every place they know of in their heads, due to whatever photos or movies they've seen of the place. In most every case, the real thing is nothing as it has been percived. These days, along with the breathtaking views of the UK, I couldn't help but add my own real knowledge of the place: "Around that corner there is a Tesco Metro. But don't buy the pasta salad there, it's rank." (Don't worry, I didn't actually tell my mother that one.) Alongside the beauty of Harrods, the Tower of London, St Pauls and the Houses of Parliament, I can't help but remember other facets of British culture we Americans don't often really know: Eastenders, Goldie Lookin Chain, Brick Lane's cultures (mmmm, real Indian food...) Leek and Potato Soup, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Top Shop, Gareth Gates, Jodie Marsh, Jordan, Corination Street, Carol Vordeman, pork pies, ITV, poverty, drugs culture, "laddism", rugby, cricket, butteries**, the Barrowlands, Big Brother, I'm a Celebrity, Jonathan Ross....and the list can go on and on. In between all the beauty of Ben Nevis and Buckingham Palace, Oxford and St Andrews, there lies a very real country with very real people that I very much fell in love with.

The best I can describe how I felt, watching the show, was kinda like how one might feel when your kindergarten crush punched you in the stomach and ran away. The kick to the gut hurts, but at least she touched you! I was even a bit breathless - my heart hurt, missing my home. I felt the same way last week when a Scottish Irish band ("Boys of the Lough") played beautifully on A Prairie Home Companion, ending with "Flowers of Edinburgh". For just a little while, while driving in my car, listening to the radio, I was back with the place I love.

They do say that it's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, and in theory I agree. But with such love comes an understanding that you really won't be the same again, even if you tried - that you are forever changed, and even when memories of that love fade, they never go away.

I recently received an email from my friend Rachel, a dear friend who shares my wunderlust, having also lived overseas (Honduras and Amsterdam) for lengthy amounts of time. In her email, she said to me (from her current abode, at her sister's in Oxford):

Do you ever worry that you may never be able to feel right living in the States again? I ask because I feel like that sometimes. Or often. I find myself dreading the thought of having to move back there…which is not really a good thing, I don't think its very healthy to think that way. But when I was there in september/october, whenever, I just couldn't wait to leave, I felt like such a stranger. I have found that I feel much more 'at home' in amsterdam that I ever really did in Kansas City. And that's fine for now, but what if God asks me to go back, what if he leads me back there? Ahhhh..sometimes that scares me .

Falling in love is scary as hell, even if it is just with a place.

And so, as the song goes, I find myself emptying "drawers of other Summers" (and Winters, and Springs and Autumns) tonight, via public television and the BBC World News, and I'm left with the bittersweet hard candy of remembering, and wondering about the "girl" (are countries supposed to be female? like boats?) I left behind. And one can't help but wonder if I'll fall in love with another again sometime, or if my "first love" will remain my true love.

Geographically speaking, anyway.


**Praise the Lord! I found a recipe for butteries!!!! Bring out your best lard!!!

Michaela @6:48 AM :: Comment

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

You can take the girl out of Scotland...

Today at the bookstore, I made a comment to a customer which included "Sod's Law!"*.

The lady looked at me like I was crazy.


*Had I said "Murphy's Law", she would have had a clue what I was talking about.

Michaela @2:54 AM :: Comment

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

only with laughter can you win

You'd never know it, but I'm as much a creature of habit as anyone else.

I have a routine for my breaks from work, in which I go out to my car, take a cup of coffee, and enjoy a precious few minutes away from everything. Oftentimes I just listen to NPR, sometimes I enjoy a cigarette, sometimes I read a little from whatever book I'm working on at the time. In any case, I get to sit down...and if I were to do that in the back room of either job, it would inevitibly mean having to talk with coworkers, which kills the point of a break for me. It comes as a surprise to a lot of people, but I value my time alone.

Friday was a particularly hard day at work, even harder than Saturday - surprising, considering I worked 13 hours on Saturday, and only 8 on Friday. But I went out for my break to my car, frustrated with a couple of coworkers, and tired of faking cheerfulness as a greeter at the bookstore. As I sat in my car, an old black man with a kind eyes, a Cosby sweater, and large gold jewelry walked up to his car with shopping bags in hand, which was parked just in front of mine. We met eyes, and I'm not sure who smiled first, but I was so thankful for that smile from him. With a nod of the head, he got in his car and he was on his way.

People tell you all the time that a simple smile can brighten someone's day. Sometimes they're actually telling the truth.

Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.
~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Michaela @6:32 AM :: Comment

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Crazy Lady Story

So I've honestly been working so much that by the time I come home, I don't particularly want to sit in front of the computer, or think too terribly hard. I'm sorry about that. Two jobs are keeping this girl busy. And I do feel bad, because there are MANY of you that I owe emails to from the past couple of weeks (except you, Sarah...I cry myself to sleep everynight, awaiting your reply of course! ;) ), but I promise I'll get to it. I'll have both Sunday AND Monday off...hurrah!

So in the meantime, I'll tell you a little story.

Last week, I'm working at the drive-thru (which, you will notice, is never "drive-through", because we in America can't waste letters, what with the recent letter shortage) of Corporate Coffee Place*. There are usually two people on drive-thru, because we're pretty busy. So I was doing a drink while my co-worker (we'll call him Jim*) took an order. We both have headsets, so can hear what is being ordered.

The lady orders, and first of all, she just makes no sense. There's no other way of putting it, her order was just all over the place. I couldn't believe Jim managed to actually decipher what she wanted in the end (and she ordered four fairly complicated drinks).She also felt the need to tell us who each drink was for: "....and a tall hot chocolate for the babysitter". As if we need to know that. He goes to read back her order, and she rather rudely interrupts: "Don't do that! Don't do that. Here. This is what I ordered...." She repeats her convoluted order. Jim and I are both looking at our secret car camera at her, and looking at each other, incredulous. "OK, I got it ma'am, I'll see you at the window."

Then, she says: "And can you call my kids at the house and make sure they are okay?"

Jim and I are speechless.

I really thought she was joking. I looked around for hidden cameras. Jim and I look again at each other. Without pushing his button, so she couldn't hear us, he turns to me: "WHAT?" I stood with my mouth open.

"Sorry ma'am, you'll have to come inside for that." (He said this, when he really should have just said no - we aren't allowed to let customers make personal calls.)

"Will you PLEASE just call my kids?! I need to make sure they are okay!" She was freaking out. And we aren't sure why, because she already ordered a hot chocolate for the babysitter, so she must have had one, and must have been on her way there, or else it would have been a cold chocolate, later on.

Jim repeated what he'd previously told her, and she gave a huff loud enough for us to hear over the speaker, and pulled up in line.

So she gets to the window, and again I was busy so wasn't initially paying attention. Til she started yelling.


And she basically refused to move until we did so.

Our manager comes to the window to try and talk to her. She initially said we can't do that, but eventually relented, becuase by this time we had a line of over 10 cars waiting. People were honking. When she eventually handed the cordless phone through the window to the lady, the lady again shouts: "You do it! You call them!" So our manager calls. 3 days later, the lady drives off.

"OK, we are giving about 6 cars their drinks for free, they have been waiting too long", our manager says.

We do so. And Crazy Lady pulls out of the drive-thru, and right into a parking space in front of the store.

She walks in, and buys a CD, which she tells the girl at the register she's already lost three times. She then adds, rather loudly: "And WHY did the guy behind me get his drink free and I DIDN'T?" Our manager comes up and explains it was because she held up the line. Crazy Lady says this isn't true, and says that they would have been waiting that long anyway. The employees are all watching this while still trying to do our jobs - we were ridiculously busy. She actually did look and sound like she was on drugs of some sort.

Crazy Lady keeps arguging and yelling and demands she gets HER drinks free, too. Eventually, our manager relents, just to get her OUT of the store. She gives her over $15 of drinks free.

The lady goes out to her car, and starts dumping her drinks out on the parking lot (she may have actually thrown her cups out too...I was unclear on that part).

Our supervisor and manager go out to talk to her. Crazy Lady yells something about how they were going to spill all over her car.

She then threatens to run over our manager.

Both manager and supervisor come back in, call the cops, and the lady leaves before they can get there.

I promise you, this is all true.

So we tried to do something about getting her banned from the store, but I guess Crazy Lady called our District Manager and complained about us and we can't do that. I don't know why this means we can't keep abusive and disruptive customers from coming back to our store, but we do what we're told. Apparently, Crazy Lady is a regular, and she's not always that crazy.

I'll believe it when I see it.

So that's Crazy Lady story. Wasn't that nice? I told you it was good.

Do any of you have any Crazy Customer/Co-Worker stories? Now is the time to share.

Til Next Time,

(*Names changes to protect jobs. And stuff.)

Michaela @5:20 AM :: Comment

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I'm still alive...

Just busy. This week was the first week I've been working both jobs - Corporate Coffee* and Big Bookstore*. And today I'm sick with some stomach bug, so I can't stay in this chair all that long...I've remained curled up on the couch most of the day.

But when I get a chance, I'll be back to tell you kids about psycho cracked-out nutter lady who came in for coffee the other day. It was....HYSTERICAL.

And I'll be emailing the many of you that I owe emails to.

:) Michaela

*Not their actual place names of course.

Michaela @5:52 AM :: Comment

"In the city you will find that the poor and the broken are often much, much more open to the idea of Gospel grace and much more dedicated to its practical outworkings than you are." (Tim Keller)

"Always On Your Side" by Sheryl Crow