Monday, February 27, 2006

24 Dreams About 24

Back in the day, I had a boyfriend on the Doulos who used to play video games a lot. He would then have dreams about being in said video games, which included car chases and gunplay and the like. I used to make fun of him for it.

Well, now comes the time that I eat my words.

Bryce and Ashley
now have me totally addicted to 24. In case you were wondering, oh Fans of 24, the reason this hasn’t happened before is because they only show it on satellite TV here in the UK. But B&A have all the seasons on DVD, so it’s quite easy to keep feeding my addiction.

The problem is now that I’m now having nearly constant dreams about 24. I’m a secret agent, etc. I thought maybe I should share some of these with you, in efforts to rid myself of them and cure me of this disease.

Number One (Or, Day One.)

I’m Agent Forbes, a government agent working with the CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit, for those not familiar with the program), Branson, Missouri Branch.

Weird Al Yankovic has been targeted for assassination by a small Amish community in central Iowa, where Yankovic is scheduled to travel on his way from Waterloo to a show at the Baldknobbers Jamboree Ampitheatre in Branson. They are apparently still bitter about that "Amish Paradise" fiasco, and have been planning this for the last 10 years. Those Amish are crazy. And I can say that here, because my intelligence has told me that they will never see this, for some reason.

Tony (who has been reassigned to the Branson Unit from LA) and I take a trip up to Iowa. Intelligence has warned us the Amish may be armed. We travel up I-35 from Kansas City. Intel warns us to be on the lookout for a billboard that says : “DISCOUNT QUILTS: OUR PRICES ART INSANE!” Sure enough, there it is. Tony and I look at each other, with a knowing look, because…well, we know. Things.

Turning right at the Big Red Barn of Yarn, we park in a cornfield, so as not to give away our location. Thankfully, we’ve come prepared with a car painted entirely as a cornfield. CTU is always prepared. We call into the office, and are told in hushed tones to be on a lookout for a black buggy with a large orange triangle on the back. This is unhelpful. We explain to Stupid Mike, one of our office minions, that we’re gonna need more information.

Stupid Mike calls back 5 minutes later with more intel. The buggy we are looking for has a “How’s My Driving?” bumper sticker. The driver is wearing old-timey clothes, and has facial hair. No tattoos or piercings. That’s more like it, Stupid Mike. Now get back to work.

12 minutes later, the Buggy in Question goes past. Tony and I look at each other again, knowingly. There’s no time to makeout, we’ll have to save that for later.

Tony turns the key on the Cornmobile, and within seconds, we’ve cut Old-Timey off. We’ve caught him off guard. Tony and I surround him, and each point three guns at him, just in case he tries to get away. Old-Timey is scared shitless. His hoe and butter churn are no match for six guns. We cuff him, and take him to the cellar of Big Red Barn of Yarn, which has already been set up by our team for interrogation.

I am assigned to interrogation, since I know the Midwestern mindset. Old-Timey is tough, and he ain’t talking. I threaten to make him shave, and he’s squirming in his chair. I then yell that if he doesn’t cooperate, he’ll have to miss the barn-raising this weekend for the Olsen’s down the road. He starts to cry, but still ain’t talking. Finally, I threaten to sew buttons onto all his clothing. I can do it, Old Timey, I can. Because I’m CTU. He finally cracks.

Old-Timey, whose real name is apparently Jebidiah, tells me that the ambush is being led by some guy called Harrison Ford, who goes by John in the Amish Underground. It’s going to happen at 7:02pm, as Weird Al is making his way through the town. I throw a button at Jeb in disgust, and walk out of the interrogation room. There’s not much time.

Tony and I decide it’s best to go undercover. It’s a good thing I brought my bonnet, and remember my Pennsylvania Dutch, from when it took it in school.

We ditch the Cornmobile, and decide to hang out at Ye Olde Shoppe, til it’s closer to 7:02. We call ahead and request full Secret Service security for Weird Al. And no, in case you’re wondering, there was no other route between Waterloo and Branson. If this whole thing doesn’t go down, Weird Al will have to keep looking over his shoulder his entire life. And we don’t want that. National Security is at stake. A little.

At 6:56, Tony and I jump a fence in one smooth and effortless motion to take our positions in the cornfield surrounding Rural Route 11.

Between 6:56-7:01 PM, we take out 692 Amish men with only a pair of sheep shears, a quilt, three hook-and-eye clasps, and some butter. We take 17 women and children into custody, who are later released, having given us information on a suspected Mennonite terrorist branch plotting to bomb Silver Dollar City next month.

Tony and I makeout.

Tony and I call Milo, who sends a chopper from Chopper Command. We make our way back to Branson, stopping only for fireworks and some good cheese in Osceola.

Another day at the office.

*Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock*


Michaela @5:01 PM :: Comment

Saturday, February 25, 2006


I know it's been almost a week without a new post. That's because I've been working a LOT, and when I get home, all I really want to do is watch DVDs of 24 and knit and drink tea. Seriously. Yesterday was a TERRIBLE day at work, so I was happy to go down to the Hays' and drink beer and smoke and knit (and when was the last time you saw THOSE three activities together in one sentence) and watch a stupid stupid quiz show with only ONE question on it for several hours.

THE ANSWER IS 27!!!!!!!

It wasn't all a loss though, since Jonathan did actually win $100 for proposing marriage to a man on national television.

He wrote a poem too.

It was beautiful.

The end.

Michaela @10:10 AM :: Comment

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Pretty Much the Coolest Thing Ever

So last night, after the baby shower and a cigarette (with Jonathan, not Sarah of course), I was invited downstairs for a Belly Touching. It's not unlike, say, a wine tasting, except there is neither wine, nor tasting.

Sarah has previously spoken of her lack of sleep. This is not helped by the fact that as soon as she lays down Baby Girl Hays starts playing Dance Dance Revolution in that lil' place of hers. Since a couple of attempts had proved fruitless in my trying to get Baby to move around so I could feel her (despite Jonathan's continual poking and prodding at Sarah's stomach), I get a promise that this time, I'll be able to feel the baby jump around. (Cue: House of Pain.)

Sure enough, Sarah lays down and the moment she does, baby goes crazy. It was the first time that I can remember being able to feel a baby in the womb. (I remember it happening when my mother was pregnant with my brother, but I don't remember actually feeling him move around at all.) And it's even cooler than you think it is. I'm sure it's several steps down from actually carrying a baby inside, but I'm happy to share in Sarah's baby for the time being.

Did I mention it was amazing? Because it was.

All of us here are getting pretty ready to actually MEET this little girl. I think it also has something to do with the fact that S & J won't tell us her name til she's actually born. Popular choices among our friends seem to be "Consuela Maria" and "Geneva Calvina Sola Gratia", but we're pretty sure they're gonna go with "Viper Quimby". In any case, we're ready to find out that stinkin name, after months of guessing.

In other - related - news....

No matter what Peter might tell you, I'm pretty sure the real reason we broke up was my crochet habit. It may have also been exasperated by the Sudoku, but I blame crochet. So of course, in pure rebellion, I've decided to take up knitting. It's like being a smoker, and unable to quit, so you just go straight for the hard drugs. I've even been told that there's a City Knitting group that meets at City Cafe (a bar) in the evenings. So you take knitting, and add alcohol and cigarettes....well now that just sounds like a marvelous time. Sarah re-taught me (I had sorta learned before) today, while me, her and Jonathan watched Cannibal: The Musical, and Rushmore, both of which are excellent.

I hightly recommend belly touching, knitting, Rushmore, and having friends like Sarah and Jonathan.


Michaela @11:51 PM :: Comment

Last Woman Standing

I’ve come to a recent realization that a very large majority of my friends are married.

I don’t really know how this happened. I mean, I know how it happened….they met people and fell in love and got married. That’s generally how it works. But I mean, how I ended up being friends with them. I suppose I’m not really one to pick friends based on whether they’re single or not. A lot of Christians get married younger I think, too. But here in Scotland, I became good friends with Sarah and Jonathan, who sorta introduced me to Married World. Other friends I've known for years have since gotten married and started having babies.

And I’m largely thankful for it. I think there’s actually great value in being friends with married folks of different sorts before you get married yourself, because it’s helpful to see other relationships, particularly in the early years. And it’s very different from witnessing your parents marriage, of course. Plus, married friends in conversation are a valuable resource – particularly after breakups. I’ve had married friends around for all three of my breakups and they usually have pretty good doses of wisdom.

So I’ve come back to Scotland, and I’m so happy here. As Mark said in one of the comments – it seems like all is right with the world again, somehow. Of course, things are never perfect. But for the first time in half a year, I felt like I could breathe again. And God has blessed me with an immediate job, and a wonderful place to stay where I’m surrounded by friends.

But I hadn’t even THOUGHT about being the only single person around, really. Didn’t cross my mind. And it’s sorta…disconcerting? It’s not at all awkward, that’s not the right word, largely because my married friends are just awesome in general. But, for example, at the (wonderful) baby shower for Sarah today - I was the only single woman there, out of ....ten? or so?....women. And while it doesn't really matter, and doesn't even really come up, you do recognize that you really have no husband or baby stories to share. I don't even have any cat stories (or dog stories) these days!

But if I’m being honest with myself (and with you folks) it’s the first time I’ve sincerely been not content with being single. Like, there have been times before where I’ve thought: Hm, it would be nice to have a boyfriend/husband, but it’s been different somehow. At those points I think the difference was that I had mostly single friends, or just dating friends. And I actually think I make quite a good single person, myself. Now that my friends are married, and many are having children, I feel like I’m about 2 steps behind or something. Like the train was too full for me to get on, so I have to wait for the next one. Except I don’t see any trains coming in on the schedule. And I’m already late for work. That kinda thing. (Though of course I’m really not. I’m only 24.)

I feel horribly greedy, too. It’s not enough for me to be happy to be back and for God to bless me in nearly every way possible. Instead, I have to pick the ONE thing God has chosen not to bless me with for the time being, and complain about THAT thing. My friend Luke chalks this up to the momentum, which I hadn’t thought of. : “Well, you've gotten all these good things so it seems almost natural for them to keep rolling… namely...a man and a relationship.” I hadn’t thought of it that way, but he could be right.

There’s a fine line between recognizing desires in yourself that are good and healthy, and recognizing what is just the sin of discontent. There is, I believe, a sort of “holy discontent” in some areas that can spur you on to moving where God wants you to be, literally or figuratively. I believe that was the case with my being in St Louis. But there’s also a discontent that is really just selfishness, and whining because you can’t get your way.

I firmly believe that the easiest thing to make an idol of, particularly in the Church, is love and marriage. I think this is true for both married and unmarried people. I think that marriage is a really wonderful thing, but I also think it too often becomes the ONLY thing. As a single person, it’s easy to think your issues – particularly of lonliness – will all be solved when you get married. And your issues of love can be solved with marriage and children. We try and be realistic – we shake our heads and make affirming noises when our married friends talk about how difficult it is, and how much they want to tear their hair out when their children are driving them crazy – but deep down, I think many of us are still making an idol out of being loved by another. We may read our Bible and say to ourselves – “Ah yes, it is GOOD for a man not to marry!” (“but I’m not a man!”) and rationalize it, but it’s really hard to fight – especially for girls, I think – against a lifetime of idealizing perfect weddings and marriages.

On a side note, I’ve wondered if this isn’t all made worse by our lack of honesty in the church. I wonder if more people were honest in our church families about the imperfections of their marriages and home lives and struggles, whether we would be more educated and cautious as singles. But that’s just a thought.

The thing is, it’s really a difficult feeling to tackle head-on. You can tell yourself that you should quit being an idiot, and you should quit idolizing and idealizing this image of what you think will make you happy, but as we all know, the head and the heart do not often communicate with each other very well. You can reread all those Bible passages that come to mind about being content and you can think about all your friends – married and unmarried – who have it a lot worse than you. And you can think of all the responsibility and limitations that come with marriage, and try and talk yourself into liking singlehood. And occasionally this works just fine.

But there’s also still a legitimate desire in you – placed there by God – to not remain single. The difficulty is that it is never a thirst that God has promised to slate. Granted, most of the time he does. But there are times he does not. There are no guarantee in this area.

And so I’m left with the realization that I’m quite a messy person, and this journey of faith and this relationship with God is all quite jumbled and broken. Feelings often cannot be trusted anyway, but God also created us with them for very good reason. And in such a situation, I’m left with both a valid, holy desire to want to be married – for, what I believe are holy and good reasons – but also a lot of sin, in the forms of idolatry and selfishness and discontent – and above all, a lack of trust that God knows exactly what he’d doing in my life. And those are very difficult to separate. We are broken – yet remain not only a people created in the image of God, but also a people who have been chosen to be a part of his kingdom, a part of this family, and the receptors of his lavish grace. It’s quite an astounding thought.

Thankfully, that’s okay with God. The sin itself is not okay – but God is also big enough to handle it, and full of compassionate grace. And that grace is truly sufficient, whether or not I’m very good at believing that at the moment.

I praise him too, because this is the closest I’ve felt to God in a long time. And I breathe in his faithfulness – it feels that tangible.

Michaela @1:18 AM :: Comment

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Story

So it’s been requested that I give the “full story” about me moving back to Edinburgh. I’m happy to oblige, though it’s tough to give the “full story” in just a blog post. If you want, I’d be more than happy to take you out for a beer and chat about it. Til then, this will have to do.

I came back to Edinburgh because I felt it was the right thing to do. For a while back in St Louis, I completely hated my life. I really did. I hated everything about it. Not that I hated America – it just didn’t feel like home anymore. I felt really…awkward, like I was somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be. But I wanted to tough it out, largely because I didn’t want to feel like I’d failed or something. Plus, I didn’t want to go back just because it was more “comfortable” here. While God cares deeply for us, I think he’s not generally all that concerned with our comfort levels. Many times – if not most – we are asked to be somewhere that we aren’t all that comfortable with.

Plus, in the beginning, I didn’t really have the option of going back, at least financially speaking.

Time passed, and I saved up some cash. And I was surprised to find I wasn’t quite as miserable anymore. I no longer really hated everything about my life back in St Louis. I found a church I really loved – a church that was passionate about loving people well, and worshipping God in spirit and in truth. Many things still didn’t really “gel”, but my days weren’t miserable.

I think it was when I realized I was no longer miserable, but still felt I should come back, that I took the idea a little more seriously. I didn’t feel like I was just REACTING to life in St Louis, but that I was actively moving more towards where God actually wanted me to be.

That also meant that for a while I was legitimately torn between the two places. Covenant sent me my acceptance letter – I could start my Master of the Arts in Theological Studies at the end of January. At the same time, one of my former profs at ICC told me about the new Masters of Theology – Urban Ministry course starting in April back at Ye Olde Alma Mater. More jobs were opening up in Edinburgh – ones that did not require me to wear an apron, operate a drive-thru headset, or make coffee. Ones that were actually in the same sector as my degree.

I prayed a lot about it. And hard. I was actually EXAUSTED praying about it, and was ready for some answers. I think I was hoping for a billboard or a phone call from God about it. I actually thought how lovely it would be if God could send me the answer in a DREAM. God does that, doesn’t he? Or at least, he used to.

Oddly enough, that same night I did have a dream. I dreamt I’d moved back…and that I was really happy with my decision.

I think oftentimes, such dreams really just give you a better picture about how you feel, and how you would feel, given a certain situation. It was hard to argue with that dream. I tried, but it was getting more difficult.

In the end, I was waiting to see what would happen with my car. At the beginning of January, I finally worked up the guts to tell grandma what happened to the car. Her insurance covered it, totaled it, and paid her more money than I would have ended up paying her for it after all my payments. So it worked out well for everyone.

So I bought a one-way ticket to Edinburgh.

What am I doing now?

Well, I was going to stay with Ruth for a few weeks til I got a place, but it wasn’t ideal – there was no space for me. But I couldn’t look for a flat til I got a job, either. But a couple weeks before I came over, I got an email from Ashley and Bryce, offering me a room in their flat in Stockbridge. Aside from the greatness of living with them, and in Stockbridge, I get Jonathan, Sarah, and Baby Hayes just downstairs, too.

My second day here (a week ago Tuesday), I walked into a Starbucks and got hired on the spot, and I started work on Monday.

Now of course, I really don’t want to stay at Starbucks. But I certainly need money coming in til I get a “real job”. There are 3 or 4 good possibilities in Edinburgh alone for youthwork/public sector jobs that I think I’d really enjoy. I’m applying for the Masters program at ICC, but that’s also contingent on my getting a “ministry” job – the program is designed for folks in full-time ministry of some capacity. So I’ll need that job before April. If it doesn’t work out, that’s okay too, but that’s what I’m hoping for. If you’re the praying type, you can pray for that.

So I think that sums everything up.

Any questions?

Michaela @12:08 AM :: Comment

Monday, February 13, 2006

Number 11

I hand the slip of paper to the cabbie, who was lovely enough to help me with my rather large bags. “Bruntsfield, please”, a phrase uttered to many a cabbie, many times before.

“ Ach, nae bother!” comes the reply.

I sit the back and stare out the window into the grey rain. The cabbie asks me about how long I’ve been away, and where I’ve been and where I’m from. He catches me up on the news since I’ve left, and warns that pubs are banning all smoking in March. “Bus stops too…unless the bus stop is 50% open to the street or more!"

Through Corstorphine, and I can see Murrayfield, the Castle, and Arthur’s Seat in view. Cabbie tells me about his family in New York, his wife’s brother who passed away, but was also in his 50s and a drug addict so that might have caused some problems. He tells me about uncles and cousins and aunts that are “rather large, but she’s a great gal”. Movie posters advertise films I’ve seen 5 months ago and are being released in another month. The chippie on the corner in Merchiston calls my name. Another turn and the great Peckhams shines, alluring me with its single-malt whisky and marinated garlic cloves.

Turn another corner and the red door at number 11 comes into view.

Welcome home.

Did I mention I've moved back to Edinburgh?

Michaela @11:17 AM :: Comment

Monday, February 06, 2006

Adventures in False Advertising

On this, the day after the Super Bowl, the King of Commercials, I believe it is in order to bring to everyone's attention the ridiculousness in some advertising.

Yes, I could easily talk about, say, the Hummer H2 commercial in which the monster and the robot, both of whom are attacking a city, meet eyes and fall madly in love, and then the monster gives birth to....a Hummer. But that one would be too easy. We all know monsters and robots stick to their own kind.

I could also bring up those scary Burger King commercials, which finds the Burger King logging, playing football, and watching a man while he sleeps. (The last one is the scariest by far. They're all frightening, but that one gives me the HEEBIE JEEBIES.) Because of course, we also know that the Burger King is too busy watching over his Kingdom of a Billion Calories to take up logging as a hobby. Or, people-watching for that matter.

The one that REALLY bothers me is by Kay Jewelers.

For years and years - as long as I can remember - their tagline has been:

Every Kiss Begins With Kay.

The latest version has an older married couple watching a younger couple at a restaurant. They comment on the fact it must be their first Valentines Day, but to me, there's nothing about the younger couple that would indicate this. It could easily be their 2nd, or even 3rd Valentines Day together. Young Dude gives Young Chick a Kay Jewelers box, and she opens it to find diamond earrings. (Another thing that bothers me - as if any couple in their first year of marriage can really afford $1000 diamond earrings. I'd tell him to take them back so we could actually pay the electric bill next month. But maybe that's just me being pessimistic.) Older couple reminisce about their "first Valentines Day", which "doesn't feel like that long ago". Older man - who must somehow be in cahoots with younger man, because they had the same idea - ALSO provides a Kay Jewelers box at this time.

Cut to younger couple kissing.

Cue sing-songy line: "Every Kiss Begins With Kay."

Now, I've kissed my fair share of folks. None of them began with Kay. None of them were even NAMED Kay. (The only way in which this line is true of course - if you're actually named Kay. Or you are kissing Kay.)

I've had kisses begin with a lot of things. When I was a kid, they often began with me falling off my bike or just plain falling down - again - and crying and all that. Mom kisses it and makes it better.

There were no diamonds involved in that scenario. My kiss began with pebbles stuck in my bleeding knee.

Kisses have begun with Caesar Salads, laughter, or just plain having not much else to do. See, kisses can begin with a LOT of things.

I think if any industry could maybe borrow this line, it's the alcohol industry. THAT one is probably the most true.

"75% of Kisses Begin with Budweiser"

"A Fair Amount of Kisses Begin with Vodka"

"Some Kisses May Be Caused By Jack Daniels"

See, those make sense. Those aren't lies.

What's it gonna take to get some truth in advertising around this place?

Please, for the sake of the children, write your congressmen, congresswomen, State representatives, MPs, President, Prime Minister, Pastors, and Kay Jewelers, and plead for the honor of truth.

Thank you and goodnight.


**P.S. I shall be taking a small hiatus from blogging for a few days. About a week maybe. I'm sure you'll be fine. See you then.**

Michaela @9:38 AM :: Comment

Friday, February 03, 2006

Well, I knew my day would come.

You've all seen this thing making its venomous way around the internet. Tim sneezed it on over to me, and I now spread the love. Listen and Learn. Or something.

Four jobs I've had:

1. Library Aide at Mid-continent Public Library, Missouri
2. Barista at Starbucks (Fine, I'll admit it now.), Missouri
3. Missionary in Asia and Africa on the MV Doulos
4. Youthwork Coordinator for Penicuik Churches Youth Project, Scotland

Four movies I could watch over and over:

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2: Garden State
3: Anne Hall
4: Zoolander

Four places that I've lived:

1. Kansas City, Missouri
2. East Lansing, Michigan
3: Edinburgh, Scotland
4. St. Louis, Missouri

Four TV shows that I love:

1. Lost!
2. Scrubs
3. Arrested Development
4. CSI

Four places I've vacationed:

1. Walt Disney World, FL
2: Scottish Highlands
3: Branson, Missouri
4: California

Four of my favorite dishes:

1. Bacon, Egg and Brown Sauce Sandwiches
2: Mom's candied yams
3: Dressing (the turkey kind)
4: Cheese Enchiladas

Four sites I visit daily:
2. First Floor Flat
3. Yahoo
4.Get Fuzzy

Four places I would rather be right now:

1: Edinburgh
2. London
3. Amsterdam
4. Prauge

So there it is. I don't know who has been tagged and who hasn't, so I'll just go ahead and pick...

1. Bryce and/or Ashley
2. Neil
3. Jonathan and/or Sarah
4. Chrissy

Speaking of Australians, Yahoo! News posted Australian news under their "Asia" category.
What do you Aussies think about that?

Michaela @5:55 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