So my sister Molly over at Songs of Moses challenged me to this chain-letter-blog-thingie, and I thought it would be fun. But first, I feel like I must explain why I have abandoned this blog for a year and a half. So here are, in order of importance, the 52 Reasons I Don’t Write Updates:

1-52. I’m writing a book.

Yep. As fun as Pumpkins Don’t Have Ankles is, I only have so much writing energy each week, and I decided it’s far more important to work on the book than on the blog.

That’s all.

However, I decided to break this intentional fast to answer this fun chainmail thingie. So here goes:

First, 11 random things about me:

 

  1. I love hot tea. A lot. If Planet Earth ran out of tea, I would leave.
  2.  

  3. In 2012, I got a new job, bought my first home, moved into said first home, transitioned to a new church, got a new nephew (yay Baby Lloyd!), made a bunch of new friends and have kind of a refreshed outlook on life. It was an exciting but busy year. So far in 2013, I have changed my oil.
  4.  

  5. I work as a writer for a web company called DTS. We make websites for small- to mid-size companies. I often blog for chiropractors.
  6.  

  7. I have a cat named T.S. Eliot. I think that is the most brilliant name for a cat. I was so pleased with myself for picking that out that even when the vet told me my cat was actually a girl, I still kept the name.
  8.  

  9. I have never been on a roller coaster.
  10.  

  11. My home decor features a lot of clocks. Big clocks, rusty clocks, clocks with maps on them. There are 7 in my downstairs area alone. And if every single one of my clocks was at the wrong time, I might not notice for days.
  12.  

  13. I also like old maps, candles, old books, and vintage records. My living room is filled with these things too.
  14.  

  15. I love pine-scented candles and burn them all year round, not just Christmas.
  16.  

  17. I love audiobooks. If it weren’t for audiobooks, I wouldn’t read much at all anymore, sad to say.  In the past few years, I’ve listened to everything from Anna Karenina to Freakonomics and I’m currently on Harry Potter book 6.
  18.  

  19. I am slightly obsessed with Papa John’s mushroom pizza. OK, a lot obsessed.
  20.  

  21. Stars on a clear, cold night are one of my favorite things ever. They remind me how powerful and eternal the Creator is, and make me happy to be alive.

 

Next, answering the questions Molly posed:

 

1. Do you believe in the Oxford Comma?

I am a staunch Oxford Comma Relativist. This is because when I was getting my Master’s in English, the Oxford Comma was required because we used MLA and Chicago Manual of Style. But then I worked for 5 years at a job in which we used AP (news media) style, which dictates against Oxford Commas for simplicity’s sake. Each style has its set of reasons for employing/not employing it, so I’m pretty open-minded. The only time I ever care about the Oxford Comma debate is when people are getting really worked up over it as though this is a Huge Life Issue.

2. If you had to paint everything in your house one color, what color would it be?

So like walls, floors, chairs, beds, dressers, dishes, houseguests, etc.? Well, if I painted everything black, I would never be able to find anything, so black is out. Everything being white would be a bit better, but I would probably get headaches. Also, dirt. So no white.

For sheer practicality, I would select a gentle boring neutral shade, like sandy beige. Or pale green. Or Caribbean Taupe. But overall, I think the one-color thing is probably a bad idea.

3. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Is that what you became?

A writer, and yes! (Well, I also wanted to be a professional puppeteer, a chemist, a marine biologist, and the person who rides on the back of Shamu at SeaWorld. But for some reason none of those panned out.)

4. Which hobbit is your favorite hobbit?

Bilbo. He’s endearingly clueless at first, but later steps up to the challenge.

5. At a restaurant, are you the person who always orders the same thing, or do you try something new each time?

I usually try to branch out, unless I’m at particular restaurants. The guy at Moe’s now knows my order before I step up to the counter. True story.

6. If you had to choose between living in an underwater bubble dome or in a moon colony, which would you choose?

Both would offer distinct advantages, but I’d go with the underwater bubble dome. It would be easier to make that Jules-Verne-Steampunky, plus I’d like to see tropical fish swimming outside my window. If they invent Space Fish, I’ll reconsider.

7. How often do you do laundry? Are you a once-a-weeker, daily loader, or when-I-run-out-of-clean-clothes type?

When I run out of socks.

8. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it be? Why?

I’d like to go back to England. In the grocery stores, tea comes in boxes the size of small trunks.

9. If you had a lightsaber, what color would it be?

Puce. Obviously.

10. Do you believe cake is a breakfast food? Defend your answer.

Cake is an even better breakfast food than cold pizza. And I live by myself so I don’t have to defend my breakfast choices to anyone.

11. In your dystopian future, which would you rather face: zombies or vampires?

Gnomes.

 

The Power of W

Posted July 18th, 2011 by witherow

I’ve come to believe that one of the most versatile letters in the English alphabet is the w. My sister Becky and I have discovered that it’s possible to have an entire conversation (albeit a bizarre one) with every single word–even conjunctions–beginning with that letter.

For example:

ME

while we wait, weary wanderers wallop worried wombats. wallop! wallop!

BECKY

whoa whoa whoa–what? we wouldn’t want worried wombats walloped!

ME

whacking will work

BECKY

we will weep with walloped wombats. wait, wanderer. wait.

ME

wail, wombats, wail

BECKY

WHY? we won’t wallop wombats. who would?

ME

Weary Wanderer Wendoline. with Wee Willie Winkie.

{All right, a side note. My sisters and I find that the nursery rhyme character of Wee Willie Winkie quite creepy. I mean, seriously? Why is he running up and down all the stairs in the town? Why is he wearing a nightgown? Why is he tapping at the windows?! So, anyway, the subject of Wee Willie Winkie brought up this second conversation.}

ME

< whispering > wee willie winkie???

BECKY

While we weep, we wonder why wakeful Wee Willy Winkie wanders where we wouldn’t want.

ME

well, Wee Willie Winkie will wish we weren’t wandering with wild warrior walruses!

BECKY

Well, we wouldn’t want wild warrior walruses where we’ll wander. What wash! Why, we will waltz with warm wallabies.

ME

Waltzing with warm wallabies? Weird.

BECKY

Why wouldn’t we want waltzing wallabies? What’s wrong?

ME

Wednesday’s waltzing weevils were wonderful, whereas Wanda’s warm wallabies were worrisome–whispering with Wee Willie Winkie.

 

Oh and as another side note, Becky got engaged last week. The name of her fiance? Wee– Just kidding, his name is Brandon.

:)

A Quick Guide to Velociraptor Safety

Posted June 15th, 2011 by witherow

June is National Velociraptor Awareness Month. Now, I may not be a velociraptorologist, but I do have an armchair paranoia of them. Tragically, most people in this nation are completely unprepared for an encounter with this extremely cunning and deadly dinosaur.

Part of the problem is that most people think velociraptors are not a threat simply because they are extinct. How very naïve.

First of all, velociraptors are scary even when they’re dead (see figure A of a scary dead velociraptor):

credit Ben Townsend, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Velociraptor_Wyoming_Dinosaur_Center.jpg

Fig. A--still scary

Secondly, as anyone who spends any time watching science fiction knows, extinct is not forever. If my vague, pop-culture understanding of DNA science serves me right, there’s an 89% chance that there’s a test tube filled with velociraptor DNA at the nearest scientific research lab, just waiting to be implanted in the nearest chicken egg.

The average American also is pretty fuzzy on their velociraptor facts. For example, here are some commonly believed myths:

  • Velociraptors are 6 feet tall. Actually, these dinosaurs only reach about 2 to 3 feet. But lest you be tempted to feel relief, consider that ravenous wolves are also less than 3 feet. Man-eating anacondas are only like 8 inches tall. Also keep in mind that velociraptors hunt in packs and can attain speeds of 40 miles an hour. Don’t let the size deceive you. In figure B, notice how the unsuspecting blue human is lulled into complacency by the velociraptor’s seemingly innocuous height, waving cheerfully while the velociraptor contemplates devouring him shin-first.

    credit Matt Martyniuk,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vraptor_Scale.svg

    Fig. B--about to lose a leg

  • Velociraptors have scaly skin. Actually, paleontologists have uncovered evidence of quill-knobs on velociraptor skeletons, indicating that they had feathers. This does not make it less scary—rather, it increases the creepiness factor fourfold. Imagine being approached by something that looks like a flock of harmless turkeys, only to discover they are high-speed, you-eating machines.
  • Velociraptors are not intelligent enough to problem solve, e.g., they can’t figure out how to open doors. Please note that the door-opening theory HAS NEVER BEEN DISPROVEN.

Perhaps you, like me, consider not being devoured by dinosaurs an important part of life. If so, here are some basic guidelines for interacting with velociraptors:

  • Don’t do it. Seriously, don’t.
  • Don’t accept free vacations to remote islands belonging to eccentric millionaires with questionable stands on bioethics.
  • Do not attempt to breed velociraptors or steal their eggs. Remember, these eggs do, in fact, contain baby velociraptors. There’s a good chance that they will burst forth from their shells and devour you as their first official act of life.

 

If you are in the unfortunate position of being hunted by a pack of velociraptors, be especially cautious in your evasive maneuvers:

  • Don’t lock yourself in the nearest windowless closet or bathroom. They can probably pick the locks.
  • Jumping into a car and driving away is better … unless they figure out how to down a tree to block the road ahead. Or hijack a bigger, faster car.
  • Running to a museum, bank or military base equipped with the most advanced security system yet developed is probably your best bet. Just be careful as you type in entry passcodes; the velociraptors are probably watching. Don’t even rehearse the combinations in your mind, as they may be psychic and able to read your thoughts. This may seem far-fetched, but remember that this has also never been disproven.

I hope this brief guide has been helpful to you. If you know anyone who is not yet sufficiently paranoid of velociraptors, be sure to pass this information on. You just might save a life.

Ad writers HATE me for revealing this weird secret!

Posted May 8th, 2011 by witherow

 

There is a certain segment of American society whose spirit is irrepressible—constantly adapting, pushing forward into the future with indefatigable enthusiasm and stick-to-itiveness that is well-nigh inspiring.

I am, of course, referring to people who make tacky advertisements.

Think about it. The same commercial pioneers that have no shame in plastering billboards and direct mail pieces with retina-burning reds and yellows, maybe throwing in a “Limited time only!” starburst or two, have moved into the digital age must faster than we ever wanted them to. You can’t check the weather or the news without seeing their snake-oil peddling handiwork.

And just in case you were tempted to ignore the ads along the side of your browser, the ads now ambush your vision with weird pictures and strange animations. Sometimes these images are related to the product they are trying to sell you (such as the embarrassing drawings of fat people in bikinis suddenly slimming down) and sometimes they just throw in a picture of an alien dancing—anything to get you look.

Of course, nearly everything they try to sell you is fishy. These ad writers want you to think we live in a world where we can earn $2586 a month sitting at our computers, magically erase wrinkles for only $5, and not have to pay car insurance. I mean, do people actually believe that a strange African fruit burns 12.3 pounds of fat every 28 days? Who came up with that 12.3 number? Would you actually want to eat something that melts parts of your body off when it’s common knowledge that it’s actually exercise that burns fat? Is the fruit made of acid???

But I speak as though these ad writers were actually people. I have increasingly become convinced that they are not—that these ads are written by computer generators that randomly mix together well-established yet meaningless ad phrases.

Think about it. A mom from your area has always discovered it. Some professional will always hate her for learning the secret. It always uses one {old/simple/weird} {tip/rule/trick} that you must “obey” in order to get your cartoon muffin top to shrink in only three frames. And it is always “shocking.” Seriously, should tooth whitening or work at home jobs ever be shocking?

The logical inconsistencies of some of these combinations point to the fact that there is no intelligent human life behind these ads. For example:

  • “Obey this one trick to get extremely cheap rates.” How do you obey a trick?
  • “Find out how a Greenville mom combined 2 products and saw her wrinkles melt away instantly.” Sure—if one of those products is Drain-o.
  • “Murder yellow teeth.” Wow. Just, wow.

And the best one I’ve seen:

  • South Carolina: Is it a scam? We investigated and what we found may shock you!

Hahaha, you forgot the subject, silly computer generator. Unless the whole state of South Carolina doesn’t exist and is merely a scam. That might be shocking.

Using punctuation right!!!!!!!!!

Posted March 15th, 2011 by witherow

I have a confession to make. When I receive emails, read comments on news stories or even just check Facebook, I judge people by their use (or, in many cases, abuse) of punctuation.

For example, back when people on Facebook joined “groups” (you remember “groups,” right? You and a bunch of people you probably didn’t know would join a Facebook “group” and–well, you didn’t really do anything, you were just part of the “group” and you felt like you belonged. Maybe they still exist, but I haven’t heard much about them since. This was also back in the day when you became a “fan” of a company instead of just “liking” them. Being a “fan” requires more commitment, I think. But alas, I digress.), I wanted to join a group for people who like Braille. The best one I could find was called “I love Braille!!!!!!” — and I almost didn’t join for no fact other than their disgraceful abuse of exclamation points in their name. True story.

It’s sad, but I can’t help it. Exclamation marks aren’t like sprinkles on top of ice cream, where the more sprinkles there are the better it gets. On the contrary, an exclamation mark is meant to be a single, dramatic statement, like one of those maraschino cherries perfectly placed atop a cloud of whipped cream. If you put six maraschino cherries on top of your sundae, you will a). have an ugly sundae, b). look like you have no control over your fine motor skills and c). probably get some sort of weird cancer from eating all those preservatives and artificial dyes. The same fate, I’m sure, awaits all those who insist on abusing our dear friend the exclamation mark.

Here’s a quick guide to what the different levels of abuse of the exclamation mark mean on a deeper, psychological level:

  • !         I am excited and/or making an emphatic point (please note this is the proper use)
  • !!        I am very excited (acceptable in some contexts)
  • !!!       I need to switch to decaf
  • !!!!      I can’t write compelling statements and I’m hoping the punctuation will make up for it
  • !!!!!     I just can’t control my emotions
  • !!!!!!    There goes that pesky finger twitch again
  • !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!        I spam you

Even more inexplicable than this abuse is the repetition of question marks. I can understand how people might get overly excited, but overly questioning? Here’s the guide to question marks:

  • ?        I am asking a question (proper use)
  • ??      I am emotionally invested in your answer to this question (marginally acceptable in some informal contexts)
  • ???       I’m questioning whether the question I just asked is a question. I think?
  • ????      I think these are exclamation points
  • ?????    I attack you with an insult thinly veiled as a question. No answer is required, as I will not consider your point of view anyway.
  • ??????????????      Isn’t sharing sensitive financial information the least you can do for a poor dying lady willing to transfer her Nigerian wealth into your bank account?

 

But seriously–Atlas Shrugged

Posted March 5th, 2011 by witherow

OK, so now that I’ve finished Atas Shrugged, some of my friends have asked what it’s about and whether it’s worth reading. I’m posting my thoughts here for anyone who’s curious. Please remember this was an enormous novel and there is no way I can cover all parts of it, so I’m going for the highlights.

THE GIST

See previous post.  😉

Basically the book takes place in a 1940s-esque dystopia where every country on Earth except the U.S. has become a socialistic People’s State. America, however, is not far behind, seeing as popular sentiment views the rich, productive factory owners as selfish and greedy parasites who should be giving their money to all the unskilled, unmotivated people in the world who “never had a chance”—mostly because they never tried. Then the government passes laws with dumb names like the Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule that essentially force productive companies to give their profits and business to less productive companies—less productive because their owners are too busy schmoozing in Washington to actually do their jobs—all in the name of fairness. Then—surprise!—the economy starts to crumble.

Then one by one, all of the productive geniuses in the world start to disappear. Now the leeches can only leech off on another, and the entire world slowly collapses.

THE GOOD

Overall, I enjoyed the read (except for the 70-page speech near the end; alas). The novel has interesting characters, a good deal of plot twists, mystery and suspense, and some great science fiction stuff (Project X! Run away!!).

And wow, Rand can really write a good dystopia. She makes it almost fun to watch the world fall apart, because the psychology of it is so fascinating. (What? These people aren’t really willing to send 300 train passengers to their deaths just to avoid responsibility. No, they couldn’t. Wait a minute, I think they are! Oh my word!)

In terms of writing style, Rand’s description of characters is so brilliant at times. One of my favorite lines: “Lester Tuck, his campaign manager, was a small, aging man with a face that looked as if it had once been punched in and had never rebounded. He was an attorney who, some generations earlier, would have represented shoplifters and people who stage accidents on the premises of rich corporations; now he found that he could do better by representing men like Kip Chalmers.” I mean, that kind of writing is stinking genius!

While I disagree with Rand’s moral philosophy (more on that later), I’m somewhat sympathetic to some (not all) of her political and economic views. For example, part 2, chapter 10 contains one of the best descriptions I’ve seen of why socialism on a basic level won’t work—showing how the “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” will make previously nice people want to punch old ladies.

On an interesting side note, this book played a role in the formation of the Libertarian party here in the U.S.

THE BAD

Caution: this book contains sex and long speeches. Sections containing these elements, especially the latter, give way too much info.

The philosophy of the book (shamelessly dumped on the reader in long, action-stopping monologues) can be summed up in this statement: “I pledge by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” Thus Rand promotes a “rational selfishness” that requires every person to think of himself and his desires before anyone else, and sees every interaction between human beings as a trade. If asking for a product without paying for it is bad, Rand reasons, then expecting love or faithfulness without paying for it is bad too.

Of course, as a Christian, my worldview is based on unmerited grace, with a worthy Man sacrificing everything for those who were not worthy of love. So in the interest of full disclosure, I’m at odds with Rand even before we start.

But I think that the application of her philosophy breaks down within her own novel. While Rand does a fantastic job of creating dystopia, her utopia rings hollow to me. When a bunch of unapologetically selfish people live together, all selfishly pursuing their own desires, she claims they will somehow never squabble but all live harmoniously together.

Apparently Rand never visited a daycare.

OK, OK. Rand devotees may point out that all of these selfish people are rational selfish people, as though that rationality ensures that no one will actually be evil. But I still don’t see how everyone pursuing their own desires automatically translates to social order and harmony.

To me the logical breakdown is especially obvious in her philosophy of sex. Without giving too much of the story away, I’ll just say the book includes a love square. Not a love triangle, a square: one woman, three men. And the woman realizes: it doesn’t matter what your previous lover has done for you or how he feels, you need to follow your lust because it is always right. This leads to conversations that go something like the following:

Lover #2: “Madam, my love for you is the most important thing that ever happened to me. I gave up everything for you, which in retrospect wasn’t a good idea because sacrifice is bad, but still you are my entire reason for existence. I realize you’ve fallen in love with some other man now and will leave me for him, but I’m OK with that and won’t ask questions. I’m still just as happy as ever. I’ll even help you two get together—no hard feelings.”

Woman: “This is exactly what I wanted you to say. How terribly convenient! You’ve been a peach. Ta-ta.”

Really? Really? But in Rand’s magical selfish valley, it works—because the author wants it to work. The book’s heroes insist that we must always view everything in light of true Reality, but it seems that there’s a good deal of fantasy holding the plot together.

And so …

So do I recommend the book? It depends. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys reading without thinking and you just absorb whatever the author says without question, then don’t read Atlas Shrugged. In fact, don’t read anything at all, not even cereal boxes.

I enjoyed the read and honestly do feel smarter having read it.  The whole thing was a giant mental exercise, where I had to spar with Rand on every point and examine every premise she threw at me. I’d recommend Atlas Shrugged if you’re up to the challenge of not only tackling the giant book (it’s over a thousand pages long), but stopping and re-examining and countering every philosophical assertion it contains—but you should be doing with every book anyway.

So there we go. An enormous blog post about an enormous book. Whew! I’m going to go take a nap.

Atlas Shrugged in 60 seconds

Posted February 16th, 2011 by witherow

I just finished reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Actually, I listened to the unabridged audio book in the car. The novel took up 45 CDs. When I went to return it to the library, the case was so fat that it wouldn’t fit into any of the outdoor the book drop slots. True story.

I am now so conceited in my own eggheadedness for actually completing the book I feel like I deserve some sort of Egghead Award, maybe like a medal or a trophy with a figure of a Greek god holding up a giant book, or even just a bumper sticker that says “Who is John Galt?” so I can have the smug satisfaction of knowing that only about one in 800 people will understand the obscure reference.

In all seriousness, the novel is a fascinating and complex story about economics and philosophy and trains and people in fedoras. A few of my friends have asked what it’s about and whether it’s worth reading. I’m still gathering my thoughts on it and hope to post a more serious overview and personal evaluation of it within the next few weeks.

In the meantime, here’s a 60-second summary.

I’ve modeled it after the brilliant “ultra-condensed versions” found on the Book-a-Minute website. What’s that, you say? You’ve never heard of the Book-a-Minute website? <<GASP>> Then by all means, go there. Go now. But only if you are in a place where you can spend an hour or more laughing obnoxiously loudly. And only if you promise to come back to this post when you’re done.

I’ll wait.

… waiting …

Are you back now? Great. Wasn’t I right?

Anywho, here is my stab at a Book-a-Minute summary:

ATLAS SHRUGGED, by Ayn Rand

THE MASSES
We are incompetent losers, so therefore we will guilt the productive rich into feeding us for free.

SPINELESS POLITICIANS
Great! Plus let’s call them greedy and punish them for producing the stuff that keeps the rest of us alive! That’ll show them!

SUPERHUMAN CLASS OF PRODUCERS
We don’t care if everyone hates us, we will support the world anyway.

JOHN GALT
Just say no.

Producers disappear one by one. Trains crash. People starve. The world falls to shambles. Politicians with creepy names like Kip Chalmers and Wesley Mouch make everything worse.

JOHN GALT:
I will now give a 70-page speech to the nation. Be selfish, everyone. Never give anything to anyone for free, not even love. Then the world will be a harmonious place.

THE MASSES
We believe you, John Galt!

The Masses perish anyway.

SUPERHUMAN PRODUCERS
Once nearly everyone’s dead, we’ll come back and take over.

They all live happily ever after (except, of course, for the masses of dead people, who probably deserved it somehow)

THE END. FINALLY.

A moonbeam to charm you

Posted February 10th, 2011 by witherow

I’ve had Ireland on my mind these past few weeks … partly because I’m hoping to go to Ireland and England with my mother this coming fall. (Excuse me as I squeal in delight: eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!) In honor of this squeal-worthy occasion, here’s a collection of Irish sayings I’ve recently discovered.

I’ll start with one of my favorite Irish blessings … not the traditional “may the road rise to meet you,” but something delightfully more mischievous:

May those that love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles
So we will know them by their limping.

That image makes me so happy inside it’s worrisome.

In a somewhat similar vein, here’s a really odd Irish curse:

May the cat eat you, and may the cat be eaten by the devil.

I’m guessing that’s especially bad luck? Still scratching my head over that one.

Some insightful Irish proverbs:

A friend’s eye is a good mirror.

Everyone is sociable until a cow invades his garden.

He who gets a name for early rising can stay in bed until midday.

God’s help is nearer than the door.

Where the stream is shallowest, it is noisiest.

Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.

For this next one, I’m not sure if it’s exactly a proverb. The words are featured in The Secret of Kells, an odd but beautiful little film about medieval Ireland. In it, the character Aisling (ASH-ling) sings a haunting song, partially in English and part in Irish. (You can watch the video here … it’s quite lovely.) The Irish lyrics (with approximate pronunciation) are:

Nil sa saol seo ach ceo, is ni bheimid beo, ach seal beag gearr
(NEEl sah se-ahl SHA-ah kue-ooh, IS ni bemi BYU-oo, AK shall bee-ah gyar)

The rough translation I found for it was this:

There is nothing in this life/world but mist
And we will only be alive
for a short time.

This really has resonated with me this past month as I’ve reflected on how much just my own family has changed in the past 10 years—who’s been added, who’s been lost, where each of us was then and where we all are now. Life truly is a vapor, and it’s good to remember its brevity and number our days.

Finally, here are some other very lovely Irish blessings I found:

A sunbeam to warm you,
A moonbeam to charm you,
A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.

May you have warm words on a cool evening,
a full moon on a dark night,
and a smooth road all the way to your door.

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.

The Little Apartment That Isn’t Selfish

Posted February 2nd, 2011 by witherow

Well, I’m back.

I know it’s been a long time. Well, a long time in blog-years. Only two months in real time. And I admit my posts have been few and far between since last January. Part of the reason for this is that my life has changed a lot this past year, and I’ve been trying to make sense of it.

In May, a good number of my remaining friends moved away—an event that actually sent me into the closest thing to depression I’ve ever experienced. In June the rest of my family moved into the next town or farther—meaning I still get to visit them a lot, but I don’t see them as regularly. And in August, just after I had assured my Good Friend Heather East that I could never handle living alone, my roommates announced, within two weeks of each other, that they were both moving out.

These events combined, as small as they were, shook my world. It turns out that I’d measured my own value based on how much I could serve others. There was no point in going out unless I could minister to a friend in the process. There was no point in cooking a meal or decorating a living space unless there was someone else there to enjoy it. I thought if I ended up all by myself—a fear that had a larger grip on me than I’d realized—that I would life a pointless, lonely and selfish existence.

So God sent me to live by myself for a while.

I didn’t ask for it to happen. But He directed dozens of little unlikely circumstances to give me a beautiful one-person apartment, nicer than I should be able to afford, overlooking not a crowded parking lot but a little creek running through the woods.

I was flabbergasted. Why all this bother for just me? If there’s no one to share it with, what was the point? If I was spending so much more time alone, wouldn’t that just make me a self-absorbed woman living in a selfish little apartment?

But His hand was so clearly in the whole situation that I had to realize that He wanted me to live here. Alone. Because He loves me.

If I’m understanding right, He’s teaching me my worth is not based in how much I serve others. Don’t get me wrong—serving other people is a vital part of the calling of a Christian, and I still stay involved with church and with my friends and family. But when I go home, it’s just me here. And He’s showing me that I can put up clocks and do the dishes and cook meals for no one’s sake but my own, and there is still value to it. Because my value doesn’t lie in how much I do for others.

My value lies in that I am a person whom God loves.

The truth of that still hasn’t sunk in all the way, and I’m not sure it ever will.

I’ve been living here by myself for four months now. And the loneliness I feared would overtake me and crush me hasn’t come. I think the whole time I’ve been here, I’ve only felt the briefest twinge of loneliness two times, if that. No exaggeration. That has to be a gift from God.

I’m just too busy enjoying life here—doing quiet little things like organizing my closet, making applesauce, playing music, keeping budgets, writing, and knowing there is value to it all—because He gives it value. He gives me value.

I know this hasn’t been the typical post for PumpkinAnkles. But I think it’s time I expanded the kinds of things I write about on here. Panic not, I’m not abandoning humor writing altogether. :) There will always be things to laugh about in life. I’m just hoping to also explore that other side of life’s joys—the quieter, more serious joys.

Are you ready to explore them with me?

Emo poems don’t have ankles

Posted December 1st, 2010 by witherow

I wrote this poem today. It’s based on a true story, a true story of tornado warnings and me hiding in my downstairs closet with only a jar of peanut butter for sustenance while listening to the weather radio. While I was down there, listening to the radio and the pounding rain and the wind, did I ever once think about my poor pumpkins that were getting soaked? No, no I did not.

I’d like to dedicate this poem to neglected gourds everywhere:

Fall pumpkins, old pumpkins, pumpkins in the rain
Left out in the rain with a tornado on the way.
Wet pumpkins, sad pumpkins, a late November rain
No one cares about a pumpkin when it’s Christmastime again.

If anyone would like to suggest a way to put this to music, I’d be much obliged. I think it would be a great little song to have on hand at holiday parties when there is an awkward lull.

And please don’t feel guilty about the fall produce that you’ve either thrown out or otherwise left to a lengthy demise. After all, pumpkins don’t have feelings.

<<sniff>>