Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The "Get out of Dodge" button

- This post was somewhat inspired by this post. I promise Kelsey isn't paying me to advertise her blog. -

Somewhere in Kansas...
When I was a kid, my parents made sure that I knew ANYTIME I was at a friends' house and felt unsafe, I could call them and they would come get me. No matter what time. No matter where I was.

In recent years, I've started to imagine this concept as the "get out of Dodge" button. Why? Who knows... I think its a good life boundary though. If you start to feel unsafe or start getting that sixth sense about something, there is almost always a way out. A reset. People will help you.

When I lived in Spain, I experienced life very strongly. There were times I giggled with glee just to be walking down the street and see palm trees. And I had my first anxiety attack. I always knew though, that if things got to be too much for me to handle, I could press the "Get out of Dodge" button and come home. Right then and there.

Another time, I wanted to press the button, to call home and ask for help. It was the closest I've ever been to being kidnapped and living the movie Taken. (Hm. Wanna hear that story? It has a happy ending, obviously...) But I was in France. There was no "Get out of Dodge" button. There were no people, just me and the man I was trying to avoid. It was one in the morning. I was at a Metro stop in Paris with no directions to my hotel and no taxis. And no phone. It worked out.

Today, I pressed a sort of "Get out of Dodge" button in one area of my life. I was immediately relieved. And excited. And filled with anticipation...

Monday, July 21, 2014

I don't even know her name.

"I like your outfit! Those greens look really cute together."

Not the first words I was expecting to hear out of the cashier at McDonald's. After much deliberation about how counter-intuitive it seemed to stop for a McDonald's milkshake after doing yoga for two straight days, I did it. I pulled off I-29 and parked, so I could stretch my legs while ordering my McShake.

"Thank you!" I said, surprised and touched. "I wasn't expecting it to go well together, but then I was surprised."

"Yeah, it looks really good!" she said with the sweetest smile. "Well, I can take your order. I mean, whenever you're ready."

"Thank you, but I'm not ready yet. I'm trying to decide which ice cream I want." Dipped cones? I didn't know McDonald's had dipped cones!

"I really like to get the sundae, then put the apple pie in it. Hot and cold in every bite!" This girl was genius! Too bad the pie wasn't gluten free...

I finally decided on the milkshake. She mentioned, "Sometimes, I wonder how our prices compare to other McDonald's around the country. You know, like are we cheaper?" The way she said it made me wonder if she'd been out of her small town. I suddenly felt self-conscious. I didn't want to say anything to make me sound like some crazy world traveler. Instead I mentioned Chicago, and how the McDonald's I went to there didn't have a dollar menu, so I was pretty sure she was right on target.

There was just something about her ease, her honest friendliness. I wanted to stay and talk to her for hours, she reminded me of a little sister. It was so genuine and refreshing. I searched for a name on her shirt, but saw none.

As I climbed back in my car, I felt different somehow, more full. What a great interaction, I thought. The milkshake was a small price to pay for a few minutes of rare connection with a stranger. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014


This Sunday morning finds me in the guest bedroom of my awesome friend and former roommate's home in Nebraska. I happen to love Nebraska. And I also love Steph.

Oh, college. Oh late night study sessions
I really love all my yoga teacher training classmates here. On training weekends, we get immersed in so many different aspects of yoga. One of our teachers is the best storyteller. I think we could all spend the whole weekend sitting around a campfire, singing and listening to her tell stories.

Yesterday, we practiced leading different sections of a yoga class - but we didn't know what section we were going to lead until it happened. As I walked to the teaching mat, I walked verrrry slowly and mindfully so that I could remember what happened in my section. (Phew, I remembered - high lunge > warrior 3 > standing splits)

We also played fun games cueing poses - I think the one we played yesterday was called "Dave's blind cueing" or something. If Caleb were here, I would probably have a hard time going back home tonight. I just want these weekends to go on forever!

Off to take in a full day of learning....

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

the truth about graduation

This afternoon, I hung out with some five year olds. And not just any five year olds.

These were five year olds who were graduating from preschool. Tonight. Actually, they are probably graduates now.

Since I am not around large groups of five year olds nearly often enough, I decided to really dive in. I answered questions about why I cannot see without my glasses on, why I have red bumps on my arm (eczema), and why I wasn't wear high heels (I only wear comfy shoes - this is wisdom, little sisters).

I also decided to ask my own questions. Can you spell your name? (Yes, except one little boy who said he forgot.) Can you put a straw in the Capri Sun packet by yourself? (Yes.) And finally, what does it mean to graduate?


Preschool+ graduates up in here 
Turns out, graduation is a very confusing concept for five year olds. Or maybe, just maybe they are the only ones who know what it means to be a graduate. Think about this while reading their answers. I wish I remembered more of them...

"It means we sing a song." "What song?" "We're graaaaduates, we're graaaduates." After THREE graduations in my life, HOW is it possible that I didn't learn this song??

"It means my mom buys me a new dress." Fact.

"It means we get dressed up." Also true.

"Um, I don't really know." From my same little buddy who couldn't remember how to spell his name. Hear that? Honesty.

Graduation: it's about singing, new dresses, and dressing up in general. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Messy, schmessy.

This is a moment to savor.

It's Saturday morning. Trevor Hall is singing on our stereo. Caleb is playing the guitar along with him. Breakfast is in the oven. We are both in our pajamas.

It's sweet summer. Our house is a mess, but it doesn't matter. Messy houses happen sometimes. As my wise friend Faby always said:

"Las casas son para las personas; las personas no son para las casas."

Houses are for people. People are not for houses.
Our kitchen during a typical week. Also a selfie.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The time my brother broke a window with a dolphin

Yes, you read that correctly.

Do you have siblings? I have one. My brother's name is Michael. I call him Ralph. Try not to think about it too much. (Now I also have two sisters-in-law, whoop whoop!) I am three years, five months, and eighteen days older than Ralph. (Michael. Don't worry about it.) When my mom told me she was pregnant, I said, "Good. I want a baby sister named Michael." When my dad came home from the hospital to tell me it was a boy, I said, "Welp, at least we can name him Michael." And so it was. My parents claim that they didn't let me name him, but I think we all know the truth.

My mother was determined that Ralph and I would be close, so she forced us to play together. We had limited screen time, so she would frequently kick us outside. Honestly, I don't know if we would have been as close as we were (and are), if it were not for Emily.

Emily was our next door neighbor. She was one year older than me and the only one who could keep us playing together longer. We would sneak over to Emily's house when we weren't allowed to watch any more TV at our house. There we would play with the peak of toy technology: the original Nintendo. We also climbed trees, played football, built pillow forts, jumped on the trampoline, and played many imaginative games together with action figures, Legos, and Playmobil.

Playmobil, if you've never played with them, are little plastic people, animals, and accessories. We loved playing with them.
Playmobil world
Our games with them often became animated. Sometimes, my brother would claim that Emily or I had "stolen" something that he was using. Usually we had found these treasured pieces under the bed or in the common pile. One day, rather than our typical elaborate story games, we took up a new kind of game. WAR.

Emily and I, as usual, were on the same side. You might think this unfair, but in fact, it was quite fair. My brother was, and is, very scrappy. Emily and I played against him in football and almost any time we could. I am more of a peacekeeper, so I could have never been on the same side as him. In our game of war, we each had a shelter. Emily and I were sandwiched between the wall and the bed. I don't remember where Michael was. Emily and I were laughing. In my memory, Michael was ticked, but he might have been laughing too. We flung various small toys back and forth at each other, ducking after we launched the toy. 

Suddenly, Michael threw with great intensity a bigger object than any of us had been throwing. He threw it hard and the window behind Emily and me shattered. He had pitched a Playmobil dolphin through the window. Many times, the games we played lasted for days. This time, our playing ended hastily, as Emily and I scurried carefully to get away from broken glass, but were able to rescue the plastic dolphin that shattered it. 

Fortunately, my mom has a good sense of humor. 
Real dolphins in the Straight of Gilbraltar

Friday, July 11, 2014

Stories: The Drive to North Platte

Sometime in the mid 1990s...
This picture has almost nothing to do with this post, but is from the mid 1990's...
"Are we there yet?" asked my little brother, Michael.

I sighed. My parents laughed. We had just pulled out of our driveway, two hours later than scheduled, after a lot of last minute running around. Typical. Our destination? North Platte, Nebraska, home of William "Buffalo Bill" Cody and our grandparents. Time to arrive? Approximately 8 hours.

We had to drive through the city to get to the main interstate, which in itself took about 25 minutes. I inevitably wanted to read during those first 25 minutes and would be carsick by the time we got to the road that took us straight north. If you've ever driven north on I-29 out of Kansas City, you know that it takes a long time to feel like you're getting somewhere. You have to pass through the northland, then St. Joseph, before you get out onto open highway.

Several cassette tapes or book chapters into the drive, we cross the border from Iowa into Nebraska. Every time our family makes this crossing, we sing the Nebraska state song. I carry this tradition on today. If you ever want to hear "Beautiful Nebraska", let me know. We'll take a road trip.  Once in Nebraska, we make a pit stop at two restaurants, minimum, because I don't like pizza or hamburgers. I like KFC macaroni and cheese.

Even though our car smells like greasy fast food, there is something magical about turning west. I can feel in my bones what it must have been like to be a pioneer. The wind is wild on I-80. The summers are hot, the winters are cold. We watch for windmills, horses, cattle. The sky is huge.

I'm reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and dreaming of what it was like to move to the prairie back when it was prairie. I wonder if coyotes or wolves still roam the plains. Later, I imagine myself as a Native American, knowing every hill in our area from quiet walks in my moccasins.

As the sun goes down in brilliant color, we pass and are passed by several trucks. My brother and I ask the timeless question, "How much longer?"

When we were young, our parents answered in numbers of cassette tapes or in hours and minutes. As we got older, they started telling us the miles we had left and let us figure it out. If we were lucky, we had stopped at the toy store when we stopped to get food. This would tide us over longer than usual, as did the times we stopped to pick up our cousins two hours away from our grandparents.

As night fell, we tried to fall asleep to pass the time. I watched the stars come out and curled up against the cold window with my pillow and teddy bear. The pillow slides down. I pull it back up and fluff it. Finally I find a compromise good enough to allow me to drift into sleep...

We're getting off the highway now, I can feel it. I keep my eyes shut and listen to my parents' hushed voices comment on what's changed since the last time. We turn left off I-80 and begin our slow drive through town. I don't know for sure, but I assume my brother is actually sleeping, not just faking it like me. Finally, we begin the slow downhill drive. The gravel crunches under our tires and then, silence. I am always struck by the silence that comes after turning off a car that's been running for hours.

Inside, I know a light will be on and Grandma will be up to greet us. I always feel a little shy, but by the time morning comes, I know I'll be ready for cinnamon rolls, outside exploring, playing cards, and lots of vacation.

Grandma and Grandpa's house