Lost

He sat down on the cold marble, and he waited.

Rain cascaded down the glass, rivulets and streams gliding down to cement making small lakes, forcing people to maneuver to reach the double doors and enter the hotel.

Even after all this time, his jacket still smelled faintly of his sister’s cigarettes and orange blossom perfume from when he’d taken her to the symphony. He’d asked her a thousand times to quite smoking. Now the traces of it clinging within the folds, the collar, were an anchor.He sighed and leaned back against the wall. He was tired, but he didn’t allow himself to close his eyes. He might miss it. Today was his only chance. He felt around in his left pocket, eventually pulling out a tooth pick which he put in his mouth and worried with his teeth. He hated waiting. He hated rain. He hated the feeling his heart was making in his chest, which made him hate everything, which he hated.

He inhaled deeply and adjusted the collar of his wool sweater. It was hot. The walls were covered in a rich red velvet, a fire had been stoked and patrons were gathered around it pulling mink lined gloves off their hands, giving directions to bell boys, drinking hot tea. They all spoke languages he couldn’t understand, all from a different world, a world he never should have known. And suddenly, in that moment, he knew he would give anything just to be free.

His shock of blond hair fell across his eyes, and as he brushed it aside he saw it.

Sprinting up, he overturned a serving oval carrying hot chocolate and coffee, causing the server to curse. He had also startled an exceptionally small dog who was not fond of tall men or coffee, and it began to bark fervently at him, windmilling his little legs at a tremendous speed as he strained to chase the man upsetting his calm.

Leaving behind the bustle, he had made it out the door, oblivious to everything except a yellow pair of rain boots. The revelation of color had flashed through the glass doors amid a sea of legs, and was gone. He ran out to the sidewalk and searched desperately, determined but lost in the waves of movement and rain.

From inside the hotel emanated a sound that pierced his heart, and suddenly the whole street stopped. The dog had worked himself free and sprinted for the hem of a leg pant, and was promptly run over by a bellhop cart. The ensuing wail from it’s owner, a sharp keen of pain and loss, made everyone pause. The dog turned into vapor that rose to the ceiling and disappeared. Everyone stood still for a moment, half a moment, and that was all he needed. He kept his eyes locked on a small, sleet gray cloak, and he ran. As the crowds recovered and proceeded forward, he grasped and pulled the hood back, and found himself face to face with a young girl.

She had dark, dark eyes that seemed to look through him. A small thing with black hair and sweeping eyebrows, dressed in an unassuming  black dress that reached to her knees. But those boots, the yellow. He forced himself to stare into her gaze, his pulse filling his ears, and waited an eternity. But nothing could make him look away, not even her, this sentinel. He would wait forever, and she understood. She lifted her small fist up and opened it; a silver key. She blinked without expression, waiting for him. He took it. She turned around and disappeared into the bustle.

He crumpled to the ground, cradling the small key to his chest, and finally allowed himself to dream of home.

The Woman

“During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

“Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say “hello.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.”

~Anonymous

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It’s A Real Place

I decided to take the scenic route home, today.

On my way from Greenlake to Rainier Beach, I passed through downtown Seattle, China Town, Columbia City, and Hilman City. Some things I passed on the way that  grabbed my attention:

The man, the legend, Mark Driscoll

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Before I moved to Seattle, I had no idea who this guy was. After I moved to the Emerald City, a friend asked if we could go to Mark’s church for good Friday service, and my reaction was “Mark who?” I’ve never been one to spend time and energy searching out contemporary preachers and evangelists; Joel Olsteen’s smile was like swallowing a mouthful of sugar, and something about Rob Bell’s eyes and manner of speech made me uneasy– there was something going on behind them that didn’t quite match up, like he was making something too easy and complicated at the same time. And most of the time there’s a reason why men grow to be famous. Every time I sit in service at a mega church, I wonder to myself, alright. What kind of white bread are we going to be served today? 

But I’ve since learned more about him, and even though I’m not entirely on board with the massive scale church model, having had some first hand run-ins with MH burnouts, he’s surprisingly grounded. Sure, it’s dangerous when thousands of people gather to witness one man preach and not because they’re seeking opportunities to serve their fellow sisters and brothers in Christ, to build the Church body, but somehow he wins you over. Maybe it was the t-shirt he sported with the virgin Mary that said, “Mary is my Homegirl,”  or perhaps it’s his evident sensitivity, respect and love for women, or even his boldness to hold men and husbands accountable for their relationship with their families as spiritual leaders. And then, most importantly, there’s the powerful command he has of the Scriptures. And maybe it’s the weathered quality of his words, like he’s been and seen it all- I live only blocks away from his childhood neighborhood, and I understand his stories. I get the rawness, the depravity.

As I passed by the library,

Danger, Will Robinson.

Danger, Will Robinson.

choosing not go in because pretty much every visit ultimately turns into a 40 dollar overdue fines collections envelope on my doorstep, I was suddenly presented with this epic building:

MH-old-B-W-38

On the side is the permanent inscription, First United Methodist Chuch. New banners now proclaim the installation of Mars Hill.

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Stunning, is it not? Let’s pray that the worship offered inside is as beautiful as the vessel which contains  it.

So I continued on what turned out to be an epic journey. Sometimes I forget why I always take I5, and then I remember- it’s so I don’t grow old and senile in my car singing Killing me Softly with the Fugees. That’s why.

Next was China town. Shops full of fruits and vegetables, rice cookers, whole roasted ducks hanging by their necks, french pastries,  dilapidated used tire centers, lucky waving cats, Buddhas, statues and idols reflecting bright red and gold stacked to cover the window from flow to ceiling. My friend, Patrick, and I went out to eat Pho, pronounced ‘fuh’ (I know), in the international district a few months back. It looked sketch, like most places in Chinatown (there’s a pet store in an ally I’ve always wanted to check out), but it had gotten good reviews. It was delicious.

Literally the biggest image I could find.

Literally the biggest image I could find.

Patrick, who lives in Portland (a place Mark Driscoll claims is so white it probably only sells white bread), remarked, “I was walking up the street to find this place, and I realized I was the only white person I here.” That made me laugh. Rainier Valley is home to the most ethnically diverse community in the US, and I’ve enjoyed living in a place that helps curb my hunger and anxiousness to travel the world.

And another reason I love living where I live? Why, it’s because I can always satiate my cravings for marijuana.

Healing herbs? Sounds wonderful.

Healing herbs? Sounds wonderful.

I can’t tell you how many dispensaries are littered throughout Seattle, how many I passed on my way home, because they have become as the Israelites; like the stars, you cannot number them. Heck, there’s one half a mile from my house. I can start out my mornings with a run to the pot house and be back with brownies before breakfast. And in case you ever need a guide to pick out the best ones, Seattle’s here to help:

At last, a guide.

At last! A guide.

Like we’re not easy going enough. The last thing the Pacific Northwest needs is pot. One of my profs from Bible school was from Pennsylvania, and he flat out told us he was put off by the chill, ‘hang out dude’ attitude of the West coast. Where he was from people had things to do, and they did them. Apparently we just don’t have enough things to do over here. Obama can put that on the top of his check list: “Give West-coasters something to do.” Maybe I’ll write him a letter about that.

Denoting or relating to meat prepared as prescribed by Muslim law.

Denoting or relating to meat prepared as prescribed by Muslim law.

Oh, Halaal markets. Buildings the size of closets packed with everything you need for life.

I see these places and things while driving down a street called Martin Luther King Jr. Way, because there’s a large enough African American population for that name to actually mean something. A far cry from the bland Corvallis I grew up in, or from the entire state of Oregon, for that matter. Seriously. Where I live there are a lot of Muslims. A lot of people from places like Ethiopia and Somalia. One of the guards at the museum I worked at was from Somalia, pressed to leave country of birth his because of the escalating violence. When we (museum) catered for big companies like Microsoft, we’d always end up having to prepare separate Kosher and Halaal meals. Men wear tunics that reach past their knees, women cover all but their face and hands. Sometimes all I want to do is pull over in my car and tell them how they can be covered by the perfect love of Jesus.

I’ve enjoyed Ethiopian cuisine, and it was quiet tasty — but the injera made it’s presence known in my stomach. *sigh* Bread, you coy thing. You’re always keeping yourself just out of my reach.

injera1

Yes, please. I’ll take all of it.

And soon I was on the home stretch, and to my left I spied a place Rainier Beach can truly be proud of:

And yes, folks, it’s very much a real place. Excellent donuts, tasty teriyaki, and so far I’ve managed to clean all my clothes at home, so I can’t put in a good word where the laundromat is concerned. But that’s okay with me.

And then I was home!

The patience to wait

“Who said,” lashed out Isaac Penn, “that you,  a man, can always perceive justice? Who said that that justice is what you imagine? Can you be sure that you know it when you see it, that you will live long enough to recognize the decisive thunder of its occurrence, that it can be manifest within a generation, within ten generations, within the entire span of human existence? What you are talking about is common sense, not justice. Justice is higher and not as easy to understand– until it presents itself in unmistakable splendor. The design of which I speak is far more above our understanding. But we can sometimes feel its presence.

“No choreographer, no architect, engineer, or painter could plan more thoroughly and subtly. Every action and every scene has its purpose And the less power one has, the closer he is to the great waves that sweep through all tings, patiently preparing them for the approach of the future signified not by simple human equity (a child could think of that), but by luminous and surprising connections that we have not imagined, by illustrations terrifying and benevolent– a golden age that will show not what we wish, but some bare awkward truth upon which rests everything that ever was and everything that ever will be. There is justice in the world, Peter Lake, but it cannot be had without mystery. We try to bring it about without knowing exactly what it is, and only touch upon it. No matter, for all the flames and sparks of justice throughout all time reach to invigorate unseen epochs– like engines whose power glides on hidden lines to upwell against the dark in distant cities unaware.”

=

I am not addressing ultimate justice; what happens when we die, to those who’ve been good or done ill. Only the things of life that sweep us up. Why do cruel people rise to the top, and why are the honest not always rewarded? Why was my heart allowed to break? Why did a child’s heartbeat cease to reverberate in it’s mother’s womb? Why?

And to claim injustice is to proclaim the knowledge of a universe I’ve only begun to glimpse with weakened eyes. To point my finger at God and cry out against Him would be to attempt grasping the past, present and future all at once, and to sing a melody of a song that has yet to finish, one who’s ending I have never heard. It would be to know the heart, path and design of every man under the sun.

I am in the center of a map of cosmic proportions, a traveler like yourself, and my story is being told by One who know knows the end of all things. Although the fruits of justice are not always made clear, I feel it’s presence. And it gives me the patience to wait, and have faith.

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3 AM

My face was pressed deep into my pillow, and my hands that had been tucked under it were clutching a vibrating phone. I blinked once, then twice into the darkness, inhaled deeply. My body was in the same position it had fallen asleep in, and I felt warm. I was still in the midst of  realizing I was awake when I heard crickets outside my open window singing to the moon, eclipsing the faint, dying life of my dreams.

Oh, a phone. My phone.

At that time of night, my brain couldn’t reason that it was an indecent hour, and that I wasn’t obligated to answer. So I did.

I groaned when the light from the screen hit my eyes. Charlie.

Charlie.

I brought the phone to my ear.

“Hmm?”

“Kat, you awake?”

“What?”

“Sorry it’s so late.”

“I’m sorry, too.” I murmured.

There was patch of silence. Then a quiet, “Kat?”

“Mmhm?”

“I . . . need to see you.”

“Right now?”

“Yeah, I mean, could you?”

I rolled onto my back and gathered my thoughts.

“What’s wrong?” I asked him.

“Nothing, it’s just this girl.”

“Oh. Who?”

“I think I love her.”

“. . .”

“Kat?”

“Yeah. I’ll meet you underneath the tree.”

“Alright, see you in a bit.”

“Bye.”

“Thanks, Kat.”

And I turned my head back into my pillow, this time to suffocate the tears.

I miss chocolate

I posted for 30 days. I finished what I started, just like I said I would, and it feels so good.

I think I’ll join an ultimate frisbee club, start rock climbing, and go to Utah and hike some mountain. Maybe then I’ll convince some people to hop on a plane with me and backpack Europe, but only after I dread my hair.

I’m seriously considering it. The hair part. Well, all of it really, but the hair would be the natural first step. But I kinda like my hair long and soft. Decisions, decisions…

I will make a list of things I can do that are impressive:

  • I know how to spin on a spinning wheel
  • I play piano and read music
  • I’ve done some beekeeping
  • I can garden
  • I have an impressive speaking vocabulary, and a decent reading comprehension.
  • I really like cats. A lot.
  • I can eat a lot of bread
  • I never get motion sickness
  • I have impeccable taste in movies and flowers

There, I think I got it all. Now for a list of foundwantings:

  • I can’t swim
  • I don’t ever get up early unless I have to for work
  • My spelling is abysmal
  • I’m not very good at making pancakes
  • I always feel like I’m doing everything wrong
  • I procrastinate
  • I don’t like the TV show The Big Bang Theory
  • I use too many commas
  • I forget everything, and I don’t forget anything.
  • I don’t have any friends in Seattle

Tonight has been quiet. I’m a nanny, now. I’m going to buy a camera so I can take soooo many pictures of my exciting life. Or be ready when it gets exciting, which will be soon. I have been so lonely of late. Not much has changed, but I’m starting to remember how it was like when I was going to college and friends were everywhere. Heck, I had to take off hiking 2 or 3 times a week to recover from all the people time I was indulging in, like too much chocolate. But lately my life has been full of sucking on carrots, and I miss it. Chocolate, that is.

This blows.

This blows.

 

So here’s to being nice to people and making new friends by actually doing things like ultimate frisbee and rock climbing. Where the heck do you even meet people, anyway? My job isn’t a good start, and I’m new at my church, not to mention I don’t even know if they have people my age there. But, Hey! God is the God of small and large things. I’ll keep you all posted on my friendship status. Because all I really want is to meet people who love and serve Jesus, so maybe I’ll start there.

I’ll just love and serve Jesus, and then look up to see who’s around when that happens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those were the days

I was listening to This American Life the other night. The topic of the week was middle school, and they interviewed an 11 year old boy who had just begun attending. Middle school sucks. I know that, and I’ve never been; that’s how bad it is:

Boy: “It’s harder to make friends now. It’s easier when your younger, but it’s harder now.”

Host: “Why do you say that?”

Boy: “When you’re older you judge people more, what they look like, stuff like that, and it’s harder. But when you’re younger you don’t think about that, you just meet someone and you’re friends.”

And I experienced the most poignant of moments where the crevices of some of life’s mysteries are suddenly illuminated, and you remember.

I say remember because I was young once. There was a time when I was knee high to a grasshopper, and I understood the world better. The world and I are better acquainted now, but that’s the catch; I can’t forget the things I’ve learned to judge. Nobody my age comes up to me in a public place, does something funny and ends up being my pal for the day. What I would do to have one day back as a kid and to remember how it was to boldly enter a sea of other faces, being confident that someone would be my friend no matter what. We would do everything together, because that’s what friends do. We would ignore the fact that the other chews loudly, or seems to suffer some sort of colorblindness that is revealed in their fashion choices, or if they’re ugly, or if their parent’s are poor. Because, heck, they don’t take a moment to notice those things about you, because you’re both mutually oblivious to the tiers of social standards that will soon eclipse your adult years. I remember having the nerve to walk up to people and be friends with them.

I think I was a lot wiser when I was small. . . not in the sense of the wisdom you gain from experience, or pain, but that wisdom that allows you to believe good things without exception. That people are fun. That they would never intend to hurt you, or do bad things. Believing someone else enjoys you just as much as you enjoy them.

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Day 30 (Giving thanks)

My brother, John, wrote this shopping list for my mom.

At first I tried to figure out why olives are at the very top because who needs olives for Thanksgiving? People kept talking about it all day, and I couldn’t figure out why, and they told me it was just because people like…olives. People that are not me. But I’m glad they’ll make somebody happy.

And I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what MS meant. MS? The disease. What?

“Maple Syrup,” John said matter-of-factly.

Maple Syrup will forever in my heart be called MS. Forever.

And as I admired the interesting doodles that accompanied ‘the list,’ and I listened to the Christmas music my dad holds off from playing until November (Oh, Nate King Cole. I will be yours truly, always), and made pie, and found myself in the middle of a mini LaBrasseur Family Reunion, losing to my 8 year old brother at chess, winning against my 18 year old brother at Peggle, laughing hard with my sister (who’s one of the only people that gets me), and welcoming said sister’s fiance into the huddle as I challenged him to eat three mandarins simultaneously, which he accomplished with aplomb (not), and at fudge and ice cream, and played backgammon with my old man, prayed with my mom…

What is there to be said when words cannot suffice? How do I articulate such intangible things as receiving a hug from your big brother, or pressing out pie crusts with your dad, and being happy? Life hasn’t been easy this past year. I could fill tomes with my words, but they need not be said. No one needs to read those; they need to know that God is good, and that he loves us– that I’m waiting to go home. To enter the gates of Glory where God will catch all my tears in palms that could contain all the oceans, call me by name with a voice that birthed the stars in the heavens, and come home.

But, for today, I can wait.

We will shop for olives and Maple Syrup, play endless games of Apples to Apples, and we will wait. And today I will find joy in the gift of a thankful heart.

Day 29 (An incomplete list of small pleasures)

Ahem.

  1. Being the first in line at the stop light
  2. That time I used the bathroom at a restaurant, and they had 20 different kinds of soap at the sink
  3. The moment you wake up to a bed that’s the perfect temperature
  4. Finding recognizing a star constellation
  5. The action of my fingers sinking into the keys of a grand piano.
  6. Letting balloons go
  7. Old school licking a stamp and sticking it to your letter
  8. Little baby rabbits with ears that drag, and fly up into the air when they hop.
  9. Laughing about the sound straws make in their lids with your little brothers in McDonalds. We totally lost it.
  10. Meeting little girls named Lucy.
  11. Grilled cheese sandwiches
  12. Taking a nap. A long one.
  13. Surprise company.
  14. 12 oz. Chai tea latte with 2 pumps hazelnut
  15. Buttoning buttons
  16. Dealing the perfect amount of cards during a game
  17. Cherry hardwood floors
  18. A man in a good suit
  19. Finishing a book
  20. Reading words in another language
  21. Reading music
  22. Shooting a rifle.
  23. Picking berries in the hottest weather
  24. Hiking for miles and being greeted by the ocean at the end
  25. When a strange dog is happy to see you
  26. Facebook notifications
  27. When your driving is complimented
  28. Keeping a plant alive
  29. Tiny spiders
  30. Winning at Monopoly

 

 

Day 28 (Flash Fiction)

What secrets they whisper behind closed doors, drawing the curtains to check the pathways of light;  they think darkness inspires health, but I feel my spirit repining in these shadows. My breaths come at a dearer price every time. The clock strikes 11 in the mourning. I notice the rooster has finally stopped crowing, and I wait. And he comes.

He stands at the foot of my bed. His cloak is black, and inside is blacker. I cannot discern his face. I sigh as he sits by my bedside, kneeling over me as I feel smooth, gloved fingers grasp my own, the weight of the fabric from his sleeve resting on my waist. All other noises die away, all the hushed worries and pitying eyes. Only him.

“She will die.”

I shiver. His voice is older than the stones that fill the hills. A strangled sound escapes my throat. I compose myself, murmuring, “No.”

“Yes,” He says, unflinchingly. “What can you think to argue? You cannot deny me, so I will take her.”

My heart runs cold, for I know He never leaves empty handed. I clutch my little on in my arms, press her closer to me.

“Me. Take me.”

He grows very still. His thumb runs absently inside my palm, following the lines, as his hooded face gazes at the child I have barely known.

“You?”

“Yes,” I breath. “Yes.”

Very carefully he bends over, pulls back the hood and kisses me. For a moment, half a moment, I am captivated by death.

And then I am gone, and there is nothing.