Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Soundtrack: Home Grown Edition.

I was all set to do my "Home Grown" edition of the soundtrack segment for this week, but then I heard some guy perform a Joe Cocker song on America's Got Talent last night and was torn between my original idea for this week or completely scrapping it for a new theme. Then I remembered that there is next Wednesday [if time stands] so I'll stick with the original theme today. I do just love a good theme. My [future] children will have themed birthday parties, Halloween costumes, and first day of school outfits until I send them to college...and beyond. Oh how lucky they will be to have me for their mom!

My state has contributed greatly to the development of society. Without Georgia, there wouldn't be Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A, Waffle House...maybe it's just contributed greatly to the expanding waistlines of society. But there is also Delta, Home Depot, UPS, the CDC, and the very first US Gold Rush happened in a little mountain town very near and dear to my heart. Whew, I feel better now. It just so happens that Georgia is home to some pretty a-ok musicians. Even before Elton and Justin Beiber moved to town. So here is my Top 12 (two bonus!) for the week. As with all of my play lists, I'm fickle about favorites.

Night Time is the Right Time by Ray Charles. Seriously, did you think I was going to say Georgia on My Mind? I'll play my "trite" card elsewhere, thank you. Why do I love this Ray Charles song? Primarily because I love Heathcliff & Rudy Huxtable's rendition of this song.

As She's Walking Away by the Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson. Double the Georgia boy fun with this one song!

These Arms of Mine by Otis Redding. Quick. Anybody know what movie this was in? It's one I always associate with my childhood even though I'm not certain the content was completely appropriate for a slumber party with 8 year old girls.

Romeo and Juliet by the Indigo Girls. Oh, Romeo...I think I used to have a scene with him. Amy Ray sightings when I lived in Dahlonega were almost as common as Michael Stipe sightings in Athens. Except I've never actually seen Michael Stipe. I usually just had to look to my left or right anytime I went to the gym in Dahlonega and ol' Amy was right there on the elliptical machine. Speaking of Michael Stipe...

Low by REM. Y'all ready to get low? It was the first middle school basketball game of the season during my 7th grade year...November 22 to be exact [sweet goodness, my memory is an anomaly]. Hans Preigel [the boy who sat beside me or behind me in basically every single class and whose locker was right above mine] died after getting hit by a car when he was walking from the game to...somewhere. In Chorus class the next Monday our teacher let us listen to whatever music we wanted to. Someone brought this and we played it over. And over. And over. It was alright though because everybody hurts sometime.

ATLiens by OutKast. Atlanta isn't the Hip-Hop Capital of the Wur-uld because we ATLiens love our muzak. Even though I do wonder if we'll lose that title now that Neal Boortz and friends have replaced Murph Dog & CJ in the morning.

Everchanging World
by Shawn Mullins. Yes, Shawn Mullins. But this is old Shawn Mullins. Just out of North Georgia College Shawn Mullins before he started singing lullabies.

Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight & The Pips. Wow. I wonder what happened once they actually got to Georgia. Would she still rather live in his world than live without him in hers?

The Truth by Jason Aldean. After grad school, maybe I'll head out on the road with some old rock and roll band and live like a gypsy, queen, for a little while. Sounds fun.

Straight to Hell by Drivin n' Cryin. What a fun sing along song. And no, my mama has never said that I was headed straight there. Because I'm not. I'll bet there's not any honeysuckle blue there either.

Keep Your Hands to Yourself by The Georgia Satellites. This was totally in the Saturday Night Dance Party Mix at my house. Little did I know that while dancing my cares away as an 8 year old, my parents were also educating me on the benefits of virtue. It was damage control for letting me watch Dirty Dancing, I suppose.

Love by Sugarland. This song is powerful. It gives me chills. It makes me cry. But in a good way. Kind of like love does.

Monday, August 23, 2010

On Becoming a Jolly Beggar.

The very first year that I was a Brownie Girl Scout, my mama and daddy bought 50 boxes of cookies. Good thing those cookies really do freeze well or else I would have weighed 95 pounds as a 2nd grader. Why did they buy 50 boxes of cookies? Other than that it was simple from the accounting standpoint (50 boxes at $2 bucks each = 1 Benjamin) and my mama can put away Samoas like a 300 pound man (Hi, Mom!), I needed to sell a certain number of boxes in order to get the patch for cookie sales that year. Believe me, it was critical. Not having a "Cookie Sales 1986" patch on my Brownie sash was like being marked with the scarlet letter in a Puritan village in 1846. What a great example of the ridiculous things loving parents do for their children. Back to a modified version of my original question: Why did my parents buy 50 boxes of cookies so that I would get that coveted cookie patch? Simple: I didn't want to ask anyone to help me. In my simple 6-year old mind, perhaps I thought that somehow I would be able to do it on my own, but my parents knew better. They let me do it my way and when it didn't work, they were right there to my rescue.

Fast forward a few years. Specifically to a couple of weeks ago when a friend and I were at Panera catching up over coffee discussing love, life, and other mysteries. When I got to the end of my update, she sat there with tears in her eyes and said "I have no idea what to say to you. Usually I'm the one telling you about my life and when I get to the end, you tell me what I need to do next or how to fix it." Yep. That's me. The thinker. The fixer. The doer. The girl who can step back from a situation, assess it, and make it right. Even keel, clear thinking, and in control with everything in order. And if you're wondering, as a matter of fact, I do take my humble pie a la' mode.

I think that Kelly Clarkson's song "Miss Independent" was written about me. [Her follow-up hit "Miss Egocentric" might have been about me as well.] As with most personality traits, my independence can be both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because I can change a headlight, check my oil, and put air in my tires just as well as someone with the Y-chromosome. It's a curse because admitting that I need help with something or can't do something myself is as painful as it might be to floss my teeth with fishing line.

It really isn't hard to see where this is going now is it? Just like my 6-year old self, my 30ish-year old self loves to do things my way. On my own.

Do y'all remember the game "King of the Mountain"? Well, let's just say that a few months ago I was dethroned. For the first time in my adult life I was left without a plan. Not having a plan rendered me incapable of making even simple decisions. I would forget even the most basic things. One day I forgot part of my outfit...We'll leave it at that. I was a mess. And I hated every single minute of it. Sleeping? Couldn't do it. Eating? Couldn't do it. And those are two hobbies that I enjoy the most.

My hands were tied. I had been cruising down life's highway just fine going my own way and suddenly that way wasn't good enough anymore. I had encountered a road block of epic proportions with no signal on the GPS. So what did I do? I asked for help. I prayed for sleep and for my appetite to return. I was brought to the point of complete and total dependence for even the simple stuff. It was uncomfortable. I was kicking and screaming the whole way (figuratively speaking, of mama and daddy might have bought 50 boxes of cookies, but they would not stand for a child who threw tantrums), but God was faithful in even those simple things. Now, the fuller my tummy gets, the heavier my eyelids become. Finally, I realized that it would be much easier if I just surrendered my way and decided to go with God's way. So I cried Mercy and who was right there to my rescue? My Heavenly Father.

Recently I just finished reading [again] Philip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace?" I could write from now until tomorrow about all of the goodness to found between the cover of this book, but it's the last chapter that I especially like for the purpose of this post. In it, Yancey discusses Simone Weil's conclusion that two great forces rule the universe: gravity and grace. Gravity leads us to believe that we can make it on our own and it is grace that corrects that belief. As in, when we are knocked down off of our high horse, maybe it's a good thing. CS Lewis said that "grace substitutes a full, childlike and delightful acceptance of our need, a joy in total dependence. We become 'jolly beggars'."

What?!? A beggar? And one who is jolly? Impossible. That was my first thought. I've never seen a panhandler after a Braves game with a smile on his face. But it's the source of dependency that determines if we are jolly beggars or beggars chained down in bondage. God loves it when we depend completely on him. When we come to him broken to bits with cracked little hearts, it's those cracks that are filled with grace. When we accept that we are weak and He is strong (hello...we all sang the song in VBS), that is when we will grow. I've got a lot of growing to do. And not the kind that results from eating Girl Scout cookies.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Operation New Dawn.

I don't know about you, my 3 readers, but it seems to me that a few copies of the Twilight Saga have been floating around the war room.

Operation New Dawn. That's what we're calling the goings on in Iraq these days because word on the street is that the major combat operations in Iraq have come to a close. Or that the last US combat brigade has withdrawn from Iraq. ...I don't make the news, I just read it.

I remember exactly what I was doing on March 20, 2003. I was glued to my television watching a war unfold before my eyes just as I had been in the days and weeks leading up to the whole Shock and Awe campaign. As I sit here today over 7 years later, my mind is flooded with all sorts of images. (Thank you Life magazine archives for the photog.)
Not really. I have just always really loved this picture. Instead, I think about news footage that showed that statue of Saddam toppling down, the faces of those first POWs, the pictures in the forwarded emails with Soldiers sleeping in those dug out dirt hole things (Oh my word at the technical speak I'm using today), the American flags lining the Drill Field at North Georgia with one representing each student out of classes for the semester because he or she is serving our country, and pictures of my friends and their children as they send their fearless leader (aka, husband and daddy) off to war or as they welcome him back home. Those are the kinds of images that I'm thinking about today.
I know I've discussed this before on more than a few occasions. But honestly, I don't think it's a topic that can be discussed enough. When I think about war generations, I still think about WWII and Vietnam. Not my generation. But it is my generation. The war has always been a little more personal to me given my North Georgia pride. It seems to me that when you know some of the people participating, it makes you appreciate everyone on the team that is doing the work a little bit more as well as the cause. Or maybe that's just me. I hope not though. When I work with students now who have delayed their own college education because they love their country enough to do so, I have utmost respect for them. I see young men who have traded some innocence along with the freedom of lazy afternoons and weekends as a college student for doses of reality that some of us will never know. And it's because of them that we don't know.
It's important for us to remember that it's still not over in Iraq. Progress? Yes. Completion? Not quite. It's important for us to remember the men and women in Afghanistan.
It's important for us to not only remember them but to appreciate them as well.
There are multiple ways to show your appreciation. A good-old fashioned "Thank You" is a start. This one is kind of fun too though.
[Edited to add: It's important for my OCD not to get the best of me because I have been trying for 10 minutes to get the spacing of the last half of this post to publish correctly!]

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Soundtrack: Mixed Tape.

I do love a good mixed tape. Except I can't tell you the last time I actually listened to a cassette tape. Do y'all remember fast-forwarding and rewinding over and over again in order to get to the beginning of Blame It on the Rain? Honestly I don't know how we survived having to go through so much work for the sake of entertainment. The kids today have it so much easier with their iTunes playlists.

Mama Tried by Merle Haggard. They just don't make country songs like they used to, do they? As it turns out, I love a good graphic t-shirt almost as much as I love a good mixed tape which is why I think my closet would be much cuter with one of these 100% cotton girl-cut tee's hanging in it. Even though I didn't turn twenty-one in prison doing life without parole, apparently I still enjoy dressing like I'm twenty-one.

I Want My Mullet Back by Billy Ray Cyrus. This certainly answers my previous question. Earlier this week I saw someones Facebook status that said "I want my summer break back." For some reason this song popped right into my head and unfortunately, it's been there ever since. I quit trying to figure out why my mind works the way it does years ago. It would be in your best interest to never even begin to try.

Please Don't Leave Me by Pink. So I totally judged this song by its title. And the fact that it is performed by a girl who answers to a color. Then I heard it in church one Sunday. [Yes, you read correctly: Church.] Since I was in church, it wasn't like I could just skip forward to the next station like I normally do when I hear the "da dada da's" so I actually listened for once. And liked it. I also enjoy typing in choppy sentence fragments.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
composed by Robert Robinson. Look, just because I go to a church that begins many services with secular music doesn't mean I'm a pagan. You can take the girl out of the little country Baptist church, but you can't take the Baptist out of the girl. There's nothing like an old hymn every now and again. I love the Jars of Clay version even though they only sing the 1st and 3rd verses. There is also a Friday Night Light's version that I find quite delightful. [It was in this most recent season's premiere episode]

Three Little Birds by Bob Marley & The Wailers. So simple. So true. So I'm not worrying about a thing. Except dying at the age of 36 from melanoma like Bob Marley did. [Not really, mom.]

Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin. I heard this on the way to work yesterday and as if acting upon cue, I immediately began looking around for my dearest Phi Mu sisters in order to circle up and sing our little hearts out along with Janis. Since they were nowhere to be found I considered the following questions instead: What was it about this song we loved so much? Was Janis really the best role model for young, impressionable college-aged women? Why do girls feel the need to gather in a circle and sing songs? If they no longer felt the need to do so, would the Greek system just immediately fall apart across college and university campuses nationwide?

Beg Steal or Borrow by Ray LaMontagne. His new CD was released this week. What are you waiting on? Go out and get it so I can beg to borrow it from you. Or else I'll steal it.

Everlong by Foo Fighters. This song is older than my senior year of high school yearbook. I understand that "post-grunge" is so post-cool but well, I was post-grunge when post-grunge wasn't cool.

You Lost Me by Christina Aguilera. I think that Christina herself was a little lost in the shadows of her Mickey Mouse Club co-stars, but she has definitely turned out to be more stable than one of them. I wonder if this song was written for JT over the fact that she had a mad crush on him back in the early 90's but he chose the blond instead. Never mind, she's blond too. I'm the one who is not.

I Will Not Be Moved by Natalie Grant. Thank you Natalie Grant for singing and writing this song for me. Thank you HJ for recommending this song to me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

School Daze

I've hit a creative low point. I know you may find this hard to believe; in fact, I can hardly believe it myself, but it's true. After thinking that I had come up with such a clever title to today's post, I discovered that I'm stuck in 2008. I guess there are worse places to be stuck and judging by my outfit today, one might think I'm stuck in 1992. Even though I'm not wearing the striped GAP t-shirt and mustard yellow denim shorts that I wore on the first day of school way back when I graced the halls of Sequoyah High School for the very first time. Let's not mention the tortoise shell glasses that rivaled the kid's from A Christmas Story that I was also wearing on that day. I was a spectacle.

Today is the first day of the fall semester. As I was sitting at my desk this morning, I realized that I have been celebrating the first day of school in some capacity or another since 1984. That's 26 years for those of you who haven't spent as much time in education as me. Deep down, I love the first day of school. I always have. I loved getting new school supplies. I spent so much time picking out the perfect new Trapper Keeper and lunch box. I carefully planned just the right outfit and got shoes to match. Perhaps I should have taken a lesson from my 11 year-old self when I got dressed this morning. Except my Hypercolor t-shirt was dirty because I wore it this weekend. Yes, I did wear a Hypercolor t-shirt on the first day of 4th grade, thankyouverymuch. Doesn't everyone remember what they wore on the first day of school each year? The outfit that I wore in Kindergarten was only worn once. I can't help it that my mama sent her 5 year-old to school in a white shirt and the lunchroom ladies served me spaghetti for lunch. It was a cute Cabbage Patch Kid shirt though. When I jumped on this train of thought about 10 minutes ago, I had no intention of spending so much time discussing wardrobe. Obviously clothing is a pivotal part of my "back to school" memories though. [We'll discuss my shallowness another day.]

All these years later, I still enjoy the first day of school. Even if I don't really enjoy the traffic that accompanies the first day of school. Or the overabundance of 18-23 year olds shopping at my Target and Publix. New notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils can only mean one thing though: fall is just around the corner. And everyone knows that fall is the most wonderful time of the year.

The beginning of the fall semester is especially near and dear to my heart this year. Why? Because this is my last semester of grad school! Good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise. [Side note: If you haven't checked out Ray Lamontagne's newest CD, I recommend that you do so. If you haven't a clue why I decided to share this information at this point in my ramble, then obviously you aren't a Ray Lamontagne fan. Which makes me pity you a little bit.]

It's going to be a busy semester. I've got more work to do than I even care to think about right now. So I won't.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Was Guy Smiley really that happy?

I loved Sesame Street whenever I was a little girl. Each afternoon at my grandmother's house, my routine consisted of the following: lunch, nap, General Hospital, Sesame Street, and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Some of you are hoping that I'm kidding when I make mention of watching General Hospital at the ripe old age of 3 or 4, but I would not kid about matters involving Blackie, Robert Scorpio, Frisco Jones, or Edward Quartermaine. Friday's were extra special because I went to the beauty shop with Mu so she could get her hair done for church on Sunday. Jesus does love a sassy 'do. I inevitably scored a 5-piece pack of Carefree sugarless gum from Esther Forrester every week which made the trip completely worth it. Back to my point, if I ever had one of significance in the first place.

My love for Sesame Street. To say that I was obsessed is a bit of an understatement. Back then, I looked forward to 4:00 as much as I look forward to meal times now. Even though I'm not really sure why because Oscar the Grouch completely got on my nerves and I was terrified of the Count. Look, I know that they are Muppets, but Count had a scary laugh and each time he laughed, it was accompanied by sounds of thunder in the background. Don't even get me started on my fear of thunderstorms. I feared them almost as much as I feared my mama's hair in this picture:
(It's unfortunate that my dear mom was jealous of her 2 year old's naturally curly locks so she went and stuck her finger in an electric socket but that's another story for another day.)

So. Back to Sesame Street. My favorite parts of the show were the ones where they went to places to show how things were done. Like the one that shows how milk is made. Or the one with that teaches about recycling aluminum. The one that I loved the most was the one where they showed how crayons were made. We were talking about it at work yesterday so this morning I got the bright idea of seeing if it was on YouTube. Lo and behold, it is.

Funny how my memory of the way super cool video from my 4 year-old perspective is much different than it is now. I mean, was the crayon factory next to a retirement community? Given all the rust on that machinery, I do hope those employees had an updated tetanus shot. At least the folks seemed happy to be at work. Or maybe Guy Smiley just shared his SSRIs with them

Monday, August 9, 2010

Quite frankly, I wonder if we'll make it to 2012.

This morning at our annual breakfast, a faculty member excitedly announced that one of the speakers for the colloquium series this year was some expert on the year 2012. And by excitedly I mean that she might as well have been announcing that our back to school bonus consisted of a complimentary root canal sans anesthesia. Calm down, taxpayers, a bonus is something that I've only heard about on television. Kind of like Bigfoot or that weird goat thing that allegedly roams around Texas.

So what's so special about 2012, other than the obvious of Team Red Elephant's possible return as DC's home team and the Summer Games in London? They say that according to the Mayan calendar, we are done on 12/21/2012. As in, an apocolypse of epic proportions. Whomever they are. Perhaps I should go to the presentation in the fall because honestly I don't know any specifics other than that. There was even a movie released towards the end of last year, but I went to see The Fantastic Mr. Fox instead. No, not really!

However as of late, a few things have happened that lead me to wonder if we'll make it that long. Here's why:

Enrique Iglesias is back on the radio. There is even a "Jersey Shore" version of his latest single, I Like It. I actually listened to the lyrics this afternoon on my way home from work and they made my blood boil. [Much like Jacob Black] Really, Enrique? "My girlfriend is out of town and I am all alone. Your boyfriend is out of town and he doesn't have to know." I wonder what he would think if he happened to be the boyfriend out of town visiting his grandma in the assisted living community? I suppose this isn't a concern for him though since one can run, one can hide, but one can't escape his love. He's not the only one encouraging cheating though.

The other day I read an article on that is authored by 'Sugarbabe' on negotiated infidelity. You can read it for yourself here, but I'll warn you, it will potentially make you disappointed in humanity. Or maybe that's just me. In short she says that men who cheat are normal while monogamous men are heroes. I'm not even going to acknowledge the ridiculousness of this. I will say though that we'll talk when there is a man in the world writing an article about "negotiated weight gain". You know, women who don't give in to chocolate cravings and gain a few extra pounds here and there are the heroes so it's ok for us normal gals to just let ourselves go and give in to every sweet craving that comes our way. Puh-lease.

The Bachelor Pad on ABC. It's on my TV right now (for research purposes, of course) and Elizabeth, a girl from Jake's season, is back on this show but now she's new and improved with blonde hair. According to her, blondes can behave differently because it's acceptable for them to act a little more ditzy. And she was excited about this opportunity. Hook-ups, betrayal, competition, and greed are all on tap for this season of The Bachelor Pad. Smut. Pure smut. What happened to the good old days when The Simpson's had the "most questionable" content on television?

The engagement (and then break-up) of Bristol and Levi. It would be a favor to us all if Jesus came back now so this on-again-off-again bad ABC afterschool special come to life situation would be put to rest forever. Bless their hearts.

Justin Bieber's memoir, Obviously he feels a sense of urgency to get his story out before it's too late. Although, I find it somewhat unfortunate that the chapter about how puberty ruined his life because it caused his voice to change and therefore ended his music career won't be included. It's the stars who come back from adversity that make for the best E True Hollywood Stories. Right now he is at the top of his game with three year olds in fits of tears because they love him so much. I think she's got shot with him in 20 years. Except that will be 2030 and well, if the calendar is correct this is a moot point.

If Brett Favre actually retires, I will keep my eyes on those Eastern skies.

I mean, seriously...what is the world coming to? And when did I become the old lady sitting around speculating about what the world is coming to? Get me to the nearest Bridge club or quilting circle, stat!

I know that it appears that I'm making light of something serious. It is very serious, indeed and shouldn't be taken lightly. Please don't misunderstand the fact that my prayer is that all three of my readers have the same hope in the same source as I do. I imagine that I'll be Christmas shopping on December 21, 2012. I certainly don't plan to be sitting around with my Y2K flashlight and bottled water because I believe that "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." so I'll probably save that water and those batteries in the flashlight for a time when I might really need them.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Soundtrack: Shake Your Tailfeather Edition.

In honor of the upcoming release of Step Up 3D on Friday, I'm dedicating this week's soundtrack segment to a few songs that automatically cause my toes to start tapping when I hear the music. As far as Step Up 3D is concerned, if you're one of the 45 people in the nation who plan to actually pay money to see this production, please let me know how that works out for you. As for myself, I prefer to spend the time getting down with D-Qwon's Dance Grooves. Without further adieu...

Brick House by The Commodores. Can we say classic? Of course we can. For what it's worth, I believe that Lionel was better at singing than he was at parenting
. But what do I know about either one? Not. A. Thing.

Carry Out
by Timbaland featuring Justin Timberlake. When oh w
hen is JT going to come out with a whole new CD? I'm not ashamed to admit that I check his website semi-regularly for signs of a tour and CD release. If I had to choose my single favorite added bonus of the Justin Timberlake concert in Atlanta during his last tour it would be the surprise appearance by Timbaland. Obviously if the first four letters of your last name are "t-i-m-b" then you're destined for music success according to me...HP.

Hey Ya by OutKast. Do you realize that when the kids today go to "shake it like a Polaroid picture" they probably think of the iPhone app instead of an actual 3.5 x 4.25 in. picture? Grandpa, tell me about the good old days.

by Lady Gaga featuring Beyonce. You either love it or hate it, or love to hate it. Fun fact: Lady Gaga originally wrote this song for Britney Spears but she s
aid "no thank you" because she was running away with the Circus instead of spending time at the club that was far from a cell tower. [Someone has been watching too much VH1.] Speaking of Britney...

Womanizer by Britney Spears. I call 'em like I see 'em too, B

Intergalatic by The Beastie Boys. These guys are now 43, 44, and 45 years old. Should we call them The Beastie Gentlemen now? You know, out of respect and all.

Shackles by Mary Mary. What? There's nothing wrong with a little foot fellowship. It's not like the Solid Gold Dancers invented dancing.

Rosa Parks by OutKast. [I don't want to talk about the l
awsuit.] This is one of those songs that anytime I hear it, I can't help but think of college parties at Eric Jones' house in Dahlonega. And if you ever found yourself traipsing up that ridiculously steep driveway on any given Thursday night between the years of 1998-2001, there's a pretty good chance you do too.

Imma Be
by Black Eyed Peas. Speaking of black eyes, I
totally think that Fergie should give Josh Duhamel one but that's another story for another day.

by Justin Timberlake. He's little boy cute so as badly as I hate to break it to him, he can't actually bring sexy back...if it had ever disappeared in the first place. I have a friend (who shall remain nameless because I still want her to be my friend) who thought JT was singing about a s
exy cat when this song first was released. Oh, I giggle.
Well, what are you waiting on? Everybody dance now!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Et tu, Brute?

Today's topic: Betrayal.

The dictionary definition of this word is simply "the exhibition of disloyalty".
Synonyms include: deception, treason, dishonesty, unfaithfulness
Antonyms include: faithfulness, loyalty, protection, support

The meaning of the word is really quite simple and doesn't require that much explanation. However, what one cannot find in the dictionary is an explanation of how it feels. Perhaps that is because it's so personal. So much so that even though the "same exact thing" might have happened to a thousand people, none of them feel or experience it in the "same exact way". This really should come as no surprise considering that of the 6.7 billion people in the world, the vast majority has 8 fingers and 2 thumbs, but none have the same fingerprint patterns. All that to say, what I share here is based solely on my own personal experience.

Experiencing betrayal is very much like an earthquake. The initial jolt is the harshest and most severe. It stirs up feelings of shock, disbelief, anger, hurt, disappointment, and disgust. There is no order. Everything that was seemingly in place and made sense is suddenly in complete disarray around you. But the human body is amazing because it almost seems as if upon discovery, a big fat dose of Novocaine is immediately administered in order to numb the senses to make coping a little more bearable. The numbness is only temporary though, and eventually the raw pain sets in. Oddly enough, the pain is such that your body physically hurts even though there has been no physical injury. It's heavy. It makes even the simple functions that we take for granted (i.e., eating) seem laborious. Fortunately, just as pain subsides when our bodies recover from physical injury it does the same with emotional injury. You just can't see the bruise fading from deep purple to ugly yellow to nothing with your own two eyes.

But then there are the aftershocks. Personally, I think it's the aftershocks that may be the most difficult because you never know when they are going to happen. Even though they are more subtle, they are comprised of questions with no answers, doubts of all that you believed to be true, feelings of shame, regret, and foolishness.

Questions that one may ask after being betrayed include:
How in the world could a person that I care about so deeply possibly hurt me in such a manner? Why did I not see the obvious signs? Did they really think that I'm that dumb? Am I that dumb? Did I ever really know that person at all? Will I ever be able to trust again? What kind of person does this sort of thing?

The English language has a word for this kind of person: Traitor.

Again, the dictionary definition is quite simple in that it is "a person who betrays another, a cause, or any trust".
Synonyms include: husband, wife, daughter, son, father, mother, companion, fiancee, leader, pastor, boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, confidant, neighbor

It's true. Usually it's the people in our inner circle who betray us. This is because in order for trust to be broken, it has to first be established. Relationship is involved. It's the people that we have allowed ourselves to become the most vulnerable to that we are at the greatest risk of being betrayed by. Seems like a double-edged sword, huh?

When I think about traitors who we all know and love [to hate], I think of three men: Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, and Tiger Woods. Together these three men have literally betrayed what some consider to be the three most precious and sacred things we have: God, Country, Family. Why in the world would these three of all people do such a thing? Weren't they in pretty good shape? Let's consider it.

Judas Iscariot: He was one of Jesus' 12 main men and he betrayed Him. Why? For a measly 30 pieces of silver. In short - greed. As a result of his actions, shortly after the kiss of death that he gave to Jesus, he imposed one of sorts on himself when he committed suicide.

Benedict Arnold: He was a general during the Revolutionary War who began the good fight in pursuit of liberty from the surly Brits and later defected to the British Army. Why? Well, I'm not up on my early American history so please don't correct me if I'm wrong, but it's something to the effect that he was passed over for a promotion when others took credit for his accomplishments and it snowballed from there. In short - bitterness. As a result of his actions, he exchanged the pursuit of the American Dream for bad tea and crumpets for the remainder of his days.

Tiger Woods: He's the highest paid professional athlete in the world who likes the ladies way too much. Why? Your guess is as good as mind because let's be honest, Elin is hot and the pancake house waitress is not. And then there's the fact that he made a lifelong commitment to Elin to be a good husband, and she's the mother of his children. My theory - power. We're yet to see the long term effects of his actions but if his performance on the golf course this season is any indicator then I would say the outlook is rather bleak.

This trio is not exactly good company if you ask me, yet I think we can all learn a lot from their stories. Let's take them as cautionary tales.

As much as we may wish it weren't so, there are two big truths about betrayal. First, we are all capable of committing it. Judas was a disciple of Jesus. How much closer to the straight and narrow can one walk? Second, none of us are immune from it. Jesus himself was betrayed. Of all people throughout all of history that never, ever deserved to be betrayed, I'm pretty sure He's it.

Two wrongs do not make a right, Benedict Arnold. However he chose to "right" the wrong that was done to him by behaving even more deviously and scheming than the original Benedict Arnolds were in their actions towards him. More on this in a second.

Tiger. He speaks for himself. If anyone out there in the blogosphere under the influence of my bandwidth can't understand what should be learned from his choices, then let me know so I can pray for your cognitive abilities.

Ultimately, it comes down to choice. There is a breaking point in which the traitor makes a choice to betray someone very dear to him or her. Perhaps it's deliberate. Perhaps it's accidental. Regardless a choice is made, and as a result, things are never the same from that point forward. But the traitor isn't the only one with the ability to choose.

The person on the receiving end of betrayal is given a choice too. I feel like that essentially a person who is betrayed can choose to go down one of two roads. No, not the high road or the low road...that's too trite. Each road has bumps and blind spots. Each road is long. Neither road can be successfully navigated alone. Both roads provide opportunity.

One road is bitterness. The road of bitterness provides one with the opportunity to "get even" [if there really is such a thing]. Hardened hearts are also formed along this road. I suspect that there are potholes that would do a number on the tires. [We've all seen the commercial.] There are probably billboards with Benedict Arnold's smiling face all along the way.

One road is grace. The road of grace provides one with the opportunity for restoration as well as anything else we need even if we didn't know that we needed it when we started the trip. Ironically, the only thing that enables us to make it down this road is grace itself. Well maybe that's not so much ironic as it is fact. I am far too human to go this one alone and make it. Hearts are repaired along the way. Forgiveness is a learned act. In choosing grace, we learn how to pass grace along.

As far as the choice itself is concerned, it has to be made over and over again. Perhaps even on a daily basis if along the way we hit a spot that is about as exciting and fulfilling as a drive through Kansas. The choice that is the easiest and most natural ultimately results in a longer road. I hope so anyway because I have decided to make the hardest choice first in hopes that it will end easier. It's really the same concept as doing your least favorite chores at the beginning of spring cleaning or eating the lima beans that your mom puts on your dinner plate first so that the macaroni and cheese is more enjoyable.

I choose grace.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Late Bloomer.

I've always been a bit of a late bloomer. The first sign came in the 5th grade. I got my very first training bra not because I needed it but because of the social stigma that would have developed as a result of me not having one. What would have happened had I been standing in line on the way back to class from lunch and one of the boys reached between my shoulder blades fully anticipating a bra strap to snap and came up empty-handed? I might as well have been Carrie at the prom standing underneath a bucket of pig's blood. I didn't get my driver's license until I was 17. I was 30 before I told a boy that I loved him. My phone? It's a flip phone that can only be used for phone calls and text messages. Spare yourselves the extra charges and don't bother to try to send me a picture...I'll never get it. To celebrate the beginning of a new decade, I finally got DVR back in January. I believe that in his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell refers to people like me as laggards. In true laggard fashion, I finally just two weeks ago started reading Twilight.

Pause. If you've never read Twilight, I need you to immediately stop reading this post for two reasons. The first one being because you need to instead spend the time emailing me your address so I can overnight the books to you so you will no longer walk in darkness. The second one being that if you are a skeptic to this whole Twilight craze like I was up until two weeks ago, I don't want this post to change your opinion of me as a person. I do have a reputation to maintain.

So, what happened? Why did I finally cave? It was because I needed something absolutely mindless to read. Little did I know at the time that I would become one of those people. A Twi-Hard, if you will.

I blame the vampires.

How else would I have been able to read 4 books that are each well over 500 pages long in a period of two weeks? I should mention that I also worked, slept, met friends, went to church, exercised, entertained my dog, and lived in general during this time too. It's as if one is able to read them with vampire like speed and deftness. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that the average age of the intended audience is 15.

It's true. I'm a girl who loves a good love story just as much as anyone. I'm also a realist. So when I first heard the premise of these books and that the characters involved were vampires and werewolves, I was immediately disinterested. Blame it on the Thriller video scaring the bejeezus out of me when I was kid, but I don't really flock to the immortal or supernatural. That was before I knew that Edward was such a virtuous vampire or that Jacob wasn't actually a werewolf, but a shape-shifter. While it is a love story, let me once again bring up the fact that the intended audience is teens which means that it does not fall into the "trashy romance novel" category. Let's just consider Fabio for a moment. He was a model for the cover of romance novels and then later transitioned into being a spokesman for margarine. I can't imagine that anything featuring his biceps on the cover really has that much plot involved.

Out of the four books, I don't have a favorite. It's probably because I just read them all in complete succession. Perhaps it's for the best that I waited until they were all written because guess who couldn't even wait 4 measly days for Breaking Dawn to be released in paperback? That's right. Me...HP.

It's a sickness. I'm pretty sure that there is going to be a whole classification in the DSM VI devoted to people like me. People that I used to roll my eyes at and now I've crossed over to the dark side and joined their coven, or pack, depending upon which side they affiliate themselves with. I think this classification will fall under the category of "Freaks of nature who need to take up a sport or other hobby" in the manual.

I apologize. I'm sorry to all of my friends and acquaintances that I've rolled my eyes at anytime there is discussion of Twilight. You were right. I was wrong. Laugh all you wish. I'm used to eating my words by now. Unfortunately words aren't as tasty as people or wild animals. Just a little vampire/werewolf humor there folks. No need for alarm.

Which team am I on? As if there was ever a reason to consider otherwise...

Team Edward.