Chinese Food Marathon

It started with Lotus Root Soup.

This is the kind of thing that happens when you tell your Chinese friends to order for you Chinese-style.

Next was a vat of spicy fish. It was followed by a beef dish that vaguely resembled something you might order in an American Chinese restaurant. What was the name of it? I have no idea. The entire affair was conducted in Mandarin.

Then, eggplant. Oh, eggplant. The secret of the eggplant has been given to the people of China. No matter what I do to it, it never tastes even close to the melting, heavenly delight of Chinese eggplant.

Next egg and tomato, which I have already learned to love.

All of these things are placed in the center of the table and someone ladles a generous spoonful of it into your little bowl of rice, wherein you work at shoveling it into your mouth with chopsticks. Well, I shovel.

The food kept coming. Shredded parsnip or potato – I don’t know but it was good.

Spicy chicken. In looks it resembled American Chinese but in taste it was so much better.

Bok choy! Always a favorite!

And last, dried tofu with bamboo shoots. Tasty but salty.

Chinese style means that you do not have your own “dish.” It is the best idea of the history of eating. Basically, it’s family style. Everybody reaching for another helping of their favorite, with rice on the side, dish by dish, until your stomach has expanded way past reasonable and your discomfort at last overpowers your desire for

one

more

delicious

bite.

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The Journey HOME

In yesterday’s roller coaster of anxiety, relief, and joy, I completely forgot about my blogging challenge until I curled up in my bed – my bed.  Priorities.

I spent the first half of the day split between getting to know my new friends and obsessing anxiously over road conditions and temperature.  It never even got to 30 Fahrenheit, but when I saw that the sun had melted the snow on the street outside, I wanted to take my chance.

I am ever so grateful to Mark and Sherry, my rescuers, and the warm, kind refuge they gave me.

There were a few icy patches getting out of their neighborhood, and lots of idiotic people walking in the middle of the road, but the main obstacle on the roads home was the abandoned cars.

I understand why people abandoned their cars.  Safer than trying to drive on ice and ending up in a ditch, or in the Cahaba river, like some cars did.  But there were way too many cars literally in the middle of the road, or sticking nose or rear out into the lane.

Still, people do what they have to do to get out of the way of danger.  I just hope all the cars’ drivers were/are safe.

Because of the abandoned car issue, one mile on the interstate took about 45 minutes.  We had to weave around cars and then wait for emergency services to clear a wreck.  I passed literally (literally, not figuratively) hundreds of abandoned cars.  The rest of my drive was clear, though, and I made it almost all the way home with no problem.

The last mile to my apartment is a downhill residential street that curves and is almost completely in the shade.  I got to the top of that hill and saw it was still covered in snow.  People were towing cars out of ditches.  I did not trust my Southern driving skills.

I had an option, though.  I drove about 1/10 of a mile in the other direction to my friends’ house, parked in their yard, and knocked on the door to ask them if I could leave my car there and just walk home.

Good friends don’t let you walk home if they can help it.  They’d already been down and up the road to my place, in their Jeep, and they’re Northerners.

I left my car there and they drove me home.

Home.

I felt like my journey deserved the most dramatic entrance ever, so I threw open the door and yelled “I’m HOOOOMME!”

Conveniently, “There can be miracles, when you believe” from The Prince of Egypt was blasting on the Bose, and my roommates obliged me with shouts and hugs and jumping.

We made chicken soup and sweet potato fries and brownies and I curled up on the couch under a blanket and we talked for a long time, like it had been ages since we’d been together, instead of 30 hours.

I love my cozy home.

I hope everyone can make it back to their cozy homes today.

home

Live from the Alabama Arctic

When I left for work this morning at 9:30, it was just starting to snow. A good, steady, powdery snow. I thought, how lovely, it’s going to flurry for a while.

Like the local weatherman, I was wrong.

The snow swirled around on the interstate instead of melting. Odd, I thought; when it snows in the South, it almost never sticks on the big roads.

I wasn’t at the school for 30 minutes before they announced they were canceling. I left immediately – as did every student at the huge public high school next door. The roads were already coated with snow. Turn left: an accident at the base of a hill. Turn around: more hills, more sliding vehicles, more accidents. I turned into a neighborhood that I knew meandered its way to a busy road that would take me to the interstate. If I can just get to a big road, it’ll be melted there.

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We weren’t even moving!

I’ve lived in this city for six years now. I know it’s hilly, but I never realized how every other curve is actually steep hill. I have 4 wheel drive (for once, I was grateful for the car I call Albatross), so I was doing ok…until I saw another SUV slide down the hill I was about to go up.

Ain’t no way, I thought, wondering if I was going to end up stuck in my car or knocking on somebody’s door to ask for shelter. I tried to go back the way I came…hills, accidents, abandoned cars. Father, keep me safe.

It was already nearly an hour since I left the school, and as the crow flies I was maybe a mile away. I was trying one last outlet, about to go down a hill, when a woman came walking up the hill and flagged me down. I rolled down my window.

“Don’t go that way!” she called. “There’s no way out!” She came up to my window and continued, “I just slid all the way down that hill, I was trying to go pick up my grandchildren; you can’t get out that way, turn around! ____ Road is blocked and so is ____!” Those roads…the only way I had to get home.

“Do you live near here?” I asked, my mind racing to find my last options.

“Yes, yes, just down the road there, I’m walking there.”

“Can I give you a ride?”

And so I met Sherry. We parked my car at the top of a hill near her house and walked down. She insisted I come to her house once I told her how far away I lived. She didn’t have to insist too hard.

She immediately made us hot cider. “We have a guest bed,” she said, “You can stay here if you need to! Mark,” she called to her husband, “I found the sweetest young teacher! She’s going to stay with us!” Then, “I’m going to make a pound cake! Do you want soup? I’ll make soup!”

It has not gotten above 19 Fahrenheit outside. From the warmth of Mark and Sherry’s home, with a fire roaring, I am watching the live news footage of the weather and the roads I had intended to take home. Complete gridlock, even on the interstate. People are abandoning their cars and walking to find shelter. A state of emergency has been declared. The National Guard is activated. Sherry and Mark’s children are stuck at their offices; their grandkids are stuck at school.

I know that all of you in the North are laughing at us and our 1-2 inches of snow. Yes, it is a laughable amount of snow. We never get snow. We don’t have the equipment or resources to deal with it in a timely manner, and we don’t know how to drive in it. Thousands of people are panicking, trying to get to their kids, and sliding down icy hills.

Yesterday I asked God to fix my car for cheap; he fixed it for free. Today I asked him to get me home safely. He said no, that’s not going to work. I’m going to send you to Sherry and Mark. They’ll take care of you.

If you’re in Arctic Alabama right now, stay where it’s warm, and be safe.

Trying to dance again

I am going to tell you a story.  It’s a short story over a long span of time.

I took ballet for nine years.

Of course, when I was wee, I wanted to be a prima ballerina.  That shifted into just plain enjoyment, trying to get better, working harder, dancing boldly on stage, wearing pretty costumes.

At the end of my eighth grade year, I finally made the Company.  I had been on pointe for a year.  My toes hated it, and me.  I loved ballet but I loved music more, and I had to make a choice: ballet several days a week, or music several days a week.

I chose music.  I quit ballet.  My senior year of high school I took again, at a different studio.  This studio was rather lax on technique and discipline, which was a major departure from my earlier training, but I still enjoyed it.  I did it for fun.

Fast forward six and a half years and I am attending Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker in 2013 with my best friend, Katie.  Katie took ballet longer than me (at a different studio) and we share the glee we get from ballet and also we commiserate over missing it.

We’re really close to the stage and I’m watching the dancers flit over the stage like they are lighter than air and I really, really miss it.  I was never that good, but I still felt like I could float.  I knew what I could do and I knew how to push myself, and I felt beautiful.

That weekend, I resolved: I am going to take ballet again.  I want to feel like that again.  I want to flit around and feel lovely.

And so I signed up for adult ballet classes at a very reputable studio here in the city and attended my first one tonight.

It was tough.

It wasn’t anything I hadn’t learned before, but, my body forgot how to do it.  Years of neglect.  Passés and pliés in the kitchen and piqués down the hall just don’t really cut it.

It was tough but it was fun.  I do love a good challenge.

And my legs are burrrrrning.

I think I’ll keep at it.

The End (or is it?)

Sunday afternoon nap

I think we all know what Sunday afternoons were really designed for.

Naps.

It doesn’t matter if you slept late on Saturday (I didn’t) or didn’t get up early to go to church (I did).  Conditions are always ripe for nappage on Sunday afternoon.

You’re full from a late lunch.  It sits heavy in your stomach, making extra effort a requirement for moving at all.

The sun is sinking lower in the sky.  It’s not dark, it’s just not bright.  Even she wants to nap.

It’s those last few hours of freedom before the work week.  They beg to be utterly wasted.

Do you have a long list of to-dos?  Too bad.  You’re going to nap anyway.

Did you drink coffee in an effort to get energy and stay awake?  Fool.  Everyone knows caffeine takes a break on Sunday.

Did you just write a whole blog post on Sunday afternoon naps because you want to take one so bad?

Some nights

Some nights your internet doesn’t really work, and sometimes those nights are also the days that your car doesn’t work (again) and sometimes that’s exactly when you’re starting to sit up and be less apathetic about participating in God’s kingdom. Is this really a coincidence? What it means at the moment, though, is I’m using my phone so who cares about word count, and I’m going to spend the rest of my awake time doing what really matters.
He is really good. He isn’t safe…but he’s good.
Good night.

Biblical Womanhood

What is feminine?  What is a woman like, or supposed to be like – as God designed her?

I’ve been asking myself this for a while.  I’ve never quite felt like I fit into cultural “femininity.”  Sometimes I’m even extremely put off by it – even “Christian” culture’s idea of femininity or womanhood.

So I took my questions to my source of truth – the Word.  I don’t have any over arching theories yet, and I only have a few pages of notes…but what I’ve found so far has been pretty interesting, and even surprising.

A woman to be praised is:

An entrepreneur
A leader
Productive
Good with her hands
A provider
Takes initiative
Physically strong
Generous
Compassionate in her actions, not just her words
Wise and kind
Earns a good reputation
(Proverbs 31)

Dresses herself well (also Prov 31) but not is not flashy (1 Peter 3)

Not afraid of anything that is frightening
Submitted to her husband
Precious to God
(1 Peter 3)

A crown of wisdom for her husband
(Prov 12)

Bold
(Judges 4, Matthew 9, 15, Luke 7)

Humble
(also Luke 7)

Well…chew on that for a while.  I’ll be back with more.