going home

Going home is weird. 
Or is it coming home?
I am never really sure how I am supposed think about it.

I grew up in Illinois. Most of the first 21 years of my life were spent there. So I guess you could call that "home" even though I now live elsewhere. I still love the feeling of exiting off I-90 onto East State Street. Turning left onto Perryville and looking around me to see all the changes that have taken place since I've last been there. Turning into my neighborhood and then eventually into my driveway to see the warm glow of the lights and heat radiating from my childhood home. Walking in those doors is still so familiar and never ceases to put a smile on my face. I love cuddling up on the couch by the fireplace or watching a football game with my dad or a chick flick with  my mom or just sitting in the kitchen while we take turns cooking meals and then eating them together. Or family game nights, those are my favorite. No one in the world can make me laugh like my family. 

I guess going home is really therapy for me. It is the place I can truly be myself. I don't have to worry about what's next, where I am going in life, who I am or how I am perceived. I am with those who know me best and love me at my worst. I am comfortable. I am content. 

But it is also weird. Because you have to run into those people that you have not seen in six years and have that same conversation over and over again "what are you doing now? are you married? blah blah blah" and then you have to ask the reciprocating questions even though, let's be honest, 90% of the time you don't really care. And part of you feels judged and insecure no matter how happy you are with your life, because it is not normal to be single and vote democratic. So you start to avoid these people and the places you might see them, and you begin to just hang out with the same three people over and over again (two of which live with you in LA).

So I guess there is always part of me that is excited to return to California. Where I struggle to pay rent and figure out my life and go on terrible dates and sit in front of a computer 40 hours a week. I mean, I have a lot of really great stuff going for me too (insert conversation about the weather), but life can be hard at times. Sometimes I think it would be easier to pick it all up and go back to Illinois where I am known and where it is comfortable and where eating hotdish every night is NORMAL, PEOPLE. 

But something holds me here. Because California has become home. Because someone once told me that home is wherever you are. So I make my home in a tent in Yosemite or in an orphanage in Chihuahua or in a hotel in Nepal or in a back house in California. Because location is not what makes something "going home" - I am what makes something home, and the people I choose to make company with is what makes something home. Where I choose to invest in community and life and love is what makes something home. 


Go NINERS - but please be polite

What is it about sports that makes people simultaneously bonded together loving people they might never otherwise interact with and complete asses?

When I wear a red San Francisco hat or t-shirt or sweat-shirt or beer holster (don't laugh, I ACTUALLY have one of those) people will stop me on the street to give me a high-five or a hug or talk shop or just smile and tell me how awesome I am. Because we are bonded in our mutual love of the greatest team on the face of the planet. I mean, it does not even make sense sometimes. I could be perusing online dating profiles and if a guy says that he is a 49er fan, I sometimes don't even finish reading and just shoot him a message. He could very well have admitted that he owns 47 cats, lives with his mother and listens exclusively to heavy metal - and I would look over ALL that stuff because he is a 49er fan!

But it also makes people complete asses. For example, my dad and I were desperately trying to get tickets to the game today. Granted, we probably should not have tired to get tickets to SUCH a popular game, I get it. But what was frustrating is that the tickets sold out before they even went on sale (figure that one out). But not to loyal and dedicated fans that wanted to actually GO to the game. To greedy jerks that wanted to make a profit. Immediately after the game sold out I went to NFL ticket exchange and there were OVER 6,000 tickets for resale and the cheapest ones were close to $450 for the nosebleeds. WHAT? Come on! Aren't we all in this together? Are you the same people that stop me on the street to talk about our mutual love of Davis, Crabtree and Willis and how we need to learn to score touchdowns rather than relying on Akers kicking? Why can't you sell the ticket to me for face value just for the LOVE OF THE GAME? For our mutual love of the Niners? It only seems right. We both bleed red (I guess that's actually true…literally and metaphorically).

I had a friend that went to the game last weekend, but as a Saints fan (I know, we can't all be perfect). But apparently he and his family were treated HORRIBLY by 49er fans. There were some Saints fans that even wrote in to the San Francisco paper about it. It got so bad that there are Cops that are going undercover as Giants fans today in case fans get out of control. And they are giving Giants fans cards with information on how to contact security in case they feel threatened. What? That's out of control. We should all be able to civilly watching a football game together. I know we have our teams that we love - but there is no reason to yell out to someone's teenage daughter "your mother's a whore" and then tell him he should not bring his daughter to sporting events cause it is no place for little girls. When did football turn into this? Those 49er fans SHOULD be embarrassed - lots of fans that have lost sight of the excitement of the game should.

Football, and any sporting event for that matter, should be about the joy and excitement of the game and the community it creates. When we let it get so out of hand that it controls our emotions and drives us to threaten or belittle someone else we need to check and see if we are being a fan or just an ass that is too wrapped up in something that isn't really as big as we've made it out to be.

Watch the game. Enjoy the game. But keep it in perspective.

And Go Niners!

Editors Note: As an addition - threatening Kyle Williams life after tonight's game, is ALSO a great way to prove that you take sports TOO seriously and are a terrible terrible fan. 


Kidney Bean Soup

I had a couple cans of kidney beans from when I was on the 4 Hour Body kick. I am still sort of on it, but I really do not like beans, so I am trying to find out creative ways to get rid of the beans that have been sitting on my shelf for a year now. So I decided tonight to get rid of my kidney beans.

I found a couple of recipes online but none of them were quite right, so I combine a bunch of the ideas and came up with my own soup.

And not to toot my own horn, but I AM AMAZING. you need to eat this.

Put some olive oil in a big pot (also, when i cook, i typically do not measure things, so all of this is just a guess cause I just started throwing things in a pan)
Add half an onion. Cook until onion is translucent.
Add four cloves of garlic.

 Add one can of broth (I used beef broth because that I what I had at home, but I think chicken or vegetable would work just as well)
Add one can of water
Add two cans of kidney beans
Add one can of diced tomatoes.

Add some chopped broccoli
Add some chopped celery

Add two TBSP of dijon mustard
Add some italian seasoning
Add salt and pepper to taste

Simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
Add some fresh spinach and cook another 5 minutes.

I put some avocado on the top as a garnish and it was delicious!


I am trying to figure out why I don’t like church

I once read an article that shared the top five things people confess or regret on their deathbeds and one of them was “I wish I were more authentic or honest about what I really thought.” That resonated with me because I think lots of thoughts and I don’t like to share them except with my very best friends because I think a lot of those thoughts I am not supposed to have.  Does that make sense? Well, maybe it does and maybe it does not  - but it is how I feel. But I’ve decided to think what I think and share those thoughts regardless of how I think others are going to react. So here is my first shot at that. I don’t like church. I know I am supposed to, because every good Christian girl does, but I don’t. Authenticity wins over perception. 

I am trying to figure out why I don’t like church. Because it seems weird to me. I grew up in the church, and I don’t feel any bitterness or resentment for the time that I spent there. And I really love God and feel I have a good “relationship” with God (although I struggle to know what a “relationship” with the divine actually looks like…but that is a conversation for another day). But I can’t figure it out. Maybe if I talk it out a bit and type out my jumbled ideas stream of thought it might become clearer (NOTE: that might make this miserable to read!)

Perhaps it is because people and relationships seem inauthentic. Church is supposed to be where you go to deal with your ish. To face a God that is both just and full of grace. To bring all that you are and say: this is me; the good the bad and the ugly. And what do you know? I’m not the only crazy one! There are others like me that struggle with this stuff but that are also beautiful and poetic and artistic and try to see the beauty in the world and make it a better place. 

The one time I can remember in the recent past LOVING church was a house church I was part of. We called it “coffee church.” Each home took turns hosting. If you were hosing you got up early, cleaned your place, made the coffee and opened your house up to whoever wanted to come over that morning. And what did we do? We chatted. About life. About God. About nothing. About everything. We got to know one another. We cared about each other. It wasn’t anything even remotely organized or resembling a “real” church – but it was perfect. I was more real and authentic with that group of people than I have ever been in an institutionalized church because we got to know each other. We were in a community which meant we were in each other’s lives outside of one hour a week on Sunday’s. We genuinely cared about each other and what went on in our lives. 

But that does not happen in church. In church – you have to have it all together. Don’t believe me? Bring a homeless person with you to church and see how everyone squirms. Bring a prostitute and see how much everyone whispers. Bring someone going through alcohol or drug withdrawal twitching a lot and see people anxious and kept back.

Everyone tries to keep it together at church – to prove that they are the best Christian. And when you go to the churches that are the kind of places you can admit that you are an alcoholic or sex addict or struggling with something it is almost a contest to see WHO is the biggest sinner. Who has struggled most and overcome it and has the tattoos to prove how far they have come? 

Or perhaps I do not like church because the worship feels inauthentic.

I have always gone to non-liturgical churches that are not exactly charismatic but friendly to the spirit and not afraid of turning down the lights, setting the mood and plucking at your heart strings with the worship leaders guitar. And for some reason that just gets under my skin now. I literally start to itch, my stomach gets nauseated and I start overheating. I am not sure when this reaction started and why, I just know that this environment is no longer conducive to worship for me. It is almost like I feel manipulated. 

In a liturgical church I know that it could still be seen as putting on a show since things are so programmed, but it does not feel that way. To me it feels like I am stepping into history, into a legacy, into a heritage of forefathers and foremothers that have gone before me. I am singing their songs and reading their words of testimony to the great God they sought to love and understand. I love that feeling of entering into a greater story. Of singing and chanting these historical words – it makes modern worship songs feel almost empty and shallow. I understand that they are not – and they move a great number of people in mighty ways, just not me…

Spencer Burke, founder of The Ooze and Mission Planting once said “sometimes to really love the church you have to walk away from her” and I think that’s what I’ve had to do in these last couple of years. I love God, a lot, and I have not lost faith in the church – I just don’t know how to love her and still be part of her at the same time right now. I don’t doubt that will happen again, I just have to be patient with the journey and learn something in the meantime. 

I guess that’s all I have for now…maybe I’ll process more on the church later.