Out of Commission

For the next two and a half weeks, don’t do anything exciting or interesting.  I don’t want to miss anything. 

Just kidding.  Your lives can proceed as normal.  Just wanted to let everyone know that I will be traveling for the next two a half weeks in Indonesia, so I won’t be around the blog-sphere as much.  I’ll check in from time to time as is possible.  Maybe I’ll get someone to guest post while I’m gone.  Any requests? 

So, until December 14th, everyone be super jealous that I get to spend a week in Bali!  Part of which will be at the UN Conference on Climate Change!!  Not only did I get into the conference, I also got a job there!  I will be helping document one of the workshops!  Oh! And!  I get to go out in the forest to stay in locals homes and learn about the effects of global warming, etc, as it affects the local farmers and fisherman!!  How cool is my life? 🙂

Advertisements

Yes, Thankful

So, while my Thanksgiving consisted of tofu and cereal, I do feel like I should update a little since Thursday.  My family convinced me to get up in the middle of the night to “join” them at their dinner via webcam.  So, at 2:30 in the morning, I sat at the head of the table in my parents house and watched my family eat all of my favorites, teased my brother about his new girlfriend, talked with my aunt from Albania about her daughter’s upcoming wedding, and watched my grandfather make silly faces into the camera when no one else was looking.  After talking to my family, I joined Kris via webcam and watched as he cooked.  It was a surreal, yet comforting feeling to be able to be a part of the mundane things in his life, such as cooking and cleaning.  I was up until 4:30am, but it was so worth it to join my family and boyfriend for Thanksgiving.  It doesn’t make up for not being there, but it sure is the next best thing!! 

 Also, I just want it to be known, I tried to buy a turkey to make for myself.  Does anyone want to wager a guess as to how much a turkey costs in Hong Kong!?  For a 10 pound turkey, which was the smallest size they had, it would have cost me $75 US!!  Unreal!!  So, I settled for tofu for dinner, and a cereal snack.  But, joy of joys, one of the Sisters from the church I work at is a Philipina-American.  She got invited to a Thanksgiving dinner for Nuns and Priests (how fun would that be?), and promised to sneak me out a couple slices of turkey.  Bless her little scavenger-heart! 

So, there is much to be thankful for.  For family, dear friends, health, beauty, community, tears, love…..

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.  You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to You and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever!” ~Psalm 30:12

Thankful?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Well, my tomorrow anyway.  And tomorrow starts in about 30 minutes.  So, you are still half a day away from tomorrow.  Which is weird.  Anyway.

 Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  My favorite holiday.  Ever.  I’m not kidding.  I love Thanksgiving more than any other holiday or gathering occassion.  Always has been.  It is in my favorite season and centers around two of my favorite things: my loved ones, and food.  Can a holiday really get any better?  I don’t think so.

And I’m not celebrating this year.  And its really sad.  Really, really sad.  It makes me horribly homesick.  Last year, Kris and I were learning to cook a turkey together.  I made two desserts, two casseroles and there were leftovers for over a week.  I love leftover Turkey sandwhiches with cold mashed potatoes.  So good.  No turkey for me this year.  Or mashed potatoes.  Or pie of any kind. 

Even if I wanted to have a feast here, in Hong Kong, the only two Americans I know here don’t eat meat.  Sad I tell you.  Not that I really have time for Thanksgiving right now.  It is obviously not a holiday that anyone here pays attention to.  Not just because it is Hong Kong, but because this city is still over-run by the British and they don’t take to kindly to a day that celebrates ditching their nation and all.  So, being British and Asian and everything here, there’s no National Holiday for Thanksgiving.  So tomorrow, now 20 minutes away, is just Thursday.  Plain, old, boring, busy, Thursday.  I will go to the office, probably eat rice for lunch, maybe a peanut butter sandwich.  I’ll come home and read for awhile.  The joy of my day – which will no longer be day at that point, but night, and no longer Thursday for me, but Friday – will be to get up at 2am so as to join my family for Thanksgiving dinner via webcam.  I’m coming to the dinner table in my pjs mom – hope you don’t mind.

But, even though there will not be any Turkey, pies, casseroles, or leftovers for me, I am still thankful.  The true spirit of Thanksgiving is being appreciative for what we have.  My favorite Thanksgiving memory was the year that my friends from college and I went to Atlanta where ALL of my family was already crammed into my Aunt Gayle’s house.  It had been a really rough year for everyone, and the spirit of the holiday overwhelmed us all with joy for the first time in months.  We laughed, ate way too much, took long walks in the brisk air, ate way too much, shared old stories, ate way too much, made new memories, and ate way too much.  My favorite memory of that weekend was one morning Brian was fixing himself a bowl of cereal, and my grandmother was talking to him.  He was listening to her, but had moved to get the milk.  She reached out and smacked him with her cane to get his attention.  Later, he came down to the basement where I was and said, “Your grandmother just hit me with her cane!!”  Typical. 

And it makes me think, not only is it my first Thanksgiving alone, with no turkey, but it also the first Thanksgiving without my grandmother.  Granted, I didn’t spend every Thanksgiving with her, but it is the first holiday since she has passed.  And that makes me really sad too. 

Sorry, I keep trying to bring it back to the fact that I am still thankful, even without the turkey.  And I am.  I really am thankful for the amazing friends that love me despite distance.  For family who will be gathering around a table and placing a laptop where I would be sitting.  For a wonderful boyfriend who lets me be crazy sometimes, and makes me laugh, and is teaching me to love in new ways.  For the opportunity to live in a community that is so welcoming and challenging at the same time.  For the women I work with, who make me laugh on a daily basis.  For the chance to get to be a part of a movement that is going places, doing things, making a difference in individual lives. 

So, turkey or no, even if I’m sad, I’m still giving Thanks. 

Thoughts on Identity, pt. 2

I’m from the South.  There is no denying it.  You may not always be able to tell from accent (though occasionally, I let the long iiiii slip out, much to my horror), but accent or not, I am Southern born and bred.  A big chunk of my identity is wrapped in that region. I grew up on the beautiful Gulf Coast of Florida, spent my summers at camps at Blue Lake in Alabama, I toured the Coke-a-Cola factory in Atlanta every summer with my aunt and cousins, holidays were spent driving back and forth to my grandparents home in the tiny town on the border of Georgia where there was still a traditional soda fountain.  I grew up eating fried chicken and macaroni and cheese, we counted summer days with watermelon seeds and sea-shells.  There was always family around, whether you wanted them there or not.  As I got older and went away to school, getting away from home was driving three hours north into Alabama.  I took a summer job as a camp counselor in the mountains of North Carolina, and even ended up at a grad school in Kentucky. (Which tries to pretend its not “Southern” by not serving sweet tea at all the restaurants, but really, who are you trying to fool?  If you have a field designated for the annual rodeo, and John Michael Montgomery gives concerts in the parking lot of the BBQ joint, you have the Southern brand.)  As far as the South goes, I’ve lived there – all over there.  I have significant experiences in every Southern state.  I always said that one day I would live outside of the South, just to see what it is like; now, here I am, certainly out of the South, and realizing that there are things about that place that I miss.  Things that are a part of me. 

I miss the hospitality.  Southerners may not get every thing right, but you can’t deny their hospitality.  The way they meet all of the neighbors with warm brownies in hand, or smiling or waving to people you pass by on the street – even if you don’t know them, the way the cashier in Piggly-Wiggly will talk to you the entire time she is bagging your groceries.  There is a certain charm to people in the South.  A charm that they don’t always carry well, but a charm none-the-less. 

I love the weather in the South.  I know, I am only saying that because its not August and I’m not driving to work in my air-condition-less car (believe me, been there – done that, too!  For six years I had a car with no air conditioning!!)  But I do.  Partly because the heat drives people to the beach, but also because I’m scared of the cold.  Silly?  I’m thinking of Denver as an option for my next move – the mountains, the culture, the West – it all sounds wonderful.  Wonderful that is, until I hear my friend Katie talking about almost being snowed in on the mountain, or see Beth’s pictures where she is already bundled up IN NOVEMBER!  Folks, you should just know, right now I am wearing capris and a tank top.  Its 70 degrees outside.  I love cool Falls, mild winters, brilliant springs and sweltering summers.  Its what I know.  And in the South, you never get snowed-in anywhere.  Ever.  (well, not true.  In 1989 it snowed in my hometown in Florida.  We got 2 inches.  The whole town shut down for 3 days.  But some how, I don’t think that’s the same.) 

Sweet Tea.  A staple.  I feel like I don’t really have to elaborate much on this.  If you are from the South, you know how Sweet Tea is necessary at all family and/or church functions.  It is a comfort to have a cold, sweating glass in your hand filled with the delicious liquid that runs in the veins of all true Southerners.  I have known many babies who took sweet tea in the bottle.  No kidding.  Which leads me to food.  Southern food is so bad for you.  Fried, deep fried, battered and fried, tons of sugar and an equal amount of cheese-covered items.  BBQ, mashed and smashed potatoes, casseroles, cakes and cookies. All of it is so bad for you.  But, it is SO GOOD.  And nothing like it in the world.

Also, it is where my family is.  Almost all of my family at that.  My parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, remaining grandparents.  Very few of us actually leave the South (its happened, but its rare).  So going to the South means going home to where I am loved, unconditionally.  It is where my history is.  And I love being able to share that with people. 

You like me! You really like me!

I know that I have slacked in my posting this week, which makes winning this award even more humbling.  And I promise to get back into the swing of things very soon.  In my defense, every day this week has been at least a 12 hour work day.  But, the weekend is here, the weather is cooling down, and I have at least 4 posts on reserve, so stick with me!  Now on the the award. 

 I was tagged by the wonderful Emily (one of two wonderful Emily’s, mind you!) with this award.  I know that it is just a little icon at the top of my blog, but it is amazing how the little things can have the greatest effect.  It was an honor to have my blog recognized by a gifted writer.  And her comments about my blog and my previous comment on her page were very kind. 

So, in keeping with tradition, I now pass on the rules:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to five blogs that make you think;
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme;
3. (Optional) Proudly display the “Thinking Blogger Award” with a link to the post that you wrote.

I pass this along to:

~Heather ~ I love the way she shares so openly.  I never know what to expect: a cute post about her beautiful boys, a tear-jerker of a poem, or thoughtful insights on Scripture.  AND – she responds to every comment EVER!  Fantastic! 🙂

~~~The next four recipients are four of 16 fabulous Young Adult Missionaries (YAMs) that I had the true honor of training with this summer.  We are scattered literally all over the world, but our bond runs deep and strong and I am so thankful for their community~~~~~

~Katie ~ She may not post as often as I would like (hint hint Kinne!), but she has a knack for finding fantastic quotes that have impeccable timing.  She also has some wonderful stories that will make you laugh and think at the same time.  Quite the talent this young lady.  Oh, and her pictures of Denver make me want to live there even more than I already did!

~David ~ You may remember my beardless friend from my last post.  I have used quotes from his blog a few times.  He is currently serving in Israel/Palestine and has a true gift for writing with beauty and grace the things he is experiencing.

~Abby ~ How I love Dear Abby!!  When I read her blog, I feel as though I am sitting next to her in the park on a sunny day, pondering the wonder that is life and creation.  She is finding what it means to be a part of true community in Grenada as she learns to haul in the nets and play the steel drum!

~Kerr ~ A true storyteller.  This summer, she kept us in stitches with her wildly hilarious stories.  Her blog shows her insightful side as she shares her gift in writing about her experiences in the Philippines.  I am always amazed at her strength and thoughtfulness.

 ~~~~~~

Honorable mention:

~Aristaeus ~ He really deserves a whole other award – he is not only a thinking blogger – but one who has pushed the “safe” thought boundries of so many.  Sitting in his classroom – wether that was in Flower’s Hall, or under a tree on the Green – I learned something more than just the great authors of literature or theories of philosophy and religion.  I learned to think.  I thought about what I was saying, what I was writing; where it was coming from, where it was going, how it was forming me, forming those around me.  He created a safe space to explore new thoughts – and even now, three universities removed, through his blog, he is continuing to inspire me to continue in my thinking, writing, learning and growing.  Sorry I don’t have a cool icon for you too.

“I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”   (10 bonus points for anyone who can name that quote without looking it up! 🙂

Thoughts on Identity pt. 1

Thinking about one’s identity is such an interesting perspective of self.  What makes me who I am?  Who makes me what I am?  Is it possible that the things that I think make me who I am, actually do not?  Being away from everything that I know, everything that has formed “me” up to this point, has allowed some time for interesting reflection.  Maybe the things that I have used to define me for so long are not really as important as I once thought them to be. 

Identity point one: Hair.  Aristaeus talked a little bit about this in his blog recently.  For some of us, our hair defines us.  Not in the Cousin It kind of way, though I’ve pulled that look for laughs in camp skits before.  But its really easy to say, “You know Liz, the girl with the looooong curly hair?”  Not anymore you don’t.  Ever since I was a little girl, my hair is what people remember me by.  Little old women in the church always come up to me commenting, “I remember when you were born.  We were all amazed at all the hair on your little head!  You had more hair on your head at a couple of minutes old than the doctor who delivered you ever did!”  Christmas pictures over the years cataloged my growth, not in height, but in hair length.  I didn’t have my first hair cut until I was almost ten years old.  And it was really traumatic!  Since then, I have never been the girl to get a hair trim.  I often go years without a cut.  When I do actually break down, the hair cuts usually precede a major event or move in my life and are really dramatic (think anywhere over 10 inches at a time).  And I never like it.  People seem to like the short hair, but I don’t.  I have “phantom pains” where my hair used to be, like a missing limb or something.  I vow every time that I’m never cutting my hair again.  Then four years goes by and I forget my promise to my scalp.  Before moving here to Hong Kong I cut almost 14 inches the day before I left.  My missing mane always goes to Locks of Love (a wonderful organization by the way, and if you ever find yourself with 10 or more inches of hair to spare, please check them out!!!), but even doing something good with my excess, I find myself a few hours into my new “do” with regret.  The day before I left, after cutting my hair, I had to go out a buy a hair brush for the first time in four years.  With the long hair, it was wash, comb, Sprunch, and go.  Now, my mornings go like this: wash, comb, let dry, brush, curse self for not having hair long enough to pull back anymore.  

<—-my nubbin’ ponytail

 It is an odd sense of self, I realize this.  And I am not just a head of hair.  Well, not anymore at least.  I know that its the thoughts of my mind, the actions of my heart, that make me who I am.  And yet.  And yet, knowing and believing that,  I still miss my hair.  I still miss the recognition it used to bring.  It may be vain, but if we’re being honest here, then its true.

My boyfriend has a similar unhealthy relationship with his hair.  I can say for the first time since we’ve started dating that his hair is definitely longer than mine.  For most of our relationship, it was always neck and neck, or strand and strand if you will.  And he loves having long hair – donning the nickname “Hippie” because of his long locks and full beard.  He also loves proving other preconceived notions of “long-hairs” wrong.  He is a manager of a restaurant, and very good at what he does.  He can be very professional, and is always polite.  (in public anyways! 🙂  He is incredibly intelligent and thoughtful, and it always throws people off guard when they get past the look of a man with long hair, and they really get to know him.  He loves to keep people on their toes.   It is a part of his identity.  It isn’t who he is.  But for now, it certainly is a part of who he is.  The same goes with his beard.  A piece of art, the pride of his face – he spends more time trimming and grooming his beard that most women do on their makeup.  One day, I got a phone call.  “Um, Liz, I have something to tell you.  I messed up.”  That’s a scary phrase to hear from you boyfriend of 4 months.  “I had an accident shaving this morning.  I apparently had the wrong guard on, and well, I don’t have a beard any more.  More like, chops and a partial beard.”  Its a look that we laugh about now, but that he was anxious to get rid of, because it wasn’t who he was.

<—showing off the perceptions that often come with our hair….in reverse:)

My friend David recently had to shave his beard.  He is living/working/ministering in Israel/Palestine.  Identity, physical identity, is a big deal there.  That is not a place to have something assumed of you because of the way you look.  So, under the suggestion of his co-workers, he shaved.  There were lots of pictures, condolences emails, and jokes about his baby face to follow.  But I would be interested David, do you feel your identity has changed any?  Do you miss that being a part of who you were? 

<—-reflecting on what it would mean to lose the beard, or praying…one of those.

My family as well, kinda has a thing for hair.  Pictures of my father in his younger years are hard to tell if he’s wearing a helmet, or if it is actually his hair.  A teenager in the 70s, he pulled the fro, maybe not always by choice, but just due to the fact that he has super thick, curly hair, and lived in the heat and humidity of Florida.  My brother has inherited the hair-gene.  He is 16, and there is the constant battle over cutting his hair, keeping it out of his eyes, etc. etc….My brother, much to his dismay, has found his identity not in his hair (though that is part of it), but in his height.  I think he probably tries to distract from how “freakishly tall” (his words) he is by his wild hair. 

<—A good shot of the curls, the mop, and my brother totally showing me up on guitar

 I really didn’t mean to turn this into a hair-post.  There are other parts of Identity that I wanted to talk about, but I guess I will have to save those for another post.  It is just interesting to me how much of my identity I have allowed to be wrapped up in something so physical.