Mere Thought

Writers seldom write the things they think. They simply write the things they think other folks think they think. -Elbert Hubbard

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Location: Cyprus

I went fishing once. Um, I'm good at dusting. ...I think that all sounded more interesting in my head.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Cookies. They don't just happen.

Some of you are boy scouts, some of you were boy scouts, some of you scout boys. That said, all of you know to “be prepared.” It’s good thing, preparedness. I just wasn’t.

There’s a cookie store I really enjoy in downtown St. Paul. And don’t think you know where this going, cause you don’t. It is known to it’s loyal patrons as Doughey’s because when the old donut shop that used to occupy that spot moved out in 1986 it left behind a lot of dough in secret spots. Every so often at Doughey’s – to this day- you’ll be leaning with your hand against a tile on the wall and think “Hey what’s so squis- ARG!” and you’ll find dough is oozing out of the cracks onto your manicure. This has not affected the cookies.

I pulled up to Doughey’s yesterday dressed in my usual yellow jumper (known affectionately by me as the “electric lemon”). I walked in and ordered the build-your-own-cookie so that I could, well, build my own cookie. First you have to pick that animal you want it shaped as, which I’ve always thought was just a bit much. “Do you think I could maybe get it shaped as like a medical instrument instead?” I asked .
“Creature only,” replied the stern and heavily bearded man behind the counter.
“Um…ugh, I don’t know… Pterodactyl.”

“Not extinct.”
“I guess a newt, then.” (Newts are always my plan B in every life scenario.)
“Okay. What kind of sugar?” he asked without looking up from his order pad.
“Sugar?” I asked, “Really?”
“…Sweet cookie.” He said, I blushed briefly and then quickly remembered we were discussing my order.
“Kind of dried fruit?”
“Yellow. –er, I mean lemons. Make that an electric lemon, haha,” I laughed as I looked down at and petted my jumper, congratulating my self on being SO witty. He did not laugh, which puzzled me. I had probably forgotten to mention to him the name of my jumper.
“…and Type of Purée?”
“K. Sour or whipped cream on that?” Can you believe he would even ASK that?!

Without so much as a goodbye or a high-five he walked back to the kitchen to start making my chicken-topped lemon powdered sugar pterodactyl- ugh, I mean newt- cookie. When he came out with it I may have peed just a little (out of the pure excitement of it, I’m a lot like a puppy or a very old woman in that sense.)
“$1.85” he said after ringing me up. I took out my wallet. What? Why don’t I have any money. I sifted through six or so gift cards to Petco (it’s where the pets go), and about a dozen coupons for tortillas (but why?).

“I, uh….well, um. See, suddenly I can’t seem to find my money.”
His eyebrows lowered (even lower than before! How low can they GO?! And that’s when I got the idea of eyebrow limbo – but that’s for another blog). “If you’ll just let me run home and-“
“No home.”
“El-sa phone home,” I said and I reached out with one glowing finger.
He shook his head. “Fine.” I said.”…look. Say I promise you my first born?….seamonkey” I muttered the last part under my breath, thinking about my growing colony at home.
“PLEASE.” I pleased as a felt a tear well up in my left eye (the insincere eye.) “I REALLY WANT THIS COOKIE……please sir. (gulp). I built it. …..(in a muted whisper)…please.” His gaze softened and I could tell I was gaining ground. “Sir,” I went on. “Have you ever had to give up something you built? Do you know how it rips your heart?” His lower lip began to quiver and I really never do try to make people cry…but this we had a crier on our hands.
“I can’t just let you have this cookie. Perhaps an exchange?” He whipered, so as to repress his sobs.
“Listen.” I grabbed his arm. “What if I traded you a lemon for this cookie? An electric lemon?”

And that’s the story of me not being prepared. That’s also the story of why if you passed me the other day on I-94, I was naked. It’s not a pretty story. It’s a hard tale to tell. I got my newt-cookie, but I lost my favorite jumper. My point is, bring money because coupons for tortillas just don’t cut it.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Sun n' Fun [or Dodging Wet Wrinkles]

Summer is upon us. How do I know? Well, the sun is shinning, pants are getting shorter, dogs pant more, Starbucks doesn’t even stock hot drink cups anymore, and grandma has called me to invite me to her annual pool party. It’s like clock work, her call is. Just when the sun seems like its staying out too long to be true, she rings me up.
I never want to go. She’s been inviting me since I turned 12 – the age one can first handle seeing thirty seniors in bikinis (there’s really no good age for it). Try as I may, somehow I always end up over there. She’s a tricky lady.
“Elsa, come over. I made cookies!”
“Wow! Okay grandma!” I say on the phone
“…And don’t forget your swim cap.”
“Okay! Cookies and swim cap! …..wait.”
Sometimes I catch her.
Other times she’s more direct. Like this year, for instance. She called me this afternoon.
“Hello? ….Well hello there grandma!…Oh, I’m fine. Just fine…no, I missed Wheel of Fortune this afternoon…yes, a shame indeed…..did she?….Vanna White did what?… vowels? Grandma, there’s only five actual vowels….yes. a,e,I,o, and u….well, yes I suppose sometimes y, but that’s still only six…, I think you should write a letter!….at any rate…. AquaFest ’06? Oh, ha, is that today? It’s fun how elaborately you name it every year….what is the theme this year? ….hedgehogs, okay….
Heh….grandma- I….gra- ….ma-…see, I just don’t think I can make it…see, we just bought this mule…no, not a pool, grandma, a mule, and I promised mother I’d shampoo it…..well, it’s just a little soiled, that’s all….no, I can’t even

come later. The mule is actually a lot soiled…well, I didn’t want to tell you this, but the mule did roll around for a while in its own- ….yes, mules can roll…she’s a hybrid, you’re fine….well, I know you’ve never seen the mule, but I’ve never seen my senator, does it mean he doesn’t exist? You know?….listen. okay, grandma, there’s no mule…no..NO MULE...but I can’t come… its just last year was a little scarring, that’s all….don’t know what I’m talking about?….grandma, remember last year when Myrtle’s swimsuit fell off….and no one noticed?”
She’s a sweet one. But I was just busy this year. Luckily, we’re okay, because she invited me over on Thursday for fruit salad and she wants me to make sure I bring my water wings…-wait.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Buh-Bye Now

We have forgotten the word "goodbye". I never hear it. I never really do say it. -and why would we say it? We know we're about to text the same person we're leaving in an hour, or we'll call them later that night, or we'll sit with them in class the next day. It's almost as if the contact never ends.

But goodbye is important. I think you can tell a lot about how much someone values time with you by how, and moreover, if they say "goodbye" even when they won't be gone for long. Doesn't it always mean something when a friend finds you or goes out of their way just to say goodbye? I always feel like goodbye is saying- "I know I'll see you soon, but if for some reason I didn't, I would want this goodbye to hold us for a little longer."

"Goodbye" is closure and we need it. Even when it's a small matter. I think that's part of the reason everyone is so stressed all the time. Everything runs together into everything else- everything becomes one long interaction. Let's break it up.

This is something to practice. Maybe if we get good enough at forming the small "goodbyes" it won't be so hard when we have to muster up those painful, long-term farewells.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Welcome Back, Blog! (I hope you aren't sick.)

Oh, Blog. Where have you been? You’ve grown since January, you really have. And is that a new hair cut? Were you actually going for the mullet look? Promise you won’t run off again. I’ll never forget that day I chased you down the street. Me in my tennis shoes and you with a nap sack.

A lot of people say “Elsa, you never blog anymore!” and that’s true. But it is also true that Blog doesn’t return my calls. I can’t tell you how sick I got of always getting it’s answering machine.

“Hey, you’ve reached Blog. Sorry I can’t come to the phone right now because I don’t have eyelids. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can function as something other than a website.”

I was getting sick of it always playing the “eyelid” card, you know?

I don’t get sick that often. And I’d be lying if I said that my self-esteem wasn’t entirely rooted in that quality. I’m proud that I am able to withstand harsh winters, usually suffering only one cold. I often swallow just to note how non-painful it is (but who doesn’t?)

There are other folks, however, who seem to always be sick. I’m almost able to predict their cough cycle.

“Cough cough….chouuuuuuugh cough.” -Anonymous

Or else they start to say “Man, my glands are sw-”

“-swollen, we know.”

I do not resent these people. I applaud their financial contributions to the pharmaceutical industry, and admire their bravery in the face of such frail immune systems.

I do, however, have a small problem with those who try to be too brave. You know they type. They come to school with a fever, a box of Kleenex, and wearing clothes (usually sweats) that are trying so hard to say “I’m so sick I didn’t even want to shower. A water spout was just too much today.”

If nothing else know this: You are not being a hero by coming to school; you are ruining everyone else’s lives.

Somewhere in our schooling people were taught that they had to be strong and come to school despite the fact that they are overflowing with germs. That’s a lie you’ve been spoon-fed. Contrary to popular belief, the show doesn’t have to go on. The world will spin without your daily routine.

According to recent studies (a tally I took on the back of my class while sitting in Math), a sick student who decided to “ride out” their disease actually gets eight other people sick. Yes, I made that up, but it sounds fantastically accurate.

“Slimies” (sick who won’t ever stay home (is that name too harsh?)) also destroy the academic environment of school. My entire knowledge of the civil war is made up of something about Lincoln and a sneeze. I also don’t appreciate when these people expend our group work time on talking about their congestion. We're in the midst of a group discussion when they bust in with "It feels like a manatee is trying to raise a family in my sinues…”

Of course the group stops, is disrupted and I say, “Yes, but what’s that got to do with the Spanish Inquisition?”

I usually throw my pencil in disgust (and outrage) about the time they start comparing their mucous to the overbearing arm of Ferdinand I of Spain.

It's easy to joke, but whether you’re sick, or stressed, or sad: don’t be afraid to take a break. You need to. Things won’t come undone.

More often than not, we add our own gravity to otherwise simple situations.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I Had to Shower

“Elsa,” my grandma once said to me while quietly and tenderly flipping through old photo albums, drinking tea in her recliner, “where do you think the most drama goes down?”

“Well-uh-…I…drama? Don’t you mean knitting?”

“No, drama.” She replied.

"Grandma, I'm uncomfortable."


“Well then, I, uh, suppose …-the library.” I decided as I pictured in my head two women both named Nancy fighting over the last copy of Dr. Phil’s newest weight loss solution in the self-help isle.

My grandma looked up from her photos as if awakened from a bad dream. She lowered her bifocals, looked me straight in eye, peering into my soul, and said with an unfaltering voice. “Nuh-uh,” she scratched her chin. “It’s the gas station.”

“Like anyone could even know that…” I sneered.

Now I know. Now I know (purses and bites bottom lip while staring longingly up at the sky as if holding back tears)

I had to get gas early this morning. Usually I love getting-purchasing, that is- gas. “GAS!!!” I screamed like a baby with a new rattle as I ran out to my car this morning. Bundled up in my favorite scarf, gloves, and jacket- only the best for gasoline- I started my car and began scraping the ice off her.

When I finally hit the road, I was ecstatic. I pulled into my favorite station…but all too soon. “Yay!” I exclaimed as I drove up next to the pump, oblivious to the misfortune that lay just ahead. I popped the gas tank and got out of my car.

“Dang!” I noticed my gas tank was on the wrong side of the car, away from the pump. “Embarassing. Who forgets that…” I asked myself, casting my eyes down. Not wanting to look dumb to the woman pumping gas beside me, I opened my back seat and began rumaging through the contents as if I had stopped at this pump only to check something in the back.

After taking out a text book and a random blanket, putting them back in, and mumbling a couple of “Ok! There we go!”s I figured I had covered my blunder pretty well. That, or she may have thought I was running a small animal shelter out of the backseat of my car because I may or may not have said “That’s all the lettuce you’re getting for now!” I don’t know why I say that so much. It’s almost second nature now.

Anyway, after turning my car around, I finally proceeded to pump. I planned to pay about $10. With the nozzle pumping away, my mind started to wander as it usually will when given a walking stick and access to mapquest. I thought about carrots for a long time. Why are they always the noses on snowmen? You’ve got to be kidding me that a carrot is the produce that most closely resembles the human nose! They’re so orange and pointy. A potato, I thought would perhaps the best representation especially when placed verticall- “OH MY GOSH $9.95!!” I screamed in my brain. “Quick! Pull it out before it before you can’t pay perfectly with your ten dollar bill!!” Not realizing I had the pump locked so it would pump automatically, I yanked it out. Gas sprayed everywhere! All over my car, my shoes, my gloves…my polar fleece.

Regretting my entire existence, I dragged my humiliated self to the counter and paid. $10.07- UGH! This wansn’t anything I could fake my way out of by digging in the backseat, or running an animal shelter for that matter.

I walked into my first hour, out of breath, and very much flustered, still wearing my jacket. I sat down.

“Um…,” began Ellen, “Does anyone smell rubber?? Why does it suddenly smell like a garage in here?”

“Ugh!” said Dillion. “That’s an awful smell!”

“What IS that!?” asked the other Ellen with the utmost disgust.

Others chimed in and soon enough the whole class was in a roar trying to figure out the source of the garage smell.

“It’s me…” I mumbled.

“What?” asked Ellen (the first one)

“Look….,” I proceed to tell my tragic tale and how I was drenched in gasoline.

Of course the class laughed and high-fived each other with the kind of vigor you only find at lunch, including my teacher. They then called me “Gassy”. I consoled myself by convincing myself they were calling me “Cassie”…

“Is it on your hands?” my teacher asked. I looked down at my hand and saw a huge discolored white patch of skin.

“AH! …can I go wash my hands?”

After coming back in to the classroom, I found the clever French class had made another name for me…Eau D’Elsa. Like the French word for perfume….Eau D’toilette.

When the smell permeated the class and became simply too much to bear, my teacher offered me her sweat suit to wear which she uses to work out in afterschool.

“That’s nice,” I told her, “But no thank you.”

The whole day I was basically a Gas Fest ’98. Today was a good reminder, I think, for me to not take myself too seriously. I had no choice but to make “Elsa smells” jokes with the rest of ‘em. And really, how can we ever remember who we really are if aren’t consistently laughing at ourselves? If my day is too important for a little gasoline spill, then maybe I need to reconsider how I spend my days.

It was Bob Newhart who said “Laughter gives us a distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it, and then move on.” The gas is in the past now. Not just because I showered for an hour, but because I laughed.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Treatise on Time

The new year is I one of those times I believe our humanity is most clear. Happy New Year? We’re the only ones to whom that phrase matters.

Humans unlike the animals we share this planet with have the beautiful ability to sense time. C.S. Lewis wrote that humans are “so far above time that they [can] perceive time flowing past.” As I lie on the couch with my dog, petting his little head, I am completely aware of the passing of time. I can understand that something is continually passing by me although I myself am not moving. What is more, I can remember years past and understand that the reason I am not eternally dwelling in those memories is the passing of time.

I look down at my dog. His mind, on the other hand, cannot conceptualize time. He has no measure of how long he’s been on the couch. Whether it’s five minutes or an hour, he won’t have a recollection of long lounging naps in my lap. If he jumps down from the furniture we can be certain it’s not because he determined “Well, that’s enough of that.” It’s because he spotted his squeaky toy across the room or because he smelled meat coming from the kitchen and, living completely on his whims, abruptly abandoned his previous activity.

While I am consumed by time and my dog is too far beneath it, how refreshing is the knowledge that God exists outside of time? “All times are eternally present to God,” Lewis writes. Does he not work in a multi-dimensional eternity?

We are prisoners of time, make no mistake. It ages us. It measures us. And whether we are passing through it or it through us, we cannot control it. So, shall we use our human consciousness of time and simply sit back and helplessly comprehend and acknowledge it? No, we have a greater gift as humans still. We can make it count.

We can’t know how much of this precious time fabric has been entrusted to us or to those we love. We can safely say, it’s not enough. We've seen enough heartache and death to know. Why, then, do we perpetually squander time on half-hearted relationships, cheapness, drunken debauchery, and cruelty? Let’s use our unique grasp of time to really see its passing and perhaps thereby the dire need for genuine unconditional love, and unrestrained forgiveness in our time-wearied, broken world. I recently saw a t-shirt that read “Love God, Love People, Nothing Else Matters.” The truth in that! If we spent half as much time loving the loveless and feeding the hungry out of pure love as we do ignoring them, holding grudges towards them, how much more would the passing time count? If we put as much of this “time” into our relationship with God- the One who has so graciously bestowed, is owed, and desires more than anything, our time- as we put into our struggle to maintain our relationships with fickle friends, perhaps then…perhaps we would see that though we live within the bounds of time, we are constantly pursed by the Love that does not.

So, here’s to 2006. May we see how trifling our sad occupations are. And may we be consumed not by our obsession with our own time, but by Him.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sad Clown (Tapir)

Say, how's the weather?

So I look out the window to brighten my soul, but I can't control

the rain

that keeps fallin'.

Smile on the outside... it never comes in.

Comedy, mystery, irony, tradgedy

so I scream, "Let the show begin!"

You break me open.

Turn on the light , stumble inside with me.

Do I entertain you?

Do I preoccupy you my wit to cover this lie?

Are you mezmorized?

Do you think me faithful?

Do you think me a clown?

I picked out this shirt, put on this hat, wore all this paint

just for you.

You break me open. Turn on the light, stumble inside with me.