Monday, October 31, 2011

Someone Else's Shoes

"Don't judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes."

This is a good saying. It's by no means a concept I've mastered, but it's definitely something I've been thinking about.

I also like the version that goes something like this: "Don't judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes. Because then you have seen things from their perspective... and plus you have their shoes."

However, I think the saying is wrong. "Judge" is too strong a word. Maybe evaluate. Or something like that. But anyway, a mile isn't long enough. Not at all.

Anyway, here's something you and I should have learned long ago: Be careful not to take what people say to heart, whether it be good or bad. People say stupid crap sometimes, and that's all there is to it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Year-Long Week

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity."
—Albert Einstein

Ol' Albert was a smart man. However, I have my own equally accurate version of that quote. In my humble opinion, anyway.

Here it is:

"Go on vacation with friends for a week, and it seems like a day. Spend the day throwing up, and it seems like a week. THAT is freaking relativity."

So why did I choose to preface this blog post with such a gross, awkward original quote? Well, because this week was pretty awful. It had some high points, but for the most part it was just bad.

It all started with the apparently rancid macaroni and cheese ate late Sunday night. And by late, I mean 2 a.m.

To say I woke up Monday morning feeling queasy would be an understatement. The events that followed are true, and I can prove it, since my roommate, unfortunately for her, was present for this awkward display of athleticism.

So here's some context. I sleep in a lofted bed, which means I'm like 10 feet off the ground. When I climb down the ladder, I always do so facing away from the bed.

Anyway, that morning I was just lying there, when suddenly I knew that in about 8 seconds, I was going to have some major problems. (In other words, I was going to throw up.) I'm quite serious when I tell you that I made it about halfway down the ladder when I realized I was going to spew half-digested mac and cheese all over the room if I didn't take action. Fast.

I super-man dove off the ladder, landing on my stomach on my desk chair. Thankfully, my trash can is located conveniently nearby, and I'm happy to report that 95% of the pesky digestive-system-escaping noodles made it into my little orange decorative trash can.

I'm sorry for that hopefully humorous, yet disgusting description. Actually, I'm not sorry at all. My roommate had to see it in person. Also, she cleaned up the 5% that missed the trash can. Thank you, Katie. You are wonderful.

Anyway, I spent the next 8 hours half dead and throwing up. I had to skip all of my classes, work, and meetings. Plus, I couldn't work on any of the enormous projects or studying I had due this week. I was so thirsty but barely had enough strength to stand up and go get some water. I ate nothing. It was just awesome.

I finally was able to sleep from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at which time I got up and drank some gatorade and ate 10 saltine crackers. I stayed up late because it took me forever to get ready to go back to bed. Also, I'd just slept for five hours, so I wasn't tired. So I wrote a horrendously depressing monologue for my acting class. I'll post that later.


The best part of this whole shenanigan is I had this assignment for my health class that I had to record everything I ate for three days. And here part of it is:

Day two:
16 oz. of gatorade
10 saltine crackers.

Yeah, that was like 200 calories. I lost like three pounds. My Prof. probably now things I have an eating disorder.

Anyway, the next day (Tuesday) I still felt like crap and could hardly function. That day was boring and horrible. I got a bad grade and was upset. I don't remember anything except staying up 'til five writing my massive communications paper.

Wednesday was the bright spot in the week. Instead of throwing up all day, I spent 6 hours studying for a wicked hard test. Upgrade, right? Also, I went to Panera and went for a walk in the rain. That was good.

Thursday was fine. The drudgery of that day was really just the norm. No cookie-tossing or fantastically disappointing grades. I just spent 6 hours studying and whatnot. What did happen today, however, was that for the first time in months, the scooter was stolen and moved.

I'm not sure if I told you, but about two months ago, some kids from the area took my scooter for three days, and I went straight up crazy. However, I scared the crap out of them, and no one has taken it since.

Yesterday was different. I stopped by a Prof.'s office to talk with him about classes next semester. The scooter was literally TWO FEET from my right foot. But when I leaned back out the door, the scooter was gone. I'm pretty sure I scared some prospective students when I stormed up that stairs, muttering about beating up whomever had taken it.

I looked around for five minutes or so, getting steadily more annoyed since I was now late to class. Turns out, Don Mink took it. If that name means nothing to you, that's unfortunate. All you really need to know, though, is he is part of the staff at my University. I mean, first students took the scooter, then little miscreant children in the town, and now staff? Really?

Best excuse for being late to class. Ever.

Today, I'm hoping for a better day. I'm glad this stupid week is almost over. Generally I wouldn't be one to use an entire blog post just to complain about my week, but this one just took the cake. It was necessary.

What I learned this week:
1. Never eat macaroni and cheese at 2 a.m.
2. Rain isn't always bad.
3. The scooter isn't safe. From anyone.
4. Einstein was right. This week seemed like a year long.

Peace out, week of awful.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who gets 80 dollar library fines?

I made a lot of amusingly stupid mistakes as a freshman in college. In fact, I may expand this delightfully entertaining topic into several blog posts. However, I'd like to start with perhaps one of those most ridiculous things I did. Or, rather, forgot to do.

It all started with advanced exposition and research. I had to write an eight page research paper, and I was very serious about it. I took maybe four weekends working hard to make sure it was an excellent paper. I checked out 13 books from the library, found countless Internet sites, wrote, re-wrote, and edited. I made the works cited list, designed the title page, and did spell check. I didn't forget anything.

Well, except for one thing. Somehow, I still to this day don't know how, but somehow, I forgot to return my library books. Some way I managed to forget about the email reminders that the library so kindly sent me. Maybe I figured I'd just return them when I had time.

I took my time all right. Those books were in my possession for over a month. Now, you have to understand. The library charges late fees PER book PER day late. Sure, I'm an English person, but I can do math. To my utter chagrin, I owed the library EIGHTY dollars and change. It's hard enough for me to pay for college without THAT.

What reason could I possibly give for my negligence? It's not like they didn't remind me. It's not like the books weren't sitting in a pile in my room every single day for me to stare at. This was entirely my fault, and there was no way to get out of it. Basically, I didn't know where I was going to get eighty dollars, and my parents were probably going to kill me. Plus, they'd just say that I was behaving irresponsibly, just like they probably thought I would at college.

So, I did the only thing I could do. I brought the 13 offending books to the library the last day before Christmas break. It was cold. My heart was even heavier than the books, and any trace of Christmas joy in me had frozen and gone into hibernation.


I walked into the library and set the books on the counter. "I—I have some books to return," I remember faltering.

The girl behind the desk didn't seem to notice my nervous tone and panicked expression. As she reached for the first book, I started to feel nauseous. How could I have been so irresponsible? Had I learned nothing in the past 18 years?

I looked up from the desk when she'd scanned in the last book.

I swallowed. "Well? How much is it?"

She looked at me. "How much is what?"

I paused, swallowing again. "My fine. For the books."

"Oh," she replied, looking at the computer screen. "Let's see..."

I already knew. I already knew. Just hearing her say it aloud would really send the point home, make it real.

Suddenly, her eyes left the computer screen and rested on my face. "Well, this is weird. We don't have any record that you ever checked these books out."

"WHAT?" My eyebrows shot up. "Well, I did. I checked them out!"

The librarian seemed unconcerned. "We've been having some problems with our system. It must have just gotten deleted."

I stared at her dumbly. "Deleted? So I don't have to pay a fine?"

She laughed. "No, of course not. As far as we're concerned, you never even had these books. Have a nice break."

I wished her the same and left in a daze. I didn't have to pay eighty dollars! I never had to tell my parents about this (although I did eventually.) I was so thankful for the library's system problems.

Her words echoed happily in my ears: "As far as we're concerned, you never even had these books."

My record was clean. I had no debt to pay. Thinking back on that, I can't help but relate it to my existence as a sinful human being who has found new life in Jesus. My sins were as scarlet, but He has washed me white as snow! Not only are my sins forgiven, but He has forgotten my transgressions. Just like my library fine, my sins aren't just paid for—they're covered by God's grace! Erased!

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." —Psalm 103:12

Expunged: to erase or remove completely.

Thank you, Jesus. For paying ALL of my debts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Weird Guy from Iowa (Part 2)

This is part two of this story. Before you read this, read part one.

        Suddenly, John felt like he couldn’t see straight. In that moment, he could feel his heart beating. His feet seemed stuck to the ground. Time seemed to have stopped. Everything seemed to be in slow motion.
          Everything except the pickup truck barreling down the road going 40 miles an hour faster than it should have been.
         All at once, with a force that seemed otherworldly, John was thrown off his feet, flying through the air—straight in front of the truck. Just as the girl turned in terror, frozen in utter shock, John clotheslined her in the stomach with one arm, making her fly backwards into the other lane and to safety. They tumbled onto the pavement.
       There was a loud screech as the truck came to a stop twenty feet away from them. The driver appeared to lean out the window, seeing they were okay, and then he drove away. Hit and run.
        The next thing John felt was pain. His knees were bleeding, and he’d smashed his chin on the road when he’d fallen forward. Ouch.
        The girl sat up slowly, her eyes wide. “Are you okay?”
        He shook his head to clear it. “Am I okay? Yes! Are you?”
        “Yeah, don’t think anything’s broken… except my phone.” She pointed to four broken pieces of iPhone that were scattered across the lane. “That’s okay. That conversation needed to end anyway.”
        After rising painfully to his feet, he followed her to the side of the road. She turned and offered him a handshake. “I’m Dana. Thanks for saving my life.”
        Pausing, John finally took her hand. “I’m John. Thank my biology test.”
        “It’s a long story. But if it weren’t for a missed soccer tryout, a late arrival to class, a failed biology test, and a subsequent walk to blow off steam about the coming bad grade, you probably wouldn’t be alive right now.”
         “Series of fortunate events?” she asked.
        “I guess they are now,” he said. John wouldn’t have traded Dana’s life for an A on that biology test.
        She glanced at his jaw, which was obviously scraped and bruised. “Come on… let’s go to the nurse. What did you say about soccer tryouts?”
         “I’m a transfer student, and I just barely got my transcripts turned in in time to get into college at all. Too late to come three weeks early to try out for the team.”
        Dana’s eyebrows settled low over her green eyes as she thought something through carefully. “My brother’s the only senior on the team. They lost quite a few players last year. Maybe he can pull a few strings with the coach,” Dana said casually.
         John stopped walking to stare at her. “You think so?”
         “Not making any promises, but hey, it’s worth a try.” They started walking again.
           In high school, John had just been a face in the crowd… the kid who played chess and sat on the bench in soccer. After working hard for years, he’d finally gotten to start at forward on the college team his sophomore year… and it was great until the whole cheating accusation had flunked him off the team and made him lose his scholarships.
          “Where are you from?” Dana suddenly questioned.
          “Iowa. I’ve already heard people refer to me as ‘that weird transfer dude from Iowa,’” he replied.
         She laughed. “Well, now you’re that cool transfer dude from Iowa who saves lives… and hopefully plays soccer.”
         With a smile and a glance at Dana’s bangs, which were slipping into her eyes again, John thought carefully about what she had just said. I think I’m okay with that.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Weird Guy from Iowa (Part 1)

I wrote this for a class. It only needed to be 1-3 pages, but as usual, I went overboard. So I just thought I'd share. Anyway, this is obviously part one, so read this part first. Any similarities of the characters and events in this story to real people, living or dead, or real events, past or present, are purely coincidental and unintentional. Enjoy.

        “I told you this was going to be just like the last school,” John said, pacing his dorm room. “I’ve only been here for two weeks, and I already want to go home.” He stubbed his toe on his chair while he was walking by, so he grabbed his foot and sat down at his desk chair, annoyed. “If only I could have gotten here early enough to try out for the soccer team.” He listened for a moment. “Yeah, sure, Mom. Sure I’m not going to be known as the loser kid who cheated, but now I’m just the loser transfer student from Iowa!”
        Suddenly his roommate Taylor walked in. John wasn’t sure if he’d heard the last few words of his conversation or not, so he said a few more words and hung up the phone.  Taylor just gave him a weird look and sat down at his desk to eat the slice of cold pizza he’d left randomly sitting on his closed laptop.
        John’s eyes drifted over to his digital alarm clock. It was 12:59, which meant—which meant he was late!  He had already been nearly 15 minutes late to this class—Biology 102—on Wednesday, so he couldn’t be late again! Throwing a book that probably wasn’t even the right one into his bag, he charged out the door, leaving Taylor with the last bit of pizza hanging out of his mouth.
        He didn’t want to run to class. It would seem weird to see the 6’3” transfer dude carrying a backpack and sprinting across the grass. Another student, a girl he’d met two days ago in the cafeteria, was walking toward him on the sidewalk.
         “Hey, John,” she said.
        “Hey Andrea,” he replied, happy she’d remembered him.
        “It’s Abby…” she called over his shoulder.
         John muttered an apology, kicking himself. “Always the wrong place at the wrong time… wrong name wrong person…”
        When he finally made it to class, Professor Bell was already handing out some papers. The class was unusually quiet. This couldn’t be real… When he glanced down at his desk, he came nose to nose with the words “Biology 102—Exam 1.” Under that was the friendly information: “This exam is worth 25% percent of your grade. Good luck.”
         In one moment it dawned on him: when he’d been late to this class on Wednesday, he’d missed the test announcement. He’d also failed to check his syllabus. Somewhere in the back of his mind he could remember the professor mentioning that they might have a test this week…
        Question number one: “What are the five kingdoms of living creatures?” Uh, animal, not-animal, and still-not-animal? I’m doomed. John was jealous of Taylor and his stupid cold pizza. In fact, he was jealous of anyone who wasn’t sitting here staring at this biology test that might as well be ancient hieroglyphics. He was going to fail, and that’s all there was to it.
        He guessed on most of the questions. After class, he tried talking to Professor Bell about it, but Prof. said he’d announced the test multiple times, and he couldn’t let him have a re-test. John walked out the door, dragging his feet. The two freshmen ahead of him were comparing answers and talking about how happy they were they’d studied so much for the test. John reached in his book bag and pulled out the book he’d thrown in there; it was his college orientation book, which was still book-marked in the section about time-management and keeping a calendar of upcoming tests. John planned to burn it later.
        A feeling of total dread settled over him. If he failed that test like he thought had happened, there was no way he could get a decent grade in that class. He was going to have to drop out of school, just like last time. Except last time hadn’t been his fault. He hadn’t really cheated; he really had gotten a 100 on that math exam even though everyone else failed. That was why he’d left—he just couldn’t stay in a place where everyone thought he was a cheater and a liar. Wrong place… wrong time, he thought to himself again. That much hadn’t changed.
         John was walking around campus to blow off some steam and forget about the test, and he found himself walking by the soccer field. If he’d decided on this college and filled out his paperwork sooner, he could have arrived early enough to go to tryouts. I would be out there right now, he thought to himself.
        Deciding to walk down the hill and back to his dorm, he neared the street. One car passed and then another. A girl stood on the other side of the road, talking very loudly, almost yelling into the phone she was clutching in her left hand; she held a few bags in her right hand. He watched her awkwardly, wondering who was making such a pretty girl so angry.
        “You don’t understand, do you!?” she was saying. Her bangs swung in her eyes as she began to cross the street. She made it halfway the way across the street before stopping to swing her bangs out of her face and adjust the phone on her ear. “What!?” she demanded in disbelief. To avoid dropping her bags, so took three quick steps forward, putting her in the middle of the lane.
        Suddenly, John felt like he couldn’t see straight. In that moment, he could feel his heart beating. His feet seemed stuck to the ground. Time seemed to have stopped. Everything seemed to be in slow motion.
        Everything except the pickup truck barreling down the road going 40 miles an hour faster than it should have been.

        To be continued...