April 20, 2007

Evil Evil Universe

I think the universe wants my bobby pins.

Let me explain.

Have you ever noticed that your socks disappear when you use the dryer? You put an even number of socks in the dryer and, upon completion of the drying process, an uneven number of socks come out of the dryer. Have you ever wondered why this is?

It's because the dryer wants your socks.

Similarly, the back yard wants the dogs' chew toys. The dishwasher wants all my favorite spoons. The under-bed wants my shoes. The couch wants my car keys. The couch also wants my money. You get the picture.

Well, the universe wants my bobby pins. I can't even count how many bobby pins I've bought over the last few months. Last time, I bought a jumbo pack. It contained about 200 bobby pins. That's a lot of bobby pins. Well, they're all gone. Yesterday, I needed two bobby pins. However, in my entire house, I could only find one bobby pin. What use is one measly bobby pin? I found myself in utter disbeleif, and then it hit me.

The universe wants my bobby pins.

Maybe I should switch to paperclips or duct tape or rubber cement. I just need something to hold my hair back, and bobby pins are no longer the answer.

March 23, 2007


I'm eating lunch right now. Sushi. I love it. I haven't written here in a super duper long time. I'll give a little life update.

There's a boy. His name is Andrew and we've been "official" since August. It's been almost 8 months. This is my longest relationship ever, and I'm very happy.

I'm finally working with dogs. I've always wanted to, in fact a little over year ago I wrote a blog about my dreams and aspirations. Well, I finally got off my butt and started doing something to realize my dreams. In January, I started working at SafeHaven Humane Society in Albany. It was a huge pay cut, I had to work 2 jobs to support myself, and I had to commute, but I didn't care about any of that. I was taking the first step toward realizing what's been my dream for a long time. When I was a little kid, I decided that when I grew up I wanted to be just like a lady named Carol Alipaz, who was and still is a close family friend. She always had swarms of dogs at her house, and it always made me happy. Ever since then, I've wanted to work with dogs.

Well, last week I scored an even better dog job. I didn't think I had much of a chance, but I went ahead and applied to be the Assistant Dog Trainer at Field of Dreams, a kennel not far from my house in Sweet Home. A few days later, I got a call back. When I went in to meet Kirsten, she hired me on the spot. I had to quit my job at SafeHaven, which is sad, but this job has a lot more potential for growth. Plus, it pays a little more. I wish money didn't have to be a factor, but it is. I imagine you want to know why. Let me explain.

Last fall, I moved in to a house with two girl friends. It was great, for a while. However, in January (completely out of the blue), one of my roommates decided that her parents couldn't pay her rent anymore. I was stuck in a huge pickle. I had just taken a huge pay cut to work at SafeHaven, and I couldn't afford to pay more rent. In the end, I decided to suck it up and get out of that situation as fast as I could. The details are unimportant at this point, but I found a little house in Sweet Home that allowed dogs and that I could (kindof) afford on my own. The rent is $200 more than what I was paying, which sucks, but now I don't have to deal with roommates flaking out on me ever again.

Anywho, I moved in to my new house on February 1st. Why in Sweet Home? Because finding a house within a matter of weeks that allows dogs and that I can afford on my own is very, very difficult. So I live in Sweet Home now. And my new job at Field of Dreams is only 8 minutes from my house, which is amazing because I was commuting every single day. I'm still working in Eugene 2 days a week, but I drive down Thursday morning, spend the night on the couch at my parents', and drive back up Friday night. So now, I'm only commuting once a week, except for when I'm driving to and from Andrew's house in Corvallis.

If you're unfamiliar with the area, here's a simple way to look at my commuting. Sweet Home, Eugene, and Corvallis are basically like 3 points on a triangle, and the distance between each point is about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

So now I'm working 7 days a week, about 50-60 hours. Hopefully, I'll be able to quit my job in Eugene soon. We'll see. I'm not jumping in to that because I really need to make as much money as I can right now. I'm busting my bum doing it, but I'm doing it.

You might be wondering about school. I'm still in college. Kindof. I'm taking 1 class a term. I'm taking the slow track right now, but I don't really have a choice. I'm okay with that.

What else? Oh, we got a new dog. Andrew and I went to the Humane Society in Corvallis one Friday afternoon in January, and we came home with a puppy. Her name was originally Natasha, but we changed it to Brooke. Her estimated birth date is August 15th, which is the day after Andrew and I started dating. She's part German Shepherd and part Bernese Mountain Dog. He paws are huge, and she's probably going to weigh over 100 pounds. Brooke's almost 8 months old now, and she's super cute.

Brooke and Henry are getting along pretty well. Henry had to get used to not being the only child anymore, but he's adjusting. Sometimes he's a little grumpy, but he's 8 1/2 now and becoming more and more of an old man. He's old for his age, and I know his joints hurt sometimes. Henry likes having the company of a little sister, though. I love it when they curl up together in my backseat. I love having 2 dogs.

Basically, I'm pretty much just at a good place. Very busy right now and money is ridiculously tight, but I'm doing what I can. I'm going places, and I'm doing what I love. At the end of the day, I'm always tired but I can't believe how blessed I am.

Olive juice.

September 11, 2006

Random Acts of Kindness

Random acts of kindness. Random compliments. They’re the best, because they’re completely unexpected and they catch you utterly off guard.

One of those happened this morning, when I was in line at the Safeway in Corvallis buying some groceries for Andrew. It was one of those uber long Safeway lines where everybody’s completely silent, secretly waiting for someone to start a conversation so they can eavesdrop, thus occupying their idle minds as they wait for the slowpoke in front of them to pay for their ginormous cart full of groceries.

Suddenly, the kind-looking, wrinkly-faced old man in front of me turned around and said, “Has anyone told you today how pretty you are?” Naturally, I didn’t know what to say. My face turned some deep shade of red as I looked around desperately for some distraction to take the attention off of me. Everybody’s ears perked and they smiled at the kind gesture, almost as if the little old man had complimented them as well. After a moment of silence, he spoke up again. “Well, then, let me be the first to tell you today that you are very pretty.”And that was it.

The dozen-or-so people who had been within earshot of the man’s comment found themselves with pleasant smiles on their faces, all because this one little man randomly complimented the person standing behind him in line. He made the world around him a little better. It didn’t cost him anything, he didn’t have to go out of his way more than the step-and-a-half it took to turn around and speak to me.

So I drove back to Eugene and when I checked my email at work, there was one message that stood out from all the rest. It was a simple two-liner from my grandparents, who live in Texas. It read quite simply, "Melly... We love you. You are wonderful. You are so neat, so fine, so fun that you drive us crazy. Your devoted fans, Sab and Soft." So little, yet so much.

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? You do what you have to do every day – you take out the trash, you go to work, you make the bed, you wash the dishes, but it’s all for nothing if you’re not making something better. If you’re not taking the little seemingly insignificant spot in the world you’ve been given, and making it more bearable. Even if it’s only the smallest thing, somebody will notice and your presence will have made a difference in somebody’s day.

People do nice things for each of us every day; our only duty is to pass it on. That’s what it’s all about. Pass it on.

September 08, 2006

Third Culture Kids

A friend of mine posted this, so I thought I'd post it too. It's about third culture kids, and it's very, very true.

"What is a third culture kid?" you say. Well...

A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents' culture. The TCK builds relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the third culture kid's life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of the same background, other TCKs.

You know you're a TCK when:

• "Where are you from?" has more than one reasonable answer.

• You've said that you're from some foreign country, and your audience has asked you which US state said foreign country is in.

• You flew before you could walk.

• You speak two languages, but can’t spell in either. [I don't have this problem, but many TCKs do.]

• You feel odd being in the ethnic majority.

• You have at least three passports.

• You go into culture shock upon returning to your "home" country.

• Your life story uses the phrase "Then we moved to..." three (or four, or five, or twenty...) times.

• You wince when people mispronounce foreign words.

• You don't know whether to write the date as day/month/year, month/day/year, or some variation thereof.

• The best word for something is the word you learned first, regardless of the language.

• You get confused because US money isn't color-coded.

• You think VISA is a document that's stamped in your passport, not a plastic card you carry in your wallet.

• You own personal appliances with 3 types of plugs, know the difference between 110 and 220 volts, 50 and 60 cycle current, and realize that a trasnsformer isn't always enough to make your appliances work.

• You fried a number of appliances during the learning process.

• Half of your phone calls are unintelligible to those around you.

• You believe vehemently that football is played with a round, spotted ball.

• You consider a city 500 miles away "very close."

• You cruise the Internet looking for fonts that can support foreign alphabets.

• You think in the metric system and Celsius.

• You may have learned to think in feet and miles as well, after a few years of
living in the US.

• You're constantly very tempted to haggle with the checkout clerk for a lower price.

• Your minor is a foreign language you already speak. [Major, in my case... hehehe]

• When asked a question in a certain language, you absentmindedly respond in a different one.

• You miss the subtitles when you see the latest movie.

• You've gotten out of school because of monsoons, bomb threats, and/or popular demonstrations... but never a snowstorm.

• You speak with authority on the subject of airline travel.

• You know how to pack.

• You have the undying urge to move to a new country every couple of years.

• The thought of sending your kids to public school scares you, while the thought of letting them fly alone doesn't at all.

• You think that high school reunions are all but impossible.

• You have friends from 29 different countries.

• You sort your friends by continent.

• You constantly use the time zone map in your cell phone.

• You realize what a small world it is, after all.

Maybe you understand me a little bit better now.

August 03, 2006

Loving the Wrong Person

So I just got back from leading a bunch of middle school boys through the low ropes course here at Camp Arrah Wanna, and sitting next to my computer is a random, but interesting-looking book called Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe, by Andrew Boyd. Intrigued by the title and excited about my unsuspected find, I picked it up and started reading.

The pages are filled with slightly twisted views on life, love, politics, religion, et cetera. I found one page particularly interesting, so I thought I'd share it with cyberspace.

Loving the Wrong Person

We're all seeking that special person who is right for us. But if you've been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there's no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way.

But it takes a lot of living to fully grow into your wrongness. It isn't until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems - the ones that make you truly who you are - that you're ready to find a life-long mate. Only then do you finally know what you're looking for. You're looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person - someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, "This is a problem I want to have."

I will find that special person who is wrong for me in just the right way.

It's weird that I came across this, because it's very much along the lines of what I've been pondering for the last several days. How funny.

But for now, my feet are practically black from dirt. Literally. I need to go take a shower, because the talent show is tonight and we, the Pro Crew, get all dressed up for it. The guys even got suits at the thrift store. Rather tacky suits, but alas, therein lies their awesomeness.

Tucker out!

July 09, 2006

I think tonight I'll take the long way...

It's Sunday night. Guess how I spent my weekend? At the office. I worked 12 hours yesterday, and 10 hours today. Lame. "Dear Mel, why are you suicidal?" you ask. I'm not. I actually worked those insane hours on purpose, so that I can go to California next week. Just me, my new car, Bristow the iPod, and friends to visit. Why? Because you're only young once and... becuase I can!

One day, I'll be tied down with husband, children, dogs, and various other pets. Right now, I'm tied down with none of the above. Henry, my lovable 8-year-old lab, is still partly my parents' for now. Well, he's my dog but we live with my parents. Hopefully, in the fall, I'll move out and take him with me. At which point, I will have officially begun the tying-down-for-life process. Yippee! I'm all about new stages in life, but I just so happen to be avoiding them until the end of the summer.

Anywho. The cool thing about my work is that our office building is snuggled right up between the University of Oregon campus and the Willamette River. It's a wonderful place, especially when it's not raining. This is because dry ground tenderly echoes the names of my rollerblades, until they find their way out of my trunk. Which, by the way, happens to be where they permanently reside – just in case a percipitation-free day should come along.

Along both sides of the river are wonderfully picturesque paved pathways, ideal for the avid rollerblader.

Just to be clear, I call myself an avid rollerblader because I enjoy rollerblading, not because I particularly thrive on the extreme whatnots that can be done on eight small wheels. I rather dislike excessive amounts of speed, and coincidentally the hills that produce said speed. As a result, I've spent my entire life searching for ideal locales to fulfill my rollerblading needs.

Switzerland was generally not so great. We lived atop a huuuuuuuuge hill, which was surrounded by more huuuuuuuuge hills. However, a 10-minute walk placed you at the Neuchâtel Lake, which was more or less perfect. I loved rollerblading around the lake, but I always felt like an idiot walking down to the lake with my rollerblades in tow. However, as a result of walking down said hills, I am still alive. The painful events that I avoided simply by walking instead of risking my life... Let's just say that, even as a 9, 10, 11, and 16-year-old, I was obviously already extremely intelligent.

Africa was pretty much horrible for rollerblading. We had the Petit-Poteau court and, in later years, the gym but I can only rollerblade in circles for so long. I can only do anything in circles for so long before I crave unbounded freedom. Unfortunately, most of the roads in Africa were made of dirt. Where there was a paved road, it had no sidewalk... and besides, the paved road was surrounded on all sides by dirt roads. Dirt and rollerblades are not friends, this I know. And so, my rollerblades stayed in the closet, along with my rather varied and colorful collection of cheap shoes from the African marketplace.

Oh, wait! How could I forget? Our house in Africa had marble floors. Let me tell you, marble floors are OPTIMAL for rollerblading. That house was wonderful. There was many a rollerblading day spent in that house. Oddly enough, my mother highly encouraged my house-rollerblading ventures, which may give you an insight as to why I yam as carefree, adventurous, and uninhibited as I yam.

So then we moved to Eugene. As of July 3rd, we've been back in America for 4 years. In some ways, it feels like it's been that long; in some ways, it doesn't. But that's an entire 'nother subject. I'm talking about rollerblading here, don't get me off track!

Not too long after moving here, I discovered the glorious afore-mentioned riverside pathway. Long story short, I saved up my money, bought myself some nice rollerblades 2 or 3 years ago, and my life has never been the same since. The pathway has been mucho improved upon since I first began my Eugene Rollerblading Adventures, and it has now become the perfect place for me and my rollerblades to thrive. It is our haven. Our sanctuary. Do you like how I refer to me and my rollerblades as a plural? This is because, when I strap them on my ever-waiting feet, we become one. We become synonymous. What? Who are you talking to – me or my rollerblades? Because we're both listening.

You're probably wondering why I sound like a freak right now.

Well, around 7:30 tonight, I decided to take a break from work and go out on a rollerblading venture. It was the most refreshing thing I've done in a long time. It had been way too long since my wheels had met those particular stretches of pavement, those particular bridges, those particular leaves which ever-so-cunningly tried to make me slip. I even went full speed down "the hill," which in itself is an accomplishment of unequivocal grandeur.

I cleared my head, I recharged my batteries, and now I feel like I can take on the world.

But first, I have to pack for California. Because it's midnight, I'm leaving in the morning, and I still have laundry to do. And I have to get a restful night's sleep, because there will be no one in the car to keep me awake should I begin to nod off from Driver's Fatigue tomorrow.

In short, I should stop rambling and get my stuff done so I can hit the sack. Goodnight, and sweet dreams. May they be filled with rollerblading wonders!!

July 04, 2006

Cold Schmold

I have officially decided that cold weather is NOT where it's at. But like most things with me, there's a back story that makes this epiphany all the more groundbreaking.

When I was a little kid in good 'ole Fresno, California, my brother and I saw snow once a year. It was wonderful. Right around Christmas every year, we would pile in the car and drive to the mountains for an afternoon of playin' in the snow. We would throw snowballs, we would make snow angels and snow men, but by far my favorite was the discovery of yellow snow. Once I figured out that even I could make yellow snow, it became one of the great highlights of my year. If you know me very well, you probably know that I'm not exaggerating.

When I was 9 years old, we moved to Switzerland for a year and a half to learn French. I probably don't need to tell you about my snowful activites there; after all, it's Switzerland. Swiss Alps, Saint Bernards, yodeling. It was great. I learned how to ski, I learned how to ice skate... I learned how to do most anything you can do with snow and/or ice.

Then we moved to West Africa. Not much snow there, as you can probably imagine. I became acclimated to the heat, and an 85º morning during the rainy season called for a plethora of clothing layers. After almost eight years of that, I somehow yearned for colder weather. Oh, how I missed miles upon miles of whiteness blanketing the landscape. I yearned for igloos and bright pink snow boots. But alas, such things did not exist in our parts.

I made a vow to myself that I would appreciate every minute of cold winter weather once I returned to America. * Note to self: That was stupid and naïve. Never again shall I make such a vow. *

Today is the 4-year anniversary of my family having returned to the States. I still feel unsettled and restless, but I mostly feel that way during the winter. Granted, Eugene isn't the coldest place in the world, but compared to Africa it can get pretty flippen cold. The weather has been warmer the last few weeks, and I'm starting to feel more at home. More comfortable in my skin, because my skin isn't brittle from frozenness.

My problem is that once my core temperature dips below a certain level, it can take weeks – nay – even months, to bring it back up. This results in seemingly endless spells of misery as the pain of the cold kills me slowly from the outside in. If you've spent much time with me, you've probably heard me scream "OWWWWW!!!!" a time or two in reaction to something cold. That's because the feeling of cold is a painful one to me, not in a typical achey or stingy kind of way, but in a cold kind of way.

I'm sorry, Cold. I tried to like you. I even tried to love you. I missed you when I didn't have you, but now I realize that not having you was the best thing that ever happened to me. I think we should start seeing other temperatures. I'm going with the warm to hot range, you can have the other ones.

Bottom line, cold is overrated. The end.

June 29, 2006

Best Friends

It's been a couple of months since I posted anything on here. Yikesville. I'd say sorry, but you probably don't acutally care that much, which is cool with me.

So I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately, mostly because I went from having very few close friends to having the most amazing close friends in the world. At the beginning of Spring term (April), I was a little (a lot) bummed out because everybody seemed to have their special someones. And I'm not just talking about boyfriend/girlfriend special someones – I'm also talking about best friend someones. Everybody had somebody. But not so much for me.

The only best friend I've ever had was Analicia, when my family came back to America for a year when I was in 7th grade. She was Licia Carter and I was Mela Richardson, because we were married to Nick Carter and Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys. We had so much fun together, and my world came crashing down and broke into a million pieces when I had to move back to Africa in August of 1999.

I never had a best friend before Analicia, and I'd never had one since... until Holly came along. Holly and I like to take random roadtrips, because the road is where we became best friends. She's my dancing buddy, my future roommate, and she's the person I call at 2am when something outrageous happens that I can't deal with on my own.

I also have a #2 best friend, Sean Pimp Daddy. I don't remember exactly how we became "#2 best friends," all I remember is that we were in the bathroom at his house on my 21st birthday, and he was shaving his head when we decided to make that each others' title. I didn't even know him that well at the time, but that's what we call each other now. Literally. "Hiiiii, #2 Best Friend..." is how many a phone message will begin. I've never had an actual #2 best friend before, so I guess Sean is unique in that way.

And of course, there's Jenna. She always has the most amazing advice, and she always encourages me in my faith. Without Jenna and Holly holding me accountable and holding me up, I don't know where I would be. Two amazing women of God, and I love them.

Probably the most unexpected person for me to list here is Socorro. She and I were two of the eight summer interns working for Students International last summer. I honestly do not understand how she became one of my best friends. She spent the entire summer irritating me to no end – in all honesty, I would sometimes even sleep in my media office just to have some time away from her. And trust me, it was a two-way street because I annoyed the heck out of her sometimes, too.

Sock and I have less in common than anybody I've ever met in my life. But somehow, she's managed to challenge me in more ways than any other friend ever has, largely because she's frustrated me more than all those other friends combined. We're polar opposites, in the most radical ways possible. Nevertheless, she continues to help me grow and she constantly challenges me in my friendships and in my Christian walk. She's the person that I can't live with, but for some reason I can't live without.

I could write about friendship for hours, but that would get long and boring and I probably wouldn't find a way to make my point very clearly anyway. So I'll finish it up with a MySpace message that Analicia sent me the other day. It seriously almost made me cry, I'm not even kidding. Speaking of crying, I saw the movie Eight Below the other day, and I cried like a baby. My brother gasped, jumped up, and wrote on the kitchen calendar, "Melt cried during movie!"

But anyway, the message from Licia:

Gosh Mela I miss you. I'm feeling down and out and was like hey I wish Mela were here or I was there... lame too bad... I wonder where we'd be if you never left Fresno... who's yard would we be screaming and running through the spinklers in... what alcohol would you buy me???? lol... Yeah we could lay outside and get eaten by skeeters and talk till the sun came up...

Life has really gotten away from me... work work work... I feel that by the time I'm done with school and everything else I won't have time to have life... I think maybe if you were here we'd have the same job and same days off and we'd go out to the beach everyday off and go to school together like before... I miss those days... school together... not sleeping... I'm so old, or at least I feel old.

I wonder if I went over to Oregon how things would be... would we be able to just sit and talk like old times... I could tell you crazy my life has been all the bad and good things... all the pain and tears.... then you could tell me everything back... even though I haven't talked with you in a long time, I think I may just burst. Like a dam. All my thoughts and feelings will come out and won't stop for a while... hmmm... I really should get some sleep... well take care, Mrs. Richardson.......

-Mrs. Carter.

I love my friends. I'm so happy, you don't even know. And it's all because of my friends.

April 12, 2006

Just Cry

So... About this time of month, I get all contemplative, in a pessimistic sort of way. I'm not a bitchy PMS'er, I'm more of a find the problems of the world and write about them on the internet kind of PMS'er. And usually, I find absolutely no resolve for said problems. So with that said, I found the latest problem and I am here to tell you all about it.

The general problem is that people don't cry enough.

We see tears as weakness. In fact, we see most raw emotions as weakness. We have to contain ourselves at all times, because God forbid you should start weeping in public. What would people think? Honestly, have you ever seen someone crying in public and thought to yourself, what an idiot? No, at least I haven't. My heart goes out to them and I want to sit down next to them and help them sort through their problems. Or at least listen to their problems and maybe have no relevant advice whatsoever. But at least I could share in their sorrow.

I think part of the reason we have so many shallow relationships in our society is that we don't dare to cry. We can't share what's really going on inside. Or maybe we just don't have time to cry because we're always rushing about doing nothing we'll even remember in a year.

I was thinking about it today, and I don't even know about the struggles of a lot of my close friends. Why? Is it because they're afraid to tell me? Is it because I'm afraid to ask? Is it because they don't know how to approach me? Is it because they don't think I'll listen? Is it because they don't think I'll understand? Or is it because they just never have the opportunity? I don't know.

I'm sure I have friends who have been raped, and I don't even know about it. I'm sure I have friends who have had abortions, and I don't even know about it. I'm sure I have friends who have suffered domestic abuse, and I don't even know about it. I'm sure I have friends who are feeling suicidal, and I don't even know about it. I'm sure I have friends who don't know that I love them as much as I do.

Why doesn't my hurting friend just pick up the phone and call me? All they would have to do is say, "I need to talk to you." and I would be there in four seconds. At the same time, why don't I just pick up the phone and call them? I don't know. I guess my answer is the same as your answer, which is the same as everybody else's answer. I don't know where to start, I don't know what so say, I don't know if I'll offend you, I don't know if you'll still be my friend.

I don't know. All I know is that I'm sick of gicky-sweetness. I'm sick of everyone pretending to be happy 100% of the time when that's not even possible. I'm not telling you that the whole world should mope around and complain all the time, I just think that the surface doesn't need to be made of steel. Maybe make it of of saran-wrap or tin foil so you can take it off easily and share the real you.

Of course, I don't even know how to take my own advice. I guess that's why I'm writing this blog, because I don't know much but I do know that you probably don't know a whole lot either. Or maybe you do, in which case I'd appreciate it if you could enlighten me.

I don't know what I'm getting at. It's 4:30 AM and I'm not even tired. I'm all drugged up on cough syrup and Midol, so I'm feeling very comfortable right now. I think I'll go listen to my dog snore. Oh, Henry.

March 28, 2006

[ wherever i may roam ]

I made a website as the final project for my Multimedia Design class this term. I got an A on it, whoopee! So click on the picture below, and you can check it out. There might even be a picture of you in there – a lot of my friends are and don't even know it...

[ wherever i may roam ]

March 27, 2006

God Forgive Us

This is an entry from my brother's blog that he wrote a while ago, and I feel compelled to post it on my blog. He wrote it at the end of Elementary Winter Camp at Camp Arrah Wanna, where he is on the program crew and I was a counsellor. This summer, I'm joining him on pro crew, plus I'm gonna teach a hip hop workshop. Haha, how fun does that sound? I'm excited.

Yeah anyway. This is the blog he posted. It's worth reading, otherwise I wouldn't be re-posting it.

God Forgive Us

This morning, as the end of the camp weekend approached, we were walking from the Worship Center to Counselor Rock for a morning campfire. As I walked along with Amie and Jessica, a little girl, probably 9 years old (the age range for our elementary camp is generally 8 to 10), went running ahead of us. As she did, she made this comment: "I gotta lose my weight!"

I felt like someone had hit me in the stomach. Someone very strong.

She was 9 years old and as skinny as bean pole. And already her focus was on her weight. I wondered, as I continued to walk along in disbelief, if she was already doing a variety of diets. Does she look in the mirror in the morning and wish she was skinnier? I felt sick.

What have we done?

It's our fault, you know. We have done this. And by "we," I mean men. It's because men care so much about physical appearance, even though it means so little. Men will fall over themselves and fight each other over a "beautiful" woman with a "nice body," but a woman who doesn't quite meet their standards of outward beauty is fair game for every kind of degradation. I have seen the most worthless, vacuous creatures treated like queens simply because the emptiness of their character was bottled up, what little there was of it, in a "beautiful" body. And I have seen the most amazing people I have ever known effortlessly and thoughtlessly dismissed, without even a second thought, because they weren't up to Hollywood supermodel status. And not only dismissed, but thoroughly degraded and insulted, denied even the basic respect due by all to even the vilest of human beings.

And that's how we get to where we are today. Women—girls, even—think that the only way to get any attention, the only way to be treated like a person, is by attempting to measure up to the sickeningly unhealthy, and often times rather whorish, image of the skin-and-bones, airbrushed stars of the silver screen. Ironic, isn't it? To be perceived with even a hint of respect by so many men, women have to give up all self-respect and serve the unquenchable lust of the male collective. And notice that I say "perceived" with respect, for they are not truly treated with any respect. A woman has ceased to be a person, but has become a mere object whose sole use is to satisfy the perverted cravings of shallow men. But respect was lost so long ago and so far back that so many women don't even know what it is anymore, wouldn't even recognize it if they saw it.

That's the world we live in. Young girls grow up learning to find their own self worth—or lack thereof—not in who they are, or in Who loves them (God), but in a numerical rating system, ranging from 0 to 10, by which they are judged and then tossed aside by men and boys. It's the new Indoctrination of Insecurity.

This shouldn't be happening at all. I know so many absolutely gorgeous young women who can't even see their own beauty because they've learned to see only the "blemishes" and "imperfections"—the words of the world, not mine—that make them human and, in that way, truly beautiful. But like I said, I don't call those blemishes or imperfections, I call that reality. Who wants a fake plastic girl? Well, a lot of guys, unfortunately. But not me; I want a real woman, one whose beauty is her own, not something she puts on in front of the mirror or tries to shed on a treadmill. But I know so many young women who get so down on themselves because they're not "perfect," as though that existed. And all the while I'm thinking, "Are you kidding? I can't take my eyes off of you! No, you're not perfect—and it's truly beautiful." This shouldn't be happening at all, and it breaks my heart whenever I see it. But when I hear those words from the mouth of a 9-year-old girl... I don't even know what to feel anymore.

But it goes beyond even that. It breaks my heart when a girl with such natural beauty hides it under the fake plastic mask that appeals to our fake plastic society. But it breaks my heart even more every time a person goes undiscovered because she is dismissed on outward appearances. Some of the most incredible people I have ever known go unnoticed by much because people only look at outward appearances. People deem them boring, unattractive, and essentially inferior; but these are the people that blow my mind, that leave me in absolute wonder, that show me glimpses of God. And it saddens me that so few ever find them. And it angers me that the world judges them so unfairly based on something so completely unimportant, not to mention fleeting.

But that's the world we live in. Sometimes, the idea that I will one day be a parent scares me. How do I raise a daughter to find her self-worth in who she is, and in who the God who loves her is, in a world that is waiting to objectify her for the casual glance of shallow men? How do I raise a son to learn to see the true beauty that God created, and that we try to hide in favor of plasticized uniformity; who learns to see the beauty within, to see every human being through the eyes of their Creator, who loves them just as they are; who keeps alive the kind of respect for humanity that most have long since forgotten; and who is constantly, daily in awe and wonder at the truly amazing people that go unnoticed by the world? Honestly, I have no idea.

The bottom line, ladies, is that any man whose approval and attention you could gain only by measuring up to a bogus standard of artificial "beauty" is not worth the time. If he cannot appreciate you for the amazing, incredible person that you are, then he is not worth caring about. I know that narrows the field down quite a bit, but I have known a few men who would refuse to objectify you, and would stand speechless in awe of who you are, of the truly beautiful woman that God created, both inside and out. Wait for one of those. As for the rest, don't let them dismiss you; dismiss them first, because their opinion is not worth caring about.

I don't know what else to say. I don't even know if I've said what I want to say very well at all. I just think of that little girl up at camp, and so many like her, and I want to cry.

God created you, and He loves you exactly as you are. Not only that, but He didn't make a mistake with you. And He thinks you are absolutely beautiful! And you are.

The end.

March 17, 2006

Hip Hop!

Check it out, this is the video from my hip hop class's performance at Open Showing!

March 12, 2006


Apparently I need to post something. I don't really have anything to write about, but there are two things that have been on my mind a lot the last couple of weeks: faith and friendship.

Faith and friendship seperately, not faith in friendship, not friendship through faith... just faith, and friendship. The two things that have been bugging me relentlessly. Like little leeches eating at my brain, and neither of them seems to hold any resolve.

But I don't really want to write about faith right now, so I'll tackle friendship.

To a missionary kid who has traveled the world her whole life, friendship is both something that you crave and you fear at the same time. It's hard to always be the new kid - everybody already has their "best friend," leaving no room for me. I did have a best friend once, her name was Analicia and she's still one of the people I love the most even though I haven't even seen her in four years. And therein lies the problem.

To me, true friendship has become something that should be avoided because I always wind up leaving. Granted, I don't live in Africa anymore but because of my upbringing, my deepest feelings toward friendship have been rooted in tears and pain. I think the final blow that sealed my bitterness toward friendship came when I was 14, in 1999. My family had come to the end of our year-long furlough in Fresno, CA and we headed back to Africa. Analicia and I wrote each other letters every single day [sometimes multiple times a day] for a year or so, until the letters tapered off and slowly stopped. I remember spending Y2K by myself on the roof of our house in Africa, writing Analicia a letter and crying. I was also pretty disappointed when the electricity of the entire city didn't shut down, because it would have been ridiculously awesome to watch that happen. But that's beside the point.

What point? I'm not actually really trying to make a point, I don't think. I've been looking through quotes about friendship for the last hour or so and after wading through schloads of cheery, frolickey quotes, I found this one:

"Thy friendship oft has made my heart to ache;
Do be my enemy for friendship's sake."

- William Blake

That's all I've got for now. End of post. No resolve today in Tucktown.

February 24, 2006

Savin' Up

So my mother is an avid watcher of the Suze Orman Show. I never thought I'd say this, but I actually found the show useful today. Why? Because she helped me open a savings account. Suze told me that the highest intrest rate is currently at EmigrantDirect.com and, handy dandy enough, I've been saving up for a savings account for a few months now. Saving up for a savings account? Hmm. Yeah.

The general goal is to be able to buy a car that's not from the 80's by this summer. Don't get me wrong, I love my '88 Civic and every last one of her 234,000 miles but, how do I say this without hurting her feelings... Um, yeah, I want to be able to drive outside of Eugene - or even out side of Oregon, gasp! - in confidence. I love the fact that I paid for my car straight up out of my checking account, and I plan to do the same thing with my next car.

I'm excited. I actually have over a thousand dollars (so far) sitting in an account making money for itself. I feel like such a big kid. Yippee!

February 19, 2006

I have a dream.

I decided what I want to do with my life. So listen [read] up.

A little background first. Growing up in Africa, I used to work in an orphanage. Every day after school, my mom would pick me up and we'd go out to the orphelina for a few hours. It was the highlight of my life. I had no friends because the girls in middle school were cruel and I didn't fit in. But at the orphanage, as soon as I opened the door dozens of kids would run to me, yelling, "Mama Mélissa!" and bombarding me with hugs. I seriously could not walk for the first five minutes of being there.

I loved the kids there, and they loved me. Those innocent young children had the saddest stories and all I could do to help was play with them, change their diapers, feed them, and hold them. Somehow, that was enough for them. I could tell you about the kids individually for hours but that's not the main point of this blog entry. If you want to hear some of their stories, just ask and I'll talk your head off.

My favorite baby was a little baby girl named Stephanie. She was the light of my life. She still is, and I think about her every day. Well, on my thirteenth birthday, I didn't care about anything except going to the orphanage to see Steph. I didn't care about presents or a party or anything, I just wanted to see my kids. So just like every other day, my mom picked me up from school on April 30th, 1998 and we headed to the orphanage. As soon as I walked in, I knew something was terribly wrong. I greeted all the kids as usual, but when I went to Stephanie's crib, she wasn't there. She wasn't anywhere. When I asked the ladies where she was, they told me that Steph had been adopted that morning. A couple came in, chose her, and left. That's it.

I did my best to keep my composure because I still had to be there for the other kids. I played with them for as long as I could but I couldn't talk because I knew I would start crying. Finally, my mom and I left. I ran to the car and when she got in, she looked over at me to see tears streaming down my face. I remember that we just sat in the parking lot crying for the longest time. I don't remember if my mom was crying with me or not, but that day was the saddest day of my life. My baby was gone, and I didn't even get to say goodbye to her.

After that day, I didn't go back to the orphanage for several months. I couldn't even think about the orphanage without crying. When I finally did go back, it brought the same joy to my life as it had before. Something about those kids is amazing. They have nothing, not even parents, but somehow they have everything.

A couple of months ago, I started thinking about Stephanie again. Well, I always think about her but this time it was nonstop. Whenever my mind wasn't occupied by something else, I was thinking about her. I have no idea why. I haven't seen her since the day before my thirteenth birthday, and I'll probably never see her again. I'll always remember her, but she'll never remember me. It's one of those sweet sorrows in life that can never be changed.

Well, one Friday night in church at Calvary, we were having a contemplative low-key college night service and I started praying about Stephanie. It was then that I realized why she had been on my mind so heavily. I had always felt pain about losing her, and only pain. It was my loss, and I didn't see it any other way.

In that moment with God, I realized something that I had never realized before: Stephanie is eight years old right now and she has a mom and a dad who love her. That may seem evident to you, but it had never ever occured to me. I always thought of her as my baby that I never got to say goodbye to. But I realized that she's not my baby. She's God's baby, and He gave her to waiting parents. I still get teary when I look at pictures of her - you would too if you knew how cute she was. But it took seven and a half years for those tears to turn from tears of sorrow to tears of joy.

So that's my story about Stephanie. But the subject of this post is "I have a dream." Because I do. I finally decided what I want to do with my life.

Of course, I would love to work in an orphanage in a third world country. But I haven't decided yet if I want to live in the third world or not. Maybe that decision depends on who I marry, because it's his decision too.

But if I live in America, I want to live in the country and have a huge house with a lot of land where I can start a kennel. I want lots of dogs and I want to be able to give a home to any stray, wounded, or abandoned animal. In my huge house, I want to take in foster children. Maybe some of them will turn in to adopted children, but I also want to have my own birth children. I want my foster kids to take care of the animals, because animals have amazing healing powers that I can't even begin to comprehend. I want the kids I take in to have the responsibility of keeping the animals alive, and I want the animals to depend on kids who haven't been given a fair shot at life. That's what I want to do. That's my dream. How I'll do it, I don't know. When it will happen, I don't know. How I'll finance it, I don't know. But that's what I want to do.