Tuesday, May 29, 2007

From pirates to preaching, I need help.

Today: my first non-Sunday (Sunday is fun) full work day since I left last week for the Festival of Homiletics and all I did was go to a meeting and answer emails. In addition, I discoverd that my favorite restaurant in Austin no longer serves my favorite meal. Lame. So, needless to say, i wish I was back in Nashville listening to great preachers instead of planning what I will preach, and hanging out with friends watching ridonculous television instead of hanging out with my computer.

Miss you! I even miss Sam asking me, "How was the festival today?" as if I were eating turkey legs, dancing barefoot in a big bosomed dress and swinging on a viking boat.

Good news to juxtapose sitting in front of a computer for hours and losing my favorite tuna sandwich (wheat bread toasted with no onions) at Opal Divine's is that I returned to three friends in town only one of whom I knew would be there. So I traded old friends for other old friends and that's always a nice transition back to routine because it keeps things mixed up for a while.

(Dang, these pics are a little outdated. Jos, that pic is from 04. We need a new one!!)

More good news came when i discovered that the friends I promised to hang out with tonight wanted to see Pirates III. YES! If you haven't seen the movie yet, stop reading now. Although all i will say is, I'm a little confused. Do they only get one visit every 10 years? Or after 10 years does he get to come home for good? Is he dead or alive? I need clarification and I needed a kleenex through the last 10 minutes. Oh wait, I mean for the 10 minutes before the 10 minutes of credit and then the last scene that ended the movie. For the former 10 minutes I could have used a tissue cause the tears just flowed down my cheeks and onto my shirt.

I have also officially dumped Toby for Orlando. Unfortunatley, Johnny's out of my league. Sigh* Although, I haven't see Spider Man III yet and that may swing my heart's jury back toward Toby. it's a hard call.

And so I'm left with the question "How can I put so much creativity into my mind and heart last week and this and still lack the inspiration to write my sermon?" Not to mention that I had to borrow a friend's car this weekend that has FM satellite and I listened to dialogue and songs from musicals old and new every time I was in the car...

I have stimulated the brain and nothing's coming out.


Or as Captain Barbossa would say, Arrrgh...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

29 And No Longer Counting!

My birthday week, or weeks (week before and week after!), went well. Only 349 days until I'm 30, but surely no one's counting, right?

I tried to make it festive, to celebrate myself by buying really cool shoes, dining with friends and family, and of course a party.

The last party I threw was for a friend who was 5 years cancer-free, and to make things more exciting, I had a bonfire.

So for this party I had to up the anty just a little. Nothing does that better than FURNITURE to sit on AROUND the bonfire. Mmm hmm.

And since I had a freezer full of peeps after I was pranked, pink yellow and purple marshmellows were provided as an alternative to smores and proved even more entertaining when thrown in the fire where "look mom, the bunnies are all dying," became the quote of the night. I could have done without that.

But there were also the typical party elements as well... cupcakes.

and beer...

and snacks...

and johnson stealing my camera...

and of course friends... the very best part

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It's four days after my birthday. I should post pictures and tell funny stories about my friends and i and how late we stayed up and how much i slept the next day to recover.

I'm in Nashville at the festival of homeletics. I should post about how hilarious and yet prophetic walter brueggemann is, how beautiful and insightful barbara brown taylor is, how this songwriter lady talked way too much tonight, and how i love being in nashville with lynnette and sam.

but i watched last week's episode of grey's anatomy tonight (lynnette and sam go to bed pretty early) and now I'm just sad.

TV is what the Theatre was 80 years ago. It is an escape mechanism. During the depression, people went to the theatre to escape their lives, to watch Little Orphan Annie and Oliver Warbucks fall in love, to laugh at reality and have hope for tommorow.

As Brueggemann said today, denial is a major part of our culture (as it in ancient Israel) and denial must be addressed with truth telling.

Since people rarely go to the theatre anymore and certainly not every night, television has became our vaudeville, our comedy, our means of escape. We use TV to deny reality. Reality that we'd rather watch TV than talk to our spouse. We'd rather watch TV than help our kids with their homework. We'd rather watch TV to detox from our day when we could do so many other beautiful things. (Not that sitting on the couch with a beer watching Seinfeld reruns isn't beautiful - it is). But often, we'd even rather escape into other people's lives so ours don't seem so dull, sad or lonely. We need community and sometimes we find that in TV: as we gather with friends to watch favored shows and as we begin to suspend our disbelief and participate in the lives of the characters.

And so the characters on TV become our friends. Our imaginary friends that we can actually see and laugh at and cry with because their characters have become a part of our everyday living or at least our every week living.

When Billy died on Ally McBeal my senior year in college, I cried long and hard. A TV show changed the tone of my whole week. When I watched too many episodes of Arrested Development in one day, Ron Howard began narrating my dreams at night. And now that "It's all over," on Grey's, I mourn the fact that I too needed Christina to go down that aisle. I too need Meredith to commit. I need that because, as all fine art does (in some fashion or another, be it Shakespear or Scrubs), art mirrors life. And if Meredith Grey can be loved fully, so can I. And on the flip side, if George can flunk his intern exam, so can I fail in life. So can we all. We all succeed and we all fail and ultimatley, we all seek to be loved. As Anna Carter Florence said today in her lecture, "all people (us included) really want is to be seen."

That is my new resolution for ministry, to help people be seen; feel seen, not only by me or the church, but by God. Anna said tonight that when a girl climbs into the backseat of a car with her boyfriend - she wants to be seen, when a child throws his third tantrum of the day - he wants to be seen, when a nation makes the decision to go to war - it wants to be seen. Etc., etc., etc.

And so to all the Merediths, Christinas, Georges, Izzy's, Evas, Chiefs, Addisons, McDreamys and even McSteamys (as much as I despise your type of people) in the world, I pledge to try and see you. As a minister of the gospel of "truth-telling and hope-giving" (Brueggemann), I will try to see you and tell you you are seen by God.

Try to see me too.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Columbian Review

A week ago I was in Columbia. I had just spent the previous evening in the ER with BB, Geit and Amy. Fun times.

Tonight (a week ago), Amy and I went to her white coat burning ceremony. It was amazing. All the med students took their SHORT white coats signifiying "I'm still a student" to Paul's house and into the jumbo bonfire they went. Up in flames and fast. It was fun.

And then with Geitler in tow, we headed back into town to meet some old friends from college at a bar. We got stood up. Can you imagine us being stood up? Me neither. It was a first. And hopefully a last. I paid $5 to get into some sorority-girl-ridden-college-bar packed in with a bunch of MU wrestlers with puffy ears with no one over the age of 22, and our friends had "just left." No phone call, nothing. Losers. Biggest Losers.

Favorite quote of the evening? "If one more person hits my Gucci bag, I'm gonna scream." That was right before a waitress managed to step on both of my and Amy's feet as she passed us by with someone else's drink order.

Tomorrow (a week ago), Amy and I went shopping. I started off my birthday week with a pair of cutie pa-tutie high heeled shoes, a gift to myself. Amy bought mom's mother's day gift and I tried to get a nice gift for Amy, but with her there, it made it difficult for me to shop.

Back at the Acuff's we celebrated Mother's Day with mom and grandma. We sort of did my birthday quickly too. I got a toaster oven from grandma. However, I left it in the back of my dad's car and will have to get it when I return home in June :(

Silas (my cousin) had been saving up his money to buy a wii and man am I glad he did. Can I add that to my birthday wish list. i want a wii. Too cool. Mom, Amy, Emily, Susan, Silas and I all took turns playing tennis and boxing with each other. Imagine grown adults swinging their fists in the air, eyes glued to the tube, attacking a cartoon character of one of their other family members in an attept to knock them out. Hysterical.

That night, Amy went out, but Emily and I were exhausted (too much air boxing), so I took the opportunity to get caught up on Grey's. I'd watched one the day before and by the end of the evening had knocked off 5 episodes total including the 2 hour one. I'm officially caught up and officially traumatized. Blog for another time.

Saturday (one week ago): Graduation Day!! With a lunch at Milly's, Amy opened gifts including the goofy ones I bought for her office, forgetting that she wouldn't have an office for another 5 years. Oops.

After another game or two of Wii, we headed to graduation. Who was there, you ask? Anyone who's anyone...

Monday, May 14, 2007

I flew in from St. Louis Sunday, then drove to Waco. Returned today. Pulled into my driveway, pleased to be home at last.

My carport was wrapped in Saran Wrap.

"What the...?" I got out of my car and stared in disbelief.

"You home now?" Clarence and Tommie hollered over at me.
"Um, yeah. What happened to my house?"
"Don't know. Came home from church yesterday and it was like that."

I stared at the carport in disbelief, wondering what structural damage would require heavy duty Saran Wrap to fix...

My phone rang, it was Frank. "What did you do to my carport?"
"It's wrapped roof to cement in Saran Wrap. What happened?"
"I have no idea."

"There's writing on this window," Clarence yelled over to me, pointing to my kitchen window. There in big black letters read, "We heart (the symbol, not the word) Ms. Pittman."

The youth.

Great. I called Kevin, the church's youth minister and left him a message. "It's the youth at my church," I explained to Clarence and Tommie. "They like to call me Ms. Pittman; they think it's funny cause I hate it. The youth must have come over here Sunday night. It's okay."

I returned to my car and grabbed my overnight bag and my purse. Opened the front door to my house and stood staring with disbelief.

There in my living room, instead of my couch, was my dining room table with a ginormous pinata clown standing in my dining room chair reading a baylor magazine.

My open mouth began to curl upward as I scanned the room to the left.

Okay, it's someone with brains. Maybe Julie Valentine helped the youth pull this off. Maybe this is a really weird birthday present. Then I found my couch in the dining room.

Zorba was reclining on it as if nothing in the world had even blinked since he last acknowledged it. I moved on to the kitchen and found a blob under more Saran Wrap in the sink.

I peeled off the transluscent covering to smell and push down the disposal, gummy worms soaking in water under Saran Wrap.

Wondering what else could possibly be in my house, I peeked into my room which appeared normal. Good. Maybe they couldn't tell which room was mine and which was my roomie's. I stepped in to use the restroom. Pop! Pop! Pop! Huh? Oh my. Bubble sheets under all the throw rugs and mats.

And that's not all. Communion cups filled with water decorated my back bedroom...

After a very Nancy Drew-esque investigation, I discovered the culprits downfall. I could now identify who had pranked my house. This was on my bookshelf...

A Pa-Pa book (translated into Spanish nonetheless) there for me to enjoy. There's only one other Pa-Pa-and-his-free-books-non-fan who actually takes his books to prank people with. And where you find the sea, you're bound to find some ginger.

And I found some more things through the course of the evening, like my second dining room chair, Saran Wrapped, and located in my back bedroom.

And when I went to put the dishes away, I found my dish cabinet had been lined on the inside with Saran Wrap as well. Likewise, when I got out of the shower (after cleaning up the gummy worms), I opened my closet door and screamed. There flew up a donkey's head pinata, attached with a rope to my door handle, strung up (or out) in between my clothes which had also of course been Saran Wrapped.

The icing on the cake were the peeps in the freezer. On the refridgerator door read, "Peeps love the Lord." Inside are, well, peeps.

Don't worry, I'm in the process of getting it all cleaned up. And remember peeps, as some great person once said, "Payback's a b*tch." I'm taking names. Don't think I won't find you all and get you back. This is war.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

So for my first night in Missouri, I spent two hours in the ER.

I arrived on time, Amy picked me up, informed me we were going to a "roller kegger." When her roommate came home with teal sweatbands and began crimping her hairit began to dawn on me that Amy had failed to mention it was an "80's roller kegger." Amy prepared me some clothes that unfortunately sent me right back to 1986, and we headed off with her two BFF's to a roller skating rink.


Hot pink lipstick and green eyeshadow applied, I put on my skates.

I met her friends, saw some old ones. And then I noticed the music had stopped and everyone was gathered around the edge of the rink. I peeked through the crowd and turned to Amy, "It's Brent."

The man was groaning, crying and cracking jokes. Half the time I didn't quite know how to respond. And so in we trapsed to triage with three medical students about to graduate on Saturday and one minister. And we were all dressed like 80's rock stars.

I'm not sure I've ever been that embarrassed.

But Brent was hurting bad and after he got ice and Geitler left to call his parents, he asked me to pray for him. I wasn't sure if he was joking or not (sometimes people ask me to do that since they know I'm a minister and they get a kick out of it). So I looked to Amy for guidance and she said, "no really, he's very religious Ann, pray for him." So I did.

Soon enough the doctors whom Amy, Geit and Brent had all rotated with were coming in to check on him and snickering on their way out. Geitler was wearing striped stockings and Amy was wearing suntan hose and short work-out shorts that put short shorts to shame. I was in a mini-skirt, fishnet hose and knee-high athletic socks. One doctor came in who didn't know them and asked what they each were going into... "Orthopedic, ENT, ENT, and she's a minister." The doctor just shook his head and left.

It was a riot. Brent, bless his heart, kept in very good spirits. I tried to wipe the bright pink lipstick off and the girls examined the x-rays. Two broken bones in the ankle. Surgery required.

Night one in Missouri: Emergency Room. Surely, it's only going up from here.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Update on my life (tune out now those of you looking for a funny story or short devotional).

Wednesday I fly to St. Louis for Amy's graduation from the University of Missouri in Columbia's Medical School. Holy cow. Amazing. So proud. She's then moving to Chicago to do her residency at her number one choice school, Loyola. We are so grateful and so relieved. Good things come to those who wait... or to those who work their ass off. One of the two. I actually remember going to the same graduation for my Uncle Mike when I was a little girl. I remember waiting, bored in my cute dress wondering when we were going to get to go inside and sit down. I remember brown. Brown hallways, brown wood walls, brown seats. I remember looking at the list of names in the program and zoning out. I remember grandma or mom poking me, saying he was next. I remember pulling my legs up underneith me and craning to see a man that looked like my Uncle Mike get a white coat. I think he later showed me his stethoscope. That was a long time ago. And twenty-some years later, we're going back to the brown room to see my little sister.

Sunday I fly home and drive to Waco for my longtime friend, Julie Merritt's ordination ceremony. Another woo hoo and another ordained and fabulous baptist woman. All I'm saying is that I can't think of a bad female baptist minister. Shall I list them off? Dorisanne Cooper, LeAnn Gunter, Amelia Howard, Rachel Luck, Leigh Jackson, LeAnn Gardner, Valerie Burton, Julie Pennington-Russell (although I don't know her personnaly - only the effects of her work), Jackie Saxon, Patti English, etc. etc. etc. And Julie will be another nitch of the "we did it and we did it damn well" side!

All that busy-ness means I have to get all my work done here before I can fly out Wednesday evening. Last week I got strep throat and couldn't attend Beresheth, the alternative worship service i facilitate. That was probably good preparation for this week when I can't even supervise the day of. I've got to get the worship service ready by Wednesday morning and then give it over to my volunteers and to God. Course, if my volunteers fall through, there's not much God can do, unless She's taken to audibly singing and preaching, and has grown fingers to run the computers.

Just a little "heresy" in case the ordination of woman failed to do the trick. It's crazy to me that what is so normal in the real world is considered "liberal" in the religious (or at least the mainstream baptist world). But that's a blog for another time.

Also before I leave, I need to get a doggy-door put in. Janie, although cute with her head poking through the kitty door signaling that she wants back in, needs her own door to get in and out of the house.

She has taken to peeing in the back room and it's about to drive me batty. Hopefully my friend and I can get it done before I leave, otherwise the back room is in big trouble and so is Janie. Between her and Zorba who frequently pees on the bathtub for god-only-knows-why, I am seriously maxed out on the urine factor. Too much information, but it's on my mind and a definate part of my week.

Okay, so that's the scoop. I'm having the college students (or college-aged kids) over to my house tomorrow night to say good by to the seniors and give them gifts and eat and probably play ghetto tabboo. You love it. Don't deny it. That'll be fun. And then I'll seriously need to pack my bag. And find someone to drive me to the airport. And someone to pick me up. And...and...and...

And that pretty much sums up my week...

Friday, May 04, 2007

May is hunger awareness month. Here's some interesting things that I thought I knew, but ended up being surprised by the actual facts...

The primary cause of hunger is NOT overpopulation, third world debt, trade imbalance, racism, war, environmental degradations, AIDS, or drought (although these are all prime contributors). It's poverty.

Out of the 6.55 billion people on earth today, 854 million go hungry every day. 35.1 million of those people live in the UNITED STATES.

The US has MORE THAN DOUBLE the child poverty rate than any other industrialized nation.

Women and children are first to suffer from hunger and malnutrition, and 70% of childhood deaths are associated with malnutrition and preventable diseases. (That's 16,000 children a day).

The GOOD NEWS is that there are actually FEWER hungry people in today's world compared to 25 years ago! (If you can call 854 million starving people good news).

However, 1 in 5 people on earth still exist on less than $1.00 a day. (That wouldn't buy most of us a cup o joe). And Sub-Saharan Africa has the most people who go hungry on a per capia basis.

Get the facts. Find out how you can help. Make a difference.

[Just so I don't get accused of not practicing what i preach, I've decided to donate $10 a month to World Hunger Offering through the BGCT which finances clean drinking water, food, school supplies for children, waste management, rural poverty relief, etc. to countries (including the US) needing help.] My socially minded church helped me learn tangibly about this great need and great opportunity. Where can you help?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Observations from today... (in no particular order)

My favorite thing about Texas is wildflowers. It may be brown all summer long, but man this state has the most colorful, beautiful wildflowers. My favorites are the red/yellow ones. Those are georgous. Good job lady bird. They may have thought you were crazy then, but I'm sure thankful now.

Neither my dog nor I enjoy going to the doctor. Janie slobs slobber everywhere after she gets her anti-heartworm shot. Why does it make her mouth do that? And she whimpers cause her butt hurts where the needle went. I don't enjoy going to the doctor cause I always let my imagination get the best of me. While waiting for the doctor today, I almost starting crying envisioning me having my tonsils removed and Jane Nethercut there to take care of me after surgery. I always cry after "being under." It's the worst cause I can't choose not to cry. That anesthesia is crazy. Kind of like my dog's shot. It makes you do things you don't want to: like cry or slobber. Then I started imagining what disease I might have since I've un-trying-ly-ed lost 2 pounds since last month. What is 2lbs of unwilling weightloss indicative of, I wonder? Hmm.

The doctor is treating me for strep throat.

I have to sing a jazzy, pop song with excellent theology sunday in worship. i hope i don't lose my voice. that would suck worse than having surgery. hmm.

There is a tree that I cut down in my backyard with thorns. It was a good idea to cut it down, but a bad idea to pick it up with my hands. What in the hell did you put in that thorn God? Poison? Ouch!

My cactus that I chopped down off the side of the road somewhere east of Austin is now sprouting a little round cactus arm. Hurray! And the mini cactii cactus I cut off in marfa is growing tons of more mini mini cactii sprouts! Totally cool.

15 days til my birthday.

Welcome to my brain, world. It's pretty much just centered around me. Or at least me and nature. Or at least on days that I am sick and therefore more in tune with living things.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Dear Santa, for my birthday I would like just two things...

Gift Certificates
- Big Red Sun (Austin)
- Natural Gardner (Austin)
- Home Depot!
- 10 Thousand Villages!
- Anthropologie, Banana Republic, Victoria’s Secret, or Gap

- Regina Spektor – any CD
- Anna Nalick CD
- Cool Shoes!
- Fun Jewelry!
- Plants or Cactii!
- Toaster or Toaster Oven
- Wine Glasses
- Hammock!
- New Kitchen Window!
- Big Palm Tree
- New Car ☺

Just in case anyone who loves birthdays as much as me wins the lottery...