Monday, February 27, 2012

The Book - 4: Will She Say Yes?

Here is the next installment of my book. If you missed any, you can find them all using the Take Me To.... the book link to the right of this page. Enjoy!


The group hung around for an hour, ordering a second round and debating the best plays of the day. The conversation floated between the BCS standings and who threw away their Heisman hopes with the three picks in one game. They ate their nachos and wings and then impressed Mia by leaving the table relatively neat.

As she went to close out the tab for the group, she noticed another pleasant surprise. That guy Tim, lawn guy, had picked up the check. That was not the surprise. Everyone knew he had a trust fund footing the bill for all his college expenses. What did surprise her was his tip, a healthy 20%, respectful but not over the top. He wasn’t flaunting his wealth nor was he stingy after she had called him out in front of his friends. It was a simple gesture, something he probably did every day, but it felt like a truce to her. But then maybe she was reading too much into it. Maybe it was just a tip.

Mia went to clean up the table the guys had vacated. The pub was empty now except a few regulars who sat at the bar until Matt called them a cab at closing time. It had been a decent night and she was going to get out early enough to still get another hour or two of studying in before going to bed for the night.


She turned at the sound of her name spoken behind her. Tim was standing there, smiling as always. Had he forgotten something she wondered. She looked down at the empty plates seeing nothing and then back at him. She could feel her pulse quicken.

“Mia,” he said again pointing to her nametag. “I wanted to introduce myself, again. My name is Tim.”  He reached out his hand.

She shook his hand. It was warm and firm. Her hand fit so nicely inside his until she pulled away. “My name is Mia,” she offered back, blushing when she realized that he had just said her name.

“I would love to get a drink with you some time.” His eyes twinkled full of confidence.

Mia had only been asked out a few times in her life. She didn’t know why. She had not been allowed to date in high school. Her mom’s attempt to make sure Mia did not get distracted and lose sight of their goal of her going to a good school. College had not changed her single status. She just didn’t seem to have that thing that made boys want to ask her out. She had only been on one date in college and that had not gone well. She had no idea how to act when guys became men, when feelings and hormones started to act up.

She felt caught off guard again by this guy. Mia did not like to feel off balance.  “No thank you,” she answered.

“Coffee at least? I know you like coffee.”

“No thank you.” She replied again. “Wait, how do you know that?”

“You always have a kiosk coffee cup in hand as you walk across campus in the morning.”

Mia didn’t know if she should be flattered that he had noticed her. She had certainly noticed him over the years with more girls than she could count attached to him. This was not the kind of guy Mia wanted. This was exactly the kind of guy her mother had warned her about. Lawn guy liked the chase, but she had seen him discard his prizes just as quickly as he won them.

“No thank you,” she said again.

Tim looked down at his feet his facade shaken. He was not used to being rejected. And now twice in one day this woman had turned him down. No one is worth this much work he thought, not when there were so many other girls out there ready to go home with him.

“Ok. Well I guess I will see you around campus then,” he said before hurrying to catch up with his buddies before they left him behind. Mia stood there dumbfounded. Had Tim just asked her out? Had she said no. She knew it was the right decision but why then were her palms all clammy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Archives - Taking Risks

Here is another post from the archives. This one was written in January 2009. Since this post we have moved two more times and are in the process of buying our own little piece of the California dream.

Yesterday at my church's moms group the ice breaker question was about taking risks. What was a big risk you have taken in your life? How hard is it for you to take risks? I had a hard time thinking of a big risk I have taken in my life. This is not to say that I lead a boring life.  Well, it is boring at the moment. In our almost 12 years of marriage my husband and I have lived in 7 cities in 2 states, 1 foreign country and 1 US protectorate. We moved overseas for his job when I was pregnant with our first child to a country where neither of us spoke the language. We again moved to a Caribbean island when I was pregnant with our second son. And the biggest risk of all, we married each other after dating long distance at the ripe age of 23.
But the thing is none of these things seemed risky. At the time, each of these decisions seemed like the obvious choice. We knew that God had prepared the path before us. Too many details had to fall perfectly into place, our hearts had to be readied, unexpected opportunities had to call to us. It felt like God had taken the laid out his plans like I lay out my sons' Thomas the Tank Engine Track. We were simply going on the track God laid before us. These choices that seemed risky to so many around us, many of whom thought we were crazy for leaving family when we were having babies or marrying people we really did not know, seemed so simple to us. Because in the big choices of life, we usually seek and find God.
For me the biggest risks are in the smaller moments. Walking into a room full of moms trying to find a new friend. Being honest with my husband even when I know it might hurt his feelings. Taking a small step of faith when I feel the whisper of God to do something new. Being authentic in a world of presentation. These things are hard for me. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Book - 3: Just a Smidgen

Another Monday, another good day to post a little taste of my book. If you missed the other sneak peeks, you can find all my book postings using the link on the right of this page.


The restaurant was half empty, even though it was a Saturday night. Not surprising considering the place was out of date, worn and faded. There were newer chains along the outside of the mall about a mile from campus but Mia loved this place. She liked the flexible hours Matt her manager allowed her. She liked the few friendly regulars. And she liked that she could wear her regular college garb to work. No funny hats or ties at this place. It was just a good, classic college pub.

It had been a slow night. Mia’s tables had been cleared, her condiments filled. She was almost ready to head out when a group of guys entered. She glanced over at the other waitress working tonight, hoping the guys would see the blond hair and midriff flashing t-shirt and head over to her area. Mia had more studying to do and she really did not want to waste another hour on this group.

The group paused for a moment, looking the tables over, checking out which had the best view of Sports Center. They walked right past Sally’s section and headed to a table next to where Mia was standing. Taking a deep breath, Mia walked over and started handing out menus to the guys. As she got to the end of the group, she saw him, the guy from the lawn this morning. Based on the way he was looking at her, he had obviously recognized her too.

Without missing a beat, Mia started taking drink orders. As she suspected this was a beer and wings crowd, though the beers were various microbrews. She waited to take lawn guys order until the end. She might be his waitress but she still held some power in the situation. After she had written down everyone’s order she looked at lawn guy. He looked back but did not say anything. He just smiled. He seemed to be waiting for something. Mia was annoyed. She was tired from the long day and was not in the mood to deal with this jerk.

“What would you like?” Mia asked looking him square in the eyes this time.

“What do you have on tap?” he challenged.

Mia shifted her weight and pointed to the list in the middle of the table. “The list is there.”

Lawn guy grabbed the list, glancing at it quickly, and then asked, “What do you recommend?”

Mia’s agitation grew. He obviously knew what he wanted to drink. Any college guy can order a beer within 3 seconds of getting into a bar. “I would recommend a glass of the white chardonnay. Or maybe you are a Pinot Grigio man?” she replied.

The guys around him perked up and began to pay attention to this exchange. Mia noticed the looks; she felt the heat rising in her. She hated that feeling, feeling like her actions were merely a reaction to provocation. She knew better than to play the game. She had years of practice not taking the bait, not engaging, and yet here she was bickering with some guy she hardly knew. There was no reason for it.

“How about a Newcastle?” Mia asked, her polite veneer back in place.

The other guys at the table lost interest now that the tension was gone. They turned back to the highlights of the day’s games. Tim also felt the air around Mia relax or more accurately smooth.
“Thanks. That sounds good.” He conceded. He enjoyed verbal sparing, so different from his usual cadre of women, but he did not want to push his luck.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Archives - Secret Desire

Here is another post from the archives. This was written January 2009. I love this one because it reminds me how far I have come.

I have told very few people, very few, that my secret desire is to be a writer. This is such a secret that I really have not done any writing, except in my own head. I never took a writing class in college or spent much time writing short stories. I wrote a few as a kid and they are funny to read now because they are pretty twisted. Somehow the prince kept getting eaten by a bear or some wild animal. Not just once but in more than one story that I have from my childhood.
I am not sure why I want to be a writer.  I have never been encouraged to be a writer. But it seems like a job I would like. I love sitting alone in a quiet room just writing down  my thoughts. So I guess I should clarify. I would love to be a columnist or an essayist who shares my thoughts on the world in hopefully funny ways that cause people to think and see the world from a different perspective. I love Donald Miller and Anne Lamont. They write about their faith, their foibles, their loves and their mistakes. Reading them often brings clarity to my experience even though our lives look nothing alike on the outside.
I don't want to change minds, just maybe open them a bit. And actually as I write this I realize I write to get things out of my mind and onto paper, or the computer screen in this case, not for people to read. Not that I don't like people reading. I would love to have people all over reading what I think and posting comments and starting dialogues. But I realize that is probably for real writers.
For now I will just write. Maybe people read my blog, maybe not. But either way, I will be clearing a few of my many inner dialogues out of my head, maybe even making room for me to remember the important stuff, like we need bananas. More likely new crazy ideas will take the place of the old ones.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Book - 2: Another Sneak Peek

Here is another sneak peak at the book I am writing. I posted the beginning last Monday.


The sidewalks were full of students heading to the football game. Mia though walked against the tide and headed to the library. She had never had time for the social norms of high school, for football games and dances. Her days had been filled with working at the local Dairy Queen and her nights with studying. She spent her high school years dreaming, planning and saving so she could attend this college, so she could escape her hometown. Her sole focus as a teenager was the future.

Mia had hoped that she would have time for all that fun when she finally got to college. She had dreamed of football games with roommates, parties at off campus houses, and late night food runs. But here she was heading to the library, not because she didn’t have time to go to the game but because she felt out of place there. She did not know how to joke easily and was not comfortable in the unknown flow of a group. The library though was her refuge.

She found her usual desk at the back of the 4th floor, the desk where the power supplies all worked and the stacks near her were rarely visited. It was usually quiet up here. Today she had the area to herself She plugged in her laptop, put in her ear buds and got to work.

This semester was going to be tough. She had started college with enough credits to be a sophomore; thankful for the Advanced Placement classes her small rural school was able to offer her. Mia now in her third year was in the heart of her core classes, the classes the professors used to weed out the accountants from the students. There were certainly easier business degrees but Mia wanted that CPA title. She wanted those initials after her name on her business cards. She pictured herself in smart business suits carrying a leather case. She dreamed of flying off on business trips and meeting colleagues for drinks after work. She wanted to belong to that club. The club that offered job security and known rules to follow.

Mia worked in the library until the room began to darken with the sunset. The overhead lights becoming brighter in contrast. The football game was sure to be over now. She hoped for a win. She enjoyed the euphoria on campus after the football team won. She liked feeling part of something bigger than herself and her studies, even though she did not watch any of the game. Not to mention the fact that she earned bigger tips when the team won. The restaurant filled with alumni after a win. After a loss she was left with a bunch of frat boys yelling about horrible officiating and incapable of figuring out how to tip.

Packing her bag she looked out the window. Students were milling away from the quad, slowly heading off toward their dorm rooms and off campus housing. No big celebration seemed to be happening. With the warm air hanging on into the night and the loss of the game, it was going to be a long night.

Friday, February 10, 2012

From the Archives - Out of Control

I have been getting some really good writing done on my book these last couple of weeks, which has meant that I have not been spending much time here. I don't want to lose momentum so I thought I would post some items from the archives for all of you that have joined this journey along the way.

Here is the first blog post I ever wrote on October 15, 2008:
So yesterday as I was sitting in my minivan listening to my three boys fighting and shouting I suddenly knew clearly why God had given me three children.  With three small kids (ages almost 2, 4, and 5) you cannot even pretend that you are in control.  I like to think that I am on top of things and in control of my life, my kids, my surroundings.  But let's be honest.  The minivan is full of crumbs from snacks that the baby had to eat while being dragged to preschool pick up.  There are school papers and crafts strewn about and at least one book floating between the back car seats.  It is a mess.  When I take the van to the wonderful car wash that vacuums and cleans inside and out and not an hour later there are finger prints on windows and water bottles rolling around the back.  I turn on the radio and Laurie Berkner's singing about a rocketship blasting off.  We are late for the mom's group at church because shoes were missing and my middle son decided to have a meltdown in the Starbucks doorway because his little brother touched him.   So as I sit in my van waiting for the light in front of me to turn green so I can get to church before my youngest son's childcare room is full, I am reminded that I am not in control.  But amazingly, I have a God who is in control.  He gave me the three most wonderful, challenging, delightful boys in the whole world (yes, I know I am very biased).  And I like to think that He did give me a parking space right in front so I could get my coffee.  And when I got to church late and the class was full, He gave me a wonderful teacher who said, "don't worry honey, we'll find room for him" because she knew I needed a moment to sit down and hear God's words.  He is in control of the big.  He is in control of the small.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Book - 1: The Beginning

In case you didn't know, I am writing a novel. I wrote about the process a bit on Friday and promised the first scene today. So here it is, the beginning.


It was one of those surprisingly warm fall days. Students sensing the season’s change were filling the quad with the noises of Frisbee and acoustic guitars. The sunlight drifted down between the old oak trees that lined up in front of the old stone buildings that had watched over students for a hundred years. Mia loved the classic architecture, the stone buildings cold and forbidding to the outsider. Everything about this place felt collegiate, felt like a world unto itself.

Mia sat down and felt the sun on her face. She leaned back, stretching her face toward the warmth, feeling the grass under her hands. She dug her fingers into the dirt reaching the cool soil beneath. She breathed in the quiet moment, her body relaxed. It had been a busy week, a busy month. The first month always was. She should be studying. But the sun felt too good to get up and head back indoors. Her mind too cluttered by the phone call from home that woke her this morning.

“Hey.” The word broke through her thoughts.

Mia looked up and saw someone getting ready to sit down next to her. She recognized him immediately. Everyone knew him by name, a son of privilege that came out west for college. Their paths had not crossed until this year. And then only across a crowded room at one of the many parties that littered the neighborhoods surrounding campus the weekend before classes began. He had been talking to a group of guys standing around the makeshift bar. His arm wrapped around the shoulders of a girl with long blond hair wearing a very short skirt. His hand hung down in her front proprietarily. Both had clearly been enjoying the alcohol that was free flowing.

And now this guy was sitting down next to her, smiling.

“Hey,” he said again. Mia’s body tensed.

“Is that your way of saying hi? Of introducing yourself?” Mia asked, her tone clearly annoyed by the interruption.

His grin faltered for a second and then grew stronger. His eyes were now smiling along with the rest of his face. He was amused by her response. This girl was not going to be charmed as easily as he had hoped. But as he looked over at Mia, he could see that she was definitely worth charming. Her long brown hair fell in waves. She was tall and thin but not skinny. He could not see her eyes behind her sunglasses but she had a few freckles that sprinkled her nose and cheeks so he was guessing they were blue or green.

“Pardon my rudeness. My name is Timothy Ogden Dillard. My friends call me Tods,” he stated formally.

She looked at him dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt, the sleeves rolled up an attempt at casual. “Seriously. Tods? You do realize you are no longer at your prep school, right?” she asked not wanting an answer.

Now his smile faded a bit. He was well aware that he was no longer in prep school. His father had said the same words to him before he left home. He had used the same tone, dismissive and disappointed. Each email, each corporate annual report emblazoned with his name reminded him that he was now an adult, now required to learn the family business and to start to contribute to the family’s legacy.

Tim met her scathing tone with his own, “Do you have a name? Or were manners not part of the curriculum at your public school?”

“Timothy,” Mia said her face flush with anger, “I am leaving.”

Mia heard him call after her, “You can call me Tim.” How completely obnoxious she thought as she walked away.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Book - Halfway There

I am halfway through writing my book. Actually at 46,839 words I am a little more than halfway. Now comes the hard part, the finishing.

It was easy to start. I had some ideas. I made some time in my mornings to sit down and type. And the words flowed. Then I got stuck but I sat at my desk still. A few words would show up for me to type. Then more words came.

And then at one point, I stopped sitting down. Life got the better of me. My time got spent doing things I love. Until I remembered - this book is my thing this year. This I need to finish.

I had to go back and read what I wrote again. I printed all the pages and put them in a notebook. I sat down with a pencil and started to read.

Oh what a painful thing that is. To see how truly awful some of it was. All those edits, the page torn apart by grey lead lines and letters. But then there were glimpses of what it could be. And so I keep writing. I am committed to finishing.

My characters have surprised along the way. One guy keeps showing up. One has faded away.

The key scene that started the writing may actually not work in this book. May have to save it for another one (she writes hopefully).

And I have learned more about myself and my relationships along the way.

I recently asked my husband for help. Actually I sent him this text:
When we were dating how would you have felt if I told you I had danced with a guy while out with friends? 
His responses, we had quite the exchange, were interesting and forced me to think through more issues than I expected.

And so I will write. I will say no to things I love to make time for this, which I also love. But just in case I forget to stay focused, I am going to post the first scene from my book on Monday. I have posted a few snippets here and here. And maybe I will post a few more along the way.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Place In Politics

I am a Christian. But I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat either. In my state I was allowed to "Decline to State" a political party when I registered to vote and so I declined. But I do vote. (Most of the time. I tend to forget to turn in my ballot on the off cycle elections where we are asked to vote about land use issues pertaining to sewage treatment.)

I am free to avoid allegiances because I have no plans to seek public office. If I did, I would choose one of the major parties. I know which one but I am not telling because I would alienate half my friends.

Because that's the thing about politics in America. It is no longer a topic of discussion and debate, it is an all encompassing way of life. It taints how we watch the news. It taints how we act out our faith. It taints how we view our friends who disagree with us.

It's just sad.

This week two different things popped up on my Facebook stream that I found interesting.

First is a YouTube video with Kermit and Miss Piggy:

The second is this image of a quote by Stephen Colbert that is going around Facebook:

You can see the whole clip of Colbert's response to a Bill O'Reilly editorial here. It is an old clip but just as relevant today as it was then. 

And then today as I was reading Isaiah, I underlined this:
Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray.
- Isaiah 9:16
All this to say, I don't know the answers. But I don't think any one side does either.


I choose to write about politics today after reading a post by Nish Weiseth about why she was closing down her one blog The Outdoor Wife and starting a new one Nish Happens. The blog post, her last at The Outdoor Wife, made me think about my own blog. Nish writes about feeling boxed in on her old blog, not feeling free to write about what she wanted on any given day. She like most of us is more than her faith, more than her parenting, more than any one post. And I love her political debate tweets. They make me laugh in the sadness of it all.