About Me. More than you ever probably wanted to know…
I figured it was about time to update my ‘About Me’ page- although I suspect it’s more for me than you, dear readers. Sometimes it is good to simply take a moment and see where you are- and thinking about looking deeper than in the mirror is an excellent place to begin. Some of these are mundane, some surprising (hopefully) but all are the bits at the bottom of the pan that make a delicious gravy. (Yes, I’m the gravy.) I’m sticking with the number format because it limits my tendency to embellish the day away.
1. I am in discernment to become an Episcopal priest. I have been in discernment for over seven years and I have been denied postulancy three times. Still, I soldier on. I sometimes wonder if I am a modern-day Job, but I remain hopeful and dedicated nonetheless. (When God speaks to you, if you are smart, you listen…and listen…and listen.)
- I have three boys that are without a doubt, the best parts of me. Jack is 20, Paxton is 19 and Alec (the baby) just turned 17. They are each unique in wonderful ways but there is a thread of who we are as a family that runs through each of them. It is here we are all knotted together and I find an impenetrable bond that is irreplaceable, unbreakable and sometimes downright magical.
- I am a little obsessed with bugs. A very long time ago I decided all God’s creatures were valuable and beautiful and as a result, I became fascinated with watching hornets build their nests, ants running their errands and spiders spinning their webs. Ladybugs and dragonflies are especially adored and I am never happier than hearing a cicada in the summer or seeing lightning bugs light up the night sky.
- My bathroom flooded last week. (Like three inches of standing water.) The water was clean (thankfully) but ran out into my bedroom and saturated the carpet. (Again, am I Job?) I was lamenting this development until the claims adjuster for State Farm (no, his name was not Gary) arrived. The adjuster who visited me was a pleasantly handsome and intelligent man right around my age. He had a ribald sense of humor and we connected immediately. We had what I considered a really interesting and deep conversation (as one is able with the man digging around in your drawers while your room smells like a wet and fetid sweat sock). I spent a delightful part of my afternoon engaged in intellectual and humorous conversation with a perfect stranger. It was heavenly…and yes, he’s married.
- I love Mexican and French cuisine equally. Both do something to my taste buds that cannot be replicated by any other food. Both offer some kind of decadence but are so perfect in their simplicity. (Escargot with garlic butter or creamy fresh guacamole with cilantro and jalapeno washed down with a cerveza being magnificent examples…oh yeah.)
- Speaking of, a Napoleon (or Mille-feuille, if you are being fancy) is my favorite dessert, only to be bested perhaps by a piping hot sopapilla rolled in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with warm honey. Holy cow!
- I read something today that I loved: ‘You don’t need to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.’ So true. Sometimes I forget.
- I often run with scissors.
- I love white chocolate. I know technically it’s not really chocolate- but back in the day, Nestle made this Alpine bar- a white chocolate bar loaded with almond bits, that I still dream about today.
- I’ve been thinking a fair amount about when my youngest leaves next year for college. It will be the first time since I was in college myself that I will be completely unencumbered and on my own. Where will I go? What will I do?
- Some people give me a hard time about my previous statement. They say it is selfish to contemplate faraway places, leaving my sons without a home base. To that I say, wherever we are all together is home.
- When I was about 8 we traveled to Hawaii. About halfway through the trip, my mother called home to check on things. My Aunt Boo Boo told Mom everything was okay, but the entire house smelled rotten and she could not find the culprit. After the phone conversation, my mom relayed the news to us. Sheepishly, I hung my head (I’m certain looking guilty as sin) and averted my mother’s gaze prompting her to ask what was up. (I never could get away with anything.) I explained that I had taken an egg from the icebox and nestled it safely under my giant stuffed white rabbit’s behind hoping it would hatch into a baby chick while we were gone. I also had to tell her further, that I had placed my small bedside lamp right on the bunny’s tuchis as a warming lamp so as to serve as an incubator for said chick.
- When Aunt Boo Boo found the scene in my room the rabbit’s acrylic (poly-blend?) fur had singed to a delicate crisp, causing much consternation and a good talking-to from Mother about burning the house down- and the birds and the bees.
- The same man has cared for my fingernails for the last 15 years. His name is Paul and he originally hailed from the Đồng Nai Province of South Vietnam, before moving to Austin and then settling in Marble Falls several years ago. We are about the same age and I have watched him go through one messy divorce, a new marriage and the births of four children (3 boys and a beautiful little girl, Kim). I helped him learn English and I tutored him for his citizenship test. It was one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever done. He is a trusted friend and I love his family. (See below.)
- Someone said the other day that the “Vietnamese nail salon owners were taking over the United States with all their nail chains and tax breaks.” I simply answered, “What is the goal then? World domination where everyone has extremely well-groomed hands and feet?” People amaze me sometimes, and not in a good way.
- I love foie gras. I know how it is made and I should be outraged and ashamed- but I’m not. I know, I am a terrible person. (When it comes to goose liver anyway.)
- Otters are my favorite animals. Specifically, the North American River Otter- although the otters along the California coast are really quite something to watch. They lie on their backs and crack abalone shells on their bellies to get the meat out. So laidback (see what I just did there…) and so crafty. I think it is their care for one another and their playfulness I find so refreshing. That said, I believe my spirit totem is an owl- or perhaps a manatee. How can I not be completely in tune with an animal that knows only to love?
- Ms. Berlau-Faulkner was my very favorite teacher. I had her for two years, 3rd and 4th grade, respectively at Echol’s Elementary School. (What a blessing!) There were several others who ran a close second…but she was young and beautiful and so vibrant! She sparked a yearning for knowledge in me that has still not abated. I owe her an awful lot.
- Speaking of elementary school, I LOVED my school’s hot lunches! My mom used to come eat with me once or twice a week and we would talk about what I had learned so far that day over homemade Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, and mile-high yeast rolls or beef stew with homemade cinnamon rolls. Those were the days!
- Lots of food-related thoughts thus far. Are you sensing a trend? Also, it’s lunchtime.
- I have a new-ish fish in my fishbowl on my desk. He is an orange and white goldfish and a gift from my colleague Daniel’s kiddos. Addison, his oldest daughter and decidedly one of my biggest fans, named him Paschal after a character in a Disney movie I’ve never seen. I decided to name him simply Fish after the Abe Vigoda character in a favorite television show- Barney Miller. Rest in peace, Mr. Vigoda.
- A lot of very talented, magical and awe-inspiring artists passed away this year. I hear people say, “Oh another ‘celebrity’ died.” Well, not really. Someone died who left an extensive and brilliant catalogue of work that will be viewed or heard or experienced by millions, perhaps billions of people for generations to come. That is significant on so many levels.
- Classic advice from The Gambler: You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em…know when to walk away, know when to run. You never count your money while you’re sittin’ at the table- there’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.
- I do not think I want to get remarried or even live with someone. I’m not saying this will never change, but right now the answer is a definitive “nope”. I like my life exactly as it is. Do I wish I sometimes had more frequent overnight company? Of course. But as I told my friend Ana, “When you live with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, they take up a lot of room.”
- I love really expensive shoes. This used to not be such a big deal but now, seeing as how I am almost always poor, I have had to make adjustments. I still splurge every now and then and buy a really fantastical pair of heels. (I can’t help myself!) I confess my last purchase however, was a pair of Stan Smith Adidas primeknit tennis shoes in ballet slipper pink. They are awesome.
- At the same time, I ordered an old-school pair of Adidas Gazelle’s (soccer shoes) because they reminded me of one of my closest friends from high school- Phil. I love that guy.
- I am an empath. This basically means I am highly intuitive and in tune with humankind and the world around me. Often, I feel other’s emotions, desires, wishes, hopes, illness… before ever feeling my own. I have learned (somewhat) how to best serve God and others with this gift but sometimes it still sucks. It also is meaningful in a way I have trouble describing. I find it brings me closer to God with every exchange and frankly, tends to bring others closer to God as well. It is, I am certain, why God has called me to be a priest within the church- and why eventually I will be so damn good at it.
- Case in point about my own emotions- I have been head-over-heels bat-shit crazy in love with the same guy for almost five years. (The Cajun we call him.) Now anyone else would’ve given up by now and waved the inevitable white flag (Dido is ringing in my ears…), but not me. I remain steadfast in my perpetually optimistic, organic belief that the universe has thrown us together in a whirling dervish of true cosmic import. (Like I said, tough to see my own stuff- see also: deluded, delusional or again, bat-shit crazy.) Until my heart gives out it’s quite the conundrum. I apologize for none of it. I am what I am.
- I truly believe people are inherently good. We are created in God’s image and I tend to believe this means our minds and more importantly, our souls. Everyone is worthy (and capable) of redemption and reconciliation. Even the people we deem unlovable, unforgivable or unconvinced by the word of God are worthy of Christ’s love. He made that so.
- Kill Bill, Volume I and II, respectively are in my humble opinion, the best kung-fu movies of all time. I know, I know, it seems some sort of sacrilege to deem Quentin Tarantino the godfather of the genre- but man oh man, once you have seen the beauty and grace (and smashing cinematography) of the epic battle between The Bride and O-Ren Ishii, you never forget it. (And yes, I watch a LOT of Kung-fu movies. Bruce Lee was a bad ass. And Chow Yun Fat in ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’? Swoon. )
- My dog Django purrs when I rub his ears. (Yes, he is also named after a Tarantino character. I might have a slight obsession with the filmmaker.)
- I love my parents more than words could ever do justice and have never had occasion to quarrel with them. Well, other than the time I spent a good solid half a year drinking my days (and nights) away at the University of Arkansas. I had a blast and made lifelong friends I still adore, but I got serious and finally dropped the rest of the year and timidly explained to my dad that I had decided to go back to the small liberal arts women’s college from whence I had come. It was the only time I ever really heard sarcasm or grit in his voice as he said, “I’m really happy you came to this conclusion because the conversation at dinner was going to be very awkward otherwise.”
- I really enjoy NPR. I do not watch or listen to national (or international) news but I love the personal, intricately woven stories they publish on air. Snap Judgment, Think, StoryCorps…such good journalism and so important in a time when we have forgotten how important the art of the story actually is to the fabric of whom we are culturally.
- I probably do not wash my hair enough. I read something a long time ago about the essential oils in your scalp that are lost when you shampoo too often and so I began to skip a day or two. It has never turned into “OMG have you seen Ashley’s matted mess of a mane?” but there are days when a bun is an absolute necessity.
- I still like to visit the park and go round and round on the merry-go-round. I prefer to lie flat and look at the sky trying to keep focus as the sky shifts before me. Conversely, I also enjoy the sensation of closing my eyes and imagining I am flying as I spin around.
- It might be the spinning I fancy. I also love Ferris wheels and the Zipper ride at the state fair. Of course, I also love funnel cakes and foot-long corn dogs and fresh-squeezed lemonade and fried pies and hand-churned ice cream. Yes, back to the food.
- I love getting flowers. I know it is silly to love something that will die within days, but there is something so lovely in knowing someone thought enough of me to pick out an arrangement of blossoms that was uniquely suited to who I am. I love the thought of that. And I will confess here too, they needn’t be hothouse flowers- I will take wildflowers tied with string. In fact, milk thistle is one of my favorite blooms and it is a weed!
- I drink tequila neat with a lime. I’m not any cooler than anyone else; this is just my alcoholic beverage of choice. I will say, in my realm of things I dig about myself, one is definitely the ability to sip wine or spirits and taste the individual notes found within. That is why I enjoy tequila so much. It is such a heady mix of flavors that I am constantly surprised by it. I am able to do this with perfumes too. Maybe I missed my calling. (No, not really. I’m pretty certain about that.)
- I was ecstatic when Bob Dylan won his Pulitzer for his ‘profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.’ Ya think? Some of the most transformative, enlightening and existential moments in life have come from listening to music. The lyrics having every bit as much of an impact as the composition itself. In fact, they can at times be revelatory and completely essential to what is being played. As a friend of mine opines, “You cannot listen to Bill Withers sing ‘Who is he and what is he to you?’ without hearing in his voice that he wants to die. Powerful stuff.
- I feel connected to the ocean. It doesn’t really matter which one. There is a vastness to the water and a mystery to its depths and all contained therein that recall in me the mysteries of my own faith and my unknowable and yet, totally intimate relationship to God. In fact, one of my favorite pieces of scripture is this: “Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.” That is some seriously beautiful language right there… And can’t you just see God brooding above the watery Abyss?
- I refuse to wear “cheaters” (reading glasses). I am not by any means obstinate about my age or the aging process, quite the contrary. I will never again have an ass you can bounce a quarter off of- I am okay with this. Do I wish I was less ‘squishy’ in places? Sure. But I like the silver hairs I am finding with more regularity in my noggin and I really am still pretty nice to look at. My brain works extraordinarily well and I sing like a bird. All that is to say, I want to the see the world out of my own two eyes (with my contact lens’ help of course). On occasion, I am forced to wear my glasses, a quirky pair of lavender and black cat’s eyes, when my peepers let me know I need a vacation from the contacts. That seems enough for now! I’ll keep you posted.
- I love kissing. When I say kissing I mean the romantic kind involving generally ME and a handsome man friend. I really do. There is something in the rhythm of it…the closeness of it and the honest-to-goodness trust required to fully give yourself over to the rapture of locking lips with another human being. There’s that moment when all the synapses fire and the adrenaline surges and the butterflies swell to a fever pitch in my belly… Oh boy.
- I am not ever casual in my dealings with others. In my heart, I know every moment is a gift and nothing is unimportant. Sometimes this gets me pigeonholed as ‘serious’ because everyone around me is professing loudly that they are just ‘simple’ and I am somehow ‘complex’. That’s okay. If I understand myself and know my own truth: that whatever I do in the lives of others matters- not only to me but God, the individual, and the world… well, I’ll take complex over simple any day.
- I work the NY Times crossword every day. Well, almost every day. I acquired this habit honestly from my parents, who work the crossword in tandem and have done so for many years now. My father is an early riser and he starts the crossword and leaves it for my mother to complete when she wakes. Several years ago I noticed he intentionally leaves some blanks even if he knows all the answers so that this is a task that must be completed by them both. I love this.
- I have no regrets. Absolutely none. It is a fool’s errand to look back on what might have been when you can look forward to what still could be.
- And finally, one to grow on:
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Or maybe this one:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves