Thursday, July 2, 2015

When can I forget about someone else's tragedy?

I have never been a good comforter. In objectively sad situations, I tend to bypass the grieving stage and dive headfirst into insensitive jokes. When people are hurting, I feel awkward and generally try to casually remove myself from their presence as quickly as possible.

I remember when I was a teenager at camp, I was reading in my bed when the only other girl in the room began to cry. I sunk lower into my cot and tried to make myself as small as possible in the hopes she’d forget I was there while I silently panicked. What am I supposed to do? Should I ask her if she’s ok? Because I’d really like to finish this chapter of Harry Potter.

Another girl entered shortly after and immediately ran to her side, gave her a hug, and asked her what was wrong. I chastised myself. A hug! I could totally have done that!

So my question for today is: How do I help a long-distance friend who is grieving?

My best friend Hope’s newborn baby girl died.

Hope has had an incredibly Christ-centered attitude since she learned a few months ago that their baby might not survive. She told me,“If God decides to heal her, He will be glorified by her miraculous healing. If He doesn’t, then He will be glorified in how we respond.”

She has been striving to trust in God throughout this whole ordeal, and I’ve been reminded and amazed at the amount of pain God can bear. The pain from one tragedy can be enough to cripple one person, yet God can handle it. He has the ability to bear the burdens of every single person. His pain tolerance is infinite.

It’s astounding the amount of love and support she and her husband are receiving already. There’s an online campaign to pay for her medical expenses and another site where people can sign up to bring them meals. But as the weeks, months, and years go by, they will stop receiving food and gifts, and we will stop asking them how they’re holding up or even mentioning their baby Nolah’s name.

It’s hard to imagine that this is only day one of a great sorrow that will never truly dissipate. I think I expect people to eventually move on, to look back on a time that once caused them immense sadness and feel nothing. Because once I’ve forgotten about their tragedy, shouldn’t they?

David Brooks wrote an article for The New York Times titled, “The Art of Presence”, which featured the Woodiwiss family. The elder daughter, Ann, died in a freak horseback riding accident. Five years later, her younger sister Catherine was biking to work when she was hit by a car, enduring severe injuries and an arduous recovery. Brooks shared the responses to grief they found helpful and unhelpful after enduring these two tragedies.

Do be a builder. The Woodiwisses distinguish between firefighters and builders. Firefighters drop everything and arrive at the moment of crisis. Builders are there for years and years, walking alongside as the victims live out in the world. Very few people are capable of performing both roles.”

I want to encourage you to mourn with those who mourn, even if it seems like they are no longer mourning. Whether its been weeks, months, or years, be a builder for someone you care about and show them that they are loved and their pain hasn’t been forgotten. It is never too late to be a builder. Even if you feel awkward or comforting doesn’t come naturally to you as it doesn’t to me, step out for their sake.

As Catharine Woodiwiss wrote in her post, “It is a much lighter burden to say, ‘Thanks for your love, but please go away,’ than to say, ‘I was hurting and no one cared for me.’ Err on the side of presence.”

Enter your email address:
Delivered by FeedBurner

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bye, Cycling

The joyous goat excursion was only the beginning of Saturday’s activities. Katie, a pixie-haired adventure fiend who once took me on a 12-mile run from Louisville to Boulder just for kicks and shin splints, invited me on a short notice trip to Denver’s Highlands Fair. I had been to the Highland Games in Alaska where I watched bearded men toss cabers and kilted Scots juggle fire on stage while a band played (is that a thing?), so I was quite stoked to revisit my fake heritage. I skimmed the Fair’s website for anything Scotland-related. After failing to see anything relevant, I assumed I was too excited to comprehend words and agreed.

The Highlands Fair, however, referred to the district of Denver where the event was located. But, redheaded men not included, there were still plenty of weird things to see.
If I have my baby here, do I get 20% off
my next floor-length maxi dress purchase?
For when you want to hit someone as hard as you can without getting arrested
This reminds me of the days when I used to pour table salt into my hand and eat it until I felt like I was going to have a heart attack

Why is it so dark in there?
Why are all the dogs wearing low-slung jeans and calling me "Bro"?
After seeing all this goodness, as well as people nomming on three pound rice krispie treats the size of how they should always be, we embarked on a journey to dinner. We settled on WaterCourse Foods, enticed by the solitary “$” on Yelp and this description: A cute cafe space with Watership Down-inspired murals sets the scene for vegetarian dishes.

The restaurant was nestled five miles away in downtown Denver, so we unloaded our bikes and began peddling contentedly, dreaming of the lettucey things we were about to eat in only twenty minutes time.
But, as Christopher Columbus once said: “Where the heck are we?”
Through side streets, detours, highway lanes, and closed bike paths, our bumbling bike jaunt soon became a dreaded trek. 

Such hunger. 
Much anger. 
Scarce completely formed thoughts. 

We peddled, and peddled, and peddled, and pretended to have a merry time, and peddled, and peddled.
90 minutes later, at an unbelievable 18:00 min/mile pace, we arrived at the Watercourse, where we were met not with a table, but with this:

Why am I waiting? Last time I checked, I am an American and I am entitled to my rights:
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of instant gratification
Our wait gave us ample time to view the fine decor that had caught our attention all those year-like minutes ago.
 I don’t know what I expected. More blood probably.
For our appetizer, we ordered a strawberry milkshake made as quickly as possible.

Though it was a vegetarian restaurant, our dinner was surprisingly tasty. The “chicken” tenders were actually just heavily breaded cauliflower. If you take out the cauliflower and just dip the breading in ranch dressing, it tastes just like KFC.

Our ride back to the car was only three miles, and we were certain we had figured out how to beat Denver at its cruel bike game. But like most twenty-somethings with big ideas, we were wrong.

Since we were so off schedule at this point, we had the great fortune of seeing Denver by bike at night. Did you know that there are a lot of sketchy-looking middle-aged men in tank tops that walk around Colfax at night? Or that a bunch of rats live on the path down by the river? Put those on the list of things you won’t see on an official walking tour. 
On your left we have—-OH GOD, VERMIN

One hour and another failed attempt at a quick trip across town later, we arrived at Forest Room 5. It was like drinking a beer in Narnia, except with a bunch of hipsters instead of anthropomorphic beavers, like these fine folk:
Forest in a Forest
Sarah in a Sassy Stare
As much as we rued our existence at times that day, it was definitely worth it, for we were filled with inspiration and a spirit of vengeance. One day, we will bike across Denver faster than suburbanites taking a beleagured post-Cheesecake Factory walk of pain. 

Not anytime soon, but one day.

Enter your email address:
Delivered by FeedBurner

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Llama Tell Ewe an Anecgoat

I didn’t want to write a new post until I had exciting news to share, like switching jobs or signing up for Hulu Plus. Finally, the day has come, because I just pet a baby goat.

Sarah, Eric and I ventured to Mountain Flower Goat Dairy this weekend where they let you pet goats. For free! We were almost there right when it opened for the day, but Eric had to stop and get gas, so naturally we were two hours late.

The goats are, for a lack of a better word, goat-like. 
No. I can do better.
The babies are majestic jumbo-sized marshmallows that you just want to toast over an open fire and guzzle out their innards like a disappointing S’more. But we can’t do that, because in the pens are guard llamas. 
According to legend and one of the volunteer guides, the guard llamas stand watch over the goat herd and protect them from predators, but all of that can change in an instant. People aren’t allowed to interact with the guard llamas because they may imprint and begin to think humans are also llamas, causing them to snap and start neck wrestling and attempting to mate with any llama-person they see fit.

Just killed a mannnnn

[Photo: Erc]
Instead of riding one of the llamas into the sunset like we had planned, we hunkered down in the pen of the goat mothers. The moms were laying down in a line and they all looked so exhausted, like they had fulfilled their sole purpose by spawning temporarily precious fluffernutters and were just waiting for their bloated bodies to succumb to sweet sweet death. It made me really forward to having kids of my own.

But then, in a twist of happiness, the goats rose and started to walk toward us and nudge us like plush bumper cars. The promise of pats was all they needed to make life worth living again.
Rack 'em stack 'em goats
This is the most joyous picture any of us has ever taken
[Photo: Erc]
The goat on the left is an American Lamacha
The goat on the right is I don't know what kind of goat that is

Back in the kiddie pen, I noticed a real-life human child trying to enter into the mamas’ pen. I decided to pretend to like children and help him. The gate was being blocked by a stubborn goat, so I gently yet definitely shoved her out of the way with my adult strength. Beaming, I held the gate open for the child. But he just stood there.
During that time, one of the hags escaped into the kiddie pen. 
I stared at the boy, waiting for an explanation. 
“I don’t want to go in. I’m a volunteer.” 
Say what now, child? Because look at the mess you just made. Penelope is running amok. If you were being paid, I’d have your wages garnished and served on top of the goats’ hay.

We stopped to say one last goodbye to the 10-day old twins, who were being guarded by this hardened Samuel L. Jackson look-alike.
The "L" is for llama
Now get off my property
Sweet dreams, baby clouds

Enter your email address:
Delivered by FeedBurner

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The case of the mysterious unlocked door

We'rreeeee back!!!

We were welcomed into our home with a gift bag from our friendly, perpetually dry, upstairs neighbors Mark and Becky, who not only gave us chocolate, but wrote us a three-page note detailing our frustrating experience.
Like we don't remember, Mark and Becky
A pair of pears for a pair of us!
This must be the picture where I put the camera on self-timer and then ran into the wall,
causing Adrienne to fall into an unnecessary fit of laughter
Sentimental picture SUCCESS
Everything in the apartment was in tip-top shape. The contractors had taken our toilet paper holder and shower rod for some reason, but who needs bathroom fixtures when you're never planning on getting wet again?

The very first order of business was walking on our new carpet without making a squishing sound and then laying down on it while not getting wet.  I hardly recognized the scent of the place. It smelled like air. Pure, not-damp, free of black mold, air. Air that gave us life instead of implanting spores in our lungs that would slowly kill us. Ahhhh, it's the little things.

My apartment key was sadly a casualty of the flood, so I left our gloriously new apartment unlocked before I journeyed to work. When I returned home that night, I was greeted with a knob that wouldn't turn and a door that wouldn't budge.

But this couldn't be! I knew I had left the door unlocked. I had checked it twice, even. Immediately, a sense of betrayal washed over me like the Colorado flood.
Why apartment, why? After all of these months, through which my promise to return to you never faltered, do you lock me out now when I specifically told you not to? 

I knew i hadn't locked the door, I was almost positively certain. Perhaps my landlady had stopped by to make sure we had moved everything into our apartment from 5A, noticed the door was unlocked, and then locked it herself. That must be the case! I was almost positively certain of it!

I alerted the main parties in the lockout case. My sister asserted she hadn't been home since Sunday night, the neighbor had been at work and hadn't seen anything, and my landlady hadn't stopped by either. And I knew none of them believed my "It was unlocked and now it's locked!" story. 

"That sucks!" said my sister.
"Have some tea," said my neighbor.
"Haha, that's so strange!" said my landlady, who had previously been my prime suspect in the lockout case. 
"That'll be $50," said emergency lockout services.

The locksmith arrived and let me in. 
"Oo! Was it deadbolted?" I exclaimed, sensing a breakthrough. The door can only be deadbolted with a key from the outside, which would mean that someone else had locked it.
"Nope," the locksmith said gruffly.
My hopes and dreams sank, much like our carpet had when it was drenched in floodwaters two months ago. I thanked the locksmith, but I gave him a look to let him know I was going to get to the bottom of this. It was dark out, so I don't think he saw it, but I'm sure he felt it.

I moseyed into my apartment and sat on the dry carpet that apparently didn't want me to be there. After some quality moping time, I walked into the bathroom to continue being said. Oh the things I could have done with fifty dollars, like have it in my bank account, I thought. Then, I looked in the mirror and noticed something strange.
Shout out to Makenna Wesner for giving me an Alaskan flag
that conveniently doubles as half of a shower curtain
Looks like an ordinary bathroom, right?

Right! But it shouldn't! Yesterday, we were missing a toilet paper holder and a shower rod, and then magically today, we have those things. This means the contractors were here during the day, which means they locked the door while I was at work, which means I didn't lock myself out of the apartment, the contractors did, and my apartment still loves me!
BOOM! Sherlock HOMED.
Because this is a case about where I live
I should have known. It's always the person who isn't even on the suspect list.

Enter your email address:
Delivered by FeedBurner

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving Part II: The Boys of Thanksgiving (And How to Properly Ask Out a Girl)

I was asked out by two guys on the same day, and contrary to what every Hallmark movie has ever taught me, I did not quickly become wrapped up in a complicated love triangle where I start falling for one guy, the one that seems perfect at first but we later and sadly realize we have nothing in common, and then end up with the previously in second place guy. This was much more realistic. Because it just happened in real life.

The Ask-Out
Boy #1: The guy with the puppy asked Chris for my number the next day. He was nice enough, mildly awkward, but also had a kind of weird "I-like-to-twirl-knives-around-my-hands" personality. Since he didn't actually ask me for my number, I told Chris and Ad that they could give him my number if they told him I wasn’t interested in dating, only friends. To which he replied to them, "Friends, or friends with bennies?" How about NO.

Boy #2: I was sitting at the library and a guy from an adjacent table came up to me and said something like, "Hi, sorry to bother you, I just saw you sitting there and I was wondering if you'd like to get a coffee with me or something sometime?" I said 'Suuuuuuure' and he gave me his email address,, so I could set it up. He was also kind of awkward, had a dark, frizzy afro and wore glasses. I'm guessing he's a nerd of some sort, but I'm not sure what kind yet. Science geek? Gamer? Communist? Time will tell.

The Follow-Up
Boy #1: I was quite confident that Boy #1 wouldn’t call me seeing as how I wasn't interested in dating him. However, I was mildly incorrect. On Saturday, he texted me: 
Boy #1: Hey Audrey, this is Chris’ friend, Boy #1, I was curious if you’d like to do something this week?
I told him I probably wouldn’t be in Denver this week, but I’d let him know if things changed (they won’t), and the conversation basically ended there.

Boy #2: I wasn’t planning on contacting Boy #2, but my friend John told me I needed to live and little and I believed him. I sent Boy #2 my email address, saying it was Audrey from the library. He responded later that day.
Boy #2:
Wow, cool.

I'm studying right now, feel free to stop by, so I remember what you look like ;)


To which I am not responding. If he had a fluffy Burmese mountain dog puppy, it may be a different story, but in reality, I just can’t motivate myself to go out of my way to be friendly to someone I’m not too gun-ho about seeing.

I was surprised how these boys went about asking a girl out. I thought the proper way to ask was common knowledge, but apparently not. Boys, hopefully you’ll find these steps to be a no-brainer and these two guys are the clueless abnormality.

How to Ask a Girl Out

1) Ask her for her number. Don’t ask her friend to ask her friend for her number, or ask her friend for her number without considering that the girl you’re interested in may not want you to have it. It’s off-putting and mildly creepy to receive a text out of the blue from a guy who never actually asked you if it was OK to contact you. You’ll have much more success by putting on your man pants and asking the girl yourself.

2) Call her. The key word being call. Don’t text. Don’t email. Not only is it easier to reject you in writing, but it’s way more flattering to receive an actual phone call. Since we’re not in the ‘90s where you’d be shaking in your boots because there was always the chance that the girl’s dad could answer the phone, having to actually talk to the chick you like will have to be nerve-racking enough.  Texts are plentiful and calls are few and far between these days, so the girl will appreciate that you purposefully contacted her without the copout in your back pocket if she rejects you of, “Oh sorry, my buddy took my phone LOL. I wasn’t actually asking you out.”

3) Have a plan. Some sort of plan. Don’t say, “Hey do you want to do something sometime?” If she says, “Sure”, you best have a follow-up, boy. But do yourself a favor, and start off with something a wee bit specific, like:
“Would you like to get coffee this week?” [Yes] “Yayyyy! What day works best for you?”
“I’m going to try and trap a squirrel using a recycling bin, a stick tied to a piece of a string, and several glazed almonds. Would you like to come?”
“Here’s some chocolate. Can I eat it with you?” (Because foooooood)

While I thought being asked out would be at the very least flattering, the opposite happened. I was quite bummed out and had a bit of a self-esteem crisis for a few hours.  It felt like the lameness of the guys was a reflection onto me. A sneaky, vague text and an incredibly strange email? Is that all I’m worth? Then I discovered I was being silly, looked myself over and realized, Yep, still awesome.

So hopefully, those steps seemed like common sense to you. If not, for the love of your love life, take note.

*Note: If you use these steps and it lands you a date, I accept soft pretzels and cookies as payment.

Enter your email address:
Delivered by FeedBurner

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Part I: The day that pretty much wasn't awkward

In this Part I of Thanksgiving, you’ll see how Thanksgiving Day was mainly a day of celebrating averting awkwardness.
In tomorrow’s Part II of Thanksgiving, you’ll see how the day after Thanksgiving I was asked out awkwardly by two guys. Excitement!

I spent Thanksgiving with Adrienne's boyfriend's (Chris) family, and I thought it was going to be quite awkward, especially considering Adrienne had only just met them a few days prior and she said there wouldn't be any board games or puppies to play with. But in a surprising plot twist, a bundle of fun was had. Chris' dad Cordell is super white despite his obvious black man's name and his mom Carol is super no-nonsense. Right when I walked in, she barked, "Adrienne's sister! Grab me that chair!" I fell in love with her immediately.

They also had a few family friends over who had kids our age that we dined with at the kids' table. Aside from the twenty-somethings, I had the great privilege of meeting a fourteen-year-old girl who was the most stereotypical teenager I have ever met. She had straight blond hair and wore black tights and UGG boots and whenever we talked about football, she'd whine and say, "Let's talk about the Kardashians! OhMyGosh so last week, Kim was...." She also pulled out her pink bedazzled phone and thrust it toward the ceiling lamp, which made Adrienne and I visibly cower in our seats exactly like when Belle tells Beast to step into the light.

Then, one of the guys there who actually lived in the neighborhood said he had a 7 month old golden retriever puppy at home. So a couple of us moseyed over there, took a shot of Thanksgiving tequila for good measure, then brought the dog back and made my dreams come true.

The awkward moments of the night were at an all-time low of two.
No. 1:
One of the moms, Cathy, said to Adrienne, “You’re so nice!" Then she turned slightly to look at me and didn't say anything. 
I said, “Cathy! You made it sound like you're actually saying, "Adrienne, you're so nice! Your sister on the other hand..."" 
Cathy replied, "No, I've just known her 30 minutes longer, so you have 30 minutes to catch up." 
"Well in that case, 'How are you doing, beautiful eyes."
Her daughter quickly jumped in with, "Hey, quit hitting on my mom!"

No. 2:
I left to use the bathroom and as I was leaving, Carol shouted, "First door on the left!" and then some other nonsense.
"Thanks Carol, but I've been there many times!" I shouted back.
Then I realized she wanted me to grab the Pictionary game, but instead everyone heard me yell about how much I like urinating in her house.

But other than that, not too shabby!

Enter your email address:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The farm from Craigslist

FEMA recently awarded Adrienne and me about $1700 in rent assistance. At first, we were rightfully stoked. We could finally get that TV like the last FEMA guy tried to swindle for us (or buy every flavor of pop-tart all at once like I always wanted) and just live out of our car instead. But as with all government funding, there are strings attached. We have to use the check for its allotted purposes, so laundering money is apparently still frowned upon even in a time of physical and emotional crisis. And, seeing as how we aren't the only ones who had to evacuate, there are next to no places to rent. What's the use of $1700 if we can't spend it? Especially if we can't spend it on pop-tarts?

On a whim, I decided to check for house sitting gigs on Craigslist. I found one sole posting in Gunbarrel from a desparate girl whose sitters fell through at the last minute, and she needed animal care as well. Animals? On a country road in the middle of nowhere where no one can hear me scream?  Sounds like a no-brainer. Why stay with loving friends when I can invade a complete stranger's house who may or may not be luring me to my imminent death by water well? 

But instead of getting killed at the Craigslist house, I landed in farm heaven.

Gosh, I can't wait to eat your unborn children
My friendly Neighh-bor!
Mastiff fight!
Bonus: I have my very own stripper pole and an unlimited supply of Hello Kitty merchandise to stare at me while I sleep!
I think I'll be a natural
The girl who rents the apartment was incredibly nice and quite chill. She gave me permission to pillage her basket of goods she picks each week at the CSA farm share she's a part of, granted me free range of her unhatched chicken babies, and told me to help myself to whatever's in the cupboards (which let's face it, I was going to do anyway because I'm a hungry yet horrible person). 

All in all this is to say, Craigslist is the best and the government…well, you tried.

Enter your email address:
Delivered by FeedBurner