9mm.

I’ll admit it. I’m a cynic. So it turns out that the thing that delights me is often that which just surprises me, the thing that catches me off guard and upsets my equilibrium. When you’re pretty sure you’ve got the world figured out, you fall in love with what you never saw coming. Prepared for mediocre, you got magnificent. And in spite of yourself, you’re left scratching your head saying, ‘wowie.’

As I took the 9mm into my small hands I can’t say I wasn’t terrified. Everyone wants to pick up that gun and act like they know what they’re doing—just like in the movies. This was nothing like that. I raised the gun, closed one eye, and aimed at the target. I positioned my finger around the trigger. I stood there. My hand was starting to shake. Everything was shaking—the gun, the target, the world. My heart was beating faster. I set the gun down and looked over at my friend and closest thing to a gun expert that I have in my circle. “I’m scared,” I said. “That’s okay,” he answered. “Just take your time.”

I didn’t think time was really going to help. It was time to, as they say, ‘pull the trigger.’ I took a deep breath, picked up the gun again, and rolled back my shoulders. I stood there a little more. It felt like hours. I took more deep breaths. I pulled back hesitatingly on the trigger, go, go, GO. I fired. The gun kicked up, as the universe exploded in my hands, the shell popped out the side and I stood there semi-paralyzed. Trauma.

Suddenly I was six years old, afraid of everything from house fires to spiders to down escalators. As a child, I cowered when I was afraid—and I was afraid a lot. Now that I am an adult, its called anxiety, but it’s not all that different. This was anxiety on speed. However, I am learning that it is possible to be terrified and to do what terrifies you…at the same time. It’s called ‘my daily life.’

I fired the gun again, and again, and again, my body undergoing mini trauma after mini trauma as my index finger created each explosion. The adrenaline flooded my nervous system over and over. But despite the shakes and the sweating, I got two bullets in the center circle and quite a few that weren’t too far off. I sort of wanted to take my target home, but I thought that might be a little strange.

For me, the delight came from the gun—such a small object, and yet it creates this explosion that ignites every nerve and sense in my body, almost to the point of meltdown. It overtakes me and rearranges me. That doesn’t happen everyday (thank God). And after we’d shot through a good number of bullets, we decided we’d had our fill. By that time, of course, my nerves were raw. But utterly unglued as I was that afternoon, I can’t say that I wasn’t also quite unexpectedly delighted.

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Draws.

I’m going to put it out there right up front. This post is about underwear. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air-inspired title might have already tipped you off. But if you are a transplant from the Victorian era and offended by talk of undergarments, then click your way out of here now. You’ve been forewarned.

Most people are picky about their pantaloons so I’m nothing special there. And some of us might wish the wearing of such weren’t the deeply-ingrained social convention it is. (Not naming any names). A few years ago I came upon the greatest underwear this girl has ever known. Got them at Costco. Seem a little lowbrow? Maybe so, but if we did a secret poll, I bet there are a lot more satisfied Costco underwear shoppers than anywhere else. Yes, I’m talking about you, worthless Victoria’s Secret. But even the best Costco underwear can’t be made to last much more than three or four years of consistent wear. Eventually I had to put the last pair out to pasture.

Underwear buying is a major anxiety for me. Everyone is of course concerned about the binding factor, commonly known as the wedgie or the snuggie. That’s bad news. But I find the bigger issue is the waistband. I buy my underwear at least one size too large because if that band starts to cut into my hips causing even a hint of that unsightly ‘spillover’,  I just lose it. So I stand in the underwear section trying to look into my crystal ball and predict what is going to happen to these suckers once they hit the dryer. And what does a size 5 really mean? It seems to have no discernible correlation to dress or pant size whatsoever. It’s an unhelpful number; might as well be size 62 or 105 for all it tells me about how they’re actually going to fit. That which looks so inviting in the package could be pure disappointment in the wearing. And I don’t have the kind of cash to just be throwing it away on bad briefs.

We all have our underwear issues. Maybe we don’t talk about them at the dinner table (unless you’re my family), but we certainly think about it, face it, struggle with it. So when you finally land on the perfect pair (which hopefully came in a package of friends just like it in different colors), you want to sing it from the rooftops. Here it is: Boy shorts. I never would have imagined I would go in this direction, but on a recent trip to Costco, I noticed a reasonably priced three-pack and I lingered there for some minutes thinking it through. Boy shorts? What would my sisters say? Is there some stigma attached to boy shorts that I don’t know about? I’m going to be traveling with those vultures this summer. Am I going to get made fun of? What will I actually think of them? I can’t bring them back. Finally I decided to make the $9.99 commitment and I threw them in my cart.

Friends, I have hit the underwear trifecta. My life has been changed, if even in a small way. Boy shorts are to women what the boxer brief was to men. No wedgies, no spillover, no lines!  I don’t know who thought them up, but that genius deserves the knickers-of-the-year award. Everything I never knew I always wanted. I’m converted.

Scapes.

I don’t like to trashtalk God’s creation, but I have to admit there are a few choice organisms I have to scratch my head at. Let’s even leave people completely out of it. It’s hard to know what plants and animals were fully intended creations, and which were evil mutations occasioned by the Fall. I’d say there’s a fair amount of ambiguity around things like locusts, poison ivy, bed bugs, the black plague, and cilantro.

But then, there are some curious and strange creations that are so phenomenal, you just can’t help singing out their praises and God’s too, of course. Imagine if you will, a long whip-like green vegetable. Like a super-long, flexible green bean with some nodules along the length. Their full name is ‘garlic scapes’, but I don’t know if that’s because they are somehow related or attached to garlic or because they taste like garlic or all of the above. Ask a farmer, okay. I’m just here to tell you, these things rock

I don’t have any pictures of scapes because, as you have surely noticed, this blog does not feature photography. My photography is an abomination so it has no place here, but if you’d like to see some of my subpar shots, head on over to my other blog, Meximoxie (HERE) where I let it sneak by with a ‘pass.’ Here at The Delighted Life, however, we have to put on our imagination hats and rely on words to create the pictures just like in the old days.

Scapes are actually something you can compare to something else, which I think is rare in the fruits and vegetable world. People want to compare an unknown to a known and it usually makes no sense. Like dragon fruit is really hot right now but I can’t even fathom what it would taste like. I’ve written on jicama (HERE) and of course people want to know what it tastes like. I don’t really know what to say. One friend said she’d heard it resembled a cross between an apple and a raw potato. Can you raise your hand please if you’ve ever eaten raw potato and then explain why on earth? I think it’s more like a water chestnut only sweeter, if that helps, unless you don’t like water chestnuts. I think you could still like jicama. But why wouldn’t you like water chestnuts?  We fight for them in our house come stir-fry night. My dad will be all casual-like and non-chalant saying, “Oh hey there, don’t take all the water chestnuts,” when what he really means is: if you take all the water chestnuts I might have to beat you with the frying pan.

Think green beans. Everybody knows what green beans are like. Scapes are like green beans that taste like they’ve been steamed with garlic. Brilliant! Garlic green beans—that’s exactly what scapes are like and they’re especially delicious in a mixture of steamed vegetables with balsamic vinegar poured all over them (see my ode to balsamic HERE). I see that there are a lot of recipes for garlic scape pesto. It’s probably great, but scapes hold their own. You don’t need a complicated recipe to enjoy the best they have to offer.

I’ve never seen them at a grocery store, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. I got mine as a part of my farm share last week. Look for them at the farmer’s market.

Grass Roots.

I wouldn’t normally think to define a group of biker chicks as delightful, nor say that reading about them brought a tear to my eye, but not all biker chicks are created equal.

Meet Las Guerreras (warrior women). This is a band of ten or so Mexican ladies who ride around Ciudad Juarez on pink motorcycles, dressed in purple shirts and a whole lot of leather. If you’re familiar with biker gangs, well, that’s what these ladies look like. They cruise the city, unafraid, as they visit and care for families who’ve been affected by the drug wars in their city.

Throughout the week they are housewives and factory workers, but come Sunday, these broads saddle up and start riding into the most vulnerable neighborhoods in Juarez to deliver food, medicine, and comfort to the people living there. According to the ladies, they do it for the joy of helping others, to demonstrate positive examples to young people, and so that Juarez will be known for more than drugs and killing. These chicks rock. Click here to see them.

I love missions and activism and grass-roots campaigns. I love passionate people who band together to do something useful. Since I have zero faith in government at any level, I think real action in society comes from individuals, and groups, and churches who are looking at the needs of their neighborhood, community, and world, and are dreaming some big dreams about how things could be different. It could be biker chicks or a group of high school students or a Sunday School class. A cause moves their heart and they move with it. These little movements and groups and initiatives are the stuff of world transformation.

Likewise, Mexican poet Javier Sicilia led a march against violence and is currently on a cross-country crusade protesting the violence that killed his son. Last weekend people marched from Mexico to Tucson for the annual Migrant Trail Walk to demonstrate support and solidarity to the thousands of migrants who dangerously make this trip. People are moving. They can no longer live in the world of their own families and affairs. They can no longer be silent and wait to see what the government will do. These tensions give birth to movements. And then, by God’s grace, change starts to happen.

I hear that Las Guerreras are looking to increase their numbers. Contact me to make a donation to “Jacki’s Pink Harley Fund.”

Potty-Mouth.

Sometimes I will use this space for foiling. Which is to say, I will highlight one thing to show how much I disdain something else. But look, not everything can be delightful. That’s life.

I am going to tread lightly here because I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea. Though now I’m not really sure what the right idea would be in this case. But I am what you would call a swearer. A potty mouth. A sailor. That is how I grew up, okay. My father was a construction worker and I have four sisters so you do the math. We never took the Lord’s name in vain and I don’t now. I don’t refer to body parts with words beginning with the letter ‘C.’ And I try not to direct my expletives at people. ‘B*@ch’ for example, is a verb not a noun. Swear words are like guns. Very fine to have and use, but don’t point them at people.

But I am a lover of the English language and let’s just say that love covers a pretty generous swath. I like colorful, and there are few words I actually hate. There is, however, a word, that if I could strike from the English language so that I never have to hear it cross my ears again, it is this barf euphemism often used in place of a far better, more creative, and stronger word. The offender: Frickin’.

This is the linguistical equivalent of a fence-rider. Not enough moxie for the full F, not enough wit to think of something smarter. I am not opposed to euphemisms carte blanche. I like child-friendly, Grandma-style euphemisms because they are completely ironic and hilarious. Examples include hoohoo, chacha, poochatch, tatas, and beebleberries, three of which sound like something off a menu at a Mexican restaurant. I also like fiddlesticks, shucks, fudge, sugar, and son-of-a-biscuit.

Effing, A-hole, douchebag, jackass, and putz, are milder expletives, but welcomed. But for F#*@’s sake, I would rather you take a full flying jump off the cliff and just drop that F-bomb and deal with the consequences, than to stick your toe out and tumble clumsily down the side of the mountain like a buffoon with that lame, white-trash “frickin’.”  Gaaaah.

Swear words have always held tenuous sway in our household. For a while, ‘shut up’ could get you a nasty parental glare, but then the older constituent grew up and brought their lingo with them and suddenly ‘shut up’ was the least of our parents’ worries as they tried to shield the innocence of the youngers. But there was a fly in the Vaseline, noticed, of course, by my keenly observant sister L, who probably could have made it big as a logician if she’d cared to, such are her skills for detecting the breakdown of an argument. Seems that as my stepfather was out on the ‘shut-up’ witch hunt, he was concurrently peppering his own parlance with the occasional ‘ass.’ When confronted about it (by her) he blew it off, saying it wasn’t a swear word. They used it on TV. Mistake.

Naturally she took it and ran with it. Like fast. Welcome any sort of expression that might necessitate a swear word, now completed with this (evidently) non-swear word. “What the ass were you thinking?” “Ass-you.” “Ass-off” and of course, “Shut the ass up.” There was no recourse.

So am I delighted by profanity? Well, when it is creatively used and well-timed (like not in front of Granny), I would say, yes. Do I feel guilty about that? Umm, well, no. But do I feel guilty about not feeling guilty about it? Absolutely.

Hotel.

I haven’t done any formal studies on this, but I think I’m in the minority when I say that I really love living in hotels. Notice I say living, not staying. I’m territorial with a vengeance, so short of marking my own territory in the traditional canine sense, let’s just say I really know how to make myself at home.

My general philosophy is “home is where I’ve unpacked my suitcase.” Even though every girl fell in love with the book Eloise, I find that most people are always talking about how excited they are to get home. Why? So I can go back to opening my mail, doing laundry, and cleaning my own bathroom? No thanks. I remember being in Israel last year and people were drooling on about how much they missed the United States, and macaroni and cheese. Sacrilege. You had to crowbar me out of the Promised Land.

I’m not big into luxury hotels—that’s not necessary, but there are a few elements that make a hotel a delightful home.

-Wifi. A necessity. Charging for it is so ten years ago, Motel 6.

-Mini-fridge not stocked with overpriced rubbish I don’t want (also very 90’s). I just want the space.

-Microwave.

-A French press and coffee grinder (I’ve yet to find this)

-Cupboards (I have to hand it to the Hampton Inn in Lawrenceville GA—other than having a really piss-poor breakfast bar, they really knew how to set you up. Practically a kitchen in each room. I’d live there. And then make some unsolicited suggestions to the kitchen staff.)

-A good breakfast spread with plain Greek yogurt, fresh berries, hardboiled eggs (peeled!) and a DIY espresso bar. Props Grace Hotel NYC, I’ll make myself at home with you later this summer.

-Massive bathroom counter space.

-Large desk with comfortable chair (score again Hampton Inn). It’s not home if I can’t work there. And it doesn’t matter what the purpose of my trip. Could be my honeymoon—I want a desk, chair, and Wifi.

-Brand-name bathroom products. Holiday Inn Express in South Bend, Indiana had Bath & Body Works products. Brilliant. I mean, who knows what’s in those blue shampoos, and soap that turns your hands to sandpaper? C’mon.

-Windows that open. That shouldn’t be as hard to come by as it is.

July 10, 2005 (Blog Hop!)

Today we’re blog-hopping courtesy of It’s My Baby blog and the topic is favorite summertime memories—click on the link below to read some others and if you have a blog, post your own!

If you’ve ever seen the movie When Harry Met Sally, you know there’s this big thing about the airport pickups and drop offs.

Harry Burns: You take someone to the airport, its clearly the beginning of the relationship. That’s why I have never taken anyone to the airport at the beginning of a relationship.

Sally Albright: Why?

Harry Burns: Because eventually things move on and you don’t take someone to the airport and I never wanted anyone to say to me, How come you never take me to the airport anymore?

Sally Albright: Its amazing. You look like a normal person but actually you are the angel of death.

What does it mean if they offer? Should one ever ask to be picked up? Do you kiss, do you not? Come to the gate, meet you at baggage, park, or pull up to the curb?

When I was coming back from five weeks in Mexico, there was no one I wanted to see more than (I’ll just give him a symbol: ¥). He was the love of my life, the stars in my universe, the breath in my lungs and I had spent the lion’s share of my 5 weeks of missions work, in my obsessive young love phase, trying like the dickens to just not lose him. Absence can make the heart grow fonder, but it can also make it wayward.

I was leaving in just a few days. He hadn’t brought up the subject of the airport pickup.

My director, knowing I was just inside out over this man asked me if he was coming for me. No, I said. Do you think I should ask him? She advised against it. Let him offer, she said. Finally there was an offer. Not ¥. From my dad (there’s the man that never lets you down). Not wanting to find myself at the airport with no ride at all, I took Dad up on the offer.

The day came. It was time to go home. I don’t remember a thing about the first part of the day. Everything is a blur up until about 4:00pm. That’s when I touched down in the Dallas Airport to switch planes. The picture comes into view. I’m wearing a crisp white button-down shirt and silver jewelry. I am on a monorail, shuttling to another terminal. I am dialing voicemail, there is a message, I am hearing the voice, I cannot breathe, I am now sweating.

He knows I am coming in.

And would it be all right.

If he would come.

To pick me up at the airport?

I hang up the phone and spend several moments regulating my breath and heart rate to keep my voice from quivering. (I had cause to practice this a lot and never really got good at it). I called, confirmed, and at that moment I transitioned from a girl whose parents come to get her at the airport, to a woman who has a man awaiting her.

I cancelled my parental chauffeur and recalculated the rest of this day. The flight from Dallas to Minneapolis was about 7 years long of course. Stepping off the plane I had to keep practicing with my breathing exercises as I walked towards baggage claim. Breath. Relax. Stop melting. Hold it together.Breath. Breath. I called. I was in. He was on his way.

No. This wasn’t happening, He wasn’t going to be there. I was going to be sitting at baggage claim alone all evening. I never should have cancelled Dad.

Then his car came around the bend. I didn’t know what to look for because it was new. He found me. He got out. We embraced. We smiled. He said, I am glad you are back.

We got in the car and sped off down 494 towards the Galleria (always my first stop post-flight). We went to Starbucks. He ate a sandwich on a pretzel roll, I drank green Zen tea. It was magical.

The relationship (and I) crumbled soon after, but I allow that day and that memory to stand alone—independent of anything that came later—in it’s own special place where every once in a while I take it out and have a look, just for old time’s sake.


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Home Movies.

The birth of my twenty-one year old sister lined up perfectly with the purchase of our family camcorder. Because she’s the undisputed star of this production, the video was dubbed “The L____ Movie” and our family referred to it as such when speaking of those reels and reels of her doing anything from gumming a teething biscuit to sitting in the bathtub to emptying rolls of toilet paper while my stepdad stood idly by with the video recorder. I think these must have been the days when my mother was away at work. Looking back it’s almost as if she took off and stepfather whipped out the camera for the next episode of the play-by-play walk through her babyhood, catching her in the act of anything from sitting on a bed to listening to Raffi to messing her pants. While other kids her age wanted to veg out in front of Barney, her favorite children’s production was her very own. The rest of us have the occasional bit parts for flavor and variety.

Now we’ve converted the beloved VHS to DVD, which I learn is a relatively easy process at Costco. I received it the other day in a care package (I am just tearing up the Postal System these days) and finally I had a chance to watch it. I anticipated I would feel the waves of nostalgia, and surely I did, even as I looked at images of my former self with my scabbed legs and tween awkwardness. I knew I’d laugh and certainly I did. I mean, nothing says hilarious like buck teeth and baby fat and that sweet period of time before kids realize that they need to be careful about letting all their personality hang out. But there was sadness too. I looked at the people in the videos and I thought about how twenty years changes people. We aren’t the same people we were then—we’ve grown up, we’ve grown apart, we’ve grown fatter and thinner, some have become addicts, some have found recovery, a grandma and a grandpa have died, relationships aren’t what they once were—some better, some worse, there’s innocence lost, maybe some wisdom gained.

As I sat there alone in semi-darkness watching the movie, I was reminded of the music video of Phil Collin’s Against All Odds where he’s sitting in the dark, smoking a cigarette, watching old movies on a projector. I think he is crying. That image always seared me because it made me think of my divorced parents and the empty spaces and my own father sitting in the dark watching home movies, smoking and crying. We watch these old movies because we want to go back so badly and a video is the closest thing we have to recreating a former world. It’s sad to see the happy times that will never return, the dreams that have died, the relationships that have crumbled and the life that seems easier than the one we live today.

But I don’t think we should say that the old days were better than these. Even if it feels like it. I’ll watch the DVD again and again because it’s precious to me and I don’t avoid sad things. I like sad things sometimes. I like to weep and remember that I have a beating heart that isn’t afraid to feel. I relish the things that make me long for another time and place…and help me remember that one day I am going there.