bigger pond

Archive for August, 2008

Project Elissa

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

I am the Bravo reality tv lineup in real life.

On Project Runway Elissa, I sewed a dress to wear to Paige and Trent’s rehearsal dinner. It took a lot longer than one day to do so. Sorry, Nina.

On Shear Genius Nerd, I cut Noel’s hair. He hadn’t been shorn since Josh and Corinne’s wedding at the beginning of June, so there was a lot of curl to tame. Good thing there was a lot of Olympics to watch.

On Top Only Chef, I baked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for a church fellowship. Unfortunately, we did not have time to let the dough rest for 36 hours, but the cookies that chilled for 18 hours were, according to Noel, superior to the cookies that chilled for only 6. Not much of a Quickfire Challenge.

Lost in the ‘Burbs

Monday, August 25th, 2008

A week and a half ago I was in Houston, helping with preparations for the imminent Weichbrodt-Hudson nuptials. Every time I am in Houston I am filled with renewed trepidation over the in-laws neighborhood. It’s lovely, of course, but it’s also a Houston suburbs’ subdivision. Despite having visited numerous times over the course of the past three and a half years, I am remarkably unable to maintain any sense of cardinal directions or relative location once we enter the sprawling land of pale-red-and-cream houses in well-manicured cul-de-sacs with nice names. It’s all:

And I’m all:

And yet, on this particular morning, I decided to go running. By myself.

I conscientiously charted a route on mapmyrun.com, left a note announcing my early morning departure, and brought along my cell phone. I was certain that this was being overly cautious and that surely, sixty minutes later, I would be back home and eating breakfast with the fam.

This did not happen.

Things progressed smoothly for the first forty minutes. Other than the intermittent disappearance of sidewalks (Digression: Why, in the name of urban planning, did subdivision gods deem it wise to randomly dispense of sidewalks along routes that, at their onset, seemed so very promising and cheerful-neighborhood-like?), my planned loop appeared to be, well, looping. And then, with very little warning, the sidewalk and most other signs of established housing vanished, leaving me running on damp grass next to a rather busy road flanked by expanses of pine trees. Hopeful, I pressed onward, waiting to see those rows of pale-red-and-cream homes re-emerge. Instead, I arrived at a strange T-intersection where street signs declared a state-of-being not revealed on my map and the litter-filled shoulder fell short of happy suburb land.

Unsure of which way to proceed, I called Noel, keeper of the iPhone, who was still back in St. Louis. I described the situation. I gave my cross streets. He Google Mapped. He told me the name of another intersection. I insisted that those were not my cross streets. He told me my cross streets did not, in the world of Google Maps, actually cross. He switched to satellite view and, low and behold, the trusty pictures from orbit showed my current location under construction. Directions were still a bit tentative after that but, half an hour later, I did manage to find the correct pale-red-and-cream house in the correct coyly named cul-de-sac and, most importantly, eat breakfast.

And this what the world is coming to. The suburbs are growing too fast for even Google to keep up. How are runners to remain safe?

Up Next: Aliens.

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, Noel and I received these slips in our fortune cookies:

The software developer, of course, was affirmed with the declaration that his financial future was secure. Me? Facing a new semester with a new batch of freshmen and the always combustible departmental politics, I am told: “An alien of some sort will be appearing to you shortly!” Cool.

I’m Here, Feeling Awkward

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

As April and Bets have already chronicled, we indeed all got our new piercings. Because I’m a nerd and a weanie, I just got another hole in my ear…

…and consequently my tale of The Moment of Piercing itself is rather unremarkable. What no one else has commented on, however, is the general atmosphere of the piercing-and-tattooing establishment we patronized. We went to Iron Age on the Loop, which came highly recommended. We also went on a Monday afternoon. And…the place was packed. On a Monday afternoon.

I arrived first. A man with a frizzy beard divided into two ponytails and assorted metal accessories protruding from his face was ushering a client into the back, curtained-off chairs. The woman at the counter — dressed in skinny black with various facial piercings and a purple bow in her ponytail — was surrounded by several concentric rings of clients. Because it was so busy, I quietly took a seat in the waiting area, decided that trying to read “Skater Times” wasn’t going to help anyone and pulled out a journal article instead. Nothing like reading a little Asian American visual culture theory in a tattoo parlor. April called shortly and I announced, “I’m here. Feeling awkward.”

Given the state of anxiety I’ve just described, you may be wondering: “Well, what did the clientele look like, Elissa?”

And I would tell you — and you may be disbelieving — that they were largely middle aged women.

Bubbly and Lovely

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

We were walking hand in hand through our neighborhood tonight.

The man in the white t-shirt and jeans stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, twiddling his cigarette between his fingers and eying us intently.

“You’re bubbly.”

He said, pointing to Noel.

“You’re lovely.”

He said, pointing to me.

And then, with the man clearly pleased with this couplet, we parted.

Symbolism for the Body

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

It’s been a long time coming, but this month Noel and I have finally been offered wine for communion at our own church. It is amazing — even unsettling — how quickly our bodies and minds rewire expectations. After two years of tipping back little cups of Welch’s finest every Sunday, I had grown to associate the solemn words, “Christ’s blood, for you,” with an easy shot of sugary, watery juice-from-concentrate.

When I took wine, I shivered a little. Rather than being a sweet, comforting splash, the wine stung. The initial sharpness and developing complexity jolted me. I can forget the grape juice almost immediately after I drink it. I cannot do that with the wine. The wine lingers. It traces a line of acid down my throat; its tannins linger in the back of my mouth. My body cannot forget it quickly, and so my mind and my spirit are prompted to consider longer and more carefully the gravity of what I have just done.

Isn’t this what Christ sacrifice is? Mingling a sting with layered richness, the wine speaks to the bitterness and the glory, the already and the not yet, that I claim when I take this sacrament.

When we begin to separate the physical reprecussions of the symbol from its spiritual meaning, we begin to veer towards an unhelpful — an incorrect — dualism of spirit and fbody. But God became flesh to save us. He gives us sacraments to call to our flesh, to offer us truth incarnate in touchable, tastable, visible forms. When I take the wine, I relish the symbolism that serves my soul through my body.