Saturday, December 28, 2013

14 for 2014

2014 is right around the bend. I'm starting my 2014 goals today, because as Jon Acuff would say "January 1st is for suckers."

To Do in 2014:
1) Ask for help and stop believing I am an inconvenience.
2) Eat more vegetables.
3) Be more outgoing and less afraid.
4) Pray more.
5) Go to the gym for at least 5 hours a week.
6) Delegate more tasks.
7) Rest more often.
8) Listen to God better.
9) Get to work by 8:00am.
10) Read fewer Buzzfeed articles.
11) Write everyday, even if it's just 100 words.
12) Convince a man to fall in love with me (it's okay for you to chuckle at that one).
13) Journal at least twice a week.
14) Write a letter to my great-grandpa at least once a month.

 Remember, some beats none.
Action always beats intention.

What are your goals for 2014?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Shutting yourself in during Christmas Break

You guys. Christmas break has been full of so much lazy. I am catching up on all my sleep from the past three months. After four days, I finally took a shower today. While washing my hair, I was thinking Is this what it feels like for contestants on Survivor once they leave the show? Because you wouldn't think scented shampoo could feel so nice.

I was going to go to work for a little bit today and then go to the gym after, but I was working on painting the ceramic nativity set I still haven't finished from 2012, and then time sort of got away from me. Once it became dark outside (at 4:30) I said, "Nope, not going!" My reasoning is that I am really saving gas, because for the past two days I have gone no where. I stepped out of my house once for like twenty seconds to take out the garbage.

Also, I finally discovered where I can watch the third season of Downton Abbey on-line for free, so I've been doing that. And I've also been doing things like organizing my living room and sticking my nose in my Christmas tree for a few minutes every evening just so I can feel the full nostalgia and magic of the season.

What have you been up to?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holidays are hard when you are single

The holidays are hard when you're single. You've been stuck at the kids table for 12 years too long. You're left dangling on the roof as you attempt to hang your own Christmas lights.You're mailing people Christmas cards of you and your rabbit wearing matching Santa hats.

This is how I cope:

1) Make up stories about your future boyfriend. You might say to yourself "I've been waiting a good long time, when is he gonna show up?" Your negative attitude immediately thinks your future  love is out spending cozy Christmas time with some other chick--that he's having a great time without you hauling another girl's Christmas tree to her house while you struggle to shove that five foot shrub in the back of your Toyota Corolla.

Change that story. He's not kissing some other girl under the mistletoe. He's working extra hours to save up for your dream house. Because when you come along, he wants to give you the best. He's wishing every girl were you, but they're not. He's spending Christmas with his parents and younger cousins. He's running a toy drive gathering Legos and stuffed animals for little kids in need. He's writing a Christmas card to his older brother serving in Afghanistan.

2) Don't watch any ABC Family Christmas movies, unless it's Holidays in Handcuffs. What you see on TV is fiction. People don't fall in love two days before Christmas. Nobody falls down at an ice-skating rink and gets helped up by a hunky stranger in a cable-knit sweater. A soldier is not going to follow the trails of your hand-crafted Christmas card, wander into your home town, and offer to help at your father's saw mill. 
This movie is a load of croc. Release by Hallmark, though, not ABC.

Haven't seen this one, but I can tell from the title it is full of lies.
3) Know that you are needed. This isn't even pretend. Someone else needs you this holiday season. We don't always get to choose who needs us. I mean, I wouldn't mind a six-foot-three, brown eyed, dimple faced man who NEEDED help wrapping presents for 150 underprivileged children at his non-profit, but sometimes we are most needed by the people we overlook. So go out and help somebody. It will make your heart happy.

4) Become the life of the party. Learn a few magic tricks. Dress up as an elf. Tell a good story. Don't let couples (or babies) run the show. I've been rehearsing an entire routine for this Christmas Eve at my aunt's house. I'm starting out with a few card tricks, will move into fire juggling, tell a made-up story of how I served on jury duty and had to decide the verdict for a drug cartel leader, and then I will probably end with a short dance number from the Nutcracker.

5) Drink a lot of wine or peppermint schnapps, unless you are a recovering alcoholic. I support sobriety. But if you want to drink a second/third glass, wear a fur hat, and try to get your ex-boyfriend's cousin to dance with you at a Christmas party, I won't stop you. Sometimes the sheer hilarity of our situations help us get through.

6) Give unsolicited advice to the people of Craigslist. Create an email account (something like Dr J or Ann Flanders) and then message away! Encourage those posting in "missed connections" to man up and talk to the Albany Taco Bell cashier, or to ask the girl with the heart tattoo on her ring finger if you can take her to lunch. Or visit the personal ads and offer spelling and grammatical corrections. Just find something to take your mind off not having anyone to cuddle up and watch Christmas movies with. Because, I mean, I have a rabbit, so I'm fine.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


He was a piece of fiction. Stories and ideas that never came true.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sending Hope in a GiveBackPack

I had an awesome opportunity to combine teaching and love letter writing last week. One unique organization, The World Needs More Love Letters, founded by my friend Hannah Brencher, partnered up with another organization, STATE bags for a mission to give U.S. kids living in impoverished communities some hope.
 I just so happened to be finishing up a unit on letter writing with my third, fourth, and fifth grade students. Then this perfect opportunity arose. I showed my students both the More Love Letters website and a video from the STATE bags website. After I told them that the letters they would be writing would end up in a GiveBackPack to be given to a kid having a rough time, they were all game.

The kids practiced their letter writing skills, and then I gave them some fun stationery to write their final copies on. One student--fittingly named Hope--turned out to be a natural. I almost teared up at all the encouraging words written by a nine year old. I told her she probably could have a career working with More Love Letters.

What I loved the most was that after all of our letters got put in their envelopes, we circled up as a class and prayed over the letters and the kids that would receive them. I would never get to do that part in public school. I was reminded how blessed I am to work in a Christian school where my faith does not have to fit within boundaries. What excited me more was the fact that ALL of the kids wanted to say a prayer. Not one, not two, but ALL.

It was really cool to see God evident in their lives and to see the kids doing something that mattered for God. I have no doubt that the children who receive the letters written by my students will be blessed and that God will answer the prayers that were said for them.

I think this project was one of the best things I've ever done as a teacher.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Parking Lot Workout

It’s 5:33pm on a Wednesday night and I’m sitting in my car typing this in the Kroc Center’s dark parking lot. I was feeling really good about myself, because I had actually gotten my butt to the gym and planned to attend not one, but TWO fitness classes. I know, I know, call me a Spartan.

After last week when I emerged from my room after a two hour nap, I said to my roommate, “I am a terrible person. I was going to just come home for 20 minutes and then go to the gym. I slept instead.” Justine then replied with the wisdom of Solomon. “Maybe you shouldn’t come home first. Just go straight to the gym.”

Well snap. I know that. I just don’t want to do it. I like being at my house. When I am a mere 7 minute drive from it, I want to come home for twenty minutes. But this week I heeded Justine’s advice. Even though I get done teaching at noon, I stayed at school doing other things until five o’clock. Then I changed and went to the gym, which is where I am right now. Well, I’m in the parking lot, anyway.

I arrived ten minutes early to get a spot in the weights class. But after scanning my membership card and filling up my water bottle, I discovered that the class was as packed as Walmart on Black Friday. Not a single open space.  For a quick second I contemplated doing my own weight training in the equipment area, but I did not bring my iPod and exercising without music is almost like death. Also, let’s be honest. The reason I go to group fitness classes is because I lack the personal willpower to train on my own.

I still want to attend the group Zumba class at 6:30, so that is why I am killing time writing this in my car. While getting my laptop out of the trunk, I noticed the kangaroo costume still piled in my trunk since Halloween.  I contemplated putting it on because it is 42 degrees outside, but instead I left the marsupial suit where it was and just blasted the heat in my car for a while to warm it up.  So most of me is warm, but I still have icicle fingers because I have like the skinniest fingers in North America and it’s hard for them to stay warm. In case you want to buy me a ring, my size is 3 and ¾. Seriously, there are eight year old girls with fingers bigger than mine.

This is my best friend wearing my kangaroo suit on a hot day.
Ugh. It’s only 5:54. We still have some time. Today I was in a concerned conversation whereupon someone said, “I think she may be living in her car. I saw a lot of clothes and things in there.” The second thing that popped into my mind was I wonder if people think that about me. Because I’ve got loads of stuff in my car. It’s like a portable office without wifi.

Let me tell you what I have with me, just right now:
Two jackets, a sweater, a package of plastic cups in a re-usable grocery bag, a tub of stuff for Bible Club (story book, pictures, attendance clipboard, etc. etc. etc.), garbage from last night’s dinner, three crusty oatmeal bowls and spoons, an apple, chalk, a notebook, a kangaroo suit, 10 wrapped shoebox presents to mail for Operation Christmas Child, a bin of work stuff for children’s ministries, a bag of 100 eraser toppers, a deflated basketball that somewhat reflects my hopes and dreams, a book bag, mail, a fan from my geisha/Mulan costume, and I don’t know what else because it’s really dark in here. Up until 3:30 today I also had a portable baby crib in my trunk, but I finally took that out and put it in the church nursery where it belongs.

I usually take very good care of my possessions, but the interior and exterior of my car is not something I really strive to keep in perfect condition. The main reason for this is so no one tries to rob me/steal my car. It’s got two missing hubcaps from some misadventures I’ve had in the past, and I’ve also got multiple scratches on the paint job because of the time I taught in the ‘hood and parked my car outside till 8pm at night while slaving away in the classroom. There’s also the chipping paint that pretty much takes over the entire front bumper. The paint isn’t wrecked because I got in an accident, but I figured I might as well not fix it, because now people take one look at me and stay the hell away since they think  I must drive like a maniac.

Okay, I’ve turned on the heat three times now. Just for like four minutes each time, but it doesn’t stay heated for very long because it’s so freaking cold outside. If I did live in my car, I would need a subzero sleeping bag and like, 20 pounds of Hotties to shake up and keep me warm throughout the night. I’m almost there, though.  Just ten more minutes of waiting.

Actually, I think I will just go home.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Men are dumb sometimes, and so am I

I was reclining on my couch, staring at the ceiling fan, contemplating my single life (as I often do) when a thought popped into my mind. I wonder if any guy out there sits at home and thinks about me so often it sometimes brings him to tears. Then my other self*, the one who is blunt and practical, thinks Well if there is, he is an idiot. Because obviously he should just tell me. 
I pretty much believe that if you like someone, you should just straight up tell them. No more of this pining for years crap. But I get it. People have a hard time being brave, and saying "Hey, I like you," makes you feel like you want to throw up. And rejection is pretty darn miserable too. I'm telling you though, if you are interested in someone, you should quit wasting time and suck up the guts to say so. I have witnessed so many relationships that took years to begin, when all along the two people liked each other but weren't brave enough to do anything about it.  Be brave.

*Sometimes I have multiple personalities. Also, I do not have health insurance. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Maid Service

You probably didn’t know this, but this past summer I was a part-time housemaid for Riverside Lodge. What is this lodge, you ask? It’s mostly my parents’ vacation home that I never get to vacation in, on account of how it is rented out to people all summer long. It is so booked up that my mother (head housemaid) had to enlist my help for cleaning, because there is not enough time for her to do all the scrubbing and washing and sanitizing in between people checking out and people checking in. My mom also hired my 14 year old cousin, Morgan, as a housemaid.

You know how people might come to your house for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and your mom has you clean every nook and cranny, and the whole process takes about two days, because you want your relatives to think you are a clean and organized person, when in reality you actually have an entire room devoted to junk and don’t vacuum that often? Cleaning Riverside Lodge is like that, times three.

We have to vacuum under all the beds (who does that every week?), change the sheets on six beds, clean three bathrooms, vacuum all the floors, mop, clean the windows, dust everywhere, re-fill everything, count the DVDs to make sure nobody stole any, and the list goes on. I won’t bore you with more of it.

Cleaning Riverside Lodge is a lot like cleaning my childhood home. This is because at least 40% of the items in the lodge used to be at my old house. My grandma’s clock. The picture my great-grandma painted. The woven coaster set from 1989. The dining room table I used to eat at every night. The decorative birdcage and knickknacks my mother used to keep in the living room. The kitchen is the only place that is foreign to me. It has all brand new utensils, appliances, and dishes, and most of them are either red or black. I grew up with macaroni cheese yellow linoleum floors and a bright blue counter top, so the red and black make me feel like I am in somebody else’s kitchen.

Cleaning up after complete strangers is quite interesting. As a detective, I like to imagine what kind of people stayed in the rooms. One time when I was making the bunk beds, I discovered boogers on the blanket.  Snot-nosed children, no doubt.  On one occasion, the guests left so much toothpaste in the sink, you’d think a dentist had held a teeth brushing instructional workshop in there. Another time, I discovered that the last occupants had the major munchies. On the blankets I found evidence of Life cereal and Dorito chips. The orange cheese stain on the quilt just about threw my mother over the edge.
“Tell me, DO YOU eat chips in bed when you are staying at a stranger’s house?” my mom asked.
“No,” I replied. “But I might if I was in a hotel. In fact, I am certain I have gotten a chocolate bar melted into my sheets before. But I would never do that at someone’s house.”  

An interesting experience was the time we cleaned up after a family of Chinese guests. The first thing I discovered was 14 empty shoe boxes sitting on the front porch.  There was also an empty cardboard case that had claimed to hold two bottles of expensive sounding champagne. I deduced that the family must have purchased many athletic shoes at the Nike and Adidas outlets because they had children who were training for Olympic gold, and then they decided to celebrate a successful shopping trip in America with a few bottles of the bubbly. Besides the shoe boxes, I found some packaging with Chinese characters on it. Morgan and I inspected it as though we could gain a cultural experience from reading the label of a foreign medicine bottle.

While cleaning the kitchen, I had the most horrifying experience. I opened the microwave to wipe it out and discovered a bowl of cold, pink, smelly fish sitting inside. I immediately slammed the door shut and screamed. It had to have been in there for at least two days. Morgan came to my rescue. She bravely opened the door and removed the bowl.  She inspected it as if trying to figure out what the sauce recipe was made of. “Don’t just stare at it!” I yelled. The smell was wafting. “Throw it away!” I held the trash can up to her and she emptied the bowl into it. While she set out to rinse the bowl and wash it, I sprayed the microwave with disinfectant and tried not to perish from the toxic odor that filled my nostrils. Our best guess is that someone had started to make a meal and just plain forgot about it. Unless it is some sort of Chinese insult, leaving dead fish in someone’s microwave for them to find days later.

While there is the occasional horrifying experience, there are some good things about cleaning up after perfect strangers. For example, I always check the freezer for treats after I’ve finished the job. Two out of three times, the guests leave ice cream in there. I consider it my tip. Another time, Morgan and I went grocery shopping in the pantry. The last guests had stayed for a week, and they left a lot of food behind since they were from Hawaii and couldn’t take it with them on the plane. I scored two boxes of cereal, a half-full box of Cheese Nips, those really delicious Mauna Loa chocolate macadamia treats that people bring you after visiting Hawaii, and a package of Oreo cookies. They also left soda and wine. I don’t drink soda so I didn’t take any, but my mother took the wine. You may think I’m taking my chances by consuming a half-full box of Cheese Nips that strangers left behind, but you need to know that during the summer I was only earning ¼  my usual income, due to my main job ending. I took anything that was free.

My mom, Morgan, and I have to get all the cleaning done by 3:45 since check in is at four, but Morgan and I have motivation to get done earlier so that we can go in the river. I have been washing windows or scrubbing the barbecue grill or sweeping the deck when I’ve seen kayakers and rafters go down the river, and it just about kills me.  One day in the beginning of August it was really hot outside and I was washing the windows. I wanted to just sneak down the hill away from my supervisor and throw myself into the river to cool off. But then one time Morgan and I enjoyed an exciting ten minute float down the river and later spent at least an hour fighting our way back up stream, cutting our feet on the rocks and wandering through the brush like we were on an episode of Survivor. That’s a whole other story in itself.  

Cleaning Riverside Lodge so thoroughly inspired me to go home and vacuum the cushions on my couch  and do extreme cleaning to the Nth degree, but of course by the time I got home I was always so wiped that all I did was lounge on my back patio and sip a cold glass of water. Maybe I’ll clean before Thanksgiving.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why aren't you wearing pants?

These are all true phone conversations I have had with my sister in the course of a Friday evening. 

Her: “Do you want to go to Winco with me?”
Me: “Uh, no.”

Her: “You know the crossdresser on the corner by McDonald’s?”
Me: “Yeah.”
Her: “He got a new dress. It has sequins and sparkles. And there’s a slit that comes up the side.”
Me: “Are you telling me this because you want a dress like it?”
Her: “No.”

Her: “I’m coming up the driveway and I hafta pee! Unlock the door!”
Me: “Hang on, I don’t have any pants on.”
Her: “Why aren’t you wearing pants?”
Me: “Because it was hot.”

Her: “Do you want to do something tomorrow?”
Me: “Like what?”
Her: “You could come to the dump with me.”

Saturday, August 24, 2013

10 Things I will miss about living alone

I've been living by myself since June, but I am getting some new roommates at the end of this month. This has caused me to contemplate life and make a list.

1) I will miss getting to walk around in my underwear. Lounging in my underwear. Cooking in my underwear. Cleaning in my underwear. Crafting in my underwear. But at least the weather is cooling down, so wearing pants isn't as terrible as it could be.

2) I will miss having an entire spare room dedicated to clothes. Have you ever wanted 15 feet of closet rod to hang your clothes from? I had that. But no more. One cannot live in luxury forever.

3) I will miss hogging all the kitchen space. It was really freeing to have an entire fridge to yourself, because I didn't have to cram everything onto one shelf. I didn't think I would enjoy so much fridge space (and cupboard shelf space), but now that I have to give it up I realize the joy it gave me.

4) Ditto the freezer space.

5) I will miss using the main bathroom. I hadn't used my house's main bathroom for over three years since that was my roommate's space, but this summer I had the chance to try it out. It felt so strange at first, but now I am used to it and fully enjoy using the tub to shave my legs.

6) I will miss listening to my music as loud as I want.

7) I will miss feeling oh so comfortable napping on my couch at any time of the day.

8) I will miss not feeling judged for watching dumb TV shows.

9) I will miss singing loudly and badly.

10)  I will miss not feeling guilty about leaving my clothes in the dryer for three days.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

ish to do

To Do This Week:

1) Go to the gym sometime to regain my muscles.
2) Apply for jobs since I am only 38% employed right now.
3) Borrow my sister's weed sprayer so that I can poison a select part of Mother Nature.
4) Vacuum.
5) Organize the disaster storage room at church where we have all of our children's ministries stuff.
6) Plan a luau so I can use the decorations that I have thus found in the children's ministries storage closet.
7) Buy groceries so I can stop eating stale bread and freezer burned vegetables.
8) Get some stuff rolling for summer Bible Club.
9) Take some kiddos on an adventure to Enchanted Forest.
10) Prepare for camp next week.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Lazy Vegetarian

Here is a really simple dinner meal for when all you ate for lunch was Tillamook Mudslide Ice Cream with hot fudge and whipped cream and you're feeling like you need to redeem yourself.

1) Open bag of frozen mixed vegetables and pour 2 cups of it into a bowl.
2) Microwave on high for two minutes. Stir.
3) Eat.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Things Youth Say

I spend a lot of time around many different youth of all ages. We have interesting conversations. 

Me: Are you going to college when you're older?
2nd grader: Probably not, because it's expensive. Instead I am going to own a shop and sell Sponge Bob things.
Seems like legit plans for a 7 year old.

Teen: Do you want to see my ex-boyfriend's mug shot?
Me: Okay.

Annabelle: I wonder how old you have to be to have kids?
(she's 5)

Me (referring to cartoon): Do you even know who Doug is?
Teen: Yeah, come on, we're not that young!

Kindergartner: I think Jesus is the only washcloth that can clean the inside and make you white as snow.

         One morning, while we were coloring pictures of Jesus and his friends, a 4th grader says "Hey, want to hear the grossest thing ever?"
          I had my reservations, but a 2nd grade little girl says "Okay, I'll listen." We then hear the grossest story ever. I won't share it with you.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Investigative Dating

            I was in my office organizing files when my assistant, Ginger, came rushing in late.
"Ginger, you are half an hour tardy."
"I know. I apologize. I had a 27 page paper due in my criminology class, and I had to turn it in before 10am."
Ginger is a junior at the local university, and to be flexible for her this term, we don't usually start work till 11 in the morning. This gives Ginger the ability to go to her morning class, and it gives me a few hours to do my exercise routine (just 18 laps in the pool, some kick boxing, and then benching 250 to stay toned).
Ginger has been working for me for about year. She comes to the office (which is conveniently located in the spare bedroom of my house) three times a week to help me with cases. She's very competent.
When the detective agency is slow, Ginger helps me with my work with children, cutting out lamb shapes from construction paper and buying Goldfish crackers in bulk at Costco. See, I am a part-time detective but I also teach children about Jesus four days a week. Once I walked in to teach 8am Bible Club while I was still wearing my fake mustache from an early morning surveillance route. The kids laughed and thought I wore it to be silly. But really I wore it because I didn't want Mr. Delvino to recognize me while I followed him to Wal-Mart.
"Ginger, today I have some lions for you to cut out for the Bible Club craft, I need you to put together an Elijah costume for Sunday School, and then I need you to see what new leads you can pull up for the Teverson case.”
“Okay, no problem. Do you want me to find a beard for the Elijah costume?”
“That would be great. There should be one in the disguise closet.” That’s the great thing about working with children and being a detective. My disguises pull double duty. It’s what I call a good investment.
At one o’clock we took a lunch break, and I decided to ask Ginger about what had been on my mind.
“Ginger, what do you think about on-line dating?”
“Oh, I’m not sure. One time I tried it, but the only men who contacted me were 30 years old and lived in Fiji. Thankfully soon after that I met Brian in the student union.”
I contemplated this, then took a moment to look up information about Fiji. It could be a nice place to visit. The reason I had been thinking about it was because last week my best friend suggested I try on-line dating. The reason this would never work out is because potential love interests would be all “what do you do for a living?” and I would say I’m a detective. Then they would get freaked out and think I’m an obsessive person who is going to start following them secretly, which would lead to them not replying to any of my messages and we would never even go on a single date.
Truth be told, I was asked out on a date two weeks ago while doing some investigative work. I had to turn the guy down because at the time he knew me as Darla, a blond flight stewardess from Texas. I couldn’t just meet him for dinner that weekend without the southern twang and golden locks. He would have thought I had schizophrenia.
“I don’t know, Detective Rossen. Maybe you should try it. I mean, what’s it hurt to at least take a look?”
“Ginger, how many times do I have to remind you? You can call me Joelle. And I guess maybe you’re right. Messaging unknown, attractive men found on internet websites never got anyone kidnapped for human trafficking or anything.”
So that evening I spent three hours looking at profiles of men who fit my search criteria. I did this instead of spending time prepping my Bible Club lesson, and I went to bed without showering because it was so late. That just goes to show that on-line dating sites suck up all your productivity and personal hygiene habits. I was pretty sure the Lord was not pleased with my decision to put profile trolling before my responsibility of preparing an engaging, well-planned, age appropriate, spiritual growth-based lesson for the children who live in a neighborhood where 75% of all the city’s drug houses are located within two blocks of the school.
The next day I put aside all thoughts of singleness and becoming a 40 year old cat lady who wears blue velour stretch pants and focused on the job that Jack Teverson hired me to do: spy on his employee candidates.
Jack is president of a company called Biomed International and he is looking to hire a few new employees. Mr. Teverson is very picky about the people he hires, especially after his 2006 incident with a Japanese finance manager who caused the company to lose two million dollars.
Right now I am investigating Jack’s top three candidates. I do things like rifle through their trash (because a person’s garbage can tell you a lot about them), follow them to work, interact with them while in disguise, call them pretending to be a computer technician in India, and interview their dry-cleaner. I’ve been compiling a file of their full profile for the past three weeks. After a lot of observation, I told Jack Teverson not to hire Kareem Larson because he frequently refers to himself in the third person, which is sign of douchebaggery. And nobody wants to hire a jerk.
So now I’m focusing my attention on Colby Delvino and Kirk Patrick. You might say to yourself  “why doesn’t Mr. Teverson have any women on his top candidate list? Is he chauvinistic and sexist and oppressive?”  Jack did have several women on his list. I just eliminated them. I’d tell you why, but that’s confidential. Trust me though, it was a good decision.
What was on my list for today was to attend Kirk Patrick’s hair cutting appointment. I was hoping to gain a lot of useful information from this short event. First of all, the type of place a person gets their hair cut can tell you a lot about them. For example, do they go to Supercuts or a fancy salon down town? Do they go to a traditional barber shop with the white and blue spinning thing and a quartet, or do they have their mom/wife/girlfriend give them a haircut?
It’s also known that people are gossips in a salon. Either the hairdresser tells you everything she knows about everybody in town, or you spill all your business and complain about the people you know. When I go to get a haircut, I’m a listener. Or I’m content just to sit there in silence. One time I had a stylist who told me all the intimate details of her personal life and the break up with her boyfriend. I didn’t even know her. Another time, I went to a salon in my hometown and heard all the mom-age gossip from the other ladies in there getting highlights and perms. I never went back, but that was mostly because the hairdresser didn’t even blow dry my sopping wet hair. Just cut it and said I was done. I had to go to a meeting looking like a drowned rat.
My point is, this was going to be a very telling moment for Kirk. Either he was going to complain and gossip, or he wasn’t. He was going to get his gray covered or he wasn’t. Through my technological abilities, I was able to access Kirk’s on-line calendar and discovered that the appointment was for two o’clock at The Wild Hare. I conveniently made an appointment for myself at the same time to get a Keratin deep conditioning treatment. At first I dropped my jaw when the receptionist told me it was going to be $80, but then I remembered that technically this appointment was work related, so I could write it off on my taxes as a business expense.
While I was eating a vegetarian, protein-rich lunch, I decided to visit again and look a little bit more to see if the love of my life might be a 35 year old man in Fiji. I really wasn’t having any luck. All the guys had scruffy, unkempt beards, or they were balding, or they were missing teeth. “Ginger, is there a way to filter this site so that people who horrify me don’t keep showing up?”
Ginger stopped eating her noodles and came over to take a look. “Joelle, you’re looking at the Marion County Inmate roster. Those are their mug shots. All of those men are criminals.”
“Whoops.” Turned out I had like five open tabs and got my work research mixed up with my love life. I decided to get off-line and review the files I had for the Teverson case.
I left for the salon at 1:15 and arrived at The Wild Hare a bit early, so that I could observe Mr. Patrick’s behavior when he first arrived. While reading a copy of Vogue, I peeked out to the side and saw him check in with the receptionist. Then he sat two seats over from me. I made a mental note of his politeness and friendliness towards the receptionist. Just as I was reading an article about Jennifer Lawrence, Mr. Patrick’s phone rang.
“Hey….yes…I told you that deal needs to go through today.”
I perked my ears.
“Have Cindy call Marco… Just make sure it happens…We can recoup the costs later…Okay. Ten a.m. Thursday. Bye.”
“Alyssa?” A hair stylist appeared.
I popped out of my chair. Alyssa was my alias for today. I smiled and walked forward. After getting a cape draped over me, I was led to the sink for a shampoo. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Kirk Patrick shake his stylist’s hand.
Once my hair got rinsed, I got to sit back down in my swivel chair. Luckily, Kirk was in the seat next to me, so I had the perfect location for listening in and observing.
“You sure have a lot of hair,” my stylist, Shelby, said as she clipped my locks up to get to the bottom layers.
“Yeah, I know,” I said. “My lion mane makes extra work for everybody.” Shelby started to apply some goop to my hair. Then she turned me in my swivel chair to the right and my jaw just about fell off.
It was him. A greek god from Mount Olympus come to earth to mingle with the mortals. I saw the profile of his perfect nose and his strong jaw. I knew I had seen this face before. It was one of the guys I had viewed during my three hours of time spent on searching for a lover (not a criminal). And here he was, getting his locks buzzed off like he was about to join the army.
Noooo, I wanted to scream. What will my fingers have to run through now? But then I collected myself and remembered that this guy hadn’t even asked me out to coffee yet. In fact, he hadn’t even seen me, as far as I knew, because he was looking forward into the mirror and engaged in a conversation with his hairdresser.
Shelby applied another pile of goop to my hair. And that’s when it happened. I looked into the man’s mirror and locked eyes with him. It was a second of breathlessness, and then he grinned. He let those sparkling white teeth shimmer at me. If you are familiar with Song of Solomon, you might say his teeth were like a flock of goats. If you are familiar with modern dentistry, you might say his teeth looked like four years of expensive orthodontic work, Crest toothpaste, and diligent flossing. I bet he never had a cavity in his life. We were soul mates. Or could be.
I thought about giving a seductive look, but then thought better of it. I remembered a story my friend Leslie told me about how she tried to give guys in college seductive looks. But they would just look at her terrified and turn away. She tested her sultry look in front of a friend and discovered that the look she thought said “come hither” actually conveyed “I am about to murder you.” I didn’t want to scare off my subject, so I gave a small smile instead.
Then I remembered that I was there to spy on Kirk Patrick and not to make passes at perfect strangers. So I turned my attention to the grey haired executive getting the back of his neck shaved. I perked my ears and listened to what he was taking about: his newborn grand-daughter. I took this as a positive sign of his character.
After my deep conditioning Keratin treatment was finished and I had learned ample details about baby Olivia Patrick, I went to the front desk to run my card.
I signed my name on the receipt and turned to leave when the receptionist said, “Oh yeah, this is for you.” She handed me a folded piece of paper.
I opened it up and read:
Have time for a cup of coffee? I’m around the corner at St. Arbucks waiting for you.
“The guy who was just in here left it for you.”
I was hoping she was referring to Mr. Greek God and not 50 year old Kirk Patrick. Cautiously, I walked to the corner edge of the block. When meeting strangers, it’s important to take safety precautions, even if you meet in public. I was wearing my grey lace up boots—the ones with the side zipper, and I checked to make sure my hidden knife was still there. I paused on the sidewalk and applied some lip gloss as well. I stealthily peeked around the corner and into the window to see if I could spot Mr. Patrick. Thankfully, he wasn’t there. Instead I spied the closely shorn head of the physically fit mystery man who was waiting for me. I took a deep breath and walked in.
It’s common knowledge that I am incredibly awkward around attractive men (probably the result of being home schooled or growing up without any brothers), and every once in a while I decide to be brazenly awkward. For example, once I was on a ferry boat traversing the waters from Washington to Canada, and sitting across from me was an Orlando Bloom look-alike. I decided to stare at him a good long while, and when he looked up at me I didn’t look away. My efforts resulted in dinner for one.
I pushed open the door of St. Arbucks and went straight to the counter, not even bothering to look towards the guy. “Can I get a chai latte, please?” I don’t drink coffee. Ever. Mostly it’s because during my time in Colombia I was held hostage on a coffee bean plantation while trying to expose some drug smugglers.
After getting my drink, I went to an empty table that was rather near Mystery Man’s. I sat down. He looked up. I stared into his eyes, which were the color of the sea after a storm, just like Wesley’s from The Princess Bride. He tilted his head to the side and gave a half smile, like he was trying to figure me out. Then he stood up, walked nine steps forward, and sat down right across from me.
“Hey,” he said. “I like your hair.”
Words jumped out of my mouth before I could stop them. “Do you know that every time Brad Pitt gets a haircut, he asks for his hair to be swept up, put in a bag, and given to him so that people don’t try to sell it on eBay?”
He laughed. But it was that awkward little laugh, the kind you do when someone tells you their dog died but it’s okay because he chewed on the furniture anyway.
“What’s your name?” I said.
“What’s your last name? I need to know in case you try to kidnap me later.”
“Are you related to Scarlett?”
“Well, Peter Johansson, I’m Joelle.”
“Joelle, I promise not to kidnap you later.” He chuckled. “Have you been kidnapped before?”
He was probably joking about the last part, so I decided not to tell him about my time in Colombia. Besides, you can’t just go around blabbing to everyone that you are a private detective. Not only does it blow your cover, but it makes them jumpy.
“So Peter, what’s your story?”
“You don’t remember me, do you?”
“Well, I saw you in the salon like thirty minutes ago…”
“No. Not from the salon. From Albuquerque. We flew from Albuquerque to Portland on Southwest Airlines and you couldn’t put your carry-on in the overhead bin because you were too short and I offered to help you. But you said no, that you could do it. Then your suitcase came tumbling down, spilled open, and some wigs fell out. And you shoved them back inside quickly and told me—”
“—that I’m not a stripper. Yes, I remember. That was you?”
“Yes. I sat in the seat behind you and the whole way I listened to you tell stories to the person sitting next to you, because you were so funny. I wanted to say something to you when we got to Portland, but I lost my courage.”
“You should have posted a Missing Connections ad on Craigslist.” I check the Missed Connections at least once a month, mostly for entertainment value.
“So Joelle, may I ask…If you’re not a stripper, why do you travel with so many wigs?”
“I’m afraid I can’t answer that. You haven’t even bought me dinner. I can’t reveal all my secrets to you when you haven’t even asked me out on a proper date.”
“Alright. Fair enough. Will you go to dinner with me?”
“Don’t ask me unless you mean it.”
“I do mean it. I want to take you to dinner.”
“Okay. Now I’m getting nervous. What should I wear? I’ve never been on a real-life dinner date before.”
Peter laughed. “You should wear whatever the heck you want to wear. You can wear what you’re wearing now.”
“I should hope not. I’ll probably write about this date in my diary later. I don’t want to record that I wore five year old jeans and my Berkeley sweatshirt.”
“Then wear your favorite outfit.”
“Okay.” I took a sip of my chai.
“Peter?” I asked.
“I better get going. I still have some things to do for work, and then I have to figure out which one of my wigs goes best with my favorite outfit.”
“For reals? You’re going to wear a wig?”
“Guess you’ll find out at dinner. And besides, who said I’m not wearing one now?”
When I got out of the coffee shop I dialed Jack Teverson. “Mr. Teverson. I have results for you. My recommendation for hire is Kirk Patrick. If you want a full review of the reasons, we can meet next week. I can’t meet today though, I have a hot date to get ready for.”

Recommended reading: Snoop: What You’re Stuff Says About You by Sam Gosling

Sunday, March 31, 2013

(un)spoken word

Upon his head they set the thorns
the King of Kings
the Lord of Lords
and in his hands they drilled the nails
while his back still bled
from claws of the cat of nine tails
salt in his wounds, a pierce in his side
it was the sentence to a trial
so wrongly tried

he cried out and said “God, It’s finished, I’m done!”
though he saved the world,
many didn’t believe he was the true One

but when Life and Death did battle
with victory did win
Jesus Christ the risen Savior
seated in heaven now with Him
God the Father
our Lord and Creator
the Master the Maker
the Potter the Painter
Elohim and Adonai
Jehovah God, El Shaddai
The Great I Am

Father, Spirit, Son
the Trinity battles tooth and nail
He won’t quit on us
He cannot fail

so to Satan I say, “Let us fight you to the death!
And let the victor be the one who lives a second life.”  
I say “Let Christ fight you till the death!
And name as king the one who gives eternal life.”

see, we’ve spoken lies
and with the same lips kissed truth
we’ve knocked on hearts
and with the same fists broken through
we’ve pledged vows
but of promises, kept few

we deserve death as payment for our sins
but Christ stepped up and said “I’ll take the bill”
he gave up his spirit at the Place of the Skull
saved us on Golgotha hill
he crossed off my sin
and hung my sin on the cross
I am sought after and fought for
though I was but lost

my Jesus he came
to take away all my shame
to heal a heart full of pain
to cleanse me and disinfect me and make me brand new
it is his love and his light that brightly shines through
the window pane of my soul
he windexed and washed
the dust and grime in my life is gone
and the prince of lies has lost

absent is the heart aching
because my God is remaking
I am no longer suffocating
I used to think that
the breath in my lungs is what brought me to life
but the only oxygen that sustains me is called Jesus Christ.
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