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What's in a name?

Today felt like a first. I don't know any other way to put it, except to say that it felt like the mechanism of my life lurched forward suddenly and things started to move and happen. And I lifted up my feet, let the wheels turn, and just went a long for the ride. It was like God said, 'Okay jenn, I'm taking the training wheels off now. It's spring, just like I told you.'

I went down to Silver Reality to meet with my soon-to-be-new-landlord. He is a kind old man, who wears silk ties over plaid shirts and stetson hats. There are hearing aides in both of his ears, and his thick paned glasses jut out over his nose in a way that makes him peer down to view you even though he isn't very tall. I sat at his crazy old desk that was covered in post-it-notes and old desk lamps as he stood over my shoulder and reviewed the new lease. The front door to his office burst open, and in walked a middle-aged gentleman who was instantly nervous when he saw me. Mr. Silver introduced us, and I found out that he was the owner of the pawn shop. He was stopping by to tell Mr. Silver that all of his labwork just came back showing that he was healthy after a bought of illness. I smiled from ear to ear, and thought , 'of course it did' to myself. Mr. Silver told him that he would be running a marathon in no time and thanked him for repairing his watch. I looked at his wrist and saw that it was a giant black calculator watch ackwardly held in place by a worn brown leather strap.

We finalized the terms of my lease, and I laughed and was so grateful. He gave me a lease without a set term, and told me that he just wanted me to be happy living there. So if I need to move out, if I could just give him 30 days notice he felt that would be fair. I thought back and realized that even though I had prayed about it, and thought about asking him if I could do a short lease, I had never asked Mr. Silver.  :)   I wrote him a check for the security deposit, with money that I never would've had except for a check randomly appearing in my mailbox two weeks ago from my previous job. As soon as I received the check, I cashed it and knew that I was supposed to set it aside for a new apartment. It was for $25 more than my security deposit. hah!

When I wrote the check to Mr. Silver, he noticed that they were still printed with my old last name. I had to explain to him that I have ordered checks twice, but the bank keeps sending me the wrong ones even though my name has been changed on my account for quite some time. I had to tell him that I was divorced, and I felt him look at me strangely from the corner of his glasses. But I smiled, and told him that my last name was FITZ and that was all that mattered.

We drove over to the new apartment, and I brought mom a long so she could see it. I walked in the front door, and instantly felt better. It is the feeling that I have been hoping for....a place to call my home. No vibrating, gangster-rap floors. No heat stuck on full-blast. No tiny, cramped, everything-is-white, one closet, jail-cell feeling. No more permanent holding pattern of intermediacy. A new coat of paint and some minor details and it will be the place where I am comfortable. Where I come home and throw off my shoes and dance around in my kitchen. And wake up to the view of the stone terrace with it's over-grown trees. And set up my silver christmas tree, hang stockings on the fireplace mantel, and watch the snow fall through the french-doors in the living room. Even though I will have to eat a lot of peanut-butter sandwiches to make that happen, it will be well worth it.

The new apartment is just like my life....it's been there all along, just waiting for me to move into it.


'Love Birds'

I'm a casual observer. There are days when I completely lose myself in being an anthropologist and just watching people and trying to understand their interactions. Time will go by when I don't speak, or move, or even really know that I exist...because I am so enthralled in what I see.

Today I noticed someone carry a large brightly colored bag down to the car from an apartment building. He looked at me and studied my face, making a second trip by. I wondered whose bag he was carrying...His mother's? His girlfriend's? I saw a married couple that I have known for a long time. I watched how they looked at each other and the way that they talked, trying to decipher if there was a secret language buried among the seemingly normal conversation that said 'I love and respect you' somewhere in between the words. I saw men crowded into a waiting room at the BMV, with their lurid expressions that were so unconscious and blank they didn't even realize how they were staring. I saw girls walking down the street, and pushing strollers, and making my tea... that were so scantily clad that it made me blush and look away.  I saw another friend turning the corner, her blond pony-tail high above the stark white collar of her waitressing uniform and noticed that her husband's car was parked below their apartment. I'm sure he kissed her good-bye before she left. And I saw a girl, moving into the apartment across the hall with her entire life packed into a u-haul and her parent's carting furniture up the five flights of stairs. There were rubbermaid bins on the sidewalk with new baby toys, but no sign of a man or a baby today.

These observations were from an editorial eye, and not intended to be judgmental. I will say that my eyes have been opened in new ways over the last several months, and that in the past I would've surveyed these scenes differently. Perhaps in the future I will see them from a completely different angle entirely.

But for today I was looking for the ways that people express love. Society imposes standards, ideals, rituals, bad habits, and scripted versions of what love looks like. We have myspace to select what 'status' of a relationship we are in. We have text messages so that we can be reached at any minute of the day, in short choppy emotionless sentences.  It is confusing to live in a world where The Bible says one thing about how we should love, and the current box-office romantic dramedy says another. There are so many variations in the spectrum of love and relationships that we admire and aspire to be like.

But is that real? Or is that just what we are being told? Because we have been told things about love since the beginning of time. Before the digital age, before we were bombarded with images of love, even before there was any sort of mass communication through books and film....we were being told. Cave-paintings tell us that men were hunters and women were gatherers and nurturers. History is loaded with stories of relationships that completely shaped the world we live in today.  Helen of Troy's legendary beauty brought about the Trojan War. Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn's relationship ended the church's rule over England, and gave us their daughter Queen Elizabeth (the virgin queen). Lady Godiva rode naked through the streets to convince her husband the Earl to abolish taxes. And of course there is Adam and Eve, Sampson and Delilah, Mary and Joseph, Jacob and Rachel...the list goes on forever.

On a simpler scale...The same two birds have been meeting on the gutter of the building across from me to mate for several days. Every time I look out the window, it seems like the birds are there. I can't decide if it is romantic,  if they are mating for life, or if it is just a biological need because it's mating season. For that matter, are we exactly the same? And from the outside it is impossible to determine what version of the situation is occurring.

What I gathered from all of this, is that the ways that we express love are as far reaching and different as we are as individuals. We have a lot of examples to look to in order to understand their mistakes and try not to repeat them. We have those few examples of people that we know who have been lucky enough to find real love and stick with it. And we just need to relax, and not allow all of the pressure of the entire history of society tell us how we should be showing each other how we feel. Personally, I don't want the glowing myspace digital re-enforcement of love, and I don't want what the birds have who are meeting on my gutter. But I hope that if someone were to sit and observe my life one day, they will see that I express love in my own way that is independent of standards and ideals. And I truly hope that that will inspire them to be okay with the ways that they express love themselves.

even exchange

I hope that the buttons, mouse-clicks, neon screens
fast-talking people with agendas
magazine articles and half read books
unpaid bills
guitar amps, text messages,
ex-lovers, distant close relatives,
and late-night television programs
will know how to make your coffee in the morning
encourage you
when you can't fit it all in your head
make art installations for your birthday
scratch your back until you relax
sucker-punch you in the jaw
climb rooftops
adore your son
accept you for who you are
and sit at the corner booth in the parlor
ten years from now.

awakening

Here I am.

I am in a place where I understand who I am and what I should be doing. I am finally standing in the doorway of where my life should be. Working five minutes from home, at something that makes sense to me, free to all of the possibilities of the world. More calm than I have been in my entire life. Receptive to ideas and opinions, and knowing that it's all swirling in around me for a reason.

I have let go of the burdens of my past, that were so heavy that every step was difficult. I don't fear the same situations or opinions that plagued me. None of those things will ever harm me.

I'm not the same. I never will be again. I will be better than I ever was before.

defining

I'm not a shape
that can be molded
formed
bent and pounded
into what you want
it to be.
I am the shape
that I am.
The space I fit in
occupies me well
all chipped corners
endless boundaries
ever expanding
more pronounced...
and not because
anyone ever said so.

what shape are you in?

With Me

Joe warned me on Wednesday that there was talk in the bank of transferring me to a different branch. By Thursday, I had accepted my fate and was awaiting the news to officially be delivered. I watched as Danielle ran into the back room to talk on her cell phone whenever it rang, and knew it was coming. I continued to run my appointments like nothing was out of the ordinary, and answer all of my spiteful e-mails. At the end of the day on Thursday, Danielle asked me to stay late to talk to her. I decided to go to church instead.

When I got to church, I found that Hanna was in my seat with a cup of coffee waiting for me. She knew I had had a rough day, and was there for support. The service was amazing. Pastor was back in full force (even though his voice cracked a little). He told a story about a woman that suffered a degenerative disease which caused her to slowly lose her voice. Her pastor would visit her and they would practice saying Psalm 23 to keep her voice active. Each visit, she condensed the Psalm as her voice disappeared. By the end of her illness, she was only able to say a few words, and had condensed the entire Psalm to 'WITH ME!'. I was very moved. It is that simple. Then I watched as a procession of people were baptized and shared their testimonials. The music swelled with a violin and a sax, and God moved through the room. Joshua grabbed me to say hello, and I told him about the difficult day ahead in the morning. Simultaneously, Pastor exclaimed 'No matter what is happening tomorrow, or how bad it looks, He is with you!'  We both laughed. I  waited around to leave, and Pastor came by so I introduced him to Hanna. Then he said, 'I KNOW YOU' and grabbed my face to give me a kiss and a hug. I decided that he should adopt me so that I could get kisses and hugs from him every day.

After church, I went out for coffee that turned into dinner that turned into open communication and laughter. Around midnight, my phone rang and Hanna was at my door to sleep on my couch. I set my alarm to wake me with Psalm 23 by Jason Upton to start me off on the right foot. We got up in the morning, had a cup of coffee and got ready for the day.

As I drove to work, my head swirled with what I might be walking into. I wrestled with whether God wanted me to call Danielle out on her behavior, and whether this was a test of my ability to be strong in the face of adversity. I decided that I couldn't intentionally tear someone down, no matter how they were treating me. I pulled a drawing pen out of my art bag and wrote 'WITH ME' on the back of my left hand.

My meeting with Danielle was scheduled for 8am. I waited at my desk but when the meeting was due to start, she was in the backroom talking to a teller. Exactly at 8am, yelling could be heard through the walls. I asked the tellers to turn on the branch music to drown out the sound, but before they could get to the cd player the door to the backroom burst open. The teller stormed into the lobby yelling and cursing as she  headed for her station. She stopped in the middle of the branch (of course we weren't open yet) and screamed at Danielle that she was a horrible manager, no-one likes her, she lies all of the time, and she doesn't deserve her position. Everyone in the branch looked down at the floor and said nothing. Danielle looked around for support from a single face, to find statues. She escorted the teller out of the branch, and they continued to yell in the doorway. The teller peeled out of the parking lot, honking her horn.

When Danielle walked back into the branch, no-one said a word. She got on her cell phone and called Catherine, only to find out that everyone in the branch had to write down everything they saw and heard and fax it to human resources. So 5 pieces of paper that said 'Danielle is a horrible manager' got faxed to our boss.

Then it was my turn. A slightly humbled and visibly shaken Danielle took me into the backroom, and tried to talk to me about the altercation that just occurred. When I didn't have a lot to say, she moved right into letting me know that I would be transferring to the Valley City branch on Monday. Same position, same pay, lower volume, ten miles further. They haven't had a BM or OM for over a month, and they need me to go run the branch. Cut-backs, falling stock, reallocating talent....blah, blah, blah. I looked at the writing on my hand, and didn't worry at all. I told her I was fine with it and left for my appointment. As I started my car to drive away from the branch, 'Bittersweet Symphony' blared from the radio. My face broke into a huge smile. Then my phone rang and an old colleague from BBW called to tell me that the district manager had contacted  her an hour ago for a reference on me.

So at 8am..Danielle was confronted and I didn't have to say a word, I was transferred to another branch away from the stress, got to keep my job and pay (other people were not so lucky today), the new job was lining itself up, and a song of freedom was waiting for me to drive away. I didn't know where Valley City is, and I didn't care. It's obvious that no matter where I go, He is With Me.

"Well I never pray
But tonight I'm on my knees yeah
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now
But the airways are clean and there's nobody singing to me now" (Bittersweet Symphony)

body count

Pulled into
things you want to do
Pretending
they're things
you want to change
in yourself
in someone else
Familiar patterns
trace a chalk outline
Around the real issue
Until you cross
the line you drew
Gravitating on
to the next thing
The pattern
repeats itself.

Acorns

It was good to just sit and talk. When two people open a dialogue with the honest intention of rectifying the things that were never said, and to make peace over the things that brought pain and confusion.....it can only end with a deeper understanding of not only that person, but also yourself.  It was good to apologize and mean it.  It was good to just listen.

To paraphrase the sermon last night (which happened AFTER the conversation- AMAZING!!!!):
If you went to an oak tree that you were about to chop down and asked it what it wanted to be, it would say 'a desk in the White House' or 'a pillar in a mansion'. If you cut down that oak tree to make a barrel that holds liquor, it might be disappointed. A week after the barrel is empty, it is discarded and can't be used again. After it has been violated, it's life is over. Someone at church, had the idea to carve crosses out of the oak from discarded liquor barrels. To give new purpose to something that would otherwise be worthless and destroyed.

If there is a rift between you another person, it is impossible to be an ambassador for the spirit. God made the oak tree, and He made it to be more than a liquor barrel. It was life that made it into something that it wasn't intended for. But the amazing thing about God, is that even after the oak tree has been used and filled with poison...He still sees potential. And if you can't heal the rift that you caused with another person, then you don't see the potential that God sees in them. 

And when there is a rift, whose responsibility is it to open communication and bridge the gap to make it right?
Whoever is more interested in being right with God.


It was good to just sit and talk.  It was good to see your potential.

Psalm 139:13

The ice is dropping off the telephone lines, and crashing down in big white sheets. College students bustle from one brick building to another, leaving a single trail of green across the snow covered park. I wonder why they all choose to walk in that same place, which wasn't even a path until they made it one. There is a quiet this morning, among the sounds of the traffic splashing water and the birds chirping close to my rooftop. And I hang my hands out the window to feel the new spring-like air.

I am told later in the day, that I need a gradual unraveling. Like there is a ball of string somewhere in the middle of me that should start to come undone. It's currently tied around my heart and my stomach with tight red conviction, made out of child-hood mittens and socks that didn't get mended. Every day that I just breathe and relax, the string will loosen it's grip on me until my heart and stomach are free again. Broken away from the shackles of 27 years of tying knots until I can't exhale anymore. I'm happy to think about what that will feel like, and look down my throat for evidence of the string that I might begin to pull it out. But it isn't there, and I can't see it, so I focus on breathing and not tying any new knots today. And when the string finally comes off, I will put it to good use....I will fly a kite.

Laundry

48
broken wooden steps
straight down
to put a dollar
in the metal coin slot
scattering underpants
across four flights
just to wash the sheets
forgetting the detergent
on the slanted counter
mumbling about
what goes in the dryer
Stubbing my bare toe
on the rusty table
A lot of trouble
to not smell patchouli
on my pillow-case