Content

I have plans for 2012. Resolutions, if you will.

I have the normal ones – get rid of this 25 pounds that has haunted me since grad school, be the best wife ever, become a more patient manager.

I have the more complex ones – write the story that lives in my head, read more books, watch less trash tv (nobody needs to know who wins Survivor.)

But I have one resolution that I want to be central – be content.

Contentment is about being satisfied. With my situation in life, with the things and blessings I’ve been given, with the time I have been blessed with.

Life is something most of us live successfully by striving towards the next thing. In childhood, it’s the small things: sleepovers, increased responsibility, being allowed to watch PG-13 movies, driving a car, going out with friends. It becomes more complicated: graduating high school, getting into that college, getting on the Dean’s list, graduating from college, getting that job. We are always looking ahead, leaning forward to try to dip our toes into a pool not quite yet ours.

For me, more than anything else, I have always longed to be married.  I will not preach to you Plato’s Symposium, where Aristophanes speaks of how we each are searching for the other half we have been separated from, but neither will I pretend that the single life is not one of endless yearning for something you know is out there but not yet with you.

And then 2011 happened. We got married, and we have started the strange and wonderful mess of weaving two lives together. Marriage. It brings with it a new group of longings. A house to make a home. Children.

This year, I am going to be content. With where I am in life. A newly wed. A woman with a great job that I’m great at.

I will look ahead at the future, and welcome the changes when they come, but I will be content where I am, and ponder them in my heart while they are mine to hold.

i can see clearly now

Yesterday was foggy.

When I was a child, foggy days in winter were the worst. You woke up in the morning and you knew that by the end of the day the white wonderland of the midwest would have dripped itself into a muddy, grey oblivion. Fog meant that everything was melting and the air was thick of a damp that the warmest mittens couldn’t hold out against.

Yesterday, of course, I was busy. I knew it was foggy, and it was irritating in the I-have-to-drive-home-in-this-goo, Why-can’t-it-just-be-sunny way, but I didn’t dwell on its impact on the 14-16 inches of snow lying about, since there’s not as much to celebrate with snow as an adult. (Pros: potential snow day – Cons: shoveling, plowing, ice on your car, ice on the roads, maniac drivers, snowbanks you can’t see around, driving in mittens, fewer parking spots because the snow takes up room – you get the point.) I thought briefly of how much more disappointed I would have been if this had been my childhood, all the snow melting away right before Christmas, but in my grinch-like whirlwind, I didn’t really think further than that.

But then, this morning, on the way to work – a miracle! It had become cold overnight, and all the fog had frozen on the trees, so that everything was sparkly and white.

I thought of grief. In the winter, fog is dank and depressing and overwhelming, but when the fog lifts and freezes and sparkles, while we still don’t understand why we had to come through the fog, we can see how the other side is all the more beautiful for it.

Maybe this doesn’t make sense to anyone else, but that’s my deep thought for today.

Loves to all.

Asher to Zed

Do you like baby pictures? Would you like to see a couple?

Thursday my sister and I and my nephew drove to Memphis. We left at 2am. I’m not really sure you can call that morning. Asher travelled with all of the pent-up energy of 15 months, and we made it to see this guy, Martin Edward.

We ran errands, did dishes, took out garbage, and took long walks through Costco.

Melody also introduced our two short ones to each other.

There are actually three babies in this picture, just two ex utero.

And then we came home. Asher was less impressed with the second 10 (then 12) hour trip in four days, but we all survived, thanks to Starbucks, Panera Bread and Aldi’s honey wheat pretzels.

Anyway. I’m back.

you are what you eat

There is only one situation in my life where the saying “You are what you eat” has ever truly rung true for me, and that was the time during which I worked as a barista.

I like to think that I held this job before it became trendy, before every college graduate I know put in their time in the green apron and black slacks of Starbucks. I first worked coffee when I was fifteen, at a small local coffee and bagel shop. I then went on to pull espresso shots in one place or another until the end of my Master’s program, first at a small coffee shop near my college, then at the coffee shop within a bookstore during grad school.

What struck me about it all was how we behind the counter, having nothing much else to go on, quickly began to identify people by their drink orders. In the morning, when the coffee shop would open, you would see black-coffee-with-refill-and-toasted-cinnamon-raisin-bagel standing outside, and you would pull an extra bagel just for him. You would see a mom struggling a stroller through the front door and you would check to see if her single friend was with her, so you would know whether it was one non-fat-sugar-free-vanilla-no-foam or two.  

Worst, for me, was when I would run into someone in the grocery store, and they, naturally, would remember my name (since I wore a name tag 99% of the time they had seen me) and so while I was greeted with a friendly “Hey Coral! How are you today? Not working, I see.” I would be left mumbling something non-committal while my internal dialogue went something like “Hey triple-shot-mocha-no-whip-extra-hot! How are you?!”

Don’t get me wrong, there were things I loved about working coffee. The chatty atmosphere late at night, when people would come in and linger at the end of the counter, drinking their tea without ever sitting at a table. I enjoyed the attention of the crazy old men, one of whom used to tell me regularly that he wouldn’t tip unless I laughed my crazy startling laugh at least once while he was drinking his coffee. There was the guy who slipped me a note to ask me out, throwing me for an unexpected loop when he compared me to the title character of Amelie.

I like that now when I run into people from work in the grocery store, a real name pops into my head, but a part of me is also secretly thrilled that there is a girl at a local coffee shop who thinks of me as large-iced-caramel-latte-with-skim.

*Book post is coming. I have had a nutso week and I know I never posted my review of The Forgotten Garden here, or my review of Ghostwritten, I don’t think. They are coming. Also, I’m almost finished Leithart’s Miniatures and Morals, which I will comment on in time. For now, this will have to satisfy.

we used to be friends

Yesterday morning, at 5:30am, I dropped a book into the filling bathtub for the first time in…well, a long time. Partly it could be that I had been awake since 5am even though I didn’t want to be, partly it could be a subconscious disdain for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (I don’t think it was that) or partly it could be that I was clumsily attempting to gather towels to start a load of laundry before work. Who knows. Harry Potter is currently drying under the rest of the series, in an attempts to keep his cover and pages straight (*sigh* – that’s one of the ones that was a gift from Papercrystals and I’m sad I spoilt it) and I completely forgot to start that load of laundry in the aftermath.

My work stuff is not going smoothly right now. I’m involved in a big project that involves multiple teams and requires compromises that aren’t always easy. What’s best for the whole project often results in mediocre results for each individual team, and on Wednesday, that erupted in a meeting where a colleague shouted at me in front of a group of people while I tried to explain why we had done what we did. I’ve lost quite a few battles in my day, even on this particular project. When she stalked out, I felt bruised and sore, but I didn’t really want to perpetuate this argument. So I kept my mouth shut throughout the email flurry that followed.  The people above me reiterated my position, agreed with the change we made and supported it. There has been more sputtering, but I haven’t had to say anything at all. Interesting.

I have (another) wedding shower for Jesse’s brother’s fiance this afternoon, but I am going to spend the rest of my weekend running, reading (Miniatures and Morals – so glad I didn’t drop that one in the tub!) and working from home. Maybe finish that laundry…

not the nose in the book penalty!

See, here’s the deal. In every family, every individual is known for something. Just last weekend my sister pulled something that made us smile and say “Classic Emby.”

As I did that, shaking my head at my little sister, and taking another sip of coffee (seriously, I don’t think Jesse has seen my parents’ house when we didn’t drink at least two pots of coffee, regardless of the number of people who show up) I wondered, what is it that they shake their heads about and say “Classic Coral”?

It didn’t take me long to figure out what it was. Mom and Dad are still laughing about our last car trip togther. It’s the middle of Montana/Dakotas/Minnesota and I’m in the back seat, nursing a chai and completely immersed in my Kindle and Anne of Green Gables. I hear the tail end of a conversation, and I jump in with my two cents and am met with a moment of silence and “Coral, we’ve been talking about this for the last half hour.”

“Sorry. I was reading.”

That, my friends, is a classic Coral. Although there are other varieties, (including the asking of directions to the dentist you have been going to for the last ten years, because every other time you have gone there, you were in the back seat with your nose in a book) that is what it’s all about.

Safety Second!

When my sister and I were in Uganda, summer of 2006, we met two young men who were visiting at the same time. Christopher and Jake became our fast friends, although we all hailed from different parts of the US. One week, when Mel and I were sick with malaria, they decided to cook us dinner, a chore we usually fulfilled.

Breaking out the macaroni cheese packets brought from home and a box of noodles purchase in Mbale, the boys' set up took longer than it would have taken us to make a whole dinner. Christopher, an avid photographer from southern CA, set up his camera to film the whole thing.

Even now, when I watch it I laugh until I cry.

Christopher's personality, already larger than life, takes over, and Jake, a humble farm boy from Montana, has to work to hold his own. They discuss love songs, and then, when one of them nearly burns down the kitchen, Jake says "Safety first!" Christopher turns to the camera and replies "Love first. Safety second."

When pressed, later off camera, it was determined that it was:

Love first.

Safety second.

Then cheese, bacon and worchestershire sauce, in that order.

Good to know, boys. Life lessons all around.