Monday, October 29, 2007

This is the Church

A congregation standing
Raising their voices in song
Praising the Lord with hands raised
Gathered in a sacred throng

This is the Church

A small gathering of people
Standing in the house of their Lord
Singing songs in Spanish
Praising the God they adore

This is the Church

A few families huddled together
Praying not to be found
Whispering their songs of praise
As they worship underground

This is the Church

All these people, joined together
As Christ’s beautiful Bride
Waiting to be taken Home
To the place He will provide

We are the Church

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Fly

Flies get on my nerves. I can’t stand them. It’s not that I’m afraid of them or anything; I just want them to die. I killed a good many flies back in the day when I was the Official Fly Slayer of Gene and Jo’s Grocery Store. I was the savior of my female coworkers, killing every fly, bee, and pretty much any bug I saw. I also had to forcibly remove from the premises (but not necessarily kill) the occasional creature (i.e. mice, toads, birds and even dogs) that wandered into our workplace, but my specialty was flies. In fact, when I stopped working there my coworkers gave me a flyswatter as a going away present. Aww.

Someone could say something like, “Johanna, there’s a fly in the Meat Room.” and just moments after uttering these words, Johanna would be in the back, combing the Meat Room, flyswatter in hand and murder in her eyes. And then, usually about a minute later, she would either be proudly carrying the dead fly by a protruding wing to the garbage, or scraping his mangled remains off the wall with a paper towel. Either way, that fly was dead.

I don’t work there anymore, but my hatred for flies has not faded in the least. Flies still annoy the heck out of me, and I still kill them on a regular basis, only trying to make the world a little less horrible and the spiders a little more hungry (hopefully they’ll die off, too). So, as you can probably imagine, when I am unable to kill a fly, that gets on my nerves. Like today…

So there I was, sitting in the Mill, being a good girl and studying (cramming) for my Spanish test. All of a sudden, I feel the familiar tickle on my arm that could not be mistaken for anything but a fly. An unreadable emotion flickered in my eyes for a moment, but other than that I gave no facial expression. I glance down to confirm my suspicion. There it sat, on my arm, feeling around with that gross sucker thing that comes out of the middle of their face, being a fly. I wanted to smack it so bad, but, although I hate them with a passion, I was slightly hesitant to splatter fly guts on my person. So I waited. Apparently the fly was finished with my arm and moved itself to the table. Perfect.

Some people feel or see a fly and are content to simply shoo it away with a wave of the hand. Not me. I have to kill it, kill it dead! Deader than a doornail, as my father would say. If you shoo them away, they always come back. If you kill them, they never come back to irritate you anymore.

I moved my hand slightly, trying to get it above the fly without him realizing that he’s about to be squished. I get no farther than an inch before he jumps into the air and relocates at the other side of the table. my mouth twitched into a slight smile.

Ah, feisty, are we?

I slowly grab my practice test that I was supposed to be studying and roll it into a tight little bundle. Trying not to arouse the suspicion of the patrons sitting at various tables around me, I quietly raise the rolled up test. I glance around, making sure nobody is watching. And then I look back and—hey! It was gone! The little pest. Where was he? He hadn’t left…I knew his kind. They enjoy making my life miserable. Then I felt it: a tiny tickle on my forehead. Without thinking, I slapped at it, hitting myself hard smack-dab in the middle of my forehead. When I looked around the room, about five people’s heads quickly snapped back to their books and computers. I was so angry, not so much at the fly as I was at myself…I had played right into his little bug hands! He was slick, this one. Slicker than hot snot on a brass doorknob, as my father would say. My father says a lot of things.

And then, there he was, sitting atop my computer screen, staring at me with those freakish eyes (the fly, not my father). We sat there for a minute or two, staring at each other. It was a face-off. Then somebody set down their glass, and, like the shot heard around the world, we both sprang into action. He flew at me, and I succeeded in hitting him and knocking him off balance, but not catching him in my hand, as was my plan. I was angry, and he was cocky, but his arrogance was his downfall. He landed on the wall for just a second too long…forgetting that I still had the practice test in my hand. he learned a valuable lesson that day: above all else, never underestimate the Fly Slayer.

He’s still where I left him, nothing more than a brown smear on the wall. A testimony to all who play his foolish game and practice his dark arts. He got what he deserved. You should never play with fire, kids, or with people who want to kill you. Because eventually, if you make them angry enough, they will kill you, deader than a doornail.

Flies, ye be warned.

Friday, October 19, 2007


So first I'm going to apologize for all the rapid-fire amount of blogs these days. I'm always complaining that I don't have enough time to get stuff done, so why I keep posting on here time after time after time is way beyond me. but oh well. it's a good getaway, maybe. anyhow, I'm sorry. I don't expect you to be reading my blogs as fast as I've been writing them.

Now that we've got the business out of the way...oh crap. I just forgot what I was gonna write about this time. hang on, it'll come to me...wait for it...there it is! I remember now. *disclaimer: all things in this post that may be interpreted as "dark" or "slightly creepy" (or "very creepy") you may disregard as nothing more than Jo's sick and demented sense of humor.*

So every day of the week I go to one class in the morning, and then, every other day of the week I have a second class a full three hours after the first one ends. there's no way I'm going to drive all the way home for an hour and then back again and park and plug the meter and all that nonsense, so instead I just stay in the general area of school, all by my lonesome. I managed to locate a quaint little coffee shop known as Scooters, and decided to adopt it as my second home.

During this two to three hours of time when I'm sitting in Scooters, I usually do some studying and mess around on my computer doing nothing in particular (hence, the rapid-fire blogs as of late). eventually, this gets old (I'm pretty sure I have A.D.D.) so I have been forced to think of a new past time.

Scooters has these big windows and it's next to a fairly busy street, so there are always a lot of people walking by on the sidewalk. the windows are easy to see out of, but not very easy to see into. *Insert here that one time when the Grinch smiled really big and evilly* I now had my past time.

I like watching people. don't be creeped out. I'm not one of the creepy stalkers, I'm one of the non-creepy ones. I even found a lonely little place in one of the more desolate corners of Scooters where I could practice my hobby in peace. I do this almost everyday.

But today, when I came into Scooters, there were some rowdy, obnoxious boys in my desolate corner making noise and throwing coffee everywhere. hey! move it! find your own stalking corner! but they didn't so I was forced to find another place to watch the masses. I managed to find another place, but it was in no way lonely or desolate. there were about three places where people could watch me without being seen by me. blast! I can't comfortably watch people if people are maybe watching me!

Never stalk people if you're being stalked. that's what I always say. so today I'm taking a break from my watching. you're in luck today, people. hopefully next time the obnoxious desolate corner-stealing boys will be gone so the Scooter-Stalker can once again do what she does best. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Birthday Giraffe (And Other Assorted Nikki Stories)

If I was posed with the question as to weather or not my childhood was a happy one, I would have to answer that most of my memories from my early life are fond. For the most part, my life was completely and totally fine and dandy. For the most part.

But then, peppered throughout my childhood memories, I have ones that are slightly less than perfect. What could possibly go wrong in the life of a six year old with siblings, toys and imagination galore? Plenty. Like that one time…

*you are now going back…back…back…into the mists of time…*

I had just had my sixth birthday. I had received many wonderful presents and had had more sugar than ought to be allowed for a child of my age. I lay on my bed, content and happy as I looked over my recently opened gifts. And then my sister walks into the room. In the back of my mind I wondered why she had such a suspicious look on her face, but my mind was so clouded with happiness, all reason was gone.

“Hi, Jo.” She says, a strange glimmer in her eye.

“Hi, Nikki.” I say, not too interested. I was busy playing with one of my new gifts, my favorite one. It was a Beanie Baby giraffe named Twigs, given to me from my aunt and uncle who lived in Colorado. He was adorable, and had a face that made me fall in love with him immediately. I carefully stroked his cute little giraffe face.

Then Nikki’s eyes lingered for a moment too long on my giraffe, and then her voice cut into my bliss. “I’ll give you three dollars for that giraffe.”

I was astonished. She expected me to sell her Twigs for a measly three dollars? “No, thanks.” I said. “He’s my favorite.”

But the glimmer of envy remained locked in her eyes, her resolve in no way weakened. Then she produced her trump card. She pulled a large, pink, heart-shaped box from behind her back. “Look at this, Johanna.” She said slyly. “Isn’t this pretty?”

Blast, she was good. She knew my weakness, the little thief. Money I could resist. Pretty things—boxes especially—not so much. And she knew it. “Isn’t this box pretty? It’s in the shape of a heart,” she said, stating the obvious.

I looked at the box. It was pretty, to be sure, and I wanted it. But one more look into the eyes of Twigs, and I just couldn’t do it. “No, that’s okay.” I said.

But Nikki was not daunted. “C’mon, Jo. I’ll give you the pretty box and three dollars for the stupid giraffe. C’mon.” now the thing about Nikki is that she has a way of making you think you have no choice weather or not to obey her. I felt trapped…like somehow I had to give her my giraffe because she told me to…but not sure why I had to. I did want that box, though. And three dollars wouldn’t be too bad to have, either.

Well, in the end, Nikki convinced me to give her the giraffe for the heart-shaped box and three dollars. Immediately afterward, though, I was horrified that she had used her evil powers to trick me into giving away my birthday present. I even begged her to take the box and the money back…I wanted Twigs! He was sad without me, I could tell. We were both miserable, I tried explaining to Nikki. But she would hear nothing of it. She had achieved her goal. She had successfully—and legally—stolen my birthday present.

I had always thought Nikki would make a good criminal if she ever took it into her mind to become one, and after that I knew it for sure.

But Nikki was not always such an evil, birthday present-stealing, sister-tricking, unfair trade-making desperado. Like that time we were detectives. But then we couldn’t find any mysteries, so we made flyers and distributed them throughout our neighborhood to the various residents. But then we still didn’t get any mysteries, so we imagined up our own. Like, if the neighbors were painting their fence, we were just sure that they were trying to paint over blood spots. We also thought for sure that the garbage men were stealing stuff. Why else would they be driving around while it’s dark? C’mon, people, let’s have some common sense here.

Or when we found a little stray puppy and brought it home and fed it while mom and dad were gone…and got in trouble for it because “Now he’ll never leave!” according to our dad. Nikki and I were confused because, well, isn’t that the point?

Or like the time we decided to run away from home (I don’t remember why now, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t then, either), and actually packed our backpacks and made it to the front bushes before losing our nerve.

Nikki is awesome. The bestest big sister ever (as long as she keeps her paws off my stuff). I couldn’t picture childhood, or life at all, without her.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Day I Met Santa

My belief in Santa Clause was terminated many, many years ago when my young mind finally realized why Santa, The Elf, and my Dad all had the same handwriting...because they were the same person. and for a while, I even believed that my dad was Santa Clause himself, the man who flew around in a magic sleigh and delivered toys to children on Christmas Eve. the neighbor kids had nothing on me, then. they might think they're better, faster, smarter or had cooler parents than I did. fools. my own father was Santa Clause and nothing stands against that, I don't care how many fruit rollups your parents buy you (my parents would never buy me fruit rollups). yeah, for a while there I was livin' the dream of every five-year-old.

Until that fateful day when my friend Samantha and I compared our "Santa notes" and discovered that the handwriting was completely different. it was then, standing there with a sick feeling in our guts, that we realized we'd been duped. Santa was not my father, or anyone else's father. Santa was a lie.

Since that day of horror I've been forced to live my life with the realization that there is no large, jolly old man who climbs down the chimney on Christmas Eve and leaves presents by the fireside. there was no longer any magic in hanging the stockings by the fireplace or leaving cookies and milk on the table for Santa...because it was nothing but a lie. just a big, fat overrated lie. it wasn't all bad, though. I finally stopped wasting my time writing letters to Santa, which probably got thrown into the trash the minute they got to the post office. I stopped dozing at my window, forcing my exhausted body to stay awake and alert, just hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa and his reindeer flying through the sky, Rudolph leading the way through the night. and I stopped losing my temper when some older, less gullible child told me there was no Santa. I now knew the truth, and what a bitter-sweet truth it was. sweet, because I now knew there was no Santa and no longer lived in ignorance and I felt older and more mature, but bitter because I quickly realized that being ignorant was more fun.

But today, something happened that changed all of that. My delicate world that I believed to be so secure was shifted off its axis and plunged into incessant chaos. I met Santa.

Now, please don't laugh. I'm the last person in the world who would claim to believe in Santa, believe me. but after you meet someone, you tend to be more inclined to believe in them. and today, I met good old Father Christmas himself, in the flesh.

Well, okay, he didn't exactly reach out his hand and say, "Hi, my name's Kris Kringle." but he did say, "Hi, I'd like paper sacks, please." that's right, I was at the only place in the world where I would strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and ask if he wanted paper or plastic--I was at work.

So there I was. minding my own business at the cash register, doing my thing...when I saw him. It's like in those movies when the two main characters see each other for the first time. There's a mysterious lighting over their heads, and they're walking in slow motion and catch each other's eye...and depending on the movie, there's sometimes a feeling of love (in the movies where the people are destined to be together), a feeling of anger (in the movies where the people are destined to eventually fight to the death), or a feeling of curiosity (in the movies where they couldn't think of a good plot and the story goes nowhere). well, in this story, there was a feeling of "Whoa, that guy is totally Santa Clause."

It was obvious. he was sporting a long white beard, white hair, large black boots, a white long-sleeved shirt and red overalls. his eyes were that frosty blue color that I always knew Santa had, back in the day when I actually believed he existed. he was tall, well over six foot, and his countenance screamed "I'm Santa!" so much so, in fact, that I came this close to blurting, "I've been a good girl this year...can I have a trip to Switzerland, all expenses paid and a new iPod to replace the one that I accidentally fried to a crisp?" and then he would throw his head back and give a jolly laugh and say, "Ho Ho Ho...well, you've been good this year...I'll see what I can do." (And I would end up getting it, of course).

After Santa left my place of employment, carrying with him his newly purchased cereal, peaches and T-bone steaks, I got to wondering what the heck Saint Nick is doing in Lincoln Nebraska in the first place. isn't be supposed to live in the North Pole, according to ancient Christmas folklore? isn't he a little far from home? Don't they have T-bone steaks at the North Pole? then I realized that even Santa Clause would get tired of the barren arctic tundra after a few months of it. he probably has another house where he lives in the off-season, when he's not flying in his sleigh or monitoring the elves' mad toy-making skills. why he picked Lincoln Nebraska out of all the places in the world, I'll never know. maybe he's simply drawn to the Cornhuskers, since his favorite colors are obviously red and white. but who cares? it doesn't matter.

The important thing is that Santa lives.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Stained Glass

It’s no mystery to any of us
We’re all filthy as can be
We walk along in this corrupted world
Used to seeing the sinful debris

Some of us walk along forgiven
But no better than the rest
But because we are still sinful
We still remain depressed

Each of us, a fragment
A broken piece of glass
We think God made a mistake
Because we all contrast

We lament the places where we fall short
We weep because we’re stained
But we never think that our broken pieces
Can be beautifully rearranged

Although we chose to break God’s law
And inflict ourselves with stains
God did not abandon us to ourselves
But came and broke our chains

He made us free and gave us life
And sealed our release
And then, in all his mercy and grace
God made a masterpiece

He made us something beautiful
That nothing can surpass
Something so very lovely
Made from broken pieces of stained glass.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Not Sure Why I Did It...

Today I was walkin' along on the sidewalk, going to a place from a place. I had some song in my head, and I was walking at a good pace in step with my mental iPod...when I see this little thing in my way. it was a worm. just a little worm. about the size of my pinky finger. poor little guy, he was trying so hard to make it across the sidewalk. now, it was a little late in the day, but the sun was still out and the sidewalk was still pretty warm, and I would see little Wormy was going to end up fried to a crisp pretty quick, cause he was already turning a nasty shade of black and not moving as fast as worms ought to move. Probably some truth or dare game gone lethal, no doubt.
"I dare you to try and cross the sidewalk, Billy!"
"Oh no! not the sidewalk! pick something else!"
"Too late. it's a dare. you have to do it."
"Well, okay."
Yeah, I'm guessing that's how it all went down.

Now, I don't like worms. Nikki might be a worm-saver, but I would just as soon squish them or string them up on a fish hook. I don't think I would find them so repulsive, except for those little prickly things that protrude from their bodies. for some odd reason, I don't like those. it makes me think of their skeletons popping out of their bodies. isn't that gross? so it was strange that I saw this little worm, stopped, picked him up, and placed him in the grass.

I don't know what made me do it. I would've been perfectly content to let him fry on the sidewalk and then have a Mother Robin come scrape his remains off the cement and carry him away to her babies. at least he would've gone to a good cause.

I didn't know it was possible to have compassion for a worm...but I guess it is...cause that worm was robin meat, and I stopped, picked him up, and casually tossed him in the grass. it's weird that I did that...cause that worm is surely dead now anyways. either some hungry robin took the time and energy to pick thought the grass and found him, or whoever lived there mowed their grass and Wormy got decapitated. either way, I couldn't care less.

But I did my part. I saved the worm. Not sure why.

Friday, October 5, 2007


Being now officially in college, I've been forced to acquaint myself with all the different "college kid" stereotypes, which are all true as far as I can tell. coffee and granola bars are what I eat most days. it's not a bad life, really. I mean, I pay enough to ransom an Arabian princess, which allows me to sit shivering in an icebox classroom and learn about past and present participles (in spanish), direct and indirect objects and how to abbreviate them (in spanish again), and make long lists of things we like and don't like and write in our journals (in english this time...different class). what a life!
*Warning: beware the riptide rush of sarcasm cascading toward you*

But it's not all bad. I mentioned coffee already, I think. that's probably the biggest perk of college. before now, everybody was always on my case for drinking too much coffee. now that I'm in college, it's expected, accepted, and encouraged. whoa. doesn't get much better than that, as long as you know how to drink it correctly.

As most people know, college kids are on a tight schedule, running here and there doing this and that, and even though coffee is often the sole diet of some, if not drank properly you could be left with half a cup left...and no time to drink it! this occurs most often because said college student, in all his genius, decided to wait until it had cooled off before taking his first sip. this is a mistake of gigantic proportions.

So, since I have mastered the art (that's right, I said art) of proper (and quick!) coffee drinking, I will pass down, to you my reader, my pearls of wisdom so that you may never be left with coffee left over before it's time to run off to Calculus 3.

So. the proper name for correct and fast coffee drinking, is a little thing we like to call Sip-Sans-Singe. it's...well it's sipping without burning yourself. it goes like this:
1) Take cup of coffee in hand.
2) Blow on the surface of the coffee.
3) Quickly, before the coffee you just blew on has a chance to get hot again, take a sip into your mouth.
4) Coffee will still be hot, so tilt your head back slightly and open your mouth a little, pushing coffee into your cheeks like a chipmunk. (make sure to keep hot coffee away from tip of tongue, very important)
5) Wait until coffee cools enough to swallow.
6) Repeat process until coffee is gone or it is cool enough to drink like a regular human.

Sip-Sans-Singe takes a while to get it down, but just practice it and it'll eventually become like second nature. just don't forget to tilt your head backwards before you open your mouth...or else you'll have coffee dribbling down your chin, which is strictly against the Coffee Code of the Coffee gods. and if you anger the coffee gods, you'll be cursed with cold coffee for the next ten years, and it'll be flavored like pumpkins. eew.

Anyhow, that's all I've got to say about that. my coffee is gone, and my next class is beginning momentarily. so I'll be heading off now.
Until the next time I'm too bored to do anything else,


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Wait, where am I?

Recently, I was asked to name one thing at which I was an expert. now, claiming to be an expert at something is a pretty bold statement, so I wanted it to be accurate...something at which I really was an expert. I'm kind of an average person, and I couldn't really think of anything. and then it came to me. I am an expert, a real bonafied getting lost.

Really, I'm serious. I can get lost walking to the store, driving down 84th street or any number of places. I can get lost anywhere. it's almost like a sickness. I never know when I'm going to have an attack. it's gotten so bad that my mom won't send me downstairs to do the laundry without making sure I've got a compass, waterproof matches, a flare gun and a three day supply of food and water.

Another thing that has proven worthwhile to carry all the time, is an inflatable life vest. you gotta be prepared for those times you go outside to rake the leaves and suddenly find yourself in some sort of jungle, waste deep in swamp water, unsure of where you are or how you got there. trust me, in these instances, life vests are good to have on hand. (I thought about carrying around a machete to fend off those wild animals that I see so often when I get lost, but then I realized that when you get lost in a place like London, where guns, knifes and pointy things in general are strictly forbidden...waving a machete around is not such a great idea)

Now the thing about getting lost is that usually, given enough time, I can find my way home again. and lucky for me, I'm not a man so I have no problem asking for directions. but first there has to be a person to ask. and sometimes, depending on where I get lost, there are no people, buildings, streets or civilization of any kind. it's at times like this when have to rely only on courage, strength, instinct...and the ability to make lucky guesses.

Take the other day for example. I was on my way home from school, when I had a severe attack of Lost. I blame it on the fact that I was extremely tired and I had eaten nothing, save for three very large cups of coffee and was basically brain-dead. so I turn on the street that I was sure would take me home without incident, when suddenly I find myself headed toward my old town, Ceresco. so I try to get off that road, and find myself on a ramp, and then the interstate. that's when I first got the clue that I was having a Lost attack. I somehow manage to get off the interstate, and onto some other unfamiliar road. I drive for a while, looking for a familiar street and not finding one. a large coca cola company that I didnt know existed, two golf courses and a handful of farmhouses later, I decided to turn around.

Still not knowing how to get back, my only landmark being the speck on the horizon that I knew to be the the state capitol, I had to fall on my ability to make lucky guesses. I picked a car at random and followed it. not the greatest choice in the world, I know, but I was out of options. the car, which was a very pretty metallic-blue Chevy trailblazer, must've known I was lost and needed help. so he led me back past the coca cola company and the golf courses and the farmhouses and aaaaaall the way to O street, from which I had wandered far. he even went beyond the call of duty and led me to 70th street, just to be sure I would not lose my way again.

I guess chivalry isn't dead after all.