May 2011


A while back, Jake and I decided we should have periodic family field trips or adventures to nearby sites of interest. Apparently being poor and jobless can cause strain so we thought it would be good for all of us to get out and have fun together. In highly uncharacteristic fashion, I asked to be in charge of the first one.

A few weeks earlier, I had embarked on a sleuthing mission. There used to be a pizza place in Bedford called That Chicago Place (side note: it is nigh impossible to Google a name like that without quotation marks. You will get nowhere) where we used to go when we were dating. The guy who owned it was actually from Chicago and made a truly wonderful deep dish, the kind of deep dish that makes you feel stuffed (ha! no pun intended) after a slice or two. Shortly before we got married, he closed and then reopened in Grapevine. At first we thought it would be a good move for business as the new location was in Grapevine Mills, but deep dish takes about 30 minutes to cook so it’s not a good fit for a concession stand at a hockey rink (or even just a regular food court). Anyway he closed again and that’s the last we heard of it. Occasionally in France one of us would get a hankering for deep dish pizza and bemoan the demise of our pizza place, although I will not lie – it was slightly easier to bear knowing we couldn’t have it even if we were back in Texas.

So, the sleuthing. It took a bit of work but I tracked it from Grapevine to a new location in Addison, which also closed, and finally to a location in Mesquite (practically down the street from my grandparents!) under the name Chicago’s Original. They still had a website so chances were good they were still in business. I told Jake I had a surprise for him, knowing that he wouldn’t tolerate the suspense and eager to share my find with him, but in highly uncharacteristic fashion he said he didn’t want to know, he would wait for the surprise. ARRRR!! The nearest excuse for eating out was Father’s Day, which at the time was well over a month away. Then Jake announced a different place he would like to eat for Father’s Day, so when he came up with the idea of Family Adventure Day I jumped on it and claimed the first.

I called to make sure they were still open and we headed out. When we were a little over halfway there, Jake joked about us going to my grandparents’…I just shrugged and kept driving. As we approached he said, “Hey! There’s a Chicago pizza place” and I informed him that was where we were going. He asked how I found it and I FINALLY had the very great joy of informing him that I found That Chicago Place! And the villagers rejoiced.

we're starting the little guy off young.

Look how thick the crust is!!

So, we splurged and each got a pizza, which kept us very happily fed for 4 days. (And yes, we did visit my grandparents afterward.) This marks the second time in a year – and actually maybe just the second time overall – that I have managed to surprise Jake which, in addition to the actual pizza, means Family Adventure Day was a raging success.

Religion: I believe Jesus. That pretty much sums it up.

Politics: Small government, because people should take care of people.* Big business is nearly as bad as big government…also, because people are important. Character is important. Family is important. Creation is important. If God created it (people/values/beauty/earth), conserve it – be a good steward, take care of it, nurture it – because it’s the right thing to do. Capitalism is great but consumerism is a moral problem. Vote on a ballot but also in the way you live your life and the choices you make.**

*I do FERVENTLY believe that, but am on WIC and my son is on CHIP. These beliefs don’t work as well when they’re not more mainstream. Which means this joins the list of areas in which what I do doesn’t really match what I believe.

**If I had to label myself, it would be Crunchy Conservative. You can read all about crunchy cons here.

So there’s this blog I read sometimes, called The Very Worst Missionary. It’s quite entertaining.

I’ve read this post several times and crack up every. single. time (maybe because it’s a bit uncomfortably close to real life for me?) so I thought I’d share.

We got back from France 6 months ago. And pretty much nothing about the past 6 months has gone down the way I expected. A lot of it has been pretty crappy and some of it has been awesome. One of the hugely crappy parts has been friendships.

See, when you leave for 2 years, it alters your friendships. It has to. If you are going to maintain relationships while abroad, you have a lot of tools to do so – email, Skype, Facebook – but none of those is the same as meeting someone at Panera and just…talking. There is just something about that physical presence that is important. Out of the 5 girls I would consider my best friends here, I missed 3 first pregnancies/children, a wedding, and a really hard time in life. And they missed a hard time in my life and also my first pregnancy/child. Those are things you can’t ever get back.

I was really looking forward to re-joining our small group at church. They were really supportive of us while we were overseas, even the ones who joined in our absence. This will be a great place to just recuperate, I thought to myself. The only problem is, our small group dissolved shortly after our return. Plus people are busy, which makes it really hard to do that great face-to-face thing at Panera. And now that we’re back in the States, the emails and Skyping have slowed…which leaves us basically community-less. And un-recuperated.

Could we join a new small group? Sure…in theory. Even if we find one that fits our schedule, which is the schedule of our child – who is ready for bed by 7pm – that would entail MEETING NEW PEOPLE. Which is not one of my strong suits when I’m at my best. I just don’t do small talk/getting-to-know-you stuff well in general, and I definitely don’t do it well right now. It is just awkward. Getting-to-know-you questions would necessarily bring up our recent stint in France, which I frankly do not want to talk about. There were some really beautiful things about our time there, but a lot of it was awful and it is really difficult to skirt around that. Not because I think it’s something to hide, but because you don’t drag out all your crap for the getting-to-know-you part.

Then, after the France thing gets out in the open, suddenly everything changes. I have lived in an exotic place, so I must be interesting! Um…no and no. Southern France IS exotic…Marseille is not. (We have some friends – from our now defunct small group – who just moved to Thailand, I think, and the video they sent of their neighborhood seriously looks just like ours in Marseille.) And I am not that interesting. I am just a normal, mildly boring person who usually loves Jesus. I am not good at telling stories or jokes or other really any sort of entertaining thing. Also people suddenly expect me to be super-spiritual. I just cannot live up to that right now. Like I said, I usually love Jesus…Or, people seem to think they have to be super-spiritual around me. You don’t have to pray if it’s unnatural to you, just because I’m there. I am totally fine with eating unblessed food. In fact, when I eat alone I don’t pray at all.

So, it’s basically just easier to stay home. But I know I need community, even if I don’t feel like it and even if I don’t want it.

Even if it sucks.