Sunday, December 29, 2013

may we remember who we are

A couple weeks ago, I played at the open mic where I've gone for...well gee, more than a year now.  I got to sing with my brother, which I was terribly excited about.  Grant came to the open mic for the first time nine months ago, and I've wanted to sing with him ever since, but he'd never made it back until this month.  It was such fun.

cuz my fam is precious.
I also sang another song on my own.  I heard it two days before the open mic and knew I wanted to sing it right away.  I learned it quite roughly (...very roughly) in a day and played it with the chords in front of me, and each time I've heard or played it since, it makes my face and heart scrunch up in a funny little way of understanding exactly what this song feels like.

I might be wrong, but it feels as if it wasn't really until this past year that music started being really personally meaningful to me.  It brings back memories and moves pieces of me and makes me feel things.  Anyway I find this song sweet and relatable and...hopeful.  It's amazing to me how someone else's words can so closely relay a lot of what I've been feeling over this past month in general.  And singing it a couple of weeks ago while feeling unsure about a number of things, it made me want to welcome December with tireless hope.  It's somehow comforting and this song has become close to my heart.

So...since the song basically says it all, I'll just leave it here.  This is "Snow" by Sleeping at Last.  Excuse my messy house and sketchy audio.

the branches have traded their leaves for white sleeves
all warm blooded creatures make ghosts as they breathe
scarves are wrapped tightly like gifts under trees
christmas lights tangle in knots annually

all families huddle closely, betting warmth against the cold

all the bruises seem to surface, like mud beneath the snow

so we sing carols softly, as sweet as we know

a prayer that our burdens will lift as we go
like young love still waiting under mistletoe
we'll welcome december with tireless hope

let our bells keep on ringing, making angels in the snow

may the melody disarm us when the cracks begin to show
like the petals in our pockets may we remember who we are
unconditionally cared for by those who share our broken hearts

the table is set and all glasses are full
though pieces go missing may we still feel whole
we'll build new traditions in place of the old
'cause life without revision will silence our souls

let the bells keep on ringing, making angels in the snow

may the melody surround us when the cracks begin to show
like the petals in our pockets may we remember who we are
unconditionally cared for by those who share our broken hearts

as gentle as feathers, the snow piles high

our world gets rewritten and retraced every time
like fresh plates and clean slates, our future is white
new year's resolutions will reset tonight

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas!  Mine was fairly uneventful but also very relaxing, and I can't wait to share more later.  Any fantastic plans for the New Year?

xo, Jenn

Monday, December 23, 2013

as long as you love me so

when we finally kiss good night
how I'll hate going out in the storm
but if you'll really hold me tight
all the way home I'll be warm

oh, the fire is slowly dying
and my dear, we're still goodbying
but as long as you love me so
let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Well, if we're being realistic, let it rain is a bit more accurate.  We've had weird December temperatures in the 60s that melted all hopes of a white Christmas, but honestly last Christmas was the first white one I can remember having, and somehow it doesn't surprise me.  Also--Christmas.  It's Christmas Eve Eve.  How did that happen?  Christmas gets weirder and weirder every year.  It sneaks up on you faster, it's riddled with strange hopes and regrets and memories, it's more practical than full of little kid wonder.

My sister's church has been doing an advent series on wonder, on seeing Jesus--not only during this season when we celebrate his coming, but always--as who he says he is, who he came to be for us--immanuel, king, redeemer.  I want to remember that, because it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of emotions and duties that accompany the end of December.  I've been trying to focus on being giving of myself, how much more so because of him who gave all for me.  And Ali in the Clerk's Office has been passing around her redemption cupcakes because she prayed so hard over making them, so there's always a reason to remember Jesus in the little things.

In other news, I've been soaking up every bit of break that I can in between working extra hours.  Soaking up break may or may not mean watching embarrassing amounts of netflix (I know. I'm ashamed. but I'm finally watching The Office in order so it's like really great and stuff).  I got to sing with my brother at the Christmas open mic and my cousin got married and I went to an ugly Christmas sweater party that no one told me was an ugly Christmas sweater party and I WAS SO SAD because of course I wasn't wearing one.

Four paragraphs in and I've realized that I have no idea how to write a Christmas post at this point.  Excuse me while I count down the hours until our Christmas Eve candlelight service.  Merry Christmas, friends.  Remember that God came near to you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

je me souviens

I drove one of my dear, dear friends back to her home this weekend (gee, I'll miss her during break), and on the two-hour long car ride in the dark alone coming home, instead of listening to the radio, I sang to myself, and talked to myself, and talked to God, and counted up a list of things that restore my hope in humanity.

+ seeing best friends, since-they-were-little-and-until-forever kind of best friends, going through life together and keeping that friendship. if you have a friend like that, don't ever let them go. even from the outside I can tell they're one in a million.

+ when traffic lights are out and all the drivers have to stop and take turns crossing the intersection without anything or anyone directing them. I drive away smiling every time.

+ finding someone who is just as lost as you are and deciding to be lost together so at least the time is in spent in good company. you can make friends in a matter of two minutes, you know that?

+ laughing with someone until you cry. and sometimes, crying until you laugh.

The way people treat people never ceases to floor me.  (This is accurate because a lot of my deep thoughts about humanity happen when I'm laying on the floor.)  I can't get over how lightly some people take relationships.  And not just relationships, like serial daters or people who would hook up in bars, but also friendships.  And not just friendships, like fair-weather friends or selfish people after their own agenda, but also interactions.  Every single human interaction.  The person taking your order, the person on the other end of the line for customer service, the person you make eye contact with on the sidewalk.  That's a human soul, and we are dismissive because "we'll never see them again."  Yet we have an impact on their lives.  We become a part of their past, forever.

And how much more so with people we are invested in, people we pour ourselves into?  Yet we tend to enter into even deep relationships with people so lightly, without stopping to think how sacred this connection to another person is, and how selfless that should make us, if we truly cared.  It's a heavy thing, almost, being trusted with another person's friendship, because it's being trusted with a piece of their soul.  And those connections, those relationships--they're the hardest thing, but also the most rewarding thing.  I suppose the key is looking at other people differently--as deeply human, inherently flawed, persistently growing, ultimately worthwhile, and as desperately in need of love as ourselves.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thanksgiving in NYC

Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house...actually, erm, it was two days before Thanksgiving, and I wasn't in the house because off I trotted to New York City.  Random?  Actually...yes.  Plans were made just the day before (all too typical for all my roadtrips, really), and I went with my friend Meander who was visiting a college up there.

Pause.  Her name is Meander.  We call her Mea for short, but her parents wanted her name to be a verb, so they called her Meander.  I know, I know.  I'm jealous too.  Anyway I was in Les Mis with Meander (she played a very dashing man) and when she asked me to go along, I jumped at the opportunity.  Mea is as much in love with theatre as I am, and we pretty much decided we would forgo food if it meant being able to see shows on Broadway.

Let us begin our adventures, shall we?

When we first arrived, it was drizzling just a tad, but we went to a kosher bake shop (yum) and explored a little and found pictures of Adam Levine, so it really wasn't so bad.

After dropping off our things where we were staying, we headed to Times Square.  Mea and I had looked up a couple shows we wanted to see and tried to find cheap tickets, and we needed dinner before we went.  New York style pizza, baby.  Times Square is under a bit of construction right now, so it's a little crazy.  But...brilliant.

So I've been wanting to see Cinderella on Broadway for...a long time.  It's a revival of the classic Rogers and Hammerstein musical, but with some fresh twists for a deeper and more interesting plot.  But the main reason that I wanted to see it was because of the two leads--Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana.  They are just...precious.  I want them to be in love in real life.  I follow along videos and photos of the cast (does this make me a theatre nerd yet?) and was so excited to finally get to see them live.  And we got to meet Laura (and other cast members) afterward!  For any of you who saw the Cinderella cast perform at the Thanksgiving Day Parade--yeah, that onstage costume transformation into her ball gown--it's mind-blowing in real life.

The next morning we got up bright and early to try to find a spot for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  It was a looovely morning, and a lovely surprise considering I was expecting to freeze. Yay sun.

I actually have a million and one photos from the parade, but, ya know, didn't have room to upload them all, so here's just a few.  Can I just say, Toothless is super adorable.  AND yeah well I kind of love the Pillsbury Doughboy.

After the parade we went to this cute little deli to get lunch.  And tea.  Okay so the majority of our trip revolved around tea.  Our first night there we went out at midnight in search of tea.  Good times.  Tea is wonderful.  Amen.

The sun was quite lovely and everything was gearing up for Christmas.  Mea and I slipped into a couple stores and shops just to browse.

Do you know how much it distresses me that I haven't more pictures of Chinatown?  I'm not-so-secretly obsessed with Chinatown.  Oh my word.  Thing of beauty.  Lots of street-side shops, and let's just say I'm becoming a pro at bartering.  I had a pretty rude run-in with a Chinese lady who ended up kicking us out of her shop, but I still got a scarf and five dollar pair of oxfords.  Yes please.

This was all Thanksgiving day, which was actually the most interesting Thanksgiving I've ever had.  It was weird to be away from my family and not have a big Thanksgiving meal and spend the day lounging around.  We had a Peruvian meal for dinner and I stayed up late on tumblr and watching The Office with Mea falling asleep on me.

The next morning began our last day in the city.  Mea and I set out to Union Square, which was close to where we were staying.  There was this adorable holiday market set up--gee I love those kind of things.  I am unfortunately too broke to have gotten anything, but all the hand-crafted things are just so lovely to look at.

We then headed off to Broadway/Times Square to grab tickets for the matinee we were going to see--Once the musical.  Sadly, someone told us incorrectly that there were student rush tickets up for grabs, and...there wasn't.  So we ran down the street to two other theatres and ended up getting the last two (standing room only) tickets to Kinky Boots!  I had heard of Kinky Boots, but didn't really know what it was about at all.  Mea had been wanting to see it, and it was quirky and funny and in the second act we found empty seats to sit down in.  Turns out it's about...making boots for drag queens (yep).  Still a fun show, though.  We got to meet some cast members afterward too, including Annaleigh Ashford (who has been in shows like Wicked and the original cast of Legally Blonde)!

We passed by the theatre where Les Mis opened in 1987.  Precious.

Times Square is bustling and lively in the sunlight (especially with all those Black Friday shoppers), but nothing beats Times Square at night.  It's really just...big and brilliant and full of life and this crazy kind of magic.  Mea and I walked around dueting "Hey There Delilah" more than once ("Times Square can't shine as bright as you, I swear it's true").

We headed back to Union Square again, got some coffee, lamented that we hadn't gotten tea, and spent a long amount of time in Strand, a bookstore called the home to 18 miles of books.  That place is a book-lovers heaven, aka, my heaven.  We browsed through classics, art, photography, poetry--yeah, I may or may not have bought myself some collected works of e.e. cummings.  (I his poetry. makes me feel things. ahhh so good, go read some.)  Also got a pretty legit Great Gatsby shirt which I've been wanting for a long time.  Gee bookstores are my favorite.

We also hopped on the subway and visited the Flatiron Building, which I didn't get to see last time I was in NYC but have been wanting to see for quite awhile.  I don't know, there's something very lovely and fascinating about it.

Annnd that was our last night in the city.  We visited Mea's family in Pennsylvania on the way back, and got our fair share of pie that we had missed out on during Thanksgiving.  Quite a successful trip, I'd say, and wow wow wow I just love getting to see shows, and I love having theatre friends, and heck, we even got to eat too (a very good thing).  Everyone go to NYC if you can.  If you need suggestions for a show to see--well, you know where you can find me.

ps--the giveaway is still open for another week! go enter now!