my journey with truth

Dear Beatrice,

Sorry I haven’t written in a very long time.  I’m just gonna tell things going on right now.  Well, Kelly and I are becoming closer day by day.  We got crosses for confirmation.  Now, to update you on guys.  I am completely and totally in love with Blake Cash and Brett Hairston!  Blake has eyelashes that make you go ooooo, lips that are perfect, and if he doesn’t have his popular attitude he is nice to me.  Brett is just like a dream!  He is hilarious and he is so incredibly cute.  He talked to me, and on last Sunday I went with Kelly to the baseball fields in Oak Hill for one of Brian’s games.  Brett was there.  He was in tight baseball pants and his Colorado Rockies shirt (that’s the team he’s on).  He had on sunglasses and his hat on backwards.  He was sitting about ten feet in front of Kelly and me. The only thing is I know that I could never have a chance of just coming into one of their minds as someone they like.  I’m too fat, ugly, bookish, unpopular, and just not someone anyone would want to go out with except for people like ______ ______ (not that I have anything against him).  I still like Peter.  Peter is probably my best friend.  Peter is Perfect.  I think that this summer I can lose some weight.  I really want to.  By the way, Rachel is officially going out with Ryan.  They started April 1.  Oh!  I got Molly in our musical at church.  I also like a guy named Charles Keenan.  But I’m not as serious about him.  My favorites have changed a bit.  Emma Thompson is still my favorite actress.  Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford are tied.  So are several of Garth Brooks’s hits with “Strawberry Wine.”  Book – All of the Tamora Pierce books.  Movie – Much Ado About Nothing is tied with Emma and The Devil’s Own and I kinda like The Saint.  Boy(s) – B.C., B.H., P.Y., C.K.  Yesterday night I had a band concert.  We played La Bomba, A Whole New World, and Stand By Me.  I guess I oughta work on HW.  I’ll might [sic] write to you tomorrow.

Later,
Lizzie : )

It’s really hard not to be really sad while I read this post.  And no, I’m not talking just about all the glaring grammatical errors.  I was 12 years old and talking about losing weight over the summer.  12 years old.  And believe me, I’d already started a healthy (unhealthy) habit of lying about my weight at this point.  I can remember one of my fifth grade classmates asking everyone how much they weighed.  I think everyone around me was between 80 and 100 pounds.  I was probably 120, so I coolly replied I was 105.  I thought that would be appropriately high enough to acknowledge that I was bigger than most sitting there without admitting to the horrific truth.  No one was fooled.

This past Friday I was in San Antonio for a physical related to candidacy/ordination for the UMC.  I weigh 174 lbs.  I hope that’s not horrifying for you.  It’s not horrifying for me.  Though I’m not going to pretend I don’t plan to lose some weight before the semester ends.  At least, I really want to.

(Let’s be real, there are some pretty funny moments in this post, too.  “Eyelashes that make you go ooooo.”  Hilarious.)

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Dear Beatrice,

I really like Ian.  He is so sweet.  Sunday night I slept over at Rachel Ramsey’s house.  We had Monday off from school.  Yesterday I had supper with my faith friend from confirmation, Roxanne Specht.  We went to the Canyon Cafe.  That’s the restaurant over in Westlake with the torches in front.  Feb. 21 was a cotillion night and afterwards I spent the night at Sarah’s house.  The next day we were playing Truth or Dare and Sarah dared me to call Ian.  So I did.  Later on I had to ask Ian out for Sarah.  He said he’d think about it.  After that I asked if he liked Sarah as a friend.  He said ya.  I asked him a little more than a friend – ya.  A little more than a friend and he said that he wanted to tell Sarah but not me.  Isn’t that sweet?  He knows that I like him and so he didn’t want to tell me that he liked Sarah.  That is just so sweet.  I like him even more now.  Sorry, I gotta go.

Talk to ya soon,
Lizzie

P.S. [‘Ian’ with a heart drawn around it and ‘me’ with another interlocking heart drawn around it with lips drawn underneath]

Oh, girl.  If only twelve-year-old-self could’ve STOPPED THAT BEHAVIOR right then and there.  Instead, thus began a long cultivation of reacting to a boy’s liking for someone else (whether or not he spared my feelings or even thought about what it might mean for me to receive his thoughts and intentions toward someone else day in and day out) with more liking for him.  Because, oh girl.  I can tell you that behavior didn’t work out for us.

Dear Beatrice,
Wuz [up arrow]?  I’m sorry that I haven’t written for a while.  Yesterday was another cotillion.  The theme was western.  I like Ian so much.  I’m really thankful for the song Garth Brooks sings called “Unanswered Prayers.”  It makes me think that my boyfriends and husband are so special that I have to wait for them.  Ian likes Sarah and Sarah rubs it in.  I just wish someone nice, sweet, sensitive, funny and cute as Ian seriously liked me.  Maybe it is okay not to have anyone like you.  Besides, all most guys I know are jerks.  I should feel lucky.  Last night I spent the night at Sarah’s house.  I stayed until about 5:30 today.  Mom & Dad don’t know but I called Ian and Sarah and I talked to him alot [sic] of the afternoon.  Rachel went to see “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” with friends yesterday night.  She’s going to babysit Cassady Spruill [Spruiell, actually] tonight.  The only change in my favorites is that my favorite songs are “These Arms” & “Unanswered Prayers.”

Lizzie  😦

Aside from the fact that I kind of threw up a little in my mouth when I read the first line about “Unanswered Prayers” and the sentence that follows it, I am drawn to the line

Maybe it is okay not to have anyone like you.

See, the lines after that are a clear, overt attempt to convince myself that it might be ok to not have anyone like me.  It’s all very ‘rawr boys are stupid rawr rawr.’  But I feel like that ‘maybe’ statement is an honest wondering of sorts.  Like for the first time in a while it seemed less than a stretch to think it might be okay not to have anyone like me.

Maybe it is okay not to have anyone like you.  Maybe it is okay not to have anyone like me.  Hmm.  Maybe.  Maybe it is o-kay.

You know, maybe it is okay not to have anyone like me.  I’ve had a history of yo-yo’ing with this.  For a while, I was on this free dating/social site, okcupid.com.  I saw it mostly as a way to widen the pool of possibilities while being able to sort of pre-screen people.  I mean, I go out (on the prowl) and I meet other people who are out (on the prowl).  But inevitably, 80% of the time the conversation goes

[him] So what do you do?
[me] I’m a grad student.
[him] Duke?
[me] Yep, what about you?
[him] Yeah, I’m insert-profession-or-area-of-study-that-the-world-takes-more-seriously-than-the-study-of-theology-and/or-pays-a-much-prettier-penny
[me] Cool, so do you…
[him] (interrupting) What do you study?
[me] (pauuuuuuuuuuse and internal reflection “Ughhhhhhhhhhh here goes)…………Theology.
[him] Theology.  What kind of degree do you get with that? (Read: Is that something people actually study?)
[me] I’m getting a Masters of Divinity, which is the practical degree as opposed to the type of theological degree which is more like prep for work in Academia.
[him] Oh.  So…um…what are you going to do with that?
[me] (smile and pauuuuuuuuuuuuse “goodbye”)…….Well.  I’m pursuing ordination as an elder in the United Methodist Church, so I’m studying to become a pastor.
[him] Wow, that’s… great (he says as he takes small steps away and points in an ambiguous direction at his “buddies” who were waiting for him) [OR] (insert some sort of statement about how he’s been meaning to go back to church and his brother-in-law chairs some sort of committee or other strange reference to churchiness) [OR] (the rare but brain-scarring instances when he actually says something about whether or not I’m allowed to kiss/getmarried/havesex/somethingelsethatmakesmethinkohmygoshpleasestoptalkingandletmewalkawaynow)

So yeah.  I saw okcupid as a chance to maybe get past some of that awkwardness and poll the field, so-to-speak.  I’d chat or exchange a few messages and then try to set up coffee or dinner or something.  And I never tolerated anyone who tried to stall the first meeting.  That, my friends, is a major red flag.  You know if he’s not willing to meet that he is either killing the neighborhood cats by night or working for the CIA, and I don’t need that drama either way.  The problem with this set-up was that I felt like I had to put way too much time and effort into something that’s ideally organic (out of probably 50 solid exchanges – not creeeper from the start ones – before I swore off the site, I went on dates with only 4 different guys partly because it seemed like the conversation went the same as in real life only even more frequently, like 99% of the time.  UGH.).

So when I go the organic route, I inevitably find myself pining away for a menu of boys who usually fit the 4 different roles of:
1. that boy who lives far far away and treats me like a bottomless pit into which he can pour his soul day after day yet also as second-string to some other girl who’s much more petite, is “unsure” of her interest for far-far-away-boy and always seems to be brunette somehow (which is just puzzling, not a commentary on blonde-brunette relations)
2. Dreamy McDreamerson who is not just the cutest boy in school or smart or witty or passionate about something incredibly endearing but ALL OF THE ABOVE and then some, including a little mysterious or something, and somehow the girl at school that all the boys like can’t even get him
3. The One with the Long-Distance Girlfriend Who also has Opposite Political Views but is a HUGE FLIRT.  Pretty self-explanatory and self-destructive when I get wound up in that one… and then there’s
4. The all-around, really great, 80% of everything is in common and the other 20% is still interesting, not-too-far out of my league, hours can be spent together, friend.  This is the one I fall the hardest for but usually avoid the most because it’s the one that hurts the worst since it seems so right but doesn’t work out somehow.  This is the one I wait a LOT longer to confide to girlfriends about.  This is the one where I end up acting like a middle school girl again.

Right now there is one of each of these types of boys in my life and occasionally (read: too frequently) on my mind.  And just like I had an “UGH! This is a total waste of time” moment with the online stuff when I felt like I was wasting way too much energy trying to make myself seem wantable to a wide audience of crappiness, I have these moments occasionally (read: too infrequently) when I think “UGH! This is a total waste of time” because, after all, I should have someone who feels like they’ve been hit over the head with a sledgehammer when they meet me (that’s a Gidget reference; fastforward to 4 minutes).

So see, if the only options are a guy that’s just not that into me (whether he’s a 1,2, 3, or 4), then maybe it is ok to not have anyone like me. It’s just not worth it to invest so much in someone who doesn’t think I’m amazing, who putzes around and makes me feel worse about myself than better.  Not to be trite, but being trite nonetheless, in the words of Carrie Bradshaw, “I’m looking for love.  Real love.  Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love” (though maybe a little less co-dependent…).  And if that’s not what boy #1, 2, 3, or 4 is offering, then maybe it is okay not to have anyone like me.

And just in case you’re wondering, I think Ian probably counted as a version of #1, the Far-far-away boy since he went to a different middle school and he liked Sarah, who kissed him but never really liked him back and happened to be a brunette.

So I was watching the Disney channel the other night (judge all you want, I’m not ashamed).  Sometimes I’m shocked in my adult-ness by childhood reminders to tell the truth.  They’re usually obvious, simple, funny and through these qualities become compelling.  I think the appreciation for this simplicity and humor only becomes more acute with age, and somehow what’s meant for a kid becomes more affective/effective as an adult.  No, I’m not thinking of that most famous of famous-yet-made-up stories about truth, George Washington, and a cherry tree.  I’m thinking of the classic Disney full-length animated feature released in November of 1992, Aladdin.

I remember vividly the first time I saw Aladdin.  My family went for my sister’s birthday – she had a few friends from school come along, and I got to sit with them, too, even though I was 4 years younger, a fact that usually makes all the difference in the world to a brand new 11-year-old carving out her identity with friends in a new place/school.  Just to be honest on a tangent with you real quick, I will always be grateful for my sister’s treatment of me in our childhood.  (Our teenage years were a little more strained, but we have moved away from arguing over hair-ties since then).  She had such faith and trust in me as my own person, allowing me to be a part of her world and not just a younger sibling who was not as old and therefore not good enough for her, her time, her friends.  She believed in me and cared for me.  She tried to teach me Algebra when I was in the 4th grade, partly because she was so excited as an 8th grader to grasp the  “if 2X+5=9  then X=2” concept and partly because she thought, though I was 4 years younger, that I could handle it.  I couldn’t and we both ended up tearing out some of our hair that night, but it sticks with me as a touching example of her confidence in me.

Anyway, Aladdin.  So, if you don’t know the plot, we probably can’t be friends.  But I’ll uber-recap in order to get on with things: street-rat Aladdin and Princess Jasmine meet in the market after she runs away, blah blah, they almost smooch because it’s clear they’re meant to be, blah blah, Jasmine is told that the boy in the market was punished with “DEATH… by beheading” (I guess Jafar – the bad guy – has to clarify the beheading part to make it super irreversible?), Aladdin finds the lamp, Genie says he can’t make anybody fall in love with anybody else so Aladdin wishes to become a prince (by law, the only class of people who can marry the princess), Jasmine asserts she is not some prize to be won (while prancing around in what my mom would definitely call a “titty top”) after this “Prince Ali Ababwa” (ohmygoshit’sactuallyAladdin) rolls into town to seek her hand in marriage.  Forlorn about his first impression as a prince in front of J., A. paces around outside the palace where he and Genie end up having a little heart-to-heart.  We now pick up with the official script:

ALADDIN:    What am I going to do?  Jasmine won't even let me
        talk to her.  I should have known I couldn't pull
        off this stupid prince wish.  (ABU struggles with
        his elephant paws to open a banana.  He squishes
        it, and the banana squirts into his eye.  He then
        tosses the banana peel into a heaping pile of the
        same.)
GENIE:  (to carpet, playing chess) So move!  (CARPET does,
        knocking a black piece off the board.)  Hey.
        That's a good move.  (As Rodney Dangerfield) I
        can't believe it--I'm losing to a rug.
ALADDIN:    Genie, I need help.
GENIE:  (as Jack Nicholson) All right, sparky, here's the
        deal.  You wanna court the little lady, you gotta
        be a straight shooter, do ya follow me?
ALADDIN:    What?
GENIE:  (Back to normal, wearing a mortarboard. He points
        out his words on a blackboard)  Tell her
        the...TRUTH!!!

To which Aladdin replies, “No Way!  If Jasmine found out I was really some crummy street rat, she’d laugh at me.”  Genie gives it one more shot, saying Aladdin really ought to be himself (echoed later in the form of a bee saying “Beeeee yourself.”  Remember, I said this kid truth stuff is humorous).  There are 2 ironies in all of this that were striking to me this billionth time around viewing the film.  Obvious, and yet acute in adulthood, Aladdin is so worried about what someone else might think of him that he completely changes his identity, to his great detriment.  The very thing he desires most is hampered by his life-lie.  All Jasmine wants is to find that boy from the marketplace, the one who was more extraordinary than any prince with 75 golden camels and purple peacocks (of which Ali Ababwa has 53).

And now for ironic realization #2: Aladdin is so worried about not being seen as some street-rat to be laughed at that he wastes a wish on becoming a prince despite having sung his self-assertion no more than 10 minutes into the film.  After being condescended to by a prince who calls him worthless, Aladdin walks away singing “Riffraff, street-rat/ I don’t buy that./ If only they’d look closer./ No siree, they’d find out/ there’s so much more to me.”  It’s true!  He’s clever, charitable, fair (keeping his promise to use his last wish to set the Genie free).  The movie even tries to clue us into this even more, since for Aladdin to have claimed the lamp from the Cave of Wonders in the first place he had to be “one whose worth lies far within, a diamond in the rough.”

I’ve seen this movie (seriously) at least 200 times.  It came out while I was still entranced by Disney’s films, I was a consistent babysitter through middle and high school, and as I’ve mentioned I currently watch the Disney channel.  This was the first time I have ever felt this sad for Aladdin.  As a kid I understood the tension of Jasmine thinking the market-boy was dead, yet there he is in front of her offering a magic carpet ride.  I could be frustrated, thinking “Come ON, Aladdin.  She’s SICK of princes, you dum-dum, and she thinks you’re dead.  Like Genie said, TELL HER THE TRUTH!”  But this was the first time I have ever felt this sad.  How had he gone from knowing there is so much more to him than anyone on the street can tell to denying his core identity in pursuit of love?  It was heartbreaking.  Gilding a diamond in the rough is nonsensical.  It becomes not just garish but grotesque.

There’s so much more to me than meets the eye, than what anyone can assume.  I have worth which lies far within.  ‘Bee’ yourself.  These are the truths which Disney once tried to help kids internalize.  As an adult, I think I’m starting to not only get some of the jokes that once went over my head, but to get the truth that once went over my head as well.

Today I cried and cried during church and after.  I cried during prayers, I cried during the Affirmation of Faith, I cried singing, I cried receiving communion, I cried in my car.

I was visiting Reconciliation UMC for a school project.

It was also my first time worshipping on a Sunday since coming back to school.  Yeah, I know.  I go to seminary.  There must be something wrong with me.  There have been a couple Sundays I tried and just… couldn’t.

I clapped (enthusiastically!) more than I probably ever have in a worship service.

Is it possible to feel embraced and lonely at the same time?

Dear Beatrice,
Sorry I haven’t written in a long time.  I need to update my favorites.  The only difference is that instead of Blake Cash being my favorite guy, Ian Witherspoon as my favorite guy.  He has longish (sort of) brown hair with the most beautiful blue
eyes I have ever seen.  He has braces and the best smile.  The only problem is he likes Sarah, I think.  He asked her to dance with him at the sock hop/cotillion.  Today I went bowling instead of P.E. and Connections.  This Sunday is Super Bowl XXXI.  Greenbay is playing the Patriots.  I guess that’s all I have to say for now.  I ❤ IAN WITHERSPOON!!!!

See Ya,
Lizzie

I ❤ I.W.

Oh right.  I think I remember Ian Witherspoon.  He was sort of medium-cute…

J/K!  I TOTALLY remember Ian Witherspoon.  Though I only really saw him at the monthly cotillion dances, I was pretty smitten by his blue (why underline that adjective?) eyes, and the fact that he was super nice, not that distant or impersonal, more-like-tolerant kind of nice.  Plus, I think I remember he laughed a lot at my jokes (and if you know me at all, you know how much laughing at my jokes can totally transform my esteem for a person).

And I think I liked the idea that if we ended up getting married, I could keep my initials.  I guess it’s ok we didn’t end up together since I’m probably keeping my name.  No need to keep Ian around to keep my initials.

Dear Beatrice,                                             Jan. 9, 1997
I’ve decided that not only do I like Blake Cash, but I kind of like Brett Hairston.  He’s medium cute, funny, average smarts, and popular.  He’s really nice to everyone.  I’m going to go watch a movie now.

Bye,
Lizzie

AHHHHHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAHAHAAAAAHAHAHA – “medium cute.”

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  • myjourneywithtruth: i had it in my office at my internship in Corpus Christi two summers ago. ellen davis is brilliant and glows with an aura of holy.
  • amy h: i love this quote. i think i may need it hanging on my wall where i'll see it daily. perhaps in front of the toilet? by the door? bedside table? i'll
  • chaz: That post made me really sad too. Mostly because I want to take young Lizzie by the shoulders and shake her (gently?) into sublime realization that sh

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