Tuesday, November 27, 2007

And We're Back...

I don't know about you, but personally I cannot believe Christmas is less than a month away. Somehow it's easier for me to get in the holiday spirit in July when I'm wishing desperately Christmas were just around the corner, than the end of November when it actually is. Hopefully your Thanksgiving was as good as mine (even though I know not everyone can go to a farmhouse in the Nothern California coastal countryside and eat a gourmet spread not only for the feast itself, but breakfast, lunch, and dinner the days before and after), and your waistline is on the road to a full recovery after being stretched in entirely new ways by magnificent food. I planned on staying home for a few days into this week before heading back to LA, but a callback and audition brought me back Monday-- and it's a good thing, too, because I had two more auditions today! When it rains it pours... Or something.

So here I am, back in LA with my cup of tea, burning the final remnants of my pumpkin pie candle and waiting for the advil I took for my sinus headache to kick in (oh and for the record, I really hate zinc lozenges-- if anyone knows a reliable alternative for fending off sickness, I'm all ears). I went for a long walk this morning before audition #1, and it felt so good, yet odd at the same time, to feel productive. I feel sort of like a machine-- a one-woman robot of efficiency, tackling errands and tasks in multitudinous bounds.

I think I'm learning how to maintain and trust my relationship with my Father, while getting a lot done physically... It's been difficult because I feel so numb and I keep thinking I must be doing something wrong, and searching my heart for anything I've missed-- and maybe I have. But it seems to always come back to the fact that a relationship isn't about doing, it's about being. And sometimes it's not about feeling, it's about knowing.

Last week I was nearly drunk in-love. My heart seemed to overflow in peace and joy every time I thought of Him... But now there's so much to do, and hours spent reading and writing and singing and praying aren't happening. And is that okay? I think it is... Because in order for the treasures reaped in those times to be worth anything on earth, they have to be showcased in the marketplace. So today and yesterday have been days at the market.

Anyway, I probably better go eat or tweeze my eyebrows or do something benign to release my brain before audition #2 tonight. That's the one class I think many colleges should really include in the General Education roster-- Dumbing Down Intelligently for the Interview 101. That has a nice ring to it, no? See you on the other side.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I really like baking cookies.

I mean, I really like baking almost anything, but recently I seem to have developed quite an affinity for crafting and creating three-inch discs of dough and sweet morsels. I love knowing exactly how the butter should feel when I squeeze it gently within its wax paper wrapping to see if it's soft enough for creaming. I love the soft whir of sugar crystals scraping against the metal bowl as the intoxicating aroma of butter, sugar, and vanilla wafts up from within my big pink mixer. I love standing with my hips leaning against the counter, dozens of little bags filled with sweet morsels of all kinds jumbled in the cupboard above my head as I judiciously siphon out little amounts of whatever ingredient strikes my fancy. Coconut, toffee, oats, bittersweet chocolate chips, dried cranberries... All fodder for my gastronomic imagination.

I love laying out my baking sheets and slowly, repetitively, methodically dropping equal amounts of the sweet and salty dough into little 3 x 4 charts before placing them within the confines of my baby oven. I love knowing how the cookies are done, not by a loud beep that echoes through my kitchen when the timer sounds, but by the smell that hits my nose just as the outer edges begin to golden. When they emerge after their bath of dry heat, the transformation never ceases to be magical. They've arrived!

I love the steady rhythm of transferring cooling morsels from the sheet still hot from the oven to the cooling racks set on the windowsill. Cookie sheet, window sill, cookie sheet, window sill, cookie sheet, window sill... Back and forth and back again. When finally all the newly formed confections are resting on their wiry bed, I love sitting in my living room and seeing the rows and rows of them out of the corner of my eye as I watch TV or clean or check my e-mail. I have accomplished something good. And sweet.

My best friend says baking encompasses both sides of my personality-- my need for both control and creativity. Baking isn't like cooking where you can just throw a bunch of everything in all flim flam and it'll generally come out all right; there are rules, guidelines, science and chemistry laws that must be obeyed in order for a cookie to be a cookie and not a cake or a cracker or a loaf of bread. But within these laws, a whole palatte of flavors and textures can be chosen and used at will. Sure I have to include butter and sugar and eggs and vanilla and flour and baking soda and baking powder and salt... But what if I feel like throwing in dried cranberries instead of raisins for my oatmeal cookies? And what if I think white chocolate chips would make a lovely addition? And you know, after tasting, I think a little cinnamon might be nice? With just a shake or two of pumpkin pie spice to round it out perfectly... I can do all that and more because these are my cookies, and after covering all the ground rules and checking all the required boxes, it's time to play!

Last night I made cookies at midnight. Because I wanted to. And because I love it!

But now my problem becomes... What to do with three dozen cookies?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Birthday Girl

Today is my birthday.

I woke to chocolates at my door and danced to Frank Sinatra as I curled my hair. Lunch with friends meant belly laughs over the table and footsies underneath it. Tonight remains shrouded in mystery... I hope for joy. (And a cupcake with a candle in it!)

Another year to conquer... Let's go.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Fighting Back

I watched Cinderella Man last night. It seems every time I watch that movie I fall more and more in love with it (and Russell Crowe's Jim Braddock-- but that's another story!), and my heart is moved in a deeper, newer way by the truth its myth reveals. As I lay on the sofa last night, I felt my sick, watery eyes (the result of some mystery illness my body has been fighting off for the past few days) fill with hot tears over and over again as Jim Braddock, along with his wife and family, battled for their fairy tale.

Before I started the movie, being the film/acting nerd I am, I watched a portion of the casting featurette in the Special Features section of the DVD. Ron Howard, the director of the movie, talked in the beginning about their short search for an actor to play Jim Braddock, and how it was quickly decided that Crowe would be perfect for the part. Howard then went on to talk about the intricacies of Braddock's story, and how, dubbed the "Cinderella Man" by a reporter, he "was living out a kind of a fairy tale, but it's not that sort of sugar-coated fairy tale, it's more of a Grimm's fairy tale... It's tough to be inside that fairy tale." I was so struck by how true that is. How often do we look at success stories and great victories, and see only the glowing good? When in reality, fairy tales and great successes are often overwhelmingly made up of fierce battles, treacherous journeys, and long, soul-aching times in life's waiting room.

At one point late in the movie, when the hot tears blearing my vision nearly overflowed, Jim is talking to his wife Mae about why he wants and needs to fight. After listening to her pleas against his plans to get back in the ring and box again, Jim looks her in the eye and tries to make her understand his heart. "[In the ring,] at least I know who's hittin' me." Man. How rough it is to feel like you're taking blows with a bag over your head. And how much of life is like that? Spending all this time getting beat up and tossed around without even knowing why or who is hitting you?

I just finished a book called Waking the Dead by John Eldredge, and it has permanently changed my life, spiritually, emotionally, habitually, etc. (Not that that's unusual for any of his books for me...) In it, Eldredge talks about the desperate need in our world for spiritual warfare, and how we as a culture, race, and people have allowed ourselves to be lulled into complacency and surrender, thinking the very war that is beating us down day in and day out isn't happening. My eyes were opened to the millions of fights and battles and sieges that take place every day, and span weeks, months, and years of my life and eternity. It was like my heart woke up and I started realizing that all those terrible things I believed about myself and the world aren't true... They're lies that I've bought into, and I don't have to agree with any more. I realized that terrible things happen in my life because there is an enemy creating and crafting ways to hurt, sabotage, kill, steal, and destroy me every moment. Jesus told us that the enemy "prowls" like "a roaring lion" whose sole purpose is to bring us down-- so why have I been so shocked and surprised when he's actually tried and been successful at doing that? And why haven't I put up more of a fight?

I've never really known what it's like to war for something in my soul before. In the Old Testament in the Bible, God allowed war to come to the Israelites because the new generation had never had to fight for the promise-- and they needed to if they were going to be strong enough to keep the promised land once they made it there. War is here whether we like it or not, and there is a choice: ignore and deny and lay huddled on the ground, taking the blows that will come regardless with a bag over our head, or we can train ourselves for war, look at the enemy who's been hitting us all along, and start to fight back for the good that's ours to claim.

I, for one, choose the latter.

Friday, November 2, 2007


I'm sorry it's been so long-- here we are in a new month already! I spent the last week and a half of October in Hawaii, and let me tell you... There are few places I would have rather been. I found myself in the paradise my mother loved, and it felt good. Below are some pictures of my respite on the garden isle to give you just a taste of my time there (click on the pictures to see them full-size). So lean back, fix yourself a mai-tai, and enjoy!

Beach baby.

Kombucha by the sea. (Catherine, this one's for you!)


This boat reminds me of a Ralph Lauren ad. Don't ask me why.


Like cool bath water.

Tree tunnel.

Daddy and daughter.

Kauai chocolates. Praise God.

Driving by a palm tree field.

Daddy waits for lunch.

I do the same.

Vegetarians, look away. God bless chili burgers.

For those of you whose respect for me has been hanging by a thread... I'm sorry. (And for the record, yes, that is chili on my face.)


Daddy does dessert.