I Am (alive)

I was commenting on a friend’s blog this morning, and when it posted, the date was July 9th. Car accident day. For the last few years, the date has been unremarkable, and in Cambodia this morning, it’s actually July 10th. My brain and body went through the entire day yesterday with no physical or emotional hang ups.  But somehow when I saw the date in print this morning, I got a tiny bit stuck.

I never did my I AM on Sunday, so how about I do it today?

I Am (alive)

I Am a cup of instant coffee in 2013, and at the same time, a travel mug of some kind of cheap brew in 2004 on my way to work. I am ice chips in the ER, hand-fed soft foods by my mom for a week, ice cream in a motorized Wal-Mart shopping cart, and a month’s worth of home cooked meals, with a qdoba or two thrown in there.

I Am on Coliseum Blvd, headed toward the Boys & Girls Club on a happy, sunny Friday. I am recklessly propelled forward by something outside my control. I am underneath the giant wheel of a semi, one foot on earth, the other resigned to inevitable afterlife. I am laying flat as the wheel rolls over my car and I am wrapped around a tree when it’s over. I am in an ambulance, then in the hospital, then in Indy, then at Bec’s. Six weeks later I am back at work.

I Am they guy who saw it happen and thought I was dead. I am the first responder and the paramedics and the jaws of life cutting me out. I am the nurse handing me the phone with my mom on the other side. I am my best friend’s face as we both realized what could have been. I am her parents on the other side of the curtain, and my boss and coworkers waiting for me outside. I am the friend who hosted me on the ground-level for the amount of time it took to be able to climb the stairs to my own apartment. I am Michael Gray, mid-seizure, and I am the two kids in his backseat. I am my lawyer the day he told me Mr. Gray died. I am the Insurance agent who got fired for negligence, the Anthem agent who took cash from the settlement for medical bills, and the Nationwide agent who claimed the rest for reimbursement.

I Am “It’s okay” and “You’re okay” and “I thought you were dead” and “The defendant died.”  I am “You’re alive.”

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I Am (eating too much rice)

It’s Sunday again. How’d that happen?!

I Am two entire loaves of French bread every morning that are so tough on the outside I’ve thrown out my neck ripping a bite off, and so soft on the inside I want to throw out my lumpy pillow and remake it with French bread guts. I am crunchy peanut butter on top of the bread and half a teaspoon of instant Nescafe and boiled water every morning.

I Am on a rooftop looking over the entire city of Phnom Penh in the blazing heat, and standing underneath the best-feeling cold shower of my entire life in a tiny Kien Svay bathroom at least 3 times daily. I am allowing Cambodia to redefine the cold shower. I am walking off the last wooden step over a river onto a boat that will ferry me across to an island church, and I am singing Shout to the Lord in English from the third row while everyone around me sings it in Khmer. In that moment, that thin place, I am in heaven.

I Am cared for by the personification of the spiritual gift of hospitality: Monsoon. I am all feet-washed, pillow fluffed, clothes folded, three utensils in my cereal, shirt tucked, hair behind my ear, and today, physically lifted off my seat and onto her lap in the van to escape the sun shining inside the van window onto my skin. I am a tissue from her purse wiping the peanut butter off my face and fingers, and I am her hands all over my outfit trying to get the bread crumbs off. Wait. Grams? Is that you?

I Am (phonetic spelling) “Nyam bai? Nyam bai?” Eat rice? Eat rice? I am the following gestures from Cambodians weekly: swirly motion on my belly, baby rocking, question mark? I am shaking my head no. I am laughter while everyone around me pretends to shovel food into their mouths as they say, patting my belly, “Nyam bai! Nyam bai!” Eat rice! Eat rice! I am recalling an article I read that tells me to speak kindly to myself and shake this one off. I am rolling in laughter when, as our poor intern pukes, Jeff says in his best Cambodian accent, Throw up rice? Throw up rice?

So. WHO ARE YOU? Food, places, people, and words spoken into your life… Go!

I Am (married)

Anniversary Edition!

I Am, by marriage, second-generation thin crust pizza, spicy Italian sausage from a local butcher, whole milk mozzarella and pizza sauce that’s not to sweet, not too tangy, not to salty.  I am popcorn at 10pm with garlic salt and crushed black pepper, scrambled eggs most mornings, and breakfast in bed on my birthday. I am a cup of coffee snuck onto the bathroom counter while I’m in the shower. I am a late night mini DQ run accomplice.

I Am, by marriage, at the very top of a 14 thousand foot mountain. I am sitting at the UW Terrace with some kind of local brew in Madison, WI or at the New Glarus brewery with a $3 flight, or taking a lazy stroll on State Street after the Farmer’s market when the weather is warm and I’m in a sundress. I am in the upstairs bedroom on the left, waking up on holidays to rolling hills, Palamita Pond and a little farmet outside frosted windows in Beloit, Wisconsin. I am our very first Indiana Avenue facing one-bedroom apartment just a few steps from the Canal and White River State park by foot. I am sitting on a fixed and treated deck, sipping a summer Shandy by the Monon, with a yard just mowed, twinkle lights on, and a grill cooking fat-tire brats in Carmel, Indiana.

I Am, by marriage, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, aunt, niece, and cousin. I am Bucky the Badger and flip-flopper and Merlot Kathy and Indiana Ron/Wisconsin Ron depending on the score. I am Brookaliscious. I am a gold medal swimmer at an Olympic wedding! Most of the time, without even thinking before it slips out even at work, I am simply Babe, which is okay with me.

I Am, by marriage, always in style. The dress never makes me look fat, the hair always looks good, there is definitely a change in my arm muscles, and yes, I can have the last bite/piece/sip. I am good enough, cool enough, nice enough, honest enough, funny enough, pretty enough, smart enough and competent enough. I am known. I am forgiven. I am loved. I am “I will” and “I do” and “I now pronounce you man and wife!”

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PS: Some friends have started doing this exercise with me, and I’m so thrilled it’s catching on. Three friends means catching, right? I do these weekly on Sundays, except for today which is Monday,  If you like it, please respond with your own answers.  Wouldn’t that be fun? (Yes, Brooke, that would be SO fun.)

Thanks to my pals who have responded- I love knowing who you are!
So tell me, everyone else, who are you?

I Am (Father’s Day Edition!)

I Am my dad’s namesake. I am college-educated, a direct result of the Indiana State Police construction zones and Mike’s Car Wash—his 2nd and 3rd jobs when I was in college. I am a game of basketball in the driveway every evening that one summer between 7th and 8th after he got home from work so I could make the school team, and I am Pistol Pete, basketball between each step the entire length of the driveway.

I Am the opposite of rib-eye sandwiches from the State Fair and some kind of seafood soup that stinks up the whole house. I am not mayo and pickle and peanut butter all in the same sandwich. I am not the Super Delicious Chinese Buffet any chance I get. But I am a big Christmas eve breakfast, my dad’s BBQ ribs and burgers on the grill, and a poolside cooler full of snacks and wine. I am a Colts party black & stormy, a glass of apothic red or chilled white, always welcome for dinner.

I Am my dad’s backyard—both Pinesprings and Birdkey—chasing my nieces and ol’ Lily dog with bubbles. I am around his dinner table and lounging on his couch for Colts parties. I am a Belize vacation, cannonballs at Cahal Pech, a sea breeze and musical chairs at Captain Morgans, a Belikin at Old Belize, snorkeling and pool-floating, all on the house. By “the house” I mean, my dad. I am a summer evening Indianapolis Indian’s game and the mouse roller coaster at Old Indiana Fun Park.  I am moon-dancing with my dad the night before my wedding on a beach in Destin as he choreographed the next days “moves” including a section he referred to as “the hip-hop” J

I Am “Oh fooey!” And “Gee-miny cricket!” And “What a bozo!” And “You know what assuming does?” I am “10% in the bank and 10% to the church and the rest to spend.” I am “Hey-lo little girl! So what else is going on?”

Cannonballs at Cahal Pech
Cannonballs at Cahal Pech
Belikins at Old Belize
Belikins at Old Belize
Hot Dog at Indians Game
Hot Dog at Indians Game
Wedding Dance Rehearsing
Wedding Dance Rehearsing
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Wedding Dance Rehearsing

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So. Who are you?

I Am Pineapple Retainers

I Am peanut sauce and chicken satay, a thousand spring rolls, curry, and 50-cent Angkor beer through a straw. I am cold, iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk, mango smoothies and fresh pineapple slices turned into pretend retainers for the cheap laugh. Which reminds me: I am brownie-on-tooth girl to at least a dozen college friends.

I Am all up in the equator and 100 degrees hot (wink!). I am the Indochina time zone, but my internal clock is somewhere in Europe. I am a genocide memorial when I thought my heart could not hold any more genocide, but then it opened a little wider. I am cross-legged on a bamboo train platform reeling through a Cambodian countryside under an overcast sunset, wind and bugs in my face, the biggest bottle of cold water in my lap.

I Am a 9-year-old girl’s little hand squeezed into mine as we tour her village brick factory. I am that little girl’s grandmother’s $3 scarf and a little baby’s toothless smile. I am step-sis to a birthday girl, and while I’m at it, step-sis to FOUR of the best step-sibs ever made (holla!). I am Michael Jackson, Enya & Celine Dion who provided the backdrop to three out four meals with us at the Kiwi Bakery.

I Am “Mind your head!” and “Can I have a dollar?” and “You must tip the driver!” I am “You want tuk-tuk?”, YOLOP (You only live once in Phnom Penh), “Never settle for less than butterflies” and “The Blackberry did it.”

WHO ARE YOU? Food, places, people, and words spoken into your life… Go!

I Am (a day late)

Context for this: here

I Am half-caf and half hazelnut, actual limeade with visible pulp, orange juice scooped out of a bucket from the juice guy on the street in San Ignacio. I am two soft boiled eggs smashed onto a baguette or ciabatta roll with a slice of cheddar. I am brunch.

I Am the magazine section at Barnes & Nobles with an iced mocha and a BFF. I am the second floor deck of a lake house doing my own version of Insanity called I-can-ity with my earphones and solitude. I am a tiny room in Central America with slat windows, iguanas and the most hilarious Belizean family.

I Am one-eighth of the World Next Door summer team. I am a woman: one tiny part of the sisterhood of oppressed women all over the world but holding a rare lottery ticket to education, independence, relative equality, and material wealth. I am heartbroken for my worldwide sisters and will do my very best to use the winnings of this lottery to make life better for all of us.

I Am God’s Plan A for the restoration of this world. Who are you this week?

I Am: Coffee, Target, Aunt and Abundance

Context for this: here

This week:

I am a chocolate croissant early in the morning and coffee-flavored Belgian chocolate late at night. I am stove top brewed single-cup decaf espresso poured over creamy vanilla ice cream. I am summer shandy and creme ale after work. I am grilled chicken stuffed with Havarti cheese and hot, crispy falafel covered in cucumber sauce when it’s chilly.

I am the Target dollar spot, the Old Navy clearance rack, the REI 20% off sale. I am Amazon.com. I am the Emergency Department: chair ducking, grief holding, support offering, bus pass distributing, safe house finding, adoption facilitating, report filing, family calling. I am these things from a 10×10 foot social work office.

I am Aunt Brookie to three little girls, and Little B to the best aunts.  Combined, we are wise and silly, baked cookies and explorations through the Monon “forest”, nicknames and knock-knock jokes, princess puzzles, swim dates and bike dates. I am early morning blanket wrapper, scooped from the pack-and-play, nuzzled with a million kisses, footie pajamas, cinnamon rolls and dinosaur-shaped banana pancakes.

I am still Be safe and Be smart and You’re gonna bring home an orphan. I am God doesn’t just provide adequately, He provides abundantly. I am Nothing good happens after midnight. I am Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Please tell me: Who are you this week? Food, places, people, and words spoken into your life…

I Am: Food, Places, People, Words

I went on a little Scribes retreat today. Scribes is a) My writing group and b) My pals.

At first I thought it might be writing boot camp, because we had to leave at 6:30am and they told me to bring hiking shoes. But then we stopped at Panera for giant coffees and then we drove 2 hours to Denise and Jackie’s adorable micro-homes in Freedom Forest, where a little breakfast was waiting for us, and then we had a nice walk around a lake, and then we ate loads of chocolate cake. Oh yes, also we did some writing and reading with a good amount of laughing and a tear or two. So, you know. Not boot camp at all.

We did a writing exercise called I Am.  These are 4 categories in which we complete the sentence I am… to describe ourselves. The categories are food, places, people, and words spoken into our lives. I plan to complete this exercise every Sunday as a kind of check-in, because things are always changing, yes? If you like it, please respond with your own answers.  (Wouldn’t that be fun?) (Yes, Brooke, that would be SO fun.)

I am butter cream frosted, molten chocolate, squishy and undercooked, a smidge larger than a normal slice, a brownie-toothed smile with sprinkles on top. And then I am seconds.

I am a bright raincoat, fleece-lined snow boots, dry-touch bug spray, mosquito net, 5-way-wearing-multi-scarf. I am roll-up and adaptable, about 10-pounds too heavy, with a preference for hot, a reverence for the mountain, and at ease with the uneasy. I am, in my heart, lying on a beach somewhere holding a pina colada.

I am my mom’s hair and my dad’s freckles. I am always chasing the brother train because no one thinks about inviting the sister. I am the glue, the caretaker, the organizer, and the bridge from one family member to the next. I am a selfish wife on Tuesdays and a fantastic wife on Fridays to a husband who’s yet to have an off day. I am the beholder of generous friends.

I am blessed abundantly, addicted to bags, creative, freakishly prolific. I am wear your sunscreen and 10% in savings, 10% to the church and no natural talent, but worked real hard. I am be safe and be smart and you’re gonna bring home an orphan.

Please tell me: Who are you?
*Don’t forget the categories: Food, Places, People, Words spoken into your life.