An Unexpected Question


A few weeks ago, Jordan and I were making dinner plans. I had heard about this recipe from a few friends who claimed it was easy, fairly cheap, and delectable. So we decided to give it a try. Pork loin? Check. Carrots? Check. Parsnips? I'd never eaten or bought one before, but check. Asparagus? Not called for in the recipe but sooooo delicious. Check.

All these veggies and seasonings were fine with me. I am not a picky eater. I grew up with parents who forced us to eat whatever they cooked no matter what. If we didn't like it, tough luck. To a young child, this was an extreme form of torture, but now I very much appreciate not being one of those people. You know--those people with all the special requests.

Jordan, however, was a picky eater. I say was because, through no insistence of mine (I promise), he has tried and liked more foods in the past nine months than he ever planned on. So I don't really consider him picky anymore.

A few examples: Lettuce (on tacos and as a salad). Raw carrots. Bananas. Strawberries. Cantaloupe. Sour cream. Green peppers. Grilled onions. Italian dressing. Just to name a few.

Which brings me to the delicious dinner, where we added parsnips and asparagus to his list of never-before-tasted-but-very-much-enjoyed foods. We chopped and seasoned and roasted and grilled...and man, was it good. But that's besides the point.

The next day, we drove to Hobby Lobby to pick up some yarn for my next project. I was, as usual, riding in the passenger seat of my Oklahoma boy's Dodge Ram. He was, as usual, looking oh so cute in a T-shirt, cargo shorts, and aviators. We were sitting quietly in the cab, listening to a slow country song. I looked to my left and smiled at him. He grabbed my hand, and the sharp crease of his smile pushed his right dimple out. Good lord that boy has a mighty fine smile.

Then he said, ever so softly with his heart-fluttering accent, "Hey, can I ask ya a question?"

Yes, of course. Anything.

"Sure," I said.

This is going to be so good,
I thought. He's going to ask me something cute about what date I want him to take me on next or tell me how much he likes me.

"Well," he continued, "I just have to know. When is my pee ever going to stop smelling like asparagus?"

That was the moment I finally realized how different boys and girls are.

I mean, obviously I knew this (I have two brothers after all), but somewhere deep inside I still held out hope that this boy was more mature, more cultured, more sensitive than to ever ask me, his girlfriend of all people, to tell him when his pee was going to stop smelling like asparagus. But my hopes were dashed to the ground at the mention of that (apparently) smelly vegetable.

"Gross!" I pulled my hand away and glared at him. "Why on earth would you think to ask me that question? I thought you were going to say something cute."

"Haha." He was laughing? The jerk was enjoying this. "I thought you might be thinking that. But, seriously, my pee smells! I'm not eating asparagus anymore."

"But it tasted good, right? I mean, you said you liked it!" I couldn't believe he has just given me such a lame excuse.

"Well...yeah! But I didn't know it was going to smell."

So that's it, then, I thought. At least I know what sort of crazy I'm dealing with. It's hard enough to get him to try new foods. Now he has another sense to worry about besides taste.

Lesson Learned: When dealing with boys, always be prepared for an unexpected question.

Road Trip Snapshot


Two weeks ago my older younger brother graduated from college--Moody Bible Institute in the heart of downtown Chicago. Being that the five of us (excluding my brother) now live in the southern region of the country, this event could only mean one thing: road trip!

A lot of people wince when they hear that word and wonder what sort of fool would ever want to drive sixteen hours in a car with five other people.

Well, that fool would be me.

Over the years, my family has taken no less than eight and a half million road trips. Okay, that might have been a slight exaggeration. But we've taken a lot, so we're all pretty familiar with the routine--the seating arrangements, the snack situation, the radio listening, the Uno playing, and the smell of my dad's and sister's farts. I wish I was kidding.

Yet still, there are surprises.

I remember once, I couldn't have been older than eight, when we were headed to Florida. This was back in the days when my parents would wake us (my brother and I) up when it was still dark and carry us to the car, where the backseat was folded down, and lay us on a pile of blankets. It was the best. I got carried to the car. Looking back, I know I didn't fully appreciate what I had. I remember feeling so warm and safe... until I caught sight of movement in the darkness. It was some sort of creature, and although my tired eyes weren't fully able to focus, I did see a flash of black-and-white strip between blinks.

My dad, being the manly man he is, immediately took charge of the situation and proceeded to back slowly away from the car. The last thing we needed was rotten skunk smell in our fully loaded station wagon. It was intense for a good couple of minutes, but to make a long story short, I'll just say that after some shooing and brilliant diversion tactics that I'm sure took place but don't fully remember, we made it in the car and off without an unfortunate incident at the hands of a scared, striped animal. But there have been times we haven't gotten so lucky. And let me tell you, there have been a lot of close calls.

Assuming I was eight when the skunk made its first and (thankfully) last appearance, it's been almost sixteen years worth of road trips since, and at twenty-three years old, I don't know how to feel about the fact that I still have to be told to "hold it" for almost two hours while my dad "forgets" to take thirteen exits in a row.

I'm not stupid, Dad. I know you just don't want to stop. But there's an empty pretzel bag back here. Don't think I won't, cuz I will.
(Don't worry, I really wouldn't.)

There have been other disasters too besides just the liquid kind. A flat tire halfway to New York. A broken transmission the night before leaving for Colorado. A horrible traffic jam on the way to Texas. And (gasp!) the worst of the worst: no Starbucks in the boonies of Tennessee.

The atmosphere inside the car isn't perfect either, and we have our fair share of arguments. Despite what it may sound like, my family doesn't always get along. I can't tell you how many times we've complained about my dad's crazy driving, only to have him remind us that he's never "technically" gotten pulled over.

But through all the car sickness, cramped legs, and stinky feet, I really wouldn't trade a family road trip for six first-class seats (unless maybe we were headed to Hawaii or Europe or something). We'd get there in a third of the time--and maybe with a third of the annoying "Are we there yet?" questions. But we would make eight and a half million times less memories.

My brothers in the middle seat...sleeping in a rather awkward position. My sister and I are folded into the back because those whiny boys claim their legs won't fit.

Our view of the Chicago skyline as we drove into the city. (The Sears Tower is the tall one in the middle.)

Chili's, a Cute Boy, and Love


I used to think about love and about being in love. I would wonder what it was like and whether or not I really would have a "glow" and skip around smiling like an idiot. I got annoyed with people who, when asked the question, "How will I know if I love someone?" responded with some variance of, "You just know."

How obnoxious.

What if I'm Just. That. Stupid. to not know it when I feel it? What am I supposed to do then? Of course, then said obnoxious person would respond with, "Well, then, I guess you've never felt it. Don't worry. When you feel it, you'll know."

What a repetitive jerk.

Then nine months and fifteen days ago I went on a date with this boy. I was nervous. But it's not like I'd never been to Chili's before. Heck, I've pretty much ordered every single thing on the menu. And it's not even like I'd never been on a date before. (Both times were great, by the way.) But this, I really liked him.

He was the sort of boy I would avoid in the checkout line at American Eagle. You see, when I go into a store or, for that matter, anywhere, I avoid the cutest boys. They intimidate me and make my perpetually flushed face turn a deeper shade of red. Trust me, it's not attractive.
Here's what happens:

Enter store.
Find something to buy.
Scope out the cashiers #1: Eh, sorta cute. #2: Cute. #3: Not cute. #4: Holy crap, he's cute.
Avoid cashier #4 like the plague.
Darn it, #1 and 3 are busy.
Okay. (Deep breath) #2 it is.

I scope out girls too. Pretty girls intimidate me, but my face doesn't really get red. So I guess that's a positive.

Anyway, back to this boy and Chili's and my red face. We'd met in January 2009 at church. I had finally found a church home, and he was in my Sunday school class. I noticed him almost immediately because, like I said, I scope out so I know who to avoid. So suffice it to say, we didn't technically have any social interaction more than a few words for a good six months. Secretly, however, I was telling all my friends about this cute boy at church who would never ask me out in a million years but whom I would say yes to in less time than it took to ask. I know how it sounds, but I promise I'm not a stalker.

So it's, maybe, July by the time we actually had anything close to what a normal person would consider a conversation. And it all went down on the tennis court. He hopped out of his green Explorer sporting aviators, a red sweat band, dirty tennis shoes that looked ten years old, and swinging a $15 tennis racket he'd most likely picked up at Walmart. Wait. He wasn't cashier #4...was he? Crap. Here comes the red face.

Luckily, the lovely Oklahoma wind was at its best, so that, coupled with the July humidity, meant my hair looked oh so cute and bouncy. (And by cute I mean horribly ugly and by bouncy I mean crazy witch hair.) At least I had a valid excuse to wear a short skirt.

I soon found out that this boy was even more adorable when trying to swing a racket. So we hit it back and forth, and I did my best to resist the urge to impress him with my amazing tennis skills by blazing the ball past him every time. I only hit him once, and it was mostly his fault because he didn't get out of the way fast enough.

It was past 11:30 p.m. by the time we quit, and I couldn't believe we'd been out there that long. We made promises to hang out again, and soon. After being so nervous to hang out with him alone, the night had gone better than I could have hoped! Of course, when I got home and realized my hair looked like bees had had a fight in my ponytail, I questioned his sanity for wanting to see me again. Nonetheless, I couldn't stop thinking about him.

Fast forward a month of hanging out twice a week (mostly to play tennis on Wednesdays and eat lunch together on Sunday afternoons), and I had a full-on crush. The kind where people you both know notice and whisper and point when you're not around, speculating about whether or not the two of you are a couple.

I'd gotten a gift card the previous week and realized it was the perfect opportunity to have dinner with him without it appearing like a "real" date. I debated all day whether or not to call him. Forget it. I'll just go to Chili's by myself. I can be one of those people who eats at a restaurant alone. No, said my wilder, braver self. You're doing it. Just call him. Don't be lame.

I picked up my phone and slid the screen up. Found his name in my contacts list. Held my finger over the send button.

Nope, can't do it.
Yes, you can.

I picked up my phone and slid the screen up. Found his name in my contacts list. Held my finger over the-- What? Who's calling me?

"Hey, it's me," he said.
It's him?!
Oh hey." Be cool. Just be cool. "What's up?"
"Well, I was just wondering... I mean... I just wanted to ask... What are you doing this Friday?"
AHHHHHHH! Just. Be. Cool.
"Oh, nothing," I responded, thankful he couldn't see my face.
"Well, would you like to go on a date with me?"
"Sure. I'd love to. Actually, it's funny you called," I said. Since he'd mustered up the guts, I could too. "What are you doing tonight? Because I've got a Chili's gift card, and I was just about to call you and see if you wanted to have dinner with me."
"I'm paying for you too," I added, in case he needed an incentive.
"Oh yeah? Well, sure. That sounds like fun."
"It'll be like a trial date," I said. "If it doesn't go well tonight, we don't have to go out on Friday."
"Haha. Okay. How 'bout I pick you up around seven?"

And that's how it started, nine months and fifteen days ago. Chili's. First "unofficial" date. Nervous. Red face.

Since then, there have awkward silences, admission of nerdy hobbies, strange conversations, disagreements, and bad attitudes. But there have also been jokes and laughter, flirting, kisses, cheesy moments, and, oh yeah, love. It wasn't something I planned on. Certainly nothing I ever thought would happen to me, especially with him. It grew slowly over late-night tennis and walks in the park. That sounds cliche, but we really did take walks in the park.

Then one day, as we were driving (probably to Walmart to pick up supplies for dinner), I looked to my left and saw this boy; and I realized I cared about him more than I'd ever cared about a boy. He was sweet and funny, considerate, respectful, oh so cute, athletic, smart, and interesting. Oh, and did I mention a Southern accent? And dimples?

And suddenly I knew.

It was that love thing I'd heard about but never understood. I don't think I had a glow. I definitely know there wasn't skipping; a string quartet didn't start following me around playing romantic music, although that would have been fun. No, it was just a feeling of comfort, peace, joy. I could be myself with no worries of rejection. I still liked him when he was being sassy or grouchy, and he was nice to me when I got so mad after losing a game of Scrabble I threw a grown-up tantrum and refused to speak to him. I was sad when he had a bad day and wanted to do all I could to help make it better. Everywhere I went, I saw something that reminded me of him. I wanted to buy him things and tell him funny stories and make him smile. Anything to see those dimples. It wasn't all about me and what I wanted; over time, it became about us. And love. And the occasional Chili's date.

My friends don't have to wonder about whether or not we're a couple anymore. There's no whispering or secretive winking. After nine months, we're old news. But this love thing? I don't think it'll ever get old. I just know.

The First One


I'm not one of those people who move often. I wasn't a military brat, pulled around the country, picking up accents and leaving a trail of socks or... whatever else one would trail (bread crumbs?). But a year and a half ago I moved from the suburbs of Chicago to Oklahoma City. And let me tell you what: Oklahoma is one windy state. And yes, I am from the Windy City. But it wasn't only named The WC (no, not water closet) because of the wind. Google it if you're interested; I don't feel like typing it all out.

Anyhoo, if you would have told me two years ago that I would be living, working, eating, or even talking about doing any of those things in Oklahoma, I would not have believed you. Yet here I am. Yeah, that's me... the girl with her hair in a billion knots. Thanks, wind.

So that's the reason for my blog title choice. Because this is me, breathing.

Chicago, the Windy City, will always be where I'm from. But Oklahoma, the Windy State (I didn't say I was clever), is where I am. I have friends and a job and an apartment, and I sort of can drive around without getting lost. Sort of. I can count on more than one hand the number of times I've been crying on the phone to my dad while he looks up directions for me on his gps while I sit in an empty parking lot just off the road. But that's neither here nor there. I have my own Garmin now, so *cross your fingers* that problem has been solved.

And so I breathe.