Like many others, I've been consumed by Haiti these past couple weeks.

I've read countless articles, watched various late-breaking news reports and said many prayers.

In my quest to stay informed and my desire to feel and grieve along with the world, I stumbled across one little blip in my RSS feed that has haunted me ever since.

It was this article--its headline, actually--that grabbed my attention and imprinted this pervasively bizzare image in my brain that has stuck with me ever since.

It pops up when I'm stirring my morning oatmeal.

It flashes when I'm stuck in traffic after work.

It has wormed its way into the inner depths of my everyday thinking and after all that contemplating, I still can't quite articulate why except to say that it encompasses what I see as pivotal to the struggle of the human experience.

Haiti was clearly a devastating, horrific, heart-wrenching disaster and my intention is certainly not to demean or belittle the very real travesty that has besieged our Southern neighbors.

In fact, it is this gripping sense of helplessness, mixed with compassion, laced with wide-eyed why? and how? and Lord, have mercy! that caused me to immediately flinch when I saw that Royal Caribbean was docking luxury cruise lines a mere 60 miles from the earthquake rubble.

Un.be.freaking.lievable! I thought, immediately outraged. How completely insensitive! How terribly selfish! Do they have NO HEART?!

Turns out, even the passengers were divided in the decision as the Guardian reports:

"I just can't see myself sunning on the beach, playing in the water, eating a barbecue, and enjoying a cocktail while [in Port-au-Prince] there are tens of thousands of dead people being piled up on the streets, with the survivors stunned and looking for food and water," one passenger wrote on the Cruise Critic internet forum.

"It was hard enough to sit and eat a picnic lunch at Labadee before the quake, knowing how many Haitians were starving," said another. "I can't imagine having to choke down a burger there now.'

Upon further investigating, it appears that, in fact, the Haitian government actually asked Royal Caribbean to make the journey for both the "economic benefit that they normally bring" according to NPR's interview with Mr. Adam Goldstein, CEO Royal Caribbean International, and because the trip is doubling as a relief effort--with "about 40 to 60 pallets' worth of materials" being unloaded with each ship call (also from this article).

So, maybe there are decent reasons for Royal Caribbean's decision and really, it isn't so much the actual incident that has my mind reeling.

Instead, this idea--this image of a docked cruise line filled with sun-bathing tourists sipping pina coladas and splashing in the water miles from rubble, chaos, and death...well, isn't that something we can all relate to?

And I don't say this looking down my nose or even in at attempt to make us all feel terrible and walk away defeated.

It's more that, well, I feel like we are all constantly living in that tension--

To live a life of joy while living in a world that is groaning.
To hold onto hope in a world that is so full of despair.
To flee from cozy oblivioin yet also run from cynicism.
To really feel others' suffering without becoming hardened.

And it's this dance, you know? One minute, texting to lend aid to a relief fund and the next laughing over late-night pancakes with a friend.

And somehow coming to terms with the knowledge that there will always be a Haiti, in some sense. Rwanda. Iraq. Illiteracy. Poverty. Human trafficking. Etc.Etc.Etc.

And these are huge problems. And I am just one.

And it is so, so easy to get swallowed in that reality and to walk away either crippled with guilt for having while others have not or admitting defeat and resigning myself to inaction, thanking my lucky stars that at least it wasn't me.

And it's sobering and it's confusing and it's essential that we as a community continue to remind each other: do not lose heart.

We are running a race.
We are called to care.
And there is always, always, always hope.



I was rushing back from the cafeteria--arms full of food and tummy full of grumbles--when he stopped me in the lobby.

"Miss? Excuse me, miss?"

I wheeled around, impatient, my apple nearly rolling out of my crooked arm.

"Yes?" I said, forcing a smile at the familiar face--one that keeps to himself, quietly knits or naps in the corner. "...Can I help you?"

"I was just wondering--did that other girl get the hat or did you?"

Puzzled, I thought for a moment.

"Oh!" I said, remembering his offer last Saturday of a simple, knitted stocking cap. "You mean this weekend? Nope, Suzie took it home."

"Okay," he said simply.

Then, after rummaging in his overstuffed and overworn backpack, "...well, here."

He thrust a bright orange hat in my direction, knitted just like Suzie's, with extra flaps to cover the ears.

"Thank you!" I said, embarrassing him with my enthusiasm. "Wow! That is so nice! I only wish I could be so crafty! How long does it take you to make one of these?"

"Just about an hour," he said. "It's no big deal."

"Well...thanks again!" I said, beaming.

I took two steps, then turned again.

"I'm sorry," I said apologetically. "I know I should know this, but what is your name, again?"

"Uhh...Joel," he said, startled.

"Hi, Joel. I'm Sara," I said. "It's really nice to meet you."

And it really, truly was.


The day we played Love Bombardment at work:

Coworker 1:
...Did I just hear someone say something about Jazzercise?

Me: Yes! I love it!

Coworker 2: What?! Jazzercise?! I thought that was old and lame.

Me (not-so-slightly offended): ABSOLUTELY NOT! It is awesome.

Coworker 2: Awesome??? REALLY? This is shocking to me.

Me: YES! Believe it! In fact, I would love to be an instructor. I.am.SERIOUS!

Coworker 1,2 and 3: I can totally see you doing that! I would definitely attend your class! You'd be great!

Me: You are my new best friends.


Hypothetically speaking, of course...

You know how sometimes you really need to do something, but you don't want to do that something?

And I mean, you really really don't want to do that something?

And so then you don't do that something and then you feel guilty about it and then you know that the guilt and that annoying thing called Conscience (who just.won't.leave.you.ALONE) simply solidifies the fact that you need to do that something.

But then you still don't do it.

Because you really really don't want to.

And then someone tells you that they really think you should do that something and you get mad at that someone because HELLO I KNOW I NEED TO DO THAT SOMETHING BUT I DON'T WANT TO AND MY NOT WANTING TO MAKES ME KNOW I NEED TO DO IT EVEN MORE AND THE LAST THING I NEED IS SOMEONE TELLING ME TO DO SOMETHING I SHOULD DO--DON'T YOU EVEN CARE?!?!

And then, instead of just sucking it up and doing that something...you just find yourself eating Dove dark chocolate and locking your keys in your car and ENDING ALL YOUR SENTENCES IN QUESTIONS?

You know???


On being average.

Last night, Adam and I were dissecting this quiz we took about our relationship. You know, one of those "There are no wrong answers, so don't worry! We aren't judging you!" things which to me means "The right answer is just creatively hidden within our scoring chart so goooood luck."

I don't know if you're aware but let me just say that I.do.not.fail.quizzes (except horrible Mr. Vincent's trigonometry in eleventh grade...and no, I am SO NOT OVER IT...and further, I DO NOT NEED IT IN MY EVERYDAY LIFE SO THERE!).


Anyway, we're looking over our results and right there on the first page is a little summary of us as a couple. And out of four possibilities, we're given this perfectly acceptable label--which isn't bad per se--but in my crazy, perfectionist brain just didn't seem as good as another label and just seemed rather, well, ordinary on paper.

And I'm pointing it out to Adam like See?! Are you seeing this? Can you believe that WE ARE NOT COMPLETELY PERFECT IN EVERY WAY?! IS THIS BECAUSE YOU JUST DISCOVERED I SQUEEZE MY TOOTHPASTE FROM THE MIDDLE?!?!?!?!

Adam, being the tooootally emotional basketcase that he is these days (oh wait...) takes a couple minutes, reads it over and says ever-so-calmly, "Sara, this isn't saying anything bad. And for that matter, everything it says we need to work on, well, we actually DO need to work on. And that's okay."

And he was right.

But for some reason
, it is hardwired in my brain to fight against "average". And instead, demand "perfection."

Average job? I should work harder. Average day? What a waste. Average relationship? We can do better.

Average is failing and I.do.not.fail.

Except that I do fail. Because I am human.

And I am average. In so many ways. (and in some ways, far less than average as anyone who has seen me on the basketball court can attest)

And it's this peculiar tug-of-war--this desire to be better than average. In every way. Because my pride won't let me be anything less. Because complacency is a death sentence. Because I need to believe that I am more than that.

And yet...in so many ways, the desire to be Prototypical Average. Because it looks so appealing sometimes--the house. The family. The dog. The career. The minivan full of soccer balls and Squeeze-Its. And I think to myself yeah...I want that.

It's a conundrum that leaves me restless when I'm stable and swirling when I'm not.

It's a fear that I'll always be living in discontent.

It's a constant searching, a constant second-guessing, a constant need to feel affirmed in exactly who I am right then.

Even when I'm not exactly sure myself.


To our Haiti family:

You are in our thoughts and prayers.

May this devastation bring about a global community that does not die with the media exposure.

And may you cling to a Promise that you are not abandoned.


All of Us


...did I miss something?

Last week, I stumbled upon this little gem and I'm pretty sure my co-workers thought I was hacking up a lung as I coughed and shook my head in utter disgust (also perhaps partly due to the UMMMM SUBZERO TEMPS around this place that has me warming up water just to keep my blood from freezing but annnnyway).

It was an internal conniption, people, and whooo-eee are those hard to contain in a cubicle.

The point is, it's completely mind-blowing to me, Rev. C. Thomas Anderson and Rev. Tom Brown, that we both claim to know the same God.

I'm the last person to pretend I have it all figured out and I'll be the first to admit that there are certain things in the Bible that I do not want to hear and desperately wish I could explain away.

So, I may not like that message any more than you. And I may not live it much more than you either, which I'm not proud of but at least I acknowledge it.

And when you both say so smugly:

"That's so pathetic, to say that Jesus was struggling alone in the dust and dirt," Anderson says. "That just makes no sense whatsoever. He was constantly in a state of wealth."


"Jesus did not affirm himself as being part of the poor class..." [Brown said.]

(both quotes from here)

Well, it makes me like you just about as much as I like him.

(which, for the record, isn't very much)

And now, today, I read this, which is basically a similar reaction to this report, which compares conservative, religious activists and what is deemed "progressive activists" (those who are not defined by a single faith tradition) and their priorities in terms of hot-button issues such as Iraq, the environment and poverty...well, it is disheartening to say the least.

But just when I am losing heart...Hope peeks it's little head around the corner. And I don't know what all of these people believe but I can't help but look at them and see a Jesus that has been so twisted, so ignored, so shoved-to-the-side-because-Your-message-is-too-uncomfortable...that, well, I think we are all in danger of forgetting He ever existed in the first place.


I'm much too Type A for this...

So, hey everyone, GOOD NEWS!

is kind enough to include a WEEKLY email with all sorts of things you-didn't-know-you-had-to-do-but-YOU-SHOULD-HAVE-DONE-IT-YESTERDAYs and this includes every.single.thing. "necessary" for a wedding.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a task-oriented list-maker and there are no words to describe the pure joy I get from crossing things off my daily/weekly/hourly lists. (In fact, OKAY FINE, I admit I sometimes write things down that I've already done...just so I can cross them off. GUILTY.)


Words also cannot describe the immeasurable panic that zaps my inside to jelly when I see this breakdown:


Are you kidding me?! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!

We're two-thirds of the way done with our engagement...and I thought I was doing so well!

This, my friends, is not acceptable. Now please excuse me as I give myself heart palpitations from excessive coffee drinking and seriously test the ergonomics of this keyboard.

In other (fair and balanced) news, here's a nugget. Discuss amongst yourselves.


An excerpt from an email I just opened:

"Don't stress about things too much and enjoy all this planning - the bottom line is to give God the glory for overseeing this journey together for you and Adam! The day will be grand! Love, Mom."

And that, my friends, is called saying just the right thing at just the right time. :)



I'm not sure if you've noticed or not, but when I get into something, I get really into it.

If you don't believe me, bring up this, this or this in my presence and I guarantee an ALL CAPS response.

While my devotion can at times become--what's the word? oh yes--OBSESSIVE, I am not one to jump on just any trend train (see my overall disinterest in this, this and this--and yes, I realize that confession just ruined some friendships).

At any rate, this quality is certainly not new.

Many years ago, pre-Scranton and even pre-DiCaprio, I spent many a day curled up on the couch pouring over pages full of my favorite group of friends and their adventures in Stoneybrook, CT (it's not a real place, I checked...and even tried to call the number on the back of the books once...OH LIKE YOU NEVER WONDERED!).

I laughed with them. I cried with them. I changed my handwriting to be more like my favorite one. I even co-founded a local chapter to have a club just like theirs (with other REAL PEOPLE thankyouverymuch).

I could go on, but I'd like to keep what's left of my pride, so instead I leave you simply with this.


--And also to say, ummm, Ann M. Martin, if you're reading this, I still have your signed picture tucked safely behind my yet-to-be-returned fan letter to Leo.


Stacey McGill err, I mean Sara


How Chipotle stole my heart (and not just because I freaking love their corn salsa)

So, Adam and I recently started a Netflix account--

(pause for indecipherable squeal of approval because O-M-G people IT.IS.AWESOME!!!)

--and our very first request was this documentary (which was accompanied in the mail by our second request, which somehow was a TV series about Robin Hood thankyouAdam-- but I digress).

At any rate, Food, Inc. was totally worth checking out and made us both step back and go whoaaaaaaa that is really happening?! And sure, it's political and yeah, it's got a bit of the "conspiracy vibe"...but for the most part, it just presented an in-depth look at the super-shady food industry and the many uncool things that are happening from factory farming to genetic engineering to cloning to (perceived lack of) consumer power, etc.

Read more about such issues it covers here.

(Note: I realize many of these topics are political in and of themselves, so while you may actually be okay with cloning in general, for example, it is still worth watching how cloning is impacting the food industry specifically.)

So, anyway, we finish the documentary and we're feeling guilty because it's late and we've yet to eat dinner but how in the world do you eat ANYTHING after seeing something like that?

In an effort to stall, we decide to peruse the special features and discover--much to our delight--that there is a featured Dateline interview segment with an organic farmer featured in Food, Inc and his partnership with every college student's bff, Chipotle!

And not only was this the greatest news ever for our growling stomachs and churning consciences (because we sure did eat Chipotle for dinner AND lunch the following day OH YES WE DID!)...but also, it was just a really encouraging way to walk away from such a heavy issue.

Because, while the documentary presented daunting facts and crying moms and weary farmers and horrible corporate greed (as per the documentary norm), Chipotle provided hope.

That you can be environmentally conscious. That you can demand naturally raised meat. That you can demand suppliers to eliminate hormones. That you can support local family farms.

And that you can do it all and BE SUCCESSFUL (business world, take note). And reasonably priced. And uhhh obviously delicious (I'm not getting ad revenue for this, I swear).

So, here's to you, Chipotle. Thank you for pouring time, money and effort into transforming your industry for the good of us all. I know I'll be seeing you soon.

-The Food, Inc. website

-Chipotle's Food With Integrity philosophy

-Chipotle's burrito calorie counter (because yeah, they're good and fresh...but those calories can still getcha! You are welcome, Steph.)

-The Dateline interview:


Could someone please tell me...

...how the crap I'm supposed to know who's hating the snow/loving SNOW DAYS/sick of work/ready for lunch/obsessed with Glee (OMG!)/watching this hi-larious youtube video/feeding their cow (or whatever the crap happens in Farmville)...


Please advise.


And now, I unwrap my frigid hands from my third cup of green tea to say:


Note: For anyone who thinks I am actually celebrating or even worse, CELEBRATING YOURSELF, this is me SQUIRTING DE-ICER IN YOUR EYE.


The thing is, as much as I DEPLORE winter...and deplore I do, because I am my father's daughter and as the seasons start to change we cannot help but stomp around in ten layers of flannel and fluffy socks and remind the world that our FEET. ARE. COLD. AGAIN. And bitterly scoff at the doe-eyed innocents who rejoice at the prospect of MORE FROZEN WHITE ICICLES OF DEATH returning. Bah. Humbug...

Still, there was a moment last night after stuffing myself with delicious gas station BBQ (yes, you read right) that left me utterly speechless.

Because my friend Sarah--you know, the one who got married this summer in Nicaragua and let us come visit and is completely amazing and lives in constant service to others--she is visiting the States with her sweet Nicaraguan husband.

And we're sitting there, all of us, with bellies full of yummy deliciousness and Sarah says:

"So, Moises, he has been loving this winter weather!"

Moises. Her Nicaraguan husband. Who has never seen snow before. Who flew with Sarah for his first trip Stateside into Chicago. In early December. Without a winter coat. Who has been met with nothing but BLIZZARD LIKE CONDITIONS EVER SINCE.

He really...loves it?!

Well, crap. Now I feel like a real fuss bucket.


P.S. If you are stuck inside and are in the mood for some Internet perusing, take a gander at this (I am personally quite a fan of #21).


Happiness is...

...surpassing the 100-days-until-marriage countdown (and celebrating with Dove dark chocolate)

...winning at Boggle AND Speed Scrabble (!!!)

...Jazzercise-ing with my mom

...starting a new Christmas tradition (or two)

...those simple moments--a cup of coffee, a gathering of favorite friends, slippered socks and sweatpants as Dad tries to balance dice on his chin and Mom snorts with laughter--the times when you look around and think there is nowhere else I'd rather be.

Cheers to a new year--may we all take time to remember the little things.

And hey, if you choose to make resolutions, here's a little something to consider...
in a nutshell: Want something, imagine a climactic scene and create an inciting incident).