On Hiatus

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“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”Jeff Goins

You guys – this blog has been around for 3.5 years. Seriously, can you believe it? The first post was written on June 20, 2012, from a downtown coffee shop, about a month after I moved to Chicago. I was wasting time before my shift at Starbucks Navy Pier when I heard a loud commotion outside. I turned around to see an Aladin-like prince riding down the sidewalk on a white horse. You can read more about it here.

This blog has morphed since that first post three years ago, changing names in January 2014 when I started taking an improv class. I realized my focus was shifting from just writing silly anecdotes to exploring the connection between art, comedy, and spirituality. I remember being nervous about choosing a new name. I was afraid the new name wouldn’t capture everything that I wanted to write about: Can you really combine faith and comedy into one category?

My roommate at the time said, “Yes. Yes you can.” So I did. And “bowl full of cinnamon milk” was born. The title was inspired by a line from a dream I had had about a year before. Ask me about it! I love dreams and exploring what they might mean. I thought it was the perfect title to catch all the little-bits-of-everything I wanted to put in my blog.

Over the last six months, I’ve been sensing a need for another change–a change that involves taking myself more seriously, building a website, pitching some articles, and actually calling myself a writer.

I recently made a new friend and invited her and her fiancé over for dinner one night. As we were eating, she expressed her desire to write more. When I told her how excited that made me she said, “Yeah, but it’s just a hobby. I’m not a real writer like you.”

HA!

It’s funny to me, that the only difference between a real writer and fake writer is that the former believes in herself more than the latter.

With that in mind, I’m going to be taking a break – not from writing, but from blogging. This break is to allow myself to write more, actually, and to give myself some space to create – to create and feel and explore what I want the next year to look like.

I’m going to be working with my friend over at Jubilant to create a website that I hope to launch sometime in the early new year. So be on the lookout! If you have any thoughts or encouragement, please send them my way!

And in the meantime, checkout these blogs by a few of my friends. Maybe you’ll feel inspired too!

http://fullandfearless.com
http://makeourday.org/munchkinland/
http://www.humblebeeblog.com

Ducks In A Row

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I’m super excited today to bring you a guest post from my dear friend, Emily. Emily is a new writer, and I had a lot of fun working with her on this post.

We are modern-day pen pals–emailing each other once a month with updates, thoughts, dreams, desires and encouragements. A couple months ago, Emily mentioned to me that she wanted to start writing more. She told me how excited she was and also how scared and nervous and unsure she was so I said, “Hey! The way you wrote that is really great. Want to turn it into a blog post?” And so she said, “Yes!” And then we worked together to create Ducks in a Row – Emily’s first guest post.

There’s so much goodness here and I actually love the metaphors and illustrations she uses to describe the way she (and often we) relate to God. I hope you enjoy it!

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Ducks In a Row
-Emily Carpenter

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“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.” (Heb 4:13)

NOTHING. Which means He already knows everything.

I have thoughts–so many thoughts–and dreams that I just hold in my heart. And as often as I have these thoughts, I try to make a plan to bring them to God. Actually, I try to manage God. I hold my cards close, only showing him what I want him to see when I want him to see it. I’m very strategic about the whole thing. Each move is calculated.  I know the whole truth, but how can I show him just the parts that will sell Him?

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.

“I need a business plan,” I think, like I’m approaching a banker about a loan. I need to have my ducks in a row, and each one needs to know what its quack looks and sounds like and when it’s supposed to quack and when it’s supposed to shut up. One duck out of line and the deal is off. Dumb ducks. Have you ever tried to keep ducks in a row? Good luck with that.

I’ve been stuck–without a business plan, without my ducks in a row. I wouldn’t invest in me.

Frankly, I’m a mess. A HOT MESS. Remember, I know the truth. I know my pitfalls and achilles heels. And the enemy knows them too; he reminds me of them often. So I stay stuck, paralyzed even. I have no plan because I can’t sell myself. I don’t believe in me – how can I sell what I don’t believe in?

I sit here, with these thoughts and hopes and dreams, not even allowing myself to acknowledge them as such because a dream is a desire, and a desire is something I should want to pursue, right? That’s what we’re supposed to do isn’t it? “Reach for the stars!” “Go for the gold!” “Knock ’em dead!” We’re not supposed to let our dreams sit. When dreams sit, they die.

But if I shoot for the stars, I could fail! And I can’t fail! I don’t want to fail!  So I don’t. I don’t allow myself to dream so there’s no way I can fail. But what would happen if I did have a dream? But I haven’t figured out my dream.

I can’t bring my dream to God without a plan, right? I have to tell him what to do and how it will work so he can just sign off and then it will be. That’s how it works, right? I tell God what to do?

No – It was never supposed to be my plan! I didn’t create me or put these desires and passions in my heart! I was created with a purpose – God created me with a purpose! And He knew all along what He was doing. I don’t need to approach him with my business plan like a banker. He already has the plan in his possession!

If I decide to keep these hopes and dreams to myself ,not even bringing the conversation to him, then the plan sits, like in a pile of papers on the corner of a  desk getting dusty and smelling musty. God waits for me, in the meantime. He waits for me to want to hear his plan, when I finally realize i’m not the author of the plan.

God is not a banker. He is my father. I am his daughter, his beloved and his creation. I don’t need to convince him to invest in me or believe in me. He already believes in me and has invested in me hugely! The amount? His son. He gave a life for me – his own son’s life! That’s what I’m worth to him! He’s not backing out on me because I’m not good enough; to Him I am MORE than enough!

 

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Emily is a wife and mom to three boys. She’s beautiful; she’s insightful, and I’m happy to call her my friend.

Learning to Walk

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Several months ago I wrote a devotional for A Thousand Tiny Pearls called Walk Through the Water. In it I discussed this idea that one role God plays in our lives, if we allow ourselves to be aware of Him, is to teach us how to walk; it’s this idea that God does not exist to solve all our problems, but to lovingly teach us how to handle each situation as the whole-y redeemed person he intended us to be.

I remember the first time I stumbled upon this idea. It was 2010, and I was in Athens, Greece. Greece was fifth in a line of seven countries that I visited. Jamaica, Haiti, Uganda, and China preceded it; England and France would follow the next summer.
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For the most part, these trips were spawned by an intense desire to help other people and a curious excitement to see the world. But underneath that thrill of adventure lurked an ulterior motive that kept me searching, literally, all over the world.

I remember standing on the stone street in front of my hostel one morning. The sun had risen over the Acropolis, and all around me cafes and breakfast spots were waking up. Open-air seating and dreamy patios invited patrons to soak in Greece’s perfect fall climate. It was a fairytale storybook.

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In my memory I had plans to meet up with Lydia—a girl I’d met the day before while working with the local college Agape ministry. I was eager to have a friend show me around, to tell me what to order, and help me get to know Greek culture in a way I couldn’t do on my own.

In my memory, I am walking towards the plaka—a place that I have deemed the American coffee lover’s mecca (though it’s probably far from it) because of the numerous cafes that surround a large outdoor patio; you don’t even have to stand in a long line to order! A waiter will come to your table, and you can order whatever you want—coffee, food, a cocktail, you name it! But that’s not the point…

The alleged

The alleged “Lover’s Way”

Lydia and I had agreed to meet at the plaka. It was afternoon, and the sun was high. I made my way down “lover’s way” (yes, that’s an actual nickname for a street), and as I rounded the corner, something told me to stop. Stop!

So I stopped.

And in that moment, God’s voice became quietly clear to me. I heard him say, Stop searching because I am here. Rachel, stop traveling and doing and striving to find me because I’m already with you. Just be here. Be you. Enjoy this place where I have sent you, and sink into it; Stop, and savor it. 

Memories are funny. If you don’t write them all down, they can betray you in beautiful ways, meshing days and weeks into single experiences that are remembered only by the lessons we glean from them. I know I didn’t hear this message from God on the exact day I met Lydia for coffee. In fact, I don’t even think there was a moment where I heard the message loud and clear and then it stuck. However, my short friendship with Lydia coupled with my experiences in Greece allowed God to weave his words into my heart, crafting a beautiful lesson that would change the way I live.

Stop worrying. Stop striving. Stop trying to be God for so many people, even if that’s what your church told you you should be. Let him do his work, and let yourself live.

It’s an ongoing lesson. In fact, it’s so ongoing that this ending isn’t even fully written. I’m still learning—learning how to love, learning how to live, and learning how to walk. How about you? Have you learned how to walk yet?

To read the original devotional, click here.

Who is that girl with the really short hair!?!?!

Who is that girl with the really short hair!?!?!

Speaking of Moving and Getting Married

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In case you didn’t know, I’m getting married tomorrow!!! Woohoo!

If you’ve been following my blog for long, you remember that my fiancé, Dan, wrote this guest post back in 2014, right after we started dating.

I loved it. I’ve been asking him to guest post again for quite sometime, and today is the day that he’s finally doing it!!!! Hurray!!! He’s written a little piece that mirrored my last post about being engaged. His words and thoughts were somewhat surprising, and I’m really proud of him for being so honest. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you go back and read his previous post!

Look! It's Dan! photo by Magnified Joy Photography

Look! It’s Dan! photo by Magnified Joy Photography

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Speaking of Moving and Getting Married
-Dan Clair

Good day! This is the week I slowly but surely move out of my…scratch that…someone else’s apartment.

Yes, you heard that right. For the past five months, I’ve been living with my friends Daryl and Andraya. They graciously took me in when my apartment lease ended five months too soon for me to move in, begin a marriage, and start a home with Rachel.

It has been stressful, and I’ve felt like a drifter the entire time. In fact, I haven’t felt at home, truly at home, for the entire five years I’ve lived in Chicago. I’ve lived in four different apartments over the course of those five years (Daryl and Andraya’s den bumped that number up to five), and I’ve never had the luxury of having an apartment all to myself, the way Rachel has. I’m ready to settle into a place. My soul is ready to settle into a rhythm. I’m ready to start something new.

As I write this, there is only one day left until I marry the woman whom God has allowed to steal my heart and treasure it as her own. I am simultaneously thrilled and anxious. But it’s not pre-wedding jitters! Quite the contrary! I in no way question my decision to marry Rachel. I’m looking forward to this wonderful party we’re about to throw for our friends and family! I have never been more sure of a decision in my entire life. She is perfect for me and I for her.

The nerves I’m experiencing are a healthy dose of being wary of the unknown.

I don’t know how to give Rachel everything she needs, and I certainly won’t figure it out by Saturday. But the good news is, our relationship has steadily taught me one lesson at a time, and our engagement has been no exception to this rule. It’s humbling to see all my faults exposed to the person I’ve chosen to be closest to. But engagement has taught me how to simply be with her.

I’m grateful Rachel is the family I am choosing. She is a fantastic choice on my part, if I do say so myself, and I’m looking forward to being hers. And let’s just be real blunt here—making it to thirty years old and still being a virgin has added a whole list of “other things” I’m looking forward to as well.

Remaining a virgin has not always been an easy decision, and now that I’m faced with the very real prospect of sex, it’s actually pretty amusing how much people mention it to you in the days leading up to a wedding. One friend jokingly “pre-congratulated” me, and some have reminded me of the countdown until “it” happens.

It’s funny how such a private and previously taboo subject can suddenly become a casual joke. I don’t actually mind it. My own understanding of sex and sexuality has not always been healthy. There was a time when I didn’t think I’d ever get to experience and live a healthy relationship filled with healthy, thrilling, God-honoring sex so these friendly jokes remind me that things are changing. I’m looking forward to rewriting that old script in my brain in a healthy way.

As far as wedding planning goes…it sucks big time. The end result is great, and three or four really outstanding moments jump out at me as memorable and worth it in this whole process. But everything else is the worst—the little fights that happen for no reason other than each person having a different view and expectation; the seemingly (no wait, literally) endless list of things to get done, and several late nights dealing with our cranky selves.

To say I’m eager for the planning to end and the day to begin would be an understatement, but I would do it all again a hundred times if it means I get to explore who I am with Rachel and who God made me as a sexual being.

I’d do it all again a thousand times if it meant I get to know that He loves me and that he created me for sex. For far too long I’ve been ashamed of my sexual nature and afraid of “what it made me.” Only in this recent season has God used wise mentors and His words in all their avenues to encourage me and remind me I belong to Him and He is rooting for me. Many tears have been shed and countless prayers uttered, and my heart, although not completely healed yet, is growing stronger yet softer every day.

I have a lot of things to learn both about sex and how to be married. The opportunity to learn them and put them into practice is one I won’t take for granted. The unknown is still scary. I remind myself daily to take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. To quote a vaguely random line from a favorite classic movie, Home Alone, “This is it—don’t get scared now.”

photo by Magnified Joy Photography

photo by Magnified Joy Photography

On Moving and Being Engaged

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Good morning! Today is the day I am moving out of my Lincoln Park studio apartment.

look how wonderful it is!

look how wonderful it is!

It’s bittersweet. I started packing last Friday night, pulling books off my bookshelf and putting them in boxes, emptying my drawers and stuffing clothes into suitcases, leaving out only enough garments to last me through the next week (which for me, working from home and wearing the same thing three days in a row, is not a lot!).

I’m sad because this is my apartment – my little hole in the world that I have been able to make completely my own. I have loved the way my antique lamps cast a yellow glow across my room at night. I’ve loved the collage of pictures and canvased photographs that I finally put on the wall after eight months of living here. I’ve loved looking out my window and puzzling over all the weirdos that pass (naked bike ride anyone?), and I have loved welcoming friends into my tiny studio, making them as comfortable as possible and sharing all the wine and tea that can fit into my limited cabinet space.

One of my beautiful lamps!

One of my beautiful lamps!

It’s in this apartment that I learned to have more compassion – to recognize each homeless person that lives on my corner and do what I could on certain days to bring them a little comfort. I think fear still held me back from doing enough. It’s here that I learned about trusting God to provide enough for me and accepting the gifts that he’s given, both small and large, even if there’s still more that I want. It’s in this apartment that I fell more in love with my boyfriend who became my fiancé, spending countless hours laughing and watching HGTV, drinking wine, making pizza, and going for
walks in Lincoln Park. This apartment has been my home, and I love it! But it’s time to move on…

I’m getting married…in less than two months! People say marriage is hard, and engagement is apparently the training ground for marriage.

I couldn’t agree with these two statements more because engagement is hard. It’s fun, but it’s also hard. And it gets harder the longer you’re engaged. You fight more because there’s a lot of pressure and decisions, and you realize you disagree on things you never really cared about before. You don’t live together so one of you is always tired from having to ride the bus back and forth to visit the other person. And did I mention you don’t live together? At this point, it’s just plain inconvenient, just like not sharing a bank account is inconvenient. Why do we adhere to the rules and morals that we do?

Look at this wonderful man I am marrying.

Look at this wonderful man I am marrying.

I went to see a counselor last week. I’ve been visiting her every few weeks for almost a year, and it’s been especially helpful in this time of extreme transition. She asked me how my relationship with Dan was going, specifically our physical relationship. I laughed and said that was one of the hardest parts of all (no pun intended for you filthy thinkers out there),and  that it seems nearly impossible to not have sex and thank God we only have 56 days left (52 days now!).  She asked me why we were continuing to not have sex, and I paused before answering.

“You know,” I said, “at this point, it’s just because we said we wouldn’t. Nothing feels wrong. And any small boundaries we’ve crossed only feel mixed up because there’s no guilt or shame attached. It’s clear that’s what we’re supposed to do. Men and women were made to do this with each other! It’s just biology! And it feels good! But, we made a commitment based on what we believe the Bible says. So we’re not. And it’s not easy. And I question that decision constantly.”

She looked pleased with my honest answer. Then she said something really great:

“I think there’s something to that. Upholding a commitment. It’s okay if you struggle and if you can’t think of any other good reasons why you’re not going to have sex for the next two months. You’re practicing keeping a commitment to each other, and that’s what marriage is all about – a commitment – which is no easy thing, but you guys are accomplishing it.”

I’m pausing in Starbucks right now as I write, letting that sink in a little bit more and hoping it will stick.

Wow. Commitment. That’s what marriage is about. Learning to commit to another person and stick with them no matter what. It’s no wonder that God uses the metaphor of a marriage to describe our relationship to him. He’s committed to us, for better or for worse. And all of that feels vulnerable to write, knowing that a lot of people who read my blog won’t agree with any of what I just said. But if those of us who do agree with it don’t take the courage to speak up, how can we ever hope for change? How can we ever hope to live in a world filled with unconditional love?

Marriage is hard, but it’s already teaching me a lot.

This is a #rachelgram Dan sent me yesterday. I think it's beautiful. Even though it features the annoyingly giant TRUMP lettering. I'm using it to celebrate my move to the next chapter

This is a #rachelgram Dan sent me yesterday. I think it’s beautiful. Even though it features the annoyingly giant TRUMP lettering. I’m using it to celebrate my move to the next chapter

An Interview with LL

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MPAACT is the company that produced our show, and the company that LL works for. Click here to learn more.

Today is a fun day! It’s the first day that I’m posting an interview. Doing interviews with other artists has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but just haven’t taken action on doing so until today. I know a lot of really great people who are doing cool things with their art so, selfishly, I wanted to interview them so I can learn from them. But I also want to interview them so you can hear from other voices and get to know these cool people as well.

Today’s interview is with my friend, coworker, and now producer, Lauren Lundy – also known as LL in the artistic world. LL is from Stevenson Ranch, California – a suburb about 20 minutes north of Los Angeles. LL graduated with a theater degree from DePaul University and is actively pursuing and growing in her art.

I met LL back in 2013 when she started working at Bidclerk. Last fall, our managers made her move desks because she was being transferred from the Docs Processing Team to the Reporting Team. That move plopped her down at a desk right beside me where I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her spunky, cake-loving self ever since.

LL is the reason Betsy and I got to do our show, and she may not know it, but her support and encouragement has meant a lot to me over the last few months. She has always positive, excited and sure that whatever show Betsy and I came up with was going to be awesome.

So…without further a-do! I present to you, An Interview with LL!

visit http://www.laurenlundy.com to learn even more about LL!

visit http://www.laurenlundy.com to learn even more about LL!

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Tell us about your theater company and what you do with them?

I am a company member at MPAACT, Ma’at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre. MPAACT exists to develop, nurture, and sustain Afrikan Centered Theatre (ACT), an artistic expression grounded in the many cultures and traditions of the Afrikan continent and its Diaspora.  As an Associate Producer, specifically of The Jams Series which includes Solo Jams, Extended Jams, and Signature Series Showcase, I help curate those series and make sure they run smoothly. I also act as the Stage Manager for each individual Jams show.

Outside of direct title roles, I work as an assistant director for MPAACT and a stage manager, I distribute our marketing material to local businesses. I make sure each main stage show has a place to rehearse throughout the season. I have been acting as our scenic painter for the last year as well as our light and sound board op. 

Why theater? Why is that the creative medium that has spoken to your soul? 

Well, theater’sI not the only creative medium that speaks to my soul. All art speaks to me. I started out as a dancer, and danced for 15 years, so I was always around the theater. My father is a creative spirit too; he was a performer, among other things, and he just passed the gene on to me.

I acted when I was young for television and theatre and fell in love, head-over-heels in love with it. When I was in high school I started working on the technical aspects of theatre, everything from lighting, to scenic to sound to costumes and make up, but really found a passion in directing. There’s something magic about piecing a story together from nothing.

I work in very collaborative setting, particularly with new work, so I never work alone and I love working with different creative people because I love to learn how different people see and think about different things.

 How do you prepare for a show?

When I direct, there’s a lot of preparation that goes into a show. I spend a lot of time doing table work with the playwright and the actors. There’s usually a week of just talking through the play, working out questions, bouncing ideas off one another; really, what this does is create a community and a trusting ensemble. It’s a chance for everyone to express anything they want to discuss about the play. It creates a safe environment that people can feel artistically free and will not be judged. I also do a lot of ensemble building work other than talking–trust activities, games, movie nights, etc.

The experience I have with a full production goes far beyond the stage. I spend many nights reading and rereading the script, asking more questions, making sure I understand everything I can about a script. I never want an actor to ask a question that I can’t answer, or can’t problem solve with them. We become a support system for each other.

I work really closely with my designers to make sure they have all the artistic freedom they need while we work towards the same end goal. I hold meetings galore! Usually weekly to get updates on everything so by the time tech week comes, there are no surprises for anyone involved.

 Talk about a time where you did something scary/tried something new with your art. What did you learn? 

I think one of scariest things I’ve ever done with my art is joining MPAACT. It is a very new thing to come into a theatre company that is rooted in a very different culture than what you grew up with. I’ve spent the past year learning and diving into a new culture and trying to learn absolutely everything I can about it. Being here feels like home. There’s nowhere else that I’ve ever worked that has felt like this. MPAACT is my family; they are my heart and soul, and it influences my work. MPAACT has given me a deep understanding of my belief system and why I direct the way I do. In college, I used to say, “I direct this way because I like to.” But now, it’s more than that, and that is because of MPAACT. 

What is your favorite piece you’ve directed?

My favorite piece I have directed to date is a tie between Macbeth, which I directed it in 2009 for my high school, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show Live!, which I directed that in 2013 for Underscore Theatre Company.

What is the most helpful piece of advice that a professor or mentor has ever given you and why?

I’m lucky enough to work with my mentor, Reggie Lawrence, every day. He has been my mentor since January 2014 when I started working with MPAACT, and it’s actually really hard to narrow it down to one piece of advice that he has given me. I learn something new every day, which I know is a total cliché, but it’s so true. I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning from him honestly.

Theater is a very collaborative art. What do you like most about working with other people? Do you have any special ways of coping when it’s hard?

Like I said earlier, I love working with different minds. There’s no way I can know how each individual views something, and I never pretend to. So I enjoy asking questions to different people in the process to see how we can make a piece stronger. And when it gets hard, because it always does (artists can be stubborn; I know I’m always stubborn),I usually try to take a break, breathe, and laugh about anything, maybe eat a cookie, because cookies make everyone smile.

If you’re working through something, sometimes its best to walk away instead of stressing out over it, that’s taken me a long time to realize, and look at it with fresh eyes.

Any upcoming projects we should know about?

Upcoming projects for me: I directed a staged reading a new play by D. Matthew Beyer that goes up at the Greenhouse Theater Center on Wednesday May 20 at 7:30pm. Other than that I’m really just working on finishing up MPAACT’s current Revival Season and Jams Series and preparing to start work on our Summer Jams Festival, which is 17 different one day acts in 7 days. It’s our 25th Season.

That Show We Did

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Some of you might remember that I was in a show last Saturday night–a two woman show with my good friend Betsy. It has got to be one of the most fun things I have ever done. The way everything came together was incredible. I can’t wait to do it again! (Although, last night I dreamt we did it again, only this time, Betsy wasn’t there so I had to improvise the whole show with Dan and two strangers.)

Anyway…there will definitely be more shows in our future, but until then, I thought it’d be fun to share one of my solo pieces that I performed. It’s pasted below….and this time I changed the guy’s name = )

A picture of the set we got to use so you can imagine little 'ol me standing front and center telling the story

A picture of the set we got to use so you can imagine little ‘ol me standing front and center telling the story.

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I met Tyler on a Tuesday night after a comedy show at Lucky’s in Wicker Park. He was a comedian and came to support a few friends. I was a waitress and came because of the discounts I received on my night off.

Tyler impressed me out on the dance floor with a few smooth moves and a story about the last time he went dancing.

“A guy knocked my beer out of my hand,” he said. “The cup flew into the air, did a flip, and I caught it without spilling a drop!”

Yeah Right.

I impressed him by saying I remembered him from a previous showcase at Racine Plumbing.

“You told some story about dating a girl who thought Alaska was a country,” I said. Then I did a back handspring in the middle of the dance circle.

I finished up my gin and tonic and decided it was time to go home. Tyler looked upset, sad that we weren’t going to talk anymore. So he did what any level headed guy would do–he asked for my number.

Hmmm…. I thought. That was bold. I kinda like him! But wait! What should I do? I’m in a bar. I can’t give him my number. He’s probably not a Christian. He probably wants to have sex with me. I can’t say yes. But I can’t say no! He’s so cute. Look at that chiseled jaw line. And he’s tall. And blonde. I’ve never dated a blonde before. Do I like blondes?

Sigh.

No one ever tells you, when you’re an adolescent, that one day you’re going to want to expand your dating pool beyond the small circle that your Bible teacher (who also happened to be the weather man) drew for you in middle school. No one ever tells you that in adulthood, youth-group dating rules don’t apply and you are free to do whatever you want, whenever you want, with whoever you want.

How’s a girl like me supposed to handle that kind of responsibility???

I’ll tell you how! You give your number to that hot guy in front of you and answer the phone when he calls!

Tyler and I met for our first date, five nights later at HopLeaf in Andersonville. I stood to give him a hug when he arrived. It was awkward. Maybe you’re not supposed to hug on the first date?

Tyler commented on my outfit and told me that he liked my t-shirt.  He asked where I got it, and I said a concert.

“Oh yeah?  Which one?”

“Maroon 5.”

“Oh.” he replied. “Me and my dad don’t really like Maroon 5.”

Oh. I didn’t know your dad would be joining us on this date.

Eventually we moved from the bar to the back room where the restaurant served dinner. I admitted to being nervous that I would end up as his next “crazy girl” date story. He said that wasn’t possible, that this was already way better than the date with Alaska girl. In fact, he said this was the best first date he’d ever been on!

I couldn’t figure out how that was possible; we’d only been together for 20 minutes. Best-first-date statuses should at least be reserved for two hours in.

At the dinner table, we talked about more bands, told stories about travel and bad first dates. I liked him. the date was really fun, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

As the night went on, I prayed a silent prayer that I’ve prayed on many occasion…”God please. If you don’t mind, could you just keep religion from coming up? I know, I know…it’s easy for me to talk to people about you, but tonight, I just want to enjoy a fun evening. I want to get to know a guy and have him see ME before he sets me apart because of my stupid religious values. Ugh…being a virgin sucks. I really hope he doesn’t find out.”

My prayer was interrupted by Tyler asking me if I smoked. I told him No, and he said he needed to go grab a cigarette real quick and call his mom.

What? Call your mom?

Apparently his mom had called while we ordered dinner. He ignored the call, but felt it important enough to find an excuse to call her back.

When he came back he informed me that his mom was doing well and that she was really excited for us to be on a date. I was flattered, but confused.

After dinner, we headed back to the bar to have another drink. I eventually went against my better judgement and ordered a third. Somewhere in the midst of all this, Tyler asked me about my tattoo….my stupid tattoo that is plastered across my left wrist – it’s Isaiah 43, the reference to my favorite Bible verse – a whole chapter about God’s goodness and how he’s making all things new. I love the verse, but I didn’t want to talk about it then. I was in the middle of an inner battle about what I was going to do if Tyler tried to kiss me.

No kissing on the first date. I thought. Kissing leads to sex and I can’t have sex yet. Or maybe I can. Maybe I can just get it over with and see if its as big of a deal as everyone says it is. I bet if I do it once, that’ll solve everything and I’ll never want to do it again. It’s settled. I’ll do it.

Wait….no I won’t.

I gave Tyler an abbreviated story about why I got my tattoo. I told him that it comforted me and that when I read it for the first time, it let me know that God was for me.

He told me that it was cool. That he liked what I believed but wasn’t so sure about the whole Jesus thing himself. We then proceeded to have a 20-minute conversation about Jesus. I gave God a quiet head-nod, saluting him for yet another win with me. It never fails, put a new person in my path and I will talk to them about God . It’s just something that happens. Don’t hold it against me.

Tyler excused himself to go to the bathroom. When he came back, he turned on the charm, rubbing my back and kissing my cheek like we had already been dating for a month. It was weird. I pulled away, then leaned back in, and let the weirdness continue.

Around midnight, we finished our drinks and decided to leave. I had to be at work at 6 a.m., and he…well, he probably didn’t have to be anywhere since he lived off of unemployment while pursuing his comedy career.

We walked the entire mile to get to the Berwyn redline, stopping at the corner of Berwyn and Lakewood to have a little make-out sesh. He pulled me in without hesitation and I let him. I hadn’t kissed anyone in 8 years, and I needed to find out if I could still do it. Apparently, making out is a lot riding a bike. Once you learn how to do it, you never forget how because Tyler pulled back and said,  “Wow! you’re such a good kisser!” before leaning back in for more.

We finally made it to the train platform, kissed a little more before I headed north and he headed south. I sat on the train questioning every single decision I had made that night.

Why did I make out with him? I never do that on a first date…especially in public! why didn’t he invite me to his place? Would I have gone if he had? Maybe he has weird roommates! I told him I’d see him again. Should I see him again? I don’t know. Probably not. But yeah. I should see him again!

The next day, Tyler and I agreed that we would meet up the following Tuesday. He said he’d text me and let me know where we should meet. He made some joke about celebrating my escape from working at Starbucks, then I never heard from him again! Not on Tuesday, not on wednesday, not ever.

At first I was angry….hurt by the fact that some guy just stood me up. Didn’t he say this was the best first date he’d ever been on? Didn’t he say his mom was excited for us? Didn’t he kiss me and tell me it was good? Urgggghhhh!!!

A week later, my emotions settled. I took deep breaths and let reality set in — I had become the crazy girl. The girl too intimidated by her own standards and too ashamed of what other people might think to make her real desires known.

Tyler, himself, was a crazy boy. He called his mom on our date, talked about his dad’s opinion of my outfit, and made me pay for a round of drinks. But Tyler did nothing but act on his honest feelings. He did what he wanted and came out okay because of it.
A couple months later, I was able to remedy the awkward situation. I had run into Tyler a few times here and there, at various comedy shows and dramatic readings. We never acknowledged one another, and I decided that needed to change. He needed to know I wasn’t crazy and that we could probably be friends. So, after a night of drinks at a  Southport bar, I typed up a facebook message covering all the above mentioned material, hit send and sat back, fully satisfied  and convinced that he would never think I was crazy again.

We added a few personal touches to the set, here and there.

We added a few personal touches to the set, here and there.

Me and Betsy before the show - Betsy is showing the excited part of how we felt and my eyes are showing the terrified part. Love this photo

Me and Betsy before the show – Betsy is showing the excited part of how we felt and my eyes are showing the terrified part. Love this photo

*Stay tuned! My next post will feature an interview with the producer of our show!