Rock Chalk Jayhawk

Friday, August 30, 2013

It has been a totally monumental week, people.  Really big deal.  Epic things happened.  I mean... as epic as things can be west of the Hudson River.  Let's just be real clear about that before we move on.  There were no celebrity sightings, no falling in love, no New York kinds of things.  But still...

Here is what happened.  It was Hawk Week at the University of Kansas.  Given that I run new student orientation programs, I was a little busy.  In two days, we saw over 600 students at orientation and thousands more at a weekend full of welcome festivities.  Also, I got a sofa...

This was my first major furniture purchase, and my credit card had the charge to prove it.  Thank you, West Elm.  It took eight weeks to arrive, so thankfully my living room furniture no longer consists of an air mattress.  You may now all come to visit.  But um, you could still bring some furniture along.  It's not done yet.  

Hawk Week was sort of like my official introduction to life at KU.  I learned as much as the new students, for sure.  And obviously Baby Sister and Just Matt had to come along.  How could they have possibly missed Hawk Week?

Traditions Night was the best.  We learned all we needed to know to be official Jayhawks.  Also, we had super special VIP seats on the front row of the football stadium.  I'm kind of a big deal.  Also, we love Baby Jay (not to be confused with Big Jay).

Chants and cheers and alma maters and claps later, we were officially part of the Jayhawk family.  Just Matt was super happy.  And it's a good thing, since he was kind enough to build me this gorgeous new bed...

Not even kidding.  It went a little something like this, starting from a door acquired at the architectural salvage store in Wichita...

Obviously, I was extremely helpful in this whole process.  I paid for the door and took the photos.  Everything else was the work of brother-in-law.  But overall, pretty successful weekend in Kansas.  And just when work got really stressful and student issues were way-too-overwhelming, my wonderful coworkers showed up with cotton candy.  Because I have a great job.

But let's just get one thing clear, people.

Sic Em Bears.

Home on the Range

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Howdy, folks.  Just get ready.  The past weekend fulfilled every single stereotype that every single one of my New Yorker friends believes about life out west.  For proper background knowledge and clarification of what exactly I mean, please watch this movie...

So the weekend was pretty much just like that.  Minus the Patrick Dempsey Tiffany proposal.  It wasn't that good.  Also minus the gorgeous long-lost love.  But other than that, totally the same.  In my mind, I looked just like Reese Witherspoon.  I always did love that black dress she's wearing.  Small town carnival and foreign-looking traditions and people who would never want anything else.  Only in America.

You see, it was Old Settlers weekend in Mulvane, Kansas.  Old Settlers weekend.  Just pause for a minute and picture that in your mind.  It's just like that.  Baby Sister and I started the weekend with the Old Settlers parade, pretty much right down Main Street.  The Patriot Guard kicked off the parade.  They're the ones who protest the protesters at military funerals so that families don't have to hear the mean people.  So we like them.  Parade festivities continued with every single sports team in town...

Of course, the main event was the bank float with our very own Just Matt.  

Also incredibly entertaining/slightly concerning/totally puzzling?  The church pushing grocery carts, army helicopter with guns pointed at the crown, Christian mime troupe (seriously), covered wagons, and random farm vehicles.  This, my friends, is small town life.

After the parade, Baby Sister and I headed over to what was sure to be the highlight of this tiny town's entire year.  The Old Settlers festival.  The whole town (plus several other towns) come out for the carnival, rodeo, concerts, and craft fairs lining the tiny streets of this little place.  At Old Settlers, everything seems to be a miniature version of itself...but these people love it.

After Old Settlers, Baby Sister, Just Matt and I headed down I-35 to Oklahoma City, where the western fun weekend continued.  Now, you should know that there are two very different versions of Oklahoma City.  The one that involves an up-and-coming downtown, hot young professionals scene, and Thunder basketball...and the one in Stockyard City.  If you're in the market for movie-like, cow-wrangling Oklahoma, this is your place.  Need new cowboy boots or a rodeo shirt?  You've come to the right neighborhood.

We make the Stockyard City trip exactly one time per year, for a birthday dinner at Cattlemen's Cafe.  In the market for an upscale, fancy, trendy steak?  Probably not your best choice.  But in the market for Oklahoma steak with Oklahoma cowboys and "famous" menu items I pretend not to notice because they serve every part of the cow?  Go to Cattlemen's.

That, my friends, is the Midwest at it's finest.  For all you New Yorkers out there who don't believe this is real, please feel free to come visit for your own personal western tour, complete with cowboy boots.  And for all of you that don't think there's life beyond the rodeo?  I can't wait to show you the more urban areas of Oklahoma and Kansas.  

But the first time you drive into the Oklahoma sunset or through the Flint Hills of Kansas?  You'll understand why God made those flyover states.

No Place Like Home

Friday, August 16, 2013

I used to be one of those people who couldn't possibly imagine living someplace like New York City...working there, going to school there, raising kids there, etc. etc. etc.  But the funny thing about New York is that is has the magical powers to change absolutely everything.  Because now it just feels like the most normal place in the entire world to live a life...and the crazy people living crazy lives are the ones in places like Oklahoma and Kansas. 

Because there really is no place like home...

Kansas vs. New York

Thursday, August 15, 2013

You should see the look on people's faces when I say I moved to Lawrence, Kansas from New York City.  It very closely resembles the look on people's faces when I told New Yorkers I was moving to Kansas.  Except that the Kansas folks are sort of fascinated by the whole thing, and New Yorkers think you are kidding.  Both of them, for the most part, don't quite understand what life is like for the others.

Every time someone asks how long I was in the city, I feel such mixed reactions about responding.  Partly a little heartbroken that I'm not still there.  Partly angry at the ones who hear my answer and comment on how I got out just in time.  Partly relieved by the knowledge that New York did change me...and definitely made me a New Yorker.

New Yorkers love to talk about what makes you a real New Yorker.  It's their favorite pastime.  Some mark the accomplishment by years (one? five? ten?).  Others mark city-dweller status by accomplishment of life milestones.  Case in point...

In my personal experience, I would add the following:
  • Falling asleep on the subway without ever missing your stop
  • Overhearing people in other states discussing how fast you walk
  • Ability to change subway cars in between performers boarding the car and beginning their show
  • Surviving major natural disasters in the city
  • Ordering takeout from an iPhone app in order to avoid talking to actual people
  • Viewing tourists as an obstacle to be dodged when walking through the theater district...or Fifth Avenue...or Rockefeller Center...or anywhere else in midtown
  • Newfound fear of silence when visiting the suburbs
  • Insistence on giving the cab driver specific directions
  • Failure to notice socially awkward things that tourists gawk at (like the Naked Cowboy, Santa Con, pant-less subway riders, crazy people, etc.)
  • Ability to justify $40 yoga classes and $400 haircuts
  • Sitting next to a celebrity at dinner and no one noticing
  • Finding out that a particular celebrity enjoys the same dry cleaners/deli/ice cream shop/bookstore that you do
  • Crying on the steps of a brownstone belonging to a total stranger
  • Sharing a cab with a friend of a friend of a friend who you just met
  • Brunching for six hours (or more)
  • Bragging about leaving the city for the weekend
  • Relief of returning to the city after weekends away
  • Recognizing random corners in TV shows as the tiny deli in your neighborhood
  • Forgetting how to drive or put gas in a car
  • That skeptical, creeped out feeling you get when someone is nice to you
Which brings us back to Kansas.  These people are way too nice here.  And it is really quiet.  And my coworkers make me slow down when we walk across campus.  

And mostly...when they say "subway" they mean a sandwich.  

Who are these people?

Never Once

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lack of activity on {the ivy project} lately?  It is 100 percent due to my total boredom in Kansas.  Kansas is a nice place, I promise.  I'm just not used to it yet.  I really do love my job, and I have no doubt that I made the right decision.  And I will never be able to describe how wonderful it is to see my family every two weeks instead of every two months.  I just miss my friends.  And I miss the excitement of living in the greatest city in the world and knowing that it is home.  So I've been a little homesick/lonely/pouty/snobby about my love affair with New York/skeptical of this new life.

But let's be honest.  My biggest problem is that my beautiful, brand new West Elm sofa has yet to arrive.

This, I am confident, is nothing even closely resembling a problem.

God has done an excellent job of reminding me of my lack of problems lately.  How could I ever complain, when today alone four very sick little boys filled my prayers?  I am certain that none know each other, but all are desperately in need of a miracle.  Baby Sister's dear friends need medical miracles and God miracles for their tiny eleven-day-old Jonas.  A high school friend's three-year-old Griffin seems healthy, but recent blog posts about Make-A-Wish remind us all that miracles are still very much needed.  Xander and Trey have known illness much longer.  Trey's baby cousin Toby received a different kind of healing than the kind we all selfishly wanted.  For many friends and families in my life, it's been a rough summer.  Miracles do happen...but miracles are definitely needed.  And so we pray for Jonas, Griffin, Xander, Trey, and Toby's family.  And we wait.  And we pray some more.

An old friend recently asked if it was hard to acknowledge that God is good all the time.  While catching up/commiserating on a year neither one of us quite expected, his question caught me a bit off guard.  But's not.  I've never thought so.  God is good all the time.

"Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful"

But who am I to talk?  All I really need is a couch.

Yellow Brick Road

Sunday, August 4, 2013

This weekend, I saw an actual Tin Man in Kansas.

So there's just really nothing left to say.