Friday, September 30, 2005

Website Issues

As you can see, we are working on a new bit o' fanciness on our blog. Unfortunately (as you can also see) we can't get the daggum Flash movie to stop looping. So to keep yourself from being totally annoyed, right click on the Flash image and unclick the Loop. Sorry. It's 1:45 and I'm tired of trying.

We'll hopefully get it all fully functional (with the links back up, too) this weekend.

(Working between home and work, with different versions of the Macromedia Suite is a serious pain. I'm too tired to even link to Macromedia. Look it up if you care.)

Oh yeah, and this updo is in honour of our one year anniversary in the Second-to-Last House in Greenock. One year ago today, we moved into this ol' place. The new pictures (which yes, I drew, ahem, with my new graphics tablet) and the fancy (but steadily annoying the pooh out of me) Flash video are to celebrate a year in Scotland. A whole year.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Since we last spoke...

1. Amanda has advised me that I start calling football "soccer" on my blog so the Americans aren't confused and think I'm one of these people who like American football. We both expressed tonight how much we don't like the kind of people who like American football, and she fears people might get a similar impression of me. However, we both also agreed that people who like "soccer" are completely different and completely suitable. So I will, for my reputation's sake, call the football "soccer" here in this following paragraph:

Rangers lost last night to Inter Milan. It was a devestating result BUT not as bad as we all expected, to be fair. They could've killed us. I was betting on a 4-nil defeat. Instead, they just beat us 1-0, and their one goal was an unlucky (for us) deflected shot which was seriously just a freak accident. But luck wasn't all on their side - they missed a penalty kick that they so should've gotten except it hit the goalpost and shot back. Crazy.

(I had a LOT to say about the game earlier today at work, but for your sakes, it's probably good that blogger access is now denied me at work, or you'd all be hearing about what great defense we played the whole first half and how through the second half we just lost it completely and McLeish really should've subbed some guys in much earlier than THE LAST SEVEN MINUTES. I also didn't have to say soccer in that whole paragraph.)

2. Lots of cool things have been happening at the Second-to-Last House in Greenock that we haven't been able to document, with my camera still exiled to American soil. But one thing that ought to be mentioned: I got one of these. It's so cool.

3. I've also been delving into the wonderful world of flash. Previews of my animation prowess to be up soon.

4. More about the football/soccer. Emily and I went to the pub with Scott and Graeme to watch the game, and I think we both felt a bit of pressure being the only two girls in the pub. Well, there was another with her boyfriend/husband/brother but they left at halftime. I tried not to embarrass my husband, which he swears I didn't. But Emily- man, that girl knows her football! She made me proud.

5. We got our school pictures back today. Digital version to follow. I can't wait to send a 3x5 to my grandma and mother. I look so... in school.

6. Due to the dismal weather and lack of sunlight that is perpetrating my soul, I have made proactive measures to ensure my sanity this winter. I dyed my hair. Now before my mother tears her hair out, I just slightly dyed it. It's a very light but warm shade of red. It's more a strawberry blonde. Granted, the picture on the box was a lot redder, but even the box picture wasn't dark. So don't fear, I haven't turned to the dark side (pun intended), but I did feel that a bit of colour was what I needed to fight the winter blues. And so far it's worked. I like seeing my hair have a bit of colour. It's like a tan in summertime. Except it's FREAKING COLD.

7. It's freaking cold. I wore a scarf and gloves today but my ears froze so tomorrow I'm pulling out the old wooly hat. It's September, what?

8. I'm meeting my favourite Edinburgher on Saturday in Glasgow. We're gonna drink root beer at A&W and go Christmas window shopping and look at baby stuff (cos she's knocked up) and go to the Pram Centre. That is, if her gestating self can handle all the excitement. We may just sit in A&W and chit-chat for a million hours over a million root beers.

9. I think I have friends. I think. Outlook good. Signs point to yes.

10. I had a magnificent conversation with my best friend tonight on the phone. We haven't talked in ages, and we had so much catching up to do. It was great. I'm working on getting her to move here. Everyone would love her. Most of all me. She's the best.

11. I meant to stop at 10, but I just thought I'd mention that Scott's beard is like six feet long.

Monday, September 26, 2005

RENT the movie

Ok, this is freaking amazing. My friend Devon told me about this but I didn't 100% believe it could be possible until I saw for myself.

Ya'll, (this is so good, I'm saying YA'LL), this is my favourite, absolute favourite musical EVER. Ok, it's so good, I don't even care if I sound like a teenybopper fanzine, I LOVE RENT.

It opens in the US in November. UNFORTUNATELY it won't be released in the UK until FEBRUARY 2006. That's like A MILLION YEARS AWAY. I can't WAIT. This is one movie I will see in the cinema like 20 million times and then buy on dvd and watch a million times every week. This is amazing. I've got tears in my eyes because I know how beautiful this story is and how intense the music is and in February I want EVERYONE TO COME SEE IT WITH ME. I LOVE THIS MORE THAN THE FOOTBALL. I am so excited.

Go to the website and listen to the music and watch the trailers and everything. Wow. Wow.

(When I'm less worked up I'll tell you ALL about RENT.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Homesick Day

There's something about days off that make me homesick, I've noticed. Maybe it's the freedom from obligated thought that allows me to think of myself for longer than ten minutes. Here's why I'm homesick today:

1. I'm listening to Ben Folds Five. This album (the self-titled) reminds me very clearly of sophomore year. Sophomore year might possibly have been my most bipolar year of my life. In that year, I found myself to be inexcusably happy and unfathomably depressed from day to day. I know this as a fact because today I...
2. ... read my old journal. It gave me a headache. Reading those swings in my emotions stressed me out. Boy, was I crazy back then. Reading what I went through that year was painful. But I didn't cry for my old self until I read the 15th of February 2003 post (which of course, would've been the day after Valentine's). All it read was, "I think I'm going to be okay." I lost it then. For happiness. Because it was so true.

I decided today that I don't care if I'm American and I am more vulgar and coarse than the Scottish folks. I decided that I will never be comfortable if I only try to conform to the Scottish Way of Life. So my first change? I'm going to drink beer. Yes, beer. I'm going to order pints in pubs. I don't care if I'm a girl. I'm going to start being myself again and I don't care what kind of reaction I get from people. I am me, I am Lori *middle name* *maiden name* McFarlane and I am an American and I like beer and I am loud and I am emotional and I drive most people crazy. But I can't be a different Lori and I don't want to be.

I miss Arkansas because I was who I was and people liked me anyway. I am going to have to realise that I am now who I am and that person isn't necessarily someone else just because I live somewhere else. So I will drink beer. I will drink beer now. I have a Newcastle Brown Ale in my fridge, and I'm going to go drink it. And I'm going to play Ben Folds Five and I'm going to be me with you, whoever you are.

EDIT: I don't know if this was subconscious or a mere coincedence, but the song playing is "Best Imitation of Myself". Weird. (Highlighted lyrics below for you who do not know the song.)

I feel like a quote out of context,
With holding the rest,
So I can be for you what you want to see.
I got the gestures and sounds,
Got the timing down,
It’s uncanny, yeah,
You’d think it was me.

Do you think I should take a class
To lose my southern accent?
Did I make me up
Or make the face ’til it stuck?
I do the best imitation of myself....

Last night I was east with them
And west within
Trying to be for you
What you want to see.
But I can’t help it with you
the good and bad comes through -
Don’t want you hanging out
With no one but me.

Now if it’s all the same,
It comes from the same place.
And if my mind’s somewhere else
You won’t be able to tell
I do the best imitation of myself.

100 Things I Love About My Husband: 31-40

I realised I ought to change the name of these lists. These aren't reasons WHY I love my husband. I can't say WHY I do, I just do. I do because I can't help myself. I do because of everything, I just love him. But I can easily say what kind of things I love ABOUT him. [By the way, blogger just deleted #31-39 so hopefully I can remember what all I just wrote.]

31. He doesn't mind that I like crap music. (By the way, he just bought me the Ultimate Disney Princesses soundtrack, which made me so happy.)
32. He doesn't have JLS [Jealous Lover Syndrome].
33. He has a nice bum.
34. He always puts me first, above himself.
35. He is faithful.
36. He encourages me to go out with friends; he doesn't try to keep me all to himself. He knows how much I need friends. Cyndi Lauper would be proud. ("I want to be a girl who walks in the sun!")
37. *Censored* This blog is rated PG-13. ;)
38. He let me decorate our bedroom in pink and lavendar. (I included brown to make it a bit more masculine, though. A bit.)
39. Of all the barbecues he could've bought at Homebase, he came home with the pink one for me.
40. He is hilarious.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Face of Football(ers)

Blogging access has been denied me at work now. I don’t know if I can live any longer.

I am currently typing up this post in Word. I will have to email it to myself and post it from home. Gah.

The most amazing thing happened to me this morning on the train. I awoke from my morning slumber as the train slowed to a stop at Glasgow Central. I looked up and saw a face I recognised. He at the same time saw me with a look of curious recognition. I got off the train, walking somewhat beside him. He continued to chat to his friend, I continued to stifle yawns. As we parted ways, we both simultaneously looked back at each other, as if to double check that we really did recognise one another, but did not say or do anything.

Why is this amazing, you may wonder? Because it is the first time since I moved here that I have seen and recognised someone from my past. I haven’t had that experience yet. So far, every face has been new, every face has been unfamiliar. But today, a face was old, familiar. Those of you who have never moved to an entirely different place where you know absolutely no one may find it difficult to understand the feeling I experienced this morning, but perhaps those of you who have been where I am will understand. The warmth in my heart of seeing someone I recognised from another time prior to this time was terrific.

The guy I saw was no one particularly special. In any other circumstance, I would’ve acted the same, doing the whole looking-to-see-if-it-was-really-the-guy-I-thought-it-was, but I wouldn’t have paid any mind to it beyond that. But today, I felt at home. I felt like a normal person who saw people she knew, like in Cabot when you go to Wal-Mart and you inevitably see someone you went to high school with. I was sad when I moved here that I’d never experience that again. But already, only a year later, it’s starting to happen for me.

(Now I say this guy is no one particularly special, but in a way, that is false. He is actually a footballer who I used to see nearly every day when I worked in the coffee shop – who always ordered a medium latte with semi-skim milk – who has played for Chelsea and several other Pro England teams. In that way, he is someone quite special! Famous, even!)

Speaking of football (perfect segue) last night I attended my first Rangers game! The ‘Gers are mine and Scott’s team, though I’ve never actually watched a game, neither live nor on TV (or even heard one on the radio). But Jamie, at work, who is an avid Rangers supporter, had two extra tickets to the cup game last night against Clyde and he invited me and Scott. Well, after an afternoon full of bad luck and disaster, Scott was unable to get into Glasgow for the game and I was unable to go home to miss the game with him, so I ended up going with Jamie by myself, which I thought would be really awkward but turned out just fine. I felt like a right prissy prissy Princess showing up at a football game in my work skirt and dress top, Scott not being able to bring my change of clothes, but luckily I was at least able to purchase a pair of flat shoes at the train station for a 10’er to replace the heels I was wearing so I didn’t look like a complete priss (imagine going to the football in high heels!). And I know most of the rules of football (by the way, this is football as in soccer, for you Americans who aren’t thinking like a European) so I didn’t have to ask every three minutes, “What just happened? Why are we cheering? What team are we again? Which net-thing are we trying to kick the ball into? Was that us who just scored??”, which would’ve been probably what everyone around us was expecting me to do. But instead I watched intently, and I understood every play, except the off-sides rule, which I still don’t get. Oh, and I didn’t notice the time clock so at half-time when everyone jumped up and started cheering, I really was confused because I didn’t see anything on the pitch actually happen worth cheering for. It wasn’t until the players all filed off the pitch that I realised why we were cheering. But that’s all just football-virginity innocence, and I ain’t no football virgin no more!

Oh, I also felt like a football virgin when we came up to the stadium and I had Jamie’s friend’s season pass in my hand and the security guy asked to look in my bag but I didn’t know what he was saying so I showed him the card (which has no photo or anything on it, I’m so dumb) and he just looked at me like I was an idiot and repeated that he needed to see my bag. “Oh right, to make sure there’s no drink in it.” I said. “No, to make sure there are no guns.” “Ah, haha… Right. No, no guns, just a pair of shoes.” Gah, I’m an idiot. Where do I think I am, Cabot, Arkansas, watching the CHS Panthers beat Fort Smith?

At any rate, I loved it! The action, the crowd, the excitement, the whole atmosphere was brilliant! And it helps that I understand the game. I knew when to cheer and when to throw my hands up in the air and yell, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” The game got really intense in the second half when we were 1-1 with Clyde, then it got more so when Clyde scored another goal. Glaswegians are amazing. Some of the things they were shouting were straight out of a movie! It was brilliant, foul-mouthed, smoke-filled fun. I wanted to get in on the shouting, too, but I felt so patently American that I was a bit reserved. But once the heat was really on, I found myself shouting things like “C’mon! C’mon, boys!” (A few times I nearly shouted, “Atta boy!” but then I’d remember this wasn’t baseball, nor Arkansas.) Granted, the rest of the crowd was shouting Scottish Ranger-y things like “Mon, Gers!”, “Mon, Bears!” “Ya f***ing lazy b*stards!” and the like, but I couldn’t really get into that. At any rate, it was great fun, and basically, I’m addicted to football.

We won, 5-2, gaining 3 goals in overtime. I love the football.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Afternoon all.

Today is Lori & I's Anniversary! She's put up with me for a whole year!

To celebrate, we went to a performance of Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale" in the Theatre Royal. We were all fancily dressed, me in my suit and Lori in her little black dress. Nice. Although, no one else was dressed up really, so I felt a little overdressed. But Lori had fun.

The play itself was excellent. It was the last night of the run, I think, and the actors seemed really settled into the roles. It was extremely smoothly done. The only complaint I would have is the slightly ropey musical parts that were tacked on, but they weren't offputtingly bad.

Lori would be far better at telling you what was good and what wasn't, since I haven't actually read the play.

Tonight we shall head off for Pancho Villa, a Mexican restaurant in Glasgow. If they aren't booked solid, that is! But we have a back up plan of chimichangas if it doesn't work out. :).

Anyway, I'm having trouble writing in any sort of an interesting way, so I'll be off. I start uni tomorrow.

*bites nails*

Below is Lori's story of how we got together, in honour of our anniversary. It's a bit long, but it's cute so read it if you are so inclined.

How We Became the McFarlane Duo

This story requested by the Happy Husband. Though I doubt he expected such a thorough recount. I can't help it. I start writing, and I go into prose-mode. It's a hard habit I don't see any reason to break.

The story from our point of view starts back in 2001, but I believe from God's POV it must've started much earlier than that (like before time). In hindsight, I can see His plan really kick into action about a year before we met. This is where I think I'll begin the story.

I was a very young Christian- about four months old. For those four incredibly action-packed months, I'd been getting a very disturbing feeling... that I was supposed to be involved in overseas missions. This was severely out of line with my current aspirations to be a writer and editor/publisher. But the feeling could not be shaken, and I understood this to be of God. So, I got in contact with the one organisation I was most familiar with, Teen Missions Int'l, and offered my services as a leader for a team of teenagers. I expressed that I was interested in the Middle East, which is where my heart lay at the time, and said I'd be particularly interested in going to Egypt.

"Actually, the only two teams we need leaders for is Florida and Scotland. Are you interested in going to either of those places?" said the woman on the phone. Confused by what I thought God had been telling me, I told the woman I would have to pray about it and get back to her. I hung up the phone and instantly felt certain I was supposed to go to Scotland. But Scotland, Lord? Why would anyone need to be a missionary to Scotland? (I suppose I believed that heilan coos and bagpipes were enough to save any man from eternal damnation.) But this was no longer just a feeling I was having but a certainty. Not two minutes had passed when I called the woman back up and told her to Scotland I would go.

Fast forward to the the summer. In Scotland, our team's projects were to coordinate and run a Vacation Bible School (or as the Scots called it, a Kid's Club) for the kids living in the "schemes" or the projects. The first day we arrived on Oransay Avenue, we were met by hundreds of little devil-children greeting us with up-turned middle fingers and four-letter words that most of us had never even heard before. Our other project was to volunteer at the Haven, a rehab run by Teen Challenge. It was at the Haven when I finally realised why I'd been called to Scotland. Having had my own experiences with dabbling in drugs and having seen many of my closest friends' lives destroyed by drug use, I immediately loved with all my heart the addicts in this place. I realised that this is the kind of missions I was meant to be involved in.

Simultaneously, I was leading a group of 31 teenagers, each with his or her own experiences and circumstances and struggles with knowing God. Enter Scott.

Of course, it was only Enter Scott for me. Scott had been living his own 17 years prior to my arriving on Scottish soil. At this point, having been at University for a year, he had come to the conclusion that there was no God and had declared himself an atheist. He came around to the church to hang out with "the Americans" with his brother and sister (all of whom attended the church we were working with) and spent practically the entire summer with us. Little did I know that our presence was slowly changing Scott's mind about God.

Let it be said plainly - I did not like Scott. Let it be said equally plainly - Scott did not like me. For Scott had become involved with one of the girls on my team, and this caused an enormous amount of friction between myself and the girl. One of the most emphatic rules of Teen Missions is "No Pairing Off." Thus, I was constantly having to separate the two, causing enmity between us all. Scott, to me, was a trouble-maker, and I, to Scott, a Nazi.

Fast forward again, this time two years. Scotland and Teen Challenge continued to be a soft spot in my heart. I kept the Haven in my prayers and tried to get in touch with several TC centres around the mid-South area but no centres contacted me back. Finally, I contacted Wales, where a girls rehab was located and was immediately responded to. It was arranged that I would come visit and help out in Newport, where the actual street ministry took place. Excited about visiting the UK again, I began chatting online with my Scottish acquaintances about visiting Scotland as well. Re-enter Scott.

But of course, it was only Re-enter Scott for me. For he'd been living the last two years his own life. He had changed significantly. Though he still struggled with his faith, he no longer disbelieved in God. He had grown quite a bit over the years, taken an interest in theology and had become anxious to serve God. He, too, turned to Teen Missions, where he signed up to be part of their Missionaries to America team, a group of non-Americans who toured the US as missionaries. Scott and I began talking and started to realise how much we had in common. He expressed his disappointment that he wouldn't be in Scotland when I came to visit, and I promised to travel to one of the nearby states if he happened to come close by while I was still around.

My arrangements to go to Wales were coming along fantastically. I found a cheap ticket, had places to stay, had the full blessing of my parents (this being my first international trip taken on my own, and me still being only 21). However, though the Powers That Be were continually working in my favour for going, the same Powers were working against Scott's coming to the US. There were issues with his visa and passport, then issues with his college exam dates. TMI wanted him out there a week or two before his exams were over, and he couldn't arrange his exams for any earlier. It finally turned out that he wouldn't be able to go. We were both disappointed, but also a bit excited that we'd get to see each other while I was over. Scott promised to hang out with me while in Scotland and take me around the non-touristy areas.

When he and his brother picked me up at the airport, I was shocked at how different and grown up they both were. They, too, were shocked at how not-black-and-spikey my hair was and, I'd also like to believe, by how much cooler I was. Scott stuck to his promise, and we did lots together. We went to pubs and movies and ate fish and chips by the river. Already people were beginning to see what it would take us about another month to discover for ourselves.

One night, while staying with the Gaults, a family at Scott's church, Scott made an offensive joke in front of the group that hurt my feelings, and I retired to my bed. Lying in the darkness, I could hear everyone laughing and joking, and I shut my eyes, trying to go to sleep. Behind my eyelids, Scott's face appeared. He was tossing his long hair back the way he always did, and I opened my eyes. When I shut them again, his face and hair tossing returned. What the crap. Why am I thinking about Scott? I wondered. The next morning we had planned to go to a museum together. He was meant to arrive at the Gaults' around 10 in the morning. He was half an hour late, but it didn't matter because I had slept in. I woke up in a panic when I heard his voice in the hall and stressed out big time over the enormous zit that had appeared over night. Unshowered and zit-faced I went with Scott to the museum. Something had changed. There was a thing between us. There was a weirdness. There was a need to impress. We looked at art together and made pretentious comments. I read out an Arabic phrase embroidered in a tapestry. Scott talked of the ancient Egyptians. We were both trying to impress and dually impressed.

Then I was off to Wales. Scott and I emailed every day. If a day went by without an email, we both felt the significance (or assumed significance) of the spurn. We had an unspoken code. If he signed his email with a "Scott x", I signed with a "love, lori". If he didn't, I didn't. By this time we'd both admitted to ourselves what this all meant but weren't quite sure if the feeling was reciprocated.

It was harder on me than on him. One of the main things I'd asked prayer for from my friends and family was that I wouldn't meet a guy who would take my mind off my work for the Lord. I was extremely boy-crazy and had also just been out of a serious relationship. I had decided, and quite happily, too, that I would remain single. I believed that I could do far more for God if I remained single. But I felt that my emotions had betrayed me, and here I was, falling for a guy.

I explained this struggle with a woman from my church, via email. She asked me, "Why did you want us to pray that you wouldn't meet anyone? Did God lay that specifically on your heart?" The answer? No. Not really. I'd just wanted that prayer for myself. I didn't think a man is what I needed or wanted, and for all I could see, men only got in the way of what was really important. But she'd stumped me. I felt confused.

Back in Scotland, I stayed with Scott's family for the remainder of my trip. Things progressed. We held hands on the top of a mountain. We went out on a fancy date. We kissed. I remained confused.

As we ridiculous humans often do, we resorted to actually talking about our situation only at the end. I then explained my confusion to Scott. He was hurt but agreed we would slow things down and see what happened. Little did I know that Scott already had a suspicion that I would one day be his wife.

For the next five months we communicated through email, telephone and letters. We talked about everything, and we began to feel extremely close, despite our distance. I continued to grow spiritually and so did Scott. He arranged to come visit over Christmas. A few times, the stress of the situation and my confused state caused me to nearly break it off, yet each time, while in the moment of passionate frustration, contact with Scott was made impossible until the frustration passed and I no longer felt rash. Confused as I still was, I still at times couldn't help but see how strangely significant all of this seemed to be. I even sometimes allowed my mind to wonder what a future with Scott would be like.

About two weeks before Scott came out, we each had our own private epiphanies. At my Bible study, I suddenly broke down in tears and told all about the pain and hurt I was still feeling from my last relationship. I told all about my decision to be single and how that decision was based also on my past relationship. The group prayed for me and I went home feeling burdenless for the first time in almost a year. Finally free to see and feel clearly, I realised something so intensely solid that I could hardly put a name to it. It was love. I realised that I loved Scott. I realised that my love for him was nothing like the love I expected it would be like. It was so honest and deep and perfectly normal that I hardly knew what to make of it. Scott, almost to the very same day, experienced the same realisation.

He came to visit. After spending only a day with me, he told me he loved me. We'd talked about the "L" word before and had both admitted we weren't sure if we felt it. But now we both knew, independently of each other, that we did. I told him I loved him, too. But immediately I knew that wasn't it. That wasn't enough. Fresh in my mind was the book Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot, and I remembered her saying a man shouldn't say he loves a woman unless his next words were "Will you marry me?" Not only did I now realise I loved him, I realised I couldn't live without him. I wanted to marry him.

The next day, while taking a walk outside, I felt moody and quiet. Scott, not knowing what had gotten into me, continued to chat away about whatever he was talking about. Finally, I stopped walking, angry that he didn't know what was wrong with me. "Scott. Yesterday you said you loved me. But... but... I don't know what you mean by that!" I blurted. He stopped and looked directly into my eyes. "I said I love you, and I mean that I love you properly." Still uncertain of his meaning, I began, "But for how long..." Surprised, he responded, "Forever. Lori, I mean I want to marry you."

My heart burst into a million pieces and I dissolved into a million tears. Poor Scott, thinking he'd said something wrong, hugged me, confusedly. Once I'd regained a modicum of composure I told him I wanted to marry him, too, and thus we considered ourselves engaged. We considered buying a ring right then and there, but Scott decided he'd rather save up for one and get me one that was perfect. For three months we were "unofficially engaged".

This was the worst three months I'd ever lived through. It was in this same kind of unofficial engagement that my last relationship had ended. But this one did not end. I flew over to visit during Spring Break, where Scott presented me with the most beautifully hand-designed-and-made ring in the world and the sweetest down-on-one-knee-and-jumbled-up-from-being-passionately-overcome proposal any woman has ever received. I went home, not to see my beloved for another seven months.

From March to September we continued to communicate in the same way as before, through email and phone calls and letters. When he flew out in September for the wedding, we'd spent a grand total of only six weeks in each other's presence. Counting the week prior to the wedding, it amounted to seven. Yet we never worried about this, because we knew each other inside-out. A year of nothing but communication had taught us more about each other than many years of dating ever could. Besides, we could not help but see how masterfully orchestrated by God our whole relationship had been. We didn't need loud fireworks and writing in the sky to tell us it was meant to be; we needed only look at our love and lives. That spoke it all.

One year of marriage has brought out differences, selfishness, arguments and tears. It's also brought out laughter, commonalities, spiritual growth, overflowing love, unspeakable joy, spontaneous song and dance, romantic moments and strength. If we had it all to do over again, we wouldn't change a thing.

"You're worth the trouble and you're worth the pain,
you're worth the worry, I would do the same
if we all went back to another time
I would love you over." - Belle & Sebastian

Friday, September 16, 2005

100 Reasons Why I Love My Husband: 21-30

21. He's the sexiest, most handsome man I know.
22. He can (and does) grow a most fascinating and satisfactory beard.
23. He knows (or for the time being, is familiar with) like seven different programming languages.
24. If I ask him any random question about anything, he seems to always know the answer - from "What kind of bird is that?" to "Explain Einstein's theory of relativity again?" to "What is 00100011 in binary supposed to mean?" (I made up that number. I don't know binary. It's like Scott always says: "There are 10 kinds of people in the world- those who know binary and those who don't." I vaguely get it.)
25. He can do maths in his head. Basically the man is just a genius.
26. He is just the perfect size and shape for spooning.
27. He can admit when he is wrong and is not too proud to say he's sorry.
28. He is a credobaptist, non-cessationist Calvinist. :)
29. In Bible studies and in conversations about theology, I can trust that he won't say anything off topic or out of turn about Calvinism, because he is well-past any kind of "Cage Stage"*. (I don't yet trust myself.)
30. He really loves me.

*The "Cage Stage" is what we call a person who has reformed and thus goes about preaching Calvinism more relentlessly than he preaches, say, the Gospel, because he has been so "enlightened" by this new concept, and therefore ought to be put in a cage. By the way, Arminians can have a Cage Stage, too *cough Gavin*.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Week From Hell: Part Thursday

Wake up at a reasonable 5:15 and decide (after glancing at my hair on the way to the toilet) that I will take a quick shower. Shower water runs hot. Wash my hair in record time. Smell so fresh and so clean, clean.

I get dressed. I'm satisfied, even though my gray trousers are a bit too baggy. I blow-dry my hair and pull back the sides in barrettes, unconcerned that my hair is wavy and big.

I believe today will turn out different.


Step outside. The rain is pouring once more, but today I do not care because I have not fixed my hair anyway. I enjoy the train ride. I get to work and make a cup of tea. I turn on the computer with an aim to get back on track with my files and magazine. After my old programmes are reinstalled, I open the magazine to prepare for printing. An error message tells me links are missing. "Ah bugger," I think. "Of course, my links locations have moved." I begin relinking my photographs when suddenly I realise some of them really are missing. No bother, most of them are on the network folder. I open "My Computer" and discover all my network folder access is gone. With a heavy sigh, I begin a scratch note of things to be re-added to my computer.

As I relink I begin to notice that the magazine looks strange. Suddenly it occurs to me - the fonts have all changed. This is when I realise that I'd forgotten to save all my special fonts when they wiped my computer! Panic overcomes me. I try to restrain it. "I will simply go find the fonts I need and download them again." I go to the website where I get my fonts. "ACCESS DENIED" the school firewall tells me. I get more and more agitated. I think, "Okay, so I can't get 'arabolical' just yet, but 'CG Omega' is a standard font, so where is it?" Not in my Fonts folder anyway.

Suddenly, the full weight of the situation crashes upon me, and I become overwhelmed. "Of course! If I can't see the fonts because they are not on my computer, neither will the printers! I should've sent the fonts along with the publication!" Hot tears spring to my eyes. I excuse myself urgently and make a dash for the toilet before all the miserable tears begin pouring down my face.

In the bathroom, I allow the tears to just flow. It's been a horrible week, and now this! I realise that the printers are likely to have begun the process of "bleeding" the publication into their Mac format and probably have no idea that the fonts are completely wrong! The fonts (on my computer at least) had been temporarily replaced with a standard Arial type font, which could look valid (if the creator were one with no creative eye) and so why wouldn't the printers just accept it and begin the work?

I dry my eyes, knowing action must immediately be taken - but what? Tom, our liason with the printers, is teaching a class. I do not know the name of the printers or their contact information. I must stop them from their useless work, lest they charge us extra for the inconvenience or stop working with us because we are such unorganised, talentless sods, or worse!

Yes, yes, it is coming to me. I have emailed them before. Perhaps in their reply they have included a signature. If only I still have the email. I splash water on my face and return to my desk. I search for the email and find it. The phone number is there. I call the printers. I explain the situation. It is resolved. I suppose it did not occur to me how common this is, because they tell me that they always check the hard copy (which we have yet to send them) to ensure they are using the correct fonts. If no fonts are included by the creator, the printers will try their best to duplicate from what they have. I promise to send them the fonts (once I am able to locate them, I do not say out loud) along with the hard copy, and all is sorted.

The rest is history. An administrator comes to my computer and the firewall is lifted long enough to download 'arabolical' and we search the web to find 'CG Omega'. All is restored.


I spend a perfect evening with my husband. Things are starting to look up.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Week in the Second-to-Last House in Greenock (According to the Girl Who Lives There)

My eyes flutter open, groggily. The morning light is peaking through the Venetian blinds. Mmm. Wha...?

HOLY CRAP, IT'S HALF SIX!* "Crap, crap, Scott get up! We're late, we're late!" I jump out of bed. (Scott and I, in our sleep, have managed to switch sides. I'm confused. I jump out of the wrong side of the bed, trip on his shoes.) In a miserable panic, I assess myself in the mirror. Showered the night before but sporting pillow-dried coiffure. It's school picture day. "Of all the bloody days..." I murmer. My train leaves the station as I shove Scott off my side of the bed and plug in the straightener. I text Lynne. "Hey lynne, my alarm didnt in off, i just woke up. i'll be late. hopefully in by 9. sorry. lori."

In record time, I'm looking School-Picture-licious and Scott is dressed and ready for work, and we head off to catch the 7:30 train.


School Picture Day. I join my fellow staff members as we head down to the library in a huddle to get our pictures taken. My make-up is freshly applied, my hair freshly brushed. I sit on the stool sideways, face the camera and smile. Tilt my chin up, straighten my back, smile for too long. The only difference from my childhood is I get to heckle the teachers before and after me. I didn't get to do that as a kid. I save one guy's picture. He is tight-lip smiling and I cheer him on, telling him to "show us some teeth". He breaks into a laugh and the picture is snapped. He'll thank me.


Same day, my work computer sputters and dies. I try to back up my files to no avail. What feels like a lifetime of work flickers and cackles and threatens to jump. I can't even talk about it. My head hurts, and I go home.

I wake up every minute starting at 3:00am, terrified of over-sleeping again. I decide to curl my hair and go to work looking like Madonna or Gwen Stefani. I open the door in the pitch black this country calls morning and am greeted with torrents of rain splashing into my porch. I run to the car. We drive to the station. I get on the train. My hair is straight as a board, straighter than when I straighten it. My shoes are soaked and ruined.


Lunchtimes are to be treasured and impatiently anticipated here. Our resident chef makes lunch like nobody's busines. What will today have in store? I hope lamb tikka masala with naan bread and poppadoms. Oooh, or maybe a rib-eye steak with potatoes and veggies. Monkfish, perhaps?

Not today. Broth for the soup; haggis for the main meal.

Lynne and Jamie tell me haggis is lovely. They are excited. I shouldn't listen to them, as they both think black pudding is lovely, too, but I do. Three scoops of tatties, three scoops of neeps and two scoops of haggis. I enjoy the neeps and tatties. I enjoy the haggis less; it is okay, as long as I am not thinking about it. But I'm not bouncing off the walls waiting to have my next haggis dinner, either.


Scott unlocks the door to the house, and we enter. Per usual, we race each other to the toilet. Passing the guest room, I skid to a halt. All of our linens are piled on the ironing board. After a few pons connect in my brain, I realise. "New shower, Scott!" I cheer. We look in the bathroom. Sure enough, our new shower has been installed. And the wonderful maintenance man has been so kind to also leave his crap all over the place. The bathroom looks like it had been ransacked. The tub is full of dirt, plaster, copper wire clippings, plastic bags and a footprint. The floor is covered in the same. "What happened to our lamp?" Scott calls from the bedroom which he has wondered into. His bedside lamp is lying on the neatly made bed (neatly made by ourselves, that is) completely taken apart. I trip on my shower caddie which is lying by the door.

I actually wake up to my alarm. My subconscious has regained its faith in the old machine. I curl my hair because once again, I look like Tina Turner. The curling job turns out to be a disaster. Unfortunately, the morning is incredibly nice and the curls remain all day.

Mid-morning, my computer is taken away from me for repairs. I am given a laptop in the meantime which will hover precariously on the edge of my desk all day, given it's too-short cord. Without PageMaker or PhotoShop, I spend my morning surfing for articles on Jessica Simpson and her scandalous video. I wait impatiently for lunch.


The cafeteria is yet another disappointment. Mushroom soup or pork dijonaise. Not keen on pork, I choose the mushroom soup, which I top with shredded cheese to make more pallatable. Then I head off to the cafe with Jamie. Over Irn Brus we have a most in-depth conversation about politics, abortion and evolution. All in one hour. He knows and respects my beliefs as a Christian, making these conversations possible. I am a moderate, pro-life six-day creationist. He is a slightly left-wing, cautiously pro-choice God-believing evolutionist. It is interesting and fruitful. I use words like "fatalism" and "Newton's law" and "inerrant in it's original form". I feel smart.


It is now. I have an hour before I finish work. I shall meet Scott at his parent's house later tonight. I miss him. I always miss him when we are apart. I shall make curry for dinner, unless the in-laws feed me first. I love Scott.

To be continued....

*Just for the record, how crap is it that waking up at 6:30am is considered over-sleeping?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

100 Reasons Why I Love My Husband: 11-20

11. He sings to me constantly, making up the songs as he goes along.
12. He writes real songs for me and plays them on his guitar in bed.
13. After a fight, he always makes sure to heap loads of love on me to assure me that we are still going to be okay.
14. He's not too tough to cry in front of me.
15. He's beautifully sensitive and loving.
16. He needs me.
17. He makes up characters like the Invisible Monkeys and the Face Bug and then sicks them on me. (The Invisible Monkeys tickle and the Face Bug dances on your face and ears.)
18. He insists that I'm clever and compliments my work.
19. He held me last night as I cried over my cousin leaving for Iraq and prayed for him with me.
20. He buys me stuffed toys all the time. Even when I insist I have too many. He knows I don't mean it.

Monday, September 12, 2005

100 Reasons Why I Love My Husband: 1-10

I've detected an unsatisfactory negativeness in myself lately and in life and in love. Everywhere I look it seems I only see unhappiness, deceit and treachery. I've been made starkly aware lately that "everyone" cheats on their spouse, that "no one" stays married, that lasting happiness in marriage is just a mirage for the naive, and it's been wearing me down something awful. No one seems to know marital bliss anymore; it's all marital blisters. And I've been hardpressed to find any sort of marital Blistex on the market, so I'm joining forces with the many others (the ringleader being The Happy Husband) who have embarked on this endeavour to plough through the marital blizzard and tell you 100 Reasons I Love My Husband. As these others have done, I will go 10 at a time, to save your interest and my ability to be thorough.

1. He loves Jesus.
2. He believes it is important to ground his beliefs in the Bible and not culture or tradition.
3. He loves to eat anything I cook.
4. Instead of throwing my stuffed toys off the bed when he is ready to sleep, he carefully sets them aside in a comfortable sitting position.
5. He tells me I look beautiful and sexy literally every day. Even when I'm sick.
6. In the most unlikely of times, he will take my hands and start dancing a jig with me to whatever song is or isn't playing at the time.
7. He drinks Guinness, not Stella or Bud.
8. He thinks I'm funny.
9. He thinks I'm an amazing poetess.
10. The way he looks closely at me with his big brown eyes when I am sad makes me feel like no one in the whole evil world could ever break in between us and hurt me.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tess of the d'Urbervilles

A Laugh at My Own Youth

Required summer reading in eleventh grade, I believe. Didn't read it until we came to it in class. I loved the book. Or rather, I loved the story. I read *most* of it, skimming the boring parts and missing chapters in order to catch up for the quizzes, but getting my mind around a majority of it. I took notes in class in my book. I kept the book always and regarded it as one of my favourites but never found the time to re-read it.

Until now.

Boy, is the situation different now. Not only is the book a completely different book than I remembered it, I now come to it from an entirely different perspective, with an entirely different worldview and with a vastly larger understanding of the context.

As a fifteen year old, I knew nothing about Victorian society. I hadn't read enough Victorian period literature to know how pertinent the story was. I also basically had no literary criticism experience. The notes I wrote were so painfully stolen straight from a teacher's mouth (and probably misquoted and horribly misused) and are really quite aside the point.

Reading the book now, the same copy as I used all those years ago, is quite an amusing, as well as enlightening, experience. I cannot help reading the notes scrawled along the edges, and each time, the notes make me smile at myself. "Foreshadowing". "Tess's Appearance". "Red means sex". Hehe. Did I even know what foreshadowing was?

Oh well, anyway, it's important to say I still love the book. Actually reading it makes a huge difference. And I read it now in light of all the other Victorian novels I've read between age 15 and 23, and it makes so much more sense.

In Victorian times (as well as probalby ALL the times, excluding the 20th century), it was rather common, and even expected (at least by those observant novelists and the majority of men, though most times not by the womenfolk) for a man to descend upon his wedding night with a bit (or a lot) of past conjugal experience. Women, however, were fully expected to approach marriage as innocent, frightened honeybees. Many, many novels involve a pure woman coming into marriage. Most often, we, the readers, are aware of the husband's past flings, but this is not usually important to the novel. It is a side note, it's mostly a given. We read on about the sweet wifey and her struggles with her husband or her affairs or whatnot and that's the crux of the story.

We rarely, if ever, spend anytime thinking about the woman our hero has his past experience from. She's insignificant, as she should be, Victorian novelists would believe, and we need not think of her anymore. That is what is so significant about this book. Thomas Hardy took one of those insignificant fallen women and told us her story for a change. And what do we find, but a woman, just like me, just like you girls, just like the innocent bride in other stories - a woman with a past, a present, a future and a sin.

It's no wonder Victorians cast so many stones at Hardy for this book. How dare you make us sympathise with such a woman? She's horrid, she's sinful, she's tainted, she's a bad example for our children and wives. But Hardy also understood that she was a woman. She was one of many women who fell and were thus cast out of society forever, out of sight, out of mind.

Which brings me to a point far more serious than I originally intended. Grace. Tess was denied grace because of her sin, and what is worse, was denied grace by a man guilty of that very same sin. It is so poignant and so clear to us how wrongly Tess is treated, yet it can go by without a single thought of ourselves and our own tendency to treat others with the same judgment. I think of how many people I deny grace to, on account of this or that, when really, that person is no different than I. How many times have I fallen but been allowed to rise again because of grace? Conversely, how many times have I labeled someone else as fallen and instead of holding out a hand to help them back up, have kicked the dust in his face and tottered off?

I think I'll leave it at that, since it's something I ought to think about.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Self-Conscious Redneck

Though it would be untrue to say I feel unsettled in Scotland, I do believe it would be very fair to say that, settled as I am becoming, I am still far from comfortable in my own skin on another soil. Sure friends are slowly being made and I'm spelling correctly with S's and not Z's, but I am so very conscious of every move I make, every word I say, every joke I crack, aware that I am expected now to be British and not justified when I am American.

I am aware that Americans (at least Southerners) and Britons are both genteel and mannerly, yet is starkly different ways. As a Southerner, I am apt to smile politely at strangers, smile a hello, smile a thanks. In the South, this is friendly and considerate. No one is a stranger, at least not in the superficial sense. It is indeed false, but it is sincere all the same. Here, a smile is awkward, making people look away uneasily. Yet a "thanks", "cheers", "thanks" is the proper way of addressing everybody for everything. Also popular is the "sorry", "pardon me", "so sorry" superfluousness when one does anything. It is equally false and equally sincere. I am fully aware of myself in these situations, noticing when I haven't pardoned myself adequately when bumping into someone at the station or thanked someone enough for the coffee brought to my table.

I am overly aware of the jokes I make - Are they inappropriate? Do they translate? Is that okay to say? Did I just say something I shouldn't have? Did they just take that wrong? I observe those around me and the things they say and absorb them for my own reference later - Well, so and so made a similar joke yesterday so I think it's okay that I said that. And so on.

Similarly, I watch myself when I eat or drink with others. I am careful to use my knife and fork correctly, though I've never learned the correct way. I mimic the people across from me. I grade myself on my performance, based on a scale of what I perceive as their A+ work. I notice every guesture I make that may be considered vulgar. I admonish myself for every inappropriate (or what I perceive as possibly inappropriate) act, such as biting my nails or adjusting my skirt or picking the food out of my teeth. I believe myself to be viewed as a loud, vulgar Arkansas hick. I believe that their perception of me created by me is true.

I spend so much time worrying what other people think of me, that if it weren't for Scott constantly reminding me that I am fine, I would quite possibly dissolve into a puddle of nervousness and die.

I keep expecting to get back to normal, back to where I once was, self-assured, non-chalant, happy and confident. But I'm seeing that it's going to take a long time to get there. I suppose my worth has always been based on what people think of me; it's just that in Arkansas people thought I was fine and here I expect people don't.