All in In Defense of

In Defense of Working in Food Service

My time in food service started like many others. I was your typical suburban 16-year-old girl in want of nothing at all except for one really big thing: A car to call my own. In the high school parking lot full of Hondas and Toyotas, I wanted to be different. Something about the square taillights of the 2005 Volkswagen Jettas spoke to me. So, I took my talents to the local sandwich shop where my friend worked in order to start saving up for my very first junker vehicle. Ah, sweet rites of passage. 

In Defense Of Owning Too Many Books

One night years ago, I was so excited over the books I would someday read that I couldn't sleep. As a child the happiest moment of my week was driving home from the public library with enough armfuls of books to last the weekend. Then in early high school my grandmother encouraged me to keep a reading log, providing the motivation to finish a volume.

In Defense of Running Away

I always start by explaining that I was only 19.

 I could say that I was young and foolish, that I trusted my heart more than my head. I could tell you what I did was impulsive, a little crazy, and completely out of character. But instead, I just say that I was 19, and trust that you understand.

In Defense of Verbing

What would you do if I returned from a weekend unplugged and said, “I’m so happy to be oned with my iPhone again?” Or if I came back from a wedding and remarked, “The oneing of Josh and Julie was beautiful?”

In Defense of Fantasy

The sky cracks an eyelid and yellow sunbeams flood the surface of the earth. Standing on a hill above my house, the sunlight glitters, yellow gold over a sea of rolling green hills and I breathe in the cold air. It’s Middle Earth all around me and my heart finds the place that is both home and not home, familiar and yet brand new. At times like this, I pity the mortals who have never read about Smaug in all his fearsome glory, who never heard of the Ents, and who walk through the world seeing everything as ordinary, while I stand and breath in magic.

In Defense of Punctuation

Because I like to waste my time, I recently took an “OCD test” from a link on Facebook. I scored 100%. The test confidently explained that I “have a killer eye for spotting the tiniest, most invisible inaccuracies, errors, and mistakes” and that “it’s very important to [me] to correct them.” (It said it’s okay, though--I just need to “give myself a break sometimes.”)

In Defense of Paying Attention

This winter is one where the falls of Minnehaha creek have frozen, and on a sun-filled Sunday in January, my fiancé and I slipped and dangled on hand rails, past the don’t enter signs, down the ice-packed steps to the river. The unexpected thaw swarmed the park with tourists, joggers, parents gripping the taut arms of bundled and unsteady toddlers. I was there because of too many days inside my apartment, hiding from an all-too-familiar Minnesota winter, bent over my last semester of undergrad homework. We were all in need of stretched muscles, some tart air in our lungs.

In Defense of Young Love

For years I’ve joked about writing a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye...And it French Kissed Me Back. I grew up in a conservative evangelical Christian culture in which Joshua Harris’ 1997 I Kissed Dating Goodbye was the sacred text of soul-patched youth ministers everywhere. I can’t summarize Harris’ treatise better than Wikipedia: “The book focuses on Harris' disenchantment with the contemporary secular dating scene.” 

In Defense of Slow Art

I remember when I first discovered Bob Ross. I would sit on the edge of my parents' bed and watch, dumbfounded, as little swipes of his brush turned into forests and swirls became white-capped waves. To me, this was fast art--something tangible and beautiful that came much quicker than I could ever replicate. 

In Defense of Dreams

Just a few short years ago, my values and passions seemed almost tangible. Every day I could taste them, and I fashioned them to my dreams of the many somedays yet to be told. I wanted a husband and children, to be a learner and dig my nails into the dirt of the world that was so close to my fingertips I could smell it. 

In Defense of the Sensitive Heart

Try scrolling through any form of social media without intersecting with a post or article that makes you sick to your stomach. I dare you. Nearly impossible, right? In a world where pain, turmoil, and violence come through loud and strong, nothing seems easier than to shrink back. Nothing seems safer than hiding--especially for those of us endowed with the particular grace of sensitivity.

In Defense of Poetry

It’s inevitable in a small-talk-kind-of-setting: you’ve just met someone on an airplane, or at a party, or at church, and they ask, “What do you do?” If I were honest when faced with this question I would answer, “I’m a mom” because that is how I spend the majority of my week, but that can be a conversation ender. 

In Defense of Living out Loud

As a tiny, frizzy haired kindergartener with an affinity for catching the attention of everyone I met, I made the walk to the portables stationed next to my red brick elementary school a few times a week. I still contend I needed speech therapy because my “r” and “w” tended to swap places. My mom says I made the trip out to the portables to learn to slow down when I spoke.

In Defense of Running for Joy

Myth: You run for your health. Truth: You run for the joy of being alive. So read the quote on the first page of my new running log, given to me by my marathoner of a mom. I underlined the words with a little surge of delight, sprawled on my dorm room bed. Yes, I thought. For the joy!

In Defense of Pink Hair

I didn’t know her name, but I always noticed her. We usually showed up in the girls’ bathroom at the same time for our post-lunch lipstick touch-up, and I would surreptitiously check out her platinum blonde hair dyed hot pink at the ends. I wanted to be her. 

In Defense of Eating Cereal for Dinner

“Thirteen going on thirty”—that’s how my parents described me as a tween. If I had to guess, I was probably one of the only newborns on the planet that exited the womb dreaming of toddlerhood. By age eight, you could find me regularly stuffing two plump water balloons into my bikini tops and applying Dr. Pepper chapstick in front of the mirror as if it were the perfect shade of red.

In Defense of Traveling Solo

"Are you lonely in Costa Rica?"

The question threw me off guard. I’d been chatting with my new Italian friend about our families, our jobs, our previous travels. It took me a minute to realize he didn't mean the question as a creepy pickup line. With his limited English, it was his way of asking, "Are you traveling alone or with friends?"