Why La La Land would’ve wrecked me if I were still 22

There is a gaggle of girls in this coffee bar spoiling the ending of “La La Land” and I take umbrage. They are loud and sighing and I’m annoyed.

But I should warn you that this post probably contains a spoiler or four, as well.

Like the rest of earth that needed to see what would happen if Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling put on tap shoes and started singing, my beloved and I went to Los Angeles last night for a couple of hours. We also went back to our twenties when we were full of friend-roomies and durrnnk parties and all the ideals our 22 year-old hearts could contain. I would not go back to that time on a permanent basis, though. I needed Jesus and a budget more than I can articulate.

lovey.tractor

We loved “La La Land” like the rest of the universe. We were wrecked by it, too. From this vantage, though, Loverpants and I can safely wonder and wander through all the What Ifs and not be completely devastated. We are committed to the happiness and holiness of each other and our children and right now that looks like trading off time to write blog posts and play frisbee in equal measures.

However, if I had seen this film when I was 22 and was fully convinced I needed to move to NYC and get an MFA and find my voice in the basement of moody unnamed coffee bars, I probably would have tore a page out of main characters Mia and Seb’s playbook. They decided they needed the space to pursue their own dreams. Their creative endeavors could not come to fruition if they stayed together in the same geography, looking up at the same stars from the same latitudes and longitudes.

And that’s a lie I so wanted to buy when I was in my early 20s. The lie that one can *only* pursue creative dreams when given the maximum space and resources one can afford. It all seemed easier to clean house to make space for more short story drafts than to have to compromise with another whose time and talents pulled equal rank.

I tried to break up with Loverpants and he with several times. I felt ashamed that I was doing the un-feminist thing by moving to be closer to him after college. Even a month before our wedding, I was still fighting to get into law school until I realized that law school wasn’t what I wanted. I just wanted stable professional footing. Even more than than that I wanted a happy, stable marriage. I deferred law school and ultimately never went and have exactly zero regrets.

Throughout our relationship and marriage, we have pursued various degrees, moved to support one another’s professional dreams. I was pregnant and adjusting to life with a baby for much of grad school. Some would say these were not ideal circumstances, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. They added a richness and a texture to every pursuit. I worked harder and more efficiently because I had a baby who napped for two hour windows. My degree mattered to me because I wanted to make my daughter proud. Loverpants built a private practice from our kitchen table. I wrote a book while rocking our son to sleep. Time and Fit are the non-negotiable factors in a relationship’s survival, whether starry-eyed millennials or obedient Dave Ramsey-like Baby Boomers.

who is johnny bravo w/ these ladies?

Mia and Seb’s relationship is familiar, I’m sure, to many creative dreamers who don’t want to trump one another’s artistic aims. It’s familiar to me but allow me this microphone: It’s not the only narrative that will net a Mostly Happily Ever After. Partnership adds something wonderful to the creative life, whether one’s role is co-author or sideline cheerleader. I’m glad to have been able to play both roles and look forward to wearing a many more hats before the curtain falls.

Here’s to the ones who dream. Foolish as they may seem. Here’s to the hearts that ache. Here’s to the mess we make.

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5 things I am hearting right now

I am in a season of massive clean-out. If I were pregnant, I’d call it full-on nesting mode, but nobody preggo here. Except for maybe my garage (recently purged of students’ hockey sticks stored for the summer and other detritus). My garage might be pregnant with possibility. Yikers. I’m also cleaning out my office at the university–more on this later.

Marie Kondo (Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up) told us to examine the joy that sparks from our possessions and I imagine like most folks, it’s a whole lotta junk. The following, however, are a few of the things that are sparking joy in my life. Some affiliate links may follow but this is in no way a paid post. Kendraspondence is merely a wannabe lifestyle blog, just waiting for Gwynnie’s goop level status.

1. The famously oh-so-buttery LulaRoe leggings. I was skeptical about the one-size-fits-all leggings since my stubby legs result in a BFF relation$hip with my tailor. Color me surprised when the LLR leggings my friend Kimberlea sent me fit perfectly with a delightful cuffing at the ankle. If you don’t have a LulaRoe consultant yet, consider joining my friend Kimberlea’s FB group. Shoot her an e-mail (lularoekimmy at gmail dot com) and she may add you. She does Pop-Up shops on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Thanks for the butter legs, Kimberlea!
Thanks for the butter legs, Kimberlea!

2. The First Five App. Lysa TerKeurst just wanted her kids to dig into the Bible first thing each morning. Her daughter, a new college student, told her mom what a difference her Bible study mentors made in encouraging her to spend the first five minutes of the day in the Word. TerKeurst was inspired to create this app that serves as both an alarm and a five minute-ish devotional on your phone. The devotionals are very focused and the app itself is aesthetically lovely as it is functional. Available on Apple/Android.

3. Pley.com – This service has saved summer. Parents, you know how Lego sets are uber spendy and the proprietary pieces are all very clever but half the fun is just putting it together for the first time? Pley.com lets your kids “test-drive” just about any awesome toy under the sun. Then you send it back and get another. The website reads, “It teaches children to share and conserve the planet by reducing the amount of toys that ends up in landfills.” Obviously we had the most noble of interests at the fore of our reasons for queueing up this subscription-based “service” for the wee ones this summer and it has been a huge hit. Hat tip to Loverpants who was all over this biz.

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4. This recipe. It was just so stupid delicious. Even though it’s 104 degrees with 500% humidity right now. It’s worth turning on your oven.

Feta Sweet Potato Quiche

5. The Shalom in the City podcast with Osheta Moore. I met Osheta at a conference this past fall. Her heart for shalom–creating wholeness where there is something lacking/hurting–is sincere. The guests she interviews are chosen carefully and the questions she asks are erudite. I’ve learned about so many things anyone can do to bring shalom to his/her community. One takeaway has been that if you are a parent who cannot always serve as a room parent, you can offer to help with auxiliary tasks for your child’s classroom or for an under-resourced school. Examples include cutting out letters for a teacher’s bulletin board during your weekend free time, or offering to do any outside-the-normal-business-hours chore that a teacher needs for his/her class.

Shalom-Steps-6

And you? What are you loving lately?

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The least funny thing on the internet

I had not met the acquaintance of Angelina Belle until this morning, and maybe I’ve just encountered her internet alterego, but I’ve been feeling a certain way for the rest of the day.

Ms. Belle posted a video to Facebook called “A list of instructions for all you men out there who want to understand women (;” She adds a disclaimer, “This only really works if you two are talking / dating… if she no like you and you a creep, these don’t apply to you!” which only marginally qualifies her message as less offensive.

In a sampling of things women often say, which roll in back-to-back flash spurts, Ms. Belle offers a part/counterpart of “When she says…” versus “What she really means.” Examples include, “When she says, ‘Leave me alone,’ Ms. Belle counters, ‘What do you do? Yes, that’s right! You stay!'”

Having been a woman who speaks for herself for the better part of 35 years (which apparently makes me eligible to run for president) I can say with some measure of confidence that I do not need an Angelina Belle anger translator. I have never ever wanted someone to stay whom I’ve just told to leave me alone. Not a harassing guy on the subway, not a megalomaniac boss, not a lover who is driving me all kinds of crazy. President Obama may appear to need the anger translator of Key & Peele, but should the presidency fall into my hands, I’d hope an internet entertainer wouldn’t flip my script just because I am a woman.

Ms. Belle goes on to clarify that only when a woman calls the police should you really leave her alone because, “Damn! This girl actually means what she says…which is really rare.”

Let that settle in your mind for a minute. We should expect that women will rarely say what they mean, and only when armed authorities are called in should we take them seriously.

Perhaps the most harmful thing that Ms. Belle espouses is a belief that women’s “‘NO’ can mean yes and her ‘yes’ can mean no…the last two can be a little tricky so you have to watch for her tone.”

Here is what I say to that. See if you can watch for my tone.

This.
Is.
Why.
Rape Culture.
Is a Thing.

When the lines of no and yes are so blurred that we are supposed to be tone monitors, we have a problem. When women are painted as incapable of meaning what they say when they say NO, we’ve got a communication crisis.

On her Facebook page, Ms. Belle offers a signpost that says, “Please do not take my jokes and sarcasm the wrong way. I exaggerate to create humor. I just want to make people laugh :)”

If people had not found Ms. Belle’s video funny, I’m sure I wouldn’t have stumbled upon it. Obviously, there is humor to be found in the chronic double-speak women are inclined to use. As Ms. Belle points out, when she says, “If you want,” she really means, “No.” I suspect every woman knows what this is like. We don’t want to be painted a diva who must always get her way. And why is this? Why do we as women resort to passive-aggressive speech patterns, to relinquishing control, to living a life fearful of being branded the bitch?

Here are a couple of places we might start to look:
Are strong women who speak their minds celebrated in the media or are they often vilified, portrayed as shrew-like, unmanageable?

Are there enough arenas where women show strength of character and competition other than so-called reality programs where women are belligerently fighting over a potential husband?

Are young girls encouraged to speak their minds in school, rather than prefacing what they say with, “I might be wrong but…” or “This might sound kinda crazy but…”

Are we training up young men to remember their privilege can be used to empower those whose voices are often marginalized, whose strength is often compromised? That they are at their strongest when they are lifting up another?

In her parting thoughts, Angelina Belle recommends that men “just be” a mindreader.

In one of Christ’s parting thoughts, he said, “Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one.” (Mt 5:37) I’m going to trust that the reader of hearts was on to something.

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