The Fabulous Familiar

Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary...

Sunday, January 30, 2011


This is the closest "The Fabulous Familiar" has come to resembling my wonderful cousin Hannah's adorable blog, "The Freckled Key," which artistically delves into her arts, crafts, recipes and travels. I have taken on a little project of my own.

Being a poor graduate, I've had to kind of make the best of free stuff. My grandparents gave me some of their 70s furniture that resided in their game room. I was a little worried about if I could make this furniture work with my style, but I think I have managed to make it happen. Pretty good for the mean time. :)

Check out some pictures.

The Wind-Up Toy

Sometimes, I must admit, I am like a wind-up toy. Stick me in an open land, wind me up and watch me wander all over the place until I stop. I will occasionally tip over if an object gets in my way and make that really obnoxious sound that alerts the nearest person that I am still wound up, but not making headway. Subsequently flick me back onto my feet and I will continue scampering every which way.

I thought I was satisfied with this hurried life of mine. I felt that when my winding contraption gave that final click and I was stuck in a still, solitary state, that I would go absolutely mad.

So I ignored the signs, the quiet whispers,

Telling me to rest, to find a good book and curl up with it, to take time out to just talk to God.

Instead, I stubbornly went after my own ambitions, thinking rest, prayer and solitude were for those less determined.

In its place, however, I found that those who neglect such things end up with mono. And job disappointment.

Both were like large stop signs to me. If this isn’t mono, it is truly its twin sister. It sucks all the energy out of you; it produces viral sores on the mouth and tongue, and slowly makes food lose its appeal (and for those of you who know me, food hardly ever loses its appeal!)

I must admit that the first day spent in bed was not one of my best days. I had just gotten under the covers, coping with my new diagnosis, and the phone rings. Seeing that it is the area code from a job I had been wanting, I actually manage to answer with a voice that slightly resembles me on a good day.

“Is this Ashton?”

Disregarding my initial notion to say, “What’s left of her,” I sweetly say, “Yes, it is,”—fighting the gunk that is trying to clog my airways.

My forced smile gradually begins to sink as I catch the main parts of a “We went with someone with more qualifications” speech. Before I could close the deal with a sense of professionalism, the doctor’s voice begins to ring through again: “I’m almost positive you have mono. We’ll do a blood test in 7 days to confirm.” I choke up slightly, but politely thank the girl for letting me know.

Perhaps I overly share in my writing, but I only do it because I know others of you have been there. And I know that by choosing realness, I am letting you know that your thoughts have been thought before, your feelings have been felt before.

I use that to preface the following: I spent the next several minutes calling out to God. I would like to say that I said nice things, things that could go in a book and inspire generations to come, but I didn’t.

I was hurt. I was sad. And yes, I was a tad angry.

That’s the thing with us wind-up toys. We wind ourselves up and then are disillusioned enough to feel like our mechanical, overworked ways are the Lord’s ways. Then we look ridiculous when we’re stuck in a corner, still moving our legs like we’re making progress.

We don’t get to where we wanted to go and then we look up at the toymaker like, “Hey, why did I even work myself to death if I’m not going to get anywhere?”

That’s when he looks down at us and softly admits, “You didn’t have to. My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

I am proud to say that the last few days have become better than the first. My throat has never felt worse, but my heart has never felt better. I am more fatigued than I have ever been, but I have also never been so aware of God’s strength.

It took forced quiet time for me to realize how important a personal relationship with God is; and how moments of peace and prayer feed that relationship like gasoline on a fire.

{“Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”} 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Job Hunt

My black and white dress and red sweater hang up in the bathroom. I brush my teeth for an extra 30 seconds, nervously going over what I'm going to say. It dawns on me that shaving before an interview is probably fairly important so I quickly begin the process, staring down at my phone for the time. Realizing it's almost time to be on my way, I begin shaving in double time.

A very sharp pain begins to throb around my ankle. I mumble, 'Great,' under my breath, figuring it was a tiny nick on my ankle. I go on with my make-up routine and mind preparation. I drop something on the floor.

When I bend over to pick up the item, I see a pool of blood around my feet. Forgetting my earlier shave, I immediately begin to think I am dying. I have just begun the job-searching process and the stress has already taken its toll on my malfunctioning body that has gone into hemorrhage mode.

I put Band-Aid after Band-Aid on the wound, but it is quickly overcome. I finally put a large bandage around the injured area. 'This sure doesn't match my outfit,' I mumble to myself.

Slightly defeated already, I make it to the store. "How are you doing, mam?" says the greeter. I irrationally feel like he can see the bandage around my ankle, which by this time, has probably tripled in size. I take a deep breath and say, "I'm doing well, thank you." I give myself bonus points for saying "well" instead of "good." Surely they notice details like that, right?

They ask me to tell them about myself; I wonder if this elicits my experience with online dating sites or if they just want me to read my carefully doctored resume aloud. I figure a little bit of both will suffice.

Fast forward to the next day:

I'm almost to the office and I look down and quickly peruse my shirt to see if any crumbs reside. I am known for getting more food and make-up on my clothes than in my mouth or on my face. Instead, where my sparkled buttons on my cardigan should have been, I saw nothing but black material. Irrational once again, I figure that my buttons must have fallen off for an initial second. When that made absolutely no sense, I quickly realize that my cardigan is inside out. Nothing says professional like, "I can't dress myself." I flip the sweater around, fall out of the car and apply pressure to my bandage to make sure it's secure. Leaving a half-mangled bandage on a possible boss's floor is more traumatic than a wardrobe mistake.

I have another interview tomorrow, and I can't wait to see what my crazy life has in store for me. Everyone has their own advice for you before you enter the job hunt process, most of which can be summed up by, "Be yourself." So laugh all you want, but I am following this wisdom fervently. It's hard to let interviewers know the true answer to "Who are you?"

The truth is, I'm not a fancy business suit, crisply ironed. I'm an outfit I hurriedly picked up at Target because the interview suddenly came up; I'm a bandaged ankle, but I keep on walking. I'm an inside out sweater that hopes my inner beauty outshines sparkling buttons. I'm a girl with broccoli in between my teeth who keeps on smiling.

And one of these days I know I will find a job that appreciates my gumption; my ability to learn-- and laugh as I do. This process isn't easy. It's printing out resumes on expensive paper, only to be told to apply online. It's reading a description that sounds appealing and finding that the only requirement is that you can carry 150 pounds. It's showing up at a location and being greeted by barefoot, pregnant women who want to know "what you want." I wish I could say that these were hypothetical and that my resume is not displayed on my parents' fridge like a 1st grade report card. But I can't. It's life.

I need your prayers as this process commences. Not for un-bandaged knees and perfect outfits put together, but for a strong heart and spirit. And maybe when I see those qualities radiating within my own being, others will begin to see it too.