Sunday, April 17, 2011

my name is martha

It's been an entire week since I've last updated. Oh criminy. My mind has definitely been distracted. I guess you could say I've been hanging out in Narnia all week, but that's for a different post.

This one is about Martha.

This is an exerpt from a longer piece I wrote for a class last semester, and it's been sitting in my over-flowing letter box I keep under my bed, full of letters and special mail I've received the past year. It is very dear to my heart.  But so is this essay. Since I don't have much to relay in the blogging world, I wanted to post this essay because it's one of the pieces of writing I am most proud of:

* * *

When I was somewhere between six and eight years old I begged my mother to let me change my name to Martha. "Nina" was not a name that I identified with. For one, as a child I had a perpetually stuffy nose. So anytime anyone would ask me for my name, instead of clearly and accurately pronouncing "nina" it would come out like "Dneenda" and I would either gag on the little bit of mucous lodged in the back of my throat or have to repeat my name until people stopped thinking my name was "Deena."

Martha suited me much better.

My six to eight-year-old self idolized the name Martha. It was a name I coveted, one I desperately wished my mother had picked for me before settling on a name that just reminded me of Beans. (Nina...Neen..Bean). I liked eating green beans but I didn't want to be called a bean and Martha had no relations at all to anything remotely bean-like. During this age I was also obsessed over the colonial era and in my mind, Martha was the colonial name. It procured the image of a girl my own age with petticoats and a bonnet and some kind of apron and cobbled shoes--everything I craved for as a little girl and could never attain.

My love affair with the 18th century did not remain private. For my eighth birthday I received an inkwell and quill pen set from my mother's best friend and subsequently turned in all of my homework in runny, purple ink. I begged my mother to let me walk around with candles at nighttime, insisting we didn't need the lights in the house to be on and that using candlelight would "be a lot of fun!" She said no to the candles but bought me a long, billowing white nightgown that creeped the hell out of my sisters but made me swoon. When my sisters got Malibu Barbie and Evening Gown Barbie for Christmas, I got Colonial Barbie. She was a brunette doll with a large red bonnet. When my mom and dad told my sisters and I they were taking us to Disneyworld for vacation, I didn't shriek with delight or jump up and down like my sisters did. I asked my mom what was wrong with my suggestion of going to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia and she told me Disneyworld had a castle. I didn't want a castle though--all I wanted was to dip twine into wax and make candles.

Even though my wish for vacation wasn't granted, my mother never laughed at me throughout this phase. She didn't even gently ignore me the way she could have easily done. My mother actually indulged me and I realize now how happy I was during this time. I didn't understand that my preoccupation with 1776 was peculiar or strange for a little girl--she continually made me feel loved and special and beautiful. And when I asked her to call me Martha she did.

* * *

Sunday, April 10, 2011

i love you james dean and paul newman and elizabeth taylor with the violet eyes

warning to any men who may read my blog on occasion: this post will be girly, about girly things, from  a girly perspective. you've been warned.

i forgot to blog about this but a few weeks ago i got to do something that i've dreamt of my whole life. well, a part of me has dreamt of my whole life. it took me back to when i was little, no older than five or six, and i got to try on my mom's wedding dress. i was so tiny that it was more like swimming in the silky fabric but i remember that feeling, of trying on something so special, a treasure from the past, literally a part of my family's history (this is a run-on sentence). even back then, at five or six, i knew it was special to try on clothes from the past.

so a few Sundays ago, maybe two Sundays but it really doesn't matter, my mom and i went over my grandmom's house and she casually said, "i found my engagement dress."

my heart stopped. my eyes bulged out of my head in a very cartoonish manner--i started swooning and the very miniscule part of my brain that cares about fashion rejoiced in a clicking-heels type of way.

you see, for years i've asked my grandmom about her engagement dress. i'd grown up looking the photographs--my grandmother, a German blonde beauty, naturally thin and elegant at 19 or 20 or however old she was when she got engaged, and i spent so many moments growing up looking at these photographs, admiring her beauty and poise and that dress. i couldn't tell from the black and white photographs but my grandmother told me it was a light purple color. it was halter, and layered with gorgeous beading and i looked at the pictures and i marveled at the style and how desperately i wished i could look that good in a dress. i loved the expressions on the faces of the women in the photographs--their eyes dazzled, taking in the painting of my grandmother as she smiled and held out the hand with her engagement ring and how my grandfather, a handsome Italian musician, stood behind her with one of his arms around her waist, drinking in her beauty as well.

magical.

but years went by and my grandmother never really knew where that dress went. before my grandpa died, they moved around the corner from where we live and we all just assumed the dress got lost in the shuffle of things. i mentally sighed, wondering if i would ever see that dress from 1953.

AND I DID!!! my grandmother brought up a bag chock-full of her old dresses and let me say, i was floating. i immediately began trying them all on, acting ridiculous--when i put on a gold one that fit me like a glove (YES! all those days at the gym are finally paying off) i quickly knotted my hair at the base of my neck, went up on my tip toes in lieu of not having heels, and walked around the room with my hands on my hips saying in a poorly imitated Southern drawl, "Happy Birthday Big Daddy!" acting like I was anything close to Elizabeth Taylor in "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof."

I looked idiotic but I felt so cool. I tried on dress after dress, sometimes laughing at the styles, sometimes swooning at the material, all the while my grandmom and mom watching me amused.

and THEN. then i pulled out the engagement dress. the 1953 knee-length, halter, tight-waisted, gorgeous, breathtaking stunning ONE OF A KIND engagement dress --

and it didn't fit.

at all.

Okay, so maybe i have to hit the gym and lay off the late night ice cream a little more and i'll be able to zipper it up, but at least i got it over my hips! And even though it wouldn't zipper (i died inside), i still felt the magic of wearing something from another era. even though i looked nowhere NEAR elizabeth taylor, i still felt like a movie star. it was literally an awesome Sunday evening.

i wonder if one day my granddaughters will prance around my living room, trying on the dresses i wear now. it's a funny little thought.

here are some of the dresses i got to keep--little sneak peeks! :) i am NOT a photographer, as you can see from these horrible-quality pictures. but i tried my best!
an adorable little sparkly green dress--perfect for a summer/spring wedding. glad i have so many this summer! can't wait.

ugh wish i could capture the detail--this is the gold, sparkly dress that caused me to act like an inebriated 50s starlet. yikes.


oh i wish you fit me!!!! engagement dress

that beading *swoon* !!! 1953 and still in perfect condition. amazing.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

so many different places to call home

sometimes i get
so
conflicted.


when i was a baby christian (sometimes i still am, just a little baby needing so much guidance all day every single day) i used to think that God's will for my life could not possibly match up to my dreams. and boy, i have a lot of dreams. my first love is reading and writing and being a reader/writer, you constantly fall in love with dreams. so yes, i am a dreamer. and the thing about my dreams--i completely believe that they will come true. actually there is no doubt in my mind that my dreams will come true, which is a great feeling. peaceful and scary all at the same time. a big old contradiction.

me having Tisch pride. drama major baby!
back to when i was a little fetus Jesus follower. i was entering my second year at NYU when i really caught on fire for the Lord--when it hit me that living FOR Jesus was actually living WITH Jesus, every minute of every day. and i thought that meant giving everything i loved up--i considered dropping out of NYU, transferring to a small, Christian school, giving up my dreams of acting, performing, writing and becoming a missionary. i am not saying that is a bad thing, i am just saying i got it all wrong. Jesus doesn't want me to give up my dreams. he wants me to use my dreams for the KINGDOM. and that is beautiful.

i once heard a pastor talk about how God gives us passions, talents, dreams so that we can use them here on Earth to bring Glory to His name. WOW. i sat there and i thought, 'that's amazing! i can still be an actress, i can still write novels, but i can do those things FOR GOD.' how...how precious. what a gift!

Girl Conception collage. Doing what i love to do--performing & making people laugh
you see, sometimes i feel guilty for loving movies so much and acting and making people laugh. i think, 'this is stupid. i should be doing something else.' but why? God made me this way for a reason. i read a book once (click HERE ) where it talked about burning out in ministry. i remember it saying that sometimes, people just  do missions for the sake of doing missions. and if you do that, you will burn out. you need to follow your passions and see what God is saying about THAT and how you can use what you love the most to glorify God. i loved that.

and you know what? i think the film industry needs Jesus so much. i think of all the little kids influenced by media, i think of how movies reach out to so many people and i think how can i use this particular industry to further the Kingdom of God? to do what i am supposed to do on this Earth...hmmm.

so i am excited. i am excited to move out to los angeles in a few months. i am excited to struggle and work so hard to do what i love and to glorify God in the process.

so sometimes
maybe
i am not so conflicted after all.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

licking the foam off of a latte kinda day

church today was really, really nice. first of all, today was a beautiful day. one of those sunny, warmer-than-usual, sigh-inducing mornings where you wake up and think "i want to go for a long run, or lie down in a meadow, or be in the general vacinity of said meadow" kind of day. i went to church by myself but was pleasantly surprised when i got to sit with an old friend from young life summer staff and my mom even came to church and surprised me! it was a really good service too.

the pastor talked about friendship, which really spoke to me because lately since graduating college i've been reflecting on certain relationships/friendships in my life. the phrase 'quality over quantity' comes to mind. i am amazed by the blessings God has given me in life, but i am forever blown away by the true friendships in my life. the older i get the more i seem to realize how rare true friends are. it's kind of sad but also makes you appreciate those people in your life that make you think, YES. this person. they matter. so much in my life. 

i've been feeling nostalgic lately which is kind of silly because i'm 21! i'm in the prime of my youth, and i'll only be young once! (name that movie quote) but seriously. i think of all the good times at NYU i had--the silly videos i made with friends, the plays i was in, the opportunities that came along to perform my poetry, all the silly crushes i told my best friends about and we laughed about--all of it, compiled into 3.5 years. i still can't believe my college experience is over. well, undergraduate college experience. but still--people always mention 'those college years' as being the best time of your life, and mine are already over!!! i feel so....old.

the pastor today talked about how 20 years can fly by in an instant. i understand that. i am 21. i'm done college. i remember being five, ten, seventeen--so very clearly. i am a vapor, here one second and gone the next. how mind-boggling is that?

i always think that if we, as human beings, truly understood and believed that one day we are going to die, we would live differently. radically. unafraid. the other day i was flipping through my bible and a certain passage caught my eye: 2 timothy 4:7 "i have fought the good fight, i have finished the race, i have kept the faith" -- WOW. i want so desperately to be able to say that when i meet Jesus. that is the cry of my heart, why i am put on this earth at all. what a sweet blessing, what an undeserved gift.

today after church, after taking a walk with my mom, after eating a nice, warm meal i took the car and drove to starbucks and got a vanilla latte because I LOVE VANILLA LATTES and i sat in my parked car before i turned it on, i took off the lid of the latte and licked all the foam off the top. and it was delicious. and it was good and a little moment where i felt peaceful and simply enjoyed where i was in that moment. i want to remember those little moments--the licking the foam off the latte kind of moments--that fill the pages of my life-journal. they are important and small and beautiful and just make my heart happy.

Lord, teach me to be a better friend. help me appreciate so deeply the friendships you have blessed me with. i love and love and love you.

John 15:13  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.


Love & foamy lattes,
Nina.