Favorite Clothes

Sometimes people give me old clothes. I really like that. They tell me “This just looked like Alice,” which is flattering. Apparently I have a style. I am distinctive.

But then sometimes, I look closer at whatever they’ve given me and I wonder, “Really? That screamed my name to them from the back of their closet? Or did they just think ‘Oh. A dress. Alice wears dresses. She’ll take it.’”

Because I’m that girl. I’m a take-that-last-cookie-so-you-can-wash-the-container and take-that-dress-I’m-sure-I’ll-wear-it-tomorrow kid. I cannot resist good clothes. I avoid going to Goodwill when I’m broke because it makes me sad, and I never even look at stuff retail anymore because I get so indignant that I’m actually being charged for it.

So maybe what I end up with is a little eclectic. This is not to say, however, that I don’t have opinions. I have lots of them. Most of them are about things I love, but there are a couple strong negative ones, which I think I’m going to go ahead and share. This is the internet after all. It’s time I offended somebody.

Uggs are ugly. This should not need to be said. They are even uglier when stained with road salt. And ugliest when worn with basketball shorts, as I saw a man do in Long Beach a couple years ago.

Do not wear cargo shorts. Ever. Please don’t even ask about cargo pants. The only legitimate excuse I can come up with for such behavior is if you use all of those pockets on a regular basis, in which case, you look truly strange, but more power to you.

Maybe you think you don’t care about clothes. This entirely untrue. Even my little brother cares, evidenced by the fact that he stubbornly refuses to wear the wonderful bomber jacket my mom got him a couple years back. What you wear matters. I don’t really mind too much that he won’t wear it though, because that means I get to.

In other coat news, more men should wear pea coats. I know women are attempting to dominate that market now, as they do almost everything, but they were originally worn by sailors. So if you want them, which you should, take them back! Don’t be afraid.

Then there’s the marvelous silk one from my Grandma’s closet which I’m only just now beginning to gain confidence about. I did wear it to a wedding, though.


Final coat of note: my leopard fur (faux.) My Grandma and my cousin have matching ones, and I like to wear mine to entirely inappropriate occasions, like a low-key hall Christmas party.


If a certain piece of clothing is my favorite, I will wear it nearly anywhere. This includes my polka-dot dress which I wore to pack up last year, and my eyelet lace graduation dress which I nearly ripped playing Frisbee a few weeks back. Oops.


There’s also the brown leather and black suede skirts which I found with Hannah at Goodwill at different times. The suede particularly tends to show up in all sorts of odd places.


And the hound’s-tooth jumper that used to be my aunt’s has run the gamut from Italy to Storytime.


Then there are sweaters. Sweaterssweaterssweaters. Big, cozy, versatile sweaters. Here is a sampling of my favorites:

Black, courtesy of United Airlines, for not swimming:Image

Green, the one Emily Van Vranken loves, for wandering:Image

Orange, cashmere for fall, for crowded couches:


Dad’s, for lazy days and flat cakes:


And blue, my favorite, for pizza and everything else:


I’m also a huge fan of anything with a waist. (I assume we all know what a waist looks like…) They are the key to success. So get thee some belts and high-waisted skirts and maybe even some high-waisted pants, and have at it!

Then there’s Family Pantry gear. Obviously. (Kevin is spending the summer with me, if anyone wants him.)


I like clothes that remind me of people I love (i.e. everyone above). Maybe that’s really why I love hand-me-downs so much. They come with people and stories attached. They come loved and lovable. It is easy to forget that they’re factory made. I do care how they look, but maybe not quite as much as I like to pretend I care. Because sometimes I reserve the privilege to unapologetically wear something really hideous. Just because it sometimes makes a bad day better.


Things Change

Really, they do.

I don’t think I’d properly begun to realize that until this semester, perhaps even this Christmas. You see Christmas used to be this great shining thing set gloriously at the end of the year. School let out, we opened all our presents and drank eggnog, then the next day we were off to my grandparents’ in dear old Brookfield, MO.

It was just us and my Aunt Amy’s family when we were kids. Mary and Peter and Jacob and I sat at the kids table and wreaked havoc. Grandma would proudly set out her little individual salt shakers, and we would spend Christmas dinner salting each other’s milk and making up stories about my brother George’s latest escapades. Even when it wasn’t mealtime we would sit at the card table playing long games of Mille Borne (Creve! Creve!) and Monopoly. Usually Monopoly. Peter was always the banker and he always won, Mary cheerfully came in second, I came third for lack strategy, and Jacob came dolefully last, because Peter always had it in for him. Thus began the illustrious cousin tradition of bending and even, yes, breaking the rules.

As we got older, and my Uncles Bill’s kids also began to descend en masse every Christmas, we played Mafia just to cheat and peek, and generally win unfairly. All part of cousin bonding, you know. There was also an official cousin basketball game, in which I was always the official photographer, a job I was very bad at. Here we are in 2007 after that year’s game.

As I remember, 2007 was a particularly red-letter Christmas. Emily brought her new husband André, and we took joy in initiating him and giving him the official stamp of cousin approval.

Some of these signatures are forged, but who’s telling which?

The other notable thing about Christmas 2007 was Poopsie. Billy and Hannah went into town with Grandpa one day for some inauspicious reason, and came back a couple hours later with a puppy. He (she? I can’t remember…) was very cute, and also entirely unhousebroken (thus the name…) It wasn’t until Christmas night, when Mary and Tina and Joe and I took him for a walk that he did his business outside for the first time and we rejoiced. Then, while star-tripping, Joe fell and got that business all over his jeans, and we rejoiced only slightly less. (“Joe! That was Poopsie’s Greatest Achievement, and you fell in it!”) Wonderful Christmas.

Since then we have had a few family reunions in hotels which have brought us to some truly marvelous locations, like this unique antique mall.

As you can probably see written all over my face there, that was the Christmas that eight of us girls crowded into one hotel room and stuck this sign on the door.

It truly was, my friend. Santa was spotted just down the hall.

Mostly, the thing about Christmas with cousins is that it is a lot of very tall people in a house with very low ceilings sitting on couches together singing carols and giggling.

Three or four days full of lots. Lots of jokes about pantyhose, lots of games of Authors, lots of re-watching of State Fair, lots of racing out to the cold breezeway to grab orange balls, lots of Christmas.

Here we are, last Christmas—grown, haven’t we?


This Christmas we couldn’t get there till the 23rd. It was the McLellans’ year off, Uncle Jon (better known as UJ) had done his familial duty at Thanksgiving, and as for Uncle Bill’s—Hannah and Billy had to work and couldn’t come, and Joe had already left for St. Louis. We had a nice evening, sang carols and all, and the next day an attempt was made at a cousin basketball game, which I rather spoiled, and that was it. The rest of them left. We went ahead and did the present opening on Christmas Eve, just to get it out of the way, it seemed. Christmas felt like any other Sunday, except quieter. Even in our unusually small numbers, we more than doubled the attendance at my grandparents’ sadly fading church. Merry Christmas and all that…

The holidays seemed to have matched my semester a little too well—quite lost from what I thought it would be. It all leaves me holding fast to the things that haven’t changed:

When we spent the night in Nashville, and the question of the evening’s entertainment was brought up, Peter Immediately said “We could play Monopoly…” and we all said “NO!”

When asked to pick a carol George made a show of deciding and then grumbled “We Three Kings.” It used to be the only song he’d sing with us, even in the summertime.

There was still a card table in the breezeway piled with cookies and leftovers.

A Christmas Carol was read aloud in the car, and It’s a Wonderful Life lives in that glorious black and white.

There’s something else too, that hasn’t changed. However I feel about the day, whether or not I even remember that it’s Christmas, it’s still the day Christ was born. It’s still the incredible beginning of God’s plan of redemption. It is a day that means even in the dreariest, most disenchanted place A SAVIOR IS BORN. Even when I’m drowning in self,  and dull, adopted hurts, my God sent his Son as a baby, even more vulnerable and prone to tears than I am, that I might know hope. And that will not change.

Tomorrow is new day and a new year in which I get to serve a living God who came to save me. Please remind me when I forget. Please.

Twenty Things About College

1)      You have a roommate. She plays harp and draws you comics and dances around and talks to herself and is generally wonderful. But you’re very different in a lot of ways, and sometimes what with being in a small cinderblock room together for a very long time you yell some. And maybe get a little sarcastic. But then things boil down, and get understood, and you hug and giggle and go to dinner.

2)      Laundry quarters are a commodity.

3)      You have other friends too, and some weeks you are especially thankful for them. For things like being hospitable and patient, or accomplishing wonderful, commendable things, or just displaying a whole lot of goodness. Because those are the sorts of things people do in college, sometimes.

4)      You have school work. This involves professors and classes and pens and papers and computers. People still whine about their work, and you wonder why they came to college in the first place. You read some poetry and write some essays and learn a lot. You spend time contemplating the nature of humanity. Sometimes grades are connected to money, and it makes you angry and scared and sad.

5)      You don’t always get enough sleep and it’s not always your fault.

6)      You save tables with wallets and IDs and learn recognize all your friends’ stuff so you can plop yours down next to it, even if they’ve gone off to get food.

7)      There is no privacy. Because even when you are in a room by yourself you can hear people talking on the other side of the wall, and it’s not like there’s phone reception anyway.

8)      There are couples. I don’t really want to talk about that though. Take Courtship and Marriage and Dr. Thrasher will inform you.

9)     You have many long conversations with friends about your families. Also really good food.

10)   You’re constantly doing that thing where you meet people for the first time, and have to pretend you don’t already know their entire life story because they’re the friend of a friend or just plain famous and you’ve looked them up in the campus directory. It eventually becomes kind of comedic, so you tend to get giggly and awkward when you meet people.

11)   Tea.

12)   You look forward to weekends even more than you did in high school. (You’re worried that this attitude will only escalate throughout life. And you don’t think it’s healthy.)

13)   You still think poop is funny. Somewhere in your soul you will always think poop is funny.

14)   You really like intercampus mail. And sometimes you find an old packet of popcorn and write a random box number on it, drop it in the slot and giggle all day long.

15)   Sometimes you go exploring and this happens. Continue reading

Happy Heart

I missed a week. I’m sorry. In the meantime I have been thinking deeply about blog ideas. I thought about writing about going running, about heartsickness, about boldness and hypocrisy, about summer jobs, about Hopkins and Emerson, and about the letter V. So here’s that blog entry:

I’m bad at going running; heartsickness sucks; I am not bold, but I am often a hypocrite; I need a summer job; Hopkins and Emerson are marvelous to read; and the letter V is very passionate.

But the blog entry I’m going to actually write you today goes something like this:

I have a folder on my desktop called “Happy Heart” and it is full of other folders which are full of pictures.

My dad took this in July when he ought to have been packing up the car so he and Mom could leave Brookfield. I had just been a mechanic and gotten the belt back on the mower. Also, don’t you love the lake? I miss it.

I love this person.

This is my backyard–mostly my mom’s garden. It was my desktop for a while.

This is my French professor from last fall and my current Symbolic Logic professor. They’re married to each other, and I’m sure they have no idea I’m in possession of this picture.

This is cool.

These are some of my cousins and me on my grandpa’s eighty-sixth birthday. We ate pie and I like them. This was my desktop for a while too.

I love this person too.

This is my dad and my grammy. I like their faces.

We have Storytime tonight. In Heidi’s room. And it’s gonna be  Just. Like. This.