Monday, September 25, 2006


These damn migraines have gotten worse. I was really hoping beginning an exercise program would help relieve the annoyance, but no, I'm getting them almost every single day, and I've been getting more of the more hardcore headaches. Today, for example, I woke up fine, an hour later needed ibuprofen (which worked), and then 2 hours later and five minutes after seeing my less-than-ideal French test score, I got a hardcore migraine. I had a hardcore migraine on Thursday, and I'm pretty sure I had one the week before too. Used to be that I only got them every couple months.

I really don't want to go to the doctor about this. I'm fairly sure they're going to tell me again that there's nothing to be done. I have people praying for my migraine relief, I'm trying to take it easier this semester and not let myself worry so much about school, and I'm trying to be healthier with diet and exercise, but no avail. It's all gotten worse. I think this may be the thorn in my side, and I have to confess, I think I may lose it. If they were just periodic headaches, I could deal with it, but I get them almost every single day. Ibuprofen used to work, but it's definitely losing its effect. Tylenol hasn't worked for years, and Excedrine migraine only works for a couple hours.

I need to just suck it up and go to the doctor, don't I? Ugh.

Sorry if you're not a fan of complaint posts. I needed that off my chest.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

[In Heaven, I'll Eat Lasagna and Chocolate Everyday]

Right, so I'm pretty much dead tired right now, which may explain my apparently poor judgment in making a post right now. If anything I say tonight is strange, I plead "too much crap to do in too short of time!"

An excerpt from my roommate and I's conversation this afternoon:

Me: You know, for all my griping about being single and stuff, I was thinking yesterday while walking between classes, I don't really feel ready to be married at all. I think most of the problem is feeling left behind and a little lonely.
Andrea: Yeah. You know, there are a lot of things I still want to do before I take the plunge.
Me: Fo'sho. Though... it would be nice to know the identity of the Plunger.
(brief pause) Crap. That came out terrible. That was very wrong.
Andrea: (laughter intermingled with uncontrollable snorts)

Movie quote of the day: "Shut up you feline floozy!" -Batman, 1966

Ok, I think the old brain's fully shut down for the night, so I'm off. Peace, love, and CHOCOLATE!!!!!!

Monday, September 18, 2006

[So Ripped!]

French test today! Ack! No, I haven't studied (though I plan to do a quick refresher read from 11-12:00). I'm so incredibly burnt out on school right now.

It's time for another fitness update! I started using the eliptical machine a couple weeks ago along with the stationary bike. Since heart health is such an issue in my family, I've been trying to do some cardio work, and the eliptical really gets the old ticker tickin'. When I started out on the eliptical 2 weeks ago, my heart rate averaged about 175, and I could only endure about ten minutes of it. I got off, and my roomie did a double take at my very red face. I sure felt that one! But on Saturday, when I went to the rec, my heart rate averaged around 185 (kinda scary, but it didn't feel that uncomfortable), and I held out for 15 minutes. That was it for the day, though... hehe. But... Whoo-hoo! My face was not nearly so flushed, and it was equivalent to jogging over a mile. I've never jogged a mile in my life; I usually collapse after 1/4 of a mile and have to walk the rest of the way. I really feel improved. My energy's up about 2 notches, and I'm actually excited about going back to the rec this afternoon and giving it another go. My legs aren't protesting angrily, and in spite of the allergy med grogginess, I'm feeling like I can take it on with gusto. Plus, because of this new exercise pattern, I'm bending and twisting in directions I haven't done since... well, ever. I've never been very flexible or firm on my feet, but I'm feeling much more so now. It's pretty handy when I knock something off my desk and I can just stretch across and pick it up without having to get up and trip over my computer wires or my backpack I so carelessly dropped on the floor.

Ooh, and having lost another pound didn't hurt my feelings, either. I'm down 5 pounds from the beginning of June when I started. It doesn't seem like much, but it's been a steady decrease without any funny bouncebacks, so I know it's much more effective than dropping 20 pounds in a month. I'm thinking that if I can maintain the willpower to keep this up, I may get down to my proper weight and size by this time next year. It's not to say that I think I'm fat or anything, but I've definitely got a bit more padding now than I had when I graduated, and even then I wasn't exactly stick-thin. I might even hang onto my old prom dress; I may fit back in it yet, and it's classy enough that it won't go out of style very soon.

Well, kids, studying awaits. Peace, love, and CHOCOLATE GALORE!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

[I've Got to Post...] I'm not leaving you hanging on that last crazy-emotional entry. Sorry, kids... I'm artistic and, naturally, very dramatic. It's my curse. Anywho...

My hair's long enough for pigtails again! I feel like a girl again. I don't understand why I'm so pathetic, to be honest, where I don't feel feminine unless I can pull my hair back. After all, I don't think that when I see other ladies wearing short hair, but I guess it's a personal thing. Actually, I think I'm gonna grow it back out all the way and cut it off again. It's kind of fun to see people's expressions when I show up with 10 inches less hair.

I really am looking forward to having an income and a place of my own. It's trivial, but I really want a new bed. I have no headboard on mine (it's actually a trundle bed), and because the head of my bed is in front of the window, I can't lean my pillows against anything. If I try to lean against the window, well, I basically would fall between the bed and the window. It's a very Niki thing to manage to do. So, new bed, full size or larger, with a headboard. The rest of the stuff can be replaced quite gradually, as far as I'm concerned.

Ooh, speaking of bedrooms, I'm actually COLD tonight! It's awesome! I've spent the past three months in this room melting or surviving with the fan blowing directly on me all night, but tonight, it's slightly chilly! I love fall! Which, of course, means that it's 22 days until my birthday. Normally, I get completely psyched, and of course I'm excited, but the age thing feels so, well, dull. I mean, 23. It's such an in-between kind of year. But that's ok, it's still another year God's given me in this world, for better or for worse. That's plenty reason to praise.

As the semester progresses, I'm growing more and more ready for graduation. I'm ready to leave behind reminders of my crush (which is particularly crushing this month so far) and just plain get past school. I'm looking forward to using the time that I currently devote to homework (and procrastinating on it) to doing things like FINALLY teaching myself to play the guitar that's collecting dust in the corner and tackling oil painting projects. In a way, it'll be good for me to be on my own for awhile. My walk has become such a corporate-worship type of walk in the past couple years, and while having a group of people to keeping me accountable is good, too much can result (and has) in my neglecting one-on-one time with the Lord. So, as much as I love everyone here, I do realize that my time is drawing to a close, and I'm growing at peace with it.

Furthermore, I'm starting to believe (even if I don't like) the fact that it's probably never going to happen with me and The Boy. Either someday God's going to place a gentleman in my life who is right, or He'll teach me to find joy in my singleness. One of the things about the Church that drives me a little nuts is this lie that's floating around that, if the desire of your heart is a spouse, if you devote yourself enough to God, He'll send that one to you. It comes from that verse in Psalm that says that if you seek after God, He'll give you the desires of your heart. But if you're seeking after God, He'll give you that desire... Himself. It gets taken the wrong way. We don't know that He's going to give us earthly happiness. He never promised that. He promised joy and peace in the Spirit, but that does not denote earthly satisfaction or eventual relief for our longings.

I might marry someday (which I really do long for), but it's not promised. So enough of the false/dishonest hope!

Seek first Christ, not so He'll give you what you want, but so He'll give you what you need: Himself.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

[Inexhaustible Joy and Inexpressible Sorrow]

At the end of 1992, Mom and I were having races around the nursing home parking lot... and she always won, even in her electric wheelchair. Her laugh echoed across the concrete as she teased me for being a slowpoke. As the year drew to a close, she began to feel tingling sensations in her legs--for the first time in seven years.

As I fell asleep each night, my mind came alive with grand dreams of her pending liberation from that imprisoning hospital bed and the cold wheelchair. I imagined her and I moving into a home of our own before I yet became a teenager. I'd hug her, and she'd be able to fully hug me back.

What eternal hope! Think of how the disciples probably felt as they watched this revolutionary man stumping the religious rulers of their time. This was Him! He was going to liberate them from these political and religious oppressions and set up this fantastic home, the twelve of them helping him lead this amazing earthly kingdom. Nothing could defeat them now!

Back in the 20th century, reality quickly crushed my mighty hopes. On April 7, 1993, we received an urgent phone call in the middle of the night, saying that Mom had been rushed to the hospital, her fever so high that her skin was flushed bright red.

But she's getting well, I thought to myself, so this is just a little setback. She'll be out within a week. She's been in before, and if cancer and all those pneumonia scares didn't break her then, she isn't going to lose now.

Sunday, what seemed to be just another pneumonia scare proved to be worse. That sunny Easter morning, we had to go back to the hospital. The hospital rushed her over to ICU to keep a closer watch on her and put her on life support. Her labored breathing grew weaker and more desperate with each passing hour. Doctors tuned out my pleas to go in and see her; she'd be well in no time, they assured me.

By Wednesday, the fight proved too much. Now getting less than half the oxygen she needed, she gave her permission to remove the machine. Just after noon, she breathed her last.

Words can never express the devastation I felt (and periodically still do). There is such finality in the word "death". Any more chance you had to demonstrate love to that person is gone (at least until your own death). Comfort that she's free of that perpetual pain and can now dance freely only goes so far.

The devastation I felt on April 14, 1993, I see in those disciples. The one who was going to create this awesome new life was suddenly gone. It made no sense!!! All the while they watched, they hoped (and probably believed) He was going to blow away his enemies and emerge victorious... and alive. But He signed His life away, and now they were all alone, stuck with questions that had no answers.

A few years ago I dreamed she came back. I walked into her old nursing home room; she lay in her old bed with a goofy grin on her face.

"Mom, you--weren't you--What are you--?!"

"I'm back, Niki-honey. I'll never leave you again. I'm back."

I haven't felt happiness like I did at that moment... well, ever. I sobbed in my sleep. Soon after, I woke, my pillow drenched with my tears, realizing it hadn't happened. She's still gone, and nothing will change that.

But in that split second I believed she was here, I saw into the disciples' hearts on Easter morning. Once they realized it wasn't some sick trick and that He really walked among them once more, nothing could defeat their ecstatic happiness! He who was DEAD is ALIVE!!!

"Why do you seek the living among the dead? He's not here!"

How can I experience inexhaustible joy and inexpressible sorrow in the same instant? I don't know, but I do, even now.

I miss her with all my heart, but PRAISE GOD, He is ALIVE! He's not in that grave, and someday, PRAISE GOD, my dream of being with her, alive and well, will be fulfilled.

[Expliquer et Parler]

I don't make political posts very often; not because I don't have strong beliefs, but because I hate debate. You vote your way by your convictions, I'll vote mine. But every once in a while I read an article that helps to illustrate why I follow the policies I do. I don't like politics. As Derek Webb says in his song:

who's your brother, who's your sister
you just walked passed him
i think you missed her
as we're all migrating to the place where our father lives
'cause we married in to a family of immigrants

my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it's to a King & a Kingdom

there are two great lies that i’ve heard:
“the day you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will not surely die”
and that Jesus Christ was a white, middle-class republican
and if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like Him

but nothing unifies like a common enemy
and we’ve got one, sure as hell
but he may be living in your house
he may be raising up your kids
he may be sleeping with your wife
oh no, he may not look like you think

Anyway, that explains why I made the last post and why I refuse to jump into any political debates. That being cleared up...

I love coming home listening to good music. It puts me in a good mood like no other, sinus headache and all. Ooh, and I actually slept through the night last night! I think if I can pull that off once more, I'll be feelin' better.

I had something hyperspiritual/philosophical to say last night after the sermon, but I lost it. Sorry.

Se amo, Ustedes. Hasta luego!

Oh, and a welcome to my old xanga readers... did you get the hint? ;)

From Sojourners Magazine email:

Who is the enemy?
by Omar Al-Rikabi

I have been on the road a lot in the last three months, taking different road-trips to New Orleans, New York City, Nashville, and Dallas. Constantly in the shadow of the endless line of 18-wheelers, I noticed that one particular trucking company had this sign posted on most of their trucks:

Support our troops whenever we go!
No aid or comfort to the enemy!
No way!

So who is the enemy?

Last summer my older cousin Ali was able to come in from Ohio to be at our wedding. I think it was really good for my dad to have someone from back home who was able to be there, and he filled in as my grandmother's escort, sitting with her on the front row.

Ali was forced to serve in the Iraqi Army in the first Gulf War. Other cousins were also conscripted, stationed on the front lines and in Kuwait City. Some of them were rounded up in the mass-surrenders after the ground war began, and they all made it home. But Ali had a different story. He was a field surgeon on the front lines with the Republican Guard. Sadaam thought that if he placed the medical units close enough to the rest of the soldiers then the Americans wouldn't bomb and shell them. He was wrong.

Somehow the Iraqis knew when the American ground troops would be coming over the dunes, and so they were given a five-day pass to go home to Baghdad and say their goodbyes. Ali knew it would be a meat-grinder, and he knew that under Sadaam desertion meant death and trouble for your family. So while he was in Baghdad he had another surgeon friend take out his perfectly good appendix. While he was in the hospital, his entire unit was annihilated.

Around that same time a Marine friend of mine named Nelson had been part of an artillery outfit that was shelling Iraqi positions inside Kuwait. Suddenly an Iraqi artillery shell slammed into the hood of the truck Nelson was standing next to, but it was a dud and didn't go off. He lived to come home and tell me that story.

Also at our wedding, only four rows back from Ali, was my friend Joe, who is an Army Ranger veteran. On the other side of the isle from Ali was one of my two mothers-in-law, whose stepbrother was part of the Army forces that moved through the same area of Kuwait where Ali had been. On another pew was my friend Johanna, whose husband has served in Afghanistan and is now training for Special Forces duty in the Middle East.

I could go on, but you get the idea. The best phrase came from a taxi driver in Cairo, right after the invasion of Iraq three years ago, who upon finding out that my brother was half Iraqi and half American said, "Ahhh ... is funny. Your country is attacking your country."

I have often become frustrated when I have heard people in my church make statements like, "Remember who we're fighting here," before they lead prayers for our military victory. A professor here at Asbury once said that the only two choices we have is to either "convert them or keep them from hurting us."

Well ... first of all you can't fight and win a "war on terror." Terrorism is a method, not a country or ideology. I once heard it said that fighting a war on terror is like having the flu and declaring a war on sneezing: you're only attacking the symptoms. As long as there have been people, there has been terrorism.

But what frightens me is the mindset in this country, and in the church, that seems to think terrorism was born and raised in the Middle East, and if we can take out the Muslim Arabs then the world will be a safer place. Put this idea up against the idea in large segments of the Arab world that America has, in a sense, created terror herself with her policies toward the Middle East. So the cycle continues, and we have "become a monster to defeat a monster."

So who is the enemy? I believe that on this side of the cross, according to the scriptures, that "we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12)

If you track through the whole story of scripture, you see that while God may have fought battles on Israel's behalf in the Old Testament, the trajectory was always towards to the cross, which redeemed God's intention for creation. Jesus set for us an example of living and witnessing that intention through loving, serving, and forgiving our enemies. The way of Christ was not to kill and destroy those who had abused and killed him.

Imagine what would have happened if the entire mass community of Christians who prayed so fervently for our troops to "defeat the enemy" would have instead prayed against the real Enemy and for peace between humanity.

So who is the enemy? We must first remember that the enemies of America are not the enemies of God. I have Iraqi Army veteran family and U.S. Army veteran friends. I have been raised by Southern Methodists and Shiite Muslims. I cannot abdicate the gospel message of Christ to a bomb, but can only bear the cross: the ultimate battlefield victory over the Enemy.

Omar Al-Rikabi is the son of a Southern Methodist mother from Texas and a Shiite Muslim father from Iraq. He is in his final year of earning a Masters of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary, and a declared candidate for ordination in the United Methodist Church.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

[News and Philosophical Tidbits]

First off, I'm pretty sure I know what I'm going to title my Senior Seminar project:

"A Cackle a Day Keeps the Funny Farm Away"

In other news... no, I changed my mind. In that same vein, I'm taking suggestions on what stories to share. My senior sem class is creative non-fiction, and after some discussion and reviewing, I've decided to have a common theme of laughing, whether it's easy or it's all there is left to do (except cry). Some stories (long and short stories both) that are on my list (I have to write 15-20 pages and read parts of it out loud):

  • Mom on the road and why the handle on the car is broken
  • Mom's sex advice from this summer (and why I now dread the words, "I have something I need to talk to you about...)
  • Why my roomie and I are going to be ___________ for Halloween (I'll fill that blank in on November 1)
  • My reaction to hearing what kind of infection I had in my face after my last surgery
  • My Michelle-mom's last known joke (bittersweet memory)
  • The results of her newfound electric wheelchair freedom that last year (what havoc she wreaked!)
  • Possibly a souped-up analysis of my life philosophies (such as my bedroom as a mood ring, the patterns of my crushes, etc.)

I'm hoping for contributions from you! Anything funny you can think of that others might be able to relate to? Any suggestions for a literary trick to tie each story together (besides the obvious theme of laughter)? I'd like to get on this ASAP, so I'm not overwhelmed at the last minute with this and my two other 15 page papers.

Ok, now onto other things before I try to sleep.

No, never mind. Just hope I remember what I was going to say tonight tomorrow afternoon instead. I need sleep so I can tackle my homework mountain.

Niki out.

Monday, September 11, 2006

[My Mood Ring]

Well, sleep failed. I took some Claritin D around 3:00 and spent the rest of the evening trying to stay awake. Finally, I decided I would just get up early in the morning and do homework, and so crawled into bed. A half hour of good sleep later, I woke up sweating and trying to find a cool spot... and haven't been back to sleep since. Dang. It.

So, that being that, I can no longer justify not accomplishing anything (though I do certainly still feel a bit groggy... just not enough to pass out).

New candles... Pumpkin Spice and Warm Apple Pie. It smells like autumn in our living room, and that makes Niki one happy camper. Minus the allergies, I'm happiest on a partly sunny fall day, high of around 60, with crimson, goldenrod, and sepia leaves floating down around me. WalMart and Walgreens have their Halloween stuff out now, and I completely walked down the Halloween aisle with a goofy grin on my face.

Jeans! Jackets! Frosty mornings! Gentle rain! Colorful trees! And allergies. Oh well.

The other day, I was sitting in my room, trying to motivate myself to do some homework (and failing, of course). I rather drifted off into a philosophical daze and found myself staring at the mess that is my room this week. I found myself wondering when my room had gone from spotless, with the bed made every day and clothes cleared off the floor, to the aftermath of a tornado. Finally it hit me.

My bedroom is a mood ring.

My roommate's personal mood ring is her appearance. When she's feeling like she and I felt today (i.e. like crap), she wears her glasses and putts around the apartment in her sweats. If she's feeling energetic and perhaps a little wild, her short hairdo is spiked up and she goes for the rocker-chick look. If she's in a sappy or a glamorous mood, her clothes and make-up reach unparalleled heights of chic.

Meanwhile, while my own ensembles do tend to resemble how I feel, my clothes have been known to lie. More than a few times, I've gone to Wednesday night service with my most flattering shirt on, my hair styled "just so", and my favorite boots adding that perfect boost to my height--but all I felt like doing was hiding in my room and never coming out again.

My bedroom, on the other hand, rings with sincerity.

I started out the semester a little reluctant but determined to do things right. I was going to read my Bible upon waking up first thing every morning. I intended to embrace every moment with my friends that I could--seeing as how it's the last semester. And finally, I was going to make That Boy mine. Yup, this was the year.

My room was beautiful. My bedside tables gleamed immaculately. The throw on my bedspread lay just right. Even my desk, which I can never keep straight for the life of me, was perfectly arranged.

Fast forward two weeks later. I'm stressed out, and my daily migraines have returned with a vengeance. The Boy has once again inadvertantly broken my heart. I definitely woke up this morning realizing I had not done my homework the night before, and my morning prayer-and-meditation time was carelessly shunted to the side.

My room is a certifiable disaster area. The floor is littered with papers and books. I can no longer see the surface area of my desk (darn... I was doing so well!). There's a pile of clothes in the corner now reaching about waist-high. I cannot get up in the middle of the night to take a tinkle without nearly taking a nasty sprawl.

Looking back, I realize this happens all the time. As soon as my spirits start to droop, I grow negligent. It starts with an emory board that I knock off the bedstand and intentionally don't bother to pick up. Within 48 hours, I'm no longer making the bed, I trip every time I walk, and I simply don't care.

Sometime next week, something will change my outlook. Either Mr. Boy will break up with his newest beloved, or I'll just be completely inspired by the autumn feel in the breeze. I'll come home, look around my room, and go on a cleaning frenzy. By the next morning, the blinds will be open, and the greens, violets, and blues of my room will smile at me in their perfection.

So, my dear readers, please share: what's your personal mood ring?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

[A little'o'this, a little'o'that...]

I'm having palpitations. I am in shock. Less than 3 hours ago, I filled my car up for $2.35 per gallon. I paid less than $29 for half a tank of gas in a freakin' SUV. There's only one proper response to that:


Ooh, and I also walked away from WalMart paying less than $20. It is a good day for Niki financially.

Pray for Steve Irwin's family... I can imagine the pain they're going through, especially little Bindy Sue. I was only a year older than she is now when my mom passed away. You don't get over that... you just don't.

Today confirmed that I need to take Hebrew Scriptures as credit/no credit. It's tough enough, and unnecessary enough for me to take, that I would do much better in my other classes if I am not having to study hardcore to make it. Just pass it. Yeah.

Migraines suck. My eyes have been bloodshot all day, and I haven't been able to walk in a straight line for the life of me. Wearing heels, I'm sure, didn't help.

Alright, well, I'm out of useful things to say. Good night to all!

Friday, September 01, 2006

[No Boys Allowed]

You know I rarely curse. And you also know I generally don't publicize this when it's going on. But there are days when it simply needs to be said publicly (so guys, avert your eyes, because you, I know, don't want to know).