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Breaking Bad

Tomorrow is Sunday aka Breaking Bad day.

I don’t know about you, but I barely had any nails left (toenails included) after the first 4 seasons of Breaking Bad. (Especially after my favorite episode, the super freaking clever “Fly” episode—least relaxing pedicure ever;) But this season… holy crap! Speaking of… waiting for Hank to finish “dropping the kids off at the pool” and get his “party pooper” hat on, during the “intermission” of this fifth and final season, was definitely one of the top 3 longest times I’ve ever had to wait with a show paused, while somebody was off making a RESTroom out of the toilet.

And boy did the shit start hitting the fan once Hank finally flushed. I have no idea how the writers are going to wipe this mess up. All I know is there are only 4 episodes left and Jesse didn’t get in the freaking car and I’m all out of nails to bite.

Last Sunday morning while I was getting ready for church, which is also kinda like breaking bad, when you really think about it, I saw this writing on my Facebook wall.

Somebody throw the poor guy a lifesaver
LIKE if you wanted to see Jesse heading out to the Alaskan wilderness.

I’d’ve liked it seventy times seven times if I could’ve, but you only get to LIKE things once on FB. All I can say is thank God for the comment box and the share button. I liked. I commented. I shared. (Trifecta FB LIKE, which pretty much equals love;)

“It’s Sunday morning and I’m getting ready for church, so I guess it’s not too off topic if I’m sitting here hoping (pretty please, Breaking Bad creator) for some kind of a happy ending for Jesse? Part of me did want to see him head out to the Alaskan wilderness but I don’t think that escape would’ve been far enough—even though cold is “supposed” to be the opposite of hell. Unless you read Dante. Or just hate being cold, like me. But anyway, let’s just be honest, what I’m really hoping for is, somehow, Jesse’s REDEMPTION.”

In case you’re wondering, I didn’t head straight to church to go pray for him. (Although the thought may have crossed my mind to ask God to direct the writers’ pens to spare the poor guy their mighty swords.)

I know Jesse is a character in a story on TV played by a real guy named Aaron Paul who has his own real life story, in which Jesse is one of the pretend roles he gets to play, a make-believe story he gets to tell. And he obviously tells it well, as he has enchanted 14,134 real people who are all rooting for Jesse on Facebook.

I don’t know about the other 14,133, but I’m pretty much hoping for some kind of a miracle for Jesse. At this point, in the midst of practically everybody on the show breaking bad, I think a miracle is about our only hope. Unless Obi-Wan shows up. Or some other kind of a Christ-figure. And since Obi-Wan has already been there, done that, had another gig, I’m hoping it’s gonna be Walt.

I know. I’m hopelessly hopeful, I can’t help it, and I don’t think I wanna. The truth is, I’m not only thirsty for redemption for Jesse, but I am thirsty for me too. Which is probably why I gravitate to stories with a redemptive theme. I’m just wired—or written—that way.

So here’s where I’m at, besides the obvious edge of my seat, waiting to see what happens: If Walt somehow sacrifices himself for Jesse, in a sense, redeeming them BOTH, that would be the ultimate breaking of bad.

Three Words and One Thing About Grace

You’ve got mail. Once upon a time not so very long ago those three little words used to rank up there with I love you as the most important words in the English language. Perhaps when AOL was king, there was a decree issued in such a such a year, which crowned them synonomous. Before the kings and candidates were abusing inboxes of all sorts and sizes.

I can still imagine that voice when I think about those three little words. I still like think of the movie when I hear them; I still own the soundtrack. But I used to get as excited as I did in junior high when I’d get off the school bus and the red flag would wave me down to see if I had a letter from my Japanese pen pal: Kieko.

Now I hardly ever check the mailbox. I rarely listen to phone messages on the answering machine. And recently, after receiving *urgent* emails about my 72nd friend who was stuck in jail in Thailand and needed me to wire him/her money… well, let’s just say those three words don’t do much for me these days.

I didn’t hear the words yesterday when I woke up my computer (mostly cuz inboxes don’t talk that way anymore but also because I hadn’t had enough coffee to open my eyes all the way) …but I did get the message somebody was just calling to say I love you. Or me, to be technically correct since I. Had. Mail.

So I got this random email. From a stranger I met in Amsterdam on my way to Jerusalem. Over two sets of eyes meeting and one pair seeing a question mark in the 2nd pair. A quest for internet connectivity (hooking up to wifi to get on Facebook) and one who had been there and done that but still had her eyes open to see question marks and people.

It was a random act of kindness kind of email and I was the lucky one to find this message in my inbox:

Hi Joules, Am hoping you are doing great. I met you at Amsterdam around February 19 – If I remember you were connecting to Israel? Anyway you helped me logging on to the internet. I was flying to Kenya – home. So how was your trip? I have had a chance to browse over your website from your business card – and you are incredible lady. God made you for a reason and is always with you – keep on being positive, life is all what we make of it. If possible we can talk and keep in touch. Good day, Grace

How could I not have a good day after that?

I couldn’t forget meeting Grace in Amsterdam. I had  forgotten exactly how we got talking, but now I remember the patchy wifi, navigating through the fog of jet lag to connect on the airport interwebs, then looking up and seeing Grace smiling at me. We had a lovely chat, exchanged contact info, then as quickly as she had graced my day, Grace got on board a flight to Africa.

And yesterday, I… got… mail! I’ve been thinking about it, and about Grace, ever since. Grace really made my day. The thing about grace is that it’s a gift, usually a surprise. A seemingly random, happy surprise. It was such a gift connecting with Grace in Amsterdam and sharing a few precious moments of the kindness of strangers with one another. What I don’t mean to do by sharing this story, is to come off sounding like a clanging cymbal tooting my own horn about a small act of kindness I got to do. That is not the purpose. Grace is the hero in my story. But this isn’t the kind of story where you read those two little words at the end of a book and then shut it.

I guess I could close the email I got from grace and not reply. But that would make a boring story. Instead I am left with three of my favorite words: Pay it forward.

There is a sign over the door of my church that says: Small things done with great love will change the world. I think it’s based on a quote from Mother Theresa. She knew a thing or two bazillion about grace. One thing I know about grace is that I need to R.S.V.P.

She Sang Because She Was Happy. Now She Sings Because She’s Free.

Once upon a time Mardy came to the Vineyard without her hair just as mine was beginning to grow back from treatment. I walked up to her after church and said, “Hey, I used to have that haircut.” We cracked up, I got enveloped in one of those awesome Mardy hugs, and we were fast friends forever, not the end.

Like everybody else who was lucky to call her friend, Mardy was all about “hoping I dance” and in seeing me chase my dreams. And Mardy made a point to show up, and cheer me on.

Mardy came to The SCAR Project Cincinnati Exhibition when I produced it. She’s pictured here with our friends Brad and Tina Lower.

When I had my 2-year-cancerversary/Stand Up to Cancer/Shaken Not Stirred book reading bash (before I’d even finished writing my book:p) Mardy didn’t just show up, she danced with me.

I was deeply honored to get to stand up to cancer with Mardy. When I got the text from her saying, simply: “At ER” I had no idea it was an invitation to her last dance. Oh dear God, thank you with all my heart, for the words/spirit/life of Mardy which led me by example not to sit it out but to dance….

The day the oncologist told her the cancer had spread to much of her body, Mardy’s revert was to close her eyes and worship God, singing, “It’s not over, till God says it’s over”.

Then she got back in the ring to keep fighting as they hooked her back up to the orange koolaid chemo.

Click here to listen to a clip of Mardy and Jenn turning Mardy’s chemo cocktail lounge of a room into CHURCH!

And she kept singing. The other patients in the wing would come in and wonder 1) is that an angel singing? 2) what channel Mardy’s room was on so they could switch to it too.

The day the oncologist told her that the cancer had spread to her brain, she was mad at the cancer trying to kill her and wanted to kill it. So. Did. I. So did we all.

Damn cancer.

The cancer caused pressure on her brain and made her quite disoriented and confused. She knew she was disoriented and confused but even when she couldn’t articulate, let alone finish, her own thoughts, when I read Psalm 91 and 139 to her, she recited the Psalms with me from memory.

As soon as this hard news started getting out, Mardy’s friends and family started flooding into her hospital room to pray with her and sing to her. Mardy found comfort in our presence, the prayers we prayed, the Scriptures we read, the songs we sang. And she sang. And sang. Again, it was her revert. In the space between songs, occasionally she’d start crying. And here’s the thing that gets me about Mardy. She wasn’t feeling sorry for herself, which she totally had every right to. The rest of us in the room sure were. But not Mardy. She was crying because she said she still had so much love to give. So much love left. And then someone would walk in the room and she’d light up and tell them how much she loved them. Or someone would start another song and she’d start singing her praises to the Lord again.

I think we were all thinking we had so much love yet to give her. So much love left. For our Mardy.

None of us knew that would be Mardy’s “last concert”. Her sister Julia said it was her “Gratitude Concert”. It’s like she literally sang her heart out. What a curtain call. And we got to be witnesses. Talk about gratitude. I’m the one who is grateful.

Mardy brought the house down that night, completely spending herself in worship. Even when we got more hard news that night, that they were going to move Mardy to another hospital STAT, even then, especially then Mardy sang while she waited. As the paramedics were rolling her out of the room, down the hall, and into the elevator, she sang. The paramedics said she sang all the way downtown to Good Samaritan Hospital. That’s about a 1/2 hour drive. Good Samaritan said they knew when she was in the house because they heard her singing when the paramedics cued her entrance with the bursting through the doors.

One of the paramedics was seen singing “Our God is an Awesome God” as he was leaving her presence.

Eventually, Mardy sang herself to sleep that night. How very precious that we got to hear that sweet lullaby.

There’s a sign etched on the front of the Vineyard that says, “Small things done with great love will change the world.” Mardy put flesh and wings on those words. She changed my world. I think she changed a lot of our worlds.

And now our worlds are rocked because we miss. this. face.

I didn’t know this would be the last photo I’d get to take of Mardy. But it’s kinda fitting, not to mention, AWESOME.

The last “words” I “heard” her “speak” were the night before she took her last breath before she sang her first note face to Face to Jesus, were when my friend Keshia was singing “His Eye is on the Sparrow” to her Auntie Mardy. Everytime Keshia got to the chorus, “I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free.” Mardy would shake her right foot like she was so excited she couldn’t contain it!

Now she is free. And happy. And singing.

And as much as I’m going to miss her like crazy, I totally get why God wanted her there STAT.

Wouldn’t it be the most beautiful thing if we all just considered all the little ways she loved on us and changed our worlds, and then if we all went and did likewise?

Sonnet #911

by Joules Evans
I remember the sun was shining;
That still amazes me when I think back
To the edge of where I sat, reclining
While the silver lining became a crack

And I watched the sky fall on my TV.
I remember my kids were doing math
When the phone rang. I heard our world changed. We
Chanted “Our Father” and tried to do the math

With wet eyes, in front of the TV set- glue
held  us fast. (But the math didn’t last long.)
I remember my kids building Legos, too.
They began building when their world went wrong.

Methinks this is what the sun had up his sleeve-
I remember; and I still believe.

Tennis Anyone?

If your a tennis fan like me, and anywhere in my vicinity, I’d like to invite you to a Memorial Day tennis bash some of my friends are throwing.

The Windwood Tennis Committee is hosting a Memorial Day Fundraiser this Monday, May 30th, 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM at the Windwood Swim and Tennis Club, 6649 North Windwood Drive, West Chester. Bring a breakfast item and a donation. We will provide balls, beverages and lots of fun. This event is open to men and women, and all levels of play are welcome.

The proceeds from this year’s fundraiser will go to bringing The SCAR Project to Cincinnati. The Pulitzer nominated SCAR project is a series of large-scale portraits of young women with breast cancer shot by fashion photographer David Jay.

The SCAR Project mission is three-fold: Raise public consciousness of early onset breast cancer, raise funds for breast cancer research/outreach programs, and help young survivors see their scars, faces, figures and experiences through a new, honest and ultimately empowering lens.

The Cincinnati Exhibition of The SCAR Project will be September 29-October 2. The SCAR Project Cincinnati exhibit will be a benefit, in part, for the Pink Ribbon Girls.

PRESS RELEASE: Pulitzer Nominated SCAR Project Exhibit will make Cincinnati Debut in October

The SCAR Project Cincinnati Planning Committee to host open house cocktail party fundraiser to finance the exhibition, which will benefeit a local cancer center and breast cancer research.

Photography by DavidJay

www.thescarproject.org

Cincinnati, OH May 11, 2011: The SCAR Project Cincinnati Exhbiit Planning Committee would like to extend an invitation to an open house cocktail party fundraiser and SCAR Project informational meeting, to area breast cancer doctors, organizations, survivors, caregivers, and others interested in helping bring this important, Pulitzer nominated exhibit to Cincinnati. The SCAR Project is a series of large-scale protraits of young women with breast cancer shot by fashion photographer David Jay. It puts a raw, unflinching face on early onset breast cancer while paying tribute to the courage and spirit of so many brave young women. The fundraiser event will be Friday, May 20, 2011, from 5:30-8:30 pm at Art Design Consultants at 310 CUlvert St. 5th Fl. cincinnati, OH 45202. Cincinnati survivor/model Vanessa Tiemeier will speak about her experience being photographed for The SCAR Project.

"I think sometimes I am so good at putting on a pretty face and acting all put-together, that some people don't realize the extent of everything that breast cancer survivors go through. My outward scars and spoken words are only half the story." -Vanessa Tiemeier, Cincinnati Survivor

The SCAR Project subjects range from ages 18 to 35 and represent the, often overlooked, group of young women living with breast cancer. (Breast Cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in young women ages 15-40). They journey from across America and the world to be photographed for The SCAR Project. More than 100 women have been photographed so far.

Vanessa and her husband took a Greyhound bus from Cincinnati to New York City to be part of The SCAR Project. Besides having her picture selected as one of the 30 in the exhibit, she is on the SCAR Project Cincinnati Exhibit planning committee, with fellow survivors Shelly Emrick and Joules Evans, and Art Design Consultants owner Litsa Spanos, who has graciously donated her space, time, and energy to host the event.

“I love what this show will do for our city,” said Spanos. “”It will increase awareness and portray strong beautiful women. THere is also the true artistic power of it as well. I believe all viewers will have the same reaction that I had when I first saw the images. I was shocked, then moved, then wanted to learn even more. It’s incredibly meaningful. Also, because of the large and dramatic size and scale of the exhibit, along with the natural light and high ceilings of the gallery, it’s a perfect fit.”

The SCAR Project Cincinnati exhibit will debut on the heels of the Cincinnati Race for the Cure, on the cusp of breast cancer awareness month, and the AMerican Cancer society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. The opening night gala event will be at icketed event and will benefit a local cancer center and breast cancer research. The exhibit will be open for public bviewing throughout the weekend of Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 with general admission pricing and times TBA. There will also be private gallery tours with photographer David Jay, dates and times TBA. Tickets and info will be made available on the SCAR Project Cincinnati blog at www.thescarprojectcincy.blogspot.com.

David Jay has been shooting fashion and beauty professionally for over 15 years. His images have appeared in a multitude of international magazines and advertising campaigns. Like so many others personally touched by the disease, Jay was inspired to act when a dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32. Like the subjects themselves, Jay’s stark, bold portraits challenge traditional perceptions of the disease and capture the raw beauty, strength and character of so many extraordinary young women. Each portrait represents a singular, stripped-down vision of the life-changing journey that unites them all.

Dedicated to the more than 10,000 women under the age of 40 who will be diagnosed this year alone, The SCAR Project is an exercise in awareness, hope, reflection and healing. The mission is three-fold: Raise public consciousness of early-onset breast cancer, raise funds for breast cancer research/outreach programs and help young survivors see their scars, faces, figures and experiences through a new, honest and ultimately empowering lens.

Contact Joules Evans
SCAR Project Cincinnati Exhibit Promoter
Planning Committee Lead
joules[at]joulesevans.com
Phone 513-265-4063