Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Current Events



Makes me laugh.
This is kind of what White House news announcements sound like.

Darkness

I notice that people who grew up in the light, so to speak, like to play around with darkness a whole lot more than people who've lived in it. I'm guessing that they think it's not a big deal. It's just a style.

"Dumbest idea ever."

I guess it's true what the bible says, that the light came into the world but men loved darkness rather than the light. It's just a style thing, you know.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hello Past

I can't believe that I actually fell in love here. Under a cashmere canopy that blocks out all traces of heaven. Behind Olive Garden on 196th. This place is as ugly as it gets. One lighted sign after another. Painted aluminum siding in hideous colors, separated by gangly tree branches soaked with rain and littered by cigarrette wrappers. All I smell is exhaust and the Chinese buffet across the street.

I fell in love right over there. I can see it from where I'm standing.

I wish I could have seen where I'm standing right now back then.

What was I thinking?!

I'm going walkabout today. Taking Lynnwood in by foot. I grew up here in he strictest sense of the phrase. This place is where I turned 16 and 18 and 21. I worked here, went to school right down the street from where I'm walking right now. My first kiss happened about two miles from here, in a damp house, on a velvet lounge chair.

I suppose there is something interesting about walking these roads.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Eagles

We watched eagles flying across the lake today. They're here on a stopover on their migration to New Mexico. All along the road were photographers with fancy cameras on stands, aiming their lenses up the mountainside to the frost covered branches where most of the eagles perched.

At first when we were driving and I saw the photographers, I thought they were looking at the mountains covered with snow. It was a beautiful scene, but didn't seem worthy of that level of photography.

I guess that's how a lot of us learn to judge others. From our point of view, they're wasting their time. From our point of view, they make a big deal out of something not very important. But when we finally see what they see, their decisions make a lot more sense.

Oh, that each of us would work tirelessly to see what other people see.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Don't Give Dirty Looks

My brother took me for a morning drive in his BMW around the lake road in Coeur d'Alene. He has a funny commentary dripping like this wet rain from his mouth almost all the time. The grey air is like one of those IKEA lanterns, where the light is hiding behind a wax paper, illuminating everything without seeming to have one source or another.

There are little piles of snow on the sidewalks from last week, little snow poops.

As we pulled into the alley behind my mom and brother's house, a woman and her two daughters were standing in front of his closed garage door. They didn't recognize him, so as he turned into where they were standing, rolled his window down and said, "How's it going," the woman apparently thought he was a stranger stopping to talk to her and her girls. She got a very defensive look that was probably meant to show him that she was not interested in chatting, and partly to show him that she was irritated with him pulling over to talk to her.

It would have been right around that time that she might have noticed the garage door behind his car slowly lifting up. He put the car in reverse and began to back into his parking spot in the garage. If I were her, I would have felt pretty dumb.

Oh, you live here.
Oh, you weren't stopping to talk to me, you were preparing to back into your driveway, and I was standing with my raincoated girls in front of your garage, looking for our cat that's missing because even our cat has picked up on our attitude and wanted to find a better home this Christmas.

Apparently a woman down the street lost her cat and came to knock on the door, wondering if my brother's Rottweiller might have ate him. My brother says that cougars are on the loose in the neighborhood and laughs. I'm not sure if he's being serious or not.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I arrived in the Las Vegas airport before 6pm and made my way slowly along the corridor's blue pattern carpets to the bathrooms, where I meticulously hung up my purse, laptop and heavy coat on the small metal door hook. The bathroom visit was a triumph of creativity over frustration; having to wash my hands without all of my belongings swinging full force into the soaking wet, hair-covered counter-top. Afterwards I wandered slowly along the busy terminal in search for a sandwich shop, which I found in the shape of a Subway very near to my departure gate. I paid for the sandwich and walked a few gates down to mine, where most of the gate seats were empty.

It didn't take more than a moment to spot him. Black wool jacket, newsboy wool cap, cool retro sneakers, carved Italian face with a five o'clock shadow. Probably 28-33, at least 6'2". I sat four seats down from him and imagined all the beautiful and interesting conversations you could have with a man like that.

By the time I began to eat my sandwich, however, any fantasy of two travelers thrown together by winter and fate disappeared as he gathered his book and laptop, got up, and moved down to the end of the row away from me.

I was startled by it, but didn't outwardly acknowledge any of it. After finishing my sandwich, I picked my stuff up and headed away from the gate to the bookseller to see if there were any cheap reads available. It took me easily 30 minutes to choose a book and walk back to the gate, at which time I rounded the corner to my gate and found the seating area stuffed with waiting passengers. There were no seats open.

No seats, that is, except two next to "him."

I stood there stupidly for almost a minute, scanning hopefully across the room for any break in human heads. No such luck. But part of me wanted him to see me having no other option and wanting one desperately.

So I sat down, not next to him, but in the only other seat, leaving a space between us. Even as I sat there adjusting my belongings and preparing to read under imagined scrutiny, noticing my fingernails were dark blue and dirty looking from rubbing against the indigo in my jeans, I had to admit that he was gorgeous. Even without looking I could sense it by the way his dark jeans looked out of the corner of my eye. I also noticed that I was holding my breath and beginning to sweat.

Within two minutes of settling in, he again gathered his belongings and rose out of his seat to find seating elsewhere. There being no available seats, he chose to stand over by the windows, looking out into a darkness as black as his unfriendly soul, I imagine. I searched for answers within myself: Do I know him from somewhere? In the minute possibility that we had met before, was there also some strange possibility that we had bad blood between us?

I would have remembered him. I would definitely remember knowing him.

Time passed and I looked over to see where he was and he was talking on his cell phone, pacing and talking. He caught my glance and stopped in place, and I felt caught like a petty criminal.

But inspite of myself, even caught like that, I looked away and smiled sheepishly. I don't know where he went or what he saw after that, because I decided to content myself with my book and let him be himself all by himself wherever and however he wanted.

But curiosity and women being what they are, I lifted my head and looked for him. My gaze immediately met his, as he was standing less than ten feet away from me to my right, facing me and only me, staring deliberately at me. So shocked was I that I laughed out loud, pulled my head directly back to my book and let my lips mouth the word "wow," as my eyes opened wide in amazement.

I didn't dare turn back around, for he looked serious rather than playful.

Before ten minutes had passed, the seat to my right became the only seat available and I saw his tall frame amble over and sit down next to me. I couldn't help myself at the awkwardness of it. I smiled so big that my my lips felt chapped. He didn't look at me, didn't turn even slightly, and as good as I am at feigning indifference, you can imagine how easily I showed no response one way or another.

The crew began loading for the flight from that gate to Milwaukee, at which point the seating area began to empty out completely while everyone lined up by letter and number by metal poles along the window. Finally he stood up. I didn't look up. He turned around and faced me. I didn't look up. He buttoned his beautiful wool coat. I turned the page. And because I am what women generally are, I lifted my head and looked straight up at him. And he was staring at me. Motionless. Somehow imploring me. For what? I don't know.

He must have expected that I was on his flight because I had been there for an hour and a half. But when I looked up at him in all of his ferocity, knowing full well that I neither knew him nor would ever know him, I smiled politely and dropped my head back down to my book and started back at the top of the page.

Sometimes one gets the impression that they are an integral part of a story that doesn't really involve them.

Delayed Brew

"A sack was never so full but that it would hold another grain."
Another Italian proverb.

Speaking of sacks being full, I just finished packing for Idaho. I have to be up at 7am in order to eat, drink coffee, shower, drink coffee, get ready for church, drink coffee and still have time to put my suitcase in the car to get out of the door by 8am.

One of the better inventions of the last 100 years is:

Not the automobile, although it is useful.
Not spacecraft, for that matter, because I'm talking about on a small, things that make you smile level.


Brew delay on cheap-o coffee pots.
I'm borrowing Marissa's "about-as-fancy-as-Hanes-underwear" coffee pot from the BGKY house for the winter break, and it's got this button you can hold to set a time for the coffee to start brewing {am I testing your patience? Do you all know how delayed brewing works? Yes, probably, on both counts}

So I've got delay brew on like King Kong.
7am.
Plus I set the actual coffee pot to be ahead about three minutes, so that means my coffee will start brewing at about 6:57!! Wow, that's amazing. My suitcase is stuffed with Christmas presents and clothes. But when I say clothes, I should really just say my bag is stuffed with black, v-neck tees and jeans. I must have stopped buying other colors awhile back, so that's something interesting. I realized it as I set out the clothes I intended to bring on the carpet. Why is it that the first thing I thought of was, "Wow, I guess all the pictures from the entire trip are going to look like they happened on the same day with me wearing the same clothes. Bummer." What a strange first thought to have.

Also of note: It seems to be snowing here in Nashville. I wish I was in the mood to take full stock of it or to fully appreciate, but I have a feeling that where I'm going there will be plenty of snow, maybe even too much.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wolves

Wolves do not eat each other.



That's an old French proverb.
apparently

I guess since I don't take French anymore, I'm not really qualified to offer thoughts on anything French. My dreams of being an affluent expat in a perfect little Paris apartment are getting farther and farther away with every purchase of Hanes athletic socks and Florida orange juice. Let's face it: I'm an American, through and through.

Anyway, back to the proverb.
Where exactly are they going with that?

There's a couple doing a Bible study at Starbucks right now, reading Song of Solomon out loud. That has nothing to do with wolves. Or maybe it does. I don't think it does.

I don't know what it means.

Where It Grows

Sometimes you wait so long to get what you want that when you get it, you realize that it's been a long time since you stopped wanting it.

We don't stay the same from year to year.

I realize now how easy it is to live along the lines of cliches, with all the trappings of status quo.

Frankly, it's hard to carve out your own path. No matter what people say about that being the thing to do. People say that, but the actually carving and the real walking on the path is much different than the advertisements.

All along my way, all the signs point to the road more travelled. It's not that it takes incredible effort to change or to make progress. It's just that there aren't hoardes of people along the side of the road, clapping for you and telling you it's worth it. You just have to think it's worth it in your heart. It doesn't really matter to anyone else if you've made life better for yourself. And most of us aren't big enough to make life better for thousands upon thousands of people. So it's really just about doing it because you think it's the way things should be done.

It's not that incentives don't work.
But sometimes there just aren't a lot of incentives to live really meaningful lives.

What kind of fallen, broken place is this.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Long and Winding Road ... Still Ahead

"Anyone who is not totally dead to himself will soon find that he is tempted and overcome by piddling and frivolous things. Whoever is weak in spirit, given to the flesh, and inclined to sensual things can, but only with great difficulty, drag himself away from his earthly desires. Therefore he often gloomy and sad when he is trying to pull himself from them and easily gives in to anger should someone attempt to oppose him."
-Imitation of Christ

God takes anyone who wishes to journey with him up hills, down hills, into caves, out into sunlight and always there is a bit of the path that winds around a cliff and along which you could misstep and fall into a dangerous ravine below. We always want to "journey" with God. But unlike our church services, our movies, or even our video games, which have beginnings and ends--the journey with God, once it begins, is not a ride you can exit when your stomach gets queazy. It's not a TV series that you can just stop watching until "it gets good again."

I mean, if only. Because there was this long part of the O.C., in which Marissa was dating a girl and Summer and Seth were neither here nor there, and I often got up and made myself lunch or went to the bathroom without even pausing the DVD. It mattered that little what was happening during that part of the season.

So journeying with God--you might use language that paints the picture that "now" you want to take a journey with God, lasting for some designated season, at the end of which you will arrive at some awesome place of maturity both relationally and financially {since that's the only thing young Christian singles ever seem to want to "take a journey with God" for}.

It doesn't work that way. He waits our whole life for us to finally push the giant, green "YES" button for spirituality and then he takes us on a journey alright. A journey that lasts FOR EVER. You never get off the ride. You never stop the movie. Everything you do, every bathroom break you take...it doesn't stop the journey. It doesn't end one journey and begin another. It's all the same journey!!!

You may think I'm getting a little worked up about this. Really, I'm just amazed at how I've been able to compartmentalize different seasons of my faith to make it all a little easier to understand. "This" was that season where I was desperate for God because my life was in complete and utter chaos. "This" was that season where I journeyed with God to break the cycles of whatever. "This" was the season where I journeyed with God to determine if I was really going to be a pastor's wife one day.

"This" is the season where I stopped believing that he was going to do something beautiful in an area of my life. When I started thinking that I maybe had embellished his will for my life and naively expected good things that had nothing to do with what he really wanted for me.

Now "this" is the season where I realize that I let a few disappointments get the best of me. A few rejections. A few misunderstandings. A few slips of logic. When I finally see how much "that" one thing really hurt me.

This is the journey back home.

That's what I was feeling this week. That I'm now taking a new journey with God. Except--it's not new. It's the same journey I've been on since the beginning. He's been doing the same work in me since those very first days of faith when I walked along with my eyes closed and my hands out, palms upward, expecting something good from Him.

My posture and my attitude have changed the most in the journey. Sometimes running forward and outpacing him, frightened beyond my wits. Sometimes walking with my head looking back over my shoulder, like Lot's wife so stupidly did all those years ago, wondering if taking a journey sabotaged other possibilities in my life. Sometimes moving at a snail's pace while he mimes all these warning and danger signs to me, which I don't heed.

And all of this made me realize something else about my worst self. The one I used to be so freakingly in a hurry to stop being...

What I was then and still am on my worst days -- is not worth saving. That's not who He saved. The woman He is turning me into -- the woman I am becoming at the end of this journey -- that woman has eternity like a fragrance hanging around her. That person I will be is worth saving. What's so ironic, is that he was willing to fight for her. If He was willing to fight for her, why don't I?

That's my journey. Finding out why it's important to fight for the work He is doing...even in the "seasons" when the script-writers have absolutely no sense of humor.

This Isn't A Very Good Pep Talk, But Then Again...

My four biggest worries:
-That I won't do well on my history and math finals and will lose the grade I've earned all semester in a few short, silent hours next week.
-That I will run out of money in the next two weeks.
-That I won't be able to stop binging on Jew cakes (Leibniz bisuits) now that I've been eating sugar all week for my birthday.
-That I'm wasting the precious time God has given me on too much fun and too little research.

My four happiest memories from this year:
-A Whole Foods run with Shelby late one night when she was sick and I got free pizza. We laughed so hard.
-My first week of school in January; how new & scary & exhilarating
-Noshville at lunch with Becca weeks in a row
-Dinner with Cameron at Cha Cha's on Belmont

It's funny how the happiest moments of my year had something to do with sharing food with someone else. It's funny that my biggest worries all revolve around self-discipline.

I've been sitting around for hours this afternoon, putting off my gym time and my study time just because. Because I'm tired of hard work and tired of fearing that I'll blow it all if I'm not careful.

Sometimes I just need to stop and remind myself that it's no big deal. My life. My death. My hard work. My weakness. My eating. My running. My studying. My grade point. My getting a good job. My relationships with men. My family dynamics. My worn out skin and the lotion that I have to constantly buy to keep my skin from becoming a cakey, Mohave desert shell around me.

It's no big deal, girl.
Even if it all crumbles away, which it never does--but even if it does, nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. Nothing is so devastating that He's not there when you wake up in the morning, giving you a moment of respite from the worry or the guilt or the despair.

It's no big deal.






Now go do what you need to do and stop wasting time, you lazy bum. You think this life is going to live itself? You're just going to sit around and somehow you'll magically know everything and have a better running time and the house will be clean?

Get over feeling bored and tired and stressed. Jump in with both...hearts. The one you use to love sitting around and doing nothing, and the one that loves all the things in life that are yet to be. You'll need both of them to finish the job.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brrrr, It's Cold in Here

I was making conversation with a friend by email a moment ago and was so pleased with the discovery of a little Machiavellian heart in my chest that I must post here my response for your amusement.

We were talking about getting over those you've loved.

I think if you have a beautiful and pure heart, then you are faced with the Jane Austen unbending love problem. That love is not love which alters when it alteration finds. It's a terrible predicament when we must choose to lose our ideals concerning how we love or face annihilation of our souls for nurturing an undying, unrequited sympathy.

Be Machiavellian, I say--gratefully fling love aside as soon as possible. Heck, don't let yourself ever get there

---------

I would add that I wouldn't be willing to love someone unless they made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Put your money where your mouth is, I say. I've got plenty of men around if I'm just looking for someone to talk to.

It Really Is Too Bad

Everything = Bad

The whiny Alanis Morrisette song that just played, the "Your love is like bad medicine" that played before that, and the terrible Christmas shopping advertisements that are now playing too loud on the coffee shop radio while I figure out my study schedule = Bad.

The food I ate for lunch being gone = Bad.

The teeth sensitivity mixed with cold weather = Bad.

The three finals in a row scheduled for next Tuesday, starting at 8 AM = Bad.

Basically:
Everything = Bad

Even good things somehow = Bad right now, which means that there is another variable being surrepticiously added to my life equations and outweighing all the good.

If Bad = Bad,
And Good = Good,
Then Good + (something) = Bad

First, that (something) has to take away all the Good. Then, it has to add a whole Bad. Wow. So:

(something)=-Good + Bad

A (- Good) = Bad.
So (something) = Bad+Bad

Man, that's 2 Bad. Something is 2 Bad in my life, that's for sure...
Get it?

Aaaaanyways...
That means that 2Bad is surrepticiously being added to my life equation, in effect, wiping out the Good feelings and leaving me with a Bad feeling.

And during Christmas, to boot. Geeze.

I'm no fool. This comes right at a time when I'm learning how to step away from the comforts and conveniences of a pleasurable existence (minus last night's birthday pizza and cupcakes). Of course I feel like everything = bad. Of course the world itself, like a mule, has turned and gone the other way. Spiteful turn of events.

I'm just complaining here, take no notice. But please, someone turn off this crappy radio station before I plunge my used and dirty spoon into my own heart.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Imitation of Christ, Another Quote

“I would rather experience repentance in my soul than know how to define it.”
Thomas a Kempis

Turning Over

It's not me.
Bent down low and washed up.
A torn, discarded coffee cup.
Used shoes and broken laces.
Fallen friends with false faces.

It's not me.

Time for climbing different trees.
Sinking into darkened soil.
Nesting down deep.
Shuffling through colored leaves.

And this is me.
The mellow waltzing of silky birds.
A breeze across the winter air.
A lifted, lilting, tingled feeling.
Dancing through the shaded woods.

This is me.
The sound of laundry turning.
The cement firm under each step.
A fiery, crackling, ember burning.
The warmth of spring's distant welcome.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To Know God

The old man stopped by last night.

He told me to relax.
He told me to sleep.

"Everything will be easier in the morning," he told me.

But I slept through my alarm.

I can still hear his voice, telling me that what I desire isn't different than anyone else I know. "You only want what all others have. What could be so bad about that?"

But the voice sounds like a dark murmur today--the old man wants to be the new me, but I know better.

What is wanting?
What is having?
What is living?

To know God.
To know God.
To know God.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shoulda Been Writing

I'm in the holiday spirit.
Trying to make the season bright.

I've got an essay due in about 17 hours and I'm going to go for a run before I get involved in it.

If I were smart, I would skip working out today and focus on my school work. But I get so lazy and sloppy and tired if I don't work out, and I have no idea where or how that would hit me...or when. So I'm going for a simple three or four mile run. What I hate about my work ethic this semester is that I can't find it. It's like that thing I packed up in a box last January and moved all the way to Bowling Green and never unpacked. Those things. {I actually have a stack of about ten boxes full of miscellaneous items that were only of use to me in my past life as an office robot}

I've got my birthday party tomorrow night & I couldn't be happier. Happy friends and maybe happy music and definitely happy sweets like cookies and cupcakes. All those things add up into one sweet happy me, hopefully.

There's a lot to be said for rounding the corner on another birthday. A lot of things I haven't figured out yet. But, like mildew on a toilet, there's a lot that's been growing undercover over time that I totally forget about. I ran into a girl at school who practically rained down the joy of Christ on me today while I ate my lunch. She says that she doesn't necessarily always make a perfect "disciple," but her enthusiasm was totally contagious and gave me a good reminder that I need to keep my heart focused on loving God.

I could sit here and kill time until my 17 hours turns into 2 or 3 {which is how I handled the last essay}. I'm going to play this one smart and go away from this den of sin {read: house of sleep & TV temptation}, and I already made sure that I had finished season one of my latest TV show fetish before the paper would be due so that I wouldn't be tempted to throw in the essay towel and sit on my recliner watching TV. Yeah, that's what I was doing all last week instead of my homework...I was preparing myself to be emotionally and TValistically free to do my paper tonight. Some might call it procrastination or distraction, but we both know it was preparation. One man's procrastination today is another man's preparation for hard work tomorrow.

There's a verse in the New Testament that says "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." Sometimes you've got to tie your own hands behind your back if you're too weak to do what you need to do. If I stay at home to do my essay, I'll do everything except my essay. {I thought I was past this type of negligent, weak-willed, undisciplined crap, too, don't worry}. So if I plan to stay at home anyway, knowing that this place distracts me, I'm basically planning on not doing my essay. And as much as I'd like to mess up my grades in the last two weeks of school....yeah. Nope.

If I could do anything tonight, and not have to do what I have to do, I would get dressed up in a black dress that I don't even own with a good pair of heels and a lot of hairspray and perfume and I would be out at dinner at some cute little restaurant. Then I would go back to some house that looks a bit like the interior of Restoration Hardware and crash in my UGG boots and lots of layers on a giant, deep couch to watch romantic comedies.

Do you see what's happening to me lately? I'm locked in a glass case of fantasy.
Don't get me out, though.
At least not until the semester is over.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wish List

One last thing.
Christmas shopping has been funny this year. I keep seeing all these things that I want and am not buying. Maybe I used to buy more things for myself more often. Yes, I know I did. But I also wanted different things.

I used to want really fancy, useless things. Now I have all these needs.

Like...

I need these because walking to and from school in the icy weather is ridiculous in Tom's cloth shoes, as I learned today:


I need this for the same reason as the boots; too too cold:


I want this, Britt understands:


I want something like this:


I'd like to wake up on my birthday to find a drawer full of new socks and underwear and a new scarf. I'd like to have a new bottle of perfume and a fresh selection of pajamas to wear. I'd love to have a new, warm blanket.

New eyeliner I need. New lipgloss. New blush. More cotton balls. More nail files. More Starbucks. More cupcakes. More chocolate soy milk. More eggs.

There's really no end once you start listing it, right...

Ahhhh, that was fun, though.

Old Birthday Reminiscing

My birthday is almost here again. How weird.

Reading through my old blog from years past, I really liked one of the birthday posts I cam across, from two years ago. If you were reading then you may remember {I remember those days as my brilliant, witty days, before the onslaught of my boring blogger personality this spring}. I hope that some of these things are more true and that some are less:

"So today is my 29th birthday.
And I'm looking over my old journals, to see who I was last year, and the year before. I'm pretty much nothing like who I was a year ago. How scary is that?

Sometimes I want to lay on the brakes and shout, "NOOOOOO, STOP!!!!" Just because the speed of change is rocking my boat and tearing at the fabric of my very life.


But I don't. I just go to sleep, wake up, make a few commentaries and deal with it.
Am I doing the best job?
Gosh, I don't know.
I wish I wouldn't be self-destructive, that's something new that I'm coping with. I let things fall apart, just to watch the glass break. I play the role of outside observer in my own life sometimes, and it could possibly ruin me if I let it. I hate that.

But I see beauty.
And goodness.
I recognize an ambling butterfly for what it is, and I am delighted by warm breezes.

I have virtue.

My heart is not abolished within me.

It lives and is growing.
Fast and quietly.

My new favorite quote is from Rainer Maria Rilke, from the book that Andrea gave me, "Letters to a Young Poet." He says in one of his letters:
Be patient and without resentment.

How great is that. Simple, refined and monumental. It is the best advice to start a new year with.

Be patient.
And without resentment."

Oh Past & Love

I just got a love blast from the past.
Someone I adored. How I adored him so pointlessly. Sigh.
I'm sure he really cared for me, in one of those ways that didn't mean anything but he thought was still supposed to mean something to me.

In a way, it's hard to remember hoping for something to happen with him. I was naive about him and so fruitlessly optimistic. There was what I believed was going to happen between us, and there was what I believed had already happened to us and when nothing came of it all, I severed my connection to fruitless optimism once and for all.

I suppose a lot of things have changed since then. In those days I was like low-hanging fruit, easy to grab and take. There were so many things I wanted and so many dreams that I thought I had no way of achieving on my own. I was waiting for someone to come along and change all that, and just about any person could have convinced me that their dreams needed my partnership to make them come true. When you don't have any plans of your own, it doesn't take much for someone to convince you to go with them wherever they are going.

These days, everything I want is in the palm of my hand and I don't need anyone else to ride in and save me from living the dream, so the stakes are a lot higher. Also, I used to work hard for men; I'd be where they wanted me to be and I'd wear what they wanted me to wear and I'd be who they wanted me to be. But I'm not a 25 year old girl and I don't work hard for men anymore.

I suppose I wish I knew about all this at 18 or 21 (or even 27). That a good man doesn't run you around the tree and make you do all the work, just so he can say he has you on his leash. That the best men, and they are out there, are the ones confident enough in themselves that when you're around them, you forget about what's wrong with relationships and you feel more like a woman than you've ever felt before.

I remember being young. And I remember wanting to be someone's ideal; wanting to do all the things that an ideal woman would do and wanting to be all the things that an ideal woman would be. I've found over the years that the only women that men think should be ideal are the ones in the Victoria Secret magazines, and almost any other woman can win the heart of a man by humor and a little empathy. Men are simple creatures, really, which I like. They don't like being criticized or mocked. They like to be flirted with. They don't know how to act properly around women and they're absolute fools about the women they like. I wish I would have known these things when I was young enough to want to win the heart of men.

Now, I'm not sure what I want from love. Not enough, probably. I'm not interested in winning the hearts as much as the minds of men. The rest is up to them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Good Start to December

As I was reading the Psalms for the day a minute ago, Psalm 61 grabbed me, so I'll put part of it here for you:

"1 From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
4 I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah
5 For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name. "

This is exactly how I feel about my relationship with God--about my journey so far.

He has been the rock that is higher than I am, when I feel overwhelmed.

He has been my tower of defense that I run to.

He has been my shelter during storms.

Changes and Chances

There is so much life left to live.

There is something hopeful in that. Something optimistic.

Sometimes I feel like I've lived and died and lived and died a thousand lives. I feel like I'm an old wineskin, and yet I'm still here, still being recreated into something newer and incomprehensible to all I've been. It's difficult enough to accept the changes and chances of this life. Without having to keep adjusting your dreams and re-analyzing your situation again and again. And no matter how prepared I feel, sometimes the plainness of life and the complete and utter lack of influence I wield over it can be shocking. I hate to feel powerless.

When the going gets tough, it seems easier to take whatever comes at me and turn it this way and that until it fits into everything that I've already seen and felt and understood. It's much harder to take a new thing and say to myself, "This, this thing...it's a new thing. It's something I've never felt, never known. I can't respond in the typical ways. It's something I don't understand."

It's hard to look at my world with fresh eyes and see it for it's problems and it's beauty. It's hard to ask that of myself every single day.

I guess that's the difference between reacting to life and responding to it. Or to living it.

My roommate has a poster in her room that says something like:

The goal of life is not to find yourself.
The goal is to create yourself.

I know there are better, more spiritual ways to say something like that that don't ruffle our theological feathers. Yet I like what it's getting at. We can't wait for things to come at us and then look back and define our lives according to what we let happen to us. We have to dream and have a vision for our lives, and we have to pursue it with God as the master architect beside us. We cannot let ourselves become just anything, considering our lives were bought with real blood for something very specific and very personal. We're not just statistics.

I've been really touched by some of the gospel stories out of Luke this past week. We can choose who we will be--the throng of people that stood around Jesus listening to his weird parables and watching miraculous things happening--or the leper who came to Jesus from the crowd and said, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." I don't know why those words mean so much to me. But what a thing, to want something different for yourself that bad. And to go get it.

There really is more to life than changes and chances.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bowling Green Files

I'm alone in Bowling Green.

I'm listening to Radiohead. It's tempting when idealizing my life to myself to remember that only a few hours ago I was sitting at a window booth at Noshville with two beautiful, intelligent women and laughing while eating delicious eggs.

It's tempting to idealize myself like that because five minutes ago, while I was unpacking my bathroom stuff, I was startled by the presence of a giant grasshopper in my 60s-era mint bathtub. And with all the warmth of my Christmas heart, I turned around, opened the right hand door of the cabinet below the sink, lifted out the green foil canister of Comet, turned back to the bathtub and dumped a pile of it onto the grasshopper. Then I turned the faucet on and lifted the metal tab for the shower nozzle.

Five minutes ago, that is, I killed a grasshopper--the only discernible presence of life in my quiet, woodsy cottage.

At least I wasn't laughing when I did it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

I'm sitting in the basement of a McHouse in Brentwood/Franklin, where Shelby lives now. We're listening to Griffin House and I was looking up possible Spring semester classes in the kitchen while she made pico.

There are so many good memories with this girl. She's the best possible sort of person to have in your life. She makes the bad times good and the good times better. If someone tried to be her best friend in my place, I wouldn't let her go without a fight. And I would win.

It's cold down here and the whole day is ahead of us. In our pajamas, it feels like anything is possible. I wish we could just do something fun and self-indulgent, like the old days. There were actually days when we felt like we could spend as much money and time as we wanted on things that didn't matter at all. But we'll go our separate ways in a few hours so that we can work out and get our stuff done. Self-indulgence has to wait. I guess that's what they call self-restraint.

I will go to Target to look for Scrabble. Because I don't want to go to my family without having something like that to take with me. And other things I need are probably there, too. I guess some people woke up really early to hit the stores today, right? I was sleeping, so I don't know about that.

Thanksgivings

I guess the family Thanksgiving is over for awhile.

Over until I have my own family. I don't even remember the last Thanksgiving with my parents--it could only have been two years ago or three at most. It was the same as every family Thanksgiving, I know that much.

Thanksgiving with friends is different than with family--at family holidays there's always tons of people that are older and more gluttonous than me, trying to convince me to eat twice my weight in cranberry melange or stuffing, and doing a pretty good job. Maybe that's not the best thing in the world, to have that kind of peer pressure...but it's nice to have someone talk you out of your ruts every so often.

Thanksgiving with friends also lacks the family tradition of going to the movies to see the latest holiday blockbuster. We had a great run of movies during the late 90s and early 2000s when Tom Hanks seemed to have a good movie come out every Thanksgiving.

But with all the changes, I guess I'm still thankful to have friends at all. To have a place to eat, and to have the food be so delicious. I'm heading to bed and my stomach is full.

This year I'm thankful for:

-Going back to school
-The bed my mom gave me a few years ago that is so wonderful
-Gym workouts that relax my soul
-The best friend in the world
-Eggs (easy to cook and enjoy)
-People who are there for me when I need them
-Tears, how they cleanse
-Dark blue jeans & UGG boots to keeps my feets warm
-Blonde highlights
-Gigi's cupcakes
-Taking chances (even if they don't work out)
-Hope
-Privacy
-Old friends who keep me sane via telephone
-Lindt chocolate 70% Cacao bar
-Chocolate soy milk
-Oil of Olay sensitive skin moisturizer
-Soft brown towels that I almost didn't buy
-Always having enough food
-Morning Joe news EVERY weekday morning
-The old Hillsong albums
-Sunny days (already hard to remember what that feels like)
-That summer mortgage job
-The fact that my retainers still fit

There's really so much more. So much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Rambling Set of Thoughts


If I could show this world to my unborn children, I would show them the way the plaster of one of the buildings on campus curves into an arch with sunken light fixtures that are always on, even in the middle of the afternoon. The way sidewalks are worn and greasy in the middle along the main pathways but clean and fresh in the more inconvenient places. Those clean and fresh patches of cement, usually bordered by grass or a brick wall, are my favorite places to sit and lean my face into the sun.

Today the blue sky is crisp and alive, with moving clouds that are whiter than any cotton sheet I've ever seen. They're full of light, dragging across the sky above me.

This is the most peaceful place--Bowling Green. If nothing had a sound, Bowling Green would be full of it, because nothing seems to be the only thing around for miles. I ran down my street for nearly a mile into the downtown redevelopment district and less than ten cars passed me on that long stretch. The edges of the streets are piled with quiet, orange leaves and the barren branches of strange bushes poke straight into the air like some sort of knifey monster (I'm thinking Edward Scissorhands-ish) holding his knifey hands straight into the air.

I ran for an hour and a half and then sat on the grey steps outside Snell Hall, watching and old man with a bright yellow bag walk slowly to the end of the street. Old people make me wonder. About myself--about my ability to live a moderately paced, practical lifestyle. Even in the same breath as watching him and wondering about my future, I thought about how much I'd like to be wearing a really awesome new outfit. There's very little hope for people like me to convert to moderation. But that's not today's problem.

Today is the day before Thanksgiving. I still don't have a plan for what I'm bringing to Thanksgiving dinner with T&C and Co. Something vegan would require me to buy about $50 in ingredients. And it would require me to cook. Neither sound very appealing right now as I'm still sitting in my running clothes, covered in stank and wanting to already be with my friends in Nashville. Something not vegan wouldn't be organic or otherworldly enough for this crowd who make all of their own foods using types of flour that sound like something out of a Chaucer story.

I wish that it weren't Thanksgiving. That we could still get together and eat, but that it wouldn't be food for a 1700s American farm theme. I've always considered turkey to be one of the foulest foods ever. I've eaten it about 25 times in my life and don't remember even once thinking, "Mmmm, I wish I could have this more often."

But yams with brown sugar and marshmallows? That's a different story. I could eat that every day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rest for My Soul

I read a self-help book yesterday.
A workbook, actually.
I used to be into self-help hardcore, because I believed that we can shape our future selves by learning new habits and ways of handling our problems. That was before I was a Christian. A few years into being a Christian, I stopped thinking that I had any problems. Chalk a bad day up to an attack from the enemy and chalk a bad pattern of behavior up to generational curses, you know.

These last five months have been excruciating. That's not what you want to hear, but if you've read this blog any time since July, you're probably standing over your laptop with a First Aid kit every time you click on this site, wondering if I'm surviving myself or not. But most of the people that see me on a regular basis don't even know how bad I'm doing, or how good that bad is for me. And there are some things that are too hard to talk about. Some feelings that are beyond expression.

What I know about these last five months:

I know that things got harder instead of easier.
That instead of finding the pressure exciting, I found it destructive.
Instead of making measured attempts to solve the challenges, I froze in place.

And I also know that:
I would rather not have to find a cure for this.
I would rather not have to answer questions in an 8"x11.5" workbook.
I would rather not face any of it--

death
grief
anger
sadness
loneliness
frustration
disappointment
despair
silence

My twenties could be retold as a story in which a girl lives very carefully in order to avoid all of those things. If you're always going, always growing, always developing ... it's hard to imagine what any of those things feel like. It's hard to imagine what any of those things can do to a person's hope and joy.

And yet.
I can imagine it now.

Yesterday, because of God answering my prayers, and not because of anything else in this world, the intensity of what I've been going through broke. Relief flooded me and I was reminded inside of the verse, "Come to me all who labor or are heavy laden and I will give you rest for your souls," and I was happy that it was really true.

Tomorrow is another day, full of its own emotions. But for today, I'm free.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Almost Done

When the pressure tightens around you, it can be tempting to disengage. I'm absolutely certain that, here at the end of the semester, my hard work is imperative, now more than ever.

A long conversation with a professor yesterday reminded me that I am exactly where I belong. Only four weeks left ± a week of finals.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leniency

Last night, as if I needed proof, I proved that I can pull no rabbits out of hats. I waited outside my prof's office after lunch to turn my paper in late because I missed his morning class (a first for everything) and seeing him I smiled and told him what my deal was. The first thing I said was, "I know your policy; I'm just hoping you'll accept it at all."

He said, it's near enough to class to be counted on time (his policy is that it has to be turned in during class to be on time). He was good to me. I don't deserve mercy or leniency.

I am grateful.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

If I Can Hold Out a Little Longer

I keep saying I wish I could stop time. But now I want time to speed up.

It's almost the end of the semester.

Holiday travel.
Family.
Joy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Long Fall

The fall, although beautiful, brings with it a deafening and murky silence. I wonder about the information I'm learning. I walk from class to class out of habit rather then with a confident sense of purpose.

To be honest, a lot of my days feel this way.

Confusing.
Long.
Exhausting.


In a little snickerdoodle of goodness that brightened my week, today my abstract algebra professor asked me about my future plans. And he admitted that I remind him of the European women he met when he did his graduate work overseas. He said that they never felt they had to compromise or make choices between being coquettish and being taken seriously in the math department. He is recommending that I do my graduate work in Barcelona, Paris or England, and there are a lot of reasons why that might be a good idea. He's already started the process of directing me to one of those places.

Of course, on a murky, quiet day in fall, I'm grateful to feel like the future is out there somewhere, unlocking the door for me and making tea.

Out the window is another 7:30 p.m. fall evening, however. It is a little more immediate, unfortunately, and it offers me no tea.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Light Reflection

Outside my window I notice that the light reflects off of the grass and the beige paint, and that it seems to be emanating from the sky itself. The warmth of it is like a power that bounces off and bursts forth, and I'm going to sit outside, under the sky, where the warmth can cover me and soothe my nerves.

This light is beautiful.
The green of the grass is bright and alive, and the slender blades tremble in the breeze.

The only visitors along the street are the passing shadows of mailboxes and stop signs; all is quiet and waiting.

A tiny spider landed gently on the pavement, floating downward on his silken web from his tree perch to the world below, blown loose by a sudden gust of wind.

Sunny Morning Though Quiet, Quiet Though

This morning is quiet and sunny. There is a light cawing and warbling of birds, a soft sweeping of an old man raking leaves into a pile, the scratching of dead leaves as they blow across the pavement. I witness this morning from the inside of a personal silence. Somewhere, something is left undone, and deep inside I know there's a reckoning to face. In the meantime I have this sunny quietude and the simplicity of only Wednesday's homework to turn in, which is a relief.

I'm smiling as a philosophical gesture to my future. I wonder if I'm shaping or being shaped by the silence and by the sadness I've felt so often lately.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cock-a-roach-a

There was a cockroach in my house this morning.

I stepped on it.
And I left it on the floor because I was late for school and needed to come home later to make sure that it was really a cockroach and not some sort of junebug.

But when I got home it was gone.

I don't think I killed it. Either that or the cockroach mafia came and cleaned up the evidence.

Sickening.
I don't want to eat here ever again.

Time Zones

Sometimes I feel as though I'm alone with my grief here in Kentucky.

It is my constant companion.

But I dread how quickly the months are passing and how the gauze that separates heaven and earth is thickening with each passing day, and will continue to until my ability to peer into eternity is completely obscured.

That's the thing about death. One thing about death, I guess: this world we live in seems so faint, so fragile and so temporary when you experience a moment of eternity. For a short time I have been permitted to stand with half my soul here on earth and the other half in a place so much more permanent than here--and as the days pass, that sense of what is beyond this time is less tangible, less immediate.

I don't know how I feel about that, either.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Roy Orbison, That Heartbreak-er

When I was driving down the street in Nashville last week, a Roy Orbison classic song came on the radio. I sang along as loud as I could, belting every syllable I knew and humming over the ones I didn't. Tears pooled in my eyes and streamed down my cheeks and I kept driving as I kept singing as I kept crying.

Two Christmases ago when my parents came to Nashville to stay with me, I was jazzed about showing them "my town." We went to all of my favorite places: Noshville (seated next to Amy Grant!), Jackson's (we argued a lot there), FIDO (I think it may have been a little confusing for them), and the Loveless Cafe (oh, the biscuits).

That was also the year that my dad picked out a Christmas gift for me completely on his own, and it's the only time that I can remember him doing that. He was excited about it, telling me in advance, preparing me for something special. The gift was two music CDs; it was actually two different albums from the five sibling piano quintet, "The 5 Browns." The special-ness of this gift was that--I guess you could say that we shared a love; a zeal really, for wild and erratic piano players. I can remember that once, during one of his mid-afternoon phone calls, I became so sentimental about Liberace that I started searching for YouTubes of his performances, and narrated his theatrics over the phone to my dad.

On that Christmas trip, because of some degrading conversational remark of mine about the irony of the Nashville music scene, Dad began a historical talking tour of Roy Orbison's greatest life moments, including a recounting of wise and eloquent quotes from Roy himself.

Before that moment, I didn't realize that Dad loved Roy Orbison. When I think of the "music of my childhood," like so many American children living the 1980s television dream, my natural inclination is to think of the echoes of NASCAR engines around a track or the auctioneer-like WWF announcers shouting, "HERE COMES JAKE THE SNAKE WITH A CHAIR!!"

Just as on other occasions, I learned that Dad had a whole storehouse of personal feelings that I didn't know about. For every connection we shared, for every moment of collaboration between us, there were equally as many mysteries that shadowed our knowledge of one another, and so many, many things that we didn't share in our thirty years together. After Dad mentioned Roy singing for "The Traveling Wilburys" and vehemently persuaded me to listen to them, I ran up to my room and under the pretext of getting ready to leave for lunch, downloaded the whole collection of songs off iTunes and burned him a copy to take home.

In all that you have, there is something that you still cannot attain. Roy Orbison. Roy Orbison and all the things he represents to me--all the mysteries locked inside Dad's heart that faded away with the turning off of that damned machine.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Divide & Conquer

And I prayed that God would give me the grace to study and study and study and...
to study as if my life depended upon it.


But it's not my life that depends on it; it's all the people who won't be enrolled in college this year...or ever. All the people who walk through the doors that open to them, who make choices to maximize their own utility function and who may not know how to solve the problems in their neighborhoods and communities.

Some lives revolve so tightly around worry and despair, that by gripping to hold on in the midst of that spinning, they lack enough insight into the problems to know how to climb above them. When your biggest concern is holding on for dear life, climbing is out of the question.

So as I was praying, it immediately became obvious that the reason I need grace to study, is that someone's life depends on it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Those Days

I'm not sure I ever recovered from losing my daily doses of Amy and Stephanie. Those were different days. So much ennui, so much frustrated optimism.

Everybody needs a few extremely intelligent and witty sounding boards. I've had more than my fair share at times; I realize that.

Friday, October 30, 2009

First, Do No Harm

"Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."

-T. S. Eliot

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Our God

There is something very beautiful and tragic about saying,

"Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power and love"


We sang that around my Dad's bedside after his heart stopped. What a sad group of singers we were. Maybe Karmen's fragile voice started first and we all joined in as we could, reluctantly and then with determination. After praying about his recovery finally became unnecessary.

Sometimes "he reigns with wisdom, power and love" is a deeply beautiful and deeply comforting yet ultimately very difficult thing to know and to sing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Speaking of Beautiful People

Speaking of beautiful people, not that we were...

I am crazy about Kate Winslet. I absolutely love her style and how womanly she is.

There is something world-weary and knowing in her eyes, perhaps that's what I like about her. She's no dizzy dame.


Jihad & Crusade, A Story About Two Brothers (JK JK)

Currently writing an essay about the Islamic-Christian attitudes toward one another during the early Crusades, specifically how their wrong beliefs about the opposition's faith and values might or might not have been the straw that broke the camel's back. In Western Christianity you've got this growing warrior class of nobles constrained by scarce land and money, fighting each other over and over again, but mostly chasing tails. In Eastern Islam you've got the people who kept Greek thought alive while the West lost all literacy and intelligence, and a people group who were the trading center of the whole Old World, wanting to expand their trade and develop their wealth and influence to the people of the West who spent their time chasing tails.

The original texts written by Muslims and Christians of that era are surprising. The Christians actually seem pretty superstitious and backwards and they do weird things in the name of God like having a boat load of prostitutes shipped to the Holy Land to provide the crusaders with necessary services of all sorts. You also hear these stories about women dressing themselves up like men to fight and older women acting like busybodies around town. Very weird. The Muslims seem snooty but are admittedly much more sophisticated in science, math and medicine because they didn't go through the same "Dark Age" period where learning was snuffed out, so they've got this attitude toward the Westerners that is like a teenager smirking at his five year old brother for wearing a towel around his neck and calling himself a warrior. The crusaders come off as zealous and ardent in a way that makes a modern Christian cringe, whereas the jihadists are lucky enough to come off as rational but simply repulsed by the crusaders.

Any number of theses could work for this essay, but of course, I'm looking for the perfect golden scarab hiding under an amethyst rock. I think that the fact that these original eyewitness accounts of the crusades are so surprising to me is a great start. Curiosity is always a better fuel than boredom for these sorts of things.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lean on Me

Getting sick.

Taking two really big tests today.

God has given us everything we need for life and godliness.

I'm leaning on Him today.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Best Things

Some things are too good to be true.


Some things are so true that they cannot be anything else.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is be repentent.

And... honest.
And... hopeful.

(A little excitement doesn't hurt, either)

But in the end? The best things in life can't be earned or stolen. They can only be given and received.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Converting the Soul




Whatever things might change as time goes by, my day is still my own right now.

I'm sitting on an old stucco-like wall that has been painted over again and again. My shoes are off, kicked onto the cement below where I'm perched. My jeans are rolled up to my knees and I've lathered my feet with hand lotion that I keep in my backpack. I've got three shirts on to keep me warm, even though the sun is out in full force right now. I'm facing the sun directly and my hair is pulled back into a ponytail.

I ate my lunch like this and random bumble bees and flying insects came and went like friendly visitors to my lunchtime reverie. The grass is still green and soft, and still feels wonderful on warm days like this when I have a two hour lunch break to while away in whatever manner pleases me.

I like to think that every day should have moments like this, where the connection between heaven and earth is tangible. I read yesterday a verse that said something like the testimony of the Lord is good and converts the soul. Today feels like the embodiment of that idea. The goodness of God is more obvious to me when I'm this relaxed and at peace. It converts the wayward places in my soul.

As Dixon often says: Pray, God is near.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

When I Get Where I'm Going

Ever flown over the Atlantic in the middle of the night with a handful of babies on board, when all of the sudden one baby begins to wail like a frightened bird and shortly afterwards, every child under the age of common sense is crying and wailing, too? What an experience. The mother of the first baby has about a five second window to get the crying under control before the cacophony begins, because emotions are contagious.

But emotions aren't just contagious from one person to another. Even inside our funny human little bodies, there's something bubonic catchy about emotion. Like little tiled masterpieces within us, our emotional landscapes are so interconnected that one feeling sets off another which sets off another, like dominoes.

The big culprit for me these days--the sand in my shoe--the cockroach in my Pancake Pantry omelet: is joy. Joy & the place it always takes me: its chain reaction cousin: sorrow.

It's like taking an optimistic walk through Hyde Park and getting blown up by a land mine. Unexpected. The tiniest moments of relief set off hours of sorrow. Little joys trigger spotted pangs of grief that move through my intestines.

I thought I wouldn't write about my Dad; but lately he is always on my mind. It feels like I've been holding my breath every moment since he left. I am so sad, so often. It feels like it will never get better.

For some reason, sorrow is the end of the line. There don't appear to be any dominoes beyond this last piece.

Friday, October 16, 2009

There's a reason why I love Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew."

Yeah, it takes me awhile to come around. But look at it this way: If you do manage to win me over, you get the best of me. Because all of us have a stash of gold we keep hidden from the romantic gamblers in our midst.

I surprise even myself.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

No More Bare Fingers

It's that time again. The time of year I associate with unhappy lives and the subordination of the foolish to extreme cold.

As much as I love checking in on my Blackberry, checking my denumerable Web 2.0 sites and reading big ideas on a small screen thanks to the New York Times app and the You Version Bible app...there's only so much that can be done in the rain and with muffly mittens on.

So, in this final dark moment before the canoe of winter's sad maelstrom takes me careening over the edge of Disconnected Falls, I'm standing here under a stop sign on the corner of my street, forcing myself to type this.

No more bare fingers in the warm night air. No more of the casual loping under pastel streetlamps while clicking through Google Reader.

Sigh.

It's All in the Percentage

"If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience."
- John Cage

One must be careful how much he prefers exciting, delicious, luxurious experiences. He may begin to refuse experiences that are not as fulfilling and in that way cut himself off from most of the human existence.

Of course, for someone like me, who buys exactly one bar of Lindt dark chocolate (70% Cacao) each week to divide among the dull hours and who sits on abandoned cement in the sunshine as a personal version of the "spa experience," preference for luxurious is sort of conjugated. I have what the lay people might call a preference for facility.

If by facility, I mean that which is non-difficult, of course.

Of course, one must also be careful how much he prefers to create his own words.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Note on the Unsuitability of My Story For Publication

I frequent a cafe that is owned by Aramark, so there's really no fear of my daily life getting swept away into one of those early 21st century-coming-of-age-at-30-years novels.

Those novels don't take place in places zoned for homogeneity, as it happens.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reminders

Fall. The end of things. The beginning of things.

Saw Sarah and Todd tonight at FIDO (and Greg, Jenna, Graham, Cory, Matt and Saban). They reminded me about why I do what I do the way I do it. For myself and not for others. We together remembered a time when this city felt alive and full of creative energy.

I'm alive.

Why is that so hard to remember from moment to moment. I don't need to pysche myself out or anything. Just have to be open to experiencing every moment for the first time.

Dreaming

It's difficult to focus. Difficult to keep my concentration.

The most interesting thing I do week to week is work on the development of my quadriceps. I don't know why quads--why legs muscles--why muscles at all.

I'm part of a transitional group; we're reinventing the wheel. Nothing avant-garde, nothing heroic. We're playing musical chairs with our jobs, our cities, our love. We love our music and we love to feel alive. We can't sit down.

I loved this weekend. I loved new faces and old faces, and the feeling that I'm still on the cusp of something. I met a man who had such a beautiful face that I couldn't look away and hours later I felt like I dreamed the whole thing. This weekend felt like a dream, like a foray into a golden make-believe time for all of us. A time before we all split apart, a time when I listened more than I talked.

The hours wind down. I'm sprawled out across the carpet, legs twisted around each other, stuffed with macaroni and cheese, wishing the dream could last a little longer.

Yarn It!

I flooded Brittley with too much. Poor girl.
I talk too much, in general. I must slow down a little. Lately my brain is like a tangled yarn ball. I wonder if everyone that I talk to thinks I'm crazy....

Today was brilliant, otherwise. Lots of beautiful things and lots of good food and lots of beautiful people with beautiful eyes. You can't have too many of these kinds of days.

Tomorrow is going to be a little harder. Saying goodbye again to Britt and saying hello to the ancient civilization midterm studying.

Erg.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chicago / Atlanta / Dad



I've been meaning to visit Toby and Kelli in Atlanta for a long time. Now AJ lives there, too. One more reason to get in my car and drive the four hours down. {Although I never take Happy that far}

A Chicago song came on the radio during yesterday's drive to Nashville, and it totally reminded me of Karaoke with AJ and Wes. I naturally thought about traveling down to Atlanta--and then immediately thought of my Dad.

Atlanta has a dark side for me right now, that I only just realized yesterday. As soon as I heard the song, thought of AJ & Wes, thought of visiting all my Atlanta friends...I was flooded with all of the wonderful times with my Dad that I had in Atlanta.

I've never been to Atlanta without my Dad there, without spending time at the perfect home they shared together. Those are the most wonderful memories I have with him--really the beginning of the golden age of our friendship. The city is my Dad's city because of it, and it hurts me to feel that way.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Stars

I'm riding in the back of an SUV, headed for pizza at Mafiaoza's. This is Fall Break.

I had a good moment at Starbucks earlier; magic is in the air.

Look at the stars--can you even number them? Anything is possible.

A Moment of Liberation

Entering the mysterious unwatched world in a moment, where you can say anything because nobody is listening and it doesn't matter...


*************************************************************

I am balancing on edges at all times.
Or, if you're into stabilizers and orbits, I might be balancing on vertices or faces.

It's exhilarating.
It's scary.
It's promising and full of possibilities.

I could lose everything.
Why did I make this leap?
Tomorrow, everything could change in a heartbeat.

I'm balancing on a tiny pivot point called "right now." And I'm not that great at it. I'm good at balancing some things. But the miscellaneous other things are not as easy as they used to be.

The balance tips toward "losing big" all the time.
{Not like I freak out about it/just watch with measured suspicion}

I could lose everything.
If I don't get a hold on this....

This...this...
If I don't get a handle on this....

class {how much reading?}
lecture {snooze}
algebra concept {a rotation times a horizontal flip is a rotation?}
essay {the civilization web spread}
workout {no, I haven't pushed in awhile}
sugar fix {donuts? cupcakes?}
man {yes, I'm thinking about you}

If I could lose big at any moment, one assumes that one minus the probability of losing big is the probability of winning.

That's why I love math.
Because, by definition, there is some probability out there somewhere that I might win big.

*****************************************************************

End the liberated zone.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy & Stressed Out

uninspired

pragmatic

docile

hydrated

tired

overfilled

challenged

burgeoning

confused

joyful

relieved

hopeful

amused

excited

grateful

uncertain

There are so many ways to describe me right now. All of them true, to a degree. We are more than just the sum of our parts, thank God. Because I have all these feelings and inverses of feelings, one right after another. If they cancelled each other out, what would my life sum up to?

Nothing cancels. Everything blends and bursts and splashes. Colors everywhere.

Feelings everywhere. Like pieces of paper that I lay down and never look at again.

I'm happy today.
And stressed out.

Both and.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Inexhaustible Possibilities

Rain.

Cold and inhibiting rain. The beginning of the end of warm days, dresses and lounging around. The beginning of the long, cold fight to stay warm, happy and energetic.

My life this fall is a beginning. The beginning of new ambitions. Never grow tired of new beginnings; they keep you young and alive.

The cold is barely tolerable, but I'm sure I can dredge up another countdown to Spring somewhere around here...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ants are crawling on my coffee cup. Around the bottom, climbing at angles. A bee was hovering above me for a little while, but I didn't move because it seemed to be to slow to cause harm.

I have a tank top on under a thermo-turtleneck under a rabbit-hair cardigan under a cotton trench coat. With a grey pashmina stuffed on top. I'm propped against a wall on the cement by the Thompson building, soaking up the very mild sunlight before my next class. I ate a bagel. I'm not smiling.

My eyes are dry and my happiness has been deactivated for the day. The three month mark since my Dad's passing is upon me. His absence, like the bee-- hovers so silently and so closely that I have become desensitized to its presence. To the presence of an absence.

It exists and I exist and separately, almost, we make our way along the path.

And then -KSH!- a sting.

The only things that fill this void are love and loneliness. Connectedness that aches with still recent memories; isolation that affirms the reality of this absence.

Any feeling that acknowledges that Yes, he lived , and Yes, it was me that lived connected to him.

Almost everything else ignores loss. But loneliness, even just a moment of it--and love, just a small experience of it--affirm again the friendship, the love and the loss that I know underneath all my daily experiences.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wish You Wouldn't Say Things Like That

When someone goes out of their way to let you know that they approve of something you've changed...

be honest,
don't you kind of wish they would just keep that opinion to themselves.

Like:

Wow, you lost all that weight.
You look so much better!


Really? That's a shame, because I haven't eaten since I got that stomach virus and as soon as these meds kick in...I'll be back to normal.

Wish you wouldn't have said that.

It's good that you're not blogging anymore. I think it's better.

Really? Because ever since you said that I've had writer's block. Can't even fill out a greeting card anymore without second guessing myself.

Wish you wouldn't have said that.



How deliciously limiting the approval of others can be.
They tell us:

I'm here watching you.
I notice every move you make.
You're okay with me now that you've changed.
If you change back, you'll be doing it against my approval.


Next time you want to be the approval/disapproval button in someone's life: just keep it to yourself. They probably don't need another voice in their head.



{There are caveats to this, but my blog, unlike FOX News, doesn't pretend to be either fair or balanced, thankyouverymuch}
I just got my first probabilities test back today. A 90%.

95% is an A
94% and less is a B

Bah.

I should be comforted by the fact that mine was the highest score. Earlier in the week when I was having trouble with a problem, my prof said, Why don't you ask one of the other students for help, they seem to be getting it.

I always make a comeback.


Maybe if I hadn't taken a 7 hour nap yesterday I would have gotten ahead...
I'm late to class--walking up the steps now.

No makeup
Too many layers bc I overreacted to the fear of a cold day.

Not enough snacks to last me until the end.


Sometimes things feel out of control.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Debunking Socrates?

The essay due on Monday morning--concerning the role of the individual and government in ancient Greece: to what extent did Socrates' ideas/behavior challenge Pericles' account of the Athenian state and society?

A year ago I had no knowledge of the ancient world. Knowledge can inspire us and challenge us.

Socrates, in Plato's account of his trial, says that a truly just man could never participate in public discourse because he would naturally oppose State practices and eventually be killed for his opinions. Rather grim perspective of the corruption of governing bodies. Instead of participating in the community dialogue, he allowed the young rich men of Athens to follow him around and listen to him ridicule and humiliate the prominent poets, craftsmen and politicians of the day, proving that their basic human motivations weren't logical. The young men ate it up--here were respected men of the city who had worked for years to develop their crafts and cultivate expertise in their fields--and Socrates made them look like confused children.

What a friggin hero.

Naturally, enamored with this wisdom and strength (not virtue), they imitated his obnoxious orthopraxy all around the city, probably creating a whole new class of professionals. Professional irritants. Pulling up wheat and weeds indiscriminantly.

I cannot hide the fact that I think Socrates was a fatalist who, seeing the Golden age of Athens stretched too tightly around him, perhaps felt that the debunking of status quo- whether in regards to piety, justice or freedom--was not only natural but also beneficial. Although it would mean the end of the State as it was and life as he had enjoyed it.

He bites the hand that feeds him, and finally, the hand closes around his neck. What I find a little grotesque is that he did his duty on the surface and then under many guises of curiosity and searching undermined the State that had required the duty and valor of him.

He seemed wise out of context, apart from neglecting the care of his family and hiding his opposotion in circular and sarcastic debunking. A man who really cared about others would have risked himself more. He shows people to be foolish by proving that people often have a very hard time defining the things they feel most passionate about, almost as if to say that you only have the right to feel strongly toward things you perfectly understand and can perfectly define. In every era, it's the things that mystify us that capture our fascination and enrapture our affections. We are slaves to powers we don't particularly understand and that's nothing to be ashamed of.

This essay is going to be hard.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pericles & The Dark Bat, Envy

"For men can endure to hear others praised only so long as they can persuade themselves of their own ability to equal the actions recounted: when this point is passed, envy comes in and with it incredulity."

-Pericles of Athens, during a funeral speech

I can handle hearing about the awesome things other people are doing if I'm doing those things; if I'm doing awesome things. How hard it is, however, to hear the praises for the person doing things I cannot or would not do.

And not everyone can be an astronaut. Not everyone drove down to the Gulf after Hurricane Katrina to help people put their lives back together. Not everyone loves their family the right way. Some things are out of reach. Because of time and opportunity. Because of ignorance.

And yet, some great acts---some noble gifts--are out of reach simply because we lack self-discipline. Because we haven't believed our contribution was important to anyone, or that it could be important to us. We don't do the really difficult, great things because there aren't incentives to doing them, and because we act in our own short-sighted interest 99% of our waking hours.

However, I'd wager that the most wonderful thing you'll ever do in your life won't seem courageous or glorious while you're doing it. You'll probably be forgoing other, better options to do it.

That's what makes the choice to do it so glorious.

Where did this start and where did it go and where will it end? Perhaps the difficulty of envy is that it afflicts the one who understands the glory of a good life but just can't convince himself to pay what it costs. It's hard to rejoice when someone else is doing what you should be doing. It would be a curious moment of the soul.

{Back to studying Ancient Greece}
The belltower is playing Moonlight Sonata. I walk out the glass doors, away from math, cheeks burning. Scribbling furiously for over two hours? I did well on my test--at least I felt like I understood most of it.

Now: one small thing achieved from a bowl of infinite goals.

I digress...Moonlight Sonata is playing now; somber bells mixing with the sound of a distant train whistle. The two sounds together are potent enough to form a feeling, but covered in relief the way I am right now, I can't say for sure what that feeling is.

I feel like I have no obligations now, just possibilities. A much needed breather that can't last; a small patch of blue sky overhead, surrounded by rolling dark clouds.

Sitting on cement steps that stretch out for half a block, a woman sits down within the boundaries of my. blue-sky reverie and lights a cigarette. She calls someone and talks loudly and unhappilly--she's irritated or irritable or both. I look up again from this little keypad and the blue patch of sky has been smothered by the grey, hanging ceiling that is always moving and never leaves.

Possibilities. Which to grab and which to let go?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's not possible that he's gone.

The sky, so grey and so low to the ground today, doesn't feel full of possibilities but overcrowded with unreached goals.

Satisfaction, so fleeting.

Every second, single file and marching in this war. Against me? With me? I am too slow, too weighed down. I climb over the wall and see a thosand more ahead.

Today is the thing I wish were dead. Yet it lives on and meets me in my tired state again and again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Riding the Iron Horse


I'm back on the iron pill wagon again.


Any type of relief for my thought-stealing headaches that doesn't look like Advil liquid gels would be welcome this week. With Shelby being such a non-drug and pharmaceuticals girl, it's hard to take things like Advil without feeling just a little wussy. Ye ole coping strategies have often included giant pieces of coconut laced cake and large dregs of drip coffee. Now I'm shopping for a new cure to my mid afternoon listlessness.

Listlessness
Say that three times as fast as you can.

If only listlessness were equivalent to "having no lists."
On the perpendicular, actually, listlessness seems to accompany the state of having entirely too many lists and too little energy to accomplish anything on them.



I spent my lunch break sitting against a wall near our math complex, along a path that leads to nowhere in particular. I tried to absorb the sunshine, knowing that days like these are limited. After wedging my grey cardie behind my head, I almost fell asleep against the wall, at 1:00 p.m. It's definitely time to take up the iron supplement flag again and wave it to the beat of my unbearably productive schedule, which tick tick ticks on, whether I'm awake or asleep.

Here's hoping Wednesday goes down a little smoother.
Clouds drift by overhead.
It looks like rain is coming.
I am immoveable here against this wall. I feel cement under me and against the middle of my back. I watch the clouds while finishing off the last pieces of fruit from a ziploc bag. The grass barely twitches in the breeze. Like me, the grass watches the clouds.

I sit. Or I stand. Nobody interferes. Nobody intervenes.

It looks like rain is coming, but the sun brightens the cement where the clouds are thin. I sit here.

I leave. Nobody interferes.
The American Dream.
?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Good and Bad, A Day in the Life of

Some good and some bad, in no particular order:

I spent the entire day counting down the hours until school was over. My mind is not in the game, as the pro athletes might say. Maybe because I spent the weekend having fun; maybe because I spent all last week not having any fun. Regardless. That's no way to spend an entire day.

I explained my social ethics book, Solitude and Democracy: Understanding the Politics of Your Soul to my mom over the phone. "If you want to understand something, teach it to someone else." That's what I've always heard and in the case of this class, I think it's working. I've explained it now to Jared, to Jaz, to Shelby in part and now to my mom. I'm crazy about the book. Crazy. Today, I had to turn in a reading paper for the class that details my understanding of the current chapter, including its thesis and key words. The professor turned to me after looking through all the papers and kissed his fingers the way the Italian chefs do to say something tastes magnificent. He said, "You got it!" and something else. Later in class, when I answered one of his questions, he pulled out a watermelon Jolly Rancher and tossed it to me. Those are his favorite. I'm his favorite.


An hour later, while sitting at my desk studying math, I started to nod off in my chair. I went over to the bed to cuddle with my overstuffed pillows for a "short" afternoon nap. Just something to take the edge off, you understand.

Three hours later I woke up, smelling like a mixture of exhaustion and vanilla. Not a good moment. My study time was gone and I still felt like I could use a few more hours of sleep. I pulled myself out of bed, put on my gym clothes and skulked defeatedly to Preston {the gym}. I watched Bill Clinton on Larry King Live while accomplishing the most mediocre workout in months. I didn't do lunges or squats. I walked home slowly.

While I was sleeping, my History professor sent me an email asking if it would be okay if he shares my paper with the class, anonymously. This is the paper that I stayed up all night writing last Sunday. Some of the students came to him after getting their papers back, wanting to know what type of paper is looking for in these assignments, so he is going to give them mine. If I wasn't so exhausted, I would be ecstatic.

Marissa, my roommate, is going to stage an intervention if I don't start getting more sleep at night. That's what she told me tonight. Then she offered me some low-fat popcorn and we talked about why I've never read the Left Behind book series.

Now I must get back to the math I was doing six hours ago and I hope that I don't fall asleep again.

Lots of love.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Hear Love, Did I Leave the DVD Player On?

I keep hearing myself say "I love you." While walking up six flights of stairs. While listening to professors. While doing math homework. While staring off into the distance.

Like whispers that are echoing endlessly through my ears, bouncing around in the chambers of my heart. It's a strange phenomenon. In math we might say that this type of event is a set whose only member is the empty set. It's happening and not happening at the same time.


I need to face it: I've watched too many romantic comedies lately. They're probably breaking my brain somehow so that I'm hearing myself saying things that I'm not saying.

But I leaned over the railing today and gazed into another world.


To say such a thing to a man--
--is much more lovely than anything that could be heard.



I am fascinated beyond belief with the intersections between men and women. We're so coarse with each other in our modern world. But I can still fall in love.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Belle of the Weight Room Ball

My biggest moment of the day was in the weight room when the guys on the other benches made a scene over my arm workout. I work hard in that nasty room. But I live in a legs culture and two things I certainly have never had are long, skinny legs. Instead I have long, thick legs like that beer horse that has lovely, wavy hair at the bottom of its sturdy legs.

I usually wear T-shirts to the gym, but today, nearing the end of my laundry cycle, I wore a sleeveless little spandex number. I was like a neutral toned version of an 80s workout video. All spandex-y and tough, and in the mood to pump some iron.

I had to wait for a long time to get a free bench and I took to the weights like I owned the place. Miracle of all miracles, as soon as I lifted those awkward metal wonders, my muscles practically popped out of hiding and veins showed up out of nowhere. I felt like the world's proudest body builder at that moment. It was like a novice's dream. There I was, just me and the mirror, and about twenty very bulky men who clearly have strong affinities for tanning beds.

I earned my membership into the weight-room world of glory tonight. Yesterday, I was just another girl on the cross-trainer. Funny enough, the pressure of all the eyes on me distracted me and I flubbed my routine. I spent all my energy on round one and could barely lift my arms over my head, let alone real weight, for the remainder of my sets.

Now, telling you that this was the height of my day, should give you a little insight into how the rest of it went. But in case you want a better picture, I'll admit that I tripped over my own shoe twice in front of the same person. Then I received homework back from my probabilities class in which I got a 27 out of a possible 47 because I used the wrong equation on EVERY PROBLEM!! My first class was cancelled and my second class was confusing.

You can see how being the belle of the weight room ball was actually an honest delight after all of that. Oh, the fallen pride. Oh, the crumpled joy. A 27 out of 47? Ugh.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Alone with Others {It's a Doozy}

We're talking about moral isolation in my Social Ethics class. One question the material poses is, "Why are some of us more prone to alone-ness?" So now I present to you:

Tuesday's Rabbit Trailing with Allie



The author of the book we're reading says that at every moment we're in a solitary state, and yet at every moment, even when alone, we're also with others. The others that we're alone with are the people, whether present or absent, who love, terrify, motivate or challenge us. The imagined approval and disapproval of these "watching" people end up being a measure of "true North" in our lives, guiding our decisions and opinions by proxy. Depending on how you're wired, you might be capable of more love, trust and depth of feeling for your others than for the real people in your life.

Alone-ness: I suspect that those of us who have a high level of engagement when we're out with people in new experiences will tend to feel that these experiences demand a focus and attention level from us that makes us temporarily deaf and blind to the guiding presence of the others that we've let be our "true North." It tends to make us feel like we don't know where we're going or if we're "on the right track" until we get alone again.

Everyone knows that disapproving and shaming people have a really big impact on us, so most of us try to steer clear of anyone who presents us with such blatant abuse. But in a less obvious way, a cynical city like Nashville also can have a really big impact on what kind of others we invite into our head.

He's working on his music all the time, but he's not even that good.

She's starting her own business, but it's never going to take off.

They're getting married but they don't even like each other most of the time.

Everyone wants to be around her but they don't know her like I do.


Cynicism nearly destroyed me because its piercing and merciless gaze turned around and found me standing behind it, completely vulnerable and just as worthy of mockery.

We have a vacuum within us, gasping for guidance, and it will be filled. So we look for the wisest, strongest voice in the crowd and when we find it, we put the bit in our mouths and hand the reigns over. Sometimes it's the smart-ass who has a one-liner for everything, and he becomes the person staring back at us in the mirror. Sometimes it's the ministry leader that has a loophole to explain why every good action is just a bad action in disguise, and they become the doubt that there's any point to Christian discipleship. We can jerk and dissent the idea of it, because it makes us look all too weak and fashionable. But it may also turn out to be the truth about our nature, whether we acknowledge it or not, so it behooves us to at least examine ourselves and question it.

A final note regarding the Christian hope.
The joy of the Gospel is that Christ sent His spirit into the world and from the way the apostle John tries to explain it, "Whoever keeps His commandments remains in Him, and He in him. By this we know that He remains in us, by the spirit which He gave us." Not that John was any kind of classical version of Freud or anything. But this understanding of the possibility of the work of the spirit of Christ in our lives tranquilizes that hefty psychology and stuffs it into a rental car's trunk.

If the voice in my head and the other presence that guides me, is the spirit of Christ, and is not a construct of the imagination to approve or disapprove, but an actual presence external to me that is directly acting upon me--that's a mystical wonder indeed. It is my opinion that the more the spirit of Christ becomes our other, the less alone we'll have to be, the more joyful our alone-ness will become, and the better steered our lives will also be. They'll certainly still be guided in a strong way--but we can trust that wherever we are guided will be a place of infinite possibility and hope.

"End Rabbit Trail Here"

Monday, September 14, 2009

I'm Sort of a Maverick

I'm watching the end of Top Gun on AMC right now, and no matter how many times I've seen Goose die and watched Maverick toss his dogtags into the turbulent sea...I still get all choked up every time I see it.

The sad truth is that I shouldn't be watching TV at all right now because I should be sleeping. It's Monday evening and I never went to sleep last night. I spent a few slices of my weekend formulating the perfect thesis for my ancient civilizations creation myth turned values framework essay. Unfortunately, none of my clever ruminating bore any edible or sowable or even showable fruit--I spent four hours at the library rechecking my primary sources, desperate for some spark of brilliance to light me up. After the library closed at midnight, I spent the next hour and a half walking around the campus with my notebook out, trying to distill my murky argument into two or three coherent and magnificent points. At two or later I sat in the lobby of the enormous computer and technology center, eating a bag os Snyder's pretzels. Then finally I began to create my rough draft.

I finished up the last few sentences and printed the ridiculous thing out just after seven this morning, and frankly, I felt awesome because at that hour it hasn't really occurred to you body that it's been trickd into skipping a whole night's sleep. My body thought we were headed home to bury our weary self under the blankets for a deep hibernation. Not so much.

I drank legitimate coffee. The reeeeaaaallll stuff that the big kids drink. I was hoping it would prop me up for the full day of classes. I fell asleep in my Econ class while doing price elasticity equations.

So I'm finally free to sleep and I use this precious time to watch Top Gun instead. What a goon.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I'm sitting at FIDO with an incredibly blank sheet of what the romantics might call, "Crisp, white paper" in front of me on a wooden table that is soft and worn away by the chafing of plates and mugs, and the deep etches carved by the pens and pencils of brilliant students, corrosive indie beatnuts and a host of coffee shop regulars that dot and fill the rest of the stereotype spectrum.

I used to sit in the booth closest to the bus tubs back in 2005 when I first started coming here three or four times a week. In those days, hardly anyone I knew came to the Village to socialize, so I felt as if I had discovered a parallel universe where organic relationships and authentic community lined up at around 7 o'clock each night for a cup of Bongo brew and giant piece of cake (or was that just me...).

I had it in my head that I wasn't quite the person I should have already become; I had it in my heart as well-- I was simply out of touch with myself. So I did the only logical thing a 26 year old administrative assistant who never finished school could do: I purchased a Latin textbook, escaped my Purpose Driven Brentwood enclave each night and began to teach myself Latin from a little booth here on the edge of the universe.

I did actually learn some small bits of Latin--like, "Bis das, cito das." But while I've completely forgotten the meaning of the words I tried so hard to learn in my little booth world of miracles, I've never lost the feeling that FIDO is one of the most magical, special places in this whole city--and it's still the place I escape to and the place where I challenge myself to become the person I'm most afraid to be and most afraid I'll never truly be.

The sheet of paper is still crisp and still blank at the moment.