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.