Saturday, December 27, 2003
Four Voices and a Really Long Post
Recently, these voices keep haunting me.
To use a word like "haunt" gags me with its Dickens-like aspirations, but I'll just have to use that word til I think of something else. Which may, in fact, negate this entire post, but we'll go with it anyway.
The first is the voice of dear Dr. Carter. Dr. Carter - as all these voices - is still very much alive. As far as I know, she is still the chair of the English department at Blue Springs South High School in Blue Springs, Missouri. Dr.Carter looked exactly like a witch. She knew it too, and I think she secretly loved it. She had straight black hair, and quite possibly a mole, but I could just be adding that to my idea of her. But she definitely had the straight-black hair, straight as a board.
She was, without a doubt, my favorite teacher ever. She was horribly disorganized, loved books, writing, and movies, and her weapon of choice in teaching was a tangent. No teacher used our class discussion tangents better - most yelled at us for getting off-topic, but not Dr. Carter.
I took three classes with Dr. Carter in high school - my junior year, I took American Lit and English AP, and my senior year I took Fiction 214, a college credit class. I remember she introduced me to Sylvia Plath and Brave New World and liberal politics and feminism. Despite views that didn't always align with my own, one would be hard-pressed to find a teacher I respected more.
I can hardly remember her without a smile. She would occassionally bring in bagels and cream cheese - we all knew this was becuase we were her favorites, we were the bookworms who ended up becoming world travellers and feminist writers and Brown graduates.
Of COURSE we deserved bagels.
I loved her classes, but I wasn't a terribly hard worker (still am not) , and so ended up with B's and C's in her classes.
Anyway, I waffle.
In the midst of all these other things I remember about her, I remember one with this bizarre sort of tunnel-vision clarity. It sticks with me like one of those songs you didn't know you knew the words to, but you find yourself repeating over and over again.
In one of these classes - I can't even tell you which - she said to me:
"Have you ever thought of becoming a teacher? I think you would be a good English teacher."
I cannot even tell you the context in which she said this. I only remember she said it, and said it in front of the whole class.
I'd never thought about becoming a teacher - probably because I had a series of bad teacher experiences. I'm still not a teacher. But it made a profound impact on me.
The other three are much more recent, but still manage to leave an imprint on my mind...
The second is the voice of a writer, whom you may or may not know. I fell in love with his writing in high school because he wrote the book that I wanted to write. I consider him a friend, though I've only exchanged maybe a dozen or so emails with him. They were long emails though, and he'll never read this I'm sure, so I'll go ahead and call him a friend.
In the middle of one of these email sessions a few months ago, I think I mentioned somewhere that I'd once, in a previous life, considered becoming a writer. In reply, wedged into a long email about pipe smoking and "Bottlerocket" (the movie), he said:
"I think you should be a writer. You have a voice."
So far, lets take stock. One of my favorite teachers tells me I should be an English teacher. One of my favorite writers tells me I should be a writer.
What the hell does one do with all that?!
The third voice was the voice of Stuart Henderson. Stuart is one that I do not know personally. Stuart recently came to speak at my college. I don't think I'd ever heard of the guy before the visit. But he is apparently a writer - articles, Childrens books, poetry of all sorts. He's also a radio presenter on BBC Radio 4, if I remember correctly. And he spoke on writing.
Now, understand that I do not go to a liberal arts college. I go to a very small Bible college in Glasgow, Scotland. Classes are offered in preaching, the Theology of the Early Church, and Pastoral Counseling. The closest we get to a writing class is one on the Pauline Epistles. All this is to say that I still do not understand why Mr. Henderson came to speak on writing.
He immediately said that he was going to talk about writing. There are many kinds of writers in the world, and I do not wish to become many of them. I wasn't too sure about this guy. After all, this was a Bible college. But he read some of his poetry, and simply spoke about writing, and I realized he was the kind of writer I wanted to be. I took a million notes and continuted to, despite feeling like a complete idiot as others around me scribbled swoony notes to girlfriends on 3 month mission trips to Kenya.
Now, I have loved many classes I've taken at ICC. But I loved that hour that Stuart spoke on writing. I hated when he was finished.
The last voice is my own. Or at least part of my own. It tells me that I love writing more than nearly anything else, and that I look forward to my times with a cup of coffee and a blank piece of paper more than I do most parts of my job. It tells me what others have said about finding something you love and then finding out how to get paid for it. It wonders why I've brushed off so many people who tell me I should write.
For months now, I've wrestled with many things. I do not like my job, I do not like my college (at least, parts of it). I do love young people, and youth ministry. I am sure that I will always be involved in that, whether getting paid for it or not. (Somehow, that last line makes it sound so...not like a ministry. Ahem. Moving right along, nothing to see here...) But I do not like the youth ministry that I'm doing now, and it was never what I had in mind or felt called to. And I do not feel I'm learning what I need to know, either.
Someone once said that you should imagine walking up to an 18-year-old, and letting him or her plan the rest of your life. Crazy thought, yes. But this is what we are expected to do. We are expected to go to college at 18, choose a career path, and follow it. By the age of 22, one should be getting on with the rest of their lives.
Its no wonder so many of us screw it up.
And so now I wonder if I shouldn't be a writer instead - or, maybe not instead, but in addition to youth stuffs, and if that is a lesser calling of some sort, and it its too late to change all these things at the ripe old age of 22.
(If you read all that, post a comment. I'm just curous to see how many of you actually lasted. When I'm famous, I'll send you a signed book. Or a signed teenager. Depends on how things go.)
Thursday, December 25, 2003
It is 5am on Christmas morning. I am sitting in bed in a hotel room in Albuquerque (yes, I had to look to spell that), New Mexico. I can't decide whether to be sad or not.
I'm happy, because I'm with my family (sorta). The trip down here from St. Louis was pleasant - there are few sights to be compared to a desert sky on a clear night. And I'm sure the trip will be fun. But it's Christmas. Though it's an improvement on last year, in Scotland, there are still a lot of things missing, and they are things I know are probably missing for good, or at least for a while, til I get a family of my own (that sounds horrible - its not like I stole my current family from my neighbor down the street....they ARE my own - but you know what I mean...). No tree and no presents under it this year, no last-minute wrapping with Mom all night while watching Holiday Inn and White Christmas. There was considerable Christmas baking last night though, which was good fun.
Maybe its the fact that I've been away for 3 years and I come back only to find myself in a hotel room on Christmas.
Wow, that sounded even more pathetic than I meant for it.
Anyway, its not all bad. I'm more than happy to see my family this year, and grateful that God allowed that to happen. I'm tired, a little sad, and have a killer toothache, but all-in-all, life isn't really so bad.
Besides, its Jesus' birthday.
I don't always remember that He really is all I need.
Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Hey there, Kiddies.
Well tommorrow mornin, me and the family hit the road for New Mexico, then eventually to Texas for a little R&R after the crazy Christmas fiasco. I'll have my laptop with me, so I'll be around, but not terribly much, til we get back the 3rd. The good news is that I do plan on getting a fair deal of writing done while I'm gone. Whether that will affect you all or not....well I dunno, it depends on what comes out of it. If there's anything good, I'll be sure and share it with you.
So that's been me this week: getting ready to go, mostly, and visiting KC, albiet briefly.
Oh, and I went to see LOTR: Return of the King last night with Booker. Seriously folks, the movie blew me away. In the words of a good friend, it was....simply stunning. I loved it. I wish I had more time to write about it. Maybe I will soonish - but then again, I'm convinced that's what EVERYONE is blogging about these days.
Have a good Christmas!
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
I am tired.
(Oh, but in other news, be sure to with Chrissy a Happy Birthday. I wish I could spend it with her.)
Friday, December 19, 2003
-Yesterday-Starbucks-Olive Blvd-7:23pm-4 people
- Okay, if Brad comes in here and asks for a drink, spit in his coffee, because he says this is the weakest Starbucks, everything tastes the same. I said that's crap, this is my favorite Starbucks, you girls know what's up.
(Enter Brad and two other friends.)
- That's the one, spit in his coffee!
-You think our coffee is weak?! We are the best Starbucks ever. We care for our customers.
-Seriously, these girls know people's names. They know what I order everytime!
-Her name is Sara and she is a waitress at Steak and Shake and she works 15 hours a week , and she has a no-fat venti Macchiato, no-whip, with a sleeve.
-Excellent. Can I have a...Grande Mocha please?
-GRANDE MOCHA WITH WHIP!.....I got a new dress.
- A NEW DRESS?!
-Express. At the new mall. And the shoes were....from Broadway something....Off-Broadway.
-Was it expensive?
-That's not bad.
-For my cruise.
-I'm coming BACK! I'm just not coming back until....January.
-You guys CAN'T all leave me at once! These guys are like, my second family. I've met like, ONE employee here that was not so nice, but maybe she was just having a bad day or something.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
Sorry its been a few days. I flew back home to the States on Monday, got here on Monday night, and have basically been working on finishing my papers due this week since then. The good news is, they are done. (Except the one due Jan 8th. I have a while to go for that one, though.) The better news is that I now have free reign of Mom's digital camera - good news, since I'm thinking mine may have got lost in the mail.
Anyway, I'll be posting more tommorrow or soonish.
For now, a pic to satisfy the masses.
Just call me Coqui.
Saturday, December 13, 2003
Preach it, brotha.
David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands." 1 Samuel 17:45-47
On Thursday in class, we were looking at some OT passages and linking how we might relate them to a youthwork context. The story of David and Goliath was one of them. Well, I'll be honest and admit th
at I didn't exactly get a chance to read the 4 passages before that morning (though we were given them), mostly because I was busy working my brains out on that essay due that day. But as we were going over this passage, I took a few minutes while other people were chatting to reread this part.
Its been a fair while since I've properly reread the story of David and Goliath. Its one of those stories that those of us who were raised in the church think we know like the back of our hands (though to be honest I'm not even sure I know the back of my hand that well), so we don't need to read it again. Besides, I'm pretty sucky about reading the Old Testament. I've always been more of a "letters" girl than a "narrative" girl. I gravitiate towards Paul's letters and the letters to the Hebrews and James and things like that.
All that is to say....I don't read these Old Testament stories nearly enough.
So sitting there and rereading the story, I was no less than floored over the speech that Dave makes before he kills Goliath. I mean, we're talking a kid here. A kid who was just thinkin he'd be delivering some food to the older brothers. Sure, he's killed a few large wild beasts in his time, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he was a young dude. This young guy had extreme faith.
I sometimes hate the way that things are punctuated in certain versions of the Bible. The fact that a period ends each of those lines in the NIV somehow does it poor, I think. I could be wrong here, but I highly doubt that worlds like that were spoken as bland as we might read them. Try reading that passage again, with an exclaimation point at the end of each sentence. I'm tempted tok think THAT is how David was more likely to say all those things.
This is easily one of more powerful and faith-filled speeches in the Old Testament.
"This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head.... All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."
That kid, mistakes, screw ups and all, was a powerful vessel for the Lord.
A more amazing thought?
The God of David is the God of you and I.
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
I am a jerk.
So this morning, (and by morning I mean..between probably 9:30-11) I was in bed and kept hearing this pounding over and over. I finally get up (because I needed to go to work anyway), walk into my kitchen, to hear....my goodness, is that a TAP DANCING TROUPE upstairs? It certainly sounded like it. It was a terrible racket. So what do I do? I do what my mother and father always did to the drunk college students living upstairs from us in Michigan: grab a broom and pound on the ceiling. The pounding immediately stops, and I am left in peace again.
Til, no less than 2 minutes later, a knock comes on my door.
I open it to a short girl, probably my age, with an Edinburgh Uni sweatshirt on.
"Did you just pound on your ceiling?", she asks.
"Yes, that was me."
"I am SOOOO sorry! See, we have a dancing competition on Friday and we were practicing for it and we didn't figure anyone would be in..."
"Yeah...no, its okay....its just that I work late and so I sleep late..."
"I'm sorry! I know exactly how that is, I used to work til 4am and then this guy in the next flat over had this alarm clock that would go SO loud at 7am and always wake me up and I'd be SOOO pissed off, so I'm really sorry! We've stopped now!"
Needless to say, I was feeling really bad about the pounding now.
"No, its fine, I'm up now anyway, so its okay. I could have been nicer about it and just came up and knocked on the door." (I probably couldn't really have, since I was still in a state since having just gotten out of bed, and was in my PJ's and all, but...I could have.)
"I'm really sorry!"
Man, I'm a jerk. What a completely un-Christian thing to do. Yeah I'd just been woken up, but I'm not sure that excuses my crankiness. What was worse is that she was so gosh darn sweet. I wanted to take her out to lunch or something, or for coffee.
I think I'll need to leave a note of apologies (and well-wishing for her dance competition) for her.
Yeah. I'm a jerk.
Pain vs. Paper
Man, I feel like poop today. I got a headache around 4pm and it has NOT let up. Therefore, I've spent my entire evening in bed. So much for working on that paper I have due on Thursday. Instead, I stick to searing pain between my ears. Its pretty much the same thing though, except I don't get marked on the searing pain bit.
Sunday, December 07, 2003
I am not "sorted".
After Marian whined long enough, I finally agreed to start another blog with her.
This can be found at http://michaelavsmarian.blogspot.com
Saturday, December 06, 2003
...aka, "WHY do they cancel all the really good shows?!"
I love this show...
Of course we're a little behind things over here in Britian, so I just saw an episode called "Fearless", which was at the end of season one. To summarize, one of the cops (Smith) was on the case of a kid who killed a guy..and the guy had turned out to be molesting him. The guy had also been a friend of Smiths as a kid. We later learn that the guy in question had, in turn, been molested as a child by his former basketball coach.
As the show goes on, we realize that Smith was also preyed upon by this guy as a kid - he was his neighbour. He finally tracks him down - fully intent on killing him. He goes to his house, and the guy, when he realizes who he is, he's in tears - he's become a Christian, and now works with the church, couseling other former pedophiles. I wish I had the transcript, because the dialogue was amazing during this scene. At one point, the former coach says, eyes red with tears "By the grace of God, I don't do that anymore"....to which Smith screams, "WHY WOULD GOD HAVE GRACE UPON YOU?" The coach quietly: "I don't know."
Smith has him kneel on the floor, and is prepared to shoot him, and the coach starts praying...for Smith. "Lord I pray that you would have mercy not on me, but on this man...I pray that you would heal his hurts, and heal his heart."
In the end, Smith walks out, without killing him.
Later, Smith is with his girlfriend, talking about his past: about how he used to believe in God when he was a kid, then he lost that after what started happening with the coach. Then when he was in the army, he started believing in a "Great Spirit"...."but a real, true, loving God, that I could have a relationship with? I couldn't find him anymore."
The girlfriend: "Maybe you should go looking again."
The next scene we see Smith sitting in the back row of a lively church. The pastor (who apparently knew Smith, and his trouble...I missed part of the show, so I think that was explained then) and he gives a sermon on "Where is God?" He talks about September 11th, drunk drivers, and sexual abuse of children. He admits that many times, he doesn't know why God allows what he does. But when a man goes back to avenge what was done wrong to him long ago, and walks away..."There, I see God."
It was absolutely one of the most blatenly Christian-influenced episodes (which managed to actually be positive, instead of negative) I've seen, probably ever. Shows such as this make me think people actually did read Roaring Lambs.I'm hoping to track down the teleplay to get the exact quotes, because they were so amazing (and I wish I could remember them exactly for you.)
Dang I wish they hadn't cancelled this show.
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
They say that you'll hear him if you're really listening
And pray for that feeling of grace
But that's what I'm doing, why doesn't he answer?
I've prayed 'til I'm blue in the face
The cars in the churchyard are shiny and German
Distinctly at odds with the theme of the sermon
And during communion I study the people
Threading themselves through the eye of the needle
I know that it's wrong for the faithful to seek it
But sometimes I long for a sign, anything
Something to wake up the whole congregation
And finally make up my mind
The cars in the churchyard are shiny and German
Completely at odds with the theme of the sermon
And all through communion I stare at the people
Squeezing themselves through the eye of the needle
("Eye of the Needle", The Divine Comedy, Regeneration)
Monday, December 01, 2003
Me and Ashley.
MVDoulos: So , should I go to Canada?
sixstringash: sure..then you can say eh
sixstringash: and i hear they have good weed
The cat isn't bad either....
(My ickle friend Marian. And a cat. )