Friday, April 29, 2005
The absenteeism is almost as bad as the turnover rate.
Wow, this must surely be the longest I've gone without updating in a while. In my defense, I've managed to pull some ligaments in my ankle, meaning I've done nothing but sit around these last two days.
Wait, that's not a very good excuse.
Um. Yeah. Nevermind.
Til I can tell you the story (there really isn't one, but we can pretend there is...one with tigers, banana peels, cheese graters and hairnets....it was horrible, messy, and bloody), I've thrown up a few random photos I had sitting in my computer onto Flickr. That'll keep em entertained, I was told. By someone.
Dare of the day: Ask a stranger to lick your face. Photographic evidence is the only kind we will accept.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Oh my gosh.
The Chronicles of Narnia Bootleg Trailer.
I literally got shivers - repeatedly - during the entire trailer. This is going to be amazing.
***EDIT: It seems its been taken down. You missed it. You'll have to see it when it comes out with the new Star Wars movie in May. (For those in the States, anyway.) Sorry. (Or Google it. It's probably somewhere....)
The rest of our lives….
Note: You MUST read this entry while listening to Rosie Thomas. Because I've written it with her playing. So it simply must be done.
I recently (while I was in London) received the following lines in part of a larger email from one of my oldest good friends, Moe:
Did I just hear you say……YOU'RE BACK IN KC FOR GOOD this summer???!?!? like, kansas city? for good?
like, you're not leaving again in a week? are you
that's great news, because I"M BACK IN KC FOR GOOD this summer
we've got our whole lives ahead of us! this is great! and now you're
in London! that's awesome!
love you so
This email makes me smile everytime I read it. I miss some of my old high school friends (or, those I knew in high school…since my best friends never did go to my high school), but I particularly miss Moe and Julia. I know I’ve talked about Julia before. I still have a photo of her in Broadway Cafe on my wall, and some of her artwork hangs above my bed. I miss meeting her at Denny’s at midnight, singing Phil Collins in her beat-up car, talking about how our hearts were going to explode with passion and beauty and art, and how we wanted to tell people about Jesus. I miss her giving me her bacon or sausage – whichever I ordered, since she’s a vegetarian – and downing whole pots of coffee with her. The Cowboy Junkies will forever remind me of Jules. I miss having a friend listen to my heart the way she does.
As much as I love Julia, we are also very different. Moe and I, we are much the same. It’s hard to explain why, we just are. We have a similar temperament, similar sense of humor, and similar energy. I have plenty of photos of her around too. Going to her house and spending the weekend in the summer of 2003 was a large part of why I nearly didn’t come back to Scotland. I missed that familiarity. Unlike Julia, I was (am) quite familiar with Moe’s family, despite her living in the far reaches of Leavenworth, Kansas. I’ve spent more than a few great weekends at her place – camping in the back yard, eating her dad’s great food, trapshooting in the field with our old Youthfront friends. I miss hanging out with Moe at camp, and just knowing she’s around. For must of the time I’ve been in Scotland, she’s been in Hong Kong, working with an international church there. But as you read, she’s going back home soon too. And I’m glad. As far as I’m aware, Julia is still in Providence (we haven’t spoken in yonks…), but her family is in Kansas City, so I’m sure we’ll catch up.
I say all this because my heart literally hurts…I just miss home. It’s really really difficult to enjoy all the last scraps of my time here. I’m trying. Yesterday was a good day. I was unwell in the morning, but felt much better by the late afternoon…so I took a walk to Morningside. I stopped at the cinema to see what was playing, and nearly went to their showing of Melinda and Melinda. They don’t do student specials on Fridays though, and I couldn’t justify that money, especially since I can see flicks on Wed morns at the Cameo for just a quid. So I kept walking, and went to the newly opened Oxfam used book store. Of all the things/places I love most in the world, used bookstores stand quite highly at near the top of that list. I browsed the shelves and smelled the old books. I bought a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and an old used video of Reality Bites. I went across the street and bought a cup of coffee at Café Nero and I read the paper, and started A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I love it, by the way. Have you read it?
And then I walked home. I worked some more on a paper I have due (actually, it was due last week, but nevermind…), and then I watched Reality Bites. I forgot how much I liked that movie. Great lines.
So it was a lovely day, but today….I don’t know. Well I guess part of the problems is that I’ve been fighting a headache, and neck and shoulder pain all day (I think I slept wrong on my pillow – not uncommon). But I was just all kinds of lonely. Not lonely for a guy really, though it feels like that, or even lonely for a friend, because you don’t mind too much the being alone part. Just lonely in general, that all-encompassing kind of lonely that is probably just a realization that you are not home, and you probably won’t be, in this life.
I’m not sure how I feel about all this. There’s the sense that we are called to rejoice in our sufferings, even the little ones (though I can’t say it felt so little earlier today). It’s no stretch to acknowledge that Jesus himself didn’t really have a home here on earth, that he probably felt pretty homesick for heaven. I think maybe it’s okay to not like to feel crap. I’m just not sure how to connect that to “rejoicing in suffering”. I’m gonna keep teasing this idea out in my head though. I’ll let you know how it goes.
But it’s lovely knowing I’ll get to feel a little closer to home pretty soon. I miss Julia, and Moe, and Mom’s cooking.
In other news, I finally – after two months and ten emails – got my copy of Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts by Steve Turner. And I’m really looking forward to tearin into that sucka.
Friday, April 22, 2005
You Don’t Meet Nice Girls in Coffeeshops
1) I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned last weeks good times with Jonathan and Sarah. I had such a blast at their place. Moments to remember:
Quick: After church (which I enjoyed), we headed to Somerfield to get a few extra ingredients for Burrito Fest 2005. I picked up some Tabasco Sauce while I saw it, because I needed some and keep forgetting to get some at the store. Mere minutes later, we stand in front of the salsa and Jonathan asks: “Do you like spicy stuff?”
Bonding experience: Jonathan and I both salt our pizza. We are friends on the way to an early death…but one that involves tasty food.
Jealousy rages: The Jonathan and Sarah have one of the coolest possible things ever: A family Bible-with-notes written by Spurgeon – and signed by Spurgeon himself, with a huge note, to Lord Kinnard. *And Michaela poops her drawers.* What's worse? He got it for 15 quid at the ChristianAid booksale. Jammy.
From the We Shoulda Been Hanging Out For The Past Year Dept: Sarah is probably the one person on earth that no one could possibly ever dislike. That’s just how it is. She’s amazing.
Musical Interlude: Not only did we bust out the geetar for some singin….I was personally serenaded with The Toilet Song while I was on the loo. In addition, I was blessed to hear other songs written/performed by Jonathan-and-sometimes-Benj. Three words: “Tickle Me Jesus.”
Somebody Stop Me: They also tried to get me plastered on wine and rum & coke. In addition to the hookah and the cloves, I need not tell you I got much less work done that evening than I had planned.
So that was that, and the whole day was lovely. Thanks guys. :)
2) The other day was amazing, and I’d just gotten paid, so I got a bunch of flowers from a man with tattooed hands on Princes Street. (He was also a very good salesman, which always makes me more likely to buy something from someone. And they were cheap.) I planned on giving some of them to the friend I was going to meet for coffee. She turned me down, because she didn’t want to be walking down the street with a bunch of flowers. What on earth is the world coming to, when we can’t carry flowers down city streets?! She’s lovely, by the way. It was just odd. I overheard a conversation at Ndebele on Sunday night, one of the staff guys talking to a friend: “You know that day a few weeks ago, when it was like, the first real day of Spring? Daffodils everywhere. Well I was walking down the street, just handing people daffodils, and they WOULDN’T TAKE THEM! How crazy is that! People would like, walk down the other side of the street when they saw me coming. It’s crazy, man….”
3) British television is horrible. I haven’t watched it in weeks. Granted, this is party because I’m busy. But still.
4) I’m really really enjoying my hermeneutics class. I’m happy to be taking a class I’m interested in (unlike most of the classes this year) for one of my final term classes. I was, however, freaked out when the lecturer referred to me in class by name. I’ve never spoken to him in my life, and I wasn’t in his class last week (the first week of class). I know it’s a small college and all, and I suppose I’m sorta well-known? I don’t know. I just talk a lot in theology classes, I think. The lecuters probably talk about how annoying I am in the staff room. Just a theory. I also gave a talk (we won’t call it a “sermon”, because I’m a woman, of course) in chapel a few months back, so that could have been it, too.
SPECTATOR 1: I think it was, "Blessèd are the cheese makers."
SPECTATOR 2: What's so special about the cheese makers?
SPECTATOR 3: Well, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.
[Monty Python's Life of Brian]
I’m sure I have more REAL LIFE MICHAELA STORIES for you, but I should be getting to sleep now. I have to actually work tomorrow.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners...."
As much as I have struggled over the past few years here, sometimes, I find moments that make it all worth it.
Last week, I started up what is being referred to in the Youth Project management committee as the “Pre-Alpha”, and what is being referred to by the kids as “The Wednesday Night Thing” (I took suggestions for a better name. They were happy with that.) Essentially, it’s a class/discussion/group in which the kids talk about God, Christianity and beliefs. So, every Wednesday night, I get to talk to 20+ non-Christian kids (we had 24 tonight) about Christ and what he did for them.
They come of their own free will (sorta...I mean, I'm still a Calvinist and all..;)). They come because they want to be with their friends (they are all from the same group), and have a cup of tea. But I don’t think they would keep coming, just for that. They enjoy the discussion, the questions, and the answers. We underestimate teenagers so much. We assume they don’t want to talk about God, that they don’t want to hear about Christianity. Quite the contrary – they are hungry for it.
I didn’t know what to expect at all when I presented this crazy idea to the committee a few months ago. All I knew is that we had a solid group of 20-30 kids coming along to the Precinct on Monday nights when we hand out tea and coffee. And I knew from the short talks we were having here and there that they were hungry for more than what we could give them on Mondays. These are the goth kids, the skaters, and the moshers. They are the ones adults are usually most scared of, because they dress in black Megadeth concert shirts, and dye their hair all shades of dark. They are also my favorites. (Yes, youth workers have favorites.) They are generally the kindest, and the funniest, and the ones that really want you to be a part of their lives. While I was washing out a cup at the sink today, before we got started, one of the girls came up and gave me a hug around the shoulders – one of the girls who has never hugged me before. They are quite caring with one another. They come early, and stay after to help out. I just love being with them.
When it started last week, though, I had no idea what to expect. I told folks that I was hoping for maybe 10. I was half expecting it to totally bomb, probably because I’ve seen so many other things around here bomb. (I by no means have the Midas Touch when it comes to youth ministry.) Instead, we got 20 kids last week. We were squeezed into that tiny room. We talked about the meaning of life, ultimate truth, and Jesus. They asked questions –really, really good questions – and I answered, and we talked about it. And at the end, they all left and said they would be back again this week.
And they were. Almost all of them came back, with only a few that didn’t. We ended up with 24 this week. If there are more next week, I have no idea what to do with them. I’m not sure we have anymore space in that room at all. Not that I’m complaining.
We talked about the nitty gritty stuff – the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and why Jesus Had to die. When I got to the part where I read the crucifixion, a large group of them went outside for a smoke. I was worried. They came back, though. And they asked a lot of questions. Most really wished we could watch The Passion. “When we read it, it’s the same story we’ve always read. But when I saw it, I cried”, one of the girls – who isn’t a Christian – said. “Can’t we even watch one of the older Jesus movies, maybe? I cried at those, too.” I said I didn’t think they’d want to, but we could, if they were up for it.
In the end, I stayed an extra hour with seven guys who kept asking questions. Some were silly, but most were quite serious, and very good questions that I never really though I’d have to address at such an early stage. “Why did God create Satan if he knew he would cause sin?” “What about other religions?” “How do we know Jesus actually came back in a body….what if he was just a spirit?” An hour of non-stop questions. My head was hurting by the end of it, I assure you. But my heart was glad.
On the way home, one of the kids who asked the most questions – for Child Protection and disclosure reasons, we’ll call him Vic – hopped on my bus. I'd never met him before tonight, but I immediately liked him. He sat down right behind me – which, on those buses, is a step above, too. And we talked for another 45 minutes about Vic’s life, God, and Christ.
Vic is sixteen, and living in a tiny bed and breakfast, on unemployment/welfare (he’s left school, so you can get that here at 16) because he got kicked out of both his parents houses. It's about an hour from Penicuik, so he travels a bit just to come to our little group, where his old friends are. He readily admits that a lot of that was his own fault, from his own screw-ups. Drugs, alcohol, you name it. He knows he screwed up. Police, child welfare, hospitals, psychiatrists. He asked sincere questions about things I had no expectation of getting into these evening – demons, spirits, evil. I gave straightforward answers, even at the risk of sounding like a holy roller. And he shook his head, and took on board every word. “I feel like I’m preaching, sometimes, but…” “No,” he said, “I’m listening. It’s cool.”
I could see it in his eyes, and hear it in his voice – he wants freedom. He’s tried the rest, and it’s made him miserable. He even said it himself – he’s full of regret.
I told him about the perfect freedom that can only be found in Christ. I told him about a forgiveness that is complete. And he listened to every word. And wanted to know more.
“I really like this thing, on Wednesday nights. It’s cool. We get to talk about what we think too. I like the discussion and stuff.” I told him I was really thankful for his questions – that they were good questions, and I was happy to answer them. I said I didn’t know all the answers – there are some things we’ll never understand – but that I’d try my best. I told him that I’d asked a lot of the same questions, and if Christianity wasn’t able to be put through that ringer, if Christianity wasn’t able to answer those big questions, I wouldn’t have believed it. I repeated what I’d told the whole group earlier – that I tell them these things because I know it’s truth, and I want them to know it, not because I want them on “my side” or to join “my church”. I told Vic that I wouldn’t sit here and tell him this if it was crap. They couldn’t pay me enough to do that. He smiled a little, “Yeah, I know….”
“I’m trying to think up more questions for you, for next week!” he said.
“How about this. Do you have a Bible?”
“You want one?”
“Well, how about I lend you mine for this week, then I’ll buy you one for next week. You can read some of it, come up with some more questions, is that okay?”
“Cool, yeah….it’ll give me something to do, too….And there are good stories in there. I remember reading some of them when I was a kid, and they were really good, you know?....”
And so, I gave Vic my beat up and marked in, sorta girlie-decorated Bible to read. And I plan on buying him his own, for next week. I think he stayed on the bus one extra stop, to my stop, and walked back. He just waved, and said thanks, and said he’d definitely be there next week.
As he walked away, and for most of my ride home, I couldn’t help but get pretty teary. My heart breaks for this kid. Of course I love them all, and I want them all to know Christ. But this kid…he’s different. I can see it. I can see his regret, and I can see he wants freedom. If there was ever a kid that was aware of his own bondage, I think it’s this guy. I really want this kid to know Christ.
But I have to admit, part of my tears were simply due to an acknowledgement of God’s power. I’m still in awe that God uses me in all my screwedupness – and goodness knows, I’ve seen the depths of my own sinful heart good and well, especially of late – for his glory, to speak to those who desperately need him. And because of that, I am humbled greatly.
And maybe, if you want to, you can pray for Vic. And pray for me.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
....and the living will lay it to his heart.
I was reading the story of Joseph the other day, and was struck by two passages:
“Then he turned away from them and wept.”(Gen 42:24a)
“Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, ‘Make everyone go out from me.’So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.” (Gen 45:1-3)
It got me thinking…and perhaps I’ve blogged about this before….but why do we no longer weep? Why is that side of our emotions is unacceptable in Western society? We see Middle Eastern funeral processions on TV, where mothers and fathers and those who did not even know the dead shake and shout and weep and beat their chests for the loss of their dead son, and we stare in wonder at how foreign it is to our own processing of loss. Here, we walk solemnly to and from chapels, to and from gravesites, with sunglasses on cloudy days so that not even those who mourn with us can see our tears. What kind of horrid world do we live in where we so casually show our most private experiences of sex and intimacy and body on television, on billboards and on street corners, and yet we refuse to show our shattered hearts? It’s no wonder all of western society is popping pills and seeing shrinks. We want to screw the pain away, throw pills at our losses, and tell perfect strangers the depths of our souls. No wonder our marriages break up for lack of communication, and our sons and daughters feel the loss of real love from their parents. If we cannot mourn, if we cannot communicate or show our losses, we bottle our agony until it kills us.
It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. (Ecclesiastes 7.2)
Saturday, April 16, 2005
I can't get with any religion that advertises in Popular Mechanics.
So I had my scalp groped by a 14-year-old today.
I couldn’t help but think there may be Child Protection issues in this.
This afternoon, I went to my usual salon to get my haircut. They’re one of the pricey ones, but I shell out because I trust my stylist. He’s always given me a great cut. And I don’t even think he’s gay, which boggles my mind.
Anyway, so I see this kid running around the salon, and I just figured he was someone’s kid who worked there. Til Scott (my stylist) takes me to the hair-washing sink…and calls over the kid, to wash my hair.
Seriously, I thought this guy was no older than 12. It was kinda….weird. But he was a great little guy. He got all excited about me being American. We talked about Disney World. And New York. Wasn’t a great hair washer, though. Little hands. Eventually, another girl came over to finish. Afterwards Scott explains: “He can get a bit chatty…”
Apparently, the guy was 14 (!), not that it matters, but he’s working there as a Saturday job. I’m thinking that’s basically like an apprenticeship into metrosexuality. (That said, Scott manages to be neither metro or gay, as far as I’m aware, so maybe this kid will be okay afterall.)
Scott proceeded to give me my most grown-up haircut to date, I think. It’s also my most British haircut. I can’t really describe that, but you’ll maybe see it one day or something.
I then spent hours not finding an orange scarf. It’s April, so the shops think its Spring or something. Apparently, no one told The Shops that we live in Scotland. It’s still cold, and will remain cold until August. And then it will get cold again in September.
I tried, and failed to study much (sleepiness is killer on the concentration) so I took a field trip to Waterstones. Both Richard and Benj have recommended Amusing Ourselves to Death recently, so I picked it up. I also considered Dylans Visions of Sin,which I still really want to read. In the end, I didn’t really have a choice. In the middle of my search for AOTD, I took a call from my dad (standing outside). I walked back in to where I put the Dylan book down, only to be accosted by a security guard who said they were closing (and hour earlier than I was told they closed), and also mumbled something about me “meeting someone”. I didn’t understand that part. Either way, I went back to the guy (I think he was the manager) who had given me incorrect information about where to find Amusing Ourselves to Death, and told him I still couldn’t find it. The entire staff then proceeds to look for at least ten minutes for this book. At one point, four guys were staring at one shelf – the one that I had already told them the book WAS NOT SITTING ON. Another guy had looked in sociology, pop psychology, blah blah here and there and couldn’t find it. Some other guy looked too. The manager then goes upstairs and finds it there, right away. He didn’t seem too pleased.
Anyway, so by that time, after all that, I couldn’t exactly say: “Actually, I’d like the Dylan book. Thanks, folks.”
I later went to Ndebele, my one and only after 7pm café (stupid early-closing Britain…) and read a bit of it. I like it so far. I’m generally a fan of all things sociological. I was unaware that it was written in the 80’s though…I find it interesting to read now, when television seems to be dying, bit by bit, in favor of the internet (for better or for worse). I found it even MORE interesting to read after listening to Jeremy Huggins lecture on blogging. I recommend it, especially if you’ve read AOTD. It’s a great compare and contrast, I think. Both of them got me thinking of images and entertainment as icon and idols….if you’ve read the book, maybe you can follow my thinking. I don’t know, maybe I’ll write something about it when I have more time, and have thought more about them. I’m sure someone, somewhere, probably already has. It was the kind of thought-process I needed a friend for, to sit across the table from me and discuss over a supremely rich brownie (because it takes more than one person to eat the brownies there anyway).
In other news, tomorrow, after church, I’m lunching with Jonathan and Sarah. I'm told there will be leftover burritos and hookah. What else can one ask for in friends? That’s quite enough for me.
Well, maybe that they like Annie Hall, too. But I'll let that one slide.
P.S. Has anyone read this book? What did you think of it?
Friday, April 15, 2005
Last night was extremely fun. I'd forgotten how much I loved that movie. It might even be a top five for me. Beautiful flick. Should not have gotten the REALLY cheap wine though. Ick. I drank it anyway. The pizza was good, but a little small for the price.
I do plan on fully updating you all tomorrow. But for tonight, check this out. How awesome is THAT?! A Symon board for your PANTS! Never mind the obvious dirty connotations, this thing rocks and I want one, dangit.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
This is gonna be a good night...
-Lost in Translation
-Bottle of Wine
-Dram of whisky
I'll report back later with a full...um....report.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
OK, let’s talk London.
I’m afraid this may only be interesting to me, having been there. I don’t always like regurgitating my steps for you guys, but…I don’t know. Here it is anyway.
Elin and I didn’t do much in Bournemouth between Friday and Sunday, and it was just perfect. Her husband Philip was in Austria visiting family, so it was just us girls. Saturday we spent a lazy afternoon the beach, reading, soaking in the sunshine, and writing postcards. That evening, we went to Starbucks in Borders, simply because it’s tradition for us. A very funny, foreign man with flashy jewelry (who was there with another lady) offered me 50,000 quid to marry him so he could get his American green card. “You don’t have to live with me or anything. We divorce later. Just a little while.” (He actually started at 10k I think. When I kept saying no, the price was raised. We’re pretty sure he was joking. We hope.)
That night we spent drinking cheap wine, and eating cheese and crackers, playing (cheating) Trivial Pursuit while getting tipsy. This went on til 3 or 4am. It was one of the best times I'd had in a long while. Needless to say, we were tired in church the next day.
Sunday, after church, we paid some kids football team to wash Elin’s car – first time it’s ever been washed. She was excited about this, because they were raising money to go play in Sweden. (Elin is Swedish, by the way.) On the way home, we tried to find the final resting place of JRR Tolkien at St Peter's, where Elin had been hold he was. (We later learn that, as I suspected, he only died in Bournemouth, on holiday – he was buried in Oxford.) We did, however, find the grave of Mary Shelley, which was fairly interesting in itself.
The rest of the day, we napped, and read books and drank tea and wrote letters. I can hardly think of a better way to spend a day.
Early Monday morning….we were off to London.
The bus left at 7am, getting us into London at around 10. It’s not an exciting bus ride, but it was nice to watch the countryside go by. Despite a lovely weekend, and a whole day in London in front of me, I was feeling twinges of homesickness. I made a conscious effort to, for lack of a better term, “be here now”. Enjoy this moment. Enjoy these sights, because they’ll soon be gone, even if you’re tired of them now….
It wasn’t a feeling I was expecting, on my trip to London. It went away quickly, however….
After arriving in Victoria, and dropping off my bag at the bag check for the day, we decide to head to Leicester Square to check ticket prices for the West End shows. (This was our original idea, by the way, when Elin came to visit me in October. We both wanted to go see a show over Easter break.) Last-minute decision means we got off the Tube at Piccadilly Circus, just to see it, and take photos.
I walked out of Piccadilly Station, and that’s when my camera sold it’s soul to Satan.
Poor Elin had to be there to experience me having a complete nervous breakdown. When I shut the lens in order to see what photos were on it (it’s digital), it would say “no photos”, despite the fact I’d taken at least 30 photos over the course of the weekend so far. When I would open it to take photos, it would say “card full”. I was nearly in tears, honestly. (I know, shut up. I’m a girl. And I like my photos. The thought of no photos from London pained me.) I reformatted my card. And then it worked again. (Sort of. I went through several sets of batteries over the course of the day, so something is still wrong. But at least I got photos, as you saw, even if it meant fighting my camera all day.)
Elin and I both decide that Piccadilly Circus feels way too American to be in the middle of London.
After an exhaustive search we find out….there are no matinees on Mondays. And Elin’s bus back to Bournemouth is at 7. So that means….no shows for her. But I couldn’t, in all good conscience pass up an opportunity. (Plus, I had several hours to kill that evening, before my bus was to leave at midnight.) I had some good options: Les Miz, Phantom of the Opera, The Vagina Monologues….but of course, I went with The Producers. (Note that website is for the current Broadway show, not the West End show.But that's the best website for it.)
In the past few years, there have really been only three musicals I’ve wanted to see: Rent, The Last Five Years, and The Producers. First off all: it's by Mel Brooks. That's enough for me, even without all the applause it's won over the recent years. My friend Fiona came back from London and told me about it’s awesomeness. And how could I NOT go see the amazing Lee Evans on stage!? I splashed out the cash and bought the ticket.
From there, we went to Covent Garden. If you’ve never been there, it’s a lovely little shopping area, I highly recommend it. We spot something happening at the end of the courtyard, and we head down. A film crew is there, with a few freezing actors sitting at tables (the weather was miserable all day in London), looking bored between scenes. A juggler is behind them (in front of us) doing his act in front of overenthusiastic extras who silently golf-clap when he pulls out his big moves. We stand in awe.
A cute, short guy comes over and casually smiles and asks us to not look at the camera. We weren’t anyway, I don’t think (we were mesmerized by the silent golf-clapping), but agree. We overhear they are filming a “BBC drama”. We don’t know if that means a series or a tv movie. Doesn’t really matter, since after much deliberation, we realize we don’t recognize anyone anyway. As we walk away, we talk in our usual banter about what we coulda/shoulda done. We both agreed staffer in the red shirt was hot. “I won’t look at the camera…can I look at you instead?” I joke, as if to the guy, who is (hopefully), no where near. Elin points out I always think up these funny things to say a few minutes too late. Sadly, she’s right.
We discuss other options of craziness. Option one was to walk past the camera from the other direction, and look in the store window, just to get our asses on camera. I don’t like this idea. I much preferred walking straight into the scene and joining the overenthusiastic extras, in order to excuse my overenthusiastic facial gestures, and my silent golf-clapping.
Elin surprisingly is not up for this.
(I think getting kicked off the set of a BBC drama in London would be a great story to tell my children one day.)
In the next episode, Elin and I head back to Leicester Square. Tune in next time.
P.S. Yes, I realize this post swaps tenses back and forth. Deal. I'm tired.
"A Prophesy Scholar....!"
You know, there are so many jokes I could make about this article, I'm just not gonna. Make your own jokes, I'm not your joke bitch. This one is easy.
See also: Remember?
Monday, April 11, 2005
"Beware that spring sun. It makes you do horribly, horribly silly
things, like date people."
(Edit: Because I was busy talking to a classmate til 4am last night while typing this, I completely forgot part of what the original post was meant to be. I have added this further down. I took out much of the lyrics of The Church, for sake of space. :) )
'cause i haven't come for only you
but for my people to pursue
you cannot care for me with no regard for her
if you love me you will love the church
Let me tell you a little about my recent thoughts.
So last night, Benj and I were chatting about our experiences with church. Both of us have had bad (yet quite different) experiences with churches, to varying degrees. The conversation got me thinking quite a bit about church.
I miss it.
For those who don’t know, I’ve struggled with church since coming here. In many ways I guess you could say I’ve struggled with church for most of my life. Here, it’s been more of a complicated issue with my work placement situation (I work for three churches). For the six months prior to coming here, I went to a church in Overland Park that I liked a lot, but knew I wouldn’t have time to get involved in. Still, I loved the pastor, and knew a lot of people, so it felt like a postitive experience. Still, it was lacking…I just couldn’t put my finger on what, exactly. Before that I was on the Doulos, and before that….well, that was the bad experience, back in high school. That’s a whole nother post.
It could be argued I’ve possibly never had a truly good church experience. I’m not asking for a perfect church. I know the church is full of imperfect people – sinners under amazing mercy. But I do know what the church is called to be. And I’ve seen too many churches that aren’t even striving to be those things. For quite a while, I even allowed myself to be bitter at the mere idea of church, if that makes sense. I’ve long preferred parachurch, interdenominal ministries, because those were the ones that I managed to have good experiences with. It wasn’t until I got older that I began to see the weaknesses in those, too.
I don’t think it was until December that I really started to mourn the loss of a church family.
My December trip to Nashville brought with it a visit to Midtown Fellowship, a PCA church that meets at Rocketown, in downtown Nashville.
Midtown was my first real glimpse, I think, into what church was supposed to be like. Solid theology, welcoming community, good worship that was actual worship, rather than a concert. (Indelible Grace music will get me in every time, hook line and sinker.) I actually remember sitting in church and getting teary. It sincerely hurt my heart that a church like this was not available to me.
Somewhere in between, my friend Dawn (at least, we think this is how it went) linked me to New City Fellowship in St Louis. (Or, I may have browsed there from the PCA site, I’m not sure.) I remember seeing it, but I don’t remember looking at it in much detail. Yesterday, I was back to following links around St Louis PCA churches. Thankfully, the PCA church is based out of St Louis, so there are quite a few to choose from, compared to other areas of the States. But like any denomination, churches vary. Some didn’t seem like they’d fit (you can tell an awful lot from a website, usually). Eventually, I ended back at New City.
Now, I know I’m always one to jump ahead of myself, to go from 0-60 in 3.8 seconds. But this church really really excites me. They are a multi-racial, PCA church, dedicated to urban ministry. They are solid in their theology and core values. They are also serious about Sonship classes and ministry, something I was SURE I wouldn’t find in a regular PCA church.
I think I started to get all teary again.
I have strong feelings about how we are to show - not just tell - the Gospel to the people of our communities. Recently, on a board I frequent, we were discussing a new song, entitled "Rich Young Ruler", that's set to be on Derek Webb's new album:
Is so hard to see
When it’s only on your TV
Or 20 miles across town
Where we’re all living so good
We moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood
Where He’s hungry and not feeling so good
For going through our trash
He says :More than just your cash and coin
I want your time, I want your voice
I want the things you just can’t give me
So what must we do
Here in the west we want to follow you
We speak the language and keep all the rules
Even a few that we made up
So come and follow me
Sell your house, sell your SUV
Sell your stocks, sell your security
Give it to the poor
What is this, hey what’s the deal
I don’t sleep around and I don’t steal
I want the things you just can’t give me
I want the things you just can’t give me
Cuz what you do to the least of these
My brothers you have done it to me
Cuz I want the things you just can’t give me
I want the things you just can’t give me
The thread sparked a bit of discussion. Someone said they were getting tired of "Controversial Derek". Someone else said that they missed when Derek talked about "real issues, not created ones", and that he was afraid Derek was moving in the direction of confusing the gospel with caring for the poor, or making evangelism secondary to social activism: "...[I]t just seems to me that it's real popular right now for people to minimize the legitimacy of ministry to suburban populations, as if it is somehow inferior to urban ministry. Like soccer moms don't need Jesus as much as homeless people." Someone else said:"[N]ot that I disagree with anything Derek's saying in this song, but I am afraid of one thing: That he'll end up promoting the effects of the gospel more than the gospel itself...some of his stuff feels to me like it's heading that way."
Of course, many disagreed with them. (If you wish to reah the entire thread it can be found here, but you'll have to register.) But to let you understand where I'm coming from, and my understanding of the church is community, this was my reply:
I think Derek is FINALLY getting to what the root and heart of the Gospel IS, and how that works in our lives. By "finally" I don't mean he hasn't been doing so....I mean that for years, this is something that Christian music has not addressed. We sing about God and to God, and that's all well and good. But when it comes to the nitty gritty of ACTUALLY making a difference in our communities and world, that has been hugely overlooked. (Not by everyone, but my most.) And Derek has been good to not overlook the root of that: Christ, his redeeming work, and his work on our hearts to enable such things. "I Want a Broken Heart" is simply one of the most powerful songs I've heard in a while, bar none. The effects of the Gospel ARE important to a dying world. He isn't negating the Gospel, he is highlighting aspects of it that have been largely ignored in Church culture in America.
And I don't see anything wrong with highlighting urban/poor issues. I venture to say Derek would never say that homeless people need Jesus more than suburban soccer moms. The difference is that suburban soccer moms have a much greater opportunity to be ministered to, because of where our churches are ministering - in and to the suburbs. Urban Priority Areas are left with too many AME churches that are cultural community centers, rather than legitimate, Gospel-centred beacons. (Not all. But most.) This is the reason Piper has made sure that Bethlehem has stayed in and ministered to its urban area, even when suburban folk were coming in droves, and the building was (is) too small. He sees the problem. Urban churches are underfinanced, and few church plants want to risk moving to unsafe areas. Suburban churches that DO do work in inner-city areas come in for a day, paint a few things, and go back to their safe houses with white picket fences. They do not invest their lives. It takes years of work for inner city church plants to seem legit to the people in the area, and not seem like patronizing rich folk. No one wants to put the work in. It's a helluva lot easier to start up a church plant in a suburban area (which has no lack of decent churches), make it shiny and white, get a kick ass worship band, meet in the local cinema or high school auditorium, and in a few weeks you'll have a couple thousand folks.
I'm not saying there aren't good churches that come out of that. I'm not saying God doesn't work through those churches. I'm saying that urban church ministry needs to be highlighted, because for years it has been neglected. And I'm glad Derek is taking on such things.
And don't even get me started at the number of new church plants in America vs. the number of places all over the world that are DESPERATE for a church and they aren't getting them, because we're too busy in our cozy little America.
And that is Michaela's Rant of the Day.
I don’t know, maybe this church isn’t the one for me, and maybe I’ll end up elsewhere. After all, I've never set foot in this church yet. God knows what he’s doing. But I’m encouraged. And it gives me yet another reason to look forward to going home.
My other new idea…..
I think I’m going to skip going back for a month Amsterdam, in order to spend a few days at the L’Abri community in England. I think it will be good to recharge before going home, rather than wear myself out just that tad bit more. I love (love) Amsterdam. But I think perhaps there will be a better time to visit, later on.
I think so.
P.S. I know I'm about two years late (I live in Scotland, after all), but if you haven't heard Rosie Thomas' song Wedding Day, go listen to it. Stunning.
Saturday, April 09, 2005
What kind of resturant makes you cook your own food?!
1) So I'm walking down Bruntsfield Place yesterday, and I pass one of the millions of hairstylists there, and take a casual glance in the window. What do I see? None other than a signed photo of Phil Collins! "Dear Trisha, thanks for the lovely cut and wax job, you are my favorite hair person in all of the Central Belt of Scotland. "I see your true colors shining through". You looked better as a blonde. Toodles, Philly." (Or something like that. I couldn't really read it, nor would I have remembered it.)
My first thought was: Awesome! Phil has been here! That's pretty much AGAINST ALL ODDS! I CANNOT BELIEVE IT'S TRUE!
But then my second thought was: Wait a minute. Phil Collins doesn't HAVE any hair. He pretty much never has.
This doesn't make sense.
2) So, as the poor student I am, who just blew too much cash in London, I've resorted to other income options. Pimpin ain't easy, folks. So, instead, I've taken to checking the cushions in the seats at Starbucks. My friend Andy taught me this once, and I've been relaying the good news ever since. My ex, Tim, once found FOUR pounds. Elin found 2.30 last week. I found 1.45 yesterday. You'd think the employees would have caught on to this by now, but no. They never look under those things, let alone clean them. And it almost never fails. Nearly EVERY time I remember to look, there's money. Much of the time, it can even pay for my cup of tea I get there, because I'm too brokeass to get a latte. So, God works in mysterious ways. I think he must be blessing me because I've been praying The Prayer of Jabez a lot more these days. So he HAS to, right? Right.
3) I'm a hardcore procrastinator. Today, while I should have been reading about "community capacity building" or some such truck, I found myself reading an article on the "Federal Vision" controversy within the PCA church. And of course it has nothing to do with any of the essays I should be doing. But man, I think I've been studying the wrong thing for the past 3 years. I found the FV article a helluva lot more fun to read. Give me individual regeneration, justification, imputation any day, but community capacity building and community education initiatives in Scotland make me want to punch myself in the face, just to feel better.
So I have to get out of the house, and make myself read this crap, or I'll never graduate, and I'll never get to go home.
Friday, April 08, 2005
I was voted the worst audience participant that Cirque Du Soleil ever had.
(Note: This was supposed to go up last night, but Blogger is acting kooky.)
OK, well I’ve got some good news and some bad news.
Everyone always says they want the bad news first, so just to show how much of a caring person I am, I’m gonna give you the good news first. The good news is that I’m here. And posting for you. The bad news is that I will be quite busy over the next few days…nay, next few months. Vacation time is over, sadness and death hang over my head like clouds of…..tiny particles of water….
Where was I? Right, so I have two essays due on Tuesday, and I’ve got a new Youth Alpha group to plan for starting next week, and I’m taking a group of kids to the Skate Park on Thursday, and I’ll be starting my new placement, teaching community participation/environmental “stuffs” (it’s all a bit vauge really…basically, I’m teaching the kiddies how to care about their communities/worlds/Third-World issues, that kinda thing…I’m pretty excited really…) at the juvi detention centre. I did a placement there last year and I loved it. I seem to like working with the REALLY messed up ones the most. (Is that PC? Probably not.) And this term I still have essays from last term to do, when I was sick.
Sounds awesome, eh? Well actually…probably. Last year, third term was by far my best, because I WAS so busy. I think it has something to do with Spring…springing, too. I need a lot more sun than I get here in Scotland.
So this means that it may take a bit for me to type up the stuff on London and Bournemouth. I do HOPE to do it over the weekend, on breaks between my readings on the history of the YMCA, and the other ones on some vaugue crap called “community capacity building” that makes me throw up a little. Just don’t get your hopes up or anything. I did have an amazing, and restful time. I really, desperately needed it.
So for today, a few thoughts that have been rattling round me cranium….
---I made two decisions today. One is, before I die, I want to partake in a viewing of Glitter, starring Mariah Carey. I know, I must be the last person on EARTH to have not seen it. And I know this is evil of the highest sort, because I want to see it out of sheer comedic value. But I get all a flutter with excitement at the idea of cozying up on the couch with my grandmother’s quilt, a cup of tea, a straw, and ample paper for spitwads to send towards my television at the most inappropriate (which of course are in reality the most appropriate) times in the movie. This sounds like a good night in to me. Maybe I’ll even order a pizza.
The other decision is that I plan on being one of those really eccentric old ladies when I’ve aged. Because then you can get away with it. Maybe I've mentioned this before, but today, I officially decided. I’ll be the one with the purple rimmed glasses (trifocals!), have frizzy hair dyed either pure white or jet black, and I will wear mumus. I will have at least 400 cats, and I will eat nothing but Stovetop Stuffing (Turkey flavor), lime Jello, and Hungry Man meals.
Come to think of it, this is sounding strangely like my own grandmother.
Moving right along….
---With all due respect (and I know I have some Catholic readers and I do not wish to offend you guys at all...), I simply do not understand the EXTREME mourning of the Pope. I mean…I guess I do understand it, in a sociological, cultural, (Roman Catholic) doctrinal kind of sense. But it seems to show a lack of understanding of our coming resurrection in Christ for those who truly believe. Now, I’m not one to make judgements on the eternal soul of the pontiff. But surely they think he’s the holiest guy of them all, with a straight line to heaven, do not pass purgatory, do not collect 200 Hail Mary's. If this is true, shouldn’t we be celebrating his newfound life and glory? I know it's right and good to see death as the enemy, and to mourn the passing of someone. But I think it gets to a point – especially when we don’t personally know the one who has passed – where it shows a level of idolatry, and lack of true belief in the Gospel. I, for one, pray that my loved ones know the enormous grace of our Father, who has counted out my days since before I was born, and will have called me to my true Home.
Along those same lines….
I was thinking today, about leaving Edinburgh and Scotland. I feel ready to go, but still holding on, keeping my eyes open, taking in what little time I have here, storing up memories, and working at staying in a state of wonder, instead of tiredness. But I’m greatly looking forward to the next phase of my life, and am wondering what comes next.
I can’t help but wonder if this will how I will feel when (if) I am old…cherishing the evening moments, but looking forward to tomorrow’s morning sunrise.
---One of the highlights of my weekend away was rediscovering Shane Barnard (and Shane Everett). I first found Shane and Shane through Shane B’s first album, Rocks Won’t Cry, lent to me by my friend Aaron on the Doulos about 5 years ago. I adored that album, and it sincerely made an impact in my spiritual walk at the time. I had to eventually give it back to him, and I haven’t been able to get it since. (Though I did find it today on a website, and hope to buy it soonish.) The first morning I was there, Elin – not knowing at all my memories of Shane – put Rocks Won’t Cry on the stereo. It became a bit of a soundtrack to my weekend. It was lovely to remember what it felt like when I first heard some of those songs, and to have them be a part of a touch of spiritual renewal and refreshment. It was even lovelier to hear them once again with the big deep ocean in front of me – except this time it was outside her window, instead of surrounding the ship. If you haven’t heard Shane and Shane – particularly Rocks Won’t Cry, and Psalms, then I highly recommend them. You can take me out to dinner or something later, to thank me. ;)
---I’ve started reading Romans again. Philippians was my favorite book of the Bible for years, but I may have to rethink that declaration. I can’t get past the wonderous grace of God that is found in Romans. If you aren’t reading much in particular right now, I’m gonna recommend that, too. And you don’t even have to take me to dinner afterwards or anything. Read it with new eyes. Let me know how it changes you.
---Has anyone else noticed how “not liking” or “not having” a TV is the New Snobbery? (Oh man, that would make an excellent band name. Now I need to start a band.) Right left and center, I’m being told that “Oh I just don’t like TV, too much trash…” or “I don’t own a TV….I read books”…that kinda thing. Well, that’s special. Now, I hardly watch TV either. British TV is awful. But you guys over in The Big Place are missing things like Arrested Development and Scrubs and I Love the 90’s! I don’t even get to watch those things over here! I weep.
I think My Secret Lover Don Miller said it best in Blue Like Jazz:
“When you are a writer and a speaker, you aren’t supposed to watch television. It’s shallow. I feel guilty, because for a long time I didn’t allow myself a television, and I used to drop that fact in conversation to impress people. I thought it made me sound dignified. I couple of years ago, however, I visited a church in the suburbs, and there was this blowhard preacher talking about how television rots your brain. He said that when we are watching television, our minds are working no harder than when we are sleeping. I thought that sounded heavenly. I bought one that afternoon.”
Anyway, that’s me for tonight. Apologies for the people (I can count at least five) who are awaiting emails from me. I promise I shall get to you soon. I appreciated your emails immensely. Some more than others. ;)
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Til you are further entertained by my stories of lighthearted glee down in the South of England, please do go check out some of the vocal stylings of my friend Joshua (Shua to some) at Hrtwrk. (Personally, I think "Grace" is my favorite.)
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
My trip was lovely.
I shall post soon, but I'm tired (to say the least).
In the meantime here are some photos for you. There are maybe more to come later.
Friday, April 01, 2005
How’s Your Love Life?
OK, first of all, I’m typing this on a Swedish laptop (Öäå….see?), so if I make any bizare mistakes that I miss in editing, sorry folks. Aren’t I exotic?! That’s what I get for having Swedish friends. So. A few snippets from yesterdays travel journal…..
So far, have been assured once again that I am in fact a complete idiot. I managed to miss the 6:05am bus to the bus station from my flat, to make it to Glasgow by 8:30am to catch the bus to London, and so on and so forth. Oddly (for where I live), no more buses came til 6:25. Not so handy when the bus I was meant to get to Glasgow was leaving at that exact minute. So I paid an arm, a leg, and a firstborn child (that one being a promise, of course), to catch the train to Glasgow to make sure I can catch that bus. Bus hey, at least that’s one less bus trip. (Edinburgh is beautiful this morning by the way. All pinks and blues. The sun is amazing, but I only saw it for about five minutes…It’s not a very Scottish sun, I’ll tell you that. The best way I can describe it is to say it looks like the sun from Apocolypse Now, huge and orange. It’s gone, slipping under a completely horizonal cloud, same color as the sky, within minutes.
I arrive at the Waverley Station check train times on the screen, and try to ignore the direct train to Bournemouth that I couldn’t afford. And by “ignore”, I mean “wept bitterly and cried WHY GOD, WHY?”. I’m joking, of course. Mostly.
Never did find my MP3 player or CD player to accompany my trip. I’m convinved the Nofun Midgets have come in the night to steal them away. No bueno, dudes. I am sure the Lord is just trying to teach me through the silence through, right? See! I’m so holy!
Vanilla latte from Costa is heaven. Bacon and egg roll from Burger King sucks severe ass. I tell myself that such is the life of a traveller. (And, one who attempts British food. Granted, BK is an American company, but in America, BK breakfasts are awesome, I tell you.)
Made it safe and sound onto London bus. Walk between train station and bus station provides NO trash bins. No wonder Glasgow is so flipping dirty. Entire city smells of butane and coal. (Odd.) Why have I never noticed this before?
(As I type this, Elin has answered her phone and started speaking Swedish. It’s kinda funny. I sometimes forget she’s really Swedish. So cute.)
In line for the bus, the Americans are already starting to annoy me.
Crossing the street to the bus stop, I see a bus go past me that is on the way directly to Bournemouth. Somewhere, (everywhere?) God is laughing at me. b
Bus driver is a no-smiling Nazi. He checks for extra luggage (we are supposed to have only one carry-on…I hide my plastic magazine and food bag…) and stands at the front to announce: “DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY ALCHOHOL? He then stares – freakin spooky stare, too – for so long, towards the back of the bus, that I nearly start to laugh. Probably not the best idea in this situation. I manage to keep it together. Half an hour later, he breaks the stare. “I take it by your silence…..(dramatic pause)….that no one has an alcohol…” he says. What does he expect? “Oh, ALCOHOL! I didn’t hear you the first time! Oh sure, I’ve got my keg right here!” I find it curious that he mentions nothing about drugs. The guy in front of me smells suspiciously like pot. He should get together with the guy I saw at the bus station blatently smoking a joint in broad daylight. What is this, Amsterdam?
Driver gets on the PA after we start driving, tell us all we need to know, gives us a lecture on luggage again. He does make some fairly humorous jokes though: “Only one piece of medium sized luggage…no cement mixers, no lawnmowers, no surfboards….no 10 pieces of luggage ‘because I’m going home because I failed my exams’….
Definitely should not have eaten that burrito at 4am.
Seen on the way into Manchester:
-“Felicity’s Hat Hire” (You won’t see that in the States….)
-Brannigans Pub: “Eating, Dancing and Cavorting” (!)
-The Beautiful British Butty (a breakfast roll takeaway, believe it or not…)
And so, I sit about 50 yards away from Buckingham Palace. I had 2 spare hours at Victoria before my bus to Bournemouth, and I was only a short distance away, so I can cross this one off the list. It’s lovely and all, but doesn’t feel monumental or anything. Am I bored with travel? Maybe just with Britian. So far, London is nice but Edinburgh beats the pants off em.
I called Mom from B’ham Palace. “Can’t talk long, Mom, but just called to say I’m standing in front of Buckingham Palace, and you’re not!”
“Cool! Did you get your money I sent?”
“No, I have to pick it up tomorrow in Bournemouth.”
“OK, because Sharon (her secretary) sent it.”
“How’s your love life?”
I’m standing in front of Buckingham Palace, and my mom asks about my love life. Only my mother.
On the bus to Bournemouth, finally. Still in London (Earl’s Court). One thing London does have is nice lighting. It makes you feel like part of a Dickens novel (the nice part, here…instead of the grotty part….) I quite like that London is lit more with white lights. Edinburgh has a yellow streetlight issue. More of a feeling of living on top of each other here, though, which I suppose it to be expected. Odd though, considering I live in a 4 floor flatblock.
Billboard for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” here in London: embroidered sign – “God Bless This Crack House”. I think it’s kinda funny, even if it doesn’t seem to fit that show at all.
The Most Annoying Kid in the World is sitting in front of me. It seems I won’t be getting much sleep on this bus.
And now (3pm, Friday)….I sit at Elin and Philip’s lovely kitchen table, typing all this to you. I slept extremely well in the guest bed last night. Their house sits right on the seafront, and it’s beautiful, if a little foggy today. I love having nothing to do but sip tea and catch up on how cute our old friend’s babies are, and on everything we’ve missed in the last 5 months since we’ve seen each other. No TV, and only dial-up internet, so not much of that. The sea and some books. Just the vacation I need.
Thanks for the emails, guys. I’m apparenly unable to read them on my phone now, because it’s being weird. I can still read your blogs and my comments and the .net board though, I just can’t respond from there. But they are appreciated.