Monday, May 30, 2005
My Gift To You...
Today...a beautiful piece out of The Onion.
Sunday, May 29, 2005
On Sex Books and Jazz
It’s early (1:35am) Sunday morning, and I should be asleep. Instead, I’m rewarding today’s hard essay work (I kicked that essay’s ass, really. Am I allowed to say that about a biblical exegesis?) with a cup of tea, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, and some unwinding (blogging) time…
1) Thanks to Justin Taylor, I’ve managed to get my hands on a preview of Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, Edited by John Piper and Taylor, for review purposes. This excites me, but I’m wondering how on earth I’m going to find the time to read it, let alone write a coherent and publishable review on it. I may not really be able to, we shall see. I’ll probably read it, write the essay, send it/blog it, and then realize all the other reviewers have beaten me to the punch. What’s worse, is that I’ll then read those reviews and think to myself how much better my review WOULD have been, had I actually done it. Yes, I realize that’s all kinds of prideful. But then I realize had I done much of this work I’m doing these days when I was SUPPOSED to have done it all, last term, then I wouldn’t really be in this predicamen. So at the end of the day, I realize yes, I really am a moron.
At any rate, I’m excited to read the book.
2) Speaking of books on sex, I recently stumbled across Lauren Winner’s new blog, thanks to my little PCA sister, Summer. Lauren is just a fantastic writer, and can probably be termed the “It-Girl” of the college-age Christian book market these days, helped by the recent publication of her book Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity. (As far as I’m aware, Don Miller continues to be the “It-Guy” on the circuit). I discovered her somewhere between my first and second years in college, and remember long days in Starbucks back in St Louis that summer, reading Girl Meets God. To me, reading Lauren is a bit strange, because you feel you relate to her so strongly, as if she knows your thoughts, but at the same time she seems completely and wholly different than you. (And by “you”, I mean “me”, of course.) I guess there’s a sense in which I feel that about most of my favorite authors. It both inspires me to write, and makes me want to never write again (why bother, when everything has already been said, and so much better than you could ever say it?).
Anyway, on Lauren’s blog, she posted the following piece, by her friend Lisa Anderson.
Salvation happens at five years old. Salvation is better protection against the dark than her Wonder Woman nightlight. Salvation makes her run into the kitchen to tell her mother how her entire body tingles, how everything feels new. Salvation means that God, who is always so near, wants to know about her day.
Salvation grows at eight. Salvation is an adventure. Salvation means Prince Caspian and Madeleine L’Engle and Grandpa Jack and possibly kitty—but we can’t know for sure—salvation means that some of these, our favorite people, are part of one big family. Salvation results in late-night slumber party talk about a big God-who-so-loves-the-world. Salvation means crayon renderings of heaven: of flowers that are more colorful than lemon yellow and atomic tangerine combined, of sea foam green oceans that you could swim in all day if you wanted to.
Salvation is forgotten at fourteen when she reads Kerouac and Salinger. Salvation becomes uncomfortable. Salvation means she shouldn’t sneak out tonight with Kendra because it would require lying. Salvation means obedience and submission (and patriarchy, too, once she learns that word). Salvation means defending things she doesn’t understand to people she really likes, people she wants to like her.
Salvation is despised at nineteen. Salvation involves sexual purity and the GOP. Salvation means limiting her to writing nice things, listening to nice things, saying nice things. Salvation means admitting a personal connection to Historical Things We Don’t Want to Mention, like the Crusades. Salvation is a stranger.
Salvation is remembered at twenty-five. Salvation may mean regeneration of her broken parts, or maybe just the ability to forgive Joshua for his being such an amazing asshole. Salvation is everywhere: in early morning Vodka-infused conversations, on page 43 of White Teeth, in Zion canyon. Salvation is tattooed in Hebrew on her lower back, where only certain people will ever see it. Salvation might be for her. Salvation might not.
Salvation hovers at twenty-eight. Salvation means serving First Presbyterian Church in spite of its monochromatic makeup, in spite of its big screen televisions. Salvation sometimes means trying so very hard to be good to the boyfriend-who-so-loves-her. Salvation means thinking differently about human rights and architecture and unemployment. Salvation means somehow being the Imago Dei, God’s very own image.
Salvation is working all the time.
It has been a very long time since I read something that resonated so completely and strongly with me and my life on the whole.
(Except, of course, salvation is not tattoed in Hebrew on my back. It’s Latin. And it is Sola Gratia – “grace alone”. ;) )
3) After sitting on the waiting list for a few weeks, I recently received an email from the England L’Abri telling me that a space has opened for me the week I want to go in July. After the disappointing email that said there wasn’t space, and working on letting go of that little dream, this email was a pleasant surprise, added to a number of other recent surprises (which I have sort of mentioned). My summer may (or may not, I’m not sure) have to be rejigged and reshuffled, but I am fairly committed to heading to L’Abri if humanly possible. (Incidently, the same day, I found an unread copy of Edith Schaeffer’s L’Abri, the story of the first L’Abri set up by her and Francis in Switzerland. I can now return Sarah’s hardback copy, which I only got a few pages into, and am able to take my time with my very own paperback copy. Hurrah!)
4) Anyone else feeling like their theology or theological study is actually getting in the WAY of their relationship with God? Surely I’m not the only one to feel like this. I'll gather my thoughts on the matter, and perhaps blog about it later.
5) Today’s fun game: When eating macaroni and cheese (or any pasta and sauce dish – Hamburger Helper works well…), hide an uncooked piece of pasta in your bowl. Then, when you find the hard pasta piece, its like winning. Hey look – THERE is the uncooked piece! I found it! It’s like those youth group games from when you were a kid, when they hid the clear marble in the jello and you had to find it with your feet. There were no prizes in those, either. At least this time, you know you’ll win everytime, so long as you eat all your dinner. I wouldn’t recommend using your feet, but it’s up to you.
6) I think if I had to choose one genre of music to listen to for the rest of my life, it might be jazz. I don’t listen to it enough, oddly, for as much as I enjoy it. It somehow manages to make life feel like a chick flick, a la When Harry Met Sally, even when there are no romantic interests in sight. And yes, that may sound dire (I don’t even watch too many chick flicks, myself), but it’s just quite…pleasant. (Which is a bit of a sweeping statement, I realize. There’s some amazingly emotional jazz and blues out there – see: Billie Holiday, for example.) I’m glad, of course, it’s not the only kind of music available. But I defy anyone to listen to Louis Armstrong and not feel better on a cranky day. I could easily listen to “Solitude” or “Mood Indigo” to candlelight and red wine for the entire rest of my life. Except I don’t think anyone would actually pay me money for that.
I guess I’ll have to get a “real job”.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Just a few links to things that I think are important....
Global Issues : I just found this link, thanks to Derek Webb's link page, and it's fantastic. It's the place to get the facts and information on what is actually happening in the world. Personally, I'm tired of Christians not only not caring enough about such things, but also simply being ill-informed. And perhaps it is because we don't care enough about others, or perhaps Christian leadership isn't making the needs known. Either way, we need to find out, pray, and actively DO something about what's happening.
The ONE Campaign/Make Poverty History : For those who don't know, the MPH Campaign is the UK sister of the American One Campaign (both being a part of the Global Campaign Against Poverty). Anyone want to come march in Edinburgh (during the G8 conference in Gleneagles) on July 2nd with us? (It's pretty dang exciting that the march start/end point and festival is happening literally just two blocks away, in The Meadows. Sweeeet.)
G8 Gleneagles 2005 : A little more information about the G8 Summit, which is causing most of the poverty and social action hulabuloo here in Scotland (and worldwide) these days.
StreetChild International : A ministry of Mission to the World, the global missions arm of the Presbyterian Church in America, these guys work to minister to the 150 million abandoned, abused and homeless children worldwide.
Makoto Fujimura : This guy is an amazing Christian Japanese artist who is doing with art what should be done with art.
International Arts Movement - "a fusion of creativity and faith that expresses and illustrates God's intimate and merciful identity in the world..." : Founded by Fujimura, and with Dr. Tim Keller on the board, this was one of the most exciting things I've found concerning Christians in arts and culture in a very long time. This is what art is supposed to be, and this is how we start engaging with our culture.
Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi was India’s revered leader in the fight for national independence from British colonialism. As a child in India, a student in England and a lawyer in South Africa, he was exposed to Christianity—and racism. He admired the teachings of Jesus, especially the Sermon on the Mount. He admired the life of Jesus, and indeed was inspired to follow his example. But after years of observing Christians, he sadly concluded, “For me to believe in their Redeemer, their lives must show they are redeemed.” He never became a Christian.
A Christian’s lifestyle matters—not only correct words. The total teaching and example of Jesus demands a lifestyle that is noticeably different from the average person’s. (From the IVP QT Bible, via Adam's blog)
And I've done it before, and I'll do it again......
I shall post some pertinent lyrics here.
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”
(Again, Derek Webb, "Rich Young Ruler")
Thursday, May 26, 2005
This Other Life
"My mind then wandered. I thought of this: I thought how every day each of us experiences a few moments that have just a bit more resonance that other moments - we hear a word that sticks in our mind - or maybe we have a small experience that pulls us out of ourselves, if only briefly - we share a hotel elevator with a bride in her veils, say, or a stranger gives us a piece of bread to feed to the mallard ducks in the lagoon; a small child starts a conversation with us in a Dairy Queen - or we have an episode like the one that I had with the M & M cars back at the husky station.
And if we were to collect these small moments in a notebook and save them over a period of months we would see certain trends emerge that have been trying to speak through us. We would realize that we have been having another life altogether, one we didn't even know was going on inside us. And maybe this other life is more important than the one we think of as being real - this clumsy day-to-day world of furniture and noise and metal. So just maybe it is these small silent moments which are the true story-making events of our lives." (Douglas Coupland, Life After God)
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
For the LOVE!
What do you do?
What do you do when everything changes and you've only got three weeks together?
And you each have a million essays?
And you live 2 hours apart?
And you're about to live 7,000 miles apart?
And you're just generally insane?
WHAT TO DO?!
Sunday, May 22, 2005
I've been passed the music baton by Shua Blankenhip. And away we go...
Total volume of music files on my computer: 7.02 GB
The last CD I bought was:
New: Underoath, They're Only Chasing Safety Used: Indigo Girls, Rites of Passage
Song playing right now:
"Memories" by Eisley
Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:
1) "Love Will Come Through" by Travis
2) "Sweet Baby James" by James Taylor
3) "Wedding Day" by Rosie Thomas
4) "Nothing Better" by The Postal Service
5) "Not Alone" by Patty Griffin
Five people to whom I'm passing the baton:
Saturday, May 21, 2005
I've recently been contemplating how to "come out" to my mom as a Presbyterian. (Which is to say, I am a Presbyterian, and would be telling her this - not that I'm a homosexual and she's a Presbyterian. Both ideas are beyond my imagination.)
I remember being a child as we were looking for a church once. We passed a Presbyterian church, and I asked my mother about it.
"We could never attend a Presbyterian church."
"They baptise babies."
I've thought maybe I'll tell her I'm pregnant, and that I was planning on baptising the baby.
And then telling her I was kidding about the pregnancy part, but not the baptism part.
I'm thinking it might not work though, so I'm open to other suggestions.
Friday, May 20, 2005
I'll tell you everything, and you tell me everything, and maybe we can get through all the piss and shit and lies that kill other people.
You know what I’m tired of? I’m tired of what we hide from everyone else, and I’m tired of hiding everything from everyone else.
I realize this is possibly necessary in life, that this is a defense mechanism maybe we couldn’t do without. It’s not really outright lies, it just isn’t the whole truth of me, so it can’t be sin right? (Right?) We cannot say everything or do everything that we want at the particular time we want to (if ever). In the same way we cannot be all of who we are at once, we can only open doors one at a time, for better or for worse (right?). I just don’t really like it.
Maybe the problem isn't the speed at which we open our doors, but that there are too many doors that we refuse to open at all.
There is an ad campaign here in Scotland that is an attempt to reduce the stigma of mental illnesses. They have a variety of people in various scenes, somehow advertising their illness – in other words, saying that “if you knew this about me, would you hire me/love me/talk to me/etc?” In the juvi secure unit I work in, a stack of these pamphlets sit next to the visitors window – the one showing the girl with a necklace that says “anorexic”. But what if we all had these labels? Well of course they wouldn’t work, because we judge. What if they said all the good and all the bad? Would we be able to handle it? What if each person you met could hand you a list of things, to which he could say: “This is me. Take it or leave it.” What would be acceptable? What would not?
Good with money
(Disclaimer: This is not my list.)
Of course the catch is that the list could never contain all of us. We change, and at the best of times, I don’t think we really know ourselves.
But like I said. The truth would scare everyone else away anyway.
I realize that I am not unique, as a “postmodern twenty-something” in my tirade about “authenticity”, especially in the church. Hello, Emergent buzzword. But there’s a reason it’s a buzzword and there’s a reason we crave it - we have finally realized we miss it.
Two things (actually three, but I’m only going to talk about two here) that crossed my path this week prompted my little outrage.
One, I finally got around to watching Magnolia. Yes, I’m only six years late. Love it or hate it, I don’t care. I quite liked it. But either way, there’s a scene in which Claudia and Jim go on their date. Claudia is nervous that Jim will find out all of her problems and faults and leave her – as a reaction, she rattles on about how they should just lay out everything about each other, right off the bat. I sat and watched and wished my dates could be like this. We try, or at least we pretend to of course. But what if they really went that way?
In the end, Claudia can’t even do it. She leaves.
Two, I read an article in an old Relevant Magazine which quoted Derek Webb:
“Our joy doesn’t come from how well we hide our sin from each other, and our joy doesn’t come from how secure we feel because of what we do correctly – and scared to death, looking over our shoulder all the time, because of all the things we do that we know are sinful. Our joy comes from the fact that we are people exposed and sinful and desperate, and yet simultaneously, as Martin Luther might tell us, saints sons and daughters, because of our inheritance in Jesus.”
Perhaps it’s just my own experience, but it breaks my heart that many churches are running side programs on How to Hide From Those You Love And Hate. This program seems to include how to hide your sins, your hurts and your secret feelings (good or bad). Wear your smile well and you don’t have to worry about explaining things to people. Perfect your answer for “How are you?” (“Blessed!” being one that can take you far…) and you don’t have to worry about someone seeing you fall to pieces.
All this, and yet, the church should be the one place in which we can be ourselves.
Why is this not the case? I propose a simple answer (one that applies to nearly all sin, really). The answer is we simply do not believe the Gospel. We don’t really believe that God’s grace is sufficient to cover us, or at least not enough to rejoice in the Divine Mercy we cannot earn ourselves and are freely given as believers. We don’t believe Paul (in the very Word of God) who states repeatedly that we should BOAST in our weaknesses – indeed the only thing we should boast in – because His power is made perfect in them.
If our life's purpose is to glorify God, we need to do more than just talk about the goodness and blessing we see daily. We need to talk about what we are constantly struggling with, and may even struggle with tomorrow, because it is only through seeing the problem that others will see the Solution.
And we need to create an environment of community and family and unconditional love in church that can cultivate this ability to be our true selves, dirt and all.
If we don’t, we show the world a church that looks as if it doesn’t need God.
I am so very sorry that I have neglected you poor folk. I can almost hear you all slamming the blog door in my face, never to return. I would understand. But in my defense, this week has been beyond mental, completely with crazy and unexpected twists and turns, very little time and too little sleep. Tommorrow will be much of the same. But fear not! The weekend is upon us, and I'll be sure and say hi then.
Til then, be good kids.
And be sure and watch Arrested Development when you can. If you aren't, you're missing out.
Love, Cuddles, Bunnies, Rainbows and Snogs,
Saturday, May 14, 2005
We Own Kansas City
If you grow up in Kansas City, you grow up with Hallmark.
Kansas City, I believe, often feels like the ugly stepsister of St Louis or distant and forgotten cousin of Chicago. KC is a big place (to us), but it’s often not seen as such on the national or global scale.We have few things that we can call our own on a national level. We have our sports teams – the Chiefs and the Royals – but neither have been much to speak of in recent years. (Katie, please don’t hate me.) Gone are the days of George Brett, Frank White, Derrick Thomas and Marcus Allen. We still love our teams of course. But most major cities have their own anyway. And they’re better than we are.
We have the headquarters for Applebees, Lee Jeans and Sprint, it seems, but even if people knew this, they wouldn’t care.
But what we do have, and take pride in, is Hallmark.
Growing up, there’s a feeling that Hallmark sort of owns your town, in the same way Anheiser-Busch owns St. Louis. Go anywhere in the world, and you can see the tiny lettering of “Kansas City, MO” on the back of a Hallmark Card. In Taiwan training for the Doulos, some friends and I went to a department store, and found a large number of Hallmark cards. I got a little homesick. I promptly told my friends THIS CARD WAS MADE IN KANSAS CITY! They promptly did not care. But I was still comforted by the fact that we (as if I’ve ever worked for Hallmark) made cards that were being shipped to Taiwan. Never mind that Taiwan ships everything to us.
And remember, Hallmark even has it’s own CHANNEL now. Eat THAT, American Greetings.
As a kid, Crown Center – owned and built by the the Hallmark company – was a sort of Mecca of shopping for us. It had nothing to do with the quality of shopping, really – the mall area itself is quite small. It had everything to do with status and mystique. A Crown Center visit was rare, usually once a year at Christmas time. If you were lucky, and were really good at begging and promising to clear your room everyday for the rest of your life, you could maybe even get in a little ice skating.
The Crown Center Ice Rink is a holiday tradition, nearly on par with the Plaza Lights for us. It manages to attract all sorts of people from all over Kansas City – black and white, rich and poor. Like Crown Centre, it’s not huge. It’s just about right, though. Those blue barriers and yellow roof, under the shadow of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, contain more than a few memories. It was here that I bruised my knees leaving ice “stains” instead of grass stains. It was here that my best friend Booker and I would flirt like crazy while shuffling around the edges, holding on to the barriers, til we thought up some excuse to hold hands (“just as friends, so that we won’t fall, of course”). It was here that my friend Luke fell and broke his leg, meaning an ambulance and visit to the emergency room for him. It was here that Mom never allowed me to get the overpriced hot chocolate.
But as a child in Kansas City, there is no better place ON EARTH than Kaleidoscope. I make no exaggeration. The yearly school field trip was nearly as exciting as Christmas. The one year we couldn’t go, I cried. When I “outgrew” it, I mourned.
Kaleidoscope is a bit hard to explain. It’s a sort of creativity center for kids from 4-12, which lets kids explore art and the senses. I remember the colored cube wall opposite the brightly decorated carpet we sat on as they got us ready for our tour. I remember the every-popular “pin table”- a massive version of those pin-art dealies that you put your face in and amaze your friends with. I remember the mirror that you and your friend sat at, one on either side, which made it look like you had half your face and half your friends. I remember tunnels of light and texture.
But most of all, I remember the wax.
The most popular part of Kaleidoscope was the end, in which you got to go crazy with different creativity stations, drawing masks, making your own puzzle, and decorating candles with melted Crayola crayon wax. Nothing made mothers as proud as those bags of paper, wax and cardboard goodies we’d bring home – or so they said. Looking back, as a youthworker with more than her fair share of heath and safety and child protection classes under my belt, it’s amazing that they let children near hot wax. (Do they still do this?) But man, that was good times.
Some of my biggest Crown Center memories, however, were of Prom.
And perhaps I should save that for tomorrow.
Friday, May 13, 2005
For Your Lady Friend
Originally uploaded by ThisBeautifulMess.
Edinburgh. Spring is upon us. Or so Scotland would like to think. It's still too damn cold.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
A Cheap Poetry Post
Yes, I know it's ridiculously cliche and cheap to post poetry (well....cheap if it's someone else's, egocentric and usually crap if it is your own), or quotes or such things on a blog. But I'm going to anyway because it's a beautiful poem that I adore. And this is my little corner of the internet - I'll decorate as I please.
And besides, it's never stopped me before.
[somewhere i have never travelled]
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously) her first rose
or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain, has such small hands
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
... we all but cry out to remember more...
During this final term at college (I only have one more month – 4 days – of college left...), I’m working at an agency placement in one of the juvenile secure units, as an art teacher’s assistant. Seeing as there are no more than four students at a time (and usually only one or two), the poor art teacher is constantly struggling to find things for me to do. We both feel bad, because I feel like there’s nothing I can really do to help, and she can’t find things for me to help with.
But part of why I’m doing this is to just build relationships with kids who need some good role models. Friday, however, was a one-off day at another unit, so I wouldn’t be seeing these guys again. I decided to just jump in and join them. Several books and magazines sat on Jenny’s (the teacher I’m working with) shelf. I went about flipping through a few of them in order to find something to sketch. A perusal of a book of great 70’s movie posters proved interesting, but didn’t provide too much help for the short amount of time I had there. (By the way, has anyone seen The Warriors? That movie is amazing, in the most terrible and kitsch way…)
Another look at the shelf and this time and noticed an old, tatty National Geographic from July 1976, less than a year before my parents married. The “theme” on the spine said United States. I pulled it out and flipped through with a sort of faux nostalgia for a decade of America in which I was not included.
Faux nostalgia, however, turned into real nostalgia when I turned the page to see an article – “Kansas City, Heartland USA”. “Hey, that’s my hometown!” I said to Jenny, perhaps a little too excited. “Yeah?” she replies, and comes over for a look.
I wanted, of course, to point out all the photos, and tell her my own childhood memories of each place documented. Three years of living here, however, have shown me that people are only interested in your stories of home to a point. And even at that, it is often more out of a dreamy fascination with the States (whether the like to admit that or not) than of wanting to know more about me. (I realize, for you Scottish readers, that I’m generalizing here. That isn’t true for all of my friends here, just people on the whole.) I could hardly contain myself, in a completely unexpected way. Here I was, sitting in an art classroom in a juvi unit in Scotland, and my childhood had been sitting on a shelf in the corner, between the pages of a National Geographic.
I read through most of the article, and saved the rest for later (it felt like saving the last bit of chocolate bar for after tea). I asked Jenny if I could borrow it.
“Keep it, if you want! I think it must have been from the teacher before me, I haven’t seen it before.”
These memories are thick, though, all wrapped up in 27 pages of photos and words taken and written five years before I was born. So, color me inspired, aching for and missing home.
And please accept my apologies if one or more entries of Kansas City memories spill onto this journal.
One way or another, we are always remembering, of course. There is no escaping it, even if we want to, or at least no escaping it for long, though God knows there are times when we try to, don't want to remember. In one sense, the past is dead and gone, never to be repeated, over and done with. But in another sense, it is, of course, not done with us. Every person we have known, every place we have ever seen, everything that has ever happened to us - it all lives and breathes deep in us somewhere whether we like it or not, and sometimes it doesn't take much to bring it back to the surface in bits and pieces. A scrap of some song that was popular long ago. A book we read as a child. A stretch of road we used to travel. An old photograph, an old letter. There is no telling what trivial thing may do it, and then there it all is - something that happened to us once - and it is not just as a picture on a wall to stand back from, and gaze at, but as a reality we are so much a part of still, and that is still so much a part of us that we feel something close to its original intensity and freshness. We remember what it felt like to, say, fall in love at the age of 16, or to smell the smells and hear the sounds of a house that has long since disappeared, or to laugh til the tears ran down our cheeks with somebody who died more years ago that we can easily count, or for whom, in every way that matters, we might as well have died years ago ourselves. Old failures. Old hurts. Times too beautiful to tell, or too terrible. Memories come at us helter-skelter and unbidden. Sometimes so thick and fast that they are more than we can handle in their poignance - sometimes so sparsely that we all but cry out to remember more.... (Frederick Buechner,"A Room Called Remember")
Sunday, May 08, 2005
I totally and completely, 100% forgot that I was supposed to work tonight.
I suck at this life thing.
How very un-rock-and-roll.
Last night my friend Jody and I drove out to Glasgow to see The Hitchhickers Guide to the Galaxy with some friends and folk (Fi, Catriona, and Neil).(Come to think of it, I may have been the only person in our group under 30. Hm. I’ll take this as a compliment.) I enjoyed it, by the way.
Walking back to the car after beers, Jody and I were in some intense conversation about kababs or something (I don’t remember). Glasgow at night is interesting, and you get used to dodging folks without even thinking. So it was no wonder that I didn’t actually notice AJ flipping me off (actually, he was giving me what we shall call “The Backwards Victory Sign”, but I try and write so you Americans can understand: it was the equivalent of flipping me off) til I was about 15 feet past him. He’s apparently been standing there doing it as I walked past him, less than a foot away, and he just turned and kept doing it to my back til I bothered to turn around to see who the weird guy was that had walked too close to me. “HEY!” I said, and did this awesome kung-fu move jump thing, turning my entire body around.(It was amazing.) “What’s UP?!” I introduced AJ and Jody who don’t know each other, and AJ and I catch up on things since Tuesday when we’d last seen each other (AJ being a friend of mine from college).
“How was the show?” I asked him, referring to the mewithoutYou /Coheed and Cambira/Mae show that I was supposed to go to, but couldn’t because of work.
“Aw maaaaaan, it was AWESOME”, he said, in a very AJ, could-pass-for-on-drugs-but-never-is manner.
“Don’t tell me that.”
“You’re supposed to tell me it sucked, since I couldn’t go.”
“Oh, right. Yeah, it sucked.”
“There we go.”
“You wanna hear the most un-rock-and-roll story EVER?”, he says.
“So some of the guys from mewithoutYou crashed at my place that night right?.....
“Yeah, that’s what I thought man, I was like…this is gonna be a partay…..rock and ROLL….and they came over and fell RIGHT TO SLEEP!”
“Ahahahhaaa….No hot chicks, even, eh.
“None. See? Un-rock-and-roll.”
“You’re right. Pretty un-rock-and roll.”
“Man, now I’m even more pissed off that I couldn’t go. I coulda hung out with the guys at your place.”
“Yeah, but I dunno, they hadn’t had a shower in like, days. They kind smelled.”
“I’m okay with that. Manly.”
“Did they use your shower?”
“I don’t know, I was gone before they were awake, I had to go to work.”
“Wow. Interesting. Still, pretty awesome.”
(From there, we talked about college or work or some such truck.)
Friggin work. I coulda hooked it up with some hottie rockers with great facial hair, but noooooooo, I had to work. Sure, they went straight to sleep, but of course they WOULDN’T have if *I* had been there. Obviously. Life is just so unfair.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Of Edinburgh area coffeeshops, the Metropole is the most dangerous. It’s danger comes directly from it’s apparently popularity. It was, essentially, the first proper coffeehouse that I discovered in Edinburgh. Most coffeeshops have a specific demographic/feel. The Elephant House caters to snobbish bohemian student smokers. Ndebele caters to fringe folk and expats of all sorts. Favorit caters to late-night alcoholic lovers from the art college. Etc. Metropole’s constituency seems to be the university math and linguistics majors, with the occasional snuggly PDA couple. (Both make me vomit, but I manage.) It is a lovely, if overpriced café, with large windows, wooden booths (just for those larger group study sessions) and a seemingly out of place palm tree that will one day be the death of someone over 5’3.
Sunday before last, work called for me to be in Penicuik in the morning. Being the amazing planner and thinker that I am, I brought along books and a notepad with plans to stop in at the Metropole on the way back into town.
Unfortunately, the only free table upon my arrival and payment of an overpriced cup of tea was under that damn palm tree. It’s lovely, don’t get be wrong. I just don’t like the way it constantly taps me on the shoulder, like it’s about to ask me for a light, mate.
This necessitates “The Stalking of the Tables”, an activity which I have, in fact, perfected. It’s difficult to casually move to a newly-abandoned table while still managing to look cool (my life goal, of course, is to maintain cool at all times). My need for casual cool meant I missed that first table that opened up – lost to some girl, probably a flipping LINGUISTICS major or something, who was far more interested in the table than in looking cool. She bolted towards it. She was even further away from me of course. I looked like an idiot, putting all my stuff b back down. (As if anyone really cares or pays attention to someone besides themselves anyway…)
This left me well-prepared for the next opening. I made a mad dash, throwing coolness to the wind.
Ahh, an entire booth to myself – a caffeine/literary addicts haven. I settled down, space of six people all to myself. This peace did not last long.
Within 10-15 minutes, somewhere in the middle of my Steve Turner book, I hear “May I sit here?”. Of course, this is common. There really were no open tables. However, one can generally hope for one of two things concerning this person: 1) this someone will be interesting, perhaps even a nice-looking male or 2) this someone will get on with whatever they were doing/writing/reading, leaving you to get on with whatever you were doing/writing/reading. I mean, I’ve blogged about this before, when Hot Guy sat with me.
Now, in all honesty, this guy was a bit scary-looking. His overgrown hair was everywhere, a la John the Baptist (who was, let’s face it, a little scary), and he wore a dishevled shirt and blazer. He sorta looked like a down-and-out pimp. A new-looking scabbed over wound had made friends with his chin. From several feet away, he bore the faint smell of alcohol – and it was only two in the afternoon. In his hand was a glass of blush wine, a sandwich, and a bag which seemed to contain every single newspaper available in Edinburgh.
So, of course I said he could sit down.
I turned my eyes back to my book and he prepares his sandwich, pulling it out of its plastic carton. First indication seemed to be this would be an uninterrupted co-share of the table. But this was not to be.
“What are you reading?” he asks. I looked up. “Sorry…to interrupt. But see, I read a lot, too. I’m a journalist.”
“Oh no it’s fine….” I say, even though, in a sense, it wasn’t. “It’s about….the arts, and how Christians can work in the arts.”
“Oh really. Huh. Religious, huh?”
“You know, I’m religious. Sort of. “
“Yeah, I mean….I believe in God. I was raised Catholic. I kinda….lost my faith for a while….”
At this point he starts rambling a little, starting off into the distance, absently fingering his glass of wine. I let him speak.
“See…” He paused here for so long I wasn’t sure if I should say something. “Two years ago, my wife left me….”
“I’m sorry to hear that”, I said, sincerely sorry to hear it. I wondered, thinking back to similar conversations with more-than-middle-aged men, if I had a face with prompted people to tell me their fresh and stale heartaches before they knew my name.
“But yeah….that’ll make you search again….you know…..”
“Yeah, I understand that well.”
“Plus, I mean….I don’t mean to freak you out or anything…but….” The man looks down at his untouched sandwich.
“I see people.”
I thought I knew what he was getting at, but I was unsure what to say. I mean, I see people too. Somehow, I didn’t think these were the people he meant.
“You see people.” I repeated.
“Yeah like, I’ll be talking to someone….I mean, really….I don’t mean to freak you out or anything, so I’m sorry but…”
“….I’ll be talking to someone and I’ll see, like…dead people….spirits….standing behind them.”
I should add at this point that this was the second person in a week to tell me – sincerely – that they see dead people.
“Yeah, I mean…I’ve had it all my life….since I was five. Used to really freak me out, man. Really freak me out. But then…I went to this college….here in Edinburgh….College of Parapsychology…they call it. And I can control it now, you know”.
“I’m sorry that’s something that has bothered you.”
“Oh, no. Doesn’t bother me anymore. Not anymore. But it used to. It used to….I talked to my priest about it, too, after I started going to mass again. And he seemed to understand you know. So it doesn’t’ bother me anymore.”
“So”, he finally takes a bite of his sandwich, “..what are you doing in Edinburgh? Study? You’re not Scottish.”
“No, I’m not. I’m here for uni, yeah.”
“Actually, through in Glasgow, at a place called International Christian College.”
“Ah, so you’re like….*really* religious.”
“I guess you could say so, yes”, I smiled.
“What are you studying?”
“Youthwork and theology, actually.”
“Theology, huh? I’ve studied theology. I really like it, you know. Really interesting, really interesting. So, what do you think about the pope? Heh.”
“I’m not sure, really….I’m not Catholic, but I think…”
“I think he could be good,” he interrupts. “Could be good.” By this time he’s fingering the scab on his chin, making it nearly impossible to finish my sandwich. If I’m being honest, part of me really did want to talk to this guy about Jesus. Part of me also wanted to read my book and ignore him.
Of such is a fallen woman.
I did try. We talked about God, a little about the Reformation, the Bible, and why Christianity is more than a vague belief in God. I’m not sure how much of it he heard, however. Maybe he didn’t really hear it til later that day, or the next. Maybe he won’t. I think he was more interested in telling me his story. Perhaps this is the best way to “minister” to people sometimes. And so I listened.
He told me about how his mother wanted him to pick up the News of the World – “Not my kind of reading”, he insists. He told me that in two days he was headed to Spain. He just needed to get away, to start over. His ex-wife and all. He’s a journalist, you know. All he really needs is his laptop. He indicates a Spanish-English dictionary kept in his suit pocket. He says he’s written for the Herald, for Time-Life. He’s a photographer, too – one story, he sold with photographs, for 3000 Pounds. He’ll write from Spain. He’ll miss his boy, though. Nine years old. He’ll sure miss his boy. He’ll be sure and call him though, write postcards.
All the while, he stares off into the distance a little, and then looks down. He tells me his story. He finished his glass of wine and says he needs to take the paper to his mother. He stands up.
“Well thanks. Thanks for the chat, it was real nice”, he said.
“No problem. I’m sorry but what’s your name?”
“Mike. My name is Mike.”
I put out my hand. “Nice to meet you Mike. My name is Michaela.”
“Thanks, Michaela. Good to meet you. And good luck with your studies, I hope exams and everything go well.”
“Thank you. And I hope Spain is lovely.”
“Should be, should be….hope so. Thanks again.”
And the booth was left to me.
Monday, May 02, 2005
Why Roger Clemens is Necessary to the Game of Baseball
1) After a week of Cameron saying “Didyagetityet?! Didyagetityet!?”, I did, finally, get it. And by “it”, I mean the package containing three – count ‘em, THREE – mix cds. And these aren’t just any mix cds. No sir. These are awesome. Included are songs from (among MANY others): Mae, Radiohead, Eisley, Sixpence, Brave Saint Saturn, Johnny Cash, Jon Brion, Portishead, Massive Attack, Chasing Furies, Pedro the Lion, Tom Waits, and Bjork. I like them a LOT.
(Which reminds me, I think I'm going to the Mewithoutyou/Coheed and Cambria/Mae show tommorrow night in Glasgow. Exciting, no?)
2) I stayed up til an ungodly hour last night watching Sunday Night Baseball, the Mets and the Nationals (which I still think is a RIDICULOUS team name). I casually mention that Clemens is a supreme and royal asshole to Rob online. He got way too excited (“Thank you!”), and said that everytime he says this, NO one agrees with him. This shocks me. I sincerely thought that *everyone* knew that about Clemens. Clemens being an ass is like….The Famous Chicken. overpriced hot dogs, massive cups of beer, and McGwire on steroids. It’s just all part of the game. It’s no secret, kids.
3) So about that busted ankle. I pulled some ligaments in it on Thursday night. It was pretty uneventful. Abe and I had gone out in Glasgow after classes, to the tea rooms to “study” (it’s hard to study when some Rufus Wainwright-wannabe and his annoying groupie girlfriend are making noise…it’s a really small place…) and then to meet up with some friends of his at the pub. At 11-something, I stand up from my seat at the pub after only one beer, because I was trying to make it to the bus in time to get back to Edinburgh that night. After a few steps, I realize my ankle is bothering me. It’s just annoying, but not really bad yet. Well about 10-minutes into my 20-min walk to the bus station, I was in agony. I finally get to the bus station and I’d well missed the friggin bus. I got a cab back to the pub, which had already rung for last call ANYWAY, so I couldn’t even get another drink. And then Abe makes me walk ALL the way back to college – further than the bus stop even. He wouldn’t LET me get a cab. Grrr. What a gentleman. I can’t really complain though, since he slept on the couch in the lounge and I got to sleep in his room (seeing as there was no getting back to Edinburgh that night). So anyway, that’s the story. I was just walking and it was hurting.
The real story, of course, involves maple syrup, a Slip-N-Slide, and Bengal Tiger and a Mini, but no one would believe that one, so why try?
4) I’m so so ready to go home. I know I’ve mentioned it but I’ll say it again. I’m so ready to go home. I’m ready for summer and flip flops and baseball games and sittin on the deck drinking beers with my mom and BBQ seafood nights and Buffalo Wild Wings and lazy afternoons on the boat and long drives between Kansas City and St Louis with the windows down. I’m ready to go. Last night, all I could think of was wanting to be at that baseball game. And I don’t even LIKE either of those teams.
That’s all for now. I did warn you guys that I’d be posting less this term though. And I still have a lot of work to catch up on. But soon, I hope to have exciting summer stories to tell.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
The Sunday Special.
"You know, I bet I've only seen one squirrel in the entire time I've lived here in Edinburgh."
"Yeah. Well I live in the city."
"Man...what do they EAT there!?"
"Hahaa....Wow, you really DID grow up in rural Missouri...."
"Yeah....I remember when squirrel was only for Sundays! Mom would make her Good Red Sqiurrel Gravy."
"Heh. I bet...."
"I remember, when I was a kid, on Sundays I used to get my shotgun...same shotgun I still have...and take a hike down where they used to hide out, in the hickory nut trees...I'd take a couple home, skin 'em up. Then, Mom would fry em up, throw in some milk and flour in that cast-iron frying pan, and we'd get Good Red Squirrel Gravy. Man that was good."
"Wow. You were actually serious."
"Of course I was. You haven't had squirrel?"