C'est La Vie
What a beautiful piece of heartache this has all turned out to be. Lord knows we've learned the hard way all about healthy apathy. And I use these words pretty loosely. There's so much more to life than words..
Things I love
Friday, May 31, 2002
I'm VERY excited about my trips and the camp. And I'm looking forward to babysitting, too, but it's not like I'm excited about it what with it being work in a way that leading the jr. highers or hanging out with friends and relatives in CA is certainly not.
I also found out last night, upon calling the mother in the missionary family from my church that's going to Kazahkstan in the fall for an indefinite period of time, that I don't meet the qualifications to be a teacher in the missionary school (which is for the English-speaking children of missionaries and ex-patriots and what, as opposed to a Christian school for Kazahk children) and so I won't be going. I do hope to go with one of the short-term teams at some point, but I'll be continuing my college education next year. I'm really somewhat relieved.. as excited as I was about the possability of going, I was also dreading leaving the jr. high group at this time and also having my first time stepping off mainland US soil be a year-long stint in a place where I only know 6 other people and very few others speak the same language.
So, I must off to prepare for CA.
God bless you all!
The jr. highers were playing floor hockey, as we usually do before and after Bible study on Thursday night, and since I was barefoot (as I usually am except that I've taken to wearing my boots or sneakers for Thursday nights so I can play with them) and also in a skirt, I decided it was in everyone's best interest for me not to play. But I did want to talk to Diane, the woman who's discipling me and also is a jr. high mom, and she was the goalie for one of the teams. So I sat up on the make-shift goal (it was something of a table or shelf, with three solid sides and the top) to chat with her. And at some point, as the team she was goaleying for slammed goal after goal on the other team, she mentioned to the group something about having the prettiest mascot while facing the "court" area and pointing over her shoulder, at me. As I tried to figure out how to respond to this, one of the boys looked blankley at her and said "What, the rug?"
Ah, I love how uplifting middle school boys are.
Wednesday, May 29, 2002
Tuesday, May 28, 2002
I had a really wonderful weekend, though. It's humid outside, which makes me glad that I decided to do the computer stuff today and horseback riding tomorrow instead of the other way around.
This week will be busy. Then on Sunday or Monday I leave for CA. And I'll be there 'till the Wednesday or Thursday a week and a half later, at which point I'll fly home just in time to go to jr. high camp with my youth group. I'll be the most beaten-up leader there 'till the following Monday, and then "relax" (which means run errands and catch up on all the business stuff for the past two weeks and next one) on Tuesday. On Wednesday I'll start my nearly-week-long babysitting job, watching the four children that I've babysat for a weekend before. Following that, I'll have a week to hopefully earn more money, and then I'll leave for Cornerstone Festival in Illinois. When I get back from that, I'll have another week or two of working as much as possible, and then leave to visit family and friends and the location of/in MA. When I return from that, if I indeed will be going to school in the fall semester, I'll have a few more weeks of working before that starts. And somewhere in all this I've gotta do CLEP tests, figure out whether I'll do school in the fall or go over to Kazahkstan with my church's church-planting-team to teach the children of the missionaries from my church so that they (the parents) can immerse themselves in language study.
This, my friends, is the kind of life I thrive on.
Meanwhile, this past weekend allowed for plenty of time to waterski and swim, as well as spend time with a bunch of people -- some I don't often see and some I see at jr. high and/or house church. Yesterday, I spent the entire day inside, not even changing out of my PJ's nor stepping out any doors-to-the-outside even once. I was feeling a little under-the-weather, which ended up being good enough because it kept me from going horseback riding or canoeing or anything, and what with the downpour that started in the early evening, it was great to be inside. I watched some movies, had quality time with my roommate (who had the day off) before she left for a shopping trip, and talked with some friends.
And now, I must off. But I'll try to blog more soon, as well as catch up on the blogs I read. If you read my blog and no or few others, I highly recommend you check out the blogs on the list to the left in my absences.
Thursday, May 23, 2002
I am very, very, very much looking forward to this weekend, and still very much looking forward to my trip to CA. :)
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
Three hotdogs and a balloon hat later, I said goodbye after a day of great conversation, beautiful singing and playing on the part of the yunguns, and even some cotton candy. (Cotton candy is one of my favorite things in the whole entire world.)
The following day, Sunday, I went to the park across the street from my church because the jr. high group I work with was going to be playing baseball at that very park. I was the first one from our group there (I'd brought my lunch with me, while most of the folks from the group went out or home to eat) and was greeted with the sight of giant inflatable games being blown-up on the park lawn, along with massive amounts of jr. high students from another church in matching shirts setting up chairs, a stage, cement blocks, and all manner of other outdoor entertainment. (The cement blocks were for the "feats of strength" that would take place during the performance time of their outdoor festivities that day.)
I've decided that if I find out about enough of these fairs, festivals, etc.. most of which offer free food, I wouldn't have to buy myself any food for the rest of the summer so long as I'm content to live off hotdogs and hamburgers.
I also played softball barefoot, because I thought my sneakers were in my car (where I normally leave them), but they were at home. So I ran over the clay, rocks, shells, grass, and baseball equipment without doing any damage to the bottom of my toes. And every single time I went to bat, I was the third out for my team. Just once, I tell you.. just once, I wanted to be the person that didn't end my team's turn at bat.
When I was four years old, my godmother gave my twin brother and me dolls with semi-hard-plastic heads, stuffed-cloth bodies, and yarn hair. As a four year old, the fact that it was a very cute doll and the attachment that went along with anything given to me by my godmother were plenty enough to make it a precious treasure in my mind. I named my doll Linda immediately, and I took off her knit coat so she wouldn't be too hot. At that time, one of the children from my class (in the sometimes cruel nature of children) came over, took one look at Linda, and started teasing me for having such an "ugly" doll. Linda, I learned, was not a Cabbage Patch doll, and therefore wasn't worthy of love and affection. Indeed, according to this classmate and others that came over in the following moments, Linda was only worthy of being thrown away. The fact that my godmother, whom I loved dearly, had given her to me didn't even make a difference. All that mattered was that Linda was not "the real thing".
To this day, I still have Linda proudly sitting among the rest of my stuffed animals and other sentimental trinkets. She is a constant reminder to me of Godmamma Lillian and all the love she poured out on me during the years our lives overlapped. However, Linda is also occasionally a reminder of the determination of humankind that there is a real thing and there are imitations.
We see this not only in brand-name products, but also in expectations of other people. When I was in middle school, skate-boarding was becoming very popular. Because of the influence of my older brother (who was a skater himself), I was accepted in the skate-boarding crowd despite the fact that I never skated. I carried myself well, and I wore the right (albeit hand-me-down) clothing, unintentionally. There were others, though, dubbed nothing but "posers" by the skating crowd. These were the children who wore brand-name clothing imitating the grunge styles popularized by skaters; the ones that carried around brand-name skate-boards that would never have worked in any actual skating area.
There have been other occasions in which brand-names were the outcast causing products, but even among the fringe groups, there are certain brands that are more respected than others. Part of it comes from our desire to belong, and especially to belong to an exclusive group. Another part of it comes from our desire to express ourselves as individuals without moving too far outside our comfort zones and familiarity.
Brand-names, and their higher costs than generic products, offer us a sense of security. When we purchase brand-name products, sometimes with valid reasons and sometimes simply because they cost more, we feel that we are better than those that purchase the generic equivilants. We seem, if only while buying and using/consuming that product, to be special. We can convince ourselves that we have achieved something in life, if it is simply the right to not be mocked for being or having an imitation.
At some point, we may move on from dolls and food to cars and even locations. To drive the newest car of the same brand we've been passionate about since we were ten, or to live down the street from a movie star, seems like the end-all-be-all of brand-name achievement. Yet that isn't enough, either. Having gotten that newest car, we must keep it the newest. Having moved to the same street as the famous actor, we must make sure every item in our house, every accesory that completes our outfit, and every activity that our children are involved in matches up to the expectations of the status quo.
However, there are those lucky few that escape the brand-name trap. For example, I buy most of my clothing at thrift-stores, and not because that's sometimes the cool place to shop. I get clothes that are comfortable, I get food that tastes good and fills my nutritional needs, and I make decisions based on practicality and cost-effectiveness rather than on meeting expectations of a society that isn't ever quite sure what it should think. I'm using the same backpack now that I got mid-year in sixth-grade, driving a car I bought for less than $500 (and yet in excellent condition), and participating in activities that I enjoy simply because I enjoy them. I do consider myself particularly fortunate in that I somehow gained enough confidence to carry myself well nomatter in what circumstances I find myself or who might critisize my practicality. Granted, there are times when brand-name products really are better than generic equivilants. It takes discernment to decide when we are just going with the status quo and when we are making choices based on legitimate reasons.
Brand-names and the expectations found in our society only actually matter when we feed into that idea. For those that need the security of popular clothing and more expensive food, simply because it is popular or more effective, it is a good thing that such products are available. However, it would be a better thing if everyone in our society were able to discern quality, understand the product market, and have a healthy self-esteem that is not based on wearing the real thing.
After all, being the real thing can only be achieved by actually *being* the real thing, with all that you are. It cannot be forced or faked by any amount of brand-name purchases or name-dropping connections. Being ourselves, in reality, is the only thing that can possibly define "the real thing".
Monday, May 20, 2002
However, my trip to CA has been delayed, so I'll be blogging for the next two weeks.. (I've already even got some entries on my disk at home) .. but after that, I might well not be blogging much for the two weeks following. OR something around that time-frame.
So with that, I'm off to go finish delaying all the trip plans and stuff. Really, things are much better this way.
Thursday, May 16, 2002
Brian was different, though. Not only was he a non-Christian, but he was also into some fairly bad habits and he had completely different morals than I did/do. With all that in mind constantly, though, and even though I would never have dated him for those reasons, I just could not stop liking him.
So I thought back then, and have been thinking again recently, about why this was so. And the most basic answer is that Brian made me feel special. He was a very nice, genuine, caring person, and every single person he interacted with felt like they were just the most interesting person in the world. Sure, he had just about every other quality that makes us attracted to people, but he could've been handsome, funny, smart, etc and I wouldn't have liked him at all if he hadn't also been so very caring.
I have this other friend named Thor. Thor is one of the best, and most brother-like, friends that I've had in a long time. I met him pretty soon after moving up here, and I've known him through some pretty interesting situations in each of our lives. I've never been romantically attracted to Thor. However, Thor is another one of those guys that can make you feel incredibly special. Thor (who is now married to one of my other closest friends, Angela .. I met her through him) tells all the people in his life that they look good, that he appriciates them, that they're unique and uniquely neat. When Thor and I are both going to or at the same event, one of the first things he usually says is, "you look really nice".. but despite the regularity of that statement, it never seems any less genuine. Thor has this incredible child-like ability to be completely sincere with everyone, and to express things in such a way that you never doubt his honesty. He doesn't tell people that they look good because that's what he's supposed to say. He tells them they look good because that's how he sees them, that's what he really believes.
I'm not sure why Thor and Brian could say the same things and come off differently.. both making me feel special, but one making me very romantically interested.. my assumption is that it's because Brian (remember, different morals) was thinking things different than what Thor was thinking. Being human, I do have hormones, and they respond to the hormones of other people, whether or not I want them to. So that's why I think my responses were different to these two guys.
Meanwhile, I also see a very deep need for more friends like Thor in this world.
I think there's a great amount of discomfort, and maybe even fear, in telling someone that you're not either biologically or romantically attached to that they look good or that you love them.
If every single female in this world had guy friends that told them how beautiful they are and how much they're loved, there would be a lot less teenage pregnencies, abusive relationships, and everything else. I don't know if guys need the same kind of affirmation from girls. Perhaps they do, and for that reason, I do try to express to them the same kind of platonic love and appriciation that Thor expresses to me.
(Disclaimer for the rest of this blog: there will be generalizations, and there will be some very blunt statements that may be uncomfortable.)
One more thought about the difference between Thor and Brian and all potential Thors and Brians. We don't need more Brians in this world. He made me feel intensely special, but he also could very well have caused me to compromise on my morals had I not already been through some interesting times before ever moving up here.
So I was thinking last night, in light of all that, about why there are so many nonChristian guys that can make girls feel beautiful (and, sadly, lure Christian girls into compromising relationships.. I am NOT blaming the guy here, because he doesn't know any better.. but this does happen sometimes, and it is sad) and yet so very few Christian guys that actually do make girls feel attractive in an integritous and genuine way.
See, if a non-Christian guy makes me feel attractive, it's likely to be because he sees me as media-attractive.. and likely to be because (whether or not I'm more appealing than other options) he thinks that there could be some physical reward for his efforts. On that note, I think non-Christian guys are more willing to put themselves out on a limb because their potential immediate rewards are much greater and more appealing than the risk. Even if a guy is shot down, he can move right on and continue his work and get a speedy payoff.
But for Christian guys, the rewards are long-range and often imperceptible. Since what they're trying to accomplish (and I suppose guys with higher morals are included here, too) is the good of the girl, and perhaps also marraige in some distant day, the goals are further off and harder to judge. Progress, too, is harder to measure, what with not being able to see into the hearts of human and all. So when a Christian guy is romantically attracted to a girl, he's less likely to say so for a really long time. And when he does, it's often subtle and said in such a way that it can be misread easily. And when he's not romantically interested in a girl, he's not likely to say anything at all. Sometimes for fear of misleading her (which is a very legitimate fear), and sometimes because it's too uncomfortable. One way or another, we are called to treat eachother like brothers and sisters, and one of the best aspects of my relationship with my biological brothers (nonChristians though they may be) is that they tell me (or tell their friends when I'm in the room) that I'm attractive. When I'm around my brothers, I don't have to seek physical love to feel attractive. They make sure I know it with what's best for me as their motive.
So Christian guys, please think about the girls in your life .. if you're a father, make sure your daughter(s) know they're gorgeous and loved. If your mother, or any mother-figures in your life, are still alive .. please make sure they know they're appriciated. Perhaps most of all, though, if you're in the middle-school through late-thirties age group, please make sure that all the females you know (especially the single ones or ones that aren't in very uplifting relationships) know that you and God both see them as incredibly beautiful and incredibly loved. This is a hard thing to do without bordering on non-platonic appriciation, but somehow, Thor pulls it off. I dunno what his secret is, but I sincerely believe that this world needs more guys like Thor.
(Flowers are a great thing, btw. Postcards when you travel, to let her know you're thinking of her just because she's her.. I dunno. Again, thin line between platonic and romantic appriciation, but I really think that's only because there's so little platonic interaction in this world. Let's change that.)
Monday, May 13, 2002
In the group, there were two little boys, about 4 or 5 years old. I'm not sure whether one was older enough to be seen as much older by the younger, or whether the first was just more dynamic or leaderey.
At some point during the evening, though, while I was sitting on the grass with the baby, the one boy was explaining to the other:
"Here, this is what you need to do to be my buddy."
With that, he ran at the little kiddy slide from the front, took two steps up the slide, and then jumped from the top of the ladder down to the ground. Being a bit too fascinated with the fraternal initiation nature of this stunt, I didn't think about whether or not they should be doing it. Really, I err on the side of danger when it comes to allowing small children to jump from a kiddy slide, I guess. Don't tell the parents I babysit for, though. ;)
In the midst of these goings-on, there were also three dogs there that evening. One was a boy, one was a girl, and one was a puppy. Dogs and chilluns are a great mix so long as none are afraid of eachother, but a boy dog and a girl dog in front of chilluns is not always a good thing. So I explained to the chilluns that they were "wrestling", and that I had to yell at the boy dog more than the girl dog because he was "trying to tackle her". It's so not my place to answer bluntly and honestly when little ones ask me what dogs, horses, gerbils, or any other beast of earth is doing. So I explained to the parents what had happened and what I had said, so that they could be aware of any formative changes that happened in the children during this time.
Pretty eventful weekend, between the things I have blogged about and the other time I got to spend with friends and all.
In about a week, I'll be leaving to visit CA for ten days or so. It'll be so very good to see my twin brother (Peter) and to visit with some other friends out that way.
It was a great trip. Less boring graduation than I've heard many are; really kinda fascinating overall. First graduation I've been to since my eighth grade graduation many years ago.
So we went to the graduation and we were coming back to our friend's house, with her neighbor in the car. And as we turn down her street, we suddenly see a bunch of lights and such from emergency response vehicles.. two fire trucks, an ambulance, and several police cars.
Right in front of her house.
We park a few houses down and start walking over to the neighbors that were out on their lawn watching the scene, and ask them what had happened.
"This teenage girl was driving drunk, and she swerved all over this street, hit a car down there, hit this white truck here, and then skidded up the lawn and right into those people's car, which sent the car flying into the corner of their garage and the neighbor's lawn, and so now that part of the garage is all broken. Fortunately, no one else was outside or in the garage or car when this happened. We don't know if the girl is ok, but no one else was hurt in the slightest."
It was amazing, watching the fire trucks and ambulance and a couple of the police cars eventually drive slowly away. Really, that was a rather significant number of response vehicles for such a relatively minor accident, but it made everything very eerie. And to see the destruction done to that house and the cars and such.. the trashcan was flattened, the bushes were destroyed.. she must've been going mighty fast..
I have always wondered why people ever think drunk driving is ok or tolerable. And why punishments are less for people that choose to drink and then choose to drive and end up causing damage than they are for people that have what truly are accidents. But seeing all of this firsthand, within half an hour of it happening, brought my wonder to a new level.
Thursday, May 09, 2002
As a child, though, I once found a very interesting leaf. I was behind the Gardenia bushes that bordered our pool deck (hey, we lived in south-eastern FL.. EVERYONE had pools), and somehow came across this odd shape. It was a leaf, to be sure, but it wasn't growing in like one. Instead, it was shaped more like a funnel, seamless and conical.
I spent a lot of time looking at that leaf, wondering how it had grown like that. Eventually, some other childhood idea distracted me, and I left the little leaf exactly where I'd found it on the Gardenia bush. When I went back sometime later that week to find it again, I never could. But I still remember it; still remember my tiny hands (I was always small for my age) trying to unlock its mystery.
As I continue to come up empty on my search for a four-leafed clover, I find myself often remembering that Gardenia leaf, and thinking it was a much rarer thing I found that day, anyway.
Wednesday, May 08, 2002
Today I came to campus to check my email and all that fun stuff, and when I got here it was weird seeing no one here. It reminded me of last summer, when I was filling out all the application and financial aid paperwork and visiting campus at least two times a week to see what else needed to be done, except that there are even fewer people here now than there were at the end of last summer or will be later on in this one. There were maybe a total of 10 cars in all the student lots combined. Very, very weird.
So, in the process of checking my email, I came to the computer lab. And I stayed here for three hours. And then I realized that my blood sugar had dropped significantly an that I was getting dizzy and really needed to eat something before it became a problem. I could feel the distinct feeling where my neck meets my skull, the way it starts huring right there when my bloog sugar gets too low.
It's so good that there are vending machines here and that they're not shut down over the summer. If I'd've known I'd end up being here this long, I'd've packed a lunch as I normally do. So much for a quick trip.
But I'm all better now. Instead of that feeling where my neck meets my skull, I've got the feeling of energy and life rushing through my blood. Neither feeling is anything less than unpleasant, but it's good to know that food really does work.
Monday, May 06, 2002
In fact, it wasn't untill I was about 15 that I could even tolerate the taste of olives. Even then, I didn't like them.
Over the past year or two, though, I've started to actually enjoy them.
Today, I went to get an oil change and small repair done on my car. Since there was a sale going and I thus saved money, and since I so rarely eat out at all that it's a huge treat for me when I do, I decided to go ahead and reward myself for completing my first full year of college by going to Subway for lunch. Or, rather, ordering at Subway and sitting on the trunk of my car to eat.
As a chillun, I ordered very habitually at Subway .. with exception of certain subs that are better with less fixins, I would always say "everything except onions, peppers, or olives."
Today, I said "Everything except onions and peppers."
It was a very good sub, olives and all.
When I was a child in Massachusettes, I remember the rumor being that if it reflected yellow, you were in love. I guess we got bored of the butter story.
It had been a while since I'd seen buttercups, but when I first went out to ride Cinnamon, there were fields full of them throughout the property. Yellow expanses stretched across the lawns and meadows, intermingled with wheat-stocks, purple clover, and other interesting weeds and grasses. Seeing these brilliant green, yellow, and brown waves over the land, especially the buttercups, brought on some wonderful warm and peaceful feelings. Somehow, that early association of buttercups and being in love made for something of a euphoric high at the very sight. There is a certain friendliness, too, in yellow flowers, that lightens one's heart all by itself. Love, though, is even better than friendliness. I mean, a smile from a new friend can make you happy for a while, but a phone call from someone you care about dearly, or a letter from a loved one, can ignite feelings all the friendliness in the world couldn't reach without the promotion from friendliness to love.
(Tangent: I don't think that I have the same relationship between the words friend and friendly as I do between love and lovely. Friend and friendly are very similar words, in my mind, while love and lovely are really quite different. I wonder if that should tell me something about how I view love or loveliness. Hmm.)
Today, after myself, my friend Peggy, and the two girls in the family that owns Cinnamon had ridden him a great deal, the girls and I went to put him in the pasture. After turning him out, we sat in the fields about 20 feet away and pulled up buttercups and other pretty weeds. I gathered a handful into a somewhat-arranged bouquet, and then the girls and I made chains, wreaths, and other jewelry with God's beautiful bounty. Heather, the younger of the two, wove her buttercup chain and some extras into the french braid I'd done in my hair for riding. (Quite stunning, in my earthy opinion. If I would have gotten married, I would likely have wanted to do an outdoor wedding in a great bigfat field of wildflowers, with flowers woven into my hair in a very similar manner.) Lauren decided she'd rather pick flowers and pet the dogs than make a chain herself, but the three of us had wonderful conversations. I made a wreath for each of the girls in their own style. Overall, it was a glorious day sitting outside in the mid-70s, partly-cloudy afternoon. I almost laid down right there in the field to pick out shapes in the cloud, but it was a bit too sunny yet for that.
So the three of us went inside and made tapioca pudding, and then I came home, cooked the other half of my acorn squash, and watched the copy of Charlotte's Web that I borrowed from another family. How many years has it been since I've seen Charlotte's Web? The last time I remember seeing it was in sixth grade. That's quite a while ago. Great movie, for the most part.
I was amused, though, at how the songs Fran sings for Wilbur and Charlotte sings for Wilbur are both songs that could actually be sung at a wedding. And then there's the "Chin Up" song, which has the basic message of "hide your feelings unless you're happy, and if you're not happy, make everyone think you are." Really. I listened to a bunch of the words before my cynical side woke up, and that's exactly what it was saying. Furthermore, one (if that one is me, anyway) really must wonder at how friendship is defined by Charlotte. She considers Wilbur a true friend, but it seems to me that all he does is worry about how he's going to be made into ham and bacon in the fall, and ask her to save him. He doesn't actually *listen* to her, from what we can see --
Ok, yes, I'm analyzing a children's move, and that's always a very silley thing to do. But really, there are those classics (like Mary Poppins) and those movies that somehow became classics for some unknown reason. Charlotte's Web is a great book, mind you, but I've come to appriciate (if it did take me far too long) just how much this movie is lacking. Don't get me wrong, I do still enjoy it, and I'm even hatching a scheme to get my current jr. high group to watch it (since many of them have never seen it at all!). But if I were showing this to my own children, I'd make sure to talk to them about some true reasons to "keep your chin up", rather than just not wanting to let others know you're sad. And about being able to talk about things when they ARE sad. Well, that's all a moot point anyway, I reckon.
All in all, one of the best days I could've possibly had. I spend far too many beautiful days sitting indoors. I really do miss the roof of my old house, where I could crawl out the kitchen window and sit on the roof staring at the oak tree and all the activities happening within it, reading books, looking at clouds, talking with friends, basking in moonlight. There's just nothing like having a roof to sit on. I sure spent a great deal of time outside those two summers. This summer, though, there's so much more fun to be had, between riding horses, waterskiing, music festivals, jr. high camp and event days, and taking various chilluns to swimming pools. There's also hiking and other nature-enjoyment-activities, and there're those lazy summer afternoons making flower jewelry with young and still-not-cynical children that refresh my own more trusting and innocent side.
Oh, how glad I am that I moved to Virginia. How very, very glad.
Friday, May 03, 2002
Much-needed being the understatement here.
I couldn't tell from watching him from outside his pasture how big he was. I didn't even realize standing next to him. But when I went to put his halter on, it barely fit after a great deal of adjusting and such. And then came the sadle and the bridle -- both on the last holes, both barely even fit that way.
And then there was getting on the poor horse. Goodness, but wasn't he a big boy.
So I rode him around the field. He was ready to run, which is what any good former-police-horse would wanna do, right? But he was too big. I couldn't hold on to him (especially since I was using an English saddle) because my legs barely even fit around the massive barrel that is his belly.
We walked around a bunch and went through all the fun power struggles that make me love riding. Finally, I got comfortable enough with him that I decided we could handle a very, very, very slow trot through the field. I held onto his mane with my right hand, the reigns with my left, kept my feet low in the stirrups (which my boots were a little too wide for), and attempted to remember how to post a little. Normally at a trot this slow, posting wouldn't be necessary. However, with a horse this big, even a very slow trot can seem mighty fast.
Today, if possible, I might go ride him again. I'm a glutton for punishment. Throughout the summer, I'll be riding him a decent amount, as well as taking the kids out for poney-ride-style walks. My goal two weeks ago was to get in shape by the end of the summer. (Seriously. I have no concerns with my physical appearance weight-wise, but it is distrubing that I can't even jog from this family's dog-house to the basement, nor can I go up and down steps at a moderate pace, without being winded.) My goal now is to get both Cinnamon and myself in shape by the end of the summer.
The inside of my shins are already quite bruised from trying to stay up yesterday. Here's hoping his weight comes off sooner than it'll take me to get in shape.
Wednesday, May 01, 2002
"Happy May Day, everyone. Dance around a may pole, be free, be childlike. Leave the worries of this world somewhere else."
(I also mentioned in that entry that today -- last year and this year, of course -- would have been my parent's anniversary. *shrug*)
That night, you lay there with her, thinking you could stay there forever
And as the lava poured down upon your town and it cut off your air to breathe
you thought, "I don't need air anyway, I've got her next to me"
Pompeii, Pompeii, all the lives you claimed
In your burning river and falling ashes
Why didn't they all run away?
Buried, instead, in their homes in Pompeii
Living inside the walls of Pompeii, you looked at creation and said
"I will cut down this tall tree, burn half and carve an idol"
So you gave him shape and placed him there upon a make-shift alter
Bowed down to worship and never got up, your idol didn't save you
-- me, two nights ago
(It's not *really* about Pompeii and the fatal volcanic eruption, of course.)
Generalizations we see as positive (such as the last I just listed, or the idea most caucasian Americans hold that all Asians are hard-working geniuses) are pretty nearly as harmful to life in general as those we know are negative. The idea that all Asians are hard-working geniuses, for example, puts a great deal of pressure on Asian students to get straight A's and to be superior to non-Asians in every work-or-mental-related area. The idea that if a man is wearing a suit he must be nice, educated, and able to help people is exactly why car and vacuum salesmen and con-men of all backgrounds are so easily able to take advantage of less-well-dressed citizens. The idea that if you have a great smile you must be a great person has brought ruin to many. (Not to mention that I don't often dress sophisticatedly, nor do I have a great smile, but I am educated and I tend to be, at least on the outside, what many people would classify as decent.)
Generalizations we know are negative (all people that fit into class A must be bad in way 2) have their own issues, which have been the target of media attention over the past 20 or 30 years. Of course, most ideas implemented to combat the effects of long-held generalizations -- such efforts as Affirmative Action and positive stereotyping -- are simply a reversal-role of the same game, rather than actually changing our society and conditioning us not to care about uncontrollable or external factors. We have learned that, when there are two applicants for a job, it is more acceptable to employ the less-experienced one if he happens to be black (or the black man if he happens to be more experienced) than to seek the absolute best applicant regardless of color. We have been taught that convictions of right-and-wrong are intolerant and therefore need to be ousted. Where will the lines be drawn? So far, fortunately, our society does tend to favor some definitions of wrong -- child molestation, rape, and murder for example. The lines are continually being blurred, however, and it is dangerous where that is going.
Meanwhile, I didn't start writing this entry to examine society's generalizations. I started writing to examine my own. There are many that I likely hold that I will not realize or understand until placed in a situation very different from those I have experienced. Having gone to primarily black schools from 6-9th grade, though, and having even been the victim of racism at each of those schools, I can honestly say that whether I'm in the majority or the minority as far as skin color statistics go, I have very few racist concepts embedded deep in my psyche. When I was a waitress at Applebee's, though, it became somewhat harder to keep it that way, as I would often overhear my tables with black customers explaining to each other that they didn't need to tip me as much because I was white. It is a constant struggle to remain unbiased while the recipient of racism, and that goes in all directions. I know many black people that have experienced terrifying amounts of racist action, and I know a number of Japanese people that are still being out-casted because of the atrocities at Pearl Harbor. Right now, there are a great number of Arabs in the United States that are being treated as sub-human due to the choices of other people that happened to be Arabs. Fortunately, I was raised in a very multi-cultural area by parents very appreciative of other cultures and willing to do what it took to make sure their children did not grow up with the same gross biases all too common in any society.
All the same, I did gather some biased concepts on my own. One of the generalizations I made too often that offended my roommate was the idea that most wealthy people are not concerned enough with others, and are too materialistic. To be quite honest, this is one I still struggle with and am not making a great deal of progress in removing from my thoughts. It doesn't come up as often anymore, but I certainly don't give enough credit to the fact that a great number -- perhaps even the majority -- of people I would define as wealthy are very generous people doing their best to better our society.
Along with holding some of my own prejudices, I also have not been willing enough to confront others about theirs. When my mother kicked me out when I was 17, my older brother and his then-girlfriend (now wife and mother of my beautiful niece) took me in. At that time, they smoked inside the house and were, as far as appearance goes, exactly the kind of people pushing the comfort zones of most Americans, especially those over 30. They went to clubs, they wore black (including leather), and their hair-styles were certainly not about to make the cover of Time or People in any positive way. Some of the things they did were even outside of my own comfort zone, to be honest. (They know this. But they also know that I loved them and accepted them all the same.)
Despite how odd they looked and acted according to the status quo, they were the ones that cared for me for three very long months before (and even just after) I turned 18 and moved up here. They and their even-edgier friends were the ones that supported me, took me in, made sure I had food and a social life. These ones out-casted by the mainstream American church were the ones doing what the church should have been doing but wasn't. They were the ones that allowed God to work through them (though they wouldn't likely admit God's part in it) to provide for me during that time, and many times both before and after.
On Good Friday, I went to a concert here with 5 bands. At the concert, I was sitting with the mother of a friend of mine and her co-worker. At the table in front of us, my friend was sitting with a girl that was wearing almost all black, had fairly pale skin, and looked in general very much like my brother's wife has at some points. Before Matthew sat down with her, I leaned over to mention, casually, that I knew he was about to sit down next to her, which just happened to mean he'd accidentally steal the seat of another gothically-dressed young man. I just know Matt and knew that he'd sit there, and it was the predictability that interested me. But his mother and her co-worker began talking about how she was dressed and how his mother hoped that this girl was not a romantic interest of Matt. I so wanted to ask them why they thought this way, why they were judging her based on how she looked (I myself have received plenty of criticism for various wardrobe choices throughout my life, and as I mentioned, those that helped me the most were the very same people that are out-casted because of how they look), and why she would be so horrified if Matt *was* attracted to this girl. I, myself, hadn't had a conversation with her, but I did watch Matt and others talking to her earlier (I'm a people watcher) and she seemed perfectly nice and well-educated to me. Yet, her appearance would make her a bad romantic choice? And when her gothically-dressed friend came back to the table (having to pull up another chair since Matt stole his), the comments got more colorful, and louder. I was ashamed to be sitting at the table, and I very much wanted to explain to them how narrow-minded and unChristian their statements were. Yet I remained silent. I just fumed inside and let them go on talking.
This from the same girl that has plenty to say about almost any subject known to mankind, who talks so much that strangers can learn her life story the first time they ride with her in a car. Silence. Deafening silence, at that. Just sitting there, doing nothing at all.
I often quote the GIJoe line, "Knowing is half the battle." When I ask what the other half is (it's a great conversation starter/refresher), the usual answer is "acting". (My personal answer is carcasm, but that's another already-told story.) I do believe the other half is taking action, and that day I knew perfectly well what I should have done and I didn't take action. And every day I know perfectly well that my prejudices (while said, in my communications textbook, to be a necessary preventive effort against insanity -- because we must classify people into groups since our brain doesn't have the ability to remember them all individually and remember all their individual characteristics and everything .. which makes me wonder if the 90% of brain power we're told goes unused might have a purpose we're not willing to explore) are harmful to myself and my relationships with others, and yet I have not taken enough action to be ride of them.
"Hallelujah, praise the Lord, He's so patient with us all." -- Andrew Peterson, Mohawks on the Scaffolding.
Hippie: (after hearing Max wants to avoid the draft)You still have options man.
"So how do i do normal
"It's been known for a train to jump its track. It's ok, so you'll know, most times they come back. It's ok to lose your life, when you finally see your birth. It's ok to say, "I love you," and figure sometimes it's gonna hurt.
"As a comedian, you have to start the show strong and you have end the show strong. Those are the two key elements. You can't be like pancakes, all exciting at first, but then by the end you're sick of 'em!"
"Hey, this is weird! I ordered one frozen yogurt and they gave me two. You don't happen to like frozen yogurt, do you?" "I love it!" "You're kidding! What a crazy random happenstance!"
"Only one more trip," said a gallant seaman,
"It was Flannery O'Connor who said that 'grace must wound before it heals.' Her words help me to separate what is most true about life from the things we want to be true. We want life to be painless. True grace is a hard sell because in order for the human heart to understand forgiveness and love, it must first experience darkness and isolation. A life lived under the rule of grace is a life of need which allows us to receive an appreciate the gift of the giver of grace. This is why we will always have the poor with us; this is why God will not allow us to ignore injustice; this is why we are called to a life we cannot handle alone, which can and will break us in the effort to live it -- because grace must wound before it heals."
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
I thought Christmas Day would never come. But it's here at last, so Mom and Dad, the waiting's finally done. And you gotta get up, you gotta get up, you gotta get up, it's Christmas morning.
O little town of Bethlehem,
Walk humbly, son
Strings of lights above the bed
"In a little while I'll feel better
"Please tell me once again that You love me. That You love me. Please tell me once again that I matter to You and You really care. Please tell me once again that You're with me, forever. It's not that I could ever doubt you, I just love the way it sounds. I just love the way it sounds."
"Every once in a while, a bannerzen posts."
"7:30. What kind of people have to be at work at 7:30?"
have you seen my love
Traveling is significant because it takes so much effort. Either you're going to some place you love, or you're leaving some place you love. Usually it's both.
I think I have Bond's ability to get into trouble but not his ability to get out of it. Someday I'll be in some foreign country with 5 thugs with automatic rifles pointed at me, and I'll just.... fart
"You had no alternative .. We must work in the world. The world is thus." --- "No .. Thus have we made the world."
The summer ends and we wonder where we are And there you go, my friends, with your boxes in your car And you both look so young And last night was hard, you said You packed up every room And then you cried and went to bed But today you closed the door and said "We have to get a move on. It's just that time of year when we push ourselves ahead, We push ourselves ahead."
Looking out the bedroom at this snowy TV.. ever since commencement, no one's asking 'bout me. But I bet before the night falls, I could catch the late bus.. take small provisions and this Beethoven bust. I could find work in the outskirts of the city, eat some fish on the way.. befriend an old dog for a roadside pal, find a nice couch to stay -- a pull-out sofa, if you please!"
Ooh! Get me away from here I'm dying
"The trouble with folks like Brownie is they hold their life in like a bakebean fart at a Baptist cookout and only let it slip out sideways a little at a time when they think there's nobody noticing. Now that's the last thing on earth the Almighty intended. He intended all the life a man's got inside him, he should live it out just as free and strong and natural as a bird."
"Life is a phantasmagoria .. It is a pell-mell of confused and tumultuous scenes. We try in vain to find a purpose - to bring an order, a unity to life. I suppose that is the appeal of art. Art is the blending of the real and the unreal, the conquering of nature. It is real enough for it to reflect life, but has the unity that life lacks."
"in time memories fade.
I've always had this feeling about Patty that she's complex and intriguing...I like Patty alot. She's got a good heart and tells terrible squirrel jokes.
"Try to remember that world-weariness isn't necessarily a bad thing. In the book of Mark, I think its Mark, Jesus looks at a blind man and sighs. Jesus sighed before even telling the man he would be healed. He sighed, and I'm not sure that there's a much more human expression of frustration than this. Faced with the horrid picture of a cursed earth and looking into the white eyes of a man blind from the day he was born, He sighed. The Creator of the universe in human form was sad "of the evils of this world," the world He created. Your Creator sighed for you in the same way before He healed you and made you His."
After the last secret's told
After the last bullet tears through flesh and bone
After the last child starves
And the last girl walks the boulevard
After the last year that's just too hard
There is love
-- Andrew Peterson, After the Last Tear Falls
"when you most need people, you don't need perfection - just to know someone gives a damn"
"My brother's always [telling me], 'You should be more mysterious--boys like that.' But I'm not good at that. It would just make me more uncomfortable."
"Loners want to kill you, but not for any particular reason, and they'd probably like you if they weren't being guided by the violent voices in their head."
"No one wants to oil a snake these days!"
Her mom: "We're all safe."
-- Jamie Bevill and her mother during Christmas-Decorating dinner, December 20, 2002
i'd throw out all my shoes
i'd set up cans for friends
to dump their shoes senseless shoes
a pioneer of callouses
lordy-be and bless my soul
i'd be a barefoot spaceman
the first you'd ever know"
"The best way to have God's will for your life is to have no will of your own!"
"Generations circle and each one atones. The sins of the father are seperate from my own. In Pilgrim's Progress, it's forgiveness that makes whole, and as time levels and consoles, I place the daisies in your bowl."
"For a moment he just stared at her. Then, with an urf-urf-urf of laughter, he turned back to the controls."
"It's on the internet.. so, then, it must be true."
"Be at least as interested in what people can become as you are in what they have been."
Blessed be the rock stars!"
Get up for the shower.. wash and scrub and scour every part as if a cleaner man could better bear the shame..
"She was eating gnarly amounts of calcium."
Homeless man to girl trying to give him money: "No, thanks, ma'am. I never work on Sundays."
"Wow! I never thought I'd need a radar-guided spatula!"
"Isn't it great that I articulate? Isn't it grand that you can understand? ... I can talk, I can talk, I can talk!"
I believe that people laugh at coincidence as a way of relegating it to the realm of the absurd and of therefore not having to take seriously the possibility that there is a lot more going on in our lives than we either know or care to know... I suspect that part of it, anyway, is that every once and so often we hear a whisper from the wings that goes something like this: "You've turned up in the right place at the right time. You're doing fine. Don't ever think that you've been forgotten.
When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of "No answer." It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, "Peace, child; you don't understand."
CCM: You've spoken a lot more about crying than I ever thought you would.
"Youth is not a period of time. It is a state of mind, a result of the will, a quality of the imagination, a victory of courage over timidity, of the taste for adventure over the love of comfort. A man doesn't grow old because he has lived a certain number of years. A man grows old when he deserts his ideal. The years may wrinkle his skin, but deserting his ideal wrinkles his soul. Preoccuptaions, fears, doubts, and despair are the enemies which slowly bow us toward earth and turn us into dust before death. You will remain young as long as you are open to what is beautiful, good, and great; receptive to the messages of other men and women, of nature and of God. If one day you should become bitter, pessimistic, and gnawed by despair, may God have mercy on your old man's soul."
""Don't go matchmaking for me, Ilse," said Emily wit a faint smile... "I feel in my bones that I shall achieve old-maidenhood, which is an entirely different thing from having old-maidenhood thrust upon you."
"I wish Aunt Elizabeth would let me go to Shrewsbury, but I fear she never will. She feels she can't trust me out of her sight because my mother eloped. But she need not be afraid I will ever elope. I have made up my mind that I will never marry. I shall be wedded to my art"
"Tomorrow seems like a long ways away. But it will come, just like any other day... Deep inside, where the wounded creatures hide, I am afraid. Maybe I got lost somewhere along the way somehow. Please rescue me... Yea, though I walk through the valley of the dark shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me... Though I fear, though I am afraid, You are with me. Though I'm angry, tired, broken down and confused, You are with me. Though I sin like I've never sinned before, lose myself right out an open door, You are with me."
"The invisible people agreed about everything. Indeed most of their remarks were the sort it would not be easy to disagree with: "What I always say is, when a chap's hungry, he likes some victuals," or "Getting dark now; always does at night," or even "Ah, you've come over the water. Powerful wet stuff, ain't it?"" -- C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
"When People object... that if Jesus was God as well as Man, then He had an unfair advantage which deprives Him for them of all value, it seems to me as if a man struggling in the water should refuse a rope thrown to him by another who had one foot on the bank, saying, "Oh but you had an unfair advantage." It is because of His advantage that He can help."
"But, you know, as a Christian, one of the big questions you always ask yourself is, "So we believe in Jesus, we believe in the teachings of the church, but what does that look like when it's lived out?" Because surely, one of the things that Jesus said that I think we often overlook is, "The person who hears my words and does them is like the wise man who built his house on the rock." He didn't say "the person who hears my words and thinks about 'em" or "whoever hears my words and agrees with it." But he said, "Whoever hears it and does it."
"find that which gives you breath and grants you more to give
"I have packed all my belongings. I don't belong here anymore. This pair of sandles, one pack to carry, this old guitar and this tattered old Bible. And I know I won't be afraid. 'cause I know, I know Home is where You are."
"Open up your weepy eyes, everyone is dancing. Angels peer through sweet disguise, through a fire of cleansing.
"You may be bruised and torn and broken, but
"I don't deserve to speak, and they don't deserve
to hear it. It's makin' me believe that it's not
"Kickin' against these goads sure did cut up my
feet. Didn't your hands get bloody as you washed
"They say God blessed us with plenty. I say
you?re blessed with poverty. ?Cause you never
stop to wonder whether earth is just a little
better than the Land of the Free"
"Computers will know everything in the 21st
century. They'll be like me in the 20th