Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Letters From Your Host (3)

I am attempting to do what C.S. Lewis did in "The Screwtape Letters", only I am going in the reverse, characterizing angels, not demons.

Our dearest company,

We are glad to know that you are doing well and that you have found our last letter helpful in your pursuits and understanding of this life.

In your next letter, we hope you might answer a question we have for you: what does it mean for the human body to allow the Son to dwell within it; the "accepting of Christ", as you call it? What does this entail? We can hardly imagine what this must be like. We humbly admit to our envy of such a privilege.

Still, we do not understand. We cannot makes sense of the fact that still you and your brothers falter, doubt, remain anxious, and self-reliant, as if Christ was not there at all. Is it easy to forget? We hope you can make this clear to us. We have heard that the world of a human soul is completely changed when Christ comes. It is to our understanding Christ becomes not a part of you, but you completely. Do you become less yourself, or is it not that you find yourself more fully? Is He truly in everything you see, every thought, every action, every mundane moment of your life? Or, is he just there sometimes? What is it like to have the God of the universe breathing through your lungs? Do you think of Him as separate from you, saying: "this is where God ends and I begin", or is He who you truly are? Is he your self? We know of the term "manifestation", are you combined or are you two separate entities living in one body? If there is separation, should there be? Are you not meant to be wholly unified? Who truly defines the soul, you or Him?

We confess to you, we have no hope of such intimacy with Him. Those of us who have fallen have fallen completely, forever. Much like you, we have a choice. We can chose to remain faithful, or we can chose our own way. Yet, you can fall, repent, and be forgiven. When we fall, there is not hope of forgiveness, there is no hope of redemption for our souls.

Although you might be frustrated with your fickle human heart, be thankful for the hope. There is always hope for you, no matter how many times you fail. Earnestly, we beg you, do not take that for granted. Accept it as the gift it truly is. So priceless, so completely invaluable and precious. We suspect you can never know the true worth of such a gift, not like we do. In your humanness you do not see it, you do not truly understand. We plead with you desperately, seize it! All is lost for you without it.

Wishing you the best always.

Your host

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Breathing In the Sky

My mind is breathing. It swallows
the sky, transforms it, exhales it.
In, step, step. Out, step, step. In...
My heart is pounding to the rhythm,
like a gnashing cymbal inside my ribs.
My ears feel it vibrating, reaching out,
setting my feet to the reckless beat.
A thousand metronomes
are tap, tap, tapping their own
cadence on the ground. This is
everything. This is nothing.
This is deliverance flooding through
my body. This is exile. I know at once
that I am home. I am Adam.
Dead. Reborn. Dying. Living. Waking.
Sleeping. I am no one. I am
everyone. My body is the eye
of a storm. I do not think. Yet I am
moving forward. Always moving.
In, step, step. Out, step, step. In...
This is my body. Breaking. This is my
breath. In. This is my blood. Flowing.
This is my breath. Out. No room
for weakness in this place, nor fear,
nor doubt. Just pain. Drink the cup. 
I falter. I sense the bitter taste.
Drink the cup. Drink it. Drink it. The pain,
it whispers. The metronome
is tap, tap tapping. I breathe pain in,
I breathe it out. I find the cup pressed
to my lips. I bear it to my body. I taste
the bitterness in my lungs, my legs, my
self. Time stops. There is only movement.
Movement forward. Never slower.
Always slower. The cup is a choice,
I dare believe it; believe that I am more
than the rocks underneath me,
than the mud splattered down my legs.
I am more than every goddamned day
of sweating, pushing, pounding
on the ground. I am more than blurry
thoughts forgetting. More than the iron
in the pill, in the field house, in my feet.
I bear it to my body. I taste its bitterness.
Time. Movement. Choices. Me.

The finish line.

I am on my knees. Too much to stand.
Too much not to prostrate here. This day
I lived my entire life and died. This moment
I find myself in paradise.
Sweat overcomes my tears.
It is finished.
How can I stand? This place I kneel
is holy. This moment is holy.
My broken body, my pain, the dirt, all holy.
And finally I sense it.
Among all voices
Well done. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Barrel Monkey Game

The first thing I ever prayed for was a friend. I was eight years old, my family was leaving for Canada. I had never been before, the name was meaningless to me. I only knew that it was not Michigan, it was not home.

I also knew that we were going over my birthday. This was not just any birthday, this was my golden birthday. I would be turning nine years old on July 9, 2001. Birthdays are monumental. They are colossal achievements in life. Now I could tell people I was a year older. Eight would be forever gone and forgotten.

Yet, things were different that year. I was informed we would be living in our pop-up trailer. We were going with a group from church. We would be camping--over my birthday. This is a lot to swallow for someone almost nine years old. I wasn't sure I liked camping and I definitely wasn't sure I liked camping over my birthday. My parents said we would celebrate after we came back. They just didn't get it. If my cat died, that was like saying I could still keep the dead body. There's a reason they called it a birthday. 

I might have cried a little when I found out we were leaving. I was being stripped of the simple pleasures of childhood, torn away from all things known and familiar. I was to live on a campground, with people who were not my family, who looked down their noses at me, who didn't care that I was almost nine years old. I would be living among those who did not understand who I was, who spoke to me as if I were a deaf dog, or worse, a mere child. 

I didn't have a choice. I must go because everyone else was going, our whole family loaded up in Dad's rusty gray Dodge Ram pickup truck. The back was overflowing with precious provisions for the journey. I thought our departure might be permanent considering everything we brought.

We were going to a place called Wikwimekong, a section of Manitoulin Island in Manitoulin District, Ontario, Canada. It is an unceded Indian reserve, which meant that it did not "relinquished its title of land to the government by treaty or otherwise." I suspected these people lived in teepees and hunted buffalo, but I was informed this was not true.

I prayed devoutly for a friend. I wanted a real Indian friend. I wanted to write letters to her and know her for the rest of my life.

When we finally arrived, things were different than I imagined. The people didn't live in teepees, just little houses without much grass in the front yard, and dogs. There were lots of dogs. I liked dogs, but these dogs, when we made eye contact, told me to be careful. They told me I should not pat their heads or get too close.

When I asked my mom why we were there, what we were doing camping in Canada on my birthday, she tried her best to explain that this was a vacation Bible school for the children living on the Island. I had never been to a vacation Bible school, this meant nothing to me.

Every day we went to an enormous old building. I think it used to be an indoor hockey rank that was turned into a gym. There were so many kids. Kids were running everywhere. The noise level and the smell of the place was overwhelming.

As the days went by, I realized I was embarrassed to be in a small group. I wasn't sure why, since I was out to make a friend, but I felt I didn't belong with the other girls. My hair was not black, my skin was not dark. They knew I was different, too. They looked me up and down, keeping their distance.

This was the first time I doubted God could answer prayer. Somehow, I knew I would not make a friend here. These people were not like me.

One day after singing lots of songs that required jumping, and listening to a Bible story, we played a game outside. I will never forget this game. Nobody told me what it was called, it was sort of like tag, but worse. Everyone found a partner first. Everyone, that is, except me. Therefore, I was "it". I had to chase another girl until she linked arms with two other girls, then one would break away and I would chase her. I chased and chased, but they were forever linking up and breaking off, and linking up again, like barrel monkeys, giggling, shrieking, laughing, and I couldn't catch any of them.

It happened that I was sick the next day. I was sick on my birthday. I came down with a fever. Dad stayed back at the campground with me. As I laid on my side of the pull-out mattress, I thought about what it would be like to live in this place forever. Somehow, it didn't matter so much that it was my birthday. Somehow, my birthday didn't seem so important. I thought of the girls in my small group, and my unanswered prayer. I thought about how they would link arms, break away, and link arms again and again.

I realized I was afraid to try to make a friend. The idea was unsettling. Fear crept into every encounter I had. When I spoke to the other girls, when I looked into their eyes, I couldn't explain what I felt. I felt uneasiness. When I was with them, I could not see myself, it seemed there was no part of me in them I could identify with. Everything about them was unknown; I feared the unknown. When I was with them, I just wanted to go home, I wanted to be comfortable and secure, I wanted to feel like I knew what was going on. The first thing I ever prayed for was a friend, and now...I wasn't so sure I wanted one.


How can we truly understand that bridge that separates one culture from another? In this essay, I tried to approach the question from a child's perspective. Children are free from the most crippling forms prejudice and stereotyping. However, to be honest, I really struggled expressing what I wanted to.

"The Barrel Monkey Game" is meant to signify the helplessness and culture shock one feels when entering into a different, unknown way of life. People tend to "link up" with those who are like themselves, who they feel they identify with. It's easiest to connect with people like ourselves. We can make a long chain, attach person to person, just like Barrel Monkeys.

When faced with people unlike us, however, our initial reaction is to retreat, like I did, and not pursue a relationship with somebody different because we feel we cannot relate to them on a certain level. My challenge to you as a reader is to forget what you think you know about someone you've never met. Don't rely on how you feel. Connecting with people who are different from you will not only expand your comfort zone, but enrich your experiences and broaden your perspective on life.

You will find yourself at the heart of another human being, you need only to look hard enough. 

Yours Truly,

Friday, September 21, 2012

It's Okay...No Worries

Hello all! You might have noticed I haven't posted in a couple of days. You may be thinking: "Oh...this is awkward, she just started and she already failed..." I haven't! I'm working on a story right now that's taking me a few hours to finish. Maybe I'm putting too much time into it but I think it'll be worth it. 

“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.”
― Molière

Gail Tsukiyama
“Even a snail will eventually reach its destination.”
― Gail TsukiyamaThe Street of a Thousand Blossoms

Swami Sivananda
“There is something good in all seeming failures. You are not to see that now. Time will reveal it. Be patient.”
― Swami Sivananda

William Faulkner
“And sure enough, even waiting will end...if you can just wait long enough.”
― William Faulkner
Haha. But seriously guys, hang in there. I'm also revamping my "I Will Be Going" essay, making it longer and better. It will show up in the "my work" tab soon. :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Letters From Your Host (2)

I am attempting to do what C.S. Lewis did in "The Screwtape Letters" (I highly recommend this read), only I am going in the reverse, characterizing angels, not demons.

Our Dearest Company,

Thank you for your reply. We are glad to hear you found our last response helpful and trust you are still doing well in the full vigor of your external life.

We have heard that you have expressed to the Father a desire to know His will for you. We are confused, what do you mean by His will?

Do you not know His will? We think that you do. His will is that you love Him first, and love others second. Grow. Connect. Serve. Today. Be mindful, lest you forget: you are stuck in time. Physically, you cannot skip ahead of it or return to it. Your existence is based on this moment. Right now.

Yet, with your mind, you time travel constantly. So often you reflect on the past with longing and the future with anxiety. Why should you waste your present moments so? If there is such a deep desire to know God's will for your life, why do you waste it thinking of what you will do someday, and not this day. Why do you worry you will not be useful to God? You paralyze your life at this very moment.

According your world's judgement, the Father wastes his saints. You think, "I must go here because here I will be the most use to Him." Yet, the Son never measured his life by how or where He was the greatest use. God places His saints where they will bring him the most glory, and you are totally incapable of judging where that might be.*

Be careful not to view yourself fulfilling the will of God after this stage of your life. There is only one stage of your life: right now. Yesterday does not exist. Tomorrow has never been. The moment you had ten minutes ago is gone forever. All you have is now.

It amazes us how you forget your own mortality. Here, where we are there is no sense of time nor death. We have a beginning with no end. Yet, you trust your life will continue on forever, like ours. It won't. You have no way of knowing when the inevitable end will come. What if you had died yesterday? What if you were to die in five minutes? Do you now understand how vain it is to measure your worth by the things you plan to do tomorrow? Tomorrow does not exist. It is merely a concept in your mind, a word in your language. Your life, your reality, is in this day. Spend it well for you will never receive it back.

We wish you the best. You can expect to hear from us again soon.

Most sincerely,
Your host

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thes. 5:16-18, ESV. Emphasis added).

*Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Saturday, September 15, 2012

When You're Afraid to Look

You think maybe if you tip the scale a little less.
You think a different shade of brunette. You think
subscribing to Women's Health or that dreaded gym.
You think hair removed, hair enhanced; maybe it's
the clothes. There's getting up earlier, calling back
your face from where it went before it saw the pillow.
Something is different about your hair.
Nothing is different. It is straight, curly, both;
It's all the same. It's not the same.
What is the same is your posture, no matter
how hard you try, you cannot sit up straight
you cannot keep your ankles crossed. What's the same
is tasting lettuce, carrots and spear mint gum.
You switch your shampoo and conditioner, the calendar,
and the light. You say yes to working
extra hours, yes to online shopping, to a free
sample of something---you can't remember what.
Maybe if there was no TV, or schedule, or responsibility.
You wonder if you thought of papers and files, laundry
and a messy house, or if maybe you read a book instead.
No, you think of a little boy and a little girl,
sitting on the beach. They are very much like
one other little boy and girl you once knew long ago.
You think of them, sinking their fingers and toes
into the sand, making something, destroying it,
and starting all over again.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Letters from Your Host

I am attempting to do what C.S. Lewis did in "The Screwtape Letters" (I highly recommend this read), only I am going in the reverse, characterizing angels, not demons. Be your own critic, don't assume everything they say is true, it is merely a creative angle used for greater understanding. 

Our dear company,

We are glad to see that you are doing well externally and continue to remain in the fullness and vigor of your life.

However, we have taken note that you have been struggling lately in the matter of your purpose. You feel God is not close, you have no direction. Spiritually, we sense you are drying out.

We must confess we do not understand how you can be satisfied to think the way you do, worship the way you do, or live the way you do, and yet question the spiritual condition of your soul. We hope you can make this a bit more clear to us. Your prayers of late have been so disjointed, unfocused. We don't know what to make of them. To be perfectly honest, we are ashamed of them for you. Very ashamed.

It is apparent you want to go to heaven. This is good. It is not selfish to seek preservation of your own soul.

Yet, we wonder why you want to go to heaven. What is heaven to you? You would answer stoically: heaven is eternal glory, worshiping in the presence of the Creator. Still we wonder, why, going off of your approach to worship, would you want this?

You look forward to getting out of the Sunday morning service. In fact, some days you can hardly wait to leave. How then, can you possibly look forward to heaven? Is not this what worship is to you? Imagine eternal pew-sitting and song-singing. Imagine eternal Sunday morning.

We understand what your heaven truly is, it is much like our own (there is more than one heaven). Heaven is not so much like Sunday morning. You should be glad to know.

It might also surprise you to know, you already have heaven. Or, at least you should. The Kingdom of God is within you. Technically, you should be dead. Are you truly dead? We hope so. The Kingdom of God is now. This very moment. Heaven is upon you. But be mindful, lest you forget.

We will continue to write. We see quite evidently you need to be reminded of your deadness. As for your purpose? Seek to live for the Kingdom within you. Discover what worship means to you in everyday life. In folding laundry. In loving your husband. In work. In play. In rest. Because possibly genuine worship never existed on Sunday morning.

And as for God? He may not seem close. Not at all. How can he talk to you when you do not listen? How can you find Him when you aren't looking with everything in your being? He may not seem close, but he is there. Invariably.

We appreciate your thoughts, please, if you could be a little more specific next time this would be beneficial. We find that you are slightly distracted. Focus a little more, articulate more clearly, and perhaps a clearer answer will be provided. Thank you.

Most sincerely,

Your host

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The God of Why

Science is the end of Christmas.
It's a set of full-grown teeth. Science
is the god of how. The mother
who forgot the way to hold a doll.
What child wonders how the quarter
landed underneath the pillow or how
the new bike fit down the chimney?

The god of how can never be the god
of why. Like why the child doesn't stop
to pick up the single feather lying
on the road anymore, or why she cares
more about her future than her old
puppy.Yet, time continues, the limbs
grow on the body, on the trees.

Now tell me why her teeth fall out, why
she sees only fabric sewn together,
a bit of stuffing and some eyes. Tell me
why, with her different set, she can still
see sunsets, still dream dreams of angels
and jumping in the ocean and walking
on the waves.


Monday, September 10, 2012

My Double Life

I'm not sure if you know this, but I am deceiving the world. I am not who I appear to be. Not even remotely.

Before I go any further, I must warn you I may come off as an egotistic, self-obsorbed soul thinking and dreaming of nothing but herself and therefore finding nothing as interesting, inspiring, or heart-clinching as her beloved self-interests.

Yet, for all I know, you have a self too. Perhaps the better I relate to mine, the easier you can relate to your own, and the greater our mutual understanding of the world will be together.

You see, it should be obvious to me that I am an insightful human being. Simply put, I am quite the visionary. I have deep, profound thoughts; I see the world clearly and brilliantly. My ideas are inventive. I understand so many things. I feel invincible, unstoppable, impenetrable--in my head.

Yet, in reality I am the little dog chasing down the bigger dog. I don't realize the greater truth of the situation: I forget my own size.

Outside my head, I'm too often incompetent. I don't get people's jokes; I'm scared to say hello first. I reduce myself to small talk. Lord! How I do not understand the implications of small talk. I submit myself to the social norms that are expected of me, yet I hate them.

Do they really care how my summer was, or do they simply want to relieve the awkward silence between us? I suspect they want to come across as nice, friendly even, but I doubt their sincerity. I doubt my own. Do they really want to know how I am? I could tell them, I could unload like a dump truck. Or, for the sake of social experimentation, as we pass on the sidewalk, I could say I'm not doing well. Would they stop? Would they inquire deeper? Doubtful. They would keep on walking, feeling uncomfortable.

As much as I dislike small talk, I have become the master. It is the double life I lead.

On the one hand I am the visionary, the brilliant thinker and perceiver. The author you have only just barely met. I am bursting with my ideas, articulating them in cutting-edge clarity and authenticity.

On the other hand, I am the shallow small talker that can't relate to most people in any real sense of the word. I smile dumbly and asks how summer went.

You haven't the slightest idea how this frustrates my mind. Who am I really? The visionary or the small talker? Or am I neither. Am I a combination of the two?


Sunday, September 9, 2012

First Day

It was the first day. As I was sitting in class my mind was escaping me. Maybe after almost four months away, I was not used to mental discipline or focusing. Why did the walls have to be white? Why was the air-conditioning blasting into the right side of my head? Why was that guy wearing boots? Were they alligator skinned? Regardless, why? It's so hot, I shouldn't have worn shorts. Was that my cell phone? Where's my pen? This is a small class...

Eventually, I found myself staring at the professors beard. His beard made me curious. I wondered how anybody so completely bald could have so much hair on their face.

If anyone were to ask me what I notice first about a man, maybe I would say his facial hair. Or the lack thereof.

How a man wears the hair on his face tells a lot about who he is, I thought. It might reflect his value of hygiene, his sense of style, even his relationship status. It was then that I decided, if I were a guy, I would have a beard. Not a big thick one like my professor, and certainly not with a bald head, but a beard would be nice. It would be kind of scruffy maybe, but not shaggy.

I couldn't let the beard get too long or it would start looking like pubic hair. That's unattractive. And it needs to be course, otherwise I'd be a peach with fuzz on my face. That's embarrassing.

Sometimes when my brain wonders I don't think about how strangely the implications of such thoughts might reflect on who I am. I didn't want a beard, I wasn't wishing I were a man, I was just thinking if I was, I should grow one.  

I would need to have a mustache too. I think I could have a mustache with no beard, but never a beard with no mustache. Men who have mustaches are one of four things: a) over fifty-five and still stuck in the eighties, b) pedophiles, c) trying too hard to be hip or d) actually are hip.

What does "hip" really mean anyway? It's out of date, like "groovy." Maybe "fresh" or "fly" would be better.

...no probably not.

Younger guys who cannot grow beards are not less manly, hopefully. It usually depends. It's apparent that one day, all men grow beards, even if they're late. So, if I was a guy, and I couldn't grow a beard, I wouldn't try. I would wait years, decades, before I ever tried to pull something off that looked like anything less than complete, mature facial hair.

"And that will be due at the beginning of class next Tuesday. Any questions?"

Oh. Wait. Crap. I had no idea what he just said.


Friday, September 7, 2012

I Will Be Going

"I will miss you." The words were spoken softly, right next to my ear, with the most genuine sincerity I had ever heard.
I realized I was in one of those moments.
I had moments like these sporadically, unexpectedly. They are moments apart from reality. They are moments one would only imagine seeing in movies--dramatic moments, moving moments. They are, to put it simply, perfect. It's as if they were staged. All I needed was sad background music.
We embraced each other for several moments. I squeezed tight before drawing back. She was crying silently. Her lips were pressed firmly together, doing their best to hold everything in. And her eyes. Those eyes were enough to break my heart. I had seen my mother cry before, for various reasons. But rarely had I ever been the cause for those tears. It bothered me to see her this way. I didn't want her to be upset.
Maybe it was because it was so late. Or maybe it was because we had just finished watching a really sad, sappy movie, which already made me feel like I was missing someone. I felt a sudden tightness in my throat. I usually don't cry. I wasn't going to cry. My throat felt tight, I was choking on an invisible collar.
We were still in the dramatic moment.
After pulling away from the hug, I reached out and took both of her hands in mine. I looked into those deep, dark, brown eyes.
"You'll see me next weekend at my meet."
She closed her eyes, lips still pressed firmly together, and nodded her head in agreement.
"And you can make me feel as guilty as you need to if I'm bad and don't call you on Sundays," I added. This made her laugh. I was glad to see her laugh. I felt relieved. She would be fine.
We had been in the laundry room folding my clothes. We both knew I was leaving in the morning. I was moving away. I wanted to say something meaningful, express my appreciation for all of her help. I don't remember what I said; I stumbled over my words. I must have managed to get something out that sounded decent. It was enough for her anyway, enough to make her cry.
After she laughed she sighed deeply. Looking up, she let go of my hands to wipe under her eyes. I could tell the moment was quickly ending. The level of emotion and vulnerability was steadily rising, evening out, my mother began to resume her role of responsibility; her coping mechanism.
"Do you have everything packed?" This was an unnecessary question. This was one of those questions that finalized the end of the moment. Reality was upon us.
"Yes. Except maybe we could swing by Hutch's when we get there so I can buy some bread."
She nodded her head. "Okay." She sighed again and shrugged her shoulders. I knew about these little shrugs. Her shrug told me she was alright now, it apologized for the small breakdown, and it let me know our conversation was almost over.
"Love you, Mom. I'll see you in the morning." I said.
"One more hug."
I hugged her again. We hugged carefully, quickly, wary not to get too caught up. She smiled sadly and walked to her room.
As I watched her leave, I began to realize the significance of what just happened. A person could go through her entire life and never grasp the weight and meaning of such invaluable windows of time. This was something I couldn’t shrug it off. Moments like this, perfect yet so real, don’t just happen. These sort of moments must be reflected on and processed out. I am a processor. I must process everything. I walked down the stairs to the basement. I didn't turn on any lights. I welcomed the darkness. There is darkness in prayer. Darkness shuts madness out that steals away thoughts. Darkness enlightens the soul and transforms the mundane. In darkness, I am able to visualize my thoughts. In darkness, the mind sees best.
When I reached the bathroom I turned on the light. I began to brush my teeth. I stared at myself in the mirror as I moved the brush around in my mouth. I turned those four words over and over, I will miss you. I thought about the way she said them. There was no doubt in my mind they were sincere.
What does it mean to miss someone?  I wondered. What does it mean to miss someone the way she already missed me?
I thought of the kind of kid I was. How distant, forgetful, and irresponsible I could be. I thought how I often opted out of and avoided family things.
I thought of how generous she was. She gave me so much without a second thought. She gave me more than I needed. She gave me life, she brought me into this world. How much money, time, resources, life had she poured into me? I knew I owed her a debt, a debt I could never repay.
Someday I would leave for good. This house wouldn't be my home. Someday I would only be a guest here. I was already a guest.
Somewhere between the long moments I sat in the movie theatre for the first time, when I didn’t spill red paint on the carpet, when we found a mouse in the basement ceiling, the Friday night we ate popcorn and watched Dr. Quinn, and I asked why they were kissing for so long, when I rode on a two-wheeled bike all by myself, and the Sunday morning I lost my gum in my sister’s hair, I grew up. Is there a moment when we step from childhood into adulthood? Can we mark the transfiguration on our calendars from girl to woman, from boy to man, from young to old to older? I realized these transformations were made up of moments, just like this one. If moments truly define my life, it was clear to me I just experienced the moment I became an adult. The moment I was no longer a child. Those four words had also said one other word, goodbye.
She had whispered farewell to the child inside me. In two years I would graduate from college. In two years I would move to another city, or state, or country. In two years, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be in this house, sleeping under this roof. I would be far away living in a place I have never seen before.
She wanted me to stay. Not to just stay at home, but to stay young; to stay innocent, dependent on her. It took far greater love to let me go, to put me and my burning desire for independence above her own longing to remain my mother.
I reached an understanding. I understood, or at least glimpsed, how much my mother loved me, how much she missed me, and what it meant to be missed by someone who raised you from childhood. She missed her little girl. The little girl who climbed up on her lap, begging for another chapter read out loud. She missed the little girl who asked to have her clothes changed five times a day, who begged for a real kitten. The little girl who drew abstract pictures of her, who wrote her little cards with every other word spelled wrong. Her little girl who didn't like to sleep alone at night. Perhaps I will never truly understand until I have my own child, but I knew there was so much weight, so much meaning in those four words, I will miss you.

I finished in the bathroom. I turned off the light and went to my room for one of the last times. In a strange way I will miss her too. Still, she knows. We both know, time cannot, will not, change everything.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Writing Challenge

Classes officially start tomorrow. 15 credits (5 classes) + working + xc practice 2 hours a day + meets on the weekends = my crazy life. However! I thrive under pressure. Really, I do. My body might not appreciate me, but my mind loves it. I'll be honest, I love to learn.

That being said, I met with one of my English professors today. It was...educational. He gave me a challenge. I hated him a little for saying it, but I have decided to accept.

Essentially, he told me if I am serious about writing, I need to learn self-discipline.
What does that mean? It means carving out an hour of my day strictly devoted to writing. He said that writing isn't about talent, it's about discipline. Yikes. He also said if I'm serious about grad school (being a student even longer. Ahh), I need to try to get stuff published (unfortunately, blogs don't count). I've recently discovered some sweet magazines that few people know about (Hipster? Possibly. Aha). They're interested in creativity with no boundaries. That's my kind of thing. So I'll write things for them, send it in, and NOT be disappointed when it isn't published. I've also found a whole magazine filled with upcoming writing contests and deadlines, most of the due dates are in October. I have some time. I'll write stuff for a few of those too. Granted, English Ph. Ds and MFAs will also be submitting, but who's comparing? At least I'm writing. That's all that matters.

So. I really do have to blog every day (well, he said 5 days a week). I have to prove to myself I can do it. NO EXCUSES!

1 hour. 5 days a week. Goal set.

So this is where you, my lovely readers, come into serious consideration. You are the lucky ones who get to enjoy the growing pains of this undertaking. I will definitely keep you all in mind.

The number one rule in writing: Know your audience.

So let's think about this:

Q: Who is my audience?
A: Mostly my friends and family, because they're the one's who actually care about me, and are interested in me as a person, even if my writing is...well...only so-so (for now).

However, I do have a few followers that I have never met personally. This excites me because you lovely readers don't know me. Therefore, you will judge me based only on my writing (that is, if you actually do read what I write). I hope you do judge me. Better yet, give me feed back. Be mean, I can handle it. I will reply to every single comment. Opinions matter to me. Every. Single. One.

Q: What will I write about?
A: Now, before I answer this, I know most people are super visual, and reading can get monotonous. Honestly, I don't know how many pictures I'll be able to add. Still, I'll do my best to keep you all interested, invigorated, and at the edge of your seats. Ah, well, something like that anyway. Whatever you do, just DON'T GIVE UP ON ME!

I'm going to write about a lot of things. Basically, things that interest me. Namely, myself. Haha. But not just me, more importantly, how I see life. I think this is the easiest way to find a clear voice. I will characterize myself. I will also be writing short stories for the contests/magazines. However, those will probably pop up under the "my work" tab, not on the main feed.

Q: What will happen if this doesn't happen?
A: I don't know. It's not an option.

I mean, really? Come on, this will happen. I'm a runner, I know how this kind of thing works. It's called endurance. 

Also note, I may not publish everything I write on my blog. So if it looks like I'm slacking, I'm probably not. I'll just post a bigger document on the "my work" tab when I'm done with the final product. Or, I might just not publish it here at all.


Additionally, I like to write memoirs. In the past they have been light, humorous (i.e.: What it Takes and Paneradise). Maybe in the future I'll get a little more serious. Also, if you know me, you could possibly show up in my writing. I hope you don't mind. I just wanted to give a heads up.

You may be thinking this is really cute. Aw, she wants to write every day. She wants be published in magazines. Like that will actually happen. 

Good. I hope you are. I am here to prove you all wrong. The lower your expectation is for me, the more I can impress you. And let's be honest, obviously, you don't know me. If I know there is a greater purpose for this, and if I say I'm going to do this, I sure as hell will. Starting tomorrow and ending sometime in December. I'll be studying in China next semester so I don't want to commit to something if I'm not sure I'll have access to a computer the whole time.   

I'll post what I've written on Facebook and Twitter every now and then; probably when I'm exceptionally impressed with what I've written. I won't let you down, this will be fun. And even when it's not fun, even when I hate myself for getting up an hour earlier, and writing for you, I'll do it. I'll do it because I love you all, because this benefits all of us, and because I have this sneaking suspicion you, Professor Cline, and the rest of the world see me as some kind of funny little joke and I need to prove that this is serious business! Haha. I'm a nutcase.

I'll be posting bright and early.

Most sincerely your dedicated writer,


“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up & get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part & a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you." ~ Chuck Close

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fight Club

Certain songs, movies, and books have a way of inspiring me and forcing me to stop and think. Most of the time it's very unexpected, and I'm not always good at expressing why the work moves me so much, or why I love it, I just know that I do. It's like the song/movie/book reaches a deeper part of who I am and what I desire, even if I wasn't aware of it at first.

One of my favorite authors once said: "You don't just read a good story. A good story reads you." - C.S. Lewis

With all that said, I watched Fight Club this weekend. It was one of those movies that sort of slapped me in the face, shook me up a little, and challenged my way of thinking. In fact, I can honestly say it inspired me. If you've seen it, you're either laughing at me right now, or maybe a little worried. The movie is about a man who suffers from insomnia, is highly emotionally unstable, and basically goes crazy and destroys half of a city at the end of the story, with several bizarre, erotic, and violent scenes in between. I don't even know if I'd recommend watching it, but it spoke a truth to me. A truth I want to share.

Tyler Durden: Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God d*** it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy sh** we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.

Tyler Durden: It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything. 

Tyler Durden: You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your f***ing khakis. 

Narrator: When people think you're dying, they really, really listen to you, instead of just...
Marla Singer: - instead of just waiting for their turn to speak? 

Tyler Durden: The things you own end up owning you. 

Tyler Durden: God D***! We just had a near-life experience, fellas.

Narrator: I ran. I ran until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid. Then I ran some more. 

Tyler Durden: Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing. Like the first monkey shot into space. 

Tyler Durden: Do you know what a duvet is?
Narrator: It's a comforter...
Tyler Durden: It's a blanket. Just a blanket. Now why do guys like you and me know what a duvet is? Is this essential to our survival, in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word? No. What are we then?
Narrator: ...Consumers?
Tyler Durden: Right. We are consumers. We're the bi-products of a lifestyle obsession. 

Narrator: Look, nobody takes this more seriously than me. That condo was my life, okay? I loved every stick of furniture in that place. That was not just a bunch of stuff that got destroyed, it was ME!
Narrator: I'd like to thank the Academy...

Tyler Durden: We're consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don't concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy's name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.
Narrator: Martha Stewart.
Tyler Durden: F*** Martha Stewart. Martha's polishing the brass on the Titanic. It's all going down, man. So f*** off with your sofa units and Strinne green stripe patterns.

Narrator: You had to give it to him: he had a plan. And it started to make sense, in a Tyler sort of way. No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide. 

Tyler Durden: Self improvement is masturbation. Now self destruction... 

Tyler Durden: Hitting bottom isn't a weekend retreat. It's not a goddamn seminar. Stop trying to control everything and just let go! LET GO!

Narrator: Every evening I died, and every evening I was born again, resurrected. 

Tyler Durden: Reject the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions.

Narrator: Most of the week we were Ozzie and Harriet, but every Saturday night we were finding something out: we were finding out more and more that we were not alone. It used to be that when I came home angry and depressed I'd just clean my condo, polish my Scandinavian furniture. I should have been looking for a new condo. I should have been haggling with my insurance company. I should have been upset about my nice, neat, flaming little sh**. But I wasn't. 

Narrator: It's just, when you buy furniture, you tell yourself, that's it. That's the last sofa I'm gonna need. Whatever else happens, I've got that sofa problem handled. 

Tyler Durden: Warning: If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don't you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can't think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you're supposed to read? Do you think every thing you're supposed to think? Buy what you're told to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned- Tyler.

I'll be honest, there was a lot about the movie that I didn't agree with too. Still, these lines reflect a truth that cannot be ignored. It is easy to scorn at the crudeness, to scoff and deride such a philosophy. After all, such a way of thinking creates problems, chaos...nothingness. Still, I would like to challenge your way of thinking. These lines hit me with a truth: it's not just about the stuff. It about what the stuff means to us. We would work until our death for not merely basic necessities, but the best, the finest the world could offer. We have been told this will fulfill us. We believe it will. Our thoughts consume us with things, and those things enslave us. Truth is hard to swallow, it's hard to come to its terms. Even more, it's hard to change a lifestyle once the truth is known. 

I find it fascinating how Fight Club, originally a book written by Chuck Palahniuk, completely non-religious, shows a truth about Christianity that possibly no other Christian book ever has. The purpose of the story was perhaps to reveal how small-minded, control-hungry, and ignorant we are. How we do not accept the reality of death, and how we live as if we will just keep on living forever. Palahniuk shows how this is empty. Not only this, it shackles our thinking. We become dull, numb to life and the reality of its end. How? How can we waste it seeking optimal comfort in...stuff? I want to live in such a way that inspires people. There is so little value in things. I want to give people courage to do things they never believed they could. I want people to want more from their lives. I want people to stop and think. Life can be a whirlwind of things to do, places to be, people to please, but we have control to stop it. I want people to not only know what they believe, but claim it! If you are Christ's, then for his sake, live! But not for comfort, not for the world. Whatever it takes. Think of the parable of the man who sold everything he owned for a single pearl. The single pearl--the Kingdom (Matt. 13:45-46). Live without reservation. Live in full. The small comforts you cling to will rule your life. Let go.  

Because after all, "It's only after we have lost everything that we are free to do anything."

Also, I really want to read this book.  

Yours truly,