Monday, September 7, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Suddenly, a revelation of why I have been in a funk all day today: tomorrow I am going to meet with my old boss to discuss being reemployed by Liberty Mutual in exactly my old position. I never thought this would happen - my old position is a highly coveted one that rarely becomes available. I instead thought I’d be working in an office, doing a new type of work for the same old company, fighting new battles instead of old. This was exhilarating at first - the job comes with great pay, compensation for the gas I spend or a company car, the freedom of my own schedule, and working from home - however, it quickly turned into a concern that I wasn’t able to vocalize, dread and emotions that I didn’t then realize were related to this circumstance.
I feel trapped.
Acceptance of this job is akin to running on a parallel line to my Orlando past, and it looks so similar that I am frightened of returning to that person I was as well. It was my biggest fear in leaving Australia - that all of the lessons I’ve learned would be forgotten, the battles and enemies reengaged, and the insecurities I kicked out would resurface.
I sit, hearing many talk of leaving Orlando these days, and I already see the shadows, ghosts of those who made their way beyond the horizon before my own return. And as each one plans his or her escape, I find myself volunteering to go with that person. My heart is looking for that escape, that adventure, the thrill of departure. Vegas, San Francisco, Italy, India, heck, even LA, and I’m sucked into a mental withdrawal of sorts.
I don’t like commitment these days, after living such a carefree life. But much of life requires just that: inescapable commitment. I don’t remember ever fearing such attachments before, but lately the idea of escapism can truly overwhelm me.
I came back to Orlando for a very specific reason, to be with very specific people, and to fulfill very specific purposes. I am incredibly happy to see old friends and be loved and love people back and rejoin a community that I love dearly, which loves me in return. But there are minutes, hours, and even whole days that it feels like a constant sacrifice, a consistent selflessness, a reoccurring focus onto God’s purpose for my life at this specific point in time. It’s not the time that I spend with people - that is the easy, beautiful, blessed part - but instead the surroundings, and sometimes, the American way.
"Turn from ourselves, look beyond/There is so much more than this.”
These lyrics from Tear Down the Walls reverberated throughout the car, throughout my head as I reminded myself to focus on anyone else. Selflessness usually results in a better understanding of the world, and sometimes even yourself.
I want to be here. I want to want to love commitment. I want to wholly give my heart and my mind to my current life, my PRESENT. I pray for that desire frequently.
But often, running away seems far simpler.
I am convinced that it is a curse of too many options.
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I arrived back in the States roughly 10 days ago, and there are times that I’ve had difficulty adjusting. Those difficulties tend to revolve around the extremely opposite mindsets of Australia and America. I’ve grown to cherish the Aussie mindset, so mind you, being back in this rushing, busy, competitive society has effectively rattled my mind.
But I find that these frustrations and limitations have taken a backseat to the utter pleasure I have found in the people for which I returned to this city. Some of those people left this city during my absence, and others left long before my departure. I haven’t seen everyone that I want to see by any means yet, but I have absolutely been lavished with the brilliance of my friends’ company.
And so, life is good.
Here are a few things I’ve learned or remembered about the States or myself or random things in the past 10 days:
Everything is bigger in the States. Everyone says it, everyone laughs at it, but it’s true. Macca’s small in Australia is the size of a kiddie drink in America and the large is equivalent to the States Medium. There is no such thing as a 32 oz drink in Australia - it might as well be labeled a bucket.
American internet is freaking fast! And unlimited!
We waste a ton of condiments. Only Macca’s gives you free ketchup in Australia, and even then it’s like trying to pry a steak from a Pitt Bull’s mouth to get more than 2.
America has the best shopping, hands down. Cheap, trendy clothing or high quality expensive clothing. Options, options, options! I struggle with hating infinite options in many categories (see: career path), but too many stores is not one of them.
Walmart, Target, and Payless are actually CHEAP.
$2.50 movie theatres exist. And they are the bomb! Even normal movies, at $10, seem cheap.
Zoolander is my favorite Ben Stiller movie.
People respond positively to politeness laden with happiness and laced with genuine interest in what they have to say. Obviously. I love it. This is true in America AND Australia.
Leslie can go an entire day at work without turning left. She is not always an ambi-turner.
Random calls from Hillsong on a phone number I got 24 hours before (meaning that they had to work to get my digits) make my day!
Jet lag from Fiji is horrific. I think I finally adjusted in the last 3 days or so. Maybe part of it is not getting enough sleep in general. Heh.
Nashville is in the central time zone. If you tell your Nashville friends that you are leaving at 9:30am, they assume central time, even if you meant eastern. And none of you think about it until you’re 70 miles south of Chattanooga and they are 200 miles north.
Going through boxes you packed 4 months ago is a bit like Christmas. Old clothes become new!
Shiatsu massage by Sonny is the best. Better than Swedish or Deep Tissue. For reals.
DO NOT drive down the left side of a street. And if you do, in the middle of downtown Orlando on a Friday night, be certain that your best friend is NOT following you. Else you might both get a ticket/die. And remind Mel frequently that Orange Ave is a one way street heading south. Thank God for frantically waving pedestrians who care.
Top Gun rocks.
Gary owns Gigli. Wait, I think he sold it. Point is, he paid for it.
Pizza + Red Wine + Kate’s Porch + Awesome people = best Sunday night back in America yet.
God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You won’t find it lying around on the surface. 1Cor2:7
If you’re away from Status for 5 months, you won’t recognize people before the service. It’s because everyone you know knows that nobody shows up early. Right on time, or late. We should change this!
Chickfila is just as good, just as tasty, and just as unhealthy as I remembered. My arch nemesis.
Myers Briggs and superhero talk are bound to resurface at least once on Kate’s porch.
Apparently, I never get to survive a movie on my own. This is crap. “I’m not jealous.”
The Lodge has an 80s night. And nobody but us dances. Apparently, I am a fake-80s fan.
The Greek Corner is delish. Now, they just need hummus.
Vintage sales by Kate + Dana + Jamie + etc. I don’t even need to add an adjective to this sentence; it stands alone.
I’m on the search for a quality cappy in the States. So far, no good. Starbucks and Seattle’s best taste a bit burnt. Who knows of a good mom & pop coffee shop?
Mel’s dad told me, the day that we flew back into Orlando, that these blogs are kind of like Seinfeld - writing about things that are utterly pointless to everyone not involved. The sad thing is that his tone indicated that it was no where as entertaining as Seinfeld.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
- Bondi Beach, particularly the Sunday Market, is a great place for fashionable men. "Goodbye, Bondi, You've been sexy."
- Saying the previous quote out loud results in Sydney, your ex-lover, strutting half-dressed men with surfboards past your window. No lie.
- A God Encounter, as defined by Brian Houston, is a collision with the Unexpected. Yes, indeed.
- If you shun Sydney, in an attempt to return to your roots, it will lavish you with a final glorious weekend of beautiful sunshine, warm temperatures, fantastic worship/messages, and natural beauty - both surroundings and mankind. "I feel like Sydney is trying to seduce me."
- If I were a character from The Idiot, I would be Aglaya. A stubborn and haughty young woman who loves both carefully and carelessly at the same time. She deeply loves the beautifully good Myshkin, but fails to conquer her own insecurities.
- The Northern Head of the Sydney Harbour, in Manly Beach, is a great date/make out spot. I do not know this from experience :) The Southern Head, in Watson's Bay, is more beautiful. And, according to Mel, possibly the final shot in Mission Impossible 2.
- My left hand is far less 'simple' than I made it out to be. Ellie calls her dominant hand her 'clever' hand, so I labeled my left hand my 'simpleton' hand. He's rebelled by straining my left thumb. I now realize how much I need my left hand.
- Aussies are my favorite, culturally. They understand how to live life to the fullest, they are very relaxed and un-stressed about life as a whole, they understand what it is to be unselfish in community (at least those I know), they embrace markets to the fullest, and they have the most fantastic beach culture I've witnessed.
- The Sartorialist continues to be my favorite blog/photographer. His photos inspire me to move to another foreign country, preferably Italy or Brazil. Maybe France... maybe.
- Hugh Jackman (sometimes accidentally referred to as Hugh Jackson when my mind is on another) was, apparently, just a phase. I hate it when Walter is right.
- Bruce, the vegetarian shark from Finding Nemo, sounds suspiciously like Brian Houston from Hillsong. I've never noticed the Shark say "Good on ya, Mate!" until now, when I know what it means!
- Valkyrie came very close to succeeding. I wonder what the world would be like if it did?
- Getting to the IMAX 45 minutes before Harry Potter does not make a difference. Next time, show up at midnight.
- Fiji has a ton of islands. Trying to find a rad place to stay in Fiji is difficult.
- Hillsong has previously considered 3 cities for its American Campus: Miami, LA, and Orlando. I'm voting for Orlando. And then, I'd like to figure out how to steal Brooke Fraser, Joel Houston and Jad Smiley-Guy.
- Romans 11 in the Message reveals a whole different side to the word envy. "Now, they're wondering what they walked out on!"
- Depression and Loneliness are a plague in our world.
- Mel is better at blow-drying my bangs than I am.
- Paddy's Market - the cheap souvenir place - is almost identical to Tokyo. Or what I think Tokyo would be like, given that they have the population of America on a tiny island.
- Tim Tam Slams are far better with tea instead of hot chocolate. And the dark chocolate Tim Tams are the best. Tim Tam Slam Seduction is what they should call them.
- It costs $20 to get to the Hills Hillsong Campus from the city. And it was worth every dollar tonight.
- Master Chef is Australia's new craze. It sucks you in, even if you only watch the final 40 minutes of the season finale.
- Tear Down the Walls does not have a DVD recording. I looked everywhere.
- MJ is pretty sure that Hillsong hired stylists at some point between their older DVDs and their newer ones. "Joel, put the flannel down. Back away from the flannel."
- If you ever unintentionally lose a bet, so that now you have to buy your best friend dinner, arrange said dinner in Fiji, where the food is imported and clearly not all its cracked up to be.
- When something MJ has been talking about comes up in the church message of the week (or day), don't be surprised. Just laugh and appreciate the Confirmation.
- Blockbuster at Rockdale Plaza has more stolen DVDs than anyone. Don't start watching a series unless you check with the cashier to make sure all DVDs are accounted for. And then do a double check yourself.
- The concept of living presently (and thankfully) is a pivotal lesson to understand. I get depressed when I think that every moment that I have cherished - in which I have had a wonderful conversation with someone, in which I have laughed until I cried, in which I have wondered if my reality was real life - is now in the past and unaccessible to my physical self. I suppose this is why I have thousands of photos.
- The version of "Your Name High" on A_CROSS// The_EARTH is a lot more fun. They either yell "What!" or "Hiya!" in the chorus. And we got lucky enough to hear it tonight! "What!"
- Sydney does not have any radio stations that are static-y enough to please the iTrip. Finicky thing.
- Sometimes a question is not a question, but a statement to get you to listen. To hear with your spirit, maybe.
- MJ is going to annoy everyone with the way we say a word, and then repeat that word in an Aussie accent. "Shark." "SHAHK!" "Arden." "AHDEN!"
- All the Aussies I've been attracted to wear horrible 80's sunglasses. I suppose I can get past that, though.
- India is a fascinating place, as portrayed by Shantaram.
- There is no way to live a city you love without having your heart break. Even if you've already booked a ticket to come back in a year.
If you have made it this far, I applaud you! This stuff is very funny and interesting to me, but it's my life :)
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Alas, today is a day of hiding, and I’m clapping on the inside. Loudly, vibrantly.
As Central station looms on my visible horizon, I begin to notice people around me. This part of town - Chinatown - actually feels more similar to Japan, specifically Tokyo. Or at least what I expect Tokyo to be. The crowd is pulsating, humming, pushing, pulling in all directions. It’s chaos, disorder to the highest degree. There is no emergence, no pattern to the comings and goings of those caught up in the tangle, the web of humanity. The multitudes continue to throb, surging towards their daily supplies. I do my best to shake off the American who lives at my core, who thrives in large personal space and quiet. Oh, she’s screeching rebelliously against such close quarters.
But soon enough, I walk away from Chinatown, leaving its bustle to its own citizens, and I enter the semi-quiet, easygoing, Australian Central Station. Mel is a few steps ahead of me, soon falling a few steps behind, doing her own tango with the Aussies and foreigners who traipse amongst the trains that are quickly arriving and departing. I lose sight of her quite a few times, mostly due to my distraction with the people around me. I see a lady pull 3 coins from her pocket, totaling $4, and I imagine that she’s traveling back to Bondi Junction, maybe to buy that pair of heeled boots that she’s been admiring for quite some time. It’s gonna take more than $4, or at least that’s what I read as I intently stare into her face. I stroll past two backpackers who are standing at the entry stalls of the intercity trains, debating which track their train is departing from. The pony-tailed guy is pointing at the roughly sketched train-maps sprawled above the stalls, and both are ignorant of how they are annoying other passengers trying to inch by.
I carefully step onto the down escalator, ever nervous about missing the step and rolling down 50+ escalator-stairs. As I walk through Central station, I imagine myself in that movie scene (there are so many) where the protagonist in the bright red coat is stopped in the midst of a busy place, people flowing around her. It is one of those elapsed-time scenes that are intended to imply how busy life is, how rarely we stop to think, and how alone we can feel. Sometimes, I think they also use these scenes to show how someone is waiting for something that never comes.
And so all of those story-morals probably apply to me today as I slowly stroll through Central, listening to my iBuds with my ears and listening to the people with my eyes. I see a guy my age hiding behind his sunnies, and I swear he’s staring at me. I’m glad he’s got them on, because I don’t want to know his soul right now. I have pieces of souls floating within my own soul, and I already feel quite overwhelmed by those (oh yes, in a good way.) Maybe another time, another place, Mr. Sunnies.
I sit on the ledge of the escalator - 8 minutes until the Sutherland train, going to Rockdale, arrives. In the meantime, I change my song and lose myself in thoughts. 7 minutes later - an early train! - I climb aboard the train and sit across from Mel. I pull my reporter’s memo pad from my purse (which is now far too heavy with today’s purchases) and begin to write in purple ink. I love this Sharpie, this mini-purple Sharpie. Some days I wish I was a purple or maroon mini-Sharpie. I wouldn’t feel less superior to the bigger sharpies - I could go where no Sharpie has gone before as a mini! The click-Sharpies, though, are an entirely different story. But I suppose we all need something to keep our pride in check, hey?
I’ve had thoughts in my head that I wanted to transcribe to paper the entire walk to the train, but what instead comes out of nowhere is Russian Literature. I ask myself this question: Of the three Russian novels that I’ve read (Anna Karenina, The Idiot, and Crime and Punishment), to whom do I relate to the most? Who would I be, if I were cast as one of those characters based on my own character? I find myself furiously writing about who I am not, and when I surface for air, I am staring absentmindedly out the train window at the concrete, trees, people, and air passing me by.
I’m suddenly thinking of how I feel like I’m in one of those foreign films... the protagonist is staring out the window, considering her writing - its vulnerability, its imperfections. I even hear a voice-over (in French or Italian, of course) in my head echoing my thoughts. I smile at my silliness and wish my life were a movie, or at least a reality show.
I head back to my question and my notepad. I’ve often thought that the Russians are rather extreme in their characters who are burdened by self-loathing, who are bent on self-destruction. What I realized in writing down how I relate to the Russian characters is that the only reason I am not lost in these ideas is Christ.
I love Jesus.
And upon realizing this, I cut those characters a bit more slack. I lament, in writing, momentarily how I am not as gracious, naive, caring, or honest as Prince Myshkin (aka the Idiot). And then, I realize I am a combination of Kostya (Anna Karenina) and Aglaya (The Idiot).
And I’m happy by this revelation, although I want to be more like other characters. It also makes me excited to read Brothers Karamazov when I finish Shantaram, to see if I relate to any of those characters.
God, please make me more like Myshkin. I want to see the good in people. I suppose the correct thing to say would be please make me more like Christ.
And so, I disembark the train, happily alone amongst 50 or so people.
Oh introvert, how I’ve missed you so. And dearest Sydney, I have convinced my heart that I will leave you with no regret - I will not regret our sudden departure. I hope deeply, incessantly, that our paths will cross again, that my children will know you on an intimate level. You are so beautiful, most notably in your citizens. But in the next 4 days, I will love you like you’ve never been loved before.
I am a passionate and sincere lover, dear Sydney. Be prepared to be left longing for me. Oh, be prepared.
Monday, July 13, 2009
but have no fear, you believer, because regardless of their unbelief, this Creationist exists.
His World was torn asunder in the moment of independence; hearts were shattered, spirits divided.
and so, this Creationist, an professional Artisan, began His artwork once again, lamenting this necessary task. an expert in combining vivid colors with muted hues, he began to blend them into realities and perceptions of various sorts. once the colors were perfected, the Invisible Hand swept His fingers through the wet paint and began to stain this newly autonomous world with the multitude of pigments.
a wall was created.
and He wept.
the one World then became divided between their world, a suffocating impersonation of freedom, and His World, now invisible to those locked inside their own self-sufficiency.
division was evident for a very long time. the people inside the world would, now and then, have vague visions of the World which the paint guarded. dreams of Utopia, unexplainable longings, unquenchable fires deep within their hearts.
there was talk of reconciliation, but those within repeatedly stumbled into the wall. furthermore, they were often entranced by their reflections within this wall, looking only towards themselves, never beyond themselves to the World past the reflection. they did not and could not know how much more awaited them, for their selfishness prevented them from seeing.
reunion came in the form of a Man - and at once, the painted bricks of the wall became invisible.
but you see, the people inside were rather accustomed to staring at the painted partition, and so they were physically unable to see through to the Outside World. their hearts had grown hard, their eyes dim.
He sent his Love into the reunited World, calling the spirits He so lovingly formed back to him, desperately trying to change their hearts, to open their eyes.
He longed to have his creation return to Him.
that Love, it worked hard upon one heart in particular, one spirit that was seeking to find Him, despite its ignorance to its own search.
that hard heart soon cracked open under such a great Love, revealing a fleshy, love-inspired heart. those eyes, they shone brightly. this man walked, puzzled, to the invisible brick wall he had never before been aware of, seeing only the outlines of the old painted bricks. he carefully pulled down the first paint brick, and a trickle of light flowed forth into the eyes of the others. he looked back to their faces, to see if they saw what he could now see upon the other side of this confusing barrier. their eyes peered and strained, but they still saw not. the man pulled down another brick, set upon tearing down the entire wall! more and more blocks came down by the power of this man's hands, His love, and His strength; the light grew to an blinding glow, and more and more people began to see past him into the other world.
the Glory of the Light flooded their faces, their world, and their hearts.
the lost came out of hiding.
the land, the trees, the grass, the flowers, and the animals belonging to the rebels began to groan loudly, in anticipation of the voluntary, complete destruction of the wall by those who had once refused Him.
words, songs, noises - they poured forth as Enlightenment and Reconciliation were completed.
we will return to You.
Your name is Glorious.
I have fallen in love with the song Tear Down the Walls, by Hillsong United. The song is powerful in its lyrics, beautiful in its unusual structure, and of course, crescendos loudly before it falls grandly.
This writing is inspired by this beautiful song.
Friday, July 10, 2009
I often find myself shaking off the cliches that Christians throw at you when you are struggling with something: God works everything together for good; God will bring you through this storm, etc. I came to a profound, yet obvious, revelation yesterday - it has nothing to do with the words, but everything to do with the person who is speaking them and the person who is receiving them. When a person is not coming from a sincere, genuine, faith and love-driven place, and they utter those words, my spirit senses the falsity and doesn't receive the Truth within. But if a person is sitting beside me while I sob, comforting me with such Truths, from a place where they deeply believe what is being said - it is a supernatural comfort from God alone. In saying this, I also have been confronted with my own attitude towards those words: regardless of whether the person uttering them is deeply entrenched in the moment and the Truth, I should be receiving the TRUTH in those words!
God has used Hillsong to teach me many things about His faithfulness, among many other important Truths. The church's faith and hope in God blows me away every time I step through their doors. They are renown worldwide for their fantastic worship - well deserved, in my opinion - but what is slower to catch up is the optimism, the hope, the faith, the beauty that pours forth from their souls. I'm coming out of a mindset that I consider realism (oh yes, I've had this conversation with too many of you and we never agree on semantics!): a world shaded by cynicism and doubt, which I mask as 'reality'.
As an aside, please don't be offended by my words against a realist - I am referring to my own experiences/perceptions and yours may be entirely different, even if you label yourself with the same mindset.
The divine revelation that has slowly been unveiled for me while attending Hillsong is that the mindset I've previously had is like slapping God in the face. He's given me every reason to have Hope, to Believe, to have Faith. He's GIVEN me Faith, I just have to receive it. By no means do I argue that true doubts and frustrations and uncertainties should not be wrestled to the ground with God as you figure them out - he doesn't want your false beliefs or words! But I am far too often a doubter in God's Truth, without truly attempting to understand or relate. I may proclaim His word, but I don't always mean the words flowing from my mouth. I'm learning Who God is and how to begin to truly believe the Word that He has given me. Not to skim over it and read it through the lens of my 28 years spent in the church, but to really READ them. To try to understand what the Word implies - on a grander scale - visible and not. To have faith in the cliches, and unwrap them from that horrible label of cliche.
I must here interject a moment about motivation. When I first came to Hillsong, I wrestled with this idea: If this congregation is so hopeful in circumstances, so filled with faith when it comes to the temporal, won't they struggle significantly with disappointment when their prayers for healing, for jobs, etc are not answered in the way they wish? I watched members talk about non-healed illnesses, deaths, and other prayers that weren't answered in the way they had hoped, and I subconsciously noticed that their faith in God wasn't shaken, wasn't torn down by a loss. What I came to realize through two conversations is that the reason that their faith wasn't shredded was because when they prayed for these things, they weren't basing their hope in God on his answer. They weren't basing their belief in who He is based on whether or not their needs were met as they desired.
A friend referred to the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: they said, God will show up and save us. But if not, we'll believe anyway.
Simple, this revelation - so obvious, so profound. A typical Paradox.
The reality is that mankind is not good on its own. But the Hope effectively bleeds through that horror as Christ resides in us as a church. That is a reason to become an idealist (use whatever word you like, if you disagree with what an idealist is), to shed cynicism and meaningless words and arguments, to embrace both emotion, intellect and spirituality simultaneously, and to trust the God who you serve, who loves you deeply.
It is my deepest, sincerest prayer that my mindset continues to grow from this experience despite being miles upon miles away from the location that I found it, away from the people with whom it's rather easy to embrace such a mindset. I pray for a marked change in my spirit, in how I give to others, in how I encourage others.
It's a slow process, so forgive me for my negativity in the meantime.
I just want to love you better.
Monday, June 29, 2009
1. The best way to make sweet tea is to make syrup with hot water + sugar first, then add it to the tea. This helpful tip came from Sonny.
2. Headstands are a lot harder than they look and they require strong abdominals.
3. God is faithful, even when I don't have faith. This is encouraging.
4. The correct order is: Heaven is eternal, Jesus Christ's Character/The Word are internalized, and circumstances are external. To reverse the order is to skew the perception of Christ through temporal circumstances. I've simplified a really great message from Joel @ Hillsong.
5. 4 person air hockey on a 2 person air hockey table is a lot of fun. Defense is the best offense.
6. Tourists in Sydney tend to go to Circular Quay (Where the Harbour & Opera House are located) every day. It's only fair to admit we did the same.
7. The best koalas in Sydney, and possibly Australia, are at the Reptile Park in the Central Coast. They, so far, are the only ones who have been awake.
8. Jelly Bellys now come with words on them, like those chalky hearts at Valentine's Day. Way better for sending secret messages online.
9. The State of Origin is a Rugby game. I still don't understand what the difference is between Rugby and Aussie Football, when it comes to rules, but I can tell them apart visually.
10. Sending picture postcards is a great way to brighten people's days.
11. My brother has a strong southern accent. He's on the verge of being a hick, even. It's cute.
12. Christian Korkor knows the best places to go in the Central Coast. He and Giovanni are experts at good coffee.
13. The best market in Sydney is Killibarra Market in Milson's Point, just north of the bridge. Awesome second hand clothing, can be found cheap! Bondi also has a pretty rad jewelry and used clothing section on Sundays.
14. Hillsong Worship can't be matched. I dare you to walk away unchanged.
15. Australian ovens are a bit different than American ones. Only they can burn the top of blondies while leaving the bottom raw. Even so, the Blondies were pretty dang good, after I remediated the rawness. Save yourself time and just eat the batter.
16. Strawberry Hill by Bronze Radio Return is a great song: my favorite of the week. Drew Harris has really good taste - or at least knows what I'll like.
17. Memory (RAM) and storage are NOT the same thing. My computer is now faster, but has no more storage than it did last week. On the positive side, I did install my own RAM. Props!
18. Driving a stick-shift with your left hand, in a car which you sit on the right side, on the left side of the road, is not quite as complicated as I once thought. It did certainly take adjustment, and I'm far from being able to do it entirely without thinking, but I'm closer than ever!
19. GPS does not work well in downtown Sydney. Or so the Europcar people tell me.
20. Galatians in the Message repeatedly works on breaking my stony heart.
21. Familiarity is a tricky, tricky thing to tackle. I liken it to the magicians in The Illusion and The Prestige (my Jackie!)
22. Whales are migrating some direction past the Sydney coast right now. Are they going north for the winter, or south?
23. MelissaJeanne is not the #1 MJ right now.
24. Sydney is really big when you don't have a car.
25. Hugh Jackman occasionally comes to Hillsong, City Campus. He was last seen on Mother's Day, and Mel Kirby's Mom's friend hung out with him at the urinals. A kid from Powerhouse (the 18-25 crowd) looks after him. I know, I already told you. But I did learn that this week :)
26. Johnny Depp is yet again scoring a unique role as the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.
27. Aussies can shorten any word, and even abbreviations. Christian shortened KFC to how it sounds: "Kiffs." It's one of my favorite things about this country, next to the laid-back mindset, the welcoming community, and the surfers.
28. If you're going to video blog a Hillsong that's not yet released in the middle of a church service, hide the camera beneath your jacket and just catch the sounds.
29. Jesus needs a twitter. I imagine this would ruin the need for faith. Maybe in heaven, after faith is realized. I bet he would have the cutest things to say on his updates. Witty Jesus.
30. Your heart has an endless capacity to love, if you will just stop thinking about yourself. Go ahead, try it.
31. Cheap books in Australia are not really cheap.
32. Re-telling Walter's stories to my mom (and/or MJW creations) is not nearly as funny as if he were telling them. But she still laughs.
33. #32 is because I'm her favorite, by the way.
34. Chinese Saunas are awkward. (Okay, that was more than a week ago, but worth mentioning again, in case you ever find yourself invited to one.
35. Our generation has far too many options, and it's killing our identities. Sometimes you have to make important life decisions and make it a point to not allow regret (ever) regarding the option you choose. Life is usually not provided with a guide map. Blaze your own trails, find contentment in your circumstances, and if you're unhappy, change your circumstances or your attitude. In the meantime, be thankful for everything you have, for you take it for granted every day.
Okay, I thought of a 36 that was too good not to post. #35 is far more important, but this one is just funny...
36. Walking through King's Cross at 7:30am can result in a random, decent-looking guy (accompanied by a girl) to hunch over, throw his hands up in front you and your best friend, and then laugh and ask "what?! no high fives?". Your best bet is then to laugh heartily and high-five him. And then tell your mom the story of how MJW created a social experiment involving the words "Follow Me" after you bump into someone.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Galatians 5:19-26, The Message
19-21It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.
22-23But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
23-24Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.
25-26Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I pull on my black track pants, white Hanes t-shirt, navy blue hoodie (which is getting smaller and smaller due to the wash) and my nikes. My nikes used to be neon green and white, but since our combined 19 Kilometer hikes in the Outback, they are now tinted slightly orange. I bid Mel goodbye, as she gets ready to catch the CBD train to the city and head outside.
A quick glance at the clay pavers outside shows that it's been raining this morning and it's fairly cloudy now. I throw up a quick prayer that it won't rain while I'm out, and hit the pavement.
All eyes on me in the center of the ring just like a circus.
Britney's silly lyrics ring in my ears as I set my pace to one of my favorite tunes by her. She's not bad to run to, I think. I run down Garnet towards Bay Street, which then heads to the beach. I suppose it would be more accurate to describe Brighton-le-Sands as a bay.
Why does love always feel like a battlefield, a battlefield/You better go an get your armour.
I mentally thank Drew for sending me this recommendation, as it's another great song to run to. I don't love Jordin Sparks, but it's pretty decent. I run past the bus stop and there are about 10 people gathered, waiting to hitch a ride into the city. Yesterday was technically the first day of winter in Australia, and thankfully, the days are getting longer now! These people are dressed appropriately for Sydney's winter: layers, layers and more layers. A run under an umbrella that an elderly lady is holding in my way, as the sidewalk is far too narrow to run around her. She smiles at me and I smile back.
Right as I near the 'downtown' of Brighton-le-Sands, where the cafes, boutiques, and coffee shops start, it starts sprinkling. I dodge in and out of the raindrops beneath the covered sidewalk and the streets, and I start calculating my route in my head. I'm not sure how far I want to run in the rain. Sprinkles aren't bad, but Sydney is quite schizo in it's weather, so one can never be sure whether sprinkles will turn into a downpour. I'm already quite hot in my hoodie, so I decide to run until it gets unbearable. I'm only at the first mile of three, anyway. It's a mile back home, so I might as well run a bit farther.
I wait at the longest light ever, where Bay Street meets General Holmes Drive. This is one street I haven't figured out how to jay walk yet, since the lights and arrows go at all kinds of crazy times. I rest from my run as the sprinkles continue. Finally, the light changes and I run to the boardwalk, which runs parallel to the bay.
Just dance, gonna be okay...
As I run away from the city, Lady Gaga is ringing in my ears. As appropriate, this song always makes me want to dance. The rain is very slight now, and the sun is coming out. I run along the morning traffic and I notice half of a rainbow over the sand just in front of me. Suddenly, I am chasing this rainbow. I want to run beneath it! I then notice that it is a complete rainbow, passing from the sand, over the road, and beyond to an area I cannot see. I run and I run and I run, but it's always just out of reach. I thank God for Him, for the rainbow, for His love. The rainbow puts me in an even better mood than I'm already in, which is hard to conceive.
At my 1.5 mile marker, I surrender to my humanity and give up on running beneath the rainbow. I am still curious about what that water-prismatic-illusion looks like from directly beneath, but I could be pursuing this rainbow for many kilometers.
If I could bottle up the sea breeze/I would take it over to your house/And pour it loose through your garden.
I desperately wish it was the summer.
I turn back, running down the asphalt path for bikers and runners, seeing nobody along the way. It is rather enjoyable to run alone this morning, though part of me does miss Mel. There is something about being solo which makes you appreciate your surroundings much more. There are no waves to crash upon the shore, so the sounds are purely man-made this morning. I finally pass three guys who are heading into work, running between them as they obstruct the running path entirely. I smile at them, happy with life.
"I want to get away/I want to fly away/Yeah, yeah."
I run down the ramp to the beach, gearing up for the hardest part of the run. I laugh aloud at the song playing, as a plane is taking off from the airport just across the bay. I love irony, I love coincidence like this. I run after the plane, challenged by its speed. My mind envisions an explosion of the plane, the horror of seeing it, being thrown back onto the sand by the sight, the sound and the reality of it. It's even more repulsive since my mom is currently flying towards me in Australia. I am grateful that this morbid vision is only in my head, but I wonder why I imagine such odd things.
The city looms in front of me, about 20 kilometers away, hazy in the early morning rainshine. I am careful to avoid the green John Deere tractor that is combing the beach, and I head to the part just by the water. I hurdle over the net, which I assume is either for jellyfish or sharks, thrust forward by my magnificent and powerful legs.
I realize about halfway down the beach that the non-combed area is packed down due to the rain, so I run up the beach a few meters to the softer sand. What is the point of running on the beach if you aren't using your core to stabilize? The tractor has gone back to it's post now, as the driver has completed his rounds. I give it a final effort and then find myself standing on the far edge of the boardwalk. I rest for a minute, watching the beach workers storing the tractor and preparing for the rest of the cleanup.
I don't wanna be a maybe, Baby let me drive you crazy, I wanna be your dandelion
The sun is coming out more fully and I stand watching the runway at Kingsford Smith Airport. I am entranced by the landing and the take-offs of the many planes. There is a Qantas 747 on the runway, and I keep hoping to see it take off. The smaller jets commence take off far sooner than the large ones, and I want to see the 747 make it just to the end of the runway before pulling up its wheels and turning on its thrusters. Exhilaration.
But alas, it's not meant to be. It's apparently, even after 5 minutes, still 2nd in line for take off, pushed even farther back by the incoming planes. And so, I wave adieu to the 747, wishing its travelers a safe journey.
I run back through Brighton-le-Sands, which is less busy now that rush hour is a bit farther behind us. I weave in and out of the elderly people who wander through downtown, purchasing a bit of fruit, a newspaper, or coffee. I look longingly at the only convenience store to house A&W root beer in Sydney, but keep running because my money is at home.
Yesterday I had a dream I could fly through the sky/Then I woke up in a sweat, not dead yet but on the ground/I'm up in Johnson City Tennessee/Looking for the wind in me/Lord fly me over Pontchartrain/Back to the land of sugar cane and summer rain.
As I wait at yet another light (how these lights slow down my run!), listening to my favorite song from my favorite movie (Love Song for Bobby Long), I watch two kids in a double-decker stroller across the busy road. Their grandfather (I assume) is decked out in a yellow Nike shirt and black track pants, looking as impatient as I at these slow, slow crossing signals. The boy in front is actually the only one I can see, but I think there's a little girl in the back. He looks to be 2 or 3, decked out in a red gap shirt, blue jeans, with an army green truck on his lap. I think that his parents must have been to the States, as there is certainly no Gap store in Australia. I watch as he babbles on to his inattentive grandfather about the truck that is speeding by in front of him. The green man FINALLY flashes across from me, and I start my run back up again, passing them on the way over. I momentarily wonder how grandpa plans to get the kids in their non-boat stroller over the river of water that I just hurdled, but I don't look back to find out.
Someone tell me how I feel/Its silly wrong but vivid right/Oh, kiss me like a the final meal/Yeah, kiss me like we die tonight.
I am THRILLED that my current favorite song by Elbow has randomly popped up in my shuffle at the end of my run. I pass Garnet street, and turn left down Aboukir, extremely happy to notice that there are simply no more clouds in the sky to rain down upon us in Sydney. A blue sky on the second official day of winter: I can't complain. This has been a great run.
As Elbow notes, farther along in the song, "Oh, anyway, it's looking like a beautiful day."
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
My mind keeps tripping back to days that are recent, but seem so far away. On an entirely different continent, I shared parts of my life with you. The threads of our lives wove in and around each other, away from each other, tangling into other threads as well. God only knows how tangled up we got in our own web.
I moved on, I moved away, and you were sad. I was, too, but I had adventures waiting to distract me from your infrequent calls. Really, I just didn't want to think about you anymore. But I did. The thoughts, they came and they went, like waves against a distant shore. I blocked them with any damming material I could find, but the tsunamis continually found their way to my new home along the Southern Coast. In the dark of night, lying beside my sleeping (sometimes snoring) roommates, I'd allow them to crash into me, to overcome me, to drown me. I, the guard of my emotional prisoners, would only allow them into the jail yard for exercise in such darkness. Some of them would sit along the fenced in yard to watch the magnificence of the powerful ocean rolling in under the moonlit skies. They longed for such relation, but understood the helplessness of their own reality.
Time passed by even more quickly than the cities. I celebrated another birthday, another year in a foreign country and somehow felt like I was home. It was a beautiful time spent traveling, despite the exhaustion that resulted. We bid adieu to our triplet and sent him packing, on his way back to the motherland. I was jealous.
The more I talk to you, to best friends at home, the more I realize I voluntarily left a world that I adored (though far too often took for granted.) And when I left, though I was not the ruling monarch of this nation, the world ceased to exist. It died away as if the sun supernovaed, disintegrating the oxygen in our atmosphere.
And the glue which tightly held our friend group together dissolved instantly, leaving a separation that I doubt to be beneficial.
And so it goes, as Vonnegut proclaimed.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
My dream last night involved a dream within a dream (DWID). In the DWID, Mel and I had returned to Orlando shortly after Walt, and I think we were at a welcome back party. In the dream, at the party, and in the following scenes, I was internally ill at ease with being back home. I knew in my heart that I should have stayed in Australia for the time being, and I was struggling to be in Orlando. I couldn't afford to come back to Australia, so I was having a difficult time even being present.
I don't often feel that my dreams have significant meaning, but there are times that they have a spiritual aura, such as this one. Mel and I have already been in the mindset of wanting to live here in Sydney, trying to find housing, jobs, etc, but this dream solidified my desires and confirmed our decision.
For the time being, Sydney is my home. :)
Friday, May 22, 2009
Smart, to preserve your detachment
To recoil from unveiling your mystery,
(that tantalizing reveal)
To anticipate improper intimacy
Had you dared,
I would have stolen the stars you trustingly gave me
And ran far, far into the blackened night;
I would have raped your fertile mind to serve my own purposes
Leaving naught but a salted field in my wake
You may have been right,
Savvy, to impose silence upon my incessant inquiries
Recognizing the curious olive eyes, their true intentions
Shying from the implicit danger
Reading betrayal between the lines of flowery persuasion.
Had you risen to my challenge,
I would have branded your soft skin,
Emblazoned my mark, my claim upon it;
I would have ravaged your spirit
Leaving naught but a bleak, bereft soul in my rearview
For I am a vigilant vixen,
Scanning the horizons for favorable conditions
An ornery opportunist,
Searching for advantageous information
Your subconscious has saved you.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I turn up "Closer" louder, until my iBuds are throbbing within my ears.
The reverberating sounds soothe my strangled heart, my mangled mind.
Both are rather overworked.
Most of the time, music at full volume chases away any demons,
But sometimes, even the most poetic lyrics with the funkiest tracks aren't the right medicine.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
This latest book is written from Rhett Butler's perspective: it has flashbacks as far back as Rhett as a 9 year old (12 years before the War between the States) and I believe carries on beyond the end of GWTW. The book was authorized by the estate of Margaret Mitchell, as the estate had reportedly been searching for an author to complete such a project.
I'm in the beginning of this book, but there are a few things I've been thinking over since I started it.
First of all, there is a rather startling difference between GWTW and RBP, which becomes apparent in the first few pages of this book. I've often commented that GWTW can be rather misleading, as it shows a kind slave owner and his family, along with slaves who feel to be part of the family. While I am certain that this likely existed in parts of the deep South, I was disconcerted at the lack of balance Mitchell displayed (or didn’t) in regard to slave treatment. As previously noted, this was not necessarily the point of the book - to debate the morality of slavery - but the lack of objectiveness caught my attention.
However, RBP, surprisingly, comes from the opposite end of the spectrum. Rhett's father, a rice plantation owner outside of Charleston, is a vicious man, who treats his slaves as property, and punishes them accordingly. The reader is introduced to Will, an incredibly hard-working, efficient, and honorable slave (second in command at Broughton), who is shortly whipped to death for throwing a white man (who was intending to rape his wife) out of his home.
Even the white man's father, who was the overseer of the planation, disagreed with Mr. Butler's decree; however, Mr. Butler stood by his decision to reinforce the idea of authority.
Reading through the Antebellum section of this novel, I am barraged by different historical occurrences preceding the War between the States. I find that I'm intrigued by all of these different happenings - whether national or local, political or social, etc. I've been doing some research in regard to this war and its happenings (we were taught this information at far too young of an age, and likely by biased teachers - regardless of their origins).
I began to consider the North and their side of the war. In no way do I support slavery and its ideas, its lack of morals, its complete disregard for humanity. I was raised within the Southern perspective, which I tried to balance out with my sense of cynicism towards the older people of the Deep South. I find myself surprised, in one aspect, that the North was so insistent upon keeping the nation together. Surely, there were economical, political, and social reasons for the unity of the North and the South - I cannot deny this reality. However, a mere 90 years before this War was an even more famous one: The Revolutionary War.
The children and grandchildren of those who fought for our freedom from Britain were now refusing to let a part of a nation choose its own destiny, its own freedom, its own methods of operating.
I find irony in that, despite the fact that the AR addressed colonialism and the CW addressed the division of a new country. I'm certain that a good historian could cite 100+ significant, worthwhile reasons that the North fought to keep the South within their nation, but the irony is irrefutable.
I am also fascinated by the differences in perspective between the North and the South in regard to the secession. I was interested to read that during Andrew Jackson's presidency, South Carolina threatened secession (those South Carolinians are always leading the revolt!) over tariffs. Andrew Jackson's response was a threat to send Federal Troops to quell this riot and to: "hang the leader of the secessionists from the highest tree in South Carolina." Even more bizarre was the response of Calhoun, who was Jackson's vice president: he fully supported the secession and resigned upon the threats from Jackson. (I feel it worth mentioning that SC also threatened to secede over California's statehood.)
And so, the Union saw the South and its secession as a mere rebellion, incited by numerous traitors within their own country. Lincoln himself gave the south 20 days to 'disperse and retire peacefully' to their homes, on April 15, 1861.
But the South, as continually evidenced by my grandparent's generation, believed that they had successfully seceded, becoming a new nation with the other 10 (debatable, the actual number, as 2 of the 13 attempts were never approved by state governments) seceded states.
History is written by the winners, as they say, and so you will always find it told that the South attempted secession, but never able to consummate it by winning the war.
A final note regarding secession: There was a US Supreme Court ruling in 1869 in which the Court determined the Constitution did not permit states to secede, that the ordinances of secession were absolutely null. The Chief Justice was a former Cabinet member of Lincoln's, and obviously the South felt that he was partial and unfair in his decision. Wikipedia notes that the decision was extremely controversial, remaining so to this day.
A few more interesting facts from Wiki to conclude your history lesson in the fascinating War between the States:
On April 1, 2009, the Georgia State Senate passed a resolution 43-1 which affirmed the right of States to nullify Federal laws. The resolution also included the assertion that if Congress took certain steps, including restricting firearms or ammunition, the United States government would cease to exist.
In April 2009, Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, raised the issue of secession during a speech at a Tea Party Protest: "Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that...My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that."After Perry's comments received considerable attention and news coverage, Rasmussen Reports polled Texans and found that 31% of them believed that Texas has the right to secede from the United States, although only 18% would support secession.
In March 2008, the comptroller of Suffolk Co, New York once again proposed for Long Island to secede from New York State citing the fact that Long Island gives more in taxes to the state than it receives back in aid.
There have also been proposals for New York City to separate itself from New York State citing the vast political and economic differences between the two.
In Florida, there have been calls in the past and present to separate the state into north (a more southern culture) and south (a more northern culture).
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Day one: drive, eat, drink, conversations of bases (and far more ridiculous topics), ice cream, drive, hostel, guitar, oppression and sleep. Days two through four were far simpler: reading and oppression (though endured through a complex state of mind.)
Not that I realized it at the time, mind you. And, reader, you might even doubt the reality of what I will explain, yet it exists despite your potential cynicism. Separate views of the same world: mine, holistic. Will yours blend with mine, or do you instead wrap yourself in the mere physical?
It seems that all oppressions are grounded in partial reality, slight as it might appear. And for that reason, I insist that this is not entirely the fault of those daemons. There are, in fact, real matters to be dealt with on my part, and those lessons will be learned, and relearned, in due time.
However, when that truth is twisted, warped, by the imps who chase and tempt us hourly, suffocation ensues. I began to believe and internalize (as I’m certain you’ve done before) these exaggerated, revised versions of my true reality (but what is true reality?)
Thus began my journey, my travels, down the dark road that lie before me. I never saw the enlightened path just to my right, as I wasn’t searching for it. Not until day four.
If you asked me on day three (oh, you say you did?) why I sat listless, quiet, absent-mindedly absorbed in the minute glades of grass between my toes, I would have only stared at you.
Was it the heart of the matter? Was it the confusion, the blackness? Was it simply a day to be?
If I had to testify before the Judge, I would cite all three as sources of my silence, my distance.
I’m still at university, you see, learning through osmosis, studying the lessons of the beliefs to which I adhere, doing my best to experience, to become, these absolute realities. As an ex-disciple of selfishness, gluttony, worldliness, and egoism, I have travelled far from my homeland. And yet, I am still a great distance from the rest area which promises sweet relief.
Today, as we drove farther and farther from that scarred battleground, the rains lightened and the clouds lifted (oh, I assure you, this is quite the literal sentence) and I became reacquainted with both my subdued, battered soul and my risen Lord.
I followed Him with weary footsteps, trusting that He would play the soundtrack of His grace over my life (this song plays incessantly on repeat, until I lose that cd again).
That I might remember who I am, who He is. And what we are to become.
Friday, April 24, 2009
A few people online try to distract me from my brief bout with introspection from thousands of miles away.
As I sit, staring vacantly down towards the pavement, I see 5 drunken kids swaggering towards the opposite side of the street, heading home into the dark, cool night. I catch myself thinking that I hope they know which way to look as they walk into traffic.
I’m alone on this balcony and I like it. There are people yelling, there is music blaring, and MW is less than 10 feet away from me, inside our hotel room.
Somehow, miraculously, I have managed to escape into my own cocoon, amongst this madness.
I wonder at our world - what does it all mean?
I have strong beliefs as to why I am here, what my purpose is, and the overarching ideas of my spirituality, but as I stare humanity in the face this early Saturday morning, I wonder what it is that I even see.
I’m tired of relationships; I’m tired of trying to read into situations and events. I am exhausted from analysis; I wish for nothing more but straightforward people with love in their hearts.
I wish I was that type of person. While I'm wishing, I wish that I could just BE. And not think so damn much.
I’d be lying if I said that relationships were not work for me, for they utterly exhaust me. (Yes, yes, they exhaust you, too!) I fatigue myself with incessant considerations that are irrelevant and unimportant. And then, somehow, I manage to halfway offend a friend by not being observant about behaviours surrounding me.
Where is my balance? My scale?
There are days that I think I could live here forever, and nights that I wish nothing more than to be at home. But where is my home? I am nothing more than a vagabond, blowing around as leaves in the wind.
I thank you in advance for assuring me that my home is Orlando, or Atlanta, or wherever my heart is, but the reality is that I feel
A friend of mine once told me that he never really felt at home in Orlando, in the multiple years he has resided there. I never knew what he meant until now.
Except, he’s considerably more lucky, because he has a place that he remembers as home.
My memory is far to faint to recall anything of the sort.
I long for it, I really do.
Some day, I do believe I shall find it again. For now, though, I shall kiss Hope and Love on the cheek and consider myself blessed to be in Australia in my current situation. My heart continues to wail out its song, calling for that home that no longer exists. This song will recreate, redraw, repaint over the coming months or years; and I will then rediscover my safe haven and my peace.
But tonight, I sit, perched in my quiet nest, thinking about tomorrow.
and so i thought. and i thought.
everything? to know everything! what a blessing. and what a curse. to be burdened by the mundane knowledge of the average life of a fly during a nuclear winter, or the number of times the light in downtown cairns blinks per hour: overwhelming. but maybe worth the trade off to be aware of your nemesis' strongest power or greatest weakness? to hold the secret of the event horizon, the big bang, within your brain, to be able to explain the idea to the most brilliant minds of our times as if they are children?
and then i realized the one who wrote it wasn't considering the literal statement made.
and then i smiled.
because i knew that the author was only fooling himself; for even all of the facts of all of the events and the happenings
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
But ebbing more readily
Further and further back
Away from these dangerous shores
These cliffs made of age old rock
These crashing waves that force you inward
You and I
We embrace each other
We fool each other
We fight each other
And we give in
But both of us hold back
You say you give,
But you really don’t.
I don’t either.
We are both far too protective of our exoskeletons
And so we ebb
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I love to read. I find that since I've become very involved in the Status community, my reading somewhat decreased due that increase in my social life. Therefore, I made a vow to myself to read unceasingly on this trip, when time was plentiful and books many.
I've failed. Miserably. I find that spare time is spent online (when available) or chatting with M, W, or both. A bonus is that some of that time has been followed up with discipline in my Spirituality. But I have only completed 1 book since I left the States (for those of you who care, it was Angels & Demons, which I was re-reading before the movie came out.)
Despite all of this, I recently picked up the 1000+ page book, Gone with the Wind, which I lovingly stole from my mom when I was in Georgia this winter. My mom is an English teacher who has thousands of books, so it would be years (or never) before she realized it was gone. I must add that any time I read a book she owns (that she has found time to read), I learn much from it due to her markings, scribblings, and highlighting. Enlightenment.
I'm about 1/3 of the way through this book. Disclaimer: for those of you who haven't read it and want to read it, you might not want to continue. I have many thoughts on it which might give away plot points.
I've just arrived at the point in the book where Scarlett has arrived back home at Tara, following her departure from Atlanta, which was under attack by the Yankees. She has only just been told that her mother is dead and that Tara was spared, but desolated, by the Yankee army.
This book fascinates me, while depressing me thoroughly.
I grew up in the Atlanta area - the deep South. I understand the Southern sense of pride, their attitude towards the war in general, their attitude towards the North in general, etc. Particularly the older generations, of which my grandparents were part.
I suppose that I should feel more appalled at the situation that the South found itself in; however, this novel is not designed to question the morality of slavery.
Well, at least not by page 400, which is where I'm at.
I have been wrecked by the significant, massive separation of my world and the world of the late 19th century, the Civil War world.
First, the South was ablaze with tradition, politeness, and what many would call ignorance. They wouldn't tell women truths much of the time, for fear that women couldn't (physically, mentally) handle the truth. Women were not allowed to show their bosom before 3 pm. Women in mourning were not allowed to go to parties, or to dance, or to see other men, for many years after the death of their husband. It was shameful for a woman to talk about being pregnant with a man other than her husband.
These traditions seem ludicrous in this liberal world in which we live. White Lies? Separation and Hierarchy? And yet, there is so much history in these ideas. Misguided, ignorant, maybe, but history and reality nonetheless.
Second, I am astounded at the South's pride. Mind you, I've told you that I grew up amongst people who were very prideful of their heritage. Georgia's state flag has incorporated, and still proudly displays, the Confederate Flag. But the sense that the author would write "One confederate soldier is worth 12 Yankees!" is outrageous. They were confident without much reason, as far as I can see. I will never forget my grandmother telling me that her great grandmother believed the war would quickly be over, with a Southern victory easily at hand.
This very reason is that I adore Rhett Butler's entrance into the era before the War began. His character isn't concerned with what society thinks of him, but instead is set upon wreaking havoc (polite havoc?) amongst these haughty and intolerant, yet beautiful and family-oriented Southerners. Rhett loves Scarlett because he sees a bit of his rebellious nature in her, and he works endlessly to bring these qualities from the confines of her subconscious into the reality of her culture.
And yet, I must interject here that the personalities and the characters - feeling as though I'm their friend, or at least an associate - their ideas, their misguided notions, their methods of thinking - they all give me a more sympathetic and understanding insight into this world which I was once so quick to logically write off.
Thirdly, I am incredibly frustrated by the senseless death that this war brought about. The conditions of a 19th century war are so far removed from modern wars. The same can be said even for WWII, but the vast difference in the methods of strategy is blatantly evident. I must confess that I am a bit ignorant myself about the real reasons that the North was adamant about keeping the South as part of this nation - I do intend to do follow up research on this very topic. However, both sides appear to have been so very quick to jump into a battle, to believe in their own rights, their own superiority. And this stupidity on both parts frustrates me.
I believe the largest American death toll of any war is the Civil War - some 600,000+. While in one sense, this is logical (being that we were fighting both sides of the war), in another it's completely ridiculous. The statement of brothers fighting brothers and neighbors fighting neighbors is 100% grounded in reality.
That is shocking and disturbing.
There are many other things that strike me about the war, the environment, etc just from reading this book; these are the main ideas at this time. I continue to be depressed as I read about this young girl's journey before, through and after the war. It's a heavy topic, a real topic that can't be waved away by the mere idea of fiction.
I should also reference the book The Unvanquished, by Faulkner. I read this book at my mom's this past holiday season and was absolutely fascinated Civil War fiction. (It spawned my interest in GWTW.) Again, the idea that the literal ending of the war was not known by the public, particularly the remote regions of the South, for the longest time (due to differences in technology) blew my mind. I think I even blogged about it on this blog before.
I highly recommend reading GWTW if you haven't. And if you know of any literature that is similar, but written from the Union's perspective, PLEASE recommend. I am so curious to read something from that mindset, from those ideals, from that culture from the same period.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
The boundless ocean below, an orchestra,
Crescendoing against the sands of the beach below
I hear the winds howling
Blowing powerfully thorough the trees deeply rooted behind me
In awe of Your might
Mouth gaping at displays of Your power
I smile inwardly at my smallness
My cockiness, my egocentric view of the world
I know You are changing this
I laugh, often, at my jokes
So rooted in my reality.
The music plays on
As I hear with my eyes
And see with my ears
As I taste with my nose
And smell with my mouth
Everything is different
But You remain the same
Everything is foreign
But I find stability in You, Written for me to believe
An ounce of Faith,
Granted so mercifully
All that I am
All that You ask me to be
I fall again
I fail again
Self-reliance is intoxicating.
She wrote, then sang:
Even the high and mighty ones learn to slide.
I’m sliding, tripping, falling;
Grasping, grabbing for anything to hold me upright,
To pull me back to my higher stance
And I fall to the sandy beach below
Broken in body
Torn in half
But entirely whole in Spirit
I lay with the sea lapping at my feet
Unaware of the frostbite encroaching
My focus, and fear, drawn only to Your presence beside me
Awestruck and Dumbfounded
I ask no questions
I need no answers
You are more than enough.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Her search is continual, an incessant journey across the perilous waters, passing the expansive seven mile beach, steering clear of the jagged rocks and red clay cliffs which lead inland.
She occasionally sees fellow travelers along the horizon, floating along on their own little piece of earth.
She frequently floats up next to these vagabonds, upon the enormous sea of life.
One of these welcomes her over with waving arms, a toothy smile, and a hearty hug. She hops upon this stranger’s turf, unaware of the influence she exudes. She sits alongside her new friend, listening to the exciting tales of her past and watches the hopeful lines this friend casts out toward the future.
She is slow to offer herself, but always quick to lend an ear, or advice.
Finding common ground within the strong words her new friend offers, she enthusiastically engages in conversation. Her face is animated by the various stares her enormous eyes emit, and her new friend is encouraged to give more and more.
After enough time, she leaves her new friend, and both of them exclaim their delight at the new friendship, and their hope in the fates allowing future meetings.
So she is back to this beautiful water which has forever been her home. She ponders this latest relationship that she was part of for a brief time, and considers her feelings towards the introduction, the experience, the potential for growth.
Oh, how she values her time alone with Him as her own island swims along beneath her.
And shortly, there is yet another who is watching her from his own side of the ocean. He sits behind his fence, eyes peering over the top, wondering at her expression and her approach.
She doesn’t let the fence deter her - in fact, it might even be what spurs her towards the hidden man. Or boy? She’s not sure until she attempts to step onto his land.
“Why are you here?” He asks gruffly.
She turns on her charm, greeting him with the eyes he can’t stop staring into. “You were floating by and I thought I’d introduce myself to you, to share a bit of my food with you. Are you hungry?”
And so, he doesn’t open the gate, but he puts his hand through the narrow slit, hand open for her peace offering. She sits along the far side of this fence, directly in front of him, and waits for him to speak. She chews slowly on the Bread that has always been her lifeline, pondering his questioning stare.
She asks him a question.
She asks him another question.
Fairly soon, the gate has slightly opened, but she doesn’t go inside just yet. While the open gate is significant, she still continues to attack this one’s attitude - the mental obstruction. Her charm and wit fight hand in hand against any guard that he could put out.
Before she knows it, she’s in the gate.
There’s a wall that separates this front yard from the deeper parts of this small island, but she doesn’t concern herself with it at all. She is where she wants to be - where she needs to be.
The conversation carries on rapidly, until it comes back around to her. She adeptly parries the heavy fire of questioning, without allowing this new intimacy to circle back around to her. Her tactic of keeping her new friend focused on his own story has been successful so many times before that she is caught completely unaware when her mind connects with what her mouth now utters.
And she wonders how in the hell she got here.
On this stranger’s land - so close to home, but not home - how did she end up revealing so much?
Surprisingly, she doesn’t desire to run, to paddle away, to escape like she has before.
For the rest of her time in this foreign land, she is completely within her own mind, analyzing feelings and logic, while externally appearing to be focused only on the conversation at hand.
When she leaves later, the fence is in shambles, but the wall stands strong behind the man.
And her own piece of life never felt so welcoming.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Every now and then, she’d go back and look at the parts of her soul strewn across the pages, smiling at a past thought, frowning at a past demon. All in all, you were written within the pages of this journal and that’s what made her happy.
Something was amiss today, as she came down for breakfast and sat sullenly at the table. The book she always had by her side (as if her imaginary friend was trapped within) was not there. She answered none of our questions; she parried our interrogations rather well with her silence.
And later in the day, as the sky grew pink with its snowy potential, we sat on the front porch smoking cigars and talking in hushed voices as to not disturb her. She sat in the corner of the yard with her once-treasured papers, weeping over the heartache contained within her human heart. The pages apparently no longer meant anything to her.
I nudged my neighbor and we watched her set the journal afire with a single match. The wind whispered loudly, nearly extinguishing the match, but Fate was intertwined with my little girl that day as the inner pages suddenly caught fire and burned quickly. She sobbed and sobbed at her heart blowing away as ashes on the cold breeze. The thicker paper cover was slower to light and still remained when all of the insides had burned into the atmosphere.
She spoke words of wisdom to us (far beyond her years) as she brushed by with only the cover left: “This paper shell is all that remains of my heart; the insides are nothing but ash.”
She dropped it at our feet and sulked inside to sleep again.
It would be years before my angel drew near to the One who could restore her heart.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
There are emotions and frustrations brewing within. There is a storm of epic proportions - one that can lift a 252 ton (that's 500,000 pounds) rock from the bottom of the ocean to the edge of the shoreline cliffs - that is causing a deadly rise and fall within.
Isolation and lack of comfortability consistently bring issues to the surface I had either long forgotten or never known.
So I sit, my cursor blinking, trying to compose my thoughts into coherent poetry to express this storm. But the storm will not be described. It will not be quelled by an outpouring of wind or rain. The storm refuses to weaken by such understanding, but instead will smirk and strengthen by repeatedly regurgitating the emotion(s) on which it feeds.
I think about him, multiple hims.
I think about me.
I think about the patterns, the compositions of my relationships.
I think about identity.
I think about God.
I wonder how He is capable of explaining my world in more clear terms (or probably less clear, knowing Jesus).
I wonder how I can change behaviours, even if only mental.
I wonder how relationships form and how they are destroyed.
I wonder how I relate to people.
I wonder at being isolated, forever.
To say I feel anguish would be inaccurate; it is far more similar to confusion, to reaching into a murky ocean and wondering what might be swimming amongst the coral or sand along the bottom.
Who Am I, and Why do I feel this way?
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I am reading Psalm 102 this morning & this catches my attention.
I spent Wednesday afternoon touring Alcatraz, the infamous prison in the San Francisco Bay. We took a boat over to the island, disembarked, and were instructed a bit in the history of this island. It was many things, including a military compound, before it became a prison. After after it was closed down by the city of SF because it was too expensive to run, Native Americans came in and took over the land. They were soon kicked out, and the island was taken under the city or state's national park program.
The rock was a prison for roughly 30 years, which is far shorter than I had realized. We toured everything from the warden's house to the social hall to the cell blocks to the recreation areas. The cell blocks were the most haunting. Al Capone was housed in Cell Block D, which was for the worst of these misled souls. There were cells in this block that were a decent size, but they weren't allowed out at all, unlike the other cell blocks. And then, there was solitary. Confinement without light for days on end.
Walter has written, or at least spoken to me, of the way that the prisoners were so isolated from society. If the wind blew just right, they might be lucky/unlucky enough to hear trailing sounds from the shore. It seems like these sounds would be both wonderful - connecting them to something from which they came, which they could remember - and horrible - reminding them of their extreme isolation.
This recent venture is why this verse from Psalm 102 called out to me as I was reading through it.
Our cries from the rock - the earth - are haunting, desperate, loud, frequent, and frustrated. God heard those cries and came after us, saving us from our own isolation. Our souls heard the soft, stealthy music coming from the other dimension in which we truly belong, and we consider ourselves lucky and unlucky to hear them. For they make us long for our true destiny, for our true nature and for our true God. But they also remind us how we have fallen and are not yet able to get to that other dimension.
Longing. Beauty and Hope in isolation. This is the difference between Alcatraz and Christianity. There was very little, if any, hope in Alcatraz. Even an escape to the exterior of the prison, which was near impossible, meant you were faced with about a mile swim in shark infested waters. If you were lucky. And if you weren't - and you were caught - you were punished with a ball and chain upon your return. Good luck swimming with that, the guards would say, smirking.
This has all been said before; I think that the reason I wanted to write about it was simply a better understanding of the desperation and separation of the Rock as compared to the Savior of Humanity.
Nobody hears the cries from the Rock.
The creator of the Universe hears the cries from this rock.
Meaningless humanity made ever important through Christ.
It seems that thus far, our flights have kept us semi-grounded in the day of the week, when we ARE able to remember. We know we leave for San Fran on Wednesday. We also leave for LA on Saturday (tomorrow) and for Fiji/Sydney on Monday, very late at night.
But what happens when our last real connection to a day disappears, following Wednesday (our connection to Sydney from Fiji)?
Walt told me today of a camp he attended where the attendees were required to give up their watches. They could tell approximate times from the sun, sure, but real connections with the exact time were lost. Only the counselors and/or coordinators of this camp were privy to such information.
I begin to wonder, as I continue to feel lost in my days, what relevance this has to the picture of life. Does it matter whether today is Monday, or Thursday? I have no real commitments once we leave the states, so what relevance do time and dates have for me, really? Do I need to keep a calendar with me, marking off my passing life, or is it more reasonable to simply be instead?
Do days matter?
I'm guessing that once LOST in Australia catches up with where we are (I think it's about 3-4 weeks behind), we will organize our weeks by Wednesdays.
It's very bizarre to feel so unaware of something that recently held such significance for my life.
And on we go...
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
My weary soul has traveled this road before
I stand at its start
Once again in awe at my re-arrival,
Convinced I took a different turn at the noted black rock this time
Apparently, more than one path returns this way.
I stand back, wary of wandering that way again
There are whispers on the wind;
There are deep voices calling, echoing my way
Even the wind seems to push me towards you
But I don’t know that I can return, retrace my steps another time
Oh she is the assertive & mighty one
As her hands pluck at my ego:
She is familiar with which chords wreck my soul
But I sing louder,
Louder than the tune she strums against my heart
And for a brief moment I have shut her down
Refusing to allow her presence,
Her reaction to affect my decision
The next maestro brings the orchestra into full volume
Crescendoing as I turn the benefits in my mind
The noise hardens my heart
And thus my heart throbs in time with the vocals of pride
Demanding vengeance and retribution for your wrongs
Exhausted from the battle of the symphonies,
I take a seat along the edge of the path
Lying back on the green, green grass
Letting wisdom, freedom and forgiveness
Arise to their proper position of Magi
They convene and converse
They frown, then smile
They lean in closely, debating wildly
As I simply watch with a bemused smile
Finally, clapping their hands in glee
They will now distribute and confirm
Their position on this decision
(which I’ve known for some time)
Their optimism shining through any doubt
While their realism advises a secure distance is prudent
And together, the four of us stride towards the far, far end of the path:
Quite a long road
And we are all indeed aware of the potential of death before arrival.
Regardless, we confidently set off on that route,
Our futures tightly bound by
- I live amongst the dragons and the warriors of the 21st century. I surround myself with both the peasants, the aristocrats; the knights and the maidens. For a long time (now quite in the past), I wove the structure of my life around the mold others saw for me. I've since learned to live for God and myself. Freedom comes and goes as I remember this lesson of mine. But my life is MY life: a series of events and remembering such. And this, this beautiful montage, is why I wake up every morning. God willing.