It has been hard to write.
It’s always hard for me to create anything in the summer…laziness, I think. But also, my thoughts have seemed less cohesive and more self-centered lately.
The other night, I had a dream (the non-narrative type… even worse than a nightmare) that my body was a word document. I work a lot with word documents at my new job… I have to highlight certain sections in different colors, copy and paste, substitute numbers in. So, when I was the word document, different parts of my body corresponded to different parts of the document, and the parts that I change at work were tingling. And in my dream, I knew if I could just copy & paste the right part to my body, it would stop tingling.
I am frustrated with words. I’ve been much happier with visual expression lately (I’ve been posting a few pictures here), but that’s frustrating too. I can’t seem to capture anything in any medium. It all feels skimpy.
I like the idea of charts, and so I’ve made a small one below. I would say what it is about, but I don’t really know, and that’s why it’s a chart and not a paragraph. I do know that I have been hyper-conscious of my age, and this chart is about things I have seen & done the past few weeks, and what age I have associated them with.
Madeleine L’Engle said once, “I am still every age that I have been.” This has felt most true to me this summer. (Also, I sometimes feel that I am still certain ages I haven’t been yet…i.e. middle age).
May 14, 2013
Last Tuesday, my group had our last Torrey session. We discussed the book of Revelation, and it was one of those sessions with lots of questions and few answers. Our professor pointed out that that’s a fitting way to end. I’m glad we still have graduation though (Torrey has its own graduation ceremony)…I don’t really feel like it’s over.
I just had my last class at Biola ever: bowling! My partner and I successfully advanced from last place to second-to-last place, and I couldn’t be happier.
Christian left for Europe this morning. I already miss him. (I’ve been watching a lot of Full House episodes since he left… for some reason, that helps.) I’m thankful we got to spend a lot of time together the past few weeks, though. We went to San Diego for our 3-year anniversary at the beginning of the month, and we’ve squeezed in a few mini-adventures since then too.
Cayucas played their first headlining show last week in LA, and I got to hang out backstage with them for a few hours before they went on. I’m so glad I got to do that, because now I have a much better picture of what Christian’s day-to-day life will be like over the next couple months. (In short, it will be long and loud and sweaty…but fun too, I hope.)
We spent his last night in California on his roof, skyping with his mom and step-dad…it was wonderful.
Yesterday I had my first day of training for my new job as an admin/proofreading assistant at a marketing firm. It was scary (I drove on the LA freeways by myself for the first time!) and overwhelming (I don’t know any marketing jargon!) and exciting (my own cubicle!).
Though I know I am extremely lucky to have skipped the post-grad-desperately-seeking-a-job phase that seems like a rite of passage these days, I am VERY nervous about jumping right into the 9-5 lifestyle (nervous that I will stop making things, nervous that I will watch TV every night, nervous that I will start living for the weekend). But, from the what I can tell, the people am I going to be working with might be just what I need in this transition: people who can teach me how to do excellent work, and then go home each day and live life in other ways.
Last night Christian took me out to dinner to celebrate my new job, and we talked about how fast everything is happening, and how we are both in places we never expected to be a few months ago. I say “both” because Christian just found out he is going to be on tour nearly all summer with the band he is in. There is a different type of nervousness that comes with that, but a similar “how the heck did I get here?” feeling.
Sometimes I get sad or scared when I think of how different our summers (and maybe our next year) will be—how unable I will be to relate to Christian’s stories of road-tripping and crowds and sound checks, and how unable he will be able to relate to mine of adjusting to the Mon-Fri routine. But one thing he reminded me last night: tomorrow is not mine to be sad or scared (or nervous) about. I keep forgetting.
Today, and for three more glorious weeks, I am still a student. I turned in my thesis (my creative nonfiction piece about Rookie magazine) this Monday, and even though it felt great to hand it in, I was also more than a little bit sad to be done… I learned so much from writing it. I still have one project left—a self-designed one about gender and faith—and two more Torrey sessions. Unfortunately, I seem to be immune to the whole “it was fun while it lasted, but I’m ready to be done” sentiment….
“Reality, be it of this world or another, is not something one finds and then retains for good. It must be newly discovered daily, and newly lost.” – Christian Wiman, “Gazing Into The Abyss”
Going into this semester, I was half-expecting to have some sort of crisis of faith. For the past few months in Torrey, we have read some of the toughest critics of Christianity, and they were much smarter than I am or will be. They gave logical, scientific explanations for everything from guilt to selflessness to pride. But for some reason, their explanations were not nearly as threatening as I expected.
There are a lot of reasons why this may be, one of the biggest being that I have read enough Christian authors by now to know that there are major-smarties on both sides, so I better think of a new criteria for judging who is right. But even that phrase “judging who is right” implies a sort of cold, reasonable approach that not only seems impossible (because the assumption that I have to brains to “judge” which of these geniuses is the most genius is pretty ridiculous), but also untrue to how I (and, I’m guessing, most people) make decisions.
I can’t really say why I have faith, because I’m not sure myself. I don’t know how much is a choice, and how much is a gift. Lately (that is, for the past year or so), it’s felt a lot more like the latter.
I hope each morning it is there, and it has been. Not in the same degree every day, but unmistakably there. I want it to be like this forever (it wasn’t always), but I suspect it’s just a season.
My prayer is that my faith grows truer, which doesn’t feel the same to me as stronger. Usually, it feels fragile. Maybe strength comes slowly over time, or maybe I will always be praying for whole-hearted belief.
The good news is, even small faith yields fruit.
“The force behind the movement of time is a mourning that will not be comforted. That is why the first event is known to have been an expulsion, and the last is hoped to be a reconciliation and return.” –Marilyn Robinson, Housekeeping
I shared this quote a few months ago, and I have been thinking about it lately—particularly about this “hope of reconciliation,” and what that means for my those in my church who are grieving.
Here’s what I can’t get past: hope does not cover over the visions of the swerve on a snowy road that means my friend’s marriage will only ever be 9 months long.
If I had one wish for her right now besides getting her husband back, it would be that she would never have to think of that moment, and its violence. I’m sure I will think of better wishes for her later—and maybe even have the courage to pray them—but for now that’s it.
Yesterday, I wondered what it means to remember the violence of Jesus’ crucifixion. Not just the injustice, or the sadness, or the ridiculousness of it all, but the ordinary violence. I didn’t try to; the thought has never seemed so ugly to me as now.
And yet I know remembering must somehow be good for my soul. I know that to hear Christ say to us each week at Communion, “This is my body, which is given for you,” implies a violence. And Christ showing Peter his scars means that this violence is not be undone or unremembered, but somehow healed.
Still, this doesn’t help me reconcile violence with goodness, or snowy roads with the end of a life. Things don’t seem to fit, and maybe that’s what “mourning that will not be comforted” means.
I have been home in Wheaton for about a week now, writing a lot but not much to share.
Two very sudden, too-soon deaths in our church community have left most of us heart-sore and tired.
There will be a funeral on Good Friday, and a funeral on Easter Sunday.
I know there is a lot to say about this time of year–about death being conquered and the hope of Resurrection–but I also know it is okay to not say these things right this minute.
Now, it’s okay to wonder if we should send flowers, to order pizza with sad friends, to pray sloppily over the phone, to ask for some kind of grace for the families who just want their boys back.
It’s been a rich few days, full of communion and truth and vulnerability, but of course, not at all worth the cost.
March 13, 2013
The last couple of days have been almost completely empty, which, seeing as I’m not watching TV, has meant sitting in my back yard reading for hours and hours. My housemates wander in and out of the house, cooking and chatting and doing homework, and these are my favorite types of days.
Christian is playing at South by Southwest (a music festival in Texas) this week, and I love getting his behind-the-scenes texts about how these things work. I’ve told him more than once that I cannot imagine how someone could possibly like “playing a show”—that is, deciding what to do with your arms and legs for an hour on stage in front of a bunch of strangers—but I’m so glad that he does, and that he is getting to do it so much more than he imagined. And even though I sometimes wish I could go with him (like in May, when he tours in Europe, for example), I am also extremely happy to sit here in the sun with my books.
I spent Monday with G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, and yesterday with Christina Rosetti’s poetry. Monday was a much more enjoyable day, partly because I do not read poetry well, and partly because Ms. Rosetti loves to write about death. (A topic which, if I may digress for a little bit, I decided to embrace yesterday [much easier to do outside in the sun]…I was thinking about what it means to view life well [in light of death, that is], and I realized Lent can speak to this question. Lent is about loving good things [even big good things, like life] in a good way…holding things tightly without breaking or smothering them. I’m almost positive I’ve read and heard this idea before—that Lent is able learning how to live well and die well—but coming to it organically was nice.) (Also, I really am sorry for all the parenthesis and dashes and ellipses… I just don’t know how else to say things.)
ANYWAY, I loved Orthodoxy. I tried to read it a few years ago but got caught up on all the modern philosophy stuff, so this time around—after just having read a lot of the guys Chesterton is directly addressing—was much better. There were so many parts to love, and I will maybe write about it for my next hundred blog posts, but for now, I want to share just one idea.
At the end of his book, Chesterton takes a few pages to talk about the grounds on which he submits to Christianity as a faith: “that is, that the Christian Church in its practical relation to my soul is a living teacher, not a dead one.”
In light of this, he says,
Since I have accepted Christendom as a mother and not merely as a chance example, I have found Europe and the world once more like the little garden where I stared at the symbolic shapes of cat and rake; I look at everything with the old elvish ignorance and expectancy. This or that rite or doctrine may look as ugly and extraordinary as a rake; but I have found by experience that such things end somehow in grass and flowers.
And later, “I have come into my second childhood.”
And whereas a few years ago none of this would have made sense to me, now it is just so beautiful. I don’t know from where or when this wonder he is talking about came to me, but I know I have some of it—I recognize his words.
Sometimes I am afraid I will wake up and not know it anymore, but I think I will be okay even then. It’s enough to have it, even for a little while. And even if it could be stored up and saved for later, that not only seems irreverent…it also ruins all the fun.
Here are some photos from two weekends ago, when Christian and I drove up to Monterrey to camp with my sister, Kelsey, and brother-in-law, Tim. By the time we arrived at the campsite on Friday night, tents were magically set up, food was out, and Tim was chopping wood for the fire… a pretty accurate picture of how the rest of the weekend went (we were so spoiled).
My favorite part of the trip was eating and talking by the fire each night, and then going to sleep to the sound of the 10pm trumpet-song from the camp (?) nearby. A close second was Toby, Tim and Kelsey’s dog, running furious circles around our tents sporadically and with no warning (a phenomenon which T & K have dubbed “Toby time”).
This past Friday, I had my final simulation for a Rape & Aggression Defense Systems class I’ve been taking at Biola… easily the most anxiety-inducing thing I’ve ever had to do for a class. Each of us girls in the class was led into a room alone with our eyes closed while 7 men (RADS experts that come in for the day) jeered at cackled at us. We were allowed to open our eyes and start fighting when we felt the first person attack us… and let me tell you, waiting for that first move was AWFUL. When I went, my first guy bear-hugged me from behind and pulled me to the floor with him, which happens to be the only move we didn’t practice in class. But I head-butted him a few times (we were both wearing padding) and it was all a blur from there. I think I only had to face two more men after that, and I mostly knee-ed them in the groin. My teacher (also the Campus Safety chief at Biola) was waiting at the door to give me a high-5, and I vaguely remember barreling into him a little too enthusiastically.
Even though it was terrifying and I’d been having stress-dreams about it for days beforehand, it was very, as they say, “empowering.” None of us girls wanted to go into that room, but we were all so glad that we did. The whole experience fits weirdly into my Rookie project (I am continuing my piece into this semester as my Torrey Senior Thesis), because it was one of those rare moments where I was extremely aware of, and proud of, my female-ness.
Also, all the days I spent watching Alias over interterm finally paid off…I just pretended I was Sidnay Bristow, and that made screaming “No!” over and over at the top of my lungs seem way cooler. Plus, for real, some of the moves we did I definitely recognize from the show.
Which brings me to the other topic of this post…I gave up TV for Lent. And life is worse without TV. TV is my primary de-stresser, one of the only times where I feel like I can actually STOP THINKING (which also means I watch it to fall asleep each night), and I MISS TV. I especially missed it the night before my RADS simulation.
But missing is okay—actually, it’s good, I think, for the purposes of Lent. I feel far from understanding Lent, but one helpful thing my priest said about giving up good things for a season is this: “We are only free to enjoy things from which we are also free to abstain; fasting develops the ability to say no and, thus, the ability to say yes in the right way.”
And here is one thing I am learning: saying no is empowering! Kind of like learning how to best defend yourself is empowering! I promise I am not making that connection just to make this blog post coherent…Maybe I just have too much time to think these days…
February 18, 2013
I turned 23 at In-N-Out, and I think that means this next year will be wonderful.
I was with some of my housemates, on our way home from seeing Christian play in a REAL LIVE SHOW, with tickets and lights and a big audience (including Queen Latifah!). This show was one of Cayucas’ (the band C. plays guitar in) last on a West Coast Tour with Ra Ra Riot. It was fun to see him on stage, and even more fun to see strangers dancing to the songs I have had stuck in my head for months now. He also exaggeratedly blew me a kiss after their last song, which killed me in more ways than one.
The day of my birthday happened to be the one day of the week Christian was in town and not playing a show, so we decided to go on an all-afternoon drive. We followed Mullholland Highway through the Santa Monica mountains, and down to Malibu beach. We stopped a lot along the way to take pictures or climb hills, and it was dreamy.
Somewhere in the mountains Christian asked me what I hoped for for my 23rd year, and I told him I hope for another year of living slowly and being present where I am. I am starting to feel the rush of the future in a lot of ways…people asking me things like when Christian & I are going to get married, or what kind of career I want to have. And even though those are sometimes good questions to ask, I don’t feel like I have enough room in me to be a great student and a great housemate and a great girlfriend if I am day-dreaming about what I might be next.
I worry that people might see me as apathetic, or that my five-years-later self will want to come back and bonk current me upside the head, but those worries feel manageable right now. And worth it too, to stay in this place where I feel like I have room to grow braver and wiser and more loving, I hope.