December 1, 2012

Magic

 

Lately I have been suffering from RookieBrain, which is what happens when I spend too many hours at a time on the Rookie Magazine website (for “research” purposes of course…I’m still working on my Creative Nonfiction piece) and then end up feeling panicked and lonely and weird. There are so many references I don’t recognize and too too too many links (to be fair, Rookie doesn’t actually have a lot of links…I just feel an over-dramatic sense of darkness after clicking on too many [i.e. 1-2] links. I call this more general condition InternetBrain… or “I JUST WANT TO STAY HERE IN THIS ONE PLACE OKAY?”). Also, I constantly wonder how these girls possibly have the energy to do everything they are doing, and why I, made of similar human stuff as them, can’t be more productive. This is a normal frustration, I think, and writing my Creative Nonfiction piece has really helped me feel like I’m not just drowning in my own passivity.

I found another partial remedy to RookieBrain: I’ve been submitting things to them! I have never ever been the type to “stick my neck out” (frankly that just seems like a stupid thing to do physically speaking), but something about sending an informal e-mail to a bunch of nice girls just seems easy. And the best part of submitting isn’t waiting to see if I accepted (I’ve already gotten one rejection from them and it wasn’t that bad!); it’s more the feeling like I am playing a teeny tiny role in this thing I have been immersing myself in for the past few months–this thing that feels so intimidating, and so “other.” It’s kind of like voting…you know your vote doesn’t technically make a difference, but it’s still empowering to participate in what’s going on. Bad analogy? Okay. Anyway, clearly I have lots of THOUGHTS and FEELINGS about this whole Rookie thing, so I am actually thinking about turning it into my Senior Thesis project for next semester.

Unrelatedly (actually, totally related but in ways not worth explaining), I am reading Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping for class right now and it is becoming one of my favorite books of all time. I don’t want to write about it yet because it’s too beautiful and sad (read: heart-cracking) and I am still in the middle of it. But today I got together with two of my friends from class who happen to be art majors (my favorite type of people), and we walked around in the rain talking about things that go with the book in our minds–photographs and songs and poems and letters. It was the best kind of afternoon, because people are infinitely better than the Internet.

 

P.S. The other night/early morning I woke up to the creature below–fully wrapped in the blanket–whispering my name from the doorway…the first of what now has become a series of  bizarre attempts by my roommate to “scare” me. She has enlisted everyone from her boyfriend to our other housemates as accomplices, but has yet to succeed. Pretty pathetic, seeing as I am a wimp.

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Too good to be told

September 27, 2012

I recently discovered the wonders of scanning! So I have been scanning collages lately, some old some new. I made this one a couple summers ago, I think. My love for tacky rainbow color schemes still runs strong.

 “Syme remembered those wild woes of yesterday as one remembers being afraid of a Bogy in childhood.” The Man Who Was Thursday

Last week for my Mysterious Fiction class, I re-read G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. And this time, I was even more struck by the “things are not what they seem”-ness of the story, and, more precisely, the “things are not nearly as terrifying as they seem”-ness.

Over and over, Gabriel Syme’s worst enemies take off their masks and become friends, and over and over, he reflects on how silly he was to ever have been afraid.

In a lot of ways I am still in the “yesterday” portion of the above quote, and still afraid of a few Bogies (bogy plural?) myself. Sometimes it’s hard for me to see beyond disguises, but every now and then I get a glimpse.

This Tuesday my priest drove to La Mirada to meet me for coffee, and I asked his advice about all this. I told him that I am afraid of a lot of things that I don’t need to be afraid of (and some things I’m just not sure if I need to be afraid of), but I don’t know how to stop. I went into our meet-up thinking that maybe if he just told me the right thing, or reminded me of a truth that I had forgotten, then I could stop being afraid.

But to my surprise, he told me that he wasn’t going to try to convince me that my Bogies weren’t real monsters. Instead, he told me to ask God for the gift of faith. He said it is very important for me to know that this is a gift–this faith, this ability to believe that things are not as they seem, even when we can’t see behind the disguises–and that asking God for it everyday is not the same as trying to muster it up everyday. My only task is to ask and wait.

Maybe the answers I want will come, and maybe something else will instead.

At the end of The Man Who Was Thursday, Chesterton leaves his readers with more questions than answers. Unlike the Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories we read earlier in the semester, the mystery in this book isn’t really ever solved. There are intricate hints, but I think one reason I love the book so much is that I am left with a sense that the mystery is too big for my small head.

A few weeks ago, my teacher read us an excerpt of an essay Chesterton wrote about the ending of the book of Job (where, instead of answering all of Job’s questions, God asks Job His own questions). Chesterton writes:

“Job has been told nothing, but he feels the terrible and tingling atmosphere of something which is too good to be told. The refusal of God to explain His design is itself a burning hint of His design.”

I think this is why Chesterton’s idea of a good mystery is so different from our classical idea of mystery. For Sherlock Holmes, reason correctly applied solves everything. For Chesterton, reason can only go so far before things start getting strange. But a good sort of strange, because the One behind the strange is good. As Chesterton says later in his essay,

“The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.