December 31, 2009

Conscience

First of all, it's not right that I haven't posted here for a week. Secondly, I have thought a lot, really I have. But with going places and trying to work on a gazillion things that I still have to do and with internet down, I have a few excuses.

In other news, I've decided I'm going to delete my mojo music. I'm saying this here so I can't change my mind. I think this was influenced by two things: One, for Christmas my parents gave me permission to listen to music without it having to be approved. And I realized that it was up to me to determine if my music consumption was moral - both in the content of the songs and the means by which I got them. Also, I was reading "The Enemy Within" (by Kris Lundgaard, if you're interested; I recommend it) and it suggested I ask God to reveal the worst sins He can find. (No, it's not like it put me on an artificial guilt-trip.) But I thought about the music I've gotten that I haven't paid for in the least. Music that I have no idea how many people it has been shared with. Music from artists I already like that swayed me to not pay money to buy their CDs and encourage what they're doing.

I can't listen to some of my CDs without realizing I have a problem with it. Before I had thought about it, I didn't mind. But now that I've considered, and realized that I don't have a clear conscience about mojo music, I can't listen to it, or let it sit in my library anymore. "Knowledge, no doubt, made the bad people worse, but it must make the good people better!" (Lilith). I'm going to delete it once I get home to my computer.

Today I scrolled through my iPod and wrote down all the albums and songs that I still don't want to live without, so I can get them legally. I think I am going to be quite a bit poorer after all of this is over. (Though I'll try to see what gift certificates and such I can use.) But it will also encourage me to listen to my Dad's collection of music, or our classical CD's, and make me value the music I listen to more. Plus, a lot of the music I have I don't listen to anyway. I may also get a Pandora account.

Life feels a lot more free.
(Now that is a little ironic since the music is far from it.)

December 23, 2009

I Capture the Castle

I wrote this in the car right after I finished reading I Capture the Castle, and figured that since Hayley and Lilly have already posted their thoughts on the novel, I might as well. . .

The first thing I have to get off my chest about I Capture the Castle is that I resented Cassandra for maybe a third - the middle third - of the book. Reading the book was terribly addictive but seemed to give me a headache.

But now I wish to talk about the end. It was sad, but true, if I agreed with where Dodie Smith was coming from. I don't understand what this book means about romance. I don't know if love is something where there can be only one "right one." I think there's a good deal of intertextuality going on between this and 500 Days of Summer. I wonder sometimes if God puts stories and poems in our path in a certain way so as to help us understand them. But of course God controls the universe.

I could go and draw parallels between Tom and Cassandra, or Summer and Rose, or I don't know who. I'm really not sure how similar they are except in bittersweet message, or the idea of a soulmate.

I Capture the Castle reminded me of Emily's Quest, by LM Montgomery. They were both kind of girly books, and the old-fashioned but passionate ... setting? mood? style? was similar. So was the mixing of couples.

There were many beautiful thoughtful tings in ICTC, quotes I wrote down. Cassandra's observations on life were very astute. And then the section on her father's writing was fascinating. I admire Dodie Smith for revealing and thinking through another story in addition to her own. Dodie Smith writes very well.

I think the reason I resented Cassandra was because she judged everything's rightness by whether or not she truly loved the guy. I don't think that standard is completely off, but it seemed to ignore a higher, nobler law. Maybe I was annoyed that God didn't matter to her much. The part about God and religion was enlightening though I disliked her claim that fixing your eyes on God makes you miss seeing things and live life less fully.

I found the characters amazing - it truly was a world inside the book and the people had distinct personalities yet depth to who they were. I think my favorite character was Topaz. I don't think I particularly identified with her, except perhaps the communing with nature thing, (though I'm hesitant to claim that as my own; it seems lots of people like being in nature the way I do) but I found her very interesting. And now that I've decided she's my favorite character it will be very hard to change my mind: that's how impressions are.

When Simon was talking about how the image and reality color each other, I suddenly thought that this book must be in a way mine - for the very same idea, or at least a rudimentary form of it, is crucial to why I wrote my NaNo novel (which is still in need of a decent title). I have kind of strayed from writing about ICTC and started on myself. That means I'm mostly done.

I shall close with a few summary thoughts: it was beautifully written, rather insightful, and quite contradictory to my way of life. I wonder how far into the future I'll be able to see the things this book has taught me.

December 21, 2009

I’ve been reading I Capture the Castle because it’s hard to bring the computer in the car to read Micah’s novel. I wondered if perhaps I should journal like Cassandra Mortmain, that is, record my daily experiences. Not that they are quite novel-worthy. I wonder (and see, here’s another place we are different – Cassandra doesn’t wonder the same way I do.) . . . But now I’ve forgotten what I wondered.

Right now I am on the porch of a darling little chalet on the East Coast of Malaysia. This is not to be confused with East Malaysia, a section almost as big, or bigger than the mainland (peninsula). East Malaysia contains the states of Sabah and Sarawak, and is connected to a large island. But we’re not there, we’re here. I’m here, at the chalet. Strangely enough, this resort is run by a Dutch immigrant. It was so peculiar to drive into the gated-in area where we’re staying, with about seven chalets in it, and see people with white skin and blonde hair. I caught a tiny glimpse of why so many people stare at us. Not because they’re trying to be rude, but simply because we stand out.

I suppose I should explain what I mean by chalet, but it’s rather boring. Brown, wooden, carved, one room, like a hotel room but a house unto itself. It has air conditioning (oh joy!) and even better, a Western-style toilet. (:laughs:)

Someone – maybe a shopkeeper – yesterday commented that I look like a Malay. Oh, I remember who it was now – the man at the counter to the Handcrafts museum. I like thinking I look Malay, only if I really want to fit in I ought to buy a whole bunch of headscarves. B-)

It’s lovely hearing my Dad make conversation with a bunch of people and following half of what they’re saying. It gives me such pleasure to go to a shopkeeper and ask, “Berapa harga ini?” (How much is the price of this?) When I heard someone ask if “adik anda cakap Melayu” (your children speak Malay) I was already thinking of how I would reply. All I could think of was kecil, which means small, but later when I asked Dad he told me I should say “sedikit,” a little.

This language stuff is only mildly useful and a little bit of the excitement about it is self-aggrandizing, so I suppose I’ll stop. What else. . .

Oh! The sky is beautiful right now, dawn is breaking. I want to step off the porch to see. Roosters have been crowing for the past ten minutes.

I can’t see the sun yet, but oh, it’s wonderful. The sky is a purply-lavender color, mostly, or rather, the large clouds are, and the sky is a very light shad of a glowing pink, almost white.

I love seeing palm trees all around. This kind of journaling rather seems like the first part of a letter. I like to tell people where I am and what I just did. Then I move on to what I’m thinking about, or responding to what they said. Right now, I’m not thinking very much - I could go back to the house and pull out my notebook and write about something there, but I really don’t want to. I want to prolong this time here, before everyone is up and it’s time for breakfast.

I just thought about when I’ll have the chance to type this up and it made me think about how differently we write when there’s an audience. Because sure, I’m journaling – feel a tad bit like a reporter – but all of this is clearly to you. Like a letter, as I said earlier.

I just must say that I like Malaysia. Even love it. The weather, the scenery, the language.

One day I think I should capture a very different side of Malaysia, tell you what it’s like to wander through the smelly wet market, or pas food stalls, trying to figure out what to order. Yes, the food certainly deserves to be written about. But I’m afraid I ought to go inside and get ready for breakfast. Today we’re boating on a creek/river. Yesterday we made batik. I shall have to show you my scarf. I keep writing because I can’t think of a way to sign off. I’ll use the sign off of the NaNoWriMo pep talk lady who wrote by hand.

Best! Love!

(at least I think that’s what it was. Wouldn’t it spoil it if I misremembered?)

December 19, 2009

quite a few things happened today
but the only one i care to say
is that the pages of my notebook are frankly falling out
so i don't know if i should write in it anymore
and i am over-dramatizing about
an everyday happening that has never occurred before

December 15, 2009

Moleskine [except I don't really have a friend named Lina]

There's a type of notebook that's classy and thin
I once believed that it was addressed as a Moleskin
One day I heard a friend of mine
Call his book a Moleskyne
Later a page on my laptop's screen
Declared that it was a Moleskeen
Yet I owe my current knowledge to a friend name Lina
Who informed me that the notebook was actually Molahskeenah.

December 13, 2009

"Awake, O sleeper, arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

Keep me awake,
Aware of your conviction, able still to weep
Oh, for your sake
End encroaching night with your eternal day
Fruitless trouble it would take
To glue my tired eyes open and determine not to sleep
So I beg you, make
Me alive, and send my weariness away
Keep me awake.

time for expression

I put a lot of stock into stream-of-consciousness writing. My best poems, I think, are ones I felt were given to me, like a phrase or image or feeling dropped into my consciousness and all I had to do was to describe it and elucidate further.

When I feel like writing, I generally make time to write. When full of inspiration, I create. So that makes sense.

I think of one of Mary Claire's poems I read today: a line jumped out at me. "but more rich than you might think / that had tears to spare for poetry". That's me. I live with the luxury of being able to write, think, weep. Then I think about something Lilly said at the round robin, that people who are really successful know how to get over themselves, and not waste time. I don't know if it's bad of me to be so tied to a creative life.

There are so many things that cry for my attention, but it's usually poetry and writing that is spoiled if I don't feel it anymore. That's why I give them such precedence. I think I may be forgetting what the point of this blog post was: perhaps to express my sadness at how hard it is to manage everything, feeling especially. I wonder how you people be productive.

Things fall apart

It seems the world is falling into pieces. Everything lasting is found in God alone.
It seems all we can do is to tell people about Him, and to ignore all else, everything passing.

Aristotle races to the rescue, telling of essences within things and purposes in physical objects. I think of this world as a place for God’s will to be done; miraculously, bewilderingly, we can pray “your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven." Restoration.

The purpose of morality to return us to how we are, or as some understand it better, as we should be. But the ought or the will is only the truest is. No being here is complete until perfect, every imperfect thing is not fully existent, because it is partially filled with Nothing.

But things fall apart! How can we win? Will this world not go down in flames? What world is lasting?

I do not believe a fatalistic mindset strikes at the heart of what this world is like, saying that there will death and destruction and doom, so put your faith in God. While that may be true in a sense, I rather think we should our faith in God because of the LIFE he gives. But will we, can we, look upon the goodness of the Lord here, in the land of the dying life? Or must we wait until we come to the other side of judgment, into the living death, where we have died into everlasting life? I do not understand if this world is good; I do not understand what our role is to make it better. How can we glorify an everlasting unchanging perfect God through actions in an imperfect fallen world?

Things fall apart.

December 11, 2009

Because I'm afraid that I cannot live without friends

then flung
hard glaring unknowing
praising encouraging inflating

and all I want is to live truly

so clung
warm comforting communing
advising urging humbling

but all I want
is to live truly.

December 6, 2009

song of myself

Some days I think I want to abolish self-reference.
It's like I don't want to write my memories from the last round robin because it just means thinking about myself, or going back to something I've already thought about, already shared as much as I needed to. The last two days were full, and wonderful, and I feel like today is such a vastly different day, and I see the world so differently, even though I doubt that one good night's rest can really change much.

What am I saying? Only that repeating what I felt over the past two days seems unnecessary, this is today, and I want a break from the selfless selfishness that I seemed to wander through. I wonder why this happens, why I seem to zoom out of myself for a moment, but then later find that I still haven't seen people as they are? And so many times I don't even succeed in getting my mind off myself, my very words and actions all go to reinforce my belief that my mind and opinion is vastly interesting. Or maybe its just that I want attention for myself. (This question I may have discussed with a few of you already.)

Even as I think that don't want to think about whether or not I'm cynical, because it starts me thinking that more is right with me than truly is, I am writing it on this blog and again drawing attention to it.

This is why I think that I should stop blogging, or stop speaking about my thoughts. Except I don't really think that, because I want to share my thoughts so strongly. Now I think about a thought I had that seemed to resolve this. We are one body, one mind. I don't need to talk about myself. And yet I still am talking about myself.

Some days I think I want to be with people always so I can not have only myself to compare things to.

It's so hard to stop myself talking about my own perspective. Then I think about what is true reality, the verse that I'm trying to hold to, and that seems contrary to my current train of thought. Philippians 3:8: I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. . .

It doesn't seem to make sense to me. How do I count something as loss? I think I should stop thinking about it, not put too much value into it, at least in comparison to the worth of the knowledge of God. If knowledge of God is being known by God, then it should be right if I tell God everything about myself. And yet that seems backwards, just going back to self-reference.

I'm afraid I don't know what I'm saying anymore. How can I know one day, and the next be knowledgeless? And how can I ever claim to care about people?

Do I feel guilty for being so happy over the past few days? Do I regret that all that happiness was because people, and words, and God were making me happy? I don't know what I want, or if I should desire to forget myself. I guess I should be glad that every day isn't a tournament day, so real life can remind me that I'm not as important as people treat me.

And yet that isn't it either, is it?

December 1, 2009

I feel like I'm very nearly mad, barely holding on to my sanity.
Tomorrow is a community presentation and I have lines and introductions and transitions to stuff into my mind.
Don't mention the round robin, I'm not ready for that either.
Sorry, Enoch, for not critiquing your cases, I didn't forget you. You don't even read my blog.
My ReCAPs are not finished yet.
One day I will wake up and realize that I do not have enough time to finish everything. For now I can pretend.
This is why I haven't finished editing my novel and haven't sent it to you. Please don't be too harsh.
I can't think of what else to say and I should go back to work anyway.

November 28, 2009

Figuring out what I think about CFC.

I've been thinking about interning a lot lately, what with Kristen back home, full of stories and thoughts and things she's learned. Even while I'm quite involved in other ICC activities,
I seem to have an idea in my mind that Communicators for Christ isn't "my thing." I'm trying to find out if CFC's mission is central enough to what I think is important. This is what I see:

"Lead the Escape" is central.
"Awakening: Rise Up. Reach Out." matters.
I think about these themes all the time. Everything in CFC related to the theme I can identify with, because the theme is about living, and loving people. I care about inspiring people.

It is not central to critique speeches and use the three-second-rule. But it is central to communicate a message.
It is not central to go into nursing homes in order to get things checked off. But it is central to be a presence in the community, and be a tangible demonstration of God's love to the culture. Being Jesus to people matters.

Reforming M&M packages, teaching stock issues, knowing about debate theory or the topic is not central. But they aid the purpose of debate. They help people learn to think critically and find truth. They teach people to be conversant in big issues that do matter, and to be larger, deeper people.

Living - living for God's glory - being freed from ourselves - being free from sin - all matter. Words are (some of) the tools with which we tell people about these truths. ICC is about learning to communicate what matters to others.

My question seems to be, if the truth matters, do the words that describe it matter as well?
Maybe I would be better off teaching knowledge - philosophy or worldview - rather than the way of speaking about knowledge. CFC is a metalanguage organization, it seems.
Lets disregard the slight hypocrisy I would run into by *speaking* to others about knowledge while disregarding the critical influence that public speaking training has given me, and try to answer if the words matter.
If our communication is broken, it doesn't matter how beautiful our minds are. Words matter, because truth matters. Is it selfish of me to want to live truly and tell people about truth, without also caring that they know how to communicate well?

Maybe my calling isn't teaching people how to communicate. But what strikes me is that the interns don't just talk about talking. They actually live lives of love towards others and they use their communication abilities to inspire people to BE. They speak what is good and right and wonderful and freeing, even as they give practical tools for others to do the same. They pass on practical skills that everyone can implement. Whatever sphere of knowledge or skill you are interested in, to take that past yourself, to inspire people, you need to know how to communicate.

Am I selfless enough to set aside my burden to teach others to live lives that express God's love to the world?

Just now I realized that I'm writing as if I have a particular burden, as if I even know what I would talk about, if not talking about talk. I think about my love for philosophy, and apologetics, and art. And I think that philosophy is something that comes with living, and interning would expose me to new situations, and deepen my life. As for apologetics and art, they are types of communication themselves.

Now I'm thinking about something I thought of a few days ago. I was saying to myself that I love being but have difficulty with doing. But there are some types of doing that are simply being enlarged. Joy in Christ flows into love for others, expressed in words, becoming action in community speaking, in conversations, in service. The only reason I find difficulty with doing is because I am not fully a whole person. Thought should inspire action. If it does not, perhaps the thought is to blame.

So I think I have decided what I think: ICC's mission is important. Interning is not just about teaching public speaking. Interns communicate truth, both in their lives and speeches, and vicariously, through the hundreds of students they inspire. All the metatalk is only to aid the message itself, to further the purpose of speaking the truth in love.

I have a lot of praying and growing up to do before I decide if I should intern. I have to think if teaching communication for four months is the best way to use my gifts, passions, time. But at least now I think I understand interns better. For that, I am thankful.

November 24, 2009

playing with words

Sometimes I think that my nickname should be Becca-becca, because my name is Rebecca, or Becca again.

I also wonder if "revelation" has anything to do with reveling in wisdom.

I am feeling so joyful today, thinking about how we are the fullness of Him who fills all in all. That as the body of Christ, we express his nature.

It brought to mind a quote from Lilith I wrote down a few days ago, "God created me - not out of Nothing, as say the unwise, but out of His own endless glory." So, everything that I do should be a re-presentation of his glory. Yet another reason why the purpose of life is to glorify God. :)

November 23, 2009

Broken to the next level of completion.

It is 11:46 pm right now, the twenty-third of November, the year 2009.
And on this date in history, I finished my first draft of my novel.

Now I just need to find out who wants to read it when it's edited, in a tactful way that lets everyone know that I love my book a lot, but it has boatloads of flaws. And I'm a little afraid of reading it myself, so I'm even more so afraid of you people reading it. But I still want you to, you know?

Or I could just not ask and give it to people who have asked me. I can't make up my mind.

*post*

I don't wanna talk about it.

At least, that's how I feel sometimes, because I guess it feels awkward to talk about my shortcomings. But I am talking about it, talking about my own confusion about talking.

See, today before philosophy class began, I was talking with another student about the beliefs of a general culture. I'm not sure how it came up, really. But he was saying that today's America is more global, and we're moving away from the consumerism phase. I wasn't sure about that, and said that it's hard to generalize an overall temperature of a nation or culture because individuals live so differently. Then he asked what my specific philosophy of life was, and I was confused. I didn't know if he meant what I believed, which I have talked about with him before, or how I lived my life, or what my personality was, or what. So I asked him what he meant, and what his philosophy of life was, and he talked about learning, integrity, respect. Then I understood, and immediately my mind jumped to principles I try to live by- "I devote my life to truth." "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself." But class began and I didn't have a chance to say.

Part of me thinks that I'm passing up opportunities to speak for Christ, and that I should be more bold. I berate myself for not just answering the question, and hesitating. But part of me says it doesn't matter (oh, but it does!) and that it's better to simply try to understand, and to understand... I don't have to think of witnessing like a game where I score points by mentioning Jesus' name. I don't know which, if either, is right.

Fast forward about an hour, and in class we're talking about philosophy of mind, and Descartes' mind-body dualism. One student- this is a guy who has told me he wants to become a pastor- challenges that, and says that they have to be connected. My professor returns him saying, "Shouldn't the Christian view be that they are separated? After you die, your soul is supposed to keep living?" I wonder about this- if its the soul or the spirit that goes to heaven. But before I have a chance to think seriously about it, the student responds. He says he's a Seventh Day Adventist, and he believes the soul is made up of spirit plus matter (what I think of as "body"). He says every person has a "spirit of life" and a body. I think to myself that "spirit of life" sounds new agey and unBiblical. The student launches into a long explanation of how he thinks the parts of a person interact, and I'm lost. I feel like Christianity got misrepresented, and I wasn't there ready to give a defense...

This bothers me. I think that a bit of what he said is wrong, but what could I have said? How can I speak truth and correct misconception when I don't the answer myself?

Some of the answers to my questions I think I may already know. I should know that being Christ's witness doesn't require us to know everything, only to love. But I still want to be knowledgeable and believe sound doctrine and be able to answer people's questions. I want my beliefs to be logically consistent and I want to be able to compare the philosophy spelled out in the Bible to what I'm learning in class.

The fact is that I just don't know how the mind and the body and the soul and the spirit interact. Some things I can be fairly certain about- that the spirit is what communicates with God. "Now you have been given not the spirit of the world, but the spirit who is from God, that you might understand the things freely given us by God." (1 Cor 2:12) But is the spirit part of us? And is it also our essence? Or is the *soul* the essence?

Part of this is confusion about definitions, and part of it is just not knowing how the parts interact, regardless of what you call them. Even if I could get everything explained in the Bible straight, I still don't think I'd be able to comprehend how exactly a mind or a spiritual being can influence a physical body. Descartes' explanation about a "pineal gland" in the brain doesn't really answer anything for me. But these are all philosophical questions that are overshadowed by the difficulty that really is troubling me.

I wonder how to crystallize this difficulty: I think it's mostly a fear that I am not communicating for Christ effectively in my class.
Maybe I'm afraid Matthew 10:20 isn't true for me. ("For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.")

Pray for me?

November 22, 2009

"and my love slowly answered I think so."

Just now I felt my heart caught in my throat when I opened up a little book called "Fairy Tales" by e. e. cummings. Not because of the words that I read, but because of his punctuation. No commas after semi-colons or commas, was the first thing I think I noticed in the random page. Somehow it struck me, the intentional misuse of punctuation.

I've seen this before in e. e. cummings. This past week I started reading a book of his poetry. All the knowledge I had about him before I began was some conception in my mind that he never capitalized. Well, that's not true. He uses capitalization and punctuation and spacing oh so intentionally. Sometimes the i's are capitalized, sometimes not. And when they are not, they look so humble and unpretentious, so earthy and honest.

I think my favorite poem of his so far begins "All in green went my love riding/ on a great horse of gold/ into the silver dawn." The rhythm and the echoes in that poem are wonderful.

The poem that really made me think begins "suppose / Life is an old man carrying flowers on his head." They don't have titles, if you haven't noticed. The metaphors in this poem are fascinating. He refers to himself as "i" and Life and Death with capital letters, and when his love speaks, she capitalizes her I. The end is the best part, though it only makes sense in the context of the whole poem.

Read them, do. Or at least the first one, which as I said is my favorite. And for anyone who is wondering, the title is a quote from the second.

I gotta say I love e. e. cummings's writing. So, so, much. I don't care that he breaks rules. (and maybe I love him for it, because it's so tastefully done)

November 20, 2009

This is what happens when I stop caring about plot. :D (not-edited nano snippet)

“Would you like to meet my family?” Adrienne finally asked. Corrie turned down a corner of the city with Adrienne’s invitation, and they walked together for a short while until they came to an open door and a smiling mother holding a baby.

“This is my mother,” adri said. “And my baby brother, Norin.”

A smile played on Corrie’s lips. She loved little children, babies especially. “Can I hold him?” she asked.

“You may,” answered Adri’s mother, smiling and with small fady eyes that seemed not to see, and with a yellowish-peachy face. She passed Corrie the child, and Corrie held him with as skillful hands as an eleven-year-old could have. She looked at his face, and saw in it not the usual sweetness that most babies seemed to have, but rather a fierce expression was on his face. His hair spiked out in rebellious blond streaks, and his hand clutched something tightly. Corrie thought it was a stick, but upon closer inspection, she realized it was no stick from a tree but rather a twisted knot of straw, matching his hair. Norin was an interesting sort of fellow, seeming to embody the phrase, “angsty peasant.”

“How old is he, Adrienne?” Corrie asked, not saying any of her first impressions about the child.

Adri’s mother answered quickly instead, saying, “He’s four months old.” Adrienne piped up to add to that. She said, “the little dear. Isn’t he sweet, Corrie?”

Corrie was strangely repulsed by their affection: perhaps it was the mother’s manner that turned her off, perhaps it was her own personal struggles that clouded her vision, but she did feel put off. She held it in again- it was strange, recently she had seemed to say so little, when she was usually so impatient and spoke whenever she had the chance. But that wasn’t quite true, either, she thought again. She was quite quiet around her family. Strange… But as she thought all of this, she heard her own voice say, “he is.” Her voice, come to save her when her mind was somewhere else. It did that often, and she felt as if she had accidentally lied.

“Well, let me show you and let you meet the rest of my family,” Adri said, brightly, seeming not to notice Corrie except as a general human who could see her treasures. Adrienne clearly loved her family a great deal, and was proud of them, she thought highly of them, even more so than she did of the general public, whom she already thought much of. Adrienne was an affectionate and impulsive child, but ultimately a loyal one. She was ready to care about whoever needed help, although sometimes her love got in the way seeing people clearly. Ah, subtext, ah situation, ah the blindness of touchy-feely people.

Corrie walked through another room, through the humble little house. Adrienne, like a museum curator, pointed to a room with an open door. “This is my sister’s room,” she said. “Can I go in?”

“Yes, I don’t think she would mind. Right now she is probably outside.”

Corrie stepped into the room and as soon as she entered, her eyes were captured by the posters on the brown walls. Or rather, they were paste-on letter, in various fonts, sprawled, scribbled, sprayed, dancing and speaking on the walls, for all who saw her to see, but yet frozen there as a solid expression of the sister’s mind.

Corrie wanted to read every word they said, but first asked Adri what her sister’s name was. “Lynne,” she said.

Then Corrie returned to read the splash. The first word that jumped out at her was “love.” Then she read the phrase that it belonged to: it said, “SiNG ThiS LOVESiCK MELODY.” And in curly purple letters on the left side of the room, she read, “please. don’t. let. me. go.” Gold paint illustrated the words, “call my name if you’re afraid, I’m just a kiss away.” Corrie turned her head around, her eyes swimming with the words… It was like poetry that she could not get her mind into. Bewildering, soaring above her, every word shooting into her being, nearly overwhelming her with its sweetness and the emotions Corrie had never felt.

please. don't. let. me. go.

(do you miss the way the world was spinning for us?)

[ save your heart for someone who leaves you

breathless ]

>>so satisfying &+ i'm still smiling<<

{this was supposed to be the easy part...

all my love will slowly fade and fall apart.

someone, please.

SiNG THiS LOVESiCK MELODY.

call my name if you're afraid,

i'm just a kiss away.}

And they danced above her, they soared and twisted in Lynne’s mind, only Corrie could not reach them. She felt again like an unknowing, unwise, eleven year old. What was this ­love that she had not known? What was this longing? What was this existence? Did Lynne really believe everything she wrote? Who was the one she was lovesick about? Why would she splatter such fragile sayings into permanent paint?


And at the same time as her pause and hesitation and wondering, she was drawn to it, drawn to the passion! The depth, the color, the life. She felt as if this heart – love – pain – joy – emotion – was all about something that she had not known, but desperately wanted to experience. It was all as if (this was all she could compare it to, really) she was being nudged by the warm face of a horse, coming up to her side and touching her. Or, maybe it was more like the breathless feeling she got when she was running outside and came home to a warm and toasty house. No, that was not it. But all of it was warmth, not a stagnant heavy warmth but a thrilling and sudden warmth, a rush of feeling, the magic of closeness and knowledge and blind touch.


“Are you coming?” Adrienne said, interrupting Corrie’s stares and symphony.


“Yeah,” Corrie answered, and shut the door, closing the colorful fascinating world.

November 19, 2009

>Love<

Isn't it amazing, that word?
Sometimes I see it and think it's cliche.
Love.
By itself it looks a little weak, another Christianese word that people use all the time. Love one another, love the Lord, we're trying to love people, let's make our words communicate love, use love-on as a verb, etc. etc. etc.

But then... sometimes I see it in sentence and am struck by it. Serfy, I hope you don't mind if I use you as an example. In Serfy's status today: "did I ever tell you I love underclassmen? :) <3" Something inside of me starts gushing about it.
Love!
It rings around in my mind. Oh, how wonderful that people in this world care for each other and have friendships and attachments!

Then other times I use it without really thinking. "I love my philosophy professor." "I love Switchfoot." "I love art." I love this, I love that. So, it's just another overused word of my own excitement. It's strange for me to think about how the sentence sounds when I turn it around, somehow rearranging words helps me see meaning better sometimes. Why do I love my philosophy professor?
Love.
Do I really mean it? Can I mean it? How can I say I love someone who I really don't know all that well? Even people who I do care about, how can I claim it?

And then I think about romantic love. Part of it is related to the cheesy romantic songs I sometimes hear. But I don't mean love in that way, that's cliche. Or maybe it's not even romantic love that I'm thinking about? I don't know. But the word "love" sometimes just thrills me. It's something that I can only describe in metaphors, and continually circle around, never getting into... I think of passion and longing for another human soul... It's like the warmth of being close to someone in heart or in body or both, combined with the shivers that only occasionally pass through me when I think about the newness and strangeness of it all. Now this is degenerating into nonsense, see description about love is very hard. I seem to try to keep attempting it in my novel, because the idea is so enchanting. And part of myself stands to the side cynically, telling me I'm being emotional and overly dreamy. But what if I tell that side to shut up just for a little bit, and listen to the plaintive music of oh, I don't know, dreamers and lovers everywhere? I imagine lying on the wide empty grass underneath the living tapestry of the stars with the love of my life and having him whisper softly, I love you.
LOVE!
How can you argue with emotion? It seems it would fill you and enrich you and warm you all at once. And this, too, is what I have felt at times in the presence of the Almighty God, a love that overwhelms me and fills me with love for you. A love that gives me contentment and comfort and strength, and a compassion and desire to reach out to the people around me.

I want to tell people everywhere that I love them, but sometimes the only accurate thing to say is HE loves you and I am only here to tell you. None of my love is my own.

And then.... after the stars and their sparkling glory fade, after my stirred soul settles, after the feeling grows dull... Love becomes once again a solid thing, a commitment, a responsibility, something that I fear I have no ability or right to be bearing or showing to others. It becomes a hard thing that I seem to not be able to put into practice. Is it love if I don't feel it enrapture my soul?

Even though I try to describe Love in senses and abstractions (which I sometimes have a hard time distinguishing, it's all very confusing) I still have so little practical understanding of what it means, or who Love is.

I wonder if that is a question that can only be answered by living life with Him, with him as our every breath.

I'm off to write more now, writing fiction that is less about people or plot than it is about ideas. And, (dare I say it? if I don't even know what it means?) ... I love you all.

...and see, it seems weak now, only like a random sign off, not like a statement that people have died for, or a promise that has brought people to life. I suppose I want to let the word have the power that the person has. Oh language, so representative and limited. Oh language, for allowing us to communicate with other human beings even if its only if its as fuzzy as shadows cast on walls, of fingers signing in sign language...

November 11, 2009

At the risk of being "shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods"...

I must say that writing is too easy, in a way. Not that writing well is easy. But with things like word wars and Write or Die, it's not hard to write words. My hands hurt, of course, from writing 600 words in eleven minutes, twice over. But I mean... I am more than half-way done with NaNoWriMo, and with quantity not a major issue, I'm starting to think about quality. Which... should be good, because I actually care about this novel and want to make it beautiful. But I am afraid I will start swinging to a position completely opposite of the one I have now: I'll start thinking that I should take time to craft every sentence, and plan out the plot carefully. I don't quite know what this will do to me, or my writing. But I feel like the excuse "but I have to write, I can't think if it's good or not" is dying away, and I don't think that bodes well for NaNoWriMo.

November 9, 2009

Halfway! [this is how...] nano snippet, day 9

Today my narrator broke out into a long monologue about why people tell stories. This is hopefully what the novel is about, so I'm not even sure if it's good to write it now. But then, NaNoWriMo doesn't have to be an exercise in subtlety. I can always delete it later. But for now, it's valuable, simply because it's helped me get to 25,135 words as of today.

I'm posting it here not because I think it's good, but because I always am interested by what the rest of you are doing. Golden Rule and all that, you know? I'm not sure if all the logic is sound, but I did try to edit it.

Much can happen in a few months. However, often the most exciting things happen in a short time, while the majority of your time is spent involved in the most boring or common-place of activities. This concept is somewhat similar to the 20/80 principle, the one that states that 20 percent of the world's population possess 80 percent of the wealth. Except, applied, this would make time the population and exciting events the wealth. Of course, a detailed journalist could take the time to denote obvious occurances, such as birds chirping, grass growing, people talking and thinking, the earth revolving around the sun, the moon following its orbit around the earth. And isn’t that the way the world goes? Not just around the earth, I mean, but in general: no story really matters, it seems, because it’s only telling a story that has already been told.

So what, people talked. They loved, they hated. They were born, they died. They married, they divorced. It all seems rather meaningless, doesn’t it? And maybe it is. Maybe Solomon was right when he said that all was vanity. Maybe all this working and striving is for naught. But what if you take the time to stop summarizing, and actually zoom in on a life? If your camera lens is clean enough, you should see the entire world contained in that one human being. There is a near-infinite amount of lives that have been lived. But within every life there is infinity. There is an uncountable amount of things that every human has seen, or even more strikingly, felt. Rage, sorrow, betrayal; joy, giddiness, nonsense; concentration, stress, frustration: all of it contained in one human. Every human captures the story of the world within them.

And so the task of a story-teller is to watch that world and bring it out to life. Every person is a story-teller, in a way. Was not Erin, with her retelling, her interpretation, her living through the life and words of another? She tried to show her viewers a representation of reality that brought it closer to them.

What about people just living their own lives: do they not have their own stories to tell? The best story-tellers let their lives tell a story. And what they do demonstrates, sometimes more eloquently than words can, was is; what should be; what matters; what should be forgotten.

Every story carries within it the specific of a genuine human life, as well as the general, the story that has already been told and always will be told. Perhaps by telling it, and reading it, and watching it, we let our minds live it as our bodies try to. Or perhaps the telling of the story does more for the author than it is for those who watch. Only by trying to generalize your life, trying to draw out the parts that make the story, can the individual details find their place. Abstracting allows meaning.

Tropical Bird

November 8, 2009

Me trying to be empathetic, but ending up cynical

so they told you, stop caring about winning, it's all empty
because the winners stood on the stage, receiving their plastic awards
and they felt in that moment as if it was wind

but you never wanted the prizes
you aren't deceived to think that a trophy will last
you only can't stand the the frustration of failing

winning doesn't matter... until you lose
so either win emptiness or lose your self-esteem
we're only striving so that we can survive
1. I haven't gotten "Hello Hurricane" yet, but it's amazing listening to it on Switchfoot's myspace.
2. I am getting fed up with all the romance in my novel. Come on, Erin and Laurence, get over it so I can get on to writing something more wholesome! And then I start wondering what that's going to be, and if my metaphysical plot is going to work out. My plot right now is all relationship-driven, and I want it to be about reality. I'm not yet sure how that's going to happen.

November 7, 2009

"Love is something I've never known."

Words are flying across the circle
They are thrown out in joy
Then fall neatly into the hearer's heart
Fueling a rapid response
And I feel that they're all passing above me
Around me
Not through me

And so to say anything would be
Like stumbling into a game of frisbee,
Uncertain, confused
Not knowing the rules, and being taught
But forgetting. But fumbling.
Like running around, holding the frisbee
Unwilling to let it go

I'm so certain, and I believe
That Your love is strong
But I'm still shivering with cold,
Wearing around my neck a sign
That reads, scribbled in marker,
I need love.
I wonder who else can see it

But I don't know if I trust anyone to take it off-
I feel like I push them away
By my pretense, my smiles
I hold back my tears
Because I'm afraid to be seen
Or I devour their attempts to love
And proclaim myself still starving.



"Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love." -Psalm 90:14

November 5, 2009

Word War

A mental scream!
A heady rush, fingers quivering, breath fast
The energy seeps out, splattering a ferocious barrage of words onto the page

Do I intend to crush the others?
Do I so desire to overwhelm?
I think it is only the thrill of the chase that so intoxicates me

November 2, 2009

:breathes deeply:

Planning my novel is reminding myself of the truth. I feel as if writing it is teaching me more than reading it ever will teach any one else. I have become my main characters, and I'm only trying to describe what I am learning and don't yet understand. Even if my characters are not real, I become more so because I'm living through them. And I don't know who I can write for but myself and God.

October 29, 2009

I don't have time to write this, but.

I'm disappointed that my busyness makes me inconsiderate to others. I'm thankful for my family's, especially my mom's, patience with me. I am hopeful and perhaps too optimistic about finishing everything I should by Saturday. And though I regret that I will likely be squashed at the next round robin because I've had no time to solidify my arguments or fix my apologetics cards, I'm thankful for all the things I am able to do. God is merciful. I keep thinking about Philippians 4:7, "and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." I also hope I'm truly surrendering all, not just being beguiled into a fake calmness induced by a combination of Jon Foreman's voice and my tiredness. "Tired like a child after weeping, empty like a sky after rain." I don't remember where that's from. Okay, I must go now, VFW essay calls. I'll catch up with you... sometime in November? Ha.

October 25, 2009

The dream brings us closer to reality.

"Plato argued that art is 'thrice removed' from reality: A painting is an imperfect representation or copy of a man who himself is an imperfect copy of the real thing, Man...

...Plato advocated banishing the arts- at least the representative arts- from an ideal society. Aristotle, with his view of immanent Forms, draws exactly the opposite conclusion. It is because the essence and ideal of things are embodied in those things that the artistic representation brings us closer to reality." -Questions that Matter, p 76.

(I'd like to write this quote in calligraphy, or paint it onto a serene background, and paste it on my wall to inspire me during NaNoWriMo.)

"My life is the poem I would have writ / But I could not both live and utter it"

I want to share my life, the little delights and sorrows that fill me. My thoughts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday, my concerns about living and speaking as a witness, little things like the wisdom I see in the people around me. And even the confusing but wonderful moments of irrational emotion. Also my frustration, self-deprecation, and excuses at getting B on my philosophy essay.

It seems I don't have enough time to tell all of these thoughts in depth. So much of my life is lived without being told. Better that than to tell without living.

October 23, 2009

The pieces are starting to fit together.

I finally figured out what my NaNoWriMo novel is going to be about!
I already had a semblance of a plot, and a great deal of ideas, but talking it out with Colleen helped me realize that it didn't hold together.
Today I decided the book is going to be about metaphysics. And existentialism. And about how everything is real.
I'm excited.

(I hope that every post I make about NaNoWriMo will boost my potential humiliation if I don't finish it in time, and thus inspire me to keep writing it even when I'm not excited.)

October 21, 2009

I have 52 minutes until my self-appointed bedtime. My mind is racing with things to do. I want to read through more of art curriculum- this book is about design. I want to paint myself an avatar. I want (I want to have done, at least) to do my Greek. I want to read this book about cooperation so I can blog about it on the Manus Oratorum website. I want to patch up the numerous holes in my NaNoWriMo plot. I want to read more of Lilith. I want to listen to music. Mostly, I'm just thankful that I have some free time. It's refreshing. I want to be as busy as I was today tomorrow, so my free time is as lovely! Alright, I have 48 minutes left now. :waves goodbye:

October 19, 2009

Rebecca...

has one day to write three more scenes for the "family" skit she's co-writing.
does everything she can to avoid writing this play.
can't decide if it should be called a play or skit.
thinks that play sounds more impressive.
is having trouble thinking of what should happen to the family once they land on the alien planet.

is a procrastinator.
thinks that was needless to say.
is contemplating actually doing something productive in her procrastination, instead of just listening to music, reading blog posts she's already read, or reading MLIA.
is getting tired of this blog post.
is clicking "publish post."
would like to point out that one cannot actually type and click something at the same time.

Swearing

I'm confused. I barely flinch when my college classmates talk about their f*ing whatever, or use other bad language to talk about their annoyance at teachers or homework. I'm disgusted to think of myself saying those words, but I don't know if I really care if other people do.

Even though I think I've always been guilty, I don't like to think of myself as having lost my innocence. I mean, don't I have a reputation for not making coarse jokes or saying bad words? Ugh, I want to think good of myself! In a way, I feel like the same me of, say, a year ago. I'm a little shocked when I hear a friend talk about her "crappy autumn." I flinch at one word in the otherwise lovely "You Don't Know Me." (Ben Folds, featuring Regina Spektor) But only when I thought of who might be scrolling through my iPod did I think to delete it. I don't know if my mind is clean, or if I'm just decent at discerning what the people around me would judge me for.

I feel like swears are devalued. When I hear them, at least, they're not used in anger or real frustration. To me, they're just another culture's set of words, not offensive to anyone within that group (college kids). I don't use them partially because I find them distasteful, but mostly, I think, because my life is almost completely spent around people who aren't comfortable with them. But if my Philosophy friends want to go around using foul language, (most of the time they're not taking God's name in vain) sure, that's okay, just don't look down on me for having a clean mouth. So I don't know if my attitude is too casual or too critical. Or both. Or neither?

I don't know who I am, or who I've become. I don't like that I seem to be only concerned with perception: I want to be seen as innocent without making others frustrated at me. Do I know what is right and do it for the wrong reasons? Is bad language even moral issue?

I find it weird that I'm okay with listening to a song about piss and 409 but feel awkward when/if Mom or Col is around.

I find it strange that I seem to have the same to stance to all "bad language" even when they're on vastly different levels. Gosh, darn, and freaking are all in the same category as the worst of them: say them if you want, but I'm not about to. Or perhaps not, since I sometimes find myself almost saying the first three, or using them in my journal. Bleh.

Should bad language bother me? Should I be responding, "WHAT did I just hear?" rather than, "arg, I suppose I should delete this song"? Should I respond more forcefully when I hear bad language around me? But, what right do I have to tell other people to clean up their mouths when I don't think it bothers me too much? Maybe it would bother me, if I heard swear words being used to show hate. I suppose it's good that I don't hear that. But at least then the words would actually mean something.

October 16, 2009

People!

I love the idea of loving people.
I love the idea of people.
People are amazing, made in the image of our Almighty God! I like to believe that people have so much to share, because everyone thinks, everyone feels, everyone is human.

Somehow idea people are easier to love than real-life people.

Oh, dichotomy!

I want my life to prove Plato wrong. Not everything he said, much of it was so right, but the part about there being two worlds, the becoming world separate from the being.

I want to love human beings, not just human becomings. Because every wonderful thing about people is true no matter how imperfect they are.

These are the words of silence

I think I am love with music. Or people. Or living.

I set today apart for debate. Perhaps instead I'll work on ReCAP. Perhaps I'll try to find the three more platforms I need for YSG. Perhaps I'll write my part of the delightful skit about aliens I'm writing for our Chapter's community project.

I agree with Hayley, I am very cold, and I need some fingerless gloves. I still haven't finished the ones I started knitting... like a year ago. Yesterday I found the yarn and needles and one-and-a-half gloves I had already knitted, so I should have the gloves finished soon!

Yesterday it seemed I was inundated with interesting thoughts. And now they feel out of place to write about.

I wonder why I feel sometimes feel not present in the situation. Am I just fooling myself in thinking that I didn't completely act like myself yesterday? Random quote from yesterday: "Rebecca is the kind of person who actually deserves an ipod." Source, my friend Suzanna. :)

I started a little index of my commonplace-notebook, with the intent of writing down the page numbers to particular thoughts that have consumed me, and the ones that made my heart ache. I think it would give a better sense of completion to the notebook, since it's completely full now.* The index is entitled: "Don't Judge Me" or "Don't Call Me a Judger." An informal Index or users' guide to my common-place notebook.

I feel the part about not calling me a judger is justified, as I haven't begun indexing yet, and I don't know if I ever will.

More irony is that yesterday I had a blog post draft open with nothing in it except a subject line. The title was "Everything."

I should read more.

I can't decide if blogging is preferable to individual conversations. I don't think it is, it's less personal, only it's very efficient to talk about my life to a bunch of my friends at once.

I wonder if I should study more for the PSAT tomorrow.

I love the voice recording function on my ipod.

I feel shallow. I am self-absorbed and I care too much about how I look in front of you all. I am now feeling self-conscious for being insecure. I don't like being wrong. I want to be confident. I wonder if it's contrived to feel the peace of God through a song. I wonder if it's incorrect to attribute a mood to the work of God. I adore the song "Dreamlife" by Sleeping at Last. I want to be real. I like feeling emotions. I am richly blessed.

*My new one is a little red book that says "notebook" on it, and it's over fifty years old. The cover is kind of falling off, so I taped it, and was disappointed when I found we only had imitation duct tape. I used clear tape instead. It's probably foolish to keep my thoughts in a book that isn't sturdy.

October 12, 2009

Self-inflicted Headache

I got my ipod today. And I'm overwhelmed (to put it lightly) by how much work it will take to organize all of my music into iTunes. I think Genius is tremendously cool. I'm frustrated that I can't seem to easily change the name of a file. And it puts music from CD mixes into separate folders. How do you all manage your music? I think I need help. How do you form playlists? Do you rate all hundreds, thousands of songs you have? *sigh* I have 4 days of music on here, most of it from Kristen. To add to the difficulty, is that I only bought an 8 G nano, and I have 8.49 G of music right now in iTunes. I need to delete some songs. Grr!

October 9, 2009

"Avocado" always reminds me of Avogadro's number

The avocados I've had as my avatar for a while decided they'd like some more publicity. And, it seems I'm on a roll today.

Carousel Horse


I will admit that it was copied from a photograph, but you must excuse me, I don't have any carousel horses in my house to model it off of.

Yet another reason why I'm excited about NaNoWriMo

When I finish my book, I'll get to design my cover art! :)

Meditations on essay-writing

I sit here and type and listen and read, again yielding my soul, committing my self to the demands of thought. The fabric of the family tears away and wraps around myself. Everything of life is thrown into work. It's always hungry, this essay, and never is it fully satisfied. It stays small and thin and unhealthy, continually shedding skins to reveal the meager substance of itself. How can nothingness be refined? How can I express what falls apart in my hands? It's only dust, and has not lived a life of vigor before returning to dust again. I'm apt to believe Plato and declare that for human artists, there is no creation but reformation.

October 8, 2009

"You are my feast"

So much should have been food to me
But truth and beauty passed
I barely smelled them as they came to view:
A foolish, crippling, fast

The needy spirit within me
Awakening, cried to eat
And finally its longing
was what pulled me to my feet

I looked around for sustenance,
But at heart the truth I knew
All the action leaves me empty
I'm only satisfied by You.

(title unknown)

I feel like I'm living my life outside-in. I do everything and think nothing. When my friends ask how I am, I give them a laundry list of my most recent tasks. When they ask what I'm thinking about, I tell them about my essay. This is not real thinking.

I feel like I'm living in a daze. When our Student Guides meeting was starting today (happiness!) I was startled to hear laughing and talking coming in our door. Our home is not usually very loud. I seem to not think about how I act or what I say before I say it. It's strange, but not unfamiliar.

I (I again. I'm going to stop this.) My (a little better, perhaps? More variety at least...) phone skills have quite improved, and I was able to call a possible platform today. It may work out, it may not.

See? Again what is written is about my actions, and not my mind. It seems that real thinking has not happened for a while. (Avoiding writing "I" is hard.) It's hard to determine if my presentation of myself is accurate, if my friends are seeing who I (unavoidable) am. I'll stop the censorship of my selfishness. How ironic, my Voice of Democracy essay is centered on selfishness, and how it prevents us from appreciating America's heroes.

I feel inexplicably sad and wistful right now. I don't know why. I don't understand myself. I deeply desire to go outside by myself and run around in the park. Only, the park is closed at dark and I'm not usually allowed out alone at night, even though our town is safe. I wish one of you were here with me and would walk with me underneath the cloudy, New Jersey sky, where most stars are hidden and where the roads we make our sidewalks are constantly interrupted by cars.

It's getting cold. I wonder if I like autumn. Today was beautiful, simply beautiful. It saddens me that my productivity level drops so dramatically when I go outside to work. That's why I didn't go out today. I feel drawn to the outdoors- the music of eternity is louder there. I laugh internally because I like the way I wrote that.

I am often hesitant to post because I have so many loyal readers. I feel as if it's a let-down when I post little insignificant self-indulgent things. I wish I could think without thinking about myself. I wish I could write intelligently without using the first person.

I've written quite a lot already, and I'm feeling ashamed. This is not right,because shame and insecurity and sadness have died! Do I forget so easily? Why does my gaze stray from His? How can I come to God without feeling as if I come for my own satisfaction and fulfillment, rather than His pleasure? I wonder if it will feel like eavesdropping for you if I write anything more.

(now go be amused at the title of this post, it's like being busy and writing "Invisible" as your status message.)

Characteristic of most posts I don't post, except that this one is being posted.

I have nothing to say. Or what I have to say I express already, in status messages, emails, essays... I entitled my philosophy essay "Disembodied Doubt." It amused me slightly.

I finally decided on an outline for my Voice of Democracy essay. I just hope it doesn't all fall through as I start to write it. I was supposed to have finished the outline two weeks ago. Oh well.

I wonder how to write eloquently. The sentence structure in this blog post is very bland.

I am helping teach writing to a bunch of kids in my homeschool group. I am breaking about every rule in the book.

I start nearly every sentence with I. I wonder if I should stop.

I enjoy listening to albums on myspace music.

I like living. I sound self-absorbed. I need to get past my writing block. I may regret posting this. I have to go study Malay now.

Goodbye.

October 1, 2009

Witness

It seems that I'm finally preparing the speech for which I've been preparing all along.

I'm sure you know the verses you hear all the time in defense of speech and debate. The point of persuasive speaking is so we can defend our faith and speak the truth. So we can bear witness to others of what God has shown us and done for us.

I feel as if this is the speech of all speeches. But what makes it so hard is that it's not even a speech! I've been instructed to practice speaking my testimony so I can deliver it in an informal conversation. And while I have logical and persuasive skills, it is so hard to apply it to this! I don't want to present what I believe as simply a logical argument, trying to refute objections to following Christ.

So what I presented in Chapter today focused on life in the Spirit, and how dwelling in God gives me joy. All these words! Joy, love, peace, life, home, dwell, Spirit, breathe. I can't seem to focus on one. Because what I've been asked to tell in two minutes, in a conversation, without pretense, is my life, my whole existence. How am I supposed to have a thesis when I am just there pouring out what is on my heart?

I feel as if I've become too "feelerish" in my approach. But just talking about Truth, and how Christianity is reasonable, seems hollow. I want people to care! Yet it's stupid to impact my argument for faith, and show why it matters to me, if the link and brink are non-existent.

And I don't even know who I'm going to give this "speech" to. So how can I prepare a full defense of faith? Even if I knew exactly who I'd talk to, I can't say everything. I can't. I can't. I can't.

I guess I have sub-consciously given up making this organized already, so I may as well add that Kaitlyn just chatted me in response to my status message. She tells me,
"words fall short. brains can't comprehend. emotions don't grasp the stakes. thoughts don't provide closure. Yet, He is there."
I need to think about what I'm going to say some more. But oh... I don't want to think that I'm selling God to consumers. I'm talking about a person. A friend, a Father, a lover even. And He tells me, and I believe Him, that He will teach me what to say.

September 29, 2009

Faces

I drew this a while ago, but realized I never actually posted it.

September 27, 2009

Bewildering flashlight poem + Murder in the Cathedral

I just ran over from the couch by the window where I was reading Murder in the Cathedral, by T.S. Eliot. I had come across this line, "Man's life is a cheat and a disappointment; all things are unreal." This is the four tempters speaking, arguing that every choice is motivated by false desires, saying that everything is false because the man is "lost in the wonder of his own greatness."

I remember Hayley reading that last quote at the SHINE tournament, but reading it today made me think about it differently. And it reminded me of a poem I wrote by flashlight a few nights ago, that I wasn't sure what to make of:

I see myself grow taller
Deepness, largeness, takes on shape
But this image I dare to call myself
Is only a shadow, stretched by changing time
Sometimes it flits across and dances under the moon
But the shadow vanishes in broad daylight
The dream gone, I find myself small and alone
This material self does not grow swiftly

I think, because of T.S. Eliot, I understand the feeling better now. "The wonder of my own greatness" is a passing illusion, only a shadow of what truly is.

September 26, 2009

"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt..."

I don't think I should post my apathetic complaining here. Is that disingenuous?

How can I be real while only saying what is edifying?

September 21, 2009

In wonder

Lord, how is it that when I come to you in tears you answer with love? How is it that there is no scolding, no condemnation, only whispers of promises I know You will keep?

Lord! How can you accept me as I am? Why do you not demand my poetry, my reason, my eloquence? How can I feel so loved when I am so insufficient?

You always amaze me.

September 19, 2009

Job 32:8

"But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand."

Understanding is no constant, solid thing I can store up for myself. Wisdom is the living breath of God- the Holy Spirit, our connection to God. It's no coincidence that "spirit" comes from the Latin word spirare, to breathe.

Lord, breathe into me, inspire me. Let me understand.

September 18, 2009

Dumpster Diving

On the way home from work, my dad saw someone throwing books into a dumpster. Oh, what a travesty! This evening, we decided to investigate.

We snuck out with a flashlight (which we really didn't need, but it added to the mood). When we got to the dumpster, my dad tried to reach in, but he could only get to a few books. So I (wearing flip-flops and a skirt, nonetheless) hoisted myself up on the edge, then climbed in.

We ended up retrieving quite a few books,
some to keep,

some to throw away, and some to trade on the bookswap. My favorite find, I think: a leather bound journal!

And it's completely unwritten in!

Though perhaps I'd like it better if it was written in. :P I wonder, would I feel like an intruder if I read someone's private life? Probably, especially without permission.... I guess it's best that the journal is empty.

Thinking about IMPACT 2010: Singapore

We're planning to visit Malaysia in December. Between the time my family would leave, and when ICC's Singapore conference starts, is three weeks.

My parents suggested I just stay overseas. I can't believe they would actually consider letting their fifteen-year-old stay in Malaysia with another family for three weeks. Like, seriously?

It would save on flight costs, and less fund-raising is looking appealing. But I don't want to miss MASTERS! :frowns:

Do I even want to go? If I turn down the opportunity to teach in Singapore, am I solidifying a future of refusing adventure and service? I'm asking myself a question that I've asked before: Who is this self that I am making for myself?

I have until September 30, at the very latest, to decide.

Is it stupid to not go just because it's expensive, and what with Philosophy, NaNoWriMo, VoD, Calculus, PSAT, ReCAP, YSG, and Chapter, I just won't have enough time to go around asking for $2300? I have some money, albeit... But I wanted to buy an ipod with that money. :another frown:

What would the experience be like? I've been to Singapore, I've been to CFC conferences. But I've not been to both at the same time.

Going would be a rather large commitment. How much do I sympathize with ICC? Is it worth it? Do I believe that being a cultural communicator means going out of the country to teach kids how to communicate? Not necessarily. I don't have to go. So I have to ask myself, how much would I gain? How much would I contribute, even? Do they need me?

Making decisions is so hard.

September 17, 2009

I seem to think safe is an insult.

Whenever I find my mind complaining that abiding in God is too boring, too safe, I realize that I'm missing the point. I'm not actually enjoying the life I've been given, the one that I should be having abundantly. Righteousness is not about being afraid of brokenness, nor is it a cold distance from real, dirty, scarred, terrible, beautiful humanity.

I'm still trying to figure out what it is about.

September 16, 2009

Life is so full.

I'm thinking about Mary Claire's last post, about the lovely fullness and beauty of humanity. I'm thinking about my friends and the people that I know, and their stories, their happinesses. People are wonderful, yes?

Often, I'll have emails going between several friends and myself, but I have none presently. Which means I've not had an opportunity, really, to share the little things I think about. However, now I'm thinking about an instance that contradicts that: just this afternoon Colleen and I had a long walk in our park. Where am I going with this?

I guess I'll write this as an open letter to all of you. As if it was a letter, I'm including my ramblings and things I thought were cool that I encountered today. These are things I sometimes include in my status message, but often don't because I'm usually too busy to appear on gchat.

My philosophy professor today said "There is no number two." You must understand this in context, though. The numeral 2 (you see it, right on the screen there) exists quite tangibly. But the number, the concept two is much harder to define. We discussed in class how relationships and laws exist (mathematical relationships, laws of physics...not so much moral principles). Have we discovered them, or do we invent the relationships? I think that Pythagoras discovered a relationship. But it seems that there are other laws that are simply invented. Seriously, aren't sine and cosine and tangent just constructs that conveniently have perfect connections to a right triangle?

Anyhow, related to "There is no number two." My mind related it to the Franz Ferdinand song that goes "There is no nation of me, there is no nation of you, our only nation lives in lucid dreams." Lightbulbs went on in my head; it seems the song is saying that the nation, or the ideal "me" only lives in an imagined reality.

Then I started thinking about the patriotic essay I'm writing for the VFW. "Does America Still Have Heroes?" the topic asks. Well...what is America? Is America a physical nation, or a nation that represents ideals? This essay is going to be good for me, because the idea of patriotism seems so foreign to me. (That should be a pun, but I'm not sure if it's a witty one.)

Now I'm stopping to think of what to say, and wondering if I truly write letters like this. I think I do. Especially with all this meta narrative.

Today, I was also thinking about parenting kids. (Don't ask why, I don't remember.) Giving birth must feel like being born again. I've read a quote (I think it's a cheesy one, but it works for this idea) that said that having kids means your soul walks and lives outside of your body. Anyway, a mother has to relive life, guiding children through babyhood, childish friendship, imaginary games, school, teenagerhood, romance. . . What a life. It's hard to conceive of what it means to give up your happiness for your children. (Thanks, Mom, really. And I know you read my blog, so when you read this, I don't know when? When you find free time?, know that I am grateful.)

Hmm. I think that's all I have to say for now. :) Does this letter deserve a sign-off? I wonder. Thanks for listening to me, to my thoughts, to my imaginary world.

September 15, 2009

Light: Part IV

“Benjamin.”

He was still behind a bush, but started at the Lady’s voice. “How do you know my name?”

“I know all things,” Lady Anne answered.

Ben was torn. He was drawn to this lady, yet this same lady struck terror into his heart. But how could he show himself? He quivered at the thought.

“I see you, Ben. Get up.”

There was no choice. If she knew everything, how could he hide? He prepared himself for scrutiny. His stomach churned, his breath was uneven. His pulse raced. How terrible it was to be laid bare, helpless, and unable to see the great Queen, yet seen fully by her. Well…not fully, if he could help it. As he stood, he hung his head low, as if a humble posture could halt the imminent disaster.

“Can you see me?” she asked.

“I cannot. I am blind!”

“Look up.”

Ben hesitated. It wouldn’t make a difference, really. But he couldn’t bear to show his self and his face.

“Benjamin,” Lady Anne said again. She was reassuring this time, but firm. “Why have you come?”

“Philip told me to come.”

“Is that really why you are here?”

Ben was confused. “I…I don’t know.” What was the truth? What could he say? “My Lady…” he started, and then the words rushed out faster. He was certain of what he was saying, but at the same time, he felt like he needed to defend himself. “When I first heard about you, I wanted to see you. I wanted to be near you. You sounded so alive, so noble, so wise. But Lady, I” –his breath halted- could he actually be saying this? “I am afraid. I am terrified of you. You are too great and glorious for me. I am only a foolish and blind man. Why, really, did I come? I think I love you. I don’t know if I know how to love you, but I want to. Oh, I want to see you.”

“I love those who love me, Benjamin. If you seek me earnestly, you will find me.” Benjamin could sense Lady Anne’s smile as she spoke. He felt calmed by it. Then his heart surged into his throat, and he lifted his head to face her.

“Lady! You are everything to me! They say your words utter only wisdom and I believe them. You, my Queen, are the Truth I blinded myself seeking. I desire you with all of my heart. Let me see!”

“Though you have not seen me, you have believed in me. Ah, Benjamin! You do see.”

The light from her eyes was reflecting in Ben’s upturned ones. He gazed harder. Then- he was able to make out the outline of her form! He saw her lovely face, her glorious smile, her eyes swimming with light. Ben’s eternity of darkness was ended, for, by the light of Lady Anne, all was illuminated.

There was no response but to cry out in exultation. “Oh, can’t you see what Truth has done?”

“Let this light shine before all,” Lady Anne encouraged. “Bring sight to those trapped in darkness as you once were.”

“I will, my Lady. I am your servant, and I devote my life to you. For I once was blind, but now I see.”

Then, overflowing with the light of the Lady, Ben set off to live.

The End

Light: Part III

“Are you ready to go yet, Benjamin?”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“Then I may be off! Farewell, my palace. Servants: prepare yourself for the Lady Anne’s arrival. Glory awaits this adventure!”

So off the brothers went, Philip in high spirits, Ben in turmoil. Somehow, he felt like a character in a story, except his mission was to capture a Queen, not to rescue a princess. His mind turned back to the days when he would read in the royal library. He couldn’t remember his love for knowledge, though, without a twinge of regret and resentment. The books, in a way, had locked him in. They had caused his thirst. They had lead to his poisoning. They had blinded him. But it was also his own fault. His love had turned against him. After reading was gone, life had dwindled into a stale dullness. Then the years of gathering news had awakened a spark of life. News, as an entity outside himself, revived him from monotony. Now he was off into uncharted territory (literally, he added to himself), off to find an aweful Lady. He must continue as a passive observer, he resolved. Involvement with people always backfired.

~

A villager had told them how to get to Lady Anne’s dwelling place, and after much travel, there they were, on the outskirts of her forest. Philip’s horse started forward, but he pulled the reigns.

“I’m getting off my horse,” Philip declared. “You should too. Now, come on, Ben, don’t be afraid. I suppose I should help you.”

“I’ve got it,” Ben answered. He was fairly resigned to being treated like this, and was only slightly discouraged by Philip’s brisk manner.

“Good, good…” Then Philip sighed in frustration, and snatched the reigns Ben held out of his hand. “Let me tie that up for you, I’m sure you won’t be able to.”

After securing the horses to a tree, Philip faced the forest with an expression of defiance. His eyes were bright in the hope of adventure. His nose was stately and held just a little up in the air. If any man was sure of himself, it was he. He resolutely walked into the forest. Ben followed, feeling around with his cane, quietly listening, his heart beating wildly. After walking a bit into the forest, he crouched behind a bush. He must not be seen.

Philip looked around, but couldn’t seem to see the Lady. No matter, he thought, she must be here somewhere. He gathered his thoughts, and reviewed his own tips to himself: 1. Be courteous and flatter her. 2. Speak in a cultured manner- you don’t want to look stupid. 3. Let her know of your greatness, it will make her like you better. He cleared his throat and began in a loud voice, “By order of the King Philip, I command you to come forth and let me look upon you. I have heard of your beauty, and I wish it to be my own. Lady, though I have not seen you, I desire you. And if my own devotion to you were not enough, I would recommend myself to you. I am a brave warrior, unrivaled in any known lands. I have been hailed by travelers from far away as handsome and lovely to behold. Show me that you believe I am worthy of you. Come out and let me see you.”

There was a rustling in the trees, and a voice replied, “I am here.” The voice was silver and gold: the deepest delight of any treasure seeker. The voice was cold water on a hot summer’s day: cooling, calming, and reviving.

Philip felt as if he had been rebuked. He grew irritated. “Come out, I say. Don’t play games with me. Show yourself.”

He received no answer at first. The realm of the lady’s thought was too occupied for the bridge of language to be crossed. Then Lady Anne spoke, slowly and sternly. “Do you truly desire me? Why have you come with words of self-adoration? I see your heart, it is full of yourself. You do not want me.”

“But I do, dear Lady. How can you say such a thing? I have come because I want you for myself. And, I want to see you. Please come out.” In that last sentence, Philip’s words of defense had turned to ones of entreaty. This invisible Lady was being very inconvenient to his plans. He wished she would cooperate.

Suddenly, he felt his body straighten, as if his shoulders were being held. The Lady’s voice sounded much closer, and said, “You and I are face to face. If you cannot see me, it is because your pride has blinded you.” She pushed him away, and shook her head sadly. “You will stay blind until your heart learns to see.”

Philip fell to the forest floor, resentment burning within him. He lifted his face to the source of the voice, again endeavoring to see her, but the space where she should have been was a black emptiness. The darkness grew larger, crowding out the view of mushrooms, leaves, and logs. Then all went black.

September 14, 2009

Light: Part II

The doctors said he’d survive, but his blindness would be permanent. And so, Benjamin lived in a darkness deeper than before. Now, without his sight, there was no escape into the world of books. His love for truth was buried under the constant pressure of fear. There was nowhere he could go where he was not criticized, scorned, or spit upon because of his blindness. His cursed eyes sat in their sockets, speaking death to all who saw him. He became an outcast in the palace.

When the King finally died of madness, Ben’s situation changed slightly. Philip had long since given up taunting him, for it was a waste of time already too scarce. But King Philip decided to enact some reforms. “In my kingdom,” Philip declared to Ben, “There shall be no idlers or fools. You waste your time skulking about, and frankly, I’m not impressed with it. I ask you to either find something useful to do- become a squire to some knight who needs help, it doesn’t concern me exactly what you do with yourself- or else leave this palace and find someone else’s charity to support you. I can’t stand you making yourself useless.”

“Yes, my Lord,” Ben assented. “Only, I wish you could tell me which knight to assist. I…I…I can’t ask them.”

Philip rolled his royal eyes. “Very well, I will ask for you.”

None of the knights were willing to take on Ben. Some already had squires, others shied away from the prospect of training a blind youth. At last, Philip was consigned to let his own brother serve him. He didn’t want to hear any rumors about his inability to provide for his own family. Ben must stay in the castle to preserve the reputation of the royal household. Since there were no other options, Ben began training as a squire.

His lack of eyesight hindered him at first. Thankfully, most of his responsibilities required only touch and hearing. He polished weapons, cared for horses, and performed various other jobs for King Philip. He was designated as the bearer of news to the palace. Every morning, with a cane as his aid, Ben walked around the city, overhearing everything from housewives’ idle chatter to the proclamations of street vendors and merchants from far away. When his walk was over, he repeated the news to Philip.

Every venture out of the house was a deliberate step into danger, but strangely, Ben survived. During the first few weeks serving as news-bearer, he set out of the palace fearful and uncertain. Yet, even as weeks passed, no one bothered him. His job simply required him to remain alert, and his own self was unthreatened. As an information gatherer, he could know much while remaining unknown. He said nothing about himself, preferring the safety of anonymity.

~

A man with a foreign accent had taken the square, and a surge of townspeople leaned in to hear. Ben turned to hear this visitor. A clear, powerful voice was proclaiming, “My ruler, the Lady Anne, lives a hundred leagues away. Her touch enchants the snakes and spiders. Her songs mingle with the music of the birds; she leads them in a divine choir. Her beauty is beyond compare and none can gaze upon her without taking on some of her glory. Her words are of the greatest wisdom and no foolishness crosses her lips. Wherever she goes, flowers bloom and plants grow tall. She is perfection itself, and belongs to no one. All in our land belong to her. She has graced us with her favor, and she is the identity of every true citizen. So that, my fair listeners, is who I am and where I come from. I travel only to proclaim Lady Anne’s beauty, and offer you to come to our blessed land. Come to the Lady and live!”

This news, certainly, would be of interest to Philip. Ben hurried away, eager to for the news to be heard.

~

Philip spat in scorn. “He advertises this Queen as a ware to be bought and sold. What a blabbering idiot. But I can’t help but wonder, is that all she is? Perhaps she truly is beautiful. Perhaps, instead of subjecting myself to her, I can secure her for my kingdom, to be my wife. Then her fame would be my own, and the world would see that Philip is not to be trifled with. I must set out to find her at once. You, I suppose, will accompany me.”

“That shouldn’t be necessary,” Ben quickly countered, looking nervous. “This Lady is great… and it wouldn’t be safe… I mean, I’d only be a dead weight to you. You, you don’t need me to get in the way.”

“Silly boy! You give yourself too little credit. You will be needed, for you must write the annals of my success. How have any grown famous without the record of history? How will the world know of my strength and courage unless you tell them? Prepare for us to leave tomorrow.”

Ben stumbled off, feeling discouraged. He didn’t know exactly what he felt. Well, he knew he was afraid of the Lady Anne. What would she think of him? She was cultivated and lovely, he simple and blind. She’d be too polite to call him a blind fool, but he knew she would think it. In her tone of voice, she’d make it clear that he was unwanted. But that wasn’t much to fear after all. At least, it was nothing new. Maybe, she’d be cruel, despite her beauty. Maybe she’d cast him away from her presence and tell him he was worthless- but he was worthless, wasn’t he? He sighed. But she sounded so beautiful. If only he could simply hear her, and know her, without being seen. If only he could take in who she was without risking her disapproval.

Light: Part I

They were dark days, those days of the King. The King was heartless, or else insane. He would issue unreasonable demands on his subjects, and it took all of the servants’ powers to restrain him during his wild rages. It weighed heavily on the two Princes, Philip and Benjamin. Philip’s winning nature helped him cope. He made friends with the servants, and soon became popular. When the King wasn’t around, the servants would whisper of Philip’s bright future as a ruler.

But Ben withdrew. The behavior of his Father (though he never called him such- it was always, “yes, my Lord,” and “of course, Sire”) was terrible to the young prince. During the King’s rages, Ben felt his soul stripped defenseless and struck with the fiercest blows of hate.

Despondent and moody, Ben would escape to the palace’s library. There he lived vicariously. His mind soared within the essays. The records of history matured his perspective. Best of all were the stories. Ben couldn’t resist those tales of courage and heartbreak and happiness- a world where right could succeed. The truth told in fiction captured his being. Every moment away from the books, he lived in longing for them. People in the palace grew accustomed to his absence.

On a cloudy day in December, Ben was again reading in the library, when the silence was interrupted by the clank of metal against metal. Twelfth Night was cautiously closed and rested on a chair, and Ben got up to investigate. The heavy wooden door was locked. He frowned. Who could have locked it? A well-meaning servant, no doubt, (it was probably old Lottie- she kept charge of the library) had locked it to keep the palace safe. Now he’d have to sit inside the library until the morning, when Lottie came by to dust. He looked around for a key, but no key turned up. And so he waited. He wasn’t too worried: the library was the best possible place to be stuck, in any event. He read some more, then drifted off to sleep as Olivia was asking Cesario to stop delivering love notes from Orsino.

~

Morning came, and sunlight streamed grey through the blackness. Lottie had still not waken. Her daughter, Lily, tiptoed in, wondering how the morning could be underway without Lottie’s service to accompany it.

“Mother? Are you awake?” Playfully, Lily teased, “This shirking of your duties is really unacceptable.” Lottie lay in her bed, sleeping peacefully, noiselessly. The daughter approached, a little uncertainly.

“Mother! Wake up!”

The sleeper was undisturbed. Silence, then a check of pulse. A scream. A collapse. Now two unconscious in that dim room, one never to wake.

~

Ben’s night kept in the library stretched to a vigil of days. He created excuses for Lottie’s absence, none of them striking at the truth of the matter. As his throat itched and stomach growled, he berated himself for being too absorbed in his book. Perhaps he could have heard her approach, and stopped her from locking him in.

He searched for a key again, and found nothing but a dusty bottle of some liquid. His weary mind was still capable of processing information, and the natural suggestion was to pour some of the drink into his parched throat. It didn’t smell bad, so it seemed edible enough. He drank a deep gulp. It burned as it went down. Or perhaps the burning was simply from his lack of water?

He shouldn’t ask questions, he told himself. Though this was a library, and as such was full of answers, it was devoid of people to connect the questions and answers together. No matter, the drink was making him feel a little better. This couldn’t be so bad, could it? Another drink, another drink…. He felt the worry melt away. He floated through happiness and oblivion until his eyelids finally fell and sleep descended with them.

~

There was no grey that morning. There was nothing, nothing at all, but headache and nausea. Ben looked tried to get up and look out the window, but he saw nothing. He only crashed into a bookshelf and fell helpless on the floor. This aching was terrible. Why was he in here, anyway? Why could he see nothing?

~

Philip’s professor had told him to go look up battle strategies in the library. So off he went, grumbling. When he found the door locked, he called a black-clad Lily to get the key. Lily obliged, unlocking the door and offering to come in and help him find what he was looking for. As they entered, the little light from the doorway was illuminating Ben’s still figure. Ben let out a quiet moan.

September 11, 2009

I want to understand

No one understands anything
We are the blind leading the blind
We are the forgotten and misunderstood
We are the lonely who crouch together.

We are the wrecks, we are the lost
We are the ones who know-
But yet do not know
We hear and we do not comprehend.

Answers are clear and plain
But they all seem too bland
I'm calling out to life!
And to all that I so glibly praise...

I'm wishing to sympathize,
for Truth to matter to me and everyone
It does matter, doesn't it?
I just. need to. find it.