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.

September 10, 2009

The type of description I find myself close to writing.

"Philip was a man sure of himself as he walked into the forest, and for that matter, as he walked into anything. If he was the sort of man to engage in such foolishness, he would be sure of himself as he walked into trees."

It's so much fun!, but, I don't think it fits into my story. It's hard to figure out with what tone I want to, and should, write. I hope I'm choosing the right way.

September 9, 2009

Musings of a very inexperienced storyteller

I've already brought three characters to death or near-death within the first two pages of my short story. Oh my. This is a self-indulgent story, if I ever saw one. I'm writing it how I want it to be written, not caring how it should sound. It's poorly written, I think, but I don't mind. Fixing problems is what editing is for.

I wrote out my outline on a dry erase board. Every character has a different colored marker. I'm basing the characters' personalities on the message I'm trying to convey. It's troublesome to have to stop writing to research, but I need to find the critical details in order for the plot to unfold. I don't know how things should be done, but this is working for me so far. Everything seems new and exciting. I like writing fiction, and will try to post the entire story when it's done.

September 8, 2009

:)


It makes me happy that I painted this. Working with color is new to me and I love it. The assignment was to paint fruit with a different color scheme, and I used the analogous colors of primary blue, secondary green, and tertiary blue-green. I'm really enjoying my art course.