January 31, 2010

Forgive me for writing this instead of actually talking to you.

Some days I open up blogger in order to manufacture the feeling of nearness it gives me to you. I wish to be with people, closely. I also wish to ease, urge, grapple, something beautiful into the world. I think that words can be handled in such a way that they fit together with loveliness. Perhaps I simply want practice in crafting sorts of sentences that please the ear. I enjoy reading about the care that Francine Prose feels for sentences: I want to take the same delight she takes in sentences. This evening, I'm striving to write neatly, primly, sweetly; I'm holding the words to myself, considering every clause before I direct my fingers to type them. I doubt that it improves my writing greatly, but I cannot deny that it is pleasant today. Only, I spend so much effort breathing out light words that my mind is diverted from saying anything at all.

I have noticed recently that I'm quite interested in sound and speech, and saying things out loud seem to have a particular significance for me.

I just went up and looked at the sentences I have written so far. They seem pretentious and unlike me. But rambling like this is so much fun! Somehow, taking time to say nothing makes it seem worthwhile... In all actuality, I'm may be writing this simply because it is easier than finishing my art lesson. I shake my head in chagrin at this.

I seem to have nothing to say. I wonder how to see myself as I really am. I wonder if it is important to delve deep into my soul and analyze the state of myself. I would like to have some brilliant observation on living shallowly to share, but I do not. I am very tired. It feels strange to search into my past mind to try to pull out something that's actually interesting to say. I wonder if depressing things I've thought yesterday or the day before matter anymore, if I haven't quite dealt with them, but am not really feeling them now. I wonder how to accurately show rambles of mind in a way that people identify with. I wonder how to tell truth with grace. I wonder what my sentences would be like if English didn't contain the word, "wonder."

I like copying shapes and pretty lines into my sketchbook. I notice that my art, or at least ideas I have to put into drawings, concern curving lines often. This reminds me of something I thought today, about how cool it is that people have specialties. In my LD club, we've decided to study particular subjects so that we can educate each other. It was a great success on Saturday. I think about people knowing a lot about popular culture, or about the beat generation, or about playing certain instruments, or about psychology, or about photography, or about acting, or about physics, and I'm glad and appreciative. I like being a geek in my own way, and joining with other people who know various other things to help make us all more cultured, larger, wiser people. I like thinking that for the hours I spend cultivating my specialties, there are other people doing other worthwhile things. I also wonder if I should branch out and do other things, but I don't consider it too anxiously, because having lots of interests and hobbies isn't really essential. In case you hadn't noticed, I stopped trying to vary my sentences or make them full of grace a while ago.

This was a fun little exercise in rambling about speaking my mind. I was about to insert a smilie, but thought it wouldn't be in keeping with the overall style of this post. I know I don't have to abide by my own rules, and perhaps it's silly and childish, but I don't mind it. I notice that I go to great lengths to describe the condition of my face. Emoticons are very limited, but it is quite a bit of trouble to detail the way I'm smiling in words. By now I have forgotten what the smile I was trying to describe looked like. Such is life! (Sometimes I say "c'est la vie" out-loud, and hope that my "say la vee!" is correct pronounciation. I shall look it up as soon as I publish this post.)

In attempting to come up with a title for this post, I thought about calling it, "an unimportant ramble." Or, "a one-sided conversation." Both of these options are true. But the theme running through all this is, I think, my feeling of wanting to talk to people. Perhaps because it's late, I feel more affectionate and thoughtful. Sometimes I miss places, or ways that I am (for example, I thought earlier today that I liked my MASTERS self better than my current self, perhaps because I seemed to have more opportunities to live well and faithfully and truly, more people to be good to) but right now, it seems I just miss people. But it really saddens me that I'm writing this long blog post instead of responding to emails (but it just popped into my mind, honest) or actually chatting with the people who are online. I know why it is: I was just supposed to take a short break and then go back to drawing. But instead I'm sitting here talking to my blog instead of breathing humans. I find myself in a sad place, a place I don't want to be. I'm sorry. I guess the least I can do to make amends is to post this.

January 28, 2010

Oratorical Contest

I thought I would post my speech script for ICC's Oratorical Contest, in case any of you either wanted to know what it was about, or read it though you already heard me give it last week. :) The theme (if I haven't already told you) is "Awakening: Rise Up. Reach Out." Oh stories, rushing into my head! ...

Since I only wrote this up today, and was working from an outline before, this is not the speech I gave in the prelim round. It's as close as I can remember to the one I gave in finals. And it's definitely not quite the same as the one I gave to everyone on Thursday night. (Breathes, remembering...) I think now is as good a time as any to tell you who weren't there about it. Here's the summary:

Me: I don't understand love!
Michael: We question things we already understand.
Me: I don't understand!
Avery and Michael: :sympathy:
Me: I hate that I keep doubting God.
Tim (about him and Michael): We can't tell you to stop questioning, we're philosophers. It goes against our moral code.
Me: I wish I could feel God.
God: :is:
Me: ... (I am answered)
Devin: And the winner of the 2010 ICC Oratorical Contest is... Rebecca Au! Are you ready to give your speech?
Me (in my mind): Never have I been more ready. No time has ever been as good as this one to speak.

And then I got to give my speech one more time, and tell everyone how I don't understand but how God is the answer to every doubt in my heart. It was wonderful.

Reading the speech is never going to be the same as hearing it, but here it is nonetheless.


Do you know what it’s like to live a day on an airplane? Just about two weeks ago, my family and I flew back to America from Malaysia, where we had been visiting some relatives. Because of the direction the plane flew, I ended up having a thirty-seven-hour-long day. When it was eleven pm according to Malaysian time, I finally slept. I was exhausted.

For some reason, I woke up a few hours later and opened up my window shade. Light flooded into the dark airplane. Outside, I saw the frothy clouds below me, and the steady patterns of the great wide water. The best part was the bright band of orange that streaked across the horizon. I just sat there, breathing in the sunrise.

The next thing I was aware of was a stewardess coming up to my chair. She said, “Excuse me. Could you shut that window? Everyone else is asleep.” Those words bounced around in my mind. Everyone else is asleep.

While it’s usually impolite to disrupt the cycle of waking and sleeping that people follow in their everyday lives, the soul requires no sleep. So when we’re talking about a spiritual or metaphorical awakening, the worst thing is to pull down the shade and block out the light.

And yet, so often we choose to walk in darkness. Or, we just find ourselves there without knowing why. It seems like I’m always crying out, I don’t understand! I don’t know what it means to love others; I don’t know what to do with my future; I am, so often, lost. I believe that God is the light that makes me see and I believe that He is the answer to all of my questions, but it is still so hard to know it for myself.

What saddens me is that there are people who don’t even realize they are asleep. This fall, I had the opportunity to take a philosophy class at my county college. One of my classmates, Chris, was very much a relativist. He thought that truth is merely whatever works for him. I asked him, “What if you’re wrong? What if people don’t decide truth?” He replied that it was easier for him to believe this way. I don’t think he cared if he was right. He is like a sleepwalker, and one day, all of the world that he walks in will come falling apart.

I desperately want – for both myself and for people like Chris- to be awake, and to be able to hold on to truth. God’s truth, the light that wakes us up, is always shining, but the way that we are able to realize it is by faith. Sometimes the only truth I can understand is what John Newton summarized when he said, “I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” To stay awake, I need to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the light of the world.

When I first started contemplating the theme, I could conceive of understanding the idea of awakening, and I sympathized with the need to rise up. But, “Reach Out”?? How am I, who am still struggling to keep awake, supposed to reach out to others? I’m realizing that I can’t wake up others. All I can do is to let God’s light shine through my brokenness.

I believe that everything happens for a purpose, and God is writing his story into our lives. To let light shine, we just have to speak the truth to people, and tell them what God has been teaching us. Tell them what you know, and what you don’t know. All we can do is speak the truth.

So leave your window shade open and let the light pour through. Even if – especially if – everyone else is asleep. Because it is the light that makes everything visible.

January 26, 2010

glimpsely.

it's not strictly an adverb
more a description, an exclamation
uncapturable
only glimpsely.
connects me to a faint something in the past
such wonders, and wondering
self-indulgent like Topaz
it's glimpsely.
all my mind in a dance of connotations ununderstood
like my breathing, contrived-seeming punctuation
(and humble, helpless, lowercase i's)
mystery of mind
is glimpsely.

January 25, 2010

I feel caged in.

I have things to say, but not the time or maybe even energy to say them. I want to talk to you!
But I have to catch up on school.

It comforts me that I am allowed to take a brief break and write this.
I weep.

Things I want to do.

It's a little too late for New Year's resolutions, and a little too early for birthday resolutions, but I have them nonetheless. Some of them may just be new week resolutions, or new month resolutions.

1. Stay awake. (and keep waking up early)
I mean this first literally, secondly metaphorically. Today I was so tired I took an hour-and-a-half nap in the middle of the day. Being tired all the time hinders the other things I want to do. So does being asleep spiritually. I will keep wrestling the angel; the curse that I want to undo is, as I remember, my not understanding. Quote from a boundless article that encouraged me: "But if you hold on, if you wrestle long enough — you won't leave empty-handed." (Oh, to know something is meaningful and not see how... sigh)

2. Read more.
I don't have enough wisdom to know what I should be doing, entirely. Plus, there are a bunch of books I've been wanting to read for a while that I may have time to read since Recap and YSG are completed. They are:
- Reading Like a Writer
- The Great Divorce
- The Sacredness of Questioning Everything
- Desiring God

Thinking about them makes me feel hardcore. =P And I still have to finish e e cummings' poems, and I have The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson on my shelf; I may or may not get around to reading it.

3. Pray more.
Praying for myself seems to make more sense than praying for other people. But I want to believe that "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

4. Put myself into NCFCA.
If I'm going to compete this year, I ought to actually care about it. I've spent most of the year limping along, preparing enough to blunder through the round robins, or answer my LD students' questions. In addition to really working on debate, I want my speeches to reflect truth, I want to believe in them. I really care about my Till We Have Faces DI, so I don't want to slack off on it. And somehow, I want to be able to redeem my duos for myself, and care about them. I want to do them for God and my audience, not to please Colleen. Maybe that's wrong? I don't want to be resentful about working on them, I know that much. And as for apologetics, I'm not sure what I'll do. I don't know how much time I have to work on my cards, but I at least want to be speaking from the truth I see in my life as I give the speeches.

5. Understand social justice.
I get the point of speaking truth in love. It's very hard to make myself care about people I don't know. I don't know if I should feel guilty that I'm not raising money for water purifiers or bednets or to free slaves. I know God values justice, but it's so very confusing.

6. Decide whether or not to apply to intern with CFC.
This is definitely a new year's resolution, because I have all the way until next January to decide. This year, I want to see if I believe in what CFC says enough to teach it. I understand the importance of communication, that it enables you to speak and share with others things that matter. But this year, I want to see if it is possible to speak about what matters. Not just speaking for the purpose of speaking, but caring about something and telling others about it. Related to this topic is my desire to understand community speaking better. I am completely willing to take whatever speaking opportunities are given to me, whether they want me to teach them or delight them or inspire them. But what about me pursuing chances to speak myself? I have no assignments that must be completed anymore, but if there's something that needs to be said, I can understand actively seeking people to say it to. Only I don't know if there is something that I believe in like that, that I should be taking to people I don't know, not just living it in the circle of people around me. Also, my parents are suggesting I get a job or get involved with a larger community than people I already know. Something to think about, and hopefully act upon.

7. Say "I love you" and mean it.
...Yeah. I only understand it as "God loves you" (even that, I don't comprehend: I desperately want to know more about God's love) or "I am trying to love you."

8. Progress on school work.
Obviously, this will happen. But I still feel like it's worth mentioning, because it is a thing I want to do, even if my mom will make sure it happens. I have lots of Calculus and Bahasa to do. And assorted other things. And SAT II's. :frowns: I also feel like I'm behind everyone I know in regards to planning for college. I simply don't know what I should major in, where I should study. Rutgers feels too obvious, as if choosing it would be no choice at all, simply defaulting to the only option I don't have to think about. I wonder how large scholarships I could get if I applied to other schools. I don't like thinking about college, even though I feel bad that I haven't. I guess it feels like an obligation.

These eight are basically all I've been thinking about today, I think. I want to say something inspiring and true, but I'm just listing off to-dos.

Another thing that doesn't fit with this post at all is that I am realizing that my memories from MASTERS are all about myself, how I changed, what I felt... I wish I could see my friends in my mind's eye more clearly, come away understanding them.

I feel like a broken record, all I say is "truth" and "understand." I don't know . . . I don't know if it's worth speaking if I don't understand myself, I don't know how to come away from this state, I don't know what truth to be comforted with. I seem to speak in order to say something, because talking and writing is the only way to move. I'm probably wrong. (oh, if I don't post this now than I won't ever; I hold so tightly to my own world; I almost want to post this so you all can know that I know I need to understand; thinking is so hard, living so challenging, and I'm so attached to semicolons)

January 24, 2010

Trying.

I could write for hours
Always looking back
Trying to sift through it all
Somehow only saying rightly

Slowly bits of today crawl in
Glimpses of present, of future
Trying to believe that I can move
Or change someone, something

Maybe I can only be moved
Or be changed, passively;
Trying to show beauty and order
I could write for hours

January 15, 2010

Realizes

I guess... I am aware that how I feel is not how I appear. I am aware that my silence, my musing, my questioning, my being makes people feel uncomfortable sometimes, they feel uncomfortable for me. Sometimes.

I do not know what I want: I feel happy and content just to be surrounded by life. I think it makes me feel a little out of it, when I hear people having conversations around me, and me being near them but not participating, not knowing how. I lack social skills? Maybe, or I just lack common knowledge. All I care about saying are thoughts, ideas, love.... (trails off, hoping her self-perception isn't too inaccurate)

I would share with you everything I think about, I would let you be with me, but if you don't ask, so be it. I look awkward, I even feel a bit awkward, yet in my mind I'm happy.

I'm speaking irrationally. Maybe I spend too much time by myself. Maybe this is just what I would say if I could say it to the RSA's....

I don't like thinking that the only way I understand love is through conversations. I don't like thinking I am just a silly delusioned sheltered girl who really doesn't know how to connect with the people around her. Maybe I am. how do I change it?

There is so much glory to be found in the world I know: the world I've been so discontented with, fought so hard to escape, but finally found to be one of the best places in all the world. And now, I leave my family, go out into friendships I hardly know.

(life is confusing)

I don't just want to love at a distance, love memories, love hopes, love the people I've believed they are. I want to love flesh-and-blood humanity, somehow, somehow! Even with my awkwardness, isn't it possible? Lord God, teach me to love.....

I'm up late anyway, might as well stay up later

This is really, really late for me.
I could go to bed.
I could thank people who've helped me finish all the Phases of YSG. Yeah... I should do that.

I guess I want to commemorate the amazing fact that I "have time" to blog. Hah!

I'm tired, though I don't want to be. Being tired reminds me of how much more tired I'll be when I have to wake up at 6 tomorrow (we're leaving for MASTERS). Sorry I haven't been available to talk to you at all these past few days.

It's such a cool feeling to have every blessed thing erased from my white-board list. Well, technically I have like two more things left to pack, my toothbrush and a book to read (which I didn't want to get because it would mean scavenging around while everyone else is asleep). That book is Reading Like A Writer which I read last year when I was doing AP English Comp, but I think it would be good to read again since I actually consider myself a writer now. I guess much has changed in a year. But I don't have the brainpower to analyze that subject.

I asked my dad to borrow two new books from the library for me (my dad really is the reason I never go to my own library): A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller, and The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark. I don't why I'm telling you this except to procrastinate from writing those letters. Hum.

Goodnight.

January 12, 2010

I am only someone.

All of my life, it seems like, I have been trying to give something. I think so much about what it means to express, and how to speak, how to communicate through art, through music, through service, through words.

I have nothing to give you but my hands: what service I can render you with the skills I've accrued; my time: to listen (and I fail so often to give this to you, I hold it back to do what I feel I must); my appreciation: because you, you, seem to have something to say and my life wants to echo its truth.

I have nothing to give you but a shell: a set of hands, a soul moving through time, a heart able - like so many others - to feebly respond.

I don't know, it doesn't make sense, what do I want, to be Truth itself?

I have nothing to give you.

Who cares if I can tell you what I've learned about expression, who cares? Who cares if I can parrot back what I've been taught, who cares?

Lilly said that I must have something to give my readers, something more than an empty ramble. Oh, there is something there to say, but it's been said better by so many people. And still, I want to study humanity so what I write can help people live better. But that tiny bit of substance - to live better - seems so weak against the force of everything I am not.

What makes something new? Truth is renewed in our understanding because of the lives in which they are realized. And so - being unique, truth should matter in my life. Because people are unique, saying things told before to them might, oh might, maybe, help them, bring forth God's kingdom.

I am a tool for someone else's words. And I've been trying so hard to express my own words, not because I'm trying to be prideful, but because that is the contents of my life right now, the assignments that I've committed to complete. I've been trying so hard to be faithful. Oh, it tires me out to keep searching for something to be expressed and to not find it, to not find it truly. When I give my final YSG presentation on Thursday, I so desperately want to leave my listeners with something, something.

I am only someone.

If I am resigned to only be a mouthpiece, to only be a life, then I grasp on to the only truth I know, the truth of grace. There is nothing that I can know but that, and lives and worlds where I see it to be true.

And now, I must span a divide, as only one person, somehow bringing grace into my speeches, my letters, my writings, my plannings, my art, my life. And I must persevere with action, somehow realizing its meaning though I fear that I have no time to spare. But I've found grace, and I do not simply express it, I have it for myself. I can breathe, now.

January 11, 2010

Early morning may just be the best time to live.

I woke up way too early and couldn't go back to sleep. This has happened almost every day since I came back from Malaysia.
God is so good to me.
Especially today.

January 9, 2010

losing control

Some say that you don't need to appreciate the artist to appreciate the art. Maybe that is true. However, I would prefer to talk about myself not just my art. I don't mean to spoil it for you.

I think a lot about the creative process. That feels like an understatement.

I may have finished my entry for the art contest. But I'm not sure. See, I checked the rules again today and realized I have all of tomorrow to finish it. So I may start over, I don't know.

Well, this is what I have.

I think I want to call it, "...Was blind, but now I see." Here's where you see that I'm losing control, as the title of this blog post says. An artist should be in control of his or her art, and the piece should stand by itself. I think art should be distanced from the creator of the art. Art is expression, and if it doesn't express by itself it fails to do its job. When I can't decide on a title I guess I make what I make more my own, and more uncertain. I'm not sure of the impact of that.

Strangely, though, much of this piece of art *is* intentional. I've thought of many ways to interpret it, and there's one that I specifically meant. But maybe it's also intentionally ambiguous? I don't know. The main problem with it is that it doesn't capture the entirety of the theme, Awakening: Rise Up. Reach Out. I'm fully aware that it lacks the part about reaching out: this is, I think, because I myself do not understand how to reach out fully. That last sentence is based on my theory that you have to understand to express.

So I may go back to the original idea. I was drawn to this one first because I had an emotional connection to it, it was based off of the sketch I posted yesterday, one meant not for beauty but for expression, not for communication with an audience but simply the need to communicate.

Another thought. That is that I am very tired: even if I bothered to read this post again I would not detect the multitude of flaws in the way it flows, or whatever else may be confusing and not-quite-present about the post.

Final thought. "And indeed there will be time." This quote really encourages me when I take it out of the context of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. It reminds me that everything, everything is how it should be for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. It's not how it should be on some level, I suppose, but I feel like no circumstance makes right impossible. I simply hope I do not sabotage myself, or act foolishly as I try to work. What I mean is, perhaps this blog post was a waste of precious time. Perhaps I needed to speak. "And indeed there will be time" is a good quote to think about when you're working, not when you're taking a break.

I know I said I was done, but that reminded me of something else. Maybe there will be time, but will there be energy? Will my voice be present to speak in friendliness where friendliness is required, and with eloquence where eloquence is required? I do not know. Romans 8:28 is more encouraging than T. S. Eliot today.

January 8, 2010

Grace is sufficiency.

I'd rather write than paint right now.

I deliberated much over my design for the "Awakening" art contest put on by ICC. The idea was to have a stone hand being transformed into a live one, by the light of the sun. The grass is supposed to be dead, to symbolize going from death to life, and how we awaken into life and certainty and reality and meaning. (I'll post my speech when I get around to writing it.) Here's the sketch I made. It's supposed to look like that, except in color and much more awesome.



But unfortunately, painting it has proved problematic. The skin doesn't look quite right, and I'm not sure how to do anything else.

So I switched to pastels.

And then it was going well, until I got to the sky. Or maybe the problems started at the grass. You could say I gave up trying to make this look good, with the green sky. But it makes sense in my head: why shouldn't life be symbolized by green? Because skies aren't green. . .

The easiest thing to do right now is scribble (either in words, or in pen).

I said drawing was relaxing, didn't I? My imagination isn't good at translating into paintings. Or maybe I'm just not a skilled enough tool. "Feeling is so much more eloquent." (I'm quoting myself: I've said it so many times in so many different contexts: feeling is more eloquent that they way we look when we're feeling angry or sad, feeling is so much more eloquent sometimes than the words we use to describe wispy moods, and now feeling, or even thought, is so much more eloquent than paper and pen and paint.)

"But seeing allegory in everyday lives may also make life something dually beautiful."

This article excites me so much. Firstly, because it talks about metaphors, and why we return to the same ones again and again. Secondly, because it is about awakening, ICC's very theme this year. (I found it while looking for images of stone figures to inform my art contest entry.)

January 7, 2010

I want to say something, but I'm too full of my own contradictions to tell you the truth.
(Conflicting thoughts about apathy and desire)

Butterfly


This was one of the most stressful assignments to complete, because I left it to the last minute, but it's one of my favorites.
(Media: My designer paint which is like acrylic but not exactly; felt-tip pen; brush and ink)

Mum's shoes

Drawing is very relaxing. I like drawing in pen. This post feels random.

January 5, 2010

Malaysian Food

You will have to be satisfied with the style with which this is written: I have some time on my hands and am determined to be productive. This post is one I have told myself I would write for quite some time. The "you" refers to everyone who I think reads my blog: my family and maybe my grandparents, my friends, and even the people who occasionally comment (or just follow) but whom I'm not completely who they are. The fact that the last category exists makes me feel special, in a very ridiculous way. So I'll start on my assigned topic. Oh, before that I will inform Catey and Hayley that I'm doing this at their prompting. =)

A while ago I wrote something about rojak in my notebook which is relevant. I meant to copy it here but I don't have my notebook with me right now. Sad, huh? To paraphrase what I remember: rojak is Malaysian fruit salad, with jicama and "jambu" and a few other fruits. It's served with a brown sauce topped with peanut crumbs. People say Malaysia is like rojak, a mix of different cultures. Like the salad bowl analogy for America.

What other interesting foods shall I tell you about? Did you know that coffee here is roasted with sugar and margarine mixed in? My dad and I agree it makes the coffee taste... well, not as good as American coffee. I think it's like Cafix, and tastes like burnt leaves.

Malaysia is unique in its food because it blends Chinese, Indian, and Malay cuisine. In general, the difference between the three is their base from the grain food group. Indians do roti (a commonly-used word for bread), Chinese do noodles, and Malays do rice. Of course, anyone familiar with Chinese people could tell you that they cook rice, too. And also the Malays serve noodles.

There are a bunch of types of noodles: do you really want me to enumerate them all? Suffice it to say that my favorite noodle dish is one served at little breakfast shops everywhere - the staple curry noodles. My dad orders it in Chinese, so I'm sure there's a proper name for it, but it's a very common dish. Essentially, it is composed of noodles (I prefer the mee hoon, which is a very thin noodle, apparently vermicelli) in curry soup. Often there are chunks of fried tofu, and little bits of tofu mixed in. Unlike many noodle dishes, it's actually served warm (or hot). Watch out, as you slurp it up with your chopsticks, that the spoon doesn't fall in. (Happens all the time.) :P

Now I suppose I'll talk about rice. I like rice a lot - it's a nice break from the oiliness of many noodle dishes and even roti. My favorite rice dish here was the green pandan rice I had two days ago. Pandan rice simply means that the normal rice (I think mine was long-grain) is flavored and colored (I almost added extra u's in those words) with pandan leaves. Talking about food like this makes me feel educated.

Now my organization of the foods and the people that cook them comes out to be rather elementary, because now I'm getting to roti and I realize that lot of people, not just Indians, cook roti, especially roti canai. (In Malaysia every c is pronounced "ch" like chocolate, just so you know.) Other amazing breads are naans (filled or flavored with potato, or garlic, or onion, or cheese, or butter), murtabak, (I may be spelling this wrong: basically it's like omelette with meat inside) and other types of roti. There's roti tisu, a flaky kind of bread, and roti kaya, which is like roti canai, but with a coconut paste, kaya, in it. Have I explained what roti canai is, anyway? I don't know how to define it - it's bread dough, cooked on a hot round metal surface, with lots of oil. It starts round and flat, like pizza but thinner and less "bready." Oh! pizza. My Yeh-yeh (grandfather) always tells this story about roti canai. (Well, he's told it at least twice, referenced it more, but that doesn't count as "always.") One of my aunts came to Malaysia and asked for pizza. It wasn't available anywhere near. Instead, they served her roti canai, and after that she didn't ask for pizza again. So that was the whole dream, as far as roti goes.

What else to say? I don't know that I feel very strongly about food. I think I've gotten a little tired of all the fried food. I really like the salads and smoothies we have all the time at home. Or maybe not- maybe I'm apathetic about food all the time. I do know that I really like mango lassi. It's a sweet and creamy drink. :)

My mom coined a term to explain what food we usually order: Vegetable Lover. Auntie Juliana then shortened it to "VL." The way she put it amused me, or to use her word, "tickled" me. :P

That's all I have to say about food, I think. Closing thought which doesn't summarize this post (I am a lazy writer): I think that the best part about meals is not the food, but the conversations. I enjoyed getting to know my relatives better on this trip. I think I'm going to be sad to go. I like thinking about connecting with people you don't really know but have a loyalty to because you're related. Families are interesting social units, don't you think? How is it that I have so much time with them, and so little time with friends, I wonder. And that's what makes me realize that they matter too. I think that's the reason I've come to appreciate them more and more as the trip has progressed. I like thinking about God orchestrating everything for his purposes, and the value of being fully where you are.

January 3, 2010

I Have Not

To have done is to have, to own something: a reward of being.
I have not because I have not been because I have not done.
I have not wondered in all; I have not wept at all; I have not wished for all.
And so I am left not understanding: I do not even understand what it is to not understand.
For this I am ashamed and I hide it in these words.

I say I hide it because I suppose you will have to read this twice or thrice over to grasp what I say. Or else you will feel like you do not understand either. This is unkind of me, and reminds me of life.

I should try to expand, explain: I should try to express what really is, freed from imaginary constraints about sounding enigmatic. But I do not know if I can explain, because it doesn't matter that I do not fully understand. I guess I only tell you as an excuse for silence.

There seem to be a thousand ways to speak, and I don't know which I mean. I think of pride and shame: if they're the same thing. They cannot be, but they seem to go together. I think of poetry, and expression, and if some things cannot be explained, because the bewildering (I like that word, bewildering; I used it at least twice in my novel) way it said is the truest to what it is and the impression it should give to convey its meaning. I wonder if knowing something fully will allow us to express it with beauty. And now the knowledge of my insufficiency is still there, but the feeling is gone. If I cared only to talk about how it felt, I have nothing left to say.

Why did I, do I, write this?

How strange it is to know my questions and the answer to all of them, but be lost and uncertain of the space between them. Today I finished rereading Till We Have Faces and I know that before the face of God all questions die away, because He is the answer.

Plato says knowledge is true, justified, belief. Maybe one day I'll understand the justification for the Answer fully; maybe one day I will have knowledge.

(Maybe one day I will discover how to speak seriously without being pretentious, or to say something that is more than just a response to the thoughts of another - though that seems unlikely- and maybe one day I will finish well.)

Um?

Life goes on.