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I imagine this is how Joseph Heller felt after completing
; or more contemporary, how Marc Cohn felt after completing
Walking In Memphis
. February was my best month of entries by far. After completing something so creatively monumental (albeit for me on a much smaller scale than Heller and Cohn, obviously), where does one go thereafter?
The fear is that creativity is not some unlimited fount but rather some drawn-from well, which when depleted is forever dry. After giving my all for 28 days, I feel as if I sprinted the first mile in a marathon – the dryness, it hurts.
Most people don’t realize that the Ten Commandments were handed down
to the Israelites. In Exodus 20, God handcarves the commandments onto two stone tablets. Moses heads back to camp with them, and upon seeing the Israelites’ degradation and sin (The Golden Calf fiasco), he throws down the tablets, which shatter. God rewrites them in Exodus 34.
What I take from this:
1. These basic religious principles are so important, God imprints them in stone twice.
2. God is all about second chances.
3. There is something special about a God who takes the time to personally handwrite instructions.
It is no small wonder that she stumbles so often, considering her 2 ½-years-old legs carry not only her 30 lb frame, but also the weight of all my love and adoration. My compulsions drive me to constantly pick up her toys, to constantly throw away the knickknacks that seem to reproduce all over our house; yet they don’t prevent me from buying some little gift for her on my way home from work. She’ll marry one day, love another, and though I’ll celebrate her happiness, my single-minded heart will break under the weight of its own expectation.
Idol, Jealous I am
Contrary to popular belief, jealousy is not a sin. Jealousy is the innate response to someone moving in on your beloved. Envy is the corruption of jealousy -- there’s the sin, the sin of desiring what is not yours.
I asked him not to play for her when she visited; he thought that no big deal. In fact, when she was here, and spotted the guitar, he returning from somewhere with it, and she asked him to play, he politely declined. His voice was tired, he said, and my insides blurred. Should non-sinful responses breed guilt?
Obviously I didn’t have a costume. Feigning illness wasn’t working, not at home, not here. The minutes ticked by, and the appointed time was approaching. I reached inside my desk to our art activity and carefully colored as boldly and as precisely and as artfully as was in me. I attached the elastic band, stapled, and when the time came, I walked as quickly as possible, several times bumping into Jesse in front of me, hoping maybe my haste would infect my classmates and bring this parade to its red-faced end. Could they see me? I hope not.
Six Days, Then
the days were quickly passing and I was rushing headfirst toward some end I did not want walking toward a career I had not thought of answering unspoken (and spoken) wishes without reflection and for six years I’d been preparing myself to be here to do what I was doing and the worst part of it was that I couldn’t see that from where I was standing experiencing it and what I needed but certainly not what I wanted was a stopping point a resting point a breathing point and finally He said Stop. here. you. go.
Father, Mother, Honor
They’d traveled 3,000 miles to see me graduate, despite her abhorrence to travel. The airsickness made her no less dignified that morning. While classmates hugged and kissed their relatives, I stood by my parents, taking in their continuous smiles. In one apparently unrehearsed motion, both reached out to pat and squeeze my upper arm. And I realized I’d been wrong all along. They weren’t proud of me, in the sense they had something, someone to brag about to friends. They were happy for me, knowing my life was now markedly better. They’d done all this for me.
The thing about most sins is they’re reversible. If I lied to you, I could easily tell you the truth. If I stole your car, I could return it or even buy you a new one. If I were to make a graven image of God, like the golden calf, I could destroy it.
But not murder. Murder is permanent. Killing someone else is not reversible, and the life taken away is irreplaceable. Of the ten commandments, this is the fifth – but the first that required no explanation as to why it’s not permissible. This one was self-explanatory.
Shall Not Commit
I believe in capital punishment, but only for two crimes. The first is murder. If you take the life of another human, your life needs to be taken in response. I know that if anyone were ever to take away the life of someone I loved, I would be the first to volunteer to hunt and kill the perpetrator.
The second crime is adultery. Marriage is the sacred union of two lives to one. Betraying the one dissolves the union, takes the life away from that unified entity. Murder, really. For which death is no less appropriate.
Shalt Not Steal
He’d found the eleven dollars while we were visiting the flower gardens. I imagine someone had reached into his pocket, maybe pulled out a tissue, the loose bills falling out. My brother picked them up, and my other brother and I spent the next few days figuring out how we could get those bills for ourselves. We eventually ended up selling him some of our junk. His response, “It’s not like I could use it anyway.” He was six. I don’t know what was worse – the abuse of his trust or the abuse of his youthful innocence.
Bear Witness, Neighbor
He invited me to church, harmless enough. I don’t know why I agreed when I knew full well it wasn’t an option. When he pressed me for details, I told him to call me, hoping he’d overlook the fact he didn’t have my number. But he didn’t and asked for my number. So I made one up. The next day at school, he confronted me, saying some woman kept answering and denying I lived there. What did I do? Lied again, of course. “My sister often does that.” How was I to know he’d publicly confront her?
House, Wife, et al
There were times I never wanted to leave. The furniture was nicer, softer. The television was larger, and filled with channels I hadn’t even heard of. Snacks flowed freely, and his mother’s genuine friendliness was never more apparent than in her random hugs goodbye. I’d be chauffeured home and upon exiting the car, the fantasy would die. Drabness would greet me like a fistful of water. The colors seemed more muted, the furniture more bricklike. The unwatched five channels remained off. I’d head to my room to lie down. The two worlds colliding hurt my eyes.
It’s been fifty-five days since my last mention of
The Two Towers
My favorite scene in the movie is the conclusion of the Battle of Helm’s Deep. Aragorn, King Theoden, et al charge forth from the castle against all odds, and before they are overwhelmed and the world fallen to ruins, Gandalf appears with Eomer. There is something completely uplifting in that moment that moves me. The idea of salvation when all hope is lost, of being rescued unexpectedly when you have given your all and it is not enough.
This pretty much sums up my thoughts on religion, too.
We have a great relationship, he and I. I promise to feed him when he’s hungry; he promises to spit up on me when he’s done. I promise to dress him in cute clothes; he promises to pee through them, going through two or three outfits a day. I promise to hold him to me, so close his heartbeat makes my stomach flutter with love; he promises to look at me cross-eyed and fall asleep when I’m talking to him. We have a great relationship, he and I, albeit unequal. But I’m doing my best to catch up to him.
Books That Would Have Been Written If Dr. Seuss Had Corporate Sponsors
Green Eggs and Hormel Ham
And To Think That I Saw It On PBS’ Sesame Street
One Swoosh, Two Swoosh, Red Swoosh, Blue Swoosh (from Nike)
Fox in Ralph Lauren Polo Socks
The 500 Stylish Gap Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins
The Cat in the Tommy Hilfiger Hat
The Cat in the Tommy Hilfiger Hat Comes Back to Buy Another
Hop on Coca-Cola Soda Pop
Horton Hears the New Who CD (MCA Records)
How The Grinch Stole a Hallmark Christmas
Oh, The Places You'll Go!, Like Disneyland or DisneyWorld
From our seats in this restaurant on the beach, I could see the dozens of kites kissing the clouds. Cloud-kissing kites, this is what this city was known for. This restaurant beneath the kissed clouds, it was known for that, too. I ordered a caesar salad though I’d never before had one. But a new marriage maybe calls for a new diet. When the salad came, I took a bite, and to my amazement it was wonderful. I hadn’t realized what I’d been missing. But maybe this is what new marriages beneath kissed clouds are known for. New, wondrous things.
St. Patrick’s Day always reminds me I’m an irreverent Catholic. Follow my train of thought here. When Catholics first get baptized, they also receive their name in the church. They get to choose their patron saint. This process is usually supposed to be deeply meditative, with the supplicant praying and thinking about the saint they feel represents the virtues to which they wish to aspire. My two finalists were St. Patrick because he had a holiday and St. James because he was on the Monopoly board. I chose Monopoly because I didn’t like the color green. Deeply meditative, I am.
I hate alcohol, but I’m not a prohibitionist. I believe people have a right to choose their means of (self) destruction, however much I hate to give them that right. Here in New York City, St. Patrick’s Day is a whole different world. Whole streets are sectioned off for the parade, green-clad tourists crowd your every move, and kegs are rolled down streets in full view of sober-minded officers. I’m certain the streets are a horror to clean up the next day, but much less difficult, I’m even more certain, than cleaning up the alcohol-wrecked lives and rueful morning afters.
My parents gave me a name I cannot properly pronounce with my Americanized accent. The pronunciation defies the rules of standard English spelling. So it’s no surprise that both my son and daughter have conventional first names. I didn’t give any thought to whether or not my parents would have difficulty pronouncing their names because of their accents. My parents usually put the emphasis on the wrong syllable, marking their grandchildren’s names with unique accented love. And I wonder if my children’s names are so foreign to them that they feel different – as different as I felt saying my own?
it ended simply with whispers in our hearts which you whispered on to me one wintry night which I whispered back to you in tired resignation without a whispered fight but in between the whispered separation and the morning next’s first light the whisper’s strength took flight with full reconciliation no longer whispering from its impossible height as dual submission became a whispered dream made right much to His great delight and frustration’s distance no longer undergirding our whispers with its spite and I am left placing this ring on your finger wondering when everything amazingly transformed alright
My parents are scheduled to visit us next week to see my new son. My mother despises flying, but for a grandson she’ll make the sacrifice. However, with the start of war with Iraq, they called me today to express that they were having second thoughts about flying cross-country during wartime. What was startling was that these doubts weren’t initiated by my flight-averse mother, but by my father. As I let him know that we were fine with them postponing, I realized that I was hearing something in his voice which I’d never heard or seen in him before:
I didn’t realize how competitive I was about grades until my sophomore year of high school. I never really looked at my report cards since I always expected perfection. I remember doing a doubletake when I saw my first midterm report card showing my US History teacher had given me an A-. When I confronted her about the minus, she told me she did it to teach me a lesson about grades and to see how I’d handle imperfection since midterms weren’t recorded. My reaction was to tell the principal to force her to change my grade to an A.
I’m glad the Academy Awards are still going on tonight. Heaven forbid they should cancel the event because of the war. If Hollywood were to live in fear of a terrorist attack and had to cancel its premier event, then the terrorists would already have won. And doesn’t America need a break from the seriousness and horror that is war? Hollywood needs to carry on for
This is such utter garbage that it makes me want to obliterate Hollywood myself. What the celebrities are saying is this: even war will not stop us from patting ourselves on the back.
Soapbox time: The fact that
won Best Picture over
The Two Towers
reflects how badly we need to scrap the Academy Awards. Bad enough they often award actors/actresses for lifetime bodies of work instead of for performances that year (Pacino, 1992). Bad enough they hand out awards to make political statements (Hanks instead of Hopkins, 1993). Bad enough
Fellowship of the Rings
. But for the best movie of all time to lose to a second-rate musical with a happy ending? Keep toasting yourselves, Hollywood, and drift away into non-importance and irrelevance like the United Nations.
I think the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” don’t accurately capture the range of personalities. To some, I’m an extrovert. I’m very good at random conversations with strangers; I’m very good at schmoozing with people at company functions; I’m good at being generally sociable and outgoing. If I had my way, however, I’d spend all my time with just my family and shut out the world. I’d prefer to keep to myself than spend time with others. Am I an extrovert or an introvert? The terms should be redefined to better capture whether you like other people, or just pretend to….
sometimes you lose your sight in the blink of an eye and it’s in that millisecond blink that fate turns a blind eye to your vision of things to come because your dry eyes can’t see through veils of tears without watering down memories to something more blurry than snapshots moving upstream against your pictured future you blink again and for a millisecond that blinked blindness is more clear to you than the light thereafter so maybe if I close my eyes tight enough then maybe just maybe I can celebrate or commemorate commiserate? and see you really see you
I guess you can consider it proof that love is stronger than our greatest fears and anxieties. My parents decided to come visit us despite their reservations of flying during wartime. My mother decided that the hugs and kisses of two grandchildren would be remedy enough for terrible airsickness. My father decided that holding the first-born son of his first-born son was worth the terror of war – his first-hand experience with war and what it entails doubling his personal sacrifice. Maybe they finally realized that living in anticipation of peril isn’t living at all. I should learn this lesson, too.
In examining what I’ve written the past 7 ½ months, I’ve noticed that most of the pieces I’ve written that aren’t me speaking my mind, the ones that have tried to convey emotion or tried to be artistic, have been for the most part sad. They’re about heartbreak, or doleful memories, or a terrible revelation of some sort. Is it because I’ve had an unhappy life? On the contrary, I feel as blessed as humanly possible. Is it, then, because I don’t know how to express happiness creatively? Maybe. If pain and sadness are my only muses, God help me.
Perception is a funny thing, especially when you’re five. In kindergarten, I had this friend named Eric. I considered him one of my closest friends. About a week before Christmas break, Eric disappeared. I didn’t see him for more than a month. Several weeks after everyone else returned from break, Eric showed up again, only with a different last name. My teacher acted like she knew he was coming back late, and expected his name change. To me he was a completely different person. I couldn’t figure out why his last name and extended vacation somehow ended our friendship prematurely.
Can you love someone who’s never been, or at least never been in a form that others can tangibly see? Can you lose someone you never really had except in that place in your heart you had reserved? Can you consider it a loss if the gain had never been realized except in thought and with God? There is an ache worse than the ache of loving someone and not being loved back – it is the ache of loving someone and not having the chance to ever be loved back, a void of potential love unknown large enough for three.
This month was so excruciatingly tough, my fingers feel numb. But I’ve committed to doing this for exactly one year. Next month, I’m going to try my hand at poetry. Prior to last year, I wasn’t a fan of poetry. I could read it and tolerate it. But I don’t think I ever really appreciated the beauty behind the choice of words, or the structure of the rhymes and rhythm. I’ve written a few poems the past few months, read some more poetry. I’d like to try a month of them. A poem one day, followed by explication the next.
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