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My mind keeps drifting back to thoughts about a boat, long and slender, with cabins of lacquered pine. I get jib and sail in mind, on days like these. Summer days, when the ground can’t move, make me ache a little for something I have never experienced: to awake to swayings and gusts (with an "h," breathed like
) for breakfast. Sometimes it takes this slender shape, other times an older goal, the houseboat-life. I would name it
, and love it; I wouldn't have a horse, but I'd be a sea rustler. I would go out on the ocean.
The phoenix often follows me around. At thirteen I befriended a weirdo kid in my troop who called himself “Azrael” and "trained" obsessively as a Batman sociotype, the latest vol. not in ink, but in nerdy flesh. Vigilantism often waxed hypothetically in our dialogues: subjunctive straits during which I was nicknamed “the Phoenix.” I had no vigil beyond pencils, but the idea of a personal symbol drew me. In turn I drew an anthropomorphic bird as a graphic signature. Pagan symbolism is empty for me now, but I notice when firebirds adorn a girl’s dress, or lend identity to others.
So bug out and skip the church crowd then, no not church, just the crowd of people asking you how you're doing, hoping you don't say much that's uncomfortable to listen to. No, they
, but sometimes listening to how someone “is” is a pain, when the answer is not "good."
Yes. Lovingly ditch and go. Finish a few things so you can meet her and her funny brother by the old coffee house. You'll go across town to the store full of hipster clothing, named after a crossroads, where you’ll buy perfect Nike waffle-tread shoes for such reasonable prices.
Happiness is an increment of a kind of joy, a subtype and denomination of an archetype, as a penny to money. Money may take the form of colored paper slips, or coinage, even rectangular, bumpy plastic slats. Pennies are of the coin variety, or subtype, and are a denomination of money, each equaling one cent, or one one-hundredth of the value of a dollar.
Happiness is one [number]th of the value of another denomination or kind of joy, but it is itself a denomination of joy (assuming it is true happiness, and not merely pleasure derived from a perversion of happiness.)
She deliberately asked for the wrong person, with a blank expression. The middle-aged director of international students’ ESL, last year’s brochure in hand, should know whom to ask. But she inquired after Lori, who had just begun her nine-month leave only a week ago. Everyone was instructed to speak with Lois, the office manager, about any new project requests. But Lois was at lunch. I thought it odd that she didn’t ask for Lois, but Lori. I leapt at the chance to take a new project, assuring her I could design it. Later I was told she always circumvents Lois.
“Am I this person?”
“I should make this right somehow. I want words, to something to do that will fix everything. I’m stuck, I don’t know what to do. God please direct me! Make me a man of certitude and character!”
When a man goes his own way, the fear of true guilt before God is stunning. Amid career troubles, money questions and his confused, broken heart, all he had left seemed to be: analyze, solve.
But how, without God?
Prayers; a relaxed grip, a slouch of quiet joy.
“Rest, wait. I Am. I will do it.”
A female friend and I discussed the odd draw we both feel toward Estella Havisham, a character we both loathe. Estella has a regal beauty, and a tragic bent for heartless exertion of romantic power. She has been trained, almost programmed, to destroy the hearts of men by her looks and snooty coquetry. Unlike Helen, who unintentionally launched a thousand ships with her beauty, Estella is content to destroy men internally, one at a time. It’s scary to think any female reader would feel the urge to imitate Estella, and fascinating to realize I agree with Pip, that she’s worthwhile.
Week 18 represented my chance to redeem week 9. The Whiskey Swiggers had only one loss all season, and I was prepared to hand them their second. Quentin homered once, and this week Ludwick homered four times. The return of Soriano from the DL (finally!) brought in 3 more. I won by about 60 points, which I could not have done without my outfield’s combined 102. Kinsler began a slump, after almost 30 games during which he only failed to score 5 times. By this point he leads the league in runs, as does my team over our baseball league.
This time last year I’d returned from another visit to North Carolina, my ‘07 foray into friendly eastern states territory. I was troubled by disunity among my college chums. We’d all been trying to grow out of old trappings, but couldn’t do it together. I wrote one friend (in a note I never sent), “I found a tight spot between K______'s underdeveloped truisms and your avoidance of everything cliché, and I tried not to squirm there. It made me miss the days when you worshipped the ground he walked on (for no real reason) while he yammered about deer season.”
Two years ago to this day, I was planning a trip out east. I sent an email to my friends to see who was up for an adventure. Of course my hippie friend Kenneth was game. He lived in Jasper, GA. Rob the Atlanta band-manager was interested too as was Jon, my NC hippie friend. But the wedding I was to attend was in northern Virginia, over six hundred miles from Georgia. A plan began to form, slowly and chaotically beautiful in my mind: I’d just drive up with my two crazy hippie friends, all in one night. Why not?
My Summer "Appearance Management."
Wayfarers and skinny ties to every social function, yes sirs and ma'ams. In blurry photos.
Chuck Taylors in three colors.
Yellow mai-tai flip-flops, purple tee, teal hoodie with white zipper.
Five pairs of Levi's 514, almost everything else gets cut off to become shorts.
My now-old cowboy half-boots.
• Restaurant: "Frozen yogurt increases colon protection." Fro-yo-colon!
• Ignoring self-paced class; earned an "NP." After a 4.0 year, THAT feels like summer.
• Backpacked, ran and hiked 35+ miles distance, and 16,000 ft altitude, all told, so far.
Summer is an amazing difficulty in retrospect, trying to recapitulate all that I have enjoyed, desired and experienced. Nobody really knows the truth of it, or comprehends what a summer means, except God himself. He made summer to be special the way it is special, as no other season could be. He alone could understand why fall makes us industrious, winter inspires snuggling, spring is imaginative, and summer flourishes and reddens our cheeks with action. Only the maker of the world would understand such a subtle nuance, whose very existence, like His, might be denied entirely by less sensitive sorts.
There are so many things I haven't trusted Him to do, because it's hard to trust that He's going to make things right after I mess them up. My friend wrote a bit about His "producing needs for us," which is something I was just telling another friend on the phone two nights ago while I was walking my dog. Ultimately He is what we need, not the other things; He allows us to "need" the other things so we'll come to Him. I think gratefulness, or thankfulness, is the way to abide in Him when things are going well.
As a tactile person, I find it easier to design print than web content. The electronic world inside my computer, and the matrix of other computers, is too fluid and intangible to be arranged about like paper and ink. I know how to use electronic elements as implements for paper media; intangible catalysts are natural to me, because creativity and God himself are familiar parts of my artistic process. But using this electronic tool to create intangible art is different, a more challenging horizon. I am arranging slippery fish in a tank, but they won’t hold still or look proper.
Love bears all things. That means that love is able to bear up under something, to bear the tension. The saying originally was in Greek, and the word could also be taken to mean a covering, as in a watertight, tautly-roped cover. Love does not leak, it does not break under the weight or the pull of that which it loves. This seems nearly impossible. Those we love always can and will stretch us to our limits. Love also believes all things. This seems impossible. How can love believe a lie, without compromising truth? Love is clearly beyond, above me.
On the Xanga website, there are certain people who are playfully coined “Xangalebrities.” They’re people who get a lot of comments from other bloggers, no matter what they post. Part of the reason is that somewhere along the line, more and more people became interested in their blog, and now they have monstrous power. If they recommend a writer’s blog post, it will be read by hundreds of people in a matter of hours. If those people also like and recommend it, it is sometimes featured on the front page, earning the small-time blogger more subscribers and much more exposure.
So there are racists, and then those who respond to racism with hate. I am opposed to this on every level, because I am required to respond rightly when someone who is a “minority” says something racist about me. Also, there is the problem of solutions. If someone’s racism causes me to be hateful, then I have merely joined my mocker among the ranks of hateful people. It’s counterproductive. In my mind, there are people who are fighting the societal problem of racism, and there are those who are contributing to it. If I respond wrongly, I am a contributor.
I wrote a response to some people who blogged about their hatred for racism. So what, right? I thought a couple of my readers might read it, but I didn’t think anyone else would. I only have a handful of active blog subscribers. My post defended the innate value of humans. People agree with that idea, apparently. Overnight the post garnered 20+ “recommends,” an honor I had almost never received before. I tried to write responses to all the supportive comments from strangers, as there were many. I admit I began to hope I’d be featured on the front page.
Americans really don't have much history of wars on our own turf. However, if someone attacks my country, my community, and I don't go find a gun and shoot back, I am an anarchist and an enemy of civilized, peaceful society, because I am unwilling to fight to defend it. That's pretty simple. Likewise, if one person starts attacking and killing peaceful citizens, he is to be fought by society as an enemy and a disease. If he is not fought, others will take his side against society. If you were paying attention, this is essentially what happened at VT.
This morning I woke up with a lead shield over my eyes, my eyelids heavy like metal doors on the windows of an army tank. I was up late last night, and this morning I'm feeling it. It wasn't as though it had been bad. I knew why I was up, I was getting things done I needed to do. But this morning, bed was the only thing that felt right. Why do I still live here? Why do I still work two jobs that barely pay? Why am I so tempted to be a lame employee all the time?
I finally ordered postcards two days ago. I promised my mom I would do them this summer, and one of my friends made me promise to do it by the 18th. So I did it on the 19th. Close enough. Deadlines usually help me to function normally, even if they're arbitrary deadlines. I may need business cards, but not by any particular date,
. So, I might have never done them. If I don’t need them today, they may as well wait till another day. I may have needed them 6 months ago, but that thought carries less impact.
In a recent note to a female friend:
“…let me urge you to abandon all else for Christ, increasingly, as you have been, and more-so. …heed the woman in Song of Songs, who is brown as a nut from hard work, and humble in appearance; she does not look to her own appearance or affairs, but is productive and fruitful working for others (1:6), her heart and body are as a wall, not a door (8:9), inaccessible to anyone until her Beloved comes at the right time... If your heart is inaccessible to anyone but God, …it will be glory.”
I have nothing to say or write. And I hate that. It makes me think, "maybe my brain is empty, maybe I have nothing to offer anyone anymore." But I think writers' block and speechwriters' block and songwriters' block are all functions of inability to see that which is obvious to oneself but not so obvious to others. The inability to recognize one's own point of view as just that, a point of view, and thus interesting to others, is a handicap best circumvented by typing till something has been typed, then reading it over. Invariably, something will be there.
The deepest sadness comes in memories of her voice. I loved to hear her quavering tones of adopted confidence, as though she’d found it orphaned in the street, made instantly her own by the unofficial love given of a childless parent. Her enthusiastic, full-throated laugh would burst forth at unscripted moments, full of mirth at a shared imagination. She was a solid sponge of southern positivism soaked in the wry liquid sarcasm of the country, which sounds jaded when it really, secretly wonders. “Possibilities” was then the motto, creed and battle-cry of the hopeful maybe. All was possible, new-sprouting growth.
I feel immature and out-of-control, whenever I become worried about the affections of a woman. Specifics don’t matter. Whether I fear being unable to gain her esteem, or that I shall lose it upon a misstep of some mine or irresolution of hers, or knowing I am incapable of returning a friend’s offered love, I tighten up and constrict inside. To avoid introspection: I know these things to be all falsenesses, as intangible as myth and lacking any root in reality. But I marvel at emotions and passions that become as unmanageable as a California wildfire, finding myself so inflammable.
Junk mail is the process by which our church has decided to alert the neighborhood that we have just moved in. Some hope that this will cause neighbors to visit. Originally recruited to design the flyers, I am now deeply engrossed in analyzing small precinct or census maps to extract mailing addresses for all the houses in the vicinity of my church. It's not a bad idea, especially since the card we're sending advertises free ice cream. But it still seems odd looking at people's homes from above, trying to surmise their address, as though in a stealthy, round-about manner.
Nothing can be said, nor done, when a man is charged with walking his best friend to the place of execution, to willingly shoot his hoped bosom companion in the heart and let her fall where she may from the impact of the bullet. Shouldn’t I grieve in heart, though I do my duty? I know not that the round will surely carry home to her vitality, or that I will do much damage that has not already been done. But it does seem entirely inhumane to fully disarray such beautiful dreams and expectations in so lovely a little person.
Mercy of all mercies, comedy of all comedies, that tragedy which turned into a laugh when the hero arose from behind the props on the stage, to reveal to all of us watching that He is not in fact powerless to resolve the crises, that He is not finally tragic at all, but truly a hero without flaw,
Hero. Where belief in a happy ending was a ridiculous notion only an act earlier in the play, it seems now obvious the victory won, the relief of the comedy having been played out before our eyes by a clever Protagonist.
There is too much Starbucks. For the uninitiated, Starbucks is a company that started small in Seattle, roasting and serving European style coffee, also known as espresso. Due to the popularity of coffee-house culture in urban United States during the 1990’s, Starbucks’ aggressive branding, sharp-yet-moody atmosphere and reliable drink menu made for a fast-growing retail success. Near the end of the “00” decade, Starbucks stores are as common as gas stations, banks and McDonald’s restaurant chains. Though their coffee remains, Starbucks’ atmosphere and business model have declined. The menu is dilute with empty sugar, the shelves loaded with gaudy nick-knacks.
Today I got up late, I thought, filled with comfortable thoughts and notions, happy with the way the difficult things in my life have taken a turn for the better. Though I knew what God wanted me to do, it seemed such an impossible thing. Then having done it, I found my reluctance to have been (mis)informed by assumptions, worry and anticipation of various griefs. These concerns proved to have no root in reality at all. Instead I found things laid out for me, as though God had arranged things such as to be easier upon obedience. It was early.
Traveling to other churches is not my favorite pastime, because it can prove really troubling. If you go to someone else's church and it is bigger and more impersonal than you are used to, or smaller and more intimate (and thus more intense) than is your custom, you feel out of place immediately. Even if you're convinced these people believe the same God, you feel different, and alienated by the amount of work it would take to establish a familiarity with them. But this often stretches us, and is therefore a good thing, and even enjoyable in strongly hospitable churches.
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