Wednesday, November 30, 2005

fried ice cream snowmen

I have five things on today's to-do list. They are all huge undertakings. I haven't done any of them. And my brain is exhausted. Maybe if I do just a leeeetle bit of each of the tasks, it'll count.

Let the countdown begin. The kind of countdown that doesn't really require counting. As long as there are days left in this semester, there are too many and too few.

Possibly inspired by my frosty-wintry looking door wreath, I have the second half of "Winter Wonderland" in my head. It will forever stick out in my mind as the Christmas holiday winter song from my childhood. And to think, I didn't really understand some of the lyrics then. This was me:

in the meadow, we can build a snowman / and pretend that he is parson brown (what kind of color is parson brown?) / he'll say, "are you married?" / we'll say, "no, man / but you can do the job when you're in town." (what job? i don't get it. what job?) / later on, we'll conspire (transpire, aspire, perspire) / as we dream by the fire / to face unafraid (this made no sense to me. now i know it was because we should've been singing an adverb instead of an adjective) / the plans that we made / walking in a winter wonderland

Sunday, November 27, 2005


I have a list of letters I need to write.

Like the kind you fold up and put in an envelope (other acceptable variations: the kind you fold up and put in a Christmas card and then put in an envelope, the kind you type into a text box interface thingy and click send).

Then there are the single little shapes that, if you clump them together, make words. And if you clump enough of the words together, you get whole ideas. And if those letters, words, and ideas proliferate so that you can clump, arrange, and tweak them a bit, you end up with things like a research paper, a teachable unit plan, an eight-page paper about what I learned from doing a project, a revised short story, and if you're lucky, a decent blog entry.

Oh, how lucky.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A picture of God

I've said it a hundred times over. I want to be a writer. And though I may not demostrate it very well here, I can work with words pretty well. The problem, though, is that a writer must have something to write about. Words are nothing unless they're wrapped around an idea, some beautiful truth, right? But I'm learning to see the beauty and truth in the experiences of every day. It's real and it's not foreign.

Tonight, Sara Groves was singing about a song that beauty and why it matters in our lives, about how the story God's telling us and putting us in is beautiful. And the end of that song goes, "Like a single cup of water / How it matters." And it reminded me:

When I worked at Hart lab on Sunday nights a couple semesters ago, there was a non-trad lady who would be there every time. I guess I didn't notice her at first, but one day, she came in the Applied Science lab where I worked throughout the week. I worked with her for about an hour, trying to see if she could edit a PDF. We never figured it out, but she was grateful nevertheless.

I suppose it was after that day that I began to notice her in Hart. She had set up camp in that lab, often leaving her belongings (textbooks, project materials she'd been working on for countless hours, whatever) spread out around her workstation while she would be gone for extended amounts of time. I guess she had faith in the other students, that they wouldn't take her things.

One time when she had left for nearly half an hour, she came back in the door with a bag from Fast Track. And she handed it to me. "For me?" I asked her. "Yes, I thought you might be hungry." She was serious. So I took the plastic sack from her, thanked her, and sat there at my computer, dumbfounded. She smiled and went back to her work.

I opened the bag, and inside was a red apple, a small package of peanut butter and crackers, and an ice cream. I wasn't hungry and it was against the rules to eat in the lab (and I, being the lab supervisor), but I ate the crackers and the apple (the ice cream was already kind of melty) out of sheer gratitude. I don't know if she had money on her meal plan left over and bought these items with me in mind or if she got full and decided to give me the rest of her meal or just what. I have no idea. But she gave it to me, and I know (if I know anything) that it was with love. And that is true love -- perplexing, uncommon, and beautiful love. Love like a cup of cold, fresh water when you're thirsty.

It's been just over a week since the woman known to many as Nana -- known only to me as the kind lady who gave me a sack of food from Fast Track out of the goodness of her heart -- was killed in a hideous accident. When I heard her name in the news, I did not recognize it, but it was still very sad to me. It broke my heart. And it had crossed my mind that the victim of the hit-and-run was the woman from Hart. It was confirmed to me yesterday when I saw her face on the front page of the Murray State News.

In the front-page article and in a piece on the opinion page, people gave testimony of Nadia Shahin's pure spirit, her kindness, her gratefulness. And I knew it was true. She had shown both her kindness and gratefulness to me. When I had deserved neither. That is love. That is beauty. She gave me a single cup of water. And now in shadow of her death, I can see how it mattered -- to me and to everyone else around her.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

the least i could do

It's been a while, sooo here I am.

Today was Wednesday-like, as Wednesdays often are. We workshopped my story in fiction. That went well. I always have mixed feelings about my stories. It's so hard for me to see a story as it is as opposed to how I think I've written it. I got some great compliments and some very constructive suggestions. And Hovie says I've grown as a writer. That's all that matters.

I had fabulousthanksgivingdinner at Winslow tonight with Holly. And tomorrow night, we're consummating our love (for Harry Potter, that is) and going to the midnight showing of Goblet of Fire. Oh, and this weekend is the Jars of Clay and Sara Groves concert featuring Donald Miller. I'm very excited about that. It all makes for a fine weekend.

I'm also going to try to get ahead on some end-o'-the-semester stuff. Yes, I hear it now. Your (my) snickering and doubt is tangible. But I've got a ten-page research paper, a twenty-page unit plan, a linguistic term project, and a revised writing porfolio all due in three weeks-ish. I think I've already picked my research paper topic. I've looked up some sources, and I checked two books out of the library today. Let's hope I can actually start the doing process. It's such a foreign concept to me, getting things done started halfway early, that I don't know what to do with myself.

Next week, as far as school goes, is going to be gloriously short. It'll be like waking up early and realizing that I can go back to sleep for two more hours. There's hardly anything more beautiful.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A testament to the times

Someone mentioned having to bring in some sort of cultural artifact -- like clothes, art, food -- from a Spanish speaking country for their class. And it reminded me of the day, just a few days before I left Spain, that Lola taught me how to make tortilla espaƱola. Now, I am craving it. I think I'm going to run to a nearby grocery and get some potatoes so I can make tortilla espaƱola.

It's practically the end of the semester. Final papers and projects have been assigned. Final exams have been spoken of. (So far, I'm going to have at least two open-book exams. That's new.) That means it's time for me to start wasting my time in hyper mode. I'll probably be working up a new blog design soon. A testament to the times.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Where'd I put my fig leaf?

I've been doing this Donald Miller book marathon in preparation for his coming to Murray. Okay, it's not a marathon or race or anything like that, but before, I'd just read Blue Like Jazz, which I like a lot, so I managed to get my hands on Through Painted Deserts and Searching For God Knows What. I've finished TPD, and I'm on SFGKW now. This one is awesome so far.

He has this thing called the Lifeboat Theory, and I think he's right. He got all hung up on the idea that after the Fall in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve realized they were naked. This is something we just kind of breeze past, but he thinks it's pretty significant. When we are separated from God and him loving us perfectly, we suddenly become very self-conscious. See, A and E (like the cable channel) weren't self-conscious before because they had no reason to be. They were being loved completely and perfectly, and as we know, we find security in that. We feel like we know who we are, and we are okay with who we are. We don't even care about it because we are being loved and that's all that matters. And when we are separated from the love of God, we search frantically to find something to tell us we are okay. And this is when we start looking at everyone else to see if we are okay. Thus begins the trend how we compare ourselves to each other constantly, making sure we are better because it's like this: Imagine we're all in a lifeboat (Titanic-style, if you wish), and it's sinking, too. All we have to do is throw one person off and we won't drown. And we want desperately not to be that person because that would mean we are less valuable. We continually try to prove ourselves as best; that way, we can stay in the boat. This accounts for a lot of the silly things we do, like looking at someone and automatically feeling bitter toward them because they might be considered better that ourselves.

Okay, I realize I did a horrid job of explaining all of that, but Don Miller did it in a very long chapter in his book, whereas I tried to do it in a paragraph. But this is having a serious impact on me. If you stop and look at the things we do, the things we think, this makes so much sense. We are trying as hard as we can to feel like we're okay, and a lot of times, that means that we're making sure we're at least better than other people. And as it turns out, that's all really absurd because we don't have to be. We are trying to fill up a void we can never really fill.

I've grown wary about Jesus, you know. I'm going to be honest. I'm not going to pretend that I'm one of those people who understand faith and find it easy or even logical to tell people (or myself) that Jesus is the answer to all their problems. I know how incredibly weird it is because this Jesus figure seems so ambiguous and vague and like a silly, unbelievable character from a fairy tale. I know. But what I mean when I say I've grown wary about Jesus, I think I mean I've grown wary of the Jesus that he's been made out to be. Not the real guy. He was just some guy who would've hung out with you at the coffee shop or bar and philosophized with you and listened to what you're saying and made you feel loved, like you knew who you were. 'Cause he didn't feel so scared about being okay like we do. 'Cause he wasn't separated from God's love like we are. And all he really wanted to do was share that with us.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

New blue

In an iTunes downloading frenzy, I snagged the John Mayer Trio's single for "Who Did You Think I Was" with the accompanying track "Come When I Call." These and two collaboration tracks I burned at the end of my copy of Better Than Ezra's new CD. This morning, BTE ran out and John started up. I had a few minutes to sit in my car and wait for the library to open, and I had some thoughts.

This isn't the John Mayer that millions of screaming teenagers, including myself, fell in love with. Or is it? In "Who Did You Think I Was," he seems to be anticipating some flack about his full-blown move to Blues. I can just imagine whimpering little girls saying, "But, but this isn't you! Where are my poppy beats? Where is your acoustic guitar? Why do you look like trash?" And to this, on top of an up-tempo electric jam, he answers with a question:

Am I the one who plays the quiet songs?
Is he the one who turns the ladies on?
Will I keep shining til my light is gone?
Who did you think I was?

Call it a sleezy bait and switch operation if you will, but I think he's doing us all a favor. He's like a rock evangelist, and he's reaching out to us poor saps for whom he might be the only Jesus SRV we'll ever see. Yeah, he drew us all in with his bubble gum pop and that dimple in his chin. He rose above the rest with his smooth acoustic skills and witty and oh-so thoughtful lyrics. And now he's giving us nothing less than the legendary mix of Rock and Blues. But he warned us all along, us being the star-struck crowd who read every article and watched every interview: His heroes are Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

He made it easy on us, though. It started with live shows where he'd be, one minute, sitting in a fold-up chair crooning and telling us about how our bodies are wonderlands and, the next minute, curled over an electric guitar jamming out tunes that resulted in things like the over-ten-minutes-long "Covered in Rain" on his double live album Any Given Thursday. And then Heavier Things gave us more electric than acoustic and a collection of songs that were soft in the studio and rock hard on stage. He was taking his pop music crowd and teaching them a lesson. He's been saying, "You liked that? Okay, now listen to some real music."

Who did we think he was?

He's sure not the guy who plays the quiet songs. These days, I'm hearing things that sound more like "Pride and Joy" than the songs from the golden days of "No Such Thing." He's even traded in some of his deep and brooding lyrics for some brief, yet poignant, lines for repeating.

And is he the guy who turns the ladies on? He might be, but he's looking more and more like JMG every day. And his voice, if you listen to "Need No Doctor" that he recorded with John Scoffield, isn't the same boyish sugar-fix we used to depend on. It's got the no-holds-barred brashness of experience. It made me stop and think, "Is this even John Mayer singing?" But all it took was a few pitchy squeaks, and I knew it was him.

But there are still slow songs to be found, and that soothing voice hasn't vanished. "Dreams to Remember," a track he laid down with Buddy Guy, is a slow one and his voice has the same quiet pleading to it as "Come Back to Bed." But it's a long way from Wonderland.

His side project the John Mayer Trio -- which I think is less a side project than an attempt to do what he's been wanting to do all along -- is putting out their live album Try! on November 22. I, of course, will be all over it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Today has been the kind of day that makes me feel like a person with things to do. You know the kind. The person that flutters about from one thing to the next, never stopping long enough to catch a breath. In a way it's fun. But thank God I only do this on Wednesdays. (Today was extra-fluttery.) I'd burn out quick.

8:30 am - 9:20 am History of the English Language

9:30 am - 12:00 pm Work, also known as Working Furiously on My Short Story to Get it Finished

12:00 pm - 12:20ish pm Spending Way Too Much Money and Time on Getting Fourteen Copies of My Story Made

12:30 pm - 1:20 pm Lunch with Ryan

1:30 pm - 2:20 pm The Spanish Inquisition

2:30 pm - 5:30 pm Fiction Workshop

5:30 pm - 6:15ish pm Hang Out with International Students

6:30 pm - 7:45 pm Eat Some Supper and Make Really Cute Acceptance Letter from Hogwarts as a Project for Teaching Lit

8:00 pm - 9:30 pm Tutor Erin and Jessica in Spanish

And that brings me up to the time when I came home, finally took my shoes off, put some laundry in the washer, and made me a hot cocoa. I should be asleep in a matter of minutes.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Scattering vampires

My professor costume is complete. I was lacking a cross necklace, but I found in the craft section at WalMart exactly what I needed. A cross (with some Celtic looking knots on it) suncatcher! I made my own necklace, and even bought some beads to put on it so it'd match my dangly earrings that are also a part of the get-up. While adding finishing touches and adjusting my huge necklace in the mirror, I thought of Flavor Flav. Anyway, I know I'm waaay too into getting this costume right. I even bought a collar and leash for a stuffed cat. It'll be worth it.

Tonight will be very interesting. I can't wait to see how people have decided to replicate different professors' styles. I tell myself that I can't stay for very long, but I know I will. I should be here writing Short Story Number Two. I've got four pages of it written, and yes, it's due tomorrow. Eh, oh, well.

Morgan canceled both classes today. Very wonderful. That's what gave me time to go to WalMart and get my costume stuff. So I thought that WalMart surely wouldn't be busy at noontime. Okay, yeah. I was very mistaken. Just for future reference, that place is always busy. Always.