Saturday, December 02, 2006

Thoughts on Falling Snow

I wanted to write a poem about snow
But the words would float in my head like so
And when they would settle, only melted away
And now I'm left with nothing to say

Words to a poem I've not written but sought
Falling in some semblance of intelligible thought
Thought without words, words without thought
Those are the two ways of writing a poem,
--whether you use words or not

And as a snowflake falls as a whisper
To melt upon touching the ground
My words have dissembled, and I find that there
Is no worthy thought to be found

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What I Want for Christmas

What I want for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass and a stock and this thing which tells time. They're very good for Christmas. I don't think a football is a very good Christmas present. Besides that, here are some other things I wouldn't mind finding under my tree:

Gilmore Girls- any season
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Sixteen Candles
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
White Christmas
Sliding Doors
Lady in the Water
Roman Holiday

The Beautiful Sessions- Bethany Dillon
Unexpected Gifts- Various Artists
Get Lifted- John Legend
Strange and Beautiful- Aqualung
Nothing is Sound- Switchfoot

Gift Cards
Old Navy
Bath and Body Works
Barnes and Noble

Low top Converse All-Stars- red or pink; men's size 6
2007 Dodge Charger- also red or pink

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My Mom

When I was little it was easy. "She's my mom," was all I'd say. Everyone knew what that meant, what the title "mom" entailed, at least in my mind. Everyone knew that moms make you macaroni and cheese and tuck you in at bedtime and tell you to settle down when you're being too noisy and they're on the phone. Everyone knew that moms read thick novels, "grown-up books," but will gladly put them aside to read you your favorite story, even though they've read it a thousand times before. And everyone knew that moms gave you hugs, that they would hold you when you were sad, or scared, or sleepy, or silly. Everyone knew that when your head rested under your mom's chin and she spoke to you, you felt rather than heard her voice, as acutely as you felt the soft cotton of a sundress or the rough wool of a turtleneck sweater rubbing against your cheek. I thought everyone knew this, because I did.

Now that I'm older, my mom is no different to me. No different, but somehow deeper, more. More to me because I have become her, in more ways than either of us realize. Her face, her smile, her voice all mirror my own, or do mine mirror hers? (At least I know I'm not adopted.) The same full mouth, the same second toe slightly longer than the first, the same stack of thick novels by our nightstands. Our sky-blue eyes and rounded cheeks make photos of us at the same age inter-changeable. If we stood on either side of you and sang you would hear one voice in stereo. See one face in two places.

And someday, when I have a child pressed to my heart, when I have put aside my thick novel to read to her, or when she is sad, or silly, or scared, and I speak to her, she will feel, rather than hear, the same voice that I did: my mother's, and mine, and, someday, her own.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Nebuchadnezzer and a Giraffe

Well, this is different for me. When I blog I usually write it down on paper first, but I'm not this time. This is totally spontaneous. What you, my readers (all 3 of you), are reading right now is completely and totally off the cuff. I'm just wingin' it. Let's see what I come up with.

Do you ever have one of those dreams where you wake up from it and you're just like, "WHAT?" Or the dream just seems so real and you wake up so slowly that it overlaps with waking life, and you find yourself worrying about a problem you had in the dream, like where you're going to find a sweater for your giraffe, while you're in the shower the next morning. Then, while you're brushing your teeth, it slowly dawns on you: giraffes don't wear sweaters.

I think dreams are fascinating. I've always wondered if dreams really do have symbolic meaning, or if they're just a collection of random images and ideas that you've collected throughout the day and that somehow assemble into a coherent, or not-so-coherent, story. Or stories. With subplots and commercial breaks. Even musical numbers.

I think dreams could be symbolic, or at least representative, of our own personalities and lives, because they come from our own minds. If you're really worried about, say, an important exam you have tomorrow, you might dream that you're worried about something else, like where you're going to find a sweater for your giraffe, that is symbolic of the real problem you're facing. I also think it's possible that dreams are just completely random.

I don't dream as much as I used to when I was little. Or, at least, I don't remember as many dreams. I had some pretty crazy dreams between the ages of about six and eleven. Probably the weirdest one, and the scariest one for, like, three years after I had it, was about a gorilla. Two gorillas, actually. They were chasing me around my old church. Well, one was chasing me. He was the bad gorilla. But the other one was the good gorilla, and he was trying to help me get away from the bad gorilla. I don't remember exact details, only that I woke up crying and had to go to the bathroom really bad afterward.

If dreams are symbolic, I wonder what the gorillas symbolize? Probably, like, fear or something...

I also always thought it would be really cool to have prophetic dreams, like King Nebuchadnezzer. I have no idea if I spelled that right. Like the one he had about the statue that got smashed by the rock. Or like John in Revelation. I guess that was more of a vision than a dream. Also, Nebuchadnezzer had the coolest name in the Bible, probably. When I was little I had this book about him called The Braggy King of Babylon. In kindergarten I was the only kid in my class who knew about the Babylonian Empire, and the only kid who could pronounce the name Nebuchadnezzer, even though I couldn't spell it.

Whether or dreams are symbolic or just random, I think they serve a purpose. Dreams give you a sort of alternate reality, a fantasy world of your own mind's making to entertain you while you sleep and give you something to talk about in your Psychology class. Or at a party or whatever. And your sleeping dreams can often inspire your waking dreams, your life dreams. At least they have for me. I want to someday raise gorillas and start a line of sweaters for giraffes.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I Hadn't Written a Poem in Awhile

All creatures of the sea and land
Each blade of grass and drop of rain
Formed by the Eternal Hand
Join their praises of Thy Name
The stars in language Man knows not
And every wave of every sea
Each leaf of trees Thine hand hath wrought
Are given to Thy symphony
There is no thing in Heaven or on Earth
That Thou hast not created in Thy love
My life, my death, indeed my very birth
By Thou ordained before e'er spoken of
Though with eyes filled of all Thy pow'rs employ
Thy love for me remains my greatest joy

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Why Words Matter

No one writes these days. I mean really writes. E-mails and My Space comments don't count. Sure, authors and reporters write, but that's only for money. No one ever writes anything personal or private, person to person anymore. No one writes letters. They are a lost art. And I think it's because of this that our grammar has gone to pot and no one can spell. Well, I take that back. Most people can spell, if they would just take a little more time, if they would actually care.

Our society and modern technology have made it unnecessary, really, almost impossible, for people to take their time in expressing themselves in writing. With the advent of text messaging, along with its own evolving sets of phrases and abbreviations, messages contain little or no punctuation and an unwritten (no pun intended), though by no means misunderstood, rule that Spelling Does Not Matter.

It wasn't always this way. A long, long time ago, before My Space and the internet, before texting and even before cell phones (can we even imagine such a time?) people who lived far away from their friends and family would have to wait days, even weeks or months, between messages. As a result, they took their time- time that they had more of, somehow, doesn't it seem?- in writing the messages. It was unthinkable to send a letter that contained any but the most minimal of grammar mistakes. If you were an intelligent, literate person your writing reflected it. Your words reflected it.

Words matter because they are our connections to other people, and those connections are what forge our relationships. The written word is one of Man's greatest accomplishments and one of God's greatest gifts. It should be treated with respect, as our words, both written and spoken, are part of how we present ourselves and, in consequence, how much we respect and care for those to whom we address them.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Surprised By Love

I don't think I've ever doubted that God loves me. Even at my worst, when I was just a total little brat. I guess maybe I could be considered a little over-confident. My mindset was always, "Of course God loves me. Why wouldn't He?" What I've mostly doubted is whether I love Him.

It's interesting that I've been thinking about this lately, because I've been reading C. S. Lewis's autobiography, Surprised By Joy, of which Anne Fremantle said: "Since Augustine's meticulous analysis of what was the light, what the color, what the sound, the smell, the touch, what, indeed, was the good he loved when he loved God, few writers have taken the trouble to distinguish, with such clarity of psychological insight, the nature and degree of attraction, the nature and degrees of satisfaction apprehended by man." I say interesting because, though I haven't read very much Augustine, and my thoughts have been anything but meticulous, clear, or insightful, I, too, even before reading this book, have tried to examine what it is, why it is that I love God. What am I loving when I love Him? Am I really loving Him at all? This is what I came up with.

I love God because I love the mountains. I love Him because I love the sunset and the stars. I love Him because of the way the wind sings as it blows through the trees. I love Him because of flowers and birds and butterflies and smooth shiny stones on the bottom of the ocean floor. I love Him because of the rain that sparkles on a window pane and the quiet blanket of snow that covers a winter night. I love Him because of the mist that envelops the highest mountain, even on the warmest summer day. And music. I can't forget music. Or my family.

I love God because I see Him in the things that I love. I love Him because He loved me enough to give them to me, to show Himself to me in ways that I can understand, even if I don't comprehend. Isaac Newton believed that God is a rational God, that He reveals Himself in the perfect order of the laws of nature. But God is also a passionate God, One that reveals Himself in ways that no law can explain. Like love.

You can't imagine what a relief it was to find that I do love God, to find that everything that I love about His creation, the beauty, the order, and the freedom within that order, the depth and purity and brightness, is really what I love about Him. The God that I love both rationally and passionately is the author of the one thing that defies both reason and passion, that surpasses both faith and hope: love. Love is the weight and the balance; love is the root of the root, the sky of the sky, the wonder that's keeping the stars apart and the breath on my lips.

It is because of His love that I love Him.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Men in Tights... and Dresses

Since maybe like the Middle Ages there's been different clothes for boys than for girls, and probably before that. This cannot be denied. Girls (a lot of girls, anyway) like to wear ruffles and sparkles and lace. Boys (most boys, anyway) don't. That's why it's so funny when boys wear girls' clothes.

Think about it. It's all throughout history. Look at movies and TV. The tough-guy male lead wearing a dress and looking awkward or indignant always gets a laugh. Whole plots, even, whole bases for movies' classification in the genre of comedy have hinged on the age-old, fool-proof gag of the male cross dressser.

For evidence I refer to Some Like it Hot, I Was a Male War Bride, Bosom Buddies, Tootsie, the more recent Sorority Boys. What is perhaps an addition to the comedic quality of these examples is that the characters in these films are not drag queens. They are truly trying to disguise themselves, to pass as women. Of course we, the genius audience, can clearly see that they most definitely are not women. But the other characters in the films seem not to see anything out of the ordinary about six-feet-tall, broad shouldered women with Adam's apples and five'o'clock shadows. Maybe that's where some of the comedy comes from: our secret, almost smug knowledge that these characters are completely ignorant of. But it's still really funny to see a guy in a dress.

Yet a girl dressed as a boy somehow doesn't have the same effect. There have been a few movies that feature female cross-dressers, but these are from a slightly different mold as those of the male cross-dressing variety. Boys Don't Cry is not a comedy. There is, of course, the recent example of She's the Man. Most of the comedy in this movie, though, arises not from the girl trying to look like a boy, but rather act like a boy.

Seeing a girl dressed as a boy is somehow not as funny as a boy dressed as a girl. Maybe it's because Shakespeare used it so much. He ruins everything. Of course, in his time, it would have been a boy dressed a girl dressed as a boy, which looks the same as a boy dressed as a boy, which isn't funny at all, unless the boy is funny looking.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The End of the Road (or, Theology To Go)

June 19th, 2006
I set out from Kelly Latte's this afternoon with only the intention of going somewhere quiet to drink my mocha and be alone with God awhile. I thought of Lake Meridian, not thinking of the fact that it's a June afternoon and the possibility that God had other plans. He obviously did, because the lake was packed. I've never liked crowds. I drove once around the parking lot, then paused at the exit. Left or right? Right would take me back home, but something told me, "left."

I turned left onto Kent Kangley and as I drove through Covington it occurred to me that I had no idea where I was going. God did, though. "Follow that truck." I did.

The truck drove through the traffic of Covington and continued on toward Maple Valley and as I followed, God and I had a conversation. Well, mostly I asked Him where I was going and mostly He didn't tell me. "Just trust Me," He said.

"Fine!" I said, and drove on.

A melting pot of emotions and thoughts I've expressed to God time and again in the past, though never all at the same time, came rushing in and I began asking Him where I was going again, though this time not literally.

Again He said, "Just trust Me."

Then it got philosophical. "I know I should trust You, God, I know it makes sense and really when you think about it, following You and giving You everything is the smart thing to do and I always try to do the smart thing and You know that because You made me this way and I want to believe that I can completely give up everything to You and that You're the only reason for living and that I shouldn't follow my heart but Yours, but really, my heart should be Your heart, and I know all of this. I know it. I don't need proof because it's right here in front of my eyes. What I need is faith, because even though I know all of this, I just can't quite seem to believe it." All this I intimated to God in a jumble of words and half-finished phrases and in about five seconds. Isn't that funny, how our words can make no sense at all, yet God knows exactly what we mean?

God said, "Just keep driving." I did.

Then I passed the Mormon church at Four Corners and I said, "What's their deal, God?"

"They don't even know," He answered. "They're confused. They have faith and works all jumbled up and they don't realize that salvation is already theirs. They're making it impossible for themselves, not realizing that with Me, all things are possible. Kind of like what you're doing right now."

Well! Just tell it like it is! Thankfully, I was stopped at a red light at that point. The light turned green and I eased slowly on the gas pedal, going through the intersection in spiritual silence for a few minutes before the words of a song on the radio broke through my reverie: "Let go, let go, just jump in..."

Merely curious this time, I again asked God where I was going. "Just keep driving," He said. "I want to show you something."

I was still following the truck. I was past Maple Valley now and in one of those little towns. Ravensdale, I think. The mountains rose up before me, green before summer's dry heat sets in, the tops shrouded in a mist of clouds perforated by beams of sunlight.

A new song was on the radio now. "It's a winding road... I still don't know where it goes... It's a long way home. I've been searching for a long time, but I still have hope... I'm gonna find my way home..."

"Is this what you wanted me to see?" I whispered, tears pooling in my eyelashes.

For some reason I burst out laughing. "This is beautiful, God," still smiling, at peace for a moment.

Then, "Should I turn around and go home now?"

"Not yet."

"How will I know when it's time, when I've reached my destination?" In essence, "How will I know?"

"You'll know."

Frustrated, "How will I know? Will there be a sign or something?"

Again, "You'll know."


Five minutes later I saw a paper plate tacked to a signpost with one word on it: "DONE." I laughed, turned around and drove home.

August 2nd, 2006
Today I drove all the way to the end of that road. I drove though forests and hills and more little towns than I could count, twisting and turning like any good country road should. Then, there it was. The end of the road, just a gravel driveway leading up to a little blue house, and three kids jumping on a trampoline in the back yard. I wonder if they know that they live at the end of the road, or if they care. In knowing, would they gain anything?

I'd wondered for ages (okay, months) what was at the end of that road, and they had known all along and didn't care. I think we all find the same thing at the end of our road, no matter what we find. We want to know so bad, but when we find out...

"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know what he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God." - Paul of Tarsus

...we find we don't need to know everything.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"The Prince" and Me: Machiavelli in Shakespeare's "Henry V"

This idea first came to me last fall while taking a course on Shakespeare at school. I had never read any of Shakespeare's histories before when my class was assigned to read Henry V, or "Henry five" as we ended up calling it. As we read the play, it struck me that King Henry, at least as portrayed by Shakespeare, was a Machiavellian ruler. Actually, I had no idea if this was a legitimate theory or not, since, of course, I'd never actually read Machiavelli, but I thought it sounded good, and if I could prove it that would be really cool. So I decided to read The Prince and here's what I came up with:

Henry V
is about a young man coming into his role as a king and what he does to prove his right and capability as king. In the process, Henry illustrates several tactics for ruling proposed and explained by Niccolo Machiavelli in his treatise The Prince. Machiavelli's Prince is personified by King Henry. This personification is shown in Henry's decisions and actions thoroughout England's war with France.

From the beginning, Henry displays Machiavellian principles. His initial decision to go to war is partly due to the persuasion of his advisors: "Awake the rememberance of these valiant dead, / And with your puissant arm renew their feats!" This encouragement to revive the glorious war victories of his ancestors appeals to Henry because it will allow him to prove himself in war, something Machiavelli says a prince cannot rule without: "A prince... must have no other object or thought, or take up anything as his profession, except war and its rules and discipline, for that is the only art that befits one who commands." Triumph in war is the only way that Henry, or any prince, according to Machiavelli, can prove that he is a capable ruler, so he sets out to conquer France, claiming divine right to its crown and lands.

King Henry also illustrates Machiavelli's theories in his dealings with his army. In Act 4, scene 3, his rousing St. Crispian's Day speech shows that he has mastered the art of persuasion to gain his troops' support: "And Crispin Crispian shal ne'er go by, / From this day to the ending of the world, / But we in it shall be remembered." Promising immortality in the memory of humankind is a foolproof way to convince men to fight, even at the risk of their own lives. Machiavelli would approve: "Those princes have done great things... who have been able to confuse men's brains by cunning, and in the end, they have overcome those who made loyalty their foundation." By not mentioning the great risk his men are taking and instead glorifying war in his inspirational speech, confusing his men's brains, Henry has played upon his troops' loyalty in persuading them to fight, proving himself a Machiavellian ruler.

It's very possible that Shakespeare was familiar with Machiavelli's writing and intentionally formed Henry's character based on the work. He was very well-read. And if he did read it, he probably didn't think of the possibilty, as my brother has pointed out, of its being a satire, a joke, a fifteenth century episode of Punk'd, like Jonathan Swift's essay about how poor people should eat their babies (except I don't think Swift was in the fifteenth century). But, intentional or not, it's clear that Shakespeare's Henry reflects Machiavelli's Prince, in both word and deed, a resemblance which established Henry as a great leader and a great king.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

12th Street Books

The smell of aged paper
Like dust, but sweet
The scent of memory

The cloth on the spines
Red or green or blue, now faded
The crumbling bindings

The sound of old music
-Is it Mozart, or Vivaldi?-
And sneakers on the hollow wood floor

The ghosts that dwell here never lived
Except in the dreams of their creators
And minds of their readers

This is the place
Where Imagination
Becomes real

Unscented Perfume

So, here's the deal. I really do believe that it's God's grace that saves us. I have to believe that because it's impossible to be saved by works, to earn our salvation. How can we do His will without His blessing? How can we obey His command without His Spirit? I have to believe that it's grace that saves, that sets us free, because if it's not, then I'm not free. My belief in God is as much out of necessity as conviction. But really, whose intuition will tell them anything but that they have to work for what they want? Of course, God does not grant all our desires; He changes them. I know that I needed to know that I believed in grace before I could speak of it to other people. I know that I have a choice in my belief, but who would choose death over life, eternal bondage over eternal freedom? And if I love God only because He loves me, there's nothing wrong with that, because I couldn't love Him at all if it weren't for His love, which is by His grace. I am as much His by His right as by my choice. Nothing I have is my own, but I rejoice that, though I am unworthy, His love gives me all that I need. After all, it wouldn't be grace if we deserved it.

My first blog

To all my readers:
I am a Christian, a student, a library page and an aspiring writer. Some topics I write on are God, my classes at school, literature (mostly random thoughts on stuff I've read, but some legit), music and my future goals, which I haven't exactly figures out yet. Any fiction I write is open to suggestions, especially as I serialize stories and need to think of what will happen next. I hope you enjoy Watts Up with Rhonda.