Monday, March 31, 2008

To be honest...

There are times when I argue with God. Like today, when the only prayer I managed was "Why are You always right?"

God always has the answer. I believe that with every fiber of my being. That doesn't mean I always like it.


Over lunch I was discussing SATs with some friends and realized that I can't remember what I got on the writing section.

Someday maybe I'll forget all of them.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Random Stuff

1. Scott looks good in a suit. (I just thought it, Rebekah said it out loud.)

2. Example of how you can never tell what he's going to come up with next: "In an adverbially metaphorical language, instead of saying 'to kiss' you'd say 'to love mouthwise.'"

3. Tootsie Rolls are a low-fat food, did you know that? I'm eating healthy right now!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Open Mic

Last night, the Cobbler's IM was working again, so he and I were chatting about topics ranging from whether Calvin ought to have been homeschooled to how one discerns God's will for one's life (yes, we are awesome in our conversational randomness). After a while the Cobbler mentions that he is heading down to Lower Campus for Open Mic and in a fit of impulsivity I ask if I can tag along.

Spontanaeity really is fun. I walked down with the Cobbler and a few of his friends and was entertained by a long and detailed story from the craziest one in the bunch (who happens to be a very good singer, interestingly enough). I then spent the next 3 hours sipping a strawberry smoothie and listening to my fellow students sing with varying levels of skill. From what I gathered, anybody can sign up for Open Mic and then they just go through everybody on the list in order and no matter who you are you can get ten minutes in which to showcase your musical abilities.

Because I had accidentally left my watch in my room, I wasn't even aware of time passing for most of the night. The Cobbler did spend some time attempting to do homework (he has truly amazing powers of concentration if he was able to focus on "Software Engineering Tip 9.1" with the noise level in the room), so I could tell what time it was from his computer clock, but once he put his computer away it could have been 3 in the morning and I wouldn't have noticed. Around 11:30-ish, during a break between songs, we had a conversation that went like this:

Scott: I remember when you would have said it was past your bedtime an hour ago.

Me: I'm older now.

Scott: [laughs] I think I'm just infecting you with my nocturnalism.

Me: Well, if I succeed in infecting you with my morning-person-ism*, then neither of us will ever sleep.

Scott: We'll just have to be like the Mexicans and sleep in the middle of the day.

Me: Siesta!

Altogether, very random, a little crazy, very fun, and the perfect way to get away from homework for a few hours. I must try this again sometime.

*I know, a very obviously made-up word, but it was past my bedtime.

A Question for Sciency Types

Why is it that the water in my water bottle was liquid when I pulled it out of my freezer, but turned to slush once it was in room-temperature air?

Friday, March 28, 2008

"God, outdo me in generosity."

I had a wonderful week, dear readers. First there was Easter, and eating enough chocolate to make me shaky, and then there was Easter Monday and eating more chocolate, and then there was coming back to school on Tuesday, which might have been depressing if not for having all my wonderful friends who made me happy to be back--special mention goes to the Cobbler who acted as my own personal one-man welcoming committee.

In spite of the busyness of my 5-class Wednesday I got through it just fine and Wednesday night of course the Cobbler intented. I spent all day Thursday being happy about that.

Then I woke up this morning. Today was not a particularly good day. I was fidgety and distracted during Mass, I seriously almost fell asleep during Anthropology, I skipped lunch to go to an info meeting for a summer program that I would love to attend if I had $2000 just lying around waiting to be spent...etc, etc. About the only good thing was that I got an A-minus on my Theology test, but even that depressed me because honestly, dear readers, I did not deserve that A. If effort was what counted, I should have gotten a C tops because I barely studied and ended up guessing on a lot of the questions.

So that's been my week, and I bet you're wondering about the title of this post. A while back I mentioned the book Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To. At the moment I'm on prayer number three: "God, outdo me in generosity." It was pretty easy the first four days to see how He was outdoing me--I was being positively drowned in love. Then comes today and I have my horrible morning and my tasteless and very late lunch ("skipped" is perhaps not the right word--"delayed long enough to make me cranky", perhaps), I was not feeling the love. A two-hour nap helped a little, but even then I just wasn't feeling the energy of earlier in the week. To make matters worse, the Cobbler's IM stopped working. I know, not a huge tragedy in the grand scheme of things, but the Cobbler happens to have a near-miraculous ability to make me laugh (no matter what mood I may have been in), and I was kind of counting on that this afternoon.

So as I'm sitting at my computer feeling very lonely and sorry for myself, my roommate finds this outside our door:

I thought, "God, outdo me in generosity."

Then I cried.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Speaking of brothers...

Scott just intented to Tantum Ergo! Yippee!!

If possible I'm even more excited than when I intented to the Servants. Of course, now that we're both in we're well on the way to being officially brother and sister so that is seriously awesome.

Plus now I can tell everybody about it! I've known since Palm Sunday! Ten days! Keeping a secret is hard! I almost lost it when Rebekah you can tell from the deleted comments over there. We bloggers are not made for keeping secrets! All I said was that I knew somebody else who was going to intent, but I needed to keep it a secret...Rebekah is smart, though, and probably figured out to whom I was alluding (were you right, Rebekah?).

So now I'm listening to Snoopydance on headphones (because of quiet hours); in a little while I'm going to head to bed and see if it's possible to sleep when one is this excited.


Whether there is a philosophical explanation for why the scientific explanation does not necessarily exclude the religious explanation.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Four Loves

Today and yesterday I reread C. S. Lewis' The Four Loves. I wanted to write this post even before rereading it, that was precisely the reason I did reread it, so that I would have some good, solid, sensible ideas to support my own disjointed musings on the subject.

The first of the four loves is storge, or affection. This is loving something simply because it is ours, because it has always been there. I notice this with my friends. Durnhelm, for instance, has a trick of blinking rapidly several times (I would almost call it fluttering her eyelashes, were it not for the cloying connotations of that phrase) when she is trying to remember something. I think this is the cutest thing in the world, because it is my friend who does it. I notice affection flavoring my friendships in other ways. I've actually only known Durnhelm for three and a half years--less than a quarter of my life. When I'm thirty I'll be able to say I've known her half my life. Perhaps by the time I'm sixty those first fourteen and a half years will have faded to insignificance and I'll be able to say I've always known her. That's one of the prerequisites of affection--you have it for things that have always been so. My friends have not always been my friends. Durnhelm I've known the longest. The Captain I've known for two and a half years. Of my college friends, some I've known for a year, others for six months, others still for only two months. Yet I find myself feeling affection towards them. There is a certain sort of friend whom you have always known, historical facts notwithstanding.

The second kind of love is philia--Lewis translates it as friendship. Literally it means love for a brother. In my life I've noticed that people--myself included--use "friend" to mean two completely different things. On the one hand, we use it for our companions (Lewis makes this disctinction as well)--the people whom we happen to associate with in some common pursuit. I will call somebody my friend after I've eaten breakfast with them a few times. Yet if I never see them after college there won't be a hole in my life. There are a few friends, though--half a dozen from high school and so far about three or four from college--who would leave a hole in my life if I never saw them again. Those people are not merely associates. They are a part of me. Our companionship is something that transcends the incidentals of time and space. It's like what I said in the last paragraph--I've always known them.

These friends are the ones who are eventually promoted to the status of unofficially adopted siblings. I currently have at least 2 sisters besides the one I was born with (possibly as many as 7, there are some people who I think of as sisters but I haven't asked them if they care to be adopted), and recently I've started getting a brother--which is very nice if kind of strange, I've never had a brother before in my life whereas I've always had a sister and know how that sort of thing is supposed to work. (Then there are my household sisters and brothers, but that's a bit different, I'm not sure how they factor into this equation yet.) It expresses the timelessness of the relationship. When somebody's your sibling, they've either always been there or have been there as long as you can remember. The exception would be a sibling several years younger, but even then I imagine there's a sort of timelessness to it--they are bone of your bones and flesh of your flesh, and the first encounter is less like meeting than recognition. It's the kind of friends who are like that--where I do not so much meet a new person as recognize someone I've always known--who eventually turn into my sisters and brothers.

The third kind of love is eros. Like Lewis, I don't use eros to mean mere sexual desire. I have never said "I love you" to someone as a way of saying "I find you physically attractive," and I hope I never do. There's a point in philia where I begin saying "I love you" to my friends, as a succinct way of saying, "If you ever weren't around I would miss you, not just miss having someone to talk to but miss you for the unique and irreplaceable person that you are. Yet for all that I need you I want you to be happy and more importantly to do what God is calling you to do so if you had to leave I would cheer you on the whole way and trust that friends always meet again, even if it's not in this world." Rather long, isn't it? "I love you" is much shorter and works if your friend understands what you mean by it (and friends of that sort always understand), rather than thinking that you are trying to say you are physically attracted to them which would be awkward no matter what. If one of my sister-friends thought that it would be awkward for the simple reason that I don't like girls that way, with my brother-friend it would be even more awkward because I do like guys that way.

But I digress. So far I've only used "I love you" to express the first two kinds of love, or some combination of them. For instance, a relative who is also a kindred spirit would get a mixture of storge and philia, the first because they've just always been there and I've gotten rather fond of them, the second because, as Lewis puts it, they see the same truth. One of these days, though, I sincerely hope that I meet somebody to whom I can say "I love you" as a way of expressing eros. Again, I do not mean by eros mere desire. I'm a normal woman insofar as I can see a physically attractive man and think, "He looks good", but things like that are no more than a blip on my radar. Good-looking man walking by, now he's gone, okay back to what I was doing. I'm in absolutely no danger of falling in love with him. When the time comes I'm more likely to fall in love with one of my brother-friends, regardless of whether he cuts a dashing figure. Even if he does, eventually people get old and when he's 40 and bald and soft around the middle I hope I love him for something other than his looks. For that matter, I hope whoever falls in love with me does it for something other than my looks because one day I'm going to be 40 and gray and fat.

So what is falling in love, then? It's not merely finding someone who you can connect with--otherwise there could be no brother-friends, philia between men and women would simply be a step to eros, and I do think there are times when it's not. Neither is eros finding someone who you find physically attractive. Physical attraction is nice and certainly helps with the begetting of children bit, but in addition to what I've already said there's one more thing to take into consideration: When you fall in love, you fall in love with a person. To put it philosophically, the object of love is a substance and not an accident. If the person you love gains weight or loses his hair, he might look different but he's still substantially the same person.

The way I like to think of it is in terms of Aristophanes' speech in the Symposium. He tells a story about how people used to be twice what they are now--4 arms, 4 legs, etc. One day the gods decided that these people had become too powerful, so they split them in half. Now we poor little half-people spend our whole lives looking for our other half, and when we find that person we want nothing more than to be with them. If a god came along and offered to fuse us back into one, we would jump at the chance.

Friendship is finding someone who can complete some part of me that is lacking. I love to write, and until I met my writer-friends there was a part of me that was lacking. If I were to lose my writer-friends and be once more a solitary scribbler, there would be a hole in my life.

Love, I think, is finding someone who can complete a lack in your whole self. Because we are fallen humans we are incomplete, and to a certain extent we will be incomplete until we are united with Christ (or we will be forever apart from Him and thereby forever incomplete) but I think it is possible here on earth to find a symbol of that completeness--a friend is to find someone who can share a love with you (of stories or stamp collecting or whatever else), to find a lover is to find someone who can share a life with you.

One difference between a friend and a lover is that friends can come and go in your life without destroying the friendship. Two friends are any two that see the same truth, and as long as the other person is seeing the same truth they can be 5,000 miles away. To share a life, though, there is a certain level of physical proximity necessary. There is an emotional proximity necessary too--in friendship, you focus more on the object of your quest than your fellow questors. You will get to know them after they have been your companions long enough, but that is simply a happy side-effect of the quest. With lovers, on the other hand, the quest is precisely becoming one with the other, and to do that your main focus must be on the other.

The other difference, of course, is that philia is inclusive--anyone who shares this part of your life can be your friend. Only one person, though, can share in the whole of your life. It’s hard to express exactly what I mean here, but the fundamental lack that makes us search for our other half is such that it must be satisfied by one person or cannot be satisfied at all. We cannot have more than one person each taking a turn at being our other half. We want to be fused together like the people in Aristophanes' story; how can you be fused to many people in turn?

I'll finish my bit on eros with the disclaimer that I have no real right to talk about the subject; I do it anyway because bloggers like to talk about things they aren't experts in. I've given and received affection, I've been a friend, but I've never been in love. When I do fall good and properly in love we'll see what happens to my pretty theories. For now, though, theories are what I've got and I'd like to think that if I'm not an expert at least I'm a well-informed amateur.

The last one is agape, charity, and I feel even less qualified to talk on that than I do on eros. I'll just say, briefly, that without agape there could be no other love. Affection would turn into pettiness, friendship into snobbery, desire into lust. More importantly, without God having loved us with utterly self-donative love, we would not even exist; would not have the faintest conception of any kind of love.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Passion and Resurrection

I've seen The Passion of the Chirst twice, though not yet this year. It always feels a little wrong watching it during the Easter season, but that's what we did last year. Somehow if I'm trying to watch it, it just never happens during Lent (the first time I saw it was with my youth group, which actually did things at liturgically appropriate times).

The first time I started shaking about at the scourging and didn't stop for quite a long time; I didn't start crying until after confession (good move on the part of the youth group director, to ask the priests to be there afterwards). It touched me deeply, I felt that I had never quite meditated on the Passion that deeply before. Although I had read The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on which the movie is based, this is one of the few times when this book snob really does think that a movie gets the job done better.

The second time I watched the movie I got absolutely nothing out of it until Christ was hanging on the cross and the priests are mocking him, telling him that if he were the Son of God he could come down from the cross--and the camera cuts briefly to John's face and I saw in his eyes that he believed. The mocking of the priests had no impression on his faith. He, of all the disciples, never wavered.

I thought then that Catholics are the only people in all the world whose God remains God even when he is dead. With all due respect to our separated brethren, Protestants have bare crosses. Take what I say with a grain of salt, of course, since I don't know too much about Protestant theology (if there really is one thing you can call "Protestant theology", the most you can try is "Lutheran theology" or "Calvinist theology" and even that's tricky business...but I digress). From what I've heard and read, Protestants prefer to remind themselves that he rose--they don't think too long or too hard on the fact that he died first.

The Passion really is a brilliant movie. There are no words, pretty much, everything is in Latin and Aramaic and if you don't happen to be a scholar of biblical languages (I'm certainly not) you probably won't catch much of what people are saying. The awesome thing is that so many of the best parts are without words. Like the glimpse of John that I just talked about. John never says, "I am with you to the end." He doesn't need to. But again I digress...

Another such brilliant scene is the one after Jesus dies, where we see the Devil just kind of standing in the middle of this crater-type thing and screaming in defeat.

That's when the Devil lost. Not when Christ rose--when he died. Christ's death wasn't him allowing the Devil to win, not even for a second. The moment Christ died--that was the moment that God was most in control, the moment when he showed his hand and the Devil could do nothing, nothing to counter it. That's when we won, that's when sin and death and evil lost. Not on the third day when Christ rose from the tomb, but on Good Friday at 3:00, when he hung on a cross and gave up his life; willingly laid down his life for our salvation--and that's not a vague and general our. He died for me. He died for you.

I was going to share some thoughts on my Lent, but I don't think I will now. I'll just leave you with two words: Love won. Love always wins. That's the one thing the Devil doesn't understand, the one place in which a little baby smiling for its mother can beat him hands down any day of the week. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son...the cross is the sign of that love. The cross is God doing something the Devil could never have anticipated and will never understand. The cross is God's victory.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Good Friday. There is a paradox for you. We commemorate the day that a Man was mocked, beaten, tortured, and killed, as "Good".

I've been trying to understand this for a good year now--how it is that this thing which to the rest of the world looks so sorrowful is the cause of our joy, the reason we hope, the light for us in dark places when all other lights go out...

I don't have answers for you, dear readers. I only know that the Cross is the center of all things, that if I'm going to understand life it's going to be because God keeps bringing me back here to the foot of it to look upon the one I've pierced.

If there's one thing I've realized in the last 6 weeks it's that I'm lousy at suffering. Just Wednesday night God and I were having a bit of a talk, which basically consisted of me yelling at Him because I didn't want to give Him what He was asking me to give Him and then crying and saying, "It's all yours, God"--and since then I've kept saying that, hoping that eventually I mean it.

And while I'm crying and struggling to give up one little thing for God, His Son is on that cross dying for me. Suffering and dying because He sees something worth redeeming in a messed-up teenager from Ohio.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Looking Ahead

So, dear readers, I am already more than halfway through my second semester of college. I am made more aware of the passing of time because registration for Fall 2008 started Monday. I, as a lowly freshman, cannot register until April 9, but last night I was looking through the course list online and deciding which ones I needed to take next semester and how I'd fit those together. The thing about upper-level Communications courses is that they usually only have one session when they're offered--and some of them are only offered every other year. So I don't really have a lot of control over when I'm taking class.

I still ended up with a pretty nice tentative schedule, though. I'm basically going to be taking class 4 afternoons a week: Honors on Monday/Wednesday, then 2 Com classes and a theology class on Tuesday/Thursday, then another Com class Thursday evening. I don't much like that night class, but it's the only time that course is offered so I'm just going to have to offer it up. I can sleep in Friday if I need to.

In 2 months I will officially be a sophomore in college. It's strange to look back on the days when I was a confused little baby freshman and then realize that now here I am, 7 months older but feeling like I've lived a couple of lifetimes. I can't help but wonder how things are going to be 3 years from now when I'm in my last semester, getting ready to head out into the big wide world. I'll be 21 then. Most of my friends will be 22. We won't be teenagers anymore, we'll be pretty close to not being college students anymore. Just 3 years and 2 months from now, a whole bunch of twenty-somethings are going to go out into the world.

That is going to be interesting.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

He's a clever one

While discussing the concept of "cultural literacy":

Me: I think that once you get married that's pretty much the end of any coolness you might once have had. [Note: Not that married people aren't awesome, they just have other concerns rather than TV shows and music and other such things.]

Scott: Yes, but then you get to spend the rest of your life with someone who knows everything.

Not even 19 years old, and already he's figured out that women know everything. :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Word of the Day

deintroversive (adj.): having the quality of energizing introverts, generally applied to a person--John is deintroversive; I enjoy spending time with my deintroversive friends.

Origins: Eastern Ohio River Valley, 21st century. The term derives from the fact that introverts, although not opposed to socialization, generally find it tiring and have to "recharge" afterwards. However, when socializing with certain people an introvert will find herself energized. These people are deintroversive to her.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chivalry, Modesty, and Other (Not Quite) Lost Arts

Last semester, I knew a guy--we'll call him Ben--who liked to fetch chairs. He wasn't really one of my friends, but I had a class with him and one of my good friends was likewise one of his good friends, so we saw each other pretty often. It sometimes happened that I would be looking for a seat in the Caf, notice my friend sitting with her little group, and go to sit with them. Sometimes it would happen that there wouldn't be a free chair. When that happened, everybody would start moving their chairs a bit to make room, and Ben would get up and get me a chair. Every time. It didn't matter if he was in the middle of his dinner or if the nearest free chair was quite out of his way, he got up and got me a chair. I let him. It seemed to make him happy and it didn't hurt me any--in fact I rather liked it. It's not that I'm not perfectly capable of getting my own chair, because I am and I have done so on numerous occasions, but if a gentleman wants to get up and get me a chair I'm not going to be offended. I find it rather charming, in fact.

Ben has since transferred, but there are still plenty of gentlemen running around here. Franciscan is full of them. A good example would be my friend and fellow blogger Scott. Scott makes a point of holding open doors. On second thought, perhaps that is a bad choice of words. He doesn't make a point of it in the sense of, "Hey, look at me, I'm being chivalrous!" He just puts special effort into being the first one to get to the door when we're walking together. I let him. In fact, I give Scott more room to be chivalrous than I do most guys. You know what I mean when I talk about there being two sets of doors leading out of a building? There's one set, and then a little anteroom, and then another set. How it works is this: Scott opens the first one. I go through and then pause. Scott opens the second one. I go through and we continue on our merry way. The pause is the part that's unique to interacting with Scott. Usually when I'm going through two sets of doors and somebody holds open the first one I thank them and then keep going. Every now and then a guy will be quick on his feet and manage to open both, and if he does I thank him again, but I don't stand around waiting for him.

Another thing Scott does that I only just figured out: When we are walking along and happen to cross a street, he will make a little half-stop. At first this confused me and I would stop too. Finally I figured out that whenever Scott stops, he resumes walking on the other side. That is, if we are walking with me on the left and him on the right, and we cross a street, Scott arranges it so that he will then be walking on the left and me on the right. Why? Because gentlemen walk on the street side of the sidewalk, and ladies let them.

I want to reemphasize that second point. Men have really hard time being gentlemen unless women cooperate by being ladies. In all of the above examples, I could have gotten offended and refused to have my chair fetched/ have the door held open/walk on the inside of the sidewalk. I hear that some women do that. I personally don't understand that. When a man acts like a gentleman it doesn't make me feel condescended to (as if I can't do the things they're doing for me); it makes me feel special. When I know my companion is going to treat me like a lady, I'm more disposed to act like one.

Here I would like to make a little side note, concerning the distinction between courtesy and chivalry. Courtesy is a very good thing, I don't want to downplay it at all, but there is a difference. Courtesy is when I hold open the door for the people behind me because nobody wants to have the door slammed in their face. Men can be courteous towards women--and I am quite thankful for the men who have considered my feelings and not let the door slam in my face. Men can, however, also be chivalrous. Chivalry is a bit more gratuitous than courtesy--when a man's being chivalrous, he's not holding the door open because I happen to have been walking behind him and I deserve not to have the door slam in my face. He's being chivalrous when he gets to the door first on purpose and holds it open for the simple reason that I'm a lady and he's a gentlemen and that's how it works.

I suppose it's quite possible for a man to act like a gentleman without really being a gentleman--just going through the motions without really caring about the ladies he's being chivalrous towards. I don't think that happens very often nowadays, though. Maybe it would have happened in Emily Post's day when people were expected to do that kind of thing, but in the good old 21st century, if a man acts chivalrously he probably means it, because the prevailing social conventions are, for the most part, anti-chivalry. You can hold the door open for someone who's carrying a heavy box, for instance, but heaven forbid that you should hold the door open for someone simply because she's female. The brave few who do that anyway are probably going to be real gentlemen. How do you tell a real gentleman from an imposter? Simple: you just know. We're women, after all, and we're entitled to our intuition.

I don't want to give the impression, however, that "it's the thought that counts" and chivalrous actions don't really matter. We're an incarnate people. We need symbols, visible and tangible things, to comprehend unseen realities. I am perfectly capable of opening a door, but when one of my guy friends holds it open for me it's a symbolic way of saying that he respects me. The more respectfully men treat me, the more likely I am to respect myself. It works the other way too: The more I respect myself, the more likely men are to respect me.

Which brings me to the second topic of my post: modesty. Modesty is in its essence an interior disposition. There's a story that says Marilyn Monroe could walk down the street in a nun's full habit and still find a way to be immodest, while a nun could walk down the street without a stitch on and still find a way to be modest. That's true, but we're still incarnate and symbols are still important, so in the normal course of things women ought to dress in a way that is befitting their feminine dignity. I'm not one of those people who thinks a woman's being immodest if she wears pants (I happen to be wearing pants today, in fact) but I do think that makes a difference. I feel different in pants than I do when I'm wearing a skirt or a dress. When you're wearing a skirt you have to be more careful about how you carry yourself, how you sit down, etc. There are times when you don't want to have to worry about things like that: horseback riding, carrying firewood, playing Twister--and those are times when I think a woman ought to wear pants. I also think, though, that barring times when a skirt would be a severe hindrance, women should try to wear them as much as possible. How you carry yourself is important, how you present yourself to the world is important. I might be as ladylike as can be on the inside, but if the way I dress and the way I carry myself doesn't indicate that I respect myself, then how can I expect men to respect me?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Blogging the cat

Because they say a picture's worth a thousand words, and I haven't time to type out the long and insightful posts dancing about in my head.

"Why would you want to go back to college when you can stay and pet me?"

"I need a belly rub."

"Good human."

"But eating the camera is so much more fun than posing!"

"I look like I'm getting a belly rub, but really Mommy is holding me down for a photo op."

Friday, March 7, 2008

Murphy's Law

In the future I'm not going to tell my friends that the only reason I would cancel on them would be "if it's blizzarding."

We're currently under a blizzard warning.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I come by it natural

Dad, on yesterday's post:

"I have had people tell me that during conversations I will pause slightly before replying."

Then he sent me a link to this.

Excerpt: "[T]his affliction, esprit de l'escalier, is one of the principal reasons why people become writers."

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I enjoyed this way too much

Today the phone rang and I answered it to hear a recording of, "Hi, this is Hillary Clinton..."

I hung up on her.

Stream of Consciousness Blogging

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature
born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him... a touch is a blow, a sound is a
noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a
lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the
overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating
of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very
breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some
strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is
—Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel laureate (1892-1973)

I collect quotes, and this one is one of my favorites. I think I like it because it shows that if I'm not normal at least I have companions in my abnormality.

Sometimes I feel like the Man from Mars in Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. Whenever something important happens, I have to withdraw for a little while so I can grok it. It's one of the reasons class participation always makes me feel a little like I'm going down a steep hill on a roller coaster. I like to have time to pause and ponder and decide what the best response is going to be, not just fire off the first thing that pops into my head. How other people manage sponaneity I don't know. One theory I have, that ties in with that quote above, is they simply don't have the problem where the minute someone suggests something their mind immediately goes into frantic activity, offering all possible obstacles to the course of action, proposing solutions, weighing alternatives--until it's easier to just say No, I can't do it, so that I can shut off my hyperactive brain and have a few seconds of mental silence before something else comes up.

It works like this in relationships too--I have a hard time with casual conversation because I have this idea that everything ought to mean something. So afterwards I'll go back and analyze every word and think about how I would have responded if I'd had a little more time to reflect.

All this is a somewhat rambling way of saying that I spend every waking moment of every day processing an enormous amount of information. Maybe other people do this too, but it seems sometimes like I'm the only one who has to think so hard about everything, who can't just make a simple decision without having to see how this course of action might tie into everything else.

It's why I don't have a lot of friends. I can remember names pretty well but I don't consider somebody my friend just because I know their name. I really don't think I know them well enough to call them my friend until I have an idea of what makes them tick. My idea of my best friend is not just the name Emily and what she looks like. My mental image of her includes her brothers and parents, my relationships with them, her relationships with our mutual friends, her relationships with people I don't know, what she wants to do with her life...etc, etc. When I have conversations with my friends I'm not just chatting, I'm collecting random bits of information to add to my mental picture of them. I've creeped people out once or twice by remembering some small random detail they mentioned once a long time ago. Maybe this is one of the reasons I'm called to marriage--I can't imagine anything more fulfulling than spending the rest of my life learning and cherishing every detail, no matter how seemingly insignificant, about another human soul.

There are times when I want to shut off my perceptions, shut out the world. A few weeks ago I was heartbroken over some small disappointment--I can't even remember what it was now, but it seemed then like the world was going to end--and I remember crying about it and asking God why He made me feel things so much. Why do I have to be so fantasically sensitive? Why can't I just take the little ups and downs in stride like other people?

In the end, though, I decided that I didn't really want to be different. Sure, small crises can ruin my day; but when a big crisis hits one of my friends my ability to feel it so intensely is an advantage. I spent the whole summer of 2006 crying alongside one of my friends and it hurt horribly, but I wouldn't trade that summer for anything. It felt like I'd been broken and put back together again; but in my new shape I realized that it was one of the most important things I'd ever done. In 50 years my friend and I won't remember what we got on the SAT but we'll remember that summer.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but it says right over there on the sidebar that this is about my journey towards Heaven and as I've been saying for a while now, if I get to Heaven it will be because of other people. I could draw into myself and try to find salvation by pondering the mysteries of the universe, but I've tried that and I barely made it out sane. So then I tried giving myself permission to be broken, to be imperfect, and I found out that people will let you do that. There are some incredible people in the world who mend broken souls. Then there's me, with my abnormally sensitive soul, my ability to see hurts that nobody else sees and to cry with the person who's hurting. I'll consider it worth all the difficulty of going through daily life with a soul that sees every misfortunate as tragedy and every joy ecstasy, if I can mend one broken soul that way.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Leap Day 2008

This might be a boring post, dear patient readers, but I want to write it down before I forget. Then in 4 years, if this blog is still around, I'll do a "What I was doing last February 29th" post, and see what's changed.

On February 29, 2008, I woke up at 5:30 AM and proceeded to freak out about my Anthropology midterm. I was sure I was going to fail it (to give a little context: in my world failing is a B). Instead of lying in bed despairing over my once-perfect GPA, I got up and read about Lamarck and Darwin and all those other guys I don't give tuppence for. Honestly I am pretty ambivalent about the whole evolution debate, which makes for some interesting coversations with Durnhelm's brother, the Junior Paleontologist, who is 15 and last summer was invited on an actual dig with real paleontologists. I like talking about that because this kid is like my unofficially adopted little brother and I'm proud of him.

But I digress. At the time I was not thinking of the fun arguments I could have with the Junior Paleontologist, but only about how I knew absolutely nothing of what was going to be on the test (I think I dramatized things a bit in my sleepy state--but then again I dramatize things when I'm fully awake too). Finally at 6:00 I decided that prayer was the only thing that would get me through this test and got ready to go to Mass. The Roommate chose to go back to sleep rather than joining me, so I sat with the Servants. The Servants have a habit that I enjoy and moreover that is good for me--after Mass they go to the Eucharistic chapel and pray for a good 10 minutes or so. I like it because I like praying with Jesus. It's good for me because on the days when I am fidgeting with impatience to dash out of Mass as fast as possible, it forces me to be there, to forget about the test a few minutes and remember why I'm here. So I spent 10 minutes with my face in the carpet because sometimes kneeling just doesn't cut it (I am a very physical sort of pray-er--it's one of the reasons I'm glad to be Catholic).

After Mass we went to breakfast with Tantum Ergo and discussed who was there and who wasn't there. One of the Servants was sleeping in because she just got engaged the night before (yay! cue girly romantic gushiness which I do have despite my usual sensibility...) and getting engaged is tiring, apparently. I ate some muffins and part of my eggs, but not all of them because I've discovered after 6 months that eating scrambled eggs every morning gets REALLY OLD.

After breakfast I went and studied frantically a bit more. Then I trotted off to Anthropology and took my test with fear and trepidation.

Here's the thing about me and tests: I will work myself into a state beforehand, but the moment I have the paper in front of me and pen or pencil in hand, I am good to go. I went through my Athropology test at a steady clip, confidently filling in answers and circling letters and whipping out a couple of quick essays at the end. I hate studying for tests, but I love taking them. (Yes, I'm weird. Took you this long to figure it out?)

Theology was fairly routine, then a lunch of really nasty popcorn shrimp and fairly good french fries, then off to my room to make sure my Spanish homework was in order and attempt to start packing. I'm glad the Cobbler ended up hitching a ride with us, and furthermore glad that he doesn't get out of class until 3 on Fridays, because I would not have been packed at 1 or even 2.

Then I went to Spanish and we didn't get through everything because one of the questions asked, in Spanish, whether we knew any famous people but then people started getting lazy and talking in English about all the famous people their friends of friends of friends had shaken hands with and that was pretty much the rest of class.

After Spanish I had a very brief study group for Media & Society because two of the 4 people didn't even show up. One had been excused because her flight left at 10:00 AM, but the other must have just gotten confused and thought we didn't have a meeting. She is forgiven because she is the only one who's never missed a meeting before.

So then it was time to frantically stuff things into my backpack, which I did from 1:30 to 2:30. At 2:30 I was packed. I would have been a half-hour late for our pre-Cobbler departure time but as things were I had half an hour to kill so I went over to Rebekah's room and we chatted for a bit until it was time for me to go.

At about 3:05 I called the Cobbler in his room and he heard it just as he was leaving and answered and got confused because apparently I sound rather high-pitched on the phone (I have a fairly deep voice for a girl). Whether this is just the fault of the phone or whether I inadvertently pitch my voice higher when talking on the phone I don't know. After I had clarified that it was in fact me we established that he was leaving his room and would be at the designated meeting place in a matter of minutes. He was, so we piled into the car and left.

The Cobbler slept the whole way, so no interesting conversations to report. I read some of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I have been trying to get into for the last 6 weeks. I tried to nap. I read some more. I had cranky thoughts about People Who Can Sleep in Cars (I am not among that priviledged group). I read some more. I worked on the next chapter of my novel. Writing, that is, not reading. I'm on Chapter 21 at the moment. My New Year's Resolution was to write at least 1 chapter a month. I stayed up late Wednesday night to finish Chapter 20, partly because it needed to be done by February's end and partly because the muse was on me. (In case you are curious, I anticipate the book having 38 chapters.)

We made good time to the place where we were meeting the Cobbler's mother so she could take him back home and we could turn the other way in the direction of the Polis. I find the Cobbler's mother utterly delightful. Yes, I base this on 2 minutes in a McDonald's parking lot, but some people simply exude motherly goodness.

Finally I was dropped off at home and dragged my bags inside. I was promptly asked to tell about how the drive had gone, and shortly thereafter ignored the good-natured teasing which my mother considers a requirement whenever I talk about the Cobbler. Just for the record: Yes, one of my best friends is a guy. No, he is not my boyfriend.

I spent the next few hours jumping from one activity to the next. I sat down to eat and got up again. I went to my sister's room but left after a few minutes. I sat down at the television and got up again. There are so many things you can only do at home and I wanted to do them all at once. I also cuddled my cat, who decided to be un-catlike and practically the minute I walked in the door abandoned all feline aloofness and lay down with her little paws in the air so I could rub her belly. Yes, my cat likes belly rubs. She also barks. She grew up with our dearly departed dog and has some species identity issues.

At bedtime my mother forced me to take cold medicine despite my insistence that I am not sick anymore. Yes, I have a lingering cough but that doesn't mean I'm sick.

Then I said my prayers and went to bed in my own room. Such was February 29, 2008.