I hardly ever watch television. There’s not even a TV in my house. But through a series of very unlikely occurrences there is one show that simply captured my heart (or hearts, if you know what I mean).
A British series about an ancient time-travelling alien who flies through space in a bigger-on-the-inside phone box; saving worlds, having adventures, meeting friends, and losing them. It sounds bizarre, but there’s a bit of the bizarre in me as well, so I like it. I mean, it’s wonderful. Okay, basically, I love this show. (I could talk a lot longer about its nuances, but as we joke around here… it’s not in the cards.)
The next instalment premiers on Saturday. And I, in all my Whovian splendour… will not be watching it.
Yeah, so that doesn’t really make sense. When I love something to the point of distraction, why would I choose to keep it at a distance? Because there’s a danger in distraction; a threat inherent in pleasurable diversion. I’m not really sure why I’m telling you this, but perhaps it’s because I still don’t understand it all myself.
I have this way of loving sometimes. There are a lot of passion-channels in my heart, and my feelings flow like sand to tip scales and power my days. I tiptoe like a tightrope walker trying to balance it all. Open a channel wide enough, and all the energy of my soul comes pouring through; the sand piles into dunes and the sea comes striding in with a roar. Sometimes I need that oceanic passion- that biggerontheinside vortex that sweeps me high and fast beyond the world. But sometimes… sometimes I need to calm my starstruck eyes and remember the world. I need to balance. It’s good to give passion the reigns on occasion, but it’s important to make sure it’s not wearing blinders.
People and causes, beliefs and ambitions… my passion has focused on many of these. There were the summer musicals which made me want to only ever be at practice. The tournaments that left me lonesome. The friends, the plans, the wishes, the wanderlust. But then there were the stories. Stories that fill and burst and grow and make me hurt inside. Stories that are alive. It began with The Chronicles of Narnia and imagining Aslan leaping out at every deer crossing. My mom read aloud to us and I listened with every single cell I possessed and sometimes after she had finished I snuck to the shelf and read ahead when she wasn’t looking. When we finished the series I bought my own set of the books and read from it almost daily for I don’t know how long. After that, it was The Lord of the Rings and pretending to be Elvish and writing my name in runic letters. I devoured the movies, the music, the Silmarillion, the Books of Lost Tales, and took dictation from recordings of Tolkien reading his work. Stories get inside me and never leave, never die. Peter Pan, The Borrowers, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Phantom of the Opera, Robin Hood…. I’m a writer, but I don’t write stories; they write me. I’ll bet somebody’s said that before.
Anyway, it’s kind of weird. I can cry myself to sleep over fictional characters because there’s a part of me where they’re always real. I write poems about them, I sketch them in my journal, I follow them to see what happens next. Doctor Who is a heart-pounding, heart-warming, heart-wrenching story; full of characters that are so alive a single glance can make me sob or soar cloud-high. Joy and sorrow are woven inseparable and it’s beautiful, awful, masterful. And so different: most stories see the characters through a few trials and suffering and pain, but you know that in the end, it’s going to be happy. Doctor Who sees its characters through some excitement and camaraderie and happiness, but you know that in the end, it’s going to be sad. You end up asking yourself the question asked and answered by the Doctor: “What’s the point of them being happy now if they’re going to be sad later? And the answer is, “Because they are going to be sad later.”
It hurts. It’s brilliant, but it hurts. And that’s why people like it- because it makes you feel. But for me, a few feelings are the few grains of sand that trigger an avalanche. And while it’s exciting to live so many lives, I don’t want to do it at the expense of my own. When the floodgates of my passion are let loose, when so much soul-energy pours down one channel, I forget. When I’m mentally travelling in the TARDIS, I forget to watch my baby sister grow up. While I’m musing over the significance of mysterious characters, I forget to study the people I see every week. While I’m saving worlds with the Doctor, I forget to save my own.
And so it’s all about balance, once again. Loving the stories but living MY life. In the words of G.K. Chesterton, “I am all for going to fairyland, but I am also all for coming back. That is, I will admire, but I will not be magnetised, either by mysticism or militarism.” And that’s why I’m taking a break from Doctor Who for a while. Learning what it means to come back.
almost-healed blisters from chopping down trees with Andrew
walking barefoot in short-clipped grass and red garden soil
Anna browsing Pinterest
boys throwing pebbles at my window
dirty cowboy hats in the garage
all hands on deck in the garden with rakes
Dad “forcing” people to put their banana peels etc. in plastic compost containers
sudden spring and sneezing in hay
everyone sprawled out on the Lathams’ couches watching Phineas and Ferb
Sam owning everyone at video games
the bounce board
Mom wheeling Caroline around in the stroller in the afternoon
Alan poring over library books and lining them up across the living room floor
Noah helping me play Lego Batman
Josh going back to old subjects when everyone else has moved on to another topic of conversation
“Guys don’t really like a ton of people. Girls are like, “I love everyone!!”" -Sam
lots of yelling. all the time.
borrowing Emily’s camera
random power outages
spotty cell phone service
bumpy dirt roads and radio turned up loud
throwing the frisbee
spontaneous dinner parties
Emily’s homemade bread
Caleb dancing to Gangnam Style
cuddling and tickling on the couch with Noah and Abby and Caleb
sunset light filtering over the hill behind Michael and Emily’s house
“I can’t wait until you make your pickles again, Grace.” -Anna
Alan eating too much peanut butter every morning
Caroline and Sam tickling each other with grass
the way Alan screams with his tongue out when he’s hurt himself
Andrew wearing The One Ring on a chain under his shirt
Abby’s glass collection at the fort by the free-running course
that one piano app on Michael’s phone
“There are these magnetic mushrooms… but they go to sleep during the day so you have to give them a coffee bean..” -Michael
Josh and Andrew’s garden-dirty hipster shoes
medieval philosophy lectures and silhouette bookmarks
getting poked in the ribs
broccoli and cauliflower plants between the blackberry rows
crowding around Michael’s television watching the extended Lord of the Rings
everyone annoying everyone else
everyone loving everyone else anyway
hugs and head-kisses
I finished reading Moby Dick today. Sometimes I pick up a book and several hours later I slide it back onto my shelf, completed. It wasn’t like that with this monstrosity of a novel. (If there’s someone alive who’s read Moby Dick in one day, you’re doing it wrong.) Last September I found a beautiful online project commemorating the 150th anniversary of the book, which featured the book itself read aloud and offered a new chapter a day from “Call me Ishmael” to the epilogue. Each chapter was read by someone different, and the readers ranged from famous (David Cameron), to talented (Benedict Cumberbatch), to so bad that I found myself reading aloud in my best British accent to drown out the horrid monotony.
For as long as I can remember, Moby Dick has been sitting on a shelf in the living room, gathering dust and the sting of being adamantly and thoroughly ignored. You know how it is. “Oh, there’s Moby Dick,” says the would-be reader. “One Hundred and Thirty-Five chapters about the anatomy of the whale. How enticing.” And they push it aside in favour of something less… salty. This seems to be the general opinion about Moby Dick. When I tell people I’m reading it their eyebrows go up like a whale’s twin flukes and on their face is clearly written their fear for my sanity. And as long as I continue to use cetological analogies, that fear will probably persist. I can’t blame them, because when I was younger I twice attempted to begin reading the monolithic book and was unable to get past the first page. “Five Hundred and Twenty-One pages of THIS??” thought I. “Not a chance.” But with the discovery of the afore-mentioned website, I decided to give it another go. And, despite a few droning readers, I’m incredibly glad.
Melville’s book is a labyrinth, a sunken shipwreck glistening in divers’ torches, a hedge grown carefully to form a maze. The problem with reading a labyrinth, a shipwreck, a hedge maze, is that it takes so long to reach the centre, the treasure, the way out. 135 chapters there are, and not until chapter 133 do we meet the whale who lends the book his name. On the way, Melville takes us on innumerable different tangents; we study the history of whaling, the boatmen of the Erie Canal, the meaning of life in abstract, differences between species of whales, the life story of the ship’s carpenter, what happens if you fall asleep at the tiller, and, yes, the anatomy of the sperm AND right whales. The book is a maze. Ah, but the book is AMAZING. You see, we’ve become so obsessed with Destinations and Results that we forgot the excitement of exploring along the way. We push and prod our stories to fit the Perfect Story Arc and we start to think it’s the only way to go. We don’t remember that there’s a Character Development Story Arc and a Let’s Confuse People For Fun Story Arc and an Epic World Creation Story Arc and more. Each serves a different purpose and each is valuable for a different reason.
A one-legged captain with a soul, he says, that is a centipede. A mate torn between two loyalties. A ship that tows its wake around the world in search of a white whale.
It’s so hard to choose between pointing out the masterful plot points and allowing you to read the book yourself and be surprised! It’s absurd how many people have not read this book and yet think they have a decent grasp of what it means. I would love to cast all mistaken opinions overboard, but there are two reasons why I am not going to do that. One, it is very difficult to claim to be “right” about this book. There are many possible interpretations and that’s the beauty of it. Two, because you should read it yourself! Spend a year at it if you have to. It’s a masterpiece full of fabulous ocean analogies and characters as multi-faceted as the waves. It is a book of ardent belief, much of it contradictory. (In fact, it really feels as though Melville just sat down and wrote the whole thing from start to finish without bothering about continuity of opinion. That’s not the case, though; he wrote multiple drafts of it before he was finally satisfied. So the contradictions are purposeful and rather spectacular in the way they tug at your mind and pull you into bouts of thinking.) It’s a work of art; a study of humanity and madness; a celebration and a condemnation of the sea.
This is one of my favourite chapters. It’s only a few minutes long and it’s read by Benedict Cumberbatch (who, for those of you who aren’t familiar with him, is a phenomenal actor with a rich voice). You should listen.
>>My little brother smashed some clam shells and their mosaic devastation made me stare. So I wrote a word-song.
Sea shells, stained glass
tower windows lie cracked
salt breath, long grass
Cracked paint, rust chain
hauling driftwood in the rain
pale sky, old face
Waves fight moonlight
do you believe in love at first sight?
dangerous fog nights
victory in mourning
last stand, roar sea
And a lighthouse clinging to a rock
Sprayed fierce with the sea it mocks
Never rests until your ship comes in
And it expects the silence that you say
It just asks that you stay away
And the sea sprays salt and sand and wind
Ship’s bell, wet ropes
mate shouts, no one knows
all hands, no hope
Captain sees first
welcome sight in light verse
wheel grasped, ship turns
Calm sea, no land
step on deck to look again
find home if you can
Winter, Spring, Fall
do you believe in love at all?
telescope, one call
And a lighthouse clinging to a rock
Sprayed fierce with the sea it mocks
Never rests until your ship comes in
And it expects the silence that you say
Knowing you are far away
And the sea sprays salt and sand and wind
leave your ship in harbour
slow train northward
Sea shells, stained glass
tower windows lie cracked
salt breath, long grass
Cracked paint, rust chain
hauling driftwood in the rain
pale sky, old face
Tide out, tide in
wash your heart, begin again
look up, breathe in
And find a lighthouse clinging to a rock
Sprayed fierce with the sea it mocks
A broken light at watchful rest within
And it expects the silence that you say
It just hopes that you’ve come to stay
And the sea sprays salt and sand and wind
He saw it suddenly; a pale and frightened ocean, stabbed with verdant daggers from above. It was the biggest thing he’d ever seen, but it had never been this big before, when he walked across the field smashing the thistles and hoping to flush quail from under some patch of crumpled weed. Only now, lying on the tractor seat, grasping leather with sweaty hands, head flung wildly backwards, could he see the bigness of the sky. It seemed that he saw it with eyes that weren’t his own, with a mind he didn’t know; the vision rushed into his body like an undiscovered galaxy into a black hole of open-mouthed surprise. And it made a new universe inside him. Lying upside down, red in the face and hair like hay sticking down through cracks in the loft, he forbade his eyes to blink. He opened his mouth to breathe the sight. The black hole filled and turned supernova. BAM, he knew. He saw and he saved the sight. Up he bounced like a thunderclap all magnificent. The tractor lurched when he jumped off the seat. And he ran, ran, panting, saying to the world, “I know you. You hid from me but I found you!” And the hills ran under him. At the foot of a tree his feet stopped pounding, but the explosion inside him reverberated like the stroke of midnight. Grasping hardy trunk with shaking hands, he climbed the old wizard until he reached the hollow where he stowed bullet shells and petrified wood like a magpie. Frantic with excitement and drunk with discovery he twisted and tossed his head backwards and tossed the world off its feet. Grass grew the ceiling, sky ate the floor. He clung desperately to the branches lest he fall through leafy under-canopy and fall forever. For a long moment he allowed himself to be deliciously frightened with a fear that was very real and yet called him master. And then he was up again, climbing down and running again, hearing his new world calling. He went to flush it from the bushes like the quail. He rushed to uncork all the wine in cellars he once thought were ceilings. He raced to unearth the earth. He ran to turn the world upside down.
You know when you’re stopped at a red light and you’re singing along to This Is Home or drumming the piano part from something by Michael W. Smith and for some reason you glance at the person driving the car next to you? And she’s wearing a snappy cardigan and biting her lip trying to make sure the windows are rolled down evenly and you just think- hey. We would be friends.
Or maybe you’re in the 10-items-or-less line at Walmart and it’s 10-people-or-more longer than the lines at the other registers and the guy in front of you is waiting to buy two bananas and a composition notebook. And what a coincidence, because you’re holding vanilla wafers and a package of pens.
You probably have so many friends you’ve never met. I have. I see them everywhere, but mostly I see them at book stores Half-Price Books is my favourite (along with a musty little shop in Boston) because, well, it’s half-price, and because they sell the tried and true books (which sometimes have train tickets belonging to someone named Hanson stuck inside). I spend too much money there. And while I’m shuffling along, head aslant, looking through the works of Ray Bradbury, I see shoes to my right, shuffling like mine. I glance. A glance is usually all I need to tell. And he’s thumbing through the Tolkien section, brow knit, wearing argyle, looking thoughtful. I go back to my Bradbury, grinning. Found another one. That’s two today, because I’m also counting the girl who walked in earlier and exclaimed to her friend, “It smells so good in here!” Yes it does, new favourite person. And I want to buy everything they have.
There is so much, so much to read. So many words to make you think and feel and rejoice and hurt inside. I was wondering how I’ll find the time. I need a lifetime. But that’s what I have, if Jesus asks me to wait for Him. Maybe He’ll bring me home soon (and that would be the greatest joy of all). But if I stay, if I remain a sojourner, there are treasures for me to find and maps for me to follow and wisdom and peace and happiness for me to chase. So I buy the books. This time I found a gorgeous hardcover copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, “What’s Wrong With the World” by G.K. Chesterton, a biography of Margaret Thatcher, “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells, a book on the art of writing by Bradbury, and a Latin-English dictionary. I was looking for the Vulgate, but that quest has proved more difficult. Quests do that.
If my name was Wordsworth
could I be worthy of the words I clutch?
If I was called Caesar
would they render to me the worlds I touch?
If I was christened Crusoe
could I leave to explore those lands alone?
If my name was Churchill
could I use my words to make them bold?
Oh, life. Everything good in this world is merely a breath, but those are breaths of fresh air. Life is a vapour and there is not one happy thing in it that cannot also make you sad. But sad is happy for deep people. Sometimes. There’s the sadness of dusty antiques and memories long forgotten by everyone but you and empty diners and books well ended. There’s the sadness of the Doctor’s goodbyes which hurt so illogically you can’t even watch those episodes without sobbing, which is ridiculous because it’s not even real. But there’s also the sadness of letters returned and dreams that you killed and driving home crying because you know. And it hurts. It hurts because you’re alive. So I live the life and I smile the joy and cry the tears and I drink the tea strong. I say the hellos and I whisper the goodbyes and I pray the prayers and I set my spell-checker to UK English.
And I read and write the words.
A while ago (10/9/12), I got this idea from The Art of Manliness. (which is weird because I am not a man. but I can be okay with weird.) I do my best to live by it. I fail, but I try. And honestly, life is not even about success. Life is about the trying. I’ve been planning to print it out and frame it in my room so I can see it every day because it’s easy to forget. But today is the first of a new year, and this is who I want to be.
I will put others above myself, knowing that greatness is found in service.
I will serve, not out of obligation, but out of love. In my service and my sacrifice, I will emulate Jesus who did as much and more for me.
I will not view myself as entitled to any good thing, but remember that each day is more than I deserve.
I will not speak ill of anyone out of senseless annoyance.
I will be kind rather than clever.
I will walk with open eyes to see the beauty all around me and I will praise its Creator.
I will use the talents God has given me to bless others and bring Him glory; I will not allow them to gather dust due to fear or apathy.
I will not make decisions designed to put myself in the spotlight.
I will surround myself with depth and wisdom in literature, films, and friends; I will not be trivialised by this culture.
I will not be deceived by the ideals of the world. I will not look for happiness in money, fame, men, opportunities to do what I love, or any of the desires of my fleshly heart. I will seek and do the will of God and remember that real happiness can only be found in the center thereof.
I will do all through the strength of Christ, knowing that I am too weak to win my battles alone, but that He has already won the war.
Other plans for this year include:
Taking a class on Latin
Intensive reading (my list is so long that I don’t have time to post it)
Selling my art on Etsy in partnership with my talented sister
Saving all my money for future travelling adventures (i.e. England…)
Volunteering at a local pregnancy centre
Coaching speech and debate and chaperoning my sister at tournaments
Writing every day when possible (“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” -Ray Bradbury)
There’s a really fantastic quote by Hemingway: “Courage is grace under pressure.” I’ll probably be writing that on my arm a lot this year.
There were ships
oh, and there were ships as well
each herself a well
seeping sordid men
each her boats were buckets
dipping out the crew
a harbour of shouts
eating up the night
Fly away: and with you, I.
We will find a way to die
To the ships, to the shouts
and the sea will come alive.
I haven’t written in a while and the words aren’t sliding right. My flow of consciousness is a frayed string and words are beads that don’t quite fit. The string needs licking. The bead-words need coaxing. Come on, recalcitrant vocabulary. Here, boy.
I have legitimately never before thought of my vocabulary as one entity in possession of a gender. That was weird.
But anyway, skybound audience, I thought you might be interested in my dreams. Don’t psychoanalyse me, if you please. Keep all that Freudian nonsense to yourself. I don’t mean my night-dreams, when the heater’s on and the computer’s on stand-by and the Cheshire cat hovers at subconscious cross-roads, telling me that it doesn’t very well matter which road I take, since I don’t very well know where I want to go. No, I mean my “unfulfilled ambitions”. Of life, you know. Wendy said hers is to write a great novel in three parts, about her adventures. Mine also include writing. And lots of stairs, actually. I just noticed that tonight.
1. My number one Most Exciting and Dearly Beloved dream and ambition is to own a bookstore in Boston or Britain; a bookstore with an upstairs apartment where I can live and write books or articles or poems or anything verbose.
2. My number two Almost-As-Exciting and Beloved ambition is to live in a lighthouse. With a massive library. And write books, etc.
3. Also, I want a corgi.
As far as fulfilling these ambitions go, I lack only, eh, about 7/10ths of a fortune.
Sometimes I feel like a hitch-hiker without a backpack.
Here’s a thing, though- I wasn’t meant to have everything I want. (hey, how about that!) Man does not live by bread alone, and Grace does not live by travel and libraries and songs alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
“For when dreams increase and words grow many there is vanity, but God is the one you must fear.” Ecc. 5:7
Let’s have adventures everywhere. But especially? Let’s have them here.
To be fresh as frosted sunbeams, to be newly alive every morning, to choose the hope of a child-heart when the days are piled like Babel and strength grows too strong to fight terror without being it, this my aim. To ride the crest of the life-wave and cling lightly to the sea skin when it’s ground into sand by a heavy storm. To be like the recycled breeze that stirs through the darkest corners and sees the pollution of humanity; the wind that carries scoffing across a campus, chaperones the fog in inner city bars, hears the cries of innocence raped behind dark curtains. Sees, blows, hears the pain world. But blows the hope. Once in hurricane, once in tear-brimming alleyway, once in smoker’s lungs, once in flickering Paris trees, once in stifled Asia streets, now in blessed Texas sun, blowing, not the pain, not the despair, not the evil. Blowing fresh.
In the first book of that rightly renowned trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, the wizard Gandalf the Grey pays an urgent visit to his superior, Saruman the White. It soon becomes apparent that Saruman’s robes are no purer than his new dangerous allegiance with the power that rises in the east, for now he boasts, “I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-Maker, Saruman of Many Colours!” Gandalf continues the story:
‘I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours, and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.
‘ “I liked white better, “I said.
‘ “White!” he sneered. “It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken.”
‘ “In which case it is no longer white,” said I. “And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.”
In analysing information, one uses discernment to collect knowledge and then uses the knowledge to cultivate wisdom. At any rate, that is how one ought to practice analysis. And yet, thanks partly to the existential movement of modernity, the world’s finders of fact are more like Saruman the Breaker of Wisdom, for they pick up the beliefs of tradition and sanity and begin to dissect them, reversing the process of analysis, breaking everything into smaller and smaller segments, and breaking their own hearts in the process. Creation silently laments with Eliot, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
The notion of positivism was very prevalent in the scientific circles of Michael Polanyi’s day. A chemist-turned-philosopher born in Budapest a few years before the outbreak of World War I, Polanyi was one of the only dissenters in a world where science was winning and only verifiable reality was held reliable. His contemporaries scorned the thought of idealism or imagination corrupting their work, and kept philosophy and theology as far away from their sterile laboratories as possible. Science would be king of a metal earth, once all the fantasies of tradition were dissected and analysed part by part. But Polanyi saw the world as a whole, not in pieces on an operating table. After completing his scientific education, it wasn’t long before he began to be more interested in the philosophies surrounding the facts. He developed an immensely controversial theory, which maintains that far from being verifiable and stoic, all knowledge is tacit or rooted in tacit knowing. He explains:
“We cannot ultimately specify the grounds (either metaphorical or logical or empirical) upon which we hold that our knowledge is true. Being committed to such grounds, dwelling in them, we are projecting ourselves to what we believe to be true from or through these grounds. We cannot therefore see what they are. We cannot look at them because we are looking with them.”
Polanyi realized that there are certain truths, certain ideals, which can never be scientifically verified. An excellent pianist cannot explain the exact workings of his talent; if he plays a piece with more than a subsidiary awareness of the actual placement of his hands on the keys, he will lose his ability to make the instrument really sing. Bach claimed it was simple- that you just have to press the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself. In other words, musicians know what they’re doing, but they can’t tell you exactly how. Likewise, a person may know what he believes, but he will not ever be able to communicate exactly why he believes it because such understanding cannot be verbalized accurately. Words are magnificent tools, but they are not equal to our thoughts. We cannot express the why of our existence like a teacher explaining that 2 + 2 = 4. Einstein understood a little of this, for he said, “Things ought to be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.” Essential core beliefs like human dignity are not simple. They are indispensable concepts, but if the propagators of positivism have their way, those concepts will never be admitted to exist, because they do not fit into an equation. Logical positivists can never fit the world onto their measly operating table.
In fact, they cannot even adequately distance their science from their own humanity. As Polanyi believed, all knowledge is rooted in something inexplicable, and in that sense, science is an art as much as music is an art. Scientific discoveries begin with imagination- a hunch, a confusing desire to keep experimenting when you don’t know the outcome, a willingness to take risks. Personal participation and imagination are essentially involved in science as well as the humanities. Therefore, said Polanyi, “Meanings created in the sciences stand in no more favoured relation to reality than do meanings created in the arts, in moral judgments, and in religion.” Atheist scientists arrive at the drawing table with presuppositions just as Christians do. The Christian belief that God created the world is laughable to most scientists, because, they say, it cannot be proven. Christian scientists are condemned by their peers for refusing to part with their foolish presuppositions about the existence of God and so forth. But any Christian who has studied the so-called factuality of evolution knows that the pet theory of today’s scientists is not rooted in verifiable and unbiased fact at all. It’s full of contradictions and missing links. Darwin’s theory was never more than a theory- it was never a rule or the truth. And yet it is widely accepted because the only other explanation is antithetical to the scientists’ pre-held beliefs about the non-existence of God. All men base their most central beliefs on faith in some truth. For some reason, the presuppositions of logical positivists are just more respected than ours.
Although positivism cannot make perfect positivists, its dangerous undermining of humanity’s most dearly held traditions and ideals has been noted and fought against by everyone who throws its part-to-whole fallacies out the window only to realize that the only thing positive about it is a positively negative worldview. I recently read an article discussing new discoveries in the realm of human anatomy. Some scientists think that, along with the 10 trillion cells in the human body, there are also 100 trillion bacteria of several hundred species bearing millions of non-human genes. These tiny organisms supposedly work together as members of a community, and the human “host”, say the scientists, is merely one (if dominating) member. This discovery (if it is one) could solve many medical questions and even lead to important cures. But it could unearth problems as well. Pursuit of physical cures unlocks questions on a metaphysical level. If the human host is merely the ruling aristocrat of a microscopic population, will there be shouts for the emancipation of the captives? Will there be “biological Robespierres” who maintain that the human individual has no more inherent dignity than the microbes he houses? This theory about what’s inside a human could make him inhumane.
When one insists on breaking something whole (specifically one of those ancient ‘natural laws’ of humanity) to find out what it is, he has, like the wizard Saruman, abandoned the path of wisdom. The parts do not always explain the whole, and dissection is not the way to divine meaning. The entire concept of meaning is meaningless, if analysed from a positivist standpoint. At the end of “The Abolition of Man”, C.S. Lewis said,
“You cannot go on ‘explaining away’ forever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to ‘see through’ first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ‘see through’ things is the same as not to see.”
There are some things that cannot be explained. The obvious solution will be to box them up and set them in the darkest corner of the basement, but anyone who tries it will find that the inexplicable is inseparable from reality. There are some mysteries that are woven into humanity like a thread in a tapestry, and he who tries to pull out the thread will find that he has unraveled the garment.
(^I have way too much fun with philosophy.)
A fire in the cotton field
purity turns to ash
nothing white is strong enough
all things good will pass
like a river, wishes go
to weathered sea from wistful snow
ignorance is all I know
but dimly, through a glass
Alas, my trade is done with words
and they have all been said
epiphanies are blown to rags
by time and bitterness
all to do is done, my love
and love is just a word, my love
and words are just charades, my love
or shadows, at their best
Trudging circles through a fog
man proves himself a fool
for all the lies in all the world
cannot make up one Truth
I grow too old to open doors
for dreams are lost and words are torn
and all that matters any more
is what I repeat after You
“Except the LORD shall build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD shall keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain.” Psalm 127:1
Socialism. Abortion. Fornication. Hate. Apathy. Adultery. Profanity. Sodomy. Sin.
Weighty words. Weighty evil. It makes me angry and it makes me sad. It makes my shoulders slump and my soul kneel, panting, in the dust.
It’s a dark and devilish world and there is so much to fight.
It’s enough to turn me into the worst of cynics. It’s enough to make me despair.
A cloud was on the mind of men, and wailing went the weather,
Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul when we were boys together.
Science announced nonentity and art admired decay;
The world was old and ended: but you and I were gay.
Round us in antic order their crippled vices came–
Lust that had lost its laughter, fear that had lost its shame.
Like the white lock of Whistler, that lit our aimless gloom,
Men showed their own white feather as proudly as a plume.
Life was a fly that faded, and death a drone that stung;
The world was very old indeed when you and I were young.
They twisted even decent sin to shapes not to be named:
Men were ashamed of honour; but we were not ashamed.
Weak if we were and foolish, not thus we failed, not thus;
When that black Baal blocked the heavens he had no hymns from us.
Children we were–our forts of sand were even as weak as we,
High as they went we piled them up to break that bitter sea.
Fools as we were in motley, all jangling and absurd,
When all church bells were silent our cap and bells were heard.
-G.K. Chesterton, from the dedication of The Man Who Was Thursday
I cannot fight evil with cynicism.
I cannot fight demons with despair.
“Take heart”, Christ declares. “I have overcome the world.”
Not, “I WILL overcome.”
“I HAVE OVERCOME.”
It is finished. Done.
We are fighting, but the war is won.
Sin does not rule this world. Love rules this world.
He is not sleeping, nor is He silent.
He is strong. He is sovereign. He is supreme.
We can only see the shadows because the Light has risen. The Light commands them, “This far and no further”. They are subject. They are defeated. The Light is eternally shining. “God’s in His heaven; all’s right with the world.” All’s right. The command is His. All’s right. He controls the dark. All’s right. Sin pays tribute.
“Where, O Death, is thy sting? Where, O Grave, is Thy victory?”
In other words, HA! And let the Church take heart! For Her bridegroom has overcome the world.
I can fight evil with exaltation.
I can fight demons with delight.
Because He has already declared the victory.
Blessed are they who did not see, but being blind, believed.
Sometimes I try too hard to find out who I am. I study myself, I look for patterns in my likes and dislikes and experiences, but the answers I find are only illusions.
Because my identity is hidden in Him. I am His, and nothing on this fragile, transient earth can define me. I am not defined by my talents. Or my clothing. Or my friends. Or the books I read. Or the movies I watch. I am not a singer, a writer, a dancer, a geek, a grammar nazi, an anglophile, a cowgirl, a Chestertonian, a poet, a friend, a speaker, a wearer of pearls, or a bearer of words. I am His.
And that is the only answer that will ever satisfy. It’s the only category in which I will ever belong. Everything else is a mask, a costume for my short time on life’s stage. Everything else is a lie.
He is, therefore I am. I am His. I am His. I am His.
“I am in Love, and out of it I will not go.”
The following disconnected narrative was written on my way home from Montana, some on the plane, but mostly as I sat in the airport. It’s largely unedited, and it reads a little bit like a Tumblr blog, so prepare yourself.
Long valleys sprout veins- erosion paths in the plateaus that cradle creeks and rivers. They look like cracks in a hard-set Jello sculpture. I can see the rims of mountains stretching around the side like tree-less ribbons. There is a canyon like a spine sunk into the yellow earth, and its tributaries are red like Mars. If I was a bird, I would fly down and find out if that’s really snow I’m seeing.
It’s all so different from the air. When I’m down on the ground, I look up at the mountains twirling into peaks like full dance skirts, and I feel so small. But when I’m in a plane, I look down on the same mountains and now they’re the small ones. All that snow is a very long way down. If mountains that dwarf me are looking so tiny and far away, think about how small I really am. The Bible says man’s life is like a vapour. I am the chilly spray thrown by the magnificent waterfall cascades I saw yesterday. I am mist tossing on a river of holiness. I am a feather on the breath of God.
There are so many people in the Denver airport. So many different kinds of people. I was one of the last people to get off the plane, and walking up through the empty cabin made me a little lonely. Not a really sad kind of lonely, though- it was the emptiness of a screen door left ajar and an abandoned cup of coffee on a clean white counter. It smelled clean- not like bleach or anything, just cared-for. I was a little bit surprised that it wasn’t more impersonal, but it’s hard to repress the character of all these people who pass through here. The airport itself smells emptier- like Mrs. Baird’s bread or something. But the people are fun to watch. I’m sitting across from my gate (its own seating area is filled with people ready to board an earlier flight to Bozeman, MT), separated from it by one of those conveyer belt walkways, on which people are walking unnaturally fast; almost gliding. I didn’t use it- I used to love those as a kid, but now I prefer walking at my own pace. I’m not in any sort of hurry, anyway. I’ve got a four-hour layover.
A young guy just walked by in a dress shirt and a tie, but his tie was loose and so was his expression- looking around, wondering. He was carrying a big brown backpack and a thick book I didn’t recognise. A backpack plus a tie is a bit of an odd combination. I wonder if he was going to or from home.
Another fairly young man walked up to the beginning of the conveyer belt with his little son. The boy took off down the belt in a fit of excitement, and his dad grinned a grand smile and waved before playfully chasing after the kid. People with kids are the only adults who seem to get excited by airports. When you show something to a child, it’s almost like seeing it for the first time yourself. I saw a lady sitting on the floor with her kids, dealing out cards for a game of (probably) Go-Fish. There are quite a few families sitting on the carpet in friendly circles, eating airport food and wearing Disneyland hoodies.
A few seats down from me, an Asian man is yelling into his phone at 100 miles per hour, clearly incredulous about something.
I just looked up and made eye-contact with the boy across from me- a basketball-shorts-wearing dude with a red Nike shirt and blue, blue eyes. Other than his eyes, there’s not too much to be said for him. His earbuds appear to be glued in. I smiled at his dad, who only stared at me. I like it better when people smile back.
A lot of people here are dressed the same. Polos, t-shirts, Aeropostale shirts, jeans, cargo shorts, backpacks. Sometimes I see someone wearing something really unique, like the lady in the sundress that was longer in the back than the front. She was accompanied by a little girl in a similar dress, and both of them looked like they had come from the Bahamas.
There’s a woman pushing two strollers at the same time. I do not envy her. I remember dragging two roller bags around Boston a few years back, and that’s not at all my favourite memory of that trip.
There’s a guy with a musical instrument case of some kind. I can’t tell what instrument it is, but its small, rectangular surface is covered in vibrant stickers.
Airports are always such hubs of action. It’s almost overwhelming. One could come here to escape from life, and I wonder if some people are trying to do just that- they look so defeated. Here I am watching humanity stream by- hearing the rumble of suitcase wheels and the “ding-ding” of cellphones, watching the rush, the energy, the importunate crowds, and I wonder what the hordes of humanity think of me. I know the answer to that already, though: they don’t.
I went to buy a sandwich at Schlotsky’s, which was nearly twice as expensive as they are outside of this transport trap. There was an old man in line behind me carrying a box from Build-a-Bear. He said he bought it for his grandson. He also had a wad of $100s in his money clip.
Another man in this waiting area is playing rock music on his ipod, out loud for all to hear. He’s sort of singing along, too. That’s more something you’d expect from a teenager instead of a middle-aged guy.
I should write about Montana, but airports are so intriguing. Every time I look up, it’s something else: the lady and her daughter hopping like rabbits down the conveyer belt, the girl wearing multiple scrunchies around her ponytail, the man laughing at his wife because she’s going to buy a Colorado magnet despite the fact that they’re not even leaving the airport, the guy who looks just like Michael from the back, the little girl in the sparkly tutu, the European man wearing white linen pants (ew?). I’d like to see all these people in their natural habitats. I’d like to follow them around the world.
Remembering the highlights of my glorious week in Montana, I think the drive up to the pass on the way to Yellowstone National Park was the most gorgeous thing. We climbed that steep, winding road like trout zig-zagging upsteam. And suddenly, there were no more trees. And suddenly again, there was snow. I waded through it in my shorts and cowboy boots, ducking Alison’s little brother’s snowballs. And it was all so huge up there. Looking down was like looking down into another world. Mountains awaken my soul to sing. The week I spent among them was exciting and rejuvinating, filled with hikes up to cascading waterfalls, wild raspberries, rafting, s’mores toasted over the gas grill, Doctor Who marathons, and small-town charm. I had incredible hosts and incredible adventures. The only negative elements of the trip were the massive mosquitoes (you think everything’s bigger in Texas? I’m afraid not.) and the sunburns. Oh, but I won’t even remember the negative things. We had a brilliant time.
Favourite quote of the trip, an exchange from when we were stopped in a long line of cars for two hours in Yellowstone because a massive herd of bison was traveling along the road ahead of us:
Ali: What if we’re stuck here all night?! Where would we sleep? What would we eat? Where would we go to the bathroom??
Mrs. L: That tree. For all your questions.
Now here I am on a plane to Austin, drinking Pepsi without ice, ignoring the endless car commercials on the tiny television screen in front of me, and wearing a jacket. I’m going home to Texas and I’m wearing a jacket. For some reason, that’s amusing. I finished reading “Catcher in the Rye” a few minutes ago, which starred a boy with a pointless life. His pointless life was probably the point of the book, but I was unimpressed, except by the writing style imployed by Salinger, which was detailed and interestingly cynical. But like “Gulliver’s Travels”, the book was just too annoying to be enjoyed, and it didn’t resolve, and it had too much language.
Another airplane just flew under us, looking very tiny. The funny thing is, it was flying sort of horizontally. It looked like it was being blown off-course, following its pointing left wing. I hope that’s supposed to happen. I’m told it has something to do with physics and relative distance, which, although I did study it once upon a time, is endlessly intriguing and confusing.
The only bad thing about window seats is that, if you’re on the 3-seat row side of the plane, you would have to crawl over two people if you had to go to the bathroom… or, I should say, the “lavatory”. I wish they wouldn’t say “lavatory”. It sounds snooty. Is there something wrong with just calling it the restroom? Or you might as well call it the “loo”. At least that’s British.
There’s a picture of an ermine on the wing flap of this plane.
I forgot one thing I liked in “Catcher of the Rye”. A quote by psycho-analyst Wilhelm Stekel: “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” I think that’s very true, and sometimes very hard to take. Sometimes, dying is easier.
It’s the last post of the Blog Swap, and I had tinkered with the idea of writing a grand and glorious article to finish out the trio… but then I went to Montana, where I am currently enjoying grand and glorious mountains against which my writing pales.
You may blame the honourable John Ryan for suggesting the topic of “ungracious ranting”.
Why I Find Tie-Dye So Annoying
At first plunge, preceding the baffling stuff,
I tell you that tie-dye is ugly at best.
Applauded by summer camp leaders and such
(Because it’s the kids who take home the whole mess)
Whenever I see its bright splotches and smears
I think (besides summer camps) of a smashed earth.
Like some crazy psycho made play-doh of trees
And water and tore up his whole backyard turf.
It’s also disturbing. An insult to eyes
That ‘specially appreciate thought-over art.
Remember the summer camps that seize tie-dye
As a desperate distraction (bad choice on their part).
But the most absurd thing about tie-dye, by far,
Is the fact that all my fine rantings up top
Can also be used to support and affirm
The same loony pattern! We spin till we stop.
(This post has nothing whatsoever to do with Time Lords. I just stuck that in the title to make it more interesting.)
“The word is “Mitsittyf”", he said. “MIT-SAH-TIFF.”
Thanks, Nathan Harris. You coined a word that I shall probably never be able to spell from memory.
This post is the second installment of the Blog Swap, in which I shall gleefully murder this enigmatic poetry form invented by my friend Nathan. He says there are rules to it, but if you look at the ones he’s written, you’ll conclude that if there are rules, he breaks them frequently enough. Hence, I felt justified in writing my own little fictional Mitsittyf exactly as I jolly well pleased.
The woods and the winds were dark that first fateful night we met and watched the stars whirl
I collided with you in Capture the Flag- we both got concussions and shrieked like girls
We still run into each other quite frequently, you and I
My head starts to hurt every time you pass me by
You feature strongly in my nightly dreams
The ones where everything goes terribly
I often wonder if we were meant to be
On opposite sides of the rolling sea
Far away and comfortable
As far away as possible
We speak in clichés
We text mostly “heyyyyy”s
“That’s romance”, the Disney Channel said
But both our faces were drenched with dread
Because when we go out and walk a moonlight path
People tend to trip and fall and topple down and usually crash
That’s why we keep distance from each other- at least 19-20 feet
To save the world from the damage that’s wrought every time we meet
Superheroes tend to work alone and I think we just swelled their noble ranks
With a plan of confrontation that involves no conversation- just you, me, time, and lots of space.
A few weeks ago, back when I was in the throes of wedding preparation, a friend of mine emailed with an intriguing suggestion. He called it a Blog Swap- in which four players (Nathan E., Nathan Harris, and John Ryan, and myself) would swap topics and post about each others’ interests, for a change. I acquiesced with interest, predicting that it would be an amusing occupation for the summer. That was before I made plans to be away from home for most of it. But thanks to the timed post options provided by WordPress, I’m puttering along with the schedule! This post and the following two will be part of the game, and I hope you enjoy! You might as well, since any dissenters will be ignored.
I also want to mention that this year, the four of us are supporting the Exley Family Mission Work in Belize. All six of the Exleys will be traveling to Belize for two weeks in August to help build an orphanage with their church. Right now, they have about $1300 more to raise before they are fully funded and we want to help them achieve that goal by introducing readers to their One Dollar Challenge. To find out more about the Exley’s Mission work, or to support them in their efforts, check out their Mission and Challenge.
And now, to proceed…
Apparently, questions such as, “What does it mean to be masculine?”, “What makes a man manly?”, and “How can I rival Chuck Norris?” are frequently asked by guys these days. I’m glad they’re asking those questions. I can’t imagine what kind of people they’d be if they didn’t. And… I am definitely just kidding. Honestly. To tell the truth, if I was a judge on America’s Got Talent, I’d give all of you guys top marks because it takes a lot to be a man in this day and age. Although, if I was a judge on AGT and you were competing, I might take off man points just because you appeared on the show. And I’d give you points for irony instead.
The topic of Masculinity was submitted to the Blog Swap by Nathan E., and I’ll do my best to skewer it with my own words and opinion here, as I present to you…
15 Characteristics or Skills (in no particular order) Which Will Earn You Man Points In “The Comprehensive Book of Manliness” by Grace Einkauf (yes, I just made up that book. no, you may not have a copy.)
1. Being able to walk barefoot on hot gravel or a dry rock riverbed without flinching, wincing, or tiptoeing of any kind
2. Quoting anything (except maybe WikiHow)
3. Not having a Twitter (note: having one does not actually cause you to lose man points, but not having one earns you more)
4. Hugging your mother in public
5. Not wearing flip-flops (unless you’re at the beach, the river, or the pool… because I have yet to see a good self-or-others-defense strategy that calls for flippy-floppy shoes.)
6. Welding (sparks, hot metal, protective glasses… it’s inherently impressive)
7. Demonstrating consistently proper spelling and grammar (bonus points for using the Oxford comma)
8. Reading a wide variety of genres (we’re thinking everywhere from Charles Spurgeon to Ray Bradbury)
9. Carrying a knife
10. Greeting strangers with a nod (the word is “courtly”)
11. Loyalty. Always.
12. Not spitting (please, quite the opposite of what some people seem to think, it is neither manly, appealing, or cool)
13. Maintaining and providing perspective (“Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?”)
14. Not watching viral YouTube videos until the week after everyone else has stopped talking about them
15. Having the strength to let go, the courage to lose, and the power to pass away
BONUS: Reading “The Art of Manliness”
Obviously, the 15 points above are a mixture of lighthearted suggestions and deeper character qualities. I couldn’t bring myself to go entirely either way, much to your probable chagrin. As much as I enjoy satirizing the topic, I do want to thank you guys out there for persevering in your pursuit of manliness and your pursuit of Christ. It’s immensely encouraging. I wish you all the best… and good luck with the welding.
He only wants yes. And he’s willing to throw his 4-year-old weight around to hear it. He begs, he whines; he even tries to make use of logic, which is always amusing.
“I want it. I neeeeeed it.” But sometimes the answer is no. And today, when the answer was no, he groaned and said, “But that’s not being sweet!”
Oh, wait. He thinks kindness equals yes. He thinks that if I don’t give him what he wants, I’m not being nice. I’m not being courteous unless I capitulate.
He doesn’t understand yet. He doesn’t realize that a closed door directs you on to a better house. He doesn’t realize that sometimes, “no” is the nicest answer I could give. Sometimes, “no” is neither noxious nor niggardly. Sometimes, “no” is nutritious.
When he wants to watch yet another movie. When he wants to go outside alone. When he wants to eat Cheez-Its for dinner. No is nurturing.
But he doesn’t understand. And, often, neither do I. Or, rather, I forget. When God doesn’t affirm my wishes, I stand wistfully in front of locked doors and wish there was a way; neglecting to turn my head and see the welcoming lights shining from the house down the street.
I want yes. I beg, I whine; I even try to make use of logic, which must be so amusing. But sometimes the answer from on high is no. And when I hear it, I groan. I equate kindness with “yes”.
But sometimes, “no” is the kindest answer He can give. Sometimes, “no” is meant to drive me on to something noble. When He says no to one of my wishes, He’s saying yes to one of His. He’s taking the rough draft of my life and rewriting it- taking out paragraphs I thought were important and replacing them with unsuspected plot twists and adventures that jump out at me from behind. He’s replacing all of me with Himself.
And it means that sometimes I find myself yanking on a locked door like a disappointed child.
But I cannot beg, whine, or reason myself out of the fact that kindness does not equal yes.
Affirmation does not lead to affluence.
And sometimes, nothing is more nourishing than “no”.
Three days after the wedding, we’ve finally cleared most of the evidence off the dining room table. My sister and my new brother are in Colorado on their honeymoon. I’m sure they’re having a beautiful time, and it makes me so happy to think of their happiness.
But you know what?
I miss her. I miss her desperately. I stood next to her and held her bouquet as she pledged herself to her man, and as they both dedicated their marriage to the Lord “for as long as we both shall live”. I smiled and cried. Because it hurts to let her go. “For as long as we both shall live”, we’ll never share a room again. “For as long as we both shall live”, I won’t wake up to her tiptoeing up to bed at midnight. “For as long as we both shall live”, I won’t have to sort her laundry. “For as long as we both shall live”, her towel won’t hang next to mine on the bathroom rack. For as long as we both shall live.
Saturday was a joyous occasion, full of hope for the future and gratefulness for God’s graciousness. The man she married is noble and wise, and I trust him to take care of my baby sister. She never looked so beautiful as she did in that pure white dress, in that pure white church, with her pure white heart.
I’ll miss her borrowing my clothes. I’ll miss sorting through her sheet music to find my own. I’ll miss laughing when she jams the sewing machine. I’ll miss talking until 5 in the morning. I’ll miss how she threw her laundry down the stairs, the way we absentmindedly harmonized in the kitchen, the living room, upstairs, outside. I’ll miss waking up and seeing her asleep in her bed, so exhausted from the day before, looking so adorable. I’ll miss the way she always asked me to scratch her back when she had asthma.
Now I can put my extra books on her vacated shelves. I don’t have to worry about her hearing me talk in my sleep and what I might say. I can keep the AC at whatever temperature I like. I can talk on the phone late at night. I don’t have to wait my turn for the bathroom. And if I cry myself to sleep, I don’t have to do it silently.
But I miss her. I miss my precious baby sister. I miss having to be strong for her, even when it hurt. I miss seeing her beautiful face every day.
She won’t be far.
I can still see her any time I like.
But “for as long as we both shall live”, it will never be the same. Sometimes, I don’t mind. I know that, in many ways, the best is yet to come.
But sometimes I miss her.
“Long live the walls we crashed through! I had the time of my life with you.”
What with having graduated last May and all of my family’s <british accent> mental </british accent> activities this spring (read: baby sister born in February, slightly-less-baby sister getting married in two weeks), I found myself whizzing through the semester with a sorry lack of NCFCA. I had all these plans last year… plans to coach speech and debate, plans to go to as many tournaments as I could… plans. We plan, God laughs. But as it turned out, even though I didn’t get to plug into the league as early in the year as I would have liked, I was able to attend the two last Region 4 tournaments of the year, as an alumni judge. And oh, blimey, have I missed this. Walking around in the same facilities in which I competed just last year brought back so many memories. I have three years’ worth of those memories. When I was competing, I kept a document solely for the purpose of chronicling some of the small ones, the unimportant ones, the kind of memories that spin the world. Perhaps now is a good time to revisit them. But prepare yourself: there are quite a few.
First tournament ever! I did NOT like my clothes, especially one day when I wore a maroon-ish argyle blouse. =P
My first speech ever in this league occurred on the third floor in room #360.
Christina Hastings and I were constantly quoting Wall-E at each other… specifically, “You look GORGEOUS!”
With little practice, no feedback, and no club to call my own, I managed to break at this, my very first tournament.
National Open, 2009-
I got my first 1st place ballot at this tournament. In Apologetics. I remember being shocked.
Since I didn’t break, this was the only tournament ever when I timed a semi-finals speech round.
Alamo Qualifier, 2009-
Late one night, at our host house, I was getting ready for bed when the power suddenly blacked out. Completely and totally. I brushed my teeth in the light of my cell phone. And it was freezing cold, just as a plus. Turns out, someone turned on the microwave and for some reason it shorted the system. I believe that Mr. Hastings had to go outside in the freezing cold (and rainy) night to flip it back on.
This was the tournament when I tried to take lots of pictures of people who matched each other. (partners or otherwise)
Paul Putman and I walked through the halls singing songs from Mary Poppins one afternoon!
The four Pevensies were created. <3
Sometime during prelims, I wrote my first ‘Timing TP’ poem while timing Maisano/Upham against another team I can’t remember! They’re probably in my records somewhere.
The gym was on the second floor, and it was often in use when we were competing. NOT a brilliant plan on the part of that church. =)
I was so tired on the last day that I literally tried to take a nap under the stairs. But people found me, and we ended up taking an awesome group ‘sleeping under the stairs’ picture.
Frisco practice tourney, 2009-
Here is where I learned the ‘Roll’ game, where you can get people to roll on the floor if they’re not doing the ‘block’ properly. The things we do sometimes…
It was so frigidly cold during the tournament. And since we had two competition buildings, we students perfected this sort of mad dash from one to the other, holding our suit coats tightly closed.
DFW Qualifier, 2010-
One of my HI judges at this tournament wrote that I should consider wearing a more generic outfit to fit my performance. I had been wearing a grey pencil skirt, a white button-down blouse, and black heels at the time. How much more streamlined can you get? =)
During lunch one day, Paul Hastings came over to finish my leftover food, and he tried to force me to write cryptic notes to place in Owen Stroud and Nathan E.‘s instrument cases. I actually gave in… but I made the notes less cryptic than he had intended, i.e, “You did great in extemp (he wasn’t doing extemp). Love, Paul Hastings.” Paul ripped out his name, and put it in anyway.
There was an incredibly tempting grand piano in the foyer that we were told not to touch. That was a trial. =)
It’s hard to believe something could be so convenient, but there was a room PERFECT for dancing and containing an upright piano :right: next to the fellowship hall. We taught the Virginia Reel and the Patty-cake Polka and the broom dance, and more! Plus, the vivacious timer lady sang with our live accompanists. What fun.
National Open, 2010-
During the accidental break between LD and TP finals, I ate dinner at the Pei Wei about 3 blocks and 4 parking lots down with a bunch of friends. When we got done, we walked back in the dark. And it was incredible.
Timing TP 2 was written at this tournament. Little did I know what would happen to it!
I learned the Highland Polka during TP finals. =)
Tim taught me how to two-step in the hallway, much to the amusement of the hall monitor.
The tournament staff had warned us to look out for snakes on the campus (Concordia). And one day when Owen and Molly and I were meandering along the paths for some reason, we spotted one eating a lizard. It wasn’t very big at all, but Molly and I still kept our distance. I had my back to Owen while I was watching the snake, and he suddenly lowered his voice and said, “Grace, don’t move.” So I didn’t. =) But I barely had time to register his urgent admonition before he laughed and said ‘just kidding’. =D
Tim told Caroline and I the ‘awkward waiter’ story. Historical moment. =)
Caroline brought her pink bubble wand… and… we used it. “You two will be the death of me!” -Tim
At the hotel on the Navy base, we had a large bag of sour skittles. I ate many. And read someone’s book about dragons at the same time.
Also at this tournament, I nearly forgot to give my speech during a round. I was sitting around talking blissfully, when Christina came up and announced happily that she was done for that round. I was all like, “oh, yay!” until I realized with an audible gasp that I WASN’T done, and the building in which I was to speak was all the way at the other end of the campus (Regent University). I ran all the way. (and I wasn’t late, after all)
Their library was directly adjacent to the fellowship hall. I had the best of times foraging through all the books.
I did not participate in the massive game of ‘Ninja’ which happened on the last day and filled the entire front courtyard area! I did, however, dance the polka and Posties Jig with members of various regions.
It was myself and about 5 young men, standing in the chapel on the second floor and exchanging stories of how we had almost died.
While executing a particularly difficult move in my HI, I stumbled and almost fell flat on my face. That’s never the best thing to do when you’re worrying about whether your judges will penalize you for it. None of mine mentioned it, though!
The first day ended so early (8:00pm, I think), that a lot of us stayed to dance the Virginia Reel for another hour or so. =)
National Open, 2011-
A little timer gal asked Ben Amason what she should draw. He suggested Grendel from Beowulf. But at her protests that she couldn’t draw a ‘monstrous spirit’, he told her to draw a bunny. A few minutes later she came back with a picture of a cat sitting in a tree. =P
“Breaking in Extemp…. Brandy Clayton.” -Mrs. Hudson
Right before the awards ceremony, Sarah Maddux had to leave to go back to A&M. She had a few guy friends with her, and I was teasing them about not letting them take Sarah back. Abruptly, this one guy says to me, “We will pay you some really wonderful compliments if you’ll just do us a big favour. Can you let us know who won TP finals?”
“Oh, sure! I’ll text Sarah.”
Then this guy whom I’ve never seen before in my life begins to shower me with the most extravagantly exaggerated compliments:
“Thank you so much! Your eyes are like twin amber sunsets over stretches of misty forests….” etc. and so on. He took my hand dramatically as he continued. How he was coming up with all this off-the-cuff, I had no clue. He must have used this tactic on others before me! I was laughing extremely hard, but I managed to get into the part a bit, fanning myself with my hand, and acting faint with happiness. It was some kind of hilarious.
I still can’t believe that I got 2nd place in OO and thus qualified to Nationals. So flooring. Also, I picket-fenced two rooms: OO and TI.
After the awards ceremony, ARC had planned a ballot party at our hotel, but Kathryn, Anna, and I wanted to go to IHOP with YSA and LOGOS and 19:14. So we convinced Mrs. Macdonald, and lovingly ditched ARC for the time. That night was amazing. We stayed until at least 1:20, laughing our heads off about everything.
Austin Qualifier (TX State), 2011-
What do Predestination, Catholicism, Science, and the 4th Dimension have in common? They were all exciting conversation topics when Avery and Nathan and I sat around a table for the better part of 2 hours. It’s unbelievably wonderful how we can be kindred spirits and true friends even when we disagree.
Jason Halvorson was happier than I was when my DI advanced to finals. The kid is adorable. I love him a ton. Also, he sent a bunch of us into spasms of laughter when he jumped into our conversation circle (sitting on the sidewalk outside before awards) and dealt out high fives, saying, “Hey, it’s all my homies!!”
I literally sobbed through the entire last half of my DI in semis. I love crying in dramatic productions.
Owen and I went into a back room with Molly to practice the Timing TP song before performing it for everyone, and we had the BEST time singing it in ridiculous operatic voices.
Having never received a 1st place award in speech before, I was thrilled to get 1st in OO and TI. (Because of this, I received an invitation to the THCS banquet in Austin, which was a formal affair with disgusting salad and hanging out on balconies.)
Abilene Qualifier, 2011-
I began to feel pretty sick on Wednesday night during script submission, and it worried me that I might have to pull out of multiple events. But God was so amazing and He pulled me through it.
Debating (only time ever) was such fun. Mostly. I went against some super fun and skilled people, like Kelton Brisack and Graham Wegsheid and Brady Clayton. How I ended up with 2nd place speaker, I have no idea?
Alison L. and Elizabeth C. appointed themselves to be my ladies-in-waiting. =) Alison: “Grace, you are going to have all the nations fighting over you. Can I get front row seats?”
The gym floor was a slightly rubbery surface, and I was quite excited when I discovered that marbles could bounce super high on it.
Brooks Clayton was my trash-emptying buddy. =) We made all the rounds during TP finals.
I got a 2nd, a 3rd, and a 5th&below in every impromptu room.
Saw on a white board: “Wear short sleeves; support your right to bare arms.”
Alison guarded me from men a lot. Whenever she saw me in a group of mostly guys, she got all defensive and hilarious. Apparently, I am very vulnerable according to her.
Caroline came to see me, and we sang Broadway songs outside for roughly an hour. <3
Got first in Thematic for the 3rd time in a row… ((what? cool.))
My last tournament in Region 4, and I was still meeting people! Worthless? Never.
You can read about my experiences at Nationals here. =)
5 cousins at Sea World in 2003 and 2012
So many things have changed, but some things have stayed the same.
And happiness follows us everywhere we go.
A scattering hand is reaching down
gather all your strength in vain
stand against Him like a wall
but He has brought His trebuchets
Majesty will be restored
but not to you, oh Nineveh
plundered was the holy land
but He remembered; He has come
The shield of His mighty men is red
the red dawn on their armour plates
the chariots, mustered, flash salute
the cypress spears will point the way
Your walls are breached; the horsemen come
they rush like water through your squares
they bring the light- the sun, the fire
the lightning sees the dark impaired
Your boding palace melts away
your queen is taken by the flood
Nineveh is like a pool
emptied swiftly, stained with blood
You are plundered of your wealth
what you served is served to you
Desolation in your city
Ruin, anguish: these your fruits
Where is the den of lions now?
your city was a hunter’s cave
strength was in your crouching snarl
but your stronghold has become your grave
“Behold,” the Lord of hosts declares,
“I am against you from this day.
Your chariots shall burn in smoke
and all your progeny be slain.”