Holiday Post

Nine P.M. on Christmas Day, and here I sit at my parents' computer. I am taking advantage of the sudden silence to post a little holiday blog.

Family tradition usually--if you don't count the year we all slept through our alarms--decrees rising at six on Christmas morning, but traditions change when children grow up (and stay up till one-thirty in the morning, etc.) and today we got up at 7:20. From then on, feeling more rested, we enjoyed a little normal fun: the reading of Luke 2 from the Bible, opening of stockings and gifts, and late breakfast.

The briefness of time in which life changes struck me today, as it often has before, when a routine holiday call to kinfolk in Florida transformed my family's mood from relaxed and celebratory to pensive and tearful. The health of one of my close relatives has declined so quickly that Mom bought a ticket this afternoon, packed a bag, and got Dad to drive her to the airport just an hour ago.

I don't know what will happen. All I know, amid the surprise of sadness, is that the prayers of this strong woman have meant a lot to me all my life. And that whether she recovers or goes to be with Christ, her soul is at peace with God--I believe it wholeheartedly.

So here I sit, Christmas night; though temporarily alone in this house except for God and the puppy, I feel myself surrounded by many a blessing and joy--joys long-known and comfortable, joys young and tremulous and delightful--yet here and there a very real sorrow.

Perhaps among the things the mother of Christ pondered in her heart were the ultimate reaches of both joy and sorrow meant to be carried and fulfilled by the child she cradled in her arms.


Harry Potter's Final Title

I know perfectly well that everyone else has already posted about this, but how can I resist? You're reading the words of one very-much-in-love fan.

Anyway, Chris Knight broke the news to me this morning: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (not the Deathly Hollows, as MSN had accidentally posted today) has been confirmed by J.K. Rowling and her publishing company. So if you were one of the three remaining Americans who didn't know that: now you do know.

Ahhh... now for the speculations. I need much more time to process this. The word "Hallows" intrigues me, though, as it refers to things sacred. And in America--I can't answer for England--"Hallow" is generally used as a verb or adjective, not a noun, so "the... hallows" interests me grammatically as well.

My first question: What in the Harry Potter books is held sacred? The traces of religious practice associated with 'magic'--traces which range in origin from alchemy to Zoroastrianism--have been stripped out of the books, far too cleanly to suggest that Ms. Rowling had any desire to do less. No, I doubt we'll find sacred items or rituals in the seventh book. If I may venture my opinion, those things which the great characters of Harry's story do venerate are principles: hope, friendship and loyalty, compassion, trust and honor; and, as is revealed clearly to Harry at the end of book 5--amid shattered silver instruments in Dumbledore's office, and in the agony of loss--love.

Make of that what you will.

Needless to say, I'm fascinated, and like children everywhere, am hanging on J.K.R.'s words. I've noticed that if I say on this blog that I'm going to post something, it'll never happen (still haven't reviewed Ender's Game, or Clay Aiken's latest CD, or that Over the Rhine concert) so I won't make too much of a comment about having a whole list of predictions to post the day before the release of book 7, or about my intention of putting aside my introverted tendencies and attending the nearest Midnight Madness to get one of the first copies out of the boxes.



I am here.

A faithful blogger, having disappeared from the face of the blogosphere for two complete weeks, should probably at least post some kind of excuse for the absence.

That, however, constitutes far more than I can manage right now. The hour is late, and sleep I must have. But I will be back, oh yes. This little space has not been neglected out of lack of love.


Snow and Musings

Victory at last! Even in the winter of '96, when we got two feet of snow in Anacortes, it only lasted a couple of days. Today, though, for the first time in a week I actually got to drive my car. The snow has finally gotten itself under control and mostly off the roads. Honestly! I thought I'd left Montana over ten years ago, but Bellingham this week felt just like good ol' Bozeman of a January.

The drama of being snowbound has for me included riding the WTA buses to and from work, creative cooking with canned chicken, lots of MSN Messenger and telephone conversation (most other social interaction having been circumvented by the snowplow shortage), and lots of reading. Fortunately, I've had plenty of reading material.

The Saint lent me Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton, whose work I have heard quoted often but never read. Nor had I ever heard what a hilarious man Chesterton was. In the introduction, for instance, he writes "...There is in everything a fair division of labor. I have written the book, and nothing on earth would induce me to read it." That made me laugh so hard that my roommate, who was upstairs, wanted to know if I was all right.

Another quote, just a few pages in, surprised me with a perspective I'd never considered. He had been talking about the logic and reasonings of minds gone mad, and said this:

"...[The insane mind] moves in a perfect but narrow circle. A small circle is quite as infinite as a large circle, but, though it is quite as infinite, it is not so large... A bullet is quite as round as the world, but it is not the world. There is such a thing as a narrow universality; there is such a thing as a small and cramped eternity."

Perhaps this spoke to me because, as someone naturally and rather desperately analytical, I can look back over my life and see times when my own mind got caught up in an ever-narrowing whirlpool of twisted logic. None stands out to me more clearly than the time I nearly lost my faith; the sense that God might not exist, or might exist only in a less truly good form than I had believed, took me nearer clinical depression than I ever hope to be again.

If I may be allowed to meander so far into philosophy, I may admit to realizing through the above experience that the narrowest of the circles of reason is that which fails to include God--closely followed by that which attempts to strip God of His mystery and confine Him to an orderly little box.

God, however, has spent my lifetime slowly and carefully broadening my circles of understanding. I'm not talking about letting go of truth or becoming "so open-minded that the brains fall out;" I'm talking about learning that God is, and that He--not to mention His gifts of faith and life and love--is more than can be comprehended by even the incredibly complex human brain.

That's enough of my soapboxing. Whenever God shows off a bit of His infinite mystery to me, all I can really do is respond--like He did when looking over all that He had made--with this: "It's good."


Hands Down Please: Weirdest Movie I've Ever Seen

Harold and Maude. Apparently it's a '70's "cult classic." Which makes some sense, especially since Cat Stevens did all the music.

Despite the fact that Cat Stevens has done some good music, if you haven't seen that movie, I don't suggest bothering. Unless, of course, you happen to like straaaaange.

Cheesy, I can often enjoy (The Russians are Coming, anyone?) Silly, I can take rather well--Dumb and Dumber was funny, as was Shanghai Noon. Bizarre, however... I've never quite gotten used to that genre.

If you liked Arsenic and Old Lace, then Harold and Maude, its somewhat poignant cousin, is the movie for you.

Call me a wimp, but I think I'll stick with Surf Ninjas.


Baby, It's Cold Outside

[...but weren't the couple in that song in the same place while it was "cold outside"? Darn.]

If a picture's worth a thousand words, then it's really too bad that I don't have a digital camera.

Having grown up in Montana, I can remember when eight inches of snow didn't make that much difference in everyday life. Here in Bellingham, however, where I live on the side of a very steep hill and have armed my car for 'the weather' with no more than a frost scraper, eight inches of snow means "snowed in." The bravest and best, attempting the roads around my place right now, would like as not find their cars propelled ditchward by forces outside the control of man.

Despite every danger and disappointment involved in such weather and its effective prevention of any going out or coming in, there's something lovely and peaceful about looking out at a snowstorm from a warm room. Right now, outside the window by my computer chair, the snow is alternately drifting and driving down in dime-sized flakes, and gusts of wind occasionally come by and sweep clouds of it rather gleefully from rooftops and tree branches.

It reminds me of a Thomas Kinkade painting... only it's the wrong time of day for that kind of lighting, and Thomas Kinkade doesn't normally punctuate his sylvan landscapes with cars, wire fences and concrete abutments... but it's beautiful nonetheless.

Well. Since I am snowed in, I think I'll fix something warm to eat, talk to my best friend, do some reading, and play the piano. Maybe see if I can find some candles and pull out my creche. I feel like Christmas :-D

EDIT: But I sure wouldn't want to be traveling right now, like half of America is doing... My parents have already paid a visit to a ditch along I-5, along with half the other people attempting that road anywhere near Bellingham. They weren't hurt, thank God, but they tell me the current traffic speed on the Five is about 10-15 miles per hour, and traction is nonexistent. No good!


All I Can Say This Thanksgiving...

...is that I am simply, and deeply, thankful.

Custom, I suppose, dictates the writing of a list of reasons for being thankful. But today, these words are good enough for me.

"Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." James 1

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you :-)


Stop the Wind, It's Going 60 in a 25 Zone

The one thing about working with computers is that... well, if the power goes down, you might as well stay home. Hence my unusual ability to blog in the middle of a Thursday.

I looked outside yesterday at the wind, blowing red and yellow leaves horizontally--at eye-level--down the street. Then, as several of my coworkers and I finished up lunch, the lights went out.

Since I knew my computer had been on, I ran into my department to shut it down so it wouldn't drain the backup power supply. The usual quiet electric hum over there had been replaced by the beeping of a clear jillion power boxes... :P It took us awhile to shut those down to a manageable auditory level.

May I just say that I love my coworkers? They amaze me. Finding ourselves out of regular work, we pulled our chairs together in groups. Several of us from my department started on Christmas decorations, and we kept lively conversations going for the hour and a half we had till our department head came in and told us it didn't look like we'd have power anytime soon, so we could go home. People that normally talk little at work joined in, making for a spontaneous group-bonding session.

My apartment having maintained power, and a few of us being originally set to leave the company at 5 PM for a concert in Vancouver, I invited said concert-goers over to my house. "It's an adventure day," one of them proclaimed in my living room. We played Apples to Apples, drank tea and ate peanut butter cups, watched the wind go by and enjoyed the unexpected holiday.

All I can say is that I needed what yesterday became. I love my company and my job--it's not that I'd want work to cease every day, but since the outage did happen, maybe it's all right to admit that the impromptu fun totally made my week. And hey, at least it was just wind... it definitely did some damage, but we also had a tsunami alert out yesterday, which, thank God, never materialized.

And I'm definitely going to have to write up that concert... one of the best I've ever attended. If any of y'all have never heard of
Over the Rhine, you should really check them out.


True, That

Naomi handed out little cards at small group some weeks back. The cards contained this passage, of which I had only ever read the second half. The first half filled out the picture for me, and today it fell out of my Bible as I was reading. I need add nothing to these words.

"If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

--C. S. Lewis, "The Weight of Glory"


Pointless Brainwaving

My mind, right now, contains a perfect jumble of thoughts, all sort of tangled up in each other, and each too scattered to expound upon with any depth.

Anyone who so chooses can blame this fact on my having slept in, and slept hard, till eleven A.M. I normally don't do that, but since I started off this past week tired and never managed to recover, extra sleep had become necessary.

Here, then, are some of the random waves floating around in my head:

1. I'm mainly choosing to post at this particular minute because that celebrity lookalike thing is messing up my sidebar, which annoys me terribly. The faster I can write it off the front page of my blog, the better.

2. One of my coworkers told me the other day, as we crossed paths in the lunchroom, that he enjoys reading my blog, so hi, Dave! Honestly, I’ve been writing since I grew old enough to tell which end of a pencil makes the black marks, so it always makes my day when someone says they like to read my thoughts.

3. This post will probably not be a great example of good writing.

4. After waking up this morning, I finished reading Sense and Sensibility for probably the third or fourth time in my life. It had never been a favorite of mine among Jane Austen's books, but this time I thoroughly enjoyed it.

5. My family laughs every time we watch the movie Sense and Sensibility (the Emma Thompson version is a family favorite.) They say I am just like Elinor. I couldn't ask for a better compliment. I love her. Jane Austen said, in writing Elinor's story, that she had created "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like" but perhaps she underestimated her own flawless ability to create a likeable character even around traits such as reserve, seriousness, and carefulness in judgment. Or maybe she underestimated the likeability of such characters :-)

6. Three or four trips cover-to-cover through a book (not counting partial re-readings) sort of hits a median point for me. The book has passed acquaintance and early friendship, reached good friendship, but in most cases has not quite made it to full emotional intimacy.

7. That measurement can be misleading, though, as I've really only Genesis-to-Revelationed the Bible three or four times despite its many years' residence in my (almost) daily life. My shortest trip through the Bible, however, took me a year and eighteen days, while Sense and Sensibility took me less than a week. I've also had free access to Sense and Sensibility for several years, while my ten months' relationship with Harry Potter has, in its romantic fervor, inspired me to at least three or four trips through books 1, 3, 5, and maybe 6, and two trips each through two and four.

8. If 'they' (meaning whoever does these things) would make a Jeopardy! game show with only two categories, The Bible and Harry Potter, I'd stand a good chance of winning. Most people, not having been raised homeschooled and Baptist, tend to get a lot of the Bible's secondary characters and events mixed up. It always amuses me when the Bible comes up as a category, because I did grow up homeschooled and Baptist, so the conversation tends to go like this:

Contestant: "I'll take Bible for $400, please."
Alex Trebek: "Answer: 'He was the father of Gershom, Kohath, and Merari.' "
Contestant: "Who was Methusaleh?"
Alex Trebek: "I'm sorry, that is incorrect."
Me: "Levi! Sweet! I actually know the right answer to a Jeopardy question! ...or is it 'the right question to a Jeopardy answer'?"

Of course, the proverbial tables are turned as soon as Alex Trebek starts talking about the Simpsons, or Ancient Egyptian History, or... pretty much anything else.

9. No, I am not putting the Bible and Harry Potter into equivalent rank, either in my life or anywhere else. They're just the only two subjects I can think of right now on which I know decent amounts of useless trivia.

10. Cool Harry Potter trivia I learned in a recent re-read through book 1: The inscription over the Mirror of Erised, "Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi" is actually an English sentence written backwards. Can't believe it took me so many re-readings to notice that :-)

11. When you wake up at eleven A.M. in November at the 48th parallel (I did have to look that up), you have approximately six hours of daylight. This makes it feel like the sun goes down just after noon.

12. Those eleven hours of sleep have apparently addled my brain, because at this point I'm even running out of random thoughts. Ah well.


Because I Found it Amusing

Having never been told I looked like a celebrity (probably because Emma Watson doesn't totally exhibit Hermione Granger's "bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth"), curiosity made me try this:

Left to right, top to bottom: Lisa Kudrow, Audrey Tautou, Norkys Batista, Jodie Sweetin, Woranuch Wongsawan, Hillary Clinton, Alexis Bledel, and Gong Li.

Generally speaking, I'm flattered; there are lots of beautiful women in that collage. But Hillary Clinton... well, it's not that she isn't beautiful. I guess as long as I don't wind up with her politics, or her taste in men, I'll accept that ;-)

Simon Cowell Goes to Seattle

I picked up a newspaper at work today and read this comment, made by acerbic American Idol judge Simon Cowell in regards to the recent AI auditions in Seattle:

"Seattle is going to be known for something other than coffee this year. They had the worst bunch of miserable singers I've ever seen in my life. It was two days of total misery. And the weather was bad, too."

Gotta know Simon would have something cheerful to say :-D I personally laughed out loud, even though I generally like and respect Simon. I know perfectly well that if they'd screen out all the terrible and deluded hopefuls that make 'good' TV... and awful noises... Seattle could hold her own. But perhaps the rain put all the screeners in a bad mood. He might have a valid point there.

American Idol, coming in January. You'll hear about it all here... provided Mom tapes the Gilmore Girls.


Because I Needed Another One

Some people collect stamps. Or china. Or memorabilia. Or those state-depicting quarters.

I, apparently, collect personal web pages. First the Blogspot (that's this one, in case anybody didn't know), then the Myspace. Now I have a Xanga, too.

The basic conundrum I faced is that if you want to comment on your friends' sites, and they don't use Blogspot, you have to have a login. When I created my Myspace login, I didn't realize it had made me a whole page (duh) till my best friend sent me a Friend invitation. And hey, if it's already creating a page, well... I figured I might as well get creative too :-D

This week, I finally decided I had too many Xangad friends to not have a login on that Cyberspace planet. So, "Library Lily" joined the Xangan ranks.

Fear not, however, fellow Blogspot-ites. This planet is still my home base and central communication port. You'll hear it all here first.

...sheesh... could I sound anymore dorky?

Just Finished Reading: Dickens' "Christmas Carol"

As a normal twentysomething American woman, I naturally love reading the British writers. I read them a lot: Dickens, Austen, Brontë (Charlotte), Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Rowling (of course), etc.

I have also seen multiple versions of A Christmas Carol, including Bill Murray's and the goofball play Scrooged. The memory of Jacob Marley dancing, chains and all, to ATC's "Around the World" still makes me laugh. As does the ditzy Ghost of Christmas Present slapping Bill Murray in the face while saying "Sometimes the truth HURTS!"

But... I'd never managed to sit down and read the actual book itself. Maybe because I generally think of it around Christmas, but not until someone else has checked it out from the library.

This year I managed to think of it early. And now I know why it's a classic.

It's just the sweetest, loveliest, most charming little story... ever. Just a simple redemption story of one man's soul. Just a word-picture of the difference life and hope can make to the coldest and bitterest of hearts. And to do Charles Dickens credit, knowing the basic progression and ending of the story didn't spoil it at all for me.

Yes, I do know that the Ghost of Christmas Present showed Scrooge many a merry sight of what Christmas ought to be, not what most people have. But if forever we sentimental fools try to scatter simple, honest happiness wherever we can, no one will be the worse because of it.


Finally: A Good Movie

After a year and a half, nearly, of mediocre stuff in the theaters--much of which didn't even catch my attention on the Blockbuster shelf--I have finally seen a good movie.

All right, Pirates II was pretty good. X-3 was okay. Neither of them quite lived up to the earlier series installments. I liked Elizabethtown; still haven't seen Cars, much to my chagrin. Failure to Launch and Queen Latifah's Last Holiday were both enjoyable chick-relaxation watches, as was The Lake House, once I managed to understand what was going on in that story.

Overall, though, Hollywood has had such a lame stretch that I've seen only maybe five movies in the theater since June of 2005. If that.

Saturday night, I bottled up my old fears of water and saw The Guardian.

Ashton Kutcher, who usually annoys me endlessly, showed a strength to his acting ability that I've never seen out of him before. Maybe I've watched the wrong movies; Newlyweds just didn't thrill me (actually, I thought it was boring, a bit disgusting and rather less than believable), and of course he played an idiot in Cheaper by the Dozen. This time he actually had a character, and he made something of it.

Kevin Costner did credit to the role of the weathered, tough-but-good, legendary-in-life Senior Chief. He played a man who had both great strengths and weaknesses; a man who had already learned to maximize his gifts and was now learning to minimize weakness and make good on mistakes, all the while dealing with loss.

The story brought out themes of honor, hope, greatness with humility, and the value of life... and besides that, it was just a good story. Well worth the watching.


Wednesday Nights

"I love this town," Naomi said to me tonight.

She might as well have read my mind just then. "Me too. The whole Bohemian, funky, offbeat soul of it."

We were standing in the wind and the dark downtown, waiting for a light to change. Our small group had spent the past fifteen minutes walking around in pairs, praying over the city. Praying aloud doesn't come naturally for me, but somehow conviction came over me in the act. Not simply conviction as in knowing what I believe, but conviction as in knowing that I fail in this town--fail to see the needs of others, fail to overcome my innate hesitations and act.

I'm not sure exactly what that means.

After prayer, we all headed into Stuart's at the Market, where I discovered they make superb hot chocolate and we hung around for a spoken-word-only open mic session.

This being Bellingham, I was prepared for pretty much anything, especially politically speaking. Although anyone supporting Bush probably would have been chased out of the market in a storm of fresh produce.

To my surprise, though, the participation didn't really come from the stereotypical angry twentysomething poet, twisting rage and obscenity into tortuous lines of chaos-themed free verse. Justin got up and read a couple of beautifully-worded pieces on the value of a human life and worship. Erland recited "The Road Less Traveled". A mother with her four-year-old son in tow read some of her own work on different themes, as did a girl of about eleven. One neatly-dressed man, obviously experienced at the whole open-mic thing, did offer a piece he'd written about refusing to pledge allegiance to "our blood-stained flag." Another girl, just a few years younger than me, spoke into a microphone for the first time in her life.

Generally speaking, I enjoyed it far more than I'd thought I would. And that piece Justin read called "She's Beyond All This" connected deeply with my heart. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening, though, and one of the most powerful moments for me, came through the words of a gentleman named Gary Wade, who recited a poem he'd written called "I am War."

I will clarify here that I am not a pacifist at all costs. I do believe that there is a time for war--despite the fact that the whole idea of shedding blood is absolutely foreign to me, heart and soul. But this poem spoke to me because it captured, better than most Christians have ever put it, the "wages of sin."

Gary Wade was kind enough to give me a booklet he carried of his poetry afterwards, and it contained the poem. I won't quote all of it (that probably transgresses copyright law), but here's a few lines:

"I am War!
I am the fruit of injustice
sown on fester-ground
where you had not the courage to weed...

I am your reward for tolerating tyrants
and disarming yourselves in front of them.

I am War!
I am your price for greed,
for hate,
for disdain,
for revenge,
and for not caring..."

He pointed at the audience as he spoke. Pointed right at me when he said "For disdain." Do I disdain? Sometimes. Perhaps more as a sin of omission, rather than commission. Perhaps I should have been angry, like a Pharisee, when he pointed at me. After all, he has no idea who I am, or what I've done. But it didn't matter. He might as well point at me; I'm human, I'm guilty as the next man, or woman.

Later, I drove past the Western campus. That school calls to me, begging me somehow to participate in it--the whole aching, rebellious, idealistic soul of it--bringing with me, of course, the Christ who died for every aching and rebellious and idealistic soul in town, starting with this one. And again, I haven't figured out entirely what it means to do anything about that. A lot of my feelings come from my own romantic reverence for the halls of learning.

Not having practiced much today, I had started singing "Panis Angelicus" in my car. As I drove by the school, the words struck me. I don't know Latin, but have researched enough to know that, roughly, part of the stanza works out to "Bread of angels, given to men... Oh, wonderful that the Lord becomes the food of the poor, the servant, and the lowly."

I'm not an evangelist. I can't go to school right now, and have no idea where to start in this town beyond what I already do. But if Jesus is the food of the poor and lowly, God grant me the wisdom and courage to serve to them. In whatever ways he asks.


Artistic Responsibility

Normally, I do not criticize the use of exaggeration in art; at least, not if it has some sort of meaning.

Advertising has become an art form, and I can understand that as well. To a point.

Mom recently emailed me a link to this short video on YouTube. As a teacher, she had taken it to school and shown it to her class. The video speaks for itself, so I won’t add to it, except to say as my mother did to her students: She does not exist.

The woman we girls compare ourselves to does not exist. The girl staring seductively out of the glossies into the mind of a man does not exist.

I knew there was tweaking going on, but I had no idea how much, despite having seen Photoshop and similar software packages at work in other situations.

Ladies, if you liked the Evolution video, check out this one too. Mom and I both cried.

I Stand Corrected

They're not jokes. They're facts.

No, not the ones about brunettes. The ones about Chuck Norris. And I have to say that the reigning king of the roundhouse seems to have both a sense of humor and a good heart, as evinced here.

So, does he pass on his skills? No girl likes walking to and from her car after the sun goes down. I could definitely use someone the dark was afraid of :-P


Almost as Good as Blonde Jokes

...with due apologies to all my blonde friends; the brunette jokes I've heard have been even less flattering to us than the classic blonde jokes are to you...

Chuck Norris jokes.

My personal favorite: "Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs."

What do you mean, you want to hear a brunette joke? If you must know, they range from standard retaliation (What's black and blue and brown and laying in a ditch? A brunette who's told too many blonde jokes) to rather creative (Why didn't Indians scalp brunettes? The hair from a buffalo's backside was more manageable... oh wait, that one might be true) to downright ugly, and as even I have to admit, funny (Why are brunettes so proud of their hair? It matches their mustache.)

Hah, well. "What do we live for," says Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, "but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?" I like laughing. Which is good, because I'm too tired to take anything seriously. I'm going to bed.


Something to Dance About

Ring the bells! Part the clouds! Strike up, ye minstrels!

At long, long last, I have home internet again. I can blog! And to put the proverbial cherry on top, I have a working soundcard on a home computer, after going without for at least a year and a half.

I thought about titling this post "It TOOK Long Enough" but there's probably enough impatience in the world.

And, were I not so thoroughly tired, I would probably try to stay up and write something. For now, though, the many blog ideas I've had since posting my last have jumbled inside my head, their clarity hazed over by my own personal internal drill sergeant, who is shouting gleefully in my ear "Get your sheets out of the dryer and go to bed, Olwin, that's an order!" I have no choice but to obey.

Ah, but I've missed this little journal. Be not alarmed. I shall return.


So, The Past Three Weeks...

I still do not have home internet. At all. The cable modem is supposedly coming soon. If it doesn't come by Wednesday, I'll call customer service at the cable company and ask about it (nicely, of course; I know what CS reps suffer at the mouths of impatient people.) The seven to ten business days they told me to wait have not gone fully by yet. But I feel like Inigo Montoya. I hate waiting :-D

Tonight, however, my parents have generously opened their home to me and my WorldWideWeb addiction. And my heart.

In the past three weeks, I have attended both a funeral and a wedding. Attended isn't the right word--I was involved. The grave holds the body of someone dear to my family and myself (I have been asked not to share details publicly) and I stood up as candlelighter eight days later at the marriage of a good friend.

I cried at the funeral and laughed at the wedding. Which might seem normal. But the terms are misleadingly dull. At the funeral, it took all the strength I had to merely stand still. I wanted to run, hide somewhere where I could burst out crying and not be a distraction or an object of pity or something that needed to be brought under control. Instead, I stood in place, able to keep from running or sobbing aloud, but not able to stop the tears from flooding down my face--highly unusual for me, as I rarely cry. And at the wedding, despite my love for my friend and her husband and my joy at their love together, I spent most of the ceremony choking back an untimely shout of laughter at the whole candlelighting experience, which is a great story. Maybe not quite as funny as the time I fainted off the back riser in the choir during the first performance of a passion play, but funny nonetheless.

What a strange, hilarious, terrible, beautiful world.

The sun shone with all its might today, turning the sky a rich blue. The fall crisp held in the air, and the flame trees have reached the height of their color--brilliant red with a few green leaves left on the lower branches. I couldn't stay inside today. I took a blanket out on my front lawn and read for hours.

Then, I went to see my boyfriend, and we broke up. It wasn't nasty, it wasn't a matter of overstressed emotions or problems with each other. It was the act of two people who cared deeply about each other, loved each other, really--loved enough to be honest and say "This isn't the right thing for us."

There's a strong tenderness in loving someone enough to freely let them go. It sustains me tonight; I know this will get harder before it gets easier. I don't look forward to that, but I know God has good plans for him. And I can't believe that for him without understanding that it must also be true for me.

And I have a rare gift: the ability to throw my laundry in a bag in my car, pack my toothbrush and drive less than an hour to my parents', where welcome unfailingly awaits. Tonight, I definitely needed my mommy and daddy and their new manic furball puppy. Seriously. That eight-week-old bundle of spastic energy disguised as a baby poodle reminds me of little children buzzed on sugar, or Mark Lowry's old song "Hyperactivity:"

"They can tame the wind, they can calm the sea
But they'll never harness my energy
I'm the poster-boy for hyperactivity
It's not my fault the world's not keeping up with me!"

So, the past three weeks... a lot of living for little Jennifer (whether or not a 28-year-old woman nearly six feet tall can be described as little.) I'll take things rather calmer in the next few, thank you very much.

But, given the option, what would I trade? Certainly not the moments of having loved what I have lost. As a Christian, I believe firmly that God wastes no experience, that it all "means something."

Nor have these weeks been all hard. Kathy got married, and I got to be there for her. I got to spend some time with Donna and Tracy, whom I love dearly and haven't seen in months. My small group has started up again, and we're reading Don Miller's Blue Like Jazz; I adore that book. I've spoken on the phone with a new friend, leaving me with the impression that I just might have a lifelong friendship building with two amazing people. And, spastic energy and all, it feels great to have a dog greet me at this door again.

I also have to admit that it felt great to have my hair done prom-queen style for the wedding. It took sixty-four bobby pins and an ungodly amount of hair product. It looked absolutely fabulous. If anyone ever needs a good stylist in the Edmonds area, Bree at Bellissimo knows her stuff.

How very odd... that sounds just like my recommendation line for photographers in Montana :-D


Coming Soon

More posts. And actual contact from Jenniferworld, if you happen to be waiting on that. I promise.

In a few days, hopefully I'll have my new home internet system up and running.

Till then, all internet access for me gets limited to my work computer and occasionally my parents'... but my work computer won't even let me on Myspace... big shocker, that.

Much as I like my job, I don't like staying past five-thirty--not even to send emails or blog or comment on blogs or otherwise feed my internet addiction. So... for now, I'm going home.

Talk to y'all soon!


Boots and Dragons

My roommate has finally gotten around to reading Harry Potter for the first time. She’s about to finish book 6.

Of course, I got jealous watching her have all the fun. So, tonight I picked up book 1 again—the one I carried everywhere with me for a week in my first experience with it, reading and re-reading, absorbing the power and humor and courage of the story, hating the very thought of taking it back to the library even to exchange it for book 2.

Reading it tonight, I got a sudden surprise. A line of Hagrid's reminded me of someone:

“Hagrid,” said Harry, panting a bit as he ran to keep up, “did you say there are dragons at Gringotts?”

“Well, so they say,” said Hagrid. “Crikey, I’d like a dragon.”

It made me laugh. Like children everywhere, I looked up very much to Steve Irwin—it wasn’t possible not to; he lived like he enjoyed life. And he ‘went out with his boots on’, doing what he loved; it seems that he’d have wanted that. It just happened way too soon.

It was good to smile at the memory of him tonight. And I have a feeling that had they lived in the same world, the tempestuous but gentle half-giant and the bright, wonder-filled family man from Australia would have found a lot to talk about in their love for their different monsters.

There it is again... that odd mix of happiness and sadness. That juxtaposition has apparently been decreed for me this week.

P.S. All right, Chris. No fair
posting about Harry Potter when Blogger still won’t let me comment on your blog! Especially not fair putting up such a good post. I should have more to say later.

On Another Note… a great long belty one

I hear Clay Aiken has a new CD out. Which means that I now have to go get it. Which should be followed shortly by a review.

This album consists mostly of classic covers, if I have my facts straight; hopefully that means they gave him better songs than last time. Not one song on his first album was truly up to his incredible voice. Although I liked a couple of them anyway.

Nobody, I might add, has ever made a better Christmas album than Clay did. At least, in my opinion.

This ought to be good!

One Week

We’ve all heard that “The trouble with life is that there’s no background music.” But I can say from experience that having no background music is less weird than having your cell phone play the Can Can at an inopportune moment.

We’ve also all heard that there are seasons of joy and seasons of pain. But I have learned that sweetness and sorrow can be intimately and seamlessly blended into the same sensation; that fallen earth and perfect heaven occasionally meet, like lovers for a brief and tenderly passionate kiss; leaving a memory with an innate, gentle pain—a soreness carrying with it the reminder that we belong to something longer and wider, deeper and higher.

“…when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away… For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”


September and Yellow Leaves

So… if they say in May that “Spring has sprung”, what do they say in September? “Fall has fallen?” “Autumn has got ‘em?”

Whatever ‘they’ say, the season of apples and pumpkins and yellow leaves is slowly but surely taking over here. I look out my window and even the flame trees—I call them that because last year they turned a fiery red and orange—are starting to change color. It won’t be long before the leaves can be raked up into piles for kids to jump into. Man, I miss doing that. My sisters and I used to rake the neighbors’ yard too, and then we’d have enough leaves to jump out of the maple tree into or bury each other standing up.

It’s incredibly hard to get the resulting knots out of one’s long hair afterwards, by the way.

Right now, I guess “late summer” or “Indian summer” fits better than “fall” as a descriptive term. All day we’ve had a breeze blowing, warm but hurried. It has sent every imaginable kind of cloud—other than funnel—through the valley: high, wispy cirrus; puffy and decorative cumulus; dark gray rainclouds, and fog.

I love late summer—that last holdout before fall sets in, when warm temperature still holds but change is in the very air. I love fall too; a last chance to fill up on color before the winter sets in and turns everything gray.

I hate the gray. Some gray is okay. Gray everything is not.

This year, I’m going in armed. I’m prepared to look for color, to gather it about me, to enjoy it wherever I see it. Maybe that’s why I fill my room with houseplants: the peace lily that Terry chopped half the leaves off last year, the dragon tree I found in Walmart and couldn’t resist, the poinsettia I’ve had for at least three Christmases already. My plants would make a good blog-post by themselves.

Ah well. For now, I’m off for a lovely drive through the changing colors. Life is beautiful right now—a gift I don’t dare not to enjoy.



In several years of working, I don’t think I ever took a full week off of work. Maybe once. Other the time I took a week off regular work to help guide a whitewater rafting trip down the Salmon River in Idaho... that was fun, but it doesn't count.

No, I’m not bragging about my commitment to work. I was stupid. Should have done this years ago. Should have done it every year. Especially in 2004, the year I burned myself out being “committed to work.”

Ah well. At least I finally up-and-did-it. And it feels good. Since I didn’t go anywhere, it kind of feels like a week of Saturdays. I’ve done some much-needed shopping. I got through the Department of Licensing in record time—about two minutes. Yesterday I took a walk. Today I took a nap. I’ve watched Star Wars episodes 4 and 5 with my boyfriend. I’ve done some reading, though I ran out of new books to read on Saturday and didn’t get more till Brandon rescued me with Watership Down and Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire last night.

All in all, a good vacation. But next time I take a week off of work to stay home, I am stacking up on reading material before said vacation ever starts. Because wandering around libraries on a Tuesday afternoon, unsure of what to look for and getting threatened with parking tickets after exactly sixty minutes, is a frustrating experience.

And, in the future, I will definitely avoid getting in trouble for talking on my cell phone in the library :-P


Anybody Want to Save Me a CS Call?...

I am online! Hallelujah!

Pity you all can't see the dancing. Well, maybe not.

Anyways, I have been absolutely and thoroughly annoyed today by my inability to access the internet. I'm on vacation, for crying out loud. Half the fun is being able to kill time online :-P

So here's my question: What happens is, I open my Internet Explorer browser and it says "Finding site..." for a minute, then gives me a "Cannot find server" message. I use wireless. Sometimes I have this problem, sometimes I don't. The network always says it's connected when the problem occurs. Sometimes switching to another wireless network helps, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes rebooting the computer helps, sometimes it doesn't. Closing and reopening the browser has never helped yet. I'm not using a proxy server; hopefully I'm not supposed to be.

This really puts a cramp in my blogging style.

Perhaps any of you who have worked in computer-related customer support (believe it or not, I have--just not with internet service) will want these facts as well: The computer is plugged in, I am not using the CD-ROM drive as a cup-holder, and there's no power outage.

I'm totally, helplessly mystified. If anybody has any suggestions, you'll be showing me an act of great mercy!

But on the positive side, I'm on vacation. For the rest of this week. More posts should be coming soon... provided I can get online :-D


Has It Really Been...

August 27, 2005, I woke up for the first time in my new Bellingham home.

August 29, 2005, I got up at 4:00 AM and began my new job at 5:45.

Both days, I stopped and spent time admiring the view from somewhere. Everywhere I turned, the hills and trees and lights and water and mountains seemed to offer comfort and beauty and rest and hope.

I didn't know then what it would mean, or how exactly my life would change. I only knew that it had changed, and that it had needed to.

One year doesn't feel like much time anymore. Christmas. Birthdays. Evenings and mornings, winter and summer. Red leaves in the fall and flowers in the spring.

There are still connections to be made between the old and the new, and much to re-learn. And I will love my childhood years and my time at YD and my other great memories forever. That said, I'm grateful for this year.

For a white flower, picked from a bush outside of Haggen's. For a four-hour stint just sitting in my room, staring out my window, marveling. For laughing and crying with girls gathered in my living room of a Wednesday night. For Instant Messenger. For getting reacquainted with my Californian sister. For the hope of Bailey. For the fireside room at Hillcrest Chapel. For Spanish diccionarios, Greek typing, and hilarious people on telephones. For starting the blog I've wanted since first reading Chris Knight's a couple of years ago. For hours on the phone with a "best friend" who after eighteen years hasn't tired of me yet. For a young writer whose eyes look blue in some lights and green in others, who tells me beautiful things I've never heard before.

What will the next year hold? I'm content right now without the answer to that question. Three hundred sixty-five evenings and mornings overwhelm little Jennifer when she thinks about them in advance. One day at a time is good enough.



A week-and-a-half’s absence from blogland doesn’t necessarily result from a lack of things to say. Sometimes it has more to do with having too much, and lacking words or time to express it all.

Writing up an entire blog and then having one's internet crash can be thoroughly annoying.

Right now, the sun shines uninhibited by clouds of any sort, and I can see green leaves against blue sky—one of my favorite things in life.

It’s hard not to believe in God when standing in a forest next to a little sun-spangled, laughing, bubbling brook. That serenity and peace cannot be improved upon, except by entwining one’s fingers with those of someone who cares.

In case anyone doubted my bookworming propensities, I’ll confess to having read the entire text of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in one morning. This morning. Tennessee Williams can write, no doubt about that. The heartripping tragedy of the story contrasted oddly with the idyllic, late-summer color and light around me, though.

As impressive as anyone may find bronc riding and barrel racing, no part of a rodeo could top the mutton bustin’. After one small boy stood up gamely after getting rather dragged and tumbled by his sheep, the announcer said “He came out of the gate with two fistfuls of wool, folks, and he’s still got ‘em.” The boy raised his fists.

Even the best of songs grow annoying when the human brain puts them on instant replay. That said, “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge has run through my head for most of this week without wearing out its welcome in my life.

Few women have the moxie to stand up to the wiles of car salesmen. My sister Beth happens to be one of them.

When Anne Shirley talks about ‘kindred spirits’, I know what and who she means. Kindred spirits have, among their other greatnesses, the ability to go on as friends like they never left off, no matter the time elapsed since last contact. I have several of those in my life. I love them all. Shouldn’t put so much time between conversations with some of them.

It might not be “normal” to burst out laughing from total silence when no one else is around, but it sure makes life more fun.

Not many people talk about contentment in the context of young love. But they should. Or maybe they shouldn’t. Let it remain one of the good and perfect surprises.

And yes, I know that good English grammar frowns on the opening of a sentence with a conjunction. As passionately as I uphold the proper use of commas and semicolons and other important linguistic matters, however, that is a stupid rule.

The prophet Daniel had the right idea. It’s easier to pray by a window. Especially an open window. With a good view.


Moulin and Music

Naomi and I had this planned for weeks.

Last night, accompanied by Beth, we finally watched the Nicole Kidman/Ewan McGregor version of the old classic, Moulin Rouge. Neither one of us had ever seen either version; hence the movie night. Beth had seen it, so she explained it to us; it gets a little tough to follow in places.

Do I recommend the movie? Yes—to women who need a glass of wine, some chocolate, and a beautifully told, over-the-top, romantic story to cry over. It has a sad-though-satisfying ending and definitely has its risqué moments… being about a guy who falls in love with a prostitute… but it’s sweet. And the music!

Despite the fact that I like most of Elton John’s music, I’ve always hated the one called “Your Song.” I hated it thoroughly until the moment early in the movie where Ewan McGregor—his character trying to escape a rather embarrassing situation—starts off with the line “My gift is my song, and this one’s for you.” A stunned hush falls instantly over the scene (and over everyone watching.) It’s enough to give anybody goosebumps.

The same could be said for his two lines of “Up Where We Belong” and the final duet with Nicole Kidman on “Come What May.” Ewan McGregor—besides having fabulous tone to his voice—has got something very few modern singers possess: an understanding of how to use dynamics to their full potential.

And I’m totally jealous. Which means I’ve been practicing. On whatever songs come to mind.

So… if anyone in Bellingham has “You Light Up My Life” running through your head, sorry: you probably just passed me on the road somewhere.


The Gospel in Tie-Dye

Down in Old Fairhaven, where beats the heart of Bellingham culture, there’s a little fenced park known as the Fairhaven Green. Raised above the surrounding street and edged by glass-roofed patios, the Green boasts a perfectly-kept square of grass with a concrete stage-platform at one end. The stage abuts an old building with a giant white screen, set up for the local bands and popular movies they show down there every Saturday night in summer.

Last Thursday night, the Western Washington University theater guild took over the stage for their next-to-last production of Godspell. We saw it—Brandon and I—sitting on one of my old blankets on the grass, just one row back from the front. I had never seen the play. Now, I can tell you all that it’s one of those that sticks in your mind and just gets better as you think on it.

The little troupe of ten actors, four musicians, and a few techs, knew their craft. Godspell combines so many different theatrical styles that it can’t be easy to perform, but the gifted, wildly-costumed cast made it enthusiastic, vibrant—truly alive.

To add to that, I loved the music—everything from the comical, tap-danced “All For the Best”, to the Episcopal hymn lyric “We Beseech Thee”, to the hauntingly lovely “By My Side.”

For anyone who hasn’t seen it (and you should), Godspell basically tells the Gospel story in an offbeat, urban, 70’s musical setting. Apparently props, stage and costumes can be customized from one production to the next; this guild performed against a tie-dye-painted wall, wearing an assortment of outlandishly random clothes, and throwing empty soda cans and water bottles at each other during the “Tower of Babble” act.

Nine of the actors (everyone but Jesus) took on multiple roles—for instance, the same guy played John the Baptist and Judas—and the first half of the show moved through a rapid, uptempo progression of parables, teachings, and events. It was often downright hilarious, with ten comedians running up and down the aisle and all over the stage, interacting playfully with each other and the audience. The second half sobered down gradually, culminating naturally in the death and resurrection of Christ (hope I didn’t just spoil the story for anyone :-P )

As to the power of telling a well-known story in a new and creative way—let’s just say that for me, watching, it stripped out all of the excess baggage attached to Christianity by the difficulties of life, by the church's legalism, by the world’s mocking cynicism, and left me with Christ.

My favorite part: when Jesus looked into the eyes of the woman caught in adultery, put his hands on her shoulders, and said “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and do not sin again.” He started to walk away, but turned back to her with a smile and took her hand as she sang him these words:

“Where are you going?
Where are you going?
Can you take me with you?
For my hand is cold
And needs warmth
Where are you going?

Far beyond where the horizon lies
Where the horizon lies
And the land sinks into mellow blueness
Oh please, take me with you…”

“…Then I'll take your hand
Finally glad
Finally glad
That you are here
By my side”


I Am 50% Weird

From the sublime to the… well, hilarious, anyway. I worried about this post being too great a contrast with my last. Humor is good, though, and laughter heals. It has certainly helped me this weekend.

Briana, my best friend and a veteran Myspacer, recently posted the results of an internet quiz on her site. It told her that her “inner European” was Italian. Which makes sense, if you know Briana; she studied photography in Italy and, in the process, fell so much in love with that country that she’s now learning the language as well.

Of course, I had to try the quiz. This automatically meant that I killed an absolutely unreasonable amount of time yesterday taking internet quizzes. When it comes to getting acquainted with oneself, no question is too small, I guess.

The quizzes range everywhere from a “quick and dirty IQ test”—which told me I was below average logically, even after I’d played with the answers until the score went as high as it would go and it called me a genius in every other area of knowledge—to generators that will give you invariably stupid foreign names. I had a blast playing with them; laughed hard and freely at the tests and their results. Among other things, I have learned from them that my inner Californian would live in Orange County, that my “2005 summer anthem” was Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone”, that I’m so sexy I sometimes scare men away, and that I should date a Swede.

Here are some of my favorite results. You can take these tests yourself (after you finish reading this post, of course!) Be careful, though: they’re highly addictive.

My “inner European” didn’t surprise me at all; well, except by actually being reasonable:

Your Inner European is French!

Smart and sophisticated.
You have the best of everything - at least, *you* think so.

This particular quiz seemed like the answer to my prayers (you have to read my post “Odd Stuff” to understand that):

You Should Learn French

C'est super! You appreciate the finer things in life... wine, art, cheese, love affairs.
You are definitely a Parisian at heart. You just need your tongue to catch up...

This one intrigued me. What kind of soul are you? it asked. While taking the test, I wondered in amusement how many kinds there were, and who defined them. This is really a pretty accurate description of my personality, though; the quizmakers must have ripped off part of the Myers-Briggs or something. I wonder about the compatibility feature, however, since the "What Kind of Soda Are You? quiz told me to stay away from my best friend's personality:

You Are a Peacemaker Soul

You strive to please others and compromise anyway you can.
War or conflict bothers you, and you would do anything to keep the peace.
You are a good mediator and a true negotiator.
Sometimes you do too much, trying so hard to make people happy.

While you keep the peace, you tend to be secretly judgmental.
You lose respect for people who don't like to both give and take.
On the flip side, you've got a great sense of humor and wit.
You're always diplomatic and able to give good advice.

Souls you are most compatible with: Warrior Soul, Hunter Soul and Visionary Soul

I’ve lain awake nights wondering about this one. You have, too. Admit it:

Your Personality Is Like Ecstasy

You're usually feeling the love for the world around you - you want to hug everyone.
And while you're usually content to sit back and view the world with wonder...
Sometimes your world becomes very overwhelming and a little scary.

As a new but loyal X-Men fan, who has happily progressed all the way to reading (Brandon’s) comics, I simply had to take this:

You Are Cyclops

Dedicated and responsible, you will always remain loyal to your cause.
You are a commanding leader - after all, you can kill someone just by looking at them.

Power: force beams from your eyes

I didn’t know how to feel about this response:

You Are 50% Weird

Normal enough to know that you're weird...
But too damn weird to do anything about it!

This one came as a bit of a relief. Since I scored so high on weirdness, though, apparently my quirks have just manifested themselves in Yankee ways :P

You Are 10% Redneck

I'll slap you so hard, your clothes will be outta style.
You ain't no redneck - you're all Yankee!

I would never have posted one that asked simply for the kind of car I drive, except for the hilarity of the response. Ask my family; they’ll all tell you I’ve openly liked the idea on this bumper sticker. “I’m Matt Foley… and I’m a motivational speaker…”

Your Bumper Sticker Should Be

Livin' in a van - down by the river

And now, for the grand finale, is one all you men will definitely want to take. The internet appears to have been tipped off about my listening to Metamorphosis at work (no joke—I actually do that):

Your Inner Pop Princess Is Hilary Duff

"I'm shedding
Shedding every color
Trying to find a pigment of truth
Beneath my skin"

You're sweet and cute, but a little more complex than that.

Now it's your turn! You know you have all been wondering what kind of mythological creature you are (I'm a mermaid) or what kind of pizza you would be ('Everything' pizza, in my case) or what animal you were in a past life (apparently, I was a beaver; I have no memory of this.) Ahh, I love the internet. You can find answers to everything you ever wanted to know and more... much more.


Now I Understand…

…something of what people mean, when they lose someone they love and say “They still live… their love, their memory, lives inside me.”

I’ve never lost someone really close to me, so you’ll hopefully forgive me for talking this way about a dog. To make it to age 28 without losing a parent or sibling or close friend, either to age or tragedy, ranks in the category of miracles, but I have. And the mere thought of losing the few people very close to me—I’ve always kept the bulk of my social life to family and a few close friends—makes up my saddest moments. I will not compare losing an animal, even Peaches, to the loss of a human life’s presence on this earth.

Someone might say, as if in agreement, “It’s just a dog.” But I know better than that.

When I was sick, she curled up beside me on the couch. When I came home after YD trips, she crawled up in my arms and sat there so I wouldn’t go away again. When the man I loved left Washington to marry another woman and an unrelated experience left me with panic attacks and I didn’t know if I could ever trust God fully again, she was among the loyal ones whose love got me through—the one who followed me around like a little shadow and slept in the crook of my elbow.

And I can’t seem to make myself believe that she won’t come running and barking next time I visit my parents, wanting to be picked up, frenzied with welcome.

Or howl with my sister, or ride around on her shoulder. Or that Sweet Pea, Mom’s dog, won’t butt in for her share of the attention, or sit on the couch and bark at mocking cats. When Peaches got sick, Mom took the aged, frail and practically toothless Sweet Pea in too, knowing that Sweet Pea would have had a short and sad life without Peaches there. The dogs hadn’t been separated for more than a few hours in eleven years, and Sweet Pea couldn’t even handle hours well. My poor mother. Those dogs were a part of almost everything she does.

As humans, we live with loss, but we don’t forget being loved. Not completely. Not if we’re in our right minds.

Now, I’ve cried until 1:15 AM, when I know I have to go to work in the morning. And I’ll have to post this halfway through the day, so my sister doesn’t read it and wind up crying when she’s trying to answer telephones. Peaches was her dog first.

We had eleven years. And no, to the insatiable human heart, it was not enough. But it was good. And I’m still inclined to hope that dogs really do go to heaven. I can’t help myself. Love never dies.



Apparently, after getting comment-spammed the other day and turning on Word Verification for comments, I somehow managed to restrict all commenting to "Team Members Only"... which meant that nobody could comment except for... well... me! Since I'm not inclined to do all my own commenting, and I like to hear the opinions of my friends and anyone who might drop by, I have fixed that little problem.

Thanks, Brandon and Chris, for pointing that out to me this morning... never would have figured it out myself!

Happy commenting :-)


Saw Star Wars, I Did

At first, I just thought the moon was extraordinarily bright. Then the truth hit me: dawn had arrived. That might be the first time I’ve ever stayed awake till the sun began to rise.

Last night also became my first-ever movie marathon, as well as my first full viewing of any of Star Wars episodes 1, 2, and 3. I generally blame of my lack of cultural knowledge on having been homeschooled on a farm in Montana, but for having missed out on these three experiences, the guilt rides fairly on my own shoulders for a) not having attended enough youth group functions in high school, b) never having gone to college (that’s a blog-post for another day), and c) never bothering to sit down and watch the new Star Wars movies.

I have to give credit for the whole idea to Brandon, Professor of Cultural Education (he’s already taught me nearly everything I know about anime and the Muppets.) He suggested the marathon in Blockbuster, after gasping playfully and looking rather shocked because I said I’d never seen the new trilogy.

Ten hours later, we sat on my floor amid a sea of DVD cases, empty iced-mocha glasses, a pizza box, half-full soda bottles, remote controls, and random pillows and blankets. We’d stayed awake—he checked frequently and faithfully to make sure I didn’t go to sleep and miss any of the story. My good-natured roommate, much amused by our movie marathon, had gone to bed. We finally looked around at the mess, rubbed movie-glaze out of our eyes and laughed, and I can now say that I’ve seen all of the Star Wars episodes. And the clone-war cartoons that go between II and III.

If anyone had told me three years ago that I’d ever actually like a movie like Revenge of the Sith, I’d have questioned their prophetic or perceptive abilities. Since I’ve spent the past three years outgrowing a lot of my old notions, however, and have fallen in love with deep and somewhat dark dramas like Harry Potter and Phantom of the Opera, it’s become less of a stretch. Now, having seen the new Star Wars, I have to say that I liked it… a lot.

When we have, in the world, parables like Star Wars… and Harry Potter… and Phantom of the Opera… it amazes me that we as humans could ever fall into the very traps those stories warn against: idolatry of power and of another person being two of the most dangerous. That, I think, more than anything else struck me in watching Star Wars. I watched the Sith poison Anakin’s mind, playing off his beautiful love for Padme, tempting him with the thought of controlling his own destiny and hers.

Yoda’s advice didn’t ring true with me the first time I heard it. He told Anakin to make the effort to let go of the ones he loved—well, being Yoda, he probably said it more like “Learn to let go, you must”—and my mind reacted immediately with “What is this, some sort of ‘He who loves none has no woes’ Eastern proposition?” Not until I contrasted his words with those of Sidious did I catch the wisdom that would have saved Anakin, had he only followed it: Even the deepest of loves must be held with an open hand. The moment anyone attempts to own it, control it, or put it absolutely before all other good, is the moment the door gets flung wide and evil finds its way in.

I loved the way the movie ended, with the babies Luke and Leia being placed in their adoptive families; Luke with Anakin’s stepbrother, on the very planet where Anakin first met Qui-Gon and Padme. Especially knowing what Luke went on to do... I cannot describe that ending any better than with the word redemptive.


Pirates of the Caribbean II

Having waited patiently for the crowds to thin out, I saw Dead Man's Chest in a mostly-full theater on Thursday night. Here's fair warning: If you're a jumpy person, don't be the one to hold the popcorn. Otherwise, you're likely to wind up with popcorn all over yourself. All over the floor, too. And maybe the pirate sitting next to you. All I can say is, it's a good thing I wasn't also holding the soda.

Anyways, after seeing Pirates II, I realized that I now need to go back and see the first one again. My main memories of The Curse of the Black Pearl are Johnny Depp's entrance, the line "This is just like what the Greeks did at Troy, except they were in a horse, and we're in dresses," and disconnected scenes that might or might not contain important parts of the storyline. So I'm not going to write a full review of Dead Man's Chest. For a complete and well-thought-out review, check out Chris Knight's take on it here.

As for my thoughts--well, I just remember seeing my first Johnny Depp movie, Benny and Joon. For the next several years, I didn't realize who had played the quirky and unforgettable outcast, Sam (who brought life to an otherwise rather stupid movie, if my memory holds true); my good friend Edd told me in the summer of 2004, after giving me a brief but hilariously lifelike imitation of Sam's breadsticks-dance with a couple of potatoes.

Now, having seen Johnny Depp as Captain Jack and in other roles, I've got to take my proverbial hat off to him for perfecting a practically unsurpassed gift as an actor. I might question his ability to portray anything non-offbeat, were it not that I saw Chocolat and Finding Neverland (fabulous movies, both of them, in my opinion). I love seeing creativity taken to its best, whether in acting, writing, art, music, science, sport, or any other field. Johnny Depp takes the idea of a character and gives it a soul.

At some point, I'm going to have to watch Dead Man's Chest again, if for no other reason than that I never caught sight of my former coworker, Rusty Rice, who reportedly got called in as an extra a couple of times during the filming of this movie and the next. He worked on one of the tallships that was used in the movies, and at one point even sent my then-boss a picture of himself wearing Johnny Depp's hat.

The final view we get of Captain Jack Sparrow kicks off the marketing for the next movie. Anyone who sees that scene and doesn't care whether or not they catch the trilogy finale--well, they're missing that integral human gotta-know-the-ending-of-the-story component. The writers apparently took lessons from Scheherazade herself.



In the final book of the "Anne of Green Gables" series, Rilla of Ingleside, Rilla's older brother Jem comes home from World War 1. With him comes his dog, who waited for him at the train station for four years.

I know it's fiction... don't know if that ever actually happened or not... but it's a good story.

Little "Dog Monday" has to follow Jem everywhere, of course, once he has his soldier back safe and sound. Monday even insisted upon going to church, where he jumped up in the middle of the sermon and barked joyfully. Afterwards, the Reverend John Meredith--who has some great lines in those books--patted Jem's dog on the head and said something I've loved:

"Faith and affection and loyalty are precious things wherever they are found. That little dog's love is a treasure, Jem."

I've always been a big-dog person myself; Dad's had a couple of Newfoundlands in the past. Oddly enough, though, the best animal friend I've ever had--and I've had horses, rabbits, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, and a bird in my lifetime--is my sister's happy-go-lucky toy poodle, Peaches. She plays and makes racket with Beth, and then when she gets tired she comes and sleeps in the crook of my arm. She's forever a puppy despite her eleven years, and I could swear she has a soul--love looks out of her eyes.


Odd Stuff

Fair warning: This post comes mostly from the abstract and somewhat nerdy part of my mind. I mainly chose to write about this because my other blog-option had more to do with how the ENTIRE WORLD, from the Buddhist monks in China to Saddam Hussein to your own next-door neighbor, is out to keep me from getting to work on time. Of course, when I'm on the freeway going seventy-five with time to spare and clear road ahead, there'll be a thick-jowled monster disguised as an SUV breathing down my bumper because some minivan too prudish to go ten over and too impatient to slow down is stuck in my blind spot, going seventy-six.

Ah well. Some days come to us for fun, others to build character. Some days come to ram character down our throats with a turkey fork.

There, I think I've cleared off my sarcasm. I can write now.

The things that come in handy in life typically take me by surprise; which, I suppose, is why the inside of my bedroom closet looks the way it does. But I'm not writing about my bedroom closet either... that's a dark secret if ever there was one.

One of my quirks is a total fascination with language; English, of course, but foreign language as well. Someday I hope to be fluent in another tongue, and the main hindrance to that is my inability to pick just one. I have become quite the jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none with foreign language. For anyone bored enough to want the details:

Don't hate me, but I fell in love with French at the tender age of six, and have never totally recovered. I can actually come up with sentences in this language, when I can remember the necessary words. The grammar doesn't come with any guarantees, though.

Everybody takes Spanish, so out of a desire to be unique I chose not to; at least, until our church offered a 12-week course, and I took it, like climbing a mountain, "because it was there." One can't really study language without also understanding the culture behind the words, and the fiery soul of the Latino people called out to mine. If I'm reading, I can figure out a lot given a certain amount of context, but only scattered words get through when it comes to me in auditory form.

Olympic figure-skating might not seem like a good reason to study a language, but I picked up a Russian book or two simply because Sergei Grinkov and Yekaterina Gordeyeva shot nearer artistic perfection in their chosen medium than most of us ever dream of in ours. Dad also likes it, so he brings me home words his Russian coworkers teach him.

Mandarin Chinese just sounded interesting, and Arabic seemed like a good idea--although I learned exactly two words of Arabic and never figured out how to decifer the tight script. Don't ask me to translate Chinese, either. When Chris Rock, at the end of Rush Hour, said "Shye-shye ni; ni hau-de," I knew what he said, but that short phrase uses almost every word I remember.

Large amounts of singing in Italian and German gave me recognition for the words and flow of those languages, though I can't generally translate (or put enough force into my German consonants), and I've sung in Latin. I once wrote an alphabet song for Hebrew, though I forget which character belongs to which letter, and I can read the ancient Greek alphabet.

Oddly enough, this random scrap-bag of knowledge gets used in my life, and not just to read the French signs across the Canadian border. For instance, I once had a boss who went to the Ukraine, brought back receipts, and wanted me to keep track of the finances. I could read the Cyrillic script on those receipts, as Ukrainian is a close cousin to Russian, and generally figure out what went where.

Nowadays, writing markup for large amounts of text which may have any sort of linguistic fragments contained therein, it actually helps to know that "C'est mon blog, et je l'aime; vous savez que vous desirez le lire" is French, "Enrique Iglesias" is Spanish for Henry Churches, "Alcune persone si comportano come i piccoli bambini malvagi quando guidano un'automobile" is Italian (although I don't know if it's syntactically correct, as I used free online translation to get that), and "Foo! Kakaya nyevkoosnaya yeda!" is (transliterated) Russian (but if you're a guest at some Russians' house for dinner, please don't say that; say "Kakaya khoroshaya yeda, bolshoya spasiba!" Otherwise, you'll just get me--and yourself--in trouble with the cook.)

Now, you can all amuse yourselves by either figuring out what the above phrases mean or leaving me comments to correct my grammar. Or you can just go to the comments, where I'll post the translations before going to bed.

Bonne nuit.

EDIT, 7/18/06 5:22PM: Again, I stand corrected. Chris Tucker, not Chris Rock, played opposite Jackie Chan in Rush Hour. I always get those two mixed up. They look too much alike.