Monday, December 22, 2008

Cardboard Shapes and Fake Hair… Ready or Not, Here They Come

When you’re in something, it’s tougher to actually be aware of what’s going on. You can’t see the forest for the trees and all that (it actually can be a blessing in disguise if you think about it)… Maybe that’s why when someone said to me, “your family has been so affected by cancer,” the other day, it took me a little by surprise. (Thanks, by the way, for the announcement.) It’s not like I don’t realize the bouts my family has had with cancer are serious or real, but maybe it’s because it’s always kind of been ongoing with my grandparents (especially my grandma) that I’m just used to it. Also, because I’m away at school for the majority of the time probably makes it easier for me to put it out of my head, where I’m not constantly faced with it. My grandma is losing her hair and is getting weaker from the chemotherapy. I see it now that I’ve been home for Christmas break, and it’s only been a little over a week so far. I hear about it on the phone, but it’s still not the same. When I hang up, I don’t have to turn around and deal with it immediately.

Yesterday I helped my grandma comb her wig and fit it on her head with a hat she had to resolve herself to wearing by telling herself lots of other women have to do the same thing. She didn’t like the hat. She hates the wig. She would never say it like that, but I can tell. She wants her own hair… but she wants her life more. I’m really glad she always wants to live. (I actually think the hat looked great on her, and I told her that.) Chemotherapy is not easy, and it’s not the first time my grandma has gone through it. She has had so much cancer in her body, she is literally a walking miracle. She has some awesome stories about how God has saved her from her illnesses. I love listening to her and observing her trust in Jesus.

A few years ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long) I was helping my grandpa match shapes with a “matching shapes puzzle” because he had been so affected by the radiation for his brain tumor, he was even having trouble identifying shapes. When I hear anything similar to the phrase “matching shapes puzzle” (and it’s more often than you think considering JB and all my friends who have kids) I think of grandpa struggling to fit a square cardboard cutout into a wooden board. I’m willing to bet that’s probably not your average word association.

Cancer is rough and is causing changes I don’t know if I’m ready for. Our family has already gone through a lot of unexpected change recently, but really, I know there is much more to come.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

"The dream is ended: this is the morning."

Yesterday I was thinking about some of my favorite passages of literature. Today I was talking about heaven with a friend as we ran on the beach, taking in the gorgeous view. I think that's why I'm posting this blog. It's not often that I think about heaven, which is a shame, because heaven is going to be great. My mom said to me once, "I think heaven is going to be like waking up from a sad dream." I've always loved the depiction of what heaven will be like in The Last Battle, the last in The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.

So all of them passed in through the golden gates, into the delicious smell that blew towards them out of that garden and into the cool mixture of sunlight and shadow under the trees, walking on springy turf that was all dotted with white flowers. The very first thing which struck everyone was that the place was far larger than it had seemed from outside. But no one had time to think about that for people were coming up to meet the newcomers from every direction.
Everyone you had ever heard of (if you knew the history of these countries) seemed to be there. [...] And there was greeting and kissing and handshaking and old jokes revived, (you've no idea how good an old joke sounds when you take it out again after a rest of five or six hundred years) and the whole company moved forward to the centre of the orchard where the Phoenix sat in a tree and looked down upon them all, and at the foot of that tree were two thrones and in those two thrones a King and Queen so great and beautiful that everyone bowed down before them. [...]
About half an hour later - or it might have been half a hundred years later, for time there is not like time here - Lucy stood with her dear friend, her oldest Narnian friend, the Faun Tumnus, looking down over the wall of that garden, and seeing all Narnia spread out below. [...]
"I see," she said at last, thoughtfully. "I see now. This garden is like the Stable. It is far bigger inside than it was outside."
"Of course, Daughter of Eve," said the Faun. "The further up and the further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside."
Lucy looked hard at the garden and saw that it was not really a garden at all, but a whole world, with its own rivers and woods and sea and mountains. But they were not strange: she knew them all.
"I see," she said. "This is still Narnia, and more real and more beautiful than the Narnia down below, just as it was more real and more beautiful than the Narnia outside the Stable door! I see... world within world, Narnia within Narnia..."
"Yes," said Mr. Tumnus, "like an onion: except that as you go in and in, each circle is larger than the last." [...]
Suddenly they shifted their eyes to another spot, and then Peter and Edmund and Lucy gasped with amazement and shouted out and began waving: for there they saw their own father and mother, waving back at them from across the great, deep valley. It was like when you see people waving at you from the deck of a big ship when you are waiting on the quay to meet them.[...]
And soon they found themselves all walking together - and a great, bright procession it was - up towards mountains higher than you could see in this world even if they were there to be seen. But there was no snow on those mountains: there were forests an green slopes and sweet orchards and flashing waterfalls, one above the other, going up for ever. [...]
Then Aslan turned to them and said: "You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be."
Lucy said, "We're so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often."
"No fear of that," said Aslan. "Have you not guessed?"
Their hearts leapt, and a wild hope rose within them.
"There was a real railway accident," said Aslan softly. "Your father and mother and all of you are - as you used to call it in the Shadowlands - dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

For the Beauty of the Earth...

...For the glory of the skies
for the love which from our birth, over and around us lies
Lord of all to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.

It's late. But I just want to say, Thanksgiving is great. I love my family. We love each other. Even when things in my life aren't together and perfect, I seem to forget all that and just have fun. I wish there would have been snow, but there were pine trees, lots of pine trees. We cut one down to decorate for Christmas. We ate pumpkin pie and played games and drank coffee and went for walks in the crisp fall air. We sang around the piano. This may sound cheesy, but things like this are totally awesome at Thanksgiving. Cuddly cousins who give you hugs all the time, long conversations with lovely aunts, laughing at goofy uncles (everyone has one), the list goes on. Seeing the stars at night above the hint of a white mountain in the distance, then turning to see the house decorated with Christmas lights dad made sure to get up before you got home. Seeing your breath in the air, then going inside to get warm. I think I romanticize things a bit after the fact, but the fact is, that's how it is.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Despair Doesn't Work

I don't want to go into detail, wear my heart on my sleeve, or wear my life on my facebook page (or in this case, blog). <-- That was for you, Carla.

I have learned the importance of keeping a quiet heart... although rarely do I actually realize how effective that is.

Two verses come to mind:
"...and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need."
- 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

"In quietness and trust shall be your strength." -Isaiah 30:15b

More often than not I would rather just splat everything out, display all my emotions and think it's the end of the world. I would rather despair.

So, simply put, today was rough. But I refuse to despair.

This morning before work I was a little down. It was still dark outside and through my window I could see the moon peering through the trees. I stared at it. I closed my eyes. I swallowed. I opened my Bible to Psalm and I read chapter 34, (I just put some of it here):

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. <--That's me!
The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them ALL.

Today was not without good things, even if it is hard to sift them out.

I am thankful for my sister.
I am thankful for my mom.
I am thankful for my cousin.
I am thankful for MY GOD.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Tribute to Jackson Pollock....Not

Disclaimer: This is a very personal opinion, and if you're a person who enjoys screaming and paint splattering, I hope you are not offended. Also, I am not judging you. Maybe someday you could explain to me the meaning you find in these things I discuss.

I don't consider myself an expert on music, by any means, and I am not really picky about it - I appreciate and enjoy most genres. However, I do have my favorites and my not-so-favorites. Then there is the music that I just don't understand at all. The kind I'm referring to is the start out screaming and scream until you have no voice left and no one understood a word you said but it must have been deep and insightful and brought out all the hurt of your childhood because you screamed it, and everything carries so much emotion when it's thrust from your throat with a raspy push music. Now, I realize there was a lot of opinion packed in that last description, but it's my blog. Feel free to comment, or start your own blog if you disagree. I don't hold this opinion across the board, though. There are a few songs in which I actually think screaming is effective. For example in Showbread's song "Age of Reptiles," at the end they sing "the truth is only You" over and over until it crescendos into a scream. I think this is effective. At this point of the song though, I know what the meaning is because I know what the lyrics are. I know where the artist is coming from, and the message they are trying to get across. Granted, there are some songs I still don't understand even when I can hear all the lyrics clear as a bell. But there is something to be said for thinking about a song after you hear it, and trying to figure out what certain lyrics mean - in fact, that might be what I like most about some of my favorite songs, the fact that I think about them and find different meanings hidden each time I listen to them. That's much different than being screamed at, though.

Maybe this same inability to decipher and appreciate screaming in music has something to do with my dislike of some modern art. I like modern art, and to prove it, here are some paintings I've seen lately that I like:

Tokyo Suburbs by Joe Bachelor

I don't know the title of this one, but it's by Richard Silva

If You Listen by Gail Lapins

Mid Summer Night by Lorna Teixeira

Wooden Room by Anselm Keiffer

Self Portrait by Chuck Close
Untitled by Lee Bontecou

However, I fail to see the talent in a painting like this, by Jackson Pollock.

Or paintings like this Who's Afraid of Red by Barnett Newman:

There may be deep meaning behind it, but that doesn't mean a 5 year old couldn't paint the same picture. There's no substance for me to interpret in the splattering. To me, that picture is a visualization of the sound of screaming in music, and I don't get it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

It Could Have Been A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I'm convinced weather really does affect my mood sometimes, and here's why.

It was cold and overcast this morning. I was up early. Earlier than I wanted to be. Much, much, much earlier than I wanted to be. I had to drive to school, and I never drive to school. I had to pay for a day parking pass. I never pay for day parking passes! (I didn't have enough cash, so I scrounged for change.) I had to go to the lab to work on a project that had to be done this morning. Crunch time. I had a meeting after that... long and somewhat boring, but I gleaned from it what I could. After all, I've paid cold, hard cash to be in this club, so I should get something out of the investment - right? Right. After that the library, where I consumed my peanut butter and jam sandwich, painstakingly worked on my resumé and consequently got almost nowhere with it. My phone was on silent, so I missed a call from my dear friend Jo, who told me in advance she would be calling from England today. I miss her! I was very disappointed. I should have been prepared. I should have been expecting her call. It's not like I can just call her back, either. After I was done looking at the missed call, and listening to her lovely English accent on my voicemail "Hey Beaut, it's me...", I packed up my computer and hiked across campus to meet a girl, with whom I'm working on another big project.

Warning: this next part is kind of gross - but it's relevant to the story.

On the walk across campus, something began to feel terribly wrong with that peanut butter and jam sandwich I ate earlier. I ducked into a building, where luckily I know where the bathroom is. Once in the bathroom, I made sure I was the only one in there before throwing up a little in the trash. I rinsed my mouth out, thought, "gross," and then rejoined the world outside.

I met with my person, and when we finished, I turned in the sketch of the magazine layout I had prepared for our meeting. The adviser informed me that we were supposed to bring a magazine example for what we wanted our article to look like - in other words, the ideal publication it should be printed in. I honestly do not remember her saying that before, and I'm not one to forget assignments... but I just conceded and swallowed the fact of more points lost.

I welcomed the clock striking 4:00, which meant I could walk to my car, and drive to the store to run a quick errand before heading to work at 5:00. In the parking lot of Scoleri's, a man knocked on my window while I was checking my voicemail. "Did you know you have a flat tire?" He asked. Before I could get the word no out of my mouth, he was gone. Thanks, Mister.

Now, I have changed a tire before, but that was a long time ago, and I really didn't want to mess with my crappy jack, in the rain, in that crowded parking lot, when I only had 45 minutes to get to work. "No problem," I thought, "I'll just call AAA." I was helped by an Indian woman who I could hardly understand, who kept repeating the information I gave her back to me - only it was incorrect. Ah. Then she transferred me to another woman, also Indian, but, she stayed on the line. Then there were two Indian women, speaking to each other, and every once in a while saying, "are you still on the line, Miss DeRoss?" They took a half an hour to find out that my membership had expired only a few weeks ago. Really? Are you serious right now?

I walked into the store, and found a clerk who looked nice and helpful. I explained the situation, and said, "I know it's a lot to ask, but do you think there is anyone here who could help me with this?" He said sure, and went outside to get the jack out of his truck, and change my tire for me. I was extremely grateful to him, but he was not that nice to me. He seemed irritated. I don't blame him. I was irritated with myself.

Nevertheless, I drove to work with my donut tire, and made it just in the nick of time.

I could have let this series of events ruin my day, and probably would have except for one small detail: it was raining! And it's about time. It was just hard for me to be in a bad mood with the refreshing rain splashing against the earth.

This video relates to what I felt like today, and is amusing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Leaf through the paper no more

One of the most internationally acclaimed newspapers of this country, the Christian Science Monitor, is soon to cease being printed daily. By printed I mean the traditional style, ink on paper, delivered to your doorstep or favorite local coffee shop printed. By April 2009 the Monitor will be printed solely online. Though this news does not come as a surprise to me, it brings a little closer the realization that everyone is having to do their part and make sacrifices to survive the state of the country's economic crisis (did you hear Mervyn's is liquidating?) as well as simply progressing with the times. While this development will cut costs significantly for the Monitor... there is a long-standing tradition that is being phased out.

I am not of the generation that is used to picking up a newspaper and flipping through its pages regularly, but I can't deny that it feels different to hold a newspaper in my hand than it does to scroll through web pages. I used to read the Christian Science Monitor at school, while I drank my coffee and waited for class to start. (Now, oh dear! I will have to switch to The New York Times.)

I just found this news interesting, because it is a big step for such a prominent news organization to make. Yes, it is only one publication, and one that not a large percentage of the population even reads. Yes, print is far from being phased out completely. Even the Monitor will be putting out a weekly edition. Yes, it is necessary to make these kinds of changes and I am not opposed to it, but it's significant. Years from now, when everything is only printed online, this will be looked at as a turning point in the history of print media... a medium that may not even exist at that point in time.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I want to wash my hands, my face and hair with snow

Tonight I was walking home from downtown, where I was watching Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist with my friend (who happens to also be my roommate) Emma. It was a pretty cute movie, but that's beside the point. It was cold outside, and we started talking about snow and how great snow is. Snow makes things quiet, a muffled quiet so you feel tucked in. Snow is clean. It makes everything look fresh, it's gorgeous. (Except when you're ten years old and set up a snow cone shop in the front yard, using food coloring and sugar to "flavor" the snow cones. Then it looks like someone tie-dyed it. Or just drank a bunch of food coloring, then threw up in the snow. Either mental picture works.) You can build fake people out of snow. You can sled in it. You can snowboard in it. You can snow-shoe in it. You can throw it at people. See what I mean? The list goes on. Mostly, I miss the smell outside after it snows, and I miss looking at it. So this blog post is simply to voice my wishful thinking and say I'm ready for snow.

...I'd love to stay up with you but I recommend a little shuteye
Go to sleep
And dream
Of snow...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Run Like A Girl

My day on Sunday, October 19:

2:30am - Wake up in a hotel in San Francisco to the sound of a major fight going on in the street below. SCREAMING! YELLING! CUSSING! CRYING! HITTING! Emily is on the phone with 911 reporting it. I feel dazed. Where am I? What am I doing here? We look out the window to see two groups of people pitted against each other ready to go at it. Soon enough I will have to wake up again and put on my running clothes. Quick! I have to go back to sleep...

5:00am - Three obnoxious cell phone alarms pierce the silence that cloaks me in so comfortingly. I am too nervous to fall asleep again. I lay with my eyes wide open, my head on the pillow. I sigh. I get up. Put on my running clothes. Put on my tennis shoes. Put my hair in a ponytail. Pin back the strays. Pop four ibuprofen. Stretch a little. Eat some fruit and granola. Mentally prepare for what I'm about to do. (What am I thinking?)

6:00am - Leave the hotel with Carla and the girls. The city is dark. There are people everywhere, just like it is the middle of the day. Thousands of women are flooding to Union Square, preparing to run their race. Music is playing, there is free water and gatorade. I drink some. "Are you ready for this, KK?" Carla asks me. I smile and nod. "Yeah, I guess so," I say. We sit down to stretch and pray. Mom and dad call. "One step at a time, one stride at a time, ok Kakes?" my dad encourages me.

- Carla and I make our way into the masses of women standing in the street. At least there is body heat - we're standing shoulder to shoulder among thousands - because it is cold! We talk to a nice lady from Arizona who tells us she drove the course the day before and that the course is beautiful! She encourages us to not just look at the road, but to focus on the scenery.

6:57am - The National Anthem is sung. We look at the flag. Take it all in.

7:00am - The race starts. We move with the crowd to begin the 13.1 mile run...

The first six miles were awesome. At mile six I had to work hard to push through for a while. My chest hurt from breathing deep because I had a cold. My sinus headache was getting to me. My blood sugar was high and my blood felt like pudding in my veins. I walked for a bit and it helped. I started running again. Drank some water at a water station. There were some pretty sweet downhills to make up for the San Francisco uphills on the course. At about mile 11.5 my body felt stiff and my skin felt numb and tingly. I wasn't sure that was normal, so I asked Carla. She said she didn't think so. I walked a bit there, but then decided I might as well run. I only had 1.5 miles to go.

Somehow I missed the mile marker for mile 12, so when I turned a corner and was running through the cheering section and saw the finish line right in front of me, I thought I still had over a mile to run. What a relief! I looked at Carla and said "I thought we still had to pass mile 12!!" "No, we're here, run!" she said. I crossed the finish line, and it was great. A San Francisco firefighter handed me a necklace from Tiffany & Co and congratulated me. We were handed a bunch of free stuff. We met up with Emily and Ellie and Tim and Autie who were waiting for us at the finish. We ate granola and smoothies by the beach with them for breakfast...

Then I drove home from San Francisco. I went to bed at 8pm and slept like a rock. Today my shoulders are very sore. Tomorrow I have a midterm.

It's early and cold. Getting ready to run!

Lots of people.

Mile 11 on the course.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm Baby Stepping, I'm Doing the Work...

Life is a lot easier when you think of it in terms of taking it a day at a time. I like planning ahead, and I think that's important, but it's also necessary for me to realize that I only have to live one day at a time when I begin to feel overwhelmed. I'll get there (wherever there is) eventually. Granted, sometimes I do feel like I need a prescription to take a vacation from my problems, but then I start to look at only one baby step at a time. It really does help, I promise. I mean, if it works for Bob Wiley...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Grace is Gone

If you haven't seen the movie Grace is Gone, then I think you should.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Once I Shed the Whole of Me, Then I'll Be Smiling

"They litter me with small awarenesses, then they ask if I'm good enough." -Matt Nathanson.

Sometimes I feel this way, but once I realize it's not about me, then I can really be happy. Joyful. My life is for God's glory. It's why I was put here on this earth. If I think it's about me, then I will never be satisfied. I will always be let down. I'm too caught up in school, relationships, work and personal ambitions. I can't put too much stock into what I want or what people say about me. Even the best of friends or the most spiritual of Christians can make me feel inferior and inadequate. I can't compare myself to them, and I can't rely on their approval. I can only humbly offer my life to Jesus - live in service to Him. I fall out of this mindset too easily. My identity is in Christ. Alone.

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

Colossians 3:1 - If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Colossians 3:8b-9a - since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Unexpected Slammed Doors

I just found out that I have a few more units to take than I expected in order to graduate in June. I had a temporary freak out, but now that I know what I have to do I will just buckle down and get it done. It's really a drag when your academic adviser screws up and misinforms you. But I am over my frustration at him and now am just trying to plan my life for the next year. I might go to Bosnia in the summer. It's very tentative, but I applied for a short term thing over there. I hope it works out because I think it would be very cool. But now this possibly not graduating in June thing seems to be throwing a wrench into the mix. But I just need to trust God. As the pastor at Celebration, Aaron Porter (who I love) says, "A shut door doesn't always mean God is telling you no, sometimes God wants you to bust that door down." So I'm going to keep pursuing this... and we'll see what happens.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Another One

I started another blog. It's called "...That Was Awkward..." You should check it out.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Where does your picture hang?

And I just really like this music video:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Psalm 130

Sunrise at Pismo Beach. I run here. Or walk. Or sit. Or stand in the waves.

Anything I consider reliable pales in comparison to God's faithfulness.
Even the dependability of the rising of the sun.
Wait for the Lord.

"My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning - yes, more than those who watch for the morning."
- Psalm 130:6 -

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


These are stray things I feel like posting, but didn't know how to (or possibly I'm just too tired to) string them all together in a connected blog post. So, I'm just going to say them, list style.

#1: Someday I want to live in a house with trees in the yard and a front porch, preferably with a porch swing.

#2: Today I saw three people on unicycles, all at different times of the day.

#3: Today I also saw a perfectly normal looking man walking down the street - perfectly normal looking excepting the fact that he had angel wings pinned to his back. Hm.

#4: Today I almost got hit by a car. I could have died! But I didn't.

#5: My room smells like Thanksgiving right now (I attribute it to the Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie candles I have burning.) It's very nice. I didn't intend on including this one in my list when I started this post, but I think it was worth mentioning.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I Don't Want to Grow Up... Sometimes...

I recently spent an evening with two of my very best friends - and their baby girl. Instead of goofing off and wasting time and watching movies and tv and playing video games, or doing puzzles, or making brownies at midnight or any of the things we used to do before we had to schedule time to hang out, we just sat in the living room and talked about kids and politics. I also heard about the mom's Bible study my friend is starting. Kids and politics are interesting enough, and it's awesome Char is starting a Bible study for new moms, but sometimes I don't want to grow up. Somewhere in between the story about how Char forgot the diapers one day and discussing McCain's campaign strategy, it hit me how much things have changed.

However -

that night Angelina learned how to say my name. She kept coming up to me, or pointing to me and saying "Hi! Hi Tay Tay." That was pretty awesome. I also got to see Lina dance with her daddy in the living room, which I later learned was a rare privilege. It was fun. So I do love kids and I do like politics, and I generally like Bible studies. Every once in a while I just don't feel that old, that's all.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Simple, Like A Breath of Fresh Air

I wish I had a picture to post with this entry, but I think it would take away from the word picture I'm trying to paint anyway. So no picture for you.

One foot in front of the other. Late afternoon sun casting leafy shadows on the pavement. June bugs humming, cows mooing, flies buzzing. The heat permeates the air with the sweet smell of blackberries. Things that slowly, but steadily pass through my peripheral vision as I focus on the road ahead: railroad tracks, a small country school, a picturesque cemetery, a Victorian house with a white picket fence, a beautiful, lazy river cutting its way through hills and trees, a mountain. Favorite familiar songs on my iPod fill my mind with distraction and motivation enough to keep putting one foot in front of the other as I wipe sweat from my forehead and fan myself with my t-shirt. It feels good to breathe hard with the sun beating down on me. As the late September afternoon turns into an early September evening with a harvest moon against the periwinkle sky that meets the earth along a jagged line of pine tree tips, I turn the corner onto Creamery Lane. My mom's flowers in the front yard are so pretty, and our grass is green, soft and refreshingly wet after being watered. I pat my dog on the head as she sits on the doorstep, her pink tongue hanging out of her mouth and her tail swishing from side to side. (Lady used to come on runs with me, but can't now because she's been getting seizures. Sad.) I sit down beside my dog, who lays her head in my lap - endearing - and gaze across our yard, across the small country road, across our neighbor's yard to the impressive Mt. Shasta. Even without snow it can put on a show.

That's a slice of my day. I wish I always appreciated things like I appreciated them today. Sometimes my runs through Edgewood are like an overwhelmingly simple breath of fresh air.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Blackberries and Other Good Things

Tomorrow I get to go home.

Really, you have no idea how much weight those words carry right now. The first thing I'm going to do is take a long drink of cold, Edgewood water. Then I'm going to go for a run in the evening down Edgewood road. Then I'm going to hang out with my family in the living room and relax. Maybe I'll eat some homemade popcorn because it's delicious. Like the kind you pop in the pan, not the microwave crap. The next day I told JB I would take him on a picnic and we would pick blackberries. He said "ok, but I just might get some scratches, KK." I told him we would be careful, but if he got a scratch that we could put a band-aid on it. He said, "But we will be far away from the house!" I assured him we could pack some band-aids along just in case, "OH! That's a GOOD idea, KK!" So I'm excited about that. I'm also looking forward to seeing my Grandma and Nonno and Nonni. I really wish I could see Carla, but she's leaving right before I will arrive. Oh well. I get to see her next weekend, then stay with her in Bend for a few days. I love Bend. The main thing I'm looking forward to is not having to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, for months on end. (Ok, ok, it's not months on end, but two months can feel that way.) The things I'm looking forward to eating are:
-Blackberry Cobbler
-Green salad with fresh tomatoes and lemon cucumbers. YUM.

I realize this might sound overdramatic, but who cares. I'm just really glad I get to go home.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Am Plagued with Common Sense

Level-headed, mature, has so much common sense, solid, a rock, not emotional.

These terms have all been used to describe me, by a wide array of people. Now, before you become disgusted with me and stop reading this, (or perhaps you're so intrigued by my self praise at this point that you will read on anyway)know that at this moment in time, and in fact many moments in time, I am frustrated with my common sense. Why? Because it's so restraining! Don't think I am not flattered by these descriptions of me by others, I am 100% flattered, and most of the time I love my non-emotional common sense. But I would love to be able to just flip out once in a while. You know, yell at someone because I have grounds to. Or just cry and cry and have someone else tell me it will be OK rather than having my stupid common sense brain screaming at me, "Karen, how much does this or will this really matter in the grand scheme of things?" Stop common sense, go away! Just for one day let me over-react and exaggerate and think that it's the end of the world. When I have grounds to be mad at someone, let me give it to them, stop pulling my grounds out from under me. Let me grieve at the loss of a friendship, or complain because I've been sitting in a trailer all summer and not feel guilty about it.

Even now, I feel like posting this blog is an emotional reaction that I will regret because my common sense tells me I don't need this release, that I am just fine. So perhaps I will delete it tomorrow. And perhaps I won't. My common sense and I have had a lot of battles lately.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Words Aren't Enough

What do you say when a seasoned firefighter tells you he's spent the last two days searching for and going through the remains of the nine firefighters killed in the recent helicopter crash in Trinity County? What do you say when he can't help crying after he's said that? What do you say? Or do you say nothing at all? I'm sorry seems inadequate. Silence seems uncaring. What do you say when he looks up from their pictures with tears in his eyes and asks, "did you know any of these guys? I did." What do you say? I don't know - all I know is I had to say something when this happened to me today. I mumbled that I am sorry for the loss, and I can't imagine how he must be feeling. He thanked me and it seemed genuine - like he knew I was searching for the words but could not find them. I think it's because sometimes there are none, but they are the best way for us to convey our sincerity in caring.

It's easy to detach myself from what's happening around here without realizing it. Today though, as images of the fallen firefighters and pilot flooded the trailer (office), I was acutely aware of my emotions, and it was hard for me. Pictures of them with their families, their new wives, their fiances... reading of their ambitions of finishing school, starting school - the seven that were killed were so young! Somehow it feels closer to home since they were all from Southern Oregon (Central Point, Grants Pass, Medford, Ashland).

What do you say? I have no idea.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It's stupid to play tug-of-war with God

A big lesson I've been learning from God in these past months is about letting go. Under that umbrella there have been many experiences that have pointed me to that concept. Even in small things, like school decisions, summer jobs, etc., God is teaching me to allow Him to take control. The tricky part is that it can't be of my own doing - that is, if I try to give things to God, I inevitably try to get them back sooner or later, whether consciously or subconsciously. That's why the lesson I've been learning from God is about letting it go rather than giving it up. It's because God has to take things from me, and I have to let go of them. When I try to give them to God they fall back to me, because even though I want to, I don't know how to give them completely away. It's almost as if I know what I want, but I don't want what I want. (I'm not sure if that makes sense, but I feel like it's a process to get to want what you know you truly want, or perhaps know you truly need. You have to get past the surface level stuff.) I've also been learning that God is extremely caring when he offers to take things away from us, things we want to hold onto, but He knows we shouldn't be clinging to. With me recently, He has been doing this slowly, and slowly replacing the things that it hurts to watch fade away with something infinitely better - Himself.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I tripped on a xylophone.

I’ve only been home for a day, and have already tripped on a xylophone. JB left it in front of the laundry room door leading to the garage. I was trudging up the steps with a big garbage bag full of dirty laundry, (what respectable college kid doesn’t come home with dirty laundry? And lots of it for that matter…) so my vision was partially obstructed. There the xylophone was. Here I came. The xylophone didn’t move, but my foot did – right toward it, then down on top of it, which forced my body to move from an upright position to an awkward seated position on the floor, accompanied by the ringing clang of the xylophone. I called out,
“What KK?”
“Did you leave this xylophone here?”
“Nope!” He said, his curls bouncing with every shake of his head. “Uh, what’s a xylophone, KK?”
“This” I said, pointing to the bright colored instrument on the floor.
“Oh…” realization crept into his face. “I just, I just, I just think I did KK.”
“KK tripped on it.”
“I’m just pretty sorry about that KK.” He put his arms around my neck. His curly head fit so perfectly on my shoulder – I always take advantage of his hugging moods.
“It’s OK JB, that was kind of funny huh?” The ease in my voice gave him license to giggle, then we both started laughing.

I’m really glad to be home for a while. I love living on my own away from my family, and I think I adjusted pretty well, but when I come back I remember what it means to really share things with people – not to mention the danger of stray xylophones.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

So, I have this friend...

Hypothetical situations are sometimes pointless and confusing.

First of all, they always start with “let’s say…” Let’s? Who’s talking? You? No. You’re the one who is being talked to. You’re not saying anything, you’re sitting through a completely “fictitious” situation that is actually completely factual – the names just happen to be different in order that you can provide advice, or most times just a bucket to catch the dumping of gossip somebody wants to give, but feels guilty about unloading.

For instance…

Let’s say, hypothetically, someone comes up to me and says:

Let’s say I have a friend named Bill. (They don’t have a friend named Bill, but let’s just say they do for the sake of the story.) One day Bill runs into Bob, my friend’s (let’s call her Jane, and of course they don’t actually have a friend named Jane.) hypothetical ex-boyfriend (Jane doesn’t really have an ex-boyfriend, but let’s say she does, for the sake of the story.) They, Bill and Bob, begin talking, and become friends. I find out that Bill and Bob are friends, but Bill doesn’t know who Bob is. Bill and Bob are such good friends now that they do almost everything together. They invite me to hang out with them all the time, but I don’t know if I should because of Bob and Jane’s past. Do you think I should tell Jane that I have been hanging out with Bob? Or that Bill and Bob are friends? Or should I keep it a secret? She’s going to find out eventually anyway.

Doesn’t the person telling me this know that of course I know that Bill is really Erick, that Bob is really Steve, and that Jane is really Jessica? Come on.

In writing this I realize that I just posed a hypothetical in order to poke fun at a hypothetical. A blatant contradiction, yes, but you get my point, right?

Monday, May 26, 2008

"Snuggle Jesus"

Snuggle defined:
1. To draw close especially in comfort or in affection
2. To make snug

Tonight at Celebration I really liked my thoughts that followed something Aaron Porter said. He was talking about heaven, and how the first thing he wants to do when he gets there is to snuggle with Jesus. At first, that sounds kind of funny, but once he said it and kept talking about it, the more I really liked the picture that presented. You snuggle with someone you love so you can show your affection for them, and it provides a feeling of security, too. How appropriate for our relationship with Jesus. The more he talked about it, the more excited he became - "I'm going to snuggle with Jesus!"

I've often experienced the desire that Jesus was here - physically - so I could just give him a hug. Or rather, so he could just hug me. A lot of times things seem so much better after you've "hugged them out." I have never really been a touchy-feely kind of person (I've never even liked that term, really, it's weird that I used it), but I do like hugs, when given without awkwardness at least. (There have been plenty of awkward hugs in my lifetime - most of the time initiated by me when I don't know what else to do. Because I'm someone who is not confident in my hug-initiating skills, I'm better off letting somebody else institute the hug. I'm a really good hug-receiver, though. If you're reading this and thinking "I'll never hug Karen again because she thinks it's awkward" - don't! I love hugs, really I do.) Can you imagine though, how it would be to hug Jesus? I get really excited just thinking about it - knowing that when we get to heaven we can actually, physically put our arms around Jesus and give him a hug. On this same note, I've always liked this poem - it makes you want Jesus to hug you so bad. I can't wait...

"The Hug Poem" by Bradley Hathaway
I read about how you touched them and they were healed
Or even if someone just touched your cloak they were forever changed
You let a broken women bathe your feet in her tears
And you washed your best friend’s feet
I am just wondering though did you just ever hug people

I mean I know that it is a silly question and all I am sure you would have why wouldn’t you
But its one of those things that was never mentioned that got me thinking about it

And how whenever there was a touch from you sins were forgiven and sickness fell
I think I’m caught up in my sins last time I checked all my body parts were properly working, nothing special here
I am just a kid with a heavy heart these passing sunrises and sunsets

I don’t think our encounter would have ended up in the gospels or anything
Because all I really need is a hug
That is ok for me to imagine right
That’s not going to be conflicting with any sort of theology is it
Ok good, then hug me

But not one of these side ways one arm around the neck type hugs
Or the ghetto right hand clasp fists elbows to chest pit pat on the back back
Or you put your right arm over my right arm and I put my left arm over your left arm and we make this weird sort of diagonal thing
Nah none of those

Take your old school carpenter arms and throw them over my upper body leaving my arms dangling underneath yours somewhere and I can barely move them because your squeezing so hard
But don’t pick me up and make my back pop because I hate it when people do that

And hold me, hold me here in your arms until I start to cry because
But I just can’t seem to do it on my own
I have been teary eyed once recently but not even enough for a drip down my cheek
Theres just hurt in my soul that needs to be purged so hold me in this hold pose until the pain is flowing from my eyes and nose

Monday, May 19, 2008

A page from the composition notebook

Journal entry from 5/11/08:

I want to love like Jesus loves. I want people to feel a difference when I love them. I want my actions for Jesus to define who I am. (In Matthew 11:4-6, when John asks Jesus who He is, Jesus answers with what he does. To me, that's powerful.) I want to not be distracted by human relationships and things that through an objective eye are insignificant, but while I'm in them seem life-altering. I fasted yesterday. I don't really know exactly why - I had things I wanted to pray about. I guess I should have prayed a little more than I actually did, but I still feel like it was good to do. I didn't get any answers flying at me from the sky, but I did get directed toward the concept of love a lot. Even now, reading about Jesus' love in John, and "My Utmost For His Highest" was even about love today, - I haven't read that in a while. Jesus can satisfy me, and give me the ability to love others and myself. Sometimes I wish I could just fulfill those desires practically - and that would make me feel better - but I have to be careful not to think that loving people in practical ways is what will satisfy. Jesus is what satisfies. Period. It's because we are satisfied that we love. I get it so messed up and backwards sometimes.

I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. - John 15:1-5

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Love Does Not Seek Its Own

Love for others as a result of my love for Jesus has been on my mind. We can love completely without complete understanding. We cannot be each other. No matter how close we are to other people, or how deep a relationship we have with them, we cannot understand them fully, simply because we are not them. Even if this kind of a relation was possible, being able to connect with someone 100 percent is not essential to loving them 100 percent - which is what Christ instructs us to do, utilizing of course the love He has given us in the Spirit. Selfishness is what distracts us from loving others completely. (Selfishness is the root of all sin, really. It's ugly.) Tonight I watched Into the Wild. It was good. I realized though, that the mentality behind Chris McCandless' travels was selfish. What he was able to do and see was really cool, but in the end, he died alone. It is profound when you see him write "happiness is only real when shared." It made me sad, and grateful that there is more to life than what Chris found. I thank God for human relationships and the small picture they are of our relationship with Him.

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's iffy that Wilford can wait that long, but maybe I can...

First, I read this story. It's kind of exciting, but I've heard so much stuff like this in the news, that I'm skeptical... and it's always five or ten years away. What happened to the studies they were doing five or ten years ago? Just wondering.

A Surgical Cure for Diabetes?

Then, I saw this next article. Completely a coincidence... I wear one of these!! The headline is definitely scarier than the article, and I'm responsible with my pump, so I know my risk of death by insulin pump is almost obsolete... but still, it made me wish that the findings from the first article could be proved and implemented quicker.

Insulin Pumps linked to injuries, death

I usually don't even remember that I have diabetes - honestly (unless I'm being taunted - "I'm Wilford Brimley, and I have diabeetus" - I'm sure you know what I mean...) - but today when I saw the phrase "a surgical cure for diabetes," I got excited.

Eh, we'll see what happens in five or ten years... let's hope Wilford makes it that long.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I Found Anger I Didn't Know Was There

I watched this video tonight on 60 Minutes. During this segment, and especially after, I was fighting to keep swelling emotions inside, even tearing up a little, which as you know is unusual for me. For the first half, I couldn't figure out why I was reacting this way. Then it dawned on me. JB's mom, Hillary, is in prison for life. They want her to plead guilty, but she is refusing, even with the option of parole hanging in the balance. I don't know the ins and outs of the case, but I do know that she's missing her son growing up. God brought him into our lives through this situation though, and we love him so much (I miss him a lot) - but watching this tonight really made me hurt for Hillary. It made me angry at the injustice of it all, and how complicated things have to be.

(The parts that really got to me come at minutes 1:30 and 8:00 in the video, if you don't want to watch the whole thing.)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

"Her Beauty Makes Others Beautiful"

In England there is a man named Rob Whittaker. He is the principle at Capernwray Hall, a Bible school housed in a "castle" nestled in the breathtaking hills of the Lake District in Northern England. During my time at this school, Rob said many things that convicted me, taught me, increased my knowledge of the Bible, and encouraged me. One of the things he said that I want to mention because it's been on my mind, is not necessarily a revelation, and it's not as if I didn't know it already - but every time I realize I'm not doing this, I think of Rob. He said,
"If you want to know what God is like, get to know Jesus. It's a good idea to spend a little time every day reading in the gospels, soak in what Jesus is like."
I definitely have not read out of the gospels every day since I heard this advice - but I think it is a really good suggestion. If not every day, at least often. I've known Jesus for a long time, but I will never know him well enough. He is so constant, yet I continue to learn new things about Him and from Him. Reading about Jesus is so rewarding - and it's cool because Jesus likes spending time with us. Another thing Rob said that I really liked,
"I'm going to tell you something that 90 percent of Christians don't know. Not only does Jesus love you, He likes you."
I really like this thought. It's encouraging and comforting. And I need to remember it more often.

Another semi-related thought - last week I was studying for a midterm; cramming my head full of information about the legend of Tristan and Isolde. I have read six different books about this story, by six different authors by this point in the quarter. My brain was a little tired and I was having trouble separating who said what in what book, etc. (It was also 1 a.m. - so that could be a contributing factor to the confusion.) In reading the description of Isolde's beauty, in the text written by Gottfried von Strassburg, I came across this line, and it stood out to me amid the haze of information. The line was simply this, "...her beauty made others beautiful." I stopped and tried to wrap my mind around that. What a cool description. It made me think about one of my favorite passages of scripture in Isaiah 53:
"...He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was ... a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."
Even though there was no reason from His physical appearance that people should be attracted to Jesus, they were still drawn to Him. The beauty of His love and sacrifice made us beautiful and perfect in God's eyes.

In getting to know Jesus, and endeavoring to be more like Him, I would love for my "beauty" to make others beautiful - that they would see Christ in me and in turn reflect it in their own lives.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Even the Bus Driver was Grumpy

7:11 a.m. Cold. Brick Bench. Wind. Eyelids heavy. Anticipatory thoughts of the day that stretches out in front of me. I'm waiting for the bus. I sigh and pull out my book. The one I was supposed to finish last night - I had heavy eyelids then, too. I hear the low moan of the bus approaching in the distance, it's pulling up the hill. Soon I see it, the 5. It's full. I'll have to stand. I get up from the bench, adjusting my book bag so it is more secure on my body. I get out my Poly card. The bus stops. I swipe my card, wait for it to beep, then board. The bus driver greets me with a "Good morning, miss." I smile my default smile and say hello. With a warning to "please hold on," the bus pulls into motion.

Usually the bus driver (I almost always have the same one, probably because I take the same bus to school at the same time most days...) is in a chipper mood. I say chipper, even though I don't love that word, because its definition fits exactly how the bus driver comes across. He treats the passengers as though they are traveling on an airplane. "Thank you for choosing the SLO transit system. We realize you had various means of transportation, and we greatly appreciate you choosing us." I've grown to not listening to my iPod on the bus anymore, in order to be entertained by my chipper bus driver. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have clear skies which should ensure a smooth flight," "Please make sure your tray tables and seats are locked and in the upright position, we're coming in for a landing at Cal Poly - University Union, watch your step as you exit the bus. Have a great day."

To be met with such an attitude at the beginning of a long day, believe it or not, seems to help my perspective.

However, today was different. The bus driver was not chipper. He did not even say hello to me when I boarded the bus. He did not call out the stops. He did not greet anyone who boarded. He did not make any jokes. I think the only thing he said was, "you need to stand behind the yellow line" to a passenger who was inadvertently straying from the designated safe area.

This experience took place after I had been sitting, cold, on the brick bench, waiting for the bus to arrive, and wondering about disappointments in life. Disappointments like training to run a half marathon, then getting a stress fracture two weeks before the race - when I had worked up to running almost ten miles. Disappointments like realizing I have a long paper to write this week that I have not started, and that I will have to work all three days this weekend. (Fri, Sat, Sun.) Disappointments like knowing you're too broke to drive home for a three weekend coming up. (I miss my family, but gas is over $4 a gallon here!)

When I got on the bus, I think I was subconsciously expecting my mind to be distracted and my mood to be lightened by the bus driver's lively, animated service. Today his service was just service, though, nothing extra. It made me think. Other people have disappointments. One of my sisters has a weird infection in her hip that is preventing her from running and dancing. My other sister did not get accepted to a school she applied to. One of my friends didn't get a job she wanted. Everyone has to deal... even the bus driver.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Complex Commonality

"'s better than doing it in Vegas..." "...then he handed me the banana, and I threw it at him..." "...literally, everybody was puking at the same time. Literally..." "'s just hard now because my home doesn't feel like home anymore. My parents split up and now strangers live in the house I grew up in..." "...oh, man, seriously? You need to call her and apologize. Right now..." "...yeah, they met at a logging competition. What is a logging competition anyway?" "...I went skydiving yesterday!"

This succession of statements is an example of snippets of conversations I hear every day - riding the bus, walking across campus, at work, studying downtown... It is interesting to me how many lives converge under the umbrella of necessity, but how separate everyone's life really is. People are funny. Hearing passing comments like this makes me wonder from what context those statements stemmed.

How can people's lives be so intricate, so complicated, so interweaving and yet so separate? This is not the first time I have experienced this sentiment, and I know I am not the only one who has. Maybe this is idea of being alone together is why humans desire so bad to connect - to something, to someone.

Everyone's world is so real to them, so important - but somehow things seem to lose significance if they do not directly affect me in some way. Sometimes (I probably should venture to say most times) it's even hard to connect emotionally to things that do directly affect me. It's easier to look at them from a self-proclaimed distance, to push them away so I don't have to deal with them - to avoid getting hurt or facing that looming inevitable situation I don't want to face.

In the meantime, since I first heard the fragments of those conversations, people's lives have been moving on, their issues, big or small, significant or insignificant, have been resolved, or made worse, maybe they have completely new issues now, or perhaps they haven't dealt with them at all...maybe they have detached themselves from the situation, or maybe they have come to see the crushing reality of facing the inevitable. I wonder... did the guy call and apologize? Did the girl realize there is more to life than throwing bananas at people? Or did she come to the conclusion that the banana needed to be thrown? I will never know, and I will stop wondering about it soon, because the things in my life will soon regain my full attention.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Crowded Solitude

"We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand to the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies -- all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes. "
-Aldous Huxley, "The Doors of Perception"

I read this quote today and felt it coincided with a few thoughts that have recently been filtering through my head. Sometimes I feel detached. Disconnected. Maybe it is because I am dealing with new experiences lately, or maybe because I am in semi-fresh surroundings, probably both. Maybe neither. Maybe I'm just trying to pin a cause to my wandering thoughts and feelings. Whatever it is has put me in a reflective mood, especially at night when the events of the day are over and I have nothing to do but think about them. Through this time, though, it has become clear to me that things on this earth are so ephemeral, so trivial. It is when I feel like this that I realize God is the only one I can really latch onto, and connect. He holds on.

On the heels of this observation, I want to share something I wrote a while ago. It is rather melancholy and somewhat poetic, which is a little unlike me - it is definitely new territory.

Today my day was black and white. I looked desperately for color, but couldn't find it. The sun was shining, but it only made things visible, it did not make them glow with golden warmth. The trees were not green, their blossoms not snowy white and blushing pink. The purple hair on the girl who sits across from me on the bus every morning; the girl with the red backpack; the guy with the orange mo-hawk, the interior of the bus itself with its neon seats; all these images met my eyes today devoid of all color. I saw them in black and white and shades of gray, with only the memory of the vibrancy that used to fill those images. Even though the memory of color was there, it was as if the color had never existed at all. The sky was clear, but it was only that - clear. I was chilled today - but it was warm outside. I am not bitter, and I am not depressed. My day was just black and white today. Everything seemed empty, ghost-like, hollow. I wonder how long it will take to paint the color back in.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Third Party Endorsements Are A Good Thing

Jack Johnson released a new album on February 5th. First of all, it's good. Secondly, it's nothing extremely out of the ordinary for him, but in my opinion, it's just more good, solid Jack. For those who are critical of his lack of evolution in style, I say, why do you like him in the first place? Because it's Jack. If he sounded different, it wouldn't be Jack. This CD incorporates a slight variation of sound, while remaining classic. It's a little reminiscent of the Curious George soundtrack, which was definitely a different feel than his previous three albums. It's neat to hear some of his songs that are obviously about his wife, or his kids. My favorite songs on the CD so far are: "Monsoon" and "Hope." I also like "Sleep Through the Static" (the title song) and "Adrift." The song "Angel" is very sweet (as in awww, he wrote that for his wife) and right now I feel like I identify with the song "All At Once." Oh, and "Losing Keys" is a great song. With a song title like that, how can you not want to listen to it?

A few lyrics that immediately stuck out to me:

"I wanna take the preconceived out from underneath your feet." (All At Once)

"Show me that there's more than the meantime" (Monsoon)

"I've been losing lots of keys lately, I don't know what that means, but maybe I'd be better off with things that can't be locked at all." (Losing Keys)

"There's still so many things I want to say to you, but go on..." (Go On)

"When will these ideas really be my own?" (Adrift)

"Your voice is your own I can't protect it" (Adrift)

You all should listen to his new CD, "Sleep Through the Static." It also was recorded using only solar energy, just so you interesting fact, I thought.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mixed Emotions: On Anticipating the Future

"Then the time came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin

The promises of the future charm me, yet once I am enticed by them, I hear them snicker at me behind their veils that promise success and contentment. I want to change and grow, I want to stay the same. I am excited, I am scared. I am elated, I am terrified. I think I can't handle it, I know that I can. The thing I despise most about this whole process of change is the switching of emotions that happens daily, hourly, almost moment by moment. It is on the front of my mind, it is at the back of my mind, it is on the bottom of my mind, it is on the top of my mind. It's on the side, in the corner, in the middle, over, is always on my mind. No matter what else flows through the matter of my brain, that is always there, always there, always there. Like a constant drip, like the sun - always rising, like the memory of a loved one gone, like the promise of something better, it is annoying, refreshing, lonely and hopeful. It is all these things separately, all at once. And so I will always be learning to adapt to the ever looming prospect of...change. It is always there, nerve-racking at first but almost always worth it in the end - for there is always something new to learn. Most of the lessons life gives are age-old, and worth the process it takes to learn them, even if they hurt.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Some Thoughts to Clear My Head

I like to think of myself as an "early adopter." This means that I am in the 13% of the population who catches onto things soon after the 2 1/2% of the population, the "innovators", make it appealing. I like others to test the water first, then I step in soon after I see they don't immediately retract. Not often do I fall into the 68% of the population, the majority, who follows suit because "everyone else is doing it." Sometimes I do find myself in the 16% or so of the population deemed the "laggards", who wait around to catch onto something until I really cannot think of a reason not to. This puts me either on the front end or the tail end of things most of the time and I don't know what that means - or if it reflects on me a certain way - it's just an analysis of how I operate. All this to say, when it comes to blogs, I most certainly fall into the laggard category.

I have never been against blogs, like I was against myspace or facebook before I caved (I was also a "laggard" in that instance). I guess the idea of a personal blog just scared me, because I feel that up until now, my rantings like this have been confined to my journal and visited by my eyes only. While it is a release to write things out in my journal, there is something even more freeing about posting my thoughts, knowing others will read them. There is something beautiful about exposition, transparency.

The thing that spurred the sudden birth of this blog of mine, was a phone call I received earlier this evening. My mom called to tell me that my grandma's cancer has spread from her kidney to her bones. My grandma has been fighting cancer on and off for the majority of her life. Her most recent diagnosis was a tumor in her kidney. The doctors said they could remove her kidney, but that would lower her kidney function from its current 50% to about half of that. (I think around 30%.) She had a CT scan, to determine how far the cancer had spread in her kidney. That's when they discovered that it had spread to her bones. Even after my family's extensive experience with many different forms of cancer, it still feels foreign to talk about. I don't know much about bone cancer, or how it's treated, but I know it involves chemotherapy. In my mind, bone cancer sounds much worse than any kind of organ cancer. Bones can't be removed, and that scares me. I don't want my grandma to have to go through chemotherapy, because she has survived seven different forms of cancer already! She has been through chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries multiple times. Isn't seven times enough? Does there really have to be an eighth?

When my mom relayed this news to me over the phone tonight, my reaction surprised me. I cried. I cried hard. My mom didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to say. Sometimes there is nothing to say. Then my mom said "I'll let you talk to grandma" and before I could respond, I heard my precious Grandma Ruth's voice on the other end of the phone, reassuring me that everything would be OK. "God has given me peace, Karen, and it's not time to give up hope," she said.

The thing that hurts the most for me tonight is that I could not be there with my family as they were dealing with this news. I could not give my grandma a hug and spend time in her company as she faces the looming prospect of a major surgery followed by dialysis and chemotherapy. I could not help fix dinner and do the dishes, do the practical things I longed to do to help in any way I could. All I could do is pray, so that is what I did.

In my moments of prayer, two verses came to my mind. One from Exodus 14:14 which I read today. It says "The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still." Also the verse that says "Be still, and know that I am God." When we have no human control over a situation, how comforting it is to know that we have a God who is fighting for us.