December 1, 2013 at 10:49am
Information is coming to us with greater velocity and magnitude. “I don’t know” might be the most powerful admission you can make in the internet era.
…I think this is the way to be Christ-like, i.e. sacrificial, i.e. in touch with the truth the word the logos, in 2013
…Maybe “I don’t know” is the new “I am”
(and thank God, because I don’t)
Energy is the only universal currency.
Sometimes you don’t even need to read the book.
[Tobias Wolff] was the first great writer I ever met and what the meeting did for me was disabuse me of the idea that a writer had to be a dysfunctional crazy person. Toby was loving, gentle, funny, kind, wise — yet he was producing these works of great (sometimes dark) genius. It was invigorating to be reminded that great writing was (1) mysterious and (2) not linked, in any reductive, linear way, to the way one lived: wild writing could come from a life that was beautifully under control. Watching him, I felt: O.K., nurture the positive human parts of yourself and hope they get into your work, eventually.
— In a meditation on literary idols, George Saunders reminds us that we don’t have to subscribe to the tortured-genius myth of creativity, something Bukowski spoke to and Bradbury embodied. (via explore-blog)
(Source: , via jennifermariedonahue)
November 20, 2013 at 1:31pm
15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee
at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
you will all flee away,
till you are left
like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill.”
18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
November 18, 2013 at 3:35pm
In its most positive sense, independence isn’t located in the capacity to function without reliance on others. True independence comes from being socially literate and culturally fluent, giving us the ability to engage the widest possible range of communities, contexts and interpersonal options. True independence comes from being fully engaged and connected in the world, so we can choose our path, not based on what we fear as unfamiliar, but instead, what we know from a wide range of diverse experience is right for us. When we live in a web of interconnection, we are no longer at risk for being cast out, economically lost, or spiritually isolated. The human web is too vast. There are always places we can shift to and seek options. The wider the range of connectivity we have in our lives, the wider the range of options for dealing with adversity. This alleviates fear and provides security.
goals in life
it’s not a good pun unless everyone in the room wants to kill u
eye rolls / forehead slaps > laughs
(Source: wholidays, via steakbuns)
Put another way, the brainier you are, the better you can twist facts to your own pre-existing convictions. And that’s what you will tend to do.
Kawaii means “cute” in Japanese, but it’s different from the Western “cute” precisely because it can also mean “cool.” This is not easy to understand, since things kawaii are usually small, round, warm, soft, and fluffy, and radiate something childlike, sweet, innocent, pure, and weak. In Japan, the relationships and interactions between cuteness and coolness are complex. While in the “white” European and American cultures, cool and cute are usually defined as opposites, kawaii unites them. This is possible because kawaii — like cool — is not entirely serious, but ironical. Both cool and kawaii are elastic; they are able to reunite contradictory elements and thus cover a large field of aesthetic expressions. “Kawaii” is the most frequently used word in Japan and “cool” the most popular word of approval in the US.
Shades of Cool, Degrees of Kawaii: an essay by Thorsten Botz-Bornstein (via lareviewofbooks)
Better Late Than Never: Thoughts re: that whole “Marriage Isn’t For You” fiasco last week
The other day literally everyone (okay fine eight people) on Facebook was (were) posting / commenting on this blog — "Marriage Isn’t For You." The point of the blog is this: “I realized I’m selfish and in order to love someone else better I need to not be!” – a point which I am totally down for, and a revelation I experience again and again on an average of sixteen, seventeen times a day. But still, after reading and agreeing with all that, I feel a little let down. Maybe that’s ‘cause everyone on Facebook really really built it up for me, or maybe it’s ‘cause this:
“Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.
But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and aguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.”
Well first off, “anguish” is missing an n, which I honestly didn’t even notice at first but which tumblr is underlining for me in squiggly red here. To be fair tumblr’s spell check says that “tumblr” is spelled wrong too. But besides the tempting anal-retentive copywriter tangent my real beef here is this: I have no idea what actually happened.
“emotions erupted” – sounds intense, like volcanoes, fireworks, geysers; an insane asylum, a summer camp on come-to-Jesus worship night. I feel—and appreciate, and am wooed by—the connotation. But what does it mean? Did this guy yell? Did he cry? Did he throw a chair? Did he hit her? Does someone leave?
I want to know how bad he actually was in concrete terms, so I can know how gracious she was being, can imagine the psycho-biological responses she was fighting or facing—disgust, repulsion, pain, fear. Was it something she was used to, or out of the ordinary? Did it catch her by surprise? Did it scare her, make her worried? Was she ready to call 911 or pack her bags and move out to her mom’s? Or was she just sitting there tapping her foot and rolling her eyes and waiting til Breaking Bad came on?
I have to ask because all the writer says of his wife is this: “she showed an outpouring of love… she soothed my soul.” I read “outpouring of love” and I think, yes! Sounds amazing! I want that! Makes me think of hot fudge, waterfalls, bottles of wine, Bath & Body Works, cornucopias, angels. But he doesn’t say that’s what it was, so I’m not sure. And I really have to ask again: what happened? Did she sing him a lullaby? Bake him cookies? Listen to him cry? Tell him things would be okay? Did she refuse to leave? Did he lie in her lap while she stroked his hair and cooed sweet nothings? Did they have sex?
To better understand what happened, too, I want more context to their day, their week, their marriage. Is this their only fight ever? Are they one of those couples? Had something been building for a while now? Was it a slow burn from weeks, months, years of repressed patience—or an unexpected, out-of-character explosion? Was stuff going on at work? For him? For her? Are they having fertility problems? Family problems? Is someone’s sister depressed? Did someone’s father leave, or show up after years of being away? What’s going on in both their lives? Is this—a fight—a new experience for them? And either way, what triggered it?
I ask all this because two reasons:
1) To point out the flexibility of language and the complexity of humankind. Note: not it’s frailty. That “erupting emotions” doesn’t mean enough for me to understand at once does not mean that it’s wrong. Our words’ potential for misuse isn’t bad in that some level of uncertainty makes us hesitate a little bit, ask more questions, double-back and (hopefully) arrive at deeper, nuanced meaning. By admitting that we can’t address a situation in just a simple few words (soothed my soul—that’s like letting one “I love you” stand in for years and years of hard-earned marriage), we allow for the complexity of circumstance, the sensitivity of human spirit. “It’s more than that,” I can hear someone defending—and it should be. If something matters that much, we should be able to talk about it, explore it, for a while longer, say more, be the more we are, take the time we have.
2) I don’t know about you, but as much as I want passion, I also want a love based in concrete fact. I want to know: how do you sooth someone’s soul, really? I want to know because I want to be able to do that for someone sometime. I want to be able to park the car just right in the garage, stop flirting with the hot barista, just let him watch the baseball game in peace. I want to know that what I’m dealing with, when I love somebody, isn’t just his crazy out-of-nowhere attitude, but something that’s connected to a moving, breathing, complex, changing, hard-and-crazy world and being— something that reacts, responds; something that experiences cause-and-effect just like the rest of us here on this 3-D planet; something that gives when you push on it or pushes back; something that’s alive. And I hope that I can be that way as well. I know we have a lot of emotions, but I hope they come from somewhere, and I hope that they make sense—otherwise they’re just a waste of everybody’s time.
Side note: I think that emotions are irrational in the same way faith is, which is to say, they aren’t. I think that more often than not they are misplaced or confused or distorted or transposed. Which is, I guess, to say that what is out of place is what’s irrational, and to be rational is to be in your place. I guess I’m arguing for some sort of cosmic organization here. But hell, why not? This place can be a mess.
Anyhow, point number one is something I’m thinking about a lot with the Christianity I see, read about, grew up in: I like the way things sound, but I’m never sure what anyone actually means. I’m not opposed to the language or ideas here; I only want to talk about it more. Unfortunately Christianity has succumbed, like a lot in our day and age has, to quick answers, heightened emotions, and the heavy gravitational sway of attention from others—instead of close reading, real meaning, true relating and exchange.
As someone who easily gets stuck up in her head a lot and easily, I’ve found I have a deep desire for someone to just tell me what to do with the world in front of me. This is why I like sports, and—if I’m really honest—sex too. You just put a ball inside a goal. You just…. you know. Make a pass and score. That’s why I did really well in school (read the stuff, take the test, get the A), why I’m a badass motherfucker when it comes to paperwork and job and college apps, and why I thrived as a kid in the Christian church. There is a laziness here, admittedly—perhaps even a sort of fear—but also still a childlike sincerity. To want things simple and straightforward is not a bad thing; to overlook and ignore important details can sometimes hinder deepening and growth. This is paradoxical and real and hard, so it made sense that I got a little disoriented when I started asking bigger questions: what if answers A, B, C, and D are all correct in some way? Which one do I choose if it’s actually none of the above, and there’s no E? Why does only one team get to win? How are babies really made? What is sin, if its real, and why? What is selfishness? What do we really mean when we say Jesus? What do we really mean when we say love? What does it actually sound like, look like, feel like when God talks?
We need people to be able to—to have time and space and shamelessness and smarts to—answer questions like that, so we don’t end up with shit like cults and the Crusades. And we need people to be able to get specific so they can admit to and deal with hard, ugly, painful things like abuse and violence. We need to be able to say “it hurts when I get touched like this” and “it feels good when I get touched like that.” I mean that, of course, physically and emotionally (i.e. “it really touched me when you sent me flowers”; “I was really touched by her words”). There are reasons, people, that we speak in metaphors. And then there are reasons that we sometimes need to not.
Animals are easy: cats purr, dogs wag tails. They raise their hair and bare their teeth when they are defensive or scared. But people? Human beings? We are pretty good at acting, lying, pretending, trying. I think that this is why Jesus speaks in parables: he knows that we can get all mind-games, so instead he just tells us how to move our bodies. Faith in terms of physics.
So this is what I mean when I say I want to know what this “Marriage Isn’t For You” guy means. What actually happens when his heart hardens, his emotions erupt, his soul gets soothed? Pharaoh made a bunch of Hebrews stick around and build a pyramid in the million-degree Egyptian heat, but what did this guy do? Something with his mind? His mouth? His body? Hers? I want to know because I want to see examples, want to learn more about what to do with all these part of me—especially around others. What do I do—I, this mass of flesh, this feeling, beating being—with the other there, this person that I love? Do we build a family? Bake a cake? Have a talk? Fix up a home? Repair a car? Climb every mountain? Ford every stream? Follow every…. you know?
A less-wordy way of saying all this is: trying to not be selfish (thinking, writing, blogging, praying, talking and talking and talking, whatever) sometimes just gets me deeper and deeper in more circles of being selfish, but taking a deep breath or making dinner or running an errand or doing the dishes or even sometimes just getting out of the way for someone I love puts me in a better place immediately. And, by proxy, brings the one I love there too.
November 5, 2013 at 9:18am
"But whenever the performance of the machine has been on my mind and gets into the conversation, the building stops."
Math and Writing — What’s the Dif?
I’ve been following this whole talk about how modern American handles math in education. Two things I think are important to add to the conversation:
1. Letters are symbols in the same way that numbers are. Remember in algebra when we first learned you could switch an “x” in for a number? Solve for x — all math is metaphor. Everything is a symbol. Letters and numbers just do different things based on the way cultures (read: disciplines, departments, academic veins) assign value to them. I think what I like best about writing is actually the logic behind it: the way that certain things do or don’t add up to create an image, conversation, or scene. It has to be this way, really — because aren’t all real images, conversations, and scenes just tons of math in the form of the real? How much math is in the biology of my body, the physics and the chemistry of the house in which I live?
2. All work is creative work. As one of a handful of creative/literary people at an engineering firm, this is something I find myself saying often as a way to build a bridge between my work and the work of all these “math people” around me. Our brains are always taking apart things, piecing them back together. Analysis, imagination. An engineer has to see the way a thing is supposed to come together just like a poet or a painter does, and vice versa. It might be different things, different parts — but the process is the same. We just deal with our feelings differently, and have different work styles and ethics — and the human race still hasn’t come to terms with the idea of difference. I think that’s the psychological root of the divide.
What Parks and Recreation Could Learn from Grey’s Anatomy About Friendship
In a recent Entertainment Weekly article, Melissa Maerz lamented the lack of female friendships on television—as evidenced by one-of-the-boys female characters such as Scandal’s Olivia Pope, Nashville’s Rayna James, and The Mindy Project’s Mindy Lahiri. “I miss the Lucys and Ethels, the Mary Tyler Moores and Rhodas, the Carries and Mirandas, women who could call each other on their flakiness, and still clink martini glasses afterward,” she wrote. “It’s an especially terrible time for Rashida Jones to depart Parks and Recreation and Sandra Oh to leave Grey’s Anatomy, because two of the best (platonic) couples on television—Leslie and Ann, Meredith and Cristina—are doomed to split up.”
Maerz is right: With Rashida Jones and Sandra Oh leaving their respective roles of Ann and Cristina this season, it seems more important than ever to recognize and appreciate these two significant female-friend relationships. Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang’s bond is central to Grey’s, just as Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins’ is important to Parks and Rec.
Read more. [Image: NBC; ABC]
oh my Lord too true. But also hopefully there will be a new kind of girls-friends in tv & lit lately — ones who do more hella badass shit together than ever. like that chick from firefly. what if there were like 5 of her? and they all kicked ass? and NO I DON’T MEAN CHARLIE’S ANGELS OR THE SPICE GIRLS
October 28, 2013 at 11:10pm
One thing I like about art
is the ability to do a lot with a little. I have always been fascinated with the way I’d heard — I’ve never seen, now that I’m thinking of it; I guess I don’t really know for sure — that Indians [Native Americans? I’m not good at PC, sorry (do I say black or African American?) but I respect everybody still and nonetheless] would use every single part of an animal. The hide, the brains, the meat; the whiskers, horns, and hooves. I loved the efficiency, the resourcefulness, the innovation. The respect and wastelessness.
Two examples from my own experience: I made one collage I really liked using only my ticket stubs from my trip to Spain, a couple pictures of the Alhambra, and the little saint card they handed out at my Nana’s funeral. And after a sort-of recent breakup, I made another using only one photo, one love letter, and one note-from-flowers-he-sent-me-once-when-we-were-in-love.
In my obsessing about the deer metaphor, my thinking I can use it all for something, I have been trying to make other pieces, because I get all worked up on this idea of being an artist and because have this huge big bin of stuff I save — paper, wrappers, buttons, credit cards… all these shiny, pretty things; these things that artists do. I have visions, I have plans. I want to be that kind of artist who is known for excess, array, complexity — those big, complex, collages — able to handle a lot. Mass, capacity, volume. I am drawn to those things like we all are, the way we love the ocean, the stars and sands and sea.
But the motivation isn’t there, and lately I am thinking that is not my job.
A mistake I always make, as a young artist, is feeling like my art is meant for proving something, is meant to serve as evidence. I’m sure there’s all kinds of art-as-activism theories on that but my gut tells me no way, says that artifact is hindsight: creation is what’s present.
No wonder I feel so behind all the time: if I am set on making artifacts then I am forever catching up, all gone-ahead and fallen-back already. No wonder I am so exhausted.
And so, realizing this, I can return to what is small. The world has done the big and complex for me and before me and in so doing given me permission to live a tiny life in here and now.
I get overwhelmed because I live a life of luxury: even in the little patch of space I rent I have so much I’m drowning, unable to breathe, to move, to make. Necessity is the mother of invention — the Indians, their deer and things from up above — and buying shit at Target (though God knows I love Target) is certainly not a form of innovating; eating all my food at restaurants and bars is fine but it separates me further from the hunt-and-gather, and there’s something there that’s really fun. I need little, so I die to the adventure. I am young and I have endless possibilities; I am free and I have endless options; I am saturated with all that this world has to offer and my inability to frame it — my lack of desire to, even; the paralyzing awe at everything — and so, despite me constantly complaining and comparing about everything I think is in my way, I really see no limits. Perhaps it is the two of those combined — and not enough time to sort, balance the realities of impossible and possible. But either way I cannot move.
In grad school, and everywhere as artists, we always talked about imposing limits for the sake of creating (i.e. write everything in second person, or only use the colors yellow and mauve, or only type a story with your left hand ring finger, etcetera). I thought this was a cute exercise for generating creative material, but I now realize that for me, it’s the difference between artistic life and death: if I cannot choose, I will never make. If I cannot make, I will never live.
I say this thankful that I am, after all, a making machine — even as I sit and type my body is making antibodies, dopamine, cells and hairs, poop and protein, sugars, boogers. Inside my chest my lungs are a factory, pumping carbon dioxide out someone’d paid off its utilities forever.
I am glad that someone thought that all up before I did, because I would never have been able to focus, sit still, think that much enough to make it happen.
So when I say live I mean the kind I get to do because I have emotions, ideas, thoughts and feelings now — because even if I’m only matter it still matters, somehow, because I know and think and care. And care I do, I really do.
Anne Lamott’s whole thing on this is Bird by Bird and everyone else says things like “one foot in front of the other” or “one day at a time.” But you know what? That is still too much for me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m hypersensitive or super small or what, but as I grow up I realize I am such a baby and I need my food broken down for me even ever smaller than before. Maybe it’s because of learning, over experience and time, how much things can change in a second — yesterday a friend and I mourned the anniversary of a little girl we lost to cancer; today at work they called a meeting to let us know that a colleague passed away in his sleep last night. And besides death there’s other things: heartbreak, discord, loss, and fear and failure. And who knows about tomorrow? A second is a lot of time — and each tomorrow is a lot of seconds.
I am learning that to do anything I need to give myself strict, strict limits. I go through so many moods a day that I really need a second at a time. I need a love letter, a photo. One ticket stub. A really tiny point of focus. It is like in yoga when you are doing a balancing pose, and they tell you just to pick a spot on the wall or someone’s butt or mat or ankle and stare at it. One point — then everything follows.
My dad is badass
Me: (forward my family some blog about being single, wah wah wah)
Dad: The important point, to me, is to remember to enjoy who you are and where you are. God made you and placed you and has a plan for your life. We only see the plan in the rear view mirror, after the fact. Water flows, taking the path of least resistance. Our lives flow and take the path that God leads/draws us to.
Me: How do you discern “path of least resistance” with being lazy, or avoiding facing important things? Water hits rocks and stuff……
Dad: Do you know what water does to rocks. Think the Grand Canyon.
how i feel every time i mess up on a boy