Sunday, December 18, 2011

On evangelical behavior

Here's something that was/has been bothering me over the past 36 hours or so: I am evangelical about lots of things in my life. It depends on my mood and energy level and so on, but still: I will go to great lengths to share with you my affection for floss picks or for the smell of Noxzema facewash, or to convince you that you really should like to eat all the things that I like to eat and care about all the things I care about and do all the things that I like to do. If you don't like water, I will try to make you understand why you should like water. If you do not like being outside, or wearing tennis shoes, or eating more than six things (I don't know whether you'll ever read this, Ian, but yes it is possible that that is a pointed comment) then I will go out of my way repeatedly to try to make you "see the light." To try to change your mind. And it's obnoxious--I know it is--but I can't seem to help myself. In fact, if you have habits or opinions that I find irksome and you notice me not being pushy or giving you shit about them all the time, then you should be aware that I am working really hard to keep my mouth shut.

So here's a segue that I'm not sure how to make without being offensive: I'm not evangelical about that thing that the term "evangelism" was probably coined for in the first place: my faith. What I say I believe. And probably part of the reason is that being evangelical isn't really culturally acceptable around here, and part is that I'm afraid to offend people, and part is that I'm more worried about being judged by others than I am willing to admit to myself. Part is that I don't know how to balance not being judgmental and being respectful and sharing and communicating. And part is that I don't really know what I think is true, or rather, don't know how much is true. Don't know how much is grey.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Like I said on facebook,

I usually veer pretty far away from "Christian" writing. From that stuff that's all full of jargon and talk about feelings and personal relationships with an intangible, invisible being, and feelings, and Bible verses and Bible analysis and some flowery metaphors (ok, I'm a hypocrite) and maybe some more stuff about feelings. I don't know how to say this, and maybe it's because I don't have an example of said writing in front of me (because, um, it's not the kind of thing I tend to bookmark), but there's just a whole atmosphere to it that makes me want to run the opposite direction. All those things--relationships and churchspeak and feelings--those are all things that I just don't get. But this girl--Jamie the Very Worst Missionary--this girl I like. Even if you're not particularly a person of religious bent, you might like what she has to say--particularly in this post. Check her out.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Things I want to make, vol. 1

A Hermes mailbox. But not the mailbox part--I mean I want to make a sculpture of Hermes that will stand next to my driveway and hold the mailbox on his shoulder.

Dinosaurs out of leftover electrical wire. Hermes has been in the works (aka in my head, not worked on at all) for months or years, but the dinosaurs have just occurred to me. Or rather, dinosaurs in this form. I have been known to make dinosaurs out of other things in the past, such as papier mache

or rice krispies treats.

Bucket List, revised:

learn French
get shit together
integrate--exercise--quiet time--daily maintenance stuff--art--into daily life
sing fearlessly
learn to crochet
swim through a reef
through a lagoon
in hot springs
in warm springs
in the mountains
in the ocean
explore tide pools
kite surf (because it's the closest thing I can think of to the sport mentioned at the bottom of this post)
get a grad degree...?
get a dslr...take amazing pictures...make huge prints and hang them places
participate in the creation of a dream home.
stop fearing the future

Let it rise.

I would wish so hard that the phrase "precious moments" hadn't been co-opted by that god-awful porcelain giant-eyed cherub crap, if I thought my wishing would change anything. The phrase isn't usable for anything meaningful, or anything other than an ad for that line. But the moments I spend with my mother--last week, rearranging the basement; this week, kneading bread and slipping it into loaf pans and pyrex bowls to rise--are precious ones to me. Some memories acquire a glow and a lustre as they age, but these have it straight out of the box. Sometimes I am reluctant to begin--running around removing bracelets and fitzing with an apron, filling my water bottle and tying my hair back with a headband--but the moment my hands touch the dough, it's over. There's no more rush, no more irritation, no more anxiousness. There's just me and my hands and this dough, and my mother and her wise hands and the dough, and the flour, and the kneading board. There is nothing else. It never lasts long enough.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I like the way we do things in our family.

12:20 am today found me in my grey boots that feel like slippers and rose-printed hoodie from Scotland and this beautiful hand-me-down skirt that Eva bought in India, squatting in twenty-eight degree weather on the bright red adirondak chair I picked up last week, watching my breath mist and dissipate and grinning as I waited for my mother to return with another strand of Christmas lights. Because we run on Africa time, and when the mood strikes us we run on the principle that there is no time like right this very second to do whatever it is we've been putting off--like stringing a couple of strands of Christmas lights across the front porch, even if we had to step around our Christmas tree (which all week has been casually leaning up against a pillar, studying its fingernails and patiently waiting for a space to be made inside) to do it. There is a sweetness to such moments that I can't imagine infusing any other space or time than midnight, with my mother, in the last few moments of the fall. I like the way we do things.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I think a part of the reason that I have been (sometimes consciously, sometimes not) avoiding writing lately is that I've been pointedly ignoring this little existential crisis I've been having. It is totally unlike anything anybody else in the world has ever experienced and it goes something like this: what's the point of all this? I don't see a point. I mean, life is kind of nice sometimes I guess, but it doesn't really seem worth it. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and (assuming I didn't end up having to live on in extreme pain/disability) I'd probably be okay with it.

It should go without saying (or at least, I tell myself that it should) that I probably wouldn't be all that okay with it (or at least, I tell myself I wouldn't), but that's how I've been feeling about all this lately. Just don't really feel like doing it. Like doing any of it. So I haven't been writing.

Probably this is all the result of some minor depression, dysthymia I guess, that is sapping my will to live and write and listen to music, or possibly it's related to my paralyzing fear of decision-making and the accruement of additional debt and the idea that I will never figure out what to do with my life, never find the motivation to just, for God's sake, do something that will pay the bills, never again find the will to really live, and so on. I know that some days a beautiful flower is enough to keep me going, but other days, and all of them lately, it seems like nothing is enough.

It occurs to me that this might be remedied if I did x or y or z--if I went back to school and became a counselor, or if I fell in love, or if I have children someday--but I wonder whether any of that is actually true; whether any of it would actually work. Whether this all feels pointless because I am doing nothing that has any real purpose, or whether it feels pointless because the days are getting shorter, or because my brain or hormones are somehow otherwise unbalanced, and I need to correct the imbalance with some kind of dietary change or sleep schedule or scintillating, brilliant conversation (Anna, are you free?) or self-talk or therapy. This kind of depression can be difficult to address via emotional bootstrapping, which (in addition to the wait-it-out method) is the way I have handled just about every other depressive episode I have ever encountered, because it's just a general feeling of malaise. There are very few specific thought patterns to address, very few negative thought habits to replace with positive ones, and so on.

Or maybe I just need to look harder.