Monday, December 24, 2007

tea or sparkling wine

I was getting ready for bed in the bathroom this evening and there were a bunch of slips of paper in the waste bin so I pulled a couple of them out and read them. They were from a couple of summers ago, when j and c said that they thought we had a lot of grieving that we needed to do that we just never had done. So they put a box upstairs and when ever we thought of something or someone we missed or we were sad about or needed to grieve we put it in the box. One day we took out all of them and read them.

I pulled them out in handfulls and sat down and read all of them. They lay in a pile on my lap, all of these things and people and places. I thought of keeping them all but then it crossed my mind that maybe they should be in the waste bin.


Mum and I were talking the other day about how people can be screwed up by their pasts and how the devil can use things from the past to tell us lies about ourselves. She brought up, however, that if we have been bought by God and we have been told the truth about ourselves through the gospel then ulimately we have to choose who to listen to. There are, of course, things that we will always struggle with. But we have to decide if we are going to listen to the lies or listen to the truth.


It's Christmas Eve. This evening I was on a walk with one of my friends and Franko. Franko and I walked her home and then we ran back to the house. A few houses before ours lives a family who we are good friends with- I babysit their children all the time, mum is in a book club with the mother, Fiona, and Dad goes to Michael's whiskey tastings. When the immigration trouble came up Fiona (unknown to us) went and waited in line over half an hour to speak to our TD (like a senator) personally about our case.

I ran into them all trying to make it into the car to go to the Christmas Eve family mass. Sean was dressed up like a shepard, he busied himself trying to pet Franko. Niamh ran up to me (this is the first time I have seen them since being back) and shouted happily "I'm five now!" and as I commented on the pretty white angel dresses she and Jennifer were wearing, Jennifer (the youngest) yelled, "we're the same!" She was referring, of course, to the fact that she and Niamh were wearing the same costume, which in her mind means she is as big as Niamh. The whole encounter was quite typical, and as I hugged Fiona and continued to my door she told me I must call in soon for a cup of tea or sparking wine.


Well. I must go to sleep.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, goodnight.

Friday, December 21, 2007

marked my life

My first couple days here were spent sleeping and waiting for my luggage to arrive and watching films. Yesterday I broke out. I walked to dun loaghaire to shop, which is a few miles away, and it was a little bit of glory wrapped into an afternoon. The coolness of December, and with every street the buildings and statues and crossroads and shops that have marked my life. I hope I never live in a place where I give up walking.

Then last night I went to the carol service at my school, which was everything that going back to school is. Talking with teachers is so awkward, ultimately. I truely am very glad to see them, always. I loved most of my teachers a lot. And being in the school without a uniform makes me really feel like an adult. When I return somewhere, when I see people I haven't seen in a long time, I find myself irrepressably smiling. This is unusual for me. I can't stop it. So the most I have to offer my teachers is a huge grin and in some cases a hug and my college information. But then there isn't really much else to say. Nevertheless, it was very good to see them and speak to them. Two of my teachers are now dating. Creepy.

I sat with some of my school friends, though not the ones that I had class with (they did the Irish leaving cert rather than the ib.) I was struck by the religiosity of the service, even a little disturbed by it. There are readings from scripture and T.S. Eliot and Charles Dickens. We sit for the readings, stand for the singing, but when the headmaster Mr. G does his reading he says, "please stand for the gospel" when in actuality we stand for him, and everyone knows it. In the prayers we all stare forward, listening only.

The lovely Bono was of course there, in the row ahead of me.

Afterwards we went for drinks. At the old punch bowl, I realized I didn't have id with me and simultaneously realized it doesn't matter, there.

Afterwards we went for chips.

Afterwards I couldn't find the key that was left out for me, and had to ring j and wake him up.

It was pretty typical, all in all.

I am being a slackass in terms of waking up at a decent time. It isn't good. But I did thoroughly clean the kitchen today. I am going to make Christmas cookies in a few minutes.

Life is not perfect, though. Seeing people from school brings back lots of things. After we ran into another guy from school last night, I said, "being in IB is like being anonymous."

I am (not very thoroughly) reading Sex God by Rob Bell. Mostly because of the title. I am also about halfway through Ishmael, which I am very proud of myself for. Not because it is a hard read, but because it is a thought experiment for me that is having mixed results. There are some good ideas in it, and some that I find many problems with. Thanks to the creepy ginger guy I sat next to on the plane on the way here, I realize exactly the problems I have with it.

I am going to go now. Tonight I am going to the pub with people who are very dear to me, instead of babysitting, which I was going to do instead in order to get money. Then I realized how screwed up those priorities are.

And, on a topic somewhat unrelated to the rest of this post, dreams take a long time to die. So does idolatry. Sometimes it is quite hard to tell what is dream and what is idolatry.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

damn global warming. damn modernity.

Today I was talking to Natalie after poetry class ended and I realized... in two weeks I am going to be home. Home home home!

I was supposed to perhaps be going to Austria with my family at the end of the break but for a number of reasons I will be staying in Dublin with Abs and Giz when my parents and Rach leave in early January. I am quite content with this. As much as I do have the wanderlust there is still a big homebody in me that just wants to go out to my pubs and cook in my kitchen.

My childish love of Christmas wore off at twelve or thirteen, maybe. I dreaded My first Christmas in Ireland, except for wanting so badly to see Rachel. Christmas necessarily means nostalgia, I firmly believe, and the emptiness of starting over didn't allow for much nostalgia.

I enjoyed it, though. I was surprised that year to find I enjoyed my first Christmas holidays in Ireland. The next year I eagerly awaited it. And last year, the first year of my Diaspora (or the Diaspora on Diaspora) Christmas was defined purely by home. Christmas day seemed pointless because Christmas was when the fecking plane landed.

With that in mind, here are my top five Christmas songs, in no particular order. They are all good, in their own way.

1. Fairytale of New York, by the Pogues.

An Irish classic, it wants to be a part of your life, too.

2. Child in the Straw, by Leigh Nash.

Really beautiful lyrics. Yes, a song for crimbos but no, not a crimbo song.

3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings by the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan.

Easily downloadable (as all of these are. I don't see how one could not like this song, though.)

4. All I want for Christmas is you, by Mariah Carey.

Don't be a hater. It's a brilliant song. Just recognize it for what it is and move on.

5. Basically any version of "Sleigh Ride."

I have always wanted to ride in a sleigh, for real, with the horses and all the snow. I want to be going somewhere nice and be with someone nice. Damn global warming. Damn modernity.

Monday, December 3, 2007

but I haven't told you

I got a package today!

I had just found out that I left my lines for my oral presentation (that I had translated this morning into Arabic) in my Arabic recitation. And I was about to have to re-translate it all and then memorize it for tomorrow. I checked my e-mail just in case a classmate had picked it up and I had that beautiful e-mail from housing in my inbox.

I never get packages. But today I did. It was from my aunt. She isn't even my blood aunt, she's my mum's brother's wife. But she sent me a package. It is full of food that is bad for me, but that I love. Needless to say, my misery level went down about half a point.

But I haven't told you about the misery level index, have I?

I created this index the summer before we moved to Ireland, when I was spending six weeks out west camping with my family. The index helped me keep my misery in perspective and know when it was appropriate to get upset.

Here's how it works:

There are five points for physical discomfort and five points for emotional/mental discomfort. Ten points in total. But if you did ever reach ten points you would almost certainly be dead.

If you were lying in a ditch, limbs torn off, fleas crawling all over you, with the worst period cramps in the world and nothing bad was happening to you emotionally, you'd only reach five.

Likewise if you have 50 exams in the next week, you just found out your mom has been doing the duke blue devil mascot, and your boyfriend told you to lose weight, etc you could still only make it to five on the misery level index without having physical pain.

Usually, big problems count for about a point. Example: I have three exams and a paper due tomorrow. I'm puking.

Smaller problems are half a point. Example, I have twelve mosquito bites on my leg. I just realized that with my schedule I can't study abroad next semester.

Certain things become appropriate at different times. For example, once you reach a misery level of 4 it is appropriate to give a little yell. I did this multiple times throughout the summer, cramped in the minivan. Luckily my family knows the misery index now so that when I give my little yell they know I have reached 4.

I don't know if I have ever reached 6. If I did I was probably crying.

It is more common for me to compute it and get 2.5 or 3. Don't underestimate the misery of a 2.5 or 3, but ususally when I realize I am well under 4 and I could be as bad as 10 I calm down and get some perspective.

Try it. Compute your level now and put it in a comment.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I got my ass out of the kitchen

Today at small group we talked about confrontation. Confrontation is strange, counter-intuitive really, entering into someone else's life and pointing out to them damaging behaviour, or allowing someone else to enter into my life.

It is funny but sometimes I crave confrontation for my life. Ashleigh asked us if we could think of times when we were confronted.

Shortly after we had moved to Ireland (and by shortly I mean maybe two weeks) I went to a party at the house of our friends Nat and Wes. Nat and Wes lived with us in America before they moved to Ireland, and their son Eli was born while they were living with us. As a result I was quite close with them. During the evening there were a lot of people I didn't know around, and rather than mingle and introduce myself to them I naturally found myself playing with Eli in the kitchen most of the time. I felt pretty good about the fact that I was giving Natalee and Wes a break.

At one point a couple hours in Wes came into the kitchen and said to me, "Emily, I'll take Eli, you should go into the other rooms and talk to people."

"No worries," I said, "I'm happy to watch Eli."

Then he told me not to hide behind Eli and use playing with Eli as an excuse not to engage with people.

I was surprised at first, but along with feeling minorly affronted I really felt cared for, it really impacted me that he would notice my self-protective pattern and have the boldness to point out to me the ways I was hiding behind a two year old.

Honestly, even if I had noticed on my own what I was doing I probably would not have changed it. But when I was confronted by Wes with my coping mechanisms you can bet I got my ass out of the kitchen and met some people.

We could stand to get out of ourselves a little more and intervene for each other, I think.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It only works to a certain point

The amount of introvert time I have is directly proportional to how much I blog.

A family friend of ours, who is Irish, asked me if I thought American students (i.e. myself) felt a lot of pressure to study hard and thoroughly because our parents (or some other source) pay for our education. At the time of answering I said that American middle class students often see it as a given that their parents will do whatever they can to pay for college.

But this afternoon I was thinking about my education and the fact that when I was born my grandfather set aside a small sum of money that would go towards my education. For some reason knowing that my grandfather did this makes me more conscious of the value of this education I am building.

I feel I am at a strange point of redefinition, or definition.

I wrote the following in an e-mail to my mother this morning:

I realized, remembered last night that I used to be considered artistic. Always, growing up, I was considered artistic. I considered myself so, even. I have been clinging to the rational side of myself, the thinking part, so much that I don't know what happened to the other part of me. It is hard to know how to get it back and develop it. I suppose I have sort of reclaimed it, through poetry, but poetry seems really rational to me a lot of the time, at least with the way that I write. I think being artistic scares me because what happens when the art doesn't come anymore? What happens when you don't know where the next poem, the next piece of choreography will come from? I don't know.

I wrote her a lot of things, actually, and she wrote me back some more things. This is unrelated to the excerpt I printed that I wrote her (I think), but here is part of what she wrote me back (in relation to something else I wrote her), I there is a lot of wisdom in it:

We so prefer to sing things rather than to live them. "From life's
first cry, to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny." Am I really
willing to submit to him commanding my destiny? Do I really trust him
with my life circumstances? Believe that all will work together for
good? That my pain matters to him and he collects my tears in a
bottle? Do I believe that he will take care of my kids or my extended
family for that matter? That his heart for me is better than mine is
for myself? Is the destiny that he has for me good enough or am I
convinced that something else will satisfy my soul?

Will he satisfy? Does he satisfy now? Maybe if we ask him he will speak to these questions.

On a different note, the past few weeks have been Tracy Chapman, Loretta Lynn, the Cranberries, three very good choices to background my life. But my mother's third daughter sent me four new bands today... and the prospects look good.

I like chocolate. But it only works to a certain point. I need more things in my life. This is what I told Brittany last night after dancing to about eight songs in her dorm room and collapsing to the floor. I also told her that I don't like reading as much as I should, as much as I would like to. And that she should never let me marry someone who won't dance with me to Kanye when I turn him on. (Kanye that is. Or the man. Whatever.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

yes I do have car insurance

I recieved the following e-mail from my father's youngest daughter today:

I'm finding it simply impossible to send you an interesting fact every day because i don't know very many :)
i can't wait until you come for Christmas! we'll have to make loads and loads of food and watch films! yay!
tell Rachel and Brittany and Julia and Brooke and Abby farrson (sic) i say hi! :)
I'm miss you bunches!
love love love
your intimidatingly beautiful sister

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

because we failed them by our disregard

Some lovely things that happened today:

1) Brittany found me sleeping in the study room this morning at 7.30 am (I was studying really late last night and realized I was locked out of my room). She brought me to her bed and I slept there-- it smelled like her and like Friday afternoons, post Econ quiz, when I often come and get on her bed and relax into the weekend. I got to sleep a half hour there, so warm.

2) When I returned from dinner this evening and from meeting my disciplees, I found a plate of hummous and pita bread on my bed, that my dear roomie brought me from the meeting she attended.

3) I cut the first pomegranate that I bought Monday. The firm little beads are waiting in my fridge for granola tomorrow morning.

4) I slept for an hour and a half this afternoon, and before I fell asleep I had a few minutes of clarity, in which I was able to speak to God rationally (this has not been the case for a couple of days.)

I must be a fairly primative being. Most of these good things in my day centered around food and sleep.

I was talking to rachel this afternoon, and we both agreed on a very relevant quote from Train, things are going to work somehow/if I just sleep another hour.

< > < > < >

Yesterday evening I went to a documentary about children in the Palestinian region Jenin. A large proportion of suicide bombers are from Jenin, and much violence is brought there by the Israeli army. The documentary followed several children, showing them when they were 12 or 13 in a theatre club in the area and then in their early twenties as part of the resistance against the occupation.

The main question that left me disturbed and puzzling was what should be done with the anger of the children. The theatre camp taught them to express anger through art and drama-- this is a nice idea but watching the footage it looked like the adults involved were almost encouraging the childrens' anger.

But as was brought up in the discussion of the documentary by students afterward, anger is there regardless. When your house is destroyed, when family members are killed, you become angry. If this all happens when you are very small, the anger is built into you. The anger must come out, so why not encourage it to come out in a setting where no one gets hurt?

I remember going to a "take back the night" rally on campus last spring. The speaker was addressing victims of sexual abuse and rape and she said, "don't let people tell you not to be angry. That jerk took something from you and you can't get it back. Let yourself be angry. The anger is good. It will drive you to succeed. Embrace your anger."

I agree that in such a situation anger is appropriate, but embrace it? Call it good? Seek success through it? Sounds like bondage.

The way the children in the film avoided the eyes of the interviewers, didn't look at the camera... the bondage was clearly there.

Yet let all things go free that have survived.

Let the smells of mint go heady and defenceless
Like inmates liberated in that yard.
Like the disregarded ones we turned against
Because we failed them by our disregard.

(Seamus Heaney, Mint)

Monday, October 22, 2007

go find a camel

Even with the stress that comes from studying Arabic, I don't mind it. There is an element of preparing for quizes and midterms and finals that I love-- as I go over material, as I learn grammar and memorize verbs and charts I begin to own them. Each time I go back to review a set of words or a grammatical structure I make them more irrevocably mine.

The Arabic language is an immense pile of sand before me and as I study it I separate spoonfuls from the edges and draw them towards me. I capture them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

pollinate safely

Walking back to the dorm tonight Brittany and I were arguing about the condoms in the vending machine downstairs and whether or not they are free. Brittany said they cost a dollar, I was pretty sure they didn't cost anything.

The way I see it housing should be begging me to have safe sex just like every other para-student organization on campus. They should be throwing free stuff at me so I'll have safe sex. Heck, I almost expect cash. Why should I have to pay for a condom?

When I was in the laundery room about an hour ago I checked and they don't even have condoms in the machine right now.

What is this dorm coming to?

Watch this space, as soon as I find out the price of condoms downstairs you'll know too.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

good things/war dreams

Oh, how I needed the relaxation that came this weekend.

Today I was thinking that there is no garuntee that I am going to get what I see as "good things" in my life--exotic and interesting experiances, travels, a rich (no, not wealthy) marriage, a fulfilling job with a lot of authority, creativity, etc. I know that I am promised good things, but none of these are necessarily on the list.

This sprung from me thinking about home, or the lack thereof, the past few days.

Last night I was talking to a friend whose parents are divorced and she said,
"sometimes I don't feel like I have a right to be upset about it any more."
And then she said,
"But it is just so fundamental."

I knew what she meant, thinking about my life. I don't know if it should be so disconcerting not to have one place that is totally my home but then, it is just such a fundamental part of my life that is missing.

I know that Jesus had no home, this is made clear in the gospels. I know that earth is not my home. I know that God's kingdom transcends home, transends one particular place. Somedays this feels like just another Sunday School lesson (to be learnt while eating animal crackers--best snack ever) and sometimes this is Hope.

I don't have a home garunteed in my future.

So what are the good things I am promised? What exactly is living water?

This is what I am wondering, what I want to pay more attention to. What good things does God want to give to me? What does he value?

* * *

So I'm not sure if this is normal or not but sometimes I have war dreams. I dream that I am going into battle and I am really worried that I will be "cowardly" and hide/run away. Sometimes in my dream I stay and fight and sometimes I don't. Sometimes the setting looks a lot like war movies and sometimes it looks like Dorothy and her friends breaking into the wicked witch of the west's castle.

Here are other types of dreams I have (non-inclusive, of course):
1. Dancing dreams
a. I don't know the choreography
b. I suck
These are unhappy dreams. I usually feel guilty for a while afterwards that I am not in as good dancing shape as I used to. Catherine says she dreams that she falls.
2. Baby dreams
a. I have a baby
b. I adopt a baby
Strangely enough, these are often very happy dreams. sometimes/often I have/adopt babies of other races. Ususally I am unmarried but one time I dreamed I had the baby the day of my wedding.
3. Snake dreams
a. lots of snakes
b. one big snake
These have happened since I was a small small child and used to scare me a lot. Luckily nowdays nothing at all scares me but these dreams are still unpleasant.
4. Flying dreams.
I like these probably the best. In my dreams flying involves pushing off of trees every now and again or giant bounds off of the ground. Great fun. Should be every night.
5. Family change dreams
a. mum dies.
b. we trade giz for another small girl
c. mum and dad decide to move to england
d. my cousin dates a 50 year old.
These are generally bad.

I like most dreams. I also like eating before I go to bed. This is a good combination.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

make it new

Frisbee was wonderful tonight.

I don't like not knowing where the next poem is going to come from. Last year we had to memorize all kinds of quotes like, "you are a literary workman, and ought to work every day" (I've forgotten) and "I am at my desk at 7:00 every morning and it is the muse's business to be there" (Flannery O'Connor).

But, as Abby was saying to me yesterday, when do thoughts become art? "Concentration is of the essence of poetry" (Les Imagistes) and "make it new" (Ezra Pound). There is a pounding, a trimming, a changing, a rephrasing that happens. The poetry is the communication of the idea...and I wonder if every idea can be communicated, if every idea can be made into art.

A girl in my class whose work I respect said yesterday that she thinks men are generally better poets because they don't rely on drama as much--don't have to write about cancer and being left and domestic violence, but can write about every day life and... "make it new."

I remember how Mr. Minick explained poetry to us, when he showed us the William Carlos Williams poem about the wheelbarrow-- "a poet is someone who looks at the ordinary and pulls the extraordinary from it." I suppose this is the definition of an artist. The poet does it with language, concentrates it.

But what are all these definitions, when you sit down with a laptop or a blank notebook and must write? What do they mean as you struggle to make your thoughts into art?

This is enough. The poem for tomorrow is written, I am safe for another week.

Someone on our hall keeps stocking the bathrooms with Bath and Bodyworks moisturizing hand soap. I thought it was a welcome back to school guesture, but just as the peach is running out sweet pea has arrived on the scene. These little things are like manna from heaven.

In further news, every time I come in the dorm I am now greeted by a flyer depicting a cartoon of a bride and a groom. The bride has faked an orgasm and is thinking how well she has done. The groom is thinking about how well he must have done to get such a reaction. Yay for campus housing events.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

fragile citadels of love

My dog has been a monster today, but now he is curled up by my legs with his head resting by my knee. I am tired and trying to remember if there was anything I had to say.

I don't mean to keep going back to Wexford, but there was a man there that I noticed standing out on the footpath by the street on the first day I was in town. By his clothes and general appearance I guessed he was probably North African. I thought he was waiting for a bus, but later I have realized that there wasn't really a bus system in Wexford. I don't know what he was doing. I saw him probably every other day after that. One day, while walking from our housing estate to another, I passed him and his wife on the road... she was wearing a veil that covered all but her eyes with bright pink flowers on it. They were just standing together, again looking like they needed a bus. Like they were waiting for something, or someone.

They've been coming up in my mind ever since, so that I want to write about them, write a poem like I wrote about Natasha last spring. But sometimes poems are closure for me. While I was working in (a really rough public housing estate outside my city) last summer every night after I had caught my bus back to the city and had my hot dinner and slipped into my bed I would think about what it would be like to live there, I would be haunted at the thought of climbing those manky stairwells everyday, the thought of living in a place that smelled like feces, coming home in the evenings to a cramped living space with seven brothers and sisters and no dad and unemployment and addiction and the darkness that is everywhere. After my week was up I would still think about Natasha here and there, and try to pray for her.

But writing about her helped. Trying to capture her essence through a snapshot, creating a picture that could take on a life of its own and exist independantly of Natasha for whoever had never seen her or those manky stairwells, listening to my class full of first-year poetry students discuss her and all I had done to recreate her-- that brought some closure. I still think about her and pray for her sometimes, but I feel less of an urgency surrounding her.

I don't want closure on that man and that woman. I don't want to stop thinking about them, because they looked so... lost, so lonely, and I can't imagine what it would be like to be Muslim, North African, old, and an immigrant to Wexford.

There is hope for them, whether they know it or not. If I was still there I would lead them to my house and make them tea and whatever they wanted, maybe a four-layer chocolate cake. I would listen to anything they wanted to tell me, I would ask all about where they were coming from and where they are wanting to go and I would arrange to meet them soon and help them around their house and I would send them home with the rest of the chocolate cake.

Maybe there is hope for me, too, that I will do this sort of thing in the future. Faith without deeds is dead, so James is telling me at the moment. My heart is expanding to hold these people and others-- my home must, too. And by must I mean will. My heart doesn't expand beyond myself easily, so when it does it must be for a reason.

"...Still, I think I know
what it is like to live
in an alien and gigantic universe, a stranger,
building fragile citadels of love
on the edge of danger."

(James L. Rosenberg, from "Wasp's Nest")

Sunday, July 15, 2007

woke me up

Last Sunday at the church where I was working a woman got up to introduce the service. She mentioned how hard it was to get up in front of everyone. I was getting ready to do the kid's spot for the service, so I thought "I feel you sister" as I checked to make sure the construction paper vine was under my chair to help me illustrate John 15:5. Deirdre said that's what she wanted to talk about-- the fact that it is hard to get up in front of people at church and talk. She said while she was planning her talk she tried to think why it was so hard, when she realized--

"My sin. My sin is why I get self conscious. I feel unworthy of being up here. But the truth is that I can be, because God forgives me." She became choked up and had to sit down to read the scripture.

And then a lot of things melted away very very quickly. I was nervous about getting up because I didn't want to stumble over my words and feel silly, I didn't want to suddenly get self concious while addressing the church and then start talking in an unnatural voice. I didn't want to look stupid. I wasn't concerned with my sins. In fact, while I was even planning to talk about my sins and how God can grow fruit out of them, my sin was in fact the fartherest thing from my mind or cares.

Sometimes it takes someone with a really soft heart to show me how hard and proud and self focused mine is. And then I see what it really means to be part of a body. When I hear that passage, (the one about being a body) or when I hear it preached on, I usually think of one person doing maintainance for the church, one making the traybakes for after the service, one preaching, one praying, one looking after the money.

Maybe that is a small part of it, but I think it is only a small part. I don't think the eye vacuums the church and the nose sits at the guestbook. I think the eye shows humility and brokenness on a regular sunday morning and as a result the nose sits and repents.

Roughly related--- so I've had a sore throat and although I am feeling much better now, it was really painful to swallow for a while. I've been in a lot of discussions recently about women preaching and being elders and deaconesses and stuff like that. So the other night I dreamt that I was going to a church that was "really progressive in its views on women and what they are allowed to do" and as I result I was given a very important job--to do all the swallowing for everyone in the church. I profusely thanked the leadership, knowing it was an honor to be given such a job as a woman, but I tensed up my body to get through the first swallow. Which woke me up.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

the back of my hand

I have been listening to Over the Rhine the past couple of days, particularly the song "Ohio"

I know Ohio/like the back of my hand

and it struck me that I don't know anywhere like the back of my hand, and I probably won't ever in the future, either. This is not just due to a migratory lifestyle: the fact that I was born without any inner map or sense of direction doesn't help much. But I would like to know the layout of a place so well, and I am a little sad that I won't.

I made samboosak tonight for dinner. Cooking samboosak gives me a sense of satisfaction-- I feel like I have made something when I see the cresents piled on a platter with the skins bubbly and golden.

I also found out this evening that I am maybe (probably?) lactose intolerant, which doesn't really matter that much because I don't drink milk anyhow. It just explains why I feel ill after drinking hot chocolate or taking milk in my tea. Ice cream is worth a tummyache any way.


So Encounter was good, really good. It was needed and I grew, I was stretched. But I think I knew from near the beginning this summer that my time for Encounters was running out. That feels right but sad, also.

and it's strange to see your story end

(To get back to Ohio, by Over the Rhine. And funnily enough I got an e-mail just now telling me they are playing Armagh of all places in late August. But that is how things go-- I miss Anna while she is in America and then again when she is in Dublin. I miss a very important wedding between two very important people in late September. Such is life when you live between two places.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

This city must belong to someone...

I began this and then went away from Dublin for four weeks, the first two of which I had way too much to process and the second two of which I don't have internet. I'm paying way too much for internet as I type.

I am in the South East of Ireland at the moment, working for a small church doing youth work and supporting the body in whatever way I can.

Today was a day off and I went power walking which turned into a run and then I accidentally ran into Wexford town. I was wanting to pray and process on my run and was a little disappointed to end up in the city where I would have to slow down physically and mentally. (Although once I was here I was able to get internet.)

And then I thought, "can I find God in the city?" and I know the answer is yes, but I think I find different things about Him.

I used to hate cities because they intimidated me. The first big city I ever went to was Boston. I was eleven and I counted down the hours until we left.

But I remember running on the beach during spring break this year and seeing how beautiful the sea was and thinking, "I love the sea, why don't I write poetry about the sea?"

Then I realized that the best poems I had written all semester were from city scenes. God is surprising. I always loved the country best and yet my muse is the city.

I don't have enough money with me to write more.

But Nick, I will answer your question here once I think about it more.

(Title: Tift Merrit, I think)

Monday, June 4, 2007

There is no introduction, only a beginning.

There is a couple from the sending center visiting at the moment. We had dinner with them last night--Becca came too-- and it was everything a dinner should be--good food, good wine, chocolate, and finished with several different whiskeys and hours and hours of conversation.

I love these dinners, when we sit down at seven and don't get up again for good until after ten. The ministry of hospitality makes me cringe a bit, but I like the ministry of dinners, and of congregating in the kitchen while they are prepared.

But anyhow, the important part isn't really what is consumed (except maybe the whiskey). Last night we talked about lots of things but one of the more interesting topics that came up was what clips from films have most affected us or have stood out to us. Ruth Anne mentioned the scene where Arwen says to Aragorn "I am the better rider" and out rides those big black dementor-type things (I'm clearly not a good nerd because I don't know all the nuances of LOTR and what those things are called) to save Frodo. Ruth Anne said it incapsulates everything she wants to be in a woman and now I am thinking I need to go back and watch that clip. Dad--or mum--I can't remember, because the three of us all love the clip-- mentioned the scene in Emma when Mr. Knightly confronts her for being mean to Miss Baits. Mama and I had been talking about that clip just last week--how Mr. Knightly is not afraid to confront her, how he loves her as she is but also sees who she can be and wants her to grow to be that person.

Forget Mr. Darcy, why do women obsess about him? Mr. Knightly is a man worth having.

Anyhow, I brought up the scene from Mystic River near the end where Sean Penn's character is clearly bothered by his own horrendous actions and his wife eases his guilty conscience by straddling him and saying, "'s like I told the girls. Their Daddy is a King. And a King knows what to do and does it." It is a really sick picture of a woman supporting her husband in whatever he does. It made me recoil as I watched. It was brilliant.


I don't like verbally affirming people. Usually when I do it I feel horrible about an hour later and wish it had never happened. I often avoid interaction with the person involved for a short while after. I'm not sure if this is a problem or not but I will look into it further.


After yelling at our puppy Franko for attempting a romantic episode with the manky green blanket he drags around I said,

"Franko, it's either sex or food for you. You are always in pursuit of these, and if you can't have one you retreat to the other. You have issues."

"Actually," commented someone else in the room, "I think he is pretty normal. Sounds like average, run-of-the-mill behaviour."


That's all.