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)