Saturday, December 26, 2009


Well, Christmas. Much more real than Thanksgiving, but still nice. Good to know that real life in regard to my family can be manageable and can be good. Something to be thankful for. I don't think I'll write a very Christmas-y post, or a happy birthday Jesus post, but there's this: if he came to save me, if he forgave me, then I must be nothing but thankful and repentant and myself forgiving. If he can forgive me, then I should ask for forgiveness, both from my God and my family, the people it's hardest with. I should be quick to turn back, even if it feels too late--"maybe forgiveness is right where you fell." And those are hard things coming, I'll tell you, but I don't think I feel the desperate need for Christ so strongly in anything else. I am rebellious and independent by nature, and arrogant, oh man, but I need my God and he's good at showing me that and then being right there for me. If it's ever going to work, my family loving one another, then God's got to be the absolute nexus of it, he's got to be the one doing it through us, we've got to learn to let his hand be the one reaching out to each other. There's something good in this, and it's God. It's hearing my mom talk about praying for people, having a half hour discussion over the phone with her about different things in the Bible, about God. It's little places like that with Josh. All three of us believe in God, but there's a small feeling of the beginnings of it being less individual, more familial--the three of us seeking God together, calling each other to that. That would be wonderful. There's hope in that.

The drive home was strange in a very detached sort of way. Sometimes I get the feeling that I'm just watching things, that I'm separate from the things going on. It's usually only for a little bit, and then I lurch back in all of a sudden--anyway, I felt like I was driving through a movie on the way home, something American Beauty-esque. I had the soundtrack to Garden State playing (and I have a whole blog planned about that planned, so if I ever get to it...), if you haven't heard it, think acoustic folk, really chill. And then I saw a pair of pants on the side of the road. Love it, hilarious. But then, two or three minutes later, I started seeing all these clothes scattered across the highway, tossing all limp in the blow-rush of cars passing by. I can't think of the right verb to describe this--imagine a puppet, its movements, careless. The plastic bag from American Beauty, the way the wind floats it, except clothes, red and blue and this purple long sleeve thing that ripped in the slipstream past my windshield, sleeves thrashing and waving.

I wanted to catch them, but I was watching the colors toss through the air around me, some dream of childhood, laundry hung out on the line meshed with the improbability of driving this machine rocketing down a stretch of asphalt. Imagine kites, between cars, and rushing road sound. Flying home.

Monday, December 21, 2009


We drove back from 'Nam last night so I could work tomorrow morning, and somewhere in the back-road stretch between there and home, sometime around three in the morning, I was looking out the window and surprise. Sky full of stars. I forget sometimes about how when you're in the country you see so many more stars. In high school I always told myself I'd move back to the country when I grew up, somewhere really out in the middle of nowhere and sleep out in the middle of a field if I wanted where the sky looked like a city lit up at night. I feel kind of silly writing about stars. I just forget about that kind of thing living in the city.

I want to live somewhere one day where I don't have to have a car. I want to spend time in the mountains in the summer, climbing things and seeing the stars where there aren't any lights around. And live near a port, near the ocean. What I'm really saying is a mix of the places I've lived and spent time in which makes total sense, sort of like saying I'd live in the country when I always had. Well, I can't really fit all the places I want to live in one place, but, well--yes, I'd like not to have to own a car. To get around the city on public transit and walking, and to be able to visit the country sometimes. Anything more specific, well I don't know, but I like the movement. And I want to always be caught by surprise when I look at the sky at night.

I'm sitting here watching Julie & Julia with my roommate, every so often parroting the things the French women are saying in English, so that what you see is me with all bundled up and beanied, laptop balanced on top of two blankets, me saying there! (theh-ul) sure! (shu-ul) with! (wheesze) but I am helping! (el-peeng) I love this.

It's just cold enough that I'm almost too warm underneath all the bundling and my fingertips and nose are cold and I'm thinking that hanging out here writing is a nice way to spend a Sunday night.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

lux, lucis

There two things about snow, for me: first, I've seen it. Not a lot, but I've seen it. Second, I have no idea at all how to dress properly for it and while I can't go outside more a minute while it's snowing without my whole body shaking, it is pretty. I like the ice, most. It's only raining here but if you go outside it still smells like snow, like something--maybe the ice?--sharp, defined lines, something cold and precise. I like the way, after snow or ice when the sun comes, everything is so clear, crystalline. Same as after hurricanes, except then it's warm and muggy, but clear, nothing left at all but swept-away sky.

I'm hoping for a little snow while we're in St. Louis, but there's a bit of apprehension mingled in there as well, as checking tells me the first day we're there it'll be twenty-eight degrees. The high, that is, meaning it'll probably be below twenty at night and I'm afraid I am a southern, warm-weather creature and when the air isn't thick I feel like I'm moving through things too quickly. And that's on top of being cold, of course.

Funny thing is that we don't use our heat. It's sixty-one in here now, but I've mastered the art of several blankets, sweats and the heater couch. Were I outside in sixty-one degree weather--well, maybe high fifties--and were there the slightest bit of wind I guarantee you I'd be cold. I swear it's a mental thing--in my own house (not at work, mind you) I can deal with extreme-ish temperatures (once more, all this being relative and fairly American, all this in reference to the use of central air and heat). In the coldest part of our admittedly mild winter, if it's thirty-five outside it'll get down to about fifty in the house, maybe a bit below during the night, but that's not till late January, early February. When we were kids it would get colder living in a trailer that wasn't insulated and gas way too expensive, and I remember getting dressed in the morning and being able to see my breath. My point is that, despite complaining, I can deal with the cold inside without a problem, but outside, I'm telling you. Drops below sixty and I'm shivering.

Part of me likes it all, though. I remember spending Christmas Eve my freshman year outside on my god-sister's porch listening to music and writing and my fingertips were so red and cold I could barely move them, but Christmas lights look different when it's that cold. They're pretty from the car, but feel warmer, more Christmas-y when the parts not bundled up are cold. Cold nose, cold fingertips, snow on your cheeks when you look up if you're really lucky.

Mmm, I'm just thinking. It's winter in, what, three days now? Already? Winter feels to me the same way black and white photographs do, that timeless feel about them. I suppose the connection there is a clear enough one. Everything's frozen. And it's like a picture in winter, still and clear and I can feel every little thing, none of the sluggishness of stewing, east coast heat. I'm thinking words with Latin roots to do with light--lucent, luminous, luz, lumin
. Lucid.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

habakkuk 1:5

I'm sitting here listening to music on shuffle, and just now Chris Tomlin's song God of This City just started to play, and my stomach is somewhere by my feet. I don't think I've heard this song since I used it in a slideshow I made for fundraising for the Romania trip, and while Mighty to Save was the song I first associated with all of that, I don't know. It's the words, it's the sounds of a song I haven't heard since before I went, when that country was to me some pictures I'd found on google and what I imagined cities post-Communism to be like, mostly images from We the Living. I didn't know that country, and still I don't, but what I did know was completely intangible because what's a statistic numbering Evangelical Christians in Romania next to a group of Romanian students singing out to God because they love him, because they only want give glory to him?

This is messy, it's not well-articulated or punctuated, but I'm thinking of how I saw God moving in those students, in a church in Bucharest, and the words are exactly it. "You're the God of this city, you're the King of these people, you're the Lord of this nation." And "for greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city."

"There is no one like our God."

There's a verse I read earlier today and I've been sending it to everyone, and it's amazing how it's exactly this: "Look at the nations and watch--and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days you would not believe, even if you were told." Hab. 1:5

If there's one thing God continues to do, no matter what my situation is, it's amaze me. Just blow me away. He's always doing it, and sometimes all I can do is sit there and turn my hands out and think, whoa. This is a God who loves his children. Who's promised them hope and a future, who hides them in the shadow of his hand. Really, there is no one like our God.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

we're back (like the dinosaur movie, but really only sarawr and singular)

Well, I am back. And it is about time. For me, I mean. Creature of habit, as always, just got out of the habit of writing in the middle of all the exams and didn't really get back in. But anyway, hop back on, or something like that.

November was a bit of an experiment. The initial idea was to write every day of the month, just to see if I could. And at first it went great--turns out length for me is more an issue of will, up until a certain point, and as always a bit of discipline does wonders. Who knew? But then it got weird and emo, and after the second or third time missing I decided, well I can't go every day now, and let myself not keep up. Here I'm reading way too much into this, but that makes sense considering everything to do with grace as of late, but I am learning, and it is good, and with any luck, that'll come in future posts. I kind of feel weird about following a month of a ton of productivity with a month of a lack of it, but all reading into things aside, how about I just write this post?

The only thing that really comes immediately to mind is that I switched my facebook (which I will be giving up around New Years for a yet to be determined period of time) into Romanian sometime during exams, and I'll tell you what, that has been an adventure. Facebook's buggy, as always, and at first it was this really strange hybrid between Spanish (it's been in Spanish for about a year now) and English and Romanian. Now the Spanish has mostly gone away, but it still alternates between the English and the Romanian--one day one part will be one language, and the next it'll be the other. And then the Romanian keeps changing. For example, the like button--one day it'll say imi place (I like) and the next it'll say iti place (you like) which does make sense, depending on from whose perspective you're saying it (either I'm saying I like it, therefore clicking the button, or they're asking me if I like it, and then I click the button).

I love to do this sort of thing though, with anything at all I do things repetitively on. My old roommate or someone switched my phone into Portuguese and, because at first I couldn't figure out how and later I was too lazy, for three months I would substitute the Portuguese (kind of like the 'I me gusta'ed his status' thing from before) within regular English rules, all American sounding and everything. That said, the temptation to not do away with facebook for a while lies in the exposure to Romanian, and for that reason I still may not do it--I could flip through the New Testament I have, but it's really just not as effective, even if I'm doing it parallel to the English, which--

Cool word thing. So the other night I was hanging out on biblegateway and I looked up Isaiah 43 in Romanian and I know it fairly well in English--not well enough to quote it or anything, but to guess along, follow along, figure it out with some of the Romanian (with my Bible open beside me to for real follow along, of course), and anyway. I came across the word martorii, and I thought, huh, that looks a little like martyr. And I never knew this until I read the beginning of this book by Richard Wurmbrand (who, ironically, was a Romanian Jew), but martyrs, witnesses--well, I'll do a bad job of explaining it but they're pretty synonymous. And so when I saw martorii, between context and what I'm assuming is a common Latin root, I thought it could be witnesses, and sure enough it was. And that's pretty much the coolest word thing I've come across lately.

There's some other stuff too, but I can't think of any of it right now. Looking forward to getting back into the habit of this. Until then--

Monday, December 14, 2009

the cutest little boy you ever did see

because look at that face.

(regular posting should resume forthwith)

Sunday, December 6, 2009


"I feel that I am coming closer to God. Nowadays, I write to bring others along."

Thursday, December 3, 2009


It's seventy degrees outside and nearly midnight and it's the second of December. And the weather is something crazy, words like tumultuous, tempest, tempestuous coming to mind. I stood on my doorstep a couple of hours ago, hanging onto the doorknob and crowding against the door in an effort not to get wet--I have to go outside to talk on my phone--and I watched the pines toss in the wind and street light. It's like a tropical storm out there, all day long the rain flying every way but up, rising any way you look at it. A boy beside me in class today turned to me and told me just been put under a flood warning, and now I look and see we're under a tornado watch.

That old wives tale, the one that says if it lightnings it winter it'll snow two weeks later--well, funny thing is, it's not quite winter and it feels like a June night out there. Last night, walking around outside Barnes & Noble after my thesis reading, I stood shivering. And already it feels tropical again. I'll miss it here, little things like this. I'm more than excited about going wherever I'll be going, and the thing about being from somewhere is that it shapes the new places a bit. If ever again I am standing in Bucharest during the summer, the humidity will draw me back home. And here, the moon bright white and full as an ocean, above the tree line and the sky all the way dark at barely five, I'm wondering how early it's getting dark in the Apuseni Mountains.

I was sitting on my couch earlier, reading through our class anthology, and I think about how much places shape our lives. How much our lives are shaped, period, by the things that move in and out of them. I was never really sure before, but I do feel like I'm from somewhere now. And when I stand in the speckled shade of pines, even the way their bark looks and feels, these layered things shaped like countries in Europe or Africa, I remember growing up and corn fields, tobacco fields, cotton on the side of the road like snow. The openness of the rural south, of eighty years ahead of you you never thought about.

When it rains like this, and I don't have anywhere to go, I want to stand in it. I want to walk barefoot through the puddles in the parking lot, disregarding what might be in them and just cold water on my feet, water that might have risen from the Pacific before falling on me, for all I know. And what about Noah, before him when there was no rain? I'm not writing about hope, I'm writing about feeling like part of the same humanity as someone I've never met, because maybe I've shared a few ounces of the same water with them. Or about finding pieces of home everywhere you go, wondering that when I close my eyes, there is no difference.

Once I wrote about how on top of Monserrate, Bogotá sounded like the ocean, and how there was a smell in Mexico that reminded me of Colombia. I'm starting to wander now, just writing without being too sure of where I'm going. There's this, though: right now, if I went outside and did exactly what I said, stood barefoot in the street in the rainwater, it could be the night the tropical storm came a year and a few months ago. It feels no different outside to me. And all this connectedness, all these pieces that look so much like one another, how it stretches across decades or days--here's the leap, will it work?--I come to this: we are eternal beings. Of course. It's in our nature.

We have calendars, we denote time, but if I didn't know anything about keeping track of it, a song I last heard three years ago that I listened to this morning, that brought me right back to an exact moment I hadn't thought of since, and all the things I felt then returned as well, then I understand that the barrier of time really isn't a barrier at all. And in fact the barrier is being a created and eternal thing within a temporary body and world. We stretch beyond this.

Here I am just thinking again. I don't know how I wound up here. I was just going to write about the rain. But I think if you look very closely at things, the evidence of an eternal God is overwhelming. The more I start to think about this, flawed as my reasoning and understanding surely is, the other side of the equals sign maintains, and if that's what it points me toward, God that is, then I'm happy to walk that way.