Thursday, October 25, 2007


Hugo Schwyzer regularly posts short poems, which I sometimes read and sometimes skip - today's caught me rather deeply, so I'm sharing it here.

Termination for Cause

I had thought the terms of our agreement
Were quite clear.
You were to provide me length of days,
Model children by a docile wife, support for same;
Keep far away all disaster man-made
Or act of your own.
And a death if not quite painless
At least sudden, without humiliation.
I in turn would confess You Creator
Of all things seen and unseen, offering customary
Praise and adoration.
Regarding line four above
Your performance has been marginal at best,
And I have now confirmation
From two physicians
Of what I must deem willful disregard
As to length of days and dying.
I therefore recognize no further obligation whatsoever
To provide the aforesaid praise, etc.
Or, indeed, to acknowledge Your existence.
Any further communication should be directed
To my counsel,
Who assures me that he knows You
from of old.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


*I've written a couple of pages today, and the paper's not due till Sunday. Maybe it's indulgent, but I don't feel the need to write any more tonight, especially since I've pretty much saved my weekend for writing it. (Though I should remember that I don't really have much time on Sundays for schoolwork, between possibly-double church and Top Model.)

*I have class tomorrow, but no reading for it; I have class Monday, but I've done the reading, because it's also for the paper.

*I finished season 5 of Buffy today and don't have season 6 yet. (Besides, I kind of want to sit with the end of season 5 a little.)

*I don't need to do my household chores until the weekend.

*I finished a (short YA) novel today while procrastinating on the paper. This means I've now read through most of the unfamiliar YA novels I've stumbled on in the house.

*I already made and ate a real dinner tonight (pierogies with sausage, onion, and peas).

*I've read blogs - and now I've even blogged.

*I've answered my emails.

*My roommates aren't home, and will likely go to bed or homework when they do get home.

Which leaves me with, um, time to myself. Should I start watching Angel? Should I wander around in search of a new book? (Note to self: need new fiction from public library.) Should I pick up my guitar? My knitting? Scrapbooking? I suppose I could do one of the things that always needs doing: extra housecleaning, thesis research, laundry, raking leaves (ok, maybe not in the dark, but it does need doing an awful lot). It's so rare, though, that I have this kind of time to myself, and I really only have an hour or two before it begins to be bedtime. Maybe I'll pour myself a glass of something and wander around the house until I see something interesting....

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Five: Food

1. If you were a food, what would you be?
Tater tot. Small, delicious, potato, goes well with anything...

2. What is one of the most memorable meals you ever had? And where?
There are a few good options - Easter dinner at Green Zebra, dorm-cooked Thanksgiving in Germany, my last night of resident camp when I was nine - but I think the most memorable meal might be one I had in Paris. My traveling buddy and I wanted to have one dinner in a nice French restaurant while we were there, so we stopped into a small place - I don't remember where. Neither of us spoke French, so we made good guesses at the menu, and since our best guess was that there was probably no veggie entree, I got salmon. I have eaten a fair amount of salmon, but only that once did it melt in my mouth. Everything melted in our mouths that night - the salmon, the mashed white substance that I think might have been cauliflower, the chocolate mousse cake - everything. It was amazing.

3. What is your favorite comfort food from childhood?
Hmm. Most of the foods I grew up on I don't eat any more - chicken soup, roast beef and mashed potatoes, beef stew, even Ramen - but I'm still a big fan of Kraft mac & cheese. When I lived in Germany, I ended up begging my parents for Ramen noodles and Kraft mac & cheese for my birthday, I missed it so much. The other students in my dorm were mystified by this neon orange food product I was making, but I didn't care.

4. When going to a church potluck, what one recipe from your kitchen is sure to be a hit?
Since I never know what other food will be there, I always take something that can be my entree if necessary - usually either Alaqua Pasta (linguine with tomato and fresh mozzarella) or black bean/corn/avocado/tomato salad. Either one is always popular - and both are good at just about any temperature, which is handy for a potluck.

5. What’s the strangest thing you ever willingly ate?
Hmm. I ate a number of things while I was in Japan that I'm not sure I could identify, but squid might have been the strangest. Though others would tell me that tempeh and seitan are stranger than squid, I guess.

Bonus question: What’s your favorite drink to order when looking forward to a great meal? Usually a good red wine - I'm a big fan of Grenaches right now. If it's a great pub meal, though, then a good ale (Eliot Ness, Fat Tire, something like that).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Suggestions Welcome

So I was driving from Cleveland to Chicago a couple of weeks ago, and it's a fairly long drive, so I decided to listen to my entire Dar Williams discography in chronological order. So I did that, and after 5.5 hours of Dar, I decided I wanted something with men's voices instead of women's voices. So I went rifling through my CDs - all of which were in the car with me - and I couldn't find anything. I'd listened to one Jars of Clay album and both my U2 albums on the way to Cleveland. I had a lot of Beatles and some Simon and Garfunkel, but I was in the mood for something more recent than that. I have one CD with some One of the Girls and some Great Big Sea, but I'd listened to that recently too....

I'd known for a long time that I listen to a lot of women's music, but I didn't realize how few CDs by men I had. So I'm on a mission to start evening out that ratio a little. I went through my iTunes, and I realized that about a quarter of my iTunes library is actually music by men, and that doesn't count all the musical theater stuff I have that's sung by men. It's just not on CDs - partly because a lot of it is downloaded singles, rather than albums. So I'm going to burn myself some of that stuff before I drive home next time, and/or get a working iTrip.

Still, I've been looking for some new music anyway, so I'm open to suggestions. I already wanted to get more U2, so that's covered, but what else should I be listening to? I tend to listen to a lot of women singer-songwriters, but I don't always respond as well to men in that genre. I'm probably more interested in pop/rock/alternative kinds of things - I like U2, I used to like BNL and Blink182 a lot in the 90s, I like Stephen Kellogg, I like both Guster and John Mayer, to the dismay of some of their fans. I'm not a big fan of Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp. Anyway, I'm listening more to the radio for ideas too (especially since I'm also interested in getting more current pop music into my collection), but I'd welcome suggestions from my readership.

Monday, October 15, 2007

As promised

I preached yesterday at Reconciler - my first time in the pulpit (ok, at the crossing) there. I did it without notes, but I think this text is pretty close to what I actually said yesterday.


I’ve had a lot of weird dreams recently. I had a dream about a snout coming out of the ground. I had a dream that I got married, but my mother was wasn’t around to remind me what to do, so I ended up wearing a t-shirt and cut-offs to the reception. And I had one where I was fighting with a close friend, and the fight got bigger and bigger, worse than any fight I’ve ever had with any friend before, and we were screaming and yelling, and then I picked up a ceramic mug and I hurled it at my friend’s head, and it hit him, and the mug broke.
I woke up then, before I could tell how badly the mug had hurt him, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It scared me, a lot. I don’t like to think that there’s a part of me that’s capable of that, that would ever do such a thing - to anyone, let alone to a friend. But I also know that part of me is there, that part that almost craves violence, that threatens to erupt in an angry outburst. It’s always been there, and I’ve spent a fair amount of energy training it to stay back, and also trying to appear to the world as though that part doesn’t exist.
I’ve done a pretty good job at that. Most people think of me, maybe not as a gentle person exactly, but not as a violent one or even an angry one either - at least I think not. And that’s fair, at some level, because I’m really not actually prone to violent outbursts either. I may have dreamed that I threw a mug at someone’s head, but I haven’t actually done it. And mostly, I can be pretty satisfied with giving the impression that that kind of rage isn’t hiding in there.
And then I hear a passage like this one from 2 Timothy. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.” Holy... Really? I can pull the wool over the eyes of the people around me, even over my own eyes a lot of the time. But I can’t trick God. God knows better. God knows my need to be ashamed.
And I know it. Just like I’ve always known that part of me is inclined to uncontrollable anger. I’ve always known that it’s just waiting to erupt. I’ve always been scared of it. And so I’ve always known that need to be ashamed. And knowing all that as I do, I’m very aware of how limited I am in my ability to “rightly explain the word of truth.” And so I wonder - am I really the one who should be explaining the word of truth? It seems like there’s just so much shame standing between me and it.
Except that somehow that’s not quite the end of this story. Because another funny thing happened this week. Someone pointed out to me that that part that could get uncontrollably angry isn’t just a darkness in me. It comes from my darkness, absolutely, and it’s that shadow side that I saw in my dream. But that uncontrollable anger comes from a fire deep within me. And that fire is the source not only of frightening rage, but of power and strength. It’s the fire that allows me, even spurs me, to be rightly angry when things are just really messed up. It’s the fire that made me speak out and then eventually leave the Intervarsity group in college because I couldn’t stand the way they treated my queer friends. It’s the fire that makes me stand up to people at school when I think they’re abusing their power. It’s the fire that lets me speak with assurance when I’m convinced of the truth of something.
And as I realized this, I heard the passage from 2 Timothy echoing in my head again: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.” Hunh. If the uncontrollable anger that makes me ashamed before God comes from the same fire that I just said lets me speak with assurance when I’m convinced of the truth of something…. Maybe I’m not incapable of rightly explaining the word of truth after all. Maybe rightly explaining the word of truth doesn’t mean I’m expected to have it all together - or even to have this angry piece of me completely pinned down. Maybe it means doing my best to make sure that that fire is being fed by the Holy Spirit and not the fires of selfishness or of self-hatred, and then letting that fire fuel my speech and my work. Maybe that's how I can present myself as a worker who has no need to be ashamed.
I suspect I’m not the only one who’s known this kind of anger and darkness. I know I’m not the only one who has a fire burning inside like that – I’ve seen it in a lot of you already. I’ve seen it in the way Jeremy talks about international debt and Jubilee. I’ve seen it in the way Kate talks about Jesus. I’ve seen it a lot here. And maybe your fires don’t threaten to burn out of control. Maybe you don’t feel like you need to keep that fire screened in all the time. Or maybe you do. I don’t know.
What I know is this: my dream this week made me wonder whether I was safe to touch - whether I was endangering those around me just by being near them, by being in relationship with them. I wondered whether I ought to pull myself back, separate myself more from the world, in order not to catch my neighbors on fire just by standing next to them. But then I began to wonder also, even if I learned to keep that fire totally contained, or to put it out altogether – would that just change the problem? We need more people to stand up for the voiceless more often, more people to question power, more people to speak words of comfort with assurance more often – not less. We do have to face the possibility that by touching things with that kind of heat, we may set them on fire. But if we can find ways to tend those fires carefully, to let them be fueled by the Holy Spirit – maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hesitation #943

One of the multiple reasons I'm not totally sold on an academic future.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Once more into the fray

I've decided that the thesis proposal is a very odd sort of document. I'm supposed to tell my readers everything I don't yet know about my research (having not yet done said research), and what I intend to conclude (still having not yet done the research), including why I want to do the research (that I'm supposed to predict the results of) and how I intend to go about it.

I do in fact understand why the proposal is a useful thing for both student and committee. It's just also an odd thing.

And, to be fair, it's a thing I just don't really feel like writing right now. Which is of course why I'm actually blogging. I mean, yeah, I could be working on Sunday's sermon or reading for tomorrow's class to procrastinate, but I'm not. I'm blogging and talking to Froggy online.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Observations on my brother's wedding photos

*Well, first, of course: my baby brother's married!

*I'm short. I knew this, of course, but in the pictures of the ceremony you can barely see me over my sister-in-law, and I'm two steps up.

*There are many, many women in my brother's past who are very sad that he is now married.

*My brother was so not expecting an Ohio State garter. It was very funny, even if I don't much like garters.

*There were hula hoops. I love that there were hula hoops. I love even more that my mother won the hula hoop contest, and I wish very much that I could link you all to the picture of my mother hula hooping.

*There are some very sweet pictures of my father with Heidi. It makes me very happy to see her look happy in the pictures of him kissing her cheek and welcoming her to the family.

*The pictures of my brother and mother, on the other hand, just make me want to cry. In a good, sweet, my-baby-brother's-all-grown-up-but-he-still-loves-his-mother kind of way.

*There were a whole lot of people in the Allegheny picture. Holy cow, do they still have a lot of friends from college. I don't think I could have invited that many college friends when I was in college.

*I'm still bummed that I didn't get to dance with my brother at all that night, being unwilling to stand in line and pay two bucks to take a shot before dancing with my little brother.

*There are very few pictures of family, which is sad. Almost all the reception pictures are of the college group.