I'm moving to Seattle. I've got a lot up in the air, but a lot enough projects back to back it seems to merit moving rather than commuting. So I'm frantically packing, arranging things, soon to be cleaning...plus working 60 hours Christmas week, and loading things into a storage unit, all while sick with who knows what -- it couldn't have picked a better time.
I'll be excited soon. Right now I'm just killing myself to get out of town Tuesday night. My new job starts Wednesday morning.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
I'm moving to Seattle. I've got a lot up in the air, but a lot enough projects back to back it seems to merit moving rather than commuting. So I'm frantically packing, arranging things, soon to be cleaning...plus working 60 hours Christmas week, and loading things into a storage unit, all while sick with who knows what -- it couldn't have picked a better time.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Everyone sing along!
Money makes the world go around, the world go around, the world go around. Money makes the world go around, it makes it go ROOOO-OUND!
Tonight I waited tables for the first time since October 15th. It has been a great break, a wonderful chance to travel, visit, audition and perform. Being broke has sucked. Eating mashed potatoes from a box for dinner because it's all you have left in the house, kind of sucks. Living off of Starbucks Gift Cards for many of your weekend meals has been very convenient as I'm wandering around downtown with things to do before I can go back to the always graciously food-providing Logsdons.
Today, though, has been lovely. Just when I was wondering how much longer I could coax my hair away from frizzy and straight up, since I'd run out of both conditioner and mousse, a Christmas card came from my Grandmother, who decided to send money instead of a gift. Hurrah! Conditioner! Shaving Cream! And one can of cat food as an early Christmas present for Cai. Then, I went to work on my last bit of gas. Upon emerging from the pre-Christmas push, and tipping out my busser, I found I had enough for a tank of gas, some quarters for the bus tomorrow, the mousse I forgot to buy earlier, and a little cash to pad my pocket until we get paid on Sunday. Isn't life grand???
Beautiful, glorious, heavenly, marvelous,
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful,
Wonderful, wonderful day!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
It's no wonder I don't like to take baths very often.
I should qualify that.
Baths are a traditionally girly activity. Candles. Music. Scented oils and frothy bubbles. A glass of champagne. A good book to while away the stress of the day.
Therein lies the problem. It's easy to read a book in the bath if all you like are magazines and scary chic-lit. It's a little harder to haul, say, Shakespeare in there. Or the first Volume of Lord of the Rings. Or Schindler's List (smaller, and paperbook, but not so relaxing). God forbid you be reading Gone With the Wind or something. Even in paperback that's a formidable undertaking. Try holding that puppy above the water for 15 minutes or so. Nevermind a full hour long pamper-fest.
Hence, the length of my soothing bath is determined by how long I can heft a book aloft.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
The show went well today, even after getting up at 4.
I spent a few hours this afternoon walking around downtown giving out the latest theater guides to all the local hotels and members only timeshare clubs (who knew they had such a think outside of resort towns?). Tomorrow I'll load up my Cambodian Shoulderbag to head to Pike Place and the Sanitary Market. There should be a few vendors there to unload another half a box onto...leaving me with Pioneer Square on Monday.
It's been a long weekend of reviewing necessities and priorities, and making decisions about the immediate future. More on that later, I suppose.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
To someone....I can't think who...whom....whatever.
It's mine. I'm 27 today. Yesterday I auditioned for Romeo and Juliet. Today I've got a show, then shopping with Miles, then...I don't know. Maybe go home?
Oh yeah, yesterday we went out to see "Atonement" which was very very good and very very chocolate-necessary. Then we walked around downtown Seattle for a while, picked up my TPS pamphlets to deliver.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
You Are Cream Pie
You're the perfect combo of simplicity and divinity.
You are a secret hedonist. No one knows how indulgent you can be.
You don't indulge often, but when you do, you go for the best.
You have expensive taste - even if you aren't rich.
Those who like you life for understated pleasures.
You're not flashy or trendy, but you have a depth that most people lack.
Interacting with you makes most people feel incredibly satisfied.
You are gentle, super sweet, and in harmony with those around you.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
I'm back in Yakima for the week, tiling the bathroom and trying to get my room ready to bring in a roommate. I'm hoping to get the bathroom done this week, and move my stuff into the hall room next week. Then get someone in by New Year.
In another interesting turn, I've got an audition for Romeo and Juliet on Saturday. I've not done Shakespeare before, but I'm always up for a challenge. To help prepare, I'll spend my early mornings over at Highland High reading Juliet aloud with my friend Aimee's class, who are preparing to possibly do the play in the spring.
Other than that, I'm seasonal job hunting, watching Bones tonight with Allie, going to Barrel House tomorrow night, going to a dessert party on Thursday, and probably driving to Seattle Friday night or Saturday morning.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Yesterday was just chock-full of the Christmas spirit. First thing in the morning I woke up and took the bus downtown to once again become the Toy Block in the Macy's Children's Musical. We had a great crowd full of kids who yelled out the answers to the riddle, helped us think where the clock key was, and sang along to all the Christmas songs. Even the tech problems from the previous show got fixed.
The Toy Soldier, Santa and I worked on finding new and improved 'block' puns. So far we've come up with Blockhead, New Kids On The, and Block Party.
After an hour nap, I got up and transformed into the basics of a Christmas Elf for the Mannheim Steamrollers Concert. I ran to Goodwill on my way out of town to pick up some shorts and a t-shirt, and after a long wait in line counting down the minutes until I would officially be late, the guy three in front of my came back to dispute a double charge of a $.99 item. Brother! I interrupted (ack!) the cashier as he and she counted and recounted the items in his bag and asked to please have my two items rung up before they took care of his problem as I was very late. The cashier gave me the dirtiest look imaginable, and did it for me. (It was amazing how the lines that had not existed when I walked into the place were four deep at every cashier when I needed to go now. And the couple in front of me, even though they were obviously together paid separately, and one of their cards didn't work, so then they had to pay cash....this kind of thing never happens when you have all the time in the world!)
This gig was very much like what I imagine working for Disneyland would be like. We all arrived in the dressing room and began the robing process. Everywhere there were half snowmen and headless gingerbread men having ice packs strapped to their back and chest. The toy soldiers walked around in their suspenders and had red circles painted on their cheeks. Finally the elves were allowed to robe up, and have cheeks and noses painted bright red, and glitter sprinkled liberally. Petticoated and bell-topped shoed, we went up to the lobby to hug children, wish everyone Merry Christmas, wave, and have our photos taken. Repeat at intermission. Then after that we de-elfed and got to watch the last few songs (and several encores) of the Mannheim Steamrollers Concert.
I have decided that perhaps working as a character at Disneyland would be more fun than I thought. It was pretty amazing watching the looks on little faces as they tore over to hug the gingerbread man. (And I will never look at them the same way again - knowing my dainty gingerbread woman was a trucker underneath)
Saturday, December 01, 2007
The Macy's show opened this morning. We had some technical problems, and adding a whole slew of under 8's to the mix makes everything different, but I think tomorrow we'll be ready to interact with the audience more. I am adapting better every day to having my head sticking out of a giant block costume, trying to dance around with 3 foot blind spots on either side.
Also, I just got back from another audition, and will be playing an elf tomorrow in a Christmas Concert of one of my favorite bands - the Mannheim Steamrollers. We have cute costumes, and meeting, greeting, and staying in character while getting pictures taken will be good practice should I ever do Disneyland...
Tis' the season to get lots of work for being 5'2"
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Big surprise I know. I stayed in today until it was time for rehearsal. Then I sloshed my way downtown to the TPS studios, meeting the musical director on the way, and stepping in a very large puddle, soaking my shoes, socks, and the lower half of my jeans. Did I mention how large this puddle was?
Jake ate my dinner tonight. I went to put some things in the dryer, came back, and my $3.50/lb grapes were on the floor. How could that have happened, I asked myself until I realized my potatoes were missing as well. Dumb dog. No treats tonight.
I have a roommate in my little basement -- a mouse that I've heard and seen calling cards for. I haven't named him yet, but I'm supposed to buy a humane trap soon to be rid of his nesting little presence. Where's a handy cat?
And that's all. Rehearsals all week, and lining up auditions for my remaining weekends here.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
My family had a very VERY low key thanksgiving this year. No family in town - but the Logsdons, who I rode over with since I had to be in Seattle the days before and after for rehearsals.
We had ham and baked potatoes. We did have green been cassarole and jellied cranberry sauce still in the shape of the can on the little odd shaped cut glass we always put it in.
We had Lasagna on Friday, and this year there was no Kunzepalooza. No Christmas trees. No garland. Only outdoor lights courtesy of Miles who planned out a great rope light "noel" to alternate with a flashing four point star - courtesy of Becky who insisted on another two strands of lights - which were perfect from a distance.
There was a small glitch in the works when they dropped the frame from the deck trying to put in up on the rafter pole, but after that all went smoothly and we all piled in the car to go and see their creation.
Dad and I put up some more sheetrock in my bathroom too.
Then we all piled back into the car friday morning to get back for my 1:00 rehearsal.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I spent this week nannying during the day, then rushing to rehearsals at night. I had three days off for Thanksgiving, and must go back again tomorrow for a week of tech before we open on the 1st.
It's nice to be back with theater people. During a break we were all discussing what odd jobs we were working to support our habit. One pounded 'for sale' signs in for real estate companies, another had given in at 40 and gotten a 'real job.' We were commisserating on how difficult it is to balance making money and doing theater, when suddenly an impromptu chorus began with improvized lyrics - to the tune of 'Anatevka.' I've missed that.
I also got two jobs this week; substitute teaching on one side of the mountains, and a temp agency on the other. That should cover me a little more wherever I am.
I'm up for a 'possibly paid' film role, and thinking about auditioning for Romeo and Juliet on the 8th. I've never done Shakespeare, so I'm a little hesitant. But it's paid, and I'm already in town for a show that weekend.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Back to the wonderful world of costuming, today was day one of the sci-fi short I'm costuming. It was a crazy day. To begin with, outdoor shoot. Rain.
We pulled into a podunk town near the gorge for our location shoot. I got there before the rest of the crew - they had to come over the pass. We set up wardrobe/makeup/greenroom in the banquet room of a diner, and set to work transforming our actresses into a Space Policewoman, and a shape-shifting alien hooker. First snag. Our lead actress became very sick this week, and the meducine she had to take caused water retention. The costume which fit very well a week ago was tight, and the boots that we measured for but didn't try on took four people to shove them halfway onto her feet. She had to limp on tiptoe to the first location -- and only after considerable hiking did they finally go on all the way.
Water. Water is difficult on film people when falling from the sky and blowing in all directions. The actress was cold and wet, the hair that had taken so long to put up was instantly bedraggled. Then we went back to get the alien, who had to wear a miniskirt and bra in 40 degree weather and torrential downpour. In between shots she huddled under the tech ten wrapped in coats. As the shot progressed, her legs turned blue. Luckly, when it came time for the dialogue shots, the rain let up, and we were able to get them done quickly.
Then the lead actress was chauferred home, and we called in our stunt double. The only problem, she's smaller than the lead, and her costume needed modified to fit. And now it was 3:30 and what little light we had was fading fast. Once again I found myself altering an outfit while flying down the road. We basted her in, adjusted where we could, and all the action shots were filmed in the waning daylight. They called 'it's a wrap' as the sun sank behind the hill, and cast and crew went back to the diner for dinner and warm beverages to wrap our hands around.
It's funny how glamorous films look. Shooting them is a long, exhausting, and sometimes hypothermia-inducing prospect!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
I'm in Seattle for another round of costuming the retro sci-fi movie I've been involved in. Yesterday was the great unveiling of the 'pr-skirt' costume I had to construct. The director was effusive in praise, though he was high on cough syrup. But the director is happy and so is the talent coordinator. Next week I got on location in Vantage and Issaquah to babysit the costumes.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
...how to sew on vinyl and clear plastic to make a 'pro-skirt' shape shifting alien costume. So far the red vinyl miniskirt and bra top are done (minus fastenings, since I haven't done a fitting yet), and the clear plastic Regency Pelisse is finished - and I can't believe I got the director to go for it, but it looks amazing with the costume!
I've been in Seattle three days this week, and must go back tomorrow for the final rehearsal. I also had an audition of my own on Wednesday which I'm waiting to hear back from. I have no idea if I'll make it in, but I had a really good audition, so I feel very well about it. If I don't make it in, this is it for the holiday season, and I'll settle down next week, get a couple of jobs, and try to pay off the credit card, save up for lazic, and put a little aside for the next hiatus.
Today we're working on the bathroom.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Very long couple of days. Very long weekend upcoming. I arrived into Seattle from Chicago Monday night, and then attempted to stay awake (with only moderate success) through two episodes of Star Trek Enterprise before I was told it was legal to sleep, where I collapsed on the fold-out chair and was out like a light in less than a minute.
Yesterday I had a costume meeting for the film I'm working on. I ran around to thrift stores trying to find a 1950's swimsuit pattern. No success. But I didn't manage to find the huge downtown Goodwill, which I will try today.
I scheduled an audition for today while in Chicago, but of course all of my headshots and music are at home, so after my meeting I drove back across the state, arriving just in time for the latest episode of Bones and heckling Dancing with the Stars with my mother, while Dad snored on the couch. My cat was so happy to see me after being gone for over a week that he opted out of his hunting routine to sleep as close to me as he could without being technically on top of me.
Today I'm being efficient, as I have to drive back to Seattle for my audition. I'm debating whether to stay for the weekend since I have a costume to make and a dress rehearsal on Sunday, but since I have a lot to do at home, I think I'll come back tomorow, construct here, and then head back Sunday. We'll see. I might change my mind between now and 1:00.
Oh, and the reason I wanted to post in the first place. Yesterday was election day. All over Seattle people had signs and banners. I had the envelope to my ballot in the car, but not the ballot itself. When I finally made my way back to my apartment, there was my ballot sitting next to my computer -- so I filled out the rest of it, and got back in my car to drive to the 3rd Avenue post office in order to get it postmarked by midnight. I was so tired and inattentive that I plopped it in the packages slot instead of local mail, but the clunk I heard from behind the wall assured me that someone caught my mistake in time. And I drove half asleep back home to pass out.
I contemplated wearing my "I VOTED" sticker on my forehead to sleep.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Well, my time here is halfway up. I leave on Monday. We thought about going into The City today, but realized, on our budgets, we have plenty of money to get there, but none to actually do anything. That leaves an excuse to come back though.
Yesterday was the beginning of Operation Christmas Child '07. We've got about half of our boxes done, only hindered by an excessive lack of wrapping paper. Stupid expensive (ha -- dollar store) foil paper that only has enough for 2 boxes. Silly us. And then I wrapped three boxes that turned out to be large enough for the crayons, but too small for the requisite coloring books. Oops.
More Buffy ensues. We finished season three last night and then did the musical sing along -- or Teri did. I only know about 3 songs partway through thanks to Youtube.
I've scheduled two auditions for the next two weeks back, plus my costuming 'gig' plus my ongoing filming in Portland. I'm going to be plenty busy for the next two weeks, and if I get any of the gigs I'm auditioning for, I'll be busy and PAID through the holidays. Won't that be nice?
Signing off now for some Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Well hello all. I am currently visiting CleverTitleHere for the week. So far, I haven't done much except force my friend Miles to get up very early on a Monday morning to take me to the airport -- note to self, check more than just the departure time before booking a flight. Monday I was up at 3:15. Teri picked me up from the shuttle drop off and we had Thai. I then watched some Buffy season 1. Yay! Then we went out for Margaritas with a friend of hers. I forgot to order blended. Dang it -- that's the best part. In fact, most days, leave out the tequila and make mine a smoothie. Ok, not technically true. Leave IN the tequila and make mine a smoothie.
Today I woke up half asleep and stayed that way. After a trip to the farmers market and a non-chain espresso, I went home and fell asleep in the sun spot on the floor...for 5 hours. Could not wake up. We'll call it jet lag or something. Then I availed myself of the fabric store - but not Hobby Lobby yet (there's one here!!!!!). I bought some solid green for appliqued vines with flowers I'm putting around the border of my quilt I finished. With flowers though. Don't you hate when you put vines around something and then it just looks like snakes...yeah, you know who you are.
So that's the trip so far. Now I'm hanging out while she runs a small group. Then hoome to begin cutting out green fabric strips on the bias. I didn't bring any yo-yos with me though. So it won't be totally finished when I come home. But I had to find something to do instead of just watching hours of Buffy ... quilting justifies an otherwise guilty pleasure.
Friday, October 26, 2007
After all, addictions aren't something to be glib about or joked over, unless you're Karen Walker. It's time consuming and money consuming. It takes you away from reality and all your friends. Eventually you find that you've spiralled downward and your choices are rehab, or self destruction.
I have discovered my own addiction. It's shameful to admit.
I'm addicted to Wikipedia.
There, I've said it. It began while reading Buffy scripts (another shameful admission). I realized how many offhand references Joss Whedon puts into his scripts and needed a way to quickly cross reference them for full impact. Pretty soon I had both screens up each time I indulged. Then I found myself checking other information -- book synopsis and backgrounds, movie plots and character backgrounds, historical references, snippets of lyrics or poems I needed to identify. One night I found myself clicking link after link looking up Harry Potter non-canonical references. Hours later, in the middle of an article on Bellatrix Lestrange I realised I have a problem.
I can cross reference for hours. There is so much interesting information out there are the click of a button! Summaries of science concepts I probably won't understand otherwise, word usage, entymology.
I could go on forever. But I won't, because I need to look up something.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Another out of town weekend. Saturday I drove down to Portland for two days of shooting. Saturday was kind of slow, and lacking direction --so looking at the filming we'd done after the fact, I wasn't so thrilled with my performance. For one thing I looked in the shot about a foot taller than my costar, and my features looked HUGE next to her delicate bone structure.
It's all a learning experience. After the 2 hour shoot I went to the Fabric depot to stock up on 1930's prints for my quilt, then to Powell's to kill a few hours until my friend got home. So there I was stuck on my favorite block in Portland with hours to kill. It's a good thing I really don't have money to spare right now, or I'd have been in trouble. I went for a quick browse through Anthropologie for inspiration on winter fashions, then, to mecca, or rather, the world's largest independent bookseller. I found part three of a book I bought a few weeks ago, and went to the coffee shop to read. I hoped I'd be able to get through the whole thing and spare myself the $14.
the coffeeshop was crowded. Every table had someone in it, and strangers were starting to pair up. I grabbed a recently vacated table with a basket full of books next to it. After I'd settled down into the first few chapters, a male voice asked if I would mind if he sat with me. He promptly pulled out a very well used book, read for a few minutes, and fell asleep over it. He had on a hoodie, dirt in his fingernails, and an insulated cup sitting next to a can of orange generic soda. I think his book was Grisham. I had nowhere else to go, and wasn't really keen to give up my table, and thought I may as well stay in the shop reading, and keep this guy from having his nap disturbed.
Hours later I was nearly through, and he was still asleep. It was getting dark downtown and cold seeped through the glass window. The guy across from me started stirring, and I told him I was cold, and was going to get a cup of coffee, and would he like one as well. He would, after some hesitation. So he kept our table while I went for a caffe au lait and a black coffee. And then, we talked. For an hour at least. He, it turns out, was son of an army chaplain, and traveled around Europe as a kid. Since then he's lived in every contiguous state except Maine. He recently left New York and moved back to the Northwest -- and has a job in landscaping, which explains the fingernails. He told me that his ADD makes him impulsive (I couldn't help but laugh) and sometimes does things like decides to go to Mexico for a couple of weeks, or leave his home without packing anything. I made him stop for a bit in our conversation so I could finish my last chapter -- I told him I'd have to kill myself if I had to fork over that much money for one chapter. Eventually I had to leave to meet my friend, and our conversation ended. Sometimes, no often, the best things in life are unplanned.
Sunday I got up early and filmed another long scene, involving an interview, and housebreak, and finding a secret door into a room where the hostages left behind a dead body. It was a long morning, and I realized the truth of all those movie commentaries that say that the act of filming is quite boring. There's a lot of standing around involved, and some mimosas that day.
That afternoon I drove to Seattle and helped put together Christmas cards with Becky. Today I prepared for my audition this evening, which felt dreadful -- but probably wasn't. It's really hard to tell. I hope I get a callback at least. I do much better once we get to line readthroughs than in a 5 minute monologue situation. I really really want to be in this show...
Tomorrow a bit of costuming, then home to finish tearing out a bathroom.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Harold: So, are you a frequenter of the metropolitan transit authority, too?
Anna: Uh...no, I'm just late.
Harold: Big flag burning to get to?
Anna: Actually, it's my weekly evil conspiracy and needlepoint group, wanna come?
Harold: I-I left my thimble and socialist reading material at home.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
“The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have just been landed in them, usually their paths were laid that way, as you put it.”
J. R. R. Tolkien: Return of the King
”Reality, in fact, is always something you couldn't have guessed. That's one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It's a religion you couldn't have guessed."
C. S. Lewis: The Case for Christianity
Humans love stories. Scheherazade kept her lovely head on her shoulders because of them. Belle couldn’t put them down. Wendy recounts them to her brothers by the hour and eventually lands in an adventure of her own, presumably to tell stories to others. Samwise was delighted by the old tales as they were told to him. Tolkien and Lewis immersed themselves in Norse and Celtic myths before writing their epic classics.
We love mythology is because is shows us truth in a fashion that is easier to see than in dry moral tomes. Fairy tales and adventures transport us out of ourselves, resonate with something deep within us, and brush our mundane surroundings with glints of magic. Stories cross cultural and linguistic boundaries. Joseph Campbell says that “comparative cultural studies have now demonstrated beyond question that similar mythic tales are to be found in every quarter of this earth.” Every country has the same stories: the beautiful girl forced to slave for her evil stepmother; the woman who marries the hideous monster; the beggar child who maintains good character and inherits a fortune; the unlikely hero who manages to save the world from unspeakable evil; the virgin who gives birth, the god who dies and comes to life again. For millennia these stories were passed down orally around a campfire. They were performed as entertainment or moral exhortation by troupes of actors and minstrels. More recently they were written on rolls of parchment or bound between ornate covers. And now they are captures in a camera and projected on a screen, the advent of film allowing ever more variation and more impressive illusion to the same stories retold; rewritten as comedy, drama, thriller and romance.
That stories touch something deep within us can’t be doubted. Lewis says, “Good stories of this sort…are actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensations we never had before, and enlarge our conceptions of the range of possible experience…I’m not sure that anyone has satisfactorily explained the keen, lasting, and solemn pleasure which such stories can give.” In these stories anything seems possible. Adventure awaits us around every corner. Every choice can change the course of history. Every life that intersects yours could be someone valuable, or famously evil, or remarkably good, and you, like the hero, may never know it. We feel a passion to go and do and see and experience something greater and bigger than we’ve ever known.
The sensation quickly fades away. Work must be carried out, shopping done, things bought, food eaten, and this thing we call “real life” makes us realize that all those feelings are just a desire to escape, and quickly pass. In Screwtape Letters the fictional demon tells just how simple a task this is. “Before he reached the bottom of the steps I had got into him an unalterable conviction that, whatever odd ideas might come into a man’s head when he was shut up alone with his books, a healthy dose of ‘real life’ (by which he meant the bus and the newsboy) was enough to show him that all ‘that sort of thing’ just couldn’t be true.” We have this dichotomy drilled into us. There’s adventure, and there’s ‘real life.’ Those that feel a longing for something more than bills and rent and forty-hours-a-week are told that those things constitute reality and must be submitted to. But is this resignation to the mundane really the way things are in this world? Does myth only serve to provide us with an escape from our normal life? We are so stirred by stories because they are a reflection of ‘real life’ far removed from the mundane. Myths are “a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”
Life on this earth is closer to the fairy tale than what we call reality. It is no accident that God is called the author of life. God is creative. The stories, adventures, and experiences are what they are because they reflect the truth of the character of God. Lewis was very right that we need to take the Bible away from its stained glass and hushed voiced mentality. We have listened to the same few chapters and few verses too many times and missed all the best parts. The academic “biblical world view” receives much opposition from those who have grown too smart themselves to see past the limited factual knowledge of the ancient writers. Joseph Campbell, a great scholar on world myths says “such claims [to a direct connection with the Creator of the Universe] can no longer be taken seriously by anyone with even a kindergarten education.” He also says that “the little toy room picture of the Bible is, in comparison [to the vast cosmos], for children.” Well Hurrah for that! The best loved, best written ‘books for children’ are still classics, while ‘adult fiction’ comes and goes before anyone notices.
In the beginning, God created. We are often so busy fighting over whether the words should be taken literally or not, that we completely miss the magic of creation. God spoke, and endless nothing became endless something. He laid the cornerstone of the earth “while the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Then, mud churned and lava poured out of newly formed mountains, while the angels sang, God took more nothing and started life. The molecules combined, the ooze began to stir, and life began, divided; divided again. Some things began taking on different shapes. Some grew fins and tails, some crawled out of the water and their limbs lengthened. Scales hardened and became fur and feathers. The variety increased and the waters and land grew fruitful and multiplied. Some, affected by the magic, stood upright. Their brains began to grow, they used sticks and rocks to make simple tools. The predecessor to man had appeared on the scene. The rest, as they say, is history.
This account, though only a theory that seems to account for the power of God and what we know from exploring our planet, doesn’t take away from God’s power, or authority, or creativity in the least. God refers to time for our benefit. We know that he isn’t affected by it, except for once when he chose to live in it with us. That phrase from Job began my stirrings towards a life of adventure at a time when reading the Bible was hopelessly boring. The magic was gone for me, yet those words reminded me of the Creation Hymn from the Silmarillion, like a glimpse of ‘beyond.’ Now, years later, the magic has come back to the Bible through the little known stories I found, far off the path of the usual ones that make it into the Sunday-school pamphlets. Rather than discourse about them, I am simply going to recount them:
“Once upon a time, when men began to increase in number on the earth, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful and they married any of them they chose. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days – and also afterward- when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”
“Once upon a time there was a man named Ehud, a left handed man, the son of Gera. He was sent with a tribute to King Eglon. Now Ehud had made a double edged sword...”
“Once upon a time there was a city that was completely besieged. Four lepers were trapped at the entrance to the city gate...”
These stories are often overlooked, but they come from the same place as all of the adventure stories that we’ve ever loved. We learn that once in our history the sons of God roamed the earth, spawning heroes that did brave and daring things; that a man kills a king and escapes because his servants think he is relieving himself; and reading the story of the lepers I am reminded of the hobbits and the storming of Isengard. This is only a drop in the bucket of a wealth of adventures in the Bible. Ordinary men, ordinary people are always being sent on journeys, walking on water, being magically transported from one road to another, meeting animals that talk, being swallowed by huge fish, running for their lives from evil people bent on killing them, being told messages by creatures from beyond out world, and doing and seeing amazing things. We know also that all the stories we’ve been given are only the merest drop in the bucket. “If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” Our Bible is full of magic. It is full to the brim of adventure. Why do we expect that our lives should be any different than that ones we’ve read about? God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and we can assume the same is true about our relation to him, and life as it is related to us. That, I think, is one of the reasons that we are told to keep our possessions to a minimum. It is hard to go on the next adventure if we have to worry about putting things in storage. The early Christians realized this. They kept their possession light, gave things away easily, and were ready to go anywhere it seemed God was calling them.
Joining in the adventure of life is a choice. We must not forget that. Being too close to see the adventure happens in the best of stories. We can take heart by looking at the supporting characters. Uncle Owen in Star Wars managed to be completely oblivious to the vast cosmic war. He was both too far away to see it, and too wrapped up in his own life to notice. The Dursleys in Harry Potter refused anything that might hint of any magic, and I’d imagine there are many like that around us today. Many in Hobbitton were blissfully ignorant of the world further than the Shire, and our heroes would have been content in the same way, to stay on the same bit of earth and live out a peaceful life, had a few Dwarves and a Wizard not descended upon them. C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy begins with an ordinary walk on an ordinary holiday. Susan experienced Narnia twice for extended times and still managed to prefer her ‘grown up’ world to the magical one. In most of the great stories, if one pays attention, there are hundreds of people who never notice the adventure at all, and turn aside at a chance to join in. Like Samwise says, “they had lots of chances. Like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten.” Just because we cannot see this moment, these circumstances as part of the adventure going on all around us, doesn’t mean we aren’t in one. The danger is in losing heart and hope, deciding ‘real life’ is the solid day to day, and the adventure is only in fairy tales.
“To live would be an awfully big adventure.” So Peter Pan asserts in a recent remaking of a classic tale. This truth is often spouted, but how many of us really believe it. In the face of bills, work, obligations, responsibilities, how many of us lost sight of life as an adventure. How many of us ever saw life that way? As young adults we are encouraged to be realistic, look for good paying jobs, steady incomes, security, health benefits and retirement packages. None of these things are bad in themselves, but they mask a deeper need. Humanity has a desire to control our environment. We desire things and a place to keep them. We seek money and power in order to shape our existence to suit our desires. Our natural inclination is to possess, dictate, control, and alter our environment. The twisting of character because of a desire to control events, circumstances, and people occurs in every piece of fiction Lewis wrote. Is there any proof that Lewis actually held the view of life as an adventure? All authors reveal more of their worldview than they intend. Lewis is no different. I believe that looking throughout Lewis’ works, a common thread emerges. Lewis believed that myth reflects reality better than ‘real life’ and that adventure is there for all of us, if we only had the eyes to see it.
Lewis’ own life certainly wasn’t very ‘adventuresome.’ He hardly left England in his life, except returning to his native Ireland. Most of his adult life was spent shackled to his ailing ‘mother’ who made his home life miserable. Lewis’ brother had a drinking problem. Lewis himself had a huge drain on his time from compiling a History of English Literature which took much time away from his writing. Lewis had more correspondence than he could handle, and much more to do than he had time in which to do it. He went on a holiday to Greece, but he turned down every other invitation to travel abroad, citing either his ailing ‘mother,’ ailing wife, or his own ill health as an excuse. Yet, there is more to Lewis than a to-do list, just as what we do isn’t the extent of who we are. Lewis’ imagination, his close companionships and their writings, show that Lewis and his friends saw more in life. Lewis’ writings have an almost childlike excitement of ‘around the corner’ and ‘over the hill.’ True, his stories do take us to other worlds and other planets, but always in ways that anyone can get to by just opening the right door, or walking down the right trail. One might meet anyone; British country folk masquerading as beavers, Father Christmas, demi-gods, demons, angels, archangels, and the blessed company of all faithful people, and a bulgy bear ambling through a kitchen. This is not an escape for Lewis. This is a reflection of life as he knew it to be. Lewis’ non-fiction and letters are full of statements that at any moment God might ‘pick at his sleeve’ as it were and ask him to do something unexpected. The choice is to obey or not to obey. To obey begins the adventure.
In Out of the Silent Planet, Ransom meets for the first time rational, un-fallen creatures living in harmony. Hyoi is astonished to discover that the human practice of sexuality leads to overpopulation. The hrossa mate for life, but copulate for only one or two years, ceasing after young are born. Ransom explains human reasoning. “If the thing is a pleasure, a hman wants it again. He might want it more often than the number of young that could be fed.” Hyoi rejoins, “How could we endure to live and let time pass if we were always crying for one day or one year to come back – if we did not know that every day in a life fills the whole life with expectation and memory and that these are that day.” There is our first evidence of my hypothesis of life as an adventure. Lewis, speaking through Hyoi, sees that life cannot be lived in one is always wishing for the past to continue, for experiences to prolong, for relationships to remain the same. All of life is a free-fall of variables. In trying to control the uncontrollable, life stagnates. In embracing the unknown, the expectation, and the danger, life is truly lived. The majority of humanity does not seem to know this. Even those of us who claim to know God and his ways still hold a world view that is based on ownership, possession, responsibility, and normality. “Bad things happen,” we say, but what we mean is that sometimes our perceived control is taken away, and we are left with only the unknown. Hyoi sees the danger as the thing that makes life the sweetest. Knowing that one could die at any moment, gives each moment its poignancy.
In Perelandra, Ransom lands on an alien planet that has not suffered from the fall. He finds that the principle to possess and re-experience goes against some unwritten law on worlds that are not ‘bent.’ Ransom eats a gourd that is so delicious that, “for one draught of this on earth wars would be fought and nations betrayed.” Is natural inclination as fallen man, is to repeat the sensation. Every bit of emotion and logic, including “uncertainty of the future” was in favor of tasting the fruit again, but something held him back. Later, he encounters the bubble trees and wants to run through more of them to feel the same delicious revitalization. Again he is restrained from doing so by a feeling of wrongness. Ransom reasons that perhaps “the itch to have things over again…was the root of all evil…money itself – perhaps one valued it chiefly as a defense against chance, a security for being able to have things over again.” Finally he encounters the red hearted berries, which he wished to seek out and eat, but once more a feeling forbids him. Ransom imagines that on his own world they would be bred, and then cost a great deal more. Money, no longer the root of evil, but the means to grasp hold of an experience.
Individual human growth seems based on the ability to recognize when it is time to let go, move on. Stagnation and even the twisting of a character are the result of this desire for control. The act of clinging, mentally or otherwise changes even our good qualities to evil. Orual in Till We Have Faces clung to her sister until her love for Psyche more closely resembled hatred. Love disappeared and became a desire to possess not only Psyche, but the Fox and Bardia, her closest friends. Her selfishness destroyed both of them, and her own character hardened and contorted until she was as ugly inwardly as outwardly. Orual however, received a second chance. Once her veil was removed, and she saw herself as she truly was, she renounced it in confessing to Psyche, “never again will I call you mine…I never wished you well, never had one selfless though of you. I was a craver.” Because of this admission, she saw the gods face to face and was made beautiful. This is in stark contrast to a similar character in The Great Divorce who came into heaven determined to continue her constant agenda of improvement on poor Robert who had finally escaped her. Denied the opportunity to possess him for eternity, she vanishes back where she came from.
The entire book The Great Divorce gives us caricatures of those who cannot give up their hold on themselves, their image, other people, and their ideas. None of them can move on and become solid until they’ve released their grip on whatever sent them into the Grey Lands in the first place. One ghost continues to try to seduce the other spirits, and gives up when she finds out she cannot attract them. Another ghost comes only to be reunited to the son she lost. She has clung to the “tyranny of the past” ferociously, “keeping his room exactly as he’d left it; keeping anniversaries” and in her excessive mourning, destroyed the other lives around her. One man wants to continue thinking ill of a man on earth he considered himself better than, another wants to hold onto his ideas and pat theologies. Only those that can laugh at their own ignorance, frivolities, and being mistaken pretty much all of the time can make the journey to deep heaven. Those determined to cling to self are left behind.
There are many more examples in Lewis’ writing; the dwarfs in The Last Battle who miss the turning point of history for fear of being ‘taken in;’ Susan, in the same book, presumably misses eternity because she has thrown aside the magical for the commonplace; Jane Studdock in That Hideous Strength is very nearly destroyed because she wishes to badly to be ‘taken seriously’ and not be used by anyone. Clearly Lewis believes that the people most in danger of losing out in life, are those who a desperately trying to maintain their control on it. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose of forfeit his very self?”
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven;” A time for various emotional states; for putting down roots and tearing them up, for building and destroying, for keeping things and throwing them away, even a time for living and dying. And dying, we are told, merely acts as a doorway to continued living in the unknown. We are told that time is short, and those who buy something should act “as though it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For the world in its present form is passing away.” Most of us see the Biblical as an unreachable ideal, but we see its principles mirrored in life. We see those trapped by the past, unable to move on. We see those clinging to relationships that are destroying them, to houses that are bankrupting them, to family members they are suffocating, to past events they refuse to forgive or heal from. We all have examples around us of those trapped in high school, trying to recreate their glory days rather than continue on to new things. There is the woman so hurt from one relationship, she sabotages all the rest. Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind is an excellent fictional example of stunted growth. For fifteen years she is unable to relinquish her image of being a 16-year-old belle, and continues a one-sided love affair with a married man. She only awakens to the dangers of this after her dogged tenacity has robbed her of all that matters, and left her with exactly what she thought she wanted. “All get what they want: they do not always like it.” The Enchantress from Charn wanted eternal life, and stole from a magic garden to get it. The endless days she thought she’d wanted quickly became a ceaseless torment. The same with Voldemort, who killed, maimed, stole and shattered himself in a quest for immortality. For a brief moment he defeated death, but the things he did to maintain his life, destroyed him in the end. Dumbledore, a very wise wizard, explains many times that Voldemort’s attempt to extend his life, to control himself and others, and to defeat death defeats him. The life he attempts to save becomes a life not worth living, in a state barely recognizable as human.
This is, I think, why Lewis, the Bible, and all the other great stories advocate a certain kind of life; a life that isn’t about possessions. It isn’t about what everyone else considers normal. This is why people in Jesus’ time are admonished to give up their wealth. Not because money is an evil in itself, but money gives us an illusion of control over our existence we’re never meant to have. Possessions build up the value of this life, when we’re supposed to consider it as practice for the next. That’s the real reason why life is meant to be an adventure here – with loose holds on our things, our time, our relationships (valuable as they are) because we are always, and at all times, preparing for our next great adventure; namely death. From a worldly perspective, this might seem morbid. But Lewis himself says that everything we do here, every decision we make turns us a little either into a heavenly creature, or a diabolical one. In the same way, each thing we buy, each tie we forge, each decision we make for the safe or respectable over the unknown binds us more to the transitory world we inhabit, and makes us less fit for the heavenly that is our long-term goal. Lucy Maud Montgomery in her book Anne of the Island sums it all up thus:
“When she came to the end of one life it must not be to face the next with the shrinking terror of something wholly different -- something for which accustomed thought and ideal and aspiration had unfitted her. The little things of life, sweet and excellent in their place, must not be the things lived for; the highest must be sought and followed; the life of heaven must be begun here on earth.”
Adventure has little to do with where one goes, how much one travels, how many foreign diseases one manages to pick up. It has nothing to do with thrill seeking. In the end someone who seeks a ‘life of excitement’ will end up just as unfulfilled as the person who never sees a mile beyond where they were born. Lifting the veil is inward, not outward. It applies for career teachers as well as world travelers, doctors, secretaries, stay-at-home mothers and quadriplegics. It is a mental shift of giving over the idea of control of one’s own life and destiny, and recognizing that something bigger, and higher is at work. This someone directs our paths, brings us in contact with other lives, influencing each other even if only for a second, changing our directions, altering lives with a prayer from halfway around the world, bringing words of comfort unsought, sending us halfway around the planet to learn something or right a wrong. This type of life; Lewis’ life; the Biblical life; is full of magic, and the unknown, and the adventurous. Yet, the majority of us are not living life in that anticipation. We are trying to stave it off with all our power. Surrendering to God is like Ransom learning to ride the highest wave, and Hyoi hunting the hnakra – “the best of drinks, save one.” The Green Lady understands this once her mind is cleared of the temptation to ‘keep’ things on the fixed land. “The reason for not yet living on the fixed land is so plain. How could I wish to live there except that it was fixed? And why should I desire the fixed, except to make sure – to be able on one day to command where I should be the next and what should happen to me? It was to reject the wave- to draw my hands out of Maleldil’s…to put on our own power what times should roll towards us…that would have been cold love, and feeble trust.” By trying to control our lives, we show that we do not trust God. If we did, we would take him seriously when he tells us to sell our things, give them away, travel light, and drop everything and follow him. Yes, of course, much of this has to do with charitable giving to help others. But, like all commands God gives us, I believe that it is a two-sided benefit. By giving we relinquish our hold, not just on that item, but on all other possessions, our future, our direction, and life itself. We surrender to the not-knowing, but always at the direction of the one who knows all. Along the way our characters are molded, and in submitting to each new adventure, suggestion, and leading, we are prepared for the ultimate adventure; death. After all, J. M. Barrie, Aristotle, and Albus Dumbledore agree;
“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By (New York: Penguin Compass, 1972), 9.
C.S. Lewis, “On Science Fiction,” Of Other Worlds (San Diego: Harcourt, Inc. 1994), 70-71.
C. S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2001), 3.
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, (London: William B Eerdmans Publishing, 1972), 29.
Campbell, Myths to Live By, 10.
Campbell, Myths to Live By, 7.
In one respect Joseph Campbell, and the rest of people who cannot bear the Bible because of some people’s dogged determination to hold on to the level of ignorance of the known world that our ancestors had to bear (keeping in mind that at each writing of the Bible, the authors were at the most advanced point that civilization had, up to that point, seen. In another millennia, will our ancestors look back at us and pity us for our limited understanding of the world? Of course they will.) We cannot look down on the writers of the Bible who used pictorial language to describe a flat world. We can, in charity, make allowances for their ignorances. That is no reason to hold on to the way God condescended to their level of understanding as the entire truth. God has allowed our scientific and medical advances, and has given us the capacity to explore and learn. We should appreciate this, not attempt to sublimate it in order to stay safely orthodox. In the other extreme, we must not go so far as to speak of the Bible as Literature. Parts of it are not even that well written. Moses’ thrice-repeated instructions to the Israelites can’t hold a candle to the elegant prose of Homer. In many cases the writers of the Bible were unskilled men trying to capture their experiences with God, and they fare no better than most of us would have done at writing a streamlined narrative. As Literature, the Bible is inconsistent. It is not a science book. In Job, it is likely not even history. But the Bible is, and is made up of great stories of an amazingly creative God. Removed from the constraints that two thousand years of religion has built up around it, and trying to read it afresh, you can see the amazing stories spring to life. God is an author. He gave words power to create. God is all about the stories.
Job 38:7 NIV (New International Version).
Genesis 6:1-2,4, NIV (New International Version).
Taken from Judges 3:15-26, NIV (New International Version).
Taken from 2 Kings 7:3-9, NIV (New International Version).
John 21:25, NIV (New International Version).
J. R. R. Tolkien, Return of the King, ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994),321.
Peter Pan, 2003.
C. S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet, (New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, Published by Simon and Schuster, 1996) 74.
C. S. Lewis, Perelandra (New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, Published by Simon and Schuster, 1996), 42.
Lewis, Perelandra, p 48.
C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces, (San Diego: Harcourt, Inc. 1956.) 305.
C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (San Francisco: HarperCollins Books, 1946), 101-102
Luke 9:24-25 NIV (New International Version)
Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV (New International Version)
1 Corinthians 7:29-31 NIV (New International Version)
The Magician’s Nephew, 174.
Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (New York: Bantam Books, 1987), 109.
Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet, 75.
J. K. Rowlings, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, (New York: Scholastic, Inc, 1997), 297.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Missions Weekend, my church. Mission week for me as well -- which you would know instantly if you saw my eyes, which always seem to be at their unexplainable worst whenever I have to teach, preach, or share. Can't figure out why, but it seems to be the only pattern to these episodes. This week I spoke three times about Cambodia, and spent three services running a booth for Compassion, so I can pretty much kiss contacts goodbye.
I don't understand how a church as large as mine can manage a well publicized, well organized missions weekend where only 20 ladies came to the women's function. (Which, despite attendence, was a wonderful two days).
I don't understand how in a church as large as mine, and as affluent, not a single person sponsored a child today.
I understand. We're busy. Those that give have their own list of charities. Those that don't, don't want to anyway.
I shouldn't have watched "The Girl in the Cafe" this weekend. It isn't helping.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Does anyone actually want to read this monster?
If so, I'll post it for a bit, if not don't worry. It's 9 pages long -- out of the required 5.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Don't you hate it when bad things happen to a good book? I went to Powell's on my way to work yesterday (this sentence is more profound if you realize that Powells is here, and work is here), and bought an impulse buy. The title, "An Assembly Such as This, A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman" by Pamela Aidan. It's yet another in a long line of Pride and Prejudice spinoffs, but this one is from the point of view of Mr. Darcy as the events of Pride and Prejudice are occurring.
As most P&P addicts, I enjoy just about any spinoff, no matter how silly, poorly written, or just plain raunchy, but this one took me by surprise. I think it does a plausible job of showing Darcy's thought process, and the scene where he attends the Ball at Netherfield determined to get back in Elizabeth's good graces, but unbeknownst to him Elizabeth has just heard Wickham's recitation of wrongs, cannot manage to even be civil.
But as I reached the end of a quick read, I realized we were nowhere near far enough in the storyline to merit the book ending, and "discussion questions" beginning. So I looked online.
They published it as a trilogy.
Now I have to buy two more sucking books to finish out the series!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
We've hit that point again! (it's a good thing) My nails are so long I'm having trouble typing. They all wore off in Cambodia with all the scrubbing, clothes washing, etc.
Tuesday I got off work several hours early to race into town for the follow up on a year ago's ticket deferrment. The judge was running ahead of schedule, and once we hit the half hour, she asked all of us with the same thing to come forward, checked our driving records, and let us go with no paperwork. I celebrated by going to the thrift stores to check on some new clothes for my audition that evening. I found a pair of express jeans.
After that I raced into the gas station, filled up, raced home, mapquested, pasted a fresh resume on a headshot, redid my makeup, fixed my hair, and drove to my audition. Seattle this time. For a french film. On the way there I discovered I'd left my purse at home.
All the way I said my lines in French over and over trying to get them to roll effortlessly and quickly off the tongue. I'd been practicing the last few days at work, too. I read french pretty well -- I read Le Lion, Le Sorciere Blanche, et l'Armoir Magique while I was in Battambang. But right now the foreign language in my head is Khmer. I called Teri and asked her to run over it with me and catch any glaring problems. She fixed a few inflection things as well. Then, I made my way in, did my thing, read the English sides twice, and went to Miles and Becky's.
We watched Stranger than Fiction. Great Movie!
Yesterday morning I got up at my normal time, had to commute into work by 10. Made coffee and showered while the Logsdon's walked Jake. We had coffee together, then I got on the road. Traffic was pretty good unitl the 405 one town above my turnoff. Then I sat and sat -- and had to call work and tell them I'd be late. 45 minutes late. But they didn't have a single table, and two of the other waitresses were on already.
Work was a fiasco. A few words sums it all up. 20-top. Separate Checks. Nursing Home. No auto grat. Impatient to shop. Sign and go. No tips.
Today, I'm doing a few things later -- probably getting ready to go garage sale-ing tomorrow since I don't have to go in until evening. I haven't sold everything I bought two weekends ago. But I've listed a few, and perhaps today, after I watch a lot of tv and play, I'll get some more done.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I joined a new auditions/performers group this week, just to see how it compares to the other I'm on, and also because it focuses on theater and film-making in the Seattle area. Hurrah! Between that and Craig's list, I've got two auditions lined up! One on the eighth for a short film, and one my next set of days off for a satirical - don't laugh - soap opera.
I can't even tell you how excited I am. I'll stay on the other site, since I'm already there and have my bio and headshots all worked up and all, but I'm so happy that I've decided to explore several options at once.
My paper still isn't finished, but I've got a rough draft done and ready for editing.
And my car, my baby, cost me $1,500 in repairs after it exploded in a cloud of smoke on Saturday. That'll keep me working a little longer than I'd hoped.
And Cai for no explainable reason has taken to walking on the piano to get my attention. Odd little monster.
Friday, September 14, 2007
So here I am, 4 out of the next 5 days off of work. Hurrah! I've been needing a break to catch up on so many things.
This morning I went Garage Sale-ing for things to sell on eBay and hit the mother load in two sales (out of three). I found vintage jewelry, vintage handkerchiefs, some wide yardages of lace, and lovely teacups. I may go out tomorrow, too, since I work next friday and saturday, which puts a real kink into my garage sale schedule. Only a couple more weeks of work left. Hurrah! (They seem to be under the impression that I'm staying for a while. I'll have to let them know one of these days)
I'm also, finally, writing my final paper that is 75% of my online grade. So far I've done the introduction, but at least I'm getting somewhere. The goal is to finish it today if at all possible. Tomorrow at the latest.
I've spent most of my free time having gone back and forth to the post office, and taking a few things in for repair. My silver necklace I've worn for seven years broke its chain, my mother's watch stopped ticking, and my black leather boots need re-heeled. Also sorting through my stuff again, getting rid of supurfluous things, and trying to prepare for...well, whatever.
Lots of emailing about auditions, several headshots gone off in the mail. A few takers, but none I'm very very interested in at this point. Filming going to happen in Portland in a few weeks.
Ebay sales are creeping closer to a plane ticket to Chicago. Very excited about that.
A very interesting couple in at work a few nights ago. The night after my big long bad attitude, foot in mouth day. The next day, by the way, was one of THOSE days. When you've determined that today you will not complain nor think bad thoughts about anyone, instead remembering that all people have value, and that God loves them all at least as much as you, etc etc. Then everyone is impossible to please, buys very small amounts of food and splits it many directions, sends you back for endless condiments, and complains first that the food is too expensive, that they don't want a lot of food, then that what they ordered is too little.
But at the end of it, a couple comes in. I chat a little with them before the meal, then, as I'm clearing up, I ask them what they're doing in the mountains. They're up camping, they tell me, but they love just travelling around. They're recently retired and enjoying the freedom. They said too many of their friends are too tied down by the debt, the boat, the cars, the house, to go out and do or see or eat anything. They've sold all but their house, and now travel around, following byroads, dirt highways, and taking scenic tours at random. Before they met, she gave up everything, loaded up her car, and lived off her Alaskan teacher's retirement as she toured the country visiting people. Put 10,000 miles on her car in three months. Sometimes she stayed with friends, sometimes she camped, sometimes she slept in the backseat. But she said it was the best time she ever had.
I find that inspiring.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
So now its true confessions time. After all of my many, many (probably too many for those of you reading my blog all along) posts about crappy tippers, difficult customers, and especially crappy Christian tippers...here's how I failed yesterday.
It was slow yesterday (merely to set the stage, mind you, not excuse me) and my first or second table was a couple of ladies. They wanted to split a breakfast, one had coffee (decaff) and one wanted hot tea. Hot tea makes most waitresses at our restaurant cringe. Unlike coffee, which only needs a cup and maybe a creamer, hot tea requires a tea cup and saucer, a small teapot and matching lid, filled with hot water, a box of tea packets, and perhaps creamer and honey as well. This particular customer only wanted Earl Grey -- which in our "Passion" and "Calm" teas selection, means decifering attractive labels of soothing nothing-much-to-help-you. I brought the tea. After quite some time, one person ordered a meal. They asked if it was too early for a hamburger (at 9:30). I was determined to dislike them. Especially after the lady wanted a refill on her teapot, and if I wouldn't mind, I could just put a fresh teabag in there for her, thanks. The other lady was a gusher. Everything was just wonderful from the china pattern to the poached egg. I'm not great with gushers in the morning. Then, came the crux of it all, an hour later. I cleared their plate away and one went into thoughts and prayers she'd been praying for the other. Oh I was set to hate them, now. Early morning, hot tea, one breakfast, sitting for hours, and now PRAYING. I could be they'd leave a crappy tip....
$6 on a meal less than $15.
Slightly shagrined, I asked forgiveness for my bad attitude as I washed the table.
But I hadn't learned anything later on. There was a couple in for lunch. No drinks. Maybe one coffee. They weren't ready yet. They weren't ready yet. Still not ready. Maybe just a touch more coffee, and lets discuss the menu, shall we? Ok. I couldn't possibly have them make just a (something we didn't have on the menu). No? Well, I guess.... They were polite, but they ate and ate and ate deliberately. Fork in one hand, knife in the other, European style, put down between bites, and chew like its your last meal on death row. His plate is empty, she's still chewing. Still going. Still cutting tiny slices and talking. I check on them. Ten minutes later I check again. I offer to take his plate. Oh, lets not do that until....rueful shrug. I walk away annoyed, determined to let them sit for a LONG time now. Finally they let me take their plates away. I bring the bill. He pays, and they both head to the bathroom. Cash. $6 tip, 20%. Oh. And they've left $5 more on the table. Crap. I go up to talk to him, ask him about themselves, and a conciliatory act (some of my faulty memory wants me to think that I went to talk to him as I took the money, not sucking up after he gave it to me. Can't remember now. Oh wait, I did. Because I saw the money on the table after I talked to him, and called after him "oh wait, you've given me far too much" as he headed to the bathroom). Where are they going?
Well, my wife is suffering from cronic kidney failure and the doctor says this is our last trip into the mountains.
I almost cried. Then I almost threw up. How can I take their money now, with all the horrid thoughts I thought about them all through dinner. I can't go up and hand it back -- that might assuage my guilt, but it'll make them feel terrible if I walk up and say, "I don't deserve this 'cause I was thinking aweful things about you for over an hour." So, after I failed to catch his attention, I waited for them to come out of the bathrooms, and I bought them dessert, on me, to take with them on their last hike in the mountains. Both, whatever they wanted.
And she hugged me when I brought it out, like I'd made a dying woman's last day so happy.
I still feel sick. I'm crying while I type. Still. A whole day later.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Just to do a bit of shameless self promotion...
The 1-7 Harry Potter Boxed set, the reason I haven't bought any of the Harry Potter books so far, except paperbacks, secondhand at Goodwill, will become available on September 11 in the UK, and October 16th for the US version.
My birthday is coming up.
In three months.
All I want is the Harry Potter boxed set, preferably the UK version so I don't have to grumble my way through the boot/trunk, jumper/sweater, bogie/booger conversions. Put your heads together, join forces, do it anonymously if you feel you simply cannot give more money to the thing eroding the very foundations of our society....
Harry Potter, boxed set, 1-7.
Actually, though, the US version does come in a lovely little carrying case that is kind of nice, and would look good next to my Lewis box sets, but the UK adult version, with its sci-fi cover, would look well next to my LOTR box sets.
Think about it.
This has been a very 'wasted' day off. I've been sick all week, so instead of spending yet another precious free day driving to an audition (about hypocrital christians in an urban family -- maybe not something I'd want to play anyway...though this week at work tipped me over the edge the other direction), I stayed home today.
Last night was wonderful! I walked to Blockbuster and rented Sense and Sensibility (Alan Rickman...one of my favorite actors), Closer with Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Julia Roberts, and He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not with Audrey Tautou (from Amelie). I walked into the new pottery and glazing store to check out prices, and then to Shopko and bought myself a mermaid coloring book. The urge to color with good crayons has been quite strong. Especially since I've been buying box after box of fresh, new, never opened 96 Crayolas for our Operation Christmas Child boxes. So I got out my old box of 120, given to me by Adrian some birthday back in college, and my new Mermaid generic $1 bargain book and drew pictures for my kids in Tanzania and the Philippines. I watched two movies in the bargain.
Today I finished the book I've been working on between endless work shifts, White Oleander, and had a few naps. I still haven't finished my Lewis final paper, which I want to write, but want to do well, so I'm waiting for a good stretch of time. Today would have been good, but it feels SO GOOD to nap and loaf around. I haven't had a free day at home in weeks. I've ordered a carry out pizza and will watch the Audrey Tatou movie over dinner. Hard to read subtitles and color at the same time.
I spent some time this morning tracking down a director I worked with last fall who hasn't sent me my reel, and putting another item on eBay to see if I can sell enough to buy a plane ticket to Chicago in November.
I have one bone to pick, again, about waiting on Christians tables. I've said it before, but here's another friendly reminder from a person who is very glad that SHE has to wait on them, because they aren't going to harm their 'witness' to me, just annoy me very much and give me something to blog about:
This week has been church visits week. Pastors meetings, church groups, individuals. So far I've enjoyed the pastors and the couple from Georgia who have done a lot of missions trips the most. One group of women last week didn't like anything I brought them, everything wasn't how they'd pictured it (their fault, not mine, I'd brought everything they'd ordered out correctly). They didn't want croutons, and I can't remember what all now, but everything was very Screwtape Letters chapter 17 which I have dogeared since Solvang. Then, as I finished pouring fresh ground pepper on their salads, they all bowed their heads and told Jesus how greatful they were for the food. Huh. I wasn't fooled and I'm willing to be he wasn't either.
Thursday night I crawled off my pre-cold death bed and came to work hoping it would be busy since the prime rib buffet in the bar usually means a lot of overflow for the restaurant. Not the case that evening, and the three of us plus busser stood around. At 8:00 I was about to leave when one more table came in. A young couple on their 10 year anniversary. It was my turn, and they ordered appetisers and expensives meals, so I decided to hang on anyway for the tip at the end. They bowed their heads and prayed in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The average meal lasts 40 minutes to an hour. An hour and a half later, they were still talking, kissing, holding hands. They wanted dessert. They were taking pictures of each other. I offered to take one with them both in it, and took two at their table, two in front of the fireplace. The other waitress took pictures of them down the hallway on a large couch. Then...they disappeared into the bathrooms. We waited. Their dessert was uneated. 10 minutes later they still hadn't come back, and neither of us wanted to go check on them. Finally they reappeared, ate dessert, paid their check, and left a $3 tip on a $60+ tab, and a comment card with all tens and a "keep up the good work!" Huh.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Sunday, September 02, 2007
This week I've been communicating a director in Vancouver, BC. Everyday I checked my email before I went to work to see if I had an audition. Thursday I still hadn't heard from him, and knew that if I didn't, I'd have a message on my phone when I reached mile marker 115 telling me that I had one that evening.
I should learn to listen to my sixth sense. On my way home, sure enough, was a message from Rummi re-confirming my 9:30 audition. (Reconfirming? That implies it was confirmed at one point.) So I called Becky to see if I could crash there, and called the director to reschedule for 10:25 the next night.
Friday was my day off. I did errands, shipped ebay items out, got my rock chip repaired, and was ready to leave town from getting gas on 16th and Lincoln. On my way out I remembered that I'd forgotten my headshot. Ran back home. Went from home to deposit my last tips for gas money on 1st. Had a litle more time, so stopped in at the Lighthouse to talk to Nancy for half an hour. Left the Lighthouse and drove to Ellensburg. Four miles outside of Ellensburg I remembered another crucial tidbit. While I was in Cambodia legislation was passed that you can't cross the border now without a passport. Mine was in a drawer at home.
I called Miles to make sure there was no way I could cross. Then turned the car around and drove back to Yakima, got my passport, and turned around again, now two hours later than I'd intended.
Finally on the way I talked to Kristina. I pulled into Seattle at 6:30 -- just in time for dinner with the Logsdons before finishing out my trip to the border by 10:00. At 7:30 I got on the road again, making good time. The director called again to ask if I could be there an hour early. Not exactly. I told him my eta was 10, and I couldn't get there any sooner.
9:30 pm I reached the border, with 25 miles to go. And there I hit a major snag. A line stretched out for miles from the border. With the clock inching towards 10, I finally had to concede defeat and call the director to tell him I would be there neither at 10, nor 10:30, but more like 11. He sighed and said his crew had a long two days, and he couldn't keep them any longer.
So I pulled off the road at the last mile marked in the US and got gas, got coffee, and called the director back to talk to some of the other directors who were auditioning the next day. None of the shows sounded worth spending an hour and a half crossing the border plus buying a hotel room for. I turned around and drove back to Seattle.
The plus side, in 6 weeks I can try this again for three shows that all sound really interesting. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
I'm also stalling. I have a sewing project I've promised to do, but now, much as I would love to be finished with the thing, I didn't hear back from the lady about the questions I'd had (which way the stripes are supposed to go, and should they all go the same direction, or should some go one way, and some the other), so I didn't get to it on my days off -- now I'm working 7 days straight, and have to get this dress done. You'd think I'd plan this better.
I also have a 5,000 word final paper to write...sometime.
I am supposed to hear back from last Saturday's audition "by today." The silence doesn't bode well...
And ironically -- considering today's Little Red Boat post, I cooked myself bacon wrapped pork chops tonight. Stop shuddering, Teri.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
In our first week in Battambang we were taken to the killing fields -- the site of thousands of murders by the Khmer Rouge. Many people were shoved from the top of the mountain to die on the rocks below. Sadistic guards would swing infants into the rock walls. Strong men were either hung or electrocuted.
On top of the mountain is a very old Wat (pagoda is the western word for it). How old? So old that it has throwbacks to its Hindu origens. See the blue statue with all the arms? That's not a Buddhist but a Hindu god in a Buddhist temple. As elsewhere in Asia, beliefs are very mixed together and adopted. Buddhists in cambodia are also strongly influenced by Chinese ancestor worship and tribal animism.
We all look at a gun leftover from the last ditch attempt by the Khmer Rouge to keep the conquering armies from crossing over from Thailand.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Cultural Standards of Beauty
One of the things that amazed me so much about Cambodia is how much they want to look like anything but what they do. Many times people would tell me how beautiful my skin is. I would tell them that their skin is beautiful too (watch American beauty standards coming into play -- we all want to be tan with small noses) and they'd say, no. They have Cambodian skin. I also got stopped a lot by people telling me how beautiful my 'tall' nose is. (In America I've twice been offered to have my nose job paid for.)
We all want to look different than we are. It's probably 'natural' to want to be someone else. I've always wished I could have long straight dark brown hair and small, even features (suprisingly, I've never wanted to be tall, no matter how convenient it would be for reaching top shelves).
In Cambodia light skin is the ultimate desire. Women wear turtlenecks, long pants, elbow length gloves, hats, scarves covering head and face, and often a sweater over all that -- all in the attempt not to tan. It is impossible to buy lotion in this country that isn't whitening - as you can see from the picture.
In one sense it is true that we all want what we can't have. Since most people Cambodia have dark hair, dark skin, and dark eyes, they want white skin, big eyes and tall noses instead. But in one way America is different -- yes we all perhaps aren't satisfied with the way we are made, but there is more of a license to have different kinds of beauty. With all the fashion and design shows out there, one things that does come across (on What Not to Wear for example) is find out what looks best on you. Highlight your own good features and don't try to copy someone else. Even in a culture that does have some standards of beauty -- the look for beauty isn't as cookie cutter anymore. What we consider beautiful is tall, dark, short, tall, dark, light, red, green, black, blue, thin as a stick, or curvy. What is beautiful is to be comfortable in your own skin. Find something you like about yourself and play it up. I, for example, love my eyes and put makeup on them everyday, whether I wear more than chapstick anywhere else. I know Teri loves her hair.
Who else has a favorite feature?
I just wish that my Cambodian sisters can learn to start appreciating how they were made, and how unique their culture is, as they hurry to throw it out and become western as quickly as possible.
Culture is unique. It's alright to like other cultures, other foods, other looks or ways of living. But don't forget to appreciate who you are, and where you were put on this earth.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Compassion is highly rated.
Charity Navigator, an independent charity review group, has given Compassion their best rating five years in a row. That places Compassion among the top 1 percent of the thousands of non-profit charitable organizations they review. Compassion is also a good-standing member of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I woke up this morning at 9 .... and 10....and 11. (I keep blaming my sleep schedule on the jet lag, though really it's been two weeks and the effects should have worn off by now) Petted the cat, moseyed over to make breakfast, sat down, ate slowly. Enjoyed the fact that I had a few hours until work started to get moving at my favored morning pace...snail. I happened to wander past my day planner and saw, OH MY GOSH! I have to be at work at 12, not 3. It's 11:20. I'm in my pajamas. I have a 45 minute commute.
(I admit it. I swore.) Then I ran around like a mad woman trying to find some of my blacks that aren't covered in lint, wrinkled, or too small (I CAN still blame the rice). Washed my face, threw in my contacts, grabbed my makeup bag and ran to the car. My only detour was to stop at the ATM and pull out some cash to make change (didn't need it, though, almost all paid with credit card and no one wanted change). Called work to tell them I'd overslept and to expect me 10 minutes late, and drove like a restrained bat out of hell because I can't get a ticket again until after my hearing sometime in September for the last ticket I got and paid to defer.
So I got there, 15 minutes late, unshowered, ready to go. It was a medium day. Slow maybe for them, but I had plenty to think about trying to remember how to push all the right buttons.
I made $115. Not bad for my first day back to work. And it makes a bit of a dent, anyway, in all the things I had to charge to my credit card these past few weeks when money was lacking and doctor visits had to be made. Hurrah.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
My next paper is on Mere Christianity -- Lewis' most widely read non-fiction book. I'm looking forward to reading it again, as I've quoted it a lot in previous papers on Lewis.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
I caught a mental image of myself standing in line at the supermarket...all my groceries in my eco-shopping bag, blouse with traces of cat hair from petting Cai when I got back from Seattle. Somehow it all tied in with the usual question, "So, any men in your life we should know about?" Nope. Some good friends. And most of them, right now, are in Cambodia and far younger than me.
How is it that everyone around me seems to be all caught up in dating as a lifestyle. Did I miss the memo back in high school? Because now it seems that I've been so content (minus those lovely college years) to be single for so long, I don't even miss it. Other than the usual faint longing that stir when watching a Romantic Comedy or walking accidentally through the 'baby section' of anywhere. (I don't know anyone who can withstand the allure of baby booties. I know my sister sure as heck can't.)
I don't think I'm alone here. Though, four people I know have gotten married in the last 7 months or so. I don't hate men, in fact I rather like them as a whole. So what am I missing. Where did I lose the "must be in a relationship" drive. Was I absent that day?
Monday, August 06, 2007
Saturday, August 04, 2007
"Rich people have no right to sit down and enjoy themselves, or let their money accumulate for others to waste. It's not half so sensible to leave legacies when one dies as it is to use the money wisely while alive, and enjoy making one's fellow creatures happy with it. We'll have a good time ourselves, and add an extra relish to our own pleasure by giving other people a generous taste. Will you be a little Dorcas, going about emptying a big basket of comforts, and filling it up with good deeds?"
Louisa May Alcott
Thursday, August 02, 2007
I've been talking with some of the other westerners, all of whom are struggling with a combination of jet lag and culture shock. It's good to know I'm not the only one struggling with depression and guilt about all the stuff I have sitting around. My mother tried to give me a bunch of her clothes today and I couldn't take anymore. I have so much (none that fit right now -- but that's another story). The clothes she gave me were more than what I wore for 6 months in Cambodia. It's not the clothes -- Cambodian people in general have WAY more than I do. But we have so much stuff. Such clean streets. Such huge houses and green lawns. Paved roads. Grocery stores. Advertisements encouraging us to buy more and more. And I can't handle it right now. I can't walk though Wrays without getting flashes of the Mondulkiri Psar. I see someone's lovely green yard and see the yellowed patch of grass in Poipet where dozens of families are trying to have a picnic. I read the National Geographic in the waiting room and the pictures inside are more real to me than the doctors' office.
I'm struggling, and tired, and sleeping at odd hours, and depressed, and guilty, and overwhelmed.
So sorry that I haven't been out much. The little I've been out has been almost too much. Today I went the the doctor and almost cried at how clean the floor is. How much care was taken, compared to the 5 families stuck in one room with a woman coughing Tuburculosis everywhere.
So I'll try to get out more, but it's difficult enough staying in. There's nothing wrong with having things...and I'm trying so hard not to judge myself and judge others. But I have these pictures in my head now, that flash up in odd moments, and I want to cry almost all the time.
So, this too shall pass. Probably sooner than it ought.
Monday, July 30, 2007
So far I've seen my family and the Logsdons, and talked at some length with the Scobells. Today I have a phone date with my sister and Teri. I'm sure at some point I'll spend some time with actual people, but for right now -- ahhh the silence of my own apartment!
Saturday, July 28, 2007
See you all after the longest tomorrow in my history!
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Well outreach is over, everyone is back in Battambang, our last week of teaching is over, and we're all beginning to feel the withdrawl from the people who have become our multinational family for the last six months. My suitcase is half-packed (the rest of my area is a disaster -- I'm never in my room, always out with friends, talking, enjoying last smoothies, last coffees, last trips to the market, last midnight conversations. My team today had our last Barbecue) and my mind is already on the 'next step.' It's going to be hard to leave here. Unlike most DTSers we've spent our entire time here, and all of our outreaches were in the same country as well. Last night we had our last "Fasting Friday" and spent two hours thanking God for absolutely everything about the last six months that we could think of -- and towards the end one Khmer student thanked God for all the foreigners who care enough about their country to come here and help them. Today is our last free day. I went to Sunrise for breakfast, then went home to meet Yaroth and Thearvy for a few hours. Now I'm going to head home to write in my journal before I forget all the things I saw, the things I learned, the stories I was told, and the disasters turned ministry opportunities.
So here in a nutshell is just a snapshot of my time in Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri:
This is Mondulkiri after a rainstorm. We walked about two and a half hours into the Senmaroon Forest. Everywhere we walked in this part of Cambodia was so beautiful with the lush green criss crossed with red dirt roads. (The same beautiful red country roads after the rain made clothes washing a nightmare)
Me teaching English at the hospital. We were only encouraged to build a childrens room here with the stipulation that I would teach English, but most of the children were either too young or too sick to learn for long. So my English classes here were brief and mostly for the mothers. After about 15 minutes attention spans waned, and we could move onto....
....coloring with the children, which was far more fun for all of us.
Srey Mom, Marie and Srey Yung loved to help me sew yo-yos for my quilt. Most of them weren't quite up to par, but we came to a happy medium, and they all made enough yo-yos to have a headband apiece. (The boys would often join us as well)
Our team at Loka Village for the new church and orphanage opening. I was invited to cut the ribbon -- a big honor, I was told. Our last picture together as a team -- later that afternoon Bopha was injured in a moto accident and eventually went to Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and finally back to Argentina.
Top Row: Bopha, Sopheap, Me, Sumuuen
Bottom Row: Ratanak, Yee, Dina, Moses, Sokoen.