November 29, 2007

Call Me Scrooge

I've been having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit. Possibly because it is not yet December. Possibly because there is no snow. Or possibly because I'm aggravated by the pressure to buy gifts for many people. And my innate inability to buy pointless or standard gifts off a list of wanted items.

Downloading Amy Grant's Christmas album from 1983 has helped. So has going to Winners to buy decorations for the upcoming house Christmas party, and baking some sugar cookies.

But I'm still not full of Christmas cheer. Or at least the cultural Christmas that says I have to spend money on people to prove my love for them. Or something of the sort.

Bah, humbug.

November 27, 2007

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall...

Sometimes my own vanity astounds me. My self-absorption knows no limits...but I convince myself I'm two steps ahead of the rest of the world.

November 26, 2007

Risky Business

I'm not usually one to make snap decisions. Sometimes my spur-of-the-moment choices turn out well. But sometimes they don't, and I get burned. I was thinking about this today. Here are a list of some recent quick choices & their results...

1. Let's run a 5k! Sign up online for $50 for an end-of-season run.
Pro: I actually run during the fall, since I have a race to get through. And I get a free hoodie.
Con: I don't actually run the race (see #2). The hoodie snags easily.
Worth it? Not quite. But I'd do it again and hope for better results.

2. Let's eat cheap ethnic food! Thursday night supper & then Friday lunch.
Pro: Delicious and cheap meals. Two of them.
Con: My digestive tract is bothered by said meals. Couple this with a migraine, and I miss my 5k.
Worth it? No. Why do I not learn? I can't eat greasy ethnic more than once a week.

3. Let's dye my hair! Buy a box of do-it-yourself dye and go at it.
Pro: Something fun and different. Looks good.
Con: So natural next to no-one notices. Also, in 2 weeks, I'll have to decide whether to do it again or let my roots grow in.
Worth it? Yes. Next time I might go slightly more dramatic.

4. Let's get a haircut! Buy a package deal from a sales guy on campus and save much $$...
Pro: I get 4 visits to the salon/spa for the price of a haircut.
Con: It's downtown. And do I want a manicure?
Worth it? We'll see. If I make all four visits, probably. I liked the haircut.

5. Let's have a party! My Bible studies should celebrate the end of the semester.
Pro: Who doesn't like to have fun with new friends? Laughter = tighter friendships.
Con: I create more work for myself. I needed to bake cookies today (see #6).
Worth it? Probably. It's not a big sacrifice for the girls I work with.

6. Let's do lunch! After church meal gets a few more invites.
Pro: I make three new guy friends and laugh all afternoon.
Con: I don't bake this afternoon. Or clean the bathroom.
Worth it? Definitely. I cleaned tonight and will bake tomorrow.

7. Let's buy a sweater! I need one for the dress I'm wearing to a wedding next month.
Pro: It's on sale for $20! And it ends up matching perfectly.
Con: My roommates unanimously agree that I should wear a different dress to the wedding.
Worth it? Not really. It's a nice sweater, but I don't really need one more thing to clutter my closet.

November 23, 2007

Overheard.

This afternoon, I went to a coffee shop to read my Bible, journal, and spend some quality time with God. I dozed off. When I woke up, I had the following conversation with God.

Sorry, God.

Beth, I love you even if you fall asleep.

I know...

So why this guilt?

I feel like things should be different.

Like you shouldn't be so relaxed around me?

Well, sort of. I mean - I feel like I should be apologizing, or proving something or being generally amazed and ultra-attentive.

Why?

Because You deserve that. You should be listened to and loved and fawned over in the most sincere way. Because I never do enough for you.

You can't do "enough" if you tried. I gave you life so you wouldn't be stuck in this cycle. I'm not here to just incur more guilt. You can't do enough and I don't want you trying. The whole point of this is that you don't have to feel inadequate anymore.

So what am I supposed to do?

Love me.

It's never enough...I try to love You. I really do.

It's not about being enough.

Apparently I don't get that.

I know that you love me. I know that you want me. Beth - I am pleased with you. I am happy with what I see in you. And I love you.

But imagine how much better it would be if...

If what? You're putting standards on yourself that I never asked for. You're trying to perform at a level that I don't expect from you. Isn't that a bit ridiculous?

But I want to prove...that I'm worth it. That I love you. That I care and I try.

Prove to who - me? I already know your heart. I already know your worth. I gave you your worth.

This is true...

Prove to others? You don't need to do that. You know it's me that calls the shots, my call on what happens, on why, on who.

Again, You're right. So why do I do this? I mean, I know what You're saying is true. So why do I keep trying to prove things?

Because you don't really believe it.

Believe what?

That I love you. That I cannot love you m ore, that I will not love you less if you neer acknowledge me again. That there is nothing you have done that has earned even the tiniest bit of my love. That I know every sin and every imperfection and I love you anyway.

I want to be lovable, though.

It's not about being lovable. Being lovable implies that you could be unlovable, and you can't. I love you. You can't change that. You can't be unlovable, because I made you.

That seems almost nonsensical.

It's not. It makes perfect sense to me.

But I'm not You.

This is true. [smile]

I guess this is what You meant when You said Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts, that Your ways are not my ways.

Now you're getting it.

Thanks, God...

You're welcome. You are always welcome.

[pause]

So what now?

Well, I think that's up to you...

November 20, 2007

An American Cultural Icon

I read a great article this morning. It was about Oprah. I generally stay unopinionated when it comes to her, but I'm not really a fan. I used to watch her show when I babysat. It panders to me. But...although I'm fascinated, I don't quite like it all. As Wendy commented, "She's become her own god."

November 19, 2007

Intentional = Right?

On Saturday night, at a party with my ultimate friends, Wendy & I got into a great spiritual conversation with one of our teammates (Unfortunately, I was hampered by what I think was a migraine). His perception of right and wrong was essentially this: if you intentionally make a decision, it is right. Good and bad are relative, dependent upon what the individual dictates them to be. So long as you are aware of your choices, you are doing fine.

I disagreed. The night before (or maybe Thursday night?), I sat in the living room for a few minutes after everyone else had left for bed. I slouched on our slouchy couches and thought about life. Then I decided I didn't want to think anymore. So I got up and turned the TV on. And I started watching. Roughly 5 minutes later, I decided that this wasn't actually an appropriate way to deal with stress. So I turned it off and went to bed instead.

My ultimate friend said, no. So long as I was aware of my choice, it was perfectly fine for me to turn that TV back on - that if I want to deal with stress by numbing my mind to it, so be it! So long as I'm informed.

I wish I could have better explained the difference between forgiveness and absolution. In his worldview, we either live allow others' wrongs against us to control our lives and are "victims," or we refuse to be held back by the things done to us, and they are no longer wrong. Abuse is only wrong if I let it hold me back. If I don't, it isn't wrong.

This bothered me deeply. But then someone else joined the conversation who was slightly more intoxicated and slightly less respectful. So I soon bowed out. Good thing there are more parties coming up...

November 16, 2007

The New FYI

Last night, one of my housemates was amazed at the multi-tasking of my desktop. I had open my email, face-crap, a couple of msn conversations, music, and some work files. Apparently, I typify my generation in its approach to these machines.

I think that I am atypical, though, in my attitude toward computer lingo. More specifically, towards instant messaging lingo. I'll admit, I'm more than a bit snobbish. Shortforms drive me bonkers. For a variety of reasons.

Disclaimer: I am not angry or intending to make fun of my friends who use these phrases - I don't get angry. Actually, I am poking fun a little. But I'm not intending to cut you down.

BRB - the only one I use with any consistency - because I generally type it as I run from the computer to whatever interruption is drawing me away. I genuinely have an excuse for not typing the entire thing. I've never said it in person-to-person conversation. More energy- & syllable- efficient is the simple "One sec" or "Hang on..."

I don't know when I last used LOL. I rarely laugh out loud when I'm on my computer (I'm not a laugh-alone person). When I do, the situation is so funny that I have to use something more meaningful. Like, "Seriously - I'm laughing out loud. This is hilarious!"

BTW. It's the new FYI. The first time a friend said it to me in conversation, I didn't get what he meant. It's now synonymous with him. Whenever friends type it online, I hear it in his voice. Ironically, BTW takes longer to say, as it has more syllables than the actual phrase (5 to 3).

Most bothersome to me is WTF. I remember one friend who didn't understand why I was surprised to read it on her blog. I didn't understand how she didn't understand...Then again, I freely used the phrase "Mother Hubbard" to vent frustration for years before I realized that most people heard something rather different.

When I think about it, my aversion to these types of shortforms comes down to three simple things:
a) overuse.
b) exclusivity (I hate it when I think someone typed gibberish, but turns out it's the latest TLA*) and
c) the shortforms are not always effective. They often take longer to say than the phrases they represent, or phrases that communicate the same thing.



*TLA = three letter acronym. And yes, I used it intentionally. You may also note that I typed out the entire phrase "instant messaging" instead of the colloquial IM

November 14, 2007

Into the Wild

Last night, I watched Into the Wild with some friends from church. [spoiler alert!] It was a really contemplative and thoughtful movie, and fairly tragic too. With the disclaimer that there is nudity (mostly of the non-sexual type) and some language, I'd recommend it. Basically, it follows the true story of Chris, a guy who graduates college and promptly disappears on a two year adventure of hitchhiking and exploring.

Three characters stood out to me. Each of them almost made me cry, and all were old men. The first was this man on a payphone to his wife. He was pleading with her to take him back, apologizing for some unknown spat. His time is almost up, and Chris, who is at the payphone next to him, about to call his family, passes over a quarter so he can keep talking. The man's shaking hand puts it into the slot, but within 5 seconds, the woman on the other end hangs up. I'm left doubly sad - at this lonely and regretful old man, and at Chris, who passes up one more chance to call his family (they never do hear from him).

The next old man lived in Slab City, and was referred to as "Salvation Lenny." A spindly old man who paints massive murals on "Salvation Mountain" about Jesus' love, he confidently tells Chris that he believes in love, and that God's love for us is the great mystery of the universe. He is passionate and eager and endearing, showing them around his little place. I should like to meet him someday.

The third old man was a more significant character - Ron takes Chris in shortly before he heads off on his "Great Alaskan Adventure." He is old and alone, and you know that he both teaches and learns from Chris. He asks, as he takes Chris to the highway to hitchhike north, if he could adopt Chris. Chris says they will talk about it when he comes back from Alaska...only he never does.

Chris is running from pain and from living a life he doesn't want. He thinks he will find peace in his experiences, in the vast expanse of Alaska. Two quotes that I hope he actually said stuck in my mind. Near the start of his adventure, he burns the last of his money (after giving $24 000 to charity), and later explains to someone, "Money makes you cautious." But I immediately disagree. It is love that makes you cautious - whether you love money or a person, loving something makes you cautious, because wrapped up in love is the fear of loss.

Of course, in all good tragedies, realizations come one moment too late. Once Chris realizes he wants people around him, people to love and care for...well, it doesn't happen, try as he might. During his final days, we see him shaky-handed, writing above a paragraph in Dr. Zhivago that he quoted just days before. He writes: HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED.

Now I know that the movie people twist these things around to emphasize aspects that will get us in the gut, and I often resist that pretty hard. But in that moment...as he cried on his arms, knowing that he was going to die alone in the wild...I hurt for him. I wondered if there might not have been some other way for him to learn the things he needed to, some chance for him to put them into practice. I wished that the ending was different. I left feeling sad that his story is already finished.

(Sometimes, I hate movies based on real-life.)

November 13, 2007

A Rather Relevant Email...

From a work-related email I received this morning. The only thing I would modify is that "going green" is actually a part of "going red":

The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away; the haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth… Isaiah 24:4-6


Hardly a day goes by now where we don’t hear something about “global warming.” The changing of the earth’s temperature to the point that the ice caps are melting, bringing among other things, the threat of flooding, heat waves, forest fires, extreme weather, and even the question of the ability of some species to survive as the changes impact their natural habitat. With this comes the constant fear for the future of our children and our grandchildren, and the kind of world they will inherit.

The world blames this problem on too much hairspray and too many cars on the road. They believe if we will “go green,” we could turn this frightful trend around. For the longest time I did not even believe in global warming, but I have changed my mind about that. I found in Deuteronomy 28:23-24 that God said that if we do not obey His voice, He will turn the heavens over our heads to bronze, and the earth will be like iron, that he would change the rain to powder and dust, and that it would come down on us till we are destroyed. I would suggest that given the source of our problem, disobeying God, “going green” is not the solution; rather I believe we need to “go red!” We need to see people come into the blood covenant with Jesus, and hear and obey His voice, then will He heal our land (2 Chronicles. 7:14).

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Romans 8:20-22

November 12, 2007

Melting Icecaps

Last night, I watched An Inconvenient Truth. I feel more personal responsibility to change the way we treat our earth than the guys I watched it with. They figure that since Jesus is coming back before the end of the world, it doesn't really matter anyway. I think stewardship is important, whether the end of the world is inevitable or not.

This morning I read in Luke about the "Signs of the Ends of the Age." And I have to admit that I'm not really eager for Jesus to come back. I mean, I want him too. But I'm fearful for the general consequences and the massive unpleasantness that is a part of justice. Also, I think the specifics of what will happen are not as clearcut as the Left Behind series makes them out to be. I think there is a lot of ambiguity in the Bible, mixing symbolic and factual prophecies.

As I was praying about this whole thing, I wrote, "I desire that none should perish, Lord - and I often forget that you feel the same." I'm not sure how I forget, but I do. God's compassionate heart longs for people to know Him. His love and justice live in a fine tension, and it's one I think we'll always struggle to understand.

But for now, I think we need to turn off our lightbulbs.

November 9, 2007

Lunch Break

I like the shower at my parents' place in Ontario. The spout is far above my head, and I don't have to duck to wash my hair. Here, the shower head is roughly at my shoulder blades. Were people really that short 90 years ago??

Last night I laughed a lot with my housemates. I don't remember what about exactly, but I do know that for the second time, one of us was invisible to another as they entered the room. Last time, Lynsey was under a blanket on a couch and scared Dan when she moved. This time, Wendy came in, saw Dan, Andrew & I, and a minute later commented, "Oh, Kurt! I didn't see you behind Dan..."

Bowling with my staff team was a blast this morning. During game one, I designated myself Official Team Dud, as I was the only one who didn't break 100. Game two was the official "trick bowling" game, and rules varied from the "Twinkle-toes" run to bowling from a chair to the ever-amazing Granny-bowl. We laughed. The women in the Friday morning league were less than impressed. We were reprimanded by the manager, but when we left, he assured us he wasn't really bothered, but the women were complaining...

I think I'm getting sick. Thankfully, I have a long weekend to recover. I will read a book and sleep lots. Hopefully.

November 5, 2007

Highlights

A few favourite moments from my extended layover in Guelph:

  • breakfast and visiting with Jenn. Not just because Angel's makes good french toast, either.
  • visiting with Mom, Dad, Jonathan, Stephen, Jenn & Jake. I really miss my family, and the inevitable growing up and apart.
  • shopping with Mom for a birthday gift, then Jonathan for jeans.
  • an afternoon of fun with Sarah Primmer and Heather. I think they're both fantastic, and I'm glad I matter to them.
  • an evening chat with Kirsten and Mindy. I feel great relief to know that I'm not alone in my fears and struggles. Having coworkers who are also friends is a good thing.

November 2, 2007

Hunny Pots

I think I have always disliked honey.

Peanut butter? Yuck.
Honey? Yuck.

I'd try every so often, hoping that things would change. But one slice of toast would turn me off for another six months.

When I gave it a shot in September, something had changed. My tastebuds had grown up, and honey was no longer sickeningly sweet with a weird after taste. It was delightful. Smooth and sticky and oh-so-yummy. I eat it every other day for breakfast.

I wish I could say the same for peanut butter.

In cookies? Delicious.
In sauce? Scrumptious.
On bread? Unpleasant.
By the spoon? Revolting.

I may be one of 3 people in the world, but I can honestly say: I don't like peanut butter, and I don't think I ever will.

November 1, 2007

Giving Up

Second day, and I'm already cheating. The random song theory isn't being fruitful. It's resulting songs that are too similar to each other. And others that I don't really like. I might just start picking the songs that I find stuck in my head.

Also, I think it's not a lack of motivation to write. More a lack of time. Actually, it might be a combination of both. Possibly the lack of time makes me too tired to turn the inspiration in my head into worthwhile verbal thoughts.