April 28, 2008

Wiping My Eyes

I don't cry easily in public. I may have mentioned this before. Crying by myself in public is even more difficult.

But War/Dance caused the floodgates to break open, and I found myself viciously wiping my eyes and tipping my head back on the plane, hoping no one saw. At the same time, I was glad that this film moved me. If I hadn't cried...I would have been more bothered.
Anyway. The film is a documentary, following three students in northern Uganda. They live in a displaced persons camp of 60 000, and for the first time ever, their school is able to compete in the National Music Competition. Each teen has a different & heart-wrenching story.

Rose's parents were both killed by guerrillas - she was hiding in the bush, and knows that her parents gave their life for hers. They lied to the rebels, saying they had no children. She later identified her mother's head as it was pulled out of a cooking pot. She is quiet and withdrawn, and treated like a servant in her aunt's home.

Nancy's father was macheted to death in front of her mother, who was then forced to bury the pieces. Later, she was taken by the rebels and Nancy was left to care for her three younger siblings. Nancy's mother came back some weeks later, and in the film they visit her father's grave for the first time in four years.

Dominic was kidnapped along with his brother. He spent two weeks as a child soldier before escaping, but he says it felt like two years. He has never before told anyone what happened while with the rebels. He has the opportunity to ask a captured rebel if he has seen Dominic's brother. He also asks why they take children when they know it is bad.

For each child, music is a place of beauty, escape and healing. The opportunity to compete with their school music group in this prestigious competition is a source of great joy. I don't want to give the details away, but I found this film incredibly hopeful, despite the deep tragedy it's seated in. It gave me hope that things can be good in the midst of great pain, and that while "we" do need have more compassion and do what we can for "them," there is no place for pity or arrogance.

(check out the YouTube trailer here.)

Further Thoughts

A couple days ago, I spent some time reflecting on those passages I posted...and as promised, here are my journaled thoughts.

Luke 18:35-43 "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

I've heard this story hundreds of times. I've been taught it, had this beggar's humility pointed out & held up as an example to follow. But this time, he actually connected with me. The whole progression: he asks what's going on. They say that it is Jesus. He calls out. They tell him to be quiet. He ignores them. He calls out again. Regardless of the response, determined to be heard. And Jesus responds. He stops & makes the crowd bring the beggar. The crowd that had refused to pass on his message. And then it happened: Jesus asks what he wants, the beggar tells him, and Jesus does it. Simple as that - but for whatever reason, I think I finally get a little glimpse of how amazing this moment was - the intensity of the beggar's cries, the shock of the crowd, even though we know they shouldn't be surprised, Jesus' clarity & compassion, and a life-altering moment. This is huge. I wonder, if I were blind, would I have the same desperation of spirit? And if so, what holds me back right now?

Acts 20:26-27 "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God."

Paul was innocent, not responsible for the church any longer. Why? Because he had declared "the whole counsel of God." Which is what, exactly, And if that makes him innocent, are those who declare only a partial counsel responsible for the blood of those they teach? The whole counsel of God. The big picture: creation, separation, struggle, sacrifice, reconciliation, restoration. And all of it is intended to lift Jesus high. The story is much bigger than me, than my "personal salvation" and experience of freedom. I make God smaller when I maximize the personal benefits of giving your life to Jesus. I make God a Band-Aid or Gatorade, a power-enhancer for those moments of being down. This - is it a false gospel? Was declaring Jesus as highly exalted, resurrected & returning to judge really less offensive or nonsensical to first-century pagan Greeks than it is twenty-first century pagan Canadians? Or do I shrink back from declaring the whole counsel of God under a guise of relevance/cultural sensitivity? Look at Acts. How is the gospel declared there? How does the early church talk about Jesus?

2 Corinthians 5:14-16 "From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh."

God, this is my prayer! That I would no longer see anyone according to the flesh, that because of Your love, because I am convinced that You died for all, I would see the world differently - that I would see Christ differently. And I can't help but wonder if this is something that just happened, or if Paul made a deliberate choice to view things in a renewed spiritual light. God, change my eyes to see like You do.

April 23, 2008

What About Travis!?

I just watched Hope Floats, the second movie in my I-really-need-to-vegetate night. Now that we have more than three channels, there are so many quality programs on TV! Like movies in the middle of the week. I enjoyed many of the lines in this movie, including:

"I went home and told my mama you had a seizure in my mouth."
(referring to her first french-kissing experience)

"Dancing's just a conversation between two people. Talk to me."
(the conversation in our living room then went,
Girl 1: Only Harry Connick Jr. could say that line without it being incredibly cheezy.
Boy: Without it being cheezy? That's all I heard. Cheez, cheez, cheez.
Girl 2: Yeah, but it was sexy, sexy cheez...sigh.)
"Better do what she says, Travis. Grandma stuffs little dogs."

Bernice: At home we had a pet skunk. Mama used to call it Justin Matisse. Do you think that's just a coincidence? All day long she would scream, "You stink Justin Matisse!" Then one day she just picked up a club and killed it."
Justin: Now that's a sad story.
Bernice: If you liked the skunk, which we didn't...I think Mama still has that club upstairs.

Overall, a cute movie. But the one thing we found troubling was the lack of resolution for Travis. Ten minutes from the end of the movie, we see him talking on the porch with Justin (aka el guapo Harry Connick Jr.). He is questioning whether or not his aunt wants him, or whether he will one day go visit his mom in California, or what will become of him now that his grandma has died. Oops. Spoiler alert. But then that's it! We don't see him that night, when Birdee and Bernice have a heart to heart on her bed. And we certainly don't see her when Justin shows up at the photo shop (I didn't cry, Laura, but mostly due to my concern for Travis).

So what happens to him? Does anyone care? Or is he, as the boys suggested, secretly an alien? Apparently it's never too late in a movie for a sci-fi twist.

Well, thanks to IMDB, I've confirmed that I must have seen a slightly edited version - there's no way a movie that lists at 114 minutes could fit into 2 hours including commercials. And there are quotes that I never heard - and not just because I was talking, either. So perhaps there's hope for little Travis after all. (And the other loose ends that just seemed underdeveloped.)

We noted that Justin/Harry Connick Jr.'s wooing style was very much about the physical desire. Birdee would say, "No, Justin..." and he'd lean in to kiss her neck. Or "Justin, I don't..." was handled with a Shhhhhh... and a gentle caress of her shoulder. Way to be smooth, Harry Connick Jr. I don't really think he's that good looking...but he seemed to have the right moves. And lots of great lines.

Oh, and were we really wearing our pants that high in 1998? I could have sworn we knew better by then...

April 22, 2008

Cult of Sincerity

I just watched this indie movie on youtube. It didn't pull me out of my evening's blahs, but it resonated with me (I say resonated a lot), and made me think. Which is essentially the point of the movie. I was trying to decide if I thought it was cheezy or overly esoteric, but I decided that no, it's just sincere.

I liked the music.
Yes, it's a full-length film.
Nadine, you need to watch it and then ask Wendy how she heard about it.
And I have to take some sort of class in the fall.

April 21, 2008

Spiritual Shout Outs

I would just like to say that I have great respect for this church. St. John's, from what I know, is a church I would happily recommend to anyone. Among many other great things, they are involved with/run this program called Artizo. If I wasn't already settled & strongly convicted about commitment to a church, I might go there myself. My Aunt Buffy & Uncle Rob have been known to tease me about being a secret Anglican. I think they might be right.

Also, the following thoughts/verses are stuck in my craw, if you will. Maybe my next entry will be why. For now, I have time only to note the passages.

Luke 18:35-41

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."

He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"
"Lord, I want to see," he replied.

2 Corinthians 5:14-16a

For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.

Acts 20:26-27

Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.

That Girl

Today I realized, I am that girl.

That girl. The one I wished I was at 15, the one I dreamed I'd someday be, the one I thought was impossible to achieve.

But right after came the thought, I'm that girl.

That girl. The one I despised, the one I resented, the one I swore I'd never become.

I guess I didn't realize that they are (or would be) the same person.

April 16, 2008

What Am I, Twelve?

{warning. contains graphic images.}

This morning I wiped out. It has been a looooooooooooooong time since I've wiped out two steps from my own front door. Thankfully, it was a short trip back to the privacy of my house & the antiseptic aids of the bathroom. I immediately knew I couldn't clean my own wounds, so I called for a housemate.

"Lynsey? Wendy?"



"I'm on the phone..."

"Ok...Wendy? Wendy? I need some help...I kind of hurt myself."

So down Wendy comes. Wendy is a trooper. [I'm not discriminating against Lynsey in anyway. She wasn't being mean. She just didn't know...] Wendy helps me clean. Well, more like, Wendy cleans. I sit down. Then I realize I need to lie down. My family is historically not that great with injuries & blood. I think we have a very high and quick adrenaline response (you won't believe how long it took me to think of the word adrenaline), which is helpful, but then leaves us shaky and somewhat light-headed.

While Wendy was bandaging my wounds and Lynsey was in her room on the phone, our coworkers arrived for a meeting. So we were a bit late starting...and while sympathetic, they were really more perplexed and amused.

How did you do this, exactly?
I've wiped out on my bike and it hasn't been that bad.
I think I've been
concussed without being so injured.
Wait - on the weekend, you went to the woods and hiked around, right? For how long? And then this morning you step out your front door and do this?

Yes. It just happened. One step, two step, flat on my face on a gravelly sidewalk. Good thing I have arms, as one coworker pointed out. If I didn't, I may have lost my face. Instead, hours later and after a second cleaning, my hands look a bit like this:

I have no pictures of my knees, but they're nicely bunged up as well. One bloody (ripped my jeans! good thing it's cool at the moment), one swollen (is it possible to bruise your kneecap?).

End whiny-baby-mode.

April 15, 2008

Gimme Gimme Gimme

Money: investments, banking, saving - it's an area I feel completely untrained in. I just don't know even a fraction of the things I probably should. Sometimes it overwhelms me. Well, only when I have to make decisions about it.

I was encouraged tonight by my soon-to-be investment guy (I don't know what he is actually called...) that although the recommended norm is 20% of a person's annual income, most Canadians only set aside 1-2%. I am somewhere in the middle around 12%. I'm happy with that.

I'm not gonna lie - it felt weird to make plans for the next 40 years of my life that assume singleness. I have never in my life assumed singleness. I don't want to assume singleness. But, at this point, it's the default. So it was weird, and I wished that I had a boyfriend/fiance/husband who would be good at money stuff and would do this so that I wouldn't have to.

But the best, most crowning piece of advice that my investment guy gave me was to check out this video.

I burn. I pine, I perish.

Living Falsetto

(an assortment of thoughts)

It is a wonderful thing when expectations end up being exactly what is expected. When what is spoken as an expectation plays out as just that, I am happy.

There is little that I find more joy-giving than a hike in the woods on a sunny day.

As Wendy managed to work into her talk on Friday night, I am not a very weepy person. But when telling someone a story yesterday about a moment when Jesus spoke to me rather clearly, I teared up. It was one of those moments where I felt more deeply than I thought I did, and it managed to make its way out through my eyes. Then it was over, and I wondered, "Is that it?"

Sometimes, I wonder what the intersection is between the psychological and the spiritual. I'm convinced that it's there - not sure I (or anyone) could pinpoint where. I just don't like overspiritualizing or underestimating the spiritual.

I really value the friendships that God has blessed me with. My house and my small group have been possibly the most restful and refreshing relationships I've experienced in such high volume at one time. It's kind of like I have family here. Except that there are no babies. I need more babies in my life.

Middle-aged couples should know better than to be all PDA in coffee shops. I don't care if you're newly in love. If I can hear you kissing & giggling, you need to go home.

I am a verbal processor, and yesterday was great for me. But sometimes I need to be quiet, too.

When you go to massage therapy and the therapist's knuckles crack from working out a knot in your shoulders...I think that means you have a bad back.

Conversations that happen after 11pm have the potential to be highly dangerous or highly encouraging. Last night was the latter. (I think that means the second. I always confuse former & latter.)

Peace is a beautiful thing.

I love my family. A lot. I hope that plays out in how I interact with them this summer.

April 11, 2008

Puppies of Happiness

A friend recently wished me a "buttload of fun." When I asked how much fun, exactly, he was expecting me to have, he sent me a link to the all-knowing wikipedia answer.

Apparently, buttload is a cleaned-up version of "assload." And an average ass load (the weight a donkey can carry over an extended distance) is 30-40 kilograms. Which is a lot of fun.

I also learned that happiness can be measured in puppies, thanks to Peanuts & Lucy van Pelt. At this moment, I feel roughly one half-puppy of happiness. The though of holding a warm puppy (Lucy's definition of happiness), would in fact, increase my happiness almost to a full puppysworth.

Up, Down, In, Out

Last night, while falling asleep and simultaneously composing an email in my mind (this is a fairly regular occurrence), I thought/wrote, Count me in! and the following realization came to light.

I'm in!
I'm up for that.
I'm down with that.
I'm down on that.
I'm out!

Things I noticed:
c) There is no positive response with "out." At least, none came to mind.
a) Different directions take different prepositions. You are up for something, but not with it.
b) A change in the preposition can completely change the meaning. From "I'm down with that." to "I'm down on that."
d) In and Out don't require a prepositional phrase for completion.

Conclusion: Grammar is amazing.

April 10, 2008

Thank You, Kim Edwards

I finished The Memory Keeper's Daughter in one sitting. Well, one evening. Technically two sittings, which were actually "lyings" - one in the bath, and one in bed.

And I really enjoyed the book.

I loved that photography and music were key elements. I loved that I didn't know exactly what would happen. I knew there was a crisis coming, I knew what it was, and that it had to happen. But I didn't know when, or how, or what the outcome will be. I liked that it talked about disabilities with honesty and hope.

What really resonated with me, though, were some of the themes. I want to write about the same things - family & space & secrets & the little choices we make to move away or towards each other. But even though this book is about the same things, it didn't say the same things I want to. I don't feel that this has stolen the space my stories would occupy, but that they would sit contentedly next to each other on a bookshelf.

In Douglas Coupland's last lecture at UBC (I am quoting Wendy, who "met" him after with much, much joy), he advised students,
"At 20 you realize you're never going to be a rock star. At 25 you realize you're never going to be a dentist."
I don't want to be a dentist. And although I deeply fear having big dreams, I am becoming more quietly hopeful that writing will be a part of my life.

A Happy List

1. Sunshine
2. Lunch with Vanessa
3. Jogging
4. Reading a book
5. A bath
6. Tomorrow

April 9, 2008

Ignorance is Bliss

I don't eat bugs. Some of my friends do, but I don't.

Or so I thought. Turns out I probably do.

Insects, mmm.
Originally uploaded by bethaf.

Isn't learning wonderful?

April 8, 2008

Listening to America

Today, I have thoughts on two American audio files. One I recommend, one I do not.

If you are an American, or a Canadian who knows Americans, or a Brit who isn't sure about the difference between the two, I highly recommend this episode of This American Life. Who's Canadian? William Shatner, Pamela Anderson, Peter Jennings, Mike Myers, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Neil Young...

If you listen to Top 40 (I haven't heard much since pre-Lent), you probably know Madonna has a new album coming out. I heard a brief excerpt of her single, "4 Minutes." Don't ever listen. It may be catchy, it may feature the...indescribable...Justin Timberlake. But its lyrics...are - hopelessly terrible. They epitomize all the stereotypical self-gratifying tendencies of our generation. They encourage instantaneous & quick pleasure, and that consequences don't matter, so long as we're having a good time now. ARGH.

April 7, 2008

Below Average

Well, folks. I have found something that I am decidedly "below average" in. Boggle. Or Scramble, if you're on Facebook. Or whatever other knock-off word game you want to call it. I am decidedly not naturally talented. I had one game of beginners' luck, and it's been all downhill since then. But I refuse to stop playing or get angry. I will learn to accept this weakness, and play anyway...

Slightly related: one of the Facebook games is with someone who hasn't talked to me in quite some time. So I'd like her to acknowledge me outside the game. Possibly on my wall.

Oh, the social nuances of Facebook.

April 6, 2008

An Impossible Decision

Tonight, I saw Leatherheads (don't worry, Vanessa, I'll still watch it with you in the summer!). I laughed & quite enjoyed myself. George Clooney, John Krasinski, Renee Zellweger...a stellar trio.


The thing that still has me excited is a trailer. This is odd, as I rarely see movies in the theatre, and generally disparage those over-eager fans who look forward to movies for months. In the same vein, I have prided myself on not having celebrity crushes. I have always thought (and still maintain) that it is ridiculous to pine over someone you've never met, don't actually know, and is nothing more than an image we have created.

That said, I understand the celebrity crush phenomenon more and more. There are many attractive characters out there (I use the word "characters" loosely, including both the fictional characters and the images of the men who play them).

Back to the trailer. A case could be built to argue that I have celebrity crushes on two men. Both of them are old enough to be my father. Both of them are dashingly British. And they are appearing in the same movie this summer.

Any guesses?

Hint: the soundtrack is guaranteed to be incredible, because we all know it already.

Hint #2: the first professional theatre I ever saw. With Sarah, in Toronto.

Answer: Mamma Mia.

Yes, that's right. Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan play two of the possible fathers in this summer's guaranteed box office hit, featuring the beloved music of the timeless ABBA quartet.

I've been thinking about it all night. If both of them were standing in front of me, and 15 years younger (or I 15 years older), who would I pick?

I feel like Moss trying to decide between Beaches and Dirty Dancing. [4 minute mark]

"Oooh, Colin! No, Pierce! Oh, I can't decide!"

April 4, 2008

Parody Duos...

The fourth most popular parody duo in New Zealand is the infamous Flight of the Conchords. I find them rather humourous and sometimes crude.

Uncertain as to their ranking in New Zealand, or their home country of the US of A, are the insanely funny Rhett & Link. I highly recommend wasting hours of your time watching their videos on YouTube. Or just subscribe to their cast on iTunes.

I find it intriguing that both duos have a larger, more hairy & slightly awkward guy, and a smaller but better-looking sidekick. Or ring-leader.

My current favourite video is this one, despite the fact that I have never seen an episode of Lost.

"Pregnant women and children under the age of twelve are incapable of having Perspective."

I Always Cave

Blogroll: added.

Egos boosted: hopefully everyone (hint: it only lists the 5 blogs with the most recent entries).

This will make my laziness increase. And my egotism. I now only need to check my blog to see what other people are up to. Unless everyone posts simultaneously.

Next thing to go: I don't even know! Aren't I on the cutting edge now??

(p.s. Even though this posts at 1:23pm, I wrote it at 11:32. That's right. I can write from the past to the future!)

April 2, 2008

Dan Sings When He's Happy

Scene: Lunch time at Fun City
Characters: Beth, Wendy, Dan, Lynsey

Dan: So you girls aren't on campus much these days, huh?

Beth: Yeah....

[Wendy sings a "Beth hates her work" kind of song]

Dan: So you're kind of in a funk, hey?

Beth: Yeah, actually, I am. (surprised he noticed, since she hasn't seen him since Sunday)

Dan: Yeah, I can tell from your writing on your blog.

Beth: You can? (Slightly confused) But this has only been since Monday night, and I haven't posted since then.

Dan: Oh. Is it about a boy?

Beth: Uh...no.

[Lynsey is serving the last of the lemon cake to Dan & Wendy. Dan has jumped into the opportunity with enthusiasm.]

Dan: Oh, I guess people just assume that when you quote Wendy, it's really what you're thinking.

Beth: Wendy's quote? About sulking with the nachos?

Dan: Yeah.

Beth: But that's about wave pools! You know, when you're swimming, and a band-aid floats close to your face - maybe into your mouth...

Wendy: ...and you keep getting hit by waves (motions body like she is being hit by a wave) and you think you might drown...

Beth: ...and the lifeguards don't notice you, because they're sixteen and they're too busy checking each other out. But just when you think you'll die, the waves stop...

Wendy: ...and you stand up in eighteen inches of water, and you walk out of the pool...

Beth: ...and you find your youth leader (because you're clearly here with your youth group)...

Wendy: ...and you get a plate of nachos, and you sit, and you SULK.

Dan: Oh.

Wendy: Hey, are you gonna take the rent checks in?

Dan: Oh yeah, good idea!

[exit and song]

April 1, 2008

Piling the Stones (c)

- Every fair self-evaluation must mention the fact that one is still imperfect. So these are the areas in which I freely admit, the desired level of growth eludes me.

Acceptance & Affirmation: In my last entry, I quoted Isaiah 30:15a. The verse, in its entirety, reads:

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it." (emphasis mine)

I, unfortunately, continue to be like one of the Israelites, trying to run this life on a half-empty tank. In university, I realized that I have high introvert tendencies. I pushed on and viewed them as situational. I'm at a point now where I really need to just own up to the fact that I am wired to spend significant time by myself, and failure to do so actually affects me. So how is this related to acceptance & affirmation? Well, it is my insatiable desire to be a part of a group (or many groups) that usually keeps me from my "alone time." My fears of missing out on some fun moment; of my friends secretly deciding they like life better without me; the assumption that my love language (quality time) is everyone else's, and that if I don't spend enough time with them, our friendships will be over...these things keep me pushing myself, ignoring God's call to rest, to quietness, to repentance, and to trust. He is bigger than my fears. I just keep forgetting.

Boys: This is closely tied to the whole affirmation/acceptance fiasco. I, like many girls, have longed to be noticed by boys since kindergarten.

(at this point in the entry, I am interrupted by a housemate, and we talk about boy-related subjects for half an hour).

I still want to be noticed. And it wreaks havoc with my life and my heart. It is a source of great frustration. It is a source of great self-centredness. Every so often, I think I am making progress, that I am experiencing contentment, that I am refusing to play "the game." It lasts for awhile. But I inevitably manage to make a mess of things, in my heart, if not externally. (I have a feeling this will be the last thing I conquer before reaching perfection.) I think I am learning. I hope I am growing. But it seems a bit like I've walked up slightly-sloped driveway, looked up, and realized I'm not even at base camp at the foot of Everest.

The good thing is, there is grace. There is always hope. And there is deep acceptance despite my shortfalls.