Finally slowing down enough to write

Well, I’ve been super busy since coming home from Colorado so I haven’t had much time to write.  I have a busy week the rest of the week at work, but not so much in the evenings… I may go visit with some friends in Chicago this weekend, we’ll see… but other than that… and small group on Thursday, my evenings (starting tonight) are pretty much my own right now. 

 

Barnes and Noble remains ever fun.  I really do love working there… If they paid more than minimum wage I might have even considered doing that as a career, although it’s not nearly as challenging as my job at ISPFCU is, and I do like having a challenging job…

 

On a totally different note, I keep getting creeped out as I write this.  I killed a rather large spidar (spider??) earlier tonight in the basement when I was doing laundry and know I keep thinking I’m seeing things move out of the corner of my eye!  Yikes…

 

In other news… I’m moving at the end of the month.  Hopefully to Monroe Gardens on Dirken.  We turned in our applications today so now we need to be approved and then they need to have space for us.  We’re also looking at possibly buying a livingroom set (if the lady from Chambana would ever call me back).  I’m not sure why she ONLY wants $150 for the set, but that’s better than anything we’ve come across so far…

 

Let’s see… I had a pretty rough day on Sunday… I think I keep things entirely too bottled up… I had a really hard time hearing that God is a Soverign God and knows best and has everything under control… I also was entirely too antsy to sit through church… I left towards the end of the sermon… But Beth, bless her, gout me out of my stupor later that day… she and Bethany and the Joshes and I ended up watching The Ghost and Mr. Chicken later that night and that was super fun…

 

other than that, my life has been pretty boring.  I don’t even have any fun andecdotes or articles to share with you as I’ve not had time to be surfing the net (for anything of any substance or interest to anyone but me… (I’m sure no one really cares about Bank Bribery Act or Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act)…  I did get a couple of magazines for writers that I’ve been eating up.  I’ll share some information if I find any of interest 🙂

 

Until later…

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Today’s Bits and Pieces

I’ve decided to start a new Friday post:  Bits and Pieces… little tidbits of things that I’ve been contemplating through the week or that have caught my attention.  I hope you find them at least quasi-interesting. 

Bit #1 

I’ve become a news-junkie.  Not such a great thing when you are quite aware that journalism in this country is wrought with bias and politically and socially manipulative undertones.  Nonetheless, I check CNN on a daily basis.

And one thing I always enjoy reading is commentaries by Glenn Beck.  I don’t always agree with him.  I wouldn’t even hazard to say that the majority of the time I agree with him… but sometimes I do.  And I always enjoy reading what he has to say.  His straight-forward, tell-it-like-it-is commentary, usually showing hints or all out in-your-face sarcasm and dry wit almost always make me think.  If you haven’t ever read anything by him, try this out. 

(In other political news, here’s additional commmentary about the detriment Clinton and Obama are being for the Democratic Party… he, appropriately on the eve of St. Patrick’s day weekend,  uses a “Two Irish cats from Kilkenny” metaphor.  Seriously, I like him already.)

Bit #2

I know that we live in a messed up society when courts have to rule on the legality of incest, junk-food diets are the craze, and when people who have moved to the U.S. from overseas when they’re in their late teens or early twenties state that they can receive more information about sex in an hour of american television than in all the years of their life,

Piece #1 

We’re down to the Sweet 16 in Lost Madness… I’m not liking that Sawyer and Kate and Jack and Sayid are pitted against each other… There are some match ups that are just looking “duh” to me on who’s going to win.  But there are some that are really close…  I’m not sure I realized when I first saw this fun game that it was really just a popularity contest.  If I had, I might have considered a linked campaign for Sawyer.  (not really sure what this says about me, but I’m pretty sure my roommate commented on my choice of Sawyer over Hurley in round 1 with a “You would!”  Now I like Hurley, but I’m telling you… the swoony bad-boy will get me every time.  Every. Time.)

Piece #2

Speaking of my roommate: she and her fiance bought a house last night!  Yay for them!  (brings into stark reality my need for a new roommate and some sort of “plan” though… boo…)

The League of Extraordinary Gentleman

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I was flipping through channels last night to find something to put on in the background as I got some things ready for the retreat this weekend and (hopefully) take a nap when I came across The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  I had seen this movie once before.  Anything with Sean Connery is worth at least one viewing in my opinion and this was right around the time when I was excited about comic book adaptations (such as X-Men or Spiderman). 

 I ended up watching the show in its entirety.  It’s amazing to me the things that strike you at different times in your life.  I’m sure I must have noticed the use of characters (what self-respecting English major wouldn’t have).  But I don’t think it struck me as quite so… ingenious… as it did last night.  Creating a fictional world in which fictional characters (from other fictional works) come together to form a “superhero” team?  Quite thought-provoking.  Alan Moore, the author of the series, once stated: “The planet of the imagination is as old as we are. It has been humanity’s constant companion with all of its fictional locations, like Mount Olympus and the gods, and since we first came down from the trees, basically. It seems very important, otherwise, we wouldn’t have it.” 

Moore doesn’t endorse adaptations of his work (he also authors V for Vendetta… another quite thought-provoking series.  Seriously, people, if you don’t know something about the comic book or graphic novel scene, you’re missing out on some pretty philosophical stuff).  Despite that, the movie adaptation is fascination.  Just look at the heroes they choose to use.  Alan Quatermain:  Okay, I get him… he’s an adventurer and the type of person one might actually see as a hero…  Mina Harker… vampiress and ex-wife to the infamous Jonathan Harker who, along with Van Helsing, fought the evils of one, Dracula.  But her hero-strength is the part of her that is vampire… the very thing that was the evil in her own world.  Then you have Dr. Jekyll… and his counterpart, Mr. Hyde.  Again, the hero-strength comes in the form of the evil of his world.

 

The most fascinating “hero” or “villain” character to me, however, was Dorian Gray, who’s “strength” comes in his invincibility… the invincibility afforded to him because the ramifications and consequences of any of his actions take effect on his portrait, not his person.  Though he turns out to be one of the villains, rather than a hero, his evilness manifests itself for reasons we can easily relate to.  That portrait, his Achilles heal, was at stake.  He chose to save himself, over the good of man-kind.  And completely stayed within character.

 

And it is this distinction that sets apart our other heroes.  Though their strengths might be provided to them by their evil natures or a result of malicious things in the world, they all choose to save man-kind… from them.  They chose to fight to take down the man who wanted to create more of them.  They could have thought, “hey, here’s my chance”.  If others were like them they would no longer be alienated, no longer be “freaks of nature (or science).”  But they recognized that their uniqueness was, in-it-self, a strength, and recognized that these manifestations of evil they used as their “strengths” should not be wished on anyone else, for any reason.  They banded together and effectively prevented the villain(s) from creating any more of them.

 

Superheroes are a funny lot.  In a book I just read, The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult, one of the main characters, a comic book writer, indicated that creating villains was more fun because heroes had to fit a pre-defined mold.  And you can see that… Batman, Superman, Spiderman (any guy that ends in man J), the various X-Men… they may have their differences and their own character flaws, but they mainly fit a pre-defined formula.

 

Alan Moore, the author of the League, breaks that mold.  Though he uses some more formulaic heroes (such as Quatermain) he takes the characters who are fringe characters, or characters who are stamped with evil and turn them into heroes.  Makes you sit back and contemplated what true heroism is.  What if heroism doesn’t really have anything to do with the outside world?  What if heroism is the ability to recognize the evil nature in ourselves (that nature which we all have within ourselves to be bad) and choosing keep that nature from surfacing?  What if the only thing from which the world needs saved is… ourselves?

 

(note:  the above commentary does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of the commentator.  They are rather “thought” questions to be used to spark conversation 🙂 )

Books I want to read this year

Okay, so I’ve recently been motivated to begin a list of books I want to read this year.  I’m sure that I’ll probably expand upon this list, but here is what I have so far (and the authors as I’m remembering them (and some of the ones I can’t remember is a major brainfart moment, because I’m sure they’re DUH!):

1.  Twilight–Stephanie Myers

2.  New Moon–Stephanie Myers

3.  A Great and Terrible Beauty–Libby Bray

4.  Rebel Angels–Libby Bray

5.  Forever in Blue: The 4th Summer of the Sisterhood–Ann Brashers

6.  The Tenth Circle–Jodi Picoult

7.  Saving Fish From Drowning–Amy Tan

8.  The Constant Princess–Philippa Gregory

9.  Size 12 is Not Fat–Meg Cabot

10.  Dogs of Babel

11.  The Life You’ve Always Wanted

12.  To Own a Dragon–Donald Miller

13.  The Pact–Jodi Picoult

14.  Teenage Girls

15.  Mean Girls

16.  Here and now–Henri Nouwen

17.  Never Let Me Go

18.  Real Sex;  The Naked Truth About Chastity

19.  The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

20.  The Bolyen Inheritance–Phillipa Gregory

21.  The Historian

22.  The Audacity of Hope

23.  Zelda’s Cut–Phillipa Gregory

24.  The Butterfly House

25.  Peter Pan in Scarlett

26.  Mirror, Mirror–Gregory MacGuire

27.  The Girls’ Almanac

28.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime

29.  A Ring of Endless Light

30.  The Boy Next Door–Meg Cabot

31.  White Chocolate Moments–Lori Wick

32.  Seeds of Hope–Henri Nouwen

33.  The Sacred Way

34.  Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students

35.  Nineteen Minutes

36.  The Thirteenth Tale

This is 3 books a month.  I’m pretty on track with that … I’ve already read the first two on the list and am into number 3…  We’ll see how it goes. 

Vicarious Living

Okay, this is me admitting how much of a nerd I am.  It is very rare that I ever have music on when I’m driving in my car, because, truth be told, most of the time my head is too loud and drowns everything else out.  (And, let me put this out on the table to show that the next few paragraphs are not indicative of where I ACTUALLY am, but where I WANT to be: when I have music on, my tendancy towards fantasy or fanciful thoughts are much more prevelant).  

So, anyway, all of the following thoughts have evolved out of a thought that struck me on my way home the other night (at the corner of Cherry and Outer Park, to be precise, though I’m sure that doesn’t matter).

I am not sure I can remember where or why this thought pattern started.  With me, my mind is truly so stream of conscious sometimes that I can’t keep up.  But when I finally did slow down for a minute, the thought that remained in my head was about living vicariously through others.  I think I may have just seen a romantic film of some sort, or I had just seen a cute couple in the store, or something, but whatever it was it made me smile.  And not in the “aw, aren’t they cute” kind of smile, more in the “I’m picturing myself as her” kind of smile.  In essence, I was deriving pleasure from the experience of someone else. 

Okay, enter me being a nerd.  This got me thinking so I decided to look up the actual definitions of a few words.  And in doing so, I’ve found the subtle differences in them, but realized the absolutely fine line, and I mean fine, between them.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “vicarious” as “felt or undergone as if one where taking part in the experience or feelings of another.”  For years I’ve said things like “I’m going to live vicariously thorough you right now.”  In college, if a friend was done with finals and just relaxing for the rest of the week, I would revel in her laziness.  If someone were to go to a party or out on a date on a night I would stay in I would want to hear about all the details.  As a friend recently commented, he likes to go to weddings because. as a single man, he can live vicariously through the joy of the bride and the groom.  There are so many instances when I hear people in our culture engaging in and endorsing “vicarious living.”  We read People Magazine to hear about what the stars are doing, we watch movies and television, wishing for the lives of the actors and actresses on screen.  We get the most advanced video gaming technology so we can pretend to be Tiger Woods swinging the 9 iron, or Kelly Clarkson singing the next American Idol hit.  We award children with “queen for a day” and “king for a day” awards.  Why?  Because the life of someone else always looks better than our own.

And that really got me thinking.  Never before had I seen anything wrong with that.  I’ve commented before on the unrealistic picture of love that Hollywood creates in their Romantic Comedies.  But I’ve never looked at dreaming about being the lead in the movie as potentially wrong or harmful.  When I was a child and teenager, my life was alternately rough and boring.  As an escape I’d spend hours creating different lives for myself in my head (all of you who think I live a lot in my head now, you should have seen me then.  I spent hours, and I mean HOURS, just starring off into space).  I like reading about why Reese and Ryan split, or which girl Brad’s with this week.  I like playing the video games where you get to pretend to be someone else, and gosh-darn-it, I enjoy a good romance in a novel every now and again.  It’s just harmless entertainment, right?

But what slips in over time as I thoughtlessly engage in these activities is a huge dissatisfaction with my own life and a largely jealous and coveting view of other people’s joy and happiness.  And as I’ve been struggling with feelings of invisibility, inadequacy and insignificance I’ve realized that this is a terribly harmful way to live.

The Random House unabridged dictionary defines “covet” as “to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others.”  To be “jealous” is defined as “feeling resentment for someone because of that person’s success or advantages.”  And “lust” is defined as “an overwhelming desire or craving.”  Now, most people would agree that to covet or to be jealous or to lust are bad things.  However, I want you to look at how closely they line up with some ideas that we don’t neccessarily see as inherently harmful or wrong.

A “wish” is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as “a desire, longing, or strong inclination for a specific thing.”    After the definitions pertaining to a series of images, etc. experienced while sleeping, the AHD defines “dream” as “a wild fancy or hope” and then as “a condition or achievement that is longed for; an aspiration.”  Now I’m not in anyway saying it is wrong to wish or to dream, but I am saying that you have to be careful to constantly examine yourself, your motives, and your actions.  I had a conversation with a friend of mine tonight about whether or not it’s healthy to wish for or dream about your wedding, or your husband, or your children.  And my answer was that I don’t believe that it’s inherently wrong.  God wants to give us the desires of our heart (He also wants those desires to line up with his).  But he can’t do that if we don’t have any desires.  So to truly desire, in your heart, to be married, and be excited about that possibility one day is not inherently wrong. 

The trouble comes, I’ve found, in NOT stopping there.  Rather than being excited about the plans God has for us and resting in His promise that they are Good plans, we start creating what would be, in our heads, the perfect way for God to give us those desires.  And once we start guessing at what God is going to do, it’s so easy to quickly spiral downwards.  Let’s pull out some of the words from the above definitions.  Let’s say you start with a wish or a dream.  You have a desire or a longing.  Left unchecked and unguarded, that desire can quickly become overwhelming, transforming into an ugly, all-encompasing lust.  And unfortunately, once you’ve let sin get a foothold, it’s much easier to let it in the door than slam the door in it’s face.  You begin to desire wrongfully, to covet, and once realizing you do not have that which you desire, you begin to harbor bitterness towards those who do have it.  Very quickly you go from desiring a God-honoring marriage relationship with a man to wanting the God-honoring relationship with a man that your friend next door has.  And hating her for having it.  Girls, this tendancy we have to live in the world of wishes and dreams is, I think, a core reason why we’re so mean sometimes!

And it’s the reason I’ve decided that vicarious living is simply a way of giving ourselves permission to start on that path of wishful thinking and fanciful dreaming.  To live vicariously, to allow myself to dwell on what it might feel like to have the feelings or experiences of someone else?  How can I NOT then covet what she has?  How can I NOT then resent her, even in some small way, for having or being what I want to be.  How is it possibly God-honoring to dwell on how I wish I were someone else rather than wishing for and dreaming about and taking steps towards becoming the person God made ME to be?  Because it’s more culturely acceptable to say I’m living vicariously through so-and-so, rather than “I covet what she has,” does that make it an okay thing?  I think not.  I think, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll call it what it is: lust for what someone else has.  And I’m tired of lusting.  Because you know what the problem with lust is?  It’s insatiable.  Once you’ve allowed yourself to go there, you have to go further and further and further to feel as if you’re quinching it.

And I’m tired of listening to lies.  I’m tired of hearing “if only you had THAT” in my head.  I’m tired of wishing I could be someone else, somewhere else, something else!  Of course I struggle with feelings of disappointment in myself, inadequacy where I am, invisibility within my relationships.  DUH!  How can I feel adequate when my energies are spent trying to be someone else rather than being me?  How can I be visible in a relationship when I’m just a shell of a person.  The problem with lusting after someone else’s life vicariously is that you loose more and more of yourself as you try to become more like the person/people through whom you’re living.   How can I possibly be happy where I am and with whom I am if I’m constantly trying to be someone else?

So, anyway, those were my random thoughts in my car on the way home from some time when I was sad I didn’t have love in my life right now (even though I had a smile on my face picturing myself as if I did).  It’s odd the things we think about sometimes, especially in my head 🙂  If you need something to be thankful for today, be glad that you don’t live in my head.  That is something NOONE should covet 🙂

i’m back

well, after quite some time of having no computer access beyond work, i’m back to blogging…. and have i ever been missing it (though if you look at my journal the last few months, you’ll see it’s much fuller). 

i don’t even really know where to begin on catching up any time in my life, so i don’t think i’m going to try.  i’m just going to go into life as of right now…

and maybe copy a couple of ideas from blogs i’ve been reading lately 🙂

things in my life right now: 

1- doing training at work… that’s both okay nad not so fun

2- just bought a computer… and a tv… yeah

3- felt ciera move for the first time… and she might come early… yeah

4- i’ve gotten really excited about painting recently

5- random note:  I’m sitting in panera and a fun older couple just asked me about my new computer 🙂  they’re wanting to buy one for their grand kids… that was fun… i got to be excited about my new laptop…. YEAH!!!

6- I AM GOING ON A SPIRITUAL RETREAT TO ALLERTON PARK TOMORROW!!!

Random lunch notes

Today at lunch, just as I was finishing up, an older gentleman with a mischievous smile and a cubs cap on asked if I was reading a book about him and if I had gotten enough lunch for the both of us.  With that little of a description I imagine that could sound odd, but he was quite the cute old man.  I hope that I am that carefree and joyful when I get older.