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Thursday, February 26, 2004

by the way...

If anyone has any thoughts on my religious rant below, please email me.

french phrase of the day

Et si on jouait au scrabble?

How about playing scrabble?

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

the passion of the christ

This is Ash Wednesday and tonight, for the first time in my life, I am going to attend an Ash Wednesday service. My church choir is singing for tonight's evening service and I have no doubt that we will be provided with ample opportunity to partake of the traditional imposition of the ashes.

I have to admit, I am a little nervous about this. One of my strongest memories associated with Ash Wednesday is seeing my junior high school French teacher on Ash Wednesday with the ashen cross on his forehead. He was Episcopalian. I remember thinking then, as I do now, that it seemed an awfully sad and despondent gesture, and one that I do not fully comprehend.

The basis of my religious understanding has always centered on grace and joy. Being raised Episcopalian in an progressive and -- dare I say it -- liberal family, my understanding of the miracle of my religion has always been that we don't have to worry or be sad or despondent any more because that is the gift Christ gave us. By his death, we are spared the horror of a life mired in unforgiven sin. This is not to say that we should not repent our sins; by all means, we still have to understand that human beings are imperfect and ask forgiveness for our most egregious misdeeds, yet I was always thought that the miracle of grace was that if you did ask, you would be forgiven.

Now, this is getting a bit more dogmatic than I had intended, but it serves my point. Not having been brought up in the "shock and awe" vein of Christianity, I have more than a little trouble with Christians who dwell on the horrors of Christ's Passion, rather than the miracle of his resurrection. Isn't the latter what the whole religion is supposed to be about? I understand the concept that Jesus the man was forced to suffer for our sakes, but isn't the greater lesson that he overcame that suffering through the Father, and that therefore so can we?

This whole train of thought has been sparked by the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ." I have not seen the film, so I am speaking strictly from secondhand knowledge, but from the reviews I have heard, I am saddened and disappointed at the direction the film seems to take.

From his previous movies like "Braveheart" and "The Patriot," I was hoping that the film's biggest flaw would be a sickly sweet heart-wrenching ending that would leave the audience with a Hallmark card uplift about Christianity and life in general. I hoped he was aiming at converting his countless audiences. My hopes were sadly misplaced. According to what I have read and heard, the film focuses mainly on the atrocities that Jesus the man was forced to suffer before his death in slasher-film style technicolor blood and gore. The entire last hour of the film is apparently dedicated to gory beatings and torture leading up to the crucifixion and death. Not one review I have seen has mentioned anything about what happens after his death.

The reviewer for NPR and the L.A. Times said that while the film is not intentionally anti-Semitic, it is nevertheless a divisive film, highlighting the differences between the major religions, rather than the things we can claim in common. This truly bothers me to my very core. I am eternally grateful for having been brought up in a family that, in more cases than not, taught me to have an open mind, an open heart, and a respect for all people regardless of their race, religion, sex, orientation, or any of the other divisive categories our culture has dreamed up. I find it morally and ethically upsetting when I am forced to realize that there are people, perhaps a majority, that for one reason or another, do not share my same philosophy.

Maybe it is the passion and naivete of youth that is the fuel for this rant, but I feel very strongly that the season of Lent that is begun today, Ash Wednesday, is a season more for reflection and thought than for torturous sadness. If you believe in Christian doctrine, Christ died for our sins. That isn't the miracle. Lots of people died back then. Lots of them were beaten and tortured and horribly executed by crucifixion for crimes that may or may not have been theirs. The miracle is that Christ conquered death. He rose. That's the point that we, as Christians, should dwell on, in my opinion.

I feel very sad for Mr. Gibson that his life's work, his vision -- and I truly believe that this film is a culmination of his own personal and professional ambitions conceived and executed in pure reverence to his subject -- has turned into such a controversial statement. And yet, I am even more sad that his vision did not include the most powerful aspect of the religion he and I share: the inclusive nature of our God and the fact that Jesus' sacrifice was for all people, not merely Christians.

The movie Chocolate is a lighthearted look at a local instance of religious exclusion, and at the end, the young priest is given his first chance to truly address his congregation with his own voice. He says something along the lines of this: "I believe our goodness should not be measured by what we deny, by what we give up, or by who we exclude, but by what we embrace, what we enjoy, and whom we include." That about sums it up for me.

Monday, February 23, 2004

I know this much is true

that I don't know anything.
People I once knew are gone
replaced by friendly faces
behind which are strangers looking at me with
familiar eyes.

When do friendships become
support groups and
when do you look to a support
group to find a friend?

What does it mean when a child
(who is now twenty something)
can't make friends?
Or won't. Or don't.
Just doesn't.
Just can't.

Who are these people she once knew?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Is it winter, and I forgot my coat?
Why does that one, long lost friend
still haunt her heart?

Anti-social? Not on purpose.

Friday, February 20, 2004

french phrase of the day

Zappe, c'est nul!
Change channels, it sucks!

zapper -- to change channels

=)

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

meditation on rain

Rain. Hard and wet and feeling solid on your head and back and neck and shoulders. Pounding, drumming the red tile roofs and the asphalt and the adobe. First drops raising puffs of dust as the earth drinks them thirstily in. You can almost hear the slurp.

Dark clouds massing to the west. Over the ocean. Over the sea. Onshore flow, they call it. Starts with fog and haze and mist and gray. Then the gray turns solid and falls to the thirsty earth.

Earth moves. Mud slides. Water falls too fast, too much and the earth rejects it, even though she is parched. Mud and ash and wood and dirt and water. Newsman said to put out your sandbags. Watching that storm all the way from the city by the bay.

Roads are slick and mud is thick and people aren't used to rain in Southern California. Act like a few drops are a downpour. Like snow in Texas. "It snows in Texas?" "It rains in Southern California?"

March is the rainy season. Then comes June gloom. Hot and muggy and close with the clouds overhead. Never raining. Rains in March.

french phrase of the day

L'amour est aveugle.
Love is blind.

Ain't it the truth?

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Monday, February 16, 2004

Daily write #1

I AM


I am lovely because I have nice eyes, red lips, soft hair, and big boobs.
I am luscious because I am curvy and soft.
I am lustrous when I am in love.
I am laconic when there is work to be done. But I am aware of it.
I am lazy because I have very little self discipline. But I want to change.
I am lethargic because I don’t exercise enough. But I have already started to change that.
I am limpid when I look at you with my big blue eyes.
I am lumpy because I have a lot of fat. But exercising (see above) will improve that.
I am lunatic when I get in a really bad mood or a really good mood.
I am loony because I have an odd sense of humor.
I am ludicrous because I am full of contradictions.

I am astute because I pay attention.
I am amiable because I don’t like confrontation.
I am awful to myself. That's just a fact.
I am angry because I feel like I can’t do certain things. Doing them anyway will improve that.
I am adroit at finding things wrong with myself. I need to work on finding things right with myself.
I am adept at finding reasons why I don’t live up to my own expectations. Probably because they are way too high.
I am afraid of not living up to other people’s expectations. See above.
I am agreeable because I am not so far left of center that I offend people.
I am awkward because I don’t have confidence in myself. Got to work on that one too.
I am apathetic to my own needs sometimes. Ditto.

I am cute when I am happy.
I am cuddly because I am soft.
I am comfortable because I am reaching a plateau in my life. Is that good?
I am crazy because I am wildly unpredictable.
I am crafty because I like to get my own way.
I am certain because I have come to understand some things.
I am cloudy on other things.
I am crappy when it comes to sticking with things that are hard. Hmmm...
I am creamy because I don’t get much sun.
I am clear on what I want, just not how to get there.
I am clandestine about my plans, and my sabotages. I will try to be more open and ask for help.
I am clever because I have intuition.
I am calm because I know things will change.
I am curious about everything.

I am young because I do not feel old.
I am youthful because I do not act old.
I am yellow because I am a coward. See "afraid" above.

For this exercise, I was to make a list of adjectives, beginning with each letter of my name. Then I was supposed to make "I am" statements about as many of them as possible. Then I was supposed to refute any negative statements with positive ones.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Hummus is yummus

I made my very own hummus this morning and it is delish and oh-so easy if you have a food processor. Here is the recipe:


Ingredients

6 small wheat pita(s), cut into 6 wedges each
6 serving olive oil cooking spray, or enough to coat pitas
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp table salt
15 1/2 oz canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
15 1/2 oz canned white beans, small, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 medium garlic clove(s), chopped
1 tsp Tobasco, or other hot sauce


Instructions

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.


Place pita wedges on baking sheet and lightly coat with cooking spray; sprinkle with cumin and salt. Bake until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, to make hummus, combine remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. If you don't have a food processor, use a blender or mash the ingredients together with a fork. (Note: Add more hot sauce if you really like spice.)


Serve hummus with pita wedges on the side. Yields about 3 pita wedges and 2 tablespoons of hummus per serving.



You will probably need to add a good bit of salt (to taste) to the hummus. I also added one whole roasted red pepper (from a jar) and quite a lot of hot sauce. The pita chips are very good and you can season them any way you like, or not at all. This is a lower calorie version of hummus because of the white beans.
Third Sign of the Apocolypse

a love poem for valentines day

:: writing prompt # 151 ::
Weave a poem that contains all these lines (in no particular order): "I tie the ribbon in a foolish way," "the delicious fragility of this travesty," and "where we still laugh and wish."


Rabbit ears and loop-de-loop
red satin slick
I tie the ribbon in a foolish way
but it doesn't matter if it looks good
feels right
pleases
you.

Tied to my sleeve like a charm
I wear it for all to see and
some are afraid
for me
but not me
the delicious fragility of this travesty
is that I am not afraid
for me of you.

Wearing my heart like a parka
a blazer
cardio-cardigan
and I'm no longer cold.
Where we still laugh and wish
is warm here
with you.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

the lighthouse

Roger was sitting on the back balcony eating jello when the mail came. He had gotten fairly addicted to the stuff in the hospital a few months back, and now he ate it almost every day. Laura made big batches of the sugar free kind for him on the weekends, and poured it into a dozen white ramekins she had brought from town. He scooped a chunk out of the dish and sucked it into his mouth through pursed lips. He liked to hold each bit in his mouth for a moment, feeling its strange shape and consistency before mashing it with his tongue and swallowing without chewing. He liked how the ramekins were almost clean when he finished, hardly any of the jewel toned gel left clinging to the sides.

He heard a car on the gravel road long before it ever reached the lighthouse. Perched high above the village on the cliffs that overlooked the bay, the days were long and warm and quiet. Only the sound of the waves and the gulls broke the silence.

He heard the car crunch to a stop, engine idling, and he heard the rusty protest of the mailbox as it was opened and closed. The car drove on.

Roger scooped out the last bit of orange jello and pondered the empty dish as he held the bit in his mouth. There wouldn't be any mail. There never was. Not until the fifteenth or so when a few bills would trickle in. He didn't even get junk mail. Advertisers probably thought he was too far out. Far out.

But, there was the water bill he had left for the mailman to take away. He turned the ramekin from side to side, studying the few tiny remaining droplets of orange gel. He would go and see that the bill was gone.

Roger turned back into the cool darkness of the brick cottage attached to the lighthouse where he lived. He moved through the dark rooms without even thinking, and out the front door where the sunlight greeted him again. It was an Indian Summer this year, and Roger privately hoped it would be over soon. The sooner the cold set in, the sooner it would be over.

He stomped down the cement walk out to the road where the venerable old rust box sat on its post like an old man on a stool. Half way there, he paused. The little red flag was still up. Maybe it hadn't been the mailman after all.

Occasionally one would get a bored tourist from the village below who would drive up in their shiny rental car and snap a picture or two of the nameless lighthouse before driving back down again. That's probably what he had heard.

Just to be on the safe side, Roger decided to check. He opened the mailbox and bent over at the waist to peer inside. Something moved.

Startled, Roger jumped back and cursed as a crab scuttled out of the mailbox and fell to the ground. He watched it running for its life across the gravel. Wrong way, he thought.

He clutched his chest and swore again for good measure before bending over again. He inspected the dark interior carefully before putting his hand in and drawing out two envelopes. One, small, brown, padded one, and his own water bill.

New Links

I have moved the political quiz links to the original post on February 4th which can be accessed via the archive links at left.

The NEW!!! link is for a writing prompt site I found. Lovely, and an interesting read even if you're not a writer.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

i always wanted an easy bake oven!

I don't know why I always wanted one. I don't know why I never got one. Maybe I never told the right people (ie: Granny and Poppy!) or maybe I never told anyone at all, but I never had an easy bake oven, and -- to this day -- I have always wanted one.

(Please don't anyone buy me one for my birthday -- it's a ridiculous desire of mine and half the fun is the wanting...)

Anyway, I was intrigued to find out that the Easy Bake Oven is 40 years old, and even more amazed to discover this website dedicated entirely to the toy:


Hasboro Easy Bake Oven


The best bit is the recipes section. And if you want an even more amusing look at easy bake cuisine, go to www.npr.org and find the story about easy bake ovens. It contains recipes for wild mushroom flan and icebox cookies -- baked two at a time.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Deitrich's Coffee - 3:50pm

It's hard to be bohemian these days, I imagine. Hard to catch that Kerouac vibe on frappuchinos and non-fat lattes.

A young man sits at a table on the patio with long unkempt hair and a valiant attempt at a goatee. He picks carefully at his guitar, studying his fingers on the frets the way a novice dancer watches his own feet. His t-shirt sports a minimalist picture of an electrical outlet.

His friends sit nearby with an air of rebellious indifference in their unfashionable clothes. One sketches tattoo designs in an oversized sketch book, his weak double chin dotted with acne and his eyes partially obscured by greasy bangs. A third, with hair down to his waist, sits reading a paperback with yellowed pages. Catcher in the Rye no doubt.

At the table to their left, an elderly man sits doing his daily crossword. On their right, a natty businessman does his taxes on his Apple iBook. But such is the fate of the 21st century beatnik. It was enough for their fathers and grandfathers to sit in smoky cafes thinking revolutionary thoughts. It is much harder for them, when the cafe has been franchised and the thoughts mainstreamed into a high school course on American lit.

French Conversation 1

Nous n'avons pas envie d'alle travailler.
We don't feel like going to work.

Tu n'as pas le choix!
You have no choice!

Il faut bien gagner sa vie!
One has to earn a living!

(This was on my daily French calendar the past few days and I wholeheartedly agree with it.)

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Adain

For those of you keeping track, this continues Naida's portion of the story from a few days ago. These blips are picking up and dropping off in the middle of a larger story that exists only in my mind. It's promising as a long term project, but right now I'm just exercising -- stretching and warming up so to speak -- by just writing whatever comes in my head. Feedback is always welcome.

Consciousness eluded him. Of darkness and pain there was plenty, but he found understinding either impossible.

Now and again, a jab of pain, a burst of light, or a cacophonous sound would pierce through the blackness for a moment, but nothing more. It was in one of these moments that he had seen her. For a moment, the haze seemed to have lifted and he clearly saw her startled worried familiar face staring down at him. He wondered when he saw her if he were dying.

When consciousness did decide to tiptoe back to him, it came slowly, creeping like a child filled with guilt and afraid of punishment. First, there was pain. Then, the sensation of the passing of time. Then he remembered the beast. He wondered how long he had lain there in the strange land, wounded and bleeding. Finally, he felt strong enough to open his eyes. The effect was little different from having his eyes closed, because there was very little light. The air was damp and cool, and strange soft noises filled his ears.

His first concern was the pain. Doing his best not to agrivate it, he turned his head to look at his side where he had been gored by the beast. The light was very dim, but he could see that someone had bound the wound in clean strips of some sort of dark cloth. He touched it, gently. The dressings were not wet with blood. Someone had done well. He suspected he would live.

Next, he turned his attention to his surroundings. For a moment, he thought he must be dreaming. He was in a cave, but he remembered that he was many days travel from his home. He squinted around at his surroundings in confusion. The cave was narrow, roughly triangular, shallow, and the roof was shorter than an average man. He was lying on a mat of vegetation that was soft and smelled sweet. The walls were not hewn of stone as were those of his home, but some other rough material. The roof, or what of it he could see from his position prostrate on the floor, was not solid, but rather an amalgum of unidentifiable stuffs. It reminded him of rough hewn cloth.

Before long, he heard the unmistakable noise of something approaching through the dense foliage. Gingerly, he made to sit up, and the noises increased.

"No!" said a voice. "Lie still!" Adain looked up, and his eyes widened. Even in the dim light of the cave, he recognised the pale blue eyes surrounded by white that had so often haunted his dreams.

He stared at the woman as she entered the cave. She knelt beside him and gently pushed him back to the floor. "You shouldn't try to move too much," she said. "You were hurt very badly."

Adain's mind was racing. He wanted to ask her who she was and where she came from and how she had come to be there. He wanted to ask her if she knew him and how she had found him and why she had helped him. All he managed was, "You!"

She sat back and looked at him, a fond familiarity softening the worry in her face. She nodded slowly.

"And you," she replied.

Don't get upset! There will be more, I promise.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

politically minded

If you are a little unsure where you stand on the issues or which candidates most closely echo your concerns, try the two new links below. I guarantee you will find the results interesting.

PBS Vote By Issue Quiz for the Democratic Primary

Political Compass Test

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Naida

(I'm trying out the name Naida for my fire and water / Romeo Juliet story for the water character. The name means "water nymph.")

Naida paused and looked down. Far below her, on the forest floor, a figure lay prone in the soft fern bed. His hair was wild and bright as sunlight, and his clothes were strange, made of some pale material the color of clouds. Fascinated, Naida headed for the nearest tree trunk and down towards the ground.

As a rule, her people rarely visited the forest floor. To them, it was a place of death, a portal to the afterlife, and the realm of the dead. Naida herself had been down to the earth only once with her brother when their mother had died. She had not liked it. The trees towering above her had made her feel claustrophobic, and so little light filtered down to the earth level that the plants there were strange and alien to her. She had felt pity for the men whose job it was to dig her mother's grave, for she knew they visited the earth almost every day.

The tree she was in did not have a public access way to reach the earth, and she was forced to make her way down by dropping herself from limb to limb, and then climbing down the knots of the trunk. Her leather tunic scraped the bark as she shimmied down the last few inches, and her feet touched the spongy soft layer of earth beneath the ferns.

Looking around her for the first time, she realized she had lost her bearings. Having back-tracked to the nearest trunk, she was now unsure of where she had seen the strange figure. A voice in her mind told her to climb right back up to the canopy and be on her way, but another voice, a stronger voice, urged her to go on.

Timidly, she stepped away from the trunk in the direction she guessed the figure lay. In the late afternoon, the forest at this level was quite dark, and she felt somewhat afraid. She had occasionally seen strange animals that lived on the earth roaming the forest below her, and she did not know if any were dangerous.

Before long she felt very lost. From this vantage, all the trees looked the same, and she could see none of the familiar landmarks by which she navigated far above. She had almost convinced herself to give up the search, when she saw him.

His body had been partially obscured by the tall patch of ferns in which he lay. She rushed towards him and knelt down by his side. From above, she had assumed he was one of her own people, but at this small distance, it was plain he was not. His clothes were foreign to her, his skin dark brown and weathered, and his fiery hair like none she had ever seen. Gently she prodded his shoulder, hoping to wake him. He groaned softly and shifted, but did not open his eyes. As he moved, she gasped. His side closest to her was a mass of blood pouring from a ragged, ugly wound.

"Hello?" she said, shaking him again. "Wake up. Can you hear me?" He groaned again, and his eyelids fluttered open. Naida gasped.

His irises were a dark, deep red like a setting sun, but the rest of his eyes were completely black.

"You," she whispered, recognizing him instantly as the man from her dreams. How could she not have seen it before? The hair, the face, the high cheek bones and strong chin. She had seen that face more times than she could count in her mind, in her dreams. She felt she knew this man as well as she knew herself.

And he was lying on the earth, bleeding, maybe dying.

His eyes stared up at her, blinking rapidly, not really seeing her, then they fluttered closed again.

"Don't move!" she cried. "Stay here! I'll go for help." She leaped up and began to run, but she had already begun to wonder who would help her. Her brother would be suspicious. He would want to put the stranger in a prison as likely as a hospital. Others might react the same way. Only she was familiar with him, knew him, and she could hardly communicated that in a way they would understand. Desperately, she stopped and stared around her.

Not far away was another trunk, its mighty roots spreading out in all directions. She rushed towards it. Between two of the largest roots was a space that had collected a mat of leaves and branches across the narrow space at its top. The result was a small space, wide enough for two people to sit, and deep enough for one person to lie that was dry and sheltered.

Naida sprinted back to the man, her heart racing. She took a deep breath to steady herself and held her hands out above his body. For a moment, nothing happened. She frowned and squinted, increasing her effort, and his body shuddered slightly and began to rise. It floated to no more than a few inches above the earth, but it was enough.

Slowly, carefully, she moved across the forest floor, his body parting the ferns like green water, as she took him to safety and shelter.

Monday, February 02, 2004

idea

In the early 1900s, Santa Fe, New Mexico, a young girl disappears from her family ranch. Her parents search frantically for her, to no avail. They put up a reward for the little girl's return. Weeks after her disappearance, a girl is found with an old cowboy near Amarillo who fits her description. The cowboy claims she is his adopted daughter, but the police don't believe him and he is sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping.

Almost 100 years later, the little girl's granddaughter sets out to try to discover whether or not her grandmother really was the woman whose name she grew up to have.

The past and present are intercut to show the 100 year old mystery and the present day sleuth.
I'm feeling crappy today, so probably no snippet today.

french phrase of the day

Va voir dehors si j'y suis.
Go jump in a lake.
(literally: Go look outside and see if I'm there.)

((And tell me if you see me.))