Fa(s)t (Food) Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

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Well, she’s very close to being one. And not to pick on Rachael in this comic – goodness knows I’ll still be eating Taco Bell at age 95.

There is so much unidentifiable food happening in this panel!

Superficial Saturday Night

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

I don’t have anything to wear to church tomorrow!  It isn’t even a last minute realization–I’ve known all week long that I was without an Easter outfit.  I knew it today when my family was out shopping, but I preferred to take a nap.  When I was a young lass my mother, of course, picked out my Easter dress and bonnet, and droopy little white tights.  I wish that I had an outfit like that for tomorrow.  Probably I am writing about clothes because the rest of today’s events were of varying extremes.  I was at the bridal shower of a dear friend.  I was at the hospital visiting my grandmother.  Tomorrow we celebrate the redemption of mankind by one loving saviour.  It’s a little too much to process right now.

The darkest day.

Friday, March 21st, 2008

I have never killed anyone.  I have never, in the course of my life thus far, shot, stabbed, poisoned, drowned, or in any other way taken the life from another human being.  But in my absolute failure to live righteously I have contributed to the death of the one man who ever lived who did not actually deserve to die.

This morning as I dressed for work I pulled on a kelly green polo–it would have been the perfect attire for earlier in the week when I forgot to overlook my true heritage for the sake of St. Patrick’s Day.  I was wearing this green shirt this morning as I brushed my teeth and I looked in the mirror and it was wrong.  The shirt was cheery and full of life.  Today is a day of mourning.  Without any fanfare I changed into a black sweater.

We have killed our King.

Good Friday.

I don’t know the man.

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

I had my first Peter moment when I was about 13 years old I would guess. This was the first time I can remember denying Christ, that is, and it’s not a pleasant memory. Prior to this I remember being bold and even reckless in my faith conversations. I remember asking neighborhood kids if they believed in Jesus. I remember being on vacation and asking strangers. Maybe I lost that spirit long before 13 years old, but it was at 13 years old that I distinctly noticed its absence.

I was at Art Camp at the local university. I was taking a photography course and there were a handful of kids I felt the need to impress. Looking back I’m not even sure why. One girl, a few years older than me, lived in my neighborhood. Another girl had, at age 13, already chosen her wedding dress, not to mention the boy she was going to marry. There must have been other kids, a crowd, enough to make me feel threatened, although I’m sure in reality they wouldn’t have cared one way or the other. We were all sitting around the courtyard eating our lunches in the shade. I was cross-legged on the paved ground with some of my camp-mates, and someone started a conversation about God. I was used to conversations about God–I attended a Christian school and we talked about God every day, it was curriculum. But here I was out in the world, unprotected. Here I was among artists and poets and philosophers, and they made it very clear how they felt about any Divine Being.

“I don’t really believe in God,” announced Ashley, the girl with the wedding dress, who was perched casually atop the brick half-wall. Noted, I thought in my head and continued to munch on my sandwich. “What about you?” Ashley asked, and all eyes were on me. It was the question I had been quietly dreading. “Are you a very religious person?” My heart began to race and I thought about a million different ways I could deflect the question, or answer with something “cool” like, “I have a soul and I know it’s connected to something greater, so yeah, sure, what’s it to ya?” In actuality I believe I took the world’s longest swallow on my peanut butter and gawked stupidly at my shoes for a few moments before muttering some embarassed answer. Maybe it wasn’t even a denial, I can’t remember my exact words. Isn’t an ashamed, “Yeah,” as bad as an outright, “Absolutely not!”? Maybe I said something about believing in God but not being religious (it’s always religion that is truly unpopular, rarely God), maybe I said something about my parents making me go to church (they have never made me), maybe I was simply noncommital: “I don’t know. Maybe, sort of, sometimes.” I don’t remember. I remember feeling a little sick afterward, I remember feeling guilty. The point is, I was not proud to align myself with God.

I think I heard a rooster crow that day.

Since then my life has been a series of denials and half-hearted admissions of my faith. It’s really sad to type that out. I would like to be bold again. I guess you could argue that this is bold, writing this here, on the World Wide Web, but really it’s not. This is easy. I want to be bold in my neighborhood, in my workplace, in my every day. I want to be that kid again, the one who bumps into another kid at the campground swimming pool and shares a laugh and then just puts it all out there. Or at least answers a question with confidence. I could be that kid. But it takes time.

Everything takes time.

Maunday Thursday.

The end of fast is fast approaching.

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Not that it is at the top of my mind these days, but today it occurred to me (well all right, it has occurred to me on a few earlier occasions as well) that by this Sunday the fast will end. By Sunday I am free to crack open a can of Cherry Coke and crank up the tunes on my stupid little music phone, if I so desire. On Sunday evening as I make the two hour drive home I will be able to, for the first time since the beginning of February, drive to the sound of music and imbibe a gallon of Mountain Dew to stay awake. What will be the first album that I play, after these long days of quiet? I’m not sure yet. I’m not sure if I ever want to drink soda again. I’ve gotten rather fond of water and tea and fruit smoothies. I’m not sure if music is such an addiction any longer. I like to hear it, but I have also come to adore the quiet.  I really like having quiet time! And I think I’ve learned how important that is. Remember when I gave up blogging for Lent? Ha! This has been much healthier, I’m sure of it.

Cheese is good; we like cheese sandwiches, right?

Monday, February 18th, 2008

I’ve been going back and forth between two equally cheesy Doogie Howser opening lines for today’s post. One reads like this: “Giving something up is difficult, especially if it is something that you have come to rely on. But as time passes, the benefits of giving up such dependencies compound at a fairly rapid rate.” Can’t you just picture the Doog typing something like that? The second went thus, “Sometimes when you have been waiting for something for a long time it only makes that thing better when it arrives. Sometimes, though, waiting so long for something brings expectations that can’t possibly be met.”

I’m sorry that my writing style has somehow boiled down to something so bland. But I do think I will go ahead and finish those two thoughts because, in spite of their initial presentation, I think they are some blog-worthy ideas. So here, just imagine me sitting at a circa-1990 IBM, wearing that white medical coat and maybe a fluffy blond crew cut and maybe somehow that will make this more easily digestible:

Giving something up is difficult, especially if it is something that you have come to rely on. But as time passes, the benefits of giving up such dependencies compound at a fairly rapid rate. (Haha, okay.) For Lent I gave up drinking soda and listening to music, at least in environments that I had control of (my car, my home, my computer). At first my body screamed for caffein and sugar, and my ears felt neglected as morning passed with alternating silence and the crackling murmur of talk radio. I have only been “fasting” in these respects for 13 days now, but I have already lost my appetite for soda and find myself relishing my self-imposed silence. I don’t say this to boast, because surely it is an act of grace that I can leave these idols (perhaps temporarily) behind me, and surely, as my parenthetical hinted at, I risk returning to them with equal or increased devotion after the fast has ended. But maybe I won’t, because I feel healthier, in small ways. When I stop drinking soda I drink more water and milk and juice and tea. These things are good for my body, or at least they are better for it than Cherry Coke. When I stop listening to music I spend more time thinking, which I admit can be an idol in itself and can be just as inward and unproductive as habitual consumption of prerecorded sounds and images.  But thinking, for me, is one step closer to prayer, which is the ultimate goal. That is to say, not all thoughts are prayers, but by allowing myself to be incessantly distracted I run the risk that few thoughts turn into prayers. I realize I am sounding very self-righteous by typing these things, but be assured I am referring always back to my own practices and my own habits, not anyone else’s who may be perfectly healthy and productive in the way that they consume.

Next thought, and slightly more concrete: Sometimes when you have been waiting for something for a long time it only makes that thing better when it arrives. Sometimes, though, waiting so long for something brings expectations that can’t possibly be met. Such was the case with my recent viewing of Persepolis, which, while fantastic, wasn’t quite what I had been hoping for. Visually it exceeded my most demanding expectations, and if only for the animation you (anyone who has ever loved a line or the way it moved) need to see this film. I guess that leaves the story, then, as the element which disappointed me, and I’m afraid it’s probably as simple as the Harry Potter fansters who object to every detail that was left out for sake of the flow and duration of the movie. And certainly there was much less omitted from the Persepolis canon than the Harry Potter canon, so probably it’s just that some of my favorite parts were gone, or else a scene was there in picture but Satrapi’s narration was not. For example, the scene where Marjane first leaves Iran and her parents are seeing her off at the airport: Marjane writes, “I couldn’t just go. I turned around to see them one last time.” We are then hit with an image of her mother who has fainted and lies limp in her father’s arms, and Marjane is looking on this horror-stricken and she writes, “It would have been better to just go.” The scene’s equivalent in the movie was gripping, but without that line it lost some of its impact, it lost that fist in the gut crumpling effect. I want to see the film again and force myself to view it separately from the books, because I know it was beautiful (everyone is saying that it is a beautiful film) but I couldn’t quite get past the marks I felt it was missing.

I always get nervous when I play the critic here, especially when I am criticizing someone I admire, and try not to do too much of it (although I think I mentioned earlier how completely disappointed I was with Satrapi’s “Embroideries“). After all, you never know who might read, and what if I’ve just destroyed my chances at being Marjane Satrapi’s best friend? But more than that I think about my own creative pursuits and how quickly I can be cut down to size and left with spirits trampled. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Maybe that’s presumptuous on my part, to think I even have the power to. But words are strong, man! I guess you have to give up your right to the kid-gloves when you step into the public light. I’ll continue to enjoy my gentler, more private world as an amateur. Still, I’m sorry if you’re famous and you have, for some reason, read something here that hurt your feelings.

And finally, since today is Superficial Monday I will say something about the appearance of this blog, which you may have noticed has changed a few times in the past couple weeks. I am trying to settle on something that works both structurally and aesthetically, and haven’t found it yet. I appreciate the individual feedback you have given me, to those who have given me individual feedback, and hopefully it won’t be long before Easel Ain’t Easy is looking pretty and also functional. Thank you for reading this long-winded and rather disjointed post.

Things I think but never do.

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

I am thinking about buying an electric guitar. I was at Holly’s house on Friday night and I mentioned this to her, and she offered to sell me a Les Paul but only after we spend some time guitar shopping and making sure that I have found the guitar that is right for me. It’s good advice, and if I wait long enough my electric-guitar-urge will probably subside just like my bass guitar one did. Here is the thing: what I really miss is playing the drums. All you melodic instruments can tempt me, but the drums have clenched my heart strings.

Giving up music for Lent hasn’t been nearly as hard as everyone seemed to think it would be. I’ve actually been enjoying the silence immensely, and survived a four hour round trip drive this weekend without any tunage (since Juno says it, can I say it?). Sometimes I listen to public radio and have listened to more political analysis than may be healthy. I have listened to some messages by Ravi Zacharias which require an ample amount of attention (an amount I was never able to muster in college) but which get me fairly excited about theology and philosophy. I wish I was friends with someone like Ravi Zacharias, actually, someone who is familiar with all kinds of philosophers and yet remains grounded in his faith. It’s encouraging at the same time that it is challenging.

I feel like my brain is ready for some real exercise. Oh malaise! I’m thinking about signing up for some psychology classes. I’m thinking about learning Spanish. I’m thinking about starting to exercise and eat healthy. I’m thinking about buying an electric guitar.

Giving up (but not really giving up).

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

Speaking of conscience-driven meltdowns, thank you, really, for the feedback after my last post. I suppose I tend to freak out every once and again that I am not doing more with these words that I type, as if a few powerfully constructed sentences in a scarcely-read blog could change things in a broken world. You have kindly brought me back to reality: writing should be an enjoyable experience; when it ceases to be so it no longer benefits anyone. As for writing anything of great impact, it’s a bold assumption to begin with, to think that I could beget any change on my own. It’s a precarious line to walk, that bordering earnestness and arrogance. I can do nothing alone, and words are dead without a larger, nobler force behind them.  So!

So here, for now, I will write for enjoyment (mine and hopefully yours), I will write to improve my skills as a writer, and, when blessed to do so, I will write an occasional piece to challenge our comfort and rouse awareness. I know it sounds like a simple solution, like two days after this crisis of conscience I have come completely to terms with my role as a writer, and of course that is not true. It’s something that I’m sure I will continue to grope at, and probably should, because although creating should be fun, it shouldn’t be easy. Maybe that is a flawed statement; feel free to tell me so.

Anyway, today is Ash Wednesday, and in case you were wondering you can expect plenty of new posts in the weeks to come, an announcement made necessary after the Great Disaster of 2006 when I gave up blogging for Lent. This year I will not give up blogging. This year I am giving up two things which are very dear to me: music, and soda. Soda is the old standby: I will give up soda because it is my addiction and I want to be free of it.  And I will give up music because it has become my idol, and I’ve grown tired of it.  My ears and brain could use a break, and my affection could stand to be refocused.  No more listening to music on my drive to work, no more listening to music in my painting studio, no listening to music while I write in my blog.  More than soda, I am looking forward to this music-fast.  I am looking forward to quiet, to the chance to hear my own thoughts and to spend time in prayer and meditation.  From now until Easter I will be listening for something entirely different than melodies and minor keys.  What will I hear, I wonder?

What “To circumvent Lent” meant:

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Last year, as you may recall, I gave up blogging for Lent. I’m not quite sure what I was trying to prove by doing so, but my intentions had little to do with meditating on Christ’s sacrifice. Here is what I wrote last year on Easter Sunday, when my Lenten blogging fast came to a close:

In these 40 days (okay, 39, you caught me) that I’ve given up blogging, yes, I’ve had more time to paint and write and play guitar and, yes, even read the Bible, but that isn’t the real reason we give something up for Lent–to free up time for other things. What a mockery I’ve made of it. And so I’ve decided that until I find the right reason, and the right sacrifice, I’m going to stop throwing it out there, like I’m something holy, like, “This year I’ll give up ___, my biggest sacrifice yet to date!” Honestly that isn’t why I do it, but until I can offer the real reason, I realize that is what it comes off as. And there I risk hypocrisy, which is insulting to everyone, especially to the people
who take the practice of fasting for Lent very seriously, and have the right heart about it.

I needed to remind myself of that this year, as my first inclination was to give up soda, with the unfortunately primary reason of, well, kicking the soda habit. Fewer calories, fewer cavities, one less addiction. But it’s still not the point of Lent. Nope, it’s still not. So what I’ve decided is, instead of some arbitrary withholding, this Lent I will be proactive. I will spend more time in devotion, more time in prayer. And when I realize that, for all of my effort, I still come up far short of earning my own salvation, I will reflect on the mercy and grace which culminate on Easter Sunday when we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

With all of that said, tonight I was reading in the fourth chapter of Ephesians and came across the thirty-second verse which took me immediately back to the summer of third grade. I was at summer camp and had just been taught a song that went thus: “Be ye kind one unto another! Tender-hearted, forgiving one another! Even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. Doo doo, doodly doo. Ephesians four thirty-two!” And there are finger motions! But I can’t very well type those out here. Perhaps some day, once technology has progressed a bit.

Also, my subject line exists merely for the sake of the rhyme. I do enjoy a good rhyme.