Monday, November 29, 2010

"I know you have felt much more love than you've shown."

I'm going to pull a Katie here. I was studying for my math exam tomorrow morning, so this seemed like the perfect time to blog. I mean, really.

This is perhaps why it's more difficult for me to formulate complete thoughts since high school ended. I haven't been procrastinating as much. I hope.


It's people who make me melancholy. Which is odd, because they also make me happy. I get irrationally excited over each human interaction. I walk away from conversations beaming. It's not until later that I sink into a cushy state of misery. It's not just the high-highs and the low-lows of a melancholy disposition. Every time I try to love there's the hurt of each little failure. In this love is a double-edged sword.

When I think about what separates me from loving people like I ought to, I tend to think (feel?) in messy circles. It's a combination of communications jargon (social communities, scripts and schemata, identity constructions, attributions, self-disclosure, social norms) and personal mottos that sound like they were ripped off the Disney Channel (be yourself, engage everyone, initiate without fear of rejection, pursue sincerity) and all of this so tangled, I think about it analytically and I just become inconsolably puzzled.

People and interaction and relationships are so interesting it's almost painful, you know?

But my problem isn't something in a textbook: it's not poor social skills or an anxiety disorder or maladjustment or societal conditioning. It's sin: fear and selfishness. Instead of loving others without restraint, as Christ loves me, I am reserved and reticent and stand-offish and two-faced. I wonder sometimes why I have any friends at all. Don't you guys know who I am? I'm a terrible person! Weirdos.

I want to see people truly. I want to understand them. I want to love them unconditionally. [Does it matter that someone is annoying or needy or wrong?] I want personal relationships, not social ones. I want to be friends with you, to make you see your worth and to encourage you and bear your burdens and learn from you and grow with you. Not because I want you to like me. Not because I want to feel good about myself. [Heaven forbid.] But because Jesus loves me, and I can't help loving you as a person He loves.

I'm just not sure I want it enough. Pray that I want it enough. ["Spirit, come flush the lies out."]

You know what? Now it's time to finish my math homework.

Monday, November 22, 2010

On being filled.

What is the meaning of being filled?

It is not the nod of the interviewer:
"Good question, good answer!"
It is not the bold small print
of the A and the 4.0
It is not the feel-good, do-good
of giving your time away
It is not the triumph
in exceeding expectations

It is not a boy's smile
or indulgent appreciative laughter
It is not the reward of human interaction
through the meaningful conversations
It is not the thrill of the words
"I feel the same"
It is not the building excitement
of a new acquaintance made

It is not the brother's hug
or the mother's gift
It is not a friend's confidence
or the thoughtful rememberings
It is not the torrents of rain
washing the muck downhill
It is not the rise and fall
of an all-encompassing melody

It is the emptying of the hurt and the slavery and the filth and the selfishness
It is about becoming hollow.
It is the cracking and the breaking and the shattering and the smashing
It is destruction.
It is the water and the washing and the flooding and the torrent
It is drowning.
In a love so unlike love that the foreign is familiar
It is the meaning of being filled.

How deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How NCFCA has helped me at college

1. Navigation

Day one of any tournament usually left me wandering around, exploring the new environment and staking out ahead of time where my rounds were going to be. I was careful, oh so careful, to make sure I knew where everything was. And yet without fail, every round, I would get lost. I would be wandering around in circles miserably, not understanding how this could have happened when I spent all that time scouting the lay of the land!

I'm oblivious. That's how it happened. So while I now know my way around a handful of campuses across the States, I still get lost at my own university. It doesn't matter that I've explored every square inch of the place, that I give upperclassmen directions, that I've all but memorized the campus map. I still walk into strangers houses and end up 15 minutes late to class and step off the bus feeling disoriented. You know why? Because I'm oblivious.

2. Registration

I thought I wouldn't miss the thrill of clicking refresh on the NCFCA website moments before registration opened, the rush of typing out all my events as fast as possible, and the futility of willing my browser to go faster. And I don't miss it. Because that's exactly what class registration is like. I found myself logging on each day leading up to my registration time, watching the number of available seats in the classes I wanted shrink and shrink. Depressing.

And just like kids whose parents have tournament jobs get to register before everyone else, here athletes get the first pick. It's a an equitable system, if not a fractured one. I now know how it feels to be on the other side of priority registration. It's lame. I feel like I need to write apology notes to anyone I've ever pushed out of an event I was PQ'd for.

3. Endurance

I'm stuck on campus five days a week, usually for 14 hours a day. And while hopping from class to class to work to meetings doesn't really compare with the strain of three-rounds-6-events-plus-debate, the whole college does feel a little bit like a tournament. Downtime when you find yourself alone, running late to rounds, not having a chance to grab a bit to eat, early mornings and late nights. Lots of strangers who seem to all know each other running around. Just, it all lasts a little longer than three days.

I'm kind of a pansy by nature, and while all this is very much the reality of American culture [basically until I retire, or die] I'm glad I had a chance to experience a more demanding environment, instead of going straight from the couch where I did my school to this fish bowl.

4. Script submission

If you thought the pile of strict and confusing script submission rules were entirely illegitimate, once you come to college, boy, will your mind be blown. Formatting rules are nonnegotiable. No exceptions, no excuses, no mercy. One and a half inch margins [the Microsoft Word default, mind you] will land you a zero. Ariel instead of Times New Romans? You're a goner. All my giant classes grade the homework on format instead of content, so if you don't follow instructions to the letter, you don't get the sympathetic smile of a submission person and a "Go to the library, fix it, come back." No, you get a ZERO. So don't whine about script submission; follow instructions.

And don't say I am lacking empathy, either! While it's true I survived nearly my whole career in NCFCA without a single script glitch, I did experience the sinking panic when I left a single word unnecessarily bolded at the most recent national tournament. I could have cried. Script problems are awful, one of the most traumatizing of all tournament issues. I understand. BUT. The emotional pain and stress is worth the lesson you learn. Follow the freaking directions, fool.

5. Skillz

But, of course you already know this. It's why we do NCFCA. To learn the skills. You know this by heart: never underestimate how important it is to be articulate and well-read and logical and a sociable converser and a gracious winner. Or loser, as the case may be. Everyone has to learn these skills eventually. It's just easier to have the jump on it all.

I didn't think it was possible to be more grateful for NCFCA than I already was, but the appreciation grows with the scope of my experience. It was the most useful thing I've ever done. Thanks Mom.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My God is so BIG!

I have not have a complete thought. You know how many drafts are idling here? 72. Since the start of school. I have so much to talk about! But nothing to say.

I went to work on Veterans' Day. The techs watched "Prince of Egypt" in the back, I heard one asking incredulously of the other, "This really happened?" -- "No, it's just a story." He shakes his head and says he doesn't understand how people can believe in religion, and I empathize. My head is quick to defend -- existence, evidence, experience all come rushing to mind, but my heart knows, it's too much to ask. Through all He's done, we've done so much to undo it.

What a testimony. A history of irreverence unravels human credibility. It seems so fantastic . . .

A friend is trying to convince me that the 9/11 attacks were really a government cover-up, showing me the movie "Loose Change". It's ridiculous. Even if their support weren't pure equivocation and shoddy research, faulting the government for factual anomalies is clearly non sequitur. And in an interview I watched of the authors of a book that debunked the conspiracy, they mentioned the 9/11 conspiracy uses the same appeals as creationists: a few gaps in the fossil record doesn't equal a creator. Just as I scoff at "Loose Change", finding the idea to ridiculous to entertain, they feel the same of the thought of a God.

And so I empathize. It seems impossible. Despite the evidence it's just too giant to believe. Its implications are earth-shattering. It's easier to dismiss God as sensationalism. It's too much, too much to indulge.

But it aches, you must know how much it aches, to be faced every day with the divide: you who have found hope and renewal and truth coexist with those that seem so far away from the truth because it's just so big.

So pray for Jimmy.

I watch the faces of people I pass on the quad out of the corner of my eye. Will it be her, God? Is he next? Whom will You touch, God? How will You use me next?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Compared to what?!"

I slept in this morning and it was wonderful. I sat in one place today, realizing that I do not belong in the advertising field, and listening to music, and catching up on correspondences, oh my, I hadn't realized that I had neglected so many. And I still have so many to go . . .

I chose this past week to fully launch into campus involvement: I'm writing an article for the student paper, making fliers for the Student United Way club, I'll hopefully be set up with an ESL conversation partner, and starting this coming Monday I'll have my own radio show on WRUI's Studio B. This past week at school positively flew by, and I think it's because of all this random stuff I'm doing. College is weird.

So there's this kid who sits next to me in my nutrition class sometimes, this past week he saw me working on my novel, and we compared our laptop decorations. His Mac sported a sticker for a store I had never heard of.

Him: . . . and they sell drug-related paraphernalia.
Me: Oh. I wrote my last novel about drugs.
Him: Was it about how bad drugs are?
Me: Well, it was about heroin. So, yeah.
Him: Yeah, heroin messes people up. So how do you know about drugs?
Me: . . . Wikipedia.

Aside from the fact that I am obviously socially impaired, I wonder if I'm making friends with someone who does drugs. I hope so. It's one of my goals for college. [Is that wrong? On multiple levels?] I shouldn't typecast people, but he brought it up! Surprisingly enough for a renown party school, supposedly nearly half of the student body at URI identifies themselves as "straight-edge"; no alcohol, no drugs, no smoking.

And speaking of things that are psychedelic! I've been watching "Pushing Daisies", finally, and it's so adorable and colorful and hilarious, I can't understand why it was cancelled. Actually. I totally can. But if I'm going to get hooked on another TV show, it's in my own interest that this TV show is only 22 episodes.

My mom got in a car accident on October 25th, yes, that would be the day the president came to town. It's made life interesting. It's strange that through no fault of our own, a random variable so greatly alter our lives. Our van was totaled, yeah, that beloved gold Odyssey we had so many adventures in. The insurance company is paying for a rental car until everything gets squared away with the adjuster, and after that, I'm not sure what my family is going to do. But God will provide.

Also, watch this:

You're welcome.