Saturday, February 27, 2010

"moan like a lyre. . ."

So, reading in Isaiah this morning, I was particularly touched by a certain line in chapter 16. Not because it convicted me of sin, but because the beauty of the poetic metaphor used does a wonderful job of describing how my feelings work. Isaiah has spent 10 verses describing the fall of Moab and lamenting for the destruction there. In verse 11, he introduces his simile: "Therefore my inner parts moan like a lyre for Moab, and my inmost self for Kir-hareseth". As I read, it struck me; in my rare sorrow, my depths of emotion, my heart also moans (though I would tend to compare it more to a cello or violin). That's one of the reasons I love stringed instruments so much; I do actually feel the sounds in my heart. It's hard to describe, but I think Isaiah captured it well.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hiding in my book...

Today in one of my Lit. classes, my prof. decided to "pick on Kelsey" (she regularly does this with her 300-400 level English students). She then mentioned how I had done a phenomenal job of improving as a writer in the last few months, giving details of my grades from last semester compared to now. Needless to say, while happy that an essay I literally wrote the night before and thought was crap turned out getting an almost perfect mark, I regretted my decision to sit near the front of the class. She continued to lecture the class on how if you pay attention to what your prof. scrawls in the margins, "like Kelsey" (gestures), you too can improve. Ironically, I made the same mistake in the essay I got back today as I did in a previous one I turned in to this same professor...In all honesty, a lot of it has to do with the fact that I put minimal effort into my Literature class last semester because I needed to focus my attention to Biology and Philosophy. Without trying, I still got a B+ in the class, and managed with effort to pass both my hard classes with a decent grade. Granted, I'm working to improve my GPA this semester, and it seems to be paying off...we'll see when I get my midterms back. There are certainly worse things to get singled out in class for.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gracious Conviction

So many thoughts in my head tonight, so many things to do, to study for, to write, to think about...but tonight a dear friend graciously convicted me in my small group. She challenged me that really, I have plenty of time on my hands and ought to devote more of it to reading the Word and spending significant time in prayer. I thank God for her and her boldness to say this to me because it's absolutely true. I need to be a doer of this Word and meditate on it day and night. I can grow much in this area. So tonight I'm going to put aside my studying for class to study part of Romans. May God bless the reading of His word, and continue to put these true friends into my life!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Well, that's a new one.

Because I'm still new in Seattle, I'm often meeting new people. Today, I was talking to an older man who had sat in front of us in church (apparently, he already knew my brothers). After a long and somewhat awkward conversation, his wife joined us. "You're one of the university kids?" I replied in the affirmative. "Where at, and what are you studying?" As I usually do with Americans, I explained that I went to a small Christian University in Calgary, Alberta and was studying English. With a disgusted look, the woman said "that's boring" and turned her back to me, effectively ending the conversation. I ended up talking to her husband for a bit longer, and then thankfully, the service started. 

Now I've gotten a wide range of responses to my comment "I'm studying English", but never one quite like this. Typically when people totally disapprove of my major, they sit and lecture me about it. How I'll never get a job that pays anything, how it's a complete waste of my time, how I'm just a nerd, how boys don't like girls that think, etc. At the very least, this woman was brief. Her summary of "your major is boring, therefore, you are as well" is actually mildly amusing. Rather than giving me a patronizing lecture, she didn't even consider me worth her time. Still, it's far better than the hell-fires that I deserve. Thank God that it's about Him not me and I don't have to be wallowing in self-pity or trying to boost my pride from that sucker-punch to the ego. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

" will soon be brutally reminded that winter is far more powerful than you are awesome"

I'm not sure how familiar you are with the blog "Stuff White People Like", or its suburban evangelical spinoff, "Stuff Christians Like", but the latter has just had a hilarious guest post from an old neighbor of mine (his blogs include "Twenty-two Words"  and "Downhill Both Ways"). As someone who has had to learn the hard way that fashion must be sacrificed to practicality when you have an hour transit commute to church in the winter, it's always amusing/sad to see people who never learned that lesson.

Homework on the Balcony...

Proof that I was at least once sitting by my textbook on this trip. I have actually accomplished quite a bit of research. Ironically, after reading Freud's "Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis" (having to do with the premises and techniques involved in the interpretation of dreams) I had a rather odd dream. Clearly I'm thinking enough about homework for it to haunt my dreams as well as my waking hours.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guilty Pleasures?

Things I have been introduced (or reintroduced ) to this semester: 

Coffee. I blame it on Seattle, really. But since Christmas break, I actually can't bring myself to drink crap coffee anymore, meaning the likes of my cafeteria coffee,Tim Hortons, McDonalds, and gas stations all around are now not worth buying ( don't even get me started on industrial-strength Baptist church coffee...). So does that make me a coffee snob? Yep. I guess I'm not ashamed of it.

Lily Allen. I got a few of her albums over break and now I play them rather often. Really, she's rather edgy and profane, what is it I like or find redeeming about her? She's heartless and jaded about relationships, and sings about the bitter reality of sin without calling it that. One of my favorites is a song called reminds me of living in downtown Minneapolis.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves. The combination of British humor and elitist grammar jokes makes this one of my favorite books of all time, hands down. I've been reading it in the evenings after homework before bed as my "fun" book. Definitely one that I'd recommend. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane?

After finally making it through customs and security (which involved everything I brought being entirely unpacked, not to mention a full pat-down) we boarded our little plane on time to depart. It's a rather tight fit, and I'm seated next to a rather large man, or rather, will be when we're allowed to reboard. Yes, we were told to deboard the plane after our rather sheepish pilot announced there was, "a light on on the dashboard that wasn't supposed to be on". So our plane has been towed and we're waiting here to see what the verdict is from the mechanics. Thankfully, I've got no connecting flight, and there's free wi-fi at the airport. I'll amuse myself by observing the other passengers until our plane returns.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

(Mmm...smells like cinnamon.)

 In the last 24 hours, I have written 12 pages of text for the same prof. (in three different classes: 2 essays and a midterm). Typically, I have problems filling pages, but God has been good and taken my gift of brevity for the time being. Now all I have to do is make it through the Open House and coast through to the end of the week: then there will be sunshine and flowers and family and good food....(contented sigh). If college wasn't set up with these breaks, I'm not sure what I would have to do to briefly escape school life. Probably exercise or something. 
For now, I'll sit with my steaming mug of cider waiting with bated breath for my paper to be reviewed so I can get to bed. 

Surely, to be up late is to be up early!

Because it's early in the morning and I'm still wired enough to be up for hours, here's a post from a neglectful blogger: One recently written, and one written weeks ago. I'm hoping, like Mary Shelley, to receive a literary muse in the middle of the night...or at least mimic her thoughtful expression while sitting at my computer. To begin, excerpts from a recent essay (and if that doesn't bore you to sleep, I can't help you): 

Since its publication in 1818, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus” has both entertained and challenged readers. While at first glance, one may consider this to be a clich├ęd tale of a hero’s quest to overcome a monster, there is more to this classic novel than meets the eye. Shelley so masterfully crafted the story that it leaves the reader questioning whether there really is a hero at all. This dialogic nature of “Frankenstein” lends the story its beauty and is perhaps its most enduring feature....
                    The likely candidate for a hero would, of course, be Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant and ambitious young doctor, attempting to discover the mysteries of life. Broken and madly driven by the death of his mother to his unorthodox experiments, Victor forsook domesticity and relationships with the living in the attempt to find a way to cheat death. In an attempt to atone for creating the monster, Victor vainly tries to terminate its existence and save the lives of his loved ones. But one cannot help but wonder how the monster would have acted had Victor fulfilled his duties as father and creator. As the monster says, “...where were my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses...”(141). Rather than nurturing his creation and training it how to live, Victor failed in his role as a creator by being selfish and worldly in his judgement of his innocent monster...
        The logical choice would then seem to be Victor’s tormented creature; oppressed and cast out by mankind, the monster seems to only return evil for evil, and certainly has the capacity for goodness. Despised by mankind, the monster could at least have lived out his days in nature rather than becoming the merciless creature he accused his creator of being. Indulging his vengeful nature caused him to be all the more despicable, precisely as he planned, “I will revenge my injuries: If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear” (173). After Frankenstein’s death, the monster repents of his vendetta and grieves his choice, “Now vice has degraded me beneath the meanest animal...whilst I destroyed his hopes, I did not satisfy my own desires” (273). Seeking satisfaction in the destruction of his creator, all the monster found was more emptiness, and he delights in the thought of ending his long and miserable existence away from the society that made him an outcast. 
Who then, is our hero? To whom can we turn for a noble example to follow? I believe this seeming lack of a hero is Mary Shelley’s intention. Drawing from the very real issues of injustice and death in her life, Shelley creates a situation where bad things happen to both to the innocent and the guilty. No level of knowledge or strength can save her characters, only the love and sympathy of their fellow creatures. Devoid of this, Victor and the monster both die miserable and alone. Therefore, the absence of a truly loving figure in “Frankenstein” results in the lack of a traditional hero. 

I'm not overly thrilled with it, but I've turned in worse work. I feel I did I weak job of answering the question posed for the essay, "Who is the hero in Frankenstein"...there's so much more to be explored, but I was already over twice the minimum word limit for the essay, so I figured that was enough. And now for something completely different: people watching and musings on gender differences and plants!

Men with flowers are fascinating things to behold. There’s a sort of awkwardness about them. You give a girl a flower, and she looks as natural with it as if she grew up out of the ground herself. The way she holds it, the way she admires its intricacy and scent, as if she could somehow absorb its beauty through examination...even the most nature-despising of women has some appreciation for flowers. And, of course, it must be granted that there are plenty of men that value flowers. But here... are two young men who look like they’d far rather bequeath the gorgeous roses they bear on some lovely lass. It fascinates me how much affinity guys seem to have to appreciate the beauty of a woman, and yet they seem to miss seeing it in everything else. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Reck your own rede.

Because I'm reading currently re-reading Hamlet, I've been getting to muse over rather familiar passages. It never ceases to amaze me how many phrases that we currently use have their origins in Shakespeare's works. I cannot help but feel the weight of Hamlet's just critiques of my sex regarding the brevity and shallowness of their relational attachments. "Frailty, thy name is woman!" or better yet, "O most pernicious woman! O villain, villain, smiling damned villain! My tables--meet it is that I set down, that one may smile and be a villain". But something that caught my eye more this read-through was Laertes' parting advice to his sister Ophelia regarding the attentions of Hamlet,
"Then weigh what loss your honor may sustain, if with too credent ear you list his songs; or lose your heart; or your chaste treasure open to his unmaster'd opportunity. Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister; and keep you in the rear of your affection, out of shot and danger of desire. The chariest maid is prodigal enough, if she unmask her beauty to the moon: virtue itself scapes not calumnious strokes: the canker galls the infants of the spring, too oft before their buttons be disclosed; and in the morn and liquid dew of youth contagious blastments are most imminent. Be wary, then; best safety lies in fear: youth to itself rebels, though none else is near" ( translation: Guard your heart, and "tender yourself more dearly")

Really, it's interesting. In context, he's just spent many lines explaining how Hamlet is a prince, and she's not in his league, regardless of Hamlet's protestations that he loves her. Ophelia replies somewhat wryly (or at least it sounds that way in my mind when I read it) ,"I shall the effect of this good lesson keep...but, good my brother, do not, as some ungracious pastors do, show me the steep and thorny way to heaven; whilst, like a puft and reckless libertine, himself the primrose path of dalliance treads, and recks not his own rede." (translation: Oh, I will, but make sure you do too!)

Her father Polonius adds his own advice farther down in the scene, "When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul lends the tongue vows; these blazes, daughter, giving more light than heat--extinct in both, even in their promise, as it is a-making--you must not take for fire." So true...and on a different note, I've always associated the idea of light and heat with Desiring God ministries, so it was funny to see that phrase elsewhere.