frogg files

"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick." --Flannery O' Connor

Friday, April 29, 2005

I Don't Know How To Title This One

I've been drinking a lot of diet soda, not because I'm on a diet, but because I feel like I'm starting to drink too much soda in general. So instead of going cold turkey, which seems to work for a few days and then doesn't, I'm trying to fool myself into thinking that soda is really gross. I hate diet cola especially, so I figure if I drink it enough, I'll forget what real cola tastes like; like maybe I'll forget that I really love the taste of, say, an ice-cold Coke. Regular Coke.

The problem is, I tend to add things to my diet cola to make it more palatable, such as vanilla extract. If that sounds disgusting, well, it actually kind of is, but not nearly as disgusting as the diet cola by itself. The point is, I realized today that I'm trying to convince myself not to drink soda by drinking soda that I don't like, and then attempting to make the soda I don't like taste better so that I will like drinking it.

I've come to the conclusion that I might be insane.

On another note: if you're in the Bay Area, don't forget to check out Yardley at Epic Arts Studio in Berkeley on Saturday night! Maybe I'll see you there--after I hopefully have dinner at the Crepe Vine. Oh, how I miss that place!

Well, have a great weekend whatever you end up doing.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Driving

Last night I heard the rain in my sleep. I thought I was dreaming, but when I woke up, the ground outside was wet.

I hope that it is partly cloudy on Saturday, for my drive up to San Francisco. I don't like driving in the rain, but I also don't like to see blank blue sky on that long, straight drive. I'll be taking I-5 because it's a little quicker than 101, although I will miss the view of the sea.

On the other hand, I'll get to see the windmills along 580, and that is not a bad substitute.

Speaking of driving, here are my top five drives in New Zealand, in no particular order:

5) Christchurch to Queenstown, passing Mt Aoraki along the way.

I really like this drive mostly because it takes you past Lake Tekapo. I never saw a lake quite that color before...an opaque, slightly turquoise blue. And off in the distance, the little cloud that hovers perpetually over Mt Cook.

4) Lewis Pass

I did this drive in the early days of spring, 2003. Wow. I stopped off at a trail, what was the name of it? Sumner Track, I think. I was alone. There was a long swing bridge, like something you'd see in Indiana Jones. I crossed it, and the whole time all I could think as I looked down at the rushing river and rocks below was, "If this thing breaks and I fall to my death, no one will ever know." Because no one knew where I was.

3) Christchurch to Akaroa via Lyttleton, then out to the peninsula

My brother and I did this one together. I can't describe the view we saw when we finally got out of the car near the peninsula, except to say that I never knew there really was a place where, when you looked off into the distance, you really couldn't tell the difference between sky and sea. But there is, and we were there.

2) Te Anau to Milford Sound (especially after the Homer Tunnel)

Before the tunnel is fine, but passing through it, you come out on the other side and the mountains are suddenly all around you, jagged, barren, and wild. On a stormy day, waterfalls are everywhere, and you can't see the mountain peaks because they are lost in the mist.

1) Kaikoura to Blenheim

This is probably my favorite drive, hands-down. I did it several times during my two stays in NZ, and I never, ever got tired of it.

I wish I had pictures of all of these drives, but I don't. You will just have to go to New Zealand and check them out for yourself.

(By the way, the above are all drives on the south island. I do have a few favorites on the north island as well, but perhaps I will save those for another post. I don't know why they didn't make the top five; I liked the north island, but I have to admit that my heart was all for the south.)

Fine Wine

Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vines have tender grapes.--Song of Solomon 2:15

There is a scene in the movie Sideways where a man and a woman are seated on a porch at night, and the man likes the woman very much but he is afraid to tell her, and the woman likes the man very much, but she might be afraid that perhaps he doesn't like her (it is harder to tell what she is thinking, and that could be part of the reason the man is afraid too). They are both connoisseurs of wine, and the man particularly likes pinot, and as they sip on a fine vintage (the name of which escapes me now, and it may or may not actually be pinot), the woman leans forward and asks the man why he likes pinot so much anyway; what makes it so different, for him, from other wines? So he tells her (his voice tender, almost shy) about how the pinot grapes are not easily grown, how they are thin-skinned, delicate, "temperamental," requiring constant care and attention. They only grow in certain pockets of the world, because of requiring precise weather conditions. They aren't "survivors," he says, not like cabernet which will grow just about anywhere; ah, but when they do survive, when the wine is made, what a brilliant, "ancient flavor"! And nothing (you can see he means this), nothing can compare to it.

The man looks at his glass more than the woman as he speaks, but her eyes never leave his face, and you know that she knows that on some level he is talking about himself, even if he doesn't know it. But I think he is also talking about the woman he will love, because deep inside himself, he doesn't want just anyone, and especially he doesn't want someone who doesn't need him to help her grow.

And I know, though neither of them do, that he is really talking about me, and that I also am like the pinot grapes, full of promise, but easily broken and bruised, if I am not handled with exquisite gentleness and care; a loving regard, not just for what I am, but for what I will be someday.

The finest wine is appreciated most by the one who waits.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The One?

One of my single girlfriends and I recently had parallel relationship experiences where, in the space of pretty much the exact same period of time, we both met guys that we liked, whom we dated or hung out with for awhile, and then watched everything fall apart in the end. And our similar situations (made worse by the fact that we are both turning the big 3-0 this year) engender endless conversations over coffee, tea, and occasionally large amounts of chocolate, during which we seek to discover:

1) What's wrong with us, and
2) What's wrong with them ("them" being the entire male species)

We don't get very far with either of these topics in terms of getting to an answer, but they are the sort of things that girls talk about at great length, so, being girls, that's what we do. You can't escape the mandate of your genes.

But another thing we talk about is the question of whether or not there is a "The One" for everyone, and by The One, I mean one particular person who out of all the other people on earth, is designed just for you, and vice versa. I have my own opinions on this (like that's a big surprise), but while I sort them out, I'm curious to know what other people think. So tell me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

TV: Prescription for Illness

I'm sick today. I hate being sick when it is beautiful and sunny outside. Well, not that I like being sick otherwise, but somehow it seems more of an affront when I feel yucky and the rest of the world doesn't.

When I'm sick I like to have Earl Grey tea and toast, but we are out of Earl Grey and regular bread. So I had cheap Ralph's brand tea, and oatmeal. It's not the same.

Another annoying thing about being sick is daytime TV. It's awful. For example, right now I am half-watching Speed 2: Cruise Control. It's way worse than the first one, but then again, sequels usually are. (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason more than bears out my theory. So do every single one of the Jaws followups.) Speed 2 features Jason Patric, who was in Lost Boys back in the 80s, playing a tortured-lover-turned-vampire, which for some reason I found oddly attractive. I'm not sure what he's playing in Speed 2, because I can't really be bothered to pay that much attention. I can't believe I'm about to say what I'm about to say, but...I kind of wish they'd kept Keanu Reeves. Now please excuse me while I go wash my mouth out with soap.

Ok, I'm back now.

Thinking about daytime TV reminds me of this one series that always seemed to be on when I was a kid and stayed home sick from school. This is way back in the day, I mean I'm talking like fifth or sixth grade. It was a made-for-TV miniseries called V. Does anyone else remember this show? It's all about aliens who come to earth, and they look just like us, and they are very friendly, so everyone makes friends with them. Everything is cool until some pedantic do-gooder discovers that, in fact, the aliens are big lizards masquerading as people, and they are secretly eating humans, or something. And then he feels compelled to do something about it, like warn everyone, but of course very few people believe his rants and raves, so lots of people die, and chaos ensues, but in the end he gets to be a hero, and some of the lizards turn out to be quite nice and marry some of the humans they've fallen in love with.

You know, TV is really, really lame.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Buggin'

I wrote something in my post yesterday that has been bugging me ever since. I said I don't relate to people who express hard-line, one-sided opinions. The reason this bugs me is that sometimes I am one of those people. I mean, I have one-sided opinions as often as most people. I am as lazy about researching issues as the people I criticize for being lazy about researching issues. Ouch. So what exactly do I mean when I say I don't relate to people on the extremes?

I guess I really mean I like playing devil's advocate, and as soon as someone says words like "they always," or "they never," I'm primed to disagree. I may not have facts on my side, but I rarely care (anyone who follows the frogg files regularly already knows this).

All this thinking has led me into a quagmire of self-realization today, which I try to avoid when I can, because usually I can't. To get out of it today, I'm going to talk about the spider in my shower.

There is a spider in my shower. He is a small spider, thankfully. He has built a very attractive little web in the corner just above the showerhead. This indicates a couple of things, namely:

1) I need to clean my shower more often; and,

2) Um, maybe that's it, actually.

But I couldn't bring myself to destroy the web and wash the spider away. He really has worked quite hard, probably harder than I work on any given day. I feel bad anyway when I kill bugs. They are so much smaller, and it seems terrible because of the fact that they probably don't have a clue as to what's coming. Especially ants. I hate ants, but I still feel guilty when I kill them. I mean, what if I were an ant, and I was just going about my business of being annoying on picnics, or kitchen counters, and I didn't know I was being annoying because all I was doing was my job of trying to find food for the hive. (Oh wait, that's bees...what do you call where ants live? Is it a nest? Yeah, that sounds right.) ANYWAY, all of a sudden a shadow looms, blocking the light of the sun, or the lamp or whatever, and then SMOOSH. Total oblivion, unless you believe animals go to heaven, in which case perhaps ants go there too, but I think people assume only cute fuzzy animals and maybe horses actually go to animal heaven. I don't think anyone really believes that bugs are good. I think most people hope all bugs go to hell. Except perhaps butterflies, because they are pretty.

Wow.

After reading what I just wrote, I think I need to do something a lot more productive with my time. Maybe I'll go clean the shower.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

On Hearing Anne Lamott

I went to the LA Times Festival of Books today, at UCLA. I went mostly because I wanted to hear Anne Lamott speak. A few years back, a friend gave me a copy of Lamott's book, Bird by Bird, which I absolutely loved, and I thought it would be interesting to see the author in person and hear her read from her work.

She was the last main speaker of the day, following Walter Mosley, whose work I haven't read, but I think I just might have to, after attending his reading. I liked him too, I mean as a person. Not that I met him, but I liked his presence on the stage, the things he had to say. I also liked his sense of humor. And I was oddly struck by what he had to say about truth: that everyone should strive to tell the truth--the real, gut-level truth--about something important to them at least once every day.

So I think I might check out his book The Man in the Basement, because he described his characters like this: one is evil but not bad, and the other is innocent but not good. I'm a sucker for paradoxes, what can I say.

But about Anne Lamott. When she finally came on the stage at 4pm, I was surprised to see that she was older than I'd thought, from her book jacket pictures. This always happens when I see authors in person. (Except maybe for Michael Chabon, who looked almost exactly like his picture when I saw him at a reading at Cody's Books in Berkeley years ago.)

One of the first things that Anne did when she got to the podium was get tangled up in her microphone wire and her Festival of Books badge. I liked this about her, that she started off in a bit of a mess; it's the sort of thing that would probably happen to me if I was a famous author and was about to read from my latest best-seller in front of a huge crowd. (Maybe someday it will happen.)

But then she began to talk, and the first part of her talk wasn't about writing, or faith, or even about the book she had just had published (which is called Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith), it was about politics and how horrible Bush is, and all his cronies. Not that I didn't agree with her on some level, but then again, I don't ever think that the political situation is as black and white as "we're bad, they're good." no matter which side of the political fence you stand on. It's just not that simple, and I find it hard to relate to people who express a one-sided hard-line point of view, even if I happen to agree with them.

So I thought about getting up and leaving, because I didn't drive all the way to Westwood to get diatribed. I came because I wanted to hear about writing, to be reminded why I do it, and maybe to find out if I really am a writer at all, because I'll tell you what, some days I don't feel much like it. Well, in spite of my misgivings, I stayed, and I was glad I did, because eventually she did actually read from her latest book, and she told the story of how she was feeling angry and helpless about all the crap going on in the world, and she asked her priest friend what on earth she could do about it. He said there were needy people all around us, and that you didn't necessarily have to go to Iraq to find them. So she asked God to make her more giving, or loving, or something. Then she went to the supermarket, and won a ham. She didn't like ham, so she was a little perturbed at God, but then she figured that if God gives you a gift, even if it's a ham, you better take it. On her way out to the car, in the parking lot, she accidentally ran her shopping cart into a rusty old wreck of a car, and then she saw that inside was a friend of hers who had been in rehab with her, and Anne said, "Hi! It's my birthday!" The friend said, "Happy birthday," then started crying because she needed gas, and she needed food and she had no money.

Guess who got the ham.

Isn't that a great story? I think so, and it reminded me of why I decided to like Anne Lamott, way back when I first read Bird by Bird. And it's why I think in some way we are fundamentally alike, even though we would probably disagree on a great many things, and maybe even annoy each other a lot, if we knew each other personally. But I like her because she talks about life from personal experience, not dressing it up in fancy literary terms and metaphors, but just describing it as it is, filled with messes and sadness, but also a lot of grace and humor, and I think I do want to be a writer after all, if I can write just a little bit like that.

So thanks, Anne, for being yourself, for giving a good read, and for being a better writer than you seem to think you are. I like your work. Keep it up.

(PS: You know, I really liked the ham story a lot. I liked it because it showed the way God works. We tend to get angry at him for not "doing his job," when all the time he is trying to help us do ours.)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Yardley

Hey SF Bay Area peeps, check out my friend's band, Yardley, at Epic Arts Studio next Saturday (April 30). I'm sure they rock. I don't actually know, because I am a lame friend who has yet to make it to one of their shows, but I really have had the best intentions, it's just been stupid things cropping up at the last minute and all that. Bad excuses, all of them (sorry LB!). But I am going to try and make it to this one!!

Oh, which reminds me...I'll be in the Bay Area next weekend! Just fyi. So if you are one of my bay area buddies, gimme a call or drop me a line, and maybe we can get together. Unfortunately, my time will be quite limited, but if I can, I'd love to see you, and if not this time around, I am sure there will be other times. I can't seem to stay away!

Anyway, about Yardley. They've played some cool venues down here in LA recently (Genghis Cohen, House of Blues, The Viper Room, Knitting Factory), and I think Saturday's show will be great.

Hope to see ya there!

cdbaby.com
yardley

Thursday, April 21, 2005

U2, Brute?

Ok, so actually "brute" is supposed to be pronounced "brutay". like the guy in Julius Caesar who helps to betray and kill Julius, only I don't know how to format the "e" with the little accent thingy over it which would indicate correct pronunciation, so...oh never mind. It was a stupid joke anyway.

The POINT is, I want to see U2 in concert this year, but tickets are all gone, so if anyone has an extra ticket and is looking for someone to go with them, TAKE ME!! Please!!

Thanks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

What a Gas

So I was chatting with good buddy S4P online today, when I got one of those little pop-ups from MSN Messenger that lets me know I've received a new Hotmail message. In this case, Messenger informed me that I had received a new Hotmail message from...Gas Relief.

Now, I'm pretty sure that none of my friends are named Gas Relief, so I, with lightning-quick analytical reflexes, quickly deduced that the message was probably some sort of marketing spam. But...Gas Relief?? Are you serious?

I flipped over to my mail application and there it was in my inbox...with the subject line (and I am not kidding about this), "You're getting free GAS for 1 year!"

Wow. Do I get free Rolaids for a year too, or just the gas? I'm so relieved! (Gas Relief...relieved...get it? Haha!)

So the (heart)burning question in my mind first of all is: who was the marketing genius who came up with this one? And then: who was the marketing idiot who approved it for release? (Release...get it? Haha!)

Because I have to say, I was quite disappointed when I actually opened up the email and realized that I was not, in fact, getting free gas for a year. I was being offered the chance for free gasOLINE. BIG difference, folks. A little bit of misleading advertising there, I'd say.

Well, in the end it all sounds very tempting, but I think I'll have to pass (hehe!).

Ok, I'll stop now.

Overthinking

So I was informed by a friend today of something that many other friends have informed me. Are you ready for this?

I think too much.

Are you shocked? I thought not. People who know me, even if they've only just met me, pick up on this one pretty quick. Sometimes I wish I was a little less thoughtful--well, no, that's not what I mean. Less obsessive, yeah that's it, But there are some things about me that will probably never change, and I'm pretty resigned, after nearly 30 years, to that being one of the "unchangeables."

On the other hand, if my inability to cook changed, that would be good.

So yeah, I'm not perfect (gasp!). Don't tell anyone.

Beautiful

It's a gorgeous day today. I spent the night at a friend's house last night, and in the morning I went out into the backyard to see her roses. One of the rosebushes was taller than me. I love seeing drops of water on the petals of a rose in the morning. That's beauty.

I don't take the time to look around often enough. But when I do, I'm always glad.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Queenstown Luge

So about this time last year, I was traipsing around the South Island of New Zealand with my brother.

One of the funnest things we did was the luge at Queenstown. I highly recommend it to anyone. Here's how it works...first you take a gondola ride up the side of a mountain, unless you want to hike up, which we definitely didn't. At the top is the luge ride. The ride goes like this: you get a helmet, and then sit down in a little plastic sled with handlebars and the ride operator gives a short safety talk, which basically consists of "Here's how you stop, here's how you go, don't hit other people, have a nice time." My brother and I kept waiting for the release waiver that would absolve the luge people from any responsibility should we lose control of our little sleds and go careening off the track, over the mountain cliff, and down to the valley below, but no waiver was given. Kiwis obviously aren't too worried about getting sued. My brother and I looked at each other.

"Cool," he said.

"Yeah," I said.

"So..you wanna race?"

"Duh."

On went the little plastic helmets and we were off. Forget safety, kids...we had learned to drive in LA, and we were going to put those valuable skills to use. Well, one skill anyway--speeding.

There are two luge tracks. One is the beginner track, and you have to do that one the first time. It is nice and scenic, and as you putz along in your little plastic sled, you can take in the beautiful view of the jagged peaks that make up the Remarkables on the other side of the huge lake below.

You do have to be careful about how you slow down on the sleds, because the method for stopping is pushing forward on the handlebars, and if you do this too suddenly at high speeds you will probably upend your little sled, and fall right out of it on the hard pavement of the track. I was nervous that I would do this; it seemed pretty typical of the sort of thing that I manage to do to myself, but the solution was quite simple really: don't use the brakes.

That was my brother's method, anyway, and it seemed to work for him. If he had been a cartoon character, you would have seen a trail of fire on the concrete track behind him as he wildly slalomed down the hill. There was one section on the advanced track with a sudden drop, of off which I think he actually caught a fair amount of air, then zoomed down the rest of the hill, blazing past a yellow sign on the side of the track with a big exclamation point and the word "SLOW." (Or maybe it said "Brake." Either way, it was pretty ironic.)

The fun didn't stop when our five rides were over. We stood on the side of the track for awhile and watched people come down, and cheered them on. We saw one guy go by, very cautiously, and we shouted encouragement to him. "No brakes, no brakes!" were the actual words we used, as I recall. He smiled nervously, but I noticed that the next time he came down the hill, he was going a bit faster. The time after that, faster still and he seemed more intently hunched over the handlebars, more tightly focused. It was a big improvement to his first run. And by his last time, I think he really wasn't using his brakes! Mission accomplished. My brother and I were very pleased and applauded enthusiastically.

We also saw a few luge accidents, where people lost control and hit the padded sides of the track. We applauded enthusiastically for them too, since they did a good job of providing amusement for us.

Ah, good times on the Queenstown luge. Check it out if you get a chance. And take me with you...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Flirtations Remembered

Driving home from church today, a black beemer pulled level with me on the freeway and I looked over in time to catch a sleazy guy's "hey babe" grin. I'm afraid I couldn't help from rolling my eyes. I mean, come on, what does he expect me to do? Pull off to the shoulder and wait for him to come and sweep me off my feet and into his life? Puh-leeze.

But the encounter reminded me of one of the most creative ways I've ever been hit on, and that also happened on a freeway.

I guess it happened about five years ago. I was driving on I-5, on my way to the Bay Area from Los Angeles. I had a little red sports car at the time, a 92 Toyota Celica, and I was cruisin' along at about 80mph--er, I mean, I was going exactly the speed limit, as I always do. Ahem...anyway, at some point, I noticed that a big white pickup truck was keeping pace with me. I looked over, and there is this guy smiling at me (he was in the passenger seat, and there were probably at least 2 other guys in the truck). He was kinda cute, so I smiled back.

Well, we kept driving along, and the next time I looked over, I was surprised to see that he had a laptop computer which he was holding up to the window. To my amazement, he'd written a message in what must have been 1000 point font, and it said, "What is this, the Cannonball Run?"

I had no clue what he was talking about, so I just shook my head and kept driving. But of course, I couldn't resist the urge to look back again shortly thereafter, and then I saw, "Why are you in such a hurry--do you have a date?" (He must not have noticed that I was going exactly the speed limit, by the way. Riiight.)

I had to laugh. The "conversation" went on for the next half hour or so, with him writing questions and me "answering" by nodding or shaking my head. And in the end, I got his phone number.

Of course, I never did call him. But he was cute. And like I said, at least he was creative!

The worst hit-on was when I was about 17. I was going to a sports event with some friends, and as we were walking into the stadium, this guy came along who was trying to scalp tickets or something. He fell into step with us and kept talking even though we didn't want to buy tickets, and then he says to me, "You have really strong legs. Do you play soccer or something?"

Now, it happens that I am a little sensitive about the size of my legs, because they are a bit on the muscley side, and I wasn't pleased at all that he would pay attention to them. This is not the way to my heart, men. Don't ever comment on my legs if you want to go out with me. Don't even say they are nice, because I won't believe you, and I just will be all self-conscious that you were looking at them.

So, much to no one's surprise, I didn't go out with him.

Also men, try to remember that when you ask me out, you are asking ME out, not just my breasts. I was 14, on vacation with my family at Newport Beach and while I was out in the water one day, this guy comes over and asks me out--but the entire time (and I really do mean the entire time), his eyes never met mine. He seriously couldn't seem to stop looking at my chest! I was like, "Hello! I have a face!!! Please look at it!" But he didn't.

I didn't go out with him either.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Funny Things Happen

I don't actually have a funny story to tell today, I guess I'm just making the observation that funny things do happen. And I'm glad they do. I really like to laugh, and I just can't resist being drawn to the ridiculous and ironic happenings that make up our lives as human beings on this planet. I know God has a sense of humor, because He's generous enough to share that capacity with us, His creation. I do have to admit that I don't always find His sense of humor as funny as, say, my own, but it's growing on me as I get to know Him better and trust Him more.

All that said, I must reiterate that I have no funny story to tell today. Well, hang on, let's see...ok, there was this dog and he walked into a bar...nah.

I hope you guys are all having a great weekend, wherever you are. If you are where I am right now, it probably isn't totally great. It is probably a little stressful. And if you guessed that I am at work, well, TA-DA! You are completely RIGHT!!! Good work! If I had prizes to give away, I'd give you one, but I really don't, so I can't. Sorry.

Am I making any sense at all? I have a feeling I'm not, but I'm very tired, so I'm not sure. Is that funny?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Schizophrenic

Lately I have felt like I'm being torn in two; like deep inside me two people are fighting with each other over which one will be the one people see on the outside, and the one they do see right now isn't either of the fighting ones.

If that sounds crazy, it probably is. But please don't send the white coats yet.

I guess this is what Jesus meant when he talked about the struggles between light and darkness, and what Paul the apostle meant when he said our fight wasn't against flesh and blood, but against unseen spiritual forces. Believe me, I never quite know which side is going to win on any given day in my life. My soul is like the poor rope in a game of tug-o-war. Unfortunately, the stakes for this particular game are pretty high.

Sometimes I wish to God I wasn't a Christian. And if that sounds ironic, well, it probably is.

But life really would be so much easier if I left it all behind. I wouldn't agonize over decisions--is this God's will or isn't it? Is this going to please Him or not? Am I on the right track? IS there a right track? Is there a wrong one?

It's tempting, oh it is so tempting to just walk away. To start over with a blank, atheistic slate and just write my own story without any interference from God.

I walk close to the edge, but then...I feel the pull of the light as I lean over the gaping black hole opening up inside me and peer down into it. The light always draws me back. And when it does, I wonder how I ever contemplated jumping into the hole.

It's all Jesus' fault, really, the fact that I DON'T jump. If it weren't for him, I think I would have an easier time saying goodbye to God. And I don't say that with any sense of being pleased with myself; it's a sad commentary really. But the thing is, Jesus gave God a face. God can sometimes be so abstract, so "out there." Jesus brought him "down here." I look at Jesus and I go, "Oh. So THAT'S what God's about...loving the unloved, helping the poor, healing the sick, having compassion, and giving, giving, always giving. Who knew?"

Jesus makes me stick around. I love him. I can't explain it, I just do. Not particularly faithfully, I'm ashamed to say. Not with any great passion even, at times. But that is the one constant in my schizophrenic wanderings, is that I always seem to come back to Jesus and I realize I don't really want to go to anyone else, least of all myself.

Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

--John Donne, Holy Sonnet 14

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Climbing

Went hiking this morning with my brother, up in Ventura County. I'd been wanting for some time to tackle Mt. Bony. I know, it's a weird name. Well, it wasn't my idea. The name, I mean--the hike definitely was.

We started out at about 7:30am. The sun was out but it was cold in the shade. We weren't sure of the trail, and neither of us had a map, but we figured all we had to do was keep going up and we were bound to get there.

And get there we did, in only an hour and 45 minutes. The last 45 minutes was probably the toughest--a lot of scrambling over rocks and under and through tangled undergrowth. At one point I couldn't see my brother who was ahead of me on the trail, so he raised his walking stick high into the air as a guide to let me know where the trail was. For some reason I wanted to call him Gandalf at that point.

We finally got pretty much to the top where we broke out the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we'd brought. By that time I was so hungry that I think rocks might have tasted pretty good, but I was glad we'd brought the sandwiches. That was the best PB&J I've had in a long time.

We met some people along the way. Which was good because we met them just at the point where we thought we were lost and wouldn't be able to make it to the top. They set us straight. We left them behind, but they caught up to us later. One of them, an Asian man named Koe (I don't know how to spell it) caught up and then left US behind. This guy was amazing. He must have legs like iron. My brother and I followed after him awhile later, and got lost again. As we scouted around looking for a trail, we heard...a harmonica. We looked around, but couldn't see anyone at first. We began to make our way up again, since that was where the harmonica seemed to be coming from. Eventually we stumbled back onto the trail, and not long after that met Koe again, coming back down. He was pleased to see us, and surprised that we had heard him playing the harmonica. Yes indeed, he was our phantom musician! How he managed to have any breath left in him to play a wind instrument after blazing his way to the top of the peak was beyond me, and I was just a tad in awe. We said goodbye, and then he zoomed off down the trail. The guy must have had rockets in his shoes or something.

It took us another couple hours to get down the mountain, and by then I felt like my legs were fed up enough that they might just detach themselves from my body and lie down in the middle of the trail, refusing to go any farther. I wouldn't have blamed them in the least.

At noon we made it back to the car, exhausted but pretty pleased with ourselves for accomplishing what we had set out to do. It's always nice when that actually happens in life, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ponderings

Went for a run this morning. Well, ok, it was more like a walk, then a jog, then a near-collapse, then a walk again, an attempt at jogging, an asthma attack or two, and finally a triumphant run--which only happened because I'd finally reached the part of the trail that went downhill.

But it was a good way to start the morning, getting the blood flowing, feeling the muscles working, the lungs nearly exploding. Ahhh, exercise! Very much needed after yesterday's sitting on airplanes, in airports, and in airport food courts (mmmm, lukewarm Domino's Pizza for $2.00 a slice!).

I felt a little depressed on the flight from Denver to Los Angeles. Maybe it was because when I looked out the window at the night sky and saw the stars, I remembered that I can't see the Southern Cross from this hemisphere, and suddenly I missed New Zealand and all my friends there. Maybe it was because I'm missing a friend that I had to say goodbye to recently, with no knowing of when I'll be able to say hello again. Maybe it's because I'm turning 30 in a little over two months and I wish my life looked a little different then it does right now.

Or maybe it's because I was listening to a lot of Matchbox Twenty. That actually might have had a lot to do with it.

Anyway, the run this morning did me a lot of good, in spite of nearly killing me. Once I was able to breathe again, I felt quite cheerful and excited to be alive.

Now it's time to get ready for work. Have a great day, kids. Be good and I'll catch ya later.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Leaving Minnesota

So my time in Minnesota has nearly come to an end. My friend's wedding was great, and the reception was lots of fun. It was a little weird to go to a wedding where literally the only person I knew was the bride, but I made a lot of new friends, especially on the groom's side, which is cool because he is from England, so now if I ever want to visit the UK again (which I certainly do) I have lots of places to stay!

I didn't actually get to sightsee much here. I thought I might try and see the Mall of America tomorrow, just to say I've been there, but to be honest, my idea of a nice little day trip does not really encompass trekking all around a three-story testament to blatant consumerism, with an amusement park thrown in for good measure. So I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow before I have to catch my evening flight. I guess I'll just have to surprise myself.

One thing I have to mention about Minnesota is the way people drive. Very different from California, where you can pretty much take for granted that, on any given freeway (but especially I-5 from LA to SF), people will be going anywhere from 5 to 100 miles per hour over the speed limit. So you can imagine my consternation when I found myself, at 70mph, breezing past every car on the Minneapolis highways as if they were parked on the side of the road. I swear some people were actually going under the speed limit--which in some places is 55mph. Can you believe it?! At first I thought everyone was just old. But I was wrong.

Hey, many thanks to MB and Kenny for putting me up (or putting up with me?) for the weekend. Maybe I'll see you in California one of these days, in which case I'll be happy to return the favor.