The Problem of Giving

It was early afternoon on a college campus in the Western United States. Bright, sunny, and warm. I walked to the chain fast food sandwich shop on campus. I was in a good mood, generally, becauae I have no reason not to be and am at least smart enough it. I found out the day that I got an 82 on my management accounting midterm, which is a good outcome considering that I forgot my caluculator (who forgets their calculator when they know they’re about to take an accounting test?)

Anyway, I meet a man from Feed the Children while going there. I always end up listening to spiels from nonprofit volunteers. Do I seem like a giving person? Some kind of sucker? Of course, I’m kidding about the last part, hopefully.

The thing is, I actually would like to help children who need food. I believe that God calls us to provide for the basic needs of others. Because if they can’t even survive, how can they ever come to know Christ? But it just so happens that I have heard of scandal in the Feed the Children organization, it was a couple years ago and I think they’re doing better now, but that kind of thing does make you wary.

I would like to give, and I know that it’s right to give, but I always wonder how! I don’t want to give to the wrong people and have the money be wasted. I don’t think it’s something to be paranoid about, it just means that you must be vigilant. Also, I think it’s important to actually help people, beyond just having good intentions and taking some kind of action. The situation in Africa is a good example. A lot of people say that all the humanitarian aid that has been provided over the years has not reduced poverty.  I think I will be reading a book soon on this subject, called “Dead Aid.”

Well, I’ll be posting more on this topic in the time to come. But for now, God bless! Try not to do anything too crazy this Halloween!

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Gravity: A Movie Reviewed and A State of Mind

As you can glean from the title, I saw the movie Gravity today. Half the time I believe I was cringing or making very unattractive faces. It really “pulled me in” (pun not originally intended) because the acting was good, and the sense of tension and mortal terror that they were going for was achieved. I knew what was going to happen in the end, but I just couldn’t help wondering, questioning, feeling. I even got reasonably close to crying one time (and I actually don’t cry much in movies, even though I’m such a sap).

I thought it was funny how you could hear sounds when the things were crashing in space. It was not true to science, but I see why the director did it. Without the sound, something just would have been missing, because we as humans are so accustomed to sound.

And here’s the part where I, without shame, try to relate the movie I saw with my personal thoughts. Why am I such a girl? Can’t I just talk about an action movie without getting all weird?

Gravity. The laws of physics that we naively believe govern the natural world as independent entities that came about through their own means. The laws of society that can seem almost as strict.

I never really learned to use those things to my advantage. I am graceless, uncoordinated, awkward. Just today I picked up tennis again. To be fair to myself, I haven’t played in a long time. But I performed badly today, either hitting the net or hitting homers a solid portion of the time. Not that I was ever much of a pro, yet it’s the only sport that I have potential for being passable at. So I think I’ll give it a shot. Ugh, another pun.

I’ve never had good posture either. I just kind of let gravity do it’s thing to my body. Not to mention, I’m not exactly a walking embodiment of physical fitness either. I always feel like something is weighing me down, keeping me from getting in shape. I think it’s just a lack of willpower.

And with people. I want to be diplomatic, funny, and charming. But my own nervousness and fear of being dull, jerky, and uncomfortable holds me back. I let the pressure, the “gravity” hold me down instead of letting myself be grounded by it

When things aren’t going well, I like to think about heaven, an ideal world with beautiful views and no worries. I like to think that I’ll get there, Jesus will hand me a pina collada or something, and we’ll shoot the breeze in this perfect paradise with puffy clouds, islands and classical architecture. And then I’ll meet all the people who weren’t too fond of me in this life, the people that were too cool for me, the people who gave me charity, and everyone else, all the colors of the rainbow, and we’ll all hold hands and laugh together and dance around in the most beautiful harmony.

I think that my idea of heaven is a little distorted, but that’s okay. I guess I’ll just leave it up to God to decide what He likes. And it shouldn’t just be about the atmosphere there anyway, the most important thing about it is that we’re spending eternity with God. Chew on that. But what I should be focusing on now, is what I can do while I’m here on earth. And yes, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be here long, but that doesn’t mean that every second is not a gift, to be used in the best way possible. So maybe it would behoove me to try and be comfortable in my own skin, to get acclimated to this thing called gravity, and fine tune my skill at defying the norm (but in a way that is productive), while at the same time, learning to love the individuals that comprise this world that is both surprisingly orderly and excessively crazy.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Today was my third day of college. So far, I only have one casual acquaintance because he is my partner for a group project. It’s an interesting experience, commuting to college two days a week. You’re kind of anonymous when you’re there, just one among thousands with no little niche. It’s a good thing in a way, such a big environment. You get a lot of second chances because when you do something embarrassing (like I ALWAYS do), chances are the people who saw you doing it won’t see you again or remember. At least, I hope so. Like today, I had quite a few blunders. I accidentally opened an emergency exit and sounded a little alarm… In a library. My green tea latte spilled on the cup (which seems painfully trivial, but trust me, it was awkward). Oh, and I asked a really dumb question in accounting class, and couldn’t even play it off or make the professor catch my drift. I am convinced that after only 3 days of school, at least 2 of my professors are convinced that I’m some kind of idiot.

Every time I walk to class, I feel like I see the same sea of faces. Asian girls, maybe speaking Korean or Chinese or Californian, pretty girls on bicycles, cool guys on skateboards that whiz right by me at startling speeds, shy girls with their arms crossed, frat boys, artistic types, nerdy guys, short girls, groups of laughing, happy people, the occasional couple holding hands, girls wearing Greek shirts, blondes, Hispanics, African-Americans, Africans…

Most of the people I see, I know wouldn’t want to get to know me. But sometimes I see people with lost eyes, who don’t seem that different from me. If only I could stop them and say hi, say something, ask what their name is. But that is weird. So the current propels me forward, propels them in the opposite direction. We aligned in space, for a moment, but that was all. I know that they have their own life, and that I will likely never be part of their world. And as strange as it seems, the thought makes me sad.

Sometimes, I’m not that bad at walking, as opposed to standing. I feel weird standing sometimes. I can swing my arms and look straight ahead. I can walk fast too. I can look almost normal, like I’m just another girl who has her own life too, I can put on a brave face, a serious face, and pretend not to notice people, pretend that I don’t feel loneliness and apprehension. But I have a feeling that anyone who really pays any attention to me will see right through this thin facade, and the thought terrifies me.

Sometimes, I feel sorry for myself, and I weep when I am alone at night because I feel like my life is going no where, or that it’s just not moving fast enough to where I want to be. This happened to me last night. But then I told myself to get a grip, to stop being so ridiculous. I’m going to college, doing what I always wanted to do, getting a fresh start, not to mention I just recently had a book idea that I have a good feeling about. Not to mention, I have my family, who is always there for me. I got to thinking on the bright side, then reverted back, seesawed a few more times… And then, all alone, I started singing a worship song, all alone in my room to the stillness of the night. The stillness, that was really kind of like a churning. I know someone was listening, I know God heard me. I was afraid, the thought of the glory of God made me cower. It’s like in an old Disney movie, when someone says something like “oh, look, it’s blah, blah blah.” And then they’re like, “HOLY CRAP STICK, IT’S BLAH BLAH.” You know the corny little comedic technique. That’s how it is with me. Most of the time, I console myself with the thought that God is watching. And then, on rare occasions I’m like WAIT, GOD IS WATCHING… I’M NOT ACTUALLY ALONE! And then, that reminds me again what it’s really all about. It’s about God. It’s about God, it’s about God. That’s not something you can learn in a day. I have to remind myself all the time. It would be better if I reminded myself more. Better yet if I took action.

Sorry that this post has been so melodramatic and abstract. I’m in a weird mood now, in case you didn’t get that impression. Hopefully I’ll start making sense again soon.

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In Defense of Oldies Stations

It seems like people have been giving oldies stations a hard time almost as long as the songs they play have been around.
I’ve seen articles, sitcoms, and comedy routines poke fun at them for repeating the same songs over and over, which they are definitely guilty of. And yes, that can be very annoying. How many times does a person need to hear, “Can’t Hurry Love” or “I Got You Babe.” Do those sound familiar? They should.

People clamor for “new oldies.” I believe I heard that on the Simpsons once. But do you really want to hear new oldies? Let me tell you, I’ve heard that more obscure stuff on satellite radio. Sometimes you make an exciting new discovery or hear an underrated song. But a lot of the time, there’s a reason that those songs were shoved into oblivion. The reason is that SOME OF THEM JUST AREN’T VERY GOOD. They sound like bad acid trips, alley way stomps, or worst of all, disco barf. On the other side of the coin, there’s a reason that you hear the hits over and over. Because people liked those songs back in the day, and they like them now.

I grew up on oldies stations, and I just love them. I feel happy when I hear songs like, “Hey Jude,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Locomotion,” and many, many others. Sure, the obscure stuff interests me too, but I’ve had serious bonding moments over songs like “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Can’t Take my Eyes off You.” Also by Frankie Valli, “My Eyes Adored You” nearly made me get emotional the other day. I’m such a sucker for that crap. It’s funny how back in the day (generally), the music had more respect and reverence for women, even if society didn’t. And now everything is so disgusting, but we supposedly “respect women.” Well, that was a nice little segue-way.

On a lighter note, I saw a blurb on the news about a viral video of a guy who blasted “Build Me Up Buttercup” on a crowded LA freeway and got fellow commuters to sing along with him. I think that’s just beautiful. Well, you know, unless someone gets distracted and crashes. So maybe that’s not the best idea, unless you’re at a red light. Yes, what a good compromise. Consider that added to my bucket list.

Hope you enjoyed this rant.

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My Two Cents on Jane Austen’s Emma

Just finished this book, so the thoughts are fresh in my mind! This is the third book I’ve read by Austen, a very delightful one. The irony, the wit, the drama, all very charming. Yet it always depresses me to ponder the unhealthy obsession women have of being married, and how little they concealed that obsession from themselves in those days!

I don’t believe anyone has ever questioned Austen’s talent for crafting novels. They’re as good as romance novels with happy endings can be.

Everything works out and condenses into a nicely wrapped package, as is the convention, but at a rate and in a manner that is adequately realistic, averting the readers attention from the mechanism of Duex Ex Machina at work.

In Emma, the “insolence” of an “imprudent” match never suffers to shake up society. Though it is talked of, no one ever marries anyone where an overwhelming disparity is considered (Jane and Frank tie the knot, but only after a very convenient death, of course). The societal lines are drawn, and they serve their purpose. Everyone stays in their little place, for the most part. True love finds it’s way into the lives of the Highbury residents with a degree of grace and good breeding. Honor and family pride remain intact. Love does not choose to cause embarrassment when all is over with, once the misunderstandings are cleared and the characters reconcile with one another.

And of course, why should it be any other way? I’m not saying that these are real faults in Austen’s style. No, her novels have stood the test of time for a reason. I’m not really sure what I’m saying. I seriously doubt I could write a better romance novel. And shaking up society really was a big deal in those days.

Take-away from this post: shake up society! Please do. Write something revolutionary! Keeping characters in boxes is a great strategy, but what is literature without variety?

 

 

A Day at the Getty

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I can look at paintings all day long… and I pretty much did. I love to just get transported by them, entering a new realm, forgetting where I am and who I am. The one up above is of the Sermon on the Mount. Sorry, I didn’t have time to jot down all the titles and names of the artists. I especially liked the religious ones, even if they tended to put an unhealthy emphasis on the Virgin Mary. But at least it seemed that people were trying to glorify God with their art. More than can be said for the movies and television we see today. Image

 

I really liked a lot of the more medieval panel paintings. One so seldom hears about European art from before the Renaissance (and there is a reason), but I don’t think they should be completely overlooked. They’re so ornate and often quite whimsical. You always think of older things being conservative, but not always. 

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I believe that this one was done by Titian (I was really excited to see one by a very famous artist) but correct me if I am mistaken . Yes, now we are into the mannerism movement (right?)

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And look, a wood cutting, a style made famous by Albrecht Dürer (but this one was not done by Albrecht). I believe the title is, “A Hare in the Woods.”

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The food at the restaurant was quite fancy, all French style or something. My salad was quite satisfying. I wish I had pictures of all the dishes there, they were so pretty to look at! Never seen anything like it.

Well, I hope this has been cultural. It’s really cool looking at art, because you see things that are both vastly different and strikingly familiar. You see emotions that you know all to well yourself, and you see that people really haven’t changed as much as you might think. You can even argue that they haven’t changed at all.

You should visit this place too! Thanks J. Paul Getty.

 

Best Combo Ever… Hypocrisy, Self Loathing, and Fine Art

Today was a bit of a roller coaster. I will probably be doing another post about it tomorrow, when I upload my pics from the Getty Museum (which was great, by the way). But for just now I would like to talk about something a bit more personal, like I always end up doing.

I was kind of in a bad mood this morning, no particular reason, and it only got worse because one of my party was complaining about things, and it annoyed me. As far as I was concerned, the food was alright and the architecture was nice and the garden was pretty… SO SHUT UP AND HAVE A GOOD TIME! Yes, I realize the irony.

But then I was in a better mood when we started looking at the paintings. And then it went south again. I’ll skip some of the trifling details and set the scene for the more interesting part. O is trying to get a picture of me by this really fancy bed on display. Mind you, I don’t like having my picture taken when a lot of people around, so I was feeling more awkward than usual. But it was a nice bed. No kidding, it’s blue and frilly, and it goes up like 15 feet or something. Two girls are getting out of the way, and they say “sorry.” And what do I say? I say, “it’s good.” And I said it all quiet and mousy because I decided on what to say as I was saying it. And then I’m pretty sure I heard one of the girls repeat what I said as they were walking out. As if I couldn’t hear. So they’re in the next room, laughing and stuff about whatever, and I feel like crap. Because I guess I hate being mocked. And now I’m more insecure than ever because apparently I’m so bizarre that strangers have to make fun of me.

Here are the three take aways from this experience, because I feel obligated to make logical conclusions in the form of a numbered list from one of my many days spent indulging in my own nonsense:

1. I have self esteem issues… But that’s a given.
2. Who am I to get all mad at other people who complain when I am so petty myself? I mean really, why am I letting other people determine my self worth?
3. Words can hurt, and I’d better be careful with them. I need to stop scoffing. Otherwise I’ll hurt someone just like I was hurt today