Thursday, January 31, 2008

To whatever end.

So, I haven't posted a lot other than random writing recently.

School has been kinda busy, I've been bouncing around between a number of different projects recently, and haven't exactly felt like posting about work. I've been slowly getting things done, but not as many as I would like. That's OK. It's cold here, but it is slowly warming up. Tuesday, I went and played Ultimate at the Embassy, which was much fun, my team won and I thought I played pretty well. It was also very nice, I had a hat and gloves on, but I played in just a long-sleeve t-shirt and pants. Work went fine on Wednesday, even though some things frustrated me.

Wednesday and today have been nice, relaxing days. I played games and talked with friends most of last night, then after doing a little bit of work this morning, I had breakfast and played games with friends. We sort of goofed off for part of the rest of the morning, then we decided we were going to get a book out of the school library, and read it aloud together. So we settled on C.S.L.'s space trilogy, and started reading it. We had lunch, read some more, then worked on our various and sundry job-related stuff (they did teacher stuff, I did tech stuff) for most of the rest of the afternoon. We had the science teacher's 6 year old son hang out with us after he had to deliver something to one of us. That was nice fun, and his folks were OK with him hanging out with us for a couple hours, for some reason. Then, we went out for supper, the whole school staff. Since we haven't been allowed to go out recently, that was fun. Now, I'm back here, posting about what I've been up to recently.

We were talking last night about a couple different things, and I've been thinking about some of them more. One thing I keep wondering about is, was my decision to come here and then to stay here the right decision to make? I would like to know, oh, how I would like to know. All I can do now is have faith that I am here for a reason, and that even though I can't see it, I will follow to whatever end.

Who holds our dreams?

I remember I'll soon be...

I used to have a little dinosaur in my room. This dinosaur stored change, and I rarely opened the bottom to remove its meager gains. (I used to be a small child, without the means or necessity to accumulate change very fast.) As a child, I used the dinosaur, in conjunction with the miniature Godzilla my uncle brought back from Japan for me, to terrorize the Hot Wheels on my neato i-board. The dinosaur provided both enjoyment and a sense of fiduciary responsibility.

When I was an older child, I acquired a lemur, a gift from my sister after a visit to the Memphis Zoo. Since then, the lemur has been a constant friend, present in a spot where I regularly see it, like in front of my computer or on the ledge by my bed. It, and my flying squirrel, have been fairly faithful in being there when I need them to relax or rewind.

This is an interesting phenomenon, I find. I've abandoned the hard plastic solidity of reptiles and the cold metal assurances of loose change for the soft comfort of the stuffed lemur and squirrel. But I like this.

Even better is that I have traded the black and white reassurances of my childhood for the more full understanding of the comfort and knowledge that I have received since. For it isn't found in the fire, nor in the wind.

And I remember I'll soon be...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Forensic aprobation

There was this little sticky mollusk near my office window the other day. The mollusk couldn't find a handhold for his rapidly reclining shell, so I decided that I would help him out a little, and find the closest one for him.

"Why thank you," the mollusk said, "That was so very kind of you. I had no other option but to fall."

"I understand that," I replied cautiously, "which is why I decided to help you out."

"But I wonder," the mollusk continued, as though I had not spoken, "Would your response have been similar if I had been an apricot instead of a mollusk?"

"Well," I began to answer, when the mollusk rudely interrupted me.

"Because I have this feeling that you do actually care for apricots, and so would not have seen the value of the apricot as equal to the value of a mollusk, and as such would not have saved it. Am I right?"

"Apricots don't climb walls. Or have hand holds for their shells. So if there would have been an apricot on the wall, I would have been rather distressed." I thought this was all very logical.

"Dude. I'm a mollusk. In the middle of winter. Outside your office window. What are you standing on?"

Suddenly, I realized that the whole story was just a set up for one of those awful cartoon scenes where the main character flails their arms and legs off of the cliff before plummeting to the earth.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Reflections and Rayleigh Scattering

OK, I usually try not to blog before work, but I just have to today.

I woke up this morning around 5:30 to the beautiful sight of a waning moon shining a dull orange into my room, right on my bed. It was amazing, made me kind of glad I don't have curtains yet. I just laid and watched it for 15 minutes, and marveled at the work. Then, as I was doing my morning rounds, I looked up into the clear sky, just starting to blue from the Rayleigh scattering, to see my friend Luna again, his whiteness spotted with age.

Ain't it something to know we're lost, and have no guidance to make it on our own?

No misconception for the last

And to wit, a thought has been growing in my mind recently. Many thoughts do this, grow, take hold for a short time, and then fall away. I have no confidence that this thought will ultimately be any different. Nonetheless.

There are many things that I fear. Many things that I wish to never experience. I keep thinking of the words recorded by the one who was known by who loved him, said by the One who loved him, in fftn thrtn. And the thought grows that these words do not just refer to my life or my death, but by my actions as well. We spoke tonight in our study about community, and what we do to build it and what hinders us from doing it. I know that my personality is one that does not require large community, just a few close friends. And yet, one of the things that draws people into our Community is the way we interact with and love each other and those outside of us. I don't do that well. I need to do it better.

So, I'm going to try to start. I'm going to try to learn the name of at least one of our guards every week and greet them by name when I see them. I'm going to try to show my friends here that I do really care about them, not just by doing things for them (which is my natural mode), but by genuinely showing interest in them if I can. I need to be a genuine expression of light and love to the people around me, I need to set aside my own life for the sake of the Life that matters.

Now, I say I'm going to try. Will I succeed? Not if I try to do it myself. Not if I try to do it alone. I have a help in this, in that the guys in our own little Community here at school are committed to building the community as we can. I have a greater help as I try to sleepwalk through this, and he will never falter.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My hollow completion won't get me in.

Well, the final test day was a success. It was cold, it was long, it was during school, but except for one unregistered examinee, it went smooth. That was nice. The rest of the day was fine. I worked out again, which makes me feel better. I hung out with my friends, which I enjoy. I sought, and was answered, which reinforces my peace. It was easy to be joyful today. It may not be tomorrow, but I shall try to make the choice to do it anyway.

I know I have been a little bit of a rambler recently, and so I won't ramble. I have this thought that has been kicking around in my head recently, but I'll wait until tomorrow or later to present it to you, then maybe it will be more fully formed.

Security is a more growing concern here, and for one of my friends in particular in his role here. If you would remember him, I would appreciate it. There are many things occurring that cause him stress. It can be difficult for all of us to remember that His favor is a shield.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

And as vast as the sky is...

sheesh, I post stories and poems, and no one says anything??? Are they that bad?

When I woke up this morning, I decided I was going to be joyful.

You know, the days I decide that... sometimes those are the hardest days to carry through on it. We had city power all night, but then the generator for my building (and two other class buildings) wouldn't start. And I got to be the one to discover that at 6:45. And make the semi-executive decision to do what it took to get it started. Then unprepared, stand out in car line so our national staff could get some classroom's heaters going, because they were frozen. So I got very cold standing out without a hat or real gloves. Then, I didn't have much I could do until 11:00 AM when it finally got started. That was frustrating. Then, the whole rest of the day was off. But I got to do carline, which I almost always enjoy. And work out.

Tomorrow may be rough as it is internet-based-language-test day, and we have to do it during school. But I'll decide to be joyful tomorrow morning, too.

I have come to a developing conclusion that I am the most responsible for my own attitude. See, I think happiness is an emotion, but joy is a state. And emotions... well, they come, they go, they are high, low. Can't always exactly control them. But our state, well, that we can control. I can choose to be joyful regardless of my circumstances. I can choose to let my emotions get the better of me, I can choose to let the things that I feel rule me and be in a state of constant turmoil, or I can make the conscious choice to be joyful, peaceful, and content. When I make that choice, how I feel doesn't matter. What I see becomes not the immediate rocks in front of my feet, but rather that which is on the hills.

I am thankful in every Remembrance of you.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Open Skies and the Crimson Seas

I'm sitting here in my office, doing a little bit of work before lunch. It's so cold, I have the propane heater going full blast, it's been going for about 30 minutes, and I can still blow directly at it from 18 inches away, and see my breath. Anyway, I came up with this story/poem/thing, and had to share it.

Rashid was a mariner
forswearing the land
in hope of the ocean

Rashid was a mariner
slowly catching seas
beneath his new keel

Rashid was a mariner
finding the far gale
so to propel the men

Rashid was a mariner
rocked gently in bed
but waves all around

Rashid was a mariner
never to drown alone
a crimson sea is his

Even though the skies are cold, and the land seems dark, the sunlight brings warmth and comfort to all. One day, this will fall away, and the first will be nothing compared to the sequel.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Aphorism to convey what's been going on. No words. I don't deserve anything that I have been given.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


The forethought that went into the simple action of pressing one button... the mind quails to consider it.

The voice of the new moon called out to Michael, simple and quiet. As it passed overhead, pace sedately reflecting Michael's approach, he considered how his thirty two years planetbound on Earth trained him to think of the moon as new and old, when it was really just tricks of perspective, the position of the moon relative to the sun. Soon, he would be planetbound again after five years on the ship. The new moon beckoned him to enjoy her pale warmth, the gaunt reflection of things to come. After living with artificial lighting, video terminal displays, and for two seconds, a bright fire, for over one hundred and fifty million seconds, the natural sun would feel good upon his skin.

A blade of polished obsidian came up beside Michael's shuttle, a cutter to guide the ship into its docking station. It fastened itself to the ship, then began gently firing attitude control bursts. Michael felt the shuttle shudder slightly as he got up from the chair to go back to the galley to make himself some supper. The docking would take another fourteen hours, a small time in the scheme of things, yet he knew it would feel unbearably long. Then, another two week gravity reacclimation process, and he would be allowed to return to the ground of his birth.

As he ate a gloriously tender steak, Michael's thoughts wandered far and wide. He had spent his time before the main, serving as a zero-g plumbing expert on the Oort Runner Landmark Mountain. The massive solar sails that had powered the Landmark on the way out had required constant maintenance, along with the life support plumbing. And Michael Coady had done it all, for five years. He had put up with his nominal supervisor, a wet behind the ears Fluid Dynamics PhD, who had spent six months belittling the six years that Michael had spent at a Lagrange habitat as "easier than the challenge our moving environment provides," until Michael had figured out how to reroute hydraulic fluid for the sail around a micrometeor impact, while the PhD was calculating acceptable levels of lubricant loss. He had put up with the cramped quarters that he lived in, the snoring bunkmate, the partially rehydrated food. The separation. Now, it was soon to be done.

Michael went to bed that night with the new moon waxing brighter overhead. He had spent more than he should have on a private cabin on the shuttle back, but the moonport had made the expense worth it. He just didn't feel quite ready yet to interact with the world at large. To sit next to some overweight business man from trans-martian space and listen to him pontificate about the Emergency didn't seem to Michael to be the best way to reintroduce himself to society.

He awoke to the increasing sound of the alarm clock. In the weak gravity, he pushed himself up and began the process of waking up. After his breakfast, he began to collect his few belongings from where they had scattered during the night. The ship was to dock in three hours, and he wanted to have all his paperwork cleared so he could just walk off the ship, to the grav clinic, and then to home. The hours and days leading up to the return would be long, but they held the delicious taste of anticipation.

Inside the grav clinic, Michael's muscles and joints were slowly rehabilitated into something that would be able to function on Earth. He would never be able to run a marathon or play rugby, but he would be able to walk and move about fairly well. It was a small price to pay for his salary for giving five years of his life away. It was a small price to pay for the time that he had spent on the ship. Before he had left, he had been told that this experience would change him, would turn him into someone else. In the grav clinic, as he laid reading hard copy books for the first time in nearly twelve years, he began to formulate an opinion on what he had learned while he was before the main.

He had left thinking it was about earning his redemption. That it was about starting to make payments for the one thing that he couldn't accept happening. That thought had followed him for the two years that they were on the way out. When they got to mining station and had began to fill the emptied hold of the ship, his thoughts started to change. As he saw the deposits of rare and precious minerals began to accumulate, he had known what the difference was between why he had come and why he had been led.

His two weeks were over. He went down the old way, like a rock, ceramic heat shield protecting the cargo and passengers from the inferno of reentry. He had the money to take a plane down, the safe way. But he wanted to feel the tension, the suspense of being out of control. Michael Coady was coming home from space, and he wanted to do it in style.

They made it just fine. He took a day in the groundside hospital, making sure there were no ill effects of his reintroduction to gravity. He did feel weighed down, and he tripped on stairs more than he would have liked. Still, he just couldn't stay in the hospital anymore. And so, Michael checked out of the hospital. He walked to a nearby park as dusk fell, and stood in the outfield of an unoccupied softball diamond. There he stood for a few hours, soaking in the moonlight as it coolly graced him. He thought about what was to come.

The cool of night came on, prompting him to move. Michael made his way to the nearest boulevard and hired a simple cab to take him to his destination. On the way, he spoke to the driver about the area, about how it might have changed since the last time Michael had visited. The driver had spent a term on a wet navy ship, and they compared notes about how their two environments were the same and different. It made the time pass by just a little faster. Finally, the cab arrived, and as Michael slowly got out, the driver pulled his simple bag out of the back and set it down next to him. The driver extended his hand to Michael, and said, "Proud to have met you, sir." Michael took his hand in as firm a grip as he could manage. As the car drove away, Michael looked down at his bag. For the first time, he was amazed that he had managed to live from that little for so long.

Now that the moment was finally here, Michael couldn't bring himself to move. But he couldn't put it off any longer. Slowly, he made his way to the door. There was a simple button beside it. Michael lifted his finger to it, and paused. It came rushing back to him. The day he had left, he had sought redemption. He had sought to repay his debts. Somewhere in the vast infinity of open space, the need to repay had fallen away. It had been for redemption, but he had seen that it could not be gained just by seeking it.

Slowly, his arm extended, and he heard the faint tone from inside. He held his breath... and smiled at the words that came from inside.

They say write what you know. I don't know if that's good advice here. This is one of the most deeply personal stories I have written in a long time, and I don't know if I have the proper perspective or separation to handle it right. The story, in various forms, has been kicking around for a month or so. I was missing the element of the moon until recently, and I also didn't know what was said to Michael at the end of the piece. I added the moon in today. I decided not to tell you what was said, to seal it up with me. Maybe you get the parallel?

I also know most of the orbital science and physical description of the travel is probably wrong. I'm not an astrophysicist, and it doesn't really matter to the story.

A servant's heart and a tongue to obey.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Would You still take me?

I want to post, but there really isn't anything here other than what I feel. And what I feel doesn't make for interesting reading. I guess because I am who I am, I post anyway.

Today was hectic. I felt like I kept bouncing around all morning, then had an hour or so reprieve, then bounced around more. Because my apartment is only heated when I fire up the stove, and I don't want to fire up the stove if I'm not going to be there for less than about two hours, I have no real desire to go to my apartment. So I stay in my office until supper. And of course I have stuff to do, but sometimes, I don't want to do any more. I guess I could go work out, but there are other people that work out before supper, and I would rather work out alone. I guess I need to just stop whining.

I was going to call home tonight, but then I let someone else borrow my phone because they said Skype wasn't working, and I have lots of phone units because of whose phone I got at the end of the semester.

We had our team meeting tonight, and it was a really great time until the end, when we broke into little groups to Talk about the things we are afraid of. I don't want to talk about that with other people. I... more than anything else, I fear hearing, "Depart from me." And... I don't know what I should do. I know I need to accept what has been given to me, without condition or string. I know I need to give back, not in an attempt to repay, but as an expression of love. I don't know how to do that.

Don't I wish that I was stronger? I wish that I could stand here and tell you that just because I struggle, doesn't mean that I feel like I don't have answers. But I don't. Somehow, I need to obey this idea that I don't even understand, I need to follow this path that I can't see the end of. I want to have strength so that I can shine to those around me, but some days, I can't even see to the end of my arm.

All I want to give gets caught between every rib. What does that make me?

What does that make me?

Monday, January 21, 2008


I have good intentions, but no exit for them to come out right through.

I spend my days in pursuit of that which decays. I have to refocus.

I'm really tired, and should be going to bed, but I just have to say that I'm everyday amazed that I can be in this place, that I can be a part of the fellowship here, that I can have the friendships that I have here. Nothing in my life has led me to deserve this, and nothing could I have done to earn it. I wish to be worthy of those around me, but I know that this doesn't happen through my own agency.

Oh, that I would desire none other than that agency, in all that I do, in all that I say. In everything, that He would be first.

Taking a look recently, I've got to do better. I can't do it just by myself. I must dedicate my life to the Love without which I am nothing.

I choose to be joyful, even though I'm tired. I choose to be peaceful and content, even though I don't see all the paths that I wish I could. I choose to sing and Talk, Read, and grow even though it feels hard now. I choose to lose.

The deep blue sea.

I'm more than a little grumpy today, and I'm trying to let it go, but I can't, and I think maybe complaining about it here might help. Also, since maybe two people from Kabul read my blog, and they are probably the people I would complain to, I figure I can complain here just the same.

We have a new staff person. This person called me at 11:08 last night because they were locked into their school building. First off, I don't think anyone, even if they are new, should be in their office until 11:08. Second, I had been in sleepland for an hour or so, and then I couldn't truly go back to sleep. So I had another night of not terrific dreams, combined with laying awake thinking. Unfortunately, I'm just not in the best mood today. I shouldn't even be blogging in the middle of the day, but I think maybe this will make me feel better. We'll see.

Good news is that Student Activities started this week, and we're playing basketball today. Should be fun.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

In between who I want to be and who I am

Well. As a holiday, yesterday was nice. After my last blog entry, we had a snowball fight, which was slightly complicated by the fact that the snow wasn't the best for packing. We had about 12 of us out there, and had a blast. Afterwards, a couple of us went over to our nice, snow-packed soccer/volleyball court and played small-field Ultimate Frisbee, which was fun. I had skipped Frisbee the day before because of the holiday situation, midweek Frisbee had gotten cancelled, and I couldn't get a driver for the week before. So getting to play was enjoyable. Our science teacher's 5-year old son played with us, for a 5 year old, he can throw the Frisbee pretty well. Then we did order out (it took a couple different calls to different restaurants before we could find one to deliver to us), and had a big little dinner. Then we had a little birthday celebration for a couple folks whose birthdays fell during the break. It made me glad that I deleted my birth date off of the server list, so now no one will know when it is, and I won't have to deal with a silly celebration. Maybe that's a flaw in my personality, and I... no, wait, that is a personality flaw that I've been working on for the past couple years, sometimes more unsuccessfully than others, that I don't take compliments or things of that nature well. Don't really know why, don't want to throw myself into another introspective funk while I try to figure out why. Wow, that wandered from a discussion of my activities. Sorry.

I brought back more music with me, discs that I had never ripped, lots of older stuff. I'm finding that there was about a two-three-four year period that I was really, really into heavy, hardcore, 'evil-devil-music' type of stuff. And that was mostly what I brought over. And I have less enjoyment out of that than I did then. So I brought back some older cds, discs that I really dug when I was 12, 14, 16. Maybe it's just an oldie phase, maybe that it's just that I'm mellowing a little here and don't need 'angry' music as an outlet, maybe I'm just a neophiliac (hey, I thought that might be a neologism, but the spell-checker recognizes it...) and since I didn't get lots of new music, this is a way to get new-old-music. Anyway, I'm really digging the last O.C. STones album, more than I recall liking it previously.

My good buddy jetlag, which I thought I had banished to the hinterlands of next trip, he came back. I think part of the problem is that I went to bed at 9:30. See, in my new apartment, I'm the only person who lives in that building, since I have a generator 'all to myself' I'm pretty much in charge of turning it on and off in the evenings. (Well, it gets turned off at a certain time, period) Because I'm essentially a weird person, I don't like to turn it and spend fuel and have lights and to charge my computer for a half hour or so. This leads me to write, e-mail or surf for a while on the omni wireless signal, but because I have had nothing heating the room all day and therefore more comfortable under the covers, I just end up going to bed. So I go to bed early, I wake up at weird times, like 12:19 A.M. Furthermore, this morning, I got some sleep after that, but broken up, dream-filled, and fitful. So in terms of being tired, I'm more tired today that if I had just had 4 hours sleep and then laid awake in bed. I really wish I had laid in bed awake instead of this fitful dreaming. The dreams were that bad, which always happens in those kind of situations where I wake up and then nap for a while.

I got my luggage today. I am kinda happy about it, but also fairly indifferent to most of it. I had about resigned myself to not getting it, which would have been frustrating but OK. Except for the presents and stuff for other people. Loosing that would have disappointed me. But the rest of the stuff? The clothes, the junk food, the random stuff? I didn't need it. As I was thinking when I was packing and moving out twice in two weeks over break, I have all this stuff I don't really need. I'm mobile, (fr)agile, do I really need another X pounds of stuff? At least a good bit of it is consumable. And for other people. And the stuff that was for other people, they were really happy to get. I'm... happy to be able to give to people. I really need to work on receiving from people. I just get uncomfortable when people thank me profusely. I think I'm too self-centered, and I just see myself in relation to them and I think about everything else that goes on in my life and in my head, and I think about how I don't deserve any thanks, praise, compliments. Getting deep again, starting on a different track.

I have this theme that I have been thinking about or writing about a decent amount recently, and it's something I don't understand. So I'm going to write about it here, because sometimes when I have to put my thoughts out for public consumption, I think of them in different ways and I start to understand more.

Yesterday during staff meeting, we spent a couple minutes having a group discussion on our reasons for being here. And I really don't understand why I'm here, or what it is I'm supposed to do here. Oh, I mean, I know what my job is, but I don't see the reasons that I stayed, and the purpose for my being here. I can see my somewhat selfish reasons, I can see my hopes for what I want, but I don't really understand any of it. There are things about my life that I am trying to figure out, and I'm really working hard on Talking about, on being honest, on being open and trying to talk about them and to talk to others to get advice on them. I feel like I'm not making real progress most days, as my thoughts about these things oscillate rapidly. Other days, I 'find' I've got things straight, only to 'find' that that's not the way. I know I'm not Dependent enough yet to have real answers, which frustrates me, but also challenges me to grow.
And a weird part of that growth is that some of my friends are doing what I find it uncomfortable and difficult to have happen. They're telling me about their problems. They're asking me for advice, in some cases with the very same things that I'm struggling to understand, in other cases with situations that I have no frame of reference to be able to help them with. It's a challenging, humbling thing. It's an area I need to grow in, but it's hard for me (which is why I get the opportunity, I guess). When my friends are hurting, I want to do more than just give them some words, I want to do more than say, "I don't know why this is happening, but don't Forget in this time." I want to really encourage, I want to say the magic words that will help them forget their pain and focus on what lies ahead and above. I don't have those words. I try to turn to the one who does, and maybe I have given some help, maybe not. I don't think I'll ever really know. Maybe that's part of one reason why I'm here. Because I don't have the words, because I don't have the full ability to encourage, and because all I can do is say, "Don't Forget." Because I need to grow, and this is preparation for something in the future. I think me being here is as much about me growing as it is about me doing anything. I think I needed to be here because I was getting in the way of my own real growth where I was once. I think I needed to come here to be here for at least one other person at a particular time.

I was looking back last night and tonight at a lot of my old writings. I wonder sometimes at who I was once. I see things that I need to begin concentrating on more, namely the Walk. Taking out the things that are in the way because I put them there, and focusing on the things that have been Given to me.

Last night, it was clear and cold out. I went out on my balcony for a few minutes (all I could stand in the cold.) It was beautiful. There was this ever so slight breath of the earth, like a gentle caress on my cheek. After an initial fit of... loneliness, instead, I took the opportunity to focus on the vastness of the sky above me, on the size of me in the midst of that. As I stood there, I could almost see the banner of the Lion on the breeze. I wish I could see it every day. The hills were covered in snow, and the sunlight bouncing off the moon onto their frozen faces made them just barely visible. I think I will go out again tonight, and lift my eyes up to the hills.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The race we run is a marathon.

Holiday here, so no school. I've done some work, we had a staff meeting, I got my hair cut, and I'm taking a few minutes out of some other work to blog. And we're going to have a snowball fight later today. We manage to enjoy ourselves, even during the bitter cold.

And it is cold here. But I'm surviving fine, and I have the warm weather to look forward to. I'll probably get my luggage, hopefully intact, tomorrow. Since it was a holiday, we didn't have cooking staff here today, and so there's a big pile of dishes that I may go attack later, because I'm me. Some of us are going to try to order out for supper, since we can't go out because of the holiday. Not sure if they are going to deliver or not, but maybe...

There is a difference between how I used to be, and how I find myself now: I'm not here to stay, my friends and I don't mind. Think about the vastness ahead of us, and I shrink away. But I know that this place is not my real home. I'm not here to stay.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Breakthrough the pyrite

As I readjust to life in Kabul, I have lots of observations to share with you.

- It's far colder here now than when I left. Even though I have the towering inferno in my room, it's still cold often, especially because I don't want to fire up the stove if I'm not going to be in my room for less than two hours. I made it through the end of last semester only using the gas heater in my office two days, and other random times for long enough to warm the room back up. I've already ran out the bottle in less than a week of being back by running all three panels for all day. I need to rig up a heated keyboard somehow...

- Since it's colder, it makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning some days. I have my regular morning activities (showering is now included, since my hot water heater is fixed, and I no longer have to worry about hypothermia), and I've added turning on heaters for a couple people, so their classrooms are semi-warm when the kids come in. The third graders let me a neat note this morning that I have hanging on my wall now.

- Life doesn't stay the same. Because of the cold, staff departures, staff arrivals, my moving, and other stuff, life feels subtly different after the break from where it did before the break. That's taken a little realization, that how I thought things were before break aren't how they stay forever. But you know what? That's OK.

- Me and my good buddy jetlag are about to say goodbye to each other for a while, I think. I did only get 4ish hours last night, but after I woke up at 2:30, I dozed some for the next three hours. Which I hadn't done yet, and gives me hope that my jetlag is about done. I can go on low sleep for a while, but eventually there comes a point when I can't, which shouldn't hit for another two weeks, by which time jet lag should be history.

- Having my good buddy around has given me plenty of time to think in the past couple days, like I mentioned in an earlier post. This isn't always the best situation for me, because my brain runs and runs and runs and runs. Yesterday morning, it was going miles a minute, all my worries, my insecurities, my lack of faith and trust, all these things taking their own turn at assailing my mind, making me wonder why I thought I could come back, pointing out my lack of ability to do the things I am supposed to, pitting my self-doubt against my critical nature. Making me doubt if I came back for the right reasons. This had been going for days... but yesterday morning, I stopped it for a while. I started Talking instead of thinking. I Talked about my struggles, about the things I don't understand. I Talked about things my friends had asked me to. I Talked about the things that I have seen Done in me in the last few months. And I had another little breakthrough of sorts. I saw that by taking my focus away from myself, I began to see myself in a more proper context. I felt that the things I am being taught now aren't about skills, aren't about what I can or can't do, but rather about having faith in what is Planned. That I'm not here to do this or that, to make plans, or to have all wisdom and knowledge. I'm here to Follow, I'm here to obey even when I can't understand. I'm here to be Used, in spite of mine own failings. I'm here because I took one step when I was told to Go. I'm here for reasons I'll never see. I like to see and know, and it seems like every few days, months, weeks, hours, I have to relearn the lesson that I don't get to know everything when I would like to, and I have to Trust. Wish I could learn it once and for all, but I'm grateful that He chooses to still give me the reminders I need and the strength to persevere.

- If you read the news, you know that some bad stuff has happened around here the past couple days. The last one was the most sobering reminder yet of the situation around us. I could grow extremely concerned about myself and my safety easily. While I do think about it sometimes, and while I do try to be careful, I know my life is in Hands not mine own, and everything happens according to the Will of the One who loves me and holds my life.

- I still don't have my luggage. I want it, and I guess I'll get it someday, but if I don't... that's life. I want the material possessions in there, but if I don't get them, I won't cry. I will miss getting my running shoes... my rolos... my books... the presents for people... the presents especially. Oh well. Such is life.

- I have terrific friends here.

- I have a neat thank you card from the Third Graders on my wall, and that is really cool.

- I have to start work now.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The bodies that we still war against.

I and the towering inferno are a comfortable pair. He burns well, I feed his gaping red maw on a semi-regular basis, and are rewarded with good heat. I need to slow down on the amount of wood I burn, and let it be a little colder, but it's been truly nice so far.

School started back up today, and it was nice to see the kids again. I didn't have the best day, I woke up at 2:00 A.M. this morning, became unreasonably crabby when I had to walk across campus at 6:00 A.M. to get a hot shower, and since the power had just come on, only got three minutes of hot water. But I feel clean, so that's a plus. I just washed my hair the past couple days, since my water heater isn't working, and I think if I took a full shower, I'd get hypothermia. I feel kind of guilty complaining about not having a hot shower, when there are plenty of people here who don't even have the money for wood or gas to keep warm. I have power, internet, good food, clean water, a job, the ability to go to America...

So sometimes, in the middle of the day, I need to take a couple minutes out to gain perspective on things. Yeah, the stupid copier is jamming every fifteen minutes. Yeah, I'm not quite sure what I need to prioritize to work on next. Yeah, my luggage isn't here yet. But so what? I have more than I need. There are worse problems than a jammed copier.

Part of the issue with jetlag coming here for me is that I wake up at ridiculous times, and then can't go back to sleep. And so I have lots of time to think about things, just laying in bed. And you're not fully coherent or conscious at those times. Since I've had over ten hours to do that in the last couple days, I've thought a lot of not exactly coherent thoughts, thoughts about a lot of things. I'm anxious and uncertain about a lot of things going on, things I don't know, see, or understand. Combine the anxiety with lying awake thinking, and just the weariness of jetlag, this is a recipe for my tired depression. Today was just long, and then after work I went back to my room and was moping around. I started to Read, and was reminded of where strength for today really comes from, and where my cares really should go. So I took some time to try to place them there. And that helped. Not that it fixes everything with me instantly, that it gives me guidance in all these situations that I am trying to chart a course through, but the release of worry gives a sense of freedom. And casting away my anxieties doesn't mean that the problem disappears, but that I am having faith and trusting that I am not the one who has to take care of everything. Someone else is already taking care of me.

So, for now, I put my life in not mine own hands. I could have sunk myself, except for the winds of grace in my sails.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wolf am I (Where is the still life?)

I did not get my luggage yesterday. I am more irritated about that than I should be. I don't actually *need* any of the stuff in the luggage, it's just all stuff I want, and some stuff for other people, and some stuff I paid good money for. So I guess I'm not as disconnected from materialism as I wish I was.

My battle with jetlag continues. I woke up yesterday at 2:30 A.M after going to bed at 8:00 P.M.ish, so six hours, not bad. I had been up for about 48-50 hours with only about an hour or two of sleep, so I was tired and fairly pleased with my amount of sleep. It's aggravating to lay in bed for a long time, but that's ok. However, last night I went to bed at 9:30 p.m., and I woke up at 1:30. And could not return to sleep. So today, I'm semi-coherent and semi-crabby.

One thing I've realized over this break is that I'm semi-compartmentalized in my life, or put another way, I adjust fast to differing circumstances. Being in the states was just, "Boom, I'm back" and no adjustment seemed necessary. Here, it's sort of the same thing, I feel like I'm here, and I'm ready for life to be semi-normal again.

Normalcy is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.

Mark me with fire and send me

Ok, so I'm tired, jetlaggy, and introspective. I made it back home in Kabul around oneish yesterday. I never did get my luggage, although I may get it today if the airline did forward it like they said they would. So there's that to look forward to. Yesterday, I went out and did some shopping, played some games, figured out how to light my woodstove, and did my best to stay up as late as possible. I went to bed around 8:00 P.M. and woke up around 3:00 A.M. this morning. And have been awake ever since. Consequently, I'm a little tired and not exactly firing on all cylinders. I got unpacked in my new place today after meeting, and I think I'm ready for work and life to restart back to some semblance of normalcy tomorrow. It is cold here, and I have really appreciated my wood stove. I had on shorts for a while in there today.

Words. I write a large number of words, here and elsewhere. I speak a large number of words. Do I ever really know what effect those words are actually going to have? Should I type or say some or any of them that I do? It seems as though I never have actually managed to win over my nervous garrulousness, and that I say so many more things that I ever really should. Sometimes I do actually say something that matters, but more times than not I don't, it's just all verbal incontinence, just all pretty sounds and empty nothingness.

Well, see now, I should delete that and not post it, but I post it anyway. What does that say about me?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The ghost of Descartes asks again in the dark, "Oh, how could I have been so wrong?"

And, guess who has been experiencing delays and lost luggage again. That's right, your intrepid hero. Delayed in Wichita, delayed in Chicago, made it at JFK, but my bag didn't get on the flight to Dubai. They are supposed to be here in about 45 minutes on a later flight, if they don't, I guess they get shipped. So, we'll see how that happens.

I went and saw I Am Legend over break, and I watched 3:10 to Yuma on the Emirates flight over here. The first, I initially didn't like how they entirely changed the ending, then the more I thought about it, I liked the way they changed it, just not the way they executed the change. It felt half-hearted, like a studio thing tacked on because whatever the director wanted to do "wouldn't sell." I think if the theme had been more developed throughout the movie, I would have liked it more. Now, 3:10 to Yuma? Fantastic movie. I watched it because I like Westerns, and I am a Christian Bale fan. But the movie was just terrific. The protagonists were real characters, the villains a little caricatured, but overall, just terrific exploration of the themes and the characters' lives. It just came out on DVD in the states, if you haven't seen it, SEE IT. I can't say enough good things about that movie.

There has been a lot going on in my head recently, a lot of things I saw and observed while in the U.S., things I've seen and heard on the way back, that are rattling around in my head, fighting to become a real essay. I'd try to start typing it up now, and we'd see where it would go, but I'm not sure if there is any actual substance to my thought process.

Instead, I wrote up two little short stories while sitting in the Chicago airport that I will share with you. Here they are, appearing in print for the first time anywhere. Inspired by the bizarre things people wear, or odd parallels I saw.


Then, there's guys like Stephen. The kind of guy whose grandpa gave him the coonskin cap that Stephen's dad had long ago discarded, probably sometime during highschool in the sixties.

At age 15, Stephen supposes that this is some kind of ironic metaphor on the cyclical relationship between father and son. Stephen wants to study literature in college, and particularly thinks thoughts like this after overdosing on the New York Times book review page. Stephen already has the vocabulary down, even if he doesn't have the ability to use it.

The coonskin cap became a prize possession to Stephen, a kind of warder against the encroaching growth of a society increasingly concerned with the latest new thing, a kind of reminder of the transitory nature of popular culture.

Stephen wouldn't have written this down, so I had to do it for him. He may thank me in 12, 13 years, if he ever recognizes himself in this brief sketch.

Trans-generational Ear Gear

There lies a curious symmetry between the two Bluetooth-headset-adorned travelers. One, clearly an early-twenties, bleached blond college girl, on her way to a semester of learning, fun, and airborne pollen allergies. The other appears to be some sort of businessman, perhaps in industrial packaging sales, or maybe a forensic accountant for hire. Have adding machine, will travel.

Each one exhibits the cliched behavior of their respective demographic markets, with one exception that becomes all the more shocking for its commonplace nature. Indeed, if a hundred thousand conversations were monitored at this airport in one day, the monitor wold be hard-pressed to find two other conversations discussing competitive ambidextrous dart throwing.

The case the man is carrying could, just possibly, just maybe, hold the newest craze in the ambi-dart world, the asymmetrical CrossHatch 5000, the newest, most difficult practice board for ambis with asymmetric eyesight problems.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Once more, the open water

Wore stripes last time as a referee for the Jr. High girls and boys. It was a little stressful, but enjoyable. I didn't T up anyone, either. I showed great restraint.

Heading back today. It's been a great three weeks, I got to see almost everyone I wanted to, and some people I hadn't thought I would see as well. I've enjoyed being with family, I've enjoyed central heating, but it's time to go back.

I may blog a little bit from airports, but the next time I do will probably be from Kabul. Miles to go, ere I sleep.