Glitter

I have been staying in the DMV (not to be confused with the DMZ, or even the Department of Motor Vehicles) this week. In case you’re unaware, that would be the colloquial name for the national capital region–District, Maryland, Virginia. Mostly in Maryland, but hey.

I have a number of connections in the area and it’s been good to catch up with a number of them. I was here only last spring but wasn’t able to see all the people I’d have liked to see but now, being here for a bit longer, I have been enjoying reconnecting a bit. Met some people, will meet some more this coming week. It’s been very restful and restorative.

Plus, you know, the anxiety of still not having a job. Moving on.

Next up, I need to have another little cat gallery. I have been very grateful to stay with one of my friends here and she is the lovely mother of the lovely Jackson! So a special feature on him this week because I finally met him in person. He is absolutely adorable and is one of the few cats I’ve ever met who does the little ‘chirp’ thing that I sometimes read in novels. He does it a lot but it isn’t really annoying, mostly it just continues to be cute (and cat mom, who hears it all the time, agrees).

He especially likes shoulder and hip rubs, in case you ever meet him.

Though I have heretofore seen precious little of fireflies in their peak season, I have been blessed to see some truly dazzling displays this week. Sitting in the dark on a park bench, watching a hot and humid night unfurl its shadowed glories, seeing a sparkling landscape echo the slowly emerging stars overhead. Sara Teasdale said, in reference to the stars and applicable to fireflies as well, “I know that I/ Am honored to be/ Witness/ Of so much majesty.”

Some of you may yet be unaware, but people like me don’t actually die. Instead, when our time comes, we either dissolve into a shimmering cloud of glitter or dissipate in a cloud of noxious fume, depending on how we lived our lives. Fun fact.

There is so much hurting in the world right now. It is a world filled with troubles of various kinds but in particular, I feel outraged and helpless about the horrible situation around immigration right now: raids, concentration camps, deprivation, fear. It is not right. I do not know what to do.

When faced with stuff like that, I don’t know how to be. There are some things, like contacting your congressional representatives and donating (in any way) to organizations like these (and as I’ve said before, even better if you’re able to support them long-term). I don’t know if that stuff really makes a difference, you know? How can I live my life in a way that is moving toward glitter in such circumstances?

I have not read Middlemarch by George Eliot but a friend recently drew to my attention a section toward the end. Regarding the main character, she writes:

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

I do not think that there is anything inherently noble in living in obscurity. I wonder though, there must surely be some kind of valor in a life humbled, either in spirit or by circumstance, where one remains firmly committed to goodness. The kind of life with sufficient glitter in the metaphysical sense but not a whole lot of external, visible glitter.

Clearly, I have no idea what I’m saying at this point. Something about trying to help, something about being good and humble and selfless. Take from this mess of a post what you will. I hope our actions makes the world better.

Needable

Before we do anything this week, to avoid my sister’s ire, here are cats. Because cats are very needable.

 

This week, I’ve been in Pittsburgh visiting a friend. It’s been a lovely visit and I’m exceedingly grateful for the hospitality. It’s definitely a city, not sure that it’s really my scene. Some really cool architecture in some neighborhoods. Loved the botanical gardens and I’ll be going to museum-ville today so that should be good. You know I love a good museum day.

All in all, other than getting lost in Cleveland (which only worsened an already not-great opinion of the city and Ohio in general), a decent start to my current stint of unemployed nothingness. Been fairly productive with a few things that have required productivity. I was a little lax my final week or two in Glen Arbor but I’ve mostly made up for that, I hope. Still waiting to hear if I’ve gotten a second interview…. prospects are looking dimmer every day but who knows. It would be an amazing opportunity if I got the job.

A few thoughts for today. It’s not entirely accurate to say that all of my worldly possessions are currently crammed into my little Prius C, but it’s not entirely inaccurate either. Yes, I have plenty of things at my parents’ houses, but everything that I actually live with is coming with me on all my adventures this summer. It’s an odd feeling.

My mother has frequently ribbed me, more or less playfully, for being a minimalist. And while it is true to some extent, I also feel like it’s largely been a product of my circumstances. I’ve lived, for at least a year, on three different continents in the past three or four years. Having many possessions simply isn’t that feasible. It still feels weird to own some actual furniture, such as it is, because it almost feels superfluous to my needs. It isn’t, not by a long shot, but it sometimes feels like overkill to own, you know, a single chair or a laundry drying rack or mattress. Though, let me be very clear, I really love my mattress.

I’m not a wildly evangelical supporter of minimalism–at least, I wouldn’t consider myself such. I long to settle somewhere long-term where I can nest a little. But there is definitely something to be said for owning only things that are directly useful or have been individually and thoughtfully considered as necessary components to take up space in my very limited car. Even having only been in Michigan for a number of months, the vagaries of packing and the inevitable few purchases ensured that when I left, I had to make some decisions about what I actually wanted to take with me.

Perhaps it’s worth a moment of contemplation. Not that you should get rid of all your other things, but what would you take if you could only travel with what fit in a car? What are your necessary things, whether practical or emotional?

An illustrative example: I’m one of those people who never really intends to own media or media accoutrements, preferring to stick with streaming and a laptop for the time being, at least. However, there are a few essentials that I need to be certain are always accessible so I bring the DVDs with me. The Harry Potter movies, the Lord of the Rings extended movies, and Anastasia. Those are some things that are guaranteed space in my car because they’re necessary even if I don’t need them, per se.

I guess that’s really the question here. Not about the top things that you’d bring with you, but the things that aren’t exactly essential but are distinctly need-able. Your Anastasia DVD, Gudetama mouse pad, or refrigerator magnet from Milford Sound. Your several extra sets of chopsticks, in case you ever have guests and you make East Asian food. Your cool wooden beard comb, in case you ever grow a long beard again.

In research, it’s a thing to say that something is a necessary but not sufficient condition for something to occur. Food, water, shelter–these are necessary for life. But they aren’t quite sufficient, either. We all should have something that isn’t strictly necessary but is essential all the same. I’m glad I have mine, and I’m glad they all fit!

Keep Us Star Gazing

We have come to it. There are a number of things that I have in my head to say for this, my final blog post in Michigan (at least, for the foreseeable future). But I’m not sure exactly how to say them. So I’ll just say some random stuff, quote the Muppets, and call it quits.

First and foremost, thank you to all my Michigan friends. This would have been a difficult year indeed without people as interested in Malta, as disgusted by delicious food, as committed to board games, as open-minded, as talented and compassionate, and as concerned with God’s voice (and so on and so forth) as you lot.

As my year in Korea came to a close, I said that sometimes the most important journeys are the ones that you didn’t mean to take. And, departing this apartment tomorrow, I think that continues to hold true. Glen Arbor, Michigan, was not a place I ever would have imagined myself calling home but here we are.

I have learned so much this year. From students, coworkers, friends, church, the place itself. Living in Michigan afforded me the opportunity to go to the Q Christian Conference in January, to road trip through three major Canadian cities, to see three Great Lakes and an overwhelming myriad of mediocre ones. Though unexpected, this journey has been rewarding indeed.

Before we get any further, I want to take a sec to have a little Pride moment. Because of my traveling and things this summer, I won’t be able to take part in any formal Pride celebrations but the month itself retains a special importance and I think this is a good day to reflect for a moment.

Yesterday was the third anniversary of the Pulse shooting which was unutterably devastating. It is so important to remember. And if I may deign to say anything at all about it, it is this: to those who contend that the queer community is a force of harm and destruction, come and see, the harm is done to us not by us. Please stop harming us by your actions and beliefs, your words hurt more than you can know.

Now hold onto your socks because we’re going to get real cheesy here.

In the midst of darkness, there is a mysterious light. After rain, rainbows. Hope is the thing that keeps me going, the thing that makes me look at the stars and dream. Sometimes, that dreaming comes at such a cost but still we look to the sky because we have caught glimpses that hearten us when we are downcast.

Whether along the unseen path of my own life or the course of nations and the hearts of peoples across the globe, I can envision a future that is brighter (and more colorful) than today. A future wherein love is love, and most everything else is love as well. A future in which none will grow weary of seeking good for one another because we recognize that the connection of our shared humanity is more important than any difference. A future of knowing others, being fully known, and loving all even so. I hope and pray that we strive for that future, together, without ceasing, neither forgetting the darkness nor fearing its unknown, radiant light.

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Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection. The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

An Enjambment

So maybe enjambment is not a word that’s often kicked around in the common parlance but wow, it’s a great one. It refers to (since I know probably one of you, readers, will actually look it up) lines in poetry where a sentence is broken up across lines or stanzas. As in, “so much depends/ upon/ a red wheel/ barrow” ect.

In other words, when there’s more to say but the line is finished. A new start but the same thing continuing.

I want to share with you a few numbers in my life right now that are pretty large. This is my 201st blog post. Which is to say, I’ve been writing here for more than two hundred weeks. Which is a lot of weeks. Today is also my 712th straight day meeting my practice goal on Duolingo. Those are some long lines and I’m pretty proud of them. I struggle to be dedicated to much, so I’m proud to have those two things, however trivial, to say that I can stick with something.

Patterns like those are a bit of an anchor when the rest of things seem to be so up in the air. Enjambments can be so interesting but I’ll tell you, it’s not loads of fun living in a line break. The history of my line spacing has been pretty thick–about six months after grad school and Korea alike. Hopefully, this time will be a little more prompt. I haven’t had leads, really, other than that one interview (I kind of desperately hope that a second one will follow in the next couple weeks).

I need a bit of a cat intermission here, before wallowing a bit more in angsty poetry and existential job-related despair.

I don’t want to labor the point too much but I would like to, at least kind-of-briefly, draw your attention to Emily Dickinson’s enjambments. They so very often are simply dashes. Scholars have spent years either re-punctuating her poetry or trying to figure out what all her dashes mean. They’re such an enigmatic mark and her use of them is so peculiar; it’s a whole, mysterious thing. And I love them.

Here’s a concept to unite all this: one can have dedication without certainty, constancy without direction. I have come to the end of another line and, like plenty of lines before it in this confusing ‘adulthood’ I’ve been forced into, it’s enjambed and ending with a dash–something that isn’t clear, something that can go in any direction it chooses. It’s not a formal or tidy comma, colon, or semicolon. Ambiguous but done on purpose, even when that purpose is utterly unknown. A line that ends on a dash points onward to the next line; a poem that ends on a dash points onward into our very lives. Or maybe I’m reading too much into them. She’ll probably forgive me.

I have one more week to finish packing and cleaning and visiting a few more places I ought to visit. Mere days to write and read and apply to more jobs. To spend time with friends and sketch out to some degree the next part of my life. Hours and hours to spend sitting at my computer or standing out on the beach, hoping wretchedly for something to happen soon.

As before, I know intellectually that something will happen. Eventually. And not necessarily something that I will want. But right now, it’s the soon that is the most scary. Because, while I’ve had to go home before, I’m not going directly home. I’m roaming around near-aimlessly for a sec. And I know that I have some places to land but still. Sooner would be better than later.

To conclude, a small poem I’ve just now written, in the vein of all that’s come above. A special thanks to Emily Dickinson and all her weird capitalization and punctuation.


Oh God of the Universe:
Hear my prayer and help
me with my Soon.
Grant the patience until such time
as a Soon becomes a Now.

Be with me
Whatever comes
Draw near

in the great, unknown
Next.
Be the God of Waiting
and help me survive
all these dashes–