No One Braver

Because sometimes, you just need to have a post titled after lyrics from Hercules. If you can’t immediately summon up the line I’m referencing first, shame on you, second, listen to the whole thing. What a great song from a great soundtrack. Fun fact about me that you can use if ever you want to woo me: my favorite line from that song is “Is he sweet? Our favorite flavor.” I just think it’s so cute. I’d love to be someone’s favorite flavor.

First things first, after Hercules apparently, I have not been doing anything much at all this week. I truly have nothing of note to report. I tried to help start a batch of pretzel buns for my sister and added approximately one-third of the appropriate amount of yeast. It was remedied adequately but yes, I continue to be a yikes baker.

After that thrilling accounting of my week, we have our little gallery of kitties. I had so many excellent pictures, it was a challenge to narrow it down at all, but here are my top two from the week. I just want you to know, since I’ve been with them pretty much all day every day for a week, they really are this cute pretty much non-stop. It’s wild.

 

Anyway. Some of you may be aware that, while Anastasia is my favorite animated film of all time and is now technically owned by Disney, it is not one of my favorite Disney movies. Buying the rights doesn’t really make it yours, you Disney scum. My favorite Disney movie is a tie between Hercules because of course, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Both have incredible music and great stories but let me tell you, Hunchback is what we need right now.

I was trying to make this a silly, upbeat post about fun Disney sing-alongs. They’re fun and silly and why not. But then, having started this, I saw a friend on Facebook post a gif from Hunchback— the moment at the festival when Frollo commands “Silence!” and Esmerelda responds “Justice!” Absolutely iconic. There’s bravery in defeating a hydra but golly if there isn’t more in standing up to injustice.

I could almost have a Sorcerer’s Stone moment here and don’t even get me started on God Help the Outcasts. Maybe I should’ve titled this post “I Thought We All Were the Children of God” but I’ll leave it as is because I originally intended to go the lighter-hearted route. Alas, I’ve gotten sidetracked by social justice, as one does.

Fun transition: I’ve always felt weird about Facebook fundraisers. I do not know why; it hasn’t stopped me from donating to other people’s on occasion but I have never done one myself. But I started one on 4 July because I couldn’t not. It’s in support of RAICES which, from all I have read, is a pretty great organization. I don’t really know what else to do but at least I can say that I’m trying.  I recommend donating to them and/or organizations like them, and making it a recurring donation if you’re able.

The state of the country such a thing, you know, I couldn’t not say something about it. I still don’t really know what to say, exactly, I get that outrage fatigue is a real thing. I’m not at Hercules level brave, and certainly not at Esmeralda level. But I hope and pray that I will always be one who says Justice when the powerful say Silence.

 

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Meet Me

I once had a fortune cookie that said “You will step on the soil of many countries.” I really liked it and kept it, it’s still pinned to the bulletin board in my childhood bedroom. I haven’t left the country this week but boy have I been many places.

Since last we spoke, I have passed through twelve states. From Maryland to Missouri via West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. From there to Oklahoma via Arkansas. And from there to Arizona via Texas and New Mexico. It’s been a lot. But there have definitely been some wonderful bits along the way.

When I went to St Louis, I drove across the Mississippi River and saw the Arch from the bridge… and that was sufficient for me. The arch was pretty much the only thing I was aware of for the city, and it wasn’t really a landmark that I was committed to seeing more than, you know, just seeing. I’d much more recommend Forest Park, the site of the 1904 World’s Fair, as an attraction to see in the city. I was only there for one full day and I saw the park and the botanical gardens and was more than satisfied. Love a good botanical gardens.

Of course, the main thing was to have friends to see there, they made the stop delightful rather than just pleasant. Knowing people and building community with them– even if it’s only for the briefest of visits– it just felt validating to make new friends. Maybe validating isn’t quite the right word but anyway. Definitely want to visit again. Compare: Oklahoma City, where I saw no one and did nothing other than sleep and was meh about the whole thing.

The beautiful drives, though. For the most part, I actually avoided a lot of the really boring bits (Oklahoma through north Texas and Ohio through Illinois notwithstanding). I always set my navigation to avoid tolls on principle (though the principle is to not pay tolls, rather than tolls are necessarily bad). What that means is that I often enjoy some routes that are a little more endearing than the major interstates. Driving through the tip of the Appalachians and across pretty much all of the Ozarks, for example, was pretty superb. And I did play spectator (as best I could while paying attention to the road) to some incredible lightning the night I drove into Oklahoma City.

And now here I am, back in Arizona at my sister’s. Obviously, a major highlight is seeing her precious kits in person again.

 

They really are twenty times cuter in person, as hard to believe as that is. I just really love cats and I’m so happy that I know people with cats that I can visit. Cats have definitely been one of the highlights of the summer so far.

I have no musings and no further updates for this week. Job applications continue to be sent out and continue to be rejected (though I remain grateful for a formal rejection instead of institutional ghosting). It’s kinda looking grim. But hey, I made cool new friends this week and I think that will buoy me for a good long while.

Still aimless, jobless, and technically homeless but what are you going to do. Here’s hoping progress on those fronts comes sooner rather than later.

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!

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–

Mostly They’re Darked

The school year here is rapidly, terrifyingly, drawing to a close. For me personally, the end of the year doesn’t exactly necessitate any additional work or stress in the way that students and teachers experience it. However, seeing as I will be minus a job in a few short weeks, I have plenty to stress about. The proper phrase is job hunting, but I feel like the anxiety is more like running away from a hunter named Joblessness.

Days here in northern Michigan have lengthened considerably and I do love watching a flaming sunset over the lake. It is very calming and even the veritable hoards of midges cannot lessen my enjoyment of the moment (at least, not too much). I have posted pictures of the Lake Michigan sunsets before so I won’t trouble you now but, rest assured, I am enjoying them as much as I am able.

On the note of pictures, though, I will definitely come through with some cat pics. That’s why you’re here anyway, and I know so many wonderful cats. I also encountered this superb human/cat pair, both of which are very alluring to me.  Can I please move to Australia and travel with that man and his cat?

 

Quite a rogues’ gallery of cuties this week. Love them all. Even the poorly-photographed, screaming Copper. (Copper was one of two cats that I briefly cat-sat last Friday for my neighbor/coworker/friend).

Anyway. I had an interview yesterday, which was a nice change of pace from the usual direct-to-rejection pipeline. I’m not getting my hopes up too high because, you know, I’ve been burned before. But it was nice. Made me feel valued. It annoys me that some part of me derives feelings of value from a corrupt and corrupting system of morally bankrupt capitalism but what is a poor twenty-something gay to do.

As an aside, I kind of hate the construction behind ‘twenty-something’ but whatever, I am what I am.

Thinking about places I might be going. And having truly, absolutely no idea where those places might be. It’s easy to get discouraged. Even with the giddy high of having an interview with a cool place, immediately after I felt like I might have squandered the opportunity. Not that it went poorly, but it just didn’t seem like I made myself exemplary and so might not get this cool job. Too early to say, but it just was sad to take a second and go over the 48 hours between confirmation of the interview to its completion: ecstatic to morose. Yech.

I have quoted before Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go and I would like to do so once more today. Near-ish to the beginning of the book, as you’re getting on your way with brains in your head and feet in your shoes, there is a brief warning about some of the places you might encounter. The narrator says:

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you can sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?

I feel a bit like I’ve wandered into some town way out there in an unknown land. Walking through the gates, seeing window after window darked. Not even because they are paths that are closed to me, but more because they are just obscured. And in that darkened obscurity, I very much feel like I might sprain both my elbow and shin.

There is no question, for me, about daring to stay out or go in. I am not staying here and so, necessarily, I am going. The question is also only partially whether to turn right-and-three-quarters or maybe not quite. There’s only so much I can do, applying to jobs. I feel justified, having this education and experience and living in this current economic climate, not taking a minimum-wage-ish position. But maybe it’ll come to that while I move somewhere and continue applying. Let’s hope not.

I think what I’m trying to say is that things are a little bit scary, but I’ll survive. The streets are not marked. The windows are not lighted. But the streets and the windows are there all the same and I’m learning that, while I may not be too smart to go down any not-so-good street, the not-so-good streets that I’m faced with don’t have to be doom, gloom, and slump.

Sometimes, it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness, as they say. But sometimes, I think it might be better to step into the darkness exactly as it is and find that maybe it’s not so bad. That’s the hope, at least.

 

There’s Only One Way to Find Out

I contend that one of the chief pleasures of life is reading in the sun. For me, it is a joy and satisfaction that few activities can achieve. A uniquely gratifying way to pass time, and an occupation which I treasure long after it is finished.

I know I’ve talked about it before but somehow I’m startled over and over again. There is a true contentment that settles deeply in my inmost parts when I am reading in the sun. A park, a bench, some shade, some breeze… It’s almost more happiness than I feel a right to. Profoundly pleasurable.

It has taken longer than it should have, but this week spring finally got itself together enough to allow that and I am all over it. I was so all over it on Tuesday, in fact, that I got pretty sunburned. Which isn’t ideal. But it was a cost incurred in the course of a supremely good pursuit, so I’m dealing just fine.

I do not know what I am doing with my life. Pretty much everything about my future is currently up in the air. But then I have a day like Tuesday, when I spend most of my hours engaged in what some might describe as frittering but I would describe as necessary. Yes, there were more productive (essentially so) things that I could have done. Should have, even.

But I will not apologizing for frittering away my time in such a fashion, even though I am in a bit of a press.

Putting in the effort is necessary. Things generally haven’t just happened to me, I’ve had to go out and see what there is to see, and I expect that trend to continue since I would like to have another job (sooner rather than later). However.

Some opportunities should not be missed. A Tuesday afternoon getting sunburned while reading. A Wednesday evening baking cinnamon raisin quick bread. A Thursday morning publishing an obscure blog. Without these things, even in the midst of the urgent press of ‘what I’m doing with my life,’ I think the uncertainty of it would all be a little too much to bear.

It’s true that I have no clue what is coming down the track at me, a few short weeks away. But, as I am often fond of saying, there’s only one way to find out. Stride into the future and live it.

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Carpe archa, seize the box.

Avatar Aang

My sister requested more cats and it would be unforgivably remiss of me if I did not comply. Here are a couple pictures of her precious ones. How are cats so cute. I for real cannot handle it. Yes and forever.

If you have not seen Avatar: The Last Airbender, I highly recommend it. Both because it is, in my humble estimation, deeply excellent, and also because this post is going to have pretty much the largest spoiler. You have been warned.

The show is great because it’s a goofy children’s show that takes place in fantasy land. But at the same time, it takes on a lot of heavy issues. Not just things like bad parents and awkward relationships. Literal, actual genocide. The whole premise of the title comes from the fact that all the other airbenders were massacred in a war a century ago. It may not look at genocide as deeply as an adult show could, but it definitely doesn’t shy away from it.

This week, I had a sudden and intense urge to rewatch the grand finale of the series. It’s a four-part, hour and a half, episode that includes the culmination of all the storylines and a happy little denouement. In particular, I was interested in seeing again the titanic battle between Fire Lord Ozai and Aang. Because of how it plays out.

And here’s the spoiler (that really makes sense, in the quasi-Disney children’s entertainment sort of way): Aang doesn’t kill Ozai. They spend three seasons trying to come up with a way around murder and come up empty. Aang asks a bunch of his past lives and they were all telling him to do it. Even the peaceful airbending Avatars. Something about needing to sacrifice your own spiritual wellbeing for the sake of the world.

But Aang, this random twelve year old gentle soul, refuses. When it comes down to it, even in the midless Avatar state, he does not kill. He does something probably no human has ever done–he takes away Ozai’s bending. He’s not just thought outside the box, he’s done what had been heretofore impossible, unthinkable, and unknowable. But he did it, and it was perfectly executed (pardon the pun).

I just think it’s kind of an incredible feat. Not just the act itself, which is obviously avatar-awesomeness. But that someone was so utterly convinced all life was sacred that, even on the brink of essentially the end of the world, he refused to bend the principle. Not saying that we should precisely follow in his footsteps.

But it is a heartening reminder that principles matter, integrity matters, even when it seems like they’re barely the dust on a villain’s shoes.

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I have been enjoying some lovely days (we’ve had some pretty trash days, too) though for the most part it has remained rather more chilly than I’d prefer. On Sunday, we had surpassing good weather, pure sunny and even getting up above 70. Now, of course, we’re back in the upper 40s, but still some sun mixed in with the rain.

Flowers have been blooming and that has been a great comfort to me in this trying season. Trees haven’t quite gotten the message that they’re meant to have leaves by this point but they’re getting there. Deciduous trees. I know they can’t help it, they were born that way, but couldn’t they just try to be coniferous?

Not much else to say, other than the (apparently, unfortunately) annual cycle of job applications has begun in earnest. So far, I’ve only applied in this country (sad face) but I’m up to seven states. Here’s hoping. I’ve given the Great Lakes a go, let’s see where to next.

Bread

First of all, how propitious that this post falls on April 25th, the perfect date according to some. Not too hot and not too cold, all you need is a light jacket. Which, miraculously, is true of the weather here today! Anyway.

This week was Easter! A celebration of the possibilities of becoming new. A recognition that life and love prevail. A feast where the food is sacrifice and the appetite is of the soul. A table where all have been invited to sit and eat without condition and without price.

I don’t want to try and be too theological again, not qualified, but I have some thoughts.

But! Before we get too far into the Easter things, I think a small cat gallery is called for. This week, a curious juxtaposition of cool, calm, and collected (and unusual state for that one) and quirky sleeper.

It should come as no shock to any of you to hear that I am a great lover of baked goods. Rarely met one I didn’t like. And so it might be a bit of a stretch but I’m going to try to knead out a bread-based metaphor here.

We had a sermon a few weeks ago whose central theme was the ‘bread of affliction’–both the difficult things that we face in life and the ways in which we try to feed ourselves unhealthy things. The guest speaker, in my understanding, had two main ideas: take a look at what you’re consuming and make sure it’s a life-giving diet, and when you see people who are eating bread of affliction we ought to have compassion on them.

And I will say again, in the words of a mentor of mine, compassion is to care enough to do something to help.

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ellen Goodman said,

I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people who are convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference after another.

I’m all about changing the world. There are undoubtedly those who can and do. But most of us are not in that number, not in any kind of Bill Gates/Marie Curie/Nelson Mandela kind of way. And so we are faced with the immense task of the routine small things by which the world operates.

And one of the big things about Jesus, if you ask me, is less about the big changes we normally think about–though those too–and more about the small ways we can change our hearts to act in love toward ourselves and others. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I truly believe that we just need to love more and more; the world will change in radical and maybe unexpected ways when love is the driver of action.

People are in different places. By circumstance, certainly, but also by heart. Some people have love to give and other people feel like they’re running a little dry on that front. And that’s the idea of the bread of affliction, I think. We should spread love when and where we can and when we can’t, we should take and eat the bread offered to us.

If you are feeling like things are going well for you, that you eat little of the bread of affliction and you are generally satisfied with life, first of all, congratulations. Second, look around you. Look intently, not a quick glance up from your happiness. Go to those with a harder diet. Be gentle with them, succor them, and be prepared to work hard with them.

If you are feeling like all you ever eat is the bread of affliction, then come to the table that has been prepared for you. Visit the one who has invited you and be filled by that which the world has not offered. The invitation is for all. And when I say all, I actually mean all. There is nothing that you must do or say to be seated at that feast. You yourself, all of yourself, are welcome.

You are expected. Come, the meal is ready.

Roots, Routes, and Sunflower Shoots

For the record, I am neither here nor there on the pronunciation of routes; sometimes I say roots and sometimes I say raw-oots (I have no idea how to phoneticize that). Obviously, for the purposes of this post, I’m going with the former.

I have dark tidings: I am writing this on Wednesday night and the weather forecast is calling for some pretty strong snow possibilities in the coming wee hours. This must not be. I will not give you an update in the morning because I fear that the worst will come to pass, I will just hope and pray that better plans prevail.

Also, some actually exciting news before we go too much further. One of my good friends has recently adopted a new friend and his name is Jackson and I was instantly in love. Hope to meet him in person some day soon.

Whether or not the weather actually agrees, it is spring. We may or may not get a little more snow this month but I don’t care. Immediately after returning from Canada, I planted some dwarf sunflower seeds and they have sprouted and they have given me hope (even if they don’t live much longer, I don’t have a green bone in my body). I saw my first flowers of the season on campus this week as well, all three of them.

There are still a few lingering snow bits tucked away in corners or where ploughs made great big heaps. But mostly, the ground is free and clear and soft and lovely. My DC friends were sending me all kinds of gorgeous pictures of cherry trees and though I have yet to see a single blossom here (land of the Cherry Capital Airport), I know that they are coming. Spring marches on, following ever after winter. There is hope, after all.

And coming back from break, we now have nothing between us and the end of the school year. It’s one straight shot. Racing down the track at us. And, though we still have two months, I’m already starting to get that my-departure-is-immanent anxiety. Job applications, of course, thinking about packing and finding a new place to live and all that.

I do not recall when I first heard the phrase ‘roots and routes.’ I feel like it may have been a book discussed at Trinity. But I don’t recall and I’m too lazy to look it up. But what a catchy saying, am I right? And it so elegantly captures a huge element of the human story. I, for one, am one always on the move and always longing to stretch my roots deep into home soil.

It is far too early to be thinking about my time here concluding (but I just couldn’t not use this title when I saw my seedlings and thought of it). Even so, I think I might make a few observations in the general sense.

Unless you are a very new reader, it should come as no surprise to you that social is very difficult for me. I have a deep hunger for intimate friendship but I am also very introverted. So when I’m moving frequently and have to social all over again with new people in a new place, I sometimes despair of that deep relationship. But at the same time, everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve been blessed with people who I have been able to social with and become at least some modicum closer to. Though my living arrangements the past several years have been relatively fleeting, I feel like I have been able to grow some roots eventually in each place. And I think I’m getting better at it.

On the flip side, I love traveling. I love not just traveling but coming to live in a new place. Even when those places have sometimes been places I didn’t particularly want to go, I have found such a joy simply in the act of going. Yes, I long for roots. Desperately. But I must not let that ache blind me to the bright spring feeling of arriving. The routes that I have taken, sometimes unexpected and undesired, that have taken me literally across the globe.

Roots and routes. And as for the shoots, as I’m so very fond of saying: bloom where you’re planted.