Job, Growth, Lips, Kitties

So I guess I should start off this week with the biggest personal yikes that has happened to me since I last posted. Which is that, unfortunately, I was not flown anywhere. Nor did I fly anywhere. Because my prospective employer decided that, what with a big virus threatening and extraneous travel not advised, a video interview (like my first one with them) would suffice. Understandable but not ideal. At least it still happened.

And I’m very grateful that it did. I think it went really well, I feel like I came across as very personable and very suited for the position. They all seemed really nice as well. Hoping that their willingness to fly me out (even though it didn’t happen) and having a two hour second interview are good signs. Now, once more, it’s a waiting game. But I should hear from them relatively soon. Here’s hoping. Hoping real hard.


Things otherwise have not been particularly thrilling. I also have not had any big thoughts about anything.

Mostly, this week, I have been daydreaming about moving and having my own place and purchasing household goods and putting up framed artwork on the walls. (Re)Building a routine around even the most mundane things.

As I’ve said before, I know that whatever comes next for me, it won’t automatically solve my problems and it will bring new problems of its own. But I am just really ready for those problems. Those opportunities. Those new things, whatever they may be. If this job turns out to be my job, then I will really look forward to all the changes that that new start will bring. Gasp! I’m looking forward to changes! Maybe this means I’m maturing.


The sermon series that the church I’m going to is presenting during Lent is about big questions people have about the faith. So far, we’ve covered Hell/End Times and politics. This coming Sunday, apparently they’re talking about homosexuality, what a joy.

I said that with that tone because I know neither pastor is personally affirming, nor is the denomination as a whole. Very not, in fact. But because I really just don’t care what they have to say about it (it’s not that I’m ignoring their perspective or anything, it’s more that I have heard it all before, thought about it, and rejected it) I don’t mind going and just kind of existing near them as a very gay, very affirming person. Visibly. So, you know, manicured and lipsticked.

A friend and I recently went lipstick shopping so I could try it for the first time. Trying on lipstick in the store is so weird. I get it but also yikes. Seems like too much work to wear regularly (sorry about the patriarchy) but it’s a fun little accent. I got a pretty nice berry type shade, very eye-catching if you ask me.

So I’ll wear my lipstick and my random shade of nail polish and just generally do my best to radiate the message that God loves everyone, no caveats.


And of course, I would be remiss if I neglected my cat picture duties so here’s a quick little fix for you.

Health As Virtue

I don’t really want to be one of those people who rails against ‘American culture’ because who even knows what that is, anyway. But I guess I’m going to just for a sec here because I can. Something I’ve noticed for a long time. Americans often consider health to be a virtue instead of like, an attribute. As in, good people are healthy and bad people are not.

You are unhealthy or sick because of the choices you have made. You did this to yourself and therefore you deserve whatever unpleasantness, illness, or disability that you are dealing with. I am healthy because I am smart and make good, moral decisions and therefore I deserve whatever good things may happen in my life.

Consider the old adage, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” I am all for making healthy choices, I really am, but let’s take a second here. Going to bed early and getting up early is not a healthy choice–it’s just a choice. Getting adequate sleep is a healthy choice, but when you get that sleep is totally immaterial. It is generally easier to sleep when it is dark outside and be awake when it is light but even that isn’t a requirement (see: people living in polar-adjacent areas). There’s so much more to unpack in that phrase but I can’t right now, I think you get my drift though.

Being healthy is great but we’ve got to remember that health doesn’t always come down to our choices. Human health is full of risks and chances, things that happen just because they happen. And because we live in an imperfect society, our choices are also often very limited; money makes a huge difference, as does education, culture, and access to preventive care.

I’ll be frank with you. I would rather care for every need–including the every single one that does genuinely result from ‘bad choices’–than willfully neglect a human being in need. That’s the real healthy choice: caring about everyone. There’s a whole lot more to say on the issue but that’s what I’ve got for you today.


Please pardon the dearth of cats on here this past month, I wanted to try to just focus on what I was saying. But now it’s March and regular content can now resume so here is a fairly substantial gallery of many furry friends. I hope that it in some small way atones for my cat-related negligence.

I just love them all so much. Very blessed to have so many precious kitties in my life. I will especially never get over how cute Béégashii and Jenny are together. They’re all just such excellent cats. I love cats.


The other life news that I have is a little bit scary to share, to be honest. Because nothing is certain and I kind of feel like nothing is real until it actually happens and because I’ll feel like a ginormous loser if it doesn’t happen but I’m a loser. Plus, it’s arguably the biggest Thing (maybe even only Thing) to happen to me since at least August.

I am being flown out (that’s right, I’m not flying out, I’m being flown out) to a second interview a couple time zones over this coming week. I am super excited about the job primarily because a) it is something that I actively really want to do right now and b) I already have friends in this potential new city and that would just make things a whole lot easier and nicer.

Hoping against hope. Trying not to hope too much because my hopes have been dashed (or maybe more accurately, slowly withered away until their dust so completely disperses that it’s difficult to tell there ever was hope to begin with) so many times before. I’m anxious about the interview itself–it’s forecast to be in three parts and take up two complete hours. I’m also a little anxious about traveling–not because of a virus of any kind but because traveling generally makes me very anxious no matter how often I do it.

But anyway. Enjoy the cats. Care about people no matter what. Join me in hoping. Please please oh please.

Walk Humbly

We proceed today to the third part in my little series inspired by this talk at a conference I went to back in November and using Micah 6:8 as a way to talk about stuff that I think is important.

So. Walk humbly.Our daily lives should be characterized humility at all times. I don’t recall the post in which I talked about “characterized” but I still like that word, it makes me feel better about evaluating myself on-the-whole rather than in-this-instance.

The point of this, I think, it to model ourselves after Jesus who, being literally actually God, was also just some random Jewish peasant. But foremost in his actions is taking care of others, no matter what it looked like. Meeting people’s needs, going to where they are–physically, culturally, mentally, emotionally, relationally, spiritually. I want to strive to care for others. Gently, humbly, individually, joyfully. Careful to try my best to ensure that they do not feel like a burden.

And here’s a big part of what I think is tricky about that. The difference between service and humility. Anyone can serve, all you have to do is do something. But like last week, when we had to not just do mercy but actively love it, to be humble is to serve for the right reasons, not just go through the motions. Jesus was big into this, the whole idea that when you give, do not even let your right hand know what your left is doing. Or something like that.

Finally, to walk is a directional verb, unlike do or love. We are meant to be going someplace. Which to me means two things: do not expect perfection, and be open to correction. On the first, that means that we ought to go easy on ourselves and on others because none of us are there yet. On humility, or on justice or mercy. I guess that is itself a little humility though, look at us we’re getting somewhere!

And on the second. When we get hurt by people, it can make us extra sensitive to correction. When people have used cudgels in the guise of guidance, especially in church settings, it can make any words of wisdom sometimes feel painful. But it is our work to listen to valid correction and strive to move forward–to heal our wounds and to walk further every day. On the reverse, we have to be sensitive to the hurt in others, to serve and guide them appropriately. Do not underplay or ignore or cheapen the experience of others in the pursuit of betterment (but also don’t give up that pursuit).

I think this correction piece is really key for religious settings in particular. The church offers boundaries and guidelines that the secular world doesn’t, exactly, and I think that’s a strength (when it is not abused). But this element of humility also means that (and here’s my little queer moment on the subject) the church must be able to look humbly on itself and take correction where it can be brought closer to the justice and mercy of God.


Let me tell you, applying for jobs has been a rough time. Being rejected over and over again from scores of places, month after month, isn’t great for one’s self-esteem. But that’s not humility. Working at Michael’s, cleaning bathrooms on the odd occasion–and not minding too too much, and at least there’s a paycheck. But that’s not humility.

I don’t mean this to be the kind of thing where I’m like, I’ve been stripped of everything that’s important to me and that’s how I learned to rely on God because a) I have not been so stripped, nowhere near and b) those stories always kind of annoy me though I’m not sure why. And also c) I don’t think that I’ve learned any better to rely on God than in the past few years (which is maybe a personal failing but that’s neither here nor there).

What I think I have learned a bit is a better perspective. First, on the very tangible scale of Capitalism, learning that I am and always will be replaceable and that a job will never actually care about me because it’s just a job (people can, but people are not jobs). And instead of this being depressing (though not having a job is kind of depressing), it is liberating because I am free to derive my value elsewhere. Like God, theoretically.

And second, perspective in a more global, cosmic sense. To be humbled by the knowledge of God, as far as I have come on that question. To know that while I certainly oughtn’t derive my own worth from a job, God definitely doesn’t. Not from a job, or a relationship, or actions, or words, or thoughts. God doesn’t consider any of those things when estimating my value–not even for an instant. Not a single thing.

The only thing that God considers when charting my value as a human being is that I am. That is the humility that I have been trying to learn. It may sound kind of counter-intuitive, the humility of knowing my worth, and maybe I haven’t explained it well, but I know what I mean.

 

Ah! Beautiful

This week has been a week. Not even that it’s been tiring, mentally or physically, or even that a lot of things happened. But just. Interview on Monday, waiting on tenterhooks ever since, hoping to hear back. Worked a little. Daydreamed a lot about what my life might look like if I had a for-real income and maybe moved to the (widest possible extent of the) greater Seattle area. Tried without too much success to coalesce some thoughts around topics from the conference the other week. Read. Baked (just some simple soda bread, love a good no-yeast bread recipe).

Been trying to think about what to get people for Christmas. One gift is bought and one is chosen but not yet purchased. Everything else is still very much up in the air. Annoyingly, I’m the kind of person who prefers choosing the presents I receive (for the most part) in a desire to minimize waste and make everyone including myself happy. But when I’m shopping for others, I like to try and be creative and thoughtful. I recognize the dissonance (sorry, parents for whom that may be frustrating). But also, I’m not like oozing money at the moment.

I sometimes think I’d like to do something crafty and really unique. I did it a few times when I was younger (but not like, young-young). Don’t think it really went over super well because I’m not really skilled in any kind of crafty way. We’ll just have to see how things shape up this year.

Bleh, I’d rather not be thinking about how I still don’t know if I got that job yet. Here, have a picture of my rosemary soda bread (insufficient rosemary, for future reference).

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The thing about this job that I’ve applied for is that it’s like a six month temp position with no solid gateway into a full time position (though theoretically possible, not something to plan on). So even if I am hired at this place, guess what I’ll be doing yet again in just a few short months. Applying to jobs. Yech. Look, a distraction! My sister’s lovely kitties! They’ve been off the blog for too long.

 

In the midst of all of my nothing-really-going-on this week, I did have a few moments that stood out. A couple moments of friends reaching out. Just chatting. Feeling a little more connected than I have been lately. I like talking to my friends so much. If you are my friend, you can always talk to me. It will almost certainly brighten my day (as long as you’re not talking about how much you hate cats or some trash like that).


A while ago, I encountered a poem called The Republic of Poetry by Martín Espada. It’s a cute little imagining of a world concerned primarily with elevating the position of poets, and with propagating a love of poetry among the entire populace.

The final stanza indicates that the customs agent at the airport will not allow anyone to leave the country until they recite a poem for her that makes her exclaim, “Ah! Beautiful.”

What a gift it is to give one another something beautiful.

Anytime, Anywhere, Anyone

This is a very disjointed post, I’m not sorry. I will never get over the horizontal line feature. Anyway. We’ll start with cats (a very good place to start).

They are still, as ever, very cute. And I’m so pleased to have gotten a semi-decent picture of Bubba sitting still.


Events this week have included not a whole lot, other than the relatively unsurprising but still very disheartening news that I will not be moving to New Mexico any time in the near future. It was a distinct possibility, and one that I had staked rather a lot of hope (of necessity, since I have had no other leads), but it all proved to be in vain. I’m not utterly broken by the news but it was hard to hear all the same.

I had already started planning a little bit about what I would do if it didn’t come through but those plans are still very nascent and so who really knows what’s coming. It’s scary and uncomfortable and I hate it.


I was reminded of a series of Tweets I saw on Facebook (social media, what have you done). Someone named Julia Rodgers was responding to Christians who asked whether/how they can love queer people without being fully affirming. She responds, in part, “Love draws us outside of ourselves and moves us to think of other people first. If we keep returning to questions that are about our beliefs or our experience of them, we might ask whether we truly love them or are just trying to manage our anxiety about them.”

I don’t disagree that sometimes loving people means choosing for them something they would not choose for themselves–helping someone recover from addiction may be a good example of that. But imagine being told that, though all sin, you are so uniquely sinful that you are prohibited from falling in love. Not with a specific person or in a specific situation, just ever. So while choosing good for someone else is a thing, how do you know what the best thing is for someone? What does the fruit (to speak a little Christianese) of those choices have on the people you’re choosing for?

I’ve also never gotten the whole concept of considering homosexual acts different from simply existing as a homosexual person. God looks at the heart, I think it’s pretty clear: looking lustfully is the same as committing adultery, being angry with someone is the same as murdering them. My heart is so very gay. Either it’s a problem or it’s not, regardless of how I act.

I’m not expressing myself well here at all, alas. I just wasn’t expecting to be in this place again this week but, as I have seen and been told, you never finish coming out. Sigh. I am not perfect at love, so forgive me. But also, if you’ve asked the question above, please listen.


I read a new book this week (sorry, Far from the Madding Crowd, you’re on the back burner already) and it’s pretty good. It’s City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. I want to share with you three quotations, all from the same chapter, in fact, around one third of the way in. The first two are from a Buddhist monk-type guy who is talking with the main character about why he still performs acts of charity when his god has been dead for decades. The last is a while later, from the main character to an old lady from an opposing ethnic group.

“I never saw a country before […] All I saw was the earth under my feet.”

“Good can be done at anytime, anywhere, to anyone, by anyone.”

“I don’t have the time or the energy to hate. I only wish to understand. People are what they are.”


I would like to conclude with a poem by Mary Oliver (who sadly died earlier this year) that one of my correspondents sent me in a letter this week. It ends with a sentiment that seems to me–at least in my current state–both haunting and hopeful.

Today

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

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.

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.