Thursday, December 30, 2010

I believe in self-care

One. Life is a lot less painful when you aren't inflicting pain on yourself.
Two. And a lot less scary when you can count on yourself.

This is why I believe in being good to myself, in looking out for myself. Why I feed myself when I'm hungry, no matter what. Why I stop myself from pinching my stomach or yelling at myself in my head when I don't think I look good. Why I try to encourage and soothe myself instead of beating myself up. Why I work to keep my life in order. Why I have to forgive myself and keep myself safe.

There is a therapist's trick to test how you deal with yourself. You ask yourself:

Would I treat a child the way I am treating myself right now? Would I feel okay subjecting a child to the way I talk to myself? What about my best friend? Would I tolerate this kind of treatment from another person?

When the answer is no, something needs to change.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Things that are making me happy

• Non-stuff gifts, like the donations los padres made in me and my sisters' names...the kind where you buy a goat for someone in a developing country, you know? As my contesserate has been saying, it's a more appropriate way to celebrate the birth of the man who taught us to eschew material possessions.

• When someone who smells really nice walks past me and leaves a wake of olfactory goodness washing over me

• Or when I pass by a house with the scent of incense drifting out of it. (Ever since freshman year when I roomed with a New England hippie, incense to me is the smell of sanctuary.)

• Sharing a bed with my puppy-who-isn't-mine

• House-/puppysitting income

• The gift of a webcam—so that even though I am the most geographically distant of the family when I'm at school, I can still SEE my baby niece (and my sister and bro-in-law) regularly!

• And gifts of film and money to ease my moolah-related worries for next semester

Cut-out Christmas cookies

• A chrysanthemum-shaped cookie cutter

• Shawls

• Receiving a package from New Hampshire and a Christmas card from Thailand on the same day

• Using the Reverb10 prompts as journaling prompts

• White-boy afros

• Odessa's birthday/bloggiversary post

• How I know I'll always get along easily with the people I grew up with at my childhood church, because our parents are friends and we've never not known each other. Even if we only see each other once a year, as some of us did last week.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Week in photos: 10-16


This week, I met my two-month-old niece for the first time.
I smelled her head and kissed her cheeks pretty much without ceasing.

In empty or ugly hours: G.K. Chesterton on minimalism and gratitude

"Robinson Crusoe...owes its eternal vivacity to the fact that it celebrates the poetry of limits, nay, even the wild romance of prudence. Crusoe is a man on a small rock with a few comforts just snatched from the sea: the best thing in the book is simply the list of things saved from the wreck. The greatest of poems is an inventory. Every kitchen tool becomes ideal because Crusoe might have dropped it in the sea. It is a good exercise, in empty or ugly hours of the day, to look at anything, the coal-scuttle or the bookcase, and think how happy one could be to have brought it out of the sinking ship on to the solitary island."

- G.K. Chesterton
in Orthodoxy

I was reading this in bed last night, and as I read this passage, I did just that—looked at my pillow and imagined how it would feel to have that pillow with me if I were stranded on a desert island. I could have hugged it—my soul positively swelled with love.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas card, kind of.

Dear you,

I hope your day has been full of light, warmth, and good company. Thank you for sharing your company with me here—your thoughts, encouragement, and inspiration are such gifts.

I want to ask you something—to think about if there is a way I can be of support to you, something I can do for you this coming year, a way for me to be a better friend. Whether we are close friends or have never exchanged comments or emails yet, I would love to hear, and I really mean that, because it is just right and so good when we ask each other for what we need...and you have many other people in your life probably to ask, and I'm not perfect at anything, but still. Maybe I'm the right person for something.

That's open-ended on purpose. Consider it a standing invitation. You know where to find me.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Things that are making me happy [post-finals edition]

• late-night snow frolics with my neighbor when we were in need of study breaks

• also file under that category: episodes of Xena

• academic articles about things that I truly want to know more about

• financial support in blogging (see the update)

• new friendships and the opportunity to begin afresh

MentorCONNECT podcasts

• hugs

• sleeping under the weight and warmth of many blankets

The Secret of Kells and its soundtrack

• dancing in elevators

• keyboard shortcuts

• the word "numinous"

• facial masks while I typed my papers. to destress my skin and to keep my stressed hands off it!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What I need: [SAVE THE FOTOS Campaign]

Help paying for a renewal on my flickr pro account, which is about to expire.

It's $24.95, and it is the one unavoidable expense of blogging for me. Custom domain? Nice, but not necessary. Film and developing? Well, I can abstain from shooting film when funds get really low. (Or groceries. One of those.) But continued hosting for 1500+ fotos on this blog? Necessary. Definitely necessary.

So if you can spare a few dollars towards that, I would be so very grateful. It's not exactly up there with impoverished children, but it'll allow me to keep sharing photos with you AND buying groceries in the coming year. Woohoo!

[moolah button]


UPDATE: The photos have been saved! Thank you, Erin, Poppy, and Martin. Words cannot express my relief and appreciation.

Waking up to the first snow at school, earlier this month

Monday, December 20, 2010


"refers to a person who has 'migrated out,' but often carries a connotation of politico-social self-exile." [Wikipedia]

I wrote this word on my window last month (minus one accent aigu, oops). My metaphor. A reminder that I am on the move and things behind must be left behind. When they pull back at me, I draw a line and call them my old country. Incuding: a scant sort of language, a way of life (existing?), a few concrete objects and maybe one or two people. Whatever must be gone from my life, I say of these to myself: Already gone.

I learn like an emigrant, one who leaves, and someday like an immigrant, one who arrives. Now is the forward, the new air and its miles before my face. The in-between, where I am anchored only to my feet and my breath. Walking—expectancy—and the waking.

Week in photos (3-9)








Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ohio, part three: burying ground

Part the last. The direct morning light was too bright for the film in my camera.

Speaking of film, I am about an hour from catching my train to my plane to California for Christmas break, and I have my flatbed scanner (the one that scans negatives) in my one piece of luggage, the carry-on...haha. I don't want to pay other people to scan my film for me when I have my own, and it's not like I can wait three weeks to see what my developed negatives are OF.

3am Christina

As promised. I love the mood of this: intimately reflective, yet detached. I can't decide if I should find what she describes unhappy or not.

In Progress

Ten years ago it seemed impossible
  That she should ever grow so calm as this,
  With self-remembrance in her warmest kiss
And dim dried eyes like an exhausted well.
Slow-speaking when she has some fact to tell,
  Silent with long-unbroken silences,
  Centred in self yet not unpleased to please,
Gravely monotonous like a passing bell.
Mindful of drudging daily common things,
  Patient at pastime, patient at her work,
Wearied perhaps but strenuous certainly.
Sometimes I fancy we may one day see
  Her head shoot forth seven stars from where they lurk
And her eyes lightnings and her shoulders wings.

- Christina Rossetti

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ohio, part two: Christmas tree farm

Speaking of hosts and guests...
We chopped down a Christmas tree while I was at my Hannah's over Thanksgiving. Kind of. It's more of a sawing deal (NO axe; who would have guessed?), and I'm afraid I didn't contribute much muscle power, so that we is maybe not the right pronoun.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Being a guest is hard

I've been trying to tease out what it is about being a guest that can be so exhausting and potentially stressful. Here is what I have so far:

• sometimes you and your host spend too much time with each other and with only each other and start annoying each other

• you don't want to be boring or seem bored

• you don't know how things are usually done in the host's house

• sometimes you aren't allowed to be useful with chores etc.

• your host can get frustrated putting up with things that annoy them but not wanting to bring them up because you're The Guest

• it's uncomfortable being watched for signs of boredom/discomfort/displeasure/other things that hosts are supposed to catch and fix

• everything around foods/mealtimes/quantities gets shaken up

I think I'm getting better at doing this on my own, though―learning, especially from visiting blogger friends, how to do it in a way that both respects my introversion and stretches my socially anxious tendencies. Which is good. Because guesting is an important skill, and I really do like visiting people.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010



Yesterday. I started a 365 with my little digital point-and-shoot in August, then I lost the camera. I found it a few weeks ago. Let us begin again.

1. I'm tacking them onto my normal postings here, because I like integration.
2. They'll almost all be from this camera, I expect, so lower quality than from my film SLR. It's still just as good of an exercise for my eye, though, and that's what counts.

Read in November 2010

1. Silver on the Tree, by Susan Cooper
The final book in the The Dark is Rising sequence. A lot more fantastical than the previous four, by which I mean, much more out-of-time action, and much more explicitly, entirely otherworldly stuff, rather than things/beings which seem of this world, only with something peculiar and extra meaningful about them. It reminded me of John White's Anthropos books; it wasn't very like the others. It sort of fit that it should be more grandiose than the others, being the last book, but I didn't love it as I did the others.

2. The Golden Key, by George MacDonald
A delicate and strange little tale. I've no notion what it meant; to be honest, I don't even remember it that well a month later.

3. Bruchko, by Bruce Olson
The story of a young American (Christian) missionary to an unreached Amazon tribe. What makes it unusual—and worthy of being on my Biculturalism class's syllabus—is that he took a firm stance against being an agent of cultural imperialism. The only Western thing that he brought to them was medicine, he went alone to live with the tribe, much like an anthropologist, and he was very intentional about introducing a highly contextualized form of Christianity. His story is really interesting, but it's not great writing. Recommended for my fellow Protestants and anyone with views about jungle missionaries.

4. All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
I didn't think I'd like this, because it was required for history and it's a war novel, but it was surprisingly effecting in its portrayal of the effects of the war on the fighting generation—their loneliness and despair for the future, and their sense of being severed from their past. I only wish I'd had time to read it in the original German.

5. Selected Poems, by Christina Rossetti
Some very, very good; others rather boring. I'll post one of my favorites soon. The ones I found excellent were the ones that felt most diary-like.

6. The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales, by Arthur Quiller-Couch (I think)
My first time reading "Beauty and the Beast" and "Bluebeard" in their original entireties. Seemed like something I ought to read, just to have a few more originals under my belt as a bookworm. This is the one I found the love letter in.

7. Anne's House of Dreams, by L.M. Montgomery
My, but Anne's gotten domestic! I still like her, still enjoy the ridiculous didactism and perfectly tied-up endings, but I'm not as interested in reading about her as a wife and mother.

8. Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature, by Robin Brande
I'm not terribly fond of the "allude to significant past drama only vaguely until the middle of the book, THEN reveal all" device, and I have mixed feelings about the church-as-villain. But it's an engaging read. Best part: Casey and his family.

Got an opinion on any of these?

Friday, December 10, 2010


It looks pretty, but then you realize that there's a wrapped present at the center instead of a Baby Jesus. Hmm. Now that's social commentary, intentional or not.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Things that are making me happy

• the start of tangerine season.

• a video from my sister of her Baby Chloe smiling.

• open windows, even now, and the smell of night.

• first snow.

• writing wishes and intentions in incense smoke.

• the dear and wonderful Heather announcing that she is expecting her own bebe.

• Christmas break approaching.

• sufficient socialization. (I have recently implemented a social contact quota for myself.)

• gingerbread people.

• intuitive eating.

• talking to my German professor about study abroad options.