So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Ethnicity. that of my father and his father before him
Location Altadena, CA
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The Link To Zanzibar's Past
This is my page in the beloved art community that my sister got me into:
Extra points for people who know what Samarinda is.
The Phases of the Moon Module
The Tree and the Telephone Pole
I Do Not Know Their Names
Today I am Young
A Night Poem
Siren of the Sea
If I Were a Dragon
To the Dreamers Leave the Sky
The Honor of the Oyster
Return From San Diego
A Late Summer's Night
Of Dragons and Men
The Edge of the World
The Snake's Terror
Metaphysics and the Middaymoon
Of Adventures in Foreign Lands
The Rogue Wave: The Unedited Version
Adventures in the PRC
Voyage of Discovery
Drinking the Blood of Goats
Ticket for a Phantom Bus
Os peixes nadam o mar
Three Villages Far Away
The River Weser
Children I Should Have Kidnapped, Part I
Let's Get You Out of Those Clothes
If Underwear Could Speak
Croc Hunter/Combat Wombat
Only My Favorite Baseball Player EVER
Aw, Larry Walker, how I loved thee.
M: Science and Exploration
T: Cook a nice dinner
Th: Parties, movies, dinners
F: Picnics, the Louvre
S: Read books, go for walks, PARKOUR
Su: Philosophy, Religion
The Reading List
This list starts Summer 2006
A Crocodile on the Sandbank
Tales of the Alhambra (in progress)
Dark Lord of Derkholm
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Lost Years of Merlin
Harry Potter a l'ecole des sorciers (in progress)
Atlas Shrugged (in progress)
A Long Way Gone (story of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone- met the author! w00t!)
The Eye of the World: Book One of the Wheel of Time
From Magma to Tephra (in progress)
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Harry Potter 7
The No. 1 Lady's Detective Agency
Introduction to Planetary Volcanism
A Child Called "It"
Is Multi-Culturalism Bad for Women?
Americans in Southeast Asia: Roots of Commitment (in progress)
What's So Great About Christianity?
Aeolian Dust and Dust Deposits
The City of Ember
The People of Sparks
When I was in Cuba, I was a German Shepard
The Golden Compass
Clan of the Cave Bear
The 9/11 Commission Report (2nd time through, graphic novel format this time, ip)
The Incredible Shrinking Man
The Elves of Cintra
The Gypsy Morph
Animorphs #23: The Pretender
Animorphs #25: The Extreme
Animorphs #26: The Attack
A Journey to the Center of the Earth
A Great and Terrible Beauty
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
To Sir, With Love
Alice in Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Hunger Games
Shadows and Strongholds
The Jungle Book
Beatrice and Virgil
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
No One Ever Told Us We Were Defeated
The Name of the Wind
Tao Te Ching
What Paul Meant
Lao Tzu and Taoism
Sand and Sandstones
Lost Christianites: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
The Science of God
Great Contemporaries, by Winston Churchill
City of Bones
Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne
Stranger in a Strange Land
The Old Man and the Sea
Flowers for Algernon
Au Bonheur des Ogres
The Road to Serfdom
De La Terre à la Lune (ip)
In the Light of What We Know
Devil in the White City
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
How to Be a Good Wife
A Mote in God's Eye
want to read: Last Hunger Games Book, Honeybee Democracy, The Bell Jar
let it go
Tuesday. 5.2.06 2:48 am
To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.
The Tale of the Lizard
Monday. 5.1.06 12:06 am
Today Ranor and I were walking from my room towards the West. We ran into a group of people whose attention was directed at the ground, where what looked like a small snake was writhing wildly in the leaves by the side of the path. On closer inspection of both their horrified faces and the creature on the ground, it became apparent that it was not a snake at all, but the severed tail of a lizard. One of the passersby had accidentally stepped on its tail as it went dashing past, and as a natural escape mechanism, the tail came off and the lizard went on without it.
The tail, though, the tail continued to flicker, writhe, squirm, shy away from the people standing around it, and was seemingly trying to locomote a short distance onto the path. It looked like it was in extreme pain, like the kitten Caroline, Michael and I saw get run over one day while we were delivering the newspaper. Only the kitten was spurting blood in wild spasms all over the pavement, and in the lizard tail blood only evident in a strange stasis at the edge of the severed end, the scales still sitting ready like it was at the end of a stack of circular grey lego pieces, white bone shining from the center even as its sticky surface began picking up leaves and dirt from the pavement.
Its gyrations were wild and panicked, all of us who had stopped and looked were unable to look away. Finally one girl couldn't take it anymore and felt sick. The long tail crawled onto the pavement like an earthworm, its bloody end seeming to look around for a moment to find the best path. Was it looking for its body? Where was its body? I told Ranor that we should leave, that maybe when we were gone the lizard would come back out and calm and recollect its tail and this horror would be over. Another group of passersby asked if it would grow back. They wondered if a new lizard would grow out of the severed tail. The lizard may live, but it will never again have a tail like it did. Its chance of survival will be greatly reduced. The days of the large Claremont lizards are numbered.
As I skated away, my mind turned to the lizard, hiding in the bushes, watching in utter horror as his predators pointed at and chatted about the part of his body desperately wrenching for upwards of 5 minutes in the middle of the sidewalk. For us, this event was an interesting story, a gross little anecdote, maybe something to bring up with our ecology professors on Monday. For the lizard, his one misstep, his split second decision to cross the path when he did has changed the course of his entire life. Like that one side-kick that broke my leg and changed the course of my life for the next four years... like that one patch of ice that Catherine didn't see which broke her jaw and knocked out all of her teeth... like that one left turn you go for because you think you can make it........ the one split-second decision that you have to live with for the rest of your life.
One split second decision that takes you from someone together and full and whole and complete to pieces: one private one, hiding in the bushes in perfect shock
and the other for the public to gawk at, to tell stories about. One part of you left there writhing blindly, madly, mindlessly, on the sidewalk for all to see.
Tout doucement, sans faire de bruit
Wednesday. 4.26.06 1:55 am
Well college is wrapping up. Track is over. I saw Tycen after the meet, he pulled his hamstring on his last jump. He had been in first, going for his fourth all-SCIAC win in a row. There were very few athletes who had the distinction of winning the league competition in anything four years in a row. There was only one person left, set to try his third jump after two misses. Mark, who has been second to Tycen for all these years. He made the jump and afterwards the jump to win it. Tycen could not contest because he couldn't jump. Tycen's hair is a little long right now so it hangs over his face when he's looking down. His dad came over and put his hand on his son's shoulder. I think for the first time ever, his dad wasn't trying to coach him anymore, it was just a moment of acknowledging the thing that had just happened. Because what coaching was there left to give? It was The Last High Jump, it was The Last Track Meet. "So that's it. The last track meet..." I said later. I paused. "...kind of soul crushing, isn't it?" I added softly. He looked at me and said, "yeah" in a way that let me know that the feelings going through his body were exactly the same going through mine. Something that Shan, ever by his side, just couldn't begin to ever understand.
My performance was mediocre (~89ft), I was several feet off of the top-ten mark in hammer. Right before my second throw Kirk went off to see another event. He'd told me once about how he had a girl who used to always throw in the upper 90s but she could never clear the 100ft mark. In her final meet, they got down to her final throw, and he told her to yell when she threw the hammer. She yelled a huge, embarrassing yell, and scored about 103ft. I always kind of imagined that would be the way my last hammer throw would go, Kirk and I conspiring together to make the last throw an amazing one, like a little team of two. But then he left, and didn't come back. Nobody from my school was anywhere around except for me, and though my throw was the longest of the day, it fell short. I didn't yell.
And today, as I walked out of that brand new Redlands stadium, on my way to my car, I thought about The Last Track Meet, and I thought about how this is the way the world ends...
this is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends
not with a bang, but with a whimper
Friday. 4.21.06 12:18 am
Yesterday my advisor Bob and I flew from California to Boston. We stopped over in Salt Lake City, which, by the way, is completely GORGEOUS and ringed with snowy mountains, and if it weren't so full of Mormons, I might move there tomorrow. But we stopped into the tavern and ate some California Pizza Kitchen and had a beer known as the Polygamy Porter (why have just one?). I don't like beer but it was more of the principle of the thing and we ate and got on the plane and went to Boston. I saw Cheaper by the Dozen: 2 which was actually really good. Steve Martin does it again. Then we got into Boston really late and they didn't have a car for us at the rental place. We had to get driven to the Budget rental place where they gave us our choice between a Ford Taurus, a Chevy Impala or something, and a Sebring Convertible. Bob chose the Taurus because he thought the convertible was extra, but it totally wasn't! shucks! He thought the ford and the chevy were two equally unappealing choices, but the ford has leather seats and a moon roof. Then we stayed at the Red Roof Inn, which is must nicer than the Red Carpet Inn apparently. We stayed on different floors in different buildings, and we woke up and got going around 11:30. Then we drove across the state of Massachusetts, had lunch, checked into the hotel, hung around for a while checking email and stuff, went to the butterfly pavillion, took some pictures, went to a rock shop, checked that out, climbed a nearby mountain, pranced back down, Bob seriously almost fell off a cliff when he was looking for a place to go to the bathroom, I pranced too energetically and slid down the mountain on a pile of slippery leaves, we survived, then we went out to dinner and Bob had some beers to prepare himself for the really long meeting that was about to happen, I had vegetarian food because I feel a little self conscious eating big pulled pork sandwiches in front of vegetarians, we went to the meeting, I got to sit with the kiddies and watch the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" which is laughable from a geologist's point of view, and he got to discuss things like the budget hahaHAha sucks for him.
Then we went back and here I aM!
Sunday. 4.16.06 6:30 pm
This morning I woke up and it was Easter. I got dressed in my new dress and went to church with Kristi and Lauren. In the foyer of the church there was a bake sale going on, with lots of exchanging of money and goods. It made me think of that part in the Bible when Jesus finds people selling goods inside the temple and he throws the tables over and yells, "My father's house is not a marketplace!"
We went in for the service and they lectured us about how good diversity is, how gay marriage should be allowed, how the Easter story was probably made up by Peter and company (because their faith was so strong that the resurrection story was a manifestation of it, not the reason for it). The paster addressed us as his "liberal friends" and "the progressive church". It reminded me of how my dad says that the liberals are going to ruin the word "progressive" just as surely as they ruined the word "liberal". I remembered that one Easter years ago when I told them I'd like to be a member and they told me I could only do that if I renounced my membership in my childhood church. I told them I certainly wasn't going to do that, and the conversation fizzled. They own more than 10 thousand dollars worth of hand bells. That's three complete sets, including gloves. I thought about that Extreme Makeover House Addition: Hurricane Katrina where they rebuilt the church and the pastor cried when he saw the kitchen because it was full of enough food to feed all of the poor, desperate people of his city and parish. That's what his church did, it fed the hungry, gave the children a place to go that wasn't into a gang. I don't think they own a set of hand bells.
After church we went strolling in the village and I bought a bouquet of snapdragons for $3. I won't be able to do that when I live in Rhode Island. But Carol made me feel much better about moving there; her grandmama lives there and owns two boogie boards. The ocean isn't as cold there as it is here. There are also many shells to be collected, says Carol. That's all I needed to hear to make my final decision to go to Brown. If there would be an opportunity for me to meander along the beach, collecting shells, then I could live in Rhode Island. All I need is an image of how I might live in a place to consider living there. In St. Louis, I could imagine myself sneaking to the Forest Park in the middle of the night and swimming out to the gazebo in the middle of the tiny lake. The gazebo has steps and benches for sitting, but no bridge to land and no boats. So what is the gazebo for, then? Of course it is there so that I can swim to it. I told Darren that I would swim there, lie on my back on the benches, and think very deep, philosophical and romantic gazeboid thoughts. I could see myself skateboarding to the gym (they would know immediately that I was from California!), filming a short film about people living in a castle among the parapets of the old cathedral, and sitting in one of the chairs in the cold geology building foyer, my legs over one side and my laptop burning my thighs, books and papers all over the floor.
At Brown I could see myself sitting on the tightly wound spiral staircase, having a long conversation. I could see myself taking a picture with the statue of Marc Antony that points into Jim's office from the main square. I could imagine strolling down the river when they light the bowls in the middle of the river on fire and send them downstream in the wintertime.
Since these were the only two places I could imagine myself living, I knew it would be between them. But could I really live in Providence? I couldn't see myself drinking coffee at the oh-so-Northeastern independent coffee shops. I couldn't see myself hanging out at the neighborhood pub, it seemed sad and crowded. But yes. I could see myself walking along those eastern beaches, collecting shells, boogie boarding. It is a passive continental margin, you know. That's why there are so many shells. Fossils, too, if we could get to them.
I came home and I'm supposed to work. I am very far behind. Instead I designed a new geology department t-shirt and looked at my snapdragons, making their pollen-filled mouths yap open and closed with my fingers. By the end of tonight I must have my math journal written up and my poster finished.
All this talk of work makes me sleepy. Time for a nap.
I HATE WHINING
Saturday. 4.15.06 9:43 am
Sometimes what you think "should happen" doesn't happen. Sometimes your physics lab just isn't the best run physics lab. Frankly this is less our fault and more you making lots of mistakes in Excell and then refusing to acknowledge that they are mistakes, or being unwilling to really look for them. Maybe if you hadn't done all the math in your head, maybe if you do the spreadsheet step by step like I tell you to, then you wouldn't have these problems. Then you would have more time to comprehend the lab, which apparently you can't. Maybe you would comprehend it better if you had actually been listening when the prof was explaining it at the beginning of class. The point is, saying things like, "This lab is soo poorly run" and "This is the worst lab I have ever taken in my life" and things of that manner are not only completely irrelevant, but they are extremely annoying. The fact of the matter is, life is rarely run "how it ought to be run" especially, I'll guess right now, according to you. Does bitching and moaning about it change that fact? No, it doesn't. But it does make the journey for everyone around you that much more taxing, because they not only have to deal with the problem, but they have to listen to you bitch bitch bitching all the time. "Oh, I'm Mister Complainy Complainerson, and if I were in charge of this lab, I would do things differently!" Guess what. Not in charge of the lab. If you were in charge of the lab, you would probably have guessed that your students could do simple Excell calculations without screwing them up all the time. So SUCK. IT. UP.
It's like those stupid girls next to me when the ship was sinking on Semester at Sea. They were like, "If my mom were here, I totally wouldn't be sitting on this floor in my life jacket anymore. She would have demanded to speak to the captain and she would have taken care of this. I shouldn't have to deal with this."
Uh, ok, so what do we learn from this statement? That you're a huge baby who needs her mommy to do everything for her? That your mom is an imperious bitch? That she walks around with a sense of entitlement, thinking that for some unknown reason she should get different treatment than everyone else? That if this were the time of the slaves, she would be the worst person in the entire world to be a slave for? Congratulations on having a mom that embodies every trait of the upper class that makes the lower class want to have Marxist revolutions. Now sit your ass down on the floor like everyone else, because the captain is busy, the floor is the only safe place to be right now, you are not any better than anyone else on this boat, and your Mommy isn't here.
Thankfully, on the other side of the coin we find students like Caroline. Sweet, soft-spoken (but confident), she took the data that they had, asked the relevant questions, wrote down the equations on the board when the prof wrote them (and before she erased them), and diligently worked her way through the lab's problems, while her lab partners threw up their hands, insulted everyone who ran the lab in a loud voice and stormed out of the room (only to quietly come back in when nobody came out there to get her).
Yes, I almost said something like, "You need to change your attitude real quick, missy." but then I would have sounded like a middle school teacher. Which, frankly, sometimes I feel like.
Tuesday. 4.11.06 11:43 pm
Quelque fois je me demande <
Life and how I suck at it
Friday. 4.7.06 1:40 am
So there was this guy in my class. Kind of a big guy, not gonna lie, not good eating habits, either. He'd sit down around 9:35 and drink a 20oz rootbeer and eat a tray of mini doughnuts, he'd take the hunger that was brewing in your empty stomach and make it so you weren't hungry for lunch. He was always complaining about feeling crappy, not loudly complaining, really, but just telling the prof "I really just don't feel well right now, I'm going to leave" and then he'd leave. We were all aghast at how he'd just get up and walk right out of class. We didn't know how he was going to graduate seeing as he often didn't come to class at all and we didn't know him from adam til he showed up sometime last year saying how he was going to graduate with us. On our field trip we couldn't get to the outcrop we were looking for because he couldn't climb the steep trail anymore. He was terribly winded and walked very slowly. Mike said something in the kindest way possible about had he ever considered getting into better shape or taking better care of himself so that he'd be better able to do stuff like this. For a geologist, it's a bit of a requirement to be able to walk around in the field. In sum, we all judged him. We didn't talk about him behind his back, we didn't call him out on his coming to class anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour late (for an 1:15 long class) every day... but we did look at each other incredulously from time to time, and I did judge him, I'll admit that I did, in my mind. Every day.
He isn't such a bad guy when you talk to him and he's got a lot of geologic knowledge stored in his mind, but the quality of his work, the tardiness of his arrival to class, the apparent lack of respect he had for his professors and his body... I judged him silently for all of these things, perhaps more than anybody.
Then the other day we were talking about some visiting alums and how well we'd known them before they graduated and whether we'd had classes with them. He had, he said. They were actually in his year, so he had class with them freshman year, but since he took that year of medical leave, they graduated ahead of him and he hadn't had classes with them since. He returned to school, he said, just in time to see them graduate.
Was that why I hadn't ever met him before this year? Was it possible that he hadn't just shown up in the department with a year and a half to finish a much more demanding major and declared to the department that he was going to graduate this year whether they thought it was possible or not, like the story went? Of course... that's why he doesn't appear in our freshman book....
He said he had a terrible headache. He was thinking he might just leave lab. But my curiousity had been piqued. Medical leave for what? I said, "Oh, that's terrible, headaches are the worst. Do you get them a lot?"
And he said that he did get them a lot, all the time.
"oh, it's just from the chemo."
"How often do you have to... do the..."
"the what? Oh, the chemo? It's every other day. It's a pill. It's terrible."
and then he did a little more work quietly, and then he left.
The headaches? The not coming to class? The inability to do strenuous activity? The weight gain? It all fell into place the way the last five puzzle pieces fall into a thousand piece puzzle. And it was one of those times where you catch yourself in the act of being a real asshole. When you've been skating along thinking of yourself as a nice person when in reality you have a long, long way to go.
I was reminded of a quote that I hold dear to my heart but don't always read often enough:
"To know all is to understand all, and this leaves no room for judgment and condemnation."
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