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
The Ritual Deaths of Third Years
Friday. 11.19.10 9:28 pm
My dream from last night:
It was the end of their third years, and several third years had decided to kill themselves. It happened a lot at the end of the third year, people just decided not to go on. The rest of us regarded the practice with a kind of resignation.
This year it was a little different for me, however, because my roommate was among them. She was unhappy in graduate school, she had had a series of disappointments, she was always worried that somehow she wasn't cutting it.
I understood her decision [in the dream]-- that's just how it went, some third years just killed themselves, you couldn't wish away reality.
The department always held a little ceremony for it, I guess to show their regret that the third years had decided to leave and to mark the occasion of their passing. This year I was supposed to help by taking tiny throwing knives and throwing them so that they would stick into the necks of the third years who had chosen to die. The throwing knife usually severed the jugular, but if it was done just right none of the blood would come out of the skin. The tip of the knife had a little bit of poison, to ease the process.
This year there were three third years that had chosen to die. I knew all three of them, and one of the others was also a friend of mine. I was sad that he had chosen this path, but I understood.
In the case of my roommate, there was a niggling feeling in the back of my brain that made something feel awry. I had never before considered that it didn't have to be this way, that I should be standing up and screaming and doing everything to prevent this from happening. But the feeling was very small.
Throwing the knives came naturally to me, and at the appointed time in the ceremony I flicked my hand and each knife pricked the necks of the waiting students, not drawing a single drop of blood. The student I didn't know very well died easily. Jeff, my other friend, lingered on for a few moments, his breath becoming strained and ragged, before finally expiring and lying in silence.
My roommate didn't die. She stayed on, weak, poisoned, lying there on her side with the little knife sticking out of her neck like an arrowhead. I walked over to her. Sadness was coming over me like a dark cloud as I contemplated my life without her. Minutes from now she would be gone, gone forever, and there would be no way to get her back. She lived on, but most of the meagre crowd that had assembled for the ceremony was filtering out, headed for the modest buffet.
She did not move, except for the faint up and down of her breathing. I leaned over her.
"Can we... can we not do this?" I said, my voice feeling deep and sad like the notes of a cello.
"Can we just... fix you now? Can I just carry you downstairs and we can fix you?"
I didn't want to do anything unless she wanted me to, because I didn't want her to spend her last moments angry with me. If this was what she wanted, I wasn't going to stop her.
But she nodded imperceptibly. Feeling heavy already, I picked her up and carried her to the first floor of the building into one of the teaching labs. One of our professors was there.
"Ah," he said, "You're saving her. Finally someone in this department has come to their senses." He left, bidding us luck and saying that he had to teach a class.
I was buoyed by his words... maybe someone else in the department felt this feeling that I was just starting to feel, that this entire tradition was CRAZY and that somebody had to do something and that we couldn't just stand there while all the third years DIED.
I layed her down gently on the black lab counter next to the sink. She was extremely pale and still. I carefully removed the arrowhead knife with a pair of large lab forceps.
I knew she would recover.
I woke up.
As I lay in bed, trying to remember where I was and what was going on, I heard my roommate moving around in the kitchen making breakfast.
The most beautiful sound in the world!!
Tuesday. 11.16.10 11:04 pm
His song came on my Pandora Radio Station.
I still associate it with him, even though it's a popular song and it's been eight years since he used to listen to it all the time.
This is the second time I've thought of him in several days, after many years of not thinking about him at all.
The first time was when I was trying to figure out why my left ear has a big lump in it. It took me forever before I remembered that day, walking back through the courtyard to our dorm, when he accidentally hit me full force in the ear with his elbow.
At the time I wondered if the bump in my ear would be there forever. I wondered if I would never be able to forget him because he maimed me.
Here's to you.
I use a piece of your old shirt as a spit-rag for my flute.
Sunday. 11.14.10 1:27 am
One day this week I wore a t-shirt, a fleece, a pair of ill-fitting pants and a knitted hat to school. I had stayed up until at least three am for the last couple of days, so I was very pale and had deep, dark circles under my eyes. I went into the restroom at work and looked in the mirror. Because of the hat I looked like I didn't have any hair, and together with the pallor and the fleece I looked exactly like a cancer patient. Full-blown, in the middle of chemotherapy, cancer patient. I told this to my friend and she agreed. Thanks, FRIEND.
But you know what I realized that is wonderful?
I realized that I can wear whatever the fuck I want.
And I can look like a chemotherapy patient if I want to, and I don't give a fuck.
Who am I trying to impress?
You don't like Australia? That's not going to stop me from wearing my jacket with the word AUSTRALIA emblazoned across the front.
You think I should wear more sweaters? FUCK YOU. I'll wear sweaters when I feel like wearing sweaters.
I lost eight pounds just because I FELT LIKE IT.
Now my pants don't fit? I'll just wear baggy-ass pants- if you don't like it, FUCK YOU.
After all, my boss is in Antarctica. The only people I ever see are the people in my lab. They already know what I look like.
I'm a fucking adult, I have a job, I buy my own clothes, I do what I want, I run with twelve gangs.
See you later, I'll be the one wearing whateverthefuckIfeellikewearing.
Saturday. 11.13.10 12:09 am
The 20s and 30s group from church decided to go to Dave and Buster's tonight. I love them because they're always doing fun things and the youth pastor comes so I get to hear about what it's really like to be a youth pastor. She's really awesome and nice and funny. The youth pastor's husband is also a pastor, and he's very forthright about what things about a pastor's life can be extremely annoying. He also swears all the time and and drinks and really likes that youtube video with all of the World of Warcraft characters singing "The Internet is for Porn". He also says "ohmygod!" a lot and talks about how his congregation is really old so he's hoping they'll all die soon so he can remake the church into a totally different type of church. HAHAHA. This 55-year old woman also comes because she's in her 20s and 30s in her heart, and she's awesome and she's always telling us these incredibly hilarious stories about growing up in Atlanta and catching crawfish, and working at a bank where the Connecticut mafia had all their money. Now she works in the jewelry business, and since its Providence, there are all kinds of sketchy dealings going on there as well. When she was threatened several times by her ex-husband, more than one person told her that they "knew a guy" who could "put you ex in the Seekonk River, if you know what I mean".
Oh, Providence, so lovable. Everyone doing each other favors all the time....
I discovered that I have a hidden talent: the JUMP-ROPE GAME. Less than 25 cents to play, I can win 300 HUNDRED tickets in a go. It's just a big oval with lights around it and you have to jump when the lights get to the bottom of the oval. Badda-bing-badda-boom, 300 hundred tickets. So I kept winning and winning, and then I played the claw game and I won a watch, and then I played the jump rope game and I got more tickets, and then I went to the store and bought a stuffed monkey and a yo-yo and a lollypop and a glittery sticker. I still had a bunch of tickets left over so we're going to go back later. We'll probably go back on Wednesday night, when all the games are half-price. We also played skeeball (epic failure), the horse racing game (almost won), and the Rambo game where we were totally dominating in Afghanistan but were destroyed in Vietnam. The DDR machine was BROKEN, so we couldn't show off our mad skillz.
Anyway, this church group rules. I guess I'll actually go to church on Sunday. :D
Wednesday. 11.10.10 11:55 pm
Looking back, I started to have yearly theme songs starting my sophomore year of high school. Here is a list of the theme songs I've had in the years since then. In this context, "theme song" just means a song I listened to over and over and over and OVER during that particular year, or one that "defines" the year because of some special meaning being attached to it. I made a special playlist for them in the sidebar.
10th grade: Only God Knows Why, Kid Rock
11th grade: I Want It That Way, The Backstreet Boys
12th grade: In the End, Linkin Park
Freshman year: two songs, Kiss Kiss by Tarkan, and What It is to Burn by Finch
Sophomore Year: Back Home, Yellowcard
Junior Year: Empty Apartment, Yellowcard
Senior Year: Bruised, Jack's Mannequin
1st Year: Bruised, Jack's Mannequin
2nd Year: Bruised, Jack's Mannequin
3rd Year: Count Bodies Like Sheep, A Perfect Circle
4th Year: Flightless Bird, American Mouth, Iron and Wine
5th Year: Heavy in Your Arms, Florence and The Machine
Yeah, I kind of got stuck for a while on "Bruised"... I still listen to it all the time, it's at the top of my most-played list along with "La Tortura".
Playlist.com didn't have Empty Apartment, I'll put it here:
Pedestrians in the Crosswalk
Monday. 11.8.10 6:35 pm
I waited patiently as a boy and a girl crossed the street in front of my car. The girl was dressed in boots, black tights, a short plaid skirt, wool coat, scarf, and a beret. Yes, you heard that right, a beret. The boy was wearing something non-descript with a wool jacket and a scarf. SoooOoo New England. I could tell within a half of a millisecond of seeing them that she was into him, but I couldn't see his face so I didn't know if the feeling was mutual.
They finally reached the other side of the street where they parted ways. She bit her bottom lip cutely, and made kind of a little skippy-jump as she stepped backwards into the street again.
RIGHT WHERE I WAS TURNING. I HAD TO SLAM ON MY BRAKES AND WAIT UNTIL THE BITCH CROSSED THE STREET AGAIN.
I made myself calm down. After all, I've felt like that before, maybe once or twice in my miserable life, and it would be a shame to kill that feeling by sending the person who felt it flying like a bowling pin before the Great Bowling Ball of Vengeance.
Or would the word I'm looking for be "satisfying"?
Saturday. 11.6.10 10:15 pm
Trips to Father’s office were normally one of Anna’s favorite activities. First of all it was on the 29th floor of an office building, which would have looked out over the entire city if it had been on the other side of the building, but which still looked out over a multitude of tiny houses and buildings that faded away into what Mother called “Kingdom Come”, which was generally a place she had to drive all over when she was doing her errands. The window stretched all the way from the floor to the ceiling, and you had to be very careful not to press your hands against the glass because Father said you might get fingerprints on the glass, and, as Anna often privately told Elizabeth, the glass might pop right out and there would be nothing to stop you from falling 29 stories to the parking lot below and breaking every single one of your bones. The office itself was a square room with a large wooden desk and a handsome leather office chair with twenty-eight identical indentations filled with brass buttons, which were perfect for using as a cash register or an elevator, as long as Father wasn’t sitting in it, and sometimes when he was. The chair sat on a smooth piece of hard plastic that allowed it to roll around on the thin gray carpet. The bottom of the plastic piece had a million tiny teeth which held it to the carpet. Anna liked peeling up the side of the plastic and pressing the teeth into her skin to make little indentations, but it was sometimes dangerous to sit behind Father there on the floor where he Can’t Even See You.
In a little room just around the corner from the office was a copy room filled with office supplies, which Father always let them use, even though Technically It Was Not Allowed. There were Post-It notes and paper clips, and little creatures that Father called “staple removers” which had spring-loaded jaws with pointy metal teeth. Those little Staple Removers, they liked to eat everything, like important papers or pencils or Elizabeth’s hair. One of their favorite foods was tacks, and if you accidentally opened a box of tacks around them you would absolutely lose control of them and you could barely hold on as they flew towards the tacks and then started gulping them down. “MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH, OH WE LOVE DELICIOUS TACKS”, they would always say. That’s how they kept their teeth so sharp.
Since the conversation she had had with Maximillian, Anna had begun to notice mathematical operators everywhere. The copy machine, for example, was a great big multiplication operator, because you put something in and then you told it how many copies you wanted and it multiplied your original papers by the number you wanted until you got a product. The paper shredder was a division machine which took one big piece of paper and divided it into little fractions of a piece of paper which you could weave into coasters for Father.
Father always let them type things on his very old typewriter, which was an addition machine because it could make letters, but it couldn’t take any of them away. The typewriter made a satisfying “clackity-clack-clack” and Elizabeth could type five hundred words per minute as long as nobody tried to read them.
Friday. 11.5.10 5:56 pm
"Well, I've been writing it for a long time, and I had a bunch of characters, and they were doing things, but I couldn't really see where it was going, and I wasn't sure what the characters were doing and why they were doing what they were doing. And then, suddenly, I realized: the whole story takes place in Lebanon during the Israel-Hezbollah War in 2006!!! Of course! And then everything suddenly made sense!"
--My Awesome Friend Bronnie
I attended the kick-off party for Nanowrimo (National Novel-Writing Month) last Saturday. I knew immediately upon entering the bar which people were from Nanowrimo... there were only two of them, but they were wearing bland grey t-shirts with slogans on them and ill-fitting jeans or stretch pants and they had glasses and really long, unstyled hair. In short: they had an air of D&D about them that was unmistakable. Especially compared to everybody else who comes to bars at noon on Saturday.
They proved to be just as socially awkward as I had expected them to be, but we managed to have a pleasant conversation until everybody else showed up and we were shown to a private room for lunch.
Our awkward introductions and brief chats about what we all do for a living when we're not writing novels quickly segued into discussing what our novels were about, what our characters were like, and what anime and comic conventions we were planning to attend in the upcoming year. I asked one fellow about what he was writing about, and he said, "I don't really want to go into it too much... I find when I tell people what I've been writing about, I lose energy to actually write it." We all nodded in complete understanding and agreement. Some people had no real idea what they were going to write about, it was just going to start going down on paper November 1st and they would see where it went.
These were people who had a multitude of characters living in their heads simultaneously. These were people who imagined situations, relationships, stories... whole WORLDS... and probably never got to talk about them. These were people who always want to begin sentences, "Yeah, that story about your friend really reminds me of something one of my characters is going through..."
But the weirdest realization was that these people were MY people, and even though I didn't know them I was ELECTRIFIED just by hearing the way they thought and knowing that I think the same way. I hadn't hung out with people like that (outside of the family) since high school. Even in high school I only had a couple of friends like that. I've been spending so much time with geologists, and they're a great bunch, but they drink beer. That's what geologists do. They look at rocks and they drink beer. They're affable, smart, and quick with a joke. Some of them think deep thoughts. We appear to connect on deep levels.
But they have a well-established standard personality type. And it isn't mine.
The Nanos all bid each other farewell, and each of us went off to begin the crazy social experiment that is Nanowrimo, but I realized that even though we were from all walks of life, ages, levels of education, jobs, social circles, fashion sense... we were all so much more like each other than we are like anyone else we hang out with.
Having lunch with them made me aware of this great big hole that had been inside me for a long time which I had forgotten all about.
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