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
Monday. 1.26.09 9:58 am
Some people you know make delightful friends, but you would never trust them to be responsible, or to take care of things that are important to you. Perhaps before you marry a guy, you should ask him to babysit your pet, or take your favorite poster on an airplane trip. At the end of the experiment your pet might be lost, or in ill repair, or perhaps even on the brink of death. Your poster might be folded, or bent and torn around all the edges. A laid-back guy who is slightly careless with his own things isn't such a terrible thing, but you'd like to believe that he was capable of taking care of things you think are valuable at the level he knows you would like them to be cared for.
Thursday. 1.22.09 10:40 pm
Today my advisor "lassoed" me with his scarf as a way of telling me that he was ready for our meeting.
Sometimes I wonder about that guy.
Advice: Lassoing your employees is never appropriate.
I wish my whole life were like this
Wednesday. 1.21.09 4:23 pm
Tuesday. 1.20.09 2:32 pm
Edward’s expression was tense, his skin taught against his features. We were all gathered in the cool warehouse that we called home, ever since the appearance of Scott and his team of vampire slayers several weeks before. Scott wasn’t the type of person you would imagine to be a vampire slayer; his large frame and stocky build would make him look more at home coaching football. I could imagine him with a whistle around his neck, yelling at players until his face turned red. The abilities of the vampire slayers had been growing in subtlety, and Scott’s recruitment effort had been fruitful. Normally we could be invisible to them on a whim, now they seemed to be conscious of our movements.
I became aware of the presence of my sister, jinyu. She was watching Ceiji, who was sleeping on a makeshift cot inside one of the many chainlink compartments that filled the center of the warehouse. Why was she here? She was still human, and it was very dangerous for her to be here, especially around violent and unpredictable Ceiji.
“I made him Japanese,” she said reaching down suddenly and hugging him. I flinched, but Ceiji did not stir, seeming to be oblivious of her presence. "I've always liked Japanese guys." She turned to me, her eyes sparkling with mischief.
“I also made him a heroin addict.” she added. As if on cue, Ceiji woke and dragged himself from the bed to a table which held the articles of his addiction. His eyes were bright and wild, and I knew heroin wasn’t his only addiction. I knew little about Ceiji, and Edward saw me eying him with interest.
“He’s a particularly dangerous type of vampire,” Edward whispered so that only I could hear. His addiction to heroin makes normal hunting difficult for him, so he developed another approach.” He moved closer to me and took my hand in his.
“There is a type of wasp,” he continued softly, “which subdues tarantulas and lays its eggs inside them. It doesn’t kill the spider, but paralyzes it so that it will be fresh when its young finally hatch and eat their way out of its body. Every year, Ceiji collects enough human victims to feed his thirst for an entire year. He paralyzes them, keeping them in a state of partial consciousness until he wants to feed. Before they die they return to full consciousness just long enough to realize what is to come.”
He gestured to the chain link compartments, which suddenly took on a much more sinister aspect in the dim warehouse light. My dim human memories recalled violently the time before I was a vampire, and the images of a hundred victims, each face unique, impassive but for their eyes which mirrored the horror of their realization. A cold shudder ran through me. I could have been one of them if Edward hadn’t saved me.
Ceiji looked up from his needle. “I always go hunting on Earth Day,” he said, “because there are so many people out in the woods.”
Earth Day. That was coming up soon- no wonder the compartments were empty. In a hazy way I remembered my old friends from the office, remembered that they were planning to pitch in and help clean up the old highway on Earth Day. No.
Edward and I left the warehouse at a run, but a short time later we were being followed by one of the vampire slayers, Nancy, who used to be my Christian fellowship leader in another life. Before I became a creature of the darkness. If only she knew that Edward and I were trying to save the humans, not destroy them! She was new to the trade, but she was a quick learner. Behind Scott, our group feared her most for her potential. I became invisible as I ran past her. She took a quick sniff of the air and seemed to catch my scent. As I ran past she put her hand out and it ran along my cold skin. She wasn’t supposed to be able to do that. She was learning too quickly.
The chase was on. I was running from her, no longer towards my friends but in any direction, feinting, charging, circling, anything to lose her. Edward and I had split up to confuse her; I had no idea where he had gone. I circled back towards him, wishing that he could read my mind but knowing it was impossible. I was getting tired—I wasn’t supposed to get tired. Raggedly I called up to the sky. “jinyu,” I said impatiently, “There is no way she would be able to run that fast. I should have outrun her a long time ago.” From the firmament I heard an uncertain sound.
I had realized that this was one of jinyu’s stories—jinyu had created Ceiji, jinyu had brought the vampire slayers down upon us… jinyu had made Ceiji a heroin addict, and the rest of Ceiji’s twisted attributes had fallen out in a natural progression a result of this flaw. She was The Author, and it was she who was making Nancy fast enough to stay with me now. All of my problems were the result of some outgrowth of my sister's twisted imagination. But I was not only a character, in my role as jinyu's sister I was also an Editor, which is why I had been able to see her in the warehouse but no one else had reacted to her presence. In my opinion as character and Editor, this drawn-out chase scene needed some trimming. As jinyu mulled over the logic of Nancy’s inhuman speed, I kept running. I had to, there was no respite. I entered an old barn to see a machine like a cross between a mini-cooper and a ski slope groomer. I ran out again; that thing looked too slow and there was a possibility that it wouldn’t start. I ran around a pond and up a hill, all the while feeling helplessly slow despite what should have been supernatural speed. I reached another building, and inside was the exact same vehicle as before.
“You want me to drive this, don’t you?” I asked the sky. “You’re basically DMing me into this, aren’t you?” My tone was accusing. In the manner of a Dungeon Master, she had planned something for this car, and if I didn’t choose to explore it the first time around, she would just move the event so that eventually I would get there. “Well,” she reasoned, “I worked really hard on this part. It would be a huge waste if you didn’t drive it.”
Only seconds ahead of my pursuer, I jumped into the vehicle and fired it up. As I suspected, the tank-like treads of the machine made it drive very slowly. I could run faster, I thought. Nancy had started up another of the same vehicle and was chasing me again.
“Too much chasing,” I said critically, “I should have definitely gotten away by now.” There was no answer from the sky, and I became suddenly terrified that the intent wasn’t for me to escape at all. Was jinyu forcing me into bad decisions so that I would fail? That can’t be fair—wouldn’t that be out of character for me? Or maybe it was in character for me to make bad decisions….
I realized that jinyu had made me no guarantee that I would live through this story.
Then I woke up. Clearly I'm the one with the twisted imagination.
Friday. 1.16.09 7:16 pm
My two compadres had to make sure to get back to the hotel early enough tonight so that they could skype their parents and their girlfriends and get a good night's sleep. Are you kidding me? We're in FRANCE! You're going to go on freaking SKYPE so you can Skype your freaking girlfriend, whom you are seriously going to see again in like 1.5 days???
Seriously, my boyfriend is mighty lucky he doesn't exist, because I would call that guy when I got freakin' BACK to Providence. Maybe if I was going to be gone longer than a week, I would send him an email. I guess I should be happy for them because they're all obsessed-with-each-other-in-love and all that. But seriously people, seriously. Don't they run out of things to talk about? There ain't NOBODY I call with such frequency. Is there something wrong with me for that?
Whatever. I hate talking on the phone.
I told them that I didn't think I could date a guy who had all my same interests because no matter how much I liked someone, if I spent all my time with one person I would go completely INSANE! They told me that that was probably a good thing, since there were likely very few guys who did fluid mechanics, geology, french and javanese gamelan.
The Qdoba of Crêperies
Thursday. 1.15.09 4:21 am
I squinted into the low light. The worse my vision got, the more frustrating it became to wait for someone. Anyone could be him. Why there he is, bending over just so, perhaps he dropped his scarf! Or there he could be, but who is the girl he is with? There he comes, with his brother, oh but too tall, that one. I worry faintly that I won’t recognize him when the moment comes, that too long an absence has changed him or dulled his image in my head.
And there he is. So familiar, he sticks out of the crowd like a beacon, looking so American with his broad grin and complexion ruddy with overflowing happiness. An American in Paris! I run to him and give him a large hug. But he isn’t American, not completely. He scolds me laughingly and says, “That’s the American way! We are in France so we must do it the French way!” Bisou, bisou, et comment ça va? A fine tradition of France. He tells me that his brother originally had plans for tonight, then cancelled them so he could come to see me, then fell ill and couldn’t do anything at all. I express my condolences. “I just laughed at him,” he says, in the manner of brothers.
We are eating overstuffed dinner crêpe at a small crêperie. He calls it the Qdoba of crêperies. He says some people know him for five months before they become suspicious that he isn’t completely American. He says usually it is when he says the word “salmon”, because he can’t help pronouncing the “l”.
“I don’t know where that makes me from, but the word has an l and I’m going to pronounce it!”
He admits that some people catch him right away. “Out of 10,000 people, how are they the ones who notice? What is it that they notice?”
“With those people, I may talk about salmon too soon,” he muses.
We think about the last time we saw each other. It wasn’t so long ago, but it was still before he even met her, his other half. The last time we were together, he didn’t even know she existed. I wonder if I had told him under what circumstances we would next meet if he could ever had fathomed so much happening in slightly over two and a half years.
“What is that beautiful building?” I ask as we walk along the narrow Parisian street, warming our hands on our dessert crêpes, mine Nutella and banana, his chocolate and banana. He thinks it is the Pantheon, and a nearby street sign proves him right. He tells me that Victor Hugo was buried there, the Curies might be buried there, and someone like Descartes was possibly buried there as well. He points out a nearby church. “She and I were walking here one night, and we came upon a great crowd with children playing music and everything… turned out the Pope was here!” I am impressed. “Do you see how I just name-dropped the Pope just there?” he adds, grinning. “I didn’t actually see the Pope. But he was there. ”
The front of the Pantheon was even more gorgeous than the back. “Someday, I, too, will be buried here,” he concludes with a grandiose sweep of his arm. The front of the Pantheon was still adorned with the memory of Christmas, with a grove of trees and ornaments and baubles and velvet bows hanging from their branches. The street bowed around the entrance to the grand building, and as we approached its apex, the hill fell away towards Paris and the Eiffel tower came dramatically into view, lit up against the night and framed by the buildings.
“I didn’t know that would happen,” he says. “I promise I didn’t secretly take you on a romantic walk,” he assures me. He points out the great libraries of La Rue des Ecoles, this one of the Sorbonne, this one languages of the Arabic world. For my part, I took him to see Jussieu, where the lab I am visiting is located. It is a great monolith of concrete, metal and asbestos, surrounded by a moat built after student riots almost destroyed the university in the 1970s. Now large iron gates lock the students out after hours, and the only way in any other time is by spindly bridges that arch across the moat through spiked metal gates. There was a sculpture garden full of tired, filthy, pale blue, metal amoebas on sticks, crowded by geometric temporary classroom spaces decorated with primary colors.
“Someday,” I said, gesturing, “I will be buried here.”
He said someday he would come back with his new wife and see the things properly when the gate was open, and his only explanation for the more than forty-five minute trip would be that this girl he knows said they were awesome.
When we reached Le Metro, we laughed raucously with American abandon, made jokes about conquistadors, and generally talked much too loud, making a promise that we wouldn’t let this much time go by again, that we would take our long-planned vacation in Montreal, and other promises that neither of us had any idea if we could keep. We said goodbye in the American way.
Tuesday. 1.13.09 8:20 pm
Despite Europe's many charms, It will always stand out in my mind as a place of thirst. Thirst, thirst, constant, parching thirst.
A desperate mental measuring of the tiny, expensive bottle placed before me to be partitioned among my companions. The wave of horror when realizing that a bottle is heavily carbonated and no more able to quench my thirst than ever-present alcohol.
Water, water, there will never be enough water here.
I will always go thirsty.
Monday. 1.12.09 5:18 pm
We strolled past the Louvre and through the Tuilleries gardens. The snow was packed down so well by the thousands of passing feet that it looked like the marble statues were ice skating. Everything was blindingly white. We finally ended up at the large ferris wheel they have constructed at the edge of La Place de la Concorde, where we pooled our change and shared une gaufre avec chocolat (a chocolate-covered waffle). We were torn between the ferris wheel and les bateaux mouches, but we finally rushed down to the Seine to buy tickets for the river boat.
I had la soupe du jour and a baguette and he had a pain au chocolat, and we drifted down the Seine beneath the many-storied bridges as the sun slowly set behind the Eiffel Tower.
He tasted my soup and munched on his pain au chocolat.
"You know that country song?" he said, "About Paris and Rome?"
"You mean, and I want to go home... ?
"Is that how you feel now?" I asked.
He shook his head. "Naw, now I'm having fun.
I might feel that way tomorrow."
He looked at me with a peculiar expression. I knew if I were Katie and not me then this moment would be perfect for him.
"I miss you, you know..."
We scurried off the boat and strolled down the avenue towards les Champs Elysees. Most of the restaurants were closed since it was late on Sunday, but you could still see the restaurant owners inside enjoying a meal with their friends.
We found a small place, beautifully decorated with dark wood and red furnishings. I requested a corner and we sat on a red velvet couch around a small square table. I ordered frogs' legs for myself and roast duck for him and we split them. The frogs' legs tasted like almost pure fat, and it was strange to tear their little perfectly-formed calves and thighs off of their fragile little bones and pop them into your mouth. The duck was dark and oily and delicious. I ordered us a grande bouteille d'eau, which little did we know would only be about a liter and cost nearly $10. Other than two older men having an animated conversation and several bottles of wine and the restaurant owners, we were the only people in the place.
We meandered down to les Champs-Elysées, where the avenue was still lit up brilliantly for Christmas, with the shining ferris wheel at one end and L'Arc de Triomphe in la Place de l'Étoile at the other. I had to resist the urge to burst into song:
Je m'baladais sur l'avenue le cœur ouvert à l'inconnu
J'avais envie de dire bonjour à n'importe qui
N'importe qui et ce fut toi, je t'ai dit n'importe quoi
Il suffisait de te parler, pour t'apprivoiser
Aux Champs-Elysées, aux Champs-Elysées
Au soleil, sous la pluie, à midi ou à minuit
Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Elysées
In this case the rain was just holding off and it was closer to midnight than noon. We bought some fruit and cheese for breakfast and chocolate bars and petites bouteilles du vins for when we got back. We waited for a bit while the manager had to pry open the cash register drawer with a pair of scissors. I managed to buy us each a week-long metro pass so we could feel free to flit about the city during the rest of our week.
He offered me one of the little plastic glasses he had in his bathroom. I declined and he smirked. "My grandma don't need glasses," he recited, "she still drinks from the bottle!"
Needless to say, we were drinking, and one thing led to another, and the next thing I knew I was back in my room reading "Breaking Dawn" until I passed out at 9 pm.
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