Posts Tagged ‘Relationships’

The past week, I’ve been listening to a rather wonderful audiobook called East, a retelling of the Norwegian folktale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” by Edith Pattou, which is essentially the Nordic version of Beauty and the Beast. Essentially… well, okay. This needs its own separate paragraph.

Essentially, a young girl named Rose lives with her family in ancient Norway. Her sister Sarah becomes extremely sick and her family is going bankrupt when one night a white bear appears at the front door and offers to make the family prosperous again and to heal Sarah if Rose will come away with him. Despite her family’s protests, Rose goes with the white bear to Fransk, or France, to live in a huge castle within a mountain. Of course, she comes to love the white bear, and it’s very Beauty and the Beast, but very original and with lots of new twists. For instance, the man who had been turned into a white bear had been transformed by the Troll Queen who lived in the farthest reaches of the north with all of her troll subjects. The Troll Queen is very beautiful, powerful, and smart, and also very politically intelligent.

Even though I positively loved Rose for her spunk, ingenuity, and sturdiness of both body and mind, apparently the idea of the Troll Queen got pushed deep into my psyche because last night, I dreamed that I was something very much like her. I was beautiful, with long straight hair and always wearing lovely ball gowns. There was a prince who was visiting from another realm who had come with a delegation to my castle, and apparently a marriage between us was a desirable political move for my family.

So what did I do? Did my absolute best to make him fall in love with me, using feminine arts that in real life would have either been totally ridiculous or utterly impossible for my personality. For example: walking straight up to him, entwining my arms around his neck, and forcing him into a rather nice kiss.

(Here’s the funny thing about whenever I kiss someone in a dream… which, of course, is the only way I’m kissing anyone. Every time, I nearly immediately realize at that point that it is a dream—har, har—and then I find myself kissing… nothing. They disappear, whether it’s some nameless prince or Damon Salvatore or Doctor Who or, rather less than pleasantly, Ron Weasley. Last night, when I kissed the prince, I found myself kissing the curtains where I, uh, might have shoved him. Innocently. Very innocently.)

Later, I was talking to my nurse maid/advisor—another throwback to the Troll Queen, who had one of these nurse maid/advisor people—and she accused me of hunting him down like a vixen. Yeah, she used those words. My brain is insane.

“But I actually do like him, too,” I told her. This was true. He was shy and quiet and totally terrified of my advances. It was sort of fun.

Anyways. Ah-hem.

Another Snell post coming tomorrow.

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Today at work, there was absolutely nothing to do. So my boss made me sort crayons by colors into Ziploc baggies.

Somehow, this is not exactly what I expected from the Children’s summer aide program.

Here’s the next installment of Snell. Let me know what you think! (And even if you’re getting to the end of these posts….)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The next few days consisted mostly of contractors. They seemed pretty similar to movers, to me—men with weather-beaten faces and deep, permanent tans with eyes that had a tendency to wander a little bit too much, as far as I was concerned. I made their lemonade sour enough to etch copper after I caught one of them snapping a picture of Mom’s butt with his phone while she was bending over to check something under the kitchen sink.

Luckily, the head contractor, a man who didn’t seem to have a name and simply went by The Boss, struck up a friendship with Mom immediately. Apparently, he had read Hans the Great and thought it was absolutely the most brilliant thing since plaid work shirts. It also turned out that he fancied himself a writer as well, and he and Mom struck up a deal that if she would give him writing lessons once a week, then he would provide the labor to fix up the house for half the normal price.

“He doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into!” Mom laughed when she told me about their agreement. “Me being a teacher! Ha! It’s like… like… Bill Clinton being a virgin!”

Bill Clinton similes were one of my Mom’s favorite things in the universe.

At some point, the house stopped being just the house and became The House. I can’t remember when exactly that was, but it might have been when I discovered that there were three faucets in the sink in the downstairs bathroom, or that you could only access the tiny room at the top of the turret staircase through a trapdoor, or that the heavy beams crossing the peaked living room ceiling were carved to look like Oriental dragons.

However, my favorite part of the entire house was my room. I insisted that the first thing the contractors did, after making Mom’s room down the hall livable, was clean out the massive bird nest in the wide window seat and replace the panes in the window itself and get rid of the rather terrifying spider webs that clogged every corner. I put my sleeping bag in the window seat once the room no longer had anything living in it besides me and slept there every night where I could see the moon setting over the time-old hills.

Apart from the window seat, there was a niche next to the closet for a desk where another small window opened up onto the tangled remains of a garden in the backyard. The ceiling was so steeply peaked that on either side of the room, it sloped down to less than a foot above the floor. Beyond the window seat, the window opened up onto the balcony I had spotted the very first night, which was rather strange to me, considering you had to clamber up onto the seat before you could get out. But I loved it, and that room alone made Mom’s insane decision worth it—mostly.

Having spent most of my life either in self-imposed solitary confinement or with Mom, which I suppose was somewhat like having a creative and usually cheerful roommate in a mental ward, suddenly having the contractors in our house from around eight til five was something of a… shock, you might say. I could never decide who was more embarrassed, me or the one Latino worker, when I forgot to close the bathroom door while I was showering (with the clear curtain pulled across the tub, of course). He only worked on the roof after that, which I suppose I would have done, too, if the rest of the house was booby-trapped with naked underage girls.

But I mostly got used to it. Mostly got used to it, that is, until the day before I started work.

I was making my way down the spiral staircase in the turret down to the kitchen table to rustle up some cereal for breakfast. Let me preface this by saying that I looked rough. Not the kind of rough that girls think they look like when missed a few hairs with the straightener or didn’t coat every single eyelash with perfectly even mascara. I mean rough like what is that Thing? When I was younger, my mom used to call me her little changeling, which I assume now is because I looked like a troll when I got out of bed. I’ll let you do the imagining, but if you think you looked bad after that night you got so trashed you just prayed that dancing naked on the bar table was the worst of what you did, think again.

He was helping The Boss fill in some molding around the window that was over the kitchen sink, his back to me. I didn’t pay much attention—one man’s body in a plaid work shirt was the same as the next. But as I was getting the cereal down from atop the tallest shelf, he turned around.

And I promptly dropped the cereal box. The open cereal box, which obliged me by spilling its whole grain guts across the floor like it had been hit with a nuclear warhead, the traitor.

We looked at each other, both wearing the blank expression that one gets when a large mess has suddenly been created and no one wants to clean it up. You know what I’m talking about.

“Oh, crap,” he said, looking at the carnage on the floor. “Let me… I’ll get that for you.”

At this point, had I gone to public school or lived in a town where the company of other home-schoolers could be tolerated for longer than the time it took to say Homos Go to Hell, I would have protested. No, it was my fault, let me clean it up. I’m a total klutz, don’t mind me. Oh yes, thanks for handing me the broom. Your eyes are really pretty, by the way.

But, alas, I just stood there like a skewered pig and watched as he tried to sweep up the cereal with a moth-eaten broom that scattered more of the flakes than it gathered. An entire civilization probably rose and fell while I watched him chase the traitorous flakes around the kitchen floor, not moving or speaking or doing anything that was even a second cousin twice removed to normal.

“Do you have a dustpan?” he asked when he finished.

Thank God for whichever of my parents was black, because my skin was dark enough that it didn’t register a blush.

“Um,” I said. “Um. Yes. Somewhere. Under the sink.”

This time we both moved, and bumped into each other. Remember that I looked like the queen of the aesthetically damned at this point. He probably thought it was catching, because he backed up a little too fast and let me go ahead.

After rooting around under the sink for a painfully long moment, during which I had plenty of time to remember that yes, these were the pajama bottoms with the giant yellow stain across the butt, I finally found the dust pan. I held it while he awkwardly swept most of the flakes into it except for the few that refused to go over the lip of the pan. I hated dustpans for that very reason.

At this point, we shared a sheepish glance that somehow communicated what both of us were thinking. Then I pulled the pan back and he swished the last few remaining flakes underneath the newly acquired refrigerator, where they probably still are now, and where they will undoubtedly remain until the Doomsday preachers finally get it right.

I stood up.

“I’m Dimitri,” he said, sticking out a hand.

I took his hand. It was callused and warm and only a little sweaty.

“Snell,” I said, somehow managing to remember this most rudimentary part of interpersonal communications.

“Nice to meet you.” The way he said it, I felt like he actually meant it. It lacked the hollow quality of a rehearsed phrase the way it sounded coming from most people. “I mean,” he continued, “nice to fight cereal with you. I’m glad we put it under the refrigerator. My mom hates it when I do that with things.”

I laughed. “My mom doesn’t even let me sweep after what she found under our old refrigerator when it went out. I used it as a science fair project.”

He raised an eyebrow. “No you didn’t. People always just say that.”

I blinked. “Okay,” I said slowly, “so I didn’t. But I could have,” I added. “And I would have won, too. I bet you were the person who made volcanoes for science projects.”

“Hmph,” he said. “At least my volcanoes were real.”

We laughed, and it was only later that I realized that I had suddenly gone from an Oscars nomination for Most Awkward Human to Ever Disgrace the Surface of the Planet to having a Relatively Normal Conversation.

The Boss was now watching us with a rather annoyed expression on his face, and Dimitri smiled at me—he had big, shining white teeth—and got back to work. I walked dazedly out of the kitchen, breakfast as forgotten as my few stabs at learning French back when I was eleven.

For the rest of the day, I spent as little time in The House as possible until the last Ford pickup rolled out of the driveway and Mom and I were left alone.

My behavior was utterly psychotic, and I knew it. Once I woke out of the spell that had wafted me out of the kitchen, I pelted upstairs and did my hair and the little makeup I ever wore as impeccably as I perhaps ever had and then proceeded to spend forty-five whole minutes deciding what to wear. Then I spent the rest of the day buried in the jungle of the backyard.

I didn’t even like gardening, or at least I thought I didn’t, but as soon as I had gotten ready, I hacked my way to the very back of the yard where a broken old stone fence marked the edge of our property. The rest of the day went to trying to decipher with my nonexistent botanical knowledge which plants should go and which should stay. From the shed hidden behind an overgrown begonia bush (or at least, that’s what I thought it was), I managed to unearth a pair of rusty clippers without giving myself a brain aneurysm from all the spiders, and I set at butchering every overgrown shrub I could find.

To Aunt Fiona, who was a Master Gardener, I probably would have looked like Jack the Ripper.

Mom found me trying to uproot what turned out to be a wild rose, which she at least had the presence of mind to recognize. After patting the soil around its base back down, she stood up, hands on her hips, gazing at me curiously.

“So, hon, why exactly have you suddenly decided to take up gardening?” she asked. “Aunt Fiona would be so proud of you.”

“Aunt Fiona is a cow.”

Mom surveyed the path of destruction that I had carved through the backyard. “True. And I don’t think she would really like what you’ve done with the place that much anyways. Which suits me just fine, of course.”

Then she looked back at me, obviously expecting some sort of explanation.

So I told her about Dimitri. She nodded sympathetically.

“Was he that gangly-looking kid with the ears?”

“His ears aren’t that bad,” I said, sounding about half a teaspoon more defensive than I’d meant to. Maybe they did stick out a little more than normal. I hadn’t really paid much attention to them. His eyes were what I kept coming back to whenever the weeds or priceless rare shrub—it was all the same to me—failed to distract me adequately. Dark blue eyes, clear as springtime rainwater, and kind. I could not forget the kindness.

Mom mistook my tone for pity. Like I’ve mentioned before, my mom has the experience of a spayed gopher in these sorts of situations.

“Well, at least after today you’ll be working whenever he’s here and you won’t have to worry about him. He did tell me to let you know that he’s having a party at his house tomorrow night, and that I should tell you to come since he couldn’t find you. I promised I’d tell you or otherwise I would have just let it go, but don’t worry hon, we’ll find something to do tomorrow night and you won’t have to even think about it.”

A party? I thought about the quick impression I’d gotten of Dimitri and tried to decide if Smirnoff and scantily clad drunken females and beer pong and eardrum-annihilating music really fit into that picture. He had seemed much more like a Scrabble and Clue sort of guy to me, but I wasn’t always the best at first impressions.

“Nah,” I said. “I—I think I’ll go. Yeah. I will.”

Mom looked startled, and then suddenly a flash of understanding came to her eyes. To my relief, she didn’t say anything, just smiled knowingly and then walked back into the house.

Again I blessed my genetic heritage for my inability to show a blush. I even considered building a shrine to my ancestors in the room above the staircase and sacrificing one of the fat squirrels in our trees to them.

At this moment, I am taking a break from the Hill of Homework upon which I have been steadfastly trudging for the past three hours. Just in case you were wondering, I just finished a nine-page paper for my Human Lifespan and Development class about eldercare, and I wrote it in two hours and twenty minutes. Please just take a second to stop and marvel. I am. I’m not sure why God chose to gift me with fast-writing skills, but I am thankful for them, nonetheless.

(Is “gift” a transitive verb?)

Also, I am going to take up just enough space for single picture in order to momentarily return to the old days of the “Being a Girl” tag.

Okay, and also one word (deep breath): Ilovelovelovelovelovelovelove VampireDiariesespeciallyDamontheevilonesighgaspwow.

Hail, Readers, full of grace, forgive us our trespasses….

Anyways, lately I have been having a sort of introspective period. I am finally to a point in my life where I am largely at peace with myself—I know, you’re thinking, You are insane, why did it take you so long?—so I am able to look back at the past few years of my life with a degree of, if not objectivity, at least a little less of the haze of radioactive emotional fallout. During this period of introspection, I have come to a few conclusions:

  1. People hurt each other. This fact may seem painfully obvious, but when you think about it, too often we go through life with the attitude that people are not going to hurt us, and whenever they (inevitably) do so, we are immediately angry—because our pride is wounded, our trust is betrayed, our faithfulness made worthless by the other party’s unfaithfulness. And we forget, all too often, that we hurt people, too, and that other people have felt the exact same way because of us.
  2. Hurting people is absolutely unavoidable. I say this not to encourage you to give up trying to live in kind with your fellow man, but to try to help myself and you as well to understand that, as Westley says in The Princess Bride, “life is pain.” Half the time—I would even go so far as to say most of the time when we hurt each other, the hurt is unintentional and often unknown by the person hurting the other, or one person hurts another because she perceives a greater pain that would have occurred later without the perpetration of the first pain.
  3. The world is broken. The fact that even the kindest, most loving, most selfless people can still cause hurt to others demonstrates that something is fundamentally wrong with the world. Many of us recognize this as the Fall; whether you believe Adam and Eve actually caused it or if they are just a metaphor for the inherent brokenness in humanity is beside the point.

This philosophy as a whole deals largely with hurts that are, as I said, “unintentional” or to prevent “a greater pain that would have occurred later without the perpetration of the first pain.” I know that people cause pain purposefully, and if you are human like me, then you—like me—have probably purposefully hurt people before. But I also think that, outside of mental derangement, people cause pain purposefully as a backlash from their own pain, however twisted or apparently nonsensical this backlash may appear to outsiders.

So here we are, in a world where we hurt others and others hurt us, sometimes intentionally, many times unintentionally, and where pain bubbles up and flows from older pain. Although you may already know where I am going with this, I will still ask you the somewhat rhetorical question: What do we do with all of this pain? Where’s the solution?

The solution, my friends, is love. More specifically, the solution is Love (1 Corinthians 13, anyone?), Love manifested in Jesus and poured out from him through us to a world festering with wounds that too often it treats with only more poison. In essence, this Love works two ways. It acts always for the good of others, even by choosing that “lesser pain,” because sometimes pain is necessary to root out and destroy the final root of pain—sin, or if you don’t like that term, selfishness and pride, whether our own or that of others that has damaged our own lives. And, inversely, this Love acts like a quote I posted almost a year ago: “Love is an act of eternal forgiveness.” And with this aspect of Love, we have the ability to forgive others when they cause us pain, because they will. Without forgiveness, Love may flow for a little while, but that pain will dam it up if we cannot let go and continue to put that person’s needs above our own, even when they have hurt us.

Selflessness and forgiveness—interwoven, they form one of the main strands of Love, and interestingly enough, one of the most important parts about God himself.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.”

—Bryant H. McGill

“We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.”

—Buddha

The second half

Posted: February 4, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

So this post is the second half of the previous one. If you haven’t read it, scroll down and read that one first, so that this one will make sense.

. . . . . . . . . . .

For my Human Lifespan and Development course, taught by a teacher that, while I am sure she would make a great grandmother, is not exactly the most ingenious educator, we have to do three different lab rotations: working with preschoolers, working with school-age children, and working with the elderly. For as long as I can remember, I have been deathly afraid of nursing homes, so of course I drew the elder-care lab rotation first. In typical fashion, I managed to put off actually going to the nursing home for an entire week before I finally managed to drag myself into my car and get over to Byrd Haven, the first nursing home I visited.

When I walked in, I almost walked back out. Everywhere, there were… old people. People with grizzled hair and wrinkled skin and vacant eyes, with tubes in their noses and strange pumps attached to their wheelchairs, some missing limbs, some obviously missing things that went deeper than physical appendages. I felt something as closely akin to panic as I have experienced in my entire life. Then the volunteer coordinator assigned me to one of the ladies there in the main living area, and I wheeled her back to her room and helped her get into her recliner. And after that, I was absolutely clueless. I ran out of the small talk that had taken us down the hall, and I literally sat there staring at her, bereft for any sensible conversation topics.

Then she said, “So what are you here for?”

I replied, “Oh… um… I’m a nursing student, and I’m in this class… I don’t really know what it’s about… but we are supposed to learn about different stages of life so, um, yeah. Here I am.”

I sounded like an idiot, basically. She looked at me suddenly with a very sharp, appraising glance—the type I always imagined Dumbledore doling out generously at every opportune moment—and said, “Well, I was born over in Judsonia, back in 1933.” And then she began to talk. She told me about how from the time she was five she would cook dinner for her parents and all of her brothers and sisters since they all had to work out in the fields so she was the only one left to see to the food. She told me about the dresses she sewed for girls to wear to pageants up until the time that she checked herself into the nursing home, and how she wondered if they still had them, and how she would never make any dresses identical or to look like anyone else’s. She told me about her childhood, her parents, her husband, her children—the various farms she lived on, the various jobs she took to keep the family going, what times were like during the war, the way things changed after the war, the way the cities in the greater Searcy area grew and changed.

The next time, I went with Ryan and Laurel to the nursing home in Judsonia, about ten minutes from campus. For the most part, it was a nonevent; I talked to a lady who did not have much of a clue but was happy to talk to me, anyways, and I also read to a lady named Mrs. Dorothy who could no longer talk but, as the nurse told me, “she knows you’re there, honey.”

However, the real moment of truth came when we went back. I walked into Mrs. Dorothy’s room, and immediately a huge smile lit up her face, beautiful if toothless, and something warm glowed inside of me. Again, I read to her from John and Genesis and Luke and Matthew—sort of random passages but I was just going with the flow—and then just sat with her for a few minutes, then I said I was going to go on to visit some other people, and I patted her on the arm and said have a good day, and then something truly remarkable happened.

As I was walking out I heard something behind me and turned around and saw Mrs. Dorothy pulling herself in her bed with all of her strength, and then she managed to say the words, “Bye-bye.” And then I grinned, huge as anything, and said goodbye to her.

While we were driving away and Laurel and Ryan were discussing their experiences, I sat in the back of Ryan’s car, thinking.

In Italy, the path swirls around your feet in eddies, knee-deep in some places; when you walk through the Forum in Rome, it’s practically around your neck, all those ancient voices and the layers and layers of history that fill your nostrils with the dust of centuries and millennia. But—we have something of that here, too, I am coming to realize.

No, you are not going to walk down the street and hear the echoes of tens of millions of ancient voices filtering down through the tunnels of time when you look at the buildings and facades. However, encapsulated in these old people, these wonderful, incredible elderly folk, whether they can pin you down with a look and spill out their stories or if they simply have ninety years locked behind lips just a fraction away from utterly silent—here lies the past. When you hold a hand, you touch the fingers that worked the plow in 1930s Arkansas farmland, the fingers that touched the hands of their mother, who touched the hands of her mother, and so forth back into the years. The threads of connection here are different, tenuous, spidery, and so often we dance along a few inches above them and never stoop down to reach into their diaphanous depths, but they are still there.

And so I do not despair quite so much about the shallow quagmire of American heritage. And strangely, I actually enjoy going to the nursing home these days, beyond the grade or the compulsion. Beyond the sense of depth, something thrills deep inside me just to see that smile, to hear those half-strangled words, to know that, in a very, very, very small way, I have planted a flower where the sun rarely reaches and created a little more beauty in a world that desperately needs it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

–Anais Nin

Homeward, ho!

Posted: November 21, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

I have never really understood that word, “ho.” Not as in the connotation that one might us it as a derogatory statement towards a female, or in high school jokingly towards one’s female friends if one is a female herself, on occasion, but just as the hey-let’s-go-to-some-archaic-land sense. If that is truly the sense in question, I am not really sure.

Anyways… I have arrived at that wonderful place which is called Homeness! Fire, food, dog, family, all delivered. And the Most Amazing Christmas Store was, as usual, most amazing, although for Lisa’s sake I was kind of disappointed because there were no snails or sheep. So, in her honor, I am going to include two nice pictures in lieu of actual Christmas ornaments….

Baaaaaaa

Slurrrrrrp

And yes, I’m probably stealing these pictures… but I didn’t Photoshop out the watermarks, which I am totally capable of doing, so it’s okay, right?

About an hour outside of Searcy, the little Camry driving in front of us did a crazy-swerve all over the lane, the kind you do when you’re bored and unlikely to hit anything by being a little silly. So in response, I swerved, too, and they noticed. This initiated a weird sort of car waltz, which freaked out Lisa to no end, so I eventually stopped—and considering how tired I am, this is probably a good thing—but still it was sort of fun to have this random interaction with these people.

We also saw about a million old, fixed-up fifties cars driving back towards Bald Knob, usually passing us in packs of ten or so. Lisa took pictures. At the same time, huge flocks of geese were flying overhead. We rolled down the window to try to hear them—the geese, that is, or ducks, or whatever they were, some sort of migratory animal—but the car noise was too loud, sadly. One day, I’m going to stop and try to listen.

During the last two hours, to keep ourselves awake, we listened to a million “crazy car songs,” from “Boom Boom Pow” to “You Belong to Me” and “Here in Your Arms” and “Get Low.” Oh and “Womanizer,” of course, can’t forget that one. So if you’re having a bad day, please just picture Kellum and Lisa, ah-hem, getting down with their bad selves. If Joey (my dear beloved truck) had had a head, he would have been shaking it. Trust me. Good times.

Also, a transcription of a short conversation:

Lisa: Yeah, you definitely need someone you can totally be yourself around.

Me: I think I am myself around boys most of the time. I mean, mostly, but I guess I just have a lot of different parts of my personality. Like I mean there’s parts of myself I’ll just show to my husband.

Lisa: Um, Kellum….

Me: Wait… that sounds really awkward, that’s not what I meant!

[Insert Lisa giggling and Kellum turning rather red]

And another thing:

Lisa: Wow, look at the cotton! It just amazes me that it grows in the ground!

Me: But… where else would it grow?

Lisa: Um… sheep?

I seem to remember having a similar conversation with Michael Wright last year….

When we were on the last leg of the roadtrip today, crossing from Corridor X to the last little stretch on I-65, the entire sky behind us lit up and turned a burning pale gold. Despite the fact that yes, pollution is bad, and yes, dust gets in your lungs and does bad things to you (thank heavens I don’t know what yet; that’ll come in A&P II), and yes, smog burns your eyes and kills old people, when the sun is setting, all of that particulate matter can make the sky look pretty incredible. Though really for all I know it wasn’t particulate matter at all, but just the way the clouds were. Either way, it was gorgeous.

I’ve been backreading a little bit on my blog, going back and reading what I wrote this time last year…. So strange. It’s like I left a letter to my future self, and now I’m reading it. Funny, but I don’t feel I’ve changed a bit, despite everything that actually has changed. Have I learned anything? Will I make the same mistakes again that I have before? Am I in any way different?

Heaven knows.

I found a poem that I like. Or rather it expresses things well. It’s sort of like a poetic version of my creative nonfiction essay. It’s called “After the Movie,” by Marie Howe. Since I’ve lost all ability to write poetry, it seems (I really could write it before though! I really could! What happened?! What has happened to me?!), I am going to let you read this instead, and bid you goodnight.

The post I started two days ago:

Yesterday was a beautiful and wonderful and glorious day mostly for the fact that it consisted of about one part school and three hundred and fifty nine parts sunshine and pollen. I skipped French Lab Episode One (also know as trying-to-speak-French-to-a-bunch-of-first-year-French-students-who-hate-me-and-don’t-want-to-be-there-which-results-in-me-usually-ending-up-speaking-the-furthest-thing-from-French-such-as-I-don’t-know-Orcish) and then French Lab Episode Two consisted of driving to Sonic and driving back from Sonic with a Reeses malt clutched in my sticky fingers, and this was only a temporary distraction from the rest of the day, which basically consisted of sitting on the front lawn and doing about as little as humanly possible. I wrote two letters, which I absolutely will mail today (I threw away about ten Valentines the other day which I had written back in February but never actually gotten around to sending), talked to James, talked to Rachel, said hello to various people, fell asleep, later on threw frisbee for a while, but really just tried to be lazy, lazy, lazy.

I did about fifteen minutes of homework the entire day. No kidding.

I love college.

[End of post I started two days ago.]

Anyway, life has been very busy, or rather I have just been highly, highly lazy when it comes to things like blogging and, uh, homework. Luckily there hasn’t been too much in the realms of homework, so I think I’m going to manage to pull it off. I generally do, so my level of concern isn’t exactly shooting through the roof.

Yesterday, after classes—which were something of a hindrance to my extreme desire to simply sit outside under the radiant sunshine and soak up every particle and wave of light and heat that leaked from the very core of my being during this long and seemingly unending winter which pretty much destroyed every vestige of warmth within me—I slept—oh, frabjous day—and then went and took engagement pictures for one of the RAs in Cathcart. Here is my favorite picture:

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Isn’t that wonderful? Yes, it is; indeed, it is so wonderful that you want to run and tell all of your friends who are getting engaged that you know this incredible girl with curly red hair, a smile like fireworks, and eyes like… squished caterpillars, ew… okay, forget all of my charms and just tell them you know someone who does cheap engagement pictures that turn out pretty freakin’ sweet so that I can make some money.

But I really do enjoy taking pictures. And making people happy when they see them. And making myself happy when I see one that’s as awe-inspiringly gorgeous as the one above—I think that’s one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken. Taking pictures, I think, is learning how to use equipment to capture what’s already been made beautiful, by God, by other people, and knowing how to recognize that beauty—and then being able to share it. Zane and I were talking about photography the other day, and how he likes to take natural shots to share the incredibleness of God’s creation, and how I like to take pictures of people—and nothing is more gratifying than a good picture of someone, because everyone, I believe, is beautiful, or has an element of beauty in them, and they deserve to know it—and a photographer can show them that.

Ramble, ramble, ramble. Moving right along from this goofy little philosophical blah-blah….

Then we all went to iHop—that is, Lisa’s brother Michael who is in town and who was the occasion of the eat-out meal and although he seemed like a very normal, sane, quiet person next to Lisa (who is not normal but not normal in about the most amazing, bubbly, sunshine-and-daffodils-and-sheep sort of way possible) Charlene tells me that he is a Trekkie, which is somewhat fascinating—ate a ridiculous amount of food that nonetheless was not remotely filling due to the almost 99% composition of said food by grease and processed flower, went back to campus and played a rousing game of Apples to Apples upstairs of the Student Center (during which I learned that both Lisa and Pearson choose red cards that they like, not necessarily which actually fit the category… therefore Lisa will always choose a card that says “Snail” and Pearson will always choose a card that says “Helen Keller”), and then conducted an adventure with Wesley and Caleb to Barry Hill Park (or however you spell it, I always have trouble with that for some reason) where we stayed and hung out until a huge Suburban of teenagers pulled up (it was prom night) and pretended to throw up all over the place, as if drunk, at which point we decided it was time to leave.

That was all one sentence, by the way.

Then today I slept until twelve, which was fairly brilliant, then got up and dragged Ron and Harry Wesley and Daggett down to Little Rock to watch Apocalypse kick some Texas-State-at-Arlington-and-Mississippi-State butt, and take pictures, which probably didn’t turn out all that awesome because the creative spark was lacking somewhat today, and then we went to Appleby’s or however the heck you spell it and got an incredibly chocolate-filled-scrumdiddly-wonderfulness dessert, and then we drove back and sang in our best Totally Loud and Obnoxious voices all the way to Searcy and then I watched a movie with Charlene and now I am sitting here typing this to you.

Whew. So now you’re totally caught up on the fascinating and intricate and enchanting world that is the life of Kellum.

Something that made me sort of sad….

I ordered a used book because I always order used books now because on one hand they are much cheaper than new books and on the other hand it is often reflective (meaning causing one to reflect, rather than reflective in the way that a window is, or the way a deer’s eyes are right before its gets hit by a car), thinking about the people who read the book before you did—anyways, I ordered a book of poetry for my English class because the review is due on WEDNESDAY AH and on the inside cover this was written:

Valentine’s 2001

Doug,

I dream alittle every day of the soul we’ve acquired…

Love,

Jen

The misspelling of “alittle” (which should be “a little”) was there in the book; I wouldn’t ever want anyone to think I’m incapable of spelling (except for Barry Hill Park and Appleby’s). 

At first I couldn’t figure it out… “soul we’ve acquired?” That’s just weird. But then I was flipping through the book… which is The Wild Iris by Louise Glück, if you were wondering… and I found this passage:

Sometimes a man or woman forces his despair

on another person, which is called

baring the heart, alternatively, bearing the soul—

meaning for this moment, they acquired souls—

It goes on past there, but I think the essence of it is contained there. 

Here’s the sad thing: that I have the book now, this gift that Jen gave to Doug. There are innumerable possibilities for how it came into my hands: perhaps Doug accidentally left it somewhere, a little cafe perhaps, and someone picked it up and sold it; perhaps the cleaning lady was brushing some papers off Doug’s desk into the trash can and the book was hidden underneath them; perhaps Doug never even got the book, and Jen’s vindictive ex-boyfriend still had a key to her house, broke in, and stole it while she was out before she had a chance to give it to Doug, along with all of her jewelry and her chocolate Labrador puppy, and after that Jen was in such a tizzy to get a lawyer and get her insane ex thrown in jail for being pyscho that the last thing she was worried about was getting Doug a Valentine’s Day gift. And Doug, who loved Jen every bit as much as Jen loved him, honestly didn’t care that she didn’t get him one, either, because he was doing everything he could to make the whole terrible ordeal better for her.

… and anyone in their right mind can tell that I’ve had a slight overdose of chick flicks in the recent months and therefore have stockpiled numerous ridiculous situations which create conflict but end up resolving themselves quite beautifully, ending in happily-ever-after amen.

I dunno, make of it what you will, but it still makes me slightly sad. Even though for me personally and at this stage in my life, the Single Life is a holy and sanctimonious thing that ought to be capitalized on, both grammatically and literally, which allows for glorious freedom to dream and love on an entirely different scale, I still have traces of hopeless romanticism clinging around the walls of my brain that no amount of the Lysol of Independence can remove—and, like the quote from the movie Juno says, I just want to believe that two people can stay together and still love each other. I know it happens, it just seems to happen too, too, too infrequently.

But there you have it. Enough of this… I shall have to make the ceremonial “Being a Girl” tag be in all caps for this post after that little rant.

Since I’ve got a pretty awesome record for procrastination this week, I figure, what the heck, I might as well continue with it and blog rather than work on the journal entry and Bible essay (just two hundred words, no biggy) that are due tomorrow.

Make that two journal entries, since I never did do the one that was supposed to be turned in, oh, two weeks ago. It’s hard to be motivated to write the same stuff I wrote for philosophy class, and Theory of Knowledge, and oh, anything else Mr. Chambers taught. Sigh.

But I was thinking today—yes, I know, this shocks everyone and considering how much sleep I’ve been getting, shocks me too—about what makes a man a man. You know, a Real Man, in that gruff Texas accent that conjures up images of grizzly males in ten-gallon hats and cowboy boots and chewing a huge chaw of “terbaccer.” And then I thought, People spend an awful lot of time thinking about what makes a man a Real Man, and there’s all kinds of talk about that—Real Men are leaders, Real Men are not pansies, Real Men stand up for what they believe in, Real Men are blah blah blah. You’ve all heard enough of this you could probably spout it back word for word, and by the end of this spouting all of my male readers would probably hate me for the obnoxiously high standards and would never read my blog again.

But you’re in luck, because my question is—what makes a Real Woman?

From everything I’ve seen, our society has a pretty good idea of what a man is supposed to be (even if there are about as many Real Men left as Chinese river dolphins, these days). But when it comes to women, there seems to be a grey area, or at least way too many conflicting viewpoints. Here are a few of the different “ideal” women that our society projects:

  1. The good housewife one. Traditionally a product of Leave It to Beaver and other fifties sit-coms, this figure has evolved into something recognizably similar yet different in a few key ways. If any of you have watched shows like Everybody Loves Raymond and King of Queens or other similar shows, you have the modern version of June Cleaver—successful, motivated, eternally in-shape, wholly dedicated to her vertically mobile job and at the same time just as dedicated to her family… and to a dead-beat husband, as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a man-hater on any scale—most of my best friends are guys and I love and respect them very very much—but it simply annoys me that some of the most popular comedies involve men who just sit around watching television all day while their women take care of everything, and whenever they get annoyed with the men they just kiss and then everything is fine. And this is supposed to be funny and good. Just… no. (Another fellow English major blogger put the whole thing pretty aptly in this post, if you want more on this subject.)
  2. The frigid ruthless hot one. (Gotta love the paradox.) You know what I’m talking about. Practically every secret agent movie has the femme fatale with the ice-queen exterior who nonetheless ends up causing the protagonist to fall in love with her. I don’t have a lot to say about her except I’m pretty sure she doesn’t exist and she is very scary and she gives men unrealistic expectations of women. Thanks much, Hollywood.
  3. The terrifyingly feminist one. If you’ve never met this stereotype, dear friends, you have missed out on a fearsome being, particularly if you’ve never had her as a teacher. (Recovering IBers, I just want you to know that I am absolutely not referring to anyone specific in this context, and I don’t know why you would assume that, because that would be certainly ridiculous.) This is the woman who writes rather terrifying manifestos that somehow end up in American literature textbooks, teaches her female students that they need to subjugate men to their vastly superior willpower and intellect, carries picketing signs in her backseat, and generally believes that women should take over the entire earth. Look out, Male-Dominated World, because you’re about to meet your match, and it comes in spiky high heels, a business suit, and a bone to pick with anyone with more than four hundred nanograms of testosterone in their bloodstream.

Now, females, let us be honest. Do you want to be any of these women? Aside from those occasional moments we all experience when we sort of want to look like Vogue models just for kicks, we don’t. For the most part, anyway. I don’t want to be the person wearing the pants in the relationship, I don’t want to be so freakishly aloof and abnormally beautiful that everyone but the most arrogant morons will even talk to me, and I certainly don’t want to be a frightening feminist who sends even five-year-old little boys scurrying under the bed. 

So where does that leave us? 

I’ll open up the floor. I already have some ideas but I’d love to hear from all of you, dear readers—for once I’m going to listen/read instead of talking/writing. So… give it a go. I’m curious.

And if you say anything along the lines of “The perfect woman just needs to submit!”, I will personally make sure that your worst fears come true, and it will involve rusty forks, electrodes, and clown fish. Just use your imagination.