Thursday, December 29, 2011

a novel

I've been reading Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina for a while now (you must pardon me; it's nearly 990 pages long and I've been reading other things too), and as I read I am impressed with his art and perception. The story is tragic, follows more than one adultery, plagued with depression and hatred, but Tolstoy shows these characters as real and complex, their stories in motion and with conseqeuences, and their falls and stumblings for what they are and for how they destroy life.

Not only that, but it is full of striking metaphors and some realizations and generalizations that are really great. Take this paragraph about Levin (the character I probably like and sympathize with the most) in Chapter Fourteen:

"Levin had been married three months. He was happy but not at all in the same way as he had expected. At every step he found himself disillusioned in his former dreams while also discovering new, unexpected enchantments. Levin was happy, but on entering into family life he saw at every step that it was not at all what he had imagined. At every step he felt as a man might feel who, after admiring the smooth, cheerful motion of a boat on the water, actually gets into the boat himself. He saw that apart from having to sit steadily in the boar without rocking, he also had to keep in mind, without forgetting for a moment where he was going, that there was water beneath his feet, that he had to row, that his unaccustomed hands hurt, and that it was easy only when you looked at it, but that doing it, though it made you very happy, was very hard."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life

George Bailey: What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That's a pretty good idea. I'll give you the moon, Mary.
Mary: I'll take it. Then what?
George: Well, then you can swallow it, and it'll all dissolve, see... and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair... am I talking too much?

Man on Porch: Why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death?
George: You want me to kiss her, huh?
Man on Porch: Ah, youth is wasted on the wrong people.

George: This is a very interesting situation!
Mary: Please give me my robe.
George: A man doesn't get in a situation like this every day.
Mary: I'd like to have my robe.
George: Not in Bedford Falls anyway.

George: Mary Hatch, why in the world did you ever marry a guy like me?
Mary: To keep from being an old maid!
George: You could have married Sam Wainright, or anybody else in town...
Mary: I didn't want to marry anybody else in town. I want my baby to look like you.
George: You didn't even have a honeymoon. I promised you...
George: Your what?
Mary: My baby!
George: [stuttering] Your, your, your, ba- Mary, you on the nest?
Mary: George Bailey Lassos Stork!

Senior Angel: A man down on earth needs our help.
Clarence: Splendid. Is he sick?
Senior Angel: No, worse. He's discouraged.

George: Well, you look about the kind of angel I'd get.

George: Now, come on, get your clothes on, and we'll stroll up to my car and get... Oh, I'm sorry. I'll stroll. You fly.
Clarence: I can't fly! I haven't got my wings.
George: You haven't got your wings. Yeah, that's right.

Clarence: Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Now Beginning

Gerard Manely Hopkins has a short Christmas poem I love.

Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

fairly recent writings

I'd love to hear thoughts on Rain-Washed, especially.

this night is dark
no snowflakes fall to lighten the world with their white weight
and the stars won’t show their far, faint light

When the rainfall comes to the streets, the sidewalks
and the asphalt are cleansed from the grey-brown of dust
to almost obsidian sheered with a layer of light.

My soul is this street where the dust of ungrateful
has slowly replaced my wonder with apathy,
has covered and blurred the magic to commonplace.

Your grace is the grey that falls finely around me,
and shimmers in silver in thousands of puddles,
and washes the soil of complacency from me,

until all of this street rejoices to be
and to soak up and shine back the clear light of heaven.

thankful today: #233-244
-the sweet and strong of wine
-fumbling through part of the Messiah with my choir. We sounded nothing like this, but we are going to a Messiah sing-along on Sunday and are hoping to enjoy ourselves. :)
-Levin in Anna Karenina. (‎"...there was another voice in his heart that said that there was no need to surrender to the past and that it was possible to do anything you wanted with yourself. And in obedience to that voice he went to the corner and began exercising with the two thirty-six pound dumbbells there, trying to make himself feel vigorous.")
-Christmas essay by Rachel Jankovic! Funny, sweet, realistic, encouraging.
-extra work at Christmastime
-a car whose belt still whines sharply, because it hasn't broken yet! Need to get that fixed...
-tall stretchy striped socks
-Mr. Appel and his beautiful prayer at my graduation 7 months ago
-crazy-laughter time with roommates
-that moment you put the last piece of tape on a Christmas package
-co-op chocolate
-beautiful sad songs like The Dimming of the Day (Alison Krauss)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas is a-coming

Niece and I, during our delightful tree-hunting expedition. By the huge, gorgeous tree for my parents' house.

Moscow living room on Sunday evening. Cozy fire and popcorn-stringing mess, and our fine little tree.

Roomies: me, Emma, Maria, Tali, Becki

Monday, December 5, 2011

Even now

After a weekend of unbelievable craziness, I am here on a Monday morning, sick, tired, unable to go to work.

Saturday I drove home. The rest of the day included a whirlwind amount of Stuff. I know I usually write oodles about the good times I have, or write a never-ending thankful list about it, but this time, I'm just gonna say - my 5 year old niece asked me to give her piggy back rides twice and sat with me on the couch, and my 5 year old nephew sat and drank hot chocolate with me and talked about his birthday and what he wanted for Christmas and held my hand for a while as we tromped around looking for a tree. Those were two of the best things about the day. And I have to say - getting to see my friend's Thanksgiving baby, and finding 5 Christmas trees with all my siblings, and getting the lights on Mom and Dad's at last, and eating pizza made by Laura, and singing happy birthday to the best 8 year olds in the world, and watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas, were also definitely highlights of the day.

Sunday I drove back to Moscow. Sunrise on the way, advent sermon, Winco shopping where we ran into dozens of friends, mid-day dinner at Fraser's, walk around the lovely UI campus with friends, lots of coffee, baking cranberry-walnut-orange muffins, stringing popcorn and setting up our tree, Lisa's Thin Man movie party and eggnog, and more time with friends. All very good.

But last night I felt horrible, and this morning still pretty sick. You know those mornings where you are coughing up the grossest stuff for at least an hour and two cups of hot tea and a steamy shower don't really help your congestion or throat that much... Too sick to go to work, and cold enough I'm staying under this blanket-robe Snuggie thing, and late on my rent bill, and my computer also decided to die yesterday and needed to be all backed up to save things that are important. It's an UGH morning.

Perfect time to write a thankful list, and to pray. Yes indeed.

(220-232 giving thanks)

-This weird Snuggie that my arms go through and that drags on the floor behind me when I walk, making me feel like a little kid in a grown-up's bathrobe

-Apple cider and apple cinnamon tea

-A gracious employer who cares more about how I feel than that I am missing work

-A gracious landlord who accepts late rent

-The book of Matthew, especially the Beatitudes (my reading this morning)

-A tree with lights, popcorn and ornaments in my living room

-Tylenol and Benadryl, allowing me to sleep last night

-Tali making lunch for us both

-That there is no snow; although I personally want it, its absence means Tali can borrow my car easily

-That I am at home; although I hate missing work, if I was there I would be spreading germs and not getting rest.

-That I am not in the choir for the Christmas concert this week; although I miss it like crazy, if I was a member of the choir I would be stressed about being sick, and when Thursday comes I would not be in the audience getting to enjoy the music in a different way than when one is presenting it.

-A way to back up computer files

-The possibility of a new job