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Go Back to China?

This has been awhile, no?

I've been back in the US for almost four years. Can't say I am happy about it. Good stuff has happened (started grad school, found a good church), but in general, quite disappointing. Or not, actually, since I didn't expect all that much in the first place. But I still had hoped it would be better, with a little international perspective, and it's not. At all.

People in grad school (other students, advisor) have been asking me lately, "What are you going to do with your degree?" I tried to think of all the options and not just immediately say, "Go back to China." So I've been thinking about it a lot, turning things over. And the answer which keeps coming to me really is "Go back to China."

So...go back to China?

I sure want to. Yes indeed.

The Art of Loving God

I can’t believe I went for so long without St. Francis de Sales.

I knew about the other St. Francis, of course. He’s loomed large in my spiritual development and formation as a Catholic. But I did not know about this St. Francis until 2008. This is all the more unbelievable because I’m a writer, and St. Francis de Sales is the patron saint of writers and journalists (among other things).

He was a writer, too, and what a writer! Many of the things we have from him today are letters between himself and a laywoman where he gives calm, succinct advice on how to live as a spiritual person in the world. St. Francis is a saint and writer whose time has truly come; perhaps never before has there been such as need and a desire for the regular, non-ordained faithful to take up the mantel of holiness in their daily lives.

Most people familiar with St. Francis know his “Introduction to the Devout Life”, a wonderful book and a enduring classic. But finding others of his books and writings can be hit and miss. I stumbled upon Sophia Press’ edition of “The Art of Loving God” in early 2010, and they were kind enough to send me a complimentary review copy. As with all St. Francis’s writings, it contains superb advice for living the Christian life, written in a clear and lucid style. I also especially like this edition, as it comes in a dignified faux-leather blue cover with stamped gold letters and is small enough to fit into my purse. Despite its compactness, the print is not so small that it causes eye strain and is refreshingly laid out, clean, well-organized and easy to read. I cannot recommend all of St. Francis de Sales’ work highly enough, and this Sophia press edition of “The Art of Loving God” is an affordable yet attractive volume.

My First Lane Share

I finally hit the pool yesterday. We usually go in the morning or in the evening, but yesterday we made the mistake of getting to the Y right at 5 p.m. Bad mistake. Bad.

This put us there just in time for all the after-work exercisers to get there, and all the after-school kids, and all the private swimming lessons, and all the parents sitting in chairs right outside the pool, staring at us through the windows. First there was four lanes, then there was three lanes, then two of them got taken by kids classes, then the open swim area was taken by water aerobics. Which left me, TH, and a complete stranger to share one lane.

I know there is pool etiquette for this, but I've been lucky enough to never have to do this before. Me and TH got banished to the other guy's lane, so I felt a bit like we were taking it away from him. I apologized and he was cool. Having to share sped me up A LOT more. No time to hang out at the edge and catch my breath - someone's coming! And this other guy had a great deal more stamina than I did.

I did get a chance to try out my new stuff. Worked great, especially the goggles. It's like a whole new world down there. The best part was after T and the other guy got out, leaving me the lane to myself. I had a chance to put my head down and swim from one end to the other underwater, like a big mermaid, butterfly stroke, dolphin-style, anything I felt like. I stayed under as long as I could, then swam lap after lap trying to get the breathing rhythm down for the freestyle. I'm still working on it. But it was SO much fun.

Facebook is Evil

I won't go into all the reasons it is evil (and there are many), but paramount at this moment is the way it makes me lazy about blogging. When I can go on Facebook and leave shallow, two sentence posts about what I'm doing on a regular basis, it disinclines me to write something coherent on the blog. And when we're looking back at the days when everyone had a blog instead of a Facebook account with fond nostalgia, you know something has gone wrong with the world.

Anyway, What I've Been Doing:

- Playing Call of Cthulu, in which we are devoured by the Elder Gods pretty much every game. Although one of our number did come to one - count 'em, ONE - point of actually defeating one.

- Writing, writing, writing. Copy editors must die.

- Going to Mass

- Reading. I finally got my driver's license switched over and am now walling in the joys of the public library. I was already a library-ophile, but having been denied them for six years really makes me go mad for them. Books! Computers! DVDs! Foreign language lessons! (Yes, my local library does this. For free.)

- Been going to (dare I say it?) the gym for the past week. Got a membership and everything. There's weights and more weights and stationary bikes and - yes - A POOL. I love to swim in a way which may be forbidden in some states.

- Been doing a kind of Bible challenge one of the women (who leads our adult Bible study) told me about. Pick a book form the Bible. Read it. Twenty times. Not in row. But once a day or once every other day. something like that. You'll practically have it memorized by the end and you'll remember it all, in context, not just from picking out verses here and there. I picked 1 John. I am a John person.
THIS is the guy who should direct if the live-action Evangelion movie ever happens (god forbid).

Supposedly made for...$300. He's the anti-Michael Bay, and for that he should be hailed as the Messiah (of film).


Separated at Birth

I made a novelty Rolling Stone cover for Pico using a pic Kevin took when the big boy was just a wee kitten. After I finished it, something about it seemed familiar. Then it hit me where I had seen that look before...





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I Can't Wait to Get Old

Tomorrow is my birthday. To begin the festivities, I thought I would compile a list of People I Have Lived Longer Than. Odd and rather gratifying at the same time.

Janis Joplin
Jim Morrison
Jimi Hendrix
Kurt Cobain
Alexei Romanov
Caesarion
Richie Valens
Buddy Holly
King Tut
Sid Vicious
Eddie Cochran
Billy the Kid
Stu Sutcliff
John Lennon (!!)
Duane Allman
James Dean
St. Therese of Lisieux
Brandon Lee
Bruce Lee
Tim Buckley
Caligula
Percy Shelley
Sylvia Plath
Brian Epstein
Cass Elliot
Karen Carpenter
Keith Moon
John Belushi
Jayne Mansfield
Sam Cooke
Andy Kaufman
Bob Marley
Sal Mineo
George Gershwin
Dennis Wilson
Malcolm X
Marilyn Monroe

and many, many more!

Rather than making me feel sad or old, this all makes me feel rather fortunate to be alive.

I don't get why some people say they feel old on their birthdays, when they're no older than me or even younger. For one thing, old is nothing to be worried about. True, the physical breakdown (much of which can be prevented) is no fun, but you get to totally act however you want, criticize whoever you want, totally freak out on whoever you want, and no one'll do anything about it. Also, you get cool discounts, especially if you join the AARP. I can't wait to join the AARP.

Second, "I feel old" is rubbish. Why? What does that even mean? Most people just mean, "I noticed time passing and it makes me feel sad." What the hell for? So what? The older you get, the more things you've done, the more things you're interested in, the more things you can learn because you have experience. These are not things to be afraid and ashamed of. Who wants to be a kid, have no power, no confidence, no knowldge, no wisdom, no experience, no emotional maturity? I never look at kids/teenagers and think I want to be like that. I think, "Dear god, what a bunch of idiots." Yeah, they'll (probably) get better...THE OLDER THEY GET.
I go through these periods where I imagine what else I could do if I wasn't doing what I'm doing now. I've been having one of them lately, mainly because, for the first time in six years, I'm not teaching. I write articles all the time about various jobs and careers, so I've had plenty of time to not only fantasize about a new career, but also to find out some things about them. So here are some jobs I've been thinking about. Not in any sort of serious way. But I still think.

Nurse
Important. Exciting. Cpmfy scrubs. Can get a job anywhere in the country. Doesn't take too much schoolin' to become one, either.

Psychiatrist
I always wanted to be a psychiatrist. The first degree plan I ever remember looking at, when I was about 13, was psychiatrist.

Truck Driver
I dig to drive, I dig to travel, and I could get trained for free.

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BOUHAKI!

From Trivia Tuesday over at Catster:

Bouhaki, the earliest cat name on record, dates back to Egyptian writings of 2000 B.C. In the hieroglyphs of that period, bou signifed “house” and “hak” was the symbol for “divine ruler.”

You got that right, buddy. Cats: ruling the world for 4,000 years.