Since the last time…

Things are boring in my world, sort of. Having neither time nor a car has precluded adventures of late. Not much interesting going on internally, either, just sort of slogging along. I have been feeling slightly off-kilter this week, maybe because of all the rain coming through on account of that hurricane. Rain usually gives me a great deal of pleasure because it induces melancholy and reflection and I am bizarrely happiest when also slightly (not very, just a little bit) sad. Yeah, I know, I’m a weird kid.

But anyway, I’ve been struggling to find my feet this week. It’s been a quiet one so far, not a lot of hanging out or talking, just getting stuff done. Not a lot of reflection (not even for the rain), just doing, I guess.

However, two of my friends got married last Saturday, and I daresay it was one of the better weddings I’ve been to. Lots of Jesus, and you could tell they were both ecstatic, which was great to see. They’d been sort of stressed out going right up to last week, but at some point something switched, and I swear their whole demeanor changed. And they had one of the best kisses–they sort of grabbed each other and just went for it, and we all cheered–and as the pastor was giving the benediction, you could hear them outside screaming for joy. Incredible.

Also, there were people I consider family, and dancing, and breakfast tacos, and I got to announce stuff (which made me a nervous wreck, by the way), and everyone was pretty happy, I think. And to consider that there’ll be a better feast than that at the end–well. It boggles the mind.

But you go back to life, which is punctuated by these exclamation points of joy, but also the periods and Oxford commas of the everyday, which aren’t very exciting, but they’re what get you through the story. We are extraordinary people in mostly very mundane circumstances, and we can’t live on cake and champagne alone. We come together and break the daily bread of living, and He gives us life and sustains us.

the end of all things

[originally posted on Twitter after a long bout with Tolkien]

And as it stands I dare not speak
For grim and glorious doom has come
To awaken this fell day with a red dawn
And the world’s end

Arise, my love, and go with me
To field where our great fathers trod
Take up thy blade and shield and helm
We go to face the growing storm

We dare not entertain despair
The darkness yet shall not prevail
For though we fall and fail we fight
Midst hope of glory yet unseen

And though the land flow red with life
That war and ill too early take
My heart shall never turn from thee
While breath and soul remain

Away, away, my feet, my hands
My heart, my mind, my warrior soul
If all must end I will not shrink
From duty, though it bring my death

mix tape monday.

This week: “Song” songs. For example…

1. Sara Bareilles, “Love Song”
2. Rufus Wainwright, “Greek Song”
3. Jimmy Eat World, “The Authority Song”
4. Andrew Peterson, “The Chasing Song”
5. Caedmon’s Call, “International Love Song”
6. Dave Matthews, “Christmas Song”
7. The Frames, “Song for Someone”
8. Patty Griffin, “Rowing Song”
9. Christian Kane, “LA Song”
10. Iron & Wine, “Lovesong of the Buzzard”
11. Ben Folds Five, “Song For The Dumped”
12. Next To Normal OBC, “Song of Forgetting”
13. Joshua James, “The New Love Song”
14. Simon & Garfunkel, “Kathy’s Song”
15. Sarah Jarosz, “Little Song”
16. Sufjan Stevens, “Vito’s Ordination Song”
17. Veggie Tales, “The Hairbrush Song”

paradigm shift.

My seven-year high school reunion was tonight. (Yes, seven years; we tried two years ago and it just didn’t work, so we tried again this year.) It was good to catch up with old friends and see how they’re doing.

The thing I’m walking away with, though, is that four hours isn’t long enough to say, hey, I am a different person, and here is how. It’s one thing to have known people; it’s another to actually know and be known by them now. There’s a lot that’s been lost between us, and the joy of reunion is bittersweet.

Thursday 13

This week: Thirteen things you want to get done before Labor Day.

1. Read 20 books.
2. Watch 20 movies.
3. My final project before graduation (agh!).
4. Get down to south Congress and watch the bats.
5. Find a post-graduation job and place to live.
6. Get a new car.
7. Make ricotta.
8. Go watch the Perseid meteor shower.
9. Obtain more work clothes.
10. Do a major cull of my stuff.
11. Edit a couple of papers and submit them for publication/to conferences.
12. Cross a couple of things off my bucket list.
13. Go hiking again.

Excellent things which have happened the past few days.

* I have a friend who has somehow gotten to the doctoral level of study without ever writing a research paper. (I know, right?! But he’s a music performance major; it’s not like he hasn’t been doing work, just not that kind of work.) Anyway, he needed some research help, which I gladly gave him, which helped him and made me feel like a research librarian. Holla!

* One of my other friends (actually, the wife of above friend) is part of this world-renowned choral group. On Sunday night they sang Bach’s Mass in B Minor, which is in and of itself an excellent and praiseworthy thing, and they stepped it up to ecstatic, pretty much. Joyful, and contagiously so. Anyway, I got to go see that, and I got a ticket in the rear balcony. When I got to the concert hall to sit down, the door to the balcony was closed, and I had this conversation with one of the ushers:

“Um, is there a reason the door is closed?”

“Oh, yes. They didn’t sell any orchestra pit seats, and they’re offering them to people. Would you like one?”

(internally: “!!!!!!!!!!”) “Um. Yes.”

“Okay, let’s go.”

In short, I got to watch extremely talented musicians (did I mention the baroque orchestra with period instruments? I didn’t? oh. well, they were awesome) do what they do from the fourth row. Don’t get much better than that.

*Been having excellent chats with friends lately, actually. Getting rides from people now that my car is dead (coolant leak = overheated engine = shot engine = car is now being cannibalized for parts, RIP Jimmy) has lent itself to opportunities for good conversation.

*God has been very good lately about getting on my case about issues I still have to work through. I have deemed this the Year of Getting My Crap Together, and while I haven’t totally been great about holding up my end of that, God has been doing very good (and painful) things with my heart these days. Which is nice.

*Last night at Bible study was one of the more real, hey-the-Holy-Spirit-is-doing-stuff moments I’ve had in a while. Extra shot of gospel there, and it was glorious.

I don’t think I’ve discussed this here before, but I go to this Bible study for UT students that’s run by one of the associate pastors at my church and his wife. There’s always dinner beforehand (homemade, and always good), and we go through books of the Bible each semester. Greg and Mary Jane are about my parents’ age, and they have kids a little older than me and the rest of us, so not only are we fed and taught, there’s an interesting sort of surrogate parent-child relationship set up. It’s like–well, no, it’s not like family, it is family, and I’m grateful for them. (And watermelon. Yum.)

Anyway, I am feeling very much spoiled these days. I have been given much. Of me much will be, and has been, required.

the living room recommends…

Live classical music
Go to the symphony. Go to choral concerts. When you actually watch an orchestra or chorus or opera company do what they do, as opposed to listening to a recording, it can be electrifying, in a different way than a rock show can. Better with a friend or loved one. (Take a jacket or a wrap or or a sweater or something; concert halls, unlike clubs, are usually freezing.)

Listening to good preaching
One of the ways God has sustained my sanity and sanctification the past few years has been to land me in churches with good preachers, and to direct me to others around the world. Expository preaching of the Word can feed your soul like nothing else, friends.

Taking care of your car’s issues as soon as possible
Had I actually heeded this, I would now have a car. (Farewell, Jimmy; you were an excellent and praiseworthy machine.) However…

I’ve been sort of forced into this by not having a car, but walking, y’all. It’s good for you. Sure, it takes longer, and sure, you may be a sweaty mess at the end of it, but it makes you slow down and take a look at the scenery. You can plug in your headphones and jam. You get some good cardio. You get some sun and fresh air, if you’re into that. I’ve lost three pounds this week. It’s awesome.

Staying hydrated
I can’t really emphasize this enough–it’s hot out there, y’all, especially if you’re in Texas like me. Drink water. It keeps you from getting overheated, your body likes it, and it’s more or less free if you get it from the tap. Seriously. Invest in one of those giant Nalgene bottles and drink up.

Waterdeep are a rock band originally from Kansas City or thereabouts (I think) and now they’re in Nashville just like everyone else making Christian music. Don’t let the “Christian” thing scare you off if it usually does; these folks write thoughtful, intelligent music about life and love and occasionally about Jesus. A sample:

mix tape monday

This week is (possibly) a double-disc edition. Instructions: Sort your music library by song title. Take the first song starting with each letter of the alphabet, 26 songs in all. Post it here. Should be interesting!

1. Vampire Weekend, “A-Punk”
2. Over the Rhine, “B.P.D.”
3. Fol Chen, “Cable TV”
4. U2, “Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car”
5. Iron & WIne, “Each Coming Night”
6. Chris Rice, “The Face of Christ”
7. Foy Vance, “Gabriel and the Vagabond”
8. Veggie Tales, “The Hairbrush Song”
9. David Shook, “I”
10. Over the Rhine, “Jacksie”
11. Ben Folds Five, “Kalamazoo”
12. Brooklyn Rider, “La Muerte Chiquita”
13. Vampire Weekend, “M79”
14. Chris Rice, “Naive”
15. Mandy Ihrig, “O Come All Ye Faithful”
16. Bajofondo Tango Club, “Pa’Bailar”
17. Beck, “Que Ondo Guero?”
18. Andy Osenga, “The Race Is On”
19. Spanish Harlem Orchestra, “Sacala Bailar”
20. Derek Webb, “T-Shirts (What We Should Be Known For)”
21. U2, “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)”
22. Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken, “Valentine”
23. Patty Griffin, “Wade In the Water”
24. Coldplay, “X&Y”
25. U2, “Yahweh”
26. Ben Folds, “Zak and Sara”

(run time: 1:46:31)

*face melts off*

The “Allegro” from Bach’s third Brandenberg Concerto, arranged for two violins, double bass, mandolin, acoustic guitar, and banjo:

Notice two things:
*The name of the venue (heh)
*Chris Thile (the mandolinist) is not using sheet music at all. That man is a crazy genius.

thursday 13!

This week: Thirteen more rules that you try to live by.

1. In many cases, a local place will give you better service than a national chain. Not all the time, but enough that you should pay attention.

2. Turn in things on time. Honor deadlines. (Coffee is usually helpful with this.)

3. There’s too much to do with your life, whether it’s practical stuff like cleaning or getting work done, or creative stuff like your bucket list or that giant list of projects you have; there’s absolutely no reason you should be bored, ever. 🙂

4. One thing I’ve started to live by: Try not to eat anything with ingredients that you can’t readily identify. I have no idea what that multisyllabic chemical thing is; I should probably not put it in my body. (It’s harder, however, to kick my Diet Coke habit…)

5. Don’t go watch movies at the theater by yourself. It totally sucks.

6. Being hydrated is an excellent thing. Drink water, and you will feel less like you want to die. 😉

7. Get outside. Being inside a lot makes you depressed, seriously.

8. You don’t have to be interesting all the time.

9. This is also a recent development: Unless you really can’t hit that note, sing the melody during church. 🙂

10. Don’t let your gas tank get below 1/8 full. Bad things happen when you try that. 😉

11. Savor books. Write in them, if you can. Spend good time with them.

12. Take notes. You’re not going to remember stuff if you don’t write it down, so write it down.

13. Don’t go through life alone. Be grateful to and for the people you have.