Saturday, May 31, 2008


I worship a whole lot more than I think about worship.

I think that's how it's supposed to work.

I've been around starstruck people long enough to know that people like to worship. I don't want to overgeneralize, but I know that I personally enjoy focusing on something I perceive as more wonderful than me.

I don't know, I also enjoy focusing on myself quite a bit as well.

But lately I am not enough. I'm really never enough.

C.S. Lewis thought of joy as the desire for something Out There to worship.

This is a more melancholy definition of "joy" than, say, "incessant optimism" or "pleasure in life".

Joy, to me, is not the happiness one derives from eating nachos, although that is a perfectly valid emotion. The eating of nachos by me may happen tonight. (That may be the most ridiculous, not to mention passive, sentence ever to appear on this blog.)

It is not the giddiness I feel when I read Douglas Adams. I just started reading Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. My favorite part so far is the Guide's explanation of Babel fish and how they are used as an argument against the existence of God. You must read Hitchhiker's. I'm not sure why it took this long for me.

Joy, to me, is something incandescent that surprises you and fulfills you regardless of your current circumstances. It's an eye that sees the future and knows that it's good.

I don't know what my life has in store. I waffle back and forth about my "plans" for my future on an hourly basis. But I believe that it will be a joyful adulthood. I believe this because joy is not about what happens to you... joy comes with journeys. It's a fruit... not necessarily an end.

Ghandi once said, "Joy lies in the fight, the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself."

And it's also a propeller. As Helen Keller said (or fingerspelled, I guess), joy is a holy fire that keeps purpose warm.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fact: I'm excited that they're replaying Season Four of Beauty and the Geek.

I missed it the first time because I didn't have a TV, but I fondly recall Season Three from that fateful year in which I traded Spider Solitaire for reality TV as my mindless homework distraction of choice. I even watched like one (or two or three) episodes of I Love New York, mostly for New York's mother, who is scary, but fascinating.

I started developing reality TV theories and becoming very interested in the idea of editing reality television so that real people, who are boring, can eventually become fake people who sound stupid, via the magic of snipping film and technology.

Fortunately, that level of reality TV-watching was very shortlived, but I retained a soft spot in my heart for Beauty and the Geek.

Anyway, I watched the third season. I think I cried--joy, not sorrow--at Nate's makeover. I mean, here we have a Harvard student... who is a consummate geek... but in a cool way... and now he expresses his style in a way that makes me go a little crazy. The ties! The stubble! Ok. Ok.

And I always thought his band was cool... but anyway.

Like most of the population, I am too dumb and socially aware to be a "geek," but I am not pretty enough to be a "beauty." And I hate that I can think of myself in those terms because our culture is that stratified. I want to say real life is not high school, but it sort of is. So a show that kind of slaps us in the face with our own high-schoolness is not, on the whole, a bad thing.

Furthermore, a show that teaches guys to not wear socks with sandals is undoubtedly a good thing.

And it seems like people really do learn something and grow from being on the show, as cheesy as it sounds. Niels Hoven was on season three as a prospective engineer, and now he is... get this... a social coach. He may not have a PhD, but he is branching out and I'm sure that if he wants to go further with his engineering track in the future, the communication skills that he is developing now will help him in any case.

(I liked Niels, too.)

Everything I've heard about Season 4 makes me believe that I may not like it as much; it's certainly got a lot of changes... but it's also got a lot of heart. (Cue the barf.) Which is what I like about the show... it's like entertainment plus pocket protectors plus nice. And I love entertainment.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stuff That Should Come Back.

It has occurred to me that I am old enough to have been around for some trends that, if they returned, could be considered "retro."

Oh, jeez. Just thinking about that makes me want to get married and pop out babies. For a single woman faced with graduation and life decisions, "retro" is another synonym for "your biological clock is ticking."

(The future of my eggs notwithstanding, I'm also a little cool with being old enough for "retro." It's a new and exciting thing to be old enough for "retro." It means I can be a career woman.)

There are also some things that are returning--jelly shoes, I'm thinking of you--which should not return. Ever.

("Jelly shoes" is a synonym for "kind of ugly things that cause massive amounts of sweat on feet in summer months.")

But anyway, I've thought about it a lot, and I think that "The Secret World of Alex Mack" should return.

Also poised for a resurgence is "The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo."

Basically, what I am saying is "Bring back very formulaic television shows aimed at children that are nevertheless funky and entertaining, and have appealing child actors who will never, you know, do a Hannah."

I say that the shows are funky and entertaining from memory. Maybe, at my now retro-level of age, I might not think so. I'm hoping that I would, but you never know. The sets of spin-off Alex Mack and Shelby Woo novels are still, however, at my local library. I should check them out.


I am also fighting for the return of the WWJD bracelet. In His Steps, not so much. The WWJD phenomenon was commercial, it was big, and it approached tackiness. And it didn't just approach it. It embodied it. There was WWJD everything. But everybody's favorite was the bracelet. Maybe it was because the bracelet was like a buck-fifty and the sterling-silver picture frames, mugs, and closed-toed pumps were not.

Well, I think the bracelet should come back. A Number One, we haven't had a huge Bracelet Trend since Lance Armstrong. A Number Two, the bracelet is appealingly ambiguous. While it can, and most often, means "What Would Jesus Do?" you can substitute any WWJD acronym on days when you have no faith. Once you start with the sterling-silver picture frames and the cassette with Big Tent Revival and Rebecca St. James, it pretty much has to mean "What Would Jesus Do?"

I'm seriously looking for a new bracelet... preferably in a burgundy color, similar to one I think I had in 1997. I'm not sure what color I actually had, but it might have been burgundy.

And finally, Tinkerbell. Now, because she is affiliated with Disney, Inc., Tinkerbell never really left, but I like her anyway and I want to find a pendant with her crazy-pixie image on it, dang it! Girl was SPITFIRE.

And by the way, I still think the book Peter Pan is one of the best books ever written, and certainly the best ever written for children.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

me vs. world

ME: Hello, world. I'm going to grow up now.

WORLD: It's about ding-dang time. You're really irresponsible, Claire.

ME: Yeah, I know. You don't have to rub it in.

WORLD: I mean, your mom has to remind you to--

ME: Yeah, I know--you really don't have to rub it in.

WORLD: Have you even thought about writing the request letter to the registrar's office so that they will forward your transcript to the scholarship foundation, ensuring your final year of undergraduate schooling will not act as a trebuchet and catapult the medieval castle of your young life with a massive, debt-sized boulder, reminiscent of the siege of Lisbon in 1147?

ME: (brief pause) Well, I've given it a bit of thought... but no, no action, no.

WORLD: Are you sure you want to grow up?

ME: (eternal pause) Yes. Yes, I do.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Sometimes, in my more cynical of moments,*I wonder why I believe.

*I have cynical moments fairly often. Isn't doubt important? (I read John Patrick Shanley and Rene Descartes.)

Why, at the core, I am a Bible-belt old Southern girl who likes church. I mean, my church has coffee and cute little kids... but I'd still like it otherwise.

And then I remember. It's because I don't have to be the model Bible-belt, old Southern girl to like it.

I may often suck as a person... and I do. I may often make mistakes... and I do.

I do not have a five-fold ministry.

I do not speak Christianese, unless somebody has neglected to tell me that Christianese now includes "See, here's the thing--whatever, doode, I don't care."

I haven't worn a skirt to church in a really, really long time. Last Sunday I wore my raggedy jeans. (Sorry, Mom. They were clean!)

But sometimes I remember that I'd really like the fruit of the Spirit in my life. So I'm going to try to post some periodic reflections on the fruit of the Spirit... starting with this one.


This one is the hard one, but it also is the foundation for all of the others.

Love is the opposite of narcissism.

Love is a cognitive and social phenomenon.

Love never fails. This tells me that I don't have enough of it, because my middle name is actually "Sporadic Quitter." Commitment? Pfft. Naaah. It's whatever, doode.

Love is what propels me out of bed and into the world. I just want to make a connection with people, however slight or meaningful. I would be starved without it.

Love makes me believe in God. God makes me believe in love.

To anyone who has ever loved me, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Where would anyone be without comrades, colleagues, crushes? Deep loves, devoted friends, determined parents?

To anyone who hasn't, it's whatever, doode. One day I hope to love you anyway and until then, I'll be propelling myself out of bed and into the world, looking for love in whatever face comes my way.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Oh great, not another list... I mean...

This week's honorable mentions go to...

Babies. Spending the weekend with a couple of enchanting young (ok, very, very young) men was not only restful, but necessary. I charmed a one-month old with digestive issues into naptime and I feel like I have accomplished something wonderful.

The beach. Here's to long walks.

Guys and Dolls. And by this I mean the 1955 film starring Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons and Vivian Blaine. Now, why does this movie merit an honorable mention? It is, first of all, Guys and Dolls, one of the most fun musicals of all time--despite being the most popular musical performed in high schools today. And even though it cuts some of my favorite songs, only to add new ones which are not as good and don't keep to the spirit of the movie, it's still got Fugue for Tinhorns and Oldest Established. It has Frank Sinatra singing. It has Marlon Brando (sort 0f) singing. It has a sewer, Jerry Orbach, and that script! That script makes up for every funky camera angle. That script has some of the cheesiest, inverted, stilted lines ever to descend from Sheldon Leonard's sneering lips, and I couldn't be happier. Example:

Harry the Horse: I just acquired five thousand fish.
Nicely-Nicely Johnson: Five thousand? If it can be told, where did you take on this fine bundle of lettuce?
Harry the Horse: I have nothing to hide. I collected the reward on my father.
Benny Southstreet: It is an advantage to have a successful father. Nobody ever wanted my old man for as much as five hundred.

I don't think any of those guys use any contractions at all.

Similarly, On The Town. It might be all about sailors looking for a little hanky-panky, but this show/1949 film had some of the pluckiest, most independent musical heroines of its time (hello, Brunhilde Esterhazy!).

I blame Betty Comden.

Again, why do they always cut the best songs for the movie version of Broadway hits? But still... it's got Gene Kelly directing and dancing his heart out with Vera-Ellen.


C.S. Lewis. Not just as an observer or theologian. For his voice.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

How this Year Has Changed Me

This post is inspired by a Facebook note a friend of mine wrote to commemorate the end of her freshman year of college.

I haven't been a freshman for a while, but this year has still been pretty epic.

How I've Changed:
1. I've realized more accurately how I act when I am pushed into leadership situations. I can be fairly heinous. I see this as a character flaw. Working on that.

2. I can throw back Italian moonshine. Who knew? I didn't. However, I'm entirely certain it will never pass my lips again.

3. I'm pretty open to the idea of being pretty open to new ideas about where I'm going in a year and what I'm doing. I feel like last year, I had the next five years of my life planned out so well, and now I'm considering running away to join the circus... or at least going to North Dakota or Singapore or something. I think going to Italy just reinforced my impression that, hey, there' s a lot of the world that I have never seen, and that's just a shame.

And graduate school? Heck, I have no idea. Help.

4. Je suis en train d'apprendre un zillion langues. Pourquoi? Parce que je crois que Dieu ce voudrais... et pour les possibilités de carrière.

5. I have a huge appreciation for sympathetic roommates. I wish my last roommate well, but we were not compatible. This time, however, a couple of geeky language and theatre nerds hit the jackpot. Every time I look at Thesis, I miss you.

How I've Stayed the Same:
1. I still have no appreciation for wine whatsoever.

2. I have the exact same taste in books and movies. Furthermore, I haven't really read or watched many new things; I haven't had the time.

3. I still want to get a doctorate whenever I see the faculty in their funky academic regalia. To be honest, this is one of the things that has contributed most to my confusion about graduate school.
4. I still need to try writing plays that don't suck.

5. I still am not enough like Jesus, on a lot of levels.

6. I still cut my own hair. Only not this summer; I'm growing it out until it drives me crazy. I want to be able to do something fun with it for the show. This may include bribing the makeup/hair designer.