On Hunger

A good movie watching experience.

So, recently I watched the first three “Hunger Games” movies. I have not read the books and I proceed with the greatest respect, affirmation, and affection for two of my friends who hold the nobler feelings and attraction of “The Hunger Games” close.

I also highly recommend watching “The Hunger Games” in a post-Soviet country (you may stock up on readily available sunflower seeds and libations to get through the scary, improbable, and “romantic” portions if need be).

While they have enough incongruities and forced drama never to be great literature, they are better than the critics non-existent attempts to create something less vampire filled and more real world wrestling.

Now we may proceed…

The Star

The story exists in a land where poison is used as a political routine, famine is plotted, workers trudge about in gray while filling quotas, technology is highly advanced while most people live hundreds of years behind, communication is terrifying, and you do all that you can to save your own…because there is not much more to hold on to.

So far, we are on familiar footing.

Then we have this world feeling inspired by a teenager killing people and singing badly on TV. Oh, and a more or less selfish love story.
People get the fan club stuff, dress the part, and sing the songs.

Familiar grounds, to some extent? Maybe.

While, a real revolution being inspired on such grounds is new. We like the unlikely hero, but is Katniss even heroic? And what, if anything besides personal survival, is holding people together for this fighting activity? And is Katniss really the most inspiring person in 70 years of servitude? Because…if so, there are deeper issues afoot.

The Triangle

I realize that the whole Gale vs. Peeta thing is an internet battle field, but let us suggest a solution. Katniss and Gale can adopt Peeta as their child. This way they can protect him from the world more easily and when called for, he can be their sedative and therapeutic influence/contrasting character for thematic effect.

In all seriousness, though… Peeta and Katniss are not heroes. This does not make them unlikable or wrong characters, I just think it should be noted.

Peeta never does anything (besides maybe warning people a few minutes ahead of an attack after blubbing repeatedly on TV). All of his actions are motivated by “his like” for Katniss and, as I hope all girls in the world know, these sorts of actions should not be trusted as self-sacrificial or future patterns.

Katniss is narrow-sighted and selfish on almost every occasion. She repeatedly only does things to save her own family or whine about Peeta. Yes. She is brave. But I think this condemns her actions in general because she could use her bravery a lot more often. xP

May I suggest that, if it is possible that people remain under such servitude for 70 years, it is because most of them are from the same cloth as Peeta and Katniss?

Gale…on the other hand, protects old women, decides to stay when he hears things are going to get worse (while Peeta and Katniss want to run off into the woods), and routinely sacrifices his desires/safety for the random and dangerous needs of others.

The love triangle seems to be between Katniss, as a woman, wanting to help someone and be part of something with a mission or be with a man who will listen to her, refuse to challenge her, and is easily controlled. Who wins? And why is this so attractive to young women?

I just think it should be noted.

I have Questions

Like the revolution fighting in kind with the capitol (propaganda, betrayal, playing God with decisions of life and death, etc.) the movie shows violence while critiquing a society’s fascination with it… It actually does a very similar thing with the romance and the ideas behind the revolution itself.

Basically, there are a lot of questions. A lot of interesting, relevant, close, and thought provoking questions. But no answers and nowhere to go with them. Is this bad or good?

Maybe neither. Maybe just unconscious or conscious reflections. Just to be noted.

But John Rabe is good.
The romance and heroism is magnificent.


The Tale of the Shoes

Walking in the rain and talking about social change, eternity, right or wrong reasons for immigration... Relaxing Saturday.
Walking in the rain and talking about social change, eternity, right and wrong reasons for immigration… Relaxation on a Saturday.

On the first of September it turned Oregon November in Ukraine. And so it was that we went forth and searched for shoes.

Besides shoes for various and sundry bridal party needs, annual flip-flops, and bi-annual Crocs, these are my first shoes since before my first voyage (flight, truthfully) to Europe.

These are also my first boots of all time. My sister, may she rest in peace (actually, she’s not dead, but she is 6000 miles away which is BASICALLY THE SAME THING), once gave me an illustrious duo of black beauties, but they frightened me with their “cunning, little heels” and chic wiles and I never wore them beyond my room. Also, they were too small for my fat feet).

Why? Well, once I went to Europe I kept going back to Europe and so I became increasingly poor. And because, when I shop, I never find the right shoes.
(This may or may not be connected with the incident when the here-unnamed-friend dropped a rock on my foot and the x-rays and boots thereafter did not properly diagnose and correct the issue. Doctors waited several years to decide the foot in question had been, indeed, broken and healed incorrectly and now this individual careens about with multi-sized feet.)

Besides boots…

Hours of fun-filled-entertainment with stray puppies at bus stops.
Hours of fun-filled-entertainment + fleas with stray puppies at bus stops.

We have two or so hours of English Club four nights a week. The people are patient. Sometimes we end in awkward silence because I bombed the lesson. Sometimes we end by loudly staggering out the door, drunk on the milk of human kindness. This may also be because I bombed the lesson. All in all, my English is leaving me and continues to be elusive the moment someone asks a question about past-continuous rot or some-such.
But…we beat on against the current.

At first, I was indifferent about Kyiv. Now it is full of feelz and the best fall wind in my head.
At first, I was indifferent about Kyiv. Now it is full of feelz and the best fall wind in my head.

Tuesday from 11pm-Friday to 4:30am, I was either on train track or metro or in Kyiv. Our presbytery was having presbytery and so many wise men gathered in a white room and talked of their churches and roared Psalms and passed motions and things of this nature. I took notes. Tried, that is. And heard a lot of English and felt like I wasn’t in Ukraine anymore with the western catering hotel and all. I got a little panicky (but not as panicky as I did when we took an escalator down, down, down into the belly of the earth and launched ourselves into the subway cars, body surfing/punching people in the eye due to the crowd and lack of air).

It was very good to see various people from all over. Unfortunately, key Oregon + Alaskan persons had not completed their tests on the dehydration gun and were unable to attend via my Oregon pastor’s luggage. I did, however, receive a wealth of notes, desperately needed grammar and energy building/English reminding literature, and meds.

Tank sitting. One of my favorite locations to ponder in Kyiv. xP
Tank sitting. One of my favorite positions from which to think in Kyiv. xP

When I think about my existence, which thankfully is not happening too much right now because of a full to-do list and THIS:

Destroying me emotionally and physically. Thanks, mom.
Destroying my life, emotionally and physically. Thanks, mom.

I always get frustrated with my interests and lack of multi-tasking abilities. I want to write all the things. But I have a tremendously hard time writing both journalism and fiction projects at the same time and I have an even harder time writing while teaching. This has caused friction in multiple seasons of my life. My creativity and energy, I think, are easily drained. xP And since neither teaching nor writing are highly lucrative (at least at my skill level), I still need to be doing some other job. But to get over that great hill of writing, I think it takes full concentration and bravery and, if you are working somewhere else, that is…tricky.

Working on my Ukrainian/preparing for our weekly Bible study/creating my own very messy parallel Bible.

I would like to go this language program and continue to do something like English club both here and in Oregon, wherever I am supposed to be when. xP But I also know that I could probably learn the same things by rigid self-study and save the money/multi-task doing my other duties/actually do it.

I would also like to write. About everything, but especially about Ukraine and Ukrainian people. Also, the novel that I have 12 versions of, all of which inspire disappointed nausea.

I would also like to interview and write about people from all over the world and their view of America, immigration, and freedom at large. You know.

I would also like to work in a coffee shop to gather all the knowledge and experience I can so someday, maybe, in my dreams I can start a coffee shop. A coffee shop where I can make people eat and create a peaceful corner and have people come and talk about weird things like bee keeping or the synoptic problem and cultivate and share the virus of learning and be refreshed.

I would also like to sleep on my sister’s steps about now and to get together and drink red wine and hot apple cider with all my family and talk about helicopters with my nephew and meet at a coffee shop with my revolutionary brother-in-arms (aka, Miss Lauren) and generally sit in my Oregon church’s ugly orange pews.

I would also like to never have to say goodbye to anyhow here. To be useful. In Ukraine.

…But never be parted from anyone I love on any continent. To never have to think about money or health. To be able to read and write all night and never be sleepy. And to have the entire amazing Bible memorized for instant recall. To see clearly all the things. And to eat kale salad from a mysterious never emptying tin can.
I think my wants are moderate… xP

But all in all, I feel perfectly content, endlessly happy, eternally thankful to be where I am, doing what I am.
And I am sure I will get to talk about helicopters and drink hot apple cider in 37 days. ❤ But, I think, I will leave my boots here.

Who knows what life is about besides JESUS and HIS PEOPLE everywhere… And working until the fingernails are black and the sweat rolls off and you have good pages in your fingers and messed-up, beautiful people around you drinking tea and you feel the deep throb of the heart when it is maxed out and full and every bone in you cries, “this life, with all it’s tragic beauty, YES.” because “JESUS.”

I hope you experienced this feeling, because I think maybe it is as home as it gets.


For now.

A Weekend in Scanty Sayings

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Our bus complete with a stock of duct tape, rubber bands, and a driver that never abandoned me anywhere.

I would like to say I’m growing up fast. One day I walked two blocks alone. Another day I took the trolleybus alone. Another I took a bus 7 hours alone. And then I took a bus 9 hours alone.

The 7 hour and the 9 hour covered the same ground, but the first only had problems with the steering wheel and the other needed the engine to be gazed upon and the tires to be kicked, along with other frequent TLC/survival rituals.

But, even 9 hours in a bus in 90 degree weather crowded with people who are afraid of drafts, is pleasant when most of the fellow prisoners are kind and the people on both ends of the journey are deeply wonderful.

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After arriving and eating magical borscht, we walked around the city and saw things that were grand, mostly because friends dwell among them and because I was not thinking about how bad I am at teaching English.
Also, we sampled some wine and that was nice.

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Some clouds for my friend, Lindsey.

It was a honor to worship with the church there and see everyone again. And then drink minty lemonade and talk about fish.

Then there were a series of good experiences with museums full of weddings and one funeral (I wanted to crash the funeral desperately) and strange things and fizzy water and general warmness and then snow and ancient Egypt… Yes. Good times.

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Last August Sunrise

And then there was more food. Potato pancakes and probably the best meat that has ever touched my lips. Veggies too. And berries and more music and Psalm singing/observing (when my phone wasn’t overheating, I was getting videos for those of us who are either language or music impaired. Or both).

Then talking about what has happened and what may happen in Ukraine. And what should happen. And what can happen. And…cry.

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Sunrise on the bus ride home. Before it was 90 degrees and all.

On the way home, I mostly scared myself when I spoke. “Who’s speaking English here???” I thought, and then laid my head back down and go to a new music album and secretly watch a man pop his glass eye in and out of its socket. Things of this nature while I maintained a state of mild delirium.

And then this happened:

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Soldiers from various villages got in our bus. And one middle aged couple parted in front of my window.

And generally I had lots of feelings.

In an effort to quit crying with my head under my backpack, I drew this bad picture at a bus stop. Sometimes I have to draw horrible pictures and eat and sleep for awhile before I can write about things.

Then I came home and did this:

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Preparing for English Club + More sad art skills.

But first I actually took the most glorious shower of all time and ate the coldest, most beautiful water melon discovered by man.