and I knew that the Willamette Valley is the most beautiful place on earth.
and that spring was almost gone already.
and some of my favorite trees had died. #oldmarleyatthelodgeisdead
i drank a lot of green tea to cope. lol. xP
and everything went into quarantine, including Harrison, in a new attempt/idea about our illnesses.
and then somehow we ended up at the beach again. #classic
with all 12 (two hiding still) nieces and nephews.
and lots of sunshine and chocolate.
and then I came back to my meth house.
this one time, I scheduled my eye exam at the wrong clinic and so mostly went Costco/New Seasons shopping. And so this is Harrison sitting on my coming nephew.
and this is camels (aka tulips, aka you should watch Brothers Bloom more often).
this is what I ate in celebration of a 65 hour lunch-breakless, running on your feet work week completed, because of my-brother-in-arms got me raisin snacks at Dollar Tree. And all people know that raisin snacks, at least in the days of childhood, are the measure of ones standing in the world.
and now I am sitting here drinking chocolate, thinking about all the beautiful things in life, and how everything will leave you (including your dog that has cancer) and that all homes are either taken away from you or spit you out. And how it’s nearly impossible to make decisions, let alone know what you want.
And so… I really need Jesus. And that’s probably a fine place to be.
It’s one thing to know. It’s another to act on the knowing. It’s another to feel. But joy and thankfulness are not outside of our control, and…when it comes down to it…life is beautiful and mine is Jesus’ and it is good. And I have everything. More than I could have imagined.
But I need to stop having so many feelings so this blog isn’t such a loser. Call myself a writer… Blughadug.
The concept of home is important to me. *cough, cough*
I remember very vividly throwing up in my car seat when we drove away from our first house for the last time. I had just learned how to climb the fruit trees crammed in our 1/2 acre lot.
Leaving our last house has already been documented and whined about sufficiently enough here. Suffice to say that I am, at heart, a homebody. The problem is, sometimes you do something stupid and everything gets all discombobulated. Like, one day you get on a plane to Ukraine. That sort of thing.
And…BAM… Life is ruined and/or made into something even more wonderful and beautiful and filling-uppish than you ever imagined.
But still… it kind of stinks. To be woken up to the fact that you will never be all home. On this side of alive anyways. Or something. I don’t know. And this is why we need to talk about meth.
I returned to America on October 29th. I would like to say that I began unpacking the next morning (not my stuff from Ukraine [I left most of it there]), but my entire life which had been so graciously boxed and moved in my absence. But I didn’t.
I “finished” unpacking on December 24th.
A few days later, we moved out.
This is because everyone had been sick since October. At first we were shut-ins. We naturally assumed we had a bout of the Black Plague. A few people, however, braved our white chalked doors–comrades, my mom, the mailman–none of which contracted any crippling symptoms.
Eventually, after a lot of rounds of The Incredibles and howling in the night, it was decided our issues must be provoked by environmental variables.
We tested the house. Methamphetamine and formaldehyde (and a few other things associated with addiction, crime, and the preservation of dead bodies) came back. But after more intense testing, all of these were below “threat levels.”
My nieces and nephews missed literally every Christmas and New Years extravaganza. Some of us have seen some improvement since moving out. Some have gotten worse in the last week or two. We still have no clue what is going on. Or what to do next. YOLO. xP
Although it is the worst to watch little people be sick (and I’m sure their parents would have a thing or two to say about four months of sleepless nights), they do help you keep your sense of humor/reality.
3-year-old-nephew: draw me a fridge.
*I draw fridge*
3-year-old-nephew: draw a biiiiiigggg fridge. with a water thing.
*I draw a fridge*
3-year-old-nephew: draw me a really tallllllll fridge. don’t forget the water thing.
*I draw a fridge*
3-year-old-nephew: draw me a fridge with the door open. And ice cream.
*I draw a fridge*
3-year-old-nephew: me a tiny, tiny fridge.
*I draw a fridge.*
3-year-old-nephew: awe. It’s sooo cuuute.
3-year-old-nephew: make it on fire.
6-year-old-niece: what does that say?
me: can you read any of it?
6-year-old-niece: there is “all.” And “love.” Because it is almost Valentine’s Day.
me: it’s actually a gift for [person I was staying with at the time’s] wedding. It says, “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” And, “love never fails.”
*extended moment of contemplation*
6-year-old-niece: but sometimes it does.
Aw, yes. But not Jesus.
This may sound more angry Godish than I intend, but life seems kind of like a series of God showing you the stupidity of the idols you’ve been leaning on. I feel like there has been a very distinct chain of this in my life. And all things have hurt, and all things have been good.
“Security” and “knowing what to do” are getting a hard hitting at the moment.
Also, since last we spoke, I started my worst paying, most labor intensive job of all time. Which I love tremendously and which makes me invariably high (no drug houses needed, thank you very much).
I’ve never had just one job at once and I’ve had a wide variety of jobs in general…but this is the first job ever that I can’t really take home with me (or does not exist in my home, on the desk two inches from my bed when I try to sleep, or in my laptop, Hector, etc.). It is a weird experience. And it is good when you’re on the move/homeless. 😉
Basically I get to go through the rituals of normal living and make people eat and drink coffee and get paid for it. Also, hang out with old people.
Quote from a resident observer on my 3rd week or so: Well, it looks like she’s still incompetent, but she’s having fun!
This post is deceitfully titled for effect (I learned how to do that in journalism school). We aren’t really on the other side of this yet. I’m not sure I’ve actually learned anything. In general my nervous system and brain are just freaking out these days anyways.
I mostly just feel, right now, that I am watching “my wonderful plan for my life (and/or next summer)” crumble up with days off work and doctor and being homeless bills.
But, the Lord puts a table in the valley and in front of our enemies when there’s still a lot of fighting to be done. Celebration occurs in the valley. It is with Jesus.
There are many ways of shepherding. And many ways of needing to be shepherded.
Happy Christmas. Merry New Year. Celebratorious almost Epiphany. Let us congratulate each other on being one holiday season closer to our inevitable deaths.
And, since I don’t want to talk about the fact that our new house has meth fumes in it (from before our day) and we all had to move out…let us move on quickly.
Instigated by my comrade at yonder wicket gate (who finally blogged!), I return with a list of books/gifts/worlds/balms to the soul/glorious destructions to the heart experienced in 2015.
Best Fiction: The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene. I confess this was my first Graham Greene book/knowledge of his existence experience. Unnamed “whiskey priest” + communism + firing squads + sparse, insightful style with mildly abstract philosophical undertones. Awe yiss.Other gems included, but are not limited to: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. Essentially everything…and creepily like reading my soul with a greater writing style and a completely different personality. You know those stories you come back and see how much they shaped your life. I felt like that…only I hadn’t read it before. Go Set a Watchman,by Harper Lee. Not for it’s style or construction so much… Just that one scene.
Other Notables: Handbook to Prayer, by Kenneth Boa. Journalism, by Joe Sacco. Not for the worldview, but for the dedication, brevity, and bravery of his work. Favorite angsty, liberal journalist thus far. WORLD Magazine Policy Book, by Marvin Olasky and others. This was helpful on all levels of writing, but unfortunately is not available to the public at large. The Loving Life: In A World of Broken Relationships,by Paul Miller. Because it was purgatorial in its convicting-ness and much more direct, inspiring than his The Praying Life.
Book most Likely to be thrown across Room: 1984,by George Orwell. I came to the last page at 3am screaming “NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!” And it did not respond like Hollywood… It just ended. And I loved it so.
How my thoughts progressed from page 1-328:
a) This is weird b) His descriptions are genius. c) I want to write just like him when I grow up. d) I miss communist apartment buildings. e) Don’t do that. f) This is why all revolutions fail. We need God/Jesus/the Bible/just not ourselves. g) If this is going where I think it’s going, I will go on a killing spree. h) Why did I just get pet rats. i) no. j) I hate everyone and everything. k) There must be hope. l) There must be hope. n) There must be hope. m) I seriously can’t go to bed with the world standing as it is at this moment. o) NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! p) I knew it. I hate him. And I want to die. q) Silence. r) It couldn’t have ended any other way. s) George Orwell is a genius…basically I love big brother, but actually George Orwell.
Peter Sis is a genius. On display also in the magnificent The Wall: Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain (the first anything I discovered that gave the right vibes to help me understand the penetrating and lasting presence of 50-90s British and American music in post-Soviet countries).Also: I find an author I like. I find out they have ties to eastern Europe. #classic.
Most Despised Book: The Planet of the Wind (the Little Prince #1) by Delphine Dubos. This book offended me on every frequency. Unlike Peter Sis, I felt that, despite her obvious fascination with Saint-Exupéry, she entirely failed to understand or respect him and his creations. Of course, that could be me, but I remain scared and affronted.
The Movie World
Most Soul Vibe/Earth Shatter type Movie: The Wind that Shakes the Barley, directed by Ken Louch and written by Paul Laverty. I don’t know about historical accuracy and all that per se, but this is a movie among men. Although I’ve seen it multiple times now (some of my friends are too scared to watch it without my fast-forwarding of the fingernails scene…cough, cough), our first encounter went down like this:
Bethany has not cried for a long time. Bethany has been reading news about people dying in Ukraine all day. Bethany has no idea if she is going to be able to do any of the things she wants to in this life. Bethany begins to wonder about the meaning of life, freedom, and the commonality of man. Bethany cannot sleep because of these eternal questions (also, she had the flu, which was probably the true cause of sleeplessness). Bethany gets out iPod. Bethany watches The Wind that Shakes the Barley. Bethany is able to cry profusely. Bethany is released by someone expressing many vibes and feels and complexities that she could not. Bethany sleeps like a babe, hoping she will be a good writer someday. Bethany wakes up and makes everyone else watch this movie, apologizing to the relevant party after each traumatic experience. A new world is open…cinematographicly, Irishly and questionwise, storywise.
Movie most likely to be seen in Russian: Red Lights,written and directed by Rodrigo Cortés. We had to move on to the Russian language because seeing it 5 times in 4 months calls for a change of pace. Say yes to this experience. Even if you don’t like it, you have to appreciate some of its qualities.
P.S. Cillian Murphy did enter my life with force this year, in case you were wondering.
Best Movie Surprise: Brooklyn, directed by John Crowley and written by Nick Hornby (screenplay) and Colm Tóibín (novel). Mum and I went to this only knowing that it was about immigrants and New York (more than enough). And that I needed to get out of the house and was too sick for much else. A very good and rewarding decision. Excellent.Irish movies also appear to be a thing this year for me… Not sure how I feel about that.
Best Theater Movie: Far from the Madding Crowd, directed by Thomas Vinterberg and written by Thomas Hardy (novel) and David Nicholls (screenplay). I have a thing for all of Thomas Hardy’s crusty, belligerent characters and stories and this new adaption delivered it with all the beautiful music, landscape, heart-rending glances, romantic baby lamb gifts, random-shot-gun-blasting, etc. that anyone could possibly think to ask. I don’t like what this movie does to me. It is excellent.
Of course I enjoyed the latest Avengers and other theater going experiences as well.
Ever-abiding Movie of Choice:The Brothers Bloom, directed and written by Rian Johnson. It’s been several years since I fell in love with this magic, but it deserves to be mentioned as it was thoroughly enjoyed this year. Also, I would just like to say that even though I haven’t seen any Star Wars, I’m kind of excited for #8 seeing as how Rian Johnson is directing…
Other Visual Things.
1. Best Mini-Series: Generation War,written by Stefan Kolditz. Despite the many soul-thrilling discoveries I made this year, this is the very best. The story, the way it is filmed, the characters, the perspectives, the comradeship, the inner war aspects…You rarely find something that speaks to you in all the ways you want to speak to the world/be/are scared to admit like this 3-part beast so fully is.
(Not for the faint of heart/people who can’t deal with other German storytelling such as Erich Maria Remarque. Even when they are mildly blasphemous or more than usually confusing, I can’t help admiring all the German films or books I’ve pretty much ever read. Something about them gets to me.)
Best TV Show: Well, I thoroughly enjoyed aspects of both Agent Carter and Forever, but re-watching Prison Break(not on 2nd generation iPhone with constant reloading many years ago), has been intense. Obviously, it does some good tricks on you and I wouldn’t take a bullet for it, I would take a bullet for a lot of its charactersand it perfectly illustrates the technique of constantly raising the stakes/everyone being driven by their desire/excellently built layers of conflict and suspense. There are few of its ilk that combine compelling characters and so many heart-attack inducing, car smashing scenes simultaneously.
Best Revisited: Bleak House, directed by Justin Chadwick and Susanna White and written by Andrew Davies (screenplay) and Charles Dickens (novel, duh).This always makes me want to be a better person. (Trite sentence to avoid the depths of emotions I actually feel about this beauty.)
Worst Visual Experience:My Bedroom from October 29-December 24th, written and directed by my own stupidity, the busyness of life, and the side-effects of living in a meth contaminated house.
Note: Some of these movies and books do contain difficult or inappropriate content. If you take anything in this ramble as a recommendation, please proceed with your own standards of respect. I tend to skip and forget things and then recommend, (also I often watch things with censorship). lol.
See why I try to be a writer instead of an artist? Poor Dietrich Bonhoeffer…
This is the most creative thing I actually accomplished on our beach laze, despite my grand plans. These are all writers who shaped my childhood or who I have learned to love and respect for differing aspects. And ones I would like to steal from.
(This marring of faces was inspired by Steal Like an Artistwhich is vaguely inspirational and motivating.)
And this exercise led into a past-5am-conversation and physiological study and wonder about the world with two of my brothers-in-arms (actually some of the most beautiful of women). Hot chocolate, wine, and potato chips joined us for a time.
The last week was mercifully busy with wrapping up English club, partying with English club, kicking up the most magical carpet of yellow leaves, sitting on tanks, blowing my nose, getting lost in abandoned, Soviet-era water parks, eating fermented sea weed, moping about leaving, discovering a coffee shop of great creativity, not getting served the sushi we ordered, more or less weeping through worship, sitting in the kitchen and thinking about life and leaving and planning and all that is beautiful and wonderful and past and present… (well, almost) …
Basically… it continues to be incomprehensible that God gave me this time and these people. And basically… it is inexplicable. At least at this time. For a writer of these limited talents.
I am so, so, so thankful for my Ukrainian brothers and sisters. For their hospitality. Their example. Their friendship. Their patience. Especially for the homes I stayed in, the family they contain, and for the long conversations in the kitchen and the long conversations and company on walks. These persons deserve extensive glorification and lingering epistles on the ways they blessed me. But I am not going to share them with the world.
Although, of course, they will influence and bleed through everything I say and do and write now and forevermore. Like all the amazing people and opportunities I’ve been given in this short and weary and crazy beautiful life.
It also seems consistent with past trends that my body has developed an intolerance for goodbyes. And so it was, that I stood holding my head on and my snot in while saying last farewells (and/or dripping tears and glop on my boots as short-shortsightedly laced them for my seven trips through various airport securities). And then it was over and I was in an airplane and then in the German airport deliriously falling asleep on chairs as they seemed to come my way. And it was all over.
And 30 hours later I was in a Mexican restaurant eating GMO corn again after holding the hands of my little people I missed discovering that everyone’s hair had grown while I was gone and stuff like that.
This was followed by drinking something warming with my bro among the boxes of all the moving that occurred in my absence. (I was spared so much. Sorry family. And thank you.) And then I fell into bed and ate almond butter for the first time in a long time and read Edgar Allan Poe until I woke up (tricky, huh?) and sat on the floor and had this conversations with my nieces:
“Uncle so-and-so has a fake Christmas tree,” says 6-year-old niece-with-the-jovial-belly-laugh.
“Does it dance?” I say, not terribly impressed.
“No!” says 6-year-old niece-with-the-jovial-belly-laugh, jovially laughing. “Then it would have to have a tutu!”
“A tutu as big as the world,” says 5-year-old-mildly-dark-soul-vibe-meat-eating-niece.
“I would find that disturbing,” I say, feeling perfectly content and affectionate in the moment.
6-year-old niece-with-the-jovial-belly-laugh, restarts the jovial laughing.
“Or a bomb.” 5-year-old-mildly-dark-soul-vibe-meat-eating-niece says darkly. “It would blow up the universe. For Christmas!” 5-year-old-mildly-dark-soul-vibe-meat-eating-niece throws her head back and laughs good-naturedly.
“Maybe,” I say, disturbed and happy.
“Time for breakfast,” says hardworking mother.
Then commences a week of meeting people at coffee shops and going back to work and getting used to different food (I did not expect this to be an issue at all and it’s been really disorienting. Actually, I feel disoriented in general and do not seem to be able to drink a glass of water without spilling it on myself).
There was also some unpacking, but the best (well, worst) is yet to come.
I told my nephew (if you haven’t figured it out yet, I am living with one of my brothers and his family at this time) that after I cleaned my room (it will take herculean powers), we would go to the pet store and pick out a fish or something (I realized I have a need for this) and it will dwell in my room and they can play with it (hopefully not kill it). (Do you like all the parenthetical remarks?)
So now, whenever I come or go or am about, he tells me about his detailed plan for him to take a nap, me to clean my room, my car to be restored to us, the moving of his car seat into my car, the driving of the vehicle to the pet store, the picking out of the fish, the return of both us and the fish… and the bliss that will follow thereby.
But there is no cleaning or fish occurring at this time… Instead, this:
We got here Saturday, which basically means I am on day 3 of dutch braids, camo hoodies, and John Donne.
Also, there is a lot of gloriously depressing documentaries and war movies and books occurring because right now it is just myself and the folks. *family time*
Our family style is essentially this:
Run around like chickens with our heads cut off (yes, this is a cliche phrase, but since we have actually experienced chickens with their heads cut off together in cozy family butchery moments, I feel its vibery is good here).
Suddenly stop and go to the beach for a day and eat chocolate.
Run around like chickens with our heads cut off with various duties and social engagements and work.
Suddenly stop and have a hot dog roast in the backyard (which no longer exists, thanks parents).
Run around like chickens with our heads cut off with various duties and social engagements and work.
Suddenly pack for a week when everyone else is at school or is afraid of bad weather and set up camp in a bare-bones beach house. Pack the following:
Enough PJs to live in for a week.
Anything you need for sickness, because you will probably get sick as soon as you remember you are only human.
Something that you can be seen hulking down the beach in.
A body, mind, and soul prepared to eat continuously from the hand of Ye Olde’ Mother Hubbard who will never give your digestive system rest.
Various historical or depressing movies. Also, we always accidentally watch some horrible dud movie at the beach (this is what happens when you try to pick a movie with a happy ending. I’ve been trying to tell you…).
And, most important of all, your own personal box FULL OF BOOKS. You will be expected to read and eat all day, discussing what you have read at frequent meal and snack times, watch a movie at night, occasionally be pressed upon to play a game, and not look nice so you don’t make the rest of us feel guilty for our lack of effort.
Of course, this is my perception. But I like this routine, this dependable family, this life.
I also feel like I’ve kind of never been here (beach, Oregon, America, life, etc.) before, and when I open the door, it will be to walk down a uneven sidewalk and climb in a crowded, yellow marshrutka.