Tag Archives: Work

No Normal

I’m starting work (meaning working on my book) late today for two reasons. I had to take care of some other stuff, which is now done, and because my dad is traveling for work this week, which my schedule is more adjustable, anyway. I wasn’t intending to write a blog post, but in the course of doing my things that needed to get done, I came across this quote:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Last night I came to the conclusion that while there is stability sometimes, there is no “normal.” In the past year, I’ve had to adjust to a “new normal” several times. This concept really solidified in my mind after Vermont’s funeral. At the time I had a desperate, but hopeful thought that eventually things would go “back to normal.” Then it hit me that they wouldn’t. Our family would have to adjust to a new normal. On a happier note, my brother is finishing his Bachelor’s degree this year, and will be commuting to school to get his Master’s (because he’s actually a genius). Finally all of our friends will be at home, generally at the same time. It will almost be like when we were kids. It will almost be like going back to what was normal for so many years.

Except it won’t. I still don’t know exactly what the future holds, but I’ve been trying to get in touch with a Secular Institute, which is a kind of religious organization that, in this particular case, helps people with disabilities, like myself, consecrate themselves entirely to God. I can’t entirely truthfully say that I don’t care about the consequences. I’m going to pursue this no matter the cost, but I don’t know how my friends will react. I want them to know that I’m still a total nerd and weirdo who will continue to play fantasy games with them. The only difference is that I’m officially making an unbreakable commitment to God. That will be a new normal for everyone to get used to, including myself.

I brought up the quote at the beginning of this post because I decided to do my “spiritual stuff” before work instead of after work today. Part of that “spiritual stuff” is just making sure I read something from Scripture. I had an idea of what I was going to read, but when I went to the website I usually use to read the Bible, this was the “verse of the day,” and for some reason, it sunk in deep, and it seemed like I just needed to leave it at that and think about it.

I do pray a lot. It’s often just conversational. The first part, “Rejoice always,” however, is difficult for me. It’s not about an emotional kind of joy. It’s about knowing, and being satisfied with the fact that Jesus saved us. That is always worth celebrating, even if whatever “new normal” we’re in is complicated, or weird, or even painful. The Gospel reading for this weekend was about when Jesus says to his apostles, “I no longer call you slaves, I call you friends.” Our priest explained that he said this to prepare them for what was about to happen. Before we are saved, we are slaves to sin. Jesus bought our freedom at a price.

At first, As I got to know Jesus, whenever I thought about that steep price, my response was always, “I’m sorry.” He’s had to teach me that I’m worth that to him, and because I’m worth that to him, I am objectively worth it. With his help, my response has changed to, “Thank you.” The fact of the matter is, my God intimidates me. The idea that anyone would go that far for me is insane, but the idea that the God of the Universe would go that far is both baffling and kind of scary.

I have to remind myself that God’s power is in his love. Jesus says in the Gospel that he is gentle and humble of heart. Saint Paul says that love is tender and kind. Sometimes the “new normal” sucks, but God is faithful. He is only ever good. If there is nothing else to be thankful for, remember that you’re still breathing; remember that you’re heart is till beating; remember that you’re alive; remember that the God of the universe wants to know you. That is something to be thankful for.

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Don’t Be A Hero

I have certain times when I habitually pray throughout the day. It’s usually when I wake up, whenever I eat, while I’m in the shower, and when I go to bed. I often pray before I start work, or when I get writer’s block, but sometimes I forget. Otherwise, my prayers throughout the day are pretty random. I tell God when I notice the sky is pretty and things like that. I’m rather simple sometimes.

I realized something while I was praying in the shower this evening, though. I find myself apologizing to God a lot, and it’s not because I’m a sinner. I know I’m a sinner. I know I need to work on stuff, and I know he’s forgiven me, and I know he’ll always forgive me. What I apologize about is actually stupid. I apologize for things I don’t need to be sorry for. I apologize because I’m not a hero.

I realized that I still have a hero complex that I thought I left behind a long time ago. It drives me completely insane that I can’t have my own apartment so I can give homeless strangers a place to stay. It drives me crazy that I’m not “able-bodied” so I can get a well-paid job and adopt a troubled kid who really needs a good mom. The fact that I can’t go be a missionary in a third-world country makes me want to tear my hair out. It sucks that I know and believe that prayer is super powerful and works, but I don’t feel it.

I apologize that I’m not a hero, when I’m physically incapable of being a hero. That’s just it, though. This is my idea of a hero. Heroes do grande, noticeable things. I lurk in my bedroom and write weird stories, and I pray because that’s all I can do. I pray for the people doing the things I can’t do, and I pray for the people who need their help, but I want to be there.

I recently came across Saint Faustina, who is completely awesome. She had mystical encounters with Jesus, and this is what he said to her:

“I want you to be very little, because when you are little, I carry you close to My Heart. Because you are weak, I take you in My arms and carry you to the home of My Father.”

He also said,

“My child, know that the greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and exaggerated anxiety.”

 

Another mystic by the name of Sister Consolata Betrone received this message from Jesus:

“You only worry about loving me, and I will take care of everything else to the smallest detail.”

This is hard for me. I like to be independent. I don’t mind being told what to do or following directions or even working on a team, but I like to have an objective and, if possible, I like to have the freedom to be a little creative. I like to be able to complete the task I’ve been given and have that sense of accomplishment after. I think I was able to ignore my hero complex more when I was in high school and college because I had objectives and tasks I could complete and I got that sense of accomplishment when I passed a difficult test or got an “A” on a paper. Those were my duties. Come to class and participate. Pass the test. Write the paper. Do the homework. Get the degree. Graduate.

Now I’m in this weird position where I don’t feel as much like I have objectives. My mom told me to write a book. She didn’t give me a deadline. She didn’t tell me what it should be about. She didn’t give me work hours. She’s never complained when I’ve taken unnecessary time off. I feel like I’m floating around with no anchor. I know I can finish my mythology, and finishing each individual story does give me a small sense of accomplishment, but it’s certainly not a huge thrill. I have a list of stories that I need to write, and others may be added later, if need be. Once all my stories are written, I need to research and find an editor and either self-publish, or find publishers to submit to. What will come after that, I have no idea, but I hope I can be philanthropic.

Originally I was writing for two reasons. The first was because my mom told me to. The second was because my medical issues make it nearly, if not entirely impossible to get a “real” job. I want to go big, and I want to be a hero. Jesus says to get small, to love him, and to pray. He says to let him take care of everything. A while ago I realized I had only one real reason for writing my book. God is helping me write it. It’s his, and I want him to use it. Earlier I prayed that he would help me to lose the hero complex. I’m not a hero, and never can be in the way I think of a hero. I have to let Jesus be the hero.

 

Wicked Cool!

In a recent post I said that I have decided to officially dedicate myself to Jesus. I’m happy to say that that’s still the plan. I’ve been learning a lot lately. Apparently, there are several different ways in which I can do this. It’s a little intimidating because there are apparently a bazillion different orders of nuns and Sisters who all do different stuff and follow different philosophies and what have you. I also learned, as of last night, that there’s a thing called a “consecrated lay person.” Basically, as far as I can tell, there are three different categories of religious life, and my first step is to figure out where I fit best. At the moment, I like things about all of them.

The first is that of cloistered nuns. These are generally ladies who live together away from secular society and dedicate their lives almost entirely to prayer. They live extremely simply, which allows them to not be distracted by outside influences.

The second is another group of Sisters who generally live together, but are much more a part of society, doing work to help people, etc.

The third group are “consecrated lay people,” which are people (dudes and ladies) who have chosen to forgo marriage and family life in order to serve Jesus as best they can. Like nuns or Sisters, they take official vows in the church, but don’t necessarily live together and tend to have “regular” jobs.

I like the idea of removing myself from the distractions of the world and focusing entirely on God, but I desperately want to help people in any way I can. I don’t think I’m very good at praying. The fact of the matter is, I probably need to “practice” more. I’m also realizing that I want to serve God, and I want to be free. I want structure, and I want to be able to randomly change and randomly do things. I know serving God doesn’t mean I’m not free. I just don’t presently know what the solution is or what the best fit is for me. Maybe, once again, I’ll end up doing something I never saw coming.  I am leaning towards one particular thing, but I’m not going to say what it is yet here. I have to see if it’s right first.

Last night I watched an awesome video by Father Mike Schmitz. At least for me, that guy is a rock star. It was actually the first time I’d ever even heard of him, but I ended up watching several hours worth of his stuff.. actually I listened whilst playing Minecraft. He’s funny and brilliant. But anyway… the point he was talking about was that love is physical, and love is a gift. When you love someone, you want to give them all of you. This can mean a lot of different things, in different relationships. He asked the question: what does that mean when we’re talking about a relationship with God? Obviously an infinite, omnipotent God doesn’t have a body–at least not now.

Two thousand years ago, he did. Jesus came to Earth as a finite person. He was both fully God and fully human, and he had every single person ever in mind. That’s why he gave us the Eucharist. In the Eucharist Jesus is giving us all of him. When we literally eat the body of Christ, we become one with him. It’s literally Jesus. I “believed” this, but I didn’t understand what it meant until I started thinking about being a religious person. He literally gives his entire self to me. I want to give my entire self to him. I have to.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Trust

I trust everyone. Honestly, I assume that everyone has good, or at least mostly good motives, and really does want the best for the world and for others. That’s not to say I trust everyone 100%. I’m not naive. I know people have evil in them, and I know there are dangerous people in the world. I’m just not afraid of them. From my experience, 999,999 out of 1,000,000 are trustworthy. I believe this for a number of reasons.

I’m young and grew up in a safe suburban town, went to school at a Christian college in the middle of nowhere, and still live in the aforementioned safe suburban town. I’m an optimist. I simply want there to be good in people, and I choose to see the good. I’ve never really encountered any truly dangerous people. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and if I get hurt, I believe that some good will eventually come of it; I’ll learn something from it. I’ve never been disappointed when I give someone the benefit of the doubt, even if I’ve been a little unsure in the beginning.

My contemporaries and I were taught when we were kids not to talk to strangers. We were taught that evil was lurking around every corner. I don’t know when where or why our parents got this notion. To me at least, it seems entirely unreasonable to believe such a thing. You would constantly be living in fear. A friend of mine has told me that it’s better to be a pessimist because you’ll always be right or pleasantly surprised. However, I don’t necessarily view “bad” experiences in a negative light. One must either take responsibility for these experiences, or one must assume that these things were meant to happen and things will eventually get better.

I do believe in destiny to some extent. I don’t think it conflicts with the idea that humans have free will. God has a plan for each of our lives, and we can choose to go along with that plan, or we can choose not to and hope for the best. The trouble is knowing what God’s plan is in a concrete sense, especially in the day-to-day details. It often doesn’t seem to make any sense at all from a human perspective, and the truth is, this can get annoying.

In a recent post I wrote about how I want to belong only to God, and I’ve been exploring the possibility of becoming a Sister or a nun (apparently they’re different). I’ve also been trying to find someone to play music and write with. I’ve mostly been looking on Craig’s list, and haven’t been able to find anyone. I was supposed to meet someone at Starbucks today, but my parents wouldn’t let me. They didn’t trust him for several reasons, but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I live with my parents because of my disability, and it would be too much of a hassle to figure out how to live on my own. The fact of the matter is, however, that if I did live on my own, I would have met my potential musical copilot this afternoon.

When I was a kid I liked my quiet neighborhood. I could play in the street with my friends and a short walk around the neighborhood was long enough for me. I desperately want to move to a city. I want to be able to go places without having to get a ride. I want to be able to just wander off with an actual destination in mind when I’m bored and need a change of scenery. I want to be able to actually go somewhere for work. Right now I spend my entire day in my bedroom. I work in here. I write in here. I play music in here. I pray in here. I sleep in here.

A few nights ago I was doing research about religious life and for some reason it was making me anxious. Part of me wants to do this because I want to formally dedicate myself to God (i.e. I want to take some kind of vow), but at the same time, I’m starting to feel like that isn’t the life for me. I’m almost certain by now that God wants me to remain single, and I’m really okay with that. However, now I find myself asking “Why?” If he doesn’t want me to be a “religious” person, what the heck does he want me to do?

I’m still working on finishing the New Testament, and it’s like he’s drilling into my head: “Tell people about me!” I desperately want to, but I just can’t find the right words. People don’t want to hear the same old message. People don’t want to hear for the hundredth time that Jesus saved them from their sins and I don’t want to tell them that. I want to tell them about how I never feel alone. I want to tell them what it feels like to really be peaceful. I want to tell them how it feels to not worry or to not be scared. I just can’t figure out how to put the feeling into words.

I was briefly mad at God this afternoon. I was mad because he made me the way I am and landed me in this town. Being angry about it isn’t helpful, though. It doesn’t change anything. Because I live in this town I belong to the church I do, and I love my church. I love the people there, I love the priests there, I love teaching and volunteering there, and I love all the quirks that come with it. My church is definitely quirky. If I didn’t live in this insufferable town I wouldn’t have the friends I do. We wouldn’t have perfected our epic commiseration skills, and we wouldn’t be the people we are today. If I wasn’t born with MD, I most likely would not be nearly as empathetic as I am. If I didn’t live in this town I would have never discovered the culinary masterpiece that is Colombo’s Pizza. Actually, I probably wouldn’t be a confirmed Catholic. It was my music teacher who unknowingly convinced me to go through with it, and I wouldn’t have met him if I didn’t live in this town.

As I said, I trust people, but it’s way more important to trust God. I might just have to accept the prospect of never having a musical copilot. I don’t intend to make music a career, anyway. There’s no point in being mad at my parents either. I just started doing research to start a business with my dad. I think we will work well together. I’m learning a lot about the business world, and I’m finding it surprisingly enjoyable. I’ve hit a roadblock in my novel, and I need to do some reading to help me with that. Strangely enough, I’m finding that I’m busy lately even when it feels like I’m getting nothing done.

The future actually seems much more certain than it did last summer. In May I will have been out of school for a year. I still don’t entirely know what I’m doing or where I’m going, but I have a much better idea. I can comfortably say that I’m an artist, and hopefully I’ll be able to say that I’m a successful entrepreneur in the next few years. Time is a weird thing. It feels like it’s dragging on slowly until you look at it in retrospect. It’s taken me almost a year to get to where I am now, in terms of what I want to do. Realistically, that’s not a long time.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Follow Through

On Saturday I was having some issues with my epilepsy, which took a little while to fix, and then I went to a writer’s group, specifically for science fiction writer’s. They meet once per month in Newton MA, which is about half an hour from where I live. I was the youngest person there by 20 years, and the oldest person there could have been my grandfather. They seemed like a really cool group of people. The age difference didn’t bother me. I just found it kind of amusing. We met in a little cafe, and it was noisy, so next month we’re potentially going to meet at my house. It was nice to have a good, stimulating conversation about a genre that I enjoy and care so much about. I’ve really missed this because I haven’t been in school since this past spring. It was also kind of intimidating because, being so much older than me, these people have read so much more than me and their heads are full of so much awesome stuff. It was so nice, though, because they’re weren’t condescending at all. I think they’ll be great mentors.

I’ve been talking to a lot of people about my book lately. It just has seemed to come up a lot in conversation. Sometimes I feel awkward telling people that I just graduated and am now writing a science fiction novel because it doesn’t sound like a real job. It’s often difficult to treat it like a job. It’s not always fun, but it’s also very flexible in terms of when I work and for how long, and what I do while I’m working. Sometimes I research technology, sometimes I research politics, sometimes I spend an hour on Google maps just plotting out where specifically things are happening and how those things will affect my story, sometimes I just work on notes, sometimes I work on the timeline of events, sometimes I write a whole chapter in one go.

The more I talk about writing this story, the more interested people seem to be. Sometimes I find it difficult to just sit down and write, but lately I’ve felt more excited, partly because people want me to finish it so they can read it. I know it certainly won’t be for everyone. It’s a science fiction novel, which in the literary world is often disregarded as nothing more than entertainment. I’m trying very hard to make this story important and intellectually stimulating. I want it to matter. It takes place in a post post-apocalyptic society, which means the world has already fallen apart, but now people have started to figure things out, and they’re rebuilding. I’m using this environment to explore a few different ideas. One aspect of my story is essentially a thought experiment about what happens to war when the military becomes automated (i.e. what happens if we have robot, or in this case, super-clone soldiers). Another thing I’m trying to do is expose some stigmas and unfair ideas and policies surrounding people with disabilities. Thirdly, I’m taking a look at what the world might be like in the absence of any religion or sense of a spiritual existence. Obviously I’m a little or a lot bias, but I’m trying to let my characters take the lead, and they’re turning into some very interesting people.

I was telling my dad about all of this earlier today and he told me that I just need to follow through, and that I often seem to have trouble with that. I start a project and then when things get too complicated I chicken out. I don’t feel like that’s entirely fair. He was referring to my musical endeavors, which have, at least for the time being, been put on hold. I’ve thought it through and a successful musical career doesn’t seem manageable. It’s not like I haven’t tried, but for one thing, it’s a colossal investment, which is something I presently can’t afford. Secondly, I can’t get gigs. I’ve tried. I really have. I’m just tired of being ignored in that department, so for the time being, I give up. Thirdly, I don’t think I can reasonably do it, physically. Say, theoretically, I became successful enough to go on tour. Right now I get tired after playing for an hour, so if I were to play longer shows, I would have to physically prepare for that, but beyond that, I can’t be having epilepsy symptoms in the middle of a song. It has occasionally happened at open mics, and it sucks. That kind of stuff would be way more manageable at book signings or what have you, assuming my book does well enough. Fourth, I already have connections in the literary world that I don’t have in the musical world, and I know more about publishing, etc. Lastly, I don’t want music to be work. I love it too much, I know I’m good at it, and I just want to share it; I don’t care if I get paid. I don’t want to treat it like a business because I want it to stay pure, kind of like this blog.

I will follow through with my story. I have thought it through and in so many ways it seems like a much more reasonable option, and it seems like I have a much better chance at getting noticed. I have until the end of next summer to finish it, which should be plenty of time. I know, at least basically, how the rest of the story is going to play out, and the later parts are going to be a lot of fun to write. I even have ideas for possible sequels. Even if this doesn’t do great in terms of payoff, it cost me nothing to make, and I will still consider it a success because this will be the best thing I’ve ever written when I’m done with it. It will need a lot of revision because I’m a perfectionist, but that just means it’s going to be great.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Where I Never Thought I’d Be

Today I got an email about graduation, and if you had told me nearly four years ago that it would make me feel nostalgic, I would have laughed in your face. The fact of the matter is, I guess I am going to miss Gordon a little. Maybe it’s because I don’t really know what the next step is; maybe it’s because this really is the end of school for me (though definitely not the end of learning); maybe I’m going to really miss some of the friends I’ve made (mostly professors); maybe I’m just getting older and I’m starting to realize that I’m really not a kid anymore.

Earlier today I was thinking about marriage. It occurred to me that I literally had no idea what the point of bridesmaids was, so I had to ask my mom–apparently their purpose is to stand there and look pretty. I’m a girl. I can’t help it. I sometimes think about getting married, despite the fact that I don’t, and never have had a boyfriend. I was just fantasizing on the way to class about who I would pick to be my maid of honor. My immediate inclination was to pick my best friend, but then I thought of my cousins, and it might be a little weird not to pick one of them. Again, I have no idea why I was thinking about this.

Last night I had a dream that I was in the English Army, and we were invading France, except for some reason we had to traverse mountains instead of the English Channel to get there. They were also not normal mountains, but Minecraft mountains, which I find really odd because I was not playing Minecraft last night. In fact, I haven’t played Minecraft very recently. Anyway, I got separated from the group I was with and captured. Then I got sent to a correctional facility for the mentally unstable, even though I’m quite ordinary, thank you very much! I spent quite a while trying to escape, and I was finally helped by the son of one of the people who ran the place. Then my mom and aunt and little cousin came and got me. It seems like I’ve spent a lot of time in dreams lately as the damsel in distress. I’m not sure why that is, and I’m not sure I like it. I have no interest in being someone’s damsel in distress in real life. Actually, I’ve spent an obnoxious amount of time fantasizing about being the hero of this story. Realistically, I guess I’ll probably end up being a little bit of both.

At the end of every semester at school, up until probably last semester, I found myself saying “maybe next semester,” meaning maybe someone will ask me out, or maybe I’ll become friends with someone and eventually ask them out. I guess I gave up on finding someone at school. The email I got turned out not to be very relevant to me. One of the things the sender was asking for was pictures from all four years we (the seniors) have been there. I literally don’t have any Gordon College pictures. The second thing was ideas about a class gift: something the seniors would put together to donate to the school. I guess I don’t really care what we donate. The third thing was that they were looking for 12 volunteers to speak at either the baccalaureate ceremony or senior breakfast. I guess I don’t have a whole lot I’d want to say.

I actually had an awesome experience at Gordon. I learned a lot, I read a lot, and I changed a lot. My classes were great, and like I said, I made some really good friends. Gordon just wasn’t home for me. Gordon was school, and to some degree, Gordon was church. I didn’t share a dorm with someone, so there wasn’t a strange girl who, over the years, became my sister. There wasn’t a guy who lived in my building and was in a bunch of my classes who became my brother, or my boyfriend. There wasn’t a club that I got super involved in. Instead, I went to the music studio on Wednesday nights for two years and recorded an album, and Ken became my brother. Instead I hung out with my extended family on the weekends and went up to Maine a whole lot.

Some might say I missed out, but I don’t regret any of it. This is the end of my schooling. After this semester I will never again be a full time student. I might go back to Gordon periodically, though. I do like taking classes, and apparently it’s super cheep for alumni to audit classes there. I think that would actually be a really cool thing to do. It’ll be super laid back, I can take one class at a time, and I won’t be obligated to take classes in any particular program.

I’m a normal 21 year old. I’m nervous about making music work, I’m nervous about finding a job if it doesn’t, and I’m nervous about finding a boyfriend/husband. I’m nervous, but I also know somehow that everything will be just fine. It will be. I will not fail, the world will not end, and everything will be okay.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

The True Meaning Of Mobile Home

I just read a blog post by a friend of mine from school. In the past year he took a semester abroad, specifically in Oxford England. In the spring we’ll both be graduating and he’ll be headed to grad school. I mention all of this because his post was about disorientation. He was talking about how he has lived in so many different places in a short period of time, and now his subconscious is losing its idea of where Home is. At the end of his post, my friend posed a question which I have expanded on: what exactly is home? can you take it with you? is it a physical place? What does it take to consider a place or a thing home?

I have a small bag with several compartments hanging off my wheelchair so I can reach it easily. During the school year, it’s generally filled with pencils, pens, folded up handouts that I have yet to file away, etc. However, right now it’s filled with a lot of other things. Right now it’s filled with a small, stuffed frog that I’ve had since I was five, several guitar picks, my notebook that is slowly being filled with new and old song lyrics, my special leopard pen, and an empty assault rifle shell that was used to decimate a pineapple yesterday. All of these things have either good use or happy memories attached to them, and I wonder if in a way, that makes them home.

My family and I got home around 11:30 last night after spending a week and a day camping in Maine. It’s usually very nice to come home from camping, but for some reason, it seemed like the week went by so fast that we weren’t quite as desperate to return as we usually are. Perhaps this is because camping has become the only time of the year we see some of our relatives. My cousin Amber, who is attending Mcgill University, has spent the past three summers there as well, and has decided to permanently plant herself in Montreal. My cousin Chris is now an EMT in Vermont, though he used to live in Maine. My Mom’s cousin Eddie comes down from Bangor Maine. The list goes on.

Sometimes things are very much the same from year to year, and some years we have a whole lot to catch up on at Camp. I have been doing this since I was a year old, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon. I hope that one of these years I’ll have a wedding to talk about, or maybe an apartment or house of my own. Maybe I’ll have a job, or maybe my music career will have taken off.

My brother doesn’t really love camping, but I hope he will continue to come once our parents have no more say in it. I hope he brings his wife and kids years down the road (if he has them, of course). He intends to become a brain surgeon, so that will make things interesting, but everyone has to take a vacation, right? One week during the summer seems reasonable.

All this is to say that I think I wasn’t completely thrilled to come home last night because in a way, Camp is home. I just read a blog post by a friend of mine discussing that particular issue: i.e. what is Home? His post came about as the result of a dream he had. In the dream, he was wandering around a familiar library in a completely unfamiliar place. The city in his dream was a strange combination of Boston, Oxford, and New York, where he has or will be living over the past several years and in the near future. He posed the question of whether or not the concept of Home is dependent on place. He talked about how so many people have no transition period between high school and the “real world,” and this results in a serious reality change that can cause real emotional damage in some cases.

One of my cousins went to a counselor a year or two ago, and he told my Mom that he learned something very helpful: there are essentially two types of people in the world: there are what the counselor called “sails” and “anchors.” An “anchor” he said, was someone who is very stable and will always be there for people. For me, this would be my parents, my brother, and a few of my friends. I know they love me, and I know I can depend on them for anything. I think it could be said that these people are Home.

I have a little pouch with several compartments hanging off the armrest of my wheelchair. This pouch is currently filled with a menagerie of things. It’s filled with my cell phone, my wallet, several guitar picks, a notebook that is slowly being filled with song lyrics, a small, awkwardly heavy leopard pen, a tiny stuffed frog toy, and an empty assault rifle shell from yesterday that was used to decimate a pineapple. My pouch is filled with different things at different times, but so is my life. For me, my pouch is Home. I always know that whatever I need at a given time is in there, even if it takes me a while to find it.

My friend asked the question in his post: can you take Home with you? It depends on what Home is for you. My house, among other things is Home for me, so in that sense no, but in other ways, absolutely. I love my bedroom, with its somewhat tacky color scheme, it’s purple and orange lava lamp, it’s multicolored pillows, its miscellaneous bookshelves, and its assortment of collected things, both worthless and expensive. Songs have been written in here, homework has been done in here, things have been celebrated in here, and tears have been cried in here. I pray in here and sometimes I eat in here. If there was a mini-fridge and a toilet I could live in here. My bedroom is absolutely Home.

I will probably always consider the house on Haverhill Street Home, even though I really don’t like living in Suburbia. I will always want to come back here for Christmas and Thanksgiving, even if, and when I have my own family, my own career, and my own house/apartment. I guess my response to my friend is: yes, Home is dependent on place, but for your own sanity, make sure you can take it with you, too.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Faith, Doubt, Patience And Getting Famous

I wonder what it’s like to be the friends and family of U2 or Pearl Jam or Paul McCartney. I wonder what it was like growing up with them, having no idea they would become huge, international rock stars. I wonder if there were doubters. I wonder how their parents felt about the fact that they spent hours on end writing songs and playing guitar in their basements instead of doing homework. I wonder how they feel now.

I know there are doubters among my friends and family and acquaintances. I won’t say who they are. It’s annoying to me that people ask, “well, do you know what you would do if music doesn’t work out?” It’s just their way of saying, “You’re destined to fail. You need a backup plan.” Maybe I’m crazy, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that I’ll make it. I don’t care about being famous. I just don’t want to have a day job. More importantly, though, I want to dedicate my life to music because it’s my most meaningful way of dedicating my life to God. I know I’m a good songwriter, and I know that talent came from him. I can’t do anything else because I feel like I would be wasting that talent.

Furthermore, I’ve already put so much time, money, effort and prayer into this dream of mine. I feel that, as a Christian songwriter, I have an obligation to spread a message. A week ago I was thinking; why did God make us in the first place? It’s not a thought that had ever really struck me. It had crossed my mind before, but I had never really thought about it. The conclusion that I came to after some reading and thinking was that God made us because he loves us. Before we were made we were loved. Furthermore, God is good, so we are good and the world is good because he made all that exists. I feel obligated to share that message LOUDLY.

Admittedly, I do want music to work out for selfish reasons. I don’t want to sit behind a computer for several hours a day researching or editing articles or whatever it is most English majors end up doing. I don’t want to teach either. I definitely don’t want to teach. All of it sounds boring, tedious and unfulfilling. I get so much joy and fulfillment from performing and writing songs, partly because it’s fun, and partly because I know people are hearing what I really want them to hear.

Sometimes trying to get gigs and only getting to play two songs at church open mics or tiny restaurants is frustrating, but I know it really is all worth it because it’s better than nothing, and will amount to something eventually. I do believe that God will open doors for me, like he already has, and this project will go somewhere. I have found that I get in my own way sometimes. It’s easy to forget that it’s all for his glory and not mine. I get a giant ego trip from applause and compliments after my sets, and I have to be careful of that. I’m not too worried, though. Doubters can be frustrating, but I know this is going in the right direction. I just have to be patient. That’s something I have trouble with sometimes. I’ll get to where I need to be eventually. I’m just a passenger on this crazy road trip anyway.

The Latest Version of “Passenger”

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Almost The End

Yesterday was a good day. It was 70 degrees outside and sunny. I had half meant to do some homework yesterday, but it was too nice out, so I didn’t. I had gone for a walk and talked to the neighbors for a while since they were out, and I cut through their yard to get back to my house. Then I went inside to work on a song, but was drawn back outside by the weather and a need to void my bladder (I had to find my dad to help me with the restroom). When we were back inside he told me that he heard one of the neighbors playing an electric guitar. He didn’t know who it was, but I decided that I needed to be louder than them.

I brought my Les Paul out to the driveway and plugged into the wall in the garage with an extension chord. Then I cranked the amp and played all the loud songs I know. Admittedly there aren’t many. I write and play mostly mellow songs, and it’s hard to make them less mellow even with a noisy electric guitar. Eventually Ben came over to see if it was in fact me who was making all the noise. Ben is around 10 or 11, and he and I are the only people in the neighborhood who play guitar. Our families live about 3 houses apart. When he came over my dad and I had him play something on my guitar. He’s getting pretty good. I think he takes lessons at the studio I record at.

I also finished learning “Guess I’m Doing Fine” by Beck yesterday. I had to change the key because Beck sings too low, which involved more effort than I was hoping, but I have it down pretty well now. I also started learning “Lay My Burden Down” by Alison Krauss yesterday. Normally I wouldn’t think of covering it just because it’s not my personal style, but my songwriting partner and I agreed on it because there isn’t a whole lot of music that we both know and like. Her musical background is Christian Pop and Country, whereas my background is more Alternative Rock and Folk. We’ve finished writing a song together, so I think our stylistic differences work well together.

Last night a friend of mine and her parents came over and I showed them all a demo of my album. We had dinner, hung out for a while by a campfire my dad made and then we watched Star Wars VI. Alycia hadn’t seen the series before, so I showed her IV and V a few weeks ago. It’s my mission to get all my friends and family obsessed with Star Wars. I’m really looking forward to the release of the new one, but I’m apprehensive about Disney working on it. As long as they don’t try and make it kid friendly I’ll be happy.

I’m almost done with my Junior year of college, and I’m really ready to be done. I’m really tired of doing homework, and I need time to get planning my CD release party, promotion, etc. I have a lot of ideas bouncing around in my head, and I need to sort out the bad ones. I’d also like to start performing more, but I’m having trouble finding time because of school and because I’ve been trying to get in a few hours of studio time every week.

The past few days I’ve just been in a slump. I just haven’t wanted to do anything despite the fact that I have too much to do; possibly because of this. I just want a few days to goof off, play some video games and then get to work without anything getting in my way. It’s very annoying having papers due and reading to get through and whatever else. It’s always towards the end of the semester, where I have trouble caring about this stuff. I’m definitely not meant to be an academic. I hate doing research, and I like thinking about art and philosophy and whatever else on my own terms.

Anyway, I’ll stop complaining now. I’ve developed a pretty bad procrastination problem in the past few weeks, but I only have a few weeks of school left. I can do this!

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

The Bystander Effect

Yesterday in my philosophy class we talked about the bystander effect. We talked about how a group of people will stand and watch a child drown purely because there are other people there. People seem to have a mentality of “no one else is helping, why should I?” It’s why the genocide of the Jews in Germany was even possible.

It’s also why there are millions of starving children in the wold. We talked about how it seems that a person who is able to help should be morally obligated to from an egalitarian viewpoint. We talked about how people act based on social norms and an innate sense of self preservation and how this does not  seem to correlate with egalitarianism or a common sense of compassion.

It disturbed me a little in class, but we have talked about this kind of thing numerous times before in other classes mainly on a theoretical level. It sunk in however when I read an add in the school bulletin that gets sent out once a day via email. A girl was asking for help with a public speaking project she had coming up and I almost replied, but then I thought, “Well, she probably already has several other people offering to help her and I’m busy.” It is midterms. What if everyone else was “too busy” as well? I most likely have a few hours to spare some time this week. Am I morally obligated to help that girl?

Something else struck me today. I remembered that Jesus said, “The poor will always be with you.” Why? Is it because people aren’t helping? Is it because of economic or social structures, as some would argue? Do they bring poverty upon themselves? Is it forced upon them? What bothers me most is that word always. Is there nothing we can do to stop it? Is poverty an undying force that can’t be stopped?

A question that plenty of people deal with all the time is; why, if God is good does he allow suffering? I don’t have an answer to that. Everyone suffers in one way or another. It’s because we live in an imperfect world. What I really don’t get is why some people suffer WAY more than others. What’s more is that often times, the more people suffer, the stronger their faith is. In fact, many people bring suffering upon themselves to strengthen their spiritual life. The thing about our God is that he suffered for us, and he suffers with us. I know that, but I don’t entirely know what it means. God is with us and he is with us in our suffering, but what does it mean that he suffers too? I think if I could figure that out I would understand a lot of other things as well.

Last semester in my creative nonfiction writing class I read a short piece called “Being Christ to the Traveler.” In short it was about a guy who offers to hold a drunk guy’s flowers while he pees out the door of a train (the guy had evidently just broken up with his girlfriend). We can help anyone by doing little things like that, but it takes so much more to help the poor or the people dying of AIDS over in Africa.

The thing is, I basically don’t have anything saved. If it weren’t for my parents I’d be dead on the street somewhere, but as it stands I live in an awesome house in a nice, safe neighborhood, I go to a super nice college and took guitar lessons for five years. I personally am very poor. I have a part time job, but because of school and music I don’t work much and I make peanuts; actually less than peanuts.

All the money I’ve saved or that I make goes to recording my first album, and that’s where I’m conflicted. My plan/hope is to be able to live off of music and have a little extra to send to charities, etc. What we talked about in my philosophy class was this; is it more morally right to take the money one spends on college/recording/whatever and just give that to charity, or should one wait, go through college/recording/gigging/whatever and ultimately be able to do much more and help many more people? I don’t know.

I guess a good compromise is to help who you can when you can, how you can, but I don’t think it’s quite as satisfying as being able to say you got a kid out of poverty. I guess we’re not supposed to look for satisfaction out of helping people. Again, I’m probably thinking about this too much.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!