Life rolls out in front of you like a ball of yarn. You can affect where it goes, but only a little. You just have to follow it.
Hemingway. I read Snows of Kilimanjaro when I was 12. I don’t remember much about it, but it freaked me out. It seemed very stark and mean and not nice.
I read it because my big brother had the book from a college class he was taking. He’d given me the Shakespeare plays, which I’d LOVED. Honestly, i think Shakespeare is very good for precocious readers. The tone and concept are fine for a young age.
But Hemingway was a different story. I was horrified by him. Therefore, I have not read anything by him since.
My alma mater, San Jose state university has a guilt list. They say “Any English Major Who Hasn’t Read These Has No Right To Joy.”
They deny English majors any right to joy; the list is HUGE. Shame on them for making beautiful books into something to feel guilty about! But, the fact is, it a good resource to turn to when I am looking for a suggestion about what to read next.
In this case, I thought I would try Hemingway again. Farewell To Arms. He is sad and horrifying, but I’m an adult now and I can take sad and horrifying in stride.
He’s also very MASCULINE. He doesn’t talk about how he feels much, just about what he does, what he says, where he’s going. He’ll say what he’s thinking a little bit.
That book was okay. I’m not sorry I read it. It was not as great as I might have hoped. But it made me wonder some more about WW I. The Great War. I’ll have to do some reading about it.
THis, of course, pleases Chris tremendously. He will happily talk all about it. Especially the ships.
This weekend was really busy. I had a birthday party on Saturday night, but that afternoon I had to go shopping for a function later in the month.
Then I had my writing group, which met on Sunday, and a coffee shop thing in the evening.
Which is QUITE unusual for me. I have been here a year and a half, a littl more even, and I have been having trouble making friends. THis is not new. I am understanding the rhythm of friend-making after a move.
You know, friends are a tricky business. I think army brats, the ones that have to move every two to four years understand this. When you go to a new place, you have to find a way to connect with the people there.
Data, on Next Generation Star Trek, once had a line that said something to the effect that Friendship had much more to do with just being around each other than emotion.
I think there is a lot of truth to that. And I think that sometimes people you spend a lot of time with, such as co-workers or bar friends, can feel like friends when in actuality, they are merely co-existing in the same space.
A friend is someone who will make an effort to come see you or have you see them. Because they want to. That means taking time to talk on the phone or go do an activity or something. Something that is personally for you.
That personally bit is the part I’ve been missing. I haven’t done very many one-on-one things since I’ve been here. Very, very few.
I have book club, I have writing group, I have movie club. I have church, I have open mic night at the coffee shop. I have work, and I have my sweet boyfriend.
I am actually very busy and very seldom completely alone. And yet…I haven’t had the personal time with a friend very often.
It’s a tough leap, that from being a member of a group to being an individual personal friend. How do you really manage it? How do you know it’s okay to make a move.
I find it much more difficult than a date. Maybe I’m pretty good at dating. But just getting someone to go out and play…
I admit, I’m kind of shy. If someone is not willing to email me, it’s hard. Phones are a little scary to me. I don’t know exactly why. I get shy about calling someone on the phone.
So that’s probably a handicap on my part.
And then, I get very tired after work. I just want to sleep. So that makes me not want to get up and do things with friends that I feel nervous about calling.
But to make friends with someone, you have to be around them a certain amount of time. You have to make contact, and keep up the contact for a period of time so that you get to know each other’s lives. If you don’t do that, it falls flat.
It’s a little complicated.
So…I’ve been pulling back from writing so much on my blog because I’ve been trying to work on a larger project. I want to write a whole book. I know what I want it to be about, too. It will be the story of how I went to Russia with my family in 92-93 to be a missionary school-teacher.
I personally think it’s a great story, one that a lot of people will be interested in. But I’ve never written anything so ambitious. Or so LONG.
I had been figuring that it would need to be 650 pages. That’s 650 courier font, double spaced pages.
But I just finished reading a book that’s 361 pages. That’s printed in the book.
I wondered how that would translate into my format. So I averaged out the number of words on the page. About 481.
That means the entire book had 173.641 words in it. Approximately.
I figured I had 216 words to a page. That means, if I had 650 pages, I would have 140,400 words.
That’s a bit shy.
I would have to write 800 pages to get close to the length of the book I just read.
That’s very daunting.
It makes the fact that I will hit 100 pages today a somewhat hollow celebration.
only 700 pages to go….
Two things converged lately, compelling me to go to the nearest Tower Records and purchase Van Halen’s 5150
The first thing was that I heard the song “Why can’t this be love?” on the radio. Chris had been pestering me about 70’s music, which I profess to hate. He says I can’t possibly hate all of it, because I haven’t heard all of it. I tell him that I just picture shaggy haired teenage boys in powder blue tuxedoes dancing with teenage girls in Gunne Sax prom dresses, batting their eyes through feathered bangs.
Not a pleasant kind of nostalgia. Makes me feel sort of sick to my stomach. Maybe because I remember those particular kids being very mean to my older brother, and just mean in general.
So, while I figured that “Why can’t this be love?” song was not actually a 70’s song, it was on a radio station that played such songs, so I thought I’d fake Chris out and tell him I’d found one I liked. I liked the guitar on that song.
Either from his encyclopedic knowledge of music, or from being right by the internet when I called and told him I liked the song, he knew right away that it was Van Halen.
Van Halen. Oh my. Brings back memories. Memories not of hearing the band, but of hearing it talked about. Sermons about Rock & Roll, the music of the devil and carnality, would bring up their names.
I remember the church headquarters had video taped a series of sermons about rock & roll. One of the pastors there had delved into the dark regions, and came back to report on what he found.
They taped it so that others did not have to take this risky journey personally.
But he came up with many many examples of how Rock & Roll was evil. Citing Madonna, Twisted Sister, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Ozzie Osbourne to name a few
Rap was still off the radar, so none of them were mentioned.
But there were points to be aware of. Music is mentioned all over the Bible as a powerful instrument for the worship of God. We used music as such in every gathering. What if (gasp) Satan were to use it for the worship of himself? And we children, tender children, could be accidentally drawn into the worship of Satan by purchasing cassettes?
As a tender child myself, I thought that worshiping Satan was a little more involved than just purchasing a cassette. I thought that you would have KNOW you were doing it. What I did know was that I liked that music.
I really liked that music. ‘Cept maybe Ozzie. He was a little weird.
But those other guys, all of them, with their hair long and flowing, and their tight leather or spandex pants. And the guitars. Wow. Those posters at the mall made me want to stop and look for a long time.
But that was the devil tempting me. I had Christian music. Guys with Long hair and guitars, almost as good as the other guys. Almost.
I loved going to those concerts! Streaming forward and screaming for the music. I could not stay still when they started playing. Heck I could barely stay still before they started playing.
Bands like Petra and Degarmo&Key and Whiteheart and Stryper. Oh, but Stryper was just too hard core. I couldn’t really listen to them, they had crossed the line. It wasn’t just that they wore spandex, although that was a lot of it. They were just too “rocky”.
Petra was by far my favorite. Their “This Means War” Album had enough testosterone-laden guitar riffs to satisfy my restless teenage heart. It was almost frightening how much I liked it.
Petra was put forth as the balm by the aging and now church-going rockers in our congregation. But those same rockers had their own collections. They were musicians, see, Guitar players. And Eddie Van Halen was one of the best, they’d say. They HAD to hear it to learn to improve their own playing.
But we’d better not listen to it. It would sear our ears with Satan.
Listening to Van Halen now, I am stunned with the innocuous lyrics. They are very nice. This furthers my opinion that those church leaders were idiots. And so were the parents who followed them.
But I don’t want to forget the other reason I was compelled to buy the Van Halen CD yesterday.
VH1 was showing a movie, called “Rock Star.” All the sexiness of those heavy metal boys and the drive of the drums and the siren song of the guitar burst in on me now, as an adult. NOW I know what to do with the feelings those bring on.
Mmm…I still love a man in long hair and leather pants.
It’s a really good movie, even thought I didn’t see the end of it.
My friend Kisa has this to say about living life to the fullest. I definitely give her credit for living by this credo.
But I’d also like to posit the idea that life is long. Yes, life is short, and grab the moments.
But life is also very long, so don’t forget the long things too. Long friendships, even long love relationships (marriage?). Living for a long time in one home, one that you spend a long time making into a beautiful for yourself to live in.
After a while, all the fleeting moments can add up to one long evening at home wishing for something else.
So yes, live like it’s your last moment, and cherish each moment you are given.
But many things that are worth doing take more than a moment to do. They take consistent effort. A “body of work” for an artist takes a lifetime to build up. It takes commitment and consistency to do a large project.
If you don’t embrace that life is long, you can overlook the big things that might be worth doing.