25 August 2008

Thoroughly unconsequential ruminations

I thought moving home after being at school was weird, but moving back to school after living at home after living at school is much weirder. First of all, last year seems like a different place, maybe an alternate dimension. The fact that I'm living on the other side of campus increases the gap between last year's experience and this year's. My first real venture back on campus (the residence halls where I am are tucked away to the side of campus, in woods. I'm working hard on renaming the woods in my mind. I'm thinking the Forbidden Forest, going with a Harry Potter theme for the year) was last night, which was the school paper meeting. It gave me the chance to walk across campus at a relatively uncrowded time and avoid a few people I don't like, while pleasantly running into a few that I do. I tried to view the stately brick halls and rolling tree-dotted lawn as the hallowed halls of opportunity and learning, rather than as remembrances of a thoroughly confused freshman year. I must admit, it is turning out to be quite refreshing to not be the most confused demographic on campus anymore. I was actually thrilled to show a girl how to open her mailbox today. I realized, hey, I have a little bit of knowledge - I know the ropes, I'm an old hat at this! But I must be careful not to let my mad mailbox-opening skizills get to my head and lead me into the old sophomore syndrome (big head, little brain). Back to the paper, my accidental accomplishment: turns out I'm going to be published in the first issue, but that's all in the month of September. I guess I'll have to make my column so kick-ass and ahead-of-deadline that the editors fall all over themselves to publish me twice. After the meeting, the night was so nice (albeit a little warm and humid, but hey, that's the South) that I sat on the steps of the majestic grand walkway that is the ceremonial entrance to campus and wrote a little, just because I felt like it, which was something I haven't felt like in a long time.

Today, however, was quite miserable. The weather, I mean. It has rained steadily, sometimes pouring, all day. Classes were pleasantly introductive (new word), but the walks in between have been horribly wet, which makes the air-conditioned indoors shiver-inducing. I think I'll invest in a pair of rubber boots, probably some giant ugly ones, like knee-high army green ones, because everybody (at least the girls, which is the vast majority) has cutsey polka-dotted ones, and it is my natural reflex to try not to fit in with the Stepford appearance.

I was quite a bit disappointed that we ended up in the "crappy" upperclassman residence hall, but in reality it's infinitely better than the freshman dorms, and living with my 3 favorite people at school has already been a ball. My roomie and I have similar tastes, and after a few shopping trips (in the rain) and much rearranging, our room has a cozy, world-traveler vibe, with enough floor space for a crazy dance party. We have a couch and a sink, two bookshelves, a coffeemaker and an electric kettle, dramatic dark red window curtains, and a bathroom shared with our suitemates. In our search for the perfect rug and the perfect closet curtains, I took Roomie on her first trip to World Market, which is the most beautiful store in the world, and the one I'd decorate my entire house from if possible. If I had a house.

Enough about our incredible room. Which is also on the first floor but not the ground floor, which means no stairs and no laundry room noise. I am super excited about going to Bible study for the first time since Spring tonight. I'm also looking forward to my three classes tomorrow, which will make for a long but hopefully fascinating and educating Tuesday-Thursday schedule.

Quote of the Day: "No opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible."
- W. H. Auden

Accomplishment of the Day: making coffee

Song of the Day: Samson by Regina Spektor

Book of the Week: Ender's Game

12 August 2008

Houston, we have a problem

I was flipping through late-night television, because as previously stated, I like watching TV, when I happened upon Joel Osteen preaching to his humongous audience. I don't pay much attention to JO, because I don't like him. I lingered, though, to see how long it took for him to say something I didn't agree with. I didn't have to wait long. He was saying something about having faith in what you don't see - I thought, hm, yeah, makes sense, backed up in scripture, etc. But that led to JO telling the congregation that this means they will get what they want. All their hopes and dreams will come true, because God gives good things to those who believe in him. Just pray to God everyday, he said, thanking him in advance that you'll be rewarded with what you want. This sounds really nice, doesn't it? God is going to give you everything you ask for! It would be so comfy to settle into this kind of belief; it's so close to the truth and much easier. Speaking from experience and observation, God doesn't always give what you ask for. Faith is not believing that your dreams will come true, it's believing that God is giving you the best possible life in accordance with his plan, and that even if the things you want don't come to you, the good things God has in store for you are really what you wanted all along and just didn't know it. If you keep believing God is going to give you ice cream for breakfast every morning because you ask for it, you're going to get disappointed. Your God is too small. Your God is a genie, and not a God. What cause would you have to worship someone who is just there to serve your every whim? Someone who doesn't know any better than you? You (me!) who get mad when God doesn't give you everything you ask, who are you (who am I) to know better than God? Are you (am I) the All-Knowing? The All-Seeing? The Inventor of the Universe?

I love the movie Bruce Almighty. It brilliantly illustrates what I'm talking about. Bruce is such a whiner. He feels like God has slighted him. He curses God, in a Jim Carrey way, for not giving him what he wants. So God (Morgan Freeman!) lets Bruce be God for a while - except he's still Bruce. Gaffes and laughs ensue as he plays magic tricks with his powers and gets revenge on all those he feels have wronged him. He gets what he wants, a job as an anchorman. But he loses what he had, the good things he took for granted. Bruce is just a guy, and he makes a mess of his life when he tries to be God. God (Morgan Freeman) has one of my favorite movie lines, one of my favorite truths, "Since when does anybody know what they want?"

Being a Christian is not easy. It's tough to trust in God and swallow your hissy fit when things don't go your way - and trust me, things won't always go your way, even with the Almighty on your side. Osteen didn't quite get it right. Maybe he thought he was saying what people wanted to hear. That doesn't mean it's what people need to hear.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

07 August 2008

Oh, I don't watch TV, you brainless moron

Ever asked somebody if they saw such and such the other night on TV , and gotten a reply "Oh, I don't watch TV," smelling faintly of holier-than-thou?
Why is it that we think people who don't watch TV are so disciplined and austere, while people who don't read (don't, not can't) are foolish and/or dumb and/or have no idea what they're missing out on? Frankly, I liken not watching TV to not going to the theater. After all, that's what TV is, isn't it? Theater in your living room? With lots of little tiny bathroom breaks rather than one or two long ones. I've always considered Shakespearean comedies as predecessors to the modern sitcom. Granted, there is a hell of a lot of crappy, lame, disgusting TV out there. Fake wrestling, any reality show, MTV, Reno 911, etc, you get the point. But what about the gripping dramas? The witty comedies? The Discovery Channel and the Food Network? Yeah, there's nothing beneficial about sitting around watching brainless sitcoms all day. But I see nothing wrong with enjoying really good TV, when the writers and the actors work together beautifully to bring to life a compelling story. TV can even make you smarter, or at least more knowledgeable, in the case of many shows on Discovery, the History Channel, the Travel Channel, maybe even CSI!
I guess I'm urging you, whether via tube, plasma screen, or free online TV, not to ditch television for the lofty feeling that comes with declaring you abstain from it. That lofty feeling will soon fade when you can't discuss the latest episode of House with the kids on the playground, or think that dropping a penny off the Empire State Building could kill someone because you've never seen Mythbusters, and everyone in the room realizes that you've got a bad case of don't know what you're missing and/or stick up the rear.