Cinahilger's Blog


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Heh..hey there….

Heh..hey there. I haven’t written since spring break!? Sorry about that.

But I’m not. Sorry, that is. 

Today, despite going to bed at two thirty, I woke up at the crack of eight. I was immediately aware of a large amount of those pill bug things (that build up on your bed sheets, y’know what I’m talking about?) that had coagulated on my fitted sheet. I remembered having read somewhere recently that you can get rid of those with a disposable razor. So in a rare burst of I-just-woke-up-and-am-going-to-do-something-about-this energy, I threw the rest of the blankets off my bed and went to the bathroom for a disposable razor and went to work on the pill bugs.

Sometimes I wish there was a camera in my room. I would love to see the confused and alarmed expression of someone watching me sit up in bed from a dead sleep, throw all the covers off the bed and begin shaving my bed with a bic razor. 

(It worked really well, by the way.)

From there my day got considerably more normal. It’s been one of those wonderful and rare stormy mornings, though by the time I’d re-made my bed and made myself presentable, the fury had died down to a light rain. I betook myself to the south Mill (as is customary Saturday practice…and since it’s summertime now, customary every day practice.) Now the clouds are dispersing and the sun is shining through, proving that even in the throws of June one can still look upon that fiery ball with appreciation, given just a little time away from it.

Summertime, summertime, summertime. 

I’m not at camp this summer, and I’m reminded of that fact about every 5 seconds by some person or thing or elusive feeling that reminds me of yet another moment from camp that I’m missing, whether it’s early morning walks to the river, or the buzz of insects in the dry, raspy grass field, or that feeling that everything is exciting, because when 150 kids are around, everything is. 

I knew that being away from camp would be hard, because I’ve done this one other summer before. But I’d forgotten that it feels very much like someone died; someone you miss dearly and whom every little thing reminds you of. So I have to keep reminding myself of the really difficult things about camp (the only real convincing one I can think of is showering with cicadas). I also have to keep reminding myself of all the things I get to experience by being in Lincoln that I might not otherwise get do. Like wearing skirts, and seeing my family, and going to the Mill every day. Oh, and seeing friends, the ones that like me, didn’t go back to camp. 

Hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy this summer, because since I’m graduating in December, it may be the last relatively stress-free summer I have for a while. And to that end, I should try to stress as little as possible. Hah, like that’ll happen.

 

 

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No regrets.

It’s time for my annual “Spring-break-is-over-and-that-throws-me-into-introspection” post.

Spring break is over, you see, and I am quite introspective about it…

…alright, I’m not. Here is a pie chart of how my week worked out.

Image

That pretty much sums it up. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I woke up this morning and realized that I have apparently pulled muscles in my thumb from playing so many video games. I have played so many video games that I sustained an injury.

This is quite possibly the last true spring break I will ever have. And it will go down in history as the laziest, most indulgent spring break in memory.

No regrets.


Theologically Unsound

I’m not very good at this whole “Christianity” thing.

I mean..I have a hard time putting into words my attachment to God. But it lies in the harsh flawlessness of nature, in the spark of beauty you sometimes see between two people who love each other. That feeling you get, you know? I love the idea that we weren’t made to do this, to toil under the sun and hurt one another.

Like children born into slavery we’ve always known this life, but it’s in the little glimpses of heaven, stories or visions that inspire us, that we find continuing evidence that there’s more to life than this. God didn’t give us eyes so that we could see a spreadsheet, nor fingers that we could type a report. These are just the things we have to do to survive in a broken world.

But what does this have to do with God, the one in the bible?

I don’t know, really; I’m still trying to work it all out.

I think, though, that God in the bible is having to make himself visible to us slaves. The God of the bible’s helping us to understand how to know him in the midst of this terrible thing the world has become. He’s practical, seeing the need of his people and reaching out to them.

Because you can’t worship the thrill you get at seeing light filter down through the trees. You can’t worship inspiration. If you do, you’re a hippie. And hippies, while entertaining, aren’t necessarily the most useful. They offer no real practical methods for change because they are attached to a vision of the world that can never happen.

I feel like the things our souls respond to- a movie, a story, a piece of art, a person, a place- these are glimpses of the world we were supposed to have, like stars shining through the pinholes pierced in the night sky.

The God of the bible is the same one who created this beauty, and who created our souls to respond to it. But things got all messed up, and now we find ourselves hating one another and withdrawing into ourselves; forming societies that revolve around money and power and every-man-for-himself, and pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps.

So should we all join communes and reject this entire idea? No, that’s the hippie thing again. I’ve fit in pretty well to this society of school and jobs and gas prices, and I think you probably have, too. But I still feel it sometimes, when I see small kingdoms of thunderheads racing over the plains, that these feelings are far more important than we allow them to be.

So God is reaching out to us now in the midst of all this, and he’s trying to get us out of this mess. It involves more than just recognizing what’s beautiful. It’s hard work to leave slavery, to break free of an addiction. You have to give up a lot of things that you’ve become used to. That’s why we’ve got a written record of the story of God, and that’s why we have to be real with those around us. If it were easy things wouldn’t have come this far.

I’m so tired of just playing the role of the Christian. If my friends are hurting and they need assurance, I don’t want to tell them, “Cheer up, Jesus loves you! Here’s a bible verse.” Hollow words won’t help anyone. I want to be real with people. Christianity isn’t a slogan and it isn’t a bible verse. If I’m going to help anyone, I’ve got to pinpoint the beautiful hopeful parts of this Christianity thing.

Hey, you weren’t made to suffer! Hey, all those feelings of love and inspiration are what you were made for! Hey, there’s someone who wants to get you out of this mess! It’s hard, it means denying yourself every day, but it results in bursting through the night sky into the land of starlight.

That’s worth rejoicing over.

I’m sure none of this makes sense to anyone but me, but it makes more sense to me now than it did before I started writing, so I will consider it time well spent.


Chickadee

Good morning, good morning, good morning.

You guessed it, I’m at the Mill again. And I have decided that after the birth of one’s children and your wedding day, the next-greatest day of your life has to be the day you eat a Conroy’s glazed donut that is still warm from the fryer.

It’s rather unfortunate that I come to the Mill and sit picturesquely by the window and snarf this donut with reckless abandon. It would probably make a very nice picture if it weren’t for all the pieces of glaze stuck to my face. I’m not even taking dainty bites. This is serious business.

This morning I woke up to my favorite birds singing outside of my window. My apartment complex is bird heaven. You’ve heard this bird call, it’s just two notes. Two notes repeated over and over, sometimes answered by another bird. A quick wikipedia search just now taught me that this bird is the black-capped chickadee. Congratulations on becoming my new favorite bird, sir.

This chickadee call reminds me of summer. From the time I was little and riding my bike up and down the sidewalk, to the numerous years of tromping around at camp, this birdsong has been the soundtrack to some of the happiest times in my life. Like Pavlov’s dog, I’ve been classically conditioned to enjoy life whenever I hear that distinctive song.

And now I must go, for I feel that part of this beautiful morning must involve reading from Psalms.


Ugh, the future.

I’m surprised I’ve had time to breathe today.

This semester is one of the busiest I’ve had, and yet I’m managing it so much better than I have in the past. It makes sense that I would finally figure out this whole “college” thing my final semester of classes.

Or is it my final semester?

Next fall I’ll be doing my student teaching, at the completion of which I will receive my bachelor’s in Secondary Education with an endorsement in Art K-12. It feels so strange and grown-up to say something like that.

However, I’ve been encouraged by my adviser and some professors to pursue a second endorsement in ESL (English as a Second Language). This would mean two more semesters of school after graduation, during which time I could substitute teach and possibly teach full-time (depending on my schedule). Teachers with ESL endorsements are highly sought-after today, because of how many ELL students are coming into the schools. I would even be more hire-able for an art teaching position, which is nice in these times of uncertainty in the fine arts education world.

But it’s kind of a struggle, because I’m so close to the finish line, I can see that cliched ribbon at the end, but instead of finishing triumphantly, I’m thinking, “Shouldn’t we move that ribbon back a couple of miles?”

Is it even worth finishing school now if my position within the job market is so shaky?

Is it worth spending more money (Post-baccalaureate classes cost twice as much as undergrad per semester) and staying in the school mode to get an endorsement in something I’m not even sure I’d like to do?

I have roughly a month to make the decision, and I could use some serious prayer as I make my decision. Sage advice is also welcomed. Parsley advice is strictly prohibited. (That joke was well thymed).


Waxy poetry

Another day has dawned, cold.

My coffee is cold now, too.

I can’t think of a thing to write

A thing to write to you.

So I’m writing a poem (it’s in rare form)

About how my brain has gone dead.

I’m digging and picking and prodding

Prodding words out of my head.

Coffee and cold and calliope

Are words that begin with “C”.

So does my name, come to think of it.

I’m thinking alliteratively.

I wanted to write about Jesus

I wanted to write about John

But instead I’m writing a poem

A poem about the dawn.

I must admit it’s almost noon now.

And dawn was a long time ago

But it seems so poetic to mention it

Along with death and snow.

I don’t even read that much poetry

so to write some is really quite dumb.

Hey, did you know that the space bar

is the only button you hit with your thumb?

Alright, this is getting quite silly

and I must find something better to do.

Writing poetry willy-nilly

is just wasting your time, too.


Snap!

Here I am at the Mill again, surrounded by a crowd of people at the little round tables. People meeting family or old friends, chuckling or gossiping or looking down into their mugs shyly.

And even though I don’t know any of them, I like coming here. I like being around these people.

This week, my room feels grey. Despite the plants and the paintings and the wadded up t shirt remnants (I’m cutting out squares for a t shirt quilt, you see) it seems grey in there. The light filtering through the blinds seems starkly white and cold, and the halls of my apartment feel like a mortuary.

But out here it feels like vibrant technicolor, like a Kodachrome picture that I’ve placed myself within.

You know that feeling of inevitability that shows up towards the end of a really great vacation or break? It’s here in force now, and it was when I was awoken at 5 am and lay there, staring at my ceiling.

I have absolutely nothing to do today, you see. And it follows in the form of all of the weeks of this Christmas break. Instead of feeling luxuriously lazy and appreciative of this time away from schoolwork, I find myself stressed because I know these last few days are slipping through my fingers, and I can’t think of a way to utilize them fully.

So once again as I sat on my bed and pulled on my pants and watched the white sun illuminate the grey dust on top of my black TV, I decided to escape before I turned grey, too. Now I sit at a green table, wearing a blue and red flowered dress, and even though I’m not really doing anything, at least I’m among people. People who, just like me, could easily be drinking coffee at their house. But they wanted to get out too; to go somewhere with the liveliness brought by other people.

And now together, these people and I, we make up this Kodachrome picture.

(P.S. I know this piece is in stark contrast to the one before it, which grumpily insisted everyone else go home. I would take that piece down, but that wouldn’t be very honest, now would it?)


People.

All I wanted to do when I woke up this morning was to go to the Mill and read my bible and write a little and center my thoughts during this runaway season, but the mill was so full that there were people standing around with cups of coffee in hand.

So I drove over to Stauffer’s Cafe for some breakfast, and I couldn’t find a single spot in the parking lot.

All of these people need to go home!

I need to start getting up early again.

Sincerely,

A Grouch.

P.S. Happy new year!

 


Story

I’ve always been a huge fan of Studio Ghibli’s films. It seems like they tug at my heartstrings in ways that no other movies can. Even the sweetest and silliest moments can bring tears to my eyes, and I sit there feeling silly and yet, not caring at all. I rarely watch these movies with others though, because I know they just wouldn’t understand.

For the longest time, my favorite film was Kiki’s Delivery Service. I’ve seen it countless times, and it holds a special place for me.

For a while, it was The Cat Returns, because Haru’s journey to finding herself was so familiar to me.

Lately though, for some reason, my favorite Ghibli film has been Only Yesterday. I think I’m finally toward a point in my life where this film feels like it’s talking about me. The story of a city girl, Taeko, going to visit the country, reminiscing about her fifth-grade self, and wondering what she really wants from life…I think this film is understated and beautiful, if you’re paying attention.

It speaks to me, all of it, from her rememberances of her awkward fifth-grade self, to her struggles with math and her frustrations with feeling stupid and different because of it…even her longing for living a life in the countryside, but never dreaming she could actually have it. Taeko is a girl who dreams but is afraid to give justification to her own feelings. And yet, at 27, she’s steadfastly single, unwilling to risk compromising what she has. She reminds me so much of myself.

And like all Ghibli films, it’s artfully and subtly crafted.

I think we, as humans, like movies and books and…well, stories, because they cause us to take a look at our own lives as a story, instead of just viewing them through the narrow lens of our everyday existence. And when we see a story that closely relates to us, we are taken in by the wish that our lives, too, would be a story with a happy ending.

But at the conclusion of most stories, the character’s lives are not at an end. They continue living, day after day, after the credits roll. And I think it’s important for us to keep that in mind. Cinderella had to wake up every day next to Prince Charming, and I bet there were days when she didn’t want to be queen, where she and the prince got mad at each other, or maybe she didn’t get along with the prince’s mother…these are the kind of things that happen every day, and we would be wise to remember them.

Life is full of beauty, and I think that it is one of God’s greatest masterpieces that our hearts and minds can be so swept up in the things we observe. But it’s important, also, to remember that the most beautiful story unfolding is the one we’re living, as unglamorous or irrelevant as it may seem at times. And the happy ending we’re looking for is like a glow on the horizon, and place beyond the rising sun where our Father has made a place for us.


Why?

Tonight I am pondering why I am a Christian.

I don’t want to quit, you see, I was just thinking..if someone asked me why I chose this, what would I say?

Because, the truth is, I have a lot of anger towards Christians. I don’t even like using the term “Christian” in reference to myself.

I was exposed at an early age to the idea that just because you are the face of a religious organization does not mean you’re perfect, or even very nice. I’ve always harbored a distrust for church people on first meeting, always considering them to secretly be despicable, guilty until proven innocent.*

Several times a semester as I walk to the student union, I’m forced to walk around a giant ring of undergrad onlookers surrounding a self-righteous preacher who tells us that gay people are going to hell, that women have no place getting a degree, that science classes are corrupting our generation.

Wherever I turn, it seems the community of people who call themselves Jesus-lovers are broadcasting a message of intolerance, ignorance, and self-righteous anger. Honestly, it makes me sick. It makes me sick because I know that every time I call myself a Christian, the imagery brought to most folks’ minds is one of judgementalism and ignorance.

And honestly, sometimes I do think that it would be very easy to see that, to see what Christianity has become, and to walk away. But I’m not in it because I want to “fit in” with this group of people. I’m not in it because I love being associated with bigots like Jimmy Swaggart, Robert Tilton, abusive pastors and others whose portraits hang beneath the big pink neon sign of Christianity.

Because there’s something more. There’s this other person who sometimes I wish I could dismiss, because being associated with him is even harder. His life makes it obvious that I am, truly, just like these people I dismiss. You’ve probably heard of him, his name’s Jesus.

Jesus is starkly different from all these people listed above. He’s starkly different from me, with my own selfishness, childishness, ignorance and hypocracy. He’s beautiful. He is loving..he is Love. He is tolerant of imperfection, and intolerant of those who pretend to be perfect. He gives me hope because the only people he angrily rebukes in the Bible are those who are self-righteous, ignorant, and judgemental. He is sickened by the biblical-era Jimmy Swaggarts.

Sometimes it’s still hard, though, and applying the term “Christian” still comes hesitantly to me, because I know what people are thinking when they hear it. I have a hard time looking past the plastic, hypocritical mask we’ve tried to put on God.

But Christian is a term that means “follower of Christ”, and that is what I want to be in the true sense of the word. Follower of Christ, not of other Christians, not of Fox News, or CNN, or of this author or that one. Maybe if I can be like Jesus, and still call myself a Christian, I can change a few people’s association with that label that has such a bitter aftertaste. And I know I’m not the only one who is following Jesus like this. There are lots of us. We’re not perfect, and God help us if we ever pretend to be. Let humility be our mantra, love be our modus operandi, and Christ be our one and only guide.

And with that out of my mind and onto this page, maybe I can finally find some sleep.

(*Note: It should be mentioned that I have also met many wonderful, caring, selfless pastors who have proved me wrong handily on my suspicions. In the end, pastors are just people. To hold them up as signposts for the Christian faith is wrong, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen every day.)