Monday, June 29, 2009

White Elephant.

I had an amazing dream last night!!! It made me incredibly happy, and I think it's only about once a year that I get such terrific dreams that I want to sleep in to see the conclusion.

So I was driving along an empty road, when I saw a little elephant crying in the field! I pulled over to see what was wrong, and he was this little pure white elephant, small enough to fit in my lap. So I sat down crosslegged, picked him up as though he were a baby, and gave him some peanut butter to comfort him. Turns out, he was lonely, and just wanted some company, so he and I became good friends. I took him driving with me everywhere, and when he grew bigger, he let me ride on my back. I traveled the entire world on the back of a white elephant. The dream ended because winter was coming, and I wasn't sure where I could put him so he could stay warm. I suggested a barn to him, but he really didn't like that idea, and I felt bad that he wasn't home and warm.

Lately, I've been crying in movies... a LOT. This is starting to concern me a bit. A couple of weeks ago, I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and I started crying. Then I cried again. After the fourth time, I decided to keep count, and I was at seventeen times that I had cried when the movie ended. I don't think I want to see that movie again. It's too painful. I thought maybe it was because it was late out, and I was feeling emotional, but the next morning, when I thought about it, I started crying again!

The other day, I went to the theaters and saw Up with Yorge, Heidi, and a bunch of people. What a great film. But it made me cry... six times...

This is confusing. I don't ever cry in movies: the only movie that I had cried in before was A.I. Artificial Intelligence (yes, it's a sad movie!) but now... I went to see Star Trek with my dad and sister the other night, and the opening scene made me cry. Then I realized that all of the stuff that is making me cry is with these people who are in love with each other, but can't be together. That's just heartbreaking. No wonder I'm sad. It's worth crying about.

I'd like to think there's something fundamental, or a best version of ourselves that we're striving towards, and if we aren't fulfilling it, we'll be like my white elephant that I'm trying to stuff in a barn for winter time because I don't want him to freeze. He's not home, and he can't be who he truly is until he finds it, and if he doesn't, he will either freeze to death, or live, but in a tiny little barn where he can't move or see any light. He needs to go home.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

This blog was a journey from bottom to top (Or, clothing the flowers)

ABOUT THIS BLOG: This entry was written over the span of about a week, with a variety of emotions rolled into it. A huge spectrum of despair and hope at different points. I was tempted to scrap this and do a new post (I often do this) but I liked the journey that this blog has documented, and so for that, it warranted a spot on The Thin Place. So, without further ado...

I've been feeling quite trapped, lately.

It's the combination of a lack of car, a lack of money, and a lack of certainty that has been increasingly scaring the living hell out of me the more I think about it. Who knew that I liked my security so much? I like to be spontaneous, but this uncertain feeling is quite terrifying.

Last week, I went car-shopping, only to find that I really cannot afford anything. What a demoralizing feeling. I phoned my dad because I promised to keep him updated about the car situation, but he just yelled at me for a good two minutes before I just shut the phone off, telling me I didn't know what I was doing, didn't understand anything, and couldn't do it.

This, obviously, didn't help anything at all. My bank account has been sitting in the "red zone" (my own personal red zone) for far too long, and things have been dwindling while I've been sitting, waiting for a cheque to arrive in the mail that would allow me to continue to advertise, and continue to do this business. I don't like that feeling either, like I'm just sitting still, unable to do anything. I feel trapped.

And it really doesn't take much to make me feel better. When I was a child, whenever I scraped my elbow, or was crying about something, my parents would get me a glass of water, and I would feel better. But this is big. I've never had this feeling before, because there's always been something I could fall back upon, a Plan B... now the Plan B is up to me, and isn't as concrete and safe as before. I am wandering into the unknown, without a map to guide me. I am stepping into the wild, (haha…) and there is a likelihood of failure. This summer might end, I may not have the money I need to do next year, and I will be screwed, and left thinking to myself, "It would have been better to dwindle my money away in BC being happy and seeing beautiful things than to dwindle my money away in Ontario, alone, stressed, and worried.”

One night, in a bout of frustration, I went to Corrie Kessler. I was tired, and frustrated, because multiple times, I have gotten offers to live in places that are in better areas to do business (there's no business in a low-income area like Hanover) and places that actually HAVE internet and cell phone reception, for that matter. But I can't live in those places unless I have a car, and I cannot afford a car unless I have business, but I need a car to pursue my business more. Such a catch-22.

Corrie is a sweet person, a talented musician, and she swears like nobody else I've ever met. In every other circumstance, swearing sounds just plain vulgar, but she swears with class and style. Nobody swears like Corrie Kessler does.

The basic thing that troubles me, is, what on earth am I DOING!? Is this what God wants me to do? What am I going to gain from this summer?

These are the questions that I’ve been asking myself lately.

However, oddly enough, the more I think of it, the more I do want this. The uncertainty is good, in it’s strange and scary way. I said to Corrie, “I should have just gotten a job at Christian Horizons or something. Pretty much everybody at EBC is doing that, and it’s stinking easy to get a job there.”

But she basically said (with a bunch of swearing in between), and it echoed my convictions, that I could have done that, but I’m not like everybody else. I could do that, but I’m choosing the harder, more terrifying path, to attempt to do something where I could come out terribly victorious, not in the financial sense, but in the sense that I took nothing but my resources, and made something out of it. I’ve been increasingly realizing that this summer has the potential to be very formational in a lot of what I want to do with my life. It’s narrowing, yes, but that’s the nature of it. We stand at this strange and exciting age, at this huge wide canyon of possibilities, ideas, and dreams, and beyond our control, we move forward, because time goes on, life goes on, and we have to do something. And I am just moving forward. The something could be anything. We could fly hot air balloons if we wanted to. (Boy, saying that gave me an irresistible desire to fly hot air balloons for the rest of my life. And I would like that.) But we must move forward. And people are so terrified to move forward, or to move forward somewhere. Terrified that they won’t have the money, and terrified that they’ll fail. Terrified because (and I’m quite certain of this) they want to get married so they can have lots of sex, (or because they watch too many romantic movies, and they get all starry-eyed and go for the first boy/girl that smiles at them. I’ve said “no” many times, and I don’t regret the time I’ve said “no” yet. I think reeeal hard about saying “yes”, or “no” to somebody.) and pursue successful careers with pretty suits, and shiny cars. They want it all, but they don’t want to wait, or wind up dirt poor and starving. So they do something, anything, to the point of compromising those dreams sometimes to try and have it all, and then miss out on the main point. And then the rest of their lives, they’re trapped, into having to buy all these big shiny things, and wind up in a constant land of debt and down-payments for all of these things, that they actually cannot afford.

Like, yes, be resourceful. Be able to spend your money frugally, give overly-generously, tithe, and never live with more than what you need. Just, don’t be afraid. God does, and always has, provided. I keep on feeling like I’m being smacked in the face from this verse from Matthew that says something about not worrying because God clothes the flowers, and they’re beautiful, and if he can clothe the flowers, and if the birds have endless resources at their disposal to build houses, we can certainly be assured that we won’t go without clothing, food, and shelter. I love the visual it paints in my head, of God giving the flowers pretty colours and clothing just so they can be beautiful. Clothing the flowers... Especially in this day, age and place, and the community of people we live around. Corrie and my other friend Anthony, (whom I called because he knows a lot about Saturns) both told me that if I have any chance of finding any set of wheels that’ll stand a chance of running and passing a safety, I’d need $1000. The government gave me $600, and I’d need to find $400 more. Those were their exact words. Scrape together $400.

Last week, I went to get the mail, and in it, I found an envelope with a cheque for $400. Hmm. I am taken care of, and I am going to be okay. :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

If I should have gone...

The other day, I got to see my friend David Coates, and he proved me wrong on something I had been long convicted on. We went to see a play in Kincardine with my sister; a strange play where my old high school substitute teacher played a transvestite (Honestly, there are not many stranger things to be seen than your old substitute teacher, who is a 50-60 year old man... with... breasts. He came and said hi to Dave and me afterwards. It was surprisingly hard to keep from staring at his fake breasts. That sounds really bad.) But that's not the point. Viva La Vida by Coldplay is one of my favorite songs, and since the first time I listened to it, I was convinced, with my Perfect Pitch (the rare ability to identify notes and keys by listening to a song) that the song was in D major. We were talking about this, and Dave was like, "No, man. It's in Db Major, and the second one, is Ebsus; it's not a clean Eb at all." So, my chord progression was right: I had heard it as D, E, (apparently Esus?) A, F#m. But as I played it over in my head, I thought to myself, "DARN! He's right! It's Db, Eb, Ab, Fm" I was half a semitone too high. David Coates has perfect pitch too... And I have listened to this song HUNDREDS of times, for months, and have driven my friends crazy because I like it so much. Only to be a semitone wrong this entire time...

This was a good week. I did a lot, saw a lot, and felt a lot. Highlights of the week involved getting into an argument with my friend over the most ridiculous thing that can be argued over, and then realizing later that the entirety of the argument involved a fundamental problem on both sides to properly communicate: he's a boy, I'm a girl. It's not often I realize that a problem exists in communication, simply because of your gender. Tim Chester once put it to me as, "Boys are like waffles. Girls are like pasta. They’re not the same!" I didn't understand why he was trying to compare people to food.
One point in the middle of the discourse, I was upset, and talking to my friend Jill about it. It was midnight, and I decided that I needed to do something big to get my mind off of everything. So we drove to Port Elgin to go to the beach, and I decided that skinny-dipping was the best way to make me feel better. And it's true. There's something about getting naked in a public area, and jumping into a frozen body of water that invigorates you, and makes you feel alive. I was chilled, feeling fresh and rejuvenated, and covered in sand, but it's a good feeling. Sometimes, I love the feeling of being cold, simply for the sake of cold alone. I love the feeling of being dirty, for the sake of being dirty. It's confirmation to me, that indeed I am alive, and taking full advantage of that gift given to me.

I had been going to the White Rose Cafe quite often over the course of the week. The combination of free wireless, and Josh is a very good combination, and keeps me coming back for more. Josh is the owner, and one of my favorite people in the entire world. In high school, I would skip class just so I could go and wash dishes with Josh. He’s extremely spiritual (he likes to meditate over the food he cooks so that customers will get good vibes!) and I honestly think that I became a Religious Studies student when I met Josh. This week, Nathan Bowman, the other owner of the place showed up. I have only a handful of memories spent interacting with him, but each time was starkingly memorable. Nathan taught me how to play chess. He taught me the Italian Defense (which my friends can NEVER overthrow, try as they might!). One time, I went to the White Rose, and I was extremely upset. At that point, Nathan intimidated me, so I avoided him, and went to the back to read, "Oh the Places you'll go!" by Dr. Seuss, and to cry. But he came back, and brought me a cup of peppermint tea, and shared stories. That discussion was unforgettable. This time around, Nathan and I painted the bathroom. My old torn jeans are now yellow. We talked about religion, going on adventures, and strangely enough, as we were talking, I felt very invigorated, and alive. The next day, he packed up and left this life, to wander and go on some more adventures. I may never see him again. I thought to myself when I bid him goodbye, "I see this individual, on average, once a year. So why am I going to miss him?"

And then, Saturday morning at 9:30, Heidi and Yorge phoned me.
"Jessie. Get up and be ready in fifteen minutes. We are going on an adventure of the highest caliber!"
45 minutes later, they showed up at the door, telling me to bring my camera, and my machete. I was so excited about the fact that I could bring my machete that I bought for a couple of dollars in Ghana in it's pink leather sheath with me. Usually I have a fear of getting arrested for carrying such an intense knife around. Yorge and Heidi refused to tell me where we were going. Three hours later, we arrived in Niagara Falls! I love spontaneous trips to exciting locations. We wandered around the Falls all day, and I took some terrific photos. Later, on the way back, Yorge took a wrong turn, and we found ourselves in the beautiful town of Lowville. And in the distance... Yorge saw a cliff...

Yorge has this, almost insane, cliff instinct. When he sees cliffs, he wants to climb them. When he sees stars, he wants to go outside. Yorge lives unlike any person I know. He zoomed up the mountain, and we climbed our way onto this incredible cliff. Better yet, we went at an incredible time: it was storming out. We raced to the cliff, practically jumping with excitement. When we got there, we sat, right at the very edge, and watched the lightning, from the top. We were so high, we could see the waves the rain fell in. The lightning painted itself across the sky in blinding flashes that moved us to awe. The thunder shook the mountain, and the rain was icy, instantly freezing me to the bone. Ice water mercilessly dropped on us, and we were soaked. We kept on climbing, and stumbled over to a bone-white cliff, when the rain let off. The sun shone a band of gold that hugged the earth and painted the forest the most vibrant green. Looking at this, I felt like I was above the earth, and connected to everything at the same time. I wondered if I would die, or vanish, and I would feel like this, so connected and a part of all that was taking place. The core of me was frozen, and I clung to my sweater for scraps of warmth. And then, at the end as we were leaving, a rainbow painted itself across the sky. I was praying that a rainbow would appear. It would be the perfect ending to an incredible sight. I wanted to cry it was so beautiful. Of course, at that exact moment, my camera ran out of batteries, and I had to coax every single scrap of life out of those batteries to get one last picture of it. I felt like, for an instance, I could see what exactly it was that God had intended for us in Paradise, and see the painted stains of humanity’s greed and sin that marred it. But Paradise continued to fight on, and I longed to be in it, and of it.

As we were driving out, Yorge suddenly looked at me, and said,
"Hey Jessie, I have no blinkers."
I looked at his dashboard. "Hey Yorge, you have no speedometer. Either that, or you're going at 0km/h."
We gradually began to realize we had no lights either, and all of a sudden, the car puttered out, and we coaxed the Silver Streak into the closest driveway. A very friendly gentleman gave us a charge, and we went off on our way. I was confused as to how the battery could run out while we were driving, as I was previously aware that running the motor charges the battery. But this was bordering on the limited extent of my knowledge of cars, so I didn't ask any questions. We went on our way, and again, we had no lights, no blinkers, and no dashboard. Soon after, the little clock on the dashboard faded out, and we made it to Guelph before we finally died and rolled into a parking lot. We were still frozen from the cliff, and obviously had no heat in the Silver Streak. In fact, we had to open the window to let air in to keep the window from fogging up. Some more friendly individuals gave us a charge, I pretended like I knew some sort of thing about cars, and we let it sit idle to charge up. But when the car ran out of batteries again, we were concerned. I found a CAA card in the glove compartment, and called those guys, and forty minutes later, a tow-truck showed up. We made it back to Hanover at one in the morning, but I was completely exhausted. I could barely brush my teeth properly, and I felt like I was drunk as I stumbled, and collapsed into my bed. I was asleep in minutes.

I keep on wondering if I should have gone with Nathan. He invited me to grab my backpack and go. But I said no, because I have no money, and I’m committed to this government grant, and I am most definitely enrolled in school next year, and I need to pay for next year. I do not like being trapped like this. I feel like society is already grabbing a hold of me, and giving me a schedule that I have to adhere to. And in the words of that computer-animated captain in the movie Wall-e, “I don’t want to survive, I WANT TO LIVE!” I always keep my clothes rolled up, ready to pack at a moment’s notice, for adventures exactly like this. But I try to convince myself, “It’s for the good in the long run”, even though a little voice tells me that I’m going against a deep conviction that I’ve long held to. Yes. I stay. I become an entrepreneur, and play that piano. I will buy a car (even though my parent’s keep on telling me it’s a bad idea. But I do like the fact that I can tell people that the government paid for my vehicle). I will make enough money, surely, and go to school next year. I will learn lots, and bring home frighteningly good grades like last year (I have never received high 80’s and 90’s as regular marks… I soak up university’s style of learning like a hungry sponge, and it shows. I’m afraid of it being bad for my ego.) I will probably do a similar thing next summer, and play more piano. Third year, I would like to go to another country. I was researching what going to school in Oxford would be like. To go to the same school as Lewis and Tolkien? Oi. Do my fourth year. Get my degree. Get my master’s (Mdiv?). Get a Phd. Be a prof. And somewhere in there, write books. I am a writer, after all.

But what concerns me, is that I’m going through a substantial dry spell in writing. I haven’t produced any literature that is noteworthy in ages. When I write, some strange thing consumes me, and I just… go. The stuff that is produced on paper, I do not know where it came from, and it is always incredibly beautiful, and powerful. Writing makes my heart pound. It makes me sweat. But I haven’t been able to do that in such a long time. It leads me to wonder if there’s something inherently wrong here… if my “plan” isn’t a good one, because I can no longer do something that is fundamental to my ability to live. This is why I keep on wondering, if I should have gone with Nathan. Sure, I saved my security, but I have forsaken the mountains.