Saturday, September 3, 2011

The End

"...not with a bang but a whimper."

It is not without a touch of emotion that I at last arrive at the final day of this blog. But I'm ready. There is little to be said by way of a conclusion that has not already been said several times over. I was not very consistent. But I learned a thing or two about myself as a writer along the way.

A new blog will be starting soon. It is called Centaur and there's nothing on it now but there will be something on it soon. Not tomorrow (our originally planned start date has been postponed); but soon.

I could drag this out a bit longer, reminisce, pontificate, but it would only be delaying the inevitable. This blog has officially served its purpose. I'm ready to say goodbye.

Au revoir.

Do I get to make a wish on the candles if it's not really my birthday yet?

I often hear older people say that they still feel like a teenager. I wonder at what point in my progression through life will I stop feeling my age and begin to feel like I'm sixteen? The acknowledgment that my body doesn't seem to want to hold its former shape without a little extra coaxing on my part--that I have to actually work to keep the cellulite at bay--has come as an unpleasant shock, yet I definitely don't feel like I'm me ten years ago; I feel like I'm me now. I'm perfectly content to be at the stage of life I'm in and have no wish to have back anything I had in the past.

It's only in one aspect of my life that I approach the number twenty-six with some trepidation, and to elaborate requires that I touch on a subject I have traditionally and deliberately shied away from on this blog. But, since we are now approaching the end and the character of this blog has been developed to a point where slight deviations don't threaten to carry it off in an undesirable direction, I will be candid: I'm talking about love. Romance, to be more specific. I haven't been in a serious relationship in the last decade, and, though I really don't have the slightest interest in going on dates and assertively searching out a partner, I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a bit uneasy about this prolonged state of singleness. Especially at my age.

Today was not my birthday, but tonight I celebrated with my family, with enchiladas and presents and cake. They sang "Happy Birthday" to me and and I blew out the candles. No, I didn't wish for a boyfriend. But, okay, I did take it under at least flighting consideration before settling on something more altruistic. I don't know what the next year will hold as far as relationships are concerned. And, honestly, I'm not very open to responding positively to any opportunities that may arise. I know myself and know that I will anxiously resist anything and anyone that threatens my ideal for how romance ought to develop. But I do hope that, when the time comes for me to take a chance and make a change, I won't hold back on account of fear.

Friday, September 2, 2011

"The Best Twenty-five of twenty-five," part V

21. The best soul-searching experience
The last few days of my last week in France--the weekend I spent in silence at the international monastic community in Taizé, France--changed me. Since then, I have a very different attitude toward prayer, which, resultantly, reforms my entire outlook on life. In the oversight of one of the sisters in residence, I and seven other women decided to spend two and a half days in silence, committing ourselves to devoting three specific hours a day for listening to God through the reading of Scripture. At one point midway through, I broke my silence in order to speak privately with one of the sisters and receive her guidance in processing several of the thoughts and concerns I had been wrestling with both before and throughout the weekend of silence. She was very hard on me, and asked me to examine my decisions and reasons for making them from an approach I had never been willing to consider before. I felt exposed, and yet safe; a bit frightened by what I had learned, yet confident that God's loving faithfulness would guide me through. The entire weekend left me with a powerful sense of the freedom that exists within God's love. I entered silence with so many questions, only to find that the Holy Spirit was already speaking the answers within me.
22. The best personal purchase

My San Diego Zoological Society membership has proven a very valuable asset. Since I purchased it in January, it has provided me with countless hours of entertainment and pleasurable walks. Now that my savings has run out and I can't generally afford to go out, the zoo is a welcome escape from the humdrum patterns of home. Also, with the free guest passes that came with my membership, I've been able to entertain visitors at no extra cost!
23. The best new game
Cork stacking. Look out: it's gonna be big.

24. The best reunion
This summer, Ashley Jones came home to America. After spending two years living in Indonesia, she has returned to us once again and, in July, came down to Southern California for a full month. I got to surprise her at the airport and spend a couple of days with her and it was wonderful: In-N-Out, Taco King, the works. She has since moved back up to Oregon, which is very sad but still much better than Indonesia, because now at least we are in the same time zone. I still secretly hope that we will one day live in the same city again and have so much fun.
25. The best thing I didn't do but will do soon
I started this blog off with a few concrete goals for the year: to write more (check), to get a job (check), and to either start graduate school or set the wheels in motion for me to do so ('ll get back to you on that one). It is still undetermined whether I will be able to attend Fuller Theological Seminary this fall, but, even if I can't afford to do it now, the experience of finally getting my act together and applying has been immensely encouraging in reminding me that, indeed, I can continue my education. Yes, perhaps I've been out of school long enough now that it doesn't feel like the most natural thing in the world, but I can adjust. I can change my life. I can keep moving forward. The possibilities are innumerable.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"The Best Twenty-five of twenty-five," part IV

16. The best book
No new additions were made in the last year to my list of all-time favorite books. I read some good stuff, just nothing that wowed me to an exceptional extent. Still, of all the books I read for the first time this year, I enjoyed A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway, the most. What caused it to stand out was a combination of the excellent narrative style and the insightful reflections on the process of writing and observing life in Paris in the 1920's. The fact that I was in Paris while I was reading it didn't hurt, either.
17. The best beat
If it weren't for the new song, "Maracas," by Mates of State, available to listen to on their website as a preview to their upcoming new album, I might have had to have gone with final track on Sufjan Stevens' latest LP, released in October. But now I'm giddy with anticipation of the other new tunes that Mates of State has created. Mates of State is just so good.
18. The best beet
This one:

Dad's "proud" face.
19. The best tomato
The verdict is unanimous: of the six varieties of heirloom tomatoes I grew in the garden this year, the Yellow Brandywine's seeds are the ones most worth saving. A bountiful producer, this monster of a plant outgrew its tomato cage while its neighbor plants were still reaching only about a foot high. The fruit is proportionately gargantuan, attractive in shape and color, and delicious.
20. The best baked goods
I frequently dabble, with mixed results, in creating my own recipes. This year, my greatest triumph was my recipe for strawberry-lavender muffins (muffins aux fraises et lavande), which I made several times throughout the hight of the strawberry season with consistently superb results. I am confident that these muffins will become a late-spring/early-summer staple in years to come.