Monday, January 31, 2011

Babies, undocumented.

Last week, I got to hold a baby. An extremely small, barely seven week old baby. He spit white gluey stuff on my sweater.

I'm in love.

People usually call babies "miracles." I don't know that I agree. It is a natural thing, after all. I think when we say "miracle," we really mean wonder. Which it is. I sat there and jiggled Baby S. until he fell asleep in my arms. He curled his head into my chest and held his impossibly tiny right hand up to his face. I sat there for over half an hour with this tiny person sleeping in my arms, and the whole time I was full of wonder. At the crook of his knee. At the small sleeping grunts he made with each breath. At the way his left arm strewn out wildly to the side. At his face, his small and perfect human face. And at the way he woke up, his eyelids slowly opening and closing like the wings of a butterfly when it lands on a branch and you sit watching it suddenly still and slow.

And then he opened his eyes for real and stretched his neck out and squawked like a flightless bird and I couldn't stop laughing. Babies are incredibly weird. And entertaining.

So all this got me thinking about babies. Why do I love them? It's not that I'm romantic about them. Heck no. I spent two months this summer changing diaper situations I never thought I'd face, and handling scream fests 6 times an hour (not to mention toddler meltdown every 3 minutes). They are hard hard work, and I want to wait a long time before I get one of my own. They know they are being bad a lot earlier than we give them credit for, and they are selfish little devils. So . . . why are they so much fun?

Because they delight in things like a roll of toilet paper. And because . . . they need us.

You can understand dependence when you know the Maker's hand
-"The Cave," Mumford and Sons

Friday, January 21, 2011

Awake My Soul

When I was a little girl --around the 3-5 age range-- my mom used to think that I would be a performer one day. I sat in my car seat and sang songs to myself with words like, "He left me, oooohhhhh, and my broken heart, he left me, ohhhhh." She thought I would become a country singer.

I became an English major instead.

However, after an older childhood spent hating twangy music, I fell in with Nickel Creek. And then I fell deeper down the bluegrass hole and then newgrass got popular and now I love the Avett Bros. and Ralph Stanley and Emmylou alike.

And yet I've still got this thing for folk music. Which is my I love Mumford and Sons so much. Ballad-esque lyrics, the strings I love, but the movement, the energy, that's what's most wonderful. One risk folk music takes is of all the songs sounding alike, but these guys craft each song into a separate orb of meaning. And yet the album, all the music taken together, creates this lovely prism of song.

Awake my soul
for you were made to meet your Maker

Good Day Sunshine

Should I be writing a blog post now? Yes. Of course I should. It doesn't matter that it's a Friday morning and I could be working on other things. But one of my resolutions for the new year was to blog at least once a week. And you can look at the sidebar and see how faithful I've been. This will change.

What do you say after days that have been less than blissful? I'd like this post to be strong, triumphant. I'd like to say I'm so much farther along, that I left despair and its cousins in 2010, for good. I'd like to be an overcomer.

And. I'm not.

I've been discouraged this week to be dealing with thoughts and feelings and crap I thought I'd somehow gotten past. Instead I am staring my own unbelief in the face, and it hurts. I say along with Kathleen Norris that "faith is a sad business." Right now, what I am seeing and feeling is that living by faith sort of sucks. What I mean is, it is contrary to what I, as a human, want. None of us want faith in something we can't control. And that is where God says life is found. And I'm not really sure why I keep trying to go to Him except for Jesus, where else would I go.

This week, though, is sandwiched between two wonderful weekends. One past, one future. This past weekend, sweet boyfriend drove 7 hours to spend 3 glorious days with me in the wilds of Mississippi. We didn't do anything but regular life. Schoolwork, reading, cooking, walking, movie watching. Pretending that we were a normal couple who get to share every day life face to face instead of over the phone. It was bliss.

And this weekend, I go home to Alabama. To my parents. To the bare limb trees and wide brown fields around my house. To be with my dad and hear my mom's stories and tell her mine. You know, it is a huge blessing to like your parents. Thanks, guys.

I'm gonna learn to love
without fear

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

i won't worry

This morning, I left a month of sweet Alabama home time, and drove back to school and work. Only one class today, so not that bad. I'm not teaching this semester, and while I'm pretty sad about that, I'm also energized by the thought of more time to devote to school work. I'm in a fiction class this semester, which is highly exciting (would be more exciting if it didn't have a Friday class . . .). I like writing fiction. Why? I don't have to be good at it! Writing a poem is sweating blood and crafting and cutting and putting back in and basically agony. Writing a story is like making mudpies.

So it's back to the flatlands and the cozy apartment, which is only made cozier by the wind-sharp drizzle outside. And above, you get to see a little glimpse of how lovely and homey Jannell has made the apartment. And how I clutter it up, as demonstrated by the two black blobs on each sofa (my coat and blanket, respectively. I have a bad habit of dragging around in blankets, especially in the morning. It makes me look like a depressed hobo. Which is terrible, because all true hobos are happy and lighthearted. I would be too, if I had a campfire and songs every night. "I'm a singin' hobo, not a stabbin' hobo." Name that quote!).

The maps are courtesy the history department via Dr. Brown, via Alan and Lee who told me about them and led me to the room where we chose and cut and rolled and went away happy with our spoils a few years ago. I have a map of the Balkan states from 1683-1914! I love the Balkan states. True riches.

Tune in next time for the first half of my reading list for 2011. Suggestions welcome/appreciated/needed!