Saturday, December 01, 2007

Ending Bad

Nothing gives me greater respect for an author than having the courage to end a book badly. That is not to say they ruin an otherwise good book by ending poorly. I mean when they stray away from a customary happily-ever-after and allow an alternative solution. When the girl doesn't get the man she loves. When the happy couple dies young. When the hero saves everyone but himself. When good intention becomes miscommunication.

After all, what is realistic about a fairytale ending? It's depressing really. It sets an absurd expectation that real life should some how parallel the blissful sunset scene. And when it doesn't, the fuzzy feeling accompanying a good book fades into resentment. But bad endings have a way of stirring things up

Of course, this can't be done carelessly. It has to be done with purpose. And it has to have some other form of resolution.

With the exception of Romeo and Juliet, I love the Shakespearean tragedies. (And Romeo and Juliet has some great lines and some really wonderful adaptations, but I just can't take them seriously). Shakespeare had a gift for knowing when to kill everyone to make a point.

How can you trust an author who never kills off a main character. You can attack the hero with any combination of calamities and hang them suspended in the most impossible circumstance. Your reader will breath easy. The character is safe. But have the courage to brutally kill someone the readers love and you will have earned their fear, and ultimately their respect. And that is the beauty of a wonderfully bad ending.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Tragedy

It's too funny to be tragic.

I'm sure imagining it is funnier than the actual event. The only thing funnier is wondering what the headlines tomorrow will read.

This morning, kids from all over the valley started pouring into the park across from my grandmother's house. They were preparing for the annual Thanksgiving day race. Joining the festivities was some poor girl convinced to dress up in an outrageous turkey costume. The thing with these big costumes--you can't see anything. So what most people were interpreting as a grouchy turkey was just a blind bird. All the kids were running up trying to high five the Thanksgiving turkey, not too easy for a bird that can't see.

So picture the turkey, standing at the finish line. Everyone's excited. She's jumping up and down, flapping her wings. All of the sudden, the winner crosses the line and, victorious, runs over to hug the turkey. She never saw him coming, and in one foul swoop, he knocks her to the ground. She hits her head on the curb. And the ambulance comes and takes her away, feathers and all.

Now I'm not one to find an injury humorous, but I can't stop thinking about a turkey showing up in the emergency room on thanksgiving day. It doesn't help matters that our town's school mascot is the redskins. "Running Bear takes out turkey on Thanksgiving."

Friday, November 09, 2007

Things I did this week that I've never done before:

  • Bought a book I had never heard of just because it was on the New York Times bestseller list
  • Watched an entire movie in Chinese, reading the English subtitles
  • Made fried oreos
  • Subscribed to receive dating tips via email and unsubscribed 10 minutes later because I thought it was stupid
  • Set a picture of a total stranger as my desktop background
  • Attempted to solve a Rubik's cube backwards to see if I could return the pieces to their original messed up locations (I'll never know if it worked)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Midnight Inspiration

I've had several teachers tell me that the best ideas come in the middle of the night, and I should keep a notebook by my bed so I can write down all these things that end up forgotten by morning.

What they don't tell you is that in that semi-sleep state, the mind generally talks itself back into sleep before any action happens in the writing aspect. One time, I did half wake up thinking I should write down some random piece of thought, but I couldn't see what I was doing. I guess I was too asleep to think to turn on the light.

Last night, I woke myself up with profoundities and determined to record these gems of thought before they slipped away. I did manage to get the light and find a pen. Odd thing is, in the morning, none of it made any sense.

Maybe it works for some--I think I'll stick to writing when I'm awake.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Twenty-five pages between myself and the conclusion of the book. I've raced through the climax, rising and falling with the intended emotions. The antagonist still lives, but I am confident his fate is settled.

All that remains is the explanation. It is the point of no return in a book. It is the downward slope from here to the end that will only accelerate, gaining momentum until the final word.

This is the revealing in which the characters fianlly learn the why and how, the moment that finally uncovers the story behind the story that has kept the reader intrigued since about page 50.

Twenty-five pages remain, and I am already two minutes late for work. I cannot justify taking a moment more. I am condemned to a few hours of agony.

Many years back, I picked up a book that facinated me. It was a mystery, some sort of library reject I had picked up for a quarter. I came to the end only to discover the last chapter and a half had been torn from the spine. I was cut off mid sentense, left in a dreadful suspence that was never satisfied. Title and author have been lost to time, but I cannot forget the settled unknowing.

Kind of an odd time in life. Feels like I'm suspended in that point twenty-five pages from the end. I've passed through all the elements of a story, seen the conflict, the rise of the climax, observed the character changes. I've stood face to face with the enemy. He still lives, but his demise is decided. I've endured the sacrifices, but can safely assume the outcome.

All that remains is the revealing. All I need to know now is the why--why the events transpired as they did, how good is to be rewarded, how evil will be destroyed.

And what if God decides never to tell? What if like a that childhood memory, I never know the final chapter? Perhaps through indefinite agony, all that remains is to trust God's sovereignty.

Friday, July 27, 2007


I crave purpose.
I want to do something
to be something
to mean something.

I want to rise to the expetations others have imagined for me
To recieve the nod of approval, acceptance
And to know somehow it's enough.

I want to look back on previous years without regret
And towards the future with anticipation.

I want to leave a legacy in flesh and bone.
I want to create a masterpiece that breathes.
I want to touch a life that in time will touch another and in so doing, fulfill a purpose that never dies.

Monday, April 23, 2007

You know you're a lifer when...

  • Three to four years doesn't seem like a long time to invest in a new degree
  • Your freshman roommates are now your professors
  • You know the people that the buildings were named for
  • Dinner conversation consists of first hand knowledge of how the rules have changed in the past decade
  • You wish you could get a t-shirt that reads "I'm from the pre-Radford era"
  • You don't rent out books anymore because they are four or five editions too old
  • You remember when CSR's were filled out by pencil on bubble forms every Monday
  • You can't imagine your life not broken into semesters
  • You've seen the same jokes in the Tantalizing Tidbits at least three times
  • You survived lice fest

Thursday, April 19, 2007

At war

Heart wringing, mind crushing, soul burning battle. The ceaseless war, ever fought, never won--hopeless, cruel. The mind and the heart at constant odds, unable to resolve their differences. And I caught in the middle, subject to both petty discrepancies and the full, lash out thirst for blood.

Heart, once nurtured, cease to feel. Your embrace, once gentle, begins to strangle. I suffocate. Mind, once pursued, cease your reason. Your thoughts, once stimulating, grow wearisome. I stagger beneath the weight.

Heart and mind, will neither win? Will you reach no resolution? Then at least release me from your tiresome charade. I want no part of either.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Purple Like Rap

  • There is a distinction between being unteacheable and standing firm in your convictions
  • Those who claim to be openminded tend to be closeminded towards those they percieve as closeminded
  • Arguing seldom solves an arguement
  • Everyone judges; if they do not judge, they will judge judgers
  • Correcting a wrong with an oposite extreme creates an equal wrong
  • No two minds can be completely agreed
  • There is absolutly no substitute for truth
  • A right can hide a lot of wrong just as certainly as a wrong can hide a lot of right
  • And yes, there is a real issue beneathe all the surface problems but who remembers it?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

There has to be something more

I know that God is omnipotent. Every time I heard the Jonah story in Sunday School, I heard the application that accompanied it: You can't hide from God. That's pretty amazing. My parents would tell me to think of the biggest thing I could possibly think of it, and my childish mind would stretch it's limits imagining huge oceans and cloud penetrating beanstalks, and they would say: God's even bigger than that. That's pretty amazing. The silly little song lyrics minimize it horribly: God can do anything but fail. But it's still pretty amazing. So now, thinking about it with an adult mind, is God really as big and powerful as we always said? If so (and of course I believe so), why aren't I tapping into that?

I was driving home the other day, my mind as it has been a lot lately, thinking about future plans, decisions, etc. And I asked myself the question: Do you really trust God? I was disturbed by the question. Of course I trust God. I was raised to trust God. I've trusted God a thousand times before. To be honest, trust has become so memorized, I don't know how to not trust God. But if I really had a concept of the enormity of God, would it be possible for me to worry? I'm missing something here.

I guess I've been distracted by trying to get God to fit the mold of my expectation. By wanting God to be present or absent at my convenience. By worshiping a God who is neatly packaged as the invisible motive for my good deeds.

But what if it's all true? What if God really is everything we always said and more. What if he is that big, that powerful, that amazing. What if it were more than just words and we actually believed it? Wouldn't that change something in the way we think, in the way we approach each day, maybe even in our churches?

I guess I'm tired of being satisfied with a God who is nothing more than the figurehead of my faith.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Chicken Tenders

I think I may have made a vegetarian out of Jared.

So I was helping him pan up chicken for tomorrow's dinner, and I honestly wasn't expecting him to turn white at the first sight of blood followed by varying shades of green. Well leave it to me to take a bad situation and make it worse. I began entertaining him with all my chicken stories. I must say, I was proud of him. He finished the job without passing out, though the faces he made were classic.

When I lived in Africa, we raised our own chickens. A rooster crowing at 3 a.m. is a good excuse for a chicken dinner the following day and my brother and I often volunteered to see to the task. I don't mean to be morbid, but in Africa, there's not a lot to do. You quickly learn to create your own amusements. After chasing down the chicken of choice, we tied it upside-down by its feet and hung it from a tree. You know, if you don't tie down the wings, the thing will fly in circles upside down? We claimed this was to make the process of removing the feathers easier later. Then as humanly as possible, we would remove the head from the rest of the body. The next part is important. If you cut it down quickly enough, you've got about ten minutes to chase the headless bird around before it keels over. What can I say? I was ten, and I was bored.

That was about as far as I got with Jared before I knew he couldn't handle anymore. He swears he'll never eat chicken again.

Ah, the memories...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Can we dance?

I stepped into the sanctuary where ceilings rose in majesty, each upward glance increasing in splendor, the golden filigree accentuating every curve, every graceful adornment. Tall narrow windows rose from marble floor to painted ceiling filling the room with the breathless intertwining of light and color.

I stood in the center of the sanctuary, inhaling the beauty surrounding me, and as the evening progressed, I dared to ask the question that had been on my mind all night.

Can we dance?

From somewhere music began to play. From across the room of from within my mind, I cannot tell. Yet I know he also heard it. Angelic refrains joined a rhythm of pure, holy passion. I moved in closer to the one I loved.

And we danced.

As he swept me around the room, he whispered promises in my ear. Promises that stretched the span of time. Promises that came true even before he had finished speaking them. He spoke the words—I love you. And they were not a careless sentiment. The words enveloped the very essence of truth and I knew it was so.

As he took me in his arms, I loved him. As he held me by the hand, I trusted him. As he led me round the room, I followed him. As we danced.

God, can we dance?

Friday, January 26, 2007

John 6

verse 2--And a large crowd was following Him, because they saw the signs that He was doing.

The Lord is my Shepherd.

verse 9--There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?

I shall not want.

verse 10--Jesus said, "Have the people sit down," Now there was much grass in the place.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.

verse 18--The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.

He leadeth me beside the still waters.

verse 20--But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."

He restoreth my soul.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

That which is hidden

This post began as a discussion with RuthAnn and continued in my mind and finally worked its way here. I'm still sorting it out. Clearly haven't come to anything ultra-conclusive.

Question: Do people really have a hidden side that no one knows about? Or do observers really have the ability to see through supposed facades and secrets that were thought hidden. Granted, everyone has secrets, and granted some people are more perceptive than others. But is it possible to have a side that is known only to the individual and kept completely hidden from the rest of the world?

I'm not just referring to specific events or experiences. Yes, these things do leave an impact on who we are, but they do not define who we are. And of course the details of experience can definitely be kept hidden. I'm talking about having actual aspects of personality that people don't know about.

However, not to take this to an extreme, I do think there are individuals who are convinced that deep down they are someone completely different--i.e. smarter, braver, kinder, more adventuresome. In reality, this identity exist only in the mind and they have never responded accordingly.

Honestly, I think it comes down to a choice. As individuals, we decide how much to open up, how far to let people see in. As observers, we choose how much we will see, how perceptive we'll be, and when to just turn a blind eye and be oblivious.

So, although I first agreed that people don't have a hidden side, that others are more aware of the hidden "us" than we like to think, the more I think on it, the more I think I disagree. I think it's possible to keep a part of self (not just experiences, but actual personality and character) completely hidden.

I'm begging to be proven wrong, so if anyone has an opinion, have at it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

What's the word?

Okay, since there are a handful of word lovers who read my blog, maybe one of you can help me. What is the word that you would use to describe the incorrect use of a thesaurus. It's what every English teacher dreads while grading papers and the reason I was banned for a time from using a thesauus. It's some kind of an 'ism,' and I cannot for the life of me remember the word.

Friday, January 12, 2007


I am baffled when I consider the love of God. Words like steadfast, unconditional, and sacrificial are beyond my comprehension. If our understanding of God's love comes from the experiential knowledge of what we share among ourselves, then none of us can hope to understand. Our human view is imperfect. It falls short.

After all, what is it that every individual longs for, the things in fact that he believes are his deserved right?
  • He wants to be understood
  • He wants to be loved
  • He wants to have something he can trust

Unconditional love, in its purest form, is a willingness to love without being understood. I was thinking about how that desire to be understood is something every single one of us shares, and I had to wonder is there is a single person who is understood. Unconditional love wipes out the what if's--what if I am not understood? What is my love is not returned. What if it's misinterpreted and abused? It was both anguish and comfort to my heart to read John 13 and see that Christ was not understood. Seated in the center of his dearest friends, his most intimate followers, he spoke, but they didn't have a clue what he was saying.

And yet He loved them, knowing they would not-could not understand his love, knowing they could never return his love. That's unconditional.

Steadfast love, in its truest sense, is the determination to love without being loved in return. It's the reciprocation of love that makes love easy that makes it continue indefinitely. But to be steadfast in a love that is not shared? We love the socially accepted, yet He loved the Samaritan. We love those who treat us kindly, yet He loved the Roman soldier. We don't love that way.

And yet he did. In thousands of examples, he loved the very people who despised Him. He continues to. That's steadfast.

Sacrificial love, at its highest point, is a purposeful decision to love someone you do not trust. It has to be a conscious decision; it certainly does not come naturally. I'm trying to think if there is someone who I can say I love even though I do not trust. I don't know if I want to be that honest here. I can tolerate people I don't trust. I can avoid them. I can work along side them, keeping my heart distant. But love them?

And yet, my Jesus did. Knowing he would be rejected, denied, and betrayed, he loved them. That's sacrificial.

I wish I could understand His love so that I would know how to love others. I wish I could understand so that I would know how to love Him.