Thursday, September 29, 2005
As a kid, I never really cared for playing with dolls. Yes, I did have Donny and Marie dolls and insisted on having my room painted purple (and wore purple socks way too often). Yet, playing dolls just seemed boring to me. My younger brother, Jerry, didn't really have dolls either. He did have action figures - I remember He-Man specifically.
I thought I was very long past these things - until I was out shopping with my friend KK the other day (while she was visiting up in the area). I found a Jane Austen action figure. My favorite author! I have read each one of her novels - Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion. I have read P & P more than any of the others - it must be close to 20 times. And each time I have read it, I have discovered something else new and delightful. Each phrase and sentence is just perfect. Austen packs a whollop with every line! I have read Emma about 10 times. I have read the others at least twice each. The woman was just a writing genius. She could convey so much, so compactly, and with such clarity - it is amazing.
I recall one of my college classmates in our Victorian Lit class. Carita was really down on Austen. She blamed her for not dealing with problems in the larger world - for just sticking with domestic issues for genteel women. Yet, do not all the world's problems come down to human nature? And what writer has displayed a greater understanding of human nature and human interaction?
Some interesting facts on Austen (from my Jane Austen action figure!)
* born Dec 16, 1775; died July 18, 1817
* lived in England her whole life
* never married
* has had over 40 sequels to P & P written by other authors
I think I'll place my new action figure near the Cretan snake goddess in my office. Attired a little differently, yes, but both strong female images.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Saw a bumper sticker today - What Would Scooby Do? Apart from the musical implications, I wondered, "What would Scooby do?" I concluded that he would run and hide, and then find a bunch of food to inhale. All in all, not a bad strategy!
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Here is my favorite story from that time. I went into labor the Saturday of ACC Men's BBall tournament weekend (you North Carolinians know how serious that is). When Duke lost that afternoon, I was hoping, "Maybe this will send me into labor and we'll get this over with!" My wish was granted later that day.
Hubby and I arrived at the hospital about 4am. I had been in heavy labor for a number of hours and the doctor thought if things kept progressing, Sonny Boy would arrive by about 7-8am. (The other part of this story is that Sonny Boy, with his perfectly shaped, big head and shoulders - did not arrive until after 7pm - thus causing my husband to miss the ACC final - and no, I will never let Hubby forget that comment.)
My parents arrived at the hospital early Sunday morning, anxiously awaiting their first grandchild. My Granny and brother Jerry lived with them (Granny still does, but thankfully a woman came along to take Jerry off our hands :). I spent most of Sunday morning walking up and down the halls, through the waiting area, and just pausing for a contraction. Mom was in the waiting room and was very supportive. At some point Sunday morning, Granny and Jerry arrived. "I thought they were going to church," I told Mom. She shrugged, saying she thought the same. So - I continue walking around in pain, doing my own prayers ("Please God! Get this over with !!!")
Granny didn't speak to me - she just looked and then went to Mom (standing beside me) and said, "Jackie, give Amy some lipstick - she looks sick!" I gave my best outraged, evil eye, while Mom tried to get Granny to sit down and not say anything else that would make me bananas.
Seems like most good Southern women know that lipstick does cure most things.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Today, we are observing the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. We attended the Triad Area Families with Children from China meeting this evening(after attending the Asheville one for 8 years). We shared food, had crafts for all the children who were there, and then heard the story of the Moon Festival.
So for those of you interested - the story basically starts with a marriage in turmoil. An imperial guard with a magic bow and arrows, Hou Yi, married the beautiful daughter of the River God, a young woman named Chang E. Now these two were a pair - they both craved immortality. (Voldemort, anyone?) At this time in China, there were 10 suns. They would take turns giving light to the Earth - but one day, all 10 came out at once. The heat was unbearable, rivers drying up, people dying, etc. (global-warming, anyone?) So - Hou Yi was told to take his enchanted bow and shoot the extra 9 suns out. He was of course successful, and as a reward the Queen Mother of the Western Heavens gave him a pill for immortality - but told him he could only take it after 12 months of praying and fasting.
Hou Yi arrived home, hid the pill, and dealt with a ticked off and jealous wife. The next time he left to do an errand for the emperor, Chang E searched the hut, found the pill, and immediately popped it in her mouth. She started floating into the sky just as Hou Yi arrived home. Apparently, he could fly too - was pretty angry that she did what she did - and a chase throughout the heavens ensued.
Long and short of it - Chang E ended up at the moon and lives in a jade palace there. She eventually became the Moon Goddess. Hou Yi was able to become the Sun God at some point - they made up, and they visit once a month (when the moon is at its brightest). Tonight - Hou Yi and Chang E are having a visit, the moon is bright, and people are offering up prayers and thoughts to the beautiful Moon Goddess.
In China, they traditionally eat Moon Cakes on this day. We had some of those at FCC tonight - but being North Carolinians - we also celebrate with Moon Pies! (Moon Pies having originated in NC.) Nothing like cultural meshing!
Happy Moon Festival to all.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Karen is a campus minister (as I am). She has been from MS for many years, and just moved to Mobile last winter. I have been grateful for the emails she has sent out since Katrina hit - she knows so many people who have had their lives forever changed.
So in an email today she shared a story about a Catholic priest who has been getting supplies to a lot of the people in the Gulf region. He was at a University and was sharing at a service about the needs of those affected by Katrina. One thing he highlighted was the great need for shoes; so many people had lost everything and didn't even have shoes to wear. There were about 200 students at the service. At the end of the service, there were 200 pairs of shoes left at the church. The students all walked home barefoot.
What a wonderful story...
Monday, September 12, 2005
Well, the US Open finished yesterday. I think it may have been one of the best Opens I remember. So many good matches, unexpected wins, well deserved runs (way to go Kim Clijsters!)... And the men's final yesterday was just wonderful to behold. I wasn't an Andre Agassi fan 15 or 20 years ago. He was just far too flashy for me - guess the rebel image will never leave him. Yet, in the 20 years he has played professional tennis, he has matured into a thoughtful, articulate man who is a great ambassador for my favorite sport and also a great ambassador for those in need in the world. And yesterday, Agassi played my favorite man to watch - Roger Federer, the Maestro (as he is called).
I have never seen anyone play like Federer. It is an actual thing of beauty. I could just watch him play all day, every day. I was on retreat with my students at the beach this weekend and didn't know if I would be able to watch any tennis. Thankfully, we had cable and the time was available to see Federer in the semi-final on Saturday. My students graciously let me sit there, monopolizing the tv. One of the young women in my group, C, plopped down and announced she didn't know anything about tennis. I tried to explain some of the scoring, but it is a complicated system. It was at the time Federer and Hewitt were taking the court. Federer comes out, and C exclaimed, "He's hot!" I believe over the next hour or so of tennis, she became as much a Federer fan as I (although for different reasons). I am so glad that I can help young people discover the joys of tennis :)
I felt bad for Agassi yesterday - it would have been a great story if he had won. But to see Federer playing - I just have a hard time ever wanting to see him not play his best or not make his mark in the history books. It is truly a thing of beauty.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
5 things I can do -
1. cook well
2. tell you all about professional tennis
3. be a good friend
4. drive a stick shift (the only true way to drive)
5. kick behind in badmitton
5 things I can't do -
2. roller skate (sure did try when I was younger)
3. wear a mini-skirt and look really good (that was for pre-kids days)
4. listen to an entire song by Prince
5. listen to a sermon on the radio
5 things I see as attractive in the opposite sex
4. someone who knows how to have fun
5. someone who thinks I am the cat's meow
5 things I say the most -
1. "foremost" (that one is for you,Jerry)
2. "as I said previously" (for my husband and kids)
3. "well, I was thinking..."
4. "Caleb did this today..."
5. "Andy, please hurry and don't make me late!"
5 books that I love
1. The Once and Future King
2. Pride and Prejudice
3. East of Eden
4. all the Harry Potter books
5. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
5 things I plan to do before I die
1. visit Australia
2. visit Spain and Portugal
3. learn Spanish (probably before I do the second one!)
4. publish a book
5. live in a foreign country (which one changes yearly)
If you decide to do one of these, please leave a comment so I can check it out.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
As I have talked about previously, one of the ways I cope with difficult things in life is to find something positive, even hopefully redemptive. I know I'm not the only one who does this!
I am a major tennis fan. I LOVE tennis. I haven't been able to play all summer due to foot problems and the fact that I am spending at least two months in a stupid "boot," but I also feel I have no room to complain about an inconvenience. I have always tried to watch tennis whenever possible - thus, the need for cable tv. This past week it has been great to have the distraction of the US Open in Flushing Meadow, NY.
And what a great story yesterday. You see before you the picture of the wonderful James Blake. When James first broke on the scene a few years ago, I was impressed with his game - but more especially with his intelligence, demeanor, and eloquence. He spent a couple years at Harvard before leaving to make his way in professional tennis. His mom is a Caucasian woman from England, and his father was an African-American. James was climbing up in the ranks when he had a big match at the US Open a few years ago. He was playing against Lleyton Hewitt, the tenacious Aussie who was at the top of the men's ranking at that time. James was playing quite well - giving Lleyton a very tough and tight match. Some calls were not going Lleyton's way. At one point, Lleyton disagreed with a call and complained to the umpire about the linesperson who made the call. He even said, (paraphrased) "Can't you see the similarity between their color?" - implying that the black linesperson would of course call on James' behalf.
The tennis world erupted. Lleyton was quick to apologize (he did win the match), and Blake responded far more gracefully than most would have in his shoes.
A year ago in April, after falling in the rankings and struggling with his "mojo" (poor Andy Roddick as well), James was practicing with fellow American, Robby Ginepri, in Rome. James fell into a tennis post and fractured a vertebrae. He was out of the game indefinitely, possibly forever. As he began to recover, his father died after a short illness. James then acquired some kind of odd virus, even becoming paralyzed on one side of his face. That gorgeous smile of his didn't exist.
James gradually started to recover, and even to play tennis on a professional level again. It was miraculous that he could recover so well. In all his interviews, he has remained as articulate as ever. He says all the difficulty of last year helped him appreciate each day. He could remember not even being able to smile and wondering if he ever would again. Even a smile is a gift, he has said.
Even with the comeback, I and many others have assumed he wouldn't get too far. His game was off before the accident, I figured. Well, he has had the best summer of his life with his tennis. He won the last of the US Open warm-up tournaments. He has been playing great - the best ever. And one week into the two week Grand Slam event, he took out the number two player in the world (and one of the most on fire players in the world), Raphael Nadal. What a huge upset! Definitely the biggest win of his career.
Such a comeback. Such a thankful heart he has. So wonderful to hear a story that can make one smile.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Well, the flip side is that I can be just completely overwhelmed by some of the tragedies of this world. I remember the last church I served as a minister - and the terrible murder of a young single mom and her 5 year old son, considered by many the most vicious murder Asheville had seen. I couldn't sleep for days, in trying to be with the remaining family and loved ones in such inconsolable grief. It was beyond overwhelming. It was only the strength of God that got me through the gravesite service - especially since this little boy was the same age as my little boy. As soon as I got home from the service, I took off the black dress I had worn (one of my favorites) and gave it to my husband so that he could have it drycleaned and taken to a donation store. I knew I could never wear it again.
I remember not sleeping (or barely sleeping) with 9/11. I felt like I had to watch the news, so that I could better help the students and campus community where I was a minister. I just cried and cried - like so many others.
And the past few days - it just sounds like one of those sci-fi movies with the apocalyptic catastrophe and lawlessness reigning. To think of children being raped, people dying in the streets surrounded by filth, tens of thousands of people with no food or water begging for assistance, violent gangs roaming a city, fires out of control, homes ransacked and destroyed - and our government not responding as it should have.
I have to really temper when I listen to the news or if I even dare look at the pictures. I need to know - so that I can be an effective minister on my campus and with my students, so that I can be a good mother to help my children deal with this tragedy, and so that I can just be a better human being. I can't turn away from the needs of this world.
Those who know me know that I always look for redemption. One of the stories that gives me hope is the outpouring of money, needed supplies, volunteers and prayers and good wishes from the international community. The news keeps saying the after-effects of the hurricane are like a third-world country. Yes, there are countless people around the world who live like this everyday. And in our nice, cushioned land, we tend to forget that. I pray that we will appreciate the good-will of the international community and find ways to work better together as one planet. I pray that even with all our wealth and power, that we won't think we are better than those who suffer continually like those who are suffering on the Gulf Coast now. I pray that we will see ourselves as part of a global community, with all the implications therein.
In the words of the great Bob Marley - "One love, one world. Let's get together and be alright."
Thursday, September 01, 2005
I am very thankful my good buddy and fellow campus minister Karen, in Mobile, is fine. She just moved last year from Mississippi, so I know she is in the midst of feelings and concerns I just can't comprehend.
A little over a year ago, I was overjoyed that the Southeast Jurisdicition of the UMC elected its second woman bishop (so long overdue!). She is Hope Morgan Ward and had served in or around Raleigh, NC for a number of years. Hope is a very gifted and fantastic woman. For about a year now, she has been the new bishop of Mississippi. I have read her reports and comments on the UM newservice and feel that there could be no better person than Hope to help lead in recovery efforts. One piece of light in such a terrible situation...
Prayers will continue...