Saturday, November 27, 2010

It's Kind of a Funny Story

So tonight my family and I saw this film. It's about a teenage boy who checks himself into a mental hospital. And, for anyone who has ever felt like doing this (read: probably everyone who has been in high school or college in the past ten years), I think it might be very cathartic. It's the kind of film that makes one laugh as much with joy as with humor; and the kind of film where bits of it run through one's mind for hours, maybe days afterwards. This is the kind of film that has the potential to change one's life. It's the kind of film that makes life seem far more liveable, and survivable. The kind of film that makes living and surviving seem worth it. If you get the chance, see it.


This year I wasn't even sure I should do National Novel Writing Month. And, what with being a senior, having four organizations to run or help run, a show to rehearse, grad schools to apply for, and umpteen other activities and commitments, I was not at all sure I would be able to finish my 50,000 words.

However, stubbornness will always triumph over common sense. Last night I passed the finish line plus twenty-five words. Usually in the past my November novels have ended at a little over 50k, which was helpful, or at a little under, which was not and required me to B.S. a prologue and/or an epilogue. However, this year's novel is looking to be about 75,000 words long, at least. It has three parts, and I have written part 1 and most of part 2. I shall attempt to at least finish the second part in the couple days of November remaining. I intend to finish the third part, as soon as possible, still writing NaNo-style (that is, as fast as possible and not worrying overmuch if at all about quality). I need to get this story out of my head. It will bother me until I do.

What with the various school projects coming due, followed closely by finals, and all the responsibilities I've been putting off until December (the bulk of those pesky grad school apps, for example), I'm not sure when I'll be able to finish that third part. Hopefully over Christmas break, if nothing else.

At least a couple people have already made me promise to send them the novel. Those of you who want to see it should let me know, one way or another, and also tell me if you want to immediately see the 2/3rds that are written, or wait until the whole thing is done and get it all at once. (That last is a very respectable choice; however, be advised that there's a very distinct possibility that waiting for me to finish the book MAY mean waiting LITERALLY FOREVER.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

On Snow

It snowed last night. A group of friends and I went out and had a snowball fight. This morning I woke and it was still snowing. Rarely for me, I woke before 1 PM on a Saturday, because I had to return three DVDs to the library before the library opened in order to avoid fines. (They were due on Friday, but if one returns things before the library opens, those things are checked in as if it were the day before.) The saving of $3 was enough to make the Scotsman in me wake up; the rest of me was then grateful to that old stingy Calvinist because, to his defeat, I found myself walking through the most beautiful metaphor for baptism I can think of.

What better way of picturing baptism than to go to bed while the world is drab and dreary, dark and depressing, only to wake up to a world washed in purest white? I don't think I will ever be able to use new snow as a symbol for anything negative. Today I saw some possible consequences of so much snow so suddenly: a squirrel struggling to survive, the bowing down of trees, cars sliding around or stuck, the breaking of branches and their blockade of walkways and the obstacles they offered to the walker. Still, snow makes me think only of hope, and purity, and love; of benediction and renewal and grace. A sudden snow is an invasion of beauty from beyond the fields we know. Looking up at the arch of trees as they bow before the onslaught of white dust, seeing the flakes trickle from the sky, shimmering and glistening and soft, I can think only of heaven, of beauties beyond our ability to comprehend.

I will never understand the beauty of black and white images so well as when I look up into the snow-tossed air and see, against a sky of grey and a fluttering snow carpet of pure white, the stark black forms of a horde of crows flying out against the sky, crying in protest against this sudden change in their world.

I walked down to the river, which was not yet frozen, and I stared out across the heaving water and the snow coming down, stared in each direction as far as I could see. It was not far; the river seemed to have no beginning, no ending. And no matter how far we can see, I thought, still the world has no beginning and no ending, none that we can know. Could we know everything from the moment of creation to the end of the world, still all we would be able to see is a segment of river, disjointed and almost nonsensical, and all that would be left for us to do would be to trust the One who made it.

Walking back, I discovered that there are few feelings more integral than coming upon people in distress and helping them. I helped push and dig at least two or three cars out of predicaments, stuck at intersections or in driveways.

The Mumford and Sons song "After the Storm" was stuck in my head already, but today it seemed very appropriate:

I will die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I'll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and mine so small.
Well I'm scared of what's behind and what's before.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

I was reminded, further, of the TSO song "The Wisdom of Snow," which is an instrumental piece but whose title carries with it all the meaning of a full song. And, in the narration associated with the song:

So on this night of Christmas eve
As once again the spirits weave
Its snowswept dreams and colored lights
With bits of magic into each life

And as the snow comes gently down
Its sole intent to reach the ground
To cover scars the world still feels
Perhaps to give them time to heal

For as men invest in money
And professors in what they know
God invests in mercy
Like winter invests in snow

I thought, finally, of a verse from another TSO song, "What Child is This?", a verse I always think of at least once during Christmas, and at least once during Easter:

Tell me how many times can this story be told
After all of these years it should all sound so old
Yet it somehow rings true in the back of my mind
As I search for a dream that words can no longer define

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Every time I am with a group of people for a while, even--especially--if it's a group of people I like, there comes a point when everybody is gone and I realize that I'm alone and just HOW alone we all are. The fact that I can't shake existential crap like this is probably why I'm an introvert. While I object to Eastern religions and Transcendentalism for their views of ultimate reality, and while I reject Thoreau because he was an idiot, all of those folks do have a worthwhile point when they talk about self-knowledge. We are the only mortals we can be certain will be around for our entire lives, so it were possibly best to get comfortable with ourselves as much and as soon as possible.