Outside of this Starbucks, two men are sitting, shooting the breeze. They've provided me quite a bit of entertainment. For a while I couldn't see one of their faces because it was hidden past the other one's head. He was speaking, which I could only infer by the wildness in his hands as they gestured and made motions and acted things out. I watched them with a bit of fascination. He made a fist and acted like he was stuffing things into it. He demonstrated the length of his forearm. He made circles. He patted invisible heads. All the while I was imagining that he was God and was retelling the creation of the world and it made me laugh. Especially when he patted the heads. The other man has unruly white hair and is smoking. He has thick RayBan glasses. I'm pretending he was once a Pope. God is also wearing glasses, which I can see because he is sitting back in his chair now and they dialogue interchangably and flick their cigarrettes. I never figured him for a Cowboys' fan. He's wearing their hat.
This morning I finished reading Orlando while standing on the third step in the pool. What a whirlwind of ideas and drama and description! I don't know how to review it, yet. I just know that I couldn't have read it at a better time in my life. Love.
It's been a skip-between-books summer so far. Quite unlike me. The problem was in my choice to read Ulysses by James Joyce first. Can I say, "Not compelling"? The rambling streets of Dublin dialect and the wandering thoughts ARE GREAT, seriously, but they don't exactly entice me to pick the book up in my every spare second. It isn't a difficult read. It's just a monster.
So, I've been reading other things in the meantime . Before I jumped into Ulysses I reread Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in anticipation of the movie's July release which makes me squeal every time I think about it.
Then I happened upon a five dollar copy of Skinny Bitch at, yes, Books-A-Million, which upon completion had me completely convinced that to not be vegan was to be near evil, doomed to develop cancer, and cursed to lead a fat, fat, life. Buyers of this book beware! It is no glam diet and health book, it is vegan seduction! Thankfully, the emotions wore down to a nub, and I have settled on stocking my kitchen with vegan versions of all of my staples: milk, butter, chorizo (haha, only half kidding), sugar, oil and commited to buy as much organic produce as I can afford. I'm eating way more fruits and veggies, reading the labels of food before I buy them, and am almost completely eradicating meat from my diet (at least when I'm at home, which is often), and drinking so much more water. I do have a drink with my dinner almost every night, usually a red wine or Mexican beer, but I'm listening to my body a lot more when it says, "I'm thirsty! Parched, even! Give me a gulp of water!" It actually makes having a glass of wine much more enjoyable and longer lasting when I am alternating sips of water. Yum. It's not a complete lifestyle overhaul, but it is a change for the better.
Also, I'm reading The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark. Dr. Naugle gave this to me as a graduation gift. It's even signed with a note to me by the author! So neat! Whenever I read a particularly cool passage I flip to the front where the note is and think: "Wow! He's heard of my "work"! He's so cool!"
Here and there I read or reread pieces of Walden. The connection is simple. He was alone. I am alone. His life is beautiful. I want my life to be beautiful. If you have never read Walden, your life is not as rich as it could and should be.
Today I decided to crack open another one of my "Novel Summer" goals: Orlando, by Virginia Woolf. How have my eyes never before traced the lines of her witty prose? I am in love. Deeply, deeply in love.
Debateably worth mentioning: The New York Times and I have become friends, on the weekdays.
Finally, much to the relief of my spirit, the BCP and one of the gospels and I have resumed our morning meetings.
Tonight my adventure ended right where my new one has begun, Waco. I took a trip last week to catch up with old friends in the Hill Country, both in Austin and in Burnet. Magnificent trip, really! Wading in Barton Springs! Paddling a boat in Lake Buchanan! Tonight I took a drive down Highway 29, and was reminded of how I once knew it so well, spotting the places I'd pull over to watch the stars and what was once a coffee shop that made me feel at ease. After I hit 35, the sunset in the West guided me back home.
I wrote a journal entry there that I have decided to share with you. Enjoy.
I'm in Burnet. My expectations were wrong and now I'm paying the price. I'm sad. I wanted to see what was the same and go to my favorite places as if all of my memories are still tucked within them rather than hidden in me. I should have braced myself for what's different, what's changed. But I didn't do that. So now I'm sad that Kiri's (a coffee shop) is gone. The man from the Knife store was out front as I walked up so happily with my books in one hand and he shook his head at me as I stuck out my bottom lip, the prospect of walking back into one my homes completely and utterly terminated. "For lease" was written in loopy cursive on the glass storefront. The man said it had been closed since January. Regretfully, now I am just caught in nostalgia about the hours spent there and the open mic nights that truly blessed me.
The Riverwalk still makes me happy though. It is just as peaceful as I left it. Green grass, a breeze through the leaves of these huge, old trees, the sound of the fountains of water, and the golden glints of sunlight hitting the ripples of water in the creek. (Here's where I must have forgotten my treasured descriptive words!) Tonight a movie will be shown here and the town will fill the lawn with blankets, children, and popcorn.
It turns out that a lot of my girls didn't fare so well after I left. It was both disappointing and not surprising.
I wonder if I have too quickly gotten tied down. Yet, I love what I'm tied down to, and it is my heart that is bound, the most voluntary thing, which means that I want to be tied to that which my heart clings. I just want to accomplish at least part of that for which I have the potential. It often seems like there aren't enough lifetimes for what I want to see, accomplish, do, and live.
People ask me "Why Waco?" But a year ago they asked "Why Michigan?" Three years ago it was "Why Burnet?" and four years ago "Why DBU?" but in every experience I've undergone remarkable growth, been happy with my choices, and enjoyed my life. Everywhere, people have fascinated me and I've loved hearing their stories and getting involved in their lives and communities. I haven't ever felt geographically out of the will of God. He leads me ever to green pastures, not to glamourous ones.
Today I sat down and chatted with two of the most important and charming people I met in my Burnet adventure. Alisha is now the age I was when I moved there. It isn't like I needed recognition but I asked her how she would like to move to a small town where she hardly knew anyone. She just laughed and shook her head and said she had been thinking about that, too. Now she can finally understand what I did and come close to thinking about how it felt, striking out on my own at 19. She asked me, "Were you scared?"
I thought about it for a few moments, trying to put myself back in that place in my heart and mind. "No. Not really," I said. "I was a little nervous, but I was more scared of what would happen to me if I didn't go. I knew it was what God wanted, so I didn't want to go out side of that. Plus, how could I miss such a great adventure?"
As it was then, may it now be.
This video is from last night.
This morning I began a relationship with The New York Times that I truly wish will be a long and happy one. Since my adventure in Waco does not include having a T.V. (or a microwave lol) and since the newspaper industry seems down for the count, I became a weekday subscriber (for 50% off the regular price!).
This morning my first paper arrived at my doorstep. How freakin' convenient!!!
One of the cover stories caught my attention immediately. It's entitled "Tough Challenges Face a Reshaper of Schools" and is about how Arne Duncan, the chief executive of Chicago public schools and Obama's education secretary gave over 12 schools a makeover by firing all of its faculty and staff, completely restaffing it and constructing new accountability programs that include every student, many parents, and everyone on staff there, including the cooks. All of these schools were failing. Now he wants to do the same with thousands of schools nationwide who are equally REJECTS.
Is this an effective method to improve public education? Do we have talented teachers and administrators just out there available to staff these re-try's? I'm not sure about all this, yet. BUT, one thing I'm glad of is that the decrepit American public school system is getting a ton of attention, and also 6 billion dollars in bailout money. Thank you, President Obama.
Many things are common sense. Many common sensical things are oft forgotten.
For instance, decisions. It seems like common sense that we cannot decide our futures in just one day. Yet, if this is so matter of fact, why do we feel the weight of the future in every decision so often during this time, our 20's? I do not forget that I am the sort of personality that feels anxiety about these things, especially prematurely. Some people are more successful at being chill. All I can say is that I'm trying to take things one moment at a time, to do an adequate amount of planning and preparing, and a moderate amount of kicking back and basking in the now.
We don't decide the rest of our lives in one day. Instead, it is everyday that we make decisions that shape the rest of our lives. Little by little, moment by moment, we carve out our place in the present and those little channels we dig lead us to the opportunities of tomorrow.
Today is for eating healthy food and reading good books. Tomorrow I will pick up where I left off. The next day is determined by the day before.
Many movies and books feature versions of this theme. Butterfly Effect, and that one with Nicholas Cage. But, oddly enough, the one that I think is on the right track is actually Click, because it was once the remote figured outt what Adam Sandler's character would do in certain situations, it just kept making those small decisions for him. It was the summation of those minute decisions that delivered unto him the most undesirable life. Something to keep in mind.