September 30, 2007

putting flesh on the bones of my dreams

As the bell must strike the hour
as the west must stab the sun
so our hearts
must heed the flow
of deeper tides that run
far beyond the bare indifference
that prosperity esteems
where the spirit
raves and dances
through our very veins

At winters edge you found me
by the fields of wild gold
my hands still filled with ashes
from fires long cold
you pulled me from the wreckage
of bitterness and blame
flung open the page
and put some flesh on
the bones of my dreams

On the streets
the blossom snowing
and the drum is beating slow
and I hear you speak so clear
well I’m slicing through the fear
setting all the beacons
blazing, baby oh!
it's staring out plainer than ever
brighter than all the fools
gold that gleams
it's simply now or never
putting flesh on the bones
of my dreams

Putting flesh on the bones
of my dreams
putting flesh on the bones
of my dreams

And they can plunder
the cave of sorrows
they can strip the gallery bare
try to build a fence
around the visions
in our heads, choke every spark
in a cloak of despair
but we got something
they can't stifle
with their price tags
and picture frames
got a flower for every rifle
putting flesh on the bones of my dreams

-Lyrics of David Gray's "Flesh"

September 28, 2007


Even when I was young, I didn't like the concept of luck. When people wished me "Good Luck" I felt like it cheapened things. Did people really believe that they won a game of cards because of luck? Or that 'the forces of the universe' worked in their favor because they performed a good luck ritual? I always was intentional about pointing out how my Friday the 13th was an especially good day.
Isn't it ironic that I now live in a culture obsessed with luck? Hotels and highrises completely eliminate the 4th and 14th floors of their buildings because it's bad luck. Cell phones numbers with the numbers 4 and 14 are significantly cheaper. The number 8 however is extremely lucky. It's not surprising that the Olympic games will be 08-08-08 in Beijing. Bring on the luck!
The other day I was helping a friend barter for a purse she really wanted. I don't want to brag, but I've become well known for my bargaining skills. Anyway, she had gotten the storekeeper down to 80 yuan ($10) for a knock-off purse. His sales tactic was "It's good luck!" Nice try. I told him, "I'll risk the bad luck and pay 40". Everyone got a good laugh and we ended somewhere in the low 50's.
Today, when I got home I started to think about my life. I thought about the joy I have in my job this year and how undeserving I am. Shaking my head I thought, "I'm just so... so.. lucky.. ugh.. fortunate..ugh" The truth is, no word fit into that sentence. I don't deserve this, and that's the point. I haven't made any 'universe' happy. I haven't become the recipient of good karma. I'm a child of a great Dad, and he gives me gifts that I don't deserve. And that is the point.

September 26, 2007

A Year in Pictures

I'm definitely not a photographer, but I've enjoyed documenting this past year in Asia. The link to the Flickr photoset is below. Your comments are welcome.

Click here

September 19, 2007

stream of consciousness

i need to lesson plan for tomorrow, still haven't even looked at unit two yet. windsor pilates, my core is sore. need to water this ikea plant, i wonder if it'll make it all year. this is a great song, i never get sick of third day. hmmm. can't believe i still haven't seen them in concert. are they even still a band? will i ever get the chance? i heard they put on a good show. i need to get a new visa, so that i can apply for olympics tickets. priority? opening ceremony and swimming finals. the swimming facility looks like a big ice cube, that'll be interesting to see in person. i hope cori's having an amazing time right now in india. shoot, i need to find a stellar hong kong hostel for us. showing her and teeny around china will be so much fun. i need to figure out the subway system before then too. i have a lot to do, and it starts with the lesson plan. now.

September 14, 2007

and it hit me...

there are moments, brief moments, that i forget i live here. when i forget that my closest family member is a 12 hour plane ride away, that my dinner options are noodles or rice, or that i live in a country that i have a 3 year-old's proficiency in the language. those moments are usually snapped back to reality pretty quickly.

my grandfather loved the outdoors. my memories of him are in his suspenders, tending his prized garden, sweating, and telling me stories that i'd heard before. summers in kerman could reach the upper 110's and that made for a sweaty and therefore smelly guy. i learned last year that when it comes to our memory, smell is more powerful than all the other senses combined. the point of this is coming soon.

the other day i got onto a crowded bus headed to beijing. i put my ipod in and settled in for the 80 minute bus ride. with "meet virginia" in my ears-i closed my eyes. i had tuned out sight and sound, but i couldn't stop the smell that filled my nasal cavity. it was what grandpa smelled like before he jumped in the pool to cool off. frankly, it was the smell of body odor. chinese people don't wear deodorant, but they also don't have b.o. i couldn't help it, i had to open my eyes and figure out the source. i looked around and in the very back of the bus spotted 3 hippie americans. how did i know they were americans? all i had to do was pause my song for a couple seconds and their loud voices filled the bus. they had just climbed "mu tian yu"- the famous great wall site right by my house. ten rows up i heard all about it. how is it that i smelled an american before i saw him? that's amazing. it hit me, i live here, i'm not a tourist.

the other moment was today. i was headed to work- left the apartment on time, went down the stairwell, and as soon as i stepped outside realized that the rain had really picked up. i usually ride my bike the two miles to work. the dilemma did not lie in- should i take a taxi or not? that part was clear. i should- i was in a skirt, our dirt road had turned to mud with small lakes. the question was- could i pull it off? could i successfully communicate to a taxi driver where i wanted to go? and to be honest, i froze. i stood in the rain without an umbrella for a good minute running through the scenario... and the vocabulary. and it hit me, i live here, i really need to learn the language.

the more i write this out the more examples i can think of. last one.. because it's funny. yesterday i went for a business meeting at dove chocolate. when i got inside i saw the factory. everyone was in white jumpsuits and it was all very white and organized. chocolate bars rolled down the conveyor belt... i started playing 'umpa lumpa' in my head. you would too, trust me. anyway, after our meeting was over i made a reference to "Willy Wonka and the Choc...olate....Fac... tory." Blank stares from 7 identically dressed white jump-suited, middle-aged, chinese guys. the comedy of it all was too much to take. i started to laugh and no one laughed with me. and it hit me, i live here, and sometimes my jokes hit cultural walls. those jokes are never worth explaining, it's better to just laugh alone.

and just when i thought my candle-lit blog gave me some escapism, the man who lives on the other side of this wall just hawked a big loogie...the same ones that fall at my feet almost daily in the city. another reminder that i definitely live here. and i've learned to like it. hmmm, goodnight.

September 10, 2007

unforced rhythms of grace

"Are you tired? Worn out? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
-The Message (Matt. 11)

September 4, 2007

Noodles of the World

On the plane I sat next to a Mexican dentist named Cristina. She's visiting China for the first time. She said she loved Europe and I told her I'd never been. On the plane they served us instant noodles and she leaned over and almost secretly told me that in Italy they put noodles with tomatoes and call it 'spah-hetti'. With raised eyebrows and nodding of the head she said, "itz bedi goud". I didn't have the heart to tell her that I knew. I just looked down at my chow mein and said, "Huh, with tomatoes..."

(All that to say- I'm back, safe, and waking up at 5am every morning.)