Due to a miscommunication, you didn’t get any tea on Friday afternoon so it’s coming at you late but heartfelt.
I have 5 sisters and three of them live very close to me. We rarely see each other and usually only for major events & holidays. So one of my sisters recently called to discuss the possibility of a monthly gathering of sisters. As I discuss it with each of my other sisters it’s interesting to see the differences in what each of us imagines it will be. I imagine a monthly tea involving teas, some nibbles, and the younger children. One of my sisters imagines a meal, potluck, with the food groups brought by a complicated rotation of sisters (based upon how far they’ve driven & whether they’re hosting). But in talking to her (and realizing the presence of children that her presence would imply) I remembered a family tradition: Chris Tea.
When my mother & one of her sisters lived close to each other, they would meet frequently for tea. When my aunt’s eldest got to be old enough, he began to demand that he be included in said tea. Not wanting to fill him up with caffeine, Chris Tea was invented, after the child who first drank it. Eventually, all of us kids ended up enjoying Chris Tea, even long after we were able to make it ourselves. Sometimes it was accompanied by Graham Crackers and I was well into adolescence before I realized that these were not named after Chris’ brother Graham…
So in honor of Chris, in honor of his mother & mine, and in honor of the next generation of Chris Tea drinkers here is my family’s recipe for Chris Tea:
a cupful of recently boiled water, cooled slightly
milk, to further cool the water
sugar to taste
serve in a suitably fancy-but-not-too-fragile cup with a side of Graham Crackers
When I was in high school, if I wanted to do anything on a Sunday (missing church), I’d have to go to Saturday evening mass. Since the English Community only had one service a week, and since it was 50k away, I’d walk down to the local Catholic Church and sit in the way back (eventually it did occur to me that I didn’t have to go there, just be gone for the right general amount of time, but I still usually hung out around there). I found it much easier to tune out mass in German, so I often spent the hour or so thinking Deep Thoughts. One of the major Deep Thoughts was of chaos & order.
By this time in my spiritual life, I was quite well versed in Classical myths (Roman & Greek) and fairly well versed in other European (Norse & Irish) and some Shamanic traditions (Egyptian & American). I knew I wasn’t Catholic, but I didn’t really know what I was. Chaos, in the Greek myths, is how the universe began. Upon it, order was imposed & it became the Cosmos.
I always felt (and still feel), that Chaos still has quite a hold on the world in general. When sitting in the last possible pew, I would look at the orderly church: rows upon rows of pews set just the right amount apart. And then humanity would trickle in through the doors and seat themselves willy-nilly. Chaos imposing itself back upon Order.
I see this often when I look around. There is order. And there is Chaos. And they exist in less of a matter/anti-matter state, where one destroys the other, but in an almost agreeable discord. Like a violin with one string out of tune.
I love this. I love seeing order being swept away, covered, or dismembered by Chaos. Sometimes I think my life as too much order; although I never wish for Chaos, when it comes, it brings a necessary balance. Maybe it’s because I’m so anal retentive that the slightest disordered item stands out as though it’s neon, but I cannot abide a situation in which Chaos came only briefly.
I’m a dualist in many senses of that word, but it’s chaos and order that really bring it home to me.
I only have a few minutes online–this week has been crazy with work, flying, driving, family reunions, conferences, etc. I’m even trying to fit in some “rest.” While it’s been difficult to be offline, it’s been wonderful to spend time with people I know primarily through blogging. You can skip straight down to the prayer if you want.
- Lunch and conversation with John Dehlin (of Mormon Stories fame) and his family. The real stars were his wife and his two oldest children. I’d like to adopt the three of them as my spiritual mentors.
- Unfortunately, I was under the influence of medication when I got a chance to talk to fMhLisa (one of my heroes!), so was not my usual brilliant and articulate self. In fact, I may have come across as one of those guys who talk feminism to pick up hot feminist women.
- It was very, very cool to meet one of my favorite Mormon feminist bloggers, Lynette of Zelophehad’s Daughters.
- BiV, in particular, is every bit as direct and insightful as she is on her blog.
- There were many other good people, and I’m sorry that I don’t have the time to mention each by (screen)name. I can say this much: one of the great things about being part of a blogging community is that you already have a foundation to build on when you meet a fellow blogger in person.
I don’t want to bore you all with my weekend cavorting, so I’ll just leave you with this prayer (which I discovered in my research of Religion + Internet):
Who art On-Line,
High be thy clearance level.
Thy System up,
Thy Program executed
Off-line as it is on-line.
Give us this logon our database,
And allow our rants,
As we allow those who flame against us.
And do not access us to garbage,
But deliver us from outage.
For thine is the System and the Software
and the Password forever.
by Scarborough, Bill. “The Cyberpunk’s Prayer.” Qtd. in O’Leary and Brasher, 264
My flight home from Salt Lake City was delayed by “computer problems.” We boarded almost an hour after the original departure time. As we bumped across the tarmac, the Captain tried to reassure us in his friendly Texas accent:
We rely entirely on computers, and just like when your computer has problems, we just had to reboot a couple of times.
I did not find this very comforting.
Nevertheless, I was not afraid. This is in contrast with the moderate fear of flying I’ve had for the past decade or so. As I write this (for posting later), the plane is descending over San Bernadino and we’re experiencing the mild turbulence that always accompanies the penetration of the cloud layer.
While I realize the practical benefits of throwing away my tube of toothpaste and for disrobing for the TSA, I’m sometimes baffled by how hard we try to foster an environment of fear. Every time we take off our shoes, every time we submit to a pat-down, somewhere a terrorist is laughing. Remember that the primary product of terror-ists is fear, not death.
I’m glad that I seem to have overcome my fear of traveling in faulty tin cans some seven miles above the surface of the planet. I see this as hopeful progress; I’d like to eventually overcome my fear of death, of loss, of failure, of the opinion of others.
After I posted eight (not really) random facts about myself, some of you inquired about how I burned the bathtub. Mel was the only one who mentioned the kitten affair, and I’m glad he did. Kitten-killing is like the international sign of E-vil, a universal metaphor for maleficence that ranks up there with demons, Nazis and Rush Limbaugh. Speaking of which, I’m glad that I’m in such good company. I have been off Limbaugh for at least thirteen years now.
What prompts a four or five year old child to drop a big rock on a wee, cuddly creature? I mean, that’s seriously fucked up. I still ask myself this. I remember thinking about it, and carrying the rock over–it required some effort. Thankfully, that’s where my memory of the incident ends.
Forty years today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously against state anti-miscegenation laws. I’m too tired to analyze this right now, but I wanted to acknowledge that I’m the child of a mixed-race marriage, and though I rarely think of it in this way, I guess you could say I’m in a mixed-race marriage myself. I’m curious–how many of you are of mixed race or are married to someone of a different race?
I’ve always felt pride in my mix of Asiany-White goodness. In general celebration, I’m linking to this music video that is a collaboration between white gaijin musicians in Japan and Japanese shamisen players. It’s hard to go wrong with rock shamisen and fox-magic.
Jana’s helping me to carve out a little study nook in our crowded living room. Above my narrow desk is a 30 by 40 inch metal bulletin board that now has the writer’s advice sheet that about a dozen of my favorite authors have signed. I plan to add photos of heroes and virtual mentors and exemplars (these make me feel inspired), pictures with funky art or favorite colors (these make me feel creative) and motivational quotes/poems (I tend to ignore these after reading them the first 50 times or so). I might put a picture of a man with great abs (so that I can feel depressed). I’ll post a picture after we’ve fleshed out the work area.
You all strike me as highly motivated, goal-oriented types. What exercises or external aids do you use to motivate yourselves and to keep moving towards distant goals?
Not too much to say tonight. Now that my semester is over, I began my summer French cuisine experiment. I cooked with fava beans for the first time, making a scrumptious frittata and a green bean salad. I’m trying to balance my desire to cook French with Jana’s mission to source most of our food as close to home as possible. We bought the two different varieties of beans directly from local farmers, and I included mint from Jana’s garden in the frittata. Even GameBoy praised the veggie-dominated meal. I’ve spent so much of my life trying smother the natural flavors of the earth–it was an epiphany to actually enjoy the texture of the fava beans, the richness of the manchego cheese (imported from sheep in Spain, so not local, but worth it), and the subtle aftertaste of the mint.
I scaled my commitments down last week to recover from end of the semester burn-out, but now I’m looking forward to returning to Bury the Chains and to my fiction writing. Now that I’ve switched web hosting providers, I’m antsy to podcast again. (Jana too!) I plan to record my next piece of fiction, a tale of a forbidden love between a Mormon missionary and an English teacher in Japan (with just a hint of magical realism). This story won a little contest at UCI a few years back, so at least a couple of people liked it.
Tired now. More tomorrow!
I wish I could set a data mining algorithm on my thoughts for the past fifteen years and ferret out consistent themes. I could try to Google this blog, but Mind on Fire captures only 40% of that period, and not always with great depth or consistency. No matter. I’ve been cycling this problem through my soft gray computer for the past few weeks and have come up with this:
I am obsessed with power.
Today is my beloved’s birthday! (Some of you may know her better has ‘pilgrimgirl’)
Visit her site and shower her with happy thoughts!
Why have you decided to jettison the dream of being a professor instead of the IT/programming thing? Is it a question of finances? What has made the dream become “gangrenous”? What makes you think that becoming a journalist/author/lawyer is a better option?
In light of my ditching the professorial dream, it’s time for a personal inventory (I’m actually doing personal blogging for a change!). Here are a handful of my strong points:
- I like ideas. I’m pretty good at understanding, manipulating and synthesizing them.
- I’m pretty good with words. I’m an OK storyteller.
- I’m a decent problem-solver.
- I like people. People generally seem to like me.
- I’m passionate, sincere and idealistic.
- I’m a pretty good teacher. I’ve done everything from speeches at political rallies to sermons to academic lectures, and am usually well-received as long as I don’t have to speak extemporaneously.
- I’m not afraid of technology. I seem to thrive where people and tech meet.
- I’ve invested considerable time in the study of society, human behavior, religion, language, media and technology.
I’m not stellar in any one of these areas, but I think it’s the sum of all of these parts that make me interesting and competitive. So when I wanted to become a professor, what exactly was it that I wanted to do?
- become recognized and respected as an expert.
- have control over my schedule.
- hang out with intelligent, talented, creative people.
Here’s the premise for changing my career: it was these aspects that attracted me to the professorial profession. But there’s nothing that says I have to follow the restrictive academic career path to do the above for a living. I could become a journalist, an author, a lawyer, or Andrew Sullivan.
I’m going to spend some time thinking (out loud, of course) about avenues and subjects that I can pursue. Again, I appreciate any feedback you all have to offer.