Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"Who Ever Said Life is Fair? Where's That Written?"

So, for about six weeks, I was on a bunch of supplements that were supposed to raise my blood pressure and thus relieve me of some of my fatigue. This sounded like a great idea to me. More energy? Yes please! I was excited and really wanted it to work.

My body, however, disagreed. One of the supplements was a natural SSRI--I wasn't on it for depression, but the way it interacted with my brain was . . . not good. It was doing all kind of wonky things with my emotions and my energy and pretty much my life. I was more miserable than I'd been in quite a long time. So, naturally, a week ago, we said goodbye to the supplements.

About then, I also developed a very bad cold. Right now, I feel better, but I have this nagging, persistent cough that makes it hard to sleep. So, in the grocery store tonight, I grabbed a cough suppressant. Good idea, right?

Apparently, not. The cough suppressant can't be taken within 2 weeks of any SSRI. I'm glad I caught it before I took it and developed serotonin syndrome and ended up in the hospital, but . . . really? After all this, you're going to make me live with a miserable cough, too?

It's always the tiny, little things that make me realize that life is not fair.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mainly Just a Poem, Now

I wrote a very nice post all about my plans to celebrate April as National Poetry Month. But, then, editing went crazy on blogger and it messed up the html or something, so now all I have is a bunch of code that means nothing. In that original post, I ended with a poem by my new-as-of-last-April favorite poet. (Not that the poet is new, just that she's newishly my favorite.) I'll post the other stuff tomorrow or soon, but--for tonight--I give you the poem.

The Mutes

Those groans men use

passing a woman on the street

or on the steps of the subway

to tell her she is a female

and their flesh knows it,

are they a sort of tune,

an ugly enough song, sung

by a bird with a slit tongue

but meant for music?

Or are they the muffled roaring

of deafmutes trapped in a building that is

slowly filling with smoke?

Perhaps both.

Such men most often

look as if groan were all they could do,

yet a woman, in spite of herself,

knows it's a tribute:

if she were lacking all grace

they'd pass her in silence:

so it's not only to say she's

a warm hole. It's a word

in grief-language, nothing to do with

primitive, not an ur-language;

language stricken, sickened, cast down

in decrepitude. She wants to

throw the tribute away, dis-

gusted, and can't,

it goes on buzzing in her ear,

it changes the pace of her walk,

the torn posters in echoing corridors

spell it out, it

quakes and gnashes as the train comes in.

Her pulse sullenly

had picked up speed,

but the cars slow down and

jar to a stop while her understanding

keeps on translating:

'Life after life after life goes by

without poetry,

without seemliness,

without love.'

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fighting for Joy

Be still my soul: thy best, thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

The secondary title to Pastor John's When I Don't Desire God is "How to Fight for Joy." And growing up at Bethlehem, I heard the phrase a lot. But it wasn't until the last few years that the concept really sank down in me. I think in college, I had this idea that joy was something that was given to me. Like, "Here I am, God, give me joy now, please!" and if he didn't immediately satisfy my desire, I had this sense that it was out of my hands and I could just wallow and feel sorry for me what with my lack of joy and all. I trusted God to be my everything and get me through the hard times, and I even knew that there were things like reading the Bible and praying that I should do in pursuit of joy, but I envisioned joy-less situations as times to sit and wait for God to give me joy, not actively pursue and fight for joy.

This started to change by the end of my junior year and into my senior year of college, but just within the past year or so, I've really grasped the idea of fighting for joy. When I'm discouraged, when I'm hurt, when I'm depressed or anxious, it's good to trust God. It's good to believe that he and only he will give me joy, and it's good to wait on his timing. But, if I trust him, I'm going to act on that trust. I'm going to fight with all my might against the darkness that wants to keep me from enjoying him, and I'm going to read my Bible and pray actively--not hoping that God will maybe give me joy but actively trying to get joy and expecting God to give it to me. And, if I have trouble feeling that joy at the end of the day--if the darkness doesn't totally go away--I'm going to wake up the next morning and start the fight again, grasping to every bit of joy that I find and believing that God will give me more and more in his time.

In When I Don't Desire God, Pastor Piper writes, "Indifference to the pursuit of joy in God would be indifference to the glory of God, and that is sin." I don't think that being sad or heartbroken or depressed or lonely is sinful. But it's good to be reminded that what is sinful is allowing that kind of situation to take over and not pursuing God and his glory. Negative emotions give us a victim mentality, and while we are the victims of spiritual warfare and attacks in such times, we are also commanded to take up the armor of God and believe that through the depression, sadness, loneliness, God is leading us to be able to enjoy him more perfectly. We need to fight to find that enjoyment.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


One of the fun things about academia is that you sometimes get really good professional excuses for traveling to cool places. (One of the downsides is that sometimes you have to travel to really uncool places . . . ie, Terre Haute, IN.) This summer, I get to go to one of my favorite places ever in the name of professional development! California, here I come!

I've blogged about California before. Last year, I thought I'd get to go to Dickens Universe and was disappointed when someone with more seniority ended up going. But, this year, I get to go, and it turns out to be a good thing because the book they're doing is Bleak House, which I'm much more interested in than last year's book, Great Expectations.

I'm also going to spend a few days in Los Angeles doing manuscript research. I love Oscar Wilde's manuscripts so much. Getting to sit there and touch the same paper he touched and see all the doodles he doodled in his margins and see his works develop onto the page as he thought them . . . Okay, to someone not obsessed with Oscar Wilde, all this might seem creepy. But tons of people get super excited about old books, and I never got that. I'm not just touching a notebook that is 125 years old; I'm touching a notebook that belonged to a famous author and playwright. If people can be "normal" and get excited about old books, I can get excited about manuscripts.

(I just realized I based that argument on a theoretical threat of being perceived as creepy. Eh. I'll keep it handy in case someone actually does tell me I'm creepy someday.)

I'm also thinking of going to San Francisco. We only spent one full day there when we went on our crazy, awesome, over-the-top roadtrip, and I'd like to go again. I hear the farmer's market is really great on Saturdays, and I'm sure there's a lot that I didn't see last time I was there. I need to figure out everything cost-wise to see if I could afford it, but how often do you find yourself an hour away from San Francisco?

Ah. I love California. Warmness. Manuscripts. Ocean. Real Mexican food. Real Chinese food. Palm trees. Cool California people. I can't wait.