Sometimes

I need to write something, anything. But my thoughts only seem to fall into writing mode sometimes.

Sometimes the world around me is flooded with rapturous joy
Sometimes my most haunting fears are miles and miles behind me
Sometimes a resounding symphony takes hold and captivates me
Sometimes I’m paralyzed by the comfort of a dream-filled sleep
Sometimes my words fall short of anything profound or lasting
Sometimes emotions take control and meddle with my thinking
Sometimes the pain is sharper than the point of any knife
Sometimes there is no end in sight for all this pain and strife
Sometimes loneliness is the only language I can understand
Sometimes solitude is built upon a foundation made of sand
Sometimes tears fall like sap bleeding out the trunk of an old tree
Sometimes I need a place where I can live quietly and just be me

Lost

If I am lost then come find me
Weeping beside the willow tree
On mountains high or by the sea
Where brokenness is beauty

If I am lost then set me free
From prison cells made of me
From the pain of self injury
And the fear of what might be

If I am lost then be my friend
Don’t let me fall, break or bend
Until the pain is at an end
And I too can be a your friend

If I am lost don’t go away
If I’ve nothing left to say
There will come another day
When at last I’ll find my way

If I am lost then come find me
Weeping beside the willow tree
On mountains high or by the sea
Where brokenness is beauty

Funny Thing

Aside

Dear Rose,

You want to know something funny? I actually started writing this memoir when I was 22 and traveling around Europe with our French friend. I’d bought this Mozart journal in Salzburg at one of the Mozart museums and had begun writing about my past while on the train to Innsbruck. I didn’t really know why I was writing it. For me it was just a way to pass time. Not that my story was very interesting back then.

Another strange thing is that I haven’t kept a steady diary since 2008. That was the same year I stopped self-injuring, remember? Then I moved home and began transcribing all my diaries on the computer. Again I wasn’t sure why.

Then, last night I talked with another friend. I told him how hard it was remembering things and how the writing in my diaries was so much better than what I was coming up with now. So he told me to use my diaries and just fill in the blanks with narrative where narrative was needed.

I feel slightly guilty doing that because it seems kind of lazy to me. Maybe it is. But I’m doing it anyway. I’ll send you a copy of the Mozart journal when it is finished.

Clara

To My Dear Old Friend

Written in my diary July 2, 2006

My Dear Friend,


Because we cannot speak to one another; because we cannot see one another… I write to you. I write to you from the darkness of my prison; from my sea of guilt and shame I write to you.

If the time has come when we must let go of our friendship and renounce the trust we once held so dear, I will let go and I will cherish in my heart the beautiful days and bury the pain of old wounds. But please, with gentleness, forgive me. Release me from my demons. Cover me with hope. Then we can truly move on – me in the branches of the weeping willow and you in the strength of the tall oak.

I know no anger as far as our friendship is concerned. You’ve lived your life wielding the sword of truth but have never destroyed the life of another. I’ve laid down all my weapons and allowed every part of my body to be pierced with arrows. Now I wait until my wounds are healed so I can walk – even run – toward my destiny.

All that once was is gone. All that is now will soon be gone. Time is never our friend – it never was. Tomorrow will always be too late. For my sake at least let your ill feelings toward me no longer linger. Help me to heal. 

Never to See the Light of Day

Here is the ending passage on a 37-journal-page story written in 2001 when I was barely 21-years-old. I’d just broken up with the man I thought I was going to marry and, for some reason, sinking into my imagination helped me cope with the break-up. I don’t think it’s great writing, but then again, I don’t think any of my writing is great writing. All I know is that it’s yet another story added to the ever-rising “unfinished” pile. It’s like it was with me when I needed it it and then, when I didn’t think I needed the story anymore, I carelessly tossed it aside. Shamefully I’ve done this with the writing of others as well. Writing is a tricky business after all, especially when you have a lot to say yet severely lack self-confidence. But there is this sense of purpose in the last statement, idealistic though it may be. There is a sense that there’s a special, divinely ordained path for me, but which path that is is still painfully unclear. Part of my problem has always been not being able to accept what is “normal” for most people. I don’t want to be normal and my stubborn inclination toward individualism pushes me profoundly toward that which is out-of-the-ordinary. My enneagram extremely accurately shows me as a creative seeker and individualist and, given that it is #4 of 9 possible personality types, I’m assuming I’m not alone out there.

 

37-pages

Another kind of love

(based on 1st Corinthians 13)

Love is more than Romeo and Juliette

And it’s more than Tristan and Isolde

Lancelot and Guinevere let’s just forget

Because their love is not the kind we should be sold

 

Let cupid keep his quiver full of arrows closed

There’s no more need for making up romance

And who could really want a love imposed

Someone’s got to take another side, another stance

 

Love is much more than a rose painted red

Or a pair of lovers kissing in the park

More than a night on the marriage bed

As the newlyweds are sung to by a lark

 

A love beyond all romance

Is the love I long to find

It’s where my heart can sing and dance

It’s a love of another kind

 

This love is patient, compassionate

It doesn’t envy, boast, nor is it rude,

It’s not egocentric or easily angered

Of our wrongs it doesn’t keep score

This love does not find joy in evil

The truth’s what matters more

Love always guards and shelters,

Trusts and hopes

And no matter what, perseveres

 

In the end three things remain

Faith, hope and love

But only one of these will sustain

And that, my friends, is love

Learn to Think Differently

Father-Daughter-Computer

“Why do I have to learn the quadratic formula? I’m never going to use it!” Teenage Clara passionately lamented as her father sat down to help her with her homework.

For the first 8 years of my life, my dad was a professor of computer science. He also holds diplomas from two of the most prestigious universities in the country (MIT and Stanford) thus giving him the credentials to be called a genius. In high school, he’d been selected one summer to go from Oklahoma to Arizona for a math camp where only the students with the highest IQs were even considered. The following summer he went to Iowa for a science camp which was just as selective as the previous summer’s math camp. Suffice to say, math noonly came easily to him, but he actually enjoyed it.

slide-rule-rulesSloan-Grant-WinnerProblems-to-Solve

I would love to have been the lucky recipient of Dad’s genetic strand of mathematical genius! After all, math and science giftedness is highly valued and rewarded in society. But numbers and equations seemed far beyond my grasp. Dad did his best to explain math to me, his explanations also went over my head.

Teamwork-Instructions

To answer my question, Dad said math wasn’t just about practical application. It was also about training your mind to think in a different way. And even when I had to take algebra II and geometry over again in summer school, I never doubted the importance of learning to “think differently.”

Dad-and-Clara-on-the-Mountain

Take music, for example. In my younger days, I was never a huge fan of popular music. My parents had introduced me to musical theatre at a very young age and I became hooked by the stories and the songs I could easily sing along with. Classical music was my dad’s thing but as a kid, I thought it was terribly boring. Nonetheless, Dad began exposing my sister and me to operas and orchestra concerts at a young age. It felt incredibly foreign but my dad had played the violin in his youth and knew the thrill of experiencing live music from vantage point of the orchestra pit as well as the spectator seats in the concert hall.

Violin-Seranade piano-and-microphone

In high school, I met the girl who would later become my best friend and she unveiled another side to the appreciation of classical music. I could already read music because I played piano, but seeing her pour over chord structures, time signatures, and dynamics with passion and enthusiasm shed new light on the beauty and purpose of music. She introduced me to a composer named Hector Berlioz. Years later, as my love affair with French language and culture grew, I learned some amazing facts about Berlioz. First, he’d begun studying music much later than most musicians (his early twenties) and second, his principle instrument when composing was the guitar. His famous “Symphonie Fantastique” was meant to be of a musical memoire of the first ten years of his adult life.  As I learned more about his life story, I began listening more intently until I could hear his hopes, heart-aches, fears, and joys tumble and rise in the elegantly composed frequencies and dynamics of a full orchestra.

If gaining insight about composers increased my level of appreciate, I wondered how the culture, history, and language impacted it as well. Soon I discovered I could appreciate almost anything if I simply took the time to understand it.  For example, it’s not as easy for me to relate to hip-hop music or punk rock as it is for me to relate to musical theatre or, say, folk songs. But then I learn a little about the artist, about the message he’s trying to convey, and about the people who most identify with it and I can listen with a new respect and appreciation.

Literature is no different. If you take the time to study the history and politics of 19th century France, you’ll  find that Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, and Honoré Balzac make perfect sense. Even the Bible. I’ve heard arrogant people who see no use in the Bible criticize it for being “poorly written.” Others have critiqued it based on a 21st Century mind-set and have not taken into account the worldviews of people who lived in the Middle East 2,000 – 5,000 years ago. Same goes for other religions and other worldviews.

Keys to changing the way we think  include learning a musical instrument and learning another language. Math is another language. Both math and music have been called universal languages. And you don’t have to be a math genius or a concert pianist to benefit from learning them.

In all fairness, my dad never learned a foreign language as I did. He never really desired to, although the structural part of language still seems to fascinate him. He also doesn’t travel far from the familiar when it comes to listening to new music. And literature? He not a fan. He prefers non-fiction to fiction. When he took his liberal arts requirements at MIT, his grades were not nearly as impressive as those from his science and engineering classes. I guess this means my dad may have the prestige that goes along with being a math genius, but he doesn’t know everything.

Chaucer's-Revenge

Becoming a Whovian

Whovians leave their mark everywhere, including Point Loma University in San Diego, CA.

Whovians leave their mark everywhere, including Point Loma University in San Diego, CA.

They’re everywhere! Just over a year ago I had no clue who this “Doctor Who” character was and now I’m a die-hard fan, one of those affectionately known as a “Whovian.” How did this happen?

The origin of my story probably dates back to a lifetime fascination with science fiction/fantasy movies and TV shows. For example, gathering in front of the TV with my dad and sister once a week to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation was a regular ritual for us three. Anything on TV that involved magic and mystery would captivate me back then, from the cheesier shows like Out of this World and Bewitched to the more dramatic shows like Lois and Clark and Early Edition. If I were going to escape into an imaginary universe, that universe would look nothing like the reality I lived in (other than the human-like creatures dwelling there).

The BBC , however, was a bit out-of-my-reach since my parents didn’t have cable while I was growing up and about the only TV shows from the UK that were accessible to me were the ones airing on PBS. I wasn’t introduced to Monty Python or Mr. Bean until some friends told me about them when I was in high school. My dad had a thing for Keeping Up Appearances and it seems there was a show about a gourmet chef as well (was it called Chef, maybe?). That was it.

When I left home for university, television lost it’s draw for me. I studied political science at the time and my more serious classmates were adamantly against the very idea of television. I didn’t want to watch TV either because I hated being subjected to all those pesky commercials. So from the time Star Trek: TNG ended until sometime after university graduation, I shunned the very idea of television. Television, I believed, made people stupid and hindered any possibility of genuine interaction with other human beings. In my inner-circle of friends, television was terribly un-cool. If a TV was in any of our possessions, it was solely for watching DVDs. But, for the most part, computers rendered the necessity for TVs nonexistent.

No need for TVs to watch Doctor Who these days.

No need for TVs to watch Doctor Who these days.

But with the advent of Web 2.0 facilitating the successful launch of sites like YouTubeNetflix, and Hulu, the nature of television forever changed. Suddenly I could watch innumerous TV shows commercial-free whenever I wanted. So I began by catching up on old sitcoms from the 1990s and early 2000s.  But then I stumbled upon a podcast hosted by Chris Hardwick known as The Nerdist. Chris was passionate about this British show called Doctor Who. I’d been catching up on a few BBC shows like Black Books, The Catherine Tate Show, and The IT Crowd. But Doctor Who was still quite foreign to me.

Nonetheless, I attended my first Phoenix Comicon in 2011 where some of my favorite actors from Star Trek were signing autographs and the great Stan Lee did a Q & A to a completely filled auditorium. I took lots of pictures of young people in cosplay and so enjoyed myself that I came back the following year.

I had the good fortune of meeting an old classmate last year entirely by chance who, like me, was attending comicon alone. So we did a little wandering together and I asked him where to begin if I wanted to start watching Doctor Who. He recommended I begin with the new stuff because it’s easier for someone who’s accustomed to the awesome storytelling and visual affects of today to get into. I took his advice.

With this sign on my door and a lock, no one interrupts my Doctor Who time.

With this sign on my door and a lock, no one interrupts my Doctor Who time.

The first episode failed to hook me in, but I knew better than to give up right away. So then I watched another episode and another and I began to finally transform into the Whovian I am today.

There was a time I would pride myself in how little I knew about pop-culture. To focus my mind on what I felt were more important things was a badge of honor, so to speak. Our clothes were being made by small children working under horrific conditions in countries far from here yet we turn a blind eye and escape into a world of fantasy that doesn’t seem to add value to our lives at all…(or does it?)

We want to be the change we want to see in the world but if other people are unable to relate to us because we choose to look down upon the masses instead of trying to understand them, nobody will jump on board with our cause. To change the world, we cannot sit on high hoping the rest of the world will climb to our way of thinking. To change the world we first have to learn to love the people who inhabit it as they are.

 

Doctor Who sticky notes are a great way to meet other Whovians, I've discovered.

Doctor Who sticky notes are a great way to meet other Whovians, I’ve discovered.

A barista told me about these awesome fan-pages he helped create.

A barista told me about these awesome fan-pages he helped create.

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor Who is a kind of British-homespun superhero who captures the heart of the entire English-speaking world. Is he perfect? Not at all. In fact, for an alien, he’s very human and I think that’s why we fans adore him so much.

Here are some things the Doctor has taught me:

  1. It is more harmful to feel nothing than to feel any kind of pain or sadness.
  2. It is possible to feel lonely even when you’re not alone but it’s better, just the same, not to be alone.
  3. Humanity, despite all our rage and fury, is uniquely beautiful and worth protecting.
  4. Along with the ups and downs of life, there’s ample time for whimsy and childishness.
  5. No weapon is any match for a sonic screwdriver.
  6. Don’t judge by appearances. Remember, the T.A.R.D.I.S. is bigger on the inside.
  7. Friendship is comprised of unconditional love and emotional vulnerability. Though we will mourn the loss of our companions, we won’t regret knowing them nor will they fade from our memories.
  8. If your aim is noble, there is nothing to fear.

Why do you love Doctor Who?