Renewal

Do you ever feel like you are multi-tasking at life? Sometimes it feels like everything is meddled into one cauldron, constantly bubbling, constantly needing stirring, constantly intermixing. 

Personally, I am always adding ingredients to that mix and taking others out. It’s as if my life at the moment is a jumbled mess. And frankly, it is. It’s often so easy for us to get lost in the middle of everything. When people ask how I’m doing the response goes, “Barely hanging onto my coat tails.”

I cannot even begin to get into the different dynamics that are a part of this witch’s brew, but they’re messy. My God, are they messy. 

I’ve tried and tried to try to sort out my life. I’ve tried to create strict schedules and plan ahead. But the fact is, I’m not a planner. I take things as they come. Not the best method for a young woman, but it’s all I know. 

My lack of self direction and planning is only comforted by the unwavering notion that God can clear our minds, renew our spirits, and wipe our hearts from stain. Psalm 51 has particularly been insightful in that it shows the impregnable redemptive nature of Christ. 

 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,

and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 

8 Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 

9 Hide your face from my sins,

and blot out all my iniquities. 

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me. 

11 Cast me not away from your presence,

and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and uphold me with a willing spirit.

In the end, we are not the heroes of this tale. I am not at all prepared to deal with this mess before me. But God is with me and only he can renew my spirit. 

I think back to the times when I had a clue of what I was doing. Good times, they seemed. I might not necessarily ever get out of this jumble. But I might as well ask for the help that God so vehemently offers. So here’s to this confusing life. Here’s to knowing it’s not just me against the world. Here’s to peace with myself. 

Flâneuse: Book Review

IMG_2351.JPGI recently bought a book by Lauren Elkin, (instagram post here). An American expat in Paris, she talks about the hidden history of women in cities. More specifically, les flâneuses, the women who wander through cities. Flâneur is French slang for someone who wanders aimlessly. The term heralds from the 19th century when women simply were not allowed to walk up and down streets on their own. In fact, most of the word’s history belongs in the realm of men.  But, Elkin goes on to disprove this stereotype. She talks about her own experience as a flâneuse (feminizing the word), and the experiences of many other women in history who explored their cities uninhibited by the “guardianship” of men.

Lauren writes about her own experiences in Tokyo, London, New York, Venice, and of course, Paris. In her book she points out that the flâneuse is not just a wanderer, she is so much more. One quote I loved was, “The flâneur, attuned to the chords that vibrate through his city, knows without knowing” (3). The flâneur carries an intuition, so real and authentic and legitimate that it is often labeled as a kind of magic. How can one know a city so well? How can one be so acclimatized to the undulations of the cobblestone streets? How can one know which direction the water inside a city’s metal pipes flow? At what time does the baker peek out his window? What direction that redolent scent originates?

It is the ultimate native of a city, though she may not even have been born there. She just knows. Paris and I have been in an entangled love story for the past few years. We are no strangers. Elkin writes about my favorite places:

I walked past all the great cafés lining the boulevard, La Rotonde, Le Select, Le Dôme and La Coupole, watering holes to generations of American writers in Paris, whose ghosts hunched under café awnings, unimpressed with the way the twentieth century had turned out. I crossed over the rue Vavin, with its eponymous café, where all the cool lycéens went when they got out of school, assertive cigarette smokers with sleeves too long for their arms, shod in Converse sneakers, boys with dark curls and girls with no make-up. (5)

As you can imagine, reading about Elkin’s time in my filthy, stupefying, ambrosial lover was much more than just a thrill. I am not quite finished with this book, but I was so excited I had to write about it immediately.

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One of Hemingway’s Parisian apartments

It shocked me to know that, over the past two centuries, so many women were tied to their homes. Many were forced only to take part in marital duties. But some brave heroines refused the hearth and made their homes in the deep veins of a city. We are part of this thread of rebels. We know our cities…albeit through different strategies. Here is to all our intelligent, intuitive, illustrative, ignescent, irresistible, impious, idiosyncratic, international flâneuses who never gave a damn and loved their cities all the more.

And finally, a snippet of Baudelaire’s “Passer-by,” one of my favorite French poems that Elkin puts in her book:

The deafening street roared around me

Tall, sender, in heavy mourning, majestic in her grandeur

A woman walked past me, her sumptuous hand

Lifting and shining her hem as she went.

Swift and graceful, with legs like a statue’s

Twitching like a madman, I drank in

Her eyes, a pallid sky where storms are born

the sweetness that charms and the pleasure that kills.

  • by Charles Baudelaire (1855)

Vision

I’ve always loved the phrase, “My, what a vision.” I’m a film geek (to say the least), and I’ve watched those classic scenes when a dazzling  dame walks down the stairs in a glittering dress and the handsome man waiting for her exclaims, “What a vision!” But, most of the time the man refers to the woman’s looks, her dress, and even that graceful lilt in her step.

But, I want to take the phrase to another level. I want people to look at me one day and say, “my, what a vision,” but I don’t want it to be for how I look. I want to be a vision in the way I treat other people, how much I share my love, and how well I am a good fellow being. That is what I mean by a vision.IMG_2259.JPG

There is a difference, however, between a vision and a visionary. A visionary, according to the Webster dictionary, is someone who thinks about the future with imagination. A visionary just dreams. But a vision literally personifies the dreams of the visionary. It infers action, movement, and change. I hope to e this type of person. And the vision I hope to personify is the life of Jesus Christ. I want to love as he loved, serve as he served, and walk as he walked. That is my life mission, and I want people to look at my life and say, “My, what a vision”.

Déjeuner du Matin

There is a poem by Jacques Prévert that I had to act out last semester in French. It is:

Il a mis le café
Dans la tasse
Il a mis le lait
Dans la tasse de café
Il a mis le sucre
Dans le café au lait
Avec la petite cuiller
Il a tourné
Il a bu le café au lait
Et il a reposé la tasse
Sans me parler
Il a allumé
Une cigarette
Il a fait des ronds
Avec la fumée
Il a mis les cendres
Dans le cendrier
Sans me parler
Sans me regarder
Il s’est levé
Il a mis
Son chapeau sur sa tête
Il a mis
Son manteau de pluie
Parce qu’il pleuvait
Et il est parti
Sous la pluie
Sans une parole
Sans me regarder
Et moi j’ai pris
Ma tête dans ma main
Et j’ai pleuré.

For those of you who don’t speak french, this poem is about a person who watches a man make his coffee, almost like a ritual, and then leave without looking at him/her. Then the person watching cries. I always thought the poem reflected some sort of modernist existentialism; humans are so disconnected from each other than no one acknowledges anyone anymore.

But lately, my life has been just like this: going through the motions and failing to communicate with the people around me. I don’t know if it’s the distractions this world has to offer on social media. I don’t know if it’s the sheer amount of schoolwork I have to complete. And I don’t know if it’s the deeper emotional toils that I’m slowly managing. But, I’ve realized I have turned into l’homme dans la poème. Because I am both a poet and a person of systems, I like to think it has something to do with the winter months. However, my rational self cannot be alright with giving that excuse. So, here I go. I will work on being happy. I will work on being aware of my surroundings and connecting with the people around me. Because if we cannot see beyond the milk in our coffee, then what are we doing at all?

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Les Matins

A little photo-journal I’m starting. Here’s a little look into a February morning.

Bildungsroman

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I’ve been living my own coming of age story, or bildungsroman if you prefer, over the last few months. It seems like every week, my desires have shifted. What I hoped for starting in January is as far as what I could possibly want now. It’s funny, when you live your passing desires, the universe wakes you up with the resounding words, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Events have shaped my entire mindset. In fact, I’ve had to reevaluate everything I’ve ever done up until this point just two nights ago when I got a fairly disappointing letter in the mail. But, I could sit and wallow in a pit of sadness. Or, I could get past my existentialist situation and actually make an effort to move forward with what I now deem to be my path. But I can’t underplay the effect all this has on the heart. And, I think I’ve unnecessarily put my little heart through too much recently. So, here I go in taking steps to heal that weary, tired, and sore heart of mine.

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And man, may I say it is so refreshing to have a tabula rasa. So here I am, sticking to what I’ve known to be true about me and shedding the ambiguous skin I lived in for so long. Now, I am on a mission to be purely, authentically, and nothing besides myself. Just me.

Usually when I have these moments, I have the biggest urge to chop off my hair and transform into a new identity. But this time, I can only feel the need to get away and take a step back from my life here in California. This time, I’ve got a whole lot of fernweh for Scotland. Right now, I’m applying to study there next spring. I can’t begin to tell you how quickly I want the next 10 months to go by, but I’ll try. It’s a place I’ve never been to physically, but I feel like my heart resonates with the land so deeply. There are just those places people have, I call them “spirit places,” where they feel so at home. But, I could go on unnecessarily about Scotland for ages. So, I’d rather leave you with this:

Be careful what you wish for and in all your wishing don’t forget to be truly authentically and undeniably you.

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Also, as you’ve noticed I’ve taken a little break from the 30 Day Writing Challenge because, well I just don’t have the time. There are so many deadlines this month! But, I hope to take up the project again soon.

30DWC Day 9, Words of Wisdom.

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Montmartre in the summer

Day 9. Post some words of wisdom that really speak to you

If you know me well, you know I live by the line, “Every experience is a good experience.” I truly believe what I say. In my life, I’ve learned that no matter what experience I have, may it be wonderful or tragic, I have grown and learned something.  It’s difficult in the middle of a trial to have this mindset, but keeping this phrase in the back of my mind has made transitioning from conflict-resolution much more peaceful. It’s effected my entire life. The way I view things now is through a much less tainted scope. I don’t see things merely through my expectations or pre-meditated conceptions. I now look at everything in it’s own situation clearly and without any bias.

I’m not saying that I’m perfect. Far from it, actually. It just means that everything comes as a learning experience now. I try to take something away from every encounter or problem I come across. It’s a much better way to live my life, and whenever people ask for advice, I go straightforward to this philosophy.

Things become so much better if you see everything as purposely a part of your story. If you can see even the bad things as learning curves, then what’s to stop you? Absolutely nothing.