So, here we are.

A friend was inquiring about how others dealt with writer's block that lasted over six months. My first response was, "Are you kidding?" Sure, assign me something and I'll get back to you, but the real writing muse only sings to me a couple of times a year.

I would agree with some of the other responses to the same question and say that writer's block is the result of too many things in one's head, not too few. White light only seems blank; split it, and you'll see just how many blue days, yellow days, and pink days went into making it. You can't unravel white light by focusing it. White light has to be broken.

So, rather than trying to put the whole world into our heads, we must put our heads into the world. Be not a lens, distilling the truth until it burns; be not a mirror, showing truth that has already been shown. Instead, write as a prism, unfolding old beauty in new ways, opening doors in the familiar, spreading light in colors as of yet unseen.


Hippocratic Oath

"I swear by Apollo the Physician, by Aesculapius, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgement this oath.
To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers and to teach them this art, without fee or indenture; to impart precept, oral instruction, and all other instruction to my own sons, the sons of my teacher, and to indentured pupils.
I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and my judgement, but never with a view to injury and wrongdoing.
I will not administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I give a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy in both my life and my art.
I will not use the knife on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen in this art.
Into whatsoever houses I enter I will endeavour to help the sick and I will abstain from all intentional wrongdoing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman whether bond or free.
And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, or in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad I will never divulge it, holding such things to be as secrets which are holy.
If I carry out this oath and break it not, may I gain forever a good reputation among all men for my life and my art; but if I transgress it, may the opposite be my portion.”

(Oh, so that's why they don't have doctors swear to it anymore.)


Monochrome, except for one spot:

a funky feature I just discovered on my camera. Unfortunately, I don't think the size of the area is adjustable.

(since the wall was gray to begin with, this worked out nicely.)

Pickles: just one small part of an amply celebrated Thanksgiving.



The Nanny State

"We have forgotten that the Gospel ethic demands feeding the poor: it is silent about the business of turning the poor into capitalists so that they can care for themselves and release us from the Gospel burden."

Read the whole awesome article here.


Why I'm not big on bending over these days.

Out on the Callihans' property, whilst attempting to aerially transport myself from one haybale to another, I discovered the texture of the second haybale to be significantly less hospitable than I had initially perceived, and consequently fell about 8 feet to the ground and gave myself a good hard bump. From the feel of it, I bruised my ischium on the left side, but not my coccyx (thank goodness) and also gave my thoracic and lumbar vertebrae a good hard crunch. Thankfully, nothing broken, nothing sprained, just some serious soreness and stiffness, which the last remains of my H1N1 cough are doing their utmost to aggravate. The end.



I am a difficult person to shop for; just ask my mother. Not to say that I can't be placated with chocolate and the like, but even when it comes to chocolate, I'm kind of picky. It's my own fault, but that doesn't make it any less depressing.

I'm a difficult person to cheer up; just ask my mother. Not to say I don't grin just imagining Mr Griffith doing the vocab dance, but even on good days, I tend to have an undercurrent that's dragging me down. It's my own fault.

When I was a kid, my parents had a remarkably effective policy regarding "treats" -- i.e. the chocolate bars in the grocery store. I only could only have one as a surprise; it had to be their idea, not mine. Oh, the many times I stood by the cash register, ogling the Kit Kats with bated breath, yearning for the parental go-ahead. Sometimes it came, usually it didn't. When it did come, the surprise was always sweeter than a mere granted request.

Where my parents see outward appearances, God looks at the heart. While my parents will always listen, before a word is on my tongue, He knows it completely. My parents' generosity never fails to leave me speechless, but God's generosity is on a grander scale. He brings me to my knees.



"The First Night" - Billy Collins (from Ballistics)

The worst thing about death must be
the first night.
—Juan Ramón Jiménez
Before I opened you, Jiménez,
it never occurred to me that day and night
would continue to circle each other in the ring of death,

but now you have me wondering
if there will also be a sun and a moon
and will the dead gather to watch them rise and set

then repair, each soul alone,
to some ghastly equivalent of a bed.
Or will the first night be the only night,

a darkness for which we have no other name?
How feeble our vocabulary in the face of death,
How impossible to write it down.

This is where language will stop,
the horse we have ridden all our lives
rearing up at the edge of a dizzying cliff.

The word that was in the beginning
and the word that was made flesh—
those and all the other words will cease.

Even now, reading you on this trellised porch,
how can I describe a sun that will shine after death?
But it is enough to frighten me

into paying more attention to the world’s day-moon,
to sunlight bright on water
or fragmented in a grove of trees,

and to look more closely here at these small leaves,
these sentinel thorns,
whose employment it is to guard the rose.

"If one day I throw myself into this well, it will not be to kill
myself, believe me, but to pluck the stars more quickly."

- Jimenez,
Platero y Yo



Growing Up

For me, fast food is full of magic.

It's the same kind of magic as Christmas: dinner delivered in gift boxes, stacked deep in a brightly colored bag. Then comes the tray of cups, a family of matching packages, each with its own gift tag to tell you which is yours.

As a kid, I was fascinated by the lids on those drinks, wondering whether the girl behind the window took the time to mark the crucial white bumps labelled "RB" and "Coke," or whether we'd have to find out the hard way which was whose. Sadly, the latter scenario prevailed, and I was left popping all the bumps on my drink myself... after all, that's what the lids were made for.

Now it's my turn, and I admit I get an extra burst of satisfaction when a family comes through at work wanting two iced teas, 7up, and a Pepsi. Marking fast-food drinks has gone from a six-year-old's small-time hobby to a nineteen-year-old's paying job.



Create Your Own Pasta Masterpiece

One hand on the counter, the customer bares his soul.
"I'll have the pasta,"
then it's my turn to play psychiatrist.
"And what kind of noodles would you like?"
After all, it's pretty informative:
"What does your pasta say about you?"
You could be friendly and reliable, like the woman
who eats chicken penne alfredo with broccoli,
or easy to please, like the little girl
who goes out with her grandma once a week
for rotini with just a little marinara?
But no, you're just a twentysomething guy
who can only point and say, "Those ones,
the skinny ones," or "the wiggly ones,"
or if you're a real shiner, "corkscrews."
You need more clarity in your life, my friend,
or a good thing will be right in front of your nose
and you'll be pointing and calling her
"the one with the nice face"
and THEN you'll be in trouble.
But steer clear of the girl who asks
for tortellini, rotini, penne, spaghetti, linguini,
in marina, pesto, and alfredo, with
mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, onions,
green peppers, red peppers, banana peppers, pepper flakes,
worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt and pepper,
sausage, chicken, oh, and do you have meatballs left?
Honestly. Run before it's too late.

*I like my job.


I don't want to tour Europe.


I want to see Europe again the way you can only see it by going in through the back door, by staying in a rundown part of town, by losing a night's sleep because there's a wedding going on downstairs and the band is playing Mariah Carey songs at 4 AM and then realizing that the couple getting married was the same couple you saw when you wandered into the Catholic cathedral that afternoon looking for a priest to talk Latin with.

I want to see the places in Europe that are truly historical, not in the sense that you buy a ticket, wander through, and then go to the gift shop for a keychain, but the places where the barbed wire is still strung along the walls, the places that are gray and empty and silent, the places like Jawor, the town still so ravaged by the Nazis that when we sang hymns in the square half of the group wound up in tears, and I am again just remembering.

I want to get up early in the morning and see the city when no one is awake, when the mist is still melting off of the river, when the stores are closed and the streets are quiet and the birds are out in the thousands.



"An empty house can be as lonely as a full hotel."

- Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca


La Muerta

If suddenly you do not exist,
if suddenly you are not living,
I shall go on living.

I do not dare,
I do not dare to write it,
if you die.

I shall go on living.

Because where a man has no voice,
there, my voice.

Where blacks are beaten,
I can not be dead.
When my brothers go to jail
I shall go with them.

When victory,
not my victory
but the great victory
even though I am mute I must speak:
I shall see it come even though I am blind.

No, forgive me.
If you are not living,
if you, beloved, my love,
if you
have died,
all the leaves will fall on my breast,
it will rain upon my soul night and day,
the snow will burn my heart,
I shall walk with cold and fire and death and snow,
my feet will want to march toward where you sleep,
I shall go on living,
because you wanted me to be, above all things,
and, love, because you know that I am not just one man
but all men.

- Pablo Neruda, 1952



from two sermons, one on Adam & Eve, one on Christ fulfilling the OT priesthood.

The drift of the Adam and Eve sermon: God knew Adam needed a helper, and to get this point across, He had Adam name the animals. Because of seeing all the animals in pairs, Adam realized he was alone and in need of his own other half.

The drift of the priesthood sermon: the priests stood in the Temple because their work of giving sacrifices was incomplete; Christ, the final priest, fulfilled their office through His ultimate sacrifice and now sits at God's right hand.

Don't these go together? The priests, like Adam, found animal after animal, all young and spotless, but just as no animal was a fit helper for Adam, no animal was truly able to atone for sin. Only God's work of creating woman was able to complete man. The Church is the new Eve, made for the second Adam, born from His side broken in the crucifixion. Now, instead of standing at the Passover table with our shoes and coats on, we sit at the Lamb's wedding feast. And that's what it's all about.


dropping the eaves

Overheard in a public bathroom:

"Oh, it still has another three minutes left."
"And then if it has just one line, you're not, but if it has both lines, you are."

Overheard outside a gas station:

"Yeah, you put whatever you want in the cup and then fill it up with slurpee so they can't see it."

If only all this handy new knowledge could go on my resume.

"In addition to a years' college education, I am an expert in pregnancy tests and convenience store robbery."


two sides to every coin

and two sides to every journey,
away from passing the peace, carrying laundry back and forth between buildings, the spider on the basement stairs at the Nuart, bright blue skies, and that flighty temptress, the elusive hour between Math and Latin,
towards water falling from the sky and moss rising from the ground, an orange-walled bedroom, the kids I've known since they were born, resumes, nineteen, new faces, new continents,


"I forget her exact words...

...but they were to the effect that sex and motherhood should be treated neither ribaldry nor reverence. 'It is too serious a subject for ribaldry, and I myself cannot understand reverence towards anything that is physical.' There, in a few words, is the whole twisted and tortured priggishness which poisons the present age. The person who cannot laugh at sex ought to be kicked; and the person who cannot reverence pain ought to be killed."

- G. K. Chesterton, Questions of Divorce


In the resurrection, (#2)

I hope we don't have allergies. Can that please be included in "putting on incorruption"? Thankyou.



Tanning in the spring is like Emily Dickinson's poems.

When it first gets warm, you start off by wearing capris, cause you're too pale to wear shorts right away. Hence "mailman syndrome," since mailmen seem to have no qualms about skipping this vital step and going directly into shorts mode, thus subjecting the innocent populace to their unsightly winter legs. Or, in the words of the aforementioned poet,

"The truth must dazzle gradually, or every man be blind."

The US presidential election is like rap music.

You know how rappers never want to do songs by themselves? It's always "Jamie Fox feat. T-Pain" or "Black Eyed Peas feat. Justin Timberlake." That way, each song gets twice as many fans listening to it -- all the fans from each artist.

Such is the way of the presidential election: someone may hate McCain, but they voted for him because they like Palin.

Our Latin textbook is like Looney Tunes.

You know how in cartoons, there's always a sledgehammer/stick of dynamite/anvil appearing out of nowhere? Apply that same thing to Daedalus and Icarus. Seriously. "Oh yes, here we are in the labyrinth, which was previously described as being dark, but here! I have feathers and wax and fire! And hey, look -- the roof is gone, so we can fly out!"

I can just see Icarus flying across a cartoon sky with a blissful expression until he realizes his wings have fallen off. Then he stops, looks out of the screen at you for a second, and falls straight down.


Three extremely poetic feet.

Jen's feet are trochees: small, and accented at the front.

Tyler is an anapest: observe the accent at the far right.



I didn't know what to write about.

Then it struck me that my senior blog has a whole category of posts about feet. This blog didn't have any.

Problem solved.


Shall I Compare Thee?

Shall I compare thee to a winter's day?
Thou are more frosty and indifferent.
As snow upon the city sidewalks lay,
Your face a frigid beauty doth present.
Sometimes you coldly glare across the room,
When I attempt the slightest compliment,
And my advances never break the gloom,
Though your sweet face endures no detriment.
No, thy eternal hailstorm shall not fade
Nor cease to pelt me with rejection cold,
But my amour of sterner stuff is made,
My passion will for centuries be bold.
So now, I bid your photograph goodnight
And sleep to dream of our pure love's delight.


Demain, des l'aube

Demain, dès l'aube, à l'heure où blanchit la campagne,
Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m'attends.
J'irai par la forêt, j'irai par la montagne.
Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps.

Je marcherai les yeux fixés sur mes pensées,
Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit,
Seul, inconnu, le dos courbé, les mains croisées,
Triste, et le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit.

Je ne regarderai ni l'or du soir qui tombe,
Ni les voiles au loin descendant vers Harfleur,
Et quand j'arriverai, je mettrai sur ta tombe
Un bouquet de houx vert et de bruyère en fleur.

Tomorrow, at dawn, the hour when fields are white,
I'll leave. You see, I know you wait for me.
I'll cross the woods, I'll climb the mountain height,
I can no longer live with you away.

I'll walk, my eyes affixed upon my thoughts,
No sound I'll hear, nor gaze on any sight,
Alone, unknown, back bent, with folded hands,
Sad, and the day for me shall be like night.

I shall not see the evening gold descend,
Nor far off sails making for Harfleur,
When I arrive upon your tomb I'll place
A green spray of heather and holly in flower.

~ Victor Hugo


On this morning.

The sun is not guilty today.
She knows full well she owes us a favor,
Having made us wait for so long for the pleasure of her company,
But now that she is here, she is merely fashionably late
And not guilty in the slightest
Gleaming happily through my white windowsills,
Quite aware that everyone is looking at her, and everyone
Is very glad she was able to come, and if
She could just stay a little longer, we would all be
So very delighted, so charmed, so grateful.
The sun is not guilty, not even close.
She has us wrapped around her ever-fashionable little finger.
After all, the moment she leaves, the party will be over
And no debutante should sacrifice her beauty sleep,
Much less one so much in the public eye,
So leave she shall, soon, too soon, leave us all
To talk about how lovely she was and how
We cannot wait for the next party.


In the Resurrection,

I hope people still talk in all their multitude of languages. Maybe we won't. Maybe we'll all have the gift of tongues. But I, for my part, would be delighted by the prospect of an N. T. Wrightish eternity to be spent, among an infinity of other things, learning every language. Ever. And just like the clothes in Narnia have no zippers or starch or elastic, we could learn without the need for prefixes and periphrastics and pluperfects.

I hope so.


Given for You

The table in my dining room is a square, white altar. Each meal is offered up. I have chosen my fruit, a cantaloupe, ripe, mature, without spot or blemish, and wholly pleasing unto me. Take, eat. And so I do. The skin is pale, with faint touches of green that flinch under my threatening fingertips, and faint ridges that speak like braille, silent but enticing.

Not every meal is the Eucharist, but whatever we eat, we eat to Him, and for that matter, whatever we eat is itself a reflection of His death. This melon, green without, orange within, tomb to a thousand seeds, had one work in the world: to hang on a vine that we might live. Now the gift lies dead. My knife slices smoothly into its side, and the juice spurts out, glittering transparent beads in the sunlight. I take my first bite, slurping the living water, licking it from my fingers, sticky-smooth and saccharine, reveling in the sacrifice. Stillness fills the air, reverence and awe in the face of mystery. All of you, drink it.

I can smell the blood in the air, the faint, sweet aroma of death. But the story continues. Every discarded seed can someday bring forth many more. As I rip the flesh from the rind, I receive new life. Like the graveclothes, the peel is left behind, empty, bright green mottled through the last vestiges of orange mortality. In this cantaloupe, we can see resurrection. This supper is the Lord's.



Pizza in the Shower?

The back story: yesterday, I cleaned with bleach most of the afternoon, and by the evening, I had most of the symptoms of the flu. Anyways, my sleep talking was in peak form afterwards.
As recorded by Lauryl:

"Morning, here I go.
I will give them showers and I will give them pizzas.
That will be my job.
I can't remember the word for it."

[Lauryl points out the problems of having a shower and pizza simultaneously.]

"Yeah, it happened to Craig last year. It sounded pretty darn epic."


Book Catalog: Moscow

A major project for this year: compiling an organized list of all my books. Here is the Moscow division, which currently totals... ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN. *beams*

Book of Common Prayer
Cantus Christi
Cruden’s Concordance
Greek New Testament
New King James Bible

Adler, Mortimer - How to Read a Book
Aristotle - On Rhetoric
Asimov, Isaac - I, Robot
Augustine - City of God, The Confessions

Barth, Karl - The Teaching of the Church Regarding Baptism
Berlinghoff, William P. - Math Through the Ages
Bronte, Anne - Agnes Grey, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre, Villette
Bronte, Emily - Wuthering Heights

Calvin, John - Institutes of the Christian Religion (2 vols)
Chesterton, G. K. - Heretics, Manalive, Orthodoxy, Selected Essays
Christie, Agatha - Death Comes as the End
Cicero - Ad Herennium
Coldplay - X & Y (music)
Corbett, Edward P. J. - Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student
Crilly, Tony - 50 Mathematical Ideas You Really Ought to Know
Cross, Milton - Encyclopedia of the Great Composers and Their Music (2 vols)

Devlin, Keith - The Math Gene
Dewdney, A. K. - Yes, We Have No Neutrons
Diacu, Florin - The Lost Milennium: History’s Timetables Under Siege
Donne, John: Poetry and Prose
Dresbold, Michelle - Sex, Lies, and Handwriting
Du Maurier, Daphne - Rebecca

Eidelberg, Joseph - The Biblical Hebrew Origin of the Japanese People
Elfman, Danny - The Nightmare Before Christmas (music)
Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
Euclid - The Elements, vol. 1

Frame, John M. - The Doctrine of the Christian Life, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God

Gaiman, Neil - Smoke and Mirrors
Gilmore, Robert - Alice in Quantumland
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
Gott, J. Richard - Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe

Hengel, Martin - Crucifixion
Hoffecker, W. Andrew - Revolutions in Worldview
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World

James, P. D. - Original Sin

Kline, Morris - Mathematics for the Non-Mathematician, Mathematics in Western Culture
Kurlansky, Mark - Salt: A World History

Lamb, Charles & Mary - Illustrated Tales from Shakespeare
Le Couteur, Penny - Napoleon’s Buttons: How Seventeen Molecules Changed History
Leithart, Peter - A House for my Name, Miniatures and Morals, Solomon Among the Postmoderns
Levine, Gail Carson - Ella Enchanted
Lewis, C. S. - The Great Divorce, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, The Problem of Pain, The Screwtape Letters, Surprised by Joy, That Hideous Strength
Luther, Martin - Luther & Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation

MacArthur, Brian - The Penguin Book of Historic Speeches
Mann, Thomas - The Oxford Guide to Library Research
Milton, John - Selected Poems
McCourt, Frank - Angela’s Ashes
McKinley, Robin - Beauty
Murray, John - Redemption Accomplished and Applied

Orberg, Hans - Lingua Latine Per Se Illustrata
Orwell, George - 1984, Animal Farm

Pare, Jean - Cookies, Four Ingredient Recipes, Muffins & More, Potluck Dishes, Vegetables,
Pearcey, Nancy - The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy
Priest, Christopher - The Prestige
Plato - Gorgias
Poythress, Verne S. - Understanding Dispensationalists

Quintilian - The Orator's Education, vol. 1

Robertson, O. Palmer - The Christ of the Covenants
Rombauer, Irma - The Joy of Cooking

Salinger, J. D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Scott, Walter - Ivanhoe
Shakespeare, William - Collected Works
Sparks, Nicholas - The Notebook; A Walk to Remember
Spieler, Marlena - Mexican Recipes
Suess, Dr. - The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

Tartuffe, Jean-Baptiste - Moliere
Trudeau, Richard J. - The Non-Euclidean Revolution
Tunberg, Geunevera & Terentio - Cattus Petasatus
Turabian, Kate L.- A Manual for Writers

Van der zee, Leonard - Christ, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper
Van Doren, Charles - A History of Knowledge, Past, Present, and Future
Voltaire - Candide

Watterson, Bill - Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons, Scientific Progress Goes Boink!
Weston, Anthony - A Rulebook for Arguments
Wilde, Oscar - The Importance of Being Earnest
Williams, Joseph - Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace
Wilson, Douglas - Joy at the End of the Tether, Reforming Marriage, Standing on the Promises
Wilson, Nancy - Praise Her In the Gates
Wright, N. T. - Evil and the Justice of God, Surprised by Hope
Wynne-Jones, Diana - Howl’s Moving Castle



Adhuc Latine vocabar "Clara." Sed heri, nomen meus Magistro mutabatur. Iam ego non "Clara," sed "Splendida" nominabor.

Id mihi maxime placet.


Happy Valentine's Turtle

Fact #1: I like going on walks.
Fact #2: I really like going on walks late at night.
Fact #3: I really, really like singing while I'm out walking late at night.

So, Saturday evening, I was walking down to the Appels' for dinner. My heart overflowed with joy, so to speak, and I started a full-volume rendition of "Till There was You," not paying much attention to the road.

There were bells on the hill, but I never heard them ringing,
No, I never heard them at all, till there was you.
There were birds in the sky, but I never saw them winging,
No, I never saw them at all, till there was you...

Right around that line (which happens to be rather high), I glanced up, and observed... some random stranger walking towards me, about five feet away.

So, at this point, do you stop singing and dive under the nearest bush, or do you assert your eccentricity with full volume?

I opted for eccentricity.

And there was music, and there were wonderful roses,
They tell me
, in sweet fragrant meadows of dawn and dew
There was love all around, but I never heard it singing,
No, I never heard it at all, till there was you.


In light of Leta's speech,

I have discovered myself to be a comma.

You Are a Comma

You are open minded and extremely optimistic.
You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything.
You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests.
You find it hard to turn down an opportunity, even if you are pressed for time.
Your friends find you fascinating, charming, and easy to talk to.
(But with so many competing interests, you friends do feel like you hardly have time for them.)
You excel in: Inspiring people
You get along best with: The Question Mark
What Punctuation Mark Are You?



Февраль. Достать чернил и плакать!
Писать о феврале навзрыд,
Пока грохочащая слякоть
Весною черною горит.

Достать пролетку. За шесть гривен
Чрез благовест, чрез клик колес
Перенестись туда, где ливень
Еще шумней чернил и слез.

Где, как обугленные груши,
С деревьев тысячи грачей
Сорвутся в лужи и обрушат
Сухую грусть на дно очей.

Под ней проталины чернеют,
И ветер криками изрыт,
И чем случайней, тем вернее
Слагаются стихи навзрыд.

Борис Пастернак, 1912

February. Get ink, shed tears.
Write of it, sob your heart out, sing,
While torrential slush that roars
Burns in the blackness of the spring.

Go hire a buggy. For six grivnas,
Race through the noice of bells and wheels
To where the ink and all you grieving
Are muffled when the rainshower falls.

To where, like pears burnt black as charcoal,
A myriad rooks, plucked from the trees,
Fall down into the puddles, hurl
Dry sadness deep into the eyes.

Below, the wet black earth shows through,
With sudden cries the wind is pitted,
The more haphazard, the more true
The poetry that sobs its heart out.

Boris Pasternak, 1912