Nothing Gold

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. -Robert Frost

My Photo
Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

I am a white American middle class suburban housewife trying desperately to tell herself that that is not who she is. One time I was a glowing young ruffian. Oh my God it was a million years ago.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

On Freedom


Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.

Is a strong seed
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.

Langston Hughes

Sunday, July 24, 2005

On Tradition

I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school (K-8) where there was a very Dead Poet's Society-like emphasis on tradition. Of course I rebelled against it in high school and embraced a noncomformist point of view based somewhat on my very limited reading of Thoreau. I also liked the science/philosophy technique of questioning everything and making no assumptions. I have since been wary of anything that is done purely for tradition's sake.
I look at religions/denominations that attempt to push their traditions on everyone and it boggles my mind. I have always had a really hard time understanding why they would place so much importance on tradition.
For example, I was an altar girl, but my stepdad made me quit when he found out that the Pope thought that there shouldn't be altar girls because girls can't become priests. I asked why girls couldn't become priests and the only answer anyone could give me was, "It's always been that way."
That was never a satisfactory answer to me, and I'm sure that the Catholic Church actually has a better reason, but none of my Catholic superiors knew about it.
Now my church is considering a name change. Many of us are very reluctant to change it. It's a four year tradition. It goes against many of my thought-out beliefs to make myself see where those reluctants are coming from, but I can. I completely can. I am coming to an understanding that tradition is not only about being afraid of change and about doing things in the same way as those who came before you. It is about heritage and about feeling a connection to the past and about honoring where you came from. I don't pretend that this is a sudden, name-change-based revelation. I have grown up to this realization through learning about my own past and heritage and that of my husband and his family. The name-change issue helps me to put words to this realization.
I guess growing up starts to blend the blacks and whites that youth sets out. I see now that, while it is important to "question everything," sometimes the answer you return is, "There is no reason to do this other than tradition, and that's okay. I can enjoy tradition for tradition's sake." I also still believe that sometimes we do need to let go of tradition in order to make way for something better.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

On a Smile

I just had the worst grocery shopping trip in recent memory. Everything took way too long to find. I am having a scatterbrained day and between trying to find what I needed and trying to keep Levi entertained, we were quite slow moving. The general sense of ennui that I felt upon entering the store changed gradually to stress as time passed and Levi grew ready to leave. The last thing I wanted to get was shrimp, but the seafood counter was closed. I had a cart full of stuff, much of which was supposed to go with the shrimp and Levi was very antsy to leave. I decided to forget about the shrimp and buy my stuff and go home and think about the shrimp later. I didn't even think to buy frozen. Anyway, I got in line, with Levi complaining loudly and had half unloaded my cart when the check-out lady said, "Ma'am, did you know that you are in the express lane?" I thought, "shit", and said "Oh, I'm so sorry,I didn't realize" and started to reload my cart. Schuyler was already waiting for me to pick him up and Levi was yelling and trying to get out. I smiled at the people in line behind me as I left the line and apologized. All three of them gave me really dirt looks as I moved, teary-eyed, into the next line. I had already had a really bad day and one commiserating smile would have meant so much to me.
Moral: the next time the idiot in front of you in line doesn't belong there, give her the benefit of the doubt. She is probably having a worse day than you. One smile might go a long way towards brightening her day.
I am doing much better now. I picked up my husband and he was very sweet and supportive, although I burst into tears when he suggested going to another store for the shrimp. He said that he didn't mind at all about the wait and came up with a funny story to distract me. We had a nice low-key dinner together, I had a piece of chocolate and I feel much better. Also Levi did something mischevous that made me laugh out loud.

On a Baby

Étude Réaliste

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)

A BABY’S feet, like sea-shells pink,
Might tempt, should Heaven see meet,
An angel’s lips to kiss, we think,
A baby’s feet.

Like rose-hued sea-flowers toward the heat 5
They stretch and spread and wink
Their ten soft buds that part and meet.

No flower-bells that expand and shrink
Gleam half so heavenly sweet
As shine on life’s untrodden brink 10
A baby’s feet.

A baby’s hands, like rosebuds furl’d,
Whence yet no leaf expands,
Ope if you touch, though close upcurl’d,
A baby’s hands. 15

Then, even as warriors grip their brands
When battle’s bolt is hurl’d,
They close, clench’d hard like tightening bands.

No rosebuds yet by dawn impearl’d
Match, even in loveliest lands, 20
The sweetest flowers in all the world—
A baby’s hands.

A baby’s eyes, ere speech begin,
Ere lips learn words or sighs,
Bless all things bright enough to win 25
A baby’s eyes.

Love, while the sweet thing laughs and lies,
And sleep flows out and in,
Lies perfect in them Paradise.

Their glance might cast out pain and sin, 30
Their speech make dumb the wise,
By mute glad godhead felt within
A baby’s eyes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

On Church Naming

In honor of List Tuesday:
We are thinking of renaming our church so here is my list of names:
1. Hogwarts Church of Witchcraft and Wizardry
2. Deanna's Free-Thinking Church All-Stars
3. Coruscant
4. Former Evangelical Fundamentalist Support Group
5. Arsmay Illhay (You know we like the Latin)

Hope you like them.

Friday, July 15, 2005

On Premature Aging

Lately I feel like I'm getting kind of old. I realize that at 25 I am still quite young and spring chicken-esque, but man am I getting to be lame! (I write this with a smile on my face). My Lover for Life recently bought tickets to go see one of his favorite bands at the 9:30 club. My first reaction was cool! that'll be really fun! But then I started to think about it. "Hold on, I haven't been to any kind of club in several years. Not since before I was pregnant. I don't know what to wear. Won't there be lots of really cool young kids there? Do I need a hip, fresh haircut and some sexy clothes? I'm not even sure how to go about getting those things. Maybe I just shouldn't go. I can hang out at home with my son and watch Here Come the ABC's. If we want to get a little crazy we can order Indian food. If we want to go out on a date we can go to a restaurant or some kind of quiet brewery pub and have a few drinks and some nice conversation."
I actually have been considering using Levi as an excuse to not go. "I don't know, we'll be out pretty late, I'm not sure he'll go to bed with anyone else."
This is actually somewhat of a real concern, but I don't think I'd be as worried about it if I were really looking forward to going out.
Anyway, I have decided to work past my lameness and go and enjoy myself. I will probably wear jeans and a tshirt with my regular-person hair. I may put on a little extra makeup and I will try my best to feel sexy and to enjoy the music and not to worry about Levi more than once or twice.

On Waiting

I don't know if this comic strip is very good usually, but I can relate to today's. I'm so psyched, only one more day!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

On A Good Employee

Yesterday, my blue prince told me that his boss, who is in town for a conference, pulled him aside and told him that he is doing a really good job. This from a guy who is rumoured by employees not to ever give out praise. So if you see the brickman, give him a pat on the back for a job well done.

On Self-Blessing

Saint Francis And The Sow

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
-Galway Kinnell

For Poetry Thursday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

On Guilt

Is it just me or is any one else plauged with a general vague sense of guilt a lot of the time? Yesterday, Levi was playing with rice outside and a lot of it ended up on the grass. I've heard that rice can kill birds and I felt vaugely guilty about it, but didn't do anything. When the garbage is full I look at it and feel guilty. How can such a small family produce so much trash? We recycle cans and bottles, but still throw away a lot of stuff (much of which is junk mail). I'll notice a light on downstairs, and feel bad about it, but be too lazy to go down there to turn it off. When I really want a long shower, I feel bad about it, but take one anyway. When I see a homeless person sleeping in a doorway, I feel bad, but don't know what to do. When a car is pulled over on the freeway, I want to stop and help but I am usually past by the time I realize it. Then I feel bad for not stopping. Motherhood has only compounded this. Levi is watching Elmo right now and I feel bad for not playing with him (even though he doesn't want to play). I feel bad for not brushing him regularly (see post on The Life of Levi). I feel bad for nursing him too much. I feel guilty that he does not have a very good nap schedule.
I'm just wondering if other people feel this way. Am I crazy, or do I have very low self-esteem? I don't really think so. By the way, this sounds more negative than the reality. I'm usually a fairly happy person.

Monday, July 11, 2005

On why that story makes me cry

I posted a short story by Hans Christian Andersen before (see post below). I told you that it always makes me cry. I have been thinking about why this is and have decided to write about it, although it seems very personal. I know that the plot isn't what gets me. The other day, I thought of this story and went looking for my collected Hans Christian Andersen, and wondered to myself how that story could have made me cry before. I figured that I had grown less sentimental over time. However, when I found the book and read the story, I began to cry again.
I think that the main reason stems from this: I have been told over and over that Jesus loves me. I have been told that, however much I love my husband or my son or anyone else, Jesus loves me infinitely more. I believe this, but it hardly ever really hits home. If this idea were to truly hit home, it should knock me down, slap me in the face, bring-me-to-my-knees. (Please insert dramatic pause).
I am a bit of a sucker for poetic prose, and the way this story uses language to bring this message closer to home really gets to me. It may not quite knock me to my knees, but it certainly makes me reach out to grab hold of something. I imagine that if I knew Danish, the effect of the original would be even stronger.

Friday, July 08, 2005

On The Loveliest Rose in the World

This is going to be a rather long post, because it will contain an entire short story. The story is by Hans Christian Andersen and I cry every time I read it. I have a hard time explaining why. This post will contain the story in English translation and perhaps later posts will explore the reasons it makes me cry.

The Loveliest Rose in the World
Once there reigned a Queen, in whose garden were found the most glorious flowers at all seasons and from all the lands in the world; but especially she loved roses, and therefore she possessed the most various kinds of this flower, from the wild dog-rose, with the apple-scented green leaves, to the most splendid Provence rose. They grew against the earth walls, wound themselves round pillars and window-frames, into the passages, and all along the ceiling in all the halls. And the roses were various in fragrance, form, and colour.
But care and sorrow dwelt in these halls: the Queen lay upon a sick-bed, and the doctors declared that she must die.
"There is still one thing that can serve her," said the wisest of them.
"Bring her the loveliest rose in the world, the one which is the expression of the brightest and purest love; for if that is brought before her eyes ere they close, she will not die."
And young and old came from every side with roses, the loveliest that bloomed in each garden; but they were not the right sort. The flower was to be brought out of the garden of Love; but what rose was it there that expresses the highest and purest love?
And the poets sang of the loveliest rose in the world, and each one named his own; and intelligence was sent far round the land to every heart that beat with love, to every class and condition, and to every age.
"No one has till now named the flower," said the wise man. "No one has pointed out the place where it bloomed in its splendour. They are not the roses from the coffin of Romeo and Juliet, or from the Walburg's grave, though these roses will be ever fragrant in song. They are not the roses that sprouted forth from Winkelried's blood-stained lances, from the blood that flows in a sacred cause from the breast of the hero who dies for his country; though no death is sweeter than this, and no rose redder than the blood that flows then. Nor is it that wondrous flower, to cherish which man devotes, in a quiet chamber, many a sleepless night, and much of his fresh life -- the magic flower of science."
"I know where it blooms," said a happy mother, who came with her pretty child to the bed-side of the Queen. "I know where the loveliest rose of the world is found! The rose that is the expression of the highest and purest love springs from the blooming cheeks of my sweet child when, strengthened by sleep, it opens its eyes and smiles at me with all its affection!"
"Lovely is this rose; but there is still a lovelier," said the wise man.
"Yes, a far lovelier one," said one of the women. "I have seen it, and a loftier, purer rose does not bloom. I saw it on the cheeks of the Queen. She had taken off her golden crown, and in the long dreary night she was carrying her sick child in her arms: she wept, kissed it, and prayed for her child as a mother prays in the hour of her anguish."
"Holy and wonderful in its might is the white rose of grief; but it is not the one we seek."
"No, the loveliest rose of the world I saw at the altar of the Lord," said the good old Bishop. "I saw it shine as if an angel's face had appeared. The young maidens went to the Lord's Table, and renewed the promise made at their baptism, and roses were blushing, and pale roses shining on their fresh cheeks. A young girl stood there; she looked with all the purity and love of her young spirit up to heaven: that was the expression of the highest and the purest love."
"May she be blessed!" said the wise man; "but not one of you has yet named to me the loveliest rose of the world."
"Mother!" cried the little boy, "only hear what I have read."
And the child sat by the bed-side, and read from the book of Him who suffered death on the Cross to save men, and even those who were not yet born.
"Greater love is there not--"
And a roseate hue spread over the cheeks of the Queen, and her eyes gleamed, for she saw that from the leaves of the book there bloomed the loveliest rose, that sprang from the blood of CHRIST shed on the Cross.
"I see it!" she said: "he who beholds this, the loveliest rose on earth, shall never die."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

On Harry Potter

There are less than 11 days to go until Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (HBP) arrives at my door and I am extremely excited. Now, now, gentle reader, I can only allow you to pooh-pooh me on this if you have read at least one of the books yourself and are not excited about HBP (seeing the films doesn't count). I was once in the boat beside you. My sister read the books and said, "Read them, they're awesome".
My husband read the books and said, "Read them, you'll really like them."
I said "Ha, those are kids' books and you like them, and I don't so I am cooler than you, ha ha ha."
Then, when there were four published books, I found myself with nothing to do and picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I read it in less than a day and was hooked. I found myself, four days later scouring the town for book number four at 11 at night and came to a realization: I had become a Harry Potter geek.
Now, with a week and a half to go before I can read HBP I regularly seek out like minded souls with spectacularly outlandish theories about what will happen in the series. I can't read enough editorials on my favorite characters and news updates about the movements of the great JK Rowling. Now, I have not yet succumbed to the nostrum of fan fiction in order to get my Harry, Ron and Hermione fix. Nor am I obsessed enough to buy Harry Potter bedding and/or wallpaper, but I am not above downloading a Harry Potter themed screen saver and diligently counting the days until July 16.

Monday, July 04, 2005

On my blog

I have decided to start my own blog. My handsome consort was having such fun with his new blog that I decided to try my hand at it. I'm not sure exactly why the idea of putting my thoughts online as opposed to in a regular pen-and-ink journal appeals to me, but it does. I suppose that something in me wants complete strangers to read it and say,
"Hey, this girl is interesting! and clever! and witty!" but I think (and hope) that it is something more than that. I think that part of the appeal is that I don't have to be interesting. I can write my thoughts on this site knowing that my dear friends can read it and learn more about me. I also know that they are allowed to skim through it, or skip parts, or not read it at all. This gives me the freedom to go into as much depth as I want, more depth than I probably would in person, or in email for fear of boring my confidant. Yes, that is where the appeal lies, and that is what the purpose of my blog will be. I intend to attempt to allow those who want to to get to know me better to do it here. I will put bits of myself in this online journal so that my dear friends can read it, or not.