...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Through the looking-glass

Today Andy and I rode out to meet Dad for lunch. It was probably the last time we'll do that, or at least the last time I'll do that, since I leave for Chile in less than two weeks. Riding home along the river, I started playing the This Time in Two Weeks game with myself; to wit:

1. This time in two weeks I'll be in Santiago, Chile with all the other estadounidenses.
2. This time in three weeks I'll be in Valparaíso, Chile with my host family.
3. Pimples that I have now, I will still have in two weeks.
4. The milk that my brother just bought yesterday from Dairy-Mart? It won't expire until after I've been gone for two days.
5. The next time I get my period, I'll have been in Chile for a while.
6. The next load of laundry I do will probably just be the clothes that I'm going to be packing.

Luckily, I still have time to do some important things:

1. I still have two weeks to talk with and do things with friends.
2. I still have two weeks in which I can read 3-5 books, depending on their lengths and my interest in them.
3. I still have to go to the dentist to get a filling (dammit).
4. I still have time for long bike rides along the river and work-out sessions at the gym, something I need to do, considering the early summer lethargy left its mark to the tune of about 5 pounds.
5. I still have time to go to several baseball games.
6. I still have time to see at least a couple bad movies at the dollar-fifty theater. (I still want to see Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous. Who's with me? Becca?)

Still. Two weeks. Wow!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K

Today I went to the local Rite Aid to price some toiletries, since sometimes they have better prices than Albertson's, and anyways, I always check drugstores to see if someone's got, like, a secret cache of o.b. regulars with applicator; I was practically devastated when that line went off the market. No luck on that front, but I did spend several minutes pondering the women's razors. And, frankly, I think things are out of control.

It's always easy to find the women's razors: just look for the fluorescent pink glow emanating from the shelves, and you're there. I've written before about the new Gillette Vibrance, but that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to razors. The fakey tokens of supposed femininity splashed all over the boxes are damn near sickening, and more than a little insulting to women: do we really need a razor named Daisy? To make our delicate little legs as soft as little flower petals? Does a woman's self esteem depend upon owning a razor named after a goddess? What's the thought progression there? "My razor's name is Venus. If I buy the purple one (a choice between purple, pink, and turquoise! God bless the free market) it's name is Venus Divine. Hey, maybe I'm a goddess of love, too!"

My favorite is the pink and purple Bic Soleil Twilight razor. First of all, the name? Smurf city. Second, on the package, it proclaims that the razor comes with a "Lavendar Scented Handle!" I mean, for one thing, I doubt it smells that strongly of lavendar, considering it's plastic and has been in a package for who knows how long, but more importantly, do women really...you know, sniff the handles of their razors? Do manufacturers think that women sniff the handles of their razors, or care at all that their razors smell faintly like a flower? Is this a selling point for any woman, anywhere? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

I'm pretty sure the men's razors are named things like "Razor;" guys, correct me if I'm wrong, but the Schick Quattro was the fanciest name I saw over on your side of aisle. And that brings me to my last point: I love the Schick Quattro for Women. It's pink, but the dark pinkiness is kind of tempered by gray metallic accents. There's something grimly determined and just a little scary about it, like a robot maid. It's not as flouncy as the other women's razors; it's just there to get the job done, dammit, and then maybe it's going to go kill some humans and take over the world, or whatever robot maids do.

On a somewhat related note, I love this entry of Gwen's.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Positive externalities are tasty

A conversation between my younger brother and me on the eve of his second-to-last day of eleventh grade:

Me: "Where are you going?"
Andy: "The the store. I need to get whipping cream and cocoa powder. Mom's making chocolate sauce for my final IB Economics project."
Me: "What does chocolate sauce have to do with economics?"
Andy: "It's a positive externality. I eat chocolate sauce and it puts me in a good mood, which is better for everyone around me. They benefit without any cost to them."

[Pause]

Me: "...That's the greatest line of bullshit I've ever heard to get Mom to make chocolate sauce."
Andy: "Hey, IB, therefore I b. s."

It feels as though summer is finally starting down here in the lower Willamette Valley. The weather is turning around--we've had at least two and half days of sun in a row! I love thunder and lightening, but I don't love riding my bike in the rain, so when the weather's bad, I have to rely on people with cars for transportation or just stay inside, and it pretty much sucks. But now it's getting better, yay.

Sarah and I went for a tango lesson Monday evening, which--revenge of the ocho cortada! I still have all the same problems and hang-ups I had with tango last summer, and since I haven't danced in almost a year, I'm rusty to boot. My biggest problem is that, as a follow, I try to anticipate what the lead is going to do and beat him to the step. (Maybe this problem has applications beyond the realm of dance.) Regardless, I had a great time. It was great to be dancing again.

The Eugene Emeralds, our minor-league baseball team, had their opening last night, and they won! The usual suspects were all there: Score Man and Jersey Boy (my dad and brother, who get their an hour before the gates open to dib our favorite general admission seats), YAK Man (Yells At Kids Man), We're Going Home Lady (so-named because she always threatens her kids, "We're going home!"), SOS Lady (Steals Our Seats Lady), Easy Out (A woman who always picks one player from the opposing team and yells when he comes up to bat, "Easy out!"), and Grandma (not our real grandma, just an elderly woman). I'm not wild about baseball, but spending an evening watching the Ems, who are young enough that they're just getting started in their careers and love the game, is always fun.

Finally, the volunteer meeting for the Migrant Summer School was this morning. I figured out that this will be my fifth summer volunteering for it! This time, Andy and my friend Sarah are going to volunteer as well. I can't wait. It starts the fifth of July, so I'll only be able to be there for the first week and a half before leaving for Chile.

Tango, baseball, and the migrant school are three of my favorite things about summer. I feel sad that they're just starting now--that the summer is being cut so short, that it took so long to get going, that I've spent so much time so far this summer feeling kind of bummed out about things. At least there's still three weeks to turn it around, right?

Sidenote to Peggy and Amy (and whoever else wants to chat: I didn't get online until about 2:15 this afternoon, so maybe I missed you two? I'll probably be on Messenger this evening around 11 or 12, and I'll try to be on tomorrow around 2 or so. From Friday to Tuesday, I'm going to be camping with my extended family and won't have internet access. My schedule is flexible, though, so let me know when you're going to be online and I'll be there.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I don't care for that term. I don't know too many monkeys who could take apart a fuel injector.

The Damn Hell Ass Kings sure have been busy lately writing things that make me laugh and nod in agreement, because nearly everything recently published on Tomato Nation, FameTracker, and Hissyfit has been gold, Jerry, gold! The latest installment of the Girl's Bike Club is my favorite yet; reading it reminded me of some of Amy's and my Messenger conversations, if we were each several times more knowledgeable about and obsessed with popular culture. Sars' Dear Retail Fashion Industry essay was hilarious and brilliant, and recently I've loved the Vine even more than I usually do.

On the FameTracker side of things, someone had to say it sooner or later: Lindsay Lohan has hit the wall big-time. In fact, not only has she hit the wall, but she's run right through it like the Roadrunner, leaving little clouds of plaster and an anorexic-shaped hole. Tom Cruise is scary-crazy, and Angelina Jolie is so beautiful that we would rather give up bottled water than live in a world without her.

But I think one of my favorite things was the hate mail that someone sent to Wing Chun. Ha!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

O ho lay dee odl lee o, o ho lay dee odl ay, O ho lay dee odl lee o, lay dee odl lee o lay

Re-reading the meme that I posted the other day, I thought of a legitmate reason that I would stop my wedding (#30): If my friends appeared at the back of the church singing a song called "How Do You Solve a Problem Called Jessica?"

You all could, however, serenade my husband-to-be and me with "The Lonely Goatherd,", because that song is awesome. A classic tale of the reality of the human condition...retold with puppets....and yodelling. I was trying to recreate the Lonely Goatherd scene for Becca the other day, and I may or may not have started yodelling out loud amongst the women's shoes at Target. (This was not the first time I have acted in age-inappropriate ways in a Target.)

There is nothing on earth that cannot be improved upon by the addition of yodelling.

Humility forces me to acknowledge that Amy's account of the last time we were drunk (#35) is much funnier and more accurate than mine:

35. The last time I was drunk, I : had a little get-together in my room with Chris L, Jess and Anna A. We prank IMed everyone who was signed on my buddy list, I wanted to race but no one would race me (cause they scared of my skillz), me and Jess wanted to watch the Baby-Sitters Club movie and Chris had even soberly AGREED to watch it with us, but I ended up watching Harry Potter 2 with sober people and despite the fact that he no longer lives in Akin, I signed Chris up for an Akin hall chore (which I seriously doubt he ever completed. How he ever legitimately checked out of LC is beyond me).

Chris, you can run but you can't hide. Sooner or later we're gonna make you watch the BSC movie. Also, Justin called, and he needs you to come back to Portland and clean the kitchen.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Yeah, Ko Ko. That chimp's alright. High five!

Meme from Gwen. It's a fill-in-the-blank. Take from it what you will.

1. My uncle once: Lived in a little town in northern Oregon called Liberal and ran the Free People’s Farm with my aunt.

2. Never in my life: Have I done my own taxes.

3. When I was five: I was a baby rat in the Eugene Ballet Company's annual production of The Nutcracker.

4. High school was: An interesting, sometimes frustrating, sometimes exciting way to spend four years.

5. Fire is: Mesmerizing.

6. I once saw: the guy who paints himself silver and stands like a statue around Pioneer Square, eating a meal in the Pioneer Place food court. Seeing him eating, still painted completely silver, made me feel sad. I think that until then, in some important way, I didn’t realize that he was a real person.

7. There’s this woman I know who: is a stay-at-home mother despite having a Ph. D in Economics from Oxford.

8. Once, at a bar: I spent too much money (by which I mean: any amount of money) playing a Canadian lottery game. And I didn’t win anything. I was with a large group of people, and we all tossed our used scratch-off tickets onto the table, creating a pile so high that before long I could barely see the Australian guy sitting across the table from me. Didn't stop us from hooking up later, though.

9. By noon I’m usually: showered and dressed, if I’m lucky. Hey, it’s the summer!

10. Last night: I watched QVC for forty-five minutes in a hotel room in Olympia and fought the desire to order some pantyhose. That was actually the night before last, but I filled this out last night and saved it on my computer to post today. (I guess that answers what I did last night.)

11. If I only had: More confidence.

12. Next time I go to church: I will have to face people who I haven’t seen for a year and who still think of me as the same person I was in high school. I'm not.

13. The best thing about my last relationship was: Adjusting this question for my lack of relationship experience, I would say that I’ve learned that there are worse things than not being in a relationship.

14. What worries me most: That I care about people more than they care about me. And that once my friends discover what a petty, spiteful person I really am, they won't want to be my friends any more.

15. When I turn my head left: I see a stone bust of some Greek or Roman dude wearing a black-and-white sombrero.

16. When I turn my head right: I see the remains of my dad’s ornithological library and my mom’s scrapbooking supplies.

17. You know I'm lying when: I bring something up, then say that it’s not important.

18. What I miss most about the eighties: Naptime.

19. If I were a character written by Shakespeare, I’d be: Stubborn and a little whiny, but with a heart of gold. Or maybe, you know, a tragic heroine. My kingdom for a fainting couch!

20. By this time next year: I will have much more interesting and funny “Once, at a bar” stories.

21. I have a hard time understanding: Why the girls who lived next door to me and down the hall acted the way they did last year.

22. You know I like you if: I'd ever rather be with you than be by myself. This is Grace's answer, but it's a good one.

23. If I won an award, the first person I’d thank would be: My mom, but really all of my family.

24. I'm reading: Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, the woman who did the voice of Violet in The Incredibles. It's part travelogue and part history--she travels around the country, visiting various sites associated with the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley.

25. Take my advice, never: Have a drunken heart-to-heart with someone who is sober. Especially when that person is your roommate and you have to face her every day.

26. My ideal breakfast is: Corn pops with skim milk, two cups of Murchie’s No. 10 blend black tea, and scrambled eggs. I would eat the cereal with my Light Up Saber Spoon that came in the box of Corn Pops I opened today. It's a plastic spoon with a handle shaped like a light saber, and when you press a button the spoon part lights up red. It's pretty much the best thing ever. My brother tried to dib it as soon as he saw it, but I was all, "Hey, whoever finds the prize first, gets to keep it."

37. If you visit my hometown, I suggest you go to: The Saturday Market, or the Oregon Country Fair, if you visit in mid-July.

28. Why doesn't everyone: Walk with purpose, so as not to meander, block, and annoy the fast-walkers behind them.

29. If you spend the night at my house: The cat is going to wake you up begging to be fed around 4am.

30. I’d stop my wedding: If there were any mention of changing my name. But hopefully that's the kind of detail you'd hammer out with your beloved ahead of time.

31. The world could do without: George W. Bush, Karl Rove, weapons of mass destruction, hatred, greed, slow-walkers, carrots, and Carrot Top.

32. My favorite blonde is: My brother. I guess he's a blond and not a blonde, but whatever. He's my brother and I love him.

33. If I do anything well, it’s: Listening to people with compassion.

34. And by the way: I miss you more than I can express.

35. The last time I was drunk, I: Really wanted to watch The Baby-Sitters Club movie, but ended up playing games and then drunk-IM’ing with Anna, Amy, and Chris.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Chile update, and more liberation theology

When all was said and done, presenting my visa documents (health certificate, HIV test results, police background check, etc) to the Chilean consular and getting the visa itself was the easiest part of the whole process. There was no wrasslin' involved at all. The Chilean consulate in San Francisco operates an outpost in Olympia, Washington; what they don't tell you on the consulate website is that it's run out of this guy's home office in his condominium. When we (my mom, who was helping me with the process, and I) found out, we were a little worried that it was some sort of sketchy operation, but as it turned out, it was all above-board and the consular was as nice as could be. It turns out that he's a Communications and Political Economy professor at Evergreen; while he was stamping the forms, Mom looked over the shelves and shelves of VHS tapes of documentaries he had made. She pointed out to me that many of them seemed to be about Vatican II, the Latin American Church, and liberation theology. I asked him what his connection was to liberation theology, and apparently he was right in the middle of the movement. In 1979 he was sent by the Canadian government (I didn't ask, but I assumed that he was exiled to Canada in 1973 after the coup) to Nicaragua to evaluate the Canadian-sponsored literacy program there, and during the revolution he worked right alongside Ernesto Cardenal, the priest and poet who led the movement in Nicaragua. The consular also studied and worked with Paolo Frei while he was at the University of Chile in Santiago. I mentioned having seen Gustavo Gutiérrez when he came to the University of Oregon in November, and he responded, "Oh yes, Gustavo. He's Peruvian. I know all those guys. We all run in the same circles." It just floored me.

Anyway, after he walked me through what to do with my visa forms after landing in Chile, and talking about how to stay safe and all of that, he asked if I had any questions and I asked him how I could go about continuing to study liberation theology in Chile. He said that a lot of the leaders of the movement were "in the closet"--they've moved underground--so it's a little harder to get involved in than it was in the 70s. Still, he gave me the name and contact information for one of his old professors at the University of Chile, and said that that guy would be able to put me in touch with more people.

Conclusion: Excited!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Woot (and shit)

The other day I spent a few minutes on the registrar's page, figuring out what classes I'm going to take next spring, after getting back from Chile. Really, I was already sure what I wanted to take--promises to Cyrus and advising sessions with Prof. "Don't Burn Out" Kugler had cemented that decision awhile ago--but I needed to make sure that everything fit together and there were no overlaps.

And oh, it's so good. Check it: If all goes according to plan, I'll be taking two religious studies classes (Introduction to Buddhism and Seminar in Biblical Studies: Social and Religious World of Early Judaism and Christianity), one Spanish class (490, Special Topics), one international affairs class (US Foreign Policy), and one English class (Creative Nonfiction Writing). I'm psyched about all those classes, but the best part is that on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays my earliest class will be at 12:40! Sh-sh-sha! Someone's sleeping in!

Tuesdays and Thursdays I'll have a 9:40-11:10, but then I'm free until 1:50, so really, that's enough time for lunch and a nap. Thursdays will be killer: 9:40-11:10, 1:50-3:20, and 3:30-5:00 (damn those Monday/Thursday classes; I truly hate that time slot), but that's a happy trade-off for being able to sleep until 10:00, shower, get dressed, work for an hour, and still make it to lunch by 11:30 three days a week. At least that meal, I'll probably be eating in the Bon, so I really hope all of you LC students will have time for lunch next spring. Plus, I, you know, lucked out roommate-wise, so all in all, I'm looking forward to spring semester. Not so much that I'm not going to enjoy Chile, obviously, and actually, it feels strange to even think about spring semester, considering all that will happen before then.

Speaking of which, tomorrow my mom and I are heading up to Olympia, WA, to wrassle with the Chilean consulate. Hopefully I'll be back Monday with 100% more visa! Until then.

Quote of the Day, courtesy of my cousin Skylar: "Wow, it's like a party in my mouth, and everyone's throwing up!"

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Dreaming in Chilean

I had this weird dream that I was in this little newspaper shop in Northwest Portland, trying to buy a copy of El Mercurio, Chile's national newspaper. It was like 3:40pm in my dream, and I had to get back to Pioneer Square by 4 to catch the shuttle back up to campus. This little shop had all the newspapers from every Latin American country under glass, and I think maybe it sold cigars too because it was pretty smoky in there. Two women entered the shop right before me and the girl working the counter thought that we were all together because I was just sort of standing next to them. An old man suggested that I "hacer una fila," which according to Google means "to make a row" but in my crazy dreamworld meant to line up. Another girl came into the store and I told her I was the end of the line. It turned out that she was part of the LC group going to Chile and was a little insulted that I didn't recognize her right away. I told her how nervous I was, and she said that she wasn't nervous at all. Oh.

Finally the two women in front of me left and I bought a copy of El Mercurio. The counter girl didn't charge me. She told me that she was studying German at Portland State and that we should get together sometime.

I was speaking Spanish in the dream, so that's good, right? And I'm a little impressed with my dreamself for remember that the Chilean newspaper is called El Mercurio.

I watched you slowly disappear
Down into the officer's club
I woulda followed you in the door
But I didn't have a ticket stub.
So I waited all night, till the break of day
Hoping one of us could get free
Oh when the dawn came over the morning bridge
I knew that it was up to me.


-"Up to Me," Bob Dylan

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Die Welt ist so wundervoll*

A solitary bike ride along the river this afternoon reminded me of all I love about Eugene. The first genuinely nice day since I’ve been back in town—I wasn’t wearing sandals but I could have been. Children playing in the play structures just across the bike bridge from Valley River Center. Barefooted hippie mothers carrying babies in hemp slings. Latina women pushing strollers, black-haired children chasing blossoms blowing off of the trees. Man in a white turban and robe wading in the river. Teenagers picnicking in the park and cheerily waving to bikers passing by. Middle-aged men and women powerwalking in pairs. The river, sparkling blue and pure.

Quote of the Day from Nick Horny's column "Stuff I've Been Reading" in The Believer: "Earlier today I was in a bookstore, and I picked up a new book about the migration patterns of the peregrine falcon. For a moment, I ached to buy it--or rather, I ached to be the kind of person who would buy it, read it, and learn something from it."

It's funny 'cause it's true.

*Okay, so I have this song on my iTunes: Fidelio Act 1: Mir Ist so Wundebar by Beethoven. And all this time, I thought it meant "The world is so wonderful." I wanted to call this post that, but just to be safe, I decided to Google the phrase first, and it turns out it means "Me is so woundable." What? So I have to admit that I have absolutely no idea what the song is about, because for a year and a half I've thought that it was about four people singing about how wonderful the world is. I kind of wish I hadn't found out the truth. Maybe I'll retitle it "Die Welt ist so wundervoll."

One of those photo posts that takes forever to load and screws up everything else on the page

I want to write more about my experiences at Broetje Orchards in Eastern Washington. It was a pretty significant experience, and now that I've put some time between myself and it, I think that it's time to write up some reflections. So expect a fairly lengthy post in the next couple of days, and it'll probably be religiously-oriented. But, you know, please don't be afraid to comment even if you're not religious, or if you disagree with some element of my beliefs, or if you think I haven't given proper consideration to some theological idea--I mean, please, post away. Sometimes I think that people are scared off from responding to my more churchy posts. I promise you won't offend me if you respond thoughtfully, even if you disagree. And really, that goes for any of my posts.

Anyways. Here are some pretty pretty pictures! Sorry they're so small, but the bigger size screwed up my sidebar. If you want to see bigger versions of these, or if, say, you want to zoom in on the ginormous scar on my right shin (see picture four, and you'll know what I'm talking about), then feel free to check out my Flickr account. My username is Marenka. Also...hmm. You can't really see the scar in photo four. You'll just have to trust me that it's there, and it's seriously like two inches long. Never try to shave your legs dry, girls.

Our group from Lewis & Clark: Kristin (the leader, on staff with InterVarsity, Matt, Anna, and me. Check out the rainbow behind us! We're standing in front of Jubilee Youth Ranch. More on that below.

lc

E and S, two of the little girls in my class. Are they not adorable? E, the one on the left, looks just like my little cousin D, if he were a Mexican girl. She was also very smart. Like, they were working on unit conversions, and Mr. K asked me to help her, since she had just moved to Broetje and was a little behind. I looked at her worksheet, and one of the questions was (seriously): "8 bushels = ? pecks." Is this common knowledge? I didn't even know there was a unit of measurement called a peck. So I was all, "Um...," not sure how to help her, and she busted out with "There are 4 bushels in a peck." Or however many there were. I don't remember. I just remember that a peck is bigger than a bushel. She was also a whiz at long division. Helping her with math made me confront the sad, sorry fact that I never actually learned my all of my sevens or my eights. But now I know them, and I'm only twenty! Huzzah.

es

Playing with E and S. This is my new Facebook profile picture.

play

All the girls of our group. From left to right: Anna, Joy, Larissa, me, and Kaci. This was taken in the cafeteria of Jubilee Youth Ranch, where we ate most of our meals. Jubilee is a court-ordered alternative to prison for delinquent teenage boys. All the guys I spoke to, though, were incredibly sweet--it was hard to imagine them doing anything wrong. Then, in conversation, they'd casually mention "slanging" (dealing drugs) or something. It was interesting and pretty eye-opening. Anyways, we're all dressed up because we went to church that day. Check out how shiny my legs are--you'd never know that I hadn't shaved in over a month. God bless you, light hair.

girls

Monday, June 06, 2005

Clearing out the end-of-semester quote chest

I had been meaning to record these for posterity but never got around to it during the actual, you know, semester. Two eProps to you if you can tell me who was drunk off their ass and who was sober when they said these!

Peggy: "Nooooo! No es la pravda!"

Amy: "Oh! I'm spilling all over me!"

Matt S: "British is almost Russian."

Alex: "I wouldn't want to be touched or felt by Robin Williams."

Everybody watching Motorcycle Diaries: "Motorcycles are cool," "Wow, I wish I had a motorcycle," etc.
Peggy: "I wish I had a cow. I would name it Jemima...Jemima Smokeyfish."
Me: "MIMEY!! I'm going to call you Mimey from now on."
Peggy: "Aw, I've never had a nickname before."

Matt: "Men are gross. We're disgusting. I don't know how you girls do anything with us. If I were a girl, I'd be the biggest lesbian slut ever. And I'd be a man-hater too."

Anna: "You were on 20/20?...You met Barbra Streisand?"

Sunday, June 05, 2005

I couldn't make this up if I tried

So, the other day I was at the local Goodwill searching for old Baby-Sitters Club books and other cheap paperbacks. After exhausting the shelves of legitimate books I turned to the three-for-a-buck bargain tables, which normally hold only old diet books, Suzanne Somers exercise guides, and trashy romances. As I skimmed over financial planning guides from the 1980s, a book caught my eye. The Godwhale it proclaimed in blue psychadelic 1970s lettering across the lime-green spine. I read the back of the book, and I laughed, then set it back down and prepared to leave. Then, out of curiousity, I turned the book over to see the cover, and started to hyperventilate. I needed this book!

Friends, I present to you the back-cover summary of The Godwhale, written in 1974 by T. J. Bass, a pseudonym if I ever heard one. I think it goes without saying that this is [sic] throughout:

WONDER WHALE [Also in blue psychadelic letters. All of this is on the same sick lime-green background]

Rorqual Maru was a cyborg--part organic whale, part mechanized ship...and part god. She was a harvester--a vast plankton rake, now without a crop--abandoned by Earth Society when the seas died.

So she selected an island for her grave hoping to keep her carcass visible for possible salvage. Although her long ear heard nothing, she believed that Man still lived in his Hive.
[I swear to God I'm not making this up. No shit, his Hive!] If he should ever return to the sea she wanted to serve. She longed for the thrill of Man's bare feet touching the skin of her deck. She missed the hearty hails, the sweat and the laughter.

She needed Man!


The critically acclaimed sequel to Half Past Human.

Is that awesome, or what? But it just gets better. The cover....oh, the cover. I kind of want to rip the cover off, take it to Kinkos, get it blown up, and make it a poster for my room. The best part is where it says that the books is An engrossing tale of a mechanical harvester without a crop and a man without a body--in a world without a future!

I'm not actually going to read The Godwhale, but for thirty-three cents, could you pass it up? After all, how many times have you guys heard me say it: if there's one thing I love, it's dystopic worlds-of-the-future where robotic whale-gods roam the seas and people live in underwater pods. Now that's the frontier science for me!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Tikkun olam (And the question is, what do Dorothy Day, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Etty Hillesum, and Jim Wallis have in common?)

Sorry for any whiplash caused by the proximity of this post to the previous two, but it can't always be about boobs and the Baby-Sitters Club.

I want to start this entry by quoting a part of the 1951 inaugural discourse of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, seventh Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic Jewish community and spiritual leader of hundreds of thousands. I'm taking the quotation out of The Rebbe's Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch by Sue Fishkoff, which I've been reading for the past week:

"When it all began, Heaven was here on Earth.
The physical plane, more than any of the higher spiritual worlds, was the place where the Divine Presence yearned to be.

But Man, step by step, banished the Divine Presence from its home, with a tree of knowledge, with a man who murdered his brother, with all those things that human beings do...

Since Man chased it away, only Man can bring it back. And this began with Abraham, who proclaimed Oneness for all the world.

And it ends with us. Our generation will bring Heaven back down to Earth.
"

In Hebrew, tikkun olam means the mending or the repairing of the world. In traditional Jewish theology, a belief in tikkun olam means believing that it is up to the Jews, God's chosen people, to repair the world that humanity has destroyed--to bring Heaven back down to Earth. For the Chabad-Lubavitch (who by no means represent all Jews, all Orthodox Jews, or even all Hasidic Jews), this means encouraging Jews who have forgotten their heritage to reclaim their Jewish identities and to practice mitzvot, God's commandments. The Chabadniks and Lubavitchers believe that if all the Jews of the world kept the Sabbath for three weeks in a row, the spiritual power of that action would be so great that it would bring Mosiach, the Messiah.

But tikkun olam doesn't necessarily have to be so traditional, so Hasidic. It isn't necessarily about black-hatted men asking passers-by if they put on teffilin that morning, or slichot setting up Chabad Houses on university campuses and lighting huge menorahs. I don't think it even has to be Jewish. As a Christian, I can't even begin to describe the spiritual power that the concept of tikkun olam holds for me, except to say that when I first learned about it, in last semester's Introduction to Judaism class, it was as though a jolt of electricity went through me. It was like when I first learned about liberation theology, or postmillenialism: suddenly it all made sense, and just for a moment, everything was clear. Just as with liberation theology and postmillenialism, tikkun olam made sense on such a level that I felt as though I had always known the concept to the true, and was just waiting for someone to teach me its name. Sustantively true. True with a capital T. I've half-way decided that when I graduate from college, I'm going to get a tattoo of the Hebrew letters for tikkun olam, as a permanent reminder of my Religious Studies education and what I feel is my mission in the world. It's the only thing that I've come across so far that's worth getting tattooed on my body.

Because, really: liberation theology? Postmillenialism? Tikkun olam? They're all basically the same concept. Liberation theology holds that Christians and other faith communities are called to stand in solidarity with the poor and oppressed and work to bring about God's justice for oppressed communities; in other words, to bring about God's reign of social justice. Postmillenialism, which had its heyday among evangelical Protestants and Catholics like Dorothy Day in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, maintains that Christ will return to Earth only after the millenium, the thousand-year reign of peace, justice, and prosperity that we imperfect humans have worked to bring about. Each step towards creating a better, deeper, higher, more just, more peaceful, more compassionate society, then, is a step towards fulfilling our ultimate purpose in the world.

You all know that I look to Etty Hillesum for much of my spiritual inspiration. For my final Judaism paper, I explored the aspects of Etty's Jewish identity, since she's often "accused" of "not sounding Jewish" in her prayers and religious mediations, since she, like much of Dutch Jewry, was so secularized. And yet--and yet. Etty volunteered to be sent to a concentration camp, because she felt that she could minister to the prisoners there. To minister to God! To clear a space inside others and inside of herself for God. She wrote, "Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world."

Next February, Tikkun magazine is going to be holding a conference in Washington, DC on spiritual activism. I'm going to be there.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Okay, so I rigged it to get Mary Anne. Still.

MARYANNE - TIMID SEXPOT
SECRETARY - MARY ANN SPIER - Although you are an
extremely dull and anal retentive person who
rarely speaks, you make up for it by being a
steamy sexpot in disguise. Beneath your plaid
jumper and innocent schoolgirl exterior there
hides a 4 alarm slut with an insatiable desire
for S - E - X... the kinkier the better! Don't
worry, Mary Anne, we won't tell.


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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I always suspected that they were remarkable

Warning: frank discussion of my girly parts ahead.

Today I had to go to my doctor, who happens to be the middle-aged father of one of my brother's best friends, to get a certificate of good health for my Chile visa application. During the breast exam portion of the physical, we engaged in this somewhat awkward exchange:

Dr. S, feeling me up: "Wow. Your breasts are remarkably smooth."
Me: "......"
Dr. S: "When was your last period?"
Me: "Um, right now."
Dr. S: "Most gals, they get their periods, their breasts get lumpy. But you have remarkably smooth breast tissue."
Me: "Thanks....?"
Dr. S: "Keep doing your monthly self-exams. You get a lump, you're going to know it right away. Your tissue is great."
Me: "Oh....great!"

Nice work, girls.