The Writing Itch

June 9, 2011 at 6:15 pm (Uncategorized)

I am filling in for the receptionist, Pat, at our law firm at the moment. My fingers just want to write something, so I am writing this blog.

I suppose I could write something about what I have been thinking all day– hold on let me answer the phone– Sometimes I wonder what people are really thinking about me, do I talk to much? Am I too loud? Just a little while ago I was told about something I was doing wrong. It wasn’t a big deal to them, but to me… I still get crushed, I have since I was a little kid. –Just a second let me send this fax– Everyone has been so nice, but I have now been at Gallivan long enough for the “new” is wearing off, I’m falling into the pace.

I really love my job, but figuring how workplace people like to opperate, like when to speak to them and when to keep your mouth shut, well… that’s the real hard part. It’s especially difficult for me because I love finding out who people are, trying to know everything about them (and then there are always those ones you want to know more about), every story, memory, favorite pet, I want to know it all. When you listen to another person tell their stories, you’re listening to their soul speaking, and it’s painting a picture on your mind of what it looks like on the inside. So listen carefully or you might just miss some of the most incredible things about people. Anyway, I’m having trouble reining in my instinctual curiosity, and that is very hard.

That was a very long side-track from what I have been thinking all day, of course, thoughts are always like spaghetti noodles with me, they all touch. I’ve been thinking today how much I just want to be writing. I finished chapter 4 last night. It’s finominal… I mean I like it. Granted, it does have some bugs to work out, but I’ll get those in editing. I keep thinking about them, my characters, Grant and Katie (no I won’t tell you what it’s about just yet), I hear things that they are going to say to each other, some mean things and some sweet things, and I feel what they are feeling. I’m walking around with another world in my body that’s different from the one that I’m walking around in. It’s so weird.. and magical. But then “Piere the Copiere” with his jamming and blinking reminds me that I am still on earth and that I have still have a job to do, and there are still six hours til I can go home to my real work and get these thoughts out of my head. Six hours and five sets of swim lessons… But I’m not even going to talk about swim lessons.

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Country Love in a City Girl

January 28, 2011 at 4:32 am (Stories from the Everyday)

I always get antsy the last few miles, and my foot likes to be close to the floor on those country roads. Packhouse Road is only 55 mph– except for the half-mile stretch in front of Community Christian School where I went for a few grades in high school. I remember what the school looked like when it was just a soybean field on the way to the interstate.

Four hours driving from Charleston, SC, had been torture. I knew Ma and Pa, my country parents, would be furious if they knew I’d been speeding, but Pa was cookin’ ribs– and I was going home.

When I was twelve, my family moved to Wilson, NC. The memory of driving away from the big city of Charlotte is still clear in my mind. All I knew was Daddy was going to be the Senior Pastor at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. I had never seen anything flatter in my life than Wilson, NC, especially out where we lived in New Hope. Our home was the church parsonage before you get to the New Hope ball fields, and we lived there until I was seventeen.

Wilson, North Carolina would be the place where I’d discover that I hated softball, but loved swimming; where I’d fall in love for the first time, and have my heart broken; where I’d finally have my chance to ride horses; pick strawberries for the first time; go to 4H auctions in the spring; and spend summer days on the lake. And the tiny town of New Hope is where I would meet Ma and Pa after babysitting their grandkids, and they would nearly adopt me as their own daughter.

New Hope was where I tried to fry chicken when I was fourteen, and the whole town knew it when they heard the sirens from the station all the way to my house– luckily the fire chief lived next door. (To this day, I still pray when I hear sirens because they might just be going to the house of a little girl who let the grease get too hot.)

During the spring and summer, I learned to watch the cotton grow in the field across the street from my house. It’s sort of magical how the creamy white clouds sprout off of the brown, dead-looking stalks.  Tobacco, soybeans, cotton, corn: I can name them all as they pass in my car windows. I don’t know what it is about tobacco season that makes the air so sweet especially as the sun is setting, but riding with the windows down, even now when I go back, still puts me in a mood, or maybe it’s just me falling under the country spell.

That place loved me. Even though I was a city girl. I’m ashamed now to look back and think that I had been happy to leave, to fly the coop of that small town; I didn’t even look in my rear-view mirror when I left.

I was determined to build my intellectual skyscrapers, while looking down my nose at the same types of people that had been my heroes. I believed I was safe in my fortress of pride cushioned by my big city dreams. The funny thing about skyscrapers though… sometimes the Lord allows two planes to bring them back down to size– it makes the world feel like it’s ending.

It took me standing in the rubble of my own wisdom to realize that all the couture clothing in the world doesn’t take away loneliness or make you someone different, and being the smartest person around doesn’t keep you from being hurt.

Now all I know is this one thing: love for other people is the only lasting currency. A love grown more often than not in the black soil of Wilson, North Carolina.

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Amazing Grace: You Get it?

April 25, 2010 at 1:14 am (Poetic Notations)

I’m sitting here at my desk in my sweatshirt and house-pants (radically different from pajama pants but just as comfortable) with every lamp in the room creating a golden glow that bounces of the bright colors and posters of my dorm room. From my desk, the view through the window is hazy from the wind that’s blowing the rain sideways. The leaves are sticking to the pavement, like a kindergartner’s “first leaves of spring” project that is shining with the overambitious use of Elmer’s stick-glue.

I’ve been thinking so much about grace today, the grace that I don’t even notice. See, I could be standing out there in that rain with no bulky sweatshirt and no comfy house-pants, who knows what I would be wearing, but you get the picture– I would have nothing. It is a gift that God put me in a loving middle-class family in the wealthiest nation in the world, I have a car, and I am getting a good education… Even though I am at this moment I’m procrastinating on a paper.

And yet, even if I were out there in the cold and the gloom, it would still be a gift to simply be human. God is not going to take on the flesh of any of His other creatures. He will not become an angel simply prove to His love to the angels, and he won’t become an animal to bring all his other beasts closer to Himself. It only happened once in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself is the greatest gift because, for that awful thing we did by believing we mere humans know more than the Being who designed us, we deserve the fate of a bunny who meets the unfriendly side of a passing semi-truck. Yes… I mean we deserve utter obliteration.

But God didn’t want to smash us into bits like we deserved. He had grown quite attached to us. And here is where we meet with Grace.

Grace is God’s gift-love. We don’t deserve it, we can’t do anything to earn it, but we certainly need it. Grace reaches down to us in the filthy mud of our humanity, through the piles of our bloody needles, our half-smoked roaches, our empty bottles, our ravenous sexual failings, our slimy green money, and the hollow gods of our idolatry.

Grace is the love that sees all of this yet still reaches. And it reaches not because we by ourselves are worth anything, but because Grace itself values us.

The book on my desk is one of my most prized possessions. I very rarely loan my books out to anyone because NO ONE treats them the way I do. They bend the covers awkwardly and spill things on them. Maybe I’m borderline OCD. You see the book is worth far more to me than the thirteen dollars I paid for it. The book is a thing I love, that I have an inner connection with when I read, but to the bookseller at Barnes & Noble, it’s just another book. Maybe it’s not books for you. Maybe it’s DVDs, CDs, tupperware, shoes, I don’t know. At any rate, whatever the thing is, your love for it is what gives its real value. So it is with Grace.

Grace. It is truly amazing as John Newton first wrote in that old hymn, and it is a gift to you. You can try to work for it if you want, but at what point will you feel that you will be good enough to deserve it?

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Remember You Forget

February 15, 2010 at 2:33 am (Writing)

“All that we call spirit and art and ecstasy only means that for one awful minute we remember that we forget.”
G.K. Chesterton

I thought I would do something a little different for a change and write a story for your entertainment. I hope you remember.

In a country, not very far from the one you’re in now, A king and a queen were holding a christening celebration for their new baby Prince Liam. The people adored the nobles and rejoiced along with them filling the halls with vivid tapestries and bestowing the baby with gifts from all over the countryside. But everyone in the entire kingdom anxiously awaited the arrival of the beloved prophetess who would give the most special gift of all.

Each royal for the past fifteen generations had received a gift from the prophetess. Magic swords, enchanted armor, and arrows that always flew true were some of her many gifts. What gift would this baby get?

All were waiting in the hall talking and laughing when the drums began to beat and the horns sounded her arrival. Everything went silent as the doors were opened and the woman entered. Her face looked childlike but wiser still than a hundred sages. Not a word was spoken as she approached the baby’s bassinet.

The prophetess smiled, “Hello little prince. You are finer than any I have seen.” She looked up and smiled at his mother and father, who likewise beamed with pride. “For you, my dear sweet boy,” she said, “I have something far greater than armor or swords. She took a glass bottle from the pocket of her great blue dress, and poured the liquid in the baby’s mouth. “To you, I give the greatest gift. I give you a golden heart.”

His father stood enraged and his mother drummed her fingers on the arms of her throne. Everyone was very confused. Who needs a golden heart?

The prophetess only smiled, “That is what I have to give.” And with that the ethereal lady left.

Prince Liam grew up hating that stupid heart because it was always so heavy in his chest. He couldn’t understand why other children didn’t feel the same things he felt or see the world the way he did. So he hid it. When asked about his gift, he would lie and say that the prophetess had given him a magic sword and shield.

When Liam became a young man, his favorite thing to do was ride in the country. One particular day in summer Liam was incredibly thirsty. He came upon a small waterfall. As he dismounted, the most beautiful woman stepped out of the wood. She had the longest black hair and the greenest eyes. Her lips were as red as the single poppy flower she held in her hand. Prince Liam’s eyes were instantly mesmerized.

“May I have a drink, my lady?” The prince asked at once.

“You may have a drink,” the lady replied, “but you must tell me a story.” The prince would have done anything at that moment for her to speak something, so he told her a story of his childhood.

“That was quite a good story,” and she took the poppy flower and dipped it in the waterfall. The prince took it and drank. He did not know if the water itself tasted so sweet or if it was the red flower.

“May I have some more?” Liam asked handing the flower back to her.

“Yes, but you must give me something in return,” a smile crossed her face, “how about all the memories of your mother before you were four years old? It is just a little thing, you see, you won’t even miss them.” The prince nodded heartily, so the lady put her fingers on his head for a moment then went to the brook and filled the poppy flower again with water.

“That really wasn’t so bad at all,” the prince mused as he sipped the sweet water from the flower. “May I have some more?”

“I think that is enough for now, but come back again tomorrow.”

“You can be sure of it,” Liam said, And she disappeared as quickly as she came.

On his way home he was so lost in his dreaming of the lady in the wood, that the Prince had the misfortune of running into a lightning storm. He barely made it into palace without being struck. His clothes were soaked as he ran through the doors and nearly injured the woman standing just inside.

“Watch where you are going, woman!” He shouted.

“Liam, I’m your mother, why would you speak to me so terribly?” The queen asked nearly crying.

“Oh I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention,” though the prince wondered why he did not notice.

“It’s alright…” The queen said as she looked out the open door. “What strange weather we are having?”

The prince thought it was strange that he didn’t even recognize his own mother, like maybe the lost memories were more important than he had originally thought, so he did not return to the lady’s the following day. But then he remembered the sweet water and how fresh it tasted, and again he set out to find her.

For months, Prince Liam visited the lady. Each time he would tell her stories in exchange for the sweetest water he had ever tasted. He forgot his people who were beginning to get very sick, and his parents who did not even recognize their son anymore.

Only the lady.

“Prince Liam,” the lady said one afternoon after he had asked for a drink of water, “Are you willing to give me the thing I want most?”

“Yes, my love, name it,” the prince took her in his arms and kissed her cheek as he was so fond of doing.

The lady looked in his eyes and said, “Give me your golden heart.” The prince looked at her for a moment and thought. Her sweet voice chimed in again, “You know how much you hate that ole thing. It’s so very heavy, and I can bear the weight.” He was very thirsty, so thirsty his bones felt dry.

“Yes,” he nodded, ” You may have it.”

Then the lady’s eyes flashed in a way he had never seen, and an eerie smile crossed her face, “I will go get your water.”

The prince lay back on the ground and looked up at the sky. That moment, Liam couldn’t remember when he had last seen the sun or felt the breeze on his skin. A crack of light came through the clouds and shined on the place from where the lady was drawing water, and the wind blew her flowing hair to the side. He felt the breeze on his face like a whisper.

That’s when he really saw her for the first time. Her nose was long and pointed, and her teeth were jagged and long. The gray streaks in her hair drifted over the black eyes that were devoid of any life. When she realized that he had seen her true form, the lady came at him with black nails resembling claws.

Prince Liam’s thirst vanished and his mind returned to him, and he did the thing he did not do the moment he saw the lady of the wood. He ran. And jumping on his horse, he rode quickly away from that spot.

Liam could hardly remember the way home. When his horse rode into the courtyard, he noticed that all of the people looked sick and famished.

As he approached, the doors of the castle opened for him, and there, standing in the hall, was the prophetess. Her face was expressionless. The prince knelt down on one knee before her not wanting her to see his face.

“Is this all because of me?” he asked concerning the weary faces of his countrymen.

The prophetess’ did not reply.

“I am so ashamed…” he started, ” I almost gave away your gift.”

The prophetess did not say anything.

“Please forgive me…” the prince began to weep.

Still, the prophetess did not say anything. Prince Liam would have liked for her to take a sword and kill him with it. But her expression did not change.

Finally, she walked over to him and touched his shoulder, “Stand up Prince Liam.” He stood eye to eye with her. The prophetess spoke again, “I gave you the greatest gift of all; the well-being of your country is tied to your heart. Now that you know what it’s worth, go now and rule your people in humility.”

“But I do not deserve to rule them… Surely someone else would be better,” the prince pleaded.

“That is not for you to decide.” The young face smiled.

From that day forward, Prince Liam chose to do good. When he became King Liam, he ruled his people with the depth of understanding and love which flowed from his golden heart. The land and the people returned to health. Sometimes, the prince missed the sweet taste of the water, but then he’d feel his heart beating in his chest. Nothing was worth sacrificing his gift.

And when the time came, King Liam told the entire country of his failings at the waterfall and all about the treacherous Lady of the Wood. Many heeded his wisdom and avoided the stream, but still one curious youth crept unseen into the forest.

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Tune My Heart

January 28, 2010 at 3:51 am (Poetic Notations)

In the last two weeks, my environment has been flooded with the ever present reminder that the heart is a really big deal.

For instance, today, the speaker in chapel gave an exposition on the breastplate of Roman soldier that protected the heart. In science, we learned that the blood flow through the heart looks much like a fountain with all the various valves and arteries. Last night, I was watching TV and saw a commercial for Cheerios, the heart healthy cereal, “that can help you lower your cholesterol in as little as six weeks” so, of course, your heart doesn’t stop on you.

On a more spiritual side, I opened my Bible the other day, and the pages fell open to “Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life” (I guess spiritually and physically). Before that, I heard a sermon on the sicknesses pervading heart, and, driving home that Sunday, I heard a song by Emogen Heap about someone’s “Heart in a headlock.”

OKAY! ENOUGH ALREADY! I’ll blog about it.

But here are my thoughts. I believe that the heart, or our emotions, is just the connection between the world and our thoughts. They are the “wellspring” of life, as the scripture says. Our emotions are the material, and our thoughts are the Form. Like an sculptor that has an idea for a grand sculpture. No one can experience the idea until the artist takes time and molds a shapeless medium into a work of beauty. The Idea is the Form, and the sculpture is the matter.

Now, Hold that thought.

The Bible also tells us that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Have you ever looked at the diagram of a temple? I have posted a link to a picture of it (I hope it works for you). The outside of the Temple is yellow, Women’s court is pink, Men’s court is blue, and the Priest’s court is in green and the last court before a person enters the Holy of Holies.

Anyway, in my younger years, I used to be really angry that women had their own court, and it wasn’t as close to the Holy of Holies as the men’s court. I didn’t understand that God set it up as a metaphor for our selves.

Now, my dear feminist friends, you will not like what I am about to say. Women are generally emotional creatures. They represent the heart, and consequently, Matter itself. This does not mean that women are solely emotional beings and that women cannot think for themselves. I know Hundreds of women who are brilliant. You see, for a century now, WOMEN have adopted the idea that being emotional creatures is a bad thing. Where did they adopt it from, may I ask? But in truth, the Bible says, “guard your heart, it is the wellspring of life.”

Wellspring of life, the thing from which all life originates, that’s kind of a big deal.

But the heart must submit itself to the mind. Without the idea, the material form could not be. Ideas organize matter. My ideas are organizing the letters on this keyboard which manifests in the words which you are at this very moment reading.

One of my favorite C. S. Lewis quotes (I knew I could work him in somehow): “The man does play sky-father and the woman earth-mother; He Form and she Matter.”

On the visual diagram of the temple, the men’s court is the next. In our temple-bodies, the mind is where the men’s court would be. It would seem that I am exalting the head over the heart, that I am saying that only men are have thoughts, and men are more important than women. Only if you really want to be feeble minded will you buy a load of non-sense like that. The head must take responsibility for the heart as Christ did for the church. And yes, you are right, He did where a crown, but if you remember, it was made of thorns.

So finally, I am nearing the end of the arduous, scientific/philisophic illustration of the temple. The last court before the Holy of Holies is the Priest’s court. In our temple-bodies, this is where the person’s spirit resides.

So the spirit must go through the thoughts, which takes shape in our emotions and connects us with the outer world. Then in order to get to the Holy of Holies the sequence reverses. From the outside, our emotions lead us to our thoughts, which lead to our spirit, and then to the spirit of God through Christ Jesus.

Thus are my thoughts about the heart and the head.

So now, let me apply this all for you.

I had my first Cello lesson today. It was really fun. You know that every note has a sharp side and a flat side. They must occur almost simultaneously for a perfect pitch, the part that you actually hear.

I have recently been wondering if I have bad pitch. So today, I was talking to the music professor who was loaning out my cello. I asked him how a person knows if they have good pitch. He said that usually if a person has bad pitch it is because their “expectation” for the pitch in their head is either sharp or flat. There isn’t really a way to fix this problem, because if the person cannot hear the right pitch you can’t convince them otherwise. To this I add: watch American Idol.

I think the mind and heart is a bit like the sharp and flat 0f the same note. In order to have a perfect note, you must have both present.

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November 28, 2009 at 7:54 pm (Stories from the Everyday)

“It is hardly complimentary to God that we should choose Him as an alternative to Hell: yet even this He accepts… If God were a Kantian, who would not have us till we came to Him from the purest and best motive, who could be saved?”

C. S. Lewis

Today, My family went to spend time at my Aunt Belinda and Uncle Gerry’s house. We were getting together for breakfast to soak up the last few moments of the Thanksgiving holiday before we all parted ways.

My cousin Michael has a son named Stone, who is the brightest, most inquisitive two year old I have ever met. He is possibly my favorite kid (I can say that because he is kin). Oh my gosh, he is so far past cute it isn’t even funny. He will scrunch his little eyebrows, point to the object of inquiry, talk to you in this big, grown-up baby babble, and then bob his head back and forth to drive his point home because he just knows that you understand every word that is coming out of his mouth.

I have the best adventures with Stone. My aunt has a crystal hanging in the window. Today, Stone and I spent a good twenty minutes trying to capture the rainbows that appeared in various spots all over the room (even the one on Uncle Timmy’s head). I’m sure someday he’ll find out that the rainbows are nothing more than broken sunbeams, but I’m not going to tell him.

Anyway, on Thanksgiving day, Stone and I started a pistachio shelling system. He sat in my lap after dinner, and I pulled half the shell off and left the kernel in the other half so he could shell it by himself. This occupied us for quite some time while we watched the football game. He is so high-energy that I really just love it when he sits in my lap.

After breakfast this morning, Stone grabbed my hand and led me to the pistachio bowl again. So we started our system up and watched the Clemson-Carolina game on TV.  Stone got bored with the little green nuts, climbed out of my lap, and went to play.

My cousin Emily looked at me laughing and said, “Yep, he just uses you for the pistachios… He does it to me too.” I laughed with her because it is so true. I didn’t care though just so Stone was sitting quietly in my lap for a few minutes. He’ll come to a place someday when he realizes what it means to love with the “purest motive,” but that place means process, which involves hurt and heartache. So for now, I don’t mind being used.

I have to wonder if a bit of the same is true with God. Typically, we run to him when our life is falling apart, and we need him to fix it. But once we get the problem under control we don’t need him anymore.

Sometimes I imagine myself sitting with the Lord spilling my guts. I’m holding my pistachios up and shaking my head because I can’t figure it out, or I just don’t have the strength to fix the problem. And He, being infinitely gracious, takes them and pops the shell right off but only half-way so I can think I have some part in the process.

You see, He doesn’t care about how we come to him or for what reason, just so we do. Being a band-aid God isn’t flattering, “yet even this He accepts.”

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Twopence and split pea soup

November 9, 2009 at 8:20 pm (Writing)

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original; whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”
C. S. Lewis

I have often said that if I had a writing family Jane Austen would be my grandmother, and C.S. Lewis would be my grandfather. I won’t proceed to give you my imaginary family tree or anything, but the two didn’t even fail me in the invention of the name for this blog.

So why am I writing a blog? That is a good question; glad you asked.

I have railed against blogging for the past few years (I will admit it) because in my heart of hearts the idea of having a blog seems very tedious. In my mind, blogging and wasn’t real publishing, not to mention narcissistic. You can’t hold a blog, touch a blog, smell a blog, it’s just a blog. All the while I am saying to myself, “I’ll get published anyway I can…” So, with a spoonful of pride, here I sit tapping away at this dialogue box. The fact of the matter is, blogging is free publishing.

Maybe you know me very well and are reading this so I can have a hit on my site (thanks, Mom). Maybe you know me fairly well but don’t know who I am as a writer. Maybe you don’t know me at all and were really just googling a good recipe for split pea soup- sorry, I hope you find one. In any case, glad you are here.

I fell in love with stories when my dad starting to read the Chronicles of Narnia to me when I was five years old. I am certain he read other less notable stories, but I distinctly remember the night he began reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The memory is so clear. I was sitting on the floor playing with my Barbies which were strewn about like a bubblegum battlefield. My dad came in with a book in his hand, sat on the bed and started to read. I, being an incredibly perceptive child, quickly pointed out that there were no pictures.

I remember my dad’s face when he said, “Well, Lindsay, you have to listen to the words and they will make a picture in your mind.” He held the book up with his left hand and tapped his forehead with his right. I’ll never forgive him for that moment.

Even back then my feet were on a course to this writing life, and I didn’t even know.

My dad also taught me that no one ever writes anything original. A heartbreaking lesson to learn, but so true. The quote by my dearest writing grandfather is perfect for the title of my blog because that is who I am: just the same ole repackaged slick and polished mess.

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