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hopeful holds the tension/ dew jewels cling the sway/ clasped tight against the world/ not yet knowing it's ok/ the waiting deepens color/ trying to accept every sun ray/ gathering its truth song/ beauty at bay so long/ awaiting opening to day/

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The traveling times

So... I thought I enjoyed traveling a lot more than I actually do...or a lot more than I actually did, I think. I discovered this this past weekend when I was hanging out with a friend and attempting to show her pictures and tell her about my trip. I don't (yet) look back on this summer as a an experience that I would want to repeat, but didn't realize it until I attempted to share pictures and stories (something ) thought I really wanted to do with friends). Part of the reason for this difficulty might just be that this summer was actually a really painful experience for many reasons (spiritual, emotional, etc.); it could also just be the nature of this summer's trip: by myself for most of it, and a lot of God digging around and poking and surgerizing me. I could also not like traveling as much as I thought I did because I'm not running anymore; I missed my church and friends here TERRIBLY. Apparently, there's still a lot to process about last summer...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bending in Oregon, Part 3: Sherman Alexie (Junior, apparently)!

"Dubya so screwed up the economy that the only person making any money is a Native American poet." - Sherman Alexie

On Friday, Sherman Alexie asked me if I really thought my life was that ordinary. He barked out curses against technology and it's community-cracking habits. He made fun of conversations people have just after landing in an airplane to their home destination. He swore a lot. Sherman Alexie is sort of an asshole that uses sex to get people's attention; I love him because when he's got it, he asks us why we blame the elementary school teachers (my mom is one and I believe she has one of the hardest jobs you could ever have...she's Special Ed) and "poor white" (he's Coeur D'Alene Native American) for the collapse of the economy. He tells us that what we have for breakfast is amazing. He tells us how to give good gifts to each other, explains the romance behind mixed-tapes (no, it's not their antique quality, it's the hard word and time that has to go into making one if it's going to be good).
He made me think about how I didn't miss my cell phone when I was in Europe: "I watch you guys kill yourselves every day with these things. Why not, when you land on that plane, have an extraordinary conversation?" He tapped into my horror at how fast time is going: "I know I'm hard-wired as an Indian and a Catholic to mourn, but I'm growing increasingly nostalgic and I'm 43! Apparently 43 is the new 80." Ah yes. And people are just dust in the wind, temporary as the flowers of the fields which are themselves ephemeral. We are hard-wired from and because of our childhood; he is hard-wired to grieve and run (his father was alcoholic to get away from his past as, mainly, a war orphan) - Alexie says he's not much different; I am hard-wired for conflict. If people don't worry about me, I wonder if they care. I don't blame this on my childhood (though I do see that my poor mother gets it from her poor mother...), but I do wonder if it was because I somehow got conflicting messages simultaneously: "Be happy or we won't hang out with you" and "If you're happy, you must not need any attention or companionship", which is really just the arrogance of finding one's worth in how you provide care and love for one another.
He, though not Christian (I don't think), gives excellent advice for the "spiritual searching" he sees in and from "us Euros" (white people, not money, though money is a important thing here, too): "If money changes hands, run" and "There is no shame in getting out of a situation that makes you uncomfortable." He does satire (saying exactly what you mean in a funny, sometimes darkly so, way) not irony (saying one thing to mean another), and wonders aloud why people equate seriousness with intelligence. He's deadly serious when he's 'funny', and he's funny so "he doesn't kill you." This guy is a prophet who would really rock the world and change the systems he rattles against so hard (rightfully so); I identify SO much with this guy and his voice, his thoughts - we're both 'native' poets, the only difference is that people know this about him.
I really admire this guy for that and the other reasons listed above. Mark admires him for his big head...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bending in Oregon, Part 2: The scenery

Bend is a quaint, arts-oriented, somewhat historic gathering between hills of central Oregon (the Cascades) and water (the Deschutes River). Many a hiking trail invite nature lovers, wanderers and pray-ers further into the mystery that is nature. Rocks and trees and skies and things freely appear on and as the landscape surrounding the town; dogs and explorers mingle among the seemingly untouched (save for the hiking suggestions softly snaking through) wild.

Between the awards ceremony on Wednesday, and a writer's workshop on Friday, we had one full day of "break" between; Mark and I hiked the natural beauty of Bend while our friend studied her Greek (she's in Seminary) at one of Bend's many original (I don't remember seeing a Starbucks in the entire town...) and cute coffee shops (one of whose ceiling is pictured at the right).
After that, we met for a tailgate lunch of hummus, rice, sandwiches and snacks. Then, we hung out in Dudley's - a coffee shop/bookshop before heading to a pub of some sort...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bending in Oregon, Part 1: The Awards Ceremony

On Wednesday (the 4th), my boyfriend, good friend and I took off in good friend's truck (named Timmy) and drove about 6 and a half hours southeast to Bend, a very cute, arts-oriented town in central Oregon. I think I was a bit of a freak-show for most of the way; I won a short story contest (Short-story, nonfiction in the 19-25 age group) for a re-telling of the events surrounding my grandfather's death last Christmas. The awards ceremony included reading an excerpt from this - I'd practiced with my pastors and my boyfriend the night before and realized that cutting out things to make a 3-5 reading-out-loud excerpt really makes for good editing...
Despite how nervous I was and how difficult the material was for me (it was a true story after all), I only made one ridiculous mistake; my boyfriend tries to make me feel better about it by saying that it "builds rapport" with the audience: The title of the story I wrote is "Moving." So, after my judge announced me, I got up to the microphone to announce my story: I said, "My story is moving." After realizing what I did (the audience started to laugh), I was appropriately flustered and tried to fix it: "Oh, I mean...that's what it's CALLED. That's not an obligation or anything...". Yeah, then I read an excerpt, fairly well if I do say so myself.

My boyfriend was up and about taking pictures the whole time, an my good friend audio-recorded the whole thing on our pastor's digital recorder. This was an incredible event - complete with 4 days of workshops and speakers (we could only stay for two because my friend and I are both [studying God] in school), one in which I am so honored to have participated - all the entries were amazing - the nature essays, the poems, the fiction short stories - and I got an anthology (including bios and pictures) of all these great pieces. I wasn't expecting this, but I got a large gift bag as well with a hand-sculpted trophy of a star (the contest I one was called "Rising Star"), postcards, a pencil, a beautiful box, a certificate, a nature-of-words tote, a pencil, a notebook, a newspaper from Bend with a write-up of the Nature of Words (it's a really big deal around these parts, there were signs all over the cute little town!), a book (whose author was at the ceremony/event) etc.