A Tribute to Frost

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

People Watching

I inherited this strange trait from my father, one that forces me to remember that it’s not polite to stare…

I went to nightfall the other night, all by myself, and I thought I might be bored. I was mistaken. I soon realized the simple joy that people watching can bring. It was as though for a few moments I did not exist and the only things which were real were the people circling around me. I became a nonentity, like I was sitting on the couch watching a movie and the characters interacted around me. It was wonderful. I sat and watched.

I watched a father with thick, dark black hair and painted coveralls carry his son on his shoulders. His big shoes loafed over the pavement and his bandana hung haphazardly out of his back pocket. He was a blue collar artist, one who does not get enough credit for his work. That moment of father and son interacting seemed to tell a story of sincerity and happiness, one that I wish I could capture.

I saw a man search for his bride with purpose as he brought her treasures from across the plaza. The man took each step with care and one would think that he was old and infirm, and indeed he was old. He was not infirm; he was determined to make it across the plaza with an armful of popcorn and a drink for his wife. He was a picture of love at old age. Oh, to be old and in love!

I saw a woman going through a mid-life crisis. She had to be, based on her outfit. Shame on me, how judgmental! But what other conclusion could I come to when she was wearing a camouflage mini skirt, black go-go boots and shirt that showed her midriff, and she was 50!

I saw a father with his three little girls trailing behind him. Their tongues and lips were blue, and they were spilling popcorn into the fountain. They laughed and poked one another, not realizing that this was a time to treasure, remember and be grateful for. Not everyone can spend a Friday evening with their father and sisters eating something blue and munching on popcorn…

I saw a man who looked a little worse for the wear. He was old, and he showed it. His teeth were either a funny color, or not even there. His shoes had holes in them and his shirt was stained. He was simply passing through, taking advantage of the free flowing music. I felt a little like him. Sitting, soaking in the world, not looking for anything, not seeking anybody…simply being.

Blueberry Cake

It is amazing how one smell, one sight, one sound can take you back in time 15 years. Your mind remembers images, sounds, and thoughts that you may not have reflected on in years. It’s as though these little insignificant elements are keys which unlock all kinds of delight or pain inside of us. It’s the smell of vinegar after some terrible experience that makes you cringe, it’s the sight of lightening shooting through the sky that makes you run to the house because, well, only you know. It’s the song that reminds you of your dad, the hubcap on the street that makes you think of your bestfriend, and the song “Home” that makes you want to give your husband the biggest kiss in the world.

Blueberry cake did that for me today. It transported me back in time and held my attention as I reminisced about my childhood. I only had one piece too… (okay, I admit a really, big, unnecessarily large piece) My mom has this recipe that is pretty good; I don’t mean to downplay the cake but it does not take a rocket science to make this recipe. But to me, this cake is more than amazing. All it takes is one sight and I get this little smile on my face, and suddenly, I am craving the biggest piece of blueberry cake.

I see it and it reminds me of all the times I would help my mom make it, crumble the brown sugar on top and stuff.. Then I eat it and it reminds me of every time we went blueberry picking. All the laughter, the squashed blueberries, the heat, the buckets and buckets that we were able to fill AFTER we ate our way through the blueberry patch. It reminds me of summer, of my childhood, of my brothers and sisters, of heading over to someone’s pool afterward because the patch was so stinking hot. It reminds me of the year we ate worms with our blueberries because there was a pest going around the patch. Mom told us they couldn’t hurt us too bad, so that year we ate blueberries and worms. I hope my kids believe me when I tell them stuff like that….

I remember sitting in the car feeling so full of blueberries that I felt like that girl from Willy Wonka who turned into a blueberry! Even so, I was eating the blueberries that my mother trusted me to hold in my lap on the way home…I just couldn’t resist, they looked so perfect.

Blueberry cake is my favorite because when I take that first bite, I feel like a kid again.

What’s your memory?

Converging Cumulonimbus Clouds

It was 100 degrees today.
I don’t mean to brag, but it was pretty hot.
My car was hot, the pavement was hot, the air seemed hot.
It was also sticky, really sticky, sticky enough that it reminded me of a molasses story.
Maybe I’ll tell that story sometime….

Anyway, it was gross out.
But I saw clouds. Big hudge cumulonimbus ones, you know, the ones that look like cotton candy all mounded up.
Those clouds were the sweetest sight, not because they made the air cool, but because they promised a storm.
Since I saw those clouds, I cared little for anything else; I was waiting for the rain. I watched the clouds to see if they were getting closer. I asked every person if they thought it would rain. I checked the weather to see if thunderstorms were in our future. I felt the wind; as it grew stronger my longing for that rain grew stronger. I anticipated the thunder and the lightning; I was ready to dance through the drops as soon as I saw them fall (I did that once, best dance I ever had. Also, best dancing partner ever). I was ready for rain. Why? Well, the reason is really trivial, it’s the readiness that’s important.

Rain, such a simple thing, yet it controlled a significant amount of my thoughts today. What if I longed for God as I longed for that rain? How much more fantastic would the storm be if God was in it? I am talking about anticipation, wanting God like I wanted that storm. What if I was as ready for God as I was ready for that storm? If I was as in tune with God as I was in tune with nature to realize that something was brewing on the horizon….

then I would be ready when it happened. I would be able to stand in the rain in full knowledge of the relief that I was getting. I would be able to bask in the joy that I was finally receiving what I had waited so unpatiently for. (Patience and I are trying to get along, but the treaty arrangements are really tedious. So for now, I pretend she does not exist) Waiting for God is kind of the same deal. We are told to stand in readiness…maybe God knew that if we were waiting for Him, we would feel greater satisfaction when He finally got around to being there…..

Random

I spent today at The Camp House drinking coffee and working on curriculum. This is one of my new favorite spots in town. It’s on the southside, which I am beginning to prefer to the northside….but that’s another matter. The place is open, airy, bright and there is free parking under the tree out front =) Aaron makes a FABULOUS pour over and he knows literally everything about coffee, so I know I am in good hands as far as coffee is concerned. Also, I am pretty sure they are going to begin having live music at night…although I am not sure when. Overall, great place to be.

Oh, played a little pick-up kickball yesterday. Chattanooga Adult Sports did a great job of doing a shout out to any bored people in town who wanted to play an old school favorite. It was fun, definitely hot, but fun! I think we had around 20+ people show, which was cool. They are hosting another event on Saturday, BEACH VOLLEYBALL!! Which is going to rock! I’m super excited.

Um, so what’s the deal with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library not having any ebooks? ALL the surrounding counties and their libraries have a great selection, but alas we are out of the loop. I would love to head up a project at the library that would enable card holders to access all the digital books that are floating around our world. Not that I have any idea how to do that; I would just love to see it done. I have some classics on my Reader, but I am looking for some newer material that I do not have to be committed to for forever. I recently had some bad experiences with the New York Times bestseller list, and it has forever made me leery of purchasing a book without first borrowing it, reading it, and THEN deciding that it needs to be in my collections……yes, Water For Elephants, I am referring to you… =) Maybe within the next year or two we will upgrade to the world of ebooks. Until then, free classics it is! Oh, and it’s totally better to read a lot of those classics before the media spoils them. Like Frankenstein and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Sherlock Holmes….WAY better to read them first then to be misled by modern cinema. Don’t let me convince you; be your own judge.

Homesickness

Moving is hard.
We have been in our new home for a little over a month, which is about how long my patience will last for such things like being new in town. I am anxious to be familiar with this city and its people. I hate being new. I hate being the one that does not know the road coming into the post office is only one way. I hate not knowing that you cannot make a left hand turn coming onto Frazier avenue from Dallas road. I hate not knowing that the ice cream place weighs your cone, and THEN charges you. I hate not knowing that when Riverbend is on the horizon the entire road by the river is inaccessible. I hate not knowing where to take my recycling, or where to get a hair cut. I hate not knowing…

Yet, all this anxiety to be familiar makes me forget the moment when I need to be new. There is some purpose for this season wherein I feel like an alien on another planet. There has to be, otherwise the season would not exist, right? (this is what I keep telling myself anyway)
I need to be new. I need to remember that I do not know everything, nor will I ever know everything (despite my best efforts to deceive myself and others)
I need to be new. I need to remember what it is like to meet people for the first tim; I need to remember that not everybody knows me well, and therefore I need to behave…I mean, to not assume that people will understand every underhanded comment that I throw into a conversation. Being new teaches me humility, something I need a lot of help with…
I need to be new. I need to remember to trust God in all situations, especially when I am discouraged.
I need to be new. I need to remember to cherish this time of newness with my best friend. We are in this together; we are both new and we NEED each other.
I need to be new. I need to remember that I am not in control, I mean I never really was, but now I am really not in control. I hate not being in control.
I need to be new. I need to remember that I am made new everyday in God’s sight. This feeling that no one knows anything about my past is what I experience every day in Christ. I need to remember that.

So, here’s to being new!
to driving through the parking lot of the strip mall in a diagonal line because I have no idea where the exit is, and then assuring myself that I am allowed to do this because my plates are from New York.
to cutting off some dude who was trying to turn left onto Tremont because I had no idea I could not turn left when I got to the intersection in the wrong lane, and then assuring myself that he understands because, hey, I am from New York.
to buying the biggest ice cream cone because .69 cents an ounce seems really cheap..and then realizing they were totally messing with you.
to thrift store shopping 10 minutes from home.
to seeing art galleries for the first time.
to exploring the art museum for free.
to eating $1 tacos.
to being home.

Art or Not?

Art or Not, that is the question. Who decides what is art and what is not? These two ideas have been hemmed and hawed over for centuries, but I think that the focus is in the wrong spot. Who cares if it is actually classified as art or not? Who cares who determines the qualifications for a good piece of art? One look at something will tell you, the viewer, whether or not it is art….according to you. Does it matter if the dude you’re standing beside thinks it looks like burnt wood, and not like art at all? No, unless you let their opinion go to your head.

Let me give you an example of this controversy of things being art or not.

Friday marked my very first time experiencing art exhibits and their receptions, and I was able to see two! These receptions were held in local galleries which gave local artists a little piece of spotlight and local people the opportunity to get a glimpse into the world of local art. I was enthralled. I like art, but I have never really experienced art. (if that makes any sense at all) I was even more wide eyed when the artist himself, Chuck Frye, came up and began talking to me about some of his pieces. What a treat! I am a virgin when it comes to art, discussing art, looking at art, analyzing art…you get the point. Nevertheless, I was surprised by how easy it was to appreciate something without completely understanding it.

This particular exhibit by Frye was entitled, “Raining Cats and Dogs.” It was a magnificent, and very real, representation of man’s best friend (and their feline counterpart). Frye was able to give life, personality, and attitude into every single one of his pieces. This was art that I could enjoy. I love dogs; therefore, it was easy for me to appreciate Frye’s exhibit. Does this mean that Frye’s work is art and other artists who depict other things are not art? Certainly not! It does not even mean that Frye’s work is considered “good” in the world of art (although I would venture to say that it is more than “good”). It simply means that I valued it as a work of art, enough said.

Fast-forward about 20 minutes and I find myself wandering through yet another exhibit. This one I cannot figure out. I cannot even begin to relay the kinds of pieces that were on display because they were too disjointed. Yet, that was the point. I mean, they even named the exhibit, “Psychobabble.” The name is the only thing in the whole exhibit that made any sense. My brain does not work like that; “Psychobabble” was not art to me…it was weird. There was a fort made of cardboard boxes, a table that was littered with strange objects that did not seem connected, and then a whole room full of pieces that I cannot even describe. Does that mean it is not art? No, other people were able to appreciate something that I was simply unable to see.

Art is subjective and that is why many people have such a difficult time processing it. Which is weird because food is just as subjective and people don’t say, food or not? I mean, it’s all food…even if the eater doesn’t like it. Maybe the problem isn’t the art, it’s the viewer? I suppose this post was actually a way for me to tell you about losing my art virginity and not really arguing for the subjectivity of art.

Coffee

As with most Americans, I too love coffee. I think college did this to me. I never drank coffee during high school, and now that I am out of college, I can’t get past 11:00 AM without feeling the effects of coffee withdrawal. When I say I can’t get past 11:00 AM, I mean to say that I stagger around in a stupor until I get my coffee, which needs to be before 11, and if I don’t get that, then my brain begins to melt, and I feel like a non-functioning puddle of melted brain. (crass, I know, but you chuckled..or at least you did that half smile bit) I might be too analytical, but I think this could become a huge analogy to modern America, and especially modern Christians. Just think about it a minute; let it stew in your brain for just a second. Any thoughts? Well, let me explain a little bit of my twisted, over-thought analogy of coffee, Americans and Christians…

Americans have this tendency to be addicted to something. (remember my brain at 11:00 in the morning) So, we lean toward this tendency when we see all the stuff around us. You know it. Admit it. You fill your house, your wallet, your closet, your garage, your kitchen, your stomachs, your digital cameras….you fill it all, with stuff. It would be fair to say that Americans are addicted to a range of stuff, but you already knew that.

So, let’s focus on coffee for a just a minute; forget all the other stuff that Americans are addicted to…Just like coffee (and junk) is an addiction for Americans, so should Jesus be an addiction for Christians. We should be unable to function before a certain time in the morning unless we have had our moment to steep with God. We should be unable to keep God locked in the coffee pot when friends come to visit. Do you hoard your coffee when you have guests? Then why do Christians keep God close to their chest when people are over?

This analogy seems so base. God deserves a better analogy, but we can’t seem to handle anything more intellectual. So, there it is. I mean, let’s put this into perspective…here I am at 9:27 AM, coffee in hand…but my Bible is across the room, untouched since yesterday morning. I certainly would agree that coffee is my drug, but is God also? Sure seems like I faltered somewhere. Check back in a few weeks and I’ll tell you my progress…

Coffee is the drug of America, God is the drug of Christians….or is He?

New Birth

Today marks my birth into the world of blogging. I have resisted entering into the world of blogging on some unknown principal. I wish I could have told you what that principal was, but alas I am not even sure I know…

So, as I open my eyes, stretch my fingers, and prepare to exercise my writing muscles, I realize one thing; this is going to be fun =)