Erratic.

The film i had to watch for class this week was so utterly dull i spent the majority of it painting my nails a voracious shade of magenta. They’ve chipped so i re-did them this morning, my hands shaking.

I have so much adrenaline in me right now, i’m not sure i’d pass a drug test. Pugs not drugs. But, like, really. I made my coffee extra weak this morning and everything. With two dollops of milk. Two!

Two essays have been vanquished; the last stands some 1200 words in and a very thorough outline to the finish. Frankly, i just don’t want to talk about the male gaze in cinema right now. Any other time, gender politics and art rank in my top-five-favorite things to chat about. Not now. So the cursor blinks maniacally at me on the screen. Taunting my out-of-character inability to focus. In my head it’s the beat of a bass drum: thum, thum, thum.

It’s a proper Edinburgh day: miserable and misty and reeking of rain. I keep toying with the cord of my curling iron, wondering if it’s worth it. Nothing can ruin a bouffant like side-lining rain. No better way to pass time than trying to ensure my lion’s mane looks decent.

My coffee mugs need washing. So does my hair. When i know i will be an erratic mess of non-drug-induced adrenaline, i make a tight schedule for myself the day before: not a moment before nine-thirty, awake. Go to the library, return books. Vacuum. Re-arrange posters. First cup of coffee. Make it last. Wait until after his arrival call around noon from Amsterdam before showering.

Every hour that passes is like a mile in a marathon. All i can do is calculate in my head the distance traveled in relation to the minutes it took to travel them. How many things can i fit in the waiting minutes, the minutes that crush me with their not-yet-itis?

I made guacamole yesterday, with a mojito chicken reprise. Both were a little heavy on the coriander. (I’d scheduled an extra thirty seconds for plucking herbs, so as to make the minute stretch longer). Still, cooking is a work in progress. I’ve dreamed up a new recipe for mac & cheese. Bookmarked some other salad concoctions i hope to try soon.

My pinker-than-pink nails are drumming to the imaginary beat of my aching cursor. Thum. Thum. Thum. Waiting is not my strong suit – it never has been. In the time before my driver’s license, i’d pace outside my mother’s office. Listen to her tap-tap-tapping on the computer, every tap an agonizing delay to my compulsive five-minutes-early reputation. We’d yell at each other like no other time, her furious at my inability to relax until arrived, me incredulous that the world did not move at five-minutes-early-everywhere speed.

I’d like to think i’ve gotten a bit better. Having my own means of transport certainly helped. But on days like today, i’m fourteen and a hypoglycemic meltdown all over again. But there’s no parent to pester to move faster. Only the proverbial clock, the unmerciful slowness of time that is in the in-betweens.

4 hours, 30 mintues. I can do this.

current jam: ‘you got what i need’ joshua radin. soothing music to soothe the drums and drones.

best thing: 800 words remain. 800 words can fill an hour, right?

Tokes with Jesus (And Other Mis-Adventures)

My mother would have you know it is no secret i have a particular condition common among many children. She, in her sage possession of wisdom, aptly refers to it as “selective hearing.” I, however, call it forgetfulness, and claim it to be a side effect of an over-full hard-drive of a brain. But if you’re betting, i’d encourage you to put money on my mother’s diagnosis. Moms do have that knack for being right, even when we mere mortals want them to be anything but.

As further evidence of this, i have a tale to divulge to all ye gathered here concerning this precise malady of mine ears. Recently, in a conversation with my father, i uncovered some disconcerting news which highlighted, most evidently, this very ability i posses to only hear what i want to hear. He recently returned from chaperoning a service trip wherein the workers were predominantly high schoolers. On said trip, the members of his crew were particularly fond of singing one of my all-time-til-the-day-the-sun-implodes-favorites, “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. When i delightedly exclaimed my approval of such a song to fixate upon, my father agreed – and then uttered a sentence that would change my life forever:

“Yeah! But they had to change one of the lyrics.”

Bamboozled, i retorted that this song was only mildly sexual, and all allusions to such illicit activities were done in such euphemism even the most conservative of teens couldn’t be offended. Despite, of course, the bizarrely pseudo-raunchy music video.

To this, he replied that the line in the fifth verse had to be changed from what i thought was “I caught a trucker out of Philly / Had a nice long talk” to “Met a trucker out of Philly / shared an ice cold coke.”Still insisting that talking was always a good, productive, if sometimes irritating thing, i questioned why the line had to be changed.

A trip down googling lane later, the scales fell from my eyes. The actual lyric is:

“Met a trucker out of Philly / had a nice long toke.”

It was then my forty-something father had to explain to me, his almost-twenty-years-old, Seven-Sisters-School-Attending daughter, that this was not a thick-accented-way of saying “talk,” but rather a reference to smoking marijuana.

Oh.

It’s not that the song holds any less value for me now, or that i’m passing some kind of judgement on the gentlemen who wrote such lyrics. Really, it is mostly just hilarious to me that i could so completely not get a reference to weed – that such a not-subtle reference would have to be spelled out for me by my father.

But here’s the thing: i’ve started to question now just how many lyrics i have mis-heard in the course of my lifetime. Sure, there are songs like “Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, where NO ONE CAN POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND A WORD HE IS SAYING after the title lyric. Because, surely, the line is not “wrapped up like a douche who is a runner in the night.” Yet i take small comfort in this one-hit-wonder’s mumble-confusion.

And really, i wouldn’t be fretting at all over such a silly mis-hearing except, well … it happened again. Within twenty-four hours. In unrelated circumstances.

The subsequent day i went to work, put up with more crappy tippers and said twelve Hail Mary’s for not spilling any more drinks, and came home to collapse into bed. Whilst allowing myself to decompress from the day (a.k.a., wasting hours on tumblr) i chose to listen to my most recent musical obsession: Julia Nunes. Most particularly, i was jamming out to “It’s Raining Men” originally by the Weathergirls, and (obviously) covered by Julia Nunes. (I have no shame in my musical tastes).

While singing along i found myself stumbling on a lyric that had never once occurred to me to be anything other than what i had first heard when the song first befell my sixth-grade-ears. For, though the song is about letting yourself get totally wet as men rain down from the heavens, i had in all my innocence, invented a line that somewhat assuaged rampant female sexuality. (Because oh! The horror at such a thought!). In the bridge of this song, i always thought the line went:

“God bless Mother Nature / Jesus needs a woman too!”

Wrong. Again. As Julia Nunes has a little more enunciation (and less rain sound effects) than the original, i heard with all clarity the actual lyric:

“God bless Mother Nature / She’s a single woman too!”

Again, my love of the song has not at all abated. For this song, it’s probably grown – and my understanding of it is considerably less muddled. But twice! Twice! In twenty-four-hours! I’m starting to wonder if my mother’s diagnosis of my hearing impediment is not just confined to my “forgetting” to do the dishes or clean out the litterbox, but a plague upon the house of my brain. How many songs will i continue to mis-hear, continue to improperly sing, before this madness ends? Surely the cataclysmic fate of the world hangs in the balance of Jesus needing a woman and sharing a toke!

The only cure i see in my future is, well, furthered embarrassment. I suppose i shall only continue to naïvely mis-listen and subsequently mis-speak-sing. Still, i shall bear this burden with pride and refuse to sing quietly, even when such lyrics are written only in my brain. And if it means having a few talks outside of Philly or raining men because Jesus and Mother Nature have been a little too procreative in the weather department, so be it.

current jam: ‘good morning sunshine’ alex day (lord knows it could be ‘good morning moonlight,’ save that i double-checked the lyrics before posting this!)

best thing: orange juice and diesel in a suit.

The Eleven Desert Island Film Collection.

Okay, so i know if i’m in fact stranded on a desert island the chance that there would be a way to watch any sort of films would be about approximate to my chances of being elected to the Scottish Parliament this year. And were i to make a new home in Edinburgh, tottering about with piles of legislation to enact, the likelihood that i’d remain deserted on an island with plasma TVs would be, well, next to nil. Unless, of course, that desert island had parties where goodie bags were filled with 50-inch plasma screen TVs.

Inigo Montoya is not left-handed.

I digress.

The point of such questions – what five movies would you take with you on a desert island and the like – are meant to uncover one’s comfort movies, favorite-for-all-time movies, and (most important of all) employed on first dates to see if you’re future daddy/mammy material. Let’s just be real, okay?

So when i consider my Desert Island Movies, i have to be very clear: this is not an exclusive, “favorite movie” list. In fact, i find the “favorite movie” question to be (no surprise here) really hard to answer. I mean, there are the movies that make me think and stay with me in ways reflective in the every day – but aren’t necessarily movies i want to watch more than two or three times (like Children of Men or For Colored Girls). Then, there are movies that i just find comforting; movies i want to watch when i’m sick or feeling miserable, like Mary Poppins or The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney version, obviously). And how could i neglect the movies that i love for their political and social connotations – the kind of titles i like to drop at fancy academic cocktail parties to glean approving nods for my brainpower, like Iron Jawed Angels or Cry, the Beloved Country. Naturally, how could i exclude films that make me laugh? Pirate Radio and Bridesmaids have earned their places on my shelf-of-favorites.

Yet desert island movies rest in a special category: they are the movies that are, simultaneously, ones i can watch over and over again without growing tired of the plot twists and character developments. There are movies for sickness, movies that will never leave you, movies that cover the breadth and depth of your cinematic tastes and personality. It’s a well-honed list; one subject to change, but unlikely to.

Thus, with no further ado, i give you:

The Eleven Films Lizzie Would Take to the Dharma Initiative Desert Island

(And, yeah, i know. Eleven. I’m bad at cutting things out! SORRY GEEZ).

#1. The Princess Bride: I feel as though this goes without saying. If ever there were one singular film that i think everyone who has an abounding love for a good story should see, it would be this one; there’s a dashing hero, a bewildered princess, conniving villains, revenge, and sweepingly fantastic comedic lines worthy of being quoted and re-quoted for generations. As you wish!

#2. V for Vendetta: When asked for a favorite film of all-time, this ties with The Princess Bride, despite the enormous and obvious genre and stylistic gap between the two. I will say, though, both films are abrim with brilliant one-liners (my favorite from this film: “Because behind this mask there is more than a man; there is an idea. And ideas are bulletproof!”). I first discovered this film at Governor’s School (2008) and have since been filled with an inexplicable zeal that the whole of the world will never be right until we all sit down and watch this film, after which we engage in a radical conversation about violence in our societies. Also, the references to Twelfth Night peppering the dialogue is enough to make my Bard heart swoon with delight.

#3. Sense and Sensibility: The Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet/Alan Rickman version from 1995, naturally. To satiate my hapless romantic sensibilities with the beautiful and dashing words of Jane Austen. Also, to look at Alan Rickman. Yeah, that too.

#4. The Sound of Music: On a rainy day in the third grade, my teacher decided to keep us inside during recess,  putting on a movie to keep us entertained in the absence of dirt-eating and monkey-bars-playing merriment. It was love at first sight; within a week, my hair was bobbed and the soundtrack at home in my CD-player, where is was spun no less than twelve hours a day. I sought out hills to spin in circles on the top of and wrote fan letters to Julie Andrews like it was my job. Nothing could ever come between me and this film; it taught me to love to sing, comforts me when i’m down, and such true love lasts a lifetime.

#5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s: For the mean reds. Also, to prance around pining to be as classic as Audrey Hepburn. And the kiss with the cat in the rain. Those are the best kind.

#6. Stardust: Pirates in a dirigible boat, Neil Gaiman-written adventures, and a good-old-fashioned adventurous love story. It’s simple escapism with a dash of whimsy added in for good measure!

#7. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: Okay, choosing just ONE from the trilogy was nigh-on impossible, but i could not pass up the most epic Eowyn moment of all time in the battle for Gondor (even if it meant losing some of my favorite Merry-Pippin sequences). And, you know, that heartbreaking song Billy Boyd wrote for when Faramir is leading the charge on Osgiliath. Makes me cry every time. While i may not profess my love for Lord of the Rings quite as much online (perhaps because it is a little older (but i imagine once The Hobbit comes out, this will change)) i can, quite literally, quote the entirety of The Fellowship of the Ring verbatim along to the film. I had “one ring to rule them all” that i never took off my finger for about three years in a row, and stashed in the back of my closet are two of my favorite full-length posters of Legolas. No judging. He was hot stuff  when i was thirteen.

#8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II: I feel like this needs no explanation; i saw it in Africa, sobbing like a baby the whole way through. Harry is forever for me.

#9. Moulin Rouge!: In the vein of epic romances comes in this film, overflowing with beautiful appropriated music and the lavish, brilliant direction of Baz Luhrman. I love everything about this film; its weirdness, the quirky cult following it has acquired over the last ten years, and its bohemian praise of truth, beauty, freedom, and love.

#10. Into the Wild: It seems in cinema, as in literature, i am endless looking for my Alaska. Few movies moved me the way this artistic interpretation of Chris McCandless’ journey did – and, as a grown-up-Haulden-Caulfield, i need to keep what’s not phony nearby.

#11. Up: Unquestionably my favorite Pixar film in every element – the dog, the curmudgeonly old man, and, most of all, the redefinition of adventure. I’ve never made it through this film without sobbing like a baby (perhaps to the unnerving of all around me…alas. I swear i don’t cry at any other film except the ones mentioned here).

And there you have it! The desert island collection, or whatever. It seems, as i reflect on the eleven films chosen, i have an affinity for terribly sad or moving epic adventure stories with love being the central lesson. Call me a sap. Or in the wrong universe/time period.

Comment Question: What are YOUR desert island films? Or at least one or two of them! (Rules for the giveaway are here if you need a refresher!)

Yesterday’s Winner: Kate Farley, for following the blog! Congrats, Kate!

current jam: “my favourite things” from the sound of music (obviously).

best thing in my life right now: i’ve just been cast in the 25th annual putnam county spelling bee as “vice principal panch” at mount holyoke!

My Hair: A Podcast.

Click below to listen the podcast-al style blog post for the day!

Yesterday’s Winner: Mary Day Saou for commenting on the post!

Comment Question: What is the worst haircut/hairdo you’ve ever had? (Also, as a side note, what do you think of podcast-like posts? Want more of them? Never want another one?)

A note on the giveaway: I realize now this may not have been crystal clear, but i wanted to clarify the rules now! Each entry into the giveaway (be it by following on twitter or subscribing to the blog, etc) is good only for that day’s prize! The slate is wiped clean at the end of each day, so if you’re hell-bent on getting these postcards you have five chances a day. Hope that helps! Thanks friends!

current jam: “hair” lady gaga

Captured and Imprisoned Again: A Lefty-Trombonists Tale by the Sawktrombone.

Captured and Imprisoned Again:

A Lefty-Trombonists Tale by the Sawktrombone.

I am not Lizzie McMizzie, and this is a hostile takeover of Wandering Writes brought to you by the Socially Awkward Trombone.

OK, so it’s not really hostile. In fact, I was invited here in what was probably the biggest mistake Lizzie has ever made…

Now you’re wondering who I am and how the heck I know Lizzie McMizzie. Well, it’s a long story, and I can’t tell you how tempting it was to just turn this post into a long and embarrassing story about Lizzie and Her shameless childhood antics. Alas, I will spare Her the humiliation and give you the cliffs notes (I’m saving the REALLY crazy stories for Her wedding).

Lizzie moved to my neighborhood when we were in the first grade. We rode bikes and built forts and put on plays like all normal children who have ambitions to stage Les Miserables and Jesus Christ Superstar at the age of 7. I was a crazy child, but Lizzie was unusual. In that sense, She was (and still is) way more outgoing than myself. Yes, I loved musical theater, but did I want to act? No freaking way. Hide me under the stage please.

I have watched Lizzie grow through the years. I stood by as She tested out dozens of middle school names. I watched her go from a fashion disaster wearing rainbow ensembles and one opera glove to a fashion pioneer (AKA unintentional hipster). It was this sort of outgoing nature that made me positive that Lizzie was going on to great things. She never has cared about what people think of Her, and She remains grounded in Her beliefs. This brings me to why our friendship is so unusual.

Although I would admit to sharing a pretty strong moral foundation with Lizzie, as well as a love for old British men, most of our views do not align. In many aspects, we are polar opposites. Yet somehow, this friendship works. We have chats on all subjects, and I am probably the only one who is allowed to make fun of the fact that Lizzie is enrolled in an all girls school. Why? Because She knows that no matter how many times I joke about Her sexuality, I support Her in Her efforts to become an enlightened and cultured individual no matter how much it makes me laugh.

I also think it my job to bring Her head from the clouds by being as horrible and ignorant as possible to remind Her of the real world. But let’s face it, I’m a completely harmless goofball. So will this blog be a parody of McMizzie? Absolutely. I will shamelessly poke fun at Her (as a matter of fact, I already have).

That intro was way longer than preferred. Whoops. I shall now jump into my area of expertise. My blogs are generally about socially awkward situations that I mix in with music and trombone players. Today I will be diverging a bit in honor of Lizzie’s blog. I will be writing about trombonists and music, but it will be a kind of tribute to Lizzie’s style. I mean, just look at the title.

The Oppression of Left-Handed Trombonists

 Dearest friends/readers/ducklings,

 It is with a heavy heart that i alert you to an injustice that will affect you, dear reader, in no conceivable way.

A few of you may be surprised to learn that the trombone is an uncommon instrument, but it is more likely that you are momentarily leaving this page to search Google images for a trombone.

Now do you know what it looks like?

Good. We shall continue.

Historically, the trombone has never quite fallen into the category of “sexy”. Yes, there is a fair amount of innuendo that follows the trombone, but upon close inspection, one realizes quickly that the trombonists are the reason their instruments are seen as awkward.

Trombonists are awkward. In past blogs i have made it clear that anyone who decides to pick the trombone has been born with an awkward gene, or has had their childhood poop jokes suppressed due to the socially unacceptable nature of poop. But of course, if you like poop jokes you probably have been born with some sort of genetic predisposition to be awkward.

Poor genetics can be considered a disability right?

Let’s consider the genetic disbility that brings about red-green colorblindness. People with this disability are having new technology developed to make it easier to live in a world that is missing color. Trombonists born with awkward genes are left to fend for themselves in a world where avoiding eye contact is social suicide.

Life is hard.

Society enjoys pushing unpleasant things out of sight. For starters, trombonists are placed at the back of the orchestra. Not a big deal right? Trombones are loud. But did anyone stop to wonder why the trombone is loud? Maybe it’s because trombonists had been trying to get attention for years and when one of them got the bright idea to start playing loud for acknowledgement, the government placed the trombones in the back. All the government needed was a cover excuse that wasn’t “they’re too awkward to be seen by paying customers” because the media would have reported that as discrimination.

Government? you ask.

Yes. Government. It’s a conspiracy. The amount of awkward people on this Earth is regulated by a government that acknowledges the need for awkward people to play the trombone. If there wasn’t a need for trombones in every orchestra, all of the awkward people would have probably been exterminated by now.

The awkward people are kept in cells under the basement of every orchestra hall in the country. It is here where they are trained to play trombone and encouraged to speak to other “Awkwards” to improve their social skills.

Trombonist 1 (1): “I play trombone.”

Trombonist 2 (2): “I play trombone”

Trombonist 3 (3): “I play trombone”

1: “You play trombone?”

2: “I play trombone.”

3: “I play trombone.”

1: “I play trombone.”

There is rarely improvement.

When the need for a trombonist arises in an orchestra, a member of the stage crew, with the help of a uniformed official, reluctantly picks a person to place into society as a trombonist.

Now the real question is how the “awkwards” get captured in the first place.

Basically, if a child decides to pick the trombone of h/is/er own free will, s/he is doomed. After high school or college, anyone who picked the trombone as a child is whisked away and hidden under an orchestra hall. Even if the kid quit the trombone after a year, s/he is doomed to the same fate because s/he had the initial attraction to the instrument. Picking the instrument means you must have the awkward genetics.

One will occasionally find people who escaped the relocation. They keep their history under wraps, but it is difficult. Basically, if you know someone who is awkward, that person managed to avoid the government kidnapping by choosing occupations with limited social interaction. All of them played trombone at some point in their lives. I beg of my readers to PLEASE not turn these people in. If you know an awkward person, be friendly and accommodating. No one should have to go through what most trombonists suffer at the hands of the stage crew that poke through the cell bars under the theater. But of course, i don’t expect you to be accommodating. Go ahead and pander to the color blind. Throw the “Awkwards” under the bus.

It is now time to address the second part of this post. Lefties.

If there was ever a group that was oppressed, it was the lefties. Just a few years ago they were seen as the devil incarnate. Children who were naturally left-handed were forced to learn to write with the right hand. This often required school teachers to use razor wire to tie the left hand behind the back of the student as they learned to write with the opposite hand. Razor wire was used in the hopes that if the student couldn’t learn with the right hand, the left hand would be sliced straight off. This left (haha punny) the kid with no choice but to use the right hand.

Today, our society is just as bad as it was when there were frequent hand lacerations, but it manages to hide prejudices better. The world is still tailored to right-handers. For example, walk into any classroom. Most, if not all, of the desks are for the right handed. If there are any left handed desks, they are shoved to the back in hopes of keeping the devil people as far away as possible. Most computers are for right handed people, as well as most musical instruments.

Righties enjoy significant discounts when it comes to buying golf clubs, baseball gloves, and other sports equipment. All of the lefty stuff is priced way higher.  Hot water is on the right, cold on the left. People are better when in their “right mind”. When people are correct about something, they are “right”. Instead of saying “OK”, the word “right” is often substituted.

“Left” has bad connotations.

I “left” my stuff there and it was stolen.

S/he “left” the party too early and missed the goodie bags filled with 50 inch HD TVs.

Sandy was “left” at the cemetery to fend for herself among the awkward dead people that tried to kill her with trombone music and ghostly flatulence.

So where does this leave the trombonists that are left handed? Well, it’s funny, the awkward gene must also tie in with left-handedness. The percentage of trombonists who are left handed is higher than average. Still, they are a minority.

The left-handed trombonists tend to be the last people released into society. It would just be too dangerous. They get “left” behind so to speak. When a lefty trombone is released to an orchestra (as a last resort) they are embedded with a GPS locator and are essentially put under house arrest. They can play in an orchestra, but they still have to live in the theater. When the orchestra goes on tour, a trumpet player is assigned to the lefty trombone. This trumpet player is in charge of keeping the lefty out of trouble.

Trumpet players love having power of over people, so they enjoy being the babysitter of the lefty trombone. Usually the lefty is forced to stand perfectly still on snails and trumpet spit while the trumpet player alternates between blasting in h/is/er ear and playing the “Pictures at an Exhibition” excerpt over and over and OVER. No one could possibly imagine a worse torture than this.

There is one particularly terrible result that comes out of monitoring the lefty-trombone individuals.

You know those crazy people that think a chip has been embedded into their arm by the government? The ones who hide when planes and Nazguls fly overhead?  You probably just thought of them as homeless psychos in need of ostriching (ostracization), or John Nash.

(it should be noted that this had to be drawn with my right hand, as the mousepad was designed for right-handed people. prejudice.)

Wrong.

Listen to these people. They are escaped left handed trombonists. Somehow they managed to leave the side of their trumpet lord, and the GPS locator chip means that they are constantly being chased down. Help them stay free!

This is the end of my societal rant. I urge you all to help free the trapped trombonists as i am destined to be one when i graduate college.

Thank you for pulling through to the end of this. It should be noted that Lizzie did a guest post on my blog while I did a guest post on hers. So if you are now missing the McMizzie, feel free to hop over to socially-awkward-trombone.blogspot.com.

Lizzie: Thank you for allowing me to guest post today. I hope the reputation of your blog will not fall into the depths of Mordor after this. I wish you well, and I shall never forget your 4th grade offer to house my dark-haired family should there be another Holocaust.

-The Socially Awkward Trombone

Comment question of the day (see rules for the giveaway if you need a refresher!): What is the most awkward family event you were ever forced to attend?

Yesterday’s Winner: Morgan, for sharing the link on Twitter! Congratulations, Morgan, i’ll be mailing you the postcards next week.

A side note about the giveaway: if you choose to follow this blog as an entry into the contest (thanks!) you must let me know in an additional comment! This is so i can keep track of all of your beautiful faces. Or icons. Whatever. 

Lamb: A Book Review

Ladies and gentlemen and variations thereupon, we pause in our thirty days of photographic challenge now for a book review!

First, an update: I have, since my disastrous realization, stopped reading the abridged copy of War and Peace. Never fear, for I’m now on my seventh book of the summer so far and Gann has managed not only to find me an unabridged, Maude translation to bring, but it is on its way! Journey mercies for Gann and the book.

Meanwhile, the gap in reading gave space for me to eagerly consume one of Thera’s literary recommendations….

A review of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

It’s a rare but delightful occurrence when, at the conclusion of a book, one is filled with a desire to simply sit, letting the story soak deep into your bones. Lamb is absolutely one of those books- much like Holden Caulfield declares in another one of my favorite books, The Catcher in the Rye, you know you’ve read a marvelous book when all you want to do is pick up the phone and call the author. The riotous, fictional account of Jesus of Nazareth’s childhood narrated by none other than his Gospel-forgotten best friend, Levi who is called Biff, was nonstop action, hilarity, and surprisingly sound theology.

In the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament, only two account for the birth of Christ, and only one gives readers a story of Jesus’ life between his birth and beginning of his ministry at the age of thirty. In lieu of this gap, Christopher Moore creates a hilarious tale filling the hole- a tale that involves Jesus learning Kung-Fu from Buddhists in China, teaching yoga to elephants in India, and learning from an Ethiopian wizard about Confucius and the Tao. Every adventure is layered with hilarious witticisms, the invention of sarcasm, and sneaky references to Biblical teachings and stories. Biff is everything Christ is not, a horny teenage boy with a penchant for getting himself into divine mischief- but even Moore’s depiction of the young Christ is believably human and deliriously funny. I literally chuckled, giggled, and otherwise roared with laughter the entire book through.

It is also clear that Moore did his research for every faith portrayed in the book; most of the teachings are accurate to their various sacred texts, and, perhaps most importantly, Moore treats every faith with equal respect and honor. This is no bashing of Religion, but rather ah homage slathered in wit to all divine prophets. As a Religion student I certainly feel that I was getting the most of all the wry references and droll liturgical word plays layered in every chapter (and we’re not just talking Christianity, as Christ was Jewish and, in this tale, encounters prophets and teachers of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese philosophies).  But even if you have no academic (or otherwise faith-based background) in the teachings of these faiths this book is still a riot and I highly recommend to anyone. Yes, it’s abundant in foul language, liberal treatment of the works of Jesus of Nazareth, and perhaps offensive material if you’re of a more orthodox mind. But Moore himself says, if your faith is shattered or moved by a work of clever fiction, perhaps you have some more praying to do. If, however, you’re looking for a compelling, sharp-witted, intelligent, and delightful read this book comes highly recommended from this here liturginerd.

Peanut M&Ms and Free Wi-Fi

Much sooner than I had initially anticipated I find myself with access to wi-fi and therefore writing twice in one day. I’m currently in Philadelphia, waiting for the duration of my three hour layover in my terminal, looking out the window and at planes taxiing and fueling up. The flight from NC was uneventful, for which I’m very grateful.

Leaving, however, was much harder than I anticipated. Until very recently I did not really realize how long ten weeks is to go without seeing my family. For some reason, this feels vastly different than going ten weeks at school (which I have done). Perhaps because this trip truly is different than going back to school. My life seems like one big transition lately; I never seem to stay anywhere long enough for the dust to settle. This isn’t necessarily bad- I was home long enough to consume enough sweet tea to nourish a small population of people and able to get all my kitty snuggles in. But the wandering must recommence sooner rather than later, otherwise the impossible lethargy becomes too consuming to bear. Sometimes I feel like I’m asleep while awake, completely apathetic to my own inaction and desire to laze about. Maybe that’s healthy, maybe I need those few weeks of deep rest in order to care so much the rest of the time.

As much as I often feel like a cloud of indifference, neither here nor there, I feel so deeply ten times more. Freud would have a field day with me and my lapses.

Enough metaphysical pontification! Time for a story.

Before I went through security, my Dad handed me a few parting gifts, one being a bag of peanut m&ms. If you notice in this video I mentioned that eating peanut m&ms while abroad is something of a blossoming tradition in the M. household, and this tradition, like all such traditions, is rooted in something of a story.

And, conveniently enough for me, this story takes place in Uganda. Four years ago I was fourteen and in the summer after my first year of high school. I’d never left the country but had nurtured a desire to go to Africa since meeting Peace Corps volunteers in the seventh grade (and really, before then too, but that’s the most concrete time I ever remember declaring myself to be a future Peace Corps volunteer (I have since decided to not do Peace Corps in lieu of perhaps working with MCC/water.org/some other fabulous smaller NGO(I also rather like this triple paranthetical statement, but where was I?(right, Uganda, 14)))) point being, I was very young and very naive. I don’t dare to say I’m neither of those things now, but I have grown up a little since then.

Everything was magical when I first landed in Entebbe. In part this was the marvel of leaving all you know to enter a new place, but mostly it was because Uganda is truly a magical place. (I do well to remember, when I’m close to panicking on the plane). That first time to Africa was a pilgrimage with Duke Divinity school and, in more ways than I can enumerate, would profoundly impact my life for years to come. Most obviously, I’m going back to Uganda to live with friends I met on said trip.

And this one friend particular friend (one Thera, whom you can check out here) had been living in Uganda for some time. On one of our many long and excruciatingly bumpy rides in the bus, she was telling us about how much she missed salty, crunchy food (of which, as I recall, there is not a lot of in Uganda). Her parents had sent her a care package, and tucked in the box was a bag of nothing other than…you guessed it! Peanut M&Ms. She said she opened the bag and smelled it for an hour before even eating one.

Needless to say, while she was telling us this tale, I wanted nothing more than a peanut m&m at that moment. When none were readily available, I promptly forgot about the tale. Assuredly, I was educating one of the Ugandan priests accompanying us on Led Zeppelin (don’t judge- I was fourteen, after all) which was of equal amusement.

But, come June of 2010, when I was once again breathing deeply African air in Ghana, I was reminded of this tale. And despite the fact that Ghana is the distance from Uganda as California is to North Carolina (have I mentioned that Africa is FIVE TIMES the size of the continental United States?) something universally true about being away from the states made me miss peanut m&ms. When, a week into our voyage, I was complaining about this to my mother, she giggled and pulled out of her suitcase pringles and…a heaven-sent bag of peanut m&ms.

So while many cravings and wishes I might have while in Uganda may be silly, unfulfillable, or really unnecessary I always allow myself now to bring a bag of said divine, crunchy, salty, and sweet candies. In the aforementioned video I was in Canada, and while Montréal is not exactly a vast world away from the USA, international traveling traditions are to be honored! My Dad had bought me the m&ms for that trip, too.

So, thanks Dad for keeping the tradition alive.

Now I’ve got to try and find something mildly healthy and fresh in this airport to eat before my flight. Bruxelles, je viendrai! (Je pense que cette phrase est correcte, mais je ne suis pas sûr…)

current jam: “thistle & weeds” mumford & sons

best thing in my life right now: safe and merciful travelings. and this incredible video the allmadeofawesome girls put together for me!!

i need a new third sign off…suggestions? i don’t want to count down to returning back to the states, so i’m in a puzzle.