That is our sky. That is the Earth, and that is the moon. And that, my friends, is how big our problems really are.
Between classes, I had time to walk around the semesterly Discoverfest they hold on campus, which promotes various clubs, organizations, and programs held around the school throughout the year. I visited all the booths, gave a number of them my name and email address, but the one that held my interest most was the info table for The Daily Titan. That’s the newspaper staff.
I hadn’t realized how much I miss being a part of a print production, a staff. It was like a choir on paper. It’s been only a few months since graduation, so I’ve been thinking I’m still in recovery mode from the exhaustion. I thought, also, that it wouldn’t go past a four-year affair. We had a good run, and it ended gently, I thought. But no. I really did love it, every part of it, do love it, and need it to be in my life on a regular basis. I’m going to join the staff at this school, Comm major or not. I’m going to write. When I approached the guy, after asking him questions and signing up for the Facebook group, he asked me what I’d be interested in doing as far as sections. “Features writing? Sports or news, maybe?”
I told him no, I want my own column.
So I met two really interesting people today, both at once. What was pleasantly strange and serendipitous was how much we found the three of us have in common, which made for very easy conversation.
My math professor let us go ten minutes before actual dismissal, meaning I had enough time to power-walk to the bus stop and catch the early bus. This gave me half an hour’s stopover at my second bus stop. After exiting the first bus (where I actually made friends with this skinny guy doing card tricks, which totally boggled me all over), I crossed the street and sat at the bench next to an older black woman in a periwinkle two-piece. Next to her at the other end of the bench was a younger guy. Sort of a forgetful appearance, but I could tell he’s young.
Somehow and before long, after talking routes and city life and how long each of us has been residing in the area, we got to backgrounds. As it turns out, the guy, whose name is Manny, lived in SF for a few years going to the Academy of Art for photography (I told him I’d wanted so badly to go to school in that city). He said he worked with clay, as well, but got his degree in snapping photos. He mentioned not being able to find a stable job in his profession at the moment, albeit his passion. He works at Gap in the mall just south of my campus, though he just put in his two-week because the trip there takes too much time— two hours one way by bus. He lives in Buena Park. I told him my major doesn’t have much of a promising career path either, albeit what I know I can do. The woman asked me what that is, and I told her I want to write. He said he’d studied Communications as well and was seriously looking into journalism for a while. I told him that’s my major at the moment, though there are forces weaning me into a switch to Nursing. The woman said she got her degree in French, which he said he happens to know how to read and write, though he dislikes speaking. Said he took the language course for two years. I told them I’m in a five-unit French class right now. The woman said that although she majored in the language, she found and kept (and still has) a job in both writing and photography at a firm in Buena Park. And, as it turns out, she heads an art and photography club somewhere in the area that’s been looking for speakers to come and share their experiences. She asked Manny for his name and information, then told me and him to exchange our info, too. Oh, and she knows where Canoga Park is, too, because she’s done business around that area. Called it a “bedroom city.” And Manny lived in Ventura for six months. Seriously, we all had so much in common. After that, the woman got a phone call, so I was left to converse with the guy. We talked about Newport and Huntington and compared them to the beaches near the Valley. According to him, Huntington = Malibu + Venice, and Newport is more like the beach I went to in Maine, which I also told him about. And his friend’s having a birthday party bonfire there on Friday. Random tidbit. Anyway.
I don’t know where I’m going with this post, but I’m gonna keep it. Long story short, I thought it was a good way to spend my half hour, meeting people who have oddly large amounts in common with me and each other. Made some discoveries.
is flying out in T-minus three hours. Went to see her for the last time on Sunday. Ate pasta with croutons and sliced a watermelon very dangerously. Felt a little out of place with the dentist and the Chinese, but stayed for sugar squash tea. Spoiled the dog. Watched Tom and Jerry. Hand-hugged.
Talked for an hour today about 79-cent cones and goofy goobers, and also about a rabbit named Brownie, and then we were done.
In all seriousness, though, really, I’m paralyzed. I’ve lived a lot of my time trying to filter what I say to things that aren’t potentially offensive. I’ve mastered the art of people-pleasing, I accept a lot of what those around me do, irrespective of our differences in beliefs, morals, or conventions. I really voice big opinions only in my writing, where I can articulate, deciding ahead of time the way people will receive the message in the way I structure my sentences and in the way I choose one word over its synonym. I don’t have only Christian friends, and though I’m strict with myself, with other people, I let them be. I mean, what can I do? Aside from His Son, the greatest gift God gives us is choice. My being a self-aware prude is my own choice, my own convention, my own little bit of legalism just for the sake of keeping my soul pure (After all, the outside and inside are opposites, but not far from each other. There’s only skin between them). That’s my choice, and other people make theirs. And it isn’t my place to be changing people anyway. Not even something I’m capable of doing. I can show them who I am, show them what the Bible says, and try to point them to God, but letting them be is, I think, the best way of getting through. People will believe what their own late-night revelations tell them. I can do so much as plant ideas, but the deep stuff comes from their own minds.
This isn’t to say that those around me don’t know where I stand— people know me as a Christian. My self announces it. People take notice and ask me why I’m always happy or why I don’t use profanity or why I maintain all these old-fashioned standards for myself. It’s in the history books that I’m different (and I mean that in the least prideful way. I’m aware everyone is different, I’m also aware everyone is the same; I just mean my inward choices are apparent outwardly, and people let me know of it. Plus, I’m totally crazy). But when I converse, I always try to dance with the other person’s contributions. I recall writing a whole two pages in my diary on this a few years ago about how I somehow developed this habit of always trying to fill the void— where there is no authority, I take charge; where there is an argument, I try to be the peacekeeper; where there is too much seriousness, I crack jokes. It’s just something I’ve always done; I used to attribute it to my self-diagnosed OCD, where everything needs to be complete and perfect and symmetrical (On a tangent, I used to have the most terrible twitch where I’d knock my knees at a rhythm and try to add to it with my fingertips, the same beat on each hand for symmetry, like a sort of spastic, instrumentless, one-man band), but, whatever, I digress. It’s just always been a thing of mine, which is why I’m a different person with every individual I have the pleasure of making acquaintance with. I learned in HCOM yesterday that in a conversation between two human beings, there are really six people involved: who I think I am, who you think you are, who I think you think I am, and vice versa. And it’s true. We alter our behaviors with every single person we encounter, every relationship we build, regardless of strength or purpose. And so it is with me. I mold myself to the friend I think that person will enjoy being around, and for the most part, it’s worked like a charm (This isn’t to say I’m fake, okay, just personable. Affable. But I should stop defending myself). What I’m trying to say is that for a long time I’ve had a heart for relating to people as closely as possible, taming my tongue to only the things people like hearing, and in so doing making all sorts of friends and helping my esteem in believing that I’m a celebrity. It was all for me me me, and I convinced myself that I was doing it so I could disciple to all of them at once with my bright and shining Christian aura. It was a pride thing, and it was pretty big, despite my inhibitions. (Realize, I’m trying to give you only the most basic of my thought process here. I’ve dealt much with pride, and I’m not big-headed anymore. I overcame it. That sounds prideful too, but unless you read my diary, you won’t get the full picture. And I’m not letting you read my diary, so we can ditch that prospect. Just bear with me please…)
But today, and sort of for the past month, and sort of even for the past season, I’ve been drawing away from that.
Today I sent a seven-page letter to one of my closest friends ever, someone whose feelings I wouldn’t ever hurt intentionally (I mean, I wouldn’t do that to anyone), to tell him that the stuff he believes in and has believed in since childhood, and the stuff his entire family believes in and has believed in since childhood, and the stuff that pretty much runs their lives and their thoughts and their behaviors toward other people, the stuff that makes them show me love, is false, in a word. I mean REALLY, where is my gall coming from?
Mormons are good people. That’s a stereotype, but I’m gonna keep talking. They have rules set for their individual lives that guide them to be incredibly sweet . Welcoming and familial, they are some of the kindest people I think I’ve ever met as an ensemble. But I studied their religion. I read into it a lot. I read the book and excerpts from the other core reading material. I researched the prophecies and sat through video testimonies. There are loopholes, and frankly, I can’t imagine putting my faith in something that falls through. You don’t cross a bridge with missing boards when there’s a perfectly sturdy one just around the bend. And so I delved into that philosophy quite deeply, I tore at the roots of the faith, because they are tearable, and basically gave him plenty of reason to doubt.
— Therein lies my fear. I’m so scared of what this is going to do to our friendship, which is tight. This guy is my friend! And talk of religion isn’t easy to come by, everyone knows that. I knew when I discovered that he’s part of the LDS church that one day, I’d be trying to show him the truth. It’s just in me. I try a lot.
But the letter also gave him plenty of reason to hope. The second part went into Christianity and acknowledged its differences. It showed that there are no contradictions and that everything in its message, which is coherent and essentially reads like a love letter, comes true. One of the final paragraphs read, “They aren’t made of the same stuff, the Book of Mormon and the Bible. One is God-breathed and one is written by man. The LORD’s divinity is apparent in the juxtaposition.”
It ended with the first verse of the Gospel of John and a word of encouragement.
— This is the first time I’ve done something that has potential to offend, to have negative resonance, and like most of my first times, it isn’t small. I can only hope and pray as I swallow my heart back to where it should be that the LORD will do a work through this, and that it’ll all go to His glory.
I’m scared I’m scared I’m scared It’s sent It’s scary I’m scared I’m scared I’m scared
Half of me feels like this:
While the other half of me feels like this: