Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wow. Oh. Wow.

I was driving around town in my daddy’s Prius flipping through channels (NPR was on commercial) when a gem of a song came on the radio. It was Usher’s OMG and o.m.G that man knows how to turn a phrase!

After hearing that song, “Got me like, oooh myyy gosh I’m soooo in love!”

But, as Will.I.Am (featured) interjected before the first chorus, “I’m gonna let the beat drop.”

I realize, Mr. Usher, that I’m no “shawty,” and I was never “on the dance floor . . . dancing sexy, pop, pop, popping, dropping” and that I didn’t “hit [you] on the first sight . . . like dynamite,” but even my physical assets deserve more lyrical adulations than

“got a booty like pow, pow, pow—
Got some boobies like wow,  oh wow.”

Because “oh, oh, oh my, oh, oh, oh my, my, my, my, my, my, ooh my gosh oh, oh” I know four year olds who have a more advanced lexicon.

Ladies: join me in demanding more advanced diction regarding approbation directed towards our many and varied attributes. Our bodies deserve both ice cream and thoughtful commendations.

“Baby. I can break it down.”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Marriage Plot

I recently read The Marriage Plot by Geoffrey Eugenides. As with many modern books that aren’t for young adults, it was difficult for me—and that’s not because I have trouble understanding words like uxorious and subitize (neither of which were in this book).

These kinds of books are difficult for me because the characters are so realistic and (thus) frustrating. One of the main characters is Madeleine, a rather oblivious rich hottie with a passion for Jane Austen and planning her life around her manic-depressive-abusive boyfriend. Looking for love and intimacy through sex and romantic destiny, she is quite lost but neither she nor Eugenides solve what is a glaringly obvious problem. Defining her life through intimacy with other people (boyfriends primarily, using sex primarily), gives her no foundation from which to build a solid life.

I have trouble identifying with books like this because they show the clear source of a problem many people face today (loneliness, aimlessness)—and then sort of shrug and wander away. “Dudes,” the book (and current armchair philosophy) says, “life’s a bitch, and people let you down, but . . .you know . . . there’s no real answers, so yeah. Make the best of it. Love yourself, be “true,” and good luck.”

We’re smarter than that.

It’s uncool right now to believe there are black and white rules, Biblical right and wrong—designed not to curb pleasure but to enhance it. But why? Why are we so hell-bent on freedom that makes us act like jerks and feel lonely?

One of the other characters rants a little about Job. We all know the story: God allows Satan to do all sorts of horrible things to Job, because he is God’s poster-boy. All of the horrible things—the killing of his children and destruction of his property and so on—occur before the first two chapters of Job are complete. The next 36 chapters are a conversation between Job’s friends and Job, as he cries out in anguish to God.

So this character says, “In the Old Testament, Job is always asking God questions. ‘Why do you do so terrible things to me? I am your faithful servant.’ He goes on asking and asking. But does God answer? No. God doesn’t say nothing.”

False. God does answer after 36 long, annoying chapters. What’s more, the book of Job could have gone on and on past those 36 chapters of conversation and questioning (on the subject of 2 chapters of action) into the twenty-first century when people are still asking, “Why God? Why would you do this to me? Why is there suffering?”

God answers Job; he answers us—and he is very, very clear.

He speaks from chapter 38 to chapter 41 and I recommend the full version, but here are the verses relevant to this discussion (in rather sarcastic glory):

Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said:

“Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?
Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? . . .
Have you ever given orders to the morning,
Or shown the dawn its place—
That it might take the earth by the edges
And shake the wicked out of it? . . .
Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?     . . .
Unleash the fury of your wrath!
Look at every proud man and bring him low
Look at every proud man and humble him,
Crush the wicked where they stand.
Bury them all in the dust together;
Shroud their faces in the grave.
Then I myself will admit to you
That your own right hand can save you.”

God answers Job and he answers us. When who we are defines our lives, we don’t like to hear how unimportant we are. When the people we surround ourselves with define our lives, we don’t like to hear how unimportant they are, too.

Read the full version—it’s even more badass.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Can You Raise Your Voice to the Clouds?

When my parents came to visit my in Busan, there was a moment on the subway with them when I felt my identity as a Schnabel more forcefully than perhaps ever before. As the subway doors closed, my dad nodded his head back and forth, precisely to the beat of the three perky warning tones the subway always plays when the doors close. Unconsciously, he was making exactly the same motions I had been making ever since my first Busan subway ride—even the scant music in the beats compelling me to nod along automatically.

We are indeed a musical family, but, contrary to what people might think considering our family’s string quartet, we actually talk about other things than music quite a lot. A favorite topic is athletics. After finishing morning workouts, we give each other play-by-plays while dad turns on the Tour de France and mom and I ice ankles and rehydrate. Right now it’s Joe Paterno this and seriously, our U.S. Men’s soccer team didn’t make the Olympics? that and, as we watch cyclists churn up a hill to the strains of commentators remarking on Lance Armstrong’s constant doping charges, mom asking, “What do you think is the. most. boring. sport to watch on TV.? My parents will even graciously (and occasionally and with comprehension) listen to me rhapsodize about the Spanish national team (seriously: did we all watch that performance in the Euro final? Dominance).

We’re also very focused on weather, for some reason. I know that sounds banal, and it sort of is—as if we’re a family with nothing to talk about. I’d rather blame it on dad’s farming background and our position in the weather-wise mercurial Midwest.

That was my attempt at making this blog post interesting, because I really just wanted to talk about weather, and no one besides my family (and Indiana farmers—shout out!) seem to find it as innately fascinating as we do. So: for all of you on different continents or, Hilary, in the supposed desert of AZ which actually has gotten more rain than us in the past month, we in the Midwest have been having a bit of a dry spell. The grass is brown as dirt this summer and the crops are having a bit of trouble.

But today in the mid-afternoon, the clouds began to muster in the southwest, all dark and grumbly. We’ve been waiting far too long and there wasn’t nearly enough, but at last: rain. When it came, I indulged in a brief deluge dance, gymnastic exhibition, and did some juggling (soccer, not clown) before Gracie, the prissy beagle, begged me back under the porch’s awning. And here we now sit, the rain long-since passed, but the cloud pattern still beautiful.

What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
to water a land where no man lives
a desert with no one in it,
to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and to make it sprout with grass.
Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens,
when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?

Job 38:25-30 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Unapologetic Quotes Dump

Here are the results of my aforementioned quotes search. I do love me some Byron, but this Camus one is nice, too:

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. 
Albert Camus

Aaaand the Byron...

Nothing is so amiable as discernment.

All farewells should be sudden, when forever.

Self love for ever creeps out, like a snake, to sting anything which happens to stumble upon it.

But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew, upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.

A woman who gives any advantage to a man may expect a lover but will sooner or later find a tyrant.

There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.

I shall soon be six-and-twenty. Is there anything in the future that can possibly console us for not being always twenty-five?

Sincerity may be humble, but she cannot be servile.

Romances I ne'er read like those I have seen.

A man must travel, and turmoil, or there is no existence.

Summer in the Suburbs

Because I am garbage at descriptions, I googled “famous quotes about summer.” This was a mistake as I now have a full page of mostly Byron quotes that I want to somehow incorporate into a single blog post about how I’m feeling, which is sentimental. And no one needs that. I am currently reading a book by Leon Someone Podles whose sentimentality regarding a masculinity that involves obligatory bloodshed and initiation rites, I renounce all writing to the odious tune of sentiment.

But, as Samuel Taylor Coleridge says, “Summer has set in with its usual severity” and I couldn’t be more joyful about it. I am living The Summer of George (so to speak), which goes something like this:

       ·         Waking up before 7 (I’m the lazy one of the family; Gracie and my mom are up by five) to do my morning Bible study which includes prayers written by Karl Barth and memorizing Job 38. (33 verses down, 9 to go!)

       ·        Working out twice a day—once in the morning for cardio (running) and once in the evening for strength (yoga). My body is both delighted and displeased to be taxed this way again.

       ·        Going to a drawing class from 3-5. Because either the adult class requires an AARP card or because I still look like a fifteen-year-old, I was signed up for the kids class. It is way too much fun and a great reminder to sign up for the random things that pop into your life. More on this one later.

       ·        Reading, writing and studying.

Maybe the vast majority of you don’t rhapsodize about unlimited time to sit quietly on the porch in the shade surrounded by trees and grass with a nice cup of cool-aid in front of you, but for me, it is the essence of idyllic. About an hour on Greek, an hour-ish on an academic book, two hours or so of writing, and whatever rabbit trails pop up (did you know that the Biblical canon was not formally decided upon until the sixteenth century? After the Protestant Reformation! According to Wikipedia. I’ve got more research to do).

 Occasionally I’ll take a break and watch The Big Bang Theory with mom. Dad and I watched Band of Brothers earlier and I’ve indulged in way too much X-Men to be healthy. Sometimes, when Gracie feels like it, we snuggle. Most days I eat a McDonald’s ice cream cone. Summer in the suburbs is marvelous.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On This July Fourth: Embrace Your Love Handles, America!

For the past few years, if I had gotten to choose my country of birth and childhood I would have chosen Australia or maybe Italy. Frankly, I would’ve chosen pretty much anywhere except America. Perhaps it started when I was obligated to say the pledge of allegiance every day before elementary school, but ever since I’ve smirked at America, hating it for being fat, and loud—for being wasteful, culturally insensitive and more than occasionally ignorant of the world outside its boundaries, and for its embarrassing politics. And perhaps the worst thing about America is that its people are incurably cynical. Like me.

I won’t lose my cynicism anytime soon, nor do I have much hope for American politics, but on this July fourth, I have something to say, America:

Stop hating on yourself.

Yes, you are fat but you make fantastic food. Your pizza’s unbelievable, your sandwiches delicious, and your cookies are worth every single pound. Love handles are the products of calories well spent on the best dinners and desserts worldwide.

We all hate your wastefulness, but it’s a byproduct born of your most amazing asset: space. Russia and Canada are hella big—but you are big and hospitable. Grasslands and hills and mountains and backyards—space to move, air to breathe, and room to relax. It takes a lot of cars and a lot of gas to cover that space.

You are also an obnoxious country in many ways and maybe I’ll never get used to it. However, I consider the loud ridiculousness yet another byproduct of a vibrant individualism. Sure it churns out a lot of crap (I could list a whole lot of bands and movies and Kim Kardashian here, but I’ll let you fill in the blanks). I admit it, though: you make many fine movies, occasionally t.v. shows, and Adam Levine. Good work.

There’s no getting around how embarrassing our politics are which is why I have to praise American senses of humor. Thank you, Colbert and Stewart, and everyone else that knows how to laugh at our vice president actually shot someone while in office and so on.

Nothing makes you appreciate home quite so much as leaving it. So this July Fourth, I say “Rock on America” and I’m happy to be home.