Loving something not quite human.

I’m beginning to love Paul, in a way that I never really loved Frances, but still no where near the way that I have always loved Bud and Jumpy and Olga and Anya. If you have no idea what I am talking about, that is okay, I’m being intentionally cryptic. Maybe upon first reading you would think that all of those names belonged to people, but really, they belong to comic strip characters that I have created over the years. So here is what I did, for kicks mostly, but also for posterity: I have created a Bud Ralphy website. This is nothing fancy at all, just a place to showcase the evolution of a comic strip character, created by a 7th grader and still fiercely loved by a college graduate.

Check it out if you’d like. The Bud Ralphy Archives.

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Now that cork is a thing of the past.

Doesn’t anyone use staplers anymore? Is this somehow related to the Going Green movement? Here is what I know: today I set out to do some postering for my show on Sunday. Thinking I was one step ahead of things I tore my house apart trying to find a stapler so that I could staple my fliers to all of the community bulletin boards. I thought I was being so clever. Only once I was out in the thick of town did I realize that there are no bulletin boards anymore, everyone simply tapes up fliers. Tapes them to windows, tapes them to kiosks, tapes them to any kind of surface. I didn’t have any tape–I had a stapler. What is this about? What happened to bulletin boards?

*Oh, an edit:  I forgot to mention that I did come across one bulletin board in all of my travels today, at the laundromat down the street.  It was my last stop before coming home and I used at least six staples to hang that flier up, which was, of course, more than was necessary, but what can you say to a girl who has been yearning all afternoon to staple?  She just has to staple.

American Idol Worshiper (or Focus, part two).

If something does not draw me closer to God, it brings me further away from him. There is no standing still. Everything is an action. If I have felt a distance from God in the weeks since Easter it is because I took an action to turn my eyes away from him. I don’t want to be so simplistic to say that giving certain things up for Lent was my way of drawing near to God, but, while it did afford me plenty of time to instead meditate on God, what have I done with my free time since then?

I have spent hours poring over my music and looking for new artists, I have spent hours watching movies and reading books that are unhealthy for me, I have spent hours worrying about my health and human relationships, I have spent hours watching stupid videos online and hovering around pointless websites, I have spent hours sleeping while dishes lay dirty in the sink and laundry collects in a heap on my floor. These are all active choices, and why don’t I call them what they are: they are idols (at least for me in my context). And I am an idol worshiper.

This is no revelation. I’ve always suspected music was an idol of mine, which is why it felt good to give it up on the times that I have. I probably should have suspected all of those other things were idols too, and while there are plenty of things in the human experience which I don’t idolize (fashion, television, celebrity, intellectualism, material accumulation – generally) a single, tiny idol is one giant idol too many. This morning I was reading in First Samuel the story that takes place right before the Israelites demand a king for themselves, where they are being afflicted by the Philistines and Samuel offers a sacrifice to the Lord to bring deliverance. Right before he makes the sacrifice, Samuel says to the Israelites: “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” It couldn’t be clearer. I need to get rid of these idols. Everything eternal depends on it.

Yes, yes, just when I was starting to sound fun again I go and ruin it by writing a post like this one. But let me clarify something (I feel like I clarify this a lot). I don’t think there is anything wrong with music or movies or comics or romance or naps, and I don’t think God is expecting me to cut those things out of my life completely. But they need to be rightly ordered. I’ve gone through extreme phases where I thought entertainment in any form was inherently evil, but I’m certain now that it’s not. We are meant to have some fun in this life. Music and film and all of those things can bring glory to God, and often does! But it can also suck me of my devotion. It comes back to the matter of focus, I think, and it comes back to the line I opened with: If something does not draw me closer to God, it brings me further away from him. It’s about time I reordered a few things.

You’re already so far away from me.

I have a date for the wedding! Just when I was ready to accept my fate as the lonesome bridesmaid, toeing shyly at the edge of the dance floor, my good friend and former band mate has agreed to keep me company. Well all right, she’ll be my guest, not my date, but that’s even better. The Art Table!

Speaking of, Holly and I spoke tonight about a possible reunion show. Holly, who has moved on to bigger and better musical endeavors, suggested this last fall but I shrugged it off at the time. Recently I have really been missing the good old days of The Main Stage and The Eagle’s Club, the days of Mable and Diana, and shipwrecks and dog bites and zombies (of course). Holly recently bought a new drum kit and offered to give the old Art Table kit back to me (“back” because once upon a time, long before we even dreamed of playing music together, they had been my drums and I sold them to her). It would be fun, having a drum set again, and maybe this time I would actually learn the proper way to play them, but I just don’t know where they could live. Drums and multi-family apartment buildings don’t mix, generally.

Years overdue, I finally got around to watching American Splendor this evening. Combined with a quick library read of an Adrian Tomine novel (yes, the same one I sniffed at with snobbish disdain last week) I come away from this evening a bit inspired to return to the graphic form of storytelling. Although it seems, at times, like I can barely keep my monthly comic strip afloat, I can’t shake the idea that there is some tiny little story inside me that can most effectively be told with pictures. I know it will never be anything epic, and it may not even stand on it’s own. But I think I have to get it out of me. If only I knew what it was. In the meantime I think I’d like to buckle down on my comic strip, get to know the cast of characters better. Did you know my comic strip is about a blogger named Paul? I didn’t even know his name was Paul until just recently. It’s time we got acquainted!

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You know I’m not usually a fan of music videos, but watch this one and try not to smile:

Focus.

I didn’t mean to complain about being sick. I mean, it’s a drag, but it’s a really small thing in comparison to pretty much anything else happening anywhere, to anyone. I should have kept writing this past week. I should have kept painting, I should have kept reading, I should have kept on, but mostly I just coughed and thought wistfully back on the nights of deep, restful sleep. Apparently this one lasts two weeks, so I’m over halfway through. And that’s the last I’ll write about it, I promise.

It’s difficult to write about much else, though, because in my past week and a half as a zombie I haven’t really experienced anything, or haven’t been alert enough to notice it. I checked out a couple videotapes from the library (if you recall that ancient technology) and I put the finishing touches up at Mother Fool’s (title cards and a wordy artist statement). I found my Dear Nora pin while giving my car a spring cleaning.

I feel like life took a little bit of a dip after Easter. The Church calendar can be a useful thing or not, depending on who you talk to, but I think that this past Lent was maybe a little too useful. That is, I think I was able to work myself into such a concentrated state of reflection on the events leading up to and surrounding Christ’s death that when the time came for us to celebrate his life and move forward I haven’t known quite what to do. I had put a lot of emphasis on Lent, this year.

This past Sunday at church we were reminded that, if we are fans of the Church calendar, we actually celebrate Easter for 50 days, right up until the day of Pentecost. When I heard this I was a little bit excited, thinking, “Oh good, another season I can throw myself into!” As if I needed something to replace Lent, something new to focus on. But I think that is where people who are skeptical of the Church calendar would say, “Faith cannot be a focus on events and rituals. It must be a constant focus on God.” Which, of course, is true. But for some people those events and rituals can help us to focus on God. I don’t know. For some reason I haven’t been able to look as clearly upon God in the weeks following Easter. Is it a kind of postpartum phenomenon? Is it simply because I’ve been sick? Faith is an intricate thing, and very complicated. Anyway, I hope to be writing more again, about it, or about anything.

Double shots of cough syrup.

I am so sick of being sick.  I don’t sleep anymore.  It’s humbling, this extended tour away from my healthy home state.  We’re not as arrogant when we are ill.  We’re not so invincible, after all.

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