A Curious Girl

The musings of a girl who is curious in both senses of the word. Life, God, and York. Oh, did I say York? I meant Bradford!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Happy Shakespeare's Birthday

On St. George's day, this playwright was born,
Envied by every poet amateur.
He died too on this day, and so we must mourn,
In our best iambic pentameter.

His comedies were raucous and daring,
His histories were all spectacular,
He is known for profound words declaring ,
And phrases used in the vernacular.

Take time to wish the Bard your very best,
For the sonnets and phrases that amaze,
For the stories that have surpassed the rest,
For every one of thirty-seven plays.

Thought children may feel tortured by him still,
I'm not a child, so happy birthday, Will.

We English should be proud! But, you know, not get in anyone's way, or offend anyone, we'll feel proud, though, deep down inside, and eat our good old English meals (like Chicken Tikka Masala) with a quiet humble pride.

Because, well, we wouldn't want to boast or anything, and certainly it's just serendipity that we happened to be born in this fair country, but Shakespeare was certainly a jolly talented chap. I'm sure that St. George fellow was wonderful too - of course it's rather sad that he wasn't English, probably never came to this country, very probably didn't actually kill a dragon. But never mind. We English are accommodating, providing of course they speak our language and not Foreign, and providing they don't insult our food.

Let's eat yorkshire pudding together, and recite our creed - I sincerely believe that England will, despite any odds, win the World Cup.

God save the Queen!

Cue chorus of Jerusalem...

Note: I since learned that Chicken tikka masala isn't English after all.

It's Scottish.

Now that's a Burn's night meal! We hae meat and we can eat...

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Even on a day like this when you're crawling on the floor
Reaching for the phone to ring anyone who knows you anymore
It's all right to make mistakes
You're only human
Inside everybody's hiding something

Staring at the same four walls, have you tried to help yourself
The rings around your eyes they don't hide, that you need to get some rest

It's all right to make mistakes
You're only human
Inside everybody's hiding something
Take time to catch your breathe and choose your moment

Don't slide

Even at a time like this when the morning seems so far
Think that pain belongs to you but it's happened to us all

It's all right to make mistakes
You're only human
Inside everybody's hiding something
Take time to catch your breathe and choose your moment

Don't slide

You brought this on yourself
And it's high time you left it there
Lie here and rest your head
And dream of something else instead

Don't slide
- Dido, Don't Slide

Lately I've been slipping down
Thinking I'm the only one
Drifting in and out of blue
But destiny's a state of mind
And today I'm doing fine
Just rolling through the afternoon with you
- Heather Nova, Widescreen

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Writes of Passage

With finals so soon, many thoughts are buzzing around my head, like "Where am I going?" "What should I do?" and "Had I eaten the wrong mushrooms when I picked Biochemistry?"

If I'd taken something like, say, English and Performance, there would be much less pressure on my future career. I could be:

a) unemployed.
b) doing a PGCE to pass the time.
c) "You want fries with that?"

(All right, I'm sorry, any English and performance students, please don't hunt me down and kill me, or at least if you do want to kill me, do it before finals)

It's really a bit depressing working on finals with the main intention of finishing the degree so I can head for the hills and never go into a lab ever again. All right, I wouldn't mind if, say, I had a job in a lab for a few months to get some money, but please, I don't want to be doing this for the rest of my life.

Only I don't really know what else to do. It'd be nice to have a grand plan, but right now my grand plan is literally "pass degree, get job, get money" and that isn't exactly encouraging. I just want to get a job where I can be some good to other people, only I've no idea how I can do that and right now I feel generally useless, and perhaps this is because I should actually be working on my degree rather than posting introspective blog entries.

I'd just like not to be a waste of space, that's all.

I did have something of an epiphany recently when I was reading a story... OK, a fanfic... that I wrote a while ago and remembered a nice comment someone had given me about it. Then I remembered how people nagged me to finish some of my stories and actually laughed at my jokes and appreciated my ideas and I had a sudden moment of revelation when I realised that I could be a writer.

I do have a personal pledge to myself that I will never under any circumstances attempt to become a "great" writer. I met too many of those in a writing group I was in for a couple of months; people whose obsession with flowery language and grand ideas and "originality" often really ended up making their stories sound laboured or even unreadable. Because I'm the sort of philistine who prefers J.K. Rowling to Philip Pullman, I figured I'd rather just write good books that people enjoy, rather than intending on writing tomes encapsulating intense philosophical ideas. If I happen to mix in some philosophy or ideology I'd rather just do it because it comes naturally in the story.

I used to have the vague ambition of writing Christian fiction, which was quashed because I'm bad at it. Whenever I get vaguely near to moralising it sounds like something lifted from The Youth Bible. Or perhaps it's because I feel I ought to include God as a character, which doesn't seem right somehow, you can't invent a theophany. There's also the problem that I dislike most Christian fiction, apart from C.S. Lewis and Adrian Plass. I rather like Adrian Plass's approach, which seems to be just to write about life as it is and not write as evangelism. I think in Why I Follow Jesus he said that God can use his books, but then God can use any old rubbish.

In a possible irony, in Charles M. Sheldon's book In His Steps, the only character who backs down on his WWJD pledge is a novelist. The trouble is, it's quite simple to be, say, a builder for Christ. Build homes for the needy, treat your co-workers with respect and don't whistle at women in the street. (I once saw a cartoon with a builder calling down, "Excuse me, ma'am, you look very nice today" and the caption "Politically correct builders" :) ) OK, if you're a builder please don't come and kill me, or, again, do it before finals...

However, being a writer for Christ will always be a bit troubling because you can't really write books for the poor (except perhaps the poor in spirit, and they're a lot harder to cater for), and because you're dealing with words which are trickier than bricks. Forget the crap about sticks and stones, words are dangerous. Honouring God with words is a tricky business, as I'm sure Charles M. Sheldon realised. And how am I supposed to go about it? Should I take a year out to finally write my novel, or stick to web publishing and blogging?

I don't know, except I did at least have a sudden moment when I realised that my writing need not be all about me. I could write something someone else could enjoy, and perhaps (I hopefully thought) perhaps this could honour God, even if it wasn't directly about him? I enjoy writing articles for York uni's Christian magazine, but I'm not sure I'm ready (not old or wise enough) to be the next Philip Yancey, and I utterly refuse to be the next Rick Warren (and there could be only one Julian of Norwich). Could I really stick at it long enough to write a proper full-length book?

As usual, I'm not sure, but I would really like to. It would be wonderful simply to write something that people could enjoy, and hopefully also be encouraged by. It would be good to know that I'm some good to someone else :)

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Giving up is hard to do

Happy Eastertide everyone - it seems like it's been so long, mainly because it has been so long.

So it's been an interesting... er, 51 days... I missed blogging like crazy, and when in need of therapy had to resort to hot chocolate, or failing that, actual human contact. I kept thinking of amusing anecdotes, most of which I've now forgotten. I've settled at a church I shall rechristen "St. Weirdo's" for the purposes of blogging (really, how could I attend anywhere else?), I did a mini Gilbert and Sullivan concert with the society and sung the part of Mabel in a Pirates of Penzance song - yay!

In all the time that's past I can at least tell you that in that time the oddest compliment I received was "Who is the girl with the wonderful eyebrows?" although an honourable mention goes to "if I was a girl, I'd want hair like Helen's."

I had a great Easter. Saw my parents, siblings, siblings-in-law, sister-in-law's parents, and had a lovely Easter Sunday slobbing in front of the television with Stephen and Nicky before I came back to York. I made them watch Shipwrecked. Hopefully that doesn't actually contravene the Geneva Convention.

So finals are soon, and it's less than 100 days to graduation. Eeek.

I must have read at least three books - What the Bible really teaches by Keith Ward, Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich (a woman, despite the name), and Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. Can't believe it's taken me this long to get into Jasper Fforde. I loved Revelations of Divine Love (extremely quotable, about half of my copy has pencilled underlines) and I enjoyed Keith Ward's book a lot too, but I'm not really in the mood for the kind of discussion it would probably encourage right now. Plus I have a little thing called a degree to finish off :)

I don't know if my blogfast brought me closer to God. I have, as always, had many Deep Thoughts which I'll no doubt be blogging in future. And I wrote this yesterday. I call it the "Messy Christian's Prayer". Enjoy and God bless :)

Father God,

It seems that following you is a rocky road with many surprises. Please keep me safe and let me love you and know you more and more each day.

May I never utter the following lies:
“I’m very open-minded.”
“My beliefs are always based on fact.”
“I don’t cry easily.”
“When I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it.”
“I hate that sentimental stuff.”
“I’m happy all the time now that I have Jesus.”
“My heart’s one desire is to be holy.”
“Every step I make is a step of faith.”
“I will not boast in anything…”

May I never let my faith puff me up.

May I never be afraid of questions.

May I never claim that you always answer prayers, and certainly never claim that you never do – may I always be prepared for surprises.

May I never equate tradition or quietness with spiritual death, and may I always find time to be still and know that you are God.

May I never ever claim “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.”

May I never equate witnessing to just not drinking or swearing in front of non-Christians.

May I never assume that someone with a different religion worships the Devil – unless, of course, they actually do.

May I never grow tired of learning.

May I never cease to be thankful.

May I never think being high on Jesus is a substitute for living a Christian life, and never cease to look for you in everyday places.

Let me always love other Christians, let me always love my enemies, and help me when they happen to be the same people.

Cure my itching ears so they only hear the truth and not just what I want to hear.
Remind me that playing solitaire is no substitute for prayer.

Forgive me my sins, even the ones I enjoyed, and especially the ones that still make me chuckle when I remember them.

Help me give even when it hurts, love when I want to hate, think before I speak and practise what I preach.

And may I always trust you and not myself, and remember that you’re much bigger than fear.

Amen.

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