Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sun Wars

One of the unique things about going to a small college is that you have small classes (Wow, that didn’t really wind up sounding very brilliant). Small classes can be a disadvantage when you’ve just read some crazy poetry that made absolutely zero sense to you and your professor opens up his book and looks expectantly at your whopping class of four, waiting for some mind-numbingly brilliant comments. It’s moments like these you wish you were in a class of four hundred and could just shrink into the background and not have to pretend your brain actually works. On the other hand, a small class means you are forced to talk (as I just mentioned), more individual attention (*shudder* expectant stare-downs), and better relationships with your professors (depending on how well you can pretend your brain works). Best of all, though, it means flexibility. And flexibility means Starbucks time!

Today my Contemporary Poetics class headed over to Starbucks to sip coffee, discuss poetry, and enjoy the ridiculously warm weather. I was pretty excited until about fifteen minutes into class when I realized ‘enjoying the ridiculously warm weather’ also meant bake. I was sitting there attempting to make sense of the words on the page in front of me when I felt a strange sensation on my arm. My pale, white skin cells were shrieking “Help us, Rachel Fleeman; you’re our only hope!” Since I typically pay great attention to any part of my body that takes the time to shriek at me, I tried to subtly shift my body. Unfortunately, I was sitting perpendicular to the sun, so this simply meant the sun was now hitting the back of my left arm rather than the front of it. Once this strip of my skin joined in the protesting, I did a little more adjusting, trying to somehow make it so the sun could bake my right arm instead of my left arm, but I could still see my professor. I think I finally accomplished this by some awkward twisting and careful positioning of my arms and head, but by then it was too late. I was forced to resign myself to being half-lobster…now with a back ache and neck crick.

If you’re wondering what the moral of this story is, welcome to the club. I think it might have something to do with wonderful sunny California, awesome small classes, and needing to remember sunscreen the next time our flexible class relocates. On the other hand, it might have to do with hallucinations of screaming skin cells, conveying events completely hyperbolically, and trying to avoid pretending my brain actually works. Take your pick. I’m going to go soothe my hair follicles.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Deep within me lies a creature –
An overwhelming creature
Who is slowly nipping away at my being
I feel myself helpless in its power
Driven mad with its incessant clawing
The parchment of my soul
The fabric of my heart
Torn by that which is so hideously alive
Every so often its claw
Slides its way up my throat
Despite the tight constrictions
It wedges into my fleshy mouth
Awaiting the moment it can flash out
And grasp its prey
I leave a trail of brokenness in my wake
Because within me rages a creature –
A ravenous creature

Just Thinking

Sacrifice is an interesting thing. The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines sacrifice as “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.” We give things up because we think something else is more important – this seems pretty noble. But I wonder if it can also be dangerous. The other day in my Contemporary Poetics class we were talking about Romeo and Juliet. Romeo kills himself because he believes Juliet is dead. Dying for love – what a wonderful sacrifice! But does the fact that he dies make his love real?
Last night almost our whole school headed to Hollywood to see Grease at the Pantages Theatre. If you’ve seen the movie, you probably know that it’s got a lot of fun songs, but a fairly depressing ending. Sandra Dee sacrifices her good-girl nature so she can be with the guy she’s crazy about. My roommate was really upset about this turn-out. She didn’t have gut to stand up for herself and who she really was, I was told.
On the other hand, the whole basis of our Christian faith is sacrifice. Christ sacrificed himself for us and we are to give ourselves as “living sacrifices.” Why isn’t this wrong? Why does it feel so stupid to deny yourself for some guy, but so necessary to deny yourself for Christ? Why do so many of our “sacrifices” feel so shallow and ridiculous? Meaningless.
I wonder if it’s because so often we’re sacrificing “for the sake of something else” but this “something else” doesn’t last. It’s temporary, fleeting, inconsequential. I didn’t feel a sense of satisfaction watching Sandra Dee get her guy, because I didn’t have any real confidence that their relationship would work for more than two months. Romeo is heroic to many because once he and Juliet are dead it seems their love is immortalized. We can’t touch it.
We like the idea of the eternal. Sacrificing for something real. In my Bible class a couple of weeks ago we talked about the resurrection as our reason for sacrifice. We can surrender ourselves to God now because we hope for something greater – namely, the resurrection of the body. It’s hard to sacrifice like Christ wants us to sacrifice. Romantic characters are more appealing because they get immediate benefits. Christians don’t. But in the end, our sacrifice will be rewarded by God himself. Pretty awesome huh?