Friday, January 25, 2008

shelly's scrumptious skills, and samoas

I think that when you are feeling the slightest bit intimidated, you should make a list of everything you are good at. It makes you feel thankful, no matter what. The best thing about making this list is that you don't ACTUALLY have to be good at the things on the list, you only have to THINK you are.
So here is a recent list I made on a Chili's napkin. I would have written it on my hand, but I was eating a tiny hamburger on a stick. (This is by no means all-inclusive or in order, btw. I'm not including "giving,""recycling," or "loving Jesus" because that is just obnoxious, and hopefully, obvious.) If some of these are repeats from earlier posts, I apologize.

Things I am Good At:
1. Writing on My Hand
2. Name That Girl Scout Cookie
3. Stealing Pens
4. Flip Turns (swimming)
5. Spying a Left-Handed Person From a Mile Away
6. Mocking Food-Network Hosts
7. Making Pancakes and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches While Wishing I Paid More Attention to Food-Network Hosts
8. Napping
9. Creating Interpretive Dances Using Sports Equipment (This requires explanation. My middle school gym teachers didn't actually TEACH us hockey or tennis -- we had to make up dances to "She's Drives Me Crazy" and "Jump" using cones, balls, hockey sticks and tennis rackets; also, there was a lot of flailing, bouncing and jazz hands involved. Not surprisingly, the gym teachers were also the cheerleading sponsors).
10. Incorporating "Seriously" and "Whatever" into everyday conversation.
11. Feigning Interest/Listening
12. Passing Shots (tennis)
13. Changing Hair
14. Using Dog as Pillow
15. Forgetting Directions
16. Thinking Up Funny Titles for Things, Namely Other People's Fantasy Food-Network Shows
17. Tripping Up Stairs
18. Revising Everything I Write
19. Inspecting Teeth
20. Embracing Silence and Respecting Vulnerability (technically two, but I don't want to go overboard).

I won't be sad if no one responds to this post; I just want you to do it for yourself.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

#1 in a series on Young Adult literature

"Why do daemons have to settle?" Lyra said. "I want Pantalaimon to be able to change forever. So does he."
"Ah, they always have settled, and they always will. That's part of growing up. There'll come a time when you'll be tired of his changing about, and you'll want a settled form for him."
"I never will!"
"Oh, you will. You'll want to grow up like all the other girls. Anyway, there's compensations for a settled form."
"What are they?"
"Knowing what kind of person you are. Take old Belisaria. She's a seagull, and that means I'm a seagull too. I'm not grand or splendid nor beautiful, but I'm a tough old thing and I can survive anywhere and always find a bit of food and company. That's worth knowing, that is. And when your daemon settles, you'll know the sort of person you are."
"But suppose your daemon settles in a shape you don't like?"
"Well, then you're discontented, en't you? There's plenty of folk as'd like to have a lion as a daemon and they end up with a poodle. And till they learn to be satisfied with what they are, they're going to be fretful about it. Waste of feeling, that is."
But it didn't seem to Lyra that she would ever grow up.

-- Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass, pg. 167-168

Monday, January 14, 2008

doppelgangers of the world, compete

In what can only be described as a funny coincidence (okay, I was googling myself to avoid work), recently I came upon my (or one of my) doppelganger in The Tuscon Citizen. I don't know about you, but I rarely think about the fact that there are probably many people out there with my name. But when I do (don't try to pretend you haven't googled yourself), I wonder what kinds of lives those other "Shelly Sanders" are living, what they are doing, and what types of things they say. (I try to go with the most current version of my name, but I guess the possibilities are endless if I look for Michelle Weed, or Shelly Weed or Michelle Sanders or whatever). Anyway, it kind of cracks me up when I read quotes from these ghosts of myself. So, in case you were wondering, there is another Shelly Sanders out there who apparently loves her dog WAY more than me, is definitely more flexible and makes a lot more money. Sigh.

From "They're Dogged in Hunt For Perfect Gifts" by Ryn Gargulinski in The Tuscon Citizen, 12.22.07

"They have a whole wardrobe with all kinds of festive things," said owner Shelly Sanders. "Easter dresses, Halloween costumes, Christmas sweaters, biker wear. They have University of Arizona cheerleading outfits they wear to tailgating parties."
She said all the pampering is worth it to see the smiles in every eye that spies the doggie duo.
One of the most extravagant items Sanders bought was a $150 hand-knit sweater embroidered with Stella's name. That - and first class airplane tickets.
"They travel everywhere with us," said Sanders, a certified yoga instructor who makes frequent trips to Los Angeles and New York.

So... does anyone out there have any interesting "second self" stories?

a new semester

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

one of the best last paragraphs EVER

"Where language touches the earth there is the holy." -- N. Scott Momaday.

I recently reread House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday, and I am just in awe of his writing. It is almost unbearably beautiful to read. If this last paragraph doesn't make you want to read the preceding 184 pages of Pulitzer-prize winning prose about an American Indian named Abel, then I don't know what you are doing reading my blog (Just kidding! Thanks for reading!). And THANK YOU, Mr. Momaday. You challenge me to be a better writer.

"The soft and sudden sound of their going, swift and breaking away all at once, startled him, and he began to run after them. He was running, and his body cracked open with pain, and he was running on. He was running and there was no reason to run but the running itself and the land and the dawn appearing. The sun rose up in the saddle and shone in shafts upon the road across the snow-covered valley and the hills, and the chill of the night fell away and it began to rain. He saw the slim black bodies of the runners in the distance, gliding away without sound through the slanting light and the rain. He was running and a cold sweat broke out upon him and his breath heaved with the pain of running. His legs buckled and he fell in the snow. The rain fell around him in the snow and he saw his broken hands, how the rain made streaks upon them and dripped soot upon the snow. And he got up and ran on. He was alone and running on. All of his being was concentrated in the sheer motion of running on, and he was past caring about the pain. Pure exhaustion laid hold of his mind, and he could see at last without having to think. He could see the canyon and the mountains and the sky. He could see the rain and the river and the fields beyond. He could see the dark hills at dawn. He was running and under his breath he began to sing. There was no sound, and he had no voice; he had only the words of a song. And he went on running on the rise of the song. House made of pollen, house made of dawn. Qtsedaba."

p.s. Oh, sorry to "ruin" the ending, but I figured it was worth it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

some thoughts about listening, and telling

For the past couple of months, I have been given the opportunity to be a part of a church-sponsored group that meets once a week to talk about, well, let's just say that we talk about how we can help more people in our day-to-day interactions. We are attempting to talk to our church about helping people and developing relationships with people we wouldn't normally even look twice at. There are lots of acronyms involved and words like "missional" and "intersection" thrown about, but that's not really important, nor what this post is about. The thing is, I was hesitant about joining this group, wary of why I was being asked to be a part of it, and frustrated at the seeming initial lack of organization. I was thrown into a group of people of varying ages and asked to work together with them. I could see from the beginning that I would need to do a lot of listening in order to find my place, or to be in any way helpful to them.

Let me digress a little bit here to say that honestly I have been trying, for the last couple of months, anyway, not to think too hard about God. Thinking about God or talking about God inevitably made me sad, because it made me think about all of the unanswered questions that I have, and the grief that has been following me like a lost dog for the past couple of years.

What am I trying to say? Tonight's meeting made me think about God. And it was okay. I was thinking about how amazing it is when you really listen to people, though you may or may not agree with them or even understand them. I've just been reminded of the staggering multiplicity of stories that are out there, on people's tongues and unfolding in people's lives. I am not just talking from my "writer's" platform, either. The sheer enormity of stories, anecdotes, lessons, whatever you want to call them, were reflected to me in the stars on my drive home. Maybe that is cliche -- stories are like stars -- and suddenly I'm remembering the Bible verse that talks about how God knows each hair on our head, each grain of sand, each star in the sky, and I'm thinking about the giant web of intersection that is life. Yes, we never know who we are helping, and the ripple effect that kindness can produce. But what I want to say is this. I was humbled and comforted to know that my stories, the ones that have been told and cried and laughed over a hundred times, and the ones that are never told -- the stories that I will never tell and that I will never hear from others' lips -- those stories are still important. Those stories are, somehow, being reflected in what has happened in the past, and is happening in the present, and will happen in the future. Even stories about people who died too young, or were never even given the chance to take a first breath.

When this group I am meeting with finally comes up with a "game plan," that will be wonderful. But some of the amazing work that is being done is in that little conference room with a group of people that may or may not understand each other at every moment. Stories don't have to be ABOUT God or about faith to BE God or to BE faith. There is faith in each story that we start; to me, there is an element of the divine that we open our mouths or hold out our hands, and words are shared that SAY something. So maybe the most important thing is not necessarily that we are understanding everything, but that we recognize that the telling, or even the potential for telling, is enough.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

samson by regina spektor

I would just like to say that moving origami is always cool. Also, a little known fact about me is that I am not half bad at origami. Definitely plan to include it in my music video debut.