11 November 2010

I don't have epiphanies. Just mental housecleanings.

I read my bits of Acts and Philippians today…and I don’t know, somewhere between “be anxious for nothing” and “I count all things loss for Christ,” it hit me that if going to grad school for stage management, heck, if having a career in stage management isn’t going to or can’t be an act of love and worship for me – if it’s really all about late nights, too much caffeine, and sweating the small stuff…then why would I do it?

I’m not expressing myself well.

Anything that becomes too big and defining a part of one’s identity, save belonging to and with and in Christ, is going to become burdensome eventually. I have been there. Babysitter, best friend, stage manager – these are all good things, and I have abused them and suffered the consequences! I should know this by now. But maybe it took this semester to bring it home; maybe I needed this particular intersection of events to help me realize that stage management is not who I am, it is how I worship. Just like my relationships. Just like all my other work, anything I care about at all. When it tries to become more than that – when I start stressing about my Whole Future hanging on my abilities and all-inclusive drive in this area – we run into trouble.

What’s the verse? “I led her into dry places, where there is no water…and there I spoke tenderly to her.” Possibly Ezekiel. Or Song of Songs. Either way, I understand: God needs to take us into the desert for us to come out of our stupid blindness and finally turn to him, plugging ourselves in to his goodness and beauty and richness for all our needs, otherwise we are taken in by the excitement of other things, not realizing (we are very shortsighted) that everything must needs come back to him, and when we try to detach it and make it just our own, for our fulfillment in itself, it will wither and die.

Unless I have offered up my life as a sacrifice to be taken away, broken, killed and burnt first, it is of no use, to me or anyone else. I have to give it to Him in order for Him to entrust it to me, richer and better fed than before.

You may wonder what provoked this particular post. Well, it turns out that DePaul doesn’t actually offer stage management as a graduate study program. I was confused or misinformed somehow; they have it for undergraduate, but their graduate program is actually quite different. There was something about having all my rosy-starred expectations imploded in this way that made me stop and think, and realize how heavily I have been leaning on this future career to give me some fulfillment in life. And then, of course, we ran up against some basic assumptions and presumptions that I didn’t even know I had. Which train of thought has been none too pleasant, but is always good.

I’m still in love with Chicago, though. And I still want to work and live there; I’m still turning over ideas and theaters in my head. But now I’m thinking more seriously about what I’m expecting to get out of this, what I need to do for that meaning or fulfillment, and I’m wondering about ministry. I'm surprised I've never seriously thought about this before, actually - I think all the happiest, most content people I know have some area of ministry and/or sacrifice evident in their lives.

Sorry to leave you hanging at Michigan Avenue, by the way. In future, I will know to write my adventure-days all in one go, then post them in parts – otherwise they never get done at all. If anyone is really dying to know what else happened (doubtful), though, leave me a comment:) 

02 November 2010

a sampler

Today's To-Do:

-Costuming lab hours (gonna need that 'extra' credit)
-finish body block (picked out a vest design today. eep!)
-work on commercial garment (due in 2 weeks. Might want to cut out the fabric, like, yesterday.)
-Spanish homework
-overdue reading for WC class
-register for just-in-case spring classes
-Brecht handout
-more espresso
-work on Alice collages + paper (due in less than a week)
-figure out Hist & Lit paper
-Spanish vocabulary + grammar (everybody's dumb at something...right?)
-Hist & Lit reading
-work on (read: start) Hobbit portfolio, get a better handle on paper direction
-pick up library books
-go to work
-update blog?
11-1-10 (for about two more minutes…)

This whole consistency thing is harder than I thought it would be. Not because I don’t have things to say; I have tons of things still that I could talk about from the Chicago trip and everything. But justifying the time to sit down with this silly blog that nobody reads…well, I have lots of other things I could/should be doing. Like sleeping. I'm so tired, my eyes are practically closing themselves. But this blog is an agreement that I made with myself. And I’m trying to keep those better these days.

Saturday, then. Good grief; it seems like forever ago! But Saturday, I woke up around 830 without even setting an alarm, but cuddled back into bed for awhile, read my Bible, did a bit of journaling, as you can see at the end of my last post. Oh, those cats.

A bit later, though, Abi went over to her friend Alyssa’s apartment to make Swedish pancakes, and the rest of us followed a bit later. They were delicious, if a bit odd – a Swedish pancake is a bit like a crepe, and really simple, just flour and water and egg, I think. You fry them really thin, and then spread things on them, like jelly and peanut butter. I only had one, but it was delicious. Alyssa also had caramel and green apples, and a roomful of Swedish friends for us to meet. It was fun, and everyone was really nice and welcoming. Josh and I left comparatively soon, though, because we had a day of adventure before us!

Abi gave us directions back to the el, and away we went. (I forgot to mention the part where we decided where we were going – DePaul, then Columbia, then the Coach store (!!!), Navy Pier, and Gino’s East for dinner.) We took the brown line down to DePaul, and it was a pretty ride in daytime. I mean, not in the way you usually think of pretty scenery, with rolling vistas and such. Mostly it was the backs of houses and apartment patios. But on a bright, cool morning, in a new place with places to go and people to watch and all kinds of possibility to consider…it was really quite lovely.

So we got off and, after a quick and necessary Starbucks stop, made our way around DePaul. It being the weekend, there wasn’t much of anyone to talk to, but we got a feel for the campus and the neighborhood anyway, and their library and theatre buildings certainly beat the stuffing out of Truman’s.

After that, we took the brown line a little further down to Columbia College, which is on Michigan Avenue, which is apparently this Big Shopping Deal in Chicago. Columbia was quite inaccessible, being almost entirely closed and locked up on the weekends, but we visited the photography gallery and that was interesting. The theme was something to do with the issue of our Mexican border. Some of those pictures were really haunting. I can still remember the children's serious faces, and the empty look in some of their eyes. I remember, especially, the picture of the prostitute with her dress pulled up over her face. It was an unexpected interlude to our trip, but the kind that sticks with you, after.

By this point, we’d been visiting grad schools for half the afternoon, picking up pamphlets and asking questions and poking around – you know, school-visit stuff. It was time for a) food, and b) seeing a few sights.

Next time: up Michigan Avenue.