30 December 2010


Interesting coincidence: that's both my age today and (roughly) the number of days left to departure. Happy Birthday to me!

For today's post, we have some Dad-advice that I received about this time last year. Technically, it's all from Colin Powell, but came via my father and is all very, very Dad-advice-like in content.

I thought this post would be appropriate because this year, these kinds of injunctions actually mean something to me. I mean, sure, most of us hear this sort of thing from our parents our entire lives, starting at the age of reason if not earlier. (My personal favorite: "If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?" This always seemed like an insufferably stupid question to me, as it overlooked a number of important factors - how high is the cliff? Is there special equipment involved? Are we, for example, base-jumping? ...That probably tells you about as much as you can stand about what kind of child I was.) But now I've gotten old enough, and made enough mistakes, to know what they're talking about. 

So. Here we go. (Thanks, Dad. :) 


The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve.
Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity.
An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people.
As you grow, your associates will change.
Some of your friends will not want you to go on.
They will want you to stay where they are.
Friends that don't help you climb will want you to crawl.
Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don't increase you will eventually decrease you.
Never receive counsel from unproductive people.
Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how.
Not everyone has a right to speak into your life.
You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person.

Don't follow anyone who's not going anywhere.
With some people you spend an evening: with others you invest it.
Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life.
Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships.
A mirror reflects a man's face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.
The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate - for the good and the bad.
In Prosperity Our Friends Know Us. In Adversity We Know Our Friends.

This is applicable to family as well as friends.
Do love, appreciate and be thankful for your family, for they will always be your family no matter what.
Just know that they are human first and though they are family to you, they may be a friend to someone else and will fit somewhere in the criteria above.

Never make someone a priority when you are only an option for them.
If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. 
Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.

29 December 2010

a gray day.

Today's post is one that I actually wrote some time ago and never got around to putting up. Thus, it refers, not to today, but to a day very much like today. My feelings are much the same.


The sky is closed today.

It dazzles the eyes, though, if you look at it straight; if there were any such thing as a bright gray, this would be it. I don’t like the feeling of walking about under a shut sky – it makes me feel restless, discontent, and I have to have people to talk to and work to engage in so as to distract myself from this imprisonment. Some people really love gray days like this. I wonder if they are the same people that prefer to have their doors closed and their private spaces close and cosy, the corners and borders of their world clearly defined, their belongings all around them and the messiness of intruders carefully regulated.

Don’t get me wrong – I like my space and solitude, need it even, in certain amounts and with a distinct regularity. But my favorite days are the wide-open blue and breezy ones, when nature fills your senses and screws up your productivity in a maddening, shameless way. Like love, or a lovely woman, she consumes your time and plans, giving them back to you full of energy, perhaps, but woefully without what you had planned for them.

25 December 2010

Christmas 2010

"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore."

(Isaiah 9:6-7)

Merry Christmas, all.

23 December 2010

So. Much. Paperwork.

I am cleaning my room, reading Nathaniel Hawthorne and messing with my blog settings to avoid doing the paperwork.
Silly me; I thought it would be all done (or at least mostly done) by the time I got accepted to Kingston. Oh, no. Much more paperwork is required, once you're actually coming, than is needed just to let you try.

It's almost Christmas, dear readers, and although I'm not as much of a Scrooge as I was last year, it's still hard for me to really get into the spirit of things. This happens every year - everyone's eating cookies, watching TV specials, decorating and partying and giving to charity and I'm like, "Please leave me alone. It's cold and dark outside, and this means gloom."
Maybe part of it is that, even though the holiday is presented as sort of a happy parallel to Easter (or to Good Friday, really), I never can get over the fact that, picturesque as the Nativity scenes are, we are still remembering the birth of a God-child who was, firstly, committing the humblest, most sacrificial act imaginable by stepping down from God-ness (and the eternal companionship of the Trinity) to become a creature of breath and dust. Secondly, this child's only purpose in becoming was to die.
Did Mary actually get that, when the angel told her what was going to happen? Did it strike her, in its full weight, when He was born? Or did the knowledge sit somewhere deep inside her, mercifully muffled for thirty-three years, until her Son was tortured and hung out like so much carrion? When she faced Him then, was it the first time she had to swallow the fact that His entire life was lived for this moment?

I guess this is why Christmas isn't cute to me. Sometimes, though, it is peaceful. Thanks be to God.

17 December 2010

33 days.

Thirty-three days. A little over a month. And then, the adventure begins.
One month, to pack, plan, buy, clean, write, send, discuss, gather, fill out, arrange, check, double-check, and wait. How did this happen so fast? I'm hardly ready. Somehow this snuck up on me. There's so much to DO - and so many people to spend time with, to invest in, to get to know (and wish I'd gotten to know better) before I leave for five months.

January 21st, we arrive in London. Before that, there's a stopover in Copenhagen, after a departure from O'Hare International in Chicago, after a five-hour train ride from St. Louis to Chicago. Two days of travel, more or less. It's going to be exhausting, but exhilarating, and even more so if no luggage gets lost along the way (fingers crossed). I'll have to train myself to take at least a few pictures. I may have to buy myself a non-antiquated digital camera, and *then* train myself to take pictures...but we'll see what Christmas brings.

Dear Lord, I'm not ready. But here it comes anyway. It's funny how we pretend time goes in a straight line, when it's perfectly obvious for things like this that it's all balled up and stretched and crazy-tangled together. Most of all, I pray that I'll put this frankly priceless month to good use, and not take it for granted.