Monday, August 1, 2011

Breakfast at Anthropologie

"The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there."

-Holly Golightly

The way Holly Golightly felt about Tiffany's in Breakfast at Tiffany's, I realized recently, is exactly the way Amy Ha feels about Anthropologie. I know it's a mini-obsession and a joke among friends now, but it is pretty profound how I feel about that store. And I've decided it's gotten to the point where I have to think about why. That's me and my over-analytical nature. So I did some thinking, and I feel that it's because the store is completely about creating an atmosphere. Something that speaks without words, maybe to a part of you that you'd almost forgotten was there, a place your childlike wonder still hangs out, waiting to be awakened and delighted again.

You don't have to do the work, they did it for you. All you have to do is whip out your credit card, if you're the type to start feeling slaphappy about money as soon as you walk through those stunning doors. You flip through their catalog, and they're not just selling you (slightly pricey) apparel and home furnishings - they're selling a story.

A story you want to live. And I believe the rooms we live in day-to-day and the clothing we wear are some of the most intimate ways we tell our story. I realize that I've always been interested in interiors and clothing because that's exactly what you can do with them.

Their are countless atmospheres you can make, countless feelings to evoke with a simple image, color, background song. I'm a very sensuous person, and sometimes it helps me recharge to just shut down my verbal side and simply take things in. And the very fact that I can't really afford to shop at Anthro except a few times a year, and then only the sale items, gives me a surge in creativity. I can take their ideas and make them mine, even if I can't take all their merchandise home. I also get the thrill of the hunt when I find that one pair of gorgeous jeans that hasn't been snatched up in my size that's been marked down from $114 to $29.

So is it incredibly shallow to embrace all of this? I mean, aren't there infinitely more important things to think about? Well, yes, obviously. But then, didn't God create us to appreciate beauty and unusual objects, and to have some small part in creating our own story by molding the matter He gave us? To compulsively quote Lewis again, God LIKES matter! He made it!

Love to all!

Monday, June 27, 2011

To Judge and Be Judged

I recently had an experience that made me reevaluate my feelings on what it means to judge and be judged. I was never particularly cool or particularly freaky in school and always managed to stay mostly below the bully radar… and also not to catch the eye of any of the popular kids looking for new recruits. Desiring only a few close friends who actually “got” me, that was a relief on both counts. My family is squarely in the middle class, or perhaps upper middle class range (dunno or care exactly for sure), and I consider myself reasonably un-grotesque to look at. So while I have never been the social butterfly and have experienced bullying at times for my slightly unusual tastes in clothing, or exclusion for being the “baby” of the group, I’ve never truly known what it might feel like to be a social pariah. Until recently. It was a little thing, barely worth mentioning, and the details are unimportant, but I did manage to get a little taste of how it felt to be excluded for something embarrassing and hurtful in my past, something deemed a part of me, never to be wiped out or forgotten. The kind of thing that can make you feel “tainted”— that can follow you like a dark, mocking specter. Or, more precisely, this thing was in mine and my husband’s past, because everything he experiences affects me and vice versa, and neither of us will ever leave the other behind.

We can’t do anything to change the past, and wouldn’t choose to if we could because of all the learning and good things that have come out of our struggles, but that doesn’t mean we don’t remember and feel the pain all over again at times. And at times we find ourselves in the position of trusting, praying, asking that others will not judge or label us for what we now cannot change, and sometimes we find with a sinking feeling that that is just not always going to happen. I’ve even been wondering lately if it’s wrong to ask people not to judge us for what we went through. Maybe they should have the right. After all, my husband did make a hurtful mistake that, though not directly intended to hurt anyone and (I believe) very misunderstood, still did affect other people. But aren’t we all responsible for our response when another person screws up? I’m not saying it is easy. Good ‘ol Gandhi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." It’s not easy for me and it’s not easy for anyone else. But still, aren’t we called to do what Christ did for us? As Christians, isn’t that at the heart of everything? As C.S. Lewis said, "To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you."

So to forgive, thank God, does not mean to excuse. What does it mean, then? To forgive, to cease judgment, doesn’t mean that we automatically trust the person who hurt us… but doesn’t it mean at least giving them a chance to earn that trust again? To see a person repent doesn’t necessarily mean that we are certain they’ve changed, or even that we should be certain right away, but doesn’t our faith in God require that we can at least believe it’s possible? I’ve come to the conclusion that we are all entangled in our sin, that we are all tainted. Only, some sins are simply more embarrassing than others. Some people are simply more outwardly functional, or dysfunctional. It’s a noble and beautiful thing to love and fight for the innocent, the victims, and that is something we should never give up. But I thank God that he didn’t die for the innocent. He died for me and the people who hurt me, the people who judge me.

I’m thankful for these experiences of hurt and exclusion now because, ever since, I’ve found it easier to smile at that group of teenage boys wandering around our neighborhood who are maybe just “looking for trouble,” or the pinch-lipped, expensively dressed lady in church who seems to be disdaining everything from the music to the message. And the surprise in the faces of those usually deemed unworthy of compassion or acceptance, who are not even expecting it, has brought me to my knees with remorse. Jesus came to be mocked and rejected and suffer pain that he didn’t deserve so that he could feel what we feel, what we deserve. Now I, in my entirely broken way, can have my tiny share in the sufferings of the only One who didn’t deserve it.

Thanks for reading. Much love.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Day 30 - 50,189 Words

The title says it all. I broke 50,000 words. I am going to take a breather now, before I begin the editing process.

Happy Birthday, Ransom. I hope you like your present one day, when you're allowed to read it. It's meant to remind you that you can accomplish amazing things if you take it one day at a time.

And I'm very amused by your new preferred form of transportation. As if the neighbors didn't already think we were weird.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 28 - 45,089 words "I Ain't Good-Lookin' But I'm Somebody's Angel Child"

So if I were gonna give up, it would have happened a long time ago. Here I am less than 5,000 words from the finish line, where my prize will be an entire novel written by Amy R. Ha! I'm dazed and tired, past the point of 'hitting the wall' as marathoners do in the last few miles of the race, and I have to say this is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. I will be able to say that I did, in fact, do something I always wanted to do. I realized that I can't simply sit and wait around until I become the kind of person who does these things. I just have to DO them, and then I will be that person. I've ignored many beloved friends and family members, let the laundry pile up, and have generally been letting Vu take the brunt of the parenting duties at times, but all the sacrifices I've imposed on others will pay off on Friday. Right now my 'baby' is not good-looking. In fact, it's not fit for anyone's eyes but my own and Vu's just yet. I have everything I need to work with now though. And to me, it promises to be something I can be proud to share one day.

Now, a quick pictorial summary of other moments I've managed to snatch recently:

And lastly, but very importantly, Vu self-published his long short story/novella, complete with a cover he designed. I'd love to see this story of his made into a movie - it's so atmostpheric. Give it a try!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day 21 - 30,116 words

I'm getting close to the last leg of it, and I'm certain my adrenaline will help me catch up the little bit I've fallen behind. I fell behind for a very good reason: my one of my darling best friends, Jenny, got married to an awesome guy this last weekend. Not to mention that the weekend before that we girls had a little bridal getaway. It was a fantastic wedding, very garden-y and relaxed. And now I'll have to practice calling her Mrs. Jenny Brown. That's going to take some getting used to.
The best thing for my novel so far has been the feedback and support from I've gotten from my sweet husband. He's listened to everything I've written so far (except what I've just written this afternoon, but we'll cuddle up in the hammock with my laptop for another reading session this evening) and clearly seems to be enjoying the story, knowing it's a rough draft. What more could I ask for? I see that he genuinely likes it, and I respect his opinion so much.

I plan on trying to get the manuscript printed up in pseudo-professional style to present to the boys on their birthdays. I don't think it will mean much to Ransom, except possible as a novel thing to flip through or throw across the room, but I'd like to get pictures so I can show him later.

Thanks for reading, and love to all!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 15 - 21,745 words

Wooohooo! I'm officially halfway there. Time-wise I'm half way there, anyway. Word count-wise, welllll, I went to a bachelorette party this weekend. The important thing, though, is that I'm only a little bit behind and I'm not falling further behind.

I gave myself nightmares last night, by the way, when I read the chapter I'd written yesterday afternoon to Vu. :) I guess that's a good sign.

I've heard that it's a common mistake for a first-time novelist to create too many characters. I see that I have possibly done that. But I love them all, even this evil ones, even the undead ones. Don't make me axe them! Also interestingly, I've created way more male characters than female ones, even though most of my main characters are women. Hmmm.

I'm looking forward to the rewriting process, when I can once again unleash my inner editor, who is foaming at the mouth and raring to go.

Love to all!