My campus is the most beautiful place. It's like living in a castle. The buildings are stone and brick red and stained glass and you can see across the city of Austin and all the lights at night make the city look like it's lit up with fireflies.
Where am I going to go next? Should I go back to Yellowstone for the summer? Try to get a work permit for Mexico? Mission trip somewhere?
I think I'm going to stay in Austin. Or maybe I'm just saying that because I want it to be true.
I thought that when I got settled in here things would just sort of fall into place. To some extent, they have. I've got a declared major, a bunch of songs written, a few opportunities to play now and then (good for right now, anyway) and I know what I'm supposed to do with my life. But I'm still lonely, here at "home." I'm starting to believe that nowhere is ever going to be home.
Jesus has been good to me. He gave me a calling of my own and the means to obey it. He's given me loving friends and family and He's healed me many times over, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. The one thing He hasn't given me is somebody to love besides Him. (And love me too.) Somebody that I'm not going to have to say goodbye to.
I'm back! (well, relatively. I'm not in my hometown; I'm in Nashville right now; but I've been reunited with technology. I have a new computer and it's fast and wonderful!)
Yellowstone was...... well, screw that. I can't sum it up in one sentence. I'll save the info for later.
Next week: On to Austin!
just a quick update:
I will not be writing another entry until late August. This is why:
On May the 28th, two days after graduation, I will be boarding a plane headed for Billings, Montana. My friends who work at Yellowstone will pick me up and bring me to Yellowstone where I will work as a waitress/busser/dishwasher/serf/whatever for the rest of the summer. (I know, I know- Yellowstone Freaking National Park!!!) That is, until August 17, when I'll return to pack my college bags for, yes dear readers, Austin, TX!
I will be attending St. Edward's University and I couldn't be happier. I'll be able to get a teaching degree so I can live in Austin, or somewhere near Austin, and support myself with a real job, and I'll be able to be a singer/songwriter, and I'll hopefully be fluent in Spanish by the time I graduate which would be awesome for the teaching gig. (I'd hate to be a schoolteacher in Austin if half of my kids didn't understand a word I was saying. Oh-I probably wouldn't get hired either.)
Living in Texas, living my own life, and writing and singing my own songs is my dream. This dream may sound a little mundane, or random, or foolish, but it's mine and I can't believe it's coming true.
God loves me.
(not that, you know, if I went to auburn it would mean that He didn't love me or anything, but this... just celestial affection.)
Much to occupy the small pockets of brain space left.
I got a scholarship to St. Edward's University (www.stedwards.edu) in Austin, TX. This is a dream come true for me. I hope, I hope, I hope I can go.
There's still Auburn, though, and I want to do what's right.
Oh, hey! I have a Myspace now! I know what you're going to say but I didn't cave in to the whole Myspace frenzy. I don't blog or comment or respond to comments or anything like that. Because I have enough things to check. So I ask myself, "Self, why do you have a Myspace?" The answer? To put GarageBand demos of my songs on the internet! Here is the link:
Feel free to download anything you like or leave comments. (I read them, I just don't respond.) Oh! One more tiny thing: I don't mind my Livejournal friends knowing about my Myspace but I don't want some of my Myspace friends knowing about my LiveJournal. So if you visit, be a dear and don't mention anything about my livejournaling alter-ego, beginswithasong. Muchas gracias.
If you have any comments about the songs, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And to those of you privileged enough to actually be dating or married, congratulations. Since you're so lucky and happy and in love already, let's shower you with chocolate and roses and other crap.
We single people will just stand over here, conspicuous and bitter.
Conspicuous and bitter. Yeah, that's fairly accurate for me today. Conspicuous when I was sitting in fourth block as the names of girls with boyfriends and consequently, flowers in the office were being called over the loudspeaker and when standing in my sweater and ponytail amongst pink and red clad girls with nice hair and make-up and bitter when... well, pretty much bitter all day.
Valentine's Day sucks. What was this St. Valentine guy thinking? Was this what he envisioned for a holiday celebrating (presumably) Christian love? I think not. Not that I'm exactly a shining beacon of Christian love or anything but c'mon: he's supposed to be a saint.
So, enough with the "box of chocolates," i.e. the heart shaped plastic container that holds four chocolates, three of which are inevitably strawberry or mint filled. Gross. Also, I might add, from my dad. And furthermore, enough with flowers from the ONE GUY I did NOT want to get flowers from. (About a week ago.) And enough with looking like poo on a stick because I didn't remember it was Valentine's Day till this morning.
But mostly, enough about Valentine's Day, a.k.a National Singles Awareness Day. I am sick of the subject. From now on, I'll just be looking forward to St. Patrick's Day. St. Paddy..... Now there's a holy man I can respect. What could be better than a day celebrating leprechauns and four leaf clovers and Guinness and such? That's just random enough to be fun. Kind of like Easter, when we get to put up decorations featuring rabbits and eggs and baskets and eat lots of chocolate. Or Halloween, with costumes, and door-to-door candy giveaways. Valentine's Day is just too close to home. It stings a little bit.
But I'm not talking about it any more!!!!!! Yay for St. Patrick's Day!!!!!! Yay for March, the month of driver's license achieving and spring break cavorting!!!!!!
But just for the sake of acknowledging and appreciating the only kernel of today worth anything: real love, here is a verse that most of you have heard:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
-1 Corinthians 13:4-8
And for you cool people celebrating National Singles Awareness Day, here are some other verses:
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the LORD’s affairs–how he can please the LORD.
-I Corinthians 7: 8 and 32
(Just to be fair, I should add that Paul doesn’t say that it’s bad to get married. He thinks that everyone should do what God wants them to do; “But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.” -I Corinthians 7: 7 Just thought I would add that, so no one misunderstands me. All I’m saying is, and this is for you single people, it is ok to be single. I want you (single people) to know how much you are loved today and how important you are, even if no one got you flowers.)
I just realized that's it's been forever since I've updated this. You know, in case anyone out there is poised in tense anticipation over the issue of whether grace gets to pay for college and find a summer job.
So here's the verdict: yes and yes. I got scholarship money from Alabama and Auburn, so I get to go to college. Probably Auburn. I'm still waiting to hear about whether or not I got in to the University of TX at Austin or Wheaton but I'm not holding my breath for either. TX State University still hasn't gotten back to me about scholarship money. Again, breathing pretty steadily.
But Auburn's a great school. And my grandparents (on my dad's side) will be there next year along with my older brother and a super cool roommate so life is good. So what if I'm not going to my dream school? Auburn is a great school. I am grateful and honored and happy. (In my dreams, I'm still in TX, but who knows? Maybe after college... Or graduate school...)
The best recent news is that Yellowstone National Park hired me as a waitress type minimum wage serf for this summer! I absolutely can't wait. I am so excited that I have to stop myself from thinking about the summer when I go to sleep so that I won't stay up too late.
That's the news and I am out of here.
My grandfather died. In an hour and a half I'll be donning my pretty black dress for the funeral. In honor of my granddad, I southern belled my hair.
I'm not really all that upset. I mean, it's sad. Really sad. Particularly because he wasn't a Christian. But I think I am prepared for this. Not that it's about me.
Ever since I met Jesus (at the age of eight, I think) I've been waiting for this. I've cried many times for the soul of my grandfather and for my own cowardice in not trying harder to introduce him to the God I love. I've pictured hell and I've pictured my sweet grandfather in it and the images have haunted my childhood.
So now he is gone. And three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I have faith that all things work for the good and glory of God. I have hope that my grandfather may have been redeemed. Most of all, I am consumed by love. Love for Jesus who makes sense of madness and love for my grandfather, the great intimidating cliff from which I hung, clinging fast to my Christ-rope.
My grandfather was a wonderful man in many ways. He was a faithful husband for over sixty years and he was a good father and grandfather. He was a navy man and something of a hero in WWII. He was an important man, teaching at UNC at Chapel Hill and at other schools, and he knew many brilliant and influential individuals. He was a self-made man; he was a Missouri farmer's son with no money or privilege who managed to create a successful and mostly happy life completely from scratch. I am proud of my grandfather for these things.
But he didn't know Jesus. This is the great tragedy. It's hard to put labels on my grandfather; he was more than a navy man or father or husband or intellectual. In spiritual terms, I have described him as an agnostic or as an atheist. This is because I don't really know if he didn't believe in God or if he just didn't like Him. Maybe it was a little bit of both.
He was a private man. He never openly spoke of his history or of his beliefs or loves. Once, I mustered up enough gumption to ask. We talked about his love of college and of his drive to make his life worthwhile. He talked of God as an unknowable, unreachable thing, reluctantly admitted as possible, but not desirable, a part of his country past with no place in his modern life sprinkled by academia. But then, sometimes, I thought that he couldn't possibly believe in God, that the existence of a God would go against the grain of everything he stood for and of the way he lived. So, who knows?
My grandfather was always in control. He owned property. He exercised constantly. He liked to know that his life was in his hands, to shape into whatever he envisioned. In his last years, months, days, my grandfather was at the mercy of his daughter, my aunt. This must have killed him. To be totally dependent on the woman who he must have dangled on his knee as a young father.
This gives me hope. I think that people draw near to God when they need Him. They relinquish control of life when they find that they can no longer control it on their own. So maybe he was humbled enough to kneel in those final days. I really hope so.
If not, I trust God.
A few weeks ago, I visited my grandfather for the last time. I tried to mention God on several occasions; I felt as if my small attempts at conversation were like birds released from Noah's ark only to be returned (with a piercing gesture or expression). I didn't want to disturb the routine: Mom and my grandmother make pleasant chit-chatty conversation, my aunt makes dinner, George watches TV, Rayvon paces, and I, the somewhat crazy, somewhat hypocritical, somewhat disbelieved Jesus freak of the family, pick a fight with my brothers or just sit and twirl my glass in my fingers.
Once during that visit, I ended up basically alone with my grandfather in the living room. My Mom and Aunt were in nearby, in the kitchen, but for all practical purposes, it was just the two of us. He sat in his chair facing the television, his amazing mind ever so slightly muted, his sharp blue eyes misting over at times. I wanted to reach him somehow but I felt helpless and I hesitated because I felt that I had no right to speak. The rigidity of my mother's family dynamic (not that we are rigid people. It's just that we are stuck in the roles we play) stood like a wall between my grandfather and me and I could not climb past convention and courtesy to talk to him about a way out of his prison, about God. The room was getting stuffy (my aunt or somebody was cooking and the heat was uncomfortable) so I opened a window. It was slow going at first; the window hadn't been opened in a while so it was a little stiff and a little cobwebby around the corners. Eventually though, it yanked free and a little bit of Florida air seeped into the room. Then something interesting happened. My grandfather's 60% there gaze focused intently on the window. Neither of us spoke. He and I just looked through the mesh screen, out of the window, past the driveway and the Spanish moss into I don't know what.
That's what I'll always think of, around this time. Of my grandfather looking out the window. I guess you could get pretty poetic with that image and go into all kind of tizzies about what it means or represents or what it is I'm trying to say. I'm not saying anything. I'm just quoting:
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (New International Version)
My hair is long enough to put up now (shoulder length). This is a milestone because I'm trying to grow it out again.
I got accepted to the University of Alabama. In my heart of hearts, I really don't want to go there. For one thing, even though red is my favorite color, I hate the dark red Alabama color. I like bright red. I know that's stupid, but it's just how I feel. Despite misgivings, I am extremely grateful and thankful that I've been accepted. So there's that.
Tomorrow, I supposedly find out whether or not I've been accepted to Wheaton College through the Questbridge scholarship program. Only about 2 people get accepted to Wheaton this way, so my chances are pretty much nonexistent, since I have my doubts about them accepting me under normal circumstances. So, so much for scholarships. Especially this scholarship. It would cover four years of all expenses paid: tuition, room and board, and even books. Of course, all things are possible with God and if He wants me to get this I will, but I'm not going to let myself think about what that would be like, because I will be disappointed when it, inevitably, doesn't happen for me. So there's that too.
I won't even get to find out about Wheaton until later, tomorrow evening, because I'll be gone on a Scholar's Bowl excursion. (For those of you who don't know, Scholar's Bowl is a trivia team thing. Kind of like being on a game show.) Here are a couple of Scholar's Bowl random facts I've been reviewing/learning:
A fresco uses water-based pigments applied to a fresh plaster wall or ceiling done before the plaster dries.
Truman Capote (1924-1984) was a Southern American writer of novels, essays, and sketches; associated with New Journalism. He was the boyhood neighbor of Harper Lee and the pattern for her character Dill In To Kill A Mockingbird. He wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's, Other Voices, Other Rooms, and In Cold Blood.
Shakespeare: (yes, he is his own category)
The Tempest, set on a desert island, features Prospero, Miranda, Ferdiand, Caliban, and Ariel. It is Shakespeare's last play.
James Bowie, supposed inventor of the "Bowie knife", was a Texas hero (1796-1836) who died at the Alamo.
Mythology and Religion:
Jainism is a small Indian sect, which branched off from Hinduism in the 6th century BC. It teaches salvation by self-effort and non-violence.
Gliding, rapid scales, played with a sliding movement, are called glissandos.
And there you have it. By the way, all those facts came from Champion's Quiz Preparation: The Inside Guide, which is very useful for this sort of thing.
I really can't stand the anticipation of tomorrow. Not the Scholar's Bowl thing. In the four years I've been on the team, we've never even PLACED at a competition. So I'm not worried. I'm bringing a little plastic Asian girl as my totem, since Asian girls seem to be smarter than me. Maybe I can channel some of her brilliance if I put her in front of my buzzer. I guess we'll see...
No, what I'm worried about is the whole Wheaton thing. Wheaton is still not my first choice. But it definitely will be if I get this scholarship (not gonna happen grace, not gonna happen...). But I can't stop thinking about how my life will change if I end up at Wheaton vs. an Austin school. If I end up in Austin, TX, I will probably pursue the whole singer/songwriter thing. If I, by some miracle, get this QuestBridge thing, I will get a first-rate Christian, intellectual, education, which means I will probably be an English/education major or something. Actually, I'll probably choose a major similar to that no matter where I end up, but something tells me that Wheaton isn't the place to become a folk/jazz singer/songwriter. But maybe that's not what I'm supposed to be.
I know God will work things out. There's this last thing: when I don't get the QuestBridge scholarship, even though my mind will tell me otherwise, my heart will tell me that I am stupid because my pride will be wounded.
This is from a few days ago. I'm just posting it now because I forgot to earlier:
So, I was taking the dogs out a second ago and I was pretty pissed. See,
we're currently under a tornado watch here in AL, so it was kind of rainy
and very cold and I was in my pajamas and slippers. I was resenting my
step-mom for making me take the dogs out. After all, I reasoned, she's
still dressed and I'm in my pjs.
So, I started nursing the grudge a little, thinking about all the nasty jobs
she made me do today: changing Owen's diaper, taking the dogs out earlier,
bringing the big garbage can to the road (this is actually a lot worse than
it sounds- remember: tornado weather, plus we have a long, arduous, gravel
driveway) and other things like that.
Thinking back on it now, I was being dumb. After all, she does that stuff
all the time, and she's had a really hard week. But anyway, the point of
all this is that I looked up and talked to Jesus. I said, sort of bitterly,
"I bet you'd never make me do the hard jobs."
I think I would have left my musings at that, but because of the tornado
weather, the sky was grey instead of black. That was important, because
it's much easier to be nonsensical and romantic when there is a coal-black
sky and a scatter of stars. But the sky was grey. For some reason, it just
made everything seem more real.
And I started thinking about Jesus, this wonderful, strong, perfect,
awe-inspiring guy/God and I thought about Him in an apron, cleaning up cat
poop or scrubbing toilets. And that made me feel ashamed. Because Jesus
really WOULD take all the crappy jobs. But that's such a good thing that
it's sad. I think that when the best things actually happen, instead of
being satisfied and smug, we become crushed and humbled. Kind of like
someone crying at a wedding. Or something. Anyway, all this is to say that
I don't want to see Jesus in an apron. Ever. Whatever that even means.
Ok, this is a tribute to the_nooj:
Sing praises to noojy, my friend.
What can one say about the_nooj? She is truly magnificent. There is no word for the utter wonderfulness of the_nooj. So I will make one up: scrumtrulescent. the_nooj is simply...... scrumtrulescent.
For those of you who don't know the_nooj, I highly recommend her lj. Reading it will cause you to transcend to the highest level of scrumtrulescence. Because the_nooj is so very scrumtrulescent. She is so very very scrumtrulescent.
Ok, that is all. Everyone read the LJ of the_nooj.