25 April 2006

Late Chinese

If you've never had Chinese at 11:00 at night in Berkeley with your friends from Kenya and Alabama, I really recommend it. I had a little stomach ache when I woke up this morning, but I count it all as gain.

We went from our seminary to experience the California Bishop Walkabout at the Cathedral in San Francisco last night. I have to say, having my Kenyan friend along was a great perspective on the whole affair.

17 April 2006

Hypercolor-Nails-Good-Friday and the-Ocean-Easter

Matt cringes when I bring up anything at all as "our tradition." I admit; I'm hopelessly sentimental for family traditions, so I've had a hard time holding back these first two years of marriage. I do often think to myself, Will this become a tradition? Wait, have we done this before? It's a tradition!

So, when Matt suggested we go to the ocean on Easter, I was thrilled -- we've gone on a nature adventure the last three Easters! This time we had the ocean to explore. We ended up at the Cliffhouse area of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, walking along Ocean Beach and through the ruins.

Good Friday was also its own adventure. H and I met to study and ended up get pedicures and manicures. The only polish this place had that didn't have formaldehyde was a polish that changes colors in response to heat and cold. So, I'm sometimes-dark-pink-sometimes-pale-pink. As our Lord hung on the cross, I indulged toes and fingers, got ice cream and udon soup, and read about the English ReformationS. H and I always start with very specific, sensible tasks and end up miles away basking in the sun or getting our cuticles pushed.

It was a great Holy Week, full of traipsing around the Bay Area to see cool takes on each service and dreaming about the end of the semester. Coming up: a summer of General Convention, 4 weddings (and hopefully no funeral.) My sisters and I are going to move in together for a month and recreate our childhood as a time free of fights and full of adoring one another without reservation.

12 April 2006

911 Emergency

I'm a Porsche 911!

You have a classic style, but you're up-to-date with the latest technology. You're ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige - you're one of the elite,and you know it.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Probably the worst blog quiz I've taken to date.

08 April 2006

AWOL from "Allies" ?

Went to a great morning of LGBT ally training facilitated by some third years here at seminary, their brainchild out of a project for their pastoral leadership class. One attendee of the training made a comment that hit me to the core.

"Following this military metaphor we're using today, let's think not only of our allies but also our enemies..."

I was struck. If I call myself an ally, am I invoking a military mindset and language that contradicts my own commitment to nonviolence?

In college, I was introduced to living as an ally through KU's Q&A organization. My boyfriend's mother was an out lesbian, living with her partner, and I learned a lot those years about sexuality and orientation. When my bishop called for a diocesan task force for human relationships (read: sexuality) I served and heard quite the spectrum of feelings and theological positions on issues of sexuality. Now in the Bay Area, I carry with me the reality of the Midwest, where the hand-holding of two men always leaves a wake of eye-rolling, jeers, and or threats from the beds of pick-up trucks. This was a place where my hairy legs outed me in the minds of classmates, teachers, priests, and friends. Just last week when I went home for Spring Break without my husband, more than one person asked me if Matt and I were "still getting along" since I wasn't traveling with him! People just talk. A lot. As one seminary colleague pointed out to me, the talking takes many forms. In Atlanta, for instance, you might out someone by whispering, "Did you hear about so-and-so? Bless his heaaaaaaaaart." All this time in the midwest, I tried by word and deed to self-identify as an "ally."

Now, though, I'm taking another look. What else might I call myself that isn't reminiscent of the current U.S.-Britian collaboration in Iraq? I've thought enough about military in our culture to know that using the language and imagery of that institution is a way of consenting to it. If I'm an "ally," am i in a war? How does thinking of advocacy in terms of war constrict the flow of compassion in the process?

PS: I'm a Talent.

I'm a Talent!

You're a risk-taker, and you follow your passions. You're determined to take on the world and succeed on your own terms. Whether in the arts, science, engineering, business, or politics, you fearlessly express your own vision of the world. You're not afraid of a fight, and you're not afraid to bet your future on your own abilities. If you find a job boring or stifling, you're already preparing your resume. You believe in doing what you love, and you're not willing to settle for an ordinary life.

Talent: 67%
Lifer: 26%
Mandarin: 51%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

07 April 2006

"There is Bad Religion, Just Like There is Bad Art and Bad Cooking."

So said Karen Armstrong last night at an Episcopal Church in Oakland. She's right. Since the acoustics and mic system weren't so hot as she spoke last night, I meditated for most of the event. As her voice faded in and out about nonviolence, the axial age, and the meaning of love, I imagined myself walking around on the ceiling of the huge urban church. I pictured myself as an alien observer: all these humans had gathered to hear what this famous woman had to say. It was very meaning-of-life, universal-human-family type stuff. One man said he had been so inspired by her work that he felt she was a saint. Karen's message made it a good time to imagine myself as alien observer. She spoke of all roads leading to God, loving your fellow human, the human family, human ethics. I felt like it was a speech called, "The World and Everything and Always in 45 minutes or less."

Why didn't I feel much inspired by such a universalizing of the human spirit and the human predicament? I can't quite say. I agree with her that bad religion is the kind that draws too many lines where there can be open space, that sees black and white where there is technicolor, that is concerned with who's in and who's out. I agree that it's much like bad art and bad cooking for me, too, because when I encounter it, it sorts of turns my stomach, invokes a laugh, and I move on. I think my struggle with thinkers like Karen Armstrong and Joseph Campbell is that I don't know where to engage their thoughts. The experience I have is either: "Yeah, I know, let's get on with working on specific injustices" or: "This isn't nuanced enough; it's oversimplifying things." I haven't seemed to find a place for it in my aha-moments box yet.

Our prospective student event here at the seminary is drawing to a close. On the student panel portion, one question we got was particularly provoking: How does our community deal with crisis when it arises? It gave the four of us on the panel a chance to reflect on how things become crises in the first place - and how empowered we felt to take a problem or a question to the "right person" when the time comes. One student and I reflected afterward about my own personal struggle with the worship life of the seminary and how I've come to voice my questions and encourage community conversation about it. I've felt supported and well-challenged by my colleagues to be specific and hopeful about worshipping in our chapel, so that it has been a learning experience I will always cherish. When I would talk to some people I would get warnings like, "Be careful. People in charge can evaluate you based on your complaints." or "What do you propose to do with 2,000 years of traditional worship just because you think its old?" But to me, religion that keeps people out and turns people off is bad religion. And just like bad cooking, it really stinks up the place. In those cases, Sunday brunch out is good competition.

05 April 2006

Red-Headed Reset

Funny how we feel "forced to do" certain things. When I started the semester taking five classes, I felt I was forced to be completely vigilant about school. I read every single thing. I read morning and night. I wrote papers in advance. I was extremely organized and focused. I could be found following a daily schedule from January to Spring Break. People knew where to find me.

The week before Spring Break, something came loose. I took a breath and put off the studying for the coming week after the break. A frien
d and I started off on some errands in Berkeley, and ended up crashing a Russian Orthodox wake in San Francisco, strolling the Presidio, and chowing in Japantown. When I saw the ocean, i knew. I had let beauty lapse. I had forgotten to look up. Though I could recite Morning and Evening Prayer to you and could tell you exactly what all the bulletin boards on campus looked like, and who had written what on blackboard, i couldn't have told you one thing about one current event, and I wouldn't have known what the water looked like lately.

Seeing my nephew was another wake-up call. He hugged me and we laughed and laughed. We threw the frisbee, did science experiments, and watched Sponge Bob. My dad and I had one of our best talks ever over a bottle of Ridge. Brie and I grew closer and I became extremeley attached to her children. Esme greeted me with "Sarah-hug" morning and night. Five-year-old Ayla and I talked about how her radio made her feel alive. Amaris liked my cocunut squash dinner and ate up all the leftovers. We ate at my favorite bakery and my favorite lunch joint in Columbia. It was old times and it reminded me how different my life is now. Before coming home I saw both my godchildren in one day -- this is particularly amazing because one lives in Arkansas and one in Kansas City! There were children all around me over break and I felt I was gaining wisdom through observation and experimentation. Mothers imparted their wisdom. Even today over lunch my boss imparted more wisdom to me.

For the break I did homework only while on an airplane. I furiously completed a lot of work upon arriving back in Berkeley. While I was away, someone hit my reset button. I had gotten cranked up, twisted around and m
y brow was all knit up. When I came home, I could feel myself breathing again. I knew when i got home that I needed to hit the reset button again. Just as I felt forced to maniacally study, now I felt forced to let it go. Only now I knew I wasn't forced but rather had many choices. I took Monday off, missed my classes and spent time with Matt. I don't regret it. It was the last part of break i didn't know I needed. It was another step back and another breath. I called it "readjusting to California." Tuesday, as a result, was heavenly. I was rested and relaxed and I felt I had my priorities straight again. Somewhere along the way this semester I became a crazy woman. I didn't hang out as much and Matt and I hardly saw each other. I missed some opportunities to grow relationships and listen to myself. I became a graduate student machine. Nothing more was permitted. Having spent a week with my friends and their three kids, I remembered how much more to life there is than books, papers, and chapel. I remembered I live in the Bay Area, not the midwest, and I intend to take full advantage of it. I'm going to get in touch with the Pacfic. My two-month stint as a school rat is over. I'm Sarah again.

This means reading Bitch magazine, knitting, watching Democracy Now, writing letters to my grandmother, drinking home brew, going on dates, painting, journaling, reading non-school books, cooking new things, going to community events, going to the ocean, hiking Tilden, and sitting in the sun.

Just in time for Spring, I am blooming.