#dfw2lax, Through the Lens of the GoPro…

So…people have been clamoring for #dfw2lax pics. This is the first round–various locales across the West, as seen through the odd lens of the GoPro (not mine–didn’t know how to use it–sorry about some poor framing :P). The truth, however, is that pictures could never possibly capture the things we saw on this trip. I stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and my own eyes could not appreciate the height and depth and diversity of the landscape. No postcard could do it justice, let alone a hasty snapshot taken from the side of a trail. Nonetheless, I tried.

In Nevada, we went to the Valley of Fire, about an hour outside of Las Vegas. We climbed on some of the rocks (although I was a wimp and eventually sat down to read my book, not yet having recovered from hiking the Grand Canyon). The colors here looked like casual splashes of rich pigments on an otherwise bland and scrub-dotted canvas.

Finally (for the nonce), we tried to hike up to the Hollywood sign. Unfortunately, the trail was closed. We were, however, able to go to the observatory (featured in Rebel Without a Cause!) from which one may view the sign. We caught it at sunset, and it was lovely.

So that’s all she wrote (for now). I hope you enjoy some of these. :)

Crying

I’ve been asked how many times I’ve cried in front of other people.  It’s surprisingly few, but it made me think about the types of crying that I do.  Weirdly, I found a lot of categories, and I’m going to describe a few.  Fyi: this is not a sad post.  I’m not generally a sad person, and I haven’t been crying an inordinate amount lately (mostly); I just like to share my thoughts (obvs: I blog).

I Just Don’t Know Why I’m Crying: Of unknown origin.  You might be sad, but you can’t be sure.  Or you might just need to squeeze out some tears.  Who knows?

Click for scene.

 

Happy Crying: Things are so unbelievable good.  You feel relief.  The fear is gone.  There are so many wonderful things that can bring us to tears.  Sometimes life overwhelms you with goodness and grace.  And that’s the real beauty of the human condition.

 

HappySad Crying: “I’ll be right here.” “‘Mo cushle’ means, ‘My darling.  My blood.'”  Sally Field at her daughter’s grave (see Gut Crying, below).  Christian Bale yelling for the American plane.  ‘Although I will be lonesome for you, even in Heaven.’  You do it at movies.  You do it at lines in songs.  You do it at the funeral that punctuates a long illness.  You do it when forgiveness washes away a bitter period of resentment.  It’s those incredible moments when hope breaks through tragedy, when life is hard and good, and when you are reminded of the incredible power of love.

 

Church Crying: Go ahead.  You can let the tears drip.  People will assume you’re overcome by the power of God or that you are deeply convicted.  It doesn’t matter what you’re crying about.  And you don’t have to hide.  Just get it out before the sermon starts.

 

Stoic Crying: Those tears will not fall.  Your throat closes.  Your eyes, open as wide as possible, start to burn.  You can barely talk.  You will not let them see you cry.  You will not deny your pride.  If the tears start to fall, you get angry; you beat your eyes trying to make them go away.  You stare at a fixed point on the wall.  You’re not okay, but you’re not going to show that.

          

 

Sad Crying: The most common type of crying, this one is pretty straightforward.  It has a specific catalyst and tends to be pretty rational (as outpourings of emotion go).  Something happens.  You cry.  It subsides by itself.  You don’t cry about it again.  It’s just a way to process hurtful events.

Buffy has the saddest cry face. When she cries, I cry.

 

Public Crying: Yeah, you’re pretty sad.  No one is around who will ask you what’s wrong or about whom you care.  Life is overwhelming sometimes.  Common locations include the therapist’s waiting room, public transit conveyances, and fast food establishments.  Have some more fries.  Life is worse than calories.

 

Shower Crying: This is pretty pitiful.  You may just be trying to hide the sound.  Or you may have been left alone with your thoughts (speakers not loud enough), and the tears have finally come.  Either way, you’re doubled over or sitting in the tub, and you’re…real sad.  It’s a tough one, but it’ll pass.

 

Shocked Crying: I think that this is most common with an unexpected death or life event.  You’re not ready for the pain, but, more importantly, you’re not ready to process something like this.  Tears are an automatic and cathartic response.  They may not be connected to any real thought or feeling.

 

Gut Crying: This one is the worst.  It can stem from a chronic pain or from a deep wound with no immediate balm.  Eventually the tears just aren’t enough.  Your stomach twists, and you feel like your body is trying to force your guts out through your throat.  You are probably doubled over, hacking.  The tears may even stop.  Your body just needs to get the feelings out–do anything to stop the pain.  It will not subside quickly, and it may be accompanied by small showers of tears afterwards.  I am so sorry for your pain.

 

Misery Crying: Everything is simply awful.  You may have clinical depression; your life might suck right now; you could be a tragic figure; or you may be worried that consumption will get you before you can get all of your beautiful words out.  I won’t tell you that it gets better.  I will tell you that the prayers of the saints are with you.  Be blessed, and may you know peace.

 

Wow, that actually was kind of depressing.  Maybe this will help.

Click for scene.

Analogies for Christians

[Normally, I would want credit for the perpetuated use of these, as with my coined terms. Here, however, that would make me a bad Christian. These are for your use, Dear Reader, as they are meant to be helpful in explaining some aspects of Christian life. Note: these are not yet Scripture-verified (although they have been honed through conversation and teachings), so be aware of the context in which you use them (if you deem them worthy of usage). If I am diligent (and we all know how that goes), I will update this post as Scripture demands.]

ON LOVING OTHERS: The capacity of a Christian to love should be defined by God’s love for you. He can love you without limit (1 Peter 4:11), and you should spread that love. Think of yourself as a giant cup (Psalm 23:5b-6). God pours his love (John 4:14) into that cup until it overflows. You can let that water splash over onto the ground, or you can collect it in other cups and give them to others.

ON ENDURING TRIALS: You, like me, may have experienced a time of many trials, when it feels like one thing is happening after another, and crap is piling up. It can be hard, in these times, to trust in God or feel at peace with a God who would allow these things. A friend once said to me, “I see God’s provision so much in your life, because you should be homeless, on the street.” At the time, I could not appreciate that, as I was stuck in a mire and could not see the light.
But the truth is that God has made each of us different, and he has designed us for his specific purpose (Ephesians 2:10). That process is ongoing, throughout our lives. God is honing each of us to be his perfect instrument for his specific purpose. Trials are the forge in which he shapes us (Isaiah 48:10). You are being forged (Job 23:10). Yeah, it sucks. But we must embrace trials as part of the higher purpose to which each of us is being called (1 Peter 4:12).

OTHER GREAT VERSES: 2 Cor. 1:3-5, Isaiah 54:11-17, and (of course) Romans 8:38-39

I hope you find this helpful, for yourself and for the others whom you seek to supplant.

NYC Workation

So…I just spent over a week in NYC , as a sort of experiment.  I got really tired of everyone telling me that I would feel differently about the city if I lived here.  Now, I know that a week isn’t “living there”.  But I wanted to spend enough time (and do enough normal stuff) to at least get a taste of a non-vacation experience.  So I sandwiched a week of semi-normal life between my birthday vacation and my mom’s birthday vacation.  I worked, slept, and economized.  Here are some things I learned….

1.  PRO: I don’t need to spend a lot on food to savor it.  NYC has amazing food at any price.  A “cheap” restaurant there does start at $10, but the dives are delicious.  And I apparently don’t get tired of hot dogs, lamb over rice, or egg sandwiches.  I also never get tired of Tisserie cookies or Stumptown coffee.

2.  CON: Rainy days and Mondays still get me down.  It rained for two days, and I did not leave the apartment.  And my work wasn’t less work-like just because I was in New York.  I felt better on the whole, but I still had to deal with the same crap I deal with in normal life.  Apparently, my phases of ennui are not place-contingent.

3.  PRO: I can find a favorite coffeeshop and plant there happily.  Again, Tisserie.  They have dulce de leche cookies (alfajores, with real dulce de leche) that could bring world peace.  And their flavored latte is perfection (I prefer iced).  I was also a fan of Stumptown at the ACE hotel–try the almond croissant.

4.  CON: It still takes the wherewithal to get there.  I require a stronger initial burst of energy to actually walk out of a house than to do anything once I’ve left.  New York doesn’t fuel that or pull me out of my door any faster.  It is still a struggle to trade familiar stasis for exciting transience.

5.  PRO: New Yorkers are friendly and interesting.  I interviewed a local artist.  I hung out with a photographer/designer.  I walked with an older man for a couple of blocks, and we talked about the rain and buses.  Random people are willing to be helpful, and there really are a lot of different kinds floating around.  People may keep to themselves as a rule, but they will reward you if you take the trouble to engage them.

6.  CON: My social sensibilities are, indeed, more Southern than I thought.  You can’t really smile at someone else’s baby.  Pleasantries are exchanged sparsely among strangers.  Nondirected charm is a rarity.  Of course, not all of these hold for everyone.  But I noticed a significant difference from the overall camaraderie and “consider yourself” atmosphere of the South.  And, in New York, conversations are not supposed to be overheard.

7.  PRO: I like the energy it takes to move about.  There is only one pace–fast.  There is no stopping at crosswalks–peds first.  There are no addresses–only cross-streets.  There are only four directions–uptown, downtown, east, and west.  I absolutely love it.  I never feel lost.  I go the wrong direction plenty, but it only takes one block to figure that out.

8.  CON: You basically have to expend energy to move about.  If you’re not near a subway station, you have to walk.  Now, there were plenty of times that I wanted to walk, and I would do so.  But, on a rainy day, with a heavy backpack, the 5-block trek from Liz’s to the station was just too much to contemplate.

9.  PRO: I’m a different person there, one I really like.  I love being a fast-walking, confident, all-night New Yorker.  I felt that I blended quite well, especially when compared to my we-just-want-to-amble mom and aunt.  I found a favorite haunt, did a decent job with the subway, learned how to navigate by cross-streets, and took the lead.  In other words, I had a sense of place, lived with autonomy, and didn’t get lost as I moved about fearlessly.

10.  CON: I’m still the same person, and my problems still hold me back.  I was still tired, still listless, still comfort-seeking, and still shin splint-y.

Conclusion: I would still love to live there…when I could truly afford it (not wealthy–just stable).  I think I’ll stick with my 20-year plan, and content myself in the meantime with week-long workations now and then (and my annual birthday trip).

[Author's Note: Photos will follow within the next week or so.]