an encounter

April 28, 2008

The below cover was just approved by the Fortress Press editors. The original image is a man staring at a blank canvas (“modern art”). This is an academic textbook with a desired “approachable” feel, so I wanted to focus literally on an encounter in the NT—in this case, Jesus healing the blind man—while avoiding Biblical-cover cliches and retaining a contemporary feel. I unified the two images from there for an effective composite. I was happy with the result and so were my editors!

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april or december?

April 26, 2008

seriously now!

*(picture identical to below with a layer of snow…that won’t freakin’ stay uploaded)*

(nine this morning)

okay, that’s better.

(one this afternoon)

a transaction of trust

April 24, 2008

Although the other ATM was available as I deposited a check at the downtown Wells Fargo Center, I felt someone waiting behind me. As I finished and turned around, a handsome young man in a motorized wheelchair asked me in a soft voice if I could please help him get some cash. His book-sized wallet layopen on his lap, impeccably organized. He pointed with the knuckle on his right index finger to the gold debit card tucked in the top slot. His hands curled under like the harmless talons of a baby bird.

I slipped the card out, inserted it in the machine, and hesitated. He told me his PIN. I punched it in carefully. He watched the screen intently, patiently, telling me which buttons to tap. He asked me to punch in 300.00.

I put his card back. We waited together as the machine grunted and spit out a fat wad of twentys. He carefully lifted the mouth of his wallet, grasping between two knuckles. I slipped the money in. I pulled the receipt, the thin paper silky beneath the pads of my fingers. Swiftly slid it on top of the cash.

Everything I touched seemed immensely precious and delicate to me. It felt like a violation to hold a stranger’s debit card in front of him, and to look at it without looking at it, the raised string of numbers and letters running under my thumb like a type of Braille as the machine sucked it in. The speaking-aloud of his PIN alone conveyed trust I can’t and couldn’t relate to, considering I had just been shielding the screen with my body minutes before. I was almost embarrassed to touch his money and see the inside of his wallet. I was invading his privacy at his request.

He thanked me in that gentle voice, made direct eye contact. I straightened and smiled and said you’re welcome, and as I walked away I realized I had slipped his cash in wrong. Each twenty he takes out slowly, carefully, with his slender joints will be upside-down. I was struck by how an insignificant thing like that will be an impediment for him, if he’s like me and likes his cash orderly, right side up, front side facing. It will take him a long time to rotate everything. I felt bad. But he trusted me—he had to trust me—and I can’t feel bad for that.

(NOTE! I wrote this freakin’ post at the very beginning of this month. I don’t know how it didn’t get published. I didn’t spend all that time writing and optimizing a picture of mittens for nothin’, so here it is.)

Man am I glad it’s a new week. I usually don’t anticipate the passing of a week because I don’t want to live in the future, but there were too many bad things that shadowed me. From dark, dark dreams to cramps, from flu to a heavy pervasive sadness.

It’s the dreams that are the worst, even though I know they aren’t real. They prompt bad daydreams (picturing loved ones dying, as you sit there on the bus) and those prompt more dark nights. A chain reaction of irrational badness.

But hey! No more Edgar Allen Poe Poo from me. Praise God for better spirits and better health. Even the spring blizzard last night failed to depress me.

I’ve been wanting to post my first non-scarf knitted items. Here they are!

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They’re my wedding present to my dear friends Clare and Sam. I was intimidated by knitting in the round so I procrastinated until AFTER their December wedding to start. I know, tsk tsk. But they did get done! Hopefully the felting will go okay for them—the stripes becomes softer, less distinct, and the whole mitten should shrink to their hand shape. I told Clare and Sam that if they don’t fit, they need to keep them a year and then after that, they can get rid of them and I won’t be offended. :)

april or october?

April 10, 2008

Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches…
(Frederico Garcia Lorca)

This was taken in the park behind our apartment two nights ago.
Is it REALLY officially spring??

This is how Marshall feels about it:

liberating lessons

April 7, 2008

I’ve had to do some things at work lately that are out of my comfort zone—mainly talking on the phone to strangers, learn the legal lingo of permissions and rights and license agreements, and keep within a corporate budget. These are things my editors do on a daily basis—yet I’ve gotten by for thirteen months without having to worry about any of it.

All of it is turning out less scary than I thought, of course—Marcia from the largest news organization in the world (AP) asked me how the weather was in Minnesota in her Brooklyn accent and expressed sympathy at my report of morning snow. I heard music playing somewhere in the background—probably in her cubicle. I asked Ashley in Chicago a billion questions about licensing and exclusivity without tripping over my words as soon as she expressed disorientation due to it being a Friday afternoon. These people are normal! I thought. It’s not like I’m being tried in court. If I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, these people are the right people to ask—they’re there for the asking.

In the midst of these feelings of incompetence, I came across this, attributed to Madeleine L’Engle:

“Slowly I have realized that I do not have to be qualified to do what I am asked to do, that I just have to go ahead and do it, even if I can’t do it as well as I think it ought to be done. This is one of the most liberating lessons of my life.”

I think this applies to both vocational and mercenary jobs. I have to go ahead and DO this stuff as part of my job. When I think of my writing, I have to go ahead and DO that too, “even if I can’t do it as well as I think it ought to be done…”