Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chapter 37: In which the Author Willingly, and Against All Common Sense, Chooses to Give up the Joys of Both Sugar and Film Simultaneously

February has been a challenge so far.

Not so much in a I-miss-home-so-bad-and-all-I-want-to-do-is-jump-on-an-airplane-bound-for-Minnesota, or a so-stressed-I-can't-even-think kind of way. Not even in a wintertime-slump kind of way.

February has been a challenge because I decided back in November that February would be a month to try new things. The new things this month? No sugar. And no TV/movies at our apartment.

Why, oh, why would I choose to do something so foolish? And while I had all the best intentions about 'suffering' silently, I find that I can't help but flap my mouth at every moment when I crave sugar or a good movie.

All this to say - I have learned that my self-indulgence rates are typically quite high. Call it being a product of the entitlement generation or call it being a weak-willed human, I just give in to impulses far too regularly. But. . .

Now comes the corny after-school special segment of today's chapter. Cue the sappy music as I share my newly-learned life lessons with my friends and adult mentor: . . . I've learned that it's good to go without because it helps us see what is important to us. I knew this already with my family and friends back home (when I'm away from them for so much of my new life, I really appreciate every moment with them when I get it), and I already knew this in Nigeria (where things like Kentucky Fried Chicken made me choke up in happiness with the feeling that all was good and right in the world as long as I had that spicy chicken burger slathered in mayonnaise and msg (unpaid advertising is the best)), but it seems I needed to be reminded of it again.

So even though I pull faces at the bitterness of coffee and sit wanting more than anything just to pop in "Cowboys and Aliens," I'm thankful for February's challenges. And I'm already thinking about March . . .

And now it's time for the group air high-five. Freeze the image when everyone's hands are together and their faces reflect all the joy of self-discovery and camaraderie.

If you were giving something up, what would it be?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Chapter 36: Five Postcards from a Chinese New Year

1. Our figures outlined 
in bursts of colored light.
Shadows dispelled 
by fire and thunder
raining down from heaven.

2. "Gongxi gongxi,
We want dongxi,"
little emporers cry.

3. We climbed into the Winds of May
and watched the world explode
in pyroclastic light.

4. The fiery lanterns trace their paths above the sea -
the manifestation of hopes and dreams. 
Yet their fate is shared with Icarus,
for neither heed the truth.

5. Lanterns huddle together -
gentle, scarlet beacons -
smiling their cheery wishes
for good fortune.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chapter 35: On Being a Renaissance Man

I know, I know. The title makes me sound like a self-important, arrogant jerk. But hear me out before you judge me as being such.

I have a love-hate relationship with my own renaissance*^ (rebirth). And since I have many friends out there who are fans of lists, here are two lists to explain what I mean.

Things I Love about Being Reborn:
   -I love that I've been chosen to be reborn.
   -I love that my true life has germinated and grown in his power and grace.
   -I love the feeling of resting fully on him for everything.
   -I love the knowledge that I am secure in those everlasting arms that are mighty and powerful
    and yet incredible gentle.
   -I love the fact that I can ALWAYS have a sense of self-worth because he was willing to pay such a
    huge price for me.
   -I love the fact that he has and continues to use me in his dominion.
   -I love the fact that he has changed my view of others and my view of myself.

Things I Do Not Love:
   -I do not love the fact that the new man in me should be older and more mature.
   -I do not love the fact that I stupidly revert back to the "infant" stage in my new life.
   -I do not love that I all-too-often decide that I know what's best for me.
   -I do not love that my heart is a fickle beast that can't make up its mind.
   -I do not love the constant battle between old and new.
   -I do not love that I have to wait until death to be fully healed. Uffda.

Don't get me wrong. The things I love WAY, WAY, WAY, WAY outWEIGH (sorry, I got a little carried aWAY there) the things I don't love. It's just that sometimes it would be nice to see a little more progress.

*in case you don't know (shame on your high school history teacher), renaissance literally means "rebirth" in French.
^I am not a fan of the fact that I have lots of diverse skills/knowledge but no real mastery in most/any of them.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chapter 34: On Being Abroad During Election Coverage

I'm not all that into politics. I understand why it's important to know about the candidate for whom I'm voting. I'm really thankful that even across the globe, I can still have a say in what goes on in my passport country (an expat way of saying "home country").

However, across the globe, I should not really be getting sick of the American media and its obnoxious coverage of the presidential race, nor the political campaigns which just get dirtier and dirtier.

All I can say is that I'm really thankful that it's only a trickle of politics coming to China from the media faucet, rather than the full flow that most of you are getting back in the States.