Monday, September 14, 2009

Lazy, tired, with too much to do

I'm really too busy to write anything, though I have much to say. So, I'll summarize in a rather disappointing manner:

*school goes on. 3 months to graduation.
*time goes on. 140 days to mid tour.
*life goes on. 5 days since I had a distressing phone call from Andrew. More on that later, of course :)
And now for your viewing pleasure, a pic sent to me by my beloved mother, found on her beloved LOLcats:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Here's a long one, guys. Make sure you've got a coffee.

All my senior classes are kinda driving me crazy these last 2 days... the classes themselves are tolerable, even kinda nifty, but it's the uncannily unlucky assortment of classmates I've ended up with that are the real problem. Now, it must be said that the majority of people at my college I truly like, and consider them friends. But almost all of those people I was close to graduated in May, and now I'm left with this mixture of half-smile acquiantances and squint-at-you strangers. Not that I can't make new friends and still find good conversation and healthy discussion with this other students--but it somehow happened that in two of my most "discussion-heavy, super-introspective" classes, Philosophy of Faith and Learning, and Worldviews, frankly--I'm surrounded by dumbasses. There's no other way to really put it. In Faith and Learning on Monday, the topic of the day was "Your Mind Matters," that is, that no one can get away with riding through life on emotions and instincts and feelings or even the excuse of "I was always taught that..." We've got to use our reason to make sure we know what we think. Why we believe what we believe. Why we have to be prepared and be smart and not just touchy-feeling Christians.

After doing the reading for class, I was thinking, "Cool. I've gotten away with vague gut feelings and 'I just know' stuff for too long. It's about time I get some solid reason-based opinions." Oh, now I despair for my generation. It seemed everyone in the class missed the entire point--all of these people were just talking last week about the importance of one's own experience with God (rather like I was talking). And now... it seemed as though all of them (save one or two people) have completely switched over to the "brain" camp. They went on and on about how "ohhh if you don't say the right thing to people when you're talking about Jesus, you're screwed even if the Holy Spirit would have liked to work in their hearts" and all this stuff. Ummm what happened to all the "God's sovereignty" and stuff from all these so-called uhhh presbyterians? Now they're all about this brain thing and the utter responsibility of people to "save" people. Doesn't this sudden change defeat the entire purpose of using your mind and judgment to weigh evidence and truth to arrive at a sound decision? It seems they let a 60-page book alter all their thinking, because they were still stuck in this undergraduate thinking of "you're here to learn and you can worry about opinions once you've learned." But that's completely not what this class was about! It is trying to get us to take all that learning we've absorbed for 4 years and prove that we can use it to make our own decisions!


In terms of the Worldviews class, I was so upset at the end, I was almost crying. But I was so excited about yesterday's class, so excited about the whole course in general after all the pulse-raising praise from so many of my friends. Yesterday was the day we discussed Christian Theism, the worldview that is the college's official platform and the personal tradition and beliefs of most of our students. Our professor warned us it would probably be the most frustrating discussion of all, because instead of weighing the merits or problems with an alien worldview, like that of Taoism or Existentialism, we would be forcing ourselves to the roots of the beliefs we claimed to hold. He promised that he would be asking all these questions out of love, even though it would seem like he was baiting us and playing too-savvy and too-cynical of a devil's advocate. It was pretty amazing yet nervewracking at first--he'd ask us "tell me something Christians believe." Someone would answer to the effect of "we believe Jesus is the Son of God, and that He is also fully God." Okay, tentatively good start, sound recitation of basic doctrine. But then the professor would look perplexed and ask "wait, who is God? Does he have a wife? How is his son also God if he's God?" And then the original speaker would look generally distressed and try to explain that "well.... God created the world and uhhh we believe he sent his son to die for our sins." Still technically correct. Then comes the question: "How do you know that's true?" "I read it in the Bible." "Why do you believe the Bible?" "Because it's God's word." Then our lovely brilliant professor would look even more perplexed and muse "so... you believe what God says because you believe that God said to believe what God says?"

Then we'd all laugh nervously and he'd smile cheerily and we'd start all over again with another round of "what do Christians believe." So far, so good. He's demonstrating that we've got to get better, more solid reasons for our faith besides "well, my parents taught me to believe the Bible," I thought, while anxiously awaiting the moment he would turn to me and start the vicious quiz at me. So I was cautious to answer when he asked me "why do you believe the Bible, Chelsea?" Feeling just as foolish as my classmates surely had felt, I ventured "Well, in the last few years, I've read alot of scientific and historical research that cross-referenced the texts of the Bible with other ancient texts, putting them in relation with real events and real places and real people, and I've been convinced that on that front, the Bible is accurate. So when I start reading what it says about God and Jesus, I'm more prone to believe its accuracy in that respect. It's not all of my faith, but it's a earthly foundation, right?" Well, I felt pretty impressed with myself and my answer until my professor got a wicked glint in his eye and asked "well, why do you also believe the accuracy of those other ancient texts?" and then "what if some ancient versions of the Bible disagree on some details? For example, in the book of Mark, there are 2 ancient sources (the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint or something) that don't include the last ten verses. Would you still call it true if you saw inconsistencies?" I was rather sheepish after that, but then one of my classmates jumped in with a "well, maybe God wanted those differences to test people's faith" and then I didn't feel so stupid anymore.

As the class went on, I was feeling more and more uneasy, but not for the reason I had been warned about. I didn't feel like my own foundations were being tested yet--it seemed like because of the refusal of my classmates to stray outside the response of "Christian-y answers," I was getting vexed and uncomfortable. The prime example came when one girl was talking about how Jesus came to save us and die for us. "Back up now," said the professor, "Why do I need to be saved? I don't think I do." "Because Jesus takes away your sin." replied the girl. "Well, what do you mean by sin? What is sin?" asked the professor. We all looked towards her, and in my head I was trying to figure out what my own answer would be, if I had to explain sin to someone who knew nothing of typical church-jargon. Would I compare it to commiting a crime and needing to be punished, and Jesus came along and said that he'd serve out the prison sentence for me? Would I talk about disappointing a loved one, a parent maybe, and the need to take the punishment for that disobedience? To go more theologically analogous, imagine a clean room in a hospital, and you want to go in to see your beloved grandmother who is sick, but you can't approach her without first removing all the dirt and bacteria and germs from your body.

But the girl broke my heart when she answered, because it seemed like no one in the class understood that our professor was trying to make us think differently. "You see," she began, "there was this man and this woman, and they ate an apple, and then God made them leave..." and I honestly don't remember the rest of what she said, I was so astounded by how far she had missed the point. Luckily, my professor continued his devil's advocate theme and said something like "This just sounds as real as the epic of Gilgamesh, or Beowulf. You expect me to think your Jesus story is any different?" And everyone looked frustrated and he told us we'd talk more next time and we all padded silently out of the class with furrowed brows.

I left class thinking about my morning Biology 101. I thought of how I had high school biology seven years ago, and because I put off this last science credit so long, I had found myself surrounded by freshmen who were 5 years younger and yet knew way more than me. I thought about how I had asked a simple (probably a stupid) question, like "what exactly is a cell?" and then I was more confused than ever when I got the answer, because I was met with even more technical terms that I didn't know. To someone who knows nothing of Christianity, you just cannot explain the concept of, say, predestination, by rattling off some familiar definition filled with "sovereignty"s, "redemptions," "total depravity"s, and a million other words that even alot of Christians can't firmly define. And yet, that's what so many of us still do. Maybe that's why I never try... which leads me to my next point:

Even those those classmates were blindly dumbasses in my view, my own stance is probably just as lamentable. I'm very very guilty of being one of those people that Dante would consign to the vestibule of Hell--those who refuse to have an opinion, for whatever reason. My defense has always been that "I'm not gonna argue with you about issue X, Y, or Z, because I'm not sure which side I agree with." For years, I've considered myself to be pretty great, because I thought I was so wise in not jumping to emotional conclusions. But instead I've ended up never resolving any issues in my own mind. Good for me---I don't know what should have been done with Terry Shiavo. Good for me---I don't know if I think abortion should be legal. Good for me---I'm still pondering if gay marriage should be constitutionally protected. The one (political) thing I'm definitely supportive of is the U.S. military, because I believe absolutely that the soldiers should be supported and respected and honored. The existence they lead, and the sacrifices they make, and the philosophies they adhere to and represent are something I am so proud of (just read Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein and you'll know what I mean). But do I think the war in Afghanistan should be taking place? I really don't know.

Am I so fine and great because I refuse to state an opinion? No. I need to say, definitely, no. Okay, sure, you've got that famous adage of "it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." But I'm not remaining silent for the sake of being all wise and patient and whatever--I'm silent because I have nothing to say. I want something to say. I've always rambled to my friends that "oh, I never argue about anything unless it's unimportant." Good for me--I'm quaint and precocious. But I'm an adult now. I'm about to graduate, and I need to know. I need to know what is, and what isn't. I need to know what I believe, and why I believe it. I need to know what the bloody hell I think.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I've gotten into this really... significant habit of reading every day. Against the advice of literally everyone I know, I like reading about the goings-on in Afghanistan, and Stryker News is pretty awesome because it focuses (big surprise) on the Stryker brigades around the world.
Yeah, I go to the site today and see that there have been about a half dozen casualties from Andrew's brigade, the 5/2, in the last week. Obviously, the DoD doesn't do a press release on anything until families have been notified and all that, but it's pretty disturbing for me to see a headline of "Department of Defense identifies Army casualties" with the catagory of "5/2" before I see the name of the soldier who died. I mean, I know it's my own fault, looking at this stuff. Everyone said not to watch CNN, not to watch any war coverage really. But for those first 6 weeks or so, it was a comfort to know what was going on. It was better than not knowing anything, I said to myself. But I was kinda deluded, because I only felt that way because things were going well. Now that they are IDing casualty after casualty from that brigade, and the reality of how much danger those guys are in has hit me, I'm feeling sick to my stomach.
My last letter from Andrew was pretty disheartening. He sounded okay, really, but the thing that got to me was when he mentioned that he hadn't received any more of my letters. "You haven't forgotten about me, have you?" he asked, in the midst of his normal jauntiness.
Oh my goodness, that broke my heart. I mean, I know they moved to a new fob (Forward Operations Base---yay for me finally remembering acronyms!) recently, and it's in the middle of nowhere with no phone or internet and apparently the convoys bringing the mail keep getting attacked (lovely), but I was like "ahhhh noooooo!!! I've written you so many letters! I'm so sooorrrry babe!!"
I don't care if I never hear from him, but it is so crucial that he can hear from me. I know my letters bring him home for a few moments. They bring him a little bit of me, and it keeps him going. I've been praying like crazy that my letters start making it through, especially with all these casuality announcements I keep seeing. I know Andrew is the last person in the world to let things bother him, but six guys dying in as many days will rattle anyone, even someone who is half robot like my dearest love.
But I'd really like to hear from him... whenever I'm stressed or down or overwhelmed, I find myself saying "ohh, I just need to get a letter," because it makes everything better.
Sigh. Well, I'm living and loving and waiting as always.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I dreamed about Ray Charles last night, and he could see just fine

So, I'm pretty much loving blogspot. I'm probably gonna import my wordpress stuff sometime today, to show my true transferal of loyalty. Despite what Caitlin posited--that wordpress was easier to format and work with pictures and such--I think blogspot is superior. Or maybe I was just too dumb for wordpress and I understand the concepts here better... with wordpress I was always somehow screwing up my formatting and I really never knew how I did it... I would add a photo or try to justify it or use boldiness and in some strange way I would end up converting all my changes into massive amounts of code. I mean, maybe wordpress is a way into the matrix. Who knows. I don't want to mess around with the matrix. I'm strictly a blue-pill kind of girl.

Anyway. I'm really excited for Whit to move into the house tonight, and for Laura to move in next week. The first few days of chillaxing here alone were awesome, but I think since I got Andrew's we-nearly-got-'sploded letter on Thursday, I've been super super unbearably lonely. I think the most overwhelming feeling is uselessness---there's nothing I can do but wait and hope and pray and love. And those are wonderful things, don't get me wrong, but my physical body kinda yearns to take some kind of helpful action. But as I've said before, I'm proud to join into one of the oldest almost exclusively female traditions, that of waiting for our men to come home from war.
I remember the first time this idea, this tradition occured to me. It was in my first reading of my second favorite book, Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier. There's a moment where the heroine Liadan makes some mention of how one of the most significant tasks of women is waiting---waiting for harvest, waiting for a baby to be born, waiting for men to return from battle. And I like to think that I'm the kind of woman who has the patience to take on this task of always waiting with quiet strength.
I heard so many stories from Andrew, right before the 5/2 deployed, about the way the other wives and girlfriends were acting. He said that the guys were really astounded at the fact that I wasn't complaining about him having to leave; I wasn't bitching about being left alone for so long. Geez. I am astounded at those women. What kind of selfishness does it take to make your boyfriend or husband feel even worse about leaving? I'm ashamed of them. I mean, I'm not an especially selfless person. In fact, I think I'm incredibly selfish, and yet even I can see how these men need to reassured that the people back home will be okay.
Because no matter how much it hurts, still the days go by, and bring him closer to coming home.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

sighs a million

Ah, existence. It's rather a miracle sometimes. I feel like today I have everything and nothing to say... I think mostly I'm still, yes--still--avoiding finishing my epic suicide paper for the symposium next month --irk. So I'm trying to ponce around, doing everything else, instead of settling my brain towards a single task for 2 hours, during which I could probably finish that paper.
But of course, no. I think the biggest problem is that my head is still in "summer" gear---except that I was able to write papers for my summer lit class...
So that excuse goes out the window. GAH let's be honest, people! My head/brain/mind/thinking-bits are completely fixated on this midtour wedding thing! Now that it's becoming more and more likely (and it's only 5 months away... gasps and terror...), I just can't think straight. I mean, it's not even like I've got my head full of weddings and dresses and flowers or whatever---my head is just just just completely unfocused! AGH!
So pray for me, that I can start making sense in my own poor head.

Friday, August 14, 2009

New thoughts

I got a letter from Afghanistan yesterday, which is about my favorite thing in the universe. As I was about to leave my parents house (I always stop by after work because I'm right there, and since my little brother is just moved out, my mum is rather lonely), when I got a text message from my older brother (to whom my mail is still being sent because of address changes and such), saying "You've got a Cook letter!"
Of course then, I shrieked most fetchingly and leapt into my car, all the while smiling and trying to listen to mum as she told me "don't speed! it'll be there! be careful! oh dear..." It seemed to take hours to get to my brother's apartment in Asheville (I still think of it as my apartment...sigh). My heart kept spinning as I reached each visual marker... the highway... the junction to 240...the expressway... Charlotte Street exit--oh my gosh--..finally the road to the development...I halted in front of the apartment and literally jumped out of the car and ran up the walk. When the door was locked, I hyperventilated and knocked about ten times. After a moment, Phil opened the door and he laughed at me as I slithered past him and ran towards the stack of mail I saw on the dining table.
Amazon, Amazon, something from Montreat that I've already gotten, junk mail and then---there it was. A letter. A nice, thick letter, full of pages. My pulse was tingling in my fingers. I looked up at Phil and squealed a bit, and he laughed at me again while I tried to be polite and make some conversation--"how are you? is Ben settled? kthnxbai."
I truly did consider the possibility of waiting until I got home to read the letter. For about 10 seconds, I thought I would give this occasion the import it deserved, and wait til I could sit down on my deck with some dinner and a cranberry Mike's---wait til I could be calm and devote all my attention to every word that he wrote to me.
Yeah, that didn't happen. Before I was back in my car, I had pulled open the envelope and snatched out the letter. By the time I was seated, but before I had closed the door, I had read his familiar greeting--"Hi babe!"--and by the time the door shut, I was crying.

Sometimes I wish he weren't such a good writer. I think it would be easier if I loved a soldier who was more like the Army-grunt stereotype, who just wrote things like "How are you? It was super hot today. I missed you alot." Instead I love the soldier who writes things like this:

"It's always a surprise when that moment comes... that moment you've been preparing for but never ever could really expect. Our base was attacked today. One minute I was walking down the dusty, scorching streets, looking at the dirty sun-soaked signs posted on the stone walls that turn the roads into tunnels, and the next---that moment. Those sounds, that energy and impact that happened so quickly it was like my body was metal and the sand was magnet, I hit the ground so fast. It was beyond sensing. The fire, the debris, the screaming, the death. When finally those automatic actions we take for granted restarted, when I was able to see and move and focus again, you were the only thing my mind could locate to keep me think that 30 seconds ago, I was standing where the bombs hit and it could have been me. But it wasn't, not yet. It may seem strange, but I suddenly understand that my life is not my own. If the time came that I had to give my life the way others did today, I would do it gladly. My life is not mine. My moments are not mine."

Then he closed the letter, 3 pages later, with two sentences that I had to read twice, because I thought I had misread them at first--"Every day I get more tired of being your boyfriend--I want to be your husband."

I don't have it in front of me, but I've almost got it memorized by now, so I think that's about 85% verbatim. I cried so hard after reading that letter. I'm not sure what I was feeling. Not sadness, exactly. Sorrow that he had to suffer through what he did. Agonizing joy and relief that he was alright. Terror, because it finally, truly, one hundred percent sunk in how far away he is, and how dangerous his world is. But more than anything--I think I felt gratitude. Gratitude that the Lord brought this man into my life. Gratitude that I've been afforded such an incomprehensibly stunning romance. Gratitude for His perfect design, His deep love for me and for Andrew. Gratitude that suddenly I have so much perspective on the stupid little dealings in my life--all this stuff about renters and money and "oh, I'm such a hardass?" Who cares? I'm full of love and softness now. I've been reminded what matters. It's not about power and control and making sure that everybody does what I need them to do. If I may be pardoned a line that I never thought I would say outside of jest or quoting, love is all you need.
Thank you, God.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

So, now that I have two blogs, I'm not quite sure which to post in. I'd like to truly concentrate on this dearest darling blogspot blog, because, as mentioned before, Wordpress really gets my goat. And I'd like to keep my goat. So. Let's take baby steps.
(I DO love this font that I get to type in...)
I went to see Terminator: Salvation again the other night. It was just as marvelous as before. I know most people are all grouchified about it, because it wasn't much like the other Terminator movies, or it was too... I don't know. I can't think of a complaint beyond Bryce Dallas Howard's character being entirely superfluous, and... is it too shallow of me to wish they had cast someone either prettier or just tougher? I mean, the original concept character of John Connor's wife was a little more badass than little old Bryce. Seriously. You're gonna be the partner of a dude like him? You gotta be tough, man.
But of course, as I've said before, many a time, I swoon over T:S because of Marcus Wright. As was further confirmed by my second viewing of the movie, Marcus is SO much like Andrew. Andrew's obviously not quite as dour and serious as Marcus, but their attitudes, character paths, intentions, honor, and badassery are exactly the same. And they look so much alike---I was making a very stupid swoony-face most of the movie, thinking of my Terminator-boyfriend.
Alright, good start. Spaceman Spiff, away!

Friday, July 31, 2009


I've spent over a year on Wordpress, and it's been trouble at every step. So, I'm thinking about abandoning it, and starting over here... So here's my first post. Just a start. I gotta work up the nerve to import the blog :)