28 December 2016

Bookishness / Mysterion: Rediscovering the Mysteries of the Christian Faith

Read _ During pockets of time throughout the day, as an e-book

I don't think anyone would disagree that life is messy. It doesn't always make sense. As much as we use our (mostly) rational minds and science to contain life's experiences in an orderly box, the next moment something spills into the unexplained. As the apostle Paul puts it in his letter to the Corinthians in the Bible: “For now we see through a mirror in darkness” – we're operating in a world that we still only know in part.

The anthology Mysterion: Rediscovering the Mysteries of the Christian Faith offers a creative approach to this partial perspective of ours, with speculations on the many unknowns within the faith. This loose theme results in a wide range of stories from both Christian and secular authors, making you ponder angels and aliens, theology and technology. Whether or not you're a spiritual person – and even if you're not typically a fan of science fiction and fantasy – this serious, humorous, and irreverent collection is worth picking up. 

01 December 2016

Miscellanea, etc. / 01 Dec 2016

Even though Christmas music has been blasting in stores since mid- or even early November, I haven't been ready. Hearing Mariah Carey belting "All I want for Christmas is yooooooou" typically brings me delight (particularly in this context), but these days I cringe. Forget "Jingle Bell Rock." My ears are only ready for gentler seasonal music like the Nutcracker suite, or possibly Vince Guaraldi's jazzy Peanuts Christmas soundtrack. That's about it.

I'm not usually a grinch by any means, as Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year for festive and religious reasons. I've just been tired of the overflowing intensity of the news cycle and our world in general. First there was the election and the frenzy leading up to it -- now still ongoing. Then Thanksgiving whirled by, with the holiday-ness of the holiday season being thrust upon us without as much as a pause.

But perhaps December 1st and the creeping crescendo of cold weather makes it more "okay" to embrace winter and Christmas to come. I am slowly coming around to it. It feels more okay not to be "ready." Advent started this past Sunday for many Christians, and I am embracing the side of it that is about the long journey to Bethlehem.

So as a reflection of my (and perhaps your) mixed state, in this edition of miscellanea you'll find some articles about and not about the holidays:

18 November 2016

Becoming Bostonian to Perusing Princetonia

It looks like I'm destined to live in College Town, USA -- at least for the near future. The Tall Man and I traded Cambridge, Massachusetts ("Bostonia") for Princeton, New Jersey ("Princetonia"). It's been ten months so far, and in truth, I'm still getting used to it. I miss Boston. I miss our friends and the quirky campus culture. Princeton feels stuffy and elitist -- even to an Ivy Leaguer who just came from MIT (ironic?). Here, I have to drive a car everywhere here. I mean, I have to own a car! There aren't enough sidewalks to get to my local grocery store!

Cue the urbanite meltdown...

31 October 2016

Land of the dead amidst the living

Mayhap there be a hand emerging from the gaping maws of that grave? (Glasgow Necropolis)

Cemeteries are one of Halloween's favorite source of creepiness, full of tombstones and skeletons, ghosts and ghouls. Superstitions abound about the undead, vengeful spirits, and untimely death. Cue the muhahaha (cue: the laugh at the end of the Thriller music video)...

In daylight hours outside of October 31st, though, these resting places for the dead are actually a favorite of mine to visit -- even to have a picnic. My travel agendas often include finding a local graveyard, right alongside touring famous museums, monuments, and neighborhood cafes. Nope, I'm not a particularly morbid person, nor do I relish getting scared (note: I really really don't). But I find them to be places of beauty and memory, filled with interesting carvings and cultural turns. I follow in history's footsteps, when graveyards were initially integrated right into the city fabric and, later in the 1830s, became the first "rural" public parks.

05 October 2016

Bookishness / The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Read _ mostly at night before bed, on Kindle

To say this book is just about a kid growing up in a refugee camp wouldn't do it justice. It wouldn't do justice to Subhi, his family, nor the real families behind this story. Nor would it do justice to the seemingly simple yet lyrical way in which it was written. It's a book that surprises and delights, while not shying away from the harsh realities of our times.

09 August 2016

Late night tracks / Fantastic Negrito

These days if I can't fall asleep, the last thing I want to do is stare at a computer screen. There are all kinds of studies these days that talk about the havoc wreaked by screens and modern electronics on our sleep cycles (for teens and the rest of us).

But here I am again, and my music of choice tonight is Fantastic Negrito. I might have first heard about him on NPR, but those are vague recollections. It was his first single, "About a Bird" (above), that hauntingly drew me in. I bookmarked it. I also bookmarked an article on Consequence of Sound, detailing his life story and the genesis of his album The Last Days of Oakland. I read it. I was intrigued. I then kept going, listening to the album in its entirety. I took a chance on him.

18 July 2016

A birthday observed

The Tall Man and Grandpa in 2013, celebrating their birthdays and love for blue checkered shirts

I've always been a birthday person. Or maybe it's more accurate to say I am a birthday observer.

When I was younger, I kept mental track of my family and friends' special days and always had a card ready to hand deliver. As people dispersed -- moved away, went to college, grew up -- I started mailing them. Then life got busier, and I started sending texts and emails, or the occasional Facebook wall post if I didn't have time for a longer message. The messages shortened and became littered with emojis, but the content remained relatively the same.

For sure, birthdays are special occasions to celebrate a loved one's life. But they've also become an opportunity to acknowledge that person's significance to me, to catch a glimmer of their life. For those I don't see very often, this "hello - happy birthday - remember when? - how are you?" has become the very gateway to keeping in touch, even if our last encounter was in a distant phase of life.

21 March 2016

Miscellanea, etc. / 21 Mar 2016

Inbox Zero is one goal for many in this digital age, but what about Browser Tab One? I'm terribly guilty of having a million browser tabs open in several themed windows. I cringe every time someone else uses my computer or when I have to bring it in for service. What if someone accidentally closes a tab I really needed? But then again, did I really need that webpage if I opened it several months ago and have yet to look at it? 

15 March 2016

Springing into renewed resolutions

The backyard stream and farm in January
The backyard today in March

The spring equinox is just around the corner, but it already feels like winter has long fled north. This March has been abnormally warm, with temperatures spiking up to the low 80s and barely dipping below freezing. My Bostonian bones aren't used to this early warmth, but I'm not complaining after last winter's crazy snowstorms.