Friday, October 28, 2011

Cream and Crops

The last few blogs I have posted have been on the serious side.
Though I'm travel weary and exhausted from the week... I will deliver the blog I promised. And it is lighthearted. Shout for joy, O' merry makers! Raise high your tankards (of milk!) :)

I just wanted to take a minute to tell you my three favorite movies.  And why. Real hard-hitting stuff, eh?

Shawshank Redemption
This is the greatest movie ever. Based on a Stephen King novel. Phenomenal acting, riveting plot, unexpected ending, absolutely satisfying conclusion. Though the dialogue and content is rough - the language and the eeky parts are probably quite true to life in a maximum security facility in the 40s. Andy Dufresne's character leaves you guessing to the last minute. Did he kill his wife? What the heck is the rock hammer for? Morgan Freeman's voice as narrator helps to sell it. I personally love the crow, Jake. Shawshank is the greatest. Watch it. Pardon the language. Watch it.

Lawrence of Arabia
Uh...second greatest movie ever. Hence the number. Not only is T.E. Lawrence one of the most fascinating figures in history, his obscure birth and the way he's treated as a noneity in the British Army and manages to lead the Arab people to victory, but Peter O' Toole plays him. Peter O' Toole: face burned with sand, hair streaked white blonde in the sun, speaking the epic words of the Lawrence of Arabia in booming British while trains explode and camels pound across the blinding sand. IT'S....great. It's just great. Watch it.

Empire of the Sun
Another great movie. I watched this when I was a kid, and then I rediscovered it again when I was in ninth grade and I wept like a child. Based on the true story of J. G. Ballard, a spoiled English boy in the British controlled sector of China in World War I, Jim Graham is separated from his parents during an invasion of the Japanese. He learns how to survive in a POW camp for British and American citizens at the price of his sanity. One of Christian Bale's first roles at the age of around 12-13. Incredible!

Now, there are others that are on my cream of the crop list, like Forrest Gump, Titanic, La Vie en Rose, etc., but these are the undisputed tops.

So - watch these movies! And tell me what you think! And tell me your top three.

Friday, October 21, 2011

You gotta put your behind in the past...

I'd rather waltz than just walk through the forest.

I was driving to work today and listening to Owl City (as if I ever listen to anything else...). I was desperately trying to think about something to write about on Blog Post Friday. The song: "Plant Life" came on and I decided what to write about. This isn't a funny blog.

The past is a beautiful thing. I've got so many beautiful memories. I've collected them over the years and my trunk is full, full of memories I pull out to look at lovingly when times are bad. But I've been looking at them lately when times aren't bad. I just want to look at them and remember what I've had. I've looked at them so much I'm chained to that trunk. The past has become a pair of beautiful shackles.

There's been a lot of change in my life over the past two and a half years. College ended...I studied fastly and furiously for my finals and then I walked across a stage and it was over. Four years with friends who I lived with and loved dearly and then we moved across the country and nothing will ever be the same. Even when I see them, there are new stories and ours are faded. Though it was a long time ago, it was such an abrupt shock. So I settled here and plugged into life. And then a family that I loved dearly, that was central to my life here was forced to leave abruptly. And all of the things that we did became memories added to my stock and no more can be added. I look at their house and it's a ghost's house, full of pain and memory. All of the pain and memory and change has weighed down my shoulders to the ground.

My friend Joe Walls once wrote: "It is very sad - after all, a part of your life is over and you can't live it over again. But isn't there a little pleasure in the pain of losing chapters of your life? It is tragic, strange, and beautiful all at once. Memory evokes a sense of longing - a longing that is more powerful than the thing or the time or the place we desire. That strong feeling, I think, secretly belongs to a more powerful realm. True, it is partially plain old loss in a world that continually forces change - nobody can reasonably deny the poignancy of it - but that feeling is also a hope and a foretaste of something else."

We cannot live in the past. We can remember it, because it was beautiful. But we cannot live for it. Living in the past, we miss out on the present. And when the present is over it becomes another memory and we never truly live. I am blessed to have life and have it from God and I must live it for Him in the present and I will. He will bring more beautiful things again and He will allow them to pass away again. The greatest treasure is that one day I will see His face in heaven. That joy can never be taken away. In that hope I can live in the present, remembering with fondness the past, and hoping for the future.

"Tonight I'm busting out of this old haunted house, 'cause I'm sick of waiting for all those spiderwebs to grow all around me, 'cause I don't feel dead anymore. I'm not afraid anymore." --Plant Life, Owl City

Philippians 3:13
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

Friday, October 14, 2011

Be Sensible

If you've read my blog with even nominal regularity, you may have picked up a theme. In March of 2009, I posted about my acceptance of the fact that my nostrils are larger than your average Jill's. Ever since then, my posts have almost always had something to do with things I smell, have smelled, would like to smell, whatever. My good friend Ben even pointed out to me that in my review for Relevant, I reference the sense of smell in "sniffing bags of green tea." Apparently it's become second nature.

Therefore I was thinking it would really be unfortunate to lose the sense of smell. There are so many good parts of life that I would miss out on without it. Well, I guess there are certain circumstances where I could do without smell, like after it rains and people mash worms on the sidewalk. Not pleasant. But there are other situations, say, Thanksgiving morning when the first thing that greets you in your bed is the smell of baking turkey wafting up the stairs, or the smell of balsam and sedum in a pottery store in Maine. Smell evokes memory for me. Just like hearing a song that you used to love in the 90s and you haven't heard it in a while - when you hear it again it transports you back to riding the bus (the smell of leather seats, sneakers and diesel fuel, anyone?) or riding with your mom to piano lessons (her perfume, Subaru seats, saltine crackers).

I don't think I could pick a sense that would be easiest to live without, but I think I could safely say that smell is the one I would be most devastated to lose. What about you?

I was thinking about all of this on the way into the post Office last week when a strong wind picked up neon orange and yellow leaves and scuttled them around my car. It was cool enough to catch the scent of fall - of dying leaves and crushed acorns and a world on the brink of freezing. The bells from the Presbyterian Church around the corner were ringing in the hour, muffled by distance and cold breezes. The sky was gray, not as ideal as the previous days where it was blue, but what was left of the technicolor leaves punctuated the dull atmosphere. Now I didn't taste anything, but all of the other senses were represented. If I were drinking a pumpkin spice latte, it would have been a package deal.

But there in the moment I realized how specially we're created. One of the major combatants against evolutionary theory for me is the intricacies that are linked with emotion. We are created to experience beauty but not just through sight but through smell, taste, touch, and sound. God cared enough to let His creation experience the pleasures of life in five distinct ways. If He didn't care, our existence wouldn't be nearly so intricate. I'm sure He could've provided us with gray landscape that we see but don't feel, food that we eat to survive but never taste.

Our five senses can also be used to experience pain in five significant arenas, which I imagine is a destruction of God's first intention of them but that is a consequence of living in a world that's gone wrong, a world vying for redemption. In the day of redemption, our senses will be redeemed as well. I can't imagine what beauty they'll take in and take in for an eternity.

Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

Friday, October 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

Two random things, then the point:
1. So, apparently somehow I joined my own blog? A little narcisstic it may appear, but it was totally by accident, people.
2. Today I had to run in to the dollar store and mid "running in" I heard a loud "POW!" Of course the first thing I did was check myself for gunshot wounds, but after realizing my organs were still intact I looked around and apparently a soda bottle exploded. Crazy! Just sitting there with a bunch of other soda bottles and exploded right there in the middle of the day with no one touching it.

Point:Next month I'm writing a novel. That's right. Not finishing a novel, not starting a novel, not outlining a novel but writing one. Start to finish. "Once upon a time" to "they lived happily ever after." Am I crazy? Is the idea crazy? Or crazy awesome? (hint - the latter) If you've never heard of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, check out the webpage here. As stated on their webpage, " The goal [of NaNoWriMo] is to write a 50,000 word novel by 11:59:59 November 30th." You sign up, create a profile and add your word count every day to keep track and keep accountable with other writers in your area.

It seems a little masochistic, but I'm really excited. I can't tell you how many times I've started a major writing project and have not finished it! Currently, I'm over half-way through a rough draft of a book that I've been working on for about two years. And that one I really do hope and pray to finish because it's important (both the book and the ability to finish). Finishing is the absolute hardest part for me and one of the goals of NaNoWriMo is to tell people that you're writing a novel in November so people will bug you about it and keep you accountable. Hence the purpose of this blog.

Bug me about it.

Want to write a novel next month too? It'll be fun! Go to the webpage and look me up. My username is: emholbert.

Currently I am outlining and brainstorming and purchasing coffee.