The Taser's Edge


You might be overly stressed if…

Monday morning I completed the last piece of my M.Div. education–the final exam for Spirit, Worship, and Mission.  I wish I could say I finished strong, but I can’t…at least effort-wise.  My grades are probably fine.

Last week, I had next-to-nothing to do from Thursday at noon onward.  Each day I intended to begin looking at the study guide for Dr. Begbie’s class, and each day got away from me.  My Google Reader Trends tell the tale.  Friday–221 articles read (yes, that means article summaries read, for those of you unfamiliar with Google Reader); Saturday–90 articles read; Sunday–100 articles read.  By the way, for those interested, I have 62 subscriptions.  I am aware that it’s ridiculous.

The whole time I felt guilty, but my self-condemnation muscle went into overdrive on Sunday.  Crap!  I was not at all prepared for the final.

Still, I took time out to make burgers for Holly and I on Sunday afternoon.  And Holly decided she disliked hers enough that she would throw up.  As she vomited from her mouth, I was vomiting from my brain: Holly has swine flu.  She’s going to die.  She’s going to die, and then I’ll start chaplaincy at Duke Hospital right as the pandemic hits.  I’ll be walking around a huge room filled with moaning patients, trying to minister to them, for months of my residency, until I get sick, but I won’t die.  I’ll be one of the survivors.  They’ll just have to dump the CPE curriculum, because they’ll need us just to chaplain all the patients.

Well, Holly is fine.  She went to school Monday.  But on the topic of swine flu, I wonder if anyone outside of my family remembers the Christian punk band, One Bad Pig, and their seminal 1990 audiocassette release, Swine Flew?  If you do, then you should check out their latest touring schedule.

More seriously, I really think that I am paying attention to and being frightened by this outbreak because (unlike SARS, bird flu, et al) it is happening on this side of the world.  Not a good thing, but a true thing.



Spring Break Report

I. Projects and Procrastination

I’m never all that good with breaks.  In terms I’ve used to voice the problem to many people many times, “Without enough to do, my brain starts to eat itself.”  There is also a different problem going on inside me, and it is my particular brand of procrastination.  The more I need to do something, the more I don’t want to do it.  What’s worse, when I am encouraged or reminded to do that something which I need to do, I become all the more stubborn that I won’t do it.  (I wanted to use ‘recalcitrant’ just then, but ‘stubborn’ is easier to use in a sentence.)  I’ve woken up every day this week and not wanted to get out of bed for fear of messing up the day.  And each night, I’ve not wanted to go to bed, because that late in the day I can let myself off the hook for wasting time.  I’m telling you because I know it’s unhealthy, by the way.

This week, the project was writing a sermon for tomorrow morning.  It is done.  (I’m thinking about posting it tomorrow.)  It was mostly done yesterday, and I even started it on Monday.  That is not to say, however, that it didn’t stress me out.  The other project which would have been great to finish would have been my Application for Holy Orders for the AMiA, and also all the kind official letters to official people in the UMC, telling them what they already know, that I have left them.

II. Reading and Reading

Other business.  As I look over several recent posts, it seems like so much of what I write is about books.  To make it official, you should know that Holly invented a quiz for us both to take: “What is your favorite thing to do?”  Her answer: laughing.  My answer: reading.  The real question is therefore not why I write so much about reading, but why she writes so little about laughing.

And this break, I have indeed read.  Almost all graphic novels, a Christian leadership book, and then Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.  That book is so amazing.  I think I read it when I was too young.  Or I might have claimed to have read it in imitation of my idolized older brother.  The same thing happened with The Lord of the Rings; I know I read at least the first couple of those, but I don’t remember anything at all that wasn’t also covered in the movie.  Among other things in which I aped Zack: asking Jesus into my heart at the kitchen table two weeks after Zack had done the same; reading Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; claiming as a toddler that I had somehow had the exact same dream as he had had the night before, a claim which mysteriously only came up after he had described his own dream to Mom.  The weird thing is that I actually remembered having that dream for myself for a long time, and only later realized that it was probably impossible, and that I had most likely given myself a fake memory.

To return to reading, I am very disappointed in Duke and the Durham Downtown Library that neither has the full Wrinkle in Time series, but I was able to request A Wind in the Door from one of the branches.  I am disappointed in Duke alone for failing to carry the 2008 sequel (and second volume) to one of the best books of 2006, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, but Durham Library is vindicated on this count, and the book is in my sweaty-with-anticipation grasp.  If I haven’t yet told you to read it (yes, Wen, this is the one I told you to read) and you fancy yourself an interesting and interested person, you must read at least the first volume by M.T. Anderson.  I don’t really believe in the concept of an instant classic, but that first volume is one.  Synopsis of volume 1: The beginnings of the Revolutionary War as told by an African slave who doesn’t realize he is an African slave because he is raised by Enlightenment Christian philosopher/scientists as an experiment to see if an African can receive a classical education as well as a European.

And, again following the path of my older brother, Zack (as well as my own interest in David Lynch, Kyle MacLachlan, and speculative/science fiction, and I don’t even know if he’s read these particular books), I also checked out Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Frank Herbert’s Dune.  As you can see, I don’t read much in the way of stuff that’s not well-known, (or at least that’s not well-known in its own particular circle).  But I do try to read widely.  My recent philosophy of reading has tried to give up on lifetime reading plans.  As long as my reading setting is stuck on “Voracious,” and as long as I continue to follow my random interests, I think I’ll probably be fine.