You’ve got this thing about you that keeps me on the edge of my seat.

I cannot tell you how amazing my life is. I’m a pretty happy person, but lately I have just been pumped. All. The. Time.

My birthday is in a week, and nearly all of my friends will be there helping me ring it in.

I have fucking awesome friends.

I listen to good music all the time.

The student newspaper’s website is better than ever.

I’m setting up my own contract this quarter and I’ve picked out all my reading materials.

I’ve been flexing my editing muscles and I LOVE IT.

Oh god, do I fucking love it.

No one can rain on my parade. (Though the Olympia weather is trying its hardest.)

(Title of post from “Teeth,” by The Ettes)

You’ve got this thing about you that keeps me on the edge of my seat.

Poetry, pure poetry.

An excerpt from a poem by Matthew Arnold, called "Dover Beach"

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Poetry, pure poetry.

Pleasant Surprises

I’ve said it before (but not here), but I’ll say it again: Talking about Tchaikovsky and Nietzsche makes me feel like the college student everyone wants to be. Or at least, I feel like the college student I always wanted to be. I have to listen to it and read it, respectively, to be able to talk about it, and for once that’s what I’m doing!

First, I found Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture on my iTunes (one of those moments of musical joy)… but initially that made me feel more like a budding anarchist (because I also realized that V’s symbol in V for Vendetta looks like an upside down anarchy symbol)… so I moved on to the Nutcracker Suite. But that made me feel like a stuffed mouse or a five-year-old, not a college student, so then I moved on to the Swan Lake suite, which I guess feels a little more refined.

Then, I began reading The Birth of Tragedy, and got all excited because its alternate title is “Out of the Spirit of Music,” which is what Life is. And Love. Here, Nietzsche says it best: “In song and dance man expresses himself as a member of a higher community; he has forgotten how to walk and speak and is on the way toward flying into the air, dancing. His very gestures express enchantment. … He is no longer and artist, he has become a work of art: in these paroxysms of intoxication the artistic power of all nature reveals itself to the highest gratification of the primordial unity.”

… Oh my God, why in the world didn’t I use that for my paper last year?!

This one is even better: “Now, with the gospel of universal harmony, each one feels himself not only united, reconciled, and rused with his neighbor, but as one with him, as if the veil of ‘maya’ had been torn aside and were now merely fluttering in tatters before the mysterious primordial unity.” I don’t know what “maya” is, but otherwise, that’s pretty much exactly what I was trying to say last year. AND I DIDN’T GET IT FROM NIETZSCHE!

Actually, that’s kind of depressing. I thought I had a bunch of original thoughts… but of course this philosopher said it better. Well… Maybe not better. I mean, mine DID take up 25 pages, and I am pretty damn proud of it. I spent so many hours of heartache over it, and Nietzsche probably just rattled it off in a couple minutes without much research or soul-searching. At least that means that mine was more personally interpretive and meaningful. …But alas, I am biased.

Pleasant Surprises

Love? Love. Live.

Ok, so there are some songs that make you cry, right? “Let It Be” is one of those for me, as is “Imagine.” That’s why, even though I love love love those songs, I don’t listen to them very often.

But, have you ever just loved the experience of listening to music so much that it just made you want to cry? Maybe I’m just overly emotional, but that’s what The Mountain Goats are doing to me.

Two nights ago, I liked tMG a lot. I’d listened to probably 30-40 songs of theirs, and I definitely had a few favorites memorized. I definitely liked them enough to spend $20 on their concert in Seattle, but was unfamiliar with them enough that I would have second-guessed getting that ticket if I knew that it would really turn out to be over $30.

I didn’t think John Darnielle was particularly attractive.

I even have to confess that I didn’t like his voice all that much most of the time.

Also, one of my two favorite songs was pretty much their most famous single, which always makes me feel like a bad fan, because I always feel like I should know more obscure material, especially if I like the band enough to go to one of their concerts. It’s like how die-hard Jason Mraz fans (such as myself) hate it when people who only know “I’m Yours” go to his concerts. I want to tell them to sit down, shut up, and listen to Curbside Prophet.

Anyway, there’s also a ton of tMG history that I am still not familiar with. Like John Darnielle’s time in rehab… or even his age. I don’t know if it’s weird that I don’t want to go to someone’s concert without knowing this stuff first, but it’s true. I felt especially bad going with someone who knew everything and was just about as mesmerized as a person could be.

I’m not really sure whether to make this long story short or not.

There’s so much that I could say… about the openers, the crowd, the songs, the performance, John Darnielle, my friend’s bordering-on-religious experience (he’s probably so euphoric that he won’t eat for days…), about how they played my absolute favorite tMG song, “Love Love Love.” And actually, he played my other favorite song also, “This Year.”

Here’s the setlist:

[band]
1. 1 samuel 15:23
2. letter from belgium
3. isaiah 45:23
4. cotton
5. romans 10:9
6. love love love
[john]
7. orange ball of peace
8. sign of the crow
9. woke up new
10. thank you mario, but our princess is in another castle
11. 1 john 4:16 [w/ final fantasy]
12. going to fucking bristol [w/ owen pallett on violin and john on vocals; no guitar]
[band]
13. hebrews 11:40
14. hast thou considered the tetrapod
15. psalms 40:2
16. against pollution
17. this year
[break]
18. ezekiel 7 and the permanent efficacy of grace
19. no children
20. the best ever death metal band in denton
[break]
21. see america right

And ever since I saw this concert, I don’t really know what to do with myself. Granted, it’s only been about 24 hours, and I’ve kept very busy, but still. It was an amazing show… and I don’t really know whether to laugh, or cry, or just listen to their music continuously, or hold off on listening to it to savor the memory, or what.

Some moments last forever, and some flare up with love, love, love.

Love? Love. Live.

Declaration of Faith

This is an essay I wrote for my senior high school lit class. The prompt was to write our “creed.”

*___*___*___*___*___*

Man’s mindscape in the dawn of time: questioning everything from his five fingers to why his fish died. From how to balance on his two feet to why plants grow, or even why he’s alive. Questions flood man’s mind–some questions have answers, but some will still remain mysteries thousands of years later. Grappling with potential answers becomes man’s main priority. Answers form the basis for his faiths, because he has the need to believe something.

It’s inevitable that at some point, man will discover new things that nix his original theories. Man will have to reform his beliefs according to these new ideas, because some instinct tells him that it is reasonable for his faith to be at least somewhat based on fact. 

Faith is a very personal topic, unique to every human being. But even so, we use external conflicts and situations to strengthen our beliefs. Our spirituality is shaped by the events and people around us all the time, and therefore it would stand to reason that it is constantly changing. Part of change is the process of doubt. True faith can never exist without doubt.

When someone is able to justify and defend his or her beliefs, it conveys the impression that those beliefs are powerful and well though-out. It also usually heightens the sensation of wanting to agree or disagree, which fuels argumentation and so continues a cycle of conflicts that strengthen one’s faith, as well as one’s doubts.

A period of doubt and questioning will lead to an even stronger feeling of faith. Once a person answers his or her own questions, wouldn’t they feel stronger, like their ideas were more powerful? But each phase of doubt is harder to overcome, because with the maturity of answering questions and even more (and more important) questions and responsibility to answer them. This, I believe, is the natural process of gaining one’s own unique faith. Every person has to go through it personally.

Faith has no reason or strength without a background of doubt. People need the balance of doubt to reason their way to faith. Doubt gives man the least sense of security of any other aspects of faith, so of course men would want to avoid it. But actually, doubt and questioning give and unmatchable power to a man’s faith. Men always have the choise to accept doubt, but most will ignore it, thinking that it weakens them or gives less meaning to their faith. In fact, it’s the opposite. Doubt offers more depth to a man’s understanding or journey to understanding religion or the possibility of a higher being.

It is part of human nature to doubt, argue, and solidify one’s own beliefs by any means possible, with the help of other people and situations. Having faith is part of human nature as well, but I believe that people don’t want to go through the process of questioning to achieve true faith. They feel that questioning would weaken them, or they’re afraid of the answers they may arrive at, or they’re afraid of not finding answers.

Also, I think that Christians play a big part in making questioning taboo. Many Christians believe that when people question their own spirituality or ideals in faith, it’s really the devil trying to tear apart their religious beliefs. This is wrong mostly because questioning is not evil in any way. But even if this is so — if the devil exists and is trying to break people’s faiths — it only makes it more meaningful when people overcome doubt. People might feel like they’ve defeated an inner demon. Regardless, regaining answers and beliefs should lead to an even more powerful level of spirituality.

Questioning never ends, so perhaps the time of strongest faith that humans ever have is at death. Even though there are very few people who claim to understand death, many have ideas about what happens when we die or about the possibility of an afterlife. Though these beliefs are mainly shaped by religious teachings, some are influenced by raw faith, strengthened by doubt.

The most faithful people are characterized by not only their moments of weakness, but also by times of undying love. This could mean love and optimism for mankind, or a vision that includes peace and happiness for the world. These people are also very well-balanced in their journeys through doubt and questioning, and strong in their beliefs and faiths. When people recognize that faith and doubt are inseparable, is becomes much easier to realize their full spiritual potential.

Declaration of Faith