This is classic gold:

This pretty much sums up several of my classmates in undergrad:

This is mean but hysterical:

And I don’t even know why this is funny. I think it’s the picture:

Life Assessment

I haven’t been doing too well for the past few months. Honestly, more like the past year. There is this dark, angry pessimism inside me that is always under the surface, like groundwater. And the level is rising: I’ve become more snappish and thin-skinned to the point of alienating my own twin. I feel so tired, as if I’ve been swimming upstream for too long.

I’m going to stop trying. I’m going to move into my parents basement. I know at 29 years old this is considered not grown up. But I’m too tired to care. Until I sort out myself I’m just going to stop swimming for a couple years. I’ll drift in the current, and gratefully listen to the birds.

This is hilarious and perfect

What I love about it:

(1) his wife is dramatic and asian (Korean?), just like mine
(2) the kids are clearly happy and enjoying themselves
(3) the dad is working from home, closer to his kids. Either this is because he wants to be near them, or his career isn’t doing well but he is still trying. Either way it shows alot of chutzpah.
It is just so perfectly funny and sweet, with him solemnly and earnestly talking about democracy and bam, in walks his hyper little little half-and-halfer kid who is too young to be solemn about impeachments and scandals. Instead she dances about, glad to be alive and in her dad’s office.
Sigh. I want to find a man like that.
Here is the whole interview:

Secret Sky

As of yesterday, I hadn’t read a novel in years. Seriously. The last piece of fiction I read was six months ago, and it was a 5-page O’Henry short story.

I blame grad school. But anyways, I had a conversation with some friends about it, and resolved to read a novel soon. Then I had a really rough day yesterday, so did my shopping-spree-at-the-Dollar-Store routine to cheer myself up. I just go there and buy stupid unnecessary things like glitter notebooks and duck stuffed animals. (I was standing in line, and another lady smiles at me and says “You must be an elementary school teacher!”  I replied, “Um, I just never grew up.” )

So I’m buried in books. I have around a thousand books, all tomes on Communism and Hitler and Russian Literature and Western Philosophy. I haven’t read them all, of course, and I nearly break my back every time I have to haul them to another apartment when I move. So I made a pledge: no more buying books. It’s stupid of me really — I hoard and collect books and then don’t buy meat and milk. And I’m not even reading them. I blame Ray Bradbury for it, as I read Fahrenheit 451 when I was far too young.

So I made a pledge that in 2017 I wouldn’t buy any more books. Unless they were for work (teaching), or were under a dollar.

There, at the dollar store, was a novel with a pretty cover of a sunrise and a leaf-pattern design: Secret Sky. It was a YA teen novel about a couple in Afghanistan. “Forbidden Love” it said in the subtitle, which of course means honor-killings. I almost didn’t get it, except that the author was an Afghan herself, though one generation removed (barely western-born, she was conceived in Afghanistan and raised by refugee Afghan parents).

I stayed up till 1 a.m. finishing it last night. It’s barely a romance novel — it is really about family honor and loyalty and religious violence. Parts of it could be better written I think — phrases here and there that smacked of individualism/liberation felt too ‘western’ — as a first-generation American myself (my mother immigrated here in the 1970’s), I think I can catch when phrases sound more “western” (e.g. like me) than “old-world” (e.g. like my mom). The trouble-making couple are, of course, pretty ditzy goopy teenagers, but that is the point — that in this world, that is what happens to them, so it works. Also, there were a few characters that were too evil (e.g. do thugs always need to have bad breath and greasy hair?)

But it felt real enough. It hurts a bit too much. I’ll sort it out later. The most painful part of the book wasn’t the main characters, but watching otherwise decent folk do horrible things in the name of religious purity. I hate honor killing. I hate rape. It just shouldn’t exist, but it does. I know that sounded really stupid, but I’m crying.

I’ll make a longer post later. In the meantime, this is what her and her husband wrote about having to face the ideology of radical islam itself. I think they are both war journalists:

The fight against radical islam isn’t about keeping America safe. It is about saving those boys who would have been, but are lost to the ideology and become the brutal killer-rapists-enforcers. They are the most violated of all.


“Harold March was the sort of man who knows everything about politics, and nothing about politicians. He also knew a great deal about art, letters, philosophy, and general culture; about almost everything, indeed, except the world he was living in.”

It’s a story about an idealist, an intense patriot who is bitterly disillusioned in his country. It kinda hurts, but it’s funny.

Sad Good Movie: Conspiracy, 2001

I watched a movie last night that was very well done. It was rather painful, in a very non-melodramatic way. You see a dozen men in a room, politicking and networking their way through a dinner party. By the end the three men with integrity have been tested, threatened, strained, and broken. It all happens around a table, with mahogany and crystal and salmon.

I can’t recommend it enough. I think it does a good job showing the best and worst in people. You see the courage of the men before they crack, all hemmed in by Babel and its darkness. Something about this movie reminded me of Paul Scofield’s A Man for all Seasons. It’s a small story of a human conscience. 

Every twenty-year old in the country should be required to watch this. It is about when society goes bad, when our civilization erases our humanity, and you are called to the test. This one is sad: they strain and they crack. And yet, you see their struggle. And you find yourself praying that, at the end of time, they will be forgiven for the evil that they have done.

And their surrender to evil does not seem inevitable. As you watch the dinner party, you keep thinking, perhaps it could have gone another way. They had something, before they went belly up. But it isn’t despairing, Because we have their inheritance, the good and the bad. And every generation falls like a new layer of fresh white snow.

Go watch it. It’s free on Amazon Prime, or only $7 to buy.

Conspiracy, 2001.

Conspiracy, 2001.

It is a sad movie, but it’s neither melodramatic nor nihilistic. You can watch it here: 

Who shall dwell in thy holy hill

Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?

 He that walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.

 He that slanders not with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against another.

In whose eyes a vile person is despised; but he honors them that fear the Lord.

He that swears to his own hurt, and changes not.

 He that takes no interest from the loans of the poor, nor takes a bribe against the innocent.

He that does these things shall never be moved.

A thimble in a waterfall

That is me in life right now. Too much sorrow and too much goodness and too much beauty and too much life all jumbled up and pouring down. My cup runneth over.

I saw my nieces and nephew last weekend. I can’t complain to God about my lot in life or the state of the world, knowing they exist. If I had planned things out in my tidy universe, I could never have dreamed them up.

God is like the North Wind in George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind. It doesn’t make sense by my logic. But I am grateful. Scared too. And sorrowing a little. But grateful.

And maybe it is normal for joy and sorrow to run so closely together. Perhaps separating the two is just a finite human idea, because we are in spacetime. Outside time, maybe they are intertwined. If God is in eternity, perhaps he always carried both in his heart.