Sunday, December 7, 2014

India Trip, Verse-by-Verse and Play-by-Play (PHOTOS!)

Pamela asked me a good question, about two days before I left her beautiful country. "Why are you here?" she said. I responded with the litany of reasons that, one year ago, I made the decision to come back to India. "No," she said, "I don't mean why did you plan the trip. I mean, with everything stacked against you, and most people in the same situation would never have made it, why is it that you made it all the way back here?" That question has been echoing in my mind with only whispers of answers I hardly dare think. Only time will tell. But one thing I do know: God has been in this from the very beginning. Even the choice of plane ticket was in response to His instructions to "wait," then "go." The canceled American Airlines flight, the overnight stay in Charlotte, the 2 minute delay in paging my name so I'd be on the other side of security, the missed second flight so I'd be rerouted through London instead of Qatar - all that just so I could approach the Indian consulate in person instead of being trapped in a foreign airport. Sure, it would have been easier if God had simply revealed my little mix-up on the visa expiration date months ago, but no, this is all exactly how He wanted it to go down.

James 1 and lots of photos after the jump.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thankful in India: Getting Here

Hi everybody! Guess where I am! Haha, I know, only the most unobservant wouldn't have gathered it from the title.
Well, I am compelled to blog better than I did on my first India trip. Again I'm confronted with the struggle to write one more narrative when I've already relayed it to so many people in diverse ways (mostly Facebook messages, status updates and photo upload). Then I thought, why don't I just use that to my advantage? So here is the story, so far, as told through Facebook snippets.

In Charlotte they cancelled my first flight and put me up in a hotel. This delayed my ETA by 24 hours.

Monday, March 10, 2014

It's Not Easy, Being Green

Sorry for leaving y'all hanging with the India thing. When I tell my stories extensively in person, through letters, journals, and Facebook albums, I have little energy left to blog about it too. Next time (November 2014) will be different though. I'll keep field notes like I did when I went to New Orleans. If you're reading this blog then you are likely my friend on Facebook anyway. Look there for pictures.

One of my friends has taken an interest in my Theory of Colors so I've decided to share a little more about it. It started coming together for me in 2010, during the altered state of consciousness I think of now as "the Time." I've referenced the theory a little bit before in my post, "A Drop of Red." I wouldn't be so bold (or stupid) as to claim God created the Theory. He just created the Colors. And a fanciful young woman who enjoys theorizing about them. I call this my "personal symbology" because I know it doesn't hold up universally. In fact I can see it is actually quite Lydia-shaped. There are myriads of ways to slice and dice Truth. Mine isn't particularly better or all-encompassing, it's just one more way of making sense of self and world.

But, for what it's worth...

(First, credit where credit is due - in addition to drawing inspiration from nature, bits and fragments of human culture and artifice, and even the Bible, my theory owes much to the True Colors personality test, as well as the classic four personality types that date back to ancient times.)

Today I'm writing to you about Green. Green like a leaf. Green like the bunny from the Last Mimzy. Green like the Android and the inside of an iPhone. Green like The Robinsons.  Forgive me while I speak in similies. Some things are too difficult to explain without them. Wizard. Mad Scientist. Evil Genius. Medicine Woman. "Witch." Green is a trait that, when noticed, is often misunderstood. Yet, it is always there behind the scenes planning for the future, making things run smoothly, making things go. Oftentimes just making things. But rarely without purpose. Green is celebrated today as "science" and was variously worshipped and feared in earlier times as "magic." It is the systematic creativity of architecture, mathematics, music. Observation meets creation. Intuition meets logic.

My dad - My favorite Green.
As a Green person, like my father, I have always been utterly fascinated by how things work. Poring over charts and diagrams, spending hours in the non-fiction section of the library, taking apart my laptop to see if I could fix it. Leornardo Da Vinci has been my muse since childhood because he is both artist and scientist. Attended to both form and function. The art I call red. The function, I call green. Nikola Tesla is another Green who captured my imagination from an early age.

Probably the most popular Green stereotype of modern times is the "nerd." The brainiac with thick glasses, the Unix programmer in his underwear with a beard 4 feet long because he is too consumed with code to bother with mundane things like clothes and shaving. Most of the characters on Big Bang theory. Read the book, Hackers: Heros of the Computer Revolution. I read it and loved it. Loved it because I identified so much with these guys, these "geeks," who just wanted to explore and make things work. They didn't care about their reputation, they didn't care about the authorities, they weren't interested in making trouble though if they happened to step into it, they weren't too concerned. They knew they were changing the world, they didn't need credit for it, and they didn't care that nobody in the whole world "got it" but them. 

That's one thing about Greens, we are always ahead of our time.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Greetings from India!

I'm in India. Yep. Been here for 7 days now. I'm visiting my best friend Pamela. She moved here a year ago to marry Ryan, a Christian Anglo-Indian known by his friends as "the American." We're going to celebrate an American Thanksgiving on Thursday. Wednesday we are going to the Taj Mahal. I am so excited. That's an understatement. It is so wonderful here. Everything is so bright and colorful, there are so many people, the smells, the sounds...every morning the fruit seller goes through the neighborhood singing (in Hindi) "I have mangoes, get your mangos, I have bananas, try these bananas..."

The shopping is fantastic. I have acquired an almost ungodly collection of beautiful bangles in a lovely box. Not to mention the fashion! The women here really know how to be beautiful and practical and express their personality all at the same time. Take the "suit." In America, a woman's suit is a drab black or gray blazer and pants or a skirt - either trying to get as close to a man's suit as possible or putting a vaguely feminine spin on it. In India, the suit is inherently feminine. Three pieces: comfy flowy salwar pants, or figure-flattering skinny trousers, on top of that a wide variety of frilly, flowing, flattering, brilliantly colored and richly embellished long tops - that manage to both show off your figure and somehow leave room to serve as maternity wear later - and to top it all off, the longest most luxurious scarf-shawl things called choli - that serve alternately as accessories, neckwarmers, hats, towels, shoulder wraps, and even napkins in a pinch. Completely stylish and practical. I really don't want to go back to wearing western clothes after all this. Life in America is going to feel so drab.

On to the food. Everything is bursting with flavor. What's funny is that Ryan likes a lot of Western food so we've been doing a lot of American fast food chains - Subway, KFC, Dominoes, McDonald's...and the funny thing is, it's all got its own Indian twist. For instance nobody really eats beef here so the "burgers" are defined not by the patty but by the fact they are served on a bun. So I ordered a chicken masala hamburger at Mcdonalds. Also a lot of people are vegetarians so like at Subway, they have all these variety of bean patties and falafel-like thingies that add protein to the sandwiches. Indians love flavor so take all the foods you are used to from these places and intensify them - KFC chicken is spicy, fries at McDonald's are now called "shake shake fries" and served with a bag and a packet of spices. Wierdest food so far? Cookies with cumin in them. Just...weird.

Well I have plenty more to say but I am tired. Also I want to write you with real pix instead of these snaps from Ryan's phone.

More to come!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Nine Things I Did This Summer

Every summer, as long as I can remember, I thought up a list of summer goals, great things I'd like to do with all that extra time I didn't have to spend studying. These were big things like build a shed, reorganize my room, write a book, read Miller's Church History(all 1091 pages). And at the end of every summer I'd go back to school defeated, lucky if I managed to cross even one item off the list. One thing about people with ADHD: We start waaay more than we finish. It's depressing.

So for the summer of 2013, I decided to do something different. I was totally over the obsession with productivity and the inevitable sense of failure. So I thought, what if I set no goals? What if I just made a point to write down every accomplishment, after it was completed? Oddly enough, it was more motivating than the goals list - it made me want to finish things instead of starting other things. It also gave me a space to celebrate what was going on in my life instead of stressing out trying to plan it. It was a great summer. 

Without further ado, the list:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bovinova, and assorted goings-on

I'm taking banjo lessons now. Clawhammer style. Like the Carolina Chocolate Drops. And David Holt. Yay.

My dad's spent three out of the past four weeks in the hospital. He's had four brain surgeries, two of which involved removing part of his skull.

In April, I went to the Azalea Ball, and danced the Carolina Promenade with a bunch of impeccably-dressed and -mannered homeschooled teenagers.

I also joined a church. Kaleidoscope multi-ethnic fellowship. It's weird, feels kind of like a marriage or something.  After decades of restlessness in Spartanburg, this free spirit finally tied the knot with a single body of believers. But my heart was with these people, and God is among them and in them, and everything just...clicked. Plus the food is AMAZING. :-)

In May, I finished another semester of grad school. It's getting harder and harder to keep going, so much LIFE to live in my non-working hours, plus it's tough to stare at a computer screen all day only to come home and stare at yet another computer screen for another few hours.

I also went to Bovinova. It was AWESOME. There was lots of meat, music and hooping and Tim TV. I might possibly be Tim TV's biggest fan ever. I picked up one of his blue dreadlocks that got separated from his head, possibly by a flaming jumprope, one of three hoops he had spinning at once, or a glass scrap after he laid in a bed of glass while a whole circus troupe balanced on his belly. I'm going to put it in a locket or something. I also got "adopted" by the video crew, made new friends, learned to spin poi, and ate emu, mussel, whole-roasted cow, paella, rum cake and other delicacies. Oh and did I mention Tim TV was there?

Tim TV getting cozy on a bed of glass.
He did this whole routine while singing a Tom Waits song. #starstruck
Oh and I bought a knife at Bovinova that I took with me to the hospital. There in the ICU I fashioned a pillow for my father out of a swimming noodle. That made him very happy.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Fridayful of friends, music, and sake

Friday night was one of those serendipitous evenings that just make you happy to be alive. It didn't start out so good. I had been practicing for a month to get ready for my second open mic night at the Coffee Bar. Last time the Ballad of the Polka Dot Lizard seemed to go over really well. The entire coffee shop went silent for the duration of my song. But, last time I had all these friends complain because they didn't know about it, so I just decided to cover all the bases this time and make a facebook event. I invited like, a hundred people. I was going to bust out the toy piano and do the Ballad of Katy Bee.

Well, I get there at 6:30 and can't find a parking space close to the Coffee Bar so I lug my guitar and toy piano from a block away. When I get inside there is no "stage area" at the front, just tables. I knew something was wrong, and sure enough, it was cancelled. Why? Because they share a PA system with the Hub City Bookshop and that night the bookshop was having a reading. "Lady Parts."
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