Image courtesy of epSos.de. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.
I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks listening to Sufjan Stevens’ “Seven Swans” album, thanks to Spotify premium and a friend who–after getting a tattoo of a swan–reminded me of the thing’s existence. It is a lovely album, spare and Christian-y in the way that Sufjan Steven’s things are. I’ve been listening in particular to “All the Trees of the Field Shall Clap Their Hands.”
The song title, like most on the album, is a Bible reference. Because I was raised a heathen and my Methodist schooling mostly served to teach me about Hindu holidays, I didn’t know the verse. Google helped me out–thanks, Google!–and provided Isaiah 55:12:
For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands.”
Which is lovely. It is some Disney-level optimistic imagery. It is done justice by banjoes.
I’ve been thinking about the religious implications of the song this week, in part because I’m preparing to fly out of town for a cousin’s bat mitzvah this upcoming weekend. I’m excited to see the relatives, and pelt my cousin with marshmallows, and perhaps see what Nebraska has to offer.
Explaining my upcoming weekend plans has, however, led to multiple conversations about whether or not I am, in fact, Jewish. (Chapman is not, on the whole, a wildly common Jewish surname.)
This weekend, my family celebrated Father’s Day by–as is our custom–eating entirely too many delicious egg-based foods for breakfast. This freaked out the table next to us, since Father’s Day isn’t actually until next week.
The mixup happened due to a combination of familial paranoia and inertia. We did figure out that it was the wrong Sunday due to the magic of Google, but at that point we were all excited for brunch and figured the lines would be shorter anyway. Problem solved!
This is not the first time that my family has willingly changed a holiday date for convenience. When I was small, for example, I didn’t realize that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah weren’t actually the same holiday. (There were not many other Jews in Tulsa with whom my sister and I could compare notes.) Continue reading →
This year, my family finally relented: we bought a plastic Christmas tree.
When I say “my family,” of course, I really mean “my grandparents.” My immediate family, due to the fact that my mother is Jewish, has never had a Christmas tree. (We also used to celebrate Hanukkah at Thanksgiving. I had a religiously confusing childhood.) So every year that I can remember up until now, we have gone to my grandparents’ house and decorated the shedding fir tree in which between one and three cats have nested.
The whole week around Christmas is the most heavily-ritualized time of the year for me. The tree is the kick-off. Later on there’s a family viewing of the lights in the town square, then a singalong on Christmas Eve before we do presents Christmas morning. In between, there is ongoing gossip about people my dad went to high school with. We eat divinity and fudge. (Divinity is like fudge if you abandoned all pretense and just made it out of corn syrup. On a related note, my grandmother is from Alabama.) There are obligatory references to state and local Democratic politics, and there is a three-Clinton-reference quota.
Thanksgiving is over and done with, huzzah! It is absolutely my favorite holiday (stuffing + sweet potatoes + getting slightly overdressed without traveling), but this one was a doozy. High points this year included the truly ridiculous cherry pie that we impulse-bought from Southern Sweets, which I swear to god weighted six pounds. Low points included the fact that my dad tried to get us to go to Cracker Barrel instead of cook, which… no. Plus two members of our four-person party were sick, one couldn’t eat, and things were generally Not As Usual.
Still, though: pie.
As I was noting with a friend a week or two ago, this has been a memoir year. It sucks while it’s happening, but you get the sense that in a few years you’ll be able to spin something out of it into your memoirs.
I know this will happen, because most of my favorite stories (the time I headbutted the piano, the time I got dumped via GChat and then had to go to a birthday dinner, the time I turned 20 on a roof with a giant inflatable nautilus and a bunch of people from the internet) actually involved me crying at some point during them, despite the objective hilarity of the proceedings in retrospect. Continue reading →
Have been in one of those funks where rather than write, or read, or be productive, I nap for six hours a day and try not to be hit in the face by the children who live in my house. So that’s been fun. (Study abroad: I am the worst at it.) So, in lieu of actual, structured post, here’s some interesting things that have happened recently:
Thesis, oh god why: So my thesis adviser’s suggestions and my wordiness led to a thesis proposal that was roughly twice the length it was supposed to be. Whoops. Hatcheted it down, and the entire time I wept for killing my babies. (“Don’t you want to know about theoretical frameworks for death? Or blogging? Or my love for danah boyd? No? Okay.”) Need to get it sent in by the end of the week. Am somewhat terrified. Then realized that I would happily not do a thesis if it wasn’t a Prudent Thing to Do, and stopped caring as much. (Also, did you know that GDocs now has MWord comment support? It does! This is the best thing ever.)
Senegal has a new president: So that’s pretty neat! The night he was elected there was a spontaneous parade in the street near my house. It was pretty fantastic. This also means that a) we’re not going to be like Mali and b) I can stay in the country without fearsome emails from the embassy. Yay! Continue reading →
On Saturday, the family and I ventured up to Winslow, AR to stay with my grandparents for Christmas. After the 14-hour drive (complete with our very own simple dog) to my grandparents’ my family loaded back up into the car for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Tulsa, OK that we make every year in order to placate my sister and me. It may have been 8 years ago, but dammit, we are still bitter about being uprooted.
In Tulsa I got to see a few of my friends who were in town and eat some Mexican fusion, so it was good times all around. We spent part of the day wandering around Utica Square, in December, in Tulsa, without jackets. You guys, this is freaking me out. The first year we went back to Tulsa, my friends and I hung out at the zoo because we were 12 and what the hell else were we going to do. We had to cower inside the rain forest exhibit to restore feeling to our extremities. This weather is unseasonably nice, is what I’m saying.
Because I am from the Midwest, this mostly makes me idly wonder what God is going to do in order to even the karmic scales. I’m thinking a hail storm, tomorrow. Given that my grandparents’ power just went out (they live on a mountain in a town with 399 people), this may, in fact, be the route that He has chosen to go. Still not worse than a tornado! Continue reading →
Today was almost unimaginably lovely. After a Very Long Night (I had RA duty, and a drunk person jumped out of a window to avoid capture), I woke up to the most perfect early-autumn-in-Georgia weather. The sun was shining and there was a breeze and it was maybe 80 degrees outside. It’s not late enough in the year that I’m stressed out about homework. It was good.
I even managed to be appropriately collegiate and go on over to the Student Center for pizza and drinks with classmates for college football season kickoff. (It was for the free pizza, I admit, but still. I went!) I took the shuttle into Atlanta with a friend and went with her and my family to the Decatur book festival. In addition to the perfect festival weather, it was my friend’s first time going to an event like that and it is always so much fun to see people get really excited about these things. And it was fruitful! I got the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? tabs for banjo, and an issue of McSweeney’s (number 33–it’s a several-hundred-page newspaper). We even got to go to a recording of The Moth, which was fabulous. The theme was Southern Gothic, and Hollis Gillespie told a story, as did the founder of The Moth. He’s from Saint Simon’s, and his story was fabulous. Continue reading →