On Reading All Hallow’s Eve and Danny Gospel

I love summers in south Florida because it rains almost every afternoon. Not a measly, half-hearted rain either – an aching cry of thunder and lightning and water. A real tropical storm. Whenever I tell people I want to live in Seattle someday, they always say, “But it’s so rainy there and depressing.” But I think stormy days are inspiring. They’re perfect for reading, writing, drinking hot drinks, watching Harry Potter, and napping. What’s not to like?

Spurred on by the incessant rain, this past week I finished All Hallow’s Eve by Charles Williams and Danny Gospel by David Athey. The first was slightly disappointing as my initial experience with Charles Williams was Descent Into Hell and that book changed my life. It’s hard to compete with that. Also, Williams suffers from an obsession with using as many words as possible to say something. The whole story would have been better as a novella. All of that aside, there were some beautiful nuggets of philosophic truth buried within the run-on sentences. Williams is fascinating because he plays with the inconstancy of time and the redeeming power of unconditional love. And, while Descent Into Hell certainly achieved this much more effectively, All Hallow’s Eve did give an additional view of how his theories might be worked out.

To switch from Charles Williams to David Athey’s Danny Gospel is amusing, actually, because of how wildly different they read. They both deal with the supernatural and our limited understanding of God’s grace and redeeming love, but in totally different voices. Through Danny’s voice, the narrative maintained a simple and down-to-earth tone. Set in the middle of Iowan farmland, the story kept going down a different path than I expected, but never one that didn’t make perfect sense. His pain entwined with everyday humor made it real and tangible. I feel like it’s not enough to say I enjoyed it, even though I did. I feel like I need to let the story and the characters spend some time in my head, and then re-read the book before I can give my full opinion.

My brother and I have not been able to coordinate our schedules so The Great Gastby is on hold for now. Hopefully we’ll return to it soon. My next book will probably be The Brothers Karamazov because someone said they’d lend me a copy. I also saw Notes from Underground on my shelf today and thought I’d give it a go. It was assigned for a class three years ago, but I’m pretty sure I just skimmed it so I feel I should give it a fair chance.

That’s all for this rainy Saturday! I’m off to go babysit. 🙂

Tuna Salad

Why am I writing a blog post at 1:30 am when I have to be at work at 8:30 am? Great question – I am so glad you asked!

I’m making tuna salad for my lunch tomorrow, because I didn’t do it earlier, because I took an eight-hour nap this afternoon after church, and I have no idea why. I guess this whole “new job” thing is stressing me out a bit more than I thought it was. The job is great – don’t get me wrong – but it will be even better when I know what I’m doing !! I keep telling myself that by the time all my friends are back for school I’ll be a pro at it.

Tomorrow I’m taking in a whole set of supplies to help make this week super successful. First, I’ve got a mason jar for water so I don’t have to keep using styrofoam cups. Along those lines I’m bringing in my “Good Mythical Morning” mug that Sam got me for Christmas for my afternoon cups of tea – also Earl Grey tea and a mason jar filled with milk. How could this week possibly be anything but great with two mason jars and a “Good Mythical Morning” mug? It’s basically the Millenial Starter Pack (Hipster Edition) for Winning at New Jobs. Maybe next week I’ll upgrade to the Deluxe package by bringing in my French Press. 😛

PS – If you don’t know what “Good Mythical Morning” is – treat yo self! (to this video):

 

Day Two ✔

Andddd today was my second day of working full time. Not gonna lie – I was sick with anxiety going into the office yesterday morning. Venti caramel macchiato in hand, brand new purse in the other, and clad in official-ish clothes, I at least looked the part. In my head, I was fighting a surge of negative thoughts, but my roommate assured me that at this point it would take way too much work for them to fire me, so as long as I was not horrible, I’d probably be okay.

To my surprise, the whole experience the first day was positive. Overwhelming in terms of the learning curve – so much legalese to master – but everyone has been extremely supportive and kind and happy to help. 

Today has been no less encouraging and a little less overwhelming. When I was seventeen, I used to daydream about working in an office and drinking coffee and wearing business clothes. Here I am – now I’ve just got to learn how to do the job !

How I Came to Be a Sailfish

And that’s the story of how I came from having no money, no prospects, and very poor health to being an alumus of a life-changing private school in south Florida.

I lived in Virginia, in a neighborhood that was on the outskirts of the outskirts of a small town. It was October, I was turning nineteen, I had no money to speak of, and I was so sick and beyond miserable that I straight up told my mom that I was going to find a school in south Florida (for health reasons) that had a music school (since playing the piano was the only thing I thought I was good at) and that offered full-ride scholarships (because of the no-money thing) and was a Christian school. She laughed, a little bit sadly, I think, and went to bed.

Four hours of tedious internet searching later, it was 2 am and I was working through an alphabetized list of Christian schools in Florida. I don’t know if you have ever researched how many Christian colleges there are in Florida, but there are far more than there should be. I had clicked on hundreds of names only to find some really strange and sketchy institutions. Finally, one caught my eye – Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Having “beach” in the name certainly sounded very promising, but the website was a hundred times more convincing. The pictures made it seem like a five-star resort that also happened to offer classes. Their mission statement sounded solid and they had a music department. And then there it was – just a little sentence on the music page that made all the difference in the world: “Offering varied scholarships.” Varied scholarships means it could be a full-ride. Most schools will give an exact number. Usually “up to $3000” for “very promising students.” I hadn’t had lessons in two years (the no-money thing, remember?) but the word varied was enough to propel me into completing the application right then and there. I wrote my essay and submitted it with the $50 fee (saved from my babysitting days) at 3:30 a.m.

I told my parents the next day and the whole thing seemed so far-fetched that they didn’t even bother telling me it wasn’t going to happen. How would I even get the airfare to fly down to West Palm Beach to audition? I didn’t know, but I signed up for the last possible audition date to give myself some time to figure it out. I started practicing piano again incessantly. I organized a program from pieces I had already learned and polished them up as best I could without a teacher. I signed up for an audition at a local university for practice. I bombed that audition. (I got in – but barely, and with not even the hope of any merit scholarship.)

There was no doubt that I was putting everything I had into trying to make Palm Beach Atlantic University become more real than a pretty website. But it wasn’t enough. However, I had some pretty stellar people in my life that filled in the gaps. My uncle flew me down to audition – and took a detour through Disney to calm my nerves! The school was slightly less stunning than the website, but it was real. Everyone was so nice and helpful. The tour convinced me that I could really live there and be part of the school.

But it really all came down to that audition. They hurried me into the recital hall right after the tour. It was a smallish, dark room with a lovely Steinway on stage and two judges waiting to hear me play. One was the Dean of Music and Fine Arts and the other was the piano-teacher legend, Mrs. Woodward-Cooper.

I played a Haydn Sonata (very fast and lively!), a Chopin nocturne in C# Minor (epically tragic), and a Bach Prelude and Fugue in E Major. All of it was quite all right, but the very shining star of the whole program was the piece I’d been struggling with for months – the fugue. Somehow, for the very first time ever (and so far, the last time ever), I put my fingers on the keys and they magically knew exactly what to do. It was like someone else was playing through me – and I’m not entirely sure that there wasn’t someone else playing through me that day.

There was a short interview afterwards, where I found out that Mrs. Woodward-Cooper also had a history of asthma and other health problems similar to mine. Following that there was a Chick-Fil-A lunch with the faculty and other auditionees, a theory test, and then it was over. We drove over the bridge to Palm Beach so I could write my name in the sand and put my feet in the ocean. I had no idea if I’d ever see that beach again, but I prayed.

A few days later I got a phone call saying that I was accepted to the music school and that I had received a sizable scholarship. A couple weeks later I got a call from McDonald’s offering me a summer job. My mom drove me every morning at 5am that summer so I could work 40 hours a week at $7.25 an hour. And with a little bit more help from my uncle, I did see that beach again. Five years later, I’ve graduated from that school, and I call West Palm Beach my home.

And that’s the story of how I came from having no money, no prospects, and very poor health to being an alumnus of a life-changing private school in south Florida. It was Divine Providence, honestly, and the support of my family. There’s absolutely no reason why I should have found PBA or found the money to fund my education, except that it was miraculously influenced by a God much bigger than I can fathom. And it’s because of this story that I knew that somehow or other, I would make it through this summer financially. I have seen bigger miracles accomplished than finding rent money. I’ve seen bigger miracles than even finding PBA, but this is my favorite one to tell.

Sailor Hat
My first day as a PBA Sailfish

Reading List

Over the past year I’ve been making a mental list of all the books I want to read within a year after graduation. Here they are in no particular order:

  • The Great Gatsby
  • The rest of the Harry Potter series (I’m on book 4)
  • Lolita
  • The Old Man and the Sea
  • Moby Dick
  • The Problem of Pain
  • All Hallow’s Eve
  • In Search of Lost Time
  • The Brothers Karamazov
  • To the Lighthouse
  • Les Miserables
  • The Portrait of a Lady
  • The Waste Land
  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Danny Gospel

I’m currently halfway through The Great Gatsbymy younger brother, Sam, and I are reading it together. I’m thoroughly enjoying the narrator’s dry sense of humor. Let me know if you have any suggestions on what I should add to the list!

One Phone Call Away

I told my younger brother a few days ago that it only takes one phone call to change something big in your life.

Within an hour after posting my final draft of my last post, I received a phone call offering me a job at a law firm! I’ll be doing receptionist stuff and such. Also, it’s full-time, so basically all of my immediate financial worries are over! Woo-hoo!

It’s kinda funny because I was just talking to my mom this past week about how things usually have a way of working out somehow, but until they do it’s really hard to just trust that it will be okay. I told my younger brother a few days ago that it only takes one phone call to change something big in your life. But until that call comes, it’s just faith holding you through, and that’s hard. It is insanely tedious to be patient when you can see all of your problems but you have no idea what the solution is going to be.

Now that I’m on the other side of that life-changing phone call, it’s easy to look back and say, “See, I should have just trusted all along!” But honestly, I know that the next time I’m faced with a big problem I’m still going to have trouble believing it will all work out. I guess patience is one of those things you can only learn by practice.

 

What Can I Say?

Why add another blog to the overflowing sea of personal insight and reflection?

I made a blog. Yay me! But what is there for me to speak about?

I’m only 24 – I’ve never been married or had any children. I don’t even have enough experience to get a job, let alone give the world advice or entertainment.

But hey, I’m unemployed currently – so what have I got to lose?

You may ask though, why add another blog to the overflowing sea of personal insight and reflection? Why inflict another drop of water in the well of self-help click-bait? Well, I can tell you what this blog is not – this blog is not an attempt at telling anyone how to do anything or give the definitive answer to any kind of existential question. It isn’t a “ten ways to do this” kind of blog either.

Rather, this blog is a personal narrative. The only thing that I would dare call myself an authority on is my own life and that’s exactly what this will be. So, if you want a peek into my daily life, with all of its ups and downs and weird moments and awkward situations, then you should stick around. I’ve got plenty.