Friday, February 29, 2008

Photo Published!

I just found out that a photo of the Hard Rock Cafe sign taken during one of my trips to Memphis has been selected by Schmap for inclusion in the newly released fourth edition of their Memphis City Guide.

I don't get anything out of it other than a byline and the satisfaction of having my photography recognized and appreciated, but really, that's quite a lot. This link will take you straight to the page where my photo appears.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Food for Thought

"Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and
nothing is so gentle as true strength."

- Ralph Sockman

Monday, February 25, 2008

Things Learned While Dining Out This Weekend

1. When ordering fish in an authentic Peruvian restaurant, there's a good chance it will be served with the head and fins still attached. Once you get over that, the flesh itself will likely be quite tasty. Here's a breakdown of the red snapper that I enjoyed (along with several other interesting dishes) with friends at Taste of Peru on Friday night.

2. Escargot (at least when served atop a garlic crouton with sherry aioli) is not nearly as texturally repugnant as I might have expected. If you happen to dine at Cafe Ba-ba-reeba and also find yourself curious about why people eat snails, I recommend it. Not as much as the dates wrapped in bacon or the goat cheese with marinara, mind you, for those tapas are firmly lodged in my affections and will not be budged by an invertebrate, however tasty.

3. One should not underestimate the amount of caffeine in a very chocolatey cup of hot chocolate enjoyed late at night. I realized this at 1:27, and again at 2am, and 3:13... Thankfully, I had lots of pleasant memories of food and friends to review as I lay in bed, wide awake.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Cheese Problems Solved

The Bookseller Magazine (UK) has announced the shortlist for its Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. Naturally, as a bookseller myself, I am incredibly intrigued by this. Here are the contenders:
  • I Was Tortured by the Pygmy Love Queen, by Jasper McCutcheon
  • How to Write a How to Write Book, by Brian Paddock
  • Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues, by Catharine A. MacKinnon
  • Cheese Problems Solved, by P.L.H. McSweeney
  • If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs, by Big Boom
  • People who Mattered in Southend and Beyond: From King Canute to Doctor Feelgood, by Dee Gordon
The public is invited to vote for the winner, so let your sentiments be known. As for me, Cheese Problems Solved wins hands down.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Be Mine.

Today is Valentine’s Day. Although it’s 4:40 and I have yet to speak to anyone other than a “Thank you” to the mail carrier, through various media I have been wished a Happy Valentine’s Day by dear friends, indifferent acquaintances, Al Roker, and Spongebob Squarepants (albeit rather indirectly by the latter two). While I’m not thrilled to be spending my 27th consecutive February 14th without a significant other, I’ve decided to deal with my…whatever emotion this is…by spending a few moments to ponder love. Which, all arrow-shooting naked cherubs and Russel Stover boxed chocolates aside, I think Valentine’s Day was originally supposed to be about anyway.

Be Mine. This time of year those words pop up everywhere—on Valentine’s cards, teddy bear tummies, candies and cakes, stickers, balloons—pretty much every printable surface. In grammatical terms, it’s an imperative sentence. It’s a command, really, given to an implied subject—you. You know who you are, and with such an intimate request, one hopes you know this person imploring you to belong to them. Because isn’t that really what it’s saying? Be mine, because I want to be able to say—to know—that you belong to me, and no other?

I wonder if we’d be saying something different if “mine” didn’t conveniently rhyme with “Valentine.” I mean, we love people all year round, right, but it’s only in the hyped up season surrounding February 14th that there’s a run on items asking, imploring, inviting that special someone to “Be mine.” What if this particular saint’s name had been Rufus? Or Clarence?

And what does it mean, really, if I say, “Okay, I’m yours”? On the surface (and, bias admitted, to someone who’s never really been in love) it sounds awfully proprietary and not a bit unsettling. I mean, it’s no small thing to give yourself to someone else, and a huge responsibility to receive another person who’s trusting you with…all that they are. It’s no wonder people get their hearts broken so often, or that the wise author of Proverbs charged his readers to guard their hearts.

I attended a concert several years back (ironically, on a date with the one and only boyfriend I’ve yet had, though that’s surprisingly not relevant here). While introducing one of his songs, the opening performer, Jason Morant, said something that’s obviously stuck with me, because I think of it every time I hear the song or stop and consider the words, “Be Mine.” Jason said that he thought the highest, purest form of love was to say to another, from the depths of one’s being and with complete abandon, “I Am Yours” (which happens to be the name of the song he then sang). He sings the song to God, of course, which elevates my pondering now to the spiritual realm. There are lots of days when I can’t honestly sing the chorus of that song. I want to belong utterly and completely to God, to say with total honestly to the Creator and the Lover of my soul, “I am Yours.” But so much of the time my heart and attention and affections are so widely dispersed, and with shame I feel like what’s left is more for hiding than offering.

And this is where God’s perfect love is so radically, mindblowingly different from the love we give and receive as humans. Because ever since that day over 20 years ago when I sincerely “gave my heart to Jesus,” I’ve been His, regardless of how I feel on any given day. Regardless of how deeply I grieve His spirit with my sin, regardless of how scattered my affections can become, my name is carved on His hands, and no one and nothing can pluck me out. In Isaiah (43:1, 7) God says to his people, who have been going through the cycle of sin, rebuke, repent for centuries,

This is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
…everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made."

Every moment of every day, to those who have been given the right to be called sons and daughters of God by a manner of love we can hardly behold, God makes both the declaration, “You are mine” and the invitation, “Be mine.” Behold, our God of the reconcilable paradox.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

I AM YOURS by Jason Morant

What is this place I've found
This sacred ground where You and I will run
O that I'd never leave from here
And with every second spent the world around me seems to fall away
And with it all concerns and fears

So I'm thanking You now
For showing me how to love You
For showing me how to find myself in You
Here's my song

I am Yours

What is this grace I've found
That brings to light the deepest parts of me
And yet it's this grace that pulls me through
And with every glance from You that comes my way
I'm feeling more alive
So I'm going to keep my eyes on you

So I'm thanking you now
For showing me how to love You
For showing me how to lose myself in You
O here's my song

I am Yours

Friday, February 08, 2008

Thursday, February 07, 2008

This Made Me Laugh Today

In honor of the upcoming holiday, take a moment to enjoy the "One Semester of Spanish Love Song"!

Me gusta la biblioteca, tambien.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Happy "New" Year!

Okay, so 2008 isn't exactly the freshest thing around anymore. Somehow it's February 6th already and I haven't shown this blog any love for two months. Huh. I don't think anyone's out there holding their breath for the next post, but just in case there's someone actually reading this and wondering about the hiatus, I intend to do something about it. Soon.

My thanks goes out to Jim for the gentle nudge. And to Heather, for not demoting me to blog slacker status, even though I deserve it.