Wednesday, October 31, 2007

For Sale

Recently, I have been entertaining thoughts larger than the 3% or whatever of my brain that I actually sometimes use. These are thoughts about which I would like to blog, but I'm feeling like as soon as I start talking about them, I shall be immediately out of my depth, so I'm stalling.

To keep you reading while I procrastinate, here's something else for you to think about, or maybe help me out with.

I have here a pile of leftover hand-made Christmas cards from the last four or so years. Clearly I can't send them to people, because I already did. Everyone will be like, "Oh yeah, I remember that one." (I have no leftover anthrax cards, although I would be happy to tell you the story about them if there is enough demand.) Anyway, I've been told that I could probably successfully sell these cards, but I haven't quite worked out how to go about this. I was thinking of posting on etsy, but, unless I am reading it wrong, it looks like I have to pay them something like 69 cents per individual item. I have a lot of individual items, and am not sure I want to pay them that much every month for something that may well not even sell. Also, I don't want to have to charge as much for the cards as I would need to, to make up for the 69 cents plus the postage.

So. Does anyone have any advice? Or, alternately, would anyone like to do their Christmas card shopping directly from me? Here are some images of the cards I have available; keep in mind that card background colour and format may differ slightly between cards.


(Text: "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.")







(Inside text: "You make me know the path of life; In Your presence is unbounded joy, In Your right hand is eternal delight. Psalm 16.11, CJB")






(Image: Butterfly in cocoon.
Inside text: "The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 40.5, NKJV")


(Image: Revelation 12, more or less. For some reason I can't locate the verse I quoted in there. Mom? Dad? Dave? Do you still have your copies? Can you remind me?)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Questions

Here is something I have been wondering recently:

How is it that bleu cheese can get moldy? Isn't it already moldy? So . . . does mold grow mold? And if your already, intentionally, moldy bleu cheese starts to grow white fuzz, and the point of bleu cheese is its moldiness, can you still eat it?

Here is another question:

How is it that the packet of whole grain tortillas that my mother bought at the beginning of August is still not moldy?

Just wondering. You know.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Event

I spent most of my three-day visit to New York tromping around in a pair of boots that I really only needed for two hours on Tuesday night. Trouble was, most of the tromping was also done with a backpack on my back, and those boots wouldn't have fit in there with the clothes, toiletries, and books I had brought along. So I dispensed with the comfort of sneakers for those two hours of scuffed fashion. One more day of that would probably have made the tendons and muscles of my calves pop like too-tight guitar strings. Fortunately, there was not "one more day of that."

In the meantime, the tromping was sort of fun. On Monday I went with Marianne to the Museum of Natural History, because when I was providing the links to this post, I discovered they were having an exhibit about Mythic Creatures. It cost a little extra to get in, but it was pretty fun to read about creatures with which I feel familiar, and others I had never heard of before. It was more interesting to see mythic synchronicity across cultures. I love that stuff.

On Tuesday, I went with Seren to the Cloisters. Here we saw things like the Chamber of Smirking Marys and the Painting of the Blood-Gushing Jesus. ("Gushing" may not be the right word, exactly, because, according to the painting, the icon of Jesus managed to aim the blood right out of his ribcage into the waiting chalice of the priest who was worshiping there.) Medieval art is Really Weird a lot of the time. Small American museums instituted by millionaires are often a bit weird as well. But I kind of like those things, too.

After tea at the end of our Cloisters loitering, I got into the outfit that the boots were truly meant for and returned to Manhattan. The Yale Club is directly outside of Grand Central Station, and I got there just in time. The Lloyd Alexander memorial evening turned out to be another moment of mild weirdness, because I didn't know a single person there. I didn't even know who anyone was. It is kind of awkward, I realised, when the only person you know who is relevant to the event you are attending is dead.


This was how I rediscovered that I am a completely inept at conversing or networking with strangers unless there's a counter and a cup of coffee between us. I have no idea how to start a conversation with people I've never met. Apparently I don't know how to keep one going either, because at least three times that night, people introduced themselves to me, began to talk about Lloyd, and then, when I began to talk about my own (albeit minimal) experience as his friend, found someone else they urgently needed to talk to.

On the other hand, Sharyn November, editor of the Firebird imprint of the Penguin group, made a valiant effort to meet everyone in the room, and everyone did include me. Also, Jim Jacobs of Brigham Young University was cordial and friendly and even seemed genuinely interested in my experience of writing to Lloyd. Blouke and Marianne Carus of Cricket Magazine (etc.), who had spearheaded this event, were lovely. And I met one of Lloyd's granddaughters--the one who had taken greatest care of him at the end. Lloyd had one more book about to be published when he died, and all of us at the event got a free copy of it--as well as of his first published book, and some of the Carus magazines. This was generous and unexpected and delightful.

Besides, it was great to hear other people's stories. Some who had been particularly close to Lloyd were given the opportunity to speak to all of us, and it was fascinating to hear what other people had known of him more close at hand. I didn't feel the need to cry anymore. But I did still wish he had been there, to really talk to.

Photos by jennw2ns: Museum Unicorn 2007; The Cloisters 2007; Photo of Photo of Lloyd 2007.

Photo by J.S. Jacobs: Jennw2ns w2 Books and Illustration.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Grand Central Station

I drove to Anne's house on Sunday. She's a little less than halfway between here and New York, but I can get a train pretty inexpensively from her town. The day I left it was gorgeous and I put my camera on my dashboard and tried to get spontaneous brief videos of riotous colour along the highway, but I had a little trouble with camera angle, because, you know, I was driving and everything. And I was concentrating. I really was. The next morning, the trees around Anne's parking lot had left gifts on my car like this one. This was all very lovely, because I was pretty sure most of this mind-blowing colour would have fallen onto the ground by the time I got back from the city. (I was right.)

But cities are otherwise colourful. When I arrived at Grand Central Station, it was well after rush hour, which meant the place was empty enough for me not to feel overwhelmed, and so that I had time to gawk like what I was, which was a Tourist. I really think this is my favourite train station ever. I remember its being dirtier, with dark wood fixtures. It seems to have been spiffed up, which can, in some cases, turn toward architectural travesty (cf. Wheaton College dorms), but Grand Central Station is still magnificent.I had had breakfast before leaving Anne's, but I was a little hungry, so I went to the Dining Concourse, and bought myself a soft pretzel with nacho cheese to dip it in. I got the kind of pretzel with the enormous salt crystals on it because they look so cool, but this turned out to be a mistake, so I ended up flicking them all off. I sat in a molded plastic chair that was supposed to look like a big puffy armchair but was much harder, flicked salt off my pretzel, and people-watched.

There are the Nice Families. And the chic, suave, posh Urbanites. The respectable middle-aged, middle-class Couples, usually traveling in groups of four, whose fashion sense screams, "We're Americans! Check out our heinous accents!" when they go to places like London. The hopelessly attractive Hippie Couple and their long-haired love children. The Obligatory Lady in Magenta Sweater and Fuzzy Red Earmuffs, clutching a plastic bag and babbling to herself. This one's bag was from Macy's, and on it was scrawled in permanent marker a name, and the words "Midnight Run." I thought this was all very eccentrically charming and mysterious. It got a little creepier after she sat herself down next to one of the unsuspecting Nice Families and I realised she was babbling loudly about kidnapping.

Everyone in a train station is a caricature of themselves. Of course they're all much more complex in reality. Likely, if I got to know any of the people I was watching, I'd discover them to be both like their stereotypes, and altogether different. I myself was the semi-artsy writer-wannabe-chick with scuffed boots and a well-tailored coat, eating a soft pretzel and scrawling notes on a napkin. But of course you all know better.

Photos by jennw2ns: Golden Tree 2007. Leaf-Gift 2007. Grand Central Rush 2007.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

This Just In . . .

Apparently, New York is only a big city. I'm not sure what I thought would be worse. Or what I thought it was instead.

As it happens, I like big cities. Particularly (odd as it may sound) public transport. More on all this later. For now, suffice it to say, I did not visit the Delacorte Clock.



Photo by jennw2ns: Grand Central Station 2007.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Still Sovereign

So, these are the kinds of things that make me question--maybe not so much God's sovereignty, but His love. I don't know Charity, though I've visited her blog occasionally. I guess she's basically around my age. She's been diagnosed with cancer and had some very invasive surgery because of it. I don't understand why God allows these things. Really. And sometimes the doctrines I was just talking about the other day seem austere and uncompassionate.

But that doesn't mean they're not true, I guess. Charity herself says,

I am so thankful to have wrestled with the Lord all summer so he could remind me that he is NOT my adversary but my friend and comforter. He is for me and will guide me through these hard days too.

I don't think I would, at this point in my journey, have the fortitude to say something like that, having received news like that. But I'm inspired. And I have a hunch that she's right.

Hob-nobbing

It's a good thing I have friends all the way down to New York City, because I'm the kind of person that needs the moral support.

And because I'm going to New York City.

I grew up going to New York City. My dad's parents used to live in the part of New Jersey that's relatively close to that booming metropolis, and when we visited them they'd take us to places like the Central Park Zoo and the Bronx Zoo and the Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (This is the order in which our outings progressed--in maturity as we did.) I loved these visits. The Central Park Zoo had this great clock with dancing animals, and lots of pigeons. (I think everywhere in New York has lots of pigeons, but apparently when I was two, that was what I was most into when we went to the zoo.) The Bronx Zoo has this monorail thing and camels you can ride. The Museum of Natural History has the first T-rex skeleton I'd ever seen. And the Met is full of other people's stories, with some of the most beautiful illustrations (both literally and figuratively) I've ever encountered. Plus the city looks great at Christmas. And smells like roasting chestnuts.

When I was in high school, our choir toured in the NYC area. We had a day to explore downtown and three of my friends and I accidentally ended up in the "Combat Zone," because the maps we had told us where the streets were, but not which ones we shouldn't be on. We made it out unscathed, and I made it out almost oblivious (I was that kind of kid), but not entirely unfascinated.

When I was in college, the Gospel Choir toured to NYC, too, and we sang, among other places, at the Brooklyn Tabernacle--both with and without their well-renowned choir.

And then when I was a nanny, I went to NYC for the first time by myself, stayed with a friend in Queens and ate proper Chinese food in Chinatown. (The day I left, I came down with a stomach bug, which was utterly miserable (and not, I think, related to either the Chinese food or the Indian food I had had the rest of the time), but I still managed to navigate the subway and train system and get back to Nannyville, which might have been something of an accomplishment.)

Also, I might add, not entirely irrelevantly, that I once went to Turkey by myself and only stayed with people I knew for five out of the nine days I was there. Oh. Right. And I lived in London for over five years.

So it's not like I'm totally unadventurous or need constant hand-holding. But there's still something about New York City that, shall we say, makes me a little nervous. Maybe it's residual trauma from ending up in the combat zone by mistake. Or from the time my friend Nate passed out before my eyes in a food court on Gospel Choir tour. Or the high prices. Or the dirty looks that shopkeepers give you when you go into their shop and look around and don't buy anything. Or multiple times of almost getting run over by yellow cabs. Or the fact that it's the home of The Wrong Baseball Team (such that I shall not dignify them with a link).

Plus I'm meant to be hobnobbing. I'm going to this snooty- (I mean, classy-) looking place called the Yale Club on Tuesday, and I'm supposed to be hanging out with these publishers and other people who probably actually knew Lloyd Alexander. I don't know any of these people. I wish Lloyd himself were going to be there. This kind of situation makes me feel like one of those Jane Austen characters who the reader knows is inherently way cooler than all those high-brows she gets thrown in amongst, but who doesn't personally know how to navigate such refined waters. I revert to my high school mindset of, "These people have no reason to want to talk to me."

Let's just say I'm a little nervous. I'm heading down tomorrow afternoon, and I think all I really want to do when I get there is go to the Central Park Zoo and watch the Delacorte Clock go round.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Points

I grew up with fairly Reformed theology (though I am not prepared to define what that is any more than I am prepared to define racism). Then I got some friends who had a pretty tough time with life. Then I started to have some tough times myself.

In the tough times, pat answers don't work very well--either profferred or received--and the general tone of the Bible is that God and the other characters in there don't like them much more than I do. There are also lots of people in the Bible who got kind of upset at God about some things, and at some point in my life I began to feel that it was okay to do this, and so I did. Fairly often. Sometimes on behalf of other people, though usually, I confess, when things weren't going the way I wanted them to go for me.

Somewhere along this line of processing, I kind of lost the concept of the sovereignty of God. If you had asked me if I believed in it (and sometimes the Item does), I would have said yes, but I preferred to emphasise free will, because it's hard to get over some of the tough stuff when you think God made it happen, and didn't just allow it. I'd rather blame people, and human sin's infecting and breaking the world.

Well, I do think sin is the ultimate problem, and I do think there truly is human free will, even though I don't know how it fits into all this, but during the last few weeks, as I've been dealing with the latest stressors and reading through the lectionary and listening to the sermons, I've been thinking I should just go back to trusting God's sovereignty.

It's kind of hard and scary to trust, when you see that He, in His sovereignty, allows or even makes bad things happen. I still want to say He doesn't make them happen, but that's scary, too, because it implies He's disconnected, and I don't believe that, either.

Pat answers, it seems to me, are dishonest. But lately I've been thinking that sometimes my doubt is a little dishonest, too. Sometimes I doubt just for the sake of doubting; I feel simultaneously edgy and trendy. I'm kind of wondering, these days, if part of the exercises in frustration I've been going through lately are on purpose. I wonder if God is sending them so I can stop getting so all-in-a-wad about life. God doesn't always exact a reversal in circumstances. But sometimes He does, and if He's going to, I don't want to be whinging so much that I don't notice. I don't want to be surrounded by miracles and leave them standing out in the street. And if He doesn't reverse things, I don't want to miss out on what He's going to do instead.

I reckon it takes equal strength and obstinance to trust or to doubt. Lately it has occurred to me that all this doubting is making me tired, and also not very healthy. I've read lots of books on apologetics that satisfy my intellect at the time, but I know plenty of people who don't find that sort of arguments satisfying at all. I don't retain apologetic arguments well. Then there are experiences. My modus operandi of the last few years has been to see negative experiences as arguments against the Christian God, in the face of which I struggle with great fortitude to believe.

I don't think faith will ever be just a walk in the park for me (though it does often involve walking). I do think there's a point where eventually you realise that there are good logical and emotional arguments on either side of the faith issue, and you just have to come down on one. But I already know which side I come down on. It is almost, sometimes, like I don't, er, have a choice. So, if I'm going to be a follower of Jesus, it would probably be a lot pleasanter for both of us (not to mention all-y'all) if I spent some of my obstinance trying to see and bring about the glory God intends to come through the hard times, rather than getting distraught about them.

Yesterday, Pastor Steve talked about how God's sovereignty is, in the end, more comforting than not. It doesn't explain exactly why things happen, but it does mean things are not out of control as I feared. I mean, not if you look at it this way:
There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. (Charles H. Spurgeon, attrib.)

Pop Racism Revisited

So, due to the slight flurry of discussion on my is-it-racist-(let-alone-true)-to-call-Annie-Lennox-the-greatest-white-soul-singer post, I feel it my duty to alert you to this article, about a young black woman trying to break into the country music scene. Maybe I partly feel it's my duty because I copped out when requested to provide my definition of racism. (I do want you to know, Jasdye, that I have been pondering this ever since; however, I still haven't come up with anything, er, definitive.)

Because I now feel somewhat intimidated by the topic, I guess I don't have much to say about this article, except that I think that Rissi Palmer has a remarkably positive attitude:
She's not looking for favors, she says, just a fair shot. She recalls how Nashville music executives would gush over her demos, then back off when they discovered she was black. Palmer doesn't blame racism, just the realities of the market.
I don't know. That's pretty nice of her. I think I would blame racism. I think that is what would make me say, if I were her, "I totally look forward to the day when it's, 'So Rissi, tell me about the album' as opposed to 'You're black. Tell me how that feels.'" Big kudos to her if she doesn't.

Too bad I'm not a big afficionado or connoisseuse of country music. I haven't heard any of her stuff, and if I had, I'm not sure how I would evaluate it. But if any of you have and are, please feel free to post a review.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sometimes, the Bible is Just Funny

One of the Bible stories I think is the funniest is one I read last Sunday, right after I read the Hezekiah one. It's that story where all this miraculous stuff is going on and nobody--and I mean nobody--gets it.

So Peter--you know, St. Peter--has gotten arrested and put in jail. He's pretty well guarded. All his friends are meeting in this house and praying for him. Sometimes I wish I knew what, specifically, they were praying. Anyway, in the middle of the night, the 16 or so guards are all dozing, and this angel shows up in jail with Peter and lets him out. The whole time the angel is unlocking everything and opening doors, Peter thinks he's having this really cool vision or dream. Which would be, you know, really cool. But actually something even cooler is happening, which he doesn't realise until he's standing in the middle of the road and the angel is nowhere in sight.

So Peter trots off down the road until he gets to the house where all these people are praying for him. Remember. They're praying. For him.

He knocks on the door, and this girl named Rhoda goes to answer it. You have to give her a little credit. She was probably kind of nervous. The puppet king was on this search-and-destroy mission for Christian leaders right then (thus Peter's being in jail). So, she gets to the door all timidly and realises that Peter's out there. You know. Peter. The guy they were praying for.

In her utter astonishment, she goes running back into the prayer meeting (leaving him on the front step) and starts jumping up and down and telling everyone that Peter's out there. And they don't believe her.

It all gets sorted out, of course, and then the king dies a nasty, horrible death at the end, so there's poetic justice and everything. But I just think this story is hilarious. It gets me every time.

The thing is, this time, thanks to the lectionary, I was reading it sandwiched in between the Hezekiah story and the story of the widow of Nain getting her son back from the dead. Those lectionary dudes were clearly trying to get a point across. I already mentioned (in my Hezekiah musings) some of the points I took from it. On Monday, I'll talk about them some more. Meanwhile, I'll just leave you chuckling.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Appointments

I am pleased to announce that I remembered to go to worship team practice this evening. All of us in the group were in sort of tough shape, so we decided to sit instead of standing to practice. It felt weird and sounded weird, but hey, at least we practiced and were all there. I was in the best condition. My only problem was having slammed my right index finger in my car door while jumping out of it to welcome Former-Roommate-Sarah back to the US from her honeymoon. The welcome came out a little pinched after that, kind of like my finger. (I'll let you know if the fingernail falls off.)

I also remembered to go to my dentist appointment. Two appointments in one day is kind of noteworthy, I think. Once again, I have no cavities. My teeth might be what's called "tetracycline yellow." (Apparently even if tetracycline doesn't do a thing to help your acne, it will still discolour your teeth.) But they're solid as rocks. Well, except the one I knocked out when I was seven. The dentist came in and said, "There's never any drilling with you. You don't eat enough sweets. That's your problem."

A compliment from a dentist if there ever was one.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Drought

Who knew drought conditions were conducive to great autumn foliage?

Well, I'm sure the people who look into these things did, but I am not much of a researcher, so I have to find out most things by experience. My experience right now is that I don't believe I have ever seen more brilliant colours on our trees around here at this time of year. Seriously, there's a tree on the way to work which I'm pretty sure has always turned yellow at this time of year, but this year it's scarlet. And it's not even peak season yet. And our trees are famous.

I think you (or at least I) might be able to draw some analogies about beauty coming after or through drought. But I don't feel there's any need to hammer the point home.

There's no way photos will do justice what I'm talking about. But disclaimers and analogies aside, here, still are more reasons to love trees:

Photos by jennw2ns, 2007. I think you can tell which ones I photo-enhanced. But I don't think it means I'm lying. I was just trying to get to the colour I'm actually seeing around here.

Whinging

Yesterday I was reading the three passages set forth in the daily lectionary, and one of them was the story about King Hezekiah falling ill.

I have read this story numerous times. Although I may have, on occasion, reminded myself that if I were told I was about to die, I would probably be upset, usually I just think, "What a whiner. He had led a good life and God had rescued the people from the Assyrians and everything, so what was his problem?" I'm not exactly sure what my problem is, to think such things about him, really. Because yesterday morning it hit me full in the eyes that I'm just like that guy.

When I was a kid, I listened with fascination to stories about missionaries going off to far-flung corners of the earth, and I wanted to join the ranks. And I guess I still do. But the thing is, back then I thought that if I were doing that, I would really be doing what God wanted, and then I wouldn't have any doubts about anything anymore, and I wouldn't ever be upset about anything because I would have reached total selflessness or something and everything would be caught up in the Grand Scheme of the Kingdom of God.

So . . . either I've never actually found what God wanted me to be doing at a given point in time (which may be arguable, but I have to disbelieve it just to maintain my sanity, I think), or that whole thing about "arriving" in this life is a bunch of hooey. Which doesn't really help me in the whole knowing-what-direction-to-go-in-next thing, but it does help me relate to Hezekiah a whole lot better. The dude was feeling terrible and plus he was going to die and he knew it, and he found that a little upsetting.

Hezekiah threw a fit, and then surprisingly (in my cynical view), God actually listened to him and gave him another fifteen years. He was probably okay with dying at that point, because by then he had undermined national security and the Bible makes it pretty clear that he didn't want to be in the vicinity when the whole thing fell down around everyone else's ears.

So yesterday when I read this story, I realised I've been getting all Hezekiah lately. I've been acting like (and therefore undoubtedly thinking like) this story's all about me, and it's turning out to be a tragedy. And there are things that are happening (or not happening) right now that are a little less than lovely. But the Story isn't about me, and it is about God, and whether He enacts a reversal or not, He cares in some way I probably don't understand. I will get through this time. None of the situations may actually change. But hopefully, if I'm open (and getting enough sleep), I will.

Meanwhile, there are lots of great things happening, too, if I'd just open my eyes to see them.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Adjusting for Accuracy

Actually, I still don't exactly remember what New-York-David initially called me yesterday, but Old-Timer-Ben (who's 23, by the way) reminded me that it had the word "democrat" in it. We think it was something like "left-wing hippie liberal Democrat." Yeah. He called me a Democrat.

(Well, I can't say I'm a Republican.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New Kids

Not the band. Yes, I am that old, but not the band.

At the end of the summer about six people (and I am not exaggerating) quit working at our store. This meant lots of work for the rest of us (and way fewer people among whom to share tips). Then we hired about twelve more, plus a couple of out-of-state transfers. (Now I am exaggerating--about the twelve, though, and not about the transfers or their locations of origin.) Most of these are college students, as usual, which is kind of nice because it makes for a ready-made conversation topic before you know them very well, i.e., "What's your major?"

If you have to have new kids (which we often do), it's really really helpful if they already kind of know how to do stuff, even if they don't know where everything goes. And even if they have Long Island accents. Yesterday on my break I ordered a decaf tall almond latte, just so I could hear New-York-David say all of those "a's." (I know. I'm kind of mean. But he says his college suite-mates pick on him all the time, so I figure he's used to it.)

Today I got a beverage I actually felt like drinking on my break, and I had New-Ricky make it in my travel mug. New-York-David, who took my order, wasn't quite getting the whole travel mug concept, so I told him I was trying to look after the environment in my own small little way by reusing a cup instead of wasting all those disposable ones every time I wanted to drink something.

He said, "That's because you're one of those left-wing hippie liberals."

I grinned and said, "Actually, I'm a conservative evangelical Christian, but you can think what you want."

After that I had to disclaim a little bit and say that I'm not quite as conservative as some of my brothers and sisters, but I was one, all the same. I love watching people's faces register this information.

When I came back from my break, New-York-David and I had to put our recently-arrived supply order away, so we got to talk a little more. New-York-David asked me questions about my voting habits and I brought up my racism question (he started out saying it wasn't racist but after I expounded, he changed his mind), and stuff like that. After we had cleared the back room of boxes, he said, "I started out trying to instigate a debate with you, but it didn't really work because you're . . . too open-minded."

I'm not sure this is necessarily true. I'm not sure, either, whether all conservative evangelical Christians would consider this a compliment, coming from a left-wing hippie liberal. But I have to tell you: I did.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Greatest

Since I got that unexpected CD last Friday, I decided to read up on Annie Lennox a little, and there are a few sites which quote VH1 which, I guess, called her "The Greatest White Soul Singer Alive." That's really cool and I'm sure she should be flattered. But it makes me ask questions.

The first question is, who's the greatest dead white soul singer?

The second question is, isn't such an attribution a little racist?

I refuse to say I'm not racist, because I think everyone is, in some way they're usually blind to, and plus, anytime I've ever heard anyone say, "I'm not racist . . . " the next thing to come out of their mouths is usually something that makes me want to push it back in there. I will say that the racism of which I am conscious drives me crazy and makes me really angry, but I don't usually find myself objecting anti-white racism because I don't usually notice it, and plus, I'd rather try to stick up for somebody else, I think. Maybe that's racist . . .

Anyway.

I guess I'm just asking. I'm not trying to dispute the veracity of the claim regarding Ms. Lennox. I'm just trying to unpack the implications. Which might be something like, "She's not quite as good as a black soul singer, because let's face it--she's not black. And she's unusual, because let's also face it--not many white people can sing soul."

This may or may not be true, but it seems to me that it would be better to be known as one of the greatest soul singers alive and skip the ethnicity part, than to be set apart because of skin colour. I'm pretty sure there are more white than black opera singers, but I'll bet no one says so-and-so is the greatest black opera singer alive. If they did, I think that person might be (and would have a right to be) offended, as if one's ethnicity should determine whether or not one can excel in a certain art--as if it should dictate whether or not we should be surprised that they did. It's just plain condescending. I'll bet no one set Seiji Ozawa apart for being Asian, but for being a great conductor, whether or not the music he was conducting originated in Europe or Asia or someplace else.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Real Conversation

. . . on Friday went like this:

Me: Hi, what can we get for you today?

Customer-lady: Um, do you guys make the pumpkin spice latte in a venti?

[I imagine most self-acknowledged readers of this site are at least nominally familiar with Starbucks size-names, but I guess even if you're not, you can understand why I would be puzzled as to someone's asking if we make the drink in a certain size. I would think most drinks could be made in any size you wanted, except for shots of espresso.]

Me: Uh . . . yes.

Customer-lady (pausing): Okay. Can I get a tall pumpkin spice latte?

Me (even more puzzled): Sure . . . but . . . did you want a venti or a tall?

Customer-lady (pausing again): Oh. Yeah, I see what you're saying. (Another pause.) Can I get a tall pumpkin spice latte?

I have no idea what the point of that conversation was. Maybe someone out there can interpret it for me . . .
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