Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sandwiches and Gin&Tonic

Do you know that feeling when you are sitting in the University Library Locker Room trying to eat a sandwich but the bread keeps falling apart and you are 78% sure there is hummus on your face and you are 100% sure there are crumbs in your jumper and you don't understand why people have to walk in this public space like why can't I just be alone with my embarrassment?

The market man I bought the bread from asked if I was Australian because I was wearing the shirt that said 'Melbourne' with four penguins on it. I said 'Na-oow' (No?) in my most Australian accent possible and walked away. I am not buying that bread from him again.

Last night I had my first Gin and Tonic which made my cheeks pink, although I'm not entirely sure if it was my first since just before that I'd had Gin and Tonic sorbet for dessert (Fanciest Vegan Sidney Formal dinner ever) I'd just been dreaming with Jacob (also vegan) about all the not-fruit-salad desserts we'd love to have and when they brought out the ice cream I think my eyes were as wide as they'd every been because it was just like magic.

The timer for the end of my timed essay (I haven't finished) just went off and I momentarily thought there was a bomb in my room.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Pro Plus

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

Within my time in the choir I've become familiar with the term 'pro-plus'. These are little pills of caffeine which people take when they are flagging (usuallly between rehearsal and evensong) and need a sudden and drastic pick me up. The ingestion is quick, the results spectacular. But the thought of a pill suddenly spiking your energy slightly terrifies me (unfoundedly, of course, they are just chemicals, as the sugar in a banana is a chemical) and my natural aversion to caffeine has kept me off the pro-plus so far.

But this is a slightly circuitous introduction to what I wanted to say. What I wanted to write about today was how God carried me through when I (my nerves, my confidence) was flagging.

On Friday I had to give a speech.

Speeches and I have a strange history. I recall two terrible instances, one where I couldn't pronounce Japan and Japanese when I was giving a presentation on the Marco Polo Bridge Incident (which rather centrally involved the Japanese military), and another time when I was so nervous and my mouth so dry that I kept saying 'facefulness' instead of 'faithfulness'.

But I also remember giving my testimony in church before my baptism, and feeling confident and happy.

So I didn't really know how this speech on Friday would go. I felt a little like Moses, when God tells him to speak in Pharaoh's court. 'Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.' (exodus 4:10)

But then even there God replies to Moses immediately (not in the three day to 2 month periods I sometimes take to reply to people) and says 'I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.'

In the preparation for the speech God gave me wonderful people who sent me encouraging verses, and prayed for me, and lifted me, like Aaron and Hur when 'Moses' hands grew weary[...] [they] held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.' And on the actual speech day I felt more calm than normal before a speech. I practiced in my room, carefully going over the danger spots ('per-fec-tion-is-tic') and making sure I wasn't speaking to fast or too dead-pan (as my choir teacher described my voice when I emcee-ed for a concert, leaving me very confused throughout the whole performance)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Written on a train while sick

(Written on a train 16/04/2017 - Easter Day. Felt ill.)

What is my body – it feels so frail, like a shred of kitchen towel. My wrists, the thinnest part of my body, seem the most prevalent – snappable. Oh I am tired, eyes bloodshot (left one with blood pooling above the pupil) and heavy. I am also clean, heat steamed, and dressed in the jumper Mum gave me. And so I feel like a sick child thrown in an adult's world. Fragile and scared, taken care of and yet constantly bombarded by what seems insurmountable – I changed currency for a terrible rate, I ate cold noodles out of a plastic pot, and I pretended ignorance because I am just so tired, ‘I do not understand’, not entirely a lie.

I am tired. I long for my one room in Cambridge. I long for a day of just myself, just rising, washing, running, reading, sleeping, eating. When I am tired God promises that He gives rest, please Lord give me rest. Rest, rest, the hiss sounds like relief, the sigh when you fold into bed. Bed rest. I – I- I think I might make no plans. Except for those heart calming lists that tie my day down to the minute, 7-7.30 wake up, 7.30-8 breakfast, when the mechanical motion of my mouth has thirty minutes to chew and swallow, repeat process, before the list is unraveled into general degeneracy and procrastination.

I was writing my dissertation before this, and the words came out slowly, dripping, titration. But when I turned my attention to writing how I feel at this moment on a train with the world going backwards the words pour out, tsunami.

I am embarrassed about my eyes. I will send a message ahead apologizing for them, for my sickness, for my sleep, and then let more words roll out behind me.

A little night music

After Vespers today (I love the word Vespers - it sounds to me like whispers, wisps of praise wafting up to heaven) Emily performed 'A little night music', singing a collection of songs in the Sidney Chapel with piano accompaniment. I need not say she sounded utterly beautiful. I felt rather emotional listening to the songs, and the third song in particular - Silent Noon by Vaughan Williams, for some reason dragged a dream I had long ago back to the surface of my mind.

A beautiful dream - I am wearing white, and beside me my lover is wearing white, and we are in Silver Birches, and we are painting the walls white. Then we are in the gardens lying down in the closeness of the grass, the pinky-white underbellies of daisies, and he slides his hand under my t shirt and lays it on my back so that I can feel both how warm and strong his hand is and how soft and safe I feel under it.

Silent Noon 
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass,—
   The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
   Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
   Are golden kingcup fields with silver edge
   Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.

Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:—
   So this wing'd hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,
This close-companioned inarticulate hour
   When twofold silence was the song of love.