Friday, March 28, 2008

A break

I'm taking a break from blogging. Not sure when I will resume, but I don't have the heart to put an end to it completely. Thank you for reading and your comments.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Giving up stuff for Lent

When I was younger (and Catholic), I used to give up something every Lent. I was partly inspired to do so by my many Muslim friends who fasted during Ramzan, and partly by some little religious twinge I experienced as that time of year approached. (Incidentally, I always found the period between Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday particularly depressing, although I'm certain it wasn't in contemplation of Christ's tribulations.)

The one thing I remember resolving to give up year after year (with varying degrees of success) was sweets. I soon realized (although I suspect I knew deep down all along) that my reason for this was anything but spiritual. True, it was a huge sacrifice, probably harder than anything else I could have given up. I've an inordinately sweet tooth, which resulted (and still does) in a constant (and largely unsuccessful) battle with my weighing scale. So when I decided to give up sweets during Lent, it had very little to do with Christ and everything to do with my midsection.

As I came to realize this, I took the easy way out. I simply stopped giving up anything. And since then, even when I've felt the urge to try again (maybe not something as obviously self-serving as sweets but perhaps a little more spiritual), I always decided against it, with the excuse that I would end up making it about myself or giving up altogether. I've also told myself that giving stuff up for Lent is largely a Catholic thing -- so I don't need to do it anymore.*

So I haven't given up anything for Lent in ages. But this year, I feel a bit guilty. I've finally acknowledged that I've been lazy about dealing with the real problem. If I end up making my Lenten sacrifices about myself, the right thing to do would be to find a way to make it glorify God. The problem lies with me, not with the sacrifices.

I've finally realized this three-quarters of the way through Lent. But isn't Lent just a symbolic period in preparation for Easter? There's no reason why I can't start now, is there? Of course there isn't.

Now that that's settled, the question is this: which of my many vices will I give up?

*I know that in some traditions, penance during Lent is supposed to make up for our sins, and that, as I've been put right with God through Christ, I don't need sacrifices to justify me in God's sight. But human hearts and minds don't submit willingly to God (mine most certainly don't), and I do believe that sacrifices focused on God can help us bring our desires more in line with His.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Britain rescinds America's independence

Since Craver found this funny when I posted it on Facebook, I figured it wouldn't alienate my American readers too much, so it would be ok to post on here.

(And yes, I'm poaching. . .again. But people who don't bother to keep a blog shouldn't throw stones at others making valiant efforts [ok, making efforts) to rescue their own rapidly deterioating ones. . . Caveboy!)

Britain is Repossessing the U.S.A.

A Message from John Cleese

To the citizens of the United States of America:In light of your failure to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas , which she does not fancy).Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections.Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary.

1. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix-ize will be replaced by the suffix-ise.Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').

3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.There is no such thing as US English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell- checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize. You will relearn your original national anthem, God Save The Queen.

4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent.Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

7. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

8. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables.Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

9. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline)-roughly $6/US gallon. Get used to it.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

11. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting Nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British Commonwealth - see what it did for them.

12. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters.Watching Andie McDowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

13. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies). Don't try Rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.

14. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

15. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

16. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

17. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; strawberries in season.

God save the Queen.

Only He can.

John Cleese

From Inihtar: Incidentally, I must add Craver's response to this letter: "Being the good natured fella that he is, President George W. Bush chuckled and said that he will not ask U.S. troops to respond to the letter. He did however, appoint Chuck Norris as Ambassador to the U.K."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sri Lanka trip

View of the sea
My parents
View from my parents' place
Playing pool (or trying to!)
Old college friend with her husband and friend
Ready for high school friend's wedding homecoming party
With the bride

Friday, February 01, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What went wrong?

I know I've sadly neglected this blog (and haven't read any others in ages -- will remedy that soon!).

I'm still recovering from my trip that was good, bad, confusing, guilt-ridden, joyful, tense, scary, exhilarating, tearful, fun, restful and exhausting (physically and emotionally), all rolled into one.

Can a simple change of scene bring about a drastic change in personality? I can count the number of times I've cried or yelled at someone since I moved to Tokyo on one hand (in fact I don't think I've yelled at anybody. . . I just stew inside). But when I was in Sri Lanka, I felt like I had absolutely no control over myself. . . I'd be talking about something, get slightly emotional, and the waterworks would start (I cry when I'm really angry which is very frustrating). I yelled and screamed, threw tantrums, swore and acted like a diva.

I had a great deal of control over how this trip went, and how much my parents and I enjoyed my stay there -- but I just felt like a puppet in the hands of an evil version of myself. I tried to explain to my parents why I am just a Christian and not a Catholic like them or any particular denomination, but I was constantly conscious of how unChristian my behaviour was. I tried to point out to them how wrong some of their attitudes towards their lives were, but felt completely unqualified when my outlook didn't seem any better.

I'm back in Tokyo now, feeling stragely detached, as if I'm remembering someone else's memories, and devoid of emotions, as if I used up all my quota during my trip, and now have none left over. And I'm wondering who I really am . . . the person I was on this trip or the relatively nice, relatively cheerful person I seem to be here?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Flying off!!

Today, I fly off to Bangkok!! And then, on Christmas Eve, I head "home" to Colombo, just barely making it before Christmas. . . and probably starting off Christmas Day in a taxi on the way to my parents' place from the airport, if not in the airport itself! This year has certainly been all about new experiences!!

I won't get to blog or read other blogs until after Christmas, so merry Christmas all!! Hope the joy of Christ's birth remains with you throughout the new year!

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." Is 9:6-7 (NIV)