Sunday, May 24, 2015

Newman Parishoners

Today Father Benjamin Holdren invited the people who came for Saturday mass, including his parents, for doughnuts and coffee, and I have to write that down as a big plus.

I've had lots of beans to spill these days. It actually seemed less like me spilling beans at people than it is like picking up my friends by the belt and then hurl them bodily into a ten-storey tall grain silo, filled with beans. I am just thankful for all who have sifted through my irrational thoughts, or laughed at my laughable thoughts, or even chastened me for the wrongheaded ones.

Maybe I have not been mindful of the people who have gone through what I am going through now. I pray now that I can recover and then do the due recompense. When the World takes its leave on the Happy Boat, Lord, just let me know I'm not left alone on shore. Send me, wherever you need me to go.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fighting the Bummer Week

Gentle readers, all you need to know is that something happened on 10 May that got me feel a tad down. Here's the story of myself getting back into commission, if anyone who is going through something similar might find it instructive.

Day 0. News received. Override circuits kicked in and I went for Sunday mass, then biked for 30 kilometers around the town. Really, anything but keeping myself idle! This coping mechanism worked insofar as I was churching/biking, not so much while doing the falling asleep stuff.

Day 1 to 2. Unfortunately, Day 1 is Monday.
I called my fairy godsister, who asked, "why didn't you call earlier? I knew something would happen on your side." We talked for 3 hours till my lunchtime and way past her bedtime. For (the rest of) Monday and Tuesday I worked as hard as I could.

Day 3. I had completed everything on Tuesday and had nothing left to do. I sat in my chair and felt sorry for myself for the entire day, then went to Walmart in the evening with Shijie.
Friends checked up on me later in the night, and I on them.

Day 4. Still goofing out of work, I went to a mall to check the price of a phone, then detoured to the music store and bought a guitar. The storekeeper was called Rob, and he had been to Singapore for a work trip once upon a distant past, three billion years ago, when World Trade Center still existed (it's VivoCity now). I decided to also buy the mandolin in my second trip.

Day 5. Made new friend in a Vietnamese restaurant who will be out of town in the rest of the summer to make a living selling bible study stuff.

Day 6. By this day, she had known how I was feeling.
Long chat with Jeremy.

Day 7. With Shijie in the zoo at Omaha to watch some freaking animals.
The jellyfish exhibit proved to be extremely therapeutic.
Opened one more can of worms.

Day 8. Monday Confession with Fr. Holdren.
Met a guy outside the house who came from Saigon in 1976 to look for his American father, is down and out and now wants Home. Met 3 other homeless folks. Gave him ten bucks shamelessly.
Professor is back from Beijing, so crashed his office to ask some silly questions.
Ran 3km.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Things to get used to in Nebraska

1. Calculating with Quantum ESPRESSO
2. Getting on and off the bike gracefully
3. Converting Fahrenheit to Celsius
4. Crumpling (as opposed to folding) toilet paper
5. ~20 degrees C diurnal temperature variations
6. Paying by credit all the time
7. Daily Rosary (Thanks EWTN)
8. Wide, sprawling buildings
9. Time difference (-13 hours)
10. Local wildlife
11. Unholy opening hours of services
12. Thrift store shopping
13. Random acts of kindness

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sobre mí barrio ideal

Mí barrio ideal es un pueblo en el norte de Sueca. Este pueblo está en un valle muy grande y muy precioso, y debajo hay un río realmente limpio. En este pueblo hay solo quiniento habitantes, porque en el norte no hay muchos gentes. Los habitantes son a menudo granjeros o pastores. Los casas son pequeños y algunos tienen techos de cespéd. Extrañamente, no hay caminos entre los casas. Quizás salen raramente.

A través del pueblo hay solo un calle, y le llamamos El Storgatan. Al lado del Storgatan hay un supermercado, un ayuntamiento, y una parada de autobús. El pueblo no está muy bien communicado, pero el autobús viene aquí todos los sábados, por llevar unos gentes al mundo.

Cada agosto, los habitantes del pueblo hacen un festival de música. Ahora, el pueblo tranquillo se hace mucho mas ruidoso. Los gentes llegan de Stockholm, de Sundsvall, de los otros ciudades del sur, y de los otros países también. No hay suficientes hoteles aquí, así que cada visitante tiene que levantar una tienda en alguna parte, pero en el bosque construyen tres etapas, un patio, y algunos puestos de comida.

De viernes a domingo, todos en el bosque bailan al ritmo de la música, se atiborran de comidas extrañas (par ejemplo: el pad thai sueco y el pad thai tailandés no son los mismos), o salen al lado del río. Nadie duerme por la noche, porque es demasiado frío.

[El lugar real en Google Maps]

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sobre mi habitación

Tengo un dormitorio en la escuela. Está en el séptimo piso de la Torre Norte. Dentro de mi habitación hay una mesa bastante desordenada, con un ordenador, una lámpara, unos libros, una maqueta de un ángel con la Sagrada Familia, y muchos otros objetos. A la izquierda de mi mesa está mi estanteria con veintiun libros. Mi armario está al lado. Enfrente del armario hay un tablón de anuncios. La puerta está entre el armario y el tablón de anuncios, y mi cama está enfrente de la puerta y debajo de la ventana. Mi dormitorio es muy ruidosa cada miércoles por la noche, porque hay muchas estudiantes de intercambio que van a los clubs. Además, da a los otros dormitorios de la Torre Sur; Esto es bastante extraños y las cortinas están a menudo bajadas.

Tengo también cuatro compañeros en mi apartamento. Son bastante amables pero los veo raramente.

[Corrections received from Miguel Angel 7 Apr 2015]

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Нандын жыты | Nandın cıtı

Жаңы бышкан нандын жыты,
Күндүн жайкы ысыгы.
Нан көп болсо үйдүн куту,
Эки беттин кызылы.
Cangı bışkan nandın cıtı
Kündün caykı ısıgı
Nan köp bolso üydün kutu
Eki bettin kızılı
Жаңы бышкан нандын даамы,
Жалпы дыйкан эмгеги.
Бүткүл элдин жүрөк каны,
Кен байлыгы жердеги.
Cangı bışkan nandın daamı
Calpı dıykan emgegi
Bütkül eldin cürök kanı
Ken baylıgı cerdegi
Жаңы бышкан нандын жыты,
Жазган ыры акындын.
Көзгө сүйкүм тынчтык кушу,
Күч-кубаты баатырдын.
Cangı bışkan nandın cıtı
Cazgan ırı akındın
Közgö süyküm tınçtık kuşu
Küç-kubatı baatırdın
Жаңы бышкан нандын даамы,
Ата-Журттун дымагы.
Ошондуктан элдин нугу,
Эзелтеден тынбады.
Cangı bışkan nandın daamı
Ata-Curttun dımagı
Oşonduktan eldin nugu
Ezelteden tınbadı

Singer: Gülnur Satylganova (Kyrgyzstan)

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Demon of Hunga Ha'apai

"A curse be upon you, people of Heimaey!
Woe befall you, citizens of Nuku'alofa!
I have spread burning rock over your lands,
Your seas I will boil dry!"

The Volcano-Demon rejoices at the sight of an eruption.
He rubs his hands with glee as he sees the pastures in flames.
He yelps in joy as the lava tumbles into the waters,
And luscious reefs disappear into balls of steam.

A great monolith of dark, loose ash rises in the ocean.
The waves mobilise themselves to wear it away, but they fail.
The Volcano-Demon plants his heels at the caldera triumphantly.
With his left hand he spreads ejecta over the sea,
With his right hand he casts plumes of ash to mock the heavens.

But when the Demon turns his back, the birds arrive to rest,
They have brought with them seeds from faraway lands.
In the rich dark earth born of fire, the seeds sprout greedily;
In the shallow seas around the island, the reefs revive.
And the Almighty has crowned his newest land with life again.

Friday, January 09, 2015

The Adventures of Péter Bartók's Father

Book Review: My Father by Péter Bartók
Dedication: To Hope (Hope Kellman, who did the final editing)

The son of Bartók, the great Hungarian composer and scientist, remembers his father almost sixty years after his (the father's) passing. He tells of the adventures of a sympathetic person, not at all larger-than-life, nor too small, but at about the right size for life. Péter Bartók's father is of a scientific mind. Péter Bartók's father loves hiking, and loves the songs that the peasants sing wherever he travels. He has a messy table but is fussy at work. He tells silly jokes about National Socialists. And then etc., etc., etc.

I only wonder how Péter feels inside when he goes back through all the letters that his father has written for him in life, especially this second one (translated from the Magyar):

Amsterdam, 9 Nov. 1928

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

A Shortened Testimony

In the morning (7 a.m.) of the last day of the previous year, I woke up to a great view. The weather was clear and Gunung Arjuna was visible on the horizon to the south. Later in the day, according to the routine dictates of the local climate, the white clouds would roll in and obscure the mountain again.

This is Surabaya, a city as beautiful as her name.

Tina, who I had been with for some years, is lost at sea. I had come with the gentle prompting of my parents, who did so out of empathy for hers. I gathered prayer intentions and well-wishes from those who knew her and some who did not. By noontime all the preparations were complete; by evening I had arrived.

Who have I seen there? No, I did not find sobbing wrecks and people who have taken leave of their senses. I met people who were strong in the Lord, people who were filled with grace and compassion for those around us. Love, peace and joy in the air, in defiance of every dismal piece of news. Each sheds their fair share of tears; such a gesture was not out of the question, and even I was not spared, but the mood has been largely calm.

We listened to and trusted the facts. We did not heed rumours and baseless speculation. Probabilities were meaningless to us; the media, who do not try very hard to appear sympathetic, are shut out of the door. We prayed. Day and night, alone or with the company of family and friends, in any number of languages.

We prayed for the Lord's mercy and protection, and he has heeded us. We prayed for strength and grace, and he has heeded us. We prayed for progress in the search and rescue, and he has heeded us. We prayed for hope, and he has given us reasons for hope. The Lord is good and he has answered these prayers of ours. We send in petitions for the safe return of his beloved daughter Tina. We enlist the help of Mother Mary, St Jude, St Florentinus and many others.

If she is in God's hands now, as I have thus submitted, then that is where I shall put myself as well. And why not? It is a good place to be in.

People who do not know us have sought to take our story and then to lace it with melodramatic embellishments. I only wonder what they will say when they open the box of my thoughts, expecting to find grief and hurt and regret, but instead find praises sung to the Lord's glory and goodness. I only pray that this box never be closed again.

Lord, have mercy on us; shower us with abundant grace, lead us to salvation; let all our lives be lived in your praise; with your helping hand we shall brave all difficulties. Amen, Alleluia.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Vagrant

"He stutters when he speaks," I told myself. "It's really hard to listen to him. Do you know how hard it is to follow another person's line of thought? Who could know some people can think so differently! How can they ever expect to be convincing like that?" In the distance, a faint click of a piece of stone hitting pavement.

"She's nice, but she has no emotional depth," I continued. "She treats people well, but I don't think she understands the complexity of any situation... It's almost like she can't see past the surface. She's just so bright and sunny all the time! How can one treat her seriously? Excuse me?!" I turned, startled by a small piece of stone that hit the back of my head.

It was a vagrant, old, bearded, a plastic bag of his belongings in a Cold Storage bag, close to tatters. He wore all his clothes, despite the heat. From somewhere in his voluminous beard emerged:
Don't you stutter as well? Don't you approach others in a glib cheerfulness at times?
"H-how can you say that, my dear random sir?"
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, boy.

After a pause I asked: "Who are you?"

The old man unfolded unhurriedly from his seat on the kerb. When he had picked up his sack of things, he turned and was on his way, all the while chanting a quaint ditty.

"Well I'm a little beggarman and begging I have been
for three score or more on this little isle of green.
And I'm known from the Liffey from the basement to the zoo,
And I'm known by the name of old Johnny Dhu..."

And then he was gone, and I was alone again.