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Friday, January 29, 2016

ma pean nüüd minema



i've changed my mind. i've discovered this is a factor after all:

i want to live in Estonia because there, everyone's opinions of me begin at the end of 2012, or later, and no one, not even Reelika, knows how offensive a person i am.

there, i'm the foreign santa clause who brings designer dresses and high heels. i'm the photographer, the barista, the exotic american, the shirtless chef... i even enjoy loll välismaalane and türa-pea. there, i bring beautiful flowers to beautiful girls, and no one's mother dislikes me.

in Tallinn i don't just shine. i make other people shine.

in Tallinn i can be someone new. i can start a new game with a new character. and when i look people in the eye, granted i may still have to hide my own pain & my disapproval of me... but at least i won't have to wonder how much of those things is hiding behind theirs.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

the tastiest rapid nourishment

it used to be true, that i felt i had too many 'opportunities' to socialize. i was surrounded by people and the best thing about life was having my own room where my parents always knocked first and i had a decent stereo to isolate and indulge my most treasured of the five senses. i wore shades even inside and at night while in public, unknowingly utilized "i'm not even here. but if i am, leave me alone." body language, arrived after initial meet-and-greets and left before the last amen. i said no to parties i wanted to go to because there would be people there.

now i invite people over into my own home to serve them dinner and various other amenities, to share my music, to challenge them, to be vulnerable with my identity, to feed some need i'm not quite used to (not to this degree). if a few days go by without a friend in sight, i begin to wilt, and the apartment is dimly lit even on sunny days with the blinds open.



it used to be true, that when i asked how someone was doing or feeling, my plan was to extract the answer, deal with any issues / help however i could, then end the conversation.

now i ask not only because i care about the other but also because i care about myself. i've been advised by my new teachers that one way to prevent and combat depression [especially for my personality type] is to make a list each night of what would make the next day awesome, or at least satisfying. one of the things that continues to pop up on the lists i make is "have a good conversation with _____" (the blank gets filled by various friends but one name has been appearing a helluva lot lately). i seek out conversation for my own sake which is strange enough to get blogged about as a change in my nature but natural enough that it took me this long to notice it.



it used to be true, that when i spent extended periods of time with strangers, i was in a constant state of evasive maneuvers, desperate to avoid usually-inevitable fox passes and utterances of nonsensical phrases which people probably misheard anyway due to my lack of articulatory precision. even were i successful in navigating those multiple overlapping sentient minefields, i would come out the other side needing a long nap and an additional day alone in my dark cave.

now i flip a few switches in my cognitively-behaviorally engaged brain (well, okay... maybe i pull some frankensteinian levers) and the mines become ramps, and i pick and choose which i'll avoid because they're beyond my current skill level, and which i'll do sweet tricks off of. i'm not exactly mr social bmx but if the field isn't specifically designed to kill me and i make good choices, i can have an enjoyable time. i can even make new friends if i want, and that's equally disturbing: i do want. that used to be not true.



it used to be true, that the only place i could go for understanding myself better, was here.

now when i want to learn about me, when i want to decide / discover who i am... i go not only in but out as well.

Estonians do it better

this post has been months in the writing / editing / conceptualizing process. this morning i finally realized something important that will for me complete the post, even though it wasn't part of the original idea and will probably seem tacked on. i trust you to deal.

~     ~     ~

"so isaiah you still goin to estonia?"

yeah.

"what makes you wanna move there?"

everything.

"what's the best thing about it?"

the people.

"what's wrong with the people here??"

excellent question.

actually, no one has asked me that last one, yet. except for me. i've asked me several times. only today (october sixth i think is when i started writing this post) did i finally ask myself loudly enough to hear and lucidly acknowledge, and since today happens to be blog-together-with-cofflaxatives day, out it comes. hmmmm pretty sure-ish i remember how to do this...

~     ~     ~

immediate family
mom & dad are getting old, which is nice, because they've mellowed out quite a bit. i get along with both of them now that i've learned how to do so, and i won't say it was an easy process, but it does seem finished, and i'll also say it felt so good to get that off my plate of looming responsibilities. i kinda get the grandparent vibe from them even though they have no grandchildren yet.

hannah & eli are absent. i'm surprised i don't run into them more often, but considering their responses to my attempts at meaningful interactions, it's for the best. at least, i'm playing the best i can with the cards they've dealt me (while maintaining personal boundaries and being careful).

i'm closest to Jesse-- not that we're close friends in the classic sense, and his life is past filled with school and Loving people lately which is the least unjustifiable commitment... but we can easily hang out, despite our differences, and when we have meaningful conversations, they're solid and i treasure them even when i don't remember the specifics. i'm keeping an eye out for more opportunities to build relationship between us. music in particular is something i hope to use as a material, especially after emancipating from my previous musical circle.

Leah doesn't like me anymore. i never understand when anyone likes me in the first place, but i still miss her. when she's happy she interacts with me more and i treasure that as well. the biggest reason i like Jeron is because he seems to have improved the quality of her life so much that i notice the difference even when he isn't around.

Gabriel is young and awesome and our lives don't overlap enough, but maybe latez? i scavenge for things i enjoy that he also enjoys and rejoice when i find them.

the two youngest, i may never meet, and i include this tiny mention in honor of them, and would gladly spend one of my three genie wishes to give them the chance they should've had. and i would gladly have given generous portions of my life to enrich theirs.


as much as i value these people and my connections with them, and as much as they enliven me from time to time, and as much as my parents support me and give to me, i still can't say i feel anchored here by the roles they play in my life / those i play in theirs.


extended family
every chance i get to play with my tiny Micu cousins and serve drinks to everyone else and enjoy the camaraderie between uncles, aunts, their children, and others... i love. i squeeze those experiences until the last drip refuses to drop. that's a weird analogy. anyways yup i love that. it's fun and i feel more alive afterward.

Ug, Ag, and B-rizzle are as wonderful as they've ever been. i cherish and anticipate Brittany's hugs and Greg's jibes and Grace's 'creative' expressions (verbal and facial). i feel hyperwelcome in their home.

Mamaw'n'Grampaw are still kickin' pretty hard, which is admirable, and from my selfish perspective i count it in favor of my future, especially considering how lively my Micu grandparents are as well. i enjoy every moment i spend with them.

extra helpings of cool for me this year, getting to know Joseph and Janelle a lil. i would gladly spend more time with them if they wanted.


still not feelin' the anchor.


old friends
can't decide which category Alexa belongs in, so i'll put 'er here out of respect for the unique kind of trust borne of long and pleasant history together (diminished yet beautifully aged by years of inactivity). my times with her are best described in her words ("halcyon days"). reciprocated desire is indescribably invigorating / affirming / comfycozy, and uniquely fulfilling.

but we're headed in different directions entirely, and must soon say goodbye. so i'll give myself the same advice i'd give to my younger self if i could do so: imminent changes are excellent reasons to live in the present.

[edit: looking back, i did a pretty good job of living in those moments. my heart wells when i dwell on the many good days/nights, and i hear james scrabbling at the door so he can hijack this post but nyyyyyyyope!! get out. i'm introspecting.]

Brand-name, the Cabe, Lady Winter, J. Scott Mendel, Elmadu...... huh. not sure why i expected that list to be longer. the post fulfills one of its purposes at this point, by shitting light on my sitch. (i can hear some of you commenting that that sounds painful. it is.) soooo Brandon's actually moved out, Caleb has five jobs, and i've forsaken the things that would otherwise align my life with those of Rachel, Jerad, and others from that concluded era. occasional interactions with these are my shiniest of treasures, and they make me shine.


but they are not enough.


new friends
new roommate[s]: certifiably cool. Xena, Warrior Princess, is fun and smart and kind. and very different from me, which is perfect for growth and for development of traits i wish to exude more consistently. i'm just now getting close enough to begin truly knowing her. this is one of the things i live for (not all that awkward ice-breaking stuff in the beginning phases; i usually spit that junk out).

Gabrielle & Jimmy: i'm pretty sure they don't realize how much i appreciate the casual friendship that's developed, but it's important to me, and i would hate to lose it.

[edit: valuable things are so easily lost. why?]

buuut i'd be willing to give it up, for my ideal life. (no offenseypoos to anyone in the list above, nor to anyone who should've been mentioned but wasn't, especially anyone geographically removed from me without my express permission. kejalo. stephanie.)

~     ~     ~

maybe i'm realizing, after attaching and detaching so intensely enough times, that a fulfilling social life can be found / made anywhere. not that every opportunity is equal but it's not as though i'd be giving up on friendship itself by moving to another country. in fact i think of my long-term plan as the opposite of giving up on friendship, because i make friends most easily when i'm healthiest, and the closeknittedness of the relationships i've witnessed and participated in while overoceans has convinced me that it's the right context in which to attempt the making.

i don't know all the reasons it's so easy to interact with people there. maybe it's the language? ...nah, everyone here "speaks" English also. it's the combo of everything they are. and as i consider the ingredients therein, i realize i'll likely end up dedicating another post to that topic.

the point of this post, is that there's nothing wrong with these people. if anything, the same disconnect that discouraged me from my second attempt at youth ministry has also infected my relationships here. and whether it's substantial or entirely imagined is also a topic for another post. (is it possible that the only thing keeping others away is me? doubtful that it's the only.) it makes sense to me that forcible detachment from several essential people in the past few years would leave me free to float away on a conspicuously not-salty-smelling sea breeze.



it's normal for me to ask (and, i hope, answer) the whys. but for james it's more natural to set the why aside after a few cursory glances and instead focus on the thing itself, and what it means for my future in a more applicable sense. i express this last thought with that fact in mind:

i have looked up to a few people in my life. perhaps five? not more than ten. certainly less than five at the moment. that's not to say i'm slow to approve; but i choose my role models with great discrimination.

lately i've been having a recurring thought, and applying it to various situations without questioning it or even examining it (until now). every so often, i'll think some disparaging or discouraging thought about myself, and the accompanying feels will start flowing. in the past i used a wide variety of marginally effective tools to combat this phenomenon. i've refined my tools at every opportunity but one of the most effective and surprising has to do with my Estonians.

example: i was prepping a script for when i invite some new friends over to my place for dinner (because socializing without a script is how isaiahs commit confidence/social-life suicide), and when i imagined them noticing my music playing, i started writing that tired old "these probably aren't the tunes you're used to" in the same tone of voice one might use for "sorry if you hate and/or disdain my music, and if you make fun of it i'll probly roll over and take it up the wazoo."

then the scene froze like in the Matrix agent training program, and i thought, "an Estonian would never even think to say that."

and after taking a moment to let that sink in, i decided without hesitation to delete that line from my script.

having done so, i then wondered at how much power the Estonian mindset (as i perceive it in my eesti besties) has over my life, and i realized then that i've used that tool hundreds of times. hundreds of my interactions, both between me and myself and between me and others, have been variously added to my life experience, subtracted from it, or significantly transformed, by my tacit, subconscious adherence to the idea that Estonians do it better.

"isaiah, there are lots of people right here in California far less lame and far better at life than you. if you need advice on how to not be super lame, i won't even make you google it. just ask me. i'll lay it out for you."

okay. but Estonians do it better than them also, and apparently, they don't even have to be on the same continent with me to change my life for the better. i can't verbally express my delighted incredulity at the ease with which i make better choices because of their influence on me. (i would go so far as to state no Estonian has ever needed words to effect great change in me, but Reelika would be rightly incensed at such a statement. the combination of her words and her example has effected the greatest changes in me to occur since 2012, and even now i still refer to my memory of her unadorned, unassuming wisdom as one might read a daily Proverb, or print out and Scotch-tape to one's monitor sections from one's favourite chapters of a self-help book entitled "how to be up to 100% better or more at life.")

if i dedicated an entire post to the willful individuality of Estonians, i'd probly sub-title it "it's toolaaaame to apologiiiiiiiize... it's toolaaaaaaaaaaaame!" with those little ASCII musical noteypoos as brackets.

yup. anyway. unapologeticality is just one of many facets of their collective personality. perhaps i'll describe more facets in the future. for now this one example should be enough to illustrate reason #43 for my intended emigration. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

ekklesium

a friend of j3ss3r msg'd me on fb. here is the convo so far. i will update later if he replies.

~     ~     ~

  • Josh Lee
    3:50pm
    Josh Lee
    Hey Isaiah, hope you're doing well! I have another huge favor to ask. This semester I'm coordinating the seminary chapel services and I am looking for someone to come and share about topic of post-church Christianity and why Christians do not necessarily need to be a part of an organized church to follow Christ. Naturally, the speaker would share a little about why they have come to that conclusion. I understand that you don't regularly attend church anymore, so I was wondering if you would be interested in this opportunity?
  • James Micu
    4:18pm
    James Micu
    this is a fascinating topic for me. lemme message you later tonight when i'm free
  • Josh Lee
    4:20pm
    Josh Lee
    Sweet. Looking forward your message.
  • James Micu
    11:44pm
    James Micu
    welp 1st: i am very interested in speaking on a topic like this.
    and 2nd: i am very not on the pro side of this debate, so i could never actually speak on a topic like this *unless* i were being satirical and facetious.
    "Christians do not necessarily need to be a part of an organized church to follow Christ."
    imho: while technically true, this statement has several problems.
    1) ...Scripture??? even if we stretch to anecdotal evidence (these historical accounts would need to be NT since 'church' is NT), where does Scripture *encourage* this?
    2) it's also true that technically, people don't need food in order to survive. their basic functioning could be sustained via nutrient-rich liquids. *how is this a good idea,* and would we ever want to explore its viability except as a science experiment? upon whom would we experiment, with any ethical integrity? should one ever do spiritual science experiments, even if there were a way to do so with ethical integrity?
    another easy example of can vs should: placing oneself in situations of temptation. can one do so without sinning? yeah. is it totes stupid? yeah.
    uno mas: "Christians do not necessarily need to use their spiritual gifts, in order to follow Christ." wow... um, sure. true. but.... why would we ever *teach* this to anyone?! maybe as an example of what happens when one ceases to do what one should just because they don't have to??
    3) if we are being theologically careful, what Christian is separate from the spiritual church? and doesn't the church have, at the very least, an organization via charisms?
    4 and this one is EXTREMELY my favorite:) what is the motivation for Christians wanting to give up meeting together (ope; Scripture)? if we made a list of the 10 most common motivations, would ANY combination of them meet with Christ's approval as legit & sufficient justification to go solo? or would Christ perhaps want to address those motivations, and would He perhaps find that each needed correction?
    and now i get to ask you a question. where do you stand on this topic, why do you want to stand there, and how did you come to stand there?
    no urgency on the answer[s]... but i would love to hear them at some point.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

other people go to Disneyland, take all-expense-paid trips to the Bahamas on self-propelled floating mini-cities, or spend months preparing their hearts minds and hairdos for school prom. they spend thousands of calories at their favorite local band's performance. they hit up the clubs with their bitcheeeeeeehz. they go camping at Riverpark so they can see Star Wars VII on opening night, and then go back to see it VII more times.

other people buy season passes to faraway places where temps are always below freezing, half-kill themselves with alcohol and pay out the yin-yang for the privilege, or half-kill themselves getting to the top of very large rocks. (oh and that costs significant monies also.)

i have done some similar things, and found happiness therein... but those things take so much of my personal resources, whereas spending a saturday with a friend takes a tiny fraction of those same resources and still somehow grants me as much enjoyment and sometimes more. not only that, but the small investments reap exponential rewards over time.

i am rarely happy enough to use the word itself, and please know that i do not need my experience (to this exceptional degree) to be mutual. but for real, today i was happy, and that's a big fucking deal for me because many reasons. "thank you" doesn't cut it.

[some other phrase that cuts it].

~   ~   ~

about two years and three months ago i started a collaborateeve project that would later be finished without me. i never got over (i probably will never completely get over) the heartache surrounding that whole situation. i expected as much, and it truly is bearable now, despite its depth and tenacity.

i also expected not to find any healing from it, but today was a little bit healing from it, and when i realized that i smiled and kept smiling until it hurt, and even a little bit after it started hurting. it was a really cool surprise, if 'really cool' is a good descriptor for something that helps you heal from something that happened over two years ago and from which you thought you'd never get to recover at all.

today you successfully ministered to someone, and were yourself a spiritual gift. you do not know what you've wrought and i can't describe it very well, so uhm. sorry i guess or whatever.

but mostly the other phrase, the one that cuts it.



Tuesday, January 05, 2016

re: smoke and mirrors

"The thought of living a fulfillment of that dream blows my mind. I can't imagine being in public or even among friends and feeling almost hedonistically liberated and present- aware of all sensory input, and not in a hypertense, anxious way at all. It probably seems really silly and dumb to be in such awe and (fine, i'll say it) longing of something so simple and vague and likely commonplace for a lot of people." - the lady

~     ~     ~

if it is common for one, then one won't enjoy it or appreciate it nearly as much as you or i would. in my experience, anxietylessness & freedom & aliveness & loved ones closeby, especially all at once, is neither common nor vague, and it certainly isn't silly or dumb or silly & dumb to want them. who doesn't want them? and who wants them more than those who mostly haven't them??

i was as far from sad and disappointed as could be when i lived this dream you've described. i remember what i was wearing and why, and that i've never been more confident (otherwise how the #$%^ could i have danced in public?!). i remember being with someone who i think felt likewise, and i even remember what she was wearing, and i consider none of that shallow. furthermore, it was dynamic in every sense of the word: my body and mind and heart were in motion and my personality was growing, and even my character to some degree.

i highly doubt you or anyone else would dislike the kind of person you'd become if you chose pursuits which eventually led to you experiencing this dream or its essential equivalent. i didn't go to Estonia to improve my fashion sense or learn new stress-relief techniques. perhaps these are the sorts of things we run into when we pursue health and growth in ourselves and in our relationships.



anyways i'm adding your description to my "for answering people who ask me 'why Estonia?'" toolbox.

lastly, this post contains some of the best writing from you that i've read, and most likely is better than a lot of your writing that i haven't read as well. welcs. but mostly thanks, for a post both useful and alluring.