Thursday, May 1, 2014

A tale of two poems

Since I'm so terrible at keeping up a blog, I thought I'd publish something I didn't write.  These are the words of Maya Angelou's that I just discovered today -- yes just today -- and I can't believe I wasn't introduced to this poem sooner in life!  So without further adieu, here is Angelou's poem, "I Still Rise":

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

I love this poem for it's earnestness and honesty.  I love the determination.  I love that the speaker addresses the ambiguous you.  While it's easy to see who she is writing to, I appreciate that it is not spiteful or bitter, but resolute.  The visual is beautiful, and the last three lines show the reader how determined she is to rise above challenges and obstacles.
This poem reminds me of another poem that came well before Angelou published this one, but it also deals with the theme of adversity -- however, the approach is different.  Take a look at Paul Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask".

WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,— 
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while

We wear the mask

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

This poem also deals with racial injustice from a bleaker standpoint.  The tongue-in-cheek frustration is very evident as the narrator doesn't see an end to the adversity that is being faced.  The fact that 'they' (we) feel a need to hide the true self behind a smile tears the narrator up inside.  The narrator is desperate to see a change but doesn't believe it will ever happen.  Yes, far more depressing than "I Will Rise," as Maya Angelou sees the animosity people show her, but sees it as a challenge to rise above.

I wish Maya and Paul could have met and compared notes.  That would have made for an excellent poem.

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 1-2: Weekend Blessings

Far too often God blesses me without me even being aware of it; caught up in my own self-absorbed ways, I find more to complain about than thank God for.

1.  I spent a great deal of my weekend finishing a classroom scrapbook.  I make one every year, (inspired by a friend who also made a scrapbook for her classes), but this year is different.  This year, I have truly grown attached to my students.  Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed my 8th graders the last two years for various reasons.  But this year I haven't had to deal with some of the hurdles of the past years, namely behavior issues.  With that out of the way, it's freed up plenty of time for us to interact more and get to know each other.  We've laughed together, played games together, and teased each other incessantly.  These moments have endeared my students to me.  So as I hurriedly pasted the pictures into the book, I thought back to every moment and thanked God for these children who have filled my life.

2.  Earlier today, I had the bitter-sweet pleasure of attending a tea-party going away party for a friend of mine who I've grown to love here in Bangkok.  She is moving on to Mongolia to continue her missions' work as a consultant.  I admire her passion for people, her adventurous spirit, and her tenacity for social justice -- all qualities I wish I fully possessed.  But God has blessed me with her friendship these last couple years, and I am thankful.  I have so few friends that are outside the ICS community and she is one of them.  While I love my job and the people I work with, I sometimes feel like I might go insane if my entire life in Thailand is tied to my job and the people therein.  So it is a great relief to hang out with people who don't know my students or the unique life an international school affords.  This tea party gave me the respite I so desperately needed.  I was the only ICS teacher in attendance, and furthermore, I only knew two other people, besides the guest of honor.  Ordinarily, I tend to withdraw in groups like this where I don't know people, but this time God gave me a taste of my old social-butterfly ways and I eagerly - if not successfully - navigated small talk for three hours as I made new friends, and chatted up old ones, all without the slightest unease of talking to strangers.

3.  Tied closely to #2, I cannot talk about a going away party without mentioning the guest of honor.  Her name is Natasha (originally from the UK) and she has lived in Thailand for about as long as I have, working with World Vision.  Well, her job is taking her to Mongolia as a consultant after a 3-week holiday back in the UK.  She has truly been a blessing to my life for several reasons:  she adds a fresh/different perspective to my teachery life, she understands the crazy busy lifestyle that happens in Bangkok but is still up for an adventure, and of course, she has a cool accent. ;)  It is bitter sweet to send her off, but I am excited for what she's going to be doing in Mongolia and beyond.

4.  After the tea party, I made my way down the street to my favorite coffee place of all time, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and walked in a completely empty shop.  This was awesome because it meant that I didn't have to wait in a line for soy chai, AND that I had my choice of seats.  Since I had grading to do, I wanted a comfortable chair with a view that adequately distracted me from my papers.  Yes, I'm not the most focused grader in the world.

5.  And what could distract me better than a traditional Indian wedding complete with the groom riding in on a horse, dancing in the streets, and hand-held drums and tambourines.  The sight would have been grander if I could see it better from my window.  Sadly, people kept blocking my view and I was too embarrassed to walk outside to observe the wedding first-hand since I'm not an actual guest.  So all this means is that I need to be invited to an Indian wedding...This was a first for me, but I sure hope it's not my last!

6.  The wedding eventually moved inside and I got through half my stack of papers before I gave up and decided to head out.  It was also 8pm on a Sunday in downtown Bangkok and I wanted to get to bed at a decent hour.  I had to go to Villa and chose the one down the street instead of the regular one I go to in Paradise, and I was blessed greatly for this small choice of venues!  At first I couldn't remember what I wanted to get at Villa, so I wandered through the aisles...and what did I find?  Cinnamon Toast Crunch!  The cereal I had been looking for since Christmas had finally popped up in a random store downtown.  I didn't even care that it was $7.25 -- I bought it on the spot.  But there were more treasures to be found hidden away.  My mom always told me to "look with your eyes; not with your mouth," and after going through the milk aisle twice and about ready to give up, I find one of three lone quarts of Silk vanilla soy milk.  This is the perfect companion to my favorite cereal. :)  On top of these two fantastic things, I came across the Ben & Jerry's freezer and Half Baked was buy one get one free!  Not a hard choice considering one pint alone costs $13.

GOD IS GOOD.  Even when I don't think about needing a 'break', He showers me with blessings in one weekend:  great food, great company, and a great view of a wedding.  Thank you Lord.  I just hope I am able to recognize more of Your blessings for what they truly are. <3 br="">

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dinner with Lissa round 2!

This simple recipe is several weeks old, but probably one of my favorite "new" things to make.  It's also fairly healthy!
Good meat can be hard to find in Thailand at a reasonable price, which is why I've adjusted much of my cooking to exclude beef, chicken, or fish; instead I like eating zesty veggies and carbs of all kinds--unashamedly I might add!

This time, my meal used avocado as the main ingredient:  Avocado-salsa bowls, open-faced egg-avocado sandwich, with tortilla chips on the side.  I got the idea for egg-avocado sandwiches (and simplified it) from here:  Egg and Avocado Sandwiches

1 avocado, medium-large size
1 red tomato, large, diced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/8 cup yellow and red bell pepper, chopped
Cilantro finely chopped (to taste)
1 hard-boiled egg
Paprika (sprinkled to taste)
Bread of choice (I used Spinach sweet bread)
Tortilla chips

Avocado-salsa bowl and open-faced avocado-egg sandwich.
    • Cut avocado in half length-wise and remove the pit
    • Carve a shallow bowl into both sides of the avocado and put the extra avocado in a small bowl
    • Remove the shell of the boiled egg and dice egg before placing with the extra avocado
    • Mash together the avocado with the egg and set aside
    • Combine the tomato, onion, bell peppers, and cilantro in bowl to make the salsa
    • Scoop the salsa into the avocado 'bowls'
    • Place the avocado-egg mixture on bread (optional: toast the bread before putting the avocado-egg mixture on top), and sprinkle paprika on top
    • There you go -- it's time to eat!

    Monday, March 18, 2013

    Dinner with Lissa

    I'm not big on recipes -- I rarely use them and this is the first time I've actually written one -- nonetheless, here's something I made for dinner tonight.  Let me tell you, it was delicious. So without further adieu, here's my Tree-top Chowder:

    1/3-1/2 cup Chicken shredded
    1 cup Broccoli separated
    1 cup Cauliflower separated
    1 can Cream of Broccoli
    2/3 cup Soy milk
    1/2 Onion diced
    3 cloves Garlic finely chopped
    1/8 cup of green, red, and yellow bell pepper each
    1 Potato sliced
    1 tbsp Olive oil

    Salt, Black pepper, Parmesan cheese, and Kraft grated cheese:  garnished to taste

    • Cook chicken thoroughly in medium sized pot then shred into small pieces
    • Add can of Cream of Broccoli and milk to pot with chicken
    • Add half cup of fresh broccoli and cauliflower each
    • Let simmer for 20 minutes
    • In pan, saute garlic and onions in oil, then add potato slices
    • Add remaining broccoli and cauliflower and allow vegetables to saute thoroughly
    • Add chopped bell pepper to simmering chowder in pot
    •  Dish the sauteed vegetables into bowl, add chowder on top
    • Garnish to taste with Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and shredded cheese
    Note the different stages: sauteed veggies, chowder added, garnish added :)
    Easy and delicious!  I didn't actually add salt to the chowder because there was salt already in the cream of broccoli, and I prefer the natural taste of the veggies.  Of course, every measurement is completely optional!  I never pay much attention to measurements in recipes, especially when it comes to veggies, so feel free to use whatever is in the vegetable drawer (but it wouldn't be a Tree-top Chowder without the broccoli and cauliflower!).

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    To write about writing

    Well it's been over a year since writing on this blog.  One long dry season -- unlike where I live in Thailand since it's raining continuously -- but I do have my reasons.  Partly because I have been so ridiculously busy that I haven't had time to record the happenings of the day, partly because I've had a student repeatedly tell me she stalks me and my blog (and thus I feel a bit unsafe about what I post), and partly because I'm pretty sure I'm the only one that reads this blog, aside from my stalker of course.

    Now that I'm done with explaining myself, I'm ready to explore the totally random, and perhaps useless, ramblings that I have become known for.

    Sometimes I think my writing is intricately awesome.  Certainly not now, but when I am in my creative zone, I come up with things that are really book-worthy.  But then other times -- times of character description and dialogue -- I look back on what I've written in the past, and I am dissatisfied.  I feel like I am right on the edge of something amazing, but haven't quite figured out how to make it real.  I want to get into the minds of my characters and make them believable and realistic; however, they haven't quite come to life.   It's ridiculously frustrating knowing that my characters are flat and without much personality.  I stress the importance of having realistic characters to my students, and although I consider myself a seasoned writer, I can not reach the writing level I desire.

    Oddly enough, I find that the times of inspiration come when I am unable to record them -- in the shower, on my way somewhere (school, church, downtown, etc), or just as I'm drifting off to sleep.  When I do have the time to write, I sit idle in front of my computer with the worst case of writer's block.  At this moment of un-inspiration, writer's block is indeed my companion, and I shall dwell in the depths of despair until it is seen fit that I write again the wonders of my imagination.

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    3 Simple Truths Expounded

    God is divine. Divine.

    Today's church service was about 'trinitarian love' (related to the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit), and while I think I may have missed the pastor's major point, ie: how we are shown love by the Holy Trinity, he did cause me to think about a lot of things. The three main things are as follows:

    1. God is too big to understand in full with our tiny little human brains.

    2. Love keeps no record of wrongs.

    3. There's no reason to struggle through life on my own when God is offering me His abundance.

    Basic Christianity, right? Yeah, well no matter how many times I read/hear these truths, it only goes as far as my mind and doesn't make it down to my heart. ("I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Ps 119:11) You see, I know these facts -- I've spouted them numerous times -- but somehow they never clicked in the way they were buzzing through me during church. The pastor had many analogies to go with #1 and #3, but instead I chose to come up with my own way to connect to these points.

    Let me elaborate:
    1. I get discouraged when I think about how little I know about the English language. I'm a native speaker after all, so I shouldn't have any trouble dissecting a sentence and teaching the different parts of speech to non-native speakers. But no -- I am constantly looking up grammar rules in the resource books and stumbling over my words while trying to teach. I kinda feel sorry for my little Asian 8th graders who probably are so confused with how grammar works (since there's always an exception) that they're going to fail miserably at 9th grade English. The problem gets even more confusing when I realized that the English language is constantly evolving -- what would have been proper English 50 years ago is outdated, and subsequently updated to fit our current generation's needs/wants. (I'm going to bypass the subject of proper citations completely since they get updated about as often as iTunes). And then I think about the different parts of English -- writing, reading, speaking, presenting, journalism, the historical background of the English language....the list goes on and on -- and I'm almost ready to quit teaching altogether and admit defeat.

    But then I think about what I do know about English: I can speak with relative confidence, I know how to write in a grammatically correct fashion, and I can comprehend what I read. Then I think about what I love about English (and why I teach it in the first place): I can create anything with my basic knowledge of the English language and can communicate with others this way. I love writing fiction; therefore, creating worlds out of nothing but a blank computer screen or notebook fascinates me. And what little I know and love, I can share with others, and learn what I don't know along the way.

    And so I applied the same idea to Christ -- I can not understand Him fully. No matter how long I try, my mind is incapable of total comprehension of the One who breathed the world into existence. If I could, then would God really be God? Could He really be Incomprehensible, All-Mighty and All-Knowing if I know Him fully? The answer is no. That is why, with tremendous relief, (accompanied by tears), I am able to accept the fact that God is God and I am not. I do not know more than Him. I do not even know a fraction of Him. That's why He will forever remain All-Mighty and All-Knowing. BUT, I will take what I do know about him -- that He is Savior to all who will accept Him unconditionally as such -- and share this awesome fact with others, all the while learning what I don't know along the way.

    2. My pride has taken a beating with this truth. Commonly, this little phrase is repeated with the rest of the passage in the 1 Corinthians love chapter where it states that love is patient, kind, non-envious, non-boastful, not proud (oops!), not rude, not self-seeking, doesn't demand its own way, slow to anger, keeps no record of wrongs, rejoices in truth, always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres, and never fails. (Paraphrased from the NIV passage.)
    This whole summer has been spent talking about "Biblical love" at church, and we covered 1 Cor 13 a lot. But then I thought about a past sermon a few weeks back when they talked about if we truly loved one another (friends and non-friends alike), than we wouldn't remember every time someone wronged us, but instead constantly forgive them regardless of whether or not they asked for forgiveness or even knew they wronged you to begin with. My mind started mulling over this idea when I first heard it, but then I was reminded of this passage today and it finally hit home with no small amount of shame and embarrassment.

    My name is Lissa Scott, and I have been keeping record of wrongs done to me.

    Of all the ridiculous things -- becoming bitter, hurting myself, and becoming so enveloped in me, and how people are inconsiderate toward me. I, who claim to be a child of God, have failed in the one thing He admonished us to do: love. I have even claimed to be a mature Christian of 20 years, and yet one of the most simple of commandments has been the hardest for me to adhere to. I have been self-righteous; I have demanded justice; I have been more sullen this past year than I have in my entire life. My sin caused me to withdraw from others, and I let my sin get in the way of being a witness to others. And I am ashamed.

    This feeds into the 3rd and final truth -- my sin has, as stated above, caused me to struggle more than I've ever struggled. Not gonna lie, my life is fairly easy in Thailand (or at least it could have been if I let it). I don't have to worry about my finances, I have a steady job, and I have a huge opportunity to work in the mission field. Sure, I don't speak the language, making new friends is a challenge, and sometimes I get fed up with the city -- but these are opportunities God has given me to grow as a person. He's promised to never give me more than I can handle, but I must admit that I've handled His challenges poorly. So instead of turning to Him FULLY and letting Him handle what my shortcomings cannot; I fought. I struggled so hard to find some semblance of control in my new life in Bangkok.

    My personality is such that I like control of my life. I need control over at least a part of what is going on around me. I need to know what's ahead, what the game plan is, what's going to happen next. Spontaneity only works if it's my choice. And for some reason, God created me with these innate tendencies. I still don't know why since it's the proverbial thorn in my side, and God and I fight over control constantly, but He put this strong stubborn streak right through the heart of my being. Instead of fighting against this tendency, however, I want to learn to use it to God's advantage (and therefore my advantage) in life. So after recognizing some of my more obvious shortcomings, I'd like to stop struggling against the sin (and against the despondency the knowledge of my sins creates), and find peace and rest in the knowledge that God can handle my life splendidly if I only let Him. There's the rub isn't it? I have to make the conscious choice to allow Him full reign of my life -- including the bumps in the road that I never foresaw. That is what He asks for from all who claim to follow Him. If we are followers, shouldn't we let Christ be our leader?

    Lord, I pray this is just my first step towards allowing you to truly and unconditionally guide my steps -- not only in darkness, but in the light as well.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    The New Happy Pants

    Anyone who knows me from home knows about my 'happy pants'. These pants are my dad's old sweatpants -- XL black, with the old gray and white stripe down the sides -- and they are ridiculously huge on me. I love them. I love them because they make me feel small. I love them because they remind me of my dad. I love them because they make me feel happy in them because I don't care what I look like when I'm in them.
    They're sweatpants. There's no way to look great in them, so I feel completely released from the pressures and feel awesome in them instead.

    Well, since I now live in Bangkok, and sweatpants are not only impractical but bulky, I had to find other happy pants. Happy pants Bangkok style: shorts. Nowhere near Oregon happy pants, you may argue, but they do have elastic bands around the waist and, well, the bottom of the legs. In other words, they're like Aladdin shorts. Pure awesomeness.

    Okay, not the best shot of the shorts, but they are comfortable enough to sleep in. And lounge in. And exercise in. And.....well you get the idea. I could spend days (literally) in my happy pants back home -- especially in the winter time when sweatpants are quite practical. Now that I'm in an extremely humid country, These light, airy shorts are the perfect alternative from the original 'happy pants'. They are the most comfortable things I own -- aside from my full-blown Aladdin pants.

    Don't worry, sweatpants, when I eventually come back to Oregon, you'll be the first thing I wear.

    In case you're wondering, I do smile when I sleep. :)
    Jokes. We had gone to see a French film outside a museum on Valentines Day and I was plum tuckered out by the end of it. My plan had been to get somewhat dressed up for the night; you can see how far that idea went.