Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Chicago Blog is Moving!

Vivacious! That's the word I'd use to describe myself, and while that has nothing to do with this entry, I thought I would say it.

As much I love having a separate blog for happenings in Chicago, it's not very efficient and has fallen by the wayside. Therefore I will be merging blog entries previously intended for this blog into my main blog: Agendo Veritatem

That is all.

Can't stop the signal,

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Lady and Her Manor of Pain (Orange Horse Edition)

A/N: This is a revised and edited version of a story I wrote in high school  that I shared at Orange Horse, but unfortunately the story was "too long" and "too boring" so the last half of it was never read.

Once upon a time there was a young lady who lived in a mansion high on a cliff looking out over a creek. The creek was about a hundred feet below. It was dry without any vegetation growing beside it; as it had been since the builder had started his laboring on the grand house.

The builder, Belfar, was a dark purple colored old creature. Belfar lived in a well that went several feet into the earth. The well was located at the entrance of a wood. Belfar charged 300 gold pieces as a toll to use his road through the wood. Any who refused to pay would have to navigate the wood for themselves and none dared try to trick Belfar by following alongside the road until they were out of sight of the well. No one other than Belfar himself had found safe passage through the wood. Therefore, no one entered the wood.

It was a quiet morning for Belfar morning yet night was scarcely different from his vantage point at the bottom of his well. To his delight he picked up the scent of someone approaching his road, "Who are you? An' what is your purpose?" He called from the depths of his well. Though his voice was laughably weak and raspy, the sound reverberated through the well giving it an eerie tone.

The young man, a messenger, who was approaching the road grabbed at the hilt of his blade and called back, "No one of interest to you, Sir!" Without another word the young man proceeded on his way down the road to the other side of the wood where the pathway led up the cliff. Even from afar the young man could hear the screams and sobs of a woman, the very one whom he was to deliver his message to. The young man began to run up the hill and as he got to the top he took his first glimpse of the mansion.

The windows of this mansion were much too dark to see through, so the young man continued his way toward the house. There was a brown door which aside from the appearance of being a thick and uncomely door was nevertheless a plain wooden door. The messenger gave a loud knock on the door. Instead of an answer, there was the sound of blood curdling screams and vomiting.

In the manor, the young lady walked under nails and sharp glass. The air was so repulsively toxic that every time she inhaled she felt another wave of nausea beginning to set in. Upon hearing the knocking, she limped her way over to the door leaving bloody footprints in her wake. She reached out and grabbed the knob, but just as she did so the knob was revealed to be a series of razor-sharp blades which spun quickly and sliced her hand open. After many moments of repressing her sobs and curses from under her breath she cried out, "I can't open the door... What do you want?"

"I've come to help you," came the reply from outside. The young man knew this was not true, but felt compelled to do something.

"Help? I don’t need your help. I don't deserve help... I can save myself!" Said the young lady as she let out a sarcastic laugh through her dried throat and cracked lips.

"Clearly, as you easily escape from the house with haste and without any assistance. I don't need to see what is happening within to know that you are in pain. If you will permit me, I can build you a new house."

Fear welled up inside of the young lady as she cried, "This is my home... I can't just leave... I-I live here. And I don’t need you to do anything for me… I can take care of myself!"

"So you would rather be in pain?" Asked the young man with a twinge of sorrow in his voice.

There was a long pause between the question and the reply, but when it came there was no personality left in the voice, "I cannot leave... I don't deserve to leave... I live here, this is my house, and I live here..."

Silence ensued as the young man wearily made the long trip down the backside of the cliff towards the entrance of the wood. At the bottom of the cliff he settled down and made camp for the night. He ate, sharpened his blade, and slept to recover his strength. The next day around high noon the young man was visited by Belfar

"You must pay the toll. The fee is not one of choice. Pay me now!"

"I have nothing to pay you with." The young man explained.

"You have seen my house on the top of the cliff?"

"Yes, that is so."

"Then you know of the wretched thing who lives there, whose shrieking keeps one awake for hours innumerable... If you would kill her and live for six years in my house I will consider your debt paid."

The young man quickly drew his sword and directed its point towards Belfar, "Not by my hand, sword, or inaction will I bring harm to her."

Belfar let out a wheezy cackle, "You intend to save her? That beastly mess of a whore is not worth your time. Why do you insist on foolishness? You are but a child, drunk with the delusion of love. Even if you could, do you think she would allow such a rescue?” Letting the question hang in the air, Belfar crawled on all fours back towards his well. “The bitch is a stubborn whore…"

By the time the young man had set out for the mansion again the sun had already begun to take its leave. His heart was hardened against anything that would try to deter him from what he knew he must do. Though his body longed for the warmth of his bed, the pained cries and bone-chilling howls of the young maiden reinforced his will to press forward.

In her manor sleep denied the young lady who loathed and loved her bed of molten lava which continuously burned her alive; always torturing, never finishing. The resting place would leave her skin partly crisp and partly tender while the rest of her wounds remained raw and exposed. Her pillow never stayed in one place for it was composed of rotting flesh and maggots that would gnaw on her open wounds during her sleepless nights.

In the private of her chamber she cursed the day she agreed to let the Belfar creature help her build her house. He had added all the things she didn't like about it, promising to give her the things she wanted, but never keeping his word. All the while she had grown accustomed to her humble abode, even come to love the things she hated the most about it: the vipers in her wash room, the starved wolf in the attic, and the dagger on her nightstand. In keeping with the agreements she had made to Belfar, she ritualistically drove the dagger through her heart each night leaving only scars and watery pools of blood. It was by a dark magic which the mansion kept her candle of life from burning out.

The young man knocked once more upon the hideous brown door. He waited impatiently as the groans of pain echoed louder and louder from within. Tears of deepest sorrow fell down his flat cheeks as he stood there waiting for an answer. What was only minutes in reality seemed like a lifetime and the young man began to tire of his duty to wait for her reply. In despair he turned his head and looked at the road leading back towards the entrance of the wood and was about to make his way there when a weak call interrupted his thoughts of leaving.

"I don't wish to play today, Belfar."

"I am not Belfar."

There was a moment’s pause and then, "What do you want with me? Have you come to use me for amusement like so many of those whom Belfar sends up here?"

"By the King, no, I have come to rescue you from your pain and turmoil!"

"Then you have wasted your time for I am not in pain nor do I need to be rescued. Nobody can rescue me even if they wanted to…"

The young man was taken aback by this response, but he persisted with another tactic, "You’re right... No one can save you… Except yourself… I have a gift that the King has given me and I am to deliver it to you personally."

"A gift? Who would give me a gift and why? Why would anybody waste a gift on me? Do I appear so destitute or deprived that I should need the charitable giving of King wasn’t there. Go back to your King!"

Dejected and brokenhearted, the young man made his way back down the cliff to the place where he had camped the night before. After taking time to sort through his emotions and regain his composure he began to write a letter to the King. The letter was intended to be an account of the rejection of the King's gift.

The next day the young man prepared for a third trip up to the mansion. Belfar caught up with the young man and began to inquire about what his plans were upon reaching the manor. As they traveled, it became clear to the young man that Belfar had a distinctly warped view of the King and a bitter hatred for all things of the King. It was by this time that the messenger had decided not to reveal his real intentions or the gift the King had sent him to deliver.

When the young man came to the door step he noticed his feet were caught in something sticky in some places and others slippery. He wiped a finger across the black wooded front porch and saw that the foul substance in question was in fact blood. His stomach heaved with unbearable disgust and revulsion at the thought of such a place that could inflict so much suffering. The wailing of the young lady came louder than before which prompted the young man to bang on the door forcefully.

"Why have you come?" She growled in a most feral tone.

"I have a gift to deliver to you," The young man said, but this time he added the last part of his orders, "and I have been commanded to destroy this house, but only if you'll come with me. The King has requested to see you. He has prepared a place in his dining hall for you."

"And how, pray tell, am I to leave this house if I cannot open the door? The knob is but an illusion that masks blades of the sharpest kind."

Hope swelled in the young man's chest as he heard these words, bolstered by a direction of the discourse, he answered with some bravado, "Just permit me to and I will break down this door!"

"You may be able to break down this door, but why would anyone want to give me a gift? I have done nothing to merit a gift nor can I remember the last time someone has celebrated the anniversary of my birth."

The young man gritted his teeth in anticipation, "The gift is not something that can be earned, and it is merely an offering by the King's gracious generosity and love for all those who would accept it. That is why he would send it to you."

"I have lived here since I was a naive youth, how can you expect me to leave this place?"

Dumbstruck by question, the young man groaned, "Hear me, just as a bird forces its chicks out of the nest to fly, so must you leave in order to take flight to a place where you can be safe."

Silence lasted for such a great length that the messenger thought perhaps the young lady had left the opposite side of the door or worse. He placed a hand on the door and wished he could see it smashed to pieces with a battering ram. He kept on hand on the hilt of his blade and waited with wishful foresight that he would be allowed to take action against the door.

A shrill scream suddenly shattered the quiet lull, "Break down the door! Break down the door! Please, just break this thing down!"

The young man eagerly obliged the young lady as he set to work against the barrier of wood. Once he had broken through the door he gaped at the woman who weakly stood in a half-haphazard defiance to his presence. Her hair was gnarled and her face haggard showing years of distress, agony, and torment. The young man's heart melted with compassion for the woman whose scars seemed to outnumber the stars. He extended his hand, but she rejected it only to fall into his arms which were quick to catch her. The young man quickly placed her over his shoulder and headed for the road leading down the cliff.

When they reached the base of the cliff the messenger laid the young lady on the grass nearby a fire he was stoking to life. While the she rested, the young man took watch over her, wary of the wood and the evil things he could imagine would dwell in such a dark place. Late in the night the young man let his eyelids fall for only a moment when he was abruptly awakened by the sound of the young lady crying for mercy. In the gleaming firelight he could make out kicking feet and a wrinkled purple arm firmly clasped around the waist of the young lady. In the time it took for the messenger to grab his sword both Belfar and the young lady were gone.

He followed Belfar's trail to the well. Looking around he could only surmise that Belfar had used the well's drawing rope to lower her down to the bottom. When the young man reached the the lowest point he found himself in knee deep water. It was there that he found Belfar and the young lady. Her head was submerged by the strong grasp of those leathery gray hands and withered purple arms. The young man observed as the creature only let her up to remind her how much a worthless failure she was.

Enraged, the young man reached for his sword, and to his dismay realized that he had lost it somewhere between his hot pursuit and the descent into the watery pit of the well. He dropped his pack, making a loud splash as it sunk to the murky bottom. Belfar looked in the direction of the sound and saw that he had been followed as he was expecting. The young man gave out a furious yell as he charged the gangling Belfar.

The two became a tangled mess of purple, gray, and pale white skin. Belfar used his crooked sharp fangs like knives while the young man used his brute strength to make his fists like war hammers. The beating, bashing, gnawing, clawing, kicking, and crunching continued minute after grueling minute without signs of letting up. Then all at once, while both fighters were under the water, several bubbles began appearing and bursting from where the struggle was happening. The young lady drew close to see what had occurred and nearly fell over in surprise as the young man rose from the water. His clothing was torn, skin ripped opened and arms marked with bite marks, and when he tried to move forward he found himself limping to favor his left leg. He looked back at the motionless body of Belfar floating face down.

As the young lady made it to the top of the well and onto the grass, she laid there panting for a breath of air. Every muscle in her body seemed to ache without ceasing and her throbbing head felt as though it might burst. After a time had passed and the night grew still the young lady looked around but did not see the messenger. With some reservation she leaned over the well to peer in, but there was nothing except the haunting darkness. She turned around and looked again to the wood and the other road which came to a tee leading through the wood, still the messenger was nowhere to be seen. Then without warning there was a great weight slamming down on her head and the world suddenly became blurry until it was finally black.

She awoke to the smell of dead and rotting things and knew it was Belfar's breath. He stood looming over her. The young lady tried to push him off of her, but he only slapped her across the face.

"I own you, filthy whore. You dirty, filthy, weak, useless, and ugly bitch." Belfar hissed in disgust as he grabbed at her, "This is all you will ever be good for. You can run, but cannot hide from me."

The familiar words, being assaulted yet again by those clammy hands, and the scent of sulfur on his skin had become such a familiar thing that it came as a shock to the young woman as a sense a deep anger rose within her. For so long she had been numb to the horrible acts Belfar did to her, but for the first time since she had come to accept her punishments the young woman felt indignation. She struggled again this time with a real desire to be free of Belfar and his torment. He was too strong for her and her will to fight was beginning to ebb. The young woman managed to free one hand and blindly reached for a rock, but found something much heavier. She took a deep breath and then swung her newfound sword and knocked Belfar off of her.

She clasped the hilt of the blade with both hands this time and did not wait for her strength to return. The young woman managed to lodge an edge of the blade deep into his neck. As Belfar stumbled to the ground he gave out a pitiful whimper and was devoured by a swarm of giant insect that seemed to come from nowhere. The young lady shakily walked to the road away from the well. She didn't care which way she was going as long as it meant she was getting further and further away from Belfar's lair. After only a mile or so she collapsed from exhaustion.

Time became a relative thing as night turned to day. In the distance the young lady could hear hooves, although she thought it was merely a dream. She did not want to open her eyes for fear she would wake to find herself a prisoner in the mansion. She did not want to imagine that the horses in the distance could be men looking for a quick and easy thrill and that all she had experienced the night before was merely the lucid dreams of woman trapped in her own personal hell.

"There!" Came a gruff voice and with it the sound of horses quickening, their pace drawing nearer still. They came to halt and one rider dismounted. The same gruff voice barked again, "My lord, how can we be sure it is her? She could be just another prostitute left for-"

"Silence your tongue, Lieutenant! Do you think that a man would easily forget his own daughter's face? No scar, no amount of years could cover up the beauty my child possesses." There was a moment of silence and then a soft warm voice whispered in the young woman's ear, "I have searched far and wide for you, little one. I don't care where you've been, what you've done, or how you feel about me. I just want you to come home. I love you, my beloved child."

The young woman could barely manage to see through her tears as she choked out a response, "Papa!"

Monday, March 7, 2011

What A Day!

Saturday was possibly one of the best days of my life. Of course, you are probably wondering just why I'd make such a claim. To understand this, you must first understand that for the past month I have been in a very dark place. I was so gloomy that I literally didn't know whether I'd make it through the semester feeling the way I felt. I was struggling with feelings of isolation and constantly on edge, without a positive release. I just wanted to explode.

That's when my friends came. I met them at Union Station and from there our journey was nothing short of incredible. Of course, if I were to give you a play-by-play, you'd probably think there was nothing significant about it. The fact of the matter was that my heart almost exploded inside my chest, I froze my butt off, nearly dislocated my shoulder carrying one of my friends' bags, ate way too much pizza, nearly fell asleep sitting up at their hotel, got a fever and migraine at the worst possible moment, and ultimately pushed my body so hard that it was about to break down. So how could all that horrible stuff have occurred on the same day that was the one of, if not the best day of my life thus far?

Because my friends were there. It was suddenly like a huge fog had lifted and I could see, think, hear, smell, and taste clearly again. Everything confusing in the world made sense to me again. It was like the perspective I had lost was coming back to me and nothing that I was stressing about up to that point seemed to matter. The only thing bad that happened was that I had to say goodbye. I didn't want to do it, but I knew I had to. I was so exhausted that I knew my body would start to fail me sooner than later, then I'd be in real trouble and I'd be screwed. When I hugged them each in parting, I didn't want to let go, and in truth I feel like a piece of me is with them even now. I think that I left a little piece of my heart in each of theirs so that I can be with them wherever I go, and wherever they are; I can be there too.

Have I become a complete cliche and a sap yet? Yes? Oh well... I can't help how I feel at this point. I'm still on Cloud Nine, there's still a silver lining, and the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter than ever.

Can't stop the signal,

Monday, January 31, 2011

*sniffle, sniffle, cough, cough, sneeze!*

Well, Shimer College has passed the great plague-like cold onto me and I got it back. I've been sick since Thursday of last week, but even before that I was feeling the pain of an awful sore throat creeping up on me. Class has not been the same while sick, as my body feels constantly worn down, I struggle to stay awake. Getting my homework done is a real pain as well, since I have very little motivation to get it done when feeling the way I do. I seriously want to curl up into a ball, fall asleep, and not wake up until my body has recovered from this cold. I've had colds before, but this one is particularly nasty and vengeful. I start to feel better by the end of the day, go to sleep, and wake up feeling absolutely horrible. I've started a vitamin regimen and I may go to an herbalist to get a special herb that has helped other Shimerians with their colds.

For one of my classes we were supposed to read Books I-V in The Odyssey. One of my buddies who lives in the apartment across the way from me hosted a reading party, where everyone who wanted to could come and we would take turns reading out loud until we got through Book V. I had every intention of doing this when I laid down for a nap at 17:00 with my alarm set to go off at 19:00. I awoke and it was 22:40 and my heart sank. With my sleep disorder, having off-set my sleep by such a dramatic change in sleep pattern, I will now have to stay up all night and all day tomorrow in order to put myself back on track. This is not going to be good since I need to be trying to recover from this cold.

Anyways, over the past weekend there was another rally, but this time it was against the Egyptian tyrant who has been holding his people hostage for some time, but now he has the whole world looking at him. I did not attend this rally because I still had a bad taste in my mouth from the last one. I was afraid that by going out there and rallying I'd end up endorsing political parties and activists who believe in the very opposite things I do. Hindsight being 20/20, I probably could have gone without feeling like I was endorsing something I didn't believe, but I was busy writing my essay for Hum. 2. It felt so good to have gotten that done on Saturday instead of waiting until midnight on Sunday/Monday to start it like many other Shimerians did.

Tomorrow I will not have power, heat, or water in my room. Maintenance is doing some kind of overhaul that will require everything to be shut off for the majority of the day. I plan to avoid my room like the plague. Coincidentally, there is supposed to be ice skating tomorrow for Community Tuesday, but I'm not going if there is because the last thing I want to do is get all wet and cold and have to return to my freezing room.

Can't stop the signal,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Marked Man

I can't believe another week has already passed since my last post. Unfortunately, I do not have time to write all the details of this week. I am happy to report that I found a community people of who share my adoration and love for My Lover. I had seen a sign that advertised for this group, and I'm skeptical of a lot of campus groups because they tend to either be really good or really half-baked; My Lover has a lot of half-baked fan groups. This group was the real deal though, and I'm couldn't be more elated to have found this community.

Unfortunately I have some less than stellar news to report on. Today I participated in a nation-wide rally against the Grand Jury and FBI oppression of peace activists as a group from Shimer College. The majority of the crowd consisted of socialists, Marxists, Stalinists, and other political fanatics with whom I don't resonate; I just know that silencing the voices of those who advocate for peace is gross injustice on the part of country that claims to uphold the freedom of speech. I made a sign for the rally that said, "Have you read your Bible lately?" and quoted Matthew 26:52 which basically is from Jesus and says something to effect of, "If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword." Politicians who play to the fundamentalist right-wing call this nation a Christian nation, and therefore if they are aligning themselves with the Christians, then they need to re-read their Bibles before sending our men and women out to kill and occupy the people of foreign lands.

After we got back to campus, we made a bee-line for the cafeteria, but as we were walking through the main building towards the dinner line a couple of Army ROTC service members scoffed at us upon reading our signs and said, "F-ing hippies". I immediately turned around and said to the one who spoke and said, "Hey, I'm no f-ing hippy!" He responded by insisting that I was a hippy, and the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "Well, God bless you!" I was angry at them because they're signed up to defend my right to speak out against the war, yet they're criticizing me for exercising the right they defend? Why are they defending it if they don't believe I should speak it? Sure, criticizing my views does not necessarily equate to believing that I shouldn't exercise my right, but it's pretty darn close to that. This service member wasn't even criticizing my beliefs, he was simply judging me based on the signs my buddy and I were carrying.

I know I don't need to get so riled up about it, and My Lover said that I should just rest in Him and be at peace. That's really all I can do. I can whine and complain about a lot of things that are wrong in the world. I could turn this blog into my personal soap box about the woes befalling America, but that won't really do much good. I can only have faith in My Lover who continues to work in the name of love and spreading it everywhere He goes. I hope that as I learn the methodology of My Lover, I too can spread that same love to everyone I meet and exude love with everything I do.

Can't stop the signal,

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The First Week

What can I say about this week? It's been interesting and seemed a heck of a lot longer than one week. Amazingly, considering that I only had one day of full classes, I feel as though I've been here for some time now. That could be in part due to the fact that many times we have these deep discussions outside of class, often times in our rooms, that could easily be discussions that might take place in the classroom if we were all in the same classes together.

Image found: National Geographic, photographed by James L. Stanfield.

I think sometimes I feel like this boy here, especially when you know that your friends are all hanging out and doing stuff and you're stuck reading Plato's The Republic. The thing about Shimer College that most people will not believe until they're actually a student is just how close-knit this community is. I mean, seriously people around here would give the shirt off their back for a fellow Shimerian if they thought it would benefit that person. Even though I'm a brand new student and there are still some people who don't know who I am, there's such a spirit of generosity that's been extended to me that I am practically dumbstruck. Most of my Shimerian classmates attribute this type of generosity to a communistic ideal of sharing, "property is theft"- type of thinking, but in reality is more of economics of love. When we think less about what we want, and more about what someone else needs, then the result is a line of thinking that gets away from, "my stuff, your stuff" and more "I have, you need, therefore you take." Yeah, it sounds like communism, but it isn't because it doesn't need a governing body to take in the excess and then redistribute it to the needy; we do it ourselves.

In other news, I've been talking to My Lover about some various things. You know the feeling you get when you have to tell someone you love something that's going to hurt them? Yeah, well, I had to do that. Frankly, I had so much pent up emotion from the past four or five months that it had to come out in one way or another, but it came out in all the wrong ways and I found myself doing everything that My Lover hates. It's not really all that important what I did, because it boils down to me going back to my old selfish ways. The amazing and not entirely understandable thing is that My Lover forgave quicker than the snap of a finger. My Lover has always been quick to forgive, and I don't understand why after all the things I put Him through; yet it would be worse not to accept His unfailing love for me when it is offered so freely.

And now it is time for me to finish. I have a job at the Student Life Center, a central hub for students to get their work done with resources such as computers and printers as well as chairs, tables, and sofas. My job is to keep the place open until midnight to allow students use of the floor. Fortunately, there isn't a whole lot to do so I will have plenty of time to do some serious reading and possibly get all my homework done.

Can't stop the signal,

Monday, January 10, 2011

Arrival in Chicago

Some of you have been through the college routine and you know what it's like to have to get all the issues resolved with housing, ID, finding where to go, and all that jazz; this entry is not exactly for you. You may enjoy it just to laugh at my suffering and/or remember your own.

We, that is my parents and I, got here in the early afternoon. We figured out pretty quickly that my welcome package was somewhat lacking. I didn't have a student ID so I had to use a half sheet of paper that basically said I had a legitimate reason to be in the resident hall. The problem? I didn't have that half sheet in my welcome package, so I was working with a desk assistant whose card did not work with the elevator and therefore we had to get her supervisor to help me out. She used her card to get my stuff upstairs to the 5th floor. We unpacked and I got my half sheet. We then made a trip out to Wal-Mart and Aldi's to get some things that we had forgotten as well as groceries that would have gotten crushed or spoiled in the car ride. Let me tell, you have not seen a busy Wal-Mart until you've been to a Super Wal-Mart in Chicago on a Sunday afternoon. It was an absolute zoo and I was so worn out by the end of that shopping spree that I wanted to cry.

When we got back it was a little smoother since we had less to unpack. After getting the groceries put away and all that wonderful stuff, my dad and I sat down and watched a little of The Fugitive on the TV. My building has a really nice cable package that includes several channels known for playing Star Trek episodes, which is always a win. After things were unpacked, my parents and I said our farewells and I made a list of things I need to take care of soon here. I watched a half an hour of Star Trek: Nemesis and felt so tired that I just went to bed.

Today I got my ID card, my Internet (obviously), and put in some work request orders for my phone line activation and heating issues (way too hot in my room.) Next few things I need to do are go get my laundry done and find my mailbox key at the Post Office. It's been a productive day thus far, let's hope it doesn't stop there.

Can't stop the signal,