Culture, Criticism, and Community

Culture, Criticism, and Community

My tank is full.

I’ve spent the last three or so days back at my alma mater, Dordt College, filling my head with information and conversation and my heart with seeing good friends again. This weekend was just what I needed in the middle of a long semester of writing craft analyses and reading and writing and contact only through Skype and message boards. I miss the classroom, some days more than others, but not having that every-day engagement and conversation has left an empty space. I’m grateful for the ability to continue on with my education without having to upend my family’s normal, but sometimes electronic communication doesn’t hold a candle to the experience of in-person communal learning. I’m not about to change my plans, but it’s something I didn’t quite expect, this sense of distance and disconnect I’ve been feeling a little bit lately. It’s been remedied by some outside-of-class contact with my classmates via Facebook and email, but it’s still… well, just not the same. And that’s as it should be, I think.

The two youngers (who are also doing their schooling from home now) are sort of feeling similarly, but we’ve joined a local homeschooling group, which has helped the isolation a bit, and Amaryah’s been active on the school’s online student center message boards, making some new friends there. I think we’re all glad to be at home, all glad that we can even do this together (grateful for cocoa and coffee available on demand in the kitchen while we study), glad for the time that we’ve all spent on the road getting to school and back returned to our own use, glad for not having to deal with forgetting papers and misunderstandings, glad for the slower pace and the grace of home, but I’m reminded of the importance of intentionally engaging community after this weekend.

So, exactly what did I do this weekend? It took me a bit to catch on to what this whole thing was about. When I read about it at first, months ago, all I had to do was read “Dordt… conference… English department… student discount…” and I was running for the calendar. But I wasn’t entirely sure what it was about until I got a copy of the schedule and actually arrived. I might be reducing the scope a bit, but the sessions and lectures revolved around literary and cultural criticism from a Christian standpoint. How’s that for an abstract concept? So, what does that mean in plain English? It means we spent the weekend engaging with people in the profession of writing, teaching, and making films, music, and art, listening to how they, as people of faith, did what they did in light of being faithful followers of Christ, artists, educators, and writers of excellence, and people in a world and culture(s) impacted by the far-reaching influence of sin and corruption in the world. How do we as makers remain faithful to making good art that honors Christ and challenges our readers and viewers? How do we as readers and viewers discern what is good, powerful art that’s worth our time? How do we faithfully engage issues like underrepresented and oppressed groups (People of Color, other cultures, minority genders, other sexual orientations) in what we consume and create? It was also just a great time of getting together with My People –old friends, former professors, and other reading/writing/art-making people.

So, while I’m exhausted (introvert hangover… it’s a Real Thing), my heart and my tank is full, and I’m ready to tackle the next few weeks of the semester challenged, and reminded of just why I write, beside the plain fact that I do it because I simply can’t NOT write. It’s good to be reminded that there are people who are passionate about this vocation of words and images and story, and it’s just my favorite thing in the whole world to see people doing what they were made to do. That was my favorite part of the weekend, being around people in relentless, joyful pursuit of feeling God’s pleasure in the work they do, whether they were students, educators, writers, or creators. Is there really anything that’s better than that?

A letter, to my friends about to return to college

A letter, to my friends about to return to college

It’s starting to look a lot like late August. The cicadas are humming again, the late-summer sun has that intensity that only happens this time of the year, and –though I could’ve been just imagining it– I happened to catch a tree on my drive yesterday just about to glow itself from green to yellow.

And, for the first time in a couple years, I’m not prepping my car for five-day-a-week long drives, loading my backpack for another semester of studies, buying books for another year. I’m missing the rise of energy inside that always comes this time of the year.

I’m done.

Kind of hard to believe –I mean, yes, I’m still doing grad school, but this year I’ll be studying from home. Granted, I’ve been a card-carrying (mortgage-holding, tax-paying) citizen of the Real World for twenty five years now, so the transition back home shouldn’t be this hard …but it is. So, since I can’t go back, I thought I’d send my greetings and wish you a great year and, true to my character, give you a few things to think about.

If you’ve been through this “going back to college” ritual a few times, you know how it goes. By mid-October, all the magic will have worn off and it’ll be back to the hard work of the every day student. You’ll have adjusted to a new living situation, gotten settled, and you might feel tempted to start to let the days slide into each other.

Don’t.

Whether it’s your first year or your fourth (or more), when your feet hit the floor in the morning, try something different this year: greet the Lord, take a deep breath, and place the next twenty-four hours in His hands. Do it whether it feels silly or not. Because these four years are going to be some of the fastest years of your life. Yes, it’s hard, yes, it’s sometimes amazingly so full of joy you feel like your body can’t contain it, sometimes it’s so full of sorrow you aren’t sure how you manage to breathe –but it goes so fast.

For the last two years, after sending my kids off to school and kissing my husband goodbye, I’ve started my days with a long drive in to school praying over the day ahead, parking my car outside the classroom building –the “old door,” you know if you know campus, the one opposite the President’s house–  walked down the path under the crabapple tree, wrapped my hand around that old broad-shouldered brass handle, pulled the door open, and breathed a silent prayer every morning, paraphrased from Psalm 19:14 –

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight.

I believe that little ritual saved my life a few times. It definitely eased a few difficult days and made me more aware that in every moment, He is present, and the things that seem insurmountable can be taken one moment at a time more easily when you realize this story you’re living isn’t written by yourself.

So, off you go. Have a wonderful year. Know that you are not alone, that the work you do every day matters, whether you “use” that major you’re working on or not. The things you learn here will travel with you through your entire life.

Don’t waste a moment of it. Know that you are loved far beyond the reaches of your fear, and let your voice echo beyond the four years you’re at this place.

 

centrifugal force: a story in two parts

centrifugal force: a story in two parts

 

(part 1: written sometime around 5/6/17)

My life in a lot of ways flows like a stream. Mostly, time has flowed along, with the occasional period of rockiness and white water, the stretches where the water flows with such stillness and clarity that you have to look closely to believe it’s really moving at all.

But it’s the eddies that have caught my attention lately.

By eddies, I mean the times life has circled back to a place I’ve been before. I’ve had probably more of those experiences than the average person.

The eddy I’m thinking about mostly now, though, is the one that circled back around in December two years ago. I left college in 1993 for a number of reasons, some of which were a lot more complicated and painful than I realized. It took writing and fine-tuning a difficult essay and making it through this past semester to bring that truth to the surface.

I’ve always viewed this pattern of returning as a gift. It’s a second chance, another opportunity to gather and add to the memories. It goes beyond nostalgia, though. Nostalgia stays in one place, holds the memories frozen in time. I’ve never really understood the attraction. The memories I’ve encountered in my two years back have been overlaid and intertwined with new ones. It’s more like I’m picking up where I left off this time, finishing something left undone. In a sense, Des Moines was somewhat like that.

But this is different.

What is different about it has been occupying my thoughts for the past couple months. My time is about up here. I graduate in May, and I don’t want to leave anything undone. But, yet, I have to be done. I suppose that’s the difficult thing here. I’ve

[This is where I was going to go into how I wasn’t going to continue on with my education… but I stopped writing, for whatever reason.]

(part two: 5/19/17)

But –a lot can happen in a few weeks.

Monday afternoon, I was sitting in the stands at my kids’ track meet –the same track meet, I was thinking to myself, where, between my kids’ events, I mentally wrote a risk-taking revision to a piece that was already bordering on dangerously vulnerable. I took the risk, partly because that hour or so spent at the track meet left me with little over an hour to revise that piece, which I was to read in public that evening. (No pressure.)

And the risk proved a good one, by the reaction of those who had also read the previous, struggling version I’d submitted for workshop the morning before. It may have saved the story, actually.

This year brought another unexpected confrontation with the risk monster. While musing on that memory, I pulled out my phone to check for messages, and found an email from the MFA program I’d been accepted to. Apparently, it seemed, they were still expecting me. Sigh. No big deal, I thought, I’ll call them tomorrow morning and set them straight.

And then, another email. “There was a mistake,” the email said, “we had you in the fiction concentration. That’s been fixed: your new class code is [some number code] with [the prof I would have hand-picked, given the chance].”

My heart about stopped. Suddenly, the whole reason I even decided to take the step to pursue the MFA came together, like my entire educational life flashing before my phone screen. The whole reason, you see, wasn’t to add another three letters (expensive letters, mind you) to my name. It wasn’t to prove I could do it. I wanted to do it so I could use it beyond myself. I wanted to experience writing in community, to be pushed to write something that would make contact with a reader. I wanted the option of teaching in higher ed myself someday.

Sam and I have had a running near-joke for a while that it would be a fun endeavor to find a Native-focused college somewhere –maybe Sinte Gleska or Red Cloud– and teach together. What more exciting thing could there be than to be in a classroom with young people brought up in a world that treasures story and storytelling, and to help them find their own voices, to give them the tools to better tell their own?

I don’t want to give too much away here, but the prof/mentor they had me set up with, I believe, is someone who could uniquely relate to that desire. This had to be God showing off again. Suddenly this whole MFA thing was, again, bigger than my own desire to do it. In two days, a lot of prayer, and a lot of counsel, I decided that there is no real reason beyond fear to postpone pursuing getting my MFA.

The program I’m admitted to, at Augsburg College (soon to be Augsburg University in September) in Minneapolis is a “low-residency” program, meaning I’ll do most of it via online and email correspondence with my mentor(s), and a ten-day summer residency each year. The other amazingly rare thing about this program? They offer a concentration in teaching alongside the main program, something few low-res programs do. This would better equip me to be able to teach at the college level once I finish –a job possibility, as well as a ministry opportunity. And I won’t have to commute further than my own desk, except for the yearly residency. I can be home with my family while I write and read my way through this next adventure.

So, there you have it.

Moral of the story: track meets can be dangerous. Or, maybe better, God is still working beyond my own stubborn resistance and fear.

This is where I should tie in the “centrifugal force” title to the second part. I don’t know… a track is a circle, right? I suppose in a way, I was led back around to the question that put me on the road back to Dordt: what is it that God desires, what do I desire, and is there anywhere that those two things intersect?

 

six impossible things before breakfast (or graduation -another journal entry)

six impossible things before breakfast (or graduation -another journal entry)

It’s been building for about six months now, this feeling like I just need a good, dambreaking cry. I’ve been on the verge now, a little closer a few times, where my eyes well, but everything stays there, right on the edge.

Happened again the other afternoon, as I was wandering through the campus center. Someone serendipitously managed to schedule too many things at once in the music building, so chorale was forced to practice in the campus center. I wandered over with a few others, and took a seat in the loft overlooking the stage area. And I took a couple minutes, watching the students below, imagining/remembering my own treasured time in chorale.

Though I’d originally not even planned on auditioning, music was part of how I got through, back then. I remember one tough day, receiving some gut-punching news (to me, anyway) over lunch in the commons, going back to my room in West Hall for a good cry, and pulling myself up, taking a deep breath, and heading to chorale practice, where I sang out the rest of my sorrows. I left practice that day feeling healed, and stronger.

And so, I listened the other day, with those memories streaming through my mind. One piece they were practicing centered on Galatians 6:9: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest of we do not give up.”

Lord knows, I’ve seen plenty of weary days along this journey. Many, many days full to the brim of joy, of gratitude, of being constantly aware of just how unreasonably good God is to me. But there have been days of weariness, days I feel like Robert Francis Weatherbee, days I feel invisible and unnoticed and all I so desperately want is for someone to pull me aside and tell me that they see and they know how hard this is sometimes. But it doesn’t happen most days, and so, I go on. I do the next thing.

And now, the harvest looks pretty ripe from where I stand. Twenty-six years after I began, I will walk the stage in the graduation gown that now hangs in my closet –the same stage on which I once sang gowned in a dress two sizes too big, in a hideous shade of baby blue taffeta, hemmed up five inches, taken in nearly as much, and literally taped to my chest to conceal my poor tailoring skills, because Dutch girls don’t come in 5’2″ bodies. I’ve survived heartbreak, disillusionment with a dream, depression, recovered, and lived to write about it. I’ve changed my major, found a husband, and found my calling. I’ve made lifelong friends and mentors whose companionship and encouragement I’ll treasure even beyond this experience. I have had not just one, but several of my pieces published. I’ve had a review in an academic journal, several pieces published online, and another piece due to appear in a print magazine this month. People have read my work and told me not only that they enjoy reading it, but that it’s been used of God to do His work. What more could I ask?

It was an impossible dream two and a half years ago, that December I first considered going back for real. But the itch to finish wouldn’t go away, and I heard that voice again, that voice I assumed was God, telling me that I would have what I need when I needed it. And now, I come to the finish line. A twenty-six year journey, written with more turns and changes and surprises than I could have ever imagined, but, as always, I see more clearly how I love His stories the best. They have the best endings.

Granted, it’s only one impossible walk I’ll do on the morning of May 5, but it’s made of far more than six impossible things, believed in faith that certainly didn’t come from myself and made reality by strength and passion beyond my own.

The trees are greening, my lawn needs mowing, and the next page turn in my planner lands in May already –one more week and a few days to draw all the marrow out of this experience, breathe it in deep and take it with me for the next turn on the road. I think I’m slowly becoming okay with this. Slowly.

Thoughts on the End of La La Land

Thoughts on the End of La La Land

SPOILERS. BIG TIME. (duh). You have been warned…

Since my friend Marta gave pretty much the expert review of the first part of the movie (enough that her enthusiasm convinced me to see it), I thought I’d process my thoughts about the end of the movie. –Unfortunately, I’ve only seen it once, so there might be missing pieces and slight flying leaps of logic. Forgiveness requested in advance.

I’d been forewarned that some don’t care for the end of this movie. Lately, however, …well, that means I’ll like it. Of course, there was that unfortunate ending of The Remains of the Day, where a female friend and I who watched it were ready to find Izikuro whats-his-name and run him out on a rail. Worst. Movie. Ending. Ever. I was enraged. How dare you drag us through two full hours of a beautiful near-miss sentimental build up only to give Captain Responsible the Workaholic Butler Who Obviously Loves Her a second chance with the woman he obviously can’t stop thinking about even after years, and just walk away and let the whole story fall apart like that?!? As though we wouldn’t notice!

…But I digress.

With this movie and its not-your-average-happy-ending, however, I’ve kind of changed. I think the ending of this movie, however anti-usual-happy-ending it was, was beautiful. Let me explain why I think that.

I’m a survivor of my twenties. I know about that electric rush of emotion and energy and power that gets you through those years. It’s heady stuff, being in your twenties. I love being surrounded by students who are living their way through those days –all the peaks and valleys propelled like you’ve been shot out of a cannon in the vague direction of your dreams.

…But I’ve also survived my twenties. I know that explosions have two properties: they’re nearly always somewhat destructive, and once they’re done, …they’re done. I watched that happen to myself and my own friends. There comes a day when the sun comes up and you suddenly realize maybe you can’t save the world, but you can be where you are and make the best difference you can in your own little world. You realize that dreams are shape-shifters. Dreams are a living idea –they grow and change, and accepting that fact doesn’t mean you’ve sold out or given in. It means you’ve grown into the person you’re meant to be. Some of the saddest people I’ve known are people who took longer than the average bear to figure that out.

By the first fight scene, I knew they weren’t going to make it. I kept wanting to shove Mia back into that kitchen with Sebastian, and not walk out the door. I kept wanting him to run after her. But he didn’t. You can tell a lot about a couple by how they fight, I think. And something about that scene gave me the final clue that they weren’t going to make it happen.

But, they had exactly what they needed for a beautiful friendship. Like all great friendships, they had something in common, and they had a deep and rich knowledge of each other. They knew when to ask “why?” and when to point out a compromise. Mia knew how to balance Sebastian’s dreams when he was on the edge of throwing it all aside for stability –for her, and I think somewhere inside her, she knew that she alone couldn’t make him happy. That, I think, is where I knew that the romance, however amazing and colorful and wonderful, wouldn’t sustain the story (hint: in real life, it rarely does, either).

Love is what sustains the story: and not just romantic love, either. I was struck throughout the movie of the incredible gift it is to have people who know you well and with whom you can mutually cheer each other on towards the things you are passionate about. This was the strength of Mia and Sebastian’s relationship –even beyond romance. It’s all in that scene where Sebastian drives all the way back to her home to get her and bring her to that audition, that scene where she’s so deeply discouraged that hope is a foreign language to her. Sebastian translates for her, not letting her believe the lies she’s told herself. And she finally understands again. There’s no dancing, no singing, no Hollywood romance in that scene, but for me, that’s where I see their love most clearly and purely.

Every girl with a dream needs a few good friends who are advocates for her dreams. Over my life, I’ve been blessed with three that come to mind right away. I’m married to my favorite of the three, but the other two have been there at just the right times with just the right words (even difficult ones, when necessary) to keep that passion inside me alive.

They’ve been a windblock, kindling, a boundary of stones to keep things under control, even gasoline at times. Catalysts to the work God has done in my life, they’ve kept me doing hard things, kept me believing that God put me here to do something only I could do, kept me from walking away from my dreams.

And, so, that “five years later” scene, where Mia walks into her home, greets her children, and kisses a man who’s not Sebastian (there was an audible expression of disappointment in the theater) came as no surprise to me. Because I’ve survived my twenties. I know life is like that sometimes. And sometimes, what seems to be the happy ending winds up being anything but that in the long view.

I, too, held my breath a little during that flashback/dreamscape scene after Sebastian and Mia meet again and he sets his hands to the keys, playing the song that they sang together. But the outcome was exactly as I assumed it would be. We’re carried through their backstory, the angst of dreams that died, the pain left of unfulfilled plans, the questioning –-this was the dream, now was it really what I wanted after all? We can see that question in both Mia and Sebastian’s faces in that scene as Mia walks out and their eyes meet.

I kept waiting, but I knew she would leave. It was the right thing to do. It was the only thing to do. I’m not being callous here –I’m speaking from the perspective of a married woman: sometimes the most profoundly powerful act of love is letting your feet lead you back home when your heart wants to stay somewhere else. Mia’s deciding to leave with her husband, in my eyes, was an act of incredible of courage and strength, and something I’d like more in stories.

I finally got what I was watching for: that smile. The smile that had to have started in her heart when she walked in and saw that sign, watched Sebastian’s dreams realized. That, for me, was what the story was about.

Happy endings come in all kinds of packages. Some just take a little time and pain to unwind.

revising the future

revising the future

As a non-traditional student at the school where I started (but abandoned) my college education twenty-five years ago, I have more than my share of bizarre moments of misplaced memories. It’s like a warped sense of deja vu sometimes.

Take, for instance, a sudden realization that threatened to derail my entire train of thought for a good five minutes: the exact spot in the library where I’m now taking a poetry class is the place I stumbled upon Sylvia Plath’s poem, “Mad Girl’s Love Song” twenty some years ago. Exact same place that changed my perspective on writing as a tool for finding that we’re not alone in the world. Exact place that launched an essay I wound up writing –an essay that, incidentally, returned to me yesterday, rejected by the first place I sent it. Someone once said that having a child was like having your heart walking around outside your body. Maybe it’s a shade melodramatic, but sending that piece out felt a little like the same sort of thing. All I’ve ever grown is scar tissue, not a thicker skin (resilience), so I’m finding the learning curve for this sort of thing a bit rough at times. But I digress. The room.

If I didn’t see God as ultimately Divine Author, I’d have dismissed it as irony. Instead, I see it as God writing one of those little details into my story that, had I not been paying attention, would have been missed.

And one of the things called to my attention in this gathering of full-circle epiphanic moments is that I don’t think I ever really mourned the death of my old dreams. I had moments, like the trip with friends late in my freshman year (after I realized I would never be a teacher) to Northwestern’s chapel, at that point, only a year or two old. It’s a beautiful place. I remember lying on a pew, staring up at the rafters and pillars and high ceilings and wondering where I’d wind up after I was done -architecture was one passing interest. I could use art and science practically. It was stuff-oriented, not people-oriented. I could handle that. That night, I picked up my broken image of the future and started seeing hope. A year later, I left college altogether, and started over. I became a graphic artist, a respectable profession. But I never mourned the losses.

And so, it threw me off for a bit, this deep sense of pain I felt when I asked myself, what if I hadn’t given it all up? What if I’d soldiered on, kept those dreams, become a teacher and finished school when I was scheduled to? It’s the what-ifs that are getting me down lately.  Did I give up too quickly? Does the fact that I’m sitting in a class geared for students entering the workforce and the non-student world, this world I’ve navigated for two decades –with students young enough to be my children– does this all mean I’ve failed?

You’re not supposed to be unmoored, directionless, confused when you’re graduating college at nearly 44 years old. But that’s where I’m finding myself. People ask me if I’m excited to graduate and all I can honestly muster is a shrug and a grimace. Because I know that the risk lies on the other side. I lost a dream once, and I’m so very afraid of losing another one. I used to be driven, hellbent on making my own path, until the path fell apart at my feet. I confused calling for gift –I had intended to present myself as a teacher to God, to do great things with the lives of young people, teaching them to see and recreate the visual beauty around them. I had intended to sacrifice marriage, family, the dreams of the typical American for this. And instead, God sent me Ed 101, a job as a graphic artist, and a husband.

And it was good. But it took me a while to grow into it. And then, God gave me a new vision with this writing thing. A late-life entry into a new dream. Somewhere between a mid-life crisis and the face palm after a thousand clues I never caught. Of course. And now I get it. The gift was not mine to give. It was always God’s. All He ever wanted was for me to follow, to listen. Right now, the gift is a second chance.

This is where the tension between my understanding of the sovereignty of God, his authority, his authorship of my life and the path my own feet take me gets difficult to understand. The place I’ve landed in the tension is the understanding that there’s nothing I can screw up so badly that God can’t make it into something beautiful. And I see that, in the little things, like putting my poetry class in a place I sort of see as holy ground. It’s a reminder -he spares no detail in reminding me that I am His beloved.

I plan differently now as a grown woman than I did as a twenty-year-old young woman. Instead of being my own cartographer, I go out my door every morning, and I look for manna. Manna -gathered daily, never kept over for another day (excepting the day before the Sabbath), never striven for, always provided. And, like the Israelites, I ask every morning as I pull out of my driveway and head south back to class, “What is it today, Lord? What is it?”

 

Just another January Thursday morning at the local Shrine to Avarice.

Just another January Thursday morning at the local Shrine to Avarice.
I spent part of the morning at the mall. I went to pick up a new phone to replace my glitchy old one, and now Siri and I are on speaking terms again. I figured it was a good opportunity to get some walking in, partly to make the trip worth the drive –there was nothing else I needed from the mall.

The mall on a January weekday morning is a strange place –quiet, almost, except for the music, which I could probably use as a running soundtrack. Gone are the days of instrumental easy-listening Muzak. It’s all contemporary EDM and pop; I suppose to heighten your sense of urgency and make it a higher-class atmosphere, as though being good enough to enter their store is something you should aspire to. Something you don’t quite deserve, but you could, if you had better clothes.

It’s kind of a “Mean Girls” flashback for me, being at the mall, wandering around in an old college sweatshirt, jeans, and my running shoes. I saw through the ruse of “You Need This Thing to Be Your Best Self” at an early age, not because I was mature for my age, but because our family didn’t have that kind of money. If you can’t join ’em, judge ’em. But if I’d have had a couple hundred to drop at the mall on any given Saturday, maybe I’d see things differently. Maybe.

When I was writing a book review this summer, I read a passage comparing a mall to a place of worship –and that couldn’t be more accurate, as I see it. Even I, of the relatively thin pocketbook and commitment to simple living was tempted a couple times by displays of new clothes, shelves stocked with new running shoes, the aroma wafting out of Bath and Body Works (probably mostly nostalgia). I dropped into Hallmark to see if they still carried the same line of journals I used in high school –the ones with the combination lock. Unfortunately, no, just a couple key-lock models that would set you back $17.95 for less than a page a day for a year’s worth of extremely low-security writing space. I walked out, feeling a little sad for the women standing at the counter. Greeting cards are kind of anachronistic, after all, in the age of email and texts with colorful emojis. Our family hasn’t sent out Christmas cards for years. But, still, I had felt compelled to go in, see what was new, see if I’d forgotten anything I needed. And I questioned why I felt a little twinge of guilt leaving the store empty-handed, as though buying a valentine a month early for my husband would somehow preserve letter-writing and the handwritten word single-handedly. So many subtle emotional interactions in one visit to the mall. Attraction, compulsion, guilt, enticement…

A call to worship.

But I ignored it this morning, wandering around the halls more for exercise and people-watching than to obtain stuff. I figured out, as I sat in the food court (what a ridiculous name… but that’s another blog post…), that what I usually am shopping for is something to make me happy. I have enough of what I need already, but I still have this haunting sense that I’m just one thing away from fulfillment.

The phone I went to the mall for in the first place is the closest thing to my old phone I could find, and I was elated to find that someone at Apple decided, as I did, three repairs ago, that the iPhone 5 was a pretty great design, and worth keeping. I’d have slogged along with the old phone, except that Siri had become completely hard of hearing, and for the last week or two, on every third call, either I couldn’t hear who had called me, or they couldn’t hear me. Everything else works on it, it just has issues with the phone part. But since this little lighted box that functions as a portable container for my social life is really, primarily a phone, I figured it was time to give up. I’d have just as well fixed it, but I question now whether my DIY attempts at a new battery and a new screen may have caused my present problem, I figured I may as well throw out the white flag.

I guess that makes me kind of weird, feeling I need to justify replacing something that’s broken. It’s an old habit, and not one I’m going to break any time soon. It’s bad enough I have a computer, after all, seeing as better writers than me get along just fine without.