Monday, December 29, 2014

Sandwiches, and conscripting friends to help make bags for beggars

I saw a link on Facebook recently, titled "3 Ways to Responsibly and Compassionately Respond to Panhandling". If you can spare 5 minutes, take a hop over to read it (especially her suggestion #1).

Yesterday my morning church (Jacob's Well) had a "service service" where, instead of listening to a sermon, we made one thousand sandwiches for The Sandwich Project MN to give to people experiencing homelessness. With 100+ volunteers, it took only 20 minutes, and it was fun. Post-sandwich-making, we also watched a 5-minute clip about Allan Law, aka "the sandwich man", and a new documentary called the Starfish Throwers.

As I've written before, Beggars in Spain is one of my favorite books ever. The title refers to the conflict between productive and non-productive members of society, and within the book that conflict is manifested between genetically modified humans and those who aren't. Nevertheless there are parallels to be drawn to our modern day treatment of panhandlers and people experiencing homelessness. Life-altering to me were these quotes:

What the strong owe beggars is to ask each one why he is a beggar and act accordingly. Because community is the assumption, not the result. And only by giving non-productiveness the same individuality as excellence, and acting accordingly, does one fulfill the obligation to the beggars in Spain.
There are no permanent beggars in Spain. Or anywhere else. The beggar you give a dollar to today, might change the world tomorrow. Or become father to the man who will. Or grandfather, or great-grandfather. There is no stable ecology of trade, as I thought once, when I was very young. There is no stable anything, much less stagnant anything given enough time. And no non-productive anything either. Beggars are only gene lines temporarily between communities.

If you've ever ridden in my car, you may have noticed my back seat is always well-stocked with what I call my "homeless bags" (another name I've heard others use is "manna bags") - gallon ziplock baggies containing a water bottle, and various cereal bars and canned fruit. Near as I can tell, I started doing this around August of 2010, owing primarily to my discomfort of driving by a beggar on the side of the road and not being willing to give them money.

After leaving church yesterday, I planned to stop by Sam's Club and buy ingredients for another batch of 3 or 6 dozen bags. But my friend Matt had also texted asking if we could hang out. Since he's been gone the last several months I did want to spend time with him, so I was torn. Inspired by the service event at JW (and maybe a little inner-Tom Sawyer?), though, I told him what my plans had been, and suggested he could come over to help me put the bags together. To my surprise both he, and also our friend Joe, were happy to help! What would have taken me hours to do on my own, we accomplished in ... actually I didn't time it, but, way less time. For about $150, we made 70 bags.

Why do I write this? I hesitated because of Matthew 6:1-2, but on the other hand, service to others is integrally part of our Christian walk, and I think I've found one neat way of being those "hands and feet" we're always talking about (in our Christian-ese language). Because of that, I wanted to share it, and in turn, invite you, Reader, to contemplate where your own Calling is for service. It may or may not look anything like mine, and that's okay.

What I've found with the bag idea, is that very rarely have I handed one out and the person didn't appreciate it. A far more typical response is a deep and sincere "thank you". And oftentimes, I have a feeling they're thanking me for much more than the physical bag - they're saying "thank you for acknowledging I'm human," just like that article I linked to at the beginning of this post was talking about.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Celebrating my 29th birthday in Los Angeles

Earlier in December I visited friends out in sunny and warm California, and got to celebrate my birthday with them while I was there. This was the first time since college that I've celebrated my birthday away from home.

I've gone out to LA to visit friends at least once a year for the last four years, but this was my first at Christmas-time (usually it's been over Halloween) - I had no idea how beautifully decorated parts of the city would be! This trip also, I decided that rather than trying to see *everyone*, I'd focus on spending quantity time with my inner circle of friends, thus relieving a lot of stress I otherwise would have felt trying to schedule coffee and lunch dates with a dozen+ people.

During my trip, I had many great dinners with my close friends, many great conversations (me being me, we talked about God and theology a lot, of course!), saw some live music at the Republic of Pie coffeehouse, walked around the Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade, went to two church services and an international prayer service, hiked at two parks (Griffith and Millard Canyon), sat in the audience for a taping of Tim Allen's new show, "Last Man Standing", got a massage, went to the LA Zoo (twice - once in daylight, once for their Christmas lights show at night), went on the Paramount Studios backlot tour, saw part of Huntington Gardens, and meandered the Universal Studios CityWalk (sadly, my favorite street musician who plays Taylor Swift songs wasn't performing this year). Oh, and also spent one day on the couch with food poisoning. That sucked. But everything else was awesome!

A couple funny stories from my trip:

Room decorations

My first day, I landed early afternoon, grabbed my rental car, and found my friends Anne, Laura, and Brandon's new apartment. Anne was working that afternoon at Godiva, but Laura and Brandon were there to meet me. They showed me to my "room," a corner of the living room sectioned off by large foam panels and a bookcase. Inside was just enough room for a mattress and lamp, and then, of course, the shelves of the bookcase. It was pretty cool, actually. What made it awesome, though, were the decorations Brandon put up. Oh, sure, there was a nice photo of my friend Anne and myself from my first LA trip, but that couldn't possibly compete with these:

"Where is the tiger?"

After unpacking and grocery shopping, I left the apartment to meet everyone for dinner at the mall where Anne was working at Godiva. Bear in mind that made this my third-ever time driving this rental car, on basically unfamiliar roads (yes, I've driven them before, but that was over a year ago), and in rush-hour. While on I-5, barely a few minutes into my drive, my phone rings - it's my friend Janelle, who I would be hanging out with that weekend, and we needed to talk about plans. Now I knew that in California it's illegal to hold your phone while driving, so while going 60 miles an hour in traffic, I fought with my handsfree earbuds trying to untangle them and get them plugged into my phone, meanwhile I slided-to-answer and yelled at the phone, "hang on Janelle, I can't hear you yet", and also needed to take the exit to highway 134. Well, whew, I finally got the handsfree plugged in and got the phone switched back to maps so I knew where I needed to go.

It's been years since I visited the Glendale Galleria, and I don't think I drove last time, so everything was unfamiliar. I took the first parking ramp I could find, since I was still on the phone and traffic was heavy and I thought I was in the right place. Janelle and I finished our phone call, and I get out onto the sidewalk. Huh. I don't really see the mall. Checking my GPS, I see it should be a block away, so I start walking... then walk the other way because I was all turned around. I only vaguely remembered where I parked (a detail that will come into play later).

After a few minutes, I determine that the mall entrance must be behind the buildings I'm walking next to, and up ahead there's a street that goes between them. Aha! turns out that street is the Grove, an outdoor mall I remember from a previous trip, and I know it's right next to the indoor mall I'm looking for. I walk through it, admiring all the beautiful Christmas lights and water fountain synced with Christmas music:

Finally, I make it into the Galleria. At this point, I realize I don't know where Godiva is within the mall. No problem, I'll just find a directory.


After wandering back and forth over the entire first floor, I determine that Glendale Galleria has absolutely no mall directories anywhere. Dictating to Siri, I texted Anne:

ahhhhh I can't find a mall directory. Where is the tiger?
sigh. Thanks Siri. Where's Godiva not the tiger.

"Where is the tiger?" instantly became a running joke, to this day. Eventually I did find a directory (apparently there are only two in the whole mall), to discover I was, of course, on the opposite side of the mall, and the wrong floor, from Godiva. Upon arriving at the store, I meet up with Anne and Laura, and recount my adventure to them, wildly gesticulating as I demonstrate trying to untangle my earbud cable. At some point here, Anne had to grab something from the back room, and while she was gone, I became distracted by an ADORABLE teddy bear that Godiva sells, holding a bag of chocolates. You will see said bear in a later photo, because after the "incident of the grown man cuddling a Godiva plush toy," Anne bought him for me as a birthday present :)

"Where's my car?"

Our story continues. Anne and Laura and I leave Godiva, stop by a Lego store (oh my goodness there are SO many awesome Star Wars lego kits now!! Kids these days have it so good.), and I make a request that we go move my car, because I'm pretty sure the ramp I'm in is only free if you eat at one of the restaurants in the building it's attached to. Which ramp did I park in? Um. The one, you know, off the street, and there was a cross-walk by it.


We eventually found the right ramp, stopping at a nearby restaurant to validate my parking ticket, where the hostess didn't even bat an eye at my [factually true] story about being out of town and parking in the wrong ramp. In the right ramp finally, I tell Anne and Laura "I know I parked on the second level, but other than that, just keep an eye out for a white car." Immediately after saying this, I click my car remote, and a car not more than 10 or 15 feet away beeps at me. Oh. I guess we were standing practically right next to it. On the plus side, we found my car!

(side-note: I realized, driving the rental car, how much I miss my back-up camera in my car).

A tale in which everything is closed in honor of Jeremy's birthday

On my birthday (December 8), I met up with Bernadett and we got massages near her apartment, then grabbed lunch at this awesome build-your-own-pizza place (after returning to Minnesota, I learned from Joe that PizzaRev is a chain with locations in Minneapolis, but it was new to me at the time and I was giddy). Post-lunch everything became comically tragic. I drove us to the Getty Center (about a 40 minute trek), whereupon our arrival we learned they are closed on Mondays. I should have checked their website first, it just didn't occur to me. So we drove back to Burbank, and went to a Japanese friendship garden with a large pond of koi fish. The tea house in the middle of the garden, closed. The museum across the street, closed. I suggested, let's check out the zoo. We parked at about 3:30, got to the ticket counter at 3:45, and learned they would be closing at 5, and putting some of the larger animals away starting at 4. Stubbornly, I bought tickets anyway and told Bernadett "we are at least going to see some monkeys or something!" We ended up having a delightful time, got to see a LOT of monkeys (and none of them flung their poo at us!), giraffes, elephants, lions, koalas and wallabies (SO ADORABLE!!), etc. I do want to go back next trip and spend the whole day, but we closed the place down, and I felt vindicated that at least something had been open for my birthday.

Afterward we met up with Anne, Laura, and Melanie for my birthday dinner, where I received a surprise greeting card and gift card from my parents - Mom and Dad nefariously mailed it to Anne before my trip, so she hand-delivered it when we got to the restaurant. And this is also when Anne gave me the Godiva teddy bear, affectionately nicknamed "Tiger" :)

(Yes, my shirt does say "how to pick up chicks")

"Let's go for a hike by a waterfall"

My friend Jordan and I planned to go for a hike in Millard Canyon, where allegedly there is a cool waterfall. Our day started with some miscommunication about which gas station we were meeting at (literally, there were two 76 gas stations within a quarter-mile on the same road; for the record, I showed up at the right one). In retrospect, I should have recognized this ill-omen and suggested we go to Griffith Park instead, because I know the territory. Ignorant of the adventure about to befall us, we pressed on. I drove us to where both Google and Apple Maps said should be the entrance to the park. Except instead of a park entrance, we encountered a NASA guard station, where the kind gentleman informed us this land was now owned by NASA, and to get to the park we had to go a few miles around on a different road. When we got to what we thought was the other entrance, we parked and started walking, and quickly realized the mountain was at least several miles from where we were. Probably not at the right spot after all. Getting back in the car, we found a road that wound up the side of the mountain, in a residential area. Reaching the top, there... wasn't really anywhere to park, so we Googled, and learned that, again allegedly, the waterfall we were looking for was back down the foot of this mountain road, and up another one about 10 minutes drive away. I drove back down, stopped to take a picture (causing confusion for the car that appeared out of nowhere behind us), and we pressed on.

At long last, we found the "right" road, and proceeded up the twisty windy mountainside. Reaching the top, we came upon a small parking area, where we stopped briefly, determined we needed to drive further still to find this mythical waterfall, and so kept going. A very very short distance later, now driving down the backside of the hill, we found a spacious parking lot with less than half a dozen cars in it. We parked, and heard running water. Unfortunately we also spotted a sign that said "permit required" to park there. Seriously? Well, okay, where does one acquire said permit? Pulling up the park website, Jordan called their 800 number, and we learned we should have purchased a permit at a nearby gas station before driving up the hill. Already a little ill from motion sickness driving up the mountain, I was tempted to press our luck and risk a ticket, rather than driving back down and up again. The goodie-two-shoes in me won out, though, and we got back in the car.

When we came upon the first, smaller parking area, though, I suggested we stop and look for signs. Sure enough, there was no sign at all that said permit required. Now I was willing to risk a ticket, because if there's no sign, that to me sounds unenforceable. We were close enough to walk back down to where we'd heard the running water, and followed it for about 5 minutes. As I was saying "it sounds like it goes off to the right," we turned, and blocking our path was a fence, with a sign saying "area closed due to fire damage." But. But. But.

No waterfall for us.

We continued on the path a short distance more, and found, quite to my surprise, a family of deer:

Then, abandoning our original trail, we pursued one that appeared to go up the mountainside. Fortunately we didn't meet any bears, though we did find a couple random pieces of footwear, likely lost by the mountain-bikers whose tire-tread marks were carved deeply in the trail. An hour or more later, we happened upon a paved road. At this point, we had a choice: go back down the mountainside trail we'd hiked up, or take the paved road and see where it lead. I voted for the paved road, thinking we might have climbed high enough to be near where I'd parked. Sure enough, about 30 feet down the road, around a curve, we saw my car, thus creating another "Jeremy doesn't know where he parked and was practically standing right next to his car" moment. As an end to our hike, we found a scenic overlook near the car, so stopped for a while to chat.

After conversing a while, we departed and headed for lunch, where I was excited to be introduced to the Slaters 50/50 restaurant chain, known for their bacon-on-practically-everything menu (including, as I found out, a maple+bacon milkshake, which was DELICIOUS).

Those are the funniest stories from my trip. Here are some other photos:

Janelle and me at Griffith Park

(Hollywood sign visible immediately above my head)

Sunset from Griffith Park

Melanie's "welcome home" party

LA Zoo Light Show

As an aside, I actually went to the light show on my own, as all my friends were busy that evening. One of the life lessons I've learned is not to be afraid or feel shame about doing an activity by yourself.

Paramount Studios tour

Huntington Gardens with Anne

Universal Studios CityWalk

Monday, December 01, 2014

Audiobook reflection: Allegiant

Allegiant novel cover.jpg

Allegiant concludes the Divergent stories as, in my opinion, the most-quotable and thought-provoking installment of the trilogy, packed full of social commentary (not in a bad way), and with a reminder that no person is all-good or all-evil: every person / relationship / conflict / what-have-you has at least two sides to the story. It's also clear that Veronica Roth grew as a writer between her first and third books. This is not to say the first was "bad," it is simply to say her word choice and character development are significantly more advanced in book 3 than they were in book 1. Growth is a good thing.

Allegiant is the only book in the trilogy to alternate first-person narratives between Tris and Tobias, giving a new perspective into our characters. Without revealing too much in the way of spoilers, the storyline reminded me of a childhood favorite book of mine, called Running Out Of Time, as well as, again, the Hunger Games (though for different reasons this time than before). There was also an Orwellian (1984) element at play: whoever controls knowledge, controls history.

It took until 3 and a half hours into Allegiant before I finally caught the play-on-words of "Dauntless" and "daunting" (thanks to the character Zoe for cracking a joke about it, which finally clued me in after two and a quarter books of hearing the word; *hangs head in shame*).

Something I've loved about the Divergent series, that is particularly played out in Allegiant, is that [most] people are not clearly defined as good and bad. While some characters are clearly more good or more bad, even the most extreme characters have shades of gray, like in real life. For the ones who are "evil," you get to see a little bit into their perspective. Not that a rational person could justify their actions, but you at least understand their conviction and why *they* think they're doing the right thing. If I had to sum the book up into one "life lesson," I'd say it's about learning to see both sides of a conflict.

Speaking of conflict, I like that Tris and Tobias demonstrate what it's like to be in a "real" relationship: there are ups and downs and some days you hate the other person, but you still choose to fight to make that relationship work, and that is beautiful. And on a broader scope, the book drives home the bond of family and friends, reversing the oft-quoted mantra from book 1 that had proclaimed "faction before family."

Spoiler alert: a lot of people die in this book. Which leads to another point of interest: we watch two characters wrestle whether to drink a memory-loss serum that would cause them to forget their lives. For one character it's because he's ashamed of his past misdeeds; for the other it's to forget the intense pain of losing a loved one. It's a fascinating question: if you could forget all your memories of your loved one in order to make the pain go away, would you? (I guess there's already a movie about this, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind... which I hated).

In my opinion one mark of a "good" book is how emotionally connected I as reader become. I found myself grieving along with the characters during the story, and even after the book had ended - I ended up driving home almost in a state of mourning. Well done, Author.

As mentioned in my intro paragraph, this was the most quotable and thought-provoking book in the series. Holy cow did I pull a lot of quotes. Intended or not, I see a lot of commentary here about wealth and class inequality, political bickering and misdirection at the expense of serving society (I'm aiming at both sides of the aisle on that one), religious squabbling about issues of non-eternal relevance, and of course, good and evil. Not to be all Debbie-downer, though, I also see a lot of lessons here about what faith, love, patience, and forgiveness are about.

Allegiant ends with a world far from perfect, not the way I as reader would have wanted it to turn out, and yet full of hope. Life carries on, a new sense of normalcy is found again, even after deep losses. As in real life this doesn't mean you "get over it," but you can (and the characters do) find a new normal and ways to honor your loved one by pressing forward to live your life. In the quote list below, if you don't read all of them, at least read the final two.

My favorite quotes

Every question that can be answered must be answered, or at least engaged. Illogical thought processes must be challenged when they arise. Wrong answers must be corrected. Correct answers must be affirmed. - From the Erudite faction manifesto, 0:00:37
"I think I'd like to find a middle ground for myself," [Tobias] says. "To find that place between what I want and what I think is wise."
"That sounds good." I pause. "But what do you want?" - Tris, 0:42:00
New outfits can't erase the divisions between us. They are engrained. - Tris, 1:21:17
By the light of the flashlights I can just make out the tattoo of a hawk on the back of her neck, the first thing I spoke to her about when she administered my aptitude test. She told me it was a symbol of a fear she had overcome, a fear of the dark. I wonder if that fear still creeps up on her now, though she worked so hard to face it. I wonder if fears ever really go away, or if they just lose their power over us. - Tris, 2:05:59
It is all luck, or providence, depending on what you believe. And I don't know - have never known - exactly what I believe. - Tris, 2:11:50
"But there's so much that was a lie. It's hard to figure out what was true, what was real, what matters." [Tobias]
I take his hand, slipping my fingers between his. He touches his forehead to mine. I catch myself thinking, "Thank God for this" out of habit, and then I understand what he's so concerned about. What if my parents' God, their whole belief system, is just something concocted by a bunch of scientists to keep us under control? And not just their beliefs about God, and whatever else is out there, but about right, and wrong, about selflessness? Do all those things have to change because we know how our world was made? - Tris, 3:11:20
"It's the symbol of the Bureau of Genetic Welfare," she [Zoe] says. "The slab of stone is the problem we're facing, the tank of water is our potential for changing that problem, and the drop of water is what we're actually able to do at any given time."
I can't help it, I laugh. "Not very encouraging is it?"
She smiles. "That's one way of looking at it. I prefer to look at it another way, which is that if they are persistent enough, even tiny drops of water, over time, can change the rock forever, and it will never change back."
She points to the center of the slap where there is a small impression, like a shallow bowl, carved into the stone. "That, for example, wasn't there when they installed this thing."
I nod, and watch the next drop fall. Even though I'm wary of the Bureau and everyone in it, I can feel the quiet hope of the sculpture working its way through me. It's a practical symbol, communicating the patient attitude that has allowed the people here to stay for so long, watching, and waiting. But I have to ask. "Wouldn't it be more effective to unleash the whole tank at once?" I imagine the wave of water, colliding with the rock, and spilling over the tile floor, collecting around my shoes. Doing a little at once can fix something, eventually, but I feel like when you believe that something is truly a problem, you throw everything you have at it, because you just can't help yourself.
"Momentarily," she says. "But then we wouldn't have any water left to do anything else." - Tris and Zoe 3:24:52
"Do the colors of the uniforms mean anything?" I [Tris] ask Zoe.
"Yes, actually. Dark blue means scientist or researcher, and green means support staff. They do maintenance, upkeep, things like that."
"So they're like the factionless."
"No." She says. "No, the dynamic is different here. Everyone does what they can to support the mission. Everyone is valued and important." - 3:28:59
[During Tris's first plane ride:] And as I stare out at the land, I think that this, if nothing else, is compelling evidence for my parents' God. That our world is so massive that it is completely out of our control. That we cannot possibly be as large as we feel. So small, as to be negligible. It's strange, but there's something in that thought that makes me feel almost free. - 4:22:52
The division is based on knowledge, based on qualifications, but as I learned from the factionless, a system that relies on a group of uneducated people to do its dirty work without giving them a way to rise, is hardly fair. [Tobias]
"I think your girl's right, you know," Nita says. "Nothing has changed. Now you just have a better idea of your own limitations. Every human being has limitations, even GPs [Genetically Pure]." - 4:35:59
"Everyone has to blame something for the way the world is." - Tris, 5:07:09
"It's a little rudimentary, but this book helped to teach me what it is to be human," he says. "To be such a complicated mysterious piece of biological machinery, and more amazing still, to have the capacity to analyze that machinery. That is a special thing, unprecedented in all of evolutionary history. Our ability to know about ourselves and the world is what makes us human." - Matthew, 5:09:23
"Why do people come here, then?" I [Tobias] frown. "Why don't they just go back to the cities?"
"Here there's a chance that if you die, someone will care. Like Raffi or one of the other leaders," the guard says. "In the cities, if you get killed, definitely no one will give a damn, not if you're a GD [Genetically Damaged]. The worst crime I've ever seen a GP get charged with for killing a GD was manslaughter. Bullshit. ... It means the crime is deemed an accident. ... Or at least not as severe as, say, first degree murder. Officially, of course, we're all treated the same, yes? But that is rarely put into practice."
He [a guard] stands beside me, his arms folded. I see when I look at him a king surveying his own kingdom, which he believes is beautiful. I look out at the street, at the broken pavement and the limp body with its turned-out pockets, and the windows flickering with firelight, and I know the beauty he sees is just freedom. Freedom to be seen as a whole man instead of a damaged one. - Tobias, 5:49:24
She knew that the truth, whatever it was, would change our struggle, would shift our priorities forever. And here, now, a lie has changed the struggle, a lie has shifted priorities forever. Instead of working against the poverty or crime that have run rampant over this country, these people have chosen to work against "genetic damage." [Tobias]
"Why? Why spend so much time and energy fighting something that isn't really a problem?" I demand, suddenly frustrated.
"Well, the people fighting it now probably fight it because they have been taught that it *is* a problem. That's another thing that Raffi showed me, examples of the propaganda the government released about genetic damage," Nita says. "But initially, I don't know. It's probably a dozen things. Prejudice against GDs, control maybe? Control the genetically damaged population by teaching them that there's something wrong with them, and control the genetically pure population by teaching them that they're healed and whole. These things don't happen overnight, and they don't happen for just one reason." [Nita] - 5:55:20
" matter how smart, people usually see what they're already looking for." - Tris, 6:01:15
I know I'm fumbling for an explanation, one I may not really believe, but I say it anyway. "I guess, I don't see a reason to believe in genetic damage. Will it make me treat other people better? No. The opposite maybe. And besides, I see what it's doing to Tobias, how it's making him doubt himself, and I don't understand how anything good can possibly come from it." - Tris, 6:01:32
"...everyone has some evil inside them, and the first step to loving anyone, is to recognize the same evil in ourselves, so we're able to forgive them." - Caleb, quoting his and Tris's mother, 6:28:21
"You know what the Abnegation used to say about pride?" [Tris]
"Something unfavorable, I assume?" [Kara]
I laugh.
"Obviously. They said it blinds people to the truth of what they are." - Tris, 7:10:49
David sits in a wheelchair, his legs covered in a stiff material, to keep the bones in place so they can heal, I assume. He looks pale, and wan, but healthy enough. Though I know that he had something to do with the attack simulation and with all those deaths, I find it difficult to pair those actions with the man I see in front of me. I wonder if this is how it is with all evil men, that to someone, they look just like good men, talk like good men, are just as likable as good men." - Tris, 7:26:00
"If I was a psychopath, I would have killed you in your sleep by now." [Peter]
"And added my eyeballs to your eyeball collection, no doubt." [Tobias]
Peter laughs, too, and I realize that I am exchanging jokes and conversation with the initiate who stabbed Edward in the eye and tried to kill my girlfriend... but then, he's also the Dauntless who helped us end the attack simulation and saved Tris from a horrible death. I am not sure which actions should weigh more heavily on my mind. Maybe I should forget them all and let him begin again. - Tobias, 7:38:40
Evelyn tried to control people by controlling weapons, but Jeanine was more ambitious. She knew that when you control information or manipulate it, you don't need force to keep people under your thumb. They stay there willingly. - Tris, 7:58:54
"...anytime you mash two different people against each other, you'll get problems. But I can see that what you guys have is worthwhile." - Amar, 8:15:48
"I thought I was supposed to figure out if I could forgive you or not. But now, I'm thinking you didn't do anything to me that I need to forgive. Except maybe accusing me of being jealous of Nita.... If we stay together, I'll have to forgive you over and over again, and if you're still in this, you'll have to forgive me over and over again, too." - Tris, 8:31:14
They're similar, Kara and Tris. Two women sharpened by loss. The difference is that Kara's pain has made her certain of everything, and Tris has guarded her uncertainty, protected it, despite all she's been through. She still approaches everything with a question instead of an answer. It is something I admire about her. Something I should probably admire more. - Tobias, 8:44:01
"There is a difference between admitting and confessing. Admitting involves softening, making excuses for things that cannot be excused. Confessing just names the crime in its full severity." - Kara, 9:07:07
Just as I have insisted on his worth, he has always insisted on my strength. Insisted that my capacity is greater than I believe. And I know, without being told, that's what love does. When it's right, it makes you more than you were, more than you thought you could be. - Tris, 9:25:30
I cycle through the things you're supposed to say at times like these. The apologies and the sympathy. I don't find a single phrase that feels right to me. Instead I just let the silence stretch out between us. It's the only adequate response to what he just told me, the only thing that does the tragedy justice instead of patching it up hastily and moving on. - Tobias, 9:44:27
"Have you really forgiven me? Or are you just saying that you have because I'm about to die?" [Caleb]
I stare at my hands, which rest in my lap. I have been able to be kind and pleasant to him because every time I think of what happened in Erudite headquarters, I immediately push the thought aside. But that can't be forgiveness. If I had forgiven him, I would be able to think of what happened without that hatred I can feel in my gut, right? Or maybe forgiveness is just the continual pushing aside of bitter memories, until time dulls the hurt, and the anger, and the wrong is forgotten. For Caleb's sake, I choose the believe the latter.
"Yes. I have," I say. I pause. "Or at least, I desperately want to, and I think that might be the same thing." - Tris, 10:05:25
I know that change is difficult, and comes slowly, and that it is the work of many days strung together in a long line until the origin of them is forgotten. - Tobias, 10:44:47
Maybe just as skin on a hand grows tougher after pain and repetition, a person does, too. But I don't want to become a calloused man. There are other kinds of people in this world. There's the kind like Tris, who after suffering and betrayal could still find enough love to lay down her life instead of her brother's. Or the kind like Kara, who could still forgive the person who shot her brother in the head. Or Christina, who lost friend after friend but still decided to stay open, to make new ones. Appearing in front of me is another choice, brighter and stronger than the ones I gave myself. - Tobias, 11:24:15
There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved for the sake of something greater. But sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life. - Tobias, 11:25:40
"Sometimes life really sucks. But you know what I'm holding on for? .... The moments that don't suck. The trick is to notice them when they come around." - Christina, 11:49:17
Since I was young I have always known this: life damages us, everyone. We can't escape that damage. But now I am also learning this: we can be mended. We mend each other. - Tobias, 11:49:45