Wednesday, August 19, 2009


My Senior year of High School, I worked for about three months at Meijer. One day, one of my coworkers—a self-described "pagan"—went around asking people whether they believed all demons were evil. Most of the self-described Christians, agnostics, and atheists who worked there gave a tepid "I guess" or "I don't know." She smugly pointed out that they hypocritically condemned what they did not understand and did not understand what they believed. When she asked me, I did not know yet that she had asked my coworkers for their thoughts, or what answers she had received. Our conversation went a little like this (not word for word—it has been four years):

PAGAN: Do you think all demons are evil?
ME: Yes.
(PAGAN descends into sputtering rage at my certain and confident answer, babbles about being self righteous)
ME: Wait a minute... what do you mean by "demon"?

At this moment, I realized that she and I did not agree on our terms. I took demon to mean fallen angel. It's very definition meant that it was a being which saw God in all His glory and turned against Him. She did not have the same definition, as her answer demonstrated:

PAGAN: Any kind of demon!
ME: No, I mean...
PAGAN: Take a succubus for example. It has drains the life out of humans by having sex with them. Is it evil?
ME: If such a thing really exists; yes.
PAGAN: How can you say that?!? It's only doing it to survive! That's like denying a person the right to eat!

Here, again, we were hitting a wall in our conversation. One from which it did not recover, as I was called away shortly thereafter to do my actual job. However, I know how I would have responded: Angels, fallen or otherwise, are eternal beings. They don't die. Demons, therefore, do not need to feed to survive, whether on libidos or Fritos. It would be ludicrous for a Christian to respond any other way to her questions.

I suppose I'm thinking of this because I've been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer lately. (I just finished Season 6, and haven't seen it before, so please no one who reads this ruin Season 7 for me.) It's gotten me thinking a lot about different things: occult, demonic, magic, and mythic. I've done a lot of considering lately. Most of my thoughts are unimportant, and I will keep them to myself for now. I may have follow-up posts, however, wherein I discuss individual ideas in greater depth.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Emotional Experience

When I applied to Los Angeles Film Studies Center, they asked for a narrative of my most emotional experience. The following is what I wrote, with minor changes:

In my junior year of high school, I met a girl I'll call "K" (whose name I will omit for the sake of her privacy). We were both on our high school's forensics team, and were both of the intellectual persuasion. By this, I of course mean that we were smart and knew it, with (I am ashamed to say on my part) varying degrees of humility. Throughout the course of the semester, we became as close friends as I was with anyone during my pre-collegiate years. Much of our time was spent preparing for or going to speech competitions, and so we spent much of our time in each other's company. She was phenomenally talented and immensely kind to everyone to whom I ever saw her speak. I admit I may have even had a crush on her, but I never acted on it. Then, at the end of the year, she transferred to a private girls school and we lost touch with one another.

Throughout the course of my senior year, I would send K an occasional email. I didn't say anything special, just some updates about who had done what that we both knew and the sort of things I was up to. I knew that her new school's curriculum was much more intense than mine, so I thought nothing of it that she didn't really respond to my emails. Perhaps this was mere foolishness, perhaps self-delusion. Whatever the reason, I kept sending her emails every month or two for the first half of the year, then began to get less frequent. One day in the spring, I realized I hadn't written her in a while, so I sent her one last email. The act did not seem significant to me at the time.

A day or two after I sent that last email, I got a response from my not-so-long lost friend and was elated at the fact. I opened the email reply to my message and was horrified at what I read. It has been nearly four years, and those words were not “burned into my mind,” but the general gist of her message was. Her message essentially said: “I thought ignoring you was enough to send the message. Apparently not. I do not want to hear from you. I do not care how you or anyone you know is doing, and I hope you never talk to, write to, or in any way contact me again.” She expounded upon this theme for well over a page of writing. Likely, she thought this necessary, as I was too “dense” to pick up the subtleties of being ignored and so might miss the direct point as well. While I did not understand her reasoning, I respected her decision and so immediately deleted her from my email contacts, instant messenger, and any other list of contacts in which she had previously appeared.

For many people, this would only be a strange occurrence and perhaps slightly disappointing. But I have always had a fear of rejection (a full discussion of which would take well over a the allowed length of this essay on its own). I am reluctant to use common platitudes and metaphors, so I will not describe her message as a knife in the chest. That is exactly how I had described it at the time, but I have since thought back and realized that the feeling was nothing at all like a knife. What I felt was not pain, or sadness, or anger. It was a sort of internal reordering. The best I can think of to describe it is the way I imagine a surgery patient would feel after having had an appendectomy. Something of which I had not been normally aware had been taken away from me.

What was even worse than the feeling, however, were its aftereffects. I cannot make myself make first contact with any of my high school friends. Those with whom I have reestablished contact already, I may call, but the fear that they too will without explanation or reasonable provocation demand that I sever all ties between us grips me with all its might. Those who have not contacted me I have simply lost. Thankfully, there is such a disconnect between my high school and college careers that I do not have this problem with my college friends who have graduated or transferred. I am reluctant, perhaps, to call unsolicited, but I still do try from time to time, and most often my efforts are rewarded.

I have felt stronger emotions than this unclassifiable feeling K gave me, both before and since then. I have not, however, had any event trigger such a long-lasting shift in my emotions. I may never be free of her influence in my life. This strikes me as perhaps the greatest irony, that in trying to sever ties between us, K permanently won herself a place in my heart as the friend who didn't want me.

One might wonder what prompted me to post this now, over a year after I wrote it. The truth is, I recently googled "K"s name on a whim and found out where she goes to school. I still respect her decision, and will make no attempt to contact her. I'm just nostalgic, and a little sad.