Monday, December 29, 2008

Duchess of Carnegie

I am, I admit, and old soul. I sit here in my "study" surrounded by history books, classic literature, and photographs of my family, some of members long dead.

I am, I admit, a romantic at heart. I love the stories that end with the hero succeeding. I love to think that true love conquers all, that bravery, courage, honor, and perseverance are all one needs to survive life. I know it doesn't always end up that way, but I want to believe that it can.

Perhaps that is why I want to move to New York and offer to fight to the death to keep this dear woman in her apartment.

Her name is Editta Sherman, age 96. Her home is in an apartment above Carnegie Hall. That is right, above Carnegie Hall. She has rent control. She pays.....ready for this....$650 a month.

She is a portrait photographer who has led her own fairytale life. She has known Andy Warhol, Henry Fonda, Paul Newman. She has photographed supermodels, actors, politicians, singers....and more. She is one of those rare people who not only captures history, but has become an active part of it.

And now, in the name of progress, she must go. Sanford Weill, the chairman of Carnegie Hall has decided he wants to use the apartments that she and several others occupy for rooms for music students.

I am all for music students. I am all for the Hall making some more money (which we know is why Weill wants to renovate. You can't make any money off of rent control).

But why, in the name of progress, must she go NOW. She is 96. She may live to be 106. If she does, you have lost ten years. In the meantime, almost all of the other tenants have moved out. Change their apartments. Let the music students get to know Mrs. Sherman, and let their lives be enriched by it.

It may not be fair, to let her stay and make others go. But fair, as my father would say, is where they give pigs blue ribbons. At 96 you have outlived fair. You get to do what you want. And she wants to continue living, maybe even die, in her home of over 50 years.

We live in a time when that useless punk Thoreau (that's right, I said it) has poisoned our minds with the thought that the elderly have nothing to teach us. In our new technological age, how could Editta Sherman possibly have anything wise to pass on? She is old, throw her out for the new!

Well, Thoreau was a fool, and so are we. We box up our elderly in group homes and we stop listening to them. We assume that they think nothing like us, and that they are just a burden. But people like Mrs. Sherman have seen enough of life to know what is important, and to know what lessons we really should focus on.

....rant on elderly over.....

So leave her be you heartless New York Chairman. Let her stay! Do not now, after so long, take her home!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

This will be brief.

Slumdog Millionaire. I saw it for the first time alone on Saturday. Then I saw it with a great friend this afternoon. I would go see again tomorrow.

It is amazing.

The cinematography is fantastic. Each shot was well thought out and composed to not only progress the story, but to truly engage the viewer.

The acting is superb. Every person plays their part well, not over doing it, not trying to steal the screen. Each character is believable, and either lovable or hateable...or I suppose both.

And the story. Ah the story. It is what stories should be.

I won't go into more detail today. I want people to go see it, then we can chat. I will probably post on it again soon.

If you live in Manhattan, you are out of luck. The theater here has once again skipped out on anything that focuses on another culture. But don't worry, Twilight and Bolt in 3D are still available.

But if you want to go to Topeka...nope, not there either.

Fine, go to KC. Watch it there. It will be worth the drive. And if you live in KC, or are visiting...then go now.

And if you are in Manhattan and want to drive to KC on Saturday to see it....I will go with you.

That is how much I love this movie.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Merry Merry Christmas

I love Christmas Eve. It is what every evening probably should be. My extended family comes over, we eat amazing chili and soup that my momma makes (and if you have never had my momma's cooking, you are missing out on one of the single greatest experiences in human life. I know many people say this, but my statement is confirmed by hundreds of people outside of the family.), and we have a grand old time. This year my cousin Amy's little girl went around with a rubber snake biting people....but only people with beards....I was bit seven times before the snake decided it liked me.

Then they all go home and the gift extravaganza begins. This year was extra fun because my nephew is two, which means is old enough to actually appreciate the gifts he receives. This year the big ones were Veggie Tales and a toy vacuum cleaner. That is right, a toy vacuum cleaner. Gotta love it. I was also excited for the gift us chittlins got my parents. It was a Blue Ray DVD player. And I think they loved it. We watched Happy Feet in Blue Ray, and it was amazing. Technology is neat.

After the gifts we focus on Jesus. Every year we read the Christmas Story from Luke, although really momma just says it from heart. And this year my brother in law played his guit-fiddle and we had some song worship. It was a great way to focus our hearts on the true meaning of the holiday.

I love Christmas, and I love my family. Thus these past fews days have been fantastic.

Hope yours has been just as blessed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Nagging Thought

So last night I went to see the movie Seven Pounds, and ever since then, something has been bothering me. Something I need to get off my chest. It has been an inkling for a while. I have noticed it in other movies, but it was not until last night that I really came to terms with it.

Rosario Dawson may just be the hottest actress in Hollywood.

She is amazing. And educated. And hot. And, a really great actress.

I am still slightly obsessed with Jessica Biel. I still can't get past Angelina Jolie's forbidden sex appeal. I still think that Salma Hayek is WAY sexier than Penelope Cruz.

But Rosario Dawson may have them all beat, hands down.

Man, do I feel better getting that out there in the open.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Itch

I feel it.

I don't even want it.

I am happy where I am.

I am settling in, creating relationships, finding community.

I want to be here.

And yet....there it is.

The itch.

To move.

To move on to the next adventure, the next place, the next challenge.

Sometimes, when it happens, I can take a short trip, and it goes away.

Not this time.

The trip did not help.

It may have increased it.

So where to?

Do I just throw a dart and head that direction?

Sell what I own, grab the dog and go?

I told myself I wouldn't.

Said I don't want to travel alone anymore.

I want the settled home, the relationships, the community.

And yet.....this damn itch.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Irrational Fears

Ranger's recent post about his favorite things started a trend that has reverberated through the known world. I have heard that Obama even decided to list his favorite things. Oddly enough, winning the presidency was 4th, after "eating licorice till I am sick", but before "sneaking a cig when Michelle is not looking"

Anyway, I am feeling a bit too pessimistic about life to list my favorite things....perhaps another day. No, I am forging my own trail. I will now list my irrational fears. Considering the fact that no one participated in my reading list except the amazing Sara, I fear this will be a very short trail. But then, my life has been built on short trails.

Anywho, my fears:

1. Spiders.
Of any size. The fear grows the faster they are. Big, slow ones I can handle. Fast little buggers, I cry like a wee babe. I am not proud of this, but it is who I am.

2. Closed shower curtains.
Maybe this is Alfred Hitchcock's fault. Or more likely Event Horizon. Maybe it is just my own over-active imagination. But I enter many bathrooms for my job, and every time there is a closed shower curtain, I get nervous. I always open them, but there is a moment before I see they are clear that I am filled with sheer terror.

3. Sub-terranian public transportation.
It is not the people. It is not the closed in spaces. I don't know what it is. But I do know this. I will not board one by myself. I think it is because I am afraid that I don't know where I will get off. And what if I get off in the wrong place and can't get back on in time? What if it suddenly transports through time and space, and I am stuck like Scott Bakula in Quantum Leap in alternate dimensions? IT COULD HAPPEN.

4. Spontaneous Combustion
You just laughed. I heard it. But it is real. Documented. And from the time I was about 12 to about 20 I was truly afraid it would happen. The fear has lessened now, but the possibility is always lurking.

5. Dark Water
I once skipped out on swimming with a very beautiful girl because she wanted to swim at night. We could have been married by now. However, we could also have been eaten by terrifying creatures of the deep that only surface at night. My rule is, if you can't see your foot in the water, it might get bitten off. This includes puddles, swimming pools, and bathtubs (all only if there is no light. I do not fear them if they are lit...that would be ridiculous). And muddy lakes. And deep ocean, where you can see your feet, but sharks swim really fast. As does the Kracken.

Hmmm, I do feel better after naming my fears. They may be irrational, but they are real. You know you have some too. C'mon. Share for the world.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bainy's Book LIst

My friend Bainy and I were chatting the other night, and the topic wandered into the realm of books. She said "I think God wants me to start reading again." I told her that God had told me to tell her yes. Later I felt that in truth, God had not specifically told me this, and that perhaps I should not lie about what the Lord God is saying. False prophets seem to have a great deal of trouble coming, according to the bible....

But I digress. Here for Bainy, and anyone else's viewing pleasure, is Bainy's Book List. I challenge any who reads this...yes, all three of read any book on this list, and then call me. We will go have coffee, tea, beer, or perhaps some nice tap water, and discuss them. I will buy.

First, a list of one's that most have heard of, classics if you will, that must be read:

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
1984 by George Orwell
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This is not exhaustive by any means. I love the classics. If you have read all of these, I have more.

Now, onto some specific books. Some are serious, others less so.

Love in The Driest Season by Neely Tucker

To begin with, a book that will wrench your heart in half in the first few pages and spend the rest of the book rebuilding it. Neely Tucker is a journalist who, with his wife, traveled to Zimbabwe in 1997. There he saw a country devastated by AIDS and poverty. They also fell in love with a baby girl they knew was to be their daughter. As Tucker revisits the trials and tears of trying to adopt this beautiful baby girl, you will get a look at what real love is. The sacrifices and troubles he encounters will cause you to weep. The joys and love he experiences will cause your heart to soar. I start with this book because it is one all should read.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

A memoir of sorts, this is a fictionalized telling, in essay form, of the lives of soldiers in the Vietnam War. It is guaranteed to broaden your perspective and touch your heart. Read it without crying, laughing, and cringing, and you must be a robot. In which case go read some Isaac Asimov.

A Man Called Peter by Catherine Marshall

While technically a biography, this is also a love story written by Peter Marshall's wife. It is a love story that involves not just a man and a woman, but a man and God. Peter Marshall was a man who knew how to be in love with God, and how to experience God's love. And he was Scottish. His wisdom, tenderness, passion, and fervor come through in a personal telling of his life that only his wife could tell. If you love a good love story, read it. If you love to read about real people who chased the Lord with all they had, read. Just read it.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

First, go and purchase a box of soft Kleenex. You will rub your eyes and blow your nose raw with the store brand stuff. This novel explores the world of Afghanistan and war, but more importantly the world of man. It challenges its reader. It will make you want to curl up in a ball and stand up against evil all at once. The "hero" of the book is no hero at all, but his journey throughout the novel creates in him the ability to become one. If you read this, be prepared to come face to face with humanity at its ugliest. But do it, be brave. Perhaps you too will come out prepared to be a hero.

The Brothers K by David James Duncan

Baseball, family, and religion. Need I say more? Three of the world's most powerful forces circle each other in this book, changing lives and hearts. Reading this book is like sitting down with your grandparents and listening to them tell stories about their crazy cousins. You grow to love them, and kind of want to be a part of their adventures. Just a good old classic American tale. Thus, if you don't read, you are un-American. And foolish. And maybe smell slightly. Okay, I take back the un-American....and the foolish....but seriously....deodorant....

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I know what you are thinking. What this list is missing is a fantastic Gothic mystery novel. Well worry no more. This book has murder, sex, deceit, and mystery. You are in for a fantastic ride through Barcelona's underworld as you try to discover the secret behind the mysterious destruction of...books. That is right. But don't worry. People apparently get murdered, fall in love, and have fantastic secrets in Spain's book selling world. I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Round Ireland With a Fridge by Tony Hawks

What would you do if I bet you that you could not hitchhike around an island with a refrigerator. If you were Tony Hawks, you would take that bet. You would lose money, because the bet won't cover expenses, but then you would write a hilarious book that would make you more money. So you would be okay.

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

This book contains some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read. The story that Rushdie weaves about the set of children born at midnight on the eve of India's independence is both hilarious and sobering. He weaves history with fantasy to create a world of ancient mysticism and modern realism. I guarantee that reading this will add to your wisdom AND imagination. A twofer.

The Drowned and The Saved by Primo Levi

Primo Levi, an Italian Jew who was sent to Auschwitz during the Holocaust, wrote several books on his experience. This was his final book, written 40 years after his incarceration. In it, he does not attempt to tell of what happened to him (I think he assumed he had done that with his past books), but rather to understand the life in the Lagers. This amazing memoir explores who survived, how they survived, why they survived, and what they became. He explores how such atrocities can come about, and how people can allow it to happen. He was convinced that without such analysis, and without constant reminders as to what happened and how, that the world could easily descend into madness again. This is one that I believe is a no brainer. Read it. You will be a better person for it. Just read it.

Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie

I will end with a collection of short stories from an amazing writer. He is a Spokane Indian who blends his life experiences into stories that comfort and haunt. His stories will make you laugh out loud, while causing you to question the world you live in. He writes with a passion and wit that will keep you looking for more and more of his works. Start with this one, and then just keep going.

Alrighty, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Read away. Tell me what you think. And of course, add to the list. If you have a book that you think I should read, let me know. I will add it to the stack, and the YOU can buy me coffee.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Year Long Plan

Last night, as I sat at a party with some friends, I had a moment of genius. We were discussing things that we had been wanting to accomplish, but had yet to do. Some were difficult because of cost, but we all agreed that the biggest "block" was simply letting the projects slip through the cracks of busy lives.

This led to a thought, and I think I am going to try to bring it to fruition.

Sometime in early January, I am going to throw a party. Those who attend the party will be asked to plan one year long project. It could be learning a new language. It could be building something they have always wanted to try. It could be traveling somewhere. Or writing a book. Seriously. Anything. The level of difficulty will be up to the person.

Then, we will write it all down in a notebook, and each person will sign their "commitment".

In one year, there will be another party, and people will bring their accomplishments to the party. We will all share in and enjoy each other's success of achieving something fantastic in one year.

Oh, and there is a penalty for not. If anyone does not accomplish their goal (barring personal tragedy of course), they will be required to pay $100 to a community fund. This will then be donated to charity.

It may sound a little cheesy, but I am actually excited by the thought of making this happen.

Anybody down for a challenge?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Christmas Spirit

It is November 19th.

I usually have a staunch rule against Christmas music, decorations, or movies until after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, I believe, should not be forgotten.

This year, however, I have started early. Last night I purchased Harry Connick Jr's new Christmas album, as well as Casting Crown's. I am already thinking through the movies I will watch this season. I am brushing up on my Linus reading of Luke.

I am ready for the season.

I think it is because I am excited for family and friends.

I think it is because I am excited for the cold, head clearing weather.

I know it is because I am yearning to feel a closeness to God that I always feel at Christmas. And don't give me the line about how I can have that year round. I know I should. But Christmas is a grand catalyst.

So bring on the holly jollies. Bring on the mistletoe. Bring on the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

And bring on the baby Jesus. The reminder that God so loved this world that he gave his one and only son to be born in a barn and raised in fear. God could have smote us. He could have washed His hands of us and let the Devil take us. Instead He sacrificed for us, where he knew we couldn't.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Story continued....

For the beginnning of this story, check out A Boy and his Blog.

After what you have been through, trusting another stranger is the last thing you want to do.

You roll off the road into the dense brush in the run-off ditch.You are wet, tired, bleeding, and it is four hours until dawn. But you know you cannot die out here. You must get back to the one you love, and besides, you are not wearing clean underwear, and your mom always told you that if you ever died on the side of the road, you had better have on clean underwear. But it was laundry day.

As you get up and force yourself to walk, it begins to rain. Through the lightning flashes you see what appears to be a cave. Inside you could be warm and dry, at least until dawn.

As you approach the cave, you hear a loud screech that sounds as though it has come from within. Your blood runs cold.

Do you go into the cave to get dry or do you keep walking along the ditch?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Funday

This Sabbath, as I sit here in my brown polyester sweatpants and fuzzy green sweater ( I know, you wish you could see me), I feel the need for some fun.

Perhaps it is the weather. Perhaps it is the recent election which seemed to tear our communities apart. Perhaps it is the feeling I get that some of my friends are burdened by life.

Whatever the reason, I need to highlight some fun, sweet goodness that life is offering me these days.

The Zoo
Yesterday was free zoo day here in the Promised Land. My friend Rachel invited me to join in on the festivities. While many animals, including the elusive cheetah, hid from the cold, we were able to see the Maned Wolf, a native of South America, and a large Bengal Tiger. We also heard a Sloth Bear bark. My bet is none of you...except Rachel and Luke, heard a Sloth Bear bark yesterday. I know, you are jealous.

New Friend
I have a new friend. His name is Nataraj Sundar. He is from Bangalore, India. He rocks. We have some very interesting conversations as we discuss and compare cultures. Today I am going over to his house for some traditional Indian food. Excitement level....pegged.

I know what you are all thinking. A pirate queen from the late 15oos brings John joy? The answer is....perhaps. But the greatest Grania I know is the nearly year old lab/houndog mix laying on my feet as I write this. She is a crazy pup, but really does bring me great joy, even though she likes to get up and pee at 4 in the morning.

I was going to type books, but I thought Literature made me sound more sophisticated. I love books. I love all genres of books. I am currently reading Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Motoring With Mohammed by Eric Hansen, and re-reading The Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi. I recently finished The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck and The Baby Thief by Barbara Bisantz Raymond. Books have always been a fun adevnture for me. There are so many to read, and so little time! I will have to do an entire post of them, methinks.

The Cold Weather
Fun for me, dreaded by most. Suckers.

Season 7 comes out on DVD Tuesday. Feel free to come by Tuesday night and watch it.

I am ending on a cheesy note, but my friends have truly been a fun part of my life lately. Whether it is random trips to the zoo, hanging and watching movies, or just some lively conversations, friends are truly the spice of life.

Well, I just felt the need to show off the joys in my life these days, and these are only a handful.

What kind of fun/joy are you experiencing?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Why Vote?

I have some friends who are really excited to vote.

I have some friends who love Barack Obama.

I have no friends who love John McCain.

I have one friend who loves Bob Barr.

I have some friends who have decided not to vote.

And that, dear reader, is what I take issue with tonight.

Voting, to me, is one of the greatest honors that comes with being born in America. We are a unique and fascinating experiment in government. We are not a true democracy, but we are a country striving to move, as much as possible with the will of the people.

Perhaps we have forgotten that we are an experiment. In the modern world of instant gratification and self centered thought, we tend to think we are the peak of civilization. So did the Vikings. And they had a god that threw hammers. But I digress.

Our experiment is not that old. It is, however, reaching stagnation. And I believe that it is because people have forgotten that this system was set up by a group of people who believed that in order to have a succesful and free nation, citizens MUST be involved.

Our forefathers saw what being complacent and going with the flow accomplished. They saw that when people allow the government to solve all of their problems, they become pawns in that government's scheme to grow stronger.

So the founders fought to create a more perfect union. NOT a perfect union. They realized that a perfect, Thomas More Utopia was impossible. To do this, they worked hard to create a system that worked for them in their time. BUT, they also had the foresight to see that the system would not work forever. So they built, as best they could, tools to change the government to better serve the people as time went on.

Thus, when the country needed to end slavery, there was a way to change the face of the country to do so.

When the country wanted to insure voting rights for all, including African Americans and women, the system was there to allow it.

When it was time to limit the presidency to two terms to keep a single person from gaining control of the office for life, it could be done.

As men returned from the Vietnam War and realzied they could die for their country at age 18, but not vote for or against the people who might send them to die, the Constitution was ammended to give them a voice.

When the country wanted to stop the production of alcohol, it had the means to do so, and when the country realized this was a terrible policy that should never have been implemented, it had the means to reverse it.

As the country has grown, matured, lost and gained ground throughout the world, the ability has always been there for The People to be heard, and the country they live in to be changed.

As we come to the eve of the 2008 elections, I believe that Americans, especially Americans of my generation have forgotten how the system works. Which I thoroughly don't understand because we all had School House Rock to show us how it was done.

We look at the candidates for the two major parties, and perhaps we don't like either of them. We hear about ACORN and voter fraud. We hear about campaign finance scandals. We see our "future leaders" acting like a pack of middle schoolers throwing insults across the the lunch tables. We know that the electoral college is a messed up system that is outdated and needs changing.

And we become discouraged. We begin to believe that it does not matter what we do, because the big money lobbyists, the national parties, the entire political machine is too powerful to stop. We know that true "statesmen" get eaten up in Congress by those with agendas. It all seems too big for us to attack.

So we begin to whisper that we should give up. That we should ignore D.C. and focus on doing what is right in our hometowns. We decide that if we want to change the world, we must hide from the political part and pursue the "grassroots" change.

And to a degree that is correct, but be careful about following the rabbit hole too far. Of course we need to personally fight for the change that we want. Of course we need to change the world around us, even if the political world doesn't listen. The end of slavery, civil rights movement, women's suffrage, union formation, even what little political reform we have had has started with individuals who would not give up on the need to change. But they saw, just like we must see, that for real change to have teeth, it must first be fought for in the streets, then in mass public opinion, then in politics, then CONTINUED on the streets.

It is a long and grueling process. It is painful. It takes too long. And my generation does not like things to take too long. We want our instant gratification. Don't believe me? Watch our face when the computer takes 3 minutes to send a simple e-mail. Damn machines.

Now, how does this all tie in to voting you ask? Thank you, excellent question. We can't change the world this election. No one running will do it. But we can continue to be involved and understand the meaning of the vote.

For those who think that the vote is not that important, I ask you to talk to the Vietnam Vets who came home from war and fought to have a voice. Talk to the African Americans who were blocked from the polls because of Jim Crow laws. Talk to women in Saudia Arabia who have no say in the lives they must lead. Talk to those who live in countries where the choice is vote for the guy in charge or don't vote at all.

Any of them would give their lives to have a say, to feel like, in some small way, they were heard.

I think, in the end, it boils down to laziness and helplessness. If we choose not to participate, we are choosing not to change. It is difficult, it is a fight. If we want to change the party system, the electoral system, the judicial system, it is going to take years. We may not even get to see the change. But to simply leave it, to decide that we will pursue better lives on our own and let Washington go to hell, is the lazy, and the dangerous answer.

And I know, there are many of my fellow Christians who are asking if Jesus would vote. Should a Christian invest time in a worldy system, or just pursue the life Christ told us to. And the answer is, you talk to Jesus and figure that out. I personally think it is far too dangerous to just pursue my God and let the government run itself. I think Corrie Ten Boom would agree.

That's right, I made the leap to the Nazis. I know, I lost some people there, but hear me out. The National Socialist German Workers' Party was able to move as they did because the German people were so disillusioned with the world they lived in that they stopped paying attention. They elected the person they thought would do the greatest good and the least harm, and quickly found themselves in a deadly situation. And there are countless accounts of Christians and non-Christians who decided to just live their lives and not worry too much about the politics. If life improved, or they could find a way to improve the lives of others, then everything would be okay.

But it wasn't okay. And a monster grew. And it could certainly happen again. Primo Levi spent the last years of his life screaming for people to not forget not only that the Holocaust happened, but how it happened. Becuase he knew that with time we would forget, we could become desensitized. And that we could fall into the same trap again.

Barack Obama and John McCain will not be the next Hitler. Biden...maybe. Just kidding. But to decide to not take a stand, to let the power that we DO have slip away is a dangerous precedent to set.

Our system is not perfect., It is absolutely flawed and outdated. There is a better way. But on Tuesday, I say that we continue to participate, And if we don't like it, let's fight to change it. It will be difficult. It will cause tears and pain and frustration. But it will remind us and others that "We The People" have a voice, we just have to get off our asses and find it.

After a comment I received from a wise friend, I feel I need to further explain the lazy/hopeless conclusion. I am not saying that if you choose not to vote you are a lazy person. My friends who are not voting are industrious people, active in the world they live in. I am however, saying that not voting is lazy citizenship. We have a responsibility that goes with calling ourselves Americans. Part of it is to vote and take part in the political system. I say take part, not give all of ourselves to it. As a Christian I try to give my all to God. That does come first. But I also realize that I live within a governed nation, and that I have a unique ability to have a say in that nation. And I believe that it is my duty to do so. So I am saying that, in my view, the hopelessness that comes with being a voter, especially in Kansas, should not be enough to keep us from the polls. Indeed, it should be what drives us to them, and to take the time in the upcoming years to discover how we can have better candidates in the next election.

We can change the world, even the United States without taking part in the political machine. But we cannot ignore that machine. If it gets too powerful, then our freedom to work outside of it can and most likely will be destroyed.

And I want to close by saying that while I feel strongly about this, I do not meant to attack people. We live in a country where you can vote, but also may choose not vote. After Tuesday you will not hear my cries until the next election day. I will not tell you that you cannot have a say in the country because you didn't vote. But I will wear my "I Voted" sticker proudly for the next year.....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

God and Facebook, Who Knew?

I am a chronic loser.

I have lost paychecks. I have lost cds. I have lost the power cord to my laptop.

If I had all of the keys I have lost in my life, I could be that funny little guy from The Matrix.

I have lost my sense of direction, my dignity, even my marbles.

Recently, I lost the ability to process carbs into energy.

Today, I lost my wallet.

And I was crushed. I needed that wallet. I needed the cards of credit inside of that wallet. And, in a few minutes, I will find out if I needed the lottery ticket in that wallet.

I prayed that God would remind where I put it. I prayed that God would lead me to it. I even prayed that God would make it materialize in my pocket.

But it was no where to be found. Thus, I hung my head, and began to call and cancel my important financial plastics. As I waited for my actual credit card to be cancelled, I decided to check my e-mail. Scanning the subject lines, I was trying to decide if I wanted to read my father's latest humor e-mail or a reply from a friend, when something caught my eye. From facebook manager, a message from a man I did not know read, "I think I found your wallet, I can't find a phone #".


My newest facebook friend (I should say he is now my facebook friend, he was not then) had found my wallet in the middle of the road while riding his motorcycle. He stopped, picked it up, and then FOUND ME ON FACEBOOK.

It was amazing. I love the book of face. I do believe that God answered my prayer, and that he did it using a ridiculously cool man and Facebook.

Who knew.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Amazing Grace

Tonight I watched the movie Amazing Grace. If you have not seen it, I recommend you go and watch it immediately. I saw it first in theatres, and I wept at the end. Then I bought it and watched it by myself....and wept at the end. Tonight I watched it again....and wept at the end.

It is beautifully put together, mixing love, God, mission, and calling into a volatile and yet wonderful story.

For those who don't know, it is the story of William Wilberforce and his nearly solitary battle to end slavery in Great Britain. Not that he was alone in his fight. He had many who helped and encouraged him. But he knew that he had been given a gift from God, as well as a mission. And he stayed with that mission until it was completed. For nearly twenty years he had to fight. It literally nearly killed him. But in the end......slavery was finished in Great Britain. It boggles the mind.

The reason I am so passionate about this film is the greatness that is portrayed. Wilberforce fought for something that he knew was greater than mankind or kingdoms. He was quietly accused of sedition. He was thought a fanatic. He was shunned by those in power. And yet, because he knew that God had given him a torch to bear, he persevered. And in the end, he did get to see the end of slavery.

It is interesting to find out though, as I research him more, that his early work only abolished the slave trade. It was not until 1833 (just three days before Wilberforce died, according to that slavery itself was outlawed. The man only saw the gratification of his dreams threes days before going to the Maker that gave him his task. I can only imagine the joy, the ecstasy, the humbling pleasure Wilberforce felt when hearing, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

The movie, and the man, make me yearn for God's direction in my own life. Would that God might find me worthy of a task of such volume. Could I do it? Could I persevere? Could I become so blind to anything else that my need for God's will to be done overcomes my fears and doubts, and I only leap on faith?

I hope so.

Anywho, there is much more I could write about the film, and the man, but I will leave you to watch it. And I encourage you to do so. Feel free to borrow my copy. I will even watch it with you.

Just don't make fun of me when I cry.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Well, Damn

According to The American Diabetes Association, 23.6 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. That is 7.8% of the population.

On Thursday, I officially joined their ranks.

At first, I was crushed. I had suspected it for a week or so, but to hear the doctor actually say that indeed, I was seriously ill, was tough to take. My family has been fantastic, as have the friends I have told.

But it has been a difficult adjustment in thinking.

It has knocked some of the immortality out of me. I have high blood sugar, but the past few days I have found myself feeling frail. I actually was afraid to bump into something earlier today because I felt like I would hurt myself. It is psychological, I know. But I have seen that I am damageable, and at times....not all day, not even everyday, but at times, it makes me afraid to live. It is ridiculous, and I quickly talk myself out of it.

I have had to immediately change the way I eat and drink. There was no final spaghetti dinner, then tomorrow I cut back. There was no one last bomber at O'Malley's, then I start drinking more water and sugar free. It was Thursday morning I could do it (even though I knew it was probably not the best), Thursday afternoon it was all over.

Good-bye Crazy Bread and Gumby's Pizza Rolls. Good-bye rum and coke. Good-bye Apple Pie with too much ice cream. Good bye Simply Pure orange and apple juice.

Now, in truth, I can have any of that....eventually. But for right now, I am on the wagon. I am counting carbs and watching fat and cholesterol. I am drinking diet root beer and passing on the Jimmy John's Gargantuan.

I have to stick a needle in my belly every night. It is a little freaky. It doesn't hurt, but it takes a certain amount of psychological strength to stab oneself in the stomach and force in fluid. The first night doing it I wanted to call a nurse and make him/her do it. Instead I manned up. But it is weird.

Oddly enough, it is harder for me that I have to prick my finger 4 times a day. The needle feels like medicine. The finger prick just feels like masochism. I hold the "lancer" and try to trick myself into doing it without noticing. Then I force myself to bleed. It is pretty much the worst game ever. But so far I am winning.

There were some "why me" moments. There is a strong desire to wake up tomorrow and discover I dreamed it all. There is a tiny inkling that ignorance was bliss, and why did I go get checked?

But then common sense and reality take back over. I am a diabetic. I must watch what I eat and drink, and I must get my body active. If I lose 125 pounds, I can get off the insulin. That is a motivator. If I eat right, watch my portions, exercise more than my mind and clicker finger, more or less live the way I should have been living the last few years, I can lead a fairly normal life. I may even be able to get off the oral medication.

So this is not a very cheery post, but the few readers I have know me, so I hope you know that I am not beaten or run down by this turn of events. As corny as it sounds, your support, even just through prayer, is hugely appreciated. I can climb this mountain, and indeed, will come over the crest a better man, but it is going to be tough.

Damn you Diabetes.....damn you.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Megan Fox

Today, as I went down the magazine aisle at the grocery store, the GQ cover caught my eye. Why? Because there was Megan Fox, staring at me. She had her tongue out, and it looked like maybe just before the photographer shot the picture, she had been eating an asiago bagel with light cream cheese, and a crumb, mixed with the cream cheese, had stuck to her cheek, and she was trying to remove it.


And that's the cover.

This picture both intrigued and deterred me, and I suddenly realized that I am not a fan of Megan Fox. I do not mean personally, because I don't know her personally. Nor as an actress. I have only seen her in one movie, and I loved the movie, so we shall see. No, I mean as a hottie.

I know, the males reading this just decided that the reason I am still single is not because I am waiting for Jessica Biel to call. Hear me me out.....

When I was in college, I had a friend whose mom made excellent, amazing, out of this world rice crispy treats. This friend would sometimes bring me some after she had visited her home. I always got really excited by them. I would take one from the plate, looking it over for imperfections, finding none. Just the right glaze, right size, right amount of rice crispies. I would bite into it, and savour the beautiful flavor.

Except, I would get two bites in and realize that I was not enjoying this masterpiece creation. I would let the other treats go to people who could enjoy the wonder of them. Because I do not like rice crispy treats. I like rice crispies well enough, but the marshmallow goo I just don't like. BUT, I would never remember this until after I had begun to eat them.

Megan Fox is, to me, like a rice crispy treat. At first look, she is hot. Smokin. I get caught up in that hotness. But then, as I really look at her, I realize that she is a great looking lass, but there is something there that I don't like. Again, not in her personality....I don't know her. No, it is just something in the whole look. I start off loving the hotness, but end with the conclusion that she is not my kind of hotness. Maybe it is the eye sparkle that seems unreal. Or the doll like features. I don't know.

So I am sorry Megan Fox, but I am jumping off the loving band wagon. It took me four years to turn down the rice crispy treats, only two to turn from you. I am making progress.

But Jessica Biel is still on the list. As is Rachael Taylor, the Australian girl from Transformers.

In case either of you want to call.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hints of Fall

The last two days we have had hints of the Fall in Manhappenin. The air has been cooler, once or twice even crisp. Breezes bring fresh wind, no longer heavy and burdened with heat and humidity. My air conditioning has been turned off, and the beautiful fresh air of the outside world has come creeping in.

Fall is always a time of resfreshment for my soul. Many people look to Spring for this, but not me. I love the Fall. Leaves change, revealing their true spirit, be it feisty red, loving yellow, or loving fire-orange. The air gets crisp, and breathing becomes a joyful, cleansing feeling.

It is in the Fall that I can stand outside at night, gazing at the stars. The first frost kills the bugs, so I am free to watch without mosquitos, spiders, and all other forms of creepy crawlies finding their way up my legs.....I hate chiggers.

I will no doubt expound on my love of Fall more in the near future, but September has been kind enough to bring with it a bit of the season, getting me ready for it.

Thanks September, you are neat.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Where To?

I love to travel. I love for others to travel. I love to hear about other peoples' travels. When someone says, "I was recently in Rome.", my heart skips a beat and I want to know all that they did.

When I ask you how your trip was, what you saw, what you did, I am not asking for the brief, 2 minute description. No no, I am one of those rare people who really wants to know your story. If you start at day 1 with your luggage getting sent to Paris, Arkansas not Paris, France, then continue with how your life changed on day 5 because of the little old couple that outdanced you in Poland, and end at day 12 with the red-eye flight where you sat next to the man who invented the Pringles can, I am a happy man. If you also tell me about day 2,3,4,6,7,8,9,10....even if you think it was run of the mill, I am ECSTATIC.

Recently I have had some friends travel, and it has ignited the flame within me. So here are some places I want to go. Feel free to join me or list some of your own.

1) Alaska.....backpacking and fishing.....and Moose hunting.....with binoculars
2) Italy.......not just Rome........all over..........fantastic place
3) Brazil.......perhaps to woo a member of the Olympic Volleyball Team
4) Ireland and Scotland.......I have been there before.......but my heart wants me to go back
5) visit friends there.......and learn some history/culture
6) India.......more than Taj.........the people
7) Uganda or Kenya.....completely different maybe both
8) Washington D.C...........I think Wade and Kelley are enough of a draw
9) Washington or Oregon.......hiking and fishing.........and recycling
10) Guatemala..again, been there....but sometimes the Land of Eternal Spring sounds nice

Well, those are the Top 10 of the moment. Where do you want go..........and will you take me with?

Sunday, August 17, 2008


First, I had to look up how to spell rejuvenation. It is a tough word. I read a lot of books, and yet I am the worst speller I know. Maybe I should buy a dictionary and just read that. But then I would know how to spell a plethora of words, and have no knowledge of how they are used in the real world. Quite the conundrum. Which I also had to look up...although I found out I spelled it right so......go me.

Anywho. Lately, I have been in need of rejuvenation. I left my home in Little Rock, moved back to my old college town, and started a new job all in three days. I also joined this job when it was in its busiest season. I also, as mentioned in the previous post, am less than talented at moving. Thus, while I have been in my new home for almost a month, I have done next to nothing in the area of making my house a home. Little decorating, bags everywhere, etc.

My usual ways of rejuv. are as follows.

- Read a book about someone greater than myself, to give me hope at the greatness of mankind.

- Go fishing.

- Volunteer to build something with my work on a Habitat for Humanity house.

- Have a beer with a good friend

- Go on a date with Jessica Biel.

Okay, the last one I have never done. But I am convinced it would rejuvenate me. All of the other "remedies" I tried in the last week....except the volunteer one, which I would have loved to do, but have not had the time.

However, I continued to be drained. I read a fantastic book by an man named Brother Andrew about his work in trying to support the church in the Gaza Strip. His passion for serving God (thank you Karlie for pointing out the misspelling there), his humility in doing God's will at all costs, his drive to never "retire" from serving the Lord, all give me such a rush. I love reading about this beautiful man who has given his life to one purpose: honoring and listening to his Lord.

I went fishing, and though I caught nothing, it was a fantastic day. My company was top notch, two great guys and my puppy. The pup swam for the first time in her life, which probably explains the lack of fish caught, but was worth it to watch her enjoy herself to such an extreme.

I sat down and had a beer with my good friend. He had just been through a very rough few days, and it was good to sit and laugh with him some.

And yet, I was drained.

And my parents were coming to visit today.

I love my parents, and I was excited to see them, but my house was wrecked, and all I wanted to do was curl up and sleep/hide. Instead, my brother came over this morning to use the interenet, and I arose to clean the house. He helped a bit, and I managed to get the kitchen cleaned, the laundry moved, the bathroom scrubbed, and my study somewhat arranged before the 'rents arrived.

And then we sat around and chatted. We went to see my brother's new apartment. My momma and I went to Wal-Mart to get my brother his first groceries and some other necessities (had to look that one up). I snuck a few things, like a banana hanger, in for myself. We drove around and saw the dam, and the lake.

And as I sat down on my couch after they left, I realized that I was finally feeling rejuvenated. I am tired, I still have a great deal to do, but I am rejuvenated from spending time with the crazy family that I love.

That is what family is for. Even when they are "taxing" you, they are giving life to you. Because, at least with my fam, they love you. And to be bathed in that love will outshine even a date with Jessica Biel....but only just barely.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


It isn't until one moves, I believe, that one discovers just how much "stuff" one has aquired. I recently moved back to my college town from Arkansas, and was shocked at how much I had accumulated in one year. I threw away half of what I owned, and yet filled a 12' by 6' trailer with my stuff...and STILL needed more room.

Granted, had I packed better, perhaps I would have felt less burdened.

And when I arrived, it took me three weeks to get my internet set up, and I still can't get the cable to work.

I suck at moving.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

When was the last time you took a walk in the woods?

I don't mean you cut a shortcut through the park. Nor am I referencing a jog through a wooded area because it is cooler in the shade.

I mean this:

You head out your door, leaving behind your cell phone, laptop, ipod, camera, and backpack. You take water. Always take water.

You go to "the woods". Which woods? Where are THE WOODS? Doesn't matter, except they need to be a good click away from the cars, the hustle, nay, even the bustle of your usual world.

You have no time you must be back. You know that you will probably be back for dinner, and at the very least in time for the TBS rerun of The Office, but you don't know if your walk is going to take you 45 minutes or 4.5 hours. And you don't care, because the point of a walk in the woods is not to get a certain amount of exercise. Get your 30 minutes of increased heart rate three times a week action somewhere else. This is about life with no time constraints.

You begin to walk in the woods. Your mind turns to the things you should be doing. Homework, bill paying, calling your mom, finishing your taxes, ending world hunger, starting a blog, eating at Chipotle, cleaning your house, watching your children, etc.

You run out of things to thing about, so you start to look around you. You realize that while you were thinking, you wandered deep into the woods. The light looks different here, filtered by the trees. The path is more rocky, less defined. Shadows are thrown about, creating false images. At first you are startled by the silence, until you realize the world you have entered is less than silent. You hear the birds discussing what their children should have for dinner. You hear the squirrels chattering about the whether this year's acorn harvest will be worth a damn. You hear unknown insects whine and zip as they create a symphony that perhaps only God can truly appreciate, because God can't get mosquito bites.

You listen harder, more attentively, and you hear the trees telling ancient stories, with great pauses and sighs, like old men sitting in a diner. You hear the grass and bushes talking rapidly, ignoring the trees, trying to tell their own stories. And if your lucky, you may even hear the babble of a stream.

You pause at the stream to listen for a while, cooling your feet, letting the tales the trees, bushes, grass, and stream all have to tell you fill your ears and your heart for a while. The stories are old, but they feed the soul, so listen carefully. Your ancestors knew how to listen to the stories the woods had to tell, and if you work at it, you can too.

As you sit by the stream, you notice that the light is putting on a play on the water's surface. It dances here, dances their, now leaping to this rock, now rolling down stream. It reminds you of when you were a kid, and you loved to jump and run from place to place, looking for the best adventure possible. The light winks at you, because that is exactly what it is doing, and now you and it have a common memory.

After a while, you begin your trek back home. Now you are keenly aware of the wooded world around you. The shadows follow you, protecting you, growing big and tough and then shrinking away after each corner is rounded, each hill is climbed.

Perhaps you will begin to understand how those who came before us could believe in fairies, nymphs, fauns, and elves. Perhaps a part of you will begin to believe in them again. With a phone in your ear, an ipod in your pocket, and shut away in a car, it is hard to believe that anything other than the obvious world exists. But here in the woods, in the deafening, busy "silence", you can believe in something a bit more.

And then you come to the edge of the woods. You turn back, part of you longing to return to the stream, to stay in the woods forever. But the "real world" awaits. Dinner must be made, homework done, house cleaned. You stand there, torn. A tree quietly whispers that it is okay, you will be back, the woods will wait. It always has, it always will. So you turn, and as you do, a shadow moves, or was it a fairy, waving goodbye.

You return to your world feeling a little older, a little wiser. You have spent time in creation older and wiser than yourself. And for that, you are all the better.

We can't do it (most of us anyway) everyday. But I know that there are days when I need it, and I suspect you do to. So I ask again....

When was the last time you took a walk in the woods?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


If you were a pirate, what would your name be?

Sunday, July 13, 2008



I recently went to see the movie Wanted. I will admit, a large draw was Angelina Jolie. And Morgan Freeman. For different reasons.

I must say, I truly enjoyed this film. It was exactly what I was looking for. It was not a deep, causes you to re-analyze your life cinematic event. Nor was it absolutely mindless dribble to fill a few hours.

The storyline has been told as long as people have been telling stories. A young man living a boring, droll life who discovers he has a greater destiny. King Arthur had a similar tale. Robert Louis Stevenson loved the thought of the ordinary being destined to greatness. Tolkien, Lewis, Twain, they all told this story. They just didn't have Angelina Jolie covered in tats.....but I digress.

There were two negatives with Wanted. The biggest was the pornographic violence. People didn't just get killed, their heads were blown off. The blood spatter was shown flying from behind heads when they were shot. Some may say that it is in the name of "realism", but I say that it is unnecessary. Shoot someone and they fall. A little blood. Stop the onslaught of gore to make the viewer cringe. We get it, they were shot and shot well. John Wayne did it too, but there were no brains on the wall when he left a place.

The second negative was the sharp Fight Club overtone. From the self narration to the cinematography, I felt as though Tyler Durden was going to come out and beat me up for looking at his wife.....did I mention Angelina Jolie was in the film?

However, those two issues aside, I felt that the film had an underlying understanding of honor and sacrifice. This was portrayed in a way that is often missing in films today.

The main character Wesley, discovers he has been duped, that he has been tricked into killing his own father. He discovers that the very man who trained him to be an assassin is a traitor. (If you haven't seen the film, it is based around a man who is trained to work for a group of assassins that kills people based on anonymous orders. The idea is that they are killing to set balance, not for personal gain.) And then Sloan reveals that in order for the Assassins to truly fulfill their destiny, to stay pure, they would all have to die, as all of their names have come up.

The stage is set. Do the Assassins kill each other, thus proving that they truly believe in what they are doing? They claim they kill those they are required, no questions. But to do that to themselves? This is where the movie could have wimped out. It could have killed off just the really corrupt guys. Or just the ones that decided to compromise. And, it would have been okay. If Angelina's bullet had killed everyone, but James McAvoy had shot it before it hit her, he could have thrown in a cheesy line about fate not always being right, and the movie would have been acceptable. What put it over the edge was that it understood that for a story to be truly great, self sacrifice is the key. Thus, Angelina takes her own bullet as well. Everyone who, in order to uphold the integrity of the organization, had to die, dies.

Sacrifice is difficult. It does not always make for happy endings. I wanted Angelina to live. I wanted her to somehow survive the slaughter. But for the story to be a great one, she could not. The writer of this story understood that, and thus ensured a great tale.

Plus there are rats that are used as bombs, Morgan Freeman as a bad guy, and Angelina Jolie covered in tats getting out of a tub. So it had that going for it too.

All in all, on a completely arbitrary scale of 0 (bad) to 7 (fantastico) haggis (that is correct, on I Dream of Scotland we measure movies in haggis) I would give it 5. 5 Haggis. Don't worry, 7 Haggis is not easy to come by.

I Be Clubbing

Tonight I went clubbing. That's right, for those who know me, don't adjust your screens....I went to a club. In my defense, I went to see my neighbor's girlfriend do a comdy sketch. It did not go well. Think of your typical party club. Dancing, skanky, model thin girls, lots of strange drinks with names like "Running Around Naked On The Beach Last Winter When The Dolphins Swam By And One Got Beached....with a twist". Now insert a half a dozen theater geeks trying to do sketch comedy.

And now you know how my night went.

I observed many fascinating things, all of which I am too tired to write about. But I may soon write about one, all or none of the following observations:

-Girls at clubs are trying way to hard to be noticed while trying their best not to look like they want to be noticed.
-Guys at clubs have an extra level of testosterone that makes them both ridiculous and humorous at the same time
-Comedians all too often seem to substitute vulgarity and shock value for humor
-Girls with multiple tattoos are hot
-Guys with multiple tattoos are not
-Gay guys always get to grab girls in places that if I did it, I would be slapped
-Guys who get drunk and then get loud and obnoxious are not cool
-Tonight I finally heard the song 'I Kissed a Girl" in its entirety.....while watching two girls kiss....
-I hate clubs

Whelp, that is all I have energy for. Oh, and I should note that apparently my pup does not appreciate it when I am out this late. She gave me a very stern look when I came in.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Wanderer

The Wanderer, by Andrew Hay

I love to be on the move. Since leaving home for college, I have not had the same home for more than a year. I have been a resident of West Virginia, New York, Kansas, Scotland, and Arkansas. I am moving back to Kansas. For a year....maybe.
Today, I heard about a job in Taos, New Mexico that would be a blast. And Taos is beautiful. Seriously, check it out. You will want to move there. So I am not going to tell you about the job. Just in case.

I have also wanted to live in Colorado, Scotland, Africa, Guatemala, Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, even Oregon lately (thanks to Bainy).

I love adventure. I love meeting new people, adding new stories to my repertoire. I have a hunger to experience the world.

But lately, that hunger has been tamed by a little something called loneliness. While I yearn to work for an orphanage in Uganda, study religion in Scotland, archive for the American History Museum in D.C., or build Habitat houses across the country, I also yearn for a deeper connection with those I love.

A great friend told me last night that he wanted me to get back "home" where he is, so that he and I can start working ministry together as we did years ago. The thought was tantalizing.

Another great friend in the same evening mentioned that if I don't settle in somewhere I can never expect to get connected, relationally or vocationally.

And it got me to thinking about a thought I had as I watched the sun set over the William Wallace Monument in Stirling, Scotland. As I watched this beautiful moment in an amazing land, I thought about how I wanted to share the experience with those that I loved. I had friends in Scotland, people who I truly cared about, but no one my heart was tied to. I wanted that. I wanted to share my adventure.

I still do. I am returning to Kansas somewhat with my tail between my legs. My Arkansas adventure left me feeling depleted, alone, empty. I have not made the connections here I usually would. I left West Virginia with friends that I contact to this day. New York was the same story. Scotland, most definately. In Arkansas, I will leave behind some great people, but the connection to the area and culture has not been made. The fault is mine.

So perhaps I have reached a point where the Great Wanderer begins to feel his solidarity. Or perhaps I just need to return to my "homebase" and get recharged. I honestly don't know. I still want to go. Still want to keep seeing, experiencing, exploring. I still want to look back 40 years from now and be able to talk about the people I have met, loved, lived amongst. I know that I will still have the itch to move.

What does it mean when the wanderer becomes the lonely wanderer? What does it mean when I can't tie myself to a place, because I am always looking back? Do I want people to support my desire to move, or to tie me down and show me a more stable way of life?

I don't know. I do know one thing. God does know. This is not a cheap cop-out. This is not me saying I will just wait, and listen, and not move until I am sure. The opposite is true. I know that I will have to keep moving, and that the only way I will be happy is if in that movement I am seeking God's plan. God's move. If I am following His path, then I will make the connections neccesary to sustain my joy. Not that I won't be lonely, but that I will at least have a purpose within the loneliness. This may not sound awesome, but it is.

I love to wander. I love to stay on the move. I suspect I always will. At the moment I am a weary traveler, but I suspect soon enough the joy will come back to life on the move. I suspect.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Laundry Day

Our meeting is doomed from the beginning.

I am wearing greasy shorts and a stained t-shirt. She's somehow managed to keep one change of clothing clean to wear during her sojourn to the mat. Did she actually do her hair? I should have at least worn a hat.

She is studying. Math. Not history, which I know. Not science, which I could mock my ineptitude towards. Math. Which I know so little about comment is futile.

Her clothes are in the dryer. Mine are still in the wash. Even in our common need, we are opposites.

Not even my pup can bring us together. She had a lab. It ate the drywall in her bathroom.

Thus I read my paper, disheveled, distant, waiting for time to pass.

She folds her clothes neatly and walks out of my life forever.

Damn you laundry day. Damn you.

Friday, July 4, 2008

This Great Nation

Happy Fourth of July! I hope this post finds you well, and enjoying the celebrations of our great nation!

I love the Fourth. Not for the barbeque, the fireworks, the chance to see Uncle Sam on stilts, or even the all day patriotic country songs on the radio (my favorite is Johnny Cash's "Ragged Old Flag"). Well, okay, I love it for all of those reasons, but I also love it because it is a celebration of what I truly believe to be the greatest experiment in democracy.

On this day, I like to truly reflect on how amazing our country truly is. And as you are here, you can reflect too. I don't think this will be a long post, just a brief discussion of this unique land.

We are a country formed by rebels. Men and women came to this country to start over, to seek new fortune. Second sons who had no fortune or land came to try their luck in a rough country. Persecuted religious groups sought freedom from persecution. America was the land of opportunity, and those who came here, dating back to the Norse explorers, found a land brimming with opportunity.

Then came the moment for freedom. Men who had everything to lose came together to demand a country built on the rights of the people. It is easy today to dismiss them as men who wanted to exploit and get rich by making their own rules. It is easy from our safe distance in history to ignore the dangers that these men faced in declaring their independence. But please do not simply gloss over the fact that by signing and sending the Declaration of Independence, these men damned themselves. To say to the most powerful empire in the world, "We will be finished with you now" took guts, brains, and passion. To condemn their families to years of poverty and death just so that something dreamed up in a stuffy Pennsylvania courthouse could have a chance, ONLY A CHANCE, to come to fruition. To know that failure meant less privilege for the colonies and hanging for the instigators. To know all of this, and to fight on anyway. THAT is an amazing action. THAT is what America was founded on.

And we won. Then America took to the business of building a United States, a unique form of government. Ideas were taken from ancient philosophy, French and English idealists, and even Native American government, but the end result was a new beast.

I could type forever about the way the experiment has gone, what has worked and what has not. The cost, especially to the Native American population of America's success, but I want to end in a focus on what America has always stood for, and why, on this Independence Day I think we Americans need, more than ever, to focus on who we are.

We are a beacon for acceptance and freedom. That does not mean we each individually accept every person and idea that is ever thought. It means that as a nation we accept every different thought. Allow it to try to survive. And, let it die off if it is not good. People groups from all over the world have moved to America to start a better life. Many, upon arrival, found that individual people did not like them. "No Irish Need Apply", "No Jews Allowed", "White Only" are all notices seen in America in the past. And individuals still hate and fight against some of these groups. BUT as a nation, we have created a place where people can have a voice, even if no one likes them.

We have a nation where on can be a neo-nazi white supremacist and openly write or speak about his/her hate. I may despise every word that comes out, but that person can say it without fear of being arrested.

We have a nation where an immigrant trying to start a new life with his family can work, get his child an education, and better himself without fear of being hunted down by those in power. Whether you want the immigrant here or not, this is a nation that gives them rights and shelter, and I am damn proud of that.

We are even a nation where a person can say that they hate the government, hate democracy, hate the President, and wish that the Communists had taken over. And they won't be arrested. Today, all over the world there are countries where expressing even the slightest dissatisfaction with those in power will get you arrested or even killed.

This country has its problems. The experiment at times is running pretty rough. But it is still a grand land where freedom reigns. It is cool these days to bash on America. It is not cool to be an American abroad. It is not cool to be proud of this country. I am therefore not cool. Because I love this nation, I love its promise.

I think to maintain this nation's promise we all must be diligent, well educated and aware of our world. We must know what the rights we need to fight for our, and how we can, within the government set up around us, change what we don't like. I think America can be a beacon to the world again. And this Fourth of July, I just want to say, I will fight like Hell to see that I do my part, and pray to heaven that ya'll continue to do yours.

In closing, I would like to thank any and all service men and women for their part in defending and supporting our country. Your sacrifice and passions keep America safe, keep America running, and should never be dragged through political mud. Every nation must have its honored warriors who keep the people free to live (and blog). You do that for us. Our thanks, my gratitude can never be conveyed here in full, but please know that I am honored to live in a country protected and served by you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Shiny and New

I used to own a 1993 Dodge Dakota. It was maroon and tan. It had an extended bed. The interior was tan. And ripped. And flaking. The bed was chipped and dinged. The beack window did not lash. It had a stolen cd player in it...which I did not steal. The driver's side rearview mirrow was missing.....that was my fault. It had a Scooby-Do bobble head on the dashboard, a present from my brother. It was also missing the driver side window roll-down handle. Also a gift from my brother. Around Scooby was a horseshoe that no one would have thought was special but me, as it was obtained on a trip to a dear friend's grandfather's ranch. My high school graduation tassle, bleached nearly colorless by the sun also hung from noble Scooby's neck. The dashboard was cracked because my "stolen" cd player skipped often, and the best way to get it on track was to hit the dashboard above it. There was a hole in the ceiling material because in high school at Christmastime I would hang mistletoe in the truck in hopes that a girl would think it a cute enough gimmick and kiss me. It worked twice, and they were in the cheeck. The glove compartment was broken, and when I hit a bump, the door often fell heavily on my passengers' knees. My best friend "fixed" the lock with duct tape, which only worked enough of the time to lull my riders into a false sense of safety.

The bed had a black tar substance in it that no person could ever identify....or destroy. Being an extended bed, it was long enough to sleep in comfortably. I know this because I once took refuge in it when visting a friend at college whose dorm was kept at around 90 degrees. And I often napped in it when my brother took piano lessons.

In college, the truck became known as the community moving vehicle. Many a friend came along, needing something that could move his/her belongings. Some didn't even need me. Just the truck. There were days when I myself had no clue where the truck actually was, because someone had taken it to haul a fridge/couch/drum set/cooker. Sometimes it came back with an extra ding or two, or a new scratch, which was most often dutifully pointed out to me, followed by my statement, "Who could tell that one from the million others?".

My philosophy on trucks has always been that they are created to be used. If you are afraid to use them, buy an SUV. Thus the truck was lent to the world with no fear, because it was deemed indestructable. And indeed, for the five years that I drove it, mercilessly asking more of its V6 engine than any man should, it seemed so.

Alas, all loves are not meant forever. The truck finally met its end after a multi-state move pulling an overloaded U-Haul trailer. After a month of having to stop-start and curse it into action every morning, I had to give it up. I sold it to a friend for $300, and called began a search.

And perhaps here is where I made my mistake. I thought to myself, "It is time to grow up and get something real, something nice that people will like." And I did. I bought a 2003 Toyota Tundra. The exterior was spotless. The interior nearly so. It had okay mileage for a Toyota beast. The bed was shorter than I really wanted, but not too small. And the price was good. I fell for it, fell for the allure. Fell for the image of me in a new truck.

But I have discovered something about my nice, shiny object. It has, in many ways, come to change me. A few months ago, I actually stood outside of my truck and admired its beauty. I actually felt myself "bettered" by owning such a symbol of manliness and maturity. In a month, I am changing jobs, and my truck will truly become "recreational". I will no longer use it for work, and I began to envision it as a symbol for my new self. I wanted to get it a topper, Rhino-line the bed. Keep it waxed, shiny, and clean. Retire it from true use, and allow people to see it and love it. I even began hesitating to allow others to drive my truck. I did not want it hurt.

At the same time, I began to decide that it was time to change out my lifestyle. I needed to save up and buy a new TV, mine was too small and I had owned it for years. I needed a new camera, mine does not take pictures that are discernable by man anymore. I needed new clothes, new furniture, some flashy kitchen appliances, and a kickin' sound system. I needed art for my apartment, not just old family pics. My books needed nice shelving, so that they could be presented better. An overhaul was that I was changing into a "growned-up".

Then, somebody backed into my truck. She didn't have insurance. She lied about that. My truck has a huge dent in the back. I was furious. I tried to tell myself that it was cool, it was only a truck, but it had grown to something more. I felt defeated that my thing of beauty had been wrecked. And even though it can be banged out and fixed, I felt that the truck was somehow damaged, destroyed beyond repair.

And then today, I was hauling some lumber to my job site. The lumber was too long for my truck bed, so I stuck it through the rear window and held it as I drove. Then I hit a bump....and cracked the windshield.

My once fantastic truck now has a busted windshield and a dented side. It is dirty and full of tools and building suppied. Some that I work with have started to tell me it is going to end up looking like the old truck. At first this bothered me....

....But then I got to thinking about the old truck. About my truck philosphy. About how freely I loved to hand over the keys to see the people I loved accomplish tasks required of them. I thought about how much more comfortable I was in the Dodge, knowing that, while it was a beat up old beast, it fit me.

And I realized that I had fallen prey to idolatry. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I had. The truck became something to be put on a pedastal, to be revered. Not a tool for life, but a trophy of who I had become.

And that, dear reader, is not me. So, I am getting the truck fixed. I will make it smooth and shiny. I will have the windshield replaced. I may even spring for the truck liner and cover some day.

But I will also give it out freely to be driven by those who need it. I will haul what needs to be hauled, scratches be damned. And when someone returns it to me with scratches, dents, and dings, I will not be discouraged. I will remember that this is what I have always wanted, and love that my big, bad beast of a Tundra can make the world a better place, even if it does come out looking a little worse for the wear.

*Disclaimer* I love my truck. I am blessed to own such a sweet ride. I am not complaining about the actual vehicle, simply the road I allowed it to take me down....

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Katy Katy Perry

*Information on Ms Hudson/Perry obtained from

In 2001 a young Katy Hudson hit the Christian music scene. She sang songs to God and had some popularity. Fast forward to modern day. Katy Hudson has re-invented herself as Katy Perry. Her newest single is "I Kissed a Girl". Needless to say, this is not a song about experimenting with Paul's direction to greet our fellows Christians with a kiss. She has gone mainstream pop, and her song's lyrics state:

No, I don't even know your name
It doesn't matter
You're my experimental game
Just human nature
It's not what good girls do
Not how they should behave
My head gets so confused
Hard to obey
I kissed a girl and I liked it

So, she is on a different path. There are many Christians who find this deplorable. They question how "Christian" she really was while singing her songs back in 2001. I want to know why they jumped straight to that. I want to know why that should affect my opinion of her.

I have not listened to much Christian music over the last several years. Like modern country, and of course, pop, it has become very cookie cutter to me. Christian music has a feel, an image it portrays. And sadly, especially a few years back, it seemed that to be a Christian artist, one had to be portayed as perfect. No blemishes, no sins, no problems, because those listening might see those flaws and follow suit.

So maybe Katy Hudson wanted to be more famous. Maybe she figured out that on the Christian music scene was not going to get her the fame she was seeking. But maybe, with all that, she felt a need to experiment, to search out and answer some questions about herself. And she knew that the Christian population who listened to her wouldcurse her for it.

Here is where I weigh in. I don't doubt her Christianity in 2001. Even if she was kissing girls back then. It is not my place to doubt her. I don't blame her for wanting fame, for wanting to be known. In this day and age, with all the ways we have of being "known" it seems it is what we are all searching for. Some of us start blogs. Others kiss girls and write songs about it. Instead of the Christian community analyzing her old intentions, let's pray for and seek ways to show her ours. I for one may not listen to her music....because pop makes my head hurt, but I will pray that God put people in her life who love her. She may not be living "right". She is most definately a sinner....we all are. So I will ask that God put someone in her life that shows her truly what His love is all about. Not what the Christian community as a whole wants her to be, but what He wants her to be. And if she decides that God wants her to be a pop star, then bless her, sing it on!

In a more broad view, I am tired of the "Christian Community" as a whole. I am tired of James Dobson saying that Barack Obama is misuing the Bible because he doesn't like Obama's actions and speeches. I am tired of hearing that some country or people group is suffering because they have angered God. I am tired of soldiers being asked by Christians if they hate Bush or that they are bad people for serving their country. I am tired of pastors using their pulpits as though they are television stages, screaming out whatever political or personal beliefs might get them on youtube. Rape has become a way of life in Darfur, our homeless are hungry and cold. Children in Africa, all over Africa are starving and/or dying of aids. Girls in America are selling their bodies on Craigslist because they, quote "I wanted to feel loved ... important."( What are we the church doing about that? If they are searching for love online with older men, they are not feeling it from the church. Instead of mocking Hillary Clinton, or screaming presidential candidates names out, or announcing who they endorse, could our pastors please help to understand what God wants us to do for a world that is in real pain? Pray, yes, but act!

Anyway, this is my first real post, and it is as scattered as my mind.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An Experiment in Narcissism

I have avoided the blogger's world for sometime. Thought I should keep my thoughts to myself. I still believe this is a sound policy. Hopefully, I will reserve this for my thoughts on books, movies, and ridiculous rants. Politics, religion, deep thoughts, may creep in here and there, but I will try to save these thoughts for the people I know in the real world. My hubris here lies in the assumption that someone "out there" will read what I write. This is the age of personal pride. I shall proceed under the belief that someone out there cares what I have to say....