Monday, August 30, 2004

you registered to vote?

i was deputized last thursday to register people. i'll have the cards handy; you can expect your voter registration card in the mail within thirty (nonbusiness) days of filling it out!


listening to the NPR coverage of the republican national convention. apparently the television networks aren't covering this at all.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

i can't stop.

Friday, August 27, 2004

they look sweet, but after thirty minutes of manning the stand with no customers (several neighbors drove by -- the kids jumped up and down screaming "juice and water!" at the drivers we could just make out talking on cell phones behind the dark tinted glass of their mercedes and jaguars and lexi) they got a little cranky. their 16-year-old neighbor came by just as we were about to close up shop and paid about $4 in change for some kool-aid in a blue plastic cup. (she tips well!)

this left us just enough time for quick baths, a couple rounds of hide and seek, books and storytelling and back scratches before bed.


i was reading articles on narnia in the den (it's in the same wing of the house as the kids' rooms) when chase woke up scared. he's really concerned that someone is going to break into their house and hurt his parents, and while he's certain that he could protect his family with his martial arts skills, what if he had a gun?

we talked about his safety (he was concerned that the house alarm isn't turned on when i'm there), i offered to close the front gates, explaining how unlikely it is that a robber would climb over the gate and steal some stuff -- can you see someone trying to get your mom and dad's tv over that ten foot wall?

oh, but shnn -- we have a lot of money here.
i looked at him puzzled. you do?

yes -- my dad has a hundred dollar bill in his wallet

and i hugged him and reassured him that he was safe. we talked about banks and how much money they have (do you mean they have stacks of hundred dollar bills?? do they have gold in there?) and police and why people steal from others.

and then he asked me
what would i do if i was on a street alone, just me, and a bad guy with a gun grabbed me and said he would hurt me if i didn't take him to my parents?
chase started to cry. what would i do?

i tried to stress how unlikely that situation is to occur, but that it was an interesting, frightening question to ask oneself. and i asked if he'd shared these concerns with his parents.

he promised that he would tomorrow.


Monday, August 23, 2004

cooking chili, watching bjork videos and struggling with internet access at my house. i'm currently online periodically thanks to one of my neighbors' wifi.

i blogged in word a little on my vacation, before a tree limb smashed into my car, mom's neighbor made me uncomfortable and beringer and i hightailed it back to dallas.

so, uh, here you go:

Tuesday evening, after 10PM

I got in tonight and realized that I had nothing to eat (mom’s freezer is filled with meat and ice) -- so after I got beringer settled in I traversed the expanse of Onalaska Bridge and miles of road to the super wal-mart so I could purchase a bell pepper and some whole wheat pasta (which they had!) to make spaghetti with the ingredients I brought along.

unfortunately, their dvd selection did little to rival mom’s AND they had not a single inflatable raft. I’m uncertain where I’m going to go to obtain one (I may hit one of the convenience stores, the bright gas pumps and signs and lights interrupting the waves of sloped ground and conifer trees -- see if they have a lead -- else I’m heading Huntsvilleward)….

I got a little freaked in the store. bad lighting, garish over-advertising, teenagers congregating (hey, everyone’s at wal-mart!) -- it’s the place to go to. how is it that Wal-Mart has co-opted the rural life? it’s so damn pretty here. why don’t they meet at the dam or the waters’ edge somewhere? in someone’s backyard, the trees and hills around?

somehow wal-mart has convinced people that socialization has something to do with spending money.

I realize that it wasn’t long ago that I lived in a small town and went to the walmart or winn Dixie to socialize. how narrowly I escaped an existence that consists of that…

off to read a bit, mr cat tucked into the corner of the loveseat nearby.

Wednesday morning, 8:17AM

Last night, when the a/c clicked off I could hear the gentle lap of water against the bulkhead outside, punctuated now and then by the sound of a car swooshing around the bend of two-lane road at 70+MPH. The traffic sound was somehow comforting -- it reminded me of home. I don’t mind living near I-30 at all, especially when it’s rained and the travel sounds are magnified by constant displacement of water.

Beringer has discovered the squirrels outside.

About to dive into some writing as I anticipate this afternoon’s sun.

I can’t believe how nice it is out. I’m sitting on the shaded deck this morning. I just spotted a turtle out in the water. beringer is slowly exploring the deck. soon he’ll go beneath it and I’ll begin to worry and attempt to woo him back up. (maybe mom’s abundant meat will come in handy!).

Thursday morn, 8:52AM

Yesterday a big storm came through.

Friday morn, 4:18AM

Can’t sleep. Listening to Leonard Cohen and playing with beringer.

Past the deck, across the lake, storms strike the sky with periodic flashes of light. Occasionally torrents of droplets pelt the house, the picnic table, the porch swing, the trees, my car.

this vacation isn’t without its casualties.

the afternoon storm delighted me with the thundering patter of raindrops on the house’s front windows, the lake temporarily an ocean, waves breaking on the deck.

during the course of nature’s display of power and beauty, a branch from the pine tree out front cracked loose and tumbled windward right into the hatch of my Honda insight.

little pieces of green breakaway glass with black defrost lines littered the ground, collapsed into the back of my car.

thank the lord for the asshole licentious neighbor with a shop vac and duct tape.


the best part of the week: the mornings.
beringer and I woke up around 7:30. I fixed some tea and we went out on the porch, alone and happy in the quiet of the morning. I’d drag out my laptop and write until the battery gave out. I’d like to work that into my regular schedule -- waking early and writing. I should try the courtyard downstairs.


the spiders here are tiny and white, and they build their webs with astonishing speed. I disrupted one’s web to sit in my customary morning seat and she’s spinning a new one like crazy.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Sunday, August 15, 2004

butterfly crawl

i spent the evening with the squires children yesterday. during the course of the evening's play, i mistook one of their swim strokes as the "butterfly crawl." and, no kidding, just then two incredible butterflies fluttered across the pool's expanse, settling on one of the open orange flowers in the poolside planter.

the yelling, splashing and laughing subsided, slipping into the hush of the trickling water sounds as we watched.

chase looked at me, electric blue goggles a crown on his head.

did we make that happen?

and then annika laughed and loud outside-voice-hollered butterfly crawl?....

and the joyful exuberant play commenced,

a sacred moment bookended by laughter, fun and reunion.

Friday, August 13, 2004

inspired this evening.

the cats are playful.
berkley just fell off the bed.
the plant i bought last week has

doubled in size.

it's time for repotting, but

now that i've sat down with the intention of writing, it's time for
procrastination's end.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

i'm still immersed in made in america.

ostensibly the book is about the etymology of american english (language is always a topic of interest for me), but this really just sets the stage for a witty, brilliantly written (hodgepodge) history of the united states. a quick skim over the first few paragraphs incensed some friends to demand that i immediately loan them the book -- it's that good.


i often imagine future imprints for our publishing company. i would love to do a series of textbooks written by authors like bryson -- history delivered as a string of stories, written with wit and humor. do away with didactic course text!


just a quick thought. time to go make some books.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Sunday, August 08, 2004

dan sent this link yesterday.

it immediately made me think of an incident that took place in the burger king parking lot one freezing night in december.

it was finals week, and i'd gone for some food around two in the morning (this was pre-veggie, so i likely ordered a whopper jr with french fries and a coke). a man stood at the drive-thru entrance, and waved at me as i approached. despite the cold, i had the window down (for smoke redirection purposes).

so i was a little nervous (mom instilled in me a fear of strangers in deserted dark parking lots) but i prepared to give him some change. turns out he wasn't asking for money -- he just wanted a hamburger and they wouldn't let anyone order via the drive-thru on foot. he tucked a crumpled wad of ones in my hand and asked me to get him a #7 with a sprite, which i happily did.

thing is, as i gave him his change and the bag of food, he thanked me profusely and said "you know, i can tell you're a christian."

i hesitated for a second, and then nodded and smiled, probably told him to stay warm, etc.

and for the first time in the infancy of my agnosticism i didn't resent it when someone used "god bless!" as a farewell.


see, what he meant when he used those words was not what they'd come to mean to me. what they meant to the christian groups on campus, what they meant to my family.

i didn't know it at the time, but he was right. (i had a good few years of bitterness to work through before i could properly respect what jesus had to say). when he said i was a christian, he was not suggesting that i was "saved by the blood of the lamb", that i was heaven-bound, etc. he wasn't talking about a state of being... rather it had something to do with doing.

it's an understanding of the concept that i don't see in play too much. (in my experience, congregations are seldom encouraged to give unless there's a new fellowship hall to build or they're being guilt-tripped into tithing).

i'm talking of a christianity that i respect. the kind that my dad does (all of his work raising money for "missions" makes more sense right now as i think of it. or his volunteering to take mentally ill people to church every week (think children's bus ministry, but it's a ton of crazy adults packed into dad's minivan)... you know, or him taking homeless people into his home even though they tended to steal from him.)

i guess the distinction between christian and... well, not christian really isn't important for me*. it's more about the kind of person someone is -- the way they live out the life that's been mysteriously given to them. i privilege compassion, love, charity, ethics, honesty (both with the self and with others), faith, chance-taking, communication, forgiveness, sincerity... if someone can live these ideals, it matters not which sky-king they believe in.

one of the reasons brandon is my favorite person is that he exhibits an incredible gentleness towards the world and himself. even as people deal out pain, he responds in love.


apparently that burger king parking lot is a hotbed of religious conversation.

my freshman year a friend and i went on a post-party taco bell/burger king run (him being the most sober of our group and needing a friend to accompany him). somehow the topic of whether or not we would ever "date" (i'm not sure what the couplings that tended to occur in college should be called) came up. i remember telling him quite simply that that wasn't an option, since he was an atheist. and he responded similarly, saying that my christianity was definitely problematic.


his response confused me. i wish i'd asked about it at the time. i'd been conditioned to consider no unchristian suitors (the verse about being "unequally yoked" was given as evidence) -- but why would he respond as such? did he worry that said girlfriend would proselytize and make his life hell? did he fear being pressured into attending a boring sunday service in an over-air conditioned sanctuary? was he bitter and avoiding all things xian as i was soon to be?

it's strange, because a good few years later, he seriously dated a woman named cathy. (i remember waking up after a night of crazy partying at the ftp, eyes squinting at the bright light while i sat on the porch swing and lit the day's first cigarette. she breezed through the front door, across the porch and front lawn to her car in a blue dress.)

(hungover confusion)where are you going?
(a pause and a smile)to church!


*i actually think this distinction serves little purpose... it implies a binary of "those with faith and those with none". it's one of the reasons i stopped using the word atheist to refer to myself. it allows for a too narrow interpretation of myself (and plays right into the hands of others' easy binary-based understanding of faith and life (e.g. "christian vs not") -- where i fall into the "not" category, forcing me to describe myself in relation to them. to their faith.)

one of the highlights of the emergent convention is my discovery of some language that better describes what i believe. it's one of the gifts that caputo has given me through his writings and lectures.

i'm finding that more and more there are aspects of my life that are difficult to label or describe in one conversation. my faith. my tattoo. my relationships.

i think that's a good thing. i'd rather be dealing with the tough, complex things. i'd rather live the indescribable.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

'Dead zone' spreads across Gulf of Mexico

Some American farmers who live in the south use nitrate-based fertilizers. These fertilizers end up in the Mississippi River, which runs right down to the gulf. The aquatic plants are subsequently affected, functionally changing the ecosystem (creating a "dead zone" that is uninhabitable by fish... or sharks.)

Humans only seem to give a shit when these changes drive sharks to the gulf coast, where they occasionally bite people.
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