Oct 25, 2007

Blackberry Prayers

I realize that I'm probably not in a position to make demands, but if
you really want me to pay attention then you are going to have to
speak a little louder.

The whisper just isn't cutting it anymore.

Oct 19, 2007

Of the Moment

BOOK: Word Freak by Stefen Fastis. This is complete brain candy, but it's pretty funny in places and at the moment it is making me feel good about myself because compared to these OCD competitive Scrabble players, I have absolutely zero weird idiosyncrasies.

MUSIC: I'm really taken right now with the the song Jesus the Mexican Boy by Iron and Wine. It is one of the oddest, yet most authentic stories of grace that I have heard .

LONGING: A nice long walk, in the woods. I feel like I need to get out of the city for awhile. Actually, a good hard trail run would be even better than a walk. I feel like I just need to go.

HAPPY: With my job right now. I'm in a place where I'm able to excel professionally without selling them my soul.

HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE: That the khaki carpenters pants have won the title.

Oct 18, 2007

simple like it was

I was 18 and walking down 3rd street at 2AM singing at the top of my lungs, with no one around to hear me. I sang like I knew what I was talking about. It was utterly simple.

Oh God you are my God,
and I will ever praise you.
I will seek in the morning
and follow you all of my days
and step by step you lead me
and I will follow you all of my days.

Later that year I learned that I, in fact, did not know what I was talking about. So I tore down the structure that I had built, and I started over.

The thing that I rebuilt took a long time to construct, but it just got too big.

So I'm in the middle of tearing it down again. This time, the teardown isn't simple. I have built such a complicated web of systems and theories and dogmas and . . . crap, that it may take a full scale wrecking crew to tear it down. It is coming down though. Simplicity is on the horizon. I can see it. Tonight I even heard it for a minute, in my own house. With the door closed and no one to hear, I almost felt like I knew what I was talking about.

Oct 17, 2007

Train Prayers

Creator King,

Let this day be simple, so that I might understand.

Thanksgiving is due, but I am slow to give it. I'm struggling to draw
lines between human and divine and where they intersect or if they
even do and I ask that you be patient with me.

Oct 15, 2007

Billy Madison meets Annie

I've been reading this book of poetry by Annie Dillard. It's called Morning's Like This and it is a book of found poems. Found poems are ones that are created using lines and phrases and words that you find around you. Maybe on a billboard or from a newspaper headline. There are several variations of found poems, but Annie uses whole sentences. If, for example, a poem has seven lines, that means that she took seven sentences from seven different sources and put them together to create the poem. She, as the poet, just arranged the sentences, she didn't write a word of them. Here's a short example of Annie's work.


There are many colors and they are all moving,
Moving. Color should flow over the face.

Brilliancy is going toward color, not white.
Color and warmth are coming into our lives.

Lest this turn into an excruciatingly boring post about poetry, I'll go ahead and make the tie into Billy Madison. I want found poems using Billy Madison quotes. For example:


When I fell I just broke my leg,
and now you're all in big, big trouble.

Lady you're scaring us!
I've been physically abused in the ear,
do you have any more gum?

That one kinda sucks . . . so whatcha got?

Oct 14, 2007

Newly obsessed with

-Dashboard Confessional has been popping up a lot on my Pandora
rotation lately. I need.

-The lasagna that the wife princess and I made last night. We are the
next Iron Chef.

-Annie Dillard. Ok so this isn't new. I've been re reading "Pilgrim at
Tinker Creek" this past week on the train, and it's just fresh and
different and better everytime I read it.

-I am a walking rebuttal for all of the media goons who are all over
the Chicago Marathon organizers. It was hot, it's a marathon and
people weren't prepared. Tragic, yes. One person's fault that it was 90
degress in the middle of October? Hardly.

-In other news: I threw away my favorite pair of jeans today. The holes
had reached a point where the breeze was blowing in places where there
just shouldn't be a breeze. There are several pairs of jeans and one
pair of kahki carpenter's pants currently competing for the newly
opened role of "favorite pair of pants."

Oct 13, 2007

The movie in my mind

Call it vanity if you want. I choose to think of it as an over active imagination.

I didn't grow up in a place where people used public transportation. Heck, I didn't grow up in a place where there was public transportation. I remember when my grandmother, who had spent her adult life in New York City and Tampa, Fl, moved to our small town in Indiana. She couldn't drive because her eyesight was bad and she wanted to know the number of a cab company so she could go to the store. I was 12 or 13 and I remember looking at her like she had 3 heads. "A cab?" I thought. "A cab? We don't have cabs here." In my mind taxis and buses and subways and commuter trains were only for the movies, which all took place in big cities.

Now. I ride a train every day to work. I get on at 7:22 in the morning and get off at 7:48. I then walk 4 minutes to my building, get in the elevator and go up to the fourth floor. I sit down at my desk and turn on my computer and go get a cup of coffee. By the time I get back to my desk my watch says 7:58 and I am 2 minutes early and I start to work. I'm living the opening scene of a movie.

I think about it all the time. I imagine that someone is watching me pace through the day through a viewfinder and that I had better lend them my MP3 player so that they know what the soundtrack to my day should sound like. Right now it sounds like the autumn mix that James made last year. Specifically, Night's Sorrow by Becoming the Archetype.

Sometimes, when I get a window seat on the train I lean back with the soundtrack to my movie playing in my ears and can see my reflection in the window and I can see the city out on the other side of the window and I wonder what that screen shot would look like. I wonder what the camera would see with my face, the reflection of my face in the window, and the city beyond the window all in the same shot. Which would be the focus? Me? or the city outside slowly slipping by.

I think in the morning, when I'm on the way to work that that scene would be the best for the intro to the movie. All of the movie watchers would be seeing me for the first time and they would hear the same soundtrack in the theater that I have plugged into my ears on the train and I hope that they would feel the same thing that I do on the train, on the way to work, passing my days as a person who breathes on this planet. Since the movie is just starting they don't really know anything about me yet, unless they read a preview, so they might be trying to figure me out. What's my name? Where am I from? Where do I work? Am I married? Do I have any friends? Am I gay? And then I get to work and go through all of that routine and the soundtrack fades and the dialog begins.

At the end of the movie I'll still be on the train, but this time I'll be headed home. Sitting back in my seat, buds in my ears, the soundtrack for the trip home should be Iron and Wine, maybe singing Jesus the Mexican Boy, because I really like that song. This trip is different than the ride to work, because now the movie watchers have had the whole length of the film to get to know me, and they've heard me talk and they've met my friends and they know that I am in fact, not gay. I'd like to think that maybe they are a little sad that I'm headed home because they really enjoyed the movie and getting to know me, but now it's almost over. The soundtrack can keep playing while I get off the train and walk the two blocks to my 2 flat. The autumn wind off Lake Michigan will make me hunker down inside my jacket when I cross Ravenswood St., and then I'll turn the corner onto my little city street, unlock the door and go inside. And that will be it.

Call it vanity if you want. I choose to think of it as an over active imagination.

Oct 12, 2007

To Explain the Title . . .and thus the point

The man that I'm loosely named after was a teacher. He could have just as easily been a stage performer. Doc is one of the most charismatic people that I have ever known, and even in the lessons I took with him long after old age had stolen his prime, I could see it. I could see the passion that made my Dad walk out of his lectures feeling like maybe there was some genuine hope and maybe, just maybe, we weren't all crazy after all.

Doc lectured in circles. He didn't think in a linear fashion and so he didn't teach in one either. This was never more evident then when he turned to the blackboard. Even after whiteboards and Power Point made their way into lecture halls, Doc still dragged a blackboard with him everywhere. I don't know why. He would begin a lecture by drawing a giant circle on the black board and then in rapid fire succession he would fill that circle with words, notes, phrases and then in a way that you had to see to believe he would tie them all together and before you could get it all down, he had erased the circle and it's contents and drawn another empty circle to fill. The old man could go on like this for hours. If the class period was up and he hadn't yet made his point he would look at the clock and say "Well I guess you can go, it's no big deal . . . it's only man's place in the scope of Creation that is at stake." And everyone would smile, and almost no one ever left. He could talk for hours because people were willing to listen.

By the end of a class period, the board was a mess. More gray than black, the thick layer of dust left a perpetual haze over the palette that he had cleaned so many times. No matter how hard you tired to erase the board, you could never get it clean. Sure, it would come clean enough so that you could read what he had written with his fresh stick of chalk, but the remnants of lectures past were always up there, refusing to go away, lending their own quiet voice to whatever the topic of the moment was that had the present honor of being clearly scripted.

And that is how I'm seeing life right now.

I'm cleaning a lot of things off my palette. I really wanted to stay away from the cliche of the clean slate, but there it is. Jeff says I'm purgating and I'm not really sure what that means, but I think it may have something to do with getting rid of stuff. That makes sense, because I've been realizing a lot lately that I have been carrying some beliefs around, and holding on to them really tightly, that I don't think are true. It's been hard to admit that things which have been an inherent part of who I am for so long aren't what I thought they were, but it feels kinda good to let them go.

Of course, we're talking about blackboards here; and not brand new ones. We're talking about a blackboard that is staring 34 dead in the eyes and has had plenty of circles, ideas, dreams, and lectures written upon it. A lot of them have already been erased. A few are still up there that will be erased soon. For every one though, that has been erased, a thin film of chalk has been left. By now, my blackboard is pretty hazy. It is my past refusing to completely disappear, always lending its own voice, reminding me of where I came from and what I used to be. And that makes me happy. I'm standing back and reading the pages of my life like a dirty chalkboard and eventually, maybe one day, the layers of the past will be so thick that the presently honored script doesn't seem so important.

I think I'm going to keep purgating. It feels good to lighten the load. It helps me see better, hear better, and in some weird way, be better. In reality, I'm not getting rid of anything, I'm just re-arranging chalk dust.