Thursday, December 04, 2008

an (too) exciting night

so i'm feeling kind of sick right now. i have whatever head cold is going around now that winter has set in. my roommate has been painting her room, so there's a mattress for her to sleep on sitting on the floor of my room upstairs. last night, as usual, we headed to bed around midnight. i quickly discovered i couldn't breathe at all, laying down, so i made my way down to the reclining couch downstairs.

about 30 minutes later, i hear thudding upstairs. and then roommie appears downstairs, and exclaims, "there's a mouse in your room." oh, dear. i quietly ask, "are you sure? like you actually saw the mouse, its eyes, it's little nose?" roommie confirms that she did actually see the mouse. so she proceeds to go to sleep in her paint-fume infested room instead.

about 30 minutes later, i decide to return to my room. i'm not getting any sleep, and just want to lay down. i'm a little freaked about the mouse, but it's not likely it will end up on my bed, so i should be ok.

so i fall asleep. i wake about 3:00 a.m., having to blow my nose, which i do, loudly. i lay my head back down on my pillow, and hear some noise. uh, oh. so i freeze, thinking that perhaps i can hear where the little mouse is hiding. all of a sudden, "twang!" i hear my guitar string move. that is not natural.

so i flip on the light, and tiptoe over to the window, where my guitar is leaning against a curtain. slowly, i pull back the guitar, looking for the mouse. nothing.

hmm. can it be? is it possible? could the mouse be IN my guitar? so i pick up the guitar & shake it a bit. sure enough, there's some thudding in the guitar that sounds like it could be a rodent.

so i quickly try to figure out what to do. clearly the mouse is contained, for the moment. so it would be good to get the awful critter out of my room. but what to do next . . . ? how do i get it to stay in there until morning? or how do i get it out in a place that's not in my house?

so i walk downstairs to roommie's room. i open the door. "ah, the mouse is in my guitar. what do i do?" awakening from a dead sleep, roommie very rationally suggests that i take it outside & dump it out. so i set down the guitar, put on my coat. at this time, dog decides that he would also like to go outside. so he jumps down from roommie's bed, and plants himself by the door.

so i'm putting on my shoes, stepping out onto a little porch, trying to open the outside door, close the inside door, let the dog out, and hold the guitar in my hand. all of a sudden "plop!"... the mouse jumps out and runs down a little hole in the porch.

i return to roommie's room and say "the mouse has taken this opportunity to jump out of the guitar." and proceed to let the dog out, where he romps in the snow.

i make it back to bed by about 3:30. the next morning, roommie asks, "was i imagining it, or did you come to my room in the middle of the night and tell me the mouse was in your guitar?"

yep. sure did.

Friday, November 07, 2008

to walk with the outsider

Peter Rollins visited the emergent village community in my city this week. i went and observed and listened to the things that were said. Peter told a parable that he said a friend of his had dreamed. it went something like this.

the friend died. as he was walking up to the pearly gates, he had to walk past a bunch of people who he knew. they were his friends on earth, people he'd met in the pub, people he spent time with, people he loved. he walked up to St. Peter, and Peter found his name in the book of life. "You can enter," Peter said. the friend asked, "what about these people?" and pointed to all his friends and acquaintances. "They have to stay out here," Peter said. and the friend replied, "well, then, i think i'd rather stay out here too." the friend awoke, and as he did, he swore he saw St. Peter smiling, and heard him saying, "finally, someone gets it."

Peter speaks of this parable as a great picture of what it means that the church is supposed to run after the poor, the forgotten, the neglected, the outsiders. but most of the time, the church exists only to perpetuate itself.

as Peter shared this story and his commentary with the group, there were a lot of interested faces. a lot of murmurs of agreement or exclamations that this is a good picture, that these are good thoughts. but as the parable was discussed, there was no talk of action. we did not ask how to run after the outsiders, how to reflect the incarnation in our own churches, in our own communities, in our own families, or even within the emergent community. instead, we engaged the idea at an intellectual level and left it there, where it was safe and warm and harmless.

a little more than a year ago, i left the church. and this is the reason why. in the new testament, church looks a lot more like a refuge for people who are worn down and weary from their interaction and engagement with the world. instead, we have turned it into something that exists for ourselves, for our own growth, for our own spiritual edification, for our own comfort, for the education of our children, or for our intellectual development. it is not a place that we come to be equipped with God's armor so that when we leave to enter the world we have the strength of the body surrounding us.

but we have been called to love our neighbors. to love neighbors who don't know God. to love neighbors who do love God. to love prisoners and orphans and widows. to love single parents and welfare families and drug dealers and pimps. to love the homeless mentally ill man who walks down the street asking for our spare change. we have been called to love the outsider and the one who is alone.

i left the church because there is no longer any place for me within those walls. in pursuing my calling to pursue and love the outsider, i actually became an outsider.

if only that hadn't been necessary. if only there existed a body of believers that exists, not to perpetuate a system or an institution, but to encourage the members of the group in their pursuits of mission and redemption in the world. maybe someday there will be. but it will not happen until we cease to engage at only an intellectual level the idea of mission and begin to put our hands and feet to work in the world.

until then, that's where you'll find me--putting my own hands and feet to work in loving and pursuing the outsider.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

it seems to me that the first year of home ownership must be the most adventurous. it certainly has been for me. perhaps in years to come i will be met by adventure after adventure, but i somehow doubt that anything will be as interesting as this first year has been.

take the winter for example. how does one shut off the water to outside so that the pipes don't freeze? i have no idea. my dad was visiting in November, and he tried, but was unable to shut the valve he guessed was connected. so perhaps the pipes will still freeze & explode.

speaking of pipes... some of my pipes did freeze this winter. one particularly cold day, my roommate suddenly realized that the washer was not working properly. a few days later, the water was once again running smoothly. and then about a week later, both the hot and cold water pipes seemed to be frozen, and the dishwasher was no longer getting hot water. after that time, i started running the water occasionally through the washer & dishwasher, even when i wasn't actually washing something, just to make sure that the pipes weren't freezing. and then i investigated a little bit further & learned that the pipes run through a very cold closet. after opening the closet door, within 30 minutes the pipes had all unfrozen. and that's how i outsmarted the house and the freezing cold weather. score one for the newly minted homeowner.

and then there was the time when i decided to stay up late & put together a kitchen cart (with butcher block top--like adding an extra cabinet/island to the kitchen). so i opened it all up, got out the parts, and was going through them, when i discovered that they gave me an extra packet of one type of nuts & bolts, and failed to give me the allen wrench and the screws for the first part of the project. so i decided to go to the store to get some replacements. at this time of night (11 p.m.) there is not a hardware store open, so it was off to the regular grocery/all-in-one store.

do you know how many different kind of screws there are? and do you actually know how to figure out what 5/32 x 3/4 means? because i didn't, when i went to the store. i learned thereafter. i spent 1/2 an hour looking for screws. there were 5/32 x 2 inch screws, but those were too long. there were 8 x 3/4 screws, which were the right length, but without the appropriate head size. hmm... there were no 5/32 x 3/4. so then i thought some more, and approximated what i thought might work. and i got two different kinds--one the appropriate length & one a more comparable head size. but of course, being 11:00 p.m., i got the wrong number. so when i got home i had to use some of each. thankfully, they both worked fine. score another for the homeowner. except that a few hours later i also dropped the butcher block top on my foot. no worries though, i managed to get it together in the end.

if that is not enough, there's the adventure of snow and ice. i have quite a long sidewalk, and a driveway that goes up a hill into an alley. it's impossible to get up the hill unless you get a running start from the garage. and the garage door opener got lost the one time when my roommate ran into the garage door, so altogether the getting in & out of the house is always a good time.

ooh... and then there's the 28 year old hot water heater. still plugging away providing hot water for all. but what about that puddle underneath? is that a leak, or just condensation from the cold water as it gets heated up? the jury's still out on that one, but we think it's just condensation.

so there you go. winter home ownership at its best, at least for a newbie like me. and that's what's been keeping me busy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

changes afoot

i have done a substantial amount of thinking about my future these past few weeks. i have come to several conclusions.

first, i want to change the world. with God's help, i intend to do so.

for me, the manner and means to this goal is the practice of law. law is a mission in itself as it allows me to help change lives in individual cases. it is the means because it provides me experience and gives me the knowledge and the platform to seek systemic changes. and ultimately, it is the systems i want to see changed.

i have been the mentor, the pastor, the cheerleader, the coach, and the advisor to many oppressed individuals. and while it made a difference, i could not hope to solve the problems that worked together to cause oppression.

and so i have a dream--or maybe it's a plan. i am going to build a law practice. i don't know that it will be entirely conventional, but i see it as essential to my overall goals. i will never advocate change which i do not believe to be inherently practical and workable in real life. with the rest of my time i will develop my non-profit and pour out my life and energy challenging the systems that oppress, and challenging and mentoring the coming generations to use their tremendous wealth, knowledge, and abilities to see these changes made.

i don't know that it will work. it is a risk. but the idealism of youth has stuck with me, and i will not be satisfied with less. and so i'm quitting my job with the venerable courts of my state, and i will begin this idealistic, but perhaps not totally unrealistic journey toward justice.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

a new year

happy new year! so i've clearly abandoned the blog, unfortunately. life has snowballed into an unmanageable amount of activities, and after writing for my job and editing papers, and working non-stop, i have not wanted to write often.

on November 21, 2007, i was sworn into the practice of law. i'm working too much. i work 40 hours a week at the courts, then teach a writing class, grade for another class, and now tutor bar exam preparation students... in my spare time, i'm still developing the non-profit organization that was formed this fall. i'll be recruiting interns for the summer and we hope to begin our first big research project within the next few months. so the days and nights are flying by. i'm hoping and praying that i'll be able to make a transition in my job to be able to work fewer hours and to have a more balanced life. i should know about that within the next month or two.

anyway, if i have any readers left out there, i hope you all are doing well, and that 2008 is another great year.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

really delayed life update

i passed the bar exam... yay! last night i had a bonfire where i burned up all my old bar exam study materials. it was quite a sight to behold. there were a few times when i was afraid that some of the papers were going to blow away and start a forest on fire. it took at least 2 hours to burn all the paper. i had some great friends there to help me celebrate. so i'm done. i never have to go to school again. nice to know, though i'll probably study again eventually.

in other news, my heater's circuit board is shot. during the bar exam, you may recall that i was attempting to move and teach classes, etc. so as i was switching over my accounts, i signed up for an appliance service plan. you can't get out of it for a year. total rip-off.

or not. turns out for me, it will be quite a lot cheaper to pay the $20/month for 12 months than to pay for a service call on a Sunday & a new circuit board.

so my bar-exam stupor/stupidity has turned out to be a blessing, after all.

and tomorrow's Veteran's Day so i don't have to work. instead, i'll be meeting with a former professor attempting to get the non-profit's 501(c)(3) paperwork completed. one day at a time, i guess

Saturday, September 22, 2007

belated life update...

so i finally joined the adult world, i think. i bought quicken and have worked out a budget, etc. i've never really had to do that before. actually, i started the budget and keeping track of spending earlier this month, but found that excel was not working for me. quicken is quite amazing--way more functions and features than i know what to do with. and it's not organized in a linear way--there's stuff all over the place. so it's going to take me a while to find everything and be able to get it down.

so... i'm trying to pay off my debts quickly. i think i could have all school loans and house paid off in 10 years. so that's going to be the goal, i think. we'll see how it goes.

and that, my friends, is all i have to report. i've been working like crazy at work, at teaching, and at forming the non-profit. i have the bylaws done, and need to get together the first board meeting. today i'm going to a local university to see a movie on justice & to try to network with students who are impassioned about justice. other than that, it's one day after another, passing by so quickly that it's all a blur.