Tuesday, November 29, 2011

100th Post of 2011, Wind, and My Homage to U2

I don't know whether to be proud or ashamed, but this is my 100th blog post of 2011. So, there's that.

What was with the wind yesterday? I could almost picture Dorothy clutching Toto and wrenching uselessly on the cellar doors. Although I remember thinking, even as a child, there was no way that window would have knocked Dorothy out. The thing barely even touched her! Sync up the video to 1:48 and tell me that I'm wrong:

As many of you know, I am no big fan of U2. I think much of their music sounds the same, and the cynic in me think sometimes their view of saving the world seems like consumerism of a different sort (the RED campaign or the Louis Vuitton ads). Also, why then we must pay upwards of $100 to go to a concert to hear about poverty? Granted, it is more than most rockers do, and I do have respect for Bono being outspoken and trying to do some good in the world. Yet, it really is the music that doesn't do much for me. But, I will say there are three U2 songs that I not only can tolerate but really enjoy. They are:
1. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," only the version with the New Voices of Freedom Gospel choir. Granted, I think the main reason I like this is because it has a gospel choir, but I like the synergy between Bono and the gospel singers. I mean, this video is pretty great. Note especially the Christian flag and the hymn board in the background. The music/magic begins at about the minute marker:

2. "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of." I don't know what it is about this song, but the chorus is just so catchy and singable. I can't help but sing along and enjoy every minute of it.
3. I Still Believe in Father Christmas - Yes, this isn't originally an Emerson, Lake, and Palmer song, but I do think the U2 version is far superior. I'm a sucker for a rock song that has a classical piece playing in the background (Prokofiev's "Lieutenant Kije").

So, are there other U2 songs I should give a chance?

Well, I got a rough draft of my sermon done for Sunday. You should all come and hear it. I mean, preaching during Advent is just about the most a worship pastor could ask for! I promise references to Isaiah, John the Baptist, and Theodora Ayot. That's all I will say.

Okay, I'm going to go shower and get ready for dinner. Later.

Monday, November 28, 2011

ADVENT!!!! (and other things)

We are finally in Advent! Yesterday’s services were such a refreshing change of pace, especially that evening service. Man, I love these evening Advent services. Maybe its because it embodies the Advent idea of waiting in the dark...gathering as the light has all but gone and darkness is continues to grow throughout the night. There is something radically hopeful about facing darkness and lighting a candle and proclaiming that darkness will not vanquish or destroy the light. I realize I already put this Howard Thurman quote on Facebook, but I think it may be my favorite quote of the year:

"[Waiting] is to watch a gathering darkness until all light is swallowed up completely without the power to interfere or bring a halt. Then to continue one's journey in the darkness with one's footsteps guided by the illumination of remembered radiance is to know courage of a peculiar kind - the courage to demand that light continue to be light even in the surrounding darkness. To walk in the light while darkness invades, envelops, and surrounds is to wait on the Lord. This is to know the renewal of strength. This is to walk and faint not." PREACH!

Also, look at this great piece of artwork done for the first week of Advent by ResCov's very own Liz Ahlem!

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and all it all it went pretty darn well. It was good to catch up with some members of my family who I haven’t seen either because they were gone when I was there over the past few years or vice versa. Also, there were no big fights over politics, which is always good. Those don’t seem to go well and weirdly enough never end up changing anyone’s mind. I think there should be a rule: no talking politics if you don’t see each other more than once a year. You just don't have the time or resources to have that conversation well.

To encourage laughter and humor on this Monday evening, here’s a text my 83 year-old Grandma sent to my sister over the Thanksgiving break:

“Peg (my aunt) will call u 4 a spot to meet in Woodbury. We r going to go out 4 nif’s (nickname for my cousin) b-day at 7”

If that’s not a sign of the apocalypse, I don’t know what is.

I have turned in my first two applications (Notre Dame and Duke), and when I get paid in the next couple days I will send out the other three. It feels like I'm sending my babies off to college, which I guess is kind of apropos. I make sure they have what they need (fill out the basic info), they got their oil changed (have the essays proofread), have some friends to look after them (letters of recommendation), and send them on their way. Granted there were not nearly the number of tears shed in this goodbye. Five kids and five different schools...I'm going to need another job!

To do this week: write a sermon, prepare two lectures, and some Relief of the World on the side. Here goes nothing!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Live-Blogging: The Day After

So, as your Thanksgiving festivities continue or wrap-up (whatever the case may be) on this Friday, here is my Thanksgiving list.

Things I'm thankful for:
1. First, the obvious ones: family (although I do wish Jess and Isaac were here!), friends, food, faith, and other alliteratively-fitting words.
2. Having work enough to pay my bills and then a bit extra (a wee little bit).
3. Applications for schools that will be turned in next week.
4. Parents that not only brought down my ornaments from Minnesota but also bought me Christmas lights, a tree stand, and a rubbermaid container to begin my own Christmas decorations storage unit. Aren't they the greatest?
5. Advent...Advent...Two days until Advent!
6. Minnesotacare. Thank God for Minnesota socialist health care that provides health care for poor people with preexisting conditions! And, to broaden that, Minnesota in general. "Minnesota, hail to thee, hail to thee our state so dear./Thy light shall ever be a beacon bright and clear!"
7. Alka-seltzer. It's true: "Get yourself some alka-seltzer, and you'll feel better fast." It has been with me on so many heartburning/indigestioning nights including last night.
8. Being able to listen to Christmas music without all the pre-Thanksgiving Yuletide haters and judgers (i.e. an upstairs neighbor who will go unnamed).
9. Christmas approaching, with all of the vacations, parties, and various pleasantries and festivities pertaining thereto.
10. Fans. Helping me sleep since 1991.

Another thanksgiving treat.

Today I am looking forward to a day of Polish breakfast (pierogies, polish sausage, boiled potatoes), shopping at Loome Theological Bookstore (20% off the already-used prices plus $10 off between 10 and 12 a.m.), bowling with the family, watching The Muppets, and probably round the night off with dinner out at some pizza place or an establishment of equal or lesser value.

I need to get married so I can get my own room on family vacations rather than trying to sleep on on air mattress my parents bought that holds air for about five minutes before slowly exhaling as you sink to the ground forcing you to take sofa cushions and lay them out on the floor because you are just three inches too tall for the couch while your sister four years your junior is sawing logs on a real bed in a separate room because she happens to have a ring on the appropriate finger. This is all hypothetical of course and in no way a description of my current state.

Well, while I'm up early and alone in the house this morning, I'm going to finish Sunday's PowerPoint and try to find scripture readers. woo.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Live-Blogging

That's right, folks. I'm currently in the basement of my uncle and aunt's house in Hudson, Wisconsin at the annual Szyman (mom's maiden name) Thanksgiving extravaganza. First off, I am feeling much better, thanks for asking. It turned out my virulent illness lasted from about 9:30 p.m. - 2 a.m. with a one day convalescence while my stomach tried to find meaning in its life again after such a foundation-shaking crisis.

Today was basically all travel, but it was great having people to travel with. Johann (age 8) enlivened the trip with some solid riddles (and he wouldn't just tell you the answers; you had to guess) and a few games. I also reflected how much easier road trips would have been if iPads had been invented by 1992.

I think the highlight of the trip was when my brother started to get all hypoglycemically-crabby and began looking for the other half of his footlong that he had saved for lunch. It was at this point that I realized that the empty, crumpled up subway bag I had thrown away at the gas station was actually a half-empty, crumpled up subway bag with half a sandwich still left. For some reason I found this much funnier than my brother. So, after being compelled basically at knifepoint to stop at Burger King (well, knifepoint for my brother is this kind of sulking crabbiness that is worse than a knife because it's so freaking annoying and reminds you of your relationship circa 2000), we were on our merry way again.

So, we arrived safe and sound and had a nice lasagna dinner at my Uncle Jim's in Stillwater before heading back to Hudson. One thing I apparently must do is go to the used theological bookstore (I know: a. I didn't know such a thing existed; b. this is a dream come true; c. they have a whole section on liturgy) in Stillwater that was recommended to me by three North Park faculty members (granted two of them were married to each other, but they were still separate recommendations!). So, I think I will go on Friday to peruse/buy too many books.

Friday is one of my least favorite days of the U.S. calendar year: Black Friday. The whole concept of waiting in these mob-like lines in the wee hours of the morning for a $25 TV that you have to rip out of some other poor sop's hands gives me the willies. I think this feeling is exacerbated when places like Wal-mart are simultaneously oppressing international and domestic workforces in the process - and also shutting down small businesses in the area, all with one fell swoop of the whistling smiley-face that is lowering prices and killing the middle class. When I heard some stores are actually opening up at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, it made it even worse. Just think of those poor employees who have to go in at 11:30 after Thanksgiving and pretend like they not only want to be near all those crazy people who are about to bust down the door, but that they want to help them find what they are looking for. One of these days those mobs are going to go all Lord-of-the-Flies and end with heads on stakes and some little kid named Piggy getting his glasses broken to start a fire while the other kids yell, "Sucks to your ass-mar!"

So, now that it's officially Thanksgiving, I am going to get some shuteye! Here's a Thanksgiving card from me to you. Later.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sick, Advent, and Politics

Well, it's 2:21 a.m., and I am sitting in bed enjoying a nice night of stomach flu. I knew something was wrong when I picked up a book but had no energy to read. So, I decided to make the night a bit bearable by blogging (don't worry, not about the stomach flu). This post is dedicated to Andrew Freeman, who gets to be vicariously sick with me tonight. Hopefully it's something I ate so I won't be all sick and needy during Thanksgiving.

I just started working on this week's bulletin...you know, the one that has blue/purple headers instead of green and uses amazing songs like "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence," and "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus." Advent is finally almost here! Six more days! A shout out to all my Catholic brothers and sisters who are switching over to the new translation of the mass next week. Now, instead of saying:

Leader: The Lord be with you.
Congregation: And also with you.

They will say:
Leader: The Lord be with you.
Congregation: And with your spirit.

It's also supposed to be a bit more poetic and be closer to the Latin translation. We'll see how it goes!

So, I've been thinking a lot about politics, economics, and faith recently, and I keep coming back to this basic point: how can a Christian whose entire faith is built on the idea of unmerited grace, i.e. receiving salvation that we in no way earned, buy into an economic system/philosophy that says we should only get what we've earned? For example, when people debate welfare and other social services they say things like, "Well, people are lazy and won't work for it," or "People will never do anything for themselves when they keep receiving handouts." Now, disregarding that I think these basic premises are wrong (say they were right, just for argument's sake), doesn't our faith say that people always receive grace when they should receive punishment? That mercy trumps judgment? Who am I to decide who "deserves" health care or food stamps or fill-in-the-blank. All that to say, thank God I don't get what I deserve because I don't think it would be pretty (not to mention people that "earned their way" have often had many more privileges afforded them than they would like to admit). Political rant done.

In two days I'll be in Minnesota! I always like when I can say that.

I mean, obviously:

Who'd have guessed this?

I might give up on politics soon. I have come to the realization that I am already much too cynical about life to add an element that could turn even the cutest fawn or a bunny into a hardened cynic. I have no idea what I'm writing anymore. This is it, folks.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Muppets, Advent, and Christmas Trees

You know, just spent a Saturday morning watching Muppets Take Manhattan. I've almost gone through the whole Muppet anthology in preparation for the new movie. Muppets in Space and Muppets Christmas Carol are the last two on the list. In other Saturday news, I got my longer run out of the way this morning, and I have since spent a relaxing afternoon planning Advent services/sermons, reading, and taking a sold nap.

For those who are counting, 8 days left until Advent! In related news, we at ResCov have decided to hold an Advent Lessons and Carols service at 7 p.m. on December 18th. If you've never been to a Lessons and Carols service, it's a series of readings from the breadth of the biblical story interspersed with carols and prayers. It sounds like we'll have a bunch of people involved, and I think it will be a solid service. You should mark your calendars and come on out! Now, only 11 services to plan and two sermons to write between now and Christmas!

I think this will be the year where I actually buy a real Christmas tree. In another symbol of passage into adulthood, I'll be getting my ornaments from my parents over Thanksgiving so I can decorate it. Granted, many of these ornaments are homemade, so my Christmas tree could look pretty skeezy. It may surprise you, but the ornaments I made in grade school aren't the nicest looking of the family's. I mean, I was the kid in kindergarten who finger painted a canvas in all black, and then when my teacher (the venerable Mrs. Brown) asked what it was, I calmly replied, "A black hole." I was also famous in my family for "decorating" the tree by sitting on the couch and lobbing my ornaments at the tree in hopes that they would eventually plinko their way down until the hook caught on one of the branches. For some reason, my mom frowned on this practice. Anyway, now I have to get a tree stand and figure out where the best and cheapest place to buy a tree is. I'm thinking Home Depot, but I'm not committing this early. Another question is configuration: where should I put the tree in my apartment? I'm thinking by the door, but I don't want it to be in a major thoroughfare.

Thanksgiving really snuck up on me this year! I don't actually believe that I'll be going to the Twin Cities next week. Hopefully the reality will sink in at a reasonable date prior so that I can pack and get my various work-related projects done before I depart. One nice thing about this trip is a full car! Usually I make this trip alone, drinking coffee and energy drinks while listening to anything that will keep me awake at loud volumes with the window down. This time I will not only be traveling with my brother, but also with Karl and Johann Clifton-Soderstrom! I won't know what to do with all the company and conversation...

I'm now sitting waiting for my brother to call so we can go get some dinner. I'm a bit concerned he has forgotten or will wait until 10:30 and then call and declare, "I'm outside! Let's go!" He should know by now that I turn into a pumpkin at about 9:45.

How have I not seen these before?

Actually, this makes more sense than say her position on the HPV vaccine causing "mental retardation" or her comment that the Solyndra business makes "Watergate look like child's play."

Okay, the kid actually called. I'm out.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Amy Grant, New Sheets, and Winter

Amy Grant's surging in the polls! I think it's the combination of "Tender Tennessee Christmas" and "Emm--anuel, Emm--anuel.....WONderfulCOUNselor....LORD of LIFE...Lord of ALL!"

I always thought Rahm Emanuel should have used this song: "Em---anuel, rahm (on the pick up note) Em--anuel ... WONderful CHIEF of staff...etc." His loss.

Last night I washed all of my blankets/duvet cover and put new flannel sheets on my bed, and I was seriously excited to call it a night and climb on in. It was so clean and warm and neat. I love how newly-washed bedding lays perfectly on the surface of the mattress, sitting flat and even without all of the annoying bunching or ink stains that plague my old sheets (I know, I could avoid this by writing in places that were meant to be writing stations - desks, tables, chairs, etc. - But there's something great about writing in bed; I can't explain it.).

On a similar note, I am still in awe of people who can fold fitted sheets. I don't get how it is done. For me, his mystery is right up there with how Stonehenge and the heads on Easter Island came to be. It's like a linen crop circle.

Yesterday was the first day I had to wear my under armour leggings/running tights while running. Winter is coming, as the Starks' would say (Game of Thrones reference, sorry). Yet, both of those names for this piece of clothing leave something to be desired. Leggings immediately bring to mind women who wear leggings in place of pants. "Running tights" for some reason makes me feel like I'm an 8 year-old girl playing dress-up. Spandex has its own etymological baggage too. If I'm going to run outdoors all year, I will need to purchase a face mask soon. As I say, if my Mom can run year-round in Hermantown and Breckenridge, I can too.

Does anyone else get a bit nervous when you sign-in to online banking? I always feel like I'm spinning the Wheel of Fortune or playing that game show, Press Your Luck, "Big money, no whammy, STOP!" Today I was pleasantly surprised by the amount. Maybe I can apply to all these grad schools after all!

Speaking of which, last night I finished the last of my essays for grad school applications! I can't tell you how glad I was to be done. Once they are proofread by a third-party, I will be sending those suckers in. That will be a good day indeed.

I love when you can find scientific data that backs up your lifestyle choices that you already have made. For instance, when I found out that new studies find it better not to stretch before running longer distances I thought, "Perfect! I never stretch!" Similarly, is this study about the health benefits of beer in moderation. Now, if someone can come out with a study that shows long-term health benefits of carbs, starch, and high fructose corn syrup consumption, I'll be well on my way to perfect health. Well, one out of three ain't bad:

These corn syrup commercials crack me up. And, of course, SNL's hyperbolic take on it:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Announcer Mute Button, Herman Cain, and Memories

So far Mariah Carey and Charlie Brown are in a dead heat for best album. Cast your vote now! I did expect Amy Grant to have a better showing than this. Maybe my middle-age women demographic is not as strong as I thought.

While watching the game last night over at Matt and Elsa's, Matt came up with a brilliant idea: somehow rig a broadcast so that you could mute certain announcers with the click of a button. For example, when Jon Gruden begins his five-minute doxology of Aaron Rogers, you simply hit the "Mute Gruden" button and enjoy the silence left by his paean to the Packers. It would be equally effective for: Bill Walton, Dick Vitale, Chris Berman, Dan Dierdorf, etc. The only snag would be baseball games announced by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver because you would be left with only the sounds of the fans in the background after silencing those two jokers sometime during the pre-game show.

I don't want to talk about the Vikings game last night; it's still too painful.

I just saw that the video game Halo is celebrating its 10th anniversary. That makes me feel quite old. I remember playing that game for quite a few hours during my senior year with Brady Anderson and Joe Idziorek in between school and basketball practice or on Saturday mornings after spending the night. Oh, the days of playing video games for hours on end without a care in the world toward productivity. Now, even the thought of playing video games makes me guiltily reach for some work or a book I should be reading.

It looks like Herman Cain caught whatever mind-blocking disease was ailing Rick Perry at the last debate:

This is a similar approach that I used to stall during my Spanish oral examinations in high school. You know, when I was asked, "Como estas?" I would shift in my chair awhile, asking "Como estoy? Eso es la pregunta? I just want to make sure I understand the question. Hmm...Pues, es dificil...necesito tiempo..." Until I could think of how to conjugate whatever verb I was supposed to conjugate into the preterite and say something that would use only Spanish words and fill the alloted time. I was very good at stretching the meaning of common verbs to make them more inclusive to whatever need I had for them at the time. I think it was really an art form.

Speaking of high school and art, I was the only kid that my parents didn't force to take an art class in high school. My mom later confessed it was because she didn't want to ruin my GPA and hurt my chances for scholarships. Mom - 1, Dave's fine motor skills - 0.

It's always around this time of the year that I long for a house with a fireplace. My house in Hermantown had one, and I fondly remember sitting in the basement, watching movies, and listening to the fire crackle as we cozied up on the couches/chairs. I remember a bit less fondly going out to the garage for my dad to stack our arms full of wood and trying to navigate to the house and down the stairs with my arms shaking underneath the load and my vision obscured by the pile of wood. I can remember more than a few accidents on the stairway followed by fights concerning who left their shoes right in front of the staircase.

Well, this turned into a reminiscing post. Deal with it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fuller, Midnight Special, and Advent

Well, we're adding another application to the list: Fuller, you too will have the opportunity to read some first-class 500-word essays brought to you by David D. Bjorlin and the letter "J," which gives my name so much of its unspoken character. This is the first application with a spiritual autobiography essay - 500 words or less, which is a bit less than St. Augustine got in Confessions (I think he originally published with Zondervan?). Granted, I'm a bit less than Augustine. Still, it's hard to sum up that much in that little space.

I can't tell you how much I love Midnight Special. It's a radio show (speaking of which, I'm not sure if you italicize radio shows or go with quotation marks, but I decided not to look it up) on WFMT (98.7 in Chicago) on Saturday nights from 9 p.m. -12 (I realize you have to be quite a socialite with lots of free time on Saturday night to truly enjoy it) that plays exclusively folk music with some show tunes and comedy sketches thrown in the mix. I first discovered it when I was in undergrad on a late night run during winter. It was a magical moment when I first heard its dulcet tones that seemed to fit perfectly with the falling snow and possibly my melancholy mood that probably motivated a Saturday night run in the middle of winter (wow...poorly constructed sentence). I spent the rest of the evening lying on my living room floor listening. I have been in love ever since and always enjoy when I am home on Saturday nights and can tune in. If you're driving on a Saturday night and want to hear folk music, like folk folk music, check it out.

Does it show too sharp of divide between sacred and secular that I will start listening to Christmas music now but refuse to play any in the church during Advent? I mean, I'm not budging on the second part, but I wonder if I should attempt next year to go on an Advent Christmas music fast as a spiritual discipline to engender the anticipation and waiting aspects of the season. I don't know if I can listen to "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence," and "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus" enough to compensate for what I would be listening, but maybe that's the point.

Speaking of Advent, only 13 more days! Yesterday at church I got really excited thinking about planning a Christ the King service followed by four solid weeks of Advent morning and evening services. Planning liturgies during these more defined seasons is really when I feel in my element or working in my wheelhouse or whatever other cliche/aphorism you would like to insert. I will soon be sending out the annual emails to recruit people for the mini-choir to sing "Wait for the Lord" during communion. What I do not enjoy is the version of "Wait for the Lord" I have, which includes this really obnoxious soprano sax playing over the thing Kenny G -style. It just doesn't seem to fit the taize spirit; it fits more the riding-in-a-glass-elevator-at-Macy's spirit.

Well, Monday calls.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Belated Birthdays, Rick Perry (can't pass it up), and Advent

First, check out the new poll. Please, no comments about how we can't listen to Christmas music yet. I'll respect your decision if you'll respect mine.

I don't understand why my mail comes at 7 p.m. but the garbage truck rumbles loudly down the alley at 6:45 a.m. If the city of Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation and the USPS could get together and have those times switched, it would be much appreciated. Thanks. Also, closing down Grace is really killing my commute to Trader Joe's. I'd like that opened ASAP. I think that's it for now.

My brother and I (and Kelly Perez) went out last night for a belated birthday dinner. It's still weird (in a good way) that he's in town, even though I see him about as often as I did when he lived in Duluth/Breckenridge/Bemidji. We finished the night off by watching Muppet Treasure Island to get ready for the upcoming movie. Good times. Happy 25th, broseph. This is the point when it's easiest to remember how old all my siblings are: Jessica-29, me-27, Stephen-25, Anna-23. Two years apart from November until March when I go and screw it up by getting older.

Rick Perry's latest gaffe was pretty epic. I mean, you should at least know the name of the government agencies you want to get rid of. However, to be fair, maybe he's already gotten rid of the department in his mind, so why bother remembering the name? Here's the awe-inspiring clip, if you missed it. The best part is definitely the "Oops!" at the end.

And, of course, Jon Stewart's take on it:

I'm giving four "meh's..." to Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars. I think they should have definitely gone with the Muppets. I mean, no offense to Crystal, he's great, but what have you done for me lately? Forget Paris? Analyze This/That? A voice-over in Cars and Monsters, Inc? (You better believe I just looked him up on imdb).

16 days until Advent!! I can't wait for Advent (irony intended). I think it's my favorite season because it does not shy away from the reality of darkness or even pain to some extent, but it is always undergirded with a deep and lasting hope. Hope and light rise out of the darkness and despair of occupation and dashed dreams, shining all the clearer through the night that once surrounded it. Even its call for repentance is not so much penitent (as in Lent) as it is preparation for a feast, a getting ready for the kingdom of God, a personal and corporate transformation imbued with the joy and hope of the King and kingdom we wait for. Advent, come quickly!

I think I'll end on that note.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rain, A Few More Signs of Aging, and Trips/Jobs

So, you think when it's raining pretty good and your work involves moving furniture, you would find a rain coat or at least bring an umbrella for the walk to and from your car. Not this guy! I'd rather walk around half-sopping and cold-skinned all day (yesterday). I was cold until about 8:30, which is a rare occurrence for me.

Okay, I thought of a few more signs you're aging:
1. The first time you throw out your arm. I used to think something was wrong with my dad when we'd play catch because he'd always be stretching his arm and windmilling it. Then, in gym class my senior year playing a derivative of trench, I threw my arm out. Now, I understand the warm-up.
2. When you start appreciating utilitarian presents for Christmas/birthdays. I remember being enraged that my parents would give me luggage for Christmas my junior year (maybe it was a subtle hint on their plans for me upon graduating!). However, this year I'm asking for a satchel bag and am more than happy to get new sheets, socks, etc.
3. When you can say, "Ten years ago," and have vivid memories at or near adulthood.
4. When 9:30 rolls around and all you can think of is how warm your bed is going to be when you get there.

All Saints' Sunday was really great at church. I think the combination of a bunch of new members, children running around, old members present, and the saints hanging from the wall all hit me at the same time as I was singing. I guess I'm reminded every once in a while that I really like my church, and that's a blessing one shouldn't take for granted. I wonder how many church employees could pass a lie-detector test saying the first part of the previous sentence!

I need a trip to look forward to...besides Minnesota. You know, a block-out-ten-days-six-months-from-now-buy-plane-tickets-and-guide-books kind of trip. So, first I'll have to find a low-security bank to rob or a long-lost, fabulously wealthy great-aunt to finance my lavish lifestyle, and then the planning can commence! Maybe I should call one of those numbers that are on the neon flyers left under my windshield wiper. They seem to know how to make quick money while allowing for flexible, part-time hours. I think I'm due for a good pyramid scheme.

That reminds me of the year after high school when I saw an ad for part-time work in the paper, and when I showed up to interview the job was selling knives basically door-to-door. Needless to say, I excused myself as soon as I could. I would be the worst salesman ever. Here's how I imagine the conversation going:
(knock, knock)
Homeowner: Hello?
Dave: Sorry to bother you, and you probably don't want these things anyway. They're kind of crappy, but maybe you like crappy knives? They cut stuff good...ummm...I'm selling stuff and...
Homeowner: (interrupting) I'm not interested.
Dave: No, I don't blame you. Thanks for your time. Sorry I wasted a bit of your day. You know what? Here's a free knife for your troubles. Yeah, just take it. It was good of you to open the door. (homeowner looks confused, but takes it from my hand as I scurry from their porch).

Next thing you know, I'm buying sets of knives to keep myself in business while losing money week-to-week.

Okay, I think that's all for today. However, you should all join me at 7:30 tonight in Isaacson Chapel (the seminary chapel) for a hymn sing! Come one, come all!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Parallel Parking, All Saints', and Signs of Adulthood

Sometimes, after I nail an amazingly small parallel park, I feel so exhilarated, like I should get out of the car, be handed a Oscar-like statue, and be given the opportunity to give an acceptance speech: I'd like to thank everyone who made this possible. Thanks to Toyota, for making the roomy yet compact Rav4. I'd like to thank the bumpers of the car ahead of me and behind me. I really could not have done this without your sacrifice. Finally, I'd like to thank Pontiac, who made the 97 Pontiac TranSport minivan, which I drove my senior year of college when the power steering was starting to go. You gave me the courage to parallel park with abandon, and without that trial by fire, this day wouldn't have been possible."

So, we're celebrating All Saints' Day tomorrow at church, so today I was taping up pictures of some saints of the broader Church...you know, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Theresa, St. Augustine, etc. Anyway, just as I announced to Andrew that I had gotten all the saints hung up, Dorothy Day fell from the wall. I thought it was symbolic she did; a non-conformist until the end! (Also, for nerdy Covenanters, Burton Nelson is straight across the sanctuary from Bonhoeffer. This wasn't planned from the beginning, but when I got to that section and he was in the mix, it seemed the proper choice!).

So, the other day I was thinking about some transitional moments from childhood to adulthood, those events that make you realize you're becoming an adult. Here are some of mine - both serious and not so serious in no particular order (some previously mentioned in other posts):
1. Driver's license. duh.
2. The first funeral you can remember attending. I was five when my grandpa died, and I still remember snapshots from the funeral and the car ride there.
3. The first time you realize Princess Bride is a spoof. I remember vividly being on a choir bus on the way to Canada in 6th grade and realizing that this wasn't an earnest movie about saving a princess; it was satire of those movies. That really blew my mind.
4. When you start secretly enjoying Prairie Home Companion. See previous post.
5. The first time your parents leave you alone without a babysitter. That must be a hard decision to make when you're a parent.
6. The first time you're asked to babysit - a hard decision for the parents' of the children!
7. Reading your first adult novel - John Grisham's The Client, if you're wondering. I think I've mentioned this before, but I went on a Grisham spree after that, but my mom would paperclip the parts of the book that I wasn't allowed to read and give me a synopsis of what happened.
8. When you buy your first tape/CD. Mine was Ace of Base's The Sign.
9. The first paid job besides babysitting and realizing that the next 50 years of work might be a bummer.
10. The first time you overdraw on your checking account.

Those are ten. Do you have others? Reflections?

I'm having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit with all this warm weather. We need a good cold front with some snow!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Large Lips, Republican Flops, and Rainy Days

Well, maybe it's the halloween candy I ate over the last few days, but I have developed a nice ole' canker sore right in the center of my upper lip. Now, if you didn't know me before college, you might not know that I was plagued by canker sores growing up, and I don't mean a few small nuisances; these were more ulcers than sores. I think the braces exacerbated an already strong predisposition. I also theorize that it had something to do with adolescence/hormones, but I can't verify this scientifically. I had to develop some truly innovative embouchures (word for the position of your mouth while playing a wind/brass instrument) when playing the saxophone so that I could make it through band without tearing up.

Anyway, I think this is the first one I've had in a while, and it made me wonder how I ever made it in high school. One of the bonuses of such sores is that my already large lips become swollen, especially in the mornings. Today I woke up looking like either Liv/Steven Tyler or Julia Roberts during a crying scene. Exhibit A:

And, from Steel Magnolias, exhibit B:

It's like lips with a side of face. I don't know why I chose to talk about this at such great length, but c'est la vie.

Well, it looks like another possible Republican frontrunner is biting the dust. I don't see Herman Cain bouncing back from three allegations of sexual harassment. Who's going to be flavor of the month for Republicans in November? It seems that just when they get to liking a guy/lady, you find all this footage of the person saying or doing crazy things. For instance, Rick Perry's public drunk dial/muscle relaxant-induced speech that he gave in New Hampshire:

Seriously, what is going on with this guy? Did someone slip him a mickey/roofie? I think the Republicans are just going to have to settle on Romney, even if he is a flip-flopping automaton with a good smile (not to mention the whole Mormon thing, which isn't going to go over well at some of the Focus on the Family meetings).

Well, today is one of those rainy days where the cold water seems to seep into your very being. As such, I think it's the perfect day for reading at home! I don't like these transitional days; let's just have the snow and get to winter already! Okay, off to read.