Day five

of my vacation…

I didn’t go anywhere terribly exciting, necessarily interesting or inherently glamorous.

I’m currently sitting in my jammies at my mom’s kitchen counter, bare-footed and working through my second cup of coffee. In about an hour I’ll be headed toward Lake Michigan and my version of a midwestern white sands getaway.

I am trying to do something different this week, though, at the urging of the boyfriend, “A”, and my friends who grow weary of my nonstop political and religious bantering. I am trying to shut off my brain.

It’s a task made very difficult right now by the nonsense in D.C., the fact that the Congress of these United States is currently putting metal in the microwave and cutting up all their Barbies while we try to figure out how to pay our bills, keep our kids in decent schools and our future heads above water.  We have just a few more days until a self-imposed fiscal Armageddon takes over the country or the world.

It’s hard not to obsess. But I am trying. I’m working through a fantastic Elmore Leonard novel. Yesterday my mom and I went to the fair and petted the goats, laughed at the roosters and watched sweaty and exhausted teenagers wrangle their hogs through the show rings.

It is a decidedly Midwest vacation. Maybe our “elected” officials should come out here and play, without an eye to the next election or impressing the person sitting next to them. Maybe they should sit silently in the stands and watch the grandparents beam at their grandkids, eyes shiny and minds trying not to worry about their Social Security checks in peril next week. Maybe they should get in line at the pharmacy and listen to the woman try to figure out why her Medicaid isn’t paying for her necessary prescription. Maybe they should join the rest of us down here.

(Sorry, I got a little carried away).

I’m going to go say my prayers, pack my backpack with the iPod, the sunscreen and the novel, jump in the shower and then in A’s truck while we head northwest. I will sit on the beach, grateful I have access to it for now, and enjoy the relative peace and quiet of the last half of my vacation. Next week, it will be back to the grind of court cases and criminals, but for now … I’ll turn my brain off.

Have a great day!

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Did I really just holler for 20 minutes?

Yep.

Totally felt crazy tonight. And then felt very grateful for those people who choose to attach themselves to me in spite of all the fun I provide.

Tonight’s example: Had a totally enjoyable evening with the boyfriend at the Trion Tavern, the nifty little New Haven watering hole with the 20 taps. He is a really good sport, albeit a lover of wimpy beer (read Miller Lite), and let me pick his brew: Kostritzer Lager. It scared him with its impenetrable blackness but rewarded his bravery with its surprising crisp taste. I had a Three Floyds Pride and Joy ale, a sentimental favorite.

He bought me dinner. I bought him beer. He let me beat him in a game of pool, put up with the guy next to us smoking a nasty cigar and did not make fun while I sang along to Bob Marley and told stupid court stories.

How did I reward Mr. Patient? Why, I spent the entire drive back to downtown Fort Wayne yipping to my dear Republican about the evils of the Bush administration. I mean to tell you, I hollered. He was so kind, even then: leaning on his arm, his rolling eyes hidden behind his Oakleys while I grew red faced over the deficit and the Iraq war.

It occurred to me that he may not want to hear all that, at that volume, as I pulled up next to his truck.

Me: OhmygoshIamsosorryDoyouhateme?!

Him: No

Me: I am so very crazy.

Him: Yep.

Me: Oh jeez.

Him: Eh. It’s OK. I still love you.

One of the most amazing things about this relationship (and I’m sorry to gush here) is that it never, ever occurred to me before I got myself healthy(er) and then risked this, that you could actually be yourself in a relationship. And just maybe, there would be another person who wouldn’t want anything more from you than that. I never saw that in my home: that emotional safety to just be, even if being is ridiculously silly or passionate about the absurd (beer, politics).

God made us for relationships, to be in community with others. That was a very difficult thing for me to learn. But I love how much I have grown in this relationship already. I love that already I’ve taken much more out of it than I ever expected. I have had really good friendships that did that for me in some ways, but this is a totally different thing. I like this thing.

Sorry. Didn’t mean to get too mushy.

Here’s a fun picture. He’ll probably threaten me to get me to take it down and not wax so sentimental, but too bad.

Things have been slow

On the courts beat for the past week or two. And you would think, that in my boredom, my brain would be churning out blog posts of great social significance or spiritual value.

You would be wrong.

Instead my friends and I have started a new little venture. Check it out and enjoy. If you want to contribute, forward your inbox fun to spamandcheese30 at the gmail.com domain.

Spam and Cheese

Run the race

I ran a race on Saturday. And when I run a race, play in a soccer game, pickup basketball or file a story, I always have a “person,” somebody whom I am trying to utterly banish from the playing field. They usually reveal themselves to me by aggravating me (stealing the ball or passing me at a particularly vulnerable time). I hate that.

I am a competitive creature (but I have nothing on my two sisters. Good grief, they’re bad.)

Saturday morning my person was a statuesque woman who bore a shocking resemblance to one of the Williams sisters. She was trotting along effortlessly about a block ahead of me for most of the race.

I caught her at the halfway point but she pulled away again. I caught her again at the 2 mile mark and she ran pace for pace with me till there was about 1/2 a mile left and then I managed to shake her for good. I have no idea who she was or where she finished. All I know, all I cared about, was that she was behind me.

Sometimes I beat my “person.” Sometimes I don’t. At a race in June, my person was an un-athletic looking woman somewhat older who managed to wipe the course with me in such an aggravating slow and steady way. She was awesome.

On Sunday, Bishop Melchisedek preached about the Christian life as the ascetic life, one of exercise.   He talked about how in order to win you have to train. It’s an analogy that made more sense to me when I became Orthodox because we have actual exercises we do as a part of our faith: we confess, we pray the prayers, we study the lives of the saints, we give to the poor, etc.

I don’t know if I have a “person” to compete against in the Church. That’s probably a good thing. I have myself. I have the things that weigh me down, the things that hang at my feet and grab at my ankles every time I seem to make progress.

I haven’t been real good at the ascetic life lately. I neglect my prayers and my reading. (it’s easier to get sucked into the TV) It’s easier to be angry than to curb my tongue. It’s so much more comfortable to gossip than to be quiet. But there’s so much more at stake in this life — the fate of my eternal soul, and whatnot. You’d think I’d be better at giving it the attention it deserves.  Lazy, I guess.

Gonna have to train more.

Fail

Judge: (voicemail message) Hey, I’m free now for an interview. I’m going to text you to make sure you know.

Me: (via text to judge) Calling in 5

Judge: (on telephone) Did you get my text?

Me: No. What number did you send it to?

Judge: Your phone. 341-xxxx.

Me: Oh, well that’s my work phone. I don’t get texts on my work phone.

Judge: What? You work at a newspaper. How do you not get texts on your work phone?

Me: It makes no sense. Nothing here makes any sense, especially our technology and equipment.  Lose my work phone number and send all texts to my personal cell.

Judge: Oh, the 515-xxxx?

Me: Yes. I just sent you a text from there. Did you get it?

Judge: You did? No, I didn’t get it.

Me: (after looking at my phone more closely) Oh, well that’s because I sent it to your house.

Judge: My house doesn’t get text messages.

Me: Yeah, probably not.

Own it

So it’s come to this now, TU? That which you promised to care for, abandoned and sold off, now being torn down. Not that I expected much else from you…

Running tonight, I saw that “they”, whomever “they” may be are beginning the demolition work at the old TUFW campus. A shovel has torn into the west end of the building, chewing through about 1/8 of it.

Disgusting.

Disgusting because it is unnecessary. Disgusting because they (TU administration) somehow managed to come off smelling like a dozen roses in this whole thing and I’m not quite sure how they did that. Disgusting because it is too easy a metaphor for so much of what goes on in American Evangelical ministries. Disgusting because it is unnecessary. (I know, I already said that but that’s the point I want to make.)

I went there. I graduated from there. I worked there and lived there and cared for students there. I didn’t want to. I wanted to stay at TU-Upland, with its spacious green fields and running track and fancy dining hall, nestled in the Indiana countryside. But I didn’t get to stay there. I ended up with screaming traffic down Rudisill and buildings scattered throughout a neighborhood and crime right around the corner.

And you know what, that’s OK. There, TUFW, was so much more real than anything I found amidst the pretty little postcard campus. (We all know how I feel about real.)

Back in the day, when that campus was purchased by TU, Drs. Yost and Kesler had such high hopes and visions for it — an urban center for students to learn how to minister in urban settings, a place where social workers can learn about the populations they’ll work with and el ed students can work with free lunch kids that don’t speak English. But no sir, the board seemed to have other ideas. We can’t have our kids studying up there with the minorities and the poor kids in the rundown buildings in the city. No good. Put the at-risk students up there, the ones who can’t pay their own freight and then, when we have no more to give them, we’ll just shut it down.

I’m sure that’s what they said. I sat through too many meetings as a staff member to not believe otherwise. After the administration I knew left (or quit in disgust, I’ve never been quite sure), that board moved swiftly to shut it down and shutter it up –with little obvious thought to the really smart and dedicated professors who chose to teach there for less money than their Upland counterparts, for the staff members who had been there through thick, thin and thinner. It’s easy not to care from 60 miles away.

I know they think Jesus told them to close it. I don’t believe He did. I believe their donors did. The big fancy-ass science building announced and constructed right after the decision to close TUFW became public makes me think I’m right. They wanted to close TUFW, so they said Jesus made them do it.

TU, you did it. You wanted to do it and you did it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of a good chunk of what good Christian people (especially Protestants) do. They often say God said to (break up with the girlfriend, marry the boyfriend, leave the spouse, quit the job, start the business, buy the expensive house or car) but really it’s just their desires.

Don’t blame God for your decisions. If you want to make it, make it. That’s fine, but don’t put it on the Holy Trinity. Say this: We’re bored with TUFW. We don’t like the poor kids because they need too much. We don’t like the at-risk students because they don’t follow our rules without talking back and we want the fancy science building.  So we’re going to close it. OK?

When you’re actually honest about your motivations, it lets people have their honest reactions. Crap, no, don’t close it. We loved it. We’ll miss it. Why don’t you give a rat’s behind? No, God’s not telling you to break up with me. You love me and you told me that this morning.

I honestly do not mean this to be some kind of screed, but it all kind of came to a head tonight when I saw that poor damaged building sitting there. I thought about all the students that passed through there, all the good Godly men and women who worked there and made a difference for the world in there.

They deserved better than that. The community deserved better than that and TU itself deserved better than that. That school’s reputation has taken a serious hit in a community that once revered it. That’ll happen when you put money before people and then blame it on God.

Most people outside the Church don’t fall for that line. They know it for what it is:  Crap.