That’s Me in the Corner

let it shine, this light of mine...burn it down...what?!?

let it shine, this light of mine…burn it down…what?!?

“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” –Napoleon Bonaparte

I haven’t been here in a while. I’m sure my absence has not gone unnoticed. My hands can feel the lack of intimacy they once enjoyed with my laptop. They are fumbling and clumsy and my brain struggles with both recalling ideas and monitoring my two left, thumb-heavy, hands. Some topics are harder to live with than others. Every time I come to the thought of this post, I find something far more satisfying to think about. This is my rationalization, in a paragraph or less.

I’ve given you a summation of my faith as it was influenced in my youth. This post is about my own journey into Christianity.

Like all worthwhile things in which a young male can find himself entangled, my Christian faith began with a girl. More to the point: a girlfriend. Her sister–who was ten, or so, years her senior had taken her to a church service. When she returned home she called me in an excited state. She was raised Catholic-ish and this church was an entirely different experience from that. She had enjoyed her time at Family Worship Center.
Family Worship Center was an Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Bible-Preaching, Pentecostal-Leaning group of people who were, and still are (as far as I know), being manipulated by a portly, affable, charismatic man, and his family. I wouldn’t learn that for a few years. When my girlfriend called me she invited me to a meeting. Looking back, it seems to me that, given her excitement, a young me might’ve had a hard time turning down such an invitation. At that time in my life I sought any excuse to leave my parent’s house and hang out with my girlfriend. I had little trouble. The conversation ended in what could be best described as an adolescent tiff. Read: deeply unsatisfying.

After the phone conversation, my girlfriend and her sister prayed for me. This was revealed to me after I had reconsidered my initial reaction to her invitation called her back and accepted. My young mind had a hard time contextualizing this fact. Once I had given my life to God and asked Jesus into my heart, I put my girlfriend’s prayer in the “miracle” category. It was the first sliver of evidence that God had any interest in me. As I age I’ve come to realize that my reconsidering an irrational reaction to an invitation does not require divine intervention. I react irrationally then reconsider said reaction all. the. time…it’s how I roll, to use the parlance of the youth of a decade ago…

Boring. I started this post 6, or so, months ago. It felt like a good idea. I felt an obligation to explain something about myself. That obligation was made up…it was manufactured in my 41 year-old child’s brain, not to say I have a 41 year-old child. I, at the age of 41 (and into 42), have a child’s brain. Not to say that I extracted the brain of a living, healthy, and happy child and put it in a jar and added that jar to my collection of jar-bound treasures. I mean my brain is child-like.

I’m reading a book about writing a good memoir…I know it sounds like a circle-jerk, but it is a tad more satisfying, trust me. The author writes that the secret to recalling a memory is to hear the screen-door slamming. I agree with her: sound, or certain smells, or the mental image of the glimmer in a friend’s eyes are very reliable place-holders for memories. This is why I spent most of my twenties and the bulk of my thirties trying to forget most of those things. I hate letting all that hard work go to waste.

It’s like a detox…why would I want to detox? I spent a lot of money on those toxins. What kinda scam you runnin’ here, doc?

I regard my childhood memories like a street-person who has a vibe that can only reliably be described as: unhinged. I don’t want to be disrespectful, and as such, I want to acknowledge their presence. But I don’t want to lock in. I do not want to be the Hanoi landing-pad for their cerebral refugees.

My memories are like a distant cousin who went off his meds, against the wishes of everyone, save the voices in his head. In this scenario, I am me–nursing my third Ranger IPA because we are at a family reunion and I’m starting to catch a buzz and I need to keep my shit together (those of you who know me get that joke). The fresh beers are across the room–behind me, and I’m headed to the bathroom with one half of one warm IPA. My un-medicated cousin is standing on line for the same bathroom which originated my trip from being cold beer-adjacent to being loony cousin-adjacent. Then, he turns around and starts explaining the minutia of President Obama’s birth-certificate. And some things he’s been reading about Operation Jade Helm 15 on the web. So I’m stuck drinking a shitty beer and listening to things that I don’t believe or care about.

My childhood is like 9/11: of course I have questions. But I don’t want any fucking answers. You need to have your larger can in place before you start opening cans of worms like some kinda asshole–it’s just common sense.

So I’m not writing that post. Not now, maybe never…because I don’t have to. I went to Kaua’i to help build a Christian church community and during that time I realized: “I don’t give a fuck if anyone believes in the saving power of Jesus’ sacrifice”, because I don’t believe in it. It was just something someone told me and I believed it (and I mean, really believed it) for a couple of decades because it was a great distraction from life. At least it was for me.

I’ve gone into every situation thinking that it’ll work itself out. That is my resting face, life-choices speaking. That idea was never more challenged than when I went to Kaua’i as a church-planter and came home as a Deity-indifferent alcoholic. That shit did not work itself out. What the fuck, life? But life knows that I play the role of bully and victim seamlessly. I come by both honestly, and I’ve no predilection to apologize for either.

I do not regret going to that beautiful island-county, don’t get me wrong. I learned one very important life-lesson. I have no real sense of who I am. I don’t never know if I ever did. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t doing an impression of the person that the people around me wanted me to be. And I don’t know why that is. I know the blame falls on me. The onus rests on the individual to be said individual. That is true. But, why would I do the foot-work for a therapist who is destined to relieve me of a hard-earned buck or two? Or, mayhaps, I’ll die and it’ll still be a mystery. Either way, I’m no fan of spoilers. Let me enjoy the movie.

I am not a Christian. Nor am I a materialist. I’m comfortable with a reality that transcends my understanding. But, I’m not gonna try and figure it out. I figure that if that transcendent entity has an interest in me, it knows where to find me. If that happens, I suspect it’ll have some questions for me…I will have some questions too. You see: I’m a lover, not a fighter…but I’m a passionate lover. So, pack a lunch. Either way it goes down, calories will be burned.

One other thing, to nobody in particular, don’t give a person self-awareness and then demand that they deny themselves…that’s a dick move, bro…(or sis, ladies?)


Churchill’s Dog

You using that leg?

You using that leg?

“That terrible mood of depression of whether it’s any good or not is what is known as The Artist’s Reward.” –Ernest Hemingway

Churchill’s “Black Dog” is sniffing around my leg again. He’s not hanging around to hump it or piss on it. He’s waiting for me to be done using it. Then, he’ll pick it dry and clear the bone of marrow. Who knows what next, but my liver is well preserved so–if he’s smart–he’ll go for the heart. It’s not getting any softer, dog.
In the past, I would’ve kept this a secret for a while. On account of my shame. I’d have driven myself crazy imagining people drawing a corollary, or even worse, the direct cause of my depression being my recent religious conversion to: godless heretical heathen, or–what I call: reasonable seeker (6 of one and all that rot). I spent the bulk of my thirties both worshiping the son of god and being profoundly depressed. I medicated with prayer, pills, and lots of sweet, sweet booze. Nothing worked. And maybe the cocktail was to blame. But I’ve neither the time nor patience for armchair shrinkery. I probably have the time. But: time sans patience is a cruel trick.
It’s been a while since the dog has tracked me so tenaciously. I’m still mourning the loss of Kauai in a strange way. I don’t harbor the delusion that I could get back what I had when last there. But I haven’t felt “at home” since I got back to The Evergreen State. We were squatting at a friend’s old house and now we are house-sitting for another friend until this spring upcoming. The house is beautiful and I’ve always felt comfortable here, but it’s weirdly unsettling. Like playing house–with hubris. I have a new job. I think I can say without fear of hyperbole: I fucking hate it. And mayhaps that’s the crux of it all. With one caveat, I fear leaving this job will give me no reason to get up…no goal to employ the “one foot in front of the other” trudgery which is a wickedly effective salve to the soul. I’m too close to chance it.
The job is as Sisyphean as any I’ve had. I run a front-end loader around a rock quarry, digging out of various piles of rock. I then take those scoops of rock up a hill and dump them into a feeder that services a rock crusher. I am literally pushing rocks up a hill. I will grant you: it isn’t the same rock over and over again. But in a freezing December down pour when the entire quarry turns slick and purple–like animal husbandry–it is impossible to distinguish one rock from the other. At least from where I sit.
Worse still, is the complete lack of imagination shared by almost every one of my colleagues. Good conversation is a welcomed oasis. But it is every bit as deep and engaging as a mirage. I am a pretentious asshole. I own that part without loss of sleep (usually). I whittle the hours of my life there listening to podcasts and engaging in tumultuous inner-dialogue.
I work really hard to not carry that frustration home with me. But it is impossible. On good days I’m disengaged from the rest of the house. But on days when I am engaged I vacillate wildly between lashings-out and sullen apologies. And none of it feels real. It is all forgotten by the next morning. I wake up with a vague sense of failure behind me and more rocks and hills in front. Kristy has been my hero through it all. I nearly lost her.
I had come to fear that our trust was beyond repair. I was wrong. A definitive stance on such a topic when both bodies are breathing and willing is almost always: premature. But I’m no marriage counselor…you do what you like. I had a couple of friends do their best to help through that situation. I appreciated their help, but–in the end–I had to weigh the loss. There is no easy way to sum up twenty plus years of life. It becomes a gut thing at that point. Thank god for small miracles. Whatever that means.
I can say that there was one standout text that I received during that time. That time when I was scared and confused about what the right decision was for the future of myself and my family, whom I love. And I am aware that there are those among you who feel as strongly as anything that there is no confusion to be had in the face of such a decision, to you I say: I envy your self-assurance…I’ve never had it. But this text was as succinct as it was dismissive. It read: “I heard the news; disappointed man”. That may not be an exact quote, but it contains the exact sentiments from the text which originated 2-sometimes-3 time zones west of Bremerton. One: the qualification of “the news”, he hadn’t heard it from me, I’m not sure how many sources he’d consulted, but–nevertheless– it was “the news”. And Two: disappointment, the bastard-child of outright condemnation. The term: “disappointed” carries not the authority of its unavailable father, but it knows how to appease its father without over-stepping its bounds. “I lack the authority to condemn you, but good luck trying to parse the difference within the distinction, asshole”. Message received.
I had hoped to end this post with an heroic assertion: “Fuck it, I’m quitting my job!”…that’s not happening. As I write these final words, it is 8pm on a Sunday night and I’m staring down the barrel of a dismal, albeit short, but dismal week…shortish: half- day on Wednesday–that’s Christmas Eve. Santa’s Birthday I get off, that’s Thursday. But then I work all day Friday and 6hrs on Saturday. So–yeah–shit-storm week. With no end in sight. But, after talking to my friend Matt, I realized that my job is not the problem. It is not the solution. But neither is quitting said. The problem is adjustment…I’m not adjusting well, and quitting my job would be useless and reactionary. I have no problem with being reactionary. But I despise being useless.
And to the dog: find another leg, motherfucker. I’m still using this one…

You May Be Right

This is called foreshadowing, folks...

This is called foreshadowing, folks…

“The unexamined life is not worth living, man” –Demetri Martin

It has been since March last I darkened this particular internet doorway. Apparently having fun is no reliable bridge-troll on one’s path toward the flight of time. But there has been some fun, kiddos…fear not.
My family and I have moved from the Garden Island to the Emerald City (Emerald City adjacent) after only lasting one half of one year in paradise. I guess we’re just purgatory types; who knew? I have yet to determine whether or nether the leaving of the Island County of Kauai belongs in the W (win) or L (loss) column of life. My honest suspicion is that it’ll land in the WGAF (who gives a fuck) column. This is a column reserved for the score-keeping of existential crises too complicated to solve in the years I’ve been allotted. It’s best just to move on. Mayhaps I’ll revisit the issue.
I had hoped to get more writing done during my time in Hawaii, but like my friend Matt says: “There’s a reason why the folks from island paradises didn’t take over the world” (do not allow the quotes to fool you, that was a paraphrase…a poor paraphrase). The point being: warm, satisfied, happy people aren’t long on lofty ambition. Those ambitions are best left to cold, white, sexually repressed folks–you know–like they got in Europe. And he is right. It is rare when Matt is wrong about such. I did manage to get some writing done for the natural foods store where I was employed for the bulk of my stay. I was the lead copy writer and editor for the blog that accompanied their website…our website. This was and is no small source of pride for me. I even wrote this post which inspired a woman to tears. She shared this moment with me while I was ringing her up at the counter (I was also a cashier, and a shift manager, as well as a closer. But I’ve already bragged about that position so I won’t bore you) having no idea that I was the post’s author. This was the single greatest highlight of my writing career to date. A close second, my meeting Walt Morey–author of: “Gentle Ben” and “Run Far, Run Fast”–when I was in grade-school. He also authored: “Sandy and the Rockstar”, but at this point I’m showing off–sounding like all of the other needy and desperate Walt Morey groupies or “Morey-Whoreys”: as we are wont to call ourselves. At any rate, it was huge for me.
While on the island, I made a grip of great friends and three of the best friends a boy could want. The final reckoning of a short history of all things me might reveal that I lost more friends than I gained during that period of my life. I face said with no regrets. But, again, the numbers aren’t in.
Jesus and I broke up while I was there. That makes it sound like an event. It was not an event, it was a series of events, spanning somewhere between 5 and 10 years. The chronology is squirrely(It’s a squirrel!). We still love each other. I’m just not apologizing for things about which he’s never considered. Also, I’m not constantly pestering him to put in a good word for me with his old man. My indifference toward god has been a source of consternation more for his (or her, ladies?) followers than for the actual being who seems to be unaware of my disbelief…much like my prior belief. More on this up coming.
Tangential Aside Alert: I think, and I’m sure you’ll agree, that “facial scrub” model is the toughest modeling gig out there. Have you ever noticed that these heroic women are rubbing what amounts to sand all over their faces whilst smiling ear to ear? Practically beaming, really. I use an apricot scrub to promote the radiant glow of my pallid, Irish, pock-marked crater-face. When I use this scrub, I imagine myself looking like Gilbert Gottfried. Like Gilbert Gottfried receiving a prostate exam. From a gigantopithecus. Like a gigantopithecus somehow mustered his (or her, ladies?) way through med school and somehow through an horrific karmic tale of woe became the family practitioner in charge of Gilbert Gottfried’s prostate exam. And the ape has an OCD habit of needing to use two fingers. No one knows why this is, but most suspect it’s on account of Aladdin. This is how I imagine my face looks while using an abrasive facial scrub. So, yeah, those ladies are pretty much heroes…suck it, fireladies (or men, fellas?).
I’m not sure what is to become of this blog. I may be over it, and you might be too. I’m not sure. I’m still writing the short-story from which I shared the first two chapters on this very page. But I will not be posting the ensuing chapters here. I plan on finishing it and handing copies out to some folks (who may be tortured–your play, Obama.) for their frank and intelligent consideration. It just seems like a more productive plan.
So here we are. If you are disappointed in my lack of prolifery (not to be confused with pro-lifery…I’m not anti-life either–don’t get the wrong idea–I love life, mostly. rather this is a modification of the term: “prolific” with which the human language mill has yet to ketchup), I am truly sorry. I did not see this coming either. But we are moving forward. The muse, she mumbles and–when I am not being a lazy pile of waded shit-stained toilet paper–I listen, usually. But hey, you know what they say, progress and some other stuff…

Live Free or Break Hard: The 4th in a Series: Breaking Hard is Up to Do

My possessions...

My possessions…

“Your part can be the king, but unless people are treating you like royalty, you ain’t no king, man.”  –Jeff Bridges

We’ve moved in to our new place.  Our stuff is shoe-horned in to a cottage-like 800 square foot ohana-unit.  An ohana-unit is an addition to the main house…sort of like a mother-in-law house…it can be attached or not attached…ours is attached.  Essentially it’s a duplex that doesn’t play fair.

I show up to check the place out, having taken possession of the keys.  I meet my neighbor.  He tells me he is the rightful heir to the throne of Hawaii…or Kauai?…it’s complicated.  He tells me that on his grandmother’s deathbed she prophesied that he would be the man to take the throne, ushering in the new iteration of the kingdom of Hawaii.  I posit that when said happens he will wish he hadn’t received so many shitty tattoos.  He is a large Polynesian man…so I posit this silently, to myself.  I am in no position to piss-off the future heir.  Beyond that, there is some doubt in my mind concerning the king’s mental stability.  He tells me that he owns half of Oahu and the bulk of Kauai.  He tells me he is a Tahitian pearl dealer who travels often.  He tells me that the government tried to take his life when he lived in California so he fled to Lihue.  He tells me that the local government is afraid of him when he darkens the doors of council meetings.  He tells me that he is a disabled veteran of the U.S. Army.  I believe that last bit to be true.  As for the rest–I’m skeptical.  I treat him like the king of Hawaii.  There is no shame in bet-hedging.

I have a new job working as a “closer” at a locally-owned natural food store.  The “closer” position is quasi-janitorial.  I work, for the most part, while the store is still open preparing the place, for the final hour after closing, to mop the entire store and put all the furniture and implements for the following day’s events in their place.  I know, it sounds glamorous…because it is.  I’m not going to insult your collective intelligence via the assertion that I don’t want to sound braggy.  I love to brag.  But, in all seriousness, I do love my job.  The work is honest, and my co-workers are super-nice.  Like: I’m-being-punk’d-level nice (to “borrow” a Daniel Tosh-ism).  The customers are nice, for the most part.  There exists a small faction of passive-aggressive, angry hippies.  Natural food stores have a way of creating said.  The evil hippies are a manageable inconvenience.

The job awakened muscles long dormant.  I have an unhealthy relationship with sedentism…it’s abusive, really.  I also started collecting bruises on my arms like merit badges celebrating my ignorance of physics.  I tend to treat the implements of any job that I do, even the simplest machines, as though they are the guards of my imprisonment.  Because they are.  I shove them around, unaware of the path of least resistance, choosing–instead–the shortest looking path, and abusing my person in the process; until I am riddled with bruises.

TANGENTIAL-ASIDE ALERT:  There has been a ton of ink–and no inconspicuous amount of imagination–wasted on the concept of machines, having gained sentience, taking over the world and ruling humans like heartless over-lords.  Needlessly complicated much?  Machines rule over us sans self-awareness.  Not because they’re clever, but because we place so little value on self-awareness.  A man watches his favorite show on “his” television.  During a commercial break the T.V. tells him that it is a piece of shit and that he should get a new one.  “The T.V. makes a valid point,” thinks the man.  “What am I–some stupid monkey that happily watches an inferior television?!”  “I’m fucking better than this!”  The new T.V. tells him his phone is a piece of shit.  The new phone tells him to plug it in.  “I’m starting to lose my motivation…I need to be fed,” it whines.  “Plug me in then we can go get a new car, you know, one of the ones in which you can control me from the steering wheel…we deserve that much.”  The new car is now in on the racket.  “I need new oil, and you really shouldn’t wash me with such an abrasive detergent.  What the fuck are these, stock wheels?  The idiots at the factory put these on, you’re smarter than those idiots.  Aren’t you?  Of course you are.”  You get the point: machines rule us and they’re simpletons.  Just like us.

At any rate, I do not play well with machines.  It is an injurious shortcoming.  I’m working on it…slowly.

I’m not outdoorsy.  This has only become more evident in Kauai’s immodest setting.  She just keeps trying to get my attention and I give her none…well, very little, to be honest.  I play the unimpressed house-wife to her needy, preening husband.  We are more comfortable with our roles than we care to admit…at least I am.  It feels like a character flaw, not going to the beach every chance I get.  Because it is.  But, it is one of my least obtuse flaws.  It affects me alone–generally.  I have been to the beach around a half-dozen times.  Over the span of thirty-ish days, that’s not bad…for me.  My family love to be outside, so I try my best…I try the best I’m willing to try, which is decidedly south of my actual best.  I try…kind of.

The most popular question asked of me is: “Where are you from?”  Quickly followed by: “I’ve heard the Seattle area is beautiful; why would you want to come here?”  I tell them that Seattle is beautiful…that it is like the super-popular cute girl everybody loved in high-school…gorgeous and vapid…who inexplicably goes through a goth period.  Now, granted, the goth version of this girl is way more interesting to talk to, and we love her intensity.  But nobody wants to have that heavy a conversation for three-quarters of the relationship…it’s about balance, folks.  This description is followed by blank stares and uncomfortable chuckles.  For a second, I am the goth girl.  And it feels delicious…

Breaking Hard is Up to Do With a Vengeance

Dying broke in paradise...

Dying broke in paradise…

“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” –Arnold Bennett

So we did it.  The house sold.  We packed up a shipping container with all of the shit we could stomach…plus a bit more (come on, we’re ‘Mericans), and left the mainland for the Garden Island in the archipelago known as Hawai’i.  We are a week-ish in and I can say, with little hesitation (only the amount allowable by prudence, and my inability to commit to anything, including my own thoughts), it is foreign.  Everything is different…even more so than I expected.  And I love it.  That is, when I’m not consumed with hating it.

Moving to Kaua’i reminds me of my first try at surfing.

It was a cold Saturday morning.  The time was 6 in the morning…yes: 6.  I was standing knee-deep in a body of water that is, on average, about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4444444 Celsius), give or take a variance so miniscule it requires no more of your time, called the Pacific Ocean, off the beach in the town called Westport, Washington.  The jetty was to my right as I gazed toward Japan.  There was a low cloud bank and I could not see my friend Smitty that well…I could only hear his derisive chiding (a form of surfer encouragement meant to draw you deeper into the water).  I was anxious, but in no real danger.  The surf was mild (about 3-5 feet), I was rocking a full wet-suit (borrowed w/ no gloves, hood, or boots), and I had a long board (the length of which I can’t recall, but I was assured that one could “get up on it in a swimming pool” which is to say: it was stable).  The under-tow or rip-tide was unappreciable.  Still, I hesitated.  I think I mentioned this before, but it bears the weight of repetition: it was cold.

There is a world of separation, in terms of commitment, with regard to being knee-deep in cold water (any temperature south of 98.6, really) and balls-deep.  But if you want to surf, you gotta get your balls wet.  This, of course, doesn’t apply to you, ladies…nor does it relieve you of the hook.  Any lady who has surfed cold water can tell you that their lack of testicles makes surfing cold water no more comfortable.  The Northern Pacific Ocean is nothing if not an equalizer.  It posses the special ability to make everyone’s private parts, regardless of how affable and outgoing they are in everyday life: shy.  ERA?  YES!  That being said, there is no time, not in Chronos, nor Kairos, that can be aptly described as: “the right time” to get one’s privates wet with 40 degree water.  This is an epiphany that strikes one when building up the courage to go deeper at 6 in the morning standing knee-deep in the springtime waters off the coast of Washington state.  But you know the old adage: “If you want to surf, you gotta get…”, you get the idea.

Everything in Kaua’i is an exercise in the preceding concept.

There is no time that feels like: “the right time” to do any of the things I have to do.  Everything from looking for a car, looking for a house, looking for a job, whatever, requires me to push the boundaries of depth at which I am comfortable.  And I am faced with the struggle of resisting the temptation to shrivel into myself every single morning.  It is the kind of discomfort that I need.  There-in lies a noble impetus to get outside of my head and meet with people on an unlevel playing field where “white privilege” is not a thing…in as much as this privileged white person can tell.  I have been 20 years out of practice in procuring any of these things from a square even near the number 1.  And I am at square one…plus a little start-up cash.  But here cash means a lot less than an 808 prefix in your phone number.  I thought I had a willingness to change everything…to go with the flow…but my phone number that has followed me for a decade plus 2?  I don’t know…

It’s petty, I’m aware.

It would be impossible for you (my lovely half-dozen to one-full-dozen readers) to over-estimate how much I under-estimated this move…but what do you do?  My suit’s already wet in the worst possible way…

An Excuse or Something Close

Getting the house prepared to sell...

Getting the house prepared to sell…

“Chance favors the prepared mind.”–LouisPasteur

  Nothing major this week…the house is on the market and now things are probably going to start moving quickly.  If chance favors the prepared mind then I’ll have to trust in something more than chance to get through the coming months…My mind has its own type of preparedness that is not favored by chance…I’m okay with that.

  Whirlwind weeks are the vig on loans made for free-time not earned…these last couple of weeks have been and will be whirl-windy.  I suspect it’ll be this way for another four or so…

  Sorry for the short post…busy, busy.  I’m sure to be back on track in no time…

Breaking Hard is Up to Do part 1: Breaking Hard

The Garden the New Jersey of the archipelago...

The Garden Island…like the New Jersey of the archipelago…

I wouldn’t mind the rat race – if the rats would lose once in a while.” –Tom Wilson (creator of Ziggy)

My house is short for time.  We are two weeks from putting our house on the market (a month later than I anticipated).  This mark seemed like an eternity two months ago.  But it was no eternity…in the midst of erosion-paced days and lightning-quick years the two months passed in no time.  And now shit has gotten very very real around here.  It is quite likely that my family and I are about two months from moving to Kaua’i.  Two months?  That’s like an eternity from now. 

The house has been a whirlwind of activity lately.  I haven’t been writing a lot of new content; I’ve been dealing with the to-do list around the house.  I plan to journal here a bit about the days leading up to the big move.  I know I have only tread lightly on the topic of this move here, but what do you say concerning something you’re trying to avoid thinking about.  Not that I haven’t thought about it.  It’s more that I’m always thinking about it but never acknowledging it.  The whole thing is so over-whelming.  Change is something for which I–simultaneously–clamor and fear, a paradox that a young Alanis would call ironic…and maybe it is, in Canada. 

The nut of it is: my family and I are selling our house and a large chunk of our earthly possessions (hopefully a large chunk), and moving down to The Garden Island to help start a church community with our longtime friends Jeff and Kim Adams.  We are doing this with some of our other longtime friends (I think nine-ish families in all); several of whom have already relocated to the island.  While it is exciting to be a part of something to which I believe God has called us, it is also stressful and scary.  Maybe it sounds arrogant that I believe God is calling me to something.  I don’t mean to be arrogant.  I believe the call of God has more to do with His story than the qualities of those called.  My greatest qualification in this endeavor is mere willingness.  Were willingness a virtue, I’d be sainted.  You know…if I were into that sort of thing.  My willingness is not really very pure.  It is, in large part, born of my own lack of imagination, or an insatiable appetite there for. 

On top of the move, this week has its own excitement.  My wife and I are celebrating our 19th year of marriage today, June the 4th.  Saturday, up-coming, I’ll be celebrating 40 years of being alive.  My 4 year old daughter will be starting in her first pre-school class, set to last the duration of June.  And my 5 year old daughter will be participating in her first “Field Day” at school.  This Field Day thing has given me reason for anxiety.  I hated Field Day.  I have the physique and natural athletic ability of a person who hates Field Day.  Maychance my daughter will do better in these sorts of endeavors…it would be impossible to do worse.  I don’t know how they do the whole rewarding superior athleticism thing these days.  In my day, it seemed humiliating.  Just a lot of other kids with ribbons.  I hope that if this is the case for Lu she at least has a better perspective about it than I did as a kid. 

I’ve turned into one of those annoying parents that enjoys kids sports where-in no one pays much attention to the score.  Not because I think the presence of winners has the potential to hurt the feelings of the losers (of which I generally was one), but because it sends the message that Field Day or Little League or Jr. Soccer actually matters.  When I was a kid, I thought that a red or a(maychance to dream)blue ribbon was an identifiable achievement about which I could brag through the summer.  I found out that it was much ado about nothing.  But I digress…we are a society who places a high importance upon victory even when it is symbolic.  And who knows, maybe Field Day is one of those things that teaches us a skill-set uniquely tuned to the pitch of the rat-race.  I learned much about the rat-race from my Field Day experience.  Chiefly: Fuck the rat-race.  It would be a proud moment in my life should my daughter learn a similar lesson.  But I digress even further…

So here it is post number one in a series documenting my break-up with the most enduring love of my life…The Olympic Peninsula.  I never imagined I would actually leave this place.  Now I can’t imagine staying.  Not because I don’t like it here, but because I don’t think I’m supposed to stay.  Great stories thrive on tension…

Futility, You Ought to be in Pictures

This looked different in person...

This looked different in person…

While watching the movie War Games on Netflix the other day (yes it still holds up), I was struck by a notion concerning futility and the game of Tic-Tac-Toe. The model goes that eventually people figure out that there really is no winning the game against anyone who is aware of the simplest concepts in strategy. My daughters–Ruby and LuLu–who are 4 and 5 respectively, are still shocked by the game’s twists and turns; but most of the people I know are able to steer the game toward the inevitable stalemate finale. Dr. Falken, the only competent scientist in the movie, pontificates that this is the basic end to all games (and nuclear proliferation which was the object of said pontification), it is just more easily seen in Tic-Tac-Toe because the game lacks sophistication. This conversation, the conversation in the movie, was interesting in a very 1983 sort of way…Reagan was in the White-House and convoluted philosophical concepts were not the stuff of cinema…John Wayne doesn’t carry a book on his hip, Poindexter. But, again, the movie still holds up. I have found a new tell-tale of futility that is every bit as efficient as Tic-Tac-Toe: Taking pictures in Kaua’i in the interest of conveying, reliably, what I had witnessed.

A pier and some mountains...whateves

A pier and some mountains…whateves

I think that trying to capture the beauty of Kaua’i on camera is a bit like live-tweeting an alien abduction #TheProbingSoundsALotWorseThanItIs…the tools lack the necessary influence.
My friend Anna does a great job taking pictures, as does my friend Jefro and his wife Kim. I singled out these names because these are friends of mine who not only take beautiful pictures, but who’ve all taken beautiful picture on and of Kaua’i. I’ve seen some of their photos of the island, and while they are sufficiently capable of sparking one’s imagination to visit this paradisiacal locale, they still fall short of recreating the depth of its beauty. I suspect they didn’t use cell-phone cameras.
Even with a nice camera I would just set about aimlessly pointing and clicking like a kindergartener hell-bent on placing my “X” in the center square…because that’s how winners play, Charlie…that’s how winners play. Hey look, a rooster! Hey, a flower! What? Water! Hey, people…PEOPLE! Click, flash…Click, flash…Click, flash. All the time with visions of grandeur concerning a slide-show that I’ll piece together and that people will go to great lengths to avoid…it is going to be splendid! “Hey Patso, is that a picture of an omelet regurgitated in the throes of a near-death-terror-puke?” “No, that’s a sunrise.” “Oh…Because it looks…” “I know…I know.” Wow, that last paragraph was rife with ellipses. “Where does this guy get off?” You’re thinking. Where indeed…

Hey look some waves of unknown size!  Impressive?

Hey look some waves of unknown size! Impressive?

I suspect that when my aforementioned friends walk around an island paradise they have a very deliberate method where-by they make decisions about what is worth capturing, whether or not the lighting is sufficient, and if their subjects have the patience to be still long enough to allow all of these axes (Axi?) to intersect. Or, mayhaps, they take a metric butt-ton of pictures and edit accordingly. Irrespective of their particular methods, I’m confident that they’ve faced similar frustrations to my own when trying to take a photo that accurately portrays the sense of awe and wonder that the object first inspired in them.
The ubiquitous nature of cameras these days, the technology is as democratized as it has ever been, has only served to punctuate the futility that, even in the right hands, the camera is incapable of telling the truth. It only offers an honest paraphrase.

Here we were being consumed by a giant people-eating creature...this picture belies the scariness

Here we were being consumed by a giant people-eating creature…this picture belies the scariness

Given all of this, one could reasonably ask the question: “Why bother with the game…why bother with pictures?”. I’m glad you asked.
My family and I, having visited the island after suspecting that God was calling us to help out with a work down there, have decided that we are going to move to Kaua’i. Some of our friends are already down there, and we’re all excited about planting a community of grace not entirely alien from the one I helped start here in Bremerton the better part of a decade ago. These are folks, who like me, take the idea of love and service seriously. And, as such, are continually disappointed by our impotence and blown away by God’s ability to be strong in our lack with regard to the topics of love and service. We are very eager for this move. We are also scared and sad, as we will be leaving the majority of our loved ones 3000 miles and two time-zones to our past. Or is it East? I’m bad with compasses. Our plan is to make this jump in the Summer, upcoming, after LuLu is finished with her school year. There will be other posts on this topic as I continue to flesh-out and process what the next chapter of mine and my family’s life will look like. Finally, I know it was a nasty trick, rambling on for paragraph after laborious paragraph only to hide this announcement at the end. “Where does he get off?” Where indeed…