Friday, October 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Ideally for you, my lurking blog readers, I would update daily. Sometimes that ain’t possible due to our host homes being, in general, FOUR HUNDRED MILES away from a wireless signal. Last night we slept in a guest house across from a vineyard in Madera, CA.
Before that, we played for a youth group in Fresno. Then today we went to a high school and talked to a Christian club. I love teenagers. I wish I could tell them that now is not forever, and it will get easier and it will get harder, but it’s just 4 years! But I don’t tell them that, because I am NOT OLD.
You don’t really ever get to stop being a youth pastor. You can be a retired youth pastor, or a reluctant youth pastor, but if you love kids, it keeps coming back.
I am really inspired to write these days. I am having lots of deep and potentially profound thoughts, but not so much the time to write them down. Also, I don’t want this to become Debbie Downer’s Flotsam and Jetsom.
Tomorrow, we drive 12 hours to Sandy, UT. Maybe I will write some stuff then. Or, I will eat Hot Fries, get nauseated, try to take a nap but get my head bounced so fiercely by the back tires or shocks or whatever that I will give up on that so I will read my Bible and listen to Kim Walker for an hour or two and then I will eat some other
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
He sits in a plastic lawn chair on the Santa Monica Pier with an acoustic guitar. His matted blond and white hair is pulled into a ponytail which falls haphazardly over his army jacket.
Spread out behind him is the expanse of the Pacific Ocean, sunlight shattering across the ripples. The sky is a heartbreaking clear blue, divided by masts of boats and seagulls rising and falling. He doesn’t see it. He stares into a wooden staircase, where an old black man sits on the landing wearing a bright blue pinstripe suit and yellowed dress socks- he gives the impression of having sat there, on that step, for years.
If they have sat there, year after year, one singing and one listening, they give no clear sign of recognition, no bond but the bond of the refugee. One sings sad songs, songs about Vietnam in a clear and classic voice, and all the tourists are sobered as they pass. The other waits, old dress shoes hanging loosely over the weathered plank bleachers. Nothing is coming, and nothing will change. They wait.
The singer strums and pours out his blood as the Asian tourist holds his camcorder and observes from a 4 foot radius. A dollar bill is dropped in his guitar case. He sings about saying goodbye to his brother while a teenager and her boyfriend pass, hands in each other’s pockets, carefree and in love. He doesn’t see them. He sees the steps, and the pain, and the dollars.
We sit on the faded blue bench in the hot sun and listen, our backs to the singer. His harmonica weeps and then he sings about knocking on heaven’s door. Everything is quiet but the clarity of his voice and the harmonica reminding us that we, all of us, are in need.
Monday, October 26, 2009
The previous sections to this story are over on the sidebar under the label "Telenova"
I’d been thinking about it for weeks. No question, my father was dying. And there ain’t no question he was a bad man. Whatever inheritance he had waiting on me was probably some kinda rotten ol mobile home and a mound of debts and some ol mangy dog that wasn’t worth the bullet.
Still, like Hank Jr. and Jimmy been sayin over and over, he IS my dad, and I should be loyal and go on over and see him, just to honor a dyin man’s wish. Hank Jr. is pretty concerned about how I would live with myself if I let that old reprobate die without so much as a how’re you… maybe he’s right. It’s the sweetest thing, Hank Jr. worryin about me. Too bad he’s a skunk of a man.
It’s times like this I wish I had a mama to ask questions. I did ask my mama, back in 2nd grade, about a boy I liked. She said she figured I was old enough to make my own decisions. I don’t recall ever askin her for advice after that.
Somehow though, I had a thought to watch her show today, see if maybe it give me some ideas for what to do with my ol man.
First off, she had woke up from her coma, but she was in some kinda secret identity or something. She was all dressed up like a schoolteacher with some big glasses and her shirt all buttoned up. I tell you what, I almost didn’t recognize her without her bosoms. She was arguing with a different angry man than usual, and whoo boy, he was givin her what-for. Now, I don’t speak much Spanish but it might have had something to do with a chicken.
Then, just when I was getting into it, mama’s former angry guy is in a bedroom with a real creaky old man, yelling and lifting up his hand like he was gonna slap him and the old man was too weak to argue, and then the old fella remembers my mama looking just about the same old age as she is now except she was obviously a teenager because she had two pigtails and bows in her hair and such. And she’s just crying and carryin on and slammin doors and then this music starts and she looks up and everything gets real blurry and she hugs the old man and then we were back in the room with the angry man and the old fella is layin there lookin real weak and such.
I was getting pretty interested in the whole story line when Jimmy come busting through the door screaming about pigs. I thought maybe some pigs was chasing him till 4 police cars pulled up in the yard and then those officers was yelling about surroundin the house and what not . Dadgum idiot. I tell you what.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Attention, dog lovers. Prepare to be offended. But first, I will tell you about last night’s ministry.
Every stop is basically pull in, eat lunch at the church, set up gear for a loooong time and then eventually soundcheck and practice for a while and then maybe some caffeine IV drips and then prayer and then the service and then dinner. So that’s what we did.
This was a youth group in El Paso, and they were great. Youth groups are usually fun because they are not as cool as young adults or as “mature” as adult audiences and therefore, they dance. Which I love. I dance too. I might be getting old. I will not succumb to age’s call yet… not yet. The whole night ended up prophetic ministry to individuals. It was pretty heavy and awesome. Then we had Taco Cabana. Also heavy and awesome.
Now, I will talk about dogs. Hate em. Our hosts were super nice, and their house was great and no problem. They did, however, have dogs and thus inspired this post.
Dogs are SO intimidating. Why do they bark, with their insolent glares and their razor sharp teeth? Cats are so reasonable. If a cat hates you, they usually just shun you entirely, or maybe take the occasional swipe at your passing ankle. Dogs don’t even have to dislike you. All it has to be is, they don’t recognize you or you smell different or something, and they’re growling and barking. Terrifying. Stupid dogs.
I had more to say, but that was hours ago and I’m over it. If I come to your house and you have ravenous beasts, know that I love you despite that. Now I feel better.
In other news, I will be live-streaming every concert at low quality from my webcam. The link is up above this post.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Should a Texas shaped skillet fill me with joy? Or maybe chili pepper and star muffin pans? I don’t know. All I know is, they do. I feel my heart swell up a little at the Lone Star on a truck bumper. I am a Texan, and I will always be a Texan.
I was privileged enough to have been born here. I can’t imagine claiming Rhode Island or Nebraska as my home state. Not that there’s anything wrong with those states. They just happen to not be Texas.
There’s something about the long stretches of freeway, buildings followed by pine tree after pine tree, melting into long quiet stretches of scrubby hills and brush. Green. Texas stays green. The occasional spark of orange or deep violet wildflower breaks through. I once broke into tears at the sight of bluebonnets.
Don’t even get me started on the food. Thick glass plates holding chicken fried steak, corn on the cob and a mound of mashed potatoes buried in gravy, with a giant sweating glass of iced tea, or a platter of chili-soaked cheese enchiladas with a bowl of deep red smoky salsa on the side. Texas manages to own not only Tex-Mex, but Southern cooking as well.
What I miss the most is being with my people. Texans are a breed. We are fiercely proud of our state. We, for the most part, are deeply patriotic but there is an unspoken understanding that our allegiance to our state goes deeper than our allegiance to our nation. We know Texas history. We remember the Alamo, not as a losing battle but as a heroic victory over fear and retreat.
We, as Texans are not particularly cowed by cultural shift. We have always eaten animals, and we will keep eating animals. We wear our boots and we wear them confidently. We drive our trucks proudly and efficiently right over the former Vice President’s ecological concerns, because they are big and they are tough, and they can do all the things we want our vehicles to do. We believe there is a God, and He is the Big Boss. When Texans break Commandments, they do so with an impending sense of doom, because they know He knows.
I live in a different state now. I like having seasons. I like smaller mosquitoes. I live here, and I love my house and my friends. Still, there is a continual sense of missing a vital part of who I am. I am a Texan.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
First, a disclaimer: I am writing this story serial-style, and not trying to write a masterpiece, or even write RIGHT. This is "eest for fun".
All the previous parts of the story are on the sidebar, under "Telenova". You should read it all.
We sat there squished on the couch for a minute till I couldn’t take it no more, and I jumped up and scooted over to the railing. “I gotta check on the baby,” I said, kinda to the air. “Anybody want some tea?” I was inside before I could hear them answer. I stood in the dining room for a minute before I remembered what I was doing. Lil Hank was sound asleep in his high chair, with macaroni stuck all over his face. Well, good. He could sleep there for a little.
I came back out to the porch and caught the tail end of some kinda muttered threats from Hank Jr. to the lawyer fella, who appeared to be ignoring Hank Jr.. I wanted to tell him good luck with that. I figured out years ago that ignoring Hank Jr. won’t make him go away. Only thing makes Hank Jr. go away is the police, and it has to be one of the police that ain’t his drinkin buddies, which narrows it down considerably.
The lawyer fella (Gregory) started in with a buncha gobbledy-gook. I interrupted him, “Look. You and me both know I don’t know what you’re talking about. Just give it to me straight.” He glanced up for a second and I forgot to breathe. What in the world had got into me? Hank Jr. cleared his throat real hard and kinda kicked at the porch rail.
Gregory looked at his papers again, kinda wistful-like and then put them back in his briefcase. “Okay, then, Jennifer…
Hank snorted. I give him one of them looks and he sat up straight.
“I was hired by your father.”
Hank Jr. stood up then and cussed. “She don’t want nothing to do with him! Lousy no-good-“
I happened to be standing my ownself so I got up close as I could to Hank Jr.’s face and told him I would handle this.
“Well, uh, Jenny.” he muttered. “Your daddy run off and last thing I heard he was in jail, and…” he kinda trailed off.
I was just tryin to handle having a father at all. Me and Jimmy had been our own for so long, and I just quit thinking about him after a while, so this was a shock. I wondered if he was dead. If Mama’s wishin coulda done it, he’da been dead years ago. I never really knew him, so I was surprised that my heart kinda hurt at the thought of him dyin.
I guess Gregory read my mind or my face or something, cause he chimed in there and said he was still alive, but not for long. He was sick, real sick and he wanted to meet me and Jimmy before he died. Seems there was some property involved, and a inheritance, but we had to come and see him first.
Once Gregory finished his explanation, we just sat there quiet for a minute. I thought about the big man in the flannel shirt, always mad, always leaving. I thought about my mama, all alone and cryin. I thought about Grandma tryin to teach Jimmy how to change a tire. I thought about it all, and then I got mad.
“Don’t guess I’ll see him.” I told the lawyer. “Guess he can take his money to hell with him.” And with that I went back inside, to my own house, and my own baby, and shut the door.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
In other news, I will be 31 this week. I will use this opportunity to refer you back to my Proverbs 31 post, which I like a lot. I am confident that by the end of this year, I will have the "virtuous wife" gig in the bag. Stay tuned!
Now, call me a maverick, but I like to have a party every year for my birthday. Some people think that once you hit puberty, you should knock it off with the birthday idea and just have a nice quiet dinner and maybe some cake. Okay, I will do that too. Still. You can take the girl outta the party but you can't take the party outta the girl... So! I will be having a birthday party at Julie D's house on Saturday at 5. Texas pals are invited. It might be our only chance to catch up with you prior to hitting the West Coast, so come on over.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Pros: I can torment Daniel without using my own voice.
Friday, October 9, 2009
It wasn’t like I never held a beautiful man at gunpoint before. I have threatened to kill Hank Jr, for years. One night, he snuck in my window and I hit him with a baseball bat. Knocked him right out into the bushes. I didn’t think he was a burglar, I just didn’t think he had no business coming in my window like he owned the place. He learned him a lesson, come back later that night and knocked on the window, like a gentleman. Also, on more than one occasion I have threatened my brother Jimmy’s life, for various things, like bringing home that no-good Candy, or taking money out of the freezer. So it ain’t like I’m unfamiliar with holdin men accountable to good behavior. This was just the first time with a stranger, who also just happened to look like he was from a magazine.
He took a good step back and his eyes were big like some Disney prince. I was so shook up, I just closed the door in his gorgeous face and put the gun down. Then I opened it up again, real calm-like.
“Can I help you?” I asked him.
He swallowed kinda hard and sorta lifted up his little briefcase thingy. “I represent the law firm of Kensington and Burns-“ he started.
“Oh. Hang on.” I glanced in the dining room real quick, but Jimmy was long gone, just like I figured. We don’t have another door, so he musta jumped out the window. Dadgum idiot. I turned back around and got hit by another wave of appreciation for such a fine specimen of humanity. “Jimmy’s gone. Just leave your warrants or subpoenas or what have you and I’ll try to catch him when he’s real drunk.”
He looked surprised for a split second and then held up a stack of papers. “Actually, Jennifer. It is Jennifer, right?”
My name is Jennifer, but I sure as shootin have never heard it sound so pretty. I just stood there kinda stupid for a minute.
“Her name’s Jenny,” a voice from the yard said. “Only folks call her Jennifer are crooks and lawyers and such.”
That just made me mad. “Listen here, Hank Jr., you mangy ol jailbird. You the last person oughta be talking free about crooks.”
“All I’m sayin is, you ain’t done nothing wrong and you don’t have to talk to this son of a –“
“That’ll do, Hank! I can talk to anybody I want to! And you’re the last person oughta be talking about sons of-“
The lawyer fellow interrupted real quick, “Listen- Jennifer. You aren’t in any kind of trouble. I have some official documents here that I would like to discuss with you.”
I tell you what, I’s ready to discuss just about anything with him, any ol time. I was just about to invite him in when Hank Jr. come up the steps like it was his house and parks hisself right on the porch couch. Of all the nerve. I turned on him and was about to tell him where to go when he looks up at me with kinda a pleading expression and threw me off a bit. I sat down kinda heavy on the couch, and that lawyer fella kinda slid in on the other side of me.
I didn’t know how I was gonna understand any kinda document anywhere, with my senses all rattled by a movie star in a suit and a heartbreaking no good country boy squishin me into a sandwich of confusion. Good Lord.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
If we leave momentarily as planned, we will be back in KC by late afternoon, which sounds all great and easy but it is still 8+ hours of driving...
In reflection, this trip was a bit of a tour-readiness check for the wee ones. #FAIL.
Let me say, they are great at being toddlers, and pretty amazing in their ability to travel for days and days - and as long as the van is moving, everyone is pretty happy. They only melt down/draw on walls/kill fish when the van is stopped. In even further reflection, Toby did all those things.