Thursday, May 30, 2002

It's been too long since I've written.

Well, I'm in a limbo position right now. Not sure where I'll be living in a month from now, what I'll be doing, or anything for that matter. It's a little scary, but I feel it's going to be alright.

Today I'm heading into East Texas. I always seem to find a reason to get back there when I'm going through tough times. I've got to drop off a recommendation letter to Dr. Harris in Marshall. But other than that, I have no agenda.

Driving through the areas where you grew up helps you regain focus. When I get past Athens, see the BBQ restaurant in Murchison, my high school in Brownsboro, and the city of my growing up, Chandler, I am alway reminded of who I really am. And I think, more than any place else, I become who I am when I'm there. I'm no longer a twenty-something wading through roommate, career, relationship, and emotional issues. I become the boy again who is loved by people in a small community. When I stop by the snow cone stand in Chandler owned and ran by my kindergarten teacher, I'm once again a person who has someone to take care of him.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

The situation of the past few days has died down quite a bit. We are looking at a four bedroom house in town. Kris and I looked at it today, and I really liked it. Front and back yard, nice neighborhood. We're just trying to work out some kinks associated with the living situation of two guy and two girls. Whatever happens, I'm not as stressed out anymore.

Well, today was my last day teaching. It was surprisingly calm. I was sad to see a few kids leave, and happy to see most kids leave.

Thanks to everyone who came out tonight, especially Ben Dudley, since I think you and me are the only two people who actually read this. Maybe I should advertise on tv about Had a cookout tonight at our place and it felt like the first event of the summer. I had a great time.

Tonight's music is Pat Green.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Because of the nature of who I've given this address to, I probably should be careful about being too open with things that are going on with me at certain times. I'll just say this, being a part of a faith community with people that are also part of your everday community, while being what I think is the ideal situation, also sucks ass big time. I guess it'd be much easier to be a part of a megachurch where I can see people at the "spiritual" and social events, and then go live my life. But unfortunately, that's not my situation.

That was a bunch of rambling. I'm reading "Wobegon Boy" by Garrison Keillor, and am loving it. Here's a couple of quotes:

"In Lake Wobegon, you learned about being All Right. Life is complicated, so think small. You can't live life in raging torrents, you have to take it one day at a time, and if you need drama, read Dickens."

"The urge to be top dog is a bad urge. Inevitable tragedy. A sensible person seeks to be at peace, to read books, know the neighbors, take walks, enjoy his portion, live to be eighty, and wind up fat and happy, although a little wistful when the first coronary walks up and slugs him in the chest. Nobody is meant to be a star. Charisma is pure fiction, and so is brilliance. It's the dummies who sit on the stage, and it's the smart people who sit in the dark near the exits. That is the Lake Wobegon view of life."
Living with people, like being married I supposed, is a little like having a mirror in front of you all the time. I've realized lately small parts of who I am and, for the most part, I like it. Who I am is someone content with sitting in the dark near the exits.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Kris came in today excited about a loft he and Tracey have found near campus for the three of us and Wesley to move to next year. I'm having my reservations, but am such a wus when it comes to sharing how I feel about things. I'm in a tough position because of their excitement. I don't want to be the bad guy who throws a kink in things. I just feel like the burden is on me to deliver the goods, and I don't like that feeling. I would love to live in a loft and, if all works out and I end up going to Truett, would love to be close to campus. But at the same time, moving back to a college atmosphere is scary. For me, most of what is known as Baylor stereotypes aren't stereotypes at all, they're reality-- and I'm not sure if I want to move into that.

I guess it's possible that I'm projecting all my fears of the unknown (my life after this week) onto this decision to move or not. Anyway, I guess I'll get through this like I have everything else. It's all about the journey.

But still, I feel the need to cry.

Monday, May 20, 2002

Not much going on today-- pretty uneventful.

Yesterday I bought a grill. A man's grill. A grill worthy of a Nash. My dad will be so proud once he sees it. It will probably get him to visit a little more.

I ate dinner tonight with a bunch of girls. Meagan Tucker is in-- she got a job in Duncanville. I know she's happy.

Not sure who I'll pop into the cd player to lure me to sleep. I haven't listened to Jennifer Knapp in a while. The last couple of nights has been Emmylou Harris. She has the most soothing voice. Jonny Lang is also a possibility.

Well, anyway, I'm really looking forward to having some time off. There is so many things I need to get done. It's going to be great to have at least a couple of weeks off without any commitments.

I'm still waiting to hear from people who are reading this stuff. Drop me a line:

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Well, this begins my last week of teaching at Brazos, and I'm happy. I don't feel I've failed, but I do think my kids deserve someone with much more patience and understanding of their situation than me. I've always worked well with urban kids, but only when I'm not responsible for their education. And something about putting 30 of them in a room at the same time has hurt my ability to have an impact. Oh well, you live and learn.

I might change my mind, but even if I get offered the job in Washington, I might end up staying here anyway. As much as it's taken me a long time to adjust to Waco, I feel like I'm about to hit a stride in many areas of my life, that I don't want to jar the process. Kyle's sermon had a lot of affect on that decision this morning. So Kyle, if you're reading this, thanks. I felt like you were talking to me. In fact, when I took my two hour Sunday afternoon nap, I had a dream that you were giving the sermon and in the middle called me out to sit on the first row. Was that meant for me?

Anyway, I really feel blessed right now.

Friday, May 17, 2002

I guess you can tell a lot about a person by the places they like. Myself, I've never been too hip to the whole Cricket's scene. It's not (as it would have been a few years ago) the alcohol- it only takes one beer- don't ruin your witness- thing-- I've long since moderated my views on that. I guess it's just the oddness behind a place that is either meant for you to go meet people, or to hang out with people you already know. In the case of the former, I'd rather meet people inadvertantly through other friends, work, church, or a bookstore, than find someone who is looking for someone. It's like when you were in elementary school and you walk up to someone and ask them "Will you be my friend?" In the case of the latter (hanging out with friends,) I'm much more comfortable going to someone's house, or a public place that is known to few. It's so weird that the thing 20 somethings are looking for the most is uniqueness, but they end up all going to the same places.

All this led me to thinking of the places I like the most. If God were to destroy every place in the universe except these five, I'd be ok. So here they are:

5. Second floor indoor balcony in Feagin Hall at ETBU, Marshall, Texas.--// I lived in Feagin as a student, on the second floor, but never spent much time outside of my room. Years later, when I became the Director of Feagin, we decided to put some couches and chairs in the lobby on the second floor that hangs over the lobby. Some of the best talks I've ever had with people were done while sitting in area. I guess the mixture of being up very late at night mixed with it's proximity to people's living quarters made it ideal. Guys would come in late, which made it natural for you to ask "So, what'd you do tonight." Which would lead into some of the most meaningful moments of my life.

4. The Pit Grill, Collins Street, Arlington, TX--// This is the place that helped me fall in love with Greasy Spoons and embracing my imperfections. While spending a couple of weeks in Arlington in the summer of '96, this was the place Luke, Scott, and I would hang out. It was the seminal experience of me understanding how to live out my faith in story. I can probably trace the changes in my epistemology to this place.

3. Timberline Baptist Camp, Lindale, Texas--// I began working at Timberline when I was 16, and continued there, in one way or another, until until I was 22. It was at this place that I met my best friend, learned the proper way to mop a floor, raked up a yellow jacket's nest while being stung by 8 of them, fell out of a fastly moving truck- passing out and developing my only known scars to this date, learned how to live with people, got skin poisoning, learned to rappel, had my first experience working with kids, stocked vending machines, experienced digging for busted water lines in below-freezing weather, first heard about the calvinism-arminian argument, and basically learned how to create a home wherever I found myself. How could you not like a place that did all that, and so much more?

2. Any home that Tonly and Melissa Herring have lived in.--// At the beginning of their marriage, Tonly and Melissa prayed that their home would always be a place of comfort and blessings for others, and God has answered that prayer. Any time I walk into their house (wherever it has been,) I've experienced an extreme sense of peace come over me. I know that sounds kind of weird, and out of touch with my current vernacular, but it's my experience.

1. Cafe' in Torva, Estonia--// Torva is probably the most remote place I've ever been to. It's located in the forests of southern Estonia, about 90 miles north of the Latvian border. A village of around 300 inhabitants, it houses a cafe' outside the center of town. The cafe' was built into an old cave. To get in, you walk past the counter and down a series of steps to small rooms with couches. When I was there, I could imagine guys like C.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien sitting around, smoking cigars, and discussing deep matters, and the even more important everyday matters. I guess what makes this place so special, is that it's unique to me. Few other people in the whole world has ever experienced the joy of sitting around reading and talking with friends in this place.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

I'm really tired right now, so there won't be much original material going on tonight. Other than that the season finale of Friends was great, as their end of the year shows generally are.

I've really gotten into the band Lifehouse, and cannot quite figure out why the radio station here in Waco won't play some of their other released songs, other than "Hanging by a Moment." There's some amazing stuff in there album. Like this song 'Simon':

catch your breath hit the wall scream out as loud as you start to crawl
back in your cage the only place where they will leave you alone
'cause the weak will seek the weaker until they've broken them could you get it back again would it be the same
fulfillment to their lack of strength at your expense left you with no defense they tore it down
and I have felt the same as you, I've felt the same as you,
I've felt the same locked inside the only place where you feel sheltered where you feel safe
you lost yourself in your search to find something else to hide behind
the fearful always preyed upon your confidence did they see the consequence when they pushed you around
the arrogant build kingdoms made of the different ones breaking them 'til they've become just another crown
refuse to feel, anything at all refuse to slip, refuse to fall can't be weak,
can't stand still you watch your back 'cause no one will
you don't know why they had to go this far
traded your worth for these scars
for your only company
don't believe the lies that they told to you not one word was true you're alright, you're alright, you're alright

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

What a great night. The season finale of 'Ed' was wonderful, Shirley cracked me up with her unbraced fall, and Ed finally kissed Carol, and had the most wonderful confidence. But the coolest thing was who I got to share the experience with. If you were there tonight, that one moment of mass jubilation was the high point of the last few months of my life. Thank you so much for sharing that with me.

It feels so good to be free from the trappings of foundationalism. My life lately, though very rough, has been such a blessing because of the freedom I'm experiencing. Freedom to screw up, freedom to have bad attitudes, freedom to love, but most of all freedom to be who I was created to be. I missed so much of what God had for me during the 7or so years I spent worrying about every aspect of my spiritual live, consumed by fear of things not working out right. You can keep your perfect life to yourself, I'll take an eeked out existence, as long as I'm allowed to be authentic with God, myself, and my friends.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

I missed writing last night, probably because I was so pissed off at the Mavericks. I just went straight to bed after that debacle.

Tonight we have an awards ceremony at school. I hate having to take my personal time for things like that. I know I'm going straight to the fiery pits of hell because of my crappy attitude toward my job.

So, is anyone actually reading this crap I've been posting? Drop me a line if you are--

Sunday, May 12, 2002

I've never really watched "The X-Files" much, but I caught the last few minutes of it tonight. The preview for next week's show (the series finale), said something like "They've been searching for the truth for nine years, and finally the truth will be revealed." It got me thinking about the theological-philosophical-epistemological, (and every other -ical), question of "What is truth." Christians trying to wade through the postmodern waters have stated that we shouldn't live our lives on propositional truths. Which makes a lot of sense when you remember what Jesus said about him being the truth. But even though I believe that Jesus is the truth, I still have no idea what that looks like. Does it mean the fact of who He was and what He did was the truth? If that is the case, then doesn't that just make truth a propositional statement? Or was truth more in his essence? If that is how it is, then when I give a test to my students next week, can they answer "Jesus" to every question and get it right? I'm not sure, these thoughts may be just a tad too lofty for me.

I babysat Avery this evening. She was a little angel the whole night. It's always good when she's like that- it makes it MUCH easier for me to train her in the very important things, like saying "I Love You Craig."

Tomorrow starts the beginning of the end, and I couldn't be happier. This is the last full week.

Saturday, May 11, 2002

There are those moments when absolutely nothing matters except the moment. Riding in the fourwheeler out at the Lake's ranch today was one of those moments for me. Nothing except me, the land, and the wind blowing on my face existed for a few moments.

One of the reasons I think it is hard for us Christians to understand what is going on in the middle east is the fact that we have never felt a connectedness to land. We have so perceived the story of Christ to be primarily about the spritual "realm," that we have a hard time understanding how to deal with the "physical" realm. For the Jews and Muslims the answer is simple: The physical is valuable, particularly land. Their spirituality is wrapped up and enmeshed totally with their physicality. There have been times lately when I hear people saying of the problems in the Middle East "It's just a piece of dirt, get over it." My experience today in the country helped me realize that nothing is just a piece of dirt. Every bit of the earth is valuable because it pleased God immensely to create it.

Paul Wylie, the 1992 Olympic silver medalist in men's figure skating, has said "In the 1992 Olympics, I felt God's pleasure." After days like today, from seeing the beauty of Bosque to the delicacy of a sunset, I find myself feeling God's pleasure.

Friday, May 10, 2002

When DJ's play "Girlfriend" by 'NSYNC, I wonder what they base their decision on when trying to decide whether or not to play the Nelly remix?

Had an uneventful Friday night. Heading out to the Lake's ranch tomorrow for a little fun in the sun, and the Mavericks. We've got to win tomorrow, I think, in order to have any chance.

But most serious of all, I haven't figured out what to do about Mother's Day just yet.
I woke up @ 7:00 this morning, stumbled to the couch and watched the first 15 minutes of the Today show, then fell sound asleep. Somewhere in the midst of that I must have turned it on MTV. Because when I woke up, there was John Mayer singing "No Such Thing." I was so excited. Finally, a person makes it big who I've been a fan of before they hit stardom! I can't wait 'till someone says "I heard this great new song on the radio today, something about wanting to run through the halls of your highschool." To which I can reply, "Yeah, that's John Mayer, I've had his cd a few months now."

You see, I'm totally a product of my culture. I don't know if it's just my generation, or western culture as a whole, but we all want to be relevant. Nothing is worse to us than not knowing, or not being in a position to know. That's why some of us read People magazine, and watch CNN, and go to movies, and feel the need to casually call out a basketball player's name during a game, or mention what college some pro football player went to, or talk about how we LOVED Aerosmith before they became an MTV Icon, or lament the fact that Dave Matthews has sold out to commercialism, or how there's no such thing as the real world-that's just a lie you've got to rise above. We mostly don't do that because we enjoy it, we do it because we want to tell someone that we know. Because no matter how postmodern we think we have become, we still believe knowledge is power.

I wish we could all come to a point where it didn't matter how many trivial facts we know, or how relevant we are to a certain group of people. I think only then will we find true relevance. Relevance as someone who bucks the system of oneupmanship, and is comfortable with who we are, and who God is helping us to become.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

The Mavs blew it tonight. Sacramento played exceptional, but left little windows of opportunity for Dallas to step into, which we refused to do. This makes Saturday's game crucial.

On a better note, I'm taking tomorrow off. Not sure what I'll do-- probably sleep in until 6:45 or 7:00.

I'm hoping to get a chance in the next few days to catch up on some friends. I've felt so self absorbed lately and I need to break out of that. Of course John Piper would have me believe that it's a good thing to be self absorbed, as long as I am filling self with Christ, yada, yada, yada. It sure would be nice if things were as simple as they used to be. I'm trying my best to be a person of faith, without being cliche' in my approach to Christianity, and without TRYING not to be cliche'-- because with my generation, that becomes cliche' in and of itself. I just want to be honest, without the pretense of honesty. I guess I'm speaking of sincerity. And I also guess I'm rambling on right now, so perhaps I'll shut up.

CNN says the standoff at the Church of the Nativity has just ended. I'm so ready for Israel to realize that there's a reason why suicide bombers choose to do what they do, and it has very little to do with religion. It has to do with occupation.

I'm totally loving this blog. I feel like Doogie Howser. And, as we all know, you can do a LOT worse than Doogie Howser.
The talks to end the standoff at the Church of the Nativity are off, Sharon's security cabinet has authorized force in retaliation of the bombing of a poolhall a couple of days ago, and I'm late for work. Oh well, what are you going to do?

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Well, we're watching 'Ed' tonight and I start resonating verbally with a conversation Blair and I had over lunch Sunday about how we have come to a point to where we hope Ed and Carol don't get together, because of the fact that Carol doesn't deserve Ed. She's just blind to what a jerk Dennis Martino is, it's sickening. Even in his redeeming moments he cannot get away from being a total jerk. So Chris chimes in with all this bullcrap about how Dennis isn't such a bad guy , he's just a little rough around the edges, but underneath he's got a lot of good potential. I understand his line of thinking, as I've heard it from him numerous times, and have even espoused it slightly before. Sure, it's very simplistic to think the best people are those who are always nice and seem to be somewhat flawless. I understand that. But in our haste to understand the complexities of the human psyche', we lose sight of the fact that there's something to say about good old fashioned niceness. At one point in the conversation Chris made the comment "Nice guys finish last," with the implication (or at least i perceived the implication), that the world just works like that, get over it. All I have to say is this: Dennis is a jackass. Sure he's created by God, has potential, blah, blah, blah. But none of that changes his jackass-ness.

Had a great conversation with Jen Alexander about the mideast crisis. We both mulled about how little Americans actually understand the problems, and just blindly support Israel because it's what we're supposed to do. Kidd made some pretty biased comments on the radio that made me upset, basically because of his lack of knowledge of the issue. But I still love the show anyway.

Why do I feel the need to qualify that I like the show anyway? I'm just too nice. As if Kidd is going to read this and get upset at me.

School wasn't as bad today. I sent my principal a note, telling her that I apologize about what happened yesterday, I'm not giving up just because there's two weeks left and I'm not coming back, and she can trust me. Your basic brown-nosing comments. If they gave an award for brown-nosing, I'd blow out the competition. And after all that, I had a good day, kids were well behaved and did their work, and the principal never came by. I was kind of upset, because she only seems to stop in when crayons are flying across the room.

Well, I'm about to go to bed. I haven't listened to Emmylou Harris lately. Might just pop that in as I go to bed.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Just spent the evening watching 'The Real World' and 'The Osbournes.' Real World show chronicled the cast between the days of Sept. 10-14, 2001- and their reactions to the tragedy. It really brought a lot of the horrible feelings back. Watched it with Tracey and Kris. We were all fighting back tears. Well, Kris and I were fighting-- Tracey lost the battle. The whole gang prayed together. Quote of the day came from Cara-- "This was the first time I've ever prayed. It feels extremely odd, but at the same time, I feel ok." It made me realize how long it's been since I've prayed.

I didn't want to watch "The Osbournes," because, although I love the show, I thought it might be a bit too anticlimactic after Real World. But it was an interesting juxtaposition of the two shows: the reality that defined our corporate lives as a nation, and the reality of everyday life, living with very flawed individuals, but somehow making it through.

Had my first phone conversation with Avery today. Although limited, it totally made my crappy workday fade into oblivion. I have something to think about tomorrow when it gets bad.

So we have these few things, faith, friends, and the Osbournes. It feels extremely odd, but at the same time, I feel ok.
I got in trouble today by my boss for not being creative enough in my teaching. Of course the catalyst for this comment was that some girl threw a crayon at another girl, who then went and told the principal. I totally see the logic in this. I categorically reject the idea that the crayon-thrower's misbehavior is a product of a parent who does nothing to discipline their child, or of a school administration that cares more about keeping special ed children in regular classrooms just so they can continue to get money. I take full responsibility. Should that student go home and smoke some weed this evening, I guess I'll take responsibility for that too. All because of my poor teaching skills. I should be ashamed of myself, letting the youth of America throw crayons at other youth of America, while I sit back and do nothing other than tell the kids "don't throw crayons." I think I'm also to blame in the sense that I don't buy into the philosophy that says the best way to stop a child's bad behavior is through positive affirmation. If I were to throw things in class as a middle school student, and were to get caught, I would have had the living shit beat out of me in a heartbeat.

Even though I like my principal, I wanted to tell her to go straight to hell today.

I hate it when I get like this. I am such a calm person by nature, but this job has introduced a new me. I can't wait to get out of it.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Alright, here is my first "This is a test" mesage.