Monday, March 22, 2010

Hi Friends

We've started a new blog project, and you'll find it at We're using a new prompt from the book The Pocket Muse every two weeks as inspiration for creative writing. We post anonymously - no one knows who wrote which piece. We'll write stories, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, lists, or whatever else we feel inspired to write, all based on the same prompt. If you'd like more information on joining the project, see me. Or just sign up to follow and read along.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Waiting for the MAX, a parable.

This blog is brought to you by Karyn, Shannon, Annie, letter T, and the number 7.

Public transportation is hard.

You have to do a lot of things right. You have to get up on time. You have to manage to leave your house in one piece with everything you need, including your wallet. You have to arrive at the station with enough time to buy a ticket. You have know which direction you want to go and which train will take you there.

But even doing all these things doesn't guarantee you success, a lot of things can go wrong.

Sometimes, you wait and wait and wait and the MAX just doesn't show up. There's no announcement, no explanation, just that's it. The clock on the screen keeps changing and no train is in sight. This annoys you because you believed that if you did your part, showed up on time with ticket in hand the promised MAX would be there. The MAX is full of lies. You feel slighted and cheated and a little bit silly. You wonder if everyone else that is waiting knows something that you don't. You watch other people return to their cars or decide to walk and wonder if you should bail, too. But still you wait, confident that if you should leave, the MAX will arrive at the very moment you're too far away to run back to it.

Sometimes, the MAX shows up right on time. You, satisfied you, you board happily. You score a great seat. You pulled out the book you remembered to bring and you prepare yourself for the journey. Then, nothing happens. You're on the MAX but the MAX ain't movin' and you wait.

Sometimes, the MAX shows up earlier than you thought. You are not ready. The ticket machine won't print and you watch the train take off without you, maybe you wave.

Sometimes, you're halfway through your MAX trip and you realize it's not making the same stops it usually does. Something is terribly wrong. You blink twice and suddenly you're in Gresham, "what? how the heck did we get here?". Now you have to get off the MAX, turn around and start the whole process over in the other direction.

But sometimes, only sometimes, your train pulls in just when you're ready for it. You get a seat all to yourself. You don't even bother to open your book because you've hit the bridge just as the sun is coming up. Sometimes public transportation is reliable and easy and trustworthy and good.

So....which MAX are you on?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Computers are stupid

So I was getting on the internet sometime around the beginning of the month, you know, checking the eeemail or whatever, and I noticed something strange: I was completely disconnected. (This is strange because my computer is set to automatically connect to the network when I'm at home.) When I tried to manually connect, it told me that the security key was wrong, or that the encryption type was wrong, or that the signal strength was low. I think the signal strength message was just to mock me, and altering the other two things manually made no difference. I input the correct information, and got the same messages. So now my computer was lying to me openly. What the fizz.

Turns out that when Mr. PC wanted me to check the security key, I was supposed to move to a different tab and check a box to "enable Atheros settings," a command I neither understand nor have ever un-checked in the first place. That, plus disabling then enabling my wireless device (again), resetting the router (again), and re-typing the security key for about the fifteenth time, finally "resolved" the "problem." Obviously.

In the meantime, I've been listening a lot lately to a guy named Shane Claiborne. He has worked for Mother Teresa and Willow Creek, helped found an urban Christian community in Philadelphia, and written a number of books, among other things. It's easy to see that he's different (when he spoke at church I kept staring at his homemade pants, which look very much like regular pants, only backwards), but one of the things that most impressed me about him was his willingness to move past cynicism.

Cynycism and I go way back. Runs in the family, I guess. It seems pretty popular in Portland, too. Claiborne says that cynicism doesn't take a lot of energy, and I agree at least that it can be easy to default to once you get in the habit.

The thing is, you will never run out of things to be negative and annoyed about, if you are in the business of being negative and annoyed. Life is full of potential aggravations. Like computers. But your angry response is not predetermined; like it says in that one TV show, you always have a choice. Choose life.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Last day on earth

I was driving to work a few weeks ago, listening to the radio and one of the Christian stations posed the hypothetical question, "What would you do if today was your last day on earth?" Now I've heard this question before. Haven't we all? But when I heard it the other day, I really thought about it. I've been thinking about it for weeks. The first thought I had was that I definitely would not be going to work on my last day alive. I would spend it with Kevin. He is my favorite person in the world and I would want to be with him.

A week or so later I heard another thing on the radio talking about Jesus coming back to earth. Then yesterday, in light of the recent severe earthquakes, Kevin in I were discussing if this could be the end times. I hear pastors preach often, that Jesus is coming back. That the time is near and we should be ready. I usually think that I'll reach my 70's, living a long life, until I see grandchildren and the iPod become lame and ancient. Then Jesus will come back. Or maybe he'll come after I'm long gone.

Yesterday I thought, "What if today was my last day on earth, because tomorrow Jesus comes back?"

I suddenly had deep compassion for everyone in my family who doesn't have a relationship with Jesus. I imagined myself in Heaven, asking Jesus where my father was and wondering if my brother was there. What if I got there and the people I love the most weren't there? Suddenly, I wanted to drive to WA right away and scream at them and tell them, that Jesus is the way, that he loves them and that they need him. Of course, if I ran up there and started screaming at them that they need Jesus, they'd probably all think I was nuts, judgemental and just plain mental. But at least I wouldn't die and be in heaven wondering where my family was.

I guess in the end I realized that I'm not praying with conviction or telling people about God's amazing grace as much as I want to. I need to change my attitude.

The reality is that Jesus will be coming back. And one day, it will be my last day on earth.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
--Joshua 1:9