29 September 2003

Spectacular and beautiful things

This weekend was filled with many spectacular and beautiful things. I spent Friday, Saturday and a couple of hours on Sunday up in Wisconsin trying to help some high schoolers grow closer to God. This may have happened especially through my ministry of having whipped cream spread on my head and cheese balls thrown at it. These are the things that the kids like to do. They like to have cahrazeeeeee fun at the expense of others. I farted a lot and talked about how growing closer to God is pretty difficult sometimes. But all-in-all. I love those kids a lot. And I love being with them.

I hit two home runs in plastic table leg softball. It ruled like nothing else.

Other than that, I’ve been working it out, keeping it real, trying to raise support for me and DKster to make our way out. But (big fat drum roll please) I will be in Japan on the 18th of October. Yup, that’s right. Praise God, right?

26 September 2003


As many of you may know, I am nearing the end of my Skil Power Tool marketing extravaganza internship. I'm taking a break right now from lifting big piles of wood that are allegedly not piles of wood, but benches. The higher ups have been complaining about how the piles of wood look too much like piles of wood and not enough like benches. "Stephen, I think you should put some sort of backing on this bench so it looks less like a pile of wood and more like a bench." Or, "Stephen, I think you should sand this bench down so it looks less like a pile of wood." Or, "Stephen, could you please spill your blood on this bench so it is 'Skil' red and not the color of a pile of wood." This has been my summer. But I made a little bit of money and was driven to go to Japan so I can't really complain. I guess this is what I needed to get me moving.

Tuesday night may very well have been the best night of this month. I got off work and ate at Burger King which in-and-of itself wasn't very incredible, but I was reading Calvin's commentary on Jonah at the same time and I thought to myself that reading Calvin in Burger King made me an intellectual or something. Anyway, Calvin was talking about how trials constrain men to call on God, something that is normally foreign to us. So much good in those commentaries. Anyway after that I headed down to the Fireside Bowl to see Braille. Being 21 has its perks as now I can sit in the Fireside bar and watch the Cubs win. So I did that and then listened to Braille play and get progressively better through the evening, so much so that by the end of the set, I was completely depressed that I would not be able to see them for the next couple of years. Paul and I talked about college life afterwards and watched Bob Nanna (the guy from Hey Mercedes and Braid) play a solo show. It was boring, best I could tell, so I ended up calling Chase and Sha (my Romanian missionary friends who live off Damen) so I could hang out with them and talk about being missionaries. It was pretty cool: we talked about Christians using un-Christian language and whether or not it was okay to say shit. We then prayed for about a half hour for our respective mission fields. It was an incredible experience. I like talking about grace.

Then I talked to my sister on the phone then some other friends from college and went to bed around two. My alarm didn't go off the next morning and I was late to work, but it didn't really matter.

Next week I'm not working, but spending most of my time getting ready to go to Japan. I'm going to go get my visa and go to the Art Institute and spend some time at St. Mary's in Mundelein by myself. I'm hoping to not have to get up at six every morning.

22 September 2003

Miller High Life

Last night, me and Colin kept it real, best we knew how. Smoked some Acid Blondies which were, frankly, better than anything I've ever smoked, ever. I guess that's not really saying a whole lot though. But dang. They were sweet. Anyway, I also tried to drink a Miller High Life while smoking and I got sick. I mean, real sick. I ended up getting about 80% through the can with the belief that the High Life would not get the best of me. But, frankly, I couldn't. I ended up tossing the can in disgust at the house and getting a Coke.

Beer is a pretty good smoking drink given it's lack of carbonation. But it tastes like piss and I hate it. I need to find the perfect smoking drink because, frankly, Cherry Coke doesn't cut it. It burns your mouth.

So, Miller High Life: 1; Steve-o: 0

My stomach still hurts though. I feel like I'm really full of air and taffy. The taffy I can explain, but not the air.

The general consensus about my hair is that it looks okay, but I'm still not really sure. You've probably seen that I updated my picture to reflect my new hair style. So, for whatever that's worth. I also found some place that will host my pictures: Village Photos. Yeah, it's been real good to me and let's me link here to Xanga without any problem.

So, Photo hosting red tape: 0; Steve-o: 1

Well, lot's going on in ol' Duder's head: lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous. I made a mistake last Friday night, taking my co-worker Kate's advice to cut my hair shorter in an effort to look more like Chris Martin (I typed Christ again. Wow). Anyway, I cut it too short. Now, instead of looking like Chris Martin, I look like Billy Corgan. I will post a picture eventually, provided I can figure out why Xanga only shows my yahoo pictures sometimes. (By the way, if you are an experienced Xanga user and can explain why that is, I really would appreciate it.)

Also, I'm counting down the days until I go home.

Also, my clutch smells like burning.

20 September 2003

Moving and the Consulate General

I am tired today and not very nice to be around. This: I drove down to Chicago to get a visa from the Japanese Consulate General and was missing one key element, a brochure from the church in Japan. I spent $12 on parking, $12 on gas, $8.63 on passport photos and missed work for three hours, making my net loss for today $63.08. I was looking for someone to be angry with. Also, faced with failure in personal devotional life, I am disheartened with my lack of self-control and spotty religious fervor. Do you think God is also upset with my on-again-off-again spiritual commitment? Certainly not. I believe in the infinite patience and love of my heavenly father, right? I certainly do. Without question. So much so that I am willing to tell everyone: "Hey, everyone! I believe that God is not frustrated with me!" Really, I really, really do.

My visa photo turned out horribly. I look like I killed someone. I don't look like Chris Martin yet. I was standing around waiting for it to develop and a woman without any teeth and wearing a moo-moo bought two York Peppermint Patties and rash cream. I thought Walgreens on Michigan Ave. would have a little more class. Anyway, seeing someone odd made me want to write and wanting to write is rare these days. I don't see enough oddity.

Did I mention that I want to look like Chris Martin? I'm doing okay, sort of, I guess. I'm a kinda of stalky guy: I don't think Chris Martin is stalky.

Do you think it's weird that everytime I typed "Chris Martin" in that last paragraph, I accidentally typed "Christ?" I bet the same thing would happen if I were talking about Chris Carrabba. (By the way, I saw his dumb sac on the cover of Spin, looking all serious and "emotional." "I can't believe I used to like you.")

Oooo, I hate him, I hate him.

What else... I still haven't solved my bad smell problem. This puppy's been plaguing me since Sophomore year. I'm thinking of just rolling around in lavender and vanilla every morning. Boy... Then I'd smell great!

17 September 2003


I swear, this job wears me raw. I watch the clock constantly. I've read everything there is to read on the internet. I've peed well over six times. I click back to my outlook window every time someone is approaching so as to appear like I'm really working. Well, I'm not really working. I'm writing this. And frankly, there is nothing for me to do here but sit and get paid which one might imagine to be the best job ever. It is, in fact, not. It's demoralizing.

Other than that, life couldn't be better. Cut these eleven hours out of my life and I would be fine. I played with the worship team last night and enjoyed it over all, except for the nearly thirty minutes we wasted just hanging out and not playing any music. For the most part, I really don't know what I'm doing up there. I make a mess out of most songs, but I try hard so I suppose that's worth something. I think I'm done with the team though as I need to be spending more of my free time getting ready to go to Japan. DK and I are fundraising this week and getting our visas on Friday. We really need to get our housing deposit and airfare raised before we can think about anything, really. It's the patience workshop.

I started a short story today that didn't really get off the ground. It might down the road. During Senior week, we saw the Davenport River Bandits play (a AAA ballclub in Iowa), and I thought about writing a beer seller story, something that utilized harsh fluorescent lighting in the field contrasted with the darkness past the outfield walls. The shadows in a ballpark are so eerie. I see some scenes from the story, but I think I started in the wrong place and haven't really sold myself on a plot for it. I promised Monica a copy of it over the summer so she could read it before she had to teach, but I never touched the idea. I re-read part of my honors project, but just frustrated myself.

I read more from Jorie Graham last night, and kept getting turned over inside of the poems. I can't listen to music when I'm reading her. The first poem sets that tone, I think: a meditation on minnows in water moving, creating movement, being moved. The minnows spin, the water spins, the poem spins. I lost myself in it. Anyway, if you read Graham let me know what you think. It may all just be an academic hoax, but I don't think so. She read at Knox this winter and really made me believe that what she does is important, wildly important, in the time we live.

When I read that the Iraqi police chief had been killed, I was surprisingly bothered by it. I have these fleeting hopes that this will happen quickly, that we will be able to get out before we have done more damage than good. I think we've already crossed that line. I read a horrifying account of US soldiers seizing prisoners in Saddam's hometown and didn't know what to think or feel. It's all ridiculously complicated and makes me want to eat a ho-ho and forget about it.

Which makes me think of Rick Jackson:
Terzanelle of Kosovo Fields

The soldier thinks he can beat the moon with a stick.
His is a country where roads do not meet, nor words touch.
The walls around him crumble: his heart is a pile of bricks.

We sit with the sky draped across our knees and trust
that the shadow of planes whisper like children in the fields,
follow roads that do not meet us, speak words we will not touch.

The soldier lights a fuse that makes a tragic story real:
our words scavenge the countryside like packs of dogs, derelict,
abandoned, hunted by the shadows of planes that cross the fields.

It's true that the blackbirds fill the air with their terrible music.
How could we think a soldier wouldn't turn our stars to sawdust?
Now our words scavenge the countryside, and our loves are derelict.

I wanted to love you beyond the soldier's aim, beyond the war's clutch.
Now bombs hatch in our hearts. Even the smoke abandons us for the sky.
How could we think a soldier wouldn't turn our stars to sawdust?

We live in a world where the earth refuses to meet the sky.
Our homes are on the march, their smoke abandons us for the sky.
Our soldiers thought they could beat the moon with their sticks.
Now every heart is crumbling, every love is a pile of bricks.

16 September 2003

The Green Mill

Dan and I went down to the Green Mill on Saturday night to listen to the Jazz and hang out. I've decided that when Christians go to bars, they should have some sort of way of indicating they are Christians that isn't awkward. Because here's the problem, the Christian moral system doesn't make a whole lot of sense if you're just an average Joe especially in a bar setting. Here's a sample of a conversation from Saturday:

Drunk Woman: So what're you guys drinking tonight?
Me: (awkward) Cherry Coke.
Drunk Woman: Cherry coke?
Dan: He's driving so...
Drunk Woman: Yeah?
Me: (awkward) I mean, I might have a real drink. I just turned 21.
Drunk Woman: So?
Me: (awkward) I mean, I didn't really drink before I was 21. I mean, once I did, at Passover.
Drunk Woman: Passover?
Me: (awkward) Yeah.
Drunk Woman: On my 21st birthday I got all [messed] up. Tons of disgusting shots.
Me: (awkward) Dan just turned 21, didn't you?
Dan: Yeah?
Drunk Woman: Did you get all [messed] up?
Dan: Uh, no, no. I got my passport.
Drunk Woman: (pause) You guys need to move down to the city and get a life.
Dan: (another pause) We're moving to Japan. That's pretty exciting, right?
Drunk Woman: Why are you moving to Japan?
Dan: English, to teach English.
Drunk Woman: You know they have classes there to teach you how to have better sex?
Dan: (uncomfortable) Oh? Yeah, we, uh, probably...
Me: (awkward) Yeah, I don't think we'll, uh, be...
Dan: We're working for a church over there so we can't really...
Me: It probably wouldn't be...
And it goes on like this. Now see how much better this would be:
Drunk Woman: You getting [drunk] tonight?
Me: I'm a Christian, please don't ask me about that.

All that to say, the jazz was good. DK knows a lot more about this stuff than me. He explained some of it which is pretty cool as I don't know anything at all. I only got four hours of sleep on Sunday night and then was pretty miserable at church. I need to not do that.

13 September 2003

Praying to the LORD

But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD , "O LORD , is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O LORD , take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."
But the LORD replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"
Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."
But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?"
"I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die."
But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

I think the reason I like the Bible so much is that I can generally relate to the folks that are in it.

Which is why I like The Postal Service too, come to think of it. And Songs: Ohia. And Andrew W.K.

DK and I have discussed, off and on, how many days we'd be willing to sleep on the floor. I said a month, but I think that's a little too high.

My jorb would be much more conveinent if they just mailed my paycheck to me and I never had to actually come in. I think I would probably do as much for the company sitting at home as I do sitting here at work. Come to think of it, I imagine I would be writing this very sentence, if I were at home instead of work, but I could be sitting in my underwear instead of this ridiculously uncomfortable shirt that I keep wearing because it doesn't wrinkle in the wash. All my clothes are wrinkled right now, and I'm hoping that hanging them on hangers will encourage them to straighten up and fly right.

Jorie Graham's "Prayer" said something wonderful to me last night. I will try to post it when I have the book in front of me (another reason why I should be at home instead of at work).

04 September 2003

Dead Computer II

The computer's fine now. Apple, in all their wisdom and majesty condemned my 512 MB of RAM as causing my screen failing. It's been quite a soap opera. Needless to say, it's all ended well. I've returned the memory. I'm getting my money back. I'm pregnant.

Also, on the Japanese front, we will be getting letters of guarantee this week and should be in Japan sometime in October. Yes, it is certainly moving along well. Stay tuned as DK's and my adventures in Japan become increasingly more like the Odd Couple.

But really, other than that, life's been quiet. I'm studying for the GRE a lot. Saying goodbye to people going back to school. Wishing I was going back to school. That's really about all.

Berto and I went down to see us some Jazz this Sunday in the city. It was raining pretty hard, but that didn't really deter us as both Berto and I don't really mind the rain. The jazz, at least what we saw, was pretty good, but we ended up just walking around Michigan Ave. looking at music and computers that we could never really afford. My shirt got really wet too.

Today's daily quote: "Back when the earth was flat, water must have always been flowing off the edges. I mean, like lots of water. Probably that water is still wandering through space, floating like a giant river."