Tuesday, July 25, 2006

late july recap

today is tuesday, july 25th. it is 12:30 p.m.

to my right is barrique's coffee trader, to my immediate left is a patch of long green grass and straight ahead is madison's capitol building, though my view of it is obstructed by a row of tall leafy green trees.

i love summer.

there seems to be lots of car and pedestrian traffic today ... which i'd normally question (don't these people have jobs?), but since my own recent entry into the world of the jobless, i feel like passing out balloons to each person on the street, and offering a congratulations of sorts, a pat on the back to say "yes! you're seizing the moments!" and though today's sweet summer air makes being outside its own reward, i'll join nature and offer what i can to celebrate the people who won't let summer pass them by.

and yet, as i write, i'm oustide using my laptop to search for jobs. so to everyone working today, way to earn your living. i hope you take a good, relaxing vacation this summer. you deserve it.

anyhow, before i move forward, here are the past two weeks in bullet points:
  • jon came back from honduras (!)
  • and i got to pick him up in a borrowed mini-van.
  • i'd never driven a mini-van before.
  • sarah, chris, jon and i drove west to some friends' cabin in boaz, wi, for a mini-vacation.
  • i discovered i suck at disc golf.
  • we met two bats at the cabin, accidentally killing one and freeing the other.
  • chris can put together the most lavish meals with the most random ingredients. seriously, he has a gift.
  • jon took me to the american players theatre in spring green two nights in a row to see thornton wilder's the matchmaker and then shakespeare's romeo & juliet. they were both really excellent.
  • and a former faculty member of the school i used to work at happened to be playing the role of lord capulet.
  • on julie's suggestion, we spent friday in viroqua at a coffeeshop. it really was in the middle of nowhere. i loved it.
  • saturday night, maria and mike got married in one of the more creative ceremonies i've seen. congratulations to you two :)
  • later that night, the new drews shared that clinking of glasses would, yes, make them kiss, but they'd also be pulling names from the hat of other couples who would have to "out-do" the newlyweds' kiss.
  • for the record, i think jon and i were the only non-married couple "picked."
  • for the record, i think it is illegal that a dating couple should be asked to "out-do" newlyweds.
  • tonight, i will be staying at the 6th home of the month. my current conditions are excellent, and i dare anyone to tell me that a papazan cushion on the floor is not just as comfortable as a "real" bed.
  • yesterday, god sent toyota salemsan clayton to me and i am happy happy happy to say that i am now the proud owner of a silver 2006 toyota corolla.
  • i am also now the proud owner of car insurance.
  • though i admit my pride in insurance ownership is a bit overshadowed by my conversation with the state farm lady who told me of all the many possible ways i could die or injure someone. her assurance that state farm would cover the vast majority of all possibilities did little to distract me from the stories of past accidents.
  • alas.
  • today, i am going to edgewood for an information session on their graduate programs.
  • i am excited to find a job.
  • and a house, too.
  • i'm excited to celebrate my birthday on sunday. and i'm loving that jon's sisters and mother, and my baby sister are all celebrating birthdays within weeks of me. i LOVE birthdays.
  • tomorrow, i get to catch the last concert on the square. and after managing to make it to opera in the park on sunday night, i am feeling that i am reclaiming my summer.
  • i love summer.
  • i hope you are loving it, too.
more soon.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

a mi me gusta el verano.

top ten reasons i love summer:

1. i really love all things water-related. i love outdoor pools filled with chlorine. i love sitting indian style on the floor of the pool and pretending to have tea parties. i love sitting outside in the sun, slathered in sunscreen and sweat, and then jumping into the pool to cool off. and i love vacations to the ocean in the summer. i love wave-jumping, and sand castles, and all that the shore brings.

2. i love humidity. when the weather is so thick it sticks to your arms and legs and back, and you can only laugh at how dirty you get the second you walk outside into it. i remember once when the humidity made the heat index unbearable in college, and erin and i slept on the floor as close to each other as possible but still separated in order to share the only two fans we had in our apartment. i remember making a run to the freezer and bringing back bags of frozen peas for us to put between our legs and behind our necks. it's so gross, but it's one of my favorite memories.

3. i love how long the days are, when the sun gets me up before 7 naturally and won't go down for at least 12 more hours. everything seems to move a little slower in the summer.

4. i love driving with the windows down and the music up.

5. i love when you're driving out in farm land and you can see all the steam/mist rising up from the fields at night. it's gorgeous!! it reminds me of a very romantic anne of green gables moment.

6. i love getting tan.

7. i love that i'm excited about the next season. there's no other time i feel that strongly. i love summer and i love that fall comes next, so it's a very happy time for me. when fall gets here, i love fall, but i don't super look forward to winter. and winter is so long that it really seems pointless to be hoping for spring. and then spring never really comes; it's suddenly up 40 degrees from the day before and voila - summer. but now, now is when you can be grateful that it's not cold and dreary anymore, you can be thankful that summer brings all this daylight and you can look forward to the changing of the season come fall. it's a glorious time!

8. my birthday is in the summer. and it's an excuse for me to get my friends together and celebrate life.

9. summer just reminds me of playing. of freedom. of later bedtimes that don't make you groggy in the morning. yay!! i love summer!!

10. summer in the midwest is simply miraculous. maybe because we have such long winters, we appreciate summers in a way other people might not. whatever the reason, summer is the best, the best, the best. YAY, SUMMER!!

Monday, July 10, 2006

as it should be.

it's been nearly two weeks since my life was stable (i.e. living in my own apartment and receiving a regular paycheck for my regular hours at the 4-year-old job). in the past 12 days, i've made my home at 4 different houses belonging to friends who have graciously allowed me to camp out for a bit in their living rooms.

the reality of all that is temporary is seeping into my bones. anything and everything that won't go with us when we die seems awkwardly heavy and annoyingly frustrating to bear.

i have luggage. three bags that i've filled with t-shirts and shoes and shorts and skirts. i have a hair dryer and a curling iron for those days when i want to feel as though i can look respectable if i want to be. i have two books - hurt: inside the world of today's teenagers and the devil in the white city. i have a notebook and two hats. i have shampoo, soap, a razor, and face wash. i have contact solution and a toothbrush and - as it happens - two different deoderants (in case one's not doing the trick?).

all of it is too much. i think this because i have been wearing my swimsuit all day. i put it on this morning in hopes that my brother-in-law could drop me off at jon's apartment's pool after i dropped off jon's car at the shop. it was about 62 degrees this morning, so i had to forego it. i did find time to lay out in the strip of grass outside chris and sarah's apartment building though. i love swimsuits. i really could live in mine. i don't want to worry about clothes anymore. or any other stuff in my suitcases.

yep, all of it is too much. even all my thoughts seem to be too much. or not enough. i can't figure out where one leads to the next.

erin, laura, and i attended the midwest social forum this past weekend. i attended seminars on immigration, faith-based organizing, spoken word for youth expression, and fair trade. my mind began to explode at the seams, so i skipped the rest of the seminars to reflect.

we learned that fair trade cofee represents only 1% of world coffee consumption, that Starbucks is the largest retailer of fair trade yet their fair trade sales only account for a percent or two of their total profits. why is it necessary to buy fair trade? it's FAIR.

FAIR. i look at that word and hear one of the participants words echo in my mind: "should a label on a product have to say 'fair trade certified'? does that not imply that everything else is unfair? would you buy a product that says 'this product will return unfair wages to workers who are overworked already?"

we are a messed up world. we have immigration problems. haliburton just signed a contract with our government to receive $400 million to build prisons on our southern border. we've already spent $30 billion on border patrol. we screwed over workers in Mexico and Central America when Clinton signed us up for NAFTA. after taking their jobs from them, we want to punish them when they try to find a life in the States that stole their jobs from them in the first place? we want to spend over $30 billion to punish? we're already the country that spends the most on prisons of any place. what is wrong with us?

undocumented immigrants in our country have paid as much as $420 billion in Social Security which they will never see. what's worse yet is that 5,000 people have died in the desert due to border militarization in the past 12 years. that's more than one person every day. one human being. one sister or brother or mother or father or daughter or son.

for as much as i love god, and for as confident as i am in his goodness and his promise of salvation from our fallen world, all of this is baggage that drags us down to the earth. no experience of god, no corporate worship moment, no prayer circle or scripture reading lasts long enough to steal our attention from the weight of the world, this awkward baggage that no one person can carry on their own, that no person SHOULD have to carry on their own.

it's all temporary, i know. someday we'll all die. and where i lived for a month without a home and how much money that migrant farm worker in mexico didn't make because i wanted to buy my coffee cheap or how awful those circumstances were for the children in the ivory coast being subjected to law-violating practices by the nestle company, all of that will end someday. we'll all pass through here. it's temporary.

and yet, god lets us live here. he asks us to love him, to love our neighbors, to care about the earth he created, to act justly, to serve each other, to watch for him.

how do i work here as unto the lord and still ask him to come quickly and save us all? i think this living is business is tricky. to be living still when your friends die, or your spouse dies, or your heart is broken, or you can't make ends meet, or you someday realize your life has been easy because you've unknowingly stood on the backs of the poor who've worked the lowest jobs for the lowest pay so you could have the t-shirt you wanted or the nikes you love ... man. lord, help me love you, love my friends, and love my neighbors above myself. help me to pursue justice, to serve others. help me to fight for the oppressed and speak up for those who find no voice. help me to watch for you. and i am still eagerly anticipating your return when you'll make everything as it should be.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

you work too much.

wednesday, july 5th. 11:14 a.m.

i'm sitting at victor allen's coffee shop, catching up on e-mails and reading blogs. i've been here for a little over 2 hours, drinking coffee and picking at my almond croissant. i love having no where to be.

i sent an email to an old coworker this morning, and she wrote back, saying, "Your note made me think of all the great letters I used to get from Steve when he was still living in California. He'd hang out at coffee shops after work and send me letters on the back of flyers that were posted on the walls. They were wonderful! Full of the thoughts from someone who has time to think. As opposed to those working too many hours a day. There was a piece on NPR this morning about how 1/4 vacationers were bringing work with them. The columnist was bemoaning our sorry set of values that don't recognize down time appropriately. And how having outside interests actually improves productivity. I agree."

Do you know how nice it is not to be thinking about work right now? I mean, the truth is, I do want a job that I enjoy. I want to work hard and earn a living. But, I want my sanity. I want to enjoy life in its fullness. And being chained to a desk for 8 hours a day seems wrong. How can I be productive when I'm running behind on doing my laundry, can't catch up with my parents, can't find time to make a grocery list and so just have to buy whatever quick meals I can so I eat something at all? This is not right.

There is too much information out there for Americans to continue believing we need to work this much. An article called "Work Week and Vacation Variances" points out that when the European work week fell from 40 to 35 hours per week, there was no loss in productivity. Moreover, all 15 nations in the European mandate that emplooyees be given a minimum of 4 weeks paid vacation per year. A minimum!

He notes that Americans and Canadians work more hours than anyone else, with Japan coming in second - but even then, Japanese law requires that employees be given a minimum of 25 days paid vacation.

There are so many stats to look at, but a good place to start is with The Simple Living Network. They argue that in any given year by October 24th, Americans and Canadians have worked the same amount of hours that Europeans will work all year. There should be a real focus on taking back your time.

Seriously, not working and knowing I don't have to be back at any office for weeks feels really good. I feel like my mind has been unchained. And I can think again! No one should go through life without a chance to think. That is just plain wrong. So I need to be prayerful about finding a job now. I think i'll say a prayer for all of us, and for our government, that we all learn how to reprioritize and choose LIFE and FREEDOM over obsession with work and overtime.

And if you haven't done it already, go take a vacation. You deserve it.