August 22, 2008

My First Bouquet of Roses

In order to serve you, my readers, more efficiently, I have written two versions of today's post. The first is the real story, full of all the details. The second is the abridged version for those who don't have three minutes to spend reading about the first bouquet of roses I've ever received.

Real Version:
Last weekend, I and several of my friends from college got together at the beach. One of the guys has a beach house [side note: It has a 65" flatscreen TV. I want one. I saw Michael Phelps larger than life. This is a good thing.], so we got together and reminisced about the days of yore. We talked about our favorite college memory and about the time Dan's knee popped out of joint or when we had a VIP room at the Super Bowl party. Then we waxed less than poeticly about what we're doing now. Although we've all seen each other several times since we graduated, so we weren't all that clueless about our lives.

On Saturday I was tragically out of Diet Dr. Pepper and knew that I'd need the sweet nectar that the doctor has so graciously bestowed upon the world. So I went to the grocery store to stock up on a supply for the weekend (with a couple other things to munch on while basking in the cloudiness of the day).

I paid for my haul and grabbed my bags. As the bagger was handing me my bags he also reached for a bouquet of roses that I hadn't noticed was lying on the counter. And he handed them to me. "What are these for?" I asked. "They're for you," he said. "Oh!" was the only response I came up with.

So I took home my roses and put them in a red Solo cup.

Short version:
They were getting rid of the old roses at the Food Lion and the 80-year-old bagger gave them to me.

Using the intuition that our senior friends often have (part of the wisdom they glean during their years), I believe he saw in my face how much I love flowers. The end.

August 14, 2008

Music, Olympics, Georgia and More

Summer just isn't summer without good music. Some of my favorites from this summer have been the Fleet Foxes (like a mix between Iron and Wine and music from Appalachia), Ben Sollee (similar to Amos Lee, but with a cello--always a plus), Franz Ferdinand, and the old standbys of Sufjan Stevens, Feist and the soundtrack from Once.

As summer is winding down, though, I wish I had found NPR's online series, Road Trip: Songs to Drive By sooner. Each set has a theme, including Weeping at the Wheel: Crushingly Sad Songs, Songs for Stops Along the Way and Songs for When the City Lights Fade. I've only just begun listening to them, but NPR is always a great place to learn about new artists (or artists who aren't new, but new to me).

--------- has a series named The Explainer. In the past they've answered questions about why moonshine is illegal, why gas prices fall slower than they rise and to commemorate the Olympics they answered a few questions about the games, including why swimmers always take a shower after a competition. It's an interesting read, and anything about the Olympics is a good read. Go Phelps!


Although I don't completely understand why the heck Russia decided to invade Georgia, I have learned one thing: George W. is still our president. It seems like it's been such a long time since I've heard anything about him (other than his dismal approval ratings), I thought maybe he had just decided to take the rest of his term off and spend it on his ranch.


Nobody wants to live in Detroit, even if the houses cost $1.


Finally--for your viewing pleasure, here are some wicked amazing photos from the Olympics opening ceremony. I must admit--the ceremony was stunning. Even if the fireworks were fake and the little girl was lip-synching. I'd expect nothing less from China.

August 8, 2008

The Page 69 Experiment

I saw on a blog at The Guardian that in John Sutherland's book, How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide, the author says that you can tell whether you'll enjoy a book or not by reading page 69. So I took five books off my shelf--three I've read and two I haven't--to see if this is true of these books. Of course, it's not full proof. But it's fun. Here goes:

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Page 69 of the Wordsworth Classics version I own
puts us in the scene where Jane visits her one and only friend, Helen, in the sick room. This particular section helps set the scene that this is not a sunshine and lollipops type of book. Would this page alone make me want to read the book? I'd probably give it a try, not expecting to like it as much as I would. Although page 69 is good (as all the pages of Jane Eyre are), it certainly doesn't give justice to this classic.

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
Phew. Yes, this page would make me want to read this book. I don't even remember who the characters on this page are, but the dialogue is intriguing and mentions the murder of the Clutter family. It does a great job
of showing the grief that the town went through after the tragedy.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
I figured most people have read this (and if you haven't, go read it now). In the version I own, we find Jem and Scout discussing whether or not they should write a letter to the person leaving gifts in the know of the tree down
the street from their house. It's not an especially intriguing passage, but it does a good job of showing the relationship between Jem and Scout. Like Jane Eyre, this page would encourage me to read the book, but it's doesn't show just how good the book is going to be.

I have not read these:

The Hours, by Michael Cunningham
Page 69 is the first page of a chapter, so half of it is blank. It's quite interesting because it's about Virginia Woolf as she is writing a book. One sentence in particular makes me want to finish this book: One always has a better book in one's mind than one can manage to get onto paper.

Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
This is a pretty good passage. It's written in first person and the ch
aracter is resisting someone who is trying to give him a pill. Apparently he's been injured, so I'm interested to see what happened. However, it doesn't seem like a page-turner, but quite possibly a good book nonetheless.

Well, that was fun. I'll have to try it sometime when I'm at a bookstore and just need a book to read. It's probably more useful than reading the back of book, since most of the space is taken up by one sentence reviews and the author bio.

August 7, 2008

The Girl in the Window

When I was a kid my brother used to upset me by telling me I was adopted. I’m not sure why this made me cry, but it did. The only retort I could come up with was something to the effect of “Yeah, well, so are you!” Brilliant. But adoption has always lingered in the back of my mind. I love stories and movies or books about children who had no families, but were plucked from the orphanage or foster care system to live with a new family. I love the idea that children who thought no one wanted them are taken in by people who love them unconditionally. Children without love are suddenly surrounded by it.

Today I found a link on a blog to one of the most heartbreaking stories I’ve ever read. The story is from the St. Petersburg Times and tells the story of Danielle Crockett, a feral child. When I hear the words “feral child” I usually imagine a boy who is raised by wolves or the cartoon character Tarzan—but I never imagine a seven-year-old girl who lives in a city, in a house surrounded by neighbors and with three adults in the same house.

The story is told in three parts, beginning with the discovery of Danielle in a house crawling with roaches and with walls stained yellow by cigarette smoke. Police officers find the girl in a room wearing nothing but an overflowing diaper, lying on a torn mattress in a room filled with diapers. The mother yells at the officer, not understanding why Danielle is being taken away. The second part of the story explains how Danielle is adopted by the Lierow family. After living in a group home for more than a year, she is adopted by a family who has a nine-year-old boy—a family who felt complete, save for their desire to adopt a daughter. The third part of the story is an interview with Danielle’s biological mother. She attempts to explain how she could possibly allow such horrible things to happen to her own daughter. She seems clueless to the magnitude of her selfishness. How can a mother neglect her child to the point that the girl is unable to talk? Feed herself? Make eye contact? Walk in a straight line?


As I read this story, I was overwhelmed with thoughts and questions. I was reminded of the man in Austria who had kept his daughter in a dungeon for 20 years and fathered children with her—all while his wife and other children lived on the other side of the soundproof walls.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. I don’t know who said that originally, but we usually picture people like Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin when it’s said. But what about people who have absolute power over just one small area of the world? Like their home or their office or the life of their child? It’s unthinkable to me that such a person exists that they would give birth to a beautiful little girl and then neglects her to the point that she is unable to function. It’s unthinkable to me that someone like the man in Austria can deceive family and friends for 20 years and seem perfectly normal—until the devil within is revealed. But each of these persons exerted absolute power over their victim. They had the choice to love and nurture or neglect and torture. They chose the latter.

Sufjan Stevens has a song on his Illinois album about the serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr. Gacy would lure and kidnap teenage boys and do unspeakable things to them before killing them and burying them under his house. The song gives some minor details about the story and the melody is haunting (I admit—I often skip over the song when I’m riding in the car alone at night). What is more haunting is the line Stevens repeats in the chorus: And in my best behavior, I am really just like him. Look beneath the floorboards, for the secrets I have hid.


Each one of us has the capacity to do evil things. We’re all sinful and fallen and selfish. We have the capacity to exert absolute power over someone else or something else and we do this as an attempt to fulfill our selfish desires. And at the same time, each one of us is an orphan or a child in the foster care system—waiting to be saved. A few months ago Steven Curtis Chapman’s adopted daughter was accidentally hit and killed by an SUV being driven by their son. He’s being interviewed on Larry King Live tonight and they just published an article he wrote about his daughter’s adoption. One paragraph in particular reminded me of the story of Danielle and the way her story had affected me:

“…what I had not yet grasped was that adoption is a physical picture of what Jesus has done for me. I did nothing to deserve God's love; in fact, I was living as an orphan, without hope. Yet God chose to pursue a relationship with me, and through the death of his son Jesus, I was adopted into God's family.”

Each one of us is an orphan and at the same time, each one of us is capable of the evil we turn our eyes from when it comes on the local news. Reading the story of Danielle Crockett not only deepened my desire to adopt the lost children in the world—children who just need a home and a family—but reminded me of the fallen world we live in and the world we’ve created.

Go, read the story of The Girl in the Window.

August 3, 2008

A New Perspective

I haven't been a "grownup" for very long. But please don't take that as an excuse to stop reading, because what does someone in their mid-twenties know about life? I admit, not a lot. But I'll tell you one thing I've been learning during the last six or so years since I left home.

Parents are people too!

Okay, I've known that all along. My mom turned 52 yesterday and every time my parents celebrate some sort of milestone (birthday or anniversary), it gets me thinking about how my perception of them has changed and how they've changed. It's been interesting to look at them from "the outside in." They never went out while my brother and I were kids and they never made random weekend trips to the beach. They didn't go on cruises or go out for ice cream or go to plays.

It's been sweet to see how they're able to do things together now and have fun with just the two of them (although I must admit that I become jealous whenever they go on some fabulous vacation that we never got to do as a family...but that's okay). It's nice to see my dad take my mom to see plays, even though The Music Man is the one and only musical he'll ever voluntarily watch. Or for my mom to call and say they're going on a treasure hunt and then find out it's because they just left the theater after watching National Treasure 2.

Although my parents (just like everyone else) are far from perfect, seeing their relationship offers a view of what I hope to have in 30 or so years with my own spouse. I don't have a spouse or a prospective spouse on the horizon, so it's a blessing to witness my parents and hope that I have the chance to experience this same sort of joy in the future.

August 1, 2008

I'm Currently Drooling Over These Things

~This floor

This graphic tee

~The realization that the website design at church is almost complete and my life will soon be much, much easier and the site will be much, much better looking.

~Daydreaming about a quiet vacation at this lake house.

~Or maybe taking a vacation to this house.

~Riding motorcycles (I'll leave the driving to someone else, thank you). I've only done it once, but for-the-love-of-pete it was fun.

~"Laughing, loving and crying are the secrets angels share when we admit we're only human."

~People who leave comments.

Happy Friday! Someday soon I'll write a real blog entry with substance.