Friday, September 23, 2011

Who's Zoomin' Who

1 Chronicles 12:32

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
32 Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do...

Dearly Beloved, we gather here to say our goodbyes. Here she lies. No one knew her worth...
Issachar's Loft was a place. A good place. But it's not a place anymore.This post is irrelevant. And poingiant at the same time. When I wrote this article, I'd hoped that the words would produce the impact necessary to move institutions to change. To save a place. No one took the article. Nothing changed. Bureaucratic wheels turned. And "The IL" was casualty.  But, even though Issachar's Loft has, for all practical purposes, vanished, the "Loft," is an idea. And Ideas are bulletproof...I mean bureacrat proof...I mean resilant.

   In the 21st century western world, the Christian church is not known for its social permeability. Choosing to be a culture within a culture. It has created fascimilies of popular culture. With Christian Music, Christian Literature, and a host of other Christian subsets, the church has tried to innoculate itself from worldly influence. This had, inadvertantly, led to the removal of the "Christian" voice from social discourse in many arenas. In many cases, the Christian College epitomizes this insular tendency.

   At Messiah College in Grantham, PA, however, there are several, concentrated efforts to equip students for the meaningful dialogue with the world at large.

   One of the instutions encouraging open dialogue is Issachar's Loft. A fixture of the student programs, Issachar's Loft serves two major functions. One being, to facillitate team building events for groups on and off campus, providing activities and debriefings to foster the interpersonal dynamic best suited for positive team development. The other is, Issachar's Loft serves as a place for students to hear Christianity from different perspectives, to express their own observations on faith and discuss ways to give their faith legs. But importantly, if not most importantly, Issachar's Loft is a place where students can be exposed to, respond to, and learn from cultural offerings.

   In its weekly meeting, "Who's Zoomin' Who," students are encouraged to be mindful of who is influencing whom. Are you making a concious impact on the surrounding culture? Or are you being blindly influenced by the world?

   Treating topics ranging from violence in athletics, to political shifts in N. Africa, to Oprah giving away cars on her show, "WZW" tries to encourage students to engage the wide world and develop a "uniquely Christian worldview." A discussion may look like this. After viewing a movie, or some part thereof, together, the group examines the work in terms of the "Creation Narrative" (Creation, Fall, and Redemption). Looking at the film as story, students and staff reflect on characters, setting, and basic plot. "What story elements, if any, reflect the pure creation, full of hope and possibility?" The Fall being a significant part of the creation narrative is also a major peice of the puzzle. Reflections on the characters that show the fall, its pain, its evil, its hopelessness are a part of the narrative. How are they a part of the story? Last, "What life is reclaimed by redemption?" "How is the pain of rebirth fealt?" "Is there sacrifice for redemption? When? By whom? For whom?""Does the story even end in redemption?" This is a taste of the questions which are mulled over in relation to whatever story or piece of culture being shared.

  What of the artists behind the works? You ask. The artist's word is explored with a healthy fervor as well. What is the artist/ writer/ director saying about life? How does the artist use symbols and representation to tie the world he or she has created, to "the real world?" Is the artist selling a specific view on life? Why? Why? Why? Questions like these are encouraged and discussed by attendees in a safe environment.

     More than just a place of scholarly adaptation, The Loft's environment is crafted for warmth. Where friendships can be made and allowed to develop. A pseudo round setup of couches, beanbag chairs, and floor sitters, allows those assembled to see and be seen, as people share thoughts and feelings. The "passing of the peace" is a time during which people can greet each other. Visitors are welcomed, no by the embarassment of standing alone, but by warm smiles and hugs. And concluding the meeting? Freshly baked cookies, prepared by the Facillitation Team.

   As I said in the openning, Issachar's Loft as it was known no longer exists. Big wheels keep on turnin'. But having a place to think, engage, grow and act with encouragement was one of the most important parts of the four years I spent at Messiah College. 
   But, do not mourn the loss. What I hope you get from this post is the search. Finding a place in which you feel so safe, you can hold your spirituality with an open hand and look at it as the individual pieces and parts, and continually try to make it better, is worth the quest. 
One chooses what one wants to believe. But belief is not an option. Everyone believes something. 
   But, belief without knowledge is dogma. 
     Pop the hood, and see what makes it run. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Buzz Is Wearing Off...

The links click through ads, just glance and skip if you so desire.

I'll be brief. I kinda have to. Amp by Mountain Dew (That was totally going to link to Amp site, but it's actually full of guys that kinda look like tools...don't say I didn't warn you) is right next to tea on my list of things I like drinking. And...I haven't had one in about a week. I decided that drinking 32oz a.k.a. 4 servings a.k.a. 2 cans a.k.a. TWO HUNDRED & NINETY-SIX milligrams of caffeine per day, wasn't my best allocation of time, money, or an immune system. If I drank these things in lieu of coffee or my beloved tea, that would be, maybe, acceptable...I don't. In between cans of Amp, I throw back tea like it's my duty on this planet. And if I'm at an event with coffee...sigh...Black, two sugars.
  So, I toned down the Amp. Actually, I got a cold and stopped completely. The cold is gone but I decided to take a break from pure energy. And it totally sucks. I twitch every time I stop in a gas station. I have to go into the stores with a game plan to avoid the entire rack of energy drinks. I actually spend time thinking about not drinking it.

   It's not going to last, however, 'cause the whole reason I started drinking energy drinks was to focus. Sounds crazy, right? But,  caffeine has a proud history as performance enhancing drug. Turbo studiers with MCATs, LSATs, GREs, even the SATs have high school kids popping Adderall for that college admissions boost (this is not an endorsement). So, yeah my little ADHD diagnosed brain needs somethin' to go on. I've used Amp as my focus tool, off and on, since (and I'm not joking) Bible Quizzing tournaments as a kid. I just do better work when I'm juiced up. And when I have no caffeine I notice a serious tappering in my work.  This post alone has taken me two three games of Zoikz Defender, like 10 hands of facebook poker, a Twitter conversation, a clothes change and about 7 episodes of How I Met Your Mother: Season 2 (seriously, a funny show). This should have been a half can, half hour post. Even though I didn't cry, I felt a little like my friend, who teared up at the sight of bread after a long stretch. I think I'm due to fall off the wagon tomorrow. I'll never finish a book on apple cider alone.

Thank you, and enjoy your vice. And tune in Wednesday for your regularly scheduled caffeine assisted blog posting.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tarts and Vicars

The books link through ads, just glance and skip if you so desire.

One of my personal favorite areas of study is gender relations. I've read books about guys and girls since the 5th grade. My scholarly go tos are Drs. Steve Duck and Deborah Tannen. For slightly more accessable writings I turn to the husband and wife couple Barbara and Alan Pease, co-authors of two of my favorite books, Why Men Don't Listen, and Women Can't Read Maps & Why Men Don't Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes, if I haven't recommended these books to you before, consider this my official recommendation. Nevertheless, this fun little Facebook conversation was a hilarious treatment of Mars & Venus (reprinted with permission). 

I won't editorialize too much. 
I did enough at the time.

BOLD Italics= Venus
Bold        = Mars

Tried to cut my finger off while slicing a bagel... it hurts... a lot.

Wall Photos
    • ML: How was your finger even involved in the bagel cutting process? Also, just buy presliced bagels, they have the technology nowadays.
    • JS: r u ok sweetheart?? did u need stitches? 

    • Morris DuBose I'm glad you didn't succeed in cutting your finger off. You've always seemed so attached to it. I hope it feels better soon.

      (Fun Side note) The two comments above represent the epitome of a gendered responses to situational stimuli. Matt, the only more "guy" response you could have had is, "Rub some dirt on it."

      SGG: Update from loving mother: Took the bandage off her wounded digit this morning and baby girl hit the floor!! BOOM! Out like a light!

    • ML: Morris: wrong, I could have said "that finger will forever be weakened, might as well just finish the job".

    • Morris DuBose Suzanne- Did she faint for real?
      M- You're absolutely right. Touche, my man. Touche.

    • SG: Morris: Thank you, I am actually quite attached to it! And since I'm a girl I'm pretty good at reading subtext. What he really said was, "You're so brave... I would have cried."
      AT: Geeze, Matt, sometimes you are a douchebag. Show some empathy, man!
      Stephanie, so glad you are able to keep your finger!!
    • ML: I was going to quote from the Boy Scout Handbook, but I couldn't find mine, so I'll just say it: when using a knife, always cut AWAY from yourself. But don't worry, sometimes I forget this too. In fact, it may have actually been on a bagel but it was a butter knife so the damage was limited.
      Sorry, I didn't realize it was so bad. I had talked to her earlier and she didn't sound too freaked out about it. Feel better! 
      ML: Oh, and the clear solution to all this is to just get a dozen bagels from Panera. You get more delicious bagels and they come pre-sliced! 
      HH: OUCHY!!!

       Thanks for tuning in to the hilarity of Boys, Girls, and everyday conversation. 
      Now it's your turn. Tell me your story of Gents and Ladies. I'm all...eyes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Graffiato by Mike Isabella

Working in the food service industry (read: indentured servitude), is a crazy combination of the best and worst of humanity. Many stories have been told. Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica, and Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress by Debra Ginsberg, are just two of the interesting and informative, true accounts of the restaurant world from the side of the server.  Waiting (2005), starring Ryan Reynolds, is an amusing, caricature of servers lives. And thousands upon of blogs tell of servers triumphs and woes.

     Well, my lifelong friend and co-conspirator, Dan and I have worked in the Restaurant world for a while. Dan is the best server I've ever seen. The worst things you can say about him are that he wants it all to be perfect, and that he's a little brisk. Nevertheless, he is engaging with all of his tables or bar guests without being intrusive. This may sound a little like hero worship's not. When I've served, I have seriously thought "How would Dan do this?" in response to a challenging situation. He really is that good. Don't believe me? Go visit him at Graffiato in Chinatown DC...OH WAIT!!!

   You can't. Because Dan became a scapegoat. A reality of dining out is not being a part of the preparation of your own food. For some people this is only inconvenient as a matter of personal preference. For others, it's a bit more than that. Anyone in the service industry is no stranger to food intolerances and allergies. We mechanically recite notices about nuts in desserts, etc. much like Liverpool hospitals note "the usual rubbish about equal opportunities employer etc." And Dan gave the standard "nuts in the crust" notification to the people at the bar, upon whom he was waiting, at dear old GraffiatoDC. However, those present at the ordering of the dessert, should communicate warnings to the bathroom dwellers. 

   In his own words: 
        woman with a nut allergy sat at my bar with friends. she left, friends ordered a dessert that had nuts. woman came back, ate her friends dessert, and i got fired for it, even though i told the friends it had a nut crust.  The lady popped an allergy pill and drove herself to be checked out. 
"Dan the man", however, became "Dan the unemployed." 


This also won't have a punchy takeaway either. What it will have is a "To Be Continued" And a chance to stick it to the man. 

Tune in next time. When we recount the tale of servers forced to pay a manager's salary, and other sordid horrors at Graffiato in: DAN the Man VS. Just the man. 

Oh yeah, and if you want to stick it to the man for me let your  DC peeps know that Graffiato by Mike Isabella is kinda messed up just wait 'til my next Dan vs. The Man.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My name is...

  I have a confession. Actually it's not a confession. Just an observation about life as I experience it. I'm addicted to my phone. Not, I call people all the time. Not even, I always take every call. Actually, I take less than half of the phone calls which come my way (Sorry to anyone who gets my voicemail). It's really just the obsessive need to have access. There's an old military expression, "Hurry up and wait." And I think that's what I experience. I spend a lot of time being careful not to miss an urgent call that I'm not expecting. I get an almost debilitating anxiety when I'm not in physical contact with my phone. I may not be leaning on my urinal like "Mr. Totally Connected," but, and I am ashamed to admit this,  I've checked my phone in church, and (gulp) on dates ("He who is without sin..."). It's strange. When I think logically about the worst thing that could happen if I didn't have my phone, the worst thing I could think of would be an easy fix, and not likely to happen. But somehow, nothing consoles me.

  Earlier this summer, however, my phone vanished from. I went through the stages of grief, right out of the Psych 101 textbook.  Not my finest moment.
 Denial- "I must have left it at the church...OK...Maybe it's still in the car...well...Maybe the other car...possibly...My room?...

 Anger- "I can't believe I...How could I be so stupid...Why did it have to rain TODAY!!!...Somebody probably ran it over in the parking lot...

Bargining- Hoping that my cousin had taken it or knew who had I offered my cousin candy and money if she “found” my phone.

Depression- I, seriously, don't even want to talk about that part. Not my finest hour.

Acceptance- If it's lost, it's lost... I'll just buy a new one if that's what has to happen. A lot of people don't even have cell phones...worse things have happened to better people...
As I moved into acceptance. Wonder of wonders...
After making a trip to summer camp with the youth of our church, where it was dropped by whichever child took it. My beloved phone was found by a different member of our youth group who, "Thought it looked familiar," brought it home and showed it to his mom, who recognized the "My Sister" entry in Contacts. Deduced that she'd know whose it was. And it is now back in my grateful hands. My very, very grateful hands.

I should have a punchy takeaway from all this. And I think I kind of do. But, I'm going to let someone else deliver it:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Reproduced With Permission

First things first. This poem is by no means directed at any person.
It's just funny.
And let's be honest, there are probably a few men who fit this bill too. So in you own mind, fix the title, and enjoy.

This is a poem.
This poem was written by a former classmate of mine, during a semester we shared in Oregon. It's amusing, thus I wanted to share it.

To A Young Lady I Know

Have you ever washed your hands in a bathroom at the bus
station and they are out of paper towels (that, or they've
gone into hiding with soap) so you look around
frantically for something to dry your hands with and save
you from getting water on the crotch of your jeans, until you
see it- the toilet paper- the kind that is eight cents a roll,
three-sixteenths ply, strung together by half a dozen
vagabond molecules, and your dripping fingers fumble at it
dissolving half the roll-
that is what talking to you feels like.

      -Josh Lennon

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One Giant Pain In the Nose

OK. So this was originally wirtten to be performed aloud. But it's an amusing little tale I wanted to share. Enjoy.

  I'm going to tell you all a story. Not a story full of insight. Not the story of any type of tortured youth. I doubt that this story will leave a mark on you in any meaningful way. Except, I hope it makes you laugh. You can feel sorry for me if you want. That's out of my control and entirely in your hands. I hope you will take this story in the tone of the speaker, who, now having some distance between him and the actual event, now finds the whole affair quite funny. So here's the story about why little kids need their parents.
   Imagine with me, if you will, Morris. A Morris much shorter than the one writing this post. A Morris for whom sink and counter tops are relatively new terrain. A Morris limited in the number of rides available to him at amusement parks. A Morris slight of build, and low of pain tolerance. A Morris of about, say, somewhere between the sixth and eighth year of his life. Years surrounded by discovery and newness of life. Every day was a new adventure, with lessons to learn. It was a beautiful time of life when planning for the future meant, asking mom to buy dessert for the whole week. A carefree time, when fart was a bad word. And race struggles meant trying to run faster than all the other kids. But afterward, we all played kickball it didn't matter. It was a great time of ignorant bliss. Back to the story...
  Summertime and the livin' is easy. Let's just say I am seven years old, 'cause I think that it could be right. I'm out and I'm playin', 'cause that's just what kids do (and I was good at being a kid). We were running around, playing with balls (which didn't sound dirty at 7), playing with plastic guns, chasing each other with sticks. We're playing every game we could think of: kickball, baseball, tag, football, etc. If there's a lull we just make up a new game. Frisbeeball (Don't ask me how it worked. We just had a lot of energy), and stranger games than that. 
  In the midst of all this fun gaming, we must reflect on the other certainty of youth...injury. Yes, even at the immortal age of seven, there was the occasional close encounter of the firm kind. Diving from a bicycle to have a fight with the payment was a popular one. And thought the asphalt rarely lost, it was the object of many a tussle. Running into stationary objects was, sadly, not uncommon. Scrapes in the tree, and kick balls to the face, are just some of the ways we imagined to injure ourselves. But the original injury of this day, remains a mystery. 
   Enter young Morris. I am the recent victim of a small, but keenly painful wound inside of my nose. Bounding into the hospital he calls home, I seek, the care of the attending physician (aka mom), the mender of all manner of wound. After the requisite screaming for mom. The I was notified that the attending would not be available for some time. Unavailable?!? This was unacceptable. I need to go back out and play. How hard can patching a wound be?
   Let's just note, at seven, I  didn't know much. One of the things I did know was that hydrogen peroxide was good for cuts. I run to the upstairs bathroom, hop up and kneel on the sink. Fling wide the cabinet, extracting the miracle solution. Sliding down from the sink, I fill a cap full of peroxide as I have seen my mother do, many times before. I am faced with a new problem. I have a cut in my nose in need of tending, and a liquid that refuses to travel up. But, desperate times call for desperate measures. I thus began to lean back, one hand out for balance, the other grasping the cure to my pain. Leaning into a precarious angle, I drain the contents of the cap into my nose. At this point I come to believe that my nose is melting off of my face. I am in pure agony. And, agony doesn't mix well with contortion and balance. A lesson I learned quickly as I surrendered my balance and came crashing to the ground in a heap.
All in all, that ranked among the top painful experiences of my life. Up there with, trying to leap a pillar, getting hit in the face with a bat, and having scarlet fever.

    I said all that, to say this: Every once in a while, do something stupid. When the pain goes away, you'll get a good laugh.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What light ...

So, I don't  write a ton of poetry. A lot of times my deep love of music and about ten years worth of lessons creeps into my writing and what I end up with is a poem. They are fun...I think...And a neat way to play with one's own emotions. I'm a flirt. It's a part of me as much as anything else. This was just something I was thinking after a day of incessant flirting. Enjoy.

To Be Adored

I am bent to your will.
Do with me as you wish.
You are many,
Over me, yet, all you hold sway.

You are Tall. yet also are you short.
You are thin. Yet also are you sturdy with fullness.
You are the passionate fighter, and lover of peace.
You speak in shouts and whispers.

In all your forms, I love you.
  I am powerless against your approaches.
    I yield to you.
      You are Woman.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Alone Together

This is the first of a few retro posts. One of the scrawlings of Morris from the re discovered, notebooks. I hope you enjoy.   

   As they sat, eyes fixed on their matching his & hers ipod covers, ear buds dangling into their laps, they glanced up occasionally, briefly taking in snatches of the outside and of each other.

    Brow furrowed, his eyes rarely left his music player, turned digital organizer. Not looking up as he sips from his coffee cup, his work is his only aim.
    Legs crossed, foot waving, her glances are frequent and erratic, looking for interest, and to be interesting. She is amused to see the twenty something near the window scratching away at his pad. She wonders what he's writing about, She smiles to herself, as she wonders if he knows how much there is to learn, that he can't possibly know, yet.

The Return

I feel a little self indulgent, writing about writing. Which is strange. I'd think that writing about one's self would be the more self indulgent activity. But, as that is the nature of most blogs...

I was digging through some dust covered boxes trying to get my hands on two old pieces that I wrote, in notebooks I'd retired years ago. As I brushed through cover after cover looking through at the things I'd done and read, It felt like being in a room with good friends, and trusted advisors. With the occasional, odd/ risque acquaintance thrown in, for balance sake.When I uncovered the notebook I sought, I remembered it all, even the place I was sitting, and what I was wearing when I wrote the particular piece. Then...
  Just like the notebooks, I thought about all of the special friends, brilliant advisors and crazy acquaintances which I've had over the years. Some of whom I am, miraculously, able to keep contact with. Others, however, only rarely return to my life. And many, are just the "misty water-coloured memories, of the way we were."
  I want to say thank you, whichever you are. The person you see before you, for better, for worse, was made possible in part by you. I hope I was able to positively contribute to who you are, as well. And I'm sorry to those with whom I have lost touch.
  If you're inclined, let's catch up. There's always time for tea