Monday, December 12, 2011

Seth's Stranded in Indy Misadventure!

Over the weekend I got miserably stuck in what is fast becoming in my book the black hole of Indiana: Indianapolis. I think the easiest way to relay the story is in timeline fashion. Over the weekend I encountered many people who helped me out a lot. I'd like to know, after reading the timeline, who do you think deserves to be crowned MVP (most valuable person (although some are not people)) of the misadventure and why? Candidates for MVP will appear in bold! I'm even thinking of doing something nice for the person with the most MVP votes.

Saturday

3pm Depart from Columbus in trusty (ha!) Volvo. The trip goes fast because I'm rocking Common Man and the Torg sports talk radio podcast on my ipod.

6pm Arrive in downtown Indy at the statehouse for the ceremony. Chat it up with some high school buds Nick S and Andy W.

6:30 Other high school buds Tommy W, Brian H, and Mike P arrive with significant others. Tommy W is bummed to miss SantaCon in NYC (where he's from). Ceremony begins. First wedding with Jewish elements I've ever been to. Chuppah represents the home of the married couple. The groom, my buddy Jordan S stomps on a glass to make it official. Awesome!

7:15 Ceremony is over. It has been decided that I will drive high school buds' significant others to the reception since I am the only one with a car and they are in dresses.

7:20 Trusty (ha!) Volvo won't start. The lights inside and out will go on but it won't even start to turn over at all. I apologize to high school buds' significant others and look under the hood (as if I knew what any of that stuff was) and check some other things. I can't figure anything out. Bad battery is suspected.

7:25 High school buds and significant others call a cab and leave for reception. Nick S leaves to get his rental car to try to jump my car. I call Julie R aka my main squeeze (and only squeeze) and we talk it over. She calls her dad Bryan S who is our go-to car guy.

7:45 Nick S returns and we try to jump the trusty (ha!) Volvo many many times. No luck.

7:55 Talk with father-in-law Bryan S directly. He suspects battery too.

8:05 I go back inside statehouse to see if I can leave my car in their lot overnight. Statehouse security guard is nice but no help. I return to the car.

8:15 Nick S is on the phone calling his roadside assistance people. However, we discover I can leave my car on the street for free since tomorrow is Sunday. We decide to do that until we figure out where there is a shop that is open on Sundays.

8:35 We arrive at the reception. There are a bunch of Santas at the bar. I guess Tommy W hasn't missed SantaCon after all. We really haven't missed much except waiting in the buffet line. I eat dinner and talk with the happy bride and groom, Jordan S and Sonya S. Dinner is yummy.

9:20 I call Julie R and talk strategy. I can hear my 2.5 week old son, Ezra R in the background. Julie R is making calls to friends we have in the area and trying to get car shop recommendations. As we talk, my phone battery goes from two bars to one bar. My very old cell phone has a battery that runs out super quick, especially during calls. We decide I should not use my phone to make calls anymore. When we figure my car out I will want to have a cell phone for my drive home in case something happens to my car again. I give Julie Andy W's phone number.

9:30 I get back to the reception just in time to see Jordan S and Sonya S lifted into the air sitting on chairs while the rest of the people dance around. Love it! Dancing ensues.


10:30 Julie R calls me on Andy W's phone. All this time she has been furiously searching for some troubleshooting tips that will get my car started. She has found some tricks I can try. Dilemma! I don't want to leave the wedding but I do want to leave Indy tonight! I didn't bring a real change of clothes, just something comfortable for the drive home and I don't have any toothpaste or other toiletries. I decide to go try to get my car to work so I can go home tonight.


10:35 Andy W gives me the extra keycard to his hotel room at La Quinta Inn in case I can't start my car and I want to rest instead of coming back to the reception. I leave the reception and start walking. It's cold and I am wearing dress pants, a t-shirt, nice dress shirt, sweater, tie, and dress shoes. I didn't bring a coat with me because I didn't plan on being here long.

11:00 I arrive at the trusty (ha!) Volvo and try the tricks Julie R found but have no luck. I decide that by the time I get back to the reception it may be about over so I decide to walk to the hotel instead. I grab a hoody and sweatpants I had brought for the ride home and put them on over my dress clothes. Problem: I have no idea where La Quinta Inn is.

11:10 I decide to go to a different hotel and ask them about La Quinta Inn. I go to the Hyatt where the Hyatt desk guy graciously gives me directions and a map to La Quinta Inn. I'm off! It's cold.

11:45 I arrive at La Quinta Inn. It's nice to be inside and warm. I call Julie R and discuss plans for the morning. She has continued her furious serach all while juggling a fussy baby and trying to maintain sanity. There are a few other things she has found that I can try to get my car to work. We decide I will try again in the morning. I hear Ezra R in the background. I miss my family! I watch highlights of my Indiana Hoosiers beating Kentucky on a buzzer beater. Awesome!

12:00 Brush my teeth by putting a dab of Andy W's toothpaste in my mouth. Go to sleep.

Sunday


8:00 Wake up. Decide not to take a shower (after all, I'm going home today!). Bad decision. I put on all my clothes (dress clothes under sweatpants and hoodie again to stay warm), get another dab of toothpaste and head downstairs. I enjoy a fluffy waffle and apple juice compliments of La Quinta Inn. Knowing it is super cold out I decide to make myself a cup of coffee, even though I hate the taste of coffee. Having something warm in my hands sounds good. I found out I can tolerate a small styrofoam cup of coffee with two creams and six sugars. I leave the Inn and head for the car.

8:40 I arrive at the trusty (ha!) Volvo and try the new tricks. No luck. Now what? I head back to the Hyatt.

8:50 Stacie at the Hyatt is very helpful. She lets me call Julie R on the hotel phone. We decide to have the car towed to a shop in Carmel (northside suburb) that has an open Firestone auto shop. Ezra R is not happy about daddy being gone. I miss my family. I call the tow guy and he tells me it will be awhile.

9:00 I decide to wait inside the Hyatt since it would be a while until the tow company came. Watch more highlights of my Hoosiers!

10:15 Tow guy comes. He's really nice. I ride with him in the cab of the tow truck. We avoid awkward silence by speaking the universal language of sports. We decide that both the Colts and the Browns are bad.


11:00 Arrive at auto shop. Shop Lady is very nice and wants to help. They put a new battery in the trusty (ha!) Volvo and it still doesn't start. It's not the battery. They try a few other things but don't know what's wrong. Something or someone they need to discover the problem won't be there until Tuesday. Bummed that we have to tow the car again the the Shop Lady decides not to charge me for anything but the tow. Thanks Shop Lady! We need to find another shop that can at least look at it tomorrow (Monday). I decide to walk to the public library a mile and a half away and use the interwebs to get a plan in action for the evening.

12:20 Leave the autoshop. It's cold. My dress shoes are a very bad choice to be walking around in but they are all I have. Think about stopping for lunch but the library is only open 1-5 and I want to make sure I give myself time to make plans so I skip it.

12:55 Arrive at Carmel Public Library. It's not open yet so I sit and wait in the lobby. I realize I am getting very smelly from all this walking around and I have bedhead. I should have showered.

1pm Library opens. I ask for a bag at the front desk and they give me a plastic Kroger grocery bag. I take off sweats in the bathroom and put them and all my other stuff it the bag. I still smell really bad, but now at least I look dressy. However, the bedhead and grocery bag full of clothes pretty much pinpoint me as a hobo. I look like a well-dressed hobo and I feel like one too.

1:15 I google chat it up with Julie R. There are two shops that will be open tomorrow that can hopefully fix our car. We decide that Julie R will call them in the morning and figure out which one to use (obviously neither of them are open on Sunday). I spend my time making Facebook pleas and getting in contact with friends in the area. Sarah P lives in the city and can help. Don't worry, she only has a final tomorrow for law school that is worth 100% of her grade for the class. NBD. Sarah P very kindly offers me a couch to sleep on in her downtown apartment. I accept and we make plans for her to pick me up at a Wendy's at 5:15. Julie R disovers a shuttle that will take me from downtown back to Carmel tomorrow morning. Nice. She also finds a few more tricks for me to try on the trusty (ha!) Volvo.

3:30 I leave the library and head back to the shop. It's cold outside. My feet hurt. The inventor of dress shoes is a stupid face.

4:15 Arrive at the shop. The tricks don't work.

4:25 Go to Verizon store across the street thinking maybe they can charge my phone! Verizon Guy is totally helpful. Unfortunately my phone is so old that they don't have a charger for it. I ask if I can get a new phone knowing I am due for an upgrade but I need an admin password because it's a work phone. I'm pretty sure I have it written down at the office but I'm not at the office, I'm in stupid black hole Indianapolis. I use Verizon Guy's personal phone to call Cheryl H from work to see if she knows the password. She doesn't. She calls Lisa Z from work to see if she knows the password. She doesn't. The Verizon Guy tells me he feels defeated. I laugh and tell him, "Welcome to my world."

4:55 I go across the street to Kroger and get some toothpaste, a toothbrush, shampoo, bodywash, and deoderant. I need to call Sarah P because there is no way I'm making it to Wendy's by 5:15. I open up my cell phone and as I start to text her my battery indicator goes from one bar to zero bars and starts blinking which means I have maybe one minute of call time before it dies. I close the phone and ask the Kroger Lady if they have a pay phone and they laugh me out of there.

5:00 I cross the street and head to Walgreens to look for a payphone. On the way I brush my teeth with no water. I don't want to spit it on the ground because I already feel like a hobo so I swallow it. Yum. Lunch!

5:05 Walgreens does not have a payphone and they won't let me make a long distance call to Sarah P (Even though Sarah P lives in Indy her cell phone is from Uzbekistan). I decide to suck it up and try using my phone. If this doesn't work I have will have to find someone who will let me use their phone to call her. I talk to Sarah long enough to give her directions.

5:15 Sarah P arrives at Walgreens in her lovely green Prius! After having felt pretty lost and hopeless for 20 hours I feel found once again. Yay! My cell phone battery officially dies.

5:30 I call Julie R from Sarah P's phone and give her the update. Ezra R misses daddy. I miss my family! I get Ryan C's phone number because he is at the church (my work) and may have access to my Verizon account password. I give him directions to find the password in my files and tell him to call me back.

5:45 We stop at target to get me a change of clothes. I decide two zip-up hoodies in my life is not enough and buy a third, along with a t-shirt, socks and unmentionables (sorry, this isn't one of those racy blogs in which I just write about how I bought a pair of boxers. Gross.). While I'm shopping Ryan C calls me on Sarah P's phone and gives me the password. Hopefully I can get a new phone tomorrow (all the Verizon stores close at 5 on Sunday).

6:00 We get some Panera to go and return to Sarah P 's apartment and eat while watching West Wing. Love it. I take a long-overdue shower. I call Julie R on Sarah P 's phone and give her an update. I help Sarah P study for her Civil Procedures final. She knows everything. We have a long discussion about Freakonomics. Sarah P goes to bed and I watch the end of the Cowboys/Giants game. The Cowboys sure know how to blow it.

12:15am Go to sleep

Monday


6:15 am Wake up. Sarah P drops me off at the pickup place for the shuttle back to Carmel.

6:40 am Shuttle arrives. Christmas music is playing and I am one of two passengers. I sing along to the music and have hope that I will return home today.

7:50 Arrive at the Carmel Meijer. Buy a raspbery-filled donut for breakfast. Yum. Try to call Julie on the pay phone at Meijer but can't remember her number correctly. I do manage to call the same wrong number twice though. Whoops!


8:15 Leave for Firestone. It's far. Sarcastic yay for dress shoes!


9:00 Arrive at Firestone. Remember Julie R's number and call her on Firestone's phone. She has decided we will take our car to Integrity Auto, just down the street. I call the tow place and they tell me it could be a few hours.


9:30 I walk over to the Verizon store. Verizon guy is still there. I give him the code and it works! I have a new phone! I call Julie R and tell her the good news. Things are looking up!


10:00 I walk to Kroger and get a newspaper so I can do the crossword while I wait for the tow truck.


10:15 Return to Firestone and wait.


10:45 Tow truck drives me and the trusty (ha) Volvo to Integrity Auto.


11:15 Integrity Auto gets working on the car. I go back to the library and use the interwebs while I wait.


2pm I'm getting a little antsy about the car. If they can't fix it today, I will need to call home and get someone to come pick me up and take me back to Columbus. I have a final of my own on Wednesday and need to get back and study for it. I walk back to Integrity Auto. They explain that they will have a diagnosis soon.


2:30 Integrity Auto tells me it's the ignition switch and no one in the area has the part. They cant' fix it until tomorrow. Ugh! However, they did mention that they were able to get the car running by getting power to the ignition another way. Yay! I ask if they can get the car running again and just let me drive it to Columbus. They agree but firmly remind me several times if I turn the car off for any reason I will have no way of getting it back on. I feel bad not giving them the business of fixing the car because they have been so great but I need to get home!


3:00 I'm in my trusty (ha!) Volvo and it's running! I'm driving home! I have just barely enough gas to get me to Columbus!


3:10 I turn on the radio and it wants me to insert a code. WHAT!? I start pressing buttons and entering in random numbers but I don't know of any code. What is going on? Three hours with no radio could be very boring!


3:15 I call Integrity Auto and they tell me that when the battery is disconnected and reconnected, the stereo makes you insert a code to use it for security purposes. It should be written down somewhere in my car manual.


3:20 I find the code in my car manual! Unfortunately, when I turn my stereo on again it won't let me enter the code anymore!


3:25 I find a customer service number in the car manual, call the number, and ask about the problem. They tell me that once you enter an incorrect code three times, the stereo shuts off. I ask if there is a way to reset it and enter the code again. The lady tells me no problem! All I have to do is turn the car off! Wah-wah-wah-waahhhhhhh.


3:30 I call Julie R and get the phone numbers of some out-of-town buds so I can have fun chatting it up with them on my drive home. I call Curt F and tell him all about my misadventure. As I am telling him the story I remember I have only eaten a donut all day and am getting really hungry. One part of my brain is telling me that I need to get home and shouldn't risk wasting gas on a trip to a fast food place. The other part of my brain is drooling and seriously considering the crusty old french fry on the passenger side floor.


3:35 I pass a sign for a White Castle and the decision is made. White Castle is double-risky because not only am I pulling over to waste gas, but it travels so quickly through the human body that I may have to get to a restroom. But it sounds soooooo good!


3:45 I'm on the road again, eating White Castle and feeling overcome with joy that I am going to get home very soon, see my family, and that I am eating delicious sliders. Instant diarrhea never tasted so good. Yum!


6pm I arrive in beautiful Columbus Ohio. I park at the auto shop that will park my car and Julie R pulls in with Ezra R to pick me up. Misadventure over!


So, who wins the MVP?

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Art of War and Marriage

There is a Ziploc bag in our freezer which contains raspberries. Usually we try to freeze these raspberries in such a way that they freeze separately and don't stick together. But some of the raspberries have formed huge clumps and are ruining all the fruit-filled fun. Ever since these clumps started forming I have been dodging them in secret hopes that Julie will break down and eat them so I don't have to. Today, as we were both getting some raspberries, she said to me, "Will you eat those raspberry clumps already?" She had been doing the same thing that I was doing. We had been waging a secret war over who would eat the raspberry clumps. (Can we take a second to acknowledge how weird it is that "raspberry" has a "p" in it?)

Fighting secret wars is the best thing about marriage. Okay, maybe not the best, let's be serious, but it's probably second. The great thing about secret wars is that there is no limit to how many you can fight simultaneously. Here are a few secret wars Julie and I have waged in the past:

1. Who will break down first and take out the trash bag that smells mysteriously nasty? This is a war we are currently waging. I just took the trash out a few days ago. There is hardly anything in there and yet it smells like Charlie Sheen and the plague had a baby and it died in our trash can. Better dig your heels in, Julie, we're in for a long one.

2. Who will suck it up and drink the last pulpy half glass of OJ in the jug? Even if you get "no pulp" orange juice, there remains a pulpy portion of the OJ and a thinner portion. When the jug is at rest, the pulpy part resides on the bottom and the thin part chills up top. This is why you have to shake the jug before you pour. In our house, we both like the thin part. It's delicious. It's like biting into the freshest orange that has ever existed. In fact, the fruit that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden was probably an orange that tasted just like the thinner portion of an unshaken jug of OJ. It's that good. It's so good that one of the Rowes has been known to not shake the jug of OJ at all in order to get a full glass of the thin stuff, leaving more thick stuff to the sucker who lovingly shakes it every time. I'll leave it to you to figure out who the sucker is. But regardless of how often the jug gets shaken, at the very end of it all, when there's a glass or less left, it's all the thick stuff. You pretty much have to resign yourself to chewing that last half glass of OJ. That's a secret war oft repeated in our house.

3. Who will give in and initiate conversation/apologize after a fight? To be honest, Julie and I don't really fight, at least not in the traditional sense. Neither of us are yellers (well, I'm a happy/excited yeller, but not an angry yeller). When we get upset with one another, we typically just clam up and wait it out. If it's something serious, like drinking a full glass of unshaken, gloriously thin OJ, one of us eventually breaches the topic and we talk it through. Sometimes a little space and a bit of a breather is a good chance to cool off and think...about just how wrong the other person is...JK, JK. While a bit of time is good in some situations, there comes a point when I know I'm just being stubborn. Being the first one to say something is like admitting that I'm wrong, you know? So I'd rather just stew in my secret war than make peace. I'd rather cling to my notion of being right than initiate reconciliation. How silly is that?

I think we all wage secret wars. Sometimes the secret war is being waged by both parties and sometimes it's one-sided and the other person has no idea. Some of them are just kind of humorous but others really put a barrier between us and others. What's your secret war? What's keeping you from making peace?

Monday, August 8, 2011

State Fair

Is there any better display of who we are as a country than a state fair? I submit that there is not! Seriously, what already artery-clogging food won't we submerge in batter and then deep fry? What sedentary farm animal won't we cheer on as they race around a track for our own entertainment? What farm equipment logo won't we air brush onto a t-shirt with our own name and proudly wear the same day? It's breathtaking, really.

But if there's one thing I love about this country, it's the passion to get better, the innate drive to push the limits of health and ridiculous spectacle to its most extreme boundary. In that spirit, here are a few things I hope I will see next year at the state fair:

1. Deep fried Hot Pockets--Let's be honest, this has been a long time coming. They are already deep-frying kool-aid (how they accomplish this culinary feat is beyond me). Frankly, I can't believe we haven't already deep fried a bread pocket full of nasty meat. What are we waiting for?

2. Cow-tipping--I have to give credit to a friend for this idea. Part of the beauty of the state fair is giving us city folk a real rural experience. I must admit, cow tipping seemed a little cruel to cows when I visualize it, but then I realized that I had beef for dinner. If given a choice between being tipped, and being dinner, I think I know which one the cow would choose. But then again, we'd probably tip it, slaughter it, and eat it on the spot. God bless 'murica.

3. A giant chicken sculpture made of solidified human fat--This year's fair had a butter cow and a chocolate pig. One would think seeing so much butter and chocolate in the form of farm animals would discourage eating but all it did was confuse me as I tried to figure out what I was most hungry for. Mmmm, steak sounds good. No, wait, I want chocolate. No, bacon! No, beef! Okay, I'll admit it. I want a freshly killed cowpig slathered in chocolate and melted butter. I dare you to tell me that doesn't sound delicious right now.

What do you want to see at the fair next year?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fathers and funerals

If I had to decide what my funeral would be like, it'd be a lot like the one in Elizabethtown, a highly underrated film starring some guy and that one girl. At this funeral (SPOILER ALERT!!!) there is laughter, a tribute band playing Freebird, and a grand finale fire that triggers the overhead sprinkler system and empties the building while the band continues to jam. Awesome.

People always say that they want their funeral to be a celebration. They want it to be happy and not sad. I understand that sentiment and even agree to an extent, but let's agree that a cheerful funeral is a difficult feat to pull off, especially when the deceased is young or the death is unexpected. No one is happy about losing someone they love. It's helpful to remember the parts of that person we loved but even in those happy memories there is sadness. Funerals are also about grieving, and that is okay.

I went to a funeral recently. The most meaningful part for me was hearing the man's son speak. The son told a few great stories about hilarious things his father had done to embarrass him in ways only a father can.

I tried to think about what it would be like if my father died and to be honest, I really couldn't think about it for very long. I know it will devastate me. There is something special about the bond between a father and a son; something sacred. At least in my experience, I've always seen my father as an invincible hero. The world somehow seems safer with him in it. I think this is by design. I believe the feeling of protection a good father provides is meant to be a small glimpse of a heavenly father who loves us and wants the best for us.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the kind of father that provides that glimpse. Some have awful fathers and some don't have a father at all. But I believe even in those situations a heavenly father wants to fill that empty space in a person's life and provide love and protection that has been missing.

For me, I remain thankful for the dad I have. What a great glimpse he is!

And in four short months, I'm going to have a son (yikes!). Hopefully I can be a decent glimpse too.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book Lists

A blogger I regularly read just posted a list of books that he is reading right now. I love when people do that. And I hate it.

For the past few weeks book lists have been attacking me from all angles like brain-noshing zombies. I read a blog: book list. I turn on NPR: book list. I open two different books I am currently reading: book list. book list. It's redonk.

I love book lists because I love books. I love the smell of books. I love the feel of books. I love the sound of books. I wish I married a book. Jk, jk. But I do love reading books and I am always in the process of reading at least one if not 34 (the current count of books I have started and still have some sort of intention to return to in the near future is 8 with an additional 4 waiting on deck. I got so excited today when I found out that I can freely rent electronic copies of books through my library that I tried to make out with my library card. It was awkward for both of us.

However, as with most things in life, it's not all puppy dogs and ice cream. There is a dark side to book lists. A normal person may see a book list and think, "Oh, that's nice. Maybe I will read one of those some time." Seth sees a book list and thinks, "This list is authoritative to me and it is essential that I read every single book on it and NOW." No joke, I have daydreamed about having the ability to stop time, not so that I could steal a bunch of money or do some wonderful, humanitarian thing but rather so that I could READ EVERY BOOK EVER WRITTEN. I've daydreamed about this MULTIPLE TIMES. Please allow me to pause while I push my nerd glasses upward on the bridge of my nose and simultaneously give myself a swirly and an atomic wedgie.

The bummer about having the desire to read so many books is that it makes it very difficult to finish any. That's how I get to having 8 books on my plate at the moment. But I have a new strategy: Read one book at a time. Don't start one until I finish another. I know, it's a crazy new idea I've thought of. Feel free to use it at no charge.

As for the book I'm starting with? No joke, it's called How to Read a Book.

And you thought I couldn't get any nerdier.

What books (or books) are you reading right now?

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Cure for Blog Block

I know that those of you who regularly read this blog see me as a gushing mountain spring of creativity and insight. Each time you finish reading one of my posts you sit back, exhale, and wonder to yourself, "Where does he come up with this solid gold material?" However, you may be surprised, that I, the one who has brought you such hard-hitting blog topcis as "Pineapple," "Sprinskies," and something about a monkey tail moustache, yes even I occasionally struggle to find that inspirational topic that will change lives and trend so hard on twitter that it actually reverses the earth's rotation.

These struggles are called blog block and I got it bad.

Thankfully, I called on my unintentional community (aka Facebook friends) to help me out. I asked for a good topic and received lots of great ones.

So instead of picking one and digging deep, I thought it might be fun to write a post about them all. Buckle up. Here goes...

1. Mario Kart on the 64--Easily the best Mario Kart, especially for battle mode. By the way, if you're not talking like Mario while you play, then you're just not playing it right.

2. My favorite teacher--Tie between Mrs. Bookwalter, to whom I owe my love and appreciation of literature, and Brad Price, my counseling Prof. I talk about him here.

3. Dream analysis--Intriguing, but not nearly as effective as analyzing what you do when you're awake.

4. Jon Chin Chinavong--The only person I know who can constantly tell others that he is awesome without it instantly becoming untrue.

5. The Shaq: One Year Later--(Book Description) Retired basketball player/genie spends a week at a secluded cabin in the woods where he encounters God. God tells him to once again team up with Burger King and bring back the Shaq pack (Whopper with cheese, fries with cheese, and a soft drink...with cheese?).

6. Best Memory of my college house (816 E. 8th street aka "816")--Moving out? JK, JK. This is like the favorite movie question. It's so hard to pick just one (unless you've seen A Walk to Remember. In that case it's no contest. Bravo, Mandy Moore, bravo.). One favorite memory of 816 is when some girls came over in secret and cleaned it for us. This was great for two reasons: One, it was just a nice thing to do and two, because I lived with guys who washed dirty dishes by breaking them on the wall behind a chair. COLLEGE!!!

7. Marriage--Second best decision I ever made. I highly recommend it. Advice for marriage: talking helps, secrets hurt.

8. Reasons a young couple and baby should live in Bloomington--Because their friends that already live in Bloomington pay them one million dollars. Each.

9. The difference between life and existence--purpose.

10. Sex--I'll tell you when you're older.

Good stuff. Thanks for all the ideas. Perhaps I will elaborate on some of these topics in the coming weeks. Here's a good question: Which of the ten should I elaborate on?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

GOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL!!! (S)

I've completely fallen off the horse lately concerning blogging. But what do you do when you fall off the horse?


We get back on! (Sorry Maury, I'm not a gymnast) <---name that movie quote.



Anyhow, you can expect a bit more regular posting from me because I have recently spent some time doing one of my favorite things to do in the world:


No, not tickling puppies...guess again.


No, not singing my thoughts out loud opera-style as I walk around the house...guess again.


That's right! I've set goals!


I love setting goals. I love setting goals for several reasons. First, I'm a bit of a dreamer. It's fun to think about all the things you'd like to do. Secondly, I'm an optimist. When I think of all the things I'd like to do, I generally feel like, "Yeah, I could do all these things!" And finally, setting goals just makes good sense. It has been said that if you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time. Yowza! That's depressfest. Instead, why not think through what you want to accomplish and take small steps to make it happen?


We all have goals, even if we never verbalize them. However, experts in the field of goal-setting (David Beckham, the E-trade baby, and Debbie, the crazy eharmony cats lady) all agree that the key to goal-setting is actually writing your goals down and putting them somewhere you will see them regularly. So I took this idea of making goals and totally nerdified it. I created a monthly sheet on which I get to fill in a bubble each time I complete a daily, weekly, or monthly goal. Some of my goals include blogging once a week, exercising four times a week, and spending time praying for people every day (let me know if I can pray for you).


One goal I really thought about setting but didn't was to grow a monkey tail beard (see below). I encourage you to go where I could not. In fact, if you grow a monkey tail beard I will write a blog post completely about you (totally fair exchange).


Wish me luck with my goals. Go write some of your own down!




Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To cheer or cry?

I got a text from a friend two nights ago as I was glued to the television, watching the reports come in that Osama bin laden had been killed.

"Is it okay to be glad that somebody is dead?"

I was wondering the same thing.

I understand that bin Laden was largely responsible for a number of terrorist activities including the tragedy on September 11th. I understand that to have a person like bin Laden no longer able to contribute to destruction and death is a good thing. I understand that for many who have felt the pain and loss from terrorism much more acutely than me, bin Laden's death may serve as some sort of closure.

But I have to say, to see my fellow Americans standing outside the White House, cheering, smiling, laughing about the death of a person was really difficult to swallow. It just didn't sit right with me. I'm not trying to say that these people were in some way morally wrong in doing this. I'm only saying that it made me feel not good.

Certainly the death of any person is a somber, sobering event. Even if only because bin Laden's death is a reminder of the deaths of those he killed. His death could never undo the damage he has done. His death does not build the two towers back up. It does not resurrect all those he killed. Perhaps if that happened, then we'd really have reason to celebrate.

You may have seen this quote from MLK Jr. floating around facebook:

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Love, love, love that quote. When I first saw this in response to bin Laden's death, I recognized that this was how I felt. I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.

And yet...

I think it's fair to recognize that the circumstances are complex. When speaking of the dichotomies of darkness/light and hate/love, it's easy to say that hate cannot drive out hate. I like that statement and in an ultimate sense, I believe it's true. However, do things change when we speak of life and death? Can one death prevent many more deaths? And if so, does this make that one death good or right? Tough stuff.

Many people, religious and non-religious alike, tend to reduce life to a dichotomy of right and wrong, black and white. It's either one way or the other. There is no gray. I often fall into this mindset and I will defend it's usefulness and appropriateness in some circumstances.

However, if I had to choose whether or not to kill a terrorist in order to save the lives of those he is targeting, I would have a difficult time. This is why I could never be president (yep, the one and only reason). Sorry mom.

Sometimes, it's a little trickier than wrong or right. In the Bible, it says that God hates divorce. And yet there are circumstances in the Bible in which God commands people to get a divorce. To me, this is not a contradiction but rather an acknowledgement that maybe in a perfect world, the clear-cut dichotomy of right vs. wrong makes sense. But we don't live in a perfect world. We live in a broken one.

Sometimes, it seems, all the choices we are presented with in a situation are bad. We dig ourselves into an ugly situation, or someone drags us into an ugly situation, or an ugly situation materializes out of nowhere. And we may have hundreds of choices but they are all bad. They are all wrong. What do we do then?

I have no answers to this question, especially on a systemic, societal level. However, on a personal level, MLK's advice is golden: Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oh yeah, church! Part 2

In incredibly timely fashion considering my last post, we discussed the concept of "church" in my theology class yesterday and there was a big connection point between my thoughts from Monday and our class discussion (if you didn't read my last post, just scroll down you lazy bum!)

One concept we talked about in class was the difference between the visible church and the invisible church. The visible church is the human institution. It's the building, the people, the activities. It's anything that is available to your senses. The invisible church is something different.

And the evidence supporting the existence of an invisible church is that the visible church is so far off the mark of what church should be. All the critiques people (non-churchy people and churchy people alike) make about church, valid or invalid, are proof that there is something wrong with the church. It's not what it should be.

I really like the definition given in class for the invisible church. While the visible church is what we see when we look at the church, the invisible church is what God sees when he looks into the church. And despite all the church's weaknesses and failures, God sees potential and beauty and creatures He loves. He sees a church that though imperfect, he can work with to do some amazing things

And that gives me a lot of hope. Because that's not just the story of church. That's the story of me. The fact is, I'm pretty messed up. The visible Seth is not what Seth should be. I'm proud and selfish and lazy and a bunch of other things that fall short of what a decent human being should be. The amazing news? There's an invisible Seth, that maybe I don't see and other people don't see, but God sees. A Seth with potential and beauty. A Seth that is loved unconditionally without having earned it or deserved it. A Seth that though imperfect, God can use.

And it's my belief that that's not just the story of church and the story of me. It's your story too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Oh yeah, church!

Today I arrived at church just as the service started. But instead of my normal semi-close parking spot being open, the parking lot was full and I had to park in the back corner. Instead of looking for someone we know and sitting by them, Julie and I had to take folding chairs set up last minute at the very back of the sanctuary. The place was packed to overflowing, which means one of two things: either tomorrow is Christmas or today is Easter.

Many are aware of the Chreaster (kree-ster) phenomenon: The fact that a huge amount of people only come to church on Christmas Eve and Easter. The reasons for this are many. They are, of course, the most important Holidays on the Christian calendar. Jesus' birth and resurrection, those are the biggies. Going to church is part of the tradition on these days. These are also the days that moms with the best of intentions tend to lay on the extra layer of guilt for children and children feel most willing to appease their mothers. And churches, anticipating the crowds, bring out the big guns for these holidays. Candle light services and cute kids singing and lots and lots of hope in the message. All this stuff brings the crowds out big time.

And don't get me wrong, I am happy to park in the back and sit in the back if it means a whole bunch of people we don't normally see have decided to come and worship with us. That is awesome, seriously. Please keep coming! But as happy as I am to see these people twice a year, it makes me wonder, "Where are they every other Sunday? Many, many people have made a conscious decision to go to church twice a year and that's it. Framed differently, why are these people, who are willing to go to church twice a year, so unwilling to go the rest of the time?

Recently I heard someone say something very much like this: "Church is just a place where people go to judge other people."

It made me sad.

It made me sad for a couple of reasons. One reason is that it's a true statement. At least for some people. There are plenty of people that see church as a way of setting themselves morally higher than others and while that's not my reason to go to church certainly I am guilty of judging others.

But it also made me sad because for all of the bad/unspeakable/tragic things that "church" has stood for in the history of Christianity, there is so much good.

It made me sad because when I think of "church," I don't see a building or a tradition or a ritual. I see something that it so much more beautiful to me and I fear so many Chreasters may never get to experience it.

So, that said, here is what "church" is to me:

-Church is hearing a person tearfully confess the weaknesses she hates most about herself and having a group of people (who have suffered directly as a result of those weaknesses) show her unconditional love and acceptance.

-Church is thirty people filling a tiny living room with the sounds of one guitar and loud, unembarrassed, off key singing.

-Church is publicly weeping out of simultaneous joy and sorrow at the thought of being loved so much but deserving it so little.

-Church is being called out on the inconsistencies between what you say and what you do and being truly grateful for it.

-Church is being fully known, dirt and all, and yet fully accepted.

I have to be honest. I feel like I am doing a disservice to church. Church is so much more than these five bullet points. I also want to be clear that I'm not trying to de-spiritualize church or anything. All of these bullet points I'm talking about are happening in the context of a community of people who share the most important thing in their lives in common: loving Jesus.

I guess what I'm really trying to get at is this: I know that a lot of people have a lot of different perspectives on church. Those perspectives come from experiences and conversations and lots of other places and they are certainly valid. If a person sees church as a place of judgment it's probably because he has felt and probably been judged by a church or a person/people who represent church in his mind.

I just wish they could experience church like I have experienced it.

So what is "church" to you? (good or bad)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tonight I went to the screening of a documentary called "The Race To Nowhere." I'd put up a fancy link to the documentary site but I'm too lazy and oh yeah, ever heard of Google?

The gist of the documentary was that our education system is messed. up. There's a lot of different directions to spring off from a comment like that and the movie hits on a lot of them. Homework doesn't actually help students learn. Students are overscheduled. Even the highest-acheiving students go to college and don't know how to think and solve problems (they only know how to memorize and regurgitate). There was lots of material to chew on.

One remark made by a high school student in the documentary stuck with me. She said that high school is no longer about preparing to go to college. It's about preparing your college application. College is when you BEGIN TO LEARN.

Yikes.

I remember my freshman year of college I had a class (perhaps the first of my life) in which a teacher asked me to do more than just memorize and regurgitate; he actually wanted me to think (imagine that!). He asked our whole class of college students, future teachers no less, to explain what caused earth's seasons using a diagram of the earth and the sun. None of us could do it. We guessed but none of us got it quite right. College students. Many of whom are now teachers. Couldn't do it. That's information that I had memorized and regurgitated before. But now it's gone.

By the way, that teacher that asked me to think, he was Israeli, not American.

What is it about our culture? Why do we put so much value on the almighty A? To get into a good college? To get a good job? To make a lot of money? To....be happy? Does that sound about right? My end goal is to be happy therefore I will need lots of money. We would never say that to kids but is that what we teach them?

A couple weeks ago a close friend of mine told me that if the 17-year old Seth could have seen into the future and observed the life of the 27-year old Seth, he would have asked why I wasn't writing more. Like, a lot more.

What does that have to do with education? Well, writing is one pursuit that has always made me happy. But somewhere along the way I ditched writing regularly. Why? It's not that it had stopped making me happy. I was just too busy acheiving to be happy.

Okay, I've overstated my case...probably by a lot. I really like school, I always have and the fact is I'm pretty happy these days. But I do want to write more. And I wonder what would happen if we taught students to pursue those things that bring them joy in life instead of those things that bring them money or success.

Don't worry, be happy (cue whistling).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Conversation

I was reading this book yesterday and at the end there was a page of acknowledgments. I'm usually the kind of guy who skips all dedications/prologues/epilogues/introductions/conclusions. My thinking is, if it were truly important, it would have earned itself a bona fide chapter. However, against my better judgment I read the acknowledgments and was really struck by what I saw.

A lot of times in these types of pages there is a broad sweep of thank yous. From editors who looked at "draft after draft after draft" to family members who put up with the absence of their loved one during the writing/publishing process to the barista at the local coffee shop who "saw my face and didn't even have to ask to know I wanted a grande mocha-frappe-latte-hemi-cino." But this page of acknowledgements was (at least a little) different.

Instead of a general thank you to a person, many of the thank yous were regarding a specific conversation with a person. Thanks, Jimmy, for that time at the coffee shop. And Shlaniqua, what a great conversation we had on that road trip to Vegas. Stuff like that.

It struck me because some of the most cherished moments in my life were conversations. Real conversations have the ability to draw people closer and closer together. Furthermore, great, intimate discussions are a fertile place where ideas form and from which creativity and change can emerge.

I thought back to some of the great conversations I've had so far in my life. So, in case I never write a book, here are my conversation thank yous.

To A, thanks for the late-night sneak out walks through our neighborhood in high school. I can only remember a handful of things we talked about back then but I can remember how much meaning I found from them.

To J, thanks for hearing me out after a game of racquetball. Believe it or not, one of the scariest conversations for me ever. Thank you for responding with grace.

To R, that late night conversation in my car felt like it came out of nowhere! Thanks for trusting me with the details of your life.

To C, thanks for taking the time at Wright Food Court to teach me how to crave the Bible. There are few lessons, if any, I cherish more than that one.

To J, I didn't really want to stay up that morning, but how could I say no? Also, I'm so glad I did. I can make those noises too.

To G, who knows if you even remember our trip back from the wedding, but I began praying a prayer that night that God answered in a marvelous way.

To S and L, thanks for asking to hear my story.

To M, T, C, L, and W. Thanks for all the late-night conversations over cereal in the kitchen of that God-forsaken house.

I could go on. Here's to lots more of those conversations. Anyone want to talk?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Springskis

Although it was not my intention, my last post was a bit of a downer. I wrote with thoughtfulness, not sadness, but the feedback was pretty much that it was Depressfest Twentyeleven. Sorry about that. So this time around I thought we'd go a little lighter: Spring!

Is there anything better than the emergence of spring? Well, probably, but spring is pretty great. Here is a list of all the stuff I'm thankful for with the emergence of spring.

-The smell of fresh-cut grass. If someone figured out how to bottle this as a cologne I wouldn't just wear it, I'd drink it.

-Baseball. I've already hit the bleachers this spring and it was bliss. I don't care if baseball is a slow game. Call it boring if you want. I'll call you boring. I'm glad to spend three to four hours outside enjoying the relaxed pace of a game with strategy and class (especially when the Indians are 8-2. WHAT!?).

-It actually feels reasonable to listen to country music. Let's face it: country music is not an all-season experience. I'm not blasting country on a snowy winter evening. But you give me a sunny spring afternoon and country turns into mood music. My one requirement is that the song somewhere mentions the word, "Fu Manchu"

-Flip-flops. The only thing better than flip-flops are bare feet, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Bare feet are reserved for summer. Flip-flops are a good warm up. And let's be honest. Who doesn't love a solid flip-flop tan line?

-It stays light out longer. I know that the tilt of the earth or the movement of the jet stream or whatever it is that actually gives us daylight later in the evening doesn't actually change how many hours are in a day, BUT when I have several hours of daylight remaining after getting home from work, it feels like I'm living a 28-hour day. LOVE. IT.

Welp. Those are mine. What are your favorite things about spring?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Seth behind the Seth indeed

It's difficult to be vulnerable. It's difficult to be real. I spend a lot of my life trying to get people to like me or to think good things about me. A lot of my daily effort goes into presenting the best Seth I possibly can. Let's not let anyone see the "real me." God forbid I have weaknesses, struggles, problems, and flaws. Who am I kidding? What, really is the point of that? One result of this fakeness is that I miss out on the value of authentic relationships. I miss the beauty of exposing my fears and failures only to learn that I'm not the only imperfect being around. I miss the comfort of being truly known, dirt and all and yet still accepted and loved. Another result has just occurred to me as I've been tossing this stuff around lately. This practice of trying to create a more perfect version of myself to show others has actually clouded my own vision about who I am. When I read the words "real me," I have to admit I'm not really sure who that is or what that means. I spend so much time focused on the fake me, that I tend to lose touch of the real me. Recently I sat down with a friend of mine who has known me for a long time and who has walked through a lot of significant steps of life with me. After telling him about my life recently and stuff I've been thinking about and praying about he said I sounded lost. And that sounded strangely correct. How is it that I can have so many wonderful, wonderful blessings going on in my life and still feel lost? I'm still chewing on this but I have a hunch that it might have something to do with my focus on what people think about me instead of focusing on what is truly meaningful to me. What do you think? How do you experience the struggle between who you feel you truly are and the image of yourself you try to "sell" others on?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Proof of God

In my last post I mentioned a professor of mine who made a distinction between getting a degree and getting an education. I must confess, I am struggling with doing both at the moment. I'm just barely keeping up with the reading and assignments, but I'm not letting the material penetrate me to the degree that I would really like it to. As an attempt at a remedy, I am going to occasionally blog about the reading material for my next day's class. This will allow me to be at least a bit more thoughtful and be prepared for discussion. Hopefully you find this of some value.

I'm in a masters of counseling program at a seminary, which means I have a lot of counseling classes and a few more theologically-driven courses. Tomorrow's class is Intro to Theology.

The material we read was about proof of God. The concept of God is not something anyone ever had to work hard to convince me of. I lived my first 15 years of life pretty oblivious to God. I went to church and all that, but God wasn't a person to me, God was...an idea I guess, one that I didn't care too much about. When I was 15 I heard someone speak about God in a way that clicked for me and hit me at the right moment, and I've believed ever since.

The reading material talked about different ways that people have tried to prove God's existence. Either from rational arguments or by the beauty and complexity within nature, or the existence of morality within humanity (the idea that the concept of "good" exists). But for me, what has strengthened my faith most over the years is the Bible. I've never experienced a book that had the ability to over and over speak straight into my life and teach me, encourage me, help me in a way specific to my needs in that moment. Except for the Bible. Just tonight I was reading from Paul's letter to the Romans (in the Bible) and it was as if God was describing my situation and telling me the solution. Thanks God!

I wonder how God would feel about people trying to "prove" his existence. There are verses in the Bible that would indicate that God has already proven himself. There are also verses that would indicate perhaps Christians are supposed to help prove God to others. There are also verses that would indicate that even if some people had "proof" they would still choose not to follow. On some level though, "proof" seems very subjective. Certainly my standard of proof is not the same as everyone's (maybe anyone's).

I wonder, if you believe, what is your proof? If not, what would it take?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sweets fast revisited

Last I posted (in August? yikes!) I had started a sweets fast. I would recap that, but I'm too lazy.

However, the sweets (and possibly TV) fast is back with a vengeance! I'm taking a class on addiction this semester and as a part of the class we have to give up all mood-altering substances. If you don't really use any, you have to pick something to give up. The idea is to try to understand what it means to ask an addict to give up his or her drug. The one thing in life that they really love. Or perhaps I should say the thing they love the most. So since I don't drink or anything like that (Hugs Not Drugs, as my friend Mark would say), I decided to give up sweets and I am tentatively considering giving up TV as well, with the exception of the Superbowl and March Madness. I already sound like an addict, justifying reasons to use.

I really like this class...I think. The professor is interesting. At first I thought I really liked him. After digging into some of the reading I'm thinking I don't like so much anymore. The jury is still out. But here is a top 5 things I like about him.

1. He looks/talks like The Dude from the Big Lebowski.
2. Instead of wanting to teach me something, he says he wants to get something into my "noggin."
3. He took a very vulnerable thing I shared with the class and made a joke about it ten minutes later, but in a way that was 0% offensive and 100% hilarious. I think I laughed louder than anyone else.
4. He took the first part of class to make a distinction between "getting a degree" and "getting an education."
5. He wants us to be "great" counselors, not just "good" ones.

I really like all these, but I really like #4. I've been a culprit of the "get a degree" method in high school and a little bit in college. I entered grad school determined to "get an education" and not just a degree, but I can already feel the eagerness for grades and not learning creeping in. It's pervasive. He made a good point though. When a person comes into my future counseling office needing help, they aren't going to ask me or even care what my GPA in grad school was. They don't want someone with a 4.0 (or at least JUST that). They want someone who can help them.