Posted in God, Life

A Little Closer to Grace

Bowie was the last to die. Drawn and quartered by the pack. Snickers was decapitated, Mickey got run over. And God only knows what happened to the rest. But, someone had to pay for the crime. So the orange, shaggy dog took a bullet to the head. He took it as well as any I guess. Squealed, and then hobbled home like the wee little pig. He never knew what was coming, until the pain ripped through him. I just hope it was short, I wasn’t there, I just heard the bullet pop.

I still felt squeamish about the whole deal. The law of the jungle, I suppose. But, it seems like such a nasty affair.

We live in a fallen world, and nothing goes as planned. We are hybrid creatures, longing for love, yet mired in sin. There’s not room enough for us all to be loved, so we push each other around looking for love and acceptance, each one of us making a case for why we are more deserving of love than the other. And so it goes until the day we die. Life is a nasty, brutish mess.

I write about it all the time. The man who raped his girlfriend’s toddler, then went to a bar, stabbed a woman over a drug deal, then came home, stabbed his girlfriend, and then took a nap until the cops came. Or, what about the 18 year old that beheaded his mother with a butcher knife, and then answered the door to the cops, casually holding her severed head as if it were the television remote.

Then there are the perverted, like the teacher who put hidden cameras in the girls locker room, or the other teacher who was impregnated by her 13 year old student and then casually invited his parents for dinner. Or the trafficker who held a 14 year old runaway in a hotel room for three months, forcing her to pleasure hundreds of men, while the hotel staff said nothing of the johns coming in and out, the wastebaskets of used condoms they were pulling out of the room, or the scantily clad teen wandering the hall…

Or the Muslim extremists who force teen girls into slavery, and then tell them that if they go on this suicide mission, the bombs will not hurt them, and then they will be rewarded with freedom and a handsome husband of their choice.

Life is a brutish affair. And such a sordid mess, only God can sort us all out. That’s the beauty of the human condition. God is so gracious, he gives us shot after shot to get it right. And he works with us, time and and time again. Each time, he moves us a little closer to holiness, and little closer to grace. A little closer to something beautiful. And maybe that’s what it’s all about anyway. The beauty of Christ, shining against the mire of sin. So, we lean further and further into the grace of God.

The cats got off cheap I guess.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Barnes and Noble Cafe

Today I am writing out of the Barnes and Noble Cafe. It is but a shell of what it once was. Barnes and Noble, as the last major bookseller left, seems like in terms of fostering an environment of reading, writing, or studying, they just don’t care anymore.

When I was younger, the Barnes and Noble Cafe was the hub of techy cool. It was where you took your laptop, a brick that had to be plugged after about 15 minutes of use. You came to use the internet, read books, study, write a term paper, drink some coffee, and maybe buy a book or two. And, if you didn’t like your particular Barnes and Noble, there was always Borders.

Now, Barnes and Noble has changed. Most stores have gotten rid of the couch areas, saving for maybe a chair or two. And, the small cafes don’t have plugs anymore…the message–stay for about an hour, but once your computer starts dimming, move along.

The muted orange tables feel dated. To write here, I feel like I am writing in a store. Not a sacred place of reading and words. I missed the Barnes and Noble Cafe, and I am right here.

Posted in Life

The Easiest Part of Your Life

Today I am working out of a community college library. I do that sometimes. When you work from home, the house gets stale. So, you mix it up with various coffee shops and libraries to keep the energy flowing.

But today, I was listening to these college kids study. It sounded like a science class. But they recited their facts to one another, trying to make it stick. And I thought about my days doing such activities. I thought less about college and more about high school.

I remember anxiously studying for exams, brow furrowing with sweat. I remember dreaded reading assignments of reading half a chapter of a textbook two or three times a week.
I thought I was such a martyr having to take notes on really what amounted to about three or four pages that were subtitled, with bolded vocabulary words.

I remember the dreaded, “White Paper,” in tenth grade honors history. We were each assigned a country, and given a hot button political issue for that country. We spent a month of class time researching the issue, and painstakingly creating a research paper regarding that issue. I think it was supposed to be about four double spaced pages.

Tenth grade English included several five paragraph essays in preparation for state assessment testing. We would write an essay about every month. The first few we would spend all of this energy and work into pre-writing and graphing and organizing. Whole folders full of notes and worksheets on how to do an essay.

I can write a five paragraph essay in about fifteen minutes. (I’m not exaggerating, I did one for an open-ended question on a job application once. I actually pulled a receipt out of my purse, did a quick diagram on the back, and then answered the question with a proper five paragraph essay, all while sitting in an office lobby. I got the job).

I remember Junior English, was known throughout the school for the “research paper.” You had to read a piece of literature and write a five page paper on what scholars thought it meant. We spent the first half of the term learning how to do this, and the second half of the term doing it. It was supposed to be about 1,000 words.

This was all supposed to be a brutal undertaking. Now I just look back and laugh. Really?!

When I arrive at work each morning, the first tasks of my day, include skimming somewhere around 10-12 news articles and analyzing their sometimes complex content, all within about an hour. Then, I use them to write three to four articles a day–each one the equivalent of this “Junior Research paper”—a multi-sourced 1,000 word piece on a complex political issue, with graphics.  This means finding and reading somewhere between six to eight “sources” a piece, and skimming them for content so quickly there’s not even time for note taking.

And at the end of the day, I’m  a little tired. But, then I wake up and start it again. My point is, I thought I had it so hard back in school. If I would have known then what I knew now, I wouldn’t have whined and complained and bucked and procrastinated. I would have known that life is a matter of hard work and self-discipline. There are no shortcuts to success. You just have to power through. School is by far the easiest part of your life. If you’re in it, savor it. Cause it’s only uphill from here.

Then again, I still whine and complain and buck and procrastinate. But I get it done. So maybe I haven’t changed all that much.

 

 

 

Posted in Life

The Coffee Shop Feud

The last couple of weeks I’ve been having this ongoing silent feud with this coffee shop owner.

I told the story on here, about how seven years ago, I went to this coffee shop and the owner threw me out because I didn’t buy anything. I was hurt, embarrassed, wrote a blog post about it on a community news site, and then boycotted the place. This was all in 2010.

About a month ago, I started this new job, which requires going working out of the library many days. His shop…just so happens to be right in front of the library. And, you know, I figured after all these years, whatever.

I gave in and started going to his shop to get work done on days the library opens later. The first few days it went fine. Then he remembered me. And he didn’t feel the need to apologize. At all.

He’s not one of those disconnected owners either. He’s one of those that is there every single day. And he doesn’t sit in his office all day either. All day long, he is out and about in the shop, mixing and mingling with the customers. He wants to know everyone’s name, everyone’s story, and he wants to chat it up all morning. I just want to get some work done.

So, I know that by putting my headphones in, and zoning everyone out for a couple of hours, I’m offending him. But I’m a paying customer. My only saving grace is that I spend about $15 a day in coffee in snacks each morning. So, after a while of all this, the tension just became too uncomfortable, and I’ve been avoiding the shop. I just can’t stomach spending my money there. So, I’ve gone to other coffee shops.

But, the library is by far the best place to get work done. So, today I went early to the library, and sat outside and worked, avoiding the coffee shop. It all went well, until later in the morning, I went to get a soda at the quickie mart next door to him.

I walked in, grabbed a soda, and then went to check out. And who should be there, chatting up the quickie mart guy, than Mr. Coffee Shop. I turned to look at him and he turned away. As I was paying, he left the shop without saying another word.

What do I do with this guy? My rational mind says I should just be a grown up and apologize to him. But, I don’t want to apologize. What he did to me was terrible. Humiliating. He’s the business owner. He should apologize to me. He should want me as a customer. The whole thing is just upsetting.

And the soda tastes like sawdust.