On Vice and Corruption.

"The young spirit is like a good wine or cheese: without some selective decay, it is very bland." - Mandy, Circa 1998.

I'm sitting on my porch. It is an almost perfect day (overcast and cool).

I have a cup of coffee to my left filled with coffee and liquor. I have a cigarette smoking lightly in the ashtray. One of my firefox tabs is showing Failblog and ICHC. Every once in a while the little indulgences of life should be celebrated, and today I'm celebrating most of the legal ones all at the same time.

David danced before the Lord. It strikes me as gyration with incredible meaning--an immodest explosion of excitement over the blessings of a life made worth living because God is on our side.

I feel like maybe I need another shirt added to the long list of ones I'd like to own.

"My body is a temple. But sometimes the priests go a little wild."

Happy holidays everybody. Party on.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

First Christmas.

I have written here, more than once, in defense of melancholy.

I think that it has a place. There is a time for sorrow and longing and solitude and loss.

My Christmas morning was quiet and sweet. I opened gifts from my parents and sister, called friends and relatives around the country and toasted a few on the other side of the world, already well into tomorrow. I relished every moment of it.

I spend much of my time alone, but I am not lonely.

This day, a year ago, he was rolling in the snow
With a younger brother in his father's yard.
Christmas break - a time for touching home
The heart of all he'd known, and leaving was so hard -
Three thousand miles away, now he's working Christmas Day
Making double time for "the minding of the store"...
Well, he'd always said he'd make it on his own
He's spending Christmas Eve alone.
First Christmas away from home.

However sweet my morning, however, in the back of my mind I thought of friends of mine. Especially vivid were my thoughts of a close friend who writes "A Life of Blessings."

She is spending the first Christmas in a long time without her love. Her husband is serving his country, an ocean away. Today is especially taxing for her.

I imagine that the frustration of the day is compounded by our culture's strong disapproval of melancholy. What better day to be sad, and have a good cry, than Christmas when your husband is overseas?

So I hope she finds time and respite in the day to own the sorrow that she feels.

She's standing by the train station, panhandling for change
Four more dollars buys a decent meal and a room.
Looks like the Sally Ann place after all,
In a crowded sleeping hall that echoes like a tomb
But it's warm and clean and free and there are worse places to be,
And at least it means no beating from her Dad
And if she cries because it's Christmas Day
She hopes that it won't show...
First Christmas away from home.

There are many Christmas stories with a measure of sorrow mixed into them.

Yes, this is a day of joy.

Our Savior is born!

But it is also a chance to reflect, and to miss those that are away.

He was born so that he could die--for us.

In the apartment stands a tree, and it looks so small and bare
Not like it was meant to be
The Golden Angel on the top, it's not that same old silver star
You wanted for your own
First Christmas away from home.

So I hope that as you continue through your busy holiday, you find a small opportunity for peace. Some quiet moment will offer itself to you and I hope you take it and send a prayer to heaven for those seperated from loved ones, from family, or from the basic necessities--a warm bed or a hot meal.

In the morning, they get prayers, then it's Crafts and tea downstairs
Then another meal back in his little room
Hoping maybe that "the boys" will think to phone before the day is gone
Well, it's best they do it soon.
When the "old girl" passed away, he fell more apart each day
Each had always kept the other pretty well
But the kids all said the nursing home was best
'Cause he couldn't live alone...
First Christmas away from home.

I have no passionate words of warning. I come bearing no encouragement that you feed a hungry child or clothe a homeless man.

I only hope that you will find a moment--even if it is no greater than the span of a single, solitary breath--in which you can hear the heartbeat of the world and think far beyond the borders of yourself, and embrace the heartache and love and passion and sorrow around you.

May God bless and keep you all throughout the season ahead.

In the Common Room they've got the biggest tree
And it's huge and cold and lifeless,
Not like it ought to be
And the lit-up flashing Santa Claus on top
It's not that same old silver star you once made for your own
First Christmas away from home.

Stan Rogers - First Christmas

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Scoring at the end of the first quarter.

Well, as we wrap up the first quarter, let's review the play thus far.

In the opening volley, Patrick signs his name countless times, moves in two scant days with the help of close teammates Gilly, Cole, Habit, Mr. Smith, Jersey #80 and The Only Man Who Can Like a Mexican Can, and is completely inhabiting his new home in less than 48 hours!

Score: Team Patrick 1, House 0.

Patrick knew about a few existing problems that gave the house a home-team advantage however, a non-functioning master bedroom sink, paint in need of updating, and wallpaper that needed to come down.

Unable to solve the problems at his sink immediately, he turned his eye to the dining room wallpaper. The house rebuffed him--the stuff was bonded, strongly, to plaster.

House 2, Team Patrick 1.

Having made strong choices about the second bedroom, Patrick benched himself in favor of a smaller, more detail oriented player on his team--Habit swept in and covered the room with a flurry of strokes, resulting in a strong, appealing room ready for the move in of Patrick's season draft pick--Gilly. While this was going on Patrick placed most of his furniture and unpacked.

He also managed to defeat House's strong sealed-windows attack, in which the windows in the second bedroom were painted shut from the inside, caulked shut from the outside, and NAILED IN PLACE. This particular back and forth lasted a few days, but since the damage done to the windows during the fight means Patrick will have to repaint them in the near future, there was no clear score here.

Also, unphased by the red handprints and terrifying howl of House's dryer, Patrick weathered the intimidation play ("I'm haunted!") by Team House early in the first month.

Team Patrick 3, House 2.

Soon Patrick had acquired dining room furniture and a living room set, ignoring House's frustrating refusal to give up and let water run freely in the master bathroom.

House retaliated by developing a roach problem!

Team Patrick 4, House 3.

House launched a second surprise attack as well--yes, it may have come with a garbage disposal, but it didn't work! Tough times for team Patrick!

Patrick struck back on the first count with roach traps and the problem abated, but the attack was still pressed strong and any experienced player in the southern conference knows that the second quarter of the next season will bring another round on that front!

Team Patrick 4, House 4.

In order the regain the lead, Patrick went back to his roots and received advice from the coach of his old team--Team Phil, where he had trained extensively in long rivalry against childhood home (current score in that match is Team Phil finally pulling ahead with a lead of 11,487 to 9,891 over Childhood home). Team Phil told Patrick that the house's playbook included a few old tricks--including a simple sediment-in-the-aerator play that was blocking his sink!

Upon returning home, Patrick had fixed the sink's flow problems in five minutes flat. However, House struck back immediately, springing a leak in one of the sink's valves as soon as the aerator was unblocked!

Team Patrick 5, House 5.

Patrick regrouped his forces, and enlisted a hardware store to supply some necessarry tools and a new valve. The following week, house's counterattack had been properly stopped up. House attempted a weak second try with a slow leak, but this was easily solved with a small tupperware container and patience. The leak began to wane to nothing within a few days.

Team Patrick 6, House 5.

The following week, Patrick ordered and installed a new garbage disposal, enlisting occasional assists from teammate Gilly, and the new disposal works remarkably well.

And so we come to the holiday break, a few weeks of hopeful respite between these two fine competitors. The score sits at 7 to 5, Team Patrick ahead. But don't worry, there's plenty of winter left ahead, and everyone knows that House probably has a few more tricks up it's sleeves! We'll see what winter brings!

Thursday, December 18, 2008