Friday, 20 April 2007
Since my last update, it has been nearly 4 months and I have sent nearly 300 other e-mails along the way. I was thinking about how I do my updates, and seeing as 4 months is a long time, there is a lot to say, right? So really, if I was you, what would I want to know, and could I condense that into 500 words or less if I had to (if you don’t count the previous 70+ words, or any of the words in this paragraph, for that matter)? I thought I could, so I decided I would give a highlight reel for everyone as well as the usual amount of detail for those who “enjoy” it that way (there are such people? some ask… yes, there are). However, I decided to go with the full shebang first, with the “abstract,” if you will, to follow. As always, let me know if you want off the list, and enjoy!
So my first few weeks of the new year were mainly spent readjusting to being back in Milwaukee and back to work after being away from the city for over a week and work for two. I started writing a journal shortly after my return and have kept up with it pretty regularly. You don’t have to worry about anything being pulled from it, but it has helpful to refer to in terms of what happened when (as is my “Men of Mowana” calendar I use to mark important dates on my schedule), and it also is useful in helping me gain ideas for other topics I might write on. As for actual “doing,” I was finally able to build a snowman on the 21st, which I had tried to do the two previous big snowfalls to no avail, but on that Sunday after church, the snow was perfect. I didn’t have the standard carrot or charcoal, but I instead used candles for eyes, an Elmo (conical) birthday hat, and my “rainbow” cape from Mowana as decorations.
After a pretty relaxing first few weeks back, the last weekend of January for me was pretty insane. First off, I decided to participate on in an anti-racism training the ELCA Milwaukee Synod held Thursday evening and all day Friday and Saturday. It was definitely intense, both in time commitment and in subject matter, but I definitely learned a lot and felt a bit of a calling to work in some kind of anti-racism work, possibly through my profession (whenever I find out what that might be), so that will be on my mind as I continue to move forward. Not only did I spend a lot of time with that (I actually biked there, in the winter, though it was only about a 25-minute ride each way), I also attended two parties that weekend, with one in Chicago! Friday night our house decided to have a bit of a bash for basically anyone in town we could think of to invite. We used snow to keep the “beverages” cold, actually, which was kind of novel, and it was really a lot of fun, even though I had to get up early for the training Saturday. It was kind of intimate with the smaller crowd, but that was good for me. The Saturday event I had planned on going to, but I had decided to do the training somewhat last minute, and my bus ticket to Chicago was for 3, but I got to the bus terminal at 6 in the hopes they would take me then, and the driver did! It was a “regional” LVC party, with mostly Chicago people and their friends but also the three MKE boys and a few people from the Twin Cities, too. I mostly hung out and chatted with people I knew, but it was fun to be able to hang out in Chi-town with very cool people. It was an exhausting weekend, to be sure, but it was totally worth it.
Is that too short? Well, It’s a whole month, and I’m ending there for now, giving you a little warm-up, I guess, because next time will be a bit longer. To stick with the website suggestions (because, really, there are so many great places/things you should be checking out on the Internet), I’m sending an op-ed piece from Friday’s Milwaukee paper. It talks about the tragedy of Monday, but also the tragedies of every day that we (sometimes, often, always?) overlook. I thought it was pretty interesting.
Enjoy your weekend! Catch you on the flip side!
Monday, 23 April 2007
The start of February saw the start of something totally off-the-wall, but totally exciting and awesome: curling. That’s right, curling: that game they play on ice with the rocks that kind of looks like shuffle board. I won’t get into all the details (like that the ice actually has little ridges, unlike skating ice) – you can explore those on your own – but for basically 6 Mondays, similar to a bowling league, and one Saturday morning, I hung out with some guys I hadn’t met before but got to know better and “curled.” It was tons of fun, and I kind of hope that I’ll live somewhere next where curling is available to me. Plus, I figure it’s pretty much my last (and maybe only ever) chance to make it to the Olympics, so I really should get on the ball now.
I actually heard about curling while I was on the way to a hockey game I got a free ticket to on a Sunday afternoon mid-January. I had just talked curling the day before with someone and realized the people in my car were discussing curling, as they were in a club (the one I eventually joined) and told me about an open house for the following Saturday, which I attended, and I subsequently signed up. Speaking of hockey, I went to my second hockey game in early February with my housemates and some guests and went to a third in early March, as well. Early February was insanely cold here, and MPS (and thus my school) cancelled two days of school, though we probably should have gone at least one day, if not both, but I won’t argue with a few days off, especially since we seemingly won’t have to make them up!
My second and third weekends of Feb were pretty busy, too. During weekend 2, I trekked down to Chicago, namely for a Northwestern basketball game (which they actually won!), but the added bonus (and the real reason, we all know, for going) was being able to see and catch up with 3 friends during my stay. It was a quick weekend, as I arrived Friday evening and left Sunday noon, but I love visiting and catching up with people (as my Spring Break will show…), so it was well worth the time and travel.
The third weekend included President’s Day, which I also got “off,” though it was technically a “work” day for teachers, but that mainly meant doing some HW grading @ home. However, over the weekend, from Friday evening until Sunday evening I was hanging out with my visiting parents, and I must say, we packed our weekend about as full as you could get it., but as it’ll likely be their only visit during my time here, I figured I better show them as much as I could. Friday night we went out to eat (Mexican) and went to see my housemate Erick and one of his friends do a coffeehouse guitar show, which was very rad. Saturday morning I… got my haircut! Yes, I decided to get a bit of a “trim,” though it was still kind of shaggy, and it currently is about as long as it was in December, so she didn’t take off too much. It was, though, possibly the last time I ever pay someone to cut my hair, as I figure someone I know could probably do a fine job and I really wouldn’t care too much about it. In fact, maybe next time I’ll even cut my own hair!
After the haircut, we went to a little indoor grocery called the Public Market for a bit. Then we headed to a great second-hand bookstore before eating Greek for lunch, seeing a movie, getting custard (a Milwaukee/Wisconsin must), and going shopping for a few things for the house and dinner we were planning to cook Sunday. We had Saturday dinner @ Denny’s (not MKE, I know, but we were pretty exhausted and it was right next to my parents’ hotel). Sunday morning was church, which featured the gospel choir (a main reason they came that weekend), and after eating our packed lunch next door where I teach, thus giving a tour at the same time, we headed to all of our first indoor soccer game. After the game we went to the house and cooked dinner for us and the two other housemates who were around that evening. Then it was time to say goodbye.
And now it’s time for me to say goodbye on this e-mail. Today’s Internet installment takes you back to Sunday, when you hopefully celebrated Earth Day! I wouldn’t normally quote the RedEye, but I was forwarded a nice article from there last week that I wanted to pass on to you about ways to “be green.”
In addition, I’d recommend seeing “An Inconvenient Truth” if you haven’t yet, and going to http://www.climatecrisis.net/ for more ways to make a difference! Have a great week.
Wednesday, 25 April 2007
So we’re already to March, are we? Well, the first few days I had a special visitor who I happened to be dating @ the time (that’s all you get in this generalized update), and we did a lot. In addition to the aforementioned hockey game, we were able to get into the Art Museum for free by knowing someone (through one of my housemates) who works there. It was my first time there, and will likely be my only time there during my year here, actually. They have a very nice collection if you’re visiting (me) or the city sometime, even for someone who’s been to the Art Institute in Chicago on multiple occasions. That next weekend was pretty light, though Sunday was a full day, I guess. Our choir went to sing @ this church about 30 minutes outside the city that reminded me of the kind of small churches in rural NW Ohio I’m familiar with. It was pretty tiny, holding about 60 of them and 20 of us in the choir, but it was tons of fun. That evening there was an LVC fundraising open mic which we all attended and shared our stories at.
Then it was once again time for an LVC retreat! We have three throughout the year, and this was our second and last located @ a Bible camp in Western WI. There weren’t as many structured events in the schedule, but it was lots of fun for me, once again. There were a few competitions, though, for the houses to participate in. The night we arrived we played “The Newly Community Game,” (you can guess what it was a play on), and our house did pretty well, based on our scoring, at least. There was also a desert competition, which was delicious(!), and a lip sync contest. Our house was a bit of a slacker for this, though we at least did something (no everyone did); it was just like our house to do it the way we did, specifically an instrumental song where we just did random motions to.
While we were there, we had a day devoted to anti-racism training (very similar to information I had obtained in my January training), which was again nice to hear, but a fun thing about it was that two former LVCers now living in the Twin Cities came to help facilitate, one being a good friend of mine from early camp days. It was fun to hang out with her and her roommate (who I had met last Spring when I visited them), and the two of them, Aaron, and I had a long conversation in the sauna on St. Pattie’s Day. The stars were great while we were there, too, with even less light pollution than Mansfield, OH, but making me wish I could be heading to Mowana for more than the week I plan to volunteer this summer.
Perhaps the highlight for me, though, of the retreat was something we called (I think I’m remembering the name correctly) “sock wrestling.” There were really no rules, simply the object of the game, which was to be the last one who still had at least one sock on (we all stated with two). It was pretty physical, which isn’t something I’m used to, but I enjoyed wrestling like my brother and I did when we were much younger. That bit of physical aggression/activity got me rethinking about another kind of physical activity I had been pondering for a few months: rugby. Rugby you say? Yes, rugby. And in the past month or so that I’ve been learning and practicing on a semi-regular basis, I’ve really had a lot of fun. A sport as physical as rugby itself and the “socializing” that goes along with it are definitely not things I have experienced before, but I’ve really been enjoying my time as a “rugger” thus far. There are 1 or 2 more Saturdays I’ll be able to play a game, and I’m not sure if I’ll continue on with it once I leave Milwaukee, but I’m definitely glad I’ve decided to learn more about the sport and try it out. It makes me think I can pretty much have fun playing any sport. Bring on cricket!
I guess that’s about it for March! Let’s do this again sometime. Maybe I’ll mention what’s been happening in April next time? But before we get into that, check out this nice segment about faith from the NPR program “This I Believe.” No matter your current position of faith or lack of faith, I think it will help you think a little bit about why you’re where you are and where you might be going.
The text is there, too, but I suggesting clicking “listen” if you’re able to get the audio.
Friday, 27 April 2007
Well, even though April isn’t quite over yet (just a few more days!), my month has been pretty full thus far. There was no good first of April foolery this year, though there rarely is with me, but maybe I’ll hit my stride one of these years… The first few days were simply spent pretty much preparing to head out of town on Maundy Thursday to start my Spring Break! (One of the great bonuses of teaching is still getting a S.B. post-college.) I headed to Chicago that evening and had dinner with a few church friends before attending church where I did the last few years. I hung around until midnight, at which point I loaded up on the Megabus (the only way I can travel so much making what I do!) for the “redeye” to Toledo, which arrived about 5AM Eastern time. My parents picked me up, and upon arriving at their house, I quickly went to bed again. I didn’t actually get out of bed until noon (which I thought was 11 because that’s what my clock said), but I think for various reasons I can argue that it didn’t count as sleeping ‘til noon, which I’ve claimed will never happen again, but think what you will. I was treated to the best of Wauseon and Toledo Friday through Sunday afternoon. I think we had tacos Friday night, and I do remember we went out for seafood Saturday evening. I watched about 6 episodes of Sports Night (a TV show back from 1998—2000) while I was home with Adam, and actually ended up watching all of season 2 during my time off. I did two Easter services, one in town and one where my Dad finished his interim work (now he has two half-time chaplain jobs @ 2 Toledo hospitals, making one whole) before Easter dinner and starting the rest of my traveling.
Here’s a non-chronological paragraph (for the most part). So, as it stands now, I suppose you could say I’m no longer a vegetarian. I could give lots of little anecdotes about my decision and subsequent instances of eating meat (like this past Sunday, when I had spaghetti with ground beef included, though the ground beef was NOT appetizing), but I’ll try to be brief for your reading pleasure. I’ve for a long time felt comfortable with eating family farmed meat in small quantities, like holidays and such, and I’ve now decided that I am also comfortable eating meat on other instances, but still want to eat it infrequently. I think I’ll continue to eat vegetarian when I cook and eat at home and for the most part when I eat out at restaurants, but when I go to receptions or dinners and am served meat, I’ll be hospitable and eat what is being served. I still see eating little meat as an important thing to me, and I’ll always appreciate and accept vegetarian options, but I’m opening myself up more than I have these past 3+ years. That being said, we had these great local steaks for Easter dinner. What a great way to celebrate the risen Lord!
So what did “the rest of my traveling” entail, you ask? Well, I borrowed one of my parents’ cars and first took Adam back to Athens in SE Ohio. I got to see where he’s living this (and next) year and their new student center — pretty swanky. I stayed the night and hit the road for SW Ohio, namely Cincinnati. First, though, I stopped in the northern suburb of West Chester to visit my summer camp host family (or the mom and son, at least) from summer 2005. We chatted and had lunch; it was good to catch up with them and share a few of my experiences. It was actually my second visit to them (if you don’t count my return to their church in summer 2006), since the friend I went to visit next lives only about 10 minutes from their place. Around 2 (this is Monday still) I met up with Amanda, a H.S. friend, who lives just north of Cincy. (I realized I should limit details about this trip or it will get way too long…). Tuesday we ended up going to the Cincy Art Museum, which was a bit underwhelming after Milwaukee and Chicago, but what can you do?
That evening I headed to Oxford, still in SW Ohio, to visit the campus of Miami University. I had dinner with Jason, another friend from H.S. days, and his gf, then hung out with some people I know through Jason, and then went to Evan’s house, the final one of the four of us (A, J, E, and me) who hung out frequently during the 1999-2000 high school year. We caught up (and watched a little Sports Night, as I had also done with Amanda) and chatted about our futures, both still up in the air. I stayed @ his place that evening and in the morning took off to Springfield, what I’d call Central Ohio, to the campus of Wittenberg University, to have lunch with a camp friend before heading back to NW Ohio and my parents’ place (this is Wednesday — all that before Wednesday, you say? I know, right?) until about 6.
What happened after 6? Well, I recognize this e-mail has already reached conclusion length, so I’ll let that be the cliffhanger. Until then, and since it’s the weekend (though, in all likelihood, a good number of you are probably studying for finals, actually, thinking of who all I send this to these days…), I thought I’d give you a little bit more to read (and procrastinate with). So without saying too much, this grad student decided to do an experience by giving up for a month everything that has been created since 1950. Thus no cell phones, e-mail, computers, cable TV (she actually gave up TV completely, but cheated for three hours). How would you do? Well, I think it would be a fun challenge, and you can read about her experiences in her blog (which I’m assuming she did afterward, though she probably took notes during the process on good old pencil and paper) here:
Day 1 gives an overall description, and the other days deal with specific items. Maybe it will help you, or give you good reason, to simplify your life, too!
Until my final one next time (including the “abstract”),
Monday, 30 April 2007
So, where was I? I was in Wauseon (NW Ohio) @ 6PM on 11 Apr 2007. From there, my Mom drove me (in some rain) to South Bend, IN, where I caught the late night commuter train to (south) Chicago, arriving around 10 Chicago time. I stayed with a friend in grad school @ UChicago, running the next morning before my bus trip back to Milwaukee (Thursday). I arrived, quickly caught a city bus to the house, where I met Aaron, and we made our way as fast as we could to Miller Park, where we arrived at the top of the third inning of the Indians/Angels game that happened to be playing that day. You may have heard about the Easter snow Cleveland received, which cancelled their games all that weekend and forced them to move three games to Milwaukee. All tickets were $10, and this, coupled with my quick action when I heard about it while in Cincy, I had the best seats I’ve ever had for a major league game, about 7 rows almost perfectly behind home place. I’m really drawing a blank as to my actions that Friday, but Saturday was a rugby day and Sunday morning included choir singing.
That next week (week before last) was my first week back, and it was actually a pretty nice one, moving pretty quickly, as all my time lately has seemed to move. Last week was good, too, with Wednesday all the non-seniors away on a trip, granting us a bit of a little break, and as it stands now, we only have four weeks of class remaining! Last weekend I went to a half price Brewers game Friday night (though the seats were nothing close to what I had had a week earlier, but it was still tons of fun), did a little Earth Day clean-up Saturday morning, and sang @ an event Saturday night and another one Sunday afternoon.
A few other things: there is this little free paper here called the MKE, and way back in March sometime, I did my first mini-movie review for it. (It’s called a “Threeview, as three people do them each week). I saw “Reign Over Me,” which was pretty OK, though not amazing. Hopefully I’ll be able to review a few more before I head out. Also, I’m currently starting to apply for some positions to occupy my time after this is all over. Aside from film and writing possibilities, I’m looking into a position with LVC called a “short-term recruiter.” This person basically does a 4-6-week long recruiting trip, and I’m applying for the “Great Lakes” one, which does OH, IN, MI, IL, and part of WI. Rugby is over soon, and I hope to get involved somehow with volleyball or ultimate frisbee now that it’s getting nice, and definitely take some long bike rides, and maybe run on the lake after work when it doesn’t rain. I’m also thinking of signing up for the Chicago marathon, though I want to be sure I can do it with whatever job I’d have in early October.
I’m still @ the same address (5511 W. Lloyd St., Milwaukee, 53208 until 10 August, unless you hear otherwise) and would love as many visitors and pieces of mail as I can get! As always, I’d love to hear from you, so please share a bit about your status and plans if you are able/want to.
And for the website (probably for the younger among you), have you viewed any StrongBad e-mails lately? I know I haven’t! http://www.homestarrunner.com/
Until the next update (near the end of the summer would be my guess, when I’ll at least have a new address and/or job to tell you about!), don’t let this be too one-sided, eh? God Bless.
MINI UPDATE (for the… well, people who didn’t want to read all the “details,” though this is just the nitty gritty and probably a bit boring, actually).
In January, I participated in an anti-racism training the same weekend we had a house party here and I went to an LVC regional party in Chicago. Also, I started curling, which I did for about 6 weeks in Jan. and Feb. I went to three hockey games here and one Northwestern basketball game in Evanston (and they actually won!). We had two days of school cancelled because it was “too cold.” Go figure! My parents visited mid February, and I took them to all the hot spots (well, a few of them, at least), including church, where they got to see me sing. I actually got a hair trim then, too, but it’s about back to December length currently. Early March I had another visitor, and I got to go to the Art Museum during that visit. It’s really a nice one! Mid-March brought the “Winter” LVC retreat, which was a lot of fun. Our house performed a lip sync to an instrumental song, which was fun, and I participated in “sock wresting” (description above). It got my blood flowing, and I decided to get a little aggressive and check out rugby. I’m doing that on Thursdays and Saturdays for the next few weeks, and they maybe frisbee or volleyball (along with biking, I’m sure) this summer. My Spring Break began the afternoon of Maundy Thursday and went until the Monday after the Monday after Easter. I not only stopped in Chicago M.T. evening, but I was @ my family for 2+ days and then traversed Ohio by going to Athens (SE), Cincy and Oxford (SW), and Springfield (Central) to take my brother back to college and visit friends before coming back to MKE and heading to an Indians/Angels baseball game. (I can’t explain everything and keep it brief, you know :), but I will say I’m not a strict vegetarian any more, but for more details, look @ Friday’s middle paragraph). I went to a Brewers game last week, too, and had a few choir events. I’m looking @ jobs for August related to film and writing and one that recruits future LVCers. I’m still @ the same address (5511 W. Lloyd St., Milwaukee, 53208 until 10 August, unless you hear otherwise) and would love as many visitors and pieces of mail as I can get! As always, I’d love to hear from you, so please share a bit about your status and plans if you are able/want to.
If you read the short one and liked it, I’m actually kind of sorry, because I really didn’t put much effort into it. No style, which is what really makes it interesting and worth it anyway, if you ask me. Joe Friday might have liked it though (are you up on your “pop” culture references?). That’s my 500 words, exactly! God Bless!