Sunday, October 07, 2012

Trucker Hats and Rodeos...

I had just pulled into the parking lot of Grand Central Bakery to grab a Saturday morning breakfast for the family when my phone rang. It was my dad. "Hey Dad.""Hey." He pauses. "Grandpa Davis passed away this morning." We both pause letting those words settle. This is the first time I've had to hear those words. Had to deal with those words. I've been fortunate to have gone 31 years without facing the death of a family member. His passing this weekend was somewhat unexpected. His health took a dive during the week and he just couldn't recover this time.

I will deeply miss my grandpa. I will remember him for being a quiet man but present. Always in his easy chair as the grandkids tumbled around his feet in the den. I will remember him as providing well for his family. Not extravagantly or excessively (crumb cake is by no means excessive). But well. Affording opportunities for good memories. There were sleds when it snowed. Pool tables and ping pong. My Grandpa was one of those guys who was good around the house. Crafty. Always knowing how to fix things. My own dad is extremely patient, hard working, and resourceful. I think I know where he gets it from.

I remember his quick wit and trying to keep up with him and my uncles. All self-proclaimed "King of the Puns."

I will remember his love of the rodeo, his western shirts and bolo ties. He would tape rodeos and re-watch them again. And for the first time now as I type this I wonder if he ever dreamed of getting out of North Jersey and becoming a real cowboy.

I remember seeing him laugh so hard when a cousin got flubber for Christmas. Turns out that stuff makes the best fart noises. I remember his trucker hats, those polo shirts and polyester pants, and watching his belly shake when he chuckled. Velcro shoes and that comb always in his back pocket.

I remember fishing in the bay at Strathmere. And that one time we caught a small shark. He was our boat captain. Our lifeguard at the beach. Our chauffeur in the brown station wagon.

I wish I knew more about him and his life before I was born. My dad mentioned once that my Grandpa used to brew his own beer down in the basement. Maybe I get that from him.

He raised four great kids and was there for a dozen plus grandkids. My dad is extremely patient, hard working, and resourceful. I think I know where he gets it from.

It's bittersweet. Although his health was poor in the final years of his life it is never easy to say goodbye. My heat breaks for the ones who are left behind. Especially for my gramdma. I'm praying for peace and comfort in this time.

Thank you Grandpa for sharing your life with us. I love you and will miss you always.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

I've been putting this off for some time now. I just haven't felt ready. Haven't felt sure. I've been afraid that what I might discover will change me. Challenge me. Even now I don't want to give it much of a voice. Just the thoughts splashing through my mind are hard enough to swim across. I'm often the dreamer. I'm often excitable. And dare I say, in desperate need of adventure. I've been at the edge of the cliff for a while now staring at the blue waters below. Watching others dive off. Back flips. Front flips. Spectacular flips. Splash! I can't do what they do. But can I? Maybe? I've never done a back flip before. Why? No one has ever told me I couldn't. So why haven't I tried? 

This book has been sitting on my shelf for some time now. A book I'm afraid will make me want to try a back flip. I'll take the book down. Thumb through the pages. And place it back on the shelf. This has been the scenario for the past couple years. "Not yet" I think to myself. I'm not ready. 

But now the repetition is wearing.

I'll pull this book off the shelf again. Sometime soon. Sometime this year. And I won't be thumbing through the pages like before. I'll be pouring over them with complete engrossment. I'm ready. I think. YES! I'm ready.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I have a fear with my new bike.  Not my general "get hit by a car door" fear but one very specific to my bike. You see, my current bike has a coaster brake much like the beach cruisers you can rent at the boardwalks iinstead of the more common lever brakes. I just simply need to backpedal to engage the brakes. Pretty simple and it didn't take me long to get used to. So what is my fear? Well, this coaster brake is my only way of stopping which means if the chain for what ever reason decides to skip off the sprocket I would be at the mercy of friction and gravity to stop me. Well my worst fear came to pass yesterday afternoon.

I should have seen it coming. I remember looking at my bike two night before and thinking that the chain was looking a little loose. "I should probably tighten that up soon." There is a stretch of road on my commute to work that is loaded with cracks and bumps. It's pretty jarring. I remember thinking that if my chain where to ever skip off the sprocket this would be the spot. I could have almost predicted what happened next. With the cards stacking up it was only a matter of time.

It was a sunny afternoon. The morning clouds finally burned away. I was heading home after a long day of work. Riding up hill past the mid-century ranch homes with the well manicured lawns. Past the smell of the soccer field that rushes me back to the many hours I spent passing, shooting, dribbling. Past the max train and car lots. Golf course and the smell of bbq chicken on the grill. Over the freeway and into the mt. tabor neighborhood. I'm more than half of the way home. Feeling good. Maybe a little hungry. I get to that hill. The one mentioned before and begin my decent. I'm not more than a quarter of the way down when it happens. The chain skips. The pedals moving freely. I'm now cruising down this hill without brakes. Gaining speed. I tried to slow the wheels with the bottom of my shoe but I am moving too fast now. I try to turn down a side street to level out but again I'm too fast for a safe turn. I decide to bail. I look for a soft spot. 3-2-1 JUMP!

I'm sitting on the sidewalk now. I biker passing by asks if I'm ok. "Yes, I think" I have more rosemary on me than a roasted chicken. I stand up. Dust myself off. A man walking up the sidewalk inquires of my health. Again I say I'm fine. He says I am in shock. I reach down to pick up my bike and blood begins to pool in my hand. My elbow is bleeding pretty bad. Thankfully I packed a bandanna. I wrap my arm and evaluate the rest of my body. Everything else seems to be in place. Just the elbow. The man, Peter, offers to drive me home. I humbly accept.

It could have been worse. I'm fortunate it wasn't. Just need to nurse this cut on my arm. Needless to say I will be swapping out my coaster brake for something more traditional very soon.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I keep staring at this blog. Hoping it would write itself. Wondeing why I've let it collect so much dust. Am I more introverted now? Has it been a struggle of writing for myself vs. writing for an cyber audience. Or just uninspired.
In 2004 I had 110 posts. This year I have five. I can't image I had any less time then than I do now. What did I write in 2004?
My sister just posted a "test" post after stepping away from the blog for a bit. I've done those before. I may be doing one of those right now.

I've been thinking about Texas. About family. Especially now with all the little additions.

I've been thinking about life here in Portland. And how long I will be at my new job.

I've been thinking about my intentions. And whether they are in sync with my wife's.

I've been thinking about the subtle tension of whether to continue to pursue a life in Portland or find a place closer to family.

This is the ongoing conversion I have in my head. And it's dificult for me.

You see I really like it here in Portland. I would love to raise a kid here.
Take him camping.
Show him snow.
Ride bikes to food carts.
Feed the homeless.
Walk to parks.
Go on hikes.
We have an amazing church here. And we are slowly building a community. I just got an incredible job this Spring after graduating in Decemeber. Our lease is up in November and sometimes I daydream about buying a home here.

I know we are far from family but part of me wants to do the whole "big trip" to Grandparents for the holidays. I did that growing up and loved it. The trips just seemed much more special that way. It was something I would really look forward to.

But somedays I wonder if I am just trying to live out my own adventure at the cost of others.
Somedays I feel alone. Somedays I feel like I'm being selfish.

What scares me about moving back to Texas?
I'm scared the time we spend with family now would not be as intentional. As focused. As rich. I know this is probably not true at all. Most likely the opposite. But sometimes I think that.
I'm scared of urban sprawl. Of a two car dependency. Of gas prices and not being able to bike to work.
I'm scared we won't find a church like Imago.
I'm scared the parks won't be as pretty.
I'm scared I won't be able to walk to the grocery store.
I'm scared I'll never go fishing in Alaska again.
I'm scared to try to make new friends again. (I'm kind of a slow mover)
I'm scared of the job search. (not that I am even looking right now)
I'm scared of a lot of things. I really need to let it go. I need to pray about it. Most of these fears are fleeting. They come and go. And some carry more weight than others.

I'd like to get a few years in at my new job. Then maybe we can talk about this again.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Five Stars

So I'm a bachelor for a long six days. Is it really only Thursday? The only benefit... that's not the right word, difference, to Mish being away is that I get explore meal options that I might not be able to if I where cooking for two. Tonight's menu comes from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution cookbook. Italian pan seared tuna with a tomato and olive salad. Yum.

Lone Star State of Mind

She gave me her "sparkly eyes" today. An embrace. An "I love you." We parted ways and I watched her through the glass hustle off to the winding labyrinth made of nylon rope barriers. She is so beautiful. Breathtaking. She gives me pause and I can't help but stare at her. I love her.

Today my Mish is heading to Texas, our roots. I tried to be as honest as possible without being overbearing when I told her not to fall in love with Texas. I fear the odds are against me right now. She'll be with family. It's a rumored 80 degrees. A baby shower is being thrown in her honor. Old friends will show support. And naturally, there will be plenty of Chick'fil'A. It's not looking good.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chasing Donald Miller

or how I am learning to live a better story...

Back in 2003 I read a book entitled Blue Like Jazz which was impossible to put down, and seemed to put to words my scattered thoughts on spirituality and christianity. It resonated with many people and helped create a certain vocabulary for a generation struggling to identify with their predecessors beliefs. I was on board. Soon afterward I picked up another book by the same author entitled Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance which has since been re-released under the new title Through Painted Deserts. Donald Miller tells the story of his road trip from Texas to Oregon with a friend and a VW van. A year later his story would be my wife and I's story as we packed up our Honda Element with all that we owned, departed Dallas, and drove to Portland via the Grand Canyon and California. Although I didn't reflect on the Book of Ecclesiastes like Donald did, I do remember sharing in his experience while standing at the edge of the canyon or driving the long, endless stretch of highway through the desert. I tried to picture what the highway would have been like for those traveling the old route 66. Despite much of the modern development along the road I still found time to feel like I was a pioneer.

We've been in Portland for over 4 years now. We have a great community, friends, and church. We are loving the accessibility and affordability of this city, along with being within hours of the coast or mountains. We've felt like we have been on an endless vacation.

But lately that feeling has been fading as I've been reflecting on the past 4 years we have spent in Portland. I've been struggling with the thoughts that my life here has not had much meaning or purpose. Not in a suicidal sort of way, but in a way that has not had much of a positive impact on those around me. Sure I've gotten to do some amazing things like commercial salmon fishing in Alaska or finish a second degree. I think I've just been so focused on building something for myself that I haven't spent much time looking at the need around me. I've really struggled lately to see God in my daily life. I feel right now like I am striving for something but I'm not sure what. Just taking life as it comes to me. Floating.

I just finished Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and now find myself challenged to live a better story. He once again put to words what I currently find myself mentally wrestling with. I am encouraged to identify what it is I want to do and overcome obstacles to get there. To reflect on what would make a better story if I were ever asked to retell it. I am inspired and motivated to not simply take life as it comes to me, but to intentionally make daily decisions that bring life. Thank you Don for your words and transparency. I appreciate you.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

2011 Reading List

Not the most interesting post, but I've been doing this for the past couple years as a way to archive what I've read. 2011 started strong but lost traction over the summer and basically stopped during the Fall when school, work, and an internship consumed all my waking hours. So here is the list of what I managed to get through.

East of Eden: John Steinbeck
Finding My Way Home: Henri Nouwen
Poetics of Space: Gaston Bachelard
Architecture Depends: Jeremy Till
The Humane Metropolis: Rutherford Platt
The World is Flat: Thomas L. Friedman
All the Pretty Horses: Cormac McCarthy
One Thousand Gifts: Ann Voskamp
The Expectant Father: Armin Brott
Game of Thrones: George R. R. Martin
When Helping Hurts: Steve Corbett