Saturday, November 10, 2012

Last Night at the Guest's

So here's a funny story that speaks to the craziness of having three kids and owning a home and probably divine intervention:

Last night, about 10pm, Jen and I notice our 18-month-old furnace is acting strangely. We go downstairs to investigate. We immediately smell gas. Call the gas company. We have to evacuate the house. At 10:15pm. This means waking, dressing warmly (35 degree temps), and putting three kids in the car and sitting down the road to wait for the gas man. He comes with a voice like a megaphone. After an hour it's safe to re-enter the house. Turns out the 3yr old stove, that I had used a couple hours before to cook a quiche, is leaking gas like a deflating pool.

Of course, it's an old house, so the gas man and I have to disassemble the basement to get to the gas meter (long story abt previous owners poor remodeling decisions; seriously, who covers the gas meter with a built in bookshelf?). The gas meter is also leaking gas so it needs to be replaced. At midnight. And this man is not quiet either. So he bangs in a new meter. Kids wide awake upstairs. Anyway, he gets it in and turns the gas on and starts rechecking appliances.

Checks the hot water heater first. It's as old as me and so it's, of course it's not up to code (missing a cheap piece of plastic piping it's never had in the 5+ years we've lived here) so he can't legally light it for us. The stove also has to remain off and in need of a repair man. Next comes the furnace. It's getting gas, but it's not staying on. Keeps cycling. Can't figure it out. So he has to keep it off too. He leaves about 1:30am. And we get everyone back to sleep.

So after a short night without heat and a morning temporarily without hot water (new heater on the way; old one took me an hour to re-light because of crappy pipes and air problems. It's also totally safe to be in operation for a few days per the off-the-record opinion of the gas man so no one need freak over that right now) I get ahold of the furnace guy to come check. Meanwhile we've ordered a new hot water heater for Monday and got a stove repair man to come check the stove Monday too. Monday is gonna be awesome.

So the furnace guy comes this afternoon. Checks the machine. Runs diagnostics. The thing is getting gas. It's lighting but shutting off. Like a car engine that won't turn over. He can't figure it out. Brings in a new circuit board to test it out. After an hour of working on it with no luck, he walks the property. I mentioned we have three kids right? Well. Yes. One of them (LUCY) had moved our patio furniture in front of the vent yesterday afternoon when they were playing outside. This vent, when covered, causes the furnace to shut off. So that's all it was. It was Lucy's fault.

But the stove was leaking a lot of gas into the basement at the moment the furnace stopped working. So it's impossible not to be thankful. Kids work for you too. In fact, they pretty much always work for you (except maybe that time Isaac flooded the basement a year ago but even that forced an unknowingly pregnant-at-the-time Jen to organize and sort old baby clothes and saved us time later). We are all ok. The house is ok. The kids are ok. It was just that kind of night.

So yeah. Kids. They require a sense of humor. And, not a day goes by where I don't think it's the same kind of humor God has.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

It IS a Magical World

Let's be honest, this happened a while ago. But it's time. Follow me over there. It's been great being here and thanks for coming along. But...

Friday, July 16, 2010

My (365) Days With Lucy

It has been one year. And so I look back on those words I wrote one year ago to the day. It has been one year. One year. ONLY so many days and ONLY so many nights can be measured to have occurred since that day. And that feels un-right. Because what I have enjoyed in this past year has been moments covered in Cantor dust. The further down Lucy has ventured into my heart, burrowed as I hoped it would be 365 nights ago, the deeper yet she has been able to go. There has been no end to the joy she has uncovered in my heart, in my life. With her wide, sometimes goofy, sometimes heartbreakingly happy, sometimes startlingly sweet smile. With her apex of the sky blue sky eyes. Yes, these kinds of platitudes are expected. I figured them in last year at this time. It's part of what you come to expect the second time around. It's still awesome. It's still beyond words. It's Christmas morning. And you just gotta get up, you gotta get up, you gotta get up... It's Christmas morning.

But for all of the Cantor dust, with Lucy there has been that little bit of fairy dust too. Those moments that make you stop. Straight on halt you. For all of Lucy's trying to be like her brother in climbing stairs or by wrestling with daddy, she's got her own magic too. How she dances and claps to certain music and not to other music. Or like when I'm having a bad day or hour and my eyes meet hers and she will deliberately blink at me and smile and blink deliberately again. Always makes me laugh. Or when I find her in her room with several books open in front of her and she is pointing to the pictures. Or when you give her a stuffed animal and she looks at it and smiles and then cradles it under her neck and hugs it tightly. Or when the Mrs and I go away for five days and return with two particular gifts that we placed around her room and that now every morning when she gets up she has to touch these particular gifts. That's the fairy dust. Those are the happy thoughts that make you fly.

Last year I supposed it but it has come true. My chest has been ripped open and filled with treasures. And to borrow a phrase again, Don't ask me how I knew, it just was the first time I saw her.

*new videos on YouTube*

Monday, May 24, 2010

On My Final, LOST Thoughts

It was a superb end to a great, great show. Not the final ten minutes; the final episode. I have been on record as despising Sideways world but after the Finale, came to appreciate it for the moments of remembrance between the characters. Most notably Sun and Jin, Sawyer and Juliet. At the end of it all, it was those singular moments with the characters and their experiences of their characters that made the entire 6 seasons worth the investment. I've seen it numerous places, but concur with the thought that it was a fantastic 2 hours and 20 minutes followed by a head-scratching and hand-holding, light infused 10 minute miasma of fakeness. Though the final, literary motif ending with the dog and with Jack was apropos. And the Ben and Locke final scene together was powerful and moving as anything I've scene on the show. Just gut-wrenching good acting (seeing as how the last time they were together, one killed the other). And that Ben stayed behind... loved his character more than any other on the show. A very, very powerful character arc portrayal by Michael Emerson. He was astounding.

I'm at peace with the open-endedness of the finale. What happened to the final five on the plane that left the island? How did Penelope end up with Desmond (and where the HECK was their reunion iso) in the church? What became of the three on the island? Why was Jack still alive on the island for that final shot? Walt? Michael? It doesn't matter to me. Not one bit. Though there are a few floating theories that explain it and the more I've dwelled on the Sideways world being a temporary world for all the LOSTies to reunite, the more more is explained. So I'm on board with that.

The ending certainly reminded me of The Great Divorce with some choosing to stay behind in Sideways world. And, most notably, with characters coming to enlightment/awakenings by being touched by those whom they loved or experienced the events with, and that touch being shocking and painful and good. Very much The Great Divorce's idea there. It reeked of the best and worst of the relativistic branch of post-modernism ("Make your own rules" followed by Hurley giving everyone the chance to reunite).

But more profound was its attitude toward love. Toward forgiveness and loyalty and happiness and morality. And of sacrifice.

I would've preferred an ending like this:

Jack sacrifices himself in the pool of water and light. He dies at some point, much like he did. The other three get off the island or the island sinks and disappears. Sideways world happens because Jack wills it with his last breath even though in it Jack becomes the only one who can no longer remember the Island world. That was because he made the ultimate sacrifice: he died and remained lost so others could remember and move on. He then doomed to live out in the gray world, in sideways world, off the island. That would've been harder and more difficult and a more risky play from the show than they may have been willing to take. But would've been infinitely more profound. One character remains LOST. C'mon. How did they not think of that!

Anyway, I've thought about this all day and made updates to this post and I know that I'm not done thinking about it. And I miss that it's over. And for the Kumbaya moment at the end, I'm more okay with it now that I really do believe that Sideways world was a type of purgatory/gray world That it was timeless and existed when everyone had already died even though some escaped the island, and some didn't and that the island was very much a real place and the events were very much real events (the last shots of the wreckage not withstanding).

It was a great show and this was one of many ways for it to end and that it chose to end like this sits better with me the more I think about the characters and what I loved about the show -- and really, wasn't that the point?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

On Lost

If you've followed me on Twitter, it's been no secret that I love Lost. The Mrs. and I started watching it last summer and finished all five seasons in time for the start of season 6. Sometimes we watched three episodes a night. Once or twice maybe four episodes. Sometimes up till 1 in the morning watching this show. I've maybe not as much invested as those who've toiled for six actual years, but I've got a lot invested in this story. In it's characters and ideas. So to say season 6 has been a disappointment is being nice.

I'm okay with the Sideways world plot-line. My only complaint has been it has sucked momentum out of the Island plot-lines. The cutting back and forth has pulled us as viewers too thin. Too much guess work to see connections between the Sideways stories and Island action. Where cut-a-ways before helped with character arcs within the plot, here they dilute the plot itself. It would have been a better strategy to just concurrently run the Sideways world plot at the start of the season sans Island story. This way we actual invest time and interest in Sideways world. Then, finish the season strong by building straight on the Island plot to the end.

They didn't do that. So where are we?

If this season has done anything it's cleared up Jacob and the Smoke Monster. It has given us back story. It has made the archetypes actual characters. Brilliantly in the "Ab Aeterno" episode too. And for awhile we couldn't decide who was black and who was white. Who was evil and who was good. When the line was drawn for us (or when we were roped into believing who was good and who was bad -- I'll explain) we all seemed to find ourselves on Jacob's side. Jacob was the good guy with the noble heart. And after watching the penultimate episode I found myself very bored. Very bored. I fell asleep. I was annoyed. It was all so predictable. So pedantic in dialogue. exactly like I was being lulled to sleep by hearing what I expected to here. That Jacob had brought them there. That they were better off for being there. That the island saved them and now they must save it...Blah blah blah. I just considered it a terrible episode and both Jen and I wished the show would just end so we didn't have to care. It felt like the show had just lost something. It's sense of magic. It's sense of a one idea that was making this whole thing have purpose. Everything was heading right where it had no choice but to end. I considered that maybe there was never actually a completed ending when this story first began. That what's coming just happened organically through the writing. I can appreciate that, but this show has always suggested that's not the case. But after this last episode, it felt, well, lost in some plot and character contrived corner and was ready to keel over and just end.

But a lot has been revealed about Jacob and the Smoke Monster/FLocke/MIB in the past two weeks. Last week we saw Jacob a mere patsy for his crazy mother and MIB as a man who sought knowledge and enlightenment. Jacob became narrow minded and cultist in his grasp on the "source"/ "light". Borderline fundamentalistwack job. In this last episode he conceded he was just that. He brought all this people there for his reasons. For his ends. Making the ends justify the means (a philosophy well represented in the six seasons of Lost). He claimed everyone was flawed. But that he only made one mistake and needed to fix it. That mistake? Killing his brother in the first place. So he created this situation and then created the situation to get out of the situation. Selfish. Arrogant. Not what I look for in my hero. And what about the Man in Black? He seemed a good soul. Hard-working. Seeking knowledge and escape from his crazy wacky murderous step-mother. I can appreciate that more than Jacob's patsy attitude.

MIB wanted to reveal the light. To let everyone experience it. And here's my revelation. LOST has drawn from innumerable sources. From religion to history to literature to music. It has referred to a panoply of knowledge. So much so that to call it Christian or to call itKabbalah or to call it pagan pigeonholes it into something it is not. It is consistently universalism . So we have this light source that we are told if it leaves the island, if it is uncorked, will no longer be on the island but unleashed on the world.Hmmm. That seems universalist. And MIB who, we can wonder, is that actual light source (after he was thrown in the cave the light went out and out came the smoke monster), and if he gets out, will give everyone that light. Seems rather noble, again.

Say what you will about FLocke's cold, murderous hand. But he has always given people the choice to follow or not follow. Jacob has been gray at his best. FLocke is black and white. Blame him for Sayid and Sun and Jin but remember he didn't actually kill any of them. Despite what Jack claimed in this episode. Sawyer did it. They did it by making the wrong choice. The choice not to follow him. Call it cold. Call it justice. But he's never beenwishy-washy. He's always been clear. Jacob is controlling under the guise of free-will. But Flocke has always been for free-will and displayed it at all costs. Remember that names have always been referential on LOST. From Lewis to Sawyer to Jack to Locke toBentham to Faraday to Hume to Penelope to Eco. Jacob's name means liar. We don't know MIB's name.

So, I'm rooting for FLocke to win. It explains Sideways world (notice how when all of them see the alternate Island life, it's via a bright flash of light). It wraps up the show very neatly. It shows there was always a set ending in place. And it fits in with so many themes of Lost I can't even begin to get at here (this is long enough, Doc Jensen eat your heart out).

Finally, this Sunday is Pentecost. LOST's pre-season cast photos modeled after the Last Supper painting. There are numerous references in this season to the idea of Easter weekend and beyond. Numerous. And what is Pentecost? When the Holy Ghost was poured out on the world. When he was uncorked from heaven.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

At Almost Thirty

My 30th birthday is this Sunday. I've already received a card from Nana and Grandpy (not allowed to open it yet, but thanks in advance Nana and Grandpy) and three small gifts from the Gilchrests of Waco, TX (slightly disappointed that the included Starbucks Gift Card was not for the $1,000,000 that Eric had penned on the sleeve). The rest of you... let's go. Let's get those gifts here.

If you're looking for gift ideas here are the only three I ever and always ask for and really only ever want if I want of anything: books, coffee, t-shirts. Maybe it's sad, sure. I'm a grown man and I wear t-shirts everyday (it's in the job description, though!). Maybe it speaks of being content. Of having the things that really matter: health, salvation (as much as I can be sure of something like that -- oohh, there's some theology for you), family, friends, two really wonderful and special children and the stillness and passion of loving and being loved. But if you're looking for gift ideas, I only asked that the coffee be of good quality; used books and Goodwill t-shirts are preferred.

I suppose at this point in my life I should muse over the past. That I should entertain and relish those things I am thankful for, those things I have learned from, those things I have striven and attained and those things I've yet to attain. And I suppose I've done that as I approach this day. But not more or less than I've done it in approaching any other day -- or tried to do. Yet one thought in the past months that has circled the drain of my 20s has been my enjoyment of fairy tales. I know on Twitter I've mentioned that I like them more at almost 30 than I did as a child. I'm not sure why exactly. But get past your conception of the word. Though here's a perfect sermon on why you should and can(seriously listen to it. It's inspiring. And on Easter!).

And here's Chesterton on it:

"In the fairy tale an incomprehensible happiness rests upon an incomprehensible condition.
A box is opened and all evils fly out.
A word is forgotten and cities perish.
A lamp is lit and love flies away.
An apple is eaten and the hope of God is gone.”

And Tolkien on it:

[Fairy tale] does not deny the existence of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. It denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final a fleeting glimpse of Joy;
Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.

I find great pleasure in seeing the imaginative side of things. Seeing things maybe as not what they are but maybe what they could be. Sure, it's not always the realistic viewpoint, but it's also not idyllic. My worldview takes into account much that isn't right and allots for it. But it sees past that -- or tries to. Maybe this is of fairy tales. Maybe I just walk around with the magical realist viewpoint. Maybe I'm crazy and maybe my 30s will fix all of this.

But for right now, at almost 30, give me that warm hand I love to hold, and lips I love to kiss, that merriment of laughter I love hearing every morning, some coffee, a crisp t-shirt, an old book, ripped jeans, some sunshine, a cool breeze, maybe a birthday party at a giant indoor playground for adults with lots of bouncy things to bounce on and into, a melody with a hook and a beat.

Tell me it's all a fairy tale. And I'll tell you it's my life. My incomprehensible joy and happiness that is based on the incomprehensible condition of me: a man who insists upon always wearing t-shirts and ripped jeans.

Monday, March 29, 2010

On Broken Things

It's been the better part of the past two days but certain things around the house have been fixed. The blinds have been taken down and new ones installed: white, faux-wood ones. Then there's the leaky bathtub faucet which has been plaguing my quiet moments for four months. I finally got the whole thing disassembled thanks to my frustration and a hacksaw. After some running around, I found the replacement part and we're back in business; that means the water's back on in the house.

But as I finished cleaning up the final project tonight, I found myself circling a kind of drain. A steady maelstrom going around and round. I am waiting for what I fixed to be broken again. I'm listening now for the drip that I can feel coming. I'm anticipating Isaac swinging at the blinds and destroying them again. Call it a lack of faith, but it's inevitable. What's fixed will be broken again.

Quite possibly we lose our faith in products and machines and even people when they breakd0wn. For right or for wrong we expect them to maintain their equilibrium. Their status quo of reliability. I for one don't always mind a broken and fixed item. I buy refurbished Apple products (same warranty, 15% cheaper). I buy cars used. I read books from the library. Yet still this feeling lingers. Even my previously broken bones ache thanks to some mind over matter thoughts. These things repaired will break down again. They will have to be fixed again. What it must be like for God...

As I take survey of the thoughts present in my quiet moment tonight, as I come to the realization of things fixed and things broken, I am quieted even more by the importance of not making junk in the first place. There's a whole theology in that. Know things in this life aren't perfect. Love, passion, happiness, joy. It's all flawed somehow. It's all besought with mortal wounds. But it's got built into something that bespeaks the ideas of a Quality. Of Not-Junk. And so if those things must break, let it be so; it will be an easy repair. But may we not lose faith in them.

As for my faucet repair, stay away from the Delta 1700 Monitor series. And from me, the plumber.