Watch Now Seriously


The beautiful Hannah and I just watched a documentary together….WHAT?  I know it doesn’t happen often but she actually sat down and learned WITH me. But that’s not my point.

My point is that this nation has a history that sucks.  We have institutionally accepted horrible things happening to our own citizens since the beginning of the country and allowed institutionalized slavery to continue to present day.  And since there is an election coming up don’t think I am speaking as if one side started or stopped this.  They are all guilty as #$@#@ and need to be held accountable. Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama…all have allowed slavery to continue in newer forms. Don’t believe me? Watch The 13th on Netflix.

Are you back? Or never left?

Here’s what I learneded, there is a line in the 13th amendment, which ended slavery in its previous form, that allows men (people) to be free as long as they are not being a punished for crime.  Which sounds great until people are falsely arrested, forced into a plea bargain and then have a felony on their records FOR LIFE.  This causes them to not be able to vote in many states, not be able to receive government assistance, not rent, not be employed, and even not receive life insurance.  After the US Civil War, prisoners were used to help rebuild a lot of cities and infrastructure destroyed in former slave owning areas.  It was a good deal.  If you needed more “workers” simply round up former slaves for loitering or trespassing, since they no longer had jobs or places to live.  This started what we see today with over 2 million people in the prison industrial complex.  That is people that are under house arrest, on long probation or physically in a facility.   Bogus loitering charges still exist, but often drugs or theft is involved.  We all have heard stories of police planting evidence, (Google has about 1,280,000 results in 0.49 seconds) and of quotas.  It’s like they HAVE to arrest people to keep their jobs, right?

The movie delves deeper into the money side of it. How laws are passed to arrest more people and politicians use code words to scare the public into behaving or make us feel safer when we feel attacked.  We like when we hear people will have to serve 85% of sentences and Mandatory Minimums and 3 Strikes.  But then we start hearing what is actually happening to people who are arrested.  How they are coerced into plea deals, and not allowed to leave because of high bails.  Even 10% of 10k is often still too much for working people or single mothers created by their husband, boyfriend or baby daddy serving life for a third strike, 2/3rd of which might have been false.

I believe police have hard jobs and attempt to do good the majority of the time.  I also think they are trained to identify people of color as guilty and Caucasians as victims.   This has more to do with what I have heard from experienced people than from any article on the interwebs.  People of color being stopped and ticketed for small offences (5 over, broken taillight, out of state tags too long) while I was let go with a warning many times.  Or larger offenses like possession of drugs not being reported for white friends, while people of color were illegally searched to find them.  Therefore I truly believe that lives of crimes and drugs come from circumstances.  To gain power and money to get out of the “rough life”, but then get a felony and keep the cycle going in your family tree.  If you don’t have privilege or opportunity you fight more for it and bend the rules to get there.   I have met too many people on the streets with felonies from 19 or 20 years of age that limit them when 50.  Lesser jobs, lesser apartments, lesser insurances, lesser lives and so falling back into the escape of drugs and then the need to crime.  Yes, crime as a verb.

Instead of helping people break the cycle though it seems like the government is enabling the profiting off of poor, uneducated and disproportionately people of color specifically in the prison complex.  Instead of setting up a safety net that would help most, the system mandates felons can’t live in subsidized housing, penalizes family unity by limiting food and job benefits per address, and caps the limited benefits people can legally get in a tight timeline.  So people numb themselves with illegal drugs and resort to crime to buy food and keep the cycle going.

The major problem that The 13th exposes though is that prisons in this country are for profit, privately run institutions.  Therefore they need “raw materials” to make profits.  Unfortunately this leads to arresting people that can’t defend themselves in court.  Those who have been raised to fear the authority of police and all law enforcement.  Those whose fathers were arrested and served time for the same or similar crimes they will fall into.  If they were public run, I am not saying this wouldn’t happen it.  But I am saying that if they were charitably non-profit they would attempt to be run out of business.

I have more in my head that I’m not sure I have the words to say and realize I am just rambling so will leave you to ponder this quote from the film.

“We (African-Americans) thought, I mean they called the end of slavery “Jubilee”, we thought we were done then.  And then you had a 100 years of Jim Crow, terror and lynching.  Dr. King, these guys come on the scene, Ella Jo Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, we get the bills passed to vote then they break out the handcuffs, label you felon, you can’t vote or get a job. So we don’t know what the net iteration of this will be, but it will be.  It will be. And we will have to be vigilant.”  Van Jones

Stay woke y’all, especially those in the racial voting majority like me.

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Filed under Adulthood, Junior, Overthinking, Reviews, The Jesus Way


We – the beautiful Hannah and I- live in a nomadically transplanted city. Most people aren’t from here and most won’t stay… as we are learning.   People come for work, school or adventure often in their 20s and stay as long as they can or want.  The city houses a lot of people with grand dreams and plans who hang out until another job, partner or dream pulls them away.  We came as part of that group.

The beautiful Hannah has over a decade here.  I have lived here four times as long as anywhere else in my adulthood and am approaching that decade mark too.  We have lived in multiple parts of the city and are on the edge of it now it sometimes feels.  The mountain can be seen from our patio window when the leaves are gone and the sun is out.  The coast is an easy drive away and allows us to have lunch after a nice drive if we have a free day to play.  The food is amazing.  The beers were good and hopefully will be when we can go out again.  People are generally laid back and welcoming.  And even though it is touted as the Whitest City in (US) America and part of the Least Churched Region in North America, we have many people of other colors in our inner circle…and our “local” church.  People think and act similar enough to us for us to feel accepted.  We don’t get weird looks for talking to homeless or people with special needs.  We can own chickens, garden and buy only from the edges of the grocery store without judgment and know a lot of others that do the same.

We really like it here.  We have a house in a neighborhood that has a lot of real locals.  We have our spots, our stores, our communities, our old and new neighborhoods and the beautiful Hannah has a career at a school that won’t be transferred or moved.  We plan to be here a long time.

But we are consistently saying good bye to friends with whom we have connected it feels.  They move because of work promotions.  Because they want to move closer to family before having kids.  Because it was a short term thing that lasted many years and is now over.  Because parents need them back home. Or because housing is silly expensive and they didn’t buy a place yet and can’t imagine living paycheck to paycheck just to stay here.  Whatever the reason, Junior has a lost a lot of friends as have we and we realized we need to start making more connections again.  And in chatting with people we have heard that many are planning to head back “home” at some point.  When the kids need to go to school, or when it’s time to have kids, or when they need a real job.

The beautiful Hannah and I initially bonded over not wanting to live near where we were raised again.  Shortly after we met we began to make Portland our city together. We shared with each other what we loved.  We started combining traditions, routines, drinking spots, eating spots, and friends.  We made our home and are strengthened ourselves in the communities that would take us.   Those communities changed and shifted with marriage, work changes, and Junior and his demands.  And they change substantially when close friends move to green pastures they find or dream.

Leaving is not our plan or story it seems.  So I guess we are a little different here but that’s ok.

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Filed under Adulthood, Dreams, Freewrite, Global Community, Junior, Marriage, Overthinking, Transparency, unfinished thoughts


As I write this, Neil my robot vacuum is cleaning. And all I can think about is lack of money. How we make spontaneous decisions that require money, generally not budgeted money. How we decide things will pay off eventually, but struggle to see the rewards. Somehow getting chickens was supposed to reduce our grocery budget. And even though we haven’t bought eggs since July, we haven’t had extra on that line. How growing a garden still has kept us in the red. How going to the farms in the area to pick berries, beans and peaches has filled our freezer but not our budget lines.
I like to see rewards and there don’t seem to be any. It might be because costs are slowly rising everywhere. Or it might be that we decide to add more line items to the budget.
A couple weeks ago, stressed about seating and storage we decided we will build an addition to our dining room. It will be amazing but even planning for it we noticed it will wipe out 20% of savings. But both the beautiful Hannah and I think it will make the house more “livable”.
Last week we made the incredibly adult decision to buy a car at a party. We went to say good bye to friends we were connecting with again because they were moving away and back to family. And while I checked into how move prep was going for them we ended up test driving a car. And then a couple days later had a payment contract and they took 60% of our savings as a down payment. We wanted a car instead of a truck because, well, an older standard cab Ford Ranger is not a family car. Junior can sit in it but the seats don’t conform to the car seat like a standard family car for some reason. So he just bumps and sways. Which of course he loves, but I imagine his foot kicking the door handle open, and his bumping seat flinging him through some magical serious events through the straps into a mailbox. We had talked about upgrading and about selling the Ranger, but didn’t actually plan for it. So now we have 3 vehicles and no leads on going down to two.
Also now, we don’t really have savings, as we go into winter, which has increased costs. But the beautiful Hannah gots a raise at her work. And in the middle of writing this, I sold a lawnmower. Talk about multitasking! Apparently this is what we do to get by, or what SAH parents do to pay bills. At least that is what I have heard. But they don’t have robot vacuums.


PS.  Here is the link for the Ranger if you know anyone and missed it above. https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5811924702.html  



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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Marriage, unfinished thoughts

SAHD Lifestyle

It’s been a year since I worked.  And it hurts in a lot of ways that I didn’t expect when I decided to stay home with Junior.  I have figured out how to protect and care for a two year old better than imagined.  I can cook, clean and garden well enough.  But mentally it is difficult to continually have the company of a human that just doesn’t get me.  But mostly it bugs me because I failed.

Every time I see the little USPS vehicles I am reminded of how hard it was.  How I was miserable.  How I hurt every night.  How my intake of coffee had to be supplemented by Gatorade to not become dehydrationally sick but still be awake.  It is worse when I see someone I worked with still doing it.  How we used to struggle together but now they have made it.  How 7 day 70 hour work weeks were just too much for me but not them.  How they were able to stop long enough to realize they could survive…or just never thought about the future.

I blamed family commitments.  But in honesty it was me.  It was my inability to work in a negative environment that used unions to protect employee’s jobs while they insulted each other.  It was my inability to imagine working within systems that were made by someone(s) who sat in an office on the other side of the country in different weather and demographics and conditions…and the lack of ability to speak my mind.   The inability to intellectually contribute to my work life.  My inability to accept the lack of air conditioning and heating in vehicles and warehouses.  And most of all my lack of desire to invest in something that seemed to be failing horribly and would soon become an Amazon company.

But at least once a week I wake up breathing heavy because I just had to climb a big hill with my full satchel in my dream.  Or because I ran from an old supervisor after I abandoned a vehicle full of “work”.   Because I made a deal to work just one week to pay off the credit card.  Or because I feel like I failed my family by not providing.

The hardest thing about being home all the time is not contributing monetarily.  I know I am not alone in this as I have talked to other stay at home moms and SAHDs.  But generally after I make another purchase at Home Depot to fix the house or urban farm I wonder how I can give.  After I see my handy work on something small, I just hope we can afford a professional to fix major issues and improvements on the house.  After I scour the budget for $10 again…I just want to help.

So I sold my body through a needle for the plasma center for a month until there was no bonus with the basic pay.  I helped a friend reside his house for a few days.  I mowed a neighbor’s lawn while it was being prepared to be sold.   I often scour the internet for part time jobs that allow me still to maintain the urban farm, our marriage and Junior timewise.  No one seems to want to hire someone for just 10 hours a week though.  So I spent last week getting a few hundred dollars of project supplies for free from friends and Craigslist, and jumping on a deal for strawberry plants that should provide buckets for the cost of a pint at the store next spring.  The urban farm continues to be my work outlet.

That is my SAHD life right now.  I hang out with Junior, we garden, play with chickens, and go to the community center a lot. I think I am also ready to restart the blogging routine so will attempt to find time to sit and write once a week.  There is enough happening in my head I should be able to force some out again.

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Junior, Transparency

Create vs. Copy


I am in a weird spot lately.  I have random stress and anxiety when I pass Postal Service trucks or see old coworkers in public.  I chauffeur, cook for and chase a two year old dictator around what feels like all the time while I wonder how I got here.

Sounds like a perfect time to be reading a book on business and leadership, right?

Ken Wytsma’s new book, Create vs Copy is small and a quick read like a lot of leadership books I have seen and/ or read in the past.  Within the first hour of reading I didn’t feel like I was the target audience, because… well I don’t want to change.  And it seemed like he called my life out a couple times in his description “parent of a diapered child” as someone who wasn’t prepared to take the steps needed.  Add that to the stress of complicated taxes pausing my life and lack of work I agreed that I didn’t have time to create right now.  Then he expounds and says that when you feel the worst or least ready you are at the best place to be creative.  And if you are overwhelmed and that thought scares you, Wytsma points out that creativity will actually create space for rest.

Come on!  Seriously, I fell asleep reading it 4 nights in a row because I didn’t know how to not be tired while seated.  If creativity is a muscle that grows while being worked or atrophies when not, I figured it would be any use trying to build it up with the limited time I had to sit and create.

kenw_4But then, I got past the introduction and into the theology and practicality of creating and it started to make me desire more.  Ken shows the theology of creating through God’s own process.

“Just as God has saved us, is saving us, and will ultimately perfect our salvation, He has created the world, is still actively creating it through and with us, and will ultimately perfect His creation in eternity.”

We are created by a creator that is still through us.

For us to further the kingdom and dare I say create a fulfilling life we need to think outside the box.  We need some divergent thinking.  We need to use imagination— and if struggling to— to put down the wifi device and watch cartoons with our kids and their imaginary friends.  This leads to innovation which leads to the change we are often desiring.  If we don’t we will never change.

Creation isn’t about just art or technology, either.  It is about solving problems we have or the world has.

Practically for me, I need to be creative while starting our little urban farm.  We don’t have a budget for it so I am using a lot of reclaimed items that are not necessarily made for holding compost or water or plants.  There has been a lot of failure, which is part of creating.  I have built and deconstructed a fenced enclosure 5 times now.  But I needed to innovate and attempt what I imagined would work.

On a larger scale, Create vs Copy made me think of the homeless issues in Portland.  How my city isn’t like Salt Lake City or Hawaii or even Seattle.  We have less resources than some others and more opportunities to change than others.  It is going to take a new approach specifically built for Portland.  Divergent thinking is required to figure out how to house and care for some of the 5000 people that are sleeping in a temporary space tonight.  I will write more on that later and some of my imaginative ideas that just might work.

In the meantime I think I will read over Create vs. Copy again and see if I can learn a little more about leadership while I have the time.  And actually look at some of the group questions and further reading at Kenwystma.com. And maybe figure out how to transition better.


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