Category Archives: Global Community

Growing Up


CAM00210Growing up sometimes happens fast.  When I met the beautiful Hannah I quickly knew I wanted to start a life together with her…so we did and in less than 8 months from the first time we talked we were married.  Since we were not fresh out of college and I was edging closer to 40 than 30, we decided to try to have a baby only 9 ish months after that.  Then while home on leave from work with said baby we ended up looking at houses to buy.  So in a matter of less than two and half years I have gone from being single and alone to being a married father and homeowner.

As for the housing decisions…

We had discussed it and liked the idea of renting for a while still because of the costs of upkeep.  But we were in a massive place that required renters for us to be able to ever eat out, do fun things that cost money or travel the state and region like we were apt to do.  So when the first one that was perfect and just a block from where we were fell through we kept looking.   We broadened our search and lessened some of our initial desires and actually had an accepted offer on a home.  But that was before the inspection that concluded it was money pit, so we walked away and narrowed our search criteria to just what was perfect.  The beautiful Hannah also spent a couple nights in the ER during that time of walking away from the less than perfect house.  So when the drama and paperwork on the less than perfect (but great backyarded) house was finished we listed what was needed in a house and waited…for a week… for it to show.  And now we are homeowners.

But the real issue with these recent life changes of fatherhood and home owning I have had to give up some desires in my head.  I have had to become an adult that doesn’t keep a nice debt cushion but attempts to live debt free (besides the mortgage now).  I have a couple someones to protect and look after and who are affected when I just want to travel on MasterCard’s dime and pay it off as I am able.  And I no longer want to sleep on the floor of Singaporean bus stations or on the 8th bunk in the small room of a mildly shadey but very economical hostel.

But I still want to travel and learn.  To visit friends in far away places and experience what I used to and what they still do.  I want to visit new places and meet the beautiful Hannah’s friends in their faraway places.  The desire to explore, learn and continue to grow is there and stronger than ever.  And yet, as I walk to Target on my lunch break to buy some headphones because I droped my old ones in the not yet used but still gross toilet at work, I wonder if it is possible.

I wonder if I have become the adult I didn’t want to become when I visited Portland as a dirty hippie 15 years ago.  The wonder grows stronger when I see a red headed traveler with bad “completely natural” dreads and cut up camo pants and a jean jacket vest.  I am distracted from my book about how to make my baby sleep through the night and watch this kid for a few stops on the bus home to my just purchased house.  I wonder if he is real or a ghost.  To say I see myself in him is an understatement because besides that one large patch on his jacket, I was dressed exactly like him in July 1999.

I watch as people avoid him, make no eye contact and judge him in this town where judgment isn’t allowed.  I see in his eyes some kind of pain or loss.  I watch him mouth the words of some song on his overly large headphones that is what he needs in that moment.  I see him get off the bus when it gets crowded and hear him say under his breath “I’ll just walk”.   I notice that his shoes have more miles than my bike this year probably and he is looking at his bus ticket to see how long he can use it and where else to go.  And even before the bus leaves he has sat down at a public picnic table to watch the world go by.

After getting a glimpse of the old me, I realize I like being an adult.  I wonder if that kid as well will take a job as an accountant, that lets him live in a foreign but adventurous place.  If he will wake up daily for a boring desk job that requires a shower and haircut and insulated lunch sack but pays mid five figures.  If he will keep dreaming and giving to passions that won’t die.  If he will go through periods of trying to figure out life that ends with him buying a house for his wife and three month old son to nest and build memories in.

I wonder if that random dude will let that new less adventurous life become his normal.  Because it seems like I have grown up enough to allow it to become mine….as long I get to travel back to Asia and a national park with my little family next year!

 

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Global Community, Marriage, Obese Obsessions

Homeless awareness

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Last Friday morning I stood in Pioneer Square with about 200 people of various faiths, ages, genders and experiences.  We had walked about a mile through downtown checking out some of the various ministries that serve the homeless and were now standing in solidarity for a change.

It was a good event, but it was…

It was a little too much like walking through a zoo for me.  Groups of 40 people passed the homeless waiting outside buildings for a meal or services while we were escorted through.   There were a couple women having a cat fight while medics took care of another woman inside.  Those becoming aware of homeless issues just listened about how there were services offered at this location to a vulnerable population.

While a massive group that had engulfed my solitary walk a few blocks before entered one of the largest shelters in town, a woman screamed, “I am homeless, are you aware of that?”

I knew I was done.  I followed the group into a large room that had been remodeled to fit more people for events, and listened to a sales pitch I had heard a few times before.  I slowly moved to the outside of the group and then busted for the same door that the homeless use to escape the loud dining hall.

I walked past another couple minders and jumped the MAX to our final destination.    I was glad for the warmth of the train, because it was cold out and I couldn’t really take it.  I felt like one of those I was supposed to become aware of as I was eyed for not even pausing at the ticket machine.  Except unlike most of the homeless that get judged, I had a job that provided me an annual transit pass, which was in my pocket.

As I exited the light rail train…after one stop…I walked towards my employment as I have most weekdays for the last five years, but stopped in the square for a cup of mediocre coffee from the big blue bus filling a need.  I looked at the vendors and realized I have them in the Rolodex of info in my head but haven’t really used it.

While tempted to just head to a warm office, I stood there for the hour of the presentation…on the outside of the circle…near the homeless and the travelers who were just in the square for the coffee.  I, like they, became very cold just standing there and started moving.  The whole time I kept an eye on the clock to “respect my employer”…or honestly, to get out of the cold and be able to sit down.   I enjoyed the presentation but was a little tired of hearing about the problem while it is still everywhere around us and seeming to get worse.

As I left and walked the three blocks to my paying job, I felt not very different from 2 hours before when I started the walk.  I realized I can’t take the cold and wondered why anyone would choose to be homeless in this weather.  I wondered if I would ever be able to relate to the population that my heart seems drawn to help.  If I would be gracious, kind and generous enough to help.  Or if I would continue to judge both the homeless and the suburban churches who help them differently than I do or would.

Along the way, I sent four people to the big blue bus for coffee as they walked around to get warm.  Then as I walked into my nice office building…with 3 layers of clothing, time -faded jeans and hiking boots…I was looked suspiciously at by the fill-in security guard.   He stared at me while I boarded the elevator and then watched the security cam of what I would assume was the elevator’s camera.

It took an hour for my feet to warm up, my knees hurt until after lunch and I had a headache all day.  And all I did was stand for an hour on some hard bricks and walked less than a mile.  Maybe I did become aware of the plight of the homeless.  Maybe the cold taught me something about having and using resources.

It would be great if we thought of them, and did something that would make them thankful for us this holiday season.

I bet a smile, pair of socks and question of how they feel will go a long way! 

If you need some place to donate time or money in the PDX area please comment below and I’ll hook you up!

 

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Filed under Freewrite, Global Community, Heathen Healers, The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People

neighbors

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I am not good at talking to neighbors or caring much about them, which is a problem for someone who has been standing on the soap box of community for years.  Yet again, it seems like I know the process well enough to teach it but don’t carry them out.  I don’t walk the talk if you will.

Last night as I was attempting to shut down my life and brain, I saw a tow truck stop and back up down the street.  I have been in the situation before where my car looked so bad that it might get towed.  I have also had my car towed more than once for many reasons in many countries and so have had to go deal with impound lots and paperwork and loads of frustration.

Those feelings quickly came back in a split second because the city has been ticketing our neighbors second— well more like first ever since it is old and undependable— car for a couple weeks and gave a 72 hours notice of towing.  It was less than eight so I was ready.  Ready to what I don’t know, but I was ready.

I was ready because I wanted to protect my neighbor.  She is a nice lady that lives alone and works a lot …and doesn’t do much for her yard.  The yard we offered to help with as a way to get to know her and “be neighbors”.  She did it herself after repeated offers, so we are still waiting to help and get to know her.

But I wasn’t waiting this time. I ran to the bedroom and quietly, as not to wake the sleeping beautiful Hannah, put on some pants and a not undershirt and ran down stairs.

I busted through the door and …

Saw her standing there chatting with the driver when I notice the tow truck blowing up her tires.  This tow truck was a friend.  We chatted for a minute about if she needed our garage but then realized she had figured it all out for herself…again…and was finally moving the ticketed and expired tagged a.k.a vintage VW bug at 1045 at night.

So I helped a neighbor, kind of.  And maybe I am one step closer to being Mr. Rogers.

 

 

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Filed under Adulthood, Global Community, The Jesus Way

We Grew Food

Fancy Lettuce

Fancy Lettuce

The beautiful Hannah and I found an amazing house to rent with a nice yard a few months back…and moved in.  One of the great traits about the place- besides having one of the few central air conditioners in Portland- is the raised beds for vegetable planting.

We don’t have much experience or skill to grow gardens.  I haven’t planted food since I was a kid…maybe a teenager, but it was all my parents.  And Hannah against all odds keeps cut flowers 3 times as long as potted plants.  But we gave it a shot.  She bought some lettuce and green vegetable starts from a philanthropic organization she is a part of and planted them with a little advice from our friend who is a successful neighborhood gardener.   She watched and occasionally watered them as the standard Portland rainy weather became blazing hot Equatorial weather.  I encouraged her and occasionally watered it too.  We watched as the kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts and 3 types of lettuce grew.  It was a learning experience that led me to Google things like “how-to harvest lettuce”, “do broccoli plants flower first?” and “are white bugs on kale bad?”

And for 4 whole weeks we grabbed lettuce for our dinners or lunches.  Generally with a smile we would walk back in the house and say “We grew food!”

But then things got busy.  We didn’t eat at home as much and craved other things than salads when we did.  There was a lot of driving to things and so the backyard became left alone.

Then a couple days ago, I was taken out back to see what had become of the garden.  The heat had taken its toll and the lettuce was no longer round but tall.  The chard was holey and the kale was COVERED in aphids of some sort.  The broccoli continued to flower and not become stalks (similar to growing corn as a kid) and the brussel sprouts returned to the dust they came from.

So that was our first experience with a garden.  But WE GREW FOOD!

Anyone have any advice to save the plants?  Are they able to be saved?

 

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Filed under Adulthood, Global Community, Marriage

American Winter

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A couple weeks ago, the beautiful Hannah and I went to a film festival. It wasn’t as high brow as it sounds.  It was actually very sad and business like.  We saw American Winter, a story about our city and its agencies for the poor and desperate.  I say poor and desperate, when I actually mean those struggling to make ends meet a little worse than most of us.  I know I say we are rich, but sometimes when we look at the balance of our savings, credit card and check accounts, we definitely don’t feel like it.  This film showed people who are substantially richer with love and family than most, but have no money for bills.

American Winter chronicles 5 families in the general area who have lost work, family members or health and ended up “where they never thought they would”.  Asking for help and approaching homelessness.  The life you never dream of as a child, teenager, college student or young professional.  Having to move your family back in with YOUR parents.  Having to sell your needed possessions, or visit the food pantry or petition the electric company to turn on your electricity for the health of your children.  That is NOT the American dream, you’d think.

But sadly as the film details, it is a large part of it.  These five families in Portland probably portray thousands of similar stories in our city, region and the world.  This film exposes the horrible parts of the system.  Being overqualified for a shit job.  Being told that you have to be more in debt to apply for help, then when you are, hearing it is too late.  Hearing that there isn’t any help available because you are one of thousands with the same problem and the agency, church or business just ran out of funds or resources.

I am part of the last problem.  Having to say, “Sorry, that is all we have”.  Many times a month, I grimace after hearing a story of loss or struggle I believe and have to turn people away.  Or more honestly, farther away.

American Winter is a story that each of us can relate to.  If you are one of the lucky ones that has access to HBO, check it out on Monday night, March 18th.  If you are reading this later, or don’t have HBO check out the websites below for more showing and information.  It might come to a city near you!

Local report

HBO

Facebook link

American Winter- official website

 

 

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Filed under Global Community, Obese Obsessions, Reviews, Three O Clock People