I couldn't sleep Friday night. I was nervous for the next day's wedding and I was overwhelmed with sentimentality, love, hope for my life and the lives of my friends, and a little melancholy too. I grabbed my iPod and headphones and made this mix as Janell slept next to me and Donovan dozed off in the bunk above us. It's not perfect, but I fell asleep. So it did its job and that's why I love it.
I'll send copies of this mix to the first 10 regular readers who drop me an e-mail. This is yet another ittle piece of holaolah history that you can experience for free!
These young women call themselves ZoeGirl and they perform at Christian women's events and youth gatherings with something they call "evangelistic entertainment". Don't miss the last sentence of this article. If it looks like the world and sounds like the world, wouldn't it be the world? Sadly, there is no discernment today between flesh and spirit, carnality and holiness. That's why our girls from Christian homes are often indistinguishable from those of the world. Instead of maidens of virtue, we are producing hussies of Babylon.
I am going to start a band called "The Hussies Of Babylon." Something
tells me that I can make a goldmine selling tee shirts emblazoned
w/this name. No one will care whether or not the band sucks, the tee
shirts will surely rock.
And for the record, I don't think Donald Miller is a false-prophet. I mean, if you check out his bio-pic on his site, he's pictured with a prominently displayed beer. If you believe in Jesus and beer, your prophet cred is assured in my book/blog.
The symbols of freedom are at war... this isn't good. Wow, there are just so many analogies, allegories, parables and prophecies you can take from this story. If it was published a week and some change earlier, say maybe on April 1, I would've thought that it was the Onion trying to get us to think a little deeper about all the lessons we can take from this powerful tale.
Here's a little test to see if we're on the same wavelength with this one. Please leave a comment with your take on the symbolic meanings/lessons we can take from this natural event. Semioticians, preachers, prophets, I am typing to you!
Today I talked to a lady who does not like things like e-mail and the Internet because of all of the energy you can feel while you use use them. "There's just so many people on there, it's weird. I don't like it, it's scary. It gives me the creeps cause it's just different, you know?" Umm, no not really.
I pulled into an empty parking spot at the gas station to wait while my brother's tank was being filled by the attendant. He took the opportunity to go inside and get more smokes.
I thought about going over and talking to him while he was waiting but irrational fears kept me in my car. The car trips of my day were so eventful that I barely had time to reflect on the whole "my life is half-over" headline. I don't know what I would have thought about that anyway if I had had the time. Probably something to the affect of, "Yep, I'm getting older alright." I didn't really feel up for an epiphany, but I had a lingering feeling that I might be short-changing myself for the lack of trying. My life has a handful of them and the truth is that you can't bring them on yourself or if you strain yourself, you're gonna hurt yourself. I took this classic advice that it was alright not to be at a bar alone raising a whiskey to my mortality.
Brent took off and I had to keep my foot down to keep up. The countryside we drove through didn't do anything to vaporize my irrational fear of being killed on my birthday. I started to keep track of the turns, thinking that he might be leading me on a wild goose chase and just trying to run my tank down until I ran out of gas. I don't know why he would have done something like this unless my suspicions were true. It seemed like we were going in a giant circle. I imagined that eventually we'd end up back at his house where Susan and Janell would have had enough time to set up and get the friends together to surprise the piss out of me. The thought of being surprised was too much to handle. I imagined myself surrounded by everyone I love and just breaking down with exhaustion, joy and stupidity. Joy because they were all there and willing to travel great distances by motor car just to celebrate my life. Stupidity because I almost had myself convinced that they were prepared to hang up their love for me and hang me. I felt like an ass for being so tardy and imagining that they could so easily dispatch me.
Brent sped up to pass a car and I had no choice but to follow. He really was in a hurry to get somewhere. Because I felt he was traveling in a circle I wondered if he was leading me to this little crab shack he introduced us to at the end of last summer. While we were there he mentioned how the owner, who he was sorta buddies with, would rent the place out for private parties and cook for everyone. It was an eclectic joint and I remember being impressed by the fact that U2's "Numb" was on the stereo along with Louis Armstrong, Bob Marley, and others. The place reminded me of "The Blue Danube," a clubhouse that some of my high-school buddies had set up in Evan Esh's barn. The place was great and it was the hot spot for all the teenaged bohemians. Janell and I had already begun talking about my hopes for my 30th back in the summer and I remember that we had had a conversation about renting out this place. I had convinced myself that this is where we were headed and that the barn was warmed with the chatter of my friends gathering around the speakers, listening to my favorite songs.
I started seeing signs for the shore points and Atlantic City. This meant that the bohemian rhapsody crab shack barn party was off. We were at a stop light and I had just begun to mourn the loss of my imagined party. The light turned green and Brent pulled a u-turn drove back about a quarter mile and pulled into a shopping center parking lot. I followed him to a Famous Dave's where he stopped his truck.
Madness On the Road In Jersey... I was over the Delaware Memorial Bridge and 15 minutes into Jersey on Rt. 40 when I got a call from Owen Wilson. He and his mother sang happy birthday to me. I thought it was amazing that he was so verbal on demand at less than one year old. It was later in the conversation with his father that it was revealed that his wailed song was prerecorded. This would actually be my second prerecorded birthday greeting of the day. Sponge Bob called me at the beginning of the day and wished me a very special celebration. A little deduction lead me to understand that Donovan was the culprit on that one. Owen and his parents wished me well and shared their love. They've been with me for half my life and and I felt empowered by their blessing.
It was after a few minutes of driving in silence following flipping my phone shut that I began to suspect my friends were double agents. Could their well wishes have been a set up, a ruse, to find out my progress on the road? Was a pre-recorded greeting from Owen Wilson some kinda clue? The conspiracy stuck with me for many miles across the gardens of my home-state. These people were seriously planning something on a sinister level if they'd utilize a prerecorded message from a cute little baby to remind me that I am now old. I fast forwarded to another baby I might soon be encountering -- Little Lauren who I was speeding my way towards. Was my final destination at her house to receive some cryptic clue from her little hand?
I started to cry a little at the idea of getting a set of traveling papers from one of the cutest girls in the world. Circle of life type stuff -- the newest name in the family line pays homage to the one celebrating their oldening. It could be profound if I dwelled on it long enough. I marveled at Janell's thoughtfulness and attention to the symbolism of it all. I popped out of that daydream in time to catch the exit to take to my bro's hometown. The directions were spotty and so I followed my instincts, which turned out to be crummy. I went the opposite way on the road for about 15 minutes before I wised up. I was already behind, and this just pushed everything back. I doubled back over the giant strip mall that is Delsea Drive in Vineland, NJ and kept going.
I was beginning to panic. I looked down at my phone to possibly call my brother and I noticed that I missed a call from my mom. She left the kind of message that moms leave for sons on such a day -- "hey, you were a joy, I'd have you all over again, no regrets" that sorta thing. I didn't return her call, out of paranoia. I couldn't be tying up the line in case some other kid with a famous name decided to call. I was growing more weary and panicked as I continued to drive into the void, believing that I'd somehow missed a turn on a numbered road that was recently renumbered. I'd been driving since 5:15 with just a little break. It was almost 8 and I was tired and nervous and contemplating my mortality on the road slightly exceeding the speed limit in the NJ night. I realized why I had moved away so many years ago. This is what happens here, this what they call entertainment. Eventually you just say "eff it, I'm staying" and that's that.
I pulled over and into the parking lot of one of the many tire/auto shops that line this stretch of road. I gave my brother a call and attempted to give him a description of my surroundings. I was ready to be there, wherever there was. He affirmed that I was on their right track and told me that I was 10 minutes out.
While I was on the phone with Brent my dad called to wish me a happy birthday. He said that it was no bother because I was probably out partying and that we could catch up when we'd catch up. I took that to mean when I would call him the next day and wish him a happy birthday. Brent's estimate of 10 minutes was based on his avg. driving speed. I was always the more cautious one so I got there 20 minutes later, that includes a wrong turn.
By this time my mind had started spinning a little conspiracy theory that Janell had convinced all of my friends and family that I needed to die and that they should gather in the Jersey Pine Barrens and have a wake for me before the killing was to be done. I marveled at her rhetorical witchcraft. She was some kind of dark force to cook up a twisted plot like that. What was I doing, I thought, I'm on my way to my brother's house so I can visit his family and then be off to my death? And Andrew, how could she have conned him into this whole plot?
The road madness had just reached a fever pitch when I pulled into his driveway. His house was dark and I hesitated, thinking that maybe I had the wrong victorian in his little village of victorians. The fluorescent overhead kitchen light lit up the place and it was just as soon cut off. I took that to mean that I was at the right place. My Element's interior lights took over my field of view once I opened my door and cut off with the slamming of the door. It was like we were playing a dueling banjos game with light switches. My eyes were adjusting as I found his path and made my way to his back door where the kitchen light had just gone off. I was halfway to the door when the face of a lone figure standing on Brent's backporch was illuminated as they lit their cigarette and started walking toward me.
Just in case you want to know what I think, Tookie Williams is more useful to us alive than dead. Close your eyes really hard and believe he can make it out alive. While you're at it, throw a few up for Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney, Norman Kember, and Tom Fox. They're the Christian Peacemakers Team recently taken hostage in Iraq. They're scheduled to die soon as well.