Thursday, April 24, 2008

i miss the way

Well, several of you have been expecting me to write about my road trip by now. Unfortunately I came home to a full plate of work, including an essay on contextualization that is due rather quickly. With that in mind, my days have been taken writing for other causes.

That said, I’ve had a lot on my mind over the past few days, nothing more so than the suicide and apparent loss of reality’s grip on an old and dear friend of mine. Many of you will know of whom I speak.

Ken, along with his family, was somebody that I loved very much. I dug out an old photo today of he and I wearing grass skirts and coconut bras for a youth event we did together about fifteen years ago. Ken helped me work out the details of a car purchase my wife and I made about ten years ago. I spent many a nights in his police cruiser, and many a nights in the company of his children and lovely wife Maya.

I remember when Ken went to prison for the first time. I remember visiting him in jail, after his first night, and seeing the hopelessness and despair in his eyes. In his latest mug shot I could see that same despair, only more so. It brought me back to that place. It’s been a heart breaking place to visit. As always, it’s even harder to deal with 3000 miles away.

How do you get to the place where Ken was? The easy answer is that it is a series of choices: a series of compromises. And I suppose that that is true. Still, that’s not a good enough answer.

Mind you, this is, by no means, a sermon or even a full take on the matter. This is me very much trying to work it out in my own head. But there was always a desperateness just below Ken’s surface. I could never quite put my finger on it, but it was often manifested through Ken’s desire to find some way in which to get rich quick. He always seemed to have some little deal in the works. Many, many times those deals went bad. After his first fraud case came to light, several past stories and events began to fall into place for me and I began to understand them more clearly. Ken was desperate and, I say with all love and respect, but also in the interest of learning the lesson that he apparently never learned; monetary wealth, in particular, was his seductress. It was an evil demon that he chose to worship alongside his maker. So, even as he bowed before the cross, to his right there was always the seductress.

Times like these always make you reflect. At least they do me. And I’ve been wondering two things since Ken’s suicide; (1) I continue to make my own series of choices that clearly can be headed in only one direction. How many choices away am I from finding myself in a deep load of trouble? What is my seductress? And how does one rid himself of that seductress? (2) It’s easy to read a story like Ken’s and, if you don’t have a personal connection, fold your newspaper up and go on with your life in the knowledge that there are very bad people out there. But behind every horrific story like this one, there is a life, a soul, and a home full of friends and family who are now left to try and find a way to go on. Ken’s solution was suicide, but this is not always the case. Our prisons are full of people who have just made very bad choices, often due to circumstances way beyond their control (though that was not the case here), who are now left to deal with what society is very willing to chalk off as a throwaway life. But certainly there are lives, much like Ken’s was, that are not throwaway lives. And surely those lives are worth saving? But, and to put it mildly, that is not what our prison systems are doing. And what about those who are left to pick up the pieces of somebody else’s decision?

Ken and Maya were long time members of my childhood church. And though they have not attended that church in quite sometime, I hope that those from that church that read this blog will make a strong and very concerted effort to reach out to Maya and Morgan. Can you imagine what they must be going through right now and can you imagine the difference just five people from a past church family could do if they decided to take care of her (emotionally, spiritually, physically) over the next year or so. We should be bringing them meals. We should be driving out to pray with them several times a week. We should be pouring out love and support on them at this time. I’m heart broken that I’m not there to do it myself. I hope that several of you will hug them for me.

Friday, April 18, 2008

they drive only the nicest cars...and four wheelers

A quick note to say how shocked I've been at the amount of Mercedes, BMW's, and Porsches we've seen on this trip. And every single one of them seemed to be either black or silver. Today I finally made the statement that every fifth car seemed to be either a Mercedes or a BMW. After some discussion, I decided to start tracking them. So, from 11:00 a.m to 12:00 noon, I kept track of every single car that passed us on the highway (Germany). Mind you that I kept the speed between 140 and 160 kl an hour. During that time, the following cars passed us:

10 Audie's
8 BMW's
6 Mercedes
1 Porsche
17 other cars

That means that, in one hour, every 3.5 cars that passed us was either a Mercedes or a BMW. And I promise you that it's been true of the entire trip! Furthermore, over the course of our five our drive today, we were passed by 5 Porsche's (all of them black) which averages out to 1 Porsche an hour (in case you were unclear on that math). That is also a good representation of the entire trip. In Italy, we also must have averaged being passed by 1 Ferrari an hour (which I didn't mind at all!). Mind you, we were only counting the cars that passed us. This does not include the cars we passed!

That said, by far the weirdest automobile we've seen on the trip was the one pictured above which we passed today in Germany on the autobahn. Your eyes do not deceive you! That is a freaking four wheeler!!! Look again and you'll see that he was even in the second lane!!! The guy was actually passing people on that thing!!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

from florence with love...

I'm sitting in an internet cafe, somewhere in Florence. We've had mostly rain on our trip, but the views have been unbelievable none the less. This photo was taken about two hours ago in a park overlooking Florence.

We had a bit of an eventful trip getting here which had us taking a three hour detour through the Swiss Alps (totally worth it!). I'll, of course, give a complete overview when I get back. For now it's been an amazing trip, we're loving Itally, and also totally looking forward to the trip home which should also be amazing.

Finally, and as expected, my playlists have been amazing and have also been well recieved. Jamie's wasn't nearly as bad as any of us thought it would be.

Speak soon!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

and then God created music

So tomorrow we head out on our epic European adventure, also known as the Epic Frissanic (France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany) Adventure. We’ll spend four days driving through France, stopping one day in Geneva, and then spend a week in Florence. On the way back we’ll take a four day northern route and hit Switzerland and Germany. Really been looking forward to this for a while and glad it’s finally here.

One of the things Jamie, Becca, and I have been working on are our ultimate road trip playlists. So, without further ado, below are my playlists for the trip.

Playlist 1
Tiny Dancer – Elton John
Peaceful, Easy Feeling – Eagles
Copied Keys – Kathleen Edwards
Devils and Dust – Bruce Springsteen
Easy Silence – Dixie Chicks
Golden Slumbers – Ben Folds
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Long May You Run – Neil Young
Sister Golden Hair – America (oddly, a British band)
Best of My Love – Eagles
Long Ride Home – Patty Griffin
Black Cowboys – Bruce Springsteen (it mentions Oklahoma)
Landslide – Fleetwood Mac
America – Simon & Garfunkel
Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters – Elton John
Come Away With Me – Norah Jones
As Time Goes By – Jimmy Durante

Playlist 2
Next Year – Foo Fighters
Cowboy Take Me Away – Dixie Chicks (slightly embarrassed about that one)
Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty (not up for debate)
Wouldn’t It Be Nice – The Beach Boys
Mrs. Robinson – Simone & Garfunkel
Brighter Than Sunshine – Aqualung
A Long December – Counting Crows
Wanted Dead or Alive – Bon Jovi (yesssssss)
Take It Easy – Eagles
Running On Empty – Jackson Browne
Go Your own Way – Fleetwood Mac
Mandolin Rain – Bruce Hornsby & The Range
Reelin’ In The Years – Steely Dan
Listen to the Music – Doobie Brothers
Papa Loved Mama – Garth Brooks
How to Save a Life – The Fray
Killing Me Softly With His Song – The Fugees

Playlist 3
Keeping Me Alive – The Afters
Copied Keys – Kathleen Edwards
Strange Form of Life – Bonnie *Prince* Billy
To Die in LA – West Indian Girl
Sooner Surrender – Matt Nathanson (one of my favourite albums from last year)
Trouble – Ray LaMontagne
Easy From Now On – Miranda Lambert
Heartbeats – Jose Gonzalez
Streets of London – Ralph McTell
Along the Way – Ashley Parker Angel
Forget About Tomorrow – Feeder
Sprout and the Bean – Joanna Newsom
Let Go – Frou Frou
The Part Where You let Go – Hem
Just Like Heaven – Katie Melua (The Cure cover)
Dead Meat – Sean Lennon (John’s son)
With a Room Somewhere – Sixpense None the Richer (back when they were good)

Playlist 4
A Country/Bluegrass playlist that includes Miranda Lambert, Dixie Chicks, Mindy Smith, Patty Griffin, and Hem.

Playlist 5
An entire playlist of Patty Griffin stuff

Playlist 6
An entire list of Beatles and Beatles covers. The covers are as follows:
I’m Looking Through You – The Wallflowers
Across the Universe – Jim Sturgess
Golden Slumbers – Ben Folds
The Long and Winding Road – Phil Driscoll
Hard Day’s Night – Rene Marie (great jazz cover)
Two of Us – Aimee Mann & Michael Penn
Strawberry Field Forever – Joe Anderson
Eleanor Rigby – Julia Macklin
Blackbird – Sarah McLachlan
Hey Jude – Joe Anderson
You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away – Eddie Vedder
Norwegian Wood – Mia Doi Todd
Across the Universe – Rufus Wainright

Playlist 7
An entire playlist of Eagles stuff

Playlist 8
All 80’s stuff

Should be a great trip!

Now I can only hope that my wife’s playlist is not made up entirely of selections from Amy Grant and the Grease Soundtrack. : (