Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Estate

My fiance and I visited an estate sale this weekend. For those of you wondering what this is, it's about as simple as the name. Someone is selling their estate, exerything in their home. Everything is pulled out from the shelves and cupboards and priced. Many times the owner has passed away or is simply moving into an assisted living establishment where they can't take all of their stuff. We enjoy perusing such sales as we are young and own relatively little and have recently bought a house which is practicaly bare. We also don't like paying full price for new things and an estate sale is a good place to find well taken care of furnishings for low prices.

As with everything I encounter these days though, this estate sale got me thinking. The sale we visited wasn't really that great, for us anyway. There was nothing we were interested in and we were done in less than 10 minutes. That being said, there were hundreds and hundreds of items for sale in this house. Clothes, dishes, train sets, buttons, VHS tapes, trinkets and furniture just to start. Needless to say, this is one of the smaller estate sales I've been too. What got me thinking was how much value we Americans place on stuff. We go to work everyday and sell ourselves for a per-hour dollar amount. Rarely do we do this because it brings us fulfillment or joy but because it gives a means by which to amass stuff. We drive to work everyday to make about enough to buy a car and fill up with gas every week so that we can drive to work everyday. Anything we make beyond that, or even money we don't actually have is spent on stuff. Clothes, dishes, train sets, buttons, DVDs, trinkets and furniture, that if lucky, will end up someday in an estate sale to be passed over by a younger, hipper generation.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my stuff just as much as anyone else. I have a house and am in the process of filling it with stuff. On the other hand though, I do try and keep the right mind set in which I own my stuff and my stuff doesn't own me. It's a hard line to walk. It's not very tight and everybody tries to tell you it's the wrong one, but how often is the crowd actually right?

Friday, May 18, 2007


If you were to ask me, as I sit here today, what it is that causes me the most mental distress, I would honestly have to answer it is that I am losing my hair and will eventually be bald; That the crown of my head has approximately half the amount of hair that the sides have and that there is a small patch of noticeably thinning hair in the front and center of my mop that is slowly but surely growing larger. It is the first thing I notice in the morning and the last thing I see before going to bed. I have even dreamt about it.

Considering the state of the world we live in, as I sit here today, I find this rather pitiful.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Bagman

I pass the bagman about every other day. He's usually on the street next to the bank on my drive to work. I call him the bagman not only because he's homeless, but because he's covered from head to toe in plastic bags. The only exposed skin are his hands and face; His beard is dread-locked and he's usually talking to himself. He carries with him a bundle of cardboard boxes which I guess may actually be his home. His attention is usually directed to the back of a cereal box which he is reading. From what I can tell it's always been the same cereal box.

I wonder what it was in his life that put him here on the street corner reading the back of the same cereal box day after day. Was he born with a mental illness that has given him struggles his entire life? Is he a war vet that witnessed atrocities we cannot truly conceive? Did his father abuse him? Is he a meth addict that has burnt his mind out with a pipe? If this is the case, I wonder if his suppliers ever laugh at him and his situation and continue to take what ever money he can scrounge up to buy his next fix.

I'm not sure why God has put this person on my heart. I've known several "regular" homeless people and have never given them a second thought. There's the woman who would wait for me to get out of my car so she could ask for 75 cents to ride the bus. There's another woman who always wants me to take her to another town saying that her boyfriend is beating her and makes me feel guilty when I don't. There is the bike man who is always riding his rickety bike around Council Bluffs. I remember them, but I've never really wanted to know them. I'm very interested in knowing the Bagman. I wonder if he likes coffee. I could take him coffee on Friday mornings and try and converse, not as a person trying to show charity, but as a person simply trying to be friendly.

I don't know if I'll muster up enough courage to talk to him anytime soon. My schedule is conveniently busy and time for such a gesture is hard to come by.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

One thing

What is one thing I can do today to not think about myself?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


The following is an article written by a friend and was recently published on thebrewmag.com. He's a much better writer than I and I really enjoyed the article. Thought you might as well.

The MySpace-ination of Community
Friday, May 4th, 2007By Jon Reisinger
Earl, Roy, and the rest of the old guys meet down at the barbershop, play checkers and throw back a lemonade. It’s the American ideal at its finest: like hot apple pie, baseball and the Dream Team winning the Olympics. But times have changed, right? Now, we have cars with air conditioning, portable telephones and indoor plumbing. The pedestrian days of yesteryear with outhouses are gone. Yet, could it be that besides breeding E. coli, those outhouses somehow also bred community?
A new age of clichés has dawned. We have the internet with all its ones and zeros, and shockingly, community is thriving again…online. Although you never see someone you know walking on the street, you’ll see the same screen names in your little viral communes. As big a nerd as I am, I think I have around seventy “friends” on MySpace and only three of them are inanimate objects.
So the question becomes, will there ever be a flesh and blood community space again? Will there ever be a place that people gather together? There is that “third place” that sociologists refer to: a place that friends get together other than work and home. But now we are outsourcing to “third place” dot-com. We are pushing reality further away from ourselves onto the TV and computer. Porch swings became a thing of the past as they are replaced by laptops that can steal wireless internet signals.
I went to a supposedly cutting edge housing development called, The Village Gardens, on the outskirts of Lincoln, Nebraska. The developers are desperately trying to return the “community feel” to a neighborhood. All the garages will face into back alleys; there won’t be any back yards; and there will be a Whole Foods. Not sure how the Whole Foods plays into the mix, but it was important enough for the realtor to mention it in the same breath as “community.” Perhaps he was hoping I was an over-paying, veggie-eating communist with knack panache for back alleys. He was right.
I don’t know what it is about paying $5.95 for a carrot, but when I do do this, I love sitting in the park and playing fetch with other peoples’ dogs. Somehow, Whole Foods equals community. And we poor folk are screwed.
The current move away from “real” community makes me think that Xanga, Facebook, and MySpace really suck. I know this is the new cool idea that has replaced the initial thought of MySpace being cocaine. But after finding all my high school classmates and asking random hot chicks to be my friend, the slickness of virtual life has worn off.
It’s like an alternate reality where rules of civil goodness don’t apply. Not only can you bash someone’s ideas, but you can do it with absolutely no fear of retribution. I have literally had someone steam roll me in real life and then ask me to be her friend on MySpace. It’s the virtual version of, “Let’s not date, but will you take me to the prom?” Seriously?
Don’t get me wrong; I love a free stinky couch as much as the next person, which is probably why a site like Craigslist.com has become so massive. His list is in every state and in fifty countries. And while this virtual bulletin board has a huge following and is technologically superior to the garage sale, I wonder if we have lost something. Gone are the days of face-to-face banter and barter. Admittedly, I find this online garage sale rather handy when it comes to fixing a vintage motorcycle. Because really, I don’t want your random selection of ’87 Kawasaki parts unless I can somehow get them without seeing you.
I can’t even watch football with real people. Why? Oh yeah, because I don’t have a fantasy football team. What happened to the teams that actually exist? Can’t we just get back to the good old days of drinking beer, eating nachos and riding the Bears bandwagon together? A deeper fear yet: that football in the park could be replaced by Madden ’08 with some kid in Beijing.
I just finished a book by the pastor of a large church in Seattle. He cusses. There, now you’ve put two and two together. Anyway, he talks about trying to build a church bigger than 150 people. His congregation gets pissed that he would try to do that. Why? Their concern for community. Although the church was doing great things, the congregation was terrified of growth. They feared that if they got bigger, they wouldn’t know everyone and a sense of community would be lost. They had blindly stumbled upon community and now suddenly someone was threatening it.
They aren’t alone. There seems to be an interesting trend. Church has become one of the only places that community exists. Fortunately, some very wealthy old dudes, named Hybels and MacArthur, realized that Christians need to clump together in little clusters. We have small groups. We have Bible studies. We meet in coffee shops. We can even get together to lose weight for Jesus. And they do this because Christians love people; real people, not screen names with the occasional avatar.
Perhaps, we are moving away from real community. The fact remains that people want to be loved for more than their pimped out MySpace page. And the church can do that. It’s interesting that after two thousand years, they can know us by our love again.
So how ’bout it guys? Wanna stop playing Xbox Live and meet me in the park for football? We could take up an offering and get some carrots too.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Humble Thyself

You can have no greater sign of a confirmed pride than when you think you are humble enough.

-William Law

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Looking at this painting has made me happy as of late. The artist is none other than my own brother. Jake Kidney.

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I wrote a letter to my mom today. I'm not sure why I feel the need to post it, other than I think it's the most honest I've been with my family for a long time. I have this "solid rock" complex where I feel I need to come off stronger than I am. I hope I'm breaking that down, cause I'm not really that strong at all.

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Hey there, sorry I haven't written. Work has been extremely busy and taxing these last few weeks. _______ and I hardly even get a chance to write each other anymore. Things are going ok around here. It's been a pretty tough month in general though. With work being busy, and the stuff getting stolen, not to mention the little struggles with the band, car troubles, the stress of trying to plan a wedding, and trying to work on the house and live a "normal" life, I think it's all starting to catch up. I got to a point where I realized there was nothing I enjoyed in the day any longer, nothing to want to wake up for. Everything had become work and I got no rest anytime. That's partly my fault, cause I had to let it get that way, but I've been working through it. I've been getting up early all this week and taking time to watch the sun come up and read and think. There are times when it seems I've got so much to do, that if I take any time to reflect and be quiet, I feel irresponsible. I'm realizing now how important it is and these last couple mornings have been very refreshing. I look forward to going to sleep so that I can wake up and have my quiet time.

I'm glad you've at least got your house for a little while and I'm hoping you can find what you're looking for in another house. I know the house hasn't been the best to live in, but I remember how excited you were when you first moved in. Just remember how big of a blessing it was.

I've been struggling with the idea of keeping my job. I'm not going to quit any time soon, but it really has started to control my life and I don't like that. I almost cringe every time they give me a raise cause it makes it that much harder to leave and it looks more more irresponsible to the world if I did. I've been so troubled with that in conjunction with everything else going on that I've been starting to make mistakes at work, which makes it even less enjoyable. Failing has never been one of my strong points. I think there will be a turn around soon and I'll be feeling better about it. Conversion happens in a little over a week and I'm sure that is going to be a terrible time, but I'll make it through. I just have to remember how big of a blessing it was to get this job in the first place. I know I'm not meant to stay here for the rest of my life, but the education is has given me, and the finances it has allowed me have definitely put me in a better place. I think once I can snap this losing streak I'll feel much better.

Anyway, yeah, the pic I sent you last night was of landscaping. I think _______ might be sending more pics later. Her mom had a friend come down and do the work for me as a gift. I really looks nice. I got all the trim for the living room cut and painted and it will be going on this weekend. The Offut air show is this weekend too. If you guys are free on Saturday it might be something fun to do.

I still plan on coming to Grandma's for memorial day weekend, though I have no idea what weekend that actually is. I don't think we have any shows but even if we do I can make it for at least a day.

Well, I need to get around for work. Love you.


Wednesday, May 2, 2007


The day started with another early rising. Coffee, the sun, and words on a page greeted me before the stress of the day could consume me. This really set the mood for the rest of the morning. No rush, no stress, just beauty. This morning was different than others though because I would soon be driving to work with my fiance'. Her car has been breaking down continually and was in the shop again, so as soon as I was ready for work I headed off to pick her up. It was nice to start the day in conversation with a person who was actually interested in what I had to say and didn't just need something from me.

Soon I was at work and back to the daily grind, but the day was a bit brighter because it had started off so well. Before I knew it, 10 hours had passed and she was there to pick me up.

We went directly to the grocery store to pick up groceries for the week and while we were there decided to pick up ingredients for a nice dinner for the evening. On the way home we picked up a movie for after dinner. When we got home I commenced chopping the tomatos for brucietta and she started the pasta. We opened a bottle of Shiraz and enjoyed each other's company as we sipped and snacked. When the pasta was done we sat and ate and enjoyed each other's company and conversation.

By the time we had finished it was 9:30 and too late to start a movie. We ended the night dozing on the couch.

I can't believe how much I've missed this. I've ruined plenty of nights that could have been just like these with the way I acted. I would be grouchy after work, impatient at the grocery store, non-conversational and cold on the drive home, and un-helpful with dinner. I don't know why I feel the need to act this way.

I understand that there will be times in the future when I will once again be a jerk. I wish this wasn't the case, but I know myself. I'll act like a fool and forget about everything I wrote today. There will be arguments and hurtful things said. This is unavoidable. This is relationship.

But today I can revel in the wonder of last night. A night that enveloped nearly everything I have looked forward to in a relationship. I look forward to many more nights just like this.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Man in the Mirror

One of my greatest annoyances in life would have to be selfish people. People who cannot look beyond their own nose to see the needs of other people, to give instead of always receiving.

At my work I deal with selfish people every single day. I want this, I need that, I DESERVE more. It drives me crazy and the more I deal with it, the more I realize I'm just like them.

I have become my own greatest annoyance.

When did the world become about me? What makes me so special? I know my inner thoughts. I know my true nature. I above anyone should realize that I am least among the least and should never be considered a model, yet my world seems to be focused on me and what I want.

I'm not quite sure how I got here. I know it's human nature to be selfish, but I don't remember ever feeling as "me centered" as I do these days. Regardless of how it happened, the one thing I am certain is that it needs to stop.

The first step to recovery will be to stop the thoughts that tell me I am important, accomplished, or somehow special in some way. The goal is not to become self loathing by any means, but to reach a level of humilty which is congruent to my significance in the universe. I was put here with a definite purpose by the creator of the universe so I am not insignificant, but there are also billions upon billions of other beings who have been placed in this universe with a definite purpose, so I am no more and no less significant then any one of them.

The next step will be to start fulfilling the purpose for which I was placed here. Music is one facet of my purpose, and I am living that the best I can, but this can't be the only focus. For a long time now it has been. In the persuit of music I have neglected many of the other facets of my purpose such as charity, community, and devoted worship.

When one is consumed with one's own self, one misses out on what is truly beautiful in the world.

I can only speak from my own experience and it may not relate, but if the world seems dull and shallow you may want to start exercising your mind's eye by looking beyond your own metphorical mirror.