Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
So, before we launch into this monstrosity, a few notes are in order:
First, obviously, this is not complete. I'm sure that I've read dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of short stories which I forgot about as I was working today. I didn't go back to my childhood books or scour the backlist of Harper's and New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly issues that I've read. I probably forgot a ton of Updike, Boyle, and Coover stories as a result.
Also, I left out some good humor pieces from The Onion, McSweeneys.net, and Modern Humorist because they seemed more like comical essays than stories. Plays and scripts had to go too, as well as graphic stories and comic-type stuff. Finally, I recalled collections of flash fiction which would have doubled the size of the list, so I dropped them as well. This was simply because I wanted to make the task more manageable, not because any of these things don't qualify somehow.
I've put an * by stories that blew me away. I'll probably do a "top twenty" in the next few days. So here is the list:
· No Cry of Distress in Our Streets
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
· Half of a Yellow Sun *
· The Stepfather
· City of Clowns *
Thomas Bailey Aldrich
· Marjorie Daw
· Santa & Son
· The Poor Thing
· The Damned Thing
· An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
· God Lives in St. Petersburg *
· The Pamphleteer
· Blinded By the Light
· Wild Child
· Chainsaw Apple
· We Have a Pope! *
· The First Chapter
· Justin M. Damiano
· DJ and Emma, A Story in Two Parts
· The Life of Captain Gareth Caernarvon *
· The Case of the Severed Hand
· Heart Suite
· Fat Ladies Floated in the Sky Like Balloons
· The Candidate in Bloom *
· New Boy
· What it Means When a Crowd in a Faraway Nation Takes a Soldier Representing Your Own Nation, Shoots Him, Drags Him from His Vehicle and Then Mutilates Him in the Dust
· The Only Meaning of the Oil-Wet Water
· On Wanting to Have Three Walls Up Before She Gets Home
· Climbing to the Window, Pretending to Dance
· She Waits, Seething, Blooming
· Your Mother and I
· What You Eat
· Young Professionals
· I’ll Change Completely
Jonathan Safran Foer
· Red Dresses
· Color Plates (Series)
Andrew Sean Greer
· Colton Wicks
Edward Everett Hale
· The Man Without a Country
· The Adventures of Bad Badger
· The Luck of Roaring Camp *
· The Outcasts of Poker Flat
· The Right Eye of the Commander
· Good World
· Rappaccini’s Daughter
Kaui Hart Hemmings
· The Minor Wars
· Draft Text of a Proposal for a Focus Group Study on How Best to Relate The Discovery of El Dorado, City of Gold
· The Liar
Rachel Haley Himmelheber
· Happiness Reminders
· Fire: The Next Sharp Stick?
· Cindy Stubenstock
· J. Johnson (with Posy Simmonds)
· Prince of the World
· Rip Van Winkle
· The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
· Night Train
· Hubcap Diamondstar Halo
· Judge Gladys Parks-Schultz
· Roy Spivey
· How They Took My Body Apart and Made Another Me
· I Know What You Did Two Moons Ago (The Revenge)
· The Little Sisters of Eluria
· The Lemon
· The Hitchhiking Game
· Magda Mandela
· Perkus Tooth
· Hot Pink
· The Monster
· Stop That Girl
· Two Prayers
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
· A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings *
· Leaf Storm
· Tuesday Siesta
· Elyria Man *
· Benito Cereno
· People are Becoming Clouds
· One Day This Will Be Yours
· Hark the Herald
· Judith Castle
· In a Bear’s Eye
Joyce Carol Oates
· Bad Habits
· The Gathering Squall
· The Sky Blue Ball *
· Death Mother
· The Hand Puppet
· Schroeder’s Stepfather
· The Sepulchre
· The Hands
· Labor Day
· The Collector of Hearts
· Elvis is Dead: Why Are You Alive?
· The Omen
· The Sons of Angus MacElster
· The Affliction
· Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
· Hidden Lives of Lakes *
· Everything That Rises Must Converge *
· A View of the Woods *
· The Enduring Chill
· The Comforts of Home
· The Lame Shall Enter First
· Revelation *
· Parker’s Back
· Judgement Day
· The Probability of Great Events Sets Life in Motion
· Sixteen Jackies
· Somoza’s Dream *
· The Smoothest Way is Full of Stones
· Christmas in China (O-E-O-E-O!)
· Why Not a Spider Monkey Jesus?
Paula W. Peterson
· Big Brother
Edgar Allan Poe
· The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfall
· The Balloon-Hoax
· Mesmeric Revelation
· Ms. Found in a Bottle
· A Descent into the Maelstrom
· Von Kempelen and His Discovery
· The Fall of the House of Usher
· The Murders in the Rue Morgue
· The Purloined Letter
· The Tell-tale Heart
· The Premature Burial
· The Pit and the Pendulum
· The Masque of Red Death
· Man’s Fate – 98: Learning to Love Again, A Story in Three Parts *
· The Promise of Something
· Hooper’s Bathhouse
· The Railway Nurse
· The Monkey and the Snake
· A Perfect Day for Bananafish
· Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut
· Just Before the War with the Eskimos
· Down at the Dinghy
· For Esme – with Love and Squalor
· Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes
· De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period
· Fourth Angry Mouse
Heidi Jon Schmidt
· Blood Poison
· On Views and Viewing
· J. Johnson (with Nick Hornsby)
· The Specialist
· Hanwell Snr.
Frank R. Stockton
· The Lady, or the Tiger?
· Donal Webster
· The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg *
· The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
Deb Olin Unferth
· Deb Olin Unferth
David Foster Wallace
· Another Example of the Porousness of Various Borders (VI)
· Yet Another Example of the Porousness of Certain Borders (VIII)
· Mr. Squishy *
· The Soul is Not a Smithy
· Incarnations of Burned Children *
· Another Pioneer
· Good Old Neon *
· Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature
· Oblivion *
· The Suffering Channel *
· The Circus Elephants Look Sad Because They Are
· What Keeler Did to His Foot in the Navy
· My Hustlers
· The Lost Boy
· No Cure for It
· Gentlemen of the Press
· A Kinsman of His Blood
Friday, June 26, 2009
The idea, I guess, is to emphasize that they gave up temporary enjoyment for an eternal reward or a more fulfilling occupation.
Today, Britney was walking home to her apartment carrying two bags of groceries. She saw us as we were leaving, ran over and threw her arms around Ruthie, still holding the bags. She then ran around the car to give me a hug. After that, she ran back over and rejoined her dad.
When I think about living here in the International Village, surrounded by lively neighbors, exotic foods, incredible cultural diversity, and a group of kids who are so open-hearted with us, it's hard to feel like we gave anything up.
Sure, there are things I want to add to our life here. I miss the creative scene in Chicago. Bad stuff's gonna happen. I get extremely lonely some days. At some point, we'll want to give up. When that time comes, we'll have to put the good and the bad side by side and pray for the wisdom to rediscover our joy.
But all in all, I can't imagine a more enjoyable way to spend the here-and-now. we're having a blast.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
1. Once we have done everything prudent to secure our apartment, I need to realize that it will never be completely safe. I realized through this whole thing that if such a silly little plot was enough to throw me off, I need to correct my attitude about the home. It really isn't ours to worry about.
2. The whole thing is actually an opportunity for us to grow closer to J and JC. Ruthie and J had a long talk today about grace, a concept he had never heard of. She told him about how we felt hurt by what he had done, but that we cared about him, and wanted to work together to rebuild trust.
J was tearfully repentant, and wrote the following in a letter to me while I was away at work:
"To Ean, I am so sorry I broke the rules and went to the house. I promise I'll never do it again. Love, J."
JC, on the other hand, avoided Ruthie, refused to discuss the break-in, and was even loitering suspiciously around the apartment later. We need to figure out how to deal with him. It's still pretty uncomfortable knowing that a kid wants to break into your house as soon as he gets the chance.
Thankfully, after all the hubub, we had an amazing evening with our friends Josh and Margaret Feit. We went over for dinner and ended up playing foosball and swapping stories until near midnight. Their company was exactly what we needed.
And now, my dear readers, sleep is exactly what I need, so adios until tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I have a video game that J wanted. I told J he'd have to wait until I beat it to borrow it. J's friend JC was mad about not being allowed to go to the bike workshop because of his age. So J and JC hatched a plan to get the game and get back at me.
After the activities were over, they came in to look for JC's keys, which he said he left there. It was a lie to get inside. While JC pretended to look for his keys, J unlatched the window. JC pretended to find his keys.
I saw J peeking around the corner to make sure I was in the dining room. Not sure which of them to keep an eye on, I looked once more at JC and then went to check on J.
By the time I got back to where J was, JC pretended to find his keys and they exited. I watched both of them to see if they were carrying anything out. When I saw that they weren't, I went back and checked in the activities room. Nothing was amiss.
When Eric and I returned from an errand, I saw kids scatter from around our window, and I realized exactly what the whole thing had been about.
We had come home too soon for them to get all the way inside, so they slammed the window shut with the draw string for the blinds still hanging outside.
I went out and found them right away and told them that the next time anyone tried to break into my house, I would call the cops. J lied about it. JC shrugged and walked away.
It's not a big deal to lose stuff, but to have kids that we invite into our home try to take advantage of us and steal from us, is pretty rattling. I didn't talk to their parents or my friends with the PD or management yet (all of these thoughts occurred to me), because I don't want to do anything out of anger.
Some discipline is certainly in order, but I may not be the man for the job. I honestly can't say I'd be doing it out of love. We'll see what clarity of mind and/or heart the morning brings.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The classic picture is that "professional" ministers shoulder all the burdens of their people until a suitable replacement graduates from seminary. The idea that seems to have replaced that is that ministers reproduce themselves, and you have a trickle-down replication process. This is a step in the right direction, but I think we could do better.
Reproducing myself in others would rob them of the power of their own journey, and it would make for a pretty boring church (although, I admit, such a group of followers would have great taste in movies and music).
So when I work with immigrants and refugees, I'm not thinking about how to help them understand how to do what I do.
I want to help them do what they do best, which will minister back to me in turn.
Think of it this way: Aziz has the power to reach people with his visual art. So I'm not gonna try to turn him into a writer. Bayo is a well-dressed, high society kind of guy. I'm not out to convert him into some flip-flop wearing borderline beatnik like me. Junior is a stubborn and wild kid. I have no interest in turning him into a contemplative, easygoing person. That's my thing, not his.
Each of us has a role to play in the kingdom. Our own stories put us in a unique position to live unique lives. Now that others look to me as a mentor, I consider it my job to help them find their own places in the grand story of God's relationship with His world.
Lord knows this world couldn't handle many more guys like me anyway.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
David got to ride on the bike he built in the program. Melvin's bike is still in progress, so we borrowed one for him. They both struggled with the endurance aspect of the ride, but seemed to have a good time and feel proud after it was all over.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I stayed to watch the drama portion, and the leader involved the kids in a New Testament story about freedom. Aziz played the madman, a young latino guy played Jesus, and the rest of the kids were Legion, clinging to Aziz, whispering to and echoing him. The presentation gave me goosebumps.
So much of Christian teaching focuses on supplying the correct answers. It's beautiful to see a program where they draw kids into a story and an experience as well.
That idea is central to our work with Refugee Arts. We are into engaging and ministering to the whole person. The arts are some of the best tools to do that because they get into the creative, feeling-oriented places in the heart.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I haven't been to the beach in at least two years, so I felt a childlike glee as we rode waves and burned ourselves to a crisp all day today. We left late in the afternoon, and after sorting out a few car problems, we took the seven hour drive and just arrived home (at 2:15 AM).
I made the mistake of checking my e-mails before bed, and now I doubt if I'll get much sleep tonight.
Anyway, the important news is that we had several opportunities to talk with old friends about our new work. It was helpful in two ways:
- We were able to talk through our vision and activities in a fresh way
- Our friends spoke uplifting words about Refugee Arts and where it is headed
So from here on out, I'll be doing some writing about the grand movements guiding the relationships you've been reading about (and experiencing as you watched videos, hosted village gatherings, and visited our home). Stay tuned.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
When the mulch was sifted and lunch was eaten, we decided to do one more job before we left. which was the unloading of a truck full of debris from a landscaping job.
So as we went about doing this final service to our planet, dear old Mother Earth sent two yellow jackets to sink their pointy behinds into me. I took it in stride, of course, knowing that part of living in harmony with nature is knowing that nature is not always kind.
By the time we got home, my body was covered in Mother Earth's second gift to me, a torso full of wierd, itchy bites.
So, dear readers, take a can of spray paint and a styrofoam cup. Break the cup in pieces and litter it upon mother earth's surface. Spray the aerosol can until it's empty, then toss it in a river with a delicate ecosystem.
Mother Earth is out to get us, so we'd better get her first.
Friday, June 12, 2009
A small knock, low on the door, caught Ruthie's attention today. When she opened it, Britney stood there, trying not to cry. She had come home from the playground to find no one at her apartment.
By the time I returned home from the bookstore, Britney sat on the couch with a book and some cookies. I picked up a short story anthology I was reading, and we sat together in the living room, reading, watching our iguana clamber around by the window, and laughing as Britney stumbled over bigger words.
Every few minutes, we took Britney back to her apartment to check for her parents, and she finally got in.
Of course, this happened on the very day when I was thinking about the privilege of opening your home to people.
There's a common practice around here of taking people out or meeting them for things, but not letting them into our homes. I feel like it's a shame. When we invite kids or strangers or foreigners into our homes, we invite Jesus in.
I feel like Britney's presence in our home today, and the presence of all the kids and adults who pass through our apartment, is more a gift to us than it is to them.
So, readers, here's a challenge: Bring someone you don't know that well into your home, open your life to him/her, and see what happens. Post your experience in the comments field or shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com. You'll be shocked at how God reveals himself.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Good news: it turns out Eric isn't dead after all. We had a great time celebrating his birthday at Communicycle, Stone Mountain, then the Waffle House.
I've been meaning to post pictures of Communicycle for months now.
We regularly bring some of the older kids to a nearby warehouse where husband-and-wife team Josh and Margaret Feit head up a bike workshop. The "build a bike, earn a bike" program lets our kids learn how to take a bike apart, clean it, and rebuild it. As a bonus, they get to keep the bike at the end.
This has been a huge help to us. It gives us an environment to connect with the kids who don't really dig the whole arts-and-crafts focus of our activities center. Tonight Eric and I brought Ariel. As everyone worked, I was able to capture these totally candid, unposed pictures
Because we were at home, and because our work was at home, we ended up working through our days off for two weeks in a row. As you can tell from the picture above, I was determined not to let it happen again.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Ruthie picks up the refugees she works with and brings them to different communities, where they share their lives and testimonies across cultures. Grace Fellowship is very focused on reaching different people groups, and the event was a huge success.
Rania and Randa brought Rosada and Rayna to help them sing "Jesus is Alive" in Arabic. Check it out:
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Spent today working on getting the newsletter printed out and stuffed in envelopes. It's now ten at night, and I still have hours' worth of work left to do before tomorrow.
Thankfully, a YMCA team was here to work with the kids, and Tim Cummins helped us get new tires for our car when we couldn't afford them. Two extra worries taken care of.
Some days it seems like there is more to do than you could ever get done, and then something happens that puts you out of commission for hours that you didn't really have free to begin with.
Pray for us. It's hard to work our day jobs, keep up with all the logistical stuff, and still have some energy for the actual person-to-person ministry.
Monday, June 1, 2009
After getting a YMCA group going with the kids at our apartment complex, then running 5 miles around Stone Mountain, I picked up Aziz to do dinner at our house. We looked through a database of Charter schools in his district, but the information was difficult to decipher.
Any educators out there who can help me figure out if any of the charter schools in the area are good for Aziz? I'd really like to get him into a strong program ASAP for several reasons. The main one being that he wants a better education.
Aziz noticed a picture of Van Gogh's "Mulberry Tree" on our wall, and really connected with it. He had never heard of Van Gogh, so I gave him a rundown on the artist's struggle with depression and the distinct look of his pieces. And of course I had to mention the ear thing.
On the way home, we stopped by Michael's and spotted a giant sketchpad. We had given him one of Ruthie's old easels, so the sketchpad seemed like a good way to put it to use.
He looked at the size of the pad and remarked, "I'm going to need to put a lot more information in my drawings now."
I can't wait to see what happens.
Yesterday, our close friends and family joined us at Clarkston International Bible Church (CIBC)for our comissioning service. We took stock of where we have been, how we got here, and what we hope will happen with our work here.
A little about the crowd: Directly behind me is Alan Hill and his wife Emily. They are the parents of my high school friend David Hill. I spent a lot of time with their family when I lived in the Philippines, and they are now leaders at CIBC. They're heroes to me.
The dashing young couple in green and yellow shirts beside me are Adam and Kristi Fites. Our friendship with them has been, well, super cool. They have a big impact on what we do here, and I secretly think of Adam as a mentor, although I don't want him to get a big head about it.
Next to Ruthie are her mother, father, and aunt, and on the far side is Vanessa, one of the kids from Huntington Creek, where we do much of our work.
Behind the camera is legendary missionary Tim Cummins, who is pretty much responsible for us meeting, getting married, and coming back to Georgia to work.
We rise or fall with our community, and with these people around us, the forecast is pretty good.