Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I got took.

I get approached quite often for change. I am not sure why I do. I look poor usually. I don’t drive a fancy car, in fact when in Denver I can usually be found riding my bike. But I guess to your average homeless person that makes me rich, or at least someone who might have a quarter. Sometimes I don’t mind giving a little change, other times I feel like an ATM when I get asked multiple times by the same people every time I see them. Sometimes I buy sandwiches or a bottle of water for them over handing them change.

One time I was offered change. It was a weird feeling. I was not having a great night I parked my car where I was not supposed to and when I later returned to retrieve it, I saw that it was gone. It had been towed. I had to wait at a 7/11 for my dad to come and pick me up to go and get it back. I was sitting on the curb drinking a coke when a drunk lady held her hand out to me offering me her change. I was taken aback and then told her “No thanks, I am fine.” I immediately checked my attire and general look to see if I really looked in need of change. Truth is I was in need of money it was going to cost me $300 or so dollars to get my car back. But 50 cents just felt like a drop in the well.

Like I said living in a major city I am used to getting hit up for change. I have come up with ways to avoid people I think are going to ask me. Sometimes I just say sorry no change before they even get a chance to ask. Other times I just say no as I walk by hoping they don’t hear the jingling in my pockets. I blame it on my keys sometimes. I was walking to my car the other night when a person asked me for money. This guy didn’t look homeless. He was a tall guy probably around his early twenties, and nicely dressed. He didn’t smell like liquor when he got close to me and didn’t slur his words as he spoke.

He told me that he had run out of gas and had also left his wallet somewhere else so he had no way to pay to refill his truck. He told me that he would get me 50 dollars later on if I could just help him out. I took sympathy on him. I had no cash on my person but told him that I would go to the corner store just down the street and use the ATM. I was just going to give him a few dollars enough to buy a couple of gallons and get him to his wallet. But I ended up just handing him the twenty. We then exchanged numbers and he said he was going to call me later and figure out where to meet me to get me my $50. That never happened.

As it got later I kept on waiting for his call and as it got later I got this increasing feeling of being a sucker. I had his number; I still have it in fact. I thought about sending him a text telling him that he didn’t need to give me any money. Telling him to consider it a gift. But my motivation wasn’t out of generosity but instead to try and get rid of this feeling of being a sucker. Its easier to tell yourself that you are generous rather than stupid.

The guy never called me back; it’s a week later. I am over it though. I came to terms with my stupidity. Still though if someone comes up to me asking for change or gas, I might give it to him or her. Its just money.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Grass is Always Greener and the Other Fish is Always Bigger.

I have never been crazy about fishing. Every couple of years I get a desire to go fishing. I really think it’s an excuse to spend time in nature without having to do all the work of hiking. But I do enjoy it whenever I go. Its been this random part of my life. I remember the first fish that I ever caught. It was in a pond on my uncle’s property, the same pond that would later be the scene of another monumental fishing exploit.

I used a Red Devil fishing lure. That’s all I really remember about the catch. I am not sure why I only remember that detail. But I do know that every time I see a Red Devil fishing lure it reminds me of that day. I remember that my older brother caught a fish that day as well. His was larger than mine, and that upset me a little.

My Dad lined us up next to each other and wanted us to hold our fish aloft while he captured the moment with his camera. But he wanted us to hold the fish by sticking our fingers through the outside of the gills and into the inside of the fish’s mouth. Neither my brother nor I was willing to do this. I had images of the fish not being quite dead and attempting some last ditch effort to escape by biting my finger. So we reattached the hooks we caught them with and used those to proudly hold our fish in the air.

Years later I had a chance to spend some time again at my uncle’s property. I also had a chance again to fish that same pond. I went there with two of my cousins. We were having a mediocre time fishing all we had caught were a few fish that were too small to keep. I was getting frustrated and tired when I felt bite, it was strong, the fish was big. Immediately I felt a surge of energy and a rush of adrenaline. I started reeling, the fish continued to fight against my line. It jumped out of the water in this majestic fashion reminiscent of what you seen in the fishing shows you see on ESPN when they have nothing else to show.

As I continued to reel the line in, I called to my cousins to come closer and give me hand bringing the fish out of the water. You see we had neglected to bring a net with us. This usually did not matter seeing as how fish had never been caught in this pond before that were strong enough to break the line. I reeled it in and my cousins were there to grab it as I lifted it out of the water into the air, but upon attempting this, the line broke. And with a splash the fish fell back into the water and swam away.

I was shocked, I was disappointed, and I was upset. The largest fish that I had ever had on my line was gone. After saying their condolences my cousins went back to their rods and continued fishing. I decided to do the same. So I tied a new lure on the line and cast it out into the pond. I fished half-heartedly after that. Still feeling sorry for my self. Cursing my self for neglecting to bring the net. My mind raced with all the “if only” possibilities that would have led to a successful catch.

I also prayed. I prayed fervently to catch another fish. I wanted one. I needed redemption. This gave me more energy. I focused on the possibility of what else could be in this pond. I did not think that fish that big existed here. But time was against me. The light was fading and as the sun lost its intensity the mosquitoes escaped from the shadows they had been hiding in.

I was almost ready to give up hope, when I felt the line go tight and saw the end of the rod bend towards the water. At first I was unsure of what was happening, I thought I had snagged a sunken log, or some of the plant life that resides at the bottom of that pond; it would not have been the first time for me to do so. But just then I felt it fight, and it fought hard. But I was unsure of its size. Unlike the first fish this fish did not let me catch a glimpse of it until it was close. My cousins run over to help me and we run into the same dilemma. How do we get this fish out of the water without breaking the line? I start lifting the fish out of the water and trying to bring it over the land so that if the line snaps again at least the fish would land on the land when the hook gruesomely rips out of the fish’s mouth and the fish falls landing half on the land and half in the water. Before either of my cousins, who were crouching on the shore, had a chance to do anything, I drop to my knees and grab the fish, and throw it away from the water, the same way a grizzly throws a salmon out of the river when it is in mid jump.

As I examined the fish; it was hard to tell if this fish was bigger or smaller than the last. I think that this second fish was smaller; the one that got away always seems bigger.

Saturday, February 6, 2010



Timothy sat down and introduced himself to me as the guy who has to come into this bar later and clean the floors. This is one of the last bars in the city to allow smoking, but they don’t have ash trays so all the cigarette butts end up on the floor. He set down two beers that were both for him and had a newly lit cigarette in his hand. The whole time we talked I don’t think that he took one drag from the cigarette. He explained that people in the other room were mad at him for beating them all at pool. We started talking about jealousy. We started talking about this because everyone in the room with the pool tables was jealous of his skills, and he talked about it was the same when he was in college at USC. He explained that he was the 4th person in the nation to receive a scholarship for Frisbee. And because of this everyone was jealous. He couldn’t understand why people cant just celebrate others achievements. I completely agree with him. I gave my opinion that too many people feel entitled so they get upset when they see people get things that they want themselves.

Now Timothy very well may be a bullshitter. It’s a good possibility. But if he is, he is a really good one. He told me details that were almost meaningless. They were either the details of very well rehearsed story, or this was actually true. He told me that he has been shot. I actually believe this. He was shot in the leg and he lifted up his pant leg and showed me the scar. I believe it. Where the bullshit may lie is in the details. But I will describe them to you as Timothy told me. You see Timothy used to be a professional poker player, and over the course of his career he made millions of dollars, but obviously he had not been smart with it if he was now cleaning the floors of a bar. But the truth is that a irresponsible gambler is not entirely unheard of. Poker became a sport so that gamblers could call themselves athletes, it sounds better. Bad athlete even sounds better than bad gambler. Rabbit trail. Back on course. So he was traveling from Vegas to Illinois for a large poker tournament that had a million dollar buy in.

He was gassing up his Cadillac late at night at a gas station that was in the middle of nowhere. He had $300,000 cash on his person and another $200,000 cash in his car. He had $250,000 worth of jewelry on his body. He was walking into the gas station to pay for his gas when a guy with a shotgun walked out followed by a guy with a handgun. Timothy had a gun too. But it was in his car. The guys then told him to give them his jewelry, money, and car keys. He agreed. He started pulling off all of rings and trying to stall by explaining to them all the features of the rings. What kind of diamond, how many karats, where he got them. Didn’t work. He took off all of his jewelry and the cops still hadn’t arrived.

They then demanded his money; he pulled out of his pocket a wad of $50,000. And instantly he was shot in the stomach, and then once in the leg. He woke up six weeks later in a hospital in Chicago. He now has no money and no car. He is in Colorado because that’s where he ran out of the money that a friend had given him. He now works in a dive bar. Interesting. Right about that time a couple friends of mine walked in the door, so I excused myself from the conversation, but before he let me go he said this. “Find whatever it is your good at and do it, and don’t let any one try and stop you, I’ve been shot and stabbed and I’ve lost it all, but I know who I am.” I will probably see this guy again, I go to this bar pretty often and he said that he is there every night. He is a pretty good storyteller, so I might let him bullshit me some more. Or he could be telling the truth.

Monday, February 1, 2010

From Trash to Dinner

I some times eat food from dumpster. There, it’s out there, actually sometimes is probably not the right term. I often eat food from dumpster. I go looking in dumpsters for food. I make late night excursions to a few dumpster around town that I know have yielded fruit in the past, and not just fruit, let me list some of the things that I got out of dumpsters on my last search, popcorn, canned coffee drinks, frozen pizza, lettuce, bread, Naked brand fruit Juice, spices, doughnuts, coffee, and food is not all, from behind a sporting goods and outdoors store I got a bike rack and a ski rack for my car, from another dumpster I got a signed picture of Siegfried and Roy with their tiger (I am not sure if it’s the same on that mauled Roy)

Is it safe to eat food that came from a trashcan? That’s a legitimate question. I think yes. I take steps to make sure its safe. I stay away from dairy, I don’t get meat, I clean anything that is not packaged before I eat it, I check expiration dates(I don’t always follow the expiration dates, unless it is dairy) 95% of the food that I get is packaged never comes in contact with anything else that is in the dumpster.

Why do this? I do this because it saves me money. I can get a lot of food from the dumpster, I filled my car the last time I went, the whole trunk and back seat. I then try to distribute the food to others who would want or need it. I do this because I am upset by the amount of waste that exists today. An apple has a small spot on and it’s thrown away, when the area could be easily cut out with a knife. I went to a dumpster of a distribution center for one of the major natural food grocery store chains and saw a stack of boxes full of bread. On this stack was a sign that said “missed shipment, do not touch.” The bread was not expired or anything, it just missed its truck and then was subsequently thrown away. I also do this because its fun. I enjoy sneaking around buildings late at night and jumping into dumpsters. It’s a scavenger hunt.

Is it legal? It’s a grey area. Dumpster diving itself is mostly legal, but the dumpster themselves are mostly on private property and so you could get into trouble for trespassing. The people who threw it away have no ability to charge you with stealing, but the trash company can. How is this? Well the dumpster that the garbage is thrown into belongs to the trash company and then technically whatever is thrown in there belongs to them as well. How much any of these laws are enforced is a grey area also.

These are just some thoughts on this subject. Dumpster diving is not for everyone. But maybe you can be more thoughtful about what you throw away.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Separation Anxiety

A man comes on the bus wailing and crying into his phone. I over hear that he is talking to his mom. The tone in his voice immediately peaks my interest. I over hear that social services is about to take his son. He received a phone call from them saying that if he didn’t get home right away they would take him. He just barely manages to communicate this in between sobs. He talks about other problems he is going through. Some girl, I presume a wife or girlfriend, is just getting out of the hospital, his truck has been repossessed, and he is in the middle of moving. Most of these are problems I have never had to deal with. I feel like I would like to help him, but I feel overcome with inability. What could I possibly do or say to give him any comfort. As I sit there I say a prayer. I pray that the God who loves family would keep his together and also make them into a family pleasing to him. The truth is that I don’t know the circumstances. Is there real cause for his son to be taken away? Or is there an ex-wife making accusations against him? There are a lot of scenarios that could be possible. I know prayer is very powerful, but do I substitute it for action? I think maybe I do. I need to learn to do both. I think that both prayer and action done in faith can be very powerful things.

A woman tries to give him comfort after he gets off the phone but he is too upset to listen to anything she has to say. She is in mid sentence when he yells at the bus driver to let him off he needs to transfer to a different bus. He steps off the bus and throws the drink in his hand into the bush and screams in anguish. He is visibly shaken and upset, and understandably so. He obviously loves his son. The thought of loosing him has moved something so deep at his core that he cannot hide his emotion. I wonder if God the Father felt this way as Jesus was being led to the mountaintop to be crucified. His son, against whom false accusations were being charged, was about to die. Maybe even the Father, who has the ability to see the outcome, was over come with grief. Maybe that moment of separation was almost unbearable for Him. It was almost unbearable for Jesus who was wholly God, and wholly human.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Broken House

I was reading an email from a Christian organization and the writer mentioned a "return of prosperity." These three words got me thinking about the prosperity that we once had as Americans. I say as Americans because the prosperity was pretty much limited to America and the western world. So this desire to have this "return of prosperity" is a somewhat ethnocentric desire. I am not writing this as a attack on the individual who wrote these words, but I think that we as Christians need to take a look at what our prosperity looked like to the rest of the world. We need to examine the prosperity that we so wholeheartedly took a part of, and we need to decide if that's what we really desire to return.

I am not going to write a lot about this because I have not done all of my homework, but I would recommend a couple books for people.

Jesus Wants to Save Christians - Rob Bell, Don Golden
The Irresistible Revolution - Shane Claiborne
Jesus For President - Shane Claiborne, Chris Haw

Friday, February 13, 2009

Nuff Said.

"Why do they have no altars, no temples, no images?... What shall I build Him when the whole world, the work of His hands, cannot contain Him? Should we rather not make a sanctuary for Him in our souls? The whole heaven and the whole earth and all things beyond the confines of the world are filled with God... I would almost say; we live with Him. What a beautiful sight it is for God when a Christian mocks the clatter of the tools of death and the horor of the executioner; when he defends and upholds his liberty in the face of kings and princes, obeying God alone to whom he belongs. Among us, boys and frail women laugh to scorn torture and the gallows cross and all the other horrors of execution" Minucius Felix AD 200