Monday July 31, 2006


Everyday I work, I spend a lot of time in the bathroom.  Not only does my day include clenaing a lot of bathrooms, but I also in the habit of going several times a shift.  If I have to go before work, I hold it and I always go before I leave.  This is because it is inevitable that I spend some time each day in the bathroom and I figure if I have the option, I might as a well get paid for answering the call of nature.  Does everyone practice these principles?  I realised that in some ways they are revolutionary.

Today I asked somehow how he was doing and it replied: “I’m still on the green side of the grass”.  I was left with an internal debate, by this unusual response did he mean

  • “I am not buried in the ground; I am still alive” and hence doing pretty well
  • “I am on the other side of the fence, where the grass is greener” and hence that he doing better than me.

What an interesting response: you that could be interpreted as both the common ‘I’m doing well’ and the offensive ‘I’m doing better than you’!  Though I am becoming confident that he meant that he was doing well, I thought I would share and maybe get another opinion.  What do you think?  Can you offer another interpretation?  Is this a common expression?  Would you mind if I started using it?

That may be all I have to give.  Take care,

Thursday July 20, 2006

an update on the job.  after more than two weeks on the job as an environmental services technician at the hospital, i am ready to update the xanga world about my job.

[edit: upon re-reading, this is a long entry with many different moods.  sorry.]

So far, so good.  I’m a janitor, which means that I clean a lot of bathrooms, empty a lot of trash cans, and mop a lot of floors.  I have cleaned in the children’s hospital, ER, labor and delivery, neonatal, and on a medical-surgical floor.  As the incomparable Julie Larson has pointed out, this vocation provides a nice mix between introversion and extroversion and she could not be more astute or correct in her assessment.  I interact with patients frequently, but am also left alone to think, pray, or sing.  All in all not bad.

There have been a few learning experiences.  When working in labor and delivery, I learned than c/s on the whiteboard does not mean ‘clean and stock’ (which is what notifies me that I can mop the blood off the floor and change the blood soaked sheets–birth is a messy process), but in fact stands for a c-section.  that’s an important distinction.  here is a conversation i had today at work.

man: hey man, how you doing?
me: i’m doing good, just mopping your floor.  how are you doing?
man:  i would be doing better without this (points to foot wrapped in bandage); i’ve got gangrene.
me:  that’s too bad, but i’m sure they will have you walking out of her in no time.
man:  they are going to amputate my foot.
me: oh (shit).

my, that was some learning experience.

and though i am really enjoying it, i am glad it is temporary.  i am look forward to my breaks, my afternoons, the weekends, and most of all north park in the fall.

in my more introspective moments meditating on covenant history, i think often of Zenos Hawkinsons articles about work.  I find that quite relevant and they are starting to accurately frame my thoughts towards my work.  Read the end of Anatomy of the Pilgrim Experience: Reflections on Being a Covenanter, especially his passages entitled I Will Serve the Work, He Satisfied my Strength with Labor and A Statement about Myself to my Fellow Pilgrims (a statement written for and directed at fellow North Park professors), if you want to know what i am talking about.  Here is a sample:

often quoting Dorothy Sayers: “no crooked table legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare say, came out of the carpenters shop in Nazareth”, Hawkinson writes: “So I think that one authentic Christian response is: ‘I will not make junk’.” In another essay he writes: “my war with the world (and with myself–and sometime with you) is a war against junk.”  I feel that these lines, which he inherited from his father, are worth sharing with you.

God acts in many contexts.  [God] satisfies
our physical hunger with bread,
our thirst with water,
our intellectual curiosity with knowledge,
our loneliness with loved ones and friends,
our sickness with medicine,
our weariness with sleep, and
our strength with labor.

Is this too serious a way to view a summer job as a janitor?  most likely.
is this a symptom of an obsession with covenant history?  probably.
but does a well mopped floor bring glory to God?  absolutely.

Sunday July 16, 2006

this xanga entry will be dedicated to old people.  in particular, my grandmother.

that young woman is my grandma.  some of you north parkers have had the privilege of meeting her.  she is now slightly past 80, but is still very much alive and kicking.  i am writing about her because i have tried to connect with my family over break and this will serve as a good update.

last friday my grandmother and i went to a local grand rapids favorite, Arnies.  she ordered a sandwich, ate half of it, and then gave me the other half and all her chips because she was worried i would go hungry (i am home alone because me parents are volunteering at CHIC).  i am going to her place for pork chops on wednesday.

she has lived her entire life on west side of grand rapids.  as a result, she knows a lot of people.  and as a result of old age, a lot of her friends and peers are passing away.  my grandmother attends a lot of funerals, something that seems very sad and odd for a young lad of 21.  death seems very distant to me, but my grandmother has to deal with it frequently.

jim (with mohawk) on the left, grandma rita on the right.

a few years ago she was part of a lawsuit against a large factory.  she was fighting to keep a group of retirees insured, though she herself still covered by my grandfather’s policy.  though the retirees lost the lawsuit (limited amount of money for ever increasing legal fees), i admire her for fighting for something that did not immediately benefit her.  when the city was replacing the sewers in front of her house, she tied herself to her tree so that it would not be cut down as planned.  she won this battle and the tree was saved from the bull dozers.

she now resides in a retirement community and though she claims not to like many of her neighbors (often referring to them as ‘the inmates’) she is quite involved there as a well.  she is frequently taking people to appointments or shopping for a neighbor who cannot get out and still volunteers weekly at a second hand shop.  her life is still exciting and i am often surprised at her stories of being accidentally exposed to by the old man next door and when she frightening young boys to the point of wetting their pants.

expanding, but still keeping within the realm of old people, i have also enjoyed reconnecting with the older generation from my church.  i often feel that my congregation back home is too white, too rich, and too conservative.  Cynicism is a strange thing.  However, I am often jarred out of this mindset by observing the older generation.  There are only a few specific moments, but my general feelings towards the 60+ generation are quite positive.

i suppose there is no real reason for this uncharacteristically deep and serious xanga entry.  i just thought i would dedicate this xanga entry to the older generation.

i am now off to read in the air conditioned comfort of a local bookstore, enjoy some chocolate zucchini cake i baked earlier, work on today’s crossword, possibly enjoy dinner with my brother, and get to bed early for i have work tomorrow morning.


Tuesday July 11, 2006

greetings xanga users.

a lot has happened since my last entry.

I donated blood for the first time.  After a mandatory poke of the needle, I realise that my phobia was rather irrational and unfounded (but aren’t all phobias?) and that I could brave a little poke of the needle to give a fluid I had in excess.

I went to my friends wedding.   He was my best friend/neighbor all through elementary school, middle school, and high school and though we have drifted apart in our post high school years, it was still strange, but good, to see him get married.  Wedding was nice and casual, and due to Jessica Peterson’s vegetarianism, I was eating for two at the reception.  Score!

I started work at the hospital.  I work as a janitor in the Childrens Hospital, though eventually I will be trained to do labor and delievery and the ER.  Thus far it has been good.  A lot of mopping, but I am enjoying it.  I’ll know more once I get more settled in.

Tonight I went to a girls 21st birthday party.  With my mom.  It was my moms friend.  As she, the birthday girl, not my mom, kicked back a few beverages, I had the depressing realisation that my mom is more popular/less socially awkward than I am.  Oh well.

I also realised that I am settling into the rut of middle age prematurely.  Today, I went to work (7-3:30), came home, watched some tv, read the paper, took nap, ate dinner with my dad, read some more covenant history, went to a bar with my mom, and now I am home.  And I will be asleep within the hour.  Exciting life?  Not really.  But that’s okay with me.

That is about all I have to write at the moment.  Peace.

Sunday July 2, 2006

summer goals have been created and declared on xanga, now that some time has passed, let us evaluate, amend, and chart progress.


  • Read a lot.
    • I don’t know if I have achieved this, but I have read a fair amount thus far.  It has all been good, interesting, and non-fictional.
    • An incomplete list
      • Divided by Faith
      • Poems by Wendell Berry
      • By One Spirit
      • Gödel, Escher, Bach: The eternal golden braid.
      • Anatomy of the Pilgrim Experience (again)
      • Savage Inequalities. By Jonathon Kozol (currently reading)
    • A short reading list for July:
      • The Autobiography of Johnny Cash
      • The World is Flat
      • Guns, Germs, and Steel
      • The Shame of a Nation
      • Anything you recommend.
  • Get a job.
    • Check!
    • I am happily employed as an Environmental Service Technican, which means I am a janitor.
    • All of this pending an eye exam, one which I recently failed without my glasses.
  • Learn to repair bikes.
    • No good.
    • It took me a very long time to attach a rack to the back of my bike.
    • Still, I will persist.
  • Garden
    • My thumb is green.
    • Vegetables are surviving, albeit in odd forms.
    • Flower gardens are relatively well weeded.
  • Minor Home Repair
    • Not really.
    • Maybe should have started with room cleanliness.
  • Become physically fit
    • I run occasionally and bike occasionally.
    • I drink pop occasionally and overeat occasionally.
    • I say this is a zero sum equation.
  • Investigate Math/Philosophy
    • I have read some.
    • I did email professor; needless to say, he never responded.
  • Learn a language.
    • I have done nothing to achieve this goal.
    • I am a weak man.
  • Write letters—maintain friendships.
    • Without offending anyone, I think I am doing okay at this.
    • Email is the easiest, write me and I will email you back.
    • Need manly cards to continue.
  • Learn to cook more dishes.
    • Again, so-so.
    • All attempts have been successful, but number of attempts is still rather low.
    • Tomorrow may be a day for preparing dinner and baking some treats.
  • Spend time at the Westside Library.
    • Done, though employment may lessen time here.
    • Downtown library is awful nice too.
  • Travel Somewhere.
    • I have made it to Northern MI twice and Chicago twice.
    • Not bad.
  • Obtain cell phone charger.
    • Check
  • Heal cracked heel.
    • Bought some heel cream from Meijer.
    • Application has been infrequent.
    • Some cracks and roughness remains, but it is better.

Those were the goals and the progress I have made.  Still a lot to tackle.  New goals will be added shortly.