Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Good September to Start the Year

Mid-Autumn Festival holiday destination (yes, we got to the parking lot of Wulingshan and then turned around and went right home after driving for three hours).

Hai Di Lao hot pot (yes, I am holding a plate full of heart-shaped watermelon chunks and baby tomato rabbits).

C&S Fair (yes, the only way they listen to me is if I am on a chair).

Liu Li Library (yes, a fifteen-year-old student from my school is building a library in a ghetto in Beijing)

Graffiti party (yes, there are flowers on my nipples and an extremely inappropriate word written in Chinese on my stomach). 

Beihai Park (yes, with two awesome ladies but just one me).

Forbidden City, North Gate (yes, there are still people in the world who haven't gone through there)

Homeroom E10H (yes, they are that well-behaved, hard-working, and good-looking despite being under my control).

2013 Beijing Hope Run (yes, that kid thinks I am the man, and yes, I wore that wig the entire eight kilometers).

Jingshan Park sunset (yes, my camera was on "super vivid" shooting mode...)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Night, 2013

I want to write something. But I don't know what to write. So here is some stream of consciousness from a Sunday night in Wangjing.

Here I sit on my couch, carefully eating leftover pasta that I actually put some effort into (thanks, Nasty Nate) last week, basking in a sweaty t-shirt and shorts after an ill-advised run (thanks, 2013 Beijing Hope Run, scheduled for next Saturdayin Chaoyang Park), feeling my quad and hamstring muscles slowly tighten up as I continue sitting here (thanks, lactic acid), contemplating whether to shower and get a haircut or text Ramon and see if he wants to get a yogurt or go get some strawberry juice or just keep sitting here (thanks, complacency), listening to a "Night Beds" album that my brother sent my via Dropbox (thanks, brother), observing the impending autumn in the temperature that drifts through my open windows (although that could be pollution)(thanks, windows), and glancing occasionally at the stack of essays I should be grading (thanks, E10 Lit Fun).

I'm going to keep writing.

My brain is thinking about how cool my weekend was: a huge DJ concert at Worker's Stadium, a sweet talk on the phone with said brother, a mostly-failed trip to Wu Ling Shan with some folks, a nice barbecue, the worship music that I was lucky enough to help play at church, a tour of central Beijing - boating in Beihai Park and a sunset in Jingshan Park, the most hilarious hot pot meal I've ever consumed, the nap I didn't take, Dawner and Elizabeth Sharpie ©, and a Chuar Friday meal at the beloved Green Place...on Thursday. Yes, it's true.

I am also thinking about the fox.

There are other things circulating around up there, too: the upcoming nine-day National Holiday vacation, Nasty Nate's well-being, the fact that I couldn't hang out with the girl I like tonight, the number of assessment tasks I will accumulate and have to grade this week, your mom, and getting the most modestly-priced flight to New Zealand for Chinese New Year. Bigger. But these items take a back seat to the awesome weekend. Focus on the present.

Even larger thoughts, things with more weight, are up there somewhere, too. The travel list: Yunnan, Harbin, Tibet, Vietnam, Mongolia, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Lebanon. Next year: stay in Beijing, leave Beijing and live somewhere else that isn't America, leave Beijing and go back to America, leave Beijing and go the moon. Vocation: keep teaching, check in at the YouthWorks! office, look into an admissions job at Bethel, sniff around the youth ministry job market, Workaway, live in a van down by the river, Peace Corp. Hmm.

Those can get pushed back as far as the trunk. Focus on the present.

The smell is getting to be too much. The essays are calling my name. My hair is getting in my eyes. It's time to go. Shower. Grade. Cut. Stretch. Sleep.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Prayer of Thanks

Dear God,

Thank you that the C&S Fair went smoothly on Friday, that it is over, and that I did not die a horrible death in the process.

It is true that it was sort of a ridiculous idea to cancel all of the middle school classes for the morning and have a fair for the volunteering program (Community and Service) at my school. But you let it happen somehow, Lord. It's true that some of the things I planned - originally dodge ball but ultimately an amazing and insane obstacle course/ball war game that Gaspar brilliantly concocted - had nothing to do with C&S, and that some of the other things that I planned - the brainstorming session in which students ended up just venting their frustrations about their math homework volume - weren't very useful. And it's true that even the things that did to go well - the activity booths where students could sign up for projects at the school - might not ever come to fruition. But! You opened the door for this, God, so I figured I'd better step on through.

You knew that, since I am totally and completely a slave to my OCD, I would go just about nuts trying to plan out every detail of this event. But you kept me just on the safe side of loco, through the late nights of filming and editing promotions in my living room, the myriad of e-mails sent to hundreds of people, the hunt for volunteering projects to offer, the recruitment of individuals to share volunteering stories, the rain that forced a last-minute emergency relocation plan, and the discovery that the comely lady who helped me with the fair was preparing red and pink heart-shaped balloons to hang everywhere. Thank you.

You blessed me with patience even though I didn't sleep much, organization in my communication even though so much of it was flippant and rushed, teachers and students who stepped up even though it inconvenienced them, convenient space to move the booths out of the elements even though it was a mess, and apathy about the red and pink heart-shaped balloons even though I hate red and pink hearts. Thank you!

Please, use whatever it was that was accomplished last Friday to make the world a better place, and to get my students to meet their quota of C&S activities. May they be inspired to do amazing things by the tales of stepping on homeless drug addicts, by the bustle of other projects at our school, by the jokes I tried to tell when explaining C&S, and by the bruises they got from Gaspar's war game! So many opportunities to give them ideas. I lucked out that this even happened. Thank you!!!


I didn't really think about anything else all week. I wasn't really teaching; my classes were just an annoying distraction from planning the fair. I didn't even pray as much as I would have liked to. But, I tried to do as you have said to do, Lord: just wait on and trust you. I did, things went fine, and now it's is finished.

Cool. Thanks again, God.