Archive for April, 2009

April 29, 2009
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Filed Under (Life, Ponderings) by justin

A picture might be too much.

It is my unfortunate responsibility to inform you that I no longer have a roommate. Following a few weeks of sickness, minimal eating and rather disturbing croaking, he was relegated to that great terrarium in the sky.

Honestly, I’m over it.

And I don’t think I’ll replace him.

See, Twerp and his environs were yet another manifestation of a perversion I’m discovering in new and varied corners my life: potential.

I’ve always been told I have potential. Certain events supported that notion. But somewhere along the way, I began to confuse potential with achievement. Learning precluded graduating. A quick start forestalled a strong finish. Flexibility delayed function.

And how does a dead turtle teach this?

To know that, you must know my turtle as I knew him.

Twerp’s story begins last summer when I began considering ways to make my apartment less sterile without becoming plush. It was a delicate balance for a guy who would happily accept the label of metro, but refuses on principle to invest the time or money to achieve that end. Life seemed an appropriate addition.

I got a plant from a leaving teacher and planned to get a fish. Then fish fever break out among the foreign teachers. I suppose it’s pride that disallows following a trend you start, but fish were no longer an option. My fourth-floor friends came to the rescue with a turtle. I realized the need to upgrade his living space from the plastic cube he arrived in, and secured a turtle tank big enough for swimming and equipped with ramped basking deck. Somehow, it never went anywhere from there. I knew where and how to get stones for the bottom. I planned for plants to decorate the place and provide him a more balanced diet, but I never did. I envisioned a spectacular microcosm of life and color and joy. He died never knowing how nice his world could have been.

In Memoriam of Twerp: (sometime before) 19 September 2008 - 19 April 2009

In Memoriam of Twerp: (sometime before) 19 September 2008 – 19 April 2009

So, in memoriam of my reptilian friend, I’ve dedicated myself to restricting my experiential base and building some sort of structure on it.

May we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.

April 18, 2009
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Filed Under (Happy Dance) by justin

My happy dances are contagious. As planned, at least a few of my students have picked up on the idea of looking for special little things in their lives. Hooray.


April 17, 2009
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Filed Under (Finds, Life) by justin

At long last.

No more late-night debates. No more chic snobbery. He has spoken.

God has a favorite coffee, and I think it may surprise you.

He’s not down with the old favorites, nor the trendy startups. Obviously, nothing sold at Starbucks.

You may want to sit down.

Marxism Coffee: God's favored brand!

Marxism Coffee: God’s favored brand!

This fundamentally alters so much of what we’ve been taught. Mr. David Muse, we need to talk.

Of course, with an endorsement like that, I had to buy it. I’m drinking it now. Is it wrong to disagree with God’s opinion on coffee?

April 16, 2009
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Filed Under (Ponderings) by justin

I’ve been waiting six weeks to say this.

Now I can’t.

See, way back at the beginning of Lent, a friend rather provocatively stated his Lenten pseudo-fast. Of course, I immediately needed to mimic it. I found enough dignity to hold off by rerouting my energies into crafting and anticipating my end-of-Lent proclamation: Justin Jones is giving up Lent for Easter.

Genius, right?

Unfortunately, I learned something during Lent.

I came out of Easter backwards. I’m walking away from Easter, on a path leading through Lent. Put more directly—I’m enjoying new life, and realizing what makes it new.

Confession of the day: Despite all the talk about it, I didn’t get the cross. Still don’t really, but I’m getting closer.

And I came at it backwards, really. See, over the last few years, I’ve gotten a better handle on what that new life is about. Not that I am in any way indicating I live it. But I am understanding better all the time—constantly moving toward it. It’s been nice.

It didn’t take long to see the distinction between my mind and my body, however. My knowledge and my doage. So that had to change. But it didn’t. No matter how much I thought about changing, I didn’t. I learned more than seemed appropriate on topics foundational to life. Aristotle was failing me. Is failing me.

Then it all came crashing home.

That’s why it’s called death.

April 11, 2009
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Filed Under (Ponderings) by justin

Today concludes my third observance of Lent. It was my most profitable and least effective observance yet. I think the paradox is the point.

Some of you know the struggle the Lenten fast was for me this year. Too trivial, and it undercut the point of observance; too meaningful and it undercut the reality of the life I’ve been continually granted.

I hit upon my plan after carefully evaluating my purpose in Lent. It was a chance to identify with death in order to better identify with new life. My plan was simple—kill myself. That is, cut away some areas of my life where I catered to desire, traded utility for indulgence.

Stop laughing.

I planned it as an ongoing project: 40 days of quashing indulgence whenever I saw it. A day and a half had produced a list long enough to engage my attention for the next 38.5.

My cold was the first thing to throw it off.

Not even a week in, and I wasn’t indulging to hit snooze—I was just getting the sleep I needed in order to function as a teacher. I had a responsibility to my students. It was a necessity. So was the long shower—it really reduced the physical ravages of the cold.

You’re in a body too. You know what comes next.

I was actually hungry. The snacks were better than a full meal. I didn’t want to indulge. A little sugar would help me focus. It would be rude to refuse such an offer. My priorities had to shift. Others had expectations. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I had planned this time, knowing I would need to relax.

So after forty days, the old me is still alive and well.

I’m starting to get it.