Friday, February 19, 2010

Making Lemonade

There is a popular quote, “When life hands you lemons make lemonade.” Well…on Tuesday, life didn’t so much hand me lemons as much as it threw them at my unsuspecting face. And I don’t really feel like making lemonade because some of the lemons are still orbiting, waiting to make their final attack. So instead of making a delicious beverage I am going to follow another famous quote, “When life throws lemons at your head blog about it and then curl up and take a nap.”

Tuesday was supposed to be an adventure, the type of adventure where the participants travel to a far away land on the back of a unicorn to find a wonderful feast waiting for them. It was not supposed to be the type of adventure where the participants travel through the worst weather possible, get lost in a jungle, get chased by cannibalistic tribesmen (tribesmen who wear nothing but loin clothes and want to eat your pet dog named Snickers), trip over a log and sprain their ankles, get to the feast late, find out they don’t have a seat, and then only get to eat scraps of the wonderful feast that is being held. Then they finally arrive home after a three hour car ride in a blizzard they realize they left their camera in the coat check back at the feast. This adventure I am talking about was a Switchfoot concert in Chicago. And there weren’t really any half naked tribesmen but there might as well have been.

The drive to Chicago was actually pretty pleasant. We didn’t get lost at all and I found out that Shamrock Shakes are back at McDonalds. The only down side to this part of the trip was that I had to listen to country music AND a Josh Groban Christmas CD because I was out voted by the three girls that accompanied me. The problems started as we approached Chicago. It was rush hour, which means we saw old men with walkers passing us on the expressway. We finally found our exit and GPS took over (by GPS I mean Brittany Marshall’s sense of direction in the otherwise confusing concrete jungle that is down town Chicago). She gave me all the right directions, I just missed them. And every time I had to loop back around because of one way streets stress level rose. We finally decided to leave our car in a parking lot that doubled as a McDonalds. It cost $12 an hour to park there but if you bought food you got one free hour. After parking and leaving the car and walking a couple blacks we decided it was to expensive to park at the McParksalot and moved the car to a Walgreens where parking was free but not allowed for long periods of time. We risked it anyway.

We finally made it to the House of Blues where the concert was at about 7:15pm (It actually started at 7:00pm). When we entered the HOB we were frisked and the security guard found that I was concealing a camera (which for some ridiculous reason was banned from the concert). So he made me pay $5 to check my camera at the coat check where a lady who had already had too much to drink and could barely speak English handed me a ticket to remind me to pick up my belongings. I put the ticket in my wallet and moved on. As we climbed the 18 flights of stairs it takes to reach the venue we started to hear the screams of a dying cat mixed with the crying of 2 year old with a harmonica stuck in her wind pipe. When we reached the top we realized that the sound was actually coming from the opening band called “Paper Tongues.” There were no seats, and there was no standing room left within sight of the stage so we wondered around until the screaming stopped and I bought a t-shirt and a CD. We finally found a spot to stand right behind a giant pillar where we had to watch most of the concert on a 19” LCD screen and were constantly distracted by dozens of flashes from the cameras no one were supposed to have.

Switchfoot was amazing! And the lead singer Jon Foreman almost made up for our horrendous view by climbing around the old opera house like a cat with monkey fingers and a really good health insurance policy. They played almost every song of their new album “Hello Hurricane” and even left time for the older unforgettable Switchfoot anthems like “Gone” and “Dare you to Move”. Our eyes were blocked from seeing most of the show by four elderly men trying to reclaim their youth by head banging and some sort of seizure dancing but our ears were reminded that Switchfoot is one of the most talented, creative, and entertaining bands touring today. (If you haven’t picked up their new album you should be ashamed of yourself.) I would not recommend seeing a popular band in concert at the House of blues because they just don’t have the capacity or enough good site lines to be considered a great venue.

When the concert ended and Switchfoot took their final bows we made a dash for the exits because we were all tired of standing on our toes trying to get a glimpse of Foreman swinging his guitar above his head and we desperately desired the comfortable seats of the Malibu. Also, we were all secretly racing back to the Walgreens in hopes that we would get there before our car was towed. On our way out I ran right past the now fully drunk Asian lady at the coat check with my ticket still out of sight in my right butt pocket. We got back to the car a pulled away from the Walgreens before anyone stopped us and charged us for parking. We got out of the city quickly enough but it was on the expressway that I made a navigational error. I exited the expressway 60 miles before I was supposed to. (To bad GPS, a.k.a. Brittany Marshall, doesn’t work out side of Chicago.) I was on the right road, just way to early. So instead of cruising down I-94 at 70 mph we were stuck behind a livestock truck on a back country road going 40.

When we got past Michigan City the blizzard hit. Apparently, cutting out Indiana’s snow plowing budget was the way the state battled unemployment this year because none of the roads (expressways or back roads) had been touched. And if they had it was by a teenager with two ice skates stuck to sideways to the bottom of his car. I am thankful for those two ice skates because they made enough of a two track for me to tell which way the road was turning. It took us 3.5 hours to complete a trip that should have only taken 2 hours. When we got home I realized our camera was still with the Asian lady in Chicago and didn’t care enough to lose any sleep over it.

So here I sit three days later drinking Sprite because I’m to bitter to make real lemonade and holding a coat check ticket that is worth the price of my camera + the cost of shipping that camera from Chicago to Elkhart + the $5 I spend to check the camera in the first place all the while thinking that a glass of lemonade actually tastes pretty good right now and that a nap isn’t really necessary. I was in a bad mood Tuesday because the concert didn’t go the way I thought it would. Today, I am laughing at myself because of all the stupid errors I made that caused the concert to not go the way I expected it to. Sometimes stressful situations make us realize that the lemons life threw at us were actually lemonade the whole time and that God was splashing us in the face to wake us up and help us take ourselves less seriously. ‘Cause once you get past the stinging in your eyes, being splashed in the face with lemonade is actually pretty funny. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s day has been around for years…over a thousand actually. It is the reason we have the colors pink and red, the reason we have little hearts with stupid messages on them, the reason guys hate roses, the reason so many people are born in November and the reason some grown men get a chance to wear a diaper, shoot a bow and arrow while pretending to fly if only for one day. But now Valentine’s Day has come and gone again. Those of you who are glad it’s gone probably don’t even call it Valentine’s day. You probably call it something lame like Singles Awareness Day to make yourself feel better about not getting anything. For those of you who like V-Day, I hesitate even writing this blog because it might cast a shadow over your wonderful Valentine’s experience. But the truth must be told…

Most people believe that Valentine’s Day was born to remember some old priests who eventually became martyrs on February 14th, 269. I do not want to make light of sacrifice of these men and their devotion to the Lord but I must say that this is not the true origin of Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is the result of the World Holiday Summit of 1329. The summit was held in what used to be known as the City of Corinth and was the Brain Child of Valerie Smith and Alfred Tines. The purpose of the Summit was to create a new holiday between Christmas and Easter. They invited their mutual friend Guy Lasier to help argue their case.

You see Valerie was an elementary aged teacher who simply wanted a day off from teaching where she could just let her students eat candy and write notes to each other all day without consequences. Alfred Tines was the owner of a small greeting card company that desired to make their name (originally Wallscratch but changed to Hallmark when popularity grew) known around the world. Guy was simply that…a guy…a guy who was sick of treating his girlfriend properly all year long and desired to have just one day to make her feel really special so he could ignore her needs the rest of the year.

These three plotted together to come up with a holiday that would accomplish all of their goals. They gave the holiday the name Val and Tines Day which was eventually shortened and changed to Valentine’s Day. They used the story of three martyrs killed on February 14th to cover up their true selfish motives, provide them with a convenient date, and validate their holiday’s name (the three martyrs all shared the name of Saint Valentine). The publicized theme of their holiday was celebrating love. They got the idea from 1 Corinthians 13 which is of course the love chapter of the Bible and is part of a larger “love” letter written to the people of Corinth where this fraudulent summit was held.

With no reason to do otherwise, the jury, conveniently made up of 10 catholic priests and two candy heart makers, voted to make Valentine’s Day and Internationally celebrated Holiday. Ever Since that fateful day, those of us who celebrate Valentine’s Day follow in the footsteps of its creators. Guys drive frantically to the grocery store to buy roses for their wives and girlfriends before all the not-so-wilted ones are gone and hope to find some clearance sale candy before it’s too late. Teachers sit back and watch little Sally give Timmy a heart shaped Valentine. Then they watch Sally run crying to the girl’s bathroom because Timmy used her Valentine to wipe his nose and clean the dog poop of the bottom of his shoe. And worst of all, Greeting Card companies sit back and watch billions of dollars roll into their pockets as people of all ages pay $5.95 for a card that took $0.04 to make in a factory in Japan.

Well I’ve had enough! By all means celebrate Valentine’s Day! Make it special! Spend $50 on roses that won’t last two weeks. But don’t let be any excuse to be lazy the rest of the year. Maybe, you can celebrate Valentines on another day too. Maybe you can treat your wife, girlfriend, husband, boyfriend, mom, dad, dog, pet rock, lizard, broom in the closet, hamster, or package of bacon like you love them every day of the year and not just on February 14th. It’s just like Sundays at church. If you don’t acknowledge God the rest of the week, do expect to catch up on your worship on Sundays. Happy Val and Tines day! Thanks for Reading!

Post Script: The Story Posted Here in no way reflects reality. I made it up…for fun…because I thought the real version was boring…and I like to make up stories…and eat bacon…and……………….fart sometimes.