Travels

Letchworth State Park: Beautiful Place, Ugly Name

I was hoping to write something meaningful today. But I wont. Three things have happened which deterred me from writing a “normal” blog:

1. My wife’s previous blog, “When We Were On Fire” is wonderful. How can I follow that up?

2. I have a mid-term for my Econ class today. Leisure and Hours Worked have been taxed.

3. Yesterday, I finished reading “The Great Gatsby.” It was just so good. I feel both inspired and incompetent to write. I’ll need time to reconcile.

4. My neighbors have sex really loud at 9am, almost every day. I’m trying to get used to it. However, I feel one is never suppose to get used to the sound of strangers having sex.

5. We went to a state park the other day, and it was so beautiful that I want to share some pictures. Here you go!

NOTE: Letchworth is a State Park about an hour-ish from Rochester, NY. Hit it in the Fall and you’ll see all the beautiful colors we did. There’s some great waterfalls and bridges and canyons. Everyone here calls it “The Grand Canyon of the East.” We also went to the Grand Canyon this year. Though beautiful, it is no Grand Canyon. That said, if you’re ever up this way, it’s worth your time.

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Niagara Falls and the Speaking, Nasty Universe Pt. 2

When we last left our heroes, Kevin was cussing in a stranger’s driveway and angrily kicking rocks; Megan was hiding, due to embarrassment, from inside of their broken car.

(For part one, click here).

TOWtaly

About six hours we waited. Time slowed down, it seemed. We listened to podcasts; we took walks and explored the street; I peed in the bushes. There was one bright spot when a local, older couple offered us both Pepsi. They left though, and soon we were back in the car, having to pee again.

When 5pm struck, we knew the same-day-Toyota-service-possibility went out the window, so we called around for rental vehicles and prayed for a way home.

Enterprise had one left, an SUV, of course, for $108 a day. There was another place in town, a local shop. They charged only $35 a day with three cars left. The caveat? Well, they closed at 5:30pm.

The last we heard, the tow was coming at 5:09pm.

TOWnality

After six hours of sitting in a black car on a hot day—hating and focusing on everything that went wrong and everybody, including ourselves, who let us down—5:15pm struck, and all of a sudden two tow-trucks slowed down and parked next to our broken Prius.

Two tow-trucks at the same time—it was amazing, like something out of the books. Our luck, if even for a second, was finally turning around.

The first guy approached with a look of horror. He was the one we first talked to, who said we could make it to Toyota if we tried. His name was Dan.

“I am SO sorry,” said Dan, “I didn’t know you guys were still here! Your call was cancelled twice; I thought someone gotcha!” His thick Upstate accent broke a smile on my face for the first time in hours. (more…)

God Has Never Been to Rochester

“God has never been to Rochester,” said my friend, David. Him and his wife laughed in solidarity; I offered a nervous snicker.

Back in June, Megan and I flew over to search for apartments—at that point, the only people we knew on this side of the continent were these two people who have since left the area due to finishing school; border-lined waifs, we now know no one.

“God has never been to Rochester,” he said. The comment stuck. Sure, he was joking, but it stuck.

Where the hell am I moving to? Where am I taking my wife? These thoughts, until recently even, erupted from the shadows and followed me as such.

I remember driving around, on that same trip, witnessing a worn-down and bruised city. A town, much like Detroit, whose rarefied Kodak Towers have since fallen into the dreck, pulling almost everyone else with it.

Has God ever been to Rochester?

The Answer (It’s Yes)

In the four-ish days we’ve been here, the weather has alternated more than I can keep track: humid, rainy-as-Hell (umbrellas are a must), thunder and lightning, sunny-sky-beautiful.

Right now, it’s nice. The sun is out, a few clouds giving shade.

We attended a church today. YES, I know. Mr. Anti-Church went to church. So sue me (please don’t sue me). It was a Grace PCA church, recommended by Tony from A Way With Words—our only known soul on the East—and it was lovely. The people were wonderful, warm, and genuine.

I even liked the pastor. In our few minutes of conversation, I withheld my personal opinions about how he should find a different job.

Him and his wife were incredibly nice, as was everyone we met, and I think we’re going to go back.

Why am I telling you this? Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to write about changing the modern church, only to dive into its arms first thing?

I suppose you’ve got a point.

Rochester, NY, Baby

My initial worries of the area have since fallen away; I’m falling in love with Rochester. So far, it’s a great town with great people. We live in an area called East Ave (near/or Park Ave). It’s absolutely gorgeous. We ordered pizza the other night, and I almost couldn’t stop eating it.

Does the town still have its issues? Does it still scare me? Does driving here make absolutely no sense? Yes, but I love Rochester’s potential; I love its heart, and every day feels a little bit more like home.

Rochester_Fotor

If you’d be willing: 

Continued prayer for friends, jobs, closeness to God, church issues, and cheap furniture.

Your thoughts?

A Hoarder’s Hors d’oeuvre: The Battle of Stuff

How do you spell “stuff” backwards? Well, that’s an easy one! It’s ffuts… as in, “Ah ffuts, I have way too much stuff!”

We all do it. Accumulating unnecessary junk is as American as a DVR taping of Storage Wars.

Stuff happens,” they say, and no one knows how. One day we check the garage and scream for help. In response, neighbors run to our aid to buy our picture frames on the front lawn.

“Will you take thirty cents?”

Consoling the Consolidating 

My wife and I just got back from a short stint in California. We’ll soon undertake a thirty-five hour road trip across the United States from Coeur ‘d Alene, Idaho to Rochester, New York—where we’re moving to.

We’re here in Idaho, our pseudo homebase, to situate the stuff we left behind. Our goal is to fit all of our belongings into one car load—specifically, a traveled Toyota Prius. No big deal. What did we leave behind? One, two boxes?

“Storage,” I heard my Mother-in-Law say.

“Storage?” I asked.

“Storage.”

“But… that’s impossible.”

Not impossible. Totally embarrassing. We had more ffuts than we realized.

A Hoarder’s Hors d’oeuvre 

People naturally respond to their upbringing in one of two ways: unapologetic acceptance or spiteful opposition. I hate stuff; I always have. It weighs you down and gets dusty. No thanks.

The house I grew up in was dominated by stuff, my Grandmother and her books and antiques and collectables. She isn’t a hoarder, by any means, but she’s getting there.

Pre-med is a good term.

In truth, my grandmother is a wonderful woman with a heart of gold, and I’ll be forever grateful of the upbringing I was given. That said, she could stand to get rid of one or two, or twelve or fourteen, boxes.

My wife had a similar upbringing. When we married, we agreed stuff would never be an issue. To us, clutter is a symptom, a sign of disease, and a storage-unit the sickness.

When I heard the s-word the other day, my stomach turned.

Genesis to Exit Us

The storage unit took two full truck loads to unload. Good Lord. 

Rummaging through, I opened a “childhood box” and found my old Sega Genesis. I smiled, remembering my ten-year-old self playing “Sonic.” I soon realized the cables, controllers, and games we’re all missing. In true hoarder fashion, I’ve been holding on to a useless Sega Genesis console for 16 years.

Why? Why would I hold on to this? I could’ve sold it for $20 ten years ago; the other day, I literally placed a $2 sticker on it.

The worst part? It didn’t even sell. I still have it!

Senti-MENTAL

We excuse ourselves by labeling “sentimental value” on junk that doesn’t matter. We then identify this junk as ourselves, equating it to a limb, and say, “How could I ever throw that away?”

Yes, some things worth holding onto—priceless, family heirlooms come to mind—but the Sega Genesis console, or the WWF flag from the toy wrestling ring, probably deserve a second look.

I spoke to my brother in-law the other day about this issue. Eventually, Buddhism and the act of “letting go of material possessions” came up. We also spoke of Jesus. To me, the principle of “letting go” seems just as Christian as it is Buddhist.

Jesus talked about living for each day, like the sparrows. He told people—not everybody, I know—to get rid of their stuff, to not worry. He spoke about having two cloaks and giving the other one away.

It’s time to come to terms.

It’s time to come clean.

It’s time to get rid of my ffuts.

God knows I’m no Saint, and I’ve got my own ffuts to work out, but…

Seriously, what’s up with all the cloaks, people? More importantly, does anyone want a Sega Genesis console? My price just went down.

picstitch

Your thoughts?

The Lie of Nostalgia, The Truth of Home

We’ve been traveling a lot lately—following the West Coast heat wave it would seem.  We left San Luis Obispo, California for Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on June 30th. On the way from SLO, CA, we stopped in Reno to see my mom and then in Boise to see my sister and her kids. We made it back to Coeur d’Alene just in time to jump in the lake on the fourth of July. Long trip.

We’re here for the month. Soon we’ll be making the Great Drive to Rochester, New York where I’m certain our car will explode in protest.

I apologize for the lack of posts, but you know how travel goes. Moving. Yawning. Sunflower seeds. Gum on the seat. Wishing you were home—wherever and whatever home is.

It’s an interesting subject, home; I’ve been thinking a lot about it.

For a long time I confused nostalgia with home. I assumed they were one in the same. I know now they’re not. And while it’s true that one springs from the other—like a seed from a tree or a son from a father—I’ve found that the two are quite separate, quite different.

Nostalgia is a dream. It’s a desire, sometimes sweet but usually bitter. A little nostalgia can go a long way and I believe it’s healthy in this dosage. Quickly though, nostalgia can consume and take root. It’s good to know the difference.

These last six months in California have shown me the difference between nostalgia and home. I always assumed California was my home—the city I grew up in, the town where every street, side-street, and park had a memory—but that wasn’t the case. California is not my home. It’s just a place, a place I once lived. And just like her burritos, California bursts at the seem, overfilled with people I love and places I’d be happy to die in.

But this is not home. It’s just a place.

The few years of marriage have taught me the truth of what home is. My wife is my home. Not any one place in particular, just her. I think home can be a place for some people, but not me. When I’m away from her I’m not myself, nor am I home. It’s just the way it is. Home is her.

Wherever we go we’ll be home—even in Rochester, even without furniture—and I’m excited about that.

Epilogue

I’m working on a blog post for next week and I’m really excited about it. It’s more in the vein of what I usually write. Before I jump back in to the blogosphere, though, it seemed wise to explain my absence and also reflect on what the last couple weeks have taught me.

Thanks for being patient. Stay tuned.

PS: I have a new page on my website. It’s called Top 5 Music, Movies, and Books. Give it a gander and let me know what you think.