Archive for November, 2008

Crossing Maple Avenue

Thanksgiving morning I woke up to my older brother, Micah, accidently wandering into the room I was sleeping in, shocked at my ability to sleep until ten in the morning. I tried to simply roll over and ignore the holidays, but the aroma of homemade cinnimon rolls and cranberry bread forced me out of bed as I wandered the twenty paces to the kitchen in a sleepy daze. 

This was going to be the first Thanksgiving my entire family was going to share together in two years. Not only that, but the Green family was also going to be coming over to our house, for the annual Martinkus-Green holiday extravaganza. These were all things that I didn’t totally think about as I picked away the crust of my cranberry bread and drank my orange juice. The preparations seemed to be finished for our mid-day meal and the excitement was winding down.
“When are the Greens getting here?” I asked my mom.
“Well, I’d say you’ve got about three hours,” she responded.
It was about then that my brother piped in, “Abbey, do you want to go for a quick run before lunch? I’ll show you a sweet park near downtown, and we can explore it!” 

Though I do not run, ever, I thought that the idea of exploring an unknown place sounded exciting and before I knew it I was promising my mom we’d be back before one, and pulling out of the driveway in a little red truck. We sang to the oldies station at the top of our lungs as we barreled down the interstate the twenty or so miles it takes to get to Dallas from Carrollton where I live. 

The park was absolutely gorgeous. The trees were just beginning to change, and the colors were extravagant. The oranges, reds, purples, greens, and yellows hung over our heads as we ran through the the lush fields that ran alongside a rocky creek. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, and though it was in the heart of the city, it was like an oasis of peace and quiet. It was like a dream, neither hot nor cold, and not a soul around. Stone stairways climbed rolling hills, and forgotten formations of rock were hidden behind overgrown areas of greenery.

An hour later we found ourselves climbing back into the little red truck to leave, but instead of turning left and going back to the interstate, Micah said he wanted to show me something else, and we turned right into Turtle Creek and Highland Park. We drove atop brick streets looking at mansions that had fountains in the front yard, statues to welcome their guests, guard towers, stone archways, and marble driveways that mocked the cement sidewalks outcasted by their towering iron rod fences. 
But as we traveled down Maple avenue something strange happened…
 
“This is the line between the richest of the rich, and the poorest of the poor,” Micah said.

Quite literally on the left side of the street was a massive empire built by capitalism, and on the right stood what we can spare through the hands of welfare. Highland Park Mansions on the left, Maple avenue projects on the right.
A group of kids standing around with no shoes on stood on the right side of the street while a man watered his perfectly kept lawn on the left. Uptown lofts leasing for between one and two grand a month on the left, and on the right side a group gathers around a dumpster digging for who knows what, and in the middle, our little red truck, driving so metaphorically between the two.

We got back to my house before one o’clock and the Greens had already arrived, along with my brother-in-law, and a few friends of mine from college. Though Thanksgiving used to be a formal affair in my younger days, now we just pull out the plastic cups and plates and have at it buffet style and sprawl out all over the house. We loaded plate after plate full of food, and refilled soli cup after cup with Dr. Pepper as we told stories, and enjoyed one another’s company. After lunch we played our annual culs-de-sac game of football out n the front yard, and my team took home the Martinkus-Green Heisman, and bragging rights for the coming year. 
All the while my mind kept wandering back to those kids in the projects who had so little, and who live in the shadow of mansions. 

As if on cue, when we went back in the house after our two-touch game, my brother asked me if I wanted to put together some plates of food for the homeless, and go give them out.
“Absolutely.”

So Micah and I went into the kitchen and started to put together plates, and we caught the attention of everyone else. Matt, Philip, Gonzo, and Sam all decided that they wanted to go too, and so each of us towered a plate high with as much food as it could hold, grabbed a water bottle, bagged up some cookies, and borrowed the keys to Mrs. Green’s van. 

Before you knew it the six of us were on a homeless hunt in a Mazda mpv. To the untrained eye it might’ve looked like we were a bunch of teenagers trying to score some drugs in the hood, but quite the contrary we were a mini-van on a mission to feed the hungry.

After driving up and down ally ways, under bridges, and all up and down the more ghetto part of loop twelve we ended up meeting three men, Shelton, Eddie G. and ‘The Rabbit.” We stumbled upon a homeless camp tucked away in the woods behind a strip mall, and gave them some food.

It was a very solemn, sweet time. No one really said much as we watched the hood turn back into suburbia on Northbound I35. I just kind of reflected on life and thought about the real meaning of thanksgiving. I thought about how we typically eat our Thanksgiving meal, and surround ourselves with those who love us and don’t take a moment to love others. And how we rejoice in all of our blessings without sharing even a bit of it. It was a real eye opening time that I find hard to put into words. I think that it’s best explained by the metaphor of Maple Avenue.

Who’s going to cross the street ? 

My older brother said to me when we got home that night, “We may not be the salvation army, but I think we should all give all we can.”
I think that’s the real Thanksgiving. 

The Giving part, more than just the Thanks.

My Bad

Last night I had an epic bicycle wreck.
We were leaving the caf, and a group of us were going to head back to Ruth Cross Hall to hang out for the evening, but when we all jumped in the back of my friend’s truck, someone pointed out that I’d ridden my bike, and I probably shouldn’t leave it behind like a forgotten step child.
I agreed, and went to go unlock it, but halfway through the combination I was challened to a race.

Being the youngest of three kids growing up, I was raised with a sense of pride to protect, and when presented with a challenge such as a race, I have no choice but to accept.

By the time I was on my bike they were starting to “unparallel” the truck from it’s spot in front of Buff Hall. But it didn’t take me long to shoot out from in between two cars and cut them off in the middle of the street. I was biking as fast as I could, pumping the pedals, my legs were hurting, my heart was beating, the chain spinning as I went faster, faster faster…
I glanced over my left shoulder to judge my lead, and saw that I had two or three car lengths on them.

Victoriously I took the corner from in front of the library towards Ruth’s finish line…

Patch of gravel.
Wobble…Wobble.
Lost it.
The bike shot out from under me, the left pedal touched the ground and I had a rather epic booty slide of about ten feet.
I turned around in time to see the truck come to a halt, and all my friends absolutely lose it with laughter.

Shamefully I picked my bike up off the ground and finished my shame ride past a few awe filled strangers, locked up the beast to a railing out front and self assessed my injuries. Aside from a slightly brusied left foot and a small rasberry the only real casualty was my favorite pair of jeans. The back pocket was quite literally torn apart, and could flap around like a little flag.
A butt flag.
A butt flag waved proudly from beneath my sweater as if to draw everyone’s attention to my wipe out.
That flag will continue to wave around WT campus as I refuse to retire my favorite pair of jeans, and as I take up a new hobby of walking.

I am straight up Crip-pled

I am straight up crippled.  It is true.  (I always wondered if I might someday qualify for membership in the Crips as I am crippled, maybe not)  There are many preconceived ideas about us disabled persons so I thought I might bring some enlightenment on the subject through some humorous anecdotes and witty opinions in honor of the recent Ability Awareness Week, a program organized by the Student Disability Services.

First of all, I would like to ask all of you if you are aware of my disability.  Get it?  We’re trying to raise awareness.  I am just joking.  You would have to be legally blind, which is in itself a disability, or completely oblivious to miss the fact that I am disabled.  It is overwhelmingly the first noticeable fact about my personhood, besides maybe my dashing appearance and charming demeanor.

Now, I would like to state that I have been disabled all of my life, which in my opinion makes me a professional.  Due to complications of a Caesarean session, I endured severe brain injuries due to a lack of oxygen to the brain.  Apparently, the brain needs oxygen to operate smoothly.  The doctors diagnosed me with cerebral palsy when I was two years old (they were awfully worried about misdiagnosis and the lawsuits that might ensue, the pansies).  My specific type of CP (cerebral palsy abbreviated) is called Walketh-and-moveth-as-if-intoxicatedeth, a very scientific term probably unfamiliar to most of you unscientific types.  If this term is too much, just call it Pimp Walk Syndrome. 

Much of my childhood was pretty average except that my development was a tad bit slower than your regular Joe the Plumber.  I wasn’t potty trained until age four which is around the time I began to walk confidently without a walker.  Don’t worry.  I am potty trained now at least any time I am not in a pool (I have a tendency to revert when immersed in water).  In elementary school, I had difficulty buttoning my pants which meant that most days I would just hold it until 3:30 (quite painful at times).  Then I discovered my friends could help me button my pants which gave me a unique excuse to invite a friend to the bathroom (sorry if that sounds weird) which meant we could skip some class while goofing off.  Also, I fell so often that I am expert at falling.  I know how to fall in such a way that inflicts the least amount of pain.

Junior high was rough on me (who is it not rough on? So much insecurity and hormones).  I was a sports fanatic who wanted to play so badly.  Unfortunately I could not.  I became very embittered and angry at God that I would be disabled.  Why me?  My younger brother hated sports and just loved to read, why not him?  (I know this sounds horrid, but it was true and horrid)  I also began to think that my disability might affect my relationships with girls.  What girl would want to date a guy who has trouble chewing with his mouth closed and who randomly spazzes out squeezing his fingers through the Styrofoam cup as Dr. Pepper spills all over himself?

By the grace of God, I reached a certain degree of resolution in high school.  I could be an angry bitter person for the rest of my life or I could accept the fact that I was disabled and that was it.  I also began to see it as a blessing in some ways.  You see, really all of us are disabled in some way, whether relationally, psychologically, mentally, or emotionally.  Mine is an obvious disability.  There is no hope for me to hide my insecurities or weakness because I just can’t.  Everyone who sees me knows my weakness.  This has given me a degree of emotional honesty and openness that is rare for a college-aged male.  Therefore, I am very aware of my dependence on others and foundationally on Christ.  God is very much the strength in my weakness.

Besides my upbringing under the teaching of my parents, my disability serves as the foremost foundation of my faith.  I absolutely am desperate for healing, purpose, and redemption.  My heart holds to a hope for a day when Christ will make everything right and there will be no more disabilities, no more illness, selfishness, wars, or any other maladies plaguing our world.  And I will have one sweet resurrected body. When I get that new body, I promise I will beat you if we happen to race.  There are still times that the great deceiver comes to tell me that I am broken, messed up, and no one could love such damaged goods.  It is at this time that I have to remind myself of the truth.  I am broken and messed up yet I am the image of the Invisible and there is One who loves me always.  It is in this relationship with the Eternal God of Jacob through the sacrifice of Christ that defines my identity and not my disability.

In conclusion, I would just like to encourage everyone to acknowledge that really everyone is disabled in a way and the more honest we are about our weakness the better.  You need my help just as much as I need yours.  This is the meaning and purpose of community.

Do not pity me just because you see that I have a disability.  It is okay to ask if I need help because, boy, do I need lots of help.  Especially when transporting liquids without lids.  Do not pity me though.  I have a Savior and Healer.  I do not need any pity.  I have been and will be healed.  Don’t you worry about me.  Also, know that life is not fair.  Please do not be sucked into the dangerous narcissism believing that the world has somehow wronged you.  Get over yourself.  This is essential to happiness in life.  Also, we are not all equal except that we are all disabled in and by our humanity and all have a desperate need for an unconditional love and a hope of redemption.

Thank you to all my friends that help and put up with me and forget at times that I am physically disabled. You are greatly appreciated.

Thank you to all of my professors here at WT for always making such an effort to accommodate me and my disability.

Thank you to Student Disability Services for all of their services and patience with me even when I show up with paperwork for tests on the day of the test.

Thank you to Residential Living who did not discriminate against me when they hired me but has given me every opportunity for personal development and achievement.  And thank you for the grace offered when I fail and patience when I am perpetually disorganized.

Thank you to my parents for raising me with high expectations and without excuses and for pointing me to Great Healer and Lover of my Soul.

An Election To Remember…

As most college students know facebook is a staple of our college community. Most 18-24 year olds would probably admit to checking their facebook before regular emails, or work-related sites. This social networking is a powerful thing, and when combined with something as explosive as Presidential Elections, it can be catastrophic….

The world stayed up late Tuesday watching the news and waiting for the ballots to finish rolling in. And regardless of a McPalin or Obiden victory, some party is going to wind up talking trash, and college campuses were going to explode into midnight political debates. 

Well, as you know, History was made this fourth day of November, 2008. 
We elected the first African American President in Our Nations History. 

Every lobby, on every floor of Cross Hall was filled with girls and guys alike watching the moments tick by, and votes roll in…and though political experts were not surprised by the Obama victory, it seems that most of Conservative West Texas was. 

It was as if right when the news came in, text messages, middle fingers, phone calls, flags, angry words and fists started flying. Type A personalities everywhere were thrown into a whirl-wind of emotion and disappointment, or intimidating “i told you so”s. Students began packing their bags for Canada (though Mexico is much closer), and ignorant voters began to voice their parents opinions, and referencing skits they’d seen on SNL. Abortion fanatics singled out Obama as a baby killer, while others rejoiced in his call for peace in Iraq. Type B personalities such as myself, just sat back and watched the chaos, and wondered if somewhere a riot would break out between all these high strung nut-cases…
Little did I know that the cyberspace riot had begun in the form of Facebook statuses. 

Hmm. 

First of all I’d like to emphasize that regardless of who you supported up to this point in the Presidential Elections, from this point forward you might as well support the President we have, which is and will be OBAMA. The hissy fit you’re throwing doesn’t get McCain more votes, your anger doesn’t shorten Obama’s term, and high levels of stress will give you an ulcer, so deal. 

Second of all, here’s to the lady I saw bouncing around outside the White House on the news with a sign that says “Why Wait Evict Bush Now,” you’re not even lobbying for change, you’re just being a moron, so put your sign down and go read the rule book again, because you’re confused. 

Third of all…. 
Facebook, while fun for sending virtual bumper stickers, chatting it up with out-of-state friends, and procrastinating on homework, is not in fact a legit forum for your McCain vs. Obama supporters to fight with statuses. If your point of view is narrow enough to fit into a 15 character limit, then you should send in an application to Fox News, but if you insist on making a fool of yourself by expressing your political discontent on a facebook status, I feel obligated to tell you, that no matter what you write in that little box, you’re not going to change a damn thing. Either get a real opinion and publish a book, or put on your big girl panties and deal with fact. If you can’t, I’m sure Canada would love to have you. Don’t forget a jacket, I hear it’s chilly. 

And on that note…I toast to you a cup of V8 splash. 
Here’s to the unknown future of our country, the new presidency that awaits us, the conservative panhandle, a better economy, type A personalities plus Valium, constructive debate, the end of facebook stupidity, educated voters, and to change…
 

And with this famous quote I leave you :
“Yes we can.”
_Bob the Builder & Obama.  
 

I’m so glad this is only once every four years. Gross.

Time does Fly!

Where has this semester gone?  I can’t believe that today is already Halloween.  I still feel all unorganized, and like it has only been a few weeks into the semester.  Before too long, or probably now, it will be time for me to start studying for finals.  I can’t believe after today’s holiday is over, thanksgiving is right around the corner, and right after that is Christmas break.  I just feel like this semester has gone by way too fast!

 

            This has been a crazy semester for me, some new friends, a new major, a new dorm, and finally an attempt on trying to grow this brand new facial hair that is struggling to come in.  I think this new major change to Political Science, is my fourth, putting me above the three change average for college students.  I guess I do always have to go big.  Along with the end of the semester, is the end of my money supply.

 

            I can’t believe how quickly I have blown through my money and it honestly all goes to food.  By looking at me you would think I was lying but its true, it has all been on food.   I know along with many others I’m frantically searching for a short term job over break but one that can pay the big bucks.  This search is still unsuccessful.  As this semester is quickly drawing to a close I need to really encourage others to make the most of the time left here before it gets hectic.  All our athletes have been doing excellent this year, so all of our athletic programs are looking for post season play.  Let’s support them while we can, so they can bring back some titles for our school! 

 

            Too bad we can’t slow time down, but since we can’t, make the most out of everyday.  Have a safe Halloween, and a great weekend.  Make sure to hit the books when possible but have fun doing it.  Before too long it will be too late, and you will be going home for the holidays.  Keep it real WT!  Also keep voting for me for real world!