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I Bought a Guitar! & Sabbath Rest

October 29, 2009

Late last week I bought a wonderfully tacky zebra-striped guitar from my friend Marc. After leaving school, we walked down to the department store across town. This place has a wonderful variety, really: ironing boards, bikes, washing machines, and acoustic guitars!

Well, after playing every cheap, poorly made guitar there, I decided that cheaper is better in this game. Top of the line was still entry-level guitar back in the States, so I feel like I made the right choice. Plus, I’m probably not going to take this back to the States. Flying with a guitar is way too much hassle.

Well, long story short, Marc ended up buying a guitar. Not me. But he sold me his old guitar that he purchased at the same shop a year earlier. I only paid $40 for it! Thanks, Marc!

Now Josh and Jeff are not going to be happy about this purchase, because I seriously annoyed them with my guitar “playing” while at PBU. I’m a bass player, I don’t know chords yet. I used to sit and play Jeff’s guitar for hours, it calmed me down, but I think it drove my roommates crazy. In fact, I know it did. Sorry guys! I am going to actually learn how to play now.

Here’s a picture of my new baby zebra:

My new zebra guitar

Now if I am in a herd of other zebra-striped guitar players, I will blend in.

I spent this Monday in quiet reflection. It was an amazing time! I feel like a different person now, thinking much more clearly. I also had a great time with God down at the beach during some crazy weather. The wind was so strong that I was literally being lifted up from the pier. It inspired me to write a song. My first song on a guitar! I will post a video as soon as I figure out how to record it.

In the meantime, I want to share this poem with you. I have been working on this poem for a very long time. It began as, you know, one of those temporary moments of clarity we all get from time to time. I am finally at a point when I can say it’s finished. I wasn’t happy with it for a long time because I felt like the message of the fullness to come is too vague. I wanted to communicate a sense of the timeless pattern of the world, both in a wonderful and a destructive/degenerative sense.

I thought this was appropriate to share because of the great rest and refreshing experiences I’ve had this week. Let me know what you think!



In The Heart of a Forest Fire

Out west, I tell you, we will all someday be gobbled up by forest fires.

We will burn burn burn like temporary trees. Our limbs especially golden,

and, I tell you, this all will turn into the sun, soil, and saplings.

I saw you reading under a willow tree;

The branches scattered light

that danced like the surface of the water,

or like ice cubes, half raw.

I used to push my thumb into the thinly frozen top

and drink up the icy-cool filling, then crack the cube between my teeth.

Did I tell you that I want to create a puppet show?

One with leaves that play as silhouettes.

They would pulse, breathe, shake, and be still.

And I don’t want them to fade, a selfish plea.

The world groans with a thick frost, and nothing gold can stay.

I saw you reading under a willow tree,

talking to the shadows cast upon your flowery dress.

Do not fade away.

I made the comment that we speak like children:

vibrant and fleeting is the heart of our conversation.

Don’t forget the eternal trees.

And feel the unreasonable truths they teach:

“Some shades of gold remain forever”

as an answer to the groaning world.

For we are always becoming ourselves in time,

and, I suppose, this is the mystery.

Soon the earth will rest.


Communist Ice Cream & “How is She Beautiful?”

October 22, 2009

I was in the store yesterday picking up some things for dinner when a pile of bright-red ice cream bars caught my eye. Ice cream has a tendency to do this to me, so I promptly went over to check out what new goodies were in the freezer. What I found was at one time confusing and delicious. CCCP Ice Cream! CCCP, as you know, is the Cyrillic letters for former USSR.

It tasted just like sugar and milk...

It tasted just like sugar and milk...

I don’t know how I feel about using a communist name or symbol for capitalist enterprise. It just seems cruel– case in point: look what happened to poor Che

Moral reservations aside, I had to buy one. Not too revolutionary… but what is?

Along those lines, I’ve been working on a book for a little less than a year now. Rough transition, I know, but maybe you’ll see what I mean when you read the excerpt below.

It’s coming along alright, but honestly I’ve taken about 4 months off from writing. That is, until tonight. I started editing from the beginning and I thought I’d share a recent revision on one of the earlier conversations in the book.

The book is titled “Conversations”. It’s a working title, but that is basically what the book is about from a structural perspective. This particular conversation takes place in chapter one between two euphoric young men who lack words to express themselves effectively. You can read the rest of chapter one here.

I appreciate your comments. Enjoy!


from Conversations:

How is She Beautiful?

Caleb suddenly spoke from the kitchen:

“The tea’s about ready now Deema. White or black?”

“I’ll take only a bit of milk, Caleb.” Demetri said with noticeably more conviction the second time around.

“Ah, alright. You’re in luck! This cream is astounding. And fresh! I watched an old Amish woman ladle it out of a giant steel vat when I was up in Lancaster last week. Honestly, Deema, I had almost forgotten that milk came from cows!”

“Hah, Caleb, way to get connected! I applaud you for upholding the Agrarian Standard. Have you been reading that book I gave you? The Wendell Berry one… Ah, never mind, We’ll talk about that later. But honestly, the milk sounds wonderful. And thanks again for this tea.”

But as Caleb sat down with the two tea cups, he did not pass one to Demetri. Instead Caleb sat with the steaming black and white mugs before him.

“I need to let them steep for the exact amount of time, Deema. Three minutes and fifteen seconds. You understand? Typically it’s three-to-five minutes, but I know this tea, and any time over three minutes and fifteen seconds embitters the drink. Trust me on this one, Deema. I’ll prepare it for you and you can tell me if I’m crazy, alright?”

“Caleb, I don’t think you sound crazy at all—” Demetri began to explain, but was suddenly cut off by Caleb.

“Or maybe I am going a bit mad… You tell me… Sometimes I feel like a perfectionist resisting perfection.” Caleb was always this way, finding just the right words to sum up his whole heart, mind, and strength in one confusing phrase. This nugget of poetry would usually take him nearly the whole conversation to explain. He went on.

“Take this morning, for example: after doing the dishes my ice-cube tray was slightly layered beneath the freshly cleaned baking pan –only in the smallest degree!—but I could not just let the dishes remain that way. So I moved the pan to separate them, but the ice-cube tray was then shifted into a diagonal position.

Well, of course then I had to put my drink down, for this took real effort and full concentration. With both hands I straightened the pan and the tray into parallel and adjacent neighbors, and you would think I could then leave these poor confused things alone! But I can’t. If something –anything—approaches near perfection, I must do my part to complete the picture. But Deema, I walked away this morning from those perfectly clean dishes weakened and unhappy because they were too perfect. You understand? They were grid-like and unmistakably arranged by some human or machine. I had a strong desire to go back into the kitchen and ‘mess them up a little,’ just to make it seem like a natural arrangement. I am a perfectionist resisting perfection, everything has its place but me! There is a natural order but I feel entirely lost, and I only confuse the things I touch, disrupt their beauty… Now what do you think Deema? I value your opinion. Am I as mad as I think?”

Demetri sat for a few seconds, considering deeply what his friend had just shared with him. He had been in such euphoria this morning, but now he felt as though he could not find the right words to express his burning passion at all. He wanted to share a deep word, this spirit, with his friend but there was something blocking them from truly communing. He then began to think about the precise word to label this disruptive feeling that crept up inside him over the course of the last few minutes.

“Faithlessness!” Demetri suddenly exclaimed, though intending the word for a fresh and markedly more silent perspective upon his own introspection. Caleb, however, thought Demetri’s exclamation referred to his perceived “condition”.

“Ah yes, Deema. Perhaps you’re right. My love has become faithless,” he then paused to reflect, though only briefly before picking up his thought again, “’Faithless’ is the exact word to label myself! Why haven’t I thought of that before? It all begins with faithlessness. My desire for perfection, while never quite leading towards satisfaction, rooted in lostness… I will never be content!”

Caleb did not stop to consider the ramifications, the implications of what he had just stated, but instead continued on enraptured in himself. His arms conducted, with great sweeping motions, the atonal orchestra that were his words.

“But wait!” He interrupted himself, “I just had a thought. Hear me out Deema, and then let me know if it makes any sense to you at all.” Caleb began to speak out deeply contemplative, yet wildly chaotic rivers of thought. He then paused, not to consider the impact of his words, but only to embrace the euphoria that had washed over him.

Caleb continued, “I wonder, am I really a part of anywhere? Patriotism is such a strange idea. But I wonder, what part of me is America, and how much of America is in me?” Demetri nodded, affirming that his last statement was indeed intelligible. To keep Caleb grounded, Demetri learned to encourage focused thoughts and ignore or challenge his unfair generalizations.

Caleb spoke, leaning forward now, his hand’s palm up, with his forearms resting on his knees.

“Here, and I mean in America, we’re safe. We take our… our homes and our families as things that will never change. We don’t think anything can… can hurt us, or harm us, can… can destroy anything we’ve built. We don’t believe that anything can deeply touch us. That anything can really … change… our lives. We are the most disbelieving nation in the world!

I am thinking now of our President, and many politicians like him who run on platforms of “Change!” I think I understand now Deema… that political change is ancillary to a truer change. Do I… do I believe that things can truly change? That revolutions can happen here? That the Lord can return, and will? Am I a believer, brother, or am I faithless? And what difference does it all make? And what’s more, why should faith make any difference at all?”

Demetri was trying to follow Caleb’s stream of thought, yet he was struggling to see the connection between his friend’s odd perfectionism and his philosophical digression into the nature of faith. It was all a bit silly to Demetri and was beginning to distract him from the search for words, words to bless his friend.

“Caleb, slow down my friend. Can you explain to me now what you mean when you say that your ‘love has become faithless’? Start there. Could you perhaps help me see the connection between faith, or the lack of it, and your anxiety? You aren’t saying the two are polar opposites are you? And how do you generalize your sentiments to our whole nation? I think you might be speaking a bit too boldly.”

Caleb did not make eye-contact now. He was in deep thought, and yet backpaddling through the rushing ocean current that was his consciousness. He wanted to explain this very thought-river to Demetri for his own sake and, he thought, for his sanity’s sake as well.

“Alright Deema. I think I can explain myself more clearly with a story. I want to tell you about a dream I had not too many days ago.”

Demetri smiled as he spoke, “Caleb, are you sure that you won’t just confuse the whole matter more with your dreamy abstracts?”

Demetri felt a welling compassion for Caleb, and wanted his friend to make true progress and not share in the fate of so many young people who philosophize vainly to no end. He wanted Caleb to find comfort, but what Caleb wanted was for the world to shift, for a revolutionary overhaul of all things greedy and mechanistic.

“Just listen, Deema, because the best explanation of what I love would come through a picture of beauty as I see it. I promise that this dream is not an abstract one. And don’t stay confused either! Stop me, Deema, if you want me to explain something more fully.”

Caleb then began to recount his dream, staring at the lamp in the corner of his living room.

“I was at the bus stop waiting for the 114, looking westward down the street. I saw, and could not force myself to unsee, a drunk woman wobbling her way down the road towards me. She was a mess, Deema. A real mess. Now if this would have happened in real life, who knows what I would have done? But in my dream she overwhelmed me. It’s what she meant to me, you understand? No, of course you don’t. Let me say it another way—she kind of displaced the air, like when a train whizzes by you on a platform, you know? And you feel like it’s about an inch away from hitting you. This woman was beautiful in a way that nearly pummeled me. I wish I could remember what she said to me… ” Caleb paused to think. He was quiet for longer than he intended, but was blissfully unaware as he searched for ‘just the right words’ to relate what he was trying to say.

The silence seemed to completely belong to Caleb’s room, to his space. This was the living room’s true identity, silence and the faint ticking hands of a clock, a sound that occasionally made Demetri aware of his beating heart. Suddenly, Caleb spoke up again and reminded Demetri of the immediate matter at hand.

“Ah yes! Now I remember her words. Deema, I want you to listen carefully to what she said to me. This mess of a woman, this symbol, she stumbled over to me and looked at me with spinning eyes. Then she opened her mouth and spoke like a sword that cut me to pieces, saying ‘There aren’t only two ways in life. Sometimes there are more ways to go.’”

Caleb paused, proud of himself, “Now do you understand?”

Demetri held back his laughter. His sweet, naive friend was honestly pouring out his heart, yet he lacked all ability to communicate such passion effectively. Demetri knew all too well what this felt like, though he was one step ahead of his friend, for Demetri had already begun to recognize his distressing wordlessness. Caleb, on the other hand, was oblivious and content, as if a snake’s best meal was his very own tail.

“Caleb! Could you stop for one second?” Demetri chose his words carefully here, so as not to steal any power from Caleb’s spirit.

“Can you tell me more about what you think her words meant? I mean I can guess, and it sounds like a pretty simple concept, you know? Why did this woman effect you so much?”

Caleb continued, still looking away from Demetri unintentionally, as if on an expedition into his mind.

“Ah, Deema! So you were listening after all! I have puzzled over her words all week. She seemed to me to be a prophetess. Not a particularly kind spirit, but nor –would I say—is she entirely cold. She seemed to me to be tied completely to one physical place. Indifferent towards me, myself only a temporary visitor. She looked beautiful and ancient—”

“How so? Pardon my interruption, but Caleb, how is she beautiful?”

“Again, Deema, your questions are perfect—for her beauty, too, is something I’ve deeply contemplated. She appeared near the pub around the corner. Her head was badly injured, and she dressed in a rough and itchy-looking woman’s wool sweater. Her hair was disheveled, and twigs and dirt clung near the roots. She was carrying two open bazaar bags full of God knows what. Her face, once a cherry pink, was now covered in dirt—”

Demetri interrupted again, “Caleb, she doesn’t sound beautiful at all!”

“Wait, Deema, and I will explain my reasoning to you. As I said, she seemed to me to be a part of the land, tied to that specific place. And it is precisely in this way that she was beautiful in the same way this animated world is when it runs its purposed course. She was a part of the natural order, following a deeper course…”

“I am sorry Caleb, but I don’t understand—”

“You wouldn’t disagree that there are things more ancient, Demetri, than you or I. And don’t forget all the many great and mysterious worlds expanding all around us–” Caleb stopped himself midstream, then picked up again on a more vital tributary of thought, “This ‘dream’ as you call it, was a glimpse into something permanent, something unshakable, and I felt privileged to speak with her.”

“Caleb! I love you. I wish only that I could understand you. Please don’t abbreviate any longer. Whisper if you have to, as a man treading on holy ground. Whisper, Caleb, and let the truth be Spirit, coming and going from some unknown place!”

“Well Demetri, what is it you would like to know?” Caleb spoke using Demetri’s formal name unintentionally, but it caught Demetri off guard.

Demetri held back his chuckling again at his friend’s obliviously cryptic ideas and somewhat flawed attempt at communicating his thoughts. Again, he chose his words carefully so as not to upset him.

“The purpose of the woman, for starters. You say she is ‘tied to the land’ did I say that correctly? Yet  blood and twigs covered her. She  stumbled down the road—no doubt headed to the pub for another drink. God, man! How do you infer all that you have from this ‘vision’?”

Demetri immediately regretted the harshness of his words, yet his guilt did not change his face. He was noticeably frustrated by his lack of understanding and Caleb’s lack of articulate descriptions. Caleb did not react too harshly, however, as he was lost in his own thought, now only making occasional eye-contact with Demetri. Caleb started up immediately, nearly cutting Demetri off.

“Ah, but I did not ‘infer,’ as you say Deema. I used my intuition. Isn’t that the only way that a human can understand beauty? I can not rationally infer anything beautiful about this woman, and yet she is an angel. Listen again to the words she spoke, after I asked her about the bus route.

“There aren’t only two ways in life. Sometimes there are more ways to go.”

She understood the place completely! Wise as the dirt and the streams—she told me that there is something deeper than the pavement and asphalt—something wilder. Are you beginning, yet, to see what I mean?”

Demetri was happy to finally have some pegs to hang his thoughts on. So Caleb had been reading the Wendell Berry book that he had purchased him last month.

“Yes, I think so, Caleb. I am going to take a stab at this– you’re saying that the roads, the sidewalks, all of these pathways—despite their usefulness (and it is precisely their usefulness, I believe, that you are coming to resent) the open road is not the right symbol anymore. It’s not enough, not a true enough picture of our wild, absurd freedom. You are looking for something deeper. In other words, you’re suggesting (or should I say, the woman is suggesting) that these roads, sidewalks, and other pathways create the illusion of progress as we travel down their predefined, mechanically decided paths. You are no Kerouac, my friend, but I believe you’re onto something. A new symbol for absolute Freedom and Spirit. Spirit, a rushing breath; not solid lines or the supposed ‘progress’ suggested by linearity! How many infinities we miss in the pursuit of such ‘progress’! Am I correct in my understanding, Caleb?”

“Yes, yes Demetri! Exactly!” Caleb was ecstatic now, deeply satisfied with himself and his ability to communicate. “And here I thought that explaining this truth to you was absolutely fruitless. But you understand! So Demetri, what is your opinion about this deeper ecology, this beauty sourced in my intuition? Do you think that this, by all appearance’s sake, ugly woman is beautiful? And are you beginning to understand why I say that my love, or perhaps more appropriately, my perfectionist aesthetic is faithless and full of fear? I wish I could be more like this woman, to be a part of this great dance of order and chaos… Do you get what I mean, Deema?”

Demetri hesitated for only an instant, but this small gesture was repulsive to Caleb, precisely because he saw, as if in a mirror, a disgusting flood of faithlessness rushing into the conversation. To Caleb, Demetri’s innocent reflection carried with it a measure of cowardliness and disloyalty—yet to Demetri, this pause was absolutely necessary—for he had yet to understand the full weight of Caleb’s question.

“Did you clean the woman off?” Demetri asked abruptly, leaning forward –engaged— intentionally closer to Caleb now.

Demetri’s intensity startled Caleb.

“Yes, I had a wet napkin, God knows from where. I cleaned her off. The crusty blood and dirt from her forehead and hands left a brown stain upon the wetnap. She winced as I passed over the congealing wounds…”

“Then she is beautiful, Caleb. You know I love you. It is precisely your unquestioning and perhaps even unconscious kindness that I treasure and admire about you. Who is this woman? Never mind, for the question is irrelevant. She is beautiful because she has received your kindness, your clumsy, imperfect love. Yes, she did communicate something deeper than the asphalt, Caleb. But not deeper than blood! Not deeper than the rushing breath of life you have within you, or your ability to make humans out of the dirt! The way you restored her, helped free her from the destructive pattern of her ‘natural order’ and restored her, made her new…”

Suddenly there was a knock on the door and the two men seemed to awaken from their trance-like conversation. Caleb hopped up silently and quickly, jogging to the door. Caleb could see through the peephole that Lilly had arrived. The two men simultaneously brushed themselves off. Demetri stood up as she entered.

Enjoy this excerpt? Read more here.


Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think.


Teaching in Slippers & Riddles

October 17, 2009

One of the wonderful perks of working in an International School in Asia is being able (read: forced) to wear slippers whenever indoors. Here’s a picture of one of my favorite pairs of slippers.

Teaching in Slippers

Teaching in Slippers

I love these slippers for their elfin quality, as well as for the rocking camels stitched on the outside.

Speaking of which, did I mention there are a ton of camels here? It’s kind of surreal seeing them around Aktau… Here is my favorite camel pic so far:

Camel Herding

Camel Herding

No, the driver is not trying to run over the camel, as funny of an idea as that is (sorry PETA!). He’s herding this big dummy who got lost trying to find the watering hole about 30 meters to the left. The Kazakhs used to be nomads, and the horse their transport of choice. Now, it seems, they’ve upgraded to something with a bit more horsepower.Har har har…

To switch gears a bit, I wrote this poem a few weeks ago here in Aktau. It’s a little crazy, but it hits on some of the struggles I’ve had since coming here. The poem is a stream-of-consciousness and rambles a bit, kind of like my thoughts&conversations. 🙂

I like the long&short lines & lack of punctuation because it develops its own rhythm based on breath. I’m trying some Ginsbergian methods here, but its still missing something…

Anyway, here it is. I may update it later. Hope you enjoy!

Riddle Based on Something Joel Told Me

Sow a deed

Into the jungle the hunter tracks a beast a green beat poet like Ginsberg. Like the fearful Jesuit Kinch. Come up come up come up. The mind is a terrible thing its a terrible thing after all.

Reap a habit

drawing near to the sycamore tree, do you care about the light from the blood-bank parking lot, and the plastic surgeon’s office next door? In a scattered world light always seems to come from lampposts.

Sow a habit

He passed the beast he got a car and drove real fast, outside the home the railroad tracks are misleading, are are are. I have a mind a mind I say a Mind.

Reap a character

Hell is seeing myself in other people. Hell is not other people. Hell is.

Sow a character

This is the hunter’s last reply to the fading beast on the horizon, shouting: “I want you back&I want you back&I want you back&” to him the voice sounds kinda strained like this won’t last forever, you know.

Reap two minds

When a minister will not rise to speak to his congregation, even if he has a burning heart, but stays seated, waiting for the presence of God

I’m A Teacher! (Plus Essay Dedicated to Grandpa)

September 26, 2009

First of all: I am loving this job. My students (all four of them!) are awesome. I have to be careful because I could write a whole post about what great kids they are. Instead, I want to focus on my personal life as of late…

I lived in Almaty, Kazakhstan in August before making my way to Aktau. Almaty was a blast, and thanks Caleb for opening your house up to me! Here I am a day’s hike up into the Tien Shan Mountains (only 20 min. outside of the city!):

Me at Big Almaty Lake, complete with Tie-Dye Shirt.

Me at Big Almaty Lake, complete with Tie-Dye Shirt.

On the 18th of August I flew to Aktau to start my first year of teaching. It was great to see how prepared the school was for the coming year.

I work for Quality Schools International, a non-profit international school. QSI-Aktau is just one of 37 schools they have all over the globe. Check out my school’s video!

The school provided me with an awesome apartment… way more than I need actually. I have a remote control for my lights, just to give you an idea. And a couch in my kitchen!

Remote Control for Lights

Remote Control for Lights-- I used to think this was silly, but I have grown to love it. It makes reading-to-nap transitions veeery smooth.

Apartments here come fully furnished, but it’s always a surprise what you get. My landlord gave me one cup, two plates, but three (read: too many) ornate porcelain and glass tea sets. Maybe I’ll start throwing proper tea-parties (no guns or anti-Obama signs allowed!).

Some sad news, though. My Grandfather passed away last tuesday. He was a big part of my life. I wrote something for him. Here’s an excerpt:

Gathering Stones Together:

A memoir of change by Nicholas Drapeau.

Dedicated to my Grandfather.

Part One: Building the Past with Stones of the Present.

It was a Sunday in November, an early afternoon, and the sun was burning a hole in my shirt. What was the deal with this heat wave? I just wanted to go for a walk in the shade; through those tranquil trails in Grandpa’s forest. Those trails lined with large sticks shaken from larger sticks, surrounded by clouds of mist rising from the damp and timeless humus. I asked him if the dogs could come up with me to the elephant rock, if he wanted to come too, but Grandpa had some important things to do. He was building a wall, and the day was moving faster than either of us cared to acknowledge.

I think every once in a while about the rocks, the sun, the older and more distant man beside me –my blood— and I wonder, is there a deeper connection? I juggled this question as I handled each stone on top of another, fit securely into the carved red earth and itchy grass. There was a lot of granite buried there too. As I dug, my shovel hit a gray speckled chunk of the stuff with a –BANG— and my teeth tingled like I just ate one of those pink sugar flowers off a wedding cake.

I usually got to Grandpa’s house twice a year: once in the summer for a week and once for a long Thanksgiving weekend. It was a house situated precisely in Boonsboro township, Virginia but it was maybe fifteen minutes outside of downtown Lynchburg. Famous home of Liberty University; infamous home of the late Jerry Falwell. I must digress now from too many opinions. Just the facts. Stones stacking one upon another.

One of those stones said “Pomona”. I didn’t know that at the time, but it did. For those of you unfamiliar with this fine township, Pomona is a small piece of earth located exactly at  41°11′11″N Latitude, 74°3′20″W Longitude in Upstate New York. I have a claim in this town now. Yes, I know the town very well; almost by blood relation. This is the result of a long string of unforeseen consequences beginning with a Prussian man’s immigration to New York City and then to Upstate New York where he built a family of two.

This Prussian immigrant was my Great Grandfather Isaac. He was a big-hearted man with a Russian understanding in his eyes. I have recently come to the conclusion that Russians are the only people on this earth who understand the unexplored depth of humanity (See: Dostoevsky; See: Gogol; See: Tolstoy; See: Solzhenitsyn).

Grandpa returned only a few years ago intending to rediscover his nearly forgotten childhood home but arriving there, he said, was devastating. The home he knew, where Great Grandma Lottie lived above the garage in her own little apartment; the home where that same Great Grandma pawned her engagement ring to buy an outdoor patio (which she loved and used every day; reading her terminally half finished books and watching the humming birds dance carelessly around the sun-drenched lattice for hours) was no more than a bare foundation. He tried to find the trees he knew; the buried time capsule and other sacred relics, but he could not. Instead he found a stone, a part of the foundation, to add to his wall. Great Grandma Lotti’s diamond terrace was wholly dismantled, brought to ruin by time.

New things are built all the time with the neglected stones from the demolished foundations of what we have loved. Nostalgia numbs the deep senses, but reality is feeling everything for what it is. I hear Grandpa saying Nick, take your past and build something fantastic with it. Have a new and beautiful beginning that will blossom from sorrow.

Read the rest of my essay HERE.

That’s all for now. Love you all!


Cycles of Thought: Living in Poetry

July 19, 2009

I was in Washington DC this past week at the DCLA Christian Conference. The admissions department of my Alma mater, Philadelphia Biblical University, sent me to recruit hordes of the teenagers; to coerce the crowd to fill out info cards for the university. We got about four hundred. Things died down once we ran out of tee-shirts.

Met lots of fun people while I was there, like some horrible charades players from Houghton & two guys who knew their beer from Gordon colleges. Here we all are eating Chipotle downtown:


The first night we were mobbed with teenagers filling out cards and getting free tee-shirts, but by the end of the second day the flood of crowds slowed to a trickle. Hanging out with Gaynell and Grace was great but emotionally taxing.

I still get flashbacks of the two girls attempting to ‘experiment’ with eyeshadow on my lashes because, oh, they are just so long and beautiful. Ugh!

In the downtime I also wrote a poem, tried to focus my imagery on time-related word-pictures & rhythms. Also attempted a cyclical poetic structure, something musical that crescendos at the point of critical poetic mass. This shorter piecce is called Anna. Enjoy!



Trading the two hands of the clock

for a smile instead of a frown (8 o’clock & 4);

She goes by sunshine so as not to stumble

and the sun rises sets rises sets & growing old is not so terrible.

Strength pulls the sun, I think, into the explosive fiery sea, and her type of submission is not so terrible.

Trading the sun for the moon for the sun for laughter;

deep lines in her cheeks and eyes, trading time for the body’s weakness

and all types of weakness.

Watch the black and blue sea heal as she rises glorious like redemption,

blindingly white this morning.

She receives a sacramental grace: extreme unction-holy orders-penance

and lives in the temple, night and day, trading the pierced hands of the clock

for a child who would save the world.

-NVD ’09


Loosely based on real events. 🙂

Nestea Fail: Tasty Exchange Students?

May 15, 2009

I was driving down 2nd Street Pike outside Philly today (right about here) when I saw a sign that just plain confused me.

Now, I am normally pretty cynical about marketing in general (I’m in that anti-marketing market… “Oh, that’s a huge market!” Thank you, Bill Hicks.), but this Nestea ad took the cake when it simultaneously make me laugh and activated my long-repressed desire to eat foreign exchange students. Dammit, just when I got “the hunger” under control!

Nestea: Liquid Exchange Student, surprisingly tasty.

Nestea: Liquid Exchange Student, surprisingly tasty.

Seriously Nestea? I hope this was just some grammatical mistake, like they’re unaware that “like” refers back to a previous phrase or statement and describes it (in other words, a “simile“). I would say that this advertisement is distasteful, but the pun is a bit too insulting for anyone reading this article. Instead, I’ll just write this up as a Nestea Fail.

Though I must say, Nestea’s Red Tea is quite delicious! Exchanged Students should be on their guard.

So what do you think? Is this ad too edgy, distasteful, racist, criticism x, or is it just fine?

Or perhaps it’s a subliminal mind-control campaign designed by Nestea to wage war against exchange students in America. A direct result, no doubt, of taking Chuck Palahnuik’s new book Pygmy too literally (BTW a GREAT book)?

[P.S. Thanks to Poza1 for the pic!]

[Disclaimer: I don’t actually eat people. At least not anymore. 🙂 ]

What Do Teachers Make?

May 13, 2009

I was working my way through some pages and I found this video. It got me excited, and reminded me that a teacher is someone who changes lives.

I haven’t even begun my first year of teaching yet, and I have heard these lines from friends and coworkers, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” This type of cynicism is poison. Better yet, it is a glacier. I hope to melt a bit of the ice in my time.

This teacher takes a passionate twist on the “What do teachers make?” question. Enjoy!

I can’t wait to get into the classroom. I hope I can have half as much spirit as this man.