Archive for December, 2004|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2004 at 3:32 am

ten things i’ve learned during christmas vacation

1. comair sucks. when they delayed our flights the day before christmas eve and so forced us to fly into the wal-mart airport instead of tulsa, i found myself saying, “comair, i have a feeling your whole family is going down.”

2. only an idiot offers to eat a stick of butter for $15. the wise man holds out for $35.

3. my michael jackson jokes are always a hit!

4. similarly, people love to hear about my father’s inability to pronounce peanu(t)s.

5. if you are underage and trying to sneak a bud light at a family function, always use the ubiquitous red cup.

6. scrubbing the dishes atones for a score of sins.

7. always tie the chainsaw to the ladder.

8. morticians use less make-up on a corpse than most southern women use on themselves.

9. there is a providential correlation between one’s growing love for family and the increasing complications one’s family provides.

10. elmo is a fiery demon straight from the pits of hell. if any of you buy an elmo doll that sings his name to the tune of ymca or any other noise producing toy for my future brood, i will curse you for life…right after i return the annoying garbage to fortress wal-mart.

on a more serious note, if your heart has been rent by the tragic tsunami that has devastated the asian rim and sri lanka, consider making a contribution to serve life’s relief fund. i think that providing financial assistance will be at the top of sinners and saints’ agenda when we gather once again.


In Uncategorized on December 21, 2004 at 10:17 pm


Prov. 19:11–“a man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

my beautiful wife is a bit forgetful. put her in an office and she will quickly andd efficiently systematize the files, balance the books and even help you maintain a sustainable schedule. but her personal life is a bit more scattered. if you’ve ever tried to call her cell phone, you can bear witness to this truth. during the weekdays her cell phone often resides on our dresser and throughout the weekend its is safely locked in an office drawer.

usually i find her forgetfulness quite funny, especially since her cell phone disability has turned into an ongoing joke. however, occasionally her forgetfulness will frustrate me to the point that i say something snide. of course, these snide comments are best kept to myself, for i have found that my failure to overlook an offense usually comes back to bite me in the ass.

for instance: last july, after carrying a good deal of furniture and innumerable boxes down the labyrinthine stairs that lead to our basement, kellie and i, along with our friend mark, decided to call it quits for the evening. since we had worked quite hard and we wanted to thank mark for his work, we headed down to a thai restaurant on the corner for dinner. before we headed out the door i told kellie that i did not have my wallet on me and asked if she had her purse with her. she asserted that she did, so we shuffled our exhausted asses down to the thai joint.

after dinner our attentive waitress brought over our bill and kellie opened her wallet to get the debit card. unfortunately, the card wasn’t there. she told me she had simply misplaced it. when i asked her where she might have left it she told me that she didn’t know, but it could be in a target sack. needless to say, i found the idea of anyone from the cart boy to the waste disposal man having access to our account quite nauseating, so i muttered something snide and condescending before instructing kellie to stay at the restaurant while mark and i went back to our condo for my card. i couldn’t believe that she misplaced that (*&^% card, i thought! anyone could have access to that card and we’re going to need every penny to pay our first mortgage bill.

in a short time, mark and i returned to the restaurant and i paid the attentive waitress immediately. immediately thereafter we went back the condo, mark headed home and kellie and i collapsed due to both mutual exhaustion and frustration. the next afternoon, after shopping at a local furniture store, kellie and i went to subway for lunch. when we reached the cash register at the end of the bar i pulled out my wallet and reached for my debit card, only to find that it wasn’t there. again, my heart raced with the irregular beat that financial quandries so readily produce and i panicked. where was the debit card? had i left it one the dresser? was in it in the front pockets of the dirty jeans that i threw into a corner? did i leave it on the kitchen table? after freaking out for a moment, i realized where the card resided: the thai restaurant on the corner. so, after using kellie’s debit card to pay for the meal, we went straight to the restaurant, where the attentive waitress was only too happy to give me back my debit card. needless to say, my tail was between my legs.

on account of this experience i learned that it is not only man’s glory, but also a reflection of his wisdom to overlook an offense. for if he fails to do so, especially in marriage, it will undoubtedly bite him in the ass.

i remembered this lesson the other day when, somewhere between the car and the dingy aisles of bell market, kellie lost her brand-new stocking cap. after retracing her steps and getting on my knees to stare under the snow covered belly of the car to look for the cap, i was quite angry and ready to fire a snide solvo in her direction. but, mindful of the reciprocity that accompanies such incidents, i kept my comments to myself.

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2004 at 3:56 am

the beverly blot of the week

friday, december 10

7:43 p.m.–police received a report from a bartlett street resident that a ‘dog outside was barking in the rain.’

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2004 at 3:55 am


“we declare to the world that what has been declared to be ‘real,’ or ‘the way things are,’ or ‘common sense,’ is in fact no such thing. Instead, the church declares that the kingdom of God is most ‘real,’ that ‘the way things are’ is another name for rebellion, and that the wisdom of God revealed in a crucified Christ is the new common sense. The scandal of the Christ’s incarnation remains in the body of Christ, the church” (lee camp, mere discipleship, pg. 108.

i do not regret my rebellion, but i do regret the way it has been expressed. up to this point, the intention of my rebellion has been to sarcastically eschew ‘common sense,’ identify the danger of being consumed by unchecked consumerism and point out the inherent pride that is always intertwined with personal or corporate power.

but, in all honesty, my rebellion against consumerism has not led me towards a life of simplicity, i continue to find it difficult to exchange the common sense of the world for the disturbing truth of revelation and i have not countered the prideful presumption of power by living a life of death. thus, my rebellion has been a construct of words instead of a reflection of my actions. of this i am ashamed.

Lord God, i know that you (re)created me in order to rebel against the powers and principalities of this world. through the power of your grace and the guidance of your Holy Spirit, enable me to join the rebellion that our Son initiated by shouldering my cross. amen.

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2004 at 3:19 am

brushback pitch

the cardinals finally found a top of the rotation starter. cue the hallelujah chorus!

fortunately unlike the red sox (clement) and the mets (who single-handedly inflated the pitching market with those ridiculous benson and martinez deals) they didn’t have to break the bank to do so. i admit that mulder ain’t hudson and he definitely isn’t rj, but he’s nothing to sneeze at either. kudos walt. kudos.

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2004 at 6:25 pm

the lynnfield blotter

when my co-worker and copywriter Christine Kimball read the beverly blotter post, she told me that lynnfield blotter was even better. so she took it upon herself to send me a few of the best entries from the last two weeks.

is the lynnfield blotter a cut above the beverly blotter? you be the judge!

November 29

12:52 p.m. A Lynnfield resident called police to report being a victim of a scam. The scam occurred in Nigeria.

December 4

5:24 a.m. Assisted resident with squirrel in house, Orchard Lane.

7:03 p.m. Report of a past assault on Salem Street. Police investigated and found that male and female parties are accusing each other of assault and batter after a dispute over property lines, “black magic,” and the placement and use of mirrors intended to deflect that magic.

December 11

6:28 p.m. A North Hill Drive resident reported leaving for New Hampshire with two candles burning inside the house. Police extinguished the candles.

December 12

2:59 p.m. A Salem Street resident complained that his ex-wife was performing witchcraft. Police found the complaint was unfounded.

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2004 at 4:39 pm

happy haiku friday: christmas edition!

frosty the snowman

rudolph the red-nosed reindeer

may they burn in hell

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2004 at 7:15 pm

on ragamuffins and sacraments

i believe that the grace of God holds us togheter. and i believe that the sacraments are the conduits of grace. as a young catholic schoolie, i was taught that there were seven sacraments, the names of which i learned by rote. during my lincoln years the number was trimmed down to two, one soaked your shorts and the other was merely a symbol.

as the years have passed, i’ve begun to see and receive sacraments everywhere. a consoling embrace, a pa pa’s love and the eyes of a child are just a few of the sacraments that have held me together. i am thankful for the diversity of God’s sacraments and pray for the eyes to see and receive more.

all of that to say, that the music of rich mullins is a sacrament that helps hold me together. i never met rich, never heard him play live and never listened to him until he died just up the road from lincoln christian. but i can honestly say that without his songs, i would be a holy mess. here are a few of the lyrics that have sustained me throughout the years. if you’ve been sustained by his work, i’d love to hear from you as well.

“here in your room where nobody can see, the voices are loud but seldom clear. underneath the confusion that’s running so deep, there is a promise you must hear. the love that seems so far away is standing so very near.” ~the verge of a miracle

“jacob she loved rachel and rachel she loved him, and leah was just there for dramatic effect. well it’s right there in the Bible, so it must not be a sin, but is sure does seem like an awful dirty trick.” ~jacob and 2 women

“surrender don’t come natural to me. i’d rather fight you for something i don’t really want, than take what you give and i need. and i’ve beat my head against so many walls, now i’m falling down, falling down on my knees. and the salvation army band is playing this hymn. and your grace rings out so deep, it makes my resistance seem so thin.” ~hold me jesus

“if you make me laugh, i know i could make you like me. ’cause when i laugh i can be a lot of fun. but when we can’t do that i know that it is frightening. what i don’t know is why we can’t hold on. can’t hold on…” ~we are not as strong as we think we are

“if i could make it work in life, like it works on paper. if the love that i describe, could be anything but words. if i could Then I would wipe my eyes, I’d dry this ink, I’d trade my pen in on a pair of wings. And I would, I would fly If I could only make it work in life” ~if i could make it work

“when my body lies in the ruins of the lies that nearly ruined me. will you pick up the pieces that were pure and true and breathe your life into them, and set them free? when you blast this cosmos to kingdom come. when those jagged edge mountains we love are gone. when the skies are filled with the tears of a thousand falling suns as they crash into the sea. can i be with you? can i be with you?” ~be with you

Beyond these reasons and feelings
Beyond the passion and fatigue
I know You’re there
And that Your Spirit is leading me
Beyond all this ~somewhere

In Uncategorized on December 15, 2004 at 9:11 pm

unsolicited opinions, spiritual reflections and your daily serving of sarcasm: my last running diary of the season

2:07 p.m.–after arriving, admittedly a little late, for my last shift in customer service, my first call started like this:

“thank you for calling CBD this is Jeff. how can i help you?”

customer: “HELLO? hello. hello-o…”

“this is CBD, how can we help?”

customer: “beeeep.” i think her cheek crunched the #4 on her receiver.

“this is jeff, how can i help you?”

customer: “HELLO.”

“this is CBD.”

customer: “oh…hi…i was…uh…wondering.

“if…you…could…uh…check one of my…uh…orders.”

“sure. what is your order number?”

customer: “let…me…see. it is…uh…..”

at that moment, i was reminded of the wisdom of sir randal. “i could do without the customers in the video store,” he said. “which ones?” dante queried. “all of them.”

2:27 p.m.–on friday night i found myself huddled under the doorway of city hall, furtively smoking a bummed cigarette. as a cold mist began to blot out the street light and seep into my government-subsidized shelter i felt a wave of melancholy coming on. hold fast, i exhorted myself, but i felt certain that a night of moping, and a page littered with bad, anguished poetry was inevitable.

it was at that point, just then, that i realized what a moody, internal, narcissistic little bastard i can be. fifty feet away was a coffeehouse in which sat my beautiful pixie of a wife, a master of unintentional comedy who is also a member of our church and a dozen other people that i desire to more fully know and love. yet, there i was, smoking a cut-rate cigarette and licking my wounds. i couldn’t help but laugh.

2:31 p.m.–i pick up the phone only to hear a lady who is way too focused on her family. because of her love for her “beautiful boys” she decided to let them flip the pages of the catalog to the items she was interested in and pick out a few of their own while we were speaking. this led to some priceless statements like: “oh, jeff, you should see their eyes. it’s like they are opening christmas presents already!” when i asked her about which shipping method she wanted to use, she replied, “hold on. i need to ask my beautiful boys.”

go ahead, lady. shoot me in the head.

3:27 p.m.–the lady who played mike myers’ mom in so i married an axe murderer just called. her accent was even deeper than it was in the movie. guess she wasn’t focused on simplifying her speech for the movie-going audience.

in all seriousness, it took me five minutes and twenty-nine seconds to correctly record this lady’s address. talk about painstaking. if she wasn’t so sweet, she probably would have left me with a throbbing melon.

3:41 p.m.–a customer just called to let us know that we shipped incorrect items to him on an order he placed in june. he said he did not call sooner because he was in a coma. no kidding.

the funny thing is, i believed him. i replaced the incorrect items and even stepped up the shipping so that he could enjoy his Bible studies before Christmas.

of course, five minutes after i got off the phone with him, another rep walked over. coma man was on the line again. now he wanted to order another book from us, but he wanted us to comp the shipping. in short, he was looking for a coma-induced discount. no dice, my friend. no dice.

4:01 p.m.–just received third straight call from a customer who is trying to add an item onto a previous order. dear friend, if you ever order from l.l. bean, cbd, ikea or any other catalog company, save the customer service slaves some sanity by GIVING YOUR COMPLETE ORDER THE FIRST TIME YOU CALL.

4:05 p.m.–while listening to anne lamott’s traveling mercies on cassette, stumbled across this gem:

“Families are definitely the training ground for forgiveness. At some point you pardon you family for being stuck together in all this weirdness. And when you do that you can learn to pardon anyone. Even yourself, eventually.”

i think that’s a good word from all of us, as we head home to visit those whom we love the most deeply and with whom we tend to fight the most fiercely.

4:15 p.m.–i am currently sitting in someone else’s cubicle in the customer service department. i’ve always found cubicles to be interesting little habitats. sometimes, the clutter in the cube can tell you a little bit about the person it enslaves.

assuming the latter assumption is true, here is what this cube tells me about its occupant. the glut of personal pictures suggests that she might be as obsessed as i am with self. she seems particularly predisposed towards pictures of herself in brightly colored, strapless prom dresses. that would lead one to guess that she fancies herself a princess. sure enough, taped to the back of her cubes are pictures of the idealized, annoying, platonic ideas that preceded lady di: sleeping beauty and snow white (which reminds me…is there any way to truly distinguish those two stories? they are prime examples of one of my most deeply held assumptions: that all disney movies are basically the same. but that’s another post, if not a doctoral thesis). the only remarkable difference between the ideas and the form in this instance is that the cube occupant doesn’t wear shoulder pads that measure three feet in diameter. in fact, since her dresses are strapless, she has no such pads at all. finally, the books in her cube suggest the struggle between virtue and vanity that struggle within us all, for right below a book entitled how to be a lady is a prodigious stack of us weekly and star magazines. should this young lady be shaped by fundamentalist ideas about femininity or us weekly articles about j lo? that, my friends, is the question.

the cube…can one conceive of a more intriguing habitat for humanity?

4:40 p.m.–20 minutes until emancipation.

4:41 p.m.–repeat sermon about completing your order here…

4:51 p.m.–“Now here is my secret: I tell it to you with an openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again….My secret is that I talk loud. I talk loud and then the other customer service reps leave me alone. I need God to help me control my volume, because I no longer seem to be capable of speaking softly; to help me with intonation, as my voice is often off pitch; to help me listen, as I seem beyond being able to listen to those I loathe.”

5:04 p.m.–i’m out like elton.

In Uncategorized on December 13, 2004 at 6:37 pm

memorandum from captain random

this weekend we attending the wedding of angela ebersole and joe mcmanus. i have worked beside angela at beverly bootstraps for the past two years and joe was a member of sinners and saints 1.0, so it was one of the few weddings that i was eager to attend (for the record: in order for me to attend a wedding, the couple must meet at least two of the following three standards: (a) the bride and/or groom is a close friend at the time of their wedding (b) the wedding is going to be held in new england (c) there will be an open bar at the reception. if at least two of these standards are not met, best of luck to ya, but i won’t be attending). anyway, as expected, the wedding was a delight. the service was personal, the home-cooked reception dinner was savory and the other guests at our table were either close friends or intriguing unknowns (including dr. robert coleman of the master plan of evangelism).

that being said, every wedding has its peculiarities. the most peculiar element of this wedding was the presiding pastor’s verbal tic. the pastor is a passionate, charismatic man whose ministry i deeply respect, praise Jesus, who has planted a thriving church in salem, amen. much to everyone’s surprise, and to God’s glory, his services, which have the look, sound and feel of a pentecostal revival, have really connected with the people of salem, you follow? from the moment he began to speak i was tempted to tally his verbal tics, do you hear me?, but kellie stayed my hand, praise Jesus. don’t get me wrong, i am really thankful for this man and the ministry he leads, praise Jesus, but can’t help chuckling about and reproducing his tics myself, amen. i hope that he realizes that imitation is the supreme form of flattery, you follow?, and hope that my humor does not offend, amen.

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