Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hi. I went to bed four hours ago. Also I'm twenty.

It is snowing outside.

This is the end of the longest not-blogging stretch since this thing began. Be aware the following post may ramble. I woke up ten minutes ago from a four hour night's sleep, and sandy beaches macaroni and cheese beeswax.

This part is for everyone who works in food service and likes it just a little bit. You have a thankless, essential job. You FEED PEOPLE. If you make coffee, you are arguably even more important. You keep them from killing others early in the morning. You make them happy. If you didn't wash your hands and be sanitary, you could kill them.
I know what you are thinking. Where on earth did that come from. Well, I have worked in food service ever since I started working. I have worked at the State Fair, Perkins, Panda Express, Einstein Bagels, a fancy Greek restaurant, and will soon add Starbucks to that list. Pathetic, I know. And that's just the food service jobs. Also I didn't get fired from any of them.
Point being: I like food service. I like setting food down in front of people or handing it to them and watching their faces light up. When I worked at the Greek place, they had this salad. If that salad were a person, it would be the sort who stops traffic. It had hot grilled salmon on top and all these different colors of fresh greens and veggies on it. When I brought that to hungry people, they looked at me like I was a savior.
On a more serious facet of it, food service provides strange opportunities sometimes to encourage and comfort people. Some of the people I've served were sad. I don't know why. Perhaps I never will. But I had the chance to be kind to them, show them respect and sympathy even without knowing their sorrow. And sometimes I did know it. Even the jobs that have a much shorter customer interaction time give enough time to smile, compliment them, whatever.
Enough of this tangent. Point is: If you work in food service, I don't care what people imply or treat you like, you're important. Somebody has to do it. You may impact them, you may not. You will probably never know. Personally, I like the mystery.

Other thing. I'm twenty today. I know that's not that old, but whatever. It's a fifth of a century, a quarter of my probable life span, two decades, the end of teenagerhood, one year away from legal drinking age. I read somewhere that when you reach twenty, your character is pretty much formed, for better or worse. I agree and disagree both. I do see myself forming a character and developing habits. But I never, ever want to stop changing, to stagnate, to get senile. I want to be curious till the day I drop dead. I want to take an interest in other humans till that day. I want to make compassion a habit that stays with me. I want to create things my whole life, things and art that communicate what words often can't. I want to pay atttention to culture. I'd like to be like those wonderful, alive older people I know who've not lost contact with the world, who care about what goes on in it and why. And that won't happen unless I keep it up now, today, this very precious second, because that's all I've got.
Credit where credit is due, now. Maybe you know who Michael "Eyedea" Larsen was, maybe not. If you do, you're probably thinking come on, he's old news, that was October. Well, hush up for a minute. He was an emcee from St. Paul, a rapper/spoken word artist. He died in October at age 29. By his own estimate, he left between 300 and 400 notebooks full of writing. His lyrics tell me he thought existentially, compassionately, intelligently. Some people go through life never ever asking why, just how. Here's the paradox. In my opinion, if you don't know why, how is pointless. He asked why. I don't know that he found an answer. That makes me want to cry.
For no reason, hearing he was dead bothered me more than I expected, almost more than it should have. I think it was the senselessness of it. All death is like that, but the thought of all his potential and how I'm not sure he found comfort or peace makes me angry. Yes, angry, what's more, angry at God. Angry in a silly way, because yes I know and believe He's got a plan, a reason. My experience tells me that. But sometimes I don't understand. WHY. why whywhywhywhy. Please don't tell me "but He knows better than you, He's sovereign, He's God" I KNOW THAT. sometimes I've got to ask why. There are things I do not understand, because I am finite, and He is not.

What I'm saying here is, the pat answers do not kill the pain. And how dare I write that about a man I did not know, who died intoxicated and life-threateningly, manically, depressedly sleep-deprived of the combination of alcohol and sleeping pills. I dare. that's how. Music and writing and art allow you to know someone you've never seen, who may have died before you were born, who may live a thousand miles from you. It makes me realize the incredible amount lost when someone dies, all the personhood that no longer keeps us company, welcome or not.

Death angers me. That's all.
In the end, though, I must not stay angry. That's counter-productive and wrong. I have to learn what I can from him and keep it. Follow the example he and countless other people have left, and in that way, they keep living. Their work and art and love outlive them.

Rosie Carlson. You once wrote a post about how some people who are not Christians are kinder and more loving than some that are. I concur. It's just a fact. Love them all anyway. Love them because He first loved me.

the end.


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