New York and Chill

The Grand Ave subway station in northeast Queens is a madhouse at 7:15 am. Young people tryna get to school, grownups tryna get to work; it’s crowded; it’s uncivil; nobody gives way; nobody is polite; elbows are out; people are squished; if I don’t get on this train I’m gonna be LATE. (Continual delays and disruptions  are a microagression against all New Yorkers, but I’ll let others moan about that).

However, the same station at 7:00 am is nice. It’s tranquil. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. There’s a place to stand, maybe even a seat.

So I leave my house much earlier than I need to, just to have a peaceful ride to the city.  I spend the extra time at Starbucks composing original content for all you fine people.

So yes, I’d rather wake up earlier, and get to work earlier, in order to have extra time to chill.

How is your commute? Would you leave your house earlier just to avoid unpleasantness?

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The Heart of a Teacher

Dave Ramsey often encourages people to look for an investment advisor with the heart of a teacher. I’m learning more about what that means.

Some people are in the position of training a new person, on the job, for example. But they don’t enjoy it. They hope the person will learn the new skills as quickly as possible, and go away and not ask for any more training. They want the new person to do their job, and do it well, so that the reluctant trainer won’t get in trouble with their supervisor.

A person with a teacher’s heart loves the learning process. They like the challenge of finding new ways of explaining the lesson. They demonstrate the skill once, then ask them to do it while they shadow them. They are willing to repeat the lesson until the person gets it.

A teacher has a patient heart, and enjoys the teaching process–and the learning process. Teachers, whether by vocation or avocation, are usually lifelong learners, and often enjoy reading and traveling for that reason.

A person can have a teacher’s heart no matter their profession. I believe both my parents were teachers, though they earned their bread in other ways.

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Church is Lame, and You Should Go Anyway

Picture a depressing scene. No, no, more fluorescent lighting! More! OK, you’re getting close.

Now make the space like nineteen times bigger than it needs to be. So that the modest gathering seems even smaller than it is.

OK, now, only tiny styrofoam cups to drink from. No, not fresh coffee! Coffee brewed like an hour ago. Now, fill everybody’s styrofoam plates with cold Asian noodles. Somebody made them early this morning.

The space is big, like a gymnasium. Because it is a gymnasium. It’s the multi-purpose room of our church building. We are gathered here for after-mass coffee hour. And I don’t want to be here. But the priest asked me to stay.

Now, fill the table with the meekest people in New York. Make them kind, interesting, humble. Give them life stories. Make them devoted to God.

There’s the awkward young guy who does a Bible study for teens every Friday night. There’s the widow who tells you how she organizes her weekly meals and cares for houseplants. There’s Sylvan, whose birthday it is, so she made a cake for everybody.

I told the priest I don’t want to get involved. I don’t want to stay for these things. I don’t want to build relationships. Ever since my own church went full heretic (never go full heretic), I am jaded. I’ve lost hope for what church can be, and should be. I just want to show up, take communion, and go home.

But I stay, because he asked me to, and I’m glad I stayed. I know church is supposed to be much more than a weekly meeting. It’s supposed to be a family, a transformative power. The expression of God on the earth.

And in a little while I’ll probably start to hope again.

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Doing Rich Lady Things Like Using Uber and Seamless Are the Modern Way of Giving to the Poor

I feel guilty when I order takeout. Why? Because that’s money I could be saving for a rainy day. The frugal American we-don’t-have-servants mindset is that anything you can do for yourself, you should, and paying others to do something because you’re too lazy, is wasteful. 

When my sister’s washing machine broke, she had to send out her laundry for a while as they waited on repairs. She said, “Olive, it’s great. I may never go back. I know it’s such a Rich Lady thing to do, but….” 

I began to think: The services that we consider Rich Lady Things–Uber, Seamless, laundry service, etc.–put money in the hands of the poor. If I tip the delivery guy generously I’m putting money directly in his pocket, much more efficiently than a government entity or charity could do. 

As much as I love the church, she doesn’t take care of the poor like she’s supposed to. Mainly because the government has stepped in to do her job for her, and made her irrelevant when it comes to taking care of the needy. Church budgets primarily go for buildings, and salaries, so there’s not much left over to give to the poor anyway. 

But could paying for services that I could theoretically do, but don’t have the time or inclination, be the modern way of giving to the poor? Those who are perfectly willing to drive me to the train station, or cook my food and bring it to me, are depending on my generosity. Could it be that I actually owe them their commission and tip? I’m stingy if I have the money in my hand, but don’t give them the opportunity.

The Biblical model of giving and helping the poor is outlined in the Old Testament in “not gleaning to the edge of the field.” At harvest time, the righteous were commanded to leave a little bit of crop around the edges so that the poor could come after the reapers and gather what remained.

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 23:22

This was the wealthy man’s field–his grain, his land, his laborers–but in the Biblical sense, he owed it to the poor to not reap every single inch of produce his land yielded. Leave a little bit. Around the edges. For the poor. After all, that was there only chance at gathering–they didn’t have their own land or crop.

Yes, you could rightfully command your workers to gather every single stalk, every head of grain, but don’t do it. Leave a little bit around the edges. For the poor.

Today, I could insist on doing my own cooking and cleaning, but why? In one sense it’s a way of being rigid and greedy.

When my brother goes to the bank, he gets $100 in singles, in order to tip his baristas every morning. The idea of tipping as a way of giving comes from him, who declares he does not give to charities generally. But if you go out to eat with him, you will see that he gives generously to the poor.

Thoughts? Are there any Rich Lady (or Man) things you do, that may actually benefit someone?

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What Could Our Benevolent Overlords Mean By This? Part 2

The Museum of Sex has graphic advertising all over the NYC subway system. My late friend wrote to the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), informing them that children use public transportation and their images and message are not appropriate.

She was told that their advertising does not violate MTA policies.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

To quote the late David Wilkerson, “If God doesn’t judge America, he owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.”

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What Could Our Benevolent Overlords Mean by This?

Phase One: We don’t push one lifestyle choice over another. All choices are equal.
Phase Two: Some choices as more equal than others. The LBGTQWXYZ youth need our tax-funded support.
Phase Three: You’re a bigot if you don’t endorse this.

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No Toxic Masculinity Here, Just Regular Masculinity

To be honest, I’ve been concerned about this boy. We’ll call him David. He’s turning twelve and his father left the family to go start a better one. He struggles to pay attention and get along in every class.

His fascination with Michael Jackson has reached the level of obsession. He knows every song and every move to every dance. He has lots of trouble sitting still or retaining information; he makes it through a typical class with a water break, a restroom break, a drawing break, and a go-stand-by-the-window-and-look-outside-for-2-minutes break.

He is the best artist in the class by a country mile; he’s a gifted dancer, singer, and a natural runner.

We go round and round about what is an appropriate wallpaper for his laptop—the clown from Stephen King’s It was a “no” from me—he seems attracted to dark things; my appeals for him to draw puppies and kittens give way to his desire to draw Illuminati eyes and possessed dolls.

He has a close relationship with his mom, but not much supervision at home. He has mentioned watching things online that would not be compliant with the Ratburger Code of Conduct. I don’t see him bond with other boys, but rather his two best friends are girls.

So I’ve been concerned about this boy, and trying to encourage his better angels, and (badly) managing his behavior.

Then today I put some Legos in his hands. And he did what every boy, everywhere, in all times and all generations, from ancient times to now, does when you give them a toy: He made it into a gun.

I was so proud.

He showed it to me with a shy smile, and his classmate had built one as well, and they showed me how they worked, complete with lasers, a bayonet, a place for extra ammunition, and a sword attached, just in case.

Maybe there’s hope for this boy after all.

I had been concerned that his masculinity wasn’t being allowed to flourish, to grow. That idolizing Michael Jackson doesn’t exactly undergird his wholesome masculine self. The whole boy, the young man, he is created to be, is undernourished as he drifts toward the feminine and has no rugged authoritative father figure in his life.

But when he made that gun today I thought, something’s there, a spark. I began to bless his healthy masculinity.

If you’re a praying person, please pray for David.

“And David danced before the Lord with all his might…” 2 Samuel 6:14

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What I’ve Been Doing Lately

It’s great to be back among friends. I was an avid Ricocheteer back in the day. Some of you may remember my mom passed away in late 2014, and many were so supportive of me during that time. Especially Ten Cent. I <3 u Dime Bag; you are so much fun to make fun of. (smiley face)

After my mom passed, there wasn’t much left for me in my small Texas town. So I decided to move to New York City and pal around with my best friend!

I moved into Kasia’s apartment building and we had a blast. We had been friends since Bible college years earlier. We went all over the city together, visiting friends and family, praying together, singing songs, and just doing life together.  We traveled to Europe three times. Her family became like my family.

Then in late 2015, she started having stomach pains. She was mis-diagnosed at first, partly because she was so young and healthy. By the time she was rightly diagnosed, it was too late. Her stomach cancer was at an advanced stage.  Though we tried everything, including taking her to a special cancer clinic abroad, it was no use. We had to say goodbye to her. She went to heaven in June 2016. RIP Kasia you were the best friend I ever had.

So then I wondered, now what? Do I stay in the city or go back to Texas? I moved there to be with my friend, and now my friend was gone! Those first few weeks were hard. I didn’t know who I was or where I was. I just wandered around my neighborhood, eating platanos at a Colombian restaurant and beans and rice at a Mexican restaurant.

I was praying about my decision, and felt as if the Lord gave me the impression, “This is still your home.” So I stayed. I moved to a different apartment building. I went to work for New York City Public Schools. I still spend a lot of time writing and reading online, but more about that later.

When my mom passed, I kinda lost all interest in politics, so that’s why you didn’t see me on Ricochet. But as I said, it’s good to see so many familiar faces (avatars?) here. It’s good to connect again. Love, Olive

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