Saturday, February 18, 2017

Donate for Charity, Inc. is Not a Charity

Recently, I invested $800 worth of critical repair into my 1999 Suburu Outback Legacy, which unfortunately upset a delicate balance deep within its framework. Namely: A small ecosystem of caked mud, dirt and oil that had coagulated around the trunk of rust that was once my filler tube dislodged when the car was hoisted onto the lift for repairs, and left a massive hole in the upper part of the tube which let the gas pour out as soon I filled the tank beyond about half, not to mention the danger of the fumes. This, of course, is not the sort of damage you can blame on your mechanic. Seventeen years of urban goo crystallizing northern Michigan ice and deer poo that has been safeguarding my corrosion is not exactly anything covered under the mechanic’s warranty. 

The mechanic said the repairs would be another $650 – at least. And that was a baseline. So I started carshopping. The dealer didn’t really want my car sans bog, and I was nervous about transporting it or even letting it sit, so I decided to donate it. It hadn’t really much occurred to me to try to sell it on Craigslist. Though I’m not sure I would have wanted to anyway, with the filler tube problem; as it sort of seemed like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

The truth is, I moved rather hastily, too quickly, I think in making this decision. I looked through a few car donation options and landed on a place called St. Louis Effort for AIDS, even over goodwill, just because it seemed more aligned with my political interest, and I like choosing smaller charities than larger programs, like NPR, etc.

When I contacted the organization, however, I did not deal directly with them. The donation number takes you to a hotline with a company called Donation for Charity, Inc (I’ll call them DFC, Inc., hereon). What I didn’t quite understand at the time was that this company is a broker. A for-profit broker, who handles car donations for charities.

Once I signed up for that donation, DFC, Inc. sent me a confirmation email, which said that the towing company would contact me within 24 hours to set up a time to pick up the car. There was no phone interaction beyond my initial inquiry and directions for preparing my car for pickup were rather scant. I did not hear from the towing company, for 24, 36, and then 72 hours and Thanksgiving was around the corner. I called after the day had passed, and was informed that the holidays meant they were behind. I wrote again after several days and pushed them to establish contact for me. I called the following day (so almost a week later) and finally after explaining to the woman that I needed my plates and my car was not in a secure location (on a street, so I couldn’t remove the plates), she finally did something to establish contact with the towing company. I was given cable-repair hours for pickup. The driver, I was told would call somewhere between hours of 8 and noon to pick up my car. Which meant, of course, I had to be ready to get up and drive across town to meet him at my car to retrieve my plates.

The reason I’m writing this, however, is not entirely to complain about their service. Though I do find it interesting that the transaction took so much effort on my part.

My main bone of contention in this transaction comes a few days ago when I received the receipt for my donation. On the receipt, from DFC, Inc., it says the car sold in an “arms-length transaction to unrelated parties.” Finding this language confusing, I called that hotline number to better understand. This is the point at which I finally understood that Donation for Charity, Inc. is a for-profit business.

The rep told me the language on my receipt means my car sold at auction. It sold for a mere $185.00. I also found out after some prying about the proceeds from that auction, that DFC, Inc. collects from every donation a standard $70 administrative AND then takes 30% of the remaining sale. Thirty. Per. Cent. So effectively, I donated my CAR and my chosen charity got $80.50. DFC, on the other hand, got $104.50.

The bidder, incidentally, was the towing company, since many of these towing companies actually scrap and rebuild cars. I really could, it turns out, have done this on my own.

But of course, I didn’t. And there is a tax incentive, I suppose. Assuming I pay taxes this year (that’s a separate writing about this administration.) The receipt is good for a baseline of $500. But that’s only good if it turns out that itemizing would be worthwhile, which it likely won’t be for me, this year, as in most years.

I am writing this note for anyone thinking about donating a car. Double check the broker and find out, up front, how much of the sale they get. It might be better to sell it on craigslist maybe. And then just donate to the charity of your choice.

Friday, March 11, 2016

I Need to Be Careful Not to Let Trump Ruin my Community

Walked out of my mechanic's shop this afternoon and probably won't go back because they were watching the rally here in St. Louis and which I wanted to protest except all of a sudden my window goes down and won't go back up and I need to get it fixed, and maybe then I'll go, but then I go to the spot and they're all in there with the rally loud and that guys' voice (not saying anything, as usual, at all - just yelling nonsense) and they're in the front office making comments about how dude paid for the space, he got a right to throw out the protesters and they should go outside if they don't like it and defending the way they get treated. So I sit still for a minute, but then I can't sit still anymore and I'm like "Are you seriously defending this man?" and they are like "This is America"

I mean I'm sitting right here. And we're in St. Louis, and you're defending the way he treats protesters. For real?

Video of Trump Arguing for Brutality to Protestors: We Need a Little Bit More of That

"Vote" the mechanic says loud to me, looking both defensive and sheepish "we're gonna vote." As if that makes it right. Let's say we elect him and 'the people' decide to put him office. What then. How dangerous. To defend him.

And I say but he's hateful, he's the most hateful thing we can do right now. And I say in fact I don't even want to listen to his voice, can you turn it down? (Because how do I sit here for the next hour and listen to them rally around this rally. Even though I'm listening to it on my headphones.)

And then he says, with more confidence. "This is my house. My house. If you don't like it, you can step outside" and I'm like "Yeah and I'm your customer and that's hate and you're defending it and I'm sitting right here."

So I left. And on the way out, the soft spoken woman who owns the place and is the whole reason I went there (a woman owned auto shop...what???) says to me "I'm so sorry, francine" but then when I say "But he knew I was here" and she says "Well I really don't think anything here was disrespectful." which I guess she would say - if they think the protesters are the disrespectful ones. Cause one, any money that dude spent on that space is not his money and he lying about that, and two, why are y'all arguing about property limits when we at risk of putting a fascist in office. And he's running for president, why you think he deserves some fence to ward off the vigor of the public sentiment.

And three, I'm just not down for any shit right now where women are apologizing for and/then/or defending men right now. Just not feeling it.

Whose house it is is a conversation that is about to get really real. This not your house, Trump. Not your house.

And now I need another mechanic, prolly. Though some little part of me wants to call, cause it's a relationship. But I feel like she should call me. Cause it's a relationship. But then what is there to say really, far as I knew she owns the shop, or at least part owned it, but she let the mechanic tell me this his house. Ok. Whatevs.

Now I go to the dealer and they got a nice lobby and innocuous music on the radio and they say ma'am and whatever but it's in the suburbs and I'm looking around thinking but for real who's voting for him? But I'm like well, shit they ain't have a place for me to wait really anyway, to get coffee or eat and work while I wait. But if I go to dealer, there's a place to sit and work down the street with espresso and I'm thinking this kinda' some bullshit. Something just upended something very local and real and replaced it with a starbuck's logo on a cup and wifi.

And I'm realizing, I like the rest of the country just bought - literally - racism that isn't on the surface, that I don't have to deal with. Some little part of me is grateful something is pushing it to the surface, forcing us to deal. I'm still not trying to listen to Trump while I'm waiting on my car. But I already miss my mechanic.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Christmas Town, Too Late, Somewhere

There's nothing much sadder than Christmas images after the New Year. It's a sign of a dead-end hope for next Christmas already, of fatigue from the surge, of the cheapest sort of nostalgia for that which happened just a week ago.

It sort of feels like that half-smattering of snow still on the ground. Where the snowdrift sits atop barren dirt piles. A cow pattern of winter. Leftover. Lingering. Yawned and sighed.

HAPPPPppppyyyy Newww Year!!!   (sound of fading flatulent paper horns)

I have always disliked the aftermath of holidays. My family used to try to console me by leaving trees up long after Christmas was over - after I'd returned to school, after I'd already worn (and likely ripped or stained or otherwise ruined) whatever was in the boxes, and after we'd settled back into the busy tedium of the new rest-of-the schoolyear.

It's because I have a January birthday. They left things up until then. We were better than some, whose sad santas and half-baked-in-the-sun snowpeople sat in soggy yards until the first spring rain. We did, after all, have an expiration date.

But the leftover of Christmas also seems to me a kind of protest against normal. Holidays are certainly that. Consumerism aside, we like the non-ordinary, the parade, the carnival, of it all.

Within parameters, of course. The non-normal is sanctioned. The weirdness is supported by the non-weirdness of the accepted custom. You can be extreme and bizarre within that sanction, as long as it's rooted squarely within the tradition.

How much I've longed to happen upon a place where I could sit and drink rooibos tea under dim lights with a picnic table and string lights. There are places outside Michigan where that happens. But here, it's a Seuss-fantasy stuffed inside a Christmas stocking.

What I wouldn't give to find this table out there in my every day, without the triangle trees, maybe without the snow, or at least with a tent and an outdoor heater.

These images are taken from a Christmas park off of US-31 here in Interlochen. It's actually the back lot of a motorcycle shop. Little place called CycleMoore. I've never been inside. But a worker talked to me while I was taking pictures and told me they sell and fix antiques. He seemed a little wary of me. I'm used to that now. (Am I? Maybe not.) It's also hard to tell 'wary' up here, exactly. People seem naturally a little skittish.

The display is gone now. Just like the holiday is gone. The world is about to set in again, with its corrections and diplomacies and careful wording and adjusting and straightening and filing and saving and squinting and sitting up straight and avoiding eye contact and moderations and appropriate time lengths and closed doors and open doors and listening intently and snagging sleep and curbing cruelties.

But gone too is the very quiet and the really hermit. The withdrawal and the resigned. The easy and the undress. The wrung midnight and the extended sighs. The closed window and the cold engine. The photo rifling and the reenacting. Again and again.

It's a new year and another opportunity to push forward and reach out and decorate each day. So yeah ...

Happy New Year!


oh. p.s.   ..............

is it just me, or is this a brother?

Friday, March 7, 2014

the last of the chili powder

Year seven and material disintegrates. It's a matter ... of matter. And time. Last night, I used the last of my mother's chili powder. The hollow canister echoed the final caked particles too fat for the shaker holes. Hit it a few times and nothing else came out.

mom and dad, circa 2004
     Someone once told me that when someone very close to you dies, it takes awhile for all your 'selves' to understand that they are gone. The you who called Mom when you were lonely, vs. the you who went home because you felt obligated to go. The you who still felt safe in her living room or the you who learned how to cook from watching her roll various doughy objects in buttered hands. 

     I used the line in a poem. All your selves know, now.  I thought it was genius. Of course the closest I've heard to this philosophy from anyone else comes from a scene in Bates Motel where Norman Bates is trying to console Bradley Martin about her dad. He tells her:  

     I think grief is just the period of time it takes for your brain to accept that someone's gone. Cause everything in your body, your mind, your entire being being just keeps bringing you back to the moment that they're still alive. Takes a long time for your body to let go of that.

     Just look at that canister. I'm not sure they make these anymore. Spartan apparently merged with Nash Foods. I got to give 'em credit. They're one of few stores that stayed in Detroit. Farmer Jack, Kroger. They all pulled out. The blacker the city got, the faster they flew. When Farmer Jack went out of business I thought it was kismet. Of course, Spartans were never the best. Cheap and not well-stocked. The best produce I ever saw in a Spartan store was this morning on their revamped website. But that was then. Maybe they are different now. 

     What does it mean that while writing this post, a drunk man wandered into my backyard and lay himself across my porch, talking to the afternoon sky. I walked in on: much softness out there. He sat there for awhile. I watched him for awhile from inside. That initial thought: Call the police. Then I thought. For fucking what? He's just sitting there. Talking to the goddamn sky. 

     Every so often my mother would bring people home. To feed. She'd try to do it before my father got home. Because he would flip out. I guess from the outside looking in it was bad. Her bringing home those wild-eyed ones with their not-great smell. But my mother had a sense of things. More than a lot of people I know. Sometimes she had such a calm about her. Manic woman that she was, she could be so even-handed, so free of fright, and easy. In those moments, the shit was zen. Nothing could hurt us. I wasn't scared of her restless friends, or the time it took for her to make them meals. They often babbled on and I would go to my room, rather than 'have to' engage. But it's a small house. I was just out of eyesight. I could hear the whole exchange. The way they listed on and the way my mother would interject if there was quiet. 

    Do you want pickles?

It's my father who taught me the worst place to protect yourself is in hiding. My folks didn't like to hide. Too much most of the time. They were so visible. With his shotgun and her various days. They were not ashamed. Not of that. Anything that needed to be dealt with needed to be aired. Everybody knew everybody's everything. 

     Eventually I went out and asked him to leave. That went over weird. He said these were his friends too. I asked him to leave. He said no. He said it adamant, but soft. So I offered him a sandwich. He said yes. He said We'll wait right here. He waited for it in the snow. Like a chair. He took a seat in the snow. 

     What I wanted to talk about was how old spices have a smoke to them. An age. How I suspect that metal canister does some kind of barreling where plastic just lets it get stale. Seriously. Do you understand this last dash of chili powder I soaked into the onions for last night's turkey burgers would have to be at least 25 years old. I'm saying, I remember it as a kid. I remember wondering what my very basic-recipe mother was doing with chili powder. She kept in the back of a metal spice cabinet, piled high with canisters and small vials of space like a professor's crowded library. When she cooked, she clicked the vials around and re-ordered and repiled. 

     I gave him the sandwich. I asked his name. He gave me his whole name. He said it needed more mayo. Or some ketchup. Apparently I make the shit too dry. Eventually he asked for a ride to his sister's. I asked where she lived. He gave me his wallet. His wallet had a cracked driver's license, social security card and someone named Jeff's phone number. The photo on the i.d.: short hair, smiling, tanned. No sister's number. I thought about it for a long time. He said My colleagues are waiting on us. 

     It was the kind of calm I think came from the way she soothed her mind. When she locked everyone else out. She taught me how to do it. How to soothe it away. Eventually she turned it over to me and I was in charge. I stroked it away. I got to be good at it. By the time I was a teenager, I could make it go away. I could rock her and rock her. Or sometimes I could just stand in the door. 

     Fine. I said. The fuck am I doing? I give this dude a ride somewhere, it's a whole other level. He's gonna puke in my car. His sister won't want to open the door. He'll pass out in my car. He's already asking me to help him up out of the snow. The second time. The third.

The Spartans. were militant. They took over ancient Greece and dominated through the Greek army. Maybe that wasn't their whole shtick. But that's what they're revered for. It's not even about being the victor, it's about spirit of the war, the valor. All the fences you have to put on the body to have the valor, the metal. The shield, the armor. To wear the air of the conqueror. 

     Who are you? He kept asking. You're taking control and I do not like it.

      I got my coat. My keys. My i.d. He fell three times in the snow on the way to the gate. He wanted to climb the fence. I told him there was an easier way out. We walked through the gate. I asked him where we were going. He walked out past the car. He pointed to the sky. Up the hill, he said. I don't know where he meant. I said do you know where she lives. He pointed a different way. He walked out past the car. To the alley between me and the crappy fast food joint that stinks around this time of day.

     He looked down the alley. I had my keys, I guess. I had them. He said: There they are. They're waiting on us. Come on. He said. I said You see 'em? He said Yeah they're right there. I said well then go on ahead. 

      I have this image of my mother doing a strange dance in the kitchen when she is restless. She's in a housecoat. Much like this one. She's making a funny face. She's throwing her body and her arms around to no particular rhythm. That's how she danced. The floors would thump. There may or may not be any music. But you could hear her slippered feet.

dad in a junkyard wheelchair. he used to wheel it around the yard.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Salad that Has Kept Me Quit

My friend Mark quit smoking recently and I’ve been super proud of him. I’m not sure if this will work for him, but I wanted to share it. I have been eating some variation of this salad almost every day since I quit smoking over 2 years ago, and I’m inclined to think it has helped me stay quit. I usually eat it after my meals (the European way) and that after-dinner craving I used to have pretty much dissipated. Considering that's the strongest urge of the day, I think there's something to it.
     Of course, I also took up yoga early on and then running and working out a bit (and craft beer for the kick) to keep my days happy and smoke-free, but I know that when I was smoking I always craved citrus – it just never tasted good. Now I think I can appreciate the flavor and this feels like one of the healthiest parts of my day. I’ve also heard that seeds, especially pumpkin and sesame seeds, are deterrent for nicotine. So here’s to staying quit. I hope it helps. Cheers, Mark, and everyone else trying to take better care of their lungs.

GreenFruit Suppression

Chopped greens (romaine and/or red + baby spinach is great)
¼ cucumber, partially pared (the peel is good for you, I take off one or two sides for texture, then slice)
¼ avocado, sliced
½ ruby red grapefruit, skinned and sectioned into bite size pieces
2 tbsp. fresh red beets, skinned and chopped fine
1 tbsp. fresh carrots, chopped fine
1 tbsp. shredded white cheese (mozzarella and/or provolone + italian is nice)
about 1 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
Red wine vinegar


So my salad is all about layering. Prep everything first except the avocado. Mix greens and cucumber and lay in serving bowl. Slice avocado over the greens in an even layer. Then add the grapefruit. (The citrus softens the avocado and gives the salad texture. You can actually get away with not using dressing it all, if you do it this way). Add the rest of the ingredients, also in even layers and sprinkle generously with pumpkin seeds. Dress with red wine vinegar. Raspberry vinaigrette also works well.  Variations help keep the salad an interesting part of your daily diet.

Variation (optional add-ons)
Craisins (flavored ok) or golden raisins
Green pepper, chopped
Chopped turkey deli meat or chicken breast (cooked, obviously)
Unsalted sesame seeds
Top with fresh sliced strawberries! Oh yum.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The year in knee caps. (which have nothing to do with this post)

I've always liked the number 13. I've never had a bad Friday.

Cycles are fine. But years are odd. Each year is worth a white candle and a brisk body of water.

Odd, maddening, merciful, strange, the days. Each day marks turn, come to think of it. Nothing is where we left it. Gravity heavy harder on knotted anchor. the dust shifts corners. 

When you teach young people, particularly teenagers, there comes a day when you look in their eyes and you see they have grown. A day for aware. Awake in the senses to something they did not know before. I imagine they do not see this in their own reflections, so subtle the change. But as you age, you learn to look for it. In your own small glasses. Hear it in your own voices.

The years collect knowledge. absence. a different indifference. renewed trouble, angst and fear. sweetened bliss. 

Subtleties of our unresolved grit churn in mortar under the weight of our pestling bones. The body distributes. disturbs. Some days you wake alarmed at how fresh memory ruins in like the sun. 

And at how much you've forgotten. 

So another year. And more acutely aware of each day, each hour. To love, we have been given movement. As great as our Nelson Mandela. As wild and loud as our Wanda Coleman. The voice is changed and colder (it's Winter here more often, you see). 

The street sweep kicks out kids once playing in hushed golden sun. 

Thankyou to my friends for keeping me alive. And writing. And unruly loved. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"at Thomas Lynch reading, UofM - December 2010"

I found this drawing today that I did a couple years ago, and thought I'd post it. I know the lady in the ponytail is Eileen Pollack. I think Michael Byers is to her right. I can't remember who's head is cocked in that strange way in the front row, but I remember being fascinated by the pose. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Stream - "A Man Named Pearl"

Tonight I watched the 2006 documentary, A Man Named Pearl. The story is about Pearl Fryar, a topiary artist in Bishopville, South Carolina. Bishopville is a small town that Fryar's topiary garden has apparently put "on the map." Tourists come from miles and states and countries away to see the 3-acre artscape. And, in fact, if you google the address to Fryar's garden, not only is Bishopville on the map, but so is Pearl Fryar. The Google satellite view shows, not only some of his incredible leafy sculptures, but also a shot of the artist himself, cruising along on a John Deere down Broad Acres road.

Ultimately, I love this story. Scott Galloway, as director and producer, codirects and coproduces this documentary about Pearl Fryar, who is not just an awe worthy artist, but seems like a pretty incredible human being. He spends time mentoring youth, cares about his community, and has that kind of can-do attitude that must be a documentarian's wet dream.

I've had this title in my queue for a while on Netflix. I kept not watching it. I think it's because I am suspicious about documentaries (and film in general) about African Americans just now. I'm kind of in a place. I find myself not just disappointed with some of the depictions, but heartbroken. I knew I would like Fryar just from looking at his face in profile on the thumbnail of the movie blurb. I didn't want to be heartbroken.

And, indeed, I had to unclench my teeth a few times during the beginning of A Man Named Pearl. Here's a story about an artist in a small town in South Carolina who taught himself horticulture and landscape art and, with years of daily work, created an incredible garden.

But the term "artist" is not often used about Fyar in this documentary. And it's difficult to tell why, or how that's happened. That's the problem with documentaries. You can never tell if it's the interviewer’s angle you are witnessing, or the people being interviewed, or both. 

In this film, the larger impression of Pearl Fryar is that he is a worker – doing a great job. And doing such a great job, that he gets Employee of the Year (or here it is Bishopville’s coveted Yard of the Month award) which set him on his way. The vicars esteeming his dedication include people such as the Director of the Chamber of Commerce, a news editor, the AME pastor, and a friend named Polly Lafitte, who is clearly a museum curator, but for some reason is not connected, in title, to the museum that has commissioned Fryar’s work, but is only listed as “Friend.”

There are strange moments in this narrative, such as the Commerce Director talking about the money coming in from the tourists in such a fiduciary way that it leaves the viewer wondering if Fryar actually sees any of the moneys that he apparently generates for this local economy. You really can't tell. Coupled with a strange scene of the Waffle House waitress in a rather condescending spiel about how she makes sure Pearl Fryar and his wife "eat for free," one has to wonder what the town allows Fryar to believe about his monetary worth. 

Another troubling aspect of the film is the impetus for Fryar’s art. The response to this notion is put forth by the townspeople, but not entirely challenged by Galloway and crew. It is said several times that Fryar is the son of a sharecropper and grew up in very difficult times. Yet, at a logical point in the sequence of the documentary when it feels time for a viewer to understand what started all this for Fryar, the revelatory human-triumph music kicks in and the dialogue is cut back and forth between Fryar and his younger friend, Lafitte.

Lafitte: "When Pearl first came to Bishopville … he looked at a house in a particular neighborhood and he really wasn't welcomed there because of his race." 
Fryar:  "I guess it's the same thing you would have anywhere, would be, a problem of uh, I guess really kinda' accepting the fact of someone strange moving into your neighborhood."
Lafitte: “There was the statement made that they didn't really want him in this neighborhood because he wouldn't keep up his yard and that's a racial stereotype that's difficult for anyone to handle."
Fryar:   "It's human nature to look out for whoever look like you. You understand what I mean? And ... there's always gonna’ be those obstacles. The thing about it is to make you strong enough that you don't let those obstacles become what determine where you go".    
Lafitte: "Pearl handled it very, very well in a positive way and said 'I want to do something that is spectacular in keeping up my yard.’"

Thus, we are sort of left with the impression that Fryar’s impetus for his life of art was that Yard of the Month award.

But Fryar, in the way of retrospective, also talks about his father as role model. And I have to think, based on how he talks about him, that much of his art is in honor of his father's hard work – his father the sharecropper, a man with a third grade education, who spent countless hours farming another man's land. From our understanding of sharecropping, we have to imagine that those hours were brutal, exhausting, fruitless and ultimately, artless. 

“One of the things about farming, like you had to work. This was like basically a 24 hour a day job. And when you grow up in that kind of environment where work is the only thing that you have to offer. – if the people felt like you was not a good worker, you couldn't get a farmer to farm [for] the next year to feed your family. So I saw my father go through that." – Pearl Fryar

But the most fascinating, and sometimes troubling aspect of this documentary, is that Fryar is not revered for his artistry, as much as for his function, as an extension, in a strange way, of the town economy, of the church, of the community. Some of this is clearly part of Fryar's philosophy. He calls the topiary garden a "ministry" in an interview with ETV Road Show. He talks about having a daily congregation of tourists. Early on, Fryar says "It wasn't important to me to create a garden. I wanted to create a feeling - that when you walked through, you felt differently than you did when you started." So it's not off the mark to depict Fryar as a man of God and the garden as a kind of spiritual outlet and spiritual center that he wants people to have as a haven of “Love, peace and goodwill.”

And then some of it, it seems, likely just the sort of provincial outlook of a small, southern town. The kind of place that still sees art as a little weird, that thinks largely in terms of use and function. Clearly Fryar is accepted here because he is good for Bishopville.

Still, I am left a little befuddled at how much face time the AME preacher gets in this documentary. And though it makes sense that the Commerce Director is in the film, they both contribute to a general feeling that Fryar is not an artist, as much as he either, a commodity for the good of the town or someone just doing the work of the church.

How he manages to thrive in a town that does not give him much agency for his creations is honestly mind boggling to me. And here, I start to feel the limits of my rather skeptical, nonchristian ways. I hear something more in the subtext of some of this commentary that, maybe, isn't there at all. Places where it seems like people are trying to minimize Fryar’s artistry, to take the art out of his hands and attribute it to a divine inspiration that they all share. After years of watching Fryar work "morning to night," a neighbor says of the topiary garden, that it was great to see "the miracle happening."

Granted, as I said, this is the perspective of someone who doesn’t follow the church. But there is also a way in which I can appreciate all the brothersisterly love put forth here, both by Fryar, and the communion that others partake in, even if in taking strange credits for his work.

It just seems to be the way things go. A kind of wild and willing faith. A kind of communion. And so, yes, a kind of love.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Do You Think I'm Judgmental?

Recently, some of my dear friends implied that I might be a bit judgmental. I was, of course, shocked and dismayed. Then I considered the sources of this strange accusation.  And I had to decide whether or not they were judgmental people making these judgments about my judgmentalness. Then I decided that since I loved them dearly, it was ok that they might be so crude as to make such a horrendously erred and flawed conclusion about my personality. Then I considered whether or not I still loved them anyway, even though they might be erred and flawed. Because if I loved them, that must mean they're good people, (if erred and flawed) and if they're good people, maybe they might be right about the nature of my judgmentals. But, that thought was a little scary for me. So then I thought: Are they? Are they good people? How do I know? And then I thought about all the things I know about these people. Their various acts. And deeds. And accomplishments. And convictions. Their senses of humor. And their funny ways. And I thought about the way they walk. And the way they sit in a crowded room. From across the room. And I thought about what I think every time I see these people. The first thing that comes to mind whenever we meet. Then I decided. They're alright. They're pretty alright. Yeah, they're pretty good, alright people. Yeah, they're pretty great.