Monday, November 30, 2009


A few years ago, I heard about this thing called "National Novel Writing Month" or "NaNoWriMo" for short. It's exactly what it sounds like. During the month of November, you are supposed to write a complete first draft of a full novel (minimum of 50,000) words. I have been wanting to try this for years, but this year I finally did. I completed my novel in 23 days with a total of 59,609 words. It's a far cry from Catcher in the Rye, but it's really just about the experience.

This month (December), I am embarking on something different. Instead of writing a ton, my goal will be to read an excessive amount (an exercise in hyper-literacy, as it were). At the beginning of the new year, I will be attending a workshop for preachers in which we will discuss the links between literature, poetry, storytelling, and the sermon. One of the requirements for attending said workshop is that I have to read all of the books on the assigned list. Therefore, over the next month, I will attempt to read all of the following books:

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (455 pages)
Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen (179 pages)
God Stories by C. Michael Curtis (394 pages)
Salvation On Sand Mountain by Dennis Covington (249 pages)
Silence by Shusaku Endo (201 pages)
Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner (320 pages)
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (271 pages)
Compass of Affection by Scott Cairns (161 pages)
Not the Way It's Supposed to Be by Cornelius Plantinga Jr. (199 pages)

Total page number: 2,429
Total completed so far: 4


Even as I type this, my eyes are getting tired.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Baby Swag

I was standing in line at Starbucks in Waco this morning when one of the Hebrew professors from my seminary stepped in line behind me. He was pushing his 11 month old daughter in her stroller. I could have started a conversation with him regarding any number of topics. For example: "How is your semester going?" or "Any big plans for Thanksgiving?" or even, "How 'bout them Bears?" But no. The first thing I said to the professor was this:

"That's a really nice stroller."

First of all, I should say that I was not trying to be polite. The stroller was amazing. The Hebrew professor immediately agreed with me. "Thanks!" He said. He then pointed to the seat in which his daughter sat and spun his finger around in a circle. "I can make this go all the way around and face any direction."

"Wow," I said, "just like the stage at the U2 concert."

"Exactly!" He said.

This is the time we live in. A new father can have a conversation about his stroller and effortlessly respond to a reference to U2.

"It's even got cup holders!" I said.

"Yeah," he admired his stroller. "It's pretty handy."

"Sir?" the barista said to me. "Are you ready to order?"

I absentmindedly ordered my coffee and returned to our conversation about the stroller. I continued to ask him stroller-related questions until I received my beverage and exited Starbucks. As I walked toward my first class, I thought to myself: "Did I really just have full conversation about nothing but strollers?"

Yes, I did.

There is so much stuff that comes with a baby. Caroline and I went to Babies-R-Us last night to pick up our crib. We ordered it a week and a half ago, but it just arrived yesterday. As I stood at the guest services desk waiting for someone to bring the crib to the front, I stared around the store in awe. There are so many things you can get when you have a baby.

It kind of reminds me of Mr. Potato Head. You can just get the basic Mr. Potato Head set with one pair of eyes, ears, mouth, feet, nose, and hat. However, there are endless accessories for Mr. Potato Head. You can buy stuff to make Mr. Potato Head be a police officer or a fireman or a Star Wars Storm Trooper. You can buy Bath Time Mr. Potato Head gear.

This, in my mind, is what it is to have a baby. If you wanted to keep it simple, you could just have the baby and let it sleep in a box with a soft blanket. But this wouldn't be fun for anybody. So, you buy a crib. Then, of course, you're going to need to take the baby places, so you need a car seat (in observance of safety laws) and a stroller, of which I have already admitted to being an admirer. There are also endless types of toys and safety devices and sanitary equipment and clothes and furniture. And at some point, there may even be another kid, which is the parental version of buying a Mrs. Potato Head.

I'm learning about the baby swag, and I'm realizing how quickly my home and my life are going to be transitioned to total and absolute submission to the needs of this kid. Like Alice discovering all of the intricacies of Wonderland, I am learning all about a world that was completely foreign to me until very recently.

By the way, if you were wondering, the stroller that Truett Seminary's Hebrew professor uses is the Orbit Infant Stroller System. Do not buy us this stroller. Caroline has registered for a very specific stroller, and I don't want this blog to inspire anyone to subvert the registry.

I'm just saying it's a freaking cool stroller.