Black Gold

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Home Brew

Life has been really simple lately. I like that. Not to complicated and overall just low key.

I like where I live, I like the people I live with (thus far) and I like where I’m at spiritually.

This post is mostly just your basic update.

This week I helped to brew our first batch of homebrew! Raph, the brew master, showed me and a few other guys how to turn some very simple ingredients into a beautifully dark, fall Porter that should be ready to drink by Halloween. Raph also brought over some of his own brew for to share with us while we brewed and I must say that it was one of the best IPA's I've ever tasted. You should have seen how the people came out of the woodwork when Raph brought the beer over. I'm not saying that I live with a bunch of alcoholics but these folks do like their beer. It was actually pretty cool because I had this great conversation with Karen (the woman who planted this church) about how everyone in the Emergent church really enjoys good beer and how it brings people together in a special way.

Aside from gearing up for school (starts Monday) I spent this week working around the Abbey on various projects such as weed whacking the area we will be transforming into a vegetable garden and throwing out old files and junk from within the bowels of this building.

I do plan to write something a bit deeper (I have some good conversation topics rolling around my head) but just have not had the mental energy to formulate those thoughts into a blog post.

Until then enjoy these pictures I took of the brew fest.

Raph, the brew master himself, as seen through the steam of a boiling kettle.

Here is what you will need to make your own beer. And yes, please do try this at home.


These Are The People In My Neighborhood

Today was one of those rare days when I happened to have my camera on me when some good photo opportunities came along. The thing is my camera is a Canon 20d, not exactly your pocket sized point and shoot. And because of it's size and weight (and not to mention value) I don't carry it with me unless I am on assignment.

So today, upon my return from a photo shoot downtown I decided to stop by one of my favorite eats in the U-district. Here is what I found.

Wajdi Alawar takes orders from the to-go window of Cedars, the Lebanese restaurant his brother owns, located in the heart of Seattle’s University District. He makes a mean falafel.

In 1986, 11 years after the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War, Wajdi left Lebanon and moved to America to help his brother run the restaurant. Wajdi recently returned from a trip to Lebanon just before the most recent outbreak of fighting with Israel.

I know only three things about this man. That his name is Matt, that he likes photographs and that he was quiet hungry. So I bought him some food, introduced myself and took his picture.

Here is Matt in all his glory.


The Metro

I ride the Metro all over Seattle. I love the bus system here. One of my favorites things about riding the bus is reading the Poetry On Buses they have posted along the walls. Usually there are 2 poems posted next to each other. The poems are from people around the Seattle area. Some are even written by 8th graders.

After seeing this poetry I have been inspired to give it a go.

I wrote down these thoughts at 6:51 a.m. while waiting for the bus to take me down to King Station so I could travel to Vancouver.


Look...new pants!!

No, I did not go clothes shopping. Actually now that I think of it I’ve never bought clothes for myself. Its always been mom buying me school clothes or Katie buying me clothing in exchange for a photo session or someone feeling bad for me because my clothes look so ratty. I’m not big into fashion nor being fashionable. I’ve just always had better things to spend my money on besides clothing. Recently though I have had no one willing to buy me pants or a new belt, so I just wore the same pants my dad passed onto me a few years ago and the same belt I bought two years ago before starting work as a Dominos pizza delivery guy.

The only problem was that I wore giant holes in the knees of both pairs of pants (I’m on my knees a lot when shooting photos like this) and the belt was literally hanging on by a thread.

So today as I was visiting Jeff at the Bread of Life I mentioned that I was in need of some jeans. The Mission keeps a small clothing donation bank in the basement of their building and I been given t-shirts from there before. Much to my surprise and joy I not only was given three pairs of brand new Urban Outfitters jeans (they’re worth $50.00 a pair!) but also a belt, some socks and a few uber trendy hats!! I was so excited when I got home that I had to take a shot of all the items I was blessed with in an effort to share the experience with you.

In all of this I am reminded of two things. First, the verse in Matthew 6:25 when Jesus says, “Therefore, I tell you, don't be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn't life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” and secondly that I live in an over-privileged country that has so much it has too give away or throw away the excess. I’m glad they decided to give it away this time.


Some clouds, Matt Hopper and a good day.

Today was a really good day. There wasn’t anything in particular that made it a good day, it just was. I drank some really good coffee (from Whole Foods), which I made in my trusty French press. After that I attempted to type up a shelter/food bank list to post outside the Abbey for anyone who might need the information. While typing up the list I decided to play some music from my Itunes library by a guy named Matt Hopper and was very pleased at what I heard. What pleased me even more was the fact when I checked to see if he was coming to Seattle anytime soon I not only found out he would be playing here but that he would be playing in Seattle this weekend less than a mile away from where I live! Now that’s amazing.

Upon completing the shelter list I met with my friend William and we talked about life while walking around downtown Fremont on an amazingly sunny day. I then went to Ivars Salmon House to check and see if they were going to hire me as a busser. I didn’t get an answer yet but I should hear back from them in a day or so. I then went grocery shopping and took the bus back home.

After sitting at home for a while and eating dinner I decided to figure out whom I should vote for (I am now a registered voter hear in Seattle!) and realized that the candidates are all a joke and decided to write my own name in for every space available.

My friend Mike called me and told me of his really bad day he had so I jumped on my bike and rode down 45th avenue to the "teriyaki bowl" place. I sat and tried to reassure mike that everything would be ok.

After a time I left Mike and met William at Kate’s Pub, drank a good micro brew and threw some darts at a board (I had the highest score of the game, unfortunately that is bad when playing darts). After my goodbyes I hopped on my bike and rode home in the dark with my taillight blinking.

And now it is 12:10 a.m. as I finish up this post. Goodnight.

This post was written last night but the internet was down so i couldnt post it then. Thanks for reading it in past tense.



The Fremont Avenue Laundromat, located across from my new place. I've always loved the contrast of light and dark that manufactured lights bring, piercing through the night with their flickerings and pulsings.


Out Of Respect

Movies, books, music, television, the Internet, all of these can be used too bring us into a thought process that is engaging and provocative. They can be used to present a point of view, an opinion, which may or may not be true. For the last few years I have struggled with the thought that all of these resources may be leading me down a path I had never intended them to. The way I view the world is shaped primarily through the lens in which I view it with. For any young American that view mostly comes through the movies we watch, the music we listen to and the news we read.

We are a completely wired generation.

I remember how when working in the warehouse with my dad and brother in law the radio would blare out the rantings of Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. I remember how it made my blood run hot to hear the stories they told of how the “left” was trying to ruin “freedom” in America. I would nod and agree with their impassioned speeches railing against those who would seek to disrupt the fabric of our precious union. In my ignorance I believed that what these men had to say was true and that they were only conduits, mouthpieces if you will, for which the truth was projected from. Growing up in my home meant being strongly opinionated on everything and anything, especially our government. It wasn’t until my first international encounter that I realized the world didn’t exist as the men on the radio said it did. I came to understand that the names given to people were given to mentally disconnect you from the fact that they were humans just like the rest of us. Names like terrorist, murderer, extremist, these were given to make me think that these people who committed certain acts were not really humans at all but sick and depraved demoniacs living within the façade of a human form. Wolves in sheep’s skin.

There is something very frightening that happens in a nation where entertainment is the major form of communication. We begin to believe that the movies we watch, the music we listen to and the headlines we read are the reality of what makes up the world at large. We believe that everything is based on a true story and because of that our stories become our truths. The lines between fiction and non-fiction become so blurred that you are tempted to either believe everything you hear or nothing at all. I know, there is a balance in there somewhere; I just don’t know how to find it. The lack of balanced resources to pull from makes it hard for me to believe that balance even exists.

Five years ago on Monday we in America will remember the events that happened in New York and other cities. We will remember the people who died and the buildings that fell. And out of respect for those who are no longer here with us we will continue to shift blame from one president to the next, make “docu-dramas” on what “really” happened and fight an ongoing “war on terror”.

My personal “war on terror” begins every morning when I wake to the understanding that the same place inside of those men who flew planes into buildings also exists within me. I am not above the desperation or depravity that overcomes all of humanity at times. I too can be zealous, I too can be misled, I too can murder.


Sufjan For Christmas

As you may or may not know I am a huge Sufjan Stevens fan. His musical genius has enveloped me since that fateful day in the early spring of '05 when Allison Owenby handed me a mix c.d. with him and Iron and Wine on it. So this post is for anyone who might happen to be a fan of this incredible artist.

Sufjan is releasing a five c.d. Christmas box set. It will have stickers, an essay by Rick Moody (I have no idea what that might entail) and a family portrait of Sufjan painted by by Jacques Bredy. You can read all about it here at the Ashmatic Kitty site and you can download two of the new songs here at Gorilla vs. Bear.

I suggest listening to Sister Winter on repeat while watching rain soak the cold Fall ground.


North To The Future (or maybe just Canada)

Well, I’m off to the Great White North or Canada to be more exact for a long weekend (Vancouver, B.C. to be even more exact). There are all kinds of rumors that swirl around my neighbors too the north, two of them being that they all live in igloos and say "eh" and "aboot" every other word (the latter is actually true in some cases).

What I can tell you about this amazing place is that there is a profound change in attitude and mindset that happens to the people living above the 49th parallel. I don’t know exactly what it is but there is a definite difference in people’s attitudes towards life and the way they respond to it. It could be the media influence (or lack of it), the government (once again, the lack of it) or the beer (they have some rockin’ pubs in Vancouver).

Either way, my time spent in Canada is always a pleasure and I always come away from there wondering what makes this country that is so close in proximity to us so very different from us.

Maybe I’ll bring this conversation up with a few Canadians while I’m there and see what they have to say about all of this.

Stay tuned for Canada’s take on Canada.


Simply Being

I can now tell you of the streetlight that flickers on and off outside of my window all throughout the evening, the sensor obviously broken and worn out from its ceaseless vigil of day to night and day again. Don’t worry though it doesn’t keep me awake. Neither do the incoherent rants and ramblings of drunken humans that stumble down my block, voices reverberating off of brick, asphalt and aluminum. You live in the city for a while and then one day, without warning, the city begins to live in you.

I cannot tell you of the exact day when the change from visitor too citizen happened, it was probably some gloriously cloudless day in early summer when everything buzzed and hummed in the glow of rays come down from the sun above. That day is not when the realization of my inhabitance occurred. It was the night I slept through the erratic flickering of my oversized night light, courtesy of the city of Seattle.

My new home sits at the corner of 43rd and Fremont Avenue. Its been said (I still don’t know who said it) that Seattle is the most un-churched city in America and if that’s the case then Fremont is the most un-churched neighborhood in Seattle. I love it. The Baptists and us are the only hold outs left in this godforsaken place. By “us” I mean Church of The Apostles, the community of believers that meet in this building every Saturday night to thank God for the grace He’s so freely (and richly) given. I’m not really part of the congregation, more of just a live in caretaker. Me and another guy, Isaac, we watch over the building and perform basic (and not so basic) maintenance duties. I plan to start a little garden and do some landscaping to the immediate grounds surrounding the building.

The last few days have been quiet. I’ve slept by myself three of the four nights I’ve been here. In that time I’ve painted my room, cleaned the fridge (it was disgusting!) and visualized how I want the garden to look. It’s mostly been a lot of solitude, thinking and envisioning. The mornings here are my favorite time of day. The sun glances across my sill, a bird (I know it sounds cliché but hey its what happens) rejoices with the warmth on its damp wings and my eyes register the growing light.

My hope in living here is that I will find what I put my hope in. My time here will be introspective. The importance of just being has been a struggle of mine for many years now and I plan to reflect on how I can live out my life simply in a society and culture that places no value in simply being.

“We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have - for their usefulness.” ~Thomas Merton

I took some pictures for your viewing pleasure (nothing special, just wanted to give you an idea of what the place looks like) and posted them here: The Fremont Abbey: A look inside.


Not Dead

I will deliver a full description of my new dwelling within the next day or so. Until then, you can check out the website of where I live by clicking here: Fremont Abbey.

Moving has taken more out of me than I thought it would. I spent all day painting my room (it took that long because I don't know how to paint) and tomorrow I plan to explore my new neighborhood.

I'll show you some pictures in the next post.