Archive for April, 1996

Pocket order

19 April 1996 at 9:35 pm
by Jonah

I’m very tired. Exhausted even. And I have to get up in the morning at some
ungodly hour to be at school at seven so I can pick up a bunch of people who
may or may not be there so they can all pile in my van so I can take them to
Jackson, Mississippi so we can visit an exhibition of Russian royalty
artifacts. The guy who has the information on it hasn’t called me back, so I
don’t know where I’m going, nor do I have the money to get there.

But if I don’t hear from him, I suppose we’ll wing it.

Other than that, today has been a great day. I’m still kind of on a high
from accepting an internship offer yesterday for the summer in
Charlottesville, Virginia. On top of that last night, I had to finish my
Greek translations for the week. Then I got a call about eight from a one of
the theater people in my Shakespeare class. They were doing some scenes from
the pen of the bard instead of writing a paper, and one of them got sick. So
in addition to Greek, I was going over a scene from Much Ado About Nothing in
preparation for reading it in the performance.

With that backdrop, I woke up today in Greek class when my other classmate
bounced in the room shouting, “Good morning!” It was actually pretty amusing
to see him bounce in, since he probably weighs 300 plus pounds. “Shut up,” I
muttered. He laughed uproarously. I guess he got me back for doing the same
thing to him on Wednesday. I’d meant to annoy him, but he said it actually
lifted his spirits. Some people are just weird.

Friday is quiz day in Greek, and I hadn’t gotten a high score of 5 yet this
semester. But for once, I’d finished my translation and studied in the car
on the way to class. The quiz was actually pretty easy. I remembered all
the words and yelled “Yes!” after we checked them.

Later, met the theater people in the auditorium where we were to meet. A
bunch of Dr. Allum’s freshmen, to whom he had promised extra credit if they
showed up, came in and sat down. I went up for the final scene and read my
part… almost flawlessly. I mean, I did good.

The only thing I can figure out is that, for some reason, I put my Zippo
lighter in my right pocket this morning and my keys in my left. I always put
them in the other pocket than they were in today. But my whole day was
great, so maybe I should start keeping them that way.


18 April 1996 at 10:20 pm
by Jonah

Right now I’m sort of bouncing off the walls. I’m terribly excited.

Ken Myers from Mars Hill tapes called me today while I was still at school
playing on the net in the computer lab with Bishop, who’d come by UM to drop
off an application for the summer honors program. I came home to find a note
on the board saying he’d call back.

The phone kept ringing all evening, a whole lot more than usual. As we were
eating, it rang yet again. “Just answer, ‘WHAT?'” Denise suggested to
whoever was answering the phone. “Yeah,” I agreed, then thought, “Then
again, it might be for me.”

It was. “Hi,” I said into the receiver as it was handed to me. “Hi, how are
you?” Ken Myers asked. “Doing great.” “Did you get the package I sent?”
“Yeah,” I said, “and I read everything in it except for the book.” “Well,
what do you think?” he asked, “Is this your sort of thing?” “I was reading
the essay you sent yesterday as I was sitting out on our back deck,” I
answered, “the one about the decline of Western culture, and I was thinking,
this is where I need to be.” “Great. Why don’t you come up here for the
summer then?” “Okay!” “I still haven’t found a place for you to stay. We
can’t offer you much, but we’ll pay you the same amount we’ll pay the
seminary student coming in, a token amount of $150 a week plus lodging.”
“Cool!” “You’ll be doing mainly administrative work,” he said, “But you’ll
be exposed to many ideas and meet lots of interesting people.”

He went on to ask when I would come. I told him that finals ended on May
first, but that some members of my household were contemplating a trip to
Colorado after school. He responded that he wouldn’t want to keep me from
the opportunity to visit Colorado by any means. He said that, if I came the
week of the 20th or the 27, that would work. We agreed to get back in touch
with each other soon.

I hung up the phone and let out a whoop.

Dad was reading Ken Myers’ book tonight and loving it. He read parts of it
outloud to us. My brother Ben is reading it right now.

In other news, I got a desperate phone call from my friend Melissa who asked,
“Could I ask you a really big favor?” “I’d do anything for you,” I answered.
She said that one of the theater people from our Shakespeare class was sick.
They are putting on several scenes from the pen of the bard tomorrow in lieu
of a paper and needed someone to read the sick girl’s part from a scene in
Much Ado About Nothing. I, of course, agreed. Which means I’ll have to skip
my much beloved psychology class.

Vegan bobsleds

16 April 1996 at 10:32 pm
by Jonah

For as much doom and gloom prophecy I emanate, I’ve decided that I really am
an optimist after all. I expect so much more of myself than I probably
should, and I actually have the audacity to think I can accomplish what I’ve
optimistically set out to do.

Take this research paper I wrote for Public Administration. I didn’t
actually get started on it until around 1:30 the night before it was due.
Oh, I’d checked out lots of books from the library and downloaded a bunch of
pages off the web. I’d even started reading one of the books. But I didn’t
start writing till then, when I read through the stuff I downloaded, skimmed
through the books using the indexes (I forget the Latin plural), and put down
a couple of quotes and added their originators to my list of works cited. By
almost five, I had between 2 and 3 pages. I needed 7. I went to bed, slept
for an hour, got up, fixed myself a cup of tea, and optimistically told
myself that the amount of time I had till 9:30, the absolute latest time I
could finish and still make it to class on time, was plenty to figure out
what I was saying and add four more pages.

It turns out it was more like 6 pages, but that’s the beauty of manipulatable
line divisions. Suddenly, I had an instant extra page, which was good
because it was 9:30. I rearranged the works cited list, printed the whole
thing out, and drove to school through the rain to get there about ten
minutes late. But it takes that long for this particular class to get going

I remembered later on that I was supposed to talk about what the agency I was
writing about does, but I kind of forgot. I guess I’ll find out what happens
when I get the paper back.

After trying to stay awake through psychology, I laughed at every joke I
heard, through a combination of lack of sleep and relief at having the paper
completed, on the way back to my car. But first I had to stop by Dr.
Schaefer’s office and pick up a packet on taking the LSAT. He asked if there
was anything else he could do for me. I asked to use his phone. “You have
to dial nine to get out,” he answered. I called mom and agreed to meet her
at my favorite health food restaurant at one. That left me several minutes
to spend in the computer lab on the Internet. I walked out to my car, stuck
my key in the ignition, and was greeted by a weak dinging noise and the awful
clicking sound of a near dead battery. I’d left my lights on.

Saying a couple of words I probably shouldn’t have, I walked back to the
office, meeting Schaefer along the way. “Do you need something else?” he
asked. I told him about my battery. “I don’t have time to help you,” he
said, turning around and going back inside, “I have a meeting downtown in 15
minutes. But I’ll call someone who can.” He walked up to a phone on a
secretary’s desk and punched a button. “You have to be really polite to
them,” he divulged, “and they’ll come in about an hour. Hello? Who do I
talk to about a dead car battery?”

A few minutes later I was sitting on the trunk of my car, that had its hood
up, dangling jumper cables forlornly from my helpless hands. A young man
with a few days worth of stubble dressed in a denim shirt and jeans, both
covered in grease, emerged from one of the offices and started toward his
truck. I knew it was his vehicle because I’d seen him arrive. I smiled
plaintively. He raised his eyebrows, “Need a jump?”

“Yeah!” He mumbled something in reply and completed the distance to his
automobile, a big, black, ancient truck with “Cajun Bob-Sled” spray painted
in red along the side facing me. The tail gate bore perhaps a wishful
prophecy in the same crimson lettering, “Built for speed.” Then the truck
swung around toward my hood. He slowed down as he got close and asked me
something through the windshield that I assumed meant he wanted to know if he
was close enough. I nodded in agreement to whatever it was. He stopped the
engine while I stared at the flexible tongue sticking out of the truck’s
grill. “I gotta get a log or something to keep it from rolling,” he said,
running off behind one of the offices and into the woods. He came back with
a charred chunk of wood he jammed under his let front tire. Handing one end
of the cables to him, I attached the other end to my battery. He started up
his engine again. I stuck my key back in the ignition. The open door made a
cheerful “bing,” but the starter simply clicked, perhaps a bit more
energetically this time. The young man fiddled with the cable clamps; I
tried it again. He hit his accelerator. He tried knocking the corrosion off
the contact points. He unscrewed knobs, wiggled wires, and did whatever else
people do under car hoods while I watched from inside my car, my foot on the
button in the door to keep the light and dinging off. I figured if this guy
could get that black piece of junk to run, I could trust him completely with
my car’s engine.

My engine began making overtures at turning over after a while before finally
roaring to life. I smiled triumphantly at the guy as he handed me my jumper
cables. “Thanks,” I said. He climbed into his truck and waved goodbye.

By then it was getting too late to do anything on the Internet, and besides,
I couldn’t let my car stop. I went ahead and drove to the restaurant and
waited till Mom came. I told her the story over my veggie salad and vegan
lasagna. She laughed and declared, “Your Cajun angel!”

Plan B

13 April 1996 at 1:13 pm
by Berck

Okay so far here’s how it is:

1) I have an internship offer from Americans for Tax Reform in Washington,
D.C. Pays $100 a week.

2) I got a messge last night while I was out to call my former employer Dr.
Yearwood. He called me this morning to tell me to contact Ken Myers in

And this stupid computer just decided to freeze up so that everything I wrote
after this disappeared when I had no choice but to restart it. So right now
I’m seriously considering becoming a Nihilist and destroying all technology
except for my piano.

Mom woke me up late this morning (I’d been up all night downloading stuff
about the Department of Education) with Dr. Yearwood on the phone and stalled
him to give me time to become fully conscious. When she finally handed me
the phone, Dr. Yearwood told me he’d had a long converasation yesterday with
Ken Myers, a guy in Charlottesville, VA who puts out the Mars Hill tapes.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, these tapes are sort of an
audio magazine very much like National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered”
but coming from more of a Christian world view. I’ve been very impressed
with the couple of tapes I’ve heard from our subscription. There are 3500
subscribers, who get a tape every couple of months. Dr. Yearwood told me to
call Ken Myers this morning about an internship with them this summer.

Ken Myers said that of the three full time workers, two were leaving Mars
Hill this summer. This is at the same time that they’re moving from outside
of Charlottesville to the town itself. He’s got one intern, a seminary
student, already lined up for the summer. If I were to come on, I’d do a
variety of stuff including research. I didn’t tell him I could get lost in a
library and never emerge. “We’d have to find a place for you to live,” he
kept saying.

Evidently, Dr. Yearwood had pretty much sold him on me, because Ken Myers
kept trying to sell me on Charlottesville. He said it’s near the mountains,
so there are opportunities for outdoor activities. The University of
Virginia is there, and he mentioned a guy who wrote some works on Catholic
ethics and has been commissioned by the Vatican to do a biography on the
Pope. “I know a missionary to India,” he said when I told him about my offer
from ATR, “who said he’d rather spend August in New Deli than D.C.” When he
asked if I’d had any summer jobs I mentioned Wings Like Eagles with the “A
horsback riding program for kids with special needs” description. To which
he responded by saying that there are lots of horses in Charlottesville.

He asked me what my hobbies were. I told him reading (when I get the
chance), the internet, and playing the piano. He asked what I would read if
I had the time. “Right now C. S. Lewis’ _The Great Divorce_,” I answered.
“I want to make a radio drama out of that,” he said, “along with the Space
Trilogy, especially _That Hideous Strength_.” He also asked about my plan
for graduate school. “My professors have told me, ‘You are going to graduate
school, you know,’ so I guess I don’t have a choice. I have the possibiltity
of going to law school, but I’d almost rather be a career student.” He
laughed and said that he was one.

He said he’d talk to a couple of his board of directors and get back to me
early next week. So with Dr. Yearwood, Ken Myers, and me, that makes three
of us who are excited.

I added some philosophical observations and even a slice of poetry to the end
of this before my computer decided to rebel, but I don’t feel like conjuring
them up again.

Dread Diseases

10 April 1996 at 10:48 pm
by Jonah

I received a letter in the (real) mail addressed to me today. The return
address read “NBL National Benefit Life Insurance Company.” I didn’t hurry
to open it. Just another one of those useless pieces of mail that I feel I
have an obligation to look at before tossing it in the trash can. I mean,
why should I have life insurance? I die, that’s it. _I_ won’t be getting
anything out of it. Why should anyone else?

When I was looking around for something to keep me from doing homework a
couple hours later, I reached down and opened the envelope.

“Dear Parent:” it read. I’m not a parent, so I’m not sure why it was
addressed to me. But it talked about me as if my parents should be
concerned. It talked about a policy they should have on me (why, I haven’t
figured out quite yet) and a bunch of stuff I didn’t really understand. Then
is said, “For only $25 a year you get all of the above. This policy provides
coverage anywhere in the world – 365 days…” Now why wouldn’t it be 365
days? Do some coverage plans not cover you if you die on a Thursday? And is
leap year included in this one? It went on to say that this policy provides
coverage even if my parents’ kid:

Leaves School Sky Dives Drives a Motorcycle
Flies a Plane Scuba Dives Enters the Military
Contracts a Dread Disease

I laughed because my mom wouldn’t let my sister’s boyfriend give me a sky
diving trip for my birthday (he may have been hoping my chute wouldn’t open).
She said I couldn’t go jumping out of airplanes until I was paying my own
insurance. I’m trying to figure that one out as well. If I jump out of a
perfectly good airplane for no particular reason and my parachute forgets to
open, life insurance isn’t really going to be the biggest thing on my mind.
I mean, if I’m dead, what should anyone care if I’ve got insurance or not?

In any case, I wouldn’t mind doing any of those, besides Contracting a Dread
Disease (or joining the military. Hmm.. maybe I shouldn’t equate the two
like that). I wonder if that makes me a high risk candidate?

In other news, our once blue house got painted “taupe” today. It’s just
kinda tan really. Looks okay.