Jul 22, 2006

At Rest in Ohio

Where is this pastoral scene? It's the view from the front door of Barbara's parents'--the Leen's-- home. It doesn't get more restful this.

It's nice to be here in Ohio. I love being here. It's one of my favorite places in the world. My wife doesn't find the suburbs of Dayton very romantic but I always do. I guess because it's all connected to her. I remember spending our first Thanksgiving and Christmas here. And I've never worked here. Ever. Everytime I'm in Ohio, I'm on vacation. So it's become just about the most restful place on earth. Bab's folks live in the greatest neighborhood. It's an older neighborhood, and the best thing about it is that all the houses have huge, massive yards. The homes themselves are generally middle-class: 70's era ranch homes, mostly single story brick affairs with two car garages . But the yards are the yards of the rich. Vast green vistas, towering trees and long blacktop driveways.

I like that when I'm in Ohio there is no one I have to see, nothing I have to do, nowhere I have to go.

It's very quiet here. In the morning (when I wake up early enough), lying in our bed in Bab's childhood bedroom, I can hear the gentle whisper of the breeze, and birds chirping through the open bedroom window. And that's all. Looking out the window, I see green, and sunshine. A bed's eye view below.

A view of the house from the road

Another shot from the front porch, looking towards the driveway.

So what have I been doing? Well, for the last week I've been socializing, I guess. Last Weds I drove up to Columbus and spent a couple of days with my best friend J. He and I go all the way back to freshman year of high school where we both had Earth Science together. I guess we had a lot in common. We both came from mixed racial/cultural backgrounds (he's half black/half Japanese). We both were "black" guys who had mostly white friends (which meant in those days that we didn't date much since our friends didn't cross the color line when it came to dating). We really bonded during a 94 mile canoe trip we took during our sophomore year and we've been best friends ever since. We graduated from high school together, and though we went to different colleges, he and I took a year off of school to be student missionaries on Chuuk, a remote Pacific Island. We toured Europe together as well, and then when we both had degrees, both of us ended up moving back to the Pacific, him back to Chuuk and then Guam, and me to Saipan. Two years ago, he and his wife moved back to the States.

We talk on the phone maybe once a month or so (depending on what's going on with Survivor, Amazing Race, Big Brother, or Lost--the shows that we both watch relgiously and can spend HOURS analyzing) when I'm in Saipan. And in the summers we always try to get together to hang out for a couple of days. Providentially, the year after our student missionary year in Chuuk, his family moved from Florida to Dayton, Ohio; the same year that I met my wife who's family happened to live in Dayton as well. So since then, every time I've come to Ohio to see her folks I've also been able to see him as well.

So anyway, he and his wife Evelyn are in Columbus now, and so I went up to visit. We spent our time talking--A LOT--about life, politics (both of us lean more towards the left), religion, and TV (mostly Big Brother, which we're both huge fans of). We stayed up late, watched a lot of TV, spent hours on the internet. traded music (another ritual whenever we get togther). It was good times.
How J and I spent most our time in Ohio

The New "American Gothic". Proud homeowners, J & Evelyn Carlos stand in front of their brand new home in Columbus, Ohio.

On Friday evening, Keisha Paez (a.k.a "Bono Girl", one of the students from REAL Christian Theater) flew into Columbus from California where she's working as a nanny for her aunt this summer. I left J's, picked her up and we drove back to Dayton. On Saturday, she did a series of presentations about our theater club and the SDA School in Saipan (where she attended from 1st to 9th grade). There's a group of people in the church who have been regular financial supporters of REAL Christian Theater (or REAL for short), the drama club that I founded and she joined the first season when she was in fifth grade. So it was nice for them to meet someone in person, a "native" if you will, of the islands and hear her stories first hand. Just one of the great things to come out of that is that one of our supporters wants to fundraise for us to have our own sound system (something we've wanted for a long time)--mixer, amp, speakers, lapel mikes--the works! I'm so excited about that. Anyway, Keisha did a great job, and we enjoyed having her with us for the rest of the weekend too.

Keisha telling the children's story during second service at Centerville SDA Church

Keisha stands triumphant,in front of the Centerville SDA Church after a grueling morning of Sabbath School presentations and children's stories.

Babs, Keisha and Mom Leen.

Sabbath lunch on the Leen's patio. Isn't their backyard beautiful! From L to R Mom Leen, Babs, Keisha, and Dad Leen.

So I'm glad Keisha was able to come out. She was here until Monday. We took her shopping, out to eat, for ice cream, to a dinner theater being put on by a local church youth group, anything to keep her from being bored!

Making the pilgrimage to the best restaurants in Ohio. First it was LaRosa's Pizzeria. This hometown restuarant has the best pizza and the best wings in the world. I look forward to going here all year long.

Babs and Keisha at the counter of Graeters on Saturday night, July 15. Graeter's, another Ohio only store est. in 1870 has the Best Ice Cream in the World. Even Oprah agrees! She had the opportunity to come here during a visit ot Ohio and ended up ordering something like 400 pts for her audience members back in Chicago. I had the summer peach. Sublime!

Note the chocolate chunk Bab's Double Chocolate Chip cone. It's more like a slab of chocolate!

Monday morning Barbara's Aunt Judy and Aunt Sarah, and her cousin drove came to visit and we had a nice lunch before we drove back to Columbus, deposited Keisha at the airport for her flight back to California and then spent the evening with J and Evelyn.

Right before we left for Columbus, we took these pictures on the front porch of Barbara's parents home. From Left to Right: Dad Leen, Aunt Judy, Aunt Sarah, Mom Leen, Keisha, Me and Babs.

Here's J, Evelyn, Babs, and I in the parking lot of P.F. Changs in Columbus, Monday evening right before we drove back to Dayton

One of my other vacation actvities! Mowing that vast lawn, every Tuesday while I'm here. Dad's sweeping the driveway in the background

So that's what I've been "busy doing" but truthfully there's something else that's really been sucking up my time:

Free Your Mind.

That's right, if you were to go to the Free Your Mind forum on Interference.com (a website for U2 fans) you will find that I've actually been writing quite a bit. It's such an addiction. And like any addiction, the high is wearing off, but the addiction remains. I mean, I like going in there and all. It's always interesting and always thought provoking, but sometimes your thoughts get tired of being provoked, you know. It get's stressful sometimes. People can get so worked up--so angry, so hurt, so self-righteous, so stupid, and sometimes just downright NUTS! And I've never been comfortable when people "get mad." I'm not a shouter. I don't throw things. I don't curse and slam doors. Likewise on FYM, I find myself getting stressed when tempers get hot.

And I feel compelled to read like every thread. I don't know why. And like yesterday, when I come back after being gone for awhile and have to get "caught up" it can take hours. I spent a couple of hours slogging through a dozen pages of recriminations and lengthy, repetitive arguments about the Lebanon/Israel crisis. You'd think I just skip ahead, or just forget the thread. But no. . .I had to read it all.

So, yeah, I have a problem. And of course I'll be going on FYM right after this. Sick, huh.

Oh, and I'm working on my novel again! Very proud about that. So when I'm on the computer, Free Your Mind isn't the ONLY thing I'm doing.

My only complaint is that the time is going by too quickly. I feel like I haven't even had a chance to really start to enjoy my time here and it's almost over. We arrived here Friday, July 7. We leave this Wednesday, July 26 (the day before our 9 year anniversary).

I missed this (I stayed home, probably on the computer). Babs and her parents at the Dayton Art Institute.

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