Tuesday, September 29, 2009

That's Business

As the years go by and I find myself getting older and older (and older), I realize that my perceptions about life alter with the passing of time. My once stalwart conceptions begin to change, to take a different shape. Not utterly transform into something completely different, just morph into something I didn't necessarily expect.

My very first blog post, nearly one whole year ago, consisted of a rant of my distaste for Corporate America. I recognized its need to exist, but I certainly did not have much appreciation for it. If I'm not mistaken, that same theme has found itself threaded across several of my posts. Its strange, really, that after such disgust with the business world, I am lately finding myself having an entirely new appreciation for it. Mind you, the greed that is so evident across the bulk of Corporate America still makes me vomit in my mouth a tad. I don't see that ever changing. However, I have been seeing business through new eyes.

Not terribly long ago, I was introduced to the concept of microfinance institution, or MFIs as they are commonly referred to. In case you are new to the term, MFIs help to provide loans to low-income individuals and business in poverty-stricken areas of the world. The loans are folded into entrepreneurial endeavors, varied as they may be, ranging from purchasing a new cow or goat for a farm to soda pop production and selling. This provisions people who would never have been able to do it on their own to have a boost, a helping hand towards providing for their families. The lofty goal is to help people help themselves out of seemingly hopeless situations of extreme poverty. That's business. It is the business that enables people to eat, to put food on the table, to afford medical care, education for their children. Business gives them the basic necessities of life.

My desires to work for a non-profit one day have not changed. Helping people is still my ultimate goal, in a larger capacity than most corporate employments will be able to give. However, my perspective of business in and of itself are very much changing. I have a new found respect for our economic structure in leaning on corporate jobs for stability. I think I'm just looking at it from a different angle, an angle that makes sense to me. Perhaps for most of the monitor-heads sitting behind desks in a corporate job, it may be all about bringing home as much bacon as possible. For me, it will never be that. Yet, I respect it now. And I find that to be terribly interesting.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stop Chewing on Mommy's Cellphone

I imagine the things that you say as a pet owner, particularly of an infantile pet, are similar to the things that you say as a parent of a real, live human child. Things like "don't eat that", "stop licking the toilet", and "go ahead and put your nose in that hot cup of tea and see what happens." When I committed myself to this little ball of fur a few short months ago, I don't believe that I imagined the phrases that would shortly be emitting from my lips.

A few short months ago, I doubt that I would have believed you if you told me that I would currently have baby kitten teeth marks on my laptop. I may have giggled a bit if you told me that I would be worried about damage done to my cell phone from slobber. I most certainly would not have believed you if you said that this kitten would eat anything and everything, from ice cream, to potato chips, to grapes. To date, the only thing he has yet to try to eat or drink is wine. He goes to stick his little face in my glass and then backs up with his eyes half closed and his nose crinkled. Yes, in case you were wondering, kittens noses do crinkle. Now, my mother would tell you that he does that because he's smart and his instincts are telling him that wine is bad (hi, mom!), however I feel it has something to do with the tartness of the scent. Regardless, its rather amusing.

I have a grape currently rotting under some random piece of furniture of my apartment. I probably won't find it until it starts fermenting and the cockroaches that I'm sure exist in this house come out of the woodwork looking for their next meal. Cute little kitty will most likely find himself flung into the throes to fend off the evil beasts as punishment.

When Oliver first came into my life, someone said to me that perhaps this was a preparatory season for me, with the strong implication towards the future pitter patter of little feet. I admit, I am a bit sad that it is not ok to fling children across rooms onto beds (where they inevitably bounce and hit the wall. Not that I've done that with my kitten or anything...) I've come to learn that I do not have alot of patience for small things being constantly under foot and getting into simply everything. Did I mention that I left a bag of cat food out that last for about 3 minutes before it had 3 holes in it? Sigh.

This experience has made me seriously doubt my faculty at being a mother to real, live human children. If my patience is this low with something that I can lock up and ignore its cries for a while, how ever will a manage a household of screaming children that climb bookcases and spill cereal all over my newly vacuumed living room floor? I suppose that this is a preparatory season for me, regardless of if I ever have my own human children. My patience is being built up, even if I go kicking and screaming.

It is amusing to me the way that God chooses to teach us important lessons. My patience is being built up by a small cat. It is rather strange.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I wonder...

How much am I willing to give up? I mean, actual, full blown reality. How much? I've been pondering this question innumerable times in recent weeks. One of my last posts touched on my inquiries into the depths of my soul and mind about my willingness to sacrifice, and this has continued to haunt me. I look around me, at all my "stuff", at my comfort, security, the normality that I've grown so accustomed to and I question whether I could give it all up if called to do so.

Its incredible to me how much security "stuff" brings. Having all the things that make up a life and a home, all those material possessions produce a sense of security, albeit false most of the time. What exactly do we think all of these "things" can do for us? In reality, what can they do? Absolutely nothing. Sure, they make our houses nice to look at and comfy to visit. But they don't provide any security, not really.

Our society is drenched in the want of "things." Clothes, shoes, jewelry, furniture, big TVs, lots of DVDs and BluRay discs. These things are all material and have no value aside from what we give them. One can't take these "things" to their mansion in heaven, they are only for our benefit here on earth, for the few short years that we can enjoy them.

The thought of storing up my treasures in heaven and not focusing on the "stuff" that can only weigh me down here on earth has been plaguing me. I don't consider myself to be a materialistic person, and yet, I opened my closet the other day and was filled with disgust. I have all this "stuff", "things" that have no intrinsic value. They're only as important as I've made them, and I became disappointed in myself for the worth I placed on them. If I put a dollar amount on the shoes and clothes in my closet, I wonder if I would be embarrassed by that. I wonder if I would be overcome by my selfishness. I wonder if I would think about how many children I could have fed, how many wells could have been built, if medicine could have been provided for that dollar amount. I wonder...

Now, I realize that there needs to be a balance. I understand that one cannot live one's life deny oneself of all pleasures because we have been blessed to live in a country that is financially stable. However, I wonder if I've tipped the scales in my favor, rather than someone else's...

I wonder...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Captcha, Kittens, and the City

I find "captcha" to be a funny word. Its quite enjoyable to say, as well. It kind of just rolls off one's tongue like butter off of a piece of corn on the cob. I'm wondering if I took a poll right now, how many of you would know what that word is referring to. It may be more common knowledge now, but several years ago people looked at me like I was attempting to create my own form of pig latin or something.

In case you don't know, captcha is the computer generated way of ensuring that a human is posting something, like a comment on this blog, rather than just a spider out on the internet on a spamming trip. It shows up in the form of those funny words that you have to input into a text box. Some are sheer gibberish, but others are quite amusing. I must say, has done a fabulous job with their captcha words. They're variations of English words, or just odd spellings of them. Its quite entertaining, really.

On another note, I have been living in Philadelphia for 3 weeks now, and I have only been downtown once. This is nearly shameful. I believe that I have simply been too busy and tired to have the energy to venture out. I may have to carve out some time tomorrow. Because, really, wasn't being close to the city half the reason for me moving down here? Geez!

If anyone is in the market for a 5 month old kitten, please feel free to let me know. He is so cute that one almost can't stand it. And he'll only make you completely insane 97% of the time. He will snuggle up with you and then kneed his claws into your neck. He loves to play, particularly with any piece of flesh he can get his teeth on. You can have nifty art work on your hands from all the scratch marks, added bonus! He will bite your toes and jump on your face. I've learned to keep a water bottle attached to me at all times for the sake of my phalanges. But he sure is cute...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Coffee and Sacrifice

First, I'd like to point out that I'm writing this while soaring thousands of feet above the ground aboard a 737 aircraft. I wonder what the Wright brothers would have thought if they knew that their first very primitive flight would eventually lead to such things. The advent of technology provides the average joe with luxuries that are almost silly in their unecessity.

However, I am grateful for the ridiculousness of modern day life because it affords me the opportunity to put down my thoughts, regardless of my location and proximity to solid earth. I have spent significant minutes and hours as of late pondering the concept of sacrifice. True, painful sacrifice. Not just the giving up of niceties that allows us comfort throughout our normal day. I mean the kind of sacrifice in that God asks us to give up everything, to leave behind the normalcy and amenities of Western life in an industrialized nation.

I attended a benefit performance this past Sunday that was raising funds for clean water wells in Africa. This is a strong interest, dare I say passion, of mine because of the seriousness of the lack of clean, sanitized water. Wars are fought over water. Thousands of people die each day from water related illnesses that are so preventable. Entire nations can be devestated with sickness, famine, and war all because of the scarcity of water. During the performance, each audience memeber was charged with a very simple task: drink nothing but water for the next 2 week. With all of the money that is saved from not purchasing soda, wine, beer, tea would be tallied up at the end of the fortnight and then sent to the sponsoring organization for the continuation of the project in Africa.

Simple enough, right? Try it and realize that the sacrifice of something so simple is in reality difficult. I have been drinking tea and coffee and beer and wine since then (although, I did not pay for any of it). The simplicity of needing that boost of caffeine in the morning or the casual drink with a friend after work is suddenly interrupted if you are sacrificing something so simple. I am ashamed of not giving up something so very elementary.

I suppose I am telling you this out of guilt. Yesterday found me picking up Elizabeth Elliot's biography on Amy Carmichael, a missionary in India over a hundred years ago. She decided at about the ripe age of 24 that God had a calling on her life to go to the nations. Twenty-four. Here I am, three years the senior, and I can't even give up coffee for 2 weeks. Its shameful.

I don't understand the concept of sacrifice. Not really. Sure, I may know how to give up the comforts of life sometimes. But could I do it permanently if so called to do so? Can I discipline myself enough to learn to give things up? To be selfless, truly selfless?

I think, like most things, sacrifice needs to be learned. Its most certainly not something that is built into our DNA. It is burning on my soul to begin to earnestly pray for a sacrificial spirit, for a heart that is willing to give up, to let go of all of my nice things. I don't want to get caught up in the worldliness that is rampant in our society. God help me, its the last things I want. There is no permanence, no immortality to the comforts of life. It is all fleeting, here today and gone tomorrow, never to be seen again.

I want my desires to be of things above, of heavenly worth and import. I can only pray that my heart will be changed like Amy Carmichaels. That my flesh will melt off, never to be heard of again. For this, I ask for your prayers.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

For the Love of Traffic

I've decided that I have quite a strong dislike of traffic. Not that this is necessarily any kind of life changing epiphany. I'm mostly certain that I've never particularly enjoyed traffic. But I do now know that I definitely, most certainly really, really don't like traffic.

This is perhaps a very unfortunate conclusion, considering that I just situated myself in one of the most densely populated cities in the US in terms of residents. I also have to drive, not once, but twice daily on the Surekill Expressway, as we like to call it round these parts. The number of vehicles on that road each morning and early evening is quite incredible. Whoever decided to make it a 4 lane highway, with 2 running each east and west, should probably be horsewhipped. It simply was not a smart idea. One bazillion cars do not easily fit on so few lanes for traffic.

It should only take me 40 minutes round trip to get to and from work. It takes me an hour on a good day. Sometimes that hour is spent going one way instead of both. Do the math on how much time I could potentially spend in the car each day. I am hearing my mother's sweet voice in my head saying, "why don't you look for an apartment closer to work?" This is such an excellent question. The answer would be that when I moved down here less than 2 weeks ago, I had one friend in the area. Who happened to live in Manayunk. Which happens to be a non-trafficed 20 minute drive from the office. I think any normal person would gravitate towards living close to someone they know.

I like Manayunk. Alot. Its kind of a yuppie area, which provides plenty of coffee shops and a Banana Republic right on Main Street. There are great restaurants and cute art galleries. And I can be in the heart of Philadelphia in 10 minutes. Without any traffic, of course.

I am not sorry that I moved to this lovely neighborhood. Not yet anyway. Ask me in a month and I may be so tired of feeling like I'm living in a 4 year olds dream of backed up matchbox cars, with definite crashes and explosions around that make such fun noises. But for now, I try to keep my frustration at bay and my road rage semi in check. I suppose I'll get used to it and probably will hardly notice after a while.

Until then, I'll need to find the closest library so I can get some good books on tape.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How Do You Punch a Noun?

I do not enjoy allergies. At all. Those of you who have been following my blog for a while are much informed of my strong dislike for seasons of much pollen and other invisible contaminants that cause such violent reaction.

I've woken up for the past two mornings feeling like someone punched me in the face. Literally. My sinuses are about to explode (with what, I'd rather spare you details). My teeth hurt. My throat is sore. My eyes are akin to a leaky faucet. Its fun. Really. By fun, I mean like trying to clean railroad tracks with your tongue and some foaming bathroom soap.

I ate two full meals today. One of which I paid for. I can't tell you what either of them really tasted like because I've lost 97% of my sense of taste. And smell. I've only caught half of the conversations at both said meals because my ears are so clogged that everyone sounds like they're talking under water. I've smiled and nodded alot.

Every year round this time, I start getting a wee bit excited for fall. I love fall foods, fall smells, fall tastes (pumpkin spice lattes... mmmmmmm). I love breaking out the fall fashion of light sweaters and jeans and scarves. Especially the scarves. But the past few years have had me dread the gorgeous changing colors of the leaves because I know that means waking up in the morning with a small anvil dropped on my face. Its so not fun.

Oh well. I suppose it makes me thankful for the times of year when I can actually breathe deep and inhale the scents that remind me that I'm alive. There are much worse things in life to suffer from. I could have cancer or be missing limbs or be apathetic. I definitely believe I will take allergies over all of those.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm Sorry, what?

Some of you may be wondering why the lack of postings for the last month or so. Most of you probably know, though. Life does have a way of turning itself upside down and inside out in a matter of a few short weeks that can leave one reeling in its wake. I have had just that type of month.

On a whim, I decided to interview for a job in the Philadelphia region. Within a week, I was offered, and accepted, the position. This translated into a mad rush of finding an apartment, adjusting my expectations of the next few years of my life, and a general psychosis of deciding to, and then following through, with a major life change. In a very, very short period of time.

I started said new job yesterday, after moving into Manayunk, a delightful neighborhood in Philadelphia, and saying goodbye to everything that I've known. I can safely say that this was not part of the plan that I had for my life, but that is just like God to go completely against what one thinks is the right path.

I am excited for what my future holds, for the new and exciting experiences that I will have in the big city, and for more expectations to be blown out of the water. I have no idea what my life holds down in the Philly, but I do know that its going to be good. I am used to having to fight for things tooth and nail. For once, everything just fell into place beautifully and without a struggle. It was strange, really. Almost disconcerting in its simplicity. Its what I like to call it a "God thing." And I'm sure it will be quite the ride.