Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where I find who?

Tomorrow, I am departing for Malaysia for fall break. I'll be gone from the 'Stan for a week. Infrequent, if any blogging on the trip. Hopefully lots of cool pictures.

The moon is beginning to wax again, and so am I.

Head screwing on straighter, about the things you might think, but not for the reasons you probably do.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

No whorls to exploit

Have a few more.

I just keep a running total of the number of times I keep saying to myself that I need to get my head screwed on straight. It's frightening. I don't know why this came loose, but it did, so we kind of have to deal with it and then move on.

I've got so much work to do, it's not even funny. And I'm putting lots of pressure on myself to get it done soon.

I can't tell if certain things are opportunities or threats. I don't have a handle on my strengths or weaknesses either, so there's that.

A simple regrade.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gorilla synthesizer.

I really need to get my head screwed on straight about some things. Proving more difficult than it should be.

I have to do the Wonderful Computer Based English Test for our seniors tomorrow.

I am slowly getting the computer lab set up.

I have the promo video done and the director likes it, which is a plus.

I need to grow.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Cool Shoeshine!

Tomorrow comes today, and there are just things that I can't get my head screwed on straight about. Sigh. I wish I were not such a failure. Reasons for my intentions, so poor.

How could You be so good?

Do you ever wonder if you're the guy with the coat of many colors, and you just don't know it? That you're totally oblivious to the reactions of those around you?

Some times, when I take a breath, I get surprised that I can. Some times, when I let things get into my head, I am surprised that I can't feel anything about that.

There are things you, we all, do, just so we can feel alive. I have three ways of doing it right now. The first is going out in the dark and shooting hoops, whilst listening to music, or playing horse with random folks. The second is ten minutes into the frisbee game, sprinting down field, jumping and stretching to snatch a long throw away from a defender for a score. That moment, that moment I know I'm alive. The adrenaline running through my veins, the air coursing through my lungs... I'm alive.

I said there were three ways. I hold the third one close to me, because I don't want to ever lose it.

I had Thai food last night, Korean food tonight. I guess I'll be eating Eskimo delicacies tomorrow night.

More things are coming out that I need to stop. Why did I get sent back here? It's taking me far too long to understand, to... realize the answer to that question. Do you wonder if you could make someone cry? Do you wonder if it's all in your own head?

A lion roars on the wind, and we strain to hear it. A lamb bleats softly, and we chose that picture as our metaphor. If all the songs you sing could substitute a few words and be about a boyfriend, where's the depth in that? He is not only to be found in the quiet, in the warm embrace. He is also to be found in the cold desolation, in the thunder of terrible violence. He is also to be found in the red stains on my hands, also to be found in the breaking of my back as I fall again. He is not only to be found as a prop for my weary soul, not only as a happy smile on a bad day. He is found in the sharp rebuke, in the prison we build for ourselves. He didn't come to make us feel better, he came to burn the dross out of us. He didn't come to just fix our problems, he came to draw us closer to them so we would rely on Him to fix them.

I let lies control me far too often, but I'll just carry on as long as my sore back and aching muscles will take me. When I collapse, I will get up and fix my eyes on the prize.

None could be like him. None would be like him.

I wish I could never fail him again.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Begin and it.

There were a couple people having a yard sale this morning. I got a pillow. I've been using this dinky travel pillow for the last year, so I am excited.

We went out to the Thai restaurant tonight. It was OK.

There is no reason I am here except to fight the battle.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Norwegian Blue

This is an ex-Parrot.

FRISBEE! It was good, and I played decent.

I'm getting the computer lab set up slowly. 3 down, 15 to go.

I've got a new school promo video to get done, fortunately, I'm just restructuring the old one, with minimal new footage. Still, it's a project that has to get done by the end of this month, and it's going to be a close thing to get it done.

I keep opening my mouth when I shouldn't, and I keep suddenly having conversations that are a lot harder to work with than I expect them to be. What's up with that?

I saved another child's life today. I am walking past one of the bathrooms and one of the local staffers stops me and says, "Excuse me, Mr. Russ. There's someone stuck in the bathroom. Is locked."

I think to myself, "This is going to be fun."

Knock on door.

"What's happening?"

"I'm stuck!"

"Who's in there?"


The sound of Russ looking around for hidden cameras.

"No, you need to tell me your name."

"[Child's Name]."

The sound of Russ thinking to himself, "Nope, not surprised."

"Ok, [Child's Name], turn the lock. [20 seconds of random lock-sounding noises] No, try the other way."

"Here's the key, Mr. Russ."

The key, spectacularly, fails. There's nothing for it, but to keep having the 1st grader inside try.

"Go the other way. No, [Random 4th Grade boy that walks by], I don't need help, go to class."

At this point, I'm about to tell the kid to stand as far away from the door as he can, and break it down when...

"Click chunk chink swoosh" The door opens. The first grader literally runs away. I figure he's embarrassed enough, I'll just let him go.

Curious as to what the problem may have been, I went into the bathroom and proceeded to get myself locked into the bathroom.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Do not move

Another day, another new project, another implication.

I had 16 kids for elementary basketball. Kind of a hectic event, but pretty enjoyable. I hope I'm getting the kids the abilities that they should be getting, and that they are having fun.

It's so calm and beautiful out.

After deciding not to punch Jonathan in the face, I had a nice time.

Though the darkness may surround, and the light may struggle, though the places that once seemed safe are so much less, though the depths of the sea are far away. I am indestructible, for I am so far less concerned about the air I breathe than with the path I weave. I am working to be less concerned with moving than with seeing. I am working to be unchanged, and to never be the same again.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fore. Because mitosis was waning.

The neat thing about keeping a diary is going back and looking at where you were before. Last year, I really didn't have any reference points, so I couldn't look back in comparison. This year, I have last year, and it's really interesting to compare last year to previous years.

Here's something that was on my mind a little over two years ago:

"Then, on the flipside, things that don't seem like the things that we like, just happen to show us that life really isn't about us. You are fundamentally not the most important person in your life. Let's repeat that, in case you missed it, because this is the main point that I want to make today. You are fundamentally not the most important person in your life. I forget that, we forget that often, to generalize it out to most of humanity."

I'm not the most important person in the life that I inhabit. I was talking to a friend here the other day, and he said something that's been rattling around my head (rattling because my head is really pretty empty) for the last few days. He said that the relationship is the most important thing in our life, then come our actions. It's the dichotomy with whom we know, and how we are to be children and servants. I too often forget to be the first, and only focus on being the second. Here's another snippet from something I said a little over a year ago:

"Just because we are hurting, just because we are weak, it doesn't mean that we can totally abdicate responsibility to accomplish something. Just because we don't exactly feel top of the line, does not mean that we are unable to be used, unable to do our work. Rather, precisely because we are weak sometimes is why we have been assigned the tasks before us. To run to gain the prize, not counting the hindrances or weights on us, but discarding them all. To return to the cold, rebuild, trample our own plans."

I could go on quoting my old thoughts, but I think I've pretty well established my point. I think of myself as a servant, as a dead-to-rights important servant, even when I wonder what I'm doing here, even when I wonder why I am supposed to be here. And this needs to change. I need to become more a child, less a servant. This is not to say that I should serve less, it is rather to say that I should be a child first. This is a paradigm shift for me, and so I'm not entirely sure how to do it right now.

One of the other, absolutely crucial reasons that I write my diary is so that I can go back in a while, and see what was going on, see what I was being taught. Really. I go back and look at my diary or my blogging from two years ago, and there's a lot of, "I don't like this, I'm not content and I don't know why..." stuff. And now I know why. It's because I wasn't where I needed to be, because I had to change, because I had to do something radical like come here. Things like the Malay Tragedy (let's see if anyone else remembers that reference) happened. The job that I thought I was going to stay at forever seemed to head south. It wasn't as though everything was going wrong all at once, rather it was an erosion, like the river wearing a new course in the countryside, that made me move. So maybe in a few years, I'll get what all this was for. Maybe?

Simple patterns in the tessellations
remind me of direction in rolling justice
shining forth in the corners of the earth
more beautiful than the court of a crimson king.

When the galaxy came to be, the local group formed
when nights gained their familiar landmarks and shapes
when no man could have fathomed the depths
when else could You have crafted even my dreams?

A mantle holding the standing stones of my life
I replace nothing which quiets my racing mind
a wandering son, in search of how to truly sleep
ready to die, safe from the prying spade, soon to live.

Just one last bit... Anyone* who in the next four days says to me, "Looks like somebody is planning for the end of the world!" will get something from me, like a laugh, or maybe another joke. Just to see if anyone actually reads my blog...

*not including Jonathan.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Uprooted flowers

I. I am sick. Stomach junk, and lots of being close to the restroom. Not lots of food consumed. Probably good it's the weekend. I stayed in my room all day - read a book, played video games. It was kind of nice.

Argh. Stabbing pain in stomach. Hate. Hate. Hate.

Should have worked more today. Didn't. Getting bad at that. Need to improve.

Going to watch a movie for a while. Maybe read and send e-mails while watching. Having a laptop is nice.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Every time we get a liitle more

I need to go to sleep sooner.

Good day. Good evening. Watched Les Miserables in my backyard on the big screen. Goofed off.

Getting closer and farther to who I should be.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Khaki Pants

There's nothing better than city power, Pringles that are less than two years old, random shared music on iTunes, at 10:45, after a shooting baskets in the dark for an hour.

Sometimes, the things that mean a lot to me are hard to explain to other people.

One foot off the ground

So... today has been kind of nice. Kind of weird. Kind of everything. Work is going good, I'm getting all these new computers figured out, I feel like I'm actually accomplishing something. Sometimes, I don't feel like I'm accomplishing anything at work, because I'm 'just' fixing people's problems. Which is good, which is part of why I'm here, but I want to do new things, improve things, not just maintain. So I have this constant struggle between getting things done and serving people's needs. Today I got to do both, so that's good.

Also, today, I was almost as sick as I've been whilst in Kabul. And that's not that sick, so that is cool. Was kind of uncomfortable, but nothing horrible.

Also, today, we got to play Frisbee! I did OK, a couple decent catches, some crummy throws, but this was the first time in over a week that I've got to play, so that rocked. It's fun to just get out and run and play.

Also, today we had a team meeting, and it combined with my guys group last night has made me think about some things that I think I needed to think about. So another good thing.

So a nice day, all in all.

The question I'm pondering right now is, how much more do I need to focus on being a child over being focused on being a servant?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Back to collide and false hope

Today, while I was in car line, one of the kindergarteners raised his hand for permission to go to the bathroom, and hailed me, saying, "Mr. Toolbox! Mr. Toolbox!" I'm pretty awesome.

Had high school basketball for the first time this school year today. A really great thing.

I've got a number of the new computers ready to go, and I'm starting in on the new lab. There's not enough time in the day to get all the things done that I think I would like to get done in a day.

Transparency mode - enabled.

Those of you who read my blog with any regularity, or those of you who know me, know something about me that I try to hide. I say try to hide because I don't do it very well most of the time if you know about it. But... I have rather sudden and extreme mood swings a lot. And when it starts happening, it takes a while for it to calm down, sometimes months. I feel myself in one of these waves right now, and it threatens to drown me in many ways right now. People who have these will understand this next sentence, and if you don't, I truly am glad for you. But I'm in one of these cycles deep enough right now that I quietly dread being happy. Because being happy means that I'm at the top of an upward curve, and the crash is coming soon.

I've crashed hard a couple of times this last week, and I've had to apologize to people because of it. I've been really up and made people uncomfortable with how bouncy I was. I've been on the gentle slope and been calm, cool and collected. It's not really a fun way to live, surfing on an emotional sine wave, and for a lot of reasons, I need it to stop. The rushing wind has been made strong, and that wind is both a comfort and a struggle.

All creatures lift their voices and sing, and I have little else that I can do.

Transparency mode - disabled.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I just saved a kid's life.

Earlier today, the Kindergarten teacher came into my office and said, "Do you have a screwdriver?"

"Yes, what kind?"

"Actually, can you just come help? [Child] got his head stuck in a chair."


"He stuck his head through the back, and he can't get it back out. Can you help?"


"You can't laugh, I had a serious face about this, and you can't laugh."


You probably know how hard it is not to laugh when you're unscrewing a chair back to get a kindergartener's head out of the chair. While all the other kindergarteners are staring at you. It was awesome! I save the day AGAIN!

I'm so cool, they should name the freezer section in Dillons after me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Whatever it is that I am trying out for, I am doing worse and worse at it these days. The fire's getting hotter, the dross is getting heavier and resisting more, and I'm just plain tired of my own failings.

Does anyone out there who reads my blog know about bikes? I'm thinking of getting one in the States and using my current sympathy points to have it shipped over. I'm doing research, but it would be nice if someone who had some prior knowledge could help.

I wish I was where I said I would be in the end. I'm glad I'm gone from giving and living in the same greed that I used to.

Have we really come this far?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Never far

How could You be so good?

Why would you give me such encouragement?

Why would you be the king we disclaim and disregard?

How could You be so good?

How could you take those who give their lives over to you, when they seem to have so much more work to accomplish?

How could you leave them behind and hurting?

How could You be so good?

When will this imperfection end?

When will we finally get to grasp the purpose for these things?

How could you be so good?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


We watched Patton tonight. I goofed off today and did very little real work.

I'm just irritable, because I again have no water. Frustration.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

With my south

I managed to cope with disappointment and have a decent day. The only thing I really have to say about the trip is I wish people would quit bringing it up. Also, nothing happened this morning that would have meant it was a good idea to not go. We'll see if maybe something comes up this weekend.

I'm just here.

After supper and random goofing off, I got asked to set up the projector and speakers in the backyard, and we watched Phantom of the Opera. It was OK, but it was more cool to watch a movie in the backyard, outdoors.

Not really supposed to go much anywhere tomorrow, so maybe I'll get to get the portable lab set up.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Stupid terrorists, and stupid 'credible threats' and stupid security and stupid me for being rather ticked off about not being able to go on my bike trip because of security restrictions.


At least I get my personal days back, and at least the new computers for the computer lab came in so I can work on those.

That really stinks, because I should be really excited about getting the computers, and instead, I'm frustrated because I didn't get to go on my bike trip.

I need someone to tell me a joke.

Where'd you roll, when you walked on?

Sometimes, I don't have much to say. Sometimes I open this up to start a new entry, and I don't know what I can relate, other than the boring, mundane things that happen to me every day.

Sometimes, I am truly thankful to have friends relate to that I don't have to work or live with.

Sometimes, I realize that when I don't get to play frisbee, my whole week seems a little less palatable. And that makes me sad about myself.

Sometimes, I'm stuck here waiting.

Sometimes, I know that I don't know anything.

Sometimes, I just have a moment where I don't want to know anything ever again.

Sometimes, I am so ashamed of who I am.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm almost where I should be.

Sometimes, I find that the change that has come upon me has rendered me a permanently different person, a person who wouldn't recognize who he has become.

Sometimes, I bring little more progress to my community than that which benefits me.

Sometimes, I guess I am of more worth than I will ever know.

I'm going to be out for a couple days, sorry you won't get an update for a few days.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Less extended steel strings

There are days that you are suddenly reminded of the blackness of your human nature.

- Frustration at not having running water in the building and having to go to a school building to wash my hair, and not being able to take a real shower.

- Irrationality of the worst kind.

- Irritation about people not following procedures that maybe they don't know about (but they should)

- Juvenile behavior

- Mood swings

I feel some days like I'm about to just go falling off this tightrope I walk on. But what's really happening is that I get steadied each time before I tip over. It's other things that are falling off.

The stars and the refraction

Twinkle, Twinkle.

They did every night for quarter of a hundred years, glorious in their silent watch over me. I learned as much by the light of the stars as I did by the harsh lights that burned during the day.

And one day, I count as much as the day at hand, I will see them bright and burning, no atmosphere, no retreat behind distance and time, but there and real.

We had the day off today. I goofed off, played volleyball, did some work, talked to some people. I'd ask that you remember us here. Lots of people are sick, people are gone, and there's a heaviness that pervades during this current time here. We really could use your remembrance.

Do you know that the stars shine just like they do because of design decisions made long ago? And how we would never trade their shining, twinkling for any cheap imitations.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


I sit here in my room, thinking about looking up at the stars last night, and getting this funny feeling in my stomach when I think about how big it is, how much space there is in it, and how much had to go into making all that, how much we'll probably never see, and yet we got made, too, with more care than all that vastness.

I can't imagine any journey that I would want to make more than getting into a shining new colonization ship built by a space dock orbiting the Moon, and slipping quietly into a cryogenic stasis pod, to spend half an objective millennium traveling slower than light to a distant, uninhabited planet. Arriving, and looking around at how the ship we sailed on, the pinnacle of human engineering when we left, has barely managed to limp along for the past hundred years through engine failures, micro-meteor impacts, and the wearing down of ancient systems. Disembarking from our shuttles on the surface of an alien planet, the first humans to set foot on a habitable world other than earth, knowing we can never go back, and for better or for worse, we have chosen this life, a life that will be as hard as any that a human has ever chosen. Looking around after a week and knowing that I was made to be here in this place.

Instead, I live in a city of over four million people where I have to navigate my way through a herd of goats, digging through trash piles or drinking out of the open sewer. A city where power is unreliable, where some days we can't go out, where the people pump dirty water into even dirtier old gas tanks to take home to drink. A city that has been fought over hundreds of times in the last thousand years. A city where light and darkness seem to compete weakly, dust storms during the day and the patch of bright light late at night after the power fades away. It would seem to be hard to be farther away from the shining metal of a new spaceship, the impunctual idealism of desiring to be a colonist in the modern world, the proud pronouncement of my desire to have a 'difficult' life.

And in so many ways, in so many different facets of all these traces of thought, one thing I hold to. I am supposed to be here, I am supposed to live in this city with all of the things that seem to be an irreverent juxtaposition of technologies. I am supposed to live in this place where it seems like life is difficult for no immediate purpose. I am supposed to know that my life is not under mine own control.

This tension between my desires and my realities is the tightrope I walk on. The tension is necessary for my path to be safe, for me to make it to the next side. I find much tension in my life is part of the tightrope, and if the tension disappeared, I would fall into this chasm.

Our lives are a beautiful collision between ourselves and who we serve.

From now on

I don't know that I've said anything of importance here on my blog in days.

I don't know that I'll ever have anything meaningful to say again.

I don't know if I want to be here, or I just want to be in space. I don't know why I want to be in space.

I don't know what I'm going to eat tomorrow since it is a holiday and our cooks are off.

I don't know what I want to do with the time that I am apparently given here.

I don't know anything.

I know who I know.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hearth is bracketed

Another day of randomness and failing, growth and stretching, time and timelessness.

All along, fallen men in their charade gave me no hope.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Tired radials

I've got so much work to do tomorrow, I need to get into 'get stuff done' mode right away. I also need to make a good prioritization/task list.

Sometimes I wonder why I'm here. Sometimes I don't see it at all. Other times, I realize that I'm not just here to do my job, but I'm here to be who I was meant to be.

I'm farther away than I need to be, and I must begin fixing this.

I played volleyball for a couple hours today. I got in one awesome spike and one great block, and a ton of terrible sets.

I watched one of my favorite movies while I ate Afghan versions of a Hamburger, fries and a coke. Then we chatted for a while about our lives.

I threw candy at the walkers.

I'm really not as self-centered as my blog makes me sound, I just have a time talking about my friends without using names or much real identification.

I hate how dry my skin gets here.

I want to grow up.

I wake up and wonder where I am sometimes. Then I remember. So wash my eyes, clothes, my skin, my bones... I'm not forgotten.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Abstractive Retention

I got people to play horse under the lights.

I organized stuff.

I played Command & Conquer (that was left handed!)

I had a good time eating out.

I learned something.

I walked girls places.

It qualified as a good day.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Simple pump and drive

Guess what - I'm fine now. And I'm not sure I should be. Yeah, it's happening again.

Had a good time laughing with friends tonight. Didn't get as much done as I needed to today, and I still don't know what to do about that.

I'm thinking of writing a short short story tonight, so we'll see.

I wish I could walk from here to there right now.

I could have been all those things that I saw, I could have held so many desires in my hands, but what would that have been worth? What would have been the point of me? I do what I say instead, and so I walk alone head first in a pale gray scene.

I am content.

Pagefault - The windowpane

I ate lunch in 5 minutes, went to my room, stuck my headphones in, and listened to The Color Theft loud enough to block out the kids playing outside.

I can't believe I just did that.

You know what's going on now.

I need someone to keep this from happening again.

Too much and overload.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Evidence - Empire Down

Like Abraham Lincoln at a rock concert.

I pretty much failed at dealing with people today. Might have something to do with the 4 hours of sleep I got last night. I need to do more, but I'm not making the right effort.

I also started to oscillate again late today. After having a pretty good couple of days with that, I'm frustrated.

With apologies to my sister, I used to be normal. Or rather, I had a benchmark for normalcy. I have no zero point anymore. Nothing is normal, and I feel like nothing will ever be normal again.

I wish I was in LEO. I wish my phone would never ring again. I wish I would get a phone call I was happy about getting. I wish I was in LEO. The grass isn't greener there.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The room is too loud

Day off today. Meant work, basketball, work, find food, work, video games, guys group. Overall, a relaxing day.

I wish there were a way that I could simply encapsulate all the different things that are, have, and will go through my head. I wish to be normal, but I know it will never happen again.

This place feels more familiar every day, and I just don't know how I feel about that.

I know someday, I will get to see what it is that I have done which will last. How I long for that day.