elizabethtown, long quiet drives, and friends (real ones).

no, not the movie.  in fact, surprising though it may be, i’ve never seen it!  i’m actually referring to the small town in kentucky itself, not the movie that got its name there.  last weekend, i met one of my dearest friends in the whole world in elizabethtown (it’s halfway between where we live), and it was great.  we talked about our lives, about the crazy, about the unexpected, about joy, about letdowns, about dreams and visions, about hopes and fears.  in short, we did what we always do after going nearly 2 years without seeing one another…we picked up right where we left off!

on my drive home later that night, i reflected on our conversation, and i was overwhelmed with appreciation.  at a time in my life where i feel like nearly nothing is certain and so many things are nothing if not completely up in the air, it was so nice to be reminded of the true value of friends.  real friends.  not the ones who are there when its convenient.  not the ones whose trust and time you have to earn or prove yourself worthy of.  not the ones who take more than they give.  i’m talking about those few, those rare, those irreplaceable people in my life that, even in the midst of some of the most overwhelming times of my life, get me, know me, love me, and are there for me. 

to those few, i just want to say ‘thank you’ (you know who you are). 🙂

great book.

THREE WORDS: READ THIS BOOK.

 

 

In a debut effort that I find difficult to label as anything other than an “instant modern classic,” Leif Enger has created a tale that is gripping, unique, and above all, beautifully written. 

Enger’s prose is brilliant and poetic, and his characters are quite simply some of the best I’ve ever read. I found myself loving some characters, hating others, and often finding the line between those two emotions to be fantastically and, as I came to understand Enger’s style, intentionally blurred. 

The most reasonable comparison I can offer is the timeless “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee. The innocence of Reuben (the narrator) immediately calls to mind the voice of Lee’s Scout, a likeness that is only strengthened by the fact that both of the accounts are retrospective. I realize that this is lofty praise, but Enger’s writing holds up to such demanding scrutiny. 

I won’t give a long plot summary here, as I’m sure there are plenty of those out there already. I will say this, though: if you enjoy poetic, well-written, and original books and have even the slightest appreciation for character development and vivid imagery and laugh-out-loud description, you simply owe it to yourself to go out and pick up a copy of “Peace Like a River.”

for your enjoyment…

Kelley McRae – “Highrises In Brooklyn” (mouse over and audio player should pop up)

here’s the title track from kelley’s newest album.  check it out…post comments…buy her album on itunes.

…and i’m back in the game!

so, yes, it’s been forever since i posted…and no, i didn’t fall in the ohio river or get lost on my way from houston to cincinnati.  the past few months have been one huge whirlwind, and i’m only now starting to catch my breathe and settle into some semblance of ‘life as usual’.

i moved to cincinnati in june, and it is a wonderful city.  it has that small city/big town feel that is unique to only a select few cities that i’ve ever been.  she’s a much older city than anywhere i’ve ever lived, so there is a ton of gorgeous architecture and design everywhere.  everywhere you look the old-school city threatens to burst from the shiny new veneer that’s slowly settled over it in recent years…much in the same way that an amazing antique table’s real beauty is suppressed by a woven tablecloth.

this summer was a good one.  my family visited for a few days in late june, and it was so much fun to experience some of the city with them while they were here.  it’s weird, but i miss everyone more here than i did when i was in houston.  i think it’s partially because houston just seemed so much further away from everyone, whereas cincinnati feels closer (which is only true by about 45 minutes of drive-time).  also, i was always so swamped with coaching duties down there that i didn’t have time to miss anyone too much.  here, i’ve been able to really focus on my teaching duties and then go home.  it’s quite nice, actually.  i miss coaching a lot, of course, but i also like being able to stay at school for a few hours to grade papers and then leave work at work and enjoy my evenings (it’s amazing, i tell you…a whole new world!).

ellen and i went to several reds games this summer…which were fun, but the team stinks this year.  they say they’re rebuilding for next season, but apparently they’ve been saying that for quite a while.  i hope they get it figured out…there’s no use in having a baseball team in town if they only bring dismay in rooting for them.  i won’t even discuss the bengals.  i’ll spare you the grief…and the rap sheet.

my new job is at cincinnati hills christian academy, a small private school northeast of cincinnati.  it is amazing, and i love going to work every day.  my coworkers are great, the kids actually do what you ask them to (the first time you ask them!), and our facilities and resources are fantastic!  the parents have been tremendously supportive.   it’s a good fit for me, academically, professionally, and spiritually…and it’s such a low-stress job compared to other schools that it really seems like a place that i could be for a long time.

i also found an amazing church that i’ve loved going to and hope to get plugged in with in the coming months.  it’s called crossroads community church, and they have a really refreshing take on what the purpose of the church really is and should be.  it’s so laid-back, and the pastor obviously has a passionate heart for the congregation and for people in general (which is so refreshing after some of my church experiences!).  if you’re interested in it, or are just curious…here’s the website: www.crossroads.net.

i think i’m going to end up playing in an indoor soccer league, as well.  one of my coworkers put me in touch with the girl who nannies for her kids, and she and her boyfriend play in an indoor league in mason (a little north of here).  this week, i went to check it out and watch them play their last game of this season, and i think i’m gonna play with them next season.  i’m pretty excited…it’s been a while since i’ve played at any competitive level at all.  time to get back in shape!

ummmm…not a whole lot else to report.  ellen started her master’s at ohio university in athens about a week ago.  i think she’s enjoying it so far. 

if i haven’t talked to you in a while, please drop me a line…whether it’s a comment on here, a phone call, a text, an email, or a facebook message…i don’t care…just let me know how life’s treatin’ ya.  even though i’m slowly settling into life as an ohioan (i think that’s what i am now…?), i still think of you often, and i miss hearing from you guys!

great weekend in houston.

since it’s soccer season (we have a game tonight, in fact), i am officially admitting how terrible i’ve been about keeping up with friends and family and keeping everyone abreast of my life here in the Arrogance State…er, i mean…the Lone Star State.  so i figured i could update a lot of you with a brief post about a few recent goings-on in my life and the lives of some of ‘my people’.

this weekend was fantastic.  ellen came to visit me in houston on thursday, and she didn’t have to fly home to cincinnati until yesterday afternoon.  what’s more, the soccer tournament that was scheduled for this weekend (friday night and most of saturday) ended up being postponed and then cancelled due to weather, so we had an entire day and a half that we didn’t initially plan on having all to ourselves.  she knew that the tournament was this weekend when she booked her flight, so she was planning on watching some (actually, quite a bit of) soccer (how cool is that, right?); nevertheless, it was really nice to have all of that extra time to spend together.  the whole cincinnati-houston thing definitely puts a damper on the quality-time-together aspect of our relationship, so an extra day and a half was actually a huge bonus.  it really made her visit seem much longer…in a totally great way.  🙂

we ate at several really cool restaurants downtown, got to hang out with sean and laura one night, spent a rainy evening inside watching bad tv and movies, went to see 27 dresses (actually pretty good…especially for a chick-flick), went on a quest one night for a restaurant that serves brownies (i mean, seriously, is it really that much to ask?  i was shocked at the difficulty we encountered and the scarcity of such a seemingly common dessert), went downtown to hermann park on sunday afternoon and enjoyed the sunny (albeit chilly) weather while we walked around, made several random trips to sonic to try a whole slew of slush flavor combinations, and even caught some of the packers/giants game.  (on a side note, i’d like to both air my disappointment with brett favre not being in the super bowl after the freakishly successful year the cheeseheads have had and send eli manning my condolences for the severe and total beating which he and his new york football giants will undoubtedly endure in the super [lopsided] bowl in a few weeks).  but i digress…in short, the whole weekend was so great, just to have ellen here and to be able to experience parts of the city that i had never really encountered.

my family was all in memphis to see anthony’s show (he’s on a national tour of high school musical), and he was actually on as one of the leads for this tour stop.  they all said that he did a great job…which is no surprise…and they all seemed to really have enjoyed the show.  i wish i could’ve been there with them, but i at least got to see the show a few weeks back when he was in little rock.  it was great to see him for that weekend and to spend some time with him.  we rarely get to hang out, and it was totally worth the drive to little rock to be able to see him for a few days. 

i miss seeing my fam…i’m really looking forward to seeing them in april when i go home for matthew’s show.  he got one of the lead parts in one of the big shows at southern miss this spring, which is a huge accomplishment considering the miniscule attention and recognition most usm freshmen receive in the theater department.  he’s been really successful, and i’m really pumped that he’s enjoying school so much.  in the words of ron burgundy…he’s kindof a big deal.  i’m pretty proud of both my brothers…if you can’t tell.  i’m just trying to figure out two things: 1) where the heck did this whole acting/performing gene come from?? and 2) why the heck did it skip me?? 

so to all of my family and friends, i really hope that you can forgive me for being such a small blip on the radar screen that is your email inbox or your cell phone call list.  i hope you guys are all doing well.  i miss all of you and look forward to catching up with you sometime soon(most likely when soccer’s over).

woo hoo!

this post is for those of you who’ve kept up with the clash of the choirs competition over the course of this week–namely krystal, sean and laura, jon and elizabeth, many of my coworkers, and pretty much my entire family.  thanks for tuning in and voting for cincinnati!  it seemed as though nbc was ready to hand over the title after monday night to patti labelle and her philadelphia choir, but nick lachey and his crew truly (and undoubtedly) proved themselves to be the best of the bunch as the week progressed. 

on behalf of cincinnati, myself, and a particularly cute member of cincinnati’s choir, i just want to say thanks again to everyone who played a part in cincy’s victory.  now hundreds of children will receive life-saving medical care by way of the $250,000 donation that team lachey won for children’s hospital in cincinnati.  a wonderful end to a wonderful show.  i hope you were fortunate enough to catch at least part of it.  either way, i wish you all the merriest of christmases.  i hope your holiday season is a great one!

clash of the choirs. (go cincinnati!)

if you like american idol, if you appreciate music, if you (like me) aren’t one of those lucky people who was blessed with musical ability and are amazed by those who are…then you should be watching clash of the choirs on nbc.  the show, which began last night (monday, 12/17), and will run through thursday (12/20), is a lot of fun.

the show is basically a competition between choirs from five cities: cincinnati, philadelphia, houston, oklahoma city, and new haven (connecticut).  a celebrity–nick lachey, patti labelle, kelly rowland, blake shelton, and michael bolton, respectively–from each of the cities when back to his/her hometown to select a choir of 20 singers.  the five choirs are competing for a $250,000 donation for a charity in their respective cities.

someone very near and dear to me has been selected as a part of cincy’s choir, so i will shamelessly encourage you to not only watch but also vote for lachey’s choir.  they’ve been great both nights, performing natasha beddingfield’s ‘unwritten’ on monday and garth brooks’ ‘friends in low places’ on tuesday.  both songs were high-energy performances, and the variety of the two selections show off the versatility of lachey’s choir. 

tune in tomorrow from 7 to 9 (central time), and, given the cincy crew gets the nod for round three, vote for them wednesday night to win it all!  it is a fun show with great music.  they’ll be doing christmas tunes on wednesday, too!

if you’re curious about the show and want more info, check out www.nbc.com and click on ‘clash of the choirs’.