Tuesday, December 30, 2008

jedi padawan #004

(before and after shots of the front exterior)

Every step of our current house flipping project has gone well with no indication otherwise.

We are approximately two weeks from completion, assuming no more major US holidays or personal ordeals distract us.

My wife is about to give birth to our third. So, maybe some more personal ordeals await us.

I have enjoyed every minute of this and hope to continue with more partnership projects. As goofily sentimental as this may sound, I might actually miss my little corner of White Utopia. The property is totally bad-ass with plenty of outdoor-type nooks-n-crannies to take my ever coveted cigar break (like the tornado shelter we used on super cold days). Even the Jedi Master has helped resurrect my twelve year hibernation of pipe smoking. It’s hard to envision smoking any other place or time.

I gather that White Utopia has a weird bent to it. People WANT to live there. I mean, it’s weird. But who’s complaining? This is the first house I’ve worked on with the Jedi Master where different people literally stop by daily to ask us about the house. All are inquiring for themselves or “some friends”.

I’m not holding my breath over any of those inquiries. I'm sure it's small town nosiness - as in, locals just wanting to see the old “Richardson house” or whatever and see what those boys are doing to it, etc.

But in recent months I’ve leaned there are two kinds of people in the greater metropolitan fair mother city region: those who will die in White Utopia and those who are DYING to die in White Utopia.

This town has a strange attraction to it. And with the way the whole project has gone, I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up selling it word of mouth, sans realtor.

Friday, December 26, 2008

agent gathering 2008

If the CEO can pay some guy’s tax burden via a fishes mouth, then surely he can provide G13 and myself $50 for beer, burgers, more beer, and coffee.

The CEO of the universe is a good god. And to all you naysayers: don’t ask me why he didn’t provide for our gas to meet in Lubbock via the fair mother city and Amarillo. Who knows these answers to the deep questions of the universe. Sheesh.

But none the less, I met up with fellow Bostonian agent cohort G13 (aka the disability resourcer) in the windiest city on earth, where money literally falls in parking lots.

As mentioned three years ago, I am willing to drive across subdued terrain for 3 hours to drink from the wells of encouragement and friendship. The fair mother city has been a lonely outpost during much of my tenure. I can use outsider views and words into my life right now.

Special agent G13 is a genuine friend with a gifted cut-throat pastoral calling. His low tolerance for drama and bullshit make him the kind of pastor that’s all-too needed in faith gatherings. Kind of like that jackass judge from American idol mixed with Henri Nouwen. Firm caress.

I tip my lousy Texas Amber Ziegenbach to you G13. A rare breed and honest friend.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

castles made of sand

(one of those sappy reflective posts)

As the CEO of the universe gives my family requested fruit for our past endeavors, and as the poverty culture I’ve grown to know and love slowly slips through my fingers, I ponder my calling and future.

I’m sure I’ll be an undercover agent to some degree for the rest of my life. But it’s clear that any remnants in my life of the old izzy group ministry are long gone. Hanging with the homeless and working-poor from within a social ministry apparatus was invaluable training none the less. But fumbling around in disguise as a manual laborer is my deal these days.

Surprise attack. Killed me in my sleep.

I’m loving it. But there’s little time to be with the disability check receiving folks of society. So it goes.

My new work schedule is killer. And my daily cohorts are enjoyable. Chuckie even gave me an unexpected Christmas present: a best-of Jimi Hendrix CD. That is the most incredible thing ever. I am listening to the Star Spangled Banner as I write this. We take cigar breaks twice a day, which I often enjoy my ever favorite Nat Sherman cigarillos.

As a child I promised myself that I would never become a tobacco fiend. But something about manually busting your ass and being part of a step by step metamorphosis makes you enjoy if not expect good reflective cigar smoking.

And as mentioned earlier, Agent Wife and I have begun the process of putting in our request for assignment change. It could be a long wait, assuming it ever happens.

But I assume it will.

So long 2008. You melted into the sea. Eventually.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

testimony #041

Agent Wife & I celebrated 10 years together on Friday.

With two toddlers, limited resources, and an overall consciousness for avoiding ridiculous amounts of money spent for our mere pleasure, we are thankful for friends.

The chef and his wife the nurse offered to spoil us with one of their cool hoity toity meals at their kitchen. In addition to the unique food, it included good beer, great coffee, and a cigar. Four of my favorite things.

And Agent Wife's friends kept our kids for the night. That's something that we never get.

So, I'm thankful to the CEO for all of that...as well as 10 great years of marriage.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

the amputation files

Obi-Wan is still in the hospital. And he is scheduled to have his lower leg removed this Tuesday or Wednesday.

He is in very good spirits about the whole ordeal. It probably helps that he has gone through this exact thing almost two years ago.

I cannot comment on or predict what his future holds. Two years ago after his first leg amputation I was convinced that he would have to move to a nursing home. But back then, his estranged son Lamont had moved in to care for him...until Obi-Wan ran him off.

So this time around, I don’t know. Hopefully Obi-Wan will fly below the radar of Adult Protective Services during his rehab period.

Monday, December 08, 2008

the acid queen

Being an undercover agent is not all hams and plaques. Sometimes there’s real human nonsense (ie: drama) that must be waded through like work boots through a shit tank.

I will spare all of the ridiculous details involving Obi-Wan’s long time aid Nurse Gollum. If interested, the bore-fest can be found here, here, here, here...AND here.

Nurse Gollum retired and fell ill some time ago. Her oldest daughter The Acid Queen has pretty much taken Nurse Gollum’s place in the manipulative and snooping role within Obi-Wan’s life.

Both Agent Wife and myself had run-ins with The Acid Queen today, basically involving my handling Obi-Wan’s checkbook while he’s in the hospital. I am the keeper of the purse at Obi-Wan’s request.

But unfortunately, The Acid Queen has signature power on his account – a fact Obi-Wan would like to change whenever he gets released from the hospital.

It all boils down to The Acid Queen being jealous that Obi-Wan has shifted his trust to me and my family over the last several years.

Oh joy!

Monday, December 01, 2008

jedi padawan #003

Have I mentioned that I love house flipping? I think I’ve finally figured out why.


And that’s it. I mean hey, something flips my switch when I get to watch and be a part of something becoming something else.

Changing a house from a piece of shit into something dignified and valuable happens relatively fast, usually about eight weeks. When I was in full-time ministry with poor people, the transformation in people (and myself) was sometimes so slow or small that you rarely saw the change.

Or you certainly saw nothing significant in eight weeks.

Usually it is against jedi code to show a house to any outside individual or party during the eight week operation. And I agree with that code because so few people have any vision or imagination when they’re standing inside an out-dated dilapidated rat-hole.

But I kind of get a kick when people (even my wife) have that “I’m so unimpressed” look when they come inside and see the “before” stage.


The “after” will arrive soon enough.