Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Engagement Photos 1.0

Pretty self explanatory set o' pictures here.

It's hard to believe that it has only been a week since we got engaged because SO much has transpired in these seven short days....

This is only the beginning :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009


After four long years, Cate Taylor is no longer my girlfriend.

Let that sink in. Those thoughts rolling around your head right now. Although, chances are if you are reading this you already know the beautiful news I am going to share in the next line :)

She's my fiancee.
We are engaged!!!
And therefore, we are getting married!!!

Ok, the real reason for this post is to share the proposal story because I am already tired of telling it, haha, just kidding, I don't think I'll ever get tired of telling it :)

Once upon a time, it was actually this past Tuesday, a dashing and clever young man named Jordan gallantly rode into the city to pick up his gorgeous and gifted/great/ generous girlfriend Cate. He suggested that they go sit on the beach and read the bible together. Because they were in the process of trying to develop a habit of reading the bible together at the beach, this struck Cate as a wonderful idea and not at all suspicious even though both had full evenings planned.

Upon their arrival at the beach, Jordan guided the couple to the approximate spot where she first took him nearly two years ago. They spread out the beach blanket and plopped down to start their study. As Cate fumbled through her purse in a vain attempt to find her bible, Jordan seized the opportunity to surreptitiously slip the engagement ring from its box into his pocket. After several minutes of searching, Cate dispiritedly told Jordan that she didn't have her bible, but Jordan retorted,
"Don't worry, that's not why I brought you here." He then took out his own bible and read Proverbs 31:10-31 (from the NIV),

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

He then told her that the woman described was the woman that he saw in her. That she already possessed so many of the aforementioned attributes and would grow into others and THAT was the sort of woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with; her. He then asked her for a hug and told her how much he loved her, but the hug was rather awkward, as he knew it would be because they were sitting on the sand. So he had them stand up and embrace, then he knelt down on one knee and said, "Will you marry me?" She sank down to him on the sand and started kissing him and crying as the small group of people seated relatively nearby began applauding. Jordan, with no answer yet for his question, inquired, "Is that a yes?" Cate laughed and replied, "Of course it is!"

The two happily cuddled on the beach and watched their first Australian sunset of 2009. For they had attempted to see several others on the beach, but were thwarted by cloud cover and long lines for fish and chips. The happy couple, now engaged, set about calling just about everyone in the world to let them know of their changed status. And they started ACTUALLY planning for their wedding, which they are still doing to this very day.

The End.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Things In My Life

Somehow, I have managed to put 1750+ kilometers (1088 miles) on this beaut.

I haven’t had a single problem with my car that is most likely older than my younger sister (I know how old Nicole is, but I have no idea when in 1989 my car was manufactured, but it might have been before February 24th or even in 1988, but this is a silly tangent).

However, in the time that I have put the bulk of those kms on my car I have: grown another inch or two of dreadlocks, moved into a new (semi- permanent) house, started to get comfortable at work, and played enough rugby to realize that I know absolutely nothing above an elementary level, and maybe not even that much.

Rugby. Considering that the name of this blog is “gridder turned rugger,” I have certainly been skimping on the rugby commentary. There are a few of very good reasons for this. 1) I was just using rugby as a device to document my experiences here, and I will write more about the game and my transition into its ranks as the season progresses. (Last preseason match this Saturday, regular season begins next Saturday!) But, just as I tried not to view my gridder-ness as my defining character trait, I could not even begin to primarily identify myself as a rugger now. 2) Going into this trip I expected to have as much leisure time as I did back home and therefore be able to write on this blog as frequently as I posted on my other sites. I was clearly wrong on both counts. 3) I drastically underestimated just how much one must know about a sport to accurately and legitimately document it. With the exception of my foray into tennis writing, I have only written about sports and subjects that I was intimately familiar with. Yet, I am coming dangerously close to an even games watched/ played ratio. I couldn’t even begin to count how many football or basketball games I have watched and when juxtaposed (gotta find a way to use juxtapose more consistently and less pretentiously, but is it possible?) with my relatively vast game experience in both my watch to play ratio must be around 10 or 15 to 1. Alternatively, I have now played in exactly four rugby games (including sevens and one match at Columbia) and watched five or six. What’s the problem? You might ask. Well, I’m glad you did. The problem is that I watched probably half of those football or basketball games before I ever played in one. Football and basketball are arguably the two most popular sports in America, pretty much every red-blooded male knows them inside and out, but I’m way behind the curve when it comes to rugby, even in the lukewarm rugby state of WA. I am trying to attend as many matches as possible and watch on television with commentary so I can soak up the little details. Right now, I am playing a simple version of a simple game, (on that note, one of my teammates was terribly confused and told me he thought that rugby was a lot more complicated than American football. I rationally demonstrated the thickness of our playbook with my fingers and he began to understand that football is some sort of super-computer chess to the checkers of rugby) essentially just running fast and hard forward when I get the ball and running hard and fast into my opponents when they have the ball. My biggest problems occur when set plays break down, I understand the concepts but to use a Maddenism, I have a low rugby IQ; but in case any of my opponents are reading… it’s growing. Exponentially. Watch out. Haha. But seriously, don’t blink.

Work. Goodness gracious. I could probably write a memoir about my experiences over the past nine months about working with at- risk young people; but I’ll try to keep it short and sweet here. Like I mentioned before, my job is split into three parts: community service coordinator (boring and tedious, paperwork galore), drop-in attendant (lots of fun, just hanging out with kids), and youth worker in the Alternative Learning Centre (definitely the most difficult, but, then again I never thought it would be easy). My thoughts about my primary position, in the ALC, are not fully formed and I don’t suppose they will be for quite some time. With that said, there is one striking difference between my time at the Boys and Girls Club back in Saint Louis and the ALC; genuine, meaningful cultural differences. In America, for the most part, the vast majority of people are reading from the same cultural script. Sure, there are different accents, food preferences, styles of dress, etc, but none of these things severely impact the interactions that people have on a daily basis if both parties are open minded. Another way to look at it is that I might have come from a different background than another person, but generally in an American context, we will hold similar baseline values and traditions (obviously, I’m generalizing here, but you see my point, I hope?). This is probably the case for most western nations, including Australia; honestly if you didn’t hear people speaking or pay attention to centRe’s or coloUr’s you couldn’t tell the difference between mainstream Australia and America’s beachy cities. This is where the indigenous or Aboriginal peoples of Australia and the rest of Australia have an issue. Before I really delve into this touchy subject that I will admit that I am not fully informed about, I just wanted to clarify that these are all personal observations and inferences drawn from behaviors and texts I have read. Over the past six or seven years since I started working with the kids from Aim High then moving on to working with at risk youth in the Bronx to the Boys and Girls Club, I have developed different techniques for dealing with the children I was to teach/mentor. When I first started, I was just about 16 myself so I was never more than a year or two older than the oldest students I was interacting with so I pretty much just looked at the position as me hanging out with other kids from a different part of Saint Louis. As I grew older and gained more responsibility I began to understand the kind of impact I could have on these kids who were craving a role model, particularly one who was male and looked like them. My perception of my role shifted into mentor and role model more than friend, even shifting into the disciplinarian at times because I saw something (lots of things actually) lacking that my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents had instilled into me from the start; respect, courteousness, discipline, a love of learning, motivation, perseverance, civility, and did I mention respect? I thought that these kids had plenty of friends, but what they didn’t have was an older male figure to help them along in life, to be a mentor, heck, even just to throw around a football with. I certainly got static from lots of kids at first, but when they realized that I wasn’t just being hard on them because I could, but because I cared about them and wanted to see them succeed, the friendships came in time. These principles I put forth in my childcare experiences were crystallized at the Boys and Girls Club because it was really the first time that I spent more than just a few weeks consistently with the kids. The kids still liked to poke fun at my lack of ebonic speech, but there was a constant mutual respect that was developed over time. I was all for having a great time with the kids, but they knew never to cross that proverbial line with me because I meant business. ALLLLLL of that brings us to the present day in Perth dealing with predominantly indigenous children in the ALC. These kids are very much like the young people I dealt with at the Boys and Girls Club; many are from single parent homes, lots of drug/ alcohol/ physical abuse, high teenage pregnancy, low literacy, poverty, you name it, they’ve got it. But the literature I have read and the people I have talked to explicitly state that the relationship one forms is paramount when dealing with indigenous young people; this genuinely leaves me at a loss sometimes because it is damn near impossible to build a relationship with someone who has absolutely no respect for you as a human being, let alone an authority figure in a classroom. One of the things I read dichotomized the western educational/social model versus an indigenous Australian model. This in itself was problematic for me because a teacher cannot have a separate set of rules for one group of students and a different one for the other. Even if a socially marginalized group is the exception to the rule, this is not conducive to leveling the playing field in education. One of the most troubling differences that the document drew out was that in the western system, children are expected to follow their parents’ commands, whereas in the indigenous system, children have far greater autonomy (this point was to illustrate why indigenous students might get up and leave a classroom setting without notifying a teacher). This document was extremely biased in a way that seemed to excuse and justify the behavior of indigenous students, rather than looking at real problems and real solutions. Indigenous students might have a greater degree of autonomy at home, but it’s not because this is a cultural feature that differs from western society, it is because so many indigenous children are just being raised by their mothers who are statistically very likely to be an alcoholic or a drug addict and/ or have many other children to look after.

There really is too much to process with all of this. As of tomorrow, I will have been working in the ALC for three full weeks, haha. My background experience and Columbia degree focus on an entirely different situation with a different set of variables; I want to apply what I have learned and what I already know to this time and place, but I’m just not sure that I can. However, I have been praying that God would show me to best way to communicate with and ultimately be effective in the lives of these young people. I started doing this sort of work out of a desire for social justice, but as my faith grew, I realized that, yes, this is about social justice, but more specifically, it’s about showing young people the love of Christ in all of my actions and thoughts. Maybe that means that sometimes the kids will just need a swift proverbial kick in the pants and other times they will just need someone to talk to. No matter how God wants me to love these kids, that’s how I’ll do it.

I’m finished writing now; I have gotten myself in enough trouble already; then again, I still owe that confederate flag waving car dealership a phone call…

Take care.