Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Life goes on...

The old Toyota Corolla parted ways with me last Saturday after logging over 185,000 miles in 12 years.

It was a great car by all accounts. Not once did it require a costly trip to the shop for a major problem placing me at the mercy of unscrupulous mechanics.

I must admit to feeling a pang of sadness mixed with nostalgia as the key and paperwork changed hands. Call it a mere inanimate object, but it still invokes many memories from the past 12 years which encompassed over several major stages of my life.

We've been through so much together.

The most memorable was the day I brought the brand new car home from the dealer's lot on that sultry August day in 1995.

My mother was living with me at the time. After being diagnosed with cancer just two months prior, she was undergoing a particularly difficult chemotherapy regimen at that time.

She wanted to go for a drive. Reluctantly I handed the key to her and hopped into to the passenger side. "Be careful Mom" I pleaded so nervously and prayerfully.

This was my biggest financial transaction to date and it made her very proud. Vanished from her face, albeit momentarily, were the signs of stress from the brutal cancer treatment regimen. Mom had a smile from ear to ear. Her face beamed with pride.


Two months later, I found myself in my supervisor's office negotiating with her to wring out as many days away from the office as possible.

My mother's prognosis had taken a drastic downturn. The doctor had given her an estimate of two months left to go in her 54 years. My sister was in the process of transferring her to a hospice where she was to spend the remainder of her life which was rapidly nearing an end.

My supervisor jotted down on a piece of paper exactly how many more days I could take off. After returning to my desk, I ran through in my head various scenarios of how I could allocate the vacation and sick days left for the year so as to maximize my time at Mom's bedside for the next two months.

Then the phone rang. It was my brother-in-law. Mom had passed away shortly after she settled in the hospice.

I quietly picked up my car key, informed my co-workers of what I had just heard, and walked out to the parking lot to be greeted by the new car.

Soon after that, I found myself on the freeway on the way to the hospice where my sister and her husband waited for me. I looked around while sitting in a typical Southern California traffic jam.

In the midst of the onslaught of raw emotions ferociously assaulting my psyche, here was the one thing that truly dumbfounded and dazed me more than anything.

Here I was:  My life had drastically changed. The unthinkable had happened. But yet, The world kept mercilessly moving on as if absolutely nothing had happened. Cars relentlessly poured onto the freeway. Kids from school briskly walked across the overpass. People ran in and out of shops and fast food joints.

My own world had turned upside down, but yet the world refused to stop and pause even for a second to give me time and space to grieve. With bewilderment mixed with shock, that was what I saw through the windshield of the Corolla on the day Mom died.


Two days later, we were in the parking lot of the mortuary after finalizing funeral arrangements.

My sister invited me to spend the night at her place with her family. As I got into the car, my four year old nephew followed me in. He wanted to ride in "Uncle Dave's New Car."

Nobody was more excited about "Uncle Dave's New Car." He loved to ride in that car. And the car continued to enjoy the moniker "Uncle Dave's New Car" for several years until he finally mastered the concept of "new."

Jason just got his license, and he is now the proud owner of what he used to call "Uncle Dave's New Car" when he was four. I gave it to him for his 16th birthday.

Life goes on.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Looky here

After 12 years and 185,000 miles, I have replaced this car with...

Behold the new Cho Mobile: The Honda Element 2007 EX.

As of two Sundays ago, my mind was pretty much set on the Toyota RAV4, but this guy from church murmured something about it being a "chick car," which pretty much did it for me. It was enough for one person in the whole world to think that for me to decide against it. So I chose the EleMENt.

Now before deluging my inbox with hate mail particularly in light of the previous posting about traditional gender roles, take a deep breath and hear me out. The RAV4's demographic target is young college girls, and this 41 year old man gracing it would be equivalent to hanging out at a Britney Spears concert. It's just wrong and creepy.

I absolutely love this car. It is not in me to "love" a car considering that the 1995 Corolla has been my mode of transportation for 12 years and given my general disdain for the car culture of Southern California. It can hold its ground against other big name SUV's on the road, has better gas mileage and is economical.

And it looks really cool. Call it whatever you want. A lego box on wheels. A toaster on wheels. Some guy asked me if I was delivering flowers. All the grief I've been getting inspires me to adore the car even more. Go ahead and fill the comments.

The Honda Element commands a rabid following. Element owners have their own online club and the local Southern California chapter hosts monthly meetups to get together and swap love stories. I am not sure about meeting these weirdos in person yet. Never imagined a whole subculture around a car model.

The Corolla's air conditioner died, which forced me to endure without one through two summers and several epic heat waves. Although it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, I was ready for a new car.

Not having mastered the controls on the dashboard of the Element, I have yet to learn how to tame the powerful new air conditioner. Its potency incites my nipples to stand up instantly even in the sweltering August heat of Southern California.

I am so sorry if the unfortunate description triggers an unpleasant imagery. I don't know how else to get you to empathize with me.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

To jump on raw nerves

which I think is a great way to resume blogging. Things like this push my buttons and instantly arouse me from slumber.

Check out this AP article titled: New Seminary Subject: Homemaking

(Emphasis mine)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offers coursework in Greek and Hebrew, in archeology, in the philosophy of religion and starting this fall in how to cook and sew.

One of the nation's largest Southern Baptist seminaries, the school is introducing a new, women-only academic program in homemaking a 23-hour concentration that counts toward a bachelor of arts degree in humanities. The program is aimed at helping establish what Southwestern's president calls biblical family and gender roles.

Coursework will include seven hours of nutrition and meal preparation, seven hours of textile design and "clothing construction," three hours of general homemaking, three hours on "the value of a child," and three hours on the "biblical model for the home and family."

Seminary officials say the main focus of the courses is on hospitality in the home teaching women interior design as well as how to sew and cook. Women also study children's spiritual, physical and emotional development.

Yet the program is raising eyebrows among some Southern Baptists, who say a degree concentration in how to be a Christian housewife is not useful, and a waste of seminary resources.

Seminary President Paige Patterson, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has its executive committee headquarters in Nashville, said wives of seminary students asked for the homemaking courses. The program was approved by seminary trustees.

"We are moving against the tide in order to establish family and gender roles as described in God's word for the home and the family," Patterson said at the denomination's annual meeting in June. "If we do not do something to salvage the future of the home, both our denomination and our nation will be destroyed."

Terri Stovall, dean of women's programs at Southwestern, which has its main campus in Fort Worth, Texas, said the purpose of the program is to strengthen families.

"Whether a woman works outside or strictly in the home, her first priority is her family and home," she said. "We just really want to step up and provide some of these skills."

Stovall said the homemaking degree is one of 10 women's programs at the seminary and is "only targeted to women whose heart and calling is the home."

A description of the homemaking program on the seminary's Web site says it "endeavors to prepare women to model the characteristics of the godly woman as outlined in Scripture.

"This is accomplished through instruction in homemaking skills, developing insights into home and family while continuing to equip women to understand and engage the culture of today."

Click here to read the rest.

[My reaction edited out. It got to be too sarcastic and strident for my taste. I hope yours is a bit more measured and constructive.].