Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Break Me"

Back in June, I promised that a recording of one of my new songs was on the way. Three months later, it's finally done.

"Done" being a relative term. See, I envisioned the song for a man (since there's a line about being a king) and with a sort-of angry rock vibe to the chorus. The only problem is that I can't really sing, and Amanda, who plays all the instruments for me on her keyboard, hasn't been in a rock band. So this is an extremely amateur demo version of the song that we ended up with. (Any friends with musical talent who want to help record a new demo are welcome to volunteer...) Nevertheless, it's close enough to what I wanted that it's worth sharing at this point.

Disclaimers aside, I really like the song itself. The idea behind the lyrics is that it's really easy to get lulled into a false sense of achievement in one's Christian walk. Maybe for a while we struggle and strive, but then we see other people around us perfectly content and happy to be doing token service to God and it's easy to wonder: Why am I striving so hard? I could just put on the right outward show and no one would be the wiser.

For me, I am not strong enough to break out of that lethargy and stasis once it gets ahold of me. I think: That's probably a good idea, I really should love more, I need to wake from this slumber — but I never get beyond thinking. I just can't bring myself to be the one to pull the trigger. I have to give myself over God and allow him to shatter my illusions about myself, and to break my spirit of inertia. I pray for winds of change, for life to strip me clean, so that my Christian calling is unearthed from piles of rationalizations. This song is about being forcibly destroyed and remade — the sheer terror of that, and the unsettling knowledge that my heart truly needs it.

music & lyrics by Steve Lansingh

(if the embedded version won't play, you can download the song here)

I want to be like you, but there's so much of me
that I find I can't let go
I want to share your grace, but I'm too opaque
to let your spirit show

so break this earthen vessel
to let your glory shine
I just can't swing the hammer with
these timid hands of mine
and when I am made nothing then
I'll fin'lly be alive...

just break me, devastate me,
shatter my life with your majesty
invade me, subjugate me,
and in your power remake me
in your power remake me

I want to be your hands, I want to be your feet
but I live within my skin
I keep my distance and put up resistance
to taking others in

so free me from this fortress
where only I am king
batter e'vry rampart
and grant me suffering
then lead me out to greet those who
you love so achingly

so break me, overtake me,
rule in my life in your sovereignty
embrace me, permeate me,
and in your power remake me
in your power remake me

i want to be like you, but there's so much of me
that I find I can't let go

Friday, September 11, 2009

Our city block

(click to enlarge)

Here's an aerial tour of our new city block. We're the building with the magenta sqaures around it. Within a couple-minute walk we have such favorite places as:
  • the Puget Sound, the beach, and bike path (yellow circles)

  • two full-sized playground for Corin, and picnic area on the beach (orange circles)

  • our favorite old-fashioned diner, Pepperdock; our favorite fine-dining restaurant, Siam Pura; and a Tully's for escaping Corin and getting writing done (blue circles)

  • community events, classes, and programs at the Alki Bathhouse and Alki Community Center (green circles)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The big day

Inside the condo

I had a chance 10 weeks ago to share my excitement about possibly securing a place here on Alki, but I didn't delve too much into the condo itself because we knew that Plan A was never a sure thing. Now, with keys in hand, I can share a little more about the living quarters.

The condo is a three-story building, and our unit spans the second and third floors of the building. The is our first place to span more than one floor, and I have to admit that it was a huge attraction. Our nature is to be messy, to let clutter flow from one room to the next and take over. That's been particularly true since starting our home business, as there was never a clear demarcation between living space and work space. Now there is. The downstairs can be the place to play, eat, relax, and entertain, and the upstairs can be for work and for projects. Our hope is to be able to have our friends over more often this way, although you will never be allowed upstairs, sorry.

Along with two floors comes two bathrooms, something we've never had either. Actually, it's two half baths: Downstairs is a toilet and sink, and upstairs is a toilet and tub, with two separate sinks in each of the bedrooms. That affords a lot opportunity to get ready without stumbling over each other (but more sinks to clean, darn).

Other things new to us include a washer/dryer in unit, which is not uncommon in apartment buildings these days but we've never been fortunate to have, so that's the end of lugging hampers up and down stairs, huzzah!

We have a real working fireplace now (instead of a fake 1920s electric one), although I'm not sure how often we'll actually use it. The master bath has a full-length mirror as a closet door, so now we can see more clearly how bad we look from the waist down. Oh, and a garbage disposal, that's new to us, and something that we've missed a lot.

The other thing I'm looking forward to is being able to keep our curtains open. I like light. I like the openness that windows bring to a room. And yet in our three apartments, we've always been near a lot of foot traffic, and people always turn their heads and look inside our place. I get self-conscious when I'm sitting around on my couch and strangers are walking down the path and staring at me. I prefer privacy, especially if I'm wrapping stacks and stacks of packages, or still wearing pajamas, or any of the other work-from-home oddities. But being on the second and third floors, there is no one at all to look in on us. (Except for an apartment building a couple blocks away, although you'd need binoculars to see in, and I'm sure I'm not that interesting.) So we can at last be free to have a lot of light and openness in our place without feeling spied on. Nice.

Speaking of light, I forgot that each of the bedrooms (and the hallway) have a skylight installed. It's the only unit in the building that paid for that upgrade when the did the roof, so it's a nice perk and adds a lot of light, plus they can be vented when the weather is hot. (And speaking of the roof, the building recently finished all major renovations including roof, siding, and windows, so we don't have to endure the year of scaffolding on the place that everyone else had to.)

There are a few downsides from perfection, the first being that there is no garden for Amanda. There is a nice picture-window box for plants that extends from the side of the building to capture lots of light, but, still, it doesn't offer the same opportunities that her double-bed garden at our apartment as afforded. There is also the fact that we'll have people living next to us on three sides once again (our current place is adjacent only one other unit), which means we'll have to be careful of keeping the noise down (not always easy with a toddler) and being aware of the late hours (not easy for us night owls). And we will now be part of a Home Owner's Association, which is something we've never done before, and we've heard stories of people having conflicts with their HOAs that has made us nervous. On the other hand, I like the chance it gives us to get to know our neighbors better, which we've haven't done very well in apartments.

OK, enough prologue. Here are two quick sketches (not to scale at all) that I've drawn up of the general layout of the two floors so that when you see the photos, you'll have a rough idea of the context (click to enlarge):

And here are photos off the realtor's website of the inside of our condo. These are probably more interesting for you to view than if we took our own photos (since it's now completely blank and empty), although I should mention that the staging is more bachelor-style than what we're hoping to achieve: a more beach-cottage feel. Enjoy!

fireplace/living room

patio/dining area


living room/patio

downstairs bath

master bedroom

master bath

second bedroom (here staged as an office)

extra sink in the second bedroom

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My place in this world

Looks like here's where I'll be camped out for the next 20-40 years of my life!

(photo taken by local pilot/photographer Long Nguyen; orange circle added by me; click to enlarge)

Never thought I'd be so happy to post this glib take on today's events that I was ready to post a month ago

"Though housing-industry analysts can't understand why any thinking person would want to be saddled with a hefty mortgage and consign themselves to a depressing, isolated whitebread existence, they say falling interest rates represent the primary reason for the surge. ...

"We'd rented for so long, we figured we probably could have paid off half a mortgage by now," said Laurie, 33, who hasn't been out on a Saturday night in months. ...

"Very smart move, Alan and Laurie," said Ross, facetiously tapping his temple. "Thanks to your tremendous savvy and financial acumen, you now have a brand-new place to hang your wind sock. Fabulous. Have fun being chained to a mortgage for the next 30 years."

Keys in hand! Keys in hand!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

If the car's a-rockin'

As we took a drive around town tonight, Corin repeatedly wanted to listen to Alanis Morissette's "Uninvited," which was the first thing than came on when I popped in a tape. (Yes, we have a tape deck in our '97 model car.)

When we finally stopped the car, Corin still wanted the music on. I sat there, waiting, when I noticed the engine was making the car shutter weirdly. I turned it off, but the car was still shaking. Corin was headbanging away in his car seat.


Motorboat lips

Windmill arms

Blissful ignorance

of the audit

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Floor nine, please

Nana & Papa come to visit!