Brett

on the Wellsvilles

I’m a graduate student in physics at Washington State University in the rolling wheat hills of the Palouse on the east side of the state. We have some of the richest soil in the country. I think it was deposited here by a flood to which ancient Indians were witness. About 8 miles from here the truly wild mountains of Idaho begin, where wild men still live. I met a fellow named Matt in the neighboring town, about my age. Matt lived in a tree house for a whole winter. Now he makes beautiful wooden bowls. He’s not crazy, not a Kaczynski. Just simple.

I’m originally from Central Virginia. I grew up around Civil War battle fields steeped in Southern anguish. I remember an old gentleman at my childhood church who’d pull me aside occasionally because I’d listen to him. He’d explain parts of the Civil War to me. It was terribly important to him, and this always gave me the impression that I was getting a partial view.

In Virginia I saw lots of farm life. I grew up around Mennonites who had rejected modern farming technologies to differing degrees and for various reasons. I worked one day a week on the Showalter farm when I homeschooled 6th grade. There wasn’t much technology they rejected. I watched as Eddy, their boy my age, cleaned cow teets with iodine and singed hairs off their utters with a blowtorch. He’d kill already dying chickens by ringing their necks in a circle. I never got used to this. But I still love the smell of cow shit.

I moved to TX for college. I wanted to get out from under my parents’ wings, and I calculated their wings stretched no further than the Mississippi. I lived in Abilene for four years, 2002-2006. To me it was a place of first deep friendships. I remember Spring thunderstorms that would make me sit down on my porch with my room mates in silence. I found good mentors. I had a professor, Harris, who told me, “hold it lightly, Brett, hold it lightly,” because I’ve always worried about a lot of things. I learned to smoke cigarettes in Abilene. I got arrested in Abilene. I had another professor, Cullum, who described examples of art and rhetoric with the terms ‘thick’ and ‘thin’. I still think about what that means.

At the end of school I escaped to Colorado to work as a bicycle mechanic and to rewick my candle. I was a little burned out with physics and academia and Christianity. I lived in Colorado Springs, the heart of Evangelical America. I pretty much lost my corporate faith there. I just peeled out from church. Those were wonderful years. More dear friends, and lots of time on the mountains. I tried my hand at substitute teaching, and God help me I cried myself to sleep more than once. At the end of three years in CO I rode my bicycle across the country and read Thomas Merton’s autobiography. I found myself on that ride slowly coming home to God. More specifically to the church, this flawed group of Christ followers who love me and to whom I belong. In Pullman for the last 3 years I’ve been continuing that homeward journey. I have an interesting Christian family at St James Episcopal Church.

I have a plot at our community garden downtown. I ride out on one and two night bike tours occasionally. I work on my research year-round and will continue until probably 2014. I eventually want to teach. College, if they’ll let me. I like to take in stories, poems, God’s good earth. I like to be careful about my use of technology, my reading of the Scriptures, the way I eat, and my practice of science.

In a space ship on its way to Mars I would ask for something by Tolstoy to read, his characters are so human they teach me to love. I’d ask for something from Dylan in the 70s to listen to, his singing gives me strength. Among a few others, I would also ask for these friends with whom I share the Corner Booth.

Juliette

“If you are a dreamer, come in!
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hoper, a pray-er, a magic-bean-buyer,
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin–
Come in! Come in!”
― Shel Silverstein

I’ve had it with being a dreamer.

Since the time I first read this poem (circa 1993), I’ve fancied myself a lot of those adjectives… all the positives ones, anyway. But I think I drifted off into said dreams without ever reading the end of that poem, and subsequently never heeded the action it encouraged.

For nearly two decades, some part of me has continued to wander creatively, drifting in and out of new ideas, creations, hopes, wishes and half-completed flax golden tales.

I am not a finisher.

I’m sure, such is the struggle of many creatives. But what good are creations in a reclusive state, safe from critique and deprived of everything else? Hidden away from anyone who might gain something from it? No good at all. It’s haunting really, how many vain hours and abandoned characters peek at me from color-coded file folders every time I open my laptop.

But– I’ve HAD it. I’m done being just a dreamer.

I’m two months behind traditional resolution-making time, but I don’t care. Today? I take my first steps toward becoming a finisher. A sharer. A vulnerable artist with the guts to breathe time and life into my creation and then turn it loose on the world. I can’t pretend I’m going to be hella bold about it, but I need to start somewhere. And somewhere is today.

And you get a front row seat to this process. Aren’t you excited? 🙂

All that to say– my name is Juliette. I love epic stories and superheroes and sunshine and the library. My life belongs to Jesus. I know that I’m called to disciple others toward him– but I struggle continually with feeling inadequate to do so. Which is tough, since I’m married to a pastor/church planter (an incredibly good-looking one who resembles Wolverine) and live in the heart of St. Louis, a city that is desperate for the Gospel. Fortunately, there is grace for all of my fears.

I’m the mother of a black & white boxer named Gotham and two months out from becoming the mother of a little girl, who is destined to have the cutest afro west of the Mississippi. Like several of my fellow Boothers, I attended Abilene Christian University—but the degree I got from there has had way less bearing on my life than the relationships formed with my fellow Wildcats. I love loud colors, unusual words, cooking and eating good food, and being married to my best friend.

I am a very much a work-in-progress, grateful to be welcomed at this booth as I work to become a finisher.

Nathan

The house lights are down. Above a diamond plate steel ramp a monitor ticks off the seconds on a countdown clock. Digital 0, otherwise known as “Go Time”. Sparks erupt from either side of the ramp as pounding electronica blasts from speakers throughout the arena. Cheering, screaming crowds nearly deafen themselves in their display of adoration. A burly figure steps onto the ramp. Cutoff jorts, leather suspenders, knee high combat boots. This is their champion. This is Nathan Killion.

My first mountain summit at Twin Sisters outside Estes Park, CO.

This is my first entry for Corner Booth, and I like to imagine that’s how you see me. I wanted to paint a word picture, if you will, of my entrance into this blogosphere as one might see a wrestler enter the arena at Madison Square Garden. Pulse pounding anticipation. Well, that might have been a little melodramatic. I’m neither burly, nor do I own cutoff jorts (sad but true). I have not, to my knowledge, ever had any monitor of any size countdown the seconds to my arrival. I rarely announce my entrance with pyrotechnics. Get ready to have things built up and then subsequently shattered as your opinion of me goes from “This sounds like a guy I could hang out with” to “Suffer not the infidel to live!”

I guess the general idea behind an introductory post is to tell you a little about myself, ideally something about myself that is actually true, so I will do my best to do a quick recap of my life. To start with the basics I am originally from Round Rock, Texas, just north of the capital, Austin. I continue to live there to this day. I work with my father and grandfather at our family used car dealership where my duties run the gamut of everything from janitorial services to accounting. I have an undergraduate degree in Business Management from Texas Tech University, so cue mockery or Raider pride now.

Currently the vast majority of my time is spent divided between work and what has become almost a second job, that of church planter.  Just over a year ago Redeemer Round Rock was born. With a focus on gospel, community, and mission we have grown through the multiplication of missional communities reaching people at a personal level rather than a large attractional model of Sunday worship. Leading a missional community each week, along with managing logistics behind our Sunday gatherings, will probably provide me with numerous topics of religious discussion over the course of the next weeks and months, so definitely expect me to talk about this community more rather than less.

Finally, a quick run down of my hobbies and interests, so you can know whether you’ll be interested in reading any of my “articles?” (I don’t know what the correct term for our entries should be). My earliest love goes back to literature. I don’t expand very much outside of certain authors, but what I do read I am generally passionate about. I’m a huge fan of world building which generally seems to occur in “high fantasy” literature a la Lord of the Rings. That’s not to say I have any sort of sizable fantasy literature collection, in fact beyond LotR and one or two others my collection is rather small, but I like the idea of a fully developed world that feels like it has real history.

Another interest/passion for the past at least 22 years of my life has been the digital world of video games. From mobile games designed for smart phones to the far distant past of the Atari 2600, I have more or less grown up with the industry, and therefore it will probably always have some hold on me. I look forward to a day when I am 90 years old in a nursing home using telepathic controls on XBOX 2160 to steal space cruisers in GTA 37. From art design to story to gameplay, there will probably be a number of articles written about how I supplement my meagre accomplishments from the work week with dragon slaying in Skyrim.

I expected to make this section relatively short, but much like any nerd on the Internet it turns out I have more to say about my hobbies and passions than is strictly healthy. As a flyby list of other topics of discussion which might pop up over the course of my tenure at The Booth, here are a few of the other things which like to syphon away my time. Mountain biking. Bike repair/maintenance. Backpacking. Hiking. Water volleyball. Home brewing my own beer. Grilling burgers. Spending time with my golden retriever, Shelby. Table top board games (strategy, cooperative, or otherwise). Cleaning products (especially vacuums).

The aforementioned Shelby.

I look forward to starting this bold new adventure in cooperative blogging. While I was never very good at updating a blog of my own, I find the idea of writing with a group of talented individuals who will shame me into posting by consistently writing clever, deep, and/or hilarious content quite exhilarating. I have no doubt that I will get far more out of this experience than I could ever put in, and for that I am pre-emptively grateful.

Dani

I’ve started writing and scrapped this introduction many times, a dangerous endeavor when writing corporately, as my fellow, far more talented scribes can see my every failed attempt. However, I’ve finally decided to quit over-thinking and over-editing myself and just say something already. I’m relieved, I hope you are too.

Anyway, I’m Dani. I have an unusual life story that rarely seems unusual to me until I actually tell one of my tales out loud, so expect at least a couple of irreverent or nonchalant stories about cow parts, horsehair and construction sites. I have a journalism degree from Abilene Christian University (where I met most of my fellow Boothers), and after several white-collar jobs gone wrong, am now lucky enough to own a small business and make money writing, editing and marketing (mostly from my couch). Oh, I was also lucky enough to go to Oxford with some of these fine folks, and I am really hoping that David makes good on his threat to publish photos from our time across the pond.

I love Victorian-era literature and if someday I can craft even one paragraph on par with Mark Twain, I can die happy. I’m most likely to write about a little of everything, although my wheelhouse is irreverent cracks about politics and current events, or anything to do with the intersection of faith and culture, something I’m passionate about. I’ve never been in a debate I didn’t enjoy, so don’t hesitate to comment if you think I’ve snarked my way off the rails. (Obviously, that’s never happened before, but you know. It’s possible.)

One of the best and toughest hikes I've ever been on... Wiamea Canyon, Hawaii

Other things about me: my husband, Adam, is my lobster (Friends reference? Anyone?) and we are soaking up the newlywed mojo for as long as we can. We live a block from the beach in Southern California, so when California politics make me want to stuff my face into the drywall, all I have to do is walk to the ocean to feel better. We love kayaking, camping, hiking, snowshoeing and we’ll try any outdoor adventure at least once. I am a terrible gardener but I have yet to learn my lesson, so I always have a handful of plants begging for mercy from the deck. I’m a great cook (if I dare say so myself) and I shamelessly collect cookbooks that I rarely use but love to look at. I have a magazine and hair products fetish, meaning that I always have too many of both laying around. It’s never too early or too late for a good cup of coffee, and I always have time for a chat with a friend, which this new blog seems sure to bring about. See y’all in the booth.

David

In the short time I’ve been writing as a hobby, I have discovered a frustrating fact about myself- I am not efficient with words. My original attempt at this bio was over 900 words. Hopefully this attempt will be more succinct and accessible.

This is me eating a cupcake. Not pictured: SHAME!

I was raised in Fort Worth and my school years were characterized mostly by heavy involvement in the church youth group. This led me to Abilene Christian University where I toiled for seven years to earn an undergraduate degree in ministry followed by a master’s in family therapy. During the course of my college adventure, I met my wonderful wife Stephanie.

Also, somewhere in there I went to Oxford. After college I spent a bit of time working in the D.C. area and then Dallas. I now live in Fort Worth and work as a crisis counselor for the county. That’s all you get from my history, if you want more details, I’m sure you’ll get your fill from future posts (I gotta save something to write about!).

For the remainder of my bio, I will provide you with a list, because I know that’s what you really want. Here is a brief list of some things you might expect me to write about.

-Jesus, theology, the Bible: This is the predominant force in my life, so just about everything will likely come back to this.

-My family: My wife is awesome. My son is hilarious and adorable. You are going to be subjected to hearing about them. Get used to it. In fact, here comes a picture you didn’t even ask for:

-Video games: I’ve been neck deep in gamer culture since the NES era. Adult responsibilities have appropriately regulated my game, but this is definitely the only real hobby I have and one that I really enjoy.

-Movies and music: An occasional review or commentary may appear as the mood strikes me. Or perhaps I’ll post something to arbitrarily and vehemently disagree with Val, just for the fun of it.

-Where Jesus and culture meet: This is what my blog Reclaimer 105 is about, only it focuses specifically on video games and gamer culture. However, I have many thoughts on this subject as it also relates to movies, music, and perhaps even politics (but I’ll let Dani handle that).

-Therapy and counseling: My career is in the field of helping people, so occasionally I may share some thoughts on the world from that perspective.

-Random stuff: I’m no stranger to random Internet memes and the like. I like cleverness, silliness, and puns. I have made some random posts on our family’s personal blog that are so wildly off the wall that it would boggle your mind. This blog will not be immune to such nonsense. You’ve been warned.

-Oxford: Yeah, I was in Oxford for a semester with some of the other contributors to this blog. Perhaps if I’m prodded I may share a story. Maybe even a picture or two…or 50. No, no, I’m kidding. There are really only 37. Albums. With 100+ pictures each.

I’m very honored to join the other contributors on this blog and I look forward to sharing and discussing with you, the Internet.

David

Val

Hey! Insert awkward opening sentence here! My name is Valerie, and I am the one who voted for this blog to be called “Tatums.” (I lost.)*

I am insanely fortunate to be called a daughter of Christ, blessed to be saved by grace. I too am a graduate of Abilene Christian University, and once upon a time was fortunate enough to spend a semester studying in Oxford (a fact that I like to bring up at parties to make me sound more interesting than I actually am). I get to do social media and web work for a Christian camp in Texas, which unfortunately involves a lot less jet skies and ziplining in my day-to-day office life than you might think. But we have fun.

I am a huge fan of movies, television, and pop culture, and I absolutely love board games, peanut butter, fun people, Sonic drinks, laughing, musicals, and parties. Other essential info:

Top 5 Movies: Almost Famous, A League of Their Own, Moulin Rouge, Lord of the Rings, That Thing You Do
Top 5 TV Shows: Veronica Mars, Friday Night Lights, The OC, Gilmore Girls, Lost/Arrested Development/Freaks and Geeks (3-way tie for that last one…)

Sometimes I like to pretend I am Kristen Wiig in "Bridesmaids."

I’m really excited about this blog, and especially about the fact that I get to join in writing with so many people who are so much cooler than me. It’s gonna be good, y’all.

*Editor’s Note: Other possible names for the site included: Atwood & Associates, Tatum’s, The Coy Sextant, Rock Paper Sizzurp, The United States of FRIENDS!