How I’ve Come to Love the Library

Growing up I wasn’t a fan of reading. Sometimes I would go to the local library and look at books, but I would end up checking out a few issues of Popular Mechanics magazine instead, only to look at the pictures.

Things didn’t change much as I got older. The only time I read was when it was required for school and even then I found ways to cut corners. By the time I graduated high school I’d probably only read a handful of books beginning to end.

In college I still wasn’t reading much and only went to the library for research. I didn’t mind the library at my college, but I started to rack up fines and found it difficult to find books on my own. This is when I started to hate the library. The card cataluge and dewy decimal system was a a joke and computers didn’t make it much easier. The fines were annoying, the librarians were mean and where did they get all those books anyway?

As my hatred of libraries increased, ironically my love for books did also. One of my problems was I didn’t know what I liked to read. Then I read Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz the first non-fiction book I’d ever read on my own. I loved it and realized I loved non-fiction. This was just shortly after I graduated from college and I began to start reading more and more non-fiction. I also realized I enjoyed buying books, going to book stores and starting my own book collection. A collection of books kind of tells it’s own story, people can see what you’ve read and what you’re into. Plus, it’s nice to have those books if ever you want to reread them or loan them out.

Now nearly 8 years out of college I read constantly and my tastes have expanded to include fiction as well. I still love buying books, but in the past year things have changed. We’ve been trying to save money and pay off debt, which makes it harder to justify buying new books. We buy used when we can, but that can still add up. Then I discovered something. The library.

It started a few months back when I was trying to find a book we were to read for our book club. I didn’t want to buy it since I wasn’t sure if it was a book I’d want to keep, so I broke down and went to the library. To my surprise I found the book easily and as I was browsing I noticed a graphic novel section. I started getting into graphic novels a couple years ago, but found them to be very expensive. Now here I was at the library staring at a whole shelf of them. Over the next week or so I got onto the website for our county library system and learned how easy it is to request books online. They email you when the book is in and you go pick it up and check it out in a mater of minutes.

So over the past few weeks I’ve been requesting books like crazy (mostly graphic novels) and not only that but music and movies as well. And that is how I’ve come to love the library. I still enjoy buying books and probably always will, but the library provides an easy way to get books and media that I wouldn’t necessarily want to spend money on.


New Tumblr and Old Blog

I recently set up a tumblr page which you can see here. It’s not meant to replace this blog, but be an extension of it. I want to use this blog  more for writing longer blog posts, but I don’t always have time to do that. Where as my tumblr will be more a place where I can just post just quick little things here and there, particularly media. It’s kind of pain to post media on WordPress, but it’s really easy on tumblr. In addition I’ve also imported my old blog (The Wood Between the Worlds) into this one. So if you’re interested you can check out the archives and see what I was posting a few years ago.

I’m going to try and post more here this winter, I just haven’t had much time with a new baby and all.


Being a New Dad – Week 5

Being a new parent is difficult I must say and I feel okay saying it. Since I get asked about it almost constantly I sometimes feel like I need to put on a facade and act like everything is perfect, lest people think Rachel and I are bad parents. But the truth is, it can be incredibly frustrating at times and it feels good to be open about it.

I tend to get frustrated easily, not one of my best traits. This has be been made particularly clear to me having a newborn. When my son Archer is red faced and screaming while I’m trying to put him to sleep, while I myself am very tired, it makes me mad at him and wonder why he’s doing this to me. Sounds pretty selfish, huh? I guess that’s what makes us human. So, I often find myself praying and asking God for patience, understanding and to be reminded that Archer is just a baby and doesn’t know any better and isn’t out to get me or Rachel. Although he did projectile poop on her once, so maybe he is out the get her. Thankfully she is much more patient than I.

The praying has helped, and I know God is working in both Rachel and I, changing us in ways we’ve never imagined. However, at first I couldn’t help but think, “hey God, you really could have done a better job at this whole baby thing, maybe you could have came up with a better form of communication than crying… just saying.” Sounds silly, I know, but I was serious. Then something struck me. I’m sure I read this somewhere at some point in some form, but what I realized is, if God made babies able to clearly communicate what they want and need, it would be, well, easy. Sounds great, right. The problem is, easy doesn’t require sacrifice and every good, healthy, meaningful relationship does. The core of who God is and at the heart of His story is relationship (okay I’m sure I’m steeling this from Donald Miller). And God made babies cry so we the parents would have to sacrifice ourselves for them, creating a deep bond and relationship like no other. In fact, it’s a pretty awesome reflection of God, both in marriage and then in parenting. With that In mind, I’m thankful. I’m thankful for God teaching me how to be more like him through my son and my wife and by extension showing others what God is like. It’s a beautiful thing.

Finally, I must say, parenting is also a lot of fun and brings a lot joy into Rachel and I’s life. God didn’t make it easy, but He threw some truly joyful moments to lighten the load. Archer is sleeping across from me now in his swing and he’s just amazing to look at. My favorite times are when Rachel and I are at home together and Archer is awake, happy and alert. We’ll lay him on the floor or on the bed and talk to him and he’ll put on a little show for us. God definitely knew what he was doing. Plus, how can you not love this face?

An Update and Misc…

I haven’t had much time for blogging with being a new dad and all, but I have a few minutes here so I thought I’d give a quick update along with some miscellaneous music tidbits.

Our little boy Archer is now three weeks old! It seems like it has gone by fast, but also seems like an eternity since he was born. I have to say I love being a dad, Archer is so wonderful and I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity. It’s also been such a joy to watch my wife Rachel come into her roll as a mom, she’s doing an awesome job. It’s definitely challenging as well, but at the end of the day it’s totally worth it! I plan to write more about being a dad in the coming weeks. Until then here’s a recent picture of the little guy.

In music news I have a few items to share. The first is a video from an in store performance by Lykke Li. I haven’t gotten around to reviewing her new album Wounded Rhymes yet and just in case I don’t, I’ll just say, I highly recommend it! The video features the song “Sadness is a Blessing” from the album and the performance is just outstanding. Not to mention the video is incredibly well filmed, I suggest watching it in HD full screen.

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Next up I wanted to highlight a couple of new songs I’ve been into lately. Ace Enders who currently performs under the moniker “I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business” recently self released a new alum titled Gold Rush. I haven’t pick up the album yet, but I’ve listened to some of the songs on his Band Camp site and there are two in particular I’ve been enjoying. The first is the title track and the second is called “Lame Duck.” Check them out!

Finally I just wanted mention something I’m very excited about. I had the opportunity to write a review of the new Death Cab for Cutie album, Codes and Keys for a website called Recovering Evangelical. Check out the review here: Codes and Keys Review. I hope to write more reviews for them in the future!

Well that’s about all I have for now. I’ll try to post more as I’m able.


Meet, Archer Louis

My wife gave birth to our beautiful baby boy today. Isn’t he the most precious thing you’ve ever seen!

Name: Archer Louis Johnson

Weight: 8 lbs 4 oz

Length: 21 3/4 in

Birthday: May 20th, 2011

More to come.

Music Monday – The Belle Brigade

I saw Jenny Lewis live a few years ago at First Avenue. It was one of the most memorable shows I’ve been to for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons was a drummer named Barbara. Barbara played drums for the first opening act, Farmer Dave and played in Jenny Lewis’ band as well. Initially Barbara caught my eye because of her quirky boyish looks, but it wasn’t long before I realized she was an amazing drummer. She played her heart out and seemed to be having so much fun doing it. I love watching a good drummer play especially a good female drummer because it’s something you don’t see very often.  Part way through her set Jenny Lewis introduced her band and that’s when I learned Barbara’s name and she’s stuck in my mind ever since, but never really knew what became of her.

Recently on Facebook, of all places, I stumbled across a new band made up of a brother and sister called The Belle Brigade. As I started looking at some their photos I realized the sister was none other than Barbara. I was excited to see she was making music and I was really impressed by the couple of songs I heard. Last week I finally got around to picking up The Belle Brigade’s self-titled debut and it does not disappoint. It’s a pop infused folk rock extravaganza. Barbara and her brother Ethan share vocal, songwriting and instrument playing duties. The result is possibly the best album I’ve heard so far this year, definitely check this one out! Here is the music video for the song “Losers” which is honestly one of the most bad ass songs I’ve heard in a while. I’ve also included the video from their performance on Conan. Enjoy!

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Music Monday – Sufjan Stevens & Osama Bin Laden

At the end of his song about serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr. Sufjan Stevens has this to say:

And in my best behavior
I am really just like him
Look beneath the floor boards
For the secrets I have hid

Stevens compares himself to Gacy, a man who raped and killed thirty-three teenage boys. He’s obviously not saying he committed similar acts, but I think he’s making a broader statement saying, we’re all human, we’re all broken and all live in a fallen world. This song came to mind in light of the recent death of Osama Bin Laden and I think Bin Laden could easily replace Gacy in this song. But despite our shared fallen nature we are so quick to condemn and rejoice at the death of someone we’ve deemed as evil. As a Christian that doesn’t sit right with me. I’m not saying I don’t believe in justice, I certainly do. However, I believe justice is in God’s hands not ours and that love and forgiveness go a lot farther than hate and revenge.

Here is the song titled “John Wayne Gacy Jr.” as mentioned earlier from Stevens’ Illinois album:

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Sufjan Stevens = John Wayne Gacy Jr. = Osama Bin Laden = Me…