Friday, January 30, 2009

Couple's Blog

I am sitting here next to Lizzy and she said, "we should write a blog together right now!" And then I said, "okay." And then she handed me the computer. But I don't really know what I am supposed to write about. If it is possible to have an awkward pause at the beginning of a written page, that is what I am trying to convey. I am looking at my shoes and kicking my feet together in the dirt right now. Lizzy just said, "we could write about our dog." So I will put down some thoughts about her (the dog, not Lizzy).


I inherited our dog when I married Lizzy. Inherited might be the wrong word since it conveys that I got some kind of family heirlooms in the form of Whistler paintings or Intel stocks. Roxie is not like that at all. She is a dog that looks like a very tall and hairy legged serpent. She looks like a wiener dog with 36 inch legs and a perfectly triangular head because of very large bat-like ears. A profile portrait of her would look the exact same whether she was wearing a Revolutionary era tri-cornered hat or not. Also, she has gas that smells like she cooks eggs for herself and eats them while we are sleeping.

As you can see, Joel really loves our dog. I have to admit that his description of her, however unflattering, is quite accurate. If you can imagine what a dog who has lived in a junk yard for six years looks like, you are imagining a spitting image of Roxie. Only her head is smaller....no, smaller still....are you picturing a continuation of a neck that comes to a point with nostrils on the end? Great, then that is exactly what she looks like.

Despite her aesthetic shortcomings, she really is a good animal. She sits when I say, "sit." She shakes when I say either, "shake," or "nice to meet you" (I thought that would be clever trick to teach her for when she first meets people. I realize now that very few people say "nice to meet you" when meeting a dog. Or probably any other four legged animal. They might say it to a monkey. I would. Especially if it was a monkey wearing clothes and one of those shriner hats.) I'm working on trying to teach her to not run away when she's outside but chances of that are slim. As Joel always says, "You can take the animal out of the wild but you can't take the wild out of the animal." He actually doesn't say that. He's clearly funnier than me so I thought I would throw a super lame joke in there and say he said it to even up the playing field.

It is true that our dog runs away as often as possible. One time she jumped out of my car in a crowded Publix parking lot and ran laps around the perimeter. I didn't know how to get her back so I just kept yelling, "Roxie, wanna go for a ride in the car?!?!," in a really high pitched panicky voice. Obviously she didn't want to go for a ride in the car. She had shown me that by jumping out of the car. This isn't a very good story. I know because Joel read it and said, "That's funny," without actually laughing. Not a good sign. I might pass the computer over to him now....

Our dog looks like a stray no matter how much we bathe her. She looks like a dog that you might see wander by in the background of one of those commercials for Christian Children's Fund. The End.
But not really because I want to tell one more joke!

A horse walks into a bar. The Bartender says, "Why the long face?!" Get it?! Because horses have long faces. And long face also means that you're sad. (Lizzy wrote those last parts. -Joel)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Brothers

Joel and I started this blog together but today I realized that I have neglected my duties as co-blog-author. Three posts have been posted by Joel post my last post which tells me it's my turn. Post.

In the spirit of family, I feel inclined to also write about my brothers. Joel wrote one blog per brother but I think I will include all brothers in one blog to avoid committing to writing a trilogy. Is that really how you spell trilogy? It looks strange. Well, it's not underlined in red, so I'm keeping it.

This blog is not very good so far but I promise, what it lacks in entertainment value and grammatical correctness will be made up ten fold in word count and unnecessary comma usage. Oh and Presidential analogies. I really liked when Joel compared Josh to George Washington. Did you know in his youth, Josh Hunter chopped down his father's cherry tree with a hatchet?!

Unlike Joel, I am in the middle, upper echelon of my siblings. I have an older brother, Daniel, and two younger brothers, Joshua and Timothy (he goes by either Tim or Timothy James). As any good family counselor will tell you, Higher Birth Order = Power. Power = Best Seat By the TV and Best Seat By the TV = Near Sightedness, or at least that's what my grandma always told me. Is that right Honey?

From what I recall, growing up in the Ariza house was very similar to growing up on a battlefield. A battlefield where none of the soldiers had weapons. And there were only four soldiers, all of whom were home schooled. And the soldiers fought a lot over the Nintendo Entertainment System. And the soldiers didn't have uniforms. The boys wore Jamz and the girl wore her Y-Ball uniform almost every day. I don't know why.

I'm switching to a new analogy.

Daniel, or Old Honest Daniel as I've often referred to him, was the Abe Lincoln of our family due to both his skills with rail splitting and the most impressive facial hair growing abilities of my brothers. He doesn't care much for the theatre arts but I believe that will aid in his longevity. Daniel and I had a mutual disdain for each other growing up. He started it though. The only time I actually remember us being allies is once when our parents left us home alone and we watched Predator together. I think the dreadlocks on those monsters make them far less scary. Daniel taught me the ropes when it came to bullying younger siblings. One of the most vivid conversations I remember having with Daniel on an almost daily basis was:

(Daniel walks up to me sitting on the seat on the couch closest to the TV. It also reclined which is a key detail in understanding its value.)

Daniel: Get out of my seat or I will beat you up.

Me: Okay, but I hate you.

For some reason I never thought about how unlikely it would be that Daniel would actually "beat me up," but maybe that's because I knew how honest Daniel actually was. Like Abraham Lincoln. Honest Abe Lincoln.

Josh, or Thomas Jefferson as we call him sometimes in blogs, was third in line and always had a girlfriend. Also, he was a staunch Democratic-Republican. I wasn't a very good older sister to have. I mostly would do things like give you hair cuts when you didn't need them and try to dress you up like a girl while you were still young and impressionable. When Josh was just a wee boy, maybe 5 or so, I put him in a tire swing and spun him so fast that all the blood vessels around his eyes burst and he had two shiners. True story.

Now Tim, the youngest of us, was a sweet kid. I was able to convince him to play Barbie Ice Cream Shop with me for a good couple of months until the other brothers let him know how uncool that was. They let him in on the Lego and Constructs bin to save him from an education in matching Barbie outfits. I didn't play much with Legos mostly because I "didn't play right." When discussions about my ability to "play right" escalated, I would occasionally release Barbie to level Lego Land. That didn't usually work to my advantage in convincing them to let me play with them.

Oh yeah, I would liken Timothy James to Andrew Jackson. Because they both have untamed luxurious hair.

There came a day in my life when I woke up to find that Daniel, Josh and T.J. had gone from being my arch-nemeses to being three of my dearest friends. I'm honestly surprised that they even speak to me at all after knowing me as a youth. This blog is only the tip of the iceberg of the horribleness that was Lizzy ages 8-15ish.

Daniel is now and an extremely talented web designer (www.biggunsdesign.com) who just finished designing Summit's new website. Daniel, I'm sorry for destroying your mixed tape in 1991. My brother Josh, also an artist (www.cognopolitan.com), does apparel design for Billabong in California. Josh, sorry for the whole tire swing/black eyes thing. Teej, my youngest brother (www.kidwholooksalotlikeorlandobloomandluckyforyouladieshessingle.com), of whom I am super proud, is studying psychology at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Tim, I'm sorry for that time I was baby sitting you and dressed up like a dead person to try to scare you. That was very insensitive of me

Friday, January 16, 2009

Josh's Brother

Since I wrote a blog about being Isaac's brother, I thought it would make good sense to go ahead and write a blog about each of my brothers. Since I only have one left, this will be my final blog in this category. It has been a good run.

Until about late high school, I had a similar relationship with Josh to the one that I have with George Washington now. He was a remote figure that I revered and learned from, but was as approachable as the man on the moon (Joseph Ellis' words, not mine) and also he told me he had wooden teeth. Years later, I found out he was just kidding. Since he was six years older and hit puberty when he was in 4th grade, Josh was an unapproachable figure when I was in elementary school. I still remember vividly how elated I was the time that he called me "buddy" and asked how I was doing. It was like getting a call from the president. The first president. George Washington. But perhaps I am overdoing this analogy.

The three Hunter brothers have always a had a strict unspoken order of operations that I like to call the heirarchy of the brotherhood. Decisions always flowed from the top down when we were young. When Isaac decided to hold me down and dangle a loogie over my face, Josh could decide to tackle Isaac and grab his forearms to swing them at his own head and then say, "why are you hitting yourself, why are you hitting yourself?" When Josh started listening to Def Leppard, we all wanted to listen to them. When Josh dyed a streak of blonde into his trademark "poo" haircut, we thought it was the greatest advance in fashion that Altamonte Springs had ever seen. And when he chose to go to Taylor University, Isaac and I applied only to that college. Of course, I disliked Taylor so much that that decision now seems worse than dying your poo blonde.

It was during my breaks home from college that I first began to spend time with Josh as a peer, rather than as his much younger brother. He and Isaac and I spent hours together on Isaac's porch talking about where we were at ("we're on the porch," we'd say) and our plans for the future. When I think about "the good old days," those are the days that I think of. It was during that time that our bond by blood became our closest friendship. I recommended we get "B.F.F." tattoos. They said no.

Shortly after the time that Isaac was responding to God's call to start Summit, I felt like I was supposed to start a clinic in Orlando after my medical training. It seemed really far off then because medical training takes about the same amount of time as growing a floor-lengthed beard. But I talked it over with Josh and Isaac and they were encouraging about it. I will never forget when I was driving to Big John's a few days later and I got a call from Josh. "I've prayed about it and I feel like I am supposed to help you build this clinic," he said. It was like hearing Superman was going to help you move. At the time, Josh was the director of operations at Northland and heading up a multi-million dollar construction project. We agreed that we would start the clinic together and that was the start of Hunter Vision.

In the year's that have passed since then, I've talked with Josh on the phone nearly every day and met with him for a Hunter Vision meeting nearly every week. We talk about the plans for the clinic, we talk about how much we like hunting (Isaac and I started liking it because he did), we talk about our lives and our plans for the future. And it seems like the time when he was unapproachable was 209 years ago. Now he's just my brother. I can honestly say, however, that from a closer perspective I have come to respect him more than I could from a distance. And that is the mark of character. When you see someone up close without all the rough edges sanded down and they are actually more inspiring instead of less, you've witnessed something exceptional. Like the crossing of the Delaware River.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Isaac's Brother

Heretofore, this blog was updated an average of about once every two months. But I recently saw that my brother Isaac, the pastor of Summit Church, linked us on his Summit blog. Then I realized more people might be looking at it and I might need to start writing more. And then, sure enough, I looked at our stats page and our readership bumped up the day he linked us and has stayed there since.

I can tell it is from Isaac's readers because in the column where it tells you who the referring page was, it is a nearly unbroken line of "Summit Church blog." There is one referring link exception that stands out in the middle and says "Google search: guy with tall and skinny head blog." It would bother me, but Google must really do their research. I came to realize in college that my head had been destined to only grow vertically and was going to keep the shape of a Tic Tac on end. Until then, I had held out hope that my jaw would grow wider so strangers wouldn't tell me I look like Beaker from the muppets (this is true).

For as long as I can remember I was "Isaac's brother" (he says that he was "Josh's brother" before that) to new people I met; partially because of his perfect head shape, I am sure, but even more because he has always had the charisma of a Winston Churchill, or a Barack Obama. Before we even knew why, people were calling him Winstack Churlama. I won't lie, for a long time I thought being known only in relation to my brother was a burden rather than an asset. One time I remember in particular, a pretty girl at a summer camp Isaac and were at smiled at me and said, "you're Isaac's brother, aren't you?" Unused to a girl starting a conversation with me, I involuntarily swallowed and said, "yerp," or something like that. Then she said coldly, "you don't look anything like him," and walked away. And then a bald eagle landed on my head and started trying to make a nest.

A few years later, after Josh went off to college, a strange thing happened and Isaac started inviting me into his circle of friends. All of a sudden, I was in a circle of people which I was in no way cool enough to hang out with. Everybody had some quality, some niche, they brought to the group, like Isaac's charisma and nickname giving ability, John Parker's absolute fearlessness, Andy's leadership of the youth group band, and so on. It was impossible for me to mistake my own inherent coolness with my new social status. For one, and I swear this is true, I tried to make my distinguishing feature a desire for cleanliness. I refused to join in on beach volleyball and I stayed in the boat when they waded in the water and fished. I often bragged about how much I showered.

But still, this new group of friends stuck by me. And I realize now that it was Isaac that did this for me. I gradually began to think of myself as one of the group and relax a little bit. Isaac gave me a new and improved distinguishing feature of being the brainy guy (a step up from shower guy). Andy let me join the church band and I sang. Big John (Isaac's nickname for him that stuck) chose to be dragged behind a truck with a rope for 100 yards on a dirt road for no other reason than to say he did it. (I wasn't involved in that one; not everything was about me.)

I think our circle of friends is hugely important in who we become. We learn to fit our environment; and we either grow and stretch out in ways we didn't think possible, or shrink to fit into low expectations. With a confidence I would not have otherwise had, I went off to med school and became an eye surgeon (which, though not commonly known, is like the Brad-Pitt-in-Fight-Club of medical specialties). Isaac, John and Andy started Summit Church and I go every week to hear Isaac talk about Jesus and to see those people that are still my closest friends. And when I run into someone that I am meeting for the first time, and they say, "you're Isaac's brother aren't you?" I could not be happier to say that I am.