27 February 2008

Kicking Social Convention to the Curb

I love Jesus, not just as God incarnate, but the man, how He defied social convention and worldly wisdom, and fought injustice, not necessarily in big actions, but in how He treated people.

This past Sunday the Gospel reading at church was John 4:5-42, which the larger portion is simply titled: Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman.

So what? Jesus talked with a lot of people, what makes it even interesting? It is the defiance of social convention in even speaking to this woman that grabs me. Jewish people (like Jesus) didn't associate with Samaritans. The woman, was coming to the well at noon, not the normal time to draw water, in all likelihood because she was an outcast amongst her own people, and not welcome at the well when others would come to get water during the cool of the early morning and evening. There would also be a question as to any man speaking to an unescorted woman at that time. This is not a person whom He is supposed to talk to for any reason, yet He does.

He speaks to her about simple things, things that she would be able to relate to, water, family, her relationships, and God. He does not chastise her for what she is doing wrong in her life. He speaks to her in a manner to get her attention, and once He does, He finds a way to draw her closer to God, and by doing so He finds a way to use this person to draw her village to God also. Simple, powerful, direct, and respectful.

As Father Denny taught us about the passage, He pointed out something I hadn't heard or noticed before, that the woman starts out with calling Him a Jew (probably as an insult), then sir, then a prophet, then finally recognizing Him as the Christ, and that this occurred ahead of Peter recognizing Him as such.

From the very moment that I first heard of the whole "What Would Jesus Do?" thing, I thought this will last until children start to make decisions based on what Jesus would do instead of what their parents would want them to do. Jesus isn't like the world, He talks to people He isn't supposed to talk to, He goes places He isn't supposed to, and He defies authority in a way the world doesn't think is very smart, in fact it led Him to His death ... and our salvation.

24 February 2008

Children: Not for the Germaphobe

I was in church and there was a couple in front of me with two small children, probably like 2 1/2 years and 8 months old. For most of the Mass they were very well behaved and quite cute. Just before communion, however, the baby got a little jumpy and feisty while her mother held her, and the end result was she kicked off one of her shoes. Her sister grabbed the shoe off the floor where it fell and handed it back to her sister while mom had her back turned. The little one grabbed the shoe and dutifully put it in her mouth and started chewing on it.

I had to grab my nose to stop from snorting when I laughed.

21 February 2008

There Ain't Enough Alleluia (New Song)

This one is just meant as a fun song, a kind of "sing it loud as you leave the church and send everyone out with a smile on their faces" kind of song. I got a tune idea too.
There Ain't Enough Alleluia

Choirs of angels stand and sing,
here on earth our voices ring.
It fills the skies, and shakes the walls,
but it's still not enough to say it all.

There ain't enough alleluia.
There ain't enough alleluia.
Lord when it comes to tell'n it to ya,
there ain't enough alleluia.

Your Spirit descends like a dove,
allowing us to reflect Your love.
it shows us peace and all Your ways,
'til the end of time we'll sing your praise.

There ain't enough alleluia.
There ain't enough alleluia.
Lord when it comes to tell'n it to ya,
there ain't enough alleluia.

There ain't enough alleluia.
There ain't enough alleluia.
Lord when it comes to tell'n it to ya,
there ain't enough alleluia.

20 February 2008

Lay Your Hands On Me (new song)

This came out of a short conversation SmileChild and I were having tonight about me having physical touch for a primary love language. I had felt quite connected to God all day, and still did while we were talking, but I crave that physical connection to let me know I am loved, and it's not that easy for me to get outside of the realm of human (okay and cat) interaction. That's my point of faith, not to see what cannot be seen, but to feel what cannot be felt.
Lay Your Hands On Me

When I'm in need of healing
When I'm all alone
When I'm numb and reeling
I fall before your throne

Oh lay your hands on me
Oh lay your hands on me
Sweet sweet Savior set me free
Love me Lord lay your hands on me

I cast my cares upon you
You remove them from my sight
When I feel your hands touch me
I am healed in your light

Oh lay your hands on me
Oh lay your hands on me
Sweet sweet Savior set me free
Love me Lord lay your hands on me

Oh lay your hands on me
Oh lay your hands on me
Sweet sweet Savior set me free
Love me Lord lay your hands on me

Love me Lord lay your hands on me
I have a pretty good idea of what this should sound like, but not quite sure of the speed yet. In any case, it will be coming soon to the yet to be named GAMe coffee bar.

17 February 2008


It was an almost full weekend. I got home on Friday morning late after working an extra hour over or so, and got to sleep. I woke up at 1230 and got something to eat and then went to hang out with Mae for a while. We had a shopping plan for the annual JNO Pink party. We went over to Target and I bought a bright pink long sleeve shirt to wear under my "Chick Magnet" t-shirt, and Mae tried on half the store, finally deciding on a similarly colored short sleeve t-shirt and a light pink dress. I also tried on some pink sunglasses, but it just wasn't working, we'll it worked, but not for $13.

After heading over to No Frills to get a pink bandana, I dragged Mae into The Game Shoppe for just a minute ... ninety minutes later ... I dragged her out of The Game Shoppe. We had made several new friends, played two games of Giza, and bought both the aforementioned Giza and Mae picked up a game called Sleuth also. I told BeckyRants about it later and she just smiled and said "That girl can shop anywhere."

After eating, getting ready, and a few more games of Giza with Spanky and Schmendrick, we headed over to the pink party.

IMG_7552.JPG - Cornstalker
Almost all of the ladies had the color choice correct, about half the gentlemen did.

IM004248.JPG IM004249.JPG
In a very odd switch, my camera was working great, and SmileChild's camera was being spastic.

IMG_7552.JPG - Cornstalker
Vivian took several good pictures including this one of Beth and I.

100_7042.JPG - Cliffo
There was a partnered swing dance contest, I entered with Little Debbie. We didn't win. It was a nice contest, they actually played music that was at a normal speed.

After the dance several of the gentlemen went to Perkins. Yep, seven guys all wearing pink sat down together at a table at Perkins. Beckstraordinary showed up to give us some credibility.

Saturday there were three things to do, but only time for two of them. The first and most important was SinginMonkeyGirl recording her first CD.

Recording Session 2
SinginMonkeyGirl gets ready to play.

It was a group effort, SmileChild and SinginMonkeyGirl's friend Sarah sang some back up, ErinOneDay did the engineering and dangerous microphone arranging, and myself and SinginMonkeyGirl's friend Nick sat in as entourage members.

Although I have heard SinginMonkeyGirl sing songs I had written the lyrics for before, it was a humbling and moving experience to have them put down in recorded format. Both Everlasting Water and More of You are now recorded, the second of which moved me to tears. I'll set up a link to them if when they appear on the internet.

Saturday night turned out to be a disappointment, but there was plenty of lemonade to go around once we finished with those lemons. I originally wanted to go up to Sioux Falls to the dance that David was having up there, however in talking to Cornstalker, Vivian, Venche, and JennyJitterbug, it seemed like none of my friends were going there, so I was going to go to Lincoln for some ballroom dancing. No problem.

Well then it turned out Mae, Spanky, Ben, and Beckstraordinary wanted to go to Sioux Falls, so plan B went back to plan A. Well time came around to go, and the weather forecasters were setting out a winter storm warning, complete with freezing rain followed by possible white out conditions ... all just in time for the drive home from Sioux Falls (it's is about 3 hours each way). So, we decided to not go anywhere. So Ben and I hung out with Spanky and Mae all evening. We played Dread Pirate while hanging out / eating ice cream at Culvers, Ben and I watched Spanky play Mass Effect, we played plenty of Giza, and it turned out Ben had never seen The Princess Bride, so we watched that too.

The weather, of course, never materialized.

14 February 2008

Saint Valentine's Day

I love history and legend. I love history because it tells us how we got to where we are today. I love legend, perhaps even more than history, because sometimes the legend becomes more important than the history. Does it really matter if someone actually said to Father Flanagan "...he ain't heavy father, he's my brother...", probably not... the story is set and Boys Town has it's iconic moment. We have two perfect examples of legend being more important than the history today with Saint Valentine's Day, and in a month with Saint Patrick's Day.

Who was Valentine? And just as important with early Christian church heroes, did he exist?
Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith in effectual, commended him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270.
...from the article below linked under "Church".
Surprisingly, the Church and other sources agree on many regards, including the scarcity of real information. Of course the Wikipedia sources are a little more down and dirty. There was a grave/sarcophagus found unearthed outside of Rome that had an inscription saying it was a priest named Valentine, so someone existed by that name, but it could have been several someones.

The Eastern church celebrates Valentine's martyrdom on a different day from the Roman Church, so I think it is most interesting about why February 14 is the date in Western culture. By choosing February 14, it superseded a pagan festival which had fertility components. Both articles agree on that, although the wording about the holiday is a little different in each article. Which makes me wonder if All Saints Day came before Halloween or vise versa... but that is research for another day.

Which leads us with just one question: what's up with the Catholic church having a patron saint of lovers ... aren't they supposed to be discouraging that kind of activity?

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!

12 February 2008

Fred Szabo, 1914-2008

My mother's father died on Monday night, Fred Szabo. He died of complications from a stroke after a very short stay in a hospice last night around 2030. He was 93 according to my mother, I'm not sure the math works out correctly, but the point is he lived a long life, and was active nearly to the end, we should all be that fortunate.

It was a rarity I didn't quite grasp in suburban Toledo, Ohio and rural Michigan when I was a small boy. My mother had two fathers. Divorces and divorced people were treated like your cousin who is in jail, not talked about in polite society. I knew my mother didn't care for him too much, but he seemed, to a small child, to be a generous man, who showed up on rare occasions and we could call grandpa, bonus attention. My mother's step-father served as my day-to-day grandfather, but this mysterious man would show up in his big car and whisk us away to places we didn't normally go. I don't want to be overly poetic about it, the occasions were very rare, and the last I saw of him I was an angry teenager.

Naturally, as you grow up, you get to learn all that stuff you didn't actually want to know in the first place, family gossip, who did who to what, and I had thirty years of that. My mother fairly well vilified him, and being the person I am, I took her at her word. It turns out, there are two sides to every story, and maybe even fifty years ago, it took two people to ruin most marriages. I got to learn these things as my mother went through the slow process of making peace with the man, which reached it's dramatic high point late last year.

I really only know him through the eyes of my mother, and the facts that I do know about him. He was a good businessman and for whatever it is worth, he stayed with the same woman the entire time that I have been alive. I've also so learned that some wounds run so deep that fifty or sixty years is not enough time to even acknowledge them, not just to have them heal.

Szabo is my Hungarian heritage, and I admit it, I don't know a lot about it past some of the wonderful meals my mother made. I do know much more about my Irish heritage, and so next time I have a drink, I'll raise my glass to a man I never knew, in hope that at the end of my life, I will. May God accept him with open arms.

07 February 2008

Rendered Speechless

I don't usually go to McDonald's. I have my reasons, but generally you can attribute this to bad customer service and trans-fat. This week however, I had two occasions to override my normal aversion to going there, and try them out, and I was paid back with stupidity on an epic scale.

Here's a clue McDonald's. If I choose to go to your "restaurant", it isn't because you have exceptionally tasty food, it's because I want hot food now.

Monday night, I left the house on time for work, and decided on the way I would stop at the Papillion 84th & highway 370 location. I ordered a value meal, I get in line, in fact I am the only one in line, and I wait, and I wait, and I wait. In fact I waited nine minutes in between the time my money is taken and someone shows back up at the window to explain to me that their automatic drink machine is not working, and they couldn't get me my drink. There is no manual override on these things? Now I appreciate the clerks honesty, and it wasn't her fault, but seriously, you can't get me a drink in under nine minutes? Getting my meal took me twelve minutes. I was a couple minutes late for work. I could order from Village Inn and have my meal that fast.

But wait, here comes the epic part.

Wednesday night and I was running behind for work because I turned around when I noticed I forgot my phone. No problem, I got to work on time, and ate my frozen dinner there, figuring I'd just go someplace later. 0330 runs around I tell my coworker Chris I am going to step out and get some lunch. My plan is to either go to McDonald's, Taco Bell, or the Super Saver grocery store ... I am leaning heavily towards the grocery store, but Chris says "Where you going?"

It turns out he would like me to pick him up a burger, so I say McDonald's is fine. I get in my car, get over to the McDonald's at 144th & I80, I have Chris' $5 bill and my ATM visa. I pull up and the voice at the drive through says "welcome blah blah blah, I am sorry, but we can only accept cash at this time." Maybe I am a little spoiled, but I am pretty much used to the ATM card for everything now, so I say no thank you.

I pull off in my car, call Chris "dude, can I borrow your change and pay you tomorrow?"

"No problem" he says. I get back in line, I order, it comes to $7.13 (I don't know what a burger costs), so I look through the car change bucket, not enough. So I am to plan C now. I call Chris, and I tell him that I am driving down to the Millard 136th & Q street McDonald's and I'll be a little longer than expected.

I get down there, pull up to the speaker and hear a different voice say "welcome blah blah blah, I am sorry, but we can only accept cash at this time." Must be something wrong with every McDonald's. Hmmm.

What? "No thank you." I say, but I got a plan D. Those who know me well know that I like to have at least a plan B for just about everything, going to the bathroom? Can't? I got a plan B.

I head over to the Super Saver grocery store. It's not a big deal, I need a few things, and I can get some cash. They have a great sale on Pepsi products, sweet. Some frozen pizzas and breakfast and I check out. The poor checkout girl must be eight and a half months pregnant, she waddles from lane one to lane twelve (the only open one) to help me. I get my groceries and cash.

By this time it is after 0400, on the way back I pull back into the 144th and I80 McDonald's and hear "welcome blah blah blah, I am sorry, but we can only accept cash at this time." Ha! I got you outsmarted, I have cash now, so I ordered. "I'm sorry sir, we have moved to our breakfast menu."

I was literally speechless. I just stared at the speaker. "Sir, sir, sir?" I drove off again with no food.

Now I know I could have called Chris, gotten breakfast, and gone with plan E. At that point, I couldn't have gotten word one out of my mouth. I came back to the office, gave Chris his $5, offered him half of my pizza, sat down, faced forward, and stayed speechless.

About nine years ago I had a dispute with Baker's grocery stores that was my fault. I bounced a check at a Baker's due to a math error, I think I even called them and told them about the mistake, but their policy at the time was to only try to deposit checks once, not twice. I paid the $42 in fees, and maybe go into a Baker's once a year on my own now, even though it is the closest and most convenient store to my house. They didn't give my check a 2nd chance, I'm not going to give them a second chance.

The Taco Bell on 120th & Center (I didn't go here for seven years or to any Taco Bell for two, as a matter of fact I am still mad about this one), the Fantasy's gas station in Bellevue (the one that was on Galvin Road, it was over four years, and they sold it), K-Mart (can't even remember what they did, but it was a long time ago, I was married at the time), all have felt the wrath of my non-shopping.

This will be the third time McDonald's has gotten on my do not go there list. Good luck getting off of it this time. If I ever go back, you can be sure of one thing, I'll have a plan F, and G, and H...

05 February 2008

I take back every nice thing I said about Ben

IMG_7416.JPG - Cornstalker
I see how my friends are, try to get in a little cat nap at a party ... you can bet no one bothered Mae.

04 February 2008

Much Thanks and My Spiral

My Photos - Other Various Photos - February 2008 #1
The last picture of Cherokee.

I want to give a big thanks to all my friends for both their presence and thoughts/prayers during this last week as I made the decision to put Cherokee down and carried through on it. Another big public thanks to Maegmariel for going with me, staying with me, and crying with me ... you made a difference. Spanky & Mae, my dancing friends, Venche, everyone at the Mardi Gras party, and everyone at the SuperBowl party for helping to keep me busy and somewhat distracted. Thank you also to all those people who commented on my notes and postings, and who sent me personal messages.

I read a quote lately (sorry, I don't remember where) that said "Whenever you are unsure about the character of a man, look at his friends." While it is true that I doubt my own sanity and character often, if I followed this quote, I would feel much better about myself, because you, my friends, are loving and full of concern. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Our appointment was for 0830, and we were there on time, despite me taking a wrong turn. Dr Bosilevac came in and we talked for a minute, he had opened his clinic about the time I came to Omaha (late 1993), he said many of first patients were all coming to the end, and it was sad for him too. Cherokee was none too happy with me, and tried to show his displeasure by making me jealous by going to Maegmariel, it didn't work, I love him. As for the procedure, it was fine, a little problem finding a vein, but I held him as he sat, Dr B gave him the shot, he laid down and was gone. I wept as much for my failure to be perfect to him as I did out of this departing.

Lately I have been dwelling more on my cowardice than my courage. This was the hardest thing I have ever done, and God willing will ever do ... I saw my love for Cherokee through to the end, I suppose that is courage.

"We" make a lot of light and fun of my primary love language being physical touch. I haven't wanted any. There are a few people I would just like to my head down on and cry, but for the most part, I haven't wanted anything but a few words of encouragement and some quality time.

I am afraid to open my mouth. Schmendrick calls it a filter, that little part of your brain that interrupts what you are about to say and sends it to the trash can before it can get out. I don't have a good one, I might not have one at all, I've just learned to review everything that comes out of my mouth before it comes out. "Better to be thought of as a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt..." My adult life has been full of this, just attempting to keep my mouth shut.

Unfortunately, when I get stressed, I have a need to be validated. One of the ways I choose to do this by talking and, since I am stressed, I tend to pay less attention to what gets out before it gets out, and I say stuff that in retrospect, I should have not said. Retrospect doesn't take long, I begin overthinking what I just said almost as soon as it comes out of my mouth. I say something possibly stupid, then try to make up for it with a stupider story, which leads to dumber explanation, and quickly I am doubting myself, babbling incoherently, getting (or thinking I am getting) into a hole, making my friends mad at me, and feeling bad about myself.

This is my spiral, my vicious circle, the hole I can't climb out of. I did it on the phone after the SuperBowl party tonight. Then immediately asked two other friends for validation. I'm not sure how to dig myself out of something when the answer doesn't involve an empty tummy. It gets worse and worse the more I do it, so I just end up withdrawing from the world.

I don't want to flake out, withdraw from everyone for a couple months, and then come back with nary an explanation. I've done this trick before, it is ineffective at best. I don't have a clue about not doing it, so I am just going to fight through it the best I can ... I suppose that is courage too.

01 February 2008

In Memoriam

Cherokee, my best friend for 14 years. Faithful friend, great listener, patient, encouraging, and loving. He deserved so much better than me.
b: Dec 31, 1993ish, d: Feb 01, 2008.
Wait for me buddy.