27 May 2009

Day Forty

I have returned to Facebook. I tried to sneak back on by doing it at 0030 last night, but it didn't work ... oh well. I'll be back to dances soon enough, but I'm not sure anything will be the same, and that's okay.

My forty days apart from Facebook and Jitterbugs Night Out was both difficult and rewarding. Having spent several years in Utah, I know what the desert is like ... it is stark and dull, nothing much happens or is there to look at. After a while you start to realize the beauty that is there, the life that occurs ... perhaps more acutely so than you might in a temperate rain forest. So it was with these forty days, boredom and anxiousness gave way to appreciation and peace. I feel like I have moved from scratching out a living to instead living abundantly, everything is beautiful again.

The distractions that were plaguing me were more than just about Facebook and dancing. It was about me losing my way with my Father. As I like to say, if you used to feel close to God, and you don't now, guess who moved. It was I who moved. I have learned a valuable lesson, will I be wise enough to retain it? The only way anyone gets out alive ... is through the mercy and grace God provides. If that means going back out into the desert, by all means I will be there.

22 May 2009

1000 Words Department

IMG00124.jpg - sarah

21 May 2009


Much to the chagrin of many of my friends, I supported the Second Gulf War. Here is my entire rationale: at the time, Iraq was one of the worst human rights violators, routinely doing things like torturing children in front of their parents to keep them in line. I believe if you have the means to stop someone from torturing someone else, you do it. I was, and am willing to live with everything else that went with it.

This is my issue, I'm well aware of it. I'm sure it has a lot to do with my upbringing and knowing what it is like to be broken, and knowing no one can stop the abuse from continuing. I would like to have no one suffer, and I'd be willing to give my life to make it so ... like I said, my issue, my choice.

If the cost of my safety means that someone else must be tortured, I don't want it.

17 May 2009

Getting to First Street

It's been a nice 25 hours. Saturday night I met Sarah and Suzie down at Spring Fling in Dundee. The Prairie Cats were playing as the closing band. I was there first and surprised to see California Street caged off and people taking money. No matter. Shortly we were joined by Merinda, her mom, and her two aunts. Then Sarah, Micah, and a curiously short haired Ben P. Then Ben C. showed, and Olin, Hugh ... it's like my group of friends like the Prairie Cats or something. We had a fine time dancing for about half of the show, then the crazies and drunks decided to give it a try ... that's okay, the dance floor belongs to no one. It was sweet to get to sit and talk to Micah for half hour or so.

Secret message: Thanks for the picture Jill! It arrived near the end of the P-Cats show.

IMG_0238.jpg - me
Us waiting for the Prairie Cats to take the stage.

Afterward the show several of us headed over to give the new smoothie maker a test run at Troy & Merinda's. It was everything we had heard about it and red.

Sunday dawned, much to my surprise, at 1215. I can't believe I slept that long. I got up and ran to church ... people came in behind me, so i couldn't have been late, right?

In the mid-afternoon I met Sarah at the zoo. We walked around until I decided I was way to hungry to continue, and we headed to Ted & Wally's. Here's an idea flavor makers at Ted & Wally's ... ice cream should not present a challenge to the eater. I don't want Green Pea Black Tea ice cream. Try fruit flavors or something creamy.

So we left there and went to Blue for some sushi and, as it turned out tempura fried ice cream. I tried a new (to me) kind of sushi, vegetarian rolls, and I'm still trying to figure out how I didn't start eating sushi earlier. The fried ice cream was different the the usual, not a crispy outside, but almost like graham crackers. It was giant.

After dinner, it was cold, so instead of a walk, we went on a driving adventure ... to find First Street in Omaha. I've been looking (by driving around) for years, but it turns out I wasn't looking in the right place. I found it this time! After that driving adventure we took another one and drove out to Gifford Farm in Bellevue. We got out to talk to the horses, but only one mare wanted to say hi, and we want to make it clear, we didn't not feed the horses.

IMG_0243.jpg - me
Okay, so the picture is blurry, but there it is. First Street in Omaha. It really does exist.

IMG_0242.jpg - me
Also seen on Sunday, Suzie's secret ride.

14 May 2009

Sneezing Is Hard On a Body

Anyone who has ever heard, seen, or been within fifty miles of me when I sneeze knows it is not a trivial thing. Well I've sneezed about ten times in the last fifteen minutes and it just hurts ... I wonder if I can actually sneeze a body part off? This should count as exercise! Stupid cold.

13 May 2009

Fake It 'til You Make It

Here is the problem with becoming a parent, if you waited until you were even 99% ready to raise a child to legal age, you'd never be ready.

I had a girlfriend back in the nineties who had a phrase she liked a lot: "fake it 'til you make it". She applied to almost any situation, mostly because she was one of those people who liked to jump in and have adventures. Me, I'm not so adventurous, and it's where we clashed, I like the feel of ground under my feet.

However, just because I'm not particularly good at living my life by those words, I still think there is some deep wisdom in doing just that. There are occasions when you can try all you want, and still fail, oddly enough, the tale of Ben Franklin and humility comes to mind ... he just didn't have it in him. Most of the time, however, you can get yourself where you want to go. I really have no clue how to be happy, unfortunately I lost the instruction book to myself, but I know it's what I want to be, and most of the time I manage to get a smile on my face or a have good laugh. Those people who knew me earlier in my life as a gloomy, mean spirited boy would find it hard to believe how peaceful I have become ... just ask my brothers who I recently saw for the first time in a decade and a half, they had no idea what to think. I have a long way to go still, but at least I can conceptualize now what it is like to be kind to someone else.

You can argue about the sincerity of my actions if all I am doing is faking it, I've heard it before, and I understand the point people are trying to make. However, if you dive in below the surface, and you see how much I desire to live a life worth living, then I'm unsure how you argue with what gets you there. A priest once told me "Intentions count to God." He said. "If you are angry with someone, tell God, 'Lord, I know I'm not sincere, but I would like you to bless ________ the same way you've blessed me." His point was that in time, whether you meant it at all when you first said it or not, it becomes your reality. I know I have at least two friends who dislikes the prayer of St. Francis, but the first line is all about living a changed life "Lord, MAKE me an instrument of your peace..."

So maybe you'll see me from time to time with a forced smile. Maybe I'll be gossiping when I could be looking to help. Regardless of what is on the surface, regardless of what you think I'm faking, with God's help, I'll be making it true. I have a deep and intentional love for all of God's creation ... including you.

07 May 2009

Finally, I Won!

As part of game night, we like to play a game called "Werewolf" (this is exactly the same as the game of "Mafia"). Last night we played with ten people, two of whom were Werewolves. It was an entirely different game of Werewolf for me, what made it different? I WASN'T THE VERY FIRST PERSON KILLED!!! The usual way that the game goes for me is that I am the first person everyone decides to lynch. I've probably played this game two dozen times and I can only remember a couple times that I made it to the end alive.

Anyways, not only was not the first killed, but I made it to the end and won the game. I wound up being the Seer (Doctor). The very first night I managed to guess who one of the Werewolves was (Frank), and without revealing myself, talked everyone else into lynching him. So we were quickly down to just one Werewolf. I tried to be low key until it went a couple more rounds and we were down to five people. Overnight I guessed who the remaining Werewolf was (Troy). I hardly could contain myself, the night ended, we all opened our eyes, and I jumped up shouting "I'm the Seer! I'm the Seer! Troy is the last Werewolf!" Fortunately Sarah and Kevin believed me, and we lynched Troy and won the game. I haven't been that excited about winning a game in a very long time. The look on Troy's face when I jumped up and shouted was priceless.

I was pleasantly surprised by the game and the metagame. I knew I liked the game, but the metagaming made it all the more fun, especially since this group has played so many times with one another. Phrases like "Kevin is being too quiet", and "Ben is acting out of (his) character" made it all the more enjoyable. My analysis, though wrong, was fun too; "No one would kill CJ unless they didn't know him". Sarah and I have played so many games with a the "unknown ally" concept that I can 'mostly' tell when we are on the same side, and it was especially true last night.

It will probably be a couple more dozen times of playing before I get to the end again, but at least I have getting excited to look forward to when that time comes.

05 May 2009

Refuting My Alleged Brilliance

My employer is switching e-mail clients. As part of the switch, myself, and the other help desk techs are having several days worth of training. Today was day one. We were learning how to enter recurring appointments in the calendar, and I admit it, I was not paying attention. As I went through the motions, I ended up creating a daily recurring meeting ... for the next 511 years.

In case you were wondering, that's over 186,000 instances. Now if I can just figure out why my computer crashed. Onionboy: Computer Genius.

02 May 2009

Two Weeks in the Desert

I just had a wonderfully good laugh, alone, but it doesn't necessarily mean I'm crazy.

I was just sitting and thinking, when a thought popped into my head: "What would Jesus have blogged about during His forty days in the desert?" I really have no idea. So I'm instead left to wonder what I would blog about if I went off into the desert for forty days. I had to laugh again because I just came out of an Lenten sacrifice, and went right into giving up something else altogether. A Lenten sacrifice is supposed to be an emulation of what Jesus did went He spent His time alone.

What I think now is; this year I set myself up for a Lenten sacrifice success. Giving up fried foods was a sacrifice, but one I knew I could keep. Not exactly a formula for inducing humility. This now is what I should have given up in the first place, dancing and Facebook. Instead of these excellent distractions, I'm left to myself, my thoughts, and the disparity between the words I use about God, and how I actually live my life.

Freed of at least two major worldly distractions in the last two weeks, I have been forced to look into the mirror that reflects my soul. I have not been happy with what I have seen there. I have found that somehow I had become quite bitter, and unhappy, unable to appreciate what has been provided to me, unwilling to see a future that included personal happiness or fulfillment. I'm not without compassion for my predicament, if it seems that way, I've had a lot of personal loss and failures over the last two years. However, the one thing all my failures and losses have in common? Me. Now that is a little harsh, and quite possibly undeserved, but sometimes a cigar is a cigar.

I've been doing things on my own. Like a child who says "I'm a big boy now!" and refuses help, I'm back to flying solo, God has not recently been piloting my life ... nor co-piloting ... heck not really navigating, backseat driving, stewarding, or even fueling the plane. It is any wonder that I've developed a case of the insanes?

I've (re)discovered in these two weeks that my bitterness can be replaced with forgiveness. I actually found my singing voice again, well at least at church. I'm been calmer and more positive, even when things don't go my way. I've had to confront a couple of big demons I like to pretend don't exist, but really when you pull back the curtains, and let the light shine in on them, they really aren't that scary at all.

I know the title of this blog entry might give some the impression that there is a certain length of time that I will be in my self imposed exile, I can only say it is as long as it takes. The road to self-improvement is not always smoothly paved. It is, however, a journey I am going to make, I only hope, as Reinhold Niebuhr asked for "...the courage to change the things I can."