Redefining Definitions

I’ll preface this, so you can stand it, with the following disclaimer:

Thank God, you can’t redefine “love.”  Love is love and hate is hate, and you can’t have one and have the other at the same time.  In spite of my own personal preferences, other people have different preferences and I can, and will, love them regardless of our differences of opinion or preference.  Dear reader, the following is my opinion about the direction of our society.  There is some good and progressive, progress.  But I fear that some of what’s being called progress, really isn’t.  We all want to hear what we want to hear, but what if what we want to hear isn’t right?

We are so fucking smart, aren’t we?  I love Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”  It affirms the individual reader as smart and tells them to proceed confidently through life, making confident and smart decisions.  That presumes we’re not psychopaths without conscience, amoral Nietzsches working out maximum profitability and damning the cost in denying the soul, or immoral little Hitlers telling everyone the big lies that everyone likes hearing so much they’ll do anything for us, or believe anything we say, and I mean anything.

But maybe we aren’t innocent children with reactive consciences who thrive on confession.  Maybe we are psychopaths who make decisions on the basis of how they affect us in the now, or without thinking about anything including the natural consequences of those choices.  Or the supernatural ones.  Maybe we’re puppets being steered on our courses by the puppeteers and we don’t have a free will.  Maybe we are just animals who do whatever animals feel like doing, or we act based on the voices in our head, which may or may not steer us correctly.

What if we are too smart for our own good?

With the invention of the telescope we determined for ourselves how far away one object is from another, we determined for ourselves how fast light can move, and we decided for ourselves that these are immutable laws of physics.  We decided, since it was poetry, that we could ignore the poetry in multiple places, including Psalm 104:2 that defines a superior principle, but presumes the existence of God and His omnipotence, and thereby ignore God himself.  Because how can something poetic be scientific at the same time?

With the invention of the microscope we discovered the presence of harmful microorganisms in and on our food and in our blood, ignoring the sound advice of the Source who wrote to the Israelites not to eat uncooked food (we still ignore this one) or food with the blood still in it, and to avoid certain behaviours, both as to avoid certain diseases, because we were able to discover them for ourselves, therefore no need for God to tell us about them.  And no need for us to avoid them.

The Israeli fashion statements about clothes and facial hair certainly make the followers of Judaism stand out as different.  The 613 laws given to Israel would make them look weird, but are they any different than the thousands of laws we’re supposed to obey handed down by our government?  I think we’d stand out if we knew how to really love other people, which was Jesus’ second important commandment of the two he held as truly important.  And that might be enough.  But I digress.  Back to topic:

En Ars Percunctor Fidemus (I’m sure I’ve mangled “we trust in scientific method”) replaces En Deo Fidemus (“In God we trust”), but Fidemus, or “trust,” is the same as “faith.”  We make a religion out of science, without a complete understanding of it.  We make a religion of a lot of things, but our investigations of them prove our investigation and understanding are not perfect, they’re not God, and neither are we.  We deny one religion as foolishness, and swallow (that is to say, put our faith in) another religion without allowing ourselves to call it “religion.”  There’s even faith in Atheism, which requires quite a bit of faith, in my estimation.

Do you not think it requires a great deal of faith to believe it’s all just a cosmic accident?  Life evolved on its’ own, and food evolved to match it, just by coincedence.  Ecosystems just happened to happen.  DNA just happened to link itself together, in just the right order.  The atmosphere, the earth, the moon, the tides, just happened to happen.  The spark of life just happened to happen.

The whole Bible that, if we’re supposed to believe it, explains the whole thing and gives us a reason for being and a hope for eternity, is just a myth of strung together stories and instructions that worked for people in the past.  But we’re not primitives, we don’t need that any more for ourselves.  And Jesus, well he might have existed and if he did he was a good guy and had wisdom, or parlor tricks, or maybe he was an alien being from another planet, but if not, he was just a good guy and then they crucified him and that was that.  And if he was an alien that’s a whole different faith.  But if he was just a smart guy, all the rest is just one mythology vs another.  If I sin in holding strongly to my faith, perhaps your faith is just as much a sin.  Which is more rational?  Which gives eternal hope and real purpose?

We are far too advanced to accept the normative standards of our ancestors.  Deuteronomy 4 and 5 tell us not to add or subtract anything from God’s Laws, and then tell us God’s basic laws.  But… We are psychologically more aware, and we have adapted, or evolved if you will, beyond that primitive understanding.  Or, are we so fucking smart it has made us brilliant idiots?

We have lawyers to equivocate and redefine the meanings of our vocabulary.  They support and defend us and tell us what we pay them to say.  And is this not the same as we being students with itching ears craving to hear what we want to be told? (see II Timothy 4:3 again)  But our lawyers are not primitive, nor are we, therefore, we have an advanced understanding of things like murder and adultery, and if we understand those so well we don’t believe in them, why should we believe the other thou shalts and shalt nots are believable?

I’ve already weighed in on murder.  Our lawyers make up all kinds of excuses for us, so we’re not locked up for just deciding to end someone else in cold blood.  I understand it’s not always cut and dried, but a lot of times it is, and people still get off the charge, or get a reduced charge, when it was just killing.  Some of our religious leaders equivocate and redefine too- the qualification for killing vs not killing in one religion is the definition of the words “by right.”  “And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden except by right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.” – Quran 6:151 The question is, whose “reason” are we to follow?  What “right” makes it right?

And we have our lawyers redefine “adultery,” too, in fact we’re so progressive, we can just ignore the prohibitive commandment altogether, but to make those primitives who won’t or can’t ignore it find it more palatable, we’ll write legal documents to make some of what used to be called “adultery” legal, by redefining some other words to make the new progressive ways acceptable, and we’ll popularize what we want in the media until the next generation sees what we want as normal.  Affairs used to be normal, but back then, so was syphilis, until they found out what caused it.  It didn’t make affairs right, only less imminently fatal, unless the spouse found out.  I honestly pray that we figure out a cure for all communicable disease, including STDs.

I honestly wish my adultery wasn’t the same as yours, but it is.  That sucks.  But it’s the truth.  It’s just sin.  It’s not a popular viewpoint, my old conservative, traditional way of thinking.  But I’m not God, and I can’t redefine things as easily as a slick lawyer can.  Maybe someone can redefine my sins so I don’t have to have a guilty conscience about them.  When God said in Genesis to Adam that if he ate of the fruit of the tree, he would die, he didn’t exactly say how fast.  Is Adam still alive?  No?  It records he died at age 930.  Therefore, God’s promise was faithful, because he died.

You’re bristling, I feel it.  So stop.  I’m borrowing from an old Dr. Pepper commercial, and twisting a bit:  “You’re a sinner, I’m a sinner we’re all sinners, wouldn’t you like to be a sinner too?”  Sadly, it’s true.  We’re all sinners, and there’s no real way of taking away the sin, the guilt, or the consequence except by faith in Jesus.  Some cultures would just stone a person, or chop their head off, and their culture is preserved and declared innocent by “reason.”  Other cultures would ask the person to not follow their urges, but the urges are still there and the person is powerless not to go after them.  Those systems don’t provide a shred of hope.

I accept as a basic premise that a sinner is going to sin.  I accept, according to The Text, that I am, that we all are, sinners.  There isn’t a shred of a claim I could make that I’m somehow superior to anyone.  I’m not.  But I believe differently than many of you.  And I accept that too, but I can express my beliefs just as freely as you can express yours.  If I can’t, it’s not equal, and that’s not any more fair than if I said I was better somehow.  And if I don’t, where is the hope of my “good news?”  My “good news” is that God loves us all in spite of ourselves, and wants what Dr. Seuss wants- for us to do, and be, and become, our best, and to rise to our own greatest potentials.

If I love you it doesn’t mean I condone or celebrate your sin, any more than I can just accept my own sin and feel no guilt about it.  It just means I love you as best as one human can love another human.  It means I want you to become the best you that you can, and I’ll celebrate the good.  It means if someone wants to hurt you, or hurts you, I don’t want that to continue, in fact I’d prefer it never start in the first place.  We need to be nice to each other.  If I love you, it means I want the nonsense of Dr. Seuss to be realized in your own life.  And I do.  You can do great things.  So be great.  Just do the best you can, and rationally, sensibly, logically, work it out.

I’d love to say I’ve got it all together but I’m a complete wreck most of the time.  But I do know this:  Isaiah 5 is too clear to me.  When I start saying good is bad and bad is good, it just confuses everything.  I’m not smart enough to equivocate, to pass the blame, to change the basic definitions of what is what.  I’m not going to say your sin is worse than mine, because it’s not.  I’m no better than anyone, in fact I’m worse than many.  Even Paul the Apostle decided over the course of his letters that he was first, the least of the saints, and last, the chief of the sinners.  But I am going to say, my sin is sin, and your sin is sin, because sin is sin.  And we need to not sin MORE, rather we need to strive to NOT sin at all.

Since we’re all, compared to God, equally evil, it’s clear we all need to extend each other a little grace, a little forgiveness, and a little love.  I hope you’ll find truth, not a lie you’ve been taught was the truth, but the real truth.  I hope you’ll extend me some grace and forgiveness, and I’ll understand if it doesn’t get all the way to “love.”  I hope you’ll make good decisions and the best choices, and I hope everything works out well for you.  And of course, I hope the same for me.

And again, thank God we can’t redefine “love.”  I strongly identify with the simple nature of the character “Forrest Gump,” in the movie by the same name.  As the title character famously said, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.”

Waiter, I Didn’t Order This

TW – I warned you this was coming toward me.

I sat on the couch last night numb after we delivered the overdue books back to the library.  We have what I’ve whimsically decided to call a “rental fee” of $16.50, which at a quarter per book per day for our six books seems excessive to me.  If I could charge a fair rate for my services maybe it wouldn’t.  But they are 11 days overdue, and that is the penalty for my inattentiveness to my children’s library activities.  I wasn’t irrational, which is my normal go-to.  I wasn’t angry.  I was just numb.

I’m not numb from the penalty.  I accept the penalty.  I’m numb from feeling numb.  I don’t have an explanation.  I sat on the couch to feel it because that was the first chance I had to do nothing.  It’s not just numbness.  It’s numb with a side order of helpless with despair dipping sauce.  I can’t fix anything.  I can’t do anything.  Or at least can’t do anything right.  Right now.  In a while I might feel motivated and mildly manic again.  Hope it doesn’t take forever.

I wrote that I was aware it was coming, and today I see it’s bright headlights flashing at me and I hear the big horn alerting me that it’s here and I can’t get out of the way.  It’s a semi truck going 161 km/hr, and I’m in the road waiting for impact.  I told my wife about it.  I told her I was feeling helpless and hopeless again and she just said, “don’t,” and did her best to smile and be supportive, which isn’t ever quite what I really want and isn’t really ever quite enough. Because it’s not her fault, and because she doesn’t understand it.  And because, although she knows what I want, it’s not what she wants, and I can’t prove that it will make any difference if I get it.

If she did understand it, she would know that it’s not my fault either, it just is.  If I controlled it, when she said “don’t,” I wouldn’t.  I’d call the waiter and alert them, “Waiter, I didn’t order this.  Please take it back and bring me a double order of successful, with a side of fulfilled dreams, with extra, ongoing joy on the side.

“The world is not my oyster,” I once wrote as one line in a poem, in a prior y<0 phase.  It’s still not.  And if it was, when I cracked that thing open I expect it would smell bad and contain no pearl.  There are several schools of thought on this.  My wife thinks the world is her oyster but she has to crack it open herself, and she’ll get a bigger pearl if she cracks harder.  It seems to work for her.  She gets the opportunities.  I’m diametrically opposite in actual life experience, and in thought process.

I tried cracking open the oyster, and it slammed shut and pinched my fingers, several times, until I finally gave up and put my sore fingers into some ice water to help them start to heal.  Of course it’s a metaphor, and I said fingers when I mean feelings.  I trusted that people were trustworthy because I was trying to get started in a professional field where the expectation was trustworthiness.  What I found out was that people were prideful, controlling, manipulative, and suspicious.  They like their power, their influence, far to much to help me, because I threaten them somehow.  I came alongside to help, made things better, and they shut me out.  Or they never even let me get my foot in the door.  I wanted to help in bigger ways, but they’ve broken me and I quit offering more because when they took it they didn’t reciprocate with any kind of practical support to keep it coming and I burned out.  I’m able to ignore the feelings of burnout and brokenness until the mildly manic phase of the sine wave is done, and then I feel it again.  I’m feeling it again, and I wish I could just choose “don’t,” like she suggested.

When life gives you lemons…

My wife makes lemonade, since she is made of sugar, and then she sells it at a tidy profit and buys more.  Thank God.

When life gives me lemons…

I’m pleasantly surprised if they aren’t moldy on the bottom of the fridge, and I slice one and twist it into a vodka tonic.  I then remember that I prefer limes.  But I drink it anyway.  There isn’t enough to sell so I’m taking what I can get, and it looks like this tiny tumbler of vodka tonic with lemon is it.

I just saw something and it’s a perfect word picture of how I feel.  I got the tea bag out of my cup, aimed for the trash can, the string caught on my finger and instead of the perfectly aimed landing straight down into the trash, the bag falls to the floor, wet and staining, on the carpet.  And then after I clean the carpet the best I can, the tea is tepid.

If the world were my oyster and I could order what I wanted, I’d say, “Waiter, I didn’t order this plate.  It’s OK, but the steak looks like a brussel sprout and it’s too rare and foul smelling for my taste.  Could you please  bring me a ribeye steak, a glass of pinot noir, and for dessert a hot fudge sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top?”  These would be metaphors for success, reciprocated love, and happiness.  Maybe it’s coming, but right now I’m starving and I think the steak is cooking on a very low temperature grill and it’ll be a while getting to me because it’s frozen.  Maybe it’s thawing and the brussel sprout was an accidental hors d’oeuvre.  “Hope springs eternal…” (Alexander Pope)

I love the group Cake.  My wife has come a long way, because when I first shared their music with her she turned it down because it was too loud.  Reminded me of my dad, who only listened to classical music and hymns as far as I knew, and that old depressing country music, when I was a kid.  But now that they were her discovery, she is listening to them too.  It might shorten the y<0 phase of the sine wave if she comes around more agreeable more often.  I like their music.  The trumpets, the hooks, the poetry, it’s excellent.  It doesn’t fix anything to listen to music, but this cheery sound helps distract me from being numb for a while.  They’re playing this, now, and she’s listening.  It seems small, but it’s noticeable progress, to me.  And while I don’t know if I really want all that, some of that might be nice.  Or maybe I do want all that.  She fits the bill satisfactorily, when she wants to.  Funny thing, listen carefully to the lyrics, she used to drive a white Chrysler LeBaron, further proof of her blossoming perfection.  I don’t want to send her back.  Ever.  Just the numbness please?

Confessions

warning, gross content.

Remember, I warned you.

Mysophobes, beware.

Hmm.  Wordpress Dictionary doesn’t know about fear of germs, or about itself.  Interesting.

I hate going to the bathroom.  It’s one of those parts of being human that’s just gross.  I can make it all clinical sounding: expelling solid and liquid waste materials.  That doesn’t make it any less gross as an experience.  That said, I’m thankfully regular as a clock.  But the whole experience.  As much as I disliked cleaning my kids up before potty training, and when they were/are sick, doing it for myself is somehow worse.

That uncomfortable feeling before you go.  The “warning salvos.”  That sense of urgency.  The cramping muscles.  The stench.  The waiting for completion.  And then the clean up.  Ever gotten shit on your hand?  You can’t see very well down there; hard telling what you’ll run into or where it’ll go.  Then you have to wipe your hand off to wipe the rest of yourself off.  It’s not as bad cleaning a baby, you can see everything and know you’re getting it.  In the modern era there are gloves and sanitary wet baby wipes.  But gloves wouldn’t help if I’m cleaning myself, it’s still gross and if I get it on my glove and can’t feel it I’m likely to spread it and make it harder to clean up.

If I were really mysophobic this would be a real nightmare.

My favorite part about going to the bathroom is the hot soapy water I can put my hands in after everything is done.  It feels good.

Confessions are exactly like that whole experience.  That shit is inside, hidden from everyone, we think, but there is a tell-tale aroma we detect in our consciences.  Do other people detect the smell?  We know it’s there, lurking.  It might hurt us, or add to our stress level.  If we confess what we know we did that was wrong, what will the impact be? The anxiety.  We worry, what if someone finds out? What if they already know?  Some people have infidelity issues.  Some have money issues.  Some have bigger sins than these.  But if you told me there wasn’t a time when you did something and your conscience bothered you because you knew in your heart it was not the right thing to do, I’d say you were lying.  I did something that was wrong, I did lots of things that were wrong.  You did something wrong, too, because like going to the bathroom, it’s the human experience.  Maybe you lied.  Maybe you stole something.  Maybe you cheated.  On a test, on your partner, on your taxes.  Maybe you did something even bigger than that.  Maybe you’re an addict- drugs?  sex?  (rock and roll? Just kidding, but if it’s a sin then I’m a sinner, and if there is an addiction to rock and roll, I confess, I’m an addict.)  Maybe you destroyed someone’s property?  Maybe you killed someone, either accidentally or on purpose.

Some sins are so popular people want you to do them because “everyone else does it.”  But if you do it then you immediately know that you did something wrong.  And then you’re just as bad as everyone else.  Think of the peer pressure you felt before you did it and remember the guilt you felt afterward.  Everyone in that car was passing around the joint.  Everyone in the locker room was sharing their jokes, or their stories about the girl or boy they were with.  Everyone at the party was underage and they were all drinking.  Everyone at work was swearing up a blue streak(, including blasphemous profanity, breaking the commandment of Exodus 20:7 or Deuteronomy 5:11, not to mention Deuteronomy 6:5 or Luke 10:27, not just the normal swears, if I may draw a distinction.  It’s just to assuage my conscience, mum.).

After you remember the guilt, maybe think about the consequences:  an illegitimate child- are you paying child support, did you allow adoption, or just get an abortion?  an accident- did you pay for repairs, or just go to jail?  an offended person who was upset by your language or your actions- did you apologize directly to the person or never talk to them?  and so on.

Some sins are so subtle you don’t think they’re sinful, like pride.  We teach self-esteem here in the United States to a point where people are proud of themselves just for existing, as if they had anything to do with their own existence.  Participation trophies are given to the losing team because they participated, another award just for being there.  This breeds an illegitimate sense of entitlement.  I deserve ________ because I exist, not because I worked hard and earned it.  Respect.  Food.  Status clothing.  Clothing.  In America, we don’t see homelessness and poverty because they only show us the clean homeless shelters, not the dirty campsites or frostbitten fingers.  Our kids are clueless about how hard it can be to scrape up food and shelter when you have nothing.  We joke about it.  Look up an old Saturday Night Live character, Matt Foley.  You may laugh, but you’ll get the point.  But it becomes obvious that in spite of our self esteem, our pride in ourselves and our existence, that we are not God and we can’t just absolve ourselves of our sin, we have to face the natural consequences.

That shit is in there, and it’s got to come out.

Now think about that confession.  It might require effort.  Fully half of the steps of the traditional 12-Step Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous recommend searching out your sins, confessing them, and making amends for them.  It might cramp your style.  It might cause you inner anguish and turmoil.  Your hands get dirty in the process, not saying that they weren’t already soiled by the past actions.  The confession is the critical part of the cleaning process.

The thing about confession is, it’s a lot harder than just going to the bathroom and then washing your hands.  It’s the whole psychodrama- how will it turn out?  What about forgiveness?  When you’re done and you can wash your hands of it, it just feels so relieving.  The hot water of having faced the truth and come out on the other side.  The soap of forgiveness, whether we’ve just asked for it or whether it was offered and accepted.  And the drying towel of making amends, so much as is possible, making what was wrong, right again.

I washed my hands earlier, and I suspect they’re still clean.  But maybe not.  There’s always something right there, ready to go, at the corner of the transverse colon, isn’t there?  So maybe it’s a compulsion or maybe it’s not, but I’m going to go wash my hands, again, right now.  Just because it feels good.  And maybe later, I’ll make another full confession.

If You Don’t Feed It, Will It Die?

I heard a pastor once say that human beings have a sin nature, and I believe it.  I’ve chosen little sins, little evils, mostly, my whole life.  I know they were wrong choices.  Fortunately I haven’t seen the consequences of my actions turn out as terribly as they could have, but I know they could have been worse.  Everybody chooses to do things they know are wrong sometimes.  Nobody is sinless all the time.  A morally conscious person might be able to make superior choices most of the time.  A morally dark person might choose to not take the higher road, every time.  What we do becomes habit until we are so used to choosing whatever path it is, we just do that every time and it becomes easier to do it, even if we used to know it was wrong.

This same pastor said once we become Christ – followers, we have a second nature, and we can choose to be like Jesus.  It doesn’t mean we become sinless.  It means we are Christ-followers who do the best we can.  But we are given a new additional nature.  The pastor described the two natures like two different versions of ourselves, fighting for dominance.  Which one wins?  Depends on which one you feed more.

I’m convinced.  If you don’t feed something, it will die.  But in the socially conscious era we’re in, the evil dogs are still getting fed, for reasons I don’t understand.  Is it obvious that women dislike being objectified, and society is trying on its’ own inherently evil initiative to move past mysogyny?  Is it obvious that African Americans and Anglo Americans need to get along and cooperate and help each other succeed, and society is trying, on its’ own inherently evil initiative, to move past racism?  Is it obvious that the world doesn’t like the violence between social groups and wants people to get along?  Is it obvious?  Maybe not.  Women would like to demand that men not objectify them, whites would like blacks to not hate them, blacks would like whites not to hate them, and by and large I think it’s true.  But some people love to stoke the fires of hatred for some reason, so those fires haven’t gone out.  There’s always some idiot saying or doing something stupid for the camera (“look, mom, I’m an idiot!”), that irritates someone else, then it just snowballs.

I pulled up my internet news feed, and I presume it’s representative of any news feed, look at the stories, and I see the following:
social fail
Our top story, “Miley Cyrus Nude.”  Followed by Schwarzenegger fail, with the subline “Love child ‘terrific’.”  Which is it, Governator?  “Fail,” or “Terrific?”  I’m not getting a sense of strong regret here.  Lady Gaga has “Major Wardrobe Malfunction.”  If people want to see these, the news people will keep shoveling the shit our way, because there’s demand.  What if the mysogynists stopped clicking on those links?  But do they really have a choice?

Does the news media really bear their share of the burden of responsibility for the “news” they’re reporting?  It would seem obvious to me that there’s no news worthy of reporting when Miley and Lady Gaga are indecently exposed in public, except perhaps to hear they were arrested for it, or some good samaritan threw a warm blanket on them to keep them from freezing to death.

I think the news feeds should take responsibility and stop shoveling so much shit at their consumers.  A story where an idiot on TV accidentally says something stupid is not “news.”  A story where someone was found in some stage of disrobe is not “news.”  And a story where someone is sorry-but-not-sorry about some shit they did is not “news.”

The domestic and international violence is news, I confess.  I wish it weren’t.  I wish the news media somewhere would call for calm and peace, and the authorities would act in ways that encouraged such peace.  But we thrive on reports of hate, blood, death, violence, and porn, don’t we?  If we’re sick and don’t realize it, yes we do.  And apparently, the news media is only giving us what we want, in all its’ sick, unfiltered gory.  Thanks, news outlets.

But maybe it’s also true that if you don’t feed it, it will die.  I’d like to see what happens  if people stop feeding the evil dogs in the world, and in their souls.

WRONG LEVER!!!!!!!!!

If you follow me you know I’m occasionally about 4 years old.  Or I have that 4 year old sense of humor.  Watch this, like a 4 year old.  “Pull the lever, Kronk!”  Honestly, it’s fun to watch.  Watching doesn’t bother me a bit.  But being on the platform when Kronk or whoever, pulls the damn lever, not so much.

I’m trying to be more self-aware, and if I’m aware I know I’m not on the high side of the mood swing any more.  I’m either just starting on that slow slide or I’m in free fall and blissfully unaware of the swiftly approaching landing.  I just feel like I’m probably on the downward spiral.  Anybody got a parachute?  Nahh nevermind, let’s get it over with.

The ‘gators don’t scare me.  They’re like old friends, or maybe pets or something.  But the biting… bites.

I am not amused by being jostled from side to side or the feeling of vertigo of racing down to the bottom of the pit of certain death on roller coasters.  The last one I went on in real life, my son and I both swore NEVER to do that AGAIN.  BLEAAHHH.  Hated it worse than pulling my wisdom teeth.  If I had eaten anything, I would have lost that somewhere around turn 4.  And I do NOT put my hands up, Kronk (smacks Kronk soundly),  you big, beautiful dummy.

At the bottom of the thing I am NOT stoked to high five my lab assistant.  Ever.  At the bottom of the thing I have to climb out of the gator’s mouth and begin my slow climb back to the mild mania. At least, thinking positively, mine’s never a horrible hopeless it’s-the-end-of-the-world-fuck-it-all-I’m-done depression.  It’s more a feeling of malaise, life sucks, go the hell away, “thought I told you to fuck off” “fuckity bye,” after which I might shell over and retreat from as much as possible of the things I hate about life and drag myself just enough out from under my rock every day to do what I absolutely have to do to survive and maybe one fun thing to try to break the monotony of feeling useless and worthless and used.

Maybe it’d help if Kronker cooked me up something special.

What’s your favorite I’m-Fucking-Depressed-Again-Comfort-Food?

In Praise of Virtuoso, and Beginner, Cellists

I don’t play the cello, but I love it.  It’s big, it’s cumbersome, and it’s more expensive than my viola, violin or guitar.  Good cello strings are a very expensive habit.  And compared to a violin or viola, that fingerboard is huge.  But I just heard this:

Sure, he makes the goofy “musician face.”  Show me a musician who isn’t transported by the beauty, enraptured by the emotion, or just having fun with the music, or all of the above, and I’ll tell you he’s bored, distracted, not into it, or just not very good.

I’ve been a fan of cello music, and frankly a little jealous, since my school days when I first heard the cello introduction to the William Tell Overture.  If you’ve never heard it, it’s amazing, and it was my very first exposure to Tchaikovsky.

I suppose, as a fellow string player, I shouldn’t be so impressed.  But frankly, it’s amazing.  All the notes, from memory.  The bowing.  The tone quality.  The vibrato.  The position work.  The fingering speed and accuracy.  At about 15:30 the camera pans the audience and I was asking, why are they not weeping?  Did you get past 17 minutes?  If you didn’t you missed out.  And the HARMONICS at 8:24, 9:46, etc.  It’s like he’s dancing.  The JOY at 18:15 looks like a runner’s high as he sees, and then sprints to, the finish line.

Like an athlete, producing this kind of quality requires discipline.  I know.  I’ve played my viola for a long time.  When you first play “Twinkle, Twinkle,” it isn’t much.  But it’s a start.  And I’m going to keep practicing, even though I’m not in an orchestra right now.

You can play well after learning, but mastery requires practice.  Just like anything in life.  You don’t get to be Led Zeppelin or Jimmy Hendrix, the flautist at 10:20, any of the other soloists, or the rest of the supporting orchestra, or these guys (see below), without working at it.

It doesn’t sound good the first time you pick it up.  If it’s worth doing well, it isn’t ever easy.  Encourage yourself by watching others who do whatever it is well.  Join them when you can, and do whatever it is together.  Or share ideas, or ask questions.  It might be writing.  It might be cooking.  It might be running.  It might be music. There might be calluses, sweat, tears.  Whatever you want to do, practice, until the pain of the practice becomes the joy of your ability, and the celebration of the end product.  Like a relationship, love is your choice.  You might hate the pain of practice.  But.

Don’t give up.
Keep going.
Keep practicing.

Be amazing.

~DM

Psalm 211

Psalm 211, 06/24/2015, Deon Mumple

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”~Jesus, John 10:10

I’m good at failing to understand
How God is good and I’m to wait for His Hand,
When evil is just too obvious,
And “good” people seem oblivious.
I’m good at doubting that He loves me,
When His loving care is sometimes hard to see,
When I see the good that needs to be done,
But I lack the means to care for anyone.

The world is sometimes a difficult place,
Looming clouds of darkness hide His Face.
And I cling to God pretty selfishly,
Sure, He can help others, but could He start with me?

I’m good at spotting hypocrisy,
Sometimes even when the hypocrite is me.
But I’m tired of hearing the same “go-to” verse
When Christians mean for it to bless, but I feel cursed.
I’m digging deep for gold, they throw me surface dirt
I’m struggling to be honest, my soul is hurt
Still there’s more than some think in the Bible’s books
Because they disbelieve before they even look.

I’ve learned all my wisdom does is make me a fool
And I even went to seminary school
So God, I’m supposed to know how to preach,
But mine’s the most difficult heart to reach.

I’m good at my brand of blasphemy,
Or maybe I’m revolutionary,
I hear they didn’t much like Jesus-
They thought His teaching was dangerous.
The Bible is history, poetry,
It’s also honest truth, humor, and prophecy,
So what if some is metaphor, or hyperbole,
And some is to be applied very literally?

I’ve learned the God of the Bible doesn’t fit inside
Your box or mine, and He doesn’t really hide,
But if our eyes aren’t open He can be hard to see,
So, God, You can show others, but would You start with me?

I’m still good at failing to understand,
I’m good at stumbling like a lost, blind man.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
211 is police code for robbery in progress.  I chose the title Psalm 211 first because I know there were only 150 or 151 depending on which text you read, and second because sometimes the thief comes and steals my joy, my understanding, my faith, and my confidence in other Christ-followers.  It happens.  They’re only human after all.  This is my prayer asking for God to give it back.

I also chose it because Psalm 2:11 is Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. I believe this was Paul’s source for Philippians 2:12

Re-Purposing

Last night my wife cleaned things out of the refrigerator.  One item was a pan of boring white rice. I had in mind to do something with it rather than throw it out.  I love re-purposing anything, and making something good out of something thought worthless.  The idea is not just for food, but for everything.  One makes art out of trash, one makes great food out of boring leftovers, one rebuilds a home and makes something beautiful from a place that was once thought unliveable, or uncomfortable, or not ideal, one finds the hope and determination to make something good out of one’s worthless-feeling self.  That last one, though.  I need to hear that one myself, frequently.

That pan of rice.  No one was eating that.  It was plain, white, boring rice, and no one made chicken-rice soup, or fried rice because we just had that, or whatever.  She said to throw it away while I was cleaning the kitchen and washing the dishes.

I looked around and realized I had:

Not quite 4C cold white rice
2 eggs
1 -ish C milk, give or take.  It may have been a cup and a half, I didn’t measure it but it barely covered the rice.
3/4 C Sugar, give or take.  I like it a bit sweet- if you make this, taste it while cooking to make sure it tastes good to you.
2tsp vanilla
3tsp cinnamon (I may have overdone that ingredient)
1/4tsp salt
a gentle sprinkling of nutmeg

I threw it all together, whisked, and cooked it until the custard boiled and started to set.  I confess I guessed at the milk.  I just poured it until it looked right.  That dull, white rice destined for the trash can?  It’s now rice pudding, and it’s delicious.  I had some last night.  Tonight if I have more I’ll steal some of my wife’s cream she uses for her coffee, to pour over it.

Sometimes, I’m completely fucked up.  I feel dry, cold, bland, stupid, useless, and I don’t know what to do with my life– that rice is going into the trash. But maybe I can do something with what I have.  I remember the story of the widow at Zarephath and I believe it’s true.  Elijah just asked what she had in the house, and God made it work because she was willing to share.

I want to be re-purposed, as a writer and encourager of discouraged souls.  I want to make the plain white rice of my life into the fragrant, sweet deliciousness of a warm, wonderful, refreshing dessert. I frequently feel discouraged and depressed because there is so much I want to do and don’t have the energy, or financial means, to fix what’s falling apart, or to carry off what I see needing to be done.  I frequently feel useless, or worse, just used.  I can’t do a lot of things, but maybe the limitations are supposed to help me focus and dream and figure out what I can do.

I want you to know that although you and I may feel discouraged, thinking we need something we don’t have, (hope, purpose, dreams, love,) with a little creativity, we might find whatever we need right there in the kitchen of our hearts.  It sounds like treacle, but if I can find an encouraging message from the mess of a pan of cold, leftover white rice, I bet you can accomplish something great with whatever you have in your heart, too.  Look around.  Let it out.  Write it down.  Dream a little instead of just being ready to throw the whole dish away.  Don’t throw it away.  Try something different.

Please try again.  And here, have a dash of love, straight from Deon’s Heart.  I hope you find it’s a little like the nutmeg, doesn’t take much (good thing, too, I don’t feel I have a lot of that to offer sometimes), but I hope it just tweaks the whole recipe and makes it a tiny bit better.

Blessings.  Holy cow, blessings, from ME.  I can hardly believe it myself.
~DM

Fathers’ Day Reflection- Grumble-grumble 10 Things I am Thankful For

I searched my friend’s and acquaintances blogs for an idea for something to write about today, and I didn’t find anything I really wanted to write about.  Then I went all mental.  I searched my brain for something worth writing about and had the idea, from somewhere, to write a top 10 list of things I’m thankful for.  It’s hellish torture, honestly.  I hate it at Thanksgiving when things aren’t all that great for me, that I have to think of one thing as we go around the table, because it’s tradition.  Ugh.

Who am I kidding?  I don’t have any real friends.  They’re plastic, they pretend to like me, they’re worried about me, they lie and say they’ll pray for me or some other platitudinous shit about how I’m supposed to think positively, or I’ve pushed them away because frankly, who wants to hang around a guy-bitch?  Or who knows, maybe they really will pray for me.  If I say I’ll pray, I do it, and praying for other people seems to have a greater impact than praying for myself.  Remember when I wrote the post about how fucking positive I was about the coffee and the ant?  I haven’t seen any more ants around my house, which is a good thing because I tend to overreact to shit, when shit happens, which it does every day, but especially on Monday. Monday sucks for so many reasons.  Maybe I should write that, but I feel contrary, which is why, since this is Monday, I’ve decided to follow my inner muse’s amusing advice, and write that damn list.  This should be hilarious, to me if to no one else.  Or torture.  Or both.  Maybe I’m a masochist.

10- I worked my ass off all weekend and lived to tell about it.  I was playing in my dad’s yard, which is my kiddish euphemism for mowing an acre of meadow-lands with a push mower.  I actually finished it in time for Fathers’ Day.  I was playing in my yard too, but mine is sensibly smaller.  I pruned a tree, pulled thistles, scratched the fuck out of my hand, got a developing callus (translate that as a blister, but it doesn’t hurt at all, so I expect that will heal.
9- It didn’t rain while I was doing said yard-work.  Thank God.  And it was partly-cloudy all day, so dumb me without any sunscreen didn’t char-broil myself in the sun.
8- None of the neighbors made small talk with me to delay my progress.  I love my neighbors by command, but please don’t make me talk to them.  Remember Saturday Night Live’s Sprockets?   At the end of the “show,” Michael Myer’s character usually said “I find your conversation dull and boring.”  A greeting is sufficient.  You saw me, we waved, I went back to work, that’s enough social interaction for one day.  To quote the brilliant Peter Capaldi (is it ok if I fan-boy a little?) as his beloved (by me) character Malcolm Tucker, “I’ve come across a lot of pyschos, but none as fucking boring as you.”  “Yeah, OK, Fuckity-Bye.”  And the more precise, “Fuck off.”
7- I finished the yards without dehydration or heart attack or any other health issues.  That’s code for “it’s Monday and my body wants to remind me that I’m too old for that kind of shit.  My body agrees with my wife, that I should be rich enough by now to hire some peasant to do the work for me and not do it myself.  And frankly, I agree with my body.  Why the fuck AREN’T I filthy rich yet?
6- Fathers’ day came and the wife gave me a present.  But damn it, not the present I wanted.  I wanted a certain favorable treatment.  I thought I wanted her to tell me she loved me and appreciated my ongoing companionship without using words, you know?  But no.  Instead she brings me a gift bag with a few household chores and projects in it.  Fuck me, but I’m quite sure that I wanted to snake out the fucking sink-drain!  And I’m also really sure I wanted to tear out old, and hang new, electrical fixtures.  Mmm Hmmm.  So it’s me who’s being non-verbal.
5- I cleaned out the drain successfully without having to dismantle the whole assembly or call a plumber. In my previous misadventures I have developed a certain phobia of any wet or leaky pipe that isn’t my appendage.  I have called a plumber on more than two occasions after botching my own repair work.  I have had a few successes like this, but I still heartily dislike doing my own plumbing if you know what I mean.  It’s much better and more fulfilling to have someone else handle my plumbing for me, hon!  And preferably, with no hands.
4- I tore out the old light fixtures and installed the new electrical fixtures without electrocuting myself to death.  We have yet to verify they actually work because they are on some kind of light  sensor or timer or something.  I didn’t go check them when they were supposed to come on, but here’s hoping.
3- For Father’s Day, my kids were, by and large, properly respectful.  That’s cause for celebration. Most days there is a characteristic murmuring when they are asked to do stuff, or the complaint they’ve hurt something (arm, leg, foot, kidney, eye, toenail, feelings…) as a convenience to not have to get off their asses and do what we’ve asked.  I’ve come to expect a certain amount of eye-rolling, the sigh of absolute contempt, the excuses of self-entitlement, the claims (usually false) of having something more important that they are doing right now.  “I’m in the bathroom” is the only qualified “more important” immediate task, in my book.  But one brought me cold water while installing said electrical monster-fixtures, and one even took the time to hold the light while I dealt with the tangle of wires.  Thank God for wires with color coding or I might have either electrocuted myself, or burned down the house.  Now, if there were only hand-held remote control devices that would induce my wife and children to do what I want, on Father’s Day or any other day of the year.  Especially my wife…
2- The house did not burn down, which leads me to believe that the new fixtures might actually work.  I’ll have to go out tonight after sundown to see their illuminating glory.  And not the blazing glory of a house afire.  That would have made a really shitty end to my Father’s Day “festivities.”  My wishes notwithstanding, I also did not get  a festive or flirtatious look from my wife at the end of the day, but rather a weary, mumbled, “I’m going to bed,” which to her means “I’m going to sleep.” When she says this, there is a ‘Please do not disturb.’ sign hanging over her eyelids, and I’d damn well better not.  I didn’t win, but she isn’t filing for divorce.  I guess that means I did enough stuff over the weekend.
1- It’s Monday, and I’m not working as hard as I did this weekend.  It’s not “rest,” but it isn’t manual labor either.  As much as I hate Mondays, all it takes is a really busy, shitty weekend to put it into perspective.  If I worked my ass off, I wonder if that means I’m losing weight.  I could drop a few pounds.  If I did lose weight, that’d be #11.  But I doubt it.

100 Questions, Plagiarism and Personal Disclosures

This challenge was brought to my attention by the queen of my champagne imbibition by osculation daydreams, the as yet sight unseen, yet certainly lovely and talented BlahPolar Beauty.  Go on, click the link.  You know you want to.  I stole the idea outright and put it on my own blog.  And she stole it from another talented writer, the apparently shouty, sweary queen of caps lock, SassaFrass, The Feisty.  SassaFrass in turn, stole it from another, who stole it from another queen, or president’s daughter, or something, named Antoinette. And then they named the survey after the first guy with the stamina to answer all the questions, which just goes to show you there’s no honor among thieves or plagiarists, but there’s honor among thieving writers as long as one gives proper citation where credit is due.  And also shows that whenever something is accomplished, a woman probably did it and a guy swooped in and scooped up all the credit and had the project named after himself.  And, there’s two more links to chase like rabbit trails for the readers to get so distracted they forgot why they came here.  I’m just passing along my own personal attention deficit, you’re welcome.

1.How are you, really?

I’m fine.  Really.  Or not.  It’s possible that I’m fine, it’s also possible I’m worried that I’ll never accomplish anything I WANT to do because I’m so fucking busy struggling to keep up with the riptide of what I HAVE to do.  I might be breathing, or I might be drowning in the seas of chaos and destruction.  Or a miracle might occur and I’ll finish this and a couple of novels before I die.

2. How do you feel right now? What are you thinking about?

I just made my family some fried rice and ate some, so I’m feeling full.  I’m thinking about whether I should be vacuuming or washing dishes instead of answering 100 questions and drinking my screwdriver.  I’m going to try to do all of the above.  I just won’t finish.  Oh.  I’ll finish the screwdriver.

PS.  I didn’t finish, I wrote this the next day:  Right now I have a bit of buyers remorse over the burger I bought for lunch.  It was delicious, but now isn’t sitting well.  But by way of balance, I just cracked my neck something fierce and it feels a whole lot better than before I did that.

3.What’s your favorite color?
Purple.

4. What’s your favorite food.?
I like food, except shellfish and brussel sprouts.  And overcooked spinach.  Give me these and this is what will happen:

Now that I’ve gotten THAT out of my system, my favorite food is a good steak, or something else on the carnivore train, like fried chicken, pork, sausage, even fish.
But this…wins.  Totally.How to grill the perfect rib-eye steak from Martha Stewart
The link from Pinterest I stole this off of is connected to the picture.  And what a lovely picture it is.  Did I just eat two bowls of fried rice?  I’m hungry again.

5. What’s your favorite dessert?

A good vanilla ice cream  Or any ice cream, who am I kidding?  I like a hot fudge sundae or cherry pie too.  Chocolate is good.  Is there sugar in it?  OK, then.

6. How old are you?

49.  Or 23.  Or 139.  Or 4, depending on my mood.

7. What have you learned today?

Some ass hole shot 9 people dead at a church and he’s still alive, confirming some people are animals who should be put down and removed from the gene pool to avoid themselves being a threat to others.   Maybe the police should shoot him 9 times, over an extended period to allow partial healing in between, when he’s not expecting it, and keep him alive through each experience so he knows what it feels like and he can still make it to the fucking electric chair while he’s still alive, before they put him down like the animal he is.  Fuck hatred.  Sideways.  With a large cactus.  And from the above reaction, I also learned I’m a harsh, bitter, vindictive human being.

8. What was your favorite subject in school?

Lunch on pizza day.  Recess.  Girls.  Writing.  Geometry.  And Spanish, because my teacher was a beauty. Damn.

9. What do you do?

I Dad, I worship, I read, I write, I play violin and viola, I husband, I love my wife, and my friends. I wash dishes, I vacuum, I do windows, but if you tell anyone I will kill you, or kill the character I wrote as you, in my next short story or blog. I professionally coach idiots how to do things they’d never be able to do on their own, like reach their own professional life-goals, and fill out job applications and get data about idiots, because they’re all “professional” and I’m “not” so I get well underpaid for the service of getting them all well-paid.

10. What are some of your favorite books?
The Hobbit, Conan (R.E. Howard), Tarzan (E.R. Burroughs), any poetry by Shakespeare, Dr. Seuss (did I mention I’m 4?) or Shel Silverstein, or Leonard Nimoy, anything by Piers Anthony. P. D. Eastman, the Bible, and whatever I’m going to pick up at the library next time we visit.

11. What are some of your favorite movies?
Rankin & Bass’ The Hobbit (did I mention I’m 4?), My Man Godfrey, the recent Lord of the Rings, Vampire movies from Bela Lugosi to Blade, Star Wars, Star Trek, The whole Avengers series.

12. What kind of music are you into?
Easier to tell what I don’t like.  I don’t like the weirder jazz,  the dumber pop tunes, bad poetry, most of the shit they put on so called “reality” “talent” shows, stuff that’s overly explicit about sex, (please  leave some subtlety!) or songs that use the word “fuck” a lot because it rhymes with itself.  That said, I like funk and soul and even rap, I don’t mind the swearing if it’s not more than half of the poetry.  I really really like Broadway and off-Broadway musicals, old and new, Metallica, classic rock like Led Zeppelin and the Doors,  and Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, Jim Croce and James Taylor, Punk old and new (Adam Ant, Jet, etc.), Queen, Ray Charles, Chris Botti, Ella Fitzgerald, etc., Swing, Dixieland, Blues, a few Frank Sinatra songs, a few one-hit wonders, Alternative Rock, Country ever since it discovered a sense of humour and since I learned what it feels like to be depressed, I also like some emo, scene, dubstep, Hipster, Christmas, hipster Christmas, Hymns, Celtic, Classical, silly songs, parodies…did I leave any genres out?  Oh.  And, my mom or Mariah Carey singing anything.  They could sing the warning label words on the back of some poison and it would sound good.

13. If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
“Tongues Ablaze” (James 3:6) or “Tempted of God” (James 1:12-14) and I think you can figure out what they’d be about.  Trust me, it would be people doing bad things.  Any buyers, or shall I burn the manuscripts?

14. What’s one of the scariest things you’ve ever done?
Leaving home to go to grad school.

15. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My cooking and baking is pretty damned good.  Overcoming some of my predjudices.  Wait, that’s two.  And, I actually finished grad school and got my Masters degree, not that it’s working out for me yet.

16. Are you married?
Yes, thank you God.  She is so fucking awesome, when we’re getting along.

17. How did you meet your spouse / girlfriend / boyfriend?
Undergrad College.  After a few months I knew she was “the one.”  After a few years she thought I might be OK.

18. Do you think it’s better to get married when you’re young or better to wait a while?
If you make it work and make it last and marry the right one the first time, age doesn’t matter, but when I think of the sex we could have been having while I was busy waiting for her to decide I was worthy (I’m not worthy) I regret not getting married earlier.

19. Do you have any kids?
2 great kids.

20. Have you ever thought of adopting?
Yup.

21. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Rich.  Apparently, I haven’t grown up yet. Happy.  Architect, interior designer, music teacher or choirmaster.

22. How did you get into your profession?
Giving up on my grad-school aspirations.

23. Would you recommend your profession to other people? Why / Why not?
Fuck no, this job sucks.  I only do it so I can pursue my passions of writing, music, and eating, and the more occasional hobby of paying bills.

24. What do you do for fun?
(just a few stolen answers here, but they fit) Reading, listening to music, (and some originals) playing music, writing, hanging out with my kids, loving my wife.  Cooking.  Watching Dexter or American Dad or Supernatural, or Doctor Who, depending on my mood.

25. Do you like traveling?
I love to be other places when I’m not at home.  I hate traveling between home and other places.

26. If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go?
England, Spain, France, Italy, anywhere in the African Coffee Belt as long as it’s peaceful.

27. Who are some people you’d like to meet someday?
Tom Baker (my first Doctor Who), The fine lady I stole this survey from, who is just awesome, and Hayley Atwell.  Did you SEE her on Captain America?  And did you know she’s fucking SMART?  Got to love a smart lady with a great sense of humour.

28. If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you say?
Don’t follow my example.  Do better.

29. What’s one of your favorite habits you have?
(stolen answer) Bad puns.  I LOVE to pun-ish friends and family.  Once someone got me started with puns about bread, and I got on a roll…

30. What are some things that make you really happy?
Whenever my wife and kids are happy and grateful for stuff I do.  And when my wife does special things for me.  I really really like baking bread.

31. What are some things that make you really sad?
When my friends or family are sad.  When life conspires against me and hands me a truckload of shit and tells me it’s not shit but I am.

32. What are some things that scare you?
Stupid drivers, people who hate me for no reason.  War, guns in the wrong hands, poverty, especially personal poverty.

33. Do you like to plan things out in detail or be spontaneous?
I like it when other people plan things out, or I like to be spontaneous.

34. Are you a religious person?
No, I’m a Christ Follower but I’m not “religious.”  The “religious” leaders of Jesus’ time did some really shitty things, (like setting up Jesus to be crucified),and so did a lot of other “religious” leaders since then.  (like the head choppers and suicide bombers and stupid pastors like Jeremiah Wright and Westboro Baptist Assholes, may God bless them all fittingly or change their hearts to really truly follow Him the way He wants to be followed.) Instead I just care about other people and try to be helpful and encouraging.

35. If you could go back in history, who would you like to meet?
Jesus, Paul the Apostle, Shakespeare, Van Gogh, Robert Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Winston Churchill, W.C. Fields, Mae West, Eartha Kitt, …

36. Would you rather live in the country or in the city?
Country.

37. What was your life like growing up?
Fuck me.  Trigger Warning?  I spent a lot of time developing phobia of hospitals and doctors, for reasons I won’t delve into here.  I was bookish and I still am

38. What were you like in high school?
Geeky, tried too hard to make friends with people who couldn’t give a shit about me.

39. Do you have any brothers or sisters? How many?
yup.  3.

40. What’s your favorite part about today so far?
Metallica is playing right now on my Pandora Mix.  And I have reached question 40 of 100.

41. Who in your life has influenced you the most? How did they do it?
My parents, and my creative writing teacher and orchestra director in High School.  All of them taught me a lot and kept encouraging me to keep trying.

42. What’s your favorite joke?

I’ll give you 2:
A rabbi, a priest, a shaman, an imam, a swami and a baptist minister walk into a bar.  The bartender goes, “is this some kind of a joke?

A church’s bell ringer passed away. So they posted the position and a man came in with no arms wanting the job. The clergy weren’t sure he could do it, but he convinced them to let him try it.  They climbed the bell tower and the guy ran toward the bell and hit it with his head. They gave him the job.  The next day he went to ring the bell, tripped, bounced off the bell with a resounding effect, and fell to the sidewalk below, plummeting to his death. Two guys were walking past.  One asked, “Do you know this guy?”
The second guy responded, “No, but his face sure rings a bell.”

The next day, the dead bell ringer’s twin brother comes in for the again vacant bell ringer position. He also has no arms. They lead him up to the bell tower, he runs at the bell, trips, bounces off the bell with a loud report, and falls to the sidewalk below, dead.  The same two guys walk by.  The first asks, “Do you know him?”
The second guy responds, “No, but he’s a dead ringer for the guy we saw yesterday.”

43. Have you ever tried sushi? (Did you like it?)
Yuck!  Waiter, can you please send this back to the cook to have it cooked for me please?

44. Do you like spicy food?
Yes.

45. How do you like your steak cooked?
Medium, over a grill, thick cut ribeyes preferred, by someone other than me.

46. Do you have a favorite number? Any particular reason why you like that number?
42, honoring Douglas Adams’ genius.

47. If you were a type of animal, what would you be and why?
A lion maybe, or a shark.  Something high on the food chain.  It’d be good if I could be smart too.

48. What’s one of the strangest things you’ve ever done?
Starting this blog.  But it’s also been great.  It’s so out of character from the me people in my face-to-face life know.  Fucking liberating.

49. What kind of vacations do you like?
Spending time in the mountains, or fishing, or reading and resting.  In a hotel or bed and breakfast.
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50. What are some of your major goals in life?
Finish two or three novels, and actually earn money doing it.

51. What are some of your smaller goals in life?
Fix the shit at the house that has fallen apart.  Get out of debt.

52. What do you like least about yourself?
I’m depressed and moody and I have a hair-trigger temper when I’m depressed.  I hate other people inasmuch as I spend a lot of time having to deal with other people’s bullshit.

53. What embarrasses you?
REALLY stupid things I did, said and thought in the past.  I used to be even more stupid than I am now.

54. If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?
Food Critic

55. What’s your earliest memory?
Mom baking bread.

56. What’s the best decision you ever made?
Marrying my wife.

57. Who’s your best / closest friend?
A guy I worked with after grad school.

58. What do you think people think of you?
Who the hell is this guy and why should I bother?  Oh, and the rest, whom I’ve bamboozled with my bullshit, think I might be awesome.

59. What were your grades like in school?
When I tried really hard I could get good grades.
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60. If you could learn one random skill, what would you learn?
Engine repair or plumbing

61. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Introvert.  Did I mention I hate people? (In person.  Online, you’re all all right)

62. Have you ever taken a personality test? (How did the results turn out?)
Apparently, I’m totally incompatible with my wife and we shouldn’t have ever gotten married 22+ years ago.

63. What’s the first thing you notice about people?
Eyes, smile.

64. Do you think people can control their own destiny?
We can choose some things, and others are chosen for us by crazy idiots who we have to share the planet with, and the ones we don’t choose predominately suck.

65. Do you think all people are equally valuable, or do you think some people in certain situations might be more valuable than others (say, a severely retarded patient vs. a doctor who could potentially save hundreds of lives)?
Everyone has infinite worth.  I can’t pick one person over another in terms of value. Oh, and chemically we might be worth a few bucks.

66. Do you think people are basically bad or basically good?
See 64, my scarred past tells me most people are in it for themselves and not for me.  A special few are good.

67. Do you think morals are universal or relative to the beliefs, traditions, and practices of individuals or groups?
Universal, but I think people willfully choose to do immoral things all the time, including me.

68. Do you think God exists?
Yes.

69. Do you think any kind of afterlife exists?
Yes.  Because if this is all there is, it sucks.  Plus, if there is, I win, and if there isn’t, I lose nothing.  If there is and you don’t believe in it, sorry, you lose.  I would love for you to join me on the winning team

70. Do you vote? Why / Why not? If you do vote, how do you usually vote?
stolen answer because it’s perfect:  Yes/it’s my civic responsibility/none of your damn business.

71. Do you think gay people choose to be gay? Do you think straight people choose to be straight?
I think people are going to do what they’re going to do.  Belief in an inherent sin nature means sinners are going to sin, and it doesn’t matter what kind of sin it is, we all choose some kind of sin.  Including, or especially, me.  Which is why we all need grace.  Especially me.

72. Is torture ever a good option? If no, why not? If yes, when?
Never. Unless you’re a masochist, who’s into that sort of thing…

73. Would you kill an innocent person if you thought it might mean saving a dozen other people?
Puh-lease!  Trigger Warning people, NO, I CAN’T GO THROUGH THAT AGAIN!!  Just kidding, a little.  Click the link and maybe you’ll understand what I mean.  Don’t miss out, make sure to pull the drop-down, down, until you read it all.  It’s important (to me).  Any questions, feel free to ask.  I’ll do the best I can.  Or tell you I don’t know.

74. What’s the most money you’ve ever given away?
It seemed like a lot to me, but depending on one’s economic strata, it’s not really much.
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75. What’s the biggest personal change you’ve ever made?
I hate fucking Daylight Savings Time.  It’s an abomination from Jetlag Hell.  Twice a year.  Go forward. Go back.  Why can’t I just fucking stay here?  Or split the difference.

76. What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?
Trusting people to be true to their word.  That’ll never happen again.

77. What do you think would be one of the best steps we could take toward ending poverty around the world?
You can’t.  But you can pitch in where you are and do what you can to help.

78. What do you think we could do to best improve the education system?
Stolen answer again:  Pay teachers handsomely.

79. In general, what do you think about art?
Love it.  And poetry too.

80. What are some of your favorite websites?
Um…this WordPress thingy is the only one I really like.  I use other websites.

81. What’s the biggest turnoff in a man/woman?
A light switch.  Oh.  Or Selfishness.  Generosity and encouragement (and sexy eyes and symmetry) set me off right, but selfishness sucks, especially when it’s with a blind sense of entitlement.

82. What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?
Once upon a time when I was poverty stricken and suicidally depressed, I found a leprechaun and he gave me his pot of gold.  I spent the pot of gold buying a fishing boat and tackle, a pricey fishing rod and reel or six, and then I caught a fish that gave me three wishes.  I wished for infinite cash, an adequate house, and a happy, beautiful family.  He granted me all of these, and then I built a rocket ship and blasted hatred, war, poverty, disease and selfish ass holes ( I had them all tested ) into outer space.  Then I abdicated the throne and shared with everyone so everyone always had everything they needed.  Then I became a hermit, living in a secret undisclosed bunker with an infinitely stocked kitchen, near a lake for fishing and a library of my very own, and no one ever heard from or saw me again.  And it’s all true.  It happened just as sure as Cinderella and the Three Bears. (hush, I know it was Goldilocks, or the Three Step-Sisters, I was being ridiculous)

Wait.  Is that a lie, or a “tall tale?”

83. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I’m a complete idiot sometimes.  I’m frequently depressed, and occasionally slightly manic.

84. What’s something you wish everyone knew about you?
I’m not ignoring you because you’re stupid, I’m ignoring you because I don’t have the energy to process that level of bullshit.

85. What are some of the first things you do in the morning?
Throw on clothes, pour coffee, go to stupid work.  Or go to church.  Unless it’s Saturday, then I might sleep in and make waffles from scratch.

86. What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?
Bullies.  And not winning the mega-lottery until I turned 49.  It should have already happened, at, say, 42.

87. Do you cry easily?
When I’m depressed, yes.

88. How do you feel about public speaking?
It’s fine.  I can even sing on stage.

89. Do you like to talk on the phone?
Hate, loathe, detest.  Get off my fucking phone.  If I HAVE to talk to you I might call eventually.

90. How many emails do you get each week, roughly?
Way too many. I have a [De  te] key on my keyboard that makes them go away.

91.  If one were to make a movie about your life, who would you hope would play you?
Who’s the hottest, sexiest man available.  No, no.  Sexier.  …Sexier…  Yes.  Him.

92. What’s one of your favorite questions to ask new friends or to get a conversation going?
Why the hell would I want to make a new friend or start a conversation?  I want to be a billionaire hermit when I grow up.  Oh, all riiighhhttt!  “Can I buy you a drink?” ::pours cup of coffee, offers it::

93. Would you ever sky dive or bungee jump?
Not on purpose.

94. Have you ever been in a fist fight?
A girl on the playground tried to beat me up.  I stepped out of the way, she tripped, cried to the teacher, and I was the one who got in trouble.  I don’t even remember why she started that shit.
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95. What’s the best prank you’ve ever pulled?
I impersonated a voice of a character on the phone when working in a retail store selling their books and videos and other shit, saying I was in the back room.  The manager bought it.

96. What did you do on your 16th birthday?
I have absolutely no idea.  There might have been a cake.

97. What do you think is one of the most undervalued professions right now?
Mine.  I help people to get where they can make a bunch of money and I don’t get a percentage.  I get an hourly pittance.  I am worth so much more.  Or,  Teachers, we pay them peanuts and then trust them with the minds and safety of the next generation.

98. How would you explain your basic life philosophy?
Get it in writing or it ain’t worth shit.  Trust no one.  Give of yourself freely.  Keep your promises.  Don’t hate.  Speak the truth in love, don’t skip on either.  You need both in balance, or you and society will never improve.

99. Would you rather be hated or forgotten?
I’ll be forgotten AFTER the seething hatred dies down.  If I’m dead, it doesn’t matter what you think anyway.  Because we’re ALL destined for forgotten-ness.  I’m a cog in a machine.  When the cog wears out they yank it out and put in a new cog and throw the old one in the trash.

100. If you knew you would die tomorrow, would you feel cheated today?
Inasmuch as it would be nice to write those novels, yes.  But inasmuch as I follow The King (with a tattoo on his thigh no less, how cool is THAT ?), NO.