Saturday, November 27, 2010

The friend of my enemy is my frenemy!

There comes a point when the nexus of the universe meets at and you come face to face with that one person.  It might be in college or it might be in kindergarten or in the grocery line, chances are you have met them though.  That person who is so much like you it causes an instant Sherlock Holmes/James Moriarty complex. 

It’s your frenemy.

I believe these people exist for you to realize how annoying you, yourself really are.  You have never shared anything with them, but they know your catch phrases, your silly mannerisms, and the fact that you cut your fingernails with scissors.  They know all of it because like some twisted bizzaro version of you, they do it to.

They aren’t similar to you, they ARE you.  Just in a separate space in the universe.  You might say “That’s impossible!”  But if you search your feelings Luke, you know it to be true.

Most people are the same, just small little tweaks here and there.  Unless you are from Jersey, people from New Jersey have no soul.

I traveled to New Jersey once.  I went to the corporate headquarters for the company I worked for and was able to spend a whole week in that God-forsaken place.  In an event to not want to go out to dinner alone every night, I decided to drive to the nearest grocery store and pick up bread and stuff for sandwiches.  New Jersey lives off the loneliness and sadness of the people who exist there.  If I could stay in my hotel long enough, I didn’t have to think about being in New Jersey. 

Anyway, while at the store checkout I purchased my goods and said “Thank you” to the check out clerk and bagger.  The bagger proceeded to answer my thank you with “yeah”.

No souls.

 As I was leaving something happened that cemented my hatred for the east coast forever more.   As I was walking out of the store about 20 feet in front of me before the exits, an old woman was putting away her change in her change purse.  I suppose she didn’t want to do this in line after buying her groceries because it would have held up the other customers.  In her effort now to put the coins away, she accidentally dropped all her change on the floor.  Dimes, nickels, quarters went everywhere.  As I approached her though, I saw about half a dozen people walk around her and over her change, never once offering to help her pick it up.

I believe when Jesus comes back to the world, he will just choose to incinerate New Jersey.  If not, then I am sure we can vote on it, or something.

Moving on…

Do not make the mistake of making your frenemy your actual friend.  This is ill advised.  I think cosmically you will cause the universe to explode.

If you happen to be in a small group where people know both you, and your frenemy they will make comments about how similar you both are, but how you happen to both hate each other.  This isn’t the absolute truth though.  Frenemies don’t “hate” each other.  It’s just an absolute competition to be the best YOU that YOU are.  But both of you are YOU.

As much as I try to make my kids an absolute replica of me, they will not be, therefore they are not good frenemies and not useful in gang fights. 

The friend side (remember they are not your actual friend) of the frenemies relationship is actually where the benefit comes into play.  Frenemies, having the same things that offend you, in them, and are good for helping in arguments, gang fights and dance competitions.  A frenemy will never let you face the sharks alone when you’re a jet.

Some things frenemies are also beneficial in:

1.)    A frenemy will always tell you when you look fat in something. 
2.)    They will always come up with cool presents for you, because it’s what they like, and let’s face it, you are the same person.
3.)    I believe as long as your frenemy is alive – you will stay alive as well.  It’s that whole 2 sided coin theory I have, but not proven yet.
4.)    Your frenemy will hold your hair while vomiting, but they will also post a picture taken from their smart phone of the vomiting on facebook or twitter.

Don’t piss off your frenemy anymore than you would want to be pissed off.  They hold the same grudge you do, and possibly the same sense of revenge.

If you have not yet found your frenemy, it may come from the basic premise that you don’t know who you are yourself. 

Only in truly knowing yourself, can you discover your frenemy.  Good Luck.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Other Woman in my Life

My daughter is attending play practice for our church Christmas play. When we attend these practices she sneaks in some extra “Daddy and Daughter time” as I have dubbed it. It’s a time when I spend a few extra moments with her and no one else. I fulfill requirements for the “Dad of the year button” in her eyes and she gets to be with me without her brothers.

Recently we went to George’s and she ordered a Hot Chocolate and we split a dessert. We talked about all sorts of things. We talked about school, the universe, Math, boys, friends, enemies, frenemies and trouble with homework.

We got on to subtracting improper different denominator fractions with minuends and subtrahends. I used the back of her script for the Christmas play and at the table we feverishly went over calculations and formulas until it made sense. I noticed the more problems we went through and the more problems we solved the quieter it was around us with people listening in to what we were doing. I heard one man say to he woman across from him “Do you hear what they are doing at the table? It sounds like Math!”

It wasn’t an excited statement of joy. It was a more “Look what THEY are spending their time doing”

Yes sir. I refuse to have stupid children. Heaven forbid we destroy the one chance to make a fully functioning adult in society.

After our “date” I paid the bill. As I opened the door out for my little girl we walked to my car. She put her arm in mine and she continued to tell me about how much she loved spending time with me. She asked if we could drive the long way home. Not after 8PM I said. It’s way passed her bedtime.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Melancholy and Other Dogs that taste like fruit…

When I was little, about 4 or 5, my mom would sing us songs all the time that she knew.  Songs like “what do you do with a drunken sailor” (this music is now background to some SpongeBob episodes), Puff the Magic Dragon, John Denver songs and “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.  Alright, I was 7 on that last one but you get my point.  Mom sang to us all the time.  Dad traveled a lot on business so it was one of the things we did to have fun.

One time, my Dad was gone for a few days, and the night he was getting home he was real late.  My mom, in an effort to cheer us up went to the door and wrapped her arms around herself and it made it look like my Dad was walking in through the door hugging her.  We were so excited for a second, but when my mom turned around to show us it was a joke I remember getting upset at her for tricking us.

Things must have gotten really rough for my mom and one night she decided to leave.  I think I was about 6 and I remember my Dad coming into my bedroom to wake me up and said “Your mother is leaving.  See if you can say something to get her to stay.”

What?  Now I admit, I was a very articulate 6 years old.  I could sing the 3-2-1 contact song, realized Under Dog popped pills from a ring to get his super powers and would pretend to be interviewed by talk show hosts when I spent too much time in the bathroom.  But I had no idea what to say to get my mom to stay.  I didn’t even know why she wanted to leave.  So I did what every 6 year old would do when told their mom was leaving for good.  I cried.

It must have been several agonizing moments for my mom to see her kids that way, but in the end, she stayed.  For a few more hours, at least until we went to bed.

Flash forward 15 or so years to the well adjusted individual with no psychological baggage that I was.  Yup.  I had become a Christian, and started going to church.  I remember telling my mom about my new found faith, and she would humor me and my stories.  She would smile as I told her that the Pastor I listened to was such a good speaker.  She would deadpan response to me and say “Hitler was a good speaker to.” 

As I said, no psychological baggage on this guy here.

I was finally able to convince my mom to at least come to the church I attended in Indiana.  After the first service my mom ever attended said to me “You know son, I can see why you like the Baptist church so much.  They seem to make a big deal about the importance of family”


But she was right in a way.  I never noticed it before but there was a sense of teaching that “Dad – you lead the home, you love your wife and raise your kids”.  What a novel concept it was.

My mom ended up joining the church I attend in Lockport.  I remember being at church for some event or another and my mom was sitting behind me in the building.  Very few people were there.  But she was looking down and she said to me “Craig, I’m sorry”

“Sorry for what Mom?”
“For leaving you kids.  I never said I was sorry.”

Wow, what do you say?  It would have been great to rehash every scene I had in my head when I didn’t have a mom and it would have been nice for her to be there.  Or the times that Christmas or any other Holiday were spent driving around minus 1 parent because that was just the way it was now.

Some of you know what I mean.

I said the only thing that came to mind.  I forgave her.  I would like to say some deep rooted bible verse or spiritual insight came to me when I told her that, but that would be lying.  My mom just needed to know she was forgiven.  I can’t imagine being trapped in the guilt of a decision for over 20 years.  It was easy to say it.

Things were different now, I had kids, and my mom had grandkids that were hers to share her time with.  Why worry about the past?  The answer is simple.  Because she still left us.  I mean, how can you leave your own kids?  No more stories, no more songs or singing, no more tuck-ins by mom.  All of it never happened.

I said I forgave her, but that didn’t take anything away.  There was no absolution or great weight lifted.  In fact, it made it heavier.

That was until one night when my mom came over to watch the kids so my wife and I could have a date night.  This was just 3 or so years ago.  Collin, my little fuzzy headed tornado was 2 years old.   That day I remember finding old cartoons from when I was a kid to watch on youtube and I came across Puff the Magic Dragon.  So the kids were eating dinner before the wife and I went out and before Grandma got there.  I put Puff on for them and they watched and laughed and asked questions.  The song is played throughout the show, so after the movie the kids asked to hear it again and I found a live concert version of the song.  It was this one:

Well, I turned on the video and my mom knocked at the door.  In the next few minutes I had my shoes in hand and the kids had come in to hug Grandma.  Katie and Brandon went back to the table to finish dinner, but Grandma and Collin sat down on the far left of the side of the couch while I put my shoes on at the right hand side.

I was talking about work to my mom, about her trip over to my house and I realized I was talking over her.

Over her singing. 

I stopped talking and turned to see my mom cradling Collin in her arms.  Their noses touching…my mom almost whispering to the song coming from the video.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain, Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.”

In an instant, I saw me and I was 4 again.

The revelation that I was missing earlier, the great tidal wave of everything washing away that didn’t exist when I forgave my mom.  It came here.

As did the scripture verse.

old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

My mom could not go back and neither could I to when I was 6 and she was leaving.  Time in its honesty and possibly cruelty does not work that way.  In truth, I wouldn’t want it to.  What I cherish is the lesson in forgiveness that should be the hallmark of my life as a Christian.

Without it, I would never have seen this.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Canada - Thou Foul Villian Part 1

As a young freshman in High School I received a pamphlet towards the end of the year for a Canoe trip to Canada at the Quetico Provincial Park.  How fantastic and wonderful this sounded.  You see, I could canoe.  Up in Waupaca Wisconsin there was the Crystal River canoe trip, 3 miles of Canoeing that was supposed to take 1 hour to go through I could do with a partner in 30 minutes.  I was an expert at Canoeing. 

I had never been to Canada yet, never been anywhere really.  So I asked my dad if I could go.  I believe the price was around $700 and he let me go for it.  I remember packing and looking at the brochure – natural lakes, no boats, pristine nature preserver.  So very sexy in a Davy Crockett way.

I remember boarding the bus.  Kids from school were there but so was Tony from Ludwig.  I will never forget Tony, because he almost got me addicted to dip and killed me on 2 occasions.  Canada!  How exciting it all was going to be.

On the bus ride up there a very large Minnesota man drove us on a 24 hour bus ride.  He drove the whole freaking way without a stop, I am not sure if this was legal or not, but I remember halfway through the trip he said “If you look out the right side of the bus you will see an Iron Ore refinery.”  I shouted back – “Iron or what?!”  Yes, I was even funny back then, dry wit and all.

We arrived at the Camp ground where I believe I met some real live Canadians for the first time.  The leader of the camp was a grand poobah type of a grisly man.  Kinda like the kool aid man crossed with Santa.  He has his family there and we were told we were going to eat tonight and commune with nature and it’s “spirits”, and tomorrow we would be divided up and given our guides for our wilderness adventure.

You know that feeling of remorse….the one that says oh crap we shouldn’t have come here…?  Yeah – that was starting to set in.

The put us up in an A-frame structure that was missing 1 wall, which was enclosed by window screen type material.  When you sleep outside – it is an awesome experience.  I say awesome because I feel bad using the word sucks.  There is nothing as awesome as being cold, sleeping on a wooden floor with no pillow.

When I woke up, the sun was coming over the trees and I saw for the first time the water, lit ablaze by the morning light.  I will never forget that.

We were assigned our guides.  My group of adolescent high school boys was assigned tour guide Crystal.  I found out early – Crystal and I were not going to get along.  Why?  I am not sure.  I am a fun loving individual with a natural hatred for all things Canadian.  I am not sure what the problem was.

We set out on our adventure with us boys from High School, and Tony from Ludwig.

Ahhhh, Canoeing.  Easy stuff.  No worries, but something they talked about WAS new to me.  It was called portaging.  Portaging is a Canadian ritual were you decide to get out of the perfectly good canoe and place it on top of your shoulders to carry it over land.  You do this instead of paddling around islands for the simple fact that Canadians are stupid and must at certain points in time feel the need to pick up the boat that they are in to work on their hernias.

Along the weeks time out in God’s country, or what I would consider next door to God’s country since he would never live so close to the French, our diets consisted of Velveeta cheese and lake water.  You see – you can’t cook anything when it rains everyday and your guide hates you so much she feels the need to ration the Coleman stove fuel for say…popcorn. 

Two things about drinking lake water that is all natural.  One – it tastes great, and two, you poop funny.  Yeah.

Moving along, I got to know the guys in my group so well.  We even saw a baby bear on our Canoe trip.  Yup, funny thing about Crystal, she would go from ultra crab butt to shriek out fear terror hag in only a few seconds.  You see, Crystal understood that where a baby bear was, a mama bear must be close by.  So when she started screaming, we decided to ditch our plans of a Canadian petting zoo.

If you crave excitement, paddling aluminum canoes in a lightning storm is highly recommended.  Jason, who was in the Canoe with Crystal, had hair that started to rise up, like at Wisconsin Dells and that static ball, you know the one I mean?  Yeah – it appears that a good sign of a lighting strike is the victim’s hair sprouts up.  This small mishap sent us paddling to the nearest island, where we setup camp and huddled together to stay out of the rain.

That night, crystal left us and went to an adjacent camp off our island and to the next campsite over.  Did I mention she hated us?  This left everyone in their tents and me with Tony from Ludwig.

Tony and I were cold.  Tony and I were sad and Tony and I wanted to get a fire started.  As two young men together we decided to start a campfire with wet logs, Coleman stove ethanol fuel and some of our toilet paper that we had left from pooping out lake water.

We setup the logs and placed the toilet paper.  I lit the toilet paper as Tony from Ludwig poured some fuel on the fire.  It would burn for a few seconds, but then the fire would go out.  The logs were very wet.  So it made sense if we poured more fuel on the logs – then the fire that came would dry out the logs so they would then burn.  Made perfect sense.

What happened next was fricking awesome.

Tony from Ludwig miscalculated his pouring angle and the already burning fire of toilet paper.  I saw flames climb up from the logs and head straight into the can of ethanol fuel.  Tony freaked like a meth addict seeing imaginary spiders.  Except the imaginary spiders was really an awesome blue flame.  Tony from Ludwig started screaming “Put it out Put it out!”  But as I stood there I rationalized in my head – “it’s gas, you can’t put it out.  Boy I am glad I am not him.”  Tony from Ludwig started pouring the ethanol all over the campsite, on the packs, the trees, the tents.  He then proceeded to make a break for the lake.  You know, the pristine never had a boat in it all natural drink from it poop funny lake?  Yeah, with what looked like tire tracks from a DeLorean hitting 88 MPH all the way down the path to the lake, Tony from Ludwig did the only thing possible, he chucked the canister of ethanol into the all natural lake.  Since ethanol floats on water the entire shore was a blaze.  We were burning down Canada.

But at least I was warm.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Shall Make You Free

Heroes and villains are made out of men based upon prejudices and experiences that usually reflect our own thoughts of what righteousness should be.  Whatever ideals we tend to gravitate towards or shy away from cause certain paths to be chosen and outcomes to be reached. 

When I was a boy I thought all police officers were good.  I remember being in a restaurant in New Lenox Called Sherwood Inn.  I saw a barrel of a man with a gun at his side and a Sheriff’s star on his chest as he was eating lunch.  I wanted to go over and see that star, because I knew, as TV showed me, that the Star meant he was a good guy.  He was someone who would protect me against the bad guys in the world.  I remember even thinking he rode on a white horse because that is what all Sheriffs did.  My mom let me walk over to the man and I was able to see his gun and touch the star and thought this man is what makes everything to be alright.

In the quietness of what is true though is there is no such thing as people who are good.  In essence goodness escapes itself even as a concept when you have nothing to address what the opposite of good would be.  What is the opposite of good in the world when a lack of morality happens to permeate what would be called civilization?

My encounter with the Sheriff proved that as a child the symbols that made that man good were enough to define him as good, to me.  I had no idea who he was or what he did in his life, how he treated his family or friends.  I just made an assumption by the symbols that I associated with goodness.

Life is not meant to be lived ideally.  It’s not the design anymore.  Poets can love, artists can imagine and a literary can dream but the end result is the same.  What is described as good is in essence a symbol as what we hope to be good.

If the statement is true - “Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely” then submitted for further analysis must be “Truth Redeems, Absolute Truth Redeems Unequivocally.”

When symbols and men who brandish those symbols pass away and left are the concepts that are markers for what truth should be and what truth is only then do you come to discerning conclusion that must lead back to an author of that truth.

Could that author be a man?  In solemn awareness of humanity, it must not be.  For humanity in of itself has never lent itself to anything but its own destruction.  In its own ends humanity self destructs when it reaches the precipice of panic and despair.

No, humanity cannot be a creator of truth, but it can be a witness of truth and its principles.  Humanity can lift high the ideals of truth and strive to obtain those ideals, but also take comfort in the failures that occur along that journey.  Imperfection can never obtain perfection without something to remove the imperfections.

Arguing that the basic human is good, that man is good by nature is disproved when you add more of man to it.  Is one man good?  No.  One man is alone. Despondent and given to solitary delirium.  Introduce another and you have competition, envy and jealousy among them where none was before. 

Take the opposite path.  No man on earth would leave a question to be asked by a soulless planet, why?  Mountains, valleys, trees, winds, stars and oceans, why have any of this at all?

Now truth arises and asks “Why Indeed?”  Chance is an insane answer, given over by individuals who have more faith in a statistical calculation of impossibility that even the staunchest of atheists must shake their heads in disbelief at when written on a board large enough to hold it.

Seeking truth in men for the answer will lead you to answers of men.  Mired in jaded views of what life has given them perspective to have.  And if life has had their way with the best of us, the most honorable, then these viewpoints cannot be given a foothold in the lives of those who seek to be liberated by absolute truth.

Being cynical, no one’s world view would affect mine, as their own personal life is not mine, their own experiences not shared with me.  And mine are not yours.  But Truth must be satisfied to have an existence, and it must be an existence that resides in something greater than us.

The question originates in us as it did for Pontius Pilate, “What is Truth?” 

Truth is not a concept, it is a person.

To what every human heart knows and what many joy to deny, we fall short often of that truth and daily reject it outright.

But to those who know the truth, and who resides in and freely gives its wisdoms, we are made free indeed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived. - Isaac Asimov

Quick Cynical Thought...

An atheist spending time reading the Bible doesn't make them anymore capable of understanding Christianity than it does for a Christian reading the DSM IV giving them the knowledge and technique to be trained psychologist.

Get bent Asimov.


Second post! – Can’t Sleep. I wrote it in Word this time so I didn't lose it!

I have been told after doing something more than 3 times, if you’re gifted, creates a habit.  Normal people, eight times is required for a new trait to be learned.  In school, Mrs. Keen would go over something 3 times in her English classes for us to learn a new rule or a new concept.

She thought we were all gifted.  I would have rather have finished the 5 more times I needed for that i before e rule.  Or any rule for that matter.  Maybe even just lessons in being nice…

Mrs. Keen’s perception built self confidence in us that maybe we were all gifted in one way or another.  Her perception determined her reality and her reality dictated her approach in how she was to instruct us in the ways of diagramming sentences. 

Christianity appears to be no different.  Although we all have one book to operate from, people’s perceptions of that one book vary far and wide, and depending on whom you talk to, some are just down right insane.

Those bordering on the clinically committed level get the most attention.  I like attention.  I have a deep seeded fear that if people stop paying attention to me I disappear.  Given the amount of time in my teenage life I was alone, I either know this not to be so, or there were always many people at least THINKING about me.

Cynical people tend to be self reliant and not very trusting.  Our nature makes us disbelieving naysayers, who at every opportunity to a story relayed that offers some kind of hope(ism) – ok it’s not a word – or fuzzy feeling in our heart, we are sent to Wikipedia or to verify the validity of the story relayed to us in such a “chain letter sent in email” vein that we are usually met with the sad truth.

The wonderful story isn’t true, the soldiers weren’t applauded for, the husband wasn’t divorcing his cancer dying wife only to realize how much he loved her and the President was born in Hawaii.  Cynicism grounds you in the reality of what is.  And the reality of what is fails to bring us to anything beyond the ends of our nose and our own perceived world around us.

This is my second post, and I am honest enough to say I am writing for myself more than anyone who would stumble across my nonsense.  Smarter men than I have tackled weightier issues and have come up with better answers than I fear I am able. 
Questions must be asked beyond the normal “Why does God allow evil?”  This question is juvenile at best. 

If you are going to ask the question at least attach validity and intelligence to it so that it can be shed in the proper horrible light you mean it to be.  Why would God allow marauding bands of men to break down doors in other countries, hold a father at gun point while they rape the women of the family?  True story, it was in the news about 2 years ago.

I travel sometimes.  In Hotels I can’t sleep and I end up watching TV.  If you stay up late enough you are greeted with television shows asking for donations to the Children’s Cancer Charity – and/or local Hospital.  Some of the children have terminal cancer, and I cry like a sally every time I watch one of those children playing and laughing.

The Question why does God (Fill in the blank?) is such an empty question of futility as human beings we attempt to demand an answer, and sometimes are greeted with replies with “it’s His Will” or “part of a greater plan”. 

Those answers can make atheists.

C.S. Lewis before making the Narnia books was a self confessed atheist, who in his own words at 17 years old said he “was angry at God because He did not exist”.

Reality, the true reality that destroys the myth of the existence in what we perceive as our current lot must have answers for these questions.

I will not begin to justify the existence of God, as he needs no justification by the likes of me.  My life as a Christian started 13 years ago and my perception has been so altered as to it’s original focus that only by seeing how an unregenerate C.S. Lewis came to know his sorry state changed his outlook to which the previous anger towards a missing eternal creator evolved to I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” – C.S. Lewis

I would prove to be an unconvincing partner for you because of how I see everything else.  As others before me I can share a testimony and send you to scripture to show the way to what I believe, I can’t make you believe.  Christ cannot be marketed or sold.  He is who he is to all.

But I digress…

The comment “God is good, all the time” must be given the balanced side of the equation if mathematically we are to have a true statement. At least in this dispensation of time if  “God is good all the time=variable(X) is bad all the time”.

The true question that should be asked then is what is X?

For by identifying what X truly is lays all the definitions of what ails the world and where its corruption stems forth. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

FIRST! - Well Sort of.

Honestly...I had an awesome post already written, but then I posted it and lost half of it when it came up here to the interwebs.  So, it makes sense that attempting to share my humor, and cynisim and faith ended in an epic failure that made me look up and say "Really?"

The only thing that tastes better than being cynical is irony.  Especially when you can appreciate it for what it truly is, irony is the best laid plans going wrong at the best possible time for the maximum amount of humor.

Like Midget wrestling.