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Strange Confessions: In Which I May Have Finally Admitted What I Want to be When I Grow Up

Strange Confessions: I am a little bit jealous of my wife, my best friend, for getting a teaching job at the local Christian school.

For years I have not known what I wanted to be when I grow up, and being forty-four years old, I still don’t really know. Perhaps, until now.

When I was in elementary school I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was told I had a way with animals and I did like them; I could make friends with any animal that I came in contact with. Slowly, slowly that desire started to fade away. I envy people who see what they want to be at a young age, and then with every intent and purpose they go after it with zeal. There are those who get into college, take a few courses, change majors a few times, and graduate in their chosen field. Sure maybe they didn’t have such a pursuant desire as the former, but their goals are achieved nonetheless.

Ferguson Canyon: My favorite hiking grounds, just a 15 minute walk from home.

Ferguson Canyon: My favorite hiking grounds, just a 15 minute walk from childhood home.

When I got went to college, my chosen field was the Utah State University, Forestry program. I hiked a lot in my latter years of High School and just loved and appreciated all the outdoors had for me. Living in walking distance of the Wasatch Range in the Salt Lake valley sure improved my outlook when I was down. We would occasionally go camping and the rangers would make their rounds in the morning, talking and meeting new people everyday was such a thrilling outlook for me, that, that is what I wanted. Alas, as I have written before, I struggle with some depression, and this time in my life, Fall of 1987 to the Spring of 1988, occurred some of the absolute worst bouts I had against the dreaded lurking blackness. I grew disillusioned with the staff and the students there. More likely what affected me there was my depression. It was the first time away from home, I was poor, I was hungry, I needed a good friend, and most people were only interested in studying or partying at one time or another. I see that now what I really needed then, my strong sense of needing to belong, needing to know people cared had to be fulfilled or I would whither away and perish, which I did metaphorically. I stopped going to classes, started partying too much, isolated myself in my room for longer periods of time. I had a grant that I lost that year because of failing or incomplete grades. That year was I time I would most like to forget, but like most things I see now, it was a part of who I am now, and I should never forget it.

I tried again the next year to go to USU, without classes, without money. My plan was to get the job back I had, a copy dude at one of the many campus copy centers, work hard, stay away from bad influences, and make enough to start classes again. But, the first week there, all the pain and emptiness poured over me and I froze in panic, called my Mom and begged her to come and get me. My Nana had to come and get me. On the ride home, I was defeated. Low and empty I said nothing. It was a bitter disappointment. For me, people or places in which I was with during strong depressive states, I cannot revisit. There was this guy named Carlos I went to High School with. Even now thinking about him causes me anxiety and an inner sadness I find hard to deal with. Well, that is what I learned with the USU campus. We would travel through Logan valley years later and stop at the dairy college to get some ice cream and it would make me feel hollow just looking around. Although I loved driving up Logan Canyon. I remember two specific instances up there that I had a very good time up there, so that is a good place.

I ended up getting a job at Fred Meyer and worked there for several years with a small break in between. My second stint with Fred’s introduced me to my future wife and a friend who started working at Kinko’s. After a few years of marriage, I too began working at Kinko’s and I’ve been in the printing industry since. Hrrmm, looking at that now, I’m none too proud of my work “choices”. For it seems that almost all my jobs were taken out of desperation. Even now, the one I have, which took me several hundred miles from my  home of forty years, was taken to get away from things. I am extremely jealous of people who have a job that they enjoy, or that they chose, or that brings them fulfillment, or a good profit. Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful to God for getting me in a position where I can provide for my family. It’s just that… I would like to like it. I would like to have chosen it.

Which brings me to this Strange Confession: I have always loved working with younger people. It brings me such a sense of fulfillment and belonging and purpose that I cherish the time I have with them. When I left Salt Lake, the hardest for me was leaving the kids I worked with on Tuesday night at AWANA with my local church. Sure, I was going to miss my family and friends that I had, but those kids were really very special to me. I actually had adults think I was a teacher because of the way I could relate to them. This sparked things in my mind, but I never followed it up. So some people knew about my wife’s commitment to Christian education, and thought she may be available for a few hours during the week, and they put her name forward, and through a series of interviews she got the job. I have been a little upset with her lately, easily offended and the like, and never knew what it was until just a few days ago. I am jealous of the position she received. I pictured myself standing in front of kids, bringing thoughts of history, writing, math, doctrine and expanding their minds, revealing more of the world to them, caring for them, talking to them, answering questions. I realized that I was jealous. I want to be a teacher. But how? We aren’t in an area where I can get a degree, I don’t have the time or money or resources for this. All I see are walls.

But God doesn’t see any of that. I see no way , but God does. I believe God has given me this gift to relate to kids and this may be it! In some ways I am so discouraged because it is so late in coming and I just don’t see it happening, but God can do whatever He wants with me. And I give Him this. May I bear fruit in this area through Him, and give Him the glory when all is accomplished.

~Stranger

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Strange Confessions: A Conclusion to a Realization Trilogy

Strange Confessions: I would probably never go to my High School reunion. But, I would definitely go to an elementary reunion, although I’d probably be the only one there.

The graduating class of 1983 from St. Vincent’s elementary school was the best group of friends one could ever have at that age. Perhaps it was my position or perception, but it seemed as though we were all friends. More than any other class that I could observe. There were no bullies, no outcasts, no snots. It was like being in one big family!

As I know and observe the world now, I know the last two sentences can’t be true. So, I believe that because I had cool older siblings and that I was fun, adventurous, and accepting that I had a lot more perspective on people than others might have. I could play baseball, football, foursquare, and I was an ace dodger at dodge-ball, so, I could relate to those who could play better than me; which was a majority. I could play D&D, hang out in a tree just to talk, climb through the prickery bushes, chalk up the black top, and hang out on the hills or bleachers, (whichever the case may be). I was involved in scandal, (see previous Strange Confessions), cheating (look forward to future Strange Confessions), skipping class, breaking machinery, going behind forbidden doors, and staying up late looking for trouble. I could eat anywhere I wanted during lunch, with the smart guys, jocks, girls, or outside with the semi-rejects. I was invited to all the parties, whether they be the cool kids or not, which of course I might have seen that everyone was invited, or just didn’t see who was really missing. Sure there was the occasional kid who didn’t particularly show a kind face to me, but I could hang with the kids they were with, so I was never extremely bothered by them. Most of the bullies who affected me were in other grades or older kids in my neighborhood. I got along with all.

In short, I was best friends with all these people. I miss them and would love to see them all again and talk and find out what they are doing and where they ended up and how they saw the past and how it affected them. Alas, the times I have gotten together with old friends have been less than pleasant or … fun.

In many ways I have not grown up. It’s a fact I hold with a rather nostalgic affinity. I really don’t ever want to let it go. I suppose that to really grow up means you changed beyond who you were and now seek more … oh I don’t know, adult(?). I want to examine this further, because there is some disconnect with friends I had and relation now. As I typed that last sentence I understand. It’s not that I still hold on to not being a grown up, it’s that people… really… change. Hmmmm… Well anyway, the not growing up part is being able to see a friend in anyone whether they may seek the same pursuits or not, have the same ideas or not, or are in the same “class” or not. We look at children and you can just walk up and be friends with another in mere moments. Mayhaps this is the key to understanding this. Even though I was not happy with my last Strange Confession, it has led me to this understanding. I should group these last three into the “Discovery” Strange Confession. Oh how I enjoy the “ah-hah” moments.

Back to the story. As I’ve shared before I had a facebook breakdown several months ago, where I got rid of a lot of people in order to renew my understanding. In doing this I came back with a new attitude and had the idea that I would accept anybody’s request, as long as there was mutual, and seek out old friends. I have, rather trepidatiously, asked friends from elementary and high school to be “friends” on that one site. I haven’t really had any kind of contact with them since we contacted again. To me that is very strange, isn’t it? I mean, you knew me back then and were connected again, okay, let’s leave it at that. In an effort to show my unification and a bit of humor (perhaps), I posted a video link of Neil Diamond’s “Hello” and said to all my new/old friends here’s to you. Only two people “liked” this and those were people I have been friends with since I’ve been on that one site. It’s fine. I really don’t care. Then there was this one girl who showed up in my suggested friends lists, who was connected to all the St. Vincent and Judge people, and she recently sent a request. I barely knew her, but I did remember her. She went to Judge, and she was friends with this girl who liked me. I know: weird, huh? It surprised me a lot too, and I really didn’t know what to do. She seemed to detect my lack of experience with a girl more than just a friend. It was short-lived after a dance. Anyway, I accepted this girl’s request and posted that I was surprised she remembered me and I was glad to connect. That is odd, is it not? All these people who I really knew, I can’t say a thing. Then one I didn’t really know, I post on her wall. She gracefully responded, “Of course I remember you.” It was nice to have a little back a forth. She told me about old friends and I was thankful to know. She said she would invite me to some Judge page. I told her that would be awkward, since I didn’t graduate from there. I hope that some day I can find the courage to really communicate with these old friends but I don’t see that day. We’ve changed. *gasp*

I’ve said before that this writing is something I am going to continue. I hope to try my hand soon at fiction again. But I am just comfortable doing this for now. I have many people who tell me they are reading but never say anything. That’s fine I suppose, but it would be nice to hear from more than just the standard four or five. Not that there is anything standard about them. Anytime I know someone has slogged through what I wrote, to reveal myself more, it is such a special connection for me. Thank you all. I hope your world has grown through reading. I recently asked people on that one site to send me their blogs, so that I could follow and read their musings. There was one response, and that was for other people’s blog. I know I’m not the only one who shares, it’s just difficult to find them, especially ones I really know. My blog has recently surpassed ten followers, and I’ve had one comment from someone I haven’t met face to face. I’d say that’s pretty cool.

Here’s to more writing, cheers!

guiness-flickr-BrotherMagneto-thumb-250x333-72540

~Stranger

Strange Confessions: The Masters

Strange Confessions: During my freshman year of high school I would occasionally don a black felt, pointy topped mask, and acted like a weirdo in public.

At Judge Memorial Catholic High School, during my freshman year, I fell in with the wrong crowd. Or, wrong individual, is perhaps closer to the truth. This was a very transformational period for me. I gained much experience of who I was to turn out to be, from my standing back and observing this person, let’s call him Wayne, and how he treated his friends and me. I also, for the longest time, blamed Wayne for my lack of dedication, direction and hard work at Judge which led to my expulsion for poor grades. But ultimately, I knew I had no one to blame but myself, which took a long time for me to see. I still regret much of the consequences: seeing people I knew all through my childhood going on toward their purpose and being successful in their endeavors, united in their struggles, forming friendships that would last a lifetime, that should have been with me and for me. I still regret it but not in the same way, for that is another story.

I became friends with Wayne under delicate circumstances. Several of us were hanging out in the Boys’ room, I don’t remember who they specifically were or how I came to be there, but I was standing by the sink, messing with the soap dispenser. The nozzle on the dispenser was built up with layers of hardened pink goo. I pulled forward the release lever and several inches of the soap shot out from the only hole it could escape from under such extreme pressure. Do you know where the soap dispenser was aimed at? Right at the crotch of Wayne’s pants. Wayne stood there in amazement looking down and then looking up at me, with anger building in his face. I remember Wayne chasing me through the halls, but can’t for the life of me remember him catching me. I know he didn’t hit me or anything like that. I don’t even know how we came to be friends.

Isn’t it strange the things our minds eliminate from memory and sometimes the stuff we do remember is baffling to say the least. Either way a week or two later, we were wandering through the halls, Wayne blasting Rainbow through his boom box he brashly brought to school. We’d receive annoyed and disgusted looks from upperclassmen, but Wayne didn’t care. He… we were cool. Our group consisted of the big, but lovable; Tram, the scrawny and goofy; Mash, the pliable and eager to please; me, and the thick eye browed and grinny; Wayne. Joining this group was like becoming a Mormon: I was accepted immediately, once I professed any type of interest and loyalty, but the stuff that was revealed, in bits and pieces at a time, disturbed me enough to question what I’d gotten myself into, yet I was in too deep to back out, and there was nowhere else for me to go. In my immaturity, I began to believe that the loyalty to these friends was more important than school. I believed that I had found more than my past friendships I made a St. Vincents, and in my own stupid way shunned them for this new acceptance. Tram was a good guy, he had lots of other friends and didn’t make our group exclusive. Mash; oh I really think I could have been good friends with Mash. For he was smart enough to know that this group wasn’t as all fired up important as I thought it was, and he wasn’t around as much as I. Neither was Tram for that matter. Well, it eventually became just Wayne and I.

Soon going over to Wayne’s house after school everyday became the norm. I learned how to cheat the bus system with different types of transfers, or stolen ones off of an unmanned bus, where the driver had taken a break to a convenience store in Wayne’s neighborhood, just so I could get home at night. Wayne’s mom was divorced and seemed to be always at work. So going over to his house was a sort of freedom. But there was always something niggling at the back of my neck. An uncomfortable feeling that I was not doing my school work, that I was neglecting my family, that nothing else seemed that important anymore. Wayne wasn’t putting a lot of pressure on me, I’d just follow him.

Looking back, as in former Strange Confessions, I’m embarrassed by my conduct, by the way I just did things, without thought for anyone else around me. It’s times like this, spent with Wayne, that I most wish for a time machine. To go back and slap myself, and say in a british accent, “Get on ye yargle! What d’ya think you’re doing with this gormless nutter!? You are better’n this. Go on back to school before I knock yer block off.” Ha! I’d do it in a british accent just to confuse myself. Wouldn’t that be funny to go back and give yourself a message in a different accent. I’d imagine a lot of mental gymnastics would be goings on at night,… well perhaps it’d be a bit too much.

Wayne didn’t command or order things to be done the way he wanted, he just expected them. I see now that he wanted to be a leader, but didn’t have the charisma or the surroundings to accomplish this at a high level, except that he had me. He was a bad boy, and I did bad and stupid things when I was with him. Which leads to my Strange Confession. Wayne had knitted this mask that looked like a KKK mask, except it was black and it was slit from the bottom up to the nose, so you could see the mouth. He’d put it on on the bus and squeal, and look around sharply, and pound on windows. Basically, the mask gave you to power to be an idiot. He’d have me do stuff with the mask on sometimes, like jump inside a store, squeal, look all around like some wild animal, then jump out again. Or, run after a bus that had just left it’s stop and pound on the windows, jumping up and down, probably freaking out the bus driver. His favorite was to pound on the greenhouse windows of some fancy garden center, then just stand there with your face and hands pressed against the windows if you caught someone’s eye, like we usually did. Wayne called this thing “The Masters”. Why? I don’t know.

I felt stupid doing these things, but Wayne thought it hilarious, and he gained such enjoyment from freaking out people himself. I wanted to make people laugh not think I was some sort of freak. But there I was. Doing whatever Wayne wanted to do. I was wasting money, wasting time, wasting my future, wasting my reputation. Throwing it all away for a bit of approval. We’d go over to Tram’s home and that was enjoyable. We never did that The Masters garbage when we were at Tram’s house, and his sister was so cute too. Wayne would make fun of me that I wouldn’t get Tram’s sister, and he would always be after her. I was shy, had no ambition of my own, and just a sad sack. Being a freshman at Judge was not all I had expected. I wanted to be friends with my old friends again, but by then the year was over. I had not made the grade and was kicked out.

After that year I never sought the approval of my peers, at least that I didn’t consciously think about. I’d make my own paths, find friends who liked me for me. Many times it is hard to have this attitude, especially with my personality. But, I did find others. I did see Wayne again a couple of times after this, once when my new friend at Brighton and I stole my mom’s car when she was in Italy, (but that is another story) and the other when I was taking out the garbage at work at the Pizza Oven Connection. Boy, I felt like a real winner then. All three of them are on Facebook and I don’t think I want to “friend” Wayne, but I’d sure like to talk to Mash and Tram. Maybe I’ll get up the courage to private message them.

New Series of Strange Confessions

I will be starting a new series of Strange Confessions dealing with best friends. Part of my idea behind Strange Confessions is to reveal myself more in the humorous and odd behavior I have and perhaps will always exhibit, and how that has made me into who I am now. This is a chance for me to have a lot more things to write about, as there is much odd behavior I have purported over the years with many different best friends I have had. I look forward to writing more. Thank you.

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