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Strange Confessions: The Spirit Arm

Back when I was in High School I would have to set my own alarm for the waking up in the morning on time bit. I didn’t have a parent who came in and pulled of the sheets or turned on the lights to make me get out of bed. Apparently they figured I was responsible enough to rouse myself, shower, break fast and make my own lunch. I became amazed at the amount of parents who still babied their babies well into their college years when I grew older and heard stories about all the coddling that goes on. I thought that I would have done well with some coddling every now and then, but then I think it was probably good for me.

One of the biggest fears I had was the alarm not going off in the morning. I try to remember a time of disaster that my have happened as a result of me not getting up, but as I rack my brain, it comes up empty. As usual. My concern became such a huge factor that I believed that I had some sort of trick or spirit arm that could maneuver in any way as long as it connected with my elbow. If I set the alarm and moved my hand away, the spirit arm could switch it off if I allowed it in the area for too long. It was quite the trickster of a spirit arm, was it not? If I didn’t move away fast enough the arm could ruin the entire day for me. I would lay there wondering if my arm got the alarm off. I would check if it was on. It was on. Then I would wonder again. Then check again. This would happen up to 8 times. It drove me crazy, my spirit arm. How did I have such responsibility, yet such a great ability to sabotage myself? Yet that is the question isn’t it? I am the greatest saboteur of myself.

I come back to wanting to publish more “Strange Confessions” but make it difficult to understand by my stream of thought speaking. Sorry about that. I will be doing this again, but maybe only occasionally as an audible. Some other new segments on Stranger In Rebellion will be introduced soon.

~Stranger

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Strange Confessions: The Performance Record of Choice

Strange Confessions: I am petrified that I am being forced into a position to make another wrong choice in my life, as well as the fact that I think it might be God working in me for another major transition ahead.

Since I’ve been a Christian there have been some decisions in my life regarding a major purchase or job change or how we raise our children that I attempted to listen to what God would want me to do, but ended up feeling the pressure of a deadline or dissatisfaction or I just plain didn’t have the patience to wait for a clear picture. So I found myself in many peculiar positions of getting what I thought I wanted, yet it turned out to somehow be a cosmic joke played on me with added strain added to reveal the impertinence of my actions. I won’t go into it all now, because A: I’m not sure if I’ve already told you about some of these situations I’ve put myself in, and number 2: the stories behind these decisions is not the point.

My point is that these last two sermons I have absorbed these past two weeks have revealed in me the perilous point I now find myself in. I did not write at all week last week because of a funk I’ve been under. Let me just say it outright: I’ve been selfishly depressed.

The Perspectives course I have been taking, which started out grand, has rusted the gears in my mind because of the view I hold of myself. Who am I, that I could possibly begin a journey that would lead myself and my family to a point of excitedly getting to experience a culture that would be both a challenge and a blessing, to share our lives with people outside of the framework of our own wearisome culture? That is my thoughts my friends. Yes, don’t start convincing me of the argument that God uses the weak and the foolish and the blind, for I know all that. It is my Performance Record that gets in the way.

Work has been the other great “sign” or “challenge” or “prompt” that has given me the idea that things are pushing me to another change. Yet is it just me being more and more dissatisfied with work that I want to leave or quit or even get fired just so I have an excuse that it really was God pushing me? I really do believe that the way things are going at work, things are going to quickly come to a head and a decision is going to have to be made about what are we going to do next. Then I look at my Performance Record, and I see that maybe things aren’t as light at the end of the tunnel as they seem.

My 16-year-old daughter has been driving more and more lately, and she is very unsettled in the way it is so difficult in planning for her to work some, earning extra money for the college degree she is planning on and we have outright told her there is nothing for her from us in that regard. I failed out of the high school all my family went to, lost the grant I had in college due to selfishly staring at my navel through the drug-induced haze pouring through my mouth, couldn’t do well enough at the community college to strive and push myself into the betterment of who I always thought I could be. Then I jump from job to job, not climbing any corporate ladder I always convinced myself wasn’t for me and find myself in a managerial/design position I knew was a home run, but is drowning in the excess of poor communication and a series of managers not close enough to delve into the whys and hows of the complexities I have tried to convince them of, but find that every issue I bring up is my fault and my problem to handle, because after all, didn’t I take a class for that? I want to provide to my children the means to succeed if not the funds, but it seems that the mists of my poor Performance Record is finally catching up with me, and is convincing me that it is too late to do anything about it.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the sermon recently had something to do with a performance record of sorts. We have gotten into a series on Galatians, and last week was about the “Reversed” gospel. There were people going to the territory of Galatia convincing the new Christians that there were things they had to do to earn God’s favor. There were 4 points or acid tests that summed up the focus of the sermon, things that we had to take and see if they were true in our lives, to see if we were following a “reversed” gospel:

  1. Fear of man: Who am I trying to impress? Where do I gain my approval, acceptance and security from?
  2. Internal Power: God called you. Are you forgetting that when God speaks, action follows? Whose power are you relying on?
  3. Illumination: Do you truly understand what the gospel is? Where are you gaining your understanding?
  4. Relationship: Are you delving deeper into a relationship with the one who saved you, or abandoning it because it is a duty to serve Him, and not a delight?

When he spoke about who I am trying to impress or gain approval, acceptance, security from, I thought I don’t care about what other people think about me… but that isn’t true. I either want people to know me better from reading what I write and approving of it or, I dismiss them altogether if there is any semblance of rejection. I realize that even as people gain what they need from other men, avoiding them so that you don’t have to face rejection is another way of saying you thirst for man’s approval and not God. Sometimes it is even the case when you feel superior and reject all others as dumb or uneducated or filthy, that you might not be giving people the opportunity to reject you, and thus, you respect the opinion of man… in a roundabout subconscious sort of way.

My Performance Record is terrible in this instance.

And thus, we come to it. Yesterday’s sermon also had 4 points. We looked at the question of how do we really know if we’ve been converted. The four points in this instance were:

  1. Performance Record: Are you concerned more with what you are doing than who you are?
  2. View of God: Are we putting our idea of who God is and putting against what we see in the Bible, or are we accepting the change of view in revelation of Him. If God is a god we have created in our hearts than that god cannot change who we fundamentally are. We will always struggle with our “mistakes” rather than our sins. Paul understood that God would never become a man, that God would never cease the sacrificial system. When Jesus came to Paul, he asked the question that held it all for him, “Who are you Lord?”
  3. Relationship with Christ: There is no try in Christianity, there is just be one. Our failures don’t make us who we are, our relationship with the one who declared, “it is FINISHED” makes us who we are, and we should start behaving like we believe it is done instead of always trying to please Him.
  4. Who gets the glory? Are you taking the credit for what God has done in your life? It is the man who understands the Weight of His Glory who has been converted.

Understanding the concept of the Performance Record really resonated with me.

Our entire society is based around the concept of what we’ve done, and we believe it is the same with God. God reveals our performance record in the sermon on the mount. Have we killed anyone? No. But have you hated or gossiped about someone? Have you committed adultery? No. But those who have looked upon a woman with lust has already committed adultery in his heart. And it is about our heart, right? Not our actions. All of us have sinned and there is that chasm that separates us from Him. I look at the performance record of my life and it is the failures that are glaringly obvious. It overshadows all. Light should light up the darkness, but the darkness of failure seeps in like an oily smoke, distorting the view of all the successes, the things that should be my focus. Oh, what a terrible, tortuous thing it is to compare ourselves with others. To see friends and family going past me, the weight of failure keeping my eyes downcast, only seeing the shadows that could have been. I need a Scrooge or a George Bailey moment to see the light… no, I need a God moment everyday. I need a wonderful wife moment, a beautiful children moment, an incredible fellowship group moment, a home with a roof moment. Woe to the weeds of life that are so tall and out-of-place that the eye is drawn there, and this change that is just over the horizon makes my sorrowful performance record give weight to all the doubt, fear, hatred, dismay, discouragement and failure that is the past.

LORD, take this weight from me. Work in my life and through your word and through your people to renew the hope I know is just under the surface, waiting to sprout again. Bring about the reminder of a life that is eternal with You right now. The weight of weariness I see in the world everyday is not reflecting your glory, it is the beauty life in your people who I need to reflect on. The thoughtfulness of my wife, the joy of my children, the concern of a friend. You are in them all, reflecting the things I need to see. I know this weight is a lie. You are the truth, You are the Way, You lead me to comfort and peace. I take over and lead to failure and sorrow and You stand apart, waiting for me to look up into Your face. I love You for showing this truth to me in the way You have given me. Thank You for Your Spirit, alive and living in me. Show me Your way, that I may walk with You, and be where You are, no matter where that is. Thank You God, Thank You!

I’m a Lover, Not a Fighter

Strange Confessions: I have never been in a fight, be it wrestling, pushing or fisticuffs with another human of the male persuasion that was not my brother or a best friend and I messing around. That is not to say I haven’t had the opportunity to take someone to the mattresses, I just chose some reason to get out of a mess myself or another has tried to get me into. Why fight, when you can love? Well, my experience in that area was sadly lacking as well. I mean, the Foreigner song, “I Want To Know What Love Is” made me weep in my little fourteen year face as I lay awake at night despairing of my lack of deeply emotional connections with the opposite sex. Teenagery really leaves a mark on you, in ways of thinking that everything else seemed so important. I look at the area of my life as a way to connect with these young rowdys nowadays: Connecting with the remembrances of the past helps us to bond with the future.

Anyways… back to the wars that could have been: The first time someone gave me the go ahead and try it nod, was when my best friend and I were wandering the tough streets of suburban Murray, Utah. Some young and most likely orphan toughs got in our path, challenging us with looks and upturned chin thrusts. I was giddy inside with nervous tension. We had run into these feral mongrels previously, but never equally teamed. Their threats were met swiftly and surely with a head-lock from my taller and more sure of himself best buddy, Greg. They ran off, pants sagging, ears severely boxed, crying for their mommies, who they had forgotten they lost in their moment of humiliation. Greg was the coolest. We were bestest for what seemed a time that would never end. I’m currently friends with Greg on that one site, but he never does anything on it. He has gone on to be one awesome adult: featured in Forbes and Business Weekly, making a mountain of moolah being the Vice President or Chief Financial Officer of one up-and-coming company or another, working his way up the ladder of incredible responsibility that I so sorely missed because I acted slowly. I decided to hide behind this future financial guru when the ruffians attacked, which was probably my loss. Oh well, no regrets. I have my wife, my daughters, and a forever future no one can take away.

Second time I was challenged was when I was a Freshman at Judge Memorial Catholic High School. Ah yes, I see your confusion. There would never be a challenge that would result in a fight at a Catholic High School. But, I am here to set you straight. Conflict and yes, sometimes fights would happen in Catholic schools almost as much as in those, gasp, public schools. Nuns and priests were scary, but they were not omnipresent. They couldn’t slap your hands with rulers and/or pointers when you were getting out of line all the time, and I was challenged with nary a religious authority figure in sight on this ominous day. It was a dude named Tom. Tom was someone I went to St. Vincent’s with and he was okay back in those times although he did have a pasty white complexion, light grey eyes, the lightest, thinnest blonde hair you ever did see on a boy, which had the craziest cow-lick in the class. Now, Tom may have been made fun of a bit in St. Vincent’s but I never did commence the teasing, but I may have stood in the background thinking it was a bit funny, grinning my stupid little grin, being happy it wasn’t me. Tom may have been a bit of a rival for my best friends regards, so I stood with those who took the opportunity to harass him. As a young lad, I never defended the tormented for I was a scrawny one, but my participation in said tormentation of Tom brings me a shame that I wish I could go back and fix. As high school began, I had to show myself as one who could fit in, and humor was my option of choice to promote the coolness that I knew was inside me. On the back steps outside of the Freshman hall I saw Tom as an available point of mockery. Easy, yes, but what a little snit I was. Not recalling my words, which really were hesitant because of the unsurety of myself since hiding behind future financial man, I just tried to show myself as someone clever. Tom challenged me: several times, to a battle of hands and face. I laughed and joked it off. Cowardly little weasel I was, and not even giving it up for love. Good thing I failed out of Judge, just to avoid any further humiliation at the hands of myself. But, as you know I give myself plenty of chances for self-humiliation.

Hiding. Laughing it off. Those were the tools of my avoidance. I used them well.

As I entered into the world of my pre-adultness that was retail, new challenges awaited me. Around this time I had several people tell me that they hated me when they first met me, but then they got to know me, and then they finally saw the real me, and liked it. I believe that may be the case now, only that is something you don’t tell people when you are a real adult. You either avoid or you force yourself to pretend you like. They pretend to like you so long that they forget that they should be trying to know you, and relationships get stagnant. In the retail world I may have run into one of my most famous potential enemies. He was from Brazil. He didn’t speak English goodly. He worked in my same department. We didn’t talk, but the time we did he was very aggressive, angry even. I didn’t understand him, but could read human nature well enough to see I didn’t agree with his vision of what I was supposed to be. Eventually I got out of him that he didn’t like me and wanted to beat me up. I couldn’t understand why and tried to get it out of him. He wouldn’t work it out. He told me there was no chance for us to resolve whatever it was that made me rub him wrong. I said I wasn’t going to fight him. He gave me an angry look and stalked off. I was genuinely frightened. What was wrong with me? How did I spark such anger in our foreign friend? Most of all, how was I going to get out of someone messing up my dapper aspect? I don’t know how I got out of this, but this fine Brazilian gentleman disappeared like mist. Was it all a dream? My face was safe once again.

There was this show my wife watched that I hated: Judging Amy. I would be sitting with her while she viewed the stories. I caught on that the relationships the people in this program were so utterly complicated it hurt to listen. I complained to her about that it wasn’t real. People wouldn’t hold on to something that was almost always so impossible to work through. I understand that these complications were a week to week sort of deal, and it may have kept the viewers hooked. It was tiring slogging through these weekly gorgefests of saturated difficulties among humans. I think I may have wanted to watch an hour of dogs barking at each other than watch this regularly. Thankfully my wife and my relationship is easy… well, not easy, just not full of drama, like the show. One show I do remember, was this one dude’s wife was going to pottery classes, where sexy French-man was the instructor, and he was making the moves on wife. Arguments ensued between husband and wife regarding his banality and lack of passion when it came to fighting for their relationship. Wife soon agreed to sexy French-man’s offer of private pottery perusing to perfection. Husband discovers said encounters and storms Frenchy’s apartment door, pounding furiously, determinedly and surely. Husband’s clenched fist greets sexy French face as door runs agape. Wife’s eyes glitter amorously at husband’s new found ferocity for feeling the force of his love for wife. Ah! Relationship difficulty cured by angry husband’s closed fist. Husband and wife: a thing worth fighting for.

For a while I wondered if my wife wondered about my lack of forcefulness when it came to fist meeting face. But, I hope she knows that I would give it my all in defending what we have; even if it came to me wrestling aggressor to the ground and sitting on threat until “Uncle” was cried.

~Stranger

Strange Confessions: Shoes to Impress!

Strange Confessions: In High School I desperately wanted a pair of slip on checkerboard Vans shoes. But we could only afford the cheap knock-offs, and the one day I wore them to class, these “cool” rocker dudes caught the fakes and laughed at me. I never wore them to school again.

I went to private school all my life and never really had the chance to wear anything of my choice. That is, until I failed out of Judge Memorial and ended up going to Brighton. So, in 1984 I was able to show off my own personal style. I was a rocker, but didn’t go for the concert t-shirts and ripped jeans look.  I didn’t grow long hair, because it always just grew straight out. But, what I did have, was the standard issue stoner Mexican Baja jacket, and I did play Hacky Sack at the end of the hall during lunch and classes I was skipping.

I wasn’t much of a trend setter nor did I follow trends too strictly, but I knew what I was and where I fit in on the social scale. I wore what was comfortable and did things I found enjoyable. The one thing that I did want, that most rockers had at the time, were a pair of black and white, checkerboard, slip on, Vans sneakers. This was right before the resurgence of skate-boarder cultural phenomenon known as “The Straight Edge” movement. Oh, you say you don’t know what The Straight Edge movement was? Well, let me tell you. The Straight Edge movement was an identity that listened to the re-emerging SKA music, didn’t do drugs or alcohol, had a skate board hanging from their hand, and wore Vans slip ons. “Why is this important?” you may ask. Well, this site is not only designed to expose myself and my many foibles, share the gospel of Christ, help me be a better writer/communicator, but, as well as to educate people on a culture that may slowly be forgotten. These are just side notes, things that make you say, “Hey! I remember that. I’ll write this doofus and share my memories of that era.”

Anyway, I begged my Mom for a pair of these. I suppose I used all sorts of tactics that said I’d die without them, or everyone else is wearing them. Like I said, I didn’t generally go for the trends, but somehow, this was different. These were cool! Well, she got me a pair, but they weren’t Vans. They didn’t have that little skateboard at the back that said, “Off the Wall.” The label on the back probably said something like “Keds” or “PayLess” or “Loser”. Whatever it said, it was wrong. And I didn’t know this until later, I just liked the look of the shoe. Somebody had to have educated me on the proper way Vans looked, because I still remember my “walk of shame.”

I was sitting in the back row of class and I had to go up to the front for some reason. I had to walk between these two rocker dudes that I held to some high esteem. I forget more of how a teenagers mind works every day. Why did these dudes opinion of my shoes matter a bit to me? I don’t know, it just did. I walked forward and knew these guys had caught sight of my kicks earlier, for they were leaning into the aisle, waiting for me to pass, so they could verify whether these were authentic or not. I felt like spinning around as they passed and walking backward the rest of the way. As I passed, I could feel the evaluation going on behind my back. Then I heard the snickers and guffaws shooting out whisperingly like silenced gunshots, aiming at my weakened ego; killing me with humiliation.

That was the last day I wore them to school.

Today at church, the pastor asked us if we ever really so wanted to impress someone who we went to ridiculous lengths to do so, and this story came to mind. We were in Romans 16 and the sermon was about what do we want our pastor to say about us to others. What would he say? And does all this focus on our Lord, Jesus Christ? I would like people to think well of me, but the most important person whose opinion matters, is that of Christ. Not that any of our works makes a bit of difference in our salvation, but that we look forward to that day, when we stand before Christ eagerly wanting to hear those words, “Well done.” Who are we looking to impress? Is everything that we do centered around Christ? This has sparked in my mind my attitude at work. Everyday I walk in, thinking it’s all about me. This needs to change to “It’s all about Christ.” Obviously, I know this and have known this for quite some time, it’s just that we need reminding, over and over again. And remembering stories about how we tried to impress people, only to look the fool, reminds me that God will never consider us the fool, laugh at us, or mock us for our failings. His yoke is easy and light. The burdens we place on ourselves for others and so much even for Christ will only make us grow weary. His strength will revive us, He will go forward with us in the work of His kingdom. I will praise Him forever.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

~Stranger

Strange Confessions: My Friend: The Satanist… The Facebook Strumpet

Strange Confessions: My best friend from High School is a Facebook Strumpet.

I use the word strumpet because it sounds a little more delicate than the word I really want to use, and, in keeping with the General audience material I’d like to maintain with this blog, we’re going with the cutesy. Please don’t look up the word if you don’t know it, perhaps my description will lead you to the idea I have of what a “Facebook Strumpet” actually might be. And who knows? Perhaps “strumpet” is quite a bit more derogatory, more racy, than the other term I had in mind. I have also decided not to post these thoughts congruently on my Facebook blog of the same name, which I often do, for I will be going into various other Facebook behaviors that drive me completely “antelope boffin” and thus may offend many of the “friends” I have on Facebook. I use the phrase “antelope boffin” because I could have used many other terms for the word “insane”, and in keeping with the creativity of this blog, and the General audience material I’d like to maintain, I did not use the term I wanted to, describing a flying rodent mammal and stuff that may come from it; granted the stuff the term describes has many good uses, the phrase itself could be deemed offensive to some. Anyway, “antelope boffin” is so cute and creative, I had to use it. You may also notice that I am using the actual name of the site, “Facebook”, as my usual moniker for it is: “that one site”. The reason I use the phrase “that one site” is because I hate saying “Facebook” in normal conversations or essays or any other way we use it, because it has invaded our culture so much so we can’t relate to each other without using it or saying you saw something on it or referring a friend to look at something on it, or whatever the gronk you want to say on it. I use the word “gronk” in the last sentence because I didn’t want to say the word I really wanted to there because I want to… Oh, never mind. You get the point. This is an entry dealing specifically with Facebook, so I’m going to say it. There. Facebook. I said it. In your face! Oops. Sorry, I hope I didn’t offend you by saying, “In your face!” I suppose I could go back and delete it, but it’s too far back now. I better just let it hang there and hope you didn’t notice the exclamation point I used, which could be considered offensive by some.

Facebook drives me antelope boffin in many ways. There are the people who are always wishing their kids “Happy Birthday” as a status. Saying things like, “Twelve years ago today I said, ‘hello’ to my little Roy. It was such a joy to see you come into the world, and boff all over us from the get-go. We’ll never forget.” Or a spouse saying on their status, “You said ‘I do’ when I came down the aisle twenty-four years ago, but the most memorable part, is that you are still here, even through all the boffing.” Or someone saying this, “Seven years ago today my dad went to a better place, even though I miss him I still get along without him.” Now, I am really not saying any of this is wrong per se… but what did we do before this? Before this Facebook status fulfillment of wishes and exposés of memorable moments? Has it all come down to some sappy Apple commercial, where we’re all typing love notes and good wishes and sorrowful sentiments while were sitting right next to the person? Is that what we did before? Did we turn to the table next to us at the restaurant and say to someone we might know, “I just want to wish my husband a happy anniversary,” as they look at us with confusion, then awkwardly say, “Ummm…. Congratulations.?” As our actual husbands, sitting next to us, asks the waiter to send a telegram to two-hundred and thirty of our best acquaintances about how awesome the steak and shrimp looks on our third anniversary. “Oh, and do you have a camera that will make this food look all old and weird? That’d be so boss!” says he. These are just some of the things I ponder as I look at Facebook. How did we get people to wish us a happy birthday. Well, the only people to wish us or our kids a happy birthday before Facebook, were those that actually cared. Holy crumpets! What a concept! People who really, actually cared just remembered or asked when your birthday was, then sent a card or brought over beers and celebrated just with you? Well nowadays, saying Happy Birthday on Facebook just about covers it. Hey, hey! I am not the kind who remembers or cares, I may be just as bad as a non-rememberer was back in the eighties. My nieces and nephews get no cards from me. Do I feel bad? Gronk! Yes I do! But I would feel worse if I didn’t get them anything and then thought that I could cover it because their mother just wished them Happy Birthday on Facebook, so I can get a comment in saying, “Oh, tell them Happy Birthday from Uncle Jerkface!”

Aaaanyyyywaaay… had to just be said. Now back to my best friend…

I am quite ashamed of my former best friends behavior now, because the way he is, is not the worldview we had as younger people. We were independent thinkers, who thought alike,… sometimes. What we did think alike about was that we could have cared less about what people thought about who we were or what we were doing. One of the things that I did that impressed (I believe I called him RT in former Strange Confessions) RT into thinking that we could become friends, was that when riding the bus home from school I would sing along to a certain song very loudly with headphones on, especially the screaming parts.

I would see the popular girls glare at me and it was hilarious. Other kids would look on in surprise that I was so brash, so stupid… Maybe they just admired my gall. I just thought it was funny. I tend to think obnoxious things are funny, if for short, brazen periods. I’d look around to see the reactions of other students and RT would be grinning at me knowingly, nodding his head in the way he probably still does. We rode together all the time after that and became good friends. Bonding in our disgust of the way most everyone else was: snotty, prudish, cocky. We made friends with some others who were shy or totally outside the normal realm of High School cliché. We had our own little island of misfit toys.

So this is the behavior he engages in on Facebook now: He changes his profile picture multiple times a week seemingly to gain likes and comments on a certain look he is going for. When we were growing up, RT showed signs of premature balding, while I, had the thickest mass of the most beautiful black locks you could imagine. I suppose a more insecure person could get jealous of my gorgeous hair, but not RT, he was as secure as they come. Well now he shaves his head completely, and when I last saw him or talked to him, he said that people say he looks like Anton LaVey, a man RT admires. For you see, RT has become a Satanist. When I found out he was one I looked up what that meant. In most cases it doesn’t mean they wear robes, walk through dark forests, and kill things in honor of satan… at least in RT’s case it doesn’t. But he comes from the understanding that there is no God and no satan, it’s just you. You are the focus of your life, if anyone gets in your way, destroy them. I don’t think, in most cases, that means kill, but perhaps it just means ruin them, get them out of your life, make them not matter in anything you do or are. I’ve seen him comment to others, “Hail self!” He talks about being on the throne and worshipping self. That is what he has done. He has made a shrine to himself on Facebook, and at the same time sells himself to it and to others. People “like” the pictures he posts of himself. They call him a “bada**”. They say he looks so awesome. They can’t get over how “baaaad” he looks. RT sucks it all in and spouts it back out. He says, “Yeah, I’m a bada**… I’ll kick your a**… I’m a Satanist…” all this stuff, just off his pictures. I mean seriously? Is this my friend I had all those years ago? A photo comment fisher? A like stalker? Only has people around that agrees with him? Of course he can’t stand it if you disagree with him. When we were younger it was a joke to me, to get him mad at me and I thought it was so funny to see his jaw working, tensing up, clenching, because I said something he disagrees with. Now he’s gotten rid of all those who disagree. I believe I am only friends with him on Facebook because of our past. I really don’t know why I keep him as a friend. It’s so disagreeable to see his posts. I can’t believe he has become… a Facebook Strumpet.

Anton LaVey: If he was still around, he'd be a Facebook Strumpet too.

Anton LaVey: If he was still around, he’d be a Facebook Strumpet too.

“What a world, what a world!” I cry out as I am dashed with a dose of technical reality, and it burns, and it burns as I shrink, green steam shooting out of my eyeballs.

This is in no way to say that I don’t desire people to notice me on Facebook, for it is nice to be noticed, is it not? I would say that I am still friends with RT because I love him. And God loves him. And I may be the only Christian that he knows, even though we don’t interact much anymore. But he just wants what we all want: a little love, a little attention, a little credit.

~Stranger

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!

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~Stranger

Strange Confessions: An Open Call to Know You Better

Strange Confessions: I use to sleep over at a girl’s apartment when I was growing up.

I was around 4 years old, and my best friend was a girl named Heidi. She had lived in our neighborhood and moved to an apartment complex a few miles away. I remember a picture of me sitting in the dirt with Heidi nearby. I missed her greatly and asked if I could visit. Our parents, I think her parents were divorced, which may explain the move and apartment and not remembering her dad, allowed me to stay overnight. If I think hard enough I can picture her small room, and her getting ready for bed behind her closet door. This, in fact, may be my earliest memory. It was all innocent and I don’t think it happened often, but, as childhood friends occasionally do, we grew apart.

Eventually I forgot about her. Apparently my mom was still friends with her mom. When I was in Junior High, my mom came home with a picture of Heidi. I was a lonely kid looking for love, as much as a young boy my age can look, always seeking the things I didn’t have, much like I am today. Today I dwell on friends lost and people who are seemingly always together with great relationships, rather than what I have. Hey, I am working on it. This picture I got of Heidi was beautiful. She had long brown hair, and a cute little smile with teeth covered by braces. I kept this photo underneath my mattress, pulling it out to gaze over my future wife. I had this secret dream that I would someday meet her again and we would fall in love and people would be amazed that I could keep such a wonderful secret from the world of a beautiful treasure. I hid this because I knew my brother would make fun of me if he found out. No one at my school knew of her either.

The photo is long gone, as most childhood dreams for me seem to go; faded by a rebellious teen experiencing his parents broken marriage, failing out of school, and finding things that would take his memory off of his life.

I am reminded by this story by a recent discussion I had with a mother of one of my daughter’s friends. This mother is young, perhaps, some would say, too young to have a daughter her age. She is also single. According to the mother, she had talked to the parents of some of her daughter’s friends. She wanted to take some kids to an amusement park a few hours away, and have a sleep over the previous night so they could get going. One of the moms told her that since she is a Christian, she doesn’t want her daughter in their house or spending that inordinate amount of time with her. As she was telling me this, she was obviously upset, in the snarky kind of way she can be. She said that this mother could have just told her that she doesn’t want her daughter to sleep over since she doesn’t know that well. I told her that, as a Christian, I apologize and understand that we, as a people, could suffer with a bit more tact.

It also has reminded me of my relationship with a recently discovered old friend. He is an atheist. He has said some things on, that one site, that has made me think his hostility towards Christians was increasing. Yet he asked me the other day on a matter of the Bible. I was encouraged by him, discovered more about who his friends may be, and enjoyed finding out some things about what he had asked me. Some of the things another “theist” as he calls them, had some very far out ideas about what he asked about. I told him that we all have some fairly crazy ideas, yet the point is for me to delve deeper into why they have come to these conclusions, and in that way become more knowledgeable about each other and open in our discussions with each other. We may meet up with people we don’t like very much or come into a heated argument, but what is the point of relationships if we can’t find out more about each other. I have another friend, on that one site, who was my best friend in high school, who is openly hostile towards people of any religion. I suspect he hasn’t come across very many Christians who’ve displayed the type of love, mercy, understanding and compassion that we are called to display. I suppose that most people’s experiences with “Christians” have been negative.

We, like those of the world, would much prefer to stay with each other, with those of like mind. We surround ourselves with people who agree with us, so it isn’t hard. Yes, yes, I agree there are exceptions, but I believe these are the perceptions we have of each other. I would like to have broad sweeping discussions about what I believe, you believe, how we came to these conclusions, but there is a barrier there. And it goes both ways. As Christians we see a tolerance towards all religions, except ours. As humanistic/atheistic people you’re sick and tired of the judgmental ways we tell you you should be, or your perception of us forcing it upon you. I believe we can agree that we all want our world to meet the visions we have for it. Can we talk? I mean seriously, can we talk? One old friend who I had on that one site once posted, “I hate closed minded people.” It was obvious from some of the other things she was saying, was that she was against most of what I believe, political and spiritual. I found that viewpoint very closed minded in itself. Why, why why? I want to talk to you. Perhaps not publicly, maybe privately, because the masses will choose sides and then it will eventually come apart. Then division will grow. I want to know you more. Open it up.

Like the memories of Heidi, I hope to hold memories of you all as positive. I want to be there for you, if there is a chance for that. My writings are about practice, but more to the point, it’s about you knowing me. Can I have that opportunity from you?

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.

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