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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.



My Life, My Testimony: Part 2

Matthew 9:36 “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”

Being a sheep can be very wearisome. And, in the second half of my youth I had discovered new ways to stray as far as I could from my future, true shepherd. I had found many wolves to follow, to be a part of, to give my life over to. I had no purpose, no path lit up guiding me, showing me the way. My parents never forced me to finish anything. I failed at school, sports, music. Whatever was attempted was never important enough to see through. So those things never became important, never became purpose. Yet because of what I learned growing up Catholic, I knew there was a God. Perhaps He wasn’t impressed by the ceremony of Mass. Maybe, He wanted us to find out for ourselves the way we should go. I had heard many things about how drugs opened up parts of our mind we never even use. This was the way for me to go, to figure out a prime purpose. I had always believed myself to be destined for some amazing purpose. I had narrowed them down to two choices: to be abducted by aliens, or be in prison my whole life. Some picks, eh? But, drugs offered me so much more.

I started in with the cool kid in elementary school: smoking weed before baseball practice in 6th grade. Moving on to hanging out at the mall, carrying paraphernalia, getting busted. High school was well met with more divergent groups, leading me further astray from school, from family, from what was decent and right of my moral learning in the private schools I’d attended. They were all seeking some way to escape from lameness or to be badder or it was just who they were. I was seeking a purpose, seeking solutions, trying to expand my knowledge, in very many ways to escape from what I saw as a hopeless life leading to abduction, imprisonment, death, or worse: priesthood.

Failing out of Judge Memorial High was a conundrum of the highest proportions. I had failed where everyone else in my immediate and extended family had succeeded. The connection with this Catholicism was broken. My God was gone from me. He no longer had this hold on me that kept the slightest check on my behavior. Yet, where was He, why had He allowed myself to go this deep, this far away from Him? Maybe I needed it. My parents were definitely upset, but it didn’t seem as earth shattering as I thought it was supposed to be. It was some sort of release. I had more freedom. To go where no one else in my family had gone: public school. (I believe part of my parents attitude was relief: JMCH was expensive, and sending four children there was quite a drain on their meager finances.)

I began at Brighton High School meeting a friend from St. Vincent: Kenneth F. He was a slight outsider at St. Vincent; people thought he was dirty and shaggy. He was called the Bushman. I don’t know why he left, I liked him, but forgot about him when he was gone. He only went to school there to about the 6th grade. It’s strange how people disappear in our lives. I didn’t think about him for years, and now here he was, needing a friend as much as I did. The experiment in expanding understanding continued in new and unusual ways. This was soon a part of who I was, my identity. We’d get high before, during and after school. His mother had rented a room to someone who turned out to be a drug dealer. We’d break into his room and steal stuff. He’d have weed and mushrooms. Getting high and staying high was my main goal this year, this single year I had with Kenneth. It was marked with drinking, with wandering the neighborhood at night, with climbing the nearby mountains in the frozeness of night, but we didn’t care. We had no feeling. We were getting rid of feeling. No discussions, no learning, no building, or growing occurred this year. All memories fade from this time. It was all a frenzy of acquiring and consuming. Then Kenneth moved to Maine.

In this time I soon started perfecting the art of my depression. All depression is, is the art of self gratifying inwardness. At least it was for me. With Kenneth gone and not much drugs to be had, all I had, was myself. I had no God. He had deserted me. I went from full awareness of filling my time with a friend in need of me as much as I was of him, and the drugs and alcohol that kept us laughing, ignoring what I sought through the beginnings of drugs, to complete awareness of what a failure and how lost I truly was. My time in high school continued, with a friend here or there that provided me what I needed, never continuing the pursuit of meaning, of purpose. I got drugs or alcohol from them or my brother. My brother saw what was going on inside me, at least I think he might have gotten a glimpse, but he had his own life to lead.

Going to Utah State University, entering into the Forestry department, didn’t help matters much. When I was in high school, the mountains were my true escape. I would go up there with the intention of getting high, then feeling all paranoid and getting depressed, I’d go home and seek solace with food. It was the times that I went hiking, without any drugs, that I truly felt something fit, that I belonged there. I filed it away in the lock-box of my selfish brain, not really knowing what to do with it. What could I do with it? What purpose did it fulfill? Besides solitude, it gave me some exercise, some challenge. But, to fulfill what? It wasn’t until the college choices came up that I thought, I like hiking, I like the mountains. Maybe Forestry is what I ought to get into. Besides, USU was some distance from Salt Lake City, but not too far. So, I went. Deeper in to self I dived. I needed people, yet no one needed me. I was disillusioned by the Forestry department, I was depressed and isolated in the dorms. I went to the place where I could find people: the Fraternity my brother was a part of. It was a brotherhood, right? So, I did what I knew. I took drugs when I could find them, drank whenever it was offered and isolated myself in my room. Here all sense of purpose was gone. My main focus was finding something to eat, someplace to sleep, and get away from all the failure in my mind that I knew this was headed toward.

No part of this University experience was right. It was the wrong time, the wrong place, the wrong people, the wrong me. College was not a gateway to a brighter future for me. It was a confused place of darkness and mockery. Where people pretended like they cared, then they left you lost, alone, depressed, directionless.

From the 6th grade to a few years after losing my grant at Utah State University, I was so deeply involved in who I was, I had forgotten there was a world outside. Year after year grew more wearisome then the past one. My mind was scattered and I needed guidance. I needed purpose. I needed God in my life. And this is where Part 3 will take up. Hope comes home at last.

Luke 15:4-7 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lay sit on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”


Strange Confessions: Sometimes Guilt Is The Best Punishment

Strange Confessions: I once cheated on a test, got caught, forged my Mom’s signature, and lied to a nun about the whole dern thing.

At St. Vincent de Paul school in Holiday, Utah, I had one of the scariest nuns as a teacher for two separate years. Her name was Sister Annunciata, and I had her for my second and fifth grade years. I looked on the internet for any sign of what may have happened to all those nuns who use to teach there and couldn’t really find anything. The only thing I could find was this small article on the St Vincent de Paul school website about it’s history. There are some other interesting articles on nuns in Utah here, and here. The school even has a facebook page you could check out.

I am fascinated by the life of a nun. As a boy they were a mystery to me. Sure I saw them every day as they taught us, corrected us, led us to meals, to services, to other classes. I never saw that they really cared for us, about what we would do, or what kind people we would be. But where did they live? What did they do after classes? Did they go shopping? Did they go to movies? Did they go swimming or hiking or skating? Did they ever take off those robes? To shower? Did they have to go to the bathroom? It wasn’t until the later years at school when we went to some sort of service or prayer meeting in the nunnery that I saw where they lived, sort of. The nunnery was east of the school, hidden, from the parking lot behind many trees and a wall. At the east exit of the upper grades you could see their building, their house, but you never went up there; it was like sacred ground. We never talked about what it was, it was just always there. Strange to think about it now, how we give… distance to those places. I mean, it was never like the first day of school they would stand before us and announce not to venture into that area east of the school; we just… didn’t. They would take us over to this sanctuary that was small, dark and gloomy. We would sit in silence, in awe of this strange new place. We didn’t go over there often, in fact it, if I remember correctly we only went over there two or three times. Why? I don’t know. To introduce us to their place? Perhaps. Whatever it was, it just made me more suspect to their lives. They woke up and went into this gloomy place to pray or whatever. How odd.

Years later, as an adult, I saw them at a Catholic gatherings, and they would remember me and my name. Incredible! I developed the idea that this was a nuns super-powers. They took some oath when they became a nun and inherited a power from God: the power to remember everyone they have ever met.

But now they are all gone. That way of life is disappearing. Does it make me sad? A little. For I don’t really agree with it, but there is little in this life that reflects such dedication, such devotion to ones beliefs as saying, “I give everything to you, my God.” That is what we need to say as Christians, that we give our all to God. To a Catholic nun or priest it is so strong, so symbolic to wear the vestments of their office day in and day out, their lives are laid out bare for all to see. Yes they make mistakes just like we all do, and like many who try to uphold some sense of rightness in this world, when they fall, they are held up to be mocked, jeered at, that no one can be as right as what they try to be.

They are human. Just like us all. This time of confession reminds me how they did care, and how they tried to make us see, or choose what is right. And I failed. But in the ways of God there was learning to be had, and He taught me a great lesson then.

I was in the fifth grade, the second time under the tutelage of Sister Annunciata. There was a test we were going to have after recess. Several of us were grouped around under the basketball hoops, copying letters and numbers. Somehow we had received the answers to a multiple choice history test. We were all amazed, and talked about not getting all the answers right, keeping all this quiet. There wasn’t many questions, and with all the talk I memorized all the answers, but I still held on to my cheat sheet as we went our way cheerfully back to class, secure in the fact that one more test would be done, but with great success.

As I sat in class, cheat sheet under my right thigh, I wondered about what this all means. I never had done this before; had all the answers to a test, hidden, ready to be pulled out and utilized for a grade I may or may not have been prepared for. I had all the answers memorized, but for some reason I started sneaking a peek, because this is what you do when you cheat, right? Sneaking another peek, I heard the teacher call my name. My heart began racing, I was a tight ball of panic. What was I doing? Cheating on a test that I already knew all the answers. Oh my goodness! No fair! Everyone’s cheating! And here I am getting caught! “What is that you are looking at?” Sister Annunciata asks suspiciously. “I don’t know,” I reply stupidly. She has me pull it out and hand it to her. I put on my best “how did that get there” face, and wait for the hammer to fall. She had me come up to her desk and stand in front of it while she wrote a note to my parents explaining what I had done. Cheating on a test! Arrghh! How could this have happened to me? She told me to take the note home and have one of my parents sign it.

I took the note home in despair. I couldn’t let my parents see this. This was me: the boy who didn’t stir up controversy or issues of any kind. I drifted along, not wanting any attention unless it came from me intentionally making a fool of myself, which I did as often as I could. But this was different. Everyone should be blamed. This wasn’t my fault, so I was going to figure a way to keep my reputation clean. So I forged my Mom’s signature. I agonized over this for hours. Somehow I had her signature and was trying to copy it. Finally, I was ready to forge ahead. I had the curves, the stops, the skips and the beats down. This was my Mother’s signature.

Before the end of the next day, Sister Annunciata called me to her desk to ask for the signed note. I handed it to her and she opened it to examine the veracity of the impressions marked upon. “Is this your Mother’s signature?” she asked. I looked, deep into her eyes and bluntly lied, “Yes.” “It is?” she inquired a second time. “Yes,” I degraded myself a second time.

“Well I am going to call your parents during the break to talk to them about this, okay?”

“Okay.” I said, with not a quiver, a choke, a break, or a squeal in my throat.

This was the last day before Thanksgiving break, and now it was to be the worst vacation ever. My parents would find me out. My sin would be exposed to the family in the most shameful display of modern turkey consumption gatherings ever. I don’t remember much about that week except fear. Fear for the phone to ring. Fear for my Mom to come to me with that sad, disappointed look in her eyes, and the conversation that would ensue. Fear that I would be found out as a fraud I always knew I was. I must not have tasted the turkey, smelled the stuffing, felt the spoon shock of slapping down a mound of mashed potatoes. The whole four days was pure torture.

The weekend came and went. I had punished myself beyond what any mere mortal could handle. I came to school on Monday with no mention of the previous weeks activities. It was forgotten by all but me. There was a reprieve to be had. I was released. I had suffered and was let go. It was if it had never been. Thank God, I would never cheat again. I learned my lesson. Don’t use notes. If there is no evidence there is no guilt. No, I really did suffer a punishment and I didn’t cheat again; for I did much worse later in my life. This may very well have been the gateway to the next years failing classes, which led to illicit use of things, which led to a careless attitude of any type of grade. It was all intertwined really. I examine my life to see if there is the pinpoint I can say, “There! There is where it all fell apart.” But to no avail. We can all look at things this way, but what we need to look at where do the things go right? Sister Annunciata knew very well what she was doing by ruining my usually joyful weekend that year, and somehow in many ways, I am the better man for it. Thank you Sister Annunciata, wherever you may roam today for punishing me in such a way that I would live in even more awe of these enigmas called nuns for the rest of my life. And thank you God for helping me remember this time, to remember that those instances were not the end of everything, but only temporary, and we can suffer much at the hands of ourselves as long as we learn something from it.

I confessed this incident to my Mom years later, when I had kids of my own. You know what she said? “Oh I knew all about that.” Really, Mom? You knew all about it? I still don’t know if I believe her, or if she was just saying this to keep up the façade that as a parent she knew all, even when we thought she didn’t. She is a strong woman and I love her dearly for bringing me through the tribulation of Junior High and High School and beyond, on her own for many of those years. I will never forget the sacrifice she made for us. In fact, I think I’ll call her tonight and tell her this story all over again to see what she says this time.


Strange Confessions: In Which I Remember What a Jerk a Nice Little Boy Like Me Could Sometimes Be

Strange Confessions: I once sneered at a girl and said, “No!” in a disgusted way, when asked if we could roller skate together on a girl’s choice skate.

Our class at St. Vincent, (my elementary school), would have skate nights at “Wheels” once every month or so on Friday nights. (Bonus points for those who remember the splendiforous Wheels: local roller rink/eatery/arcade, it was an old supermarket, right next to the Villa Theater on Highland Drive. Wheels is long gone now, it’s some mini-strip mall thing, as all good things seem to go. Even the Villa is no more. Last I saw it was a middle-eastern rug gallery.) Our class at St. Vincent, at least how I saw, always got along with each other. Take me for instance: I was not a sports guy, a rich kid, a dungeons and dragons player, or a smart kid. Yet, I got along with all those types there. I absolutely loved going to St. Vincent’s, specifically for the memories of these friendships, now long gone as well. If I had a choice to go to a high school or elementary school reunion, I’d definitely want to see how all my elementary friends got on.

Yet, this memory has started to show cracks in my rose colored memory vision glasses, as I have researched this girl and had discussions about it with my wife. First of all, as this memory comes into my head once in a while, I cringe at my actions and lack of empathy. I wonder about how this affected this girl later on in life. I’m just sure she wakes up in the middle of the night from the nightmare she has all the time, about the cold-hearted boy that ruined her life from that point on. Or, maybe, I think too much of myself and the influence a moment I had with her that probably meant nothing. And yet, I still have these guilty feelings.

Anyway, this girl, let’s call her Tammy, she had tight, curly, short hair over a large forehead, buck teeth and was a slight bit overweight. She was quiet but smiled a lot. My memories of St. Vincent may have been great, being a boy and feeling included, but I never saw the girls side of things. I have seen how cruel girls can be to each other, especially in grade school. Maybe her smile was covering up the pain she felt because she was ill-treated or ignored by the other girls. It’s a terrible thing to think that she, just wanting to be accepted for once, asked the “nice” guy who was friends with everyone, only to be rejected once again. It seriously causes me pain to think about.

Then, I wonder about where she is now. If maybe this jerk (me) came out of the past and asked her to forgive him for that moment. Would she remember, appreciate the effort, or laugh at the idea that it meant anything to her now? So, I looked her up. Yes, I remember her name, how could I forget. I found out she was adopted. Her birth parents marriage was interracial and the mother’s parents never liked them being together, and after Tammy’s birth the parents got a divorce and gave her up for adoption. This was 1969 Utah after all. I found all this out on a site that links up adoptees to their birth parents. Isn’t technology… strange? I also saw she has a Facebook profile. So I went on and checked out her profile pics. I was a bit surprised: she is a heavy metal chick, who hadn’t really grown up. I also noticed that she went to Valley High, which was where the bad kids went. Most of her pics were taken in a night club/bar. All the girls wore immodest black, white, or jean material clothing, lipstick; bright, glossy red. The guys had long hair and ripped t-shirts. They all were having a good time, obviously. All her female friends comments were like “You look so good” or something to that extent, and the guys all saying how “hawt” she was. And then she’d be all like, “Awww, Thanks, and stuff”. Oops, sorry. I fell back into the 80s for a second there.

Now, I realize at this point, that nothing I say will make any difference in her life now. Not because she is happy or forgot, but that people’s lives go on. Here I am dwelling on my selfish actions in the past, well, not dwelling really, more like glimpsing occasionally, and their life goes on. Then I wonder; if that one guy came up to me, telling me how sorry he was for being a bully and thought it was funny to sick his little brother on me and I could do nothing about it because he would do… something to me, would I think he is ridiculous for thinking about me after all these years? I would be astounded! I would tell him no worries, that it was just part of the formation of who I was. Sure I was afraid for my mom to drop me off early to school and I’d have to deal with you, but it’s all cool now. It would be neat… in a weird sort of way. So anyway, I’ve seen lots of people my age who have never grown up and wonder if they had some sort of horrific life that made them that way. Hey! My life isn’t perfect, I know. Everyone’s life shouldn’t look like mine. But there is something about people who are in their 40s still partying like they were in their early 20s. I know, again, my life isn’t like everyone else’s, but… never mind. Lot’s of things to contemplate in this confession.

My point is: How far would you go to seek forgiveness from wrongs done by you in the past?

Do you have a story to tell?

This is a copy from my original Stranger in Rebellion Facebook site found here. If you liked it go like that page and thankee faithful reader.


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!



Strange Confessions: Cold War Children

Strange Confessions: Late at night, while having a sleepover at my best friends house, we’d listen to a song that would make us think the communists were coming for us through the windows, and we’d fight back with imagined incendiary devices and machine guns.

This best friend was one of the longest friendships I had formed in my younger years. Let’s call him Garth. We became friends in first grade and it went on strong through sixth grade, and waned a bit in the last couple of years at St. Vincents, then disappeared in high school, (see previous Strange Confession). He was a really good friend, had a really good family, although I remember seeing a sticker on his sister’s mirror in her room that said, “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll.” It was the first time I had seen that kind of scary stuff in print, and she made me a bit nervous although she was hardly ever around; she was much older than us. I actually heard that she has her own family now and lives in the very same house they grew up in.

We’d stay up late and play this Flinstone’s game, where we made our very own cards that were missing, and laughed our heads off at our own artwork. I’d see him off and on for years and I’d bring up these pleasantly remembered moments, and eventually he’d show his boredom in my recital of years gone by, and tell me I’d always mention this when we’d see each other. I felt ashamed for remembering the past fondly. By this time he had gotten very successful in fact even now I can google him and find he has a profile listed in Forbes. I can see his salary listed and everything.

Anyway, the other favored activity was listening to the Rocky soundtrack. This was back when every boy’s favorite movie was Rocky and the inspiring music made feel invincible. We’d run up and down the basement, arms in the air, like Rocky, punching the air, quick jump roping, and training, like he did. But then there was this spooky song that came on. It made us a little frightened and opened up our imagination to believe that communists were attacking the U.S. and more specifically coming through the high windows in Garth’s basement. We’d pretend to lob grenades through the windows and shoot anyone we saw with our machine guns.

I spoke before in previous Strange Confessions, (see my Facebook StrangerInRebellion page) about being influenced as a child of things that weren’t necessarily in our range of vision. I can’t imagine how we were educated to understand that the communists were after us at that age. Rocky came out in ’76, which meant I was around 7-9 years old when we play acted this scenario. I mean, Red Dawn, an extremely fear driven movie about a Russian attack on U.S. soil, didn’t come out until ’84. That show scared me in a certain understanding that only comes with being 14 years old.

Yet there we were, being scared by a song and translating that into a personal attack on our homes. Was it Garth who had this idea? Was it me? Strange to think, as I look at my own children’s play: ponies, dragons, drawing, and imagined worlds of fantasy. Sure, maybe they have some idea of the threats that are in this world, perhaps more my oldest than the one who is seven years old now. Or maybe that idea only comes in to boys minds. I’m sure that’s not true. Perhaps it is the way we are raising our children: to understand that there is evil in the world, but eventually God is the victor and there is nothing to fear now. Yes, yes, I was raised a Catholic. But that relationship was a Sunday only thing for us, and there wasn’t much discussion about God at the dinner table, save for the rarely remembered moment to pray before; “Bless O Lord and these thy gifts for which we are about to receive, from thy bounty of Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

I love remembering my childhood, love my family, the friendships, the good times, the bad. For that, what I’ve said before, is what makes me who I am today. I want my children to remember fondly their childhood for the same reasons. Not be bitter because they didn’t have their own room, or had to move from friends, or remember that they were very much different from other kids their age. It is difficult. Especially when I don’t know if I should answer a friend who states on his facebook page, that all religious people should be sent to a planet without oxygen, so they can discuss things there. Or another, that vaguely states that they are sick of religious people shoving their ideals down other people’s throats. I suppose the rights of a “religious” person, their desire to see a world of another vision, is not welcome anywhere. That is what we, my wife and I, need to train our children to know. That their ideas will be hated, that their morals will be mocked, that if they want to have a business they better be prepared to fight a battle they might not foresee; the right to refuse someone services because of their way of life.

These Strange Confessions, many times have a mind of their own. I did not expect this one to go this way. But I suppose it was inevitable sometime. This introspective inspection of my past will reveal the harsh conditions of my children’s possible future. And again it reminds me of my current favorite verse: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” I have had to remind myself this, when I read some of my friends facebook posts, or when I see those friends who consider us “Persona non grata”, that these people are not against me per se, but what is coming against us is the forces of this dark world, and knowing that is what comforts me. That perhaps I’m doing something right, or that God is helping us to grow through tough things. Not that this compares with what other Christians face in the world, I can’t even compare my struggles with others who face death for claiming the name of Christ.

May I be strong in the face of these coming trials and train my children to know hope. The true hope that only comes through knowing that this world is not all. That all that this world can offer you may feel like it’s fulfilling you, and it does a very good job in this generation, but ultimately it has no eternal purpose. From the very beginning of my remembrances, I knew that there was more to this life than living and dying, and how can my God make my best friends not realize this. In that instance, I believe, it is all a choice. Thank you God for drawing me near you, for giving me an eternal perspective, a vulnerability that make me know whatever I do will never be enough in whatever enterprises I take on. Thank You!

Mitch Teemley

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