Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Dress to impress (who?)

I was at my brother’s football game on Saturday, when I ran into a woman from my parents' church. Observing my new clothes, hair, and accessories, she said, “So what are you? Sixteen?” To which I promptly replied, “I was hoping I could look at least seventeen!” Normally I brush these kinds of criticisms off. But this is a woman I have to respect. She has adopted tons of special needs kids. It takes a pretty phenomenal person to pull that off. And when phenomenal people provide criticism, I want to listen. So I’m sitting here thinking about the perception that she had. She seemed to think I was regressing, since my outward appearance apparently screams ‘teenager’. Of course, being on the inside, I have a different perspective on this all. My feeling is that I am finally getting a chance to wear what I like and style myself according to my own tastes instead of placating a wife. But a valid question is: why are my tastes close enough to immature teenagers to look like I’m one of them? Is it a subconscious attempt at acceptance from that crowd? Well, I don’t know. I think the vast majority of people under 20 are morons. (I know I was. Well, I can’t prove I’m not now either, but…) So why would I want to be visually associated with that? Well, perhaps the context of my choices needs to be considered. I talked about these limits in a previous entry, so I won’t go into detail. But I will just point out that there are only so many ‘looks’ you can achieve unless you sew your own clothes. If given the choice to look like most people, or look like immature punks, I’ll go with the punks. Not because I’m attracted to them or their image, but because it’s different than most everyone else.

That brings me to this question: why do I feel a strong enough urge to be different than most, that I’m willing to look like a fool (to most people), dressing in an "immature" fashion? Is it attention seeking? Is it really just a desire to be young again? (Since I feel like I missed out on that experience of being young and single and free.) Could it be a legitimate lack of concern for what other people think? Ha! I’ve heard that one before. What does God think of my desire to be different? I have to assume there is a certain element of pride in there. Why would I care that I looked like everyone else if I didn’t have a little self-focus going on? But then again, I do have to look like something Everyone has to decide if they want to look more, or less popular when they buy their clothes. But with this relatively new niche marketing going on, almost every variant can be just as ‘pop’ as the next. I can’t say my spike necklace is edgy or unique, because it’s sold in places like Hot Topic, run by a giant corporation making millions by marketing that look to teens through MTV. Besides, I can’t get anything really spiky because I have little boys jumping on me all the time. So I’ve given up on the idea that I can look unique. I just buy what strikes my fancy. Is that so wrong? Well, maybe it is… These style choices did, after all, make a phenomenal person think less of me. I’ll think about it some more and get back to me on this subject.

Wait, I just thought of something. I can say that one healthy thing has come out of this. I knew ‘That Darn Girl’ wouldn’t like my hair this way. But I still did it. She was raised very well and followed Thumper’s mother’s advice: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” So at the very least, I can say I made a decision about my appearance that I knew would be a turn-off to my crush. That’s progress, right? Right?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A requiem for spectacle

Do you know what makes me sad? The thought that no movie is ever going to wow me the way Star Wars did. And by ‘wow’, I’m talking about that jaw-on-the-floor, I-can’t-believe-what-I’m-seeing! kind of wow. The kind that can only come from spectacle. Of course a good film never relies on spectacle to carry it. It is certainly one of the least admirable tools in a movie makers tool box. (slightly more admirable than sex) But it has always been my favorite one. And now it seems to have been used so much that it’s completely useless. I think, as a medium, film has shown us every possible form of spectacle at it’s fullest, loudest, and most heavy-handed. You just can’t put any more spaceships, warriors, explosions, robots, horses, or Brad Pitt buttocks on the screen at one time. Battles can never be more epic than they are in Lord of the Rings. Armadas can never have more boats than there were in Troy. Sweeping idyllic vistas can’t have more waterfalls and beautiful buildings than Rivendell.

I saw Hero and Sky Captain this weekend. Both of them with beautiful cinematography, gorgeous landscapes, huge, amazing battles… the works. And I was duly impressed. But there was something lacking. I think I will always date films by B.LOTR, and A.LOTR. Because I was still blown away by movies before Lord of the Rings came out. Now? No. Not really. I’ve liked movies. I appreciate the amount of work and artistry put into them. But nothing even comes close to comparing. And the weird part is… When I was watching Lord of the Rings I had an unsettling feeling in the back of brain telling me I should be more impressed than I was. I mean, this movie was custom made for me. I love it at least 10 times more than any other movies. But still, one of it’s best features, spectacle, had already been pushed so far by other films. By the time LOTR came out, it had lost most of its teeth. So while I knew this was the most amazing thing I had ever seen, I also knew I would never see anything more amazing. (Until I die that is.) So a sadness tinged my view throughout the epic masterpiece. It’s especially sad to me as a prospective movie maker. My favorite tool is ruined before I even get a chance to use it! I guess, like the rest of the film industry will eventually figure out, I’ll have to start relying on those boring old tricks like ‘good acting’, ‘great story’, ‘interesting dialog’, nuanced characters’, etc.

Morning was broken

There are all sorts of ways I’m failing in life. And for the most part I’m OK with that. I’m really floundering at work. My current position does not engage me creatively at all, and as a result I am really apathetic towards it. But I can see how that isn’t the worst thing ever. It leaves a lot of creative energy for personal projects. (But of course I don’t have time for those.) It also makes the fact that I can’t work overtime easier to swallow. In my last job I was an art lead; I was defining my own position, heavily into the design process, and always passionate about everything. That made all the overtime I poured into the job a bit too fun and easy. Now that I’m paying a nanny for every hour I work, I don’t have the option of staying late. And I don’t mind. Since my heart is not in it, my work is suffering. And I feel bad about that. I wish I had a stronger work ethic. I guess I was spoiled at my last job. So I would consider my current work a failure. I recognize that it’s wrong and I need to work harder. But I’m not that upset about it.

Another failure I’ve been mulling over is my failed marriage. Although I don’t feel as bad about it as many divorcees do, it’s still provides some valuable self-assessment fodder. I think overall I was an above-average husband. (I’m sure my ex doesn’t see it that way though!) But I’m also very aware of some areas where I was sorely lacking. The most important one being spiritual leadership. I was far too content just to follow and commiserate rather than lead. I’m also going over the myriad of other little things I did wrong and sometimes wondering if I had done them right, could I have kept her from doing what she did? I doubt it. But I'm still a bit shaken by the thought. But overall I’m fairly comfortable with the fact that I’m a human who makes mistakes just like everyone else, and my wife left me for whatever reasons, so… Well yeah. Whatever.

But the one area in my life where I’m not as forgiving of myself is in the parenting department. I’ve got these two precious little lives that God has given me responsibility for. I take that pretty seriously. So when I have a morning like I did today, I’m always miserable. To begin with, mornings are hell for me. I have some sort of sleeping disorder that makes me chronically fatigued. And in the morning, (unless I’ve gotten a good 10 hours) I feel nauseous, dizzy, and really, really grumpy. Now add two hyper active boys who need to be dressed, fed, and reminded 12 times to get their shoes, backpacks and lunch bags to the mix, and you have nothing but pain. We consistently get to school 1 minute late. NO MATTER HOW EARLY WE START! So when I told Justin to go put on his socks, then found him playing with rocks 5 minutes later, I got pretty upset and told him so. We got in the car, and I did the typical parent-lecture about responsibility and not getting distracted, I told him it was his fault we were late now… Then he said, “No, it’s your fault we’re late daddy!” I lost it and yelled at him. He started crying. I’m dodging through traffic mentally chastising myself. I apologized for yelling and prayed for him when I dropped him off at school. But this is one area where I can’t just say, Whoopsey. I screamed at my kid. Oh well.... I mean, I am aware that I screw up as a parent all the time. Especially without a mom to pick up any slack, I can see my failures well. Like my inability to cook nice meals for the kids. I make sure they get the nutrition they need, but it’s served on paper plates with plastic forks and usually comes out of the microwave. I don’t know how they are ever going to learn table manners since we rarely eat at a table. (But they do have good manners in general…. When they remember to use them.) I also fail to play with them enough. Though I am rectifying that starting this week; I’ve set aside half and hour when I get home each evening to play. But it’s times like this morning, when all my failures come into sharp focus on one moment where I lose control for a second, that make me miserable. I just know that their lives are going to be hard enough growing up without a functioning mom. So to have anything less than a stellar dad is just not acceptable.

But school is out now, and I haven’t got any calls from the principal, so I guess he made it through the day all right. Thank God.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Farwell to fantasy

It’s been a gradual process, but I’m finally starting to feel some relief in the ‘woman’ department. The pressure to have a woman in my life romantically is subsiding. When I imagine a life without a wife I don’t get that panic-stricken wailing in my head quite as loud. I’m starting to settle on this idea that I made a vow to God that I would stand by this woman until one of us dies. I just really don’t see any way around that. I sure want to. But I can’t. And I’m losing hope that there will be some kind of divine epiphany where I suddenly feel ‘release’ from this thinking. I know God will never override a scriptural concept. He is unchanging. I don’t want to be like those air-heads who say they prayed about it and God said it was OK for them to have sex before marriage, or get drunk when they are with close friends, or leave their spouse and marry their secretary, etc. So any escape from my perceived future of celibacy will come though hermeneutics, not revelation. I’ve heard arguments on both sides. Both sides have some shaky parts. But on the whole, I feel much safer (or more loyal to God) leaning towards a literal reading of scripture than making a major life decision based on a possible interpretation. It’s like an interpretation of Genesis… I asked my dad about that a while ago. I said, with all our scientific speculations and such, and with the poetic language of the creation account, why is the idea of interpreting Adam and Eve not as individual entities, but as proxies for a developing line of organism, considered heretical by so many Christians? Adam created from dust seems to fit the idea of a complex organism arising from less complex ones. I would never exclude God from the equation, but why would we still interpret the creation the same way now? The answer is pretty simple. God chose those words for a reason. They convey what we need to know. Since He, and His Word are perfect, adding our speculation into our reading is polluting His message. God didn’t want us to see humans as evolved lower species. He wanted us to see ourselves as unique expressions of His creativity and Love. So I don’t know if Adam and Eve were literal people. (I’m guessing they were.) I don’t know how old the earth is. I don’t know what happened to the dinosaurs. But really, I just don’t care that much. I know that I believe what God has revealed to us. So when it comes to creation theory, and divorce theory, I’m going to stick to what the words say until I understand differently.

I think one of the reasons my desire for a woman has gone into abeyance, is that I’ve had my kids back for a couple of weeks now. Near the end of the summer I had several weeks, on and off, without the kids. (Visiting various grandparents and relatives.) This really got my social life revving. I was out meeting new people and having fun with lots of young, single, Christian girls. Now that the boys are back I’m much more limited. I’m remembering how darn hard it is to be a single parent. I’m forced to buckle down and deal with life as it comes. I don’t have time for girls. (Although I did take my kids to the movies with two pretty girls on Sunday.) But overall, I can see that being a good dad is probably going to preclude any romantic endeavors for quite a while. And thank God, I’m not fretting about that fact any more.

Friday, September 24, 2004


As you can see, fashion makes all the difference.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Sex & Violence in Entertainment

What is this double standard everyone keeps bringing up? This is the argument as I’ve heard it countless times: “Dude, in Europe they show nudity on TV and in ads all the time. But they totally don’t allow really violent stuff to be shown. America is so messed up with our backwards attitudes. We glorify guns and violence, but make kids ashamed of their bodies.”

Well, I thought about this for a bit and came up with a response. But first there are two caveats that need to be stated. I do think we glorify violence too much. And I also think we need to work harder to expose our children to art that expresses the beauty that God imbued in the human form.

That being said, I don’t think our order of values are being misplaced. (Just stretched way to far.) One problem we have is that the nudity that is shown in films, TV, music, etc. is 90% overtly sexualized. I can think of a few examples like the movies 12 Monkeys and Schindler’s List, where the nudity was used to promote a loftier concept than sexuality. But the vast majority of sexuality in media is of the free-love variety. Outside of marriage. Generally the sex happens on a whim and there are few consequences save for some kind of emotional excitement that drives the drama. I submit that this is far more dangerous to our society than the action and violence that is so prevalent; and here is why… There are serious legal ramifications and other social structures that prevent emulation of violent acts. There are none remaining in the area of sexual expression. No laws against adultery or fornication. No shame in living with a member of the opposite sex. In fact, most schools are promoting sexual experimentation for kids. So while I believe that if we had less violence in our media, then the violence in our society would diminish somewhat; (How much is a matter of debate.) but the glorification of sex in our stories is having a much more detrimental effect. Thus, I say the “double standard” is valid and should be maintained. (Though the current levels of both should be reduced.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

More Physical Abuse

My church football team had its fist game on Saturday. I had fun, though I feel bad about a bunch of mistakes I made due to my football-ignorance. (I screwed up twice on the whole snap timing thing.) I felt kind of like a foreigner who doesn’t speak the language whenever they were discussing the next play. Button hook, left boot, sweep, pinch the nose, etc. I nodded my head and smiled, then ran around the field like a ninny. But we still won despite my ineptitude. The comedian Brian Regan sums up my knowledge of sports with a line that goes something like, “Yeah! Go my favorite sports team! Score a goal point unit!”

I was pretty worried I would mess myself up. At last weeks practice I jammed a finger and pulled a groin muscle. I’ve been hobbling all week. I need to pull my leg into the car with my hands when I sit down because the muscles that normally do that have gone on strike. So I was pleasantly surprised to walk away from the game with only some minor blood streaks on my arms from diving for an… “interception?”.

I was very impressed with everyone’s attitudes. I don’t normally run with the jock crowd, so I had a little reticence about joining. But most of them displayed a great Christian attitude and were very patient with my shenanigans, and congratulated me the few times I did something right.

I got to experience more great Christian attitudes last night at a Blindside concert. I asked my brother to watch the boys, so I could go out. (He just moved in a couple weeks ago since he is going to school up here.) It was the same venue that I saw As I Lay Dying, and the contrast in the crowd was remarkable. Granted, the music of Blindside is a bit mellower, though not much. So the demographics are a bit different. But at this show at least 70% of the audience were Christians. (Based on the cheers when the between-band poet rattled off explicitly Christian statements.) There were still mosh pits and crowd surfers. (Myself included.) But no one was trying to hurt people like at the last show. There was just an overall more positive vibe. I was very happy with the whole experience. I discovered a really cool, mellow band that opened for them. And Blindside played my favorite song last, and I surfed around a bit during it.

“I thought about a burning fire… I thought about Your love!” ~Blindside

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Foreman's Red Period

I did one of those stupid on-line tests that is supposed to determine if I’m over my previous relationship. I passed with flying colors. Which is interesting, because of all the divorcees and people with ex-boy/girl friends I know, I am the least ready to ‘move on’. Sure, I was dumped. But I don’t feel bad about it. I’m not mad at her, or bitter and resentful. I don’t feel like I failed per se. I sure wasn’t perfect, but I see that my biggest fault was not seeking God first and foremost.

Naturally, this test completely ignored these spiritual aspects. The reason I can’t move on yet is that I haven’t got a clear message from God concerning the spiritual state of my former marriage. I’ve had Godly people tell me I should move on, and I’ve heard good arguments that say I should not move on until my ex dies. And some that say wait ‘till she remarries. So since I don’t have a clear answer on this, it seems pretty safe to just focus on Christ right now. So that’s what I’m doing.

And since I’m a flaky artist, I decided to go into a ‘Red Period’ as a way of visually reminding myself of that. I bought mostly red and black clothes, I dyed my hair bright red, and I bought a pair of $1 red sun glasses. I’m also making a red and black wrist band with a design of an eye with a cross over it. It all ties in nicely to my Crimson Hymnal music project I am undertaking. It is time for me to focus on what is important. Of course, I am just a creature made of dust, so sometimes it’s hard.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I feel pretty… Oh so pretty!

I just went clothes shopping for the first time in many years. I’ve lost a bit of weight and I’m swimming in most of my old, raggedy clothes now. I had an item I could return for store credit, so I figured now was the time. Being quite budget-conscious, I kept pretty low expectations. But I found some great sales and ended up buying more than I intended.

The thing I hate about clothes shopping is that there seems to be a necessary narcissistic component. (Well, for me at least. Maybe if I had really low self-esteem it wouldn’t be that way.) But it consists of trying on different outfits in front of a mirror and seeing what you look best in. There is something Platonic about that I think. As though I have some perfect form that I am trying to mimic. It would be one thing if it were a strictly mechanical process of determining best form for fit from an aesthetic perspective. But the whole self-expression aspect comes into it. Which really frustrates me to no end. How am I supposed to express my personality through the layers of 1. only buying what is on sale. 2. only being able to afford certain stores. 3. only getting to choose from an assortment of options that some business executive at Nordstrom Rack decided they should buy from some fashion designers who have no desire to let me express my personality through their clothes. ? Wait, that started as a question, right? Yeah.

The fashion industry is so bizarre. I have no clue how it works. You see the crazy Halloween-worthy outfits paraded about at fashion shows. But you never see anything like that at Target or J.C. Penny’s. You have these fashion designers who would consider themselves artists. Yet it seems like the best they can do to evoke emotion with their work is to use previous fashion trends. Oh gee. Look, a wide collar. That totally makes me think of the seventies. Oooo. Little, thin tennis shoes with wide stripes. Yeah. Good job fashion designer. I’m impressed. ... I can’t express myself by referencing the 70’s. Why is this my only option? Oh wait, it’s not. I could also go to…

Hot Topic! This place is sheer insanity. The theme is teenage angst and rebellion. They sell bongs, black lights, Wicca paraphernalia, CDs, and some clothes. They stock “Gothic Beauty” magazine. They are SO underground. No wait. They are in every mall in America. They are packed with Jr. High kids buying striped socks to put on their hands. My problem is that I love their aesthetic. But I don’t think I can stand the thought of wearing their homogenized uniqueness. I don’t want to look the same as all those ‘creative’ kids in the goth crowd. So as usual, I’m trapped in mediocrity. I got some nice shirts with the stupid long 70’s collars. The one item I got that I feel expresses me the most is a shirt that says, “My mommy says I’m special!” Because she does.

And then I gotta ask myself: Am I supposed to express myself through what I wear? Expressing oneself seems to be a common goal for people of my generation. But what does that mean? Is my ‘self’ really so important that I should spend energy communicating its’ attributes? As one who wishes to express Christ before myself, I am compelled to say no. But regardless, I still have to buy clothes and wear them. So does God care what I where? In as far as our appearance is a reflection of our hearts, I suppose He does. But it would be the root issue that He cares about. If I dress in a prideful, disrespectful, lewd, or slovenly manner, I can use that observation to inspect my heart and find out why. I found that when I was shopping I was wanting to ‘feel pretty again’. I imagine that’s a common feeling among fresh divorcees. I don’t know if it’s good or bad or neither.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

An idol mind

The other night I was doing my daily devotional and a thought popped into my head. I had turned ‘That Darn Girl’ into an idol. And it has been sitting on my heart. And that is where the Spirit is supposed to sit. God helped me knock it down, and I got the greatest rush of fresh air through my soul. I cried thanksgiving to Him for a long time that night. I know I’m still going to have to deal with this crush thing for a while, but now that it is in its proper perspective I think I will be able to handle it better. Here is what I wrote that night…


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Idol

It keeps rising up! * The stench brings me down. * The smoke rising up! * The tears coming down. * It’s tearing me up! * It’s breaking me down.


This towering idol in my mind


Without even knowing I’m playing a part ~ Building this idol I’ve placed in my heart ~ The shrine of my desire is occupied ~ by this idolatry. It makes me blind

I’ve got to smash it up! * Tear it down. * The fire is up! * It’s melting down. * I’m grinding it up! * And drinking it down.

As I overturn this idol in my mind ~ God help me overturn this idol in my mind

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I was thinking about when the Israelites were waiting for Moses to come back down the mountain, and decided it would be a dandy idea to build an idol while they waited. They put all their valuables together and had them melted down and formed into a golden calf.

Then When Moses came down he was, quite reasonably, pissed. They had just been miraculously saved from slavery, and were already worshipping false gods. He melted the calf, ground it to dust, put it in water, then forced them all to drink it.

My personal life has a striking analogy here. My first thought when I read this story is, “What a bunch of morons.” Then I thought about myself. I have just been delivered from bondage and slavery of a different kind. God’s salvation is just as obvious to me as the pillar of fire and parting of the Red Sea was to them. Yet within months, I’ve already started worshiping something other than God. What a moron I am! The Israelites melted down their gold rings. My valuables are God’s gifts of time and thoughts. I’ve been pouring them into the mold of ‘That Darn Girl’.

I don’t know what the meaning is behind drinking the gold dust from the idol. I’m going to look into it. Maybe that will speak to what I have to do to purge my mind from its idolatry.