Friday, October 29, 2004


ZAO!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I did something right!

Since this blog is supposed to be functioning as a journal, I’m going to throw some random stuff in here that happened over the past week or so.

I went to a Zao show in Seattle. Their star guitarist was in the ER, so the set wasn’t that great. Oh well. Their last album was amazing! A conceptual record called ‘The Funeral of God’. It’s a hypothetical look at what would happen if God gave humanity what they wanted and went away. Very scary stuff. It reminds me of C.S. Lewis’s ‘Between Heaven and Hell’ in that the horror is not in the form of torment from demons and fire, but the torment of being completely enslaved to our own natures. “As we pray on His grave, our words fall and decay” I also love the cover art and logo design. I painted the logo on the back of my spare tire cover.

Oh, and the thing I did right was during football last Saturday. I actually made a touchdown. It doesn’t mean much since everyone else on the team has made dozens. But it was exciting for me. It was one of those near disasters where I grabbed it while jumping backwards, it got knocked out of my hands by the D, but as I hit the ground I managed to snatch it back. What a great group of guys my church has in it. They were still congratulating me for it the next day. I feel like I did when my mom over-congratulated me on learning to twirl the spaghetti on my fork like a big boy.

I helped move a very sad woman right after the game. She was all alone in a cluttered, trashy, smoke-reeking apartment. Part of our outreach program at church is helping people move. The atmosphere in her place was so oppressive. I prayed a lot while I moved her boxes of dirty knick-knacks and stained carpets. I am still praying for her every night. These things help me remember how blessed I am. I hope to share as much of that blessing as I can.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Explanation

Here is a little insight into the meaning behind the image below. This picture applies only to how I feel about my romantic life. Not life in general. I’m mostly very thankful and happy about my life and all the things in it.

So here I am standing on the tombstone of my marriage. It’s got our initials and dates for how long it lived. It is flanked by thistles; a traditional Christian symbol for sin and sadness. Laying in the shallow grave is my heart. Again, I’m only referencing my romantic heart. I’m holding my eyes to keep myself from looking at women ‘that way’, while I contemplate whether I should finish the burial of my heart, or drop the shovel and pick it up. It’s night time. Time for me to sleep and renew. But my confusion keeps me awake. Finally, there are seven stars behind me. Seven has a plethora of meanings from scripture. One of those is the reference to forgiveness. God has forgiven me for the part I played in the death of the marriage, and reminds me to forgive the other responsible party. But overall I want to stars to symbolize Providence working through my life. Though this is a sad and confusing season for me, His grace will see me through and His will will be accomplished in my life.

Oh, and I used cartoon proportions rather than realistic ones to keep it a little more light-hearted so I can keep things in perspective. I’m just a funny little animal being buffeted by life right now. I’m not a tormented soul without hope or humor!


Excavation or burial?

Monday, October 25, 2004

My new best friend: Part II

I’m going through a really interesting process right now that I wish I wasn’t. That doesn’t mean it’s bad or unfair. I just didn’t want to deal with it at this point in my life. But I’ll take God’s timing over my own any day.

It involves, (what else?), romance and love. Since I’m not the best looking guy in the world, and I’m divorced with two kids, I figured I’d have plenty of time to figure out if I should pursue a romantic relationship again at some point in my life. But somehow I have two women pursuing me. One of them is easy to ignore because she’s not a Christian and I would never even consider a woman who isn’t as passionate about God as I am.

But then there is my New Best Friend. She would really like me to be free to give her an answer one way or another. So would I. But like I’ve said before, I don’t know if I’ll ever be free of the obligation to stay unattached, just incase my ex has a Saul-to-Paul style conversion. I can’t think of a worse fate for myself. But I do know that if God called me to do it He would provide joy in the task.

So now I need to start researching this thing in earnest. You see, it wouldn’t be a big deal if my new best friend wasn’t such an amazing person. I could just blow it off as a crush, and tell her I’m sorry but I can’t get involved. Well, actually I have said that come to think of it. We have a kind of relationship I’ve never experienced before. In fact, it’s redefining what I thought I could ever expect from a woman. I guess since I’ve only had one type of relationship with women, (besides family) I don’t have a lot of comparisons. Actually, I guess that’s not true. I have some female friends from work. OK, so I’ve had female family, female friends, and a female wife. So I guess that’s 3. But my point is that the relationship with my New Best Friend is not like any of those. Obviously a big element of that is that she is attracted to me. I’m worried that that aspect may be glazing over a lot of holes that would naturally exist in the relationship. It certainly has accelerated things. We haven’t known each other very long, but I have a huge amount of respect for her, and trust her more than I ever did my wife. I certainly have a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve, so that’s not too surprising to me. We don’t know much of those first-couple-of-dates type questions like, “What’s your favorite band, food, color, and if you were a dog what kind would it be?” crap. But the amount of deep, honesty we share is astounding to me. (For instance, she reads this blog.) I feel like it’s that horrible cliché about our hearts talking. It’s amazing to me how freely we have been talking through our relationship and what it means. Well, mostly it’s her banging her head against a wall and me apologizing for not being able to give her an answer beyond, “RUN AWAY!!!” But those times where we do talk it’s very open and honest. But one of my problems with this arrangement is not being able to match her level of assessment due to my relative inexperience. She can articulate her feelings about me based on experience she has had in other relationships. Then she wants me to tell her how I feel about ‘us’. But the only thing I have to compare ‘us’ to is a traumatic, dysfunctional, abusive relationship. If I had a good relationship with all the fireworks and special effects, then I could have a 0 – 10 scale to put my feelings on. I know my last relationship would score a 0, but I don’t know what a good one would be. So how would I know how close to 'good' we are? Maybe the fact that I don’t know says it all. Or not. I am just so darn ignorant of how these kinds of relationships work and feel. I’m really shooting in the dark. Which is bad, since I think I’m gonna hit someone in the heart. Here are my concerns about our current predicament. (I’ve already talked to my New Best Friend about this all, so I’m not trying to communicate to her on the internet like a coward.)

  1. And most important. I don’t know if I’m free to pursue a relationship. Ever.
  2. I don’t know if I would feel any different if any other smart, mature, Christian girl were pursuing me. I’ve never had anyone want me before. All my feelings for her could be based on the excitement and flattery of having someone see any value in me.
  3. Since I’m not clear on 1 and 2, we are taking a big risk with heartbreak here.

So over the course of the week I’ve compared myself to the-theme-song-to-Jaws warning her away, a train on a track that has an unknown destination, and a Chinese water torture machine. But apparently none of my analogies were scary enough to overcome her desire to be with me romantically. She acknowledges that the desire may never come to fruition, but that she still wants to stick it out. I wish she wouldn’t. For her sake. But then when I think about what a great wife and mother she would make, I can’t help but panic a little at the thought of loosing a chance to at least try it out. But those are selfish thoughts that show a lack of faith. I believe God has a plan for my life. It could include a reunion with a redeemed ex-wife (shudder), not having romance again, or maybe finding a perfect woman for me and my children. Wouldn’t it suck if this were that woman and I pass her up because I haven’t figured out if I’m supposed to wait around the rest of my life? I mean, this is a real special woman. I’ve never met anyone like her before. On the other hand, wouldn’t it suck to tie myself into a decision that hurts us both? One thing is for sure… I’d really like to lay low for a while and sort things out for myself. But I’m also a lazy jerk, and often need a kick in the pants before I’ll do anything. So I’m going to get some books on the subject of divorce and the Bible and start looking into it. Just for the sake of my new best friend.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

My new best friend

So there is this girl I met at church. She is a really cool chick. And by chick I mean woman. We get along really well and can hang out and just be comfortable with each other. She is super sweet and caring, and blah blah blah… I get the picture. Anyway…

One of the things I really like about her is the straight foreword manner in which she communicates her feelings. For instance; I think it was the second or third time we hung out that she told me she had a crush on me. (Now before I go thinking what a bastard I was, let me remind myself that I had already made it clear at that point that I was not available.) But I gotta give massive respect points to a girl who can lay it all out there and take what comes. This woman has been through more crap in her life than anyone I know, and yet she is really mature and not bitter. I think I can learn a lot from her.

So the natural problem is that I can’t reciprocate her feelings towards me in any honorable way. But she is such a comfort to me. A calefacient for my current hebetudinous disposition. In fact, I have been deriving physical comfort from her as well. No you pervert! Not that kind. I just mean snuggling and such. Which is bad if I want to be at all consistent in my stance on my inability to be sure about where my former marriage is in the spiritual spectrum. I want to leave all the possibilities open just in case God taps me on the shoulder and says, “Hey, do this or that.” I don’t want to be in a position where 'this or that' would hurt someone.

Then there are my emotions. Stupid emotions! I’m not in love with this girl. But judging by my current trajectory I’ve calculated that I will be by next Thrusday at 3:47 pm. (Pacific Standard Time) I’m not freaking out about it or anything, but I do need to figure out how to address the issue. I’m not going to let emotions dictate a decision I may regret later. This particular problem is about 3 times removed from my logic line. 1. I don’t know if I should ever have a romance again. 2. If I am supposed to, I don’t know that it should be with this woman. 3. If it is supposed to be with her, I don’t know when the appropriate time for that would be.

In conclusion, I feel really sorry for this poor girl. She likes a very confused man who shows no sign of becoming less confused any time soon. So taking a cue from her, I have told her this pretty clearly. And repeatedly. But I’m sure the physical contact - innocuous as it may be - is undermining the verbal message. So I need to stop. But that’s going to be hard for me. I have never had a woman show me affection this way before, and I don’t want to loose the small comfort it provides me. But I’m still a jerk for sending mixed signals.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Faith, fear, and Yoda

My ex came and visited the kids last night while I was out with a friend and my brother was watching them. This is a pretty major event since the last time she saw them was back in April – about six months ago. She has been promising them she would visit all that time. Setting up times, then calling at the last minute and canceling over and over again. I didn’t have much reason to believe this time was going to be different, or I might have stayed home just to make sure everything was all right. (And to protect my valuables.) Well, apparently it was a quick visit, and the only thing she took was a framed photo collection. The boys seemed fine this morning, which was a major relief to me, since her calls generally cause them to behave badly for a day or two afterward. But I just got two emails from school saying my oldest is having a very bad day. He was kicking a little girl for not sharing her fruit snacks and calling her stupid. (Could there be a connection to the fact that my ex used to kick me and call me stupid in front of him?) But more disturbingly, his teacher reported that he was not following directions in music class, and when asked why he said, “He damned me to do it.” The teacher asked him to repeat it so he could clarify, and Justin just kept repeating that line over and over. [Edit] I just picked up Justin from school to take him to his councilor for an emergency meeting. I asked him about this thing he said, and he told me the line was, “He dared me to do it.” A kid was daring him to yell “Ninja” over and over. With his speech delay damned and dared actually sound almost identical. So I am buying his story.] Another hopefully unrelated weirdness I experienced was waking up at 4 in the morning to the sound of Justin peeing into a laundry basket. (I’m guessing he was sleep walking based on the blank stare and lack of verbal response.) There is nothing quite as fun as cleaning urine out of laundry baskets at 4 in the morning! But now I’m freaked out and thinking about The Exorcist and such. I’m pretty skeptical about all those demon possession stories and the elaborate rituals that are related in pop culture. I’m guessing a lot of cases of demon possession are mental disorders, but I could be wrong. I do believe every story about it in the Bible. But none of those stories have long sessions with holy water, crucifixes, etc. Jesus just said, “Get out.” And the spirits fled. Other examples in the Bible show that you have to have faith in Christ for an exorcism to work. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t see a demon behind every bush. I’m not the jumpy type. But I do believe that spirits hang around those who are putting themselves in certain states of mind. And I’m pretty sure my ex has been in one of those states for a couple of years now. So I’m a bit concerned that the spirit in or around her my brush off on the boys when she talks to them and visits.

But anyway… The fear I feel for the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of my children has caused me to realize something about my faith. It has been easy for me to assume I have strong faith based on my lack of fear for my own life. I’m really not worried about my own future that much. I know God has a plan for my life and it will be accomplished. Or do I? Dunt, duh, duuuuun! When I try to apply that same line to the lives of my children the platitude melts away and I realize that I am afraid for them. Then I have to ask myself why I’m afraid for them but not for myself. Well there are a few obvious ones. Growing up with a single dad and a distant, dysfunctional mom is not the ideal. So they will have a set-back to start with. But shouldn’t faith be faith? And by that I mean; if I can say I believe God will guide and protect me in the amount I need, shouldn’t it follow that He will do the same for them in the very large amount they will need? … So I’m seeing two flaws in my thinking now. First, why am I thinking my sons need more than I do from God. Every atom in our body is kept in movement by His hand. Every breath is allowed by His good grace. Just because I perceive from a human perspective that they are going to need more help than me doesn’t make that the case. But the biggest revelation my analysis of this discrepancy has shown me is that I really don’t have much faith at all. If I can’t apply it to a situation that seems bigger to me, then was it real to begin with? It’s like when Luke Skywalker was able to make rocks levitate, but he couldn’t get his ship out of the swamp. Of course, if Yoda could have applied the same logic of “Size matters not”, he could have crushed the Death Star in his little rubber paw. But that’s beside the point.

I think the problem is that when I say I trust that God will take care of me, I mean He will do it at least just enough. In other words, I may go through hell, but I figure I can handle it. I don’t buy into the prosperity gospel so many of my evangelical brethren like. I’m more along the Mother Theresa line of thinking. I believe she indicated that suffering was good. Of course you have to take that sentiment in context. I’m not a sadist. But there seems to be a universal law that maturity only comes through struggle. Since this life we are living now is only a tiny part of the equation, and God wants us to be in perfect communion with Him after this life; it would follow that He wouldn’t put a lot of stock in our physical or financial welfare. He would care about our spiritual state. And that state only progresses with fire. So am I saying we should be miserable all the time? Just look at those people in the Bible who suffered immensely for the gospel. They sang in prison. Christians should be the happiest people in the world no matter what they are going through. (I mean in general. Not every second of the day. We should mourn when a loved one dies and such.) Crap should happen to us all the time, and we should respond in the godliest manner possible. This is the best witness we can display.

So anyway, back to my point... I think that model of painful progression works fine for me. But I don’t want that for my children. Why would that be?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


A work in progress

Sculpting Hollywood style

Last week I attended a sculpting workshop every evening after work. This sculptor from L.A. who does movie concepts and such came up and gave us a quick run through of some of the stuff he does and techniques he uses. Mom wonderful mom was gracious enough to come stay at my apartment and watch the boys after school and all night while I did the class. I didn’t get much sleep last week but I learned a lot. I worked with Wed clay for the first time. That’s the stuff they use to sculpt all those monsters and aliens you see in the movies. (The ones that aren’t computer generated of course.) I also learned some new techniques for Sculpy, which is a polymer clay I’ve been using for years.

Jordu Schell (the instructor) is a really interesting guy. We seemed to get along swimmingly. He has the same dry, sardonic since of humor I do. I took him to Seattle to pick up some supplies for the class on Tuesday, so we got to have a little alone time to talk. He was telling stories about some of the films he worked on, what he didn’t like about some of the creature design on Lord of the Rings, and about what a jerk Tom Cruise is. I told him my dream of having my own studio and developing this whole fictional world. I told him about my lack of creative output at work and how my creativity has been manifesting in my personal projects like the world design stuff, sculpture and a music project. He asked what kind of music it was, so I told him about the Crymsin Hymnal project. How I haven’t heard worship music that expresses the full range of emotion I feel like worship music should. He seemed to be startled that I was a Christian. He dug around in his typical secularist lexicon of religious terms to try to verify his confusion. “So, you’re, like… born again… and stuff?” Yeah. So I quickly summed it up by saying that I believe the fundamentals of Christianity and my faith is the organizing factor of my life. Later he brought it up again, saying he didn’t peg me as a Christian. I asked if it was because of my artistic side. He said that wasn’t it, he know other Christian artists, but he was surprised by me because I wasn’t always “Jesus this” and “Jesus that”. I don’t know to what extent that could form the entirety of his surprise, but it seems like a bit of a stretch. I told him I know what he’s talking about. I’m of the opinion that Christians should be ‘seen and not heard’ most of the time. I told him I’ve noticed a problem with most people, regardless of their beliefs, when they spend more time trying to convince other people that they are right, rather than living right themselves. This happens as much with left-wingers as it does with right. I think the most compelling testimony a Christian can tell is to just live their life and deal with their struggles in an open, honest, and godly way. When other people need advice or want answers to the big questions they are going to go to someone like that. Not a polemic-spewing ideologue.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Pendulum swinging

Something I’ve noticed about people – myself included – is that when they change habits or beliefs, they tend to jump from one extreme to another. Hard drinkers become teetotalers, right wing ideologues become left wing extremists, etc. The amount of swing seems to be directly proportional to the extremity of their initial position. Here are a few recent examples from my life… I used to be pretty lethargic and eat unhealthy food. I wasn’t extremely out of shape, but enough to cause me some alarm. Now I’m jogging daily, lifting weights, and eating lots of vegetables. Nothing extreme, but certainly on the other side of the spectrum.

Over the course of the last decade I have probably spent a total of 2 or 3 hundred bucks on clothes and shoes. Over the past couple of months I’ve spent the same amount. (Don't worry, I'm done now!) Still, not huge levels on either end. I went from not caring about my appearance very much to caring about it a little bit. Now for the big swings… One good, one bad.

I went from almost complete apathy towards God to a passion that is transforming my life. I used to really be held back by negativity. My wife’s poor attitude really had a huge impact on me. I’m realizing this now because we have not lived together for a year now, and my outlook on life has improved dramatically. I’m meeting tons of people, making new friends, really involved in church, getting out and socializing, etc.

The bad one has to do with my job. I used to be insanely passionate about it. Now I just don’t care. Unfortunately, this apathy has manifested itself in a lazy attitude and actions at work. Since I have a very firm day schedule due to daycare and raising two boys, I don’t have many places to squeeze in exercise. I’ve been doing so around my lunch time. This uses the time I would normally use to eat, but I tend to spend a bit of time hanging out in the break room regardless. Then there are the appointments. The countless appointments. I have to take Justin to counseling every week, Dr. appointments for the boys and myself, chiropractor, teacher meetings, and a couple of gaps between school and when the nanny gets here. I look at my phone calendar and see an appointment on almost every day. It reminds me of how useful a wife would be. So when I add all that together with my workout regimen, I end up not getting a full days worth of work in most days. That’s bad. Very bad. This never would have happened a couple of years ago just because I loved my job so much. So I’m very ashamed when I realize the only thing keeping me a hard worker was my love for the job. Now that that is gone, I find there is no work ethic to supply back up power. What a horrible example of a Christian I’ve been setting. I am truly ashamed of myself. Well, I got an email from my supervisor on Friday. He said people have been talking about my absences during the day. He encouraged me to take work home with me on my laptop to make sure I’m staying on schedule. I’ve known this was inevitable, I just didn’t want to face it. Now I have to. And it’s embarrassing that it required motivation from outside of myself to do so. The first thing I’m doing is cutting back on stuff I have to do during work hours. Some of these are simple, like the massage my chiropractor prescribed. I can live without that. But most of them just can’t be avoided. I have to take the kids to the Dr., I have to go to school meetings. So I have to sacrifice the workout time on days where I have other appointments, which really, really sucks. That is one of those things in my life that I can look at and say I’m disciplined enough to do that at least. But I guess physical discipline is easier than mental discipline for me.

I’m glad my supervisor is a really nice guy, and he just gave me a little nudge rather than the harsh berating I deserved. My own guilt is enough to magnify his warning into the kick in the pants I need. Well, I hope I can keep my job.