Friday, December 07, 2007

Thanksgiving Recap 2007

I did as my pastor requested and signed up for a 3-fold. The idea here is that you have a group of 3 or 4 people that you can be more open with then you can be in a small group. It’s for spiritual edification and support, prayer, study, etc. This is something I’m doing out of obedience, because I really don’t want to spend a lunch hour doing this when I could be reading, writing, or playing Civilization 4. When I filled out my little card to submit for placement I noted that I wasn’t sure I should be doing it since my heterodox beliefs could upset people. Not that I’m out to argue with anyone or try to change their views, it’s just that it is inevitable if I’m spending a decent amount of time talking about spiritual matters with people that my beliefs would come up. I don’t want to be disrespectful to the leadership of the church by spreading non-church approved messages to other members. Their solution was to put me in a group of what they considered to be very mature or experienced Christians.

We’ve only met once so far, and that was a month ago. Scheduling conflicts keep popping up with one or more of them. When we did meet, it was at a waterfront park, and we just kind of introduced ourselves and talked a bit about our lives. One of the topics that came up was fasting. That’s one of those things I really haven’t thought much about. I think I dabbled with the idea a time or two in my life, but never seriously attempted anything. I guess I just never felt, as they say in Christianese, “led” to fast. I have two issues I want to avoid when it comes to the subject. First, I don’t want to view a fast as a cause for an effect. As in, “I fasted, which caused God to heal my wife.” That gets into the God-as-magical-genie territory. The other thing I want to avoid is legalism. As in, “God requires us to fast so we must fast.” Which tends to lead to, “I sure am a great Christian because I fast.” Or “I’m such a horrible Christian because I failed to fast.” On the other hand, there is the place I have always been which is, “I don’t want to fast because I like eating.”


So I decided to try to find someplace in-between these attitudes that I consider mistaken. First I skipped one meal. It was annoying but not horrible. Then the next Monday I decided I would take on my discipline problem. It occurred to me that fasting may be the best exercise for combating poor discipline. I think the areas I struggle most are eating and work. Work is a problem because I’m not constantly fascinated by what I’m doing. Eating is a problem because… well, I guess because I’m a glutton. I just look forward to my next meal way, way too much. It’s got to be some sort of a psychological crutch. But whatever it is, I decided I should work against it. I knew I couldn’t just stop eating, so I decided to do the next best thing. I would only eat food I don’t like for a while. That way I would never look forward to my next meal. Kick the crutch out and see if I fall down. It was Monday, and Thanksgiving was next Thursday, so I decided I could make it a week and a half eating only vegetables and fruit. … and nuts.

My plan was to not look forward to eating, and let me tell you, it worked great. I think I spent more time eating, and probably ate more than before, but it sure wasn’t fun. I was only a little bit hungry most of the time. I had a headache and diarrhea for the first week. I’m guessing the headache was from going cold-turkey off caffeinated beverages. It sucked, but I made it to Thanksgiving. I didn’t really spend any more time than usual praying or focusing on God during my fast. I think I just felt too emotionally spent. For me, making those thousand tiny decisions and day to walk past the doughnuts, cake, snacks, etc. that are always laying around in my office kitchen without indulging just wore me down. But it was good practice. Good practice saying NO to myself over and over and over. And I suppose that is the root of discipline.

The first week I was fasting I also had my yearly review at work. I expected it to go the same as last year. I’d be told I’m not focused enough and need to work on being appropriate at all times, then I’d get a tiny raise that is less than the cost of living increase. It went exactly as expected, except for one thing. My boss told me I was wasting my talent on his team, (the environment artists) and should work on my computer sculpting skills so I can move over to the creature artist team. He told me I should spend this time between projects to do that. Well, that’s exactly what I’ve been wanting to do for years, so I was more than happy to oblige. Now I don’t think there is any official communication between my boss and the creature artist team boss concerning an eventual transfer, but just getting the blessing to spend my time learning my dream job is so fantastic. So now suddenly I have no trouble focusing at work. (The main reason this blog has taken me 3 weeks to write.) I’m having so much fun doing just what I love and am passionate about. So my two-pronged attack on my discipline problem has been whittled down to a one-prong attack since my work discipline issue is currently gone. It’s great to feel like a good employee!

But regretfully, life can’t be all roses. After spending a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend with family we got a call from the only person who makes me feel physically ill. My ex wife is back from our blessed 5 month reprieve. She claimed to be living in some sort of clean-and-sober facility which sounds like a half-way house. I decided it would be easiest on everyone if we just stopped by for a few minutes on the way home from my parents, so she could get her “mommy” fix and leave us alone again for a while. So we did. I was a little confused about her living arrangement. I’ve been to post-drug treatment facilities before, and always had to go through some sort of check point or sign in, or something. Not here. She just answered the door. She showed me around and nothing looked too scary, so I sent the kids in while Heather and I waited in the car. 15 minutes later my oldest son comes out asking if they can have ice cream. He’s been having a lot of stomach pain in the last month so we were keeping him off dairy to see if that helps. So I told him no. Two minutes later my ex comes stomping out and argues with us about giving him ice cream. It ended with a nasty exchange, and we went our way a minute later. Well that was almost two weeks ago and we haven’t heard back from her. We are really hoping it stays that way for the holidays. I always pray that she will be healed quickly and permanently for the sake of my boys. But sadly this process is dragging on and on.

Speaking of dragging on, my poor, poor wife is still going through almost constant excruciating pain. She saw a naturopathic doctor (Since none of the real doctors she saw has been able to help.) a while ago who drew her blood and tested her levels and such. They gave her a bunch of various pills for her various ailments, and it seemed like her headaches were dropping to half the severity of before. But not anymore. Compounding this problem is our upstairs “neighbors”. I put that in quotes because it seems like no one really lives there. Different people just come and go throughout the day. There are always different cars in their spots. Heather has been so exhausted she has been wanting to take naps, but there is almost always pounding, walking, grinding, creaking noises coming from the bedroom above ours that prevents her from being able to sleep. Heather was talking to the people who live below us and they said they were pretty sure the unit was used for prostitution. They have been living there a long time and have noted the strange behavior and going-ons. This didn’t make us very happy to hear. Heather spoke to the manager who was also suspicious. The owner of the unit doesn’t live there, and I guess there have been complaints before, but not enough to do anything about it.

The obvious problem with this situation is that it’s practically impossible to prove anything illegal is going on without some sort of full scale investigation. So we have just been very careful to keep our door locked and stuff. It seems to me that there are naturally other illegal activities that go along with prostitution. For all we know they might have a meth lab up there. The manager said she was going to do some research to see if she could find ads for the various covers that prostitutes use such as ‘massage’ or ‘escorts’, and cross-reference the phone numbers to the numbers she has on file for the ‘tenants’. But she seems to be taking her sweet time.

Then we had the most annoying night/morning ever last night/this morning. Starting at 2:30 and going until well after 5 a.m. the sounds of creaking, stomping, banging, etc. were going full force. We debated calling the police. It seems kind of… little... to call the police on neighbors without talking to them first though. After all, this whole whore house rumor could be just that: a rumor. I finally decided we should write them a note and put it on their door, telling them next time we would call the police.

Heather went to work early, and I fell back into a fitful sleep for an hour or two, dreaming about angry pimps accosting me and a big drill bit coming down through our bedroom ceiling.