Thursday, May 29, 2014

Guilt Trip

So, I remind my wife today about our trip to see an Indians game tomoroow night, which has been plabbed for over a month, special group price for my church, dollar hot dog night, etc. I'm kind of excited because I haven't been to a game for a couple uears and I LOVE baseball.

Here's what I get in return:

"You know they both have games [to play] scheduled, don't you? And your son doesn't have that many left. And if your daughter misses more than three, they won't let her play, and she's already missing two the week we go to the beach [the trip that I wasn't invited on], so she'll be at three and won't be able to miss any more."

So now I feel guilty for wanting to spend some time with my kids that I see, generally, one day a week. It's too much, I guess. I mean, they have stuff scheduled pretty much every day of the week, and when they don't, I'm usually at work.

I told her they can stay home if they want. I'll go by myself if I have to.

But I hope they want to go with me. :'(

Thursday, May 22, 2014


I don't usually write poetry, and for good reason : I'm kind of bad at it, sometimes intentionally so, but mostly not. But this one has been burning its way through me for a few days and I needed to get it out.
It actually does have a title, but I'm not keen to share it.

So anyway...

I found a box marked "Forever."
From inside, the sounds of Laughter
and Happiness.
But when I opened it,
There was Emptiness,
a nullity,
where beauty once had been.
The void reached out,
Lodged in my breast,

Anyway, that's where it ends. It seems like there should be more, but there's not. I don't know if there ever will be.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Something You Can't Unsee

I know this is from, like, two years ago, dude, but my daughter has just started singing it and it's driving me INSANE.
So I thought I'd spread the disease.

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful; Hate me because I caused you to see this.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Some People

In our lives, a lot of people drift in and out.

There are those who are there and gone without leaving much of an impression and make barely a ripple when they depart. 

There are those who have such a negative presence that we hope never to see them again, and maybe dream of letting them know how much they hurt us.

There are those who have a positive impact that come and go, having pleasant encounters from time to time, and not sweating the absences in between. 

Then there are those who come into our lives and shake our world to its foundation, then are gone, whether by choice or not, they leave open wounds in our souls that will not close, scars that refuse to heal. We are better for having had them in our lives and far worse for  their departure.

If you have one of these last, and you have the opportunity to let them know how much they meant to you, take it. It doesn't have to be a special occasion, a holiday, a birthday or even a half-birthday. If you can let them know, let them know.

I wish I could.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Music Time - Love Stinks - J Geils Band

Because I'm in a bad mood.

But it's still a great song.

But WOW is that video strange.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Yet Another Anniversary

It seems that as I get older, I have more anniversaries of dubious significance.

Today marks 21 years since I joined the Navy. If I hadn't been fat and lazy, I would have retired on this date last year.


Offensive (?) But Funny

I was at work tonight, doing lab tech things, and I accidentally hit the wrong button, which called up the result for a negative rotavirus test, which has mnemonic that caused a good deal of laughter, and not just because we were horribly tired.

What was the mnemonic?

Well, it was for a NEGative ROtavirus. I repeat, a NEGative ROtavirus.

That wouldn't have been offensive 50 years ago, but nowadays, in the Days of Constant Outrage? FUNNY!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bad Poetry Theatre

I went to look at some of the old bad poetry I had published, but it seems Very Bad Poetry dot org is no longer functioning.

So, when the urge to write really bad poetry strikes, I will have to inflict it upon those unlucky enough to stumble upon it here.

So, here goes:

Roses are gray.
Violets are also gray.
Pretty much everything is gray.
Being colorblind really sucks.


Another Anniversary

Today marks 17 years since I had a cigarette.

Well, a TOBACCO cigarette, anyway.

I was thinking of celebrating by shooting smack.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A True Story

This story is true.

My daughter threw a tantrum the other day. She's a little old for the kicking and screaming type tantrums, but she likes to argue with us, which I suppose is pretty normal. So, for forty-five minutes, we were treated to her arguments as to why she absolutely MUST have a hamster.

It started out simply enough: "Mom, dad, can I have a hamster?" To which we replied, of course, "No." (I say "of course" because, obviously, if we had said "yes," well: no story.)

We got crying, we got shouting, we got "I'm going to my room because you don't love me!" Of course, when you hear that, you know  the last place the kid is going to stay is in her room. She popped out and stood on the stairs just a few minutes later.

"Why can't I have a hamster?"

Well, you know, as I get older, I find that all the things that my parents did that annoyed the heck out of me are now things that I do that annoy the heck out of my kids. I don't know if my parents did them purposely to annoy me, like their parents did to them, but I know I do it a good portion of the time just to annoy my kids.

"Because I said so."

Well, that set off quite a storm. She asked my wife, "Why do you hate animals?" Of course, my wife DOESN'T hate animals and she noted that she had volunteered at an animal shelter when she was in school as proof. The reply: "Well, then you hate FUN! You're a FUN-HATING ANIMAL-HATER!"

How does one respond to that? One way NOT to is to break out in laughter, which is , of course, exactly what we did.

Never laugh at an angry 10-year-old girl.


"We don't need a hamster."

"We don't NEED a dog, but we HAVE a dog."

"Well, we already have her and we're not going to get rid of her."

"Well then, lets get a hamster, put in in a cage and put it in my room. Then I'll ask if I can have a hamster, you can say 'no' and I'll say 'But WE ALREADY HAVE ONE!'"

It's hard to refute that sort of argument and harder still to stop laughing, especially once you've already started.

So, like I said, this went on for about forty-five minutes. It was all highly entertaining. But it didn't end there. Oh, no.

The next morning, when I got up to go to work, there was a note taped to the bathroom door: "Buy me a hamster. OR ELSE." Which is a lot funnier than it sounds, because in her case, "OR ELSE" usually means "Or I will nag you incessantly until you give in." And she does, in entertaining ways.

So, when I finished in the bathroom, I went to collect my cell phone off the charger and when I checked to make sure it was fully charges, I saw the wallpaper had been changed to a screen shot of a Google search for "Hamster Pictures." So, every time I use my cell phone, she nags me for a hamster.

Then, yesterday, she said, "I can't wait for Easter." I asked her why. "Because that's when the Easter Bunny is bringing my hamster." This time, I looked her straight in the eye and told her "Ain't Happening." She looked a little sad, but then said. "Then maybe he could bring me a guitar." Which made me happy. Because that was, in fact, EXACTLY what the Easter Bunny was bringing her. Also because she's going to learn to play it, write her own songs and become rich and famous and take care of me in my old(er) age.

Anyway, a happy aside to the story is that the day after she argued so forcefully for a hamster, she came home with a report card that had 5 As out of 8 grades, which is pretty good. The other three were A-plusses, which are very hard to get (99-100%). Almost all her grades have gone up over the course of the year, including her math grade (98%), and she is reading 6 years ahead of her grade level.

I don't claim to be able to see the future, but something tells me that there might be a hamster in hers.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Cursing of the Fig Tree

I wrote an essay on this lesser known Gospel story, and thought I would share it here.

Now, I know that this weekend everybody is going to be talking about the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Atonement, but I thought I would talk about a much lesser known incident from that week that really doesn't get talked about all that much. In fact, I don't recall hearing about it until I actually sat down and read the Gospels myself, and then I was a little confused by it. I thought I might introduce it here, describe it briefly, introduce a couple explanations I think are...inelegant, if you will, then supply what I feel to be the most logical and satisfying reasoning.

There is, in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, an incident that really confused me, because it seemed out of place: While in Jerusalem during his last week, Christ is looking for some food when he comes upon a fig tree which has no fruit. He then proceeds to curse the fig tree and in short order, it withers and dies.

Now I don't know much about fig trees, but it seemed to me that this was a rather petulant response to not getting fed, especially since the tree was apparently out of season at the time. It didn't seem very Christ-like. So I proceeded to do a little research.

I found a number of things about fig trees, a number of rather unsatisfying answers, and one that feels just right.

Let's start with the fig trees. Apparently, fig trees put out little edible "pre-fruit" when the tree is in leaf, which this tree was. In addition, there is often edible fruit left hanging on the tree from the prior season, especially since figs are generally eaten dried, like raisins, only better. This tree had leaves, but no pre-fruit, nor did it have any of the last year's fruit still hanging. This indicates the tree was barren, giving no fruit the prior season, nor the season to come.

Now, I know that trees are pretty, and they give shade, and they release oxygen into the air, but in the context of this story, this particular tree was useless, unnecessary, except for the larger point for which Christ was going to use it.

The first of the unsatisfying answers has to do with the tree being a a warning to the Nation of Israel. You can find many of these online, most of which have to do with the warnings that Christ gave to the Pharisees earlier in His ministry. The idea is that since Israel had failed to follow Him, it was doomed to wither and die. The problem with this is that there is nothing in the syurrounding text that would support this as the reason He had in mind at the time. It's inelegant and unsatisfying.

The second answer that I found unsatisfying is that this was a warning to the Apostles that THEY should be fruitful or face His wrath. I think this one doesn't hold up under any sort of smell test. It just doesn't FEEL right, does it? Christ threatening the Apostles to bear fruit or He'd wither them? At this point, it seems that, even if they weren't sure of the details, the Apostles were pretty set as far as what they would be doing and how they would be doing it. In addition, they did what they did out of love for Christ, not because they had been threatened to or else.

Like I said, not very satisfying.

In the end, the real answer came, once again, almost as a throwaway in Talmadge's Jesus the Christ. He really didn't spend a whole lot of time on it, but a little reflection and prayer will allow one to see how monumental this Truth really is.

Throughout all the Gospels, in His earthly ministry, Christ performed many miracles, each and every one BUT ONE an act of healing or other benefit, such as turning water to wine. The Cursing of the Fig Tree is the one miracle that had a negative outcome for the subject it was performed on.  Why?

We see numerous occasions of Christ laying on hands to heal the sick, the crippled, the blind, the lame. There is more than one occasion on which He raised the dead, the most notable being His friend Lazarus, who was restored to life after three days in the grave.

On this one occasion, Christ showed that He not only held the power to bestow good health and life in His hands, but the power to destroy and cause death.

Why is this important? Because in the context of the story of His life, this comes right at the end. almost immediately prior to all the bad stuff. Everything that comes after: The Betrayal, The Trials, The Scourging, The Humiliation, The Crucifixion, all of it could have been stopped by Him at any point. He could have looked at Herod: DEAD. Pilate: DEAD, the Pharisees: DEAD, Judas Iscariot: DEAD. Yet he chose to allow them to do what they did to Him. Nothing that was done to Him was done without His consent. It doesn't make the actions of those involved any less terrible, but He allowed to happen that which had to happen, in order to further the plan of His Heavenly Father.

So, this weekend, as you consider the events of nearly 2000 years ago, reflect on the fact that the Man who suffered and died for your sins could have stopped the proceedings at any time. This was not a stone set in motion, rolling downhill, picking up speed to become unstoppable: It was a preplanned, preordained, foretold occurrence that could nonetheless have been stopped at any moment by the Subject at the center of the storm.

Why did He do it? To pay the ransom for the sins of all those who would believe in Him. It is humbling to believe that He cares enough about me to do that. Do you believe you are worthy of His sacrifice? In all honesty, I don't understand how I could be, but He believes I am, and that is all that matters.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Six Months

Six months to the day since the worst day of my life.

I'd had plenty of bad days prior, but nothing that hit me with the same force and power, and nothing that has ever wounded me so deeply.

It would be no exaggeration to say I have not had a good day since. I have had some good moments, but I can't point to any stretch of more than a couple of hours that I have felt good, nor can I say that, even during those times, I was happy.

I hurt now even worse than I did then. The pain is not as sharp, but it is pervasive and consuming. It's an open, festering wound for which I have no treatment or painkiller.

I have tried counseling. I have tried medication. I have tried prayer.

I have fallen into despair and feel no hope that I will ever come back out. I have said it before, I am convinced that this is the new normal for me. There is no getting better: From here on out, this IS better.

Nothing I used to do is any help. Reading is hard. It's difficult to write. I can barely even walk anymore.

I thought I was going to die that day. I think my doctor thought so, too. Of course, lying there twitching on his office floor might have give him that impression.

I wish I had.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Song for Passover

At Sunset tonight, Passover week begins. It's the holiest week of both the Jewish and Christian calendars.
All that notwithstanding, I thought I'd share a song about the original Passover, told from the point of view of the Angel of Death.

You have to wonder how many of those metalheads know they're thrashing to a Bible story.

Monday, April 7, 2014


Not all that long ago, I considered myself to be someone whose "Faith circuit" was "broken." I knew all the words, I understood the concepts, I even sort of believed them to be true, but I couldn't FEEL that truth. I could see people all around me who had that assurance with them, that knowledge that something they couldn't prove was nonetheless true. I didn't understand how to get from where I was to where they were. But I wanted to get there.

Then, last Easter, I was at a Catholic Mass with my family, and I actually had a little epiphany during the homily, which is not something that had really ever happened before. I don't recall the point that was being made, but I do recall the point that I received. The topic was the Resurrection, when the women went to the tomb of Christ to anoint His body.

It struck me like a bolt of lightning: THEY WERE THERE TO ANOINT HIS BODY! The women who had followed him for years and who were as close as almost anyone EXPECTED TO FIND HIM DEAD!

A little more research shows that the Apostles themselves were stunned to find the body gone. They had traveled with Him, learned from Him, were expected to carry His church to the people. He had TOLD them that He would rise from the dead. But they didn't comprehend and had trouble believing it even when it happened. They didn't have faith in His words, those who had been closest to Him.

I wasn't broken, I was NORMAL!

So, about that time, I started studying the Book of Mormon. I was a bit incredulous to the idea that God could perform miracle after miracle for the family of Lehi, and then his descendants, and a short time later, they were back to their old, sinful ways. It seemed that the turn-around time between sinful to saintly to sinful was WAY too short. On their ocean voyage alone, it seemed they rebelled against God about a hundred times. How could He save them again and again, and yet they turn their backs on Him every time?

It cast a doubt over the whole Book of Mormon for me.

Then I read the Bible. Ever read it? It's jammed full of stories of people who have seen miracles and yet can't seem to stay faithful. Don't believe it? Let's start with Adam and Eve: They walked and talked with God in the Garden, and yet still managed to disobey and eat the forbidden fruit. (And that's actually a good thing, but that's a topic for another day).

Within just a few generations, the people of the world turned to idolatry and sin. The Book of Genesis is packed with this. Then we get to Moses and the Hebrews in Egypt. The people saw the works of God employed to free them from 400 years of slavery, saw the Angel of Death Pass Over their houses on the way to kill the firstborn of Egypt, followed a COLUMN OF FIRE through the desert, saw the Red Sea parted, ate Manna from Heaven...Need I go on? So, Moses goes up onto the mountain and within a few days, they're all, "You know what could really help us now? A golden calf to worship!"


All through the historical books of the Bible, the Kings of Israel and Judea fall far from perfection. They are told what to do and how they should do it, and yet, despite being Chosen of God, they fail and fail again. These are people who should have known better, who witnessed miracles, who spoke to God Himself, in ways that have been mostly lost to us. What possible chance do we have? If they couldn't keep faith, how could it possibly be expected of us?

Then we get to the New Testament.

The New Testament is all about faith and finding our way back to our Heavenly Father. There is an analogy used numerous times throughout the Gospels of having "Faith as a mustard seed." The mustard seed, apparently, though quite small, produces a tree that is quite out of proportion when considering the size of other seeds to the respective trees they produce. The generally accepted interpretations of this analogy are that 1). If you start with a little faith, it will grow larger, and 2). That even a little faith will allow you to move mountains.

I think this there's a somewhat deeper interpretation as well.

Let me first note that faith is often referred to as a "Gift from God," which seems a little odd. In order to believe in God, I first have to receive a gift from Him? One sort of presupposes the other, doesn't it? I mean, if you don't believe in God, then how are you going to believe a gift is from Him?

I think we could combine these two concepts and expand them into a larger analogy, say a garden, or gardening, anyway. We, as Mormons, believe the Law of Christ is written on the hearts of men. This is the little voice, the conscience that we all hear that tells us when we're transgressing. It's also that need that pretty much everybody feels to find some larger meaning, to have, as the song says, "Something to Believe In."

This is the Mustard Seed, and it is a gift from God, whether we choose to accept that or not. But it's not the only gift.

With that seed comes a contract from our Heavenly Father: If you plant that seed, he will cause it to sprout and grow. In return, we need to feed the plant that springs from it, actively care for it and nurture it. As we tend to our seedling, he will cause it to grow into a tree that will bear fruit that will not only sustain us, but help to nourish those around us. But we need to take care of that seed, lest it wilt or be taken by weeds.

How do we plant the seed? It's really simple: We pray. We ask Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, to give us faith, to show us His mercy and love. And He will. It is His promise to us.

There is a story in the one of the Gospels, where a man asks Jesus to heal his son, and Jesus says that all he has to do is BELIEVE. The man says, "I believe, Lord. Help me with my unbelief." This sounds like he's contradicting himself, but it's really pretty simple: He had planted that seed, and was asking for growth. He was saying that he, essentially, believed that Jesus was who He said He was, but that he needed assistance to allow that seedling to take root and grow.

I know from experience how hard it is to pray to a God you're not really sure you believe in. I spent better than forty years being one step up from an agnostic. I believed in a Creator, intelligent design, call it what you will, (the idea of a universe springing into existence by happenstance was and is too far-fetched for me to take seriously) but the idea of a Father in Heaven who cared for me personally and listened to my words was just not something I could accept as true.

I had prayed a number of times before, in a way. I had memorized a bunch of prayers from growing up Catholic, and who hasn't asked for help in some tight spot or another? But the idea of an actual conversation taking place between God and myself was just asking too much. But then, last year, I started receiving responses. And not just vague impressions days later: I would pray for enlightenment on a particular passage in Scripture, and the answer would come to me almost immediately. And when I would ask others about that response, it turned out they were getting the same answers, as well.

I opened my mind little by little to the possibilities and knowledge and information started flooding in. And the more I learned, the more I read and studied, which is the tending of that little seedling of faith. We read Scriptures and study the teachings of those who have gone before us in order to water that sprout and make it grow strong. The combination of reading and praying allows us to grow our tree tall and fruitful, with deep roots.

But just because we have faith doesn't mean we won't falter at times. Life is hard, even with faith. And we see through Scriptures that the faith of some of the wisest and most favored of God has failed time and again. We learn through the Parable of the Prodigal Son that God KNOWS that we will waver and fall, but that if we come back to him in a spirit of true repentance, with honest intention to make amends, He will welcome us back with honor and grace. We also learn from the faithful older brother that we should welcome our fallen brothers and sisters back in the same manner.

And here is a promise that I feel absolutely confident in making: Find a Mormon meetinghouse, attend a Sacrament meeting. The people there WILL welcome as a lost brother or sister. Talk with them, talk with the missionaries. It will be a rewarding and enlightening experience, if you open your heart to it.

Here's a mind-blowing thought: When the father in the parable speaks of his son returning from the dead, he's speaking in hyperbole. But when the symbolism is stripped away and the example is applied to the reality of Heavenly Father, it is the literal Truth.

So, we can see that faith isn't just something that you either have or don't, or even something that is constant in our lives. Everybody, even those who grow up in the church, even those who are in the highest positions of leadership, that everybody else looks to for guidance, ALL of them have moments of doubt. Bu we persevere and with the aid and comfort of the Holy Ghost, we come out on the other side stronger and wiser.

If you feel like you're lacking something, if your life needs meaning, if you want to know WHY, you're not alone. But there's a way out, a way to gain insight and knowledge, a way to find purpose.

All you have to do is ask.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Day It Died

Today is another one of those new anniversaries that have come to symbolize the disaster my life has become. It's been one year since my marriage died. I know that it's not officially over, but in realiry, most of what has occurred over the past year has been like the the final twitches of someone newly deceased, where the some parts of the bidy haven't quite realized that the others have ceased functioning.

A year ago, today, my wife pushed me away and told me she needed some space. We had both been in a downward spiral and I was trying to take advantage of a manic moment in my emotions to help bring her to a better place, where we could maybe stabilize each other in a better place.

She thought I was simply acting out of guilt.

Over the course of the next couple days, what had been a gentle nudge for space became a figurative slap in the face, then a punch in the gut. She treated me as though I was a disgusting worm, worthy of no more consideration than would be afforded such. Our counseling sessions deteriorated to shoutiung matches before ending entirely.

I can count the number of times we've touched, even just a hug, on my fingers. The few attempts at anything more have felt more like teenagers groping in the back seat of the old man's car than a married couple with respect and feelings for each other. They just felt WRONG.

And for the life of me, I can't see any way back to where we were. I don't see how it can ever be or feel right again. And after all the venom and hatred that have been thrown at me over the past year, in all honesty, I can't really say that I want to go back.

Just the other day she decided we needed to "talk." She talked about how the DVD on our anniversary was an "olive branch" and that she was disappointed that I hadn't really responded to it. My only reply to that was that my letter of five months ago was an olive branch as well, and the response to that was pretty much apathy. She said she didn't know what she wanted at that point and I said I had waited for months and then moved on.

My marriage is dead. It just hasn't been interred yet.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Recommended Reading

I think I stated a while back that when I first saw a picture of my friend Abby, she looked exactly like the mental picture I had of the heroine of a book I was reading, called The Hangman's Daughter.

Well, that book and it's three sequels, which are all worth a read, are on sale at $1.99 each for the Kindle at Amazon. They are set in mid-17th century Bavaria and are highly entertaining. They aren't exactly historical fiction, but they are set in real places and the main characters were real people; Ancestors of the author, in fact, though the stories themselves are entirely fictional.

So read up!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I spoke with my oldest son on Sunday for the first time in 14 years. He'll be 21 this fall.

It seemed to go well and I sent him a Facebook friend request.

If my recent history is any indication, tomorrow is the day I should hear from the police, telling me never to speak with him again.

So, failing that, I should be okay.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

How It Feels

I've mentioned before that I struggle with depression. I found these pictures and illustrations that describe how I feel all day, pretty much every day. They say it more eloquently than I ever could.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Applying Myself

Well, as per my last post, I have officially applied for an out-of-state position, or in this case, positions. The Air Force needs civilians in their hospitals in case the active duty airmen get mobilized. This happens in many military hospitals across all branches; it's not just an Air Force thing.

So, if you're in a praying mood and you have the time and inclination to say one for me, I would truly appreciate it. The positions I am most hoping for are in Mountain Home, Idaho and Ogden, Utah. After that, I would really like any of the Gulf States, and beyond that, pretty much any well-paying position would do. I would even take North Dakota, which gets lots of snow, which is something I am inordinately not fond of.   (I know Idaho and Utah get snow, too, but they have something else: Big mountains. I love the mountains, and would suffer the snow to have the high places.)

Anyway, thanks in advance for putting in a word for me.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Well, anniversary number 20 today. The last year was not good, so I'm not feeling particularly celebratey today. In fact, I'm not feeling celebratey at all.

I hate to seem materialistic and greedy, but as I said earlier this year, it's the thought that counts. When someone doesn't even bother to get you something for Christmas, They're either not thinking of you, or they're not thinking well of you.  I knew I would not be buying a Valentine's Day gift or an anniversary gift at that point, though I was open to change my mind if circumstances warranted, which they, in the end, did not.

I noted a while back that she had said she got me something that required a "lot of thought." I guess I got my hopes up that there would be something that would promote a healing and regeneration of a relationship that has atrophied significantly over the past year and a half. Maybe something that would say, "Let's go forward together."

What she got was a DVD of a Dana Carvey HBO special that we used to watch on Comedy Central, years ago when we were in California. We watched it again and again and it was funny every time, which was good, because they played it about 12 times a week. So, instead of "Let's go forward together," I got, "Remember when things didn't suck?"

Truth be told, what I really wanted was simply a card that said something to the effect of, "I know it's been a rough year, but I really want to fix this. Please don't expect me to convert to your new church, but I will try my best to learn about it so I can understand the new person you've become and be part of your life in the future."

Instead, a gift that said, "It was long ago, it was far away and it was so much better than it is today."

I had been putting off applying for those out of state positions in the hopes I could complete a Hail Mary.

No more.

Getting Old

Today was my first full day with my bifocals. I'm feeling a little down that after wearing glasses for almost thirty years, I have to learn to do it differently. And the thought that half the world will always be blurry and out of focus if bringing me down even more.

And today is my 20th wedding anniversary. I'm surprised we made it through the last year. I will be even more surprised if we make it through the next.

I am deep in debt, working two dead-end jobs and wanting to be somewhere else, almost ANYWHERE else, than Northeast Ohio.

Am I having a mid-life crisis? It's a little late for that, unless I intend to live unto my nineties, which I don't. Mid-life for me was ten years ago, tops. I'm not just over the hill, I'm speeding into the Valley, and I lost any interest in the journey months ago.

Getting old sucks.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sacrament - Some Thoughts

So, I have to teach a class on the Sacrament at church on Sunday. This is what Catholics call Holy Communion, and I'm sure other denominations have their own names for it, or use some variation on these. It is the bread and wine (or water) taken on Sunday to commemorate the Last Supper, in case you didn't know. I was reading through the material that I'm supposed to be teaching from, and it occurred to me that it somewhat incomplete. I mean, it's not supposed to be comprehensive or anything, just the thoughts and teachings of one man (Joseph F. Smith) on the subject, a hundred years ago or so. I think this might be a good opportunity to delve a little deeper into the history and symbolism and get a larger picture, because, as important as President Smith thought it is, the teachings seem to only scratch the surface of what it is all about.

Of course, maybe this is stuff everyone already know and I'm just late to the party, but then again, it never hurts to review important material.


The story of the Sacrament doesn't begin with Christ at all, or rather it does, but it predates His earthly ministry by several thousand years, with Adam and Eve and their sons. We know from the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis that sacrifice was a requirement even when mankind was young. There is no buildup to the concept in Genesis, it is just presented as though everyone knew about it and accepted it as normal and natural, even to the very first humans on the planet.

Sacrifice required that the best of a crop or litter be given, thus, while Abel ws much loved of God for giving the best of his lambs, Cain found much less favor for giving lesser quality items from his crops. This story, as we know, ended badly.

Forward a few millenia to the time of Moses. We all know the story of the plagues sent to convince Pharoah to Let Moses's People Go. The last one, the Killing of the Firstborn, required the Hebrews to sacrifice a lamb and paint the door frame with its blood, so the Angel of Death would know which houses to pass over. This became, of course, the first Passover, which Jewish people still celebrate today.

After the people were freed from Egypt, they went into the desert where Moses was given the laws that they were to follow. These are in detail in the Old Testament books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and include many, MANY instructions on sacrifice, including what constiutes a sacrifice, how it should be sacrificed, and who should perform the rites. This was the Tribe of Levi, the Levites, headed by Moses' brother Aaron, the namesake of the Aaronic Priesthood.

What I didn't know before, and I suspect a lot of people probably still don't, is that the sacrifices that were made were not just thrown to rot, or buried away: They were eaten, usually by the priests. There is a lot of sacrificing in these books, and I can't help but wonder how the priests managed to eat so much. You could say that the rituals and prayers would fill a book, and they pretty much do.

There were a lot of other sacrifices to be made by the people at various times throughout the year, but the most prominent was the  Passover, which commemorated the first in Egypt. There were a bunch of ceremonial things that were written for the people to say and do, one of which was to sacrifice a lamb for the Passover dinner, which was then eaten. This is important.

One important rule to remember is this from Leviticus: The eating or drinking of the blood of any animal was forbidden, as the life of the animal is in the blood. The Blood is the Life. Remember this, and remember that it was forbidden.

So, now jump forward about 1400 years to the time of Christ. What we call Good Friday today, the day Christ was crucified, was the day on which Passover fell in that year. So, Christ, who, as we know, was and is referred to as the Lamb of God, was sacrificed by his father (remember the story of Abraham and Isaac?) on Passover.

The night before, at the Last Supper, Christ gave instructions concerning the Sacrament: the bread was His body, which was eaten by the Apostles, the wine His blood. So, four thousand years of sacrifice culminates in the Sacrifice of Christ as the Passover Lamb of God. All history to this point foreshadows this event.

And remember, blood was forbidden to be ingested, because the Blood is the Life? By taking in the water used in the Sacrament, we are symbolically taking into ourselves the Life of Christ. To drink the life of a living being is death; to drink the Life of Christ is Life Everlasting. We are making the commitment and covenant to live as He would have us lived and to try to live as He Himself did live.
When we partake of the Sacrament in Sacrament meeting each week, we are not just renewing our covenants and remembering the Atonement of Christ, we are recreating the Last Passover, in which the Blood of the Lamb was shed for us, that the Angel of Death would pass over our house for all eternity, if only we will believe in Christ and do as He asks us.

A Quick Update

In the last post, I discussed adultery and apostasy, and wondered if a change in religion during a marriage mihgt not be considered grounds to dissolve that marriage.

So, since I've been going to church, it seems that almost everything I read or hear is meant for the time that I read or hear it. So, today, two days after I wrote that, I'm reading Chapter 17 of Jesus the Christ, by James E. Talmadge. (That link is to a free copy at There is a 99 cent on available at Amazon, with somewhat better formatting.) In this chapter, he discusses some of the teachings of Christ, and defines adultery as "infidelity to marriage vows."

I find this interesting. I don't know of an explicit vow in any ceremony that says, "I promise not to abouse you," but I think it is fairly implied. It is certainly a breech of trust. I have to say, I know God loves us, and He has given us the right to self-defense. If someone is in an abusive marriage, sometimes the only way they can defend themselves is by getting out. The vows usually include "love, honor and cherish (or obey for you old schoolers)," and I don't see abuse as having anything to do with ANY of those."

If you are in an abusive marriage, it seems to me, you have the God-given right to get out of it.

P.S. I know it seems I've been reading that book forever, but it's only been a couple months, and I have had a number of other things I have had to read at the same time.

P.P.S. I have a topic for my first teaching assignemnt on Sunday: Chapter 6 of the Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith, about the Sacrament. I think I will try to detail the history from Adam to Christ, as I think the historical baclground makes the ceremony even more meaningful. I will try to write something up to put here as I get my thoughts together.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Thoughts on Apostasy and Adultery

I've been thinking a lot lately, which sort of happens when no one else really wants to talk to you.

I read the Bible last summer. Not parts of it: The whole thing, from cover to cover. Something struck me throughout the Old Testament. The people would always manage to get themselves in trouble, then they would call on God, "Hey, God! We could use a little help over here right about now!"

God, being Good, would give them a Hand, then tell them, "You know, if you want to avoid these sticky situations, I've got some rules for you. You just have to listen to them and obey me."

Then the people would say, "Sure, God, whatever you say." Then not too much later they're going, "What has God done for us lately? What could he do that a really nifty golden calf couldn't." Then the same old stuff happens again and they are crying. "Help us, God! We'll be good! This time for sure!"

It got to the point where God called the people of Israel "An Adulterous Woman," implying that He was the Husband, or the Bridegroom, as Christ later calls himself.

This got me to thinking: When Christ discusses divorce in the Gospels, He says that it should only be under cause of adultery. This is later contradicted by the Apostle Paul, who says that a believeng spouse should allow a nonbelieving spouse to go, if that is their choice. I think that when Christ is talking about adultery, he may be discussing it in the traditional sense, but I have a strong suspicion that there is another layer there: I think that the equation of adultery and apostasy in the Old Testament should be carried into the New.

If a spouse goes away from the church, it is then permissible for them to divorce, under New Testament laws. There are a couple of places in the New Testament where Christ Himself says that they are blessed who have lost their spouses in order to follow him, implying that that is, in itself, sufficient reason to allow a dissolution.

More than that, I think an abusive spouse is breaking the marriage covenant via the abuse. Breaking that covenant should allow the abused spouse to render it null and void. The abuser has made a promise not only to his spouse, but to Christ, and has broken it. Could that be considered apostasy? I suspect it could and should be, which would then render it fit grounds for the abused to negate that contract.

I know  Christ loves us, and if we are to be sealed to someone for all eternity, would he really want us to remain with someone who abuses and despises us? Or who thinks our church and religion are stupid and wrong?


I had an insight the other night, about submission. Not the naughty kind, the spiritual kind.

Submission is from the Latin sub meaning under, and mitto meaning to put or place. In essence, submission is placing oneself under the authority of another.

Often, the word is used to imply that someone is being subjugated by another, that they are in a form of bondage or slavery. I don't think this is necessarily so. I tend to look at the family as a team, of a sort. The team needs a captain, and traditionally, this is the role given to the man of the house. Why? I don't know. It seems kind of arbitrary to me. But God often has his reasons, which are not always comprehensible to us.

In the Bible, there is the story of Abigail, a wise, beautiful, intelligent woman (much like my friend), who is married to Nabal, whose name means fool, which is a perfect descriptor. When she sees Nabal about to destroy his household through foolishness toward David, the future king of Israel, she goes behind his back and saves it for him. This is deemed by many to be the perfect act of submission, as she saved the life of her husband and his household, though it meant she would stilll be stuck with him. She looked after his interests without regard to her own. Of course, a few days later, God strikes Nabal dead and Abigail gets married to David (his second wife), but the point is still valid.

In my own opinion, the submission of one requires something of the one being submitted to, as well. It should not be used as a weapon against the submissive partner. The leader, for lack of a better term, should show repect and consideration and love, especially in a marrige situation. Remember, I said it was a team: Who wants to be part of a team when the captain is abusive and mean?

I think that there is a power to a woman who stays at home to raise her children: She has a great deal more influence over her children than does her husband, as she raises and nurtures them. Today, so many women want to think this job is unimportant or beneath them. I think otherwise, obviously.

There is an implicit covenant within the marriage contract that submission should not be taken as consent to be abused. A husband should be kind and generous and understand what his wife offers to the marriage is more than a hot meal, a clean house and a bed partner/baby incubator. A man who refuses to take into account his wife's knowledge and experience is failing to take full advantage of something he should prize above almost all else.

The insight I spoke of earlier was this: Submission is not weakness. In the military, the most senior enlisted man is subordinate to the most junior officer. He must submit to the orders of those above him. But while he is submitting to that officer, it does not indicate weakness: It indicates a chain of command. And if that officer is smart, she will understand the knowledge and experience of that enlisted man gives his words weight, and heed what he says.

I have more to say on this subject, but it's not fully incubated yet and I felt the need to get this out there now. Not sure why, but I felt I had to. I'll write more later...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Voice

 I said last time I wrote that I would say a little more about God talking to me, so here goes.
When I say this, I don't mean in the sense that He comes down and says, "Hey, how you doing?" and I respond with jaunty, "Hey, God! Good to see you again!" That would be kind of nifty, but it doesn't work that way. At least not in this life.

The Bible tells us that He will talk to us through visions and dream and a "small, still voice." Once we learn to recognize these for what they are, we can start to understand what He's trying to tell us. It's not always easy and what He tells us isn't always pleasant, but it's usually something that will help us.

I have had dreams that have had such a ring of truth that they stick with me for months, as though they had actually happened. There have been a few recently. I won't discuss them just yet, because even though they happened first, later events help to solidify their significance.

I have spoken before about the vision of Paradise that brought me to Christ and the Church, through a convoluted and difficult journey that still causes heartache.

What I want to talk about briefly is that small still voice. A lot of people call it the conscience, but it's not really that. It's much more complicated than that. It's that voice that tells you to do something out of you sphere of comfort. It's a sense of certainty of the correctness of something, regardless of what common sense and reason may seem to be telling you about that thing. It's an almost literal voice at times that says, "See! That's why I asked you to do that!"

I have an example of the latter.

When I first started going to my church, people would often bring up the subject of Tithing, which is giving a percentage of income to the church to do its work. Though it is commanded in Scripture, the people would speak of it as a Blessing, rather than a Burden, which seemed odd to me. Sometimes it seemed as though they were trying to convince THEMSELVES that it was a blessing. But mostly, it felt like they were talking to me. Trying to convice me that I ought to try it, as though it were some sort of expensive drug that didn't sure anything and didn't get you high. A bargain at any price, hey?

There is a Scriptural verse, Malachi 3:10, where God challenges us to test him; pay the tithe and see if you don't get more than paid back in full. As I continued investigating, I knew I wanted to join the church, but was still skeptical about the whole tithing thing. But, I was willing to give it a go.

Now, our family finances are often shaky, but I put a little aside each pay, waiting until I felt we were up to date on our bills and payday was close and then I gave a check. It wasn't a huge check, in the grand scheme of things, but to me, it was pretty big: the biggest check I'd ever written that wasn't to buy something for myself or my family. It felt good.

Four days later was payday, and four days after that, there was a total of $10 in our joint checking and savings accounts. And no food in the house.

Although we didn't know it at the time, my mother-in-law had sent a nice check to my wife earlier that morning, for reasons that are still unclear.

And the two days later, we received refund checks for overpayments to our retirement systems which we hadn't expected to receive for several more weeks.

Then, the morning after we received those checks, I was going through my "Important Papers Drawer, which I've gone through dozens of times over the last few years, and this time, an envelope of money fell out of the pile. One of my cousins had sent it years ago to help cover expenses after my stroke and in my confused state, I put it in the drawer and forgot about it. But it is amazing that through all those times I've been through that drawer it should have been right there on top when I needed it most.

But the kicker is this: The envelope contained the exact amount of my tithing check.

I felt an almost physical sense of "SEE!!" and was broght nearly to my knees.

God had spoken to me.

When we give God what he asks of us, he will, as Scripture says, give us far more than we give him. Far more than we are CAPABLE of giving him, even if we give him everything we are and do.

That is the small, still voice, though it isn't always so dramatic.

That Sunday in church, I shared my experience and far from being amazed, people were happy for me, as though NOW I was REALLY a member. When I remarked that that sort of thing doesn't generally happen to me, they told me to be ready for it to happen all the time.

In addition, the I had an understanding that I should go farther; to realize that money/time isn't the only thing that Heavenly Father will repay in kind, that sacrifice is not a loss to us, but a net gain. I understand this now, but my rational mind still sort of resists. He is not necessarily asking for more than I am willing to give, but the giving is going to be even more excrutiatingly painful than the last few months have been.

He wants everything I have and everything I am and I am afraid.

I'm going to end up giving it, willingly, but I am afraid.

I will talk more about that later, as well as how it all fits in with the dreams I've had.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Music Time: Suddenly Seymour - Little Shop of Horros

God has been talking to me a lot, lately. I'm trying to digest it all and figure out what it means. I suppose I will share it at some point. There is a lot going on, and I haven't been able to totally process the information. I've learned some strange things.

Anyway, Little Shop of Horrors was one of my favorite movies when I was younger, and I thought I would share this song, which states the simple fact that, much like threats to one;s very existence, salvation of a sort can come from the seemingly most innocent and unlikely of places.

Friday, February 28, 2014

R.I.P. Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson, one of my favorite comedians, died on Wednesday.

He was both outstanding and typical among comedians.

Outstanding because, even amongst other comedians he was unmistakable and unforgettable. He was a true headliner.

Typical because, like almost every stand-up comedian I have ever met, his on-stage persona was just that, a persona: He was a great guy.

I got to see him twice live. Unforgettable.

He was an outspoken Southern Baptist, as evidenced by his song, First Baptist Bar and Grill (Note: Couple naughty words)

Also: Church League Softball Fistfight.

He won over NASCAR fans with Jeff Gordon's Gay.

Also, the NASCAR Song, better known as Dale Daryl Waltrip Richard Petty  Rusty Awesome Bill Earvin Gordon Earnhardt Smith Johnson Jr.

Pretty much any parent can appreciate Chuck E. Cheese Hell.

My favorite, though, is Beer Belly Blues. Sort of a theme song of mine, at one point. Lost the beer, still have the belly.

Bonus: I Could Be Wrong  This is the censored version, which is the one I wanted, because it's funnier that way. Unfortunately the guy who posted it decided to fill in the blanks when he was captioning, so if you don't like that, don't read them.

R.I.P. Mr. Wilson.


Finding myself in a downturn again.
I miss my friend, Abby.

I wish I were getting better, but I'm not. I'm getting worse. I feel as though all the oxygen has been taken from me, like I'm in a candle jar. Each day, I feel as though my flame has dimmed a little, slowly being extinguished by a lack of air.

My health is declining, while my weight continues to rise. At one point, I would walk five miles as a warmup and now I struggle through one. By half a mile, I feel like dropping and the only thing that keeps me from quitting is, well, being half a mile from home.

She used to tell me she loved my words, and now I can hardly put anything in writing. I've not written anything funny in ages. There's no funny left in me. I can't muster sufficient energy for a rant.

Does the oxygen thing seem melodramatic? On the day our friendship was severed, I was literally floored. I couldn't stand up or breathe. My doctor almost called the squad. I fell several times. He also nearly sent me for a three day supervised vacation. He would have if I hadn't lied to him. I've been lying ever since.

I've never hurt so bad for so long. Every day is agonizing. I can't even paint on a happy face anymore.

I can't write the whole story of that day yet. I will. But not now. In a few months. I have the day picked out.

After that, nothing.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

How it feels

This is the way life feels to me, inside, pretty much every day:

But for me, there's no Miracle Max. No Fezzik. No Inigo Montoya. No princess.

I don't even have any change in my pockets.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Big Fight

Somehow, we blew through an entire paycheck in 5 days.

There's no  money in the bank. No gas in my car, No food in the house.

Money spent on garbage. Thrown away.

$130 dollars a month increase on my healthcare thanks to Obamacare.

I took a second job to try to start getting ahead, or at least stay even.

Now, I'm just trying not to fall behind a little slower.

The confrontation on this was not pretty. I still can't figure out how $50 at the grocery store turns into exactly no food.

I'm not perfect, but I'm trying.

Please God, I know you're out there. I can't do this alone.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

An Oddity

My wife recently dropped a hint that she had a gift of some sort for me. It came as a mild surprise as she didn't bother getting me anything for Valentine's Day. Or Christmas. Or my birthday.

All she would say was it "took a lot of thought" and that it would have to wait until the kids weren't around.

Please don't let it be "naughty." Please.

But it usually is.

I can only think of two things that I would like to receive from her at this point, and as I suspect neither of them is any more likely to occur than me winning the lottery during a full solar eclipse during a full moon, I guess I'm going to have to practice pasting on a smiley-face and pretend to be happy while silently hoping for a bullet to the brain.

Okay, THREE things she could possibly give me...still not very likely.

My Hot Date

Not really.
I had a "date" with my daughter on Saturday night, to the father-daughter sance that her school holds each February.

We went to the Japanese steakhouse for dinner, then to the dance. She was all dressed up in a new dress, with a corsage that matched, and jewelry she had made herself. She had her hair done and really looked even prettier than she normally does.

This year, she kept telling me how sad she was that she missed dancing with me last year, which is odd because she didn't say a word about it until about the last two weeks or so. But this time she made a point out of making sure we danced.

In fact, before the last dance of the night, a few members of her softball team from last summer called her and said they were all having a team picture taken, so come on. She told them that they would either have to wait until the dance was over, or take the picture without her.

It was sweet.

All in all, on of the few happy times I've had in the past four or five months. When I look back, I can't think of a single day since at least October of which I could say, "That was a good day." I get a moment here and there, occasionally string a couple of hours together, but this was probably the longest consecutive stretch I've had in ages.

I'll have to make sure I can get back for these dances after I move away.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I'd Watch THIS

I haven't been watching the Olympics much. I mean, beside the fact that I watch as little NBC as possible, how many times can you watch people doing the exact same thing over and over and over again? And, of course, the Olympics over the past three or four cycles have added some of the "extreme" sports that the X-Games had already rendered stale and unwatchable.

Even skating. If it weren't for cute young girls in very tight, very short skirts? Boring.

But THIS? This I'd watch:


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Another One of Those Mornings

Got up to get the kids off to school today.

They had five days off, of which I got got to spend about 6 hours with them.

So, of course, at 755, waiting for the 815 bus is, naturally the time to tell me, " I have no clothes to wear to school. I have no lunch money. I can't find my library books. I need my homework signed."

Looks like there was a store run over the weekend, too, as I found a loaf of bread. Probably convenience store bread, which is, what, three dollars a loaf now? That's actually cheap, as that same loaf would have cost about $40 at the grocery store after you factor in junk food and a bag of apples (gotta eat healthy).

I only work six nights a week. I guess it's fair that I do most of the housework, laundry and shopping as well.

That TV ain't gonna watch itself.

An Odd Thought

So, I've been doing some family history work. I think I said that earlier. I am five generations back on one side and three on another, and I have yet to start the other two.

Wait? Four sides?

Yep. I was adopted, which means I have four different parents to research. Which leads to my odd thought: Since the adoption agency tried to keep children with parents of similar ethnicity, and since they seem to have done a pretty good job matching, with one parent from each side matching pretty closely a parent from the other, there is a pretty good chance that by the time I get a couple more generations back, I will find a common ancestor.

I will be something like my own sixteenth cousin, twenty times removed, or something like that. Not quite my own grandpa, but still that's going to be an amusing moment.

Interestingly, since I am doing it for religious reasons, I found my dad's grandparents on his father's side have already had some of the work started for them. There is still stuff to be done, but it's kind of neat to see that someone was already thinking of them.

I think it's kind of romantic: My great-grandparents, married in 1894, finally receiving a sealing in Paradise in the last year or two, with the opportunity to spend eternity together. There is a whole lot more work waiting. I have so much to do.

Monday, February 17, 2014

On a Lighter Note

Yesterday, I was informed of my first church calling: I'm going to be teaching the Elder's Quorum for one Sunday a month. It may not seem like much, but my heart is in my throat.

I went from a guy four years ago who thought his "faith" part of his brain was broken to a guy who had no church a year ago to a guy who will have the opportunity to actually lead.

They didn't put me in charge of, I don't know, making sure the bread is ready to go, or filling the cups with water: They gave me a full 25% of their learning time. That's a HUGE responsibility to me, and I will work hard to live up to it.

It's an amazing journey, one that I thought I would never make.

I thought I would share this here because it's so different from all the bad stuff that's happened to me lately, my family is antagonistic to my church activities (I can actually hear my wife sneer every time I bring it up), and I have no friends left, so I decided to throw it out into the æther.

I can't believe I've gone from someone with little or no faith at all to someone with a good deal of faith who will lead. Maybe God DOES have something in mind for me.

Love Stinks

Well, I decided to ask my wife to go out this past Saturday. I got two free tickets to the Improv, which is cool, because it makes it that much easier to afford dinner, which is not cheap there.

We drove all the way there, sat around before the show and chatted, had a nice dinner (steak for her, ahi tacos for me), dessert (Funnel Cake fries, which would just as awesome as they sound), drinks in glasses we got to keep (non-alcoholic, thank you), and enjoyed two solid hours of comedy (Bill Crawford was the featured act, Steve Byrne from Sullivan and Son was the headliner). All told, about a hundred bucks, which is a bit pricey, but, hey, Valentine's Day weekend.

So, we got home and I was expecting her to run right off to bed, as she had to be up for work in just a few hours, which she did. She got in the house and said, "Well, that was fun," and ran off to bed.

I wasn't expecting anything, really. No Quid Pro Quo, Clarice, or anything. But a "thank you" would have been nice.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Music Time : Down & Funky - Don "No Soul" Simmons

I heard David Alan Grier on the radio the other day, and it reminded me of one of the greatest pair of sketches in the history of comedy.

For your convenience, both are included on one handy-dandy video.

I know it says "Music Time." Trust me.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day Recap

Had a nice Valentine's Day:

Had a nice, romantic, candlelit dinner for two.

Took a long walk by the light of the full moon.

Made mad, passionate love not once, but several times.

Just wish I'd had someone to share it with.

Friday, February 14, 2014


I had a discussion months ago with Abigail about the concept of forgiveness. I believed it was a two-way street, that in order to forgive someone, that that person first had to be remorseful for their transgressions. She believed that this was not so; that Scriptures require us to forgive someone even if they don't ask us for forgiveness. She was right, as usual.

In the New Testament, there are numerous discussions of forgiveness. We are supposed to forgive any transgression, as many times as necessary, even "unto seven times seventy times."  Even if the person doesn't ask for our forgiveness.

I'm unclear as to some of the specifics, though. Even of we forgive, are we to roll over every time the transgressor hurts us? That doesn't make sense. It seems to me that with unlimited, unconditional forgiveness, we simply give an abuser license to abuse us. There seems to be an implication that there can be a last time to forgive, a 491st transgression, if you will.

Or perhaps, that we have the right to remove ourselves from the presence of the transgressor. You may forgive someone who abuses you, but if you stick around, you have to expect to be doing a lot more forgiveness, as an abuser will take it as consent.

I say all this because I received an apology note from my wife for picking a fight on Wednesday night. I can forgive that. I have before. But there is a fundamental disagreement, an underlying argument that is irreconcilable. I don't see any way to work around it. Every time I want to talk about anything  even remotely related, no matter how peripherally, she reacts with instinctive hatred and animosity. So, I have to tiptoe around a subject that has become central to my life for fear of provoking an angry reaction.

It's not fair to me and it's not fair to her. If she's going to have the opportunity to learn what I have learned and experience what I have experienced, it will necessarily have to be without me: My presence will prejudice her against acceptance. If I'm around, she will never accept and the conflict will make everyone around miserable.

We were always friends, which I think was a strength of our relationship.We enjoyed doing things together, going places, seeing movies and plays, amusement parks, hiking. Tomorrow night, I got free tickets to the Improv; We'll go and have dinner and maybe laugh out loud. But I think our spiritual journey, the most important of all our travels together, is likely coming to an end. I've gone someplace where she refuses to follow, and to go back would be to turn my back on God. I have work to do here, and she doesn't want to be a part of it, resents the need I feel to do that work.

I'll forgive her for that, but like I said before, the chasm between us has likely grown too wide and deep to be spanned, and it may be better to part now (or soon), while we can still BE friends, or at least friendly. I don't know where to go from here. Or, rather, I kind of do, but I'm not strong enough yet to make that leap of faith.

Life is hard.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Are We There Yet?

Wow, did I have a great night last night, if by "great night" you mean "horrible night that reached a superlative of suckiness." Which is, in fact, what I mean.
I spent yesterday afternoon doing some research into family history. I've never been overly curious before, but it is part of my church's doctrine that it is necessary work, and in the process I found a few things that I hadn't known before and that whet my curiosity for more.

I thought that I had never met any of my great-grandparents, but it turns out, my mom's grandmother on her father's side died when I was three. There is almost no chance that I didn't meet her, I just don't remember it, like I don't remember meeting my dad's father, but know that I did. It's a little strange, but comforting in a way. At least to me.

I saw the draft card of my mom's dad's father (when there are four or eight or sixteen, you start having to have to refer to them that way), from the First World War. In his own handwriting.

I found my dad's dad's father on the 1940 Census, with record of his immigration from east central Europe. His wife immigrated in the same year, 1890, and they were married in 1894.

It's a strange feeling, knowing that the actions of all these strangers led to me sitting where I am right now. That's the egocentric way to look at it, anyway. I really look at it as how many people are in the world right now, doing whatever they are doing, because these people made the choices they did when they did. It's humbling. You can look backward that way, then extrapolate forward, wondering how many people there will be, doing whatever they may be doing, 125 years in the future, because of choices we make today.

Speaking of choices, I made the choice to tell my wife about my afternoon. I chose poorly. She immediately wanted to turn it unto a discussion on doctrine, rather than a conversation about the cool things I'd learned.

I say, "discussion on doctrine," but what I really mean is her telling me that I'm wrong and that it's stupid and berating me and my church in general. The few words I got in were brushed aside. I cited Scripture, but she doesn't care whether it's in the Bible or not, she knows what's right, and what's right isn't what I believe.

So, after she stomped off to bed, I stayed up for a while. I did what I normally do when I'm upset and played solitaire for an hour or so. When I finally went up to bed, the kids were, as is their habit, strewn out all over my side of the bed. It happens almost every night. So, I went to carry them to their own beds, but their rooms were both so messy I couldn't get them to their beds safely.

I am so sick of this.

I pulled my C-PAP and alarm clock off the night stand, swept all the stuffed animals off of my sons bed (after climbing over the mountain of junk on the floor) and slept there.

It's only the second time in nearly twenty years I have chosen to sleep elsewhere because I was angry.

I knew last year at this time that my marriage was ending. I lied to everyone. I lied to myself. I thought I couldn't leave because it would look like I was trying to "trade up," if you will, to leave her for someone better. I also thought if I fought hard enough, long enough, that there was a chance that things would turn around. But they haven't. They've gotten worse. I honestly don't know that there's anything left anymore.

I should have left a year ago, darn the appearance, and let the chips fall where they may. Would I have been happier now? I don't know. But I couldn't be any worse off.

Sometimes the road not taken is the one we should have followed.

Are we there yet? Is my marriage over?

It's getting close. For the first time today, I researched the legalities of ending a marriage in this state. I never thought I would have to do that. And yet I should have done it a year ago.

She and I are on the road to different forevers. I think that very soon, our paths will diverge and we will only see each other across a great, unspannable divide.

I should have left a year ago, and I'm sorry for all the pain I've caused by overstaying my welcome.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Another Anniversary to Forget

On this day last year, I had a surgery for kidney stones. If you've ever had them, you know they're no fun. Even worse than the pain associated with them, I found, is the surgery involved with getting rid of them. You end up trading intermittent, excrutiating, agonizing pain that medication won't help for constant, low-grade agaonizing pain that medication won't help. I passed blood every time I walked for almost three weeks, not that my wife ever noticed. That was about the time she decided to give me the silent treatment for something I wasn't doing. She was petty, vindictive and mean to me at what was already one of the lowest points of my life. To that point, anyway.

If I had the experience again, I would refuse the surgery and just suffer the intermittent pain. Also, I'd leave home while the leavin' was good.

On a brighter note, the pitchers and catchers officially reported for the Clevelnad Indians yesterday, so spring in inexorably on its way.

Do you think they'll still say "pitchers and catchers reporting" when the Major Leagues are filled with openly gay players? There might be some misunderstandoings at first...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Month

I've now been off my antidepressants for a full month. Though I AM back on the blood pressure pills. Reluctantly.

Antidepressants are supposed to take the edge off the highs and lows, stabilize the emotional rollercoaster. Instead of running lows and highs from, say, 2 to 9 on a scale from 1 to 10, they're supposed to even you out, make the range, say, 4 to 7.

What I got was a range from 0 to 2. It didn't help that I received news about the time I started them that was utterly devastating, made me not want to go on, but they certainly didn't do what they were supposed to.

So now, I range from about 2 to 4. I'm very rarely happy, except at church and with my kids. Of course, I'm forbidden to ever mix the two.

On the other hand, I from time to time feel a smile on my face that doesn't feel forced or foreign, doesn't make me cringe to think what it must look like. Not often, but occasionally. I still have no real desire to go on, to see what's next, no hope that things will be any better anywhere else, but I don't wish constantly that it was over and I was gone. Just mostly, not constantly.

So, I guess we'll just see what happens. Valentine's is coming soon. Another holiday to get no gifts from my wife. I'm done trying.

Anybody looking for a roommate?

Monday, February 10, 2014


I have been searching for some time for a new job. Over a year.

I took a PRN (as needed) position with the Cleveland Clinic in September. I enjoy it. It provides money that is slowly bringing my debt down, ad well as allowing me to do other things. like this past week's trip to the waterpark. I know some people think that those trips are frivolous or wasteful, like a trip to the amusement park, but I think there is a great benefit to them, especially if you have kids.

(I love introducing my kids to the biggest, baddest rollercoasters I rode as a kid. And the great ones my dad rode as a kid. And the idea that some day, they will introduce THEIR kids to all of these and more. (There's a new one going in at Six Flags north of Chicago that looks crazy awesome.) I think that's a rite of childhood that kids to which have almost a right.)

Sadly, my current full time position continues to deteriorate in a number of ways, as does my marriage.

I have been researching new positions and have come to the conclusion that I have to leave north east Ohio. I spoke with my wife, briefly, and she seems receptive to the idea of never leaving the area, ever, ever, ever.

So, an impasse.

Or not.

I am on the verge of applying for a position as a civilian employee with the Air Force. I know, the Navy is way cooler, but they're not looking right now. This position is one of about 40 or 50 available nationwide. I could end up almost anywhere. Though I would like to move south, where the weather is warmer, there are a few interesting possibilities elsewhere.

While Biloxi and Gulfport seem like good choices, I would love the opportunity to take a spot in Idaho or Utah. I know: Snow and cold. But: Mountains and fresh air. I think the trade off would be fair. I would actually take the one at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, just to be daring. The most important thing is to be some place fairly conservative for when the Troubles begin.

And they will begin.

I'm scared and alone, and it seems I likely to be even more alone, very soon. I worry my kids will think I'm abandoning them. My wife...well I don't really care much WHAT she thinks these days, as it's become obvious she cares very little for what I think.

A discussion I had at church a week ago leads me to believe that this is a decision that God will support me in, if I feel it necessary. I think it is, but I still feel like a failure. Of course, that's nothing new, so what the heck.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

That Coke Commerical

Okay, yeah. This one is better. If you say you want diversity, then sing for the fences: I can find people at work who can sing in Spanish, Arabic, French, etc...

But a guy who can sing in Klingon? Don't see one of those everyday.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

...and so it goes

It's amazing how quickly a good week can be brought low.
A week that started with  family vacation that went surprisingly well has now ended with yet another shouting match.

So much of the time, I feel like I not only don't have a partner in life, but like I'm married to an opponent. It seems that the more I try to change and make things better, the more she obstructs and fights. And not just big things.

Sometimes I feel so petty and awful.

Last night, I was angry. I thought I had a good reason, but I don't know.

When we went to leave the hotel yesterday morning, I packed most of the stuff and brought it to the car. It's easier this way. I sent everyone else to the waterpark to have a good time and I got to spend some time just being busy and productive, which I enjoy. But I had packed most of the stuff in the car prior to the trip, along with the kids, unloaded it all at the hotel, also with the kids, done the little shopping necessary for food for the trip (the room came with dinner vouchers which saved a bundle), packed everything in the car after the trip, and, with the kids, unloaded the whole car at home. Then, since the kids had so many stuffed animals that they were essentially buried under a large pile of fake fur, I made the trip back the way I had come to pick up the dog, followed by her evening walk, which she was hounding me for (pun intended).

It was a long, cold walk, in temperatures as high as 8 or 9, or at least it FELT long (1.4 miles is nothing, not even a decent warm-up, on a nice day). And then I went home.

At ten-thirty on a school night, kids ought to be in bed. Instead, there's my boy, playing videos games on the TV, while his mother plays video games on her phone. My daughter, bless her, is working: packing for the mother/daughter Girl Scout camping trip they have to leave on less than 24 hours later, and putting stuff away from the trip she just got home from. I was upset: They should have been in bed, and stuff should have been put away, at least a little. And when my daughter found the clothes from vacation that she needed for camping, her mother took them down and washed them and left all the wet swim stuff sit in bags upstairs.

I was upset: I worked hard, not just to pay for the trip, which I will be doing for the next month and a half, but before, during and after the trip to make sure everyone had a good time. And now I'm going to get to clean up the mess afterwards, as well. By myself.

Then today, I went to upload pictures from my wife's camera to the computer. She has about 1100 pictures on the card. almost none of which have been seen since the day they were taken. She's good at taking them, not so much at getting them looked at. I thought I might help the process. Well, I uploaded a bunch of them, but then I was trying to get out the door for work and accidentally stuck the camera in my coat pocket. This resulted in a call at work, during which I apologized repeatedly while being berated and insulted.

So I hung up.

And refused to take any more calls.

And now, I'm sure, I'M the bad guy.

She was upset on the way home, as well. I was playing the stereo and singing along to pretty much every song, but when our song came on, I couldn't. She made a nasty remark and I didn't really respond.

If she'd have looked, she'd have seen the tears running down my face.

I've decided I'm leaving. I don't know when or where yet, but I'm looking south: Alabama or Missisppi or maybe as far as Texas. I'm tired of the cold. And the weather around here has been lousy, too. I know there are jobs available where I can work 7 days on/ 7 days off, which would allow me to get back and see the kids more than I do now. If the kids wanted to come with me, I would work hard to make that possible. My daughter is old enough to make it work right now with just us, but my son needs a few more years. I would do everything I could to make that happen, though: I would hate to separate them. I have a few ideas, but I don't know if they will work.

I'm just staring down another lengthy period of solitude: The people who I thought loved me are treating me like a pariah, those who said they were my friends have abandoned me without so much as a "Go to Hell," my family doesn't want to follow where I have to go.

I'm scared. I'm lonely.

I'm resolute.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Two inches of snow on the ground already, with five to eight more due by 5pm tomorrow.

If it was just me, I would chance it, but there's just no way that I'm driving an hour and a half through the snow tomorrow with the kids in the car.

Looks like we're stuck at Kalahari for an extra night.

The kids are DEVASTATED. They have to spend another day at the waterpark while it snows like heck outside. And they might not make it to school at all this week.

Sucks to be them.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Jacuzzi Warning

Just a word of caution: It is VERY asy to turn a hot tub into a hot stinky monkey tub.

Not always a problem, but you need to be careful:

Kalahari has banned us from the waterpark.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dogs and Doctrine

There is a certain denomination/sect/cult that believes that animals who are loved by their owners and are faithful to them can earn a soul through that service.

I used to believe this.

Turns out, as I learn more of the doctrine of the church I've joined, it intersects and expands on my beliefs in a good way. We apparently believe that all life, plant and animal was first created in spirit, then in body.

I told one gentleman at church the whimsical postscript to this mornings post about my dog Mollie, about how her spirit followed me home. He just looked at me, smiled and said, "Of course."

I want to cry again.

Our church says that Mollie will be there with me when I die.


It was another wonderful day at church today. I may write something about it later. Church keeps me alive. It gives me hope and reason to continue on, no matter how bad now is.

I wish Abigail were still speaking with me. I have so much I want to share with her, and so many questions to ask. I miss her with all my soul.

Gone to the Dogs

I saw this last night and once again tears flowed.

They call them Canine Commandments, but really, I think a dog would call the Polite Canine Requests.

It was the tenth one that hurts. I'm crying again right now.

It's been over six years and, well, you know. Even when it's time and it's the right thing to do, the decision will haunt you. In my case, literally.

I have pictures.

This was Mollie. She was the first dog that I had as an adult. She was a shelter dog. It was a no-kill shelter, so some dogs stayed there for a long time.

Mollie was there six months. That was probably half her life to that point.

She was a horribly damaged dog. Physically she was fine. Emotionally, not so much. 

If you've ever been to the shelter, you know all the dogs come to the front of the cages and bark, "Choose me! Choose me!" Mollie just hunched over in the back of the cage and shook.

We brought her home on MLK Day 2007. She wouldn't walk on her own. I carried her to the car. When we got her home, she hid in a corner and shook.

That night, her first night of freedom in many months, we went to bed and she stayed in the living room. She was welcome in the master bedroom, we just couldn't get her in there. Within about ten minutes, she came to life and we could hear her running all over the house at top speed. The next morning, she was sitting on the couch like nothing had happened.

The first week was rough. It turned out she was more or less housebroken, or paper-trained, anyway. But she was scared to death of me. Maybe she was abused in her before time. Hard to say. But, after that first week, she was bonded to me as if with glue. She was only on a leash for formality. She had no desire to be anywhere but with me. 

When we moved back to Ohio, she rode 5000 miles in the only part of the car not occupied by luggage and stuff moving with us and, well, us, her head out the window the whole way. Rain, shine, wind, snow, she would whine like crazy until her window was rolled down.

She was very shy about going to the potty in front of people. It wasn't until we were in Louisiana, a week into the trip, that we actually saw her go. That was the first time in the year we'd had her. I think whoever had her before gave her grief over it.

The only time I remember her doing anything remotely close to running away was when a section of fence fell in our backyard. She'd chased squirrels and such at the park, but I don't count that. Anyway, she found the fence down and decided to explore. I was asleep/ We usually left the back door open if the weather was nice, so she could go in and out as she pleased. Anyway, I had been sleeping for several hours. When I got up, I realized she was missing. I called three times, and on the third, heard her tags jingling about three doors down and she came running. That's as far as she ever went from us.

We moved to a house of our own and when we were just getting settled, she ran in from the wet back yard, across the deck and onto the linoleum floor in the dining room, where her long legs got tied in knots and she slid all the way across the room and whacked into the wall on the far side. The mud splotch is still there. I don't have the heart to clean it. It's a good (and funny) memory, like the kids' height measurements.

Another time, she saw a squirrel on the back fence and lit out the back door like a shot. She ran across the deck and proceeded to get her head stuck in the slats of the deck railing. It only took her a few seconds to free herself, but by that point, I had a good laugh and she learned a valuable lesson.

When the kids came along, we were concerned how she would react. We needn't have worried. I have a picture somewhere of my daughter on Mollie's back like she's body surfing, giant grin in her face. Unfortunately, that was pre-digital camera, so I don't have it to put online. That dog never bit those kids, no matter how much they deserved it.

Those pictures are Mollie and Jake. She was very gentle with the kids. She was a friendly, loving dog to almost everyone outside the house, but inside, she didn't much like other people coming around. She was very protective of her pack.

The next pictures hurt really badly.

All three of these were taken on the last day of her life. She developed an aggressive cancer that was inoperable. It looked like a lump of bloody ground beef hanging from her lower jaw. I Biggie-sized the picture just above. You can see it on her lower lip. It looks like her tongue sticking out, but it's not. We tried to have it removed once, but it took all of the front teeth on her lower jaw and grew back within days. We said goodbye at home, then went to the park for a last walk. She bled all over the trail and all over the car.

We went to Strickland's for chocolate ice cream, because a good dog deserves chocolate at least once in her life. 

Then to the vet. Everybody hugged her and kissed her in the lobby and I went back into the office with her.

And then she was gone.

It only took about ten minutes to kill my best friend.

I held her as her breathing and heart rate slowed. I watched the spark of life fade from her eyes. I laid there on the floor in a puddle of urine holding her body and wailing. I must have stayed there twenty minutes. Then I had to get up and go.

It was the right decision to make, but it still haunts me.

But, interestingly, the story doesn't end there.

I called her as we left the vet's office. Felt a little odd, but also the right thing to do. For the next few years, I could lie in bed and feel footsteps crawling across my legs. I would hear barks. A few times, I saw the mattress actually dimple, as though her feet were pushing it down as she walked across it.

This actually went on for years, through two dogs that didn't work out, until we got our next good dog, Katie. Now, it's been a while. I don't know if she's gone for good or just waiting, but it was nice to know she stayed near. Am I crazy? Probably, ,but I'm not the only one who noticed.

I walk Katie every day, at least a mile. Why? Part of it is guilt: I was raging drunk for the almost the first nine years Mollie was with us. And yes, pretty much every day. I didn't walk her nearly as much as I should have. I don't want that to happen with Katie. Mollie deserved more. 

I love my Katie-dog, but I still miss my Mollie. Katie is not a replacement, but a successor. She has made her own niche: She will never be able to fill Mollie's place, but she occupies a special place all her own.

Mollie's ashes are in a tin in the hutch in my dining room. They will come with me when I move out, and I will call her spirit, just like I did at the vet's office that horrible day. Is she still around? I don't know. But if she is, she's welcome to come along with me when I go.

And I expect that when I am dead, her ashes will be buried with me.