10/28 of slain dragons and school girls

His name is Josh.  A fact that only took me 7 weeks after first meeting to find out about him. Before that time however, i knew that he was majoring in web design. Of this, i knew almost even before he announced it to the class, in fact. He is a fellow student in my PSYC 101 course, and in addition to sitting on the other side of the room, i feel he may also sit on the other side of the world from me.

His non-committed unbranded t-shirt, that almost begs to have a “Dungeons & Dragons” logo emblazoned on its front, covers an almost skeletal upper body. And his good twelve-to fourteen inches of hair, in a tightly-pulled but random pony tail, covers the upper most portion of the t-shirt, only where it lays against it carelessly. His beard is very similar to that of one who has been trapped in a sand storm that has lasted for far too many years – blown back, gritty and brittle, with smallish patches strewn about the face showing areas where the hair refuses to grow any longer – if it in fact ever did. His eyebrows have proven much more successful in their growth attempts, and are very near exceeding their goal of meeting each other in the middle. He has the rare type of body wherein the feet appear to be almost as long as the vertical portion of the body, with his profile resulting in very much an “L” shape to the eye. His arms and legs are true to the bust they grow off from, and are quite thin and willowy as a result. The arms are in constant motion, and when he speaks, the hands alternate between random waves into the air or rubbing bared elbows in search of long-lost scabs – but only if they are not wringing, one against the other, in an apparently failed attempt to remove the flesh altogether, if not the blood of some long-forgotten sin. In short, you can tell by a body language that almost screams out to be heard, he would feel so much more comfortable if he never had to say another word to another living human being in all of his existence, let alone to an entire room full of people. And yet he still does anyway.

In fact, this man, who will do very well once plunked behind a lit screen that requires no conversation i think, is actually quite vocal in class. Not just when he’s called upon to do so, but also when he feels he has the right answer, or if he feels that he simply has something to add to the general conversation. And when he opens his mouth, he usually does. True, it takes painstakingly long for the knowledge in his head to be presented to the rest of us. His voice is not exactly what you would deem as “strong”, and while he doesn’t stutter per say, his words do have an occasional way of cutting out – losing volume altogether mid-word – only to be audible again at the end. But still, he carries on, until every thought is expressed and his contribution complete. In other words, it is apparent that he has a very large issue with feeling comfortable in public, both in speaking, and possibly just being in his own skin at the time. And it also is quite obvious that he is using this school experience to – if not deal with the problem altogether – at least knock it down to a much more manageable size.

Once, towards the beginning of the semester, he took the floor – and i mean literally – he stood directly in the middle of the floor and provided a brief summary on some such thing or another. His fade-in/fade-out staccato was in full effect and his hands were working overtime in finding something to keep them occupied. As much is his nature, throughout his dissertation, his eyes never left the floor. Except once, that is. He was almost finished delivering his speech in a fashion almost heart-wrenching to watch when, at the back of the room, school-girlish giggles from women far to old to be acting like school girls could be heard. It was brief – but it was enough. Josh’s eyes immediately darted towards the corner of the room where the offending sound came from, and while never breaking his vocal stride, he flung daggers of hate and anger that could almost be felt cutting the air as they zipped across the room in search of their target. Targets that themselves should hardly have been throwing verbal stones. In fact, let’s just say of these women that neither of them are exactly going to be mistaken for Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe any time soon. And from their mouths never is heard a word that actually adds to the value of the class – whether it be voluntary or coerced from their lips.

The entire incident was momentary and i’m quite sure that of all the big wide world, Josh and i are the only ones still thinking about it – that is – if Josh even still is. And while really such a minor thing, i felt (feel) bad that women who refuse to deal with their issues can find it so easy to laugh at one who is. And i feel even worse that in this instance, i did nothing about it to help Josh, standing there way across the world from me. But in this instance, i’m not sure if any “help” given wouldn’t have caused more grief instead. In every walk of life, there will be school girls – of all shapes, sizes, sexes, age and race – ready to impress you with their ignorance by laughing at someone – anyone – who just doesn’t “fit”. And while Josh may try his best, i don’t feel that he could ever truly “fit” anymore than i could. And i suppose, based on that, he and i really are a lot more alike than i initially thought. i suppose we’ll both have to carry on, simply trying our best to deal with our issues, while both ignoring the school girl chatter that will occasionally come into our lives as a result, and making sure that we don’t add to its cacophony either.

i won’t be there to see it, but i do hope Josh’s story has a good ending. One wherein his issues have been slain like bloated dragons and he has risen triumphant against the storm of the ignorance of others. And from what i can see, he seems to be doing his best to ensure just that.

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10/24 memories of debauchery & stealth, of booze & brilliant plans

It’s that time of year again. That very special time when t-shirted Sundays turn into sweat-shirted sunsets. When the crisp air of evening holds onto the woodsy smell of burning fire pits, long after it has become the cold air of night. The time of year when almost any open field is turned into a “field of dreams” – the kind of dreams where you can’t get away from the monster pursuing you because your feet keep getting sucked into the wet earth beneath. The time of year when multitudes of high-school aged parents go on “little get aways” before the world dies for a spell, leaving behind their high-school aged children to fend for themselves.

Well, i’m supposing that that last part must be true, seeing as this is the time of year i seem to remember that the greatest number of “house parties” were held while we were growing up. It may (not) come as a surprise that parties of this variety were not allowed in our house under any circumstance – but since my R.C. parents never trusted us to be alone any way – such parties occurring proved impossible on even an logistical level. What’s more, my parents were not the type to allow us to go to these parties either – for their usual fear of our being subjected to booze, sex and debauchery run amok. A fear that, unlike that pertaining to concerts, turned out to be justified. And i know this because as my little brother and i grew into “manhood”, we resolutely determined that the ban on house parties was not only unfair, but unenforceable – should a brilliant plan be created to beat it. This is a story resulting from one such plan.

Being in a single story 3 bedroom house can be very much akin to living in the prison cell directly next to the guard house. The doors to each of the three bedrooms faced each other two to one, in that uncomfortably close fashion that made every “wake up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water” moment a painstakingly long, floor-board squeaking process that was sure to wake at least one other member of the family. My brother and i, however, knew that our plan to “escape” the ban on house parties would not involve walking in the hall, so we were safe. What the plan did involve was all of us going to bed as expected, weary-eyed and pajama-clad, without even a mention of the really awesome party that a truly awesome person was holding at their awesomely parent-free house. A party that would be attended by simply every awesome person the school had to offer. A party that we needed to be at too.

Once in bed, we would wait. Quietly. Patiently. Without breath and without movement. And we would sit stock still – watching the hands on our clocks tick slowly by. At least 15 minutes, but sometimes more. Since mom and dad were (what seemed at the time) around 200 years old each, it didn’t take too long for the sandman to steal them away. When we felt the time was right, we would each low-crawl up to our door and, slowly opening them just enough, quickly blink at each other with our flashlights – the signal which indicated that it was “Go” time. Since my little brothers door faced my parents room, he was the first to give thumbs up. Once received, we would dress while lying on the floor, and then meticulously create and stuff our beds with dummies made out of rolled up clothing (to take our place, should a bleary-eyed midnight bathroom break parent peer in). Then slowly – and ever so quietly – we would lower our outside screens to the ground. From there, it was only one quiet jump – a quick run ’round the house to meet at the front – and away we went, on our merry way. On foot, of course.

We went to many awesome parties in such a fashion. And in addition to having awesome times, awesome drama, awesome face sucking and boob grabbing, we became awesomely drunk at almost all of them. To this day i honestly can not tell you how we managed to stealthily get back into our rooms (especially considering the fact that from the outside, you had to jump – drunkenly, complete with dog chain necklace and bike chain belt – to reach the sill) without getting caught. i can tell you however, that there was one time that we did not. The last time, in fact.

i can’t remember who’s party it was, but i remember it was one of the better ones. We came slinking in as always and were well on our way to our own beds, each in his own room – in a fashion very similar to that of the Grinch as he slithers through the houses of the Who’s. But this time, it wasn’t Little Betty Lou Who who woke up – it was my mom. And this time, a glass of milk and a pat on the head would simply not suffice. We had both heard her get up, each of us in our own rooms, and we both knew that we could get through this, if we only played it smart. To my benefit, our older brother was home on leave at the time, and boarding with me – so it took only seconds for me to squirrel myself directly under my sill and behind his bed before mom opened my door and looked in upon himself and me. Well, “me” at any rate. Painstaking moments went by breathlessly, and once she closed the door, i double-timed it to my bed and thrust my dummy to the floor. My heart slammed against my ribs as i quietly removed my party gear and slid back into my weary-eyed pajamas. My heart pounded so loudly that i almost failed to hear my mom calling my younger brothers name – firm and quiet at first, but louder and more panicked with each instance. And then it occurred to me – why would she be calling his name when she didn’t call mine? How did he get caught when i didn’t? And here’s the thing – he technically didn’t get caught either. He got invaded.

Turns out, the dummy trick worked twice. And too well in the second instance. When mom opened my brothers door, she saw him sleeping in much the same fashion that she saw me. And then she looked up to see the silhouette of a strange man, standing stock still behind my brothers curtain. The curtain that resided in front of the window. The very window that was permitting all the moonlight into my brothers room – well, all the moonlight except for the area where my brother was standing, behind the curtain, stock still. He must have realized upon his name being called the third time that the jig was up, and he rather sheepishly came out from behind the curtain to face his punishment.

I can’t remember the full scope of it, but i do recall that it involved a grounding that even a hermit would find oppressive. And, never one to be blamed for not taking things much too far, my dad also nailed my brothers windows shut.

A punishment that stood until he had graduated from high school.

My little brother never did blow me in though, and i never did sneak out again. i wouldn’t do it without him, since being with him was the best part of the whole thing in the first place. i mean, what’s an evening of debauchery and drunken boob grabbing if you don’t have anyone to share the memories with? Memories that seem to bubble to the surface every year now, when the air turns cold and the smell of burning wood wafts along the evening breeze. Memories that are cherished, and ones that i hope you didn’t mind my sharing with you today.

10/21 muscle heads and misconceptions

I’m sitting on the airplane feeling peckish.

Well, I’m not actually feeling peckish at all, but it’s such a lovely word, I thought I would throw it in for effect. What I am actually feeling, in fact, is remorseful.

When I first arrived at my point of departure within the New Orleans airport – concourse D, in case you’re interested (a simply dreadful little hub consisting solely of one restaurant/bar, one news stand, one overpriced trinket shop and about six gates all trying their best to devour the people waiting to go through them, one painfully slow passenger at a time) and found a “crew” of muscle heads at the bar, I thought for sure I had found material for my next post. Boisterous, beer-toting and dripping with machismo, this group almost embodied everything I find distasteful about American males – John Waynes on steroids, if you will – and it appeared to me that had they their bodies not, their confidence would be vacant as well. I was glad that the time I would be required to “enjoy” their company was limited, and hopeful that none of them would share my flight. But one of them did.

And he sat in the row directly in front of mine.

He had the window seat (the muscle head would get the choice seat of course), and beside him sat an elderly gentleman of British descent, who had a very cool accent and – I would later find out – not nearly anything nice to say with it. The aisle seat was open and less-than anxiously awaiting the African-American woman who would occupy it for the 57 minute flight we were about to embark upon. But, when she arrived, she also had a very young daughter in tow. While the seat said nothing, it’s very appearance gave notice that it would only support one human being at a time thankyouverymuch, and the daughter would simply need to find somewhere else to sit. Luckily, the flight attendant must have already known about the seat’s attitude on all this, and she had come armed with a second seat assignment and a question to the two men already seated – would either one of them please give up their seat, and take the child’s (just a few rows back) so that the daughter could sit with her mother? The elderly Brit said yes. The muscle head said nothing. Of course.

The daughter was resplendent in her Garanimalesque white shirt/pink pant combo, topped off with white bows keeping her two almost out of control pigtails firmly in place. She was smiling ear-to-ear while waiting in the aisle, but once the go-ahead was given for her to take the middle seat that was now vacated, her face twisted in fear at the realization that she would have to sit right next to this strange man. At such a young age, she too, apparently already knew disdain for those of the muscle head persuasion – smart, this little one was. And then the damnedest thing happened – the muscle head looked at her with the softest eyes imaginable and – while I couldn’t see his mouth – a smile was evident in his tone when he said, “don’t worry, I won’t eat you.” The girls face lifted into a grin even larger than the one she wore while awaiting her seat – almost as if she actually was afraid of being eaten at some point in time – and relieved to know that today at least, was not going to be that day.

She plopped right down next to the muscle head – and – the two of them spent the entire rest of the flight talking to each other. About everything. In hushed tones they spoke about the in-flight magazine, the safety instructions, the muscle head’s own children, the in-cabin overhead light and the in-cabin overhead air valves, not to mention the where they had been and the where they were going to next – both geographically, and in life. The mother tried to jump in whenever she could, but the girl and man spoke so much that precious little room was left for anyone else to invade their chat.

Odd – it occurred to me – here I was, condemning a man I had never spoken with to something akin to hell simply because of what I imagined he must be like, while at the same time, a little girl actually opened her mouth in an effort to know him better and sainted him as a result. And trust me, I could tell by the look in her face when they finally parted ways that she could plainly see the golden halo she had placed above his head. And by then I could (finally) see it as well.

St. Sebastian: patron saint of muscle heads – err – athletes

As this was going on, it also dawned on me that while this man and girl were taking advantage of fate by getting to know another human being that, while they would never see each other again, they could learn from and enjoy right now – I sat rigid-backed in my seat, my iPod headphones jammed defensively into my ears – protecting me against having to ever acknowledge the existence of the elderly woman sitting right next to me. I mentally smacked my wrist and pulled the headphones out, opening my mind at the same time just enough to let someone else in. And she turned out to be a lovely woman who had successfully raised five children and had earned herself a trip to Venice – based solely on frequent flyer points, no less. It appeared that she was flying alone, and she was old enough that I had the good sense not to ask her if anyone would be joining her on her trip. I didn’t really need to know any way, and there was no reason to risk upsetting an otherwise jolly traveler.

The flight ended. The lesson was learned. The experience, embedded in my soul. I felt good about what I had been brought to understand, even as I felt bad about the fact that I needed it brought to my understanding. The man and the girl made their goodbyes, and while I won’t say they hugged (because I can’t recall if they did), it certainly felt as if they should have. The girl and her mother made their way down the aisle to debark, and then the man stood up. He wasn’t the muscle head I thought he was at all! He had the same haircut as the muscle head I was thinking he was, and the same general face as well (understanding that all I ever saw of it was his forehead and eyes). But other than being very tall, and proportional to that height, he was no more a muscle head than I am a person who is willing to judge an individual based on their character instead of their appearance. It was then that I replayed the scene from the airport, only to discover that none of the muscle heads were worthy of my disdain in the first place, and none of them were really even that boisterous in fact.  They just happened to be very large men with beers in their hands, trying to get to where ever it was they were going without hassle or care. And in my apparent rush to judge, I decided that they were the issue, when I fact, the issue was me.

So, in 57 minutes, I learned that muscle heads are people too, little girls (at least one) are much smarter than I, it’s quite all right to introduce yourself to a person that you’ll never see again, you can get quite far on frequent flyer points, people are not always going to fit nicely into your preconceived notion of who they should be  – and possibly most importantly – as a general rule muscle heads, or rather large men at any rate, do not eat children.

Even if they’re feeling peckish.

10/12 an unabashed love letter to the people of Saint Ann’s

Its two main steeples reach majestically into the sun-filled Buffalo sky. Well, actually that’s not entirely true, seeing as its two main steeples are no longer there. And haven’t been for quite sometime – lost somewhere along the way from some previous snow-filled Buffalo sky, i’ve been told. So the final effect is that somewhat of a decapitated house of worship, one that begrudgingly admits its shortcoming, but still refuses to fall.

The steeples haven’t been replaced simply because this particular church happens to reside in inner Buffalo, a down-trodden area that hasn’t seen anything even remotely resembling wealth in many a year now. And while the Roman Catholic Church talks a pretty good game about feeding its flock, apparently it walks a much better game in neighborhoods where the flock is pretty well-fed already. Which is sad, considering the diet of this particular flock – but more on that later.

Upon entering the church, you see a past glory, slowly crumbling under the grip of time and weather. While most of the ceiling remains intact – in glorious hues of blue, gold and salmon – in other areas massive bubbles are visible through the paint where previously, rain water on the exterior side lead a recon mission through cracks in the building’s defenses towards the inside. In other areas, the rain was wholly successful in its mission and whatever section of ceiling used to be there is now totally absent, save the wooden skeleton of the roof proper. The myriad of statues throughout the building are mostly looking skyward, but whereas i’m sure the original intent was to show these saints as being “heaven-bound”, in its current condition, they look much more like worried home owners waiting for the roof to cave in. As to the accoutrements, easily half a forest was lost in the construction of the various wooden latticework, railings, doorways, crucifixes and pulpit – never mind the ornate and almost inhabitable central sanctuary at the back of the altar. All carved with intricate expertise, and for now, all safe from the weather. And while children may be prone to scratch their names into pews elsewhere, in this building every one of them seem to be safe from such juvenile branding activities. The floor is a combination of hard wood and ratty carpet – the orange variety that everyone in the seventies felt was all the rage. Fortunately, the carpet is so worn down as to now look far more “historical” than “dated”. Unfortunately, the carpet is so worn down as to look like it belongs to a long-dead building, instead of a living one.

So all said, a church that used to be mighty, glorious – and possibly even a bit arrogant – now sits humbled by time, neglect, suburban sprawl, and a religious hierarchy that sometimes finds it hard to practice exactly what it preaches so loudly to others. But just before you call the wrecking ball and start digging a grave for this once impressive monolith, let’s take another look, seeing as mass has now started…

The choir is small, unorganized and not very well trained. Many of them seem to have never used a microphone before and others simply ignore its existence altogether. They are a mixture of race, age and sex, all led by a doddering old man at a tiny electric keyboard, and when all is said and done – they sing like angels. With sincerity, with faith, and with communion. The congregation is likewise small, especially when considering how large the building is, and much like the choir, a blend of age, sex and race. In fact, to look at them objectively, you wouldn’t see too much that these people would have in common with each other in their daily lives – and maybe they don’t. But when they come together here, they become “One” – again – with sincerity and faith. During the Lord’s Prayer, the entire group becomes part of one long web, strewn throughout the church, with only the very first upheld hand in the line and the very last not being grasped by another. And at the “sign of peace”, it would almost appear to be much more a game of musical chairs than it would a simple gesture of good will. The entire process can take up to five minutes (quite a long time by Roman Catholic standards) and no person is left unnoticed, no extended hand left untouched. It’s the type of environment that would drive someone who suffers from mysophobia simply mad. It would also put a kink in the armor of anyone who happens to be racist or judges others based solely on their appearance as well. In this place, however, faith overrides all of that. And it’s not something that is sleeve-worn or in your face. Nor is it something that you must accept upon entering, or take with you when you leave. It’s not even something that is spoken. It just IS. It’s visible, tangible, breathable even. This small group of individuals create a force so strong that it can not only be felt, but it actually invades your own senses as well.

Heaven bound...

Now, lest someone think that this will become a slippery slope as to my trying to prove one faith superior to another, let me be clear that this is not the intent of this post. And it’s not the intent of the congregation either, i don’t believe. And maybe that is why they can create a force so strong that it almost hugs you upon entering into it. They seem to be focused only on their faith and on each other. It would appear that they have no real desire to shove their beliefs down the throats of others, but you’re more than welcome to join in if you’d like (to clarify an earlier statement, they are very cognizant of possible mysophobia sufferers and don’t grab for hands unextended). It is also clear that instead of focusing on any misperceived superiority towards the faith – or lack thereof – of others, they are focusing only on theirs alone. And when “Mother Church” held back its wallet, these parishioners – many of whom can ill-afford it – started to self-fund the church just so that they could keep it’s steeple-less doors open.

In short, they’re good people, who are quietly living their own faith – for themselves and their God alone. They have found their community, their purpose and their home, resulting in their spirits being well-fed and contented. Not because of some outside benevolence, but as a result of their own hard work. They have a living Strength within a dying building. One that is refreshing to see, and i just thought you might like to know that pockets of humanity like this still exist.  i also think it would be very nice indeed if a whole lot more of us could live the same.

10/10 keep your questions to yourself

Belle of the Carnival is asking questions (always with the questions, that one…). And while i usually struggle to answer them, much in the same way i might struggle to spontaneously give birth, when she asked for suggestions (in question format, no less) as to what she should write about this month, i quickly clickety clacked my response of “Would your life be any different, fundamentally, if you were the opposite sex of the one you are now?”, without a moments hesitation.

Shortly after i was done feeling all smug about what a wonderful question i had thought up to stump her with however, i began to realize how unfair it would be for me to ask it. The little Old Polish Lady who resides in my mind – ever ready to guilt trip me about any number of things i might have (or have not) done – stared me steadily down whilst waving her finger of indignation pointedly in my face. Her imagined glare is hard, her finger, straighter then God’s justice. And all the while she seemed to be saying “well, if you’re such a Mr. Smarty Pants, then why don’t you chime in with an answer???”. So, i eventually conceded that i couldn’t really ask a question like that without also answering it myself. And so i decided that that was what i would do:

Now, the first thing that would change, if i were the sex opposite my own, is that the old woman of my mind would’ve called me “Mrs. Smarty Pants” instead of “Mr”. Or would she have? i don’t believe i’ve ever heard the phrase “Mrs. Smarty Pants”. Or “Mrs. Smarty Skirt” for that matter. And i’ve definitely never heard of the term “Mrs. Smarty Housecoat”. (A bit off topic, but for me, housecoats are simply dreadful things. Any clothing of convenience really, typically is. As for housecoats, my grandmother had an entire wardrobe that – i swear – consisted solely of the damned things, that she then “accessorized” only with hair curlers, ever present in her head. i mean, i had always thought that curlers were supposed to have some sort of affect on your hair, and i would imagine that this sought-after affect would only be visible upon, you know, their removal. Sadly, with my grandmother, i was hardly ever able to either prove or disprove this theory.) But, i see i’ve once again strolled off into the land of digression – and not at all this time as a result of my having difficulty in answering my own question – so let’s move on.

As to me being the opposite sex, i was almost going to say just now that i would greatly miss the freedom of being able to, well, to pee standing up. Now i know that at least a number of feminist-minded women may be tempted to jump in here and clarify that they too, technically have this ability. But honestly ladies, it’s just not the same, and you’ll just have to begrudge us this one “superior” trait, OK? And it wouldn’t matter at any rate if you did, based on the idea that in this scenario i would be the opposite sex by birth – not by choice. As such, the joy of being able to close one eye and make it appear as if your tie were actually urinating and/or sign your name (in block letters no less) into the freshly fallen snow, would be a pleasure unknown to me. Which leads me – after possibly sharing a bit too much – to the first real difference between the male and the female me: the female me would most definitely spend much more of my life standing in line while waiting to use public restrooms.

On the upside, i would also have many more choices as far as fashion went. The me of today gets quite tired of the polo shirt/slack uniform of summer, that is retired only for the long sleeve shirt/slack uniform of winter. And while i would normally do much more in my “off hours” fashion, apparently very few other men would, and as a result very few clothing manufacturers create very few interesting items for us (the “us” with a budget at any rate). Which results most often in off the rack “off hours” choices of t-shirts/jeans for the summer and sweat shirt/jeans for the winter. Now i recognize that of all the things a life has to offer, this should be a concern towards the bottom rather than the top. But regardless of what sex i would be, i am still fundamentally who i am, and i can only imagine the clothes still count in either scenario. As a female though, i would most likely be broke as a result.

i won’t get too much into hair. It’s a bit of a sore topic, and seeing as i have always had so little of it – and even less now, i have no concept whatsoever as to what it would be like to have an abundance. Or even enough to at least warrant owning a comb. And i can only assume that in this case, the reverse scenario would feel pretty much the same.

i do wonder if i would be more or less sexual than i am now. And before anyone goes off on the tried and true “if i had my own pair…” routine, let’s keep in mind that in this scenario, i would have been born with them, not inherited them. i do know (a college education, once again at work!) that women orgasm differently then men and the point of pleasure is located in a different part of their brain. But other than that, is there really any difference? And would that difference dictate the amount of desire a person has? i’m not sure, and it’s a subject that boggles the mind (well, mine at any rate). While i would gladly (GLADLY) embrace the ability to have multiple orgasms without the need to, ummm, regroup – i highly doubt that going through childbirth would make it an “even” trade. And i guess that would be the second real difference between the “me” me and the female me. If i were a female i wouldn’t have any children right now. Oh, i’m pretty sure C and i would still have “become one” (again, based on the idea that we would all be the sex opposite what we are today), but as to having children goes, i just don’t feel i could do it. It was hard enough to watch C go through it. Three times. Now, i don’t have any of those “oh. My. God. It’s alive and moving around inside of me” symbiotic feelings, but i really don’t think i would have what it takes to push. And breathe. And hold on tight, it’s almost over. And push. And breathe… Everytime i think of it in fact, i tip my mental hat to every woman who has ever done it, and to you, in this instance i will gladly acknowledge superiority.

my mental hat: looking surprisingly a lot like Calvin Coolidge

And if for that alone, i am forever glad that God had the good sense to make me what i am. A man, stuck in a males body. One with children whom he loves more than life itself, even if he never would’ve been strong enough to give them life itself. True, maybe i would’ve been OK as a female. i mean, i am really good at walking in high heels (a different story altogether). And i suppose that regardless of my “bits”, i would be for the most part about the same as i am now – in spirit and mind at any rate (from what i’ve heard from others, it’s not like the “me” me is that far away from being a woman any way…). i’ll never truly know, and i suppose it wouldn’t matter if i did. i can tell you one thing though – if i was a woman me instead of a man me, when asked, i would’ve had the good sense to keep my tongue firmly in cheek, and my silly “stump ’em” questions to myself.

10/5 banning Christmas

i have a friend who’s an atheist. Well, i have quite a few actually. And that’s not to say i’m holding the fact up as some sort of badge of “Christian Courage” or anything. i just feel that life would be dreadfully boring (and somewhat of a waste actually) if you only surrounded yourself with others who felt, thought and believed in pretty much the same fashion as you did. But of course that’s not the point of this at all, and the atheist i mentioned previously (who also happens to be an artist and an avid facebookian to boot – knowledge that will come in handy later on) is appearing here for a totally separate reason.

You see, of all my atheist friends (did i mention i have quite a few? But again, i’m not mentioning this in an effort to bolster my ratings any), there are two that are quite boisterous about us “idiots” who buy into the whole Jesus fairy tale, and of the two, he is one. Now to be fair, they only get into these boisterous moods around Easter and Christmas, with the remainder of the year being left pretty much “Jesus-bashing” free. Obviously. i mean, i can’t imagine i – or anyone for that matter – would suffer friendship too long from someone who was constantly berating your belief system. Family however, is a different story, but one we won’t be covering here. So, where was i? Oh yes, the two atheists who make every effort to tell every one that of all the Holidays in all of the world, Christmas and Easter are by far the most moronic – to the point where they should be banned altogether. Not because the Easter Bunny and Santa are fake (are they?) but rather because Jesus is. Was. And a whole bunch of us bought into his scam enough as to still be celebrating his birth some two plus thousand years later.

Sometimes my friends efforts to slam Christians – all decked out with their mangers and trees and carols – are pretty mean-spirited. “Juvenile” is actually the word i’m looking to use, but will refrain from doing so since that is precisely their stance about our beliefs. And other times their efforts are pretty comical, when considering how far off target their critiques are from any actual “doctrine” they may be in disagreement with. So, why am i friends with them at all then? Well, all in all, they are both good friends, and i know them as otherwise well-intended and good-hearted people. The type that you never thought would be a friend at all – but who then end up being much more of one than those who would’ve more easily fit the bill. And i enjoy their company far too much to let their semi-annual blowouts ruin an otherwise solid relationship. Besides – while it’s not really mine to mind – i really don’t mind them being angry. i know what it’s like to be the one person who is forced to “stand outside”, peering only through the window at times, just to see that everyone else is having a simply splendid party (of the manger, tree and carol variety), that you’re not invited to unless you’re “willing to drink the kool aid” that is – or more appropriately in this case, the eggnog.

At any rate, despite what so many Christians and atheists seem to think, there is not one single word in the existence of language that can be used by any one human to convert any other to their belief system – let alone invitations to, or exclusions from, parties filled with trees and carols. You either live your beliefs, or you don’t. And from there, others will either follow your lead (because they see some truth to it), or they won’t. And such is life, in a (rather) utilitarian sense. So unless my friends are being exceedingly rude, i simply choose to turn a deaf ear to their rants during the holidays. It’s better for us both that i do.

“So what’s this all about then t, and when exactly will we get to that point?”

Well, the point is this. Every year i do my best to ignore these two whilst they jump about, with fists waving and words of hurt flying about such as “there’s no need to celebrate a holiday for a guy who never was anything more than a crazy carpenter” and “Christians aren’t only ignorant, but they celebrate it as well” or even the time-tested “Christmas is stupid”. And every year i enjoy my holiday regardless of their slander, quietly resuming our friendship after they’ve spent their rage at a Christian world giddy on eggnog and (to their mind) incorrect expectations. But this year is different. This year it may prove hard to ignore at least the one. Because this year the friend who started this whole diatribe – the friend who hates Christmas and all that is associated with it – the friend who has on multiple occasions stated that the whole thing is phooey and needs to be done away with once and for all – the friend who is so strong in his beliefs as to shout them from every social network rooftop available, usually from the beginning of October straight through to the new year – the friend who, and let me be perfectly clear about this, won’t be truly happy until Christmas is banned altogether – this very friend posted the following on his facebook page: