Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
In my philosophy of relgion class, we are talking about God’s relation to time and our subsequent relation to free will, i.e. If God is everlasting, omniscient and has foreknowledge, that would mean that he knows when we are going to do something, and He can’t be wrong, how are we still free humans?
When I was a kid, I’d go out to our big backyard and use my imagination because I didn’t have any video games to play inside. I used to think about how God knows everything I do before I do it, and I’d try to do something he wouldn’t expect. I’d take take off sprinting or jump up and kick my leg wildly in the air. I’d yell out nonsensical phrases at random… “Hammashesha!” Nonsense. Absurdity. I was probably 10.
I’ve always been like that. Pushing the limits, testing the edges. I’ve always wanted to know things for myself. It’s not that I don’t listen to the wisdom of others who have gone before me; I do listen, but then I go and learn it for myself.
I’ve made A LOT of mistakes along the way. I’ve hurt a lot of people; I’ve hurt myself. I’ve faltered in my relationships with both of my F/fathers. And I want to apologize to everyone against whom I have sinned.
I’m just writing today to say that I feel like, by God’s grace, I’ve got my feet back on the ground. I had a little problem with drinking, and I kinda crawled into a cave, or let myself fall into a pit. But, again, with God’s strength, I’m making my way out and the Light looks beautiful. It hasn’t always been easy, but I don’t think that the best things in life are meant to be.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I sat in the coffee shop, where there was hot drinks and AC, which is a good combination, and I was not stranded but still felt unable to leave. Woman in bright blue shirt to my left, door repairman dead ahead, 12 O’clock, with a Tiger Woods hat and a Mario mustache, Levi jeans, 32 for length and waist. There was a bit of confusion when he first came in, see the too-cheerful girl at the cash register had her inner universe thrown off by his let’s-get-down-to-business sort of attitude; she did not know why he was here.
“I am here to fix a broken door closer,” he had said.
“To fix a broken door?” she had replied with a frightful, forced smile. She was so confused, why could this man be here, why isn’t he just ordering a drink, yes, yes, let’s just get you something to drink sweetheart, something to cool you down and we’ll get all this sorted out… she was quite confused, and our pal Mario was getting impatient.
“NO, I am here to fix a broken door CLOSER,” he responded, obviously annoyed, not even attempting to mask his condescending tone.
Words were exchanged, clouds were cleared, and the two were amicable enough after all… and Mario just made a loud, clanking noise.
“Sorry,” he said in my general direction, without looking up. I smiled, but without showing my coffee and cigarette-stained teeth.
Elderly couple at 11 O’clock, just now leaving must be in their 80s, out for their afternoon treat, a highlight in their day, a break between Oprah and Dr. Phil. The gentleman with his silver-grey hair combed over… and the door repairman is asked, “You doin’ alright today?”
“Alright’s the word,” he says sagaciously, “now if it would just cool down out there…” as he wipes the sweat from his freckled forehead. He has relaxed, loosened up, kinda made a fool of myself over there with all the clanging around, he’s thinking to himself.
And the elderly gentleman is heading towards the door in his peacock yellow button down short sleeved shirt, one of his favorites, and his pleated pants and light brown leather lace up dress shoes. He and his bride of a thousand years do not talk to each other much, she just reads the paper, catching up on local happenings, likes to stay involved, she’s always been that way he thinks, but he does not think it in an annoyed OR sentimental way, just a thought in his head, nothing more, lots of those lately, and he sips his coffee with the lid off and the steam shooting out like from the pipes of a mini-factory, right there in the palm of his hand.
And I wonder how they met and if they still love each other and if they used to fight all the time or if they were ever married to other people, and if so, where those people are now. Did they die? Was it just a divorce? And where are the kids, do they come to visit, to they come to reciprocate the love and care they received?
And at 10 O’clock, just making my way around the place, my eyes meet two women, and the one facing me has this aura about her, why yes, that silver Mercedes convertible in the parking lot is mine, why do you ask?... and she seems to be thinking that she is doing the other old woman a favor by getting coffee with her, seems sharper and more with it, laughs often, young at heart, bright and bold, has probably bossed her husband around in the past. She has the brightest blue eyes and short, white hair. But the other women, the one with her back to me, well she’s probably the same age, late 60s to early 70s, but she seems so much more aged. Has she seen more, been through more? Did her husband fight in the Vietnam War, perhaps was murdered, or came back, but shell-shocked when he did, has flashbacks almost nightly, been going on nearly 20 years now? What has this other women experienced that Mercedes woman hasn’t, with her plush suburban castle. What could she explain to me or give me advice about, what could I learn from her or she from me?
And then the woman in the blue to my left, 9 O’clock, I’m just rockin’ around the clock and then my prying eyes invade her, ripping her apart, just cause why not? She seems awfully uneasy, seems like she had told herself,
“Linda. You just need to gather your worries and go sort them out over a cup of coffee. You need this, Linda. You do.”
But now she’s here, and not sure what to expect, been sitting on the edge of her seat, looking around nervously, poignantly, in the breaks between filling out some sort of paperwork – food stamps, social security, health care? – she looks up the way I would imagine a single mother might, or just like some person who’s thinking terrible hard about something… the way I did before I wrote that last sentence – and she seems better than she did when she got here and I am happy for her.
And now she’s leaving and I think that means that I can too, now that I’ve lived through her and in her and helped her along, to solve the spider web of doubts in her head.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Why is it that every time I meet someone new, the first thing that person and I always try to do is find a connection?
It usually starts with the person I’m meeting (let’s call him Phil) asking me where I’m from.
“Little Rock”, I say.
Phil, after thinking hard for several seconds, looking around the room, stalling, stalling, come on, I know that I know someone from there he thinks, and then finally says that, okay, okay fine, he doesn’t know anyone from there. Oh, but don't worry, there is no cause for alarm. Phil has his next question ready. He - as we all have, voluntarily or not - has done this plenty of times before.
“So, what are you doing in Stillwater?” he asks, genially. This is still calm, relaxed. We are just shooting the breeze, just chewing the fat. Just a plain old Howdy partner, what’s yer name type of a deal. I’ve a feeling that Phil’s initial friendliness will lead to frustration, nay, not mere frustration; this could damn near drive the poor boy insane.
I tell him that I’m here to study at Oklahoma State University for a semester and that I have a couple of cousins who go to school here. His face lights up.
“Oh, really?” Phil responds, smiling. He is excited about the prospect of knowing my cousins, and subsequently, ending this absurd quest for a connection. Oh, but the road is long Phil, the road is so long. But the road is life. Let us press on, brother o’ mine.
“Yeah,” I shrug, still not optimistic. “Jeff Alaback? Tricia Alaback?” I feebly offer. With campus enrollment over 20,000, the chances are not looking good for our man Phil.
Not surprisingly, we’ve struck out again. I can tell just from looking at him. I rack my brain – as he pretends to rack his – for other possibilities. Aha! I think this might just do the trick.
“You know, Phil, I do know some people from Norman and Tulsa as well…” I add, almost condescendingly at this point, feeling like I’m read a nursery book to a three-year-old… and then little boy Jimmy said that he knew some people from Norman town... where the big boys play. Wow!
Firecrackers are exploding where Phil’s eyes used to be. They are hungry, ravenous, eager for something to satiate this sad seeking of a common ground.
“Who do you know for Norman?” Phil is not asking, Phil is commanding, much like that drill instructor from Full Metal Jacket, acting as if this is his final chance at a happy and successful life. He’s just doing his fraternal duty. Or so I thought. But slowly, oh so slowly, I see Phil’s face start to contort something awful. And that’s when I realize…
This is the crux of his creation. The magnum opus. We’re at Wimbledon, he, Roger Federer, I, Andy Roddick, and this is his chance to put me away. This has somehow morphed into a competition. I can feel it. I no longer want to make a connection with Phil. I want him to leave feeling empty, sad. I want this to torture him for the rest of his life, give him nightmares, make him wet the bed, even after he is married. I want him to wear diapers. I want this to be his Vietnam and I want flashbacks to happen every day until finally he can no longer take it and he feels compelled to take his own life, hoping that we can connect in heaven, with a common knowledge of its’ master, Jesus Christ.
I list off a couple of names, slowly, strategically, trying to prolong his suffering. Each name is a return in our tennis match, wearing him down, piece by piece, until finally he will crack, he will break and then underdog will walk away with a Grand Slam Title. He’s losing the color in his face. He knows it is over. And then, as I say the last name on my list - delivering what I believe will be a Muhammed-Ali knockout punch - Phil grits his teeth and produces a wry and knowing smile. Oh shit. I got cocky. I threw one last name in for good measure, hit the ball once more to his side of the court, and he has delivered, oh has he ever delivered, and I’ve got nothing, nothing at all. It’s a match. Federer has done it again. He is the champ.
Come to think of it, I suppose I don’t really mind. Phil, sir, our connection has been made. I will most likely never see you again. Have a wonderful life.