Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's in a calling?

I don't usually like to unload my spiritual problems on anyone.  And even less so on my blog here since most of the followers of my blog are not Christian.  But recently, I began making some fundamental efforts to rejuvenate my spiritual life and strengthen my connection to God and His people.  I feel like I'm really making strides in this regard, but one thing I feel is really missing for me: a way to give back, ministry-wise.  I've wanted to get involved with a ministry at my church, but kept getting a "no" from God, and this is starting to get frustrating now with this newer and more concentrated effort to reconnect.  I mean, right now the most I'm doing for God is defending Christianity on internet message boards.  Whoop-de-doo.  I'm not changing anyone's minds really about anything, or anything that can even be considered remotely close to saving a soul or converting someone.  The best I'm doing is just showing that not all Christians are complete douchebags, and considering I just used the word "douchebag", I'd say I'm not exactly doing this job all that perfunctorily either.

So, I've really wanted to get involved again with the church.  Back in... oh man, how long ago?  2003 or 2004 I'd guess... I had thought about joining the choir.  I'm not gonna be added to the cast of "Glee" anytime soon, but I'm no William Hung either, at least I think I'm not though nuclear family members have told me otherwise growing up.  Well, one Sunday morning in August or September, just after the morning service, I was having juice and cookies with a friend from high school and her then-boyfriend (they're now married) who had just transferred to the graduate program at MSU, just talking with them.  The choir director walked up to us and introduced herself to the three of us.  She was fishing for new recruits.  Keep in mind, I only knew who she was because she's at the front of the sanctuary leading the choir... we'd never met.  She looks at me and said, "I've seen you around before..." and she then turns and looks directly at my friend and starts trying to recruit her.  I'm still standing there, kinda upset that she didn't even ask me if I'd ever considered joining choir.  While my friend is being invited, my brain and heart are screaming, "HEY!  Where's my invitation?!?!?!!!  Ask me to join!!!"  I left the building feeling... pre-emptively rejected.  Like walking onto a Broadway stage and hearing "NEXT" before I even open my mouth.  I left that day fairly certain that God doesn't want my larynx melodiously meshed with the men and women of the chorale.

Two or three years later, once again in fall, I had asked if there was gonna once again be a Welcome Back BBQ for the students, like they'd done in years past.  I was told that there had been no plans made, but hey great idea.  So, I was thinking maybe I should be a leader in the Campus Ministry program.  Why not?  I was familiar with the program, and last year, there was no leader, causing it to just fall apart for the school year.  As I was cooking burgers and hot dogs that morning for the cookout (not really a bbq, but you know what I mean), I was thinking about asking the senior pastor about possibly heading it up or at least leading in some capacity.  While I was cleaning my grill, the pastor got up and welcomed everyone there, and then proceeded to introduce the new campus minister, who'd be leading the program.  As the pastor kept talking, I felt God put His arm around me and say, "See I have provided for them already.  This is not for you."  I just about cried, and probably would have if a friend hadn't walked up to me that instant and made chit-chat with me.  It still makes me tear up a little to remember this.

The next calling I felt pulled towards was prison ministry.  Our church has a group of volunteers that regularly goes to a prison in the next county over and in addition to sharing the Word, also helps inmates in the process of getting ready to re-enter society.  I thought this would be great for me.  I called the lady at the church who headed this, and she put me in touch with the prison chaplain who gave me a phone interview and said everything looked in order.  I would hear from them soon about going through orientation.  Only, that was the last time I spoke with them.  I even asked the lady from our church about it.  It just simply appears that I must have been lost in the bureaucracy and wouldn't be allowed to join them.  Another rejection.

That was maybe a year ago.  The latest one happened last week.  Our church's full-time custodian is retiring, and they were looking to hire two or three part-time custodians to help fill in.  I sent a resume, had an interview and tour of the storage areas in the church.  Then Friday, I got the call.  I was not selected.  For other reasons I don't wish to get into here, this made going to church this past Sunday slightly awkward for me.

And the worst part is, there is a ministry out there... our denomination's version of the Boy Scouts, that my mother has suggested to me in the past about getting into.  On more than one occasion.  It feels like nagging.  And when the head counselor got wind that I'd been one such scout when I was a boy, he started talking really friendly to me about it.  The thing though is.... I don't WANT to do this one.  There are a few reasons that I haven't tried to get involved, but the main one is I just. Don't. WANT to do it!  Nothing about it feels or sounds right.  Me a role model for young boys in our church?  Are they nuts?!  Me trying to teach them about tying knots, map reading, or building model rockets... me, the guy whose tool sets are filing for separation?  This CAN'T be it!  But I feel like others are trying to SHOVE me into it.  And I'm resentful and angry about it.  How can it POSSIBLY be a calling for me?  Isn't a calling supposed to be a gentle, friendly invitation to serve?  It's not supposed to feel like a forceful push over the cliff!  I know following Jesus involves taking up a cross, but how can I go into His service with a feeling of DREAD towards that particular ministry?  Surely there has to be something else God wants me for!  (cue voice from above saying, "No, and don't call me Shirley!")

So, among the other aspects which are actually coming together relatively well, this is just a rut for me.  It's something I've felt and said before, but I feel the need to say it again: it's a horrible, horrible feeling for me to believe in God but be left feeling like maybe He doesn't believe in me.  Maybe this is one of those things that won't fall into place until after I move to British Columbia and start my new life with my true love, but for right now, it hurts so badly.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What's in the middle drawer?

"Faded photographs, covered now with lines and creases; tickets torn in half--memories in bits and pieces."--the Classics IV.

I'm not a Classics IV fan, but that's one of their better songs.  And of course, it's pertinent. 

I really thought I was moving on from the past, letting go of it.  I thought one of the reasons I'm moving to Vancouver is because I just wanted to get the heck away from the remnants of my past.  I went home to visit my parents, and while there, they suggested I go through my old drawer and sort out what I did and did not mind my niece and nephews, who often spend the night at their house, "borrowing" from me.  So I proceeded to do so.  A good portion of it I could throw away, like old notes or nicknacks from my college days.  Some of it I had to keep, such as returned checks and bank statements.  But a lot of it ended up being of sentimental value.

I found an old alabaster white elephant.  The trunk had broken off before I moved out of my parents' place, and now a leg is broken courtesy of the kids of my sister.  I also found parts of an old music box.  The housing for the actual musical mechanism is ceramic, I believe, and shaped like an upright piano.  Had three parts: a stool, an upper part where the mechanism actually is, and a lower, hollow part for what would be the pedals and upright support.  The stool is still intact, the bottom piece is completely broken and missing.  The upper shell is cracked.  The clockwork mechanism is missing and stopped working years ago.  The tune it played, by the way, I don't know the name of it, but it sounds very much like that crazy tune they play in "The Addams Family" when Gomez and Fester go down to the vault for this first time.... only done in a pretty, music box style.  These are two of the four things I still have to remind me of my maternal grandparents.  They let me have the elephant and the music box when we moved them out of their home and into a nursing home.  (The other two items are a picture of them that's still in a frame, and a sleeping bag they gave me one Christmas that used to be on my bed even after I moved out... but now I believe is packed away somewhere.)

I found my old Cadets scarf and slide.... Cadets is my denomination's version of the Boy Scouts.  The scarf and slide were part of the uniform.

My old "president trading cards".... many years ago, Little Debbie's tried to promote education by making trading cards of the U.S. Presidents.  I had the complete set way back when.  Now, I'm missing McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt, and I think there were cards for HW Bush and maybe Clinton... but I only have through Reagan.

And then I found a bunch of senior pictures of classmates.  A lot of the girls I had a crush on mainly (hey, I was a lonely teenage boy, I had a crush on about 80% of the girls I was in school with).  Brought back some memories.  Then I decided to leaf through an old yearbook I'd found laying around.

*smacks forehead repeatedly*  Idiot, idiot, idiot, idiot, idiot, idiot, idiot!

Oh the faces... saw the picture of a girl who was my first kiss.  She went to another elementary school in our district had been held back a grade, and moved away a couple years after the year of the yearbook I was flipping through.  Old classmates came back to haunt me, people I'd treated like crap, people that treated me like crap.  Wow.  Didn't think it'd evoke such an emotional reaction from me, but there was a lot of anger, remorse, affection, and humor resurrected within me. 

I thought it was over, that I was done with it.  But the past never truly goes away.  Oh it passes, sometimes like a stone, but it's never gone.  The Law Of Conservation of Memories... while they can be created (unlike matter or energy), they can never be destroyed, except perhaps by amnesia or Alzheimer's.  Buried, twisted, perverted, warped, yes... but never destroyed.

So my woman's gonna have to accept that when I come to BC to be with her, it won't be a clean slate.  Mostly erased, but silhouettes of past lessons and specks of chalk once used to express ideas and concepts will still be on that slate, and they always will be.  There's still room for her to write, but the slate will never be clean.

Maybe that's what getting over it is: rather than burying it, it's trying to find ways to keep writing on that slate as it progresses, because it's the only slate you're gonna get.

And for all that, I actually feel the most healed I've felt in awhile by actually going through it, and putting all that important stuff in the middle drawer of my old dresser.  And telling the niece and nephews not to touch anything in there unless they ask me first, the brats.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What's in a childhood romance?

I got my first kiss in kindergarten.  Nothing special, really.  A quick peck behind the school, in the woods where we weren't supposed to go but did anyway.  Still, it wasn't really a girlfriend.  But that was the closest thing I'd had to a girlfriend in my elementary school days.  And my junior high days.  And high school.  And college.  I was legally drinking before I had my first serious girlfriend, and while I've been spared the heartache of teenage romance gone wrong, I actually wish I hadn't.  All those fun and silly things associated with it, like being teased by friends on the playground.  Oh, I was teased, a lot, even for having a crush on a  certain girl, but not for being any girl's boyfriend.  Not even ribbing from my friends.  Never played Spin The Bottle, never been to a make-out party while the host's parents were gone for the night or weekend.  Never been in the closet with a girl for those Seven Minutes In Heaven.  Never held hands while walking in the hallway between classes.  No chasing after her while she giggles.  Shit, I never even went to either of my proms.  And at school dances, I had a total of TWO dances with girls, both of whom were friends of mine (though one I admit I had a major crush on). 

Maybe I have no one to blame but myself for that.  Whatever, not the point.  My shyness really isn't the topic of discussion.  And may not even be completely to blame either.  Whatever.  The point is, I feel like I've missed out on so much.  Even things I didn't think I'd miss, it turns out I do.  I see younger Facebook friends calling and being called "Boo" by their significant others.  As silly as it is, I wish that could have been a part of my life.

And now that I have The One for me, I'm too old, too "grown-up" for that stuff.  It sounds silly to call her "Boo", besides which she has a cat named "Boo."  Can't really play spin the bottle with only one possible outcome, and besides which, what if the bottle isn't pointing to her?  We're too old for Truth Or Dare.  And is it worth going into the closet for those seven minutes when the only people outside the door tittering at what's going on in there are her family members?  Methinks not.  Walking hand-in-hand through Metrotown isn't the same as the school hallways where you actually KNOW the people who see you two together.  And the friends who do kid me are good natured about it, but it's not like there's an element of sacrifice there, since my time with her isn't cutting into my time with them.

In some ways, it's nice, because in her case, she didn't have a lot of that either.  So in some ways, we're like two little kids, growing up and loving up together.  So I'm glad I have her for that, that we can experience that stuff for the first time together.  But still I can't help but feel like it's all ersatz, like there's no substitution for the real high school romance experience.  And any attempts to incorporate some of that in our experiences (outside the bedroom, you gutter-minds) is just going to appear and feel something like mid-life crisis and trying to recapture youth.

They say the past makes you who you are.  Still, I can't help but wonder if I'd have ended up that much different if I had at least experienced some of those things.  Besides which, sometimes the only thing I like about myself is that I have her.  So screw you, Past.  I don't care if I am all the more willing to uproot my life and get the fuck as far away from familiarity as possible because of you, you still fucking suck.

Still trying to get in touch with the inner child, in a good way if possible.

Sorry to those who read this.  I didn't really mean to sound as bitter as I probably do.  And to The One I refer to, I just hope you realize more and more how lucky I truly am to have you.  I love you very much.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's in a year?

“We’ve only just met, and yet, I feel like I’ve known you all my life.  We’ve just said ‘Hello’, I know, but still it’s like I’ve known you all my life.”—The Four Preps

A year ago today, I finally summoned up the courage to send a message to a girl who seemed pretty cute and pretty much my type.  Sending that message proved to be one of the best decisions ever in my life.  Since I often find joy in hearing the stories of how couples came to be… how they met, their early dates where they try to figure out if there’s something there, etc., I’d like to share mine, too, in case anyone reading this is like me in that regard.

For some time, my online friend Linda had been pestering me to join a particular dating site.  I was rather reluctant, having tried online dating services before with absolutely no luck.  Besides which, I had a girlfriend at the time, and I was happy with her, or so I thought.  But Linda saw right through me.  The more I talked with Linda, the closer of friends she and I became, and she could tell I was miserable.  Actually, I knew I was miserable too, but I figured a sad love or a bad love was better than no love at all.  That’s not to say I was dating a witch; my ex is really a nice girl with a lot to offer, but it just wasn’t meant to be for a number of reasons.  And it’s not really germane to the story, either.

Back on track, what finally got me to that site was Linda told me of the fun questions and quizzes, plus the instant chat function so that we could talk together more like in real time than by private messages.  So on September 19, 2009, I joined that dating site and started having fun with the questions and quizzes.  And filling out a profile too, because, hey, why not?  And of course, soon enough I began perusing other people’s profiles… and by “other people’s”, I mean “women’s.”  I created a list of “Favorites,” those whose profiles and pictures appealed to me most (mostly the pics, ‘cause I’m still a guy).  One of them was this irresistibly cute girl with a girl-next-door/possible naughty librarian look to her.  And each time I read her profile, the more I was intrigued.  The only thing that marginally worried me was her love of swing-dancing.  Mind you, I’m not scared of dancing, I just know I suffer from the Caucasian overbite.  But other than that, there wasn’t anything I didn’t like.

But I was a chicken.  I could not bring myself to send her a message.  She was in British Columbia after all!  I was trying to stay out of long-distance relationships, and this would be a LONG-distance relationship.  But I couldn’t stop looking at her.  She was so beautiful.  So I promised myself that I’d send her a message… if I saw that she was on the site at the same time as me.  I’d made the decision on a Monday, and when I saw her online that night and was getting ready to send her a message, I clicked “Refresh” and saw she’d gone offline.  Rats! 

So the next night I logged on while doing an air shift and saw her listed as being online, I gulped and started typing a message to her.  No backing out now.  I sent it to her.  After I hit “Send,” the page refreshed, and she was listed as offline.  Crap!  I logged off in frustration and browsed my favorite forums.  But the obsessively creepy weirdo in me wanted to go back to the dating site just in case.  So I went back and logged on a half hour later.

I don’t really remember how long I was on the site when my instant messenger window popped up.  It was the girl I’d finally gotten the cajones to write who was instant messaging me!  I talked to her for a solid three hours on chat, and I think I even got her to webstream the station I was at and dedicated a song to her.  Just as a lark. 

I went home that night thinking, “Holy cow, she responded!”  Lame, right?  Well, I didn’t really have any hopes up.  It was just a conversation.  That lasted for three hours.  And seemed to end too soon.  But hey, we’re just meeting, so why shouldn’t we have a lot of ground to cover… in one night.  But I had no expectations of the next night, for tomorrow is promised to no one.  But the next night, there she was again, ready to talk to me.  Whodathunkit?  And whodathunk it would be another three-hour conversation, this time having her call me at the station…voice contact!  Going home that night, I thought, “Cool, I found a friend!”  Because that’s how it usually ends up for me… stuck in the Friend Zone.  So again, no hopes up… especially after the third night (a Thursday), when after another three-hour conversation I found me saying to myself, “Aw dammit, you’re falling in love with her.”  Note: the “dammit” was because I figured there was no way she was going to feel the same way that I was beginning to feel.

I still talked to her on Friday night.  And Saturday night.  And Sunday afternoon, when she called me “Hon.” I figured that was a pretty good sign.  So by Monday evening, at the end of another three-hour conversation, I finally let slip those three little words.  I said them kind of meekly, bracing for rejection or “We don’t even really know each other yet!” or something like that.  Instead, a return volley of those three words with a “too” added to them.  I couldn’t believe my luck.  She was in love with me, too!  Just don’t ask me why.  I had no clue then, and I still don’t now.

And that was just within a week of “meeting” each other.  Since then we’ve spent two weeks together in person and we still talk on the phone everyday.  It’s still a long-distance relationship for now, but that distance will shrink considerably and will soon be as non-existent as the emotional distance between us.

I have truly found my other half.  The other half of my life.  I knew it within a month, which sounds really odd, but it’s true. And now a year later, I’m still incredibly in love with her.  It’s been the best year of my life, and though it’s been only a year, I feel I’ve known her forever, and that I always have known that she’s what I’ve been looking for.

Happy Anniversary, Erica.  One year down, a lifetime to go.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What's in the past...

"Separated, I cut myself clean of a past that comes back in my darkest of dreams"--DC Talk

Ah, if only it were that easy.  To just cut off the unpleasantries of the past and be done with them, and to no longer be haunted by the past pains. 

And to some degree it's actually happening.  The things that I've done that made me depressed no longer suck out my soul like a Dementor from Azkaban, well for the most part anyway.  They say the past is what makes you who you are today.  Non je ne regrettien... or something like that.  I don't speak French. 

And I guess it's finally coming true.  There are a couple memories that still truly haunt me.  A few things in the past that I truly would change if I could.  I'm not growing from them, and they sure as fuck haven't made me stronger.  No good has come from them.

But for the most part, it's finally starting to scab over.  It doesn't make me cringe like it did.  I guess maybe finally I'm starting to grow up and mature the way I've always tried to present myself.

And now I find myself with the overwhelming urge to shoot peas out of my nose.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What's in a question?

Did you ever have a question that you were dying to be asked?  Why did you want to be asked that question?  If it was in class, you were probably anxious to show off (if you were dying to be asked it again) or show the teacher that you WERE paying attention in class.  If that question was a marriage proposal, you were probably waiting to be asked it because it meant they wanted to marry you as much as you wanted to marry them, a true display of commitment.  For others, they were dying (sometimes literally) to be asked if they needed help.  Or if they wanted that position that just became available.  Whatever.  Generally, there's something they get by giving the answer.

I've got a question, somewhat like that too.  I don't know if I can honestly say though that there's something I want to get out of it so much as give.  There's an answer in me that's bursting to get out.  I want to be asked because I know the answer, and it's an answer that's deep within the heart and soul of me.  It's the reason for my continued existence, it's my testimony, it's my story, it's my essence.  It's been dwelling in me for two decades or so now, but only in the past half-decade or so did I realize the yearning to be asked this question.

But it's not an answer I can voluntarily give.  I have to be asked the question.  And you can't ask "What's the question?" and expect me to tell you.  There's a necessity that the asking of the question be unprompted.

Oh I've been asked questions that danced close to the question.  Some quite close, but never the question itself.  And it's an answer I want to share with the world, but am unable to do so.

I somehow suspect we've all got at least one question like that.  An answer you want to spill, but it's so guarded and personal and deep in the inmost being of you, that you cannot share it unless someone asks that question.  The key that is not only long enough to reach into your heart and soul, but fits so perfectly that the contents stored within would gush out with the opening of those cardiological and cranial cupboard doors.  And you just never get asked that question.

Crazy, right?  In our era of mass and instant communication, you'd think we'd get bombarded with so many messages, many questions, that one of them would HAVE to be that one question, right?  I mean, as the number of monkeys and number of typewriters increase steadily towards infinity, so do the actual odds that one of them will bang out Hamlet.  And yet, the question remains unasked and the answer closeted within us. 

May we all get asked our question, the one that allows our mute swan to rise up within us and sing its solitary note, thereby justifying our entire existence and giving us a sense of completed purpose.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What's In A Home? part two: more on the present and looking to the future

"[Lansing's] fine, but it ain't home; [Hamilton's] home, but it ain't mine no more"--Neil Diamond, paraphrased for my purposes.

In my former post, I began to talk about the need to feel at home.  This led me to talk about my move to East Lansing 7.5 years ago.  Actually, what brought me to this city was the job I have in radio.  It's been a slow climb, but I've been able to stake something of a reputation for myself here, a very meager one, but nice nonetheless. 

But I've always been hesitant to put down roots here because I always figured it'd be temporary.  Boy, was the joke on me there.  Even to older people, three-quarters of a decade really no longer constitutes "temporary."  But I didn't want to think of myself as being from the Lansing area.  I didn't change my driver's license to list East Lansing as my home city until I was coerced to do so.  I didn't want to transfer my church membership to the CRC church in East Lansing, and only did so when the home church in Hamilton said they were going to lapse my membership there since I was no longer attending their services.  Really, what I was waiting for was a full-time employment to be my anchor, that which would make it worth my while to plant myself firmly in one particular place and spur me on to start becoming a more contributing member of the community.

Boy, was I looking in the wrong place, in more than one way.

It sort of came out of nowhere, and certainly caught me off-guard.  Put simply, I fell in love with a girl from the Vancouver area.  Vancouver?!  Three time zones away... more than a full day's travel, even if I had a 300 gallon gas tank and didn't need sleep, it'd take about a day and half to drive to her.  Hard to say how I know she's "the one", but I know.  Correction: hard to say how I know she's "the one" without having you wonder if I've started drinking cleaner fluid again.  But she is.  And that officially makes her the first permanent root  of my post-collegiate life, the first firm anchor that I want in place for the rest of my life.

If you know anything about Canadians, unless they're in the entertainment industry, it's pretty difficult to get them to agree to move to the U.S., and even if they are entertainers, it's usually decided by a losing coin toss.  Point being, it's gonna be me who moves to be with her.  (Okay, other factors are involved besides nativism, but whatever).  I spent a week this month with her, and I mused over what moving to British Columbia is going to mean for me, and why I'm going to hate it.

-In addition to being a complete uprooting, I'm moving to a place where being an American is a strike against you. 
-I'm moving to a big city.  Even with the capital of the state next door to me, I've never really felt like I was living in a metropolis.  But this means going from a farm town, to a medium sized city, to a huge metropolis, and I've never liked big cities.  The family trip to D.C. when I was a kid kinda freaked me out.  Being serenaded to sleep by police sirens will do that to you, you know. 
-This is also a city that relies heavily on public transportation.  I hate public transport.  I genuinely enjoy driving.  Having to focus on the road helps you forget about your troubles, and if you're lucky enough to find your jam on the radio, that's a bonus.  Oh sure, I could still drive, but there's a reason Vancouver is so big on the public option, and it's not just because of the green factor.  Traffic is horrendous here.
-And if you know anything about Vancouver in particular... not an agricultural epicenter, but they are famous for one particular crop... one that's still widely illegal.  I've never even smoked a cigarette.
-The mountains here are actually quite lovely, but he cityscape is butt ugly.  Seriously, the buildings are just EYESORES!  They look like they're supposed to be collapsible for easy relocation.  And the colors.. .ugh.
-Train station performers.  Ben E. King is rolling over in his grave, and he's not even dead yet.
-Pacific northwest.... it rains a lot there.  And snows, too.  I do not look forward to driving in the snow in that hilly area. 
-I don't care if I am moving to Canuck country... I'll always root for the Red Wings.  Deal with it.
-Cost of living there... much higher.
-I believe I said something about possibly working in radio there... at a station where over a third of your playlist MUST be Canadian artists.  I hate this policy for so many reasons.  Let me just say this: there's a reason no self-respecting lite rock station in the States plays the Barenaked Ladies' "If I Had A Million Dollars."  Somehow, I feel that sums it up succinctly.

I don't remember everything I said about how I'd be an ill-fit for the territory.  Maybe if my woman wants to remind me of everything I said to her about it, I can extend the list.  But you get the basic idea.  I'd have to be nuts to want to move there.

But the truth is that, as they say, home is where the heart is.  So that means, that woman--who is everything I've ever wanted in a woman but was told I was naive and foolish for wanting or believing I could actually find--is my home.  I don't even feel comfortable at her house, but when we're snuggled up together... I am at home.  I feel a contentment within me that harkens back to the afternoons in high school when I'd come home and take a nap, and wake up just in time for dinner, knowing I'd still be able to get all my homework done by ten and that I'd still be able to fall asleep before eleven.

So I'll be moving to Vancouver sometime next year.  Whatever worries and anxieties lie in wait for the chance to haunt me upon my arrival, I'll move there to feel the embrace of an absolutely wonderful woman, an embrace that tacitly proclaims, "Welcome home."

Friday, October 29, 2010

What's in a home? part one: the past and somewhat present

I've lived in East Lansing for over 7.5 years now, and while it certainly does make me feel old, that's really not the issue (though that could be a whole different blog).  For the first 3.5 years or so, I never updated my driver's license to show my address as being in Lansing.  It'd always been in my hometown of Hamilton.  I figured there was no point to changing it, becuase I'd expected to find something stable soon.  A full-time job where I could make a place my home, instead of renting a room.  It didn't even have to be a house... an apartment of my own would've been fine.  Well, it certainly is testimony to naivete/stupidity, but about 4 years ago, I was in a minor accident.  The other car wasn't scratched at all, but my driver's side mirror was knocked loose.  Nonetheless, the officer who responded told me that I would have to change my permanent address to the current address or else face further fining.  I'm not sure if he has that authority, but at the time, I wasn't about to argue with him, so I did it. 

I wasn't happy about it then, but it was a good thing.  Though East Lansing has never really felt like home, going back to Hamilton has been a bit like the Twilight Zone... when I found out my old Quiz Bowl Coach (and I think he's still a football coach) now lives on a road that was on my bus route.  And all the private "roads" that have cropped up (y'know... driveways that are so long, they have a blue sign to note whose driveway it is).  It's kind of buzzkill to your sense of wanderlust to know that if you satisfy it, you'll be arrested on multiple counts of trespassing. 

Other changes include the ice cream joint that became a rib joint is now an ice cream joint again, under different ownership.  The grocery store having to be open on Sunday (not the manager's choice, btw).  A party store... growing up, there was the Quick Stop, but it wasn't a "party store" in the way you usually visualize a party store.  But they did have some pretty awesome pizza.  But now there's a more conventional party store in town.... before, you'd have to drive to the south side of Holland for a real party store.  As far as I know there's still no stoplight in the town, but that's bound to change, I'm sure.  And don't think it won't be a local tourist attraction either.

It's all so strange now.  Hardly feels like home.

But East Lansing doesn't either.  Never has.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's in a name?

I have to admit, there have been times in the past when I wanted to start a blog, but I always procrastinated on it.  I mean, does anyone really give a shit what I'm thinking most of the time?  Highly unlikely.  Nonetheless, things are are just weighing too prevalently upon my mind, and I have to get them out, if only for my peace of mind.  Or piece of mind... the piece that's left, that is.  Since a couple friends of mine have blogs here as well, I figured I'd try a blog out here. 

And yet, with worries and woes weighing upon my head, it was signing up for here which proved to be a bigger pain in the posterior.  I knew that if I ever started a blog, I wanted to call it "The War Room"... a combination of a couple different memes.  One of which is that silly bumper sticker/T-shirt that says "6 of the 7 voices in my head don't like you."  And another which I must credit my friend Laura with, who insisted I see Dr. Strangelove, and in doing so, subjected me to her favorite line, "You can't fight in here!  This is the War Room!"  So I just jammed the two together with the thought that if my brain were a building with rooms, and all my cranial voices convened in the War Room, all hell would break loose. 

Well, it seemed much funnier in my head.

So I originally wanted the title "The War Room: Where The Voices In My Head Go To Duke It Out".  But this was too long.  So, I was just going to shorten the end to "Head Duke It Out" or "Head Go To Fight"... no good, still too long.  And Fight didn't really say what I wanted it to.  So, it was eventually whittled down to "The War Room: Where The Voices In My Head Brawl".  And now as I type this, I see it may still be too long, as I have the ellipsis after "In My."  Sheesh.  Give me a frakkin' break.  Still, despite what the web page may say at the top, the official, formal title for my blog is "The War Room:  Where The Voices In My Head Go To Duke It Out."  And failing that, I'll change the name to a strange symbol of sorts and get all pissy when you try to call it "The Blog Formerly Known As The War Room:  Where The Voices In My Head Go To Duke It Out."

Then there's the URL.  Naturally, I started with "thewarroom".  I figured it was a good name.  What I forgot is that usually all the good names are taken.  Such was the case here.  I tried warroom, the-war-room, the-warroom, thewar-room, the_war_room, the=war=room, the last two of which told me that the _ and = characters were not allowed.  Rats.  Suddenly, I tried adjusting it with "inthewarroom".  Available!  Sold!  Only issue is now I have the urge to sing Cream songs... In the war room, with black curtains....  I don't even like Cream.  Nothing against the trio, just not a fan of acid blues.

So here I am.  With a blog that isn't quite named the way I want it, but it'll meet my needs.  The things we go through just to have a place to complain.  Oy vey.