The Journey

It’s always been difficult for me to remain humble. The slightest compliment was a perfect excuse to politely brush it off, then turn it around into a self-delivered, bold, pat on the back. 

I’m finding it hard to not be humble over the course of the last month. People have been so quick to tell me how proud they are of me, and how my stories have inspired them, or touched them and as I politely say thank you, inside, I can feel the self-conscious blush and the overwhelming humility I feel as I wonder,  “why me”?

How can someone so small and so insignificant be an inspiration to anyone? 

But the more I learn, the more I experience in my new Journey with Christ, the more I am assured that my experience is real. That… it’s not some self induced sense of being moved by great sermons -and they are great- but that the hand of God reached down and touched me. A life-changing touch more brief than the woman who touched Jesus cloak and was healed of her 12 years of bleeding, yet, like her, I was healed of a miserable lifetime of doubt and sin and living a self-serving life. 

I am truly honored to know that even a little person like me can be welcomed into the Kingdom of God and stand beside his servants. 

Tonight, Pastor King told me that I have blessed his heart. Me! I though I was invisible to the world, but I’m reminded over and over that I’m not invisible to the God that I turned my back on for most of my life, and to know that the same God I turned from has a place for me… Nothing else could be so great. 

Lord, I am humiliated and ashamed of how I’ve lived my life,  and at how I’ve neglected you and turned away from you. I truly believe that I do not deserve your mercy or your grace, and I pray that you can continue to use me, not just as an example, but in anyway that you see fit. I serve you, my Lord, and by the grace of your beloved son, Jesus, I pray that you will continue to guide my life, which I put in your hands. 

Amen

 

From February 1, 2012

Metamorphosis (Or, How I Found God)

Is this what it feels like when the butterfly begins to emerge from the cocoon? Reborn, seeing the world, although vaguely familiar, through new eyes?? It defies my life-long, logic filled thought patterns. 

Something is happening to me, and it’s so good, I’m almost afraid to let it carry me off. To cut to the chase, after searching, questioning and doubting for my entire life, I finally found, and felt God. It’s just that simple. I’m sure thoughts of every bad thing you’ve ever heard or thought about religion are storming through your head, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the purest examples of God. A sense of calm; so calm it’s making my head spin. Love. Not physical love, but just love for everything I see and everyone I know. I absolutely feel love for the people in my life, instead of the normal feelings if disdain I’ve always had. And direction. I feel like I’m well armed, instead of the feeling of defenselessness I’ve always had. 

Kevin and Jim and their families have been very supportive of me, and have gently steered me in this direction. I’ve resisted, struggled, accepted at times and tried to see whatever it is that they see, without success. But this past Sunday, on a strong urge to go to Church, I truly believed God finally made his presence known to me. For the past months, I’ve spent a lot of time, curled up in a ball, feeling hopeless, lost, miserable; crying, no – sobbing – non stop sobbing, thinking it was on deaf ears. That whoever this God was, he wasn’t paying attention to me. He didn’t know or care about me. 

I always hear that it happens when you are at your most vulnerable. When you are at the bottom of the pit, and death is looking like a comfort. 

In Church Sunday, listening to the Pastor talk about Joseph and his murderous brothers, the pit he was cast into and how it relates to our lives, I suddenly, and unexpectedly felt like I was alone in that building. I truly could not sense the presence of the congregation behind me. And every word that came out of Pastor’s mouth, described me and my life perfectly. Not just described it, but it was me that he was talking about, and me he was talking to, and as I half muttered prayers under my breath, asking God to PLEASE just come to me, tears started streaming down my cheeks. I started to quiver, and felt displaced from the entire crowd of people and all I could hear was Pastor, describing how we put ourselves in similar pits; describing me to me; warning about Satan’s lies, and it all just happened. I wish I had the words to describe it, but afterwards, I felt like a different person. Like I was a blind man just getting sight for the first time in my life. 

Now, I can’t get it out of me and I don’t want to. I actually wish that traumatic moment would happen to me again and again. Like a jolt, keeping me conscious. Now, I’m not ready to grab a Bible and robe and walk the earth proclaiming God’s word. Hell, I don’t even know God’s word. But I do know his presence. That I am positively sure of and that God made that presence known to me, in the front row at Riverside Church this past Sunday. 

Could anything in life be as good as that? 

Well, I did meet a girl that I am just head over heels about, and I don’t even know her yet, but it just feels right. A woman that is walking the same direction I am, shedding a similar past. 

The hell with logic. Following my heart seems like the way to go.

 

From January 11, 2012

 

Looking Back, Looking Ahead…

In 1989, I met a girl named Renee on December 30th, and we spent the next four years in a relationship. On December 31st of that year, she took me to a party and we stopped at her friend’s house, where everyone was given a bottle of Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante. 

Tonight marks the 22nd consecutive New Years Eve that I’m breaking open a bottle of Asti. Last year, I bought 2 bottles, in hopes that I would be celebrating yet another bad ending and an optimistic beginning. Tonight, I find myself in the same boat. Looking back at a bad year and ahead with optimism. But this year, more optimistic than hopeful. 

This year ended just as it had begun; a 3 month stretch of not seeing the kids and the War Of The Roses, still Raging. I spent the year at the same hateful job, in the same overloaded position, the same low pay, everything the same. I struggled to pay bills and end this year behind on all of them, again. I struggle with untreated depression and aching loneliness and an overall empty feeling. 

So, what’s different? Why does 2012 bring expectations instead of just wishful thinking? 

Well, for one, I’m starting a new job next week. A little better pay. A lot better atmosphere. An appreciative boss and instead of filling the role of a manager, but not being recognized as one, I come to this new place in charge of my department. 

I made some friends this year that I know have my best interests at heart. Friends that think about me when I’m not around, and I about them. People that are pulling for me. And praying for me. Which brings me to my most profound change in attitude. After years of lying to myself and anyone that would listen about how “spiritual” I am, with the help of my new friends, I’ve taken a step towards God and a truly spiritual life. One step, the first of many, and I have my fears. Letting go is never easy for me. Trust is not easy for me. Belief in anything is not easy for me, but I’m looking and moving in the right direction. 

There are still setbacks. My truck is in the shop with an 800.00 repair bill, but I have the kids this weekend. And Bridget actually started talking sensibly for a change. 

So I take my first sip of this year’s Italian nectar and I toast you, Jim & Loni, Kevin, Chris & Cyd, Pastor and the people at the church and everyone else that’s had an impact on my life this year. 

Cheers. Salud!

Happy New Year and God, Bless each and every one.

 

From December 31, 2011

Sixty Five Dollars Expanded

Wow, some people think I’m on the verge of suicide, so I want to explain the previous post. 

I Can’t Pay My Bills

I barely break even on each of them and I’ve cut out as much dead weight as I can. I’m even trying to lure a 2nd room mate in here, but I’ll have to give up the bedroom that’s supposed to be for my kids, meaning them doing over-nights could be jeopardized. 

I’m Not Healthy

In the spring, I started doing P90X and I was killing it; for about a month. I could really feel a transformation too, but then, it just stopped and I haven’t been able to start it up again. In the mean time,  I can’t afford to eat healthy, so I live on frozen dinners, frozen pizza and junk food, trying to keep my weekly shopping budget to what I can afford; approximately 40.00 a week. 

I Can’t Find Any Motivation

And that’s the truth. I just can’t seem to do anything. 

I Procrastinate To A Fault

See above. 

I Hate How My House Looks.

It’s not a mess, but it’s not clean. I struggle to just put the laundry away. The belt broke on my vacuum, 3 months ago. I haven’t fixed it. I started remodelling the bathroom. Can’t seem to get up enough to finish it. I’d KILL to rearrange the living room, and I can’t take 5 minutes to figure out how. 

I Don’t Have A Single Close Friend

I actually do have a few good friends. Chef Kevin and Kevster are at the top of that list, but it’s not like a best, life long friend that I see so many people have. I don’t. Not one 

I Don’t Know Love

This is a tough one. I meet women I’m interested in, and not one, not one is interested back. In fact, they seem turned off by the idea. And any that ARE interested in me, are usually the lowest common denominator. I feel like I must be the least attractive person on he planet. I can’t even stand how I look, when I see pictures of myself. I just feel like no one loves me. No one. 

I Hate My Job & I Hate My Boss

Those go together. I LOVE the work I do, but I hate where I do it. My boss is so self-righteous, treats everyone like shit. Like he’s better than us. And he sits there and watches all of us struggle to get by, all of us, and will NOT lift a finger to give any of us a single dime more. On top of that., we don’t get paid vacations. We don’t get paid holidays (Which will kill most of us over the next 6 weeks), we don’t get insurance. Miss 3 hours in a week, and he takes a dollar an hour away for that week. 8 hours means 2 dollars an hour, or down to minimum wage for most of the people there. He only allows 2 excused instances of missing time a year. a YEAR! That means every time I go to court now or anything related to that, I lose an extra 40 bucks for the week, on top of the time missed. I can’t even afford to get sick. 

I Hate Most Of My Co-workers

Most of the people I work with have been in and out of jail, battled addictions, and are the shadiest people you’d ever want to meet. Note, some of my co-workers, I really like. 

I Hate My Neighbors

They’re all either loud, filthy, nosy or live in one of the three crack houses on the block. 

I Can’t Build My Website.

I started one, to turn into a personal portal and portfolio for my work, but I’m lost on the design, and I can’t find the inspiration to get it finished. 

I Hate Peoria

I just do. I just… do. I miss home so much. I can’t believe how home sick I am, and I can’t even afford to go visit. 

I Can’t Find A Better Job

I have looked and looked and looked. Until I moved here, I never, one time, didn’t get a job that I tried for, and I need to go back to my part time job, but the district manager, who I got along with fine, never returns my calls. 

I Haven’t Seen My Kids In Months

Bridget does this. She just arbitrarily stops letting me see them for extended periods, and gets away with it, every single time. My kids and I had this awesome bond, and she has made it her mission to drive wedge between us, and that just kills me. And no body takes her to task for it. No body. She just gets away with whatever she wants. Out of all the things I listed that I hate, none come close to how much I hate her. If she would just die, my life would improve, vastly. Somehow she made it through child birth. Maybe she’ll go back to drinking herself to death, if I’m lucky. 

I’m In A Dark Place I Can’t Get Out Of. & I’m So Lost

I just feel lost. So lost and empty. And I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. 

I’m So Lonely

I can’t even find the words to cover that one. I am, so lonely. 

I Feel Like I’m Dying, Slowly

Sometimes, I lay here and I swear I can fell the life slowly draining out of me. 

I Don’t Understand How I Got Here.

Not to be confused with I don’t know how I got here. I know how. I made some very wrong decisions, and it all started when I let myself get involved with my kids mother. My life was so good before that and continually just gotten worse and worse and worse since. What I don’t understand is why did do that? Why?? I NEVER made stupid decisions like that before. I’d NEVER have let myself get involved with someone as chaotic and out of control. What the fuck was I thinking? And how do I ever recover? How the hell do I get out of this crux I’m in? 

I Cry, A lot.

That is an understatement. I cry all the time. I see a movie where people fall in love and I cry. I see people’s losses, and I cry. I look at the ruins that my life has become and I cry like a little kid. Sobbing, tears streaming down my face and I wish I could disappear and pull the my whole life in behind me as I go.

 

From November 20, 2011

Sixty Five Dollars

I can’t pay my bills

I’m not healthy

I can’t find any motivation

I procrastinate to a fault

I hate how my house looks

I don’t have a single close friend

I don’t know love

I hate my job

I hate my boss

I hate most of my co-workers

I hate my neighbors

I can’t build my website

I hate Peoria

I can’t find a better job

I haven’t seen my kids in months and that doesn’t look to change any time soon

I’m a dark place I can’t get out of

I’m so lost

I’m so lonely

I feel like I’m dying, slowly

I don’t understand how I got here

I cry, a lot

 

I have sixty five dollars to my name….

 

From November 19, 2011

Days Of Tears

Each year at this time, I repeat a routine I have in honor of the attacks of September 11th, 2001. I don’t watch any programming about that terrible day until after September 10th, and I do that for a reason. On September 10th, I was happy. The world was happy. It may have been the last happiest day I’ve known, outside of when my children were born, since. 

I don’t remember much about September 10, 2010. I know it was a Monday. I worked. I probably spent some time dealing with my Booking and Promoting business. I may have spent time talking to my friends, and family, and i’m sure that night, like every night before, I went to sleep with very few worries on my mind. The next day…. was the worst day I can ever know. 

I’m not from New York City. I’ve never lived there. I had been to New York City many times, but I wasn’t there when the city was attacked, yet in New York, it doesn’t matter what part of New York you’re from. Whether it’s Upstate, Down State, Plattsburg or Binghamton; Chautauqua County or Jefferson County, New Yorkers are bound together. It’s one of those states, like several others where you can meet someone else from New York, and you just know. You just feel the bind. 

This year marks the significant tenth anniversary, and I’ve been watching a series about rebuilding  the 16 acres that were destroyed that day called Rising: Rebuilding New York. Each episode is about the reconstruction of  a different segment of the area known as Ground Zero and the amount of care, and technology and engineering… the thought put into the reconstruction is overwhelming. 

 One episode is about the new Tower One; 1776 feet tall. It’s not just a new tower, but every aspect of it it designed with a purpose. Be it tribute or structural integrity. Another episode is about the new Transit Hub, highlighted by an above ground structure that represents a large, steel spine, with structural ribs at angles, jutting out from the center. The designer took into account the angle of the sun when the first tower was hit and the angle again when the second tower collapsed and designed the piece to echo those angles so that when the sun gets to a certain point, the light shining down creates an aura of a welcoming, great place. 

The trees planted at the Memorial Site are arranged so that if you walk North-South, it’ll resemble walking a random path the to the Waterfalls. East-West is reminiscent of  walking through the aisles in a sacred temple. The waterfalls themselves, are built in the foundations of where the original towers stood. The plumbing work beneath the towers is some of the most impressive ever conceived. The fountains themselves are surround by bronze plates, bearing the names of each person that died here. And not just listed in random order, but thoughtfully arranged so that people who had any type of relationship are cut into the plates near each other. 

 The tower is designed with incredible structural integrity making it one of, if not the strongest building in North America, along with being the tallest. The museum houses remnants of the World Trade Center and the people who died there. The famous tridents that surrounded the towers are some of the more memorable images, and two were salvaged and will be the center pieces of the new museum. Even the glass atrium surrounding the museum was designed with the glass etched to reflect the lines of the original towers, fading as they near the spot of the the tridents so that maximum viewing can be seen, unobstructed from the outside. Even the reflective quality of the glass is designed so that from the outside, your reflection will make you look as though you are inside, standing with the ghosts of the remains of the World Trade Center. Even the placement of the new towers was designed to allow an unfettered beam of light to shine down on the spot of the north tower at the exact moment of the first attack. 

Each night for the last few days, I’ve immersed myself in remembrance of what happened that day. And I’ve spent most of that time in tears. It doesn’t take much; an image of a destroyed fire truck being lowered into the basement of the museum; A parent’s tale of the loss of a child in the attacks; an image of the damage; of someone that died. It rushes back and it takes over my soul and my emotions and I’m transported back to that day. To that minute when evil revealed itself to all of us, and tore a piece of every single American away, never to be recovered. I’ve cried a lot, needless to say, and it’s affected my overall mood, which has been sullen and angry. 

People may ultimately see this as a form of self torment. They may say it’s not necessary. But I believe that this sado-masochistic ritual is very important, because without it, I’m afraid of becoming complacent. I’m afraid that I may start to forget the way I was affected on 9/11, as I, along with the world, stood transfixed by the images of  the horror that was unleashed that morning. And I cannot allow myself to forget. 

The attacks on the World Trade Center, on a city I love, New York, and on my country have affected me in way that nothing else in my life ever has, and I hate it that I had to see that. Nobody should have had to experience what we did that day, and I long for September 10th, 2001, when I was happy.

 

From September 13, 2011

Bullying

I’m watching a CBS news report about how the bullying that a 7th grade girl in Ohio has endured has to come light, and watching it takes me back to my high school days, because it’s so similar and familiar to me. 

I don’t talk about it a lot, although I have, but I was bullied mercilessly in school. It started in 8th grade, but escalated when I was in my freshman year. The kids in my high school class, to this day, were an anomaly to me. It seemed like they were this pack of wolves that all ran together and took no hostages. If you weren’t in, you were very out. It’s hard to describe. To this day, I can’t really describe what they were like. Vicious, cruel, arrogant. 

I think what made it so bad, and what made it elevate the way it did was that, for one, it caught me off guard. I didn’t know how to react to it, and instead of standing up, I wilted. I think most people know that wilting only makes it worse. In my case, I never saw anyone else in that school go through what I did. 

By 10th grade, I started to become afraid. I remember specifically Mr Schmidt’s science class. It got so bad in that class that I would hide down the hall until just when class was starting, and then I’d rush in, so that the teacher would be in the room, because if he wasn’t, I was helpless. During class, the people at my table, boys and girls, would hurl non-stop insults and threats my way. It was impossible to concentrate on the class. It was impossible to do anything but sit there and crawl deeper and deeper inside myself, wishing it would just stop. Understand, this wasn’t just verbal abuse. I was constantly hit, pushed, tripped… I was stabbed in the back with a pencil one time. Another time, I was stabbed in the leg. If I came to school with a cold, I would be accused of crying and made fun of. Everyone took aim at me, and the other kids that would have been targets, stayed away from me, so they wouldn’t get caught up in the abuse I was enduring. 

In 11th grade, I began to regress. I was a pretty good kid, academically, but it fell apart. I refused to go to the classes that were the worst. Eventually, I was afraid  to stay in school, because after 8 hours of being kicked around, the bus ride home would be unbearable, so I’d leave early, and walk home. I was labelled a trouble child, because of all the classes I was skipping. When I didn’t show up for detention, I was suspended. The thing is, I wasn’t a trouble child. I wasn’t a bad kid. I was scared. 

At times, I’d let on to what was happening, but it was overlooked. By my mother, by the administration, the teachers. It was a “kids will be kids” thing. Of course, you never really want to let anyone know how bad it is, because even though you’re beaten down, you still have a shred of pride you want to hold onto. Only one person ever stood up for me, and it was recently that I told his sister about how much I still admire him for that. Even my own friends, at times, would get some jabs in, just to keep the wolves off of them. 

When I was a senior, I was expelled for missing classes. I ended up at a school for kids that couldn’t adjust or were in trouble all the time, and I did graduate, with a diploma from my home high school, since each kid in the place I ended up was still sponsored by the school that they had been removed from, but the final nail was driven home. I never went to college. My transcripts were horrible. In 4 years I went from straight A’s to to failing. I’ve spent my entire adult life, maladjusted. Afraid to fight, backing down to physical confrontations. Giving up easily when faced with severe challenges that life just sends your way. My relationships have been failures and I’ve never really stuck to anything and it all goes back to what happened to me. I carried a big chip on my shoulder for many years, and even to this day, I still have a lot of resentment. I’ve always felt like the loser I was accused of being as a kid. Only during the time I was in the Army, did I finally find an escape from it. I think that, over the course of my adult life, I’ve known immense popularity at times. I’ve let myself be involved in as many things as I can, not just for the experience, but looking for acceptance, but it’s always just eluded me, and I think it’s sad, that I’m still affected by what I went through. 

When bullying became a mainstream topic in the 90′s, I found myself sympathizing with the victims that deflected what they were going through into violent acts, like Columbine. Now, as I look at my kids, so young, I constantly worry about which crowd they’ll run with in school. How they’ll handle bullying, no matter which side of it they find themselves on. 

And I think that so many people I went to school with are on my Facebook friend’s list and will see this and I wonder, I just wonder… will they remember?

 

From September 16, 2011