Quick Bit of Humor…

 Brittany turned in her writing project and was initially told her paper was not acceptable.  “What she exclaimed” The professor said he ran a program that checked her paper against the internet and found something that was an exact match of what she turned in.  “But I wrote these stories, I promise” claimed Brittany.  The professor told her about a site that found her two stories posted upon them.  After reviewing the site a smile came on Britt’s face.  That’s my step-dad’s blog; he posted my stories because he enjoyed them so much.  To which the professor said, “He must be very proud of you, your stories are wonderful.”

 

Brittany, I am very proud of you.

Another View of Dinner…

As noted in the previous post, our lovely and talented daughter Brittany was required to write a paper decribing an event.  She chose to write about dinner with the family.  The assignment had a second part as well.  She was required to write the same story from another persons vantagepoint.  Here is the same event as seen by Alainey in Britt’s mind.

 

“LAINEY-BOB!”

 

“Oh,  no…he did not just say that. My name is ALAINEY, not ‘Lainey-Bob.’ I know he is perfectly ok with having like four hundred different names, but it doesn’t mean I am. In our house alone, we all call him something different. I call him R.C, Britt calls him Mike, Michayla calls him Daddy, and mom calls him all sorts of things. Why am I thinking this? Focus, Alainey, focus!  I hope Josh didn’t hear him…we just started going out…I don’t need that nickname going around school. I hope he didn’t see Josh’s arm around me…” I snapped out of my trance in just enough time to avoid running straight into the car door.

 

“How was your day, Lainey-bob?”

“Good…”, I responded. “Crap…I answered too fast. He SO saw Josh’s arm around me…crap, crap, crap!”

“So…who was the boy?” The pitch in R.C’s voice rose, as the question neared its’ end. I stepped into the car and fiddled around with my gorgeous new Juicy Couture jacket, trying to avoid the topic entirely.

           

            For the remainder of the drive home, R.C asks questions and I dodge them effortlessly through a series of subject changes. It seems that R.C is easily distracted. I point to a tree with the leaves still in tact, even with the below freezing temperatures. He begins to talk about how amazing the tree is and how God’s creation is so beautiful. When we get home supper is on the table. I am once again being questioned about Josh. “Damn…I thought he forgot about that.”  I decide to tell my family everything…it’s just easier that way. Throughout my rant, I continually glance over at my sister, who looks troubled.

 

“So how was your day, Brittany?” I say, hoping that the attention could now be focused on her instead of my currently pending relationship with Josh. (I say pending because my mother doesn’t exactly like the idea of her 14 year old daughter dating.)

            “Confusing. I don’t know…I’m having another ‘what the hell am I going to do with my life’ freak-out. How did you guys become so successful? I look at Mom and Mike, and I just get so scared that I will never measure up.” Brittany says, as her eyes begin to fill with tears.

 

           

            “ha…I knew that would get their minds off of Josh. Thank the Lord my sister is so screwed up…wow…I can’t believe I just said that…whatever. Thank you, Brittany!”  I look over to my parents, one of which has a comforting, yet strange smile etched onto his bearded face. “Brittany-Sue, when I was in college, I had NO idea I would end up being a stockbroker. Hell, fifteen years ago I had no idea. I have done everything from cleanin’ up Kennel crap, managing a restaurant and preaching, to construction, landscaping, and driving around in a truck delivering beer! It’s all about the journey! What you are doing right after graduation, I can guarantee you, is not what you will be doing fifteen years from now. Just worry about this semester, sweetie!” R.C always does have the right words to say when it comes to Brittany and her many ‘freak-outs”.

                        Rubbing my sister’s back, my mom looks at R.C and says, “What about your day honey, how was it?” Once again, his smile returned to his face. We then spend a majority of our time listening to R.C talk about golf balls. “This is why I don’t have friends over for dinner…” I think to myself as my parents get up and start dancing to some weird, old song. After dinner, my family sits in the living room and starts talking about the Notebook. As I am walking up the stairs, I hear R.C say, “Real men cry!” “Real men don’t watch the Notebook!” I say, as I head to my room.

            “Finally, some alone time. Are other families this bizarre? They can’t be. What am I going to do if I ever get the ‘ok’ to have Josh over? R.C is going to ask him all sorts of questions…then, he will probably dump me.”

           

            In the middle of my very own freak-out (Oh no…I am turning into my sister…), R.C opens my door. “Come downstairs, Lainey-Bob! We are going to watch the office!” I try to explain to him that I just don’t want to. As I am doing so, I unnoticeably scan his outfit. “Where do you even buy a shirt like that? Don’t people like smoke hemp or something?”  After about five minutes of me declining and of R.C strongly suggesting, I give in. I sit on the couch in between my two sisters and grab the some of R.C’s homemade popcorn. Looking around the room at my sisters, mom, and my hemp wearing, golf ball hawking, every now and again embarrassing step-dad, I come to a realization. “Josh would be lucky to meet my family.”

Dinner with the Fisher’s…

Our lovely college student Brittany, recently was required to write a paper on an interesting subject.  She chose to write about a “typical” dinner with the family.  I’m proud to have such a talented young lady in our home.  Here is what she wrote.

 

I crinkle my nose as the smell of a freshly cooked meal overwhelms the air surrounding me. As my family sits down at the dinner table, I glance at my stepfather. With his nicely trimmed beard, Beatles hat, and hemp sweater, he looks up and says with his southern drawl, “Let’s get to eatin!” My family’s mealtime conversations are far from anything normal. Mike, my stepfather, has Frank Sinatra playing lightly in the background and jumps up from time to time to dance to “Summer Wind”. “How was your day?” is the question that usually begins our dinnertime dialogue. My sisters babble for a bit about their schoolteachers or a current new 6’4’’ boyfriend. Then I begin to explain my concern for life post-college. My stepfather reassures me that what I am doing right after college, will not be what I am doing fifteen years from now. “Brittany-Sue, when I was in college, I had NO idea I would end up being a stockbroker. I have done everything from cleanin’ up Kennel crap, managing a restaurant and preaching, to construction, landscaping, and driving around in a truck delivering beer! It’s all about the journey! Just worry about this semester, sweetie!” Then, while comfortingly rubbing my back, my mother directs the question towards her husband, who, with excitement in his eyes, looks how a kindergartner would look when waiting to get called upon. Often times, I find myself leaning in, making sure to pick up on every word of his colorful and vibrant retelling of the day.  “I went golf ball hawkin!” He looks very pleased as he takes a bite out of his raspberry-marinated steak. He begins to explain how “hawkin” has a certain ‘zen-like’ quality to it and laughs at the puns being formed when he says things like “handling dirty balls”. “I saw the most miraculous sight today! Buddy-boy and I were on the seventh hole, a deer came out, and started kicking the golf ball around! Such a sight…nothing compares to being out there in nature with nothin but your dog and a pitching wedge.” About two minutes into his rant he stops, scoops up my mother, and says “Our song!” They then begin to twirl around the living room like a ballerina does in a jewelry box.

   Demanding attention is an act that Mike does not need to partake in. When he walks into a room, its’ occupants want to hear what he has to say. He has the mind of a philosopher, with the heart of a dreamer. I will always remember something that he preached in a sermon when I was sixteen: “Step outside your everyday way of living.  Look at today for exactly what it is…a present.  Today is the most important day in your whole life.  So focus on it.  Let today be the day you stop and smell the flowers, let today be the day you notice the clouds again, let today be the day you start chasing butterflies.” His ‘embrace the moment attitude’ is why strangers are drawn to him, why I take pride in him, and why my mother dances with him.

    After his mid-dinner workout, Mike venture’s back to the table and instructs me to go into his office and retrieve a book. His office is very fascinating: a blue acoustic guitar plastered with stickers promoting peace, one reading “Free Tibet”, leans effortlessly against his desk; the program from his latest play, in which he takes the role of a father of a crippled boy, hangs on the wall adjacent to the window; in the corner of the room, sit two large buckets of “hawked” golf balls; worn books are lined up unevenly on a shelf; The Electric Kool-Aide Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe, being the requested piece of literature. As I return to the table, I am caught in a battle between husband and wife.

                       

                        “I asked you if it was Jasmine rice, Michael, and you said no!”

“You never asked me that. You just asked me if we had rice and I said yes Ma’am!”

“When I talk all you hear is ‘blah, blah, blah, isn’t it?” my mother concluded.

Feeling slightly confused, I said “I have the book.” They were already laughing and holding hands again. “These two are nothing more than teenagers with degrees”, I thought to myself

‘You should read it, Britt!” Mike says enthusiastically.

“She’s got plenty to read already in school, honey.” My mother says.

“Yes Dear, but those books do little to stimulate the noggin!”

After taking a bite of my mother’s amazing mashed cauliflower, I say, “ Couldn’t agree more. College isn’t the place to go for ideas, according to Helen Keller!”

 

            With the conversation at an end, a high-pitched yet manly yell rings in my ears. “CLEAR THE TABLE, GIRLS!!” “Do you have to do that every time?” Mom asks rubbing her ear, hoping that her eardrums have not been damaged. “These scraps will be great for Buddy-boy!” That man and his dog…it truly is a sight. I suppose living with six girls can be an adventure within itself for a man. Hair ties, various undergarments, and tampons creep up on him throughout the course of his day. He has, on more than one occasion, been startled by a lonesome ‘just in case’ tampon in the side mantle of his own vehicle. With Mike’s many eccentricities, the word “tampon”, uttered around him in public, is enough to turn him pink. He will remove himself from any conversation when it crosses the line between girly and girly. In our defense, however, Mike did cry watching the Notebook. “A real man cries!” is his response when I bring it up. “Real men don’t watch the Notebook!” my fourteen year old sister jokes as she walks up the stairs. As my family congregates our now full bodies to the living room to watch The Office, Mike turns to my mother and says, “Great dinner, Maria! I think next time though, we should try it without the Jasmine rice.”

 

 

 

Reincarnation of Jessie…

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My first Chow Chow was a frail little girl who I rescued from a puppy mill.  Puppy mills are the scourge of the pet industry.   Imagine walking onto a farm with cages and pens as far as the eye can see.  The sound of hundreds of dogs barking at the prospect of freedom is almost deafening.  Each pen represented a different breed with dogs piled upon each other trying to get noticed.  The lack of compassion missing from this farm is heartbreaking.  I want to save them all, I know I can’t.

 

I have my heart set on a Chow Chow.  The Chow is an interesting breed known for great loyalty and devotion as well as a strong, protective spirit.  I located the holding pen for my chosen breed and began the difficult process of selecting the perfect pet.  Unable to choose one from the flurry of fur that surrounded me, I stepped away.  As I did, I noticed the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen peeking out from a cage that barely contained the body of this dog.  This was this poor dog’s existence.  Unable to even stand up in her cage, she had grown too large for the enclosure and no one seemed to notice or even care.  There she was, my future dog, I couldn’t wait to release her from this prison.  So I took her home.

I decided to call her Jessie. 

 
 She stuck to me like Velcro.  We were inseparable.  She was a great dog who only wanted to be loved and showed her appreciation with great gusto.  Without the limiting effect of a small cage she grew to full stature and seemed to always wear a smile.

 

A new career opportunity meant moving to another state.  While moving is never easy it was especially challenging for Jessie.  Her patterns were disrupted and the strange countryside overwhelmed her.  She tried to stay strong but the change just confused her.

 

One night she somehow escaped from the back yard that was surrounded by chain link fence.  She found a weak spot in the fence previously unnoticed by me that allowed her to squeeze out.  When I called for her to come inside to bed there was nothing but quiet.  A stillness that sounded empty.  She was gone.

 

I immediately grabbed a flashlight and started off searching for my faithful, confused friend.  Up and down the streets I looked.  As I too was new to the area, these streets were as foreign to me as they were to my Jessie.  After what seemed many hours I gave up my search with a heavy heart.  I had little hope for her return in this strange place.

 

I went to work reluctantly, wearing sadness on my face, unable to focus on anything but my loss.  Where did my girl go?  She must be so scared and alone not knowing where she was.  Did she feel we abandoned her?  I sat at my desk, perseverating thoughts on my missing dog. 

 

Days went by and the pound failed to report finding Jessie.  It was time to face the inevitable.  I called the city works department and told of my plight.  They informed me of a large long haired black dog recently picked up in my area.  I wasn’t prepared for this loss nor was I ready to face the task that lie before me.  I grabbed a couple of large trash bags and drove the short drive to retrieve my fallen friend.  A burly man with a kind face led me to the back of a truck where the body laid silent.  I immediatley noted the dog was a Chow and quickly put the hairy carcass into the trash bag without much hesitation.  Damn.

 

Her toys were gathered together and placed inside the large hole dug in the backyard of my new home.  I gently placed her lifeless body in that same hole.  Before I covered my friend with dirt I took time to give thanks for the time we had together.  Others had joined me for this impromptu memorial service.  Even the roofers who were working on the neighbors house stopped long enough to observe this moment of sadness.

 

Goodbye.

 

A few days later my phone rang.  I thought at first it was a practical joke.  What did this veterinarian mean he had my dog?  I just buried her.  He stated this was no joke and this was in fact my dog.  She had jumped off an overpass while trying to avoid capture by a police office.  She knocked herself unconscious and was taken to this vet to recover.  She was perfectly fine and I should come and get her…is what I heard the doctor relay to me.

 

Then…Who did I bury?

 

Surreal moments cause us to rethink the order of life.  We have to adjust our thinking to our present reality and oftentimes they don’t mesh.  This was no exception.

 

As I sat there considering my newfound delight my phone rang.  I was instructed to come to the front office immediately to which I obliged.  As I came neared I saw a blur rush me and immediately my Jessie tackled me and filled my face with wetness.  She was glad to be home, I was thrilled to have her back.

 

She and I stayed close from that moment onward.  She gave me unconditional love and acceptance.  She was a devoted dog.  She was more than a dog, she was family.

 

Unfortunately, all that love came from a heart that had grown weak.  Her health began failing rapidly and one afternoon I went outside to call her and was again faced with that dreadful silence that beckons the arrival of bad news.  Jessie didn’t move as I approached her.  She had left us again, this time for good.  She had nothing left for this life except the wonderful memories that remain in my heart.  These I will forever cherish.

 

I carried this pile of love to the grave of her predecessor where I dug a home for her new journey next to her unknown friend.  I thought they would get along fine and have lots to talk about.

 

Lesson from a Gorilla

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Spend even a brief period of time watching wildlife and one can’t help but be amazed.  Watching animals live their lives without the restraints we humans adapt to govern our existence is a breath of fresh air.  Wild animals make little or no effort to be on their best behavior when viewed by humanity.  It’s often in these moments where animals teach humans the greatest lessons.

 

Too often people excuse away bad behavior and encourage its continuance.  Animals tend to nip poor behavior immediately and seldom re-allow its continued performance.  I’m not saying people should go around biting each other when they disagree but maybe directing bad behavior in a more positive vein is a possibility.

 

I seldom go to zoos anymore.  In younger days seeing the wild animals was a thrill and brought much excitement to a young boy.  Not today.  Zoos represent sadness to me.  Modern prisons where animals go serve life sentences for doing nothing except being themselves.  Living lives of monotony and the drag of having humanity watch them endure such confinement is just too much to endure for me.

 

With this background in mind, I visited a zoo a few years back and walked around the grounds staring at the miserable animals cope with what had become their lives.  There was a look of dreariness in their eyes and I imagine much anger in their hearts as well.  The playful exuberance was not witnessed.  Chasing, climbing, and swinging were also sadly missing.

 

A crowd of teenagers found the zoo to be a place to unleash primitive desires to show these animals how dumb and helpless they were.  Going en-masse from cage to cage teasing and challenging helpless animals who could not even offer a response.  Except…the gorilla.  He was angry.  Had no interest in welcoming any viewers to his enclosure and hoped just one person would get just a little too close to the edge.  Those same teenagers thought him the perfect foil to their games.  Rushing the cage bars, hollering, mimicking, throwing items into his den, and generally acting stupid.  The gorilla was not amused at all.

 

The gorilla would run swiftly towards them making aggressive sounds hoping to stop their menacing ways.  This didn’t work out.  He began throwing items in the enclosure against the rails which made a thunderous sound.  Each time the teenagers would be challenged they seem to get bolder and louder.  Finally the gorilla could take no more.  He wandered slowly to the back of his den.  Where he sat motionless starring off into space.  The gorilla had given up; he meekly starred at his tormentors as they shouted their victory as if this was a cause for celebration.

 

This gorilla seemed to make a peculiar facial expression and his frown seemed to slowly turn into a mischievous grin.  He was plotting something.  This gorilla was no stranger to revenge and today would be his day.  That funny look on his face was formed due to the large pile of squat that now lay beneath him.  He continued his strategy of calmness while the abuse continued from just outside the bars that prevented his freedom.  He stayed still.

 

And then if on cue, he casually scooped up a huge pile of his previous meal that seemed much less appetizing today and looked at it.  The teenagers went wild considering this poor creature’s strange action.  Then, in a blur this gorilla charged to the front of his cage and covered the teenagers with a foul substance that he had just gotten rid of.  There they stood striped in a disgusting brown slush…smelling just plain vile.  The gorilla had his revenge and we were his witness.  What a terrific ending to a dreadfully dreary outing at the zoo.  I imagine those teenagers thought twice before engaging in that kind of behavior again.

 

What an important lesson learned from a gorilla.  A new perspective on the value of life provided to the teenagers for only the cost of some gorilla squat.  If only all lessons in life came that cheaply.

 

So just work on being kind.  It really stinks when we are mean to others.

Ultimate Authority…

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In a post past, I engaged in a discussion with an old classmate and responded to inquiries relating to our differences in theology.  While we both believe in the value of the Christian experience, our differences lie in how they are fleshed out into the world.  The following is the second area of discussion with the question being “What is ultimate Authority?”

 

This was my response.

 

I’ve taken some time to consider your question. Certain national events have consumed my reality and not given me time to respond. I’m sure we differ as to enjoyment level of our next president, and that’s perfectly ok.
First off, the term ultimate authority is not a phrase that is common to my lips. So before you take a too sharp address to my definition allow me grace as to a minimized understanding.
Ultimate authority – I’m sure an easy answer would be God’s word. I would think that would give me a passing grade and all would be fine. So like all my answers relating to theology or philosophy a simple response will not suffice. So let me try to unload my thought process…
I am comfortable relating to eternal and everlasting God as ultimate authority. Without reservation, I accept God’s direction, provision, and love for me and those around me. I note that universal understanding of loving God, loving others, loving self leads to a more complete union/relationship with God. I would hope this point would not be in dispute.
As for how we understand God and come to relationship with the almighty is where many people need to separate.
God’s word as found in the bible is a tremendous source of inspiration, hope, and guidance for a people seeking after relationship with God. I find the truths found within its pages completely sufficient to point me in a direction that both cleaves me closer and accepts me when I distance myself from God’s love.
I’m careful to avoid bringing the bible into the trinity and actually making it worthy of worship. At no point are we asked to bring such veneration. The bible is a teaching tool; it is not the final tool of faith. It is similar to pointing to the moon at night and only seeing the upraised finger.
Jesus was a wonderful revealer of his Father by both his words and lifestyle. We see how he emulated the very characteristics which are found in God.
God is completely faithful to reveal himself to us in our hearts. Jesus’ sacrifice provided a means to that end. Through the Holy Spirit we can understand perfect love and presence. I personally think the reason why people never come to this awareness is prayer has been distorted for them. Quiet listening to the soft, gentle, calm, voice within is often drowned out with the repetitive droning found in most prayers. It’s completely understood that you can’t hear someone talking to you if you are constantly talking yourself.
I’m not sure where I’ve just taken us answering your question. We seemed to have rambled down and around many rabbit holes.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A Brighter Light

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The following is an excerpt from Anne Lamott’s book – Traveling Mercies.  I found the thought extremely insightful and worth sharing.

In this passage she describes why she takes her son to church.

I make Sam go to church because I can.  I outweigh him by nearly seventy five pounds.  But that is only part of it.  The main reason is that I want to give him what is found in the world, which is to say a path and a little light to see by.  Most of the people I know who have what I want – which is to say, purpose, heart, balance, gratitude, joy – are people with a deep sense of spirituality.  They are people in community, who pray, or practice their faith; they are Buddhists, Jews, Christians – people banding together to work on themselves and for human rights.  They follow a brighter light than the glimmer of their own candle; they are part of something beautiful.  I saw something once from Jewish Theological Seminary that said, “A human life is like a single letter of the alphabet.  It can be meaningless.  Or it can be part of a great meaning.” 

So all the resistance I encounter with the hair not being done right or clothes that don’t match perfectly I need to be steadfast.  When everyone’s nerves are frayed to a ragged edge preparing to visit the holy or the rain is pouring outside and umbrella can’t be found.  It is this very thought that challenges me to endure and continue the process of introducing hope and promise for my children.