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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Safe Haven, Empty House Edition: No one is here. My mom is on her way to Colorado, my brother and his wife are having a weekend get-away (this being one word now is a hideous abuse of our glorious language) and here I am. The dog's even at a hotel. I don't think the cat needs me.

So if I can get this other test done, I can finish the Paper From Gehenna by Friday. It's not long. But sometimes, writing gets tedious and difficult, or at least the kind that's not for fun. I feel like Dr. Mark Hall, who's been nailed by animal tranquilizers as he crawls through the central core of Wildfire, stumbling to prevent a nuclear detonation. [How many times have you read that book?--ed.] A lot. Too much. But it's a classic, especially for short fiction.

There are times when your feelings surprise you. I was writing a message yesterday, not emotional in itself, and I couldn't stop the water from flowing out of me. It was terrible. I would have gotten sobby watching Hollywood Squares right then. "I'm just so...upset that circle ALWAYS gets the square! How do you think X feels about that? WAAAAA!" [That's funny.--ed.] Good thing I didn't decide to watch Phantom of the Opera; I'd still be leaking.

I'm going to the Cards game on October 1st. I hope they'll have clinched some form of postseason play by then. I'm going to see a musical tomorrow. I don't know which one. Who cares? It's a musical. Unless it's Rent, I'll be more than happy. I should have done show choir in high school. Then again, I'd have had to sing with That One Girl I Was Totally In Love With. That never goes well. I'd still regret not doing anything about it, but that teacher friend of mine said it was a bad idea. She might have been crazy, but I'll bet she was right. Besides, what do any of us know about our destinies when we're all of 18 years old? Meet my pals, Jack and Squat.

While I'm on the subject, I guess I never got the memo about the different "leagues" you could be in with regard to looks. Every time I open up to some dudes about someone I like, they say, "Whoa, you talked to HER?" Yes. What are we, 12? I have but 3 qualifications at this point: 1. Must love Jesus (child of Holy Mother Church highly preferred), 2. Intelligent, and 3. Doesn't annoy me. I've been told that my actual qualification is "Mind-blowingly hot," but all I can say is that the beautiful girls didn't ask to be beautiful. What are we gonna do, leave them lonely because we're afraid? Screw that jazz; I'm already in a wheelchair; I'd say me and the Lonely Hot Chick could have tons of great talks about being isolated for no good reason. Stew on that.

Anyway, pray for me.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Election Update: The Obama lead is a lie. The average of the polls compiled by our friends at Real Clear Politics showing a national lead of roughly 3 points for the president is based on unrealistically favorable polls from Democratic-leaning firms AND job approval ratings of all adults and registered voters, not likely voters. Among those firms that only sample likely voters when asking about head-to-head and job approval Romney is ahead or tied. A sitting president will show a job approval above 49% among LIKELY voters if he is going to win, starting in late September. I can believe that President Obama leads in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Michigan; I DO NOT believe he actually leads in Ohio and Florida. Bush (2004) had a poll average lead of 6% at this point; it narrowed on Election Day, but a two-term president needs a lead; it shows the power of incumbency. An incumbent with a lead this small is going down hard. I'm willing to retire from predicting elections if I'm wrong. Romney will win.
Christian anthropology is hard. Or at least tests are hard. I was verbally answering the questions for a test I was taking, and there could be that moment where you realize, "Oh, wait. I have no idea what I'm talking about." I had to go goof off before I injured myself or others out of spite. It's a take-home, spoken into a recorder, so no harm, no foul.

Deb was over last night, teaching me about singing. Why am I doing this, you ask? Because I love to sing, and I want to be better. Do I need another reason?

I think I have more range than I showed last night, but we'll see. Given my experience wooing girls and in karaoke bars, I think I have at least a little bit to work with. [You can't forget about all that singing you've done in the Jetta of Decision.--ed.] Oh, yeah. Poor Confirmation Sponsor Guy; he probably still hasn't recovered.

All I can say is that I didn't sing at all until I got baptized. I can remember this. I was afraid to do it, and wasn't sure about what these people believed. At least I'm sure I did not love the Truth I was coming to know. Now, I sing almost anywhere, anytime. If you believe what you are singing about, if you love it, people know. They can tell. And the technical proficiency matters a little less. How much more is this true with God?

But I want to get better for that reason. God and his songs are more important than say, Whitney or Mariah. Why should my best singing be when I'm alone listening to pop songs? On one hand, it's not my fault that sacred music these days is either horrid, difficult to sing, or both.

I gotta stew on this for a second. Did the struggles of my youth stifle my joy in such a way that only the forgiveness of sins could bring out the real me? Heavy, man. And probably true. I'm a total diva; that freakishly outgoing thing that performers/theater nerds/Robin Williams have, that is me. I just didn't even begin to figure it out until I was 21.

JK's Unsolicited Advice For The Day: You gotta find the real you as fast as you can. Find yourself in God; that's the realest you. And go with it. No one else can tell you who you are. They might be tasked with telling you a truth you'd rather not face, but we are still us, even if we need to change. There is no better Person than God to change us without destroying us. That's why He's God.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I made a fairly new friend, Deborah Lee, over the past year or so. She's a slightly younger, more Southern version of my mom, maybe. She's a musician/songwriter, so we get along well. Because I'm not trained in music, but I live in a very musical world. She's gonna come tomorrow and help me improve my singing. JK is pumped!

Deb was Reformed like me. Seminary trained as I was, she graduated from the same place I went. And now, she's Catholic. My way there was a little more linear, perhaps a shade more intellectual, but we live in the same relentlessly creative space. I didn't realize I was one of those people. I didn't see it. I honestly thought everyone wrote poems and songs in the middle of the night. I'd never say they were good. And there's no law saying you can't grind out such things on a schedule. But if you live in a universe where that fancy could strike any time, and that seems normal to you, you're an artist. You're a hippie. And the faster you come to terms with it, the easier life will be. I had baggage; I associated artistry and general creative hippie-dom with left-wing politics and stupid people.

And then I found myself in Alequippa, PA or thereabouts, dropping off a friend. [Let's cut the crap; she was a hot girl.--ed.] Fine. But it was a good trip, anyway. And she's definitely a friend. And when I returned, I wanted to thank her mother for opening her home to us. So I did so in an e-mail. She appreciated my sentiments, and said, "Have you thought of being a writer?" I will never forget this.

Some five years later, I'm sitting in a class somewhat redundantly called, "Calling, Vocation, and Work." The final project was to analyze a career through the basic lenses of the biblical story: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. My heart burned within me; I knew exactly what calling I wanted to think about. It was the thing I wanted to do, to be: a writer. I remembered a scene from one of my favorite movies, where the characters discuss the basic insight of the poet Jose Maria Rilke. He told a young person essentially, "If you wake up and your first thought is about X, then you are X." If you want, you could dismiss it as trite guidance counselor stuff, but I think the opposite is true. We've all been given gifts for a reason. It might be true that we have to do something we hate for a time out of necessity. But I think our culture tells us to be "practical" because it hates joy. It hates service. For all the talk of freedom, the one thing this culture can't stand is people who are happy. They'll be happy to give you drugs or sex to pretend to be happy. But please don't really mean it. This is why most people now think irony and humor are the same thing. If you're not cynical, people look at you funny.

I'm a hippie, trying to monetize this mindless blather (and other blather) for my own good. I just didn't see it. I thought I was crazy. I'm not crazy; this world is crazy. It's been Opposite Day for most of human history. Jesus came to set us straight. There is a fine line between tragic absurdity and hilarity, and this blog is a testimony to that, God-willing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I'm gonna boast a bit here. Because I wasted a lot of time being inward-focused/bitter for no good reason. On the one hand, I'm single, 32, and I've hated (nearly) every second of it. On the other hand, once you make the decision, as far as you are able, not to take anything that isn't yours (and let's cut the crap, that's what lust is, gentlemen) a funny thing happens: beautiful women start hanging around. Paradoxically, you care less than you did. Lust makes you angry and possessive; godly love in charity leads you in giving of yourself without caring if you get anything back.

Don't get me wrong: I've been hit by the Love Lightning several times, including very recently. And you can be godly and prayerful, patient and gentle, and she still seems like a drug you'll never kick. It sucks. But you know what? If you love truly, you can keep your honor and her respect no matter what she decides to do.

That's what I figured out: My honor is more important than the outcome of the romance dance. Because that honor is our consciences and the law of the Word. There is nothing greater than a conscience at peace and in harmony with God's Law.

I was in the car with my boys the other night; they asked me who picked me up for Adoration the other night; she happens to be a very attractive woman. I told them, and they said, "Wow, JK, you and the women..." Hadn't noticed. [Liar.--ed.] Fine, I'm well aware. And I wouldn't mind, either. But if you're not free, you can't find out.

And I want to say I'm sorry to anyone who's been the victim of my bitterness and lack of freedom. Please forgive me, and forgive all of us. God be with you.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Well, cover me in pine needles and set me on fire. I am impatient. Impatient for love, money, success. Impatient with friends, quasi-friends, animals, the weather, Mitt Romney. In fact, I'd be the first one to volunteer for Hell, but that shouldn't be anyone's idea of a good time.

Besides, then you could add pride to my impatience. The funny part is, you'd automatically figure the Blessed Mother would have an infinite reservoir of patience. On the other hand, has there been a human who needed it any less? It could not have been hard to raise Jesus. I'll bet the arguments in the Holy Family were comically brief. St. Joseph already knows women are always right...but this time, it's totally true.

I'm impatient for peace, too. World peace, and peace closer to home. There is nothing like a smile to quiet a twitchy heart. Be the change, people! You never know how close someone is to mailing it in, or worse. In the past 10 minutes, I have complimented Herbert Hoover, and acquired the spelling of the word 'reservoir.' Just thought you should know.

I think I'm gonna go stew on 1 Cor. 13, and ponder patience.