December 20, 2009

problem solved

December 9, 2009 5:20am

I wish that I knew why I am always so tired lately. I fell asleep in my recliner after dinner again yesterday, something that’s been happening more frequently as of late. I feel bad about yesterday in particular because Cody was trying to wake me up before he left for a meeting and I snapped at him pretty badly. He was a sweetheart and let me fall asleep for a little while, and was just trying to make sure that I didn’t sleep so long that I wouldn’t be able to sleep at bedtime. I’m not a pleasant person when I’m woken up, and I’m having a hard time being woken up lately, so the combination of the two made me pretty mean yesterday. He was just being sweet and trying to talk to me in a nice way to ease me back to reality, but all I knew was someone was in my face talking non-stop and driving me insane, so I snapped at him. And then proceeded to sleep for another hour.

I just can’t seem to shake this funk off for some reason. I have a few hours here and there where I’m fine and mostly don’t think about it. But as soon as the entertainment is over, or we come home, or whatever, I’m right back in this pit. I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t even want to put up the Christmas tree this year or decorate at all. I kept saying, “This weekend” and it would inevitably be moved to “Next weekend”. On top of whatever is causing me to feel this way and lack motivation, the feelings of guilt and worthlessness compound to make it even worse. So, since I haven’t been able to bring myself to care about it, I’ll just intentionally not decorate so that instead of feeling guilty and wondering what the hell is wrong with me, I can just go about my life. That will at least relieve some of the pressure I hope.

I know that there’s a possibility that I’ll really regret not having a tree up if I start to feel better. I just don’t really see that as being enough of a possibility right now for it to motivate me into action. I really and truly do not care if we don’t have Christmas in this house this year. I still want to celebrate “real” Christmas, and remember why we celebrate and rejoice over the birth of Christ. I’m just so ambivalent about the rest of the trappings that I’d rather skip it all together.

December 19, 2009

they really do hiss

December 7, 2009 7:40am

Oh are my sinuses driving me crazy this morning! My head feels like it’s swelled to the point of explosion! Hopefully this sinus pressure is not a harbinger of the day to come. Other than taking the truck in to be serviced at 9:30, I don’t really have any plans. Cody has a doctors appointment this morning, and then he’ll be heading off to work at the clothes bank at church, which means I’ll be spending the majority of the day alone.

I’m not too concerned about this morning, as I will have my DS to keep me company at the dealership while the truck is being worked on. I remembered to grab my ear buds and put them on the counter so that I won’t have to listen to Faux News while I’m playing Sudoku, too. While I’m not a fan of that channel, I’d be just as irritated if they turned it to any other politically slanted news channel. There is no reason for the dealership to set the channel to something that slants in either direction. Local news, the Today show, hell The Food Network, would be better suited for that type of environment.

All things considered, I had a pretty nice weekend. Cody and I finally went out for his birthday dinner on Friday night. He decided on Bahama Breeze, so twisting my arm was definitely not necessary. We had a nice meal, and managed to settle for only two appetizers instead of the usual three this time, which saved me almost $10, so that was a plus. That money was then spent anyway, and then some, since we stopped at TJ Maxx after dinner.

Saturday didn’t start out so hot for me. I was a little down, and we had to clip Vanilla’s nails, which required tranquilizers. I don’t like giving the dogs medications if I can help it, but holding that dog while Cody clips her nails is like wrestling an alligator. She is solid muscle, and way stronger and more flexible than I am. We waited over an hour to clip her nails, and even though she was only a little clumsy, we thought they would start to wear off and forged ahead. That dog scratched me pretty good a couple of times, but we finally managed to get them taken care of. I felt horrible, as she was so obviously scared out of her mind and I had her pinned down in various positions. I felt horrible afterwards and did my best to make up with her, and then I realized that the drugs were really starting to kick in. I felt awful, because she looked frightened as all get out. You can’t explain to dogs and small children what’s happening to them in those situations. All they know is they feel very wrong and can’t do what they usually can. They don’t know why their legs don’t work like they’re supposed to. It tears me up to watch her go through that, so I was babying her quite a bit and trying to soothe her so she could just fall asleep and let the drugs run their course. On top of that, Cody and I realized we had put that dog through hell unnecessarily, as we could have just waited another 45 minutes or so and had a much easier time. She still wouldn’t have wanted us to do it, but at least we wouldn’t have had to be as forceful with her.

I was starting to feel a bit sleepy, and since neither of us wanted to leave the dog alone, I suggested a little 30 minute nap. I should have known better. I’m not sure if I get sleepy when I’m depressed, or if taking naps makes it worse, but when I’m having a bad day, all I want to do is sleep. The only problem is sleeping tends to make it worse, as I can’t seem to force myself to get out of bed, and then my feeling of lazy uselessness starts to creep in and compound the problem. Needless to say, by the time Cody managed to get me out of bed, I was pretty far gone.

Never fear though, cause I had the perfect solution: Chipotle and Target! We headed out for dinner at one of our favorite spots for some yummy burritos, and then after a couple of quick stops at nearby pet stores for aquarium stuff, we headed to Target. We had some household stuff to pick up, and I wanted to look at all the Christmas stuff to try and shake myself out of my funk. It seemed to do the trick, for that night at least, and my happiness was compounded when we stumbled upon Superman briefs! You know we had to buy them. We need more underwear like we need holes in our heads, but these weren’t optional. I had been looking for these for ages, but they don’t tend to make underwear like this in adult sizes. While they’re not the exact pair I would want, they were close enough to be a mandatory expense for the both of us.

We then headed off to the other side of town to meet up with R and J at Truffles for desert. I love Truffles, but it’s such an expensive place! Thankfully, R and J usually insist on treating us when they invite us. Between genuinely enjoying taking their friends out for dinner/desert and such, and knowing we have a hard time justifying that kind of money for a slice of cake or whatever we order, our paying when we go there is usually not an option.

Sunday morning was definitely a treat. Cody had already let the cat out of the bag that he had decided to become an “official” member of the church, but there were several people that still didn’t know. Including our Pastor, who did a double take when he saw him heading for the front of the sanctuary at the end of the service. I was overjoyed, and my friends at church knew it. I could never have imagined how quickly and fully Cody would be comfortable and active in the church when I started going about 7 or 8 months ago. A lot of people who have gotten to know me since I started attending know that I have always gone out of my way to make sure Cody didn’t feel pressured to attend or participate in any way, so the fact that he is now more active in the programs at church than I am, particularly the outreach programs, is overwhelming to me and they all knew it.

We then had a nice lunch a couple blocks up the street with a small group of friends from church, which was an especially nice treat, as our friend R decided to treat Cody and I along with a couple of other friends. After eating, we headed downtown to University Circle to check out CircleFest, which was a neat little holiday festival put on by the businesses, museums and such in the area. We saw a large display of Christmas trees that had been decorated by local businesses, which was really cool, and then headed to the Botanical Gardens for a quick little walk through.

I stopped to take a picture of a little case full of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, which are admittedly a little gross, but they were behind glass. A young lady came up and asked if I would like to take a better picture and held out her hand, in which there was a cockroach. Now, these things are huge and creepy, but I just assumed this was an employee of the Gardens since she was carrying it around to show people. Turns out it was just a young lady who had found one creeping around and was being kind enough to walk it to an employee who could make sure it didn’t get trampled. Somehow or other, this girl got spooked and jumped, which may or may not have been instigated by my Pastor, and the cockroach went flying and landed at our feet. I was certainly startled by the young lady’s shriek, but didn’t panic. Then someone pointed out the cockroach was headed for my foot. I looked down, and this little fucker was making a bee-line right for my boot and I absolutely lost it. I shrieked a couple of times like a little 8 year old girl and went running and hopping to the other side of the crowd. Everyone was delighted with my performance, and a few people were kind enough to try to get me to repeat it by suggesting I may have a bug on me at various points during our little excursion.

Thank God it’s time to get ready to go take my truck in. I need a shower twice as bad after remembering that story!!!

December 18, 2009

circle of ick

December 6, 2009 9:00am

If I make myself vulnerable to someone, and it doesn’t help, then what happens? I realize that if I don’t open up to someone at some point, I may never really get better. But at the same time, I’m scared shitless, because I really can’t stand the thought of being vulnerable.

On one hand I need to be able to open up to Cody and Pastor and ______, because they have offered to try to help the best way they know how, but if I don’t let them in, they can’t possibly help. Then there are “normal” relationships. People like R and J and Bethany and K and Pete. How do I know how much to let them in without risking being wounded? How do I really know what is good and right to tell them and what isn’t. The more vulnerable I am, the more scared and anxious I am, which makes me want to close myself off even more and shut down even more, and it turns into this whole self-defeating circle of ick.

I don’t know where to go from here. I talked to Cody on Friday night on the way to dinner about how I have been feeling lately, and how it seems like I’ve had a significant number of “down” days compared to before I started the meds. He told me that overall, he sees me on a more even keel. Not 24/7, but significantly more often apparently. I told him that while I appreciate his feedback, and I understand that I should be happy that my moods aren’t all on one solid line due to some zombie-like meds I would sooner die than take, I also don’t want the range of emotions I’m able to experience to always be tinged or colored with depression and melancholy.

I shared with him my disappointment at not being able to see my regular doctor like I was supposed to, because I truly felt and still feel that he would have and should have increased the dosage of my Zoloft.

I’m on a fairly low dose, based on the average dose, granted, but I know that I was great when I started the meds, but have since plateaued in some ways and am even depressed quite a bit. I told Cody that it sucks because I don’t know if I’m experiencing depression that I normally would or if it is a side-effect of the meds and/or the dosage I’m on.

I know from previous experience that depression and suicidal thoughts can be a side effect of these types of meds, particularly when ramping up or down at the beginning and end of taking them. My thought is that it is possible that since I’m on a lower dosage of this medication, I may actually be experiencing a side effect rather than an honest to goodness real depression. Depression sucks the life right the fuck out of me, and I can’t stand it regardless of why it is happening. So if I’m actually causing myself to feel this way by taking a pill every night with my dinner, I sure as hell want to nip that in the bud, and quick.

Here it is the second week of December, and I don’t have a Christmas tree up yet. I’ve had good intentions on several occasions to get my ass up into the attic and get it done, but as of yet those good intentions have gotten me no farther than the recliner in the living room.

Another example is my phone. I was finally given the go-ahead from Cody a week ago to order a new phone, as our contracts on the family plan had finally all come up. He and his brother both ordered their phones the day after Thanksgiving, and I waited to start looking on Sunday due to the sabbatical. Well, my phone has been shit for over a year, but I’ve held out waiting for Cody and J’s contract to expire so that we could end up on the same contract cycle. I’ve been bitching about this phone forever, and now that I finally had a chance to get a new one, where I should have jumped at the chance, I found myself so ambivalent to all the phones I saw online that it took me four days to work up enough energy to care about it and order a new one. I was thankfully able to recognize my ambivalence and share it with Cody, which is two kinda big steps for me, that’s actually a plus. I told him I didn’t want to spend that kind of money and be locked into a contract until I had all my wits about me, which he agreed was definitely a smart way to go. And then the fact that I was able to not only recognize what was going on, but able and willing to tell him about it as well is something I’ve spent seven years trying to accomplish. I don’t know that this will be the norm, because I don’t think I’m going to change overnight and it would be crazy to have that kind of expectation, but I’m hoping it at least happens a little more often.

Gotta shave and shower for church. Headed off to try out CircleFest at University Circle afterwards with R and a bunch of people from church. I’m so taking a Xanax.

December 17, 2009

bittersweet

November 29, 2009 8:00am

Well that took me long enough! I just spent the last 45 minutes going back and reading all the e-mails I’ve gotten over the last three weeks that I had been avoiding as part of my sabbatical. I have been reading personal e-mails and things that seemed time-sensitive, but all the forwards and jokes have been sitting in a folder waiting for today. I got a few chuckles, but overall, I really didn’t miss much. Although I did come across an e-mail from Smokey Bones, my favorite rib joint, that included a coupon for all-you-can-eat ribs for $15.99 that unfortunately expired last Wednesday. I wasn’t too happy about that.

Last night went better than expected. Cody and I had the opportunity for some much needed quiet time that evolved into a long overdue bit of mischief, which sufficiently exhausted me enough to allow me to fall asleep at a decent hour. I was concerned that sleeping so late yesterday would throw my sleep schedule way off, but I managed to get somewhat back on track. I have tomorrow off since I’ll be back in the lab again at work, so I’ve got one more day to try and get back into the old routine.

Where did I leave off last night? Oh yes, waking up (rather late) at B and D’s house in BG. The morning was nice and slow, and uneventful enough that I was able to wake up and regain some semblance of coherence in relatively short order despite the unfamiliar lack of routine. We were all just sort of hanging out and chatting while everyone took turns taking showers and getting ready. I didn’t really feel comfortable taking a shower in such an expansive shower with no door or curtain considering all the people that were in the house at the time, and I really just needed a quick refresher since I had been in the hot tub the previous night so I just hopped in the shower down in the basement bathroom.

After a light lunch, we all hopped into three different cars and caravanned to Bellevue so B and his brother and sister could lay grave blankets on their mother and fathers grave, as well as their step-fathers. Then it was off to Sandusky, where B generously treated us all to dinner at Damon’s. It’s always difficult to have dinner with that many people, since you don’t really get to talk to everyone and it seems the table gets kind of split up conversationally, but we had a really good time (and some pretty good food, too).

After dinner, we all took a walk out on the pier overlooking Cedar Point and Sandusky Bay, but it was a bit too cold and windy to stay out there too long. Alas, our visit had to end there in the parking lot, so we said our goodbyes and headed back home. It really was a lovely visit, despite the fact that it was just too short.

Now it’s time to get ready for church and start to sink back into the real world again. Cody is going to help me get the Christmas decorations out of the attic when we get home this afternoon, and hopefully I’ll be able to get the majority of the decorating done today. If the sun stays out I may run outside to rake up the leaves that are piling up in the corners of the yard and patio before it rains again unless I can somehow convince Cody to do it. With any luck, I'll have all the decorations up and the boxes back in the attic before my doctors appointment tomorrow afternoon.

Some time today and tomorrow I need to spend a little time online trying to catch up a little on what I’ve missed these past three weeks, though I’ll probably put off logging back in on facebook until late tomorrow afternoon. It’s sort of bittersweet to go back online again, as I’ve enjoyed my quiet time the last few weeks, but I really do miss the interaction with all my friends and family quite a bit. Hopefully, in addition to everything else I’ve accomplished with this sabbatical, I’ll be able to take from it enough new-found respect for both ends of the spectrum that I’ll keep a more balanced amount of time free for both.

On top of all of that, I need to decided which parts of my journal and journey to share on my blog and get that copied and pasted. Then there’s the editing. Some names will need changed to protect the guilty, and I’ll have to make sure nothing too risquĂ© ends up being posted. Not that I’ve been keeping a sex journal, but I don’t think that my friends and family really need to know how often Cody and I are intimate or my thoughts on it.

The good news is, I’m now finally able to get a new phone, and since my sabbatical is over and we finally got a wireless router hooked up, I’ll not only be able to use the laptop downstairs, I’m going to be able to shop online for a new phone! Since I intend to try to keep up with this journal even after the sabbatical, I’m hoping to be able to get the docking station for the laptop hooked up to my computer so that I can write even when I’m not in my office without having to mess around with a flash drive and all that jazz.

Well, I have more stuff to do before I get ready for church, so I really need to wrap this up. This pretty much marks the end of my “Sabbatical Journal”, so everything from this point on is just my normal, boring and unstable existence.

December 16, 2009

a lot to be thankful for

November 28, 2009 7:30pm

Wow! What an awesome weekend I’ve had so far! Before I get into any of that, I have to write out an experience that I had this morning before I forget it. It was very cool, and I want to be able to look back and remember it.

I was standing outside in front B and D’s garage this morning, having a cigarette with J, and he made a comment about all the birds roosted in the top of a large tree across the street. There were hundreds of birds in this tree, and the cacophony of voices was almost overwhelming. Luckily, they were far enough away that they weren’t too distracting or annoying, but it really was a sight to behold.

As J and I continued to talk about whatever, we were both struck by an instantaneous and eerie silence. At the exact same moment, every bird stopped their singing/tweeting/complaining completely and took flight. It was like someone had hit the pause button on nature’s soundtrack. J and I stood awestruck at the sight of such a large flock of birds taking flight at the same time, and commented on how remarkably silent it was after all the noise the birds had been making previously. I was astounded.

Then I was scared.

Hundreds of birds flying overhead tends to make me nervous that I’m going to be shit on, so we quickly ducked under an overhang to protect ourselves, just in case. They were in the air for less than 90 seconds, and then they all went back to the same tree and resumed their noisemaking.

At any rate, I just thought that was really cool and worth remembering. As far as the rest of the weekend, it was much like that moment. Something I’ll want to remember for a long time to come. Even if I couldn’t think of a thing to be thankful for on Thursday morning, that certainly isn’t the case now, on Saturday night.

The community meal at church was absolutely incredible. We actually got there about half an hour later than we were supposed to, but it didn’t turn out to be a big deal. Talk about a strong showing. There were actually too many volunteers! We got started setting up tables in the gym around 8:30, and I’m pretty sure we had the tables and chairs up, with tablecloths spread, all by 9:00. That was awesome. The only problem was, other than decorating and finishing up the meal, there really wasn’t anything else to do until 12:30, when we would have a quick little meeting to make sure everyone knew their job and what was going on before we opened the doors at 1:00.

Some volunteers left as they finished their prep-work in the kitchen, and others decided to leave and come back when it was actually time to serve. I don’t think 15 minutes went by without at least one volunteer walking in the door. It was incredible! So many people wanted to help. It was unfortunate that not everyone could help, but I was so happy to see that we had more people willing to help than the other way around.

Someone had a brilliant idea to have a few of the kids that were there draw “hand turkeys” on the tables for decorations (and to keep them busy). Before long all the kids and a handful of adults were drawing and coloring in turkeys and all sorts of other decorations on all the tables.

We then had a bit of a lull in activity while we waited for the real work to begin, so we were passing around newspapers and sales fliers and just sort of hanging out when we realized that the decorations on the tables were rubbing of on our skin and clothes. This was not good. We were about to have over 100 guests come in for a meal, and the decorations were going to stain their skin and clothes! The markers were apparently washable, even though the box didn’t indicate that fact. So while it was good that it was washing off of our hands and arms, it was bad that it wasn’t sticking to the plastic tablecloths and would ruin what could be some people’s only clothes.

Several ideas were tossed back and forth, including turning the tablecloths over. They were just the cheap disposable kind, so you could actually see the decorations through the other side, though not as well. The only problem was, the marker was rubbing off on the tables as well, and since the tables were white plastic, we were afraid that the heat and friction from the plates would “set” the mark into the tabletops permanently.

We even tried putting paper placemats under the tablecloths before flipping them over, but we didn’t have enough placemats to cover all the tables. Unfortunately, we had to wipe off all that hard work. The kids who did the majority of the work had already left with their parents, and we hoped that they weren’t planning to come back to help serve, as they would have been devastated. As it was, we were all pretty bummed too, because those kids did one heck of a job. Fortunately, our youth advisor had a camera on her phone and Cody was able to take pictures of most of the artwork before it was erased.

This whole fiasco wound up being a blessing in disguise, however, since we ended up with even more kids as the morning wore on. Armed with permanent markers this time around, we set them loose for a marathon of table decorating. Pretty much everyone helped this time around, and we all had a blast doing it. Luckily, the first group never did come back, so it turned out that all the kids who showed up throughout the course of the day were able to help out in a fun, but still very tangible way.

Once 12:30 rolled around though, it was time for our quick little organizational meeting, and then it was off to the races. We were actually able to get everyone into place and ready to go in time to open up the doors a bit early, and then it was non-stop action for over an hour. Some people were a bit antsy because there were so many volunteers that it didn’t seem like they all had enough to do at times, although I think those in charge did an absolutely excellent job of keeping everyone moving and assigning tasks, even while taking care of their own jobs.

I did get a bit of insight into how frustrating it can be when people who are trying to help can be a bit too pushy, but I don’t want to focus on that. It all got smoothed out and under control in short order anyway, so I’d rather focus on all the pleasant things that happened.

We were filling and sending plates out of the kitchen non-stop for about an hour and twenty minutes before it eventually slowed to a trickle, and that means a lot of mouths were fed on Thursday. That is an awesome thing to be a part of. If you’ve never helped out doing something like that, I highly recommend it.

I actually had a blast doing it, too! I got to work with a couple of people that I didn’t know very well before that, and they were both awesome. R is actually the partner of one of the guys Cody works with at the food bank, and he and I got along “famously” as they say. He’s a frickin’ riot, to be honest. He was going back and forth with me and the lady we were working with, who was actually the coordinator of the whole she-bang, which set both of us a little more at ease. She was stressed over making sure everything went well, and I was stressed over, well, that’s just what I do. So I think it’s great that R was standing where he was, as he set the tone for our side of the kitchen and made it possible for us to do our jobs with true joy and thanksgiving. Before I knew it, it was 3:00 and time for Cody and I to beat feet so we could make it to his mother’s in time for our own Thanksgiving dinner.

I really didn’t know what to expect going into this event on Thursday. I know people get a sense of satisfaction from doing those kinds of things, and I’ve experienced a similar feeling through volunteering in other capacities before. Yet I felt so overwhelmingly blessed to have been a part, no matter how small, and I think it is due in large part to those around me and their own attitudes of joy in service. I don’t know that I’ll help with the meals at church every month, but I’m certainly going to start doing it at least on occasion.

After two hours in a hot kitchen dishing up meals, dinner with Cody’s family was a breeze. Actually, we always have a good time with the rest of his family (as long as no one brings up politics), so that really wasn’t a surprise. By the time Cody and I got home though, we were thoroughly whooped!


Friday morning we just kind of putzed around the house for a bit and then it was off to Bowling Green to visit our friends. Bethany’s family were all staying at her parents house in BG, and they were kind enough to invite us up for the weekend as well. Having other engagements, we were only able to stay one night, but what a riot!

We got there shortly after 1:00 Friday afternoon, and it was non-stop fun from that point on. First, Bethany’s dad, B, gave us the grand tour of the house, and when I say “grand”, I mean GRAND. Not only is the house huge and beautiful, but B is one hell of a tour guide. We didn’t just get the simple little, “Here’s the bedroom. Here’s the other bedroom” kind of tour. He gave us the ins and outs of every room in the house, including all the architectural features and the more significant art and furniture pieces like where they bought it and what it was made of, etc.

The house is incredible, and I’ve never been in a home with that sort of layout, so it was very unique as well. The bathroom takes the cake though. When they bought the house, there was a full bath in the master suite, but they decided to add on and expand the bathroom and closet. I have never seen a bathroom like that in real life. If ever I could afford a room at a resort and spa, I imagine that is what the bathroom would look like. B was going over a lot of the features and why they chose them, and his attention to detail is just astounding. But we didn’t drive all the way to BG just to see their bathroom.

Once we were done with the tour, we headed down to the basement to play Wii with B, Bethany, J and his daughters, K and S. Okay, so Cody played Wii; I just watched. What seems like a mild-mannered and loving, if slightly sarcastic family quickly changes into something altogether different once you turn on the Wii, let me tell you. Everyone was talking smack like a professional, including the girls making some very hysterical smart-ass comments to B. It was a riot!

Then the real fun, for me at least, began. It was time to decorate the Christmas trees!!! (Yes, trees, plural; they have three. I wasn’t so jealous and envious of the bathroom as I was of their having more than one tree.) The kids were grumbling a bit about having to decorate, but I was having a blast. And since it wasn’t my tree, I felt free to not be such a perfectionist and just relaxed and hung ornaments wherever I found room until B declared us all finished. It really was a lot of fun.

We then went downstairs to play a bit more until it was time for dinner. And what a dinner it was. The whole dinner was fantastic, but honestly the ham loaf and sweet potatoes were out of this world. Anyone who knows me well can tell you that meatloaf is my favorite food group, but this ham loaf is almost tied for the top spot it was so good! And seeing as I had never had sweet potatoes that didn’t come out of a can before, having fresh ones for dinner was quite the treat.

As we were starting desert, including a cake for Bethany’s Uncle J to celebrate a birthday that had passed while he was away, Bethany’s mom noticed the birthday card that Bethany had given Cody. She asked me about it, and when I told her that it was indeed Cody’s birthday, she ran to find a card for him and put a candle in his slice of cheesecake. We all sang “Happy Birthday” a second time, and I think Cody was genuinely tickled.

A couple of years ago, Cody barely knew Bethany and was quite gracious in agreeing to go all the way to Cincinnati so we could visit and spend the night with one of my ex-girlfriends. Now, he realizes not only how much more she means to me, but her entire family have been so astronomically gracious and loving to both of us that he really is moved by their kindness when they include us in their plans and treat us like family.

After dinner and Pete’s arrival (finally!), we headed outside so Cody, Bethany and I could have a sit in the hot tub. It was really nice, though I couldn’t stay in for very long because the heat makes it hard for me to breathe after a while. I think the high point was definitely when Cody pulled his swimsuit out of the water. The look on Bethany’s face and the noises coming out of her mouth were priceless and set Cody into a fit of giggles I haven’t heard in quite some time.

By the time we all got dried off and changed out of our swimsuits, we were starting to wind down quite a bit. We chatted for a while and had these yummy breadstick/foldover/pizza thingies that apparently everyone in BG is addicted too because we were all apparently not yet stuffed full enough of food yet. When we got done, pretty much all of us had that “Why did I just eat that?” look on our faces.

A little more Wii, and then it was most definitely time for bed. Cody didn’t even make it that long. He crashed out on the couch about halfway into it. By the time Pete had to leave, we were all pretty much drained and went to our respective beds to crash. For some reason, my body decided to sleep until 10:00 this morning, and for an even more baffling reason, Cody decided to let it. I wasn’t very happy when he woke me up by saying, “It’s almost 10:00”, and given the fact that I’m not really a morning person anyway, I was kinda peeved when I woke up.

Seeing as there were eleven other people in the house besides us, I didn’t really have the luxury of being a grouch this morning. Since we had slept in the basement, that meant if I wanted a cigarette or a cup of coffee (when don’t I?), I needed to put on my happy face and walk upstairs to greet them all. All in all, it wasn’t so bad, but if I can’t sleep tonight because Cody let me sleep in too long, I think I might just have to toss and turn just enough to keep him up too….

December 15, 2009

volunteering on xanax

November 26, 2009 6:50am

So I promised myself that I wouldn’t try to send myself on a guilt trip if I didn’t write in this journal on every day of my sabbatical. So far, I’ve done rather well at keeping that promise. Considering I haven’t written since Saturday, and it is now Thursday, I feel it’s safe to go on a little guilt trip. It’s not that I wanted to start the habit of journaling daily, although that is a goal I would like to achieve at some point, but I really did want to keep better track of my thoughts, actions and attitudes during this time period.

Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to write very much this morning, as Cody and I are headed off to our church within the next half hour to begin prepping for the community Thanksgiving Day meal that the church is hosting this afternoon. It appears that there is now an over-abundance of volunteers, but God forbid everyone should think that and no one show up. We’d much rather err on the side of too much help than not enough.

I’m excited to be able to help out with the prep work and setting up, but I’m hoping our volunteer coordinator(s) can find some behind-the-scenes work for me in the kitchen or elsewhere once they open the doors and people start to come in to eat. I’m just not comfortable enough with strangers to be able to interact with a multitude of them non-stop for a couple of hours straight. I do have a Xanax in pocket in case of emergency though. I will tell them my preference, but I won’t tell them “No” if asked to do something else.

We’re not even sure if they’ll need us at serving time, as that appears to be the time most of the volunteers have signed up for. So we are planning to be there until 3pm, but may end up leaving sooner if we aren’t needed for the entire time. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to stay and help with the clean up, as we’re headed off to Cody’s mom’s house at 5pm for dinner there. Ideally, I would have signed up for setup and prep, come home, and then returned in the afternoon to help with the cleanup. Since we have other commitments though, I’ll make the most of my time during the serving hours instead.

I have a feeling that I’ll have another backup there of the non-pharmaceutical persuasion though. I’m sure Pastor will be there for a large chunk of time, if not the whole day. While I know that he’ll be busy “being Pastor” with all those people there, I know that he knows me well enough to recognize that “deer-in-the-headlights” look I get when I’m overwhelmed or uncomfortable. I don’t expect him to swoop in and save me like Superman or anything, but he always seems to know when I need a word of encouragement, support, etc.

We’re headed to Bowling Green tomorrow, so I’m hoping to have a chance (and the energy!) to write some more tonight and/or tomorrow morning before we leave. We won’t be back home until at least late afternoon on Saturday, and this sabbatical is drawing to a close at the end of the weekend. I never really worked out the “rules” for when I would officially re-enter the 21st century, but I’ll probably sneak a peek on Sunday, provided I have the time. I won’t actually show up on facebook or anything like that until at least Monday, but I may take advantage of any free time Sunday to get a head-start on what I’m sure will be a lot of blog posts I’ve missed. A lot of the minor interest and/or news blogs will simply be a quick click of “mark all as read”, but there are others that I really do want to catch up on.

December 14, 2009

reflection of purpose

November 21, 2009 10:30am

As I was reading my Bible this morning, I came across a particular verse that I have been using to try to explain to some people the essence of what I’m trying to accomplish on this sabbatical. I could not remember the verse exactly, or where it came from, but I knew the gist of it and what it meant to me. To find it in my reading this morning was an absolute delight, as now I can point to it specifically and use it to better explain what I’m after here.

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” Luke 6:45

In the Amplified Bible, the verse ends such: “…for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.”

While this is certainly isn’t the only reason I have decided to take a leave of absence from the majority of outside influences in my life, it is definitely one of the most important to me. One of the main themes running through all my reasons has to do with my reactions and how they affect not only me, but more importantly how they affect the people in my life. So for me to take some time to work on myself and the relationships with God and the people in my life, my reactions play a heavy role in the work that I’m trying to do. I don’t want to react in anger all the time. Lashing out is no longer an acceptable way of life for me. So a big part of what I’m doing during the course of this sabbatical involves a lot of time reading my Bible and studies/devotions about God and His Word. It’s not the only focus, as I have also been reading about relationships as well.

I’m trying to refocus not only my mind, but more importantly, my heart. I want to spend this time focus on “good” things, to redirect my heart and thoughts towards them in the hope that eventually they reflect the good. I need to fill myself with what is good, or right, or holy or whatever you want to call it. This isn’t necessarily about me becoming “holier” or anything. This about me becoming a better, stronger and healthier person in spirit, mind and body. Drawing closer to God is the means for me to effect change in my life. I want to reflect His principles and teachings; to be filled with His Spirit and therefore, bear it’s fruit.

Some may shy away from me when I tell them all of this, and I can understand why. We’ve all met people in our lives that “found” God or “got religion”. It can be a painful and trying experience for those around them. I would put more responsibility on those who lead and teach them, but I don’t really want to get into that. What I want to say is, though I know I’ll miss the mark as I so often do, if I keep myself centered on Christ and His teachings, then no one would have cause to be afraid. His teaching was so love-centric and anti-judgment that, I feel, if I am truly conveying a Christ-like spirit and mindset, there will be no condemnation or judgment to make the people in my life uncomfortable.

Yet I have to say, as harsh as it may sound, I can’t let the possibility of those I care about distancing themselves affect me to the point of neglecting what I need to do.

So my fervent prayer this morning is for God to fill my heart to overflowing with goodness, that my words will reflect that which is within me. Love, compassion, grace; these are the things I want to project and reflect. Not anger, hate and enmity.

December 13, 2009

rant

November 20, 2009 9:30am

I came out to mom and dad a little over 7 years ago. A lot has happened in my life as well as theirs since that day, and some things about our relationship and the way we interact have changed; some haven’t.

One of the things my mother used to invariably do that pissed me off to no end was to write one little phrase at the end of the cards and e-mails that she sent me (I think she has said it to me over the phone on occasion, but I’m not 100% certain of that). She used to write, in essence, “I can’t wait until your feet are again under your Father’s table” or a variation thereof. Notice the utilization of the capital letter “F” in the word father, used to signify my Father God in heaven versus my father here on earth. Mom wasn’t writing that out of a desire for me to come over and have dinner with my dad and her. She was writing that as a means of expressing her belief that I had fallen out of fellowship with God, and she wanted for me to remedy that.

Just the thought of that statement, used so often in the past, gets my hackles up. I’m able to process it much easier now than I used to though. When she would say or write that, I would absolutely bristle. It was like the reactions of the monsters in old movies to sunlight or the sign of the cross. Now I can shrug off the statement because I know that it is based in and on ignorance and lies, but it still hurts just a little, and makes me at least want to be defensive, even if I don’t act on it.

I won’t go into all the arguments about whether or not God accepts homosexuals. I could recommend some great books, but that’s not what I want to write about today. What I want to talk about today is our role as God’s children, but more specifically, as guests at God’s table.

First let me tell you why a seemingly simple little statement could make me absolutely seethe with anger. To insinuate that my feet are not under the table in God’s house at His great feast is to imply that I am not an invited guest. The assumption made is that I have chosen a life contrary to God’s divine will, which renders me unable to sit at His table. This here, this is the part that pisses me off, every time: If I’m not allowed to sit at the table because I’m not serving God, who am I serving? You can play the game of semantics and run around saying “bless his heart” and “love the sinner, not the sin” until you’re blue in the face. You can try to sound Christian and non-judgmental, like little Sam and Susie Spiritual all you want, but the fact of the matter is and remains that you are accusing me of being a heathen acting willfully against God and His word. That. That, dear readers, is what will set me off on a tirade every single time. Whether out loud or to myself; it really doesn’t matter. I don’t need an audience for the sermon that pours forth out of me at that time. I’ll preach to the choir, I’ll preach to the congregation, I’ll preach to a friend, a foe, every man, woman and child who walks down the street, I will preach to my dogs and fish if I have to. It’s coming out one way or another.

Let’s start here: The feast, as it were, is thrown by God, who is therefore in charge of the guest list. The feast is a wedding feast, wherein the bridegroom, Jesus, is united as one with His bride, the people of God. In Revelation 21:9, John writes that one of seven angels talked with him and said, “Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” John then goes on to describe the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, and he describes in detail the vastness and beauty of this city, prepared for “…those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev. 21:27) As the inhabitants of this New Jerusalem, which is called the Bride of Christ by the angel, we are all then part of the bride. WE are the Bride of Christ. The feast is a celebration of the marriage, the once-and-for-all unification of Jesus to His people. We are not just guests at the feast; we are part of the wedding party. We are both the celebrants and the celebrated!

As the Bride of the Lamb of God, would not those who deride us and deny us our rightful place not think it wise to obey the warning of the very same Son who said of marriage, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Mark 10:7-9)

That, to me, says that as the intended of Christ, His betrothed, we are to be joined together by God and not separable by any means. Yet we don’t even have to go so far to learn this! In Luke 18:17, Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.” Right before that (vs. 15-16), Jesus was rebuking His disciples for trying to prevent parents from bringing their children to Him: “And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He might touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, 'Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'” Emphasis mine)

I don’t think it’s any mistake to read that as a rebuke to all of us to not only stop preventing children to turn to Jesus, but also as instruction to turn to Him as children ourselves! Jesus makes it clear that no one, even those acting on what they presume to be His behalf, should ever prevent God’s children from coming to Him.

Now we’re getting to the good stuff, so bear with me a little longer here…

In the Bible, we learn of our many roles as followers of Christ, or His disciples if you will. We are to be “fishers of men” just as the original disciples He called were told they would be. We are to share the Gospel, the love of God, the grace of God, the forgiveness of God.

In other words, I am to invite all I know to come share in the feast. God has sent out a broadcast invitation to the ends of the earth for all to partake in the feast, where we will not only celebrate, but be celebrated in our unity with our Creator. We are all handed an unlimited supply of invitations, with no names yet written on them, with the instructions to hand them out to all we meet.

Our role as guests is to invite others to come with us. Our role is to sit at the table and rejoice at the sighting of one we know sitting at the table with us. We are to revel in the long-awaited reunion of ourselves to the One who calls us. We love and laugh with those who are with us, whether man or woman, black or white, tall or short, fat or skinny. We are all, finally and blessedly, God’s children. There is no more need for adjectives and pronouns! We will be one family, at peace with one another in love and mercy through no other gift than that of the grace of God.

But wait.

Let me look something up real quick in the back of my Bible. Oh, it’s got to be here somewhere. That’s odd. I found an entry for “door”, but not for “doorman”. I’ll try “gatekeeper”. Oh! Here it is! Let me go look it up… Well, that just mentions who the gatekeepers at the temple in old Jerusalem were. Let’s try the next verse. Well, not much there either. Let’s just look at the notes in the bottom of my study Bible.

From the footnotes of 1 Chr 9:17-18 (Life Application Study Bible, Tyndale): “Porters, or gatekeepers, guarded the four main entrances to the Temple and opened the gates each morning for those who wanted to worship. In addition, they did other day-to-day chores to keep the Temple running smoothly – cleaning, preparing the offerings for sacrifice, and accounting for the gifts designated to the Temple.

“Gatekeepers had to be reliable, honest, and trustworthy. The people in our churches who handle the offerings and care for the materials and functions of the building follow in a great tradition and we should honor them for their reliability and service.”

Huh? That’s not what I was really looking for. Let’s keep looking… Well, I did find another note for 1 Chr 26:1, but it’s a similar description of the duties of the gatekeepers that really doesn’t say much about keeping people from entering the Temple. Plus, since its 1 Chronicles, and they’re talking about the physical Temple of the Old Testament, and it was written in approximately 430 B.C., it may not really be what we’re after quite yet.

You know what? Maybe being the gatekeeper, or the “Spiritual Bouncer” as I like to call it, isn’t in my concordance or references, but I bet you it’s listed in the spiritual gifts! Let’s go look! Ah, here we are! The fruit of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Hmm, no bouncer yet; maybe we should try the Amplified Bible. I bet one of those “-ness’s” from the NAS version will translate into what we’re looking for!

Galatians 5:22-23 (Amplified, Zondervan): “But the fruit of the [Holy] Sprit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].”

Well I’m still not finding what I’m looking for here. Oh, I know! Maybe it’s not one of the fruits of the Spirit, but a gift of the Spirit! Let’s just jump right to the Amplified Bible, shall we? 1 Corinthians 12:8-11: “To one is given in and through [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit; To another [wonder-working] faith by the same [Holy] Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit; To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues. All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses.”

Well, no spiritual bouncer there either. I suppose someone who is gifted with the ability to discern spirits could be used as a bouncer, but that may be stretching it. Maybe God didn’t really intend for us to be doormen. Could it be possible? I believe so.

This is how I’m able to take that one phrase that tries to separate me from the love of God, and just let it roll on by: God did not call us to be the “Spiritual Bouncers” at the door of His feast. He only calls us to come, and to bring others with us. It really is that simple.

God didn’t say, “Come into my house and feast at my table, but prevent others you feel unworthy to come from joining us there.”

God just simply says, “Come. Bring a friend; we’ll have a great time. Don’t worry if the people you invite are going to show up. Invite them all anyway.”

When we all get to the Lord’s Table and are feasting with Him, He wants our focus to be on Him and on the gifts before us. The place He has brought us to, the beauty and glory before us. The love of those around us. We’re invited guests, not the bouncers. We’ll be too busy celebrating inside to worry about what’s going on outside anyway. God isn’t going to invite us to a feast and then make us stand outside and take care of the guest list. That just isn’t our role. Our role is to celebrate.

So from now on, wherever you are on your journey to the feast at God’s place, you should most definitely hand out invitations along the way. Bring as many people as you can, cause we’re gonna’ have us a party.

But when someone tries to stop you and tell you that you can’t go, or that you need to change your clothes or comb your hair or do this or don’t do that, I want you to look them in the eye and tell them this: “You see this? This is my invitation to the party.”

Your invitation isn’t going to have a dress code mentioned. It’s not a black tie affair. It won’t even have a time listed! You’ll be there when you get there, so long as you continue to walk in the direction of the party.

It just says, “Come.” That’s it. That’s all that’s required. “Come.”

You can tell it was written for you, because it’s signed by Jesus. He signed all of our invitations in blood, and that’s the real reason we can get in the door.

This might be a good time to remind the stranger, who may sincerely be trying to help you from the bottom of their heart that they need to keep walking, too. Remind them that they have an invitation as well, but they have to move to get there. Standing still and stopping others doesn’t get anyone home any faster. If they join you, that’s great. If not, then maybe someone else who comes along will be able to get them to go. Whether they do or not doesn’t change anything for you.

You still have your very own invitation.

“Come.”

December 12, 2009

random ramble

November 19, 2009 11:15pm

I got off work at 9:30pm today. I thought for sure I would catch Cody before he went to bed, and even called the house while I was walking out to my truck to make sure he didn’t go to bed before I got home. No such luck. We did get to spend the day together before I went to work though, so I’m not too bothered by it.

I was starving when I got home, so I made a bunch of french fries and munched on them, which I now realize was a mistake. I ate way too many of them. I also thought that I would be staying up for quite a while, but now I’m getting kind of sleepy. Had I known I would be this tired so soon, I wouldn’t have eaten so much. Now I have to stay awake for a while to let all those fries settle or I’ll feel like crap in the morning.

Not a whole lot happened today. I slept until 11am even though I went to bed “early”. I guess my body is just tired from all this extra work. I read for a while this morning, and then Cody and I spent some quality time together.

*edit*

I’m told there is a strong likelihood that we won’t be working at all tomorrow night, which I’m sort of ambivalent about. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to work on the line these last two weeks, but I’m just tired now. I’m not used to the work or the hours anymore, and my body is just ready to give up I think. Cody and I decided today that Saturday would be a good day to get the Christmas decorations out of the attic and start decorating, so if I do get called off, I’ll probably just get a head start on that.

I’m glad next week is Thanksgiving. Cody and I have been so busy lately that it will be nice to have a little down time. We’re planning to go to Bowling Green to spend some time with Bethany’s family. I told Pastor yesterday in our meeting that I won’t lie to my mom about where I’m going or what I’m doing next weekend, but I am going to go out of my way to avoid the subject. If my mom finds out I drove past her to go stay with B and D… That’s not fair though; that’s purely speculation on my part. Speculation based on fact and experience, but still not very nice.

I’m not sure what we’re going to do for Christmas this year. It seems like it gets harder every year to pick out Christmas gifts. At least in years past I haven’t had to be as concerned with a budget, which makes shopping a little easier. Now on top of trying to figure out what to get people I need to be extremely conscious of price. Not that that is a bad thing, I guess. I have always tended to spend way more than I should anyway. The tighter budget will help reign my spending in a bit, if nothing else. I just really enjoy giving gifts, especially if I know it’s like “The” gift for someone.

they don't all have to be in order

December 12, 2009 8:15am

This is actually the third edition of something I wrote this morning. It started with an email, then moved on to be expanded as a journal entry, and now I'm posting it here.

I know that I've been scheduling all my posts for future days of late, but I don't want to get so caught up in doing that that I feel I can't write about today and post it today too.

So I'm posting this despite the interference to the chronology of the rest of my posts. It's my blog and I can do what I want!



I wanted to write in my journal last night, but by the time I got all caught up on “V” on the DVR and finished writing an email, I had literally just finished updating Microsoft Word on the laptop when Cody walked in the door.

Since I was writing about my “issues”, I am pretty sure my journaling would have been more of the same. As it was, it was 10:00pm, I hadn’t seen Cody all day, and we were both exhausted. I thought about staying up a little later, since I really had wanted to write, but instead I said “Fuck it” and went to bed.

This morning I woke up in a much better mood than I have in the last couple of weeks, and I pray to God that it lasts the whole day through. I have, however, been plagued this morning with some not so pretty thoughts about one subject in particular. I’d talked with God a few times about it while having my morning coffee and getting through my routine, but it was still weighing heavily on my mind.

While writing a long-overdue email to my mom and dad, I shared with them a little about it, and before I knew it, the flood gates opened and I realized that I was expressing myself in my letter to them the same way I tend to in my blog and journal. I almost cut and pasted it into my journal right then and there, with the intention to re-write a less detailed update to mom and dad and go back to finish my writing in the journal when I was done.

I decided to just continue writing, as I apparently had something to say and didn’t want to interrupt my “flow”. Before I knew it, I was pretty much preaching a sermon to myself. It was pretty much me working through the issues I woke up with, and I feel it was God’s way of answering my prayers of earlier this morning. I’m thankful that he helped me work through it myself without having to beg and plead for signs and wonders and all of the usual drama.

I decided to send it to mom and dad as is, and then pasted it here in my journal, because I really did feel moved by God’s using me to exhort myself for a change. I want to be able to hold on to not only the lesson I’ve learned from it, but the feeling of peace that it gave me.

The excerpt is as follows:


We got our bonuses yesterday, so the wait is over for another year. My group leader was very kind with my merit rating this year, but with lower profits and a lower income to base my bonus on, my good rating didn't translate to a whole lot compared to years passed. I'm grateful though, that I'm getting a bonus at all. With the year going the way it has, I've said that as long as my bonus covers my insurance premiums for the year with some money left over, I would be happy. Now that we're on the other side of bonus day, I'm doing my best to remind myself that I got what I decided was acceptable to me, and more besides.

Having spent the better part of this past year in a church with a fantastic outreach program is really awesome. The sad part is, for a church to have such a fantastic program, that means there is a need for it. So I have had the opportunity to see things that most of us don't think about very often. We see homeless and disadvantaged people on TV or read about them in the papers, but to be honest, God has blessed us through our work and education richly enough that we don't have to experience that and haven't seen it a lot in our own "real" lives.

There is so much more hunger out there than the little cravings I get while I'm watching TV snuggled up with my dog in my recliner. If I get a little chilly, I can afford to turn up the heat a little. Or if I'm being a smart consumer and want to conserve the energy, I'm typically not any colder than a sweatshirt and a lovingly made afghan can handle.

There are so many people who are so much more cold than me, so very much more hungry than me, so tragically lost to their families and friends.

How dare I be ungrateful enough to entertain a little pity-party in my head for even one second simply because my bonus wasn't big enough when so many people don't have jobs. My profit-sharing, which is non-guaranteed income, is more than some people make in a year, because they have no income. I'm able to write a check to keep a roof over my head, another to keep the lights on, and yet another so that when I turn the knob on my fancy box in the corner, a beautiful fire is there to warm me on command.

Sorry. I got a little carried away. But I needed that. I've been talking to God a lot this morning and praying about my ungrateful heart, and I think He used my letter to you guys to work it out.


Re-reading this here in my journal makes me feel a bit better all over again. I got a pay cut at this time last year, and then a reduction in my hours. The two combined added up to a 45% cut in my pay that has lasted over a year now with the exception of the two and a half weeks I spent working on the line last month.

Cody lost his job almost a year ago.

Our dog got sick and needed surgery.

The faucet in our shower is degraded to the point that one valve no longer closes completely and we have a slow but steady drip 24/7.

I can’t afford to give the gifts I would like to give to my family this year, much less afford to give gifts to all the friends we usually do.

Yet, we’re still able to pay our bills and afford an evening out from time to time. Granted we don’t go out as often, and we have to do less expensive things, but we’re still able.

Cody has not yet found work, but thankfully his unemployment helps cover our bills as much as it is needed to. Cody has been able to volunteer an amazing amount of time and energy to helping others. He’s happier doing what he’s doing now than he has ever been working at a “real” job for a paycheck.

The veterinarian we use is inexpensive enough that we could afford several procedures that would have drained our savings at any other animal hospital. We never had to have that difficult discussion about how much money can we spend before we have to discuss letting go of a life so precious to us both.

Cody is skilled enough to fix most things himself. Through his outgoing personality, he has met people on a personal level most of us take for granted. One of those people happens to be his “go to” hardware guy, who gladly takes on every valve we’ve every brought him and rebuilds them to a like-new state even though they’re older than I am. He’s happy to be of real help, and we’re happy to spend money in his store even though it’s more expensive than most big box places because he’s so kind.

My family is loving and understanding enough to not care what they get, if anything. They just want to spend a special time together, celebrating together. My friends feel the same way. God has brought “real” relationships into my life.

Despite all the hardships of the past year, I’m still standing. I have my own issues to deal with, and I’ve been struggling of late, but I never want to go a day without remembering that I have so much to be thankful for.

Have a great weekend, gang.

December 11, 2009

dear friends and horrible doctors

November 18, 2009 11:15pm

Well, here I am again. I left work at 10:30pm because, although we now have plenty of parts, all of one particular part is bad. So now I’m stuck at home, wide awake in the middle of the night, waiting to be tired enough to go to sleep.

On the way home, I was sort of excited at the prospect of seeing Cody. I know that a lot of days he tends to stay up till about 11pm or so, so I just assumed he would still be awake. No such luck. I haven’t seen him since yesterday afternoon, so I’m missing him a lot. He worked at the food bank today, and I had an appointment with Pastor before work, so we didn’t get a chance to see or talk to each other. I tried to call him on the way to work this afternoon, but he didn’t get the call. I know he goes to the gym on Thursdays, but I’m hoping he doesn’t have anything else planned for the afternoon so that I can spend a little bit of time with him.

I forgot to mention the other day that I had quite a nice conversation with Bethany on Sunday afternoon. She called me before Cody got home; while I was just sitting down to do a little reading. Apparently, when you fall off the face of the internet, people start to miss you a little. She was just calling to check up on me, but it really did make my day. I haven’t been in contact with very many people outside of work since starting this sabbatical, so it was nice to hear from someone I care about.

We talked for what seemed like a long time, though I don’t remember now how long it really was. She was telling me about her morning serving with her outreach group from church at a local nursing home, and how her nephew reacted to being around all of the older and often sick people. She then went on to tell me about the guest speaker they had in church, and some of the things he talked about. She shared some of his insight concerning people’s tendency to justify their own “righteous indignation” by pointing to Jesus’ anger in the bible.

I then got the chance to talk to her about what has been going on in my own life as of late, including how the sabbatical is going, and what I’m trying to accomplish and how. She never ceases to amaze me with her ability to get me to open up and share the real stuff that I usually keep back from everyone else. Talk about a good listener. I was able to tell her about not only my experience with the urologist, but also all the crap that led up to my going to see him in the first place. It’s kind of awkward, but worth trying to tell. I want to remember these events in order to avoid similar situations in the future.

I went to the doctor about 2-3 months ago with a whole list of issues I wanted to address. Some of these problems had been going on for quite some time and needed to be taken care of, but the straw that broke the camel’s proverbial back was the aggravation of dealing with the pressure in my ears. I had felt it on and off since at least August, and I was tired of it. I’m not one for doctors, but when the pressure in my ears started affecting my ability to sing in church on Sunday mornings, I decided enough was enough.

When I got in to see the doctor, we spent a lot of time going over my mental health history, and very little time focusing on the issues I went there for originally. It’s kind of a convoluted story, but basically the doctor recognized me when she walked in, though she couldn’t really tell why. I explained that I had been a patient of hers previously when she worked for the HMO that I used to use. She had left, and when I changed insurance companies, I had discovered that she was in my network again. Being shy about trying out new doctors and all, I decided to go see her, since I had felt comfortable with her the few times I had seen her before.

Well, she used our past history as a starting off point and asked me to refresh her memory as to what was going on the last time I saw her. So I went into the whole long story about the weight loss and stomach problems that she had sent me for some testing about. In the long run, it was decided that those symptoms were all related to the mental health crap that was coming to a head at the same time. So now that the whole depression/anxiety cat is out of the bag, that is ALL she would talk about. She wants me to see a shrink, she wants to prescribe me meds, etc. I was not a happy camper. I tried to explain to her that I was getting counseling from my Pastor, and we were working toward the goal of finding a good psychiatrist whom I would then discuss the possibility of meds with.

So, after I finally get her to back down a bit, she starts talking about referring me to a psychiatrist and then setting up an appointment for a physical in about three weeks. I’m like, “Wait a minute. I have a whole list of reasons why I came here today, and we haven’t discussed any of them.” She got a bit aggravated, but I didn’t care. I made the appointment to talk about specific issues, and she took the crazy ball and ran with it all on her own. I still needed to talk about all the other stuff!

So I went down the list (I literally had an index card with me), and told her what was bugging me. I mentioned the ears, the muscle cramps in my legs, going to the bathroom constantly and an all over itch with no rash or visible irritation.

She checked my ears and told me they looked fine, and then told me that my cramps were probably caused by a vitamin D deficiency. She decided to check for infection in my urinary tract, but also a screening for diabetes as well, which she checked with blood tests that she ordered for the vitamin D thing. The itching though… Oh, she was concerned about that. Turns out an unexplained itch can be a sign of lymphoma. She might have to run some tests to get to the bottom of that.

What, was I too callous with mentioning lymphoma? Well, that’s just how matter-of-fact she stated it to me, so I just assumed it was okay to be blunt with this information.

She sent me next door for the lab work and instructions to come back in two weeks. I got a call later that day telling me my urine was okay, and about two days later I got a voicemail telling me my blood work was okay as well. The only problem is, I still wasn’t sure what all she was testing for that came back okay. I had no idea if a blood test would reveal an indicator for lymphoma.

So, I go back two weeks later and she’s all pissed off because I didn’t call the shrink she suggested. I told her the urination was getting worse, so she decided to check me for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Not too thrilled about that, since I knew I would be clean, but I’m sure doctors hear that a lot.

The ears are still bugging me. Well, the ear drums look fine.

The cramping? The itching? I think it’s your anxieties. You need to see a psychiatrist.

I was livid. By the time I got home, I was so ramped up I couldn’t talk about it. Cody was naturally concerned, though I still hadn’t told him about the lymphoma thing. After about half an hour, I was finally able to talk about it, and I told Cody, “She thinks I’m a crazy whore.”

Basically, my problems are caused by my mental issues and an STD. Two weeks ago, she was scaring me with cancer, and now she’s telling me it’s all psychosomatic. Great.

Cody and I didn’t really get a chance to talk much more, as his mom came over for dinner shortly after that. Later that night is when I got the call from my mom that my cousin was in an accident and would likely not make it. Not a very good day for me.

After talking about all of this with Pastor (whom I did tell about the possibility of lymphoma) and Cody, we decided to take a little more control of the situation. Pastor and I worked out a plan that I would make an appointment with a urologist as soon as I got home from our conference, and he suggested I call Cody on my way home to tell him of my intention so he could hold me to the decision. The two of them working in tandem is remarkable at times, I have to say.

Now that that was out of the way, I needed to see another general practitioner to get a second opinion on all the other crap. I found a doctor who could get me in on my day off, and it was off to the races.

This doctor actually listened! I took copies of all my labs from the other doctor, and he allowed me to go over the whole story of what had transpired up to that point. He asked a ton of questions and took the most extensive family history of anyone I’ve seen to date, and then it was down to business.

For the ears, he suggested a nasal spray, of which he gave me a sample. Unfortunately, the spray didn’t really work, so we’re sort of back to the drawing board on that one.

For the cramping, he suggested calcium and drinking milk. The calcium seems to be helping a lot, but the milk is touch and go, as it appears I may be lactose intolerant.

Now for the part where Jake eats a big old slice of humble pie. This doctor looked me square in the eye and asked if I had been diagnosed as bipolar. Wow. That was a wake up call. He then told me a big long story about a patient of his who was in a similar situation and how Zoloft had really helped him. *gulp*

He asked if I had ever tried a “rescue drug” for my anxieties, such as Xanax, which kind of caught me off guard. I didn’t know such a class of drug existed. I was intrigued. I tried to talk him out of the Zoloft, but eventually just gave in and decided it wasn’t worth fighting over. I would let him write it and just throw it away when I got home.

Well, when I finally did get home, Cody and I had to sit down and have a nice long talk. I filled him in on absolutely everything, including the lymphoma scare, and told him what the new doctor had said. I could tell Cody really wanted to push for the Zoloft, but I was firm in my refusal. I told him that the Xanax was worth a try to at least help with the worst of my anxiety attacks, but the Zoloft was not yet an option.

Well, that very weekend, Cody and I had a rougher time relationship-wise than we have had in quite some time. We hadn’t been getting along very well to begin with, and this particular weekend was pretty bad. By Sunday night, I knew something had to give and I was pretty sure Cody felt the same way I did. So by the time I got home from work on Monday, I had decided to give the Zoloft a chance in order to give us a chance. I knew that I had to do something in order to help us work through our issues together, and I have been back on meds ever since.

Yeah, me. The one who was never ever going to take meds again. *sigh*

On a positive note after all of that, it has been a few weeks since I started the meds, and Cody and Pastor both seem to think there has been some improvement. I’m probably always going to be at least somewhat skeptical, but I know that my relationship with Cody has improved at least. And the Xanax really does seem to help. It could be the placebo affect for all I know, but whatever it is, it’s working.

I don’t know how long I’ll be on this or any other medication, but right now I’m trying not to think about it. I’m setting small goals for myself, and for right now that seems to be enough.


It’s at times like this that I really wish I still smoked in my office.

Whenever I don’t have the ability to sit down and write in this journal, I wish that I could and think of all the things that I want to write about. Now that I actually have the time though, I’m totally stumped. It’s not even 1am yet, but I’m starting to get at least a little tired (maybe it was the beer). I think I’ll go read for a few minutes and then go lay down. Even if I don’t sleep, at least I can cuddle up next to Cody and be warm.

December 10, 2009

i shudder at the memory

*WARNING: Not for the squeamish!!!*

November 17, 2009 1:00am

Well, ain’t this a kick in the head. I spent the weekend taking naps and slept in this (Monday) morning so that I could stay up to work late tonight, and we ran out of parts and left early. We still made fairly decent money, especially considering what I would be making working in the lab, but now I’m home at 1am and wide awake. I was scheduled to work until 3am, and I’m afraid it may be at least that late before I’m tired enough to fall asleep! At least I can get caught up on my writing, right?

So I left off at Saturday the last time I wrote. Saturday was quite the day, to say the least. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself giving all the details of the doctors appointments I’ve had over the last few months, but suffice it to say I have been seeing a urologist. I went the first time a little over two weeks ago, and I was rather impressed. Cody went with me for moral support, and we both agreed after the appointment that we really liked this doctor and felt very comfortable with him. Given the crap I’ve gone through recently with doctors, that’s quite a big deal. Well the urologist, Dr. Schneider, diagnosed me with overactive bladder and started me on a medication to treat it. He asked that I come back in two weeks for a follow up, and mentioned that he would like to scope my bladder on that visit.

Now, on the initial visit, we had already become closer than most men are, given the need to check for hernia and such, as well as a good old prostate exam. The thought of having my bladder scoped was not pleasant at all. He strongly recommended it though, so as to rule out bladder stones or any other conditions he might have missed with the routine check and ultrasound. So I begrudgingly made the appointment and just spent two weeks ignoring the impending test.

On Saturday morning, Cody was kind enough to go with me again. This time, I had a little more help dealing with the impending procedure though: I made sure to take a Xanax before I left! Now, I knew the general idea of what was going to happen, but I can say now that I was in no way prepared for the reality of what was about to happen. We discussed how I was doing on the meds that he had prescribed, and then without further ado, I was instructed to drop trou and lie back on the table. Dr. Schneider was kind enough to give me a paper blanket to drape over myself so I wouldn’t be completely exposed until it was necessary.

He then warned me that I would feel some cold soap, and he wasn’t lying. It was most definitely cold. Having the doctor clean off my penis was definitely a feeling I could live without, but as I was soon to learn, that discomfort was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. He had told me that he would give me lidocane to numb me before inserting the scope, but I had sort of assumed it would be some sort of cream applied to the skin. I was very, very wrong.

The doctor told me he was going to be giving me the lidocane, and then I felt him start to squeeze it into my urethra. Oh my, talk about unpleasant. He told me to just take deep breaths, as he was almost finished. I have never felt anything so uncomfortable in my life. He finally finished and then told me that he would be placing a clamp on my penis to keep the medicine in. He then covered me up and said he’d be back in a few minutes, at which point I should be numbed up and ready to go.

What he failed to mention was how freaked out I would be when I peeked under the blanket after he walked out of the room. I can’t explain what the clamp looked like with any sort of accuracy, but suffice it to say that seeing that contraption clamped onto my junk was very disconcerting! Cody was a doll at this point. I was still reeling from the discomfort of having something injected into my penis, and a little freaked out about the wire squishing me “down there”. He took it upon himself to go through the Reader’s Digest that he had brought in with him and read all the jokes to me. I wasn’t able to pay attention to all that he was saying due to my freaking out, but it definitely went a long way to calm me down.

After about five minutes, Dr. Schneider returned as promised. Except he failed to mention he’d be bringing a nurse back with him as well. *sigh* What’s one more person looking at my junk at this point, right? He said they were ready to get started so I laid back and waited. Turns out I didn’t have to wait long.

I have never in my life experienced anything so uncomfortable! I couldn’t do justice to the horridness of it if I tried. My immediate reaction was to just start sucking air. Dr. Schneider was talking to the nurse and Cody as though he wasn’t trying to split me in half from the penis up, and told me, “Good, good. Just take deep breaths.” Deep breaths my ass. I was in full on lamaz mode. I didn’t know how much longer I could stand it. I felt every single millimeter of that scope as he forced up into my bladder. I thought I was going to start crying or screaming or both. Next thing I know, he’s telling me my bladder looks great. No stones, no tumors. He’s going to check my urethra on the way out, which was fine too, as well as my prostate. It was over. I could dry off and get dressed; the nurse would have my antibiotic when I was done. I would be pretty uncomfortable until later that night or tomorrow morning according to him, but just be sure to drink lots of water.

Oh, it so was not close to being over.

After I dried off and got dressed (while telling Cody everything I wanted to scream during the procedure but couldn’t), I went across the hall to use the restroom before leaving. Oh what new level of hell is this?! Going to the bathroom makes the burning/pressure/evil feeling worse!

Stop at the receptionist to schedule a follow up in two months, and dance to the elevator thinking I’m going die if I have to drive home. Thank God Cody came with me. After the elevator ride, I bolted across the hall to use the restroom again, since I thought I would just pee myself right there. Oh, this is absolute torture. Peeing should not feel this horrendous!

I wiggled in my seat all the way home, trying to no avail to be able to explain to Cody what fresh hell was in my pants. I made it home and up the stairs, at which point I took the lessons I had learned already and decided to sit on the toilet to pee rather than stand. At least that way I didn’t have to worry about my knees buckling from the pain and discomfort. After some more lamaz breathing, I managed to make it downstairs to get a bottle of water. Wonderfully ironic, this situation. I feel like my penis is on fire when I pee, and I’m supposed to drink a bunch of water?! Cruel. Cruel and heartless.

After several more stops on the toilet, which involved a recovery time of at least twice as long as it took to pee just so I could stand back up, I had had enough. I told Cody I didn’t want to be awake for this torture anymore and went in the bedroom to lie down and try to sleep. Thankfully, I was able to sleep comfortably without too much discomfort. I did have to get up to pee one time, and since I had held it so long at that point, it was a new kind of hell. Same situation when I woke up, too. Fortunately for me, the more I went, the better it got. The water seemed to be helping in some way. By late that afternoon, I was comfortable enough to be able to leave the house, so Cody and I were able to go out as we had planned.

We had a function with our couple’s group that I thought I might have to miss, but I decided to wing it and just hope that it didn’t start to get bad again. Fortunately, I only had to pee about three times, and although it was rather uncomfortable, it was nothing like what it had been.

We actually had quite a nice time. We got to meet two new couples, including the hosts for the evening, and spend some time getting to know some other couples a little better. The party was a potluck and game night, and there were a ton of people there. I was kind of uncomfortable at first, and wishing I had popped a Xanax before we left, but eventually I relaxed a bit and just went with it. I had intended to just kind of sit and watch everyone else play, but one of the couples brought out a game and asked Cody and I to play. They were very encouraging, and we ended up having such a good time that we convinced a larger group to come downstairs and play with us a little later. After a few rounds of that game, we went back upstairs, and one of the same guys asked if I wanted to join in a different game, which ended up being very odd, but fun none the less. So I definitely owe Bud and Robert big thanks for making the evening more enjoyable.

Right before we left, ______ asked how my sabbatical was going and was curious as to what it was all about. I told him that I was trying to adjust to the new meds and work on myself and some relationships. He made a pointed effort to make sure I knew he understood where I was coming from and what I was going through and suggested that the four of us get together some time, as he thought we could talk about our common issues. I was very moved by his willingness to help and am actually somewhat eager to be able to talk to someone who’s experienced the same things I have. I won’t push for it to happen, but I’m hoping that ______ can help Cody understand what it’s like from his end too, so that Cody doesn’t feel so alone.

Sunday was much less eventful. Cody and I were both very tired from being out late, but Cody had promised to work in the soup kitchen at church that morning, and had to be out of the house by 8am. I had hoped to be able to go to Sunday School, but I was still having trouble going any length of time without needing to pee, so I skipped out on that and just went to church.

After church, Cody was finally able to get his H1N1 shot, which was great since he is on a medication that is an immunosuppressant. By the time he got home, we were both absolutely exhausted and decided to lie down and take a nice quiet nap together. We even agreed to lock the dogs up this time, since we were so tired that we didn’t want to worry about them being fidgety or waking us up to go outside. It’s nice to have the bed to ourselves every once in a while!

We ended up going out to dinner with a couple of friends later that night, which was a nice little treat. The food wasn’t the greatest, but the company was excellent. Unfortunately, they ended up running later than they had planned though. Since I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t be eating till much later, I had taken my medicine on an empty stomach, which caused me to be even more nauseous than usual. By the time we got our food, I was stuck eating to try and combat the nausea, but eating was actually making it worse.

After we got home, I read for a while and then started getting sleepy. I don’t know if I was fighting a bug or what, but I just couldn’t stay awake any longer. Despite taking a two hour nap that afternoon, I still ended up in bed by 9pm, and I slept for over 12 hours! I woke up several times in the morning, but I knew that I needed to stay in bed as long as possible to prepare myself for working into the wee hours tonight.

I’m finally caught up! Now I can finally start going back over all the other crap I’ve wanted to write about. It’s almost 2:30am, and I think I’m finally tired enough to go to bed, so I’ll pick this up again tomorrow I think.

December 9, 2009

a day in the life

November 15, 2009 8:20am

What an interesting weekend this has been! So many highs and lows, without a whole lot of in between. On Friday, I got off of work at 10am because we were still out of parts and weren’t going to get them early enough to justify our staying any longer. I was somewhat aggravated, since after the first hour and a half, Friday would have been all overtime for us. I am still grateful for the chance to work on the line all week though, even without the overtime. I didn’t bring my pay records home with me to figure out how much I made for the week, but I know that it is a significantly higher number than the hourly wage that I get paid in the lab. I get to work out on the line again next week, too. I’ll be on second shift for the first time in over a year, which doesn’t exactly thrill me since I’m so used to going to bed early and waking up early now, but I’m still thankful and consider myself quite blessed for the opportunity. I may work on the line the week of Thanksgiving as well, but I probably won’t find that out for sure until the middle of the week.

So getting off early on Friday afforded me an excellent opportunity to finally get outside and work in the yard. It was an absolutely beautiful, sunny day which was actually warm enough for me to work in a sweatshirt and enjoy the fresh air. I finally used the electric weed whacker that Cody bought specifically for me this past spring (since I have such a hard time using the gas-powered one, he has had to do all the trimming). I had used nothing but an old pair of pruners to cut down about half of all the ornamental grasses in the gardens, and my hands hurt for days afterwards. So on Friday I decided to experiment and see if I could cut down all the remaining plants in the gardens with the weed whacker instead. Thankfully, it worked rather well. I managed to chop everything down to the ground and get it all bagged up. That will make it easier to rake the leaves out both now and in the spring. It also makes it easier to not have all that dead foliage to clean up in the springtime and gives me a better shot at getting the weeds out before they get out of control again.

As I was walking around the patio table to cut down one bunch of ornamental grass, I noticed that the screen Cody place over the pond to catch all the leaves made it hard to tell there was even a pond there. I actually hoped at the time that some poor animal didn’t go scurrying through the yard and fall into the pond and drown. I made a mental note to mention it to Cody. So as I was working on the next big bunch of grass, I stepped around to get a better angle (that stuff is thick and hard to cut through!), my foot didn’t hit solid ground like it should have, and all I could think is “I don’t remember digging any plants up, why is there a hole here?” My foot hit the shelf along the edge of the pond before I realized what was going on. Thankfully I stepped where I did so that I only went in up to the middle of my calf. If I had stepped to the right or any farther into the middle, I would have been in up to the middle of my thigh and possibly lost my balance and made things much worse. I shudder to think about it now, realizing I was holding on to an electric weed whacker. Thank God for small favors!

As it was, I just kind of did an “I can’t believe my dumb ass just stepped into my own pond” and went about cutting down the grass chuckling to myself. Another reason to be thankful for the warm weather, since I was able to continue working without having to run in and change. I’m not saying that doing yard work while wearing one soaking wet sneaker is fun, but it was at least manageable.

I did learn fairly early in the day what the penance for being out of shape while weed whacking is though: My left bicep was in full revolt the rest of the afternoon. I had a hard time even bringing my hand to my mouth to smoke a cigarette, and when I got done later that afternoon, I wasn’t even able to cut my fingernails! It’s not as sore now, but there is definitely a dull ache there letting me know that it needs more stretching and exercise.

By the time Cody got home from working at the foodbank, I was just wrapping up with my yard work. I got a surprising amount done in a short period of time. I went inside and changed out of my wet pants, and we both just sort of putzed around the house. Being on this sabbatical, if I’m not really “into” reading or writing anything, I get a little listless and bored. So eventually, since Cody was upstairs playing on facebook (who could have seen that one coming?), I crawled into my recliner and curled up with an afghan to take a quick little nap. Ordinarily, Cody will come downstairs and turn on the TV and that will wake me up, so I figured I could steal a quick 15 minutes and then go about my day. Typically when I try to take a nap downstairs, the dogs refuse to be quiet for more than 20 minutes at a time, so they were my back up plan. Well, over two hours later, I woke up rather surprised by the three quietly sleeping dogs and Cody sitting on the couch watching TV. Apparently, I went out like a light and was quite dead to the world.

I usually get kind of aggravated when I sleep longer than I intended, but since I’ll be working late hours on second shift this week, I need to adjust my sleep pattern anyway. So after dinner, I went back and forth between reading downstairs and in my office. Sometimes I can read in the living room while Cody’s watching TV without a problem, but it was really distracting for some reason that night. So we kept dancing between who had “control” of the living room. He’s been super-sweet and accommodating during this whole sabbatical, so I have to give him a lot of credit. Friday night he was driving me nuts though. I would be reading downstairs while he was upstairs on the computer, and when he came down to watch TV, I would come up to my office and read. Then when he’d come back upstairs, I’d go down so I could sit in my recliner and be more comfortable than lying on the bed, and he’d come back down. Neither of us was at fault, it was just an exasperating evening.

Eventually, Cody went off to bed, and I curled up on the couch with a book and a nice cold beer. I figured I would need to stay up till about 11 or 12 before I would be tired enough to go to sleep since I had taken such a long nap. Next thing I know the little clock on the coffee table is beeping at me, and I wake up with my book open on my chest. I hadn’t even drunk half of my beer before passing out yet again! I had fallen asleep for at least two and a half hours, and it was now 12:30am. By the time I let the dogs out and made it up to bed it was almost 1:00am, and I was wide awake again! I thought for sure I wasn’t going to be able to fall asleep again, but thankfully I nodded off a short time later and managed to sleep till the alarm went off.

This is a great place to stop, actually. Saturday was a very big day for me, so it will take quite a while to write out, and I need to jump in the shower and get ready for church.

December 8, 2009

smitten begins with smite

November 12, 2009 6:30pm

I had a thought while I was downstairs, and I’m so glad that I remembered to get it out once I sat back down here. I have been meaning to go over this for quite some time, and I keep saying I’m going to mention it to Pastor, but I never manage to remember. Every once in a while, I get a flash of memory of what it was like when I first met Cody and came out of the closet. In fact, the very night that I came out to my parents is a prime example of what I want to talk about.

When I came out to mom and dad, let’s just say it didn’t go so well. We didn’t get too heated that night that I recall (although there were a couple of occasions shortly after that were), but it didn’t really go all that well either. I was upset and needed to talk to someone when I got home from my parents. I had told Cody earlier that afternoon that I was planning to come out to my parents, and he made it clear that I could call him to talk if I needed to. Well, did I ever need to talk to him. The problem was, I kept calling and calling his cell phone, but he didn’t answer. This would be the first of many, many occasions where I felt that I was being punished for being gay.

Cody and I had only been dating for about three or four weeks when this happened, and I remember to this day when I call Cody or give someone those numbers that the reason I memorized his home and cell phone numbers was because I spent so much time franticly dialing and redialing them. I remember a nasty storm, but I can’t be certain of it now; I think that my memory may have added that in over time to color the tale.

At any rate, I was trying desperately to contact Cody to no avail. He just wasn’t answering. So my mind, raised on fundamentalist Christian fire and brimstone, immediately went ape shit. This was my penance. I had called down the wrath of God upon the both of us for daring to walk willingly into a homosexual relationship. I feared the worst had happened to Cody. He wasn’t answering his phones because he had been killed in an accident. He had fallen off the side of the building at work. He had been struck down by a heart attack or a stroke. All because I came out to mom and dad.

It was not a pleasant way to spend the evening, I assure you.

As it turned out, Cody wasn’t home, so there was obviously no way he could have answered the home phone. He had gone for a motorcycle ride to his friend Paul’s house and he left his cell phone in his jacket pocket, and his jacket was in the driveway draped over the seat of his bike. No fire and brimstone. No heart attack. Just an everyday, run of the mill, simple explanation. Yet my mind, having been trained to think that homosexuals were the epitome of sin for 23 years, simply took off chasing rabbits every which way except the one that ended in truth.

There were so many occasions, particularly that summer, that something would trigger those horrible thoughts of God’s punishment. I would be driving the 90 mile journey to see Cody in a hellacious downpour with horrible winds, and my mind of course told me that God had sent the storm because I was going to see Cody.

There would be a terrible thunderstorm, and as I looked out Cody’s kitchen window, I was sure that God was going to send the huge oak tree in the back yard crashing through the back of the house, crushing everything in its path, including us.

It was like I was Charlie Brown with the rain cloud over my head. Only this was no ordinary rain cloud: this was the wrath of an angry, vengeful God. It was rough to say the least.

I’m exhausted, and I need a shower.