Slurpees

Sorry guys, I just don’t feel like writing today.

So as an apology, I offer you this retro treat. It’s a silly little video I made a year or two ago before I grew my hair back out, or at least, the little I have left. I hope you enjoy. While you are watching it, I think I’m going to go by the gas station, they have the blue Slurpee I am suddenly craving. (What flavor is blue supposed to be anyway?)

Chaos Piano

This idea is not mine. In fact, I have no idea where I heard this. If anyone knows who it was that came up with this, please let me know, they deserve the credit. I have used this imagery for years, and will use it for many more.

Imagine for a moment that you have two twin girls. Who doesn’t want their children to be creative? Not you, that’s for sure, so being the taskmaster that you are, you make them both play piano for an hour a day, every day. Let’s be honest, they probably don’t want to be told what to do, but dangit, you are the parent, so they are just going to have to buck up and play. Pouty faces notwithstanding.

Here’s the deal though. To one, you give the ability to be completely creative. She doesn’t really need lessons, she can figure out what to do with her imagination. In the beginning, she gets mighty frustrated and just bangs on the keys, but at some point, out of boredom, she starts to make up a few little ditties. She experiments and generally resigns herself to sitting at the piano fooling around for an hour a day.

To the other, you give her a teacher. the teacher comes in, and it’s rule city. She hates rules, but you don’t care, she’s gonna learn the dang piano. There are rules about practicing scales, and chord progressions. There are rules about theory, and how long she has to spend each day studying. There so many rules, that in the beginning, it seems that all she is allowed to work on. Not only that, but she has to play the same dang song, over and over again until she gets it just right. It’s a real pain in the – you know where.

Fast forward 15 years. What do you think you will see?

You already know the answer of course. The child given complete freedom will most definitely have some interesting music, but maybe she figured out rhythm, maybe she didn’t. Maybe she didn’t like the black keys, so never bothered trying to use them. Creative? Maybe, but hardly accomplished.

In the meantime, lessons have blossomed into Beethoven. She can play Jazz, honky-tonk, country, and happy birthday when the need arises. Maybe she has even stretched out on her own, and is writing her own music. She has built on the mistakes and successes of her predecessors.

The point is simple. It is rules and structure that really allows us to be creative, not the opposite. Yes, at some point you have to be able to look beyond the rules, but not until you know why they are there on a gut level. Until the rules have true value and meaning, you haven’t really learned them. If you want to splash paint on a canvas, it may be art, but it’s not good art, and you know it. If you have studied art to mastery, splashing paint means something different entirely.

This holds true to all your life, be it work, play, or your personal relationships. It is the structure these lie within, and dealing with these structures that truly give you the ability to be creative. It is the structure, the rules, that really allow you to live your life in an open, vibrant way. To do otherwise is anarchy, and you have madness take over that would rival the worst apocalyptic film.

So the Church has rules. You bet it does. There is a structure that we have to work within to truly live our lives to the fullest. These rules and moral codes are not there to pin us down, but to lift us up. They are the very thing that allows us to reach towards our highest selves, until we no longer need the rules at all, because like the saints, we understand the meaning behind them.

Until then, think of the rules as a stake planted next to a vine. The vine might not always need the stake, but without it, the vine will lay on the ground to be trampled. That is not creative, and it does not help the vine reach towards the Son at all.

Naked People

I have a confession to make. I love naked people. I must sincerely say, that there is no place on earth where I can see the glory of God then in the human form. I mean, most of us really look the same if you blur your eyes, a couple legs and arms, a head, a large trunk. When you really begin to look though, no two people look the same at all.

Nothing so shows the way God thinks as much as how these themes repeat, but never with the same performance. The quiet beauty of mankind is so pure, so lovely.

There are two places this is really apparent to me personally. First is babies and children. The cute little hands and feet of a baby, with every itsy bitsy little fingernails perfectly formed is for me a grand show of God’s providence. Those little hands will grow to be the hands that hold another child, and I am in wonder. As they get older, watching their bodies change is equally astounding. Watching my young daughters slowly develop into women holds me in rapt attention. Seeing the first strands of hair sprout from the face of a young man is like feeling my own manhood being reborn.

Men to are beautiful to look at too. I can never see a picture of Michelangelo’s David, or The Pieta without cocking my head, and pondering why man was made so.

But nothing hold my attention like the body of a woman. At some point in my genetic makeup, God set in me a love and a near worship of the gentle curves, the lush roundness, and the soft skin of a woman. Every flash of the skirt, turn of the ankle, dimple on her cheek holds my very being in it’s grasp.

This is why I hate Pornography.

While I can’t find the actual quote, this supposed quote from John Paul II really sums it up for me.

“The problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of a person, 
but that it shows far too little.”

Pornography is truly one of the great evils of our time. Yes, it has been around a long time, but not in the form or with the distribution it has now. It takes the true beauty of a man or woman and distorts it so out of whack as to remove it’s beauty. The same face and form is reduced to mere genitalia, with no other purpose than to spark my sexual nature.
When I look at my wife, it is her wholeness that pleases me most. I have memorized the birthmark on her thigh. I have counted the freckles on her face. I have seen both the grimace of pain from bearing my children as well as the laughter at their first steps. Her calling me is like the tinkling of bells, and her censure is the torrent of a storm.
So when my wife and I share the same bed, I know that we are made to fit one another. My emotions to hers, my body to hers, my spirit to hers. She is not merely genitalia.
As I look at other women, in them I see my wife, and I know that they are whole, they are real, and that beauty captivates me. I often wonder at their forms, do their husbands feel about her as I do about my dear wife? I smile as I hope so.
Then there is porn. There is no thought of the person at all, just a vague yet insatiable need, and a blinding emptiness. Yes men, I understand your desire and love for the feminine form, but honor that desire, that woman. Pornography is blind to the woman, and turns a whole person into an object. Porn does not show her family ties, her dreams, how much she disliked her third grade English teacher, how terrible she was at ice skating. A woman’s sexual nature is a beautiful and powerful thing to behold, but without “her”, it is an empty shell. Pornography takes a child of God, and turns her into a tool.

Equally devastating, it turns you into a tool as well, it robs both of you your humanity.

So keep away from all that junk. Next time you are walking down the street and you see a beautiful woman, just look at her, and say to yourself, “My goodness, Lord. You sure know what You are doing.” Then share a smile with Him, and offer thanks.
Or even better, introduce her to your parents, and just maybe, one day, you can take her home.

Isn’t the Weekend Supposed to be Fun?

Ah, I remember the days when the weekend would come, and I would be so ecstatic. When I had a corporate job I worked hard, often 60-80 hours a week. I was permanently on call. I woke up early, and thought about little else other than wishing I was still in bed at home, but I gave it all I got. There was always one guiding light, one beacon of hope.

Friday would come eventually.

In working from home, so much of my time is my own. I never really kept a schedule, and after all that time in the office where every second was planned, it was a great blessing. I just loved being free and open. No more did I have to schedule in family time, time to work out, hobby time and slice and dice my day into oblivion. I was like a sailor on the open sea, love the scent of every salt laden breath.

I now have to keep a calendar, and my days are scheduled by the half hour again. It is a draining, sinking feeling, and though I’m twice as productive, I cannot help but feel I lost my boat somewhere in the wide open sea.

It’s for the best, I know. There was no way I could do all the things I have to do without really planning ahead. That does not however mean I have to like it.

Strangely, I thought I would have to prioritize, but I’ve run into a basic problem. Everything I do is very important to me, and part of my perceived mission in life. I can’t in good conscience do any of the tasks with which I am charged in a halfway manner. The kids have to be educated, the Church must be served, and I must keep my business afloat. It’s like saying, would you rather eat, or drink or breath this month? I don’t have a choice, all three must be done at the same time, and I can’t skimp on any of them.

Insert the dreaded calendar. I do have two great blessings in trying to make this work. First, homeschooling can be done at any time, any place. It is not uncommon for me to be making calls for work while my daughter is sitting at the desk next to me working on her Latin. No, I’m not as present as I’d like to be, but she really only needs so much help, so a quick point of the finger or a quick note, and she’s back on track. Multitasking at it’s best.

My business is much the same. I don’t really need a set schedule, I can schedule my work around my other responsibilities, so it pans out alright. Yes, I have to schedule everything, but I make it through.

(Okay, now enter sad music. Some tired, old, overbearing piano music would do nicely.)

But, (sniffle- sob) I no longer have a weekend.

I work seven days a week. Yes, my Saturdays are mostly church work, and I never do real work or school on Sundays, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going full bore.

This weekend it’s deacon formation classes all day Saturday starting at 8:30 am, and going till evening. (at which time I will sneak into whatever Mass I can get to, and then write up a blog or two for this site) Yes, on Sunday we will cut classes short at noon, but that makes no difference, because I have a 20 something group that meets at my house Sunday evening, and a talk to give a the youth group for a nearby parish. (Dangit, I just realized I still need to put together that talk.)

Nope, no weekend for me.

You know, I’ve never been on a cruise. What would I do with a week of nothing to do? I’d probably implode.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have it no other way. All that I invest my time in is important to me, and I wouldn’t change it. I love teaching my children, I love my business and the people I have the pleasure of working with, I love to share the faith and want to give all I have and am for Christ.

Once and a while though, I just wish I could forget it all and just go sit on the beach with a six pack of beer, a gallon of ice water, a 6 foot sub sandwich, my favorite penny whistle and watch the whole day just slide by.

Bumper Stickers

I have grown to hate them. I know they are not what taught the American public to think in sound bytes, but they are it’s worst reality.

Of course the political ones are rather annoying. Yes, schools are important, and bombers are expensive, but I think it’s a bit ridiculous to expect the Army to put on bake sales.

 

Yes, I know that logging is an important industry and you are frustrated by environmentalists, but “Earth First, We’ll Log the Other Planets Later” is a little too rough, don’t you think?

But these are nothing to the latest bash I have seen recently

I mean seriously, do you really want to put these on your car? You know that everyone driving past you are going to have to read these right? You know that this includes children? I just don’t think it is anywhere near appropriate for me to have to explain these to kids. To tell the truth, I hate repeating them here, but I have to explore the degradation somehow.

In fact, I really can’t list the bad ones. You’ll have to do with the moderately bad, and imagine them much worse. I refuse to allow some things to come out of my mouth, or get typed from my hands.

I suppose that I should start off with why this suddenly set me off. I was driving home today, and my daughter goes, “Ewww!” I of course ask what is wrong, and she won’t tell me. (She is a good girl, and knows there are things that shouldn’t come out of her mouth either!) So she points at a truck parked nearby, and on the back window, in letters two feet tall it reads, “Show me your tits”. Seriously, like a huge billboard. Aren’t there laws against such indecency? If not, there should be.

So without further ado, some bumper stickers to boil your blood.

“I am not an alcoholic, I’m a Drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings.” 
Great to know. Thanks.
“Take revenge, Sh– on a pidgin.” 
Brilliant thought, thanks for sharing.
“Take your ex out tonight, one bullet ought to do it.” 
Hmm, wonder why you aren’t together anymore.
“Breast inspector ahead, please have them out.” 
I’m so surprised you can’t get a date.
“Lost your cat? Look under my tires.” 
Truly funny. Have you thought of doing stand up?
“Jesus loves you, but I’m his favorite.” 
Well, I think we might have missed the point on that one.
“Be kind to animals, don’t eat them.” 
But slaughter defenseless plants with glee. Unless they are trees.
“Lord, help me to be the person my dog thinks I am.” 
I have no witty comment for this one.
“My other car is a broom.” 
Wow, I can see why you are using this one then.
“Keep your laws off my body.” 
Which ones? Domestic violence or the right to medical care?
“Reality is for people who lack imagination.” 
And imagination is for people who lack reality.

“The only Bush I trust is my own.” 
Lord, I don’t even want to think about this.
“I brake for hookers.” 
No wonder your car is so beat up, you must be broke.
“Horn broke, watch for finger.”
I bet you are pleasant at parties.
“Intolerance will not be tolerated.”
Clearly missed his logic classes.
“I’m only speeding ’cause I really have to sh–” 
Let’s put that one in the TMI file.
“Objects in my mirror are dumber then they appear.” 
You got that right buddy.

I could do this all day long, this thinking in bumper sticker language is strangely addicting. I better stop now before I go into t-shirts.

Seriously though, I really only chose the tame ones without any really bad language. I am used to being shocked when I watch TV, and am still becoming accustomed to being shocked as I drive.

Okay, I can’t help it, one more, my absolute favorite.

If you can read this, turn me over
 
In case you are wondering, I do have a bumper sticker.
It says “Catholic Radio, 1400am”.