Archive for March, 2015

The Truth About Same Sex Attraction

The Truth About Same Sex Attraction.

So, you think your life is “interesting”? Part 3

I was educated as an engineer, and I have spent the last 29 years trying to be one (full disclosure: since I am being laid off just two months short of 30 years with the same company, I am evidently not a very good one). So, I would much rather find out how this story ends before publicizing any of it. I would much rather show a long and convincing list of great decisions, fabulous insight, and comprehensive analysis. This story I am sharing is so far out of my comfort zone, I’m not on the dark side of the moon, I am in a different galaxy.

I was attending a meeting at church this past Friday night when my wife’s sister came by for a “visit.” When I got home (I was gone all of two hours), the sister-in-law had taken the daughter and the grandson with her. You see, “Meathead” (father of grandson, with apologies to Rob Reiner) is coming into town, and since he’s not welcome under my roof, the sister-in-law is, once again, providing the daughter with an alternative. This same thing happened this past Christmas. Ho hum. No good-bye, no nothing.

Now, I can appreciate that the daughter is letting me off fairly easily. I mean, no yelling, no shouting, nothing broken, no threats. And, at one time (not so long ago), I would be tempted to join toss the first (verbal) punch. But, I have learned that nothing, and I do mean absolutely nothing I have ever said gets through to her. So, why bother?

For example:

Any piece of paper with our name on it gets shredded. Given the amount of junk mail we get (who pays for that crap?), we shred a lot. So, it was with some surprise that, while adding something to the recycle bin on the curb recently, that I saw the first page of the daughter’s federal tax return – quite complete and intact – on the top of the heap. Complete with name and social security number; I think her address was there, too; but I froze at seeing the SSN. How can a young 20-something not know anything about “PII” (Personally Identifiable Information)? Has she never heard about “identity theft”? How can that be? I’m old enough to remember when my SSN was used for my employee identification number as well as my bank account number – and I thought that was asinine (considering that the SSN card stated that the SSN was not to be used for identification, I thought it was also illegal).

It would be one thing for someone to paste together the little bits and come up with that info (yes, we use a cross-cut shredder), but to hand a dumpster-diver the entire first page of a tax return? Makes me wonder and fear for her.

I did the only thing any decent human being would do: I took it inside and ran it thru the shredder.

The question (rhetorical) is: Should I come over to her side and stop shredding? Should I throw my own values to the wind and become more socially fashionable? Yeah, like that’s gonna happen (I’m sure many others have said that, but I always think of Ashley Johnson in “What Women Want”).

Last night, somebody called somebody; I had already gone to bed. My wife comes in, holding her smart phone. The sister-in-law is chatting, but the screen is showing the grandson. Been all of three days since I had seen him last; how he had gotten so much cuter in that time I don’t know. Anyway, the daughter didn’t skeedadle and cut us off from her kid. Proof of hope?

On the other hand, today she wants to borrow the car to go pick up Meathead at the airport. As my wife said, at least they aren’t staying with us. Yet.

Pro-discrimination ‘religious laws’

I want to thank Tim Cook for his recent op-ed piece in the Washington Post. If ever there was a poster boy – oops, sorry: person (is that ok?) – for not sticking to your knitting (Rosey Grier did needlepoint, and you don’t get any more macho than Rosey Grier), Tim Cook is surely it.

Granted, I did not see the potential for Apple when Steve Jobs founded it (I’m still a wage slave); but I have always gotten my hands on Apple products whenever I could. I remember when I joined a team that was building a scheduling program on the Mac. The programmers loved Mac, I loved Mac. Sadly, the company went to the other guys and my Mac days ended. Since I always felt that the user experience was far better on Apple computers and smart phones; when I could afford it, the family bought Apple.

Then Tim Cook came out (pun intended) stating that Apple’s primary business, apparently, was not customer experience and the advancement of computer-based technology. And that’s when I learned who he was. I never met Steve, and I never worked at Apple. What little I learned about the inside of Apple, I learned from rumor (now called “tribal knowledge”), John Sculley’s book “Hard Drive” (which still sits on my shelf), and a recent documentary on Steve (Joshua Michael Stern, director; Matt Whitely, writer). Yeah, pretty slim pickens (no pun intended).

‘Course, all I remember about that first exposure (pun intended, sometimes I just knock myself out) to Cook’s name had something to do with his sexual preference – not how my experience using Apple products would be enhanced. Not even his name.  Just something about the Apple head dude was gay.  The creativity of the Apple family was what has always amazed me; I would never buy a product because the sexual preference of the CEO.

But I will boycott a product because of the sexual preference of the CEO.

Frankly, I think I shouldn’t care what Cook’s sexual preference is, any more than I care what he thinks about “Pro-discrimination ‘religious laws’.” But, when I keep getting slapped in the face with what someone’s sexual preference is, and no mention is made of their qualities and attributes as a human being, then I heave a heavy sigh and … and …

Then, he has the unmitigated gall to compare the sexual preference issue with Civil Rights. Really? They’re equivalent? You think this is the same as “Whites Only”? I have an idea: let’s ask Crispus Attacks, Oliver L. Brown, Rosa Parks, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner what they think. Looking at Wikipedia, it seems you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth; so, where did you acquire your privileged  (me, me, me) point of view? And, since you are a product of the Deep South, what have you done to tear down the signs? Anything at all? My guess is nothing whatsoever.

So, you think your life is “interesting”? Part 2

Dunno why GOD drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, He could have just given them teenagers. Maybe that’s what “Original Sin” really is? We were all teenagers once, and maybe even have, or are having, or will have soon, more teenagers. Or, is it just hell on earth?

You can guess that yesterday was not a good day for me. And, it didn’t get any better once I got home last night. But a night on the sofa was nothing compared to the email I got from the boomerang daughter this morning.

I know, I know, I know: having values is just so, so inconvenient. I used to like John Lennon’s song, “Imagine.” But, the more I heard the line “Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too” the more I came to hate it. Once every person and everything is beige and vanilla, then we’ll have peace and the world will be as one. Graham crackers and milk, num, num. And the poor lion of Isaiah who lies down with the lamb will starve to death. Lucky lamb. Sorry about that, lion. I have just one word for your world John: boring. Life is supposed to be messy. Sorry, I’m just biased. Maybe my world is so messy I think everyone’s should be. You know: share the love.

Back to the email.

So, she pretty much rips her heart out of her chest, lays it on the table, and says “I screwed up, and I’m sorry.” Whereupon my heart starts to bleed.

Then I get to paragraph two.

Last September, after she came back pregnant, she decided she needed to go see him – the guy who made her pregnant. So, she flew, coast to coast in October. She had the money for that, but I paid for her college class that quarter. Of course, I was silly enough to demand to see her grades from the summer quarter I had already paid for. And no, I have not seen any grades at all; but why quibble? When she asked if he could come out over the winter break, and I said he wasn’t staying in my house, he came out anyway and they stayed in my sister-in-law’s apartment. I know I had big plans for a family Christmas, including seeing the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker” (last season for the Stowell/Sendak version that I had come to love for nearly 30 years); my wife and I went, without our daughter (so much for the ballet lessons I had paid for).

The rollercoaster of course went into the clouds when our grandson was born. He’s two months old today, and is the absolute personification of an angel. How he manages to get cuter every day I will never know.

But, our daughter wants the father of her child to actually meet his off-spring. The fact that the horny little shit hasn’t bolted is not in his favor; I wish he would have (should that be “would have had”? yeah, more quibbling). I would lay money on a snowball in hell, before I would lay even a plugged nickel down on them getting and staying together. So, her email contains this: “He is coming here with his dad to see his son on March 31st until April 5th.” What am I, chopped chicken liver, here?

It just occurred to me that she has made plans to interrupt the most dear holiday of the year for me. As much as I enjoy Christmas, and the birth of Christ is a big deal; the Triduum and Easter is, by far and away, a much, much bigger deal for me.

Being at work, I do the only thing I can: write her an email. I tell her that I learned a few things over the years. That I didn’t paint rocks in the Marine Corps. That some things can’t be compromised without losing your identity, your “who I am.” I tell her I know her generation thinks my generation is irrelevant, and then point out the irrelevant house she is living in, the irrelevant food she is eating and the irrelevant car she is driving. I throw in the irrelevant car seat and stroller her son is riding around in for good measure. Forgot to mention the irrelevant diapers he’s wearing.

I say that, when what’s-his-name steps up and accepts responsibility, then he will be welcome in my house. I also mentioned something about the application of the quaint colloquialism, “shotgun wedding” – but only to say that, if I had a shotgun, I would meet him at my front door with it. And it wouldn’t be to force a wedding. I mean, what would be the point of doing that? Talk about irrelevant!

I stewed about it all day. I have prayed, and I have prayed hard. Two places in the Bible came to mind: the woman accused of adultery (John 8:11), and the blind man at the temple (John 5:14). In both instances, Jesus said “Sin no more.” I suggested that “repent” did not mean shedding a tear and then pressing on; it means a significant change in behavior. Not just a small course correction. I implied that to continue to live as she has was in no way something she should be doing; and hell would freeze over before I let it happen in my house.

After reading it the umpteenth time, I came to the conclusion that I would rather be known for believing in something, rather than believing in nothing (ala John Lennon). I told her I had already been called a self-righteous prig and that she needed to be more original.

Then I hit the “Send” button.

So, what can I expect at home tonight? Yesterday, after I did a whole 12-hour shift, I had to make my own dinner. They had already eaten. I guess it will be more of the same today. Will the daughter be there? She’s already left twice without saying good-bye (yes, she drove off in my – irrelevant – car on one occasion). I’m still “guardedly optimistic” that I will find another paycheck after this one ends next month (I know UPS is hiring “package handlers” at $14.75/hour). My wife is heavy with child(ren), and getting heavier and heavier.

Who says GOD doesn’t have a sense of humor?

So, you think your life is “interesting?” Part 1

Last week I somehow found myself at Lisa Bonchek Adams’ website/blog. Sadly, I also discovered she had lost her struggle with cancer. I have started trying to digest what she shared; tho knowing where her journey took her makes her story anything but “light” reading. Compelling, yes; light, no.

By comparison – I have no known physical maladies – my life is a cakewalk. But of course, that could change tomorrow; or even be irreversibly changing as I type these words. Why wait for what insurance companies call a “life event”? Why wait to blog until after the writing mysteriously appears on the wall, for it most certainly will. Someday.

I hear the bell now.

I had a good job, a loving wife, a spiritual/religious life that was being enriched daily.

I found her rather late in life – a lot of water under my bridge. Apparently, I wasn’t ready for marriage/fatherhood when I had tried that vocation before. (As I am sure the daughter of my first marriage would eagerly attest to.)

Active in the Church in high school, I took a left turn at Albuquerque and wandered around in the wilderness for far too long. Thanks to Pope St John Paul II and Fr Jack, a Roman Catholic priest, I woke up and smelled the coffee.

Then, our daughter, who walked out the front door two years ago without so much as a good-bye (or good riddance), came back last fall. Pregnant.

In October, our prayers were answered and my wife got pregnant. I thought she was pretty buoyant before; now her feet didn’t even touch the ground.

Two months ago, in January, our daughter delivered the cutest, most precious little boy GOD ever created. The little guy could not be loved more.

Well, the “good” in “good job” means that the job I had paid well; but, it was only a job, a paycheck, nothing more (yeah, quoth the Raven nevermore). In 2014, it looked like I could hang onto the paycheck until I decided I couldn’t justify spending any more of my life for it. In February, I received a “60 Day Advance Notice of Layoff” – aka a WARN notice. Ok, fine. The job paid the bills and then some; but that gravy-train was pulling into the station and not pulling out again.

Great timing.

In 2014, 2015 was looking like a good year. That is, a year when finances would not be issues. In March, 2015 is looking like adding three mouths on no paycheck. “Good” doesn’t leap to mind; “unknown” does (as in “there be dragons”).

I would never have called my life “boring” (I think that word should be reserved for those with extremely limited imaginations; I am never bored, tho I am sure many have called me boring). As an engineer, planning and problem solving are second nature for me. Lately, I have felt that all the boats I had lined up for crossing to the beaches at Normandy had sunk. I am way past “Plan B.” I look out at the horizon and see nada. Abraham Lincoln is given credit for saying, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction I had nowhere else to go.” I know the feeling.

Since I had started this blog years ago (and added to it only sporadically), I got the bolt out of the blue to share this part of my life-long journey with anyone who cares to read it. I figure losing my job in the same year as I am adding three babies qualifies as a life event. Not the magnitude of Lisa’s, of course – there is no comparison that way. But, just as we should not forget Lisa, or Farkhunda, the Afghan woman beaten and burned to death, it would seem that there might be some people – the three new kiddies in the house – who might wonder who I was. Maybe how I did it; you know, kept it all in one sack. Yeah, lots of assumptions, there.

It’s not that I think I have answers. If you’re reading this because you think I do, then I will ask you to leave now. I see no point in you wading through my prose to finally tell you that there was no butler (I’m partial to Colonel Mustard, myself). I will go so far as to say I have no idea what most of the questions are. If you believe in feedback, or dialogue, feel free to chime in and suggest yet another something I have overlooked, or was otherwise oblivious to (I wonder how Churchill would get that pesky “to” off the end of that sentence; surely he would not put up with…well you know how that goes).

I can’t imagine that it needs to be said; or rather, that you, Gentle Reader, need me to say it: this ain’t no Dickens. Oh, I would love it if I could get paid for my writing – especially by the word. How he was able to write his novels in installments, never being able to go back and revise is quite beyond me. Quite. So, while this blog is a narrative, an “emerging design” as was said many times during the master’s program I took eons ago, it will be honest. No bets on how cohesive, however. There will be flashbacks. There will be repetition. And not as literary devices. Not by design, but by stupid (doesn’t “design by stupid” sound better than “stupid design?). I will hopefully not have too many typos, er, misspellings. Grammar will be suspect.

Oh, the biggie: if I say something noteworthy, it is probably the work of someone else – not me. If I fail to give any credit, or proper credit, puh-leez correct me. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

39 Days and counting

Which means I have had the “60 Day Advance Notice of Layoff” for three weeks. Time enough, I would think to laugh at the email I received from a manager last week:

quote:

There is a process in place where managers of employees who receive a RIF notice (60 day WARN) to share those employee’s names with the functional skill team.

That way, the skill team can look at openings (reqs) and identify best fit recommendations.

Hiring managers are also informed of the individual with a WARN.

The recommended course of action would be: Manager of warn employee: notify skill team captain and hrg [Human Resources group]. Employee:  update resume, provide to his/her mentors and HRG, set up notifications in [company staffing website].

end quote

Of course – of course – being a fairly intelligent, 29-year employee, I had already done all of that. In fact, since we all (at my level here in the trenches, not in the penthouse atop the ivory tower) saw this train (juggernaut?) months ago, all of the above recommendations had been done months ago.

My opinion of management, never much in doubt, has been confirmed.

Granted, the final whistle/buzzer/bell has not quite sounded; but there is a point in every game (real, virtual, or imagined) when the outcome seems inevitable. I mean, I’m not Doug Flutie (or, Gerard Phelan). I mean, I do believe in miracles, I just don’t depend on them. I mean, hope is not a strategy.

So, I dragged myself into Confession this past Saturday; it is sooo hard to do: I never know what to say (“still crazy after all these years” Paul Simon?). By the time I had stood in line for 45 minutes (penance enough for anyone) I had my confession: I had a lack of faith.

I mean, here I am: our boomerang daughter returned home (Praise God). Pregnant (Praise God she didn’t have an abortion). And added the cutest, most darling little boy in all of God’s Creation (PG) to our family (effectively doubling the number of souls under our roof). My wife has finally had her every prayer answered and is pregnant with twins (one of each; PG). And, of course, God, with His impeccable sense of timing (proof He is the Master Comedian) has chosen this moment to, well you did read the first paragraph above, didn’t you?

Just how in the world was <I> going to provide for my (doubled) family, when I was on the verge of losing my (very nice) paycheck and health/medical benefits? That’s actually a two-parter: <how> and <I> – but, I’m getting ahead of myself.

After I told my tale of woe, the priest, the Alter Christus, gave me a Penance I had never heard of. Not the usual Our Fathers and Hail Marys I had grown up with, was used to, and expecting.   Oh no, a curve ball. Completely out of the blue (or some such place), I hear: “Read two chapters of Proverbs and meditate on your situation.”

I leave the Confessional, sit in a pew, pull out my smart phone, access the Laudate app and begin reading Proverbs. Now, I am very reluctant to be seen staring at my cell phone in church, because so many young people do, and I don’t think they are reading the Bible; but …. There I found in verse 3: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely.” (Another first: I prefer the New American Bible version here to the Douay-Rheims.)

On February 13, I had sent an email to a company vice-president; in part, it said: “What really astounds me is that [company] recruited me while in graduate school at Purdue (I graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering), flew me to Seattle for interviews, hired me and moved my family out here.  Now, almost 30 years later (my anniversary is June 26, approximate two months after my last day on the payroll), with years of experience in the industry, and with [company], I have less value to the company.” A month later, I have had no requests for my resume, no interviews and certainly no offers.

Obviously, I am v-e-r-y slow. Very much a tortoise. I have made other impulsive, spontaneous jumps in my life, “doing it my way,” and have come to believe my way is not the best way. Probably never was; certainly is not now.

Yes, I have attended a resume writing class. One thing that struck me was the advice to do whatever I could to hide the fact that I was over 50 years old. The other thing that I took away was to use key words; great advice for a generic resume. So much for marketing myself.

In other words, I have a list of reasons as long as my arm to leave this gig (starting with the company showing me the door); and only the fear of not being able to continue this lifestyle for my growing family to stay. It isn’t so much a fear of the unknown that keeps me awake at night, it is the fear of what <I> don’t know. When I was 19, and just starting out, I was fearless because the world was huge, opportunities were divergent, and I believed in hard work. Now, out of altitude, airspeed and ideas, I find the world much smaller, opportunities convergent, and hard work doesn’t count for much of anything anymore.

I will continue to row and bail; and pray for fair winds and following seas. It may be a dark night; but there’s also a red sky….

Now What?

Nevermind the betrayal,

Nevermind the denial,

He is gone,

Gone, gone.

All those years,

All those hungry and thirsty days,

All those sleepless nights,

Forgotten boats, empty ledgers,

So much dust.

Signs and miracles and voices,

People and bread and fish,

Singing people, branches waiving,

Singing whips, crown of thorns.

Beaten, bloodied, broken, defiled,

Hung on a tree, ridiculed, insulted, degraded,

Or, so I am told.

Now eleven, so much with Him,

Nothing without Him,

He is gone,

Now what?