Purgatorio

January 26, 2008 at 7:44 pm (Day to Day)

At the end of the 19th century, sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen coined the phrase “Conspicuous Consumption”. This was not a term of endearment; it was a term to describe the outlandish living conditions of the world’s wealthy. It was not enough to have a shiny new engine-powered vehicle, for example. To conspicuously consume meant to have your engine-powered buggy to be as gaudy as possible so everybody knows you have it and to be jealous of it. Jay Gatsby’s yellow “circus wagon (as Tom declared it)” is an example of this. To live this kind of lifestyle means to flaunt your wealth. The idea of conspicuous anything is an interesting concept and even reflects “keeping up with the Jones.”

In less than six months I have been introduced to Conspicuous Spirituality. Conspicuous spirituality is the flaunting of one’s own piety—even if it is only a perceived piety that lacks the actual spirituality behind it. I am not going speak wryly about this; I am talking about my experiences at the BSU. These are my experiences at the BSU. They are subjective and can only be compared to other experiences: First Pres, UCM, and FBC mostly. Conspicuous spirituality is, in my opinion, the act of ostensibly hiding one’s insecurities behind flippant words and deeds.

Piety, and conspicuous spirituality, in the BSU sense is hardly defined by religiosity (or excuse me, it’s-not-a-religion-it’s-a-relationshiposity) or devotion to the religion. Piety is taking a stance on something that is well-agreed upon and defending it to the death. Being wrong is something that is not tolerated; you are, after all, never wrong. Something is wrong because it is wrong, and it will be defended like an axiom. An example that first comes to mind is poker. I like playing poker, and I like playing with a small buy-in (less than the cost of a Friday night movie at the theaters). I understand that it is a sticky subject, maybe even a grey one. I am willing to admit that it is a grey issue, however. Others are not so willing. D.J. and I were able to defend the buy-in as paying for entertainment. “RABBLE RABBLE! BE GOOD STEWARDS OF GOD’S THINGIES!” And so we defended it as if we were defending the idea of spending money on a movie. Nobody who played was an addict, it would never be played at the BSU out of respect for the rules, and some of my best memories have involved poker nights with the guys. The conversation and the guy-time has always been wonderful. We were still wrong and admonished for it, the immoral, the ones who needed guidance from the Holy Spirit that leads to repentance. This made the pious all the more pious. Be as aggressive as you can is their battle cry. I will go to great lengths to defend what I think is truth, especially biblical truth, but the methods of trying to shame and guilt somebody into thinking they are wrong is not right. What bothers me most about conspicuous spirituality is that their isn’t much use for the bible in their rhetoric. “As iron sharpens iron…” the proverb says; it’s more like two wet noodles going at it. It was something I actually wasn’t very keen to. I originally thought most of the BSUers were very affluent to biblical knowledge. It’s easy to confuse a solid biblical base with zealousness for a system than for the Creator. That system can be a number of things, but unfortunately it usually isn’t the bible.

The biggest threat to the BSU population is deviation from the status quo. The status quo has not actually defined. It could be assumed, however, that being Baptist is one of the caveats. In effort of unity, the most obvious is also the most wrong. This was something I thought I would be happy with since inter-Christian ecumenicalism is something I am very familiar with. There is a comfortable middle or compromise. This is basically middle America of the BSU. They are typically conservative in their theology and even more conservative in their politics. They tend to be more zealous in their political convictions than in their religious—or there is definitely some confusion on which is which. Within the first few weeks of the fall semester, a debate began taking place in an already-volatile atmosphere of political argument. The famous and well-remembered abortion talk took place. D.J., being the D.J. he is, not only defended the right to choose but even compared aborted fetuses (would that be feti?) to Oscars. D.J. was admonished for both his analogy but his pro-choice view. This is an example of deviation. The problems I have had never involved me disagreeing with people. The problem is that when you disagree with the majority, it is not so simple of each side thinking the other is wrong, it is that you have erred from the truth (whatever it may be) and are expected to feel remorse and shame for not agreeing. It is only by God’s grace (and some over-the-top lecturing) that you can come to a full understanding of whatever it is you disagreed on. To be different is to be wrong and potentially ostracized. The attitude is “if you would just understand my point, you would agree with me.” I used to think the same way about Calvinism. What people have a hard time understanding is that sometimes you can understand the other side and simply disagree.

While a member of the UCM, I never understood why there were so many divisions in the church when twenty year olds were able to co-exist in a time in our life when we are overly-opinionated and think we are right about everything. I was living in the wonderland of 1 Cor. 3. There were so many disagreements, so many debates, and sometimes so much arguing. I spent way too much time on the futons in the hallway going back and forth with people. We all deviated! The difference was there was no standard to which deviation was measured (save for the Nicene Creed maybe). If we all deviated, nobody deviated. The same people who disagreed were also the same people who worshipped together. I have been accused of stirring up trouble at the BSU by being too vocal when something comes up that I disagree with. It didn’t take long for me to choose my battles. People get this ugly look on their face that indicates they are automatically on the defensive. A ubiquitous hostility joined the room. Yes, I will admit without hesitation that I enjoy stirring up debate. I have a streak of one-upsmanship. In this past it has been more frequently meant with similar personalities. It is then taken to the arena with no casualties and hardly ever any anger or grudges. This is what I like because it allows for open an honest dialogue when it is truly needed. This atmosphere facilitates a LOT of sharp swords.

But there is the other side; the side I am often associated with so it is important to remember that I am even criticizing myself a little. So, the progressive Christians, the liberals. These are the people that have a false-uniqueness complex. They go to the BSU guns-a-blazin. They are just as loud. Because they are in the minority of the belief spectrum, they have to make themselves heard. They don’t believe much of anything, and they have an even harder time defending their whatever beliefs. Christian deism was something that really caught my attention last semester with a particular friend. Deism is the idea that God set forth laws that govern how the universe work. After everything is put into place, God took a step back and let the universe work. This is the clockmaker deity, the god that has no interaction with humanity. The problem with this belief is that it is the ultimate antimony with regards to Christianity. Under Christianity, God did the ultimate act of interacting with His creation—He became like man, interacted with man, lived as man with, and ultimately died as man on a cross. There is no biblical defense of this belief, and there isn’t even a logical one. The progressive Christians think they are more intelligent the everyday conservative Christian due to his or her ability to think outside of the box. This just isn’t the case; they create the same sized box, only paint it a different color and call it a different name. They are sure to point out that they are martyred at every turn to make sure their pain is heard. They are also politically liberal, which I don’t have a problem with. What I do have a problem with is the hypocrisy of declaring themselves a bleeding heart for humanity, wanting such programs as universal healthcare or more programs to help the poor, and then backhanding the poor with their actions. You’ll hear them talk about the crises in the Darfur region or discuss the homeless, destitute, and derelict as if they have a true connection with them. Their words are so empty and even dead compared to their actions. They are with the poor in spirit but not with their wallets or activism. They would wear a “Save Darfur” t-shirt but do nothing about it. They just want to have a cause to champion—they want to be knight in shiny armor without a sword.  This has created a bitter taste of antipathy in my mouth.

The people I have had the most spiritual respect for at the BSU don’t go on supposed moral crusades to expose the devil whispering ideas into the dissidents’ heads. They have very strong moral convictions, and live by them. Preaching morality holds a flickering flame of light compared to believing what you believe so strongly that you actually live by it enough to let it change you. Sure I have disagreements with these people (oh the pattern of me and disagreement!) but I have learned a lot. I love these kinds of disagreements. These people force me study study study God’s word. They are quick to discuss with me, and they are just as quick to say, “I don’t know” or “you might be right”. Wow, that is courage and boldness. These are the people I would expect to see in a setting like the one Paul found himself in in Acts 17:16-34. It’s so easy to preach to the choir; I never did like choir very much, and these people don’t either. They like to hang out with the choir and learn from the choir but they would rather do much more.

And so I come to my title—The Purgatorio. This is a reference to Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. The Purgatory I am talking about is the waiting place, the holding cell that has been my experience with the BSU. It has attempted to purge me from my humanity, to keep me from all things it sees as worldly. It has distorted my view of what life is really like. The BSU is to the Perfect Blend as the world is to Starbucks.  I have not seen a lot of life at the BSU. I see archetypes and stereotypes. I even see Christ sometimes. I am a cynical Christian, but I am still a Christian. It is a struggle I recognize. Conspicuous struggles are not looked highly on. Having private struggles are okay because you can still maintain your perfection. It slips out more than I want, but I try not to let my cynicism ruin other peoples’ days. I am also honest to my convictions. This honesty mixed with cynicism creates writings like this one. I am uncomfortable at the BSU. I am very conspicuous with certain parts of my life, namely my sinfulness. I only know how perfect everybody else is, and I guess the only thing people know from me is my sinfulness.  Here is an unfortunate misrepresentation of my cynicism. I think it is hypocritical for people to condemn gay marriage (not for the sake of gay marriage alone) on the grounds that it is sexual immorality. I say this because the same people who condemn gay marriage are the same people who have very little problem with divorce. What does Jesus say about divorce?   Matthew (the 5 kind) 31″It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Adultery is a big deal. Lusting in your heart is a big deal (earlier in Matt 5), but apparently people don’t see it as a huge problem that evangelical Christians are on-part, or even higher, with the national average of divorce. I have a hard time believing the divorces were legitimate on the grounds of adultery or sexual immorality. People heard me saying this and automatically associated me with being pro-gay marriage. I am not, but I also have a very high view of marriage. Most people who are anti-gay marriage see divorce on the same level as they see over-eating or cheating on your taxes it seems. “Yeah, it’s kind of bad, but…” And this was my critical cynicism.

Romans (the 7 kind)
13Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

You gave your body to the lonely
They took your clothes
You gave up a wife and a family
You gave your goals
To be alone with me
You went up on a tree

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Jerk baggery

January 18, 2008 at 1:06 am (Day to Day)

Carissa and I went through a very unexpected bump in our friendship the past few days. Over the break, I knew that there was probably going to at least a small conversation over what has been bothering me. The overly-clingy tendencies that I just couldn’t get away from really took their toll over the course of last semester. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal to get away from had she not been one of the sweetest girls I could ever encounter. Being friends with her has never been hard; I never had to go out of my way to impress her and there was never any sense of a power struggle. The problem is that I always feel like I am looking over my shoulder to see if she is there. Not even Facebook is safe from the long reach of Carissa’s clingy arm. If she was online, it would take no less than one minute to get a message that was something to the effect of “ROB@@@!!!!!OMGOMGOMGOMGLOLLORSKATESROFLMAO” Despite being exaggerated, that’s what it felt like at times. Text messages were equally as scary. There’s no running away from technology, especially when you’re addicted to it.

I was in a very grumpy mood on Tuesday, partially due to lack of sleep, partially due to the discontent that was building up even over the break. I was being incredibly rude to most everybody but Carissa in particular. I tried to simply avoid her because being a jerk to her wasn’t something I wanted to do; it was something that just happened when I was around her. After I was done with class, I went to go see her in the communication department to apologize to her for being so irritable. It started off with simple small talk, and before I could even apologize, she expressed her own discontent about not really knowing me as well as others did. She probably expected me to be shocked that she would even mention such a thing and quickly apologize and try to reconcile things. Without flinching, I nodded my head in an almost unashamed agreement. So what did I do? I drew her a diagram of our friendship. It consisted of a picture of two slightly overlapping circles, one representing Carissa, one representing me. The overlapping part was to illustrate the point that due to our vast differences, only a small portion of who we are is able to overlap with one another and form a friendship. I was not doing this to be rude, but it was more poignant than it should have been. She got upset and immediately questioned every facet of our friendship, wondering if the entire thing had been a lie. I told her she was overreacting and needed to settle down and not overcomplicate things. We went back to the BSU and went to our separate corners. I tried to forget about it by talking to Caleb and having some laughs. This didn’t really work; Carissa sat by herself and had a very unhappy look on her face. It wasn’t even an I-am-really-mad-at-you-you-jerk looks. She looked really hurt. She got up and stormed off to take a walk. Instead of following her and trying to talk to her, I let her go and left for work. Jenna let me know how upset I made Carissa before I left.

Though texting, we set up a time before class on Wednesday to talk. Work was a nightmare, and I didn’t get out of there until two in the morning (scheduled to get out by 12:30). I tried to plan out what I was going to say and tried to predict every possible way the conversation could go. This is never useful for me, and I only do it to try and comfort myself. Nine o’clock came very early, and despite having an entire day to plan out what I would say, I really didn’t know what to say. We walked to the UC and took a seat. I wasted very little time with what to say. I told her that the differences we have were intriguing when we first started getting to know each other but started becoming problematic once time moved on. An example I used was politics. As politically up-to-date as I am, I don’t really care that much about the political process. My view of politics is a very cynical one. You never really hear me telling anybody my political stances as much as you hear what or who I don’t like. I told her that she seemed not only in different opinion or even frustrated, but actually disapproving of the fact that I don’t choose a person’s electability based on his or her stance on abortion but will take other things into consideration. Instead of simply being able to disagree with me, she was disapproving. This is when she started crying. I could never believer her tears were tears of manipulation, and this made me really sad. But I went on. I told her if something as innocuous as politics got in the way, how could she expect me to be comfortable telling her more important things about me? Insult me on my political leaning, and the only thing I’ll do is argue nearly unemotionally and without much genuine passion, but politics are unimportant. I then used alcohol as an example. Stephanie told her that she and I would sometimes go get drinks together over the summer. She was absolutely devastated when she found this out. .I remember seeing her face; instead of really showing a shocked face, it was almost in a state of disbelief. This was back in October, not long into our friendship. I fessed up to it back then and told her most of my boozing stories. I hadn’t boozed it up since the very beginning of that semester (not for anybody’s approval, but for my own convictions). Despite telling me she didn’t think it was sinful, she was very upset about it. She got over it, but I brought it back up as another excuse of just how different we were, and how it always felt I was on moral observation to her. Her crying got harder. She told me she was disappointed for very specific reasons (I immediately knew why, and she would explain it not long afterwards). I talked about how nothing changed about our friendship other than how she perceived the past few months. Maybe that does change everything. I told her how trying to please and impress somebody whose sins are not nearly as conspicuous was not something I wanted to do; it would be exhausting and do nothing but lead to resentment. We both came out of the closet for past feelings we had for each other.  This led to some much need happy talk.

Considering the direction of the conversation, it would be expected that we breakup, friends. This didn’t happen; in fact, the exact opposite happened. I apologized to her for being a jerk and not being honest with her about certain things. I want to be close friends with Carissa (apparently we were very close friends in her eyes). Things would be easier if she was a guy—or maybe they would be more difficult. One of the reasons I stayed distant from her was that I didn’t want to be a bad influence on her. Yes, I do admit that nobody likes feeling constantly judged, so it‘s not some heroic attempt just to look after her best interests, but I have done a good job of being in good control of my own emotions as of late. I got Delilah’s (the bible hussy) my sophomore year and could think of nothing worse than doing it to somebody else. With that in mind, it’s not very right for me to keep only the company that I am way too comfortable around when it comes to morality. Having somebody like Carissa has been such a good thing.

She did a very wonderful thing by spending the rest of the day telling me all sorts of morally wrong secrets. I reciprocated with just as much. In sociology, this is the “intimacy” I described in an earlier post.

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Honor who?

January 16, 2008 at 9:48 pm (Day to Day)

I’m at the coffee shop listening to the best conversation between a mother-daughter duo. This girl of roughly sixteen or seventeen years is sitting innocuously at a couch, reading her 40 Days of Purpose and sipping on her 12 oz. Cowboy (the drink). I take it there was some miscommunication on who was to be where at what time. Her mom thought she was taking her home, but the teenage drama queen insists on staying. It didn’t too long for the conversation to turn into “why don’t you just leave me the fuck alone?” “I fucking hate you!” That’s purpose right there—at least three or four days of the stuff. I went through the same fits of rage when my parents tried to pry me away from Rick Warren. She went back to reading her book, loving God all the day long (all the day long).

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Quand Vous Mourez Nos Amours

January 10, 2008 at 11:29 pm (Day to Day)

I’m really encouraged by the first day of the new semester. Granted, I haven’t been to my Tuesday-Thursday classes. I want this semester to be really good get everything I can out of my classes. Dr. Bentel’s social psychology class is probably going to be my favourite. He got his master’s degree in social psychology so he’s very confident in his abilities. Nate is going to be in the class with me (he just enrolled in it today), making it an almost repeat group of friends from last semester when we took sociology of religion. Every Bentel class I have taken has been class discussion and quiz classes. This class is going to be different; it is going to be a take-notes-take-tests class. I am also taking his physical anthropology class. This isn’t a class I am particularly interested in, but I needed hours in some sociology class. As opposed to cultural anthropology (an Alford class) that deals more on culture and society, this class is going to deal very heavily with human evolution, both physically and mentally. I hate that this is such a touchy subject in a setting of what is supposed to be about ideas. I learned about Max Weber’s ideas on bureaucracy last semester and disagreed on a few of his points. I didn’t enroll in that class (sociological theory) just so I could argue with Alford on the merit of Weber’s ideas though. And even when student’s point out some inconsistencies with certain theories and theorists (B.F. Skinners repugnance with sociology yet being a staunch behaviorist, for example) we really didn’t care whether or not we were right. A few people in physical anthropology really seem to be in the class just so they can try to prove Dr. Bentel and the theory of evolution wrong. Now granted, questions like “If evolution is true, why do monkey’s still exist?” are barn-burning brain-teasers, but Bentel was somehow able to answer it. I sold my soul to Darwin at that point. Bentel has taught the class a few times and assured me that it doesn’t take long to get out of the arguing grove and into the learning.

Alright, now I have been to my Tuesday-Thursday classes. I saved this last night when things got busy.

D.J. and I did my Mike Huckabee video. It is not over-the-top hilarious, but it was still fun to make. It was an excuse to wear a suit and part my hair. Peoples’ reactions have ranged from “Oh, Rob…” to “good point” to “Rob, that’s sacrilege”.

After we got done filming it, we went up stairs to watch a true American classic, Pootie Tang. It is to movies as Aaron Carter is to music (which I listened to earlier). It’s fun because it’s so bad. It isn’t a movie to watch by yourself; in fact, depending on the group, it could still be no fun to watch. The opening “action” scene is one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever seen, with Pootie Tang dancing his way to the crime scene. A new couple joined in our reindeer games. D.J. and I were on opposite ends of the couch, as a buffer zone I suppose, when Sabrina and Brandon invited themselves in between us. One would have worked, but it got tight fast. This alone irritated me since there were equally uncomfortable chairs right next to the couch. They decided that stealing every atom of space wasn’t enough but decided D.J. and I wouldn’t mind if they started making out. I got up and sat on mentioned chairs. PDA doesn’t really bother me in small doses. A kiss hello or goodbye is kind of like, “Oooh, that’s so sweet!” But PDMAKINGOUTANDPRACTICALLYDRYHUMPING to say hello AND goodbye AND everything in the between makes people think, “do I really look that disgusting when I kiss somebody?” They left about twenty minutes into the movie, probably to go dry hump without the dry. Emily came along about halfway through the movie, and D.J. hyped the movie up enough to make her want to watch the full thing. So we restarted it. If this was any other movie than Pootie Tang, I would have resisted and protested the restarting of a movie, but I wanted to see that opening scene again. I still had my suit and tie on, and when Emily took notice she whispered to D.J. she has a bit of a PDsuitfetish (I‘ve always had my suspicions). This made the rest of the night full of underhanded, over-handed, side-handed, and even back-handed comments that were almost (read: were) flirtatious. I’m much more careful when it comes to girls these days, but it did make me remember how much in my prime I was last year at this time: the napkin girl, the experiment, the going from girl to girl with reckless abandonment and little concern for their emotions. Those were the days of Elijah (and booze and callowness). What I lacked in sobriety I made up for in pure charisma.

I only have two Tuesday-Thursday classes: social problems and methods and techniques of social research, 9:30-10:45 and 2:00-3:15 respectively. Social problems is a general education class that’s also a requirement for sociology majors. It should be an easy class. When in doubt of the cause of any social problem, it is the role of the sociologist to say, “In my professional opinion (I saw a Michael Moore movie once) that society is to blame for the…problems…of…soci…I don’t know, wikipedia it.” Research methods is not going to be a class I will look forward to. The time is inconvenient, and when it actually comes to applying what I know or have learned, I struggle at times. My human sexuality experiment last year would have never happened if I didn’t have a partner (not what you think) who was organized and made sure I stayed on top of things (not what you think). I want to do something like that this semester, but nothing really comes to mind.

After about a month of very healthy eating, I ate seven pieces of pizza today and about a dozen cookies. My bowels feel like they have been motor oiled. I weighed this morning at 173.5, so I’m not really ashamed of today’s binge eating. I just don’t want to get in the habit of saying to myself, “well, every once in a while is okay.” every Tuesday and Thursday at noon. It was easy to eat healthy over the break because there really weren’t that many temptations other than D.J. going to Taco Bell for fourth meal (at two in the afternoon). I didn’t really care that much variety, making it so easy to eat on about $12/week. It was nothing but high fiber oatmeal, high fiber bread, high fiber/protein pasta, high fiber cereal, high fiber snack bars that actually tasted really good, and regularly-fibered (none) skim milk. It will only be harder now that school has started because eating unhealthy will seem more convenient. Other than for Tuesday/Thursday lunches, that’s not even really. The hardest thing about this past month was boiling water and waiting ten minutes.

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Very typical of a Friday in January

January 4, 2008 at 10:30 pm (Day to Day)

I have an idea to tangibly bring some of my memories from now until graduation with me to graduate school (wherever it may be). I am going to try and fashion of wallpaper of sorts from pictures taken on disposable cameras. Disposable cameras are $4.88 at the Wal-Mart checkout lane so it won’t be too expensive unless I get really picture happy. I have an idea of how I want it too look so hopefully it will turn out well. This might just be an impulsive idea that’s better to think about than actually do. Putting it together once all the pictures are developed is something I haven’t really put too much thought into yet. Anyways, taking the boring with me wherever I go. I’m not very creative at artistic endeavors like this so it may not work out well at all.

I’m on a high fiber diet lately. All poo jokes aside, there are a lot of benefits from it. Fibrous carbs are good for running, since they typically are complex and break down and convert to sugar a lot slower. This, as opposed to simple carbs that are rush and crash. It has also done a lot of suppress my appetite. I have gone from 170 to as high as 185lbs over the semester due to a crappy diet consisting of Taco Bell at one in the morning and lack of adamancy in my exercise.  Foods that are high in fiber tend to be very filling and generally healthy. It hasn’t been hard for my body to adjust to since I’m not ever really hungry. Save for some junk food cravings every now and then, it’s been an easy diet change. I’m also training for the OKC Memorial. I may not actually compete in it this year, but having something to strive for keeps me motivated to stay in shape. I don’t weight myself very often, but the last time I weighed, I was down to 178lbs. My diet was pretty on target last year during training, getting me down to 165lbs. I’m not as concerned about my weight as I am about my health, which was the best benefit from marathon training last year. My cholesterol was 96, blood pressure 111/68, and heart rate around 50bpm. So weight aside, I would like to be around the same health.

I am getting pretty excited for the semester to start. My class schedule is pretty “meh”, but it’ll be nice to be busy again with something that isn’t just work. Laptops have become more commonplace in the classroom, and I’m going to take advantage of that. I have horrible handwriting, and call me lazy, but it’s a lot easier to type out notes than it is to write them, making more incentive to go to class. Not all of my classes are take-notes-take-test classes—social stats for example—so it will not be completely applicable.

We lost one of our stronger fulltime employees at work this past week, making it a lot harder for the rest of us. One of the cooks has had a pretty dramatic past few months and has hit the bottle pretty hard at times. New Years Eve was such an occasion. He called Joe at around Midnight and sounded like such a stereotype over the phone, saying “I love you…” and so on. He was scheduled to work at 4:30 the next day and called in sick (hung over) a few hours beforehand. One of the problems with a small business is that every person is pretty important to making sure the system runs smoothly. If a checker doesn’t show up at a larger business, things can still run pretty well; if a cook doesn’t show up at the Donut Shop, things don’t get done. Joe is more than willing to work with an employee if it’s within his power. He tried to get somebody to cover for him, but it just wasn’t working out and had to come to work. He just didn’t show up, and Joe is very business-minded when it’s business related, not letting personal feelings get involved with a lot of his decisions. And so no more Chester. He’s had a bit of a drinking problem, but it’s never really affected his work. As terrible as it is, we’ve always seen it a bit of an endearing quality. “Oh Chester, he’s the perverted old man who likes to drink too much.” He was that guy. He’s been there for about a year and a half and there’s a change he could still keep his job. It affects me because there are more hours to be filled. It’s not a problem right now, but when school starts working thirty-five hour weeks just isn’t very desirable for me. Training doughnut people is terrible. The job has a very high turnover rate, and the quality of the products is very bad while they get the hang of it (if they stay). My schedule last semester, while slightly unpredictable, was great; work a lot of morning before class and one or two nights. It did interfere with a good night’s sleep if I didn’t schedule my time wisely, but school and social life were pretty good.

I’m going to try and make a parody video next week of Mike Huckabee’s “call from God” video found on my Facebook profile. I didn’t expect the fact that I thought the video was borderline blasphemous to upset so many people, but it’s only indicative of the company I keep. Not a bad thing, only very different ideology. I have access to a video camera and user-friendly video-editing software. It will basically feature a Mike Huckabee character getting another phone call from God that deals very personally with neoconservative politics. He dealt with the major of issues of how God called to tell him that He has family values as a high priority. He’s playing the morality card, and then talks about how God is on their side (if God took sides…). I want to take it a step further and just incorporate all of the menial and even not-so-Christian values into this video. It could be gold if done right. If I put it on Facebook, way too many friends might get offended that I’m upsetting their (and God’s) candidate. I’ll just risk it since I’m already considered a flaming liberal by a few people.

On a happy note, Caleb dropped some of his dramatics and is enrolling for the Spring. His parents are going to pay upfront, and he’ll just have to pay them back. He still has to live with them, but this is much more sane.

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A nostalgic New Years

January 1, 2008 at 1:52 am (Day to Day)

Tonight was in fun in its own right, but I was constantly reminded of New Years Eve 06.

I was living a bit precariously and definitely over-the-top by the end of the year. My lifestyle was unashamedly conspicuous. I had a few short relationships, both ending with, “Rob, you have commitment issues.” That was true and probably still is. I had a coffee with Sarah that night, one of these short-lived relationships. She had lent me a book and was wanting it back. It’s interesting that coffee shops are where things happen, from casual how-do-you-do’s to actual business. Simply going to her house to drop it off wasn’t even thought about or suggested. It would have been acceptable when we were dating, but going to somebody’s house is personal, and we were not on personal terms. Coffee shops are a comfortable medium where the option of being personal is present but not forced. Coffee dates are big because of this; nobody goes only for the coffee. Sarah and I had a very pleasant conversation, and despite looking for every opportunity to leave, it was one of the better times I had with her. I would hear from Sarah later that night…

The Carpenter’s had their annual shindig, and this would be an opportunity to proudly introduce my current mini-relationship (Hannah) to my conveniently packed group of friends. I wanted their approval of her, and I didn’t really care about her approval of them since I knew long before we even started dating that it wouldn’t last long. Part of my attitude at the time was needing to know that I was desirable. That’s what explained my serial relationships and flings with very little attachment involved. I was insecure, and this was the affirmation I needed.  Hannah was not very much fun or interactive with my friends, save for quick hello’s. I tried to do my best to talk her up to everybody beforehand, but I felt like it was disappointing and not up to expectations. I had a really good time while Hannah was watching television almost by herself and eating the food from people she didn’t know. This was actually pretty funny because she was very content with it and not lonely. I let her do her Hannah thing while it went off and did my Rob thing with my friends. There was a bit of a diaspora of my friends after high school graduation, and this was a rare chance for us to come together and talk about the good old days and the new old days. It didn’t take too long for Hannah and I to leave back to her apartment.

There were party people already at Hannah’s. Amy was her roommate at the time, and she Aaron and Lauren were having their own shindig. I remember very clearly a text message I received from Lauren earlier that day that went something like this, “I don’t plan on drinking tonight.” Lauren was already hammered by the time I got there. She was at throw-up drunkenness and was working on pass out drunkenness, something I had only seen about one dozen times before that night. I suspected Hannah of having control issues at the time, so I was very surprised that she was going to go off to a party of her own and leave me unchaperoned with friends. There could have been fun that she wasn’t apart of, and I didn’t expect her to risk that. Almost as soon as Hannah left, I got a phone call. It was just past midnight so a happy new years call from a considerate friend wasn’t unexpected. It was Sarah and like the rest of the world around me, she was drunk. Until that day, we hadn’t spoken for a few weeks and now I am the object of her drunk dialing. As American tradition dictates she greeted me with, “Rob, I’m so drunk!!” This was even more exciting to her because during our relationship she had told me that she had never been drunk, despite her best efforts of sitting at home by herself and drinking. I don’t know whether or not it makes you an alcoholic to drink all the time and not get drunk. Maybe she was lying, or maybe being at home by yourself, it’s harder to judge the inebriation since there really isn’t much interaction.  “Are you ok? Do you need a ride?” was how I answered back. “No, but you should come hang out with me!” “No thanks, I’m actually at my girlfriends.” I unintentionally forgot to tell her during coffee that Hannah and I were dating. “Fine, asshole!” *click* This was that last conversation we had. Last semester we almost crossed paths on campus, but she went really far out of her way to avoid me from five feet to ten feet. She had very amiable (to me), albeit awkward, social tendencies.  Lauren was in and out of consciousness at this point and throwing up all over Hannah and Amy’s bathroom. Amy thought it would be a good idea to give Lauren apples. I’m not so sure on roughage and alcohol. I guess the fiber of apples would help her poo better, but constipation wasn’t her problem. I was a little bit smug about my surroundings, being the only sober one. Aaron and I started watching Batman Begins while Amy Mother Goosed Lauren back to health; that is, if mother goose was on the DHS list of unfit mothers. Amy came in to complain that Aaron wasn’t helping her. Aaron told her to mind her business; her was busy flirting with me. I didn’t figure that one out. During this time, Amy had two very opposite tendency to dealing with conflict: passively or black womanly. She chose the Aunt Jemima approach  this time. And around and around it went until I decided it was time for this guy to drive home and leave this path of destruction behind.

It’s when people are drunk that they choose to be the most philosophical and deep. Lauren had a very drunken one-on-one conversation that involved Saint Francis and ended with her wanting to watch the sun rise. I was told she slept until Noon the next day. Slurring Saint Francis quotes didn’t really do it for me that night.

I am so nostalgic about last year because this is what I have given up. It was worthless, but it was still memorable because it was eventful. I will remember it as being a fun night, again, because it’s so memorable (because it was eventful). Tonight will not be remembered a year from now other than being unmemorable.

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