Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reformation - standing there looking up

Here we are on New Years Eve. I guess now is when I'm supposed to reminisce on the past year. In this case on 2013. So here goes: 2013 was a lot of fun, but it also pretty nearly destroyed me.

In fact it may actually have destroyed me. Maybe devastated is a better word. Devastated in the sense that quite a number of things I always feared would completely break me if they ever happened did happen. And I did break. At least a couple times and in more than one place. I don't know if I'm comfortable saying that I hit the bottom, but I did hit a bottom in my own life. A lot of things I thought were fundamental parts of who I am turned out to be completely useless. When I realized that, I landed in a place where a number of  other things I'd relied on for strength through realizations like that over the past few years of my as-of-yet pretty brief adult and teenage life couldn't help me at all.

This isn't a completely sad story though (if you can even call the entirely vague and unhelpful generalities I've been speaking in for the last paragraph a story), because while I'd often quite anxiously imagined what it would be like hit that level, I never really imagined what it would be like to stand there looking up.

It turns out, having no option but to completely rebuild yourself almost from scratch is an opportunity. I'd be lying if I said I came to that conclusion all at once, or that I haven't doubted it numerous times over the last few months, but it is true, and it is happening. It's an opportunity to rebuild a version of myself that's strong in the places I was weak before. That's been the last couple months for me, but standing here on the outer rim of this year, I can't help but feel like it's more than that.

I'm changing––or rather being changed––into something in many ways altogether different. Maybe re-tasked is almost more what it feels like. Or reformed, if you'll excuse my using such a loaded word. So many doors getting so resoundingly shut and so many dreams that had been fading for a long time finally completely disappearing this year finally forced me to look at a couple possibilities I'd never even considered as possibilities since I was a little kid. Simply because at some point they started to terrify me. While they still do terrify me though, they've also started to do something I didn't expect: Excite me. In a way I haven't felt in a long time.

So it's not over. In fact it's hardly even begun, and it's kind of unnerving to think how much more I'll probably have to change before it has. I don't know exactly what God has for me in the immediate future, and I may be giving up a lot of things and gaining others before it's through.

It's happening though. I believe something's happening, and for that I'm grateful.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Reality of Christmas

It's once again been a long time since I wrote anything. At least on this blog. Unlike my previous excuse, the reason hasn't really been that nothing is happening. The truth is I've had a lot on my mind the past couple months. I'm currently going through several situations––any one of which would normally consume most of my emotional and mental energy––at the same time. But since none of them are really of the nature that I feel comfortable broadcasting on the interwebs, and at the same time are in some way touching almost all of my actions and decisions right now, I've simply ended up saying nothing at all. Or maybe I'm just slowly losing my ability to compartmentalize.

At any rate, it's been a different Christmas season this year. Not a bad one––everything has really been there that I normally think of making a "good" Christmas. I've just had a harder time internally engaging. A lot on my mind, like I said, and it seems like it's hard to grasp at something as ethereal as the emotion or "spirit" surrounding a holiday unless your mind is pretty nearly free.

Maybe feeling that way about Christmas is a little bit of a fallacy though. After all, it's about some people who probably had "a lot on their minds"––if you believe in all that, which I do. I mean, the "Christmas story" is really about people who were going through some pretty serious shit.

Getting pregnant out of wedlock/you're fiancĂ©e getting pregnant of out wedlock (not by you) in a society that wasn't cool with that at all, having to go on a long journey to pay taxes full of complete logistical breakdowns like not having anywhere to stay and giving birth in a stable. Not to even mention getting visited at night by angels with apocalyptic messages, being the target of a minor pogrom, and having to flee to Egypt (a conflict journalist I follow recently wrote something about being evacuated from Syria to Lebanon: "When you're being evacuated to Lebanon, you know you're f––––d." I don't know much about the geopolitical situation in 2 AD, but as a Jew, I wonder if Joseph was like, "wait, we're fleeing to Egypt?"). Basically, a lot of hardship, angst and uncertainty.

Were those people in the Christmas spirit? I doubt it. The point isn't how they felt about it though. It's the reality of what they were a part of, and the fact that based on their faith in that reality they had the determination to keep going and do what they had to to see it through.

So maybe that's more what this Christmas needs to be about for me. I mean, I'm all about evergreen boughs and mistletoe and brandywyne and snow and reindeer and fires other things of questionable religio-historical origin that scratch some primal itch in my foggy northern European cultural memory.  And I'm all about the traditional warm-fuzzy feel good church view of the candle-lit manger scene and baby Jesus smiling at Mary and Joseph.

But maybe it can also be about people who have a lot on their mind. 


Thursday, December 05, 2013

i work out

It's been a ridiculous amount of time since I posted anything. The reason for that is simple: I have not done anything worth wasting your time reading about. For certain, I've tried to do lots of things that, had they worked out, would have been interesting; but none of them have. I tried to kill a deer but I missed. I tried to double my affiliate traffic from YouTube for the holidays, but instead YouTube arbitrarily cut it in half. I tried to join the navy, but they won't answer my messages.

Thus, my days for the past month have been made up primarily of washing other people's dishes for slave wages, writing reports about what the gas industry isn't doing around here, coming home by myself late at night and watching documentaries about far away places––while lying on the couch, and delicious food––while drinking protein shakes. There's a tempting analogy there, but I won't make it.

So I've been somewhat frustrated. Not that it's all anyone's fault but my own really. Frustrated all the same, though, and without much outlet. It's far too cold to run anymore, I'm all alone, and I almost entirely gave up drinking three months ago.

So instead I started weight training.

Countless bench presses, pull-ups, overhead presses, dips and curls to which I've been slowly adding things I'd never heard of before like "weighted V-ups," "skull crushers" and "incline dumbbell flyes." 10 reps per set, 50 seconds between sets for 40 minutes a day, two months and counting.

The only thing about weight training though––and the reason I haven't done this in the past––is I'm never sure if it really does anything for me. It's certainly not the kind of exercise my body is naturally optimized for. Narrow shoulders, small torso and long narrow appendages all spell negative leverage/injuries. What's more, I don't gain weight, which kind of makes it difficult to measure progress.

At least it's impressive to talk about though. Up till now I haven't at all really, but I'm thinking of changing that. After unintentionally hearing some LMFAO the other day, I'm considering adopting "I work out," as my generic response to any compliment I receive––whether or not it applies.

"That sweater fits you nicely, Andrew."
"Thanks, I work out."

"Thanks for filling those orders for me so quickly."
"Well, I work out."

"Thanks for your prayers the other day. It really meant a lot to me."
"Don't mention it. I work out."

"That was a very nice folk rendition of Silent Night you just played for us."
"I work out." 

"I'm so glad you introduced me to Matt and Kim. They're off the hook."
"Yeah, I work out."

"This mulled cider is delicious!"
"I work out."

I may even put it on my resumé. Or mention it in the next voice-mail I leave my recruiter.

Will have my life turned around in no time.