Thursday, August 27, 2009

Playing for Another Team

Many years ago I moved into a cute little apartment building in a charming neighborhood, just two blocks away from the Catholic Cathedral in that city. I was thrilled to start attending the Cathedral, as it is a beautiful church.

A few months later, I saw a notice for people interested in a young adult group at the Cathedral and went to it's very first meeting. There I met a guy who instantly became a friend. I remember that upon that first meeting I thought he was kind of cute, but wondered if he was gay.

We started spending time together within a week. First a bike ride. Maybe a movie. But never dating.

He lived just blocks from me and the Cathedral, in the cutest little Craftsman style house. It was easy for us to get together, and we enjoyed many of the same things.

He had a love for architecture that drew out the same in me. By associating with him, I finally started to understand why I loved what I loved about buildings and houses. I learned the names of certain features and styles.

We both loved everything from the same era. I'd found someone to troll antique stores with.

When my friends met him, they'd ask if he was gay. Because I knew about his interests and attractions - which indicated he was straight - I would say so.

I moved away... and in our communication he shared sometimes that people asked him if he was gay and how frustrated he was by that.

My gay friends met him and declared him, "In the Closet"!

Hearing his frustrations with dating I often thought how much easier it would be for him if he were gay. I've known him for 12 years now and have never known him to date anybody. I've only heard about his frustrations in his pursuit of women.

A few days ago, I noticed his Faceb00k status had changed to 'in a relationship'.
What is this? I asked. Who is this? What is new?

He responded that he had changed teams a year ago and was now dating a really great guy.

I am so relieved and happy for him!

Another friend asked how I reconcile that with my Catholic faith. I know that the Church views Homosexuality as a sin. But I'm not thinking about bedroom activity. I am focused on my friend having a successful, loving relationship that makes him happy. That's what we all want.
I focus more on the Christian duty of loving my neighbor. Of loving my friend and being a friend. God has not put me here to judge. Our Lord will take care of that at the pearly gates. And I feel pretty strongly that since God made my friend, God will understand.
And I'm more concerned about God's view of how I treat those I come to know and care about. I doubt that scorning my friend will win favor with God.

And quite frankly, I'm much happier for my friend finding someone who loves and accepts him- than if he had entered into a marriage denying his authentic self - and deceiving a woman who likely signed up for a heterosexual marriage and all that entails.

How do you reconcile your faith with loving and accepting your friends?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Careful What You Ask For

I'm not liking most of the stuff that age is doing to my body. Primarily, the poochy tummy that is distorting my other-wise slender figure. Sometimes I think I must look like a snake that swallowed a badger!

Now, if I could just commit to doing abdominal exercises and laying off the carbs - I could probably whittle it away in no time. But I know that I lack the discipline to do so.

A few weeks ago, I began praying that God would give me the discipline I need. That I could dedicate myself to some crunches... and that I could resist the bread and sugary snacks that I love.

I told Mr. Burns that I asked God to help me resist carbs and Mr. Burns said, "Careful what you pray for!"

As for bread - I just don't buy any. If it doesn't come in my house I won't eat it. Instead I buy English Muffins to use as buns for my soy burgers, portabello burgers and even my breakfast sausage. For some reason, I won't scarf down English Muffins plain like I do those slices of wheat bread!

But sugar! Oh mercy do I love me some candy!

On Monday nights I cover City Council meetings which can last anywhere from 2 hours to 12! The longest I've covered was just over 4 hours.
I am a nibbler, so before the meeting starts I scout out the candy machines in the hallway and drop a few quarters for a handful or two of Hot Tamales and some Pistachios. I figure the Pistachios are healthy.

The candy machines only take quarters. On days that I only had nickels and dimes in my wallet I figured out that if I drop them in the soda machine - and hit the change return - the machine would exchange them for quarters. Success! And a Hot Tamales fix.

So this week, I had just emptied my coin purse without thinking before I went to work. Drat! No change at all.

I smugly pulled a dollar bill from my wallet, fed it to the soda machine and then heard the plink plunk in the change return. 20 nickels!!

I raised my face heavenward and said, "Very funny Lord. Way to keep me from the candy!"

Monday, August 17, 2009

On the Edge - Not Over

(sorry friends, I'm having trouble loading the pictures I want to this post - I'll try again tomorrow)
(no luck. is anyone else having trouble placing pictures in their post?)

I managed to visit two of our country's National Parks this past weekend. Arches and Canyonlands near Moab, Utah. I loved it. So completely beautiful and awe inspiring.

I don't know for sure who Wallace Stegner is but I agree with his sentiment;

"National Parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely
democratic, they reflect us as our best rather than our worst."
It is amazing what you can learn when you are completely immersed in nature. Sure, when it comes to how those glorious arches were formed you learn about geology, erosion, the effects of time.

It was our venture to see Canyonlands that I learned something about someone who loves me.

Mr. Burns, his sister and I went for the weekend. She was visiting from their home state. Once we were in Canyonlands and we all got out of the car to take in a view of the jagged cliffs and rocks jutting out from miles below - she couldn't avoid her fear of heights. She explained a tingly, eebie jeebies feeling that runs down the back of her legs.

I just cannot relate to a fear of heights. I've heard people talk about the feeling of vertigo when encountering heights or in this case, depths below them. But seeing as I am a person who LOVES heights, I can't really understand. Actually, to me - it seems like an irrational fear. As long as you have good footing - how is it scary?

As comedian Steven Wright used to say; "I'm not afraid of heights. I'm afraid of widths."

Much more logical to me.

I learned that Mr. Burns shares this fear with his sister. He is fine as long as there is something to support him... like a railing, or a safety cage, or a secure rope. Something firmly placed between him and splat.

I - on the other hand - am so unafraid of heights that it can be dangerous. I once had the privilege of standing atop the presidential heads of Mount Rushmore. I kept wandering to the front of one face with my camera and at one point the park ranger tied a rope around my waist! I thought he was teasing, being overly dramatic.

It wasn't until we were working our way back down the rear of the carving, and someone pointed out where I had been standing... (below Abe's hairline) that I realized why the park ranger was concerned.

I do have a pretty good grip on my limitations. And realistically, if it had been that dangerous, the ranger would have foregone the rope and just told me to get my butt back where it belongs! (it's not like they can risk loss of life on their watch! He's not going to risk his job for my whim.)

Not only am I unafraid of heights, I'm attracted to them. I love to be on the edge and I'm a bit of a mountain goat.

When I was kid, I climbed the grain bins on our farm. Any time there was a ladder propped against anything - any building - I was at the top of it.

So when viewing the canyons from the fence along the viewing platform didn't really do it for me - I wandered over to an open vista.

The dramatic view was irresistible so I set my camera on my backpack, used the self-timer and snapped this shot.

When I turned back, I found Mr. Burns standing a few yards behind, on the sidewalk with his arms crossed and a stern look on his face.

I smiled and said, "See. I'm alive. I didn't fall."

He was not amused.
I reminded him that I'm not afraid. It's no big deal.
He told me that whether I am afraid or not, the danger is real.
I disagreed. I know the limits.

He explained that if I fell, and found myself hanging onto that proverbial daisy, like in cartoons - he would not be able to go after me, and then he would look like a jerk!

But it was when he said that now he knew what it must feel like to see your child get hurt or in a place of danger - that I realized he really does love me.

There he was, torn between his fear of danger and his desire to keep me safe.

It's good to know.

I don't like putting him in that position. But I don't see how I can stay away from the edge. It's one of the few thrills in my life. He'll just have to look away.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bloggy Friends!

I'm so honored that the funny, talented and creative Katie asked me to be a part of Blogger to Blogger this week. It's Katie's feature in which we interview each other.
Don't you love the outfit see made for me?
Go here to see our 'interview'.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Miles Away But Within Arms' Reach

I feel like I'm losing touch with some of my old friends.

You see. I have two kinds of friends. Some who, like me, have moved and moved and moved - if not all over the country - then from city to city. These are the friends who keep in touch the best because we all know the importance of maintaining old friendships. Yes, we can make new friends in our new cities, but there is nothing like an old friend who loves you over the miles.

The others are friends who have lived in one city their whole lives. I'm the one who moved away so the onus is on me to maintain contact. Otherwise - out of sight-out of mind.

Within the stay-put friends, there is another category of those who have married and had children. This single girl in the city just isn't on their radar anymore. It hurts.

I've been thinking about all these weddings I have attended - and I can't recall the part of the vows that says "I vow to forget about all our single friends. Only you and I exist now."
I promise you I have never heard that part in a marriage ceremony, yet it seems to be true for all. Maybe only the married people can hear it!

A few months ago - one of those married with children friends insisted that I join F&ceb00k. It's such a great way to stay in touch she said.
It was... for a while. Now she hardly even updates her status. She never comments on mine. But most serious, she doesn't call or email me anymore - nor does she respond to my calls and emails.

The Internet creates an illusion that we are so very connected to all of our friends. But it's actually a disservice. It is just an illusion. Now that we have daily peeks into our friends worlds - we don't bother to make the phone call. Or plan for a visit.

It's been bothering me a lot lately - so I said just that on my F&ceb00k status today.

The first response back was from a former co-worker, now 700 miles away from me who lost his 6-month-old son last week. They woke up one morning and found him dead in his crib. The funeral was today.

He read what I had to say... and here is his response...
You are wrong. I am so grateful to have this network. I have reconnected with many friends I had completely lost contact with, and it has helped me through this tragic time in my life. I was holed up in my room...unable to talk or see anyone. Yet I could read my friends comments and feel loved and take comfort in it.
I think both perspectives are true.

If not for the Internet, I would not even know how much this old friend is hurting and I would not have even known to send a card of condolence. But through this faceless technology, I have been able to offer tiny, meager words of support - and they mean more to him than I can possibly know.

A blessing and a curse; this technology. We should all use it wisely. Support our friends in simple ways but never forget that hearing their voice or lending a shoulder is worth more than every communication in your tw!tter account combined.

People are flesh and blood and feelings. 1100011000010000111100001010 's can never replace that.