Archive for January, 2007

Hey, Here's an Idea

Posted by on Tuesday, 30 January, 2007

I know January is almost over and all, but maybe for a New Year’s resolution, how about not sending anymore emails when I’m in a bad mood? Especially to people who have nothing to do with why I’m upset in the first place. Done that at least four times this month already. For example, if a professor happens to move the due date for a project that I haven’t even started yet from the next week to the next day, and I don’t have nor can I possibly get the components I need in time… maybe that’s not the best time to fire off a response to the ex-girlfriend. Live and learn I suppose.

While I’m on the subject of discretion, in the past two weeks, I have learned of a couple who has recently started dating, a couple who is engaged, and a couple who is pregnant. Since I don’t have any idea who knows what, and it’s not my place to say, I have not said a word to anyone about any of these. I just want to say that if anyone has anything they would like to share with my 3 or 4 regular readers, feel free to comment.

Former (Living Room) Rockstar

Posted by on Friday, 19 January, 2007

I know, I know, what about the cliffhanger? I needed a break from these epic multi-day posts. Especially on that topic. Some of this may yet prove relevant anyway.

I wanted to go back to the musical incident mentioned here. First of all, I am quite surprised that I had time for all that to be going through my head, given my tendency to shut down when put on the spot. But then again, for all I know, it may have been ten minutes between the request and my final answer. In that time, it was even suggested that I just play the music and leave off the words. (It occurred to me today that I have actually done that once before… in South Africa of all places.) I neglected to mention in my other post that I had been about to simply ask for requests, and that if anyone in the room had managed to come up with the title of one of my songs I would try my hardest to play it. Ultimately though, I was much more concerned with what might be unleashed. [Click, click.]

[By the way: yes, that was an intentional slam on two of my former girlfriends. Why didn’t you ever ask me to play? But even as I ask the question, I know the answer. They had heard me play, and let’s face it, when it comes to music, my ego far outweighs my talent. Even so, if you should happen to date a musician in the future, especially one with some kind of regular performance, I’m sure it would mean a lot to him (or her) if you actually went to see them play. Even if it meant changing your schedule. Just saying.]

I actually did have a few non-original songs practiced and ready for just such an occasion, but that wasn’t what was asked for now was it? Anyway, in the following days and weeks, I brought a number of my old songs back out of the closet, just in case. You know, some of the songs that aren’t in the key of Em. (I’m good at preparing for situations that have already past, aren’t I?)

I have discovered some interesting things. One of the biggest surprises to me is “The Saddest Song.” That song had an interesting history. I believe I wrote the lyrics first, then set them to music. I quickly realized that while the lyrics were (as you might expect) sad, the music was really more angry. So I separated the two. To the angry music, I attached a phrase that had been kicking around in my head for awhile, “Wasting the best years of my life.” Due to (rather ironic) laziness, that song has actually only ever been referred to by the first word of its intended title. Never the less, it took on a life of its own, arguably becoming (if Less is More could be described as a one-hit-wonder), the one hit. For the original “Saddest Song” lyrics, I wrote some simple music to fill the void, but that song really never went anywhere. I remember one time my bass player specifically asked if that song actually existed, for I guess it appeared on my “in progress” list, but never came out in a jam session… ever. In recent days, however, I find I actually quite like it. The music is undeniably basic, the words aren’t much better (one of the verses still makes me think, “Was that the best you could come up with?”) But hey, less is more, no?

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there is one called “The Last Time”, which was the only song to emerge from my Phoenix era. Holy crap, that song is creeeepyyy. No wonder I hated Phoenix. I can’t even play it through without thinking, “Yeah… nevermind,” and stopping. I actually don’t even remember how all of it goes, and that really doesn’t bother me.

There are several other fine choices as well. I could go on and on. I can’t help it, I really like my own music. [The ego thing.] To be candid, there are a few songs that have actually been out of the closet for awhile. Some that have had a chance to be resurrected in Garageband, although most of this has been unfruitful. And my favorite of the bunch is a song called “Shades of Gray”, which was the last one I wrote before this all began, and technically never went into the closet with the others at all… I’ve secretly kept it in my active repertoire the whole time.

So maybe I’m more ready now. But remember the rules: I have to have a guitar in my hands when you ask.

Bondage (Part I)

Posted by on Wednesday, 17 January, 2007

Some time ago, I was asked point blank, “Have you ever opened yourself up to demonic influence?” All I could say was, “Probably…” How do you respond to a question like that? I’ve had a pretty interesting life. I’ve experimented with different things. I’ve been in places where things were being experimented with. If it’s actually possible to open yourself to demonic influence, I suppose I must have done it.

Sometimes it can be much easier to attribute my struggles to an external source. I do sometimes refer to my demons as if they were real entities. I have met a couple of people who claimed to have actually seen demons. I am obviously skeptical of this, although these have been people that I actually know and consider to be generally rational, not just some random lunatic. Overall, as I have mentioned before, this is not something that I want to be true.

I actually just have trouble openly accepting the spiritual realm at all. Some of you may have noticed that I’ve had a spot of difficulty in accepting God as well. I remember going for a walk one time, this would have been in about May or so, thinking about how I see hope and joy in other people, but I just can’t seem to get there myself. I see issues and problems in my life and in myself but still I just feel like I’m being swept along on the river of life, unwilling or unable to take any action or make any change in my course. I couldn’t understand why. I didn’t know the nature of my bonds, didn’t know what was really holding me back.

I recognized that, all in all, I was doing pretty well in life. I didn’t need to worry about food or shelter or finances or security like so much of the rest of the world, and on top of that, I was doing pretty well in school through little effort of my own. Still I felt so utterly empty inside. I have known people in my life who cut themselves. For the first time, I understood that. I knew what it felt like to have such an unbearable emotional pain that you desperately want the physical pain to match.

I never did harm myself physically, but in my frustration, I became destructive in other ways. One time, when I first told someone that my grandfather was dying, he asked me if I was angry at God for that. My somewhat confused response was, “No… should I be?” It had not even occurred to me that God had anything to do with it. He may as well have asked if I was mad at the President because of my grandfather. God was in books and in sermons and theological debates and even sometimes in my personal interactions, but my grandfather was real. This was life and death we were talking about, not theology. My friend went on to say that God must be getting ready to use me in a big way to put me through the wringer like this. I thought about that statement when I got home. I appreciated his sentiment, but I felt that it actually displayed a complete lack of understanding of what I was going through. My whole problem is that no matter how much I’ve read or heard or talked about… I understand who people say God is, but He just isn’t present, isn’t real in my life. God must be getting ready to use me… NO HE ISN’T! I punctuated this thought by hurling the glass that I happened to be holding to the kitchen floor. I stared at that for a moment thinking, “I liked that glass…” This wasn’t the first time I had broken something while thinking about this kind of thing. Eventually, I swept the broken glass into a pile, but left it there for several weeks as a reminder that this is what happens when I think about God.

The most dramatic of these moments came a few weeks later, after my grandfather had died. I was in the bathroom, refilling a spray bottle of Clean Shower from a larger jug. I can’t remember what was going through my head, but at some point I just turned and hurled the spray bottle into the shower. It caught the curtain, pulling it down, rod and all. I was surprised that it had the mass to do that. But I didn’t stop. I followed it by throwing the empty jug, then a ceramic soap dish, the glass used to hold my toothbrush and razor, and finally the glass hand-towel bar after tearing it from the wall. Fortunately my house has two bathrooms, as there were broken shards of various things all over that one.

Also during this time, one of my “favorite” things to do was to lie on the floor, unable to move. Sometimes I felt as though I was literally being held down by a very heavy weight, and could not get up even if I wanted to. Sometimes I would be lying awake at night in Pomona and I would decide to just roll out of bed, and then under it. I honestly can not think of any possible advantage of being under the bed rather than on top of it, yet I did this more than once. And sometimes when I would lie on the floor, I would literally writhe. I felt like the “reality” that my eyes were seeing and other senses perceiving wasn’t real, that it was something like The Matrix where my head was being fed lies but my real body or maybe just my spirit, was actually somewhere else, trying to move, trying to see, but that I just couldn’t break free. And I would actually convulse in my efforts to escape from this world.

As I said, I don’t want to believe in literal demons. I like to think of them metaphorically, as personifications of personal struggles. But even I had to admit that there was something serious going on here.

Part II

I Don't Sleep, I Blog

Posted by on Wednesday, 10 January, 2007

I haven’t really been able to sleep for days. I attribute this to a very strange and interesting weekend.

Friday night went long, and ended traumatically from me. I am definitely not proud of the way I behaved, but I am not impressed with the behavior of certain others either. The details aren’t important, only my reaction. It was the end of something that had been going on for a long, long time. This is about a girl of course, as most things are. I wouldn’t really say that it was the last straw, because the truth is, the last straw had already occurred and I had made my decision. It’s just that I still had lingering doubts, and was not fully prepared to enforce that decision. However, Friday night was, to switch metaphors, the last stop on a very long ride.

This is where I get off.

To allow that realization fully sink in was painful. I’ve started seeing a counselor by the way. (Oh, thank God, I hear you say. And yes we should all thank God. For many things.) However, my next appointment was not until Thursday. It was Friday night. (Well Saturday morning if you want to get technical.) THURSDAY! I can’t wait until Thursday! I need to talk to someone right NOW! Well, you know, I suppose there was someone that I could call. Accept that it was about 3:30 in the morning. Maybe I could just text message to have her call me when she wakes up… At this point I metaphorically grabbed myself by the shoulders and shook. Are you out of your MIND? Have you been paying any attention AT ALL? How about finding a male friend, you moron!

I would not have thought that I got any sleep at all that night, except that I seemed to wake up at some point. Regardless, I was actually lying down for less than three hours, and most of that was not spent sleeping.

Blogger switched to some kind of new system a little while ago. One side effect of this was that my new posts weren’t actually showing up. I had a lot of things that I wanted to write about over the holiday break, but didn’t bother, just figuring I would look into this problem later. It was “later” now. I kept reposting and resetting and just plain kicking my blog until it worked again. Because I’ve had some things I wanted to say.

Morning came, and things seemed far less bleak in the daylight. I’m sure I over-reacted. Still, I asked myself, what part of “OVER” do you not understand? I did find a friend, who gave up a significant portion of his day on my behalf, for which I am eternally grateful.

But where do I go from here? This has been my focus for so long. I’m tired of doing the wrong thing. I didn’t want to do anything without a clear sign from God.

Saturday night I did get a reasonable amount of sleep, but still woke before my alarm. Sunday I can barely believe. I went to church as usual. Leaving the service, the friend that I had been sitting with and I were accosted not once, but twice. The first was by a total stranger who seemed genuinely offended that we were about to leave without saying anything to him. But we had never met the guy. Then again in the parking lot, this time by another of the people who has been a great challenge to me. I couldn’t really understand what this person was trying to tell me. In fact, the core of the problem is that I am never sure what this person is trying to tell me. But the things that I do understand disturb me greatly. The emails even more so. This person seriously needs help, but I don’t know what I can do. I have asked a number of people for advice and they all can only tell me some variation of they think that it’s an unfortunate situation that I have found myself in. I have let things go far too long without doing anything. So today, as I was listening to this barely audible rambling, I could only think, “End it. End it now.” But even so, I repeatedly opened my mouth and no words came out. One thing that I could understand, that kept being repeated was, “You made the right decision.” What decision? I didn’t make any decision! It has been my very lack of making a decision that has compounded the problem! Every time that we “talk” I just stand there like a fool! What planet is this person on? How about just a punch in the face and then I run for it? That would probably get the point across better than anything I could say anyway. Fortunately I was not alone, and my friend eventually found away to gracefully interrupt, otherwise I think I might still be standing there.

Oh, but it only gets better. Through a quick series of increasingly unusual circumstances, I suddenly found myself in what I can only describe as what must be “someone else’s comfort zone.” What the hell was I doing here? You know, when I asked for a sign from God, I was really expecting something a little, well, subtler. Not to be yanked clear out of my own life and dropped off with a nice, “And once you find your way back home, try to pretend that this happens all the time and God had nothing to do with it.”

No sooner had I returned home and lay down to try and nap when I got a phone call with an invitation that I promptly accepted without thinking. It basically involved returning to “the scene of the crime” from Friday night. What is wrong with you? Isn’t that the LAST place you want to be right now? Why did you even answer the phone when you saw that name come up? Like I said in my last post, I will agree to almost anything when caught off guard. And let’s try to keep perspective, truly the last place I wanted to be was, as always, Cal Poly Pomona. Well, maybe I could just not show up. But you said you would go. Well, maybe I could just call and say that I had something else to do and couldn’t make it after all. But you don’t have something else to do. Alright fine! So I went. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was actually worse, but for an entirely different reason than I could have expected. So I left.

I went to my church group Sunday night. After getting there, I noticed on my phone that I had missed a call about an hour earlier from someone who happened to be in the room now. I asked him about it. “Oh, I was just calling because…” More bad news. Good thing I had already decided not to let that kind of thing bother me anymore. Then during announcements, I learned that there would be a meeting the following week, “To see if anyone is interested in continuing to meet on Sunday nights.” What again? Didn’t we go through all this last year? Then we went through our study, at some point of which I made what I thought was a trivial observation that for some reason everyone at my table thought was brilliant and wanted me to share with the room. When I declined, not wanting to take credit for something that I felt was fairly irrelevant to the study, some one else announced it and made a point to include, “That was all Tim!” at the end. Yeah, thanks for that.

Can I go home now? Not yet, I still had one more conversation, at the beginning of which I could only think, “Oh jeeze. You? I had forgotten that you even existed through all of this. Please don’t tell me that you’re expecting something too?” But it was nothing like that. I guess sometimes people can have conversations without any drama.

Often times people do something after the meetings but I was DONE. Besides, I had some place to be at 6:00 am. So I went home… and couldn’t sleep. I blogged. I eventually went to bed around 1:00, but still managed to get up several minutes before my alarm. I thought I could come back home when I was finished and get a couple more hours of sleep, but tired as I was, it didn’t happen.

Of course, there was also that annoying revelation, “I still have to go to school?! How is THAT important right now?” Monday happened to be the last day to drop classes without it going on your record, and I rather considered dropping my last class of the day merely so that I could go home early. But I didn’t, and when I did get home… I still couldn’t sleep

So, interesting times, but even in the days that follow the question remains: Why Can’t I Just Sleep?

*For the record this post was composed over the course of several late nights.

Well, That Sucks

Posted by on Monday, 8 January, 2007

For some reason, I was thinking earlier today that my biggest flaw is that I am utterly incapable of thinking on my feet. I will agree to just about anything if caught sufficiently off-guard. This has been especially problematic in financial matters. (It costs HOW much? Gee… I guess I’ll just pay that then…) Another aspect that I realized today is that it also prevents me from having really meaningful conversations. I can’t answer a question that I have not thought about in advance and am prepared to talk about. Often, I can’t even answer about a topic that I have given thought if the question simply isn’t asked in quite the right way. Regarding something I said a couple of posts back some one told me that it wasn’t their fault that I never mentioned stepping on a bee, that I had plenty of opportunity. And that’s true. That anecdote was actually meant as a criticism of the general lack-of-giving-a-crap attitude that I felt in the group, myself included. I wasn’t trying to say that I was right and the problem was with everyone else. In fact, in that specific instance the only reason I even mentioned it here on the blog was because, strange it it may seem, I had actually forgotten about it earlier and somehow happened to think of it while writing that post. I digress. My point was, when asked a question that I am not prepared for, for some reason my brain just shuts off and I can only give some vague response, often no more than a single word. I think there was a time when I actually prided myself on this, in a Yeah, I’m mysterious, what are you going to do kind of way. Now I realize that I’m not vague in a conscious effort to hide anything (usually). I’m only vague because I am a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad communicator. And I want to change that now but I don’t know how.

I mentioned in some post awhile back that I was envious of someone else’s deep theological conversation. I see now that this is why I never manage to get into those myself. I can’t engage in any kind of deep conversation, because I get completely derailed whenever someone introduces a point I had not considered. I like to consider various perspectives and yet I simply can not do it on the fly. In another recent post, I was listing reasons that I do not participate in group discussions, then a couple of days later I added that it also takes me too long think of responses.
I meant it as a bit of a joke, but I think that it is much truer than I initially realized.

So, that sucks. That is my number one flaw. And now that I see it, what can I even do about it? Is it actually possible to develop the ability to think on the fly if one does not already have it?
How am I ever supposed to be a missionary if I am unable to engage people in conversation?

By the end of the day I realized, “Wait, I have a better one.” How about the fact that my brain is fricken‘ wired backwards? When I get upset about something my response is generally to withdraw and not talk about it. Well, first of all, this must be difficult to notice at all, because, as I just finished describing, my non-upset response is also to not talk about things. Even so, there are some people who do know me well enough to recognize the withdrawing part and realize that something is wrong. Their response usually seems to be to assume that I need space and that I will talk about it when I’m ready. Which seems a perfectly reasonable assumption, it just happens to be dead wrong. Because not only is something bothering me, but then I also perceive that nobody cares, and very quickly spiral further into depression. I’m not going to talk about it when I’m ready. I’m going to talk about it when you show me that YOU are ready to enter the dark world of my private thoughts. People have their own problems and I don’t want to dump mine on anyone who doesn’t ask for it. So I don’t get many takers there. (And the ones that do are often more psychotic than I am.)

Immediately prior to becoming a Christian, I got really mad at a friend of mine. I honestly don’t remember what it was about. (Which is strange in itself, because it generally takes a lot of effort to really piss me off.) I flat out stopped talking to her, which was blatantly obvious given that we were working together at the time. Then God turned my world completely upside down. One of the first things I realized was that I ought to try to repair some of my existing relationships. So I apologized to my friend. She basically accepted my apology and was glad to be able to resume telling me about whatever was going on in her life, and never bothered to ask why I stopped talking to her in the first place. That pissed me off anew, but since I was in apologizing mode, I felt that I had to suck that one up as well. Apparently it’s just not unusual for me to give someone the cold shoulder for three weeks without any explanation.

So what did I mean by the brain wired backwards? I need time to think when I’m in the middle of conversation, but when I get upset and apparently signal that I want time alone, it’s actually the last thing I need.

At this point I’m tempted to pout my lips and say, “Awww, is poor timoth upset because his little attention-getting games don’t work?” See, this is why I loath myself.

The New Year

Posted by on Thursday, 4 January, 2007

I had a dream a week or so ago. I was in some kind of theater or lecture hall – something with tiered seating. There was a fellow in the row behind me, he does have a name in real life, but for the sake of argument, let’s call him November. He was trying unsuccessfully to get the attention of the young lady sitting in the row in front of me, and he had a letter for her. acquainted with her myself, I got her attention by poking her in the back with (of all things) a shampoo bottle. She turned around and I indicated my friend behind me and his envelope. I can’t remember what happened to the letter at this point. I guess she must of taken it, but I don’t think she read it. Instead she turned to the guy sitting next to her, (I’ll call him December) and put both her hands on his near shoulder and lay her head on them, hanging on every word he said. I remember feeling sorry for Mr. November. But anyway, it’s January now, and it’s about time to move on.