Friday, September 30, 2005

T.G.I.F.

It is Friday, though while for me that means a weekend where I will still have to read, Emerson and Faust respectively, plus work on my pathetically behind online classes, it's still Friday. Sadly, my wife works every day this weekend and my son will be gone all day tomorrow for football. I get to hang around because I have to help emcee the annual stewardship dinner at my episcopal parish Sat. night. That last sounds like a line out of Garrison Keillor. I am a huge closet fan of Keillor's show and books, by the way. I get to either too infrequently, but Prairie Home Companion is as good as radio gets, especially on a cold weekend in the mountains as the oil lamps and woodstove window burn.

It isn't cold yet, but it will be. The change is coming even if it's a little behind at the moment. Oh yes, on that note, I'll be up at my mom's bringing down cedar rounds much of Saturday also. Free cedar is tough to pass up even at my age.

Enough dribble. I have a few moments to blog. Yesssss! To quote Napoleon Dynamite.

***

The comments to my post below are excellent. Alison, especially, opens up and shares a genuine spirituality. More spiritual than any essay of mine. There are times I think I should abandon even my lay attempts at responding to atheist skeptics, but I continue to want to write those kinds of posts because I struggle myself and I hope as I work through my own stuff it may help someone else. And because, to be honest, there is too often a smug arrogance in the skeptical community (I say this realizing I can be both) which overwhelms those of us outside. A good scientist, most scientists, will say that no hypothesis is ever proven; we simply arrive at greater levels of probable knowledge. Or perhaps in practice, the only thing science can make definitive pronouncements about is what can be observed reptetitvely in the lab. Even then, as my chemistry professor used to say, "We can't say that heat always flows from a warmer object to a cooler one, only that it has never been observed to flow the other direction." Even Bertrand Russell notes that thinking inductively, a chicken can be sure the farmer comes each day to feed it; this phenomena has been observed its entire life, until the day the family wants chicken.

Perhaps science gets its arrogance because it has worked so well with medicine, with descriptions of the macro and micro worlds, with harnassing energy, with making very ruthless weapons, sadly, when governments have requested them. And science has disproved buttloads of superstition in the last three centuries. To think back to an old Saturday Night Live skit, my stomach ache is not caused by demonic influence, nor by an imbalance of bodily humors due to a small toad living in my stomach, but by GERD, easily treated with one aciphex before bed each night.

Of course this doesn't mean science can make proclamations about what lies beyond its realm of inquiry. Nor that scientific knowledge hasn't led many individuals, including actual scientists, to religious faith. I think of the old fable of the six blind men each touching a different part of an elephant and trying to describe the animal. If they all didn't have access to the entire creature, but just the trunk, the tail, the side, a leg...each would seem universally foreign. Science has told us some good and true things about one part of a very large elephant. How large our race cannot say.

Now I am tired. I think a mini-nap, if I can pull it off, is in order. Mike will be home in an hour. I just wanted to drop in and say hello to the good people who pop in here.

On Education for Ministry, the lay theology class offered through the Episcopal church: so far (two meetings) this has been excellent. Very ersonal and open. A small group of motivated students. The view of scripture presented so far is scholarly, open-minded, and even literary. They recommend the four source theory for Genesis, the J, E, P, D thing I think von Rad may have come up with. In other words, Abraham could have been a real person...or not; the point is Genesis recounts God's dealings with mankind and does so from multiple perspectives later redacted. Abraham might have been a tribe, a clan, one person or a mythological reconstruction. For me, that kind of Christianity is where I have to start at least. Innerrancy, with all respect to those who hold to it, is simply not what I've seen so far in any of the bible's books (however many we count as belonging there). From what I've read of the scripture, however the Bible was inspired, it was not dictated word for word and the human element is blatant. For me, a rational approach to scripture, as opposed to a presuppostion that it is without error apart from its content, is a much better way to begin.

But now I'm really drifting off topic, whatever the topic was. Love to all who read and comment here.

mr. sleepy

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Brief Post Pondering Skepticism

I say that I'm a Christian skeptic, and I think that's a fair description. Human history is full of superstition, mistaken supernaturalism, little men running in the sugar cane at night...shhh, listen, I hear them scurrying in the dark!

In a recent Skeptic column in Scientific American, Michael Shermer's monthly piece, I read how scientific knowledge, in one case fundamental descriptions of the chemical component to consciousness, does not mean one must abandon wonder for the self or the universe. Also, Shermer writes how viewing the faint Andromeda light moves him to tears; not because the bare smudge in his telescope has intrinsinc beauty, but because he knows the galaxy's astronomic age and distance from him, its viewer.

Two things come to mind: one is that I agree because we have given some chemical neurotransmitters names, because we see they affect mood and accompany body events like orgasm or eating chocolate, does not mean our wonder should diminish. The fact that a chemical, interacting with who knows what else, in brain processes even science does not perceive much less understand, causes the mental state of pleasure in a sentient being is cause for tremendous wonder. The complexity of that phenomenon is staggering; there is no language for it short of the mathematical and it will not do. Fact is, the cellular and enzymatic functions of my liver alone, much better understood and described than those of the brain, are exquisite, precise, profound. Shermer ascribes all of it to natural selection. We developed these amazing apparatus because we needed them. He doesn't quite venerate natural selection, but he comes close. I suppose in his own way, he would.

It is possible; it's even more astounding that rational life formed according to natural processes than the presence of ten thousand galaxies. But all of it, the size of the known universe, the vastness of the galactic clusters, the wonder of human consciousness, the interdependent electrical/molecular complexity of biological life, all of it pushes toward the teleological argument. Where did this come from? And more to the point, how is the universe so mathematically elegant, the human soul both tenacious and despairing, poetic and chaotic? Modern skepticism is a response to what humans have believed in and feared for millenia, the supernatural, an afterlife, ghosts, god or gods, sacrifice, moral code. Is some of it hokey? Sure. Is all of it?

The closer I look at quantum or at biology, and I haven't looked very close, the more I am astounded by the world of nature. Human science only describes one very small piece of what we can see; no one knows how big the full physical picture will be, let alone how or why it works. Is this all accident? The result of amazing laws which have no origin; not just no explanable or known origin, but no origin whatever, no thing more complex than what we ourselves are? Perhaps.

But the question of mind behind organized and creative matter is not easily dismissed. In a previous essay Shermer points out that the brain amazes us because we can't see it work the same way we see our heart work, for example, or some other bodily organ. Yet even if someday we can see the brain 'work' fully this is less of a miracle than the fact that we experience it working all the time. The product of my brain is not the same thing as the product of my kidneys. One produces me and the other produces my piss. My consciousness is unique from all matter, even if that matter sustains, influences or supports it. Even if it produces it.

I have to look at the still unknown complexities of such a system in awe. And awe, for many, is not far from belief.

***

EFM has started and I'm no less busy than I was. Mikey came down with a cold today and so we got to spend one glorious day with all three of us at home, Steph cooking, me eating and folding laundry...I have a beautiful family. What a gift they are.

EFM frightens me. The toughest thing for me about Jesus is his Jewishness. No, I'm not anti-semitic; I'm not talking about a race of people, but about an ancient religion. The Torah and its gross deficiencies, eating codes, uncleanness from the outside. That. Now I get to read it all (admittedly for the first time) and try to make some sense of it and of Jesus' recorded attitude towards it. Why would God send his emissary (assuming Jesus was the only one; there may have been others and I mean no blasphemy) to this group of people, this cramped religion, this place? Hard questions.

I'm doing okay all. Work is still hard and plenty of things aren't resolved from last semester. But S and I are growing closer. My (step)son, even at grumpy 13, is still beautiful inside and out, and I'm lucky to know him. I'm healing. Amazing. I know I say this blog is about telling that story and I've hardly told any of it yet, but I pray (genuinely) I will have the time between family and work and church to trickle it out.

Love to all. I'm behind in everyone's blogs, but I'll catch up. Beautiful souls in the margin.

Troy

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Another Quick Post

How long do I have? Minutes, really.

Just a note to say I'm okay. The hell passes, without doubt it passes, and I'm handling what's left in its wake pretty well. S and I have connected at an even deeper level, and while nothing is perfect (this keeps puzzling puzzling puzzling me) what did Frost say, something like 'earth's the place for love, I don't know where it's likely to go better.'

Only there's more. Frankly, I think God is changing me from the inside out. Why now? This I can't answer. It seems that the more I try to work in the church or grow spiritually as an individual, the more weak areas in my life go into spins, and then, amazingly, when I ask for help I get it.

Does this negate my therapy, years in recovery? No. But even a skeptic like me, who doubts every internal impression, knows my mind's superstitious tendency to find connections where they don't exist...frankly, even I feel a certain awe.

And right now, I'm feeling pretty darned good. I'm actually going sailing on the Bay Tuesday, spending tomorrow night on the boat. Without S, which blows, but once I get my license I can have more control over my trips and who is on them.

Whatever, S and I said things to each other this week, I said things at least, I had been afraid to say but needed to say for, oh, years. And they got said and the sierra sky didn't fall and in fact my wife has a new respect for me. We are changing together and for the better. I believe God is at work, or so I surely hope.

My job, well, it's another story maybe, but at least I'm aware that there is a great deal of difference between conducting a good class, maybe a fair class under the circumstances, and a perfect class. And that my job is to make learning possible, not beat knowledge into the mind of every weak-willed Freshman I have on my roll. I have some great students, don't get me wrong. I'm working with low level basic grammar students for the first time in years and frankly they are awesome; I like them very much. But yeah, this will be a semester with some casulaties, better, some imperfections on my part. God help me to accept my own limitations. This is very hard, but it will have to be.

EFM starts Wednesday. Hope I have time to pay attention in that class. And I hope it speaks to my wife also. And that my son manages is okay staying home alone from the time he gets home until 10:30 at freaking night because that's the only way I know how to handle Wednesday nights with both of us in the class. This is a cause of great concern for me, though we have friends just a mile away, another family down the street, and he's 13. Still, it makes me sick at heart and I don't know if it's right; he feels better about it than hanging around the church by himself doing nothing, and of course we all have cell phones and would be in touch with him more than once during the evening. Do I feel better? Not really.

I have to run, my friends. Your love here is sweet water and I know it every day of my life.

Peace in Christ and in God's love,

Troy

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Quick Post

Tonight my pain is once again great; it is the depressed pain, a feeling like none other, and the old echoes of the dark ocd. On a scale of 1 to 100 we're talking thirties maybe, but I rarely get this anymore. I can't even remember the last time.

I did go to the gym tonight and lift; my old standby, excercise, always helps.

Why the depression and anxiety, verging at moments on panic? I don't know fully. I do know it will be gone in a day or two; it will surely wax and wane and pass. Work is a huge part of it; I'm still dealing with last semester, with my new classes, with trying to build two effing online classes when I'm teaching am. lit. and honors and basic grammar for the first freaking time. It's very hard to build online classes and teach them at once. I tell people never to do it.

And I get reviewed this semester and have to write a self-study, a reflection on my work. Me, I work hard. My college, my dept., well, communication failure, something, but clearly I tried to leave and couldn't.

I simply feel pressure over work almost all the time. And then S and I are slowly moving back together emotionally but things are not fully resolved, for me at least; I don't feel as close as I need to feel.

I don't even have time to really post here. It's time to go to bed. But dangit, if I'm going to feel the shadows of hell, I'm going to share it. Tomorrow will probably be better. If not, surely the next day.

I've been having trouble sleeping since school started, seeing my therapist infrequently. I'm seeing her once a week again and hope to sleep well tonight.

Gotta go. Thank you all, sincerely, truly, for the kind comments below.

Note I changed my email also in my profile.

Much love,

t

Sunday, September 11, 2005

This Mortal Coil

The drums roll to grog, and Billy not to know? -- Melville

Today I turned 41. Wow. Ouch, kinda. 40 was tough, a true marker, but turning 41 reminds me that time doesn't stop, my body's march towards death, regardless of accident or disease, continues at its steady pace. How does being 41 feel different from being 31, or if I can remember, 21?

In my case, 21 and 31 were special times with special struggles, so I'll stay at the general level: how in large terms is 41 different?

Regarding apperance, my hair is grayer than ever, a bit thinner though I still have a pretty full head; oddly the rest of my body seems to get hairier with each year. And even that hair is getting gray, at least on my chest. Looking at my hands as I type I see some wrinkles, a dryness in the skin; I know from the morning mirror that around my eyes, the beginnings of creases which will only spread with the years.

Still, I've held to a general level of fitness. I have more muscularity than most men my age, some genetic and some from pressing the iron. My waist hasn't recovered from four months of no workouts whatsoever and eating valium, but then it isn't that big either. More fat than I want, less than many guys over 35.

But all this stuff is, of course, surface. It happens outside the genuine me, the part that feels the old pain in my stomach even now. Birthdays have been hard for me for many years, and since mine falls on 9/11 it's especially hard. Flags at half mast. A beautiful liturgy of forgiveness in church. Remembering the dead. It has gotten easier each year, but I don't think I'll ever forget the television screen images of that particular birthday morning, the bodies jumping from the towers, a few holding hands, screaming out of the flames and into death.

Death. It's been a long time since I wanted to die, since death fought to flood my mouth like water and end what felt like an eternal pain. No, I want to live. In fact, it bothers me that I can't see my own immortality clearly, know without doubt that my brain's death will not be the end of the individual. Jesus swore it, or so our records say. There I must put my hope.

I loved the old Star Trek when I was in college. When Next Generation came along I resisted; in fact, I wouldn't start watching it until the dramatic end of what I think is season three, when Picard is turned into Locutus and the Borg are incinerating the Federation fleet. Once I began, I became a fast fan. Though I've watched some of the others I still like TNG best of all the four series (sorry, I don't count Enterprise, as much as I loved Quantum Leap and dig Scott Bakula). It's a Voyager episode that is coming to mind now. The title is This Mortal Coil, and though I've seen it once it is one of my favorite Treks of all time. Philosophical, stark, precise in its questions.

In the episode Neelix dies. I forget how, but he dies. And he's dead for twelve hours, twenty four perhaps? He's only brought back because 7 of 9 donates some of her nanoprobes and these enter Neelix's body and heal his necrotic tissue. All of it. In a short time he's resurrected, literally, and shares his story.

In John's gospel, the story of Lazarus is a powerful one, one of the most powerful stories in all religious literature, certainly that which pretends to be historic. But Lazarus doesn't say anything about his time away in the story, and we don't know what ever happened to him. In Neelix's case (and yes, I know it's just a t.v. show; I'm not like the woman Scott told me about who is actually waiting for starfleet orders to ship out; there are perhaps worse ways to live) he comes back with no recollection of the afterlife at all. His culture has religious beliefs. He believes that he will come to some sacred tree in the afterlife, that he will see his dead relatives there and dwell in bliss. I can't remember the exact details, but the wrenching thing is that when he comes back he recalls none of it. He saw no sacred tree; found none of his lost relatives. His religious belief in the afterlife is destroyed.

And this leads to him to despair. Other crew members try to comfort him, telling him that perhaps they brought him back before he got to experience the afterlife, or that perhaps he has no memory of the events (it is always a question how any out of body experience can leave memory imprints in the brain, but now I'm over my head, over humanity's head, really). Yet Neelix is certain. He was gone, completely, and he went nowhere and saw nothing and has no memory whatsoever. He was dead long enough to know.

Faced with such a universe he contemplates suicide. The only thing that holds him to his life is a child he is caring for, a little girl, about ten, I can't recall. He sses how much she needs him emotionally and he decides to continue living, saying at one point, 'duty calls.'

This Mortal Coil. While the title is taken from Hamlet, the questions raised in the episode surely are as old as human thought.

Aging, I feel the need to make each day count. Taking up sailing is part of this; I've found few things as exhilirating, actually, probably nothing I've done compares to it. Trying to draw closer to my family is also a goal because I see how fast the years slip away, my son growing older (oh, and my wife is not pregnant after all, sorry I forgot to say earlier) my wife and I growing older, so many other demands on our time and no guarantees we will see tomorrow. If I live to be 90, our time together is limited. Even with the Christian afterlife. C.S. Lewis says of death 'it is a real Brook,' a genuine stream, a complete change coming when we cross. There will not be physical, animal love as I know now, and I don't just mean sex; whatever awaits, it will not be this, and there are parts of this I cherish.

That is one way 41 is different. I'm tired of believing my job is all, that earning approval there is a non-negotiable goal. Tired of caring about little things, the daily news, my thousand tiny fears about money, security, the distant future. The moment I am in, the day I have today, really does matter; each day is a precious gift, and I know it and continue to know it as I grow older.

But what about Neelix's despair? Does the absence of any afterlife necessarily lead to such a crisis?

For many, yes. Atheistic materialism has led scores of great minds into despair, partial or total, even if they can't stay there long and find some other cause to give them purpose and meaning. Sartre is a famous example. After his existential crisis days he dove into Marxism, a philosophy which seems to promise human salvation in this life, the righting of wrongs, the rescue of the oppressed, a moral center (always undermined by Marx's rage, sweeping generalizations of class, and his allowance, even promotion, of violence). But it is possible, maybe if one doesn't think too much, if one 'tends one's garden' in Voltaire's phrase, to find meaning in family, in positive causes, in work and physical pleasures.

Or is it?

I'm hard pressed to find many who have looked at the situation long and come away without anger when facing ideas like final death, or the absence of ultimate justice, or the problem of pointless suffering, or the lack of any transcendent ethical imperative, even if that imperative is simply 'love.' Socrates, dying from the hemlock, uncovered his face to make sure the ritual sacrifice would be offered. When S.J. Gould finally succumbed to cancer after decades of espousing atheism and materialism, at least severe agnosticism, the phrase that I kept reading and hearing was 'he lived several lifetimes in one.' That came from his supporters, from those writing in the wake of his body's cessation. Really? Was several enough? Does not even that phrase show our need to hide our eyes from the grim horror of his final and complete absence, without meaning, sucked back into the dust I sweep into the garbage?

A. Schweitzer tried, saying that he was 'life which wills to live in the midst of other life which also wills to live' though I paraphrase. He was proud of this philosophy; he felt he wsa the only person of his era who embraced non-transcendence without despair. And he lived this out by giving much of his life to charity work in Africa. Is he in heaven with Christ, now? Only God knows.

But for most, and maybe even for Schweitzer at times (I can't say) belief in our lives as non-transcendent animals lives means we have existence without genuine purpose. We hate and fear death. At least, we are angry that we have no meaning, that our deepest need for love is merely the remnant of childhoodneeds our parents never manage to completely fill. We go on, duty calls.

What do we experience or know, other than our graphic need, damn it I mean my graphic need, to prove that I do have what Schaeffer calls an infinite reference point for finite man?

The most self-aggrandizing founder of any major religion: Jesus. Show me the historicity of karmic doctrine. According to reasonable historians its roots lie in class oppression; varna, caste, the color of skin. I have heard a few possible accounts of children who remember past lives, but I've seen nothing scientific, and the logical problems run deep. For one, how come almost all of us have no past life memory? Buddhism is a psychological system (and a decent one at that) which draws its religious metaphysic from Hinduisum. Muhammed's vision of Jesus undermines even basic historicity in the gospels; Jesus didn't see himself as just another prophet, but as one who transcended all prophets and the scriptures they wrote. But I'm not here to argue or bash: I have found no one in religious literature that makes the promises of Christ with any credibility. Meaning that for me, if Jesus is wrong, hope for a life after this one is a wild, pathetic hope indeed.

But what if Jesus was right? Then I am a man with cancer lying on the table, an hour from death, my family about me in despair and my heart failing and raging, but the cure has been discovered, and I will be injected, and I will walk out a whole man. This Mortal Coil is not the final page because the Designer did not leave it so. Why of all things would the apostles invent the doctrine of eternal life? It is at the core of Pauline teaching, and heavy in John; it is discussed in every gospel. What led them to preach to the entire world, drawing in the gentiles, and abandon circumcision and most of the Jewish ritual law? Something very big. The historical Jesus must have taught that he could provide never ending life; sure he could have been wrong, but there are a host of reasons to wonder if he was right. For one, what he offers touches our most core needs but, as Lewis would say, in an 'odd' way. No green eyed virgins to deflower eternally, not even the continuance of family or the marriage bond. No, what Jesus promised was eternity with him. No spiritual hunger or spiritual thirst. Death but no death.

To quote Monty Python, 'what a strange person.'

I am out of time. I'll throw this up and edit later. Mikey is home and needs attention; I'm going to order a pizza and play Clue with my family. That was my birthday wish. We used to do it once a week when he was smaller, and I miss it. Will it be perfect? No. Will we argue, maybe. But at least I will be alive, with the problems of living. But when that ends, what then? 'I was not, I was, I am not, I don't care' (taken from many Roman gravestones). It doesn't have to be. We all hide our eyes from death, but one said that he would face it not through irresistable nature, as we do, but through choice, so that those who turned to him would not have to fear the black dissimilation of the body. It is the most enormous promise ever made. May I cling to it, and not without reason, more each passing year.

Selah.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sincere Thanks

Apparently my blog now gets spam. Besides a couple adds in the comment section below, I find enormous beauty in the other posts. Enormous. If I ever had doubts about being able to receive support via my blog, those are gone. The sincere and personal nature of the comments and insights is deeply moving.

Mrs Fish, you rock. Steph and I are intense too. In some ways we, or at least I, was scared by our anger years ago, scared of actual confrontation, and S definitely is a woman who speaks her mind. I think one of the things that attracted me to her was that of all people, she was not in denial about what pissed her off. A couple years before I met her, maybe one year, she went through her closet and cut all the labels out of her clothes. They weren't swank labels, mind you, but she didn't want to be affected by icons of commerce. A girl who at 22 read Emerson (for real; I'm still getting around to most of him) Thoreau, Gary Snyder. I was impressed. But while I found her open anger and strong personality refreshing, in some ways complementary, when it got directed at me in any way, I got defensive, scared, basically freaked.

So I hid; denied my anger (again) and ruminated. Obsessed, too. Years where whole days were lost to anxiety. I've been working on admitting my anger and fear in this relationship for a couple of years, but it always does me good to hear about another couple who fought yet stayed together. And Alison...the distance between heads on the pillow...that touches me so much.

You will all think this is bizarre, but somehow I have this idea that marriage really should be polite, sweet, nurturing, gentle and without conflict. Like...geez, where did I get this idea...from TV; from Mr. and Mrs. C. on Happy Days? (Only sexy, also.) While I'm astonishingly, even stupidly, good at confronting authority figures in other parts of my life, with my sig. other...no, please, let's just be calm and talk nice. Let's not disagree out loud.

Probably because my mother was a rager, raging, rage machine. And my father bottled his anger, but when it did come out, you could get hurt.

I don't know when recovery ends. I'm still digging through my old patterns. I don't know another way.

But I must say again: such beauty and support in the comments. Are things back to normal at home? No. Though I did tell her I missed her tonight, that I hoped we'd get back to normal. But I don't know if it's all the pressure we're both under (she's taking on lots of new responsibility) or that she might be pregnant and her hormones are swinging. I guess we'll know about that soon enough. She didn't think so a few days ago, but I have genuine suspicions.

And if so, great. So we won't be empty nesters in five or six years after all. I'm just glad to be alive and struggling with the problems of the living. If not...maybe that will help me decide how I feel about the issue. I did have a swimmer count nearly a year ago and my numbers were very low, perhaps in part because of all the hot baths I take. I think we both thought it couldn't happen. But if it does, well, see lifting weights really does change your hormones. If it's a boy I'll name it Draper. Just kidding honey, if you're reading.

Geez though; this week has been hell.

***

But in the midst of hell was joy also.

Two more days in Santa Cruz this last weekend sailing. I left town the morning after our huge fight, which absolutely and completely sucks and is something I never want to do again. I couldn't use my cell phone much because I couldn't charge it there so we hardly even spoke. I barely ate the first day; I was in a grief state, really. But the time in the boat and the time on the sea was still good. It's hard, actually, trying to learn everything I need for a bareboat license. That means you can rent boats all over the world and sail them without any skipper or crew but yourself and who you bring. Since boats cost a lot of money and they don't want you chartering a boat just to sail it into a supertanker, the standard is pretty high. I've done four days out of eight (the minimum; not everyone passes after eight days) and while I'm picking it up quick, it's amazing how much you have to know about marine toilets, for instance, or nautical charts, not to mention sailing the boat.

I love every bit of it.

The sea in Santa Cruz is the real thing, gorgeous blue green, with mild swells this time of year and lots of semi-wild coastland right near the city. The wind, and the sun, and the sea, and the feeling of accomplishment learning to drive that boat through it...it's one of the best things I have going for myself these days. I've underhobbied since we moved north six years ago. Was it Adler who stressed the need for self-care and recreation, followed by about ten thousand recovery authors? They're right of course. I get so caught up in work, in 'providing,' and wasting time to relieve the subsequent stress I forget to have fun. It's pretty hard not to have fun sailing in gorgeous weather in that Bay. I thank God for that beauty.

Thanks for listening gang. I mean it. I'll keep you posted. Blog love in all your directions. Life is very, very real.

Troy

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Prayer Request and Rant

Those of you who pray, please pray; I'm off to Santa Cruz for another two days of sailing, the second weekend of my class, which is a good thing. But the tension between S and I has only grown, or simmered without resolution or closeness, and then blew up tonight. Over chores, mostly, making the bed. Yeah, critical shit. Actually, we have deeper issues; perhaps those are what's really up.

I know we were both undernurtured as kids; I know we both have a lot of anger. I know I'm not the perfect person and neither is she. I know it would be great if life were one long vacation, plenty of money and people to clean my house and no work stress. But my experience is so far from that. I truthfully don't know how other people live, what their lives are like, but even apart from my ocd and depression, which really are in remission, healing, life is still often very hard. I don't know how people with more than one kid keep up with it, or with a baby. I'm beginning to wonder if I should completely throw in the towel on the idea of any more children (I do turn 41 next month, geez) by getting snipped.

My stepson is a wonderful boy, but he's becoming a teenager...'why' any time we ask anything. He's still good natured, so far, but maybe it's me that's nuts. I don't know. I just know work has been stressful this term as I teach all new classes, my home is stressful, money is okay but even with the summer school I taught, two brutal classes, our house projects, nothing dramatic and us doing almost all the work, can and will eat that little savings up in a flash.

Maybe I am lazy. I'm not as focused on house things as S, but our deal has always been to split everything, at least in theory. I have my career, and I parent and houseclean and do laundry and whatever else, shop and even cook though S is much better than me in a kitchen. It is just never easy.

And while I'm ranting, it pisses me off that faculty with a ph.d. or more units than me are making several thousand more dollars a year for doing the same or even less work. I can climb another pay class without the doctorate, but just climbing the first one took all kinds of work after school and during the summers, piling up units beyond my m.a. I know (and like) a guy with no prior teaching experience who has a ph. d., he managed to finagle them into thinking he had five years experience when he started, the max they'd take, and he has always made much more than me though we were hired at the same time. The difference, actually, between a ph.d. and someone with only an m.a. is something like 15,000 a year off the top of my head. For the same work, the same classes, same everything.

But above all I hate that S and I are fighting, had such a big fight tonight. She leaves for work very early, I will go to work and then to Santa Cruz for two days. No chance to really talk or sort stuff out whatever can be sorted out. It occurred to me she might be pregnant.

I am so tired of the tension over housework.

Is this spiritual warfare? Or just a cycle in the relationship? I don't know. It certainly is our baggage, once again, nothing new. Connected to our past issues, for sure, but with its own life.

And I'm supposed to have it great: family, house in the mountains, professor job, going in three days a week this semester...I don't know why I feel so down, why I still have so many struggles, why I feel as though my work is almost never done, either with school or around the house.

I don't think I said anything out of line here about what's going on. Those of you who pray, please, a quick prayer for us. Some days I feel like everything is great and some days I feel like the house is burning down around me.

t