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April 28, 2010

My Own Bad Advice

Listen, my son, to this instruction. Pay attention, and gain understanding.

Nah. Not really. A better way to intro this writing is to say that when I was single and interested in finding a "good" girlfriend, I got a lot of bad advice. People told me a lot of bullshit about dating while others made me plain scared of ever even thinking about maybe possibly getting married because that's foolish.

So what makes me think that I'm an expert with nonbullshit advice? Well, first, I don't (see title). There are plenty of good books out there, and I've remained committed to reading at least one good marriage/relationship book per year since I've been married. Do you read?

More importantly, I have had about 12 years of being on this side of the horrendous dating scene, literally thank God. That's 12 years of life experience, watching others while being mostly unconcerned with myself.

First, single girls don't know exactly what they want in a relationship any more than you do. On the whole, the hearts of women seem to ebb and flow in ways that defy any sort of normal human logic. Expect confusion and puzzling. Even if you could figure it out, "it" would change and you'd still be left standing there in the hallway scratching your head.

"Um, okay."

I do that at least once a week.

Second. Girls want what you want; things that transcend gender. They want a rock freakin' solid person. By that I mean things like honesty and humility, respect, integrity, and courage. Men and women carry them out in different roles, but those are what we're all looking for. We will never own any of those things over a lifetime of real effort, and so we all desperately want grace.

Girls want someone who is brave yet gentle; respectful to their parents but not a mamma's boy/girl. That sort of thing.

Be a good listener. Prompt and listen. Prompt and listen. While I seriously doubt the existence of a "good" pick-up line, having a repertoire of "good" sincere prompting questions is probably worth it. If it drains you and feels like work, drop it like it's hott. Yes, two t's.

Third. Notice something about their hair. I don't care what it is.

"Is that new?...That huge white stripe of shaved skin down the center of your head?...That reverse mohawk goes perfectly with your boots and your attitude."

For real though, it works no matter what the age or marital status or haircut. NOTICE THE HAIR, even if it's just because you'd maybe appreciate them bringing another tray of peanutbutter hershey kiss cookies into the office. Just try it.

Mutual physical attraction does count. Golden Anniversaries never happen solely by chemistry, because true love is a decision...that sort of thing. But anybody who says that looks don't matter is lying.

Fourth. Don't really try. Other than the hair thing, just don't. Go about doing what you enjoy doing (unless it's online Dungeons and Dragons) and regularly, frequently extend yourself to serve others. I personally think "singles" events just kind of smother everything in impenetrable layers of weirdness, masks, and awkwardness, even when intentions are good. Nobody makes good friends by trying really hard to make good friends.

Put yourself out there - sure. Your actions and attitudes will tell others that you're interested and available. Be the good time. But that's about it.

Fifth. Take a serious inventory of yourself to identify some area(s) where you generally suck, and seriously pray to God for help and to show you ways to change that. God - yes, 'cause trying ain't gonna cut it. Otherwise you're left with a miserable cycle of singleness and inconfidence and Saturday Night Live. No single should be regularly watching "live" SNL.

I was way inpatient and short tempered and maybe even mad before I met Amy. I had no good reason to be any of those things, and they made me more stand-offish and introverted. Without saying a word, she made me want to change them.

Sixth, confidence. This applies more to the dating scene, but I think that girls are attracted to confidence. Not bigmouth blowhard confidence, but "I really am okay with or without a girl" kind of confidence.

You are okay with or without? Really, you should be. Ugh, I know.

Now who's really confident, not false frontin' confident? I know a few folks who are, but not many. If you already error on the side of being too confident, then this entire writing is definitely not for you. But really and truly, being a big mouth and being a super shy wallflower are both renditions of self absorption. And not attractive.

During high school and college years, when I was interested in dating, I was like a baby food jar full of confidence. Infant sized. Only when I went to grad school, and said "whatever," and swore "I'm devoting the next 3 years only to getting a professional degree," was I unconcerned enough with myself and my dating life to have a genuinely enjoyable date.

That, my brother, is my own bad advice on dating.

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April 20, 2010

Black Holes and Deedo Um

[Did you notice that I often write about coming home? Sorry, but coming home is absolutely my most favorite thing to do and to remember. So...]

I usually can't pull into the driveway after work. There are bikes, monster trucks, baseball bats, and makeshift bug jars all over the place.

"Deedoo ummm!"

Nosey Parker is excited. Ecstatic. She squeaks for joy, throwing up her arms and extending her torso as in jumping, but her feet don't leave the grass. She does her pigeon toed gallop with arms extended stiffly in my direction, falling forward at the point where she knows I can reach her.

"Daddy home!"

Buggies is also quite pleased with the situation. He hops skippingly in three big circles, then buries his nose in my leg. He wants tickled and thrown around, but not held.

"Hi Daddy!"

Ducks sprints from whatever it is he's doing, usually with Luke. He makes eye contact and smiles the grand canyon. Some have called it "Nix Nucks" and others a "shit eatin' grin." He hunches and creeps toward me in a sneaking fashion, though we both know I see him. He pauses, motionless at my side, cocks back, and rails me in the hip.

"Daddy can you..."

Luke walks over after finishing up whatever it is he's doing. He's good for a hug, but he doesn't drop everything and run anymore. He does often lead with a question or a request to come see something he's done or caught that day.

What he's lost in excitement is gained in depth. Luke's the only one who can keep up on a bike and play real catch. He wonders about the colors of bees and if God could make Tai Lung (villian in Kung Fu Panda) good and why telescopes can't see inside a black hole.

I take in this revelation and try to consider how each child changes while I'm changing and our relationship must change. This is a black hole that I will never get to the bottom of. There was a time when they were not, and suddenly, now there are these four beautiful things with a voice and desires and offerings and will of their own.

Call the present an "event horizon" that you can't see past, but one can make a calculated guess. The hi daddy's will progress to hey dads then to practically nonverbal head nods and then hopefully back to a hi dads again. And of course the mystery of their timeless soul is beyond my comprehension.

Please don't say there is a bottom to the hugs. Hugs may closely resemble an arm lock with a punch to the scapula when they are about fifteen. But call it a hug. Hugs there will be for as long as I'm given days for hugging.

There's no limit for Amy and the kids. Wherever and whatever happens, they can gravitate toward my arms. I'm like a black hole of hugs.

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April 07, 2010

They Don't Serve Waffles on Pandora

Above is an image from the movie Avatar.

The message is clear and more than a little off. The storyline wasn't anything really new and the whole thing progressed into deeper hokeyness. The incorporation of the Na'vi people's spirituality was way cheesy. I'm not calling for some kind of alien Jesus people; just saying that the spiritual stuff could have been meaningful and real instead of just tired and weird.

Having said that, you should see the film. There's a lot done right. There's a reason why Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time. Any movie that really makes you think and wonder (or laugh!) without costing you too much in the morality/vulgarity department is well worth it.

The cinematography is like nothing else, and the movie won tons of artistic type awards. Like, WAY cool. Everything on their planet is fertile and unblemished and steroid bioluminescent. Pandora is like the Hollywood version of the earth as it was 6 to 10 thousand years ago. There really is no reason to envy it.

I mean, don't tell me that given 6 or 8 thousand more years, Pandora won't create its own New Jersey. As if those tall blue cat looking people would pull off living in perpetual harmony with their environment. As if they would continually and perfectly walk the straight and narrow away from greed and lust and envy and pride. Talk about science fiction!

Besides, go ahead and try living on the beautiful unblemished earth that historians call Classical Antiquity, as it was 6 or 8 thousand years ago, about like the life and times of the blue cat people. That would suck. The environment was nicely untoxicated. There was an ice age, then warming, and Al Gore wasn't even there. They were probably not very different from us as far as happiness goes. They just worked a ton harder in crappy "natural" conditions like humidity while living and knowing a lot less.

And the gnats. I imagine the gnats are a freaking nightmare on Pandora.

I would pick modern earth over pre-medieval earth any day. And yes, even over Pandora. And you know what? If the earth was all hyper colorful and lush everywhere all the time, we wouldn't notice the beauty. It would all be business as usual to us, because in reality, the shadow proves the sunshine.


Is it Pandora or the earth near my house?

Not my photo, but nearby Earth

If this tree doesn't appear otherwordly, what possibly does?

They're like huge flowers.

Pandoras "Mother Worship" tree, or just Jane's front yard?

The indigenous population seems to form communal bonds with odd life forms having bills and webbed feet.
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