My Buddy Lou

 

At the age of seven, I briefly became a Devil worshipper.

Strange? Maybe, but let’s back up a second.

I was raised in a strict Protestant household, Pentecostal to be exact. We preferred to faithfully attend church service seven days a week, thank you very much, and “idols” such as Santa Clause were considered threats to the good Lord’s sovereignty. Out they went.

I loved God; I considered him to be a good guy (he was male, of course!), and he watched over me and my family. But there was a problem: the Devil. He stood against everything that good Christians strived for; he compelled people to do bad things, and in the End of Days, he’d roam the Earth with the Anti-Christ to punish nonbelievers.

So, like any child fearing Christian, I decided to fight him with one of the most powerful weapons in my arsenal: love.

It was a Saturday morning; I was watching cartoons—Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—and swinging my feet atop my couch. Something kept running through my head though: if God admires love, compassion, and praise, then wouldn’t the Devil only care for the opposite—hate, selfishness, and insults? I mean, the Devil is pure evil, isn’t he? He would hate anything positive; it would actually hurt him, wouldn’t it?

With this logic in mind, I hopped off the couch, bent down until my face was inches from the carpeted floor, and started telling the Devil I loved him. I told him that he was nice and good and that we should be friends. I mentioned every positive thing I could think of—poison to the Devil in my mind—to hurt him wherever he was in hell (because he was surely listening to a seven year old Spanish child in a Brooklyn ghetto . . . ).

Now, imagine the look on my sister’s face when she walked into the living room: her little brother, in his pajamas, kneeling to the ground, worshipping Satan repeatedly. She quickly wailed “what are you doing?!”

I looked up at her and calmly explained my plan to hurt the devil by showing him love. That’s when she explained to me that the Devil had worshippers too, and the way you fought him was to praise God.

Twenty-two years later, I’m still not sure if I believe my sister, honestly. But every once in a while I do receive an e-mail from a stranger with “wazaaaap?” in the body, so who knows?

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Happy . . . Thanks . . . Gurgle

 

Uff.

I’m currently digesting enough white meat to crap out a baby turkey.

It sure doesn’t look like that inside of my gullet.

Before a malaise takes hold of my brain, I thought I’d share some of the things I’m thankful for. I mean, ’tis the season to enjoy the seasonings, and nothing brings out gratitude quite like a plate full of goodies.

1) Family always tops these lists, doesn’t it? But it’s such a general thing to be grateful for. Specifically, I’m grateful that I have the kind of family that would drop everything it’s doing in order to help someone. If there’s a case to be made for the existence of some kind of objective morality, a deep seeded altruism, than my family would be a good example.

2) I’m also thankful for the ability to even type these words. No, it’s not a “glad I have good health” wish (though that’s a standard thing to be grateful for too). Instead, I’m thankful that I can afford even the little computer I’m using and also grateful to whatever cosmic being thought it was a good idea to cram my head full of pulsing words that just need to come out. 🙂

3) Finally (cause 3’s a magic number) I’m thankful to live in a time where free speech is commonplace (at least in a good portion of the world), human rights are generally recognized and respected, and a person can live to the ripe old age of 80+ having lived a good life (snuck a bit of good health in there for good measure.)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving; may your leftovers leave a wonderful taste in your mouth, even after being nuked in the microwave!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Memory Machines

Just a quick post today as the writing Muse has a hold of me something fierce.

More and more, I’m noticing my dependency on technology in a very key area: memory.

A friend of mine is in the hospital, and she gave me the phone number to her room, which I promptly put into my cellphone. However, for some reason, I couldn’t commit it to memory, nor did I feel particularly inclined to. I realized that I didn’t know any of my friends’ or family members’ phone numbers. I had them all stored away in my cellphone with little fear of losing them. And if I did, I could just reach out to them on Facebook and get their numbers. If that failed, then email would work just fine.

But years ago, before the advent of the Internet, I would memorize numbers because I had to. Sure, I had a little black book too, but at any given time, I could recite a list of numbers off the top of my head, at least the ones belonging to my closest friends and family. Since it’s no longer necessary to do so now, I feel like I’ve lost something.

It’s not just phone numbers, either. It’s all kinds of facts that I don’t feel an urgency to remember. Why? Because a casual search on Google or Wikipedia will give me the info I need. So that little transition from short term memory to long term doesn’t happen as much. Who needs to remember a bunch of facts these days anyway? Or Shakespeare quotations, which my literature professors could recite in a heartbeat?

It seems that machines are taking over not only labor but memory storage and management. I feel a Terminator 2, Skynet becoming aware scenario coming on. Maybe one day we’ll free up so much of our brain that we won’t have to remember a thing ourselves, and we can devote that brain power to something else.

Nah.

What do you guys think?

 

Libertad

Come on in, sit by the fire.

Feet up, arms folded. Comfy? Excellent.

Let’s talk about death. And happiness.

At the moment, death seems pretty inevitable. Maybe our children’s children will discover the secrets of immortality (I suspect it’ll have something to do with cyborgs), but our generation will undoubtedly tango with the Grim Reaper one day.

Since our time on Earth is limited, I’ve been thinking about how I spend (or waste) said time. Specifically, I’m worried about the amount of happiness I get out of my day. There are so many humdrum parts to a typical day, tasks we have to complete in order to serve a larger goal. Like being stuck in an office for eight hours. Misery for the sake of survival—unless you like office work, in which case you’re already dead.

Eight hours a day.

Forty a week.

2080 a year.

86 days spent doing something you dislike, which doesn’t include the time spent commuting to and from work. Working to further someone else’s goals. That’s the reality of most people on the planet.

Yeah, I know: there are some very practical consequences to just doing whatever you want at any time of the day. Nothing would get done. Chaos would reign supreme. Society as we know it would crumble.

But a guy can dream of doing—only doing—what he loves, can’t he?

What’s that Queen song? “I Want To Break Free”? Oh yes.

Politics Shmolitics

Just a short post today. There be writin’ that needs doin’.

I’ve realized that I’m pretty out of touch with politics. I’ve had enough going on in my personal life that I haven’t paid much attention to the governing bodies in our society.

Plus, as a former philosophy student, I get frustrated with most political issues and debates because the roots of most disagreements lie at a baser level. They require discussions about ethics, etymology, metaphysics, theology, and a slew of other schools of thought.

So, basically, discussions about healthcare, taxes, welfare, and the involvement of the government in business are just surface discussions: a ton of “hidden” beliefs fuel those debates, and those beliefs and values are what we need to talk about.

However, since our presidential election is almost upon us (maybe the Mayans were anticipating this?), I feel it necessary to get my political ducks (or elephants and donkeys) in a row.

Presidential Race

So, I’m making a mini-vow to follow what’s going on in the political world. It seems the only way to do that effectively is to visit different news sites (since every single one of them has a bias, so you gotta shop around to get a complete picture). I’ve done a bit of catching up already, and I’m almost regretting it, but it’s important to stay informed, right?

…….

RIGHT? 😦

Do you follow politics? Do you feel they impact your life directly or is it something you couldn’t care less about?

Remember When You Were Young?

He was a walking mountain.

His summit wasn’t peppered with frost just yet; that would come years later.

In my six year old eyes, my father was invincible, a myth that had grown since I last saw him two years earlier. The gap in time would be the shortest of many to come.

“Shortest” is how I describe it now. But at the age of six, two years might as well have been fifty. Still, I’d stitched together enough of an impression to squeal in excitement when I saw him that night.

It was a Friday night. Pentecostal and Spanish, my family attended church service seven days a week. (The term “school night” never brought a reprieve from worship).

The devotional was in full swing with tambourines jangling, cowbells ringing, and people singing. I was sitting in a pew, my feet swinging inches off the carpeted floor, when an usher tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the church entrance.

That’s when I saw him.

His tall, muscular form took up the entire doorway. He had on a black leather jacket, black jeans, and black shoes. He’d combed his hair back and trimmed his beard into a solid, neat form.

“He named you after Michael Knight from Knight Rider,” my mom would tell me. It was my favorite show. I’m not sure if what she said was true, but I did think my father looked like a Latin David Hasselhoff except with facial hair, like a real man.

To say I ran down the church aisle is an understatement. I bolted towards my father yelling “PAAAAPIIIII!” (dad in Spanish) without a thought to how I looked to everyone around me.

I jumped into his arms, and he scooped me up as if I were the lightest thing in the world. I can still feel his needle-like whiskers on my cheek as he kissed me.

I was going to spend the weekend with him; my mom hadn’t told me anything. She’d secretly packed my clothes in a bag and brought it with her.

God, the church, even my mother melted away in a blur of pure ecstasy. I was leaving right then and there with my father. He carried me to his car and buckled me in. My mother couldn’t afford a car, so knowing my father had one left me in awestruck.

We drove off into the night, and I had him all to myself.

This is a powerful, sacred memory I keep tucked away in a safe part of my mind. I pull it out every once in awhile to siphon some of the positive energy I felt that night. I blame the always honest, never boring ifidiebeforeisleep for my little reflective post. Do yourself a favor and visit her blog.

What fun, beautiful, or powerful childhood memories do you hold onto and revisit?

To Dream Yourself Awake

I often wonder if dreams are where our memories, ideas, and other thoughts go to play once we melt into our beds.

I had an amazing dream Saturday night, so amazing that I hopped out of bed and typed down my thoughts like a madman lest I forget something.

I’m not going to bore anyone with the full details of my dream; it wasn’t some bizarre landscape inspired by Salvador Dali or scenes pulled out of Twin Peaks.

In fact, what surprised me most about my dream was how coherent it was, how positively ordinary it turned out to be. It reminded me of the movie Inception.

For the uninitiated, Inception is about highly trained professionals who can travel into another person’s dream and extract (or implant) information. It’s basically dream espionage.

The concept of a lucid dream is very important to understanding the movie. I’m sure everyone’s had a lucid dream at one point: it’s a dream in which you know you’re dreaming.

I’ve had lucid dreams in the past, but Saturday night’s dream was on a whole different level.

You know how people claim that a dream feels “so real!” You’ve probably uttered it yourself at one point when describing your dream to a friend: “That gnome riding a unicycle across the Grand Canyon looked so real! The wind on my face felt so real!”

Before Saturday I slung those phrases around too, but looking back on those dreams now, I realize they were still covered by the “fuzz” of the dream world.

You know what I mean, right? It’s like a screen of lint, a membrane of some sort that’s draped over your senses in a dream. It doesn’t have the clarity of the world as you read my blog or scroll with your mouse or listen to your boss in the background.

Yet my dream on Saturday did.

And it fascinates me.

In the dream, I looked down at my hands and could make them out perfectly, every ridge and nail and wrinkle.

I knew I was dreaming and willed myself to remain inside, asleep, so that I could listen and see and touch. I was in a car and could make out the bumpy texture of the leather dashboard.

Time wasn’t elastic: I wasn’t in one place one second and miles away the next. Time was linear and tangible.

I could simultaneously feel my body under the sheets in the real world and within the car in the dream world. And it was the dream world that was sharper and clearer.

Again, very oddly, I refused to rouse myself from sleep. I wanted to explore the feeling or consciousness in both worlds.

Ok, that’s enough of that. I’d love to hear your thoughts on dreams.

Have you ever had an especially potent dream? What do you think dreams are or believe they signify?

Ever Get That Feeling?

Ever have that moment when you stop and think “why exactly am I doing this?”

You could be sitting in your cubicle, watching t.v., eating with friends, painting, or writing a blog.

It’s a moment of clarity, an instance in which you step back from whatever situation you’re in and just wonder “why?”

I was recently writing (“does he do ANYTHING besides write? Sheesh!”) when I experienced that odd moment.

I became hyper aware of what I was doing: tapping pieces of plastic (keys) and listening to weird sounds out of black rectangles (music from my speakers).

I began to wonder the purpose of doing these things:  what was I trying to achieve? Did they have any “real” importance?

Hmm, it’s more difficult to explain the concept in words than I thought. The sensation is like a jumble of emotions and associations that are far from linear.

Hopefully someone out there knows what I’m talking about.  Preferably someone who isn’t tripping on LSD. 😛