Meme3

I spent the evening in the company of my wife and a visiting pastor and
his wife, which has left me no time to blog. I always mean to blog six times
a week,
but I usually only post five times, and one of those typically bears the title
RLTB.
I didn’t blog at all yesterday, and
I’m getting antsy about not writing. I guess I’ll take this opportunity to
complete the
meme that Jerry tagged me with
:

Three screen names that you have had: eeyore, flapwilson,
TX Curt

Three things you like about yourself: toenails that curl
upward, a dry wit that few recognize, the fact that my wife finds me both lovable
and attractive

Three things you don’t like about yourself: my (at times)
debilitating insecurity, a burgeoning pot belly, a mild case of tinnitus

Three parts of your heritage: Christian, East Texas, West
Texas

Three things that scare you: life without God, loss of my
wife or child, bears

Three of your everyday essentials: physical contact with
my wife, verbal contact with my wife, emotional contact with my wife

Three things you are wearing right now: wedding ring, eyeglasses,
gym shorts

Three of your favorite songs: The Old Rugged Cross (hymn),
King of the Road (Roger Miller), If I Stand (Rich Mullins)

Three new things
you want to try in the next 12 months
: be a father, buy a house, get
a dog

Three things I want in a relationship: respect, loyalty,
love

Two truths and a lie: I have milked a goat, eaten rattlesnake
meat, and wrung a chicken’s neck

Three things you can’t do without: the Bible, my wife, books

Three places you want to go on vacation: Disney World, a
cabin in the Rockies, California

Three things you just can’t do: punch someone (except, once,
MCF), use God’s name in vain, a back flip

Three kids’ names: Victoria, Isabelle, Gummo

Three things you want to do before you die: meet an angel,
save someone’s life, write a book

Three Celeb crushes: Kate Hudson, Salma Hayek, Orlando
Bloom

Easy as 1-2-3

I am too tired to write anything. I’m almost too tired to think. But I’ve
already written an RLTB post this week, and skipped one day entirely. Usually
in a situation
such as this I just list 23 strange
things
, write
about something random, or ask
myself
some questions
.
I don’t have the energy to do those things right now, though, so I’m tearing
a page out of Bryan’s
book
and following a mindless meme. This particular one directs you to type
every letter
in
the alphabet in your
address bar and share the link that is automatically filled in, then add a reason
why
to
explain
or defend yourself.

  • A: atimelikethis.net because I get homesick sometimes
  • B: Blogger because even though I’m on WordPress now, it’s
    hard staying away
  • C: CoffeeSwirls because I love the smell of brewing coffee even if I can’t
    stand to taste it
  • D: The Dallas Morning News because I thought their classifieds might help
    me find a job (they didn’t)
  • E: Earthlink because
    I switched to high-speed and needed to know how to cancel my service
  • F: a 404 page on FeatureWeb,
    British Columbia’s Web directory, for no reason I can think of
  • G: Gmail because Google kicks spam’s butt
  • H: Amy’s
    Humble Musings
    because Amy’s baby likes C.S. Lewis and she gave a "porkpie"
    tip to Jollyblogger…both in the same post
  • I: ireneQ • unravelled because
    Irene is my bigblogsister
  • J: jobsearch.monster.com because
    even though I’m working, I’m still unemployed
  • K: King of Fools because
    he’s great…and he was the only K suggested by the auto-fill
  • L: Lebhar-Friedman,
    Inc. (employment page)
    for the same
    reason as Monster.com
  • M: MCF’s
    Nexus of Improbability
    because I visit the Nexus
    more than I look up words
  • N: Netflix because I’m through with Blockbuster
  • O: One World Hosting because
    they’re the best
  • P: Peachwater,
    Tx.
    because I’m forever optimistic that the 58th Annual Peachwater
    Festival will actually take place next weekend (there’s not even a link
    to Festival news on the front page—that’s a bad sign)
  • Q: Quixado because
    (I can only assume) I was following a link on the
    Nexus
  • R: Roger
    Ebert
    because he seems to actually understand the art
    of film
  • S: Sitemeter because I blog
  • T: Technorati for the same reason
  • U: University of Massachussets
    Amherst
    because my brother-in-law
    was just accepted there
  • V: Verizon because
    I needed affordable high-speed Internet access
  • W: Amy’s
    World of Random Thoughts
    because she’s my friend, and there’s no such
    thing as too many Amys
  • X: Miss
    O’Hara
    …no explanation needed (except that she’s on Xanga, which is why
    the letter X took me to her blog)
  • Y: y not? (apparently I’ve never browsed a URL that begins
    with Y)
  • Z: Zackvision because
    I wanted to import my Haloscan comments into WordPress and Zack seems to
    have done that successfully…I, of course, haven’t

Tagged by a meme

I don’t often participate in memes (except for MCF‘s Blog Parties because
he’s a real-life friend). I was tagged by Paula,
though, to participate in sort of a pyramid meme. I normally wouldn’t cooperate
with something like that, but I took a look at her blog and found it to be
so earnest and sincere that I just couldn’t bring myself to say no to her.
I also can’t bring myself to tag anyone else to do this, but if you want to
do it, leave a comment and a link.

Here’s how it works: I pick 5 occupations out of the list
below and complete the sentence:

If I could be a scientist…
If
I could be a farmer…
If I could be a musician…
If I could be a doctor…
If I could be a painter…
If I could be a gardener…
If I could be a missionary…
If I could be a chef…
If I could be an architect…
If I could be a linguist…
If I
could
be a psychologist…
If I could be a librarian…
If I could be a lawyer…
If I could be an inn-keeper…
If I could be an athlete…
If
I could
be a
professor…
If I could be a writer…
If I could be a llama rider…
If
I could be a bonnie pirate…
If I could be an astronaut…
If I could be
a world
famous blogger…
If I could be a justice on any one court in the world…
If I could be married
to any current famous political figure…
If I could be a dog trainer…

If I could be a linguist, I’d invent my own language that
expresses how I think. That would take a lot of doing, because first I’d have
to figure out how I
think without resorting to the language I already know. And it would be difficult
to teach to other people, because they’d have to understand me really well
already to have any hope of grasping my language’s logic. That would mean that
only I and one or two other people would ever be able to speak it. It would
probably be worth the trouble, though, just to be perfectly understood.

If I could be a professor, I’d teach writing. I’d make sure
every student of mine passed my class with an understanding of how to communicate
in English. They’d know—and care—about proper punctuation, sentence
structure, logic, and organization. They would continue to learn more about
written communication for their entire lives, just as I’ve done.

If I could be a llama rider, I wouldn’t. Those things are
nasty.

If I could be a librarian, I might just think I have the
best job in the world. And I would work to find a way to make people understand
the value of books even in the age of the internet.

If I could be a dog trainer, I’d probably think I have the
other best job in the world. I’d teach people how to lovingly discipline their
dogs the way God lovingly disciplines us. I’d train dogs to comfort
the sick
and give peace to
the
desperate.
I’d share with everyone how wonderful true companionship can be, and hopefully
make people understand the value and joy that come with love, trust, and undying
loyalty.

Awesome

This blog gets a lot of hits from search engines. Many of the searches are innocuous (“nicknames for boyfriends,” “how to be a happy husband,” etc.) while others are heartbreaking or downright scary. But I found out today that, at least for today, this blog comes in at No. 2 on Google for the search tiggers don’t climb trees (because of my post 23 things I don’t like)—a pleasant discovery that made my day.

Heroes at the blog party

Blog Party IIIMCF invited a bunch of people to his blog party party this week, asking only
that we bring our five favorite heroes. I tried to come up with five marriage
heroes, but I realized that a hero isn’t really a hero without a huge obstacle
to overcome,
and
the biggest obstacle in marriage is one’s own self. Legends arise when a person
goes above and beyond the call of duty. But how does one go above and beyond
after pledging to love, honor, and cherish a spouse for as long as you both
shall live? A man who loves his wife extravagantly is like a man who never
robs banks.
He
is
honorable and noteworthy, but he has merely done as he ought and nothing more.
Those who know him will respect and admire him, but they will not write songs
or novels about
him.
Unfortunately,
this
means
that
there
are
few
if
any
standouts
in
the
area
of
marriage.

Anyway, here are five heroes I picked for random reasons:

Jacob
I picked Jacob as my one marriage hero because

as soon as Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother,
and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob came near and rolled the
stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.
Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud.

I cried like a baby all through my wedding ceremony, so I can relate. Fortunately,
my father-in-law did not make me work seven years for the privilege of marrying
his daughter, then liquor me up and trick me into marrying one of Mrs. Happy’s
brothers (she has no sister). Even if something like that had happened (::shudder::),
I would have gladly worked another seven years for her. That’s what Jacob did,
and though he was never anything close to a perfect husband, he adored her
until the day he died.

The Heckler
No one remembers The Heckler. I even stumped both MCF and Jerry with
my description of this comic book character when I was trying to remember his
name. (When it comes to comics, you simply can’t out-know either of those guys,
much less both. But I’ve done it twice. The other time was with the character
of Azrael from Teen Titans.) Anyway, his book lasted for seven issues. In his
private identity, he was a timid diner owner. When he put on his costume, his
personality
changed entirely. He
had
no
superpowers other than some extra agility; he simply liked to be in the thick
of
whatever
ruckus
might
be
happening. He plunged head-first into chaos armed with nothing but competitive
determination
and a devastating verbal wit. If I were a superhero, I would be something like
The Heckler.

C. S. Lewis
I call him a hero because his work demonstrated to me that an intelligent,
educated, and deeply philosophical man can also be a deeply devoted Christian.

Ralph Hinkley
It’s a little presumptuous for anyone to create a fictional character and call
it The
Greatest American Hero
. I like this guy, though. He’s a teacher upon
whom some aliens bestow a special suit that gives him powers that in many
ways are even cooler than Superman’s. He recognizes the privilege and the
responsibility that come with owning such a suit and does his best to use
it in a worthy manner. But he must just sort of muddle through and learn
by trial, error, and humiliating experience because he lost the instruction
book that was supposed to come with the suit. That may be a heavy-handed
metaphor for real life, but I sure didn’t think so when I was watching Ralph
on TV when I was ten years old. And I still can’t get the theme song out
of my head.

Lyle Lovett
He’s talented, but also so ugly it must hurt. And yet he convinced Julia Roberts
to marry him. It was only for two years—and who wouldn’t Julia Roberts marry
for two years?—but still.

A musical evening

One of Mrs. Happy’s colleagues recently introduced her to the music of Richard
Shindell
, a singer/songwriter in the American folk tradition. I’ve
grown
to
appreciate
his
music
as
well.
He’s from Long Island, but currently lives in Buenos Aires, so he doesn’t play
the local New York venues much.
Tonight
we
took
the
opportunity to see him perform in a bar in lower Manhattan. He looked nothing
like what I expected. Instead of a long-haired bohemian, he appeared more like
a carpenter or construction worker. He was very down-to-earth and interacted
with the small (probably around 100 or so) audience. Some of his songs put me
to sleep, but others pack a powerful emotional punch. I’m glad we got to see
him. He even signed his new CD for us.

The
opening act was a pleasant surprise. I usually think of openers as competent
but usually dull and self-important wannabes fit for nothing but to be endured
and to make the main act seem even better by comparison. But the young lady
who opened the evening was a singer/songwriter from Vermont named Anaïs
Mitchell
. Her music managed to whet and satisfy my music-listening appetite,
providing a perfect appetizer for the main Shindell course. I even bought her
CD and spoke to her briefly. I never do that.

Anyway, I’m dead tired. This is as much insight as I can muster tonight.

Thanks

I’d like to say thank you to everyone who e-mailed and left comments on yesterday’s post. I felt like I was getting a big, warm group cyberhug. It’s very encouraging to hear both from friends I know and those I don’t. Like I said, we appreciate all prayers. I will certainly let it be known when I find a new job. Again, thank you.

Some good art

In the last few years, I’ve
learned a lot about art. This is mainly due to my wife’s influence. I’m certainly
no expert. I would not be able to intelligently discuss the actual merits of
any art piece with someone halfway knowledgeable. But I have my own understanding
of the purpose and value of artistic expression. To me, art is an expression
of something that words can’t express. It communicates on an emotional level
or, if the artist is especially skillful, on a spiritual level. I think we
produce art because it gives us a connection to God—we bear the image of our
Creator
and when we create we recognize that part of ourselves. Excellent art gives
the artist a new understanding of his own relationship with God, and truly
great
art does the same for people who see it.

Mrs. Happy and I saw an art installation this past weekend that did nothing
for my spirit but still produced a powerful emotional impact. The Gates in
Central Park (Manhattan, New York) was the most recent collaboration between
the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Known for their immense-scale, temporary
pieces, the artists arranged to have 7,500 curtains hung across 23 miles of
trails in the park that provides New York City with the vast majority of its
flora. You can click the small images here to view the full photographs (taken
by me and my wife, so we’re not violating any copyright) and see the visual
effect of what they call The Gates. C&JC’s
Web site
speaks all sorts
of pretentious blather concerning how

The geometric grid pattern of the hundreds
city blocks surrounding Central Park is reflected in the rectangular structure
of the commanding and sculptural saffron colored vinyl poles, while the
serpentine design of the walkways and the organic shape of the bare branches
of the
trees is mirrored in the continuously changing rounded and sensual movements
of the
free flowing fabric panels moving in the wind.

I call it pretentious blather because if that’s what they were trying to communicate,
it’s pretty silly in my opinion. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt,
though, and assume that they have to include nonsensical verbiage to maintain
their credibility within the art world. If they stated that they wanted to
"help people to rediscover a familiar old park in a fresh new way," they would
be laughed out of town like MCF at
a fashion show. Instead, they must say that

For those who walk through The Gates, following the walkways, the saffron
colored fabric is a golden ceiling creating warm shadows When seen from the
buildings surrounding Central Park, The Gates seem like a golden river appearing
and disappearing through the bare branches of the trees and highlighting
the shape of the meandering footpaths.*

I wonder if they realized the contradiction in the phrase warm shadows,
especially in February in New York. The Gates reminded me neither
of gold nor ceilings, but rather orange shower curtains. But I’m commenting
on their pontification and
not their actual work, which I loved.

I’ve heard a lot of people criticize The Gates for various reasons.
You can say the project was wasteful, indulgent, meaningless, ugly, condescending,
intrusive, and "the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of," but when I walked
into Central Park on Saturday, I saw something good. I saw New Yorkers being
happy. Perhaps you have heard of New Yorkers’ reputation for crabby impatience.
I assure you it’s accurate. But under those "gates," people smiled and laughed.
They accidentally got in each other’s way and said, "Excuse me," and "No problem."
They photographed each other. They sang to their children and shared their
sense of wonder. Mrs. Happy and I walked through the park with friends we hadn’t
seen in nearly a year. It was a truly a wonderful experience.


* All quotes are taken straight from C&J-C’s Web site, and all
typos belong to them.

Where are you from?

I wrote last week about how much I enjoy hearing people’s love
stories
.
Another thing I enjoy is Where I’m From poetry that people send me.
I discovered the Where I’m From project shortly after I began blogging
back in
2003.
At the site Fragments From Floyd,
Fred First wrote a post singing the praises of Appalachian poet George Ella
Lyons and her poem Where
I’m From
.
The poem is a beautiful reflection
on the experiences and memories that shape us all. Fred borrowed an idea from
somewhere and offered
up a template
to help poets and non-poets alike create
similar poems specific to their own lives. Though I’m not a poet by any means,
the project
appealed
to
me enough to write my own poem. Ever since then, several readers have sent
me their
own
Where I’m From poems, and every one is a masterpiece in its own right.
I have posted them all under the where
we’re from
link in the right-hand sidebar.

I recently received another poem, and I felt it was the perfect opportunity
to draw attention to this project. I also think this is a great tool to stimulate
conversation between spouses. If you write a poem about where you’re from,
send it to me and I will include it in the collection. For now, read about
Where Sarah’s From, check out the other
poems
, and see just how fun and cool
this can be.


Where Sarah’s From

I am from shag carpet, from My Little Ponies, Dr. Who and a scratched window
seat.

I am from the brown house by the river, far from the road.

I am from the old
birch trees, the daffodils, and kaleidoscopic pansies.

I am from anxiety and
needless fear.

I am from Christmas Eve tree-trimming parties and defensive stubbornness,
from David and Ruth-called-Kim.

I’m from "You’re a California Girl and
don’t you forget it" and "Life
isn’t working the way the instruction manual said it would."

I am from
conversion from atheism to Catholicism, via my parents.

I’m from San Rafael
and Northwestern European cross-breeding, from pasta with pesto and Black Magic
Cake and using the good silver every day.

From home-schooling and home-cooking, and weeding the garden with the sun hot
on my back.

I am from "Sam the Gazebo" and other stories my mother
invented and told to me.

I am from overcast skies, drizzle, and soul-chilling
dampness.  I’m from
heating the house with a woodstove.

I am from my mother’s playfulness and my
father’s determination.
I am from flowering in college; I am from two and a half years in Alaska
encompassing great beauty and great pain.

I am from the spreading peace and
joy of my marriage to my husband.

Marriage villains at the blog party

I have three friends that I affectionately refer to as "my geek friends."
When I call them that, I can feel like I have friends who are geeks, but that
doesn’t necessarily make me a geek. Of course, in our group of four each of
us refers to the other three as "my geek friends," so they may all be thinking
the same way. In all honesty, though, I’m the least geeky of the four. I don’t
say that to brag—it’s just a fact.
They all three have vast stores of knowledge about obscure topics
that I’ve never heard of. I know a little about comic books, fantasy, and sci-fi,
so sometimes I can converse with them intelligently, but I’m pretty much a
geek by default. As a teenager, I looked like a geek (small, bespectacled,
with little
fashion sense and lots of books) so my peers treated me with a sort of indifference
that effectively became a mild
form
of
ostracism.
The only social group that welcomed me
was the D&D-playing, Star Wars-quoting,
advanced physics-studying, Hitchhiker’s Guide-carrying, spazzy-down-to-the-bone
geeks. So I became a geek by default.

All three geek friends are bloggers now. They are Rey (The
Bible Archive
),
MCF (MCF’s Nexus of
Improbability
), and Jerry (TheWriteJerry).
Their geek credentials are impeccable. As if to prove the point, MCF decided
to host a party…in cyberspace…for bloggers. The point of the party is to describe
"Your Top Five Villains of All Time, from Comics to Cartoons to Television
to Film." Even though I’m a geek only by default, I’m still a geek and I must
respond. In keeping with the focus of this blog, however, I’ve figured out
what may be the five worst villains in the world of matrimony.

  1. California Assemblyman James A. Hayes
    Until 1970, only one U.S. state (Oklahoma) had a law allowing no-fault divorce.
    In all other states, any person who wanted a divorce had to go to court and
    provide a good reason for dissolving the marriage contract. The legislature
    defined "good reason," and judges decided whether a divorce should be granted.
    Divorce did exist prior to 1970, but it was relatively uncommon. In 1969,
    California State
    Senator Donald Grunsky and Assemblyman James A. Hayes introduced a bill to
    allow couples to divorce for any or no reason. The bill was signed into law
    by Governor Ronald Reagan. Subsequently, a national group of lawyers calling
    themselves the Uniform Law Commission composed the Uniform
    Marriage
    and Divorce
    Act—a model no-fault law based on California’s bill. By 1985, every state
    in the union instituted no-fault divorce.

    Hayes was certainly not the only one involved in passing the no-fault law.
    Grunsky sponsored the bill in the state senate, though his stated intent
    was to eliminate the "spectacle of private detectives sneaking around
    gathering salacious evidence against one of the spouses for presentation
    in
    a courtroom expose." Reagan signed the bill into law, but he later regretted
    it as one of the worst mistakes he made while in office. In his book Twice Adopted,
    Michael Reagan says, "Notice that Dad signed the no-fault divorce law some twenty
    years
    after going through his own divorce. His wife, Jane Wyman, had divorced him on
    grounds of ‘mental cruelty.’
    Even though listing grounds for divorce was largely a formality, those words
    were probably a bitter pill for him to swallow. He wanted to do something to
    make the divorce process less acrimonious, less contentious, and less expensive."

    Hayes, on the other hand, was going through an acrimonious divorce at the time
    and didn’t like the rules in place. I
    choose him as
    the
    no-fault villain because his motives in drafting the bill in the first place
    were utterly
    selfish,
    and
    the
    effect
    of
    his actions
    has
    been
    ruinous to the institution of marriage in modern America.

    (References: No-Fault Divorce Faulty Indeed, California
    Divorce
    Reform After 25 Years
    , Twice
    Adopted
    excerpt.)

  2. John F. Kennedy and William Jefferson Clinton
    There’s a story—I don’t know how true it is—about JFK, one of the United
    States’ most beloved presidents ever. The story says that before Kennedy’s
    election in 1960, American men wore hats everywhere they went. The president
    did not like wearing a hat, and when the country saw him on TV eschewing
    headgear, men just stopped buying general-use hats because women everywhere
    wanted him and men everywhere wanted to be him. His life of sexual promiscuity
    and extramarital affairs is well-known though little reported. He seemed
    to have little respect for his wife or his marriage, treating both as
    a social and political expediency. A lot of men have followed his lead.

    Clinton’s damage to marriage was similar, but his influence was more among
    teens than adults. He told a group of high-school students what type of
    underwear he wore, he allegedly harassed several women sexually, and he
    self-admittedly received oral sex from an intern while at his desk in the
    Oval Office. His initial public dismissal of his actions as harmless told
    an entire generation of youth that oral sex isn’t sex. His actions demonstrated
    a lack of respect for the public that elected him and for the women who
    worked for him. Kennedy at least has a legacy of keeping the country safe
    from foreign nuclear threats. Clinton’s legacy is one of scandal, lack
    of self-restraint, and making it nearly impossible for Generation Y to
    have a healthy attitude about sex and marriage.

  3. Elizabeth Taylor and Larry King
    Americans do not always emulate their political leaders, but they have always
    imitated their favorite stars of the big and small screen. Elizabeth Taylor-Rosemond-Hilton-Wilding-Todd-Fisher-Burton-Burton-Warner-Fortensky
    has been married eight times to seven different men, was rumored to have
    had many more love
    affairs, and once said, "What do you expect me to do? Sleep alone?" Whether
    she influenced or merely personified a cultural indifference for the sanctity
    of wedding vows, I count her as a marriage villain. Ditto for Larry King,
    who said of his seven
    marriages
    , "I just like diversity. The girl I
    liked at 20 was not the girl I liked at 30. And in the culture I grew up
    in, if
    you fell in love, you got married. I fell in
    love when I was 20 and 30, and I got married. It didn’t work out, and I paid
    what I had to pay."
  4. Reality Television
    Has there ever been a more insidious erosion of realistic and healthy attitudes
    toward relationships and marriage? Some of the worst, just off the top of
    my head, are: Temptation
    Island
    , Blind Date, Shipmates, The Bachelor, The
    Bachelorette
    , Who Wants
    to Marry a Millionaire?
    , and Joe Millionaire.
  5. Pornography
    Pornography has destroyed more lives and marriages than anyone will ever
    know.

So those are my top five marriage villains. Check out my geek
friends’ responses on their own blogs:

MCF
Rey
Jerry