Monday, October 26, 2009

It's Ok To Lie**

The other day I was saying something to Jess that she just wanted to hear but that I didn't really mean. In the process it immediately occurred to me that I should cross my fingers. I did and instantly a sense of calm assurance fell over me. An old friend had resurfaced in a time of need. My only problem was that I forgot to do it behind my back (I'm rusty!), so she saw what was going on and got all bent out of shape.
I have no idea how I forgot about this invaluable tool of social subterfuge. But I wanted to remind everyone of it because somehow in our trek from childhood to irresponsible adult we seem to have misplaced this ingenious instrument of misdirection.

The thing is that we are constantly bombarded with demands on our time, patience, love and respect. Who can be expected to meet this plethora of requirements? Social contact via the Internet and modern technology has rocketed exponentially. It's important to remember that you have a friend in the crossing of fingers.

Sometimes you don't want to go to a party, but you feel your social standing may in some way be in danger if you refuse the inviter's offer. A simple crossing of the fingers will allow you to appear sociable, eager to please and a true friend. "I wouldn't miss it for the world," you say, as you calmly raise your left hand, tuck it high around your back, and slide your pointer digit underneath your middle finger.

Other times you'll be in a meeting with your boss and he'll catch a costly mistake that you made. It is certainly possible to own up to the mistake and then work hard to get it fixed. But with the economy the way that it is, admitting incompetence could cost you a lot. Simply dropping your hand out of sight, crossing your fingers and saying, "That wasn't me, it was Steve in accounting," will wipe the potential pitfall away in moments.

Now, some of you, after copious amounts of usage, will encounter a day of reckoning. The crossing of the fingers causes what scientists call "promise versus reality dissonance." When this happens to you the situation calls for extremely careful navigation. What you need to engage in to overcome the problem is extreme peer pressure punctuated by threats and aggressive intimidation until submission is achieved.

To explain:

If someone says to you, "You said you were going to pay me for the vase you said you 'accidentally' stole from my home," you need to start off by acting like you are at a complete loss as to what they might be referring to. This will buy you a little time to map out a game plan. When the moment is right you need to immediately snap to putting them on the defensive. "What are you TALKING about?! When did I say that?" If they say something like, "The other day," then you act indignant, like they are so lost and confused that they are a waste of your time, and then make them feel stupid for not being more accurate. "The other day I was at work, did I say this to you when I was at work? Because THAT doesn't make sense considering that YOU don't work with me." That should work, but you must also keep in mind that you have to get the subject changed. "You know what, are you trying to tell me that YOU'VE never stolen anything? What was the last thing you stole?" Put a finger in their chest and lean into them as you say this.

If they somehow persevere in sticking to their point and trying to get you to acknowledge that you said you'd pay them for the crystal vase, then you need to switch gears and say, "Oh, well I had my fingers crossed when I said that." From this point on you need to act as if this is a 100% justification and no other explanation is needed. You need to act like EVERYONE does this, it's de rigueur, and THEY'RE the weird ones for thinking that it's weird. If they try to show you how you're wrong, you need to get pushy and short and act like their points lack even a basic semblance of coherence and they're really just wasting your time. After they make one of their points make a stupid face, bang your chest in exaggerated fashion, and say in an exaggerated voice "Derrr, my name is [their name] and I'm being a wittle baby and I want my ba-ba." (Look, I know that it is ugly, and I know that it is offensive, but it gets the job done, and that's all we're concerned about.)

Like I said, this should cow them into submission, but if they insist that you are still the guilty party then you should probably just cross your fingers and call all of your mutual friends and family and tell them you think said person is an alcoholic, citing several examples and experiences for why this has to be true.

I'll close with some little known facts about crossed fingers:

1. Doing a double crossing of the fingers (i.e. crossing fingers on both hands) cancels out the effect of a single crossing of the fingers. Some people think it is giving you extra power for the misdirection, but it is actually leaving you socially and legally responsible for your lie.

2. Crossing your fingers in church doesn't work. Seriously, I've tried. I've stood in a sanctuary and tried to keep my fingers crossed as I've told my pastor that I have never ripped the tag off a mattress and every time I tried to say it I could feel my fingers slipping off of each other. But I asked him if we could continue our conversation just outside and everything worked fine.

**When I said that I was crossing my fingers.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Madness Must End

I've allowed myself to become paralyzed. I want to read all of these books equally (and more), and so as a consequence I read none of them. The paralysis comes from the idea that how can I sit down and read one of these when that will take so long and really I want to read all of them? It makes no sense, yet still this logic rules my life. Inherent in the act of sitting down to read one of these page by page is intractable guilt and anxiety that I can't do more, that I haven't done more, and that I am missing something by committing to this.

Insanity insanity.

To quote a future book title of mine, Why Are We So Stupid? Of course what must be acknowledged is that maybe I'm just the crazy one and I'm not speaking for the group. Maybe you don't go through these machinations; probably you don't go through these machinations and this has been nothing but solipsistic, indulgent twaddle.

All that to say here is my solution of the week: I get to pick five, and I only get to read those five until they are read.

Will this work? Hell if I know, but I'm hoping so. I'm tired of being paralyzed.

Here are the lucky winners:

1. The Spirit of the Disciplines, by Dallas Willard. This was selected because it's going to be providing material for an upcoming sermon...I think.

2. A Praying Life, by Paul Miller. This was selected because this is Jess and I's book to go through and dialogue after each chapter. It was needed because we feel we both suck and/or are frustrated with the title endeavor.

3. A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, by Donald Miller. This was selected because maybe I want to write like him so I have to see how it's done. Plus it's good.

4. Reaching Out, by Henri Nouwen. This was selected because it's about getting in touch with the Holy Spirit, and I don't know real too much what that's about, but I feel a pressing to get that figured out.

5. Reason, Faith, and Revolution, by Terry Eagleton. This was selected because I perceive it to be a super-intellectual throwdown in favor of my side and I want to feel sharper about articulating my faith in this culture. Eagleton is smarter than you and me and six other people put together, so if I can piggyback and ride on his coatails to appear in some measure smart and informed then I will do that. Eagleton is difficult waters to navigate, though: He's an unreconstructed Marxist, (former?) Catholic, and England's foremost literary critic. So yeah, I might come away with some tools for articulating my faith but in the process I might also end up a left-wing socialist lesbian (not that there's anything wrong with that).

What's missing from this list? Novels, of course. I don't know, I just haven't felt like them lately.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Creature Chronicles: Gender Confirmed

Look, I know that virtually everyone reading this post already knows what Creature is, but just go with me, would ya? Just, just humor me, is that such a big deal? Thanks.

We had our 20 week ultra sound on Friday. We found out that we have one intact Creature on our hands. Here is a shot of his perfectly formed feet!

And here is Creature's scary Halloween face!
And finally, what you see here is a profile shot of our beautiful BOY Creature!
(And yes, it IS what we were hoping for, and no, we wouldn't have been any less happy if it turned out to be a girl Creature.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Creature Chronicles: Creature Status

In roughly one hour Jess and I will know just what kind of a Creature it is that we have on our hands.

Then it's off to the mall to buy a year's worth of outfits.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Last Dick's

My time at REM Medical is drawing to a close. On Monday I will start my new job doing my old job in a new way (maybe I'll even explain that to you sometime).

Working down on Lower Queen Anne in Seattle has had its ups and downs. I like my view,

But I hate my commute. (But that's just because I hate any commute that lasts longer than 10 minutes; mine really isn't that bad.) I like the people, but it has been fairly stressful. And so on and so on and you get it. But it hit me today what I'm going to miss the most: I'm going to deeply mourn the loss of being five blocks down from Dick's Drive-in.

Founded in 1794, in part as an homage to old-world cuisine, Dick Steelworth established the humble hamburger stand when he didn't have much more than a plug nickle to his name. He founded the restaurant when times were tight and tumultuous. Dick was absolutely consumed, I mean the man was literally haunted, by the dream of producing a high quality drive-in experience for a reasonable price. They say the little children of Seattle could hear him slaughtering cows and pealing potatoes deep into the night almost without fail.

Anyway, today I realized I needed to take advantage of one of the final opportunities, probably in my lifetime, to pop over to Dick's on my lunch break.

Here's a self shot of me in the elevator on the way down to street level. Don't be alarmed, I just think the full measure of excitement hadn't kicked in yet.

Soon I was at Dick's for my last rendezvous there, with myself, for a lunch break.

I wanted to get a self-portrait with me and the Dick's sign, and I took like 20 pictures, but this is the best I could do.

I got a covert shot of the guy who took and filled my order.
His name is Neal, and I want to remember him for the rest of my life. Neal, when you read this, I just want you to know that you're on my top 20 list of best order takers that I've ever had at a Dick's establishment.

A little more Dick's trivia for you: Did you know that I went to Dick's for my birthday, at my request, when I was like 11 or something? But Dick's shouldn't be too flattered, one year I insisted that my parents take me to Arby's–what the hell was I thinking?

Next I took a plate of perfectly good Dicks' food.
And I turned it into this.

It's true that what I'm going to miss the most is the food. But I think I'm also going to miss the discarded paper sacks on the mens room floor that once shrouded a cheap thrill for a bum or bored office worker.
Seriously—you just don't see that very often.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Creature Chronicles: Creature Rides Again

Beginning of Week 19:

Let me get you caught up. Here is week 17:

In this pic she reminds me of Elaine on Seinfeld when she's pissed.

The week 18 pics are somewhere—SOMEWHERE!—but we seem to have misplaced that camera.

So here Jess is at week 19!

And now meet Creature at 19 weeks!

That's right, our little buddy is the size of a healthy, non chemically enhanced heirloom tomato! Creature rides again simply because I finally got another Creature Chronicle up—a feat which many of you, I'm sure, thought would never happen. I could complain about how busy I've been and how hard it all is, but that would be just a little too American for my taste. I think we should all just be glad that Tomato Creature is here and feeling great.

So October 1st was a very important day: It was the first time that Jess felt Creature really move. Since then I have been able to feel him fumble around a little bit. It's amazing what tangible progress will do to change your perception. Before feeling him move I guess, for me at least, he existed more in my mind than in this world. When I felt him move it was like he was moving into space-time for the first time. That either makes me fairly typical or quite insensitive; I'll let the angels decide.

The pregnancy is going SO well, and we are very thankful for that. Jessica's morning sickness has passed. But she is getting a lot of nose bleeds and headaches, and those are certainly no fun. Right now she is paralyzed on the couch with a skull-rending headache. You can pray for her if you think about it—I give you permission, you don't even have to ask.

We are now exactly one week away from finding out if we have a boy Creature or a girl Creature! What's it gonna be?

Stay tuned...