Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I like my readers to be comfortable.
It sufficeth me to say that my relationship with Melanie was one long fiasco.
I'm still processing everything. It's a little premature to say anything about it other than it's over.
Of course, I moved back to New Hampshire, back in with my parents. Just being back in New Hampshire has done wonders for my morale. Sometimes I feel like I can't do anything for myself--like I'm stuck. I felt that way before I was diagnosed with FM, I felt that way before I moved to Idaho, and I felt like that before I moved to Texas, and I felt like that up until now. Sometimes I need to remember who is in control.
see, Drive, by Incubus (the best song ever) is all about who is in control. Am I a slave to my addiction, or am I my own man, in control of my own fate? William Ernest Henley has the answer: "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."
So, what did I do? I'm currently working quite a lot of hours at Eddie Bauer where I am valued for the excellent work I do. I'm living at home where my food and rent is free, and yet--I'm still not making enough to make ends meet. I felt helpless for a while, and then I decided to start a career...
...in the U.S. Navy.
I've thought about it before, but now it only makes sense. I've only just started the process, so I don't know many details. But yes. The Navy. I hope to get into the CTI position, which is cryptology. I am quite good with languages so I think that is the place for me. After 4-6 years, I may continue where I left off, or reserves, or continue with a military career. Who knows where I'll be by that time. I'll let future Gabriel figure that out.
Monday, September 12, 2011
When I was a kid, both of my parents were high school teachers. I love them, and I thought that it was so cool that they were teachers. Over the years, they both got graduate degrees and changed careers. However, my parents affected my identity most as schoolteachers.
There has always been an academic feel about our home. My parents always, always read us books when we went to bed, just for fun, on long drives, when we were infants, when we were teenagers, and even now. Now we have a family Charles Dickens book club. Books were important to my family and they are important to me.
When I was 3 years old, my mom taught my older sister how to read while I was climbing the curtains behind the couch. I learned how to read and my sister did not. I figured out pretty quickly how useful reading could be. I started reading store signs and TV ads. I got so much more information just with those two things and I didn’t want to stop reading. I remember, when I was in pre-school, my teacher tested if I could read or not, which she had to do before I went to Kindergarten. She held up a note card with several different words on them. I didn’t want to go to Kindergarten because my sisters told me how awful it was (they were lying). In my 3-year-old head, if my teacher thought I couldn’t read, then I wouldn’t have to go to Kindergarten. So as she pointed to the word “bear,” I said “wolf.” Then when she pointed to “wolf,” I said “fox.” When she pointed to “fox,” I said “beer,” and so forth. I could read, but I was not very clever, and so went to Kindergarten.
From an early age, I started reading. I would read children’s encyclopedias long after my bedtime. My parents got them as a wedding present, and I loved them. There was one that was all about the Animal kingdom. In the back they had an index of all the animals they talked about, complete with illustrations and dimensions. I would take out the measuring tape to our living room just so I could see exactly how big these animals were. I read National Geographic magazines. We had a large collection of them. Up until the 80s, National Geographic was almost more like a travel magazine. I would read about all the exciting places around the world that they wrote about, and if I was too tired to read, I could just look at the pictures.
When I was in first grade, we moved to a different town. My new teacher literally thought I was mentally retarded because I was hyper, had a speech impediment and lied about everything. I even convinced her that I was from Japan for about two minutes. I wanted to read The Boxcart Mysteries. I’d already read a few and she had every single one! However, since I was “retarded” she had me reading Dick and Jane with the slow readers. This was especially frustrating because reading is what I really excelled at as a child. The other kids passed by me in math, arts and crafts, socializing, etc. Reading, though, was my own world. While other kids were still reading picture books, I was getting completely lost in novels. I was in a whole other world. Try getting lost in Dick and Jane. Mrs. Cardwell—for some reason I never liked her.
I don't think my parents liked her either. Most of the parents that teachers deal with aren't familiar with the way teachers work. Most of my teachers treated my parents this way. They also treated my parents like it was because of their bad parenting that I was such a "wild child," but I don't think anything is further from the truth. My parents raised us right. It's not their fault that I'm different from the other kids. My parents, in spite of their busy schedule made sure to spend lots of time with me. We shared a lot of good experiences.
My dad and I have a lot of things in common. One of these things is a desire for knowledge. Even when I was 3 and 4 years old, I wanted to learn as much as I could. In all reality, that is exactly who I am. I am a sponge. Just like a sponge soaks up water, I soak up as much information as I can, and I don’t let it go. Other people seem to learn things and then forget them later. I’ve never done that; I’ve never squeezed out the sponge. In second grade, we learned the countries of Africa as a class. Last year, I took an online quiz and I still knew all of them, except for Sierra Leone—and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel like information is my friend. When I forget information, it's like betraying that friend. Poor Sierra Leone.
Information, of course, is in books. Therefore, reading was the gateway for me to learn as much as possible, or to put it another way: the gateway to become who I am today. We had plenty of books at home: books about ducks, books about bats, books about Sweden, books about wars, books about Jesus Christ, books about science. Books were always my favorite gifts to get at Christmas (except maybe a certain train set).
Once I got into high school, the advantages and disadvantages of my sponge became apparent. The most valuable thing I had was the ability to learn. My peers, for the most part, seemed to struggle to learn the material and remembering it was even harder. I was different, and I was treated that way. A lot of my classmates ever since I started school resented the way I learned so easily and seemed to already know things. The teasing, name-calling and pranks were hard to bear. I felt really bitter about it for a long time, which made it even harder to fit in. But again, it has made me who I am. I was never in the “popular” crowd, but once I got to high school, I always had plenty of friends, which is probably because I’m funny.
Now that I’m an adult, I have no problem at all making friends. People like that I know a lot of things because it means I can relate to them. I can ask meaningful questions about people’s occupations, where they come from, what their degree involves, etc. because I already know about those things. It makes people feel like I know them when I know a lot about what they are involved in.It's ironic, isn't it? The secret world of reading and information used to mark me as different and pushed me away from others. Now, though, that wealth of information is what connects me to others. I can be on the same plane as others. It's not just the facts anymore. The information in my head is a network that connects me to other people. I've reached the point where I've connected to enough characters in books, scientists in magazines, and politicians
Friday, February 4, 2011
Let me tell all of you how my return is working out.
This year, I have the option to claim myself, or have my parents claim me. If I claim myself, I get $900 back on my return, and my parents get $340 back. If my parents claim me, I have to pay $400 and my parents get $3900 back. The agreement I had with my mother was that "If we end up making more from claiming you, we'll pay you the difference." When we ran these numbers today, my mother informed me that she meant the difference to my return. I thought she meant the difference to her return. Basically, because I'm not claiming myself, my parents are getting $3560 more and they are giving me $1300 of that, leaving them with $2260 more than they had before.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
My eyes have been opened. Now…don’t go crazy, but I think I may have recently been converted to Buddhism.
Here, let me explain.
We are all taught that all churches and religions have some truth in them. Most religions , in fact, have quite a lot of truth. However, what I’ve found in my few years of study, curiosity, and conversations with people of other religions is that the truths they share are truths that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints actively teaches. It’s like there are parts that have truth and are taught by our church, and the rest is false and is in contradiction or ambiguity with our church’s teachings. For example, there is no way to completely live the teachings of the Catholic church AND the Mormon church at the same time. I believe that Buddhism and Mormonism are completely compatible: that one can live completely by both at the same time. If I try to combine Buddhism and Mormonism: the only differences are regional traditions that have little to do with the religions. In general, for example, most Buddhists believe in reincarnation, and several Gods. However, these beliefs vary from place to place. Buddhists in Indonesia worship different idols than Buddhists in Nepal. Do Buddhists have to worship idols? Is that one of the tenets of their religion? No, it is not. Even the Buddha, himself, is just a man who achieved enlightenment, Nirvana. He taught others how they might try to achieve Nirvana themselves, which is simply a higher understanding and enlightenment concerning the connections between all living things. The belief in reincarnation is really the biggest lump in Buddho-Christian compatibility. This, however, is not an official Buddhist belief. The important thing to know and remember is that we are all connected. All things which are on earth were created in Heaven. This is a Christian concept that teaches the same lesson.
I challenge you to go through and look at Buddhist beliefs and tell me if you catch anything that is in direct conflict with the teachings of the church.
The thing is, the two religions cover completely different aspects of life. I thought that Buddhism was very much like ancient mythology like the Egyptians and the Greeks who basically invented several gods and goddesses to explain what was going on in the world around them. Some people expand that into Christian Monotheism, but we who practice know it is much more than just a way to explain things I don’t understand. However, the things Buddhism helps us understand have little to do with the natural world, and more to do with suffering and inner turmoil. Buddhism is about the quest to find peace through understanding the connections among all living things. It has nothing to do with worshipping deity, sins, or ordinances. It has to do with wisdom. Christianity is all about deity, and sins. Christianity deals with the cycles of faith (worshipping deity), repentance (after sinning), baptism by immersion, and the laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost (ordinances). What Christianity does not deal with is suffering. This has always been a vague concept with Christianity. The general idea is that this life is a test, more or less, and we need to choose right from wrong. God tests us, and Satan tempts us with challenges, trials, and suffering.
Take, for example, the movie, The Invention of Lying. The main character “invents” the basic ideals of Christianity with his new ability to lie. A cynic, atheist, or general audience member might think that this is trying to say that all religion is hooey invented to make us feel better about life. I think, however, that the message is about truth; truth always comes out, and it is beautiful. A world where only things that are provable exist is a terrible (and comedic) place to live.
At any rate, suffering may indeed be a refiner’s fire that God puts us through to make us better people, and so we can experience all that a mortal life has to offer. However, it is extremely difficult to simply have the force of will to give our lives to Christ, to place our burdens upon him.
I think that one way he helps us in this process is with Buddhism. That’s right, Buddhism. It’s all about getting over our selfish desires for comfort, happiness, or whatever else, and giving them up to a higher power—which in our case is Christ. Once we have learned to let go of these bad desires, we achieve Nirvana, a kind of peace and enlightenment. This peace and enlightenment is, I assure you, the same peace and enlightenment we get from Christ’s love.
I have no idea if I articulated this well at all, but there it is. Buddhism and Christianity don’t clash like most religion match-ups would, but they complement each other.
Let me know your thoughts about this! PLEASE do research before you comment or judge.
Men, it is generally agreed, are simpler creatures than women. This generally comes from men’s desire to understand things, as opposed to women who are more comfortable than men about not fully understanding the opposite sex. However—I believe that Satan is taking everything that men want and perverting it in two levels. One, is society’s representation of that instinctual desire, and two is a simulation of that desire that is almost always damaging and uses electronic devices to provide that.
The examples I am about to go are in random order, except that they are probably more or less in the order that they were presented to me in, by my friend, Russ, in a lesson.
The first attraction is to power and performance. One might say that this attraction is what drives men to accomplish great things. We are always trying to push the limits on what is possible. This attraction has been with us forever—and for good reason. In order to survive in the wilderness, we need to have the most powerful weapons, and perform with them with precision and accuracy using our own strength, power, and performance. One modern societal manifestation of this attraction is cars. Almost all guys like cars. We like fast cars, powerful cars, cars that turn on a dime, etc. We are all attracted to the power and performance. One way that this attraction is simulated—and probably in the most healthy way of all the simulations—is with computers. It is comparing hardware or software: RAM, fast applications, special commands, control, etc. This is barely a simulation as another societal manifestation of the attraction. In fact, it would be quite a healthy outlet into this desire, as long as it does not turn into an obsession, as it so often does.
The second attraction is to male companionship. In stone-age times, this was quite necessary. It is, of course, much more difficult to hunt on your own than it is with a group of men. It might be easy enough to imagine stalking and killing a deer on your own, but bringing it to camp? All the time alone is also not good. A hunting trip could potentially take weeks. That is why we have “pals.” It’s not just enough to tolerate having other men with you; we have to instinctually like it. In modern society, however, homophobia runs rampant. Most straight men in Western society have inhibitions when it comes to revealing feelings to other men, or showing a need for companionship. Thus comes one of the most common societal manifestations of this desire: “booze.” Alcohol’s first job is to take away our sense of judgment, and therefore breaking down the walls that we’ve put up against our fellow men so that we can share our feelings—and embarrass ourselves. Only a fool or an alcoholic will tell you that alcohol is completely harmless. Many lives, families, homes, reputations and barstools have been destroyed by the influence of alcohol. It is already not the healthiest manifestation of the desire for companionship, but the simulation is steadily growing in damage: video games. When I was in high school—which wasn’t too long ago—there was a huge group of friends I had with whom video gaming was the only source of “real” socialization. The only time I have interacted with many of these friends was by playing video games with them. Sure, I might know that they prefer the energy sword over a gun, or have a favorite level on Zelda, but I did not get to really know these people, and in reality, neither did they.
The third attraction is to war. This has a very real stone-age manifestation. Ten thousand years ago, there were all sorts of wild animals and savage neighboring clans to deal with, and protection was a very real necessity. We created spears, bows, arrows, catapults, tomahawks, rockets, cannons, and today’s chief societal manifestation: guns. Other common societal manifestations include martial arts, boxing, all sports, and the spirit of competition. Most of these manifestations, if not all, are pretty healthy. However, the simulations are usually not so healthy. Violence in electronic media is desensitizing our society to the realities of death. If you mention the phrase “raping and pillaging” to a group of middle school boys, they will laugh. If you mention that phrase to a group of Dark Age Scotsmen, I doubt they would have the same response.
The final attraction is the most serious for a few reasons. For one, God gave us this attraction for the most sacred reason. For two, it is perverted more than any of the others by Satan. This, of course, is sexual desire. These feelings are extremely powerful. God gave them to us for a beautiful purpose. The societal manifestation of this has always been sex with women. Common societal perversions include pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, sodomy, and the big catalyst for all of these perversions and more: pornography. Pornography is, of course, most accessible on the computer. It is the biggest web industry. Most sex offenders will tell you that they began with an addiction to pornography. This is the grossest of Satan’s attempts to pervert men’s natural attractions. It is a disease that runs rampant in our society today. It is the most serious temptation we are given in these latter-days.
Thus we see that all of these instinctual attractions can be twisted and perverted electronically into some fake simulation that too many of us men are substituting for the real deal. I want to see my friends in real life, not in a video game. I want to protect my family, not pretend I’m in a war on my computer. I want a fast car…AND a fast computer. I want to have sex with my wife, not watch some strangers re-create the experience for me.
With that, I’m out.