Rage Against the DMV

Years ago, I dated a guy who told me I had two speeds: easy going and raving lunatic.
I thought about the assessment for a moment. And I concurred.
“But when I get to raving lunatic it means I’ve been taking a whole lotta crap for quite a while,” I pointed out. “You might think it comes out of the blue, but it doesn’t.”
He muttered something about communication skills and I said something rather directly about common courtesy and consideration. Neither of us really got the other’s point, which is probably why we parted ways eventually.
The truth is, I’m really bad at anger. Completely awful. It boils down to several things:
1. I don’t like appearing angry. I prefer the perception of easy going, so I deny I’m angry for a really long time.
2. I am not comfortable with confrontation because it bugs me for the other person not to agree they are out of line.
3. The physical reaction to anything in this family of emotions is highly uncomfortable and I’d prefer to avoid it for as long as possible.
4. And I’m intuitive. We intuitives tend do respond to drama because we don’t miss anything.
Anyway, I heard somewhere if you place your hands on your legs palms up it’s impossible to get angry. I’ve also heard interlacing your fingers and holding palms skyward up serves the same purpose. At the time I wasn’t sure I believed it, and I dismissed the concept. But I got an opportunity to try it out a couple of weeks ago at the powder keg of peasant hostility: the Department of Motor Vehicles.
If you will recall, I lost my driver’s license somewhere between Houston and San Diego, which meant an afternoon at the DMV. After four hours of waiting, I discovered the documents I was told were acceptable to prove my identity were not.
I so wanted to go into director mode, yelling at people and demanding President Obama issue me a new license just out of principal. Or something.
But then I remembered the whole finger lacing thing. And I did it.
Okay, so this act, as simple as it may be, is like creating a straight jacket for your mental self. I’m not sure exactly why this vodoo works, but it totally does.
You simply can’t get angry with your fingers in the latter form of “Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the door and here’s all the people”.
All I can figure is anger needs momentum and if your arms are wailing all about the adrenaline increases from movement. Or it could just be awkward to have a conversation with your fingers laced up. I have no idea.
I said my peace. Calmly almost. But the bigger point is this: I had no post rage physical symptoms as I usually do when these things happen. No migraine. No shakiness. No exhaustion. And on the flip side, I wasn’t pretending not to be angry. It was just simply over and I could continue my day.
Wow
As I got into my car, I mentally thanked God for this little discovery. Because I hate— hate— my angry self. And saying stuff like “then just don’t be angry” really doesn’t work for me. I need a “thing”, a crutch, something to lean on because, honestly, I’m not perfect and this is my nasty beast brooding in the back of my mind, waiting for the opportunity to rationalize its unleashing.
I’m still not convinced you can argue a feeling is wrong. But as long as life is ninety percent how you respond to all the other crap perhaps I need to put the whole finger lacing thing as my first defense mechanism, as opposed to my assertive voice and aggressive mouth. That and being aware of what you have to do and what you don’t and just not being a part of the stuff you don’t will make all of the difference in the world.

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Forty Things from 39

I turned forty today. In reflection of the last year, I have to say 39 was powerful: much happened and I learned more than you can imagine. But I’m ready for a new year. It’s time. I’m over being 39.

Anyway, I’ve made a list of the forty things I learned this year. Next year I plan to tell you what I did with the gift of forty. Trust me, it’ll be awesome!

1. Listen to your gut. . .  2. Life is easier with zero expectations of other people. . .   3. You want something? Do something. . .   4. Seriously— Matthew 13 is about right in regards to people. . . 5. Losing weight is far easier at 35 than it is at 39. . .  6. Anyone who judges you about seeing a therapist probably needs to see your therapist more than you. . . 7. There are things which are simply out of your control and that’s okay. . . 8. Never use a knife to cut the bandage which covers your dialysis tube. . . 9. Say no at least once for every three times you say yes. . .  10. You can find friendships in really strange places. . . 11. How many peeps should you keep? Probably no more than five. . . 12. What other people think of me is none of my business. . . 13. Saying nothing says plenty. . . 14. Bottom line: it’s always my choice. . . 15. Pedicures change the world . . . 16. The less you care, the more you will accomplish . . . 17. Accept people for who they are . . . 18. If you know what God expects, all decisions are made . . . 19. So much of life is wrapped up in the past and so much about success in life is about overcoming that past. . . 20. The wilderness isn’t such a bad place . . . 21. Fewer words . . . 22. Analyzing motive is a waste of time . . . 23. Don’t settle . . . 24. You never know . . . 25. Lean in to the chaos . . . 26. Atticus Finch will always be a badass . . . 27. Bravery is exciting . . . 28. It might sound crazy, but “it” might be the best thing ever . . . 29. Peace is directly proportionate to how much trust you have in God . . . 30. Loving your neighbor and trusting God are one in the same . . . 31. It’s weird how things work out sometimes. . . 32. Day-by-day is how you move mountains . . . 33. Work in the now, not in the future or the past. God will work the future and the past is done anyway . . . 34. Know what you want and do that. . . 35. Often people who talk about “boundaries” excessively are the same people who expect you to adhere theirs but don’t share the same courtesy. . . 36. There is great danger in not looking deeply at things, but I can see how life is much easier if you don’t. . .  37. David Wong, although highly, highly offensive, is pretty right about stuff . . . 38. When considering the uncomfortable, messy elements which impact your life, probably you should operate out of mercy. . . 39. If the swamp thing rang your doorbell and invited you to coffee, would you go? Of course not. So why hang out with people covered in mud to begin with? . . . 40. Many things boil down to needing a narrative to be a certain way, regardless of the reality of all which actually happened. . .

Anyway, so long 39. Forty will be awesome!

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Karl Rove and other Impediments Regarding Changing the World

I haven’t written in a while. Like a good long while. Long story. I’ll tell you more about it, perhaps, next week. Or eventually. But I was inspired by an article in The Atlantic, so I’m writing:

The statement was “Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that”.

The words came from Karl Rove. About Hillary Clinton.

So when it was “suggested” Rove said Clinton suffered a brain injury, he could say, “Oh no I didn’t”. Because he didn’t say she had a brain injury: he merely suggested we know more about why she was in the hospital so long and leaving wearing glasses he considers typical of those who experienced a brain injury.

Now, after creating the flurry, he can walk away from the drama, allowing others to create their own conspiracy theories regarding as to why Clinton spent thirty days in the hospital.

Which is the point.

There’s a term for this technique in politics— I don’t remember what it is anymore— at work I refer to it as “mean girls”. And as we enter the enduring season otherwise known as gearing up for the election year, maybe that’s what I’ll keep calling it.

Because, really, that’s what it is. No better than teenagers who start rumors out of jealousy or spite as an attempt to get what she desperately thinks she wants.

Yes, I said “she”. This typically is done by females. We’re more verbal. And tend to veer more towards passive aggression. Sorry Rove. It is what it is.

There is genius in the skill of hiding the hand but throwing hideous mud. He worked on the campaign where suddenly Ann Richard “may” be a lesbian. And the one where flyers about John McCain’s “love child” of African descent arrived in mailboxes in particularly selected areas.

And just like some of the teenagers I deal with regularly, often the narratives can’t really be traced back to their source, but no one really doubts the origin either.

Because the beauty of mean girls is this: typically we forget about the inference when other people, far less socially astute and perhaps desperate for approval, run with the narrative, adding to it their own inferences.

I’m picking on Karl Rove. Sorry. He is, with very little argument, the master of mean girls. Those who are the best get to be the example.

I used to think we all needed to rise up and set people like this on fire. Or something equally as dramatic as the drama they create. But I changed my mind. Because you can’t win by some violently concocted play of justice.

Totally. You. Cannot. Win.

They will become the victim. You will become the predator. Just like that. Despite everything. And, amazingly, people will believe what they see on the surface and take it as Gospel without considering much.

And, get this: none of it has anything to do with politics. Or philosophy. Or ethics outside of stuff most normal people grow out of by the age of sixteen. Or anything really beyond getting something. It’s not even personal. It’s just about obstacles and overcoming them.

This is probably why Jesus spent so much time advocating peace. Because by walking away from the theater of the absurd, by saying nothing, so much more is said:

I don’t have time in my schedule to play this game. I’ve got crap to do. You wanna get stuff done? Fine. Let’s go. But why not leave the exhausting drama behind, shall we? Because it’s just a distraction.

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The Most on Monday: Big Bang, Trust, ‘Ghetto Klown’, LBJ, Cheatin’, Mr. Rogers, and DAVE

So I’m exhausted because I was up really late writing a paper for grad school. From this I learned I am too old to pull an all-nighter.

Anyway, here’s the stuff I found worth repeating last week:

The most I plan to read regarding science this week: Gravitational Waves Offer New Insight Into Big Bang by Traci Watson

Here’s the deal: I don’t understand this. And here’s another deal: I don’t care because it doesn’t change anything for me. God didn’t make us privy to all the intricate details of creation because the Bible isn’t a science book. And that’s cool. Old earth, new earth, big bang, whatever: it’s His. That is all.

The most valued characteristic in voice is trust. How does one develop trust? Through vulnerability.  Jeff Goins writes about such in Don’t Avoid Painful Writing.

The man I mostly forget about and then remember, “Oh yeah, he’s brilliant”: John Leguizamo has a one-man show which is supposed to appear on HBO eventually. Anyway the information is here

Most honest this week: “The Freedom of Authenticity (and my seven Greatest Fears)” by Joshua Becker. I respect honesty. And Becker talked about his struggles very openly.

A reminder that often it takes the craziest man in the room to get the most difficult stuff done: How LBJ Saved the Civil Rights Act by Michael O’Donnell. Lyndon Baines Johnson was not a nice man. His mouth was filthy. He was paranoid and highly aggressive. (Google “The Johnson Treatment”— hopefully you won’t get anything weird.) Thus, if anyone was going to implement civil rights legislation during the sixties, it would be ole badass Lyndon.

Not the most surprising in regarding to cheating, but I’m always amazed at what lengths people will go to get stuff: “Catching a Cheater Online” Jessica Lahey 

Most hardcore I shall be today: Not to be all judgy or anything, but there is a special apartment next door to Hitler somewhere in the nether world for ANYONE, and I mean ANYONE, who has the sheer nerve and AUDACITY to hold a demonstration at Mr. Rogers’ memorial service. I didn’t realize Westboro did this. And I’m seriously horrified. Mr. Rogers is the man. He is one of the pioneers in educational television, appearing before Congress back in the day to speak on its behalf. He was ordained in the Presbyterian church. And he was freaking nice. And comforting. Everything he wrote and said was uplifting, as opposed to, well, me, who just put Fred Phelps in supernatural public housing with Third Reich leadership. Anyway, I’m done. Read the article here.

And, again, you people know I think Dave Grohl is the MOST. And you probably get sick and tired of me posting about all things Dave. But I love this interview so here’s eighty minutes of Dave.

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Sabotage!

Not long ago I screwed something up. Royally. And when I say “not long” I mean two weeks ago.

It’s complicated and a combination of checking out for a little while, suddenly realizing I’d taken a mental vacation from a bunch of stuff, and then panicking over the fact I’d messed up in a way which was totally on me and even coming close to blaming someone else would definetely fall into the category of “lying”.

Honestly, I panicked. I really did.

Now if you were telling me this story about how you created a minor disaster, I’d be saying, “Dude, just send an email/ call/ whatever— this is totally fixable under the circumstances.”

Which is rational advice.

However that’s not what I did.

I perceived all of this as a huge big deal, and avoided it for ELEVEN DAYS.

Literally. I did not send one solitary email regarding an issue of relative non life-threatening importance for ELEVEN STINKING DAYS, despite knowing the problem, and, get this: POSSESSING THE SOLUTION.

Instead, I worried.

What would be the response?

Would I get lectured for my flakiness?

Will this destroy God’s overall plan for my life? (Yes, I’m also a tad dramatic in my head.)

Eleven days. I lost eleven days of my life I will never get back worrying about sending a stupid email.

Why on earth did this happen?

An odd combination of pride, fear, and vulnerability perhaps, none of which were particularly rational. Perhaps it took eleven days to muster enough courage to finally admit I’d messed up incredibly, wasn’t blaming anyone else, and don’t have any fabulous excuses.

And then, within three hours, the problem was completely fixed and forgiven.

A day later, can’t believe I did this. Actually, I can. What I can’t believe is I DO THIS STUFF ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m actually scared of being good because, specifically in this case, I totally set this one up. I did. And I haven’t a clue as to why other than maybe, possibly I sabotage myself so I don’t have to make decisions regarding opportunity.

At work we’re having some issues with first period tardies and kids not following the protocol. As I herded high school seniors to the tardy station, kids who just last year were perfectly capable of getting to school on time, but yet are late virtually every day currently, I thought about what this means.

Partially they’ve checked out. It’s late March— for them school is autopilot. But I wonder about fear of the unknown and if somewhere in the dark recesses of their adolescent brains is this place which is scared to death of adulthood and its responsibilities to the point they are willing be a little ridiculous, as to experience the tightening of the reigns just a few more times before it’s all over, even if the choice could jeopardize the bigger picture.

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David Foster Wallace: This is Water (and Tracey)

http://youtu.be/dexIA_OfLzg

Discovered this video at Rice AP training last summer with my teacher buddy Tracey Moore, who makes any training 100 times better.

Hmmm . . . maybe I’m on to something. Perhaps I should start a company which outsources Tracey to trainings just for the purpose of her awesomeness. And I could walk the earth looking for more people like Tracey who make life way better than what it is most of the time, and companies could hire them just to show up and improve morale.

It’s an idea.

Or maybe I could just be more like Tracey and evolve into the person who makes mundane so training better.

The options are endless . . .

Anyway, my point is Tracey Moore is awesome. And in addition to being in the room when I saw this the first time it also just occurred to me this video epitomizes Tracy:

Because life is nothing more than how you look at things. And how she looks at things is a talent I can barely fathom. Consequently, she has peace. That is all.

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The Most on Mondays

Stuff I found cool last week:

Most Intriguing “flip side” to an argument: Refusing to Photograph a Gay Wedding Isn’t Hateful by Conor Friedersdorf
Most great idea in theory, but probably incredibly irresponsible in practice: Kentucky Southern Baptists Draw Crowds with Gun Giveaways
Most realistic commentary regarding the tragedy of mental illness: Reckoning: The Father of Sandy Hook Killer Searches for Answers by Andrew Solomon

Most useful: Nine Mindfulness Rituals to Make Your Day Better by Leo Babauta

Most Important Orwellian of the Week: Putin Moves Against the Press by David Remnick
Most humbling graphic: 2013 Hours at Minimum Wage Needed to Afford Rent

Most confusing as to why we are discussing this, but weirdly I want to weigh in: Only Women are Called Bossy

And to close it all out . . . some days you just need Stefon the most!

That’s all I got. Peace out!

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What I See When I See Mark Driscoll

I know nothing about Mark Driscoll. Other than Donald Miller referred to him as the “cussing pastor” in Blue Like Jazz. And apparently his latest book had documentation errors in it which some are calling “plagiarism”.

Oh, and there’s talk about his church hiring a PR firm to “guarantee” his latest book makes the New York Times best seller list by purchasing 11,000 copies in random places as not to look shady.

And possibly the church paid for it.

And Rachel Held Evans called him a “bully”.

And Chip MacGregor called him a “weasel”.

Seriously, that’s all I know.

Anyway, the more I read about all the stuff regarding the latest book, the plagiarism, and how it all was handled, the more I want to rip the Reverend.

But then I remembered something a friend said to me a couple of weeks ago:

“We are more than what we do.”

As I considered all of this and what motivating factors circle plagiarism, cheating, hostility when getting caught, and all the rest of it, a fundamental truth came to mind:

This is fear.

I am not good enough to play by the rules because if I did I would not get what I want.

And this is sad really.

So when Driscoll attacked the radio host who made the accusations, both on air and in his blog, I got it: he was scared. So he bullied.

Otherwise, he’d be smart and just take ownership. My experience is people are very forgiving with honesty.

Whether the mistake was merely citing errors or out and out plagiarism I don’t know. Fourteen pages sounds like a whole lotta crappy documentation. But it doesn’t matter. Even if it was done on purpose this is still fear.

I am not good enough. And God will not help me.

It’s a natural human reaction to whatever change is going on at the given moment. And so when I see cheating, and cover ups of said cheating, or any form of dishonesty in general, I return to fear.

I know how sad it is to live in fear because I’ve been there. And I can imagine to go to such lengths as paying a company $200,000 to “guarantee” your product is a success on a very specifically defined level says mountains about the producer’s self-worth and confidence in what was produced. And as I look at it this way, like I do with the dopey kid who thought he could just write a research paper with a simple copy and paste off the Internet, much of what I see looks so different.

Instead of fantasizing about kicking the entitlement out of  Mark Driscoll, now I  want to say, it’s okay. You are good. You don’t have to fall in line with all of this societal bovine excrement in regards to what makes that book a “success”. You are a success. And God loves you.

So now go love your fellow writers. Respect their successes by not pulling this stuff. Embrace what you have done through God for His kingdom at Mars Hill.

And don’t pull this crap again because my patience for such is rather limited at best with adults.

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Three Out of Four Kind of Suck

It started in December with a simple conversation regarding the human condition.

“Read Matthew thirteen,” my friend told me. “It gives perspective.”

So I did. It’s the parable of the sower.

You can read it yourself, but to summarize a farmer is planting. Some of the seeds fall on the path and get eaten by birds. Some of the seeds fall amongst the rocks and they’d shoot up quickly, but die because of a lack of a root system and too much sun. Some of the seeds fell amongst thorns. Those grow, but choke the other plants.

And finally, others fall on good soil and produce bountiful crops.

So that’s one in four. One in four will be productive.

And the other three kind of suck.

One hits clearing and is eaten alive by predators.

One finds small bits of soil in places which don’t have much to give, shoots up fast, and dies when the reality of sunlight and lack of protection hit them hard.

One falls in thorns, choking the life out of other surviving plants, from start to finish.

So there you have it: one in four is productive. It appears half possess good intentions and fail innocently. And another quarter move with a selfish motive and choke the life out of those around them.

On the bright side, the chances of running into any level of Ted Bundy is a mere 25 percent.

However, only one in four are worth your time.

I’ve been thinking about this one since Christmas, and I mentioned it to several people I’m blessed to know and we laughed because as disturbing as it is, one-in-four being worth your time is probably about right.

The takeaway is this: don’t suck. Others can suck, and that’s fine, but you shouldn’t suck.

Be the one-in-four who actually is making a difference every day in some small manner. Because it’s the little decisions which mold the big ones. And if your little decisions are bad, I guarantee the big decisions will blow up in your face, eventually, because you are operating in the mentality of “I’m out for me and screw everyone else”, even if you try to make it look otherwise.

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Bovine Excrement Wednesdays

Bob Goff, lawyer, writer, all around good guy, and American consulate to Uganda, quits things on Thursdays. He feels led to make himself more available. So he quits things on Thursdays.

So if you associate with Mr. Goff, I’d avoid him on Thursdays. Just sayin’.

Thursdays aren’t great days for me. I have class and I’m tired from Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. So I decided to quit things on Wednesdays when my brain is functioning with slightly more clarity.

But then I realized “availability” isn’t my problem. I’m flexible like that. My problem is the anxiety of random theater of the absurd life has a tendency to throw. And unfortunately I do not handle such as well as I think I should.

So I created “Bovine Excrement Wednesdays”.

In my head and with select company I don’t say “bovine excrement”. I say the cruder term because there’s this rhythm with two syllables as opposed to five. But my mom reads my blog loyally (hi mom) and she probably would prefer I say “bovine excrement” as opposed to the other.

So on Wednesdays I deal with all the problems which irritate me. On Wednesdays. Not randomly throughout the week.

Just Wednesdays.

If I don’t have an answer on Wednesday, I deal with it the following Wednesday. And if you ask me about it, I will tell you, “Oh that— yeah— that’s a Bovine Excrement Wednesday problem. Since you asked, I’ll get to it to you Wednesday most likely.”

And you might be offended. And that’s okay because honestly you know truthfully if whatever it is you are approaching me with is truly bovine excrement or not. And if it really bothers you just use the excuse that I’m crazy and release it into the universe.

I’m totally cool with that.

My purpose in Bovine Excrement Wednesdays is to not screw up an entire series of days stressed out over problems I don’t know how to handle. I’m cutting myself a break: I’m saying Wednesday is the only day I have to make such decisions. I can consider my options if I want, but nothing has to be done until Wednesday.

If I still don’t have an answer on Wednesday, the problem is moved forward. Like this week. I have to make a decision regarding how to handle something. A friend of mine and I chatted about it and I have two options. And I’ve made a decision (one I’ll share with you eventually because the choice, in and of itself, is kind of important), but I don’t really know which direction to head with it.

And just typing that sentence gives me peace like you wouldn’t imagine.

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