Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Dance

"I want you to be my friend," I stated, "I can't trust myself any further than that right now. And I won't make any promises because they have been proven to not matter." She replied, "But I mean, do you want today to repeat itself, or was today...just for today?" To me it seemed like a slippery slope. I didn't want it to be just for today, but I couldn't imagine living without this wonderful person-in whatever fashion that may be.
I couldn't lose this friend. This absolute, last, burned-so-many-bridges-that-this-is-the-only-one-left friend. She asked for an idea, something to hold onto, keep her looking toward the future. In my desperate mind, I said "What do you want and what can I do to ensure that you are an important part of my life forever?" I knew the answer that she wanted, but I simply couldn't give it to her, with an honest conscience. "I don't want to lose you."
"You saved my life and that is God's honest truth." She had, in fact, saved my life-much like you would save a child from drowning. But she was the only one who responded to my cries for help and I would be damned to lose that kinship forever. "I don't want to keep feeling like I have you, and then having the pain of losing you all over again," was her astute response. We had been down the road of promises, lies and broken hearts, and I wasn't going to pretend that we could try that path again.
"Then maybe today can't happen again if losing you might be the end result." I couldn't help but feel that I was already losing her. Had already lost her a long time ago. But I couldn't let go. And I wouldn't. She, rightfully so, responded, "I'm afraid you'll change your mind, find someone new, and find out that your life is really just fine without me..." I was confused. How could she possibly lose me? "I'm not sure what today was, but I know that it made me feel loved and adored, and I would give a thousand lives to feel that way again. Look, I don't know how things will work out, but I want to know that, in 15 years time if I had to reach out to someone for help, you would be right there waiting to lend a hand or an ear. And I want to do the same for you. I guess all that I can do now is show you that I'm not leaving. I'm not going anywhere."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

With your help, I might be able to make a long time dream come true:  being a professional writer, editor, and proofing agent.  Thank you all so much!

Good News

My blog page found at www.hubpages.com/profile/hermfry418 has been selected to be a "Hubnugget" for the month of October!  Thank you all for reading and leaving the feedback that you have.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Into the Abyss

The event in question

Day 1: Let's get this party started. A six pack of beer and a locked front door, I'm ready to rock.
Day 2: Upon waking, my head feels as if a 12,000 piece marching band has reached its crescendo. There is only one cure. That I can think of. Start the party again. At 9:00 a.m.
The party starts and its working out OK. The band has since stopped playing its, "Ode to the idiot you are," and my head feels fine. Soon enough, it feels more than fine...It feels like a party again. The band is back, but they've since tailored the music to my liking. I'm enjoying this...Uh-oh, I'm almost out of beer. Beer is such a waste. I might as well get vodka, as it is a much better value if you consider the cost per gram of alcohol. Why don't they include that sign under the product, much like they do when you buy cheese. $3.49, or 12.9 cents per ounce. I guess I'll never understand.
Day 3: Day 2 never really ends, though it is interrupted by a fit-full period of rest, totaling approximately 2 hours. "The drums, the drums, the drums," courses through my mind non-stop. More alcohol is the only thing that can shut it up. And shut it up it does. I never get back to the partying point, but at least the madness is at bay. I am stricken by the sense that this will all end badly, possibly catastrophically, though I have no choice but to continue, to delay the inevitable.
Day 4: Sitting in a chair, I haven't bathed in days, watching re-runs of the blank television screen between bouts of medicating myself and smoking cigarettes. Reality has taken on a new form. It is not real, none of it is. But it is the only reality that I have. I feel that my head is a vacuum. Nothing is in there. I can't stop my self from pondering the eternal bliss of nothingness. I have not slept. I walk like a robot and my previously athletic, well-conditioned body refuses to do what I tell it to, or my mind refuses to tell my body what to do. Maybe both
Day 5: I can't go on, I have to find a way out of this! I ask for help from a previously spurned lover, who gladly tells me that I am pathetic. I beg her to help, to take me to the hospital. I am going to die. My internal organs are on the verge of failure, and I can feel that it is so. She relents. I am taken to the ER. One of the toughest decisions of my life. I am there for six hours. My kidneys and liver are both on the verge of failure. I survive. This time.
Day 6 and 7: I fitfully toss and turn in a bed, drenched in sweat and shaking like a maraca. I still feel like I'm going to die and hope that it happens soon. What have I done to myself? In one weeks time, I erased relationships and chances.
Day 8: I finish writing.

Scott Jeffries

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Inspiration III

I was born on October 5th, 1979, although my mother's expected due date was December 3rd of that year. Being so premature, I weighed a little over 3 pounds and could fit into the palm of my fathers hand. I know this only because I've seen a picture taken of my dad doing just that-holding me in his hand. One hand, and I didn't even extend past his huge, sausage-like fingers. This picture, although not technically a memory, was the last good one that I had of my father for many, many years.
Growing up in my house was scary, to say the least. Although my father never physically abused my siblings and I, he was very ill-tempered, yelling and cussing on a daily basis. Nothing we did was right, we were constantly chided and, I for one, lived in constant fear of my dad. When helping him in his vast wood shop, finding the exact tool that you were asked to find immediately was necessary -or you would receive a severe scolding.
I remember when I was 14 or 15 years old and being kicked out of the house. I had long since stopped following any rule or instruction from authority figures, and was evicted for leaving a gum wrapper on the counter instead of throwing it away. When I called later that day from a friends house, asking to be allowed to return home, I was told by my mother that "as long as you learned your lesson, your father said you can come back home." I was relieved, of course. What else was a poor kid who grew up in a middle class family and never wanted for anything going to do without a home?
When I returned home, I was subsequently kicked back out of the house for getting mud on the rug. You know, the place where you take your shoes off so you don't get the rest of the house dirty? Yeah, that kind of rug.
My father was absolutely insufferable...until I had lived on my own for a few years. And then I understood. When the man came home from work, where he put in 60 hours each week for as long as I can remember, he would spend 3 hours working in the yard. He worked as much as he did so he could feed four hungry, oftentimes ungrateful mouths. He spent the time in the yard as a form of what I can only describe as meditation. It was his escape. And it was, and still is a beautiful yard.
And then I had a daughter and realized just how hard it is to have a child. We aren't given manuals or required to take a course before we have children, although I officially declare my support of such an endeavor. I wasn't given a manual, my father wasn't given a manual, and my grandfather wasn't given a manual. So we do the best we can with the tools that we're provided from our fathers. We get their unwritten manual, so to speak. The challenge is in being selective about the sections of the manual we as adults decide to follow.
My father and I have a great relationship now. He has calmed down considerably and is very understanding and always supportive. We don't see each other frequently, but when we do, we both have a great time and many laughs at each other's expense. We enjoy each other's company. After almost three decades, I chose to look at the sacrifices my father made to support his family and not what I thought he had done wrong. I remembered the fact that he taught me how to shoot a bow and arrow. I recall how he showed me the beauty of nature and all of its animals. And I sure as hell know the difference between a 7/16" and a 1/2" socket...and where it goes when I'm done using it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I have been having an extremely difficult time trying to present my previous career qualifications to potential employers, because they immediately see my background and assume that I am going to steal from them. I have had 15 interviews in the past 30 days and have not gotten hired. In my entire life before this event, I had never gotten an interview and not subsequently been hired for the position. I have worked at 4 places in the past 7 years and been fired from none.
I have never stolen from an employer, even when the cash drawer came up short. I would take money out of my own pocket in order to ensure that the drawer was balanced at the end of the night.
However, I understand the meaning of perseverance now. In the past, I would have given up after 4 failed interviews. Now, I understand that the Lord wants me to continue forward, even in the face of adversity. I cannot provide a solution to someone in need if I didn't look back to the times when I really needed motivation. "Thank you lord, for thinking about me, I'm a felon, and doing fine."

Being a Felon

I never thought that I would ever write about something so personal as this.  I know that I have made mistakes in my life, but I never thought that I would make such a tremendous mistake that I would be forever hampered with a criminal record.  This, unfortunately, has been my consuming thought for the past 2 and 1/2 years.  You see, I was given a deferred judgment, meaning that the entire situation would be erased from my record after successfully completing probation.  Little did I know that this would be an extremely difficult task.

When I was arrested, I was in a blackout state due to excessive alcohol intake, and have no recollection of the event.  Essentially, I returned home from my Grandmother's funeral and felt extremely depressed about the great number of people who had died before their time in my life.  I drank to an extreme that I had not before, and have about 8 hours worth of amnesia in that night.  After a few hours, I came out of my blackout in a hospital room, handcuffed to the bed.  I was incredulous.  There was a Scott County sheriff there, and she took off my handcuffs because there was so much blood everywhere.  Apparently I had broken a window out of a business with my bare hands right before I was arrested and cut my hand and forearm to shreds.

When I arrived at jail, I was amazed to see the seeming assembly-line nature found there.  I was now a number among many other criminals.  I fantasized, in my mind, of the simplest way to commit suicide, though my passive nature forbade my to go through with the thought.  For that I am thankful.

After waiting for 27 hours to see a judge and considering many avenues of self-euthanasia, I learned that I had been charged with 3rd degree burglary.  My life had been turned upside down.  I couldn't imagine that I had done such a thing!  What an absolutely strong enemy, the one that can be found in yourself!

I spent 2 years being afraid of myself, the law, and chance.  I realized, in those 2 years, that fear is not a good motivator.  Following my heart and not second guessing myself has kept me striving for a better life, even when I may have previously given up hope.  I definitely believe that everything happens for a reason, even if I don't understand what that reason is immediately.  Eventually, I trust, I will understand life in a way that will allow me to look at defeat and smile.  Until then, "Que Sera, Sera...Whatever will be, will be.  The future's not our's to see.  Que Sera."

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Case for Relativism

From an ethical standpoint, relativism is the concept that right and wrong, true and false are determined entirely from an individuals belief system. The development of that belief system may come from family, social groups, cities as a whole, nations, and possibly the world at large. Essentially, if a person were raised in a culture where burning the dead is an important act in ushering that person into the afterlife, relatively speaking, it is a moral act. On the other hand, if burning the dead is considered sacrilege, this would be considered an immoral act. So how can one group do something that is considered moral, while the same act is immoral within another circle? The question that ultimately arises is thus: Is there an absolute right and wrong on any issue? Does "truth," as we commonly refer to it exist?
The answer is hard to determine. For example, there are taboos against incest that are fairly universal, though reasonings differ. From an evolutionary standpoint, at some time in our distant past, our ancestors discovered that mating among siblings, parents, cousins, etc..., left the offspring likely of poor constitution. In order to prevent this from occurring, the act of familial coupling was looked upon as a taboo. The interesting thing is that the taboo in one culture may be entirely different than another, though the end result is the same.
For instance, in certain societies, the taboo is more of a dutiful act than a means of increasing the health of offspring. In her research of the Arapesh, famed anthropologist Margaret Mead discovered that the reason for the taboo on incest was based on sustainability of the community. When pressed for a concrete reason for this taboo, an Arapesh man responded as follows:
"What, you would like to marry your sister? What is the matter with you anyway? Don't you want a brother-in-law? Don't you realize that if you marry another man's sister and another man marries your sister, you will have at least two brothers-in-law, while if you marry your own sister you will have none? With whom will you hunt, with whom will you garden, who will you visit?"
Back to relativism. While both avoidances of incest are moral and right in each society, the reasoning for the taboo differs. Conversely, in certain societies, past and present, incest is considered to be a moral act that continues the bloodline of a ruling or monarchical class. While most people in the western world would consider incest wrong, can they really say that it is wrong for others to view it as a moral or ethical act? If this action props up the culture and history of such a kingdom, should that be considered a good thing?
Relativism is limiting, however, which may be considered the only way for it to be a valid ethical concept. In every society in the world, it is considered unethical and unjust to take the life of another without a valid concern for one's own safety and the safety of their loved ones. Even in totalitarian societies where state executions are doled out for what the Western would consider to be minor infractions of statute, there exist social constructs which make it ethical in that society to perform the act of execution. While you and I would consider the removal of a person's hand by way of blade as punishment for stealing a piece of fruit to be absolutely reprehensible; it is ethical and common among certain nations.
So, you say potato, I say potáto? Not quite. The point is thus: there is no absolute truth in the world. While, in order to protect our own psychological health, we assign truth values to certain acts, conditions, or states of being; it is impossible to say that there is a truth that is universal. While many people would argue, the concept can be broken down to the ridiculous.
Let's take three people into account, myself, person A and person B. The question is thus: Do you like donuts? Person A says Yes. Well, I hate them, and the truth to me is that they are disgusting. Person B does not like donuts either. So we have one person who believes donuts to be delicious, and two people who believe them to be unappetizing. Because there are two against pastries and one for pastries, do we, because we are greater in number have a monopoly on truth? Absolutely not. My truth is no more valid than the truth of another.
Of course there are always exceptions to any rule, and a number of you will say, "Well what about this or that horrible act that occurs in such and such a place?" If one avoids playing devil's advocate the concept is fairly simple to understand. The hard part that we have, being mostly ego-centric people, is that we simply cannot believe anyone else to be right if they disagree with us. Step out of your own shoes, so to speak, and realize that truth is everywhere, fluid, and dynamic, and changes within the same culture throughout history. Understand that today's truth could very likely be tomorrow's falsehood.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Inspiration II

My cousin Jeff was born almost exactly 6 months before me.  Due to this fact, we were absolutely inseparable friends and spent, on average, 5 days a week at each other's houses.  We enjoyed a lot of different activities and we had fun regardless of what we did together.  We experienced a lot firsts together, as well, one being smoking cigarettes, though that is not tantamount to this story.
Jeff was a fun-loving, helpful boy who would do anything for someone in need, although he also had a temperamental side.  Jeff was very smart; he could tell you the batting average of Reggie Jackson during his first year in the Major Leagues and then go on to inform you of the man's slugging percentage, on base percentage, home-runs, singles, doubles and triples.  He was a veritable lexicon of sports statistics.
Jeff also had, in my estimation, an IQof between 70 and 80.  Regardless, to me he was the perfect friend; when people first started to tell me that Jeff was a little "slow," I didn't understand.  He certainly could run fast and when he hit a home-run in our makeshift, backyard ball diamond that included its very own home-run wall, he rounded the bases much faster than me.  Slow?  I don't know what world these people were living in, that was one quick boy!
Due to his social and speech inequities, Jeff was often made fun of in and out of school.  He paid the people no mind, though I was infuriated at the rude comments and sideways glances he would get in the halls at school.  That was the thing; all of these things slid off of Jeff like water off a duck's back.  He would simply go on with his day and have the fun that he was entitled to have.
Although he was considered, by some, to be "disadvantaged," he was successful in anything that he tried to do.  And, here's the huge  part, regardless of what other people considered to be a metric for determining whether an action was successful or otherwise, Jeff found success in his performance regardless  of what the standard notion of success was.  He could fall down the stairs and be happy that he did it the best way that he could.
I struggle to this very day in finding peace with my own success.  Jeff found peace on the inside, whereas most of us look for peace on the outside.  We may never be truly happy with our accomplishments, regardless of whether they are amazing and profound.  Jeff could.  And he did.  On a daily basis.
On January 26th in the year of our Lord 2001, Jeffrey Scott Galle was killed in a head on collision with a tour bus.  I'm assuming he died on impact and felt no pain.  I also assume that, as he passed into the great beyond, he was more than happy with what he had done on this earth.  How many of us can say that?  I, for one, cannot.
I can't wait to play football with you again someday.  And I can't wait to hear you say again, "Jeffrey Galle for the Chicago Bears scores!"
requiescat in pace

Jesus was a Good Man-or-How I went from Catholicism to Atheism and settled on Christianity

Jesus was a good man.  Five words were all that it took to convert me back from a five-year Atheist to Christianity.  I had chosen in my early 20's to ignore the idea of God and shun those who practiced religion in any way.  I decided that I could no longer put my life and well-being into the hands of a tyrant, and went on a journey that took me to many places-some wonderful, others terrifying.
I was baptized into the Catholic religion when I was born.  We attended church every Sunday and I also attended at school every Wednesday.  I remember very early in life being in awe and fear of the enormous, gothic church and memorizing the Stations of the Cross, which were depicted in the huge, stained-glass windows surrounding the entire church.  Although, from an artistic standpoint, the church that I went to as a child was beautiful; it also created in me a great sense of fear.
I stopped attending church almost as soon as I was no longer required to go.  I did not like the structure of church and certainly wanted no one to tell me what to do or how to live.  Especially not some invisible man in the sky.  I would rather have destroyed myself at my own hands than put my trust into the hands of someone I had never even met before!  I still believed that there was a God, but did not care about him/her/it and was certain that he/she/it felt the same.
After my cousin passed away I went further away from religion, spending a little time as an agnostic but quickly progressing to an atheist.  It was perfect.  The religion that I now decided to follow was the religion of the scientific method.  All I had to do was punch numbers into a given equation and I could find EVERY SINGLE ANSWER!  I even spent a grand amount of time hoping to help work on the grand unifying theory in quantum physics.  I knew, given enough time, I could know everything that there was to know.
In college, I had a great professor who also happened to be a Catholic priest.  Father Voekig taught metaphysics, which I enrolled in without looking at the course catalog, assuming that it was some sort of theoretical physics class.  I was slightly mistaken.  It was a very confusing class that was only made interesting by this happy-go-lucky priest who often criticized the very religion of which he was a trained spiritual leader!  This was a great coup on my part.  I now had more proof that being an atheist was the right choice:  here was a man giving sermons in his free time but talking bad about the ultimate CEO!  You're not going to get fired if you're wrong.  No, you'll simply go to hell.  It was all very amusing.
I began following Father Voekig from class to class, as he was an awesome instructor.  I went from Metaphysics to Philosophy of Life and on to Ethics of Peace and Non-Violence.  Somewhere along the way, I discovered a philosopher named Soren Kierkegaard, a man named Thomas Merton and, though I didn't know it at the time, paved the very road I would need to get back to God.
I slowly weaned myself off of the sciences and became extremely excited about philosophy.  Science could answer a lot of questions, but it certainly couldn't answer the most important questions.  Who am I?  What is my purpose here?  How can I determine whether something is right or wrong, especially if found in the gray areas of law and justice?  I still considered myself an Atheist and approached any religious question from an anthropological point of view: It was my job to learn as much as I could about various religions in order to be a living receptacle of knowledge and trivia.
I picked my stepson up from school one day and he politely said, "Do you know what Dad?  Jesus was a good man."  Wow.  It took many, many years of Catholic indoctrination and several years of Atheism to harden my 27 year old heart, and in a five word sentence I immediately understood what it meant to be a true, loving Christian.  I didn't have to fall on my knees and pray at every opportunity.  I wasn't required to sit in a box and confess my sins in order to have another chance at Heaven.  And I certainly didn't have to use my terrible excuse for a voice to sing hymns every Sunday surrounded by strangers.  I simply had to use the example of Jesus as a model for life.  Thats it.
Even though I may have trouble in my life every now and again, it is much easier to handle with someone who doesn't judge looking over me.  Blaise Pascal is famous for what is now commonly called, "Pascals Wager," a philosophical theory that states that there are more believers than non-believers because the penalty to not believe in God is eternal suffering and the cost to believe in God is low.  This theory coincided with my belief that religion was simply a money making venture.  I now choose to have faith rather than religion.  William James, American philosopher and psychologist, put Pascal's Wager into a more beautiful form that I'm fairly sure I would not be able to improve upon:
"We stand on a mountain pass in the midst of whirling snow and blinding mist, through which we get glimpses now and then of paths which may be deceptive.  If we stand still we shall be frozen to death.  If we take the wrong road we shall be dashed to pieces.  We do not certainly know whether there is any right one.  What must we do?  Be strong and of good courage.  Act for the best, hope for the best, and take what comes...If death ends all, we cannot meet death better."