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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

it's been a long time coming....

Ok, so my slacker self has finally stolen a few moments in which to while not catch up, because I will never be able to do that at this point, but add some of my own thoughts.
The topic that I want to contribute to is the one of God.
First off I want to add my own disclaimer that the comments that follow this are not meant to step on anyone's toes and that they are strictly my opinion, my non-expert opinion on the topic at hand. Please feel free to disagree with them, harass them, or just throw them out as a babbling pile of crap if you would like, as it will not hurt my feelings in the slightest.
It's funny Nathan that you bring that topic up. It is one that I've been dealing with a lot lately. I spent two months in Utah surrounded by one of the most cult like religions. If any of you reading this are Mormon I respect your beliefs but I don't agree with them. So anyway, spending two months, being the minority, being away from everyone and everything I know and care about, but knowing that I wouldn't have time to form lasting relationships out there because I would be leaving, was frustrating. The culture out there is completely different due to the views on God and the concentration of people that have the same view point and can have an impact on the society around them.
But that's not really what I wanted to address first, if at all, in depth. Wood, I know that we've had discussion after discussion about this, but I have to say I'm compelled to reply. Even with faith, even when you believe in a higher power or a religion, you do not have a one way ticket out of the deep darkness that can fall. Look at Mother Theresa, recently there have been reports that desipte all the good she did, she spent most of her life doubting the existance of God. Theresa was a wonderful woman would did a lot of good in the world, in the name of God, however she doubted.
I also know that you think that I've got a lot of faith, and that I make it "look easy" sometimes. And I'll admit while my faith does take me through some of the dark times, it more often than not results in a headache and at least one deathwish before I can finally find a brightside. What it comes down to is not a religion, it's not beliving in a set of values that are set before you to repeat again and again, it's belief in what you think is right and good in the world. It's the belief that there are angels to take care of you or to watch over you but I really think that more than anything it's listening to your instincts, that still small voice in the back of your head.
To me God is however you view it to make it make the most sense to you. I believe the idea of God is there to help bring order to the world and to help people have something to believe in. If you look at the origins of religion, you will find that many religions stem from each other. Abraham is considered the father of the three major religions today; Islam, Christianity and Judaism. And they are also three religions that typically cannot see eye to eye, how sad is that, and at the same time it backs up my theory. If everyone could believe in the same religion, I guess that would be nice, it would stop a lot of the wars in the world, but at the same time it would also make people too narrow minded. Instead I'd like to see the world take a pluralist view point, one where we can all have a different religion and yet believe in the overall same God. That each of us needs something different in our lives to believe in, even if it's just ourselves and our own free will.
As Nathan commented, which I didn't read until just now, that the sense of belonging does sound more like a cult than a faith. Faith is something that you have to find within yourself, it's not something that a religion can give you. Many religious people I know have gone to church for years and yet they still don't have faith, they are some of the most distrusting, uncaring people I know. To have faith is to have something in your life happen that gives you faith, same goes for love and trust. You have to have reasons for those discoveries and then you have to be able to identify them. I'm no physcologist, as my disclaimer above says, I'm not an expert in any of this. I just know that I don't blindly follow my religion and that my religion itself did not teach me how to love or how to trust. It may have built relationships that have lead to those things, but the religion itself did not teach me love or trust. A structure around beliefs is only as strong as the ties that bind (you may notice an ASA reference in there Wood). If the people in the religion aren't supportive you have nothing more than a cult, so it's important for you to believe and learn from self discovery and supportive surroundings, more than it's important to belong.
Now for a little more personal take on this, although I'm sure you learned a lot about me from my respondings. I have only ever been raise in one religion, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Now for the untrained eye it may seem that I just told you I was Mormon. However, do some research, it won't take much, and you'll start to see that they are completely different worlds. I could sit here and name off differences and try to help you see that I am not LDS, but I've found through my twenty two years here on earth that either you will see that I'm not Mormon or you won't. Not much that I can say will convince you otherwise. But for the remainder of this post I will go on the assumption that you believe me when I say I'm not LDS and that the differences are vast. Anyway I grew up RLDS, my whole family was RLDS and so for the longest time I didn't question it. In my church you are at the age of accountability at eight. This is when you can first be baptized and confirmed and be a full member of the church. Everyone thought at the age of eight I would be baptized and confirmed and that would be the end of it. However at the time I didn't think it was right, so I waited, I wanted to make sure that I was ready to actually commit and follow through on the promise that you make with God when you are baptized, I didn't just want to do it to do it. So I didn't do and didn't do it and didn't do. I didn't ask to be baptized until I was 13. Finally at 13, when I was attending my church's world conference I had a moving moment in which I turned to my mom and told her that I finally knew it was time. The point being that none of it has been easy. Dealing with people that are convinced they know things about my religion because they know about those Mormons, of which I reiterate I am not, dealing with my own doubts about the people that practice my religion with me and dealing with the fact that, as mystical and weird as this will sound, I know things about myself and other people. That last one is not to say that I can predict things, but there are times when I know what the right thing to say or do is, and it's not something I would typically come up with on my own. Now, I know that Wood has witnessed this and has heard me talk about it more than any other person, but it's freaky to me. I still, even though I have that faith you were talking about, even though I know that I have this gift, I still run and I still get scared. And perhaps it's all in my head, perhaps it's not a gift, but I see it as such and I try to embrace it, but a lot of times when it happens I find myself wanting to run away from my faith and at those times my doubts often become overwhelming. So faith is a very two edged sword. Thinking you may have an idea about what else is out there, perhaps even watching over you, it's daunting.
If you want and you don't have to, but i'll put it out there if you're interested in my religion, check out the website at
A few more thoughts on faith and then I promise I'm close to stopping this insane post. The only reason I am still a member of my religion is the fact that my religion is flexible. You can believe what you want to believe about it and not believe what you don't want to. It says that on our website. Maybe not in those words, but it does. For the most part you can also feel free to share your interpretations of our religion and not get people upset at you. Now if you didn't agree with most of the precepts of the religion why you would want to belong to it I don't know but according to the basic beliefs part of the website you can feel free to disagree with whatever you would like.

As a last note because there was a little discussion about the Bible and I can extend this to other relgious texts as well:
The Bible is a human interpretation of events that we as humans cannot fully understand. Or going with the pluralism, it's a way for Christians to write down their side of the whole thing, but as much as it would pain many people I know to say it, the Bible is a solely human creation and while God, or a God may have had a hand in the events the Bible has been rewritten so many times throughout history that it is no longer accurate even if the first original was inspired or written by God itself.

Sorry, but I just thought of one last thing for thought. My parents were watching a show on the History channel and it was saying that they found evidence that when the Spanish Conquistidors landed in Central America they were greeted by a Jewish prayer. Now to me that is incredibly interesting because how would they have known a Jewish prayer unless a Jewish person came and taught it to them. Now to me, and again take this how you will, it is evidence that the records in the Book of Mormon are correct. The Book of Mormon is a record of the Nephites and the Laminites (which from anthropology the conjecture is that they are two fo the central American tribes), and their history with Jesus. If Jesus came and visited them as he did in the Book of Mormon, then they could have learned a Jewish prayer. Now I know that there is no conclusive evidence, and that there are many other ways that they could have learned that prayer, but to me, I still think it's interesting to think that the Book of Mormon is pretty close to what anthropolgists are finding. Ta!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

What if God was one of us? What if, indeed!

Thank you - I don't think I could have asked for a better response to my God question. That was exactly what I was searching for - a different perspective on a complicated topic. By the way, I looked up that verse in Romans - intriguing, definitely raises some questions...then again, we could devote our entire lives to attempting to interrupt the Bible, be none the better for it and probably wouldn't find ourselves much further than where we began. Either way, I'll quote it during the third section of my post here today and then ask some of the questions it raised in my mind - originally I was going to comment on it, however my comments kind of led me into a mini-rant and I'd rather not bring that here, so I shall digress for now. Anyways - my plan for this post is to break into three parts - my own background and subsequent beliefs, a response to things in your post that struck me, and then Romans 13:1-7 and the questions is brings in my mind.

So thusly, I feel I must explain myself. My mother's family is deeply Methodist, my father's side is Catholic (although, only on Sundays). I was raised Methodist, going to church weekly until I was four when my parents divorced, then church only on holidays or sparingly, at best. Eventually, of course, not at all. In eighth grade, when I was living with the Kooys, a strongly religious family in their own right, I found myself yearning to join them and thus I set out on a quest to deepen my own, at the time, barely casual faith - a passive belief in something greater than myself. However, as I read through the Bible and the many "How I Can Understand the Bible" or "Scientific Evidence of Biblical Events..." books, I found myself more and more dragged down by questions. Every answer I found only gave way to more questions - it was a quagmire and eventually, I had to give into my rational mind - there was no God. This was sometime in the 9th grade and I became a true atheist. This led me to the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, as even while abandoning my faith, I was still plagued by the questions were there truly are no answers. Naturally, I was misled to the writings of Nietzsche under the pretense that "God is dead." In time, I came to understand that Nietzsche was saying, God was a creation of feeble men who thought little of themselves and thus created a greater being to hold responsible for their blunders and their triumphs. "God is dead" was merely - to my understanding - a statement that we, as humans, had evolved and advanced scientifically, past the need for such a deity which could serve no purpose in the (then) modern world. He urged readers to drop their empty faiths as it served no purpose towards the further hood of mankind. Then came Ayn Rand, who even furthered this concept in my mind, while not directly religious, the thought of man as the highest of beings not a creation or means of some higher power, but rather an individual greatness. I may be misinterpreting both of these philosophers, actually, it's very likely, especially since they are often listed as opposites on the philosophical spectrum - however, the mind see whats it wants, no? During these influential high school years I also had many conversations with a coworker of mine specifically on the existence of God. He was a young man studying to be a minister, not just some random Taco Bell employee who happened to have insight on the subject. While I don't think I'd ever admit it to him, out of pride I suppose, I think these conversations with him directly led to me becoming much more agnostic. Even with the Big Bang Theory, we are still left with the same questions - what started it all? The initial spark? I'm not saying there is a who involved as that would imply a conscience being intentionally created something, which intentionally or accidentally, led to all life and everything else that is. Now that's a big concept, no? Then comes the question of how do we even know how or dare I say if, this being wants to be worshiped? The Bible seems too clean and simple to be realistic, yet simultaneously completely unrealistic in the perfect image of life for any mortal being. To me, it seems like telling a kid to be good for Christmas or they'll get eternal damnation, I mean a lump of coal. This raises the question are people 'good' because there is a consequence otherwise, because there is a promised rewards, or because it is of free thought that they act the way they do? I'd like to think that most people who answer the third, but I highly doubt it would be honest. Of course, all of this is just the tip of a spiritual iceberg - whose to say there is an afterlife at all? You see the can of worms this has opened up - I look forward to an intense debate stemming from this topic, but for now I shall stop myself and move on to the next part.

Again - I want to thank you for your wonderful post. First, you're the second person to suggest vanilla vodka and root beer to me, so I guess I'll have to try it. Generally, I prefer my vodka straight and no flavor, but I'm up for trying anything once. Moving past alcohol, which is a wonderful topic all it's own, we have the true heart of your past. Now I must admit that while I think I understand the concept of everything, it's difficult to wrap my mind around certain emotions regarding your religious problems due to the simple fact that you come from a different background on this front. Also, I think it is necessary to include a slight disclaimer stating that many people hold very strong religious beliefs and in this open debate atmosphere there will more than likely be some toes stepped on, so it's important to clarify that nothing is to be taken personally, nor should anything be an intentional personal attack - this is when the friendly part of our welcoming message should be most noted. Religion is different for everyone and it's very personal - respect each others opinions, and don't be afraid to state your own.
The first thing that stuck out to me that you felt you missed out on (and I'm not saying you didn't) is being part of a group with a common purpose or idea. In my experience, this isn't religion that you are describing, but rather a cult. I've always felt that religion was meant to be a personal passage - at least in the Christian sense, which is the face of religion we are discussing here. I always pictured church as the guidance counselor in high school - just helping you along the path to God, but not a necessary element to spiritual growth.
The next tidbit that I noticed was your inability to have faith in concepts like love and trust, and for that I feel for you. While I don't entirely know if that stems from lack of religion, something else, or a combination thereof, I do know from personal experience that it takes a huge leap of faith to be able to do either. I wish I had words of wisdom for you, but those concepts are so young in my own mind and complex even to, I'm sure, the wisest of men that I couldn't even being to explain anything to you. I always wrote them off as part of growing up, something that comes with age, but it's different for everyone, I'm sure.

Side Topic #1 - What is the true source of love? Trust? Where do they stem from and how can one truly grasp either?

The next two slices I think I will discuss together - your use of nature and it's shortcomings and the belief that you are an end in yourself. I find both of these ideas far more inspirational than you, it seems. The miracle of nature - the fascinating triumph of the growing world around us - the trees, rivers, mountains, whatever - it's all part of a perfect system that fixes itself as it goes along, it's an entirely efficient machine that shows little sign of entropy, something humans constantly are fighting, but nature has little trouble with always just works. I can see where one might feel lonely or detached, but if you're looking for answers to questions without them, humans can't help you anymore than a tree and at least the tree can't hurt your feelings. Then comes the concept of you being an end result of some great system and yeah - there's some pressure there that I can see and could easily make anyone feel like a disappointment or an insignificant being in the grander scheme, but it goes deeper than that. This is where Rand's writings led me, so I'll do my best to explain my perspective, maybe it'll make you feel better about things. First, let's drop the end result of some great system part - too much pressure there and for no apparent reason. Second, the idea of being a disappointment can go too, we're are all still young if you put it in perspective, there's no rush to change the world. Thirdly, let's change our idea of what changes the world - you don't have to invent the Internet or anything, hell - doing what we are doing right now is a change, this conversation, word for word, has never happened before - we are way ahead of ourselves in my mind. You have to look at yourself as an end - a significant member of the human race and you can accomplish anything! Look at everything men have created in a mere 10,000 years - dinosaurs reined the planet for millions and millions of years and they evolved into birds - that was their greatest accomplishment. Every person in history was, at one point, just a child with some crazy ideas - from the greatest inventors, to the poorest peasants, we all start in the same place and we can all accomplish anything! We're not working for some divine power or towards some promised life - no, we're working for ourselves and that is all. It may seem empty, sure, but I love that sensation of complete control over my fortune, no destiny or fate controls my decisions. Yes, I might have a bit of a God complex...

Side Topic #2 - The Sims (and Sims 2, etc...); God complex, storytelling aspirations, or some deeper motive? What sells the game?

Being in complete control over my life really makes me feel more comfortable than any religion could possible offer me.
Finally you say "religion is this magic healing power that can give people hope" - in my life, religiously I have never felt this. Maybe I just haven't had a traumatic enough life, or I've been desensitized to dramatic events by television, but I have never required great amounts of hope that required some religious belief to fulfill. Honestly, I can't even see a situation that unbearable that I would have to turn to God - I suppose I can't actually predict how I would act to any event, but I feel pretty safe in saying that I wouldn't have to turn to God to help me along. Regardless of how bad anything gets, it can - no, it will, get better in time One just has to march on, keep your head down and get through whatever the storm is that dragging you down. It seems ridiculous, to me, that simply thinking that some greater power is purposely testing you via hardships will make it any more bearable. In the end, we are all truly alone...

Side Topic #3 - Watch Donnie Darko. Discuss.

...It is possible I am taking advantage of my religious upbringing and I just don't admit it to myself, maybe I do have more faith than I am even realizing, I can't say for sure, but that's my two cents.

Finally, Romans 13:1-7
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been establish by God.
Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who so will bring judgment on themselves.
For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what it is right and he will commend you.
For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment, but also because of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants ,who give their full time to governing .
Give everyone what you own him! If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Side Topic #4 - Doesn't this sound like George W's personal mantra?
Side Topic $5 - Greater good or personal gain? Are they truly one in the same as capitalism assumes?

Now I did write quite a bit of a response, originally, to these verses, but I realized that it quickly became a rant and I didn't like that, so I will leave it with you all and respond to it later - I will say this, however. I agree with the last past - pay what you owe, that's just logical. The rest, however, seems to be a bit of hogwash to me - question nothing of how the government is run? Maybe it's because I'm American, but that's the most absurd thought I can think of - our minds naturally question everything around us, to deny that ability to be applied to the society in which we live and work for, that's insulting, really - probably why I ended up ranting. Anyways - that's all for today, sorry for the long post - later. Ta.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

God, or is it god?

I feel like this is going to be a post that will last me several posts to clearly show some bit of what is running through my mind. You asked about religion and as Jana knows this is a truly troubling subject for me. So I warn you that while I do not have much time tonight as I still have to pack for my work trip I will revisit on many of occasions. I was raised by my family with out having much religion in my life. Both set of my grandparents were religious so one wonders how I grew up exposed to almost no religion. Well the answer is that my mom's parents were over baring so her way to get control of her own life was to stop believing in God. My dad was never devoted to his religion so in order to make life more simple he too just walked away from religion. They had not had a long life in the religious world seeing as they were married at 19 and starting their own religious free life so it was not a super hard adjustment for them to make. I wonder if they ever realize just how hard they made my life by not involving any aspect of religion. I have found that because I never was exposed to believing in things that cannot be seen and touched I have not developed that ability. I have a super hard time with ideas such as love and trust because I was never asked to simply believe in something because it was there. I was never a part of a group that all came together under the common idea of some unknown. I find that I am now always searching for something to grasp to. I want so badly to have a religion. I want there to be something that when all else is dark I can hold on to I can assign light to and have it's light shine back onto me. I dated a kid in high school and he was my first real exposure to religion. I was trying so hard for him to believe in religion. He wanted for me to be able to experience. However, I think in the end that it became a problem for us because as much as he wanted me to fully accept what he and his church had to offer I was always full of questions that could never be answered to my satisfaction. I found though that as my life went on I needed something. My friends and family were not enough because I never truly knew that I had their love and could hold their trust because as I said even to this day these are both concepts that I have a lot of problems with. I found that in times that people were turning to religion to help them through I was turning to nature. Now I do not want to claim that I am a pagan or that I worship nature, however, nature became the one thing that I could trust when there was nothing else around. Nature was what I could hold on to to keep my steady the thing that I went to for comfort. In times that my friend would pray for strength I would run into the rive and let it wash away my worried, I would hike down the deer paths until I found the moss covered beds that I could sit on until my head stopped spinning with the questions for which there were no answers. Nature never gave me hope the way religion offers to people but it did offer me a way to calm myself. I really wish I did have some sort of religion to fall back upon. I wish that I had something to believe in that went beyond myself and my trees. I often feel so alone in this world that I just want it all to end. I feel like at the end of the day when everyone has been stripped of everything I am singled out because I don't even get to hold on to that true hope that is the belief in something more. Even people who don't practice their religion get to hold on to their hope because they were taught to believe in something more. I was taught that there is nothing more than what I can do. I was taught that I am the end product and that if I cannot do it I have let the world down. That because I was raised "better" than to believe in something fake it is some how my job to save the world and everyone I come in contact with. I have been taught that I am all there is and all I want is to feel some love hovering over me. Some offering of light to help guide my way through this life and on to what I need to do next. I try everyday to open my heart up to both the people around me and to things that might exist outside of my realm of knowledge. Unfourtanitly after years my heart has truly hardened over and as soon as I get the slightest gleam of anything I self destruct. Jana has seen these selfdestructions. They are never a good thing and often can only be overcome with a bottle of rum (although i have a new favorite drink, vanilla vodka and rootbeer!). So religion, wow I am not sure that any of what I have said will make any sense and I guess that that can be attributed to the fact religion makes no sense to me. It is something that was lost on me along time ago. To me religion is this magic healing power that can give people hope when all hope should be lost. I have had to replace that hope with a stubbornness that goes well beyond what any person should be able to sustain. I have to hold on to this stubborn idea that things will eventually work out in the best because I can outlast fait. I don't get ot have hope that there is some greater plan and that there is someone out there that when my soul needs some help or protection will stand up for me. All I have is the idea that my soul can outlast any tortures that are put before it and push past all hardships that may occur. I am super jealous of religious people, and I get downright mad at those who do not value what they have. I understand that sometimes your church may not be going in the direction you want but I feel they should cherish that fact that they even have the ability to hold thoes concepts in their minds. Yes turn away from your church if it lets you down but don't claim that you had your God or the idea brought by your true core beliefs. Sometimes you must turn away from your established religion to uphold your core beliefs but in the long run you still have your beliefs and those will be the most important things you will ever have. They are the only things that will truly stand with you through the good times and the bad. I know it probably seems simple that if I crave it so much I could develop some sort of belief system if not a solid belief in religion but I cannot. I is too engraned in my very being to challenge anything that for any amount of time seems to be to anything but touchable.
alright this next bit is mostly so I remember to read it. A friend just walked through and I asked them if they were religious and they said sort of and told me I should look into romans chapter 13 verses 1-7 and that it could create even more questions in established religion. Alright anyway. I really ahve to get going. I have a lot to get done before 7am tomorrow morning. I hope you all do well until I next hear from you and I promise I will open my brain and share with you more of my thoughts on religion and God and the other fine questions you have posted as soon as I have some sleep in me, and maybe some nice hot tea. as for now I am off. Later! Amanda

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

You are the moneymaker...

Good evening. First and foremost, one of my fears has come to full realization as I notice that my only two contributors have apparently found my absence as a perfect excuse for abandoning me. Just kidding - I'm sure you guys are busy. Either way, I shall continue my obsessive posts as I have come up with more random topics and finally figured out my life forming story, although to be honest, it is more of a time period in my life that was most formative in my personality than anything else, sorry it's not a specific story like when I got my first dog or something, but honestly I think my mind sees the big picture in much clearer of a scope than individual details. Stupid head. This is, of course, raises my first side topic;

Nature vs Nurture - your thoughts?

This entire post has two possibilities, either it will be extremely long and rambling as I drift through aforementioned years of my life, or extremely short only hinting at my true, deeper thoughts. Based on the time (it's only 9), I'm guessing long. Now on the drive home today I came up with loads of questions to ask all of you - all of it really leading up to who are we and why are we here, but I think jumping into such a deep philosophical topic without first examining a few surrounding parameters, would be foolish - before discussing such things with eachother, I think it is necessary to discover where we each are on several different fronts. I forget, naturally, most of the questions that had plagued my mind earlier, thus you are left with a few random questions pertaining to absolutely nothing by my own crazy whims - feel free to play along or ignore me completely.

Does true, pure evil exist?
Fate or free will?
Soul = mind or body?

In my last post I finished with a heavy question involving the existence of God and I think a lot of these other questions with hinge on that response, of course, that question in itself being impossible to answer without sufficient debate, so I look forward to long posts and conversations on that. Moving on...

My story - let's start in first grade when I took my role of class clown in my family into the classroom with, well...terrible results. Thus, I decided instead to use my mind and with great success, although I found myself somewhat friendless and then I became a compulsive liar making my life seem more interesting via celebrity relations (Melissa Joan Hart is my cousin, etc...) with great results, until of course fourth grade when people began to get wise to my tall tales and unlikely life events. So I was left friendless again so in fifth grade I started a new scheme towards friendship - storytelling. I created this absolutely fabulous tale using Lincoln's history as a high school for my backbone. Basically, the story went that an elevator broke carrying a couple of popular kids, the school mascot (a real lion!) and one kind and understanding teacher. The elevator fell as a result of a bitter old janitor who was, in fact, a wizard (or vampire...I don't remember) who lived in the basement (a la Phantom of the Opera). I forget the whole story at this point, but it was good and detailed and, well, looking back I'm proud of my fifth/sixth grade self for coming up with it.
Now I told you that story to tell you another story which then leads into my actually story (confusing, I know). So I moved on to South Middle School (now Maple Street Academy of the Arts?) and many things happened. 1) For the first time, I was in school with my best friend - Josh, 2) my supposed friends from elementary had either gone to another school, were still at Lincoln or abandoned me for the "cool" crowd - that's not to say they didn't talk to me, but instead of a main member of the core group, I was merely a side note whom occasionally spent time around them, 3) I flourished in music - although this talent fizzled with my ability to memorize complicated bit of music (thank you Flight of the Bumblebee) but my inability to sightread (thanks for pointing that out Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp). Now, in elementary school I had two groups of friends - younger boys and older girls, I don't why this is how my friends grouped themselves, but it's undeniable - and to this day I find myself most compatible with girls older than me, although I my male friends are also older than, me so half of this is no longer true. Anyways, my fantastic ghost story was a hit! So popular in fact, that in seventh grade my science teacher told the story, out loud, to my entire class and when asked where she got such a bizarre story of local lore, she simply replied that her fourth grade son, who went to Lincoln told it to her and when she asked him who came up with it, he dropped my name. I guess, although I cannot confirm, that my story survived at least a couple of years with my name still attached - I was amazed. It had a bizarre effect on my psyche, always looking for that ability to create something everlasting. I think this had a direct influence on my failed attempt at creating a religion in the seventh grade (basically, Martians planted us here as an experiment and to prove our worth, we must return to them - it sounded good at the time, shut up). So this is where I am, a lonely, disillusioned young man and entering the eighth grade, everything changed...which brings me to my story.
Over the summer, I moved out of New Horizon Village and into the house with my mom's cousins, the Kooys. With four children, it seemed I had gotten my large family I had always desired. Naturally, I was the second youngest, and I was still an outsider not having grown up with them. This was also when I first began truly questioning my faith (seems odd after I just mentioned creating my own religion, but that was more fun than philosophical). This part of my story is the most awkward as the Kooys are religious, putting me even further on the outside. Athletically, I was a three-season busybody, but not where one might expect. Despite my loathing of it in the seventh-grade, I continued my terrible career as a cross-country runner. In the winter, I shocked everyone by joining the wrestling team (I was technically the team tutor, keep up their grades, but I was forced to actually wrestle). In spring, I was on the track team - I still don't know why. These were, of course, my only school sports until the bowling team the last two years of Norrix. To make matters more difficult, Josh was a no show on the first day and I had no idea what happened to him seeing as I moved out of New Horizon - and so had he! It turns out he went to Parchment for all of two days before transferring to Mattawan, abandoning me alone with people who did not seem to particularly care for me. However, despite all this, my story telling became more and more obsessive as I took a bizarre code language that a few of the cooler people developed, including code names, to a deeper level as I created a back story for my two names - Nona and Myra. I have kept up this story throughout my days and its now quite the adventure, although not really and most people get upset by it since it involves sisters becoming lovers which naturally ends in a double suicide. I like it - I don't know why. Anyways, the whole point of all this rambling, and I hope this makes sense because it did to me when I came up with - composition notebooks. Those were the two words that sparked this memory about why I am how I am - in eighth grade science, every Wednesday we would take composition notebooks and write whatever we wanted - talk about our day or our life or whatever and then turn it in and the following Wednesday we would get them back with comments - questions, asking us to flesh out our stories, or answers to whatever part of life's mysteries we were struggling to unravel that particular week, etc...I think it was probably these notebooks that lead me to create, not only this blog, but all of my blogs - particularly my personal one way back in June 2003. It may be shallow desire for attention, or maybe comments on my writings - people wanting to know more or knowing the answers to questions I ask, but whatever it is - I love that feeling. The thought that my writing, my thoughts cause an emotional reaction in people and they, in response, share that reaction with me. I wish I had a blog then, or even kept a journal - if I desperately search I might be able to find the composition notebook in question, but then I'm afraid it'll lose some of its nostalgic appeal like watching Rocko's Modern Life or something - it just isn't as good as you remember it. But I wish I could look back into Nathan's head so many years ago - I can go back four, when I typed like I was better than anyone reading it possibly could be, throwing out every four syllable word I could think of in every post as if that made me smarter than my audience, or that they'd care how smart I sounded when I was writing about Taco Bell drama, which will always sound as stupid as it is. It's amazing to see the writing evolve into what it is today and how it will change, I'm sure, as I get older. I think these blogs - over time - will provide the greatest insight into the changing human mind, one more reason to keep this baby flowing. So that's what I have for tonight - sadly, an hour wasted on that pointless story, but that's how I choose to spend it - bed time, ta.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Weird Al - Genius or Cheesy? Why?

Top Five Shows!
1. The Simpsons
2. Gilmore Girls
3. Mythbusters
4. Arrested Development
5. Futurama
Runner Ups - Family Guy and the Critic

A little explanation of each, I think, is in order. Starting at the bottom we have the runner ups - both of which appear here for very specific, different reasons. Family Guy falls here simply because of it's sharp decline in quality upon returning after being canceled. Perhaps it was high expectation, perhaps it was the distraction of the occasionally brilliant American Dad, but I think it would be hard to argue that the new episodes can hold a candle to it's former self. Three years ago, Family Guy would have been #2, no question, but it's obvious publicity stunt of a movie (which was not nearly as good as it could have been) and it's disappointing return to prime time we have the show that tried to beat the Simpsons at it's own game and failed miserably because they took the only occasional flaw the Simpsons have - the stupidity of Homer runs away with an episode - and they made it a series, ignoring the true gems of the show, it's side characters. They missed the point, it seems, and that's why it's merely a runner-up. The Critic falls here not because of it's disappointing performance, but merely due to lack to episodes - just over a season? It's a shame, because I didn't watch it when it was originally on (somewhat responsible for it being canceled, yes) but upon further observation I see - it's fucking brilliant! It is actually the home of my favorite line anywhere of all time - "my psychologist was right - God does hate me." It's a shame it had such a short life, it really is. Moving along the list - Futurama - I think speaks for itself, perhaps better than the Simpsons, but didn't survive long enough to prove it (when it's one, it's really fucking on). Rumors of a movie or it's return to prime time are unrelated - the show was groundbreaking and it's yet to even been tested as far as competition goes. Arrested Development is another show that had it's true potential squandered by low ratings and the cancellation bug - hell, it was originally canceled after it's first season, three Emmy's later and they were brought back in a heartbeat - of course, it never did climb out of it's rut and it did get the ax in the middle of it's third season. Shame, really, because I have 53 episodes showing a gorgeous story arc that would make most graphic novels embarrassed. Running jokes, insane side characters and the main family and you have the funniest show ever on television - I mean that. Mythbusters is a recent love, the past year or two, and it's just a fun watch - plain and simple. I love learning and I love experimenting - hey look, a show that combines the two and it's all completely useless in the practical world - perfect! Five seasons strong and still going, excellent. Gilmore Girls, my number two, stands here because...honestly, I love the show. It's fun, it's witty, occasionally trite, but always worth it because you love the characters and they went out exactly right - could not have been happier with a seven season series. Well done. Finally, we have the Simpsons - the high water point for which all other comparisons are made and I'm not going to go on and on about my favorite episodes or anything, just simply put - 18 seasons, 400 episodes, 1 movie that didn't disappoint and still more to come. The longest running sitcom in history and for good reason, the Simpsons are my clear number one.

On the topic of money, I've never been good. I'm good at earning money, I've had a job since I was 15 and haven't gone more than a month without one since (and I only did that once) - I've only worked three places, although technically five different jobs since two of those three I did both in Rochester and here in Kalamazoo. I've never been good with money though, always spend it all as quickly as possible and then wonder why I can't afford food a week before next payday. This got me many things - my 600 some CDs, my DVD collection, etc...but it often left me more hungry than it was worth and my credit report shows a similar unreliability with money. Lately I have been keeping close track of my spending simply using a spreadsheet, budgeting everything out and even saving some up (for this week's vacation, so it's all spent). All in all, I'm getting better, although I still tend to forget certain things - particularly, automatic withdrawals which I obviously shouldn't forget since I can't stop them or anything. Oh well - part of growing up, right?

As for the Internet - my homepage is Google and it is the most useful thing out there. My brother works there and he always sends me links to beta test neat stuff they are working on. Google Documents is a genius idea and I've already started convincing people at work to use it to share things, blogger of course is nice as is Picasa. Everything Google touches makes the Internet that much better, you can't deny it. My second favorite website has to be wikipedia, just as useful - I say, excellent for research and for better learning, well - just about anything. Thirdly, which is a great time waste simply because I constantly check my own page as if I didn't know what I was listening to. I also enjoy MetaCritic. That's pretty much it - and while I can't think of anything more I want from the Internet, I'm sure when the next big thing comes, I'll be all over it.

Good question - and really, it changes for every artist. For instance, if I'm listening to Bright Eyes - I know that it will be lyrical heavy and while, on further listening I'll appreciate the music with it's swelling orchestra and echoing bells that flourish in the background, I know the lyrics are what I'm supposed to be listening to. Then I throw on something like the Fiery Furnaces where the lyrics are more of a second thought and the music is the focus, it's easy to really focus on the piano line or some crazy guitar line meant to sound like waves crashing against a boat. I'm not as into lyrics as one might think, I'm just a music maniac - every part of it speaks to me. I'm indeed a failed musician, spending time playing no less than five instruments, only to find that I'm tone deaf, lack rhythm and get frustrated and lack perseverance to boot. I spent my most time playing percussion, so I usually can pick out a good drum beat out of any song. It's all music - that's the bottom line, without the lyrics, the music would (with the exception of Pink Floyd and the Beatles) usually be boring and without the music well - the lyrics would be lacking most of their emotional punch. That's really the brilliance of pop music, it's combination of the subtle hints of shared feelings through the music and then the more up front lyrics backing up those emotions into a perfect three minute punch in the gut. Excellent question, thank you.

Alright - something a little deeper - religion. In particular, God - discuss.


Monday, August 13, 2007

I am getting paid to write this!! Ahh the sweet college life

Alright, I don’t have much time to write because I am currently at work actually I am training at work so hopefully no one notices that I am doing this rather than my Incident Report Training.

First I am going to answer questions,

Mythbusters: LOVE IT. I love it so much. It is interesting to me to see the different ways they test things. I mean they don’t really prove anything empirically but it is still nice to see well this could be true or this probably isn't true.

Five Fav. TV. Shows: 1)Man Vs Wild. ( I want to marry Bear Grills!),

2) Grey's Anatomy

3) Extreme Makeover Home edition

4) Battle Star Galactia (The new one but I have only seen the first season)

5) Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends

Nellie McKay: Never heard of it

Money: I am horrible with managing money. My mom once said money is only paper worth comes based off of what you have with it. So basically when I see something I really want I buy it, I have almost no money in my savings and I am always buying stuff for other people. But I figure I am a college student I don’t really need money yet. I can be poor a bit longer. I know that when I have to I can shape up and act like a responsible person with my money.

Fav. Websights.

               First I love

This is my sisters art blog. I like seeing what her and her friends are doing.

I love your blog.

The most useful is google. I love to google things, I will be watching a movie and see something in the background or hear some fact and I will google it to see if it is real or not.

I waste all of my time on facebook just looking at peoples pictures.

I don’t think I can ask anything more from the internet, it holds all the information I desire, recipes, maps, directions, phone numbers, definitions, quotes, movies, music, friends, satellite imagery, news……. It is my god it knows all sees all and is all.

Alright so quick rant, I am at work right now and I keep getting calls in. Why is it that when I answer Adrian College how may I help you that everyone things I know the answer to every question? I would like to make it known to the world that when you call a switch board all they have is a big set of numbers you can't tell me that someone named Lori called you last night at ten and expect me to know who it is.

Sorry about that rant.

Alright, I guess it is my turn to ask you a question, When you listen to a song for the first time do you listen to the music behind the lyrics or the lyrics first?

For me I always hear the music first. I think that is because growing up with my dad he loved the music all the CDs he owns have great music to them. I have recently found that I know almost none of the words to songs but I can hum every bit of the music I can jam out all the different instruments to the point that if I knew how to play them I know them so well I could just pick up my instrument with no help and rock them out to you. I know that you are both way into lyrics and I also do delve into them once I get past the greatness of the music however, when I first hear the song it is all about the music. What about you?


Thursday, August 9, 2007

I get by with a little help from my friends

So I finally get to come back to humanity. I will be leaving Utah soon. As much as I’ve hated it here it’s become routine. But I’m ready for it to end. I want my routine to be with my friends. It’s lonely out here and out of all the things I’ve struggled with since being here that is the one that is the worst. Being alone is so absolute. You are cut off from everything you hold dear and everything that you’ve known. It’s a helplessness that even I can’t solve, or deal with. Don’t get me wrong, I have dealt or I wouldn’t be writing this, but there is a real emptiness that comes with being lonely. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have been saying this because I didn’t have any great attachment to anyone except for maybe my parents. However, I finally made some friends that weren’t just pretending to be my friends and after living with each other day in and day out we bonded to what I would consider a family even greater than a biological family. I’ve learned that you DO get to choose your family just not in the way we often think we should be able to. I have a circle that would drop everything to get to me. They call me every night for a week just so they can tell me they love me and that they can’t wait to see me. If that’s not family what is? We fight, oh do we fight at times. I think I’ve had it out with all the members of my new found family. But through that fighting we’ve grown and gotten closer and learned things about each other that we wouldn’t learn otherwise. And the make up sessions, well let’s just say a bottle of rum in a car in a parking lot isn’t so bad when you have the right family to share it with.

The moral of the story is I get to return to that family. The people that I don’t always get along with, and we may disagree at times, but they are the ones I WANT to return to. You start off with a family that is chosen for you, but then you get to find your own family. A place where you belong, where you are loved for who you are. Not because you were born to them and they feel obligated to, but because you are simply you with no strings attached.

In addition to being sappy I am providing some lyrics for the week. I fell in love with this song immediately after hearing it. I’ve been on a really big kick of the fact that there is no such thing as a happily ever after and it just so happens I heard this song shortly after reigniting my thoughts on happy endings. The artist is a woman/girl by the name of Sarah Bareilles. I heard her single Love Song (which is awesome too) on the radio station I have been listening to out here in Utah and went back to my hotel and bought the album. It’s really good, I recommend that you at least check out the single Love Song (it was one of the free singles of the week on itunes, I don’t know if it’s still available for free or not, but you could check). So here are the lyrics to a song called Fairytale, by Sarah Bareilles:

Cinderella’s on her bedroom floor she’s got a
Crush on the guy at the liquor store
‘Cause Mr. Charming don’t come home anymore
And she forgets why she came here.
Sleeping Beauty’s in a foul mood
For shame she says
None for you dear prince, I’m tired today
I’d rather sleep my whole life away then have you
Keep me from dreaming

‘Cause I don’t care for your fairytales
you’re so worried about the maiden though you know
she’s only waiting on the next best thing

Snow White’s doin’ dishes again ‘cause
What else can you do
With seven itty-bitty men?
Sends them to bed calls up a friend, says
Will you meet me at midnight?
The tall blonde lets out a cry of despair says,
I would have cut it myself if I knew men
Could climb hair
I’ll have to find another town somewhere
And keep away from the windows.

‘Cause I don’t care for your fairytales
you’re so worried about the maiden though you know
she’s only waiting on the next best thing

Once upon a time in a far away kingdom
Man made up a story said I should believe him
Go tell your knight he’s handsome in hindsight
But I don’t want the next best thing
So I sing and hold my head down
And I break these walls around me
Can’t take no more of your fairytale love

‘Cause I don’t care for your fairytales
you’re so worried about the maiden though you know
she’s only waiting on the next best thing
I don’t care
I don’t care
You worry about the maiden though you know
She’s only waiting spent her whole life being graded
On the sanctity of patience
And a dumb appreciation
But the story needs some mending and a better happy ending
‘Cause I don’t want the next best thing
No I don’t want the next best thing.

Hope you enjoyed the lyrics. I’ll write more later. Ta!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Mythbusters are my friends...

Good evening - sorry I've been missing for so long, my Internet was down. So let's catch myself back up - the car question. I drive a 2003 Kia Spectra, it's blue, it's got new tires (now) and I love it. I named her Winnie, as in Winnifred (you know - Wonder Years). She is my first car not named after a J-name (Janelle, Jena, Jenny) and my second blue (blue, green, green, blue). I have had four cars since 2004 and this has lasted me the longest (broke a year back in April), 2 totaled (one me, one Tori) and 1 died. So here we are. The reason I thought of that question that day was because my best friend, whom I hired into my company and he recently got promoted to my position, with his first manager paycheck ran out and bought his dream car - 2004 Chrysler Sebring Convertible, green. I laugh at him, although with a grain of salt because 1) he's paying less a month than me, 2) it's newer than mine and I've long since prided myself on having the newest (and often - only working) car of our little group. I do laugh at him though because his windows stopped going up after two days of owning it and yesterday a hubcap fell off - basically, he hasn't this car two weeks and it's falling apart faster than he spends that not too big paycheck. Where I'm going with this is that a car is more often than not, a direct reflection of who you are. It's as much of a personal effect as any CDs or movies you claim to be your favorite, and even further than that really, because cars are usually personalized to fit their driver with little mirror decorations and bumper stickers, etc... No, it shouldn't matter what you drive and lord knows, using it as a social barometer is about as stupid as using race or religion, but I suppose it's a little less ignorant - not by much though. I don't know where I wanted this thought to go so I have a few random questions and we'll see where they go.
  • Mythbusters - anybody watch and what do you all think?
  • Top five TV shows of all time (already discussing music and movies, it seems almost necessary)
  • Nellie McKay's "I Wanna Get Married" - sincere or ironic? (if you've never heard it - don't worry, I doubt she has any fans here, but it's a question that's always plagued me as it's meaning changes each time I hear the song).
  • How do you manage your money?
  • You favorite websites - most useful? Most time wasting? What more do you want from the Internet?
I'm done - ta.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

My Humps, my humps....making it through hump day

It’s my catch up day. Here on Taggart, on Evergreen, on my other blog. It’s time to suck it up and write. YAY Amanda! You’re officially on top of it now that you’ve made your first post. Enjoy blogging…

Next on my list of things to mention: I have my story that has made me who I am today. I will be posting that here today too.

I have a short list (it’s still growing) of things that I want to do before I die. Here it is:

Life List
1. Travel to 5 out of the 7 continents

2. Enjoy a weekend at the spa

3. Find love (I think I did this with my friends, but I want to find it in terms of a significant other, sorry I’m a little bit of a hopeless romantic)

4. See a show on Broadway

5. Write a published work that is purchased by at least 1000 people that aren’t my relatives or friends, although it would be cool if they all purchased it too.

6. Live for a year in a foreign country

7. Volunteer or visit a third world country

8. Get a tattoo

9. Have a library in my home

10. Have a child or two but no more

11. Grow in my faith and walk the walk not just talk the talk

12. Figure out why people are drawn to me

13. Learn to let go of the little things

14. Build relationships that are healthy and lasting

15. Learn to love my flaws

Now I’m not going to explain any of them other than to say I know that some of them are rather conceptual and can vary depending on my mood or where my life goes, but at the same time I think that these conceptual goals are just as important as tangible ones.

What special ability would I have if I could choose?
This one rather stumped me I’m not going to lie. I thought about several possibilities, but what it came down to is what power would be the most helpful to others as well as myself (gotta be a little selfish sometimes) and I think that my choice would be the flying/flaming ability that the one member of the fantastic four has. I was trying to remember the characters name, but I can’t so I hope you know what I’m talking about. Point being that I think between the flying and the flaming I could both have fun myself and take care of some of the criminals that are around. Somewhat cheesy, but there you have it. Not much of an explanation was it? Oh well, it’ll have to do.

Wrong doing celebrities get press coverage
This is something that has been bothering me since Paris Hilton went to jail. Well, it’s bothered me before that, but Paris was what really got me heated. Who cares? Seriously. People go to jail everyday for doing the exact same thing she did. Driving drunk isn’t acceptable whether you have money or not. You deserve to serve the time for committing the crime. I guess what disturbs me the most is that it seems that as a society we are sending the message that the more out of control you get the more attention we’ll give you. If you’re raising a child you’re supposed to not reward the bad behavior. You are supposed to not ignore it, but give it a punishment. Why should be reward the celebs for their bad behavior? Now I do realize that by writing this, I am giving it attention, however, I think that it is a topic that needs to be addressed within the media. Cover the good, not the bad should be what they are doing. Instead they cover the bad, because it’s what sells. It’s a problem in society, the bad rules, while the good that goes on gets shoved to the back.
It’s a short rant, I know, but I think you get my point.

My car
I drive as in present tense, a Saturn L series. It’s a shiny blue color. It gets almost 40MPG (which let me tell you is awesome). Practically nothing on this car is automatic, in fact, nothing is automatic, it’s all manual. From the gear shift to the windows and locks you do it by hand. I love it, really I do. It might now be glamorous but in a world where 30MPG is considered the high end, my car rocks!
Now if I could own any car no matter cost, or gas mileage, etc…I think I would honestly buy a smart car roadster. I would have a convertible that is one of the best hybrids out there. They are small and compact, but they are safe and really cool looking. I still have that dream of owning a Viper, because I think they would be awesome to drive, but the more I think about it, the more I want to race one once or twice and then get something slightly more practical. The roadster fits this, you’ve got style and design with a hybrid design. Sweet right? Well I think so, keep your opinions to yourselves :P j/k.
As far as point A to point B transportation, yes I see the need for a slight change. I think we would find that building a better transportation system, one that was government mandated would help the economy a lot. One the fact that the transportation system is in place would allow for many the job to be created on that alone. I think we would also find that the poor and the people that can’t drive are able to be much more productive members of society because they have a way to get around. Because we rely on cars both as transportation and as status symbols, the use of the car is keeping the poor from getting anywhere. Now mind you, those who want it, do usually find a way to get it, however, why not make the public transportation there, we could use more people in society that are productive and talented. Another point is that if there was a reliable, well maintained public transportation system, drunk driving and other instances of people crashing because they’re being stupid would decrease. There would be nothing holding back a judge that wants to revoke a persons license for being stupid. If you drive drunk, your license is gone and the person can still get to work, they just feel worse and it might mean an adjustment in their schedule. Well, they were stupid they deserve it. Maybe I just support the Europeans on that too much, but it seems to work over there. With a few tweaks to the system it’ll work over here. Better public transportation would also provide for a more competitive market because the trains and the buses would better be able to compete with the airlines. It would make fares more competitive and you could see a drop in the prices of domestic flights or they might offer more perks for flying. That’s not an absolute, but I think it’s a possibility.
I do know that I wish Adrian had a bus system, it would save the safety officers from having to cart drunk people back from the bars or from tired friends getting a call at two in the morning to pick people up.
I also know that the times that I have rode Amtrak I’ve really enjoyed it. If there were more trips to more places at a reasonable price hell yes I’d ride. I do have to say though the prices aren’t that bad. Trains are faster than cars, but slower than flights.
And so ends my discussion on the day. Ta!