Category Archives: Life as we know it

crisis

One week ago last night I wrote this word in my datebook. I use my datebook for more than just appointments and work records. I make notes of my activities when I feel like it. Sometimes I wonder when I saw a certain movie or had dinner somewhere and I can page back through the datebook and find out.

Last Wednesday’s box has ‘suit in for alterations’, ‘Jack Grad party’, and ‘– crisis –‘.

The crisis was Sepi telling me that she could not marry me because I was an atheist and to for her to marry an atheist was to turn her back on God. Her suggestion was that I ‘accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior’.

For those who don’t know, I was raised as a Catholic and was active in the Church throughout my high school years. I went to Mass regularly, sang in the church choir, and was active in the parish youth group. I had attended parochial school through the 6th grade.

In the late ’60s, there was a requirement for all American males to register for the draft, which was a mechanism for teh government to populate the armed services. One could argue that service in the military was an essential part of citizenship but that’s an argument for another day. The Vietnam war was a real thing and the draft and the military was in the thoughts of every young American male at the time.

With this background, I began to draw parallels with the military command structure and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and not in a positive way. I felt that the reasons for the US to be waging a war in Vietnam were not good enough to commit such wastage of blood and treasure. And I felt that the requirements of the Mass were similarly arbitrary.

I avoided the military by the simple expedient of having a high draft number. A draft lottery had been introduced the year before I turned 18. My number was around 175 and the highest number that was going to be taken was around 50. My friend Bruce had a number of around 35 and was able to enlist and choose to go to Germany instead of Vietnam. Actually, I’m not sure of the mechanism but that’s what happened.

As for the Church, I just stopped going after I graduated. I went away to college and was obsessed with music so it didn’t seem important.

In our early conversations, I related some of this to Sepi and at one point used the word ‘atheist’ to describe my beliefs. We have had a lot of discussion about this in the last week and one of the questions was ‘When did you turn your back on God?’ My answer is, ‘I don’t know.’ That is to say, I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when I no longer felt there was a God. A more complete answer is that I did not turn my back on God. I did hold with the belief that there is ** something ** connecting everything in the Universe. All knowing, all seeing, etc. It has some similarities to what is commonly referred to as ‘God’ but I reject the idea that this ** something ** has human qualities. For instance, God, or this ** something **, does not ‘talk’ or ‘listen’ or have ‘will’. Those are human qualities. By assigning them to an omniscient being we diminish it (or Him, if you prefer).

Sepi wasn’t much impressed with my hair splitting so we talked late into the night without resolution. I had made an earlier commitment to meet with her pastor to discuss these issues but had been finding ways to not call him. That night we called him and he agreed to meet us the next morning.

Pastor Steve welcomed us to the conference room at his and Sepi’s little church. His first question to me was, ‘If you died today and had to stand before God, what would you say to Him?’

My answer was that I saw so many cognitive disconnects there I hardly knew where to begin. Our conversation was civil and respectful but Pastor Steve believes in the Bible as the literal Word of God, that Jesus is the Son of God and He died to forgive our sins and that we have to ask God’s forgiveness to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. My apologies to Sepi and Pastor Steve for paraphrasing. I hope I am fairly representing the gist of it. In any case, I could not agree with all of that.

We went around and around but there was no resolution. In the end, I agreed to do some reading of the Bible and Pastor Steve generously gave me one to keep.

After we left, Sepi and I continued our conversations. I said I would talk to other people who were Christian and try to find a way to reconcile my beliefs with hers. I did that, but it always came down to belief, the leap of faith, and it wasn’t there. Somehow, the core of my being was not able to buy into the concept of God as someone to ‘talk’ to.

We went through our weekend, doing things and continuing to talk, but all the wedding plans were on hold. The joy that I had felt thinking of my impending marriage to this woman was muted. how could I find a way around this difficulty. I had made it clear at the beginning that this was not something to take lightly and say the words just to get through the wedding. Sepi recognized at the beginning that there was a danger of resentment developing on my part if I felt I was compromising too much.

We were happy with each other in pretty much all of our day to day activities but this ultimatum, as I was beginning to think of it, was driving a wedge between us. It was on my mind constantly. Sepi at one point asked me how I was doing and I said I was unhappy because I was facing two bad choices: compromise what I thought was integral to my identity or lose her. This was all complicated by the fact that we had already chosen a date for the wedding and it was fast approaching. I was beginning to especially resent the deadline aspect of making this momentous decision.

Then early Wednesday morning she asked the question again and I responded in much the same way. Then she said, ‘I don’t want to lose you and I don’t want you to become someone you are not happy with. I will marry you as you are.’

I was stunned. Just like that? Well, not really. She hadn’t been just sitting back waiting for me to have a revelation. She saw my torment and was affected by it. She wanted me to be happy so she decided to break the log jam.

Now I felt bad. I want her to be happy too. We talked and talked. My love for her took a quantum leap as I understood what this was costing her. She has been born again since 1982. I promised to continue talking to Christian people trying to find her faith within me. I have a copy of the Bible on my tablet now and I have been reading it. But I can do all this without the tension of getting it done immediately.

I still see it as a tall hill to climb. I looked up the story of Saul and his conversion, though. He didn’t expect anything like that. One of our friends commented that finding God through revelation is all well and good, but most of us have to make the leap of faith without it. Too true.

moving on

Sepi and I went to Southern California not last week but the week before. I already posted about going to Norman’s Rare Guitars and I hope to do a whole post on her nephew Jon’s recovery from surgery.

But a thing happened on the way back. We stopped to get gas at one of those places along I-5. They’re not really truck stops. Maybe one gas station caters to trucks but there are three or four others. There were some fast food restaurants. We wanted to eat but not fast food. Our choices were Denny’s or Harris Ranch. We chose Denny’s because it was on our side of the freeway.

We parked carefully right in front of the front door. We chose seats so that we could easily see the car. After our food had come, we noticed that a family was out there milling around their car. At one point, the young boy – about 10 – went over to my car and looked right in the window. He was just a kid, but still . . .

I got up and went out there. This is what I saw:

My first thought was the Tele. I walked around to the other side and looked in. The Tele was still there. I thought everything was still there, but then I realized that my back pack had been in the back seat . . .

. . . and now it wasn’t.

It turned out that the other family had had their car broken into in the same way. The two kids were wailing over the loss of their iPad and Kindle. The Mom kept telling them, ‘It’s just stuff.’ I thought that was awesome.

My wallet was safe in my pocket but the backpack had some stuff in it: my iPad, my voice recorder, a headlamp, some memory sticks, my work IDs, my headache pills. Losing that stuff didn’t bother me that much. But the backpack was Zach’s and I had kept two of his special pens in it. Now they’re gone. That bothered me.

All the way home I stewed about it, but ultimately I realized that this is the universe telling me to move on. I filled out a police report. I talked to the insurance agent. There is a minuscule chance that I will get Zach’s backpack back. Minuscule here really means none. I’m moving on. It’s one more step.

PS. I looked up my earlier post about Zach’s backpack. It’s not bad. Check it out here.

rings

One more quick post for today. Sepi and I shopped for rings last Saturday and found two we liked very quickly. (Compared to how I’m sure these things often go. We both had feared it would be a lengthy process.) They had to be resized and yesterday I picked them up. The jeweler was very nice and gave us a bottle of champagne to go with our new rings.

Sepi will get to wear hers right away but I will have to wait. I am excited about wearing my ring joining me with Sepi. August.

timeliness

I’ve often wondered what would be the best frequency for posting here. It’s not a news site so daily is a bit much, although I toyed with the idea for a while. In my head, anyway. In fact, long time readers know that I rarely post two days in a row and I don’t think I’ve ever posted three days in a row.

Droughts are more common. I’ve often gone a week without making a post but most months have had at least a half dozen. I’m not going to go back and generate statistics. I’m making a point about the last two months. Well, since March 1st, about 7 weeks. Since then, I’ve only written five posts.

The March 1st post hints at the upheaval in my life that occurred that week. Since then, I have been re-evaluating everything and writing pithy commentary on my life just hasn’t been in the cards. Next week, I’ll be going up to Washington to visit Jeremy and his family. I’ll also be seeing Peter and Nanci in Spokane as well as my cousins Dan and Nettie. I don’t have any high expectations that I’ll be posting from up there but I have hopes of breaking the log jam and being able to post more often when I get back

quote

Our last SoundBox for the season opened last night. Someone said to me, ‘Last of the year.’ and of course I had to correct her. Unlike this time last year, we do have a SoundBox scheduled for next December. This is an improvement.

For myself, I’m not sure if I will continue working SoundBox. I enjoy it tremendously but the thrill I’ve had for 45 years working in live theatre is diminishing and I have begun thinking seriously about my next chapter.

Sarah had been scheduled to play for the movie in the main hall but someone dropped out of the SoundBox orchestra and she got moved over. It was her first time playing in SoundBox. The music was difficult and there are only a few players so everyone’s playing is exposed. She handled it with grace and aplomb. Perhaps she was churning inside but I didn’t see it.

Aside from the fact of her continuing to get hired by the Symphony, the best thing about seeing her with this orchestra is seeing her interact with her fellow musicians in a friendly and relaxed way. They like her!

Now for my quote. This was posted about a friend of a friend of a friend on FaceBook but it caught my eye just before I deleted it. Credited to Daisaku Ikeda:

In the Buddhist view, the bonds that link people are not a matter of this lifetime alone. And because those who have died in a sense live on within us, our happiness is naturally shared with those who have passed away. So, the most important thing is for those of us who are alive at this moment to live with hope and strive to become happy. By becoming happy ourselves, we can send invisible ‘waves’ of happiness to those who have passed away.

jigsaws no more

Well, never say never, I like to say, but the jigsaw puzzle setup I’ve had in my apartment for a couple of years now is gone. The table it had been sitting on belonged to my neighbor and former friend so I returned it.

I was working on a puzzle of a Van Gogh painting. It was really challenging and I enjoyed the time I spent working on it but I have no other place to put it. I also found that I was working on it less and less in the past few weeks so it may be that I’m moving into a more active mode than before (see my previous post). This is a good thing.

Maybe someday I’ll have a big house where I can dedicate a corner to keep a jigsaw puzzle going all the time. It doesn’t seem likely . . .

busy

I’ve been really busy lately. That’s partly why there haven’t been very many posts, but only partly. The negative reaction of the person I thought was my friend to a post I made has rocked me. Most of what she said in comments on this blog I did not allow to be published because they were raw personal attacks that did not leave room for discussion. Comments must be civil.

I thought about it, though. I take responsibility for my actions and don’t want to hide behind administrator privileges just to make me feel better. The post in question was only seen by three people that I know about (who reacted to it) before I removed it. Her reaction has been much stronger, I believe, because she has seen I have a new woman in my life.

I would like to talk about her but I am cautious after my experience writing about Rose. I will say her name is Sepi. I met her last fall and we’ve been spending a lot of time together for a couple of months now. My earlier post about charged words was inspired by our conversations. Are we ‘dating’? Are we ‘seeing’ each other? Do we ‘love’ each other or are we ‘in love’? Is she ‘mine’ or me ‘hers’? Words can be confusing, or misleading. Our conversations have been lengthy and are ongoing, I believe that is the best part of our relationship. Partly because of the upset around the blog post no subject is off limits. Early signs are encouraging that we have established a strong basis for a good relationship.

One of the most encouraging signs is being busy. Sepi has gotten me out doing new things, meeting new people. For years, my concept of busy was working a lot. Now I am able to do more things socially and it has been a revelation.

I am returning the favor the best I can. I took her to my jazz band concert and today she will be meeting Mom and Dad and other family members at Teresa’s birthday party. There is more to come on both sides.

Here’s a picture of me in my St. Patrick’s Day tie ready to head out for the jazz band concert:

time change

Why are we still doing time changes in America? Supposedly it was something to do with saving electricity after WWII. Honestly, I haven’t done any research on this. Except, I know it wreaks havoc on my biorhythms for several days every spring and fall. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. I believe there is one state, Arizona, that makes do with the same time all year long. Arizona has many problems, but I believe none of them are related to their not changing their time twice a year.

I think it was only last year I read about a bill in the California legislature to repeal the time change. I actually thought it had a chance of passage, then I heard nothing more. Who killed it? Why? Who is gaining economically by continuing to do this?

It makes no sense to me.

Darkest Hour

Rose and I went to see the move Darkest Hour yesterday afternoon. I seem to remember Sarah telling me she had seen it a couple of weeks ago. I told her then of Herman Wouk’s paragraph about Winston Churchill in his book The Winds of War.

I have a few quibbles about the actual history the movie depicts, but of course the essential story is true and I enjoyed the retelling.

Here is Wouk’s paragraph:

Winston Churchill, today an idealized hero of history, was in his time variously considered a bombastic blunderer, an unstable politician, an intermittently inspired orator, a reckless self-dramatizer, a voluminous able writer in an old-fashioned vein, and a warmongering drunkard. Through most of his long life he cut an antic, brilliant, occasionally absurd figure in British affairs. He never won the trust of the people until 1940, when he was sixty-six years old, and before the war ended they dismissed him. But in his hour he grasped the nature of Hitler, and sensed the way to beat him: that is, by holding fast and pushing him to the assault of the whole world . . . He read his man and he read the strategic situation, and with the words of his mouth he inspired the British people to share his vision. . . . [He] acted toughly, wisely, and ungallantly; and he turned the course of the war to the course that ended five long years later, when Hitler killed himself and Nazi Germany fell apart. This deed put Winston Churchill in the company of the rare saviors of countries and perhaps of civilizations.

emotions

The cycles of emotion are strange. I know I’m more likely to get weepy when I’m tired but it still comes on me at times when I do not expect it.

Friday morning I came into Davies Hall to go to work. Past the guard station and down the hallway by the orchestra managers’ offices are the bulletin boards with the lists of who is playing what in the weeks to come. I almost always stop and look to see if Sarah’s name is on the lists. I knew she was playing this week.

Her name was on for the next two sets and as I walked alone down the backstage hallway I found I was tearing up. Why now? She’s been working pretty regularly so it’s not really a huge surprise. It just happened.

Sometimes when I’m talking with Jeremy and he tells me about how busy he is trying to establish himself in a new home and still be a good husband and father I get choked up. Not all the time, just sometimes. Strange are the cycles of emotion.

The SoundBox set last week included a group of short compositions that were pretty unstructured. For the dress rehearsal Friday, the last piece had the 20 or so orchestra members scattered around the SoundBox space. There were a few moments of silence and then they started to play slowly, each musician listening to the space around them and contributing their feelings in sound. For no reason I could identify, I began crying. Although I was sitting off to the side I wondered if people were looking at me. I didn’t move but I tried not to make a sound. I kept saying to myself, ‘Oh, Zach. Oh, my Z.’ over and over. I wanted to let the emotions flow but I was also a professional on the clock. The ethereal music went on for three or four minutes then morphed into a louder, more rhythmic pattern. By the time it ended, I was still teary but under control and I went back to work. No one said anything to me about it.