Thursday, August 31, 2017

Goodbye, Farewell, Godspeed

When you have had a several decade long relationship with anything (or anybody) it is right and proper to review the time, energy, and ultimately reason the relationship has moved on. This is about my ties to the church called Unitarian Universalist.

I came to this church around 1980. When an important job position demanded I attend church regularly. There was no demand what church, so I picked one I knew (a tiny bit) about: Unitarian (Henceforth known as UU). The first Sunday I visited, There was a pew dance - that was fun, and a good omen as far as I was concerned. The more I learned about the denomination, the more drawn to it I became. "Liked the people, history, moral messages, etc. I became a better person for being a member.
As time wore on, I received training in leadership that helped me help the church. It also made me a better person. Is the tension building? Ready for the BUT... (?)

I, along with my family had been members of 3 congregations. First UU, Emerson, and NW Community over the course of 35 years. I left First UU because I felt the the politically correct atmosphere was driving a lack of discussion by people that may not be "just like us". Freedom of speech is reduced when a person gets clobbered for speaking their mind and their mind is not in lock-step with the 'community'.

I then moved my family to Emerson UU. It was more upscale, had more diversity in the membership, and had a religious education program of great renown. Kids got schooled on religious matters and more importantly sex. It was a pretty good family church, I made friends and grew as a person. I persuaded the board to send me to Leadership School.

I left that congregation for an opportunity of starting a new church in NW Houston. - A chance to use my leadership training! I stayed with this congregation about 20 years. Our big plans to grow a fabulous church in NW Houston never came to pass. I made friends there, worked on important matters; worship, music, how to pay the rent, etc.The church never made it past 75 members. In fact it stayed about 55-60 members. I left there to return to my first church, First (UU) Church to avoid seeing my ex every Sunday.
 'Spent a year singing in the choir at the downtown church, and then took a break. Another church I had visited on and off for years, Unity Houston became my new home. Moving services, beautiful campus, ministers with a strong message. Much happier now than I have been on many a Sunday.
When I resigned from First Church, a few people prodded me to name who I was angry with, or share the source of my disappointment. I am not mad at anyone... I am disappointed with myself for staying so long after I should have left. The only image I can describe regarding the UU church is this:

We have a meal of potatoes to feed on.

Unity, where I am now, is where their is a good size fire under that pot. The water is boiling, and people are eating potatoes.
When I look back on my former faith, I see that pot, I see the potatoes, and I see a small dinner candle NOT boiling water, not cooking potatoes, not feeding people.

Inspiration is what creates heat/fire moves people of the spirit to do great things (or at least more than they thought they could do). The humanist perspective squelching the theistic contribution, makes for blandness that turns the church into a cross between and civic club and a plain ole social club.What do I mean by that? You have a set of touchy people that get upset when they hear the word God, or a reference to Jesus, etc.
Again, I do not harbor ill towards my former church or friends that attend. For me, it was time to move on.

Monday, June 5, 2017

My Life In Parts

I have been reading Bryan Cranston's book A Life In Parts.
Clever title for a memoir by an actor.
Little essays where he identifies his 'role' as son, farmhand, Walter White, etc. and tells a tale about being in that role.
     I have attempted the same here in this blog in a more indirect way. 'Gonna try it for a while to see how it feels. Instead of going 50-60 years back, I like to start where we (I) are/am/is now. You try it too...
If you gave a name to your "Role" at the present time what would it be? Be honest... I'll just wait a few minutes to let you collect your thoughts (but don't over-think it) ...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Okay, I'm back (each of those dots was a minute or second if you prefer).

I'll share first.
I will identify as "Boyfriend" at the present.
Sounds a bit strange even to me. (After all, I am 64 years old!!)
I have been in this role about 20 months and find it quite agreeable. K and I have our thing that takes place every weekend cue John Mayer and it is pretty great. We are in total agreement on that.
I still have the smaller and just as important roles going like father, piano technician, church-goer, companion to a pair of dogs, grass farmer, and so on...  but I promised a tale related to the role...

This one goes back to our early days dating. When we first met, we were both in the final stages of divorce from long marriages, pretty new to living single, feeling out of touch with the dating scene, but interested in companionship of the opposite sex.
First date had us at a minor league baseball game, the first either of us had attended. We were with a group from a social club I belonged to, there were about 30 of us sitting together. I took some ribbing from someone because I was sitting in the middle of 4 lovely ladies (besides my date). The comment was something like "There's Cubil, surrounded by his harem". Sparking a nervous ha-ha from me, a strange look from my date.

 Fast forward to the middle of the game. We were having a bite of ballpark food, in this case a stuffed potato and had full mouths of the delicious BBQ, when the kiss-cam decided to focus on us. My friends started with the chant: kiss! kiss! kiss! kiss! K was oblivious to what was going on, but very focused on her potato. I got her to look up and see we were on the big screen and explained it won't stop until we kiss. She smiled and we took our first kiss with mouths full of barbecue in front of a crowd of hundreds that night, and broke the ice.
I do remember the Skeeters lost to a team from a town I had never heard of. sad. But it was the start of a beautiful relationship that prompts me to identify as Boyfriend. 
Oh, feel free to share your current (or favorite from the past) role in the comments section.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Religious Convictions and Modern Life

Lot's of upset in society due to daily mass shootings. The latest being 100 people in a club in Orlando Florida. Turns out the guy (1 man) was a Muslim, hated many groups, but especially gays. Pretty horrible, anyway you slice it.

The attitude displayed by the fringe "religious" folk underscores a big source of the problem. Texas' own Lt. Governor (he who does not deserve to be named) was quick to tweet a bible verse, suggesting the shooting victims had it coming.

The do-nothing congress continues in their hot streak of Doing Nothing (well, they always have rhetoric to spare) .

But, back to religious groups who are fighting (politically) to preserve their right to smite people not of their own persuasion. Every religion that refers to "The God of Abraham" has a long list of nasty things to say about "others". "Others" being anybody who isn't 'one of us'. Oh, the other 10,000 belief systems probably have plenty of faults, but I am going to keep it to the "Big Three" for this discussion.

I'm thinking people who are attracted to the idea of behaving badly under sanction of the Holy Book (whichever one you choose) represent the sad, sick part of society - ours or any.

Western society, North America, Western Europe, etc. have plenty of these people although in the minority and just tolerated  by the majority. Your third world countries in the Middle East - Northern Africa, etc. seem to have sanctioned these nasty scripture passages into civil law, and created whole sick, dysfunctional societies.

So we have examples of life under religious dictates. Kinda makes you want to ban religion (ha, just kidding folks!). Perhaps the real answer is to make critical thinking cool, and reactionary behavior totally not cool.

Monday, January 4, 2016

HIgh End Madness?

I had a bit of time on my hands this afternoon, so I thought to walk through an Outlet Mall on the far NW side of town. I had last been there about 5 years ago, and since it was a smashing success, wanted to see how it had grown.
Oh, it had grown . . . about 4 times the size as when I last saw it.
Still packed, even on a Monday afternoon, not easy to find a parking space.

So I browsed through looking at the "bargains" ($280. rubber shoes for $180.) and I started to fantasize what it would be to look like the fashionista male who wore clothing just from these stores. Why obviously I would be the coolest guy I know... or maybe just look the coolest??
Feel like the coolest, but inside know it's not me, it's just the threads.

I have never been a customer of the High-End Outlet Mall or The Galleria, I buy most of my clothing from resale shops. For the first time I began to wonder why people were lining up to buy the 'designer' shops bargains-that-were-still-way-out-of-my-price-range.

Taking a closer look at my fellow shoppers (BTW, we do this more at Walmart than anywhere else - right?). I took a look at my finely-tailored fellow shoppers; most wearing the same shoes, pants, shirts, etc. that they were there to buy. Some of these folks were comfortable enough dropping 500-600. for a casual outfit, but there were plenty others for whom (I suspect) this represented a chunk of change.

I am good with people doing what people do, here's the thing: This mall is full of people who bought the Mad Men created lie. They one that says if you wear the right names, it will

bring up your status in the world,
make you whole,
change your life. 

Sorry about that. I don't believe it.

Since this was written, I was invited to pick out a custom suit with my son. This was at a place called Sid Mashburn - a high end store I would likely never go in (not even to browse). Yes, I did choose a very nice new suit, and it was an amazing experience. Son and I did some talking about clothes and suits in particular and were in agreement that a quality suit and shoes does change the way you are perceived by many people. 
Now, I want to draw a distinction between what I said above and what I am saying now: I still believe the hat with the swoosh, loud expensive sneakers, and that type of clothing don't cause your stock to rise with most of society. It could be that that whole scene is just out of my demographic...

Friday, December 18, 2015

2015 Personal Year in Review

     Okay, so I decided to first post my recollections about the year in month by month form from memory, then go back and look at old posts, etc. to see how that compared.

January - Went on ski trip to Colorado. Attended son's company party. Both offered a good time, both were opportunities for spouse to display disregard for me and our marriage.

February - Planned event to promote U Bar U. Saw old friends and had a good time. Moderate financial success. Also attended Bid Fest (Texas Ski Council) in San Antonio. Learned that even though I had been attending meetings and events for 2.5 years, no one had ever seen me before.

March - Had party for spouse 60th birthday. Based on one she threw me (assuming that is what she would like).

April - Rehearsed with First Unitarian choir for concert piece delivered on Easter. Great experience.

May - Visit with daughter and B.F. in Bay Area. Great 4 day trip. Also Men's retreat at UBU

June - Began attending Zoomers Meet Up events. Went to Child Advocates training, decided it was not for me.

July - Tenant lease ends, I move out of my home into rent house. Begin fixing it up. Saw Bernie Sanders at UH.  Saw Steely Dan, Elvis Costello, then EWF + Chicago.

August - Started singing in choir at FUC, went on weekend camp/DG trip in hill country, started attending weekly small group meetings from church.

September - Met Karen Price went on first date Sat. Sept 5 Skeeters baseball. Second date Sun. Sept 13 Last Concert Cafe, third date Sat Sept. 19 Cave Stock

October - Great Mississippi River Balloon Race, Halloween on FM1960, followed by Ren Fair.

November - Started playing Wed. at Michelangelo, Men's retreat, Prohibition date.

December - Lot's O work. A few nice dates, Jones Hall concert, SCSC gala dinner/dance, Broadway show at Wortham, finish the month/year at the beach Port Aransas

Now, highlights from my journal.

January - Deep concern for my primary relationship, spouse zoned out, moved our of bedroom, etc.

February - Had "The Conversation" that led to Rita lowering the boom ("I want a divorce"). Got support from my friends, and a therapist. Tough month

March - Started thinking of Rita as V4.0 - not the version of life partner I have had for many years. Helps a bit. Did not have party for spouse birthday, that was last year.

April - Started working on splitting the assets. Negotiating who gets what. Deciding where I want to live. Looking at options.

May - Still of two minds on many issues of the future.

June - Busy at work, nice camping weekend with the fellas

July - Vowing to file divorce papers by September, started looking at dating apps.

August - Trailer wreck, flirting on Tinder.

September - Met Karen, went on date, broke a tooth, worried about Herpes.

October - things ramping up with Karen, enjoy weekly singing in choir

November - Started weekly at Michelangelo appreciating relationship with Karen.

December - Working 7 days a week, and almost as many nights.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

So Many Things to be Thankful For...

I know, EVERYBODY does this around mid November. What we really need, is to make every Wednesday Thanksgiving.
The blessings we take for granted could fill the *Astrodome.
or might as well for all they are doing with it.

For the record, I have been doing "I'm thankful fors" in my journal for a good couple of months now.

Tonight I want to be thankful for Family in my life.

Wow, so many wonderful people...


Joanne- Almost more of a big sister, shared adventures, dramas, received lessons from one another.
Bill- Big, rugged, man's man sort of guy. Fearless. The type you enjoy having a beer with.

Minnie Lee- Nobody could care more for me. Dramatic, smothering, yet able to back off when need be.
John- Like my first best friend. A real peer. Connected very early in my life, stayed great friends till the end.
The Living
Starting with my (one day) ex wife Rita.
Thankful for the years we were true partners. Which, (I believe) were most of the 35 years we were married.

Thankful for my great children, Christopher and Meagan.
Wow, If you know these people, I don't have to go into how wonderful they are. If you don't know these people, well . . . better get on it. You just   can't. do. better.

Siblings: Barbara, my first sib. I was Looking at some (very) old photos of when you and I were the only children of Joanne and Bill.  All the 7 years it was us... that is bonding baby.

Kim: I was 7 when you joined us. OMG it was the most exciting thing ever! It was/has been/is cool being your big brother. A pleasure and an honor.

Candace- not the first hidden sib I was introduced to, (that was Carol), but the one that was cute, funny and really welcoming.

Laura- first child of the Next Generation (who would play Data?) Wow, what can I say, the one I most relate to as a person. Don't know why, don't care why.

Tara-Next child of T.N.G. always great to be around, cute, funny, missed your mark not going into show biz. Sorry I harshed your mellow at your first divorce, hope you forgive me.

Martin- Next child of T.N.G. like part of my own family. It was/is/shall be great being your uncle. Proud of you and the life you have created.

Natalie- Talented, worthy, Always a sweetheart, a real chip off the ol' block.

Jonathan- My fondest memory of you was a conversation we had around 1979. You were in your playpen, I gave you advice for your future.
I'm glad you listened.

Tiffany- don't know well, but would like to. Seems to have grown and matured into a fine woman.

Ashley- Hard worker, apple of her mother's eye. Admirer from afar. Watching your progress, and wishing you all the best.

From here it branches off into still the next generation of great nieces and nephews. People I hope to know well, and encourage and benefit from knowing.

Grandchild on the way...  I am about to explode with joy over that.

Got to give props to my honey and squeeze. Karen Jane Leeson. Honey, you are absolutely a gift from heaven. SO the right girl at the right time, I hope I have been as good for you as you have been for me.

I sound like a guy who thinks he is dying right?

Here's the shocking part: Yes, because we are all dying. Tonight when you go to bed, understand you just used up another of your precious days here on Earth.
One day, if I'm living or dead, somebody may look at this and get something positive from it. Well, good. That's what I'm here for folks.

* fun fact: "Astrodome" is not a word as spellcheck sees it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Paul McCartney Lived at MY HOUSE!

The funny thing was he was there about a week before it really dawned on me that it was PAUL MCCARTNEY living in my house.
When it sunk in, I mentioned to my son that Paul was like part of the family now and maybe you should call him "Uncle Paul". He said "I do".

We assumed he was living with us because of some project he was working on, but didn't know for sure.
As a side story, we had a distant family member running for public office. Guys wearing sunglasses were visiting all the relations homes. Looking for embarrassing stuff I suppose. I wouldn't be embarrassed about Paul, but you never know... To be sure,
"our house" was bigger and cooler than our actual house. I was impressed when I walked through it.
I wish I could say I remember a conversation we had, but no, he was just there walking through a room, or sitting in the back reading the paper...

Still don't know why I dreamed Paul McCartney lived in my house, but there ya go!