Losing my religion

 

I guess I wouldn’t say I lost it, so much as I shed it.

Like most white Americans, I was born into christianity. My dad was never what you would call steadfast, or devout, but he claimed to be a Christian and as far as I know, still does. My mother on the other hand, was a christian fundamentalist, through and through. She was fanatic about her faith, and tried to instill that fanaticism in my brother and I. When we were little, it worked. It was easy. Why wouldn’t it be? We were little kids and we believed anything our mother told us.

We grew up right in the thick of the satanic panic, and man, that shit had me and my brother terrified. I can remember, very clearly, the fear that any talk about “the devil” invoked at the time. We were afraid of everything. Cartoons, toys, movies, games, you name it. It all had the power of satan behind it.

When mom told us the smurfs were satanic because there was magic in the show, we believed her and we became afraid of the smurfs. When she told us He-man was satanic, the same went there, enough that when I would see a He-man toy at a friend’s house, I would be afraid to touch it or even be near it. The same went for Dungeons and Dragons (kind of a given), rock music, MTV, you name it. If someone at church, or on the 700 club, said something was satanic, my mother was all over it, and it was banned from the household.

My brother and I saw the movie “E.T” in the theater when we were kids, and of course we loved it. We had the books, the toys, the story cassettes, the stuffed animals, the posters, the t-shirts… E.T. was huge to us. Then one day, I believe in the third grade, it all just went away. I never saw what happened to it all but the murmur about the church was that it had all been burned.

When I was four or five years old, we lived in a little trailer park on the outskirts of Casper, Wyoming. My parents had somehow decided to take in a foster child. She was a teenager and her name was Claudia. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be a permanent situation or if she was just staying with us for a while, but the situation was volatile right from the start. Somehow, my mother had become convinced that Claudia was practicing witchcraft. My mom claimed to have seen a demon in the living room, and that Claudia had made the vacuum cleaner move on it’s own. Again, being a small child, I believed all of this without question. I would go on to repeat the stories my mother told me about Claudia, to my friends growing up.

At some point, Claudia packed up her things and ran away in the middle of the night. I never did find out what happened to her. Looking back, I feel sorry for her. I have no idea what kind of family situation she came from, or how she ended up in foster care, but to get dropped into our family… that had to be awful. I haven’t thought about her since I was a kid.

The rest of my childhood, up until high school, was a parade of incidents like this. Not knowing anything any different, I never really thought much about it all. It was the world I knew. Demons, witches and satanists were every where. The devil was constantly trying to influence us, and he had followers sacrificing kids, and raping babies in day care center basements, in his name. God was around, but you had to spend a lot of time looking for him.

The turning point for me started in high school. I got a job, a car, and started making friends and having a life away from the church, something that didn’t go unnoticed by my mother, and by the church. It wasn’t as if my friends and I sat around picking apart christianity, quite the opposite in fact. My friends all thought of themselves as christians. The difference was that their christianity was not the focal point of their lives. It was peripheral. It was something they believed, but that belief did not occupy every waking moment of their lives.

This did create enough distance for me to start seeing things just a little bit differently. I had time to start actively contemplating some of the things in the bible that just didn’t add up, and to take a step back and actually, critically think about some of the things I was being taught in church and at youth group. I started to notice patterns of behavior in the church that bothered me. I remember standing in the church one day after a sermon, looking around the room and listening to what people were saying about homosexuality, and thinking to myself “This is not love, this is hatred disguised as love, and no one here can tell the difference”.

Pretty soon I was asking who Adam and Eve’s children married, if there were no other people around. I wanted to know how we knew that so many other civilizations existed in the world, at the time of “the flood”, and yet they were not wiped out, and apparently failed to even notice the raining for forty days and forty nights, and the subsequent flooding. Egypt was a perfect example. They kept impeccable records of everything they did, and yet somehow this flood is never mentioned, and their civilization was untouched by it.

I had a lot of questions. The answers were usually something along the lines of “I don’t know, but god does”, an answer which somehow satisfied everyone else in the room, all of whom were more than happy with the non-answer, and who felt comfortable with the idea that god knowing the answer was good enough. It wasn’t good enough for me though. Eventually my questions were brought to my parents’ attention, and what I was told by them and the church elders, was that I should spend more time meditating on god’s word, and less time asking questions. They didn’t put it like that, of course, but that’s what they were saying.

It wasn’t just the unanswered questions, it was my increasing awareness that all of these people, not just in my church but every other church I had dealings with, were incredibly judgmental. They were spiteful, and hateful, and yet utterly convinced that they were the exact opposite of all of those things. By the time I hit college, what was left of my faith was hanging by a thread. The only thing that kept me calling myself a christian, was fear of the unknown. Christianity was all I had known, all my life.

I was twenty five when I was finally comfortable saying out loud that I was not a christian. Nothing monumental happened that lead up to this, just more little experiences. Lots of little life lessons that showed more and more, that everything I’d learned growing up, was wrong. Not simply factually incorrect, but often morally wrong, and even harmful. I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.

To say that I have some lingering anger at christianity doesn’t really describe it. Yes, I am angry. It’s an internal struggle that I deal with every day. I’ll admit that when I learn that someone is a christian, it colors my view of them immediately, and they have to work harder to earn my respect. I know this is wrong. It’s difficult to shake.

The de-conversion process was mostly about learning to recognize old behaviors, and eventually to see them coming so that I could choose to behave differently. Things like attributing every good event to god, and whispering a prayer of thanks under my breath, or a prayer of forgiveness when I did something I thought I shouldn’t have been doing.

It took a while to shake attitudes toward women who behaved, or dressed in ways that the church taught me were unacceptable. It became this game of asking myself why I felt the way I did about certain things, and boiling it down to one simple question.

Is a behavior harmful?

That simple question became the litmus test by which I judged everything I did, and everything I saw other people doing. If I couldn’t find some harm in an action or behavior, then I could begin to see it differently, and think about it more critically. This was quite different from what I’d grown up with, which was simply “because god” or “because the bible”. It took years to change my thinking. I still look back at old behaviors, I look at the way I judged people, and I feel utterly foolish, even ashamed sometimes.

I’m now forty-one years old. I no longer look at anything through the lens of christianity. I also no longer have to consciously play that mental tug of war with my old, christian beliefs. I don’t live in constant fear of the devil and satanists anymore. I no longer spend all of my time wondering what god thinks of what I’m doing at any given moment. In general, I think I’m a much happier person, and to be honest, much less of a judgmental ass.

I’ve been coming back to this post every day for about a week now, and I can’t seem to come up with a good way to gracefully close this post. So here is a shot of Laure from a recent photo shoot. 🙂

 

 

Remembering the ex

I remember the last time I saw my ex-wife. It was eight years ago. We met for lunch at a yuppy bar on the north end of downtown, called The Iron Horse. I hadn’t been a fan of this bar since they changed locations, and their entire look and feel. It had gone from a nice, calm, hang out and chit-chat type of bar, to the kind of place where rich, stuffy assholes make business deals, and do lines of coke in the bathroom. The place did have a decent lunch menu though. I remember I ate a chicken sandwich and fries. I don’t remember what Cindy had.

She’d emailed me a while before hand because she was selling her car, and my name was on the loan, so she needed my signature.

After our divorce, we’d maintained a friendly relationship. We didn’t hang out, we barely talked, but when we did talk, things were amicable enough. During this lunch though, I had something of a revelation:

I found her incredibly annoying.

I forget what it was she was blathering on about as I realized this. I was fully aware, sitting across that table from her, that she was saying something, and giggling, and I was no longer listening. Instead, I was wondering if she had always been this annoying. Yes, I decided. Yes, she had. I just never noticed before. Why had I not noticed this before? Maybe for the same reason I believed a lot of her lies over the years. I just wanted things to be good, so that’s how I saw them.

She grew quiet, which finally snapped me out of my daze. I suddenly just wanted to end the lunch and leave.

“Why didn’t you try to work on us, after I left?” She asked me, breaking the lull in the conversation. “You just stopped talking to me.”

This was the case. She moved out, into a little basement apartment across town. We didn’t talk until she contacted me a few months later, about getting on with the divorce proceedings, which I initially refused to pay for, since this whole mess was her doing. In the end, I relented, just to get it over with.

I thought it an odd question. It had never even occurred to me to try and save our marriage after she moved out. The question typified just how self centered and ignorant she was, and had always been. Once she’d walked out the front door of our little apartment for the last time, I knew we were done. I washed my hands of her. The first thing I did, the first weekend after she left, was go out to a bar, pick up some cute, little hippy chick, and spend a good portion of the night having sex in what used to be our bedroom.

Cindy left me for one of my best friends. One of my female best friends, I might add. She was a lesbian, something we both came to realize during our tumultuous, six year relationship. She was raised a good little christian girl, and had been fighting her sexuality for all of her adult life. Her marriage to me was part of that fight. In retrospect, the red flags were everywhere. Due to my own fundamentalist christian upbringing, I sprinted enthusiastically passed those flags, with the narrowest of tunnel vision, and a smile on my face.

During the last eighteen months of our marriage, they both lied to me repeatedly, to my face. For her to be sitting across that table from me, asking why I didn’t try to save our marriage after she left me, was clearly her trying to play the victim, again. She was actually trying to elicit sympathy from me.

“I tried for a year, before you left.” I said, very calmly. “I got us into marriage counseling, and you never took it seriously. I gave up Bailey, because you hated him, and I wanted to show you that you were more important.” Her smile faded when I mentioned Bailey, the Senegal parrot that I had raised from a tiny ball of fuzz. She quit looking at me, and just stared down at her hands in her lap.

I continued. “I put together that trip for our anniversary, trying to rekindle something with you, and you spent the whole time talking to Jackie on the phone. I showed you that I loved you, every day, and gave you every opportunity to reciprocate. You never did. You lost interest in me, and you were in love with someone else. You left our marriage long before you walked out the door. There was nothing to save.”

I didn’t yell it. There was no malice in my tone, no anger of any kind. I just said it all matter-of-factly, as I ate my chicken sandwich. I contemplated bringing up all the stories I’d heard from our mutual friends, lies that Cindy and Jackie had told them about me in an attempt to make me out to be the bad guy. But I didn’t, there was no point. Those friends came to me, and told me those things because they didn’t believe them. That had always been a small point of vindication for me.

“I’m sorry.” Cindy finally said.

I wasn’t sure exactly which thing she was apologizing for, and I didn’t really care. In the span of that lunch together, my opinion of her had plummeted even further, and I wondered how the hell I could have been as naive as I’d been all those years. I had reached a point years before that lunch, where I no longer needed an apology from her, or even an explanation. I had fully put it all behind me.

I don’t remember any details of the conversation after that. I’m pretty sure one of us changed the subject. At some point, I signed the paperwork, making sure it was actually what she said it was. We paid the bill, and we went our separate ways for the last time.

I have not heard from her since.

It wasn’t all bad, being married to her. We had our moments, and we were happy for a very brief period at the beginning of it all. I’m no longer angry about it. I am occasionally stupefied at how dumb I was back then, how willingly gullible I had to be to buy into the bullshit she fed me on numerous occasions. The anger though, it’s gone.

I’m happy now. Laure and I are very happy together. Thirteen years in and we still behave like we just met last month. It’s really good, and I’m grateful for it every day.

Not sure why I got to thinking about my ex today. I just did. So there you have it.

Here is Laure on the beach of our little island a few weeks ago.

 

Summer seems to finally be here

We had the first actual BBQ of the summer yesterday. We invited some friends over, several cakes were baked. Chicken, salmon, bratwurst, burgers, various types of rice, and some excellent pasta salad were prepared. Later on, Catan, and Cards Against Humanity were played. Pandora was being a real bitch, so Spotify provided the music.

We finally called it quits about 11:30 at night, on account of three of the friends having to drive an hour to get home. We offered to put them up in the spare bedroom but they were intent on sleeping in their own bed.

One of the attendees is from Australia, she was an absolute sweet heart, and I’m a little sad that we’ll likely never see her again, except perhaps on Facebook. Never the less, we made a friend. 🙂

The sprinkler company that I paid to supposedly winterize our sprinkler system last fall, fucked something up, and when I cranked on the water to the yard a few weeks ago, the pipe that feeds the yard is burst in at least two places.

The van needs a new radiator fan assembly which took some troubleshooting to narrow down. They’re ridiculously expensive, and you can’t simply replace one of the fans, you can only buy the set. Which is a load of horse shit. I keep forgetting to call the local scrap yards to see if they’ve got anything that’ll work.

I got the nerd cave all moved, which took nearly an entire weekend, but the new space downstairs is really great. I broke it in officially early yesterday afternoon, with a our third session of a game of Beyond The Supernatural. You can check that game out, and find the playlist for that series, below.

 

I’m also getting ready to resume our D&D game, which has been stalled since last summer. We decided that it would be easier to play on Roll20 for most of our sessions, and then meet in person every so often. It took some notes review, but I remembered where we were in Lost Mine Of Phandelver, and I’ve about got the game ready to play. We’ll be nailing down a date soon.

We’re also working out a camping trip with our good friends up in Kalispell, which I assume is fairly imminent.

Needless to say, I’ve been pretty busy, so there hasn’t been any movement on the Teardrop in a few weeks. I’m hoping to resume that project this week.

Busy, busy, busy, but nice.

Disconnected

Monday, Laure and I got back from our annual Memorial day weekend with my family, at a little lake a few hours north of where we live. We went up on Wednesday, while the camp was still fairly empty. The rest of the usual Memorial weekend crowd began showing up on Friday afternoon.

It’s a bunch of old cabins, most of which were built back in the 1930’s and haven’t seen much improvement since. There is no TV, no internet access, and no cell service up there. Nothing to do but read, fish, eat, play board games, and nap.

It’s great. We look forward to it every year.

This year in particular though, coming back from there brought with it a sense of clarity. I’ve been glued to the internet, mostly twitter, for months. I’ve been trying desperately to strike a balance between staying informed, and letting politics occupy every waking moment of my life. It’s particularly difficult because with the jack-ass in chief we have now, there are new, and often frightening things going on every day. Literally, every single day, usually a few times a day. So much is at risk right now, I don’t even know where to start or how to begin enumerating it all.

I want to stay informed so that I can make phone calls, sign petitions, send emails, spread information, what ever I can do to help. The problem is that with this much coming at us all the time, there is no such thing as balance right now. On top of that, I’m having a difficult time seeing that anything I’m taking part in is really having any affect. It’s clear that Trump is digging his own hole, as I’d hoped he would when this all started, and soon he’ll be unable to dig out. I think that’s inevitable now. It’s just a matter of time.

Until then, we just have to deal with the barrage of shit getting thrown at us, and try to stay on top.

I thought about it all week, and decided to back off of it as much as I can. I’ve un-followed a shit ton of people on twitter and FB, to cut down on the politics that is hitting me every day. I’ve stayed subscribed to a few email news letters that have proven to be reliable, so at least I’ll know what’s going on, but I’m not going to live with it in my face every day.

If that means I’m less involved, I guess that’s how it has to be.

A few other things have become apparent to me, one is in regards to a man that used to be my best friend. I met him when we were both in grade school. From the fifth grade, up through my first year of college, I spent a LOT of time with this friend. We were the American ideal of two kids sharing the whole experience of growing up together.

I’ll say it again, we were best friends. We always had a great time when we were together. We confided in each other. We leaned on each other. We were interested in the same things and held a lot of the same views. Hell, this is the guy that introduced me to role playing games.

Things have changed though. He met someone, got married, and I felt myself moved to the back seat. Ok, that part isn’t that big of a deal. I get it. I got married too, life took me places I didn’t expect, and made it hard to maintain some friendships.  I always felt that the difference was that I was still trying. I emailed him every so often, sent texts, sent instant messages, tried to call… he had simply moved on. Every once in a while I would get a response, something half-hearted and noticeably distant, like he was responding out of a sense of obligation, and had nothing else to do that afternoon. Then we just quit talking, for about ten years.

We more or less reconnected on Facebook a few years ago. I say “more or less” because we “friended” each other, but that was it. The same pattern has continued. I’ve tried to start conversations, leave comments, post old photos of us together, and gotten nearly nothing out of him. He just isn’t interested.

Then, over the last few months, I started occasionally getting a bit more back, only in the form of rambling, disjointed rants in response to articles or opinions I post. They were the type of arguments that seemed to be purely for the sake of arguing, out of some desire to simply be contrary to anything I have to say. I get the impression that this is how he is with everyone, not just me.

This happened again today, and I don’t know if my week long disconnection provided me with a bit of clarity or what, but it suddenly occurred to me what has been going on.

I’ve changed. I’ve grown emotionally. My ideals have changed. My goals have changed. My values have changed, dramatically. I’m a different person than I was twenty years ago, and drastically different from that scared, self loathing, angry kid I was in grade school.

I can tell from his posts, and the few conversations we’ve managed recently, that he hasn’t changed at all. He’s exactly the same as he was when we were teenagers. What’s worse is that he seems utterly disinterested in trying to rekindle our friendship.

I once heard someone say that the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young. I’m forty-one years old, and as I get older, I’m finding this to be more and more apt all the time. I think that need is what’s been driving me to cling to this idea of a friendship that he and I used to have. It occurred to me a few days ago that that friendship is long gone.

I’ve been thinking for a while that it’s time to do another Facebook friend purge, and I think that he is going to have to be on that list. I suspect that if I don’t email or text him, I’ll probably never hear from him again. It’s time to just let it go.

“You son of a bitch! How could you do this? Friendship is the only choice in life you can make that’s yours! You can’t choose your family! Goddamn it, I’ve had to face that! No man should be judged for whatever direction his dick goes! That’s like blaming a compass for pointing north, for Chrissake! Friendship is all we have. We chose each other. How could you fuck it up? How could you make us look so bad?”

 – Carlos in “Tequila Sunrise”

 

May is a busy month for us

I’ve been pretty preoccupied with politics lately. It’s taken over my twitter feed, and it’s made me more active on Facebook than I have been in a long time. I’ve been signing petitions like a mad man lately, and making phone calls, and emailing representatives. I’m trying to find a balance between staying informed and letting it keep me perpetually pissed off all day long

Still working on that one. It might be time to do a politics purge again.

On a related note, my game time has taken a serious hit. Between the politicsing and working on the teardrop, there hasn’t been much time for gaming. I fired up Steam and played a few hours of DOD last night. Still a really kick ass game. A few weeks ago, one of my RPG groups verified that Roll20.net finally has their A/V issues sorted out, so last night I reinstated my account and I’m hoping to start playing at least one game a week. I’d really like to run some one shot games, on various systems, but the time just isn’t there. That may be more of a winter activity. I do have three active games right now and I’m playing about every other weekend.

The teardrop is coming along. It is progressing much slower than I hoped but I’m making slow, steady progress, and I still expect to have it done in plenty of time to be able to camp it this summer. I’ll give a proper update on that this weekend.

Heather is moving back in with us. Her teaching job did not pan out like she’d hoped, and the experience has been… unpleasant for her. So she’s in the process of selling her house and will be moving back in with us, probably some time in June. This means I’ll be moving the nerd cave, again. Fortunately, not into the garage. We’re playing a game of musical bedrooms in the house right now. CJ moved out when he went off to college, so Evan moved into his room. Shortly after that, Heather moved away, so I moved my nerd cave out of the garage and into her old room, which was originally the nerd cave. So now, Heather will be moving back into that room, and I’ll be moving the nerd cave downstairs, into Evan’s old room.

Make sense?

Laure and I spent a Saturday afternoon taping up and priming the nerd-cave-to-be, then a few days later I got two of the walls painted. Sometime in the next week or two, I’ll finish painting down there, and then start relocating all of my crap.

Evan’s birthday is next week, but we’re celebrating it this weekend, since the following weekend is Memorial day weekend, which is always spent at a lake about an hour north of here, with lots of family, food, music, board games, and napping.

It’s a busy month for us in general, right now.

Laure, in one of the cabins where we stay every Memorial day weekend.

Busy-ness, and my dog.

The time has really flown by these last few weeks.

I’ve been busy working on the teardrop during the weekends, and two or three evenings a week. I’m trying to keep from doing it every night so that I don’t get burnt out on it. Getting the side walls up feels like it’s taking forever and is getting a bit tedious, but I expected that. I think I’m just about done with them, barring any more unforeseen issues.

Laure and I are already making camping plans for this summer, and we got out and worked in the yard a bit this last Sunday. There is always a lot of clean up to do in the spring. We have some flowers ready to plant and we need to get those in the ground soon. Also, our raspberry bush has already started budding, which is pretty cool.

Lots of political developments. We’re seeing just how ridiculous the GOP is willing to let things get, and there is no sign of the ridiculous train slowing down any time soon. Even the possibility of nukes flying through the air doesn’t seem to encourage anyone to maybe step in and start taking some action. Although it does appear that most of what we’ve been seeing the last few weeks is just a lot of dick waving.

Missoula is coming to life again, spring seems to be driving people out doors more, which is always nice to see. I’m still not convinced that we’ve seen the last freeze of the year though. I’m afraid to turn on the water to our yard just yet.

That’s all for today. I have three half typed blog posts, mostly about my own life observations, but I’m not sure if I’ll get around to finishing one of them or not. We’ll see.

In the meantime, here is my dog.

The Step Dad

My kids are not technically my kids. They are Laure’s kids, from her previous marriage. When I entered their lives, they were three and seven years old. I’d like to say that we formed a really great bond, I tried to, but a step parent is almost always at a serious disadvantage in that regard.

I had several step dads growing up. I never had a bad relationship with them but never really had a father and son type relationship either. This is partly because growing up with a schizophrenic mother teaches you to stay on your toes, all the time, and to never trust anyone’s mood. This is something I still struggle with today. It also doesn’t help that I am a diagnosed schizoid, which is nothing like schizophrenia, just for the record. The first few paragraphs here sum it up quite nicely. In general, I have a difficult time forming emotional attachments, which explains a lot about me. I think it’s also contributed to my difficulty in bonding with the oldest.

But back to the boys.

The youngest and I are good, I think we have a great relationship. This is in part because he has no memory of his biological father, so I wasn’t forced to compete in that race. The oldest, on the other hand, that has been an uphill battle from day one, and it hasn’t gone well.

I won’t go into all the details, but Laure’s ex-husband was not a nice guy. He went away to prison for a particularly heinous, and violent crime. There were also physical and emotional abuses at home, toward Laure and the boys, as well as a complete disinterest, and outright neglect, toward the youngest boy. One would think that this would be enough to color the boys’ view of their father, but kids don’t really work that way. Memories are funny things, and more often than not, a child’s desire to remember their father in a particular way can over ride anything anyone tells them, and even their own memories.

The oldest has always had a very idealized and unrealistic view of his father. He blames the incident that ultimately sent his father to prison, on any number of other factors, and has always insisted that his dad is this great guy. This has been particularly difficult on Laure, who was forced to deal with the realities of an abusive husband, and a small town police department that all but ignored her pleas for help and sided with the father time and time again.

It was a nightmare for her. The oldest though, remembers things much, much differently.

The oldest has always seen his mother as the enemy, because that’s how his dad taught him to see her. He would make it into a game where it was he and the oldest on one team, and Laure and the youngest on the opposing team. That view has stuck with the oldest his entire life, and it has been the source of many problems at home.

There isn’t much you can do about that. I accepted pretty early on that I would never be able to live up to the standard that he saw in his dad, so I just tried to be a good dad to him and at least have a good relationship with him. Things seemed to go alright until we hit the teenage years, and then everything pretty well crumbled between me and the oldest.

I introduced them both to a lot of my hobbies, including pen and paper RPGs, which the youngest has really latched on to. Naturally I introduced them to all of my family traditions, and all the special places and things in my life. Most of the time, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing but in retrospect, I think all parents feel that way. For the youngest, many of the things that were special and important to me as a kid, are now important to him. We’ve bonded over a lot of the things that were and still are a big part of my life, and it makes me feel pretty great to have passed those things on to him.

He’s now in high school, and while we’ve hit all the usual teenage speed bumps, things are good. We have a pretty solid relationship. Sadly, things with the oldest have gone in an entirely different direction. He’s finishing up his first year of college, in a town several hours east of here. We don’t talk much, even when he comes home to visit, we tend to avoid each other in the name of maintaining familial harmony.

I take a little bit of comfort in that it isn’t just me. Laure has had a difficult time maintaining a relationship with him as well. She has a lot more patience than I do but I suppose being his mother makes all the difference in that regard. We both agree that he’s a troubled kid. He seems lost, like he’s struggling really hard to figure out his place in the world. He exhibits a lot of his father’s behaviors and views, which has solidified my belief that a child’s first few years are the most important. His father was paroled two years ago, and the oldest had never shown much interest in getting to know him. Laure even offered numerous times, against both our better judgement, to take him to visit his father in prison, but he never took her up on those offers.

We both suspect that he was worried that reality would not line up with his view of his dad, and he was afraid that meeting him would shatter that view. About a year ago, he did make contact with his dad, and has even been over to visit him a few times. Laure and I both agree that this has done even more damage to our relationship with him. Again, I won’t go into specifics, but his dad is very good at getting people to like him. He is very charismatic and knows how to manipulate people to get what he wants. The oldest is most definitely under that spell now.

We’ve been to family counseling, and no matter how bad things got financially, even during the out of work, foreclosure years, we always found ways to do things as a family. We always worked at that. While it did greatly reinforce the bond with the youngest, the oldest has always been a little bit on the outside of things, just on the edge of the circle. I think he always felt like getting close to me was a betrayal to his father. So the few times that he and I did start to get close, he always eventually made a U turn and I quickly became the enemy again. The same things went for his relationship with his mom.

He’s legally an adult now, out there trying to figure out the world with the rest of us. He’s not doing well at it, unfortunately. The only help that he’ll accept from me is in the form of money. Anything else, it seems, is strictly rejected and avoided simply because it came from me. There is nothing I can do about that. Laure insists that he’ll eventually come around, and learn to appreciate me when he’s older. I don’t know, I really doubt that.

Meanwhile, I’m glad that the youngest and I have a good relationship. He’s going through the usual, raging hormone, teenage shit that we all do, so things are up and down around the house but overall, we’re good. He plays RPGs with his friends at least once a week, usually more. He and I have a private Minecraft server that we spend a lot of time on together. We go to the comic book shop and out for lunch every Sunday, and we have a pretty good laugh together at least once a day. I think things are going to be fine between he and I.

Being the step dad is tough, for so many reasons. I like to think that I’ve met the challenge well, time will tell though I guess.

My birthday was last Thursday

I turned forty-one. It was a good birthday. We didn’t do much of anything celebratory that day, except both of us took the day off together. I really enjoyed that. We slept in, way in, went out to lunch, ran a few errands. I took a few photos of Laure, which reminded me of just how out of practice I am with my photography. We got a few good photos but I can see all kinds of mistakes I made. Still, it was great to spend the whole day alone with her.

Saturday afternoon we had an official birthday dinner with some friends, then came home and watched “Dr Strange” with Heather. It was a really good movie. I kind of lost interest in the whole Marvel thing the last few years but I really enjoyed this movie. Heather spent the night, we had a big breakfast Saturday morning and then she headed home.

For some reason I spent a whole lot of time during year forty, thinking about death. Not in the creepy, I-want-to-watch-everyone-die kinda way, but just a contemplative thing. I dropped christianity like a sack of rotten potatoes, damn near twenty years ago. I no longer believe in a god, or heaven, or hell. I also don’t believe that there is simply nothing after death. There are just too many things that science is barely tapping into, to suggest that this state of existence is all there is. I dunno, I’m sure I’ll find out though.

I think forty-one is going to be pretty good. I’ve been working out consistently, my motivation and interest in my bagillion hobbies has come back, things are good.

I’ve been spending less time focusing on politics but that has taken a bit of work to do. Shit is so completely fucked right now, but I’m trying to focus on the long term and hoping that this will end up being a positive thing.

Um… that’s all I’ve got right now. I’ve been awfully busy and neglecting my blog, so I wanted to get something up here.