A dumb survey I took for some reason…

I’ve been meaning to write more but I’ve been busy with other projects and concerns.  Sorry about that.  I’ll try to get a couple/few posts on the blog before my inevitable end-of-the-year “top ten albums” list.  Before all else, I just want to note that I love coming to this page in the holiday season and seeing the neat falling snow that lives on the page for a little while.  I forget about it every year, and then when I see it I immediately get happy and feel a sense of peace about things.

Here’s a dumb fucking survey I pulled off a website:

55 If You Could Would You Questions Survey
(source: https://www.quizopolis.com/survey/7310/55-if-you-could-would-you-questions-Survey/)

  1. Would you go back in time?
    Sure.  But hopefully only to observe.  I wouldn’t want to change anything, including the bad stuff, because then I’d probably dissolve in a weird, Back to the Future way and another me would take my place and that guy would probably suck.
  2. Would you jump the president?
    Woah…this got intense fast.  I’d assault him with my words, but not my fists.  I don’t want to go to jail…but I would like to make him cry.  In front of his kids, if possible.
  3. Would you assasinate someone?
    That isn’t how you spell “assassinate” so I’m going to say no.  In fact, no to both questions.  I wouldn’t want to assassinate anyone, and I don’t think I’ve got the ass to “assasinate” anybody.
  4. Would you assasinate me for these stupid questions?
    Again, that’s not how you spell “assassinate.”  But yes.  With my words.  In front of your kids.
  5. Would you scare little kids senseless?
    Yours and Trump’s, maybe.  Guess that depends on how they feel watching their respective parent cry because of my words.
  6. Would you buy a whole store? Which one?
    I don’t think I’d want the responsibility…but my brother and I have daydreamed about opening our own record store in the past, and that idea comes back to mind occasionally.
  7. Would you lick your own toe?
    Would and have.
  8. Would you own a food store?
    No.  Way too much work.
  9. Would you dominate the world?
    You are ALL OVER THE PLACE.  I guess if my record store and grocery stores failed, sure…the next logical step is world domination.
  10. Would you murder Justin Bieber? If not, why?
    What the fuck?  No.  I have a basic opposition to murder as a concept.  Why would you even ask somebody that?
  11. Would you tie your friend up so he/she would stop critizing you?
    Now you’ve misspelled “criticizing.”  And you’re starting to scare the shit out of me with your ultra-violent questions.  Yes, I would.
  12. Would you stalk your favorite celebrity? Who?
    Define “stalk.” I’d see a celebrity I admire walking down the street and maybe follow them into a store hoping to say hello.  I would not follow them to their home.  And if they had their family or something with them, I’d probably not even go into the store.
  13. Would you model everyone to be just like you?
    I don’t think I understand this question.  Does this mean would I want everyone to be just like me?  Because no.  Oh, God…there are 55 questions in this and it’s going so badly.
  14. Would you sing with Adam Lambert?
    In a heartbeat.  He’s a great singer.  He’d sing circles around me, though.
  15. Would you make a useless product and be a billionaire?
    That’s the dream.
  16. Would you go out of states? Possibly the whole world?
    What?  I’d travel abroad, sure…are you asking if I’d go into space?  I mean…probably not, unless we had a viable settlement on a planet with a breathable atmosphere…but that’s some sci-fi shit there…
  17. Would you kill someone close?
    Who ARE you?  No.  Not…not on purpose.
  18. Would you hunt vampires, or become one of them?
    I guess I’d rather hunt them than be one.
  19. Would you kill off the goverment?
    Now you’ve misspelled “government.”  And no.  The government HAS to exist if nothing else than for the business of running the government and keeping the illusion of peace.  I’d revamp some things, sure…but eliminate it?  No.  (And why “kill” it?  Are you a serial murderer and this is how you’re telling us?)
  20. Would you help the ocean?
    Help it do what? What are the ocean’s goals?  What is its five-year plan?  Does it have backers?
  21. Would you make Spongebob a girl?
    Did someone want him to be?  Does SpongeBob want to be?  What?
  22. Would you rule the world?
    Well, I mean, if I’m already dominating it, I may as well rule it…
  23. Would you put all your favorite celebrities in your house and never let them go?
    That sounds illegal and crazy. You have problems.
  24. Would you have magical power?
    I am unsure what word or pluralization(s) you’ve omitted.  So yes.
  25. Would you kiss your favorite celebrity? Who?
    I’m struggling with who my “favorite celebrity” is…but if they were consenting, sure. I’d kiss ’em right in the face.  (In this scenario, their lips go AROUND my lips.)
  26. Would you redo Twilight?
    I think we said all we needed to say with Twilight in its present form.
  27. Would you kidnap Robert Pattinson?
    Jesus, no…why would I want to kidnap ANYONE?  I might say hello to him in a bar, is all.
  28. How about Taylor Lautner?
    Still no.  Was he the werewolf one?  He seemed nice.
  29. Would you touch Pattinson’s Hair?
    Sure, I guess, if it were on the table.  But how would that go?  “Excuse me, are you Robert Pattinson?”  “I am!  TOUCH MY FUCKING HAIR!”
  30. Would you live out your deepest fantasy?
    I believe the wish to live out our fantasies is why we have them, so sure I’d probably try. But it’d get replaced by a new fantasy and I’d be in an endless loop of that.  Living the dream eventually ends in never really finding happiness because you’re always chasing something else.  The chase is better than the catch.
  31. Would you go out with ALL of the boys in your school?
    Fuck yes.
  32. Would you ride a Unicorn?
    I would ride the shit out of that fucking thing.
  33. How about eat one?
    I would eat the shit out of that fucking thing.
  34. Would you be president?
    No.  I’m already the dominator and ruler of the world.  Seems a step down.
  35. Would you hunt down the guy who is destroying the ocean?
    Is someone doing that?  Even if so, I’ve got a day job and it kinda limits my time.
  36. Would you a different race?
    You’re missing at least one very significant word and I have no way to answer this as a result.  So…maybe?
  37. Would you be a animal? Which one?
    I don’t think so…I like having thoughts and stuff.
  38. Would you run fast as a snail?
    Is that an achievement? I might already do that.
  39. Would you eat your own arm off?
    I’d need a damn good reason, that’s for sure.
  40. Would you do this and that?
    I think I hate you.
  41. Would you get a new mom?
    Depends on what kind of resale value I’d get on the old one, I guess.
  42. A new dad?
    No to this one.  I’m keeping my dad.
  43. Would you quit your job?
    What are the circumstances?  I presently don’t want to.  Do I win a flobbity-gillion dollars and don’t need to work?  Do my bosses do something I find reprehensible (which is unlikely–they’re good people)?  Do I finally find love and move to a different state?  Do I like clinically NEED to follow Pearl Jam around and I just don’t have the PTO?  I’m doing pretty good there and I like it, so I’m going to need to know more…
  44. Would you help save the environment?
    I’m not really presently actively wounding it…so I guess so.
  45. Would you eat little kids? What about the annoying ones?
    Holy shit.
  46. Would you eat 500 dollars?
    Before I’d eat a kid, sure!
  47. Would you build a house?
    I mean…I’d probably need that $500 back for some materials…
  48. Would you learn a foreign language?
    Tried.  Failed.
  49. Would you live your life without electricity?
    If I HAD to, I’d try to find a way.  But I wouldn’t opt to if electricity remained readily available to me.
  50. Would you fix my grammer?
    Grammar.  And I have been this whole time.
  51. Would you tell all your friends you’re a geek?
    My friends have met me.
  52. What about a nerd?
    I’m not a nerd.  I’m a geek.  Nerds are more academically inclined while geeks are just obsessive about their hobbies.
  53. Would you join a nudist colony?
    Probably not.  I don’t mind people seeing the ol’ dingus, but I don’t like taking my shirt off in public.
  54. Would you steal something?
    Have done. Didn’t feel great.  Haven’t again.
  55. Would you kiss a stranger?
    Only my favorite celebrity.

Well.  That was weird.  Hope you had fun with it.  I didn’t.

————

Current Listening: The new U2 album.  It’s fucking great.

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“What’re you cacklin’ about, fatty? Too much pie, that’s your problem.” – Grandpa Simpson

I don’t have a lot to say these days that I’m not saying on the podcast… But let’s say some of it anyway. I think the fact that the podcast is up and running forces this blog to be a little more personal and/or serious, just so I’m not repeating myself.  But we’ll see what happens.  Anyway, I normally don’t like to do two random posts back to back, but it’s been weeks between, so…the first one’s long and serious…

  1. (I promise there are paragraph breaks in this entry. They’re hard to see on some devices though. Here’s one now.)
    Like everybody, I’ve been shocked at the list of names coming out of the Hollywood sexual assault accusations.  I’ve also been shocked at the amount of vehemence online toward situations on which we don’t have all of the details.  I guess I shouldn’t be.  I’ve had strong reactions to several of the names, too.  But I do wish that as a people we sought to *prove* innocence or guilt rather than just believing it one way or the other. I remember seeing one post on Kevin Spacey that read, “has enough been done to bring him to justice?”  And my first thought was, “To bring someone to justice…don’t there need to be charges filed?”
    On the podcast, I went into detail about my anger and disappointment in hearing about Harvey Weinstein.  I felt able to do that because he’d as much as admitted at least some of it.  I feel the same about Cosby.  I feel the same about Louie CK.  Admissions of guilt/wrongdoing go a long way when there’s otherwise a lack of evidence.
    It’s hard to prove something from decades ago.  Sometimes it’s hard to prove something even just from a few DAYS ago.  Lack of proof, of course, doesn’t mean nothing happened…but when you hear someone accusing George Takei of sexual assault 40 years ago and George Takei denying it…who do you believe?  And why?  I don’t know either guy…what dog do I have in the fight, man?  I just like Star Trek.
    It’s a sad time in Hollywood, made sadder by the fact that for probably every ten or twenty legitimate claims, there’s going to be somebody who isn’t telling the truth, too.  As sickening as it is to think about, false accusations do happen.  (Just ask Craig Charles, who plays Lister on Red Dwarf. Or Brian Banks from the Atlanta Falcons.  Or several others that aren’t hard to find with a vague Google search. Even Pete Townshend has a mark on his record that’s basically bullshit.)
    I’m deeply troubled by the accusations coming out.  I’m deeply troubled that many of the victims are and historically have been disregarded out of hand just because we like the celebrity in question. But I’m also deeply concerned about the potential for false accusation to be believed out of hand, too.  We should demand justice, absolutely.  We should also demand evidence, corroboration, admission, or at least some damn good details before we ruin someone’s life.  But we’ve become a society where the whole of our thoughts fit into 140 characters on twitter…so much so that we angrily complained when they increased the limit to 280.  We yell, we don’t ask.
    Nevertheless, the good news is that some very bad people are being caught very literally with their pants down.  And I’m for that.
  2. Told you the first one was long.  The rest are shorter.  I’m still dealing with dental work.  Went to my regular dentist last week to look into some pain I’ve been having in a front tooth and he didn’t find anything worth fixing.  So that was a waste of insurance money…but at least it was good news, I guess.  Bad news is the oral surgeon is going to cost an arm and a leg.  I’m trying to get it pushed back to January so my deductible will reset before I go in.  So far, the two times I’ve tried calling they’ve already been closed for the day and talking to an answering service is roughly the same as standing on my front porch and shouting the message…  So here’s hoping to get someone on the phone next week…
  3. The migraines have lessened following the first tooth extraction.  But they’re not gone.  I was having them weekly.  Now it’s been a couple/few weeks and I just finally had one on Friday night.  But that was a night at the end of a very long, very stressful week that ended with me missing lunch on Friday then going to a wedding reception with a DJ who used non-stop strobing lights.  So there was a lot going on there.  And even then, the impact was less than it had been with previous migraines.  So I choose to view that as progress.
  4. Why can you only find chicken like the kind you get at wedding receptions at wedding receptions?  It’s delicious.  Yet I have no idea how they do it, where to get it, or what the hell.  All I want is tasty chicken.
  5. Thanksgiving is soon.  It’s been weird the last couple of years.  Over the past several decades, my brother and I (and as the years passed, the rest of his family) have gone to see my mother’s side of the family for a big dinner in Cape Girardeau, MO.  The last couple of years (including this one) there have been cancelations of the event and we’ve had to figure out other things to do.  This year it makes a lot of sense to cancel as one of the people who’s been at the heart of putting it together for my whole lifetime is facing down some serious medical issues.  Last year it was also canceled for reasons that are a little less clear to me, but I’m sure are solid to somebody.  Left scrambling, last year I went over to Dave and Valerie’s place and we had dinner.  This year, with a bit more time to scramble, we’re doing the same, but Dad and Susan are coming over too, so it’ll feel a little bigger.  It’s weird seeing a lifelong tradition starting to fall away.  But I’m looking forward to a good day this year.  It’s my favorite holiday.
  6. Christmas is just around the corner too, huh?  I normally make the first draft of my Christmas list on Halloween–a tradition I think I got from South Park several years ago.  I’m behind this year.  I’ve bought a lot of the stuff I wanted already, so it might be a lighter list.  But that’s actually cool with me.  In the past several years at Christmas I’ve actually had more fun going over to Susan’s and eating the food and watching the kids open stuff.  Which is really how that should be.  But, wow…it feels like I just stopped thinking about Christmas from last year!
  7. It dawns on me now that moving the oral surgery to January is probably a good idea because of all of the holiday eating, too, huh?
  8. I haven’t done a damn bit of work on my next album since I last mentioned it.  Just been a mix of lazy and worried about my health.  Just need to do it.  2018 will be here before I know it, and I’d really like to put out the record in the Spring.  It’s going to be a good one.  I’m very happy with the music.  I just need to put words on it.  And then get some photos taken, if I plan on it having any kind of cover…
  9. Oh! I went to a Halloween party, by the way!  A friend threw a party  and I knew a couple of people who were going, so I went.  I spent a lot of the night sitting by a fire he built in his backyard.  Which was actually kind of funny, because at one point everyone else had wandered back inside the house except for me…so to the casual, late-arriving observer it might’ve looked like I got bored of the party and wandered off to start a fire in the backyard.  (I wouldn’t put it past me.  I once got bored at a party and took a bottle of wine into the bathroom, ran a bath, and got in for a bit.  Using their towels was probably a little violating…but it went from being a bad party to “remember that time when Derek took a bath at our party?”)  Anyway…  It was a fun party and I met some nice people.  So that’s good.
  10. In other news, I’ll be playing bass with the Feldman Group again on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (Nov 25).  I’ll try to post details when it’s a little closer…watch my Facebook page.  It’s a place near my house, but I don’t remember the name.  It’s almost useless that I’m writing this…

I think that’s it.  Hope it was something.

————

Current Listening:

  • A lot of Leonard Cohen, lately.  The 1-year anniversary of his death was last week and I got to thinking about him.
  • Also a lot of Rollins Band.  Because my tastes are inconsistent.

“Donuts. Is there anything they can’t do?” – Homer Simpson

Haven’t posted in a bit.  Let’s do the random thing.

  1. Had a tooth pulled. Went pretty good.  It took him all of 15 seconds to pull it–I was stunned at how fast it was once it got going.  Haven’t had a lot of pain.  A little bit now and then, but nothing like the pain I’ve felt in the past.  Mostly just random twinges that are gone as quick as they come.  I’m going to be calling this week to schedule an appointment with an oral surgeon to remove FOUR at once on the opposite side from the one that was pulled last week.  They’ll knock me out for that.  A little nervous, but think I’ll get through it okay.  Probably take longer to heal from that round and I’m sure it’ll have pain with it.  They’ve got to dig at least one wisdom tooth out from under the gums this time.  The works so-far hasn’t helped my migraines yet–I got one on Friday night.  Hadn’t had one for two weeks prior to that though, so I think maybe the tooth-pull had something to do with triggering it.  I’m okay with that, as long as they go away eventually.  More on all that as it happens.
  2. Podcast is going pretty good.  Go check it out.  Uploads every Thursday that I’m not in some way sick.
  3. Saw the Descendents and The Get Up Kids a couple weeks ago.  I talked about it in detail on the podcast, so I won’t repeat myself too much…but it was a great show and made me really happy.  If you get the chance to see either band, take it.  I’ve been particularly buzzing on The Get Up Kids ever since the show.
  4. Been watching a lot of Star Trek, particularly working my way through Deep Space 9.  Good show.  Wasn’t that familiar with it–it didn’t get re-run at times that I ever really caught it and I missed it in the first run, save for a handful of episodes.  Knew enough to know I liked it, but hadn’t seen probably 85-90% of the episodes.  It’s been a great journey watching it.  On to Voyager next (which I did see most of in reruns).  Star Trek is the perfect escape from and commentary on the times in which we live, and I’m so glad we have it.
  5. Going to go see Nick Lowe with my favorite luchador surf band (yes there’s more than one, but the others are rip-offs) Los Straightjackets next week.  Should be a fun, surfy good time.
  6. So Harvey Weinstein’s a piece of shit, huh?
  7. I think I also need to see an eye doctor after all the tooth-stuff is done.  I haven’t been to one in several years and with the migraines screwing up my vision, it’s probably a good idea to go in and make sure nothing’s wrong there, either causing it in the first place or residual.  I’m sure I need new glasses regardless.
  8. A friend invited me to a Halloween party I plan to attend.  It’s a couple of weeks away and he asked me, “Are small, plastic spiders a problem?”  (He knows I’m terrified of spiders.)  I said, “It depends on how small and how plastic they look, I guess.”  And he said, “Ehh…I’ll just take the spiders down.”  Folks…THAT is a good friend!  🙂  (He was also kind enough to ask me if I’m okay being around alcohol because he knows I’m sober…but it’s the spider thing that really meant a lot to me.)
  9. For the record, I’m fine being around alcohol.  Invite me to your bullshit you jerks.
  10. I’ve got a whole bunch of other stuff I want to talk about, but most of it will go on the podcast…so I think I’m done for the night.

Current Listening: Godspeed You Black Emperor – “Luciferian Towers”

…and that’s the TOOTH!

This might end up being kind of a downer of a post, but that seems to be the majority of what I post these days anyway, doesn’t it?

I’ve got some health stuff going on.  Over the past year or so I’ve written occasionally about having what I think have been nocturnal seizures.  Haven’t had one of those (that I’m aware of) since January, but I have been having frequent migraines.  Migraines that impair my vision and send streaks across my sight for 15-30 minutes every time they happen…and that’s usually how they announce themselves.  No other major warnings other than “I don’t feel quite right…” then my vision goes funny, I pop a couple Excedrin, and I wait it out.  It’s been happening about weekly.  My last one was on Wednesday, with light sensitivity following on Thursday.

Before anyone tells me to go to the doctor, believe me I’m planning on it.  Back in January when I went in to an Urgent Care they did a scan of my brain and it came back clean.  No masses or tumors or anything like that.  So it’s nothing like that, and the $200 I spent to find that out was worth it.  (Even though they *told* me it was going to be $100, then billed me three months later for a second deductible for the MRI visit…but whatever.  Medicine’s a scam.)  I’m not too worried about finding out I’ve got something serious, because I already know what it is…it’s my teeth.

I’ve got bad teeth.  I have for years.  It’s mostly because when my wisdom teeth came in, I didn’t treat them (ouch) so all four (ouch) came in (ouch) with no medication and three (ouch) of them impacted.  The one that didn’t impact has (ouch) since broken.  So…if it was JUST those four teeth, it’d be a lot, but the lack of treatment at the time has taken its toll on the surrounding teeth as well.  So I’ve got a bunch of decayed, fractured molars and such.  Sometimes they hurt.  Sometimes they don’t.

I noticed as far back as ten years ago that sometimes when there’s extra pressure in my mouth (swelling and what-have-you) they’ll make me dizzy or even a little disoriented.  But it passes and I move on.  And I’ve noticed in the past two years that each nocturnal seizure of which I’m aware (3) have been preceded by oral issues.  And I’ve noticed that I’ve had more frequent pain on the right side at the broken wisdom tooth before each migraine in the last month…I really think the last one was caused by me simply “chewing wrong.”  I am certain the teeth are causing the migraines.  And I think they even caused the seizures.  I’ve read up on migraines.  They can cause seizures.  I think that what’s happened to me is that I’ve been asleep, a migraine has come on, and my brain didn’t know how to process it since I was asleep, so it gave me a seizure, instead of just wonky vision and a subsequent dull thud behind my forehead.

So…why haven’t I gotten it fixed.  It’s not fear.  It’s not even money (although it’s a **little** money).  And I’ve gone in to the dentist a few times.  In fact roughly this time last year, we were taking about doing some of the needed extractions and I left it with a “let me call you to schedule it later” and I just plain didn’t.  Because of the time investment.  Because I’m going to have to miss some work.  Because I’m going to have to take time between surgeries to heal and learn how to eat with missing teeth.  Because I’m going to have to figure out if partial plates or whatever need to go in and what kind of time investment THAT’S going to take.  And because…believe it or not…up until now, it’s been BEARABLE.  It hasn’t been comfortable, but it’s been a nuisance from time to time that I’ve been able to largely ignore.  But now the headaches are making me nervous to drive.  So I’ve got to get this taken care of…and I’ve been trying and failing to do so.

I like my dentist.  He’s an old family friend and a good dentist.  Which is why I delayed at least one week before calling…  I’d gotten sick just after the funeral I posted about in my last post (with a running nose, cough, and 101.2-degree fever) and I didn’t want to cough all over him.  The cough persisted for longer than expected and I’ve actually still got it a little, but I can mostly stifle it.  So I waited that out.  Then I called…and he was on vacation.  Then I planned to call yesterday and realized I’d waited too long and his business hours were over.  Then I called today and found that he closes at noon on Saturdays and I was calling in the afternoon because I sleep late on Saturdays.  And now he’s closed Sunday and Monday, per his regular hours.  None of this is his fault…it’s just been bad timing.  But man…when it rains, y’know?

I’m going to get something on the calendar on Tuesday.  And I’m going to go in and tell him which tooth has been the worst offender and he’s going to pull it.  And I hope that stops the migraines at least for a while.  Then I’ll go back to get other teeth pulled, but I know for some of them he’s going to bring in an oral surgeon because he doesn’t think he can get a couple of them himself.  I think I’ll ask to be knocked out for those.  I’m not scared of the dentist…but that sounds scary.

And I’m hoping that at that point I start to feel better.  And I don’t just mean the headaches.  And I don’t just mean the seizures.  I mean that from the moment my first wisdom tooth came in in 2006 (possibly earlier–can’t recall)…I haven’t felt good.  I’ve been in pain for at least 11 years.  I haven’t ever said it that way, and probably no one realizes it…but I genuinely can’t remember the last time I went a week without flinching at a tooth pain or feeling lightheaded or feeling disoriented or feeling grumpy because of oral pressure or feeling nervous because I don’t know when the next tooth problem is going to happen.  11 years of that.  For some reason it took me that long to choose to feel better.

I wonder who I’ll be after that…

On Larry Doggett

The first conversation I ever had with Larry Doggett came because he was a professor at the college I’d chosen to attend.  I didn’t know anything about him, but recognized his last name. And because he seemed kindly and approachable, I walked up to him after class and said, “Hello Professor Doggett, my name’s Derek.  By any chance, are you related to Tim Doggett?”  And Larry said, “Well kind of, he’s my son…”  At that time Tim and his family were in the Congo, where Larry had worked for nearly 25 years prior.  We talked for a few moments, then at the end of the conversation Larry said something that I’ve carried with me…  “Don’t try to impress me by becoming a missionary.  Be who God wants you to be.”

Then over the next 17 years, we moved from professor/student to colleagues to friends.  In that time, I’ve heard Larry tell stories of being in the Congo and having to flee because the war shifted a number of times, carrying only what was most important to him.  I’ve heard him tell the story of his daughter in law saving his life in a plane crash a few dozen times.  I’ve heard him talk about the painting that sat in his basement that “one of the Africans” did with house paint; a copy of which Larry presented to the President of Burundi.  I’ve heard Larry mention in passing on his way to other topics that he was responsible for taking the first printing press into the Congo.

And yet, he told me all of that without any of it coming across as bragging.  I had to get details on all of those events that to most would be life redefining from other parties. Larry would mention those things, but only because that’s how the story went…he wasn’t trying to impress anyone. (I’ve said for years that the only reason his name isn’t in history books is because he didn’t want it to be.) The only time I heard Larry brag was when he talked about his wife, his kids, or his grandkids.  I said to his wife today that every time Larry told me a story about Africa, he included the words “…and NANCY…”  In a world where we all want egalitarianism, a man in his 70s/80s always went out of his way to point out how strong his wife was and how much he leaned on her.  That’s something.

Larry signed my ordination certificate when I “officially” went into ministry.  A lot of people can say they’re in ministry because of Larry Doggett…  I’m fortunate enough to have it in writing.  Larry told me he was proud of me on a few different occasions.  I’m glad to say I also made it clear to him that I considered it an honor to call him “bwana.”  He called the people he particularly cared for “bwana.”  I knew that was his habit, so the first time he did it to me, I was so touched I failed to ask what it meant.  It’s Swahili.  The only colloquial definition I’ve found is “master” or “sir.”  Apparently it’s also sometimes used to refer to “God” when uppercase.  Regardless, it seems to indicate a show of respect from the person saying it.  Larry didn’t brag about much…but that he called me “bwana” is something I’ll brag about for the rest of my life.  And I’ll wave my ordination certificate around while I’m doing it.

Larry also used to punch me in the shoulder as hard as he could at infrequent but recurring intervals.  He sometimes did that to people he cared about too, if he thought they could take it.  I’d seen him do it to others before he did it to me, so I was prepared the first time it happened.  And prepared for the smile and laugh that came with it.  He never announced it.  I’d be standing there talking to someone else, and Larry would saunter alongside me, just outside my field of vision, and punch me in the shoulder.  I don’t really have anything else to add about that.  But it used to happen.

I have told Larry a couple of times that I’m honored to call him my friend.  He was humble about it.  Almost dismissive.  I think he found being praised a little embarrassing.  But I told him how much I thought of him more than once.  Larry knew I respected, appreciated, and celebrated his accomplishments on the mission field and also here in the States.  Aside from the fact that we didn’t see each other enough in these last few years, I have no unresolved issues with Larry Doggett, and I’m very, very grateful for that.

Larry Doggett passed away early Monday morning.  His funeral was today.

The funeral wouldn’t fit in a mortuary.  It wouldn’t fit in a church auditorium.  It took place in the gym of the college where Larry worked up until the end of his life.  But even that didn’t contain it.  There were also phone calls from colleagues of Larry’s from Africa that played over the sound system.  There were prayers in English, Spanish, and two different African dialects.  There wasn’t room in the whole COUNTRY for the people mourning Larry today.  As his granddaughter pointed out, there were people on “at least 6 of the 7” who mourned with us today.

One of Larry’s daughters spoke briefly and asked all of Larry’s family to stand.  It’s a large family, but comparatively made up a small percentage of the room–there were hundreds of us there; one family member posted on Facebook that the estimate was around 700 in attendance.  She then asked that if there were any who considered themselves spiritually part of Larry’s family to stand.  If anyone of the hundreds of people there were left seated, I think it must have been that they didn’t hear the question.  She got pretty much the whole room on that one.  Her name is Jenny.  She serves and lives in Mexico.  She’s the first member of the family to recognize me, walk over to me, and give me a hug.  We hadn’t seen each other in probably ten years.  I hugged several Doggetts (and spouses, etc) that I haven’t seen in ten years today…and each of them were kind, generous, and welcoming.  Must run in the family.

It was a beautiful service.  There were sad moments and also happy ones.  There was some congregational singing…but little of it was sad and teary as you’d imagine of a funeral.  The songs were of the “I’ll Fly Away” variety for the most part–complete with people clapping along on the wrong beats.  It was in some ways a joyous event.  The family made it clear from the start that they did not wish for it to be called a funeral.  They wanted a celebration.  Larry’s wife preferred the phrase “Larry’s HOMECOMING.”  That’s such a strange concept for anyone outside of the Christian faith.  And also for some of us who are in it.  But if they wanted a celebration of Larry’s life…they got it.  Yes, there were tears in many eyes…but they were tears because Larry lived a life that earned the celebration; while we were sad to be there, we were happy to give it to him.

When I heard that Larry had died, I was sad, but content in knowing there was no unfinished business between us.  I only had happy stories.  I was carrying that with me all week.  I was happy to have known him.  Then walking in today, I was half way to the door when I felt the weight of knowing that Larry would’ve been the first person to welcome me if he knew I was there.  He’d come over, call me “bwana,” punch me in the shoulder, and make sure I was comfortable and welcomed.  And it hit me that he wouldn’t be doing that today.  I walked a little slower, then made it into the room, a little unsure of how I was going to do with it.  Then I found others who I knew, and we all had happy stories.  And we all greeted EACH-OTHER and made sure we were comfortable and welcomed.  And it was all okay.  Larry wasn’t there…but he was…

I’ve said that I didn’t have unfinished business with Larry.  And that’s a good place to be.  There was, however, someone there with whom I did have unfinished business.  A LOT of unfinished business, dating back probably a decade or so.  We’d been in the same room a few times over the past ten years, but avoided one another.  There have been events where we’d both be present, and when we’d make eye-contact one would head for the nearest exit.  We made eye contact today and in a moment that I can only think Larry was helping to orchestrate, my thought wasn’t “where’s the door?” Instead I was struck with just one word… “Enough.”  I walked over to the person with whom I’ve had 10 years of anger and hurt, stuck out my hand, and said, “I know the last time we spoke it wasn’t pleasant.  For my part, if anything I said or did made anything hard for you or your family, I am sorry. Life’s too short to keep carrying it.”  Within a few moments, we were hugging.  I went today to bury a friend…and while I was at it, I got to bury a hatchet.  A burden was lifted today.

And maybe that’s the best representation of Larry’s legacy I can offer.  Larry always pointed people toward reconciliation; with God, with one another, with their own past…  Larry wasn’t there today…but he was…  And I think he was probably happy.

I will miss Larry Doggett.  But I’m so glad we met.

Thanks for everything, bwana.

“The government just issued an Orange Alert, which again means… nothing.” – Kent Brockman

Been meaning to write for a while.  For what it’s worth part of the reason I haven’t is WordPress has made some changes I don’t like and they’re pushing me to add stuff I flat-out WON’T because this isn’t designed to be a monetized blog…but that’s all creator/owner nonsense that shouldn’t impact anyone but me.  Let it be known that unless you see me specifically mention it, no ad you ever see on the blog is endorsed by me and you shouldn’t fucking click it.

That said…let’s do an everything/nothing post…  Simpsons quote in the title, etc…

  1. We had an eclipse here.  About half the country had an eclipse, in fact.  I didn’t watch it.  Wasn’t interested.  Absolutely every picture I’ve seen looks the same (except, conveniently, the ones from NASA or the ones where somebody fucked up and something artsy happened by accident) so I feel like I’ve seen it, even though I didn’t. I spent most of the day irritated at the businesses that closed for it; particularly at the place I’d planned to go for lunch.  Which closed at noon, with the eclipse more than an hour away.  But I digress…  Hope those who found it mystical (although I’d debate the magic of anything we can accurately predict down to the second) were happy with whatever they saw in it.  I opted to keep staring at my work computer screen.
  2. I’ve started up the podcast I was talking about a couple of posts ago.  It’s going pretty well!  Good amount of listens/downloads.  It’s going a little better than I was anticipating, so that’s nice, especially if it keeps growing.  Go give it a listen.  The Empty Checking blog can be found at http://derekbrink.blogspot.com. Or if you’d prefer to listen to it direct from the host, the no-frills SoundCloud posts can be found at http://soundcloud.com/emptychecking.  I’m having fun with it, and I hope you are too…  New posts every Thursday!  Probably!
  3. One of the things I talked about in brief on the first episode of Empty Checking was the death of Glen Campbell.  He was great.  Not just a country singer, but also a member of the Wrecking Crew, having played on even the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” album.  A great musician and by all accounts a great guy.  I’ve got a decent amount of his music, but with 60+ albums to his name, I’ve barely made a dent.  Big loss to the music world.
  4. Then this week Jerry Lewis died.  I was VERY sad to learn that (although it can’t really be called “unexpected” since he was in his 90s).  I’ve been a big Jerry Lewis fan for a very long time and in the past I’ve been an MDA contributor because of his telethon.  I’ll be talking about him on Empty Checking this weekend in long-form.
  5. Also on the podcast (this is getting dangerously close to just being a promo spot, but seriously, listen to the damn thing!) I updated my thoughts on the new Doctor Who.  In a previous post I said I would be hesitant to see a female Doctor.  Wanted to update my thoughts in writing here in addition to what I said on the podcast…  While I still have reservations about what a female Doctor might mean long-term for the show’s ratings and while I still believe it’s a transparent PC publicity stunt (that could VERY easily backfire)…I like the casting choice.  I’m very familiar with Jodie Whittaker from her work on Broadchurch (which stars pretty much the entire fucking cast of Doctor Who past and future).  She’s great.  If anyone can pull it off, it’ll be her.  I’ve gone from hesitant but still loyal to kinda excited, but still hesitant, and still loyal.  So that’s improvement.  🙂  Assuming it’s well helmed by the new crew, I’m expecting to be completely won over in the first episode.  We’ll see!
  6. Been grumpy lately.  It’s partly because I’ve recently hung out with people I used to go to church with and I miss them and I miss that church and I haven’t felt motivated to do too much about finding a new one.  I’ve been sleeping in most Sundays.  I wish my prior church would start some service it makes sense for me to attend…but they aren’t doing that.  So I’ll just be grumpy when I see the people I never see anymore.  Y’know…the hardest part about that is that I don’t get invited to much stuff anymore…  When you’re a member of a church, they say you’re “family.”  But find yourself unable to attend a service and suddenly you’re acquaintances at best.  The friend circle that regularly gets together outside of church services stops texting you, you don’t get asked to come along to special events, and Facebook sends you reminders of how easily you lifted out with their daily “On this Day” feature…  And that sucks, man.  There are people I’d have helped move bodies two years ago that I’m probably never going to see again because of one stupid fucking time-change.  And I’ve been harping on it all this time.  I just don’t fit in most churches…I’d found the one where I did and finding another one is like looking for a unicorn in a sewer.  But I’ll shut up about it now.
  7. Haven’t done a damn thing on the new record.  I’ve been focusing all my energy over the last two weeks on–you guessed it–the podcast.
  8. Been watching 30 Rock on Netflix.  It’s fine…but I don’t feel like I’m missing anything during the times where I stop paying attention.  Tracy Morgan and Jack McBrayer are both funny as hell though, so they’re keeping me in it.
  9. In case you’ve not noticed there’s been more racial conflict in the country.  I’ve considered writing a lot of different stuff about it. A lot of my thoughts have been randomly and abruptly tweeted–the empty void of Twitter is pretty much where that stuff belongs.
    Long story short…  I see why people want to tear down Confederate statues and I think their hearts are in the right place…however a lot of Black people I know think it’s a wasted gesture that’s just causing violence and Nazi rallies and that the money could be better spent funding inner city schools.  I have trouble disagreeing with that.  Shit, most of us wouldn’t know where those statues WERE if not for the protests over them coming down.  But that’s irrelevant…
    The violence in Charlottesville was reprehensible, of course.  (Most of us wouldn’t know where that town was either…)  There’s just no excuse for killing in the name of “pride.”  And there’s no excuse for beating a man for the color of his skin.  And there’s no excuse for not arresting every fucking ONE of those racist sons of bitches for using hate speech intended to incite violence.  BLM protesters get arrested…usually those protests aren’t violent until the cops show up.  The milk-toast cops who didn’t swing one baton or fire one gas canister at the Nazi rally…
    Y’know…I’ve been a lefty a long time and again, I think a lot of people MEAN well…but I’ve been a little embarrassed that our response to Charlottesville has largely been a cry of, “THERE’S A NEW CIVIL WAR COMING!!!”  There isn’t…no one’s funding it, no one’s leading it, no one’s succeeding, and no one’s going to be able to have the military presence to stand against their own country’s military.  It isn’t a war unless you’re able to fund a war.  It just isn’t.  But if it were, you’d know you were on the right side if you beat the fuck out of a Nazi.  And those idiots are so mind-numbingly fucking stupid that they don’t even have the sense to wear hoods like the KKK.  (You’d also be right to beat the fuck out of a Klan member, were it war.)
    And on that same note, the division between the left and the others on the FAR left is stupid.  So is the division between the left and the right on this particular subject–because frankly I don’t think there IS a division in general.  “Racism is bad” is an almost universal thought and the people on the right are disgusted to have the racists using their brand to speak their garbage…  And I know there’s a racism of ignorance at play too.  I know a lot of people have racist attitudes, but would be shocked and offended to be CALLED racists…but that’s not who we’re fighting.  We’re fighting ACTIVE racists…and even those who don’t see their own racist attitudes hate the supremacists.  The left should be joining the right in condemning the racist minority (albeit emboldened by Tr*mp) instead of trying to make it all about ourselves.  Yeah, fight ’em on healthcare…but when the right is disowning racists, the enemy of your enemy is your friend.  And we’ve got a lot more friends than the celebrities we’re listening to on twitter are allowing us to believe.  Plug into your own thoughts…talk to your own friends and acquaintences…stop listening to the media who’re only interested in creating the next bloody story and think for your damn self.  You’ll find some common ground to stand on.
    So that’s jumbled…but those are my thoughts.  It boils down to just fucking STOP it and treat people like people.  Unless they’re Nazis.  Fuck those guys.

That got long…so that’s it.  Go listen to the podcast.  Or make dinner.  Or go to bed.  Or go to work.  I don’t know when you’re reading this.

————

Current Listening:

  • Glen Campbell – Ghost on the Canvas
  • Guided By Voices – How Do You Spell Heaven?

Processing What I Wish I’d Known at the Time

I don’t know if there’s a “trigger warning” on this post or not…but I’m going to talk about rape in it.  And I will also be using some very strong language–because this sort of thing is the time and place for it.  So know that going in…

Brief pause so you can consider if you want to keep reading or not…

Okay.

This weekend a very brave, close friend of mine went public with her story of being raped by a former “boyfriend” in college.  (Part one is herePart two is here.)  And even though I’m posting those links, I’m going to be using pronouns instead of names in this post.  I’m not sure how much is appropriate to say in my own post, so I’m going to at least not use names…  And I’m not going to soften it by calling it “sexual assault” or whatever.  Rape is rape and we need to keep calling it that.

I had no inkling that my friend had been through this, although I knew her well at the time that it happened and had even made small talk on a couple of occasions with the “boyfriend” in question. In fact, I can see his face in my mind right now as I’m writing this…  This entire weekend I’ve been thinking about what I missed, when I missed it, and when I should have known better.  The entire weekend, I’ve been thinking about the fact that if I’d even suspected that after he shot the breeze with me in the Library, he went off and raped my friend, I’d be in prison right now for what I’d have done to him.  I don’t know what happened to him after she (thank Christ) got him out of her life.  I’m not sure I’ve even thought about him since then, and it’s been about a decade.  But right now I hope the motherfucker is dead and no one cared enough to look for him.  If I could say one thing to the cocksucker, I’d want it to be the last thing he ever heard: “Jesus does not love you and God never knew your name.  No one will ever miss you.”

But I digress.

My friend was very brave in sharing her story.  But it took her 10 years.  Ten years ago, I was hoping my church elders didn’t figure out that I drank and cussed in my private life, otherwise I’d have a really awkward conversation…  At that same time, my friend wasn’t sure she could tell the people close to her that she’d been raped.  I know that you can only know what you know…but I’ve felt a deep mix of shame and embarrassment over the past couple of days.  Not only did I miss that someone I care about was going through what is probably the worst thing that’s ever going to happen to her…but when I heard they “broke up” I think I even said, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”  I feel sick thinking about those words.

I’ve e-mailed back and forth a little with my friend since reading her blog post. One of the things I’m grateful for is that her story doesn’t end 10 years ago.  She found a great guy to marry and they’ve got kids and everything now.  I’ve expressed a lot of what’s above in my e-mails to her, plus some other stuff that I’m not going to be printing here.  I’m proud of her for sharing.  I’d be proud of her if this hadn’t ever happened and all she’d done was graduate college and lived a nice life with her husband, too.  But knowing that courage grew from fear…she might be the strongest person I know.

I’d have been sad and angry about what happened regardless of when it transpired.  But I’m struggling hard with the fact that it was during a time where I saw my friend at least weekly; usually more often than that.  I don’t know if I could have stopped anything.  But I wish like hell I’d had my eyes open enough to at least suspect something and say, “Are you okay?” rather than, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

I’m learning a lot this weekend.  I’ve decided that this is an opportunity for me to learn and grow and open my eyes more often.  I don’t want to miss an opportunity to help again.  And I want to make some promises to my female friends and family members.  I want them to know that I am among the MAJORITY of men who find rape disgusting.  That I’m furious at the men who do it, the men who cover it up, and the men who pretend that the victim probably brought it on herself.  I want them to know that inasmuch as it depends on me, I will fight for their safety.  That if they’ve been attacked, I will do what I can to defend them, and if they share their story with me they will be BELIEVED and not blamed.  I want them to know that I take personal responsibility for my actions and if I’ve ever been wrong or treated them inappropriately I am not only sorry–but I MEAN that I’m sorry and I will do everything I can to change…

I want to promise to do better, to be better, and to fight against what’s worse.  I hope others will help me do that.  I don’t know what that means just yet.

I do know that I’ve donated to RAINN this weekend.  If you’d like to do likewise, please visit https://donate.rainn.org/.  People who’ve been hurt need to know that there’s a story after the story, and organizations like RAINN help people find it.  Check them out.  But be forewarned…donating to a charity doesn’t take away the pain of knowing what you missed.  It’s just something you can do.

Thanks for your time in reading this post.  I have a lot of internal processing to do.  Probably a lot of people do…I just happen to think out loud.