This is my first award! Jessica gave it to me, and I truly appreciate it! It’s for honesty in blogging–and I actually received it in March, but my response was pleasantly delayed by the birth of Olivia!
This award comes with two requests: that I give it to ten other bloggers, and that I share ten facts about myself.
With pleasure, I give this award to:
Almost certainly, there are seven more bloggers who deserve this award–far more than that, in fact. Yet these three are the ones I’ve been following the longest, the ones I know best, thus far.
And ten facts about me:
If there’s one award I deserve, it’s definitely this one! I’ve never got in trouble for lying, but for telling the truth! I’m a compulsive truth-teller–and this is the primary reason I don’t get along well with my parents, my sisters, or my brothers-in-law. People do not want to hear the truth about themselves, or about their beliefs! It’s also one reason I have such bad luck with women–when they ask me questions, particularly about my job status, I cannot lie to them. I am improving in this area–learning not to volunteer information, and not to answer inappropriate questions–but I have a long way to go!
My European astrological sign is Aries, and my Chinese sign is the Horse. I don’t believe in astrology–I see no logic, whatsoever, in the idea that our personalities are connected to the motions of the heavenly bodies. However, I must admit that the Wikipedia description of Aries is uncannily accurate, for me! I wish I could say the same about the Horse–but I have never been “popular and attractive to the opposite sex”!
I am a strong opponent of Zionism–and consider the establishment and continued support of the Zionist State (“Israel”) an ongoing atrocity against the Arab people, and against Muslims, in general. There was no Arab/Muslim terrorism before 1948, when the Zionist State was established, and countless Arabs were forced from the homeland where they had lived and died for over 1300 years. In fact, of the three Western Religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), Islam has historically been the most tolerant of the other two–while Christianity (which, I believe, was not established or even envisioned by Jesus) has never been tolerant of any other religion at all. Of course, my stance against Zionism is not popular here in the United States–which is largely misinformed about Islam and uninformed of Palestinian history. So when my Christian family members ask why I care about the Arabs, and about Muslims, in general, my answer is simple: “Someone has to!”
I am a Type Four (“individualist”), on the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a personality symbol drawing on “classic Greek philosophy, as well as ancient spiritual ideas from mystical Judaism and early Christianity.” Unlike the Zodiac, the Enneagram is not linked to outside forces–it is strictly a psychological system of categorizing human personality types. I was told of the Enneagram by a friend, who happened to be a Catholic nun–but was, like me, prone to question everything! Curious, I bought this book: “Discovering Your Personality Type: The Essential Introduction to the Enneagram”, by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson (ISBN 0-618-21903-x). As instructed in the book, I took the personality test at the beginning–before reading the following descriptions of the nine personality types. And I was shocked at the Enneagram’s accuracy! On the test, I scored highest as a Type Four, and its description fit my personality remarkably well! Of course, it’s not a perfect fit–but it’s the closest to perfect I’ve ever encountered! I highly recommend this book–to anyone!
I’m somewhat of a spendthrift! Money is not for saving, but for spending (and investing)! I am selective about my purchases–but if I can afford it, I get it. For example, I never rent DVD’s–if I want a particular movie, I just buy it. One reason is that I will most likely watch it more than once, anyway. I’m also very generous with my money. I feel that the more money one has, the more he/she should give away. I realize those people on the edge of the road, carrying signs, are making their living that way. But as long as they don’t pester me, I give them a dollar or two. And so what if they spend it on alcohol or cigarettes? That’s their business, not mine–because one should give unconditionally. I do however, say a prayer for those people, whether I can afford to give anything or not–that the Creator will provide for all of their needs, whatever they are. Notice I say needs–there’s a big difference between what we want and what we need (as expressed in that Rolling Stones song). In fact, this is one problem with our political leaders–they give us what we want, not what we need. Of course, I also give money for charitable causes–not the big established charities (most of which I find questionable)–but to children outside supermarkets, requesting money for their school sports teams, or to the Salvation Army bell-ringers, during the holidays. And at a restaurant, I tip the waiter or waitress generously (unless I have a very good reason not to–but that’s quite rare). Same is true for my bartender–and my barber/hairstylist.
I’m a nicotine addict. Every day, I want a cigarette. I started smoking in November, 1985, when I was first admitted to a psychiatric hospital, at age 19. I smoked for several years, then quit. Then in 2007, after being smoke-free for at least thirteen years, I started smoking again. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I remembered why I’d quit the first time–I woke up every night, coughing so badly my head ached. It was an agonizing cough–lasted about thirty minutes. And being a natural chain smoker, I started coughing every time I smoked during the day, as well. Of course, the nicotine often caused panic attacks–it’s a very strong stimulant–and I had to double my Seroquel dosage (with my psychiatrist’s approval), just to be able to calm down! After a few months, I couldn’t stand the coughing anymore. So I went to a smoking-cessation class at a local hospital. We all had the same quit date, September 4, 2007. And I quit that night–and I haven’t smoked since. But I’m very sympathetic to smokers, because I know how addicting cigarettes are. When the vote came up in Florida to ban smoking in all public buildings, I voted against it, even though I had quit. But it passed–and smokers now have to stand out in the cold or the heat just to smoke. Anyone who has never smoked has no right to judge smokers, whatsoever. It is a proven fact that nicotine is more addictive than cocaine and heroin!
I love to sing–I always have! I sing in the shower, in the car, in the house, outside the house–anywhere and anytime I want! I’m a baritone, with a double-octave range. And I took voice at the University of South Alabama, as an arts elective. My instructor, Mrs. Youmans, was highly skilled, good-natured–and beautiful (I always wished she weren’t married)! She taught me, in four quarters (that was before U.S.A. was on the semester system), how to breathe correctly, how to accentuate certain lyrics, how to articulate the words, and everything else about singing. There’s alot more to singing than carrying a tune–most popular-music singers don’t sing well, because they haven’t had voice training. And I must admit, I’m out of practice myself! There are voice exercises a singer should do, every day, but I haven’t done them in years. Still, I could resume them anytime. I have a massive repertoire of memorized songs–especially rock, folk, and film/stage. But my favorite is Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”–I sing that more than any other song! There’s also a melodic chant I do. It’s from the CD, “Chants of India”, which was produced by George Harrison, and features Ravi Shankar. It’s written in Sanskrit, and taken from Hindu scripture. The words (transliterated) are: Asato Maa Sadgamaya. Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya. Mrityor Maa Amrtam Gamaya. And the translation: O Lord please lead me from the unreal to the real. Lead me from darkness to light (i.e. from ignorance to knowledge). Lead me from death to immortality. This chant is especially useful because the word, Lord, is non-specific. So you can chant this, whatever your faith. There are others on the CD that also are not necessarily restricted to Hinduism. By the way, the CD is beautiful, none of the words are in English (so you’re not distracted by meaning), and it’s a fascinating introduction to Hindu chanting. I recommend it to anyone (the UPC is 7 2438-55948-2 3)!
I’m totally deaf in my left ear. Compared to having mental illness, this is a minor inconvenience, to say the least! Still, it has had an impact on my life. I’m quite fortunate because I cannot recall ever hearing out of both ears–so I don’t know what I’m missing! This is a total hearing loss–the auditory nerve is dead. My mom tells me I had a serious infection in my left ear, as a child, and this was probably the cause. I don’t remember that, but she may be right. I didn’t even notice my partial deafness until I was six years old. I started first grade at a public school, but didn’t remain there. The primary reason was, at that time, (about 1973) they were experimenting with alternate teaching methods, which included listening to stories on audiotape (using headphones), then answering questions about them. Of course I couldn’t hear the stories well enough, and the teacher kept scolding me for being unable to answer the questions. So my parents switched me to a private school, instead–which was much better, since my teacher, Mrs. Johnson, used phonics. And I learned to read even sooner than any of the girls did! My partial deafness did interfere with my ability to play team sports, though. For example, when in the outfield playing baseball, I got confused. I had no problem catching the ball. But when an infielder would shout, “Throw it here!” I couldn’t tell which direction his voice was coming from! So I didn’t do too well in PE. And the only extracurricular team sport I tried was basketball, in the sixth grade. I scored twice–but for the opposing team, I went in the wrong direction! I did well with individual sports, though. My dad often took me freshwater fishing, and later deer hunting. I learned how to swim, very well, at the YMCA. And during high school, I took boxing training at the Mobile Police Athletic League. Back to my deaf ear, though, it did have an advantage in school. Whenever the teacher scolded us, I casually leaned my head against my right hand, closing my right ear, so I didn’t have to hear her! And to this day, I have an advantage when sleeping. Because I sleep on my right side, my right ear is against the pillow, so I’m not easily disturbed by sounds. Yet I didn’t realize how fortunate I was until one day in church, when I was a teenager. Any time people joined the church, and took their vows (United Methodist), we members would go to the front and greet them. And one morning a totally-deaf man was among the new members. He could lip-read very well, of course. As I shook his hand I mentioned that I was deaf in my left ear. And the man told me how blessed I was–for I could so easily be deaf in both ears. He was right! And I’ve felt better about my partial deafness, ever since!
Most of the women I’ve dated have been older than I. (In fact, my first sexual experience was with a woman in her 40’s, when I was just 17–I told her I was 19!) I don’t prefer older women–I just attract them more. In Mobile, I almost never had any difficulty getting dates with older women. But it’s totally different here in Pensacola. Overall, Pensacola is far more conservative than Mobile. Even its newspaper, the “Pensacola News Journal”, labels it the “Buckle of the Bible Belt”–and that’s quite accurate. What does this have to do with women’s attitudes? I think this is a hint: There was one older woman in Mobile, in a singles group, who refused to go out with me because it was “against (her) Christian principles.” There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that condemns older woman-younger man relationships (or vice versa)–so I don’t know where she got that idea. Still, if there’s one older woman like that, there are probably more. And Pensacola women, in general, are far more religious than Mobile women (notice I say religious, not spiritual–there’s a huge difference). So this may be one reason for my bad luck here. Another is that the older women I’ve encountered in Pensacola are far more concerned about how they appear to other women. And their fear of disapproval among their friends, for dating younger men, is a major factor–some have even admitted this to me. So I’ve only had two “girlfriends” (I put that in quotes because I’ve never had a relationship that lasted longer than three months) in Pensacola, whereas I had far more in Mobile. The first here, Vicki, dropped me because I made the mistake of telling her about my mental illness. And the last, Stella, dropped me because she said I reminded her of her ex-husband (On our first date, all she talked about was how terrible her ex was–I should have seen that as a red flag, and never gone out with her again!) Earlier, I mention that I don’t prefer older women. And this is true. But I never seriously considered younger women until I’d begun working at a psychiatric unit, as a certified peer specialist. While there (I eventually had to leave the job because of the stress, which initially caused my high blood pressure), I noticed alot of young, female employees–most of them student- nurses. Having just turned 40, at the time, I suddenly realized that I was getting older, and that perhaps a younger woman would be more compatible. Since then, I’ve been pursuing younger women (most in their 20’s, some in their 30’s), with as much gusto as older ones. But I’ve had no success, at all, with them. I think the reason is my maturity level. Age does not matter nearly as much as maturity level–there are many twenty-somethings who are more mature than many fifty-somethings. And though I may be immature in some areas, I am unusually mature in those that matter most. So it’s a dilemma–the same maturity of mine that turns on older women, turns off younger women. I guess a concrete example would be my night-life preference. I prefer slow-dancing at a quiet piano lounge, over fast-dancing at a loud nightclub (i.e. I wish to be able to hear what my date is saying, and to actually dance with her, intimately). And I’ve always had this preference, even in my 20’s. Kenny Rogers sings, “There is someone for everyone…” I say there isn’t just someone for everyone, but millions. For every man, there are millions of equally compatible women (and vice versa). The problem is that these millions are spread all over the planet, and there’s no way of knowing where the nearest one is. Also, the more unusual a person is, the fewer his/her compatible mates are. They still number in the millions, but not as many millions. And I’m a very unusual man–indeed a very unusual person. Still, there are millions of very unusual women, many of whom would be compatible with me. But even if the nearest one of these is less than a mile away, I may never meet her. Kenny Rogers also sings, “Most of us agree that there’s no guarantee we’ll ever find love…” He’s right. The fact that I have no woman in my life does not frighten me–the fact that I may never have a woman in my life does.
When writing (online and off-line) there is always a struggle in my mind between what I’m willing to risk revealing, and what I’m not. I think you can identify with this. Writing–poetry, fiction, and nonfiction–involves risk. Because no matter what you write, you will disturb, offend–or possibly anger someone, somewhere. Further, you will expose yourself to criticism and potential condemnation. And the more readers you have, the greater the risk. This is something I’ve learned, often the hard way, since I began writing over twenty years ago. So why write at all? Because it is your contribution to humanity. It is a gift of the Creator, which you must share, in order to honor it. Should I publish this–knowing that, because of the nature of honest personal disclosure, it may involve more risk than anything I’ve ever published online before? Yes. Because, like you, I must honor my gift, in order to be a more complete person. And I thank you for honoring me, by reading this post!