Archive for December, 2011
Chances are, if you are married to your wife, you are having sex with her – whether it’s frequent or infrequent, that does not matter to my argument. And if you aren’t having frequent sex because she doesn’t want it, she probably hasn’t ever really orgasmed with you. If she is making a big production about orgasming, she is probably faking it. If she is shivering exactly at the moment you hope she’ll orgasm (right before you do), then she’s probably faking it.
To start, as a member of the Church I’ll assume anyone reading this who is having sex is doing so with a member of the opposite sex to whom they’re married. If you aren’t bound by the same principles, my words still apply of course.
If you read my blog entry on the three pillars of a successful relationship, you’ll know that intimacy is one of those pillars. That’s right, you’re supposed to have lots of sex with your eternal partner. If you don’t, then you aren’t binding yourselves together in a way that will help you withstand the assaults from a very difficult world. You need that binding, thus you need that sex.
I have a good friend, who we’ll call Jim. Jim’s wife was into all kinds of kinky stuff when they got married. That was good, because Jim was into it too. She “gave it up,” so to speak, to my friend Jim as often and as kinky as he wanted it. They had the first sex on a premarital basis, but he is also a member of the Church so he ended up marrying her. Then the sex started slowing down. She decided she didn’t want it so frequently. She openly wondered whether she really wanted any more sex at all – and if they did have sex, would she still have to in the Celestial Kingdom?
I slept in Jim’s spare room once. His wife made all kinds of caterwauling noises when they had sex that night. This woman would confide in me in the kitchen, how her husband doesn’t know anything about anything. How her husband can’t make any money. How his business is stupid. How frankly, he is stupid. She gave off the strongest “please help me cheat on my husband” vibe I think I’ve ever felt. I realize, she’s not a great example of a wife, but she’s also a member of the Church. Gentlemen, avoid this situation by talking with your wife about the sexual subjects up front at the beginning before you marry them! And if they have the same proclivities as Jim’s wife, keep control of the situation – lead through love and keep her in line (it’s her job to keep you in line, too).
Jim’s wife isn’t the only wife who is like this. What I do know is that men everywhere have similar experiences with their wives:
- Wives who don’t want sex more than once per week.
- Husbands who have elevated sex drives, but don’t ask their wives for sex for any number of reasons.
- Wives who make a big show of orgasming, but I promise you they’re faking.
- Wives who use sex as a weapon.
- Wives who don’t DO anything but sit there and let you do all the work.
#1. You cannot hide orgasm as a man – it is one of the blessings of being a guy. The only problem we have is how long we can hold out till the deed is done. And all women talk, so any woman who knows your woman will know exactly the details of your rigor (or lack thereof).
#2. If your wife does not want sex regularly, there is something going on.
- She may not be able to orgasm
- 1 in 10 women can’t orgasm at all.
- 8 of 10 women have varying degrees of being unable to orgasm.
- As few as 7% of women can reliably orgasm through penetration.
- TRANSLATION: 93% of women have some level of difficulty orgasming through sex, or they cannot orgasm PERIOD
- She may only be able to orgasm on her own, or perhaps only with certain sexual acts (like oral), or perhaps only with toys.
- These are three things you can work with her on, and broaden her horizons. Two partners in loving sexual acts can work wonders, and can break down barriers. It takes love and it takes patience.
- She may not be attracted to you any more. You have to face this possibility, and you have to ask her. It doesn’t matter if she has gained 200 pounds of fat and a pound of acne since marrying you – she still has the brain of the svelte 110-lb sex kitten you married. If you let yourself go through laziness, or through revenge for the weight she gained, she will have difficulty being attracted to you.
- She may be attracted to someone else. This is also a possibility. If she’s obsessing about another guy (or girl, this is the 21st century after all), she’s not going to be into it with you.
- If we were talking about a man, I’d suggest it were a porn problem. As I mentioned in a previous post, however, women get the same satisfaction from Twilight, or perhaps dirty romance books. The object of someone’s obsession doesn’t have to be a real person.
Again, if she’s not orgasming, she won’t want regular sex. If she can have a good, hard orgasm where her whole body reacts to the effects, she will want sex at least as much as you do. A healthy woman with a healthy sex drive will want sex at least as often as you do.
#3. The tell signs of faking orgasms.
- She doesn’t want sex
- At the same convenient moment during sex, she holds onto you really tightly and shakes her body, even fake little quivers
- Without the right corresponding reactions, you feel her clench her vaginal wall muscles at just the right time, each and every time.
- Men, you aren’t detecting her orgasm; you’re detecting her phony orgasm.
- She makes a ton of noise at exactly the moment you really get vigorous, like animal sounds that don’t sound natural
A woman orgasms differently from a man. She doesn’t have a blob of fluid to expel – her body reacts to the event, but doesn’t generally produce anything. You only have so many fluids, so you can only orgasm so many times. Women can potentially come dozens of times in a couple of hours – the worst fakers can be caught because they pretend to orgasm like men – once at the end.
#4. If you aren’t asking your wife for sex:
- Is she abhorrent to you because of her personality, or has she severely let herself go? I’m of the firm opinion that she needs to (as I heard Dr. Laura say one day) always treat you like she did when she was trying to convince you to love her. That means putting forth the effort to look young and act young.
- Are you thinking about other people? Are you thinking about your job? Are you tied up mentally with pornography? Are you distancing yourself from your wife for any reason?
- Are you avoiding sex with your wife for any reason at all?
#5. Wives who use sex as a weapon. Many people, men and women alike, believe the power is in the vagina. It’s not true, but the root of it is in the act – you are giving and she is receiving. A receiver can always reject the gift, but not the other way around. However: just like you need the participation of a vagina to have proper sex, she needs the participation of a penis to have proper sex. Don’t let a woman dangle sex in front of you to make you miserable – in the end you can both please yourselves, but nothing like you can please each other if you work at it.
#6. Wives who don’t do anything and let you do all the work. She’s not orgasming. If she were, she’d be working with you to make more of them happen. She is doing #5 above, and using sex as a weapon – you are sweating and getting nothing emotional in return. That’s empty sex and little better than pleasing yourself. Again, your wife holds onto the mistaken belief that all power lies in her vagina.
Things to avoid:
- Pornography. All you’ll be doing is expecting your wife to put on that fake show the porn girls do, to do things potentially harmful, and maybe to get plastic surgery. You also won’t be making love to your wife; you’ll be making love to the woman you saw getting hammered on the movie or in the photos. See #4 above. If she’s abhorrent to you, you have to fix it – not satisfy her sexual advances by thinking about a woman you have no right to screw while you’re inside the woman you’re obliged to make love to.
- Toys. I’m firmly against sex toys. They’re a crutch. I know a couple that cannot have sex any more because all they know is how to please each other with toys. The wife put her foot down as an evil excuse to start sleeping with other men, asking after 20 years of marriage for him to please her naturally or she’d find it elsewhere. That’s just one bad example, but let me tell you – toys fix nothing. I’d say they’re also potentially dangerous in that your wife is learning to love the feel of the object, and not your body. Anyone can use that object on her and she’ll be equally pleased.
- Swinging. As I had to tell my friend the other day, “There’s no such thing as a bisexual swinger.” There’s nothing good that can come from swinging. Your wife actually wants you – and just you. Any woman who tries to get your love by swinging is just waiting for the moment she can
- lock you down
- shut off the swinging, and
- hold it against you forever.
Don’t do it with anyone you care about – you will demolish what’s left of your relationship. The tortured logic I’ve been subjected to, justifying swinging – it’s just that, tortured logic, and not logic at all. Usually, this is how it goes:
- Husband says he wants to add partners to the bedroom, but really he wants a pornography-like multiple-woman scenario.
- Wife gives in and ends up watching her husband have sex with another woman.
- Wife thinks about it and gets increasingly upset as the days, weeks and months pass that one, or multiple, experiences.
- Wife demands to have a multiple guy experience. She doesn’t want it for the pleasure, she wants it to get back at her husband. She usually asks for the husband’s good friend to be the poor sap who joins them, so that her husband can have the pang of jealousy watching another man enter his woman.
- Relationship deteriorates with the parties one-upping and hating each other until they divorce.
I’ve seen this one play out several times. And yes, with members of the Church as often as anything else – I even know of one couple where the husband is elder’s quorum president. That’s his cross to bear, he has his own trials and we all have our own as well.
The moral of all this is: You are supposed to be having sex with your spouse. You are supposed to work with your spouse to overcome any walls she’s built up to fully enjoying the experience. Your sex should be making love – two people trying very hard for 5-50 months to please each other as much as possible. Sex should be the fulfillment of your love, not a weapon or opportunity to hurt anyone, and not defiled by you thinking about another person thanks to porn or an adulterous mind.
- Concentrate on your spouse
- Make it the most amazing sexual experience of her life
- …and it will come back to reward you.
I have a wonderful job… now. It took me a long time to find the right one. With the trouble so many people have in finding work, or finding the right work, my story could help you or someone you know. If you or anyone you know are thinking of joining the military, or going to law school, or looking for a job in a troubled market, this is the post for you.
I am an executive recruiter, so I go looking for high-powered execs to fill holes in leadership teams. But I went through a lot of jobs to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Here is my story.
While I was growing up, my dad worked – when I was a baby he was his own boss, running a 1-man company called Aqua Electronics where he serviced the tuna fleet. The tuna fleet left to Samoa when the US said we didn’t want to do things like killing cute little fishies any more, so dad got a job working for other people. He changed jobs every couple of years until he started another company: Fourward Technologies. That’s Four Wards, as in my 3 original brothers and me. It’s a tough name to stick to now that there’s technically 10 of us through marriage.
I learned a few things watching Dad work: He loved what he did, he worked a lot of hours, and he traveled a lot. I also saw him take a night job, teaching Calculus at City College here in San Diego. He seemed to like that too. As he likes to say, “Everyone in my family is either a dirt farmer or a teacher.” I guess he leans toward the teacher side.
My first “job” was working for my mom in her network marketing business. She sold Sunrider (and still does, for that matter). I would call and place product orders. I would take calls from customers and fill them (and collect the checks when they came to pick up the stuff). I would set up for her meetings, and tear down afterward. Later, I would run the business completely for her while she’d be away for weeks at a time to see the man who would eventually become her husband (Jeff). She would get mad because I would order a little extra here and there, but when I did that she never had to wait a week to fill her customers’ orders. I liked to get out ahead of the need a bit, that’s all.
After I left her home, I had no marketable experience. I worked for my dad for the few months I lived at his office, making $8.50/hour. I thought I was so rich! I could pay for the car I was driving, I could go out with my friends, and I could attend every concert that came to town. I always had great seats, because I would call another city’s Ticketmaster line, like Los Angeles or Las Vegas, and ask questions about the things coming to town for 10 minutes. They’d ultimately talk about the concert I wanted to attend, and mention the tickets were going on sale in 3 minutes, how lucky for me (I knew this already). They’d place the order for me, and I’d always get seats in the first six rows. I doubt this tactic would work any more, but there you go.
After my short stint at Dad’s house, I ran away and lived with a friend’s family. I was motivated to find work, but I was only 17 and didn’t really know where to look. I have absolutely no interest in manual labor, so I stayed far from construction and the like. The family I stayed with had a friend who worked for the Sony plants, so I found out which staffing agency puts people in and applied. They put me to work on the CD-ROM assembly line making $6.50/hour. I was standing next to this kid who was putting himself through college with the work, and I hated every minute more than the last. After 1 day, I got sick/depressed and didn’t get out of bed. It was horrible. The staffing agency said they had another area in the plant for me to try out. I got all geared up and they put me on the end of the old TV tube oven. It was like a 1/4 mile long oven where old-style television tubes came out. They’re really hot and they sometimes break while they cook, so when they come out broken you have to stop the line, get someone to help, and take the broken tube off the line. Day 2 of this job and the tv tube sliced through 3 pairs of gloves and into my finger. I got stitched up and quit.
AIR FORCE – I really didn’t know what to do at this point. I could type, but no one needs a young guy to type for them. I had a couple of random odd jobs but nothing close to what I’d need to live. I couldn’t mooch off people forever, and I definitely couldn’t go back to my parents. What to do? My friend’s dad told me to try out the military (my previous posts relate this story) and so I ultimately chose the US Air Force. The family I was with had a cousin who worked in the office where you choose your jobs, so she gave me a cheat sheet to study as I waited for boot camp to start, and she told me about 13 special tests the military has for their more important jobs in the enlisted work force. All of the services use them, and their recruiters never tell you this, but it’s also the only way to get the good jobs, no matter how smart you are.
The first thing you have to do to join the military is take the ASVAB. It’s easy. If you do terribly, just take whatever job you can and try to make yourself smarter. If you’re that dumb you probably can’t read this post anyway. If you do well, the other tests become available to you – but you have to ask for them or you’ll never hear about them. I took two of the special tests – the DLAB (to get into language school) and the EDPT (mathematics test to get into science-heavy jobs). The DLAB test made up a fake language where, for example, the word “trash can” is “I”, the word “bear” is “am going” and the word “computer” is “to the store” so “Trash can bear computer” means “I’m going to the store.” I did well, and got into language school. I recommend anyone who wants a good job in the military take as many of the special tests as they can.
So I got into language school. I spent 16 months in beautiful Monterey, California, studying Korean. I got to pick my language because of that family friend I mentioned above. It was a good time, and not as hard as it sounds because my only job for 8 hours a day was learning language in class. I did pretty well, I tested pretty well at the end, and then I went to another school for 6 months in the armpit of Texas: San Angelo. But the classes were stimulating and I got to learn how to work in shifts. Then they sent me to Korea for a year, and then Hawaii for three more. Shortly after getting to Hawaii I realized I had better hurry up and figure things out because I wanted out of the Air Force as soon as possible.
This is where I threw myself into college (after starting and dropping out at Honolulu Community College). I finished really quickly and at the same time found that I loved my Business Law & Ethics class. So maybe I’d not only finish college but do graduate school! So how do you go to law school? You have to take a test.
LAW SCHOOL TEST: The LSAT – If you know anyone who wants to go to law school, make them read this whole blog, but especially this part of this post. The LSAT is the standardized test you have to take to get into any law school in America. And there are a couple of ways to prepare for it.
My information first came from a lawyer I knew – my school President’s son. It went like this, “When I was going to take the LSAT, my friend was too. He had better grades than me. He decided to take the Kaplan LSAT prep course, but I couldn’t afford it… it’s like 1,000 bucks. Instead, I ordered every test the LSAC (the organization that administers the LSAT) sells – because they’re all previously-administered tests from past years. I took one test each week for the 16 weeks prior to the test date, and one every day of the final week. In the end, my friend got a 155 and I go a 165.”
I listened to his advice. The same time I was taking the test, some twin girls at my university were taking it too. They went on to become valedictorian for two successive semesters. They took the Kaplan course: TWICE. I took all the old tests on my own time. They got a 155, I got a 167.
I highly advise you or anyone you know who’s going to take the LSAT, to follow my example – it works!
DISCLAIMER: If you consider yourself some sort of bookwormy genius who can’t accept a score lower than 170, then neither of the above examples will work for you.
Back to my story. I went to law school and I was a terrible law student. I was consistently near the bottom of my class. About a year in, I ran into a friend who was a year ahead of me. He said I absolutely had to try out the MBA program. He said it made him feel smart again. He also said I could take two classes in the business school and get out of two law classes – that was enough for me!
I did much better on the MBA side; it kind of felt like high school work because it was so easy in comparison to the law school stuff.
I finished up law school in May 05, took the bar in July 05 and started my first real job 3 days later. I was working for Global Wireless Entertainment, which is now known as Skinit.com. My job lasted a year, and then I was laid off. I knew it was coming, but I didn’t prepare. You know in small companies when you’re going to be laid off – everyone looks guilty who knows. But I had long since really stopped working very much, because they didn’t include me in anything and there was no way to proactively do work (When I tried, they shoved me back into my office).
So now I was out of work. I picked up a little contracting work, but not nearly enough to pay the bills. I was getting desperate, and a very good friend hooked me up with his best friend, who gave me a shot at recruiting.
I took to it like a fish to water. Now here are my lessons on finding jobs – from the perspective of a job hunter, a headhunter, and someone who looks at resume’s each and every day. I talk to potentially hundreds of execs in a week if I’m heavy on the phones, so I know what’s out there.
Looking for a Job?
1. Clean up that resume. Make someone else look at it if you must, but make sure it’s clean and clear, like a facial scrub.
2. Look at who you know. A warm intro, so to speak, will do more than 100 blind resume send-offs. People you know are connected in some way to jobs that are open. You have to have the chutzpah to ask them, though. It’s the only way.
3. Find a company you want to work for. Figure out who the CEO is. Figure out the email format they use – it’s usually the same for all employees at a given company. Email the CEO no more than 3 well-written sentences saying why you want to work for their company. You email people you need to reach with brief emails because a) CEO’s are busy and b) you want to avoid spam filters. The CEO will get a quick idea of what you want to do for his/her company, and will pass your email along to the appropriate VP. You now have created a warm intro. If you ignore my advice and send a 20-page diatribe (or even a 1-page diatribe) listing off all the reasons you should get a job, the CEO will not have the slightest inclination to read your BS and your email will go into the trash. Find another company and send your next note along. Don’t spam the CEO – if they don’t reply, move onto another company.
I have one more bit of advice: Don’t be a job hopper – stay in a job, if at all possible, for 3-5 years. Anything less than 2 and our clients look askance. If you have a few 1-2 year stints, you’re in deep water. If you have a 20-year career of 1-2 year stints, you can assume none of my clients would look at your resume. Why would they hire you if you’ve shown no inclination to stay with anyone else for more than 1-2 years?
The country is divided. The world is divided. It always comes down to a tribalistic feud that starts at the color of your skin and devolve from there. And America is no exception.
In America, the white folk have been told for decades that they’re inherently racist. Racism = evil, so that makes white man evil. Obama’s favorite pastor said, after all, “The White man’s need fills the world’s greed,” and that’s because only white people are greedy. These are the things we’re told. I’ll start by telling you my experience.
I’m white. I’m bald. That’s that. You can’t change the color of your skin unless you’re Michael Jackson (but then you’re dead anyway). I am not poor, I am educated, and I’m Republican. I have no excuse that pulls me out of the “We all assume you’re a racist,” category.
First of all, I have experienced racism. I lived in Hawaii (on Oahu where most of the people live) for four years. Racism there is really bad against white people because they believe we stole their nation. I’ll get back to that point in a second. While I was there, I learned to stay out of the locals’ way. They are not happy to have us there. At school, the administrators are locals, and they would give me the wrong office to go to when I needed something, over and over again. I was married to a Polynesian, so when I dragged her with me into that office, they magically came up with the right office to go to and stopped speaking to me rudely. While I was in Hawaii, people got shot for being white – literally, a guy went into his driveway to do his part to encourage and continue racism (which in this case meant bending down to pick up his newspaper) and a local-neighbor killed him him. The local admitted when he was arrested that he shot the poor guy for being white – it was in the paper.
Now, for my beef against the locals. They try to claim island heritage but the islanders are dead! There might be 10,000 pure Hawaiians left, and they’re all old. Their children all married Asians or white people. And yet locals expect a free private school education and free land if 1/32 of their blood is Hawaiian? So out of their 32 ancestors, 31 are something else, but because one great-grandparent got knocked up, or knocked someone up, they’re entitled to special benefits? It’s quite un-American. What they really are, is an entire State that doesn’t really like capitalism, and thinks it’s perfectly fine for everyone to rely on the government for jobs. Everyone I knew spent their youth trying to get a job with a government agency or a school, so they’d never have to work hard or find a job again. Never mind that before we “stole” their land, anyone who wasn’t royalty was the personal property of those who were. That’s right, they were enslaved to their kings.
And here’s the Hawaiians’ dirty little secret: the real Hawaiians were long since killed off; Tahitians came in and took over the place generations ago. The word “menehune” was likely the word for the nasty little short Hawaiians that the Tahitians came in and killed. Pure blood indeed. And it’s good that there’s Tahitian blood there, since the French came into Tahiti and almost bred the Tahitians out of existence.
So yes, I lived in a land where I was a minority, and I was discriminated against as a fundamental part of their culture. Neither I nor anyone I know has ever treated someone like that for the color of their skin. You see, I think white people are the only ones who took to heart Dr. King’s wish that people could be judged by the content of their character.
Second, non-whites seem to feel perfectly comfortable being openly racist. Here’s one example: I’m bald, as I mentioned. One day I was engaging in the horribly racist activity of walking into the grocery store. I had my headphones on, so I was in a little bubble rocking out in my own mind. When I was about 30 feet away from the entrance to the grocery store, a black couple walked out. They stared me down with that recognizable chip on their shoulders, hate spewing from their eyeballs. What had I ever done to oppress them? They obviously feel more than comfortable hating, as comfortable as breathing.
Inter-racial hatred is out there. You saw it with the blacks rioting for Rodney King – targeting Korean shop owners. My parents thought it was because the Koreans work hard, but the fact is Koreans hate black people too, so I’m sure it was physical payback for years of stink-eye and second-hand treatment. Polynesians are horribly racist against Asians, unless they’re part Asian of course (and then they tend to lean toward Asian supremacy). You can go on and on through subsegments of humanity, and you find that every group has a collective antipathy toward one or more other groups. It’s simply how we’re built as people, and for white folk to claim they’re not racist is naive or worse.
Over and over again you see stories in the news about racist students trying to start white clubs on campus, and the school (Rightfully) shooting them down. What happens when college students in Michigan want all-black dorms? Why can Latinos form clubs of La Raza (that’s THE RACE)? I was personally appalled at that one, as my law school had it and I thought law students should have matured to the point that they wouldn’t have a racist name to their club. Yes, they didn’t have club meetings talking about hating other races, but it’s part of the overall La Raza umbrella which is quite racist. You have African-American clubs. You have Asian clubs. And on and on.
If you get too many of one particular race together, they start devolving into smaller segments. Asians in particular will start segregating by nation of origin, and sometimes even regions within nations. Latinos will as well, since they can come from anywhere between Tijuana and Santiago.
But no one bats an eye about any of this. One way to look at it is that it’s quite condescending. “We the white people have evolved to the point where we don’t need to band together any more, but we will let the little backwards native types form their little tribes.” If we are going to have a standard, we should hold it for all – the rule of law applied commonly regardless of race or creed. We are equal or we are not. We aren’t helping other races if we let them retreat to their little subsets of humanity.
And here is where we have a solution: We have to first admit who we naturally have problems with. The advocacy groups for various races don’t help. If I don’t like illegal immigrants, the Latino advocacy groups say I hate all Latinos. That’s not true; I personally think the Latino population of America is going to save us from ourselves. If I don’t like thugs in Baltimore who are destroying their city (and being empowered by the city leadership to do so, plus years of government coddling), black advocacy groups would say I hate all blacks (even though my very best friend is black). When I spoke out on Facebook about the hateful jihadi types, I was informed that I hated all Muslims (when I lived with a Muslim family for years). You see, facts don’t matter when you have a vested interest in continuing the hate.
What white people have done well is make the haters a scourge. The actual people who hate other people and are willing to stand for it – the KKK types, the skinheads, etc., are branded as unwashed, unwanted slime and kept out of society. And none of us stand up for them. Unfortunately no other race has collectively caught up. Their first instinct is to circle the wagons around their entire group. I don’t know what the motivation is because I don’t understand the tribal mentality, but I suspect it has to do with fear that their group could get harmed by losing a subsegment of that group. Illegals are a subsegment of Latinos. Thugs are a subsegment of blacks. Jihadis are a subsegment of Muslims. Are they willing to rid themselves of their cancerous subsegments? Not until they do will equality reign.
Those of us who grew up Mormon had a childhood set apart from the rest of the world. We were in the world, but we were not of it.
Oh, how much we wanted to be of the world. How dearly we wished to be cool. But even when we would hang with the cool crowd, there was an air of “different,” or “nerd” about us because of our standards which we wore on our sleeve. When we were young, the standards were bright and shiny. For most of us, when we were older (high school and such), we rolled up our sleeves to hide that shine a bit.
For us Mormons, we always knew the uber-Mormons. We knew them because they would shine like a beacon on a hill. They would uphold every standard, chide us for missing standards, and then look hurt when we just wanted to fit in for a few hours each day. I’m related to some of these beacons. You know them because even in a crowd of weirdos (also known as Mormons), they don’t fit in at ALL. But 90% of the rest of us learned to fit in over time.
But try we would to fit in. I remember in 1st grade, when I was going to school at Lakeside Country Day (now gone from this earth because the owner died and his greedy children desperately wanted to cash in on that land). The playground had various structures made from old tires. I remember playing with a foul-mouthed friend, whom I never chided for his language. I stuck my head out of the tire and said, “Shit!” quite by accident. That was my first bad word. Even though I did that, I still remember telling on Taylor Valentine for calling me a dillweed. You see? I was in the world, and trying to look like I was of it, but I just was not.
No matter how much you try to fit in, people find out you’re a Mormon. I’m sure the first thing that happens is they go asking their parents over dinner (see how old-fashioned I am? There is no more “over dinner” – it’s drooling over your frozen meal on the couch in front of Glee reruns) what a Mormon is. Within a day, the kids are back at school asking how many moms I have, or how many wives my Dad has. Then in later years they’ll ask about magic underwear. They’ll ask if we go to Church in that huge white thing in La Jolla. They’ll ask if I come from Utah (in the same tone they’d ask if I came from Neptune). They ask if we have a golden Bible. My favorite are the ones who ask if we’re polytheists, and how many wives that means we can have. It’s best to just start with a basic English lesson at that point. With each one of these questions, our coolness factor drops through the floor and we’re reminded that we are a world apart from the world around us.
Then, sooner or later we find out we can’t date till we’re 16. So then we look at girls our age and realize we can’t really talk to them, because dating could ensue. For me, I was two years ahead in school and thus I wouldn’t hit 16 till 4 months before graduating high school. I stayed away from dances, and so met no girls. If I couldn’t go to school dances, I wasn’t about to go to Church dances, so I didn’t get that exposure either. Then I was in my senior year realizing I was coming up on my last Homecoming, and knew my parents’ answer before I asked, “That’s a dance, you’re not 16. Sorry.” I went to my prom, but I had been going to an all-boys school so everyone thought my distance from girls meant I was gay. So I asked the prettiest girl I knew if she’d go with me. Then I had Disneyland grad night. I asked the prettiest girl I knew of (well I went to her brother and mother first) to sorta get her on loan for the night. Who knows what happened to her. At least prom night girl is still a friend, and one of the cooler people I know. What a cluster.
Anyway, back to our weirdness. I’m trying to show the lifetime of avoiding ridiculously over-repeated questions. Here’s one: in grade school, Teresa Wilson thought it was funny every single one of the 367 times she told the story about passing a ward building in her car with a friend, and the friend asked, “Is that the Moron Church?” Oh man I hated that.
But now, us Mormons (and excommunicated Mormons waiting on the sidelines) are gaining cache. There’s an increasing coolness factor to us. But we haven’t changed! What’s going on here?
First of all, I’d say President Hinckley’s massive temple construction surge helped. Now in just about every important city in the Western world, there is a temple. The most visible symbol of our faith can now be seen in what is really the only modern mega religious architectural marvel. That helps to familiarize us with the Gentiles.
Then, we have Big Love. I have my complaints, such as the fact that the writers get to double-dip. They portray polygamy, with many of the airs of the LDS Church, and get to show our most sacred ordinances and rituals, and still poke fun at the uber-nerdy Mormon family constantly trying to convert the single mom who’s really a hidden third wife. That might be triple-dipping, or quadruple-dipping. They’re obviously no friend to us, but what it does is finally draw a distinction in pop culture between what it means to be a Mormon and what it means to be a polygamist. Nice first step.
Then comes the Jeffs weirdos. Mr. Jeffs goes to jail for running his weird 1850s-style (and Big Love bad guys-style) polygamist compound. People now see a connection between Big Love pop culture and real life weirdos. They start to get it a bit.
Then comes Mitt Romney. He fixes corrupt Olympics, and he has good hair, he is a governor of a really blue state (and gets criticized by fellow Mormons who believe that the only good Republicans vote against any tax over 0%, jails people who get abortions and who sell the Pill, and never compromises on anything. They believe it’s much better that he stand on principle, win 3% of the Massachusetts vote and have a noble loss, thereby leaving the State to another 4 years of liberal leadership. The shortsightedness is baffling and more naive than I can stand. I’ll put it another way. If far Left is -10, and far-right is +10, my idiotic purist compatriots would rather have a -8 than a +3 because it’s so noble to lose.).
And now Mitt runs for President! He looks like a normal guy – he is a little wooden, of course, but I think that comes from the way we Mormons stand apart. He seems like any other guy with a calling at Church to us, but to the outside word they want to see some stains on his character, something that reminds them that he’s human. They won’t get that, but I sincerely hope they get him for President.
Next comes The Book of Mormon on Broadway. We have now sunk down to the level of South Park. We can officially say Mormons have become an everyday occurrence in American pop culture. Very nice.
But just when you think we’ve made enough inroads from the periphery, there are billboards everywhere! But it now looks a little contrived. It’s like when every TV show had a black guy who was the funny, ethical guy. Or when TV Shows put in a gay guy to be the funny, ethical guy who had the only loving, caring, honest, faithful relationship in the show while they were surrounded by lying,c heating, boyfriend-trading, hateful heteros. Are we being pushed into liking Mormons now? I suppose it helps to show that we don’t have horns. But still, I kind of get my back up against a wall waiting for a criticism about that. I feel like it’s going to force me to defend the Church’s decision to spend dollars on these ads. But that’s just me.
All of these things happen, and it helps. But we still live in a separate world from everyone around us. We go to school and know that we are in a bubble apart from all the other students. I go to work and I know that I need to stay in my bubble, because when I get stuck going to events with my coworkers they’ll all be falling over drunk, cursing up a storm and looking at me weird for not being drunk with them. And I can have a bad mouth every now and then, but it’s something I work on. I think that helps show them I have stains on my character. And I’m rather free with the knowledge that I’ve been excommunicated. More stains. But they know I have the bright-blue letter M on my chest, even with those stains. They can see Mormon written all over me. When there’s a Mormon exec to call they tell me to get my Mormon love fest on with the exec to make him our ally. Which I do. You see, I know the lingo. I know the secret handshake (so to speak). I can joke about how I’m a California Mormon, so we think Utah is kind of on the other side of hell. They always get a kick out of that. Call this a bubble within a bubble. But still, the bubble extends between us.. There’s a silent exchange of nods, as if we know and are comfortable with this person being in our bubble but we don’t want to be seen as weirdos so we won’t exchange too many pleasantries or relieved sighs about it.
We’re still in our bubble. Our bubble can’t be pricked by those around us, even if we want it to. We are Mormon. We don’t have horns. We aren’t polygamists. We don’t all live in Utah. We don’t all cram into the Temple every Sunday for worship services. We don’t have any problem with soda. We don’t drink coffee. We aren’t weird.
Well, we’re a little weird. We just don’t really want to be. Now go look at that billboard before you ask any more [stupid, tiring] questions.
(From a 2008 writing class)
With an assignment on hobbies, I’m obliged to bring up the piano. Though I have many other passions, I’ve simply spent too many hours with these black and white chains to bring up idle interests. For me, the piano is a burden I cannot release. I instantly think of thirteen years of lessons, untold competitions won and lost, beratements both within and without, and countless smiles and heartbreaks. Every time I see that curved wood, my heart wrenches for what I should be able to do but cannot bring myself to sink into. And yet I still play on occasion, but I almost wriggle out of my skin when I politely listen to anyone else play in almost any circumstance. I fear this torment will never fully leave me.
I write this blog entry as I’m wrapping up a trip where I saw family in Austin, had 2 meetings in Austin, had a meeting in Atlanta during a 2-hour layover, and had two meetings in Raleigh and only 2.5 hours on the ground before returning to San Diego. This trip occurred between 8am Sunday and 6pm Monday. I love this stuff.
I just love travel. My mother grew up traveling around the world every summer with her father (and mother, and then stepmother). While I was growing up, my father would travel all over the country and all over Europe for his business. Travel is simply in my blood.
As with anything else, travel is something you have to do right in order to have the most fulfilling experience with it.
#1: Consistency. If you travel for work, make sure you pick an airline or two and stick with them. One of the big perks of travel is frequent flyer status, and the other are frequent flyer miles. Last year, I traveled with my bosses on whatever airlines they flew, and when I traveled alone for work I took the cheapest flight available. By the end of the year, I had 12,000-15,000 miles on USAir, American, Delta, Continental, United and Southwest. Had I consolidated my travel, I could have qualified for frequent flier status on two airlines – which I did this year. It’s not worth the $20 savings to buy the cheapest airline – with just a little advanced planning you can get a very competitive rate and push yourself toward airline perks. Also, it didn’t help me to rack up 75,000 miles across all those carriers because their frequent flyer miles are incompatible with each other. I get no free flights from all that travel!
#2: Comfort. If you travel for work do not travel in your work clothes if your flight is longer than an hour or so. Travel in comfort. You can ruin a good suit/dress by sitting on a plane for 5 hours in it. Take a suit bag with your clothes in it, and change in the handicap stall in the bathroom when you land (if you have a meeting right away). Otherwise, wait to change until you get to your hotel.
#3: Working. If you travel for work, try not to work the whole time you’re on the plane.
#4: Learn to sleep on a plane – sit against the window and lean against it to sleep. Nothing makes your work more effective and your mind sharper for meetings, etc., than to have a great nap to the lull of the airplane engine.
#5: International travel. The goal is to avoid missing a beautiful, exotic spot on the other side of the planet via jet lag. To avoid this problem, I stay up the night before. Then I’m so tired I have to sleep through the many hours of flight – and if I have to encourage it with two NyQuil gel caps, I do that too. This trick is how I taught myself to sleep on planes – enough times, and your body responds to aircraft sounds with the unquenchable desire to snore.
#6: Packing. A few points here
–>a. Rolling: My grandmother (my mom’s stepmother) taught me this one. Take your clothes and roll them up really tight, one at a time. You can potentially pack twice as many clothes in the same suitcase this way. It’s like rolling a cigar – and all your clothes will be tight little cigars you stack on top of each other – even the underwear!
–>b. Shoes: If you’re traveling for work, wear the nice shoes with your pajamas/jeans – NO ONE CARES. But it keeps you from having to pack them. If I’m traveling long enough to need more than one pair of shoes, I always wear the bulkier shoes for my plane trip, even if they don’t make a lot of sense for the rest of my ensemble. Then kick your shoes off for the flight!
–>c. Wrapping. There’s no reason to take up suitcase space with them. Anything breakable, I wrap in jeans/sweats/something like that.
–>d. The BULK. In conjunction with #2 above and if possible, I wear everything bulky onto the plane. If you have a jacket and a
#7: Talking. You’re stuck on the plane with a couple of strangers. Why not talk to them? Start by asking if wherever you’re going is their final destination. They want to hear about you, and you can learn something from them. Don’t succumb to your inner introvert: you are already cramped in coach with them. How much more cozy can it get?
#8: Sudoku. Learn to like it. It’s in the airplane magazines and can keep you busy awhile.
#9: Traditions. My dad would buy Popular Science before the flight, and would order Mr. & Mrs. T’s (bloody mary mix – no alcohol) to drink. I now do the same thing. I have added cranberry juice to my ensemble, since it’s good for your kidneys and I’m sure flying dries you out. Figure out your own traditions and do it! Traditions can extend to other parts of the trip – I make a point to eat at hole-in-the-wall restaurants if I can find them. Sleep naked in your hotel room – no one can see you! Take a bath – they’re paying for the water! Whatever your traditions are, they can help relax you during otherwise stressful travel.
#10: Hotels. I like to stay at boutique hotels – they’re often reasonably priced, and they give you a trendy, edge place to stay with marvelous amenities. They’re just as easy to find on Hotels.com or Expedia as the major chains. Also, stay at the same hotel when you go back to the same city. You can start getting rooms upgraded, free wifi, etc., if you’re seen as a regular.
#11: Don’t do bad things. They will come back to haunt you. We live in a very small world and your actions will come back to haunt you.
#12: ET phone home. Call/email/text home. They miss you.
#13: Junk food. I can’t tell you how many frequent travelers I know whose health has gone to pot and whose girths have doubled or tripled. You don’t have to eat at Denny’s, McDonald’s or Waffle House. There is plenty of delish food out there for a reasonable price. As for me, I love Indian food. I can buy Indian food in any city on the planet, and it’s always good. Pick your food and find it.
#14: Exercise. You don’t have to pack the gym gear (though more power to you if you do!). Make a point not to take the escalator/elevator if it’s reasonable to do so. Take the stairs. Walk 10 blocks instead of cabbing it, even if it’s cold or hot or whatever your excuse may be. Don’t order take-out food (dovetailing with #13), walk to a nearby restaurant and feed yourself there.
#15: Take pictures. Anywhere you go, there may be something that moves you. You can turn a mundane trip into something exciting, or take an exciting trip and preserve it forever.
#16: facebook. Share where your’e going and what’s exciting to you. Your friends and family are interested. You could inspire them!
#17: Shaving. Shave before you go. Once, in Austin, I shaved like any other day. What I didn’t know was that the water there is terrible. It got into my skin and I broke out like I had a fungus or something. It was horrible. Take care of that stuff just hours before you leave. If you are traveling too long, you’ll have to shave, but you may be used to the water by then if you’re bathing regularly.
#18: Caffeine. If you’re traveling for work, you don’t have to prop yourself up with caffeine. You can make yourself alert with the proper balance of protein and sugar. Today, I had a tuna sandwich and a peppermint hot chocolate from Starbucks. I was alert, with only a few hours’ sleep.
#19: Loved ones. Take them along sometimes, if your’e traveling for work. They will happily wait in the hotel room/poke around town while you’re doing something for the office. Then you get to retreat to your Love’s embrace.
#20: Security lines. Be ready. Don’t be “that person” holding everyone up. Untie the shoe laces while you’re in line. Take off your jacket. Pack your fluids in a Ziploc before you leave the house. Empty the pockets (I put all of my things in my bag as soon as I leave the car).
#21: Parking. Find one lot you like to park in. In San Diego, the commuter terminal has a lot that costs significantly less than the more convenient lots. I park, walk across to the Commuter terminal (which I very rarely use), and then take the shuttle bus to my terminal. I save time and the shuttle is free! There are always more distant lots which are cheaper, but the lot owners don’t really pay their shuttle drivers. You end up with a shuttle driver who gives you nasty looks because he expects a tip. You’re already paying for parking – don’t pay for the ride, too!
#22: Extended leg room. For $50-$75 each way, you can upgrade your seat to more legroom. It’s worth it if your flight is longer than 2 hours.
#23: First Class/Business Class. Sometimes you can upgrade to these for as little as $50 each way. It’s worth it if your flight is longer than 2 hours. The flight attendants treat you with more respect, too. And you get more points. And you can get fed. It’s worth it and your’e worth it!
#24: Charging stations. If you have electronics, charge them up while you wait for your flight to board. There is little more frustrating than getting on a plane with a half-charged iPhone/iPod/iPad/laptop
#25: Keeping Track of the Regulars. I’m a natural-born forgetter. And yet I travel a lot. This travel tip may be my most important. When you travel, there are little tickets (e.g., for parking), papers (e.g., tickets for various flights), keys, your wallet, ID/passport, etc. You need to have one consistent place for everything. Check before you leave the house to make sure it’s all there. When you get out of your car at the airport, put it all in your special spot (e.g., a particular pouch in your bag). When your’e packing up from the hotel, check to make sure it’s there. You can completely avoid the disasters from losing any one of these things by forcing habits on yourself. I’ve seen seasoned executive travelers show up at the airport just in time for their flight and realize they don’t have their ID! To avoid this problem, and avoid the embarrassment from it, I always travel with two forms of ID. That way if one is stolen/lost while I’m far, far away, I am not stuck being unable to board my flight. I have a passport and my driver’s license. Either one will do, but both ensures I sleep peacefully in New York, Chicago, Raleigh, Atlanta, Austin, Houston, San Francisco, Portland, Cleveland, Boston or anywhere else.
Many people have assumed that since I suffered under bad discipline as a child, I must be totally against disciplining my own children. But the truth lies far from that assumption. I believe children should be managed in as tight of a virtual box as possible, so that when they rebel (because it will happen!), they don’t rebel that far. Set a high bar for your children, and they will rise to the challenge.
Where the children do not meet your bar, is quite likely where your fellow parent does not agree with the bar. If you want your children to get A’s in school and are willing to help them get there, you can make that happen – unless your fellow parent takes the approach that effort is what matters. Effort is not what matters. Effort is something easily faked and dodged. The proof is in results.
Another thing: We are teaching our children to survive a big, bad, ugly world where there are consequences for your actions. Now, we can’t dock their pay, we can’t fire them, we can’t demote them, etc. We can, however, devise a set of consequences for their actions that an employer can’t do: Place them on restriction/ground them, put tabasco on their tongues, put them in time out, flick them and smack their bottoms. They are learning to respect their elders, which (as Occupy Wall Street morons will never learn) translates to respect for your employer/manager/supervisor/boss/company owner. They aren’t learning a lesson to respect you as a marvelous human being, which is the warped definition of “respect” that the hands-off parents live by. We aren’t their best friends; we are their shepherds, trying to prepare them to forge out into the great, big, ugly world without us.
I believe most modern parents do not have the strength to discipline their children. And again, the point is not to hurt them, but to shepherd them into adulthood. That takes strength – the strength to deal with bad behavior even though they’re very, very cute. We are teaching them to think before they act.
I believe in time-outs, flicks, spankings, you name it. I think if your kid doesn’t respond positively to one or two smacks on the bottom, then you should try another method. I don’t think the answer is an increase in the number of times you smack that bottom. My schedule of punishment goes something like this:
First of all, and I’m surprised I have to say this – there’s no reason to ever close your hand and punch a child – anyone, for that matter, unless they’re a person of equal size/age who’s actually trying to hurt you (in that case, fight to win!). When I talk about smacking your child, it’s all about the open hand on their clothed bottom. I agree with threatening to do worse, but that’s a bluff and it’s totally allowed. Bluffing is one of our many parenting tools (example: a threat that you’ll “smack that look off their face” doesn’t actually mean you’ll smack their face, it means you’ve shown the strength to smack their bottom in the past and are convincingly threatening to smack their face instead).
Age 2-5: A child of this age doesn’t have a firm enough body to withstand the force of your hand. Keep your hands off of them. If they are being bad, however, they’re like dogs – they only remember what they’ve done wrong for a few seconds. You have to catch it and deal with it. You can flick their arm or leg with your finger. It shocks them like licking a 9-volt battery. But you should bifurcate your punishment between bad behavior and bad acts. If it’s bad behavior, then immediately send them to time out. If it’s a bad act – getting mad and biting someone, or purposely destroying something – flick them and then put them on time out. The pain is gone after a second, and the memory after their time-out minute is over. After all, with bad acts they can seriously hurt themselves or another person. And your damage to them is limited to the outward force of a single finger.
One tool, really only for public places, is pinching a part of your child’s arm that’s tender (like right behind the elbow). The nice part about this one (which yes, I learned from my mother), is that you don’t have to squeeze hard to get their attention – it’s very tender, and they respond without you having to leave a mark, which is what happens when you try to pinch a more calloused piece of skin, like their forearm or something. Then you just leave horrible marks that actually require healing, instead of getting their instant attention so you can correct bad behavior. Let me tell you: it is unacceptable that your child is lying on the ground throwing a 5-minute tantrum in the middle of the bank/grocery store/etc. That bad act of your child is the pinnacle of your refusal to act as their parent and deal with bad behavior (Translation: It’s your fault). I should add, if they’re spitting in your face, that’s your fault too. You can spit at an acquaintance; you’d never spit at someone you respect.
Another trick I learned is the impact of a very large movement that doesn’t actually hurt them. Somewhere in this age range, when my daughter was being bad, I would place her hand, palm down, on mine. Then I would reach way back with my other hand, and in a giant sweeping motion with the arm extended, I’d bring it up and over my head in an arc and meet my other hand – like a big clap. It makes a sound, it’s a big scary move, and it doesn’t actually hurt them. It snaps their attention at you and the lesson your’e teaching that moment.
Age 6-10. Your child is outgrowing the first phase. They realize at some point that the flick isn’t really anything but annoying and you can’t really scare them by clapping your hands around theirs. You have to safely utilize the smack. That means they must be clothed, because you’re not trying to denigrate them. That means you look very angry and make them stand up. You hold onto their arm so they stay upright and you don’t accidentally hurt them and you smack their bottom. I’m not against using a large spoon or a brush or something if your’e careful. Again: you’re the adult, you have self-control. They have not yet learned self-control, which is why you are exercising it and they are learning it.
What not to do: My parents decided they needed a terrifying implement for their spankings, and learned of the glue stick. If you know what a glue gun is, and how you can buy foot-long glue sticks for them, this tool was their whip of choice. And whip it is. You cannot break them on a bottom; they are indestructible except by heat. They are cheap and plentiful. If you’re ever in Wal-Mart, and happen to find an open bag of them in the crafts section, pull one out of the bag. Now hit your own palm with it. See how it whips back and feel the sting! My 45-minute spanking from the earlier post was with this. My parents would leave welts and it would sting to sit for days. It’s impossible to control this sort of thing – it really hurts, so you squirm, and you end up with welts on your back, bottom, sides and legs. Don’t do this.
Also between ages 6-10 you are learning to strip your children of the things they love. Even though you spent good money on their favorite things, you have to be willing to permanently rid your household of those things if they do not correct their behavior. I am all for doing these things in impactful ways – then they will remember the consequences for bad behavior. Some possible punishments:
– Taking a sledgehammer to their Playstation
– Making them carry their things to the Goodwill donation station
– Semi-permanently taking away the power cords to important toys/machines and not letting them have it back for a month.
– Letting a relative/family friend have the game machine (for example) with the understanding that you will ask for it back in a month/two months/etc.
My daughter doesn’t remember a single punishment I’ve ever meted out on her, except for some of these impactful ones, such as the time I cut the head off her stuffed animal with scissors as proof that it was never going to come out of the trash can. Again, if you make threats (such as throwing away stuffed animals) and then feel bad for them later, these sorts of punishments actually help ensure you will stick to your guns! After all, my daughter is precious; I am just as much a sucker as any other parent when she looks all cute and sweet.
Ages 11-17: It’s all about restriction, grounding and getting rid of their favorite things. There’s no law against making your child sleep in a bare room with a bed and clothes and THAT’S IT. They don’t have to have a door to their room. If they were living under these conditions, knowing that the key to their happiness will be turning around their bad behavior, then you will go far with your parenting.
Ages 18-30: Kick them out, please. There are plenty of cheap places to live, and it’s totally unacceptable to have 6-foot-tall children. They’ll respect themselves more if they’re out in the real world.
The important message here: Parenting is about exercising your strength which in turn builds their strength.
Punishment is good and right and true – and that includes parenting.
If you’ve read my other posts, you will know that I am the child of parents who took discipline way too far. I won’t rehash some of those things – but I encourage you to “read” the other posts and “like” them to your heart’s content. But I have a few important things to say about it all.
The old adage goes: “That which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” It’s true. I just look at my brothers, and I would have to say that I was much better armed for life’s obstacles than they were by virtue of the fact that I’d already been through what I consider to be significant battles of life. Quite frankly, divorcing my parents helped me divorce my wife. By needing to stay strong as my own person as a child (rather than succumb to my mother’s will), I formed my own opinions and steeled myself against the onslaught of those who would try to control me. I saw difficult situations as just another prison someone was putting me in, which I needed to survive until I could escape. It’s precisely how I viewed the last few years of my marriage – and that’s no exaggeration (as my friends will attest). It’s also how I reacted toward Air Force Basic Training, in which I excelled.
Side note on divorce: I want to spend one more moment talking about this parallel to prison and divorce. When I first asked my ex-wife for a divorce, I felt defeated when I couldn’t get out. She uncovered all of my sins, and proceeded to use them as leverage for why I was a horrible husband. She listed off a dozen things she’d always expected of me that I had never provided for her as a husband. Right or wrong, my perception of my prospects from that moment were, “Hide all my discomfort until I satisfy her list of wrongs, and then get out.” I knew I was right that I should be divorced, and I wanted to feel right in following through on that need.
Surviving this sort of childhood isn’t about fighting back every minute – no one can do that. It’s also not about learning to put up with it – I think that sort of thing will kill you in the long run. It’s about using every tool you have to make it better for yourself, convincing your captor that everything is just fine and dandy, and manipulating your way into better circumstances. I think that manipulation is an important muscle you must exercise in order to survive life, regardless of your circumstances. It doesn’t mean lying frequently – it means moving the chess pieces around you in a way that you can win. It means making alliances with those around you, and sidling up to those who oppose you so that you become indispensable until you indispose yourself, so to speak.
It’s not that I kick against every yoke. I understand that in the workplace, I work for somebody. I understand that there are hierarchies to life, and I encourage them. I just won’t be led by the nose into my own destruction. I had the thought throughout my childhood that my mother would be happy if I attempted suicide – after all, it runs in the family. But I created my own lofty sense of self-worth despite her deprecating treatment, so that was never going to happen.
it’s interesting, the parallels between how you feel as a child under unreasonable punishment and an adult under the yoke of a marriage that should be over. The other spouse often ends up striking the same chords that your parent(s) did. At least, my situations felt this way.
It’s also important to forgive, but never forget. You can’t walk around as an adult, despising your parent(s). You have to learn their lessons and then act accordingly. Herein is why I disagree with abstaining from corporal punishment altogether: should you be an anorexic (or manorexic!) because your parents ate too much? Should you refuse to get a job because your parents were workaholics? Should you eschew all religion because your parents were Scientologists, snake-biter Baptists or ascetics? Should you eat all junk food because your parents had a crazy diet? No: it’s about learning from your parents’ mistakes and living a life with reasonable limits.
My next post will discuss how to discipline your children properly.
Every young man loves his mother. I wanted very much to make her happy. But I learned two important lessons from the long process of leaving her.
My feeling of ownership over my mom probably happened when my dad started traveling a lot. I was “man of the house” (or so they said), and I would feel protective over my mom. We didn’t have an alarm system in the house, so while my dad was away I would prop our bar stools against the doors of the house. Then, I would take the pots and pans and balance them on top of the stools. In the morning, I’d take the pots, pans and stools down.
Side story: When I was about 11 we got our first cat. Cats are no good for keeping things in balanced places throughout the house, and periodically our alarm would go off.
When the divorce happened, I helped my mother with the divorce agreement. As I said in a previous post, I’m the one who pointed out to her that Dad was paying her child support (and not alimony). I liked the idea of getting rid of my brothers, but when there’s truth that others haven’t discovered I have to be the one to reveal it! (It’s just part of who I am.)
Here are a few things I did for my mom:
–>From the age of 5, I massaged her back and neck daily. She had a parasailing accident in her teens that gave her whiplash; she was in and out of acupuncturists’ offices.
–>I always helped set up chairs and tables at the hotel meeting rooms where my mother would have her multi-level marketing meetings.
–>I helped pitch her business to strangers at street fairs. At one hot, summery street fair I gave free five-minute massages to every slimy, fat person who was sweating like an unwashed hog who wanted my hands on them for five minutes, during which time I pitched them my mom’s business.
–>I already mentioned typing out her love letters.
It was like being married. (To answer one commenter: no, this is nothing Oedipal. I wanted motherly love, nothing else.) I helped with the business, I helped watching the kids, I cleaned the house since I was 5, everything I could. And only recently did I liken leaving my mother’s house to marriage.
The End is Near…or is it?
But then it started to unravel. In about February of 1994, I decided I needed to leave home. When I’d complaint to my friends, such as David D. and Brooke B., they’d tell me I needed to get out of there. At first, I was insulted by the suggestion. Then I realized I wasn’t actually in a healthy situation and needed to leave. I was estranged from my father (and he was probably out of town), so I knew I couldn’t go there.
I had a friend named Malachi. He offered to get me out of there. So I arranged a time he could come by before my mother would wake up (she never came downstairs before 9 on the weekends). I loaded all my things into trash bags and put them in his car, and then I made him wait. I put my shoes just inside the front door (I remember; they were my snakeskin Doc Martins). When my mother came downstairs, I told her I was leaving. It had all the same feelings as a breakup; the uncomfortable, the bitter woman, everything. She told me goodbye, and as I leaned down to pick up my shoes, she lashed out in her meanest voice, “You can’t take those; you didn’t pay for them.”
Suddenly a thousand thoughts flew through my head. I knew exactly how she viewed me, and my worth in this world as long as I was in her world.
Side note: Fast forward 17 years, and I had all those same feelings when I divorced my ex-wife. I’ll return to this side-note in a moment.
I ran out to Malachi’s car, and he took me to his Dad’s house. Malachi lived in a detached garage. He had a ton of THINGS piled into that garage. And I couldn’t just sleep in his place; I had to make nice with his dad, Martin.
Martin was a postal service worker who smoked more pot than anyone I’ve ever even heard of. He would smoke out his kids, daily. He agreed I could stay at his house but that I needed to find a permanent solution, quickly.
The first thing I did was call my friend David D. I told him proudly that I’d run away and I needed a place to stay. He said, in his laughing-at-you-because-you’re-an-idiot voice, that I couldn’t stay there.
Another thousand thoughts flew through my head. I knew right then I’d eventually have to crawl back to my mother’s house, because I had no options.
I had three days at Malachi’s house. One night, Malachi and I went to a party with a bunch of mutual friends. The guy who hosted that party is now dead (as a 30-year-old man, he mainly used these parties to sleep with 16-18 year old girls). I am pretty sure this party was the first one where I ever drank alcohol. As a Mormon, you can see that the road to apostasy was directly beneath my feet.
While at Malachi’s, I sat in the circle as Martin got his fill of his joint, his sons did, and they passed it to me. I took it and tried to get some out, and it was already spent – no pot left! By sheer chance, my one attempt to smoke pot was a failure. Thank goodness. For you skeptics, there was actually no smoke – it was dead. In 1997 I spent most of the year casually smoking cigarettes, so I know what it’s like to have smoke in my lungs. There was simply nothing there. Saved by happenstance!
Martin spoke ill of his wife, and I didn’t like that. He said he was full of energy and youth, and she was all used up, but that she was good to him so he wasn’t going to leave her (I just learned that he did in fact leave her in later years for a much younger woman). He also said he had a bad back, and thought I really needed to have my a__ kicked, but that he couldn’t do it on account of his back.
The Wisdom of Martin
I learned one important lesson from Martin. He told me to earn my keep I needed to dig out a tree stump in his front yard. It was a hot day and I dug and dug and didn’t get it out. I sweat a lot, spent an hour or so working on it, and told him I was giving up. He and his other son, Micah (I really liked his kids’ names), went out and dug the stump from the ground. He then lectured me about how I had an opportunity to do something good and failed. Then he and his son had a great father-son bonding moment. He said I failed because I stopped before I was done, and that one big lesson I needed to learn was to finish what I started. More to come on that in a moment, too.
The End is Not Near
On the third day, Martin made me call my mother. I knew the jig was up, and that I needed to humble myself. I cried, and she told me to come home. Martin spoke to her as well.
Lesson #1: Finish What you Start
Martin was right. I didn’t finish what I started. So I resolved from that point onward to finish anything I started. It didn’t work at first. I went to work at the Sony plant and quit the first job they gave me. Then I got assigned to watch old TV tubes come out of a 100-yard-long oven for 12 hours per day. I lasted two days. But each time I quit something like that, I kicked myself for not finishing what I started.
This motivation helped me finish college. It helped me finish law school too (because I hated so much of it, it was hard to do!). It helped me finish projects, and really continues to push me to this day. I recommend assuming that motivation if you can; it helps. However, it can also make you finish something that perhaps you weren’t meant to. But </I.I'd rather be a mediocre finisher than an excellent quitter.
Lesson #2: Parallels with Real Divorce
I now knew I had to get all of my ducks in a row if I was ever going to successfully leave that house. I knew I needed to get out; but how do you do it? It’s the same thought process you go through when it’s time to actually get a divorce from a spouse.
Fast forward to 2007, and I asked my ex-wife for a divorce without having anything planned out, and found my feet stuck in quicksand. Once again, I had to humble myself and not go anywhere, but had to get every duck in a row. I had to take her list of complaints, and fulfill them so I would have clean hands when I left. Whether or not she felt satisfied in her complaints, I had to feel I had satisfied my duty to her complaints.
Also concerning my actual divorce, I really don’t care that I have consternation from about a dozen people who think I’m horrible for doing so. I tried to leave and was stuck like a duck.
The moral of the story: It’s not enough to know you need a divorce; you need to work out a whole lot of the how of divorce too. I had to figure out how I could feel I had clean hands. That was important for me.
I am not saying you should put together a wad of cash you’ve withheld from your family (my uncle actually tried to tell me I was irresponsible because I went into divorce without any money to pay for it). I am saying you need your emotional and spiritual ducks in a row. You need to have God on your side because you will need His strength to do such a terrible deed. You need to realize that God wants to hear your prayers, asking for anything you need, and that includes the support to leave your spouse and continue being a good parent.
A month or two later, I leaned on my father and got out of my mother’s house. He came to my rescue when I needed him the most. I stayed with him for six months and then plunged into the world alone. And about 15 sideways years began.
I haven’t had any meaningful relationship with my mother since 1994. I do not hold anything against her. I forgive her, but I will not forget. As a result of “breaking up” with my mother, two of my brothers will likely never speak to me again. I cannot control whether they are under her thumb.
When I chose my ex-wife, I chose the person I thought would be least like her. Ironically, that ended up being the one thing I got in many respects. With my new bride, I have looked for some of those positive qualities which my mother did have, and then looked to avoid the negative.
After a recent post, I had a question from Beckwith Mansion, as to whether Child Protective Services ever stepped when I was growing up. They did! Here’s my story.
It was 1989, my first year in high school. I was 12, and 9th grade meant a new school, and my first parochial school at that (St. Augustine, an all-boys Catholic high school in San Diego).
I had plunged into as many Honors classes as they offered, and quickly found out that my effortless style in school would no longer cut it – I needed to hurry up and figure out how to do more, do better, and not be so apathetic. Unfortunately, I also learned how video games and modems worked, so those two things kept me busy in my off-time.
In Honors English, Mr. Cudal scared me. And he had no patience for my lack of effort, and no forgiveness for it either. He was a solid teacher I couldn’t sway to give me better grades than I deserved. First quarter went by and I got a C. And this is where the ball started rolling.
Mr. Cudal’s Class
Side note: Only three things I remember about Mr. Cudal’s class: PRIDE (Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence, which we had to write at the top of every paper), memorizing the first stanza of The Raven, and being surprised at how excited I was to read The Last of the Mohicans and how little I liked the book (I couldn’t seem to absorb a single sentence of it, and my grade on the book report reflected that).
My mother told me that if I didn’t pull up my English grade, I would be spending a night in the garage. This punishment was reserved for lying and getting really bad grades, and it was part of my mother’s “Japanese Torture” philosophy. It meant staying in the garage from the time I came home until the time I went to school. I was terrified of it because of the cockroaches. I was not allowed to sleep in the car, because that would be too comfortable and I was supposed to be punished. When I was sure my parents were sleeping, I went out to the backyard and pulled in the patio furniture so I could sleep on it and avoid the cockroaches. Spending the night in the garage also meant being forced to skip any meals while I was in there. Once in awhile, my parents would leave while I was in the garage, leaving my brother Luke as babysitter over Zack and Dustin, and Luke (in one of his greatest accomplishments) would sneak me some food.
When the last day of the semester (the last day of the 2nd quarter) came, we could stand in line outside Mr. Cudal’s office to get our grades before report cards went out. I was sure I had eked out enough effort to pull my grade up to a B-. When I got into his office, with the door to his office open I learned my grade and I started bawling (one more reason why 12-year-olds shouldn’t be in high school). I was blubbering about spending the night in the garage, and who knows what else. He shut the door and called in the school counselor, and my Spidey sense started going off; perhaps telling people about what happened at home wasn’t a good idea.
They calmed me down and asked if everything was okay. I wiped away the tears and left his office.
The next day, I got called into the counselor’s office. There was a nice-looking man with a beard there. You don’t see many beards any more. He introduced himself and said he was from Child Protective Services. He asked me everything and I knew I couldn’t deny what I said earlier, but I could soften the blow. I said, “I understand the reason for every punishment my parents have given me.”
When I got home, I told my mother what happened. She told me I may have caused a disaster, that CPS would rip me away from my parents and send me to Hillcrest Holding Home, where they rape little boys every day. When the man from CPS knocked on the front door, my mother told me to go pack my things because unless she was able to talk him out of it, they’d be taking me away right that moment. I didn’t even know how to pack my things, so I sort of puttered around my room while I awaited my verdict.
My mother charmed the socks right off of the CPS guy, and he quoted my statement to show how he knew it was going to be all right. He said obviously my brothers were well-adjusted, so if anything he might just take me out of the home for a few days. He also said if he had a kid as bad as I was, he would probably have punished me too.
The funny thing is, the nights in the garage didn’t happen much after that little incident.