My Wordspace

A dumpster full of various musings over life, God, scripture, and any random thought that may fly by meanwhile. Comments welcome.

Archive for September, 2004

What I Want To Write?

Posted by Iszi on September 27, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

I find myself in the middle of a deep rut of boredom and emptiness. Something has told me I should write, and write about my feelings, but I don’t really know what to write, nor am I sure I know my feelings. Or maybe I do know them, but don’t understand them. Maybe I’m just afraid of what they are.

A good part of my life, I think I have been hiding from my feelings, my true emotions. What made me want to do this? I can only guess it has to do with my experiences in school, since the 3rd grade until probably about the 10th. My days were constantly filled with bullies, jeers, and insults during that time. At times I would shoot insults back, but would only get worse ones in return, with my own having been entirely ineffective. Other times, I would be too tired of the failed retaliation attempts to even bother. At those times, I would turn away sullenly and try to move on, but was still left feeling very stung.

Through this time, I was always taught that ignoring the bully would make him go away. Why are we taught this? Most people seem to think (as true or untrue as it may be) that childhood bullies pick on other kids because they’re looking for attention. So, the obvious counter to this would be to not give them the response and attention that they’re looking for. This, theoretically, would show the bully that this method (or target) for getting attention does not work, and so (supposedly) they should move on to trying another method (or target).

However, for one to completely be able to ignore a bully, one must also be able to put aside or ignore the feelings brought on by that bully’s words and actions. Not only are a bully’s words and actions often personally hurtful, they are many times publicly humiliating to their target. The feelings brought from this are anguish, inferiority, shame, worthlessness, rage, and – when everyone else seems to be on the side of the bully, or otherwise neutral – isolation.

So, how to ignore one’s feelings, then? It’s not easy at first. For awhile, you have to grit your teeth at whatever hits you. Eventually though, you get used to it. It even becomes second-nature to you. They say your feelings become “bottled up” at this point. In my experience, it seems more that you’ve become immune to them. Even if there is some bottle to break, when it is broken the ground that it is broken on is hardened to the point that it does not absorb the bottles contents.

For some reason, that almost doesn’t even make sense to me. Pardon if I ramble a bit, but I’ve now decided I should probably just spill out whatever comes to mind the way it comes this time. So, I’ll not be re-writing any of this as I go.

Perhaps there’s actually stages to the dulling of emotions. The first would be where you have to focus yourself on ignoring them – the “gritting your teeth” phase. The second is where you ignore them subconsciously without trying anymore – the “bottling up” phase. Then, there’s a point where you just don’t feel them at all – the “hardened ground” phase.

So, now I’ve found myself in that “hardened ground” phase. I think I’ve been here for quite awhile now. Several years, at least. What are the symptoms of this? For one, it’s not too easy to make me really laugh. I mean honestly laugh uncontrollably. Outside of that laughter, there’s not much that makes me really smile from the heart. And the hardest thing to get me to do is cry. Surprisingly enough, the last thing that made me cry was something that most guys might think is just a little thing that only a woman would cry over.

That was a year ago now, plus a few weeks or so. During the planning of our marriage ceremony, there were all kinds of snags in having to deal with other people’s schedules and locations. Part of the difficulty was due to lack of funds to be able to pay for a neutral location that would be central to everyone else’s position. Schedule difficulty was because it had to be done while my wife’s mother and grandmother were down, (since they were paying for the paperwork) and both my parents had plans that overlapped this time. Eventually, I was able to talk all the major parties (the in-laws, my parents, and the person conducting the ceremony) into a date and time that (albeit in some cases barely) lined up with everyone’s schedules.

In searching for a location, there were only a few available, none of which were in the family-politically-neutral category. The one we had to settle on was a neighbor of my mom’s, whom I’d known since I was 12 at least. Meanwhile, I got a letter from the only local aunt and uncle that I had on my father’s side, saying that they and their children (3 of them, the youngest probably now 13) would not be attending because they did not agree with the way we were doing things. I don’t recall the exact wording, but the reasons were pretty much based on religion. I don’t think they liked the fact that we were getting married after already having a child, but what was probably the bigger problem was that we weren’t getting married by a minister in a church. In either case, those situations were both due to the financial situation we were in at the time. (And still are in, pretty much.)

So, that did kind of hurt, but it was somewhat to be expected, so I tried to keep it aside and not let it bother me. What did hurt, however, was when I talked to my father about the when’s and where’s of the wedding. He told me that he and his wife would not be able to attend there, for personal reasons. That hurt bad. In fact, it’s probably the only time since childhood that I can recall going to my mother (and that was an hour-long drive that my wife made just for me – for those who don’t know, I don’t drive and my mom’s house is an hour away.) for emotional support, and actually crying on her shoulder.

In the end, we moved the wedding to my mom’s house and everything went okay. It’s quite funny in a way, what’s coming across my mind now. The most recent time that I have felt genuinely hurt (albeit I didn’t literally cry over it), was a few months ago, and also involved my father and a wedding.

This time, it was his wedding. If I’ve already posted on this, I apologize for the redundancy, and I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible. Originally, when my dad e-mailed me to tell me that he and his fiancee were (finally) getting married, he said that he had wanted me and my brother to both be best men. However, in a later IM conversation, he said that he wanted my brother to be best man since he would be in uniform. My father was formerly in the Navy, and recently retired from the United States Air Force Reserves, and my brother is recently enlisted in the USMC. So, since they both were going to be in uniform, (the wedding was not a military ceremony, but it was on Armed Forces Day, so all veteran attendees were asked to appear in uniform) I could understand if he wanted my (note) younger brother to be the one directly at his side, with me standing next to my brother, but to say that my brother was to be the sole Best Man, essentially relegating me to a lower position in the ceremony, just because I could not be in uniform, pissed me off.

However, that wasn’t the only factor to my hurt. See, this also opened up an old wound. All my life, my dream had been to enlist in the Air Force, and go to school to work on the computer networks there. All my life I’d wanted to serve in the armed forces like my dad and granfathers. When my interests and skills developed so strongly in computers and technology, the Air Force seemed the best and only way to go. Also, I had a predisposition towards that branch, since that was where my father served most of his time. If I’ve ever had a “lifelong dream” that was it.

So, when I was 18, I went to the recruiter’s station. Next step from there was the ASVAB test, which I passed with flying colors. So then, I was in a position to choose any career the Air Force had to offer that didn’t require perfect eyesight. (I’m supposed to wear prescription glasses 24/7, but currently don’t know where they’ve run to. Fortunately, I can see well enough to function without them, but not pass a military optometrist’s inspection.) So now, on to the MEPS. The only thing that could have held me from passing through here (I thought) was that I could come up underweight. If that had been the case, a little bit of working out and chowing down could have fixed it easily. Okay, so there was also this little curve in my spine, but it had never impaired me before, nor did I ever feel any pain from it, so it should pass muster, right? Wrong. The biggest lasting heart-break of my life was the day that I was told the curvature in my spine was too great to be acceptable for military entrance.

So, now I was being told that because I couldn’t wear the uniform that I wanted to wear so badly with all my heart, I couldn’t stand as my father’s Best Man at his wedding. Not only that, but in my place was my younger brother. Not a best friend of my father’s or one of my uncles, but my younger brother! Perhaps it’s wrong of me, but with all things otherwise being equal in regards to personal relationship, when a father has to choose between sons for a particular important role in his life, isn’t the eldest typically given precedence?

It came to the point that I couldn’t let the hurt go unanswered. I calmly confronted my father with my feelings on the issue, and he tried to smooth things out, making it look like a misunderstanding or something, but all the talk didn’t make things feel too much better. Furthermore, when the wedding came around, and then the reception, I was constantly hearing my brother being introduced, and referred to as, “My son, the Marine,” by my father. At some points, I would be introduced as “My son, Jacob,” but in my mind I kept hearing “My son, the convenience store clerk.” What else was I supposed to think?

So enough with the past, what am I feeling now? I guess I’ve dropped into something of an empty stupor. Empty because my wife and daughter are hundreds of miles away, and stupor because there’s not really much to do right now. Okay, so there’s a good deal of stuff to do, but nothing I want to do. Nothing that I could look forward to doing even if I did do whatever else needed to be done. So therefore I am left here doing nothing, in a state of utter boredom and depression.

Oh, look! Another blog has updated. My wrists are starting to cramp up from all this typing anyway, so I’ll wrap it up for now.

– Iszi

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Furcadia

Posted by Iszi on September 23, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

Just thought I’d post about a game I’ve come across recently, that I’m now “flirting” with a bit, called Furcadia. It’s essentially a place that you can go to and let your imagination go. In a sense, it could be calld an MMORPG, but there’s no consistent plot in the world to play in. Basically, what it is is a world made up of several (somewhat) distinct areas where your character can go to interact with other characters, or to browse and enter into “dreams”.

Dreams are worlds within the world of Furcadia. Some of them (I’m guessing) were pre-designed with Furcadia, while the majority of them are user designed and uploaded. Inside these dreams, you can do just everything you could do in the outside world, but in a different environment. Some dreams are created specifically for some form of entertainment. (i.e.: Some are devoted to board games.) Some are created to be an open house to hang out in. Some will let you build your own house inside their lands. Many dreams are dedicated to role-playing, each with their own environment, theme, and rules. I’ve found dreams dedicated to Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of The Rings, for example. I even found one designed to be like Pokemon.

In most of the Furcadian world (Including any non-dream world, and most dream worlds) your character is displayed as a walking animal. There are Canine, Feline, Rodent, and Equine avatars, as well as a couple others. For a fee, you can even have wings, or be a Dragon, Gryphon, Eagle, or Phoenix. While most of these animals are naturally quadrupeds, in Furcadia they walk bipedal and are proportioned slightly more like humans.

There seems to be quite a few friendly people in Furcadia, as well as some not too pleasant. There’s actually a whole section of the world specifically for “R-Rated” dreams and interactions, but I have yet to have any mentionable problems with anyone outside this area.

So, feel free to come join me. Download and registration is on the web link above. A reccomended tool for this game is Furnarchy, which allows you to keep a buddy list of people you meet in Furcadia, (the game does not yet have this feature integrated) and also comes with some other useful tools. If you’re looking for me on there, my screen name is the same as here, “Iszi”. If you want to try to contact me when you log on, you can type “/Iszi ” to whisper to me if I’m on.

I might post a screenshot or two later on. Meanwhile come on out and have some fun.

– Iszi

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Something Wrong With Me?

Posted by Iszi on September 22, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

I’ve been up since 2200 Monday night and it is now almost 0500 Wednesday morning, and I still probably have an hour or so to go before I’ll be ready to crash, although I probably should do so sooner.

Part of my sleep problems come from a naturally erratic sleep pattern, helped by a somewhat unregular schedule of daily activities throughout the week, as I have described in this post on my new blog. (Don’t worry, that post is clean. Feel free to view if you want to get a rough idea of my schedule throughout a typical week.)

However, I’m starting to wonder if there’s not some other reason for all of this. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my marriage hasn’t been the most stable as of late, and there’s also the added stress of having to keep a baby in a house that shouldn’t have one to start with, (something I’ll probably rant on more in detail on BMW later) on top of maintaining myself in one of the least sought-after jobs there is on the market. Now add to this the recent subtraction of my wife and daughter from the picture for a month.

Originally, when it was proposed that they go up there for a month, my first thought was “Yes, finally some peace and quiet around here.” While proving to be accurate so far, I hadn’t anticipated how much that “peace and quiet” would actually get to me at some points. I truly do miss my wife and daughter more than I probably had imagined I would. Always having considered myself a pretty emotionally stable guy, I guess I kinda just figured it would be a small change I’d adapt to and move on through as if it were nothing. Friday night, the last night they were here, was when it actually started to hit me while I was at work. Saturday morning I saw them off, and then took a long bus ride home and landed straight in bed. That was some good, quality, quiet-time sleep right there… once the phone stopped ringing.

When I awoke, though, something in my heart just felt things were wrong in the house. I couldn’t hear the TV on in the living room. Half the lights in the house weren’t on. No one was in the chair in front of my wife’s computer, and the playpen was empty save for a few left-behind toys. That night I worked with a much-weakened feeling spirit. I honestly came close to having a case of the sniffles a few times when I thought about how I was really missing them, and how I should probably have taken Friday night off to spend with them. Then tonight, when I came in to go on the computer about an hour ago, something was also just as much out of place. The light in my room was on, and the bed and crib were empty. No light snoring or rustling as my wife sleeps or my baby rolls over in her crib. Just nothing.

So yeah, this is all bothering me a good bit. I miss my wife coming to drag me out of bed when I’m starting to cut close on time for work. Heck, the nursery at TLR was short-handed tonight, and all I could think of for it was her. And yet she says our marriage needed this time apart. I dunno.

What also bothers me is what I keep hearing from people at work. Last time I checked (probably a year ago or so by now) I stood about 6 feet tall, and fluctuated weight between 130-135 pounds. My complexion has always been rather light, particularly owing to my nocturnal nature, and I’ve never (since after babyhood) been said to have an ounce of fat tissue on my body. Well, in the time that I’ve been at this particular store, (3 or 4 months now) several of my co-workers, and even a couple customers have been expressing concern that I’ve been losing weight badly, and I’m looking pretty pale. The weight part I can tell a little by the way some pants are fitting me. Complexion I notice little difference in except I’m just now starting to tan from some of these bike rides.

In any case, some of these ladies are seriously concerned almost to a maternal degree, if not more so. And now I’m starting to feel it physically, since I’m riding my bike more. But honestly, if I ate the way that I know I could, there wouldn’t hardly be money left over for my wife or daughter to eat after rent and tithe are taken out of the paycheck. So now, with everyone but me starting to worry about me, I’m starting to get a little concerned myself. What the heck is wrong with me here?

– Iszi

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Sleep "Schedule"? What’s that?

Posted by Iszi on September 22, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

I woke up at about 2200 last night (Monday night), and it is now 0404 in the (using the term loosely) morning, Wednesday and I’m still good to go for a couple more hours even though I know I probably shouldn’t. My sleep patterns have always been rather irregular when allowed to run on their own accord. Often, on consecutive nights off, I’d find myself staying up for 36 hours or so, and sleeping 12 afterwards. Part of this in recent times has been due to the flip-flopping of activity schedules that occurs before, during, and after my days off.

My two consecutive days (nights actually, since shifts run from 2200 on the starting night until 0600 on the end morning) are typically Monday and Tuesday. Occasionally I get a third, but I don’t count it as a sure thing, and it’s not always on the same day every time either. The shifting of activity schedules actually starts, however, on Saturday nights.

On a typical night of work, with nothing particular planned the next day, I’d wake up around 2100 to get ready, get to work at 2200, and leave (on a good day) at about 0700 the next morning. From there, I’d go home and do the occasional small tasks that are asked of me (feed/change baby, take out trash, put away dishes) and then start winding down to go to bed usually between 1200 and 1400, but sometimes as early as 1000 or as late as 1600, depending on how tired or wired I am. Physical activity during this “wind-down” time is near nil though, so I almost may as well be lying in bed awake during that time.

Saturday nights start a different activity cycle, though. Still normally wake up around 2100, get to work at 2200, leave for home around 0700, but instead of going into the usual wind-down routine, I have to get ready (and help my wife and daughter get ready) for church and turn around to go out the door almost no sooner than I walked in. Get to church around 0900, and don’t usually get out until 1300 or so, since (for various reasons) we stay for two services. Getting home at around 1400, I’m still usually pretty pumped from church and can’t get myself down to sleep until 1600, or sometimes as late as 1800.

That gives me just enough time for 3-5 hours of sleep, before I have to wake up for work again. Get home from work about 10 hours later, still with a good bit of energy, and maybe hit the sack at about 1100 on average, if I’m smart. If I’m too lazy to go to sleep, (with me that does make sense in its own weird way) or too wired, I end up staying awake solid until 1600 when it’s time to get ready to go to church to help set up for The Living Room. Get home at about 1900 after that. If I had “sleep” I usually stay up until about 0600 the next morning. If I hadn’t had sleep, I crash until probably noon or so the next day.

In either case, I have to be up and going again at 1600 to get to church for TLR to help make sure all the final wrinkles are straightened out and such. Service starts at 1920, ends between 2100-2200, get out of tear-down at about 2230, and then usually go hang with some friends afterwards, not getting home until 0200 or later most times. By then, my body wants to stay up long enough to finish the “Third Shift” and get to sleep between 0800 and 1000. Wake-up time for work on Wednesday is usually 2100.

Now Thursdays have been thrown in the mix, too. My cell group leader moved our meetings from Mondays to Thursdays at 1900, which means (regardless of when I drag myself to bed that morning) I usually have to be up at 1830 to get ready and go, often having to go to work after that.

So, maybe Friday nights are the only nights that I have a pretty steady 2100-1200 waking hours now. Oh, the joys of third shift with an occasional day-life.

– Iszi

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BMW Is Up

Posted by Iszi on September 20, 2004

Okay, got the foundation laid down for BMW – Blog, Moan, and Whine. Not much there yet, but I will be posting some stuff later on. Feel free to add to your favorites or whatever. I’d prefer it not linked though. If you want to link to me, please link here. I’ll add a link to BMW in my sidebar later on.

– Iszi

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Talking Back

Posted by Iszi on September 20, 2004

Greetings, Readers. And particularly Butterfly and Debi. 🙂

I noticed a couple comments on my previous post, and thought I’d compile my responses into a new one, since they started to become a little lengthy. (Then again, when was I ever known to be brief?) So, here we go.

Butterfly – My mom’s roof is all tarped up last I knew, and they’re going to need it totally re-done, which falls just under their deductible on their insurance, so they’re going to have to shell out full price from their own pocket. Over at my house, we’ve still got the damage we had before with the siding, but the real ugly parts have been boarded up. And that’s about it. My aunt has never been too hasty about taking care of non-vital repairs. (i.e.: Anything short of full loss of power, water, or phone service, or damage to kitchen or multimedia appliances, or air conditioning.)

As far as riding my bike to work, it has its times. On the way to work isn’t much enjoyable, since it’s in the middle of our hot and humid Florida nights, and there’s always the pressure to get to work on time. But, on the way home, when the weather is about as cool as it’s ever going to be during the day, and I don’t have to particularly worry about getting anywhere at any certain time, it’s rather nice. Distance is a little over 3 miles, and I usually cover it in about 30 minutes on the way there, and sometimes as short as 20 minutes on the way home. (A lot more uphill going to work than from, if Florida can be considered to have “hills”.) Like I said before, it’s nothing I’ve not done on a regular basis in the past, it’s just been awhile. Also, my self-maintenance level isn’t where it used to be either. (A couple co-workers of mine have told me that in the past 3 or 4 months that they’ve known me, I’ve lost a good bit of weight. Starting from 6′ 0″ and 135 lbs. at last check, that’s not a good thing.)

Probably the most riding I’ve ever done was one trip home from another job, when I’d missed the bus on a particularly nice day. It would have been an hour to wait for the next bus, and the weather was nice, so I decided to go crazy and ride my bike all the way. Why crazy? Because (now that I look it up) the trip was about 23 miles from work to home. And that would be if you’re taking the Interstate, which of course I wouldn’t be doing on bike. So, with all the detours, (plus a few long-sustained wrong turns) my ride was probably more like 36 miles or so, and took about 3 hours. If I got back into the shape I was then, I think I’d do it again sometime just for the fun.

Meanwhile, in my current shape, my body screams for mercy every night. This truly brings me to the awareness of how not well my body actually is. I used to be able to do this kind of ride to and from a job, (or double the distance, to and from school) and do my work in between, and not physically feel bad at all coming home. Not a good change at all.

Debi – Thank you for your prayers, they are always appreciated, and particularly now they are hitting directly on my current needs. Strength is a rather obvious one, given my recent change in travel mode. Wisdom is also going to be needed to get me through just handing the mess of thoughts in my mind right now. There’s so much that I can feel that I’m thinking right now that I don’t clearly know what I am actually thinking. Also, with my wife and baby away, many temptations have – and more will – come into play that normally don’t have as much strength against me when my wife and daughter are here. So, the battle of flesh vs. Spirit rages on harder.

As far as me going up to Illinois to see her while she’s there, that’s pretty much out of the question. It’s financially un-feasable to start with (her mother’s paying for her trip as it is), and even if we did have the money to get me there and back, we couldn’t afford for me to have the time off work. So, nice idea, but it just can’t happen. 😦 The peace and quiet around here is nice though, when I’m sleeping. When I’m awake and I notice it, however, it does bother me occasionally. Fortunately I have a handful of good friends and family members that will drag me out of the house as they see necessary to keep me “alive”.

In other news – I’m considering starting another blog. There’s a lot of times that I just want to totally vent my frustrations, but that’s not what I intended to have this blog for. So, I’m thinking about making a separate one just for when I want to gripe about various things. That way people that like to keep up with this journal here can do so without having to see my “ugly side” if they don’t want to. However, it may behoove anyone wanting to truly know me – all of me – to go ahead and read both. I will warn that, if things get really nasty some days, there may end up some occasional “colorful metaphors” on that blog, (For which I’m considering the title: “Blog, Moan, and Whine”) although I will try to refrain from their usage in general. The separation of the blogs should also help keep any remotely harsh language further off this one. Yeah, I know it’s not good of a “Christian” to swear, and it’s something I’d like to say I’m working on, but when it comes to venting – for me – those rules just end up out the window sometimes. Hopefully some day I will be able to say I’m entirely free from it, but meanwhile you have been warned. I’ll post when the new blog is up.

– Iszi

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First Post

Posted by Iszi on September 20, 2004

Hey.

If you don’t know me, you might want to check out my other blog, My Thoughtspace, which is my general journal blog. If you know me from there, be prepared for a bit of a different blog. While I try to remain calm and thoughtful in my other blog, (which really is the way I prefer to be in general) this is going to be my venting zone. Bottom line: Welcome to my bitch session. Beware, it could get ugly here. There’s a lot a 3rd-shift convenience store clerk has to gripe about, and when you add life outside of work onto that, it can get even nastier.

So, this is the ugly side of me. Not much meant for anyone to really enjoy, just really for me to blow off a crapload of steam. If you want to read to maybe get to know me and my frustrations a little better, I welcome you to. But you have been warned now, and I won’t apologize when things get ugly here.

– Iszi

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Yeah, I’m Alive… Unngh!

Posted by Iszi on September 18, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

So much to write, so little energy. So, I guess that’s about all I’m going to get to say here. The week’s been long and trying, and now to end (if you consider Saturday/Sunday to be the weekend) it, I had to say goodbye to my wife and baby for a month or so. They’ve gone up north to visit my in-laws, while I stay home to keep making money. Meanwhile, since a.) She’s the one between us with the driver’s license, and b.) Our transmission just went out, most of my traveling to and fro has been done through leg-power. Either walking, or biking, with the occasional relief of a bus ride in between. It’s not like I’ve not been through this before, or never had to cover these distances in this manner before. It’s just been awhile. So all my muscles want to do now is grunt and stiffen up and never do another thing for the rest of the night… or week… or life. There’s a lot more that’s gone on that I’d like to cover. Also some psuedo-philosophical things I would like to ramble on about, but half of those have been forgotten in the time that it’s taken me to get to doing this, and the other half I just don’t have energy for. It’s time for sleep. Further proof of how tired I am, here. I’m too lazy to break this into paragraphs or care about whether or not it’s even remotely punctuated properly. Although I’m sure my punctuation has never been perfect to start with. Wait, that was just a fragmented sentence, wasn’t it? Ah, screw grammar, good night.

– Iszi

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Posting About… I Forget What

Posted by Iszi on September 12, 2004

Well, I had something in mind last night (Or was it the night before? Or maybe the daytime today?) that I had wanted to kinda just toss up in this little spot of mine, but I entirely forgot what it was. So, I guess I’m just posting about my own forgetfulness. Bummer, I guess.

Oh, and I guess to follow everyone else’s fashion I should probably post something about yesterday having been 9/11. Sounds pretty apathetic, doesn’t it? Although it may not be not the greatest thing for me to say (or be) on the subject, but that’s kinda how I feel. Don’t quite know how to (or if I can) explain why, but that’s the way it is. For some reason, for the past three years, whenever 9/11 has rolled around all I could think of is “Oh yay, everyone’s going to get all sappy-sobby, and the nation will probably be keeping their eyes peeled for copycat criminals or something like that.”

This is not to say that I’m not understanding of what happened on that day, or the loss of life, or damage to a handful of the most significant buildings in the hub of the big-business capitol of America. It’s just that I’ve never quite seemed to have the emotional pull from it that everyone else has. Maybe it’s something to do with the fact that for most of my life (and still often times now) my emotions have been largely supressed. Even when I’m angry beyond measure inside, I rarely express – or even feel – it.

Maybe it also has to do with my memory of the day, and the week to follow. Yeah, I’m going to psycho-analyze myself a little here. Might wanna step back, it could get ugly.

In middle-to-late August of ’01, I’d flown to Illinois to see my wife (fiancee at the time) and meet her family, with the intent of staying for about a month. If I recall, this would have had me there for a few weeks or so ahead of her birthday (9/13), plus another week or two. So, having already been there awhile and overcome any sense of jet-lag there may have been, at zero-whatever-hundred hours it whas when the first crash hit the news, we were doing what any sensible young adults would be doing after staying awake past 2 in the morning: sleeping. In fact, knowing myself, I probably hadn’t gotten to bed until more like 4 or 6, while she (being the more sensible one) was an hour or two ahead of me. So I’d only had a couple hours of sleep on a very hard double-size mattress (which really didn’t fit the both of us together real well) at my grandmother-in-law’s (yeah, called ’em the “in-laws” long before the paperwork was ever done) house, when her mother yells out “Get up, get up! We’re at war!”

So, what was my first thought? “Damnit Mom, the sun’s still in the east, let me go back to sleep!” Of course I had enough sense not to actually say that… I think. In any case, I did at some point (probably a half-hour later) drag myself out of bed just in time to see a couple replays of the disaster. And while the whole “Do you realize how many people there were in that plane/those buildings? thought process was somewhere in the back of my mind, the front of my mind could only say “Wow… that is some pretty cool demolition.” when the towers went down. Seriously, if you were to take that out of real life history, and put it in a movie, what would the response from (probably) 90% of Americans be? In fact, if I’m not mistaken, I’d heard that after 9/11 the release of MIB II was delayed because the original storyline consisted of blowing up the twin towers. Kind of a bummer since I know those would have been some great effects! Heck, I wonder what they would have done to ID4 (Independence Day) if the Empire State Building or the White House had just been blown up while the film was nearing completion?

Not long after this moment of the experience did we get a phone call telling us to haul it to the gas station and fill up since prices were changing while people waited in line. So, there’s another good chunk of that day with my fiancee and her family blown. (Gas lines were worse there at that time than I’ve ever seen them down here during the preparation and recovery days surrounding Charley or Frances.) Then, the day after, I get told that my stay was going to be cut short. Since I was on a “buddy pass” through a cousin-in-law, I was ordered to make my return flight in 3 days or my ticket would be cancelled. And yet, aside from the barely noticable military presence, security at the airport was still a laughable joke.

So, what were my feelings on 9/11 at the time? All I can remember is being tired, cranky, and pissed off that hours (and later weeks) were taken away from time with family that I had barely gotten to know just because of some lunatics a thousand miles away that got a little pissed off at us for no particular reason. And I wanted to sleep. Bad. Or at least be able to zone out and let my body pretend it was sleeping while my mind occupied itself with something of lesser concern. Oh, and the job market absolutely sucked when I got home. (I had been unemployed during my vacation, with no job yet reserved for my return.)

So, apathetic? Yes I am. Do I feel bad about it? Probably should. Then again, when you almost don’t know your feelings, it’s hard to know if you really do feel bad about something in a deeper sense like that. So, what do I know that I feel? Not much except that America needs to suck it up and move on. Roll with the punches. Dust yourselves off and get back up and running again. Seriously, people, you act like this is the most catastrophic event that could have taken place within such a short time span. Maybe it ranks up there a little bit, but open your eyes to the really big stuff that’s happened in the past. Like Hiroshima. Yeah, Pearl Harbor was pretty bad, but what about Nagasaki, too? The world is never going to be at peace, and throwing more crap at each other and whining about it forever isn’t going to make things any better. So cry your river, build a bridge, and get over it.

I should correct myself on that. The world will be (for the most part) at peace for some time in the future before its end. But when that time comes, the end will also be near. Read the book of Revelation if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

– Iszi

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By Invitation Only

Posted by Iszi on September 7, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

Well, today seemed rather productive albeit stressful. First task was to run over to my grandparents’ house to assess any roof damage and assist with any immediately necessary repairs. They lost a few pieces of shingles, but other than that most of it looked fine. The only heavy duty work needed was to take down a tree limb that was rubbing against the edge of the roof and would likely start to casue damage if another heavy storm came through.

After that, Grandma made us (my sister was with me) some lunch and entertained us with details and pictures from their trip to Italy several years ago. Then we headed back to my mother’s house to help put up another tarp that would cover the entire roof over the garage. (Where most of the leakage is.)

So, what does all this have to do with the title of my post tonight? The title comes from a newspaper article I had read while waiting at the table for lunch at Grandma’s. The article was in the Life & Times section of The Orlando Sentinel, and was entitled “A chosen few“. The article is about what appears to be a very exclusivistic singles club in th Orlando area, “By Invitation Only”. This company is so proud of their exclusivism, it appears, that their company name is in big, fancy letters on the “welcome mat” of their front porch. (And it’s not a small mat either.) The club proclaims itself to be only for the “elite”, the “upper eschelon”, the “culturally sophisticated”. The minimum income required to join this club is an advertised $50K per year, with an “unofficial line” drawn specially for men, at $100K.

Sound like somewhere you might not be able to get into? Hear some quotes from the owner, Nancy Kenyon, and you might be glad that you can’t. In response to why this company was created with such high standards: “The lower socioeconomic class is doing fine. They can meet in Laundromats.” Ex-cuse me? What mouthful-of-a-term was that? “lower socioeconomic class?” Since when did my salary or lack thereof determine my value to society, or my character as a human being? Furthermore, if everyone were to get paid according to the amount of blood, sweat, and tears (put shortly: physical labor) poured into their work, the pay ladder would be turned upside-down, with the bottom-level employees making thousands more than the ones in the office who currently earn their paycheck almost solely because of their ranking in the company.

To contrast the statement that the “LSC” (for short – in this blog, not the article or actual quotes) could essentially meet in the sewers for all she cares (Just my take on the quote – again, not anything actually stated.), she says that “[The upper eschelon] is not meeting, mating and procreating … It’s having a detrimental effect on our country … Our upper eschelon is going to get smaller. The gifted classes are going to get smaller. There may not even be gifted classes.” Okay, now I wasn’t born into the “upper eschelon” myself, but I most certainly could have qualified (and did, in many respects) for gifted classes when I was in school. And I can tell you for almost absolute sure that my mother’s and father’s combined incomes (even when dad had two jobs) didn’t likely ever hit the minimum required income level for men in the club.

I doubt it would surprise you to know that although she would not disclose the amount of the membership fee, she could be quoted as saying “I always want my suit to cost more than the membership fee.” while wearing such a suit that retails for $1K at least.

I find it quite funny that, even with the exclusivistic nature of this club, one of its members could be quoted as saying the club includes “People from all walks of life…” Then again, let’s look at the examples he gives, “… lawyers, a couple of real estate agents, some jewelry store owners.” and the man himself is a construction superintendent – just about the only person who might remotely allow that list to be classified as “all walks of life”, in my humble opinion.

Betty Wilson, one of the ladies working at the club, can be quoted as saying she likes to take her members to the “type of places where run-of-the-mill people wouldn’t feel comfortable.” Last I checked, even the not-so “culturally sophisticated” person still would enjoy having a nice glass of wine served to them among friends sitting in cushy chairs around a table with a live string ensemble playing in the background.

Further, Wilson is quoted as saying “Didn’t your mother or grandmother ever tell you that birds of a feather flock together? You don’t see the eagles playing with the buzzards. We are eagles, the movers and shakers and doers and winners.” I wonder how that made the interviewer, whom I’m sure doesn’t net $100K/yr (which, if I’m not mistaken comes just a couple bucks short of $50/hr) feel. I mean, how would you like it if you were trying to do someone a favor (I’m guessing) by giving their club a little publicity in one of the most read publications circulated in a densely populated area, and that person – during the interview – called you a buzzard to your face? Think of what a buzzard is. It ain’t pretty for one, and all it does is eat after the other animals, many times after flies have already started having their turn at the carcass.

The writer ends the article with probably one of, if not the most appalling comments from Mrs. Kenyon that there are in the article: “When someone our age…” (It would seem most of the club members are in their middle-age years) “…doesn’t have that much of an income, there’s a reason. They’re unmotivated, they have a low IQ, or they don’t make good decisions.” For myself, (albeit I don’t yet fit that age category) I may fit the last of those three. I have plenty of motivation to look at when I wake up every day. Just turn to my left and there’s my wife, look over her into the crib and my one year old baby is looking back. I have to make sure both are maintained alive and well, and reasonably happy. I think that’s a good bit of motivation. IQ? Again, I could have easily qualified for several gifted classes back in my school daze. In almost any given class that I did take, I skipped most classwork and homework but could still ace any given test. In some classes, I even literally sleeped through all the class and still passed the tests. So, bad decisions? Yeah, probably. I’ve chosen to slack a good bit throughout my life, but everyone does make mistakes. Who is anyone to hold one’s mistakes against them for the rest of their life, and use that mistake as cause to tell them whom they may or may not hang out with?

If I may be so bold, I think the author of that article was trying to portray his brutally honest personal opinion of this club and its owners, operators, and members, without actually overstepping his journalistic, objectivistic boundaries. So, Mr. Mark K Matthews, I’ll say it loud and proud for you in my own opinion and words: These people are a bunch of self-centered snobs whose class deserves to die for lack of a place of intermingling for breeding purposes. Quite frankly, I’d rather mate with a “vietnam veteran” living off the side of the road, than to shake hands with one who would endorse such a club’s ideal.

Okay, so maybe that was a little to the extreme. But I hope my point has gotten across there.

And yet, we still haven’t hit the part of this that disgusts me the most. According to the latest tally of the club’s 1000+ members, most of them are claiming to be Christian! Okay, so Jesus did feast with the lawyers and tax collectors, but I seriously didn’t think he meant for them to just go and continue feasing solely among themselves in His name! It would almost be like if I were to get up on a pulpit to preach about living as a “rich poor man”, knowing full well I’ll shortly be driving home from church in a brand-new, paid-for-in-full-with-cash Jaguar XK8, and can’t remember the last day in my life that I honestly could claim to be penniless. This isn’t to say that Christians shouldn’t ever be rich. The Bible does say that God has plans to prosper us, but I highly doubt he meant for that prosperity to give us reason for shunning the “LSC”.

Just further proof of how screwed up life can get when people are paid more for working less, I guess.

– Iszi



Update – The Orlando Sentinel has moved the article referred to in this post, into its archives. Typically, these archives are only accessed by paying a subscription fee to the Sentinel’s website. Fortunately, Google has yet to remove the article from its own search archives, so I was able to pull up a cached copy in a Google search. The full text of the article is below:


A chosen few

By Invitation Only isn’t for everybody, which is just the point. The club aims to be a place where the elite can meet, mingle and mate.

By Mark K. Matthews | Sentinel Staff Writer

Posted September 6, 2004

Chances are, you can’t join By Invitation Only. Look at the name, people, it means exclusive. Top-notch. Se-lect.

First, let’s talk salary. How much do you make a year? Minimum wage? Ha! Go away, and don’t track mud on the carpet. $30,000? Nope, sorry. $40,000? Close, but not there yet.

To get in, organizers say, club hopefuls must make 50 big ones. Minimum. And that’s just for the women. The unofficial line on men is even more, ringing in at a clean $100,000.

Founder Nancy Kenyon says there’s a reason, nay, a mission, for the posturing. It is to help preserve what she calls “the upper echelon.”

“The lower socioeconomic class is doing fine. They can meet in Laundromats,” says Kenyon, who chats over a fruity drink inside society headquarters, a pink house in College Park. But the upper echelon, she says, “is not meeting, mating and procreating.”

A big problem.

“It’s having a detrimental effect on our country,” says Kenyon, 55. “Our leaders are not going to be there. Our upper echelon is going to get smaller. The gifted classes are going to get smaller. There may not even be gifted classes.”

Hence, By Invitation Only — Kenyon’s solution to the love problems of Central Florida’s elite singles. Based out of a quaint home she says is one of the oldest in the College Park neighborhood, the group matches members of the upper crust on the down low.

Discretion guaranteed.

“We are just careful,” says Betty Wilson, who runs the day-to-day business of the club. At the top of her priorities, Wilson says, is to ensure members — which Kenyon says include politicians and judges — can mingle and “not worry about it showing up in the headlines.”

For that reason, the membership roll is confidential. Party locations are kept hush-hush. Even the cost of joining By Invitation Only is kept in the shadows — although Kenyon will drop a single hint.

“I always want my suit to cost more than the membership fee,” she says, wearing a light-colored St. John ensemble that retails for at least $1,000. “Very high-end.”

Still, there are a few secrets Kenyon will reveal. Founded in 1991, she says the club now boasts more than 1,000 society singles. By her count, most are white, Christian and Republican. Many are divorced; most are middle-aged. Some, Kenyon says, hold positions of power, especially in the business community. Go-getters. CEOs.

“People from all walks of life, we have lawyers, a couple of real estate agents, some jewelry store owners,” says Ted Langford, 47, a construction superintendent and the only member of the club who agreed to speak on the subject. “It’s quite a big circle.”

To get into the club, it helps to know someone on the inside. Candidates with a sponsor are required to endure only one interview; those without must pass two. Still, to help increase membership, the club recently has taken to advertising in the newspaper — salary requirement included.

Once accepted, membership has its privileges. There’s dinner, dance and theater. Private beach parties in New Smyrna Beach. Cocktails at the posh Citrus Club, which touts itself on its Web site as a haven for “people of distinction who appreciate the special amenities of a place of privilege.”

“Our group, we feel, is culturally sophisticated,” says Wilson, who joined By Invitation Only in 2000 and became director a year later. Called one of the more popular members of the group, Wilson — who would not reveal her age — says she tries to take her charges to the “type of places where run-of-the-mill people wouldn’t feel comfortable.”

“Didn’t your mother or grandmother tell you birds of a feather flock together?” Wilson asks. “You don’t see the eagles playing with the buzzards. We are eagles, the movers and shakers and doers and winners.”

But there are some secrets Kenyon would rather not reveal.

In 1989, when Kenyon ran an Altamonte Springs group called Perfect Match Introductions, she settled out of court with a competitor — her former employer, in fact — called Compatible Introductions, which alleged she stole materials and ideas from them. The settlement cost Kenyon at least $28,500, county court records show. Asked about the dispute, Kenyon said, “It was just silly.”

Kenyon also has been sued by clients upset with the service. These also were settled, but she says the problems weren’t because of the “quality of the service” but rather the clients’ expectations. “Now if anyone complains in the field, we just give them their money back,” she says.

Even the salary requirement has been questioned.

“Fifty thousand a year? That can’t be right,” says Langford, who serves as one of 12 “ambassadors” in the group, a role destined to help new members get acquainted. “We have some teachers. That [figure] can’t be right.”

So why advertise a salary minimum? Valerie Patterson, president of a singles service called Dinner Dates, says a club such as By Invitation Only would use that to “convey that’s it’s an elite crowd.”

Kenyon insists the only reason she instituted the requirement was because her members wanted it.

And beside, she adds, “When someone our age doesn’t have that much of an income, there’s a reason. They’re unmotivated. They have a low IQ. Or they don’t make good decisions.”

Mark K. Matthews can be reached

at mmatthews@orlandosentinel.com

or 407-420-5164.

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