Tuesday, November 30, 2004

What Did We Miss?

Okay, I'm back. Didn't think I'd miss writing so much, but it is somewhat addicting.

Let's see. What did we miss? Ummm....nothing much as it turns out.

Got a last minute invite to the free U2 show under the Brooklyn Bridge last week to celebrate the release of their new CD. I haven't picked it up yet, but the show was great.

Also had a quick stay in the hospital late last week. Turns out that they believe I had a minor heart attack. I'd always hoped to get the first one out of the way before I turned 40, so that's just another thing to cross off my list. I tell ya, I'm like some sort of prodigy.

Otherwise, I wallowed in self-pity for a while before regaining my composure. Don't worry, I'm over it now.

While I was gone, what appears to be the biggest news story of the year broke. All three major networks gave in substantial time on the morning programs, even going so far as to each have a journalist from the publication that broke the story on their program. There were pictures, interviews, timelines, the works. I tell you, it was broadcast journalism at it's finest. Was it the ongoing unrest in the Ukraine? Tom Ridge's resignation? No. It was bigger that even that. Julia Roberts had twins! The hard hitting magazine that worked tirelessly to break the news? People. Subscribe today. You don't want to miss the next big breaking story.

Good to be back.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

whatsinsidejoe

When I created this blog, I used "whatsinsidejoe" as the address because I planned to use it as an on-line journal. I just wanted to have a place to capture my thoughts and feelings, a place to tell stories about the things I've seen and done, and a place where I could sometimes work things out for myself by writing about them. I never expected anyone to read it, but much to my surprise, a few people have.

The past two years have been tumultuous for me. At times, I've been happier than I ever dreamed possible. Other times have been among the most excruciatingly painful and depressing experiences of my life. For the past six months or so, its been much more of the latter. I've ridden a rollercoaster of emotions and I'm completely drained as a result.

I say all of this because I'm going to take a break from blogging for a while. I have no desire to chronicle my attempts to put my life back together, and the truth is that right now the answer to whatsinsidejoe is "nothing but an empty, lonely feeling."

I'll be back when I have something to say.

Take care of yourselves and Happy Holidays.



Posted by JoePhoto

Friday, November 19, 2004

Come to Jesus Meeting

Earlier this week, I met with the headhunter who placed me at my current firm. This guy, who we will call 'B' recently closed the agency he founded, and he stopped by to tell me about his new business venture and to meet my director, who we will call 'C'. (How creative am I with these clever code names?)

A few minutes into the meeting, B began to tell us about his life. Somewhere along the path, the narrative took a strange detour. Before we knew it, B was telling us about how he had suffered from manic episodes from his early teens through is mid-twenties and that he had spent the better part of that time in and out of psychiatric institutions. He told us about the time he walked across a four lane highway with his eyes closed because Jesus told him to do it. Then about the time he was driving a car and hit a telephone pole going over 100 mph, which nearly split the car in two before crashing down on the roof of the vehicle, crushing it. Apparently, it took the police quite a while to cut him out of the wreck but he emerged without a scratch. He claimed to have a number of stories of that nature, which apparently reinforced in his mind the favored status he enjoys in God's eyes as a result of his faith. He then veered off into his religious studies, claiming to be an expert in Catholicism, Buddhism, Taoism, Sufism, and about seven other -isms that I lost track of. He also told us that he's a martial arts expert whose knowledge is rivaled by only about four or five other people in the world. The last claim was difficult to believe when you consider that it came from a man that stood about 5'7 , weighed about 200 lbs, and carried a big pot belly.

Now I hadn't spoken to B for a few weeks, which was rare in that he tends to call me about once a week. He explained that absence as well. It turns out that a few weeks ago he found himself surrounded by police in a nearby park. Later, he discovered that his wife had called the police claiming to be in fear of her life because B thought that he was Jesus Christ and might possibly use his martial arts expertise to harm her and their daughter. Now, I don't recall reading anything about Jesus being a martial arts expert, nor do I think that any of His followers needed to fear their safety, at least as far as He was concerned, so clearly B was more of a Jesus for the new millennium. Anyway, they brought him to a local psychiatric hospital and had him committed for a period of six weeks. According to B, this was done not because he was insane, but because the admitting doctor had a crush on B's wife. You can't make this stuff up. After six weeks, B gained his release, evaded his wife, who was waiting in the lobby, went home, snuck his car out to the garage and has been on the run from her ever since.

Now I'm lucky enough to have this guy in my office, and C and I are exchanging nervous glances because (1) this story is endless - at this point he's been speaking non-stop for about 45 minutes - and (2) B is slowly unzipping his backpack and reaching inside. As we waited with baited breath, he pulled out a mission statement for his new venture that he wrote while he was in the hospital, and hands it to C. Taking the paper, C tells B that he will glance at it very quickly, but that he is late for another meeting. Later, C tells me that the statement started out fairly coherent, but that it quickly descended into gibberish. As C walks out the door, I stand up and tell B that I, too, am late for another meeting.

As we walk down the hall to the elevator, B turns to me and says "I hope I didn't blow your whole paradigm of me." To which I reply, "No B, I know you. I'm not a judgmental kind of guy, and I respect the things you were telling us." B frowns at me and says "What do you mean you're not judgmental? What is that supposed to mean?" Now I'm getting even more nervous, and I say "Well, maybe judgmental wasn't the right word. What I meant to say is that the things you told me didn't change my opinion of you one way or another." This statement is true, but only because I've always felt that B was a little insane. Because I'm concerned about what B might do next, I feel the need to escort him all the way down to the lobby, which means that I have to endure several more minutes of painful small talk as we wait for the elevator, and that I have to ride alone with him down to the lobby. Finally, we get downstairs and say goodbye.

When I came back upstairs, I quickly called security and asked that B be banned from the building. Next, I asked the switchboard forward any calls that B makes to any of our staff directly to my voice mail. As I'm doing this, I see his number pop up on my call ID, but I let the call go to voice mail. When I play the message, I hear B telling me "Joe, I was thinking about why you and C appeared so uncomfortable in our meeting." Gee, did we really appear uncomfortable? Do you think it could it be because you were SCARING THE HELL OUT OF US? "And," he continues, "I thought I should add this disclaimer. I'm not Jesus Christ. I just thought that I needed to tell you guys that. Anyway, have a nice day and be well."

I need to get out of NY soon. Between B and the number of people I've had to fire over the past few years, it's only a matter of time before I wind up shot.

Blast from the Past

I was on the subway last night on my way to failing miserably in my attempt to surprise a friend who has been a little down lately by bringing her dinner and some of her favorite snacks, when a guy tapped me on the shoulder and said "Joe?" I hate it when that happens as I am horrible at remembering names, and even worse at remembering faces that I haven't seen in years. It took a few minutes to realize who it was, but it turned out to be the little brother of one of my best friends from when I was growing up. Seeing him was great and it brought back a flood of memories.

Through junior high and high school, I hung out with the same group of friends all day every day. On the guys side, there were me, Nicky, Phil, and Chico. The girls consisted of Barbara, Christine, and Gina. It was like our own mini soap opera. Chico was by far the best looking of the guys, and so he dated all three of the girls at one point or another. In fact, Gina left Phil to date Chico, leading to some tense moments for quite a while. I dated Christine for a while, and saw Barbara on and off. Nicky was completely asexual, not even going out on his first date until about four years after graduation. Others would drift in and out of our clique, but nobody stuck for all that long. Chico's parents worked, so his house was the place we hung out at most of the time. We would play sports in the back yard when we were younger, and would use the bedrooms for the more intimate moments as we grew older. They were the closest friends I ever had, and probably still know more about me than nearly anyone else in the world. After high school, we drifted apart as each of us went off to pursue our dreams. I understand that Gina is married now with two children. She's a successful dentist, who lives in Virginia. John works at the office building next to mine, and so I'm sure we'll see each other from time to time.

Still, it was nice to think back on the good times we had growing up. I wouldn't trade those days for anything else.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Pain, Pain Go Away

Another day, another series of pains. Sigh...I should probably go to the doctor about this, but I don't think I will. I'm so tired of going in only to find out that they can't find anything. I also don't want to wind up in the hospital again. The events during and after my last trip to the hospital left me with some bad memories, and it's tough to think about going back in for any reason. Besides, even though there is clearly something wrong, I've been through every test imaginable and they can't pinpoint the problem. If it were serious, I'm sure I'd be feeling much worse, so its no big deal. I'm sure it will go away on its own.

Today has been the day for criers. I've never seen so many people break down in my office in one day. Usually, I have to ask a woman out to see so many tears, and even then they are tears of laughter. They must have put something in the water here this morning. More likely, people are feeling the pressure that comes with the annual performance reviews. Most of the folks who have stopped in are low to average performers, and they are nervous about the feedback they'll receive. The fact is, they should be. If they were half as focused on doing their job as they are on trying to tell me what the people around them are doing wrong in an effort to make themselves look better, they would have nothing to worry about. When I got into HR, it was because I wanted to help people. I still do, and its what keeps me going. However, there are times when this job will make you hate people.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Awkward Moments

Okay. Help me out here. I'm eating well, exercising regularly (at least until about two weeks ago when I began to slack off), and I'm at the pretty ideal weight for my height. However, I'm plagued by increasingly frequent short, stabbing pains in my chest every day. What do you suppose is causing them?

Its particularly embarrassing when the pain hits while I'm in the midst of speaking. A little while ago, I was in an interview and I said "So tell me a little bit more about your experience with.. ugh." The "ugh" of course, is when the pain hit. I winced and continued on, but I thought the person I was interviewing was going to jump across the desk and start performing CPR. That would have been awkward. I mean, you'd almost have to give them the job after they do something like that, wouldn't you? Then I'd always have to worry about those awkward moments in the men's room when I'd realize that I'm standing at the urinal next to the man who gave me mouth-to-mouth. Ugh....

Pashmina Wars Update

The pashimna wars continue on 52nd street. The vendor who had the blowout a few weeks ago was, indeed, making room for new stock as he has expanded into selling scarves and cashmere gloves. Meanwhile, the other vendor has learned the value of good advertising. He now has a sign saying "Brooches $5. Best Buy. Buy Now" and he has also expanded his product line. In addition to $5 pashminas, he sells more elegant embroidered pashminas for $8 each or 2 for $15. I love to watch the free market economy at work.

This morning a homeless man grabbed me and asked me for $5 to help the homeless. My first thought was "$5? wow, inflation has hit everywhere." I wanted to give him money, but I wasn't sure how that would help all of the homeless, and not just him. Instead, I dropped a few dollars in one of the many United Homeless Organization (UHO) jugs that have sprung up around town over the past few years. I'm not even sure if they are a legitimate organization, but their rickety folding tables, used water cooler jugs, and the scruffy people they hire to shout at passerby lend them an aura of credibility that I find reassuring. Their pitches seem to be largely self-authored. For example, the LL Cool J look alike that sits at 45th and 6th encourages people to donate with an endless stream of banter. "Just one single penny, one nickel, one dime can help feed the homeless," he shouts, "Won't you find it in your heart to help feed the homeless?" By the end of his shift, he sounds frustrated and I'm always waiting for him to crack and start saying things like "Its just a motherf***** dime you cheap bastards." For my money, the single most annoying worker I've ever seen whined the following verse over and over. "Does anyone care?.....Does anyone care?....Does anyone care......(long pause, big finish)....Out there?" It stayed in your head for days and made you not only not want to donate, but to actually consider taking money out of the jar just for having to listen to her.

All jokes aside, it's getting cold out there, so do what you can to help the homeless in your area.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Train in Vain

What is it about riding the train that makes people abandon all common courtesy? Each day I take the long commute in from Long Island, and transfer to the subway for my trip into the office. Soon, I'll be down to riding one train directly from Brooklyn, and I'm looking forward to the shorter commute. In the meantime, however, I spend most of my ride in watching people. For example, there is one guy who gets on the train in Hicksville. He's about 5'4 and has one of those faces that you hate for no reason at all. In fact, I'd bet that he spent a lot of time in school getting beat up and having his lunch money stolen. Every morning, he lines up at the door and bulls his way past everyone, knocking aside anyone who dares get in the way of him and a seat. The train isn't all that crowded, so there really isn't any rush, but he does it anyway. As soon as he sits down, he takes off his jacket, makes in into a pillow, curls up in the fetal position and falls asleep. As the train rolls into Penn Station, he leaps up in order to be among the first standing at the door, and runs up the stairs. I used to think he was in a hurry to get to work, but now I think he's afraid because he seems to have annoyed most of the people in the car. In fact, for the past few weeks, I've watched the animosity build between him and another guy who he regularly pushes past. It's going to get ugly really soon. Otherwise, the train is filled with people who think of it as an extension of their living room. They spread there belongings around in a desperate attempt to keep anyone from sitting next to them. They clip their nails, hold loud phone conversations, throw their trash on the floor and do a million other things they would never think of doing in any other public place. A few weeks ago, I was treated to the sight of a woman giving herself a pedicure in the seat next to me. Needless to say, I couldn't eat for the rest of the day.

The subway isn't much better. Everyone crowds by the doors leaving the middle of the train relatively empty. Rather than moving further into the car, and losing their precious door space, people just move an inch or two at each stop, forcing people to squeeze in. This morning, as we approached my stop, there was a guy sitting in the seat in front of me. (Before you ask, the answer is yes, I was one of the people crowding the door. I didn't say I don't do it, I just said it annoys me that others do the same thing.) As the train slowed to a stop, he started to stand up, jockeying for position as if we were fighting for a rebound at a pickup basketball game. Generally, I would step back and let him go, but I'm not in the best mood today. Instead, I stayed in place, forcing him to wait to stand up. Rather than doing so, he began to contort his body so that he would be able to maneuver out of the door as soon as it opened. This left him in the awkward position of crouching while facing the seat, with his feet spread sideways and his torso leaning against the arm rest. The only thing holding him up was the press of bodies around him. If we all took one half step back, he would have fallen and likely been trampled by the crowd rushing to be first up the escalator. I just don't understand.

Anyway, rough night last night. Lots of bad memories came flooding back from the dark recesses of my subconscious. I think I'll do some work to try to distract myself.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Monday Morning

After spending time this weekend enjoying nature, the last place I want to be is cooped up in my office facing another week of hell. My boss is flying out from SF for a visit, and that always adds to the stress levels. On the bright side, I have my blog and IM to get me through the days. In addition, the weather is supposed to be beautiful this week, so remember to get out and enjoy it. I'll be back later with more Monday thoughts. Stay tuned!


Posted by JoePhoto

Friday, November 12, 2004

Modern Bride - New Jersey

I was wandering through Penn Station a few nights ago, when I saw a magazine called Modern Bride - New Jersey. Like many New Yorkers, I have an anti-New Jersey bias. As a result, I spent most of the train ride imagining what the table of contents must look like.

Cover Story
Married by the refineries glow - and 15 other romantic NJ weddings

Q&A
Is "Born to Run" an appropriate wedding song? If this is the Garden State, why do all of the flowers die? How do I get toxic odors out of my dress? and more!

Beauty
Running late for your wedding? We'll show you how to get big hair in 15 minutes or less!

The Reception
Tequila - the new Champagne
Bon Jovi CDs - The perfect wedding favor

Honeymoon Destinations
Basking in Belmar
Unwind in Wildwood
Enchantment at Exit 37...off the turnpike
Hoboken Honeymoon - view Manhattan from your sidewalk

Special Insert
How to keep your wedding night video off of the internet

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Things that Irritate Me at Work

  • Mentee (as in "I'm her mentor, and she's my mentee")
  • Irregardless - there is no such word
  • Any noun used as a verb (i.e. clubbing, gamplanning)
  • Hearing a.m. and in the morning used together (i.e. 3 a.m. in the morning)
  • Inane elevator chatter such as: "How was your weekend?" "Too short" "ha ha ha" or "Banker's hours?" when it's said to anyone leaving before 7 p.m.
  • Any weather related discussion that begins with "Hot / Cold / Wet enough for you?"
  • People who answer a question with a rise in their voice as if asking another question. ("What is your name?" "Jane Smith?")
  • Urgent voice mail messages that begin with "This really isn't urgent, but..."
  • People who call you and when you don't answer the phone, come to your office and say "I know you are in the middle of something but..."
  • People who leave a voice mail, see you a minute later, and say "Thanks for not returning my call"

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Gangsta

Here's my niece, Jasmine. She's only a few months old, but she's already flashing gang signs (see the right hand), and dressing the part.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

From Soaring to Sore

Haven't posted in a few days as it's been pretty busy. I can't believe how much is going on here at work. Every time I begin to work on one thing, someone turns and asks me for something else. I've never felt so pressured and stressed in my life, and I just wish I could go somewhere to take my mind off of things and to be able to relax and be at peace, even for just a few hours. As it stands, when things get really bad the only thing that gets me through the day is looking forward to the phone conversations that I've been having with a friend just before I go to sleep every night. We don't talk about anything special, but I feel almost human again by the time we say goodnight.

In other news, I'm still trying to overcome the soreness that came with my very first rock-climbing fall. I've heard it said that a million things go through your mind when you are in some type of accident. For me, the only thought was "shit, I hope the rope holds." The drop wasn't all that far, maybe 20 feet at most, but it seemed to take forever. I guess the sudden stop at the end of the line was preferable to the stop that would have occurred on the ground had there been no safety rope, but I still feel as if I've been in a train wreck. It's amazing that I can feel so stiff and sore and yet have no visible injuries. It was my first attempt at a more challenging climb, and my foot slipped as I stretched to reach for my next hand hold. It happened in an instant, and before I knew it, I was flying through the air. I jerked to a stop, both annoyed at myself, and a little embarrassed, and less than thrilled at the thought of having to re-climb a stretch that I had struggled with. Fortunately, I made it through without any further issues. The soreness is beginning to abate, too, thanks handfuls of Advil taken at regular intervals. There's no way I'm prepared to tackle El Cap in the spring, but I'm still going to work hard in an effort to be ready in time.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Rainy Day Musings

I was just getting some coffee and I ran into a co-worker. I asked her what she is doing in the office so late. "Baby needs a new pair of shoes," she replied "and I don't mean my daughter."

What is it with women and shoes? Every woman I know has at least 50 pairs of shoes, and is always plotting to buy more. They check out shoes on other women, look in the window of every shoe store they pass, scan web sites, and peruse catalogs. It seems to be a never ending search. I think the nearest thing I have to that type of obsession is Home Depot. Then again, I've never stopped a guy to say, "Hey, great hammer you have there. Where did you get it?" Ummm...well that sounds a little homoerotic, but you get the point.

Anyway, it's a gray, dreary day here in NYC. I'm came to work feeling pretty mellow and content this morning, but things blew up a little later in the day. Now I feel mentally and emotionally drained. I wish I could crawl into bed and fall asleep holding someone that I love. Nobody to do that with, though.

With that in mind, today's entry is going to be mercifully brief. Rather than my amateurish attempts at writing, I thought I'd share a passage that I read in a book called "On the Light Plain" by J. Robert Lennon.

"Still it kept on as it was, without relief. From time to time they met. His head filled up with speeches and ultimatums but he hadn't the courage to speak his mind. He believed now that she loved him, believed that he had no need for her to say so. Nonetheless he told her that he loved her, however much he pleaded with himself not to, and her responses, passionate and sometimes violent but never spoken, left him longing for the covenant of words...Regularly, he took himself off to lonely places to let the emotion spill out of him."

I know the feeling.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Bad Relationship

I accidently left my cell phone charging on my desk when I left the office last night. I didn't realize my error until I went to make a call from the train and it wasn't there, then I felt naked without it which, of course, ties in nicely with today's story.

I was walking to Penn Station last night when I came upon what appeared to be a typical NYC traffic jam. Several cars were trapped in the intersection and the drivers were angrily honking their horns in the apparent hope that doing so would cause the cars in front of them to magically disappear.

As I crossed the street, I noticed that the intersection was not blocked due to traffic, but because a stretch Navigator and a UPS truck were stopped up next to each other on the corner. In a scene reminiscent of Bourbon Street, a woman was leaning out the window of the Navigator. She had pulled up her shirt and pulled down her bra in order to expose her breasts to the UPS driver. As she did so, she told him to pull over to the curb so that she could get in the truck and ride with him.

In most parts of the country, such a scene would have attracted a crowd, but it barely merited a glance from the jaded New Yorkers walking by. As if this weren't surreal enough, a man's hand appeared from inside of the limo, and attempted to pull down the woman's shirt to cover her breasts. She pushed the hand away in annoyance and told the UPS guy "Don't worry about my boyfriend, he's just mad because I like you better."

Now I've been in some bad relationships before, but how horrible do things have to get for your girl to be exposing herself to the UPS guy while you're out on a date?

I'm not sure my problems will ever measure up.

Post-Election Thoughts

A friend of mine asked last week if she should trick or treat in the office on Friday or if she should wait until Monday, but isn't trick or treating after Halloween really just begging for candy?

In a burst of giddiness brought on by voting for the first time, Stacy claims that the name of every person who voted against George Bush should be read aloud on television the next time we're attacked by terrorists. Apparently, she also walked around humming "God Bless America" throughout the day yesterday. Such is the power of democracy in action.

While the race for President remains too close to call, my understanding is that the loser won't go away empty handed. Instead, he'll receive a year's supply of Turtle Wax, a case of Rice-A-Roni "the San Francisco Treat" and the home game of "Who Wants to Be the President?"


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day

After a boys night out at the Meadowlands to watch Jets destroy the Dolphins, I got up early today and jogged before heading over to the polls to do my civic duty (I said duty...lol).

I like to vote early in the day so that I can smugly hold it over any of my co-workers who haven't voted yet. "Did you vote this morning?" I ask. When then say "No," I smirk, snort derisively, and walk away shaking my head. Another favorite of mine involves the NY Times. You walk up to someone and say "Hey, did you see the article about (insert subject) in the Times this morning?" When they say no, you shake your head sadly and say "It figures."

Anyway, I'm off on a mad hunt for a big enough caffeine fix to get me through the day. Meanwhile, here are a few election day factoids for you to ponder.

  • Since the Washington Redskins began playing, the results of their last home game before the election have correctly predicted the winner of the Presidential election. If they win, the incumbent wins, and if they lose, the challenger wins. They lost at home on Sunday.
  • The New York Yankees have not won a World Series while a Republican was President since the Eisenhower administration.
  • The national election takes up about 25% of the standing President's time.
  • A presidential candidate can win the popular vote but not the presidency because of the way the Electoral College is set up, but only four presidents have been elected with fewer popular votes than their opponents: Adams (1824) , Hayes (1876), Harrison (1888), and Bush (2000).

Okay, that's enough for now. Chose or Lose! Vote or die! Ummm...don't forget to vote. Sorry, ran out of slogans there.

By the way, what the hell is with "Vote or Die?" Does that mean you have to vote or P. Diddy will kill you?

One last thought for any of you who live in Florida. Whatever you do, please, please, please read the ballot VERY carefully this time before voting.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Now I See Their Point

Okay, a few more people have asked me if I'm feeling sick today. I'm starting to get a complex. Here's how I look. Hmmmm...perhaps they have a point.



Anyway, I was wandering outside during lunch today when I thought of yet another reason to love autumn. When you are walking in the sun, it's nice and warm but if you start to get too hot, you can simply duck down a shady side street and the temperature is about ten degrees cooler.

It's not much, but I'm all about being happy with the little things in life.

Running Away

This weekend, I took a walk in the woods. I was alone with my thoughts - not a pleasant place to be these days - when I suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to run. I began jogging at a light pace, but I soon found myself sprinting as quickly as my legs would carry me. Spurred on by the frustration and pain I've felt over the past few months, I ran as far and as fast as I could, ignoring the twigs grabbing at my clothes and the burning in my legs and lungs. I stumbled over an exposed root in the ground, and I fell to my knees, gasping for breath. I stayed there on the ground for a while, my breath ragged in my chest and my heartbeat thumping in my ears, and I thought about God.

I'm not a religious person but, like many others, I am spiritual. It hasn't always been this way. When I was younger, my faith was so strong that I even considered becoming a priest. At some point, though, I felt as if God had turned His back on me, and I began to draw away from my faith. I've tried to be a good person, to give more than I receive, to not ask for much, to forgive others when they hurt me, and to make the people who are important to me as happy as possible. Meanwhile, everyone that is important to me seems to turn on me, to hurt me, or to go out of their way to show me that I don't matter to them. I could never understand why this happened. If I lived a good life - the life of kindness, love, forgiveness, and sharing that we are supposed to live - why did I always wind up getting hurt, and why could I never have the things that made me happy?

Because of this crisis in faith, I stopped going to church and I rarely prayed. I remained mindful of the numerous blessings in my life, and I made it a point to thank God for them on a daily basis, but that has been the extent of our relationship for quite a while now.

The Friday before Labor Day, I found myself in a church for the first time in recent memory. A friend of mine - along with many of the people important to her - was going through a rough time and so I went to St. Patrick's Cathedral to light some candles and say a few prayers for her and her loved ones. I had hoped to spend that weekend with her, but she was out to dinner with her family and her sister's boyfriend that night, and she had other plans for the remainder of weekend, so perhaps this was also a way to be close to her. I lit candles for her Mom and her Dad, for her brother and sisters, for a close friend of hers who was struggling, for her Aunt who had passed away a few months ago, for her newborn nephew, and a few for her as well. After I did this, I sat in the church and prayed with a fervor that I thought I had lost. Even if God were not there for me, I hoped He would take care of the people for whom I prayed.

Last week, someone told me a lot of things about myself that were pretty hard to hear. For a long time, I tried to do whatever I could to care for her and please her but no matter what I tried, it always seemed to be the wrong or to fall short of her expectations in some way. Rather than making her happy, I was more often than not a source of annoyance to her. My desire to make her happy, and my hopes of rekindling our relationship, burned so brightly that I was blinded to the way she truly felt about me - and the effect I had on her - until she told me everything that she felt in an angry outburst. Think for a moment about the worst things you think about yourself - the thoughts that plague you with doubt and uncertainty and insecurity. Now imagine hearing them from the person who's opinion of you matters more than anything in the world. Seeing myself through her eyes and hearing what she truly thinks of me was one of the most painful moments of my life.

As I thought about that, I realized that perhaps the reason this happened to me is to show me how God felt when I turned away from Him. What if God has a plan for me that I simply don't understand? Have I ignored to His kindness towards me and love for me because I was blinded by the anger and frustration that I felt towards Him? God has forgiven me for so many transgressions in my life, yet I cannot not bring myself to forgive Him for allowing me to suffer. I wondered if the emptiness that I feel inside at having lost someone important to me is similar to what He feels whenever one of us turns away from Him.

I don't know what this all means in terms of my own spirituality. I doubt very much that I will once again become a regular church goer as I have far too many problems with organized religion than I care to list, but I think that I may have taken the first step in rebuilding my relationship with God. Not to worry, my faith is private and I don't care to preach, but I thought I'd share my epiphany with anyone who cares to read it.