Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Living the Bible Literally

I must warn that this blog will probably be a long one. Perhaps I’ll split this into multiple parts if I feel its gone on too long.

I just read “The Year of Living Biblically” by A.J. Jacobs. I’ll admit, my original attraction to this book was A) I needed a good book to read in the bathroom. (This means the chapters are somewhat short and entertaining.) B) I’ve been craving an essay collection written in the form of a comedy.

This book quickly moved from the bathroom to my workspace. It started out silly enough. Agnostic New Yorker, tries to get in touch with his spiritual side by following the bible as literally as he can. (Over 700 rules in the bible) It started out with a crazy man named Mr. Berkowitz that came over to A.J.’s house to check for clothing with mixed fibers.

The eccentric Berkowitz proves to be a sort of Mr. Miyagi, off putting to most, but those that want to listen will collect wisdom beyond the most scholastic college professor or learned religious leader.

A.J. discusses the meaning of Bible passages, rules, and traditions with several sects of Judaism and Christianity from Jerry Falwell, to snake handling Christians, to a gay Christian psychiatrists that runs a Friday night bible study, to the extreme right wing eccentric Jew like Mr. Berkowitz.

Every religious leader and sect brought some wisdom or explanation or tradition to the table (I told Amanda, my good friend and local Jewish expert that I want to celebrate Simchas Torah with her.)

This only helped confirm my belief that there is no one religion. There is no way everyone has gotten everything right and there is no way anyone has gotten everything wrong. The fighting that goes on within religious sects and because of religion is maddening to me when the one thing just about every major religion in the world promotes is peace and goodwill.

I want to pray with my friend Islamic friend Adnan, celebrate Simchas with Amanda, attend a Baptist potluck, go to temple with Alann and Becca (but since I’m locked out of the temple, I’ll settle for having intense talking with’s), and invite outsiders to a Catholic fish fry. There is something very divinely human about celebrating our likenesses and differences. How can we truly know what we believe until we experience what others have to bring to the feast? It’s vain and egotistical to think that “my religious beliefs are the right ones!” Religion is just the structure, faith and growth as a human being is where god truly is.

Ecclesiastes 6:12 says “For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?”

A.J. Jacobs soon finds that his life runs parallel to where his spiritual journey brings him. Often finding comfort in bible passages when his wife becomes pregnant, or his lust takes the best of him, or his constant stream of lies that he finds come from his mouth. There is some answer in the bible for him.

The heartbreaking part of the book is a friend of the authors is promised help from A.J. Without ruining the plot, he makes the promise and sort of puts it in the back of his mind. This friend ends up dead before A.J. can come through on his promise. It’s a heartbreaking lesson that all of us will learn at some point in our life. It’s one that even people that have learned it need a reminder. This book provided that reminder to me. I instantly flashed back to the death of my best friend Jake, and the immediate guilt and loneliness I felt.

This sort of lesson is relevant to the Storys’ life as of late. Sallie and I have spent so much time working that we only have on average 10 hours a week of free time. Every weekend we have obligations, usually with people we don’t really want to see. Does this happen to everyone? Do we have obligations to people we only marginally care for to take up our free time?

Basically free time or “personal development time” as I like to think of it, is in short demand. Overtime, commutes, chores, bills, obligations… these are all things that keep us from reaching that “nirvanic” state where we feel whole. Striving for something more is just human, but can we not get there because there is too much interrupting the journey?

Take a couple hours this weekend just to lay in the grass and think, and make sure you leave a weekend or two blank in your daily planner.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A novel complete

This week I finally put an ending on that novel I've been working on for 5 years. I now need to go back through, make sure it all makes sense, and get someone to buy it.

When I first started my novel, I had an ending, but not the actual story. Over the five year period I kept that ending at the bottom of the document, assuming I was going to connect it to the rest of the story eventually. Strange that a story loosely based on your love life could change so drastically in a few years. My original ending was one that offered the option of hope, but didn't show a glimmer of it. The newer ending is much more hopeful.

Anyway I didn't think the old ending was a bad one, but like I said it doesn't fit anymore. And as I was reading it I thought, this almost works as a blog... obviously if you remove the character names that none of you know. I figured it deserves to see the light of day. So here it is, the original ending for my novel:

The Epilogue

...That’s the funny thing about memories and love, you always seem to exaggerate a little bit in your favor. You always want to be as much of the hero as you possibly can, so you tell a little lie here and there and you exaggerate how much you got screwed and how much you loved her. Time passes and eventually you start believing your little lies and they seem to grow more and more until you have this memory that glows with the most magnificent illumination. It will always be the most pure feelings you can ever feel and nothing will ever compare to them again.
I have this sunken feeling that I will never meet someone that I love as much as Sarah. This hole in me I wish to fill with something, cement maybe. Sometimes I feel like I’ve met the girl of my dreams, but she is in my dreams. A fantasy world that is so much less cruel than the real one. She is unattainable, at least right now. Maybe my fairytale will work out and my angel will finally choose the obvious choice that has been in front of her all along. Maybe I’m completely wrong and I will continue to sabotage my relationships hoping she will eventually love me like I love her. I might continue trying to make love to this memory. Maybe I just like the comfort of a crush gone on too long. I found someone that made me forget about her, just for what seems to be a moment, and I needed it emotionally. Is that how I know when I’ve found true love? The one that makes me forget my crushing crush, my unattractive attraction, is the woman I’m meant to be with.

Love like a memory seems to blur the reality. Can I really know what love is or when I’m feeling it? Does it just come down to the moments of feeling you get every time you see that person? Or is it that person you think about even when they aren’t there? Is love perhaps just a continued lust and a fear of being alone? I don’t know these answers and probably never will. Everyone’s definition of love is different. It comes down to the personal experiences. To me, Sarah was my definition of love, but to Sarah it was Tom, the asshole frat boy. Maybe he isn’t so bad. I did meet him with an extreme bias against him. It probably has something to do with my obsession with Sarah and my innate hatred of frat boys. Either way, I didn’t give the guy a fair chance. He will forever be in my memories as the man that made Sarah cry, not the guy that made Sarah happy enough to be with him. And then a funny thing happened, she married someone like me. Someone I actually thought was deserving of her.

Was my ending a sad one? I tend to think of it as growing up. Sure I’m still single, and the sting of heartbreak is still fresh, but another Sarah will come along, and I’ll move on. I know one thing, I’m getting too old to pick up freshman girls that sneak into bars. I need to meet someone that can keep me entertained.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Quick Update

I haven't been blogging lately mostly because I've just been so busy. I went from having all the free time in the world when I was unemployed (where you all had about 5 blogs a week to read) to having an hour and a half before bedtime every night. I now understand why people have never blogged as much as me.

I've also been so tired I haven't had much to say. This posting will be no different. It literally will just be a quick update on life.

Sallie and I are going to finally start having a little teetering of money here and there. Her paychecks are coming in, in full force. Granted, we still have a couple weeks of paying off our moving/unemployment debt, but we'll be able to struggle along a bit more comfortably.

We aren't getting to spend time together still. I work from 7a.m.-4:30 p.m. most days and she works from 10:45 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. Essentially we spend the car ride to my work, and the hour and half after Sallie gets home hanging out. Which is why we've turtled up on the weekends again. We often opt to have a good dinner and some wine by ourselves than going out and having a drink with friends. Is this horrible?

I finally spent the rest of my birthday gift certificates to Best Buy today. I got Scrubs season 7 on DVD, Fifa 09 for the Xbox, and Left 4 Dead for Xbox. For those of you who don't know, Left 4 Dead is the ultimate zombie apocalypse survival game I've always wanted. Those gift certificates have really gone far.

The website has been going fairly well. Neil and I keep new content up constantly. I recently did an essay on Windows 3.1 and a review on the movie Smart People. After a two week hiatus, Matt, Neil, and I recorded a podcast. I don't think that'll be posted until Monday.

Check out that content at

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Some stuff and things about the election

So my mind is spinning with a hurricane of thousands of thoughts and emotions and excitement and pity, not helped by an election and seeing Henry Rollins.

Let’s start with the election outcome. Obama wins, and for the first time in American history, a black man will assume the role of president. I didn’t get to vote, (stupid not having a car always getting in the way) but I would’ve voted for Obama, and my reasons why don’t have much to do with Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives.

I’ve already explained briefly in the past that the vice presidential candidates had/have a good chance of becoming president. If McCain won, he would probably have a heart attack while in office, and although Sarah Palin is adorable, tax payers would’ve been flying her five children around the world with Gucci bags and Versacchi clothes. (In case you don’t know, Palin has a world of trouble waiting for her back in Alaska.)

Part of McCain’s campaign strategy was to paint Obama as a terrorist. The moment it was common knowledge that Obama’s middle name was Hussein, my email inbox was flooded with emails saying Obama is part of Al-Qaeda. (Although Saddam Hussein was never officially linked to them, making the author of this chain letter even more ignorant.) So not only are there already tons of gun wielding racists in America, but now they have to be even angrier that a black man is president. I hope it doesn’t happen, but I think the secret service will have their hands full protecting our president.

Other than the likelihood of the vice president becoming president, Obama just seems like a better man. Ten years ago, McCain would’ve had my full support, but now he is just a wrinkled version of what the Republicans wanted him to be. Both candidates were somewhat spoon-fed what to say along party lines like any politician, but Obama handled it better.

I read an article on BBC News stating reasons why McCain lost. Of course there was his link to Bush, Palin as VP, and his age. The author of this article also noticed that during the debates and various speeches, McCain seemed to be holding back some serious anger issues. When I started looking at You Tube clips of the debates, I noticed this too. Anything McCain throws at Obama, Obama coolly destroys and throws it back at McCain. This happens over and over again. Its not that McCain didn’t have valid points, it’s just that Obama knew how to handle them.

I would also have voted for Obama because of foreign politics. Its not that Obama has more experience with foreign politics, it’s the fact that world leaders are excited about working with Obama. The fact that Obama wants to talk to our “enemies” to try and peacefully resolve tension between us and them, shows his character. McCain simple said, “We’re staying in Iraq and anyone else that wants to mess with us will have to deal with us too.” (Paraphrased from a much longer, more eloquent speech.)

We’re already at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the current administration has brought us on the brink of war with Russia, Pakistan, and Iran as well as isolated us from most of Western Europe and the U.N. Bush’s administration still has a couple days to ruin the world and kill thousands more people.

Like I said before: My “what if I could’ve voted” decision had nothing to do with issues because besides a few changed details, neither candidate had anything particularly new to say. They followed party lines, much to the demise of the American election system. It had more to do with the person. McCain I think does more good in the Senate than he could as president.

That is a brief version of what I thought about this election, for more information give me a call or have a sit down with me.

I saw Henry Rollins again a few days ago. Like always he entertained, inspired, energized, and educated a couple thousand people. If you’ve never seen him or heard of him, let me know. I have a few CDs and DVDs.