Catchy (Sitting 57) Avoid the Saddle…. July 15th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Matthew leaned up from his prone position on the bed and kissed the very naked back of Leonora, the oboist.

“Don’t do that,” she complained. “Now my back is all wet from your gooey lips and I feel cold.”

“You’re welcome,” said Matthew with a lovey-dovey hum.

The two of them lay in the bed, very still, for a solid minute, maybe two. Matthew interrupted the silence.

“You had a great idea,” he said.

“Which one?” Leonora asked.

“You know. When you decided to divide our evening into two parts–dinner, then the movie–and you declared it two different dates, and so when we ended up coming to my place to have sex, it was like we were finishing up the second date…”

“Actually the third,” corrected Leonora. “You forgot about the time we spent with the quintet in the Gallery.”

“So we waited until the third date, then, to have sex. Very proper,” Matthew noted approvingly.

“I thought so,” purred Leonora.

“You know what I like?” asked Matthew.

Leonora suddenly sat straight up in the bed and turned to Matthew. “You’re one of those. One of those goddamn guys who can’t keep his mouth shut and go to sleep. You’re part girl. That’s it, you know. You’ve got to have conversation, commentary, closeness and cuddle-wuddles to make you feel like what we did had really deep meaning, instead of being like two baboons cracking a nut.”

Matthew eased up to sit on his butt. “Wow. There’s an image I don’t need. So are you gonna think I’m weird if I tell you that this was great, and it felt great and you were great?”

Leonora sighed. “No, I think I pretty well knew that when you finished your orgasm by singing ‘American Pie.'”

“I always liked that song,” said Matthew. “Very underrated.”

“And so are you, my dear,” she said, patting him on the head. She pulled back the sheet and walked across the room totally naked, attempting to gather her belongings.

“Are you leaving?” asked Matthew.

Leonora turned to speak to him as she squeezed into her panties. “Yes. I have a life. My horn calls me. I have friends. Somewhere in my house I have a pet cat, even though he rarely makes an appearance. I just assume he’s still there because the food disappears and the house smells like shit.”

As she finished speaking, the doorbell rang. Matthew looked over at Leonora and mouthed, “I don’t know…”

He leaped to his feet and said, “Hold on a second. Let’s both put on those thick white terry cloth robes, and go to the door and answer it, pretending we are Mr. and Mrs. Normal Tourist from Des Moines, Iowa.”

“Make it Rapid City, South Dakota and you’ve got a deal,” said Leonora.

They donned the robes and headed to the door. Opening it, they found Soos standing there with a gentleman who greatly resembled Jubal Carlos, but with a much different haircut.

Matthew, displaying great shock, asked, “Don’t you think you should call me first before you just show up?”

Soos pushed past him, gave Leonora an uncomfortable hug and stepped into the living room. “We tried to call. You don’t answer, you’re never home, your mailbox is full. It’s almost like you’re dead, but nobody’s found out yet.”

The Jubal lookalike held out his hand. “I’m Jasper–Jubal’s brother. Nice to meet you.” He, too. walked right past the visitors from the Dakotas and stepped into the living room.

Jasper and Soos found nice seats on the couch as Matthew pointed to Soos and said to Leonora, “This is my friend from college. We call her Soos… Ahhh…You’ve already been introduced to Jasper…”

He turned to Soos and Jasper. “This is my…What should I say? My protegé in love.”

“What the hell?” Leonora gave a quick wave to Soos and Jasper.

Matthew, stung by his own awkward description, stumbled into the room. “What is it you want, Soos?”

Soos looked around the room, her eyes falling on nine or ten bottles of Jack Daniels, sitting in a corner, abandoned.

“Well,” she said, “I thought that since you’re the executive producer of this organization, you might like to have an update.”

Matthew sat down in a big, plump chair. “Well, actually, I get updates on the news broadcasts.”

“Well, that’s not very personal,” said Jasper.

“Exactly,” said Matthew. “That’s what I’m trying to avoid. Getting personal.”

“Who are these people?” Leonora asked Matthew, obviously perturbed.

Soos stepped in to offer an explanation. “We are his comrades, business cohorts and missionaries, if you will, on this project to make Jesus popular again. You may have heard of it…”

Leonora rolled her eyes like eyes had never been rolled before. “Yes, I’ve heard of it.”

Turning to Matthew, she asked, “Are you part of this?”

Matthew pointed at Leonora and said, “Great question. I got the thing started. Jubal Carlos, who’s his brother…” He pointed to Jasper. “Picked up the ball, and now it seems that Little Boy Blue is blowing the horn of insanity.”

“No shit,” said Leonora.

“Ooh, a non-believer,” Soos squealed with some giddy glee. “I love non-believers.”

“I am not a non-believer,” snapped Leonora. “I just don’t call it God. When I was asked in college about my faith, I told them I was a Panist.”

Jasper wrinkled his brow. “Panist?

Leonora stepped across the room and found her own seat in a straight-back chair. “Yes. Greek. Pan–all. Ist–me. I believe in everything, everyone and every creature. I make no distinction between the busy ant and your Jewish God.”

“Wow,” said Soos. And nothing more.

Matthew sat back admiringly. For the first time in many years, he realized he had made love to a woman who actually had a brain.

Soos, unperturbed, launched.

She explained that Michael Hinston had become an inspiration in Soulsbury to all around him–a leader and compassionate man, seeking to help others.

On and on she spoke. Of miracles. Moments. She mentioned the wonderful series done by Jennifer Carmen in North Carolina, featuring Jubal’s life and story. She nearly cried when explaining that the United Nations had put out a proclamation stating that this was to become the “Decade of Kindness.”

When Soos finally slowed up, Jasper jumped in. “Word has it you’re not that enthusiastic about the things we’re doing, Matthew. Is that right?”

Matthew just sat and stared at Jasper. He didn’t want to hurt the feelings of a man he had just met, but he also didn’t want to lie and pretend–especially in front of his exciting new lover.

“It’s just my experience,” said Matthew, “that the more you believe in God, the weaker you become. I’m tired of being weak.”

Jasper stood to his feet, strolled across the room, turned on his heel and began.

“Did you ever hear the story, “Horace the horse? Yes, Horace the horse lived in a barn. Unlike the other horses, he determined he never to be trained, saddled and used to herd cows and ride across the plains. So every time the saddle was brought in his direction, he spit, snorted and kicked, scaring away all those who tried to tame him. The ranchers who owned the horses decided to refuse Horace any food. So when the other horses went out to work for the day, and Horace had a lot of time on his hooves, Horace decided he would trick them by trying out the pig feed and the chicken portions. At first he felt very smart, but he got weaker, sicker and pretty soon, he could barely stand on his four legs.”

“One day a young girl–the daughter of the owner of the ranch–brought him an apple and a bag of oats. It tasted so good. The next morning Horace the horse decided he’d join his brethren. So when they placed the saddle on his back, he didn’t look on it as a burden, but instead, an opportunity to carry someone else’s burden.”

Jasper stopped his story like a preacher does when he finishes and it’s almost time for the Doxology.

“What the hell…?” asked Matthew. “Horace the horse??”

Leonora interrupted. “Oh, you didn’t understand, Matthew? Our friend Jasper, here, thinks that all God’s creatures should be saddled. Saddled with guilt. Saddled with fear. Saddled with rules. And saddled with worry.”

She paused. “And if we’re not saddled, well, they’re going to tell us right now–there’s no way we can be happy.”

Jasper tried to interrupt but Leonora held up a hand. “No,” she said. “You shut the fuck up. You come waltzing in here, and you’ve decided that you’ve got so much God you just have to spill it on everybody else. Well, here you go, big fella. Some of God’s horses don’t want saddles. They want to run free. They want to see a mountain in the distance, and believe it’s thirty miles away, start running toward it and discover it’s a hundred. But they still keep running. Here’s your problem. That little Dixie accent you throw in so you’ll be like part of the people? You think it makes you sound real. Simple. You know what I hear when you talk like that? I hear little girls screaming, running from the church that was just firebombed by the Ku Klux Klan. So if your goal today was to impress me with how wonderful your Lordy Lord is, well, you just made me hate the son-of-a-bitch even more.”

The room fell still.

Soos quietly stood to her feet and said, “You’re absolutely right. We’ve been rude.”

Jasper nodded his head, and walked toward the door. “I was wrong. I must have gotten in my preacher mode.”

The two left without saying another word, finding their own exit. After the door shut behind them, Matthew sat in his chair and Leonora walked over to stare out the window at the Las Vegas playground below.

They had learned a lot about each other in a very short period of time.

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G-Poppers … September 11th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

 

G-Pop watched the news with great interest.

One political candidate accused another candidate of not being attractive, and therefore, unable to get votes.

It made G-Pop wonder if his children knew how to handle a bully. There has been a great confluence of opinions on the subject of “bullying,” which boil down to three assertions:

A. Bullying is bad

B. Kids need to know how to speak up for themselves

C. Bullies make victims

What if all of these assertions are wrong?

Because when we have grown people who are supposed to be our leaders, who are still resorting to bullying, attempting to victimize others, we can’t isolate the problem as an adolescent situation.

Bullies don’t go away just because they have more birthdays.

So G-Pop wanted to explain to his children exactly how this situation works. For after all, everyone gets bullied. There are even “bulliers” who bully the bullies.

It begins with an action, an accusation or an insult. Here’s what G-Pop thinks you should do:

1. After the insult, you have the stage.

People will turn to see how you’re going to react to this indignity. The spotlight is on you. What you do next will determine whether the public views the bully as the victor or realizes that you have handled yourself with great power and have overcome the onslaught.

Obviously, with the amount of bullying that goes on in America, most of our countrymen think the bully has the advantage.

After the bullying is presented, you have the stage. Everyone is awaiting your response.

2. It is a principle in wrestling that the best way to defeat your opponent is to use his weight against him.

That’s right. When your adversary is in the attack position, he becomes off-balance. He is lunging and his weight is on the front of his feet. He does not have equilibrium anymore unless you catch him, hold him up and begin to fight.

If you move out of the way, pushing your attacker to the side, he will likely fall down.

When Donald Trump suggested that Carly Fiorina was not attractive enough to be President, he thrust forward, placing himself in a position to be thrown to the ground by someone who would use the wieght of his stupid comment against him.

So what should she have said back to his insult? How about this?

“Well, I understand that Mr. Trump is accustomed to judging beauty contests, but since being President doesn’t come with any crown–even a tiara–I’m not terribly concerned about how he views my comeliness.”

She would not only have been applauded for her calm and intelligent answer, but would have used the absurdity of his attack against him.

3. Breathe and control the subject.

Once people have decided how they want to bully you, they play out their hand. If you can dodge the force of their ambush, you then are granted, by the surrounding listeners, permission to change the subject and turn things in a different direction.

So how does this apply on the playground with children?

G-Pop thinks the best way to overcome bullying is to stay in teams. Bullies don’t like to attack more than one person at a time.

Then, when the bully attacks, use the force of his attack against him, with comrades standing nearby to support.

Then breathe and go find help by changing the subject to solution instead of conflict.

G-Pop knows that some people are not satisfied with mere resolution, but instead, would love to heap revenge. Honestly, life takes care of that also.

If you take the stage and use the bully’s weight against him and control the subject, you will embarrass your attacker, giving permission to the masses around you to mop up the mess.

Yes, people will aid you and take care of the bully if you have the intelligence to know what to do when he or she comes.

 

 

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The Story Goes On… July 14, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Daniel in the lion's denI was having trouble dealing with the stories: Jonah and the whale, Daniel in the lion’s den–even Jesus walking on the water.Three little pigs

So when I was fifteen years old, for a season I embraced agnosticism.

It was pretty easy. For after all, I never believed in religion. Church was tolerable. I had a curiosity about God.

But overall, the religious system asked me to swallow things without question, never realizing how they might affect me.

It was just too much.

Now I know there are those who would like to believe that departing from the church leads to all sorts of depravity. But I did not become a drug addict. I did not start mistreating my dog. I didn’t develop a pornography addiction.

Moses and the Red SeaActually, I rather enjoyed sleeping in on Sunday mornings, and took the extra time to audition for a play, and won the lead role.Little Red Riding Hood

I was happy.

I made new friends, since my Christian ones turned their backs on me. I joined with these acquaintances to discuss intellectual matters and expound on the problems in our society. I felt like a budding genius. It was like I was on a Mt. Olympus of knowledge, looking down on the world around me, trying to find a way I could assist the mere mortals below.

It was intoxicating.

In a strange sense of speaking, it was a religious experience. Yes, there is a religiosity to atheism. It was the comforting sense that I was self-contained. I needed nothing else.

Everything seemed really positive except for one factor. As time went on, the conversations I had with my new comrades became more bitter and nasty. After a while, we judged those who were not part of our confluence to be inferior–ignorant, if you will.

So one day it occurred to me that this new “religion” I had taken on had the same viciousness and prejudice as the one I had walked away from. There was still a plan of salvation, in the sense that you had to reject anything that might even hint toward the supernatural. There were sermons, as we disemboweled the character of those individuals who dared to disagree with us.

So finally, one night lying on my bed, I realized that the true story was not confined to the sixty-six books of the holy scripture. The story is actually compacted into the message that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

For even though I hated religion, had grown weary of church and felt like I could do without God, I had no idea, in my agnosticism, what to do with people. They seemed cumbersome. They were in the way.

Because as noble as it may sound to give freedom to everyone, when you have eight billion freedom-headers crashing into one another, it’s quite a headache.

My new-found lack of faith caused me to be irritated with the very creatures with whom I shared a species.

We need the story.

Maybe we don’t need all the stories that have been collected and called divine within the volume, but we do need The story:

  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Give and it shall be given unto you.
  • Go the second mile.
  • You are the salt of the earth
  • Love your enemies

Without this narrative, we learn to hate religion, disdain the church, ignore God, and unfortunately, also end up disliking one another.

I went back to church.

I don’t agree with everything that happens there, and when I don’t, I question it. I rail against religion because it is a man-made infestation, formed to cripple the creativity of humankind.

I maintain a curiosity about God, though none of us know what happens a hundred and twenty seconds after we die.

But I believe in people.

I consider it to be the sign of spiritual energy–when the love we have for one another becomes the symbol of our devotion to God.

The story goes on. The story needs to be told.

Because without the story… we become discouraged in our own lack of appreciation for one another.

 

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My Five Friends … September 15, 2012

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‘Twas another glorious night spent in small-town America, sharing with her fine citizens.

Coloma, Michigan–proudly displaying its Subway restaurant in the middle of the town square as confirmation of the presence of civilization. About a half a hundred souls made their way out to see me shake my reed in the wind. (Or perhaps most of them were there to hear Jan play her reed on her wind instrument…)But they came.

I have been doing this so many years that it has granted me the age, grace and courtesy to understand the validity of how things work without “kicking against the pricks”–because I will give you a quick definition of stupidity: stupidity is when a God-given reality is explained to you in detail and you stubbornly choose to believe it is merely an opinion.

Here’s what I’ve learned: there are five types of people who show up for everything in life. I am sure that your deeper insight may expand it to seven or boil it down to three. More power to you. Regarding this quintet of human possibilities, though, I have learned to love all of them. Obviously, I am drawn to the more affectionate members of the family, but my understanding of the others grants me the patience and general sweetness to include them.

All five of them were there last night at the First United Methodist Church. May I introduce you to them?

1. Mr., Miss or Mrs. I Am Here and Willing. These are people who show up bringing their own energy. They are the lovely folks you wish to sit next to in an airplane, who happen to have granola bars in their possession when you find out you’re stuck on the tarmac for an extra hour. They are willing to share. These folks require no hats, whistles or cake to have a party. They have made the journey with a sense of anticipation, with their own enthusiasm which will render the evening profitable even if the offering from the stage is less than professional.  They applaud dancing monkeys because the little fellas “try hard.”

2. This particular group I have dubbed I Am Here and Curious. They have left their homes because some little piece of advertising about the event has caught their interest, and they’re willing to come out to see if it was worth their time. They are not unfriendly, but they certainly don’t bring their own power boost. They are similar to that used car that the salesperson touts “only needs a good jump start, but runs great.” They are the kind of people who sit on the airplane, seeing that someone brought granola bars, and swear to do it next time, although they are destined to surely forget.

3. I Am Here Because I Am Always Here. “This is where I live, this is where I come, this is the source of my loyalty, I am not so sure I understand what I am about to experience, it doesn’t matter, I learned as a young human to show up or face the punishment. I am neither enthralled nor in agony–just seeking my gold star for being present. I am always a bit bewildered because my neutrality is viewed as negative instead of as an apathetic adaptation to my ongoing low expectation.”

4. I Am Here to Watch–with absolutely no intention of becoming involved. Matter of fact, I wish the whole event was on closed-circuit TV in a room containing an excellent candy machine. I think that I’m at home, so at the least urging of my whim, I may arise several times to go to the bathroom or check out what’s going on in the narthex. I am not negative, I just have developed a highly polished form of indifference.

5. And finally, I Am Here to Critique. Perhaps I watch too many episodes of America’s Got Talent or American Idol. I am under the conviction that the world is waiting for my scorecard on every issue, so rather than allowing my emotions to become involved, I will sit back, hand on my chin or arms across my chest, and watch from a distance so as to be able to give an impartial representation when asked about the procedure. I have no motivation to be critical–unless it ends up being as mediocre as I fear.

There you go. This is the way human beings function–and it doesn’t matter if you’re in the work place, the church, a concert, a party, a meeting or even around the family dinner table–you will see these five incarnations blossoming in front of your eyes. The problem, though, is that often intelligent people become aware of these variations, but rather than having tender mercy, kindness, humor and gentleness towards the less involved members, they become cynical, angry, challenging and even mean to them.

I am professional enough that I don’t peer at the critics in the audience, nor do I gear in on those who are trying to protect their hearts by perching their arms in front of them. But I also don’t allow myself to become overly giddy about those who are arriving with a pre-smile and a jolt of excitement. My job is to give my talent in excellence–and find a way to love everyone in the room.

That’s why I titled this essay My Five Friends.

  • Because Friend 1, who is here and willing, doesn’t really need me to do much except avoid dashing ever-present hope.
  • Buddy 2 requires information concerning my mission and purpose in order to turn curiosity into an actual level of interest.
  • Comrade 3 merely requires that I establish that I have arrive at his domain where he frequently resides–to edify instead of destroy.
  • Acquaintance 4 is often won over by a bit of surprise and flash–allowing for a smirk or even a smile to pass across a stony countenance.
  • And Adversary 5? Well, the best I can do with this one is to hope that he or she walks out thinking that this was one of the better performance they were ever forced to critique.

You can see the key. Winning over my first two friends is pretty easy. Trying to win over Friends 4 and 5 is an exercise in graying the hair–a bit futile. So the victory lies in turning Comrade 3 into a believer instead of just an arriver.

Is it really that simple? It certainly is, and thank God, because any deeper complexity would render me completely ill-prepared for participation.

So all five of my friends showed up in Coloma last night–and all five of them went home. My hope and prayer is that each one of them found a certain satisfaction that will enlighten their hearts to be the better sparkle of themselves.

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