Infirmity….

Yeah….I got a few.   Although I cannot find the definition in the tiny Webster dictionary on my table, the Bible speaks of infirmity as a weakness, a blight on the character, which causes a person to stray from the blessed path of Christlikeness, but in that same regard, the grace of God in Christ Jesus is far greater than the weakness and sins of a believer, and there is forgiveness with God for various infirmities.  This  is not to say that the infirmity is an excuse for ungodly behavior, but just an observation of the human condition.

Here I am, at 3:21AM in the morning in my silent room in central Massachusetts.  I have the night off, and it is very cold outside.  I live in a rooming house.   A locked rooming house which you cannot enter unless you have a key to enter.  I have the portable heater on, because there is a chill in the air, and when I have stepped outside the room to go to the community bathroom which I share with the other tenants on my floor, I remember the chill I had before I put the heater on.

So what am I doing up this late on an early Thursday morning, when I should be sleeping?   Funny you should ask, or better yet, I should ask myself.  It is my night off, and if I was working tonite, I would be taking my half hour break, and eating a microwave meal and reading my book which I bring with me during this time.  It  is usually one of the better times to read, and a very welcome break from the molding machines  I have to attend to.  Unlike the others who take a break with me, I have my book, and they have their “stupid phones” (Iphones, as it were), and they spend their time chatting with whoever is up in their life outside or scrolling down the news of the morning.

I have already done this earlier, and my infirmity has chased me again and captured my soul, as it were, and I have found myself looking at  the most inappropriate videos online.  I am not proud of this fact.  But when I do the math, I am still ashamed at the total I arrive at.  I am divorced, have lost my family (both ex-wife and two twin daughters), and my children, which includes a grown adult son, and they have dutifully distanced themselves away from my family, which is one half of their birth family, and I found myself once again very upset about this earlier this evening.   Then there are the few women I talk to online.  Most of them speak of love, but it is just words, and  their focus is on why I have not sent them any money lately. But then, there is Mary Jo.

Ah yes…..the bag lady of the city.   We met each other at  the library earlier last evening and she wanted to know how we were going to spend the evening.   Not in the best of moods, I abruptly told her she would do her thing and I would do mine, and then left for about 20 minutes, thinking she would be gone by the t ime I returned to get back into my parked van in front of the city library, but I was wrong, as usual.   She was waiting for me patiently, and told me where she was going to be, and I assured her that I might not see her, but again, after the few errands I undertook this evening, I ended up at the grocery store where she was just “hanging out” at, and I swear she had been waiting for me.

We made  some small  talk, and some of it very provocative and leading, but she dismissed it.   After the 5 years of our casual acquaintance, which has led to an off again and on again friendship, we do really understand each other and can smile and joke with each other about the impossibilities of any further advancement in our relationship.

So I spent the last few hours just looking at  various sundry topics online and found myself guilty and ashamed for my lack of self-control (which is a matter for another posting).  I just trust that my profession of faith is not one of hypocrisy.  Like I told Mary Jo….”what you see is what you get” with me….and she understands and appreciates that about me.   She doesn’t expect anything more or less, which I find to be really refreshing.  Odd?  Yeah…that’s  me.   Outspoken?   Yeah…strike two.   Have very few people to talk with?  Strike three said the umpire and my team of one was retired for the night.   All I have left is my heavenly Father.   “Who do I have but you, Oh Lord, in heaven?”   Sure.   And what is wrong with me?  Idiot at large at times, and defender of intellectual honesty for what it’s worth, in my little corner of the world.

I don’t miss working tonite, but it would have been better than being seduced by the siren call of inappropriae fantasies and urgings.   Infirmities be damned.  God have mercy.  Amen.   And it is time to “hit the sack” as they say.   The room is now warm enough that I don’t need to keep my clothes on to sleep, as I usually do.   You would think that at $620 a month for rent, the rooms would be better heated, but it could be worse.   I could be living in box on the railroad tracks or just walking the streets, as some of my homeless friends do.   And the mayor is beside himself, not knowing the direction to take to solve this problem.   Again…probably another posting to come.

Be blessed, friends.   Chat with you later.   And beware of your infirmities.  Unless they find you out.

“There is now no condemnation….”

So…I have needed to write this and get my thoughts out for the last 24 hours.  I am saddened and melancholy, traits which my friends encourage me to set aside, however, they do not live the life which I own, or should I say “which I live.”   God owns my life, and my life is in His hands.  I do not know what the future holds, but He holds the future.  I have always believed that and will believe it until my time is finished on this earth.

First and foremost, I need to affirm that I am not defined by my past.  Yes, I have a checkered past, with my share of failures and misgivings, and my share of misunderstandings and assumptions, but God in His mercy has been gracious and forgiving of my infirmities and sins.  There is no doubt about it in my mind.  I live by faith and not by sight (at least I make an effort to).  But there are those in my life who see fit to remind me of my failures and my sins.  I believe there are others who understand my meaning about this.  There are just sometimes we can’t escape our past, no matter how hard we try to move on with life, and sure, I have memories of those who have treated me badly and unjustly, but by the grace of God, I want to extend mercy and forgiveness to them.

I have been married twice and divorced twice, and I have three children.  A grown son who lives in the South, and two twin daughters who live with their mother.   She has full custody of the children, who are now teenagers, and they all live together and eat together and think alike and it is like there are three ex-wives I have, and each one of them reminds me of my failures which led to the divorce.   All of my children have chosen not to have anything to do with my side of the family, even though they have my last name.  And how does that work, I wonder?  It is a mystery which I cannot unlock.

I have reached out to my twin daughters, who I have not seen in over 3 years because they do not think I have gotten help with the issues which led to the divorce, but which they originally told me they forgave me and wanted to see me, until 3 years ago.  Can’t figure it out, but I recently tried seeking the peace with them.  Sent them cards and gifts, but in response, their mother replied to me, as if my home-educated girls cannot speak for themselves or even write on a card and send it to me.   E-mail correspondence and texting, but no handwritten thank you.  And I did not raise them to be ungrateful or irresponsible towards others.  But that was another time and another place.  Memories.

I wasn’t Prince Charming to live with.  I know this.  I am moody, tempermental, melancholy, and given to serious reflection and often isolation from others when I am in a retrospective mood.  And living alone for the last 5 years has not helped me with this.   I have a few loyal friends who say they understand me and that “All is well,” and I love them, and I have my 5 sisters who support me and encourage me to move on with my life.  But this is hard when my ex-wife tells me that my daughters say thank you for the cards and gifts, but they do not want to see me, and they do not want to tell me what they do for excitement or what their activities are.  They want to keep their lives private and secret from me.  Imagine that, and me, spending over $20,000 a year for child support and I can’t even know what they do from day to day.

I refuse to cry in my beer, as if I even drink that stuff, but God has kept my tears in His bottle for many years.  And the issues which led to the divorce?   Sure.  They were legion.  Many issues, and they were focused on my ex-wife and myself.  Never my girls, but my daughters have now adopted those issues as ones which they take personally and all of them speak the same language.  It is a losing battle, and I choose not to wage war against them.   I love them too much for that.   The divorce agreement was very civil and my choices were restrained, as I could have forced them to sell the house and put them in public education, and have created a nightmare scenario which they never would have recovered from, but my love for them was stronger than the bitterness I felt.

I am not perfect, but a sinner saved by the grace of God and His grace through Christ, my Lord.  I am not ashamed of that.   But the future remains hidden to me, and I often wonder if I am too damaged to ever re-marry again.   I remember a friend I had who asked me if I would ever marry someone like her, and I told her many years ago that I would marry and love anyone….red, white, blue, black, green, turquoise…..if they would marry me and love me.   And I continue to believe the same.

I will not wage war against my ex-family.  I will continue to love them and pray for them and hope that they will find it in their hearts to see me before I end my sojourn on this earth.  God so loved me that He forgave me, and who am I to not forgive them.   And so it is written…and so it will be…..”There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…”   Amen and amen….Will this story be continued?  Possibly, and I am glad to have put my heart on my sleeve here and shared that which has caused me so much sadness lately.  Be blessed.

Let it Snow….

So it has been snowing now for a couple of days….Wow…it is only the beginning of December, and the snow has piled up.  Probably more than a foot right now where I live in Central Massachusetts.   We are getting a head start on the winter, I imagine.  And like other years before this, I usually had a grumpier beginning to the winter, but alas, there are some things which are more profound than my own opinions.  As a Christian, I rejoice in the love and mercy and grace of God, and I have picked and chosen the kinds of joys I have praised God for.  Winter has not been one of them, unfortunately, and I submit….yes, I am convicted for my failure to praise God for the full seasons which He has created.

There is a verse in the Scriptures which asks this question…”Have you entered into the wealth of the snows?”   I am paraphrasing this, of course….but I believe the word used was not “wealth” but reflected the awesome and incredible beauty of the snow.  And then I remember my childhood and how my father used to say that every year, he hated the winter more and more.  I guess I adapted that to my own story, and now that Dad is not longer with us, I expect he is experiencing far more joy where he is than I am.  “To be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord.”   Yes, my hope is that is where he is, and as I shovelled the snow for the past two days, all I could think of was the beauty of this white stuff, and that again, I want this winter to be different than all the rest.  I want to rejoice in the winter and all that it brings.

The old favorite song of the season…”Let It Snow?”  Sure….but I don’t know for how long this winter the song will continue to fall upon us.  But given the fact that we don’t know the future, I can expect that the winter will have its share of snow storms…..or what they now call “snow events.”  Funny how an event becomes a “storm.”   And the old standard, The Farmer’s Almanac?  Sure.  Each winter the Almanac predicts nightmare scenarios for New England, and I have to remind people that New England encompasses Massachusetts all the way up to Maine, and Maine gets whacked with snow each year, but you know?  They really love the snow.  

My preference of seasons, I admit, is the summer.  I love the summer and the heat and even the humidity.   It is the best time of year for me, but I have been raised in New England all my life, and my memories of childhood include making snowmen, ice skating, and that old fashioned chore of shovelling snow.   I remember growing up without a paved driveway, and it was a very long driveway, and having my father give me a shovel and tell me that he expected the entire driveway to be shovelled out when he returned from work.  And guess what?  It got shovelled and I didn’t get a penny for my efforts.   What I did get was a roof over my head, three meals a day, and a warm bed to sleep in.  That was my reward, and I loved it.   

Let it snow…..let it snow….let it snow…..things could be worse.   We could be sitting in the middle of an earthquake or running from a tsunami…..God is to be praised in all seasons, for it is written, “In everything give thanks…”   Not that everything is worth thanking God for, but it is the gratitude of the heart….and He causes all things to work together for good for those who have been called in Christ Jesus.  I can only hope I can continue to praise Him when we have more than a foot or two of snow…..

 

 

 

Sleepless…

So it is Monday morning….3:50AM….I can’t sleep….been up for about 2 hours now, just browsing through Facebook and making passing comments and posting pictures to topics which interest me.   Maybe I should have gone to work last night, but the weather forecast depicted 10-14 inches of snow for the first of December.  Welcome winter…you are early.

I made the quality decision to be safe, since the roads were slick and somewhat icy, even given the fact that they had been treated, but this was around 6PM last night, and my shift began at 7PM.   So….yeah, I called in early.  Gave the reason about my car not being up to it, and not exactly being truthful.   I need an inspection sticker.  Probably not a good reason to skip work.  Have to go back to the dealer and get a replacement for the cracked tail light cover.   It was supposed to have come in Saturday, but there was a “glitch” I was told, whatever that was, but the order went through while I was there Saturday morning.   And I am a little anxious, I admit.  Just want to get this inspetion sticker taken care of for another year.  Was given a Reject sticker due to safety reasons, and I don’t  know how a cracked tail light cover which appears to be like a spider’s web over the light….how does that impinge on pubic safety?   I don’t know…but they make the rules, not me.

And I sit here, wondering.   Will I get a call about 8AM or so telling me the part has come in and to drive up the 25 minutes to the dealer?  How will the roads be?  I will have to shovel out my car which is parked in the back of the building.   Good cardio-vascular workout.  But then…do I want to drive all the way up there?  Have to ask them about the roads.   The city where the dealership is does not have a great track record of removing snow from the roads.  But I need the inspection sticker, and today is my regularly scheduled day off anyway, like tomorrow.

I stayed away from work, for another reason, because a friend of mine in Florida highly recommended it and wished I would be safe, and I had told her I had  wanted to talk to her online tonite, but she got busy and that didn’t occur.   And my other friend in Indiana…..well, she went to bed at  7PM, leaving me alone, and I questioned my decision again to remain in my dwelling while the rest of the night shift worked.  I miss work.  Could have saved my PTO (personal time off) for another night, but it’s not like I use a lot of time off.  I go nowhere.   Rarely take vacations.  And I can take the paid personal time off, and have a few hours left.   I only get about 13 hours personal time off every 6 weeks.   That is 4.6 hours every bi-weekly paycheck.  How stunning!!! (Not)  When I worked for the State, I remember having over 5 weeks paid vacation each year, but that was because I had invested over 20 years in the system, and sick time was not included in personal or vacation time, like it is with the private sector job  I have now.  Oh well….things obviously change…but not always to our liking.  

I am a Christian, and believe that “my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.”   That is the written Word, and I believe and trust it.  Rather trust God than the people who have let me down and have given me broken promises and scams for gifts.   But I’m no saint either, and I am sure there are those people out there who trust God more than me.  Fair game.   No problem.  I agree with them.

So at 4:07AM, the snow is lightly falling as I look out my window in the rooming house where I live.  Yeah, lightly falling snow, and the roads have been plowed, and the sidewalks taken care of so people can avoid walking in the road in the morning.  But the forecast calls for continuing snow for tomorrow into Tuesday morning, so we’ll see how that all works out.

Maybe I won’t go anywhere later today, and trust the public library will be open for business.  It was pretty deserted last night before they closed at 5PM, but I enjoyed the quiet it affords.  Always quiet…much like a morgue…Who knows…maybe I will take a ride up to the dealership and get the part for the car and finally get the inspection sticker.  It will make for an interesting day.

 

 

Thanksgiving, 2019

So here it is.   Another holiday spent alone.   This is the 6th year I will have spent Thanksgiving alone.  I do not cry about this any longer.  With the separation over and now the divorce in full swing, things need to be set aside and move forward.  Not as easy as it sounds though.  Memories are always with me.

This year was a little different, though.  My sister, Tina, invited me over to her home on Thanksgiving for a meal in the afternoon, and I was very pleased.  Usually there is no one in my family who even offers a meal to me, and I end up at the local McDonald’s for Thanksgiving instead of turkey “and all the trimmings.”  She was with her husband, daughter, and her daughter’s new boyfriend, and it was a very quaint and intimate gathering, and we “caught up” with each other for awhile.  

My other sisters?  (I have 5 younger sisters)   Well…I sent them messages wishing them a happy holiday and enjoyable day, to which they replied favorably.  I also sent a text message to my ex-wife.   Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe it is trying to be the civil kind of guy and not the jerk I could be.  As it is written, “Love covers a multitude of sins,” and I have enough of them to fill a house.   So it was a way to wish another well.  My daughters, however….well, that is another story.  As January approaches, I will be entering the 4th year without them wanting to see me or talk to me, and that is another topic for a different posting.  For now, all I can say is that I sent them a card and wished them a happy holiday and sent each of them a gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts, and then made a comment about what would it take to see them again.  I mean, the divorce agreement requires I see them every month, but their mother told me a few years ago (and not them) that they wanted to take a break from seeing me, and I always believed it was important not to force them to see me.  There is enough bitterness and hate to go around in this world, without creating more.

So, it is Thanksgiving, 2019.  And today is Saturday, the day after what they call “Black Friday.”  I have been invited to my other sister’s home for the annual family gathering, but I am wondering how that will play out, as she has a small house.  I told her a few days ago I was not sure if I was coming and had not made a decision about it.  Last year it was very difficult for me.  Everyone had their children and grandchildren with them, and I sat  alone, without a word from most of them.  In any event, I will be present, and another Thanksgiving will have gone by, and then…..then I have to deal with Christmas, and all that entails.

I really don’t like this time of year.   Can’t wait for the beginning of the year, when this is all behind me.  Many people suffer due to loss and privation, and suicide is very common, and I have given it thought periodically.   But not today.  I have to get my car inspected so I can go to work tomorrow night.

Happy Thanksgiving.   Such is life.  What was the song again?  That Beatles one.  Oh yeah, “A Day in the Life.”   I can relate.  But I don’t think I will be blowing my mind out in a car.   Be blessed….

 

“I know all about you…”

Have you ever heard that phrase before.?  Sure.  I think we all have at one time or another.  I wrote an earlier blog concerning this, but for some reason, I hit the wrong key, and it did not save, but no problem.  Probably had to edit it anyway and say a few less things.  I have the tendency to keep writing, and one of these days, I will begin the book I have always wanted to write.

So I heard this statement this morning from my house manager who first asked me if he and I were okay with each other, and I admitted that there was no problem, but then he tore right into me and disciplined me verbally for putting my small bag of trash in the kitchen receptacle, which is far larger and supposedly only used for those tenants who use the laundry facility or the kitchen.  I know differently, but I chose to remain silent, but he continued with his comments and said he knew all about me and what happened on my job.  I wanted to tell him I did not get fired, and there were no charges ever filed, but I was only put on Administrative Leave, and eventually retired in good standing and now receive my state pension without any problem. But alas, I kept my peace.

I have been living at this rooming house in the city going on five years now, and the house manager and I have had our isolated moments of disagreement, as well as good moments, whereupon I have been thanked for being a good tenant and a good eye on those whom he could not always watch, where I live on the second floor.   But now, I am afraid, things have taken a different turn, and his words have brought back many wounds and memories I have wanted to forget, and it hurt me deeply to hear him speak the way he did.

I have only been known for my behavior, which most of the time is quiet.  I stay to myself, as most of us do in the house.  Most of us are like two ships in the night passing without much comment, but I know there are various stories of all those who live there.   We all have our baggage, and mine is not very pretty.   Separated from my wife.  Now divorced.  Daughters who choose to remain aloof from me and not want me in their life, and the house manager told me in the beginning that I would never be reunited with my wife, and my marriage was over.  I had different hopes.

So now, with all my prayers for forgiveness now, the past comes back to my mind with all my faults, but I know God is the one who really knows me.  He knows the thoughts and intents of my heart, and all the hurts which I have gone through, and to whom I have hurt as well, and He is a merciful God, forgiving, and compassionate.   The lack of any compassion and grace which I heard from my house manager this morning gives rise for concern on my part.  I am now defined by my behavior of the past, and what he knows….I don’t know what he knows, but it was not criminal.   I retired from state service in good standing and there has not been any issues with the State refusing to pay me a pension for criminal behavior.  The whole issue of five years ago stems from the bad marriage situation and it carried over into the workplace.  So sad, and choices have had unintended consequences, and I never thought my marital woes would have resulted in my losing my job and ending up working the late night shift in grueling manual labor.   

Some things I do know, however.   I know I am not defined by my behavior.   I am a Christian, and Christ has redeemed me.   I read from my holy book that “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Yeah.  That’s me.  I have faults, made mistakes, spoken out of turn, let my temperment get in the way of logic many times, but I am a Christian, and God loves me.   And God loves my house manager too,  and I pray for him almost daily that he will come to know the love of God in Christ.  God knows him like He knows me.   God knows all about him, and all of his moments of living, unlike the fact that I am only partly known by someone who does not live with me or speak with me or dine with me or even pray with me.  That is my consolation.   And the greater consolation I have is that God loves me irrespective of what others may think or say or do.   

My purpose is to “do good,” and I will abide by the trash commandments which have been spelled out to me, and I hope that will be the end of it.   “Abstain from all appearance of wrongdoing,” it is written, and so I will….and I hope the house manager finds it in his heart to forgive me, and not hold my past against me.  If he does, he will ultimately those who only see my life as one of failure and loss.   

“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.  “Plans to help you and not harm you…to give you hope and a future.”   That is my consolation.   I don’t know what the future holds, but God holds the future.   My one and only friend in the world, and the woman I love would staunchly agree….

Trust…

So the bank manager told me the same thing the previous others had told me.  “Don’t trust anyone.  You cannot trust anybody.  Just look where trust has gotten you.”  Sure.  Great words.  Encouraging?  I doubt it.  I asked her how she trusted her boyfriend or parents or brothers or sisters, and she laughed.  “Gregory,” she said, “you just can’t trust anyone anymore.”  And that was the end of the conversation and she helped me get over the latest hump which restored my bank account.  It did nothing to encourage me that I would spend the rest of my life alone if I did not trust anyone, but that was another conversation we did not have.

Yeah.  Trust.  It is something you earn.  I get that.  But I believe it goes deeper than that.  Trusting someone not to hurt you or lie to you or to treat you with dignity.  Not believing the worst about someone or their motives.  Yeah.  That’s the ticket, it’s been said.  Some think it is the ticket to perdition to trust yourself with another.  But in my case, I believed their intents were virtuous and they cared for my welfare, and I did not believe I would be deceived and plotted against to take my hard-earned money for what essentially became another scam, and another situation where I would lose my bank account.

I had this “relationship” with Maria (a later post I’ll share soon), and it involved an alleged “marriage” between myself and her, and her “lawyer” finally decided he was going to send me the money to get things going, and I pleaded with him not to send me any money.  Sure.  I told Maria I was broke, and I guess she remembered my account numbers and decided to share it with her “lawyer.”   I had forgotten about that.   So I sent a text back to the lawyer and told him I did not want any money and certainly did not want him putting it into my account.  Too late, he said.   The Bank in London has already done it, and so like a good boy scout, I rushed to the bank and asked the bank manager how to stop the deposit, and she asked the million dollar question.  “Did you give him your account numbers or password?”  There was no password given, I told her, but he had the account numbers, just like my employer had my account numbers when I got an automatic deposit for working.  She didn’t buy it, and that is when the negotiations began.

She told me my account would be terminated, and she gave me 30 days to get my depositors notified of a new account.   I agreed and fulfilled the gentlemen’s agreement with her, and  the following day, I returned and told her I had notified a couple of accounts of the news, and then she found out one of her bank tellers “accepted” the deposit from the “bank in London,” which turned out to be a credit union on the West Coast, and was deposited in a woman’s account against her wishes, and to make a long story short, the whole transaction was an effort on the part of the “lawyer” to scam the bank out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The lawyer told me I had to send him the money which was deposited, and I told him it was a fake account, and he hemmed and hawed and threatened me, and the bank manager notified the local police and the credit union on the West Coast, and the lawyer silenced his texting.

The bank manager was pleased that I’d kept my word and notified my accounts of the new account number, because I had done it in short order, much quicker than the 30 days.  Then she told me again.  “You can’t trust anyone.”  Ok.   I heard her.   I had heard that before.  Yeah.  I had become victim to numerous financial entrapments.  False wire transfers, bogus checks, even counterfeit postal money orders.  This resulted in at least four or five lost bank accounts within a few years.  And could I then get a credit card or online bank approval?  Not by a long shot.   I trusted too many people who seemed genuine.  Financial trust was vital to me.  And the romance with the various “ladies” in my life took second place.  I could not afford to lose another account.  Too much depended on it.   My employer’s deposits, social security, pension, and other deposits.  Child support, ad nauseum.  I wished I had been wealthy, but even then, I paid my monthly rent check, only to have someone falsify that check and try to steal funds from the bank.  So I pay my rent in cash now.  Pure and simple.

Trust.  Sure.  “Don’t you trust me?” they ask when I refuse to give out my “bank details.”  And I go through the song and dance of my endless struggle for integrity with others and their motives.  “I trust no one,” I say and the faces fall and the conversation ends, and that becomes another nail in the virtual coffin of another possible relationship.  

I still believe the best in people.  And I still have the scars of having lost money to those who I assume are real, but the fakers have been identified finally, and I am not really secure with anyone any longer.  My friend in Colorado tells me to just stay with her.   There is a future with her, she told me.  I want to believe her, and so far it is encouraging.   She has not asked me for my bank details.  The first sign of her asking will be the last conversation.  And the band will play on, and I hope I have the resilience to want a relationship at all.  I can always hope, but hope gets dimmer and dimmer.  Fleeting is a better word.