A War of Minds

I am a writer by nature. It’s what I do. I tend to communicate better in text than in words, perhaps because text is an arena in which I can properly edit myself where in real life the words just go … they just go and go, and the things I say flow outward like water from a broken spout.

I find myself, this late at night, considering the validity of three schools of thought. As those who regularly read this irregularly written blog know, my life the last few months has been rather all over the place. Last month, I finally managed to get out of Alabama and return to the place (and people) I love in Virginia. I have a basement room, I have a job that covers the bills, I’m now fully Catholic, I’m involved in a few ways with my church of choice, and I’m living a life … sort of.

I still find myself missing what I once had, which was that one blissful week in November with Abbey. For the first time in modern recollection (IE, something that happened after 2000) I was with a girl. Sure, it wasn’t intimate (at least on the level that the word “intimate” implies) but it was great. It was a feeling, a set of feelings, that absolutely were mind-blowing.

I realize that seems to overvalue it, but the feelings brought forth are missed. I miss them, I miss what it was, and I can’t help but feel it was addicting in a way … which, as I biologically understand it, isn’t far from the truth. A bond, brief as it was, was established between myself and Abbey. But that bond was broken and now I’m over 700 miles away and I’m done. We’re done.

I now turn my attention to a girl I’ve had my eye on since late last July, a girl who is part of my church of choice and an integral one at that. She is the only girl I have ever baked a cheesecake for (for her birthday) and she’s quite the person. Kind, creative, compassionate, sarcastic, intelligent, pretty, and fleet of foot (I seem to like dancers … I have no idea why).

I had plans to ask this girl out back during my last tour in VA but I didn’t have a job, a place to live, and I wasn’t Catholic. I now have all three of those things and, originally, the plan was to ask her out once I returned to VA. Like, immediately. I was going to triumphantly return, be hailed a conquering hero (“You survived exile in Alabama!”), win the hand of the fair maiden, and ride off into the sunset.

My priest talked me out of that idea over dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s. Because that’s my life. He suggested waiting three weeks and I’ve waited four weeks. Last week I had opportunities to ask her out for coffee, but passed on them because I’m a coward. I’ve been thinking about this for nearly eight months and the pent up anxiety just froze me last week. That and other things led to a “wait and see” approach, which caused a massive face-palming of nearly everyone in my head.

However, this past Saturday, I got the chance to spend a significant chunk of the day with her (and others, rare the occasions we spend time alone) and gained SIGNIFICANT insight into her thought processes on relationships and things. This insight came at a trickle at first (around 9PM) and then turned into a creek (around 11PM) and then went into a full on flood (around 12AM).

She confirmed what my best friend had said earlier in the week, basic things which you’d think by now I’d have figured out … but she confirmed them, near verbatim (and with a healthy dose of highly amusing profanity, which felt like I was getting past the “Good Catholic Girl” veneer and getting to the real shit, but I digress).


The Basic Rules

1. The guy needs to make the first move: ASK THE GIRL OUT.

2. Planned and thought out things are GOOD.

3. Dating for at least a year is really necessary to make a decently informed decision about marrying someone.

4. Religion, family, and money are the three things that need to be discussed before any long-term commitments are made.


This was spilled out after a Saturday where we (and her best friend, a good dude) spent five hours building sets (for a church play we’re all involved in), then a few more hours watching a movie and hanging out, then a few hours after that with just the three of us (her, her best friend and myself) talking amongst ourselves.

I got let in, for the first time and it was glorious. Not only was it glorious, but it was highly informative. Not only did she let me in, but her best friend also threw out some nuggets about them both as I sat, listened, and offered some small thoughts. I learned far more about them than they me (which, I admit, seems duplicitous), but he gave credence to the “study and observe” method … because that’s the method he used with his one and only girlfriend, which he’s been dating for nine months and spent four months getting to know as her friend.

And here is where my I am of three minds of this thing.


1. Ask her out ASAP.

There can be no doubt that I’ve waited long enough. Her words confirmed that she’d like guys to make the first move and ask, hell or highwater. We have chemistry, we are both lovers of sarcasm and the arts; we’re nerds, different types but nerdy all the same. We have fun. I’ve waited nearly eight months at this point, I’ve done my diligence, it’s a time for action.

2. Research. Wait. Act later.

But her best friend did months of research as his girlfriend’s friend first and, despite how long I’ve thought about this, I lack in actual groundwork. I have a little over two months of actual groundwork in this and she still refers to me as “the new guy” from time to time, and that has to mean she still thinks of me in that way in her mind, at least on some level. Her schedule for the next two months is going to be packed and I can wait; it’s not like I haven’t already and it would be the more considerate thing to do, I believe.

3. Ditch the idea altogether.

She is incredibly busy, though, and her life is likely to remain in as busy a state — if not a busier one — as it goes on. I’m not exactly some winning catch as I lack money, my family is over 700 miles away (and relations with them are okay but no better than that), and I’m a fresh-faced convert to Catholicism … I have little history in the faith, in the area, and with her. This could absolutely be a time when we’re just destined to be friends, nothing more, and that’s it. Plus, it’s not like I know what I’m doing on a date anyway.


Those three schools of thought are currently at war and, as one can expect, it’s rather exhausting. I’m torn on my motivations … do I want to be her friend? Yes. Do I want to be close to a girl and have those feelings I had before again? Yes. Can I take a no as well as a yes? Maybe. Is this one of the worst ideas I can have? Possibly. Am I worthy of her? I don’t know.

All this swirls in my head, but one phrase, above all else, lords over my thoughts.

“Just do it already, you stupid son of a bitch.”

I’m not sure who’s saying it, me or one of my characters (I have a new set I’m working on and this feels like the doctor, maybe the pilot). But it’s my call. It’s my theme. It’s my belief.

This needs to be done. I declare here, now, that I’m going with option one. I’m going to ask her (after practice on Tuesday afternoon) and stop being a coward, own up to my feelings and get over this malaise of inaction. I don’t know what she’ll say, I expect a negative answer, but I’d rather know now than wait.

I want to ask, so I will. Whatever happens next should prove to be interesting.

Thanks for reading, folks. God Bless.


It’s Purgatory, Not Hell

Purgatory — (in Roman Catholic doctrine) a place or state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are expiating their sins before going to heaven.

It was three in the afternoon, this afternoon, when this thought occurred to me. If you’ll recall in previous posts (many posts) I detailed my experiences with Abbey and the brief week of awesome (followed by our current status as “just work friends”) — this post is yet another follow up to those because I figured it out, at least in part.

I have identified the narrative. In the back of my mind, in the depths of the insanity where all my writing comes from, I’ve been holding onto the misconception that I was in a bit of a living hell as it concerns Abbey. I can look, but not touch. I can see her, but only at work. We can roll along, chemistry clicking, but see nothing come from it.

It was a bit hellish, but this afternoon I realized it wasn’t hell: it was purgatory. I’m stuck in purgatory, where I’m here to suffer before I can move onto something better.

It was a crushing realization. The day had been a good one because it was the only day during the week where I get to see Abbey — we both work mornings on Wednesdays, so I got to see her and my old crew (before I got moved to where I am now in the store, which is electronics — basically, the nerd section).

She and I were rolling along from the get go, even though I flubbed an easy compliment (I was trying to compliment her hair, which she dyed a bit of a darker blonde, but I didn’t stick the landing … which is to say I didn’t realize she dyed it and thought her roots were growing out, and complimented that and not the dye job. She laughed at it and me, of course, but still, it was nice).

And time, as per usual, just seemed to fly by with her and I together. Even after she clocked out and was shopping around the store (notably, the swimsuit sections which I had worked a few nights back and had thoughts on which, of course, I shared and then we tangented off into other things), we were still killing time and rolling along.

It’s almost enough to give me a sense of hope. That was until I realized the narrative — that I realized it was purgatory and then that sense of hope came crashing down. Things don’t get better in purgatory. You just suffer more to prepare yourself for the eventual ascension into heaven (in my case, something better, maybe Virginia).

I’m at the point now where I feel like I need to take matters into my own hands and just break it all into little pieces or score an upset victory by reigniting the fire, so to speak. And I have an in — my former boss guy in the store on the stock crew approached me this morning and was like “Hey, we’re shorthanded now and if you want to pick up some hours on a truck day, let me know and I’ll make it happen.”

I told him I’d definitely consider it and now, I think I need to absolutely take up that offer. Next Friday I’m off, a truck comes in, Abbey will be there, and I can be there just as long as she can — I can be just a regular old stock team guy for a day and, with that, I can try and figure out where I stand.

Honestly, I’m not sure where I stand. We stood in the swimsuit section of the store, while talking about clothes and swimsuits (she even showed me a few pairs of pants she had bought), and were great.

I want her. Badly. Not in just a physical sense (frankly, I would like to hold her hand again, I was really good at that — the kissing, not so much, but I can definitely improve), but in a spending time sense. And I don’t feel like this is wrong, even though rationally it certainly comes across as that.

And I really just want to start the conversation out with, “I want you badly. Is that wrong?” Because I feel like she’d have an answer, even though that would be an absolute horrible way to start a conversation. I don’t know if I’ll even manage to get her to a point where I can say that (it may be that I just have to say it to her in the store or as she’s leaving … even though that screams wrong to me because that’s an ambush and no one deserves to be ambushed).

But at the same time there needs to be some resolution, doesn’t there? Limbo sucks. Purgatory sucks.

There are two possible paths my life can go down (that I can see at least). Path A is the one I planned out when I got back to Alabama — get back to Virginia, convert to Catholicism, establish roots, be with people I love and care for.

Path B is the mystery path, shrouded in darkness with no real guideposts at all: all I know is I didn’t plan for Path B and it’s scary and dark, and I only want to go down that path if I have Abbey in hand. That’s the Abbey path — I have no idea what it is, but I know it’d be worth it if I had her by my side.

That’s got to count for something right?

Or am I merely fixated? The rational side of me says “YES” resoundingly to that question. I’m letting feelings and emotions overrule my rational sense, my logic. She’s Mormon. I’m not. She made the case — likely correctly — that were we together we’d end up at a point where we couldn’t keep going. We’d end up hurt, we’d end up unhappy, and we’d end up breaking up.

“Dating only results in one of two things: marriage or break-ups,” she said.

And she is technically right. Am I just refusing to acknowledge that fact out of pride?

I think, because I’m asking the question, the answer is probably not. But I want her — the word “want” being a dangerous word. If I want her, then it only stands to reason that I won’t get her. The narrative demands more suffering in purgatory, not less. The suffering cleanses and makes one’s love pure.

I don’t know how much more pure I can be in my intentions. I feel like the failures of other males she’s dated before me have unfairly colored her views of my words and my actions. She thinks I’m just doing it to flatter her or get something from her, maybe, and that’s — unfortunately — a valid thought process for the majority of my male counterparts.

And, yes, I’m trying to get something but it’s her I’m trying to get — not something from her, merely her presence.

“You can’t force someone to be with you,” says the people in my head. And that’s a true point. I can’t force her and I don’t want to force her, but I want to really know if she’s committed to the idea of us being done.

“Sore loser?” I’ve been that in the past. It’s entirely possible that’s the case here. I don’t think so, again.

As you can see I’m having trouble reconciling the feelings with the thoughts. The irrational with the rational.

If you have an ideas, let me know. Thanks for reading folks. God Bless.


The Postmortem

Well, seems like I was mistaken about the previous last post being the final say on the whole situation. Though there are a few corners of the Internet that I could post this on, the fact is this is the corner that it’s proper for. The people in my life are largely unaware that this has even happened, and I’d like to keep it that way for a few reasons — the bottom line is that the people who I can trust know what’s gone on.

Hence why I put my thoughts on it here, as opposed to the other corners of the Internet that I occupy.

When we last left off, I had just declared my reasoning and thoughts on why my brief relationship with Abbey had a decent shot of being continued. That was on a Friday. The next day, I was told by Abbey that we should be “work friends” and shouldn’t really see one another outside of work.

As you can imagine, that pretty much quashed any thoughts of a rekindling of things between us. To be bumped from “friend” to “work friend” was not a pleasing thing. We engaged in a two hour long Facebook conversation about the reasoning behind it, which basically boiled down to, “I don’t want to go back on what I said” on her part. She thought it best if we just stay away from one another for a while, especially since I admitted that I still liked her quite a lot.

And I can’t exactly blame her for that. In fact, I get it … she doesn’t want to make a liar out of herself or further entangle things between us, which is wise in a certain sense.

It’s sad in another. Twenty minutes after that conversation concluded, my best friend called and we talked for about an hour and a half, bouncing around multiple subjects that were either directly or indirectly related to the Abbey situation.

Sunday I found myself vacillating from depressing thoughts to angry ones (all while being trapped at work from 5AM to 2PM). I wanted to write on the subject then but my head was still cluttered with all manner of things.

Monday was just about getting to today.

And this is where we are now. I sit in a Starbucks, a stone’s throw away from Birmingham, Alabama. It’s about a 90 miles trip from where I live. I came today because I felt like I needed to get away from it all, at least a little away, and try to arrive at some conclusions.

I’ve titled this entry “the postmortem” not in reference to the autopsy, but in reference to what my journalism professor did at the end of every news broadcast we ran. At the end of every broadcast, just after we’d left the airwaves, he would assemble us all in the studio and go over the things he saw us do — good, bad, or otherwise — and advise us, praise us, admonish us, or render some sort of judgment, one way or another.

He called it “the postmortem”. The show was over and there were lessons that had to be learned from it: there would, of course, be another show the next day, and we’d have to carry over what we learned from the previous shows to that one. We were always striving to be better some aspect of the show than last time, even if we had horrible technical difficulties or if an anchor read the prompter wrong or if a light blew out in the middle of the show. There was always something to be learned.

And, thusly, I title this entry that for there is something to be learned. Despite my hesitance to call this a “learning experience” (simply because I don’t like thinking of a person as that), this is basically what it boils down to.

Though I did cover the things I learned before, consider this a more macro view.

The beginning …

We start with why I ended up in Birmingham. For some reason, the idea came to me yesterday night that I needed to go here. I could have chosen any number of nearby areas, but I chose Birmingham simply because it was far, but not too far.

And I desperately felt the need to go to Mass. So, that’s what I did. I woke up this morning, knocked out all my chores for the day, and set off for the city that SHOULD be the state capital of Alabama. They had a pretty nice looking Catholic church here, so I went there for the daily Mass.

I’m converting to Catholicism from being a Baptist — the process started on Virginia, went to Ohio, came back to Virginia, and now I’m quite a ways into it here in Alabama. As you can imagine, Catholicism runs a distant second (or third or fourth) to being a Baptist in this state. It’s hard to find churches that offer a daily Mass, especially ones that work with my hectic schedule.

But this one did work. I had the day off and I went.

The Mass was fairly quick (about thirty minutes), but the homily was right on point. It spoke of the Advent and the three comings of Christ. The first, of course, being his birth. The second being his return at the resurrection. The third being constantly at our side.

It was in the third coming where the homily hit home for me. The priest spoke of how Christ is with us through all our trials, all our sufferings, and listed some examples. Among those listed, at the end of his examples, was the end of a relationship.

From that point on, the tingly feeling was in my head; it’s the feeling I get when something important is being learned. It happens when I go to Mass pretty often, but it hasn’t been happening of late — not since I got back to Alabama, really. But it happened at this Mass and the point was made that Christ is there beside us to help us through our sufferings, to get us through them, and that those sufferings will make us stronger.

The homily ended and, of course, next came Communion. I loathe and love Communion — loathe it for the fact that I must remain in my pew, unable to take it (for I’m not Catholic), and love it for what it represents and how those that go and get it do so with reverence.

After that, we ended the Mass and I sat in the pew for about ten minutes, trying to wrap my head around the beauty of the place and trying to decide where to go next. I eventually decided to head to Starbucks, but upon exiting from the church I was approached by an elderly gentlemen whom was a beggar — homeless, likely, dressed in old clothes and eyes tired.

He asked for enough money to buy food, pointed to a soul food joint across the street and asked me if I could buy him a meal there, that I didn’t have to give him any money at all. Of course, the cynical side of me said that he was probably just using me — hitting up church goers after Mass for money screamed “ploy” to that part of me.

But I couldn’t deny his need. He looked hungry. I reached into my wallet, pulled out a twenty dollar bill and handed it to him. Told him I trusted him to get food. He was genuinely thankful, shook my hand, and walked across the street to grab a hot meal on a cold day.

Normally, you wouldn’t find me doing that, especially since I’m trying to save up money to get back to a state where Catholicism isn’t in the minority (that state being Virginia). BUT, I had just finished up a lesson in my Catechism the day before about showing God’s love through acts of charity and other good works.

I don’t know if it was a test. I don’t know if it was a ploy or if I just gave that guy a hot meal and a bottle of booze (or some other drug). I don’t know for sure why he was waiting out there ten minutes after the Mass had ended (did others say no?). But I gave him the money. Did I hesitate? Oh, yeah, for about fifteen seconds I looked at him quizzically.

And then I took an action.

About twenty minutes later I entered Starbucks, found a seat, ordered myself a Pumpkin Spice Latte, sat down, and took out my Catechism.

Lesson 14 was about the second coming of Christ (tying back into the homily I heard earlier).

Coincidence? I don’t honestly believe that. I can’t believe in coincidence anymore, not after the last few weeks, certainly not after the last three and a half years. And after the events of today (and how they tie in with recent events), I certainly can’t claim coincidence.

Lesson 14 focused on the second coming of Christ at the end of the world. It was a pretty deep lesson, actually. It brought up the judgements (the general judgement at the end of world and the particular judgement upon one’s death — the differences being the general rules publicly whether you are headed to heaven or hell, while the particular tells you whether you are headed to heaven, purgatory, or hell) and then dove into the reason we suffer.

The reasons we have trials and crosses to bear, which is to purify our love of the Lord, to grow it, and allow us to enter heaven with perfect love for our God.

Bringing me back to my least favorite (or most favorite, depending on the day) phrase: Everything has a reason.

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t understand why Abbey was brought into my life. I have theories (to teach me how to not be a complete noob with a young lady?) but nothing concrete. I don’t know if I can call it a trial or a cross to bear; at least, not the week of bliss I had with her.

That week was a joy and, even after being bumped down to “work friend” status, I still can’t be bitter. I’m not bitter — I’m not even angry, really. Not at her, not at her reasons, for the reasons make sense to me even if I wish they didn’t. Am I disappointed? Yes and no. I don’t feel like I failed at something. Despite how poor I was at my brief romance (honestly, what guy needs to be told where to put his hands?) I don’t feel like it was a contributing factor to the end of it.

Ultimately, she ended it and the only feeling I have for that is sadness. The sadness — the regret at what apparently isn’t going to be — is my suffering, my trial, my cross to bear I think. This point was driven home in one of the discussion questions at the end of the lesson.

Q: If a boy or girl omit many easy opportunities to go to Communion, is he or she ready to go straight to heaven upon death?

And my answer flew from my fingertips before I even really had time to think about it. Once I read it back, I could only shake my head.

A: No; only by accepting the opportunities presented to us, trusting in God’s plan, can we please God, and make our way straight to heaven upon death.

I bold those two phrases above because those are two things I fail at often in my daily life. They may be the things I fail at most often in my daily life. I have a bad tendency to over-analyze and over-think things. Often, I’m presented with opportunities and I circle around them, over and over again, trying to make sure they’re something I can do or want to do.

As one would expect, by the time I figure out whether those opportunities are something I want, they’re usually gone.

Trusting in God’s plan is another difficulty I have, simply because I’m a bit of a control freak.

Both these points were brought up in my late night conversation with my best friend Saturday night. Both those points had been brought up before by her and by others. Both those points are probably among the most talked about points in relation to myself and “the grand scheme of things.”

I find it hard to trust in God’s plan because I don’t know it and that bugs me. It bugs me because it seems completely contradictory to things I see and hear and feel. It bugs me, especially now, because I don’t understand why I was granted the opportunity to enjoy Abbey’s company for just a week.

There were so many little moments and things in that week. I recited the “Never gonna give you up” part of the Rick Roll song to her (because I had been Rick-Rolled earlier in the day on Facebook) while we were holding one another in the parking lot, swaying to the wind. Poor taste? Maybe. But she laughed.

The physical component of the relationship is the most confusing thing of all to me, really. Even now, over two weeks after it has come to an end, do I still have feelings and eyes only for her. I think it’s a biological leftover from the physical contact (otherwise known as hand-holding and kissing in this case).

I don’t know. Certainly there are, objectively, prettier girls. Certainly plenty of them around me on a daily basis (Target attracts them in hordes for some reason). And not a one of them catches my eye like she does.

Why that? Why her? Why us for a week? Why did it even happen at all?

I simply don’t know but, damned by my own answer, I must trust in God’s plan. I accepted an opportunity presented to me when I asked her out for lunch. That opportunity evolved into something more for a brief time period before it became … this. Whatever this is.

It seems that whatever effect I could have on her will be minimized now since I’m just a “work friend.”

But, if I need to look to anything for an answer, I simply only have to look at my Catechism. Lesson 12 covered the four marks of the true church.

Those would be that it is one, holy, apostolic, and catholic (otherwise known as universal) church. The marks are where my answer lie, I think. In any relationship with Abbey, our differing beliefs and ideals would be tested. But in no way would I be able to profess that the Catholic Church is one, holy, apostolic, and catholic. That would make the Catholic Church the only true church in existence, a belief which I have come to. If I were deep in a relationship with her and still professing that, I would be indirectly condemning her.

There would be no way she would ever attend Mass with me (as that phrase is prominent in every Mass) and there could be no way I could attend Temple with her. We would both be violating our beliefs and our faith, and we’d both hate ourselves for it.

To her credit, she realized this far sooner than I did. I would expect she has a better understanding of the Catholic faith than I do (she has studied it significantly due to the degree she’s going for and her own historical interests). More than anything, it reflects poorly on me that a Mormon girl has a better understanding of my own faith than I do, but I’m converting, so I’ll give myself a pass … for now.

The phrase “One, holy, apostolic, and catholic church” never added up before to the understanding expressed above. They were things said during Mass, things that I was aware of in a sense, but I didn’t realize they were part of a one whole thing; I thought they were four separate things in a list.

(As a complete aside, Catholicism kills me as far as grammar is concerned. There are certain things that are capitalized and things that aren’t, lists that aren’t lists but an entire phrase … the Catholic faith — and possibly all religions — seem to disregard the rules of grammar and, for a writer, that’s a bit of an annoyance. I’ve been trained to write in one way and now I have to write in another, at least as far as this subject is concerned.)

I think I’ve arrived at a better understanding of it all now. Today, I ended up in Birmingham. I went to Mass, gave a beggar money for food, and now I sit in a Starbucks, where the people around me are my age (unlike Mass where there were only three others around my age), where most of them are students (Birmingham has many college campuses) studying for finals, and I’m studying the Catechism.

For the first time in a while, I don’t feel like a poser around the students my age. I’m not here creatively writing, I’m not here sipping on coffee and jotting down theories on life.

I’m here studying a subject just as relevant as anything else in this place.

I don’t have all the answers. I can’t claim I ever will. I still don’t know for sure the answers to any of the questions posed here or posed before. I still believe a good thing is being left to wither between Abbey and myself. I still believe it’s wrong that we aren’t pursuing it, even with the understanding that it would likely end poorly anyway between us because of our differing faiths and beliefs.

That said, Abbey did teach me many things and she did burn one particular bible verse in my mind. It was the verse she used to explain why she broke it off.

1 Corinthians 14:33

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.

It is that verse that she cited as the reason why she broke it off; it made her feel confused, our relationship, even though we got along so well. I pointed out that maybe it wasn’t me that was the source of the confusion and she noted that point, but she still said she felt better about having made a decision to end it.

I don’t necessarily know if I’ve arrived at a peace. Her ending it has confused me, that’s certain, but I’m not as confused now as I was. I’m being led to a peace, more than likely, and the process will take time.

In time, all this will look either really stupid (likely), really dramatic (as likely), really smart (less likely) or fall somewhere in between (probably the right answer).

I have many, many questions and thoughts (which I will expand upon further, no doubt). But, I must hold to my own words and trust in God’s plan.

It is with that thought that I end this entry. As always, any and all comments are welcome. Thank you for your time.