Review of Watership Down by Richard Adams

Adams has an almost scientific attention to the details of rabbit life and nature. He mentions more animal and plant species than Darwin did in “Origin…” and brings you right into the passing days and nights on the downs of England. I was continually fascinated by Adams’ anthropomorphism and fictional adventure that never betrayed his careful understanding of actual rabbit behavior.
I was driven by a continual ‘OK, where are we going with this?’ feeling spurred by the subtle mystery of Hazel’s ‘reluctant hero’ personality and budding leadership. But if you’ve started the book and get bored, press on! Part 2 is where things really pick up. By the end of the book I felt like Hazel, Bigwig, Fiver, Pipkin, etc. were all old friends. I’m also impressed by the Lapine language and when and how the rabbits use it. Great read if you’r in one of those ‘take me away to another world’ moods.

 

Identity as Armor

I hate when certain words or concepts become buzzwords because it dulls their true meaning. Identity is such a word. My church (CVVC) has used it as a youth camp title and a youth sermon series title (twice I think) and I hear it all the time in talks, podcasts, sermons and see it in books. There’s a reason, though, why Christians place emphasis on this concept. Its because as believers we are aware of the dichotomy of self-identity versus identity found in Christ. Solutions to life problems are widely divergent at the junction of this choice, so It is absolutely vital to choose the right identity.

Struggles with Self-Confidence

I have pondered to death why God had Shelly & and I wait until our mid 30’s to meet each other. We have both come to the conclusion that, because of our specific personal short-comings, that we both needed a lot of work. If Shelly had met the self-doubting, timid Josh of my teens and 20’s, she would have likely distanced herself from me the way many of my girlfriends in those days did. Why? Because low self-confidence is ironically an over emphasis on self. I was caught in a perpetuating cycle thinking ‘girls don’t like me’ leading to low self-esteem which caused the females to lose interest which caused me to think…well, you get the picture. God did a lot of work on me in that area and though I’m not perfect now, I believe I have been much more prepared in the last few years for marriage which is an ultimate practice in focusing on another person.  (Here is a  blog I wrote years ago about when it dawned on me that serving others helped eliminate depression: The Inherent Problem with MySpace – its really old, so just replace MySpace with Facebook haha)

That was my struggle with confidence, but I have seen that struggle manifest itself many other behaviors. A good friend of mine this last decade always over compensated trying to loudly assert his manliness wherever possible resulting in an ugly display of arrogance. In other people low self-esteem leads to an ‘I’ll take anything I can get mentality’ with the opposite sex. I see this one a ton when usually good girls end up with bad guys or abusive men.

Identity in Christ

The phrase Identity in Christ has also become so common I know I have become numb to it.  Yet, when I stop and really think about what that means, I start to understand how it applies to our outlook on life. There are a multitude of life-things that are fixed by a right understanding of this, but I’m focusing on the confidence issue. Very concisely, if we choose the worldly fix it goes like this ‘OK, I have low self-esteem, so to fix this I need more self-esteem’. Without realizing it we only compound the problem by focusing more on self and repeating some silly mantra like “I am good enough! I am worthy, I am important, I am special’ or whatever. If we choose to place our identity in Christ it goes something like ‘I am a wretched sinner, that’s why everything is coming down all around me. But Christ came to redeem and make me whole and He will be faithful to complete it in me. If I follow His Holy Spirit then I am on a path to restoration’. See? We’re not standing on our own crumbly foundation but upon the immovable rock of Christ. When Satan launches an attack on my self-esteem he’s successful, but he can launch all he wants at Christ and it just bounces off.

The cool thing about placing identity in Christ and thus taking our eyes off ourselves and all of our own short-comings, is that it takes off a ton of performance pressure! As long as we’re being real, we don’t care anymore if we’re nerdy or wimpy or stupid. We start to not take ourselves so seriously and we lighten up which makes us more fun to be around. Its easier to admit when I don’t know something or to laugh with everyone when you walk into a group with your zipper down (literally or figuratively) instead of shutting down in embarrassment.

Let’s Fight!

I don’t know about you, but when I think about God knitting my soul together, then Christ loving me so much He was nailed to the cross and now that He patiently bears with me in my redemption- it make me want to hold my self to a higher standard. I don’t want to refrain from smoking simply ‘cuz its bad’ but because I am this lump of clay that God’s moulding for His uses. I know most of us have heard that ‘we’re a temple of the Holy Ghost’, but when I start to really see that, man, I don’t want any filth near me! I respect myself because I’m God’s child and I don’t want to fill this body with junk food, porn, drugs, unequally yoke myself to someone or really defile this temple in anyway.

(Here is a blog I wrote years ago about our dirtiness next to a Holy God: Fear in His Presence)

I Wanna Tell You (refurbished blog from MySpace 10-4-07)

Here’s a song I wrote for a sinking ship but even though that ship rests at the bottom of the sea, the song is applicable to all like situations because it is written about my reticent tendancy in almost every promising situation.

I Wanna Tell You

by Josh Anderson ©2007

capo the 4th fret, finger pick (acoustic or no distortion)

verse 1

G, walk down to E

I wanna tell you – how you look tonight

Like a flower – bursting into bloom

But when you’re standing – right there

Words, they just seem to – run away

verse2

G, walk down to E

I wanna tell you how you – make me feel

Like a sunset after – a long hard day

But when we’re standin’ – face to face

Somethin’ like a glacier – freezes over my brain

Chorus

E, A, C

But I know, we can make it – if you want to

And I know, we can work this – if you wait

And I can, show you your worth – if we try

verse3

G, walk down to E

There’s a treasure hidden – behind your eyes

I have the map to – search it out

If you give me – one more try

(That last verse is a little rough, I’m still working on it)

The Inherent Problem with MySpace (refurbished blog from MySpace 3-22-07)

Chapter 1: The Disgusting Reflection

I leaned forward and sank my head into my pillow trying sleep from a sitting position. I didn’t know the guy to my right or the couple behind me. I watched out the window into the dark as the desert sped by. There was a devil in the Mohave and he was anxious to fight what was stirred in my mind by the previous week’s events. He got me thinking, he asked me questions, told me things and I got mixed up in the conversation as to whether it was him or me. You don’t fit in here. You’re not being yourself. The guy directly in front of me was probably 7 years younger than me, but out of all the “adults” around me, I felt closest to his age. I still can’t fathom being in my late 20’s. Nothing is changing, not thing. You don’t have what it takes to change things for yourself. You’re a lot older than all your friends and it’s more obvious to them than you think. You’re not as “in” as you think. You should find people your age to hang out with – holding on to these friends is immature. I wrestled with the Mohave devil and he held me down. I tried to reason that some things went well but he had a rebuttal for everything I said. Later when I saw the pictures – I didn’t recognize myself at first. Am I really that guy? I don’t feel like I look. I’ve gotten fatter, haven’t I? I have this hideous slouch. My egghead has never been so boastful. When I looked in the mirror I wanted the mirror to close it’s eyes quietly and never wake up again. “I am so ready for change,” I said 6 years ago, and then 5 years ago….but I really meant it 4 years ago when I broke down once and for all. A second later I was saying it for real 3 years ago. You become numb to your ultimatum of self. The only release is to pretend like nothing is happening. Think of something else…..

Chapter 2: Rebecca’s Revolution

I knew in my head I needed to this, but it I knew it in my heart when Rebecca sent me a drawing in the mail. This girl was real, no longer a poster child. I was shaken to the core. A couple of my close friends were involved in Young Life and they were sacrificing huge amounts of time to make a difference in kid’s lives. I took note and admired the work they put in. A couple other friends left familiar territory and went far, far away because God told them to. And I asked myself, are you afraid? And God asked me what is most important in life? Money started to lose value as it came in like never before in my life. You have to find out for yourself what a new drum set, a new laptop, paintball gun, snowboarding gear and a longboard can’t do for you. Bono, using his celebrity as cash, chose to spend it in the most noble way. This friend of mine went to Boise Bible college, these other friends went to Bible college in California and God asked me how old were you when you gave your life to me? Chepto, can I help you? I’ll do what I can. Some friends of mine are working on Campus to diciple college students. I’m realizing a Revolution in World Ministries. I tried to make Hernando’s slide work better. I couldn’t believe he was playing about 30 yards from a landfill…and worst of all he had no parents…. Then I realized it….the Mohave devil was powerless against me when I was playing with Hernando, when I was sending Rebecca a drawing back.

Chapter 3: MySpace’s Fatal Flaw

How did this stupid online profile thing sweep the country and even the world? I’ll tell you what it offers, it gives you a chance to display things about yourself people wouldn’t normally know or see. Suddenly you can advertise yourself by picking all the photos you look hot in. You can convey exactly what you feel in a blog and it’s available 24/7 for anyone to read. You can see “what’s up” with all your friends. Gossip leaves a “paper” trail accessible any time of day. You get comments to you and about you and even more juicy is a message for your eyes only. The addicting part of MySpace comes when you open your account and you have New Comments, New Messages and New Picture Comments. They all have the potential to be little self-esteem boosters. You feel like your losing it when the comments run dry, though. When your only friend requests start to be fake profiles built by some stupid porn company you start to feel this artificial let down. The inherent problem with MySpace is that it’s all about me, me, me. As long as your eyes are on yourself, you will be more and more let down…. to be continued…?

Calm, Cool, Collected, He Stands Confident (refurbished blog from MySpace 9-17-06)

Every time I read about Jesus and really think about it (there are so many times when I just let the words of the Bible go in one ear and out the other) but when I really stop and think about this dude Jesus and how he was and what he did I’m left sitting there thinking-dang this guy is so freaking cool. You watch so many movies and when the hero confronts the bad guy you get this feeling like ‘ha-that bad guy is in for it, he’s messin’ with our hero’ because you know your hero is like the best martial artist, or he’s The One, or he’s really stinkin’ tough, or he a genius and the bad guy is gonna get whupped. But then Jesus, man he always surprises you because he’s so laid back but then he lays down a few words that drop like an H-Bomb. Like that one night when Jesus was cruisin’ in the boat with the disciples and they were going straight into a really bad storm over to an island where everybody thought the devil was lurking around. The disciples were panicking and FREAKED out and Jesus was back there takin’ a nap!! He was so chill, he was sleeping!! And so they woke him like “JESUS! WAKE UP! I THINK WE’RE GOING TO DIE!!” So Jesus sits up, rubs his eyes, yawns and says “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Then as if that wasn’t enough for one night, the disciples worst fears about that island came true when a possessed guy came toward them. He had all these chains on him that broke and he was all bloody from cutting himself and he was probably drooling and he was yelling all psycho-like. Things are getting all freaky and then the dude falls to his knees!! Any other person he could easily have ripped them apart with his bare hands! But Jesus….this is the Son of the Most High God and that legion of demons in this guy KNOW that!! That’s POWERFUL!! That gives me shivers down my spine!! Then Jesus cast them into a herd of pigs and the guy is seen by everyone dressed and in his right mind after that. Maybe you think this is a fable, a cool story in a book of myths. But I believe this to be a true account of actual events in the region of the Gerasenes about 2000 years ago. Just because it happened so long ago doesn’t mean it shouldn’t rock your world to hear that today. This guy Jesus is fricken’ awesome!!

DeAdwoRLD (refurbished blog from MySpace 3-1-07)

Current mood:  cold
Category: Blogging

Do you ever have days when you feel like nothing means anything? Like Solomon said “Everything is meaningless”. I feel at times like my friendships are fragile and one group of people I’m hanging out with today will be bored and leave the next day. A lack of response to postings >>deAd<< I feel like everything I do is in vain. At one time I thought the Vox was an awesome creative outline and now I feel like it’s just a piece of trash for people to prop up the short leg on their table. I feel like I’m running all the time to make sure I’m taking in as well as giving out but in the mean time I’m neglecting my talent. I know I’m not putting enough faith in God and I feel too tired to give more. Encouragement acts as a billows on a fire, giving new strength, but not long after its blow the fire comes down again. If only encouragement came more often.

Last night at The Door, Paul talked about the marriage relationship. He said man is not complete without woman; indeed the Bible says it is not good for man to be a alone (Gen. 2), and that she is his helper, councilor, comforter, etc. So then what is a single guy left with? If it is God’s plan for me to be alone, I havn’t a peace about it. Anyway-that’s a tangent. I have had encouragement, but it just doesn’t seem to last. I’m talking more specifically with my comic strip. The realist has to think the lack of encouragement is a natural sign that it just isn’t working. It’s not funny. (I could agree with that) So what now? After hours, days and weeks spent sketching ideas, penciling to Bristol, inking and finishing up, scanning and posting – did I simply go too far down the wrong fork in the road? I once had a mission – I was going to learn how to do it right – I was going to get syndicated. So what happened? Well – discouragement….should I keep sending these strips off when I don’t even feel like they’re funny myself.

It’s cold again. Maybe it’s the cold, maybe there’s no grease in my gears. I have a drive to create. I want to make songs, I want to play my drums, play my guitar. I want to make movies, animations. There is so much crap rollicking in my head in a temultuous storm. I want to write. There is no time and what’s worse, there is no audience. (Not completely-there has from time to time a person to flip through my sketch book and say –This is cool, you should be a children’s book illustrator! And I’d love to…)

In giving a couple of friends a ride home last night I discovered an expectation in my mind….something like – what’s in it for me? Maybe this will be an opportunity for them to know me better and introduce me to a girl my age…maybe they will like me more and need my friendship….What? Why can’t I just give them a ride because they need it? Hmm, maybe it’s just knowing after I drop them off, I’m driving home and nothing is going to happen [tonight]. Today is a dead end – no possibility for opportunity. I’m tired of the “glass wall” I talked about in a blog last summer. I’m tired the same old “same old” yet I have a death grip on it. I don’t want to leave my friends and so I hang around wearing out my welcome until they leave me. I’m tired of ordering a beer just to hold my seat so I can be social. I like coffee at obscure diners. I like telling and hearing stories. I hate when the bar/restaurant turns up the music so loud you have to yell to the person 2 feet away.

Why, even after knowing God wants an intimate relationship, do I still forget Him? And slap in Him in the face with my doubt and unbelief? Tonight I hope more than 3 people show up. But then again, if no one shows up I won’t have to do it-this thing I have taken on. It’s already brought stress on me – commitment. I  have never really been a leader…people seem to be perfectly happy not following me – so what do I expect taking this leadership position? Well, I hope humbly I can facilitate the Gospel. OK, this was a HUGE rambling and I should be working….

Currently Listening : Pure Moods By Jean Michele Jarr

 

The More You Do It, The More You Do It

I’ve been an aspiring cartoonist my whole life but I am always struggling with making the time for my craft, especially to push it to the next step: getting published. Sometimes I push some daily business aside and actually sit down to draw. I’ve noticed though, when I’ve been away from it for a while, that funny ideas are illusive and when I do dig something up, it feels very contrived.

However, I have observed the phenomenon of ideas flowing in times when I have been drenched in the Comics! I notice my brain starting to think in punchlines! Suddenly every situation I’m in through the day is a gag comic!

OK, so maybe its still not hilarious…but at least the ideas make sense!

I’ve started to see this principle work in other areas of life too. When I’m reading the Bible daily, I’m thinking about the Lord more often. When I’m forcing myself to work out it starts to get just a little bit more easy to make it a part of my routine. This isn’t a magic formula and can be pretty subtle but works even better when you recognize it happening. When you start to build a history in a good habit, the history itself helps to perpetuate the habit.

The Dark Side of the Principle

The unfortunate thing is, this principle works for our bad habits too. Several periods of time in my life I have stepped into the snare of pornography. This vice, more than any other I have been faced with in life, is the stickiest. They say about meth “Not even once” and the same should be said of porn. Without a strong desire to get away from it and lots of accountability, a guy can very quickly become addicted (especially in this day of easy access via high-speed internet and smart phones). Once he’s been looking at it a couple of days, the principle of the more you do it, the more you do it, starts to set in. He starts viewing women more and more as objects and equating them with what he sees in porn (of course, the actresses in the videos are not objects either, but that’s another issue). Its starts off by dumping jet-fuel into an already weak area of a guy’s life and then begins shaping his thinking until it is all-consuming.

Let’s Fight!

So, guys struggling with this affliction, here’s one of many ideas to help us out of the snare. Let’s fill our time with positive things and then let those be the things that consume our minds! Remember when grandma used to say “Idle hands are the devil’s playground”? Well, idle minds are too. Here are some practical ideas/innocent things to pour our time into:

  1. Spend time in the Word if you haven’t been. Increase your study of the word and/or your prayer time.
  2. Start, or get back into a hobby. What do you love doing? Shooting? Woodworking? Working on the car? Painting? Reading? Guitar?
  3. Exercise/Physical activity. Start running or riding a bike or swimming or lifting. I hear over and over about the endorphines released by physical activity.  Beside all the physical benefits of exercise, we can begin re-wiring the reward system in our brains.
  4. Serve. Another principle I stumbled on years ago was that whenever I am investing in someone else, I start to forget my own sorrows/depression/worries etc. Maybe this is something small like helping a neighbor or bigger like serving at a homeless shelter or huge like starting a non-profit or becoming a full-time missionary.
  5. Invest in your family. I’m quickly finding out that, to be a good father and husband, it takes almost all of my time. When it doesn’t, there is always more I can do. I can dream up ways to wow and romance my wife or just play with my 10 month old and take him off her hands. If you don’t have a wife & kids, you probably have siblings or parents or nieces or nephews, right?

There are probably scores of other things we can do and maybe I will come back and add to this list. But the point is, involve your brain, your time, your hands in something positive to starve those negative things of your brain, time, hands etc.

 

For more info on the damaging effects of porn check out Fight the New Drug

 

Adam’s Soul Leads Us On

You have to muster up something to look over into the coffin where a dear old friend’s body lies. Yesterday after I shared a few highlights about my friend Adam Allen and I already cried in front of hundred or so people I’ve never met, then, then I could look. It was only the second time in my life I’ve seen a dead body (the first time was my grand-dad’s). The same feeling I remember after seeing my grand-dad filled me. It was this indescribable and indisputable knowledge that Adam was not there. The best way to convey the feeling is that it sharply contrasts the feeling of seeing a sleeping friend.

Right after the funeral I was busy catching up with friends I haven’t seen in 20 years, getting lunch and driving 3 hours back home. Finally though, just before bed, I started to process the day, the people, the service and lifeless wax sculpture I am told was Adam’s body. Why did that not feel like Adam? I wondered. Well, let’s think about this. None of what makes Adam, Adam, was in the building yesterday. All of us who shared memories, we brought more of a semblance of Adam to the room then did his body in the casket. And those snapshots, those were the things that made my eyes well up. Someone mentioned his sneezes that came like cracks of thunder and would make your skeleton jump out of your skin. Another mentioned his bone crushing hugs, or the way his shoulders bounced up and down when laughed so hard he couldn’t breath (as he often did).

You see, the more you knew Adam, the more you will understand that he wasn’t that room yesterday. A lot of times people muster up good things to say at a funeral: a very general “He was a loving father, brother, son, friend” or whatever. But Adam was someone that was easy to come up with good genuine memories and great things to share. I was thinking just a week or two ago, after seeing a funny Facebook post he made, how much I missed him and how he was truly one of the wisest, deep thinking, listening and loving friends I have ever had.

I want you know all of these things about Adam, because I believe God engineered that unique personality of his for a reason and the more people he influences (even posthumously) the better. I first met this chubby little friend because alphabetically his last name seated him next to me in 5th grade Home Room.

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Mrs. Birdsall’s Home Room, 5th grade. 1990/1991. Me in the Mickey Mouse shirt and Adam Allen on the right.

He was in several classes with me and it seems like it was in Mrs. Firestone’s music class where he shared with me his invention of an edible food glue. Right away I knew he wanted to be a chef someday. He loved my cartoon character, a little lizard named Duke and had me draw him all the time.

Im 8th grade Adam dressed as a chef (or maybe he was the Pillsbury Doughboy, I can’t remember)

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Halloween in 8th grade, 1993. 

Adam moved back to Utah after 8th grade but came back to Craig in high school. I shared at the funeral that I’m not sure how he and I became such great friends, because almost every one of his friends from high school and on were heavy into games like Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering and such and I am not into those at all. He as also part of the LDS Church which I was not. Maybe it was because I was a little bit into Sci-Fi and he enjoyed that too. I can’t remember what grade it was in when we watched the movie version of Fahrenheit 451 and after seeing the main character’s unique, forearm-grasping handshake, he and I greeted each as such for years afterward.

Our friendship became strongest when he joined my church youth group at Calvary Baptist Church. He grew up a Mormon and died one, but there was a section of his life when he was questioning all he believed (another personality trait of those with strong minds). He was quickly assimilated into our group of friends because he was such a caring and jolly person.

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Though we worked at Pizza Hut together I didn’t see him there much as he was a cook and I was a delivery driver. (1997?)

There were many adventures in the Calvary Baptist youth group and times when Adam, Nick Augustine and I hung out together. A couple of situations were so powerful, though, that they still come to mind often. One, which in way helped me discover part of my identity, was when Adam and I (and sometimes a few other friends) would meet up for coffee at the Craig Village Inn late at night. Our conversation would go into deep places as I hadn’t experienced with any one before. I realized then how much I like to think deeply about things (usually theological stuff). The other situation was right after Adam had to break up with his girlfriend Sara.

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Me, Adam and Sara in a photo booth in Centennial Mall. (1997?)

Adam needed to get it off his chest and so he pulled me aside in one of our church’s empty classrooms. He told me they had to break up and then, the tears started to flow. I think he was falling in love with her. I had never seen him cry. I put out my arms and he crashed his head into my shoulder with shudders. Not many guy friends (especially at that age) are that vulnerable and it told me that Adam trusted me probably more than anyone at that time. That vulnerability also showed when he told friends he sincerely loved them.

Adam’s desire to be a chef earned him the nickname Chef Curly and led him to pursue Culinary Arts in college at Mesa State in Grand Junction. I had already been there a a while getting my degree in Graphic Design and I was involved in a campus ministry called Master Plan Ministries. It was another large group of close friends that found it easy to accept Adam in.

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I think this was the fall of 2000 retreat at Cascade Lodge with Master Plan Ministries. 

 

Brian Tom and Adam play chess
Of course deep thinkers like chess. Bryan Kinser and Tom enjoying chess with Adam. 

I can’t remember where he went after Mesa State, but at some point he earned another degree at the Community College in Craig.

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Adam getting another degree in 2005. (My mom, right behind him, got her Accounting degree that year)

Years and distance separate all of these good friends like leaves in a river. You can’t keep up with every one you’ve ever known and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. You have those who are in your life now to turn your attention to. Sometime you’re lucky enough to both be in Craig again at the same time and this happened one last time for us about 4 or 5 years ago over Christmas. We met up for coffee at the Starbucks in Craig’s Safeway. We were both in our mid 30’s and still unmarried and we were commiserating about it. He listened to me go on and on about how I had chances with all of these hot girls and how I was disappointed over and over again with their character. He said “Josh, we have to learn to love those who are good for us.” He was dropping wise words on me all the time like this. But that one really stuck with me, especially over the next few years when I was in for more of the same. His words echoed in my mind until finally I began to change the priorities in my mate-search criteria. I truly believe it was his words that helped me find my wife. Thanks, old friend.

Unfortunately in the years since I last saw him, our friendship was nothing more than “Liking” a silly post he made on Facebook here and there. To his credit, he never missed a Christmas, Easter, Halloween or Thanksgiving to shoot a text wishing a happy one.

In the last couple of years Facebook has been full of political and ideological vitriol. I have kept following several friends with sharply oppositional views because 1) They’re old friends and 2) I believe its healthy. Through this I have a clear window into a world of people who do not believe in God and therefore buck at any morality that comes from specifically a Christian world view. Sometimes it seems this Godless world has completely lost its mind. Several weeks ago I was thinking to myself, you know who would have a level head about these things? Adam Allen. And I thought it would be really fun to meet up at a Village Inn and hear his thought on this issue. When you miss a friend, it really stings to know you won’t, you can’t see them again. I saw a post from a co-worker at Pizza Hut saying that he had passed away and my first reaction was Wait what? Nooooooooooo!

I know this was long….and more of time line than a picture of who he was. I want to give a picture, but its made up in so many millions of nuances, how do I? Like how he always said “Cool beans”, or he called me and my brother “Squashy Mess” (our names are Josh & Wes). Those nuances, those were the things missing from the room yesterday.

As I thought about all this last night, that was when I think God showed me the importance of our souls, the deep down part that is really us, our spirit. It’s why the Naturalist, the Atheist, the Evolutionary  argument doesn’t work for me. If Adam was simply one of billions of highly evolved organisms, a meat computer who’s hard drive has finally failed…then where did Adam go? Sure, the body he occupied for 37 years was laying there right before my eyes, simply not functioning anymore. But where’s Chef Curly saying “Cool Beans” and talking about a food glue he invented?

 

Valentine’s Day Tragedy (Refurbished MySpace Blog from March 31, 2008)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Valentine’s Day Tragedy

Current mood: shocked

Hey friends. Thank you SO much-all of you who called, texted, drove, prayed, etc. I wish I could speak to each of you personally, but since I can’t, please read:

I’m having a hard time remembering who I’ve told what and so heres a blog you can read and get the latest info. I’ve broken it up into headings, so if you’re not interested in the whole story you can skip down.

My First Valentine’s Day

I don’t want want to go into why I’m 29 and this was the first Valentine’s Day of my life when I have had a “significant other”, I just mention that so you will know that the night had a lot of meaning for me. I have been dating Albina Gadeliya for just over a month now and had a plan for Valentine’s Day- I was going to take her to River’s, a fancy restaurant in Glenwood Springs.

I had a very short time after work to rush home and get dressed and pick up the gifts I had for her. Outside the snow trickled down sparsely as Adagio for Strings (In 2004, Barber’s masterpiece was voted the “saddest classical” work ever by listeners of the BBC’s Today programme) played on the classical radio station (this was sort of the eerie soundtrack of the night for me-click play at the bottom of this blog). I got to her condo at about 6:30 and gave her the card I made her with a dozen roses and teddy bear wearing earrings (That would give us 2 hours to get to Rivers where I had an 8:30 reservation) She was rushing to get ready as well and gave me the card she made with a teddy bear and chocolates. She reached into her laundry closet to get something and leaned up against the water heater giving her a pretty bad burn on her right shoulder (2nd degree burn). She grabbed a bag of ice and we rushed out the door.

As we left town in my 95 Honda Passport, I didn’t tell her where we were going. We got on I 70 and she watched the exits for Horizon Drive, Clifton and Palisade pass and her curiosity rose. I noticed the thick clouds hanging among the Bookcliffs creating a surrealistic atmosphere and defining some of the closer spires like some gigantic otherworldy castle.We listened to Yo Yo Ma and then Miles Davis as we winded through DeBeque Canyon.

Something’s Not Right

She mentioned her ice was melting as we neared Rifle. We came upon a slow moving minivan covered in mud I and got into the left lane to pass it. I saw the van start veer into my lane several times and I just wanted to get by it. We passed it & had just passed the first Rifle exit when Albina said she really needed to do something about her ice. She asked if I could just pull over and she could scoop some snow into her bag.

The Accident

I pulled over on the shoulder and remember vividly thinking that I should pull over as far as possible since we were on the interstate. She unbuckled, turned around in her seat and put on her jacket and BAM! We were rear-ended by a vehicle moving between 65 and 75 miles per hour.

I think I saw Albina collapse into the floor board facing the seat. She passed out onto the seat amid chunks of broken bloody glass. My blood went cold and she breathed heavily-a kind of snore that meant her airway way in someway constricted. Thoughts ran through my head about what to do and not to in an accident/when people lose consciousness/ etc. I froze-I didn’t know what to do. I reached into my pocket, grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911. I don’t know why, but I set the phone down on the back seat-I think it was because I was more concerned with her.

I whispered to her, not knowing if I supposed to wake her up or not. After what seemed like eons, she woke up and that’s when I noticed her arm bent in the wrong place. She looked bewildered and looked at me for answers crying. She looked down at her arm as if to wonder why it wouldn’t moved and then back at me. A million thoughts went through my head-should I push her up off that arm? Should I just talk to her? What can I do? I reached over gently stroked her hair and told her everything would be OK.

I saw people start to surround my vehicle and that’s when I realized I had 911 on the line. I picked the phone up and tried to talk to them but firemen started to force open the doors. They were asking her questions, asking me questions and one guy I think was an off duty fireman who was the first to my car and I think that’s when 911 realized their people were there and I said bye. (Sometime about then I pulled my keys out of the ignition…I don’t know why…I think I thought if the engine was running still that might be dangerous)

They had a hard time trying to get my door open so they opened the back door. When I looked back, I think that is when I fully realized the back seat was at a 45 degree angle. They finally got my door open and saw the gash in the back of my head. It was the only pain I felt. One of the firemen put a rag on my head and helped me out of my Honda.

I saw the van that hit us about 40 yards in front of us and facing us. The front just a mess of crushed metal. As they walked me to the ambulance I saw the other guy being laid on a stretcher and heard Albina’s screams from my car. I saw my Honda in the ditch, headlights still on.

A fireman put a bandage around my head and I sat on the bench in the back of the ambulance praying that God would ease her pain. The back doors were wide open letting in the cold air with her screams and allowing me to see the traffic diverted around us. It seemed like I waited there for a week before they finally came in and put a neck brace on me and had me sit in the upright seat. I was hoping for them to put Albina in my ambulance, but instead they wheeled in the guy that hit me.

Quite frankly I was pissed off at the guy and didn’t want him near me. They had to cut his clothes off and he protested them cutting his coat up which pissed off the firemen. They scolded him and they asked him questions. I think I heard one of them say that he was not drinking and was not on any drugs.

Immediate Aftermath

They wheeled the guy out and that was the last I saw of him. They decided to put me on a stretcher and stabilize my neck to get me out. They wheeled Albina and I into adjacent rooms and I heard her still screaming. They cut my pants, shirt and tie off. They checked me out but then it seems like I laid there in that bed in that stiff neck brace staring at the ceiling for hours. I could see a clock and watched the hours go by. I wondered what they were doing to her and if there was anything wrong beside her arm.

It’s hard to remember when all this happened, but they got info from me and called my mom & dad & Canyon Vineyard Church (Where I work). Periodically a Police officer came in and told me some stuff.

At one point they rolled me on my side and I got nauseous and just about threw up-but it passed quickly. I heard them take Albina in for a CAT Scan and when they were done they ran one on me. Right before they took Albina out, they wheeled her next to me and let her say bye.

They wheeled me back into my room and after a while they came in stitched up my wound and put in 10 staples (I didn’t feel it at all). Finally I was done and by that time Nate & Maegan came to pick me up.

12-my-staples

The Drive Home

On the way home my mind kept playing through everything. Periodically I would have flashes of memories that seemed so real but just when I tried to concentrate on them they would vanish & make way for another one. At one point they flashed through my head in such a fast dream-like manner that I got nauseous and almost had to have Nate pull over. The drive seemed to take forever, especially with these weird thoughts rolling through my head. It made everything seem almost dreamlike. I remember we looked up to the clouds rolling off the foothills of Mt. Garfield and they seemed to take on a sinister-otherworldly look.

Finally we arrived at my house where SteveO & Daniel were waiting. I changed my clothes quickly (and found glass in my underwear!) and then then they took me to St. Mary’s.

At St. Mary’s

As we came in, Wes, Rebecca, Jared & Katie were there to greet us. (I think sometime around there was when I felt something in my mouth and realized it was a piece of glass) I was able to go immediately to where Albina was. I held her hand as they put 6 staples in the back right side of her head. After that, Anna Mazon came in and wheeled her to her room.

In her room, Wes, Rebecca, Jared, Katie, Nate, Maegan, Daniel & SteveO showed up and we all joined hands and prayed for her. After that everyone filed out of her room and I knelt down to say good night to her.

Just as I began to speak, the power of the entire city went out. The lights clicked off and all the hallway doors shut themselves. I was slightly scared at what this could do, not only to Albina, but all the patients. Then I remembered they ALWAYS have back up generators at hospitals. About 4 or 5 minutes later the power came back on. I said good night to Albina.

Home

SteveO & Daniel gave me a ride home. There was a strange fog thick around town as we went home at about 2:30am. I was dead tired but could not sleep until around 4 or 5am.

The Next Day

Albina’s arm was badly fractured around her elbow. They began surgery sometime around 2 and she wasn’t out until after 6. I was finally able to see her then. Beside periodic bursts of pain between morphine doses she seemed a thousand times better. Finally her eyes were open and she was talking to all of us. (Her mom drove up from Colorado Springs and her twin sister Agnessa drove from Salt Lake)

13-albinaelbow

Saturday

Saturday Wes drove me to the hospital around 1 and I just spent the rest of the day with Albina in her room. That night after I left (around 2am) her block from surgery wore off. This was the most excruciating pain she had felt yet.

Sunday

When I woke up I picked the last piece of glass out of my hair.

She felt much better today but due to the drugs and her anemia she has been drowsy almost to the point of falling asleep all day.

Monday

Wes drove me to Rifle where I we finally saw the wreckage and I got all of my stuff out of it.

________

What’s Left of My Honda

 02-my-honda-at-pks-403-my-honda-at-pks-504-my-honda-at-pks-605-my-honda-at-pks-706-my-honda-at-pks-807-my-honda-at-pks-908-my-honda-at-pks-1009-my-honda-at-pks-1110-my-honda-at-pks-1411-my-honda-at-pks

Tuesday & Wednesday

Albina is very drowsy, nauseous and gets dizzy very easily from all the meds and her anemia.

Thursday

Finally! She’s out of the hospital! She is still feeling drowsy and has intermitent pain but she’s actually got a little appetite. She had her staples removed earlier and at lunch today she took my staples out!

I got a fax of the accident report today and apparently the guy that hit us had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Thank You

I have had a flood of calls, texts and emails from friends and family. Maegan & Lucee offered to make me dinners. Pastor Wade has hooked me up with a car I can borrow until I get a new one. Wes & Rebecca have been there at every moment. Jared & Katie were there at the hospital despite barely even knowing Albina. I really feel bad that haven’t been able to get back to everyone who dropped by or left a message. Also, my initial text message failed to get to half of my phone book-so please don’t feel less important to me if you didn’t get the text. Albina has really enjoyed all the flowers-she has 12 bouquets last I counted.

Most of all, of course, I want to thank the Lord. We were parked and hit by a vehicle going Interstate speed and we are alive to tell the story. Thank you God.

Currently listening :

Barber: Adagio for Strings, Op. 11/Orchestral Music; Leonard Slatkin

By Samuel Barber

Release date: 25 October, 1990

How I Broke My Neck (refurbished blog from MySpace 10-27-08)

Monday, October 27, 2008

How I Broke My Neck

Josh the Mountain Goat Monkey

If you have hung out with me at all in the outdoors, you know I can’t help but to climb anything that is climbable. I look at trees & rocks as playground equipment built by God. Every time I glance at granite cliffs, a building with interesting architecture, or a grove of old growth trees, my mind automatically projects a rout to the top and some sort instinct inside tells me weather it is possible. The instinct is probably right like 90% of the time and is probably based on a lifetime as a Colorado kid, or maybe from “monkeying around” on the jungle gym dad built in the  backyard, or maybe being the son of an avid mountain climber (he climbed all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000 peaks in the span of 10 years)

Anyway, I had often looked at the giant cottonwood tree on Old Man Gallop’s property, close enough to the fence between us to share a little pouring of its leaves and most of its shade with us. Old Man Gallup has several acres of property south of mine & my roommate’s house and as far as I can tell the whole place is fenced in by a 6ft. high barbed wire fence. Occasionally he takes his horse for a trot out there before retreating back to the more wooded half of his property that is cluttered with old cars. His house probably several hundred yards from the edge of where our suburban neighborhood meets his property.

I always wished that tree was ours a we have no trees in our yard. We would do so much with it: put a tree swing on it, build a tree house in it, jump out of it on to or trampoline, or just climb it.

Climbing Old Man Gallup’s Tree

So, Sunday (the 19th) I came home from lunch at Dos Hombres to an empty house. StevO called me up to go shooting, and now I wish more than anything I had went ahead to the store to buy ammo. Instead a quiet afternoon reading a book seemed more inviting. I dragged a lawn chair into the backyard grass, sat down and opened “A Wind in the Door”. The October afternoon was so perfect I had to look up and observe after every paragraph. Once again I looked at Old Man Gallup’s tree, my eyes mapping out the many branches as I thought ‘Why haven’t I ever climbed that tree before?’

I had my plan, I would get my camera, take a few pictures from up high and come down and get back to my book. When I got to the fence I remembered what had stopped me before. To get in the tree, I would need to be on Old Man Gallup’s property and the worst part…there are no limbs lower than about 15 feet.

I climbed on top of the fence post and studied the only reachable branch. It curved from the tree drooping behind me almost to the ground. The only way I was going to climb this tree was to get myself on top of that branch. I thought about what I’d need to do .I’ve done it many times in other trees before. I jumped up and grabbed the branch. I swung my legs up around it. The a limb sticking up almost vertical about 4 inches thick. Next I would need to use that limb to wrench myself around to the top of the branch. I grabbed ahold with my right hand and tugged, it felt secure. With my left hand I reached up to 3 inch branch that split off from it. I think a small thought in my head said if this one breaks, my right will hold me.

I grabbed the smaller branch with my left hand which transferred most of my body weight to the 4 inch branch. With a suddenness that seemed to preceed even grasping the branch there was a loud snap! I had the split second feeling of having the world yanked out from under me like a table cloth.

The Scariest Moment of My Life

From what the doctor says I landed on my head first which snapped back fracturing a joint in my lower neck. I lay in a pile of dead branches. I tried to move but it felt like a 200lb. person was sitting on my chest. I tried to move my hands but they wouldn’t budge. I felt pain everywhere and I panicked. “Help!” I cried. I rolled myself around in the sticks yelling “Help! Somebody help!” but I knew I was too far away for anyone to hear. I had to get up. Breathing as if that 200lb person was still on my chest, I struggled against the pulsating pain to my tingling feet. I looked myself over trying to figure out what was wrong. I saw blood but didn’t know where it was from. My right arm looked weird, was it broken? I realized I was hunched over and bent to the right. “Oh $%&), HELP! SOMEBODY HELP!” I whined.

The closest people I knew of were one house passed an empty lot to the west of our house. I yelled in that direction to no avail. I realized I had my cell phone in my left pocket. I reached down and pawed the phone with my limp fingers. There was no way I was getting it out. To find help would I would have to get outside of this barbed wire fence! In the back of my head I knew there where no gates near and looking around confirmed it. Then a terrible thought came to me, I was going to have to hurl my limp body, already blasting with pain, onto the barbed wire and flip over the fence! No way I thought, there’s got to be a way out.

I wobbled on my numb tingly legs east to he fence by our front yard. Thank God, there some kids riding bikes in dead end of our street.

“Hey kid! Can you call an ambulance? I fell out of that tree over there and hurt myself pretty bad,” I said through painful gasps. Soon the kid had informed our next door neighbors Kenny and Vicki. I was able to explain to Kenny what happened through labored breathes and sweating profusely. My entire body screamed in pain and I tried to change my position to ease the pain. Kenny was able to reach through the fence get my cell phone out of my pocket. I leaned my head on my forearm on the fence which slightly relieved pain. Then I tried laying in the weeds, that helped a little bit.

I heard Vicky say “Oh Josh,” and start praying for me. I grunted every breath and it seemed like half an hour before the ambulance got there. Finally I heard the sirens and out of my peripheral could see a fire truck pull up. Firemen  cut a hole in the fence and strapped me to a board as an ambulance backed up to the fence. The cut my shirt off and told me not move as they strapped a neck brace on. Ivs  were jammed in to my arm, questions were asked, the ride seemed to take an hour before I saw through the ambulance sunroof a crane overhead indicating we had arrived at St. Mary’s.

St. Mary’s, Prognosis and Rehab

They ran me through claustrophobia tube…I mean MRI and found I have a fracture in my C5 vertebrae. The fracture itself is not displaced and will heal fine. However, the pain in my back, arms and hands is coming from swelling in the spine inside an already irregularly  narrow spinal canal (apparently some people are born with this).  They also found some degenerated/bulging discs that were from something previous, hmmm what could that be from? Flipping over the handlebars of  a motorcycle? Tumbling down the ditch at 30mph in the Ridges after falling of my longboard? T-boning an SUV at 45mph on Broadway? Catching an edge snowboarding and tumbling down the hard packed snow? Or perhaps getting rear-ended by a guy doing 65mph when I was at a standstill? Anyway, Dr. Clifford thought I may need surgery to relieve the swelling and so I wasn’t aloud to eat until the next day. I got a catheter, oxygen, IV, a Sterroid and foot circulators hooked up to me  and went to sleep staring at the ceiling. Wes stayed with me that first night.

The next day Dr. Clifford explained to me that surgery was optional. They could do a procedure to widen my spinal canal or they could remove the degenerated discs and fuse those three vertebrae together. Really surgery would be a preventative measure in case I got in an accident like this again. I chose not to have surgery.

Those first few days my hands were by far the most painful part of my body. They constantly felt like they were burning. That has gone down a lot and though I still can’t extend my fingers, the only constant pain is my right thumb (tingly and numbish), my left ring finger (sharp pain) and dull pain in neck/back. The worst thing I’m experiencing though is that sometimes when I move just right I think its pinching a nerve. This is by far the most painful thing I have ever felt. When it happens I can never really figure out what position caused it and so I spend a terrifying minute trying to move out of the position. It feels like I’m having a heart attack or being electrocuted starting at my spine and running through my shoulder straight to my thumb. It’s like some one taking plyers and crushing the raw nerve or pouring liquid metal down my arm.

So after spending several nights being woken up for vitals and fed Percoset or Vicaden and Flexerol and Lyrica every few hours, it was on to rehab floor where I am now. This floor is mainly for recovering senior citizens and so for the last few days I’ve felt like I’m trapped in an old folk’s home.

I want to thank all the doctors, nurses, techs, PTs, Ots, ect. That have worked on me…I think there’s been at least 50! Most have been above average nice! Most of all I want to thank mom & dad for making several trips here from Craig despite their own problems (Granddad has the flu) and taking shifts sleeping on the couch in my room, Wes and Recbecca for spending almost every evening with me and Wes also sleeping on that crappy recliner. Also, I have been blown away by the response of my friends! I have had at least 1 vistor every day and like 12 one day! You have all cared SO much! Thank you for the sweets, the cards, drawings, and even flowers! I can’t describe how seeing you guys has helped me get through this! I was going to list all of you but then I feel like crap if I missed someone! Also, was pretty out of it on pain med a couple of times and some of you didn’t realize you had to stand directly over me for me to see you with this collar on! Oh and last but certainly not least….in fact, first, Thank You Lord, you were with me the whole time reminding me “…that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Currently listening :

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

By Fatboy Slim

Release date: 1998-10-20