Trying to Get Pregnant

I am trying to get pregnant; one way or another, I have wanted to get pregnant for a long time. After my last relationship ended, I had plenty of solitude in which to get pregnant with inspiration for a novel. I had privacy, candles, and bathtub sessions on a regular basis.

–call me a click-whore: trying to boost my views–

JD GoreI thought leaving the country was sure to do the job: bless me with the inspiration. Somehow, it did not occur to me that I already had the inspiration to write several books. I have motivational problems. On a subconscious level all of my stories inhabit a chilly place, a padlocked freezer of creativity sitting atop the refrigerator of my blogging-life. As anyone can see, the fridge is virtually empty. I have not posted as much as one entry since March. Unexpectedly, I find myself at a different kind of rock-bottom.

It was one kind of rock-bottom, post-college, when deaths and divorces wracked my family and I entered a state of unemployment: time, time everywhere but not a word to write. It was quite another rock-bottom when I reached the final months of my service in Palestine and none of us could go to the office without the threat of being tear-gassed, then still another when I returned to the United States and started living in a giant take-out box on North Capitol Street with no windows and reduced ceilings. All the while, I kept insisting “this is not as bad as other things that have happened.” Last year, I was still quaking from traumas past.

Now, I am accepted to American University’s MA in International Training and Education Program (ITEP). The news came to me while I was at West Michigan Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, the same event at which I took the floor in 2011 and called for divestment from companies that profit from apartheid infrastructure in Palestine. Unable to reach the floor for this year’s debate, I dropped to my knees with my al-khalili prayer beads and begged God that the conference would just consider divestment. With no input from me, they promised to do so. Since then, the entire Presbyterian Church (USA) has divested and the UMC seems not far behind. I’ve enrolled for 9 graduate credits with the abundant help of staff at AU. The path toward peace-of-mind is still not complete nor success assured but I have reasons to pat myself on the back. My supervisor said that my greatest accomplishment was realizing “—that failure is okay—”

Lindsey StirlingA different relationship with failure would have changed the course of my life significantly; I might be a musician or actor instead of drifting toward being an educator. I recently attended a Lindsey Stirling concert (I’ll keep my gushing to a minimum); looking back on the course of her career, it seems that even her rise to “America’s Got Talent” didn’t cement her place in that industry. She needed the help of some other gifted friends, especially a videographer and other musicians and vloggers with whom she collaborated, before the art she believed in from the beginning reached fertile ground. Sometimes I say things to myself like…
“…if I had been the same way about trumpet, maybe I wouldn’t be just a sometimes hack… I would have reached the promised-land…”
“…it’s too bad I was from a small-town and didn’t know I needed more connections. I guess I just bloomed too late…”
“…I’m probably just psychologically incapable…”
John Green—like everyone else? I also follow author John Green from time to time. Just once, I heard him talk about the period of soul-sucking depression that preceded his first book. He needed help far beyond what I have been willing to seek and yet, somehow, he became best-selling author John Green. I haven’t read his books yet but he’s known for writing accessible, teen-beloved fiction that is also meaningfully realistic.

I am indicting myself just a little, here. I didn’t grow-up to be the next Freddie Hubbard; I feared being a failure and so failed to love the music more than I loved my need to feel significant. I have often thought about writing an entry on my struggle with “significance.” Despite being single, indebted, and PTSD-ridden, I still find significance in having accepted my mission to Palestine. The quest for significance may not ever be enhanced by fame, after all.

Also, I cannot ignore that the reason I flunked first-year math was not that I was under the bridge playing my trumpet. I was writing: journaling. As much as I want to kick myself for not writing more fiction or poetry, I was always writing something — and afterward felt better. Now that I have ‘significant things’, I seem to be faltering in the most basic way: I am not even pontificating on WordPress!

Can I make the transition to loving my art more than my significance, even as I pursue the call to international education?

The answer has to be “YES” because of the literature that always resonated the most with me, which is the kind of writing I want to do. I have an interesting handicap in that I ADORE anti-colonial storylines that subvert domination… but I’m from a historically dominant group. More accurately, we were subsumed by that group (whites) as German & Irish immigrants in order to win the ethnic politics of North America. As I’m writing this, I’m processing these thoughts — I sometimes think about my one indigenous ancestor, of how distant I feel from her (I don’t know her name, nor for sure to what tribe she belongs). Perhaps I am not so far from her heart, after all.

When I started writing today, I decided two things: one was that I would not get much above 1000 words and the other was that I would just share my thoughts as they come out without a great deal of outlining and other kinds of ‘engineering’ — meticulous editing. I need to get my engine started again; regardless of my ‘marketability’, writing is my native language.

Epilogue: Reverend James Ritchie called-out “Brother Gore! When are you going to write that book?” For the next fifteen minutes, we talked about the possibilities of the book and how my education was going to make me so SO busy. He kept playfully batting me with a rolled-up conference bulletin:
“You’re the only one who can write YOUR story; it won’t happen in a week or even a month but if you let God work in your heart… it’s going to happen.”

Mega Man X Complex: Armor

zeroRemember, you have not reached full power yet. If you use all the abilities you were designed with, you should become stronger. You may even become as powerful as I am.

 ‘Zero’

X_piecesTherefore, take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand, therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breast-plate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all these, take the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 The Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, 6:13-17

Zero alludes to the upgrade capsules left to [Mega Man] X by Dr. Light, his creator, which together form the armor that equips X for his quest. I am not certain what that means to me. I read Paul, contextually, as speaking to a community with an unpopular ideology and bolstering their resolve with reinforced images, stripping the essence from Roman Imperial gear to equip the Ephesians with powerful abstracts. When I approached security at Tel Aviv airport, especially when I was hiding literature, the sound of electricity rushing from my core into my extremities filled my ears, as if they could see filaments of charged particles dancing all over my body.  If I were armed (literally) with a plasma-canon, I could wash the machines from the airport — from existence! — in a torrent of light and rush … rush onward instead of submitting to strip-searches…

I distilled X’s weapon as Determination but there is no satisfying release for the charge I carry, still.

Mega-Man X symbolizes my impossible wish to materialize and dematerialize in zaps of energy, without any history, constituted for a specific purpose. Behind my aliases, there was always a real person with a record of missteps – career and interpersonal. For over a decade I’ve been looking for the crucial piece that would launch me from my seeming stasis and satisfy my impatience to reclaim my identity as—valid? “Excellent” rings tinny. “Worthy”: if not superior, then loved. I wove a narrative for myself, fittingly, of being salvaged from the proverbial scrap-heap. Fussing with this piece over a week, it dawned on me that it was Vile (not Zero or Dr. Light) who called X a worthless piece of scrap.

helmet_salvNow, I will retrieve a treasure from Christian cliché: the Helmet of Salvation. X’s helmet is a less than perfect example; its only use seems to breaking walls to find other components: its a necessity for the sake of what it obtains. The blurred generalities of Salvation inhere in us as “church-speak” before we know the uncanny fibers within. Only yesterday, I realized Salvation was bigger than theology, that it has a power in secular life that exists mostly unnoted. Whenever the worth of a person seems irretrievable but resurfaces, astoundingly, then Salvation has been at work. The Gospel was decidedly about works of Salvation – unmistakably in the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’, who stops to help an injured man when priests (fearing the touch of a dead-body) bypassed him. It was no accident that Jesus’ example character came from a different background (Samaritan) – we should not skate lightly over that. We are salvaged because whatever shapes us should not mitigate our worth in one-anothers’ eyes (let alone in our Deity’s); it’s necessary for what could be obtained, together.

My writers’ block would not break until I had accepted that Salvation mattered and that I deserved it. It can never be earned but it is always deserved, for everyone rendered ‘untouchable’ and for me, too. This is no sermon on Salvation but I can appreciate that the cycle of doubt and self-deprecation cannot end without saying “I’m worthy”, putting on the helmet,boots_peace and head-busting some blocks on my way to the rest of my armor. The ‘dash boots’ were always my favorite, as X jumped and skidded through virtual dangers on the television screen. As shoes for my feet, I put on whatever will make me ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. Not of perfection. Everything, in the service of peace. This peace cannot be the passive tranquility we associate with ‘pax’. This abstract is the extract of those boots, the essence of a nimbler but braver pursuit of nonviolent struggle. Early in the game, X clings to walls for safety but later he slides past heavily encumbered foes. That forward-leaning confidence in justice makes the shoes of peace. I laced my boots long ago…

breast_rightThe breast-place gives me pause. X’s armor makes him 50% less vulnerable but this capsule is not merely hidden: he must have a long, tedious battle with a heavily armored robot before Dr Light’s hologram message appears. Whatever righteousness is, it takes practice— but the word itself reveals even less than ‘Salvation’. On my chest I have a tattoo of an anchor, next to which is inscribed “…to seek justice and resist evil.” Those words bubbled to my lips that day, maybe from the vague memory of my commissioning. I rediscovered them in a baptismal liturgy… the words etched on my chest, lodged in my heart, came from somewhere and I admit that  I cannot find a better definition of righteousness than “to seek justice and resist evil,” consistent with a well-known passage from Micah…

God has told you, O mortal, what is good: and what does God require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

The context of that passage has little to do with personal holiness; Micah is calling his society to rid itself of corruption. When I look at the mirror, I see a farce of a missionary and an insult to self-control but when I look back at my body of work, I submit to you, Micah’s words have fueled me from August 15th, 2011 up until the present day. Cross-my-heart: I have fastened the Belt of Truth around my waist, to the best of my understanding.

The Sword of the Spirit, or Plasma Cannon of Determination, is something more elusive than problematic. If I were a literalist, the answer would be staring me in the face: Paul said it was ‘the Word of God’. Texts can inspire but translations are problematic and eisegesis is inevitable. This time, I am departing from the common interpretation: I think we are talking about a quality of the Divine, the ‘Logos’*. Unfortunately, my inability to tap it precisely in writing is a reflection of my inability to tap that purposeful energy, that truly inspired and creative energy, in an instant or at will. Right now, I am still shedding the tiredness of changing homes so often. I am not a machine. What I said on February 15th, 2012, is worth repeating:

plasma_blaster_determinationThe key to X’s weapon-enhancer is that it must charge to full power – it is a waiting weapon. Speaking to groups [at Wi’am], I closed my eyes and remembered the sound of [him] powering-up that weapon. I used to charge it before I faced a boss, whether I needed it or not, to put myself at ease. “I’ve got this—thanks for the power-up, Spirit.” Discharged at the right time, it is super effective.

When I worry whether or not I will ever reach full power, I remind myself that I am still in a disorganized phase. It feels like I will never master that blend of waiting and pushing forward but that is an illusion. The seed of Fear is inconsistent with my experiences of rare, but real, Spirit-charged moments in my life. At just the right time, that uncanny, reinvigorating power sublimates upon me.  With time and determination, I will wash away all obstacles in torrents of energy and acquire a battery of tools with which to use that enhanced capacity.

—and now let us talk about The Shield, among other devices—

Part 4 is in the making.

Mega Man X Complex: Returning

One blog is “retired”, while this one is fallow and in shambles. Something has to be done – but what will it take to jar me loose?Shady Patch

On February 15th of 2012, I wrote an entry about Mega Man X for “In Rainbow Colors”:

Sometime in the last five weeks, I developed self-concept problems. It might have to do with the fact that I am a writer who is writing seemingly little.

On the plane home from West Michigan, well over a year later, I wrote the stub of yet another journal entry. They sit on my desktop like dead buds on a magnolia tree after a late frost. There is one where I almost wrote about this stage I have passed into, calling it a “quarter-life crisis”. For weeks I had been painting my future in light strokes, hinting to family and friends that I was going to continue in conflict resolution with an emphasis on narratives and arts based approaches. George Mason University was at the top of my list and – then I looked at the price: my feet went cold. The education is worth the price, provided I really wanted to study mediation… (and… well…)

I am in a time of critical challenge and opportunity. The shock-waves finally reached the surface this week when I found myself crying over Skype.            //           It is time to embrace a new narrative for myself.

Another among the many unwritten journal entries is one called “Dutch Apologies”. I was composing it in my head on the train from Geneva to Zurich but I felt too emotionally drained to reflect on my debrief. This weekend will mark six months since I disembarked from Bethlehem for that mentally dislocating experience in France. I promised myself I just needed to space-out for a while and then I would put the pieces together again – I would salvage everything lost, was my mantra. Not a word has graced this page about the facility, the staff’s philosophies, or my meditations by candle-light. I spent a week with that facilitator but cannot remember anything beyond a few images and phrases.

Mega Man X

An action shot of ‘X’ in full armor — later in the game.

I mused about who my cartoon super-hero avatar could be. Mega Man ‘X’ seemed to be the answer, by sheer exposure: I used to play Mega Man X on SNES every time I visited my parents during college – for the expressed purpose of blowing-up stuff.

I ignored my co-workers, seemingly ignoring me, as we wove through the alps, and argued with the facilitator in my head: “You need to climb down from your cross – you’ve given yourself the place that Christ should have in your life,” she says. “I can’t tell you the chapter and verse, but Jesus said something about taking up one’s cross…”

The more I dwelled on “X” the more I saw reasons to embrace his narrative as my own. X wakes from a long-nap in a time-capsule to discover a terrible development:

“You hate them, don’t you? You truly hate them—,“ she says. “I’m not sure, right now…”

Playing from the beginning, I ran into that city over a hundred times, through the gauntlet, to challenge a foe in a reinforced metal-suit. The game is designed in such a way that X cannot possibly win without being rescued…

“Your therapist doesn’t have to agree with your every view to help you.” “Maybe not but there are some basic facts—“ “No, this is not a matter of fact: this is your opinion.” “A wall more than ten times bigger than the one they tore down in Berlin is not my opinion – it was my everyday reality.”

Palestinian 'X'

A redesign in solidarity with Palestine, with apologies to Capcom.

This brings us to the first parallel: the self-hating robot. Down on his little, blue knees, X laments that he was not strong enough. X already knows he’s a self-hating robot in another, crucial way:

The therapist pegged me in one important way, which was that I was constantly ‘divergent’: going through the disorganized stage of grief. She gave me a piece of paper with the grieving curve on it, the slope angling precipitously into the darker and more self-aware stages of depression. My problem, now, is that I cannot remember how I went back into disorganization – I only know that I went deeper into confusion – and all my notes have disappeared. On some level, I must have wanted that to happen; sometimes the path of least resistance becomes the longest… and I was afraid of the darkness straight ahead. I went in circles.

I have been reluctant to embrace Mega Man as emblematic of my own purpose for fear it would expose my warrior dichotomy, wanting peace but moved to resistance.

It never occurred to me before now that revisiting the MegaMan complex might be the way to start revisiting France. I just realized that confession is an example of ‘the performative’: I am faltering, right now, to find something to say without trying to say everything at once. My paralysis, the essence of nothingness, is the ‘everythingness’ with which I anesthetize myself – my reveries, the internet, and of course…

I remain committed to nonviolence but my self-deprecation has been an assault on my purpose as much as on my self. I have been unwilling to stand tall and say “I am a prophet,” for fear that I will seem arrogant or combative. I have continued fighting on the outskirts of the city, popping plasma blasts at drones to stay alive rather than tapping into my legacy.

I confess again: I am faltering. Most of my reflection remains to be done but this is the end of Part 1.