Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone. As we are all with our family and our friends, I would like everyone to to remember the the people who have nobody to spend Christmas with and have no home. Also, we should remember the gay youth who have been thrown out into the street because they are gay. We should also remember those transgendered people who are consdered to be freaks by many of us, who, like our gay homeless youth, have no other option, but to turn to prostitution or adult films to survive. We should all be grateful this wasn't our lot in life and remember this next time we complain about our nosy neigbors or our crappy cellphone service (myself included). We should remember those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol and have no other outlet because they can't afford healthcare and make too much to be covered by the state and end up wasting their lives away. I could have been one of those people, but for the grace of God, I am still here.
So next time you unwrap a gift that sucks or is cheap or you have absolutely no use for, remember, someone else out there would be happy just to have the company of that person who gave you that gift.
Merry Christmas to all of you. I know you can't always give me your time, your attention or any material gifts, but am glad to have you nonetheless. I grateful to have a roof over my head and food to eat (my mother's cooking is rather delicious, I might add, just ask Lindsay Voitik). I glad to have my hyper-extended family, who I love very much and people who have become part of my family who are not blood relatives.
I am also grateful for my church family, who have welcomed me and made me feel a part of their family (especially for Pastor Adero, who introduced me to the church, and her partner Jan).
I am also grateful for my parents. My mother still thinks there's a chance I turn straight, but we'll let her think that. I am grateful she never turned her back on me and loved me nonetheless.
Most of all, I am grateful for my God. My God who is with me every day and help me and heals me and reminds me that I can do anything, with him and who saved me from myself. He loves me no matter what (even if some of his other believers seem to think otherwise.
Merry Christmas to all of you.

I'm going to leave with a passage from my favorite of the New Testament, the Gospel According to Luke (NLT) Chapter 2 Verses 1-20:

The Birth of Jesus

1 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was now obviously pregnant.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

The Shepherds and Angels

8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Parable of the Cigarette Butts

During my unfortunate incarceration, there were times when if we didn't pick up trash thrown bout the rock and gravel, also known as the tent area, we wouldn't be able to make use of the commissary. One particular day, it was closed for most of the day and a detention officer (who really had something to prove) was constantly walking around looking for garbage. She would make these very obnoxious announcements about picking up trash and they'd kinda ramble on and on. Now, let me reiterate the fact that most of the people in our area were misdemeanor offenders, DUI, drug possesion, petty offenses, and I'm convinced all of us are there to create jobs and raise money for the state/county, but that's another matter. We slept in military-style tents where the sides could be rolled up and people around could see the inside of our tents.
Anyway, I slept in a corner of the tent I was in and guys from other tents would like to hang our right outside of it and smoke. When they were done they would throw their cigarette butts and matches on the ground after having forced us to inhale their tar and carcinogen-filled fumes. Lovely. On the particular day I mentioned earlier, I decided to get up and pick up trash. As I was picking up every single tiny piece of trash, at this point it was cigarette butts, I was fuming (no pun intended) about having to pick up other peoples' cigarette butts. I hated the fact that I would have to breath in those tumor causing, teeth-staining, smelling, puking plumes of smoke (that I hate) and then have to pick up the product that caused it. I was not happy.
Then it occurred to me,

"How do you think God feels when he has to clean up YOUR mess?

Ok, Lord, got it. It was a situation where the point was definitely made. Lucky for me, God isn't like that. He's quite a bit more patient than me. He knows I do dumb things and when I fall, he kinda of just sighs and says, "Come on, get back up." He doesn't even tell me to stop crying.

Friday, December 11, 2009

House Arrest

I just saw Julie & Julia and needed to post something.

Since the last time I've updated, I've finished my first semester of seminary. Yes, I'm officially a theologian. I should have a bachelor's in theology within the next semester or two, the Dean of our school has yet to figure that out (it is a new seminary and I'm in it's very first class). I'm not sure when we start back up again, but I do know that our immediate goal is to attract more students.

I've been to court and have been convicted of a second DUI (within seven years, but just barely). This requires me to pay approximately $5000 in fines and to go to 72 hours of alcohol screening (3 hour classes at $20 a pop) as well as a M.A.D.D. class ($40). I have to pay $140 a month toward my fines, if I can't pay, I get sent back to jail, mostly likely to the wonderful work furlow section. I will be sure not to end up there because in the fifteen days I was there, two guys had blankets thrown over them and beaten, or so I'd heard. My license has also been suspended for a year. I spent 15 days in tent city and froze my man parts off trying to sleep at night. About 11 of those nights I didn't get more than 3-5 hours of sleep (mostly it was three). I had to be clean shaven in order to leave, shaving was done with cheap ass single blade razor that grazed at my face and neck more than removed my hair. Oh, and the paperwork said there would be space heaters in the tents, but there are not.

It was an interesting stay. I don't know if I passed for straight, but I don't think anyone who figured me out, figured me out right away. I was blessed enough to have a mostly decent group of guys. There was one guy that made me uncfortable with his comments about my gas, or perhaps it was that I'm gay. I wasn't sre what it was about, but I could definitely feel something was up with this guy. The guy in the bunk above me was pretty cool, was a couple of the guys that were in one of the holding cells with me.

Of interest were the time I was sent to ICE, which is Joe Arpaio's version immigration and his detention officers scratching their heads about the incident once I spoke. Another incident was when a Mexican guy was walking by the line for commissary asked a guy about four people ahead of me if he was Chicano and then said there was going to be a meeting. He continued to walk down the line, stopped and looked at me and then continued his search for Mexicans. Yes, the ethnic groups have meetings in jail, even though (as Keith said), they get to leave every day and their cars are parked just outside of that fence.

As of now, I'm on house arrest, but can go to work and church (once a week to church, I'm waiting on an approval to go more often). It costs me $384 a month. I also have to blow into a breathalyzer machine when ever the damn things goes off. I have to be careful not to have spicy food or mint around the time it goes off or it can give a false reading. I am glad, however to be home and sleeping in my comfortable bed with heating and stuff and I still pray for the guys who are still there and have lot of time to go. It almost makes me forget that I've lost a certain level of freedom until about March 20.