That Burning Sensation

I fear churches.

Don't get me wrong. I don't harbor any disdain for those who are devout in their beliefs. In fact, I quite admire someone who can devote themselves to their faith, in the same way I admire that French spiderman guy who free-climbs skyscrapers. Church just simply scares the crap out of me. I'm talking about cold sweats, vertigo. I'm talking about my blood pressure rising when I set foot in a church. My face flushing. Feeling light headed.

As most people have the complete opposite reaction to churches, I have often been asked why of all things a spiritual sanctuary like this can frighten me so. The simple answer is I am spiritually inept. I suck at all things church. I grew up Catholic. And while I have always been good with anything that you need to study out of a book, I was always bad at Sunday School. Failed every quiz. Asked the wrong questions. Couldn't tell my apostles from my saints from my disciples. And the teachers and other kids made it known that I sucked. Being the only Asian kid in a working class Irish neighborhood might have contributed a teensy bit to the post Sunday-school teasing and beat downs that I suffered while waiting for my mom to pick me up, but since I was on church grounds, I considered it church jurisdiction.

And when it came time to re-register for Sunday School one spring day (I think they called it CCD back then?). I simply said no. I was in fourth grade then, so I knew I was facing one hell heck of a maelstrom by saying no, but I stuck to my guns. I had never, nor have I since, openly defied my mother. Self preservation is a strong instinct.

And for close to two decades, I admired churches from afar, or on postcards.

Then I got married. To a Filipino woman. And they'll give the Boston Irish a run for their money on the Catholic devotion front any day. I love Lisa's family and they don't beat me down when I skip church when we visit on the holidays (it helps that I'm usually cooking them a vat of my Killa Clam Chowda while they're worshipping), so the whole Catholicism thing in general isn't as scary anymore. But on the few occasions where I have gone to church in my adult life (weddings, funerals, etc), I suffer that entire list of symptoms they read at the end of designer pharmaceutical ads. Including oily discharge.

Seeing as we have a kid together, the inevitable question of Fury's religious upbringing was one challenge that Lisa and I had to face early on. I respect her religious views. And while I'm of the opinion that Fury should pick whatever religion HE feels will fulfill him spiritually, I am willing to give Catholisicm a head start, since his mom is Catholic. And he's really too young to make that decision for himself now anyway. Hell, I'M too young to make that decision. Heck, I mean heck. Sorry.

So we got him baptized when he was a baby. Part of that required his parents (yes, me) to attend baptism classes. And for the love of my wife and son, I sucked it up and did it. And I attended the baptism too. And did not pass out. Or go up in flames.

Now we've got another little one on the way.

And Lisa made arrangements for soon-to-be baby Alessia's baptism. I figured, "ok, one afternoon in church. Just hold your breath, smile and it'll all be over quickly." But no. I have to take the class again. This time, they're requiring two classes.

So last night, parked outside the church, I took several slow deep breaths to get my heart rate down.

"Seriously?" she asked.

"Seriously." I responded.

I joked that once I set foot in that church, lightning would strike me down. Lisa said "I know. Sinner." In her deadpan I'm-joking-but-you-are-still-going-to-hell manner.

As I took a seat at the table, I could feel my face beginning to flush, my fingertips going numb. But as class went on, I have to admit that the modern Catholic church is a lot kinder and gentler than I remember from the 70s. I was going to make it. I mumbled through the prayers (like when I used to lip synch in chorus) and sat through the baptism powerpoint presentation. But I had to chuckle then this slide came up:

"I renounce the Prince of Darkness"

Whoa. whoa. whoa. What's Ozzy got to do with it? No way. He rocks. And even if the Dalai Lama himself told me to stop playing "Crazy Train" to my son, I'd tell him to go pick on Nirvana or something.

Mumble mumble prince of mumble mumble...

I was doing OK. This class wasn't that bad. God is not going to call me out. I see the finish line...

"WWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAA  WAAAAAAAAAAAAA"

Yup. The fire alarm.

When judgment day arrives, you'll find me at the back of the southbound bus playing sudoku with Ozzy Osbourne.

Cyborg. Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time...

That’s what they used to call me. But nowadays, Fury just pats me on the belly and shakes his head whenever I flex my biceps in front of him. Cyborgs aren’t supposed to jiggle, apparently. And cyborgs don’t find an upside-down imprint of their belt buckle on their belly after prolonged stretches of sitting (you have to stop and think about how that happens, but it has something to do with gut overflow).

I ain’t as good as I once was.

Back then, I believed the measure of a man was his ability to vanquish his opponents in hand-to-hand combat. Or at least hold his own, win or lose.

And I loved it. I’ve made the best friends I’ve ever had training, punching, kicking, choking, bleeding and sweating alongside them.

And then this guy came along.

And for a while, the father lion instinct kicked in. I have to protect my boy against all the bad people out there who want to physically harm him, and hell if I’m going to let that happen to my Simba, right?

He was my motivation, my inspiration.

And it was the shot of encouragement I needed. For a while, I was better than I ever was – and I was in my mid-thirties. My Muay Thai coach coined the nickname Cyborg and I was damn proud of it. At least it was better than his first choice, “Tony Roma” because of my tender ribs.

Cyborg was relentless. Tearing through endurance drills, running, calisthenics, sparring, competitions, seminars, and even watermelon (2nd place, eating contest, 2007 team picnic, yo).  Cyborg did come in dead last in the 3-legged race, but that’s because the judges didn’t allow him to just sprint and drag his partner along.

But other than that, no one ever questioned his ability to simply power through without hesitation anything thrown at him.

 

 

However...

No roving band of ninjas ever came to kidnap Fury... but he did want to tell me about his day at school.

No crazy escaped convict ever broke into my house... but Fury loved the homemade pesto pizza I would make him for dinner.

No agent approached me to star in the remake of Enter the Dragon, catapulting me to fame, fortune and Fury’s college tuition... but Fury did want me to videotape his latest homemade Hotwheels catapult.

That 2 hours that I could spend being a man in the gym was 2 hours that I couldn’t spend being a dad at home. Something didn’t measure up. So Cyborg picked up a cold beer, sat next to Fury and they laughed and snorted at Spongebob getting his face ripped off.

But old personas die hard. And although I’ve had a great time playing the puffier, jollier, 20 pounds heavier BusyDad who gets winded taking out the trash, I miss Cyborg. And when Fury patted my belly the other day, Cyborg didn’t like that.

“Should I return to Muay Thai?” I thought. No. I cannot possibly go back into Muay Thai. I have an ego problem. It took me years to get to the level I was, and to walk back into my old gym in the decrepit shape I’m in now would kill me inside. Also, I cannot realistically put in the time or effort to fight competitively. And to see the young lions training for fights when all I could realistically do at this point in my life is just train to get in shape? That would kill me a lot. A LOT.

Then just the other day d Wife got back from a shopping trip to her favorite store in the world next to Nordstrom: Lululemon. “Hey I saw a flyer that they opened a Crossfit in Monrovia.”

Crossfit.

Open any thesaurus and you will find this word as the 5th synonym for “Are you frickin insane? Do you actually enjoy collapsing in a pile of sweat and puke at 6 in the morning 5 days a week?”

Yes. Yes I do. But then again, Cyborgs weren’t programmed for logic.

 

Time to Rant

I've been spending the past two days reading BlogHer conference recaps. And it feels like that movie Memento, where I'm discovering bits and pieces and making sense of them within the context of my own reality from that weekend. Eh, I can't fool you guys - it's more like that movie The Hangover. I still don't know how that rooster got into my room. Any help would be appreciated.

Anyway, I've decided not to do one, mostly because mine would be boring. I had a great time, met new friends, connected with old ones and reveled in the fact that amongst 1,500 people, I could at any given time run into someone I knew and simply chill with them. I loved that my biggest, most impactful decision of each day was "should I go hang out by the river, or sit in the lobby?" I wasn't busy. For once.

While I was there, I was also on a panel. As the title suggested ("Vaginally challenged bloggers - the men of BlogHer"), it was a lighthearted, fun discussion on the role and impact of male personal bloggers in a predominantly female space. Along with my co-panelists Avitable and Childsplayx2 and moderator Miss Britt, we discussed a whole mess of interesting topics. At one point, as we touched upon the topic of crossing lines, I said something like "I don't cross any lines - I don't rant, I don't talk shit, I just keep it lighthearted on my blog." I don't ever cuss on this blog either, but if it's in quotes it's ok, right?

But you know what? Sometimes you've got to let it out and I need to break some new ground here. However, would it be hypocritical of me to do this less than a week after I declared that I don't rant in front of pretty much anyone who would ever read this blog? Yes. Yes it would be. So I'm going to get off on a technicality. Fury is going to do it. I need the traffic that a good controversial rant would bring, and my son has something that he has to say. I came across it going through a stack of his schoolwork the other day, and it's the stuff budding bloggers are made of. Take it away son...

Original text scanned below. Transcript follows.

I hate to eat Asparagus. It tastes like a leaf and like a rotten squash. The Asparagus looks like it has hair and is green. It sounds crunchy. The Asparagus feels smooth and bumpy on top. It smells like its been in a garden and like a leaf. Asparagus is only good with ranch.

- Fury

How's that for an FU post? Should I hyperlink the word asparagus to the US Asparagus Council like a good linkbaiter? Nah, one step at a time.

The Distinguished Gentleman

Distinguishing marks, that is. I'm covered in 'em. And honestly, I had no idea so many of you were too. But thanks to Sunshine from And the Pursuit of Happiness, we're doing a little showing off today. Sunshine is hosting a tattoo party over at her place and invited all of us inked bloggers to submit our tattoos to let all her readers try to match them with their owner. We kept them guessing a few days and today is the final reveal. So without further ado...

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Far From Perfect. Damn Far.

So kids, did you hear about the super excellent prom carnival going on over at MommyTime’s place? Yes, our proms are coming back to haunt us. Click over today to read prom stories from all your favorite bloggers. As much as I love MommyTime, I wasn’t going to participate. My prom story isn’t funny, nor is it inspirational, nor did I get laid. Really not the stuff proms are made of. In fact, I was quite an ass. It was probably the single most inconsiderate thing I have ever done. So why even bother? Because I can't say no.

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