CQ…Clark Here

Thoughts and opinions. LOTS of opinions.

Archive for the tag “North East”

Get Your Motor Runnin’…

…with a nod to Steppenwolf.   http://youtu.be/5UWRypqz5-o

Ok, it’s more than a little laughable to try to shoehorn me and a “biker” song into the same thought.  I ride a motorcycle, but no self-respecting “biker” would even sit with me in the same bleacher section at a George Thorogood concert.  My idea of teenage rebellion was when I bought (geez, I didn’t even steal the stupid thing) a comic book and hid it in the Sunday paper my Dad had sent me to buy.  I hid it so Pop wouldn’t know I bought another comic book with my allowance money.  Yeah, I was a real wild child, alright.

When I was a teen, I had friends with motorcycles, but not me.  I didn’t work at jobs that paid enough for me to afford one, and my cruel parents refused to see the necessity of a teenager having a motorcycle.  Never mind that I was an irresponsible and reckless teenager.  That has nothing to do with it, and I clearly needed one.  Maybe I could have tried the holding-my-breath-until-I-turned-blue trick, but I’m kind of doubtful that would have helped my case much.

So I had to wait until adulthood to get a bike.

I was a young-ish cop in North East, PA, and I worked second and third shifts, almost exclusively.  One of my younger-than-I-was friends bought a motorcycle, and I was really envious.  I had wanted one for a long time, but still didn’t have one.  Rats!  JB’s “new” bike was an old (I don’t even remember the year) Honda CB 500.  It had been sitting behind some guy’s garage, and

Not my bike, but a nice shot of a Honda CB.

was just a mess.  JB paid only $300.00 for it, and then took it to a nearby motorcycle dealer for repair.  After several weeks, the shop told him that for them to fix it would cost him way more than the bike was worth.  Disgusted, he said he was just going to sell it.  I asked the price, and he told me that he was just looking to get his $300.00 back.  I yelled, “Sold!” and was completely jazzed about my new purchase.

Those that know me are probably wondering what Beth thought about this whole thing.  Well, I didn’t tell her.  I value my marriage, and I just didn’t think it was a healthy thing to explain this to Beth at this point.  Sometimes, no matter how rational I am, she takes a negative tack.  So I kind of, uh, waited for the proper moment.  Timing is everything.

We had been discussing the purchase of a motorcycle.  The conversations usually went something like this.

Me: “I want a motorcycle.”

Beth: “We can’t afford one.”

Me: “I want a motorcycle.”

Beth: “They’re too dangerous.”

Me: “I want a motorcycle.”

Beth: “No.

See?  Unreasonable.  So, being the thoughtful husband, I thought it best to tell Beth at a better time.

JB finally got the bike (MY bike!!!) back from the shop in the back of a friend’s pickup.  I was working 8PM to 4AM, so around 2-3 in the morning, he backed into my driveway, and we unloaded it, putting it in my garage.  At the end of the shift, I went home and went to bed, with visions of motorcycles dancing in my head.

When I woke up, I was so excited I could hardly contain myself.  I couldn’t wait to tell Beth.  It just happened to be her birthday, and I just knew she would be as jazzed as me (like I said, I was young), so I took her out to the garage and stood her in front of the door.  I had her close her eyes, threw the door open, and had her open her eyes.  And it felt like I had stepped into a walk-in freezer.  We were standing outside, but the temperature dropped about thirty degrees in a heartbeat.  I swear!  She looked at this unbelievable symbol of masculine freedom, and in a voice that I would expect from Regan in The Exorcist as her head is spinning around, Beth said, “What.  Is that?”  Suffering from short-term male dementia, I failed to keep my mouth shut.  I said, “It’s a motorcycle!”  Head still spinning, and now spitting pea soup, she next asked, “Who’s is it?”  (Well, maybe more of a shrieking sound than an actual voice) My answer?  “It’s mine!  I just bought it last night!  Happy birthday!!”  I can safely say that I did not get the reaction that my deranged young mind thought I would get.  It probably didn’t help that we were renovating Beth’s kitchen, and she thought her new cabinets had come in.  Whatever the case, our house was chilly and quiet for a loooong time. (note: I am not as stupid now as then.  We have a fantastic relationship, probably mostly due to Beth’s stupid husband actually becoming an adult…)

Well, we kept the bike, and I spent a lot of time getting it into running shape.  I loved that bike.  I’m not a small guy, I stand about 6’3″, and back then probably weighed in at 180 lbs.  Riding it I probably looked like a monkey sitting on a softball, but I felt like a million bucks on that thing.  A couple of years later I traded up to a CB 750.

Also not mine, but beautiful!

I didn’t keep this one long.  It was from Utah, and when I emptied the carburetor bowls, there was about a half-inch of sand in them.  I could just imagine what the carbs, valves, and pistons looked like, so I sold it and bought a Suzuki GS 750.

Mine was a gorgeous red.

Now that was a beautiful bike!  I kept that Suzi for a couple of years, and then traded up to a Suzuki GS 1100L.  I have had that bike for twenty years.  But as time goes on, things like motorcycles tend to wear down, get tired, not look as good.  And I didn’t have the money or talent to keep ‘er looking and running like she should.  But I loved that bike!  Even when it was unsafe and looked a little (ok, a lot) run-down, I loved that bike.  I tend to get overly sentimental about things, and that motorcycle was no exception.

Next up: From GS1100 to the present!!

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So far, just a mixed bag.

(For those interested, First Baptist Church in North East, PA has put up a blog regarding this week-long fast.  Although they used a somewhat, ahem, inferior blog site, they can be found at: http://breakthroughfbcne.blogspot.com/2012/03/preparing-for-change.html).  It’s a great devotional to use while fasting, and has encouraging thoughts to go along with the day’s post.

Regarding our fast, Beth and I each noticed Friday (Day One: water only) that our own breath was pretty bad.  I suspect it is related to the fast, and I’m thinking that by not chewing food, we are not cleansing our mouths of the bacteria that likes to live there, but that’s just a guess.  It reminded me of some information I had heard of Gandhi.  Gandhi, as most people know, was instrumental in the independence of India from England.  What I heard was that due to his walking everywhere, he had massive calluses on his feet, and that due to his fasting so often, he was inclined to poor health.  Further, his religion wasn’t strictly Hindu, but there was a bit of mysticism thrown in there as well.  And the part that reminded me of this story is that he suffered from chronic bad breath.  The story concluded with the thought that Gandhi was a super-callused, fragile mystic, plagued with halitosis.  (Anyone not catching that right away, see the note at the end of this post.)

So far this has been interesting.  Speaking first about the physical issues, I find that the hunger hasn’t been as all-consuming as I had feared.  Yeah, I’m hungry, but that’s ok.  What I had been concerned about was the caffeine withdrawal.  God is good, no terrible headaches this time.  Bit of a headache Friday and Saturday, but manageable.  Same with the kidneys.  I remember my kidneys aching badly for four days the first year, and maybe the second year as well.  So far this year, not so bad.  Still achy a bit, but not crushing me.

Mentally, it has been a bit frustrating.  I have felt a bit “fuzzy,” not really as sharp as I would like.  I notice a difference with my thought processes, I feel like I’m lagging about a half of a second behind stuff going on around me.  I know there are those that would ask me what the difference is from usual, and that they believe this to be the norm for me.  I would dispute that.  I think they’re just jealous. 🙂

Spiritually, I must confess its been a mixed bag.  I have remembered to pray when I felt the hunger, so I have prayed often.  That’s a good thing.  And mostly, it’s been positive, thanking God for His goodness, praising Him for who he is, thanking Him for being able to fast for Him.  Friends and family have been getting prayed for, too.  The down side is that I have been a bit cranky from time to time.  I’m pretty sure it’s due to low blood sugar, which I have a tendency toward anyhow.  It’s weird.  in times past, I will come home, or be around the house, and apparently acting crabby.  Beth will ask when I last had something to something, and I will crank out an answer, usually something like, “I don’t know, leave me alone.  I’m not hungry.”  To which she replies not with words, but gets of a bit of cheese or something from the fridge, and stuffs it in my mouth.  The effects usually don’t take long to notice, I can usually feel it in a couple of minutes.  It feels like there’s pressure behind my eyes, and as the food begins digestion, it feels like the pressure is letting up.  I feel lighter somehow.  And less crabby.  Which pleases Beth no end.

So I have been snapping a bit more than I like the past few days.  God has been good in that as well, I have recognized crankiness faster than usual, and have prayed about that also, letting go sooner than is often the case.

The fast hasn’t really disrupted my routine too badly, either.  I spent Friday and Saturday doing my normal routine.  Friday was a regular day at work, doing “boss” stuff, keeping up with paperwork and email.  The smell of coffee and others having lunch was a bit disconcerting, but nothing I couldn’t deal with.  Around noon, my two Lieutenants went for lunch.  They invited me along for Chinese, and I had to decline.  Angela asked if I were dieting, and I told her, “kinda,” to which she looked puzzled and asked how one “kind of” diets.  I then told her I was fasting.  She got that, and turned to leave.  Eric, however, laughed himself silly.  He gets it, too, but has a sense of humor that is a bit, uh, tilted?  (And yes, this is the pot calling the kettle black)  Like most guys, if he finds something a bit different, he’ll “bust chops” about it forever.  He knows my faith, though, and I don’t think this’ll be that kind of topic.  Even if it is, no biggie.  He makes me laugh, so I don’t anticipate this being any different.

So Beth and I are adjusting, and using this time to praise God and pray.  I want to do this for the correct reasons, and not just because I love a challenge.  I love God more, and even though this has been a bit difficult, I am grateful for the opportunity to devote the time to He who gives all good things.

Now as I promised earlier, if you didn’t catch the reference at the beginning of this post, watch this: http://youtu.be/WSX9ms04mhA.  Ok, if you just insert the words, “Super-callused fragile mystic plagued with halitosis.”  Yep, I love it.  And as punners around the world know,other peoples’ groans are but music to my ears…

I am just not used to this (part two).

Sunday morning, I woke up mostly refreshed and ready to go.  Surprisingly, my cold was still present, but only a fraction of what it had been.  I have never had that dramatic a turnaround inside of a few hours before in my life!

We got ready and went to church.  Beth had already told our worship team leader I probably wouldn’t sing, but I felt fine.  I’m a tenor, and often tell people that “real men sing real high.”  I wasn’t confident in my ability to hit the high notes, but one of our singers gave me a few Fisherman’s Friend cough drops.  Between the miraculous health turnaround, and the cough drops, I sang better and “purer” than I have in a while.  Very cool!

Pastor Bob gave his message, dealing mostly with fasting as presented in the New Testimant.  Our Elders have called for a church-wide fast, starting on March 1, and continuing for a week.  I will post on that topic another time.

The message was timely and well done (no shocker there),  and I was called forward to give the presentation.  The report went very well, and I could feel God’s presence.  At the end, I was grateful for God’s blessing, and was told by a number of people that it was well done.

What surprised me was how I felt most of the rest of Sunday.  I have been in theater productions, singing, band, and other “performance” type things most of my life.  And normally afterwards I’m jazzed, elated, high as a kite.  Not this time.  I couldn’t really place it, but if anything I felt like I was unworthy.  I was uncomfortable with the kind words spoken to me after the talk.

T.H. White wrote a book, The Once and Future King, consisting of three stories of King Arthur and his knights.  I am relating the following from memory, but I have not read the book in several years.  Almost every legend of King Arthur contains an affair between Lancelot and Guinevere.  In White’s version, they are in anguish over their affair, as they both love Arthur, but seem compelled to continue the affair.

In the second “book,” a knight falls ill, and it is determined that the only thing that will save him is the touch of a knight that is “pure.”  Lancelot is considered to be the “purest of the pure,” but refuses to touch the sick knight, due to his affair with Guinevere.  The other knights try, but nothing works, and the ill knight is dying.  Lancelot, dreading the moment, steps forward to touch the knight.  He knows that when he does, the truth will out.  But he has no choice; he touches the knight.  And the knight is healed.  The kingdom rejoices, the knights celebrate, but Lancelot, kneeling on the ground, weeps with a broken heart.  He knows the truth, and God, in His graciousness, worked through Lancelot in spite of Lancelot’s deficiencies.

That’s how I felt yesterday.  Totally unworthy, and levelled by God’s grace.  Rather than being elated, I was troubled.  Unworthy.  Low.  Amazed that God can speak through someone like me.  “Oh, wreched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24.  I am just not used to God usingme!

I wasn’t exactly depressed, but I was other than happy.  And I was that way most of the day.

But it occurred to me that I couldn’t stay that way, and Beth encouraged me to not get stuck in that place.  I think that’s the trick.  I think it’s good that I reacted as I did, but if I stayed there it would turn into a blackness that would just drag me back where I was before.  That is the last thing I want at this point in my life.  So, praise God!  If I did well, if I did poorly, God loves me no less and no more, and wants relationship with me.  That is beyond cool.

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