Category Archives: blogs

Losing the high ground

Donald Trump is going to be president of the United States. It’s weird to type those words and have them be real, but such is life and people. The people voted, and by hook or by crook, he came out on top. There have been enough post-mortems and people trying to figure out how it happened. I have a lot of different thoughts, but one in particular that’s sticking in my craw, so I wanted to get it out there. I used to keep this space free of politics, but I don’t think that’s a luxury I should continue to indulge.

I’m disappointed at Christians in the U.S. (and a few up here) who supported Trump, somehow ignoring Trump’s entire history of stomping on the principles of our faith, and a campaign that continued to do likewise. His offenses are numerous and clear, and any single one of them should have been disqualifying, but somehow they weren’t important enough for voters to consider.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy– two people who, to my knowledge, have no connection with organized religion- put it very plainly in their rants (Steve Kerr is a little more thoughtful, if you prefer that). As Christians, we’re supposed to be the moral compass. That evangelicals came out overwhemingly for Trump, and white evangelicals especially, was bizarre. I’m baffled. I don’t get it. No amount of pastoral thinkpieces lacking moral courage and muttering “Supreme Court” could justify that choice, given who and what we claim to be. Trump was an awful candidate, an awful person without moral quality or any relevant experience who conned almost half the voters into supporting him. Good for him, I guess.

One of the most popular topics of recent vintage in churches- I would know, I go to one- is why ‘young people’ (I no longer qualify, sadly) leave the church. If I had the platform, I would point to how Christians voted in this election. We’re seen as hypocrites, and I get why. People see us preach on the transformative power of faith in Jesus, on morality and doing the right thing, on supporting the downtrodden, and see actions that don’t match up with what’s said. Help the poor, feed the hungry, reach out to the lost, but 78% of us supported a millionaire who was born on third base and thought he hit a home run, who degrades women, hates minorities, and has spent his life stepping on anyone who prevents him from making money. Sure, that fits. Jesus would have been all over that, right?

There’s a lot of good that’s done in Jesus’ name, and that sometimes gets lost in the sound and fury of things, when louder, more shocking voices get airplay. People love hearing about how Westboro Baptist screwed up today, mission trips to Guatemala several years running don’t get the clicks. But it’s hard to hold the charity and grace up as indicative of who we are when we screw up on the most visible choices. This was an open layup, and we dribbled it off our foot and the ball went out of bounds and the coach is mad and he’s getting someone off the bench to come in for us (alright, two convoluted sports metaphors is enough for one post).

I’m not having a crisis in my own faith, more a sense of disappointment with some who are in the family. I’ve been through enough, seen enough, that I know what I believe. I hoped that our neighbours to the south would come to their senses, and that Christians would be at the vanguard of those clear-eyed people who saw Trump for the charlatan he is. But neither of those things happened.

As Christians, we’re called to reach the lost, and this choice has built another metaphorical wall (appropriate, given Trump’s fondness for them), another hurdle for us to clear in that mission. There are people in the United States who are genuinely afraid of the next four years, women, minorities, people of different genders and orientations who saw the hate and fear that Trump played on, and see his election as an endorsement of those things. My heart breaks for them. As Christians, we failed them, and I don’t know how we can reconcile that. There are real consequences for the choice that was made, and there should be a lot of Christians doing some soul searching, and seeing if the choice they made actually squares with what they claim to believe.


The seventh inning

Bottom 7th, 6-3 Blue Jays – Jose Bautista hits a home run, Ryan Goins scores, Josh Donaldson scores.

I gripped the arm of the couch, impossibly tense. One more inning, I’d told myself. Then I would go see my girlfriend. Yeah, that went well.

I couldn’t remember ever feeling like this. At home, in my living room, my brother watching with me, I was gripped by this game, this dumb sport that I’d followed and enjoyed for years. I was anxious. But the good kind of anxious. The anxiety that comes from being certain something good was going to happen, and wanting it so bad. Of being invested in something with so many other people, and knowing you’ll share it with them when it goes well.

I wanted the Jays to win. I needed it to happen. The season, the excitement, everything that I’d seen and experienced as a fan, had led up to this. So close to it all ending a couple days before, and even forty minutes prior, when the Jays had gone down on a bizarre play.

I didn’t know it then, but I’d seen so many things that inning that I’d never seen before, and would likely never see again. But I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking about dinner, with my girlfriend- I was already late because of this inning, this wonderful inning, with so many ups and downs, elation and heartbreak, everything that makes being a sports fan exhilarating and depressing all rolled into one. I was on the edge, wrung out. But I still needed *more*.

Jose Bautista swung, the Rogers Centre erupted in a deafening roar, the cameras shaking as he circled the bases because it was so loud in the stadium. I jump up off the couch, almost screaming as I pump my fist. I enjoy the moment. I relish in it. The culmination of so many moments I’d had as a fan, and the build-up of that incredibly long, impossible to describe seventh inning.

But I had to go. I had dinner plans with my girlfriend, and I’d already mentioned I was going to be late. I loved the Jays, but she was more important. “Ballgame,” I say to Dennis, confident and certain of a Jays win, smiling as I pulled on my coat haphazardly. “See you later.”

End 6th, 2-2

I haven’t worked for a while. It’s a problem, sometimes. People say, “What do you do?” or “How’s work?” and I have to find a right way to say that I quit my job because I didn’t like it. I didn’t have a plan. Maybe I should have. Maybe that would have helped.

I felt like I didn’t have a lot going for me, back in October. Baseball helped. It was an escape, something fun, somewhere I could go and not have to dwell on how much I felt like I’d failed, or how frightened I was about an uncertain future, or how much I’d been defined by being a banker, and how not having that definition made even the slightest conversation incredibly awkward.

My family, my girlfriend, they stood behind me, even when I couldn’t quite figure out why. I’m always anxious, always unsure of myself, and they wouldn’t let it happen. So when I got excited about the Blue Jays, about them having success for the first time in twenty years, they indulged me. They let me have it, let me enjoy it, let me escape to it.

Top 7th, 3-2 Rangers – Roughned Odor scores on an error.

This wasn’t in the plan. In life, as in baseball, you see things you’d never seen before. And I’d brought that to my doorstep, by leaving a job I’d been at for several years. I brought it on myself, without a net, without knowing what would happen next.

It was Odor that scored the run. Of course it was Odor. He’d been torturing the Jays the whole series, and scored on the most bizarre play I’d ever seen. Aaron Sanchez makes the pitch, Martin casually throws it back, it bounces off Shin-Soo Choo’s bat, and he alertly comes home from third.

I was in a dark place as the umps tried to figure it all out, each minute of them in a headset making the inevitable result agonizing. It can’t end like this. Not on a fluke play, something that no one on either team knew quite how to handle. Don’t let them lose here. It was dumb to be that invested in it as a fan (really, it’s dumb to be that invested in anything as a fan), but in the moment, I was. I needed this.

Bottom 7th, 3-2 Rangers – Russell Martin reaches on an error.

Karma isn’t a thing in life. You don’t get or deserve anything because of something you did in the past. There’s no cosmic balance, nothing to tip the scales in your favor. You do good for good’s sake.

The idea of starting over somewhere else is inevitable now. I’ll have to prove myself to new people, demonstrate how capable I am of doing the job. And I can do it, really. I know that, somewhere deep in my heart. But I get anxious in showing people that. Maybe the fear’s good, though. Maybe I’ll learn something new. That’s the exciting part.

It was Russell Martin who bore the primary blame for Odor scoring, so him reaching on the error by Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was somewhat karmic. Martin said after the game that he hoped he’d get another chance, and he made the most of it. The Rogers Centre woke up, cheering mightily as Martin crossed the base.

Bottom 7th, 3-2 Rangers – Kevin Pillar reaches on an error, Russell Martin to second base. Dalton Pompey in to pinch-run for Russell Martin.

There was no logical or rational reason why I quit. I didn’t love the job, sure, but no one likes their job all the time. That’s not a thing that happens. But I needed to. It was the right thing to do, in my mind. I can’t justify it or explain it. I had to take that chance, and now, I just need to keep plugging away, putting my name out there until I get one break.

The Jays quickly got another break, with a ground ball going to Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland. His throw to second bounced, and Andrus (remember him?) couldn’t handle it. I had a hard time blaming the shortstop for that one- he was culpable on the Martin play, but this one, it was on Moreland.

The Rogers Centre got louder. I’d never heard it that loud, in all the Jays games I’d watched. Something special was happening. We were all sure of it. The Canadian, Dalton Pompey, came in to pinch-run for the catcher, drawing even more cheers.

Bottom 7th, 3-2 Rangers – Ryan Goins reaches on an error, Dalton Pompey to third base, Kevin Pillar to second base.

I thought it was loud when Pillar got one base. It got louder when Goins got on too. He bunted down the third base line, and I felt my heart sink as Adrian Beltre fielded it, turned, and threw to third to get the lead runner- it was perfect. He’d made the right play.

And then Andrus dropped it.

Even in the moment, as the elated fan in me lost his mind and jumped and cheered in the house, I felt bad for Andrus. He was normally a great defensive player, and had been involved in all three gaffes by the Rangers that inning. Two of them he just flat-out dropped.

That had been a problem, at work- I felt things too keenly, couldn’t separate what I needed to do from what I wanted to do. I’d sell, and feel terrible about it, and then not sell as much as I needed to. I wasn’t a salesman. Not as good as they wanted me to be, and not good enough to avoid feeling anxious about the work when I left the office.

Right then, I was glad I wasn’t Elvis Andrus, surrounded by disappointed teammates, and fifty thousand fans in a deafening dome, failures right in front of me. I’d dwelled enough on mine already.

Bottom 7th, 3-2 Rangers – Ben Revere to first on fielder’s choice, Kevin Pillar to third base, Ryan Goins to second base. Dalton Pompey out at home.

Another heart-stopping moment when Ben Revere slashed a one-hopper right to the first baseman. Double play, I think to myself, already feeling despair at the Jays not scoring a run.

The throw went home, and Pompey took the legs out from under the catcher as he slid in, preventing a throw to first. While the hope was the Jays would score, this was not the worst outcome, given what Revere had done.

Rangers manager Brian Bannister emerged from the dugout, and I felt my heart blacken again, recalling the agonizing seventh inning. Was he really going to try and say Pompey had prevented the double play? If the umpires overturned this, they were probably going to need a police escort to get to the airport, I joked to Dennis at the time, darkly.

The play stood, and the Jays still had the bases loaded, and still hadn’t scored a run. The doubts started to come back: maybe something special wasn’t happening. They could still lose the game.

Bottom 7th, 3-3 – Josh Donaldson singles to right field. Kevin Pillar scores, Ryan Goins to third base. Ben Revere out at second.

I doubted myself enough, I didn’t need to be unemployed to have THAT particular problem. But when you don’t have that thing that defines you, they creep in, taking up residence in a mind that doesn’t have anything else to occupy it.

I’ve found that I feel better when I’m connecting with people: girlfriend, family, friends, people I hadn’t seen in a while. I haven’t been good at that while I’ve not been working. I need to be better. I need to keep at it. I’ll get there. I’ll contribute, be the man everyone else thinks I am. And it’s okay to ask for help from others to get there.

Baseball is weird, in that it’s both an individual sport, and a team one. You need a team to be successful, but it’s individual skills that make a team great. The Jays had many great players, but it was the players being great together that drove them as far as they’d gotten. Get on base, and let others drive you in. You needed both of those things.

Even with the bases loaded, and the American League MVP at the plate, I was nervous. What if it didn’t happen? What if Josh Donaldson grounded into a double play, and snuffed the rally? I couldn’t bear the thought. But the cynical fan, the one who’d seen Jays teams fail repeatedly, nagged at the back of my mind and wouldn’t let go.

Donaldson hit a soft liner, and I was sure it was going to be caught. But it wasn’t. It landed just past the outstretched glove of Odor, and the Rogers Centre again became deafening. The TV guys had to yell to be heard as Pillar crossed the plate, tying the game.

It’s a process: you can’t skip a step. You can’t stop working at it. And you shouldn’t give up hope. Because sometimes, something amazing would happen. I need to remember that, as I keep searching, keep trying to find my place.

Top 9th, 6-3 Blue Jays – Will Venable strikes out. Blue Jays win 6-3.

I arrived at my girlfriend’s house with the game still going, profusely apologizing for being late. And there she was, with her sister, trying to find the game on their TV, so I could watch the end.

It’s hard for a man who gets stuck in his own head to talk about how he feels, but that moment, for whatever reason, really affected me. That she, who honestly wouldn’t care about baseball save for my interest in it, was indulging it, encouraging me in it. Letting me enjoy it, in a time I didn’t feel like I had much else.

But in that moment, I knew what I felt was incredibly wrong. I don’t have a job, sure. I have my brother, who let me exult and despair in the turmoil of the seventh inning, and encourages me as I seek out my place. I had my friends, some of whom I’d put off, embarrassed by my situation. I needed to be a better friend myself. I’m working on it.

I have my family, unwavering and supportive, letting me search and discover, continually reminding me that yes, I’m good at things. And I have my girlfriend, the invisible rock behind the snarky writer you see here. She didn’t care that I was late, or distracted, or emotionally wrung out after “one more inning” turned into 40 minutes and being late for dinner. She cared enough to try and find the end of the game, to let me have this stupid, wonderful, fanatical interest, even share it with me.

So I don’t give up. I won’t give up. I’ll be down sometimes, sure, but I’ll keep plugging, keep finding what I’m meant to do. Because I’ll see something I haven’t seen before, do something I haven’t done, and it will be great.

The end of the rainbow

You’re now thirsty, walking in the desert all alone

You’re now searching, lost in isolation from your soul


I’m not a fighter. Never have been, for all the good and bad that meant. A couple of spots in elementary school I was close to throwing down, but it was typically in defense of others, rather than any wrong done to me. It never happened (much to my parents’ relief, no doubt).

I have this romantic notion of myself as a defender, as someone just and true, stepping in when needed and taking the hits, and that’s not completely right. I’m a softie at heart, and there’s not much sense complaining about that at this point. I avoid conflict. That’s not an admission, that’s just a fact.

But there’s a strength in softness I’ve come to appreciate. It’s a vulnerability, an open sore that anyone can see and poke at and prod if I let them.

It was, in some ways, the aversion to conflict, the want to be vulnerable, that led to me writing these screeds some time ago, about where my heart was in regards to the Christianty/LGBT conflict. The genesis of me starting the journey to this truth was wanting to avoid a workplace conflict. It’s strange and laughable to think of that as the reason now, but I’m so incredibly grateful it happened.

Recent events have brought that back into my consciousness, the conflict starting fresh, and anew. I think I know what the Bible says. I think I know what the Bible means. And they’re in conflict.

And as before, I don’t want to fight. I never want to fight. But playing defense? That I can do.


And the bullets you bite, from the pain you request

you’re finding them harder to digest

when the answers you seek are the ones you destroy

your aim is well deployed


I don’t question my faith. I’ve seen too much, done too much, to not think there is a God.

I was asked about it recently: How could I reconcile a certainty that being LGBT is okay with a faith that seemed to be against it?

I had two answers: I need the church. Without it, I walk alone in my faith. And as much as I believe we’re wrong about how we approach LGBT people, I also believe there is still good in the church, and its people. And when it changes- and it will, as history has shown with any societal change with the rights of a marginalized people- they will need people who’ve always known, always been certain in their hearts.

So I read, and pray, and seek certainty in what I believe. In the interim, I will love my LGBT friends, walk behind them and beside them, listen in my own limited adult-white-male way as they struggle for things that I have had my entire life.

Much as Christians are called to support our LGBT brothers and sisters wherever they are, we must support the church as well. A church is only as good as it’s people, and we are flawed, collectively and individually. That occasionally gets lost in the sound and fury. Our own fault, at times, but something that bears repeating.


Why can’t you listen, why can’t you hear

Why can’t you listen, as love screams everywhere


It just… it all seems very odd, at times, this conflict. We (Christians) can get so caught up in ideology, in playing gatekeeper to the faith, that we forget the message we should be passing on.

“Jesus loves you.” There. That’s it. No conditions, no strings, no checklist of approved clothing, behaviors, things we need to do to get it. It’s there. That’s the message of grace. There’s more, but like any good salesmen, I’ll lead with the best, most important part. The rest, that’s up to someone after they accept it. That’s between them and God.

LGBT people don’t see that when they see the church. They see the assumption of guilt, rejection, hatred, and people trying to change who they are. I don’t blame them for avoiding church, given the conversations I’ve had, the experiences I’ve learned about, the amount of heartbroken people whose family turned their backs on them in the name of Jesus. Christians, supposed to be showing love, instead demonstrating the kind of rejection Pharisees would have approved of.

We can go on and on about the message of God, about how not every church is like that, about we love them even if they’re wrong (they’re not), but why would they try again? Why would they go to a place where they were implicitly being judged? I only need to go McDonalds once a year to remember how much my body hates it.


You now hunger, feeding your mind with selfishness

you now wander aimlessly around your consciousness

When your prophecies fail, when your thoughts become weak

when silence creates necessity

when you’re clothing yourself with the shields of despair

your courage now impaired


I still believe in the good of the church. That it will change, and that when it does, it will be lasting. Maybe that’s naive. It probably is. But that’s my choice to be hopeful.

There’s a great many relationships that have helped me get here. And that’s key. Relationship is key. It lets us learn about the perspectives of others, turn the idea of being gay/lesbian/bisexual from something abstract and strange, into something very, very real. There’s so much ignorance about the reality of those relationships in the church, because there’s no exposure to them. It was luck that put me in a situation where I got to know a bisexual man, and then many others, to a point where I understood their hearts, and didn’t judge them based on a doctrine that the church doesn’t really talk about within it’s walls.

Equally as important is my relationship with God, and that’s tricky for me to talk about. It’s less tangible, less defined, not a series of events I can point to and utilize as reasoning. It’s always been there. It’s been a huge part of this discovery for me, because of the conflict I see between the church and LGBT people. I pray to God for wisdom, for certainty, and He does not always provide that. I’m sure that He is there, and He grieves over the schism between the church and those outside it.  I’m also sure he doesn’t want me to quote Scripture and get on a soapbox and preach down to people. I have to play to my strengths.

I’m not a pastor, and still look at the Bible more for my own benefit than as an academic. But here’s my line of thought, which I’ve written before (and is taken at least partially from NALT’s manifesto): There’s so much of the Bible that we already take and dismiss because of the cultural context it’s placed in: Divorce, eating meat, wearing mixed fabrics, and so on and so forth. Heck, even marriage in the Old Testament was not exactly the same as it is today. And we’ve seen the Bible used to justify racism and sexism in the past, by using verses out of context, in the service of those who held power.

As the shampoo bottle says: Rinse, and repeat. Always repeat. We’re not learning from the lessons of history. And the church will find itself again behind the culture at large on this, when we should have been following Biblical principles in fighting for LGBT people- regardless of whether it was any advantage to us. We used to be good at that. Less so, now.

That’s a royal we, by the way. I’ve been less than courageous. I’d like to be courageous, though. I’d like to try.


You crucify all honesty

no signs you see, do you believe

And all your words just twist and turn with a fighting chance to crash and burn

you’re fighting to the bitter end if only your heart could open

up and listen


I’ve lived a sheltered life. There’s a lot I don’t understand. I’m a straight white male who hasn’t had to struggle for much. I have parents, family, a girlfriend, a church who loves me. I struggle for how I earned that, but don’t generally poke the bear in attempting to explain it. The love exists, and I don’t always know why, and that’s fine. As I’ve mentioned, there’s a lot I don’t understand.

Screeds on the internet rarely change anyone’s mind, and mostly just score points with people who already agree with it. My hope is that people read this, and consider it, and maybe that will happen. I just see this incredible opportunity for Christians to build a bridge to the LGBT community to say “we’re wrong, and we’re sorry, and want to help”, and there’s not nearly enough voices saying it. So here’s mine. I’m laying it out, as I see it. This is my vulnerability, my hope.

I’m not fighting. It’s not my way. I have one ask: just pray it over, friends. Be strong in your faith, and your walk, but don’t miss the opportunities for change and growth that are placed in front of you.

To my LGBT friends and supporters: I’m not a fighter, but I want to help. I’m learning, and I’m trying to understand a world I can’t possibly begin to conceive, and a life experience that’s much, much different than my own. Thank you for your patience as I’ve learned, and to the wonderful friends I’ve met who have opened my eyes (whether they know it or not), and have convinced my religious butt that you’re people, actual and whole, and well worth fighting for and with.

Plan to improvise

I’m playing sax again. This is a great development. Music has been a quiet joy for me for quite some time, and to have it back in my life in a place where I’m using it is super cool.

I play off and on, at church, and it’s at once strange and awesome. Sax doesn’t usually fit into your typical rock-bandy set-up that churches use: guitar, drums, keys, vocals, and whatnot. That’s been the problem, and the barrier.

I remember the first time I’d lent my services as a windbag was when I was in a youth group in Ontario. They asked if I needed music, and I waved them off. “No, I don’t need it.” Was it bravado? Avoiding conflict? Or the belief that I could do it? All of it, probably.


I’ve described Kari as “relentlessly practical”, and I do so with the highest of affection (and a little playful teasing, at worst). She has a good budget, plans her meals, and is not terribly indulgent with her extra money. This has been something of a boon for me, as I’ve not needed to spend to excess to sustain the relationship.

I recall a point early on in our relationship, probably a few months in. I was at her apartment, while she made dinner. There was a list on her fridge. I looked it over: entrees, desserts, of different varieties. She’d made a list of things that she might cook for me at some point.

To say I was floored when I first saw the list would be an understatement. She was so on top of her life that she wanted to know what she was making, and put in the work before I got there. I was always impressed with her cooking: not just the quality, but the planning, the effort. And every time, there was more with it. Each piece of the dinner had a place: a protein, a vegetable, a starch, a dessert that went with it.

As we went, and she made things on the list, she scratched them off, as if concerned to have them again (which, the majority of the time, I was not, since she is an excellent cook). But as much as the meal itself, it was the planning, the thought, the care in picking that impressed me. I was never so precise.


It was the Ontario experience that honed my want to improvise. Without sheet music, you learned to listen and pick up things. It usually took me a couple of trips through a song, and I would have something figured out. Sometimes it worked. Others it didn’t.

And so it happened, off and on over years, that I would join various church musical teams, preferring that to organized band-like groups, which erred a little too close to high school for me. I liked a sound that I would actually listen to. I liked being part of a smaller group, on stage. And there was a little part of me that enjoyed it when I surprised skeptics with making a “doodling sax” fit in with an otherwise straightforward musical outfit.

But you learn, and adapt. Many smarter people than me have honed the instinct, to not just play and riff and do what I want, but to come and go, to really use it when I join in, and not stomp on the rest of the band. This took a lot of time for me to really learn and appreciate. Part of that was not often having the opportunity, but now, playing more often, I can relax, and let it go, really get into what I’m doing.

Now, we’ve got a guy who has an orchestral background, and even has music for me when I join in. A younger version of me would have missed being off the leash, being able to do what I want, but the older me can lay back and enjoy it more.


Dennis and I rarely plan meals prior to the day of said meal, and such was usually the case when I cook for Kari, which has been more common of late. I’d be ashamed to admit how often it was a couple of hours before she came over, I’d wander over to the grocery store, looking for inspiration.

I’ve gotten better at that, and more than a little of that is her influence on me. She has health and practicality on her mind when she makes meals, and that’s a really good, grounded perspective to have. I guess I never really needed to, when it was just me to worry about.

But it’s not just me any more. If I want a life that includes someone else, I need to think about it. I don’t get to walk through the grocery store, waiting for the perfect idea to hit me before dinner. And that’s probably better.

I chuckle when she calls me a good cook, and this is why: I’m just making it up as I go, usually. She works. She puts the effort in, and deserves it. I believe that I don’t, sometimes.


I’m looking for a new job now. That’s a little scary. A few months ago, it wasn’t part of the plan. Maybe it should have been. But sitting back and letting things happen, or riffing my way through, isn’t an option anymore. Not that this is bad.

A couple of years from now, this will be the best thing that happened to me, I think. Right now, it’s a little scary. I’m not a banker any more. And that’s fine. I made that choice, and in some ways, I feel better than I have in years.

Gun to my head, I would have said I didn’t like banking. There were parts of the job that got me through: good clients, putting people in better financial situations, helping friends in the rare situation I could do that. But I couldn’t sell. I couldn’t handle conflict as well as I wanted to. There were anxieties that stayed with me when I went home, gnawed at me through the night, and weighed on me as I approached the door to work in the morning, and I couldn’t deal with them.

I was coasting on my natural talent, making it up as I went, being a “good guy” who people liked, but not genuinely planning or applying myself to be the best I could be. And that wasn’t right for them, or for me. So I quit. It wasn’t practical, or correct, or planned, but I did it anyway.

I keep thinking of how much of life so far has just been me improvising on the fly, just making it up as I go. The further I go into adulthood, the more I’m convinced It’s all that way. You can’t plan for everything. But sometimes, I wished I’d planned more, or better. Improvisation can be skill, and I’m thankful I have it. But sometimes, a good plan really helps too.

Venus and mars

I wanted to talk about feminism, how my views have changed over the last several months, and how the discussion changed me. Usual warnings: I’m far from an expert, and always learning. Any

The genesis of this was on Twitter, of all places. I started reading some posts forwarded by my followers, and engaging the more active of them in conversations. I was intrigued, if somewhat guarded. Some of it was too far for me.

I thought I was alright. I was a good guy. I didn’t support abuse of any fashion. I respected women. I supported feminism, to a point- equality, great! I was on board with all of that. I didn’t care for the more militant “man-hating” branches, and saw some of what I perceived to be double standards in the way feminists approached things. Or that every little thing seemed to be an insult to women. Cripes, that got tiresome.

But as an open minded sort, I wanted to read and learn, and indulged some discussion and literature. I read, and occasionally was told, that I was doing it wrong. That my thinking, what I talked about, how I approached things, still wasn’t good enough. That I was missing why women were slighted, and not understanding the larger issues that women face in all aspects of life.

That really annoyed me initially. I’m a quiet, thoughtful sort, and tend to think of myself as respectful and gentlemanly. My thinking was that I was ALREADY being a “nice guy“, and having a hard time with women- I still had to do more? Were women really as oppressed as they thought? Was it really worthwhile to pick arguments over speech/situation as much as they were? Or was I right? Were they taking it too far?

It wasn’t an overnight sea change. But it was something partially influenced by past frustration with relationships, where I’d tried to avoid conflict rather than address the issue. I engaged in some discussions with smarter people in both genders, and tried to come to terms with why I felt the way I did, and why feminist ideas provoked defensive reactions in me.

Those people who told me I was doing it wrong: they were right. I’d made my frustration, and the woman’s viewpoint of it, the focus. I was viewing it through my own lens, rather than attempting to understand theirs. In my attempts to be gentlemanly, and my frustration with relationships, I’d missed a more important point in dealing with women in general. It’s not just about me: it’s about them too.

It came to a head for me after I’d posted something on Facebook that dealt with rape, and the reactions to it were split almost entirely along gender lines. A lot of it was about how women often feared men who were strangers. I’m generalizing the reactions, but they were mostly like this: Men didn’t understand why women felt that way, and women supported it entirely. I wasn’t surprised by the split, even as the strength of the reactions fascinated me. The lady deigned to discuss it with me later, when we were out eating.

The discussion was excellent, and there was an exchange of ideas that I’ve come to relish in talking with anyone, and especially with her. She reaffirmed a lot of my thinking, and was glad that I’d come to an understanding of why women thought the way they did.

She admitted that before meeting me for the first time, she’d texted someone with the information on where we were going, and then again when she’d gotten home. This floored me: why would anyone need to do that? I’d never done that, or felt the need to.

But from her perspective, there was a logic to it. She didn’t know me. I wasn’t Dave Church, “nice guy” and mild mannered citizen, I was a mostly-unknown male who might be stronger, more powerful, and with malicious intent. As a woman, she was vulnerable, in a way that I never will be. And that was the kicker: she was a woman, so of course it wasn’t going to be the same for her as for me.

Her experiences and perceptions are different. She will be evaluated more on her appearance than her capability, will be held to a higher standard of conduct, will be paid less than me for a lot of jobs, and needs to be cautious walking alone outside at night, or meeting strange men for the first time. Yes, not all men were going to harass her, but some women feel afraid when they don’t know that man. It wasn’t about me. It was about her.

Repeating for emphasis: it wasn’t about me. It was about her.

I spoke of my own journey, from a place of frustration and defensiveness to a point where I wanted to learn more, and be challenged. I admitted that I had really never thought of that- of a lot in relationships, and life- in the terms that women had. I, and a lot of other men, had made that mistake. A classic Venus/Mars scenario. But having that realization, and discovering that empathy for women, really made the rest of it fall into place. It all made sense. This was why women were fighting. And I felt like an idiot for not seeing it before.

Being a feminist didn’t mean hating men either. Really, the same stereotypes that keep women down, also paint men in an unflattering light. Think back to my frustration, where I thought I was owed something by women because of my own struggles in establishing relationships. That was a disservice to the women (who felt the blunt end of my frustration), but also to myself as well. Wasn’t I better than that? Aren’t men better than expecting something from women for being nice to them. Aren’t we smarter than that? Aren’t we able to support women, not just in matters of equality, but in how we speak/act/think? I think we are, gentlemen.

This is important to me because I feel like there’s a middle ground to find (and that is my nature). At least some of the problem is miscommunication, and the different perspectives that both genders have leading to taking things the wrong way, and often extrapolating to an inaccurate extreme. Feminists don’t hate men- they hate that women’s rights and values aren’t taken as seriously as men’s. And I know that men don’t often “get” women, and react defensively to the mere concept of feminism because they believe it infringes on what they want to do.

I know I have friends who are frustrated with relationships and women, and can relate to that because I’ve been there.. Having success in a relationship has helped my perspective, as well as being with someone who supports me, and lets me support them. It’s unfortunate that it took feeling good about myself in that context to get there, but that’s often the way of life. We don’t always have that “aha” moment until it’s framed in a context that makes sense for us. And here’s the other reason for a relatively peacemaking post: if we go into an exchange thinking it will be adversarial, then guess what, it will be. And that’s not productive for anyone.

There’s still lots of ground to be made for equality, and I want to continue to learn and grow in how I perceive things, but  think some of the fight now for feminism is in culture, and perception, and establishing that foothold will hopefully make the other societal changes easier. As a man, I have it pretty good. I’ll probably never be more than a theoretical activist, but my voice and perception is important, because it affects everything I do. If I can help my fellow men see the good in feminism, that’s a win.

Ultimately, it’s not about how I see things, it’s about how women see it. And how women see things, understand things, and experience things is way, way different than I do. I need to listen to that. There are challenges I will never have, fears I will never face, and though I will never understand it fully, I again have to listen and learn. Understanding is a wonderful thing, and will help your relationships with women. It’s helped how I view men as well, and what I expect out of myself as a man who wants to help the process along.  I’m still learning, and I know It will take time. But I think we can get there, if we want to.

To reinforce: What’s the best thing we can do, fellas? Listen to women. Listen to their experiences. Walk alongside them. Don’t judge, or tell them they’re wrong/angry/dumb. LISTEN. Saying “listen” is ironic, given that I just wrote a roughly 1500 word post of my own experience. But this was for me. I wanted to talk about my journey, and why/how I think they way I do about women. I hope you got something out of it.

Pet shop boys

“Can you play with the puppy for a bit?”

If Kari was facing me when she said that, she’d have seen the momentary flash of “Cripes, what do I do?” cross my face as I stared down at the tiny, grey, four-legged, excited, tail-wagging being in front of me.

I’m not a dog person. I’ve never been a dog person. I’m not entirely certain why this is the case. Some combination of fear and misunderstanding, having never had dogs growing up, never being around them. Or maybe I’d had a bad experience with a dog as a kid and it just stayed with me. I couldn’t tell you, because I don’t know.

Kari was house-sitting for some people a while back, mostly because said people had a small puppy who needed someone there. She is a dog person, by any definition. She loves most dogs. She had one growing up, and had pictures of that dog around her apartment when I went over there.  She was good with them, in a way I’d seen others be, knowing just how to communicate, and her concern shows when she’s around them.

This dog, Pepsi (named by a little kid, clearly), didn’t seem to care that I had no idea how to respond to Kari’s question. Her tail was wagging, wanting SOMEONE to play with her. Kari was making dinner, and didn’t want the dog waiting around for scraps while she did. I wasn’t doing anything.

There was one problem with her ask: I really didn’t know much about dogs.


Dennis got home from work yesterday, and came downstairs to greet me. This was fine, in and of itself, and not that unusual. His next statement, however, was.

“This is gonna sound weird… there’s a dog outside our door.”

I don’t remember what I was doing at the computer, but I stopped. “What?” I asked, more out of disbelief than missing what he’d said. “Where?”

Dennis told me, and we went outside. A tiny little rat-like dog, shivering in a corner of our deck, next to the house.

There was probably a similar moment of panic between us when that happened, our collective ignorance of dogs freezing us. But it was clear: we should get him inside.

Dennis got on the horn to 311 to see what our next step was, and I tried to lure the shivering dog inside. I tried to grab him at first, shift him around to see if he was okay. He seemed to be favouring one of his legs initially, and I was worried he was really hurt.

I thought of Kari, of all the things she did, and had told me about dogs. “It’s okay,” I said, softly, as if the dog could understand me. “Come on in.” I tried motioning my hands first, and then stepping back into the house, into the warmth, hoping it would entice him.

The dog eventually got up, and bounded inside, going up the stairs into the kitchen as if it were his home. Dennis didn’t need the report; he heard rather than saw the black ball of fur move. Without knowledge, the next move was safe, and obvious. The blanket was my idea, the water was his.



Kari house-sat more than once over the fall and winter (because dogs), and I got some experience helping her walk them. It actually worked out well: it was a good excuse for us to get outside during the evening, if we were hanging out during the week. And small dogs are kind of hilarious.

One time, she had a place with TWO dogs, so we split the duty. She got the excitable one of the two. My main contribution was being able to hold a leash.

One of the things I resolved to do over the last couple years- in this relationship, or whenever- was to be more open-minded. I thought I would try to apply it to me not being a “dog person”. I didn’t really know dogs. I was afraid of them, on some level. Because I didn’t understand them.

I recall peppering Kari with questions about dogs, both at the house and as we went on the walks: etiquette, right things to do, when to pull the leash and when to let ’em go. She was patient and open, telling me what to do to let the dogs get to know me, and really breaking down several years of not knowing anything about how to handle myself around dogs. It makes sense: most people had been around dogs as kids, and really knew what to do. I didn’t.

Dennis and I had cats growing up, and being honest, we were very lucky. Our cats were personable, and loved people, which is very unusual for cats. Walking the dogs, being around them while Kari did her house-sitting, I started to understand how and why people could love them. I came to appreciate them myself, in some ways.


Kari was my first contact after getting the poor stray inside, and she had some good tips for us. Obvious stuff for dog owners, less obvious for us. Dennis got 311 on the case (animal control would be a couple of hours getting there, and would take the dog), and we speculated on the dog’s origins. He seemed old, and I thought he was hurt. We figured he was abandoned, though had nothing but our own suspicions to guide us.

Dennis had acted first, so I took point with our new guest. I thought back to the dog-walking with Kari, and the time with her that was shared with dogs while she was house-sitting. I tried to let him sniff me, get to know me (her words, on my phone, and in my head), but he was resistant. This was understandable: depending on how long he’d been outside,  or what he’d been through, he probably had reason to be reluctant. Though he had sought out a corner near our house, shielded from the wind.

Soft strokes and soft voices seemed to put him at ease. He stopped shivering for a bit, at least. We fed him a little bit of cheese, which seemed to perk him up, and he finally lapped at the water after leaving it for a while. I felt a weird kind of elation at this. We helped! Dennis and I helped!

Dennis took a turn minding him. He’d settled in the kitchen, and eventually left the blanket for the floor to sleep. I didn’t know why he’d left the soft blanket for the cold floor, but wasn’t going to question. If that’s what this poor guy wanted, we weren’t going to take that away from him.



So I kind of learned how to play with the puppy. Pepsi didn’t care about my lack of knowledge, thankfully; she was young and excited enough that I was giving her attention that how I did it didn’t seem to matter.

I came to enjoy it, and Pepsi even seemed to pick up on it when I came back to visit Kari: any time I was around, the dog wanted to play, and thought I did too. She wanted me to chase her, to toss toys, and came to recognize me. It was endearing.

I’d almost forgotten why people get pets. Dennis and I are so long separated from having cats that a lot of that experience was forgotten to me. The companionship, the love, and a connection that’s different from you get with people.

I started to understand dogs, too: why people like them, and want them, and in some cases prefer them over cats. My long-standing theory was that dogs were “lower-floor/higher-ceiling”, though I’d pondered revisiting that theory after my time with Kari while she was house-sitting. I wish I’d known before. I wish I’d understood before.

But part of life is understanding that things happen in their own time, and I know that it wouldn’t have been the same for me if I hadn’t come to that in this time. Or if it wasn’t someone like Kari, loving and patient and understanding as she is, who’d helped me come to that place.


Animal control arrived promptly, and Dennis and I did our best shrug as we tried to figure out how the dog had arrived on our doorstep. No, he didn’t have ID. Yes, he was just waiting in the corner when we got home. No, we have no idea how he got there. No, neither of us had any idea how to take care of a dog, and we’re very sorry if he hurts you or throws up or something.

We didn’t ACTUALLY say that last one, but we were both thinking it the whole time. If you were dropping a lost dog anywhere, on our doorstep is probably the last place that guy would want to be. Two guys who didn’t know much about dogs, and for the most part, didn’t care for them. Especially little dogs.

I think Dennis and I would both agree it was an interesting few hours, and that we felt strongly for this little guy who was (figuratively) dropped into our laps. We didn’t know why or how he’d gotten there, and talking today we were hoping that he found his home. Or a home, if he’d been abandoned.

I’m probably still not a “dog person”, but after my last few months, I can see how someone would be one. How they could work their way into your heart, and stay there, and how you could love them. Maybe whoever had this guy felt that, maybe they didn’t. I hope they, or someone else, does again.


The interview

I almost didn’t go. To the interview, I mean. For the job I have now.

This is hard for me to admit, and beyond laughable in hindsight. There’s no logical reason to why I would have done that. I’m occasionally slow to notice something good when it’s in front of me, and it wasn’t as if this wasn’t a blinking, red light of an opportunity. Financial advisor, at the bank. Closer to home, a move up, more challenges. All good things.

So let’s pull this back a bit. You probably need some background.

As the prior paragraph indicates, I work at a bank. I’ve mentioned it once or twice in the past. I work with customers as an advisor: bank accounts, credit, mortgages, investments, whatever. I’ve worked at mostly smaller branches so far, which is better for me. I get to do a lot of different things, and got to know clients and co-workers very well. It leveraged some of my strengths: being good with people, flexible, smart, figuring out systems and getting stuff done quickly.

I’ve always struggled with the “selling” aspect of it. If I didn’t truly believe something was the right thing for the person sitting across the desk from me, I couldn’t push it. I hated calling people, but I did it.

So when a few people in a few different areas of my life suggested interviewing for this job, I was reluctant initially. More “selling”, something I didn’t see myself as being good at. More responsibility. More pressure. Did I want that?


I had a week off. Around my birthday, every year, for no other reason than I liked taking it off. But even with the free time, it took a few days before I threw my name in the hat for this job. The same doubts kept creeping up, the same reluctance. It was sales, and that was a struggle for me.

But there was a lot of good here: it was closer to home. It would have some responsibilities that I enjoyed, and could potentially set me up for a leadership role. Get away from the selling eventually, if I did good. And if I was being honest with myself, I felt stuck where I was. I loved the people, but I’d run my course there.

We set up the interview, on a Saturday. I was up late the Friday before, where I’d spent time on my resume, going through my results from the last year, my failures towering, staring me in the face as I clicked “send” to email my potential next manager.

Look at that. Those numbers are bad.

Why would she hire you? 

I was a bad salesman, which isn’t good when that’s the primary measure of your job. I was reluctant, or unmotivated, or unconfident. There was good: I was smart, good-natured, willing to help… just not getting the numbers.

There was some irony in my doubts in my own ability playing off the feeling of being stuck in my job. Two wrongs almost making a right. I eventually hit “send”, somewhere past midnight on the Friday.


Saturday morning came, and with it a weight that was almost crushing. The doubts were back, and they’d brought friends. Soothing voices, of routine, of not changing a routine that had a certain comfort, if not enjoyment.

Don’t go.

Cancel the interview.

Tell her you changed your mind. You don’t need this.

I was close to it. The interview was at noon, and I sat in bed between 9 and 11, my mind closing in on itself. It had been a long time since I’d felt so weighed down.

I’m a Christian, and that means I accept there are forces beyond my control. So what were these doubts? Why was my mind trying to tell me not to go, to stay in bed, to just continue muddling along in a job I mostly tolerated? Was it chemical? Something I’d eaten? Or something exterior?

Whatever it was, I managed to shake it off. A cold shower, my best suit, a good tie, and a deep breath got me to the door.



The short drive to the branch was probably good. It didn’t give my doubts time to mass for another assault on my psyche.

I interview well. This was something I was good at in my job: people like me, for whatever reason, and I tend to make a good impression. It made my struggles all the more perplexing to prior bosses. I get that.

I was honest with my potential new boss. I’d struggled with the work. I was a project, in some ways. She’d be rolling the dice with me. But I wanted to be good. I wanted to find that magical middle ground: Where I could do the sales part of the job, and have it be something I was good at. I just needed some help to get there.

I had to avoid laughing, at parts of the interview. She was talking like I was already there, like she was going to hire me, like I was going to be some essential component of her team, leading and mentoring and doing great. There were moments I wanted to stand up and shake her. The thoughts, the doubts, were said, and lingering for me, just below the surface.

Why? Why would you hire me?

But she didn’t see it that way. She had the benefit of experience, of objectivity. She didn’t see my analytical mind, swimming in its own uncertainty, trapped on the bed, ready to pick up the phone and call the whole thing off. Her certainty emboldened me, made me sure I’d done the right thing.

I walked out of the interview certain I was going to have a new job soon. I felt excited about work, for the first time in as long as I could remember. The weight, the doubts, the failures, didn’t matter.

There’s a lot of work to do. I want to get better. I want to improve. I wanted to bottle that feeling, and keep it for the times I felt stressed, for the times I felt weighed down by the same uncertainty I had then. But change, challenge, new work… it was something I was looking forward to. But excitement? At work? That was unfamiliar.

All that, from an interview I almost didn’t go to.