Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Does God Care If I Eat Chocolate Ice Cream (Part 2)

Does God Care If I Eat Chocolate Ice Cream (Part 2)

Picture yourself sloughing through the line in your dining hall at school (work, camp, wherever, use your imagination). All afternoon, you’ve wanted chocolate ice cream. Your overwhelming desire for a chocolate treat is stymied when as you arrive the last scoop is scraped from the bottom of the container. The people behind the counter promise more in the very near future. And your hankering will not be ignored. So you wait. And as you wait you strike up a conversation. Your conversation reveals a similar destination after dinner, (a guest speaking at a lecture, perhaps?) to which you walk together. You’re introduced by your ice cream buddy to a group of people, one of whom shares your field of study. You share classes. Over the course of your time together, you grow to love one another. You’re off onto an adventure to happily ever after.
So, if you hadn’t stuck around for the ice cream, you’d have missed the person, who introduced you to the classmate, who brought you love. How does this penchant for ice cream fit into God’s grand design? And if it doesn’t, were we really supposed to meet?

O.K. So the hypotheticals are always fun but let’s run down a real live scenario.

2001- I write my first entirely voluntary short narrative for a writing contest, a surrealist piece where people can battle with music.

2002- A spritely 60 something substitute teacher in my AP American History class, flails about, coffee in hand, going on about the nature of history as fact and story. Almost frightening in his enthusiasm for learning I learned more that day than in the rest of the class. And despite seeing him from a distance across hallways and through classroom doors, throughout my entire time in high school we never speak again.

2003- My friend’s mom mentions a new coffee shop in downtown Canton. Muggswigz proves to have the finest tea selection I’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s beautiful. And I evangelize the daylights out of the place. I drag every willing person there; and even the odd unwilling person. Regular game nights, meetings, pretty much everything could be held there.

2005- I apply for a job in the banquets department of the Marriott McKinley Grand Hotel, setting up and tearing down rooms for events. After a quick chat with the woman behind the desk, I ask to whom, “Attn:” should be given. “Well, I’m actually the manager of the front office. I could use a personality like yours.” And just like that, I’m a bellman.

The Marriott McKinley Grand Hotel provides the background for the most absurd roller coaster of sexual identification and misidentification in my entire life. A stack of funny stories start to pile up and I become a hit at parties, “the almost but not really gay man.”

2008- Living with another guy in a tent, to teaching dance, to being stalked for weeks, my stories begin overflowing my memories. I start writing down my adventures.  

2009- The pile of notes, stories and ideas is not close to being a book. I start a blog to get a sense of accomplishment.
August 2011- After something of a slow spell, I read the incredible 33 Million People in the Room by Juliette Powell, and redouble my blogging efforts and focus.

October 2011- My blog revived I read, Everything YouNeed to Know About Blogging, the author’s idea of writing books for digital publishing in a effort to get attention to your sites, resonates with me, I start dusting off ancient notebooks and getting my book back in order.

 November 1st, 2011- Three days after reading the book, sitting in Muggswigz working on my writing, I see my quirky sub from history class, looking as spry as ever, and wonder if he’s still scaring the little highschoolers. That’s not what I said though. I asked him if he was still overwhelming the minds of the future. He laughed, and he told me that he was not. And though he didn’t remember me, he then asked me what may be the most off the wall question of my month (or more), “So, do you have anything that you’ve written that you’re looking to get published?”
WHAT?!? Who asks that? That’s the kind of timing reserved for the movies. Not even good movies, Deus ex machina, B movies, pull this kind of craziness. I stammered and stuttered,
“Actually, I’m working on a book right now.”  Why would he open such an odd line of inquiry? Oliver substitute is now OliverHouse Publishing. Back at his table, he proceeds to introduce me to his business partner, who loves my idea and excitedly. I receive an enthusiastic invitation to an event which the publishing house is having. After which, “if you like what you see. We can work out some details.”

Even if I don’t sign a huge book deal and become the next ______ (insert your favorite widely published, yet poignant and challenging author here), this was a very life affirming event. So, here goes.
I know that there is no way that I would have been able to engineer even half of those things in such a way as to achieve this result. I believe, and even like the idea, that God leant divine influence to the proceedings. And I am wildly appreciative.  But where does the “will of God” start? Was it a part of the plan that I went to Muggswigz, that hour? If I hadn’t said hi to Mr. Oliver would I have been in defiance to God? What about reading those books? Or having fun living the almost gay life? Or blogging? Or moving to DC? Or teaching dance? Or living in a tent? Or working at a hotel? Or being chatty with the person behind the counter? Or trying out the new place in downtown Canton? Or entering a story contest? And there’s no way I made myself have Mr. Oliver only once as a sub, in my three years.
So if I’m not acting to deliberately do these things, and God just seems to move them about, where do I actually fit in?