No free rides for left-turners (or things I need to get used to in Cheyenne)

(I’ve been meaning to post this for a couple of months, but haven’t gotten to it yet. But here it is.)

OK, so we’ve been in Cheyenne for about three months now and here are some things that I’ve found I need to get used to about being here.

1. Everyone is so nice here

Yeah, I said it. I believe people here are, for the most part, genuinely nice. People usually say what they’re thinking and don’t seem to be hiding their true thoughts to “be polite”. And it’s not just folks in the church. It’s people I meet every day here. Strangers are chatty and friendly. And helpful. My new neighbor, the first time he met me, took a few minutes of his time, before he and his wife had to go out, to help me with re-assembling my daughter’s swingset, loaning me tools in the process. I think it’ll take me a while before I’m not suspicious anymore. Or guarded.

2. The thin air

I’m sitting on the couch writing this and I’m out of breath. The high altitude and thinner oxygen kicked my butt the first couple of weeks here. I was just so tired. From what I understand, at lower altitudes, where there is plenty of oxygen in each breath I take, my red blood cells become quickly saturated with oxygen while traveling through my lungs. However, at higher altitudes, where the oxygen is less plentiful, I just don’t have enough blood cells passing through my lungs to pick up enough oxygen to feed my cells. Thus, I get winded and tired easily. As I live here for a while, my body will compensate by making more red blood cells so that the sheer numbers will be able to grab enough oxygen. Oh, and apparently it is making me pee more. Something about the way the body compensates for the lack of enough red blood cells. My wife and I started running several months ago, before we moved here and we’re continuing to run now, but we’ve had to take a step back in our progress because we’ve been so winded. It’s getting easier, but we’re still going to take it slow.

3. The low humidity

I am so happy about the low humidity that I hesitate to even mention it in this post. No more sweating while sitting in the shade! I barely even break a sweat when I go for my run. But, we’re learning not to ever go out of the house without taking some emergency water with us. Dehydration happens fast here. I was already a water nut before, but I’m finding that even that’s not enough now. So, I’m being vigilant. On the bright side, my hair dries before I even step out of the shower and we don’t really have to worry about mold and mildew.

4. The conservative politics

After living in a purple state that went for Obama in 2008, it’s weird to live in a state and city where finding a liberal sentiment is like an oasis in the desert. We were very excited today when we saw a sticker that said “Proud Wyoming Democrat”. And then we passed by the Democratic Headquarters on the way home. But from what I hear, the republicans here are more of the Libertarian flavor, which can be good and bad.

5. The left turn signals

Apparently, in Virginia, I was very privileged. When I stopped at a traffic light, I took it for granted that when I wanted to turn left, I would be the first allowed to proceed, before the oncoming traffic. But in Wyoming, I have been humbled. Here, forward-driving traffic is allowed to proceed first, and left-turners are forced to wait their turn and hope they can make it through before the light turns, all the while being taunted by a flashing yellow arrow. It gets iffy during busy times. Actually, I’ve found that during certain times of day the pattern changes and left-turners actually get a green arrow, but it’s not always certain. I think it might be a reflection of the politics. ;0)

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“Daddy, am I going to die?”

I think most parents must have heard this question, at one time or another, asked innocently, as their children begin to explore and understand their own mortality.

But when asked, between gasped breaths, with fear in her eyes, I think there is nothing a parent wouldn’t give for a magic wand to make everything better. Continue reading

Cowgirl up!

OK, so it’s been what? Six months since I wrote anything here? Sorry about that. At first it was because I had joined the Occupy movement and was focusing my energy on that. Then it was my involvement with the Occupy movement combined with helping my wife find another job. Then it was just inertia born of being away from it too long. Well, my wife has a job (yay! and more on that in a minute), and therefore we are both weening ourselves from the local Occupy. The inertia is still threatening to keep me away from here, so I figured I’d better write something just to prime the pump. Continue reading

The revolution will not be televised…

The revolution will not be televised.So, the Occupy Wall Street protest has grown exponentially across the country and around the world. As it became apparent to me that this was not a fleeting thing and that people had finally had enough and are ready to fight for real change, I have become swept up in it as well. I’m finding that this is the most political I’ve ever gotten. I protested the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it felt like we were helpless to do anything. But now the feeling is different. And so, I’m getting more involved. I’ve joined the local Occupy movement, offering my particular talents to the cause. I’m looking forward to Saturday, the 15th, as we join communities all across the country standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in New York. Continue reading

The beginning of the end, part 2…

I was already a member of my church when my wife, then a single mother, was called to be their minister. Years later, when we began dating, she warned me that, especially if our relationship led to marriage, I could not be a member of this church in the same way and that my role would change significantly. I tried to remember that, but I selfishly clung to this church as my spiritual home. I did not make the transition well. The next closest UU congregation is 45 miles away, so that was not a practical option. I did not reach out to the UUMPS (UU Minister’s Partners & Spouses) group early on and I didn’t really know what the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF) was at that time. I was a member of the church’s Board, but appropriately resigned after we started dating. However, I still remained in leadership positions, like chairing committees that were foundering. But I have a full-time job and being a support for my wife is another full-time job, not to mention just being a husband and father, so my leadership was really ineffective. Continue reading

You doom yourselves…

“You doom yourselves, Susannah. You seem positively bent on it, and the root is always the same; your faith fails you, and you replace it with rational thought. But there is no love in thought, nothing that lasts in deduction, only death in rationalism.”
~Mia

I am currently reading Song of Susannah, the sixth book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, which is where I found the above quote. The same day I read this quote, my wife suggested that my first post, You can believe anything you want…, sort of missed the mark, so I’m having another  go at it.

In that post I said that folks misrepresent Unitarian Universalism by saying that it is the church where you can believe anything you want, but then I didn’t exactly refute the point. The point I tried to make instead was that our diversity of perspective comes together to point toward a more integrated truth. Admittedly, this does not paint a clear picture of what we, as a whole, do believe. And I think my failure to do this may represent what is often lacking in our Unitarian Universalist congregations…a consistent message about our shared values. Continue reading

The beginning of the end…

I’ve recently become acutely aware of the dangers of unhealthy communication. By unhealthy communication, I mean the avoidance of healthy interactions…instead of going directly to the source of the perceived conflict, people will instead complain to others who are not involved. I sort of understand this…it is innate characteristic we’ve had from the time when humans lived in tribes and life was very much an us against them reality. You stick with the people you know and trust and don’t risk pissing someone off by confronting the other person. This is very damaging to community. It destroys trust and divides people.

Many times it is simply a misunderstanding that could have been cleared up if only the offended party would have spoken directly with the object of their discontent. Sometimes the issue is more serious, but it is still important to speak your truth to the individual instead of letting the offence fester. Continue reading

You can believe anything you want…

Often I hear from folks who are not UUs (and sometimes from folks who are), when talking about Unitarian Universalism, that it’s the church where you can believe anything you want. While that may be technically true…people will believe anything they want, regardless of their professed religion…it is not exactly how I (or any long-time UU) would describe it.

In Unitarian Universalism, we promote the acceptance of one another and the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. We believe that people want answers, but we reject the notion that organized religious institutions can give them those answers. The responsibility lies with the individual to seek out and find the truth. We believe that community is vital in encouraging the individual in this search and in living out their faith in service to the larger world. Continue reading