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August 24, 2011

Like/Dislike, Part 4

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

One of the “mental exercises” my cancer psychologist has me do once a week is something called “Like/Dislike.” Of course, it is not that hard to figure out that he wants me to write about things I like and dislike at a particular point in time. Previous entrants included cancer (on the dislike side, duh); the New York Yankees (obviously a like); and Governor Chris Christie (who has made it on both lists). When I was writing in my journal about the things I like and dislike, I found myself struggling to understand how to deal with both sides of my personal ledger. Why do I really like something at particular moment? How can that like be turned into a dislike? Do my likes actually become a sort of “idol worship?” And in terms of disliking, are these negative impulses bordering on hatred? 

At first, I thought this was a stupid exercise, but my cancer head doc urged me to stick with it. And I have kept up this exercise, and to make an admission, I have learned some about what makes me tick. As per my instructions, the list will be a combined one, with likes typed in blue letters and dislikes in red. Now to complete my homework for this week:

Country music: I grew up listening to country music because my mother would have it on the car radio wherever we went. I fell away from it after WHN-AM in New York became WFAN, the city’s first all-sports radio station in the middle 1980s. Fast forwarding to 2001, I found country music once again in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was fun, soothing music I could listen to without feeling ashamed, especially around seminarians who looked down upon the alternative rock I listened to at the time. Not that being looked down upon was something that bothered me; it was somewhat of a hassle to constantly answer why I liked alt rock. Now back in the Tri-State area without a terrestrial radio station that plays country, I listen to Sirius XM “The Highway” on Channel 59 and WSIX-FM out of Nashville on SiriusXM Channel 57. The music is fun, easy to listen to, and it makes me smile (plus it sometimes help while I am sitting down trying to write a sermon). My favorite artists list include George Strait, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Trace Adkins, the Eli Young Band, Reba, and Carrie Underwood. This morning, I was listening to WSIX, Channel 57 and their morning show. They played “Remind Me” by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood and I couldn’t help but think about the state of marriage in our society and how this song lays out a beautiful reminder of what it means to be in love. And just now, after I finished my truncated list for today, Jerrod Neimann’s song, “One More Drinking Song” was played on The Highway, Channel 59 — a terrific fun listen that has the following lyric that I cannot seem to memorize (I copied it from one of those lyric websites): “And if by chance this brings you cheer maybe someday you’ll bring me a beer or not to mention my favorite drink a marga-daiquiri-screw-aloda-on the beach.” But they followed up that fun song with one of the best all-around songs I have ever heard — George Strait’s “I Saw God Today.”

Seitan: Basically, it is wheat gluten. I’ve been eating it on and off since I stopped eating meat. It may just be the effects of the chemotherapy on my taste buds, but for weeks now, this stuff has tasted absolutely nasty. Two nights ago, I planned on making a vegetable stir fry with seitan, but because of my recent ‘falling out’ with the product, I feared throwing it up. Somehow, I’ve lost the taste for it. I opened the refrigerator this morning and saw it laying on the bottom shelf. Fighting the temptation to throw it in the garbage, I kept it thinking that I should at least attempt to try it once again. I was lying to myself. I paid five bucks for the stuff; I didn’t want to throw 3/4 of a package of it in the trash. Maybe God will miraculously make it taste better — or at least fix my taste buds.

Reading the newspaper outside: During the spring and autumn, when temperatures are not boiling or too chilly, I get some peaceful enjoyment of just sitting in the yard of the parsonage reading the daily newspaper (whether in the physical copy or on my iPad). For that brief time, everything in my life seems lighter and calmer. Even this morning, with temperatures on the cool side, swiping through the New York Post while listening to the birds chirp really helped me focus.

Windows: If I had to compile this list for the remainder of my life, Microsoft Windows would be on it. This morning at church I attempted to find a file on the church computer, a Dell with one of those Windows operating systems on it. But with the clunkiness of the search engine on those machines, I got angry very quickly, wishing that Windows was more like Mac OS X. It was funny to find myself going from a period of being calm to one where I wanted to bash the computer in a matter of minutes. However, the computer is still there since I walked out of the room.

Well, doc, that’s the list for today.



Read more from Confession, Fighting Cancer

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