Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lucky Number 13

When I was young, I felt that turning thirteen was a pretty big deal. For some reason I thought that it was a major stepping-stone into the beginnings of adulthood and forever leaving my childhood behind. I remember being so amazed that I would, in fact be, a teenager on my thirteenth birthday. I remember thinking also, that people should be making a bigger deal out of it as well.

Where was my spotlight?

I am going to implore that you, the reader, reach back into the depths of your own childhood memories when it comes to birthdays in order to visualize the pain of this story. Birthdays were a big deal weren’t they? Don’t you remember having a massive cake coated in sugar, fire and wax? Remember the friends and the family surrounding you (and only you) as you tried your best to blow every last candle out with one breath? I should confess that I have never blown all of the candles out in one breath. Never.

It was a couple years before my thirteenth birthday that I had started to go to work with my dad. It started out innocently enough. One day a week I would get up early like he did, dress up in something warm, like he did, ride all the way out to the job site like he did, just to play with the left-over blocks of wood, like he did not. This was something I could handle and in a lot of ways, it was something I enjoyed.

Then one day, things started to change.

I was building some cool “houses” out of the leftover blocks of wood when dad told me to pick up the broom and sweep up some of the sawdust on the newly constructed floor.

It was a minor inconvenience, but it was something that I could do. I was not naïve enough to believe that I was “one of the guys” in doing this. I knew that if I weren’t careful, I would be in the way. I did, however, enjoy a lot of the jokes that the guys made and would subsequently relate them back to my mother. Most of the time you had to have been there to get them.

After sweeping a big pile of sawdust into the middle of the floor, I returned to building my super cool houses. I had been looking at them as I was sweeping, cascading into the bank, and decided that I should turn them into a village.

Next up: a grocery store!

“Trevor, take that shovel and scoop up that pile into this bucket.”


Ok, that wasn’t too bad. Perhaps I could also make little roads to connect the houses in my village. That would be really cool!

“Trevor, what are you doing? I asked you to sweep up all the sawdust!”

Honestly taken back, I responded:

“I did, I even scooped it up into that bucket.”

Then, in his incredibly belittling tone, my dad explained (as if I should have already known):

“There are all these other rooms to be swept Trevor.”

Fuck! When would I get the roads built? I would need to hurry on this whole sweeping business. But, as it turns out, there was not enough time to get back to my little village. There would never be enough time from that day on.

Ready or not, I would have to grow up.

Looking back on that whole situation, it makes a little more sense. I blame a lot of this on Jacob. He was my dad’s, boss’s son. Its ok, take your time to read that again because it is a little confusing in print. I blame Jacob because he was not only the boss’s son, but he was a good kid. Always eager to help was he. He is a couple years younger than I, but seemed to love being on the job and helping his dad out as much as he could.

Apparently he was very naïve.

My dad would observe this little guy’s behavior on the job and then expected me to act the same. He also wanted an eager helper on the job that he could be proud of. I would have rather played in the dirt.

This became the start of my going to work with dad… to actually work, every Friday.

This wasn’t too bad at first and I really enjoyed it! I would go the same time that Jacob did and we would have a lot of fun playing/sweeping. We got a lot done together, but most likely did not get all that much done. This is when it was decided (most likely by my dad) that I should come on Wednesdays to clean up, and then Jacob should still come on Fridays. This would sort of spread out the cleaning of the job and would create a happier atmosphere all around.

This was not cool to me.

I was then expected to clean even more! All by myself as well. I am not sure when this happened, but I was no longer able to use the excuse that there were power cords on the floor. I had to find a way to suspend them from the floor in order to sweep… under them. It was very complicated. I think it was the boss; his name was Kelly, who walked in and began laughing when he saw all of the cords hanging across the room in mid-air. I had accomplished quite a feat and was busy sweeping away.

One day a week turned into two days a week (this was also staggered with Jacob’s schedule). Jacob and I began leaving secret messages on the job site for each other. This was pretty fun, until it got carried away with insulting messages. I added the last straw when I left a hand with a single finger pointing up reading, “You’re number 1 Jacob!” that was made out of leftover plumber’s putty.

My dad found it before Jacob did. No explanations are needed here.

It wasn’t long before I started working with dad everyday. Jacob and I ended up working together a lot. We graduated from sweeping to insulating and began making an actual hourly wage. I hated it.

I hated getting up early. I hated being in the severe heat, or the severe cold, or the rain or the snow. I hated not being able to play with my friends when they came over. I hated that if my friends stayed long enough to see me when I got home, that I would show up when they were in the middle of a game with my sisters and I would be wearing dirty work clothes and would be too exhausted to play. It was humiliating for me.

The day I turned thirteen, I had to go to work as well. I don’t know why, but I thought that I would get the day off to hang out with my friends and have fun. But no. I was destined to sit and sand logs on the hottest day of May.

Kelly had gotten really sick at this point and so he wasn’t coming to work very often. Subsequently, neither did Jacob. He was still quite involved in the job process, but by the end of May, 2000, his cancer had gotten so bad that he was not able to come to work at all. A week after I turned 13, Kelly would pass away.

As I was sitting on these gigantic logs and sanding them to make them look new, my mind kept going over what thirteen should mean and how people should care. I couldn’t believe it. It was the first birthday that I have had to spend at work. It drove me crazy with anger. I felt abandoned, unloved and used. Not only did I hate my job (I didn’t consider it a job for several years, but it was something that dad made me do), but I hated that my first day as a teenager was being spent at the place that I hated the most.

Looking back, I can see that I was really immature. After all, I was a twelve year old that was just one day into his thirteenth year. My attitude became a breeding ground for intense hatred and anger. This is something that I still deal with. For years I resented how I was made to work everyday of my youth. I became the person that my dad relied on completely to get the job done. It was a lot of responsibility for a thirteen year old. It was a lot of work. But I made it through much stronger and smarter.

When I got home that day after working very hard and having been intensely bitter over having to work, I was greeted with friends, my grandparents, and a cake that was made to look like the sinking Titanic (oh my God how cool!).

I am loved.

It was a great evening and I had a lot of fun. I went into that day thinking that I had been the unluckiest teenager in the world, but as it turned out, thirteen can be rather lucky.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Liebing is a German Name

I come from a massive family. My Dad was the youngest of nine children, and his mother was one of twelve children. My Dad’s aunt and uncles seemed to be competing to see who could have the most children. After all, it was the 1950’s and they were a farming bunch.

No help needed here!

I don’t even know most of my cousins. However, most of the cousins I do know I have grown up with and have been very close to them throughout my childhood. These cousins were on my Mom’s side, which is also a nicely sized family. My last name, Liebing, seems to raise eyebrows of new acquaintances. In response to their puzzled look, I offer up the little bit of information that I know about my last name; “Its German,” I say, “It means ‘darling’ I believe.” Then there is usually a little laughter associated with some Nazi joke. Aw, the German Legacy.

Growing up, I was constantly being made fun of because of my family. Most of the fundamentalist Christians that I had considered my friends as a young teen had moved with their parents from the western side of Washington State to “escape the sin.” They were not all that involved with their extended families mainly because Grandma did not appreciate the fact that her grand-daughters were parading around in home-made prairie dresses and schooling at home (learning to sew more dresses and to cook with unleavened bread). It wasn’t as though my parent’s extended family didn’t disapprove also at first, but as it turns out, they were close enough to the extreme Republican fringe to be able to accept a little religious crazy. Pretty much any story that a friend of mine might share with me, I seemed to have a similar experience to share with them involving one of my cousins. This became a rather obvious pattern that was quickly noted by my friends and was used to get some laughs… at my expense. That was, in fact, how I preferred to make people laugh. It was a nice little self-preservation mechanism that is still a part of my social psyche.

A typical conversation with me during my early teens would go something like this:

     “I was so excited to actually win something!”

My friend Autumn might say about a little homemade prize that my mother put together for the Frisbee tossing competition during one of the feast days. Don’t ask.

     “I have never won anything. But, my cousin won a brand new Toyota pickup truck at a country music concert and then won a bunch of the door prizes at the NRA fund raising dinner!”

After a couple confused facial expressions, I might have felt awkward enough to expand on those thoughts even though the little Trevor in my head was screaming “NOOOO! Stop talking!”

     “The rest of my cousins and family think he must be incredibly lucky or something.”

Then I immediately begin to panic because I mentioned the word 'lucky' and could offend some of the people around me because 'luck' is not something that Yaweh or Yashua have sanctioned and suggests that there is some other force that controls fate. Oh dear, I should not mention fate either.

Autumn, or Carrie, or perhaps Serena would then make the comment:

    “Do you ever talk about anything other than your cousins?”

Then everyone would start laughing and I would have to say something like:

    “That’s so funny! Because one of my cousins said that very same thing to me last weekend!”

I am just that cool.

I was however, always very popular with the girls in this Christian fellowship that we called; “The Meeting House.” I suppose that isn’t what we called the fellowship but rather, the building in which the fellowship gathered. In a casual reference, I think I might have, in a conversation with one of my cousins, referred to the congregation as “The Meeting House People…” Little did I know at the time that many gay men, just like me, were also very popular with girls. I was a closet gay and they were closet hags. This idea makes me laugh now.

My closet hags and I spent most of the time gossiping about the different key families of the Meeting House people. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the Liebing family was one of those key families. I can’t imagine the gossip that was floating around behind out backs. However, knowing some of the stories I was soaking up about the other families, I think I have a pretty good idea. I don’t think that I realized that my family was one of the key families is because I was so caught up with trying to keep up with the key families. My family could be so embarrassing for me sometimes.

There were the Robertsons,  the Keyes, the Hecks, the Hoechers, and the Bauers. Later the McGuiers would also become one of the key families toward the peak of the Meet House’s life span. As far as I know there are people that still meet there, but it isn’t anything close to what it was when all the aforementioned families attended.  The McGuiers really kind of pushed themselves into the spotlight. They really weren’t welcome in the top tiers of the Meeting House people, especially in my eyes. They were ex-Mormons.

I mean… c’mon… Mormons. I honestly didn’t know what Mormons were except my Dad said that they left because he was pretty sure the church was trying to get Mr. McGuire to take a second wife.

But, much like a hostile take-over, they rapidly moved in as a pillar of the congregation. They, like many Mormons, had a huge family. Many of the older children of the family were young men between the ages of 22 and 17. Also, like a lot of Mormon families, these young men were beautiful. Beautiful and they were all very manly men. Athletic, popular, funny, witty and completely Christian they were. Who could compete? I might have been secretly attracted to them, but that wasn’t why I didn’t like them. I didn’t like them because I had this suspicion that they were a bunch of poseurs. I do not know why I thought that, but I got a strong feeling from the way they spoke so confidently and securely. Anyone that was that into the Lord must have been a fraud. They were just a little too churchy.

With this lifestyle, it felt very different to be around family. My closest cousins were much more secular compared to my Meeting House friends. Skyler had internet, went to public school and had friends that told vagina jokes and played Nintendo games. Zane and Blane had big souped-up pick-ups and a lot of guns and liked to hunt. Blane especially liked to hunt. Every word that comes out of his mouth, even to this day, is about a gun or hunting. Katie also went to public school, but as an only child, she was sheltered a lot more by her parents. The friends she had from school were more into FAA and 4H instead of video games and boys. These were country girls (most of which did not really live in the country) that wore cowboy boots and shirts that expressed their support for the NRA or something else completely red... like abstinence.

On a rare occasion, these two diverse worlds would collide. These occasions were usually my or my siblings birthdays. The Robertsons never came, nor did the Keyes or the Hecks. The Hecks would never come to something like my birthday party mostly because they believed that celebrating one’s birthday was a pagan tradition and they thought that everyone was beneath them and their holiness. Also, none of their children were my age.

The family that did come to my birthday parties was the Reynolds family. They had two sons, Gideon and Josiah, which were close to my age. Gideon was the younger one of the two and was most likely ADHD. Josiah was a very depressed and with-drawn young man most likely because he had to live with his father, Mark. Josiah hardly smiled, never joked and liked to make secret codes and code-names to disguise the secret spy he wanted to be. Part of his secret spy dream was to help spread the truth about Yashua and to help take down the evil U.S. government. I don’t think that I would ever smile either if I had to live with Mark as a father.

I can remember one night, as a young child, listening to Mark rant about how all government employees and homosexuals should be disfigured and tortured to death and how he would do it to ensure the maximum amount of pain. I didn’t realize that I had become transfixed on the things that he was saying, but he looked over and saw how I was about to throw up. He then bellowed:

    “Get him outta here please.”

It wasn’t so much of a shout, as a sarcastically slurred message that really said:

    “I cant believe this little faggot-to-be doesn’t have the stomach to hear what needs to be done.”

That, or it said:

    “Why is he even in here to begin with?”

As if it was completely absurd that I would be sitting on my living room sofa. It didn’t help that Mark is an absolutely massive human being with a voice that echoes even while he whispers. His head alone was the size of a five-gallon bucket that loomed 6’7” over the floor. He is rather intimidating and I fear the thought that I might someday, run into him again.

Being a part of this circle was something I never completely adjusted to. I liked my life as I was growing up with my cousins in my pre-Meeting House era.

I had felt normal.

When my parents decided to home school my sisters and I, it was a little hard for me to understand or comprehend. That proved to be a lot easier to get used to over the idea that Grandma and Grandpa did not like what my parents were getting involved with when they started going to the Meeting House. They felt it was a cult and that they would brainwash my parents, my siblings and myself. They were right. The changes made me feel uprooted. No more Christmas or Easter. No Halloween and no pork. It was so embarrassing to tell the absent-minded aunt that you couldn’t eat the bacon and to see the “oh right. I forgot” look on her face as she rolled her eyes and started to make something else. 

And that was my Mom’s family. Dad’s family was a little different. They took much more offense to the idea that my Mom and Dad were schooling their children at home. They felt that we would become socially retarded and would be cheated out of a bright future filled with education and peer interactions. They also did not like that idea that Mom and Dad started to believe that White people were God’s chosen people, instead of the Jews. This is a little odd now that I think of it.
After all, Liebing is a German name.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Obama & Health

New York Times

Obama says insurance companies holding US hostage
BELGRADE, Mont., Aug 14 (Reuters) - US President Barack Obama, pushing for healthcare reform during a trip to conservative Montana, said on Friday the country was "held hostage" by insurance companies that deny ...
Obama in Montana, liveUSA Today
Obama to Make Case for Health Reform at Montana Town HallWashington Post
Obama Heads to Montana for Healthcare Town HallU.S. News & World Report
The Associated Press -Boston Globe
all 948 news articles »

View Original Article

This is something that is completely confusing me at the moment. Virtually every American honestly believes that our health care system is in serious need of major improvement. Most of us have had many experiences with not being covered, or having to fight with insurance companies to give us the coverage that we thought we were paying exorbitant amounts of money for. Millions of Americans do not have access to health insurance and can be financially devastated when sickness strikes. Yet, Republicans in the House and Senate are standing up to say "No!"

What are they saying "no" to? Taxes increases? Yes. Government control over health care? Yes. Responsibility of insurance companies? You got it. They have taken great strides in standing up to say no to anything that the Democrats of put forward. That makes sense. After all, this is a two-part system of government. Great! So what is there plan to help the millions of un-insured people and the greatly declining quality of American health care? This is the crazy part: they want it to stay they same. Republican Tom Coburn (Senator from Texas) said on "Meet the Press" this morning that the U.S. has the greatest health care in the world. Talk about out of touch. We are ranked lower that any other indrustrialized nation by the World Health Organiztion. Ouch.

I really do not want to let Democrats completely off of the hook either here. Democrats, the leaders in health care reform advocacy since the early 1990's have also dropped the ball. With a huge majority in both the House and the Senate, one might think that it would be a little bit easier to create a reform bill that actually reformed something. Now we have the White House saying that they might be OK with dropping the Public Option on the bill. Taking that single provision away from health care reform turns this into just health insurance reform. Will it lower prices? Maybe a little. Is it a solution to the problem? Its a small bandage. In my opinion, a public option is only a slightly larger, small bandage.

What we need in this country, is the change that we all voted for. We need our elected officials to stand up to the screaming, lobbying, bought-and-paid-for "No!" and do what is right. Money should not be the difference between having good health care or not. Human beings should be more important than money. If Republicans are seriously worried about protecting unborn children, then why are they saying no to helping pregnant woman and children in poverty health coverage? Why are Republicans against health care?
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Life in Cheney

It has been a relatively new experience for me to be living in a different town. As I am sure that most of you know, I have spent most of my life living in Colville, Wa. I grew up there in the small town of only 5,000 people surrounded by great friends and close family. I am the oldest of five siblings, and one of many awesome cousins. My grandparents lived just a few miles away on a massive ranch in Northport, WA. This ranch served as a sort of hub for massive family gatherings.

After I decided to move out on my own, I expanded my circle of friends even more. I began to drift away from the Christian fundamentalists that I was raised with and started hanging with a more secular and educated bunch. This was very enlightening. Soon after I met Thomas the love of my life and then together we began our own educational careers.

Following my education has landed me here in this odd and awkward town of Cheney, WA. I have only lived here a couple weeks so I still am not completely aware of its potential. Also, this is a college town that almost doubles in size during the beginning of the Fall quarter. I have not yet experienced the influx of hundreds of new people yet. This even is only a couple weeks away.

I am feeling rather detached. Anyone who really knows me knows that I am not so much a phone-person. I will talk if you call me, but I do not call people often. This is not to be confused with the fact that I am a text message addict, but that is beside the point. I really should call my mom because I really miss her and would like to chat. Hopefully I can get up there to see her soon.

The last time I saw my Grandparents (Fourth of July 2009), I learned that my Grandfather is writing down his life’s memories in a big notebook. I LOVE this Idea simply because my Grandpa has the greatest stories! I am also a little jealous of the outlook on life that my Grandpa has. He has stated many times that he has loved his life and that if he could, he would love to live it all over again and not change anything. Wow. Hopefully I can look back on all that I have been through and have done and feel the same way.

I am looking forward to making new friends here in Cheney, and living a little more than I have been able to do in my past. It should be a good thing for me. Once it all starts moving….

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Friday, August 14, 2009

First Blog!

I have been looking for a place where I could bounce some of my crazy thoughts and ideas off of a community and decided that this might be a fun place to start. I am on facebook and twitter (@tliebing) and will be updating this blog with many of my thoughts (mostly political). Feel free to comment and add to the conversation.