Friday, October 27, 2006

I'm going on vacation...and to hell.

I'm going on vacation and where I'm going doesn't have running water, much less the internets.

So, if y'all have written me and I haven't responded to you by the time you're reading this, you're probably not going to hear back from me until November 6th or somewhere thereabouts, although please know that I am keeping each and every one of you in the warm, fuzzy sub-cockle region of my heart.

In other news. I was told by a cubemate and otherwise nice, intellegent girl that not only was there a literal hell, but I was going there because I didn't believe the Bible was the inerrant word of God. She's a good woman with a strong faith, but doesn't seem to understand that the Bible wasn't created in a vacuum, and it's certainly not translated or interpreted in a vacuum. For example, there are a lot of outside documents that didn't make it into the bible just because they were too wordy (the didache). She also believes that all pagans and all traditions outside what we would identify as Fundamentalist Christianity are "bad. Completely bad." and no good can come of them. This whole conversation started because she asked me how I could like Halloween and love Jesus at the same time. I started talking with her about the origins of our modern holidays, and a lot of the traditions which surround them are "pagan" holidays because well...they had them first.

It really surprised me, and she was gentle about it, like she wanted me not to go to hell. Still, it me when she said

"There's a lot of good people in hell."


Friday, October 20, 2006

Revgals Friday Five: Word Association

The Revgals are doing a Friday 5 word association with words found in Job. Here's my offering.

In light of recent events (i.e. the impending nuptials of my ex and his girlfriend) it reminds me of the phrase "whirlwind romance" which is what Michael used to describe his relationship with her the day he dumped me. It's amazing how many whirlwinds we get caught in, from day to day to year to year…we get swept up in something, some cause or some person and they become the center of our lives for good and ill.

Whirlwinds are exciting, but they're also dangerous. Especially if you're guilty --as I have been so many times-- of whirling around something unhealthy. Not the easy targets like drugs or alcohol but of far more insidious storms, like gossip and jadedness.

Foundation. I've been reading PeaceBang's Beauty Tips for Ministers, so foundation made me think of make-up, which I rarely wear. I'm lucky enough to be young with good skin and a dramatic face so I slap on some lip gloss and I'm good to go. I can do the full-metal makeup too, including false eyelashes, fake hair and the whole mess, but I don't really look that different. The left picture is my dear friend Betty Ca$h celebrating my gigantic Birthday Throwdown, where I was wearing the works. On the right Betty and I take a shot together after a night of mechanical bullriding where I had a bit of lipgloss and maybe some brow pencil (can't remember). See, not much difference.

Anyway, I've been trying to revamp my image from "tongue-in-cheek retro goth darling" to something a little more palatable to service in church. I decided I needed a look. I can't wear suits because they look matronly and I can't quite get away with the eccentric garb many women of a certain age wear with such aplomb. So I decided on a theme of dark colors and soft, luxe fabrics, kept interesting by unusual earrings or accessories. I've got a dramatic face and a very big presence so monochrome suits me. Bright colors --which tend to look good on me as well-- can be much of a muchness. Last night I bought the staples of what will be my fall and winter wardrobe: three pairs of light wale corduroys in black, chocolate and hunter green with a modern, flattering boot cut shape and two light weight cashmere blend cable sweaters with a flattering deep v-neck and 3/4 sleeves, which are both slimming and very soft.

To top it all off I also bought two pairs of shoes because I did not own a single pair of church appropriate, comfortable shoes. I bought two pairs of loafer/mules in a very conservative cut but…and get this…one pair's purple and the other one's green.

Lightning. I love lightning. I love the electric feel in the air before a big storm. I love it streaking to the ground. When I was young and my grandfather took me out on the Chesapeake we'd occasionally run into a freak storm. He'd make me go below deck and lie on the bed, looking up through the skylight at the lightning coursing through the sky. I always wanted to be at the bow, calling it on. "Come on! Come on!" I'd scream. Daring for it to hit me. This is a storm on the Chesapeake, right by our old house.

Den. Of sin, of cubs, of thieves.

Prey. We prey and we pray and we prey again. It is always so. Lord forgive us.

Mawwiage is what brings us togevuh today

So Michael and the Strudel are getting married. Does that make him Mister Strudel? It's no surprise since when he broke it off with me, after knowing her a week, he said he wanted to marry her. I found out the recent news through a girlfriend who was thoughtful enough to call me and let me know so I didn't find out in some weird way.

My first thoughts? Eh.

At this point I'd probably be expected to either to talk about both of their many flaws and hop the trolley to Bittersville or to paint on an unconvincingly glad face and say things like "great! I hope they're really happy!"

I'm not really in either of those places.

My only true feeling at the moment is sort of mild annoyance because I'm going to spend the next few days thinking about it. Not even exciting thinking like "oh I wish it had been me" (y'all know I don't think that) and "I'm going to wind up old and alone and unhappy and no one will ever love me." (nope, not this one either) No, I'm just thinking, and it bugs me because I'd rather be thinking about something else.

Not thinking about Michael has been one of the great luxuries of the past six months. I've hardly thought about him with any depth since my grandfather went into the hospital. There's nothing unresolved and I'm not angry, I'm just…done. Different priorities.

True it's uncomfortable to see them together because it's hard watching someone I used to respect and love act like a fool, what with the public displays of affection that border on public displays of impregnation. Mostly when I see him I just think "wow. There's a train wreck I was lucky to escape. I worry about that poor crazy girl."

As far as wishing them well, I do but it's in a very passive way. Truth is, I just don't care. Sure I want them to be happy but if they're not…eh. I know that's not quite loving my neighbor (we're all neighbors, right?) but I'm working on it.

Honestly, from what I know of him and the little I know of her, I can't imagine it's going to be a healthy relationship, but --and I have to keep telling myself this because y'all know I've never met a hurt little puppy I didn't want to rescue-- it's not my place, problem or right to say anything. long as they don't get married at Beerland.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A comfortable Friday Five

The subject of last week's Revgals Friday Five was comfort. It's funny that some of these answers are so intimate that they made me very uncomfortable.

1. Comfort beverage
I am a Viking through and through. I like my glögg. I like it quick'n'dirty, made with the mix and I like it long and slow, with mulling spices. It's delicious served hot, and refreshing served mixed with ginger ale or champagne as a sort of "Viking Sangria." There are plenty of other comforting drinks; a good single malt in the winter, my grandmother's Russian iced tea with mint leaves fresh from the garden for a shot of nostalgia, even a giant diet cherry limeade (easy ice) from Sonic after I finish a particularly successful class or service where I've spoken for a long time.

2. Comfort chair.

There is a chair in the corner of my living room. Big and red and overstuffed with arms wide enough to hold a dinner plate, a cup of tea and whatever two or three books I'm reading at the time. I can lie on it sideways, legs draping off one arm, head propped up against the other, or I can sit cross-legged like some sort of Buddha. I only use it when I'm doing spiritual work, since it is part of my prayer nook. What makes my prayer nook? The lovely brass floor lamp with rice-paper lanterns the color of swans, a non-descript TV tray piled high with theological books that have captured my interest (some of which I've even read) and a brownish grey candle the size of my fist in the shape of a primitive snail. That snail, which represents the snail I found in the labyrinth the day of my Great Experience, is a sort of totem and it keeps me mindful, as does the handmade bronze cross from Ireland, similar to this one, with the benediction carved into it. The benediction was the first prayer I properly knew --I sang it with a sevenfold amen for my high school baccalaureate-- and, when the weather's right and the wind's coming in from the East, can still move me to tears.

3. Comfort read
I suppose if I were a sophisticated person I'd have something impressive to say here, like Dostoevsky or a particularly difficult section of Plutarch. I'm not that sophisticated, and the type of book I read for comfort has quite a bit to do with what I feel the need to be comforted from. If it's spiritual duress, then usually a quick skim of C.S. Lewis' "Great Divorce" fits the bill. If I'm feeling petulant, then it's "The Secret Garden" with sour little Mary growing happy and healthy on the British moors. If I'm not in any particular emotional trouble and I have a rare morning to read for pleasure, I'll gladly while away the hours with The Jungle Book or some Victorian "nonsense" literature like George MacDonald or Lewis Carroll.

4. Comfort television/DVD/music
I don't watch television, but one guilty pleasure is spending a lazy Saturday afternoon at my grandparents' house dozing on and off to the cooking shows on PBS. As for DVDs, I'd say the Harry Potter series. It doesn't really matter which one, I'm just conditioned to relax and fall asleep as soon as the opening credits start to roll. When Michael and I broke up, I desperately needed some escapism and so I sat, in the dark, watching "The Harry Potter" over and over again until I'd eventually cry myself to sleep. As someone who's long had notorious problems getting to sleep, any trick that works is one worth keeping. To this day I'll put on one of the movies if I need to go to sleep quickly. Also, it's always "The Harry Potter", pronounced "The harrypotter" (something like "the terracotta")

Like with books, the sort of music I need to comfort me depends on the sort of comfort I require. I have compiled many CD's for each specific situation. Let's say I need to feel comforted because I miss an ex-boyfriend who done me wrong. Well then I'll just pop in my "Heartbreak: Questionable Closure remix" cd (featuring Ani DiFranco, Elvis Costello, Nina Simone, Leonard Cohen, John Wesley Harding and Marlene Dietrich, among others). If I'm feeling homesick for Virginia and my halcyon college days, then I plate up "Actually Not" by Eddie from Ohio.

If I've got some serious existential angst, then it requires the strange combo of Beethoven, Pete Townshend, and Flogging Molly. Usually any one will fix a minor crisis, two will put a patch on a big blow out, but for some deep Kierkegaard sort of depression, it takes all three. First, it's the whole of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Cliché? Maybe, but I will cry until I can't get enough air in my lungs at the last movement. Then it's Pete Townshend's "Let My Love Open The Door" (This comes from that painful breakup period. I had a major breakthrough when listening to this song and I just felt overwhelmed with God's love.) Finally, it's the Irish band Flogging Molly with a great message of hope in their "If I Ever Leave This World Alive" (I'm okay; I'm alright, though you are gone from my life. You said that it would; now everything should be alright.) click here to go to a Youtube video featuring the song. I have no idea what the video is all about, but it's a beautiful song.

5. Comfort companion(s)
There's a difficult one. I suppose there's something comforting about being around my grandparents, especially my grandfather, but I tend not to look towards other people for comfort. I used to feel a lot of guilt about that --I stopped looking for comfort because everyone who ever comforted me, with the exception of my grandfather has also abandoned me-- but now I'm fortunate enough to be in the position to accept comfort from those who want to give it (not something I'd allowed myself to do before) without *needing* it.

My comfort is with God and God alone. I hope that doesn't sound sad, because it's the most joyful thing I know.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


There are some people who, upon getting a 99% on a paper, would be delighted. I am not one of those people. I don't care that I got the highest grade in the class. I don't care that I threw off the curve. I want to know where the hell that last point went. My world has gone awry. Until now I had perfect grades. Not just A's, but perfect A's; 100% scores, in 100% of my classes, 100% of the time.

Should I be happy that I still got a great score? Yes, and I guess I am but I know I will not rest until I find out what happened to rob me of my flawless record.

Deep cleansing breaths...whew.
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