May 28, 2010

a little bit of chi, with a side of karmic justice (and Welsh tea cake).

I was raised Presbyterian by a lapsed  Methodist and a half-Catholic. It's probably part of the reason I can't do mainstream Christianity. The other part of the reason is that, exactly 9 times out of 10, I have personally witnessed people who are (loudly) Christian doing the following: lying, stealing, coveting their neighbors' asses (among other things), saying all types of things in vain, and working hardily on the Sabbath. Which is all fine by me, because I do these things too, occasionally without complaint. The problem I have with (loud) Christians is they try to say they don't do these things, or they admit to doing them but then throw in that cop out "But I'm still going to heaven, because I've been saved." As if Jesus was a Kroger coupon.

At the same time, I also have an extreme lack of appreciation for militant atheists. Because I think they actually do have a religion, but crazily refuse to recognize it. Which is why they're militant in the first place. People with nothing to prove or disprove, and no bones to pick, are generally very calm and nice, no shouting at all, unless they're gambling on horse races.

Have you ever run across a militant atheist and attempted to have a logical discussion with them about anything, including the weather? They make militant pro-life activists who bomb Planned Parenthood clinics look relatively tolerant. I'd like to think whoever is the patron saint of all the nice, calm atheists would be very frown-y about that.

So. I don't buy into mainstream Christianity and you won't ever see Christopher Hitchens on one of my Dream Dinner Guest lists (you will, however find Gerard Butler twice). 

Which is going to sound so weird in a second because I do, in fact, really dig Jesus. And Buddha. And I don't think I should have to choose between those two people at all. I hate competitions like that. In fact, I sense those two crazy spiritual goofballs may have even hung out at some point, probably while enjoying green tea and myrrh cakes. 

But I get crazier: because I think you can totally combine religious beliefs and not even go to hell (because, quite frankly, I think hell is actually already here on earth, in the United States of America: it's called 24 Hour Super Wal*Mart, and it's at its scariest on Saturdays, at 2 AM, anywhere in the American South.) When people ask (and they sometimes do) what my religion is, I say, "Buddhistian." And if I could find a way to stick some Hinduism, Judaism, Islamism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and my great-grandma's recipe for Welsh tea cakes-ism in that word, I'd do that too.

And I don't even care if anyone wants to tell me that makes me naive, flaky, and immoral. Because listen: I've got a whole long list of past behaviors and current daydreams involving certain celebrity men with foreign accents who appear twice on my Dream Dinner Guest list that make me far more naive, flaky, and immoral than going around complaining about atheism while cherry picking my core spiritual beliefs ever can. You don't have to tell me I'm the Universe's favorite little headache; I've been painfully aware of that since I was 10. So if combining religions and spiritual beliefs tops the list of Most Flaky Immoral Behavior Ever, then my chi is doing just fine in terms of karmic justice.

I have no idea what I meant by that last line. I just know I like to insert the words "chi" and "karmic justice" into religious discussions as much as humanly possible.

May 18, 2010

halfway to sane.

Man I'm glad being a human being doesn't involve psychic static cling. If it did, I'd still have biscuit bangs and you'd find me on any given Friday night desperately chasing men who'd spend a lot of time afterward convincing me not to say anything publicly or press charges. 

I keep (sporadic, which is how I like my writing life) hand-written journals. I have these going back 20 years. When I look back through them, I can always tell which weeks, months, years of my life were most crazed and filled with wishy washy inner angst; all I have to do is find the journals with the most frequently updated and long-winded entries. Years that were relatively drama-free have no journals, or journals that are quite empty, often unfinished. Years that would make good reality TV scripts have produced journals with overflowing, bizarre rants and occasional entries like this 1996 classic:  I HATE YOU RALPH I HATE YOU RALPH I HATE HATE HATE HATE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I HOPE SOMEONE BREAKS YOUR HEART WITH A (expletive deleted in case my mom reads this) CHAIN SAW!!!! I HOPE YOU DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  ......I mean, dear god. Clearly all I lacked at certain points in my life was a damp, dark basement and an alter, a lot of candles, and a dart board with Ralph's face tacked to the middle surrounded by a lot of crazy affirmations cut out of newspaper letters, haphazardly glued to pieces of ripped up bar napkins.**

And I can virtually FEEL all the craziness, all over again, because I can see where I go from positive and productive in one journal entry to cursing the Universe and begging God the next. Trying to be all cool and non-chalant-who-frickin'-cares one day to please God I don't understand why this happens to MEEEEE the next. I read like a middle schooler on meth. It is not attractive, but a good lesson in humility.

It's the beauty of being a human being. Someone who knew Amy 1995 very well and then met Amy 2005 wouldn't even have recognized her. Way hipper, more ironic. And Amy 2005 is completely foreign to Amy 2010. Less ironic, more faux Zen. I simply don't see the world the way I saw it 1995, I have a different sense of humor than I had back in 1985, I write differently than I wrote in 2005, I like different colors than I liked back in 1975 (I actually don't remember what my favorite colors were back in 1975, I just needed another year with a 5 at the end) (in 10 more years, I predict Amy 2020 will not even care about flow in writing or will laugh haughtily about how there WAS no writing flow by using years ending with a 5; what in the world was Amy 2010 even thinking?).

I once had a therapist who told me: Life is about progress, not perfection. 

That's one of my life mantras; I feel a deep soul debt to her for sharing it with me. So I keep that in my head, and all my journals with the most cringe-worthy moments in the back of my closet just to remind myself: Remember, Amy? You were SO crazy in 1997! You're, like, 25% less crazy now. In another 10 years, you'll be halfway to sane

And I think halfway to sane is good, don't you? It's certainly a lot farther along than some of our well-known conservative politicians and talk shows hosts are right now. And it's definitely a lot farther along than those Westboro Baptist fringe people; I bet not one of those crackerjacks even bothers to keep a journal marking their life progression.

**Seriously. His name was Ralph. I was going mental over a man named Ralph. My entire 20's were spent operating without bolts on my nuts; I really have no idea how I made it to my 30's.

May 14, 2010

subversive anonymous behaviors (online).

I hate anonymity on the internet. I understand the need for it; I've run into more than a few socio-psychopaths over the last 15 years I've hung out on this thing. Once upon a time, crazy people used to hide in their basements, making voodoo dolls or mixing poison to coat the Halloween candy with. They'd hear little kids' feet scampering across their lawns and they'd run outside wielding their hammers and axes screaming quotes from Revelations or whatever. All psycho and frothy; everyone knew to stay away. 

Then, the internet was invented. And all the crazy people left their basements, ran to the store, bought themselves a computer, and went right back to their darkened lairs to download Netscape Navigator. And here we are, a decade and a half later, and the internets are just rife with riff raff. Some are pretty open about their psycho frothiness--you can see it right through your computer screen. For example, true story: I was once stalked online by Jesus Christ's personal right hand psychopath who really needed to connect with another human being. He did this by sending me passages from the Bible about bloody lambs screaming while being dismembered and let me know I might be next if I didn't start agreeing with him that God, the Holiest of all Holies, can only be a MAN. With a long white beard. And X and Y chromosomes.

But I also think the internet provides opportunities for normal, nice people to behave like the sociopaths they usually are only during fits of road rage. In other words, I think anonymity encourages socially subversive behaviors. I think it lets normally very nice people write and say the most horrendous things to other normally very nice people. Which is why I think you should at least know the real first name of who you are dealing with online, and at least have a small, fuzzy picture so you can see what they look like. They can wear a fake mustache and dark sunglasses in their fuzzy pictures if it makes them feel better. 

You are you with your own life experiences and opinions that influence what you say and do online, and I am I with my own life experiences and opinions that influence what I say and do online. But I've provided my real name and a real picture; which I think is my way of pleading: please, I am a human being with real feelings. I am perfectly okay with your deep need to reach out and communicate your obsession with spilled lambs' blood and vengeful deities. All I ask is that you please remember I am someone's mommy, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. I spend a lot of time crying over pictures and stories of children affected by the Haitian earthquake tragedy and animals dying in the wake of the Gulf Oil spill. I like rainbows and sunshine, and soft kittens and butterflies. Okay? I'm not here to ruin your world; I'd just like to make mine a little better.

I wrote all of that to say: in the past, I've been really (I mean really) open about myself, like giving my first and last names. But on this blog? I've decided I can't. In addition, I'm a teacher. And teachers are paranoid technophobes these days if you haven't heard. Also, I'm married to a former CIA agent. (Actually, he's a brutal contract negotiator. But his level of state secret shadiness vs. my level state secret shadiness gives him the appearance of possibly being a former CIA agent and so after ten years of knowing him, I still can't rule it out.)

But mostly due to all the subversiveness I've been noticing on the internet lately. And on the account I have an extreme queasiness around lamb blood.

May 7, 2010

i write better than i speak.

I have shopping tourette's. When someone says something like, "Hey, those are cute shoes," I tend to blurt out where I got them and for how much or if they were on sale. I tell myself I'm simply being helpful; maybe the person saw my shoes and it reminded her she needed a new pair. I really think that person should know Target and Kohl's are having awesome sales, but get there fast because both sales end Sunday, at midnight.

In addition to shopping issues, I write better than I speak. For one thing, I hate the sound of my voice. I think I sound like a man transitioning to a woman, or vice versa. But mostly, I often find I literally can't SPEAK: I either cannot get the words to come out of my mouth in a manner any other human speaking my language could even hope to interpret, or I choose words that are the opposite of swank or poised or even slightly thoughtful.

Real time example of this: C, M, and I went to a party last week. Mr. X, an acquaintance we haven't seen in many years, showed up as a surprise to the guest of honor. He said hello to C and me, then for no apparent reason whatsoever, because neither of us looked at his abdominal area and wondered out loud what the heck kind of unnatural disaster had happened there, he grabbed his stomach and said, "Yeah. I've put on quite a bit of poundage over the last few years. Pregnancy sympathy." (His wife had twins a couple of years ago.)

Then? Exactly 1.5 minutes later? I was chasing M around the kitchen. Mr. X wandered in, looked at us, and said, "Toddlers are hard work, aren't they? We spend a lot of time chasing ours all over the house." And I answered, "Yeah, they're definitely work. You'd think you'd lose a hundred pounds." Just as he was popping a mini-Snickers into his mouth.

On the ride home, C said, "I noticed Mr. X avoided you the rest of the party after that comment about his extra 100 pounds you made."

"You HEARD that??" I said.

"A lot of people heard that," said C. "What the hell were you thinking? Were you drunk?"

"No I wasn't drunk! And I didn't mean HIM when I said it. I was thinking about ME. As in, I need to lose about 100 pounds and can't believe I haven't because I chase a toddler around everywhere."

But in writing, you see, I am far more pithy and poised; things coming out of my brain usually make some type of sense. If only Life had delete keys and didn't pressure you to speak so immediately. Computers are sympathetic, because they let you have time to collect your thoughts. And your wits. Which I do not have in real time social situations, typically.

So Mr. X may have been generally avoiding me at the party, but I was avidly avoiding him. I find after I say something totally stupid it's best for everyone involved if I just keep myself company for the rest of the social outing.

I do tend to end up hanging out by myself a lot during social outings.

May 3, 2010

angry people in 24 hour wal*marts are bad for apple pie.

We live in the suburbs of a large metropolitan area in the deep south surrounded by angry people. I took a head count just the other day, and so far I've found these angry people living around me: angry tea partiers; angry Sarah Palin supporters and Glenn Beck fans; angry people who don't know what socialism is exactly but the president is black so he must be a socialist; angry people who are certain the illegals are all here to steal their corporate executive jobs right out from under their noses along with all their health care money that still requires a copay and a certain percentage of whatever outrageous charges the medical/pharmaceutical industry levies in their highly unregulated, wayward manner (and in spite of the fact the crippled American next door was just dropped from his health insurance on the account he was going BALD...because thank god for free market capitalism) and they're angry! They want justice! They want every single Mexican in America rounded up NOW, held in internment camps, and sent right back to Mexico where they belong, even if they came here from Nicaragua because Mexicans, Nicaraguans, what's the difference?

There are very angry people who long for the days of the Confederacy when Jeff Davis was in charge, and they slap about 10 Confederate flag stickers on the back of their SUVs, right next to the faded pink and yellow striped, light blue/yellow starred American flags they slapped on their truck on September 12, 2001 and promptly forgot about...and all those stickers are right under a sticker proclaiming this is America and real Americans only want to hear English spoken, which is next door to a sticker that says "Jesus Loves You." And then, of course, there are the angry people who think people who refuse to wash in the blood of Jesus are refusing to do so to personally destroy the lives of those walking around bloodied by Jesus.

In other words, lately I've noticed I live around a lot of angry people who seem to be deeply angry about things that actually either help them in ways they seem to have never deeply contemplated (public libraries, Social Security, unemployment assistance, and access to Medicare for example, which all have their problems but who the heck wants to go without free books and unemployment assistance in this kind of an economy?). Or they come across as incredibly indignant about things that have very little effect on the day-to-day machinations of their they really think an undocumented day laborer is plotting to invade their home because he has his eye on their grandma's antique crocheted doilies? I mean, honestly. We've been robbed, twice, and both times have been by white meth addicts looking for stuff to sell for drugs...where's the outrage in that? Nowhere, is where, because when I tell people I've been robbed twice, they tend to ask: "Were they Mexican?" or "Was it gang-related?" and become confused when I say quietly, "No, we were robbed by Caucasians." (Four of whom actually were caught thanks to Magnum P.I.-wannabe neighbors--which is how I know they were white, and meth heads. Otherwise, I'd still be handing out my standard response to loaded-with-white-privilege-and-all-its-advantages questions from otherwise very nice people: "I don't know. I wasn't home to get a good look when they came through, which, thank god. Because they were clearly very angry, judging by the size of the rocks they used to break our front door's windows with.").

So instead of getting peeved about real problems like what methamphetamine does to people's brains and lives; people being treated terribly unfairly by conglomerate corporations which are regularly given a free pass by the US government; the fact there are children in this country who are being sexually, physically, and mentally abused by adults in power over them; that there are children in the United States of America who don't have access to proper nutrition or medical care and a whole slew of other really wrong things, these angry people I see all around me are getting totally worked up over crap like
whether or not the two old ladies yapping away in Spanish while standing in line behind them at the 24 Hour Supercenter Wal*Mart last night were making fun of baseball and apple pie and ridiculing the US Constitution. Which they probably were, because baseball games are overpriced and apple pie is not as tasty as pumpkin, and Congress is totally making a mockery of the US Constitution and has been for decades.

And I suspect this is not only happening in the deep south where I live; I bet many Americans live around similar people directing their anger in misguided ways, and live in the vicinity of a nearby 24 Hour Supercenter Wal*Mart, or maybe just a Dollar General Store. And if you are not American, I bet you live around a lot of angry, misguided people.

My point is, why all the anger? So what if Obama is a damn socialist hell bent on destroying the good name of Jesus Christ and muddying the holy image of all Jeff Davis' Confederacy never was? There are still rainbows every once in awhile--remember how God promised whenever it got really bad, he'd send us a rainbow to remind us he decided never to smite the whole world again, that he'd let us do that to ourselves instead? There's always that: Wall Street is making a mockery of the American taxpayer and we're on our way to smiting ourselves right out of a perfectly decent planet to live on, but God will not smite this world, ever ever again. And! Dairy Queen continues to make their tremendously tasty Blizzards, of many different varieties. And TV still airs King of Queens re-runs, and Netflix and TiVo are two extremely awesome concepts. And Little Miss M actually tries to bottle feed our cat Tasha every once in awhile, which is always cute to witness.

I just have to remind myself, when confronted yet again by these angry vigilante mobs: my family of rats and I live in a nice green and gray stone house, right next to a mosquito-infested detention pond the county government swears they take care of every summer but I wonder. Does that stop me from sitting on my back porch with an iced tea once every few summer days because I'm inside writing borderline racist letters to the editor about it? No. Why? Because I have far more important things to do, like wasting time looking at hot pictures of Gerard Butler online. I simply refuse to get my panties in a wad about county government waste and ignoring real problems like peach-sized mosquitoes dive bombing whole houses in a sci-fi/horror film like manner, and just happily slather some lavender onto M and myself instead, because I read once that mosquitoes really hate lavender. And I think that's nice.

In other related news: I'm internally debating about sharing this blog's postings on my facebook page. I have a couple of contacts who live in my neighborhood near the pond who may not know about the mosquitoes, or the effects lavender has on them. And Sweet Mary Jane Jones, I don't want THAT to be an HOA topic of discussion because C is on the board of directors and I'll never hear the end of it. But also because I don't want people combing my blog posts here wondering if I'm talking about them, when I'm actually just talking about me (I just realized this was a really angry blog entry).

life is a highway, wear your seatbelt.

I've blogged before. This is my fifth start. I find I stop and restart, and when I restart I like to restart totally fresh: clean slate, no links, no prior posts, just blank space loaded with possibilities. I'm still waiting for A&E's Intervention to do an episode on people like me.

The last time I stopped was on the account of having a baby. I actually had tons of time to do things like write long-winded pointless blogs when I was raising a newborn, which totally surprised me. Mostly because leading up to her birth everyone said, "You'll have no time to even shower with a newborn around!" And then after she was born, everyone said, "Wow, I bet you really wish you had more time to do things like take a shower!" (I do realize it is entirely possible these were not warnings as much as they were pleas for me to slap on some deodorant.)

Well, liars, no. Turns out, you can just slap those suckers into an automatic baby swing for about 10 minutes while you shampoo and condition. And then 10 more minutes while you do your makeup. And then 10 more minutes while you blow dry your hair. That's 30 minutes total I had to myself every day while I was navigating Life with a newborn. And sometimes I took another 60 minutes of baby swing time to check email, facebook, and empty the dishwasher. Life with a newborn was easy. It's when they start crawling that your life, social and otherwise, goes to hell. And when they start toddling around and get all Mama mama me me me pay attention to MEEEEE, your clean dishes start sitting in the dishwasher for days on end and don't even get me started on what happens to your laundry or the general state of your bathroom counter. Hazmat professionals run screaming from houses with toddlers in them.

I think what I'm trying to communicate here is--no promises about how long this one will last. But I promise to be fun until I can't anymore.

When not starting (and stopping) blogs, I teach small children how to express themselves appropriately in English, and I'm married to a man who likes to make lists (who will be called C for our purposes here). Like any relationship worth having, it's been full of of the kind of crap Jesus Christ lived to create parables about.

We're a Pisces power couple: C is a Pisces, but acts Aries. Which means he's a cut throat negotiator (he actually does do this for a living), and that means arguments are extreme makeovers in frustration at our house. I'm a Pisces with a Moon sign in Cancer. Translation: I cry at Hallmark commercials and the sight of dead bunnies on the road. My brother, an evil Aquarius who insisted on voting for McCain in 2008 in spite of Sarah Palin's bizarre presence, thinks this gives him license to question my mental capabilities.

Our (former easy newborn now pushy toddler) 18 month old daughter is Little Miss M. She's a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Scorpio. The fact she has a Pisces-Aries father and a Pisces-Cancer mother creates minor Pisces-Scorpio skirmishes right now, and my Pisces intuition intuits there will be Pisces-Scorpio major standoffs in about 5 years followed by full out Pisces-Scorpio battles in about 10. I'm being quite serious here. She's already started the stare down competitions at bath time. And she points at people while babbling sharp, indignant commands nobody can understand because, literally, they're indignant babbles. But make no mistake: she's incredibly indignant. About quite a lot.

Everyone in my nuclear family was born in a Year of the Rat. In my family, there are literally three rats: a Metal Rat (C), a Water Rat (me), and an Earth Rat (M). Please read this with an ominous voice in your head: We are all rats.

For some reason, I sense Chinese astrologists will tell me this is NOT auspicious.

Since we're on the topic of astrological phenomena, in another blog remind me to address in minute detail my weird notions regarding religion. I will note here I have a deep-seated belief in God. Who may or may not be a Him, or a Her, but most likely is simply a Being. Or a Not Being. In fact, I have no problem interchanging the term "God" with "The Universe" with "All That Is and Ever Was" quite comfortably. Last Christmas one of my sister in law's relatives wondered out loud after reading my holiday newsletter if I was in cahoots with Tom Cruise. I was defended by my sister in law's grandmama, who said in a very Steel Magnolias way, "Now you stop that! 'The Universe' is Amy's secret code word for 'God'!" I predict Grandmama will one day be canonized as the patron saint of spiritual talkers who actually have no idea what the hell they're talking about. If the Vatican can get over the fact she's a Southern Baptist.

My point is that I really have no idea what is driving this crazy roller coaster ride, I just know it isn't me. And you should be thanking the Karmic Forces for that. Everyone who knows me will tell you: When you ride with her, seatbelt up, as tight as possible, and keep your eyes closed. For the love of god, Keep. Your. Eyes. Closed. (For the record, every major wreck I've ever been in has always been someone else's fault, and I have official police documentation of that.)

To summarize: Life is a highway, and you'll want to wear a seat belt if you ride it with me. I'm related to both fish, scorpions, and rats, many many rats. People totally lie about newborns vs. babies vs. toddlers. (Why?) I'm inconsistent, and most Chinese shamans would shake their head as soon as I walked into the room. Yes. That pretty much sums me up.

Also: I lived in Arizona for three entire years and never once visited the Grand Canyon, but I could tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Encino, California.
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