Friday, June 30, 2006

Enforced Secret Joy #4 - Getting Away From It All

It’s always cheesy when your hear your church leader plugging the weekend retreat that you should sign up for by saying something along the lines of how you really need to get out of L.A. And it’s even worse when it turns out to be true.

Our 11:00 church retreat was held at a place called El Capitan Canyon, which was north of Santa Barbara, and a quite lovely place. The cabins were more like hotel rooms than actual places where you had it to rough it with a sleeping bag and hike to the bathrooms. (they apparently have that option as well, but 11:00 church wisely went with the cabin choice for the lot of us.)

I didn’t stay in the loft, but my cabinmate, the lovely Darla did. She didn’t arrive until late at night, so the grafitti wasn’t discovered until the morning. Of course I had to take a picture of it. Of course I did. Did you not get the memo that I distinctly requested a Christian cabin? Now I’m gonna have all sorts of sinful thoughts! ha ha ha. I’ve often heard that Christian groups that go on retreats or trips to Disneyworld are in fact, the worst behaved, the rowdiest, and have the most sex than any other groups that go on group outings. And there is zero evidence that the ones that left their grammatically incorrect scribblings were of the Christian persuasion. But I think it’s funny to think about.

I was often up in the morning way before the rest of my cabinmates were, so I’d go off hiking around with the camera and the Ipod going. Shame on you! You should be communing with nature! Turn off that Ipod and listen to the tweeting birds right now! God’s trying to talk to you through the buzzing insects amongst the hills and you’d rather listen to the Memento soundtrack! Boo! You’re not a Christian! Double boo!

So I stopped and took off the Ipod and attempted to listen. To be on the lookout for God. Hark? Do I hear something? The majestic sweepings of an Almighty Deity walking around?

Here’s the thing about trying to Look For God. When it’s this forced, when it’s this deliberate, God doesn’t wanna play ball. At least, not with me. It’s kinda like that one X-Files episode, where the bad guy was so super fast, you couldn’t see him in front of you, only out of the corner of your eye. What WAS that episode? I know I didn’t dream it up by myself. I’m gonna have to ask Ex-Roomie Cackle, he knows everything X-Files related.

Anyhow, that’s what it feels like, like God’s hiding in my peripheral vision. I can’t see Him in front of me, but He may be peeking out from the side. And when I turn my head, He’s gone again. And you’d think if the whole purpose of this trip was to commune with Him, that He wouldn’t be this hard to find.

So here we go, we haven’t played this game in awhile. Where’s God In The Picture?

Picture Number One – The Grassy Area On Top Of The Hill.

Now is God…
1. The grass?
2. The fountain?
3. The view?
4. The mist hanging on the nearby hill?
5. The grassy part of the nearby hill, and my sin is the brown part of the hill, and if I will only let the righteousness fall on me like rain, my brown parts will be green like God again?

Hmmmmm

Picture Number Two – Walking Through The Forest On The Way To The Beach.

Now is God…
1. The path?
2. The shady parts?
3. The sunny parts?
4. The bush?
5. The tree with the branch that looks like an arm pointing the way to, um, um, the BUSH!?

Hmmmmm.


Picture Number Three – El Capitan Beach



Now is God…
1. The carefree child skipping in the water?
2. The mighty mountain rising in the background?
3. The people in the water struggling against the tide of SIN to make it to land?
4. The crashing tides, endless and never changing?
5. The dead person on the left hand side? (sorry, they’re sleeping.)

Hmmmmm.





Last Picture – The Train Tracks By The Trail.



Surely, God must be…
1. The SUNBEAM! Duh.
2. The iron supports of the bridge, which is the word of God, holding up my life to the world?
3. The camera lens?
4. the world in front of the camera?
5. in my head, taking the pictures?

Hmmmmm.

See, this is what happens when I’m forced to turn the Ipod off. I make crap like this up.

Thank you God, for getting away from it all. Thank you for El Capitan Canyon, for the cabin that had towels and bedding and rude graffiti because it made me laugh. Thank you for nature, for the hills, the trails, the mist and the beach. Thank you for helping me to get over myself and to go to the retreat to see all of this. Thank you for being there even when I can’t see you, and play silly games like Name The Noun In The Picture And That’s God! to amuse myself. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Definition of Dignity

Yes, I survived the retreat, marbles somewhat intact and everything. The weekend itself was fairly uneventful, and if I do blog about it, it’ll be next week, as I seem to run about a week late on my blogging adventures. I think it’s better that way. Perspective and everything.

Besides, Karaoke Coffee Club was two weeks ago, and I haven’t had a chance to talk about it. This is the third go around for me, and I came prepared this time. Working in the kitchen the last two times showed me that CCCO has a dire need for kitchen essentials such as sponges, dishwashing soap and towels for drying wet dishes, so a quick trip to the store before I went down there would make the Cleaning Of The Pizza Pans much easier. But there’s so many newbies that are more frightened of the place than I am, so I relinquish my Cleaning Of The Pizza Pans to them, and hang out in the main room for much of the time.

Yes, I did the electric slide with Dexter again. Poor Dex was harangued by a woman who was mighty irked that he was a little hesitant with the steps. She did not feel, as I did, that Dex deserved mucho points for getting up there in the first place, and basically yanked him around through the steps, exasperated that there was a guy who wasn’t SLIDING so much as STEPPING. But Dex was a trouper, he really was.

The other funny thing about the Electric Slide is that when they call out “Where are my sliders!?” And you run up there to claim your tiny piece of the floor, you’re faced with the realization of Which Way Are We Going First? I’d always thought that you go to the right first, because, well, I dunno. Don’t most people go to the right? Seriously, it’s an old Disney trick. If you’re running around a Disney theme park, and you’re approaching a line for a ride like Space Mountain, and there are two queues, you always pick the left one, since most people bear to the right. Same thing with movie theaters. You walk into the movie theater from the back, and you can go either to the left or right, and you’re trying to guess which side will be less crowded, go to the left. Again because most people bear right.

“Bear left.” “Right, frog.” Sorry, never pass up an opportunity to slip a Muppet joke in there, even if it doesn’t quite fit.

So I’m thinking we’re gonna start the Electric Slide to the right, and Dexter’s Soon To Be Nemesis hollers out “We goin’ to the right!” Which makes sense to me. Unfortunately, there appears to a Lefty Leader who has the other half of the crowd in their sway, and they’re goin’ to the left. Which makes for a lot of initial chaos, and people being jostled around like pinballs. But it sorts itself out eventually.

It was an uncharacteristically mellow night this time around, as most people were singing melancholy and/or low key stuff. And I watched the people sing and clapped for them, and the phrase “Dignity” kept banging around my head.

Dignity. It’s kinda of an old school concept for something that’s still relevant as it ever was. Good old Webster’s defines dignity as “The quality of being worthy of esteem or honor; worthiness.” I think one basic Christian principle holds that every person has dignity, where things get messed up is that people don’t necessarily think they have worthiness, or they let other people take that away from them through words, deeds, action, fists, what have you.


And one of the most interesting things about Karaoke Coffee Club is that dignity shines like a beacon through these folks. They may look strange, they may smell funny, they may not have all their marbles, but they are PEOPLE, dammit. And they’re here, and if they sing off key, they are going to sing GLORIOUSLY off key. They are going to OWN their off key-ness. And more than a few can sing gloriously ON key. This gal in particular, is awesome. I don’t see this dignity in the “Spare some change?” folk. Those people look lost or ashamed. And these Karaoke Coffee Club people may be no better off than those people. But the Karaoke Coffee Club people are in touch with their dignity, and that might be vital to survival. To recognize, for however long, that they do have worthiness.

I took these pictures with a crappy Kodak disposable camera, because I forgot my digital that night, so these are crappy quality. But I like the way you see the joy and the dignity radiating through these people. I will go to astounding lengths to avoid getting my picture taken, because me and the camera lens are not great friends, and we shoot spitballs at each other whenever we can. But these people didn’t mind getting their picture taken one bit. They own every bit of their essence, and it is simply glorious to see.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Enforced Secret Joy #3 - The Crazy World Inside A Flower

Hey everybody! Check these things out! Aren't they CRAZY WEIRD COOL!? I'm absolutely a flower idiot, so I don't even know what kind they are, but it's more of the inside that trips me out.

Check it out! That's not liquid or anything! That's all solid markings on the inside of the flower petals. It looks like milk with raspberry flecks in it! Also reminds me of the sugary stuff inside my beloved Cadbury Eggs, or other kinds of Easter Candy. I can't believe this kind of detail goes into the inside of a flower. Thank you, God, for flowers. Thank you for flowers, for soft petals, for colors, and shades of color. Thank you for the crazy detail that makes up the inside and outside of a flower. Thank you for these flowers, and the way they tripped me out. Thank you for my digital camera, thank you for overcoming my usual procrastinator nature and taking these pictures when I did, since they were gone yesterday. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.

I need extra prayer, good vibes, Happy Thoughts from everyone for this weekend! I am going to that church retreat that I don't wanna go to! YAAAAAAAY! It really was a struggle, and in the end, I remembered that The Things That I Don’t Wanna Do Are Exactly The Thing I Have To Do In Order To Learn Stuff Or Some Other Crappy Hallmark Card Moment Of Ick. Besides, it’s not like anything BAD happens to people on church retreats, right? I mean, sure, yeah, the last one I went to two years ago, I had a minor nervous breakdown, but that was only because I was faced with the stark realization that I had never felt the presence of God, so no big deal, right? Right?

PEOPLE! PRAY FOR ME! BUNCHES BUNCHES O’ PRAYER PLEASE!

Oh, I am SO not a board game person. I am SO not a sing around the campfire person. I AM a S’mores person, but I prefer to take my S’mores and run, and I’m pretty sure that’s not happening at THIS retreat. They’re onto me, see. A lot of the people from this retreat read this blog. (Insert Amy waving.) Hi!

I will be back on Sunday, and I’m going to go ahead and say that bumps my blogging schedule to late on Monday again. But I am taking my digital camera, so hopefully I’ll have some fun pics to post. And all my marbles intact.

Monday, June 19, 2006

All The Broken Ladies In The House!

So 8:45am church (which I will go back to calling 9:00am church, since they’re moving back to that. Fifteen minutes more of sleep! Yay!) has a Singles Night every month. It’s like church again, but the congregation is supposed to be single people, and the talks they give are about issues facing singles. It’s invariably a lot of common sense no matter what your religious affiliation, but it’s always nice to hear somebody in the church address these things. (Dating, Sex, Relationships, how you deal with these issues with the Bible as your basis.)

The most recent one was last week and the talk was given by a pretty congenial guy, Mr. Dude, who’s spoken before. The last time he talked, the topic was “Why Are You Still Single” and he split his talk in two, offering a list of advice for women and for men. This time, his talk was addressed specifically to the women, and it was about “Relationships: How To Deal With The Broken Man.” Mr. Dude runs down a series of things, all of which make sense for the most part:

1. You have to speak to him practically, as opposed to relationship wise. If you want him to know something, you have to tell him, as opposed to hoping he’ll intuit it. Men deal much better with practical speaking. Nobody deals well with “We have to talk.” The walls go up, and it’s instant defensiveness.

2. Men have issues, just like women. They just don’t talk about it.

3. Men learn and want to be strong but you have to communicate to his strength. A man’s challenge is to bring strength to the relationship (this point could be argued for days, by the way, let’s skip over it for now.)

4. Don’t challenge him, speak to his potential, and watch him rise to the occasion. (again, let’s not bicker about what “don’t challenge him” means. I think it harkens back to “don’t remind him of his mistakes” which is not to say that you can’t tell him when you think he’s heading in a wrong direction, but to do it in a loving kind manner.)

But a lot of the points he made about Dealing With Broken Men can also be applied to Dealing With Broken Women. And those points were:

1. Respect him (her), respect the fact that he’s a man (a woman.)

2. Trust him (her) and treat him (her), the way you want to be treated.

3.When you remind a man (woman) of his (her) mistakes, he (she) falls further.

4. Don’t play with his (her) emotions.

5. Get into his (her) world. Find out what makes him (her) tick, what gets him (her) excited.

But then he ends his talk without skipping to the obvious: Relationships: How To Deal With The Broken Woman. I thought this was a little lacking, given the fact that in his previous talk, he gave equal time to give points specifically to both the men and the women, and that this evening, even he was a little surprised that the talk was so short, so he obviously had time to go there if he wanted to.

So, me being me, I decided that I should approach him after the evening was over and ask him when the talk of “Relationships: How To Deal With The Broken Woman” would be coming. Which I did. Very politely. Yes, it’s possible. Mr. Dude ruefully chuckles and admits that he realized in the middle of preparing tonight’s speech that there should be a part 2 like that. Then he hedged a bit and said, “If they invite me back to speak.” Which was a little odd, since Mr. Dude is on staff, and they mainly have people from staff speak on Singles Night.

Mr. Dude also said that he didn’t have much experience with dealing with Broken Women. He said he did pastoral counseling mainly to men. He said that his experience would be limited to his wife, and helping her through her past brokenness. “Well, that’s where you start.” I say. He said that if there were any thoughts that I’d like to share on How To Deal With The Broken Woman, to please let him know, though he didn’t give me his email address. That doesn’t stop me from emailing though, as previous adventures have shown.

So I thought it’d be interesting to throw the topic out there to you guys and gals. How SHOULD you deal with a Broken Woman? The official context is that this talk would be given to a Single’s Night where both men and women are in attendance, but the talk is aimed specifically at men, like how this night’s talk was aimed specifically at women.

Let’s go ahead and get the silly jokes out of the way, like “You use superglue, duct tape, and Godiva Chocolate.”

How Do You Deal With A Broken Woman? As my friend Xavier said last night (and man, has he been waiting for me to mention him, ha ha ha), “You have to define what Broken is.” And he’s right in that there are all kinds of Brokenness, but you don’t have to quantify it unless you want to. I’ll start:

Recognize there are Venting Times, and Asking For Help Times. Men by nature are Fixers, and they can mistake Venting as Asking For Help. If I’m telling you something that’s bothering me (there’s a church retreat on Friday and I don’t wanna go), I probably need to Vent about it first (I hate retreats, they give me hives.) Venting is not Asking For Help (please help me come up with a weekend plan so I don’t have to go to this retreat.) Venting is me explaining how I feel about the problem, how the problem affects me (Hives, people, hives. It aint pretty.) I tend to think, rightly or wrongly, that men zero in on the Problem part and think “Hey, there’s a problem. How can I fix it?” And try to interject with a Solution when we’re still in the Venting phase. This then makes women feel like men aren’t listening to what we’re saying. The Asking For Help part comes after about five minutes worth of ranting, raving, possible tears, and ends with some variation of “So what am I supposed to do?” That’s when guys can come in with the Solution part. If I never say that, it means I wasn’t looking for a solution.

Recognize that we can’t control our emotions sometimes, but you can’t control them for us. We’re women. Blame it on hormones, or other biological wiring, or too much tequila, but we can be completely irrational, and while we like to think we can own it, inside, we’re scared of it. It is absolutely ZERO fun to be curled in the fetal position on the floor, sobbing our eyes out, not able to get up, only to have enough energy to grab the phone, and then fall back on the floor. It is absolutely ZERO fun to be so consumed with a white hot anger cloud that you literally shake, feel your internal organs dropping five feet while still inside your body, and gnashing your teeth into itty bitty nubs. But we can’t stop it. Please believe me, if I could stop it, I would. I want you to think of me as an Extraordinary Goddess. I don’t like it if you see me this way, so if you do, it means it was completely out of my control. Do not try to stop it for me. Do not try to talk me down/up/sideways. BUT. Do not leave (unless I say “Get the hell out!”) It will make me feel worse. Sit beside me and hold my hand, and wait it out with me. Because going through storms of any Nature, whether Mother or Myself, is always better with someone holding your hand.

Support me, but don’t carry me. This one’s a toughie, because there are some women out there who do want men to do all the heavy lifting. And if we’re particularly distraught, it seems like the easiest fix is to not only give us the solution, but to start enacting it for us. The whole White Knight Syndrome. I will slay this dragon, I will cut you free from that post, and I’ll escort you back to your brand new kingdom as my bride. But women are strong, strong strong, stronger than you think. So yes, we can absolutely pull ourselves off the floor from the fetal position and yes we can absolutely put that butcher knife back into the kitchen drawer, but we’re gonna do it on our own time. Once we do stand up, and once we do shut the drawer, we’re gonna be wobbly. That’s where the support comes in. But we’re standing up by ourselves.

So what do you all think? What else can I tell Mr. Dude about us Broken Women? Everyone can comment, men, women, Anonymous, Mr. Lurker and his cousin Mr. Vicarious. Truthfully, this may end up opening a huge can of worms. But hey, what’s life if not spiced up with a few Bad Ideas here and there, right?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

My Post Is Not Ready! YAAAAAAAAY!

Hey everybody!

Been swamped for a variety of reasons, but am working on a post that is AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION! I'm very excited about it, and I hope that you all will be too and will want to participate, BUT. It's not ready yet. Will hopefully be up later tomorrow. Check back soon...

Friday, June 16, 2006

Enforced Secret Joy #2 – My Roses Are Blooming

Back in the fall of 2002, a tar pit decided to burble up in our front yard. This was unusual, but not surprising, given the fact that we live in the vicinity of the L.A. Tar Pits, and various neighbors on the block previously had trouble with tar oozing in through basements, sidewalks, etc. Our very own Stephen King short story! Here's a picture of it, with my albino hand for perspective (it is so very very hard to be an albino in L.A.)

You can’t really do anything when there’s a tar pit in your front yard. You can’t call the city to come pump it out, because, well, it’s tar, and it’s all interconnected with other tar streams, and if you try to pump it out, lightpoles, fire hydrants, and trees will suddenly get sucked into the earth.

So in keeping with our particular sense of humor, we bought a miniature Wooly Mammoth from the George C Page La Brea Tar Pit Museum gift store and stuck it right by the edge. (it’s the thing in the picture that looks like a dog turd.) That’s about as much fun as you can have with a tar pit in your front yard, by the way. Anything else like making a Tar Baby or other Brer Rabbit jokes would have been too messy, and then the turpentine has to come in to clean everything up and it’s a nightmare all over.

So life went on, the tar pit burbled and hissed (it was especially active late at night, and if you happened to be coming home and weren’t prepared, it could really freak you out. “Mrrrrrrrrrr. Sssssssss. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN TONIGHT YOUNG LADY! Pop pop POP!”) and we waited for it to grow bigger and swallow the house like a primordial sinkhole.

But instead, it decided to retreat. Just sorta crusted over. It took the miniature Wooly Mammoth with it, too. Millions of years from now, they will do an excavation and determine that earth was populated by very small pieces of plastic with tusks.

We didn’t trust it at first, thinking that it must be a thin layer of earth, and the tar would break through it if we stepped on it. But it remained solid, no more tar for another year.

Enter my Mom, the 4’11 dynamo phone harpy, who I love very very much. My Mom loves me very very much too, and she shows it by nagging me every weekly phone conversation to do this, that or the other. I thought that one of the bonuses of moving out of the house when I went to college was that I would escape the Loving Harpfulness. But no. if there’s a phone or email, mutual friend, or homing pigeon around, my Mother will find a way to tell me over and over that I should do this, that, or the other. She’s awesome, she really is.

When I mentioned that the tar pit had retreated, leaving a solid mucky bare spot in our front yard where nothing would grow, Mom immediately decided that I should go buy some roses and planters, and put them over the bare spot. Yes, yes, this is exactly what Amy should do. Yes, yes, she should do it. Yes, yes, Amy, please do this. Yes, yes, Amy, why haven’t you done it? Yes, yes, Amy, have you done it yet? Yes, yes, Amy, have you done it YET? Yes, yes, Amy, you NEED TO DO THIS.

Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! Okay, okay, okay, I’ll do it! JUST STOP WITH THE HARPING!

I went to Target, (where everyone gets their gardening needs, right?) and bought two red rose plants, and three yellow rose plants for the back. Bought the soil, the plant food, the spray stuff to keep white stuff and bugs off of them. Read the directions, planted the roses in the planters, fed them the food, threw buckets and buckets and buckets of water on them, and three years later, I have these beautiful things. That's not tar they're standing in, that's how much I water them. I do not scrimp when it comes to water and my roses.


Mom was right. About the roses, about nagging me to get the roses, about all of it. Which means I must mention that SHE’S A SHORTY! SHE’S SUPER SHORT, PEOPLE! I WAS TALLER THAN HER WHEN I WAS A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL! SHE NEEDS TWO SEAT CUSHIONS TO SEE OVER THE STEERING WHEEL IN THE CAR!

Ha ha ha ha.




I love my Mom. These pictures and this Enforced Secret Joy post are for her. I especially like this one, because it’s got bruises. I don’t know if that’s the official term for the dark spots, but where some Flower Purists may think that makes them damaged, I dig ‘em. Gives the flower character, I think. Beauty with Bruises.

The roses are a joy. Thank you God, for the roses, for bruised beauty, for the color red, and the color green. Thank you God, for this house, this front yard, and the receeding tar. Thank you God, for the hysterical joke that buried in the front yard is a plastic miniature Wooly Mammoth. Thank you for my Mom, for her adorable smallness, for her brilliant gardening ideas, for her phone harpy ways that result in secret joys. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Is It Sexism, Or Are My Boobs Really That Intimidating?

This is a boob post. Mom, you may wanna skip this one, or at the very least, do NOT print it out for Dad. (You may also want to not have read the below post, especially when I say the phrase “Afterglow.” )

I have boobs. Most chicks do. On their own, they’re not really impressive, not the way my ass is. My ass goes around unassisted, and gets unsolicited comments ALL THE TIME. I suspect my ass is winking at people behind my back, actually.

So no, my boobs are not that great on their own. (I think my Mom’s are bigger. But then again, she’s breast fed two kids with hers.) But then I discovered the joy of the push up bra. (A secret joy! 1 and a half!) Suddenly, my shape matches in the way that Pop Culture says it’s supposed to match. My shadow on the sidewalk sticks out in the front and in the back. You have no idea what this means to a chick, and before you leave a comment about how I shouldn’t let Pop Culture dictate what I look like, and enjoy what nature gave me, you should understand that YOU probably have bigger boobs than I do. Because most everyone does. (Also, every time you judge me, I get a free set of steak knives in heaven. It’s TRUE!)

Yes, I’m tying this to religion. In separate instances this year, I have heard pastors in 8:45am church and 11:00am church plead with the ladies in their congregations to please please PLEASE dress appropriately. And they’re not just talking about in church, but all the time.

Which makes me wonder, Holy Crapola, what are these women wearing that would prompt a statement like that? I’m no Hoochie Mama, I probably have a higher sense of decorum that comes from being from Alabama, but I like d├ęcolletage as much as the next chickie, since mine is so hard to come by. I don’t let it hang out, but I have a few V neck and scoop neck shirts here and there. So he must be talking about ME! Both pastors explained in general terms, that men really can’t help themselves when it comes to suggestive stuff, whether on billboards, on magzine covers, or standing on two feet in front of them, so “Ladies, help us out.” And wear not-revealing stuff so that, I’m guessing, when they look at you, they see you, and not your boobs.

This irked me. See, I don’t ask the hotties sitting in my row at church to put a bag over their head to prevent me from staring at them and letting my imagination run away with all the supremely naughty things I would like them to do to me involving vanilla massage oil, and a rock climbing harness. No, no, I exercise discipline and restraint by not looking at them. Okay, I look at them once. Maybe twice. But then I focus on the music, and the Jumpers, and then I SHUT MY EYES.

Is it so much to ask for guys to do the same thing? Exercise discipline and restraint without me having to constantly second-guess my wardrobe every time I pull something out on Sunday, “Now, is this too much cleavage? Is this considered inappropriate? Will wearing this hella cute empire waist shirt from The Gap cause an uproar in the Pastor’s imagination?”

Oh come on, Amy! the hotties can’t do anything about their face, but you can make choices about your boobs! It’s not even the same thing!

Here’s the thing: To ask ladies to cover up because it makes men’s thoughts run wild like a stampede of elephants at a peanut butter factory instantly reduces women to mere body parts. Cover Up Your Rack. It Makes Me Feel Naughty. There’s a brain attached to this rack, see. You just acknowledged that when you look at me, there’s a possibility that all you see is my boobs. I appreciate the honesty (though since you’re a guy, I probably already knew that about you), but I also appreciate you trying harder on the self control thing, and acknowledging me as a whole complete person with eyes, ears, nose, and albino legs, as well as boobs.

The 8:45am guy also said if you’re a woman, don’t hug him from the front, do one of those side one arm hug things. He’s married, after all. Huh? I once attended a church (in L.A., by the way) where the pastor said very forthrightly that he doesn’t go to lunch with a female where it’s just him and her, because he’s married, after all. Huh? Are we TOXIC? No, no, the men just can’t help themselves, see. Your outfit, your boobs, your mere presence, is DANGEROUS, and may lead them into temptation. Nothing you can do about it. It’s them, not you. But they don’t want your hugs, and they don’t want your singular presence across the lunch table. They probably don’t wanna talk to you unless there’s another person around to take the pressure off.

I’ve never heard a female pastor say anything like that about a guy. Because guys don’t have boobs. They can BE boobs, but they don’t have them. Because women have more self control. Because men can’t control themselves and women can.

Shouldn’t the guys try harder? That’s all I’m saying. If they can’t control themselves, shouldn’t they TRY to control themselves? Isn’t that what they’re supposed to go to God for? As opposed to putting restrictions on the women around them? And, oh, I don’t know, maintain eye contact on my face, not below my neck? Because they’re not THAT impressive. They’re just boobs. But apparently intimidating. Which makes me giggle. After I’m done being irked.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Enforced Secret Joy #1 - Water Pressure

Thanks to everyone who’s commented on the God’s Secret Joys post below. It occurred to me after reading what you all thought that ultimately, God doesn’t keep secrets from us, so the whole concept of “His Secret Joys” is a little whacked. So THERE, Oswald! You’re WRONG! Ha ha ha.

However, in the interest of trying to add some uplift to the blog in the midst of the whining, grousing, and general grumpiness, I have decided that Fridays will now be Enforced Secret Joys Post Days. If I concentrate on what I think is a potential joy and blog about it, and give thanks to God for it, then I will remind myself that life aint so bad, for the most part.

(and yes, I know how privileged and lucky I am to live in the U.S., to be college educated, to have a job, to have a car, and to live in a house that has central air conditioning and a water/dryer. I know, I know, I know. Blah on you.)

(and maybe, just maybe, I’m procrastinating on my script. Possibly. . Definitely. Shut up.)

So the Debut Episode of Enforced Secret Joy Post #1 – Water Pressure!


I rediscovered this joy at my gym. My gym is a little on the smallish side, and I don’t blame the people who don’t choose to take showers there, but the one stall I was in on Monday had the most AMAZING water pressure going on.

See, the house I rent with Roomie Heckle and Jekyll is old old old, it’s warped, the floor buckles in certain places, plaster is peeling in certain areas, we’re pretty sure that the next earthquake that hits is gonna knock it down on our heads while we sleep and we’re all gonna die. Much much freedom comes from embracing that possibility, by the way. Like, not having to worry about taxes. Or getting older. Or wondering what to get Dad for Christmas. But then the earthquake never comes, and he’s stuck getting more golf balls. Sorry Dad. If you’d just TELL me what you want. “I don’t want anything.” Yeah, yeah, I know.

So the water pressure in the shower at the house isn’t the greatest, and when I stepped into the stall at the gym after my Pilates class and turned the faucet on, I was taken aback at how strong it was. And for a second, I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sensation of the water needles on my scalp.

I was reminded of how much I dig that feeling. Now, I have pretty masculine tastes and edges to my personality, but there are some things where I unabashedly admit to being a Quintessential Girly Girl, and they are:

1. Dogs and cats.
2. Flowers (but not on my furniture, and if at all possible, not on my clothes.)
3. Bubble baths (with a glass of Chardonnay, and candles, and music and la la laaaaa)
4. Chocolate
5. Patrick Dempsey on Grey’s Anatomy.

And number 6, the feeling of someone running their hands through my hair. Guys, you should know this already, but if you don’t, FOR GOD’S SAKE, RUN YOUR HANDS THROUGH YOUR WOMAN’S HAIR! SHE LOVES IT! SHE REALLY DOES! It releases some sort of Happy Hormone thing, I’m sure there’s a medical journal about it somewhere.

I was once cuddled up with a guy in the afterglow and he reached up and smoothed my hair back from my forehead. “Mmmmm, I love it when you do that,” I murmured. He smirked and said, “You realize I can never do it again, though, if you’re expecting it.”

DO NOT BE THAT GUY! SMOOTH HER HAIR BACK FROM HER FOREHEAD! RUN YOUR FINGERS THROUGH HER HAIR! WATCH OUT FOR TANGLES! IT MAY HAVE BEEN A BAD HAIR DAY! BUT DO IT ANYWAY! MAKE LIKE A PHRENOLOGIST AND RUB HER HEAD! GENTLY! SLOW CIRCLES! MAKE IT CASUAL! EVERY SINGLE TIME! GO DO IT NOW AND COME BACK TO THE BLOG! OH, AND GIVE ME CREDIT! JUST KIDDING!

What is it about that act? Besides the obvious sensual/sexual aspects of it? I think comfort’s a part of it. Maybe everyone’s Mom did that to them as a kid, so we equate it with nurturing, comfort, Somebody’s Gonna Take Care Of Me kind of thing. There’s also a certain aspect of…what am I trying to say. Control? Authority? It’s a power move, but it still relates to the whole Somebody’s Gonna Take Care of me. I can take care of me 99.9999999% of the time, but every now and then, I want that feeling that someone else could take the wheel. Jesus! Jesus take the wheel! Jesus! Run Your fingers through my hair! Ha ha ha.

Anyhow, that feeling rocks, and water pressure on my scalp is nifty cool keen. It’s a joy. Thank you God, for the gym, for the shower, for the water pressure, for my scalp, for the feeling of water needles on my scalp, for my hair, for the men who have run their hands through my hair in the past, thank you for the ones that will do it in the future. And yes, God, I know that I'm perfectly capable of running my own fingers through my own hair, but You know it's just not the same. It's like cooking your own gourmet three course meal and eating it alone. Better with someone. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.

There. Back to the script!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Joy and The Whining

There was a good devotional from the Oswald Chambers book yesterday, which shocks me as much as it doesn’t make sense to you, and is one more example of why Amy Needs To Stick With The Things She Doesn’t Like To Do Because They Will Invariably Prove To Be Of Value And Show Her Up As Dumb Dumb Dumb And Isn’t That Fun Fun Fun For Everyone Else To Read?

The devotional yesterday said What is the sign of a friend? That he tells you secret sorrows? No, that he tells you secret joys. Many will confide to you their secret sorrows, but the last mark of intimacy is to confide secret joys. Have we ever let God tell us any of His joys, or are we telling God our secrets so continually that we leave no room for Him to talk to us?

First, I was hard pressed to remember if I tell any of my friends secret joys. Then I came to the conclusion that I don’t have any. Secret JOYS, people! I have plenty of friends.

Do I have any secret joys? I’d like to feel like I’m pretty open with my joys, because they’re few and far between. Once a year, I like to go get KFC and drink a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew with it. It’s got enough grease and cholesterol to kill a mama hippo, and it’s so goooooooooood. What else. Um. Um. Um. Hang on, there’s gotta be something. I do a choreographed dance to the opening credits of Amazing Race. We’re looking for joy here, not stupidity. Joy, joy, joy. I got the joy joy joy down in my heart. YEAH, down in my heart, WOO, down in my heart. Huh. Man, you wanna send a Functionally Depressed Person into a tailspin, ask her to name her secret joys. Mrs. Field’s Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Sandwiches? Can we really not think of something that doesn’t have to do with food? Cracking open the first beer knowing you’ve got five more in the fridge?

So I’m not sure Oswald’s onto something with the Telling Your Secret Joys Equals An Intimate Friendship thing. But the next part was interesting to think about. Have we ever let God tell us any of His joys, or are we telling God our secrets so continually that we leave no room for Him to talk to us? Hmmmmm.

The thing about trying to Have A Conversation With God is that He doesn’t talk a lot. Much like some doomed relationships I’ve had with men in the past. So you would think I’d be used to it. But silly me, I want my Savior to TALK to me.

And I want more than just the fortune cookie In my time, not yours things I’ve gotten from Him in the past. And really, it’s His fault. Once He says something, you expect Him to KEEP TALKING. It’s not fair for Him to show up, drop one sentence like The answers will come and then run away. That’s like being on a date, having the dude say “I really like your eyes, they remind me of the one time I touched the hand of God on a beach in Maui” and then he clams up for the rest of the night. My eyes? Hand of God? Maui? Wanna elaborate?

That didn’t happen, by the way. My eyes aren’t that interesting. They’re the color of tap water. BFD.

So Oswald The Mostly Unfriendly Devotional But Today He’s Alright says I should let God, Mr. Remote and Distant, tell me His secret joys. And because He doesn’t talk as much as I want Him to, I have to fill in for His voice a lot of the time. It’s really easy to pretend to talk for God: if it’s fun, lazy, or something I want to do, say NO, DON’T DO IT. If it’s something that seems boring, involves talking to people, or something I don’t wanna do, say YES, YOU MUST DO IT. IT WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER PERSON. Kidding. Not. Yes. No. Yes. No. Maybe?

Here are some pictures I took on my way to the gym. I can walk to my gym and I think it’s awesome. (it’s not a secret joy, though, because the gym by definition is not a joy) It’s amazing to me that all of these flowers are things I see when I’m walking to my gym. When you think of Los Angeles, you don’t think it’s a place where flowers like grow naturally. I’ve got a Bird Of Paradise bush in my backyard, and they sell those things for, like $7 a pop in the flower section of the grocery store back home, and it’s growing wild in my backyard.

So if I were God and wanting to tell me all of My secret joys, I’d most likely use nature, because nature and little kids are used all the time in the Bible as examples of God’s love, and how God loves us, provides for us, have the trust of a child, love like a child, throw yourself down Mt. Abandon like a kid, la la laaaaaaa. I’m stunned that back in the day, God didn’t create a kid made of thistles to be the Perfect Example Of His Love.

So I could easily see God saying something like AMY! Check out this FLOWER! Isn’t it nifty cool KEEN!? Check out the color! Have you ever seen that kind of color before!? It’s the deepest blue/purple imaginable! It’d have even more detail if you could figure out how to use the macro function on your digital camera! But trust me! It’s got AWESOME DETAIL! And I put a yellow flower right next to it! BECAUSE I COULD!

Check out THESE ROSES! Aren’t they the BEST!? They’re HUGE! What kind of color is THAT! It aint in your Crayola box! Admire it! I command you right now to check this stuff OUT! Isn’t it beautiful! Isn’t it perfect!? Isn’t it useless!? But it’s a display of my power! Yay me!

OhmiME, check out this CAT! Isn’t this cat the CUTEST!? He’s just sleeping! He’s not waking up! You took the picture and he never opened his little kitty eyes! He’s taking a catnap! Literally! How funny! He’s got paw curlage! He’s got a little flower petal underneath his widdle iddy biddy kitty NOSE! It don’t come much cuter than that! Whoo hoo for cute! WHOO HOO FOR CUTE!

It’s kinda dumb to imagine speaking for God (though it is amusing to think he talks like a redneck, a Muppet, and a sixteen year old cheerleader all at the same time.) But these are the things you have to do to fill the silence. Because I DID stare at the flowers. I DID stare at the cat. I waited, and waited, and waited for something to come up. Nothing did. Cat never woke up. No, he wasn’t dead, I could see him breathing.

There was a guest speaker in 8:45am church last week and he said something that stuck with me. He referenced John 10, verse 27, “My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me.” Guest Speaker said, “Notice how Jesus didn’t say, ‘My sheep listen to my voice, and then wonder if it’s really me calling them, and think about it for awhile, and then decide it’s Me and follow.’” Yes, I know it’s a metaphor, and the sheep are actually people, and Jesus calling is the Bible, and therefore everyone who reads the Bible knows Jesus’s voice, and His commandments and blah blah Mcblabbity blah.

But if you’re supposed to have a personal relationship with God, if you’re encouraged to go to Him in prayer and tell Him your needs, you’re also supposed to listen for his answers. Meaning it’s not just about reading the Bible.

What do you think you’re gonna hear, Amy? A big booming thundering voice? The earth shaking? A burning Bird Of Paradise bush?

No, I read my Bible. I go to church. I hear the talk. I know it’s supposed to be a voice in the stillness of my soul. It’s still supposed to be a VOICE. Somewhere. I suspect there are people out there who hear it all the friggin’ time, and I wanna be one of those people. I see his work displayed. I admired the pretty flowers. I looked at the sleeping cat. I know what Abandon means. Where is He?!

This is why I’m convinced that the feminists that say God is a woman are drop dead wrong. God is a man. A man who doesn’t return my calls, because he’s too busy watching the Amy Show on the couch with a bowl of popcorn, and a beer, and giggling about how I’m getting everything wrong wrong wrong. Nice.