Sunday, January 28, 2007

When I Want To Smack Myself

I think we all can agree it’s much easier to give other people advice than it is to listen to it ourselves. I mean, I can sit here and blather on all I want to about how I don’t understand God, I don’t hear Him, I hate Mr. Purple Puffy Pants People telling me what I should do when it comes to Him, blah blah blabbity blah. But when it comes to telling other people what to do, oh MAN, am I all over it. Maybe I’m a Mr. Purple Puffy Panters myself. Except I would like to think that if my advice was clearly not helpful, my friends would tell me so. Hey, let’s make a pact, Faithful Reader, shall we? If we know each other well enough to where I either tell/email you what I think are helpful words of encouragement, and you think they are a big steaming pile of ostrich pus, you shall tell me immediately, mmmkay? I won’t be offended. I need to know when I’m being stupid. Um, now?

F’instance, I was over at Ambiva-vent, as Carlen is experiencing some spinning around You Led Me Into The Desert, When Are You Gonna Get Me OUT!? stuff that I had gone through last year myself. (Oh, I’m sure I’m still stuck IN the desert. But I’ve given up being upset about it. Takes too much energy. I’d rather watch zombie movies instead.) So I emailed her my thoughts, because Blogger must’ve had their Ostrich Pus detector on, as it was not letting me post publicly. And I came up with this little bon mot:

Nobody ever knows God the way they think they do, so cut yourself some slack. Because God loves to surprise people.

Now, I’m not sure where that thought came from, it was sandwiched in between “God’s not mad at you, He’s mad at me,” and “Go take a long hot bath because you’re not paying for the water bill.” And Carlen, ever the gracious lovely lady that she is, emailed me back and thanked me. But as I re-read that sentence, it struck me as particularly annoying, cloying, and not even true, as there probably are some people who DEFINITELY know who God is. Just because I don’t doesn’t mean everyone else is as much of a dumbass as I am. (I will stand by the God Loves To Surprise People idea, though.)

Secondly, at my small group last week, we’re discussing one of my favorite topics, How Am I Supposed To Be Nice To People I Can’t Stand (and I didn’t even start the topic, Giggly did) and there’s all sorts of churchy talk about God’s will, and Obeying, and Being Led Into The Desert (where you shall spin endlessly for EONS, you will) and finally I say,

“We’re called to Obey, we’re not called to like it.”

And amazingly enough, the group murmurs in agreement, and at least one person says, “Good point.”

Good point? It f’ing SUCKS. Why didn’t someone call me on it? If someone had said that to me, I would’ve punched them in the face. Metaphorically speaking. But I’d definitely cry all sorts of foul, and then promptly rant about it on my blog. Because “We’re called to Obey, we’re not called to like it.” carries the undercurrent of To Be A Happy Chipper Christian Means You Must Be Miserable About Something All The Time. (And technically, if that’s true, it means EVERYONE’s a Christian and they don’t know it, because everybody’s miserable about something all the time.)

“We’re called to Obey, we’re not called to like it” means that all Christians are just little depressing blobs shuffling around, never lifting their heads up to the sun, stuck in the Gulag O’Life. When that’s not the case at all. Being a Christian is supposed to be freeing, liberating, the best thing going, man I can’t believe what God’s going for me, it’s AWESOME.

At least, that’s what they tell me.

But I don’t know where those annoying icky poo strands of advice came from. And the idea that my subconscious is taking on Ostrich Purple Puffypants Puss hues is not comforting to me. I talk a good game. I don’t believe it, though. And if that’s the case, then shouldn’t I um, maybe, shut my mouth?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Brains! Amy Doesn't Have Any!

I’m going to attempt to center this blog entry around a patched together metaphor, but it may very well suck, so bear with me.

God is like…a zombie from Return of the Living Dead . Desperately pursuing a relationship with you so He can eat your brains. KIDDING! Now see, anything else I come up with is gonna rock, isn’t it.

(That movie, by the way, is craptastic fabulous. I watched it again last night, since I’m kicking around a zombie movie idea, and needed to do research. Winifred, Dinah and myself used to watch that movie on our summers off from high school, and it was bad then, it’s bad now. But I was stunned to see that I still could recite this particular exchange between Ernie the mortuary owner, and the ½ woman corpse zombie lashed to an examining table, whose spine twitches and lashes around in a way that only mid 80s era animatronics can.

Ernie: You can hear me?
½ Woman Corpse: Yes.
Ernie: Why do you eat people?
½ Woman Corpse: Not people. Brains.
Ernie: Brains only?
½ Woman Corpse: Yes.
Ernie: Why?
½ Woman Corpse: The PAIN!
Ernie: What about the pain?
½ Woman Corpse: The pain of being DEAD!
Ernie: [laughing in surprise to his friends] It hurts... to be dead.
½ Woman Corpse: I can feel myself rotting.
Ernie: Eating brains... How does that make you feel?
½ Woman Corpse: It makes the pain go away.

And then she starts chanting “BRAINS! BRAINS! BRAINS! BRAINS!” through the rest of the scene. It’s comedy gold, my friend.

So. After the strum and angst and drama of the last post, and all the wonderful posts of support and emails and such, we can conclude that I am a big fat coward.

Yeah, I caved. I’m a dumbass.

See, if two weeks ago was hell, this past week has been bliss. There’s been NOTHING to do. Sure, there’s random awards dinners that are coming up for the WGA, the PGA, the Costume Designer’s Guild, etc,, but we can practically give those table seats away, there’s no bickering, no politics, nothing. And who walks away from a cakewalk job?

I did have a talk with my boss that started with, “My last day is supposed to be Friday.” And oh, did the fear leap up in her eyes. I asked her if she could tell me what to reasonably expect after Oscar nominations are announced, and is the Unnamed Movie Studio going to throw another party, even though we’ve thrown gazillions upon gaboodles already. She said she honestly didn’t know, she’s only a consultant, she’s been here as long as I have. So I said that if I did stay, regardless of what happens with Maybe A Party, Maybe Not, I HAVE to leave work at 6pm every day, I can’t do 12 to 14 hour days, because I’m getting home at 9 or 10pm at night and I have no energy to write (or research zombie movies) and this job isn’t my life, writing is my life. She said she understood (by repeating everything back to me) and said she gets it, so at least I have that to point to should the atmosphere get crazy again. “It’s not like I didn’t tell you I had to leave at 6pm every day.”

Nobody can tell me what to expect in the next few days (Nominations announcing on Tuesday.) I couldn’t figure out if it was more honorable to leave before I knew (possibilities for change be damned), or after I knew (I warned you people, now I’m taking my toys and going home.) Just like I can’t figure out if maybe someone’s deliberately not telling me the truth to keep me around. Which I wouldn’t put past them, as they can do desperate things like that (like extending my tenure with the temp agency without asking me.)

So I feel stupid. I feel like a hypocrite. I feel like the guy crying BRAINS, no WOLF, my job sucks and I’m gonna leave! Wait, it’s okay now. Never mind. False alarm. Until it happens again, and then I’m all I’M REALLY LEAVING NOW!

I think it’s called courage of my convictions, which I’ve never been good at. This week proved my conviction of My Job SUCKS wrong. And frankly, I’m wrong about a shitload of stuff a bunch of the time. If I were you, I wouldn’t be listening to anything I say. Seriously. Return of the Living Dead blows big chunks, honestly. I’m not the least bit credible.

But what I can say with certainty (or what passes for certainty in my hazy ambiguous world.) is that I’m not staying for the reasons that Mr. Purple Puffy Pants said: “I think you need to stay there. That there’s work there that God wants you to do.” Unless the work was to set up my boss’s email to autocheck every 2 minutes. ‘Cause I did that, no problem. Maybe NOW I can go, ha ha ha. I’m staying because right now, it’s an easy job. The second it gets stressful again, I’m outta there. Seriously. Yeah, right.

Okay, so the patched together craptastic metaphor. When I’m housesitting, I take Basil the Diva Dog and Ginger Puppy on walks up to Griffith Observatory. Our usual route is quite scenic, as we all slip through the crack in the chained gate (I’m sure it’s chained up for a reason, but we pay no attention to it, and we’ve never been busted, and we see other people with their dogs all the time), hike up the canyon, touch the gate that surrounds the Observatory during the renovation, and come back down.

Except when we went yesterday morning, there was no gate. THE GATE WAS GONE. The renovation is DONE! We walked right up to the Observatory, walked around the Promenade Walkway, took a few pictures, and headed back.

All of which is to say...when you think the gate (your job) is up (sucks ass), you get there one day (get to the next week) and it’s GONE! (a cakewalk.)

Hmmm, maybe I should’ve stuck with the zombie metaphor? Okay, here’s Ginger Puppy, merrily chomping away at Mr. Purple Puffypants.


Monday, January 15, 2007

When Well Meaning Purple Puffy Pants Attack.

Today’s blog entry will be illustrated by Basil The Diva Dog, as I’m currently housesitting for him and Ginger Puppy. Basil is remarkably mellow today, and was amiable to illustrating the story, as opposed to diving under bushes in the backyard and refusing to come out, so this entry is already one for the record books. Yay!

I went to my monthly prayer entertainment ministry last night, where it’s half group therapy, and half a shitload of praying and hope for the best. I was in a small group of about six people, and we’re supposed to go around the room and talk about what we’re thankful for, and what we need prayer for. Then we all bow our heads and pray as we feel the Spirit leading us to, which is another way of saying whenever there’s an awkward pause.

It’s through this ministry that I’ve determined that I don’t like hearing people pray for me. Makes my skin crawl. It’s irrational, I know. I don’t like hearing people talk about me to my face. I MUCH prefer it behind my back, because then I can always claim to be the misunderstood victim. KIDDING! I’m not saying you can’t pray for me, by all means please do, I need everything I can get. I just don’t wanna hear it in a small group situation.

Behold Basil, the Diva Dog. He looks exhausted, doesn’t he? In our story, Basil is me. I am exhausted, pooped, tired beyond all reasonable comprehension and all I want is a nap. Things have been extraordinarily bad this past week at the temp job at the Unnamed Movie Studio. The Golden Globes are today, and all stress was directly related to the party that the studio is throwing after the ceremony. We’re talking fourteen hour days, we’re talking unbelievable amounts of tension, we’re talking mountains of RSVPS to sift through, pages and pages of emails of managers talking up their no name clients to try and get on the guest list, and obnoxious people puffed up with arrogance. What do you mean I’m not on the list!? I’m the assistant to the executive producer of one of the nominated movies for best foreign picture that your studio didn’t make! I’M IMPORTANT, DAMN YOU! We’re talking I'm lucky if I can gulp a handful of pistachios and a Naked Juice to keep going, since I don’t get time off for lunch. We’re talking my friends calling me at 9pm at night, and all they hear from me is a “Can’t talk now,” and a hang up. it’s been sheer and utter hell the likes of which I’ve never experienced before and hope I never will again.

My job wanted me to work the ceremony today, and I said no thanks. I think I said something like, “No way in hell.” And I can get away with it because I’m a temp, and they can’t do a thing to force me to work it.

But all of which is to say that my last day at this particular job from hell will be this upcoming Friday, as I told them at the beginning of this month. Which is why it was unfortunate that they went behind my back and told my temp agency to extend me for another month, despite the fact I have a clear cut email trail telling them my last day would be this upcoming Friday. It’s something a simple phone call to the agency can take care of, but it will still make me look like the bad guy, that I’m ignoring their pleading and groveling to please please stay through Oscars, things won’t be as stressful once the Oscars are over, we promise, we promise, despite the fact that we said things would be fine once Christmas was over, and we were obviously wrong. But please don’t leave us, even though you have no interest in publicity, and nothing you learn here will help your screenwriting career, because we desperately need you, and you’re supposed to be a servant of GOD.

Now, behold Mr. Purple Puffy Pants. In reality, he’s one of Ginger Puppy’s chew toys that she takes little interest in (and has apparently been to the spa, hence the robe.). But for our story today, he’s one of the members of the small group I was assigned to last night. And as we ran around the circle and talked about what everyone was grateful for (this one’s wife might be pregnant. That one met someone through eHarmony, this other one’s third draft of their script was turned in to Fox and they don’t hate it, that other’s one’s been buried in bread and butter industrial work which has paid their bills) and what they need prayer for (big meeting with a producer coming up, need strength to finish my residency in internal medicine at the hospital, need physical healing for a leg injury, need hope in general) we get to me.

I say my praise is that the Christmas monologue writing is actually a lot of fun, simply because there’s not a lot mentioned in the Bible about the people I’m writing for (Elizabeth and Zechariah, anyone?), so creative license allows me to fill in a bunch o’ blanks. And that I need prayer for a “graceful exit” from this temp job from hell, and that I need strength to not be a wimp and cave in to their whining to stay through the Oscars, as it will be another month of my life sucked away from me, filled with stress doing things I simply don’t want to do and have no interest doing, and there’s no good reason that I SHOULD stay and do them, and I’ve spent too much of my life doing things I didn’t want to do, and didn’t have to do simply to make the people around me happy.

So we bow our heads and start with the praying. And when it comes time for someone, to pray for me, Mr. Purple Puffy Pants jumps in with both feet. And even though we all have our eyes closed, he starts talking as though we’re chatting in the kitchen over milk and cookies. “Amy, I just have to tell you, when you were talking about how much you hated your job, God put it on my heart for me to tell you that I think you need to stay there. That there’s work there that God wants you to do. I know you don’t wanna be there. But I think you really need to pray for God to tell you what He wants you to do there, because I think you’re supposed to stay.”

And I’m thinking Wha-huh? You wanna back outta my grill, Mr. Purple Puffy Pants? He has no idea what it’s been like. He doesn’t know about the fourteen hour days, he doesn’t know how on Friday, stress paralyzed all of my facial muscles to where I couldn’t smile, and everyone kept stopping me in the hall to ask me if I was okay.

Mr. Purple Puffy Pants’ wife, Mrs. Sandy Sassafrass Ass, dives in as well, telling a story about how she had a friend who hated his job too, until someone pointed out for him that instead of getting a better job that didn’t want to make him slit his wrists with an extremely dull butter knife, God’s plan may have been that he was supposed to pray for his co-workers, because no one else would.

You don’t know anything about it, Mrs. Sandy Sassafrass Ass! Mrs. Sandy Sassafrass Ass doesn’t know about how I had to keep running to the bathroom because I was doing those hyperventilating heaving dry sobs where you’re crying but no tears are coming down, and isn’t that good, it would’ve streaked my make-up anyway. Mrs. Sandy Sassafrass Ass doesn’t know that I DO pray for all my co-workers on the drive in to work every day, and my co-workers are remarkably not the problem, the problem is the work itself. Mrs. Sandy Sassafrass Ass doesn’t know that I will KEEP praying for my co-workers to survive the hell that is Awards Season, but silly me, my sanity comes first. How selfish, how bratty, how petulant I am, to want to come home before 9pm so I have enough energy to work on my Christmas monologues, because this stupid publicity job is not my life, WRITING is my life, and anything that takes away from that is keeping me from the work that God has set out from me to do.

I feel like well meaning people like Mr. Purple Pants and Mrs. Sandy Sassafrass Ass are of the mindset that there must be an element of suffering in your life in order to be a good little Christian. If you hate your job, you’re SUPPOSED to be there, to change your surroundings to make it a pleasant workplace for everyone, instead of doing the reasonable thing like finding a new job. I could understand that mindset if I was in a job that was remotely close to writing, but again, this is publicity. And all I’m doing are writing down people’s Plus 1 for the afterparty. This will never help me sell a script. And I can’t imagine God wants me to stick around to find out how it will.

Let’s look at the flipside, shall we? Suppose God didn’t want me to be working this job. How do you think He would try to tell me? Would he send gorgeous butterflies to kiss my nose and deliver a note on a scroll in gossamer writing? Would he send a sunbeam to bathe me in an otherworldly light, while visions of rainbows and talking unicorns filled my head, trumpeting in dulcet tones, Aaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmyyyyyyyyy! God would like you to leave your joooooooooooob nooooooooowwwwwwwwwww!

Or maybe, just maybe, God would allow the misery and pain to come through loud and clear in the hopes that I would examine the evidence and make an educated decision. The only time in my professional career that I have ever been fired is because I was working for a desperately unhappy psychotic woman, and though it was painful to come to work every day and suffer her tantrums because I wasn’t a mindreader of multiple personalities, I thought I was supposed to stay and do my very very best to make her life better so she’d be a happier person. She fired me instead. I don’t think that’s what God had in mind. I think God had wanted me to leave on my own terms, but when I didn’t, He gave me a shove out the door. And it hurt like hell.

I don’t need another shove, Mr. Purple Puffy Pants. You don’t know a thing about it, Mrs. Sandy Sassafrass Ass. Sentences that start with “God put it on my heart to tell you…” are usually a very dumb thing to say. Just ask Rachael. Because you don’t know the whole story. And there usually is a whole story to know. So why don’t you take your well intentions, and, oh, I don’t know, keep them to yourself? Pray silently about it, since I don’t like people praying for me out loud? Don’t presume to know that you know anything? I don’t.

I wished I could’ve said any of this out loud. But isn’t that the irony of situations like these. Mr. Purple Puffy Pants and Mrs. Sandy Sassafrass Ass can make their Assumptive Statements, but I can’t refute them. It isn’t polite. It isn’t Christian. I’ll look like I’m refusing to listen to God’s Truth. Whatever. Sigh.

Isn’t Basil the most patient dog ever? He rocks.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Enforced Secret Joy #25 - Matt, The Dancing Guy

When I was a senior in high school, my parents got me a video camera for Christmas (okay, I had to beg, scream, cry and attach myself to their ankles until they gave in.) My friends and I promptly took the video camera everywhere we went, including a high school newspaper trip to New York City, a senior trip to Disneyworld, and a day trip to Rock City , where we stunningly re-enacted the Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom bridge sequence on their Swing A Long bridge.

But nothing we did compares to Matt the Dancing Guy.

I'm sure everyone and their mother has watched this clip by now, (well, except my mother the Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much, who doesn't click on any link on the internet because she thinks links themselves are viruses. Which doesn't explain why she has no problem bookmarking Amazon sites. Or even bookmarking this site. Moving on.)

But I can't help it. Watch it again. Watch it for the ten thousandth time, like I have. it never ever fails to bring a smile to my face. It's the goofiest thing in the world, and yet it's so pure, so childlike, so innocent, so funny, and so brilliant in its simplicity.

Dear God, thank you for Matt, the dancing guy. Thank you for his bright ideas, thank you for his sponsors, both parental and corporate, who underwrote the trip that made this clip possible. Thank you for his tenacity, thank you for the guy who's running the camera who never once felt so left out that he demanded to take a turn in front. Thank you for smiling, thank you for laughter, thank you for the smiles that watching this clip always gives me. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Amen.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Random Bits Of Stuff And Fluff

Scatterbrained blog entries RULE, I tell you.

Right after I did last week’s entry trumpeting how I don’t worry about the small stuff these days, I lost my lip conditioner. Which, if you know me, is a problem indeed, as my lips get chapped and cracked anytime the temperature dips below, say 75 degrees. Gosh darn, that blows, I said to myself, since my schedule’s pretty busy to include something simple like going to the grocery store and getting a new one. Gosh, sucks to be me. Oh well. Lo and behold if I didn’t find it in the car a few days later, in the exact place where my earrings tend to turn up.

Additionally, this week found my complaint against my insurance company, a slow painful two-month process in which you know that they’re dragging it out because they want you to give up, resolved with a complete vindication in my favor. I bet you didn’t think angels worked at Nameless California Health Insurance Companies, but they sure do, and her name is Tracy R., and her supervisor is going to get a glowing twinkly “You Have A Rockstar Employee Working For You!” letter o’ rec from me. Most of the time, I hate it when Life Lessons like Do Not Worry are so obvious, but for these two, I do not mind one bit.

This week at work, I was sitting in my current boss’s office at the Nameless Movie Studio, watching her fill out her child’s application to a private Catholic girls’ school. She got to the question where it asks what church you attend regularly, and what religion you classify yourself as. My boss made little hemming and hawing noises, saying, “I don’t know what to put here.” I think my current boss and her family don’t practice any kind of religion, and the child wants to go to this particular school because she wants the extra attention or something. Some people might look at this as the Golden Window Of Opportunity To Talk About Jesus, God, or Other Religious Stuff. I kept my mouth shut, not even a small “Well, it IS a Catholic school, I think they’re allowed to ask,” comment. Just didn’t feel appropriate.

I’ve been making small movements to step back from commitments where I feel like I’ve overextended myself, so I can get back to what I’m supposed to be doing, which is writing. One of these things is my small group from church, which meets every week. I’ve not leaving it all together, but once a week is a little hard for me, especially since it meets all the way across town from work.

The Bitch In My Head has been having a field day with this decision. You can’t meet with your small group every week? YOU’RE GOING TO HELL! C’mon, ya big crybaby! Who cares that you wanna write! This is your immortal soul we’re talking about and should you miss a SINGLE MINUTE of your small group, you’re telling God that YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT HIM.

My small group doesn’t know that I’m planning on taking a few steps back. I was looking for my Window Of Opportunity where I would say it when we met this week. But there wasn’t any Window, and instead what we started to talk about was accountability. One the group leaders mentioned that she really wants to be in a group where she’s held accountable for her actions, where people will tell her she’s sinning and she should stop.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Here’s my thing. I have friends, we’ve have conversations where they tell me things, things they’ve done where they’ve sinned (and very technically, each of us does something every day that’s classified as a sin. And if you think you don’t, you’re not only lying (sin), you’re prideful about it (another sin.) So there.) But the thing is, my friends KNOW they’re sinning, they don’t need me to TELL them they’re sinning. They need to talk about it, not be judged for it. So we talk it out, we look at the motivations, the behavior, the thought patterns, we kick rocks, we say the world sucks and we’re still stuck in it. And I can’t help but think that’s better than a theoretical group situation where there’s theoretical finger pointing, even if the person WANTS it that way. Man, I thought I was a masochist.

I don’t know that my small group will be shifting towards that. And me stepping back may look like an editorial comment on accountability. But there’s an element of trust involved in accountability, and I’m not sure I trust my small group like that. There’s too many of them that I don’t know very well. Whereas me, Giggly, and Native Chick could go out for accountability cocktails and that would be fine, because I trust those ladies. Gutting out houses in New Orleans bonds people in strange ways like that.

And while we’re on the subject of accountability, today at 11:00 church, they installed elders, and read Scripture verses from 1st Timothy saying that elders should be held publicly accountable if they sin. Good Lord, people would be hauled up every week. Oh, wait, you don’t mean that literally? Depends on the sin, maybe? Hmmm, interesting. Verrrrry interesting.