Sunday, August 26, 2007

Amy The Woozy

I’m fighting a bug, so the chances of this entry being coherent are not great. I wobbled into church this morning and they all thought I was hungover. “I wanna hang out with YOU on Saturday nights!” Tricia said. I would like to pat myself on the back and say that I completed my duty as Slide Runner with few bobbles, even though it felt my head was being squeezed by an Almighty Vise.

Right, so, thank you God, that the temp gig at the Unnamed TV Network lasted more than two days, that it did indeed last a week. Thank you for all the pilots I got to watch, and all the scripts I got to read. Thank you that they will be bringing me back for the week after Labor Day, even though it goes no further than that, because they’ve already hired the new person. Now if we can just fill up the coming week with other equally cool gigs. Rent’s due…

I worked a reception for a graduating class at Act One this week. I volunteered for bartender duty, (but this is not hungover sick, okay? This is sick sick. I coughed up something from the back of my throat that is truly of the devil, okay?) and made sure I poured all drinks generously, because I thought it would be funny to send everyone home from a Christian class reception tipsy. And it was. While the presentation went on inside the auditorium, the ones that were working the event stayed outside and watched. And at the end of the presentation, all the graduating kids circled around, and they all bowed heads and did a group prayer. We’re talking something like 80 or so people in one big amoeba blob, hands on each others shoulders, la la la. “I could understand why some people think Christians are weird,” said one of my co-workers, “Yeah. They totally look like they’re about to blow up a building, don’t they.” I responded.

Which is why I’m going to hell.

I had emailed Pastor Bernard (pastor doesn’t really seem like the right word to describe him. He’s way younger than the word Pastor would indicate. More like The Main Guy Who Gives The Sermon And Is Cool When You Incessantly Email Him.) some time ago. The question on my mind at the time was “I can't tell where the line is between being humble before God and having no self esteem whatsoever.” Pastor Bernard’s answer included, “I think the key issue is SURRENDER. because only in SURRENDER to God can we figure out how to respond to situations because my own gauge is usually off (then he talked about some other stuff and closed with) hope all is well in your world and this email is void of the platitudes you often adore :)”

Of course, Surrender is totally on my platitude list. What does it mean, what does it mean, we all know this chant by now, don’t we?

Some days, I wish I could just drink the Kool-Aid and not question anything anymore. Some days, it feels like if I just swallowed everything, nodded my head and smiled beautifully, then the Doors O Understanding would fling wide open, I’d be bathed in Holy White Light, and everything would be roses and Coffee Bean Chai Lattes.

It’s not like I haven’t been surrendering. Sure, I have. It hasn’t been pretty, it involves a lot of arm waving, F-bombs, stamping of feet, “FINE! You know so much, YOU drive!” But then I wonder what kind of surrendering would look pretty. Oh, the Kool Aid kind, of course. I sink to my knees, the picture of penitence, hands outstretched, the choir kicks in the background, I surrender allllllll. I surrender allllll. Allllll to Jesus, I surrender. I surrender allllll.

I think what bugs me about the Surrender thing is that if I engage in it, it automatically requires a response from God. “Go ahead and drive, then.” And we’re not going anywhere.

Oh yes you are.

No I’m not.

Oh yes you are. You’re just not going fast enough. You’re questioning the speed, the direction, you wanna know the end destination, and you want all of your questions answered RIGHT NOW. It’s not that I’m not answering. It’s that you’re not liking the fact you have to wait for the answers.

Oh…you. You little….whatever.

I love the headline on one of my buddies’ Myspace pages. “Faith is a journey with a compass which points us in the right direction, not a detailed map which tells us every step to take."

I think everyone is smarter than me. Well, except for you. And maybe…you. Kidding!

Enforced Secret Joy #48: Ray Charles’ version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” Brings me to tears most every time I listen to it. It’s got that old timey feel to it, like it should’ve been in a Disney movie (Classic please, nothing before 1980.)

(and here's where I posted the song, and it worked fine last night, and it doesn't work today, so the only place I could find it is to this montage of Disney Critter Movie moments. Listen to the song, forget the images. Sheesh.)

Monday, August 20, 2007

What You Want Vs. How To Be

“I sure empathize with you,” Corinne told me as we were climbing up the bathroom stairs at church two weeks ago. I had briefly sketched out how Never Mind Your History Of Rocking In The Temp World, This Is Now And This Now Will Smack You Around For Thinking You Could Rely On Your Past History. In other words, temp jobs coming my way? Not so much. And it’s certainly not for lack of trying. I was busting my ass and couldn’t get one placement. I could always go back to Unnamed Movie Studio and their fresh hell of Soul Deadening Jobs, but silly me, I thought I deserved better.

Corrine has taken her fair share of turns on the Prayer roller coaster, frantically sending up the please please please listen to me, God missives as your stomach lurches into your throat as one more day passes without any kind of good news. It was a housing/moving thing for her, and it’s a job thing for me, but stomach lurching is stomach lurching, and it counts.

“Let’s pray about it,” she says. “Sure,” I answer noncommittally, thinking whatchoo think I’ve been doing every day?

“No, let’s pray about it right now,” she says, grabbing my hands. “What, here?” In the lobby of a CHURCH? Are you CRAZY?

Ha ha ha.

Corrine pulls me over to a corner, and we bow heads. Corrine does all the praying, says all the things I’m afraid to say, “Bless Amy with a good job, Bless Amy with a GREAT job, one that she will love.” See, I’ve just been praying for ANY job. To ask for one that I love seemed so marshmallowy gooey decadent it couldn’t possibly be something that God would give me. You’s got to pay your bills first, don’tcha think?

I thanked Corrine for praying for me, I thanked God later for Corrine, and I went about my merry way. Interviewed with another temp agency that week, they didn’t call, they didn’t call, until finally they did. And they had a job for me. And it actually was a GOOD one. Assisting in drama development at an Unnamed TV Network. PERFECT for Amy The Writer. Temp Agency told me that the assignment could last up to a month. Well, it just can’t be that easy, can it?

I went in for my training day last Friday, and in the first ten minutes, the assistant training me said, ‘Well, you’re good for at least Monday and Tuesday.”

Wha-huh? How did we go from “could last up to a month” to two days? Did the temp agency misunderstand? Did I not wear the right shoes? C’mon, I haven’t shown you how I can rock my way around a flippin’ phone sheet! Hey, Corrine PRAYED for this, okay?

It turns out the situation is much more complicated than that, interns leaving, assistants having bouts of appendicitis. Nobody really knows what’s going on yet. But yes, I rocked my way around that flippin’ phone sheet and that calendar, and that submission log.

In a conversation I had with Tricia, who currently reigns as The Wisest Person I Know, she mentioned that perhaps I should be less focused on WHAT to do (and subsequently WHAT to pray for) than HOW to be. That it’s less about the having than it is about the responding to what you get or don’t get. So Tricia’s right? Corrine’s right? We pray for stuff? We pray to be obedient no matter what? Shall we shove them in a cage match with lime Jell-O and let them duke it out? They know each other, it might be fun.

So, gritting my teeth, I thanked God profusely for this four hour training day, and I muttered under my breath many many thanks for two days at least of solid work at a job that I would love to work longer at.

When I saw Corrine this past Sunday, she was hanging out of her car yelling at me, “How did it go!?” “I got two days! We forgot to pray for the job to be permanent!” I waved back.

I still don’t know if I have a job past Tuesday. I’m still sending up prayers for stuff, i.e. a more permanent job that I love. But I’m thanking God every step of the way. I hope God is okay with being obedient through gritted teeth. I hope that still counts.

Enforced Secret Joy #47 – Free Oregon Chai at work! Better hurry, I don’t know how much longer I get to enjoy it!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Let her bleed, let her bleed

Two people who don’t know each other told me this week after Cheer Amy Up conversations, “Don’t you dare write about me on your blog.” People, am I really that scary? C’mon! I made the vow last week that I wasn’t gonna make fun of people anymore! And that includes not mentioning the SUPER FUNNY rapture site I stumbled over! Even though I really really want to make fun of it. But no, I’m not gonna link to them and their annual rapture conference in Oklahoma. (but if you email me and ask, I might send you the link. With absolutely no editorial comment from me. ☺ )

During my month off, I trotted off to a Red Cross blood drive for my usual Challenge Yo Fear donation, only to be denied because my red blood cells decided they were too depressed to come out and play. When you donate blood, they prick your finger, squeeze a drop of blood out, and run it through their hemoglobin machine. You have to be over 12.0, and I was 10.3. Which had never happened before. To further frustrate things, I had started taking iron supplements to combat the food coma that eating every meal brought on. So when I don’t take the iron supplements, I’m fine. The second I do, I’m borderline anemic. Yeah, that makes sense.

Upon hearing my frustration with the Red Cross (because my low red blood cell count MUST be all their fault, har de ha ha,) a friend had directed me to Children’s Hospital, where she works with cancer kids and families. I didn’t know you could specify where your blood can go, but you can, and she specifically steered me to little Hudson and Abella Wyss. You can read about their story here:

Now it seemed most imperative that my red blood cells get off the f’ing couch. Forget the fact that I don’t have a job, I’ve got a five year old and a two year old with rare brain tumors that NEED MY BLOOD.

And yet at Children’s Hospital, my red blood cells were whining that I signed up with a useless new temp agency that hasn’t placed me anywhere, and still didn’t come out to be sociable. 10.4 was the reading (11.3 on the other hand.) “Can’t we just push this one on through?” I begged the technician, “Little kids with brain tumors need this stuff.” The technician was unmoved by my declarations that I didn’t care if I got sick from anemia related complications because life is one big sick leave when you’re not working, and sent me home with a list of iron rich foods.

Several burgers, tacos, spicy tuna sushi and bacon strips later and I’m ready for round number three. I show up last Tuesday, and ask the receptionist if we can do the hemoglobin machine first before the paperwork. Since there’s nobody else in the donation center except me, she says sure.

I haven’t been this stressed about a test since senior Economics class back in high school (I think I got a C on that one, by the way.) The nurse pricks my finger, slides it into the red Hemoglobin Machine O FUN! And we both stare at the machine. And wait. And wait. “No whammies, no whammies” I’m muttering under my breath. The machine seems to be taking an awfully long time to return a reading and just when I think that must mean I’m once again flunking, the reading beeps out. 13.6


“YES!” I shout, pumping my fist. I’ve never been so excited to get jabbed with a needle, one of my most feared things in the world. The nurse thinks this is the funniest thing she’s seen all day, and hangs out with me as I’m filling up the bag. I’ve forgotten to bring my Bible-As-Blanky, so we watch the HG channel (the ward is tricked out with TVs) and the nurse comments on how there’s far too many pillows in the bedroom they’re redecorating.

I got my cookies, I got my orange juice, I got my free pass to not work out for the next 24 hours, and Hudson got a pint o blood from me, which I think he used this week, according to their online journal.

Now I’m prepping myself for my next challenge: Donating Platelets. That’s where they take your blood out of one arm, run it through a machine that separates the platelets, and return it back through your other arm. It’s totally hard core, it’s a two hour process, and if I can master that one, I’ll still be a selfish whiny bitch BUT I will be a super badass. ☺

Enforced Secret Joy #46: Ginger Puppy hanging out by my feet when I’m writing. (She has eyes, you just can’t see them through the fur.) She’s totally only hanging out because she wants to be petted 24/7. But sometimes she’ll sleep with her fuzzy face on top of my feet. And that rocks.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

This entry was supposed to be:

So this entry was going to be an amusing one where I listed various things that people have told me, or various things that I have read over the past month that were supposed to be helpful in my Wrestling With God struggle.

I was going to cut and paste emails, I was going to recount conversations held in bathroom lines, I was going to quote what some have been saying about me on their blogs, I was going to make short work of people who think what they have to say will be the magic turn of phrase that’ll clear up all the clouds of confusion that have plagued me for years now.

We were going to laugh, we were.

But I have decided not to do that. Because when I examined the reasons for wanting to do it, I came up with some not pretty answers. In short, I would be doing it half to make fun of people, and the other half to throw a giant pity party for me, can you believe what these people SAID to me?!

In looking over previous blogging, I did a lot of making fun of other people, though it was always in the context of Do I Have To Be Like This In Order To Connect With God? From Koo Koo Krazy Church, to Jumpers, to Boobgate, to Happy Chipper Christians, to Mr. Purple Puffy Pants. I pointed fingers and laughed and blogged about it all for you, Gentle Reader. I suspect a lot of my secular audience likes it when I do that, because they might be like Roomie Jekyll, who said after I showed her one email, “People like this are exactly why I hate religion.” That me blogging about these types confirms that Christianity is indeed nutso futso.

And, yes, I want people to feel sorry for me. I want people to feel drop dead AWFUL for me. Hey guess what? I had a breakdown three days after stopping the blogging. I quit my job and took all of July off. Now I’m trying to find a job again and can’t. I’ve cried nearly every single day. My dryer is on the fritz. My computer had to go into the shop for a week. There appears to be a problem with my red blood cell count, and maybe that’s the reason it’s such a struggle to get out of bed in the morning. And no, I don’t know anything more about God other than He’s Around But Damned If I Know Where.

Do you feel sorry for me yet? Or do you think that I’m a major selfish brat? It’s okay, I know at least one of you does.

(By the way, I’ve ALWAYS thought I was a major selfish brat, which makes the whole Receiving God’s Grace especially difficult for me. But I’m honest about it.)

Regardless, neither one of those reasons – making fun of people, or wanting people to feel sorry for me - is going to solve anything.

And if life isn’t necessarily roses and Twix bars, the very least I can do is attempt to practice some form of the Peace Of God. Which in this case, means not making fun of people who didn’t realize they said some very not helpful things, and pulling myself up by my bootstraps and continuing the grueling search for a paycheck, for a capable maintenance man, for the next iron enriched burger when I have never wanted to eat less in my life, and stop bitching about it.

But we still need to laugh, so here ya go, your Enforced Secret Joy #45 – The Weirdass Pug Video

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Hello again

I am true to my word (which is the only thing a writer has, really), and I'm back after a month off. There's been much thinking, much puzzling, much crying (MUCH crying), much reading, much writing, much shaking of ineffectual fists to the heavens.

And yet very few conclusions have been reached (except that blogging twice a week was killing me, so I’m shifting to a Sunday Only schedule, and Enforced Secret Joy posts will be at the bottom of those entries.) But rather than wallow, let’s do something different, and do a memory remembrance from something that happened a few months ago. It’s got nothing to do with Wrestling With God, but it’s still super personal, sprinkled with bits o’ fiction stylizing. And song embedding! Look at me, embracing technology!

(So sad, the song got deleted by the copyright police. Ah well. Go to her website and buy it.)

I’m so stoked I finally got Kristy Kruger’s CD, “Songs From A Dead Man’s Couch” in my hot little hands. “Blackhole” has been burning a track in my brain ever since I heard her perform it live a few months ago. I haven’t been this excited since I got the Twilight Singers’ “Powder Burns” last year.

My friend Phyllis went to college with Kristy Krueger, and sent a group invite to her concert a few months ago. Kristy was the second act on a three bill night. Where was she playing? Somewhere on Cahuenga, I think. My memory used to be razor sharp about these kind of things. I could stumble back on it if I was in the neighborhood of it. It was the left hand side of the street. Across the street from Beauty Bar, which is where we ended up after the show, chatting up a group of trying hard to be hipster-ish young men, and swiftly ditching them when it was revealed they drove up from Hermosa Beach. (G.U., said Phyllis’ friend Dolores, “Geographically Undesirable.”)

Whatever the name of the place was that I saw Kristy, I do know that it seem very Lynchian. Very Twin Peaksian , because the walls of the place were draped in red velvet, with a black and white tiled floor. I expected that evil little dwarf to come scattin’ out and talk in backwards cryptic riddles. I think this place was deliberately trying to channel that vibe.

And Kristy, who’s maybe 5’1 tops, took the stage in the cutest pink foofy dress, just like David Lynch’s muse of the 90’s, Julee Cruise, who wore a white foofy dress in those aforementioned Twin Peaks episodes, singing “Falling, falling, could we be falling in love” while a doomed couple (was it Donna and James?

Laura and James? Laura and random drunk guy at the bar, or maybe that was the movie, not the TV show?) danced on the empty dance floor.

The dance floor isn’t empty here. Filled with groups of 10 or more who decided to have dinner first, and the rest of us standing behind them. Kristy isn’t singing about falling in love. She’s singing this song instead.

He says I’m such a downer.
But he’s the one who found her.
And I could make things worth my while
If I went the extra mile
But that don’t sound so appealing

She sang a bunch of other songs, and did amusing between song banter about Cuddleraping fellow band members after the breakup of her relationship. But none of them stuck out like this one.

I went to college at Florida State University. But I was born and raised in Northern Alabama. So my college career was punctuated by very long trips up and down I-65 (or US 231 when I thought no cops would be enforcing the speed limit around Dothan, which was notorious for ill tempered state troopers)

It’d be me, the biggest bottle of Mountain Dew I could buy at a gas station, a bag of Lance’s peanuts, my tunes, my car, and the open road. It’d be seven hours on the road (six and a half if I didn’t stop for lunch), and I did it without blinking an eye. Repeatedly. Like it was no big deal. Recently, I drove back from Laguna Beach on my birthday and nearly ran off the road, because my eyes were closing after forty minutes.

Ah youth.


Punctuated by songs like Kristy’s. The mournful yet weirdly optimistic guitar slides, that contrasted my brazen perspective with my half-weary worldly nature. The future is mine, absolutely, if I can just get through the rest of my college career. Because we know here isn’t where my life is. My life will be in a far off place called Los Angeles, where I will claim the life I always knew I’d have, but couldn’t make the different elements (life, love, writing) work here. But it doesn’t matter, because here is not where my life is.

Yes, I thought I knew so much back then.

You can’t hit the bottom if there is no bottom.
Blackhole opens up, watch me go go go
Stars are in the universe, see if you can spot ‘em
I will never know how they glow glow glow.

When I was in college, it was all about how Broken People were so Beautifully Damaged. Don’t you wanna know them? Don’t you wanna be friends with them? Don’t you wanna talk with them until the wee hours of the morning, and convince them how life is indeed worth living, because if they could see that, they could see how YOU were the one that showed them that, and they would be yours forever for saving them? Don’t you wanna make films about them? Don’t you wanna, maybe, maybe, shhhh, shhhh, sleep with them? Because they are so Beautifully Damaged and you’re going on 21, and life seems so incredibly important, so incredibly urgent, every feeling seems not just acute (because it was this sharp in high school), but where you were stymied in high school from fixing things, here you are in college, where you CAN fix things, out from under curfews, and parents’ silent sullen stares, and yes you too can fix this Beautiful Damaged boy. All you need is a six pack of beer and a place far away from this crowded noisy party.

And he’s right there with me.
Though he likes to think differently.

But the lesson you learn is that the Beautiful Damaged Boy is not worth saving. Goes off to pursue his dreams on the East Coast, on the West Coast, in the Pacific Northwest, returns home silent and chastened, and drops off the face of the earth by Google standards.

If that Beautiful Damaged Boy looks back on those days, I suspect he’s too smart to see himself as a stud. But I’m pretty sure he doesn’t see the girls who tried in their own clumsy way to rescue him from his own earnestness. Because in my experience, the Beautiful Damaged ones, even if they’re older, wiser, or in anyway healed from their broken condition, never acknowledge the ones who tried to help. Because that would mean admitting that someone other than themselves had the answer before they did. And the only thing worse than admitting you were wrong is admitting that someone else was right.

But we both know I was right, don’t we.

Down a little deeper than I was before
I’m a real keeper if you didn’t know.

So I hope Kristy’s cool with this tribute. And I also hope she sings again at that club that I can’t remember the name of. My dream is that I get to sing with her. I’m an alto like her, I think it’d be cool. I could hold my own. But if that never happens, I’ll be fine singing in the back of the club, imagining the doomed dancing couples of Beautifully Broken Boys and the Ethereal Girls Who Think They Can Save Them But All They’ve Got Is As Long As This Song Lasts.

And this is all there is.