Monday, July 28, 2008

Scattered Thoughts

The weird thing I’ve discovered is that when things are going reasonably okay, it’s harder to focus when I’m talking to God. When I’m Bad News Keening in the corner and two seconds away from snatching up the razors, oh yeah, THEN I’m laser focused. But in the absence of Bad News, it’s hard for me to concentrate.

My prayers are something along the lines of “thank You for my job, thank You for my car, thank You that there’s gas in the car, thank You I can afford my rent…I really like that Does It Offend You Yeah song “Dawn Of The Dead”…please bless my church financially…I wanna go see Dark Knight again, but I think I wanna see it in Imax…that means I’d have to go to Universal Citywalk…that place scares me…does that mean I’m old…I wouldn’t wanna go by myself, who can I get to go with me…I have to write today…I think my one character should be a photographer…I know he was a chef before, but a photographer makes more sense…if I can switch occupations on him that quickly, you know it’s a bad sign…please help so many of my friends (names not mentioned here because it’s a blog, but they know who they are) who are suffering from broken hearts, bad job situations, financial uncertainty, health concerns…I’m hungry…maybe I’ll try calorie counting, it’s easier to do at work when everything is prepackaged for you…

And then I get angry with myself. This is GOD you’re talking to! He’s, oh, I dunno, WORTHY OF RESPECT!? You wanna be still and know that He is God?

And again, when I try, my head spins off in a thousand different directions. Sigh. Are Focus and Concentration gifts from God, or are they skills that humans learn on their own? Well hey, that’s an interesting thought too, isn’t it. Are there any skills that humans learn on their own, or is it all God given? Well, potty training, maybe.

See, I’m doing it again. Sigh.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Touchy Feely Amy

Some of my friends think I don’t like to be hugged. Not true. Not true especially since everyone hugs me regardless. More than a few like to prove how much they like me by administering rib crushing hugs, literally sweeping me off my feet, the tips of my toes grazing the floor, while they heft me up in ways that their backs will be screaming about later.

It’s not that I don’t like to be hugged, just as it’s not that I didn’t get my fair share of parental affection growing up (though my sister Agatha, has never been much of a hugger no matter what age.) But these hugs from friends and family don’t fill a weird hole in me, the hole that craves physical affection that means something more.

I’m not talking about guys. Okay, I’m mostly talking about guys. I’d say I’m 70 percent talking about guys.

Very early on in my dating adventures, there was a guy in the late hours of the night that I did not have sex with, but we did kiss and make out for quite some time and as we were both settling down to sleep, I snuggled up next to him, there was nothing to indicate that that was a bad idea. He, in return, physically pushed me off of him rudely, without verbal explanation and rolled over, his back to me, and went to sleep. I went to sleep covered in shame, how dare I think I could rest my head against his shoulder, throw my arm across his chest, never mind the fact we were down to our underwear, and had engaged in a massive makeout session. I was good enough to kiss, I was good enough to make out with, I was not good enough to fall asleep with arms around each other. Maybe it was too weirdly intimate for him. Maybe he was an Anti-Cuddler. Who knows. He didn’t say anything about it the next day, nor did we ever kiss, touch, or otherwise make out ever again.

That shame of being rudely lifted, of literally being pushed aside, seared itself into my psyche, and warped me in such a way that to this day, I still approach any potential snuggling with a guy with a weird mixture of apprehension and yearning please let me touch you that’s highly embarrassing.

Most of the guys who’ve shared late night company with me don’t have a problem with it, think it’s cute and or funny that I need to be touching some part of them as we both drift off to sleep, but I still can’t shake off the apprehension, and the slobbering gratitude that comes with their assent ohthankyouohthankyouohthankyou.

Sometimes it’s as small as me touching the small of their back as we sleep. Sometimes it’s as big as me literally stretching out ON their back. One guy who never said no to anything, patiently endured me cuddling his side, then rolling onto his back, then rolling off to the other side. “Ahhh, Amy the human blanket” he joked. Another guy was battling a bug, so we didn’t do anything, just held hands while sleeping, which one of the more poignant things I’ve ever done in bed.

My mother the Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much is probably dismayed to be reading this far, but she’ll be pleased to know that those days are most likely behind me now. Every day I let go a little bit more of the dream that I will ever meet My Future Husband Or Otherwise Mutually Committed Relationship. It’s a little like coming to the gradual acceptance of an obvious fact, like yes, my eyes will always be the grey weak blue color of creek water. Sure, I could wear colored contacts if I wanted to, but I’d have to take them out eventually, and the creek water color would be staring at me in the mirror.

Because I’m letting go of the dream (and I’m turning comments off, because I don’t need a tidal wave of well intentioned comments saying he’s out there! Honest! Nobody knows how much it hurts to hear those things when the facts are so plainly against you.) the weird need in me to have Meaningful Contact manifests itself in bizarre ways.

There was the time at the class at the gym, where we were partnered up for stretching, and were instructed to get in a lunge stance and face away from each other, bracing our back feet together, then reach back with one arm, grab your partner’s hand, and lean. Stretching the shoulder muscles, I think. Looking forward, feeling the grip of the other person behind me, the tug, the pull, the reach, that has stayed with me for years now.

I recently went to a cookout and Baby Hazel was there. She’s walking now, her hair no longer stands straight up. She was the first one to see me coming through the door. She doesn’t remember me, she doesn’t know I used to sing 80s songs to get her to go to sleep, but in that One Year Old Happy To See Any New Person way, said, “HI!” “Hi Hazel” I said, “Can I get a hug?” And she instantly tottered forward with arms outstretched until she hit me full on, her head already turned to the side to settle in the notch of my shoulder.

I’m taking Salsa classes, because I love dancing and I’m good at following instructions, ho ho ho. Salsa is a touchy feely dance, and the girl does the majority of the spinning when spinning is required. The guy is supposed to be the guide, to make sure the girl doesn’t go spinning out of control, meaning a hand on the small of the back, a hand on the hip, little touches of direction, of guidance, stay here, stop here, move here, follow me.

I have this thing about how I always have to sit on the end of any aisle in church (I need the space to balance my notebook on the arm of the chair while I scribble notes on the sermon.) But when we have Communion, there’s the whole awkwardness of people in my row stepping over me to get back to their seats. A few weeks ago, I was praying, leaning forward, eyes closed, desperately trying to reach some sort of connection with God. And there was a gentle touch, a few fingers on my shoulder. Just a guy trying to get back to his seat, and I was blocking the aisle. But the gentle touch on my shoulder, me with my eyes closed, is something I remember.

Now sure, all you Do Gooders who’re in the process of sending me well intentioned emails that will make me scream in pain (seriously, don’t do it. Don’t even start the email saying “I know you didn’t want me to send this.” Just don’t send it at all.) are sitting here with well intentioned knowing smiles Oh, Amy, don’t you see? That’s God! That’s God, working through other people, giving you the touches you’re so desperately craving.

Maybe it is. Maybe it’s me overanalyzing it, because every cell in my body is screaming out for some kind of contact, more than just the hugs from friends and family, something that will once and for all burn away the shame I still carry from that asshole all those years ago, because I don’t know how to get rid of it, and God doesn’t seem to want to help me carry that particular burden (And I have a feeling it’s because He didn’t want me to be in bed with that asshole in the first place. Yes, I know it’s not true. Doesn’t mean my brain doesn’t still go that way.) All I know is that it hurts. It hurts it hurts it hurts, it’s an ache I carry with me every damn day, and I wish I could find the thing or person or mindset that would make it stop.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Yippe skippie, guess what, folks!? I MADE IT THROUGH READING THE OLD TESTAMENT! Yep, yep, that’s right, I have made it through the wild wild wilderness of major and minor prophets, Biblical history, Leviticus and its many laws, Psalms and its many songs, and Isaiah with its many prophecies.

I don’t remember when I started reading the Bible straight through to be able to accurately say how long it’s taken me. I know there were more than a few Saturdays and Sundays when I woke up and thought to myself, “Mmmm, nope. The desire to read chapter 64 of Isaiah is just not in me today.” So it probably took me longer than it should have.

Sure, there’s been plenty of interesting things to read about, especially since I undertook this somewhat daunting task of reading the Bible with an editor’s eye, specifically looking for women in the Bible, as I’m planning on doing a monologue series of Women From The Bible (Jael from the book of Judges, who kills Sisera with a tent peg, anyone? The Witch Of Endor from 1 Samuel, anyone?) But there’s still been quirky little diamonds of details here and there.

It’s like when you’re reading Greek myths as a kid, and you think they’re fun and everything Dionysus was the God of Grapes! Grape juice for everyone! And then you get to high school and college and realize you got the very sanitized version of those myths as a kid.

So as a kid, you’re reading about Daniel in the lion’s den, and nobody ever mentions the part where God strikes Nebuchadnezzar with madness and he runs into the wilderness and eats grass like an animal. Or how David spotted Bathsheba not just “sunbathing,” but taking the ritual bath that a woman back then took after she was done with her period for the month. Because you have to prove that she wasn’t pregnant with Uriah’s kid so that when David sleeps with her, the child she bears is obviously his. Ewwwww, yes, but also, wow. Look at that attention to detail. Just like a screenwriter, heh heh.

I always liked what Bono said about the Old Testament, in his book back in 2005 :

I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that's why they're so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you're a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

So onward to the New Testament! Now I can read things like John 3:14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. And know what that’s referring to: (Numbers 21 8-9, where Moses made a bronze snake and hefted it up on a pole so everyone that was bitten by a snake and had faith was healed when they looked at it.)

I have a tiny ritual when I’m writing to where I try to plan just the right song to write the ending scene to whatever script I’m working on, the idea being that that’s the song we’d hear at the end of the movie if the script got made. And then I dance around my room in jubilation. Because I’m an awesome dancer as well as writer, hee hee hee.

So this song was the one I wrote the last scene to of the most recent script I was working on, but I liked it so much, that once I hit Malachi 4, verse 6, and the official end of the Old Testament. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse, I decided to make it the song I danced to for finishing the Old Testament. Because, honestly, that's not a really a cheery way to end the first half of the Bible.

But it is when you dance to this song! You have to scroll to something like 4:05 minutes before the part I like “Chinese Sleep Chant” kicks in. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Rock Band Rules

I have a confession. I am a Rock Band addict. The fact that I don’t own a gaming system of my own doesn’t stop me. (And, in truth, you can’t really play by yourself. It’s much more fun to play with other people.)

My first exposure to Rock Band was on New Year’s Eve, at a friend’s party (not the one where Tricia marched Iain up the staircase. This was after that.) It didn’t really sound fun, it sounded like a recipe for disaster, your have four people doing four different things (Drums, bass, guitar, microphone) and there’s a point system and you can get bounced off if you don’t do it right, and it just seemed HARD.

But it wasn’t. It was the most fun I’ve ever had at a New Year’s Eve party. Nobody’s really focused on how you’re doing, they’re all worried about how they’re doing. The spectators are just watching and laughing (and drinking, mostly.) I played drums my first time out, and then switched to microphone. I rang in the New Year singing “Don’t Fear The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult, one of my favorite songs of all time, despite Will Ferrell and his blasted cowbell ruining it for most folks. If you’ve ever seen the opening credit sequence to Stephen King’s TV version of “The Stand,” it’s an awesome use of a song.

My small group at church loves Rock Band too, and we’d occasionally play it after our talks on Sunday nights. This is where I discovered that I can play bass pretty well (as long as it’s set on the “Easy” level, ha ha ha.) and we ended our last small group session before summer break jamming out to Paramore’s “Crush Crush Crush.” I hadn’t given the song too much thought before, but when we’re all pogoing with our respective instruments (I was bass that time) and we’re all singing “Crush….crush…crush…crush…crushTWOTHREEFOUR! Nothing compares to! A quiet evening at home! Just the one, two I was just counting on!” you really appreciate what monster riffs that song has.

I don’t know what you guys were doing last night, but it can’t compare to what me and my Pink Piggy crew were doing. Which was Rock Band. Me, the director, producers, significant others, fueled by tequila and barbeque, worked our way through at least three levels or so. One of the producers dared mock my statements that I KICK ASS at Rock Band, and I had to smack him down. I tore through versions of “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “I Think I’m Paranoid” by Garbage (which my small group can attest to the fact that I can sing the hell out of that song), “When You Were Young” by the Killers, “Don’t Look Back In Anger” by Oasis, “Creep” by Radiohead, “Say It Aint So” by Weezer, and “Celebrity Skin” by Hole. My favorite line of the night: “You want a part of me. Well, I’m not selling cheap. No I’m not selling cheap.”

This is Lorraine the 1 year old Dachshund. She obviously had quite enough of us taking over her bedroom (also known as the living room) and burrowed into the towel for some piece and quiet. But no, we didn’t shut up, not till long past 2am.

I also did pretty well at playing drums on the Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” which is actually a fun song to play drums to. Said producer attempted to sing that song and OK Go’s “Here It Goes” and it sounded, like, well, dogs should’ve been howling up and down the neighborhood. (Lorraine didn’t do anything.) At one point, Humphry the director came out from the kitchen with the most bewildered expression on his face at the noise that was SUPPOSED to be lyrics, and went over to the TV and pointed out the lyrics crawl on the TV to help the producer out. It was the funniest thing I had seen in awhile.

And here’s me, singing The Police’s “Roxanne.” Which I sang AND avoided the camera for the entire song and STILL scored like a 97 percent. Points off for laughing, I’m sure.

Point being, it was a fabulous time, and should Pink Piggy hit the festival circuit, we are truly prepared to take on the crews of any other film in competition and STOMP ‘EM in several rounds of Rock Band. Everyone has been warned.