Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Mother The Atonal Phone Harpy

I’ve been in Alabama for the past few days, and it’s been snowing here. SNOW, PEOPLE! IN ALABAMA! We’re in Northern Alabama, so it’s not completely unheard of, my childhood has more than a few memories of bucolic sledding down neighborhood hills with borrowed sleds, but I haven’t seen snow since 2005, and I think that was in Pittsburgh in February or something.

It started snowing on Christmas morning, and the first thing most people do when there’s a decent snow (these pictures were taken when it first started snowing) is to build snowmen in yards. It’s a knee jerk reaction. Whenever we’ve gone out in the car over the past 48 hours, we’ve slowed down to pay respects to every snowman we see. That’s what they’re there for, of course. They’re decorated with hats, scarves, twigs for arms. And carrots for noses. There’s ALWAYS a carrot for a nose.

Even my baby snowman, no more than a foot high, had a little carrot nubbin for a nose. He was supposed to have M&Ms for eyes, but they wouldn’t stay put. (It was icy snow, rather than sticky snow), and they’d fall off when we tried to put the head on, so he’s not quite fully assembled here.

People get all bent out of shape over snow here in Alabama. They even canceled local church services, for fear of slippery roads. The roads were fine to my eye, and I was thoroughly bummed to miss a good old Southern church service.

But we did make it to Christmas Eve service, so not all was lost. The church has gone under some renovations, I THINK these are the same pews I grew up in, though they appear to be canted at more of an angle than I remember. The front stage has been enlarged, the massive cross has come off the wall and is now suspended by wires over the choir section, which led to visions of something snapping and something horrible happening dancing in my head (nothing did.)

This is the church I grew up in. I once shot golf balls off the back balcony towards a golf hole at the front of the church altar in a church-sanctioned putt-putt course that went all throughout the building. I don’t think you could do that now, because you’d most likely hit the now-suspended massive cross in front. I was there for the good years, heh.

This is the church I grew up in, and though it’s got some fancy bells and whistles on it, some things never change. Our Christmas Eve service will always be scripture readings of the Christmas story, interspersed with traditional carols (the Korean translation of the songs were new, apparently a small Korean church rents out the Fellowship Hall for their Sunday services.) There will always be a church candle lighting done to Joy To The World.

And My Mother The Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much will always be horribly off key.

I grew up in this church, and I grew up standing next to MMTPHWILVVM and her atonal warbling in Sunday services for years and years. I remember it being something like yowling cats. Howling knives on chalkboards? I love her very very much.

I never thought much of it at the time. This is MMTPHWILVVM, and this is how she sings. I’m sure your moms did something throughout your childhood that later on in life, you look back and cringe at. Picking you up at elementary school in an embarrassing car? Maybe unfortunate footwear? Blowing up the kitchen with an ill-advised cooking experiment? We’ve all got something.

But somewhere along the way, I realized that I could sing on key. I escaped the genetic punishment of Off Key, and I was On Key. I LURVE singing. One of my goals for 2011 is to sing Smokey Robinson’s “More Love” at a Karaoke Night To Be Determined.

How is it I can sing, MMTPHWILVVM can’t, and I’m related to her? I dunno.

She sung falsetto for years and years, until some throat nodes some years ago knocked that out of her, and now she’s humming down on an alto level. Which is where she was this past Christmas Eve. She’s tackling faithful standards such as “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “Away In A Manger” (for which there is no Korean translation for “Round Yon Virgin” HA!), and she’s off every third or fourth note. I wonder if that’s why Dad put me firmly in the middle between them in the pew, to act as a literal sound barrier. Nah, she’s not that bad.

I mean, it’s definitely noticeable. I’ve been battling a mild congestion case, putting my own voice down at Lauren Bacall levels, and I’m more on key than she is. The guy behind us is over 60, and he’s got a beautiful voice, I can hear him clearly. I can only imagine what the people are thinking in front of us. Nobody’s turning around horrified.

And yet.

This is the church I grew up in. This is the church my Mom attends regularly. We’re surrounded by regular attenders of all kinds – people who’ve called this church home for 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. Mom’s a veteran, over 30 years at least.

And this is our church family. The stuff inside may move around – pews, massive crosses, new additions out the back – but this church still stands. And the people still stand inside it. They even add to it, thank you Korean congregation.

So I smiled, realizing that My Mother The Phone Harpy, Whom I Love Very Very Much and her atonal pipes have GOT to be an institution by now. Everybody who’s been going here for any length of time totally knows what they’re getting into when they sit in her pew. She’s here. She loves God and Jesus. And she’s gloriously off-key.

And we all love her for it.

Happy Holidays, everybody.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Heading Home...

tomorrow for Christmas for the first time in two years! Will Alabama be ready? Will I be ready!? I hear it's FREEZING over there!

Remember how I said I wasn't sure if I could handle not writing at all in December? Guess what?! HAVEN'T BEEN WRITING! Too much other crap to do, with it being the silly season and all...

Though I do not doubt that there will be plenty of time to write on the plane. Heh.

Oh, and I got bounced again by the Red Cross when I tried to do my Hopefully Annual Tradition of Giving Blood in December. Stupid red hemoglobin machine of DEATH!

Seriously. there's not a thing else I can add that I haven't already said before.

So I'm off to bed, it's gonna be a long day tomorrow.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Who Says Los Angeles Doesn't Have Seasons?

Because these trees in my neighborhood think it's fall:















Isn't the color LOVELY! It was over eighty degrees yesterday and today, but who cares!? (especially since I don't have to rake them when they fall down. It's not even in front of my house!)







But the absolute best tree is the one that came today to my office, courtesy of sister Agatha, Mr. Agatha, and Bug.

My very own mini Christmas tree! Fits the Shabby Shack perfectly, a tiny tree for a tiny place!

I basically threw the lights and mini ornaments on, because I'm on a blogging deadline, people!







Needless to say, plenty of thoughts came to mind, like You're stringing the lights wrong, you're not placing the ornaments the right way, there's no extension cord, can't you quickly come up with some kind of religious metaphor for the tiny snowmen ornaments made in China, blah blah blah. That will all come later. I'm just enjoying the trees right now.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

My new mantra

You know, when I signed up for Facebook, I had to quickly put up some kind of personal info about me, which everyone knows I'm not eager to do. So my opening sentence was

"I write things that make people laugh. And I am kind to animals."

I still stand by that.

But the backup singers on Adele's new one have an awesome mantra:



You're gonna wish you. Never Had Met Me.

That's so awesome. I'm not planning personal revenge on anyone currently, but it smacks of such brassy I'm Awesome And You're Stupid that I adore it to pieces.

Go on, sing along. It's damn catchy.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Basil Diva Dog

I’ve been at Basil Diva Dog and Ginger Puppy’s house all week for Thanksgiving. Ginger Puppy’s fur has grown back significantly, which we’re all pretty happy about, though she can sometimes be reluctant to take the stairs.

Meanwhile, Basil Diva Dog has been doing his own weird pacing routine, and that sometimes includes refusing to take the stairs as well. There’s a couple of different explanations – old age affecting his mobility and/or memory recall – was I just in this room? I can’t remember. I’d better go through it again. And it’s quite possible he’s manipulating me into giving him the same kind of treatment he sees his younger sister getting. But joke’s on him – he’s may be bigger than Ginger Puppy, but he’s lighter, so I don’t mind carting him around all day.

We’ve gotten some rain on a few days, and tonight the wind was kicking up, which sent Basil Diva Dog into his pacing circles on the first floor. This drives me batty, because his old age also means he’s given to pee on imported rugs if I don’t keep my eye on him and The Walking Dead was about to start, so I simply picked him up, and made soothing sounds while I slowly carried him through each room to show him that yes, indeed, we’re all safe and sound, the only bad guys are the zombies on TV, and they’re not real.

So I settled down on the floor in the TV room still holding him, just to see what he’d do. Turns out he decided to take a nap, half in my lap, half in my arms. (Ginger Puppy was holding court on her own towel underneath the TV.)

He never does this. This is Basil Diva Dog we’re talking about. Mr. Aloof. Mr. You’re Only Here To Feed Me And Open The Door So I Can Go Outside. Mr. Don’t You Dare Touch Me.

There’s been a few moments in the years where he gets spooked and wants to be reassured. But those usually involve thunderstorms, fireworks, or construction equipment outside.

Tonight was just the wind, which seriously wasn’t that bad, and the zombies on the TV, which weren’t too bad either (I can’t take them seriously, they’re Slow Shuffling Zombies, not Jackrabbit Zombies. It’s the Jackrabbit Zombies that you have to be afraid of. You can easily outrun or get in a car and drive away from Slow Shuffling Zombies.)

This might be Basil Diva Dog’s final spiral, which I don’t like to think too much about. But in my experience, dogs will start doing things they normally don’t do, like a Doggie Bucket List of sorts, when they sense their time is near. Except where humans will put things on the list like cruises, or trips to Africa, dogs seem to do things like sleep in places they don’t normally sleep.

The weeks before my first dog Taffy passed away, I found her sleeping in chairs in the living room she never would jump on before (we didn’t even think she could jump on them.) “Whatcha doing in here?” I’d ask her. And she’d raise her head and just do her version of a smile, which, since she was a cocker spaniel, still looked pretty damn anxious. But I knew when she was happy. I have to think it was worth it for her. And I very much admire the scaled down version of a dog Bucket List.

I cannot imagine that sleeping in my lap and arms is on Basil Diva Dog’s list. He is the most independent and aloof dog I’ve ever met.

But damned if I didn’t move a muscle all throughout the episode, because I didn’t want to wake him up. My left leg went completely to sleep, which rendered me much like a Slow Shuffling Zombie when I tried to get up afterwards. THAT’s what’s wrong with them! They’re not zombies! Their left legs are just asleep!

No, I don’t think I’m on Basil Diva Dog’s Bucket List. But for whatever reason, he felt comfortable enough to be comforted. And everyone needs that. Even Basil Diva Dogs.

And here he is, in all his shaggy glory. He’s once again sitting in my lap, albeit briefly. Because if the choice is my lap or his crate, it’s no contest. The crate wins every time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Next Big Thing

One of the most glaring things about temping in and around the industry is your lack of access. Sure, you’ll see the emails about employee screenings, about wellness seminars, about discounts at the company store and all their affiliates, but you can’t take part in them unless you’re a full time employee with one of those ID cards. I did crash an on-lot premiere party for a studio’s release one weekend, but those opportunities are few and far between. And all things considered, I wish I had been able to see the movie more than drink at the party.

When you’re a temp, it’s like you’re a ghost. You’re there, but you don’t count. You do the work, you don’t get the perks. You’re needed, but not appreciated. Not unless they hire you full time.

Nowhere is lack of access more annoying than trying to get onto your lot to report for work every morning. The full time employees buzz through the employee lane, the security guards scan their IDs, the parking gate arm raises up and off they go. Meanwhile, you’re left in the dust trying in vain to persuade the security guard that yes, you’re trying to get to work, no, you’re not trying to blow up the lot, and no, you don’t know why there’s not a pass for you in the system.

Nine times out of ten, the security guard will try to call your boss to clear you, not understanding that nobody will pick up the phone, because the person that picks up your boss’s phone is YOU, and you are not on the other side of the parking gate arm.

There are some really annoying security guards like that out there, and someday, maybe five years from now, I will list them all. And to be fair, for every really annoying security guard, especially the one that was the bane of my existence for a month, his compatriot right across the street at the other building I landed a two week gig at was an absolute sweetheart, and would let me in without batting an eye. He told me he worked for twenty years in customer service at an insurance company, that may have a lot to do with it, heh.

But it’s about access. It’s about the lowered parking gate arm. The symbol of how you don’t count. You’re half a person. You gotta wait.

I’ve been temping for a little shy of two years now. It’s grueling and debilitating stuff, especially when your boss claims he can’t hire you because, despite the eight or nine months you put into the gig, he hasn’t interviewed enough people to be able to make a decision. And you in turn have to tell that story in every subsequent interview you go on, because they wanna know why you’ve been temping for a little shy of two years. Don’t you want a full time gig? (Yes) Aren’t you good enough to hire full time? (Not according to that loser.)

The lowered parking gate arm.

That boss will get his in time, I have no doubt. You don’t yank someone around like that without incurring massive amounts of bad karma. And there were good things about that gig – I made a lot of great friends, who helped me take advantage of what perks I could (barbeque lunches during the summer.)

But temping for a little shy of two years is grueling and debilitating stuff. Especially when you’re turning down full time offers that you absolutely know would be the wrong place for you. And the thoughts that haunt you: Aren’t you good enough to hire? (Yes) Don’t you want a full time gig? (Not here, I don’t.)

The lowered parking gate arm.

Today was orientation day of my new full time position. It’s at one of the huge media conglomerates (one with a studio lot. Heh, THAT narrows it down, doesn’t it!?), and most of the day was spent exploring all the different perks and benefits available to us. If I’m understanding things correctly, I could take Spanish classes online. For free. Learning Spanish is on my Bucket List, right after Learning To Surf, Trip To Napa Valley, and Cruising On The New Disney Cruise Ship (my Bucket List is stupidly achievable.)

Even though this job will officially end my days o’ temping, I’m a little wary of what will happen next, for a variety of reasons that I may not be fully able to talk about in a public forum (because I signed one of those I Have Read The Standards Of Business Conduct things without actually reading it yet.)

But as I was trying to talk myself through it at the lunch paid for by Human Resources, I realized that the last two full time positions I’ve had have been temp to perm positions. Meaning I knew what the job was about. Here, I’ve been hired without knowing what the job is really like. Sure, I interviewed, and sure, I saw the place, and met my fellow co-workers, but you never know. Things could go horribly awry. The pros and cons list are running equal right now. Which is better than negative, but not as good as positive.

I love this picture. I’ve used it on the blog before, but it SO perfectly encapsulates my mood when embarking on any new life change. Thanks God! But please don’t let this suck!!!!

First thing they did when I reported for orientation today was take a picture of me for my ID card. These never go well, it’s hard to take a good picture of me in natural light, much less under florescent lighting with a pixilated camera.

And when we went downstairs for lunch and to hit the studio store for the studio tour, we had to go through the security clearances. I wondered if my ID had been activated to let me in, or if I was gonna have to plead with the security guard to buzz me through. I’ve pleaded with enough security guards to know how to make my case, and the ones here are amiable folks.

But I dug out the ID card and passed it over the card reader. The red X changed to a green arrow, and the plastic turnstiles retracted to allow me through.

I have access now. I officially count now. Lead on, God, lead on.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pondering

This blog entry is 1,053 words. That would be 1,053 words that could've gone to the novel I'm writing for NaNoWriMo, but I am determined to keep up all my commitments, even if it kills me.

And we may be approaching that. The issue isn't that I'm behind on the word count, I am, but not by too much (24,932 words right now, I should be 25,005.) But for whatever reason, last week and now most of this week has me at a different evening commitment every night. Even the weekends. And that's just not cool to me. I'm going to have to start turning people down, and it seems like a ridiculous thing to do, to turn down dinner with someone just so I can putter around in the Shabby Shack, chained to my computer.

Hilariously, I have plenty of time to write at work. This newest temp gig is a cakewalk, and I can easily get to 2,000 words every day Monday through Friday because nothing more is required of me than to answer a hardly ringing phone and manage a very laid back exec's calendar. It's wonderful, blissful, even, and I appreciate it so much. I'd like to say God is looking out for me by providing me with a rough six hours of writing time every day Monday through Friday (I do have to work some.)

But then I turn into a greedy brat and want my evenings to be free as well, so I can read. It makes sense, I'm writing a novel, I want to be reading novels, just so I can continue in that mindset. I have a whole stack of them on the coffee table just waiting for me to dive in. But there's a meeting tonight, a dinner the other night, a party there, a concert tomorrow (You guys! Greg Dulli is playing at the Troubadour! Aaaaaaahhhhhhh!) and pretty soon I'm just coming home to sleep for six and half hours before waking up and getting on the hamster wheel all over again.

Ironically, we were discussing learning how to be in God's rest for the class I'm taking after church on Sundays. I took it so seriously, I ended up falling asleep during the class. Luckily, it was during the DVD portion of it, so I didn't stick out too much. I don't snore, see. It helps a lot.

But when we broke out into small groups I came clean about the snoozing and asked the group what I missed about God's rest. To me, the classic definition is ye olde Be Still And Know That I Am God. Stop what you're doing, go sit in a meadow with wildflowers and be with God. Don't even talk to Him. Hear what He has to say to you. My small group informed me that it’s not exactly about stopping what you’re doing so much as letting go of your anxiety and “rest in the peace that Jesus will take care of everything.” I didn’t have the strength to say out loud what was my immediate Crankypants reaction, which was…

“Jesus isn’t gonna write 50,000 words in 30 days.”

I knew one of the benefits of living by myself was going to be increased productivity. And this year alone, I’ve written a new draft of Polka Dotted Platypus, a new draft of Striped Tiger, a first draft of a new pilot, Red Llama, and now this book, which also needs an animal name, let’s call it Black Plaid Salamander. (also a small rewrite on a four page sketch for friends that swear they’re still gonna film it someday.)

My Ex-Roomie Jekyll once said that we all carry a certain amount of pain (whether she was talking physical or emotional is irrelevant) to the point where we don’t even notice it anymore.

I think I’ve been carrying around the feeling of being burnt out on writing, and just not noticing it, due to the wonderful productivity of it all.

Writing is a wonderful denial tool. On Sunday, Augustus and I were writing at a restaurant, trying to get the word count in for the day, and the waiter immediately pegged us as doing the NaNoWriMo thing. Excited to meet fellow participants, he then shared that he was up to 35,000 words, and in the same breath said he started two days late because he had to put his cat down on November 1st. It’s obvious that Overproductive Waiter is using the NaNoWriMo thing as a denial tool, so he doesn’t have to get to the business of grieving about his cat right away.


And I’ve been using NaNoWriMo as a denial tool, to avoid thinking or dealing with the wreck of my life. Things are shaking themselves in a certain direction that I’m not talking about, because we’re not there yet. But after sharing with a new acquaintance over dinner what this year’s been like, she pointed out that I need to take a break. That I need to breathe. That maybe I need to deal with the pain of this year.

Pain? What pain? Leaving the job pain? Disappointment pain that Pink Piggy died on the film distribution vine? Disillusionment pain that I’m this old and my life looks this way and no clear cut way to change it has occurred to me?

If I’m still standing, then the pain simply isn’t that bad. It SOUNDS bad, sure. But I can carry it. I always have.

When I’m in my Boot Camp class, and the instructors are going around and explaining the different stations, I always make it a point to do the worst station first (it’s usually sprints, or running the stairs, or planks and mountain climbers. God, I hate those), to get it out of the way. Do the thing you don’t want to, and get it out of the way.

If I don’t want to take a break from writing, if the thought of say, not writing for all of December scares me, then it’s exactly the thing I need to do. I know this.

If this theme of Not Writing is coming from more than one quarter, than it definitely sounds like God is attempting to get my attention.

Maybe I’d just write half the words I usually write? Compromise?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

What Would Be The Right Choice?

I have perhaps unwisely (but definitely unofficially) signed up for the National Novel Writing Month thing, where a group of writers that need to kick their own ass commit to writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

So far I have over 12,500, so I'm doing alright, but needless to say, between that, journaling every day, and regular life, there's little brain power left over for a proper blog entry.

Not to mention that big decisions need to be made, probably this week, that will affect my life in a drastic way (the car is fine, Mom.)

Some might say God finally decided to show up and do something. I'm not sure myself. All I'm really wanting is to make sure that I make the choice that God wants me to make.

You'd think that'd be a simple thing, wouldn't you. You'd think that'd be something that God would say, Yes, absolutely, let Me impart a full measure of My wisdom to you.

And yet, all I'm getting is a flurry of thoughts in my brain that won't settle down. Ugh.

Stay tuned.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Somebody Knows (Even If You Don't)

This is Lovable Doofus, Mr. Agatha’s black Lab. He’s happy here because we just got back from a walk. And he’s smiling, so you can’t see all the flecks of gray around his eyes and muzzle that indicate he’s a senior Lovable Doofus, but he’s very distinguished (in years, that is.)

Lovable Doofus’ world is very different than from when the year began. He had a constant companion in Princess Rolo, sister Agatha’s dog. He would bark a lot more, be underfoot a lot more, be crazy a lot more.

Now, ten months later, it’s just him and it’s a lot quieter. I always wonder what that’s like, in the world of a dog, how they process that information. When we had two cocker spaniels at home, one of them allegedly went deaf, and I wondered how that one communicated to the other one: Dude. I can’t hear. I CAN’T HEAR. Because there didn’t seem to be any spazzing out about it.

Here is Baby Elmo, one of the small children I went trick or treating with yesterday. I tried my hardest to get a picture of him with the Elmo head that served as his candy bag, since that was so weird and wrong, but he was a squirmy one, and I barely got this shot off before he yanked off the top part of the costume. He was hot and cranky and didn’t last long on the candy train. I can only imagine what Baby Elmo thought about the whole thing. What the hell is this? Red fur? On me? WHAT IS GOING ON! IT’S HOT! I’M STICKY! GET ME OUT OF HERE! I DON’T CARE ABOUT CANDY! WHAT THE HELL IS CANDY ANYWAYS? I’M NOT EVEN TWO!

Who knows what Lovable Doofus thinks (I suspect it’s not much.) Who knows what Baby Elmo thinks. But it’s important to know that even though they only have a dim understanding of what’s going on, someone ELSE knows what’s going on, and will take care of them.

So ends the most disgustingly obvious metaphor o’ the day.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It Makes Me Laugh and Laugh

Earlier in the year, there were a wave of layoffs at the company I eventually ended up leaving because my boss wouldn't hire me.

The people that were let go weren't happy, and I took one of them out to lunch so she could vent and steam about what an idiot my boss was (because it was my boss that recommended she be let go.) I did not dispute her assessment of my boss, I just nodded and let her bitch and bitch and bitch, because sometimes you need someone to do that for you.

This gal was also approaching a wedding date, and to be suddenly thrust in the midst of uncertainty when you're trying to make THAT thing happen was traumatic, to say the least.

So I recommended that she do what I always wanted to do and take a spontaneous vacation. You've got severance, and you've got nowhere to be. So you can hit up one of the travel sites, look at their deals for the week, the ones where they discount airfare, hotel rooms, all sorts of things, if you're willing to travel that very weekend. Which you can't necessarily do if you have a job. It's one of the few things you can do when freshly fired that makes you feel better.

She actually listened to me (which rarely happens. Nobody ever listens to me, heh.) and ended up going to San Francisco for the weekend and having a great time.

While I was stuck in the Business Affairs Shaky Building O FUN, I found myself looking forward towards the end date, even when I didn't know what it was, and I found myself idly looking at those travel deals. I haven't been anywhere this year, and this year is (thankfully) almost over. Last year, I bounced all over the place, and next year, I'll probably be bouncing all over the place again.

But where could I realistically go this year? For not much money? All the places on the travel deals list skew towards the romantic, and it would be awkward to go by myself.

But then. I remembered that Virgin America had just recently opened a new non-stop route to Orlando. Orlando, where sister Agatha, Mr. Agatha and Bug live. I checked out the website, and they were indeed having a sale if I traveled before a specific date.

A quick huddle with sister Agatha concluded that yes, yes, yes, I definitely needed to come visit over Halloween weekend.

Which prompted a reaction somewhat like Cookie Monster below. (Some of you, perhaps a lot of you, have already seen this making the rounds on the web. I don't care.)

Cookie Monster

That is unmitigated joy on Cookie Monster's face, courtesy of the Cake Boss episode celebrating Sesame Street's 40th anniversary. I can watch this for up to five minutes at a time, laughing and laughing and laughing.

And it will be unmitigated joy on my face when I step on that Virgin American flight on Thursday. Agatha's already got the weekend planned out. It involves water parks, Universal Studios, Halloween costumes, and buckets and buckets of candy.

My life is looking up. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's Your Move, Enough With The Teasing

I’ve been hearing chatter here and there about how we need to be honest before God. As someone who’s so honest with God, I feel chummy enough to claim He’s slacking on the job AND occasionally drop the F bomb AND feel massive amounts of guilt on top of it, I don’t understand not being honest with Him.

What’s the point of keeping things back from the One who knows everything anyway? I would like to know why anyone would keep things back. It’s just speedier to show warts and all on the first go around. I’m trying to make life changes, and I’m SO impatient. Productivity is key, heh.

Anyways, let’s talk about failure to progress! Waaaaa-hoooooooooo!

Just when I thought I was done with the month long temp gig working at the job I didn’t want, I get called BACK! For a week. Working two cubicles down from where I was, working for two other people. They’re nicer, which is good. And it’s only for a week, which is good.

But yeah. Here I was putting all my hope in God to lead on, lead on...and He leads me back to the same dismal hamster wheel. Well, that’s just GREAT, God! Yes, that is sarcasm, God. Let’s be honest with our warts and all.

I demand you do something with me, God. I demand you move and work in my life in a big fat huge way that doesn’t involve physical pain and/or me losing limbs. I’ve cleared everything out, it’s your move. IT’S YOUR MOVE, GOD.

You know what’s hilarious about the building I’ve been working in for the past month? It’s built on top of a subterranean parking garage. And at certain times in the morning, and later on in the afternoon, when the cars come in to work, or go out from work, and all that weight is going over the same bumps, the entire building...shivers. And shudders. And trembles. A potential earthquake that never happens.

Day after day of enduring these baby tremors, and I’m ready to blow my top. I’m not frightened, I’m annoyed, I’m like JUST SHAKE THE BUILDING DOWN ALREADY! ENOUGH WITH THE TEASING! I can’t imagine how people who work here full time endure it.

There’s actually an earthquake drill scheduled for later on in the week. We get to hide under our desks for a minute. Somebody is actually timing us. Heh.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ginger Puppy Strikes Again

Part 1 proved to be one of the most popular posts on the blog this year. So behold: Part 2 of Ginger Puppy's Metaphorical Journey with God. (This thing practically writes itself.)

The second chapter with Ginger Puppy and God happened this past weekend. Let's listen in on their conversation, shall we?

You promised.

I know, I know. But very technically, I haven't broken any promises yet.

Oh yeah? Just look at me.

I know, I know. You look...

Just say it.

You look uncomfy.

I look STUPID!

Not to me.

I look like a furry four year old auditioning for a blue daisy in Alice In Wonderland!

I could see that. But you're not.

You said you'd take care of me!

I am. I promise you, I am.

If you were gonna take care of me, why is this happening all over again!?!?

I said I'd take care of you. I didn't say I'd stop bad things from ever happening to you ever again.

Explain yourself!

Amy's my translator, and she's not a vet.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Your leg isn't healing quite the way they hoped. So they went in there to look around and see what they could see, and to remove the bracing that was there from the last surgery. And we're still waiting for the results.

I LOOK STUPID!

Not to me, you don't. I love you, Ginger Puppy.

YEAH!? SO WHAT! YOU LOVE EVERYONE! YOU DON'T DISCRIMINATE!

Some people appreciate that about me.

BUT NOT EVERYONE LOOKS LIKE A STUPID CANINE VERSION OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE!

Alright, alright, get it out. Let it all out.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(inhale)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME WHY AREN'T YOU HELPING MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

I am helping you, Ginger Puppy.


LOOK AT MY FRONT LEGS! THEY'RE EMBARRASSING! WHAT AM I, A POODLE!?

I know, I know.

MAKE THE FUR GROW BACK FASTER!

I can't make it grow back any faster than the normal fur growing rate for dogs.

I'M UNEVEN! ASCETICALLY UNBALANCED!

I'm here. I promise you I'm right here.

THIS SUCKS!

I know it does. I know. Let's go watch a movie in the media room. I'll sit on the floor, and you can lean next to me, and I'll pet your leg and everything'll be fine.

I WANNA WATCH MAD MEN!

Whatever you want, Ginger Puppy.

I WANNA WATCH IT IN BLU-RAY!

You'll fall asleep in ten minutes, and everything will be fine.

I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING TO ME AGAIN!

I know, I know. But I'm here, I promise you. I will be here for you. I'll feed you, I'll hide the pain pills in cheddar cheese slices so you don't have to taste them. I'll pick you up so you don't have to walk up the stairs. I'll make you a nice towel pad bed next to my bed so you don't have to lay on the hard floor and you'll be as close to me as possible. I'll even take the collar off sometimes, because I know you don't like it.


THESE STITCHES ITCH LIKE A MOTHERTRUCKER!

And then I'll put the collar back on.

Whatever happens next, little one. How ever long it takes to heal, whatever the results come back as. I will not leave you. I promise you that. You're not going through this alone.


GAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

I know, little one. I know.

I know.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Amy Attempts To Meditate On God's Word (with Crankypants Results)

I’m doing a few new things at church which involve a few new groups, which means I get to bust out my standard disclaimer that I’m Amy The Writer, I tend to be cranky and needlessly specific, so don’t come at me with your biblical clich├ęs and not expect me to demand real life examples.

And in one of the meetings today, I was again demanding that somebody tell me what the old chestnut of Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” looks like in a modern day context.

The course materials we were given indicated that:

Transformed: not something I can do, it is the supernatural power of God’s grace.

Renewing: a process in which I make choices through the power of God’s grace.


So needlessly specific me wanted a Real Life example of what “making choices through the power of God’s grace” looks like.

There’s a typical hush that follows when I ask a question like this. And because I tend to be cranky when I ask it (otherwise I’d let it go) nobody really wants to be the first to answer, and I get it, I do. Why answer the Crankypants in the corner, right? She’s just cranky, and no real answer would satisfy her.

Eventually, a few people offered their thoughts, some of which included meditating on God’s truth as opposed to the lie we tend to believe (the theme of the class in general.) And if you wanna know what God’s truth is, you pick out a Bible verse (the example given was chestnut Psalm 139.) and think think THINK about it. A lot. For awhile. And again.

Running alongside this is my daily Bible devotionals. I’m almost done with my second tour of reading the Bible straight through (in Revelations now, always a fun wrap up) and last week, when I was cruising through 1, 2, and 3 John, these verses caught my eye (emphasis mine, but felt I should include all for context):

1 John Ch. 3 vs. 18-20:
"18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”

The Message translates it like this:

18-20My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.”

So, let’s take my class’s advice, and meditate on God’s truth, shall we? It shall be a stream of consciousness, so we can ALL see a small sliver of how Amy’s Brain Works.

And…..go!

Hi, God. It’s Amy The Writer aka Crankypants.

Thank You for this word. Thank You that You gave it to John, who then gave it to his peeps, and thank You for the long long long line of people that came between Then and Now so I can read it.

Thank You that I live in a nation where I can read something like this without fear or threat of persecution, as I know that is a right that not everyone has.

How do I set my heart at rest in Your presence?

I’m supposed to love with actions, I’m supposed to love in truth.

(this is also how I know that I belong to the truth, but I’m less concerned about that right now.)

Honestly, I don’t see the correlation.

I’m an awful person, because I don’t WANT to love with actions and in truth. I want my heart to be at rest in Your presence.

I want not to worry, not to fret, not to be anxious about how this year has sucked so much, and I’ve begged You all year to move me where You want me to be, I’ve been begging You all year to reach down and grab my hand, begging You to meet me halfway, if not all the way. I’ve invited, cajoled, pleaded with You to show up and start working.

When You didn’t move in my life, I moved. When You didn’t point the way, I decided on a direction myself (bear in mind that I repeatedly asked You for input and opinions. I made these choices in the absence of Your response.)

How do I set my heart at rest in Your presence when there’s a notable lack of response from You? How do I even know I’m in Your presence, as opposed to me typing away at my computer? I’m meditating on Your word right now, but it doesn’t feel any different, no angelic chorus announcing the arrival of Amy Crankypants Writer in Your Hallowed Hallway (whatever that looks like.)

Read the rest of the passage, Crankypants.


19This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”

Does my heart condemn me?

It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.”

What self criticism have I been enduring lately?

Ummmmm, actually, I’m putting it all on You, God. Because I’ve been working my ass off here. I’ve been moving and shaking and stuff. There’s not so much criticism of myself lately, as there is me criticizing YOU for not holding up Your end of the bargain.

Little one, you don’t get to criticize Me. I am the Lord Your God, if you wanna get all OT about it. I made the sun, the moon, the stars, and a bunch of other stuff that people sing hymns about in modern day church services. I gave you everything you have and are currently complaining about. You have your health (allergies notwithstanding) you live by yourself, you have money in the bank account, Ethel the car is still chugging away, your immediate family is alive and well (Mr. Agatha’s new cell phone not withstanding.) and you’re pissed off about the fact that you don’t have a full time job with health benefits that you wouldn’t even use, because I blessed you with such health that you only see a doctor once a year, and that’s your gynecologist.

What’s your problem, anyway?

I don’t have stability, God. I don’t know where we’re going, God.

Well, welcome to life, kiddo. Nobody does. Even when I’m actively working in their lives, and even when I’m not. Nobody knows exactly where they’re going. They only have a very vague sense of direction. Like...north. Or...southeast. Or...Africa. Or...middle school teacher. Or...parents to four boys.

I don’t even have that, God.

Get over yourself. You know who you are. You’re Amy The Writer. That’s your direction.

But what do I do with that, God? What do You want me to do with that, God? How am I supposed to advance Your kingdom with my gift like any good sermon would say I’m supposed to do when You won’t show up and move in my life and show me what You want me to do with it?

What do YOU wanna do with it?

I wanna get PAID for it! Enough to become my primary wage! Because it’s so exhausting to juggle the meaningless day job that I’m only doing to pay the bills, and the writing stuff. Failure to progress, God! Failure to progress!

With no positive reinforcement that Yes, You Are Supposed To Be Writing, it’s REALLY HARD to continue to believe that I’M SUPPOSED TO BE WRITING!

Why can’t the two be wonderfully integrated? I advance Your kingdom in some way and get paid enough to make it my sole occupation! Problem solved! Why isn’t it in Your will already!?

Little one, Methinks you focus on money too much.

Does that make me an awful person? Hey, my heart’s condemning me! We’re back on track with the verse! I PLANNED it that way!

For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”

For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.”


So, God, You know a few things:

1. Amy The Writer is a Major Crankypants.
2. Amy The Writer isn’t gonna shut up about it anytime soon.
3. Amy The Writer wants You to DO SOMETHING ALREADY.
4. Amy The Writer doesn’t trust You.

Wha-huh?

Amy The Writer doesn’t trust You, the Lord Her God.

Why wouldn’t you trust Me, little one?

Because You haven’t shown up all year long.

Only from where you’re sitting, little one. You don’t see where I’m sitting. You don’t know about the things I’m working on for you and your adorable little Crankypants heart. Haven’t I surprised you in the past?

Well, yeah, but—

Well yeah, nothing. I was there for you in the past, why wouldn’t you think I’d be there for you now?

Because You’re NOT here. This is just me pretending to have a conversation with You, this is just me saying what I think You’d say if You were here.

You think I’m not here?

You haven’t been here all year.

Only from where you’re sitting, little one. You don’t see what I see. I see everything. I see beginning, middle and end. You only see what’s right in front of you. It’s cool. I know this about you anyway. You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know.

You know I’m a brat.

Yup.

You know I’m a bitch. An ungrateful Crankypants.

And all those other offensive terms you didn’t wanna write on a public blog.

You know I’m exhausting. You know I won’t shut up about it. And You know I’m not getting out of this ring until I get an answer from You.

I know.

Where’s my answer?

My time, not yours.

FUCK your time, God! Honestly!

I know, little one, I know.

Where’s my answer?

My time, not yours.

Where’s my answer?

My time, not yours.

Where’s my answer?

My time, not yours.

I’m not giving up, God.

I know, little one, I know. I love you anyway.

I don’t think anyone made it this far through the blog entry, God.

I know, little one, I know. You should go find some pretty pretty pictures later to break up the massive amounts of text.

Good idea, God. Thanks.

You’re welcome.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's That Time Of Year...

Where I can't BREATHE!

Seriously, I think if you go back through the archives, September is the month where I can't breathe. And I comment on it.

I learned yesterday night that #1 - air conditioning is a beautiful thing (it's like 80 degrees at night) and #2 - I can only breathe if I'm flat on my back. The second I turn to the side, I get all clogged up again.

I wonder how work tomorrow will go.

So I will put up another post when I have the use of both my nostrils. That's right, I'm not settling for ONE nostril, I demand both of them BACK!

:)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Amy the Gutsticker

Not that anyone ever would, but do not doubt for a second that I rock an executive assistant's desk like nobody else you know.

I have only been on the desk here in Business Affairs for a little over a week, and my two bosses wanted me to apply for the position full time. Never mind the fact that they were 99 percent settled on who they were planning on hiring before I showed up. I showed up, and suddenly all bets were off, and I became a last minute contender for this position.

So what's the problem?

The problem is I don't want this job.

Didn't you just leave your last job because they wouldn't hire you full time?

Yup.

Haven't you been trying to get hired full time for over a year now?

Yup yup.

Are you high right now?

No.

It's all going back to putting myself first. Most of the time, I put everyone else first, taking the Christian position to the extreme. Everyone goes first, I"ll bring up the rear.

This leads to me wasting way too much in jobs and/or relationships that I should've cut within six months. But I have an unfortunate habit of putting other people first, regardless of what happens to me.

If I took this job, I would make my two Type A bosses happy (I TOLD you people I was a Type A Pisces!) but my creative soul would shrivel up and die from lack of nourishment. There's nothing creative about this job. There aren't any scripts to read, cuts to watch, nothing that could help me with my own career, nothing that could show me this is how others have done it. This is the bar to which you have to beat. I might as well be working at a law firm, or a bank, or any other kind of job that has nothing to do with the industry.

The one good thing about this job is that it's based on a studio lot where they have sauteed shrimp on the salad bar.

If only that was enough.

Two things I've learned over time:

1. Never make decisions in the heat of emotion. (I'm still learning the art of telling people about decisions without the heat of emotion behind them.)
2. Never make decisions based out of fear.

I can't take this job that I know would make me unhappy just because I'm scared my dream job isn't out there after over a year of looking. Not when I just left a job because they wouldn't hire me. Even though 2010 has turned out to be such a shit year, I haven't been kicked around enough to roll over and give up. Ask me again next year, maybe then the answer will be different. I'm sure this job would still be available. These bosses have a tendency to run people out of the position.

My gut is telling me I just got free of something and the last thing thing in the world I should do is lock myself up, especially if it isn't 100 percent perfect. Or even 70 percent perfect.

I have to try. I have to risk it. I have to stick with my gut. I have to put my faith in God.

In the under two weeks that I've been here (that's right people, under two weeks and they still wanted to hire me) I've wondered if this situation is a test. Is God testing me? And if I passed it, I get a reward? A shower of blessings? Like when they told Solomon he could have wisdom or riches, and he chose wisdom so he was rewarded with both?

Seriously? Why would you think that? Why would God need to test you in this completely superficial way?

Because He wants to show me something about myself? That I shouldn't settle? That there is a better, or at the very least more interesting world out there? That I have to take a risk? Does God want that? Does God want his people to risk something?

Their lives for JAY-SUS!

My gut is telling me I have to be true to me. And even when the new hire comes in (and nobody seems to know when that will be) and off I go into the great unknown again, and if nothing comes up, it means I at least have more time to write. Or take a long long nap.

I'm also not discounting the fact that I'm a closet masochist, and hoping for more bad news so I can revel in it like my own mudpile.

Sure, go ahead and leave this job. Nothing's on the horizon for ya! Absolutely nothing! Bwah ha ha ha ha!

I told my bosses this morning that I didn't feel like it would be the right thing to do to apply for this job full time. I was a little nervous, because they're really intimidating people. And they stared at me with blank eyes, and said in an expressionless tone "That's really crushing because we thought you were the best candidate for the job."

I am the best candidate. For a different job. And I don't know what that job is, yet.

I'm trusting you, God. Every step of the way here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Staircase, Part 2

People, don’t worry. I know last week was pretty mopey, absolutely, I get it. I have to be honest on this blog, and that’s what I was feeling then. But God provides in so many different ways, and while he doesn’t light up a huge THIS IS WHERE WE’RE GOING sign like I want Him to, the little things He’s sent me this week assured me that yes, maybe He’s still sitting on the couch, watching my life on TV and munching popcorn, but He hasn’t changed the channel yet.

I had exactly one day off. Obviously, I was prepared for a much longer unemployed stint. And there’s a significant part of me that sighs at being thrust into such similar circumstances as last year – here’s a gig working for mercurial people that have gone through a string of temps before you showed up and calmed them down with your mellow nature that actually disguises an I Don’t Care What You Think About Me mentality – that I’m having a hard time remembering what year it is. 2009? 2010? How can I tell them apart?

But on my one day off, I went to a Boot Camp class at my gym that I never get to go to because I’m usually at work when the class starts. I recognized the instructor as someone who had subbed at one of my 7am classes before, and he’s a pretty warm guy. My other Boot Camp instructors are usually military Yell At You Because It’s Boot Camp, or Icy Cool I Throw Down This Challenge, Can You Defy My Expectations Of You.

But this instructor is a Cool Cool Cat, and the class was smaller than normal, so he was going around encouraging people one by one. By the time he got to me, I was on the triceps station.

I hate triceps dips, because they hurt like a bitch. I can do biceps stuff all day long, my deltoids aren’t too shabby, and I kick out the jams when it comes to abs, but triceps are my evil arch enemy, like they are for any girl.

But in classic fashion, The Thing You Hate The Most Is The Thing You Need To Do The Most, and Mr. Cool Cool Cat comes over to supervise me just as I’ve decided that I’m gonna do the Triceps dips all hard core, with my legs straight out in front of me, as opposed to a table top bend in the legs.

The initial plan was to go Hard Core style for 45 seconds, and then wimp out and do Table Top style for the remaining 45 seconds. But now that Mr. Cool Cool Cat has come over to cheer me on, I can’t exactly quit halfway through.

So I struggle through a minute and a half of Hard Core Triceps Dips. For context, after 30 seconds, it feels like someone has squirted lighter fluid on the back of my arms and flicked a match. My arms are rapidly approaching noodle consistency, and there’s a good chance I won’t be able to raise them again for the rest of the day, which will make shampooing my hair pretty difficult after class.

I’m deep breathing like a champ, in the hopes the oxygen influx will take some of the burn away, and Mr. Cool Cool Cat is cheering me on, “You got this, you got this, keep going, keep going.”

“It HURTS!” I bite out through gritted teeth, desperate for someone to know that this is such a struggle, these past couple of weeks have HURT SO MUCH, and it’s all filtering down to a remaining 45 seconds, and if I puss out now, it wins.

What wins?

LIFE wins. Life - which has served me such a steaming pile of shit in the form of multiple people taking me for granted and abusing my I Treat Everyone How I Want To be Treated nature since the beginning of 2010 - is going to squash me like a bug and laugh at me as I curl up on the aerobic room floor with my broken arms, and cry, and wait for the rest of this terrible year to be over already.

“I know it hurts, but you got this, just stay with me, I’m counting you down, 15 more seconds, come on now, you got this,” Mr. Cool Cat says, and counts me down 15, 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and we’re done. It’s over.

My legs rocket back under me as my arms let go of the triceps station and I lean forward in a crouching position. I’m breathing hard, it hurts it hurts, I can barely focus in front of me. I made it through a minute and a half of Hard Core style triceps dips, and what does it matter, I still hurt, maybe more than before, hey, how am I gonna get home if I have to use my arms to drive? I hurt, I hurt, I can’t really see anything but what’s directly in front of me.

And what’s in front of me is an outstretched pair of hands.

“Good job, you did great.”

Mr. Cool Cool Cat is standing in front of me, offering his hands. His outstretched hands.

I don’t know how I did it, but my noodle arms grab his hands, seemingly operating independently of my brain. Well, if you’re not gonna click in and think here, we’ll handle this.

Mr. Cool Cool Cat pulls me up, and gives me a quick hug.

“Good job. Great job.”

Mr. Cool Cool Cat is now officially my favorite person of the year.

I made it through the rest of the class, I made it through the rest of the week, and I had unexpected drinks with Tricia, one of my favorite people of all time. We had started drinks at a local bar, then went back to her place, because our conversation was so extensive, and covered so many different topics, that a single hour just wasn’t enough.

But this means I get to see one of my favorite dogs ever, SIMON! SIMON THE DOG, people! He's made appearances on this blog here, here, and here. What an unexpected bonus! I couldn’t have planned on it, and yet here he is, and here I am, and here he is sitting on the couch next to me!

I also got a DOUBLE unexpected bonus in the form of The Staircase. Faithful Readers O The Blog will remember The Staircase entry , where little Iain didn’t wanna go to bed on New Year’s Eve, and I turned the memory of him trudging up the stairs into a patented religious metaphor O GOLD.

Here we are, over two years later, and there I am with Simon, World’s Greatest Dog, watching Iain, two years older, but no less obstinate, go up the stairs again.

What year is this? 2008? 2009? 2010?

Two years ago Iain said, “But Momma, I’m not tired.” Tonight, after a fun filled night of dinosaurs at the Staples Center and McDonald’s for dinner, he says, “I won’t do it!”

“I won’t do it!”

The hilarious part is that he’s still climbing the stairs as he’s saying it, “I won’t do it!” (climbing two more stairs) “I won’t do it, Momma!” (he keeps going.)

“We’re gonna have issues, then,” is Tricia’s reply, but she doesn’t get out of her chair. She doesn’t have to, because Iain can bitch all he wants to, but he’s still trudging up those stairs, hating life every second, but still obeying in his own obstinate way.

That is my journey.

I am tired. I’m tired, and I have noodle arms, and I am so very disappointed that despite all my actions, I cannot change or otherwise get off this dismal hamster wheel of life.

But I grabbed the outstretched hands. And I will continue to bitch all the way up these never ending stairs. But I keep going. Because I have no other choice. Because I know God won’t let me stop. Because my quads are awesome. ☺

David Bowie and his two toned eyes have nothing on Simon, World’s Greatest Dog, and Simon's Book Club Pick O The Month. We’ll see what happens.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Perhaps You Should Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap

Perhaps leaving my job might have been a bigger deal than I thought.

How else to explain why I was sitting in church yesterday, tears streaming down my face, Merriweather falling asleep beside me, while there was at least ten people standing at the front of the auditorium, waiting for people to come down so they could pray for them.

And all I could think of was, well, two things:

#1 – I should’ve brought Kleenex.
#2 – Fuck them. I’m not going down there to pray.

Which obviously means I’m not getting blessed, right? Oh SURE. Come on, now. Amy Was So Stubborn That She Couldn’t Put Aside Her Pride To Go Down The Aisle And Get Prayer And That Is Why Her Life Is So Irretrievably Fucked Right Now.

If ONLY She Had Gone Down The Aisle So Everyone Could See The Blubbering Mess She Is, ONLY THEN Will She Have Officially Hit Rock Bottom, And Everyone Can See And Only THEN Can God Work His Woo Woo Magic And Fix Everything. Because Apparently There Needs To Be An Element Of Public Humiliation To Restoration.

This is why I have never liked an All Call To Prayer. I’ve seen it done in so many churches. I hate it whenever I see it for this very reason: in order to get “Blessed” the way they’re talking about, you have to publicly admit it. If you can’t walk down the aisle in front of everyone, then you’re not really admitting you have a problem and you don’t get prayer, not really, not the way they’re talking about. They’re always right, you’re always wrong.

Because the church will say:

Um, Amy, you didn’t have to go down the aisle. If that was too public for you, you could’ve grabbed someone off to the side. They even opened two new prayer rooms by the elevator in the lobby

To which I say...We have an elevator in the lobby? Since when!?

No really, to which I say – you could have shuffled everyone off to the sides, and have had nobody standing in front. I bet then you wouldn’t have had six to eight people standing in front of the auditorium with nothing to do. Looks like I’m not the only one who doesn’t wanna publicly admit they need prayer. You have six to eight people wanting to pray staring at a good thirty to forty people in the audience who don’t wanna get up, and don’t wanna leave, what do you think needed to be changed?

It's SO not hard, church. Shuffle everyone off to the sides. Honestly.

You know, before I even got to church yesterday morning, I was in prayer.

But it was more me slumped against the side of my bed, my head resting on my arms resting on the mattress, trying desperately to feel a sense of comfort of some sort, as if I was crying in God’s lap, and as if He was stroking my hair. Kinda like this:

Except God wasn’t there, and neither was a Fairy Godmother. And while A Dream May Be A Wish Your Heart Makes, there’s zero truth to No Matter How Your Heart Keeps Dreaming, If You Keep On Believing, The Dream That You Wish Will Come True.

Because there’s work involved. On both sides. Yours and God’s.

Do you remember what Cinderella’s dialogue is just before the Fairy Godmother shows up and decides the mice and horse and dog are collateral damage in granting Cinderella’s wish to get to the ball?

Cinderella’s sobbing, and she says this:

“It’s just no use...there’s nothing left to believe in. Nothing.”

I’m pretty sure the reason why I’m currently hopeless is because I don’t have a plan.

I don’t do well without plans. I’m a Type A Pisces. I’m dreamy AND organized to a T. There’s not a lot of Type A Pisces out there, which is why you need to treasure us when you find us. We’re extremely rare, we are.

And there is nothing worse than a Type A Pisces Without A Plan. Because we will tell you EXACTLY why our plans have failed in the past, and why it’s kinda silly to make a plan for the future. And then we cry and stare at the sunset for awhile.

I left my job. On my terms. My boss couldn’t make a decision (most men can’t), so I made it for him. Yay for my professional integrity! Boo for the future!

I turned in a new draft of Striped Tiger to my producer! Another producer took Purple Monkey in to a network! None of it matters! Because nothing will come of it! Because nothing has! Been working on both these projects for over five years now! Nothing has changed in the past! Nothing will change in the future!

It’s exactly a year later – I’m working on the same exact projects, I have bounced out of a job I thought I might be hired in, and I’m back to temping. I am in the exact same hamster wheel! Stella and I coined the term last month: Failure To Progress.

I have Failed To Progress. Yaaaaaayyyyyyyyy!

And the church will say:

Um, Amy. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be. Because God couldn’t work with you until you hit rock bottom. Welcome to rock bottom. Now God can do something with you now. And by the way, get your ass down that aisle and fucking pray with the fucking elders at the front of the auditorium. Your fucking pride is meaningless.

Oh really? Really, God, really? Last year wasn’t rock bottom? Because we’ve Failed To Progress, see. How could this year be worse than last year? Why didn’t You act last year? Why would You wait to act this year?

Because I STILL didn’t go down the aisle. I left.

And the second I left the auditorium and hit the sunshine on Hollywood Blvd, I felt worlds better. Maybe I don’t have a plan. But I got away from that strange cesspool of pressure and guilt and stares and that automatically made my day better.

Dear Church: Pressured Prayer Is Meaningless. Please Go Back To The Drawing Board. Feel Free To Ask Me For Suggestions. I’ve Got Nothing But Time.

Love,

Amy The Writer

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Someone's Gonna Be Offended Anyway

I hope I don’t offend anyone with this one, and it’s not that I’m talking about it because I know someone who’s died lately, but this phrase has always bothered me.

“He/She went to be with the Lord.”

It sounds so passive to me. Almost absent minded or belatedly. Like there’s no thought, no effort behind it.

I went to be with the Lord.

I went to heaven.

I went to be with my mom.

I went to Barstow, California.

I went to the grocery store.

I have no plans to die anytime soon, but if/when I do go, please don’t chronicle it that way. I’m gonna throw myself wholeheartedly into the act of passing, I am.

Amy skipped joyfully to meet her Father in heaven, where they’re currently knocking back tequila shots and laughing as the best parts of her life play up on a movie screen in heaven.

Hmmm, still sounds passive.

Amy launched herself at God, and He caught her.

God grabbed Amy’s outstretched hand and yanked her upstairs.

Amy shotputted full tilt into God’s arms and now they’re dancing to Kid Cudi’s “Up Up & Away” Yes, it’s a song about marijuana. It doesn’t matter, because it’s damn catchy. So Amy and God are dancing to it. Flowery meadows and angels with harps might be there too. MIGHT.


I like that one, heh.

This lyrically is sooooooooooooo NSFW (that’s Not Safe For Work, Mom. Meaning it has a few words you’re not gonna like AT ALL.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It’s Not As Dramatic As It Sounds.

Today I gave my boss two weeks notice. I’m walking away from a job that he wants me to stay at. Granted, it’s a job I’m TEMPING at. I wanted him to hire me. He says he hasn’t had enough time to make a reasoned decision. I’ve been there over eight months, how much more time does he need? I told him if I wasn’t hired by the end of the month, I would have to move on.

So I’m moving on.

There no dramaworks with this one, though one could reason I have every right to turn on the tears. For every sign I get that it’s a crummy job market out there, I get another sign that says the jobs are out there, if you have the right connections, the right skills, the right amount of luck. I can honestly say I have not had any luck this year. I’m not saying I’m not blessed, I absolutely am. But I’m enjoying blessings that were given to me last year, the year before, many years before. I’m again thinking God is the benevolent grandparent who shows up once a year to shower me with stuff and then leaves on, I dunno, an around-the-world cruise or something, but He hopped off in Thailand to help stop sex trafficking or something and isn’t gonna be back for a longer than thought while.

Ungrateful brat. Who says God has to bless you every year, huh? Shut up and stop being dramatic. You’ll probably land another temp assignment instantly.


Part of me semi perks up at the thought of going on a new adventure. Who knows what temp assignment I will land next! It could be awesome! It could be amazing!

And yet I’ve done this so many times before, and this year alone has been filled with so many potential opportunities, and none of them blossomed into anything, that there’s no energy to hope for anything. I feel like an anonymous worker bee. I’m here. I work. I write. Repeat ten thousand times.

Interestingly enough, Aarti’s blog from last year has been rattling around my head a lot.

Around this time last year, Aarti was at the end of her rope. A year later, she’s the winner of The Next Food Network Star. That’s a huge life change. Sure, she’ll still have problems and issues, because that’s the way the world works, but her life is officially totally different.

I can’t do what Aarti does, and she worked her ass off to get where she is. I don’t envy her winning, but I do envy how her life has totally changed.

I want a total life change. I leave this job, I go temp again, it will be the same circle again. I work my ass off on my writing. I try, try, try, but I can't seem to affect any kind of change. And there is no urge, no pull, nothing tugging me in one direction or another.

I need an f’ing break is what I need. Heh.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Get In Love

Is it weird if I say that I think my bikini waxer is one of the most interesting people to listen to? Let the wincing begin (in more ways than one!)

She’s a middle aged Russian lady with stylish coiffed blonde hair, working out of a suite of offices in Beverly Hills with very reasonable rates.

Some people say she can come across a bit like a military commander, barking out orders, and if you’re not used to it, I could see how it would be a little off putting “Slide more to me!” “Turn over!” “You done!”

But all I do is ask her questions, just so I can listen to that gloriously thick Russian accent roll off her tongue. I’ve listened to her vent about how she hates clients who are late, how she has people who come up from Orange County who grab the early appointments on a Friday morning because they’re continuing on to Vegas and wanna be poolside ready, and how the Maui poster plastered to the ceiling was something her daughter sent her.

She had closed the office for a few weeks while she went on vacation so when I arrived for my appointment yesterday morning, I wanted to hear all about where she went.

Turns out she had taken one of those two week Viking river cruises that I know more than a few people have done. And she eagerly dug the cruise book out of the drawer and gave to me to page through while she worked.

She went to Paris, Italy, Germany and Prague, among other places, and she was all “Ech” about Paris. It’s not the same anymore as when she was there twenty years ago, I guess it’s too gentrified for her now. Though she didn’t say the word gentrified, she said, “Ech” which, coming from her, rolled up from the back of her throat and swirled around for at least five seconds.

But she loved Prague. LOVED Prague. “Everyone there speak English. English like you, not like me.” She showed me pictures on her Iphone of the architecture, of the flowers, of the farmer’s market, “Nothing frozen there. Everything fresh. Fresh meat, fresh vegetables.”

The wax is cooling on my inner thigh, but I don’t care because it’s a kick to hear her clucking about the churches and cathedrals. She’s trying to express how magnificent they are, how the pictures she took with her Iphone look exactly the same as in the guidebook I’m holding, and she ends up with, “Prague...I get in love.”

She’s trying to say, “I fell in love.” But that’s what came out.

“I get in love.”

I love the imagery that comes from that.

Sure everyone knows “I fell in love.” We all understand what that looks like, being taken off guard, unaware, hey, I was just walking here and I tripped over what I thought was a root in the ground and I fell in love. I wasn’t trying. It just happened.

But.

I get in love.

Like a pool of water. I dipped a toe in. I tested it out. It was alright. Something I could handle. Maybe I thought the water would be too cold. Maybe it’s the hotub at Basil Diva Dog and Ginger Puppy’s house, and I think it’s gonna be too hot.

But it’s fine. So I get in.

I get in love.

I relax in it, I let it swirl around me, I let it lift my body up, I let it support me. I float weightlessness in it. I stare up at the sky and I close my eyes. And I’m transported, if only for a moment, maybe more, maybe less, to something bigger than me.

I’m beginning to think more and more that love is a choice. When you’re younger you’re powerless against the rush of emotions, of hormones, you’re swept away by feelings, you do irrational things in the rush of the moment.

But I don’t think that’s love. I think that’s lust. When you’re young, you don’t know the difference. When you first experience it, you have no idea what it is, but what culture, movies and the songs tell you is that it’s love, so that’s what you think love is.

Now that I’m (slightly) older, I value my time far too much to waste it. I recognize that rush of emotion, the yearning to be swept away and carried off to the land of irrationality can turn on you in an instant and cut you to the bone.

So I think love is a choice. Not tripping. Not falling. Not helpless against it.

You check it. You feel it out. You weigh your options (do I get in the hotub, or do I go watch a movie.) You make the choice to get in it. And then you let yourself be submerged and surrounded in it.

Does that sound too rational? Too guarded? Too coldly dispassionate? The least romantic thing in the world? I don’t know. I’ve never been in love, believe it or not. I’ve been swept away by lust I couldn’t control, and I’ve been cut to the bone. I know every jagged despairing edge of the Slow Fadeout, which is the Modern Man’s Cowardly Goodbye Of Choice.

But one day, it’s going to happen. I’m gonna get in love.

Someday.

Monday, August 09, 2010

If You Fall, I Will Pick You Up

A few years ago, an elderly couple fell in front of my car. I was at the intersection of Wilshire and Fairfax, waiting for the light to change so I could continue east.

The couple was elderly and tentative. I remember thinking that they must not be from around here, since the traffic was scaring them. Who knows what landmark they were trying to get to (The Petersen Auto Museum?), they were cautiously edging their way south on Fairfax, arm in arm, leaning into each other. They weren’t familiar with the timed signals, so by the time the flashing hand stopped flashing and was a red solid GET YOUR ASS ACROSS THE STREET NOW hand, they had only made it halfway across.

They were scared and tried to move faster, though at this point nobody was going to run them over, even when the light turned. But they didn’t know that, their feet shuffled, and whether she tripped on something on the road, or whether she tripped on him, I don’t know.

But the woman went down. In a very dramatic fashion. Turning as she fell to reach back for her husband. It was pretty awful to watch, I can still see the whole thing happening clearly – her arms reaching out to him, him being unable to grab back, unable to stop her, the worst near miss ever.

Amazingly enough, she didn’t hurt herself too badly. Didn’t land straight back, or on her head or anything. Her husband somehow got her up and they trotted the rest of the way to the other side of the street.

The whole thing took five seconds. So fast that I was frozen at the wheel, not able to move. The guy in the car in the right lane beside me got out of his car, but didn’t move further, since the elderly husband already had his wife up and going. There was nothing else for anyone to do, except move forward, because now the light had changed.

So off we all went, and I couldn’t see the elderly couple in my rearview mirror, didn’t know if they stopped at the bus bench to take stock of any injuries, didn’t know if they made it to their destination, though I knew they had made it across. I tried to take comfort in that fact, as opposed to the awful image of her arms reaching out, and him not being able to catch her, and me frozen behind the wheel, not being able to do anything at all.

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Yesterday was the fourth blood drive I hosted at my church. It’s so standard procedure at this point that I didn’t bother taking any pictures. Once again, people thanked me for hosting it, but it’s not something that requires thanks. The Red Cross does all the work, provides all the materials. All I do is browbeat my church into letting us hold it once a year. I don’t even have to browbeat people anymore into signing up, they’re all doing it willingly. For every person that was a no show, there was a walk in.

I finally managed to wiggle in to donate myself in the 2pm hour, and soundly beat the Red Hemoglobin Machine O’ Death with a personal best of 14.7 (12.5 is passing.) The nurse had no problem at all finding a vein, and had no problem getting the needle in the vein, which the staff at Children’s Hospital could take a few tips from, since I’ve been bounced three times there in the past two months when I’ve tried to donate platelets.

I chatted with the nurse while I filled up the bag, and we both sang along to Lady Antelbellum’s “Need You Now” because that’s fun to do while you’re lying on your back with a needle in your arm.

And my iron count is gangbusters. A pint of my blood is now helping other people in the Southern California area, and we collected 28 other usable pints for our fourth blood drive for a total of 29 units.

But that’s not why I think that blood drive happened yesterday.

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I had decided that my reward for a successful blood drive and giving a pint of my own blood would be that I would grab a late lunch at Birds on Franklin Boulevard. I like their Mexican Caesar Shrimp Wraps, and I hadn’t been there in forever. I had sent the Bloodmobile on its merry way at 3:40pm, and I’d have enough time to do a leisurely lunch and be home in time to watch Friend O The Blog Aarti kick some more ass on The Next Food Network Star at 6pm (I get the east coast feed for some reason.)

So I’m walking back up the sidewalk on Wilcox to my car in the parking lot, pretty happy with myself for a successful blood drive, and looking forward to the Mexican Caesar Shrimp Wrap, and I hope parking isn’t a hassle, it should be kinda low key right about now—

And then I hear something. A whump? A thud? A muted cry? I turn around, and about fifty yards away is a woman on her back, her legs and arms flailing in the air, looking to the world like an overstuffed human turtle.

She’s fallen.

I think there were people farther down the street, but they were walking away from her, and after casting a look behind them to see her, kept on going.

But I can’t.

“Are you okay?” I shout to her, as I run back down the sidewalk to her. She’s now sitting up, very shaky. It appears she’s tripped on the uneven sidewalk. She thinks she’s busted her leg. “Do you want me to call 911?” She says no. She’s all shaky from the shock of it all, I guess. One of the arms on her eyeglasses have snapped, and there’s a scratch on the corner of her eye, and her palm is scraped. I tell her I have some tissues in the car, hang on, I’ll run get them.

So I run to the car to grab the emergency tissues for allergies, and come back to her. She’s sitting on the sidewalk, and people are ignoring her completely as they walk around her. She looks as though she COULD be mentally ill, but she’s not, she’s just one of those sorta downtrodden types, with the grey dried out long hair, puffy body, not great complexion, and a green fanny pack strapped around her waist bulging with a bunch of stuff.

So I sit on the sidewalk with her. “I’m Amy.” “I don’t usually meet people like this.” Is her shaky reply. She doesn’t tell me her name. She doesn’t think anything’s broken anymore. We clean up the scraped parts.

“Where were you headed?” I ask. She was going to take the bus to see her husband, who’s holed up at Kindred Hospital, on Slauson. I vaguely know where Slauson is (south of the 10), and it’s in the opposite direction of where my Mexican Caesar Shrimp Wrap is by a good thirty minutes. One way.

But I’m not annoyed, or put upon. As weird as it is, it feels like God is saying you have time to help this person out. And I respond not by saying whhhhhhyyyyyyyyy. But okay. Sure. No problem. Which is not my usual reaction. Whining is my usual reaction.

“Do you need a ride?” I say, “My car’s parked right over there.” She gingerly says okay, and I help her up, and lead her to my car.

Her name, she tells me finally, is Barbara. Her husband’s name is Ben, and a lot of people know them as “The Bs.” They go to a church over in Granada Hills, but ironically, they’ve visited my church on occasion. They really liked one of the pastors, but they haven’t attended as much since he left, and then her husband has had his health woes. He’s been at this hospital for three weeks, has another three weeks to go, and then will be transferred to a physical therapy place for a few more weeks before coming home.

She was gonna take the bus to get to the hospital. The bus takes an hour, and sometimes she has to wait for it for another hour, so by the time she makes it to the hospital, she has enough time to say hi and bye, before taking the bus back home. She visits him five days a week.

Eventually, we turn onto Slauson, and she points out the Kindred Hospital, and I pull up to the entrance. She says thanks, gets out of the car, and goes on her way. I honestly think she may have been more embarrassed about the whole thing than anything else.

I turn the car around and head back up La Cienega. I don’t know that I’ll have time for Birds now. It’s 4:40pm, I don’t have Tivo, and I really don’t wanna miss Aarti, it’s the Iron Chef America challenge for the episode today, really high stakes.

But I’m talking to God, saying Now what? Are we off on another grand adventure? Is this the start of some really weird stuff? Was this whole encounter really as simple as You telling me to get this woman off the sidewalk and give her a ride to her husband’s hospital? That’s all You want? Because, here I am, already in Obedient Mode. I hosted a blood drive. I gave blood. I picked a woman who fell up off the sidewalk and dropped her off at her husband’s hospital. Anything else?

Maybe I’ll have time to stop by Arby’s. I could get cheesesticks. Not quite the same thing as a Mexican Caesar Shrimp Wrap, but still a bit of a reward.

Hey, a reward. Now I start to wonder do I get a reward for being obedient!? Was this a test!? And now that I’ve passed it, something amazing will happen? Like how in the fairy tales, you help someone, they turn out to be a magic fish who grants you three wishes? Or Baucis and Philemon, entertaining strangers who turned out to be Zeus and Hermes, who then saved them in a Greek myth that bears more than a faint resemblance to Noah and the Ark?

While it’s human nature to wish for and hope that I be rewarded for doing good, the truth of the matter, of my life, and what being a Christian is about, is obedience without expecting a reward, or blessings or whatever. Life will simply go on the same way it would have had I not stopped to help. The only thing different is that there’s no huge guilt trip for NOT stopping to help. I didn’t help the elderly couple all those years ago. I helped a woman today. Maybe I’ve erased a cosmic debt I didn’t even know I had.

This life is about obeying and continuing. Obeying and continuing. If it sounds dreary, that is my cynicism creeping in. It’s not been a great year so far.

Another way to look at it is that I treated someone the way I would want to be treated. If I fall down in front of you, you’d BETTER stop and help me. You’d BETTER offer me a ride, because you’re just a dick if you don’t.

When I was telling my co-worker the story today, she stopped me, “You didn’t really let her in your car, did you?” “Of course I did, why wouldn’t I?” “I dunno, the way I was raised, it was never to let a strange person in your car.”

I wanted to say back, “I dunno, the way I was raised, I help someone if they need it.” But that would be snarky and then I see that elderly couple falling on Wilshire and Fairfax, and me frozen behind the wheel and I dunno. Maybe I'll carry that cosmic debt forever. I dunno.

I do manage to make it to Birds after all. And if I only eat half of the Mexican Caesar Shrimp wrap, hassle the waiter to bring me the check in a hurry and take the rest home, I can make it home in time to watch Aarti win her challenge. Hilariously, the secret ingredient she has to work with is shrimp.

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So no, we didn’t have that blood drive so we could collect blood. We didn’t have it so I could beat the hemoglobin machine. And we didn’t have it so I could sing Lady Antebellum with the nurse.

All of that effort was so I could be in the right place at the right time so I could be there when a woman fell, so I could pick her up and drive her to visit her husband in a hospital thirty minutes away.

God can be really weird sometimes.