Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Photo Illustration Featuring Ginger Puppy

So I totally understand if some of you who are friends with me don’t wanna be friends with me right now. Because bad things are happening to my friends all over the place.

Seriously. Cancer diagnoses, aneurysms in heart walls, job stress, financial stress, car stress, losing jobs, seeking counseling for stress matters, being sick for the past couple of months, yeah, months, not weeks. This is what’s going on with all of you. Not me. Nothing’s wrong with me. Which makes me feel just awful.

Like if there was one of those double bladed ax things above all our heads going back and forth, and I was the only one who successfully ducked each time, so the blade picked off one of you instead, whereas if I only had taken the blow that one time, I could’ve saved one of you. I totally would’ve done it, had I known that was the metaphor we were all in.

This bad news is extending not just to my human friends, but my four legged ones as well.

Behold Ginger Puppy, in all her misery. She had surgery on a torn tendon last week. She knows EXACTLY how ridiculous she looks. The shaved leg, the inflatable blue collar to keep her from chewing out her stitches.

At least it’s not this collar: This is the Collar Of Shame, which is what she has to wear when I wasn’t at home this weekend. She hates this collar a lot. It prevents her from going inside her crate, from drinking out of her water bowl, and from getting close to me when I come home. Because the Collar of Shame hits my leg first. Bonk. Bonk. Bonk.

She’s not allowed to go up and down stairs, and of course, that’s all this housesitting house is! Lots and lots of stairs! Which means I’ve been carrying her everywhere, all weekend long. She’s really heavy, folks. You’ll see it in a second.

(Basil Diva Dog, meanwhile, has been doing his own thing, and paying a good Never You Mind on us both. I think he’s secretly laughing at Ginger Puppy, he’s never liked her, not really.)

And I was thinking, there has to be an awesome metaphor to this. Like a really awesome religious metaphor. I haven’t churned out any burning insight in quite some time, and here is this poor poor pooch with the chicken looking hindleg and can’t I figure something out to justify this weekend and Ginger Puppy’s unspoken pain? Can’t I turn Ginger Puppy’s Unspoken Pain and Baleful Glances Into Religious Metaphor GOLD!? CAN’T I, PEOPLE!? CAN’T I!?

Well, I couldn’t. Not until I went to church today, and right in the middle of the sermon on 1 Peter, did it hit me: Idiot. It’s not about you. It’s about everyone else.

I don’t have pain. I don’t have suffering. Whatever stress I have is more of an Eeyore Mumbling well. That sucks. Oh well. Other people have it much worse than I do. Guess I’ll go eat some thistles now.

So while I don’t mean to mitigate anyone’s pain, here’s a hopefully charming and humorous photo journey into What God Does For You. I will be playing the role of God (HA! That never happens!) Ginger Puppy is playing the role of All Of You. (Special thanks to Meriwether, who did most of the work behind the camera.)

This is you. You are in pain. You are in pain and nobody knows it, chiefly because you happen to be lying on your recently operated leg. You are also blind, no, sorry. Your hair is in your face, and that’s how you grew up, so you don’t even know the difference at this point. Sometimes you see, sometimes you don’t, you get along with the world just fine.

And you are alone. Nobody’s in the room with you, and if only you had opposable thumbs, you’d work that Macbook sitting behind you and email some peeps to come keep you company. But…no. No you wouldn’t, because you’re in pain and you’re alone and you think that God has abandoned you. A cruel God who placed you in a house full of stairs, with an aloof older brother who’s laughing at you from upstairs, and this blue inflatable collar that you have to wear to keep you from gnawing at your sin NO, your stitches. Those creepy creepy stitches (that were soooooo creepy I took a picture of them and promptly deleted it because they were just too creepy to post on a blog.)

Life sucks, you’re a dog, your hair is in your face, you’re alone, and you itch.

Except. You’re not alone. You’ve got God.

Whatever with God you think. God doesn’t do shit for me. God put me in this awful house of stairs. God made my tendon tear. It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t do anything except be a dog. I’m SUPPOSED to be a dog. I was being myself. I didn’t deserve a torn tendon.

You’re right. You didn’t deserve a torn tendon. You don’t deserve an aloof older brother laughing at you from upstairs, and a blue inflatable collar that causes your snoring to increase triplefold in volume. And that’s the GOOD collar. We shall not speak of the Collar Of Shame.

But you do have God.

God will pick you and your shaved chickenleg up. God will not mock your left foot tuff, and will wonder along with you why the vet decided to shave everything BUT that. It does look kinda silly. But God just smiles at you and picks you up anyway. Oh, and you’re still blind because your hair is still in your face. But God just smiles at you and picks you up anyway. Because God loves you and your silly tuffed foot, and your blue inflatable collar, and the scary stitches that we can’t show on this blog.

You are wounded. Literally, you’ve got a big huge gaping scar that you’re not gonna show anyone, because people would think it’s gross, and would then think you and your huge gaping scar is gross, and why would you wanna gross people out by showing them your big huge gaping scar, and who wants to be that vulnerable, anyway, right?

God still loves you and your big huge gaping scar. Your big huge gaping scar does not scare off God. He sure winces on your behalf, because WOW, it looks really painful. But God picks you up anyway. Not because He has to. Yes, He’s in charge of you, He’s responsible for your care. But because He loves you. You belong to Him. He will take care of you. He will pick you up.

(and yes, you better believe you are heavy. And yes, you better believe carrying you and your chickenleg, and your silly tuffed foot, and your big huge gaping scar, and your blue inflatable collar up and down multiple stairs from Thursday to Monday is exhausting work, which is why God is currently relaxing with a mojito while you snore next to His office chair. And this is where we also point out God’s awesome awesome biceps. It’s not just where the shadow hit it. It’s really that awesome. All those bootcamp classes at the gym are paying off! WOOT!)

God will pick you up and carry you. Sure, you THINK you can make it on your own, and yeah, you probably could, but if God left you to your own devices, you’d be tearing all over this backyard, and you’d injure yourself in ways you didn’t even think possible. I bet you’re not thinking about a faceplant into the pool, with your inflatable collar barely keeping you above water, or a bloody chickenleg, or choking on surgical stitches, are you? God is. God is and he does NOT want that for you, you poor little hair in your face pooch, you.

God will pick you up and carry you. Up and down the stairs. ALL WEEKEND LONG. God and God’s awesome biceps will carry you through the bushes to your special pee spot beneath that one tree in the backyard. You won’t go anywhere else. You like peeing there. And God knows you like your special pee spot, and will carry you to it again and again. ALL WEEKEND LONG. Because that’s what God does. God picks you up, and carries you even when you think you can get there on your own, because if you did try to get there on your own, you’d hurt yourself worse. So God will carry you.

(God will even give you your privacy. Once He’s taken a picture. Of course.)

God loves you, poor little Ginger Puppy. You only have a dim understanding of what’s going on, all you know is pain, ache, itch, and why can’t I do this by MYSELF already, and WHAT’S WITH THE HAIR!? THE HAIR IN MY EYES!? WHY DOES IT JUST HANG THERE! SOMEBODY CUT IT ALREADY!

But God know a bit more than you. And while He can’t make you understand all the ins and outs of canine healing or owner grooming whims, He can carry you. You are heavy. You look silly. And your breath isn’t the greatest. But He will carry you.

He will even hold your paw, the front one they shaved for the morphine patch, while you both sit in the media room watching Sherlock Holmes on Blu-Ray. Okay, God’s watching the movie, and you’re snoring away, because you can’t understand Robert Downey Jr. in a British accent, and since you’re a dog, you can’t read the subtitles when God turns them on. But there are times when you just want someone to hold your paw. And so God does that.

God didn’t have the camera for that one. But He (SHE) was there. Holding your paw. Because God loves you. He really really does.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What If

I read Don Miller’s blog occasionally and have heard him speak when he swings through Los Angeles (the one church retreat I missed in 2008 due to being burned out on retreats was the one where he was the guest speaker. I still have the podcasts he did on my Itunes, though I have yet to listen to them.)

This blog post of his poses the “What If” challenge to you, to me, to everyone reading, which now includes you.

“God gives life to you to live, and you can either tell meaningful stories or boring stories. We can’t wait around anymore for God to make something happen in our lives, meanwhile we shop at Bed Bath and Beyond. The truth is, God gives you wisdom and direction and morality and His presence and support, and then asks you to live, to conquer, to risk and experience the whole of life. People grow when they are in motion.”

Not that I think I’m on par with Don Miller, a dude who’s much smarter and more well spoken than me (I don’t even think that sentence is grammatically correct) but this is something I had challenged myself to do at the start of 2010 – have one big adventure a month. If I was going by Don Miller’s challenge, it would look like this:

January 2010 – What If I Wrangled An Invite To The Magic Castle?

February 2010 – What If I Got A Group Together To Go To The Snoopyologist Brunch?

March 2010 – What If I Worked As A Stand In For A Particular Awards Ceremony?

I’ve been having a great time with this, and have already alerted friends to future monthly adventures (one of which I’m super excited about as it will involve my friend’s plane and a tequila bar in San Francisco.)

Now true, most of my adventures are not necessarily spiritual in nature. If you look at the people leaving comments on Don’s blog entry, they’re doing things like running marathons, or fundraising for noble causes, or going on missions to Africa. They are all beautiful people who aren’t as cranky as me, don’t mud wrestle with God as much as I do, and probably don’t drop the F bomb as I do. But that’s why variety is important. ☺

This past week, I realized that April was gonna be over pretty soon, and I hadn’t lined up a big What If Adventure for the month. There was the possibility of running a Los Angeles based Amazing Race, but I couldn’t get a team together fast enough, and that might be something we do later on in the year.

But I stumbled upon an opportunity that I hadn’t even thought about. Because this is the kind of opportunity that you are seriously doomed if you try to create it. This kind of opportunity can really only happen organically.

April 2010 – What If I’m The Only White Girl On The Dance Floor?

Friday night was a co-worker’s birthday party. My department had had a pretty shitty week, with firings and arguments and lies and blah blah blah. I was ready to blow off some steam, and I still had my dance jones on from the new music I had discovered earlier in the week.

So I get to the club in downtown L.A., and I’m pretty sure that I’ll be in the Whitey Minority, but I gotta dance, and I’m pissed off about work, so I’m pretty fearless at this point.

I wait in line for a bit, finally make it in, find my co-worker and her friends and say hi. I chat here and there, meet new people, drink Patron, but what I’m really waiting for is for the Birthday Gal to say “Let’s go dance!” Which she finally does.

Though there are a few pale faces sitting at tables on the patio, there are zero Caucasians on the dance floor. And I don’t give a shit.

You know what’s awesome about being the only white girl on the dance floor? Nobody’s looking at you. Seriously. My co-worker is beautiful, and her mocha colored skin would turn heads in any club from here to Hollywood. But nobody’s looking at me getting my groove on.

All the times I’ve wanted to be anonymous on a dance floor, because I’m not dancing to get attention, I’m not dancing as a potential mating call, I’m dancing because I love to dance, and here I am, on an overstuffed dance floor, not recognizing any of the hip hop songs playing, and I’m having the time of my life.

I’m laughing with my co-worker and her friends, we’re saving each other when guys try to dance with us, we’re cringing when couples get explicit on the dance floor (if my co-worker hadn’t pulled me away in time, I would’ve been impaled by a stiletto wrapped around some dude’s shoulder.) We’re all in the moment with the rhythm and the beat and lost in the music, and it doesn’t matter what color any of us are. I don’t know if I could ever find another dance floor that could compare with this.

But okay! Let’s try and come up with something slightly more spiritual!

Here is my backyard. It’s basically Griffith Park. I’ve been trying to adapt to a routine of hiking on Sundays, and I’ve had limited success.

But today I looked at the backyard and thought What If I Hiked Up To That Tree Waaaaaaaaaaay Up There?

April 2010 - What If I Hiked Up To That Tree Waaaaaaaaaaay Up There?

Part of the reason I wanna incorporate hiking into my Sunday routine is that I feel like it’s an Automatic God Experience. How can you not encounter God somewhere along the way when you’re chugging around in Nature, right? God made trees and flowers, and the trail and the canyon and la la laaaaaaaa.

Check it out, it’s an Instant Metaphor! What’s Around The Bend? God knows, ho ho ho. Trust Him, Ye Who Mud Wrestles With The Almighty, And You Shall Discover Ummmmm…Sacred Secrets (or something like that.)

What I discovered is that though I could see the tree clearly from my backyard, I lost it once I got up there.

And that once I got to what I thought was the top, the trail would keep going, beckoning me further. Keep going! There’s a cooler view over here! Look at how high up those people are! You wanna get over there, you know you do! C’mon, keep going!

And then when I did reach that point, there was ANOTHER peak with the Hollywood sign that seemed just as high, if I wanted to keep going.

But it had been about an hour already, and that was just getting here. I still have to hike back home.

So I took a picture of what my house looked like from the top (lest you think that I’ve finally hit the big time, keep in mind I don’t live in the main house, I live in the Shabby Shack on the other side of the garage) and headed back down.

So if I learned anything, maybe it’s that Always Leave With Something Else To Look Forward To. There’s probably a better way to phrase that one. I bet Don Miller would know.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Join Amy’s Dance Party

I’m not getting any writing done at the Shabby Shack, I’m dancing to these songs. I love grooving around, I gotta go find a club to get my groove on again

When it rains great music, it pours. The hilarious part is that a lot of these songs are already old, but I’m just now figuring them out.

(You don't have to watch the videos, it's the music that's important than the visuals.)

This one I heard from the DJ who plays outside our church on Sunday mornings. That’s right. We’ve got a DJ now. He’s playing some awesome stuff.

He also played a band called Paper Route. I thought the song he was playing was interesting, but not as awesome as this song, which I found when I went home to look ‘em up. I'm SO in love with this song right now.

My awesome friend Fauna runs her own music site,, and she’s got the best taste in music. She featured this song last week, which sounds exactly like the type of song that would play over the credits of a movie I’d write, where the lead character has just made a huge life changing decision and is going off into the horizon to make it happen.

Awright, awright, you guys stay and listen to this stuff. I gotta get back to rewriting.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Grant Us Peace

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, this post was supposed to go up last night, and I crashed from a monster Easter sugar bender, I’m sorry sorry.

I wonder if maybe I should go back to posting on Monday nights. Maybe that would work better? Hmmmm.

My good friend Flora has been battling cancer. She’s younger than most people who battle it, and it took us all by surprise. Two months ago, it wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Last week, she went in for surgery, chemo and radiation to follow. She made it through like a champ, and is now back home resting.

Merriweather had a great idea that we should upload some of our favorite positive songs and create a kind of mix CD for her. And I’m going through my collection and thinking um, wow. Would I call this positive? I mean, I think songs like Halloween, Alaska’s “Drowned” are sonically uplifting to me. But then I look at the lyrics and think “Confidence and the crosswalk, not the cross. Not the dove” may not be what she needs right now.

But then I remembered Toad The Wet Sprocket’s “Pray Your Gods.” At first blush, the lyrics may not be exceedingly helpful: “i feel my body weakened by the years, as people turn to gods of cruel design, is it that they fear the pain of death, or could it be they fear the joy of life”

But I never listen to the whole song anyway, I just skip to the end, here ya go, start at 2:53 on the counter:

It's where they sing a phrase in a beautiful round. It’s a beautiful piece of harmony and melody, powerful and poignant all in its own way. It’s haunting and inspiring, the kind of music that you make life changing decisions to.

And as I was uploading that part of the song for Flora, it occurred to me that I never knew exactly what they were singing at the end, and maybe I should check it out first because for all I know it could mean “Eat the bullet now.”

So I googled it. Turns out they’re singing “Dona nobis pacem”

Which is Latin for grant us peace.


Thank You God, thank You. Thank You God, thank You.