Friday, December 20, 2013

With The Week I'm Having...

It's hard to get a blog post out on time.  Check back next week.  Sorry.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Animals In The Bible #2 - The Dove

The Bible appears to be bipolar about doves.

We get our best known glimpse of them very early on the Bible, when Noah sends a dove out in Genesis Chapter 8 to see if the waters that had previous flooded the earth had receded at all, and is there land for us to get off this ark because all these animals are kinda stinky.
(side note, before Noah sends the dove out in verse 8, Noah sends a raven out.  And the raven comes back with nothing.  Yet the dove ALSO comes back with nothing on the first attempt, and brings back the olive branch on the second try.  Which begs the question, why didn't the raven get a second try?  Why was the raven immediately benched?  Because the dove is prettier?)
(Second side note, the third time Noah sends the dove out, the dove never comes back.  Noah takes this as a sign that there must be dry land that the dove landed on, but I dunno why Noah didn't just follow the dove so he knew where the dry land was.  Maybe the dove also was annoyed, "Yo, I brought you back an olive branch!  Why are you making me go back out!  What do ya want, the whole damn tree!  Well, thanks, Mr. Ungrateful, I'm high tailing it off this smelly ark once and for all!")
Doves and Pigeons are part of the same bird family, did you know that? They make up the bird family Columbidae.  So they can effectively be considered siblings, and yet pigeons are usually held in lower esteem.  Doves are generally thought of as white, and gracious in flight and a symbol of peace.  Pigeons have the bad rap of being disease carriers, and messing up things in New York City, and their biggest cheerleader is Bert the Muppet naming a dance move after them. 

Doves definitely win the award here.

Which, in the Old Testament, means doves are preferable as a temple sacrifice over pigeons (insert a million snickering pigeons).  Leviticus offers a bunch of instructions for burnt offerings to the Lord, and they always mention doves before pigeons.
In Luke 2:24, Mary and Joseph are going to the temple to present Jesus for the purification rites offer either two turtle doves, or two pigeons, it doesn't say which, leading to a gang war between doves and pigeons that exist to this very day (not really, but kinda funny to think about.)
Yet in Song of Solomon, otherwise known as The Book In The Bible That Mentions BOOBS! Doves are used as similes and metaphors in flattering descriptions of the woman's eyes and the woman herself.
Later in the New Testament, doves are used as similes and metaphors to describe the presence of the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus (Luke 3:22, John 1:32)

I think what the Bible tries to say that doves are pretty enough to be used as a compliment, and Old Testament temple sacrifices demanded the sacrifice of something pretty and innocent to demonstrate how weird the Old Testament God was, and better a dove than your beautiful girlfriend.  I mean, I GUESS that makes sense, for Biblical times.  But there’s a million doves (and probably pigeons) that would violently disagree with that.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Animals In The Bible #1 - SNAKE! AHHHHHHHHHH!

I don't like snakes.  I really don't.  I don't know what it is, because I've never been bit by one, I've spent less than a minute and a half in the company of one, and they were behind glass at a zoo, but it's the one thing that freaks me out the fastest.  More so than liars, more so than an unbalanced checkbook, more so than the color yellow on clothes.

(Now that those of you who know me in real life know my greatest fear, should we ever have a falling out, you know how to get revenge.  I should've said Ryan Gosling freaks me out.  Ryan Gosling pouring a tequila shot, and giving me a backrub freaks me out.  TOTALLY.)

So to inaugurate our last GIPIAN series of the year "Animals Of The Bible," lets start it off with the one thing I hate most - snakes!  I will try to counter every picture of a snake with a nice one of Ryan Gosling, so I won't have the worst dreams ever tonight.

Arguably the most famous snake is ye old trickster serpent slithering around Genesis 3.  He's a serpent, not a snake.  Go ahead, look it up.  Nowhere in the story of Adam and Eve does it say "snake."  It says "serpent."  

And if you’re like me, you may think that snakes didn’t exist until God went on His cursing tear after discovering Adam and Eve disobeyed. Because He says this to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” (Genesis 3:14)  So a serpent who has to crawl on his belly sure sounds like a snake to me, right?  And maybe this would be the birth of snakes, and that means the snake is officially the last animal in the Bible created, and he must be the youngest, and isn’t it just LIKE your youngest child to be your biggest disappointment and la la laaaaaaa.

However you would be wrong!  Because saying “crawl on your belly,” was another way to say “your downfall is certain.”  A similar phrase is used in Micah 7:17.

So why is it whenever you see the serpent depicted, it’s commonly as a snake, such as Wolfgang Krodel’s “Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden”?  Possibly because snakes are, gulp, prettier looking than your average Gila monster.  

Then again, there’s plenty of paintings where the serpent has a human face on it, hi Michelangelo and “Fall and Expulsion from Paradise “ and THAT’s disturbing, so sleep welllllllllllll.

Moving on!

Snakes showed up in the face-off between Moses, Aaron and Pharaoh’s priests, when they do the literal throw-down of the staffs turning into snakes in Exodus 7.

Snakes also showed up on the Israelites' trek to the Promised Land in Numbers 21 - snakes bit and killed a bunch of Israelites on the road from Mount Hor to the Red Sea.  The Israelites that were left asked Moses for help, who then crafted a bronze snake to put on a pole so that everyone who looked on the Bronze Snake would live.  And if you're like me, you may think "Hey, I thought one of the Ten Commandments was that you should have no idols before me." Ding ding, ding, you are correct, because in 2 Kings 18, that Bronze Snake is destroyed by King Hezekiah of Judah, one of the good kings.  

After that, snakes are mostly used as metaphors in Psalms 58:4, Proverbs 23:32, 30:9,  Ecclesiastes 10, and many others.

In the New Testament, Jesus says in Matthew 10:16 that "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.  Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."  So Jesus, at one time, wanted his disciples to be wise/cunning/wary/depending on your translation as snakes.

But just a few chapters later in Matthew 23:33, he's warning against the teachers of the Law and the Philistines, saying "You snakes!  You brood of vipers!  How will you escape being condemned to hell?" So be wise/cunning/wary as a snake, but don’t BE a snake.

Paul also gets into the act in Acts 28, when a viper bites him as he's trying to build a fire on the island of Malta.  Verse 5 and 6 tell us "But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god."

And then there’s the good old Confuse EVERYBODY, Why Don’tcha verses of Mark 16: 9 -20.  (The usual disclaimers about how this section may or may not belong in the Bible apply.)

The beginning of Mark 16:18 says “They will pick up snakes with their hands and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all.” This is supposed to be Jesus’ promise to his followers that they would be protected from whatever evils might befall them as they went out into the world (hopefully as wise/cunning/wary as snakes).

Some Pentecostals have taken this literally, and snake handling is practiced with varying degrees of success in a small number (and getting smaller all the time) of churches in the U.S. And if you’re like me and think, “There is no way in HELL I would ever do that,” then you and I can grab tequila shots while discussing Ryan Gosling any old time.  :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I'm Not Gonna Ask You To Do Anything Weird (But It's Totally Weird)

My church has been in its new location for roughly five months or so, and we had a new pastor doing the sermon, who pulled something out of the Annoying Hat.

Actually, since it was an associate pastor giving a sermon for the first time in front of this congregation, maybe it’s par for the course.  Maybe all newbie pastors everywhere think this is a Really Great Idea, or maybe seminary school tells them that this is a Really Great Idea, and that if we’re lacking in some way, you should really do this Really Great Idea and stand back and watch the God fireworks BLOW UP.

The Really Great Idea Is This – towards the end of your sermon, single out the people who need prayer in a Slightly Awkward way.  Informally known as an “All Call To Prayer.”

Most commonly, the All Call has the pastor call people who need prayer down to the front of the congregation, usually at the end of the sermon, before the music plays.  Other versions of this include the All Call at the very end of service, so that the people who need prayer go forward, and the people who don’t need prayer or wanna go to brunch turn around and exit.  At our old location, they had people go to the sides, which is slightly more private, but depending on your interior layout, blocking major exit lanes.

Normally, our All Call is done at the very end of our service.  Maybe there’s been discussion about numbers, and how people aren’t taking advantage of the All Call and how can we get prayer for them?  I don’t know, I’m just spitballing possibilities.  Because for the life of me, I cannot understand why this particular way of All Call was allowed to happen.

The sermon topic was on prayer, the good old Persistent Widow and The Judge, and the associate pastor giving his first sermon to us in the 9:00 am service phrased his All Call by saying maybe there’s some of us today who’ve been praying for something for years and nobody knows about it and “you just need to let other people what you’ve been praying.” 

Great!  Everyone take out their smartphones and start emailing!  Hot Diggity!  No!

Associate Pastor goes on to list a few examples of what that something might be. Maybe there’s a family member or friend who has cancer and you prayed for their healing and it didn’t happen.  Maybe you’re struggling with infertility issues.  Maybe you feel alone.

And with each example, he asks us to stand up.

Stand up if you had a family member who died of cancer and you prayed for their healing and it didn’t happen and you think God didn’t answer your prayer.

Stand up if you’re trying to have a family and nothing’s working and you feel like God didn’t answer your prayer.

Stand Up If You Feel Alone.

Wha-HUH?!  Seriously?  What in the world is happening here?

Needless to say, less than ten people stand up (to be fair, I couldn’t see the balcony from where I was, maybe the whole balcony stood). Less than ten people want to admit their family member died of cancer, or they have infertility issues, among other things.

I am gobsmacked.  If the associate pastor thinks this is a Really Great Idea, he is Really Really Mistaken.

If these people need prayer, why are you asking them to be public about it?  If they fall in line with your scenarios, and are hurting, grieving, confused, scared, why are you making them stand up in a public arena? They don’t need publicity, they need privacy.  I’m hurting, grieving, confused, scared, let’s go ahead and add EMBARRASSED on top of it.

He asks the prayer team to go to the people standing up, and pray with them, but it is SO so strange, and SO so weird.

Later I go to the online archive on the church’s website, where they normally put up the 11:00am service, I’m slightly relieved to see that the associate pastor changed his methods slightly.  This time, he had everyone stand up, and then asked the people who needed prayer to raise their hands.  “I’m not going to ask you to do anything weird,” nope, he just wants to single you out.  That’s not weird at all.

Is it weird to think privacy is important here?  Is it weird that this type of All Call carries an undercurrent of If You’re Not Willing To Take A Risk And Admit You Need Prayer, You Might Not Get It?  Because that’s what it feels like.  Raise your hand! Admit you need prayer! Go public with your need! What if I don’t want to? Then… who knows. You might never!

This kind of thing happens every two years or so.  In fact, it happened at this church at our old location in 2011.  That was also a new pastor.  It also didn’t go well.  You think they would learn.  Nah, this time will be different!  Raise your hand for prayer!  C’mon, do it!

Yeah… um… no thanks.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Proverbial Foot In Mouth

So I can put my proverbial foot in my mouth just as much as the next person. It happened just last Sunday at church, as a matter of fact.

My church tends to front load their songs at the beginning of the service, so they'll sing four or five there, and two or one at the end.

I personally feel like this is way too much singing.  The songs themselves repeat a bunch, and by the time I get to the last song, I am done.  Just done.  Done, done, donsie.

So I've started timing it to where I get to church right around the last song before the message. I can sing one song, no problem.  I enjoy it more when it's one song.

Last week, when I was walking across the parking lot, a friend called out to me, so I headed over to talk.  He noted that I was coming in a bit late, and I explained how I try to time it so I miss most of the songs, because "I think we sing too much."  He smiles and says, "I don't think we sing enough," and then I remember that he plays guitar and was probably playing lead guitar today, which he does confirm.  

Hello proverbial foot, say hi to my mouth again.

I smile and say I’m sure he rocked, since I've heard him play on other occasions, and more small talk and then I'm off to hear the message.

And I was slightly bashful and ashamed.  Because the guy automatically wins all the Holy Points.  Not just because he was playing lead guitar in a church, but because he thinks we should sing MORE.  Because he's THAT awesomely Christian.  If we sang for two hours, he MIGHT be satisfied.

And over in my corner, I think we sing too much, I time it to where I miss the bulk of the songs, the only thing I had going for me was that I was honest about it, and not making up some kind of horseshit about how I couldn't find parking (I couldn't, but then I did.)

So my friend wins the Holiest Game (even though he wasn't playing it) and I'm an asshole.

So I felt bad, kinda.  Sorta.  But then I thought, you know what?  I'm done.  I'm just done.  Done, done, donsie.

If I think we sing too much, I think we sing too much.  I'm gonna OWN it. I'll be happy to start timing it, to see how many verses we have, how many times we repeat the chorus.  I'll figure out exactly when my tolerance level is hitting the breaking point.

Because this is me.  I'm not trying to rabble rouse, and petition the pastor, or the elder council or whoever to change things around for me. I will work around them. This is my opinion.  I don't give a shit how unholy or how unChristian it sounds.  God knows all of this about me, and never once in my Christian life has He changed to my heart to where I felt we needed to sing more.

I don’t think we need to sing more.  I will continue to miss as many songs as I'm comfortable with.  Should I find myself in conversation with someone who says we need to sing more songs, I will smile and say, “Isn’t it cool we disagree?” I’m not going to nod in assent. I’m also not going to make anyone feel bad.  Including myself. I refuse to be embarrassed anymore. 

And I think God loves me anyway.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

It's Been A Year

It was this day last year that my dad died. The Southern way would be to say, "He went to be with the Lord," but I've already done a blog entry on the whole "went to be with the Lord" nonsense and the passivity of it all...

I did a blog about the immediate aftermath of my dad's death/passing, and I've done blogs since about the moments that show up where I miss him deeply.

So the actual one year anniversary comes around and I find myself without any new emotions to attach to the date. My emotions, when they show up, rarely are on a logical calendar (the exception being frustration, which I don't think is an emotion, but runs alongside most of my days like my own personal racetrack rabbit) , so I wouldn't be surprised if we get to some random Arbor Day calendar day and WHAM, I'm berefit.

As it happened, circumstances put me back in Huntsville last weekend for a brief visit. And I suggested to Mom, the Former Phone Harpy That Needs A New Nickname that we should visit Dad's gravesite, as I hadn't seen the headstone yet.

So we drive to Maple Hill Cemetery, established in 1822, home to 5 former governors, 5 former United State senators, something like 80,000 souls, and now my dad.

My parents, ever the pragmatic ones, bought the plot way back in the 1980s, when the cemetery sales rep did a sweep and practically signed up the entire block. You might think that's ghoulish, and yet, depending on the website you're on, the cemetery's sold out, or not sold out, but only has room for cremation. So who's laughing now, right?

I remember the weather last year as being somewhat grey. There were bursts of color here and there, but I remember it being overall damp and muted.

But this year was crisp. Crisp and glorious. We're driving through the cemetery with its narrow roads, past history and headstones and memories.

If you go to grade school in Huntsville, you are guaranteed at least one or two class field trips where you traipse through the cemetery and make charcoal rubbings of headstones, marveling between what's showing up on your paper, your pitch black fingers that you better not rub on your clothes or your mom's gonna be MAD, and the fact that you're standing on someone's grave in broad daylight and it's totally cool.

Mom knew the general area where Dad's grave is, so we parked, and went hunting, offering apologies to the graves we were passing by, or accidentally stepping on.

And I finally found it.  It's a little sparse with the grass, which is why I think it's red flagged.  "We paid for the upkeep," Mom groused, and I assured her that I think they're getting to it.

But Dad's current scraggly site (that I am sure they're going to get to soon) aside, my GOD. This is the prettiest place in the world to be buried.  I mean, just look at this view:

Picture perfect blue sky. White fluffy clouds. Glorious fall colors, the likes of which the trees in Los Angeles never turn.  Are you kidding me?

When it's my time to finally bid adieu and finally join God on the couch with TV and tequila, I'm getting cremated and somebody's gonna throw my ashes in the Pacific ocean at sunset (and thank you in advance to whoever has to do that.  I solemnly vow that I will do my best to somehow reach through the afterlife to make that particular day easy for you.)

But if you prefer to be buried, Maple Hill truly is a wonder. As a family friend mentioned later that night at a swanky soiree, local legend has it that there was a prominent businessman who visited Huntsville to determine whether he should move his business to town.  He took one look at the cemetery and made up his mind for pro-Huntsville, as "anyone who takes care of their dead like this, must take care of their people."

I'm sure that statement could be debated a million different ways.  But then I look at this picture... and I don't care.

I'm not sure that Dad would've cared either.  He's currently sitting on the couch with God with his drink of choice (Bloody Mary or Black Velvet Whiskey), watching me, my mom and my sister continue through life.  He's got opinions, sure he does. But he's not in pain.  He's happy.  And he's laughing at the trees and their colors.

And I am happy that he's happy.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Some Days...

You're just too exhausted to come up with a blog post.

Check back next week. :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Three Resources You Have

So I've been getting a lot of wrong number calls lately, some people think my phone number belongs to a guy named Daniel.  Unclear if Daniel deliberately gave a wrong number to avoid detection, or wasn't really paying attention when he was filling out a form for more information on continuing education.

But these calls have been fairly consistent for the past week, no matter how many times I tell them that there is no Daniel at this number.  If I was a meaner person, I would start deliberately messing with them, "Can I ask who's calling?  Can you tell me why you keep calling me even though I've told you three times there is no Daniel at this number?  When you say Daniel, do you mean Damien?  Is Daniel a code word?  ARE YOU REALLY TRYING TO REACH THE DEVIL?  HE'S NOT HERE!  HE DOESN'T USE PHONES!

And so it was that I was slightly freer than normal this morning when the call came through (from a number I can't call back, of course.)  But this time, it wasn't someone calling for Daniel.  Or even for me.  It was a pre-recording, and it was a woman's voice saying this:

"Never forget the three resources you have: Power,  Prayer,  Forgive."

Oooooooh, there's so many questions I wanna ask now!!!

- Who made the recording?

- How do they choose the numbers to call?

- What is their purpose? Why just hang up after saying the one sentence?  Suppose I don't know how to use the three resources I have?!  Suppose I need guidance?!  You didn't even mention reading my Bible every day!  How do I exploit the three resources I have?

- HEY!  What if this call was meant for Daniel?!  Daniel just totally missed out on a very important call because he wasn't paying attention when he filled out some form!  Now he'll never know he's got three resources of Power, Prayer and Forgive!  And that doesn't even make sense from a language perspective!  Two are nouns and one is a verb!

Man, just when you REALLY wanna talk to some cold caller.  Oh well.  It was at least a giggle.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Maybe We All Need Leashes

So I've been dogsitting two little moppets this week.  And they are adorable and fluffy and all sorts of fun, as well as sporting all sorts of fur.  The fur has been flying fast and furious around here.

And I walk them early in the morning, once around the block, just so they can feel like they've got a handle on things in the neighborhood.  And because they're mutts and have a bit of the stubborn streak about them, it turns out we have different ideas about which way to go.

I prefer the forward route, the one that gets us home the quickest.  They prefer the Stop And Sniff Everything, Hey Wait There's Some Kind Of Something Over There That Must Be Investigated Right NOW route.  So there's a lot of this going on.

Sometimes I think it must be easy to be a dog. You have everything provided for you (though eating kibble day after day after day probably gets old.) Someone else is making about 70 to 80 percent of the Big Important Decisions for you (When do you get food?  When do you get to go outside? When do you get a tummy rub?) Yes, you are on a leash, but at least there's someone on the other end of the leash, a lovely person like myself.  And that person will lead you, so you always know where you're going.  Even if you don't initially want to go that route, the person holding your leash knows what's best, and why that is the best way to go.

But what about people and God?  We're not on a leash, thanks to the whole free will thing. So if we're lunging off in a possibly Not Good direction, we don't have a leash to stop us.

A Happy Chipper Christian might do the dog pull thing - God, I REALLY wanna go over there and check that thing out.  But I wanna huddle with you, first.  Do you want me to do that?  Do you want me to have this job?  Do you want me to date ANYONE? Do you want me to sell a script?  Do you want me to move to a bigger place?  WHY NOT!?  WHY DON'T YOU WANT FOR ME WHAT I WANT FOR ME!  LUNGE!  LUNGE!  LUNGE TOWARDS THE THING I CANNOT HAVE!

If there's no leash to stop us, and if we want it bad enough, we'll dive for it, sure we will.  But then the elusive Squirrel As Metaphor For Thing You Want scampers up a tree and you are quite put out, and you come trotting back to God God, can you please get that squirrel for me?  Because I really really want it.  Why don't you want it for me?

I'm a big fan of free will, but sometimes, I think we all could use the leash at times.  It would certainly save a lot of time. Says me.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

What Happens If I Forget To Pray For My Prayer Group

So I have a monthly prayer group, where we meet once a month to collectively give thanks to God, praise Him for what He's doing in our lives (even if it doesn't look like He's doing anything), and talk about what we need prayer for.  It can sometimes take the form of venting.  It can sometimes take the form of whining.  I'm the one that usually takes the form of bitching, though I've been pretty good lately.

I always make sure I write the requests done in my little notebook, though now I'm in a new group where the leader is emailing the prayer requests to us the day after the meeting.

The idea is that we're all supposed to be praying for each other through the month, until we meet up again.  And I guess the knowledge that other people are praying for us should encourage and/or inspire us to live boldly, or endure greatly, or go forth strongly, or some such thing.

And I have no problem praying for them when we meet.  And I'm reasonably okay at praying for them in the week following.

But then.  The week after.  The next week.  The last week. 


I am a bad bad person.  I forget to pray for my monthly prayer group!

I mean, this isn't limited by frequency of meetings!  I regularly forgot to pray for my community groups when I was still attending them, and they were once a week.

(If you are a member of my pryaer groups, I'm really really sorry.  And I'm being this honest in the hopes to shame myself into doing better, and praying for you guys, like, all the time.  I don't blame you if you want to stop praying for me.  I especially don't blame you if you want to put various poxes on me instead.  I totally would.)

It's so WEIRD.  Because it's not as though I don't pray.  And it's not as though I don't pray for other people.  I do, there's usually a group of about four people who I know are going through tough times, people I try to help, and those are the ones I almost always pray for first.

It's just that my monthly prayer group people are not at the foremost of my brain.  Probably because I only see them once a month.

What happens to those prayers that I'm supposed to pray, but forget to?  Do those people not achieve their goals, because I forgot to pray for them to achieve them?

Oh, geeze, Amy, get over yourself right fucking now.

It's not as though I'm buoyed beyond my own strength on some They're Praying For Meeeeee power, either.  I never think about whether people are praying for me, nor am I counting on their prayers to help me do something like move mountains, or whatever.

It's like Christmas.  I'm not nearly as interested in what people are getting me as I am in seeing if they liked what I got them.

Well, apparently you're not interested, because not praying for your monthly prayer group is the equivalent of not getting them ANYTHING for Christmas.  Have a glorious day, you Grinchy bitch.

If I stop and think about what the purpose is behind the prayers, I think it's something along the lines of how you put the needs of others before your own.  Learning to open your heart to the concerns and cares of other people.  Be interested and involved in other peoples' lives.  Looking out for real world opportunities to help them.  If I know people in my prayer group are looking for a new place to live and I happen upon a facebook posting advertising one, then I forward that along to them.

I think ultimately, I'm just gonna have to print the prayer request list out on sparkle paper with fireworks around the edges, and hang it from my wrist.  Maybe then I'll remember.

Prayer groups, please forgive me.  But I totally understand if you don't wanna.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Everyone Needs A Friend Like Nadine When Running Away From Zombies

So I did the the 5K Run For Your Lives race this past weekend.  It was out at the Glen Helen Speedway in San Bernadino so that made it closer, but it also made it dustier.  With no lake or grass nearby, we were literally running in a desert.  Crawling through pipes that had dirt inside them, we're all coughing and hacking and spitting up crap.

They had said ahead of time that a lot of the obstacles were going to require a team effort, so run with a group of people.  The reality was that maybe 1 or 2 of roughly 12 obstacles were things that you couldn't truly do on your own.  You can climb up a hill on your own. You can step through a rope-criss-crossed bridge on your own.  You can crawl through a tent of dry ice and hanging electrical wires on your own.

So all my hopes of Helping Other People Get Through An Obstacle, like I did last year, was pretty much all for naught.  

So basically, I have no blog entry this week.


I ran the race with my friend Nadine.  Last year, we had a group of about 10 - 12 people.  This year, every last one of them bailed, except me and Nadine.  

Fair enough.  You ran a race, you gave it a shot, you don't wanna do it again, totally cool (and to be fair, one of them who declined to run still attended as a supporter, so there you go)

But I've got Nadine, and Nadine's got me.  I would run past the zombies, and wait for Nadine to catch up, and it all seemed to work out pretty well.  At least, until I rolled my ankle. Which I wouldn't have done, because everyone knows you're not supposed to run down a hill PRECISELY because you can roll an ankle.  But one zombie at the bottom of the hill took offense to the people-who-know-better-than-to-run-down-a-hill-and-are-carefully-walking-down, and charged us.  So we had to run downhill, and it was dirt and uneven terrain and there goes my ankle.

But I'm not gonna puss out about it (stupid zombie, stupid stupid).  We were already in the last third of the course, it didn't hurt badly enough to where I couldn't hop, skip, and jump my way through the rest of the course, using Nadine as ballast where I had to.  The one part where I had trouble was swimming through the tank, because I couldn't kick my foot to properly swim, so I ended up clinging to the side and using upper body strength to get through.

But we both survived with one flag left, dirty, muddy, down an ankle and all.  The zombies could not break us.  They could not take... OUR FREEDOM.

When I was showing the pictures of the race to a co-worker of mine, the first thing he said was "Wow, your friend is just smiling through all of it."

Which is true, most of the pictures, you see me concentrating, plotting, checking out the course ahead and what's the best way to get around the upcoming field of zombies, maybe we should wait until there's more people so we can run in a group, there's safety in numbers, la la la. (nope, still not showing any pictures of me)

And Nadine is simply smiling, going through with a big grin on her face. She's running, she's crawling, she's avoiding zombies by screaming, "Mine!  Get away! Get away!  Mine!" All with the biggest smile on her face.

It's not that I'm not having fun.  I'm just not outwardly expressing it.

So here’s to you, Nadine, and your big big cheery smile.  We all need a friend like you.

(all photos taken by S. Boltjes photography. She's very cool.  Go book her now.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Every Calorie Must Mean Something

So I'm done with this fast, as my lovely friend Flora got married this past weekend.  No alcohol or processed sugar for a month, and in the last two weeks, no carbs or pasta.  I'm the type of person that likes to know I did everything I could for a function where I know there's gonna be pictures.  Because I don't generally get along with the camera.  My arms have muscles, but you can't see it unless I'm atcually flexing, or hanging from a bar, and why yes indeed, that's exactly what you do at a wedding.

So I went into the wedding doing everything I could and hallelujah for open bars, and then at the sit down dinner, there was a bread basket.

A bread basket.

You know, I don't mind doing these fasts from time to time, because I think it's good to practice self control, to get experience with self control under your belt, because my overall feeling going into this period of abstention was one of confidence.  I got this, I did it before, I can do it again.

And as long as I learn something new each time I do it, it's worth it for me.  And what I learned this time around was the absolute uselessness of the bread basket.

This year has been so much about personal organization for me.  Because when I feel like things are neat, ordered, and in place, then I feel like everything's under control.  Perhaps a tiny part of that is me feeling that I'M in control, but I know that ultimately, God's in control, not me.  But God's not gonna clean up my disordered apartment, though He did give someone the inspiration to create IKEA, so there you go.

Bottom line, everything needs to have a place to go, everything needs to have a purpose, and I found that extends into my diet.  Every calorie needs to have a reason for me to eat it, everything I'm eating has to be PURPOSEFUL.  So I'm drinking a coconut water before my aerial workout, so that the potassium dose will help keep my toes muscles from cramping (and I have no idea why they do it), and it means I don't have to eat a banana.  The pineapple I'm eating for dessert is so I won't have a craving for a chocolate chip cookie.  The baked kale chips (I KNOW) is my crunchy snack for the evening, so I'm not mindlessly snacking on popcorn.  Every food item has a purpose.

But what does the bread basket do?  Those rolls, those slices of bread, they're pretty useless.  It was surprisingly easy to let the bread basket go by while I was in this period of abstention.  And once I was released and could eat whatever I wanted to, it was still easy to let it go by.  Those calories don't do a useful thing for me.  Bread isn't the most flavorful of food items I could be eating (though the one exception I will always make is the amazing Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits.  Those things are the bomb.)

Pasta is different, because that usually is more flavorful, plus it comes in fun shapes like fusilli.  But if you're not a big sandwich eater, then bread isn't really necessary for you.

Soo, just to test, I did eat half of a roll.  with butter.  And it was... okay. 

I tested it again, the next morning.  Had lox with capers, on a bagel with cream cheese.  And I could only eat one half of the bagel.  Just couldn't stomach the thought of having that other bagel half in me.

Now, I'm sure I'll always love cupcakes, and pizza, and Belgian waffles (never pancakes).  And I'm not going completely insane and doing my burgers with a lettuce leaf wrap, no, I can't handle those. 

But yeah, bread, toast, even an English muffin, doesn't do it for me anymore.

How funny, the things you learn.  I obviously would've starved at the whole Jesus Feeds The 5,000 With Fishes And Loaves thing.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I'm a Thank You Slut

I didn't realize I was a Thank You Slut until recently. 

The way I operate is that I generally gush out "Thanks!"  "Thank you!"  “Thank you, thank you, thank you" almost as much as I breathe, or drink water, or daydream about sleeping more.

I say it because I'm scared I'll forget it, or that I have forgotten it.  The person who helped me get my newest job, I thanked repeatedly and continue to do so, every time we email.  He's probably sick of it by now.

Some people don't care.  They'll tell me, "You don't have to thank me. "  But I do!  I DO!

I say thank you just because. Thank you for talking to (or emailing) me.  I know how precious everyone's time is (and I say that without the slightest hint of sarcasm), thank you for getting back to me.  Thank you for not disappearing in a poof of attitude or business or secret-grudge holding.  Thank you.  Thank you.

I was just typing "thanks" in a text in the phone, and I must've been typing too fast, because the iPhone autocorrected it to hatbands.

One of the things I say all the time on this blog is Thank You, God, thank You.  Thank You, God, thank You.  Thank You, God, thank You. Because seriously, even if you don't talk to God a lot, it really doesn't kill you to float up one or two "Thanks, God."  Because you're alive, and some people aren't, and some people would give anything to have those people alive again.

I fling my thank yous far and wide.  Thank you, whoever you are, for reading this blog. 

Maybe because I am so promiscuous with my Thank Yous, that I notice it more when people don't thank me.  Which makes me a special kind of Megabitch.

I have helped people where I can, because I would want people to help me if I was in their position. I do research for them, I make calls for them, I open doors where I can, sometimes at risk to my own reputation (thankfully, I haven't recommended a dud THANK YOU GOD.)

But then I find myself irritated and annoyed when the Thank You isn't as immediate as the ones I throw out.  I will Thank You along the way, not just when I get to the destination, regardless if the destination is either yes or no.

And then I realize what a grinchy bitch I am.  I shouldn't be EXPECTING Thank Yous, because my expecting a Thank You for what I'm doing for these people means I don't view it as a favor, I view it as a request.  But they asked me for a favor. 

And I basically need to shut up.  Yes, people should say thanks more often.  But I need to stop waiting for them to say it.  Just help them, and move on.  A Thank You would be nice, but if it turns me into a Grinchy Megabitch, it’s not worth it, and I don’t think that’s how God would want me to be.

Aw, man, it really is tiring to wrestle that Grinchy Megabitch down.  But down she will go, with God’s help and all.

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

And He doesn’t even have to say you’re welcome back.  Heh.