Monday, November 30, 2009

I dreamt of a church(ish)

I am in a large auditorium, inside a church. The seats are like movie-theatre seats: the bolted to the floor fold-down kind with upholstered seats and seat-backs. The auditorium has a stage in front and holds hundreds of people. This church has seating arrangements and we're all given tickets at the door telling us which seat is ours for the sermon.

I am the only pagan in the church, and everyone knows about me. They watch me, whispering and wondering. They're waiting for me to do something wrong. To take the lord's name in vain or sacrifice a goat.

I ignore their stares and go about the business of finding my seat; in the process I discover that the first row of chairs is bolted to the floor near a pole. The last chair in the row is so close to the pole that the seat won't fold down. The pole is blocking the seat and no one can sit there.

I examine the seat, looking for a way to fix it. Maybe if I could force the seat down, or move that chair somehow. I get down on hands and knees to see if it is indeed bolted to the floor, or maybe see if I can loose it from its moorings...

They watch me, the non-pagans, and they become irritated with my fixation on the seat.

"What're you doing?" one asks me. "Is there something wrong with your seat?"

Not mine, I say. But this one... it's all wonky.

"What's the problem? It looks fine to me." She rolls her eyes at me, and her companion next to her titters a little giggle. "Maybe you're not doing it right."

But the seat doesn't fold down. I demonstrate. It's not a functioning seat. I pull on the seat, showing her how it's not folding down.

"I don't see what trouble is," she repeats.

How can you not see? I demonstrate again. Don't you see how it's broken?

She ignores me, and the two walk away. They cast glances over their shoulders and laugh when they see me staring after them in frustration. How can they ignore empirical evidence like that? Silly bints...

I realise I have to go to the bathroom so I approach a small group of women and ask if any of them can direct me to the nearest restroom. They stare at me blankly.

"Sorry," an older woman speaks up. "I'm not sure where the bathroom is."

I set off in a huff, wondering how a woman -any woman- doesn't know where a bathroom is in a church. I exit the auditorium and find myself in a long hallway. No doors off the hallway, no signs, no clues as to where a bathroom might be. The only thing in the hallway is a long banquet table with chairs around it. The table is set for dinner, food steaming in serving dishes in the centre.

I wander down the hallway and find an elevator. On the closed doors a large "13" is painted in bright yellow. I was certain this building was single-level. Why would a single level building need an elevator?

As I approach, the doors woosh open and I step inside. There are no buttons inside, no panel allowing me to choose where to go. The doors open and I cautiously step out. A woman rushes past me wearing hospital scrubs and a net cap over her hair.

Excuse me! I call to the woman. Can you tell me where I am?

"Floor 13. Hospital level."

Hospital level. Now that's really odd. I go about my search, seriously needing to pee, following a twisted maze of hallways until I find myself in a supermarket. People are shopping inside a church. Just down the hallway from a hospital. In a building that's a single level from the outside but has at least 13 floors inside.

Another hallway and another elevator, this one with "42C" painted on its doors. I skip that one, knowing I don't really want to go up. I find another, marked "4A", and ride it down. I step out into a large corridor with windows showing classrooms. I'm on a school level. A bell rings and doors slam open; children pour into the corridor and bounce and scream past me.

I snag one, sure that a child will know the way to the potty. She points, and I see a stick figure wearing a skirt.

Finally. I'd sure hate to pee in my dress in front of a bunch of third-graders in a school-church-hospital-supermarket.

After I take care of that business, I realise the sermon will start soon and suddenly it is very important that I be there for that. Miraculously I find my way back down to the first floor (1F, Church Level) and enter the auditorium with relief.

I make my way to my seat to find it occupied. Hi there. Excuse me, I think you're in my seat. I show my ticket to the girl in my seat. She sniffs and looks away.

Miss, that's my seat. I show my ticket again, and she glares at me.

"I think you're wrong."

But it says, right here. Why won't you look?

I look around and see that all the seats are full apart from the one with the dysfunctional seat that won't fold down. Everyone has taken their place (and mine) and I have nowhere to sit.

I go back out into the hallway and snag one of the chairs from around the banquet table and drag it, bouncing and clattering, into the auditorium and down to the front of the room.

I sit, waiting for the sermon to start. Waiting for someone to notice the broken chair and the girl in my seat and the rude women who wouldn't direct me to the bathroom. Waiting for them to notice that it's not normal to have a hospital inside a church and a table-full of food that no one is eating.

Waiting for God to strike me dead.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I'm not codependent (except when I am)

image photo credit

I've been behind on my blog-reading lately. In catching up, I have been able to spend many glorious hours reading, to my absolute delight, the most talented, insightful writers on the internet. Among my absolute favourites, MPJ.

As a side note I kind of feel like an annoying little sister, following her around and hanging on her every word. I can't help it, I have a total crush on her brain.

When I finally caught up with her recent posts, I started going through her side-bar and ran across her post What is Codependence? I always liked that one. Reading it again today, something clicked in my brain. Like pieces coming together, a cotter pin sliding into place and fastening my thoughts in the right order...

I have always enjoyed the light-hearted manner in which MPJ jokes about her own co-dependency, poking fun at herself and her actions -- it's an incredibly subtle illness and can be as damaging and dangerous as substance abuse, but she has a way of looking at it that makes it less scary, less shameful.

I grew up in a highly co-dependent family. A family where some members aggressively ignored each others' needs while others went out of their way to over-compensate. Where sometimes my own needs were met before I even knew I had a need, others would not recognise that a need was going unmet.

I watched people in my family give up their own needs, their own desires and wishes and hopes, to maintain others' standards. I watched family members strive to fix that which others had broken, control situations that couldn't be controlled, lie when tempers flared and fists flew. And then become hurt, rejected, and bitter when their sacrifices were not recognised.

And I associated all that with "family". Somehow, I came to think of having children as the circumstance that forces you to put anothers' needs before your own, to the detriment of your own health; to be constantly looking for a need that must be met, to be perpetually guarding against danger or pain. To protect one's own rigid, tightly-maintained control of every situation, every circumstance, every environment. To give up one's own happiness for that of another, and to experience feelings of sadness and rejection when the very people being protected and cared-for and loved did not make the same sacrifices, didn't appreciate what was being done for them. That's what I thought it meant to raise a family. And I wanted no part of that.

To this day, when my husband suggests I take a sweater so I don't get cold I lose my mind. When he asks me if I need anything I want to scream at him. He hovers when I don't feel well and I want nothing more than for him to go away. (After he brings me soup. And a glass of juice. And a book. And all 42 remotes for the TV. And rubs my feet and goes to the store for some ginger ale and a chocolate bar. After THAT, I totally want him to go away and leave me alone until I need him again.)

What is the opposite of co-dependent? An unhealthy approach toward the opposite extreme? Whatever that is, that's me. I am aggressively not-co-dependent. Sometimes to such a degree that I will suffer just to prove my own point.

Huh. Oops.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Movie review: New Moon

Warning! This post contains plot spoilers and bitter opinions!



Went to see New Moon earlier this week. I've just finished reading all four books. It's a funny sort of thing... I really, really, really hate the way Meyers writes. Her use of casual and/or incorrect grammar and structure would not offend me so deeply if she would stick to using it as a dialogue tool to demonstrate a character's "voice"; as it is, the way the entire book(s) is written in that way makes me want to get my red pen out and mark up the entire manuscript.

(Don't worry, local public library, I totally didn't.)

That said, I found myself completely lost in the world she created. It isn't often that I will love/hate a book in the way that I really loved/hated each book in this series. I was glued to the couch for weeks straight, reading late into the night. Captivated by the characters, and often muttering in disgust.

Those of you who have heard me bitch about Janet Evanovich will recognise this unreasoning hatred of useless, stupid, banal female characters, even as I want them to have everything they ever needed.

Speaking of everything she ever needed, I was quite gratified to read that I'm not the only one who thought Bella was the epitome of a co-dependent girl. It's a good thing she gets vamped later, or she'd be the typical battered woman when Edward tired of her insipid whining and pleas for love and started beating her for her constant lack of smiling.

The thing that made the movie totally worth seeing was the collective gasp that went up among the entire teenaged audience when Taylor Lautner removed his shirt for the first time. If he didn't make me feel like a complete pervert, I'm sure I would find him scrumptious.

And, because Wired rocks so much:

Making it up as I go

When I was a girl the thing I wanted second-most was to be a grown up.

(The thing I wanted first-most was to be a warrior woman.)

I knew, in the way that kids know, that my mom made up a lot along the way. But I also knew that she had answers to everything. Even when I hated the answers, she had them. They were hers, and so they were mine. There was no arguing with her.

I wanted to be just like that, making it up as I went.

It seemed to be that adults had answers for everything. They always had the last word, the final say. Even when I made my mom lose her temper and blurt out the next thing that came to her mind, she always had something.

She never seemed confused or lost. She never had nothing to say.

My friend's parents had their routines and their structure. My teachers had their composure (except for my Spanish teacher, sophomore year, who used to turn red in the face and scream at us).

Everywhere - rules, regulations, sentence structure, paychecks, health insurance - all controlled and maintained by the grown ups.

When I got there, I also had all the answers. I held the schedule. I maintained the routine. There was nothing I didn't know. No situation to which I did not know how to respond. I made it up as I went and I knew exactly what I was doing.

Until I didn't. One day last week or ten minutes ago or five years ago I forgot how to know everything.

I have no schedule, no routine. In fact, I hate routine. I no longer know what I'm doing. Still making it up as I go, but suddenly so.terribly.unsure.

This business of being a grown up is a lot harder than it used to look. But it's Thanksgiving and I have food in the oven and I'm going to a Gwar show tomorrow, so for today I am letting it go.

And I am eternally grateful that I now know how to do so.

Giving Thanks

My family. My mom and dad who don't crowd me and don't judge my decisions. They leave me alone with my choices, offering only support or love if I need it. They taught me how to take responsibility for myself.

Mr. J's family. They accept me as I am, and they don't place expectations on me. They love me for me and they really listen when I have something to say.

My step-daughter. She taught me how to be an adult, far more than she knows. She taught me how to think about my words before I spoke them. She taught me how to love without condition, and what it means to be so proud of another person I could burst. I love her as though she were own daughter.

My employees. They teach me how to express myself honestly without losing my temper. They allow me to be wrong and make mistakes and they challenge me to do better.

My friends. Friends who are like family, they have seen the best and the worst of me and they still choose to love me.

My boss. She supports me and guides me; she helps me work through decisions and lets me find me own way. She gives me room to grow.

Ajahn Brahm. The world is a better place for him in it. I'm quite certain I owe him my sanity.

The beach. The place I escape to. The place where I am surrounded by those who protect me and love me and feed me. The place that doesn't judge me or hate me or cut me off on the motorway. The place where I see God, without having to look too hard.

My blog. It has brought me solace when I needed it, and friends I otherwise never would have the privilege of knowing. If you have ever commented on my blog, know that your words have encouraged and fortified me.

Green bean casserole. The first time I had this dish was my first Thanksgiving with my husband's family. It reminds me of his grandmother, now departed, who hugged me the first time I met her. Of the children, now grown, laughing and happy and playing. Of his parents, warm and loving, with whom I was immediately bonded.

You. I love you for making my life a better one. For your friendship, your love, and your compassion. I love you for your kindness, and for your bad attitude; for offering me advice, for flipping me off while driving, and for making such good lattes. I love you for talking during movies, and for offering me a smile on the day I needed it the most.

Joyous Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You're doing it wrong

What if there were no wrong choices?

Get married young. Have a baby out of wedlock. Marry an older man. Be a lesbian. Have an abortion.

What if there were no right choices?

Take a job overseas. Follow through with that urge to drive your car off the bridge. Skip the road for home and keep driving until you run out of pavement. Study a religion for a whole year.

What if there were only choices?

Get a divorce. Give your kid up for adoption. Get a tattoo. Pierce your butt-cheek.

Any choice you want, just waiting for you to make it.

Sell all your possessions. Become a monk. Start your own business. Drop out of high school. Learn a language.

What if you had the freedom to do anything you wanted, without people telling you that you were making a mistake? What if you were simply encouraged to try new things?

What would you do? Where would you go?

I'm going to write a book. And then ride a unicorn bare-back to the North Pole and get drunk with Santa Clause.

Ex-restaurant

My favourite spot for ribs has closed down. I am a little bit heartbroken.

The good stuff happens at night

I'm up late, even though I am tired. I have been up late for days, because I am on vacation and I wanna.

My eyes are gritty with fatigue, dry from staring at a crochet project for hours and then my monitor for more hours. Why am I not in bed?

I am certain, absolutely positive that after I go to bed is when the magic happens.

The funniest joke I never heard.
Spiritual awakening.
Earth-shattering news.
Unicorns and Santa Clause.

The precise moment when everything in my world makes sense will strike, and I won't be awake to recognise it.

I want to do yoga; to run outside in the cold and rain; to beat the hell out of a heavy-bag (I don't have a heavy-bag, dammit. Dear Santa...)

Mostly, I just want the secrets of the night.

And, I really want a cigarette.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thoughts named Sahara

There is a desert in my mind. Thoughts of sand, white as bone.

Dry, disintegrating thoughts. Baked and crumbled in the sun; blown to the four quarters by hot winds.

A memory: intangible, sliding across the surface of my mind; as smooth as glass, it holds nothing. Betrays nothing.

I do not exist in this mind. I have been stripped of this place, like the skin of a freshly killed deer. Carved away and discarded.

This mind only knows you.
It only shows you... you.

You, reflected back at you.
You, and you again.

Your face.
Your mind.Your thoughts and wants and desires...
Reflected over and over again.

Was that what you want?
Was that your desire?

If you could have chosen the thing you would leave me with, would it really have been you?

Should it, really, have been you?

Princess Peppermint in a castle of confusion

I am fifteen years old. Again.

Angry.

Stubborn.

Unreasonable.

Tangled.

For No. Good. Reason.

I want to cry and listen to loud music and punch someone.

Until their teeth break.

Until their skin splits.

Until my skin splits.

Until my knuckle snaps and I'm punching my bones into their bones.

I feel like I'm in the wrong skin. Again. Everything hurts, between the top of my head and bottoms of my feet.

When I was fifteen, I would sneak down to the kitchen and find my mom's bottle of vodka. She kept it behind the crock pot, shoved way to the back of the cupboard.

I would crawl out my bedroom window and sit on the roof with a plastic cup of vodka and smoke cigarettes.

I keep my vodka in the freezer these days, and the only cigarettes I have are from the day I sort-of quit smoking five years ago. Grody.

Where has this fight been? Why have I been wearing this suit?

My fans