scandalous!

June 13, 2011

Sex scandals don’t bother me.  They annoy me.  Especially politicians’ sex scandals—I don’t care so much that it takes a large effort for me to even articulate why I don’t care.  But I will give it my darndest.

Politicians are somewhat famous, and to that extent, I understand why anyone would care about their scandals.  It’s gossip and humans love gossip.  But when Lindsay Lohan goes to jail, nobody takes it personally.  We don’t feel betrayed and we don’t feel the right to demand her resignation.  Of course there is another factor at play here, a major one: Lindsay Lohan isn’t paid by your tax dollars.

However: politicians are paid by public dollars to do an honest day’s work. They represent constituent’s interests, pass laws, talk about legal matters, and generally think about things that many people, even if they care, don’t spend hours and hours thinking about.  Politicians are not paid to be monogamous, have hetero-normative sexuality, go to church on Sunday, or raise their children to do the same.  As long as public funds are not being misappropriated, it’s my opinion that politicians are free to be as kinky as they want, believe what they want, and do what they want.  I would even add that politicians are free to lie about what they want as long as the work gets done on time.  Because even if something is morally questionable (lying, cheating on one’s wife, sending naughty photos), as long as it’s not illegal, nobody needs to get fired for anything non-work-performance-related, ever.

And for a politician to go in for treatment for being a sexy son-of-a-gun is just stupid.  (Is there really a market for that kind of treatment?)

I don’t want any politician’s apology or explanation.  I want them to go to work in the morning and keep making me a free citizen of a republic.  And since I expect the right to think and act and fuck as I like, within the bounds of the law, I am perfectly willing to extend that same grace to all politicians, just as I do to all humans.  I mean, I can do my job despite what I’m planning to do to whom when I get home.  I’m not constantly distracted by my heretical opinions to the point that I can’t get my work done.  I’m pretty sure politicians can do the same.

And just as I might lie if I was unexpectedly confronted about my relationship and sexuality (let’s just say it’s non-heteronormative), I’m perfectly willing to overlook a person lying about something he doesn’t want me finding out.  I might even be willing to overlook some hypocrisy: because again, I am paying my representatives to vote a certain way, not to act a certain way.  I might find it morally repugnant that a male politician would hire male prostitutes while voting to keep gay marriage illegal, but it’s not against the law to be hypocritical or morally repugnant.  In fact, I feel a little sorry for such a man, who knows that doing his job well is not good enough, and is forced to lie and cover-up any preferences that his constituents find distasteful.  I believe this situation would be well answered by the saying, “Hate the game, not the player”.

Nobody has the right to expect behavior of me or demand the truth from me.  That protection is even in the Constitution.  Is it really a surprise that someone lie instead of respond with a coy “I don’t really want to talk about that”?

One last thing: when media or individuals demand that a politician resign because of the outrage caused by their behavior, isn’t that just your basic self-fulfilling prophecy?

Betrayed the public’s trust.  Gimme a goddamn break.  Have an intern take over the Twitter feed and get the politicians back to work.

chickens and butter

June 12, 2011

Before I tell you about how I murdered my first chickens, let me tell you about butter.

I first discovered that butter is delicious when I was about 20 years old.  I grew up eating butter on toast, because mom didn’t buy margarine (unhealthy!), but she put the butter on the toast because it was expensive and us kids would have used too much.  So I was in the habit of using a teeny tiny amount of butter on my toast.  Until that fateful day, ten years ago, when I took a break from video games, went downstairs, made some toast, and got out the butter.  I must have been opening a new package of it because I noticed that 1 serving of butter is 1 Tablespoon.  So I used a Tablespoon.  THAT TOAST WAS THE BEST THING I HAD EVER EATEN.  Seriously, I ate nothing but buttered toast for a couple days and told everyone how amazing it was.  That’s my most vivid food-based memory.

I told you that story so I could tell you this one.

Me and the housemates killed our very own chickens recently.  I killed them, then me and my girlfriend plucked the feathers, then butchered them.  I ended up kindof dissecting mine, because oh my goodness, what is all this inside my chicken??  This must be the heart, and the lungs, and kidneys!  It’s got all the same stuff I do!

Including meat.  I was looking at my hands and thinking, wow, I am made of meat, but nobody eats me.  I am so lucky.

We ate the chickens.  (I used recipes from an old “Joy of Cooking” since it had information about chicken weight and whether it was a broiler or fryer or whatever, and which techniques to use for each.)  The meat was a little tough but it was a rooster, so next time I will be sure to slow cook it, or just make broth.  I guess roosters are considered worthless for meat, but it wasn’t like I could just throw them out, right?

Definitely a food milestone– and a backyard homesteader milestone!  And now that I’ve got a community garden plot, I’ll be composting chicken shit for my next milestone!

… though neither of those will be as delicious as that first buttered toast.

all-inclusive definitions

May 22, 2011

Perhaps you’ve heard Christians say, “God is in control, God loves me, and God will always take care of me.”  And maybe you’ve heard the skeptical response, “God sure has a poor way of taking care of his people.”

But have you noticed that “taking care of” can fit just about any definition, and is, in fact, desgned to do so?  God takes care of people in so many ways, keeping them both rich and warm and homeless and starving.  What does it all mean?  That God loves some people better?  That he can’t do everything at once?  Or that he never promised to make you rich, that’s not what “taking care of you” means?

The broader a definition is, the less it actually means.  Unless you spell out and agree to what things mean– as in marriage vows, for example– there’s no standards and objectives, much less is there a way to maintain accountability to those standards.  So when I say to a friend, “I appreciate you, and I’ll invite you over for tea,” there’s the statement and there’s the proof.  But when God supposedly says “I love you,” anything that follows is the proof: I got a raise, I found $20.  Even the bad things are proof, because God is giving you the opportunity to trust him.  Even if death and destruction follow, God is teaching you to rely more on him.

What’s interesting is that if you think God hates you, you’ll base that on events.  What do you think that says about people?  About religion?  About God?

Why do I suddenly sound like I am writing an essay question?

Young and Old

May 18, 2011

Sometimes I feel like a young naive person; then, in the same day, I suddenly felt old and mature.

What had always seemed like confidence on the part of a friend finally spilled over into vanity. Of course everyone’s got it– vanity, I mean– but this being somewhat at my expense I did not appreciate my friend as I once did.

This friend and I like each other, a bit– not just as friends, but in the way boys and girls do. If certain things were different about our circumstances, we’d probably be pursuing that. But things are as they are, so we hang out and enjoy each other’s company on terms we are comfortable with.

But the last time we saw each other– was a date. A capital D-date, with some full-frontal flirting, achingly lovely physical tension, and a quick detour to the beach to watch the sun set, for Christs’ sake. So I had to recover from that. And I told him frankly that I had to recover from it. And he was understandably flattered. So I let him go on talking while I listened (AN EXCELLENT SKILL. Everyone should be able to do this. Doesn’t matter how uncomfortable the silence gets, just wait it out, and the other party will talk to fill the silence. This has never not-worked, excepting on the person who was equally as good at it as I was, and then, the conversation was simply over because neither of us gave up.)

I let him reassure me that he wasn’t pursuing me and that he was, in fact, pursuing another person. (This being the part where I felt like a foolish child.)

I told him it wasn’t that I was trying to get him to quit any behaviors or accusing him of breaking our terms (we don’t literally have terms, but I think you know what I mean), I was just managing myself. (And I wanted to know his reaction when I told him.)

And then he did the thing that took me aback: he said it was a family curse, being irresistible and charming. And I know he was only fooling around, but I very nearly stopped in my tracks. He didn’t notice my reaction for some reason; he was probably making it up as he went along. He went on joking about it. But I thought to myself, wow, just wow. He seemed suddenly so young, because I saw him and I was the one looking down this time, and he didn’t even realize it. There it was, the reason I really don’t fully trust this person, the reason I’ve told him more than I probably should about what goes on in my head, the reason I enjoy his company. He is charming me. And the second I noticed it was the second it stopped working.

Charm is what got me married to my ex and kept me there for nearly ten years. It’s how people get more out of me than I intend to give them. I am lonely and trusting, and the prevaricating, flirting, flatterer always gets my guard down. I interpret friendly confidence and a sense of humor as friendship material instead of seeing it for the shallowness it is. And I don’t mean stupid-shallow, because my friend is intelligent. I mean that the easy-going cheery person who gets along with everyone– you know, the Law of Attraction types– I mean they are simply shallow. He didn’t work for my friendship; we just have naturally good chemistry together. He didn’t earn my trust; he simply has a knack for keeping secrets (mainly his own, I sometimes suspect.) He doesn’t know me; he only has a knack for seeming to understand– who knows the actual distance between what I say or feel and how he interprets my words and expressions.

So now I am in the position of pulling myself back into myself. I can easily avoid him; he hasn’t been initiating contact with me much since our Not-A-Date (but he did ask me why he hadn’t heard from me much lately. Odd.) — which makes me think he realizes our mistake more than he lets on.

And that’s the final thing I learned: I finally recognized a lack of honesty in him– a lack of being honest with himself, or me, I’m not sure which. I’ve seen this before in people– I find it difficult to maintain friendships after I see it– and I wonder how I can learn to detect it earlier.

Not that I’m the Crown Princess of Honesty, but I am pretty good at facing ugly truths about myself and the world (see any post I’ve written on losing my faith in god).

And I don’t want to seem like I’m holding a grudge because this guy seems to have gotten over me more quickly than I got over him. I confess that I’m mostly in this for the attention from a tall handsome male; I don’t see how I can hold it against him for hanging out with me: a pretty female who laughs at his jokes. But it does leave me in the interesting position of wondering what this friend is really good for me for. Sorry if it sounds selfish to put it that way, but I really don’t need the angst of suffering attraction for a person outside my current relationship. And I do see the way he looks at me. So maybe…

Oh, it’s so obvious. I know what I’d tell anyone to do if they approached me with this problem asking for advice.

And then I have to laugh, because I think to myself, “She broke up with him already!!”

Ah. Being unmarried is weird.

Unbelief

May 3, 2011

[I wrote this months ago, finished it today.  Gotta get this thing going again because I need an outlet!]

I was reading the blog of a friend from high school today– actually, I suppose I was browsing it, because she’s heavily involved in Christian ministry and having babies, neither of which I can particularly relate to… In any case, right at the top of the blog she had a quote from a Christian pastor:

Unbelief is safe because it takes no risk and gets what it expects. – Bill Johnson

My first thought was, “Are you kidding me??  Unbelief is the scariest fucking thing in the world!”   Now, I realize I don’t have the context of this quote; and I certainly don’t know whether he is talking about the “sin” of unbelief, as far as Christians doubting God, or whether he’s talking about unbelievers in general.  He may very well have meant the former.  But I react pretty strongly against this Christian idea that non-believers [a] choose their unbelief [b] because we decide it is better or easier to live our lives this way.  This idea especially focuses on how we atheists think we are free to sin without guilt, but really we are slaves to our sin nature; and we believe we have no lords and masters but ourselves– but really, God will send us to Hell one day for our rebellion.

I disagree.  Having no gods or afterlife or easy answers is not fun, and it’s not comprehensively freeing, and it certainly doesn’t feel safe. It feels lonely, the world seems dark and unfriendly… and after a person loses faith in gods, religious people (that’s pretty much everyone) seem sad, or stupid, or dangerous, or like liars.

If you’re not at least slightly optimistic by nature, your whole outlook on life takes a serious beating.  I’ve considered antidepressants just because I’m tired of it– and I used to consider myself optimistic.

Yes, there is wonder and beauty and majesty and stuff that is just freakin awesome.  That’s another post.

But I once was Christian, and now am not; and growing up with that belief system shaped me.  I’m not sure I’ll ever recover.  And some days, I think that if I could take a pill to make myself believe again, I would take it.

Belief that God is good, and has a plan for me, and has chosen a husband for me, and gives me employment and income and every good thing, and wants to be with me forever… believing that is safe.  There is no risk there– if you die in your belief, you only die, and that’s all.  The only risk in believing is in the risk that you will get something, and expectations always carry a risk of unfulfillment.  But even a Christian can be safe from disappointment because God had a reason for that, too.

Belief is safe.  Belief offers comfort and assurance and an eternity of bliss.

Belief can be very risky, depending on the instability and extremity of your beliefs, and the risk grows the longer you have your belief, because to lose it becomes more of a loss.

Belief always gets what it expects, because to believe in something is to believe in something.  It may not be tangible, but it is technical and precise with just enough mystery to keep it interesting.  It is flexible; you can always be satisfied… if you believe you should be.

an answer to prayer

November 28, 2010

I was talking to my mom on the phone yesterday, telling her about my new job (YAY).  The whole thing happened so quickly– there was less than a week between applying and accepting the job offer– and my [Christian] mom made this observation: “I know you probably don’t see it this way, but it seems like an answer to prayer, doesn’t it?”

And since I absolutely avoid all types of religious debates with my mom, and since I am not in the habit of being in any way rude to her, I didn’t say, “It can’t be an answer to prayer if I didn’t actually pray.” Instead I went on to tell her why it happened so quickly (both the reason I was sure of and the reason I suspected).

But that’s not the whole story. 

I only had a day to prepare for the interview and I spent the whole day doing it.  And that night as I went to sleep I thought, “Boy, I sure hope I get this job.”  And where a few years ago I would have prayed, you know what I did, last week, as an atheist?

Said a prayer.  To Persephone.  It went a little something like this.

Dear Queen of the Underworld,

I hope your winter is going well.  We miss you up here.  I would be very happy to send you a nice photo of California springtime, to encourage you during these cold months, especially if you would be so kind as to help me get this job.

All the best,

Alice.

And since I got the job, I was gonna hit a Friends of the Library Bookstore for a nice photo to send Her way.  I guess I’ll burn it?

Yeah.  Probably best not to tell my mom about this one.  She’ll think I’m totally off my rocks.  Which I might be.  But this amuses me.

cause and chaos

November 19, 2010

I thought that I had enough chaos in my life these past few years.  Between a big move, losing my religion, divorcing my husband, quitting my job, and taking care of my grandma while she died of cancer (seven months of watching TV with her has made me stupider!  I can tell!)… that’s enough, right?  From 2007 onwards, it’s just been a storm of chaos.  And losing my religion really meant I lost 99 percent of my ability to cope with life: all my stress-management techniques were lost, an instant community wherever I went was lost, even my ideas about reality were lost.

If that wasn’t bad enough [and I apologize if this is TMI]… a few years ago, I switched from the Pill to a non-hormonal IUD, and now I have some pretty serious PMS.  How the fuck do women handle this?  The week before my period, I start losing sleep and feeling a detached urge to get drunk for no reason, no reason I am aware of, anyway.  Wierd!  So practically a quarter of my life now is dealing with a personality change and all these uncomfortable urges that I have to work around.

Add that to the things I’ve actively done to myself– the events I’ve more-or-less chosen, though technically I did choose to get the IUD– and now my own body is working against me.

If that wasn’t bad enough, this morning I’ve had regular coffee and then let someone infuriate me on a forum.  Yeah, a stranger on the internet is affecting my morning.  I love living in the future.

At least I’ve made the other party angry as well.  I enjoy feeling angry, actually.  It’s nice to feel.

I am not a witch

November 15, 2010

Anyone who knows anything about Evangelical teachings knows that witchcraft is bad.  So bad.  I was raised to be wary of fortune-telling, palm reading, Ouija boards, magic tricks (even though they were tricks), any stories with wizards, wizards, or spells in them (never saw “The Wizard of Oz,” though “The Little Mermaid” was warily permitted despite the witch Ursula).  We were not allowed to make-believe or play anything even remotely related to the occult.

And even though the Bible teaches that witchcraft is real in 1 Samuel 28, as a child, I wasn’t really clear on whether witchcraft is bad because it works— i.e., there are real powers there that we shouldn’t use as Christians– or because it was rebellion against God to try to get something without Him.  I imagine that’s a difficult theology point for parents, since you don’t want to be saying that shit actually works, but if it doesn’t, then why is it such a big deal to forbid it?  This could also get awkward if kids start wondering why prayer is supposed to work but casting a spell isn’t.  Either way, it’s irrelevant, since I don’t believe in gods or magical powers anymore.

So I did something a little weird.  I bought a pack of Tarot cards.

They are beautiful cards.  I got the Rider-Waite Tarot, since that’s kindof the traditional standard– the King James Version of Tarot, if you will– and I think I’m going to have some fun with them.  I am interested in symbols and mythology, so after I figure out what everything means (I got a book from the library), I’m really gonna start practicing and playing with them.

What I’m really looking forward to is using them for my writing.  One of the ways I write is to just make characters and start telling stories: no planning the plot, no story arc, no character development… not really anything, just telling little stories for fun.  Of course the downside to this is that I get stuck when I don’t know what happens next.  So what I’ll do is read the character’s cards and get an idea for the lesson or event or person that should be happening next.

Fun idea, yeah?

As for using them for myself: reading my cards, or for someone else… I’m not sure how I want to do this.  I want them to be for fun, but I also want to be cautious and work out some sort of rules for myself because I can see how this could get addicting.  Side note: a friend (who is an atheist) divorced her husband in part because he was obsessed with reading Tarot and really starting to creep her out.  Thing is, even if I don’t believe there is anything magic about them (and I don’t), and the person whose cards I’m reading believes the same, there’s still a strange pull of the attention, a drawing of curiosity… and that weird feeling when the cards say something useful or dead-on-accurate is a powerful feeling.  I’m going to assume it’s simply a human phenomenon.  Otherwise there’d be no religion, right?

And you know how if you read your horoscope, it’s basically just advice, like, “watch out for pride,” or maybe, “today is a good day to ask for a raise.”  Harmless advice, and probably even good advice.  I’m thinking I’ll use the cards like that if someone ever says, “do me, do me!”  There are general meanings of each card, and of course ways to interpret the cards for relationship or financial questions. 

Seems to me that this will end up being a lot of self-fulfilling prophecy.  I remember playing with “Chinese fortune sticks” (no idea) with a friend, and we took turns telling each other’s fortunes by pulling out a stick from the jar and looking up the number in the book.  On one of his fortunes, I zinged him– because I knew him pretty well and I linked the fortune to his personality.  But his eyes got really big and he got nervous and put them away, saying he’d never play with them again.  (Superstitious Catholic?)  But it was me who knew him, not the fortune sticks, they were just a tool.  But what I said really scared him.

So this has the potential to be at least somewhat useful, a little fun, and a little scary… and I can see how I’d have been burned at the stake for seeing into someone’s soul or “knowing” something I have no business knowing.  Fortune-tellers obviously don’t have magic: they have insight into human nature and psychology, and they know enough about their clients to make meaningful statements.  I just hope I can give reasonable advice if it ever comes up, and maybe get some good insight into myself using the cards as a sort of mirror.

Looking back over what I’ve written, I think I get it, now.  Tarot and other divination and occult practices give power to individuals, not to gods.  Practicing Tarot might seem like accessing the beyond, or tapping into some spirit world, but really it’s simple human insight and making it mysterious– or perhaps it is the reverse: it takes the mystery of humanity and sorts it into symbols and myths and stories so that we can understand ourselves.

I’ll let you know how it goes.  I’m kindof excited.

not a good person

November 2, 2010

I have a really big problem.  I am not a good person.

If I was still a Christian– if I’d have died a Christian– I would have gone the rest of my life without even knowing I am not a good person.  Why, you ask?

Because Christians are automatically good people.

How?  Why??  Listen to Auntie Alice and I will tell you.

When I was a young girl, I was taught to love Jesus.  I was taught that if I loved Jesus, He would make me loving and patient and kind.  He would make me a good daughter and a good wife.

If I put God first, I would do well in school.  I would be healthy and successful.

If I trusted God, He would bring me a good husband.  I would have happy, Christian children.

So did my parents actually teach me much about how to be a good person?  No, they taught me how to love God.

Did they teach me about how to find and choose a good mate?  No, they taught me how to trust Jesus.

I have a lifetime of growing up to do.  And I need to start now.

October 13, 2010

Coupla things.

I quit the AA meetings.  I realize that I don’t fit in, and they won’t want me, on accounta me not going totally sober and not believing I need to and not believing that I can’t do it without an invisible friend.  Steps one and two are impossible.   I like step four– make a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself– so I’ll have to figure out how to work that one.  (“Work the step”?  Gods, I talk like them.)

Nice Boy is haunting me.  By that I don’t mean he’s contacted me or anything.  It’s just my own head.  He made a bigger impression on me than I knew.  I have to wonder if this isn’t worse than keeping in contact with him.  I also question my judgement in males– I mean, what kind of male do I pick out and attract besides the one I already had?  This worries me.  But I can’t really do anything practical about it now.

My head is not getting in order.  I am one fucked up lady.  I spend half my time running around doing things that need to be done, then the other half numb and useless.  I am starting to think I have PTSD.  I was nearing the end of my three-hour visit to the DMV today when I had a nice thought about Nice Boy and just about burst into tears.  Right before they took my photo, too; I let a few people go ahead of me in line because I know I get a red nose when I’m trying not to cry.  I tried to smile for my ID photo and only managed to look like I might not want to crawl into a hole and die.  I am trying to balance mental health, job search, reality checks, and a score of other ideas that I need to try to make reality (also for mental health).  I cry when I have to cry.  I face unpleasant things instead of distracting myself.  I am reading all kinds of library books about abuse and rape victims since that seems to be a powerful trigger for me; I need to figure that shit out and fast.  I am trying to settle my past down instead of letting it flare up and cripple me when I least expect it.  Because for every time I tell myself that women have survived much worse husbands than I have, I realize that I am worse off than I have ever let on.  I am weirdly and intricately damaged.  And until I face my damage I will not understand it, and I will be doomed to repeat my mistakes, compound my errors, or perhaps worse, get myself into a whole new sea of misery simply because I rejected everything old and tried something new, for newness sake. 

I want to be myself, but with armor, and weapons, and skills. 

I will be prepared and I will be powerful.