The Woman Behind the Curtain

September 29, 2010

We’re overhauling ThumpMe. In about a week or so we’ll launch a new site design, share a bit more personal information and start adding interviews and guest bloggers.

In the meantime, check out the new About page. When I started this project, I wanted to remain anonymous. Why? Good question. I’ll let you know if I ever come up with an answer. Anyway, the new page doesn’t include much information about the writer behind the blog, but I’ll throw that up soon.

I’m on the verge of missing a very important deadline so that’s it for today’s post. Oddly enough, but postponing today’s reading, I’m putting myself back on track in terms of my reading time table. By some miracle, I’m still ahead of the calendar.

Random thought. Is it wrong to wonder if twins, especially those holding the hands of older parents, are in vitro babies?

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The Old Nag on the Roof

September 27, 2010

Halfway through the Bible, nearing the New Testament, and women FINALLY get some respect. Well, sort of.

At the end of the proverbs there’s a little shout out to the “Capable Wife.” Capable is a far cry from wonderful, perfect or fantastic, but Biblically, it’s progressive. Five hundred pages before the capable wife, women accused of cheating were cursed with swollen stomachs and shrinking genitals. Now they’re “capable” but only if they adhere to 19 criteria, some of which are grossly outdated.

What 21st Century wife gets up before daylight to feed her husband? Makes bedspreads? Wears clothes of fine purple linen? Spins her own thread and weaves her own cloth? I started ironing my husband’s shirts about a month ago (I do this while watching soaps on Univision) and I already feel dirty and oppressed.

I’m glad things have changed but like it or not, some of the most irksome components of being a “capable wife” have carried over into the 21st Century. For example, we’re still expected to “speak with gentle wisdom” and if we don’t, men automatically revert back to another “female” quality addressed in the Bible — Nagging.

The Bible says it’s:

“Better to live on a roof than share the house with a nagging wife.”

“Better to live in the desert than with a nagging, complaining wife.”

And, that “a nagging wife is like water going drip-drip-drip on a rainy day. How can you keep her quiet? Have you ever tried to stop the wind or ever tried to hold a handful of oil?”

I think men have kicked the sleeping on the roof option, but many men use a particularly well-known desert spot — Las Vegas — to escape nagging wives. They also can’t figure out how to make the nagging stop. I was shocked by the sheer volume of nagging wife self help sites on web. My favorite is “The Best Ways To Deal With These Nag Nag Nag Wife Creatures,” which suggests men avoid the nagging by finding a “hobby,” going “out to the pub,” laughing “at her nagging face” or, my personal favorite, slapping her “in the face with a piece of candy floss.”

The teensy crumb of credit given to women in the proverbs is paltry, but that’s not what bothers me. I’m bothered by the fact that modern women have dropped silly “capable wife” requirements such as weaving cloth, spinning thread and wearing fine purple linen, but men still adhere to the idea of women as nags.

Nagging is saying something over and over again. Correct? That’s interesting because nagging is addressed over and over again in the proverbs. Capable women are not.

Stopping Point: Ecclesiastes (whole thing)

I consider gossip and argument spectator sports. I’m not a complete heathen. I have some ground rules. If either are violent or cruel, I’m out. But if they’re funny or true, I’ll stick around for at least the first quarter.

The proverbs speak out against both, making it very difficult to resolve this weekend’s unsolicited rub up.

Gossip: The Rub Up

Proverb: “Gossip is spread by wicked people; they stir up trouble and break up friendships.”

This past weekend, I attended an out-of-town wedding. It was great until a woman I barely know decided to feel me up. She was hammered, I’ll give her that, but her approach wasn’t of the I’m-wasted-I-love-you-can-I-put-my-head-on-your-shoulder variety. It was creepy and way too sexual.

The incident occurred the night before the wedding. I was peacefully watching people slip into drunken comas when out of nowhere, this woman was next to me, giving me “I want to take you home eyes.” Then she gave me a sideways hug, which was fine until her hand very aggressively moved from my waist to the outside of my breast, squeezing as it went. I didn’t want to cause a scene so I scurried away and hid from her for the rest of the evening.

The next morning, I told my husband, another family member and a good friend about the experience. One suggested I confront her and one suggested I tell the bride and groom about the incident. Not wanting to disturb the wedding or “break up friendships,” I refused to do either. But one of the three people I told spilled the beans to some other family members so technically, I gossiped.

I blew the entire proverb, but what was I supposed to do?

Fighting: Duking it Out on Facebook

Proverb: “The start of an argument is like the first break in a damn; stop it before it goes any further.”

A few of you have asked me to elaborate on the division between my sister and myself. Well, I can’t pinpoint the moment we started falling apart, but a Facebook fight really escalated the situation. My sister is as closed mouth as a Columbian drug dealer so when she changed her Facebook relationship status to “in a relationship with Blank,” I contacted her (no response) and then Facebook stalked her new boyfriend, eventually sending him a very nice message.

“Hi, I’m Amy’s sister. I heard you’re dating. Please tell me about yourself.”

He immediately replied and we started chatting about insignificant things — baseball teams, U.S. cities, etc. Then my sister sent a text asking me “not to contact her boyfriend” because her relationship is “non of my business.

Apparently such a status is the business of every person on Facebook except for me. My sister and I argued via text until our fingers hurt. Then we stopped talking to each other.

Again, I killed another proverb but what was I supposed to do? Stop an argument I didn’t start and render myself helpless?

The Gossip/Argument Pitfall

According to the proverbs I gossiped about the rub up and forgot to stick my finger in the damn of the Facebook fight. Since I’ve already gossiped about the rub up, should I go ahead and cause a fight by discussing it with the woman and the bride and groom?

If I’d read these proverbs before the wedding, I could have avoided gossip and argument by just keeping my big mouth shut. But I don’t think that’s healthy and am fearful for those who follow both of those proverbs.

For me, the rub up wasn’t a huge deal. I’m an adult. I could have said something, punched her, whatever. But, what about little kids? If they’re molested in any sense and their parents ask them to live according to the Bible, how do they get around the gossip/fighting conundrum?

They can’t talk without gossiping or confront without causing a rift. I suppose their only alternative is to quietly suffer. I wonder how God would feel about that.

Stopping Point: Proverbs 22-31

Note: By some miraculous miscalculation, I’m head of my reading schedule and will be finishing psalms next week.

In a game of Connect the Dots, the Bible creates a path between knowledge and wisdom, all roads leading to God. Higher education does the same, providing a knowledge/wisdom umbrella for the public to stand beneath while clinging to the idea of absorption by affiliation.

The Bible alone does not provide wisdom and higher education alone does not result in knowledge, yet people all over the world hope that by affixing themselves to one, they’ll leave the world smart and happy.

According to proverbs 1-15, I am incapable of being wise because I don’t believe in God. OK. We’ll work with that for a second.  Since anyone can believe in God, let’s look at how this might apply to social outcasts such as sexual offenders. Suppose half of the country’s sexual offenders and serial rapists believe in God. Technically, they’re on the road to wisdom, especially if they also happened to listen to their parents.

Part of the Bible’s road to wisdom requires kids to listen to their parents, to “do what you’re father tells you.”

Another proverb says:

“Son, pay attention to what your father and mother tell you. Their teaching will improve your character as a handsome turban or a necklace improves your appearance.”

According to conducted a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s William C. Holmes, “40 percent of sexual offenders and 76 percent of serial rapists report they were sexually abused as youngsters.”

I can’t imagine that every offender was molested by his/her parent however, it’s likely that several were. If a child molester believes in the Lord and follows the action of his parents, which happen to include molestation, is he/she wise? This gets a little messy.

So does knowledge and wisdom as defined by universities. In the U.S., “educated” generally means “has a college degree.” I am “educated.” My parents are not. When they were my age, they operated a very successful company. I am not. While they may be successful, I am knowledgeable. I was wise enough to pay a shit load of money for a piece of paper I’ve already lost and would never hang on my wall, they were not.

Because they missed the university, my parents didn’t have the resources to conduct wise research like this Michigan State University (MSU) study titled: “Spouses do not grow more alike, study finds.”

Because these researchers attended some university, adding lots of little dots and letters to the end of their names, they can do these types of things. After all, they’re paid to believe knowledge and wisdom directly lead to The University.

Hilariously, these proverbs promise deep, restful sleep for those who are wise. My insomnia doesn’t kick in after a rousing episode of Jersey Shore, it starts with a New Yorker article about the Haitian election; gathers steam fueled by Koch Industries; and, by the time the new gold rush hits, it eviscerates any chance of REM.

Clearly I was misled. I thought I was seeking knowledge by making judgments based on information from many sources when in fact, I should have been looking for a big, comfy umbrella.

Stopping Point: Proverbs 15-30

I don’t have children and am rather uncomfortable around anything incapable of supporting its own head, but I love kids between the ages of “I don’t understand norms” and “Anything’s possible.”

Kids are scarce in my little world, which is why my triple threat kid weekend was a bit of an anomaly. I went on a small trip to Colorado. While there, I visited my sister’s third grade class. Every time I go, my sister ends up translating kid speak. Linguistically I speak the same language as the kids, but I operate from a series of social templates and they do not, which is why I have a hard time understanding their dialogue. Here’s a snippet of our most recent q and a.

Student 1: “When is your birthday?”

Me: “August first. So, I just had a birthday.”

Student 2: “Have you ever been stung by a bee?”

Me: “Yes. I actually got stung by a bee a few weeks ago.”

Student 3: “I got stung by a bee eight times on my face.”

Me: “Ow.” (Awkward)

Student 4: “When is your next birthday?”

I asked student 4 to repeat the question. Then I asked him to repeat it again. And then my sister stepped in.

“Her next birthday is next year. A long time from now.”

“Oh.” The rest of the class nodded. To them the question was entirely reasonable and the answer satisfactory, but it took me a minute to expunge expected inquiries about my job, my family, my hobbies, my background, and open to unexpected, interesting subjects such as airplanes.

“Are the seats on the airplane comfortable?”

“Can you eat on the plane?”

“What kind of flowers grow in Michigan?”

“Have you ever ridden a horse?”

“Do you want to hear us sing the continent song?”

I consider myself to be fairly creative and open to new ideas, but these kids made me think. Most adults ignore imaginative freedoms until they disappears. Those that don’t spend a lifetime battling classification. This is the 21st Century gridlock: Imagination vs. Stagnation.

Right now innovators, early adaptors and indefinables are pushing corporations, industries, bureaucracy, churches, government and municipalities to view the world while dangling upside down on monkey bars. In America, an upside question mark doesn’t mean anything, so it could mean everything. We could ask why someone would want graffiti on an abandon building; poop digesters in a park; or candles that automatically turn off or we could see what they do.

I don’t agree with a lot of the psalms, but I happen to love this piece. Kids are the greatest gift. Maybe if they were tall enough to see over a boardroom table, we would listen to them.

Stopping Point: Proverbs 1-14

Burn Baby Burn

September 13, 2010

Apparently Colorado is the fourth axis of evil. As per usual, the state is up in flames. Within one week, three major fires broke out along the Front Range. The Boulder fire destroyed 166 homes and is now 87 percent contained. Yesterday, Loveland went up in smoke thanks to a few idiots who failed to snub out a campfire (does Smokey the Bear, the fuzzy guy that indicates FIRE DANGER at every trailhead ring a bell?) Ten percent of the Loveland fire is contained though 700-acres are already toast. We’ve got another one rolling in somewhere around Lyons but as of yet, it isn’t big enough for the front page.

Fires are common in Colorado. It’s a dry state — lives have been lost in water right wars — the pine beetle infestation has turned the state into a tinderbox and residents overpopulate but that’s not the only reason Colorado’s on fire. Coloradans are heathens. And what does God do with heathens? He burns them up.

Psalms 72 through 106 summarize other books, which I’m not particularly fond of, but the reading did open my eyes to the heathen/fire theme. The smell of ash, a three-minute Wikepedia read and Swiss cheese logic lead me to this conclusion: Colorado is burning because it’s a heathen state.

The Evidence:

1. “At 25%, Colorado also has an above average proportion of citizens who claim no religion. The U.S. average is 17%.” — Wikipedia

2. “The Rocky Mountain region has the highest suicide rate in the country. Colorado’s suicide rate at 17.3/100,000 was over 1.5 times the national rate at 11.0/100,000 in 2004, which makes it 6th highest in the nation at roughly 720 deaths each year from suicide (Minino, Heron, Murphy, & Kochanek, 2007).” — Colorado State University Extension

Coloradans don’t like God and, even though they’re educated, blessed with copious amounts of sunshine and gifted with unlimited recreational opportunities, they kill themselves. Heathens.

I am a Coloradan and a heathen. So is my brother. Last night I read him some psalms. After two pages, he put down his graffiti art book and said:

“I’m going to shower because this is too painful for me.”

When he returned, I continued my reading. His response:

“I actually have stuff to do now and I can’t have God chirping in my ear.”

We heathens find this stuff hysterical. Others find it offensive. Unfortunately for the rest of the country, us Colorado heathens are headed for greener, wetter ground. I moved to Michigan 2,081 days ago and my brother and his girlfriend are on their way to Alaska, but we know not what we do. We’re putting our selfish needs before the safety of these beautiful states. Instead of bringing our curse to Michigan or Alaska, we should take two-year mission trips to uglier, flatter states. Naturally God’s wrath would follow us to places such as Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma thereby ridding this country of some major eyesores. I believe that if all Coloradans made this two-year sacrifice, God would forgive us for our self-serving ways, lift the curse and stop these dreadful fires.

But, who the hell wants to live in Oklahoma?

Stopping Point: More Psalms (sigh)

Freshman. Those cute, idealistic 17 and 18-year-olds that falsely believe a college acceptance letter is an invitation to four years of freedom, experimentation, sex and some education. (Five years seems to be the norm). Watching them bumble around campus makes me feel old — the boys are, for the most part, hairless and concave — but they also bring me back to the Bible.

Many factions of the religious community are desperately trying to bring young people back to the church (If you need “facts,” click the USA Today link and Crossexamined.org). In fact, this weekend marks the annual National Back to Church Sunday, which seeks the obvious — increasing congregants.

Some people think liberal professors, outside influences and parents are to blame for the fleeing youth. I made my own uninformed judgments in “Dusting Off the Pew,” but really, we all just need to chill out, read the Psalms and watch college students. We all return to our roots. We’re all boomerangers. Some boom to God, others boom to parents but the four-step process is essentially the same.

1. The Separation

Man leaves God. Kid leaves parents. Both feel the same. They just have different experiences.

Psalm: “All of my bones are out of joint; my heart is like melted wax. My throat is as dry as dust and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.”

(If you do not understand how this relates to college, please view the video below).

Psalm: “Because I have been foolish, my sores stink and rot.”

(“I was wasted” is a poor excuse)

Psalm: “You love to hurt people with your words, you liar!”

(Texts from Last Night)

2. The Discovery

Like the man in the psalms, college students also explore. They trend away from Christianity and harp playing and toward Buddhism, hallucination and guitars.

Psalm: “Indeed every living man is no more than a puff of wind, no more than a shadow.”

(Keep puffing)

Psalm: “See what happens to those who trust in themselves, the fate of those who are satisfied with their wealth — they are doomed to die like sheep.”

(Facebook?)

Psalm: “I will never be deflated.”

(Enjoy your senior year)

3. The Revelation

Biblically, this is when the fallen tear their clothes and stop washing their hair.  Academics refer to this as “graduation” or “defeat.”

Psalm: “Wake up and punish the heathen.”

(Get a job).

4. The Return

One is back to God, the other is back in the basement.

Psalm: “I have trusted in you since I was young. I have relied on you all my life; you have protected me since the day I was born. I will always praise you.”

(Can I please live here until the economy rebounds?)

Psalm: “I cling to you, and your hands keep me safe.”

(I need food and gas money)

In some capacity, we all return to our roots be it location, religion or politics but as my mother would say, be careful what you wish for.

“…a survey of last year’s college graduation class showed that 80 percent moved back home after getting their diplomas, up significantly from the 63 percent in 2006. The CollegeGrad.com survey of 2,000 young people showed that seven in 10 said they would live at home until they found a job.” — Huffington Post

Boomerangers: Meet College Grads Who Have Moved Back Home (VIDEO)

(College graduate Sarah Allen talks about life at home. Worth watching.)

Church leaders. Do you really think you can accommodate an 80 percent increase in congregants? How big is your basement?

Stopping Point: More Psalms

Editor’s Note: This particular entry is loosely based on my experiences  at the University of Colorado, which ranked No. 11 on “Princeton Review’s Top Party Colleges for 2010.” Whoop! Just kidding. It’s a fiction tale based on the formative years of my CU sorority sisters.

No Laboring

September 6, 2010

In honor of Labor Day, yet another American holiday I celebrate without context, I will not post again until Wednesday, Sept. 8. I mean, everyone needs a break.

Happy Labor Day!

The Prickly Psalms

September 1, 2010

When I was about eight and my sister was getting comfortable riding a bike sans training wheels, my mom took us for a bike ride. My sister was slowing me down so after a few blocks I, Ms. High and Mighty reigning from the seat of a pink and teal Schwinn, began imitating my sister, largely focusing on her stability efforts. As I swiveled in front of her — one handed mind you — I laughed and taunted. Then I hit an uneven piece of the sidewalk with such force that my handle bars inverted, a consequence that went unnoticed until I stopped crying, accepted the massive hole in my knee, started riding again, approached a stop sign and tried to brake. Unable to find the brakes in time, I sort of toppled onto the grass.

My sister was horrified. She didn’t even laugh though I would have doubled over had the same happened to her. She felt bad but I blamed the crash on her anyway, accusing her of using special mental powers to knock me down.

Now of course, I don’t believe my sister willed me to fall off of that bike. At that point in time she was too sweet to do something like that. Today she might will it. Not because we’re falling away from each other, but because she’s an adult. Trained to be polite, I believe we adults are much more prone to waste time making enemies by hoping bad things happen to random people. For some reason we think it’s OK to us our intellect to hurt people.

These first 20 psalms are morose and, in my opinion, a real insight into how much time adults spend holding onto negative energy. In these psalms we don’t know who is speaking to God (it seems to be a fill in the blank situation), but this person continually asks God to punish his enemies. Can God protect him against his enemies? Kill his enemies? Punish his enemies and at least three additional generations of enemies? I’m sorry, but if you’ve got God’s ear, why go on and on about enemies? How can a person have so many enemies and what the hell happened to world peace?

When I started this blog, I couldn’t think of anyone I consider an out and out enemy. But that’s because my definition of enemy was too narrow. Yesterday I was nearly run over by an individual who was biking in my tiny little bike lane on the wrong side of the street. I glared at him and then moved to the inside so he could pass, but he followed suit so I had to swerve again to avoid a major collision. As I zoomed by I thought, “I hope you get hit — not hurt — just shocked, by a car, maybe another biker.” In that moment, that poor guy who may have been British, drunk or high, became my enemy.

I doubt a child would have acted similarly. They probably would have laughed and moved on. I cursed and wasted 20 minutes of my own time willing destruction.

It’s bothersome that the unnamed person in psalms 1-20 has so many enemies, but I think I understand how it happens. Potential enemies are everywhere. Customer service rep. Check. Mailman. Check. Cyclist. Check. Hippie. Check. Barking dog. Check. Etc.

When I fell from that Schwinn I immediately got what I deserved. Eye for an eye. But when are all of my enemies’ ill wishes going to fall down on me? I suppose that will be the day I revisit psalms 1-20.

“Lord, please protect me from my enemies. Hide me in your wings. Oppose them. Punish them. For now, they are upon me.”

Stopping Point: Psalms 21-41

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