I try not to celebrate the raping and pillaging of other cultures however, Thanksgiving 2010 was fantastic. Good food, wonderful family, the Book of John and Jorianne, the Coffee Psychic.

For five days, I had access to three guideposts — family, religion and the occult. They all said the same thing: Have faith. It will all work out.

But as Jesus and Jorianne demonstrate, it’s extraordinarily difficult to know without seeing and do without knowing.

Jesus says: “None of you will ever believe unless you see miracles and wonders.”

Jorianne says: “You’re being pulled in two and you don’t know which way to go.”

All true but Jorianne’s coffee/tarot reading provided something more tangible than the Bible. That doesn’t mean I’m going to make any decisions, but I’m more comfortable with the idea of not doing anything, which is something.

Some are as skeptical of psychics as I am the Bible, but Jorianne knew about my foot surgery and stomach issues without my saying a word. But, as with the Bible, her visions are open to interpretation and I’ll take what I want and leave the rest.

My Life According to Jorianne

My stomach issues involve female organs, possibly a collapsed uterus. (I’m sorry. This is foul. The uterus should never be discussed, not even on ThumpMe.)

My U will be righted soon and then I’ll start cranking out kids, likely twins. (Multiples run in my dad’s family. Damn.)

Don’t trust Michael. (Who?)

Go back to school. (No.)

Though I don’t eat sweets I like wine, which is “OK” for me. (Thank God. I can check alcoholism off my list of worries).

There’s something with the Coast Guard. (I like ripped men and can’t swim…)

I will meet a Dimitri or Demetrius, possibly in a work setting, possibly a doctor. He will be a positive influence, role model and man of great integrity.

An imposter is threatening my safety.

I will travel a lot this summer. (Yes. And it will involve unshaven men and rigs.)

I will travel to many “weird” places, including Iceland. It will take my writing to a whole new level. (Totally down.)

She mentioned the Dimitri/Demetrius thing multiple times, which is fascinating because I’ve never met either. She also said “If you need time, be by yourself for a while and sort things out,” which is interesting because this is my only plan for 2011.

I’ll also “make the correct choice” and am hanging around someone who is “not willing to make sacrifices, is self-centered, conceited, has little regard for others, only for themselves,” which answers one question.

Jorianne is a modern day prophet. Like prophets, psychics predict events. People listen to the predictions they like and ignore those they don’t.

So, in taking what I want from Jorianne, this is what will happen. When I return from my island of self-discovery Dimitri, the Coast Guard surgeon, will fix my womb so I can travel to weird places and raise a brood of twins. In Iceland I’ll open a vineyard and, since I’ll have a PhD, I’ll do what all PhDs and writers do — sit on my ass and think all day.

Sounds pretty good. Now I just need to find Dimitri. Casting call starts today.

Stopping Point: The Acts of the Apostles

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Happy Thanksgiving

November 24, 2010

We’re headed to Chicago for Thanksgiving (feel free to rob my house, we’re insured) so I’m not posting anything substantial today.

Aside from turkey, we’ll be having a family séance and coffee reading. I can’t wait. I’ll let you know my future when I return.

If you’re dying to read something over the holiday, check out these old posts.

Gay David

Gerber Kings

Oh Black Water

Either-Or-Nothing

Finding Faith

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ah, holidays. What could be better?

Holidays were created to celebrate dysfunction. It’s OK. All families are dysfunctional even the “normal” ones — it’s called denial. Don’t stress out about, enjoy it. You’re in good company. Jesus’ family was screwy too.

In the New Testament, four men give a version of the gospel. You can glean anything you want from any of them. I think Matthew is dry, Mark is dark and Luke is wonderful. His writing is interesting and he details good old family pandemonium.

Based on Luke’s account, the following characters likely attended a Jesus family holiday:

Elizabeth — An old woman who owes her unexpected pregnancy to an angel.

Zechariah — Elizabeth’s old, mute husband who sits in a temple to avoid confronting his wife’s “conversation” with the angel that prophesized her pregnancy.

Mary — A young virgin who cannot figure out how she got pregnant. Gosh darn it. I hate when that happens. Wait a minute…

Joseph — A passive-aggressive young man who retaliates against Mary, his pregnant virgin bride, by wrapping her offspring in a blanket and dumping him in a wooden box.

Jesus — The only 12-year-old in history who sneaks out of his parents’ home to help people. An overachiever, he leaves home at 30, which is typical among intellectuals.

John the Baptist — A somewhat bossy old man who throws water at people.

Judas — A traitor.

Martha and Mary — Feuding sisters.

Unfaithful Servants — The thousands of people relegated to the children’s table.

I wish Youtube existed in B.C. I’m sure it would outshine the Griswold Family Christmas freak out.

The Hap Hap Happiest Christmas

*Disclosure. This contains an f-bomb. Sorry. Unavoidable.

Everyone has some tip about how to survive the holidays. They include; keeping alcoholics and drug addicts off the invite list; creating boundaries (good luck to you); making realistic choices; setting low expectations; committing to a four-day food coma; and viewing life as a series of absurdities.

Jesus says “…a family divided against itself falls apart,” which is a fancy way of advising families to stick together.

I, on the other hand, advise a light heart and saturated liver.

Strap in. The race begins Thursday.

Stopping Point: The Gospel According to John

I should write about suicide and sex all the time. They’re huge sellers. That being said, the honesty of yesterday’s post really freaked some people out. Initially it irritated me, but then I realized the reactions reflected our discomfort with honesty. We covet our feelings, our flaws and our desires for fear that others will judge us. Myself included.

Yesterday’s confession was three years late. Why? Because it’s easier to talk about things that are embarrassing or emotionally intense once they’re in the past. Way in the past.

In short, we’re often ashamed to be human, which is why I like Jesus. He encourages honesty and introspection. He also allows us to forgive ourselves for being human.

Unfortunately God gets all the glory. All I ever hear is “Dear God” or “Thank you Lord.” God is the one who brings people to their knees. Jesus heals. The Lord hates. Jesus loves. Jesus accepts. God damns. Jesus helped the poor. God damned them (at least in the beginning of the Old Testament, he did the same to foreigners).

Do people pray to Jesus? I’ve heard “In Jesus’ name,” but that doesn’t sound prayer-like to me.

Why does God get all of the kudos? Well, he’s older and we’re taught to respect our elders. He’s also very Hollywood. He loves special effects and doom and gloom. Jesus, on the otherhand, is like an Independent film. Listening to him takes patience. He offers substance.

Last night I tried praying — to Jesus, not God — and instead of peace, I had a horrific nightmare, woke up yelling, knocked water all over my side table and quintupled the width of my favorite short story collection. My hips, back and stomach also seized up, preventing me from cleaning the mess. The dream —family murdered, me living in a house of blood with an invisible killer that suffocated me from time to time — wasn’t what I was looking for, but it made me think. God may have delivered blood and guts, but I don’t know if he would have putt me in the house or subjected me to the invisible killer. Jesus did (maybe) and I’ve been analyzing both all day. How do they pertain to my life? Emotional state? Etc.

I like Jesus, but I think this is a farce: “When  you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for.”

When I sort of prayed, I did not expect physical and mental torture especially because my prayer was altruistic, which is uncommon. Is exorcism a common response to prayer? Is that why everyone prays to God instead of Jesus?

Well, I’ll give Jesus another shot. As for the Lord, adios Dios.

Stopping Point: Book of Luke

Family Meeting

November 16, 2010

Family meetings. Everyone has them. It’s time for ours.

You’re pushing back — rightly so — regarding yesterday’s emotional cop out. Why can’t/won’t I dig deeper into the New Testament? Why not examine it and myself more critically? Etc.

You’ve gotten to know me a bit through this blog, but I’m fairly good at hiding behind words. I mean my profile picture is a llama or an alpaca. Who can tell? I’ve never met the young woman on the masthead. I told you I hate Miracle Whip, am offended by Tex-Mex and wear contacts but what do you really know about me?

Time for some honesty. Right now I’m going through some stuff I cannot write about because it affects too many people. This is not a cop out. Actually, it would be easier for me to write about the situation. You know the relief you feel when you’re sick to your stomach and you finally vomit? That’s what happens when I write.

Believe me, I want to write about this. It would be a redemption of sorts but I can’t. My motives aren’t selfish. I’m not holding back to protect myself. In fact, let me lay out a few things that, until now, have been reserved for very close friends. This will make you pity me, hate me, distrust me, fear me, but it’s honesty, proof I don’t fear exposure, evidence that I want to be honest in this quest. Two things: I’ve had my stomach pumped twice and three years ago, I slit my wrist.

Two things got me through: Love and writing. If I were to write about the current situation, I would feel better but everyone else would feel worse. So it’s not an excuse, it’s just what it is. Bear with me on the New Testament. OK?

If you looked through the hole in my head, you’d see these are the scriptures (is that what they’re called?). Maybe they’ll provide more insight…

Scriptures (or whatevs)

“Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye?”

“Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it.”

“To have good fruit you must have a healthy tree; if you have a poor tree, you will have bad fruit.”

“Anything that goes in a person’s mouth goes into his stomach and then out of his body. But the things that come out of his mouth come from the heart, and these are the things that make a person ritually unclean.”

Two other observations

1. Matthew is a much better writer/story teller than Mark though Mark found a use for “sickle” and told a troubling story about dropping a paralyzed guy through a hole in a roof so his book isn’t a complete wash.

2. The parables clearly laid the foundation for 21st Century jokes. Did you hear the one about the 10 girls who took their lamps to a bridegroom? How about the one about the three servants and their coins? Or the one about the sower who sat in a boat? That’s a real side splitter.

I suppose this post is a parable. It’s the only way to explain yesterday’s haze but I believe substance will creep back in.

By the way, do not feel sorry for me. I’m medicated, I have faith this situation will work out (whatever that means) and I’m too old and tired for suicide.

On that note…have an uplifting day!

Stopping Point: Book of Mark, Jesus Feeds 5,000 Men

Not Today

November 15, 2010

I spent half of my teenage years ignoring the physical presence of my parents, their advice and their rules. Incidentally, the other half was spent locked in my room, oppressed by the two ogres who fed me, loved me and saved me from myself.

I’ve finally hit the New Testament and Jesus is sort of like a new parent. Aside from the “why worry about clothes” bit, and the Mary got knocked up by a spirit bit, the overall theme is hitting me. Hard.

I don’t have the capacity to deal with any of this, so I’m just going to ignore it — all of it — revert back to my selfish, smart mouthed, I-know-everything, 15-year-old self and throw myself into my deadlines, which is the adult equivalent of  being locked in my room.

It’s a total cop out as is my unwillingness to discuss the reasons for this emotional shut off. But honestly Jesus, I just can’t hear it today. I don’t want to hear about good people or forgiveness or doing what’s right or being happy. Please just shh.

Shhh (austin powers)

Rest assured, I took a lot of notes. Maybe when I resume Matthew tomorrow I’ll feel like more of an adult. I bet if someone took away my computer and my work, I would be forced to act my age and deal with the issues at hand but it’s easier to keep working and ignoring life. Correct? FYI, I’m only seeking answers from those born in the 1990s.

Stopping Point: Matthew, The Parable of the Wedding Feast

Impatiently Waiting

November 10, 2010

Today I could use a priest, maybe a monk. Two reasons.

1. The prophets are jumping from century to century, kingdom to kingdom and it’s confusing.

2. The prophets have been going on and on about this end of the world situation. God recommends people “just wait” as if it’s easy to ignore an overly hyped apocalypse. I can’t wait for anything because I’m human, I’m American and I’m managing opposing…I want to say personalities but that makes me sound like a psycho. IDs? Can priests address that?

There’s a lot of stuff going on in my life (as if everyone else is at the beach pounding margaritas) and I want everything wrapped up. I want answers. I want decisions. A good friend of mine suggested I “be still and listen,” which is like telling a crack addict to sip tea while reading Thomas Friedman’s “From Beirut to Jerusalem.”

I’m trying but it’s hard to listen when I’ve got Ms. Type A in one ear and this spontaneous, free spirited pixie in the other.

The contrast between these personalities is reflected in my office. I have 10 running to-do lists; a file folder of more than 200 fiction and non-fiction story ideas; two novels in-process; a list of life goals (often conflicting); and a list of quarterly goals. That’s the military side. The creative side painted the walls bright blue, hung art and covered a large bookcase with all sorts of randomness including graduation tassels (what?); journals; dried lavender; sports medals (who cares?); an original Betty Crocker cookbook; useless press passes; a typewriter; and a tooth, likely human.

I worry that if I fail to balance these identities, I’ll either end up like Dr. Leo Marvin, an uptight goal-oriented therapist who helps his patient, Bob, learn to appreciate life while his own falls apart, or The Dude, a happy burnout who loves White Russians and women named Bunny.

Thenali and What About Bob part 2/2

Big Lebowski Crash Scene

God expects his people to patiently wait for the end of the world. We don’t hear from the people, but we hear from the prophets who swing between Dr. M and The Dude. None of them are in the middle. None of them are “just waiting.” They’re either freaking out (type A) or calmly relaying God’s message (pixie). If the prophets can’t balance Dr. M and The Dude, how am I supposed to? Just wait?

Stopping Point: The Book of Malachi

Sexy Nine

November 9, 2010

I’m not a mathematician, but I crunched some numbers during Leviticus and according to young God, humans can have sex nine times during a 30-day month. Max. If the stars don’t align and a woman has her period during those nine days, the in-laws are visiting, or someone has a headache, sayonara pillow talk.

How then, does human kind make it to 600 B.C.? After centuries of war and a nine-day sex window, how the hell did humans survive and have enough resources to repopulate?

Maybe after eviscerating his people a few times, God conducted a census and changed his mind. He does it all the time.

When I did my days-of-sex count, God punished his people by draping them in sackcloth and drawing their hair over their eyes. In the Book of Micah and the Book of Nahum, God punishes people by having them run around naked. I’ve never lived in a nudist colony (visited one, fascinating and shriveled), but I assume the propensity for sexual interaction is greater when people walk around in the buff — any collision could result in attachment.

It’s too bad we can’t choose who follows God’s nine-day sex rule. Unfortunately, most people can procreate (cringe).

Right now one of the “hot topics” on American newsreels is a presidential miscarriage. Our former president, W., had someone write a book for him and in it he talks about the time he saw his mother’s miscarried fetus.

According to the Christian Post, “He unexpectedly saw the remains of the human fetus that his mother saved to bring to the hospital” and “acknowledged that moment also contributed to his pro-life view.”

I’m so traumatized by this, I really don’t know what to say other than there must be some rational behind the nine-day rule. Imagine how many more Bushes there would be if God allowed sex all month! Yikes!

Because part of me is a 15-year-old male, I had to include this. I also grew up in the 90s so I have a thing for Salt-N-Pepa. Enjoy.

Spindarella cut it up one time…

Salt N Pepa – Let’S Talk About Sex (The Original)

Stopping Point: The Book of Zephaniah

Stand in an elevator facing the people, not the door. Be middle class, refuse an education. Stare. Be honest. Don’t mow your lawn. End a conversation because it’s boring. Loaf. Say what you mean. Wear flip-flops to meetings. Follow your dreams. Deviate.

Last week I spent about 30 minutes staring at a German schizophrenic. He was sitting across from me on a train to the Dusseldorf Airport. Everyone else avoided him, presumably because they understood his shouts and murmurs, which must have been offensive as everyone moved away from him immediately.

He asked me if I spoke English. I pretended I didn’t giving both of us the freedom to gawk. He smelled, as homeless people tend to do, but as I’ve said before, I have this smelling thing. Good or bad, it’s an unappreciated sense. We’re taught not to stare at people particularly people who are down on their luck, those we’re taught to ignore. But because I was in a foreign country and incapable of understanding this fascinating man, I was uninhibited by the social norms that would have turned me from him at home.

I’m catching up on my Bible reading, just whizzed through the Book of Hosea and the Book of Jonah. Hosea is a softie who does everything God tells him to do including staying with a cheating wife, and Jonah does what he pleases but eventually goes back to God. Why do they do this? Because they’re supposed to. They’re told to go back to God. It’s the thing to do. It relieves guilt, consummates loyalty. It’s the norm.

So anyone who adheres to norms gets a pass but who creates those norms and why do we follow?

I don’t know who creates them (sociologist please), but we follow them because the repercussions for breaking social norms are difficult to endure. In some cases, the pressure expounded on these social outliers is so great it leads to suicide.

Unfortunately norms are homogenizing, they keep us from entertaining what we want to do and encourage us to criticize those who do differently.

I’m young(ish) so I’m supposed to network. I hate it. Listening to uninteresting, self-righteous professionals talk about their accomplishments is torturous. All I ever want to say is, “You’re uninteresting and I hope I never spend one more second with you even if you are one of the most ‘successful’ young professionals in the region.” But that’s rude. So I don’t network. I keep my mouth shut, fall in line.

Yesterday I watched “Meet the Press,” which always causes heartburn. Sen. Jim DeMint (R/Tea Party-S.C.) was asked how to right our country’s debt so we don’t have to raise the $1.4 TRILLION debt cap (shiver). Does he want to raise taxes? Cut spending? He said we can do both but refused to explain exactly how that might work. Due to time constraints, what have you, he got a pass.

We take this stuff in stride, take our grievances to the ballot box — what a joke — and accept these non-answers. I’d like to go live with a suggestion to waterboard politicians — a small incentive for details — but I don’t because of the kickback. The last time I said something moderately controversial in a blog titled “Please Just Shut the F%*& Up,” a narcissistic Midwestern mayor got himself in a tizzy, complicating my job for about a month. (If you’re interested in this piece, let me know. I’ll send you an email.) On this one, the personal repercussions were minimal, but because I cantered outside of the norm and spoke my mind rather than following the path of the “objective journalist,” I couldn’t access resources I needed. Really? Because of an opinion? Perhaps a new(ish) idea?

I give major props to columnists and individuals who put their opinions out there without any excuses. Since we’re so politically correct and hold so tightly to this idea of being normal, this is a rarity. We don’t like to rock the boat or confront the mighty social norms.

So, did Hosea and Jonah profess loyalty to God because it was easy? Is religion a norm? Do people do it because it’s easy, because they’re afraid of social repercussions? Before getting defensive, think about it. Do what I do. Tell people — without apologizing — that you don’t believe in God or go to Church. My guess is that the person will either pity you or try to save your soul. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not normal.

(Interesting side note: “Are Independent Thinkers Mentally Ill?”)

Stopping Point: The Book of Micah

*FYI, I’ll be publishing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I need to make up for last week’s absence.

Catholic Holiday

November 1, 2010

Catholic Germans consider today a holiday. Since I’m in Germany and do not have the Old Testament with me, I’m going to do the same.

Though I can’t move forward on the Bible, I had a religious experience in an airport. I saw a nun, which reminded me of my great aunt who lived in a nunnery until she met a man and became a swinger.

Not only does this exemplify religious conversion, it’s also a love story.

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