Thursday, December 27, 2007

2007 Quote Review

I thought with only 4 more days left in this year it was probably safe to go ahead and post my annual quote review. So here they are, my favorite quotes from 2007:

First, the silly stuff:

  • So, if you want to get some salt water fish, I could go take a bath in your bathtub. ~ Velma
  • I'll take it any way I can get it from you... I meant in regard to cookies. ~ me
  • I hate Pine trees because you can’t run barefoot in the yard. They have all those needles and they stab you in the foot and I take it personally. ~ me
  • I have this thing that I don’t do and it’s, like, tell the truth. ~ Velma
  • Everything’s pointy when you’re naked. ~ Cuthbert
  • Jesus is the way, the truth, and the Calvin Klein Obsession. ~ Cuthbert
  • If I ever get indignant at your house I’m going to put my hands in my pockets and go, “Poof, poof, poof!” ~ Cuthbert
  • And some days, I get drop kicked. ~ Mia
  • Wait! I’m gonna protest you killing me. I’m gonna write my congressman! ~ Cuthbert
  • Aren’t those the healthy cigarettes? ~ Dana
  • I think it was C.S. Lewis. No, maybe it was Oprah. ~ me
  • You’ll have to pee by the light of the shower. I think Meat Loaf had a song about that. ~ Cuthbert
  • I thought about being a mountain climber today and moving to a place that has mountains because I really like mountain climbing... apparel. ~ Velma
  • There’s no place like rehab! There’s no place like rehab! ~ I don’t know who said this, but it was during the passaround story with Britney Spears’ golden I-don’t-give-a-fuck scissors!
  • When something tragic happens… or butter. ~ Mia
  • Even at an early age I knew what it was like not to have a star on my belly. ~ me
  • She really wasn’t down with me spitting in her mouth. ~ Velma
  • Nobody drop kicks my sister! ~ my 5 year old nephew

Then, the serious stuff:

  • There is no such thing as a happy ending. I never met a single one to equal ‘Once upon a time’. Endings are heartless. Ending is just another word for goodbye. ~ Stephen King; The Dark Tower
  • I never want to have something that’s just mine. ~ Mia
  • Life, liberty, and the pursuit of more stuff. ~ Cuthbert’s rant on consumerism
  • It made him feel very small, and he supposed there was nothing wrong with that. In the scheme of things, he was very small. ~ Stephen King; The Waste Lands
  • I’m just waiting for the church to die so that church can happen. ~ Cuthbert
  • Does not man, perhaps, love something besides well being? Perhaps he is just as fond of suffering. Perhaps suffering is just as great a benefit to him as well being? Man is sometimes, extraordinarily, passionately in love with suffering, and that is a fact. ~ Dostoyevsky; Notes From Underground
  • Storytelling always changes time. At least it does in my world. ~ Stephen King; Wizard and Glass
  • Church is where you can capitalize on Jesus’ admonission to love, fuckin love. ~ Cuthbert
  • I write not to stop my mind from thinking, but because I can’t stop it. Writing at least produces some fruit from the labor of compulsive thinking. ~ Brian McLaren
  • If I have a choice between the kind of trouble that comes from too much passion or the kind that comes from too little, my choice will be easy ~ Brian McLaren
  • One of the most tragic things ever to happen to the gospel was the emergence of the message that Jesus takes us somewhere else if we believe in him. ~ Rob Bell; Velvet Elvis
  • If you can control your emotions, chances are you don’t have too many. ~ Douglas Coupland; JPod
  • Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that, because the world needs people who have come alive. ~ Relevant Mag
  • Maybe the Bible’s not the final word. Maybe God’s not done speaking to humanity. ~ Cuthbert
  • One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting everyone else to give it up. ~ C.S. Lewis
  • The more one respects Jesus, the more one must be brokenhearted, embarrassed, furious, or some combination thereof when one considers what we Christians have done with Jesus. ~ Brian McLaren; A Generous Orthodoxy
  • Having guests and visitors, if we do it right, is not an imposition, because we are not meant to rearrange our lives for our guests – we are meant to invite our guests to enter into our lives as they are. ~ Lauren Winner; Mudhouse Sabbath
  • Excess is its own punishment. ~ Douglas Coupland; Polaroids From the Dead
  • It is not so much the suffering but the senselessness of it that is unendurable. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
  • You rarely defend the things you love. You enjoy them and tell others about them and invite others to enjoy them with you. ~ Rob Bell; Velvet Elvis
  • We are not just called to be candles. We are called to be fire. ~ Shane Claiborne; The Irresistible Revolution

Feel free to grab these quotes and use them whenever appropriate... or, er, I guess some of them won't ever be exactly appropriate.... but you know what I mean, right? Hopefully 2008 will hold many more great quotations! I look forward to discovering them with you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Trees & Orange Prison Jumpsuits

This weekend my family went to pick out Christmas trees. I say ‘trees’, as in ‘more than one tree’, because this sort of excursion involves multiple households now that my sister and myself are on our own. What was once a short family excursion to find one perfect tree* has now turned into a three ring circus with five or more of us running around like crazy trying to figure out how many trees we need, how we will ever locate this number of perfect trees, and how we are going to load them all up on the same truck so that they don’t fall off into the road on the way home and so that we are able to remember whose tree is whose by the time we get home.

*The idea of the perfect tree differs from person to person. While everyone else wants a nice, tall, full tree I always feel sorry for the straggly, Charlie Brown looking trees off in the corner being peed on by wild animals. For this reason, and because of my choice of pets who tend to have, uh, how do you say, some challenges, my husband has forbidden me from adopting any children, as he is afraid I would choose one whose medical issues would put us into bankruptcy or whose behavioral issues would leave us with yellow crime scene tape fencing off our house from the public. He is probably right. I’m such a sucker, even for sad looking trees.

This year the entourage consisted of my dad, my mom, my sister Velma, my husband D, and myself. We were looking for 4 trees – one for my parents’ house, one for Velma’s house, one for my house, and one for my mother-in-law, who couldn’t join us but was brave enough to trust our judgment in tree purchasing.

In order to get these trees, we headed out to a tree farm that we have frequented for many years. Tree farms are awesome because you can cut your tree down yourself and haul it away. This makes us sedentary Americans who lock ourselves indoors 22 hours a day feel like we are actually participating in nature, even if all we are doing is chopping down a tree with a 4 inch diameter trunk, thus inflating our carbon footprints for the sake of tradition. Also, these trees were $7. Yep, $7. You can’t beat that.

We all gathered at my parents’ house to head out for our annual tree excursion. I walked down to the basement to pick up some things I had left at my parents’ house a few weeks ago. I look up, and my dad is standing on the basement stairs. Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit.

Did you read that? Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit.

A few questions come to mind. First, where did my dad get a prison jumpsuit? Most people don’t just have one lying around. I certainly don’t. And it’s not like you can just go down to the prison jumpsuit store and pick up a few when the urge strikes you. Secondly, why is he wearing the jumpsuit? Even if one landed on my doorstep I would not wear one. Does he think it makes him look more outdoorsy? Maybe he’s worried about hunters not being able to see him (not that I’ve ever seen a hunter at the tree farm). Maybe he fancies that the jumpsuit has a slimming effect? No idea. I have no freakin clue what possessed my dad to don an orange prison jumpsuit, but there he is, standing on the basement stairs, wearing one.

I raise my eyebrows and make eye contact with Velma. She looks at me and suppresses a giggle.

After a long search for the saw (you can’t go tree hunting without a saw, after all) we head out. My parents drive their truck and the rest of us follow in my little Jetta that I’ve named Rollie (pron. Raww-lee). Go, Rollie, go! We keep a camera in the front seat just in case my parents get pulled over. If an officer makes my dad get out of the truck with that orange prison jumpsuit on, we want a picture.

We make small talk on the trip up to the tree farm. My husband laments that there might not be enough trees, as last year the tree supply was severely depleted. He says:

“Watch, we’ll get up there, and there will only be 2 trees.”

To which Velma replies, “Good, we can each have one!”

Um, not sure what kind of math you’re doing, Velma, but last time I checked we were looking for 4 trees to split between 6 people. This frightens me deeply, as Velma works for a Credit Union (not telling you which one!).

We arrive at the tree farm to find that the tree supply is pretty depleted, but there are more than 2 trees. This makes picking out a tree relatively easy, as there aren’t a whole lot to choose from. My dad hikes around in his orange prison jumpsuit. My husband studiously analyzes each tree, keeping tabs on their every characteristic with the Excel spreadsheet that’s going in his head. I look for the weak stragglers, knowing full well that no one is going to let me take them home. Poor little unloved trees.

As Velma begins her hunt for the perfect tree, my husband begins to lecture her on how to make a good tree choice. He tells her you have to look for the 3 T’s of Christmas tree choosing. Um, the 3 T’s? Has anyone ever heard of the 3 T's? I sure haven't, and it takes me about 4 seconds to figure that D is full of shit, and just made that up on the spot because he likes the way it sounds. But, you've got to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, so I ask what the 3 T’s are.

D: “Triangular shape, tightness…”

Me: “Tightness??”

D: “Of the branches” (with a look that says, “of course it’s of the branches, but I don’t expect you to know that”)

Me: “What’s the third T?”

D: “It’s um, uh,… well, um,… (triumphantly) Non-Tipping!!”


That’s not even a word. Oh, and it doesn’t begin with a T – which kind of throws off the whole ‘3 T’s’, theme, but hey, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. It occurs to me to mention that any tree that isn’t currently lying on the ground could be classified as non-tipping, seeing as how it is still standing upright, but then D would accuse me of not having holiday cheer. Whatever. He is having fun, Velma is doing a great job picking out her tree even without perfect alliteration, and overall everything is going well.

Anyhow, we cut down 4 trees. My dad and D haul them back to the truck. My dad looks like he is doing hard labor in a prison camp and D looks like an oversized 5 year old on Christmas morning, practically skipping with his tree in hand (did I mention they were very small trees?). He gets way too excited about the holidays for my taste, but I guess if it makes him happy I’m alright with it. We hauled the trees home without any of them falling out of the truck. My parents didn’t get pulled over and my dad didn’t get mistaken for an escaped convict. We were even able to remember which tree belonged to who when we returned. Overall, it was a successful tree-chopping trip! I’ve even managed to put my tree up and decorate it.

Now, if we could just figure out how to get rid of that orange prison jumpsuit…

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Blog

Thought I'd update with info on a new blog that I'm a part of. My Tuesday Night community has decided to start a community blog. For news on what's going on with each of us, check out Tuesday Night Musings.

Ta ta for now, but I'll be back soon.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Well, guys, I've been broken up with.

Don't be too alarmed. D hasn't gotten too sick of me, and so he's going to keep me around. Or at least let me keep living at the house. If you're still feeling alarmed, just be reassured that this post has absolutely nothing to do with D. Nothing. We're not breaking up. But I was thinking about all the lame breakups I've been through over the years and I suddenly had an urge to list my top ten worst break ups ever. Why? I don't know. I just did. But as I was thinking of my top ten worst breakups ever, I realized that I've been broken up with much more recently than I thought. After all, I've been married for over two years so I can't have been broken up with for awhile, right? Right? Wrong.

In the last year I've been through something I like to call a friendship breakup. What's a friendship breakup? you ask. Well, since you asked, I'll tell you.

See, when you break up with a boyfriend or a girlfriend, you, at some point, make an official declaration that your relationship is no more - that it's not working out or you're growing in different directions or its not them, it's you, or some other crap excuse you make up to basically say you'd rather spend your time alone or with other people than with this particular person. It sucks, but it's a part of life. It's a breakup. You do what you have to do and you move on.

But a friendship breakup is nothing like this. Friendship breakups do not consist of us lamely explaining to people why we can't continue to be friends with them. Friendship breakups are much more slimy and twisted than all of that. There isn't a set of rules for friendship breakups in our society. In our society you either have a knock-out-drag-down brawl in which you scream (or type) obscenities you hope your mother never catches you using and swear you'll never speak to each other again, or your friendship just fades into the unknown and you don't know what's going on for months and months at a time before you finally just figure one day that it's over. At which point, of course, you hear from the potential ex-friend and the cycle starts all over again. These kind of friendship breakups occur with the friends you used to have who aren't really your friends anymore but who you still hear from around the holidays or run into at a grocery story but don't even know what to talk to them about anymore.

These are not to be confused with natural-drift friendships. Natural-drift friendships occur when two friends go off in completely different directions and eventually lose touch, but the moment they re-connect, it’s just like old times. Natural-drift friendships don’t have the awkward quality that friendship breakups have because they seem to happen naturally without a lot of thought and without any guilt on the part of either party. Friendship breakups, on the other hands, produce loads of guilt and self-doubt on one or both parties and leave you stammering random sentences you hope will pass as friendly when you are forced to be in the same room together. You’ll know a friendship breakup when you see one, trust me.

So Christmas is coming and I realized that I haven't spoken to two particular friends of mine since last Christmas. And I remembered that last Christmas I went shopping for gifts for these two friends and ended up standing in the middle of the calender kiosk at the mall fuming mad because I realized I didn't even know these friends well enough to know what they'd want for Christmas anymore. Uh-oh. A friendship breakup appeared imminent. And, given the fact that I haven't spoken to either one of them since, I think it's safe to say that the breakup is probably official.

So what do I do when they call me at Christmas this year?

Ugh. I don't even want to think about it.

But I thought it would be fun to share with you some of the hints I should have taken even before the calender kiosk incident that friendship breakup was imminent.

Hint #1
Potential ex-friend called off our date for the night because her dog puked and she had to clean it up. Um, how long does it take to clean up dog puke? So what she was really saying to me was “I’d draw out the process of cleaning up dog puke from 5 minutes to 3 hours just to avoid hanging out with you”. Ouch.

Hint #2
Potential ex-friend called an hour before we were supposed to hang out to cancel with me so she could go grocery shopping. Translation? "I'd rather grocery shop, which I can do any old night of the week, than get stuck hanging out with you. Produce is more enthralling than you, and the frozen pizza section is more captivating than any single quality you possess." Again, ouch.

So you would think that after several months of unsuccessfully trying to hang out with this friend I would get the hint, right? Wrong again. She stalls, she avoids making plans, she cancels plans, and yet my hopefully niave little self still keeps trying, until the fateful day of hint #3:

Hint #3
Potential ex-friend cancels our date night. I ask her why.

She says, “I can’t hang out with you tonight because I’ve got to stay home and clean my ceiling fan blades.”

Me: "Why?"

ex-friend: "I'm having a party tomorrow.... oh, you're invited if you want."

Needless to say, I didn't go to that party. Oh, and I am officially less interesting than ceiling fan blades. *sigh*

Maybe those friends won't call me at Christmas after all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

iPod Reflections

So I was listening to my iPod (which my husband so graciously purchased for me last Christmas, and which I am finally figuring out how to use) yesterday and I just so happened to come across that old song by The Wallflowers, One Headlight.

Don't you just love The Wallflowers? I do. So much good stuff I can hardly stand it. Also, someone told me the singer is Bob Dylan's son. Does anyone know if that's true? I can almost hear something that sounds like it might be related to Bob Dylan every now and again in that song... who knows?

Anyhow, I was listening to this song, and there has always been one particular part of the song that stands out to me. It is this:

"This place is old
It feels just like a beat up truck
I turn the engine, but the engine doesn't turn
It smells like cheap wine and cigarettes
This place is always such a mess
Sometimes I think I'd like to watch it burn."

I have always loved that part of the song. Random, I know. But here's the thing... want to know why I have always loved that part of the song?

It always feels like it describes some familiar place inside of me - that the guy who may or may not be Bob Dylan's son is singing about some place deep in me.

That's as close as I can get to describing it, and I can't even tell you why it feels this way. It just feels familiar. It feels like coming home. It feels like a part of me. Its like that tired place I retreat to when I can't take anymore. And I treasure that. I really do. I love this song for that - for making me see and love the tired, messy part of me where I go to hibernate.

Weird, huh?

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Last weekend my husband, D, my little sister, Velma, and myself drove up to Sandusky, OH to jump on some of the wildest roller coasters around. Aaahhh, Cedar Point. Who can resist?

Anyhow, on the drive up we suddenly came upon a terrible stench. And a terrible stench like this by the side of the highway can only mean one thing. I'll give you a hint: Black and white and striped and stinky. Ugh.

So we come upon this terrible stench and Velma leans up from the back seat of the car where she has been relaxing, crinkles her nose and says:

"I think somebody hit a shark!"

I look back at Velma, and promptly start laughing my ass off:

"A shark?"

Velma: "Don't they have the same number of letters?"

Me: (counting on fingers while mouthing the spelling of 'shark' & 'skunk') "Yeah"

Velma: "Good, I couldn't think of the word. I was trying to spell squirrel."

Ahhh, Velma, I love you.

Two days later we head back to Fort Fun. My husband is driving and we pass a black and white striped furry thing dead on the side of the road.

D: "Hey, look, there's a shark back there!"

Velma: "What?! Where?! How'd a shark get on the highw... oh, a shark."

I think I'm going to get her Jaws for Christmas.

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Beautiful Rebellion

I recently read a book by Mark Plaiss called The Inner Rooms: A Journey into Lay Monasticism. Yes, I realize that it might seem a bit strange that I’m reading up on monasticism, but hey, what can I say? Cuthbert sent the book home with me, and when Cuthbert sends books home, it is my sacred duty to at least make an attempt at reading them. He’d do the same for me.

Anyhow, the book talks about a new kind of monasticism and a new kind of monk. Plaiss writes about those who feel called to monasticism but who live lives outside of the monastery. He says we can be accountants or writers or business people or teachers, and still live a monastic lifestyle. It is a book about resting in the presence of God, prayer, and the sacredness and value of tradition, while giving an interesting description of the monastic life.

Plaiss writes as if every thing he sees or experiences is somehow the most beautiful thing he has ever seen or experienced. His writing is prose. It draws you in and pulls at the part of you that wants to lay everything down and rest in the beauty of the spirit that could never be requited by the self. He writes beautifully and if you stop to read this book you’ll find that it somehow calms you.

When I read this book I found myself thinking of Donald Miller’s introduction to Blue Like Jazz. Miller said that he had never liked jazz music, but that one night in Portland he stood outside a club and watched a man play jazz on the saxophone for 15 minutes straight and that the man never opened his eyes the whole time. Miller said that once he saw that, he liked jazz, because sometimes you have to see somebody love something before you can love it yourself – it is like they are showing you the way. This is what Plaiss does – he makes you want to love God and explore monasticism because you see so clearly that he loves it – he shows you the way.

Anyhow, I wanted to write today about something in Plaiss’ writing that struck me in relationship to the community I am living in. Plaiss wrote an entire chapter on the idea of the monk, or the monastic, as a sort of rebellion. I’d like to share a bit of this with you:

‘The Christian, too, must be a rebel… The Christian must be a rebel against the culture of self. The book of Wisdom says, “For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him”. The rebellion of the Christian, then, consists in seeking daily to uncover the image of God that resides within… This rebellion takes the form of love. That which makes the Christian a rebel, then, is the decision to love.’

‘To choose love means to deny the self, for love is selfless. Love seeks the good of the other before that of the self…. The monk is a component in this rebellion of love.’

‘For the nature of the monk is at odds with the prevailing culture. Nothing in our culture is more useless than monks. The diocesan clergy, at least, provide a service for people. Lay ministers do
likewise. But monks? What task do they perform? What service do they provide? Who do they help? What do they do? Which is exactly the point. The monk is the antithesis of everything the prevailing culture esteems. The monk is poor, powerless, and prayerful. The monk retires to a cell and prays. The monk is therefore useless to a culture that measures worth by wealth, power, status and, most of all, utility. Not only does the monk lack these attributes, the monk actively refutes them.’

‘The monk is un-American in another way. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, there is a strong tendency in America to confuse freedom with license, uninhibited action. There is a reluctance among Americans to tolerate restraints on behavior and a strain of intolerance
for those who advocate such restraints. The monk, on the other hand, seeks to die to all those desires of the heart that enslave us to selfish actions. By doing so, the monk attains freedom.'

First let me note that I don't know what the book of Wisdom is. Is it a book in the Catholic Bible? Does anybody know?

Anyhow, in essense, Plaiss states that the monk is a rebel because he simply is, and because of the refusal to answer to the call of self - the desire to die to the self to become something more. And because the self is what America is all about today, this is the greatest rebellion of the culture. I find it interesting that he equates the action of monks with a deep rebellion against culture, while many might find the joining of a monastery (or even of a particular religious sect) to be the very definition of conformity. Ironic, isn’t it?

Prior to reading this book, I had a sense that my Tuesday Night community was also some sort of rebellion in our culture, and I’d like to explore this idea more now that Plaiss has brought it to the forefront of my mind. Some of you may not be very familiar with Tuesday Nights. I will not try to explain them here, as I’ve already written a freakin’ book today, but let me say this: Tuesday Nights are a time when our community gathers, tells stories, celebrates the good in us, and mourns the ugly stuff in us and works on change. It is a time to share the art we have created or the art that has touched us. It is a time to be authentic. It is a time to admit we are fake. Tuesday Night is a place where we simply are. It is a community of interdependence and support that grows stronger daily, embracing our differences and struggles and joy and making our lives into something beautiful. Though committing to this community of interdependence appears to be a confining conformity from the outside, it is actually a strong rebellion to the culture of independence and disconnection we live in.

Belonging to community is rebellion against American individualism.

Living in a state of interdependence with your community is rebellion against the American pride in independence.

Laying down the self to love each other is rebellion against the ‘me’ culture.

Telling stories is rebelling against the mindless technological, impersonal communication forms of Gen Y.

Mourning our ugliness and trying to become better out of it is rebellion again the raise-your-self-esteem-there’s-nothing-wrong-with-you-Dr.-Phil-feel-good-psycho-babble culture we’ve created.

Celebrating our beauty is rebellion against a culture of cynicism.

Communal sharing of time, talents, and resources is rebellion against a culture of consumerism.

And on, and on, and on, and on… You see what I’m saying, I’m sure. One of my favorite passages of scripture has always been in Romans 2:2; ‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ I hope we are doing this; I hope we are bringing this to life.

Jesus was a non-conformist. I find great joy in the realization that I might just be following in His footsteps, even if it looks like conformity from the outside. Let the world outside think what they want. Let them conform to the culture of individuality; to the dependence they’ve developed on independence. Let them look at me with pride that they have not succumbed to the ideals of a group who wants nothing more than to live and love, and to make life beautiful. Let them.

My community will continue in this great rebellion of love – a rebellion of hope, a rebellion of seeking and truth, a rebellion of our interwoven lives – and offer the world the beautiful fabric we weave. We will be community. We will practice interdependence. We will allow ourselves to become ensnared in one another. We will be the non-conformists.

We will be the authors of a beautiful rebellion.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Scarlet Field of Can Ka No Rey

Hello, folks! Long time, no blog. Sorry I’ve been away, but I can explain… really…

Last week I took a bit of a vacation and headed up to Pokagon State Park for a few days by myself. No work, no friends, no husband, no neurotic cat. Just me, my laptop, my journal, and a duffel bag full of books. Bliss. I got a lot of journaling done, as well as a lot of work done on my book. What, you didn’t know I was writing a book? Well, I am, and I think it’s nearly finished. I got 7 chapters edited to the point where I am happy with them, and I’ve got 7 to go. I’m hoping I’ll be finished with this sometime in the next 6 months and then we’ll start trying to sort out how things end up published.

Anyhow, I also got a little body modification done on my vacation. My dear friend Cuthbert and I headed out for the tattoo parlor and got a bit of ink on my back AND we both got our tongues pierced. Whoo hoo!

I do have something to say about tongue piercing. To all of you who told me that biting your tongue hurts more than piercing it…to all of you who told me that getting your eyebrow pierced is far worse than getting your tongue pierced... every last one of you are liars. I’m hoping this tongue piercing works out for me because there’s no way in hell I’m ever getting it done again. If it grows shut, I’ll just have to think of something else to pierce. Aside from still not being able to properly make the ‘th’ sound a week later, I think I lost 5 pounds in 5 days simply from not being able to maneuver food around my swollen tongue and intruding metal ball.

At least no one lied about the tattoo.

Tattooing is one of those things that you really have to make your mind up about before you get into that chair. Once they start, you’re in it for the long haul, unless, of course, you don’t mind a half finished design gracing your body. So even though you don’t know what it’s going to feel like, you have to be willing to put up with that feeling for however long it takes to do that tattoo.

I have always prided myself on having a high threshold for pain. I am a girl, and I have had some of what I think are the worst cramps on the planet (ever had the cramps that hurt so much you throw up? Or pass out? Been there, done that) so I figured I could handle just about anything. The tattoo did hurt. And ten minutes into it I did get nauseas and had to lay down on the floor while the shop guy brought me a Pepsi. But I did get the entire tattoo. As I was being worked on, I told Cuthbert and Ken, the tattoo artist, that there was a good chance I was never having another tattoo done again. Cuthbert and Ken told me that tattooing is like childbirth – that it hurts, but it’s sooo worth it that you somehow forget how much it hurt and end up doing it again. By the time Cuthbert and I got to the mall to get body jewelry, I said there was a good chance I was never having a tattoo done that close to my spine again. You can see how a little word modification goes a long way. I’m currently working on my next design.

Here’s another interesting little tidbit about the ways body art seems to wreak havoc on one’s brain. Remember the metal bar and two metal balls in my tongue right now? It should be noted that I refuse to get metal fillings in my teeth because I don’t feel comfortable with having that much metal in my mouth. Oh, the irony. Oh, and you know how someone was poking a needle into my back fairly close to my spine? It should also be noted that I’m petrified of epidurals because I’m convinced a needle in my spine would paralyze me. Does it frighten anyone that I trust the tattoo artist with my spine more than I trust the anesthesiologist at the hospital? It frightens me a bit.

So you want to see my ink? Here’s the design I chose:

If I am smart enough I will take an actual picture of it on my body and paste it up here later. If I am not smart enough you’ll just have to live with knowing this is on my lower back.

I call this tattoo The Scarlet Field of Can Ka No Rey. Here’s the story behind it:

Imagery for this piece is taken from the literary series The Dark Tower. Can Ka No Rey is the road leading up to the Dark Tower. “The Scarlet Field” refers to the acres and acres of red roses that surround the Tower. In this story, Roland is the last remaining gunslinger (a kind of knight) and he has been seeking the Dark Tower for thousands of years. His guns are legacies, handed down from generation to generation from the gunslingers who have gone before him. The handles of the guns are reputed to have been carved from Arthur’s great sword, Excalibur. The mirror images of this piece are mirrors of the sigul on the handle of Roland’s guns. This sigul is a sign that denotes his lineage and confirms his ancestry. Without it, he cannot enter the Dark Tower. It simply will not open. And so, he approaches the Dark Tower and presents his sigul, and the Dark Tower opens to him, Roland of Gilead.

This symbol is significant to me because it reminds me that no matter how long my journey is, no matter how much I suffer or how much joy I experience, no matter what good works I do and what places I fail, what matters is my lineage – the ancestry of the blood that fills my veins and the fire in my eyes. It is a reminder that I am part of the lineage of a beautiful God, and that this makes me what I am.

To me, this symbol says ‘my victories and struggles are not what make me. They are part of my story, but they are not what I am. I am what I am because it is what God made me. I am standing where I fit’.

A few months back my good friend Cuthbert did a painting for me that tells one of my takeaway stories. This symbol is incorporated into the painting, and there is a poem that goes with it as well. I feel like the poem says what my tattoo symbolizes better than any story I could tell, so I’m going to share it here.

Field of Roses

All the pain and all the struggle,
All the fire that’s passed through me,
All the miles and all the years,
The ugliness I’ve seen and the ugliness I’ve been,
Is a part of my story.
My story, and I own it,
But it is not what makes me.
It is not who I am.

My name and place is set.
Nothing within or without can shake that.
When I hold the promise close
All is silent grace
And fluid movement.
The song writes itself and spills
From my lips of its own will.
Sometimes when I need to know
You tell me.

I lay down my sigul at the feet of your essence
And know that I am okay.
I am standing where I fit.
I scream my name with eagerness and tears,
Joy and pain.
My name is a long line of ancestors,
My name is my inheritance,
My name is my story,
My name is carved in my spirit,
My name is whispered in your heart.

There is struggle behind and its Resumption ahead.
But as I stand before you in this Field of Roses
All is calm as you let me in
And dance around me in a pillar of Silk and Perfume.
This is the destruction of my fear and hatred
And the rebirth of my childehood.

I surrender my guns
And you call me by my lineage,
The name that is mine despite all,
As ten thousand faces in the Roses sing my song.
And I am at rest.

Friday, September 14, 2007

You put What?! Where?!

Tales From the Vault: The Men I Have Known

Here we are again, with another tale from the vault… You may have heard this story before, as I wasn’t nearly as shy about sharing it as I was the butter story. But then, I didn’t date this particular guy for a year and a half, so it doesn’t seem to reflect on my character as much. You can decide what you think for yourself. Enjoy!

Tale # 2: You put
What?! Where?!

Here goes…

When I was in college I lived in a little studio apartment downtown, worked full time, and went to school at night. Certainly not the easiest or most carefree existence, but it was getting me a college degree and I was living outside of my parents’ house where all sorts of craziness was known to take place. I figured my little apartment had to keep me safer from the craziness than I had been up to that point in my life, and so I lived there with happiness and (clearly false) confidence in my ability to fend off the crazies.

One of my friends from high school had a boyfriend who lived in the same apartment building as me. We’ll call her Bev and we’ll call her boyfriend Ben. I personally didn’t care for Ben all that much, for reasons I’d rather not delve into here. Let it suffice to say that I thought he was, in the words of a dear, dear friend of mine, a real douche bag. One of the first things about Ben that struck me as a huge red flag was that neither Bev or I met any of his friends until she had been dating him for nearly a year. Did he not have friends? Were his friends so freaky he was afraid to introduce us? Was he keeping his relationship with Bev a secret from them? I didn’t know what it was, but something about this seemed off to me. There were plenty of other red flags – like the way he refused to tell his parents when Bev moved in with him, the fact that he didn’t want her to come over to my place and hang out with me, that he’d commit to doing things and then never do them, etc., etc., etc. But one of the first red flags was the apparent total lack of friends.

Fast forward a bit. Ben finally decided to introduce us to one of his friends, a guy we will call Stan. I have no idea where he knew Stan from, but their friendship seemed to go back aways. It seemed odd to me that it took so long for us to meet him. Time went on. We hung out with Stan a bit more. He was a little odd – he was a librarian who didn’t own a television and was uber religious in kind of a weird way – but he seemed like a nice guy. I even went on a date with him. It was, admittedly, a strange date. He took me to church, and then took me to meet his parents. On our first date. After our date he complained to Ben that I’d been dressed too provocatively (which no one else seemed to notice when I wore that same outfit to work) and decided he wanted nothing to do with me. Okay, fine. If you’re going to be weird about my shirt, you’re probably going to be weird about the gay bars and Rocky Horror Picture Show parties and everything else about my life, so it’s probably better if you go now anyhow. My feelings were not hurt.

Ben, Bev, and I continued to hang out with Stan on a periodic basis. He continued to seem strange. One of my clearest memories of Stan is in Ben’s apartment. We are getting ready to watch the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas. Stan is sitting on the sofa and suddenly has this reaction:

Stan: Ooooh! The Nightmare Before Christmas?!


Stan: That is my favorite!! (slaps knees with both hands),

Favorite!! (slaps knees again),

Favorite!! (stop with the knee slapping already!)

(claps hands together like a teenage girl watching N’Sync and does the gayest shoulder shrug I have ever seen)

Me, Ben, Bev: (look on in amazed silence)

Anyhow, let me get to the point of this story.

One day Stan tells Ben and Bev that he had to go to the Dr. for an appointment. It’s just said in passing, something like, ‘Oh, and after I went to the Dr.’s office, I had to stop at the store to get stamps,’ or something like that. No one thinks anything of it. Then, a few weeks later, Stan mentions that he was at the Dr.’s office again. Again, it’s just said in passing, and no one thinks anything of it. A few weeks later, it comes up again. Most of us don’t go to the Dr. three times within a span of a few months, so it is starting to seem strange and a little bit alarming. But Stan doesn’t seem to be overly worried about it, so no one questions him.

Again, a few weeks later, Stan mentions that he’s been to the Dr.’s office. By this time Bev is getting annoyed. She is not the kind of person to wait for you to say whatever you need to say. If she suspects there is a story, she wants it, and she wants it now! So Bev decides that dammit! if Stan is going to keep bringing up these random Dr. visits without any explanation, she’s just going to ask him why he’s going and get it over with. A few more weeks go by. Again, Ben and Bev make plans to hang out with Stan and again, Stan mentions that he’s been to the Dr.’s office. Bev can’t stand it anymore. She asks him why in the hell he keeps coming over and saying he’s been to the Dr.’s office without telling anybody what’s wrong with him. Stan then reveals his great affliction.

Stan tells Bev that he was worried that his ass smelled bad. At first thought, one might think, duh! of course your ass smells bad. You sit on it and sweat on it all day long, it’s confined in your boxers or tighty-whities 24 hours a day, you fart in there, and God knows what else. At first glance, one would not think this is an affliction worthy of medical intervention. Then you hear the rest of the story.

Apparently Stan thought he had an excellent home remedy for the case of the stinky ass. He decided deodorant would do the trick. Yes, you read that right. Deodorant. On his ass. According to Stan, this did alleviate the problem of the smell. I guess that’s not surprising, if you think about it. But Stan was not anticipating the adverse affects of putting deodorant on one’s ass (sorry to interrupt, but what is it with the men I know slathering weird substances on their bodies? Is it just me? Am I a magnet for this crap?). And who would? Deodorant works fine for my armpits, which are also very smelly and confined on a normal day, and it doesn’t cause any weird side effects there. Why would it behave differently in an ass environment? I simply don’t know. What I do know is that when Stan started to regularly apply deodorant to his anal-regions, he grew himself a nice crop of ass fungus. This new and interesting fungus was the reason for Stan’s repeated visits to his physician. Ass Fungus. Didn’t even know you could put those two words together, did you?

Now that you know the story, I’ve simply got to make a few points:

First of all, who smells their own ass? Are any of you out there even that flexible? I’m not. And who is worried about it enough to even try? Let me just say this: there is no way in hell that any straight man on this planet is that worried about the condition of his ass. No way. Perhaps there was another reason Stan was upset about my supposedly ‘revealing’ shirt. Perhaps he doesn’t like boobs. Come on, Stan, just admit it. I’ll love you all the more for it.

Secondly, if you have a medical condition that makes you want to die of embarrassment, like, say, a self-induced, homegrown fungus on your ass, you might not want to announce your every Dr.’s appointment to the world. Really, Stan, if you didn’t want us to know, you shouldn’t have made it so completely obvious something was wrong.

Thirdly, I’d really like to know whether the offending product was a deodorant or an anti-perspirant, just for the record. And maybe the brand name too.

One can never be too careful.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Butter Boy

Tales From the Vault: Men I have known

So it’s been brought to my attention that I left a few stories out in my attempt to disperse dating advice to the boys at Flashbacks. However, these stories are truly amazing stories – stories that cannot be summed up with one short, snarky comment amidst a sea of snarky comments in some random blog. No, these stories stand on their own – they must be treated with the respect they deserve. And so I have decided to pull these tales from the vault in all their glory.

Tale # 1: Butter Boy

Yes, you read that title right. It says Butter Boy. God help me, but that really is right.

Hmmm, now how should I begin this story? Firstly, I think I should probably protect Butter Boy’s privacy by not referring to him by his real name. Not that I think it will matter much, as anyone who knows anything about my or his high school dating experiences will know exactly who he is the moment they hear the context of the story – but still, I should try, right? From here on out we’ll call him Butter Bob. Why? Well, I like alliteration, for one. All those B’s put together get me feeling poetic, I must confess. And hey, why not? We’ve got to call him something, and Butter D – oops!, close call – is out of the question lest I run the risk of libel accusations.

Ok, here we go…

Once upon a time I was a senior in high school, and I had a boyfriend named Bob who I’d been dating for about a year and a half – a long, long time in the world of high school relationships. Now I was a very, very cool high school attendee because I had a pager. For you young-uns out there, a pager was a little device you would strap to your belt loop or pocket and people could call the pager and leave their number. Then the pager would beep and their number would appear. You would then know that the person at that particular phone number wanted to be called. This was pre-cell phone technology, and at the time it kicked ass. Not everyone had a pager, you know – mostly just drug dealers and rich kids. But I had a pager. I was officially cool.

So this one night I was hanging out with a friend at her house when my pager beeped at me. I looked at the number on the pager and it was Bob’s phone number followed by 911. You know how nowadays kids have all these fancy codes when they text message? Well back in the day 911 was a fancy pager code that meant, “Call me right now! I have an emergency!” Normally you’d receive a 911 page and return the call to find that the person paging you was out of peanut butter, and could you please pick some up, or maybe they were feeling paranoid about the fidelity of their significant other. Not exactly emergencies, in my opinion. So I called Bob back at his house feeling slightly annoyed and wondering what in the hell could possibly warrant a 911 page.

This time, however, Bob sounded like he had an emergency. He was sobbing into the phone and I pretty much figured someone had died. In between sobs he proceeded to tell me that he hated himself and he didn’t want to live anymore and that he was going to go ahead and kill himself now, if that was alright with me. Which, of course, wasn’t alright with me. So I hung up the phone and rushed to my car and drove to his house at approximately 25 miles over the speed limit and hoped I didn’t find major pools of blood when I arrived.

I walked into Bob’s house and there was nobody home. I have no idea where his parents were, but neither one of them was there. Bob had a brother, but he was living in Grand Rapids at the time and so he wasn’t home either. I wandered through the house until I found Bob in the bathtub, unharmed but naked. And greasy. Very, very greasy.

Keep in mind that all this happened when I was 17 years old. I was not skilled in the art of negotiating with suicidal people. I’m still not skilled in that art, and it’s been nine years. In fact, I don’t ever want to be skilled in that art. All I could think to do was to take away his razor and wash his hair. Lame, I know. Wash the suicidal guy’s hair! That’ll help! But it was so damn greasy, so I just started washing it. As I washed Bob’s hair I talked to him. I honestly can’t remember much of anything he said. I think I was in shock or something. But I remember not understanding the grease. God, it was everywhere. His hair was greasy, his body was greasy, the water looked greasy, there looked to be greasy streaks on the tub. Lord, thinking of it now, it’s no wonder he didn’t slit his wrists – I don’t know how he would’ve kept a hold of the razor with all that grease.

So finally I broke down and asked him about it. As I washed his hair I asked him what the hell was up with all the greasiness. And, Lord help me, this is what he said:

Bob: I *sob* needed to be *sniffle* cleansed and purified.

17-year-old-me: (not comprehending whatsoever) uhhh, ok..??

Bob: I needed to a- *sob* a-anoint myself with oil.

17-year-old-me: (still not getting the connection) ummmmm…ok….

Bob: But- b-b-but we didn’t have any *sniffle*

17-year-old-me: Soooo?

Bob: So I used butter.


I kid you not, folks, he slathered his entire body in butter in an attempt to cleanse and purify himself so he didn’t have to die. And he tried to tell me I was crazy.

Its okay, you can laugh. I’m laughing right now, actually. I have to, or I’d just lose my mind.

First of all, what religious text says that suicidal people should anoint themselves with oil so they don’t have to kill themselves? Because I’ve never read that text. And I’ve read a lot of whacked out religious texts. This particular boy prided himself as something of a Bible scholar and I’ve read that puppy from cover to cover not once but twice. If there is a magic formula that cures suicidal impulses with oil or butter in the middle of Galatians, I just plain skipped over that chapter. Can you imagine it – “And thou shalt anoint thyself with oil so thou doesn’t have to slit thine wrists – thus saith the Lord” Come on, Bob. If you’re going to be one of those scary, ritual obsessed Christians, at least get the rituals right.

Secondly, butter does not have oil in it. Last time I checked, butter is a dairy product. Oil is, well, an oil product. So, Bob, you anointed yourself with milk. Way to go. Next time at least consider going with margarine.

So you’re wondering how the story ends, right? Well, mom and dad came home from whatever function they were attending while I was washing the grease out of Bob’s hair in the tub. At 17 I was also not skilled at explaining to somebody’s parents why I was sitting in the bathroom with their naked, greasy son so I bolted for the upstairs and curled up in the fetal position in Bob’s room, crying, for the next hour. His mom came upstairs and tried to find out what had happened and to comfort me, but to no avail. There were simply no words. I mean, how do you tell somebody’s mom, “hey, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your son slathered himself in butter so he wouldn’t kill himself and I was just trying to wash it out of his hair”? In fact, I never spoke a word of this to anyone until I was in my twenties – 24, I think. It took that long to accept that I really had seen Bob slathered in butter and to formulate the words to express it.

As for Bob’s dad… well, I didn’t see him at all that night, but it was reported to me that the only thing he had to say on the subject was ‘use a condom’. Classy.

So there you have it – the tale of Butter Bob.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I will not be like those concubine whores!

Random memory:

I am probably nine or ten years old, which means that my sister Velma is probably seven or eight years old. My mother, father, sister and I are sitting at the dinner table eating supper and dialoguing about what we might want to be when we grow up.

Velma: I want to be a prostitute when I grow up!

Mom & Dad: (choke on food)

Me: (choke on food and giggle because I know what a prostitute is)

Mom & Dad: Honey, do you know what a prostitue is?

Velma: Yep, it's a lawyer! A female lawyer! I want to be a prostitute when I grow up!

Apparantly the little girl down the street was having some difficulty distinguishing between a prostitute and a prosecuter.

Either one would be fairly ambitious for a seven-year-old, if you ask me.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Polaroids From the Dead

I’ve just finished Polaroids from the Dead by Douglas Coupland. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t read Coupland without very serious introspection. I suppose it’s a good thing. Generation X produced not only an awareness of my own takeaway stories, but a movement of storytelling within my community. Hey Nostradamus! made me revisit my feelings surrounding the Columbine School Massacre and come to terms with some very ugly things inside of me. Now Polaroids from the Dead has sent me into a slightly unhealthy Kurt Cobain obsession (which, knowing me, will be forgotten in about three weeks, so don’t worry too hard) and has me trying to figure out exactly where I fit in generationally.

Depending on whose idea you hear about the cutoffs for Generation X and Generation Y, I don’t technically fit into either. Most of the materials I have come across include those born from 1961-1976 in Gen X and those in the high-school class of 2000 the beginning of Gen Y. More liberal accounts have Gen X ending with those born in ’81 and Gen Y beginning with those born in the late 70’s. I was born in mid ’81 and graduated with the class of ’99. Who the hell knows where I fit? I’m too young to identify with a lot of key Gen X issues – like the recession going on when a good chunk of them were ready to enter the work force and the ending of the cold war – and I’m too old to identify with a lot of Gen Y culture – constant text messaging, Robot/digital pets, YouTube (I still have no clue how that works!). On the other hand, I do identify with some significant issues / events / media from each Generation – the death of Kurt Cobain & grunge music, the O.J. Simpson case, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Whatever. I’ve decided to name my own Generation – the I-Don’t-Freakin-Know-Where-I-Fit-So-I’m-Going-To-Put-Myself-Wherever-I-Damn-Well-Please Generation. I’ll call it something ridiculous like the Last Generation of Saturday Morning Cartoons Worth Waking Up Early For or Generation Green Day. Those of you born between 1976 and 1982 can submit suggestions and cast votes, if you like.

Anyhow, that’s not the point of this. I’ve somehow digressed.

What I really want to tell you about today is Polaroids from the Dead and my most recent Coupland-inspired introspection. Here’s an excerpt from the book – it’s in the section about Deadhead culture:

“Skye says, ‘Dad, you always complain people my age never protest about anything, but the first moment we even try to make a peep, you ex-hippies are the first to slam us, saying we’re nowhere near as passionate or effective as you were in those fucking sixties. Make up your minds. Stop making us have to subsidize your disillusionment with the way you turned out.’”

This got me thinking about protesting. First off, it has been noted that it’s not a good idea for me to protest. I’m so far out of balance that protesting leaves me perpetually pissed off, moody, and withdrawn. It’s not very good for me or anyone around me. But I suppose if that random voice in my head which may or may not actually be God was persistent I would protest and try to keep my moodiness out of it.

But when I thought about this more I realized I wouldn’t even know what to protest. Consumer greed? Our lack of investment in people who are being wiped out by genocide? The depersonalization of society? Disconnection? Excess pride masquerading as independence? The rigidity of the modern church?

I don’t even know where to start. These are all things that I think are important – all things that I think contribute to a general decline of our society. I mean really, people waiting on sidewalks for 5 or 6 or 7 days to purchase a $700 phone is not good for our society. It’s a symptom of consumer greed and an indicator that we feel entitled to have whatever it is we want, at whatever cost it takes. It is not good for us. If World War III breaks out, how many consumeristic brats who have been spoiled with the ideology of entitlement are going to do any sort of decent job fighting for the freedom of a nation that is something beyond their immediate selves?

Answer: None.

There’s no motivation. There’s no sense of duty to anything other than their own wants and desires. Yes, it’s an extreme example, but it says something about the climate of our culture. What it says may be ambiguous, but it definitely points to NOT GOOD.

Same thing with the rest of those things on my list. If we sit back and let governments and rebel groups commit mass genocide while we’re fully aware of what’s going on and while we happen to be the superpower of the world, what does that indicate about the collective conscience of our society? How is the depersonalization of our society not bad for us? How is it at all healthy to be so totally disconnected? And on and on and on. I don’t even know where to start.

But here’s the thing…

Even if I knew where to start…. well…

Where would I even protest?

One of the challenges of my generation (whatever generation that is) is not just what to lobby for (or against) but where to lobby. In 1969, if you were pissed about the Vietnam War (conflict, I mean, the Vietnam conflict) you marched your ass down to Washington D.C. But tell me, where should I go to protest consumer greed? With whom should I register my complaint? Maybe I’ll start with the retail industry. Too big? Maybe the advertising industry. Still too big? Maybe I’ll just start with the masses and try to convince them they don’t need so much stuff. Hmm, still too big? The issues aren’t cut and dry anymore – it’s not an issue of war or no war. One of our greatest challenges is that we care about abstract, internal issues that cannot be easily regulated by any one approachable entity.

You see, it’s not that I’m part of Generation Slacker (ooh! Good name!) or that I just don’t care or refuse to give of my time. It’s that I don’t even know where (or with whom) to start.

What’s that line from Smells Like Teen Spirit? Goes something like,

“I found it hard, it was hard to find a well, whatever, nevermind”

No-freakin-wonder. My whole community sees this ugly stuff, we just wouldn’t know where to go with it. We open our mouths, then we think for a moment and close them again. You ask what we were thinking and all we have is, “Never mind”. There’s nowhere for me to even go with this. I’m Generation Nevermind.

The greatest asset my generation has is the freedom to choose to live our lives in ways that reflect our values. I have nowhere to go with my complaint of consumer greed, but I have choices about what I purchase, how much I purchase, the kind of ownership of things I deem necessary. I cannot stop the kind of raw division I see in the church between the command to love and the rejection of ‘sinners’, but I can claim the same God and choose to love wherever I go. I cannot stop people from allowing technology to disconnect them, but I can choose to live in community and to invite others to live in community as well. My lifestyle is coming in line with my ideology more every day.

My lifestyle is the single greatest tool for social change that I possess. My lifestyle speaks for all the places where I feel strongly and can’t find the place for my voice. I don’t know how much good it will do. I don’t know how much my choices will influence others. I can only try. I can only hope that something that is beautiful inside of me will infect the people I see every day. I am the generation who will have to change the world by the way I live each day – the Conscientious Generation – Generation Beautiful Infection.

Your lifestyle is the single greatest tool for social change that you possess. What kind of changes are you inspiring in your world?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Takeaway Story #3 ~ *Would You Like a Blanket?*

For more on takeaway stories, click here:

Takeaway Story #3 ~ Would You Like A Blanket?

Ok, here goes…

Once upon a time (which was actually sometime last year) I went down to Freimann Square to eat my yogurt and read a book on my lunch hour. It was sometime in the fall – right around the time of year when it starts to get fairly cold, but you don’t really believe that it’s cold until you stand out in it for awhile – maybe mid-November-ish. So I was sitting on a bench in the park eating my yogurt and I was getting pretty cold. I hadn’t brought a coat because, as I’ve mentioned, I didn’t really believe it was going to be cold. But it was. I sat there and tried to focus on my book, but it’s hard to focus on much when you’re cold. Also, my body kept engaging in this random stop-start-stop-start shivering like some sort of wacked out whole body Tourettes or something.

Anyhow, as I sat there with my book and my yogurt I noticed a man sleeping on the park bench next to me. Being the brilliant person I am, it occurred to me that there was a good chance he was cold as well. True, he was a little better equipped than me – he had a coat, at least, which was draped over his body - , but still, it was mid-day and I didn’t anticipate it getting any warmer after sundown. If anything, I figured it would get colder. Now I’m not an expert on homelessness, but it did not appear to me that this man was sleeping on the park bench because it looked like a good nap spot. It looked like he could be there all night. I thought to myself that if he was there all night he was going to get mighty chilly before morning.

You know how sometimes a thought gets in your head and you don’t know how it got there? And you know how sometimes when that thought gets lodged in there, you can’t do anything about it? You simply have to do whatever the thought is telling you. You just have to. There’s no explaining it, but you are powerless not to. Well, this thought entered my head that I should give this man the blanket in my trunk. And once the thought took hold, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it. It got lodged, and I just had to get that blanket. Problem was, when I went to the trunk, there was no blanket. I don’t know where the blanket was, but it was definitely not in my trunk. It was also not in the back seat of the car, the front seat of the car, underneath a stack of books, or under the seat. The ever-elusive blanket was nowhere to be found. There was nothing I could do.

I went back to the park bench and finished my yogurt. I moped. I had random shiver-fits. I felt sad about the man sleeping alone and cold on the bench next to me. I moped more. Then a new thought got into my head from seemingly nowhere and took over where the last one left off. This new thought told me that I had to – had to – come back to the park that night and give away all my extra blankets. “Okay,” I told the random thought, which may or may not have actually been God. Then I stopped moping, gathered myself up, and went back to work.

When my husband (who will from this point be known as ‘D’) got home from work I asked him if he’d like to go give away our blankets to homeless people tonight. I even said please to further entice him. He gave me that look he has – the what the hell did I get myself into when I married this crazy chick anyhow look – the same one he gave me when I took him to the SPCA to get Dingo, in fact, if you happen to know that story – and said, “But what if they rob and kill you?”

I gave him my look – the why does everyone expect me to be so fucking balanced?! look, and said, “Well, then I guess I’ll be broke and dead.”

He was not amused.

After much bartering which included promises about the whereabouts of my purse, the length of time I would be out, and the wearing of durable running shoes, D agreed to prowl the park with me. We gathered up the blankets together, making compromises on what to keep and what to give away. We left the house with three pretty heavy duty blankets. Not those fleece throws or anything, but good, heavy, comforter-type blankets. I have no idea why we had this magnitude of spare blankets, but it’s what we found, so we headed out.

First we went back to the park. There was not another living soul in that park. I don’t think there was even a squirrel there, it was so quiet. I started to question the random thought that had brought me there. However, D was encouraging and suggested that we head over to Headwaters Park. Surely there would be someone at Headwaters Park who needed a blanket, he assured me. After all, the park is like a mile long with all kinds of dark corners people might want to sleep in.

We roamed the park for the next half hour or so, but the only people we found were two teenagers on rollerblades. Wearing coats. We couldn’t do anything for them. Feeling discouraged and somewhat pissed off at the random thought for dragging me out here all night without supplying me any blanketless homeless people, I wanted to go home. But D said he thought he saw some people over at the bus station and that it was surely too late to still be waiting for a bus. I considered this. He was referring to the city busses, so it certainly was too late for them to be running. We decided to walk by the bus station on the way back to the car. Turns out, there were people sleeping there. There were three of them – just the number of blankets we had. However, we’d left one blanket back in the car because it was hard for us to carry all three of them all the way around the park. One man at the bus station had a blanket, so we decided to give the other two blankets to the two guys who didn’t have anything. It was all nice and good and we gave the blankets away and headed for the car.

When we got to the car we had huge internal debates over whether to head back with our remaining blanket and give it to the man who already had a blanket. He might not need the blanket at all. He might really need it. For all we knew, his blanket had holes or was worn thin. What to do? We decided to head back to the bus stop. When we got there, there was a new man sitting alone, looking very lonely and very, very homeless. I approached him instead of Mr.-I-already-have-a-blanket with blanket #3. This is what ensued:

I asked the man if he wanted a blanket. He nodded yes. I held the blanket out to him. He didn’t move at all. He just looked up at me and stared. I started unfolding the blanket, figuring that maybe I could put it on him. He just sat there and stared. I got the blanket all the way unfolded and reached down to put the blanket around him. I got him all covered up in it and looked back at him. He was still staring. His eyes were the saddest eyes I’d ever seen. I reached to him and I hugged him and told him to take care and hopefully have a better day tomorrow. When I looked at his eyes again, he was crying.

This man never said a word to me. Not one word. He never moved except to nod that he wanted the blanket. That was it. But there was something in him that told me he hurt – that told me he needed that hug – it was something in his sad eyes.

I left the bus station with D and thought about the man for a long time. I thought about the way human contact is so precious – about the way the man had cried when I hugged him. I thought about the way I felt so connected to life – about how kindness is so powerful. When I went to the bus station that night, I gave a man a blanket. A stupid blanket. I didn’t change his life – I didn’t give him a place to sleep or a house to call home or a family to love or food to eat. I gave him a stupid blanket. But I cling to the hope that I maybe gave him a little something more – maybe hope that things can be better – maybe just a glimmer of faith in humanity – maybe just a little spark in his tired heart that was reminded what it was like to be loved for a moment. And when I left the bus station that night, I had gained something, too. I learned right then that I just need to listen to the random thoughts in my head more often – that I shouldn’t let fear rule me so much and that when I feel led to love somebody in some way to just do it, already! It was a practice in obedience, showering me with grace. And when I left the bus station I marveled at the beauty of human touch and the power it has to draw us out of ourselves and into another.

This story is about a night when I learned a little bit more about what its like to be alive and human and in a constant state of growth. This is my takeaway.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Grandma (Inadvertently) Bought Me A Facial Piercing

A couple of months ago, I got my face pierced. Not my whole face, just my eyebrow. My right eyebrow. But still, my eyebrow is on my face, and this apparently gives a lot of people a lot of anxiety. I have no idea why – it’s not like I’m forcing them to put a needle through their face or aything, but it does. I personally couldn’t care less how many piercings or tattoos you have. If you engage in good hygiene practices regularly you’re good in my book. As long as I can’t smell you coming, we’re fine (although I must admit avid Abercrombie or Hollister wearers do cause me a bit of initial grief while I wait to see if they’re going to try to humiliate me or otherwise mock my fashion sense or lack thereof. Flash would say that I need a few more ‘corrective emotional experiences’ to overcome this fear and I’m working on it – hey! I hang out with preppy gay men! It seems to be helping so far!).

Anyhow, back to my face. Initially my mother was a bit put off. But if you know anything about my grandma (yes, the Hot Topic grandma) you’ve probably correctly assumed that it didn’t phase her in the least. You’ll also be pleased to hear that she didn’t seem to mind at all that I took the Christmas money she’d given me to the tattoo parlor to pay for the piercing. Nope, didn’t bother her at all. My grandma is frickin’ awesome.

I wore the piercing to work. What was I supposed to do? If I took it out, my hole would close up and then my Grandma’s Christmas money would be greatly under-appreciated. So I wore it. And I wore it. And I wore it some more. Eight weeks later my boss noticed.

He said:“When did you get that?”
Me: “Two months ago.”
Boss: “Oh.”


Boss: “Why?”
Me: “I think they’re pretty.”
Boss: “Oh.”

That was the last I heard about it. Now mind you, my boss is the CEO of a non-profit with a $13 million budget. He is a man who has power to wield, if he so chooses. So I also came to the conclusion that my boss is pretty frickin’ cool, too, and should meet my grandma sometime.

I am usually fairly conscientious of where I don my eyebrow apparel, so when I visit our sites or meet with board members I take it out. Duh. I like my job and I’d like to keep in good standing with the boss, so I generally try not to scare board members (who are usually white, middle age, and upper-middle class) away. It’s common sense. However, a few weeks ago I went on a site visit to a youth summer camp and forgot to take out my piercing. It happens. *shrug* I hadn’t even noticed that I’d forgotten to take it out until I was attacked by a mob of teenage girls who wanted to tell me that my eyebrow ring was so cool, man, and ask me if it hurt. Suddenly, I was cool. I have never been cool to teenagers. I was not cool to teenagers when I was a teenager. I didn’t even know how to react. So I told them thank you and no, it didn’t hurt and that I hoped they had a good time at camp, and then I went about my merry way.

Why is she telling us this? you’re asking.

I’m telling you this because I’ve been thinking a lot about the way I present myself to the world and how that ties into my consumeristic notions about life and everything else. See, it seems to me that in my demand to be myself and express who I am, I have been decidedly consumeristic. How many pairs of armwarmers or fishnets does a girl need, anyhow? Do I really need a purse full of buttons to tell you who I am?

I’m very irritated with myself about all of this. Who I am should be easily conveyed by the way I live my life – the things I do with my time, the way I love the people around me, the topics that ignite my heart and my passions. I should not need a button to do this. I should not need a pair of armwarmers to do this. I should not need fishnet thigh-highs to do this. I should not have to pierce my face to make a statement. So I decided to tone down my wardrobe a bit. I discussed this with my good friend Cuthbert (code names are now, by the way, in effect) who looked at me in horror and said:


and then proceeded to encourage me to look at why I wear the things I wear and what would change if I did, indeed tone it down.

So here’s what I came up with:

Reasons Why I Dress Like I Was Raised In A Dungeon In My Free Time

1. Firstly, I love the reactions I get from conservative adults. OMG, it just cracks me up to see people stare at something as silly as an eyebrow ring. This bothers you? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Let me introduce you to a few of my friends! But seriously, when people see me dressed in
a way that invokes a stereotype, but then they get to know me and find out that I don’t spend my time thinking of creative patterns to use when cutting myself, it does a little something to them. It breaks down a barrier, just a little bit. I love the idea that because someone knew me, they could be a little bit more open to getting to know that teenager that really does feel like an outcast. I love the idea that a whole group of people might seem just a little bit more approachable to someone very conservative because the way I love defies the stereotypes associated with the way I dress. I would call this breaking down barriers.

2. Secondly, I love the reactions I get from other people who are dressed just as ridiculously or from teenagers. Do you know why the mob of teenage girls came to me instead of one of my co-workers? Do you know why I meet random people at bars who aren’t hitting on me but want to talk about serious life stuff? Because allowing yourself to resemble them (or what they want to be) just a bit allows you to be approachable. Most teenagers don’t trust adults…. unless they happen to have piercings in their faces, apparently. I think a lot of people who reside on the outskirts don’t trust those in the mainstream, either. This makes me think of Paul saying that to the Jew he is a Jew and to the Greek, a Greek, and so on. To the people who I love passionately – the people who hurt in this world – the people who most need loved – I am approachable. I would call this building bridges.

So, breaking down barriers and building bridges, eh? Doesn’t sound so bad after all.

In an effort to try to tame this consumeristic beast living in my heart, I thought I should get rid of these clothes and accessories – then I found out these clothes and accessories actually play a fairly important role in my relationships with other people and what other people learn from me (and, of course, what I have the opportunity to learn). So where does that leave me? At the moment, I’m going to leave the things in my closet that were already there and I’m not going to buy any more. It’s a good start, at least, but it certainly doesn’t feel like enough to me in terms of conquering the part of me that just wants to own crap. This ‘taming-the-consumeristic-black-hole-that-my-heart-has-become’ journey is turning out not to be so simple after all. Perhaps I’ll be back with a more definitive answer at a later date….

By the way.... beautiful quote...

"Where there is beauty, there is God.
Where there is creation, there is God.
Where there is searching, there is God.
Where there is God there is passion,
fire, and an overwhelming sense that He
is good, but not safe."

~ God of the Dark Places

Monday, July 30, 2007

Why I Don't East Fast Food

I don’t eat fast food very often. Why?, you ask. Because you are a food snob? you assume. No, no, no, I am not a food snob. I just don’t like to eat much fast food. First off, nearly everything is fried which doesn’t fit in very well with my attempts to maintain my carefully crafted, painstakingly acquired, lifetime-member weight-watchers weight. Fast food makes me fat. There, I said it. Secondly, fast food costs money and I am kind of a shrew when it comes to spending money. Why would I pay two freakin dollars for French fries when I can get a five pound bag of potatoes for the same price? Do you know how many fries that is, people? I also, for the most part can’t justify paying three or more dollars for a chicken sandwich, which is always what I want. Why are chicken sandwiches more expensive than hamburgers, anyhow? This makes no sense to me. You want me to pay 79 cents for a humburger but 3 bucks for chicken? Is the chicken dipped in gold? Or is there something very, very wrong with the cow you’re trying to sell me? Either way, it doesn’t make sense to me.

So anyways, I don’t eat fast food very often because I hate being fat and broke. I know many, many people who eat fast food much more frequently than me who are not fat and are not broke so I’m not making any judgments. But I personally end up fat and broke if I haul my widening ass down to Arby’s more than once a quarter, so I just don’t go.

However, every now and then a maddening fast food craving seizes me. This week I needed fast food. I NEEDED it. I had this little record player going in my head on a loop – “MUST. HAVE. WENDY’S. SPICY. CHICKEN.” it said. “CRUNCHY. SPICY. CHICKEN.” it affirmed, over and over and over again. This does not happen often, but when it does I am a slave. I don’t know why it happens, either. I hardly even look up when my husband’s watching TV, so I’m sure I didn’t see a commercial for it, I don’t think I heard anything on the radio, and I’m fairly confident that I didn’t even drive by a Wendy’s. It doesn’t seem to correlate to my monthly cycles (or any of my female friends’ monthly cycles), my mood, stress, my husband’s mood, etc, etc, etc. I have no idea what happens, yet the record keeps playing. When this happens I fight it for approximately two days. Then I start to whine, “But I want a spicy chicken sooooo baaaad! Whaaa! It’s not faaaaair! Why do they have to be baaaad for meeeeeee? Whaaaa!” Then I start to whine at my husband, “But you can eat whatever you waaaaaant! It’s not faaaair! Why can’t I have the skinny gene tooooooo? Whaaa!” Then I rationalize. Then I make plans to eat the spicy chicken, all the while making halfhearted attempts to talk myself out of it, just so I can look back later and comfort myself by saying that I at least tried. Then I eat the fucking thing and get it over with.

Last night was the night of the spicy chicken. Last night was the end of rationalization. Last night I just went to the drive up and ordered the damn thing.

It should be noted that not only was I the only car in the drive thru, there were no customers inside the Wendy’s either. How do I know this? Oh, you’re about to find out. I order my spicy chicken sandwich, requesting that my sandwich be made plain as a part of a value meal with a diet coke . A gangster-esque voice asks me what size I want my value meal: small, medium, or large? “Um, medium?” I respond. “Six-nineteen, please pull around to the window,” says the girl who I am now sure is going to initiate me with some sort of gang ritual when I pull my car around.

So I pull around to the window with six dollars and twenty cents. Six dollars? Seriously? For a piece of chicken, a potato and maybe 20 cents worth of cola in a 7 cent glass? Fine, whatever. I. NEED. SPICY. CHICKEN. so I fork it over. The girl hands me a bag, tells me that my fries are inside, but my ‘spicy’ is still cooking so if I’d just pull my car up, she’ll bring it out to me. She says all of this in approximately 4 seconds, as though the entire sentence is one long word. I blink and take the bag. She disappears before I even realize I haven’t gotten my change. Yes, it’s just a penny, but dammit, I’m a shrew! I need that penny! I pull my car forward and open the bag. Inside I see very sad fries. The sad fries look neglected, like someone cooked them and forgot about them. They’ve had their glory days and now, in their old age, someone has cast them aside in this bag and shoved them out a window. Poor fries. They are mushy, the way fries get when they get old – hell, the way most of us people get as we age. The fries are brown around the corners. I poke them to see if they’ve still got even a bit of spunk left in them. They don’t budge. They are cold and dead. These fries need buried. I decide I am not going to wait for the girl to bring the ‘spicy’ out to me before I point out the obvious defeated characteristics of these fries, as I will just have to send her right back in and then wait for her some more. I park the car. I walk inside. I say, very politely, “These fries are kind of cold and mushy. I was wondering if I could get some fresh ones?” In my mind this is not too much to ask. I just paid six freakin dollars and I am not about to eat mushy fries. I can make myself mushy fries for fifty cents at home. Ghetto girl looks at me and says, “I can’t take those back over the counter.” She’s holding up her hands as she says this, as if to shield herself from the deadly fries I’m trying to give back to her. What, radiation fries? Maybe. I look at her. “My fries are cold and mushy” I repeat. “Well I can’t take those back over the counter,” she says in a snotty voice, “you can do whatever you want with them but I can’t take them.” She turns around and yells at someone to make me a new medium fry.

At this point I look around and realize I am the only customer in the building. I wait patiently for my new fries. In the meantime, my ‘spicy’ is delivered to me. I open the spicy. Suspiciously enough, I see lettuce and tomato and mayo smeared all over the spicy. This is not good. This is not making me happy. Lettuce and tomato can be removed easily enough but I am not going to great pains to wipe the lard-looking mayo off my bun, only to feel the resulting squishyness of the bun and catch residual tastes of mayonnaise in each ensuing bite. I tell the guy at the counter that my sandwich is wrong. He takes the sandwich back over the counter. I’m not sure if there’s a difference in the rules for taking things back over the counter for chickens as opposed to fries or if he’s nicer than ghetto-girl or if he’s just stupider. I don’t care. I just want to be rid of the damn sandwich. He yells at someone to make me a new spicy, plain this time, please! It takes him four yells for the girl in back to understand that plain means ‘no toppings’. Plain. No Toppings. From her exasperated, “But what does she want on it?” I can tell that this is not a language barrier problem. English is clearly her first language. She just doesn’t understand the concept of ‘plain’. I know this is complicated, but please, I just want my damn sandwich. In the meantime, my new fries come up. They are hot and lively – fries at their peak. This makes me happy. At this point I notice that the container my fries are in is a different color and a different size than the fries I originally received. I ask the guy at the counter about this. These are medium fries, he tells me. So the first time around I apparently not only received the oldest fries in the history of fast food service, I received too few of them – not that I really would have wanted more of those particular fries, but still, it’s the principle. I wait for my spicy chicken sandwich to be completed. I know it’s probably a difficult order to fill, what with me wanting NO TOPPINGS on it and all, but still, this fast food is turning out not to be very fast. Finally I receive a spicy chicken sandwich, plain to go with my fresh medium fry. At this point I have been at Wendy’s for over 20 minutes.

Do you need a recap? I do. I received the wrong size fry container filled with fries my dog wouldn’t eat, a sandwich with the wrong toppings, and I haven’t got my change back (I need my damn penny!). I am the only person being served. The only person. The only person coming through the drive-thru. The only person in the lobby. It took twenty minutes, a return of two products, four yells to the sandwich girl in back, serious confusion about what can go back over the counter, and a shitty, snotty, ghetto attitude for me to successfully receive what I ordered in the first place and I was the only person being served. Six people behind that counter could not serve me in less than 20 minutes.

Then I remembered, “This is why I don’t eat fast food.” It’s got nothing to do with being fat and broke. I simply don’t have this much patience.

Right after that epiphany, I realized that if a person were competent enough to make a sandwich as ordered, cook fries and put them in the correct box, and make change, they probably wouldn’t be making a living at the Wendy’s drive-thru anyhow. Sometimes I forget these points. Still, it doesn’t mean you have the right to be a snotty bitch after you screwed up my order and I politely asked you to correct it, so I made eye contact with ghetto girl as I very clearly plucked a comment card off the nearest table and walked out the door.

I’m still trying to decide if ‘bitchy’ is too harsh a word for a comment card.

Dating Tips for the Boys at Flashbacks

It should be noted.... It has been pointed out that I somehow left a very important dating tip out of this post... yes, I am aware that I left the famous butter incident out. The butter incident is a story in itself, and I promise I will tell you about it one day.

I went on a weekend journey to Flashbacks on Saturday! As Jason and his three young friends (Jana, Rachel, & Sarah) are all very youthful and energetic, and as I am an old married lady, I drank approximately one pot of coffee and set out from my house around midnight. Drinks were consumed! Fun was had! IHOP was visited! All around, a good evening, even if at 25 I was the old married one.

I am here today to write a few tips to the young men who frequent Flashbacks and other dance clubs like it and feel the need to try to hook up with hot chicks like Jason’s friends and myself (yes, I’d consider myself a hot old married chick!). There seem to be some serious misconceptions floating around out there about what behaviors indicate that girls actually want to dance with you. Apparently, all those carefully perfected escape moves, secret signals, and rescues by our girlfriends (and conveniently placed nice boys we know) are somehow being misconstrued as, “Oooh, I like you! Can we dance some more? Please, please put your hand back on my ass! Hey, maybe you can hook up with me AND my friend!”. I know, “Go away!” and “Ooh, baby yeah,” are so hard to distinguish. It happens. And so I am here to offer a few pointers.

First tip: If there is a group of four girls dancing, do not dance with one girl, and then when she rejects you move on down the line to the rest of her friends, one by one. Ok, seriously, what makes you think this is a good idea? First of all, if I know I’m third or fourth on your list of hot chicks to dance with, do you think I really want to dance with you? Do you think you’re at all raising my self esteem to the point where I’d think you were an excellent person to have in my life? Secondly, if one of them seems to think you’re kind of a loser, chances are the rest of them will too. And even if one might think you’re sort of cute, she’s not going to hook up with you right in front of her other three friends that just rejected you. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

Here’s another tip: If you start dancing with a girl and her friend immediately starts dancing with her, go away. This is not for your benefit. The girls are not trying to give you hot two-girl action. Rather, this is an escape move that is usually devised long before the girls reach the club and is to be implemented whenever one girl is attacked by a boy she doesn’t want to be attacked by, which, by two in the morning is usually every boy, as they are mostly all drunk and not all that enticing. Just walk away.

Next tip: If a girl tells you she is married, don’t say, “So?” Oh, that is so not cool. First of all, you have just proved to me what a huge jackass you are that you don’t care whether I’m married or not, you just want to hook up. Nope, not cool. Just because you’re a total douchebag when it comes to fidelity doesn’t mean I am. Secondly, use a bit of common sense. If a girl says she is married, she doesn’t want to hook up with you. Period. If she was married and just didn’t care she wouldn’t bring it up. She’d just leave with you.

Also, don’t argue with me about whether I am actually married or not. Yes, I am married! What, you don’t believe me? You don’t think I’m cute enough anyone would want to marry me? Then why the hell are you trying to hook up with me? Secondly, if I wasn’t really married, but I’d gone to the trouble of wearing a fake ring and telling you I was, that would indicate that I wasn’t really interested anyway. See previous tip. Go away.

Mmmm, what else? If four girls are dancing with one boy and the moment you walk up to them, they all feel the need to be very close to that one boy, take a hint. Or be prepared to have your ass beat by said boy.

Also, don’t randomly touch my ass. Again, not cool. I don’t want my ass touched by you. If you’re the sort that randomly grabs asses, I don’t even know where your hand has been. I’ll have to sterilize my ass. Do you know how much of an inconvenience that is?

If you have managed to actually meet a nice girl somewhere and talked her into going on a date with you, there are additional tips you will need. From personal experience, I give you these gems of wisdom:

DO NOT insist that you can see your date’s aura and continue to describe to her what color it is, what it says about her personality, and what it means in terms of who she might have been in a previous life.

insist that you have met your date in a previous life and that you were married in that life. Do not insist that this previous marriage in a supposed former life is an indicator of where your relationship should go from here.

DO NOT tell your date that you’ve been reincarnated and sent here from the past to revolutionize the world using the mass media. Do you know how Hitler/Big Brother/creepy that sounds?

DO NOT tell your date that your spirit can travel to her house and be with her when she sleeps. Can anyone say creepy? Even your disembodied spirit is a stalker. Not good.

DO NOT get to know a girl over a period of time as a friend, insist that you’re just friends, hang out on what you have emphasized as a ‘non-date’ and then attack her and attempt to maul her with frighteningly enthusiastic kisses. When she escapes and tells you she doesn’t like you that way, do not call her later that week and tell her that you probably shouldn’t see each other anymore as it’s just not working out for you. Seriously, I somehow got broken up with by a boy I wasn’t dating who I told I wasn’t interested in after being mauled on a non-date. How does that even happen?

DO NOT take a girl to a cemetery, bring her to a specific tombstone, tell her that one time when you were at the cemetery (seriously, who spends all their free time at the cemetery anyways?) this tombstone floated in the air and the dead came up from under it and chased you around, and then use this story as the explanation for why the tombstone has some chips in it – you know, from when it fell back to the ground. I’m not even sure what the worst part of that story is – that the dead supposedly chased you around, or that this is considered a plausible explanation for damage to the tombstone. I don’t even know where to begin.

DO NOT tell the girl that God told you to marry her. Just don’t do it. What, did God leave you a message on your voicemail? Did He text this to you? And why didn’t he text her, too?

DO NOT start off a relationship by telling the girl that you’ll probably never be able to support a family.

DO NOT ask a girl you are trying to hook up with if she thinks you should file for bankruptcy. See previous tip.

DO NOT tell the girl that you have a million dollars buried under the floor. Why is the million dollars under the floor? Where did it come from? Is there a body down there with it? And why, pray tell, haven’t you dug it up and taken me to a nice dinner already, dammit!?!

DO NOT bring up pre-nuptial agreements on your second date. Also, while you’re busy not bringing up the pre-nup on this date, don’t forget to censor yourself from saying, “I’ve got me a nice piece of land, a job all lined up, and a good home. All I need is a wife and some kids underfoot to work the farm.” I am not birthing your production line. Sorry.

If you are pulled over while transporting a girl on a date, DO NOT wait until the police officer lets you go and then say, “Phew! I’m glad he didn’t want proof of my car insurance!”

DO NOT begin ANY sentences with the phrase, “Well, when I was living in my car…”.

So, guys… I hope that helps. Tune in next time for more helpful dating hints!