Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Little Redemption

So, after last week's major Obama crisis in the Catholic church, I have a bit of a happier story to share with you all.

My good friend Mabel reported to me this week that there is a lady who volunteers at her workplace who voted for Mr. McCain based on one sole issue. *sigh* However, upon Mr. Obama's election, this sweet little voter decided that instead of being mad about it, she ought to remember to pray for the president elect, because she believes she's supposed to pray for our leaders in power. Kind of a nice thought, if you ask me.

Wanna know how she's going to remember to pray for Obama every day?

Oh, come on, you know you want to know.

She went to Wal-Mart, bought a black goldfish, brought it home, and named it Obama.

Obama, the black goldfish.

She told Mabel that if her goldfish dies she will keep buying new black goldfish and naming them Obama so that every day when she has to feed Obama she will also remember to pray for Obama.

That might be the most politically incorrect idea I have ever heard, but I have to give her credit; it is fairly clever.

So there's my bit of redemption for the Christian church today. Keep up the good (if slightly wonky) work.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sneak Peak!

Hello out there!

I'm writing today to tell you that I'm thinking of taking on some sort of writing project again. I'm not sure exactly what it's going to look like, except that it will be something in journal form that lets me tell a fictional story that might, coincidentally, have a lot in common with my not-so-fictional life. I wrote the first little bit and I thought I would share for some feedback and just to give you a sneak peak into my little writing world. Also, I can't think of anything else to write today. So, I guess this is what you're stuck with.

Excerpt #1 from To Uona (a work in progress)

August 13, 2009
To Uona:

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. At least, that’s what they tell me. Who is they? you ask.. Who isn’t it? We’ve got the Hallmark card company and the Chicken Soup for the Soul books and all the sappy music you can handle to let you know that today is the day that really counts – the day you can pick yourself up and choose the direction of your life and make something out of your future. In May there will be a whole new slew of inspirational T-shirts and tailor made songs for the graduating class of 2010, telling them it’s the first day of their rest of their lives. My class got a song called something stupid like, “Don’t Forget to Wear Sunscreen”. I can’t remember the name for sure, but my whole body tenses up each May when I hear it on the radio and I think about the difference between what it was we all thought we were supposed to have become and where we all stand right now.

Telling us that today is the first day of the rest of our lives is just like telling us we can do anything we want, so long as we put our minds to it. It’s total shit, of course. I could no more pick myself up and decide to be a pilot than my cat could pick himself up and decide to make himself a seeing-eye dog. I’m a writer. I was born a writer and I’ve spent my life as a writer and I’m still a writer and I’m going to die a writer. It is what it is. Oh, I guess theoretically I could go to flying school and learn to be a pilot and take all the tests I need and get all my certifications – I could even make a living flying a plane…. but I’d still never really be a pilot. I’d still always be a writer.

Besides, it’s not like this first day of the rest of my life cancels out the last 27 years. They want me to believe that today I can choose the direction of my life because they want me to step up and be something better than I’ve ever been, but the truth is that I’ve been choosing the direction of my life since I was roughly 12 years old.

This is one of the great lies of my generation. I can never really be a pilot and my cat can never be a seeing-eye dog. My friend Cuthbert can never be straight; believe me, he tried. No wonder our generation is so fucked up. We grew up with all these ambitions about everything we could be only to realize once we hit 23 that we were already everything we ever had the capacity for. Maybe that’s why it feels like, at 28, most of my peers have given up. Me, I’m just happy that I know I’m a writer. It isn’t glamorous and I’m not famous and very few people really care what I have to say, but I know what I am. I know where I fit and I have the sense to stay there and grow rather than run around the world trying to find the part of myself that was in there all the time, burning myself out more and more as the years go on wondering why I never became anything great while completely ignoring the fact that there was never anything in me the masses would consider great in the first place.

Today I turned 28. Cuthbert bought me this journal because Curthbert knows that very little makes me as happy as a journal with a plain cover I can doodle macabre messages on and college-ruled lines inside. Like I said, I’m a writer. I think Cuthbert would’ve gotten me some nice pens too, except that he knows the only pens I really like are the ones the United Way gives away each year when they come to my office and ask for a donation. I have no idea where they order those from, but I’d give to their annual campaign just to get my hands on the pens they hand out with their donation forms. As it is, I just steal them off my co-workers’ desks. Again, I’m a writer. I can’t afford to give to their campaign.

You, dear Uona, were named this evening after several rounds of Irish Mist on the rocks and half a pack of clove cigarettes. Consider yourself honored; you have been named after a song from one of my most beloved bands. Homeless J has a song about a woman named Uona that their lead singer met in Jerusalem one day. According to said lead singer, the rest of the people he was traveling with wanted to go to a Hard Rock Café. This seemed remotely stupid to him as he can go to the Hard Rock Café any old time here in the States, so he hung out outside and met a woman named Uona. Then he wrote a song about it, slapped it into an album, and bam! I was inspired. You shall be henceforth be known as Uona if for no other reason than I want to remember never to trade experiences of the unknown for safe familiarity. It’s so easy to walk into the Hard Rock Cafés of the world, Uona, without even realizing that you’ve walked by something more interesting on your way in. America does that to us, I guess. Wal-Marts and strip malls make it so we never have a change of landscape, no matter where we go. No wonder Mr. Lead Singer’s friends were uncomfortable hanging out outside.

Tonight I’m sitting outside on the small landing that separates my back door from the stairs of the fire escape on my apartment building. From the fifth floor here I can see all the way downtown. In the summer, when we have our annual fireworks display at the end of our annual summer festival (read: excuse to indulge in junk food and cheap knick knacks) I can see the fireworks from the fire escape. No one else seems to come out and sit on their fire escapes, so it serves as the only quiet little space of the world I can indulge in outside. I’m fairly certain it wasn’t designed as a writer’s hangout, but as long as no one minds I’m claiming it as my own.

My cat Sam is sitting at the screen door looking out at me like he always does when I sit out here. I don’t know why I’m so much more interesting when I’m outside, but apparently I am. If I were inside and writing away, Sam would do what any normal cat does – ignore the hell out of me and scrounge for whatever morsels of people food he can find. Funny little cat he is.

I guess this is my moment of truth, Uona. You see, tomorrow morning will be Sunday morning and my grand plan is to drag myself out of bed at a reasonable hour and drive to the nearest church for services. I haven’t been in three years for reasons I don’t have the time or the energy to explain tonight. Perhaps I’ll dig deeper if the church experiment goes well tomorrow. I’m scared out of my mind yet at the same time strangely exhilarated. I can’t tell you exactly why I need to go to church tomorrow. I don’t understand myself and I suspect that even if I did, that understanding would be too vague to put into words. I just know that I need to go. I’ve been too long without a God and I feel lost. It’s funny how most of the people I know see God as this omni-present traffic officer, waiting for you to screw up so He can dole out Hail Marys or write your sentence to hell, and yet most of us still need something to reach out to in the middle of the night that can chase the monsters back into our closets and tuck us back into bed. I don’t know what God really is, or if He exists, or what it means if He doesn’t. I just know I need something, Uona, and I don’t know where else to go to get it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why I Am Not a Christian - Reason # 471

I poppped open my computer this morning and what did I see?

"Priest: No communion for Obama supporters"

Hell of a headline, wouldn't you agree?

Apparently, "a South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him 'constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil.'"

"The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote."

You can read the article here.

I think my favorite part of the article is the declaration that supporting Barak Obama 'constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil'. Ummmm, ok. So does that mean, for example, that if I support the Catholic Church I've cooperated with intrinsic evil as well? I mean, there are those priests who molested little kids, right? That seems like pretty intrinsic evil to me. And there was that whole Inquisition thing, right? That wasn't exactly flowers and butterflies and rainbows. And then there was.... oh, wait, we're supposed to forgive the church for not being perfect and stick with it anyways. At least, that's what I've been told. But Barak Obama - eh, screw 'em. He's intrinsic evil. Nevermind the fact that my other viable option had no problem letting soldiers continue to die. Soldiers' lives apparently don't hold as much value as those of the unborn. Nevermind that my other viable option wanted to tax my medical insurance to somehow make my insurance better (yea, if you figure that one out, let me know).

Or maybe my favorite part was the part that says parishoners are 'putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.' What ever happened to that whole 'whoever believes and is baptized' spiel? So, if you do penance, you're still in. If you don't, and you take communion too early....... well, your soul will burn in the fiery flames of the inferno for all eternity. I'm sorry, but that sounds just plain stupid to me. If there is a god out there and he is so strung up on all of us performing some exact task in some exact order that we don't even have real directions on that he is going to send us into a fiery pit upon our deaths for screwing it up.... well, that's a pretty lame god, if you ask me.

I've lost unborn babies and I know that they are precious. I believe strongly that abortion is a sucky thing and I wish it didn't exist in our society. But you know what? I don't believe that Barak Obama is intrinsic evil. I also believe that we're fighting a war we don't have business being a part of anymore. I've lost classmates to battle and I've cried for them and dreamed about them and I've cursed our government for sending them away in the first place. I think we should get the hell out of there. But I don't believe that John McCain is intrinsic evil. I hate the way this priest is sending the message that if you don't agree with whatever stance he's taken, you don't agree with god and therefore you're risking your eternal soul. Maybe god is pissed on behalf of the soldiers we've lost, too. Who knows?

I'm not trying to make a political statement with this blog. Whoever you voted for - I'm cool with it, so long as you sat down and looked at the candidates and made a decision based on what you believe. For those who jumped up and voted for McCain for no other reason than that your church told you to, shame on you. For those of you who voted based on one single issue without looking at the rest of the picture, shame on you. And I mean that for both sides. If all you looked at was abortion, shame on you. If all you looked for was support of gay marriage, shame on you. Neither candidate was perfect. I couldn't get behind everything McCain said. I couldn't get behind everything Obama said. At this point in my life I've figured out that I'm never going to agree 100% with any certain political party, so I made a choice based on what I could agree with and what I felt would bring the best possible situation to our country. Maybe I made the right choice, maybe I made the wrong choice. But I thought it out and I made the best choice I could, and I'm okay with that.

What blows my mind is that there are Christians out there that aren't okay with that to the extent they would threaten me with eternal damnation if I didn't do things just their way. It reminds me of a quote from Douglas Coupland's Hey Nostradamus!:

"Jason's father, Reg, always said, 'Love what God loves and hate
what God hates,' but more often than not I had the impression that he really
meant, 'Love what Reg loves and hate what Reg hates.' "

Quite apropo, don't you think?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Random PSA for Preggo Chicks in Indiana

Here is my random PSA for the week:

If you are a pregnant chick in the state of Indiana, I would like to encourage you to contact Donor Services of Indiana and inquire about their cord blood / cord / placenta donation program. I spoke with the agency earlier today and the long and short of it is this: I can donate the cord and placenta when my baby comes and the cord blood and stem stells they can harvest will be used to help people in need.

Not a bad gig, if I do say so myself. Of course, I didn't have any major plans for my cord or placenta anyways so this doesn't seem a huge inconvenience for me. If you were planning on Placenta Patte you might not want to go this route.

According to the guy I talked to on the phone my cord blood and stem cells can help people recover from cancer, provide transplant material for people's eyes who've had chemical burns, and all sorts of other nice humanitarian things. All I have to do is fill out of bunch of paperwork, show up at the hospital, and give birth, the latter of which I was planning to do anyways.

Contact for Donor Services of Indiana is:
(260) 749-9105.

At least think about it, ok? Somebody out there could surely use your help - and hey! - you didn't want that nasty old placenta anyways, did you?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tales of My Career Path: Volume II

Last week’s post about my Housing Authority adventures got me thinking about my career path. I haven’t had a lot of different jobs, but I’ve been working since I was 15. As you may have guessed, it’s difficult for a 15 year old to get any sort of decent job, so crazy stories of my work experiences abound. Today I’m going to tell you a lovely little story about the time I worked at a Kohl’s Department Store. I hope you enjoy…

Once upon a time I was going to college and working at Kohl’s. For those who don’t know, Kohl’s is just a typical department store, kind of like Sears but without all the large appliances and machinery. Sadly, my assignment at Kohl’s was to ring customers up at the register. Ringing customers up at the cash register is the single most boring, mind-numbing job assignment possible at a department store but it turns out that only about a quarter of the entire population is smart enough to handle this task so this is where I was sent. I don’t know what’s so complicated about scanning a bar code and swiping a credit card, but only the best and brightest are assigned this job at my local Kohl’s. Come to think of it, this raises serious questions for me about the nature of ‘self-scan’ checkouts at the grocery, but I suppose that is another topic for another day.

A typical day at the Kohl’s checkout looked like this:

  • Stand around for a good hour with nothing to do once the store has opened
  • Ring up one customer
  • Stand around for another hour with nothing to do.
  • Call housewares and see if they need any towels folded
  • Fold towels for an hour
  • Ring up 6 customers who come in on their lunch hour
  • Straighten every rack of shirts within eyesight of your register
  • Stand around some more
  • Claw out eyes with own fingernails to keep insanity at bay
  • Stand around
  • Bang head on countertop 8 times
  • Ring up customer who looks slightly alarmed at the sight of you and avoids eye contact
  • Give an audible sigh of relief when your replacement clocks in 15 minutes late and finally makes it over to your register

Needless to say, this was not the ideal career choice for a girl such as myself who does crazy things like reading Dostoyevski for fun. I’m not trying to make this a brag post, but geez! I swear I could feel myself getting stupider each and every day as I made my way to my checkout counter.

As the holidays approached each year this routine would change. There would be less and less standing around and more and more ringing up customers. This was a blessing and a curse: I no longer had to bang my head on the counter out of sheer boredom, but I did have to make lively conversation with every person who came through my lane, which basically sucked the life out of me. Really, I don’t care what kind of pj’s you got to go with your slippers or which candle scent your husband likes the best. I. DON’T. CARE. And pretending to care about such mundane crap for 8 hours a day is enough to leave one nearly comatose. Believe me.

So this one day I’m ringing up customers one by one as the holidays draw closer. It was a fairly busy Saturday afternoon in December if that tells you anything – not the sort of day where you have a lot of time to deal with drama if you’re in the retail business. So I’m standing at my register and this middle aged lady comes up to me and leans in real close like she’s going to tell me a secret or she has to say something that embarrasses her. This alarms me in and of itself as I don’t know who the hell the lady is and I’m already worn out from pretending to care about 700 strangers who are all cranky from Christmas shopping. However, I put on my happy face and pretend like I am deeply interested in what she has to say. She leans forward further and whispers to me:

“There’s a naked man in your men’s department!”

Me: Excuse me?

Lady: (whispering) A naked man! (points over to men’s department)

Me: A naked man?

Lady: (nods seriously and points to men’s department)

Me: OK, I’ll take care of it.

Now, whatever possessed me to believe I could take of a naked man running amok in a Kohl’s store eludes me at the moment. I just know that a middle aged women had just declared to me that there was a naked man in my store and I was going to have to do something about it. I did the first two things I could think of: I called the store manager and I called security. Both came running to my register to confirm that I’d just said what they thought I’d just said: that there was a naked man running wild in our store.

We soon had a witch hunt on our hands. Every employee in my Kohl’s store was on the lookout for the naked man that was allegedly creeping around our men’s department, completely exposed for all to see. Being stuck at my post at the cash register, I wasn’t able to help with the hunt, so various employees simply wandered over to me at 5 minute intervals, giving me updates:

“…no one’s seen him yet…”

“… I hope he stayed out of the kids department…”

“… I wonder where his clothes are...”

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Let me take a moment to note that for as much as everyone claimed they didn’t want to see the naked man, every single person working in that store was in hot, persistent pursuit of him. I’m guessing this was the result of the same primal instinct that makes us slow down and gawk at car accidents.

After 20 minutes the witch hunt (aka, the naked man hunt) was called off and the suspect was apprehended by an innocent, 40-ish, fairly fragile Men’s Department employee named Margot. Apparently, the naked man who’d caused all of this fuss was actually…

you are not going to believe this….

a mannequin.

A naked mannequin.

I sent my entire Kohl’s store out to hunt down a naked mannequin on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of the busiest season of the year.


In my defense, the middle aged lady really did tell me there was a naked man on the loose. Also in my defense, I did think to repeat back to her what she’d said to confirm it. It’s not like she just said ‘mannequin’ and I somehow failed to catch the ‘-equin’ part. Luckily, my store manager had a pretty good sense of humor and instead of firing me, only laughed heartily every time he saw me for the next 2 months.

Even more luckily, they don’t make those mannequins anatomically correct.