Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A Moment Of Clarity

"Where have you gone? I had a lot of plans for you," Hossein Golestani sang softly to the lifeless form of his 7-year-old daughter, Fatima, held in his arms. The body of his 8-year-old daughter Mariam lay beside him in the devastated village of Hotkan.
By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Sometimes you don’t see your own inner darkness until the lights go out around you.

I don’t know how I formed my perceptions of other people in the Middle East. Countries like Iran. Where “they hate Americans,” “Islamic Fundamentalists Extremists,” “terrified women in burkas” and “hardened men with guns” seems to sum up the images that float through my mind. They are used to war and devastation. They are an angry people immune to the anguish of death. That is what I see in the news every single day. They are not like us.

But a father singing a tender song of mourning over the broken lifeless bodies of his precious little girls… this did not come into the picture until today. It is a song that only love can sing. The deep aching song of the moments which are forever lost; trying to carry to heaven a message to the children taken too soon. He is singing of dreams that his grief can not yet release him from.

It wasn’t war. It was an earthquake. But untimely death tears the heart as violently in human or natural devastation. I don’t know if this is the man the story talks about. But according to the AP news caption he is from the same town. And a tiny limp foot of a child can be seen protruding from beneath the blanket. Even if he isn't the same man I know he sings the same song.

When will I learn not to see the borders? When will we all learn? How do we begin? Must the lights go out for a million innocent children and their families before we see we are the same? Surely a million children have died by now. And more. How long will it take?

And how long will this moment of clarity last for me? What will happen later in this day, this week, this life of mine to distract me. To make me forget long enough to begin the cycle of dehumanization again. Why can’t I hold onto this reality forever? Why does it seem to slip away when I need it most? Why does it have to be so damned easy to write each other off; to hate through indifference?

Monday, February 21, 2005

All Junked Up.

I know better. I really do. I had a giant oatmeal chocolate chip cookie for breakfast and a coffee with hot chocolate mixed in.

Then I had ramen noodles for lunch, cause it’s raining and I didn’t want to drive some place. I was still hungry so I bought some milk from the vending machine and used it to soften up about 6 Oreo cookies I had stashed in a Ziploc bag in my desk.

I feel gross. I feel like I’m gonna hurl. I know better, but I didn’t care. I just did it anyway. It’s Lent for crying out loud! Shouldn’t I have given up dumb stuff like this?

And here I am thinking about starting a family. I need to take a class in nutrition or my future kids will get scooped up by Social Services right out of the womb.

I feel like poo. I just want to drink a lot of water and then belch to make it all go away. God, pleeease forgive me for not using the good sense You gave me!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

...To The Last Drop

I love coffee. I’m not even sure it’s the caffeine. I mean I know that’s part of it. But if I can’t have regular, I can settle for decaf and still not get caffeine headaches. That does not make sense, I know, but it’s true.

I only need about a ½ cup too. After over 30 years of drinking the stuff you’d think I’d need 3 or 4 to get my java buzz. But Nope! Just a little dab’ll do me. In fact more than two will make my heart all fluttery.

I started drinking coffee as a kid. I think I was 6 or 7. My grandmother would have a cup every morning. I had to do everything she did so I whined until she gave me some. Really what she gave me was coffee flavored milk with a butt load of sugar.

Actually it was Evaporated Milk, or canned milk as she called it. Which is already sweet to begin with. She’d pop two holes in the can with the pointed end of a bottle opener. One hole to pour and one hole to let air into so it wouldn't spurt all over. Sometimes if she was out of canned milk, she’d pop open a can of condensed milk and water it down. Condensed milk is even sweeter. She usually only used it for making homemade ice cream. For sugar she used “Sugar in the Raw” the chunkier unprocessed stuff. A friend of mine thought I was talking about a porno video when I told him I like my coffee with “Sugar In the Raw.”

I still like it that way. “You want some coffee with your cream and sugar?” Michael will say, watching me fix my morning cup. If we go to a restaurant for breakfast and they only give you that tiny pitcher of cream; I let him get his little splash first, then I pretty much empty the thing into my cup. Sometimes I make room by pouring a bit of the black stuff into my saucer first.

I like Mexican coffee. It has a lot of milk in it. My friend Carmen makes it like her dad did. He was Puerto Rican. He used instant coffee and hot milk. No water. It tastes so good. If you haven’t tried it, you should. I’m lactose intolerant but I do it anyway on occasion and suffer the consequences.

On most days I put a presweetened non-dairy creamer in my coffee. A lot of it actually. Michael will gag if he accidentally takes a drink from my cup. When I go to Starbucks I’ll get a latte or a White Chocolate Mocha like I did today. I had the girl put a ½ pump of Valencia syrup in it. Starbucks can go a little crazy with the syrup if you don’t watch them. They can actually make it too sweet for ME.

I stopped for coffee this morning because there was accident on the 5 freeway. I knew there was no getting around the traffic jam. If I was gonna sit in traffic I was gonna enjoy it. The accident was bad. A van rammed into the back of a stalled semi. 3 People died. It happened early about 5:00am I think they said. When I passed the wreck on the side of the road it was 9:40. Pulverized. Heart-wrenching.

I wonder what they are feeling right now; the families of the people who died. I wonder if they are remembering that last cup of coffee shared in the wee dark hours of the morning. That last coffee-flavored kiss goodbye. The empty cup that stands cold on the counter. I wonder if it will ever taste the same for them.

Friday, February 11, 2005


I’m craving some serious bonding. I love my man but I miss my girlfriends. My best friends Anne & Carmen are so far away. Well Carmen is not too far but a two hour drive does not help with the hang out factor. Anne is all the way down in Florida. Maggie is back in the Midwest again. And I just heard from Francine. She’s in England studying at Oxford for her PhD; not surprising considering she’s a genius. Haven’t heard from Carolina in a while or my college pals Christina and Crystelle. I guess I need to catch up with folks. I talk to Susan every once in a while. And Melissa and I exchange emails every now and then.

People talk about male bonding but I don’t think ‘female bonding’ carries the same weight. It should though. I don’t know what I’d do without my friends. Actually of all my friends I think my mom is the one I count on most. My guy is wonderful but he pisses me off sometimes. Venting to my girlfriends about his work-aholic nature and occasional moodiness tends to elicit mirrored angst as they impart the antics of their own guys. But when I vent to my mom we end up laughing. Mainly cause she and my dad have usually been having the same issues after 26 years of marriage Somehow it’s easier to laugh about it and accept that it “ain’t gonna change” but you can still love each other anyway. With my gal pals it’s like “I can change him. I will change him. HE WILL BEND TO MY WILL ONE WAY OR THE OTHER!!!!” Yeah, right.

But I miss hanging out. Doing girly stuff. Having fun. Girls Night Out. Dancing. Chick flicks. Shopping. Enthusiastic bitch sessions sautéed in wine, cocktails and an endless supply of dessert. Trading our best stories on how we seduced our guys. And recounting the list of bastards we had to sift through to find the Lover Boy who now drives us crazy in good ways and bad. Yeah, I miss that stuff. A good girlfriend can save your life. And your sanity.

I work with a whole lot of really cool women. But I just don’t think any of us would really hang out together beyond an occasional Friday night happy hour. Plus, I’m lonelier than nun at a strip bar. Ever since I moved to San Diego, it’s just been me and Michael. And he’s more than content to abandon his friends and devote all his free time to me. Of course, when he works 7 days a week that doesn’t afford him much free time to lavish on me. So I need to find some girlfriends. Some local ones.

I don’t know why but I’m scared to. I found this group of women online who live locally. They get together and do stuff. One day I’m gonna join in on one of their ventures. I just don’t know when. Maybe I’m not lonely enough yet. It’s almost like online dating. Only it’s online friend-ing. Maybe I’ll try it.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Things That Make You Go, OY!

Logic. It’s Just Not Natural. How else can it be so passionately ignored?

Take for example the gay marriage issue. AGAIN. People who are against it say that they are not discriminating against gays. They say that they just want to preserve marriage between a man and a woman. But by excluding one group from a legal right you are treating them differently based on who they are. Uh… last time I checked, that’s discrimination!

See what I mean? No logic. And it’s a global epidemic.

Take the Sunnis in Iraq. Their religious leaders exhorted them not to vote in the elections. Now they are realizing that in the new government they don’t have any representation. They are saying it’s not fair because their people didn’t get a say. Well, DUH! When you tell your people not to vote, and they don’t vote, then they don’t get government representation. What did you think would happen? That the rest of the country would throw you a bone and just appoint one of your guys as a consolation prize?

And then there’s North Korea. “We have nukes! We will use them to defend ourselves from a U.S. attack! All 2 of ‘em!!!” Okay guys, you wouldn’t be on the radar if you hadn’t made such a big deal of the fact that you were developing nuclear weapons. And how smart is it to advertise? I mean we attacked a country because we SUSPECTED WMDs and you come out and brag about it? And then you swagger about having TWO. Do you know how many we have? Well, neither do I, but I’m pretty sure it’s more than two. And from what I know about you (and I don’t much other that you’re somewhere near South Korea) you don’t even have any significant oil wells that we could want to spare from being irradiated. So we can pretty much obliterate you. Wouldn’t it have been more logical to at least wait till Bush’s term was over? You know how trigger happy our D.C. cowboy is.

And then there’s me. I watch too much T.V. I stay up too late and then I’m sleepy in the morning. I run late and then drive like a bat out of hell to get to work 10 minutes late. I start the day frustrated and I putz around until I can finally focus. Then I cram to get everything done. I sit in traffic with the rest of the cattle and crawl home. I get home and I’m wiped. So what do I do? I tell myself I need to veg cause my day sucked. Then I sit down in front of the tube and eat dinner. I stay for a few extra hours until I realize it’s 11:30 and by the time I clean out the kitty litter box, load the dishwasher, wash my face and brush my teeth it’s 12:30. Logic dictates I stop watching tv. But I don’t do it.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Happily Ever After

Okay, I may be excommunicated for this but I’m actually kind of hoping they pass the whole Gay Marriage thing in New York. Now I don’t particularly have a desire to go to a gay wedding. Unless I knew and was especially fond of the groom or… the groom; I would not really care one way or the other. Of course, in that case I would probably not be invited anyway, but more power to 'em.

I'll admit, seeing a guy making out with a guy or a gal making out with another gal is still a bit weird to me. Blame it on my upbringing. Blame it on my religion. Blame it on society. Blame it on whatever you want. It just doesn't make me sigh in an "oh isn't that romantic" kind of way. If I'm being honest, liberal as I am, I'd have to confess to wincing on occasion. (Come to think of it, I've winced at a few hetero kisses too, but probably not for same reason.)

But still I am rooting for legal gay marriage. I didn’t just jump on the band wagon. I wrestled with the Catholic thing. I wrestled with the tradition thing. I wrestled with the vision of wedding pictures that have no bride and receptions where two bouquets get tossed. I prayed a lot about it.

But it came down to law and religion. Church and State. There is simply no way you can read the Constitution of these United States and its treasured Amendments and conclude that banning gay marriage is anything but discrimination. You just can’t. We are all created equal. Our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not predicated on race, gender or gender preference. Happily Ever After is for Prince Charming and his Mr. Right too, whether you like it or not. And if you don’t like it, well then that just sucks for you doesn’t it?

I don’t mean to be cruel to the fundamentalist Christians and Catholics whose sensitive stomachs are roiling at the thought. But that’s life guys. I know you’re thinking, “But this is a Christian nation founded by Christian men whose values and faith are the reason we have such a great nation. If we validate this abomination we will offend our Creator.”

Uh…no. Seriously, Don’t you think racism, poverty, greed and violence offend our Creator a heck of a lot more than two dudes declaring undying love? Let’s shift some priorities folks. And the whole “Christian Nation” thing necessitates a bit of clarification.

Yes, our founding fathers were largely, if not entirely, Christian. Yes, Christianity is very likely the largest single faith professed by our population. But that’s where the term “Christian Nation” ends its accuracy. It does not mean that the USA is a nation ONLY for Christians. It does not mean the laws are made only for us and to hell (literally and figuratively) with everyone else. We don’t get to make the rules and force them on everyone else. You can’t make it mean that no matter how many times you spam your buddies with adulterated copies of George Washington’s Prayer for our Nation. If that’s what Christian Nation meant there would be no identifiable difference between living here and living in say, Iran.

And it it’s dangerous to argue that because we are the majority that we have the right to exclude others from the same rights that we enjoy. Think about it people. You know there’s a lot of folks getting into the occult these days. What if one day THEY are the majority and decide to slam us? Precedent can be dangerous if it’s set on injustice. In fact that is exactly what our founding fathers were guarding against. Injustice, I mean, not Satanism.

These were men who still remembered the religious persecutions suffered by the Pilgrims who first ventured here. In fact, some of them lived through such things themselves. The guys who INVENTED this country were the same guys who INVENTED SEPARATION of CHURCH and STATE. They knew that religious totalitarianism is by far the worst kind.

So it begs the question: Why would they as Christians establish a government and endow it with the capability to refute and reject the very Author of their faith? For the same reasons God would create the human race and endow it with the capability to reject Him out of hand too. Because Faith and Freedom are inextricable. Only a people who are free to reject God can develop the faith to truly love God. Only those who are slaves to their own self-loathing will feel redeemed by ramming God down the throats of others. After all if nobody questions Him, then maybe the doubts in their own secretly tormented souls will subside. Our founding fathers established our laws to preserve our freedoms and keep the peace between us. But only a true Faith, freely practiced, can give us peace within ourselves.

Denying the Gay and Lesbian community the rights that they were born with as Americans (even if we haven’t acknowledged it yet) will give neither them nor the Hetero community any peace. Homosexuals will still be there. If you are homophobic you will still have to live in a reality where they exist. So you will still be frustrated. You will still refuse to Tivo "Will & Grace." I will still wince at girl-girl french kissing.

The only way you will find peace is to trust God. Love gays and lesbians as they are and allow them the freedom to hear Him without your condemnation ringing in their ears. If He wants to change them He’ll do it. And if it turns out that He made them that way on purpose and didn’t bother to inform the rest of us, then you won’t be annoying the crap out Him anymore with your insistence that he HEAL them.

“But it’s IN THE BIBLE!” you say, “The Bible says it’s evil. We have to make it law.” You are SO barking up the wrong tree with that argument. The Bible has historically been used to justify all manner of atrocity and injustice. Here’s just a few… racism, spousal abuse, child abuse, vigilantism, genocide, animal cruelty and, oh yes, SLAVERY. Remember, BLACK WOMAN here! If we were still singing that song, I'd be pickin' cotton right now. You buy yourself no brownie points with the “It’s in the Bible” argument. And, by the way, every one of those “Bible sanctified” injustices is now ILLEGAL in this Christian Nation!

Now that does that mean I think that Christian Churches should start performing Gay ceremonies left and right. HECK NO! Are you kidding? We as Christians are not ready for that? We may never be. Because there is a biblical basis (notice I say a “basis” not a “justification”) for not accepting homosexuality. Until we hear otherwise from the Big Guy, it is necessary for the faith that such weddings be conducted outside the Church. Is that a cop out? Maybe, maybe not. I think it was Paul who advised the early church in its internal disputes between Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles over which dinner menus were divinely acceptable (food and sex are so closely intertwined in the human psyche that I think it applies here too) ...

I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; still, it is unclean for someone who thinks it unclean. If your brother is being hurt by what you eat, your conduct is no longer in accord with love. Do not because of your food destroy him for whom Christ died. Romans 14; 14–15

I think for Christians who are convinced of the wrongness of homosexuality it would be damaging to their faith to see it condoned by the church. Maybe that makes us all weak. But rubbing a social victory in someone’s face spiritually is wrong regardless of whether it’s your civil right or not. It’s not good to ram spiritual reform down people’s throats in the church any more than it is to do it in government. So don’t look to me to write any protest letters to churches supporting gay marriage or gay clergy or anything like that.

You know, I sometimes wish there was nothing about homosexuality in the bible. But it’s there and I don’t pretend it isn’t. I just keep thinking with all I know of God; not just that harsh handful of verses, but EVERYTHING; does it jibe? Honestly I don’t think it does, unless I’m missing some key piece of the puzzle. I’m sure I am because God is complicated and we are complicated children. But who’s to say what piece is missing.

So much of the Bible was based on the cultures of the time. We could never live in those cultures today, should we really be living with their prejudices? You don’t give your 5-year-old to the same responsibilities as your 15-year-old. You wait for them to grow up some more. Maybe God wants us to be able to spiritually grow beyond our sexual hang-ups one day. But Heaven knows that day ain’t today. I’ll be happy if we can grow just a little beyond those hang-ups in our politics first.

In any case… Best Wishes to the Happy Couples!