Friday, September 17, 2010

Flippant Friday: theology, pretty boys and, yes, more vampires

What would happen if I tried to write something on here every day? Would there be a point? I don’t know, but I feel an edgy twisty sort of urge to write something today, and you, dear readers, benefit.

This morning while I was working on a really dull updating project, I listened to Peter Rollins being interviewed by Rob Bell. I love Peter Rollins. He’s my favorite theologian, primarily because he’s the only theologian I’ve almost read. Actually, I’ve also almost read McLaren, but you see Rollins has an Irish accent. Everyone should talk about God with an Irish accent. I love English accents, but theology just sounds softer and more approachable with a brogue.

Alexander SkarsgardIn general I avoid reading theology and philosophy because my brain is already fully occupied pondering such things as what’s going to happen to Sookie Stackhouse and her vampire friends next. This would be a good point at which to insert a completely unnecessary picture of Alexander Skarsgard, because that’s how my brain works, skittering across the superficial.

What Peter says about doubt resonates deeply with me, and it’s also really irritating, because resonating carries a frisson of being on the verge of an answer, but of course there aren’t answers. It’s the same tickly feeling you get from reading a koan. I also think that any time I ever want to experience true conviction of sin, I only need to listen to him talk about how we reveal our true selves in our material existence. My inner world has never felt more phony. Hell, here’s a photo of Pete, too.

I’ve also been “reading” (note those quotes – reading nonfiction involves a lot of skimming and skipping back and forth between chapters) The Upside of Irrationality. So far I’ve learned that people mate roughly within their own range of attractiveness – 10s with 10s (for example, Alexander Skarsgard and Kate Bosworth, Peter Rollins and God), 4s with 4s and so on. Since everyone prefers 10s, those of us in the lower ranges have to reprioritize the traits we look for in a mate, you know, like booting “sense of humor” up over “six-pack abs.” I found this mildly depressing.

In other news, I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the film Let Me In. The book is awesome and creepy. I saw the Swedish version of the film (Let the Right One In), which was probably great, but we somehow got hold of a dubbed version, so we had to listen to bad American voice talent, which really distracted me from the brutality, blood and anatomical anomalies. Here’s the trailer for the new American version.

And there you have today's edition. Now I need to locate some fair-trade coffee and a community.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You're Such a Sisyphus

Some days everything comes to a screeching halt and I wonder, “What am I doing? This is so not what I need.” I have no idea what I need. Well, “no idea” is perhaps too strong. I know that I need some sort of change. I need some sort of change yet I don’t have the energy to make one. I don’t know what change to make, exactly. There is a disconnect between my heart and my work that I put up with for various reasons, good reasons. I’m more real here than in the real world, where I play dress-up.

Dear Husband sometimes hints that I should find a way to make a living writing. Only thing is, I don’t enjoy the sorts of careers that writers have. I don’t want to be a journalist or a novel writer or write marketing copy or greeting cards. I don’t want to start showing up at open mikes or writers groups. I suppose if I had lived in a previous century, I would have been an epistolary writer, one of those correspondents who wrote amusing and interesting letters to entertain friends. Ephemeral, or by some trick of fate bound and preserved for dusty researches. Blogging seems to be an open letter to whomever happens by. You know, Emily Dickenson would have made an excellent blogger. She could have stayed holed up in her Amherst home and written oddly punctuated posts.

I can’t help but think that somehow I missed the point, that I failed in dedication to the craft, that I lacked nerve, though I have thought that my nerve would not have failed had I known in what direction to point myself. We all need a foundation of meaning to support our actions. I’ve always been amazed at and envious of people who had goals and plans and were able to embrace them as if they mattered. I say “as if” because my perception is always undergirded with a profound sense of futility. I am aware of it even in moments of happiness. I live “as if” – as if there were some reason we are born and die, some purpose to raising a family, some purpose to all the many pleasures we pursue. Some people turn to God for meaning. Our purpose is to glorify God. That just baffles me. Why would there be a God whose be-all and end-all was to be glorified? That sounds so profoundly anemic I can’t wrap my head around it. Why on earth would that be a satisfying endeavor?

I am not alone, of course. On the other hand, I know many people who have never experienced this. They’ve known deep despair and grief, sure, but not this . . . blankness.

I feel a great kinship with the writer of Ecclesiastes, up until he starts prattling on about serving God, which sounds as half-hearted and joyless as his lines of existential despair. There you are, then; we either keep muddling along or we kill ourselves. I’ve known people who chose the latter. But I like this world, I like all the beauty of the earth and other people, and it would take a huge blow to make me consider leaving early.

I have the existentialist belief that we create meaning in the face of chaos. I’m not very good at it. It’s just so exhausting. Camus was so spot on. Everyday – actually, moment by moment – I’m rolling a rock up a hill. Then it rolls back down and I start over. The existentialists thought that was sort of heroic, maybe because they were all crazy Frenchmen. They get drunk on ideas, even the depressing ones.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blood and Apples

We went apple picking this weekend. At least that was our intention. We ended up at an orchard / playground / store hybrid with a bouncing pillow for the kids, a pig race, a petting zoo, cow milking, clogging demonstrations, a really bad singer and lots of fried food.

The petting zoo was the perfect setting for highlighting our girls’ urban tastes. Other kids were letting goats eat out of their hands. The baby goats freaked out Firecracker, who didn’t want them jumping on her. DramaQueen got some feed and then dumped it on the ground (“I don’t want goat saliva on my hands!). They spent most of their time cuddling some new kittens.

We went through a moonshine “museum” – basically a random collection of items that remain a mystery, but which are somehow involved in producing moonshine. This was a “bring your own information” museum. The displays gradually transitioned to various tableaux from the old-timey days. Many items I remembered seeing in my grandparents’ house – old flat irons, a foot pedaled Singer sewing machine, a butter churn. The girls evinced zero curiosity about any of it, as they were eager to find the “giant slide” which turned out to be not so particularly giant after all, and not very slide-y either. When the bungee jump turned out to be $7, and we refused to pay up, DramaQueen gave into general disillusionment.

I was going to suggest ears of corn to eat, until I saw the flies happily dancing over them. I saw some people walking around with turkey legs, and I wondered about the possibility of food poisoning. We finally settled on eating some deep-fried spiral potatoes (which went some way to cheering up DramaQueen) while watching a clogging demonstration. Why do cloggers wear such ridiculous looking outfits? 70 year old women in super-short crinoline skirts and big hair bows – it’s just too easy to ridicule. I gather lots of professional clogging troupes wear more graceful skirts, so maybe it’s peculiar to the backwoods or something. Seriously, these skirts were so short and so stiff with crinoline underskirts it was if the dancers were wearing calico UFOs around their waists. And then one of the younger groups did a routine to a Kate Perry song. Watching cloggers do their thing to the lyrics “you PMS like a girl, I should know” dressed in frilly hillbilly skirts added a surreal touch to the day.

The whole time I had a headache that would not go away. We wandered in the orchard looking for Cameo apples (just behind the weather station, a sign directed, although what exactly a weather station was supposed to look like, I don’t know, and we never found them). We did find apples we had never heard of before - “Arkansas Black” - and inquired at a booth about its flavor – “I don’t know. I don’t eat apples.” Huh.

We came home with apples we mostly found in the orchard store. And, small victory, we got out of there without having to use the port-a-potties.

Happily, my headache was gone in time for (sudden change of topic ahead) the season finale of True Blood, which was strangely bloodless. Literally and figuratively. The supporting characters were as annoying as gnats buzzing around but not getting anywhere. Terry is crying because he’s so durn happy (and I’m watching in disbelief as minute after minute ticks by while Sam and Terry actually pursue a conversation about this). Crystal’s a white-trash panther and an idiot. Jason is left charge of a trashy, inbred bit of wereland. Lafayette is freaking out. Jesus is a brujo (well, duh). Sam is poised to shoot his idiot thieving brother. Hoyt’s mom buys a gun. Tara bobs her hair and heads out of town. Whatev. On the main stage, the King of Mississippi looks like a sack of cinders. He's kind of…ruffly. I could really have done without the extra crispy makeup, but the camera lingers over every charred flake. On a positive note, we are now rid of the urn of gooey vampire remains of the King’s former lover. Sookie pours Talbot down the garbage disposal, flipping the switch with a little psycho giggle. That seemed out of character, but perhaps she was just as tired of looking at it as I was. I mean, really, a clear urn for vampire guts is just tacky.

Eric is all vengeful yet noble, then noble and forgiving, then vengeful again, and then buried in wet cement, and then not buried but really mad, then dusty grey but still looking hot on Sookie’s front porch where he finally tells her what he could just as well have told her many episodes back and for unknown reasons didn’t, that Bill is a bad bad boy. So bad you almost forget that Eric staked the King’s lover while having sex with him (and I would really think twice about staking a vampire in that situation, because the mess is TREMENDOUS). Even badder than in the books. So far in the books Bill has not tried to bury Eric in the foundations of a building or kill the Queen of Louisiana because he has “nothing left to lose”. In the books he’s busy creating a database of vampires. Yes, a database. In response to Sookie’s rejection he begins dating a real estate agent. Yeah, I guess I can see why the script writers decided to go a different direction with his character.

The finale ended with Sookie disappearing into faeryland, at which point all the air went out of the tires. Woaa, she’s in a perfectly safe place surrounded by creatures who intend only good for her. I’m biting my nails, I tell you. I would be rather cranky if it weren’t for all 6 ft 4 inches of Eric Northman, who is, as was heralded with all the subtlety of a bullhorn, being set up to learn forgiveness in Season 4, no doubt while being naked quite a bit.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The better, the good, and the somewhat less than optimal

First off, my biopsy came back just fine. For this news I should be doing a dance and feeling all sorts of happy, but instead I’m kinda like, “meh.” I’m that wore out.

The surgery itself went fine, except that it took four determined sticks to get an IV into me. I’m very grateful for the numbing medicine the inject beforehand, but really there’s not much that can take away the sensation of an inanimate object rubbing against the small bones in your hand. My hand is now an ugly mottled yellow/blue. But whatever they gave me to take away my anxiety also took away my consciousness. Usually they try to keep you alert enough to help them out in the surgery by scooching onto the operating table, but I don’t remember anything. I did dream something fairly peculiar, of lying under those big surgery lamps, watching nurses tote around crocheted afghans and doilies. Then I felt myself wash up on the shores of consciousness with an oxygen canula poking my nose and a muddled Winnie-the-Pooh feeling about me. Although I had to be perky enough to get into our car, I don’t really recall anything else about the day, despite the fact that I was out of surgery and on my way by noon. They aren’t kidding when they say that anaesthesiologists put some sort of amnesiac in your tank. But by the next day I was alert enough to go with Dear Husband to JCP and buy a new comforter set, which was very…comforting.

Speaking of Dear Husband, we recently celebrated our wedding anniversary. Dear Husband has a knack for thinking up thoughtful, creative gifts. Did anyone see that Modern Family episode in which Clair racks her brain to come up with a completely lame present after her husband presents her with a sweet and original series of gifts? Well, that’s me all over. I haven’t yet brought home the guitarist from Spandau Ballet, but it’s the sort of desperate leap I might take.

Dear Husband vanished after a number of mysterious trips, letting me know that a taxi would arrive to take me to my secret destination. The taxi ride was something of an event unto itself, as I found myself with the Chattiest Taxi Drive in History. He told me (and he told me quite a lot in the mere 15 minutes he transported me) that he spent part of every month driving in New York City. I was rather surprised that a New Yorker had not yet murdered him just to get him to shut up. New Yorkers aren’t all that chatty. He also managed to get me to tell him about our two girls (“Maybe you could try for a boy tonight.” – I kid you not, he actually said that) and my 4 brothers and their marital status. Of the unmarried one he said, “Are you sure he isn’t gay?” “I see the place!” I chirped, as we nearly passed by a house I recognized. Dear Husband had arranged for a romantic meal at our friend’s house (she happens to be a caterer). She made the side dishes and dessert, Dear Husband made the main dish – lamb chops in balsamic glaze. The dining room was set with the good china (not our good china, since we don’t have any, but my friend’s good china) and candles. There was a vase of pink roses and pink and lavender balloons. Dear Husband also had his laptop set up, as he had created a special slideshow for us. My friend and her husband vanished to a movie and we had the place to ourselves. The best part of the evening, better even than the lamp chop and pencil-thin asparagus, was the fact that Dear Husband and I got each other the exact same greeting card. It doesn’t sound so funny put like that, but we couldn’t stop laughing. Dear Husband had also devised a game for us. On the table was a treasure chest with a giant ruby-red gemstone nestled among smaller gems (DramaQueen helped with this) and chocolate coins, and little slips of paper. We took turns drawing the slips and answering the questions printed on them. I ate a lot of chocolate coins.

What did I get Dear Husband? Some gluten-free licorice. Which he had asked for. See? – lame. I added an iTunes card to show that I am capable of some independent thought. Then I ate some more chocolate coins.

This Labor Day weekend (while recovering from that operation), we had a cookout with some neighbors and friends. This involved a lot of cleaning. Many items are now missing, because they were put away, and they are not accustomed to being put away. I would like to know why there is always at least one basket of stuff that refuses to yield to any organizational scheme whatsoever. This is where various cords and mysterious hardware items end up, along with papers that seem to need something but we aren’t sure what, and anyway we don’t have a filing system because we still haven’t cleared out that old one stuffed with items from 2002. On the plus side, somehow or other I located both the missing wheels off the bottom dishwasher rack. Until then I would locate one and think, “Okay, now I know where that one is when the other one shows up.” And so it went for months for at least 2 years. I cannot tell you the sense of vindication and triumph I felt reattaching those two wheels. “Look!” I crowed, demonstrating the ability to close the dishwasher door without having to kick the bottom rack into place. Dear Husband, I think, is still not sure what I was talking about or how our life has changed for the better.

Besides finding lost things and losing things we haven’t yet noticed are now lost, I discovered that my keepsake box is missing. That’s where I keep old letters from my mom and hand-made cards from the girls. It used to be under the bed. At least that’s where it was 3 years ago when we lived in an apartment. It is now either still in an unpacked box in the garage (unlikely) or was put in the wrong place when we unpacked. The only right place in under our bed, because the strain of remembering it in any other place is an unnecessary burden.

Back to Labor Day weekend. I have this observation: If you plunk down 100+ dollars on an inflatable bouncy party house, and the kids spend all morning nagging you about when it will arrive, when it is finally set up all the children will mysteriously rediscover a board game they haven’t played in months. I crawled into the bouncy house at one point, until it occurred to me that I shouldn’t be bouncing a mere 3 days after surgery. So I lay down. Then the girls had the idea to have a sleepover at someone else’s house, which meant Dear Husband and I could go out for mojitos (for me) and dirty martinis (for him). I really wanted to go to Toys R Us, which struck me as a really great destination after a couple of mojitos, but dear Husband was not convinced. He did share his olives, though.

I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone that I’m not particularly excited to be back at work. I’m feeling sludgy. I also feel as if every month contains at least 4 doctor appointments (in addition to the doctor appointments I have to put off or reschedule to make room for the newer, more pressing doctor appointments) plus at least one school event I can’t ignore (a school skate night on a Thursday? Really?). My dad’s things are still to be dealt with sometime in the future. A thread of sadness winds its way through most days. There are two school fundraisers and two picture days (prepaid – the jerks), then Halloween costumes, and we haven’t even started saving for Christmas. I have an intense craving to stay at home and putter about, like, permanently.

See how far afield I’ve wandered? I’m tired and melancholy and uncomfortable.