Monday, November 17, 2008

Sorry, Body

Like many women, I've spent a lot of time harshly criticizing this earthly vessel the gods have cursed me with - i.e., my body. Nine thousand people could tell me I'm pretty, and I won't believe them. It seems like I find something new to hate about my body every week, especially now that I'm almost 40. I'm fat. I don't like my nose. My vision is getting worse. My back hurts. I have warts on my face. And a few weeks ago, I asked someone, "What's a 'snaggletooth'?" I'd heard the phrase a lot, but never knew what it meant - she told me what a snaggletooth is, and I was horrifed to learn that I think I HAVE one.

It's not that I'm not grateful that I am, for the most part, able-bodied. Members of my family have had to deal with devastating physical disabilities and mental illnesses from which I've been spared. I can walk. I can see. I can hear. Yes, I have a thorn or two, as do most people, and I spend too much time feeling sorry for myself about those relatively minor faults.

I wish I knew how this happened, but today a new thought popped into my head. If I treated a child the way I've treated myself, if I talked to my daughter the way I talked to myself in my head, I'd be arrested for child abuse. I've been downright cruel to this body of mine, not just in criticisms and verbal barbs, but in years of mistreatment and neglect. Those close to me know the mistreatment of which I speak; I won't rehash it for the world to read. But the bottom line is, I should be sick. I should be dead, even. There is no logical explanation as to why I still have a healthy liver or functioning kidneys.

It's really incredible, actually. Our bodies are so resilient. Yes, there are many illnesses, injuries, disabilities, but considering how many dangers there are around us, even in the air we breathe, it's amazing what we can live through. And what I've lived through, specifically. When the evidence suggests that I should have died from what I did to myself, yet I'm still alive, I have to believe that there is some important task I have yet to do on this earth, so I was protected.

For all the years I've called her ugly, weak, defeated, and worthless, my body didn't listen to me. It has refused to become what I've told it to become. She is a survivor, this body I live in. She survived. I'm a survivor. That's just what I am, and even when I don't feel it, the physical evidence is hard to deny. And when you're a survivor, you survive. That's just what you do. You survive - not just one thing, but all things. I'm not indestructible, but I'm a damn sight stronger than I've ever given myself credit for.

I wish I knew how this happened, because if I did, I'd write down the specific directions and keep them. Because I'm sure this pride and strength I feel now will pass in a day or two. For today, though, I'm a survivor.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

If Only Pebbles Could Read...

Dear Pebbles,

You and I are going to be moving in a couple weeks. That's why there are all these cardboard boxes around that you've been playing in. We're going to live in Auntie Janet's house. You know Janet, remember? You like her. But the thing is, she has two cats of her own, and a huge, energetic dog. You're probably going to be very scared and uncomfortable.

I'm so sorry that this is happening. I know it took a while for you to trust me and to feel safe in this house, and I know how much you love it here. It's going to be very hard for both of us to have to live in just one small room in someone else's house. But this is a way that we can stay together, so I don't have to give you away to someone else. You will still get fed and cared for, and you can still snuggle up with me at night.

Janet's dog is a big golden retriever. She is very hyper and will probably want to play with you and jump all over you. But I promise, even though you might be scared at her energy, she will not bite you. I think if you give her a chance, eventually you will be friends. The other kitties in Janet's house have learned to tolerate the dog, and they have never been bitten by her. The other kitties will help you and show you the ropes, and if you get scared, they are good at giving kitty hugs and being friends.

Now Pebbles, this is very important: Janet's cats get to go outside, but you're not allowed to go outside. I hope this doesn't make you feel left out. It might seem unfair, but I want you to be safe and warm and live a long, healthy life, and never get lost or stolen. Even if Janet's cats tell you it's okay, or try to pressure you into going outside with them, you must tell them that your human-mommy says it's not allowed for you.

I hope you won't be too mad at me after we move. I'm really going to need you to love me and cuddle with me, because I'm probably going to be very sad. I love this house too, and I don't want to leave it. You might see me crying. If that happens, just come over and let me pet you and skritch your neck.

When I hear you purring, I will know that everything is going to be okay.



Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I've been unemployed for a while now, and if I don't find a job soon, I'll have to move by the end of the month, into my friend's tiny spare room. I've started packing, doubtful that the job market that's been so abbysmal for months will heal in the next two weeks.

I've moved so many times in my life. Some of these boxes weren't even unpacked from the last move. A couple boxes have been carried to three or four different places without even being opened. So why do I keep bringing them with me? Obviously I don't need what's inside. I only think I do. I'm just afraid of the day I might need it and not be able to find it.

But if those things were really what I needed, I wouldn't be sitting here in a puddle of failure yet again, right? Maybe those things in those boxes are just weighing me down. Maybe holding on to things in the past that I don't need, are what's holding me back. I don't know. Maybe I'm just trying to get something meaningful out of this crap experience, when really it doesn't mean much of anything. Just another piece of human flotsam floating along the sea.

"I Am A Lonely Soul..."

NOTE: Since I'm not really active on myspace anymore, and no one is evidently reading my blog there, I decided to move my blog over here. I'm going to post some of my old myspace blogs here, to get things started. I'll start new blog posts after this one.


Date Originally Posted: April 25, 2007

It's old news by now, but Brad Delp, lead singer of the classic rock band Boston, was found dead in his home on Friday, March 9, 2007. Brad was probably the most underrated vocalist in rock history. He brought class, discipline, and perfection to a world often blasted as messy and irresponsible.

Despite his accomplishments and full life, Brad committed suicide. In his note, he wrote (in French), "I am a lonely soul."

I keep wondering how someone with a wedding in the offing to a loving fiancee, two children, and many adoring fans, could say he was lonely. I know that is a very simplistic way to are not close friends, and you never know what's going on in someone's mind and heart.

Once, in college, I planned to commit suicide. I started writing my goodbye letters. After a couple hours, somewhere around letter number 17, I realized with a little chuckle that if I had at least 17 people in my life who would care I had died, and who I knew would be sad and want an explanation from me, then what the hell was I killing myself for?!

Of course, my suicidal ideation was borne of teen angst and self-pity, not a serious mental illness. I guess that's why I lucked out and Brad did not.

Of all of the gifts God gave to us, music is the one I treasure most. He could have just given us all angel choirs to lift our souls, but he decided instead to open the world of music to any taste, any mood, any imaginable instrument, any rhythm, and any volume. The deepest parts of my heart and soul are moved just as much by songs like "Dust in the Wind" and "Highway to Hell" as they are by Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

One of the songs I always loved most, however, was "Don't Look Back" by Boston. On top of the usual amazing guitar work, precision drums, and Brad's gorgeous vocal harmonies, the lyrics shined:

I can see, it took so long to realize
I'm much too strong not to compromise
Now I see what I am is holding me down...
I'll turn it around.

This song helps me celebrate my arrival out from the darkness of my past. Today when I hear it, I am heartbroken that the peace Brad sang about in these words, was lost to him for reasons I'll never understand.

But I know that the joy of the music and the beauty of the voice who gave it to me, will transcend the pain and grief, and stand forever as a monument to Brad, and to the Creator who endowed us all with a gift to share with the world, whatever that gift may be.

Rest in peace, and thank you, Brad.
---------------------------------------------------------------- (Official Boston Website) (Memorial Charity Foundation Created by Delp's Family)

A Eulogy for Kevin DuBrow of Quiet Riot

Date Originally Posted: November 25, 2007

Just woke up from the holiday weekend to the news of yet another musician I loved who has died. Kevin DuBrow was the cheerfully crazy smiling face behind the mask of Metal Health, and was the best part of a concert I saw in the 80's, even though Quiet Riot was only the opening act (no offense to the headliner, Loverboy). Just last night I was listening to QR on my iPod and I decided that the song "Metal Health" contains my all-time favorite musical scream (even over Ozzy's in "Crazy Train," a close second).

I'm 38 now. This is my life from now on, isn't it? I'll either learn every few weeks of another legend who has died, or worse, I'll start hearing more and more sacred music from the soundtrack of my life used in pizza or car or toilet paper commercials.

Kevin's bandmates asked people not to speculate on the cause of death, which is probably coming soon, so I won't. It doesn't matter anyway. Whether they go the road of Brad Delp of Boston or Rich Jeni, or whether it is some accident, or some medical problem, it's just another reminder that my time is over and I'm getting old.

Thank God Kevin left us a piece of him to enjoy forever. That's really the only good news to take away from stories like these...the people to really mourn are the ones who never left any news to report, be it to MTV, CNN, or just to their families and friends. I think the best way to honor Kevin DuBrow and the other artists who have broken my heart this year, is to think about what I will leave behind for others to enjoy, and get busy.

Rest in peace, dude.

How Can You Be A Pro-Gay Christian?

Date Originally Posted: January 18, 2008

I'm sure it's been asked by many who know me, but only in their minds, or in the occasional forwarded email petition. The other day it was asked of me out loud, outright, by someone who does not know me: "How can you be a pro-gay Christian?" It was not asked with anger or bigotry but just with confusion, with true curiosity, as she did not think the two belief systems could possibly be compatible.

The Old Testament verses that ban homosexual behavior are few, buried in ancient codes among cautions against eating shellfish and touching pigs. Paul's teachings neighbored his warnings to disallow women from speaking in churches and often reflected his other personal prejudices. Scientific study (that is, tested, controlled, with repeatable results) is showing more and more evidence that sexual orientation is genetically programmed and unchangeable.

Better writers than I have written about the compatibility of Christ's teachings with those living homosexual lifestyles. All I can do is tell you why I personally agree with them, and how it makes sense to me.

I first began to feel a calling to, for lack of a better phrase, 'be nice' to gay and lesbian people back in college, during my Southern Baptist days, because it was plain that no matter what was preached, gay people lived and worshipped among us, and I could see that they felt hated and scorned every day. Back then I subscribed to the "love the sinner hate the sin" view, until I later learned (from listening to gay people themselves, not from third parties) that they did not make a choice, and were powerless to change themselves into what some thought they should or could be.

I believe that the Bible contains wisdom for the ages while still being a fluid and adaptable library of books. God and his assigned writers knew that culture is temporary, and love is forever. All scripture is god-breathed and useful for teaching, correction, etc. - that doesn't mean all verses apply in all circumstances for all time. I do not put God in a box like that. Even Jesus didn't.

Despite picket signs you may have read, God hates no one. God loves all people and created them to be the way they are - different, varied, contrasting - an amazing tapestry of life on our planet. Gradually, we humans are learning that these differences are tools for learning, not lines for division.

I don't believe that homosexuality is a choice, because, at its simplest level, who would choose it? Who would choose to be hated and ignored by his family and friends, by his church and his God? I have studied the scientific data and I can see that it is not a choice, thus not something for which a person should be judged. This is my opinion, and I have the humility to know I might be corrected someday when more is revealed. But for now, I am speaking as God has called me to speak on this issue.

But even if you disagree with what I've written, even if you firmly believe that homosexuality is a sin and a choice, what is the proper Christian response?

To homosexuals, the concept of "loving the sinner and hating the sin" makes about as much sense as "loving Christianity but hating Christ." It is a fabric irrevocably intertwined, not just a deed but a thought, a way, a pattern, a groove into which their lives flow naturally and easily. To tolerate them as people is to tolerate the love they express. They will not be brought to Jesus by those who love the sinner but hate the sin.

To homosexuals, the concept of "treatment" and other programs that aim to turn them straight, makes about as much sense as treating the skin to make a black person into a white person. Many homosexual people have gone through treatment programs; long-term "success" is rare and questionable. Sexual orientation is not an illness or addiction, and there is no treatment. They will not be brought to Jesus by those who plan to change their orientation and personality.

Christ did not offer us the luxury of sharing his love only with those with whom we were comfortable. He extended his hand to lepers, to the dead, to a woman yanked naked into the street out of her adulterous bed. He spoke to them all. He touched them all. He did not shuffle them away into a concentration camp, shoo them away from the children, or establish special rules just for them. He trusted them as he trusted all people, to hear his words and live by them the best they could.

Why is homosexuality such an issue for Christians? I never understood it. I never saw why it is so crucial to forward a boycott message because some store refuses to discriminate against its gay employees, yet it is apparently of little or no importance to Christians to fight poverty and AIDS in Africa, to be better stewards of the earth God gave us, to be messengers of love, instead of messengers of what not to do.

I see it as a vicious cycle - gay people are icky, right? They have sex in public restrooms and hang out in bars and they don't form relationships but instead sleep around. Right?

Did you ever stop to think why gay people sometimes behave that way (and those are not the majority, but let's just say it for the sake of argument)? Because we have forced them to behave that way.

How can we accuse them of cheating/sleeping around, when we do not lend any import or rights to the relationships they do form? How can we accuse them of seeking companionship in the dark corners of our world, when we harass, threaten, and abuse them when they step into the light?

Whatever you may think of gay people - misunderstood regular folks, or misled sinners - it's better for all of us when they are permitted to live in the light. Even if you don't agree with their lifestyle, you have gay neighbors, like it or not - and you are better off when your gay neighbor is allowed to legally and socially commit to someone he loves. You are better off - financially better off, better off from a standpoint of health and safety, better off from a standpoint of social harmony, crime, children's welfare, etc. - when gay people are allowed to form families, raise children, run businesses, attend churches, speak freely, lead lives as the rest of us do, instead of being banished to the isolation and darkness to which they have been sentenced for far too long.

HB9, the Domestic Partnerships Act, has passed its first committee in the 2008 New Mexico Legislature. This bill, if passed, will allow unmarried couples, both gay and straight, to register their committed partnership with the government, allowing them basic rights in such areas as healthcare decision making, childcare and custody, inheritence and property, etc. It's not a marriage and doesn't change the religious or social definition of marriage. It is a basic civil right for our fellow human beings, whom Christ loves.

If you feel so called, please contact me this week for information on how to support HB9. If you are not quite ready to take that giant step, but you agree that this post contains some good points, then I simply ask you to pray and meditate upon your own response to this issue, your response to the gay and lesbian people in your life, how you think Jesus would want you to treat them.

Pebbles the cat introduces herself

Date Originally Posted: April 2, 2008

Hi, my name is Pebbles! I’m Karen’s new cat. She’s letting me write her blog post today so I can introduce myself. I’m one year old, a domestic shorthair, gray and white, and very small.

When Karen decided to get a cat, she called her cousin, who works at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter. Her cousin told her to come up to adopt this other cat, but I ended up stealing Karen away. Oh well, I deserve a nice home after what I’ve been through. Before my 3-week stay at the shelter, I was living in this horrible place they call a "hoarder house," you know, where some crazy person starts collecting animals until the place is full of sickness, noise, and poop. There were 98 cats living there, and everyone was always stealing my food, crawling all over me, yowling, and fighting. It was so bad that when the sick cats died, other cats started eating their bodies because they were so hungry! Yecchhh! No wonder I’m so skinny. No raw cat guts for me, thank you...I preferred to wait for my rescue, and a proper meal.

When I saw Karen walk by my cage, I waved to her to see if she’d be a good human for me. She saw me and asked the shelter staff to move me to the "bonding room." Showtime! Even though it was time for supper, I knew this was my moment to shine, so I ignored my food and I layed on the love, rubbing against her and letting her pet me a lot so she’d know how loving I am. It worked! A few days later I was out of my cage and on my way to Karen’s house.

Now don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I liked the shelter cage, and certainly not the hoarder house, but I guess I was kind of freaked out to be in such a big house, able to go wherever I want. When I got out of the carrier, I ran right under the bed! I only came out when absolutely necessary - like, for that delicious expensive food she bought for me!

It’s been a week now in my new home, and I still hide quite a bit, but when people manage to find me and draw me out, man, do I love to be petted. I’ve trained Karen and her friends very well to do my bidding, pet me and skritch my neck whenever I want, buy me toys and treats, and play with me as much as I want. I’m one year old, but I’m really still a kitten inside, and I need special nutritious food to fatten up my bony hips.

I think it’s as much fun for Karen as it is for me. I’m starting to come out of my room a little more now. It’s scary, and I cry sometimes, but Karen is very nice to me and very patient. She’s even keeping her house clean for me, which, as one of her friends told me, is a really big deal for her.

Well, I hope to meet some of you soon. I’m not allowed to go outside, but you can come and visit me. I love people, and I think that you will love me, too.


If you voted for McCain...

Date Originally Posted: November 5, 2008

Dear Family and Friends Who Supported McCain/Palin,

As happy as I am that Barack Obama won the election, I am also sorry for your disappointment and the pain that you might be feeling now. For as much as we disagree politically, we are still friends and I care about your feelings.

I know that many of you might think that the country is doomed, but I hope that in the coming weeks and months, as the wound of this loss heals, you will come to realize that those kinds of thoughts will doom our country much more than any man in any office could do. Clinging to resentment, fear, or anger over these election results will doom our country. What will save our country? Unity. If you can find it in your heart to get behind this new American leadership team, then we can really start to get great things done, for all of us.

If you voted for McCain/Palin because you felt that they were stronger Christians, and/or that it was your Christian duty to vote for them, I hope you will remember that the Bible tells us to pray for our leaders - not just the leaders that we personally like, but all of our leaders. That doesn't mean that you have to agree with every decision that the president makes, but it does mean that you should ask God to strengthen the president, to protect his safety and health, and to guide him with wisdom and discernment when difficult decisions are presented to him.

One thing that we can all celebrate is that we have elected our first African-American president, scarcely 40-50 years after a time when people of color weren't even allowed to sit in public places with white people. What an amazing accomplishment, and an incredible transformation for our nation! We still have a long way to go to completely eradicate racism from our country and from our hearts, but what a giant step forward we took today.

Another thing that I hope you will understand and cling to, is that things are going to be different now. For many of us who are struggling, financially and personally, that could mean better job opportunities, better education, better ways, new roads, new horizons for all of us. The less we fight each other and the more we unite with each other, the more likely we are to make these promises come true.

The record-breaking voter turnout sent a clear message to the world. Whether Republican, Democrat, another party, or no party at all, we are all eager for change. We are all excited to participate in this historic event. We are all ready for a new future. Some issues, you and I will never agree on. But one thing we have always agreed on and always will agree on: We love our country and we want the best for her. We can make the best happen if we find that unity of purpose that we have been able to find in times of crisis, and hold on to it this time.

Until today, McCain was your candidate; Obama was not your candidate. But today, and for the next several years, Obama is your president. Obama is our president. He achieved that office through the democratic process that you love and support. Let's show the rest of the world what they might have forgotten: The United States of America is the strongest nation on earth, a beacon of hope and a shining light of freedom to the rest of the planet, and when we stand together, there is nothing we cannot do. Please, stand with me today and for the next four years.