When Candy Crushes YOU

I have deleted Candy Crush Saga & Bubblewitch Saga 2 from the iPad, but not Pet Rescue Saga. Also I think the folks over at King Games believe that in English, the word “saga” is used like a period.

BUT WHY YOU BITCH I NEED YOU TO UNLOCK LEVELS & GIVE ME LIVES you scream in your head, or maybe into the void or at a rather confused cat. I deleted them because they were quite literally destroying my brain.

I shall, of course, explain. Young persons working on their Advanced Stats for Psychology or Experimental Psychology 2 projects may want to take particular note.

I realized about two weeks ago that Candy Crush & Bubblewitch were both having terrible effects on my mood. I advanced fairly quickly in both games, so it had nothing to do with pacing or losses. It was how my brain was working during each game, & where my mind kept turning.

It would help to know that I fight PTSD & depression daily, as well as fibromyalgia & celiac disease. I have to be super careful what I ingest, do with my body (hey now), & think in order to lead a productive if not particularly happy life. The days I squeeze happiness out are bonuses! I strive for those but I’ve learned to accept “ok”. Ok is better than “Please God, kill me now.”

That’s why my repetitive, intrusive thoughts during Candy Crush & Bubblewitch gave me pause.

During Candy Crush, no matter how I was doing, I would find myself ruminating on thoughtless things people had said or left undone. This is not my normal state of being. I tend to let stuff go pretty quickly (to my own detriment, some say), but while playing Candy Crush my mind would immediately go to some slight or inconsiderate behaviour I hadn’t given weight in ages. Or ever. It also seemed to heighten my social anxiety; whenever I’d match 4, I’d find myself afraid of what people would think of me at church, specifically, which is very odd as I feel wonderfully comfortable there.

Where Candy Crush stimulated anxiety & resentment, Bubblewitch seemed to have a big fat meaty finger pressing down squarely on my depression button. I would do a level or two & around the 3rd board, I’d start singing little suicidal chants to the music. At first I thought this was funny; later I realized it was a bit more serious. I turned off the music & the depression seemed to worsen. I found when I played Bubblewitch, I would feel hopeless & numb afterward no matter how well I did.

I’m not going to post my suicide lyrics to the 3 songs in Bubblewitch lest they get stuck in your head. I promise you they were hilarious, kind of like how Morrissey is darkly hilarious but you also want to keep him away from box cutters.

I tried to do some research on this, but there’s nothing about the games affecting, well, affect (aka mood, for you civilians).

Conversely, Pet Rescue makes me happy. Happy. HAPPY. Whether the music is on or not, playing makes me cheerful, even if I can’t rescue the pets in the little cage & they make that sad, dejected face. Every time I play, I am happier. I shrug off pain. I have weaker cravings for dumb foods. I sometimes even exercise between rounds.

Is King conducting some kind of experiment? Is my brain super weird? Do my neurons respond with chemical reactions to a series of pixels mathematically arranged to produce slot-machine-esque reward responses in normal brains?

Do any of you experience mood changes with these or any other games? I have zero cognitive or mood changes with Kingdoms of MiddleEarth or Simpsons Tapped Out.

Oh, I also deleted Words With Friends, but that was because it was actually giving me repetitive stress pain in two digits.

Wow, when I talk about this it makes me sound like I’m 97, with dementia. Which, you know, fine, would be a fair assessment. BUT INCORRECT.

Anyhow my lives on Pet Rescue have respawned, so…

Don’t Learn to Drive in LA

Hi, John.

I promised I would think about your piece on driving & provide a thoughtful response. I’m not sure this fulfills that promise on all counts, but I will try. It will be easier to follow than an in-person cafe rant where I would also insert analogies featuring Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, & Dune if I thought I was losing you.

I’m not gonna lie to you: driving in LA does in fact suck. You are in no way wrong about that. I have imagined blowing my own brains out on the 5 more times than a cognitive behavioural therapist would consider prudent. It is this very point on which we agree that I will build my premise that you can be taught to enjoy driving, but I concede it will never happen here. Ever.

I will argue with your 7th graph down (if you count the one liners): trains did not tame the frontier. Neither did four door sedans.

One day, you, me, Sara & the dog should drive to Reno. We’ll act like we’re going to Vegas, so we can stop by this tin roof shack called The Still that serves hamburgers the size of actual steering wheels, & then head up to Reno. You will see the West was never tamed. By anything. Except the Air Force, kinda, if we drive between Vegas & Tonopah at night. Even going 85, we will see a light show & displays of military force for at least two hours out the passenger side.

You will, after Tonopah, be allowed to take the wheel. After we’ve had a meal served to us by a delightful meth addled teenager, taken pics outside the signs for the Clown Inn, & peed, you can have the wheel. I will put in the Dune soundtrack & you can drive the whole length of Walker Lake. I will not make fun of you if you yell “Father? The sleeper has awakened!” I’ll be rather disappointed if you don’t, truth be told.

You will fall in love with driving, unless we get stuck behind a caravan. Wait, you guys don’t call them that. What are they? Campers? RVs? Anyhow, you’ll get bold enough to pass that asshole going 90. Really.

Upon returning to LA, you will hate driving again, but you will have the memory.

I don’t judge you for not learning to drive until you were 38. You’re a New Yorker. At no point did you ever have any reason to operate a vehicle in NYC, just like my mum & I never needed one to get around London. Both of those cities were founded before the advent of cars, so they made do, building along old carriage lines.

LA cannot fathom a time before cars. Sadly, it never really planned for them, either. We’re dumped upon a desert/shoreline/mountain range which scoffs at travelers & mocks our desire to see shows on Sunset when we live in the Valley. “You pathetic bastards! I shall squeeze you into a bottleneck so tight you’ll wish steel had never been tempered & the Mongols had conquered the Earth because then you’d have a horse!” My own beloved church has mountains & Franklin between me & it. No one would wish that upon their worst enemy.

Don’t use the carbon footprint excuse, btw. Half of your friends won’t think you’re doing enough, & the other half will point out that you use an iPhone & a flush toilet, etc.

People do walk in LA. Another reason I hate driving here is the yoga/Pilates people who run across Ventura randomly when I am trying to get to work. It is more accurate to say people jaywalk in LA.

Your sister’s heinous car accident is a completely understandable reason to fear cars, period. I hated being a passenger. My father, a man of many flaws, had as one of them the propensity to truly believe he was the only person on the road. He made left turns on red, did 80 on streets with 40 clearly signposted, & made every freeway experience feel like that scene from Matrix: Reloaded. Yeah, that. How we never died is a mystery. This is partly why I believe in God.

Some of my earliest memories are of my mother gasping & saying “JOHN! We have plenty of time to get there. Oh, Jesus.”

So I have a hard time being a passenger. When I was 15, I relished getting my permit. It meant I didn’t have to be his passenger. It meant I could leave That House. And then I had a driving instructor from hell who made me flip a bitch in the middle of a Nevada highway embankment.

I tried to get my mum to cancel the driving classes. “Why? You were so excited.” Then her brow furrowed. “What did he do?” She called & gave em what for. Eventually she took me out to a dry lake bed & the Sam Boyd Silverdome parking lot to learn the driving basics. That helped a lot. Learning to drive in Nevada is fairly simple. I wish you could go back & have that experience, sans Taylor Swift & racism.

Pay no attention to an LA horn. They are usually deployed against someone obeying the law & hence preventing them from getting to their mani/pedi only 30 minutes late. The only time I deploy my horn is when someone is texting & fails to see the green light. I swerve around all the other disasters.

I loved driving for a long time. I could blast music & drive circles around town in college & deal with all my very dark feelings. To me the car was just a large, mobile stereo.

Now I have full blown fibromyalgia, & every trip costs me a little something of my life force. Navigating the curves & hills & morons of LA, the stop & go freeway traffic, & the endless search for parking withers me like a fly swatter to a faerie. If I had any money, I’d use BLS, like, all the time.

Maybe we can take turns going to Trader Joe’s. But honestly it’s just better to park at my place & walk. I’m a block from one, & sometimes a dude in the apartment complex next to TJ’s hangs a bag of donuts from a tree. It’s like he’s trying to catch Homer Simpson.

One of You! One of You! Or “How I learned to Stop Worrying & Loathe the Crush”

Yes, you stupid, spiteful, hateful “friends”…I am now playing Candy Crush. You probably sorted this out all on your own after receiving 97 pitiful pleas to help me open Chocolate Mountain or Fudge Ravine or whateverthehell it is.

“You elitist prig!” you laugh/scream like a drunk Wicked Witch of the West. “You said you’d never play. Not in a million years. Not after 4000 Facebook requests, not after every game on Earth had died & gone to Game Purgatory like so much Sega Genesis.” And now you swirl your bourbon in your glass & sneer at me over your smoking jacket or ACDC t-shirt or whatever, because you’re a prick.

Fine, you told me so, I broke down, “One of us,” all that jazz. But why? I imagine you asking, because I’m naive enough to think you care.

I’ve been very sick. As y’all know, I have fibromyalgia…even wrote a meandering journal booky thing about it (which can be purchased here (yes that was totally subtle! You nailed it, KJ!). Weather changes are super bad. October is hard on me & April or May are, too. Coupled with some mild food poisoning that sent me into major flare & I was susceptible to my friend Quan’s Candy Crush invite.

Why Quan? Why Quan, indeed. Probably he is Satan. But also there’s this thing with Quan–a churning competitiveness unmatched by Southern pageant mums or astronauts qualifying for space walks. It’s like if Quan is doing anything, I have to do it better, & I know the reverse is true, isn’t it, Quan?! You are Q to my Picard, Moriarty to my Holmes, Hordak to my She Ra. I must best you!!!

*cough*

Anyhow I was sick & I started playing.

I imagine we all have the same reaction to The Crush, at first. “THIS IS BEJEWELED. DOES NO ONE ELSE SEE THIS? I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING CRAZY PILLS!” You are also off put by the old-timey turn-of-the-century salad-days look & electronic soundtrack.

Then that freakin scary voice says “Sweet!” “Tasty.” “DELICIOUS.” I’m pretty sure the MC in Hell sounds like this. Equal parts child molester & Top 40 DJ, this voice sounds whenever you do something that scores a lot of points.

Additionally, the game crashes (at least for me) randomly and then the bastard takes one of your five lives you only get regenerated every 2 hours. If I try to send lives to my FB friends, CRASH. If someone sends me an email during play, CRASH. If a Romanian orphan sneezes in a cave half a mile beneath the earth, CRASH. Lives lost, never to be returned.

Yet an hour later I was still playing, cos I was on a roll.

Hating every minute of it.

Sometimes when I close my eyes, I see hard candies glistening in layer after layer upon fucking jelly. The game never makes me hungry, because I find hard candy repulsive.

But I live for the click.

You know what I mean.

It’s kinda more of a cluck. Cluck.

I’m only writing this cos I’m waiting for lives to regenerate. Also I’m pretty sure it’s preparing us for Chinese communism.

HEY DON’T YOU JUDGE ME. I saw you, back in the day, playing Farmville like farming is fun or something. How is that a game? Farming. Geez.

Anyhow shut up.

My Lord & My God

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Long ago I made noises about posting my reactions to Father’s sermons here, & true to form I think I did that a whopping two times before senility & busyness claimed me yet again. Well, catechism is over, I & my sister & my fellow brothers & sisters in Christ are confirmed/baptized, & I’ve now been a year at Saint Thomas. I should probably FOCUS. Is it wrong to picture The Rock with angel wings, screaming at me?

Today’s gospel was, as the liturgical year demands, John 20:19-end. I really enjoy the whole of John 20. I love that Mary Magdalene calls Him “rabboni” (from the Easter service), a term of respect mixed with affection. If I were her, I’d be sobbing with joy as I said it. Can there be no greater happy shock than finding your beloved friend & teacher alive after watching Him suffer & die?

But back to this week. Here Thomas is not having any of this “Guys, for serious, I’m Jesus!” nonsense. He wants to poke the poor guy. Thomas is saying, in modern parlance, “You best bust with the holes in your hands & your side or you can get out.” We can’t be too hard on Thomas; this was the guy that was late to the party. Everybody else was present when Mary saw Jesus & told the other disciples “YOU GUYS! HE’S BAAACK!” Then He came to them & they got to have a jubilant old time with breathing the Holy Spirit & whatnot.

Thomas was that dude who found out a week later & was all WHUT?

So Jesus indulges him & Thomas says, in stunned joy & chastisement, “My Lord & my God.” Father points out Thomas does something very different here by acknowledging that Jesus is God. This is super hard for us to wrap our heads around (& is triply hard to explain to your Japanese roommate in college), but Thomas sees it. He feels it. He recognizes that Jesus is the entirety of God’s divinity in human form, that God deigned to live amongst us as one of us. He suffered as we suffer, & more so than most of us ever shall.

Jesus says to Thomas “Because thou has seen me, thou has believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Father asks us to imagine what it would be like if Christ returned today. What would we, creatures of 24 hour news & immediate gratification, need to believe that Christ was indeed Christ? In the scriptures, He performs many miracles that Bronze Age people immediately associate with the divine. But we see miracles every day. Cardiologists revive the dead on a daily basis. Man has walked on the moon. Bubble wrap & Hologram Tupac exist. We are a nonplussed people. Seriously, what would Jesus have to do to make Himself known to us?

Have that little conversation with yourself, & be honest. Most Christians would immediately say “Oh, I’d know,” but would we? We’ve all piled our personal aspirations on Christ. We’ve assigned him our politics. We have numerous distractions & points of cynicism to engage us. How would you know you were talking to the actual Christ?

I answered this question silently to myself in the pew, immediately. “If I hugged Jesus, I would be instantly healed. I wouldn’t have fibromyalgia any more, or celiac disease, or arthritis, and my metabolism would work, & then I would drop everything and follow Him because I actually could.”

Two things struck me later as important to examine so I could root out my own biases. First, the act of hugging was assumed. Of course Jesus is a hugger. Deacon Walter is a hugger. Father Davies is a hugger. Jesus would hug, right? Well, maybe not. Would a firm handshake suffice? Would I even need to touch Him?

And the second assumption is of course that I would meet Him. Now if you know me, you know that I eventually meet everybody, because that’s what I do. It’s not intentional; it just happens, no matter where I live or am. But there are 7 billion people on this planet and utterly no guarantee that Jesus would have even the faintest interest in visiting Los Angeles, or even America. His agent would argue that He needs to be out here, but that’s applying our ideas of publicity & outreach to Christ. Maybe Christ doesn’t reach people through media. Maybe He’s a Reddit poster, or an astronaut, or majors in interpretive dance. He could be a soldier or a cat fancier or a stay-at-home mom. This is the 21st century; He need not appear as a Jewish male in order to get people to hear Him.

So then what would Christ have to do to get you to believe?

Later in the sermon, Father mentioned that we are all, currently, the body of Christ on Earth. You have His hands, His feet, His eyes. I think Father was quoting someone but I missed that part thinking about how crappily I was treating Christ’s body. I was treating it very well, when I had a trainer. I was fueling it properly & exercising it properly. Over the past few months, though, as I continue to recover from injuries, I’ve been treating Christ’s body like the Play Doh Fun Factory.

If I ever needed a message to get me to properly think about how to feed Christ’s property, that was it. For lunch I chose brown rice & chicken breast, plus vegetables. Ok, I had a Chipotle bowl. There is no reason Jesus wouldn’t like Chipotle! Especially if He had fibromyalgia & couldn’t cook today cos of His neck & shoulders.

Anyhow when Father’s sermon is posted to YouTube, I’ll add the link here so you can see that what he said is a lot more learned than how I heard it.

Oh, & the picture above? Father gave the Class of 2014 catechumens personalized Byzantine icons. Mine depicts Archangels Michael & Gabriel. I think I know why.

KJ Adan also has a book out, in case you actually wanted to read something longer.

I Wrote a Book…

…and you can even buy it legit like a real writer & everything, right here!

I know my blog is free, but think of this book as like a blog before I got healthier, with even more rambling & swearing & longer. And also it costs a little money. So not like a blog at all.

Ewoks: Murderers & Fascist Sympathizers

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The following argument was developed over the course of the last 20 hours or so via frank discussion & a smattering of research (cos for real most Star Wars viewers are not aware of the expanded universe. C’mon, people; don’t kid yourselves.)

It’s a well known fact that Ewoks are murder bears. I’ll not dispute that point, as it is documented fact, & I will use this fact to advance the argument that Ewoks were Imperial sympathizers. SILENCE = COMPLICITY.

However, if you are under 30 years old & remember Ewoks as adorable little borderline-racist teddy bears, let me refresh your memory, as you have chosen to remember Wickett encountering Leia. It never occurred to you that he was alone & could not subdue & eat her by himself, did it?

But what happened when Luke, Han, C3PO, R2D2, & Chewie were ensnared by their meat trap? They were treated as meat! Not until Luke & C3PO managed to convince them with Force Deityimpersonation did they let them go. Leia couldn’t convince them cos they were just fattening her up for dessert.

So we have established that Ewoks are murder bears for those whose childhoods were steeped in marketing & self deception.

For the rest of us whose childhoods were unending introductions to the cold reality of the miseries of the universe, it becomes immediately evident that Ewoks were not only murder bears, but they were Imperial sympathizers. Murder is one thing, but allowing a fascist organization to establish a base on your forest moon in order to rebuild a planet-destroying murder satellite that is oppressing an entire galaxy is beyond the pale.

Let us assume the following things are true:

1. Ewoks are sentient (they have language, religion, a social structure).
2. Ewoks have been approached by Imperial protocol droids before. They might have even been deceived by Imperial protocol droids into believing they are god figures, paving the way for their perception of Threepio.
3. Ewoks normally eat offworlders (see above).

I just realized that by setting up the scenario wherein Ewoks encountered Imperial protocol droids, I made room for the argument that the Empire lied to Ewoks, telling them the shield generator was some kind of mystic portal to the teddy bears’ picnic, & that’s why they never attacked it & ate the tasty beings within until Threepio droidsplained.

Ok, never mind, maybe the Ewoks are just intellectually non-curious dumbasses/murderers & not fascist sympathizers.

But if we take out assumption 2 (that murderbears had encountered Imperial protocol droids) then why did they allow the Empire to build a base replete with landing pads on their home world? What is that shit? If Jerry Brown landed a helicopter on our patio, crushing our lemon tree, & started building a bunker I’d be all “Are you fucking serious right now? Get out my goddamned land!”

Then he’d be all “Oh, we are building a government thing here. We sent a letter.”

I’d go through my mail. “The hell you did.”

“Oh, it must have come in today’s mail. Go check.”

“This is today’s mail. Also why would you give like a day’s notice for this kind of thing? This is a hostile takeover! Kkhkhh…argh…glorp…” because at this point Jerry Brown has force choked me to death.

Then my roommate, a lawyer, comes home & finds my force choked lifeless form on the balcony & Jerry Brown with a crew of helmeted lackeys digging up our patio. She begins to cite California property law but then Obama shows up & fries her with force lightning. We’re just 2 people.

But there were tons of Ewoks. Where is their intellectual curiosity? Surely somebody approaches a Bike Trooper having a wee in the forest & says “Chub chub” or some shit & is then shot, prompting other Ewoks to investigate? No? Murder bears don’t give a shit about fascism?

First they came for the Rebels, & the Ewoks were silent…

Man, fuck Ewoks.

Star Wars nerds lodging earnest complaints below will be ignored & probably mocked. Just FYI. Also I have Force Tickle at a distance of 100k kilometres.

Jesus Has Your Back, Yo

My friend is keeping a secret Lenten blog, & in it she discusses Jesus’ admonition to keep your piety to your damn self. This kind of flies in the face of me keeping a pretty open blog about what’s going on with my Give Ups/Give Ins, but I’m not here to tell you I’m an awesome super Christian. I’m here to tell you I totally suck at everything without The Lord.

I’ve spoken before about how God’s various commandments are not there to make us feel like crap about ourselves, but they’re there to help us avoid dumb shit He knows is bad for us because hello, He’s God. Let me share with you a modern parable that I give to my clients from time to time to illustrate why it’s better to listen to your Elders (Cthulu worshippers may identify):

If you’ve ever spent twenty minutes with a toddler, a cat, or a dog, you notice a couple of things. They spend a lot of time close to the ground, & they make a beeline for anything on that ground. Say you have vacuumed the absolute living crap out of your front room, but now there’s a toddler/cat/dog hanging out. They can see the cracker you dropped under your couch three months ago. It is now their utmost desire & goal to obtain that cracker.

They spend the better part of ten minutes staring at, stalking, & evaluating that cracker. They then spend another ten trying to get to that cracker. You, as guardian, may make remarks like “What’re you doing?” in a big goofy high pitched voice, but you’re not a jerk & you want to see what the tiny creature is up to. Eventually, they emerge from under the couch with the cracker in hand or mouth, beaming with pride, and they are about to bite…

What do you do? “Oh God NO!” you yell, whipping the dustmite-coated prize from the tiny creature. You know it’s totally gross & will make them sick. You are horrified that such a thing exists in your world. You feel like the world’s worst housekeeper. And now the child is screaming & crying. The dog is whining. And cat has already scratched you & run off with it & is chomping it down & will throw it up in your shoe later.

And now you know how God feels when He sees us striving for the low & disgusting things in our ground-level eye line. He’s like “Seriously? I have a fresh batch of cookies in the oven for you! Why in the hell are you using all your energy to get a dusty cracker? CAN’T YOU SMELL THE COOKIES?”

And Jesus is all “Forgive them, Father, for they can only see dusty crackers.”

And God’s like “Fine, whatever. Where’s the DustBuster?”

My dusty cracker has been The Wrong Man, sugar, stable but spirit-crushing work. “Look what I can do!” I say to The Lord. He sighs. “But I’ve imagined so much more for you. Oh well, come to Me when you’re fed up with dusty crackers. And would it kill you to stop puking in my shoes?”

What has this to do with Lent? Well, it’s forcing me to see beyond the dusty crackers. I was hungry after my tasty but meager dinner. The Voice whispered “Maybe now would be a good time to work out.” I said “Maybe I should check on my elven army” cos I was just made regent of my alliance & I’m responsible for the happiness of 67 Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle Earth players. “Yeah, ok, that will help,” says the Voice, rolling His eyes.

But after I checked on my elves (they’ve mined a ton of ore!), I got on the recumbent bike. I did some arms. And God was right. I was no longer hungry, & I’d worked out for 20 minutes.

The dusty cracker of sloth is hella tempting. God dangled fitness cookies in front of me & I was like “Yeah, I’ll have one of those, though it feels like suffering” & Jesus was all “You think you know from suffering?” & I was like “Well, yeah” & then I felt like a stupid baby, but an empowered stupid baby.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Cos seriously if left to my own devices I’d weigh 900lbs, have one of those fetishist feeder boyfriends who controls me, & y’all would be carting me around in the back of a firetruck.

Jesus has my back, yo, even though I am a total idiot. He’s got yours, too. I won’t comment as to your level of idiocy.

Woo HOO! Lent!

Is it weird to be excited about Lent?

This is the first year in my life I’m observing Lenten season. I’ll be 40 at the end of this month, so for 39 years I’ve been blissfully & ignorantly unaware of the benefit of a penitential season.

My friends without faith may find penitence to be a useless exercise prescribed by a litigious God. If you’ve grown up with unrelenting self doubt, survivor guilt, victim guilt, & low self worth, limiting your reflection & restriction to 40 days is somewhat freeing. Instead of serving a sentence limited only by your own limitless self loathing, 40 days with a giant pardon at the end granted by the death & resurrection of your Saviour is like BOOYAH!

Concentrating your reflection is also useful. When studying treatment modalities in a heavily behaviour-focused psychology program, you spend a lot of time talking about goal-oriented therapy. You also mock the indulgent rambling of psychoanalysis (for both the client in the starring role as the constant victim in their own life & the therapist collecting the cash). You can & should teach healing mechanisms to your clients & you should measure their progress within a limited time frame, just as you would a client at the gym or a patient healing from a physical disease. This has the benefit of giving the client self sufficiency as well as simultaneously evaluating the efficacy of the therapist & their methods.

And just like a personal trainer’s client, a therapist can only expect success if the client is ready to genuinely change.

Lent gives us the opportunity to figure out if we are ready to change. When we reach the end of the season & we find ourselves enjoying smaller, simpler meals & committing to an act of faith, we can ask ourselves “Have my priorities changed? Am I happier with simpler needs? Am I over being distracted by trappings & cravings?” If you’re not, you can try again next year (if not before).

By giving up my slavery to food & sloth (& all the reasons I became their bitch, including some valid medical ones that Lenten fasting rules do allow us to address), I hope to find an inner strength & a clarity. Jesus is hella awesome at showing us that stuff.

I know I’m supposed to be solemn & shit, but I’m kind of stoked.

Horror Show

Now that I’m watching The Walking Dead, my dreams are clearly influenced, except I don’t believe in zombies so my brain invents even more horrifying scenarios.

In last night’s dream I was living in the messiest of dorms. I think it was Georgetown. A ginger dude I met in the hall had a clear & endearing crush on my roommate, who I’m pretty sure was my friend Nurse Rachel. I jokingly said he needed to step up his game if he wanted her attention, & his face instantly changed. His eyes glassed over & he broke out in a sweat. He didn’t actually become a zombie, but everything he did after demonstrated a sublimation of his free will & motion.

I figured out, after a couple of scenarios involving thinking that I wanted a coffee & that traffic in Hollywood was bugging me, that he responded to my every whim even if it would kill him. The guy would show up in a panic & sweat to take care of my every thought.

He was in obvious distress & so was I. I got to a point where I tried hard to stop thinking of anything so he wouldn’t show up. I begged him to stop bringing me things. Dhino at work even tried to bar him from coming in to hand me food or clothes or shoes. I was in tears seeing his haggard, exhausted face. I gave everything he brought me away.

Toward the end of the dream, it occurred to me to pray to God to restore this young man’s free will, which he had given to me without my permission or desire. And immediately he was free. He wandered off in a daze & I never saw him again. Then I woke up.

That was awful.

“You’re A Saint!”

People who are accused of sainthood will tell you over & over again: I’m just doing what comes naturally. Those who willfully take care of the needs of difficult people (whether you define that as the mentally ill, the neurotic, the perpetually angry or anybody in a Corolla going 20 mph down Ventura) don’t do so because they are saints or even massochists; they don’t know any better.

Does that make them saints, or does it simply make them followers of Christ?

Last Sunday’s sermon was about All Saints’ Day. It took me a while to figure out how to write about this. I have a number of excuses. Monday, somebody needed me more than I needed to write. Tuesday I went into fibroflare. Wednesday is my long day. Thursday I don’t even remember what happened. Friday I was drained. So here I am, secreted away in my room, avoiding several invites to go out because I’m tired & in pain, pondering sainthood.

Father says saints aren’t celebrities. I don’t take this to be a dig on famous folk so much as we need to focus on what celebrity means. A “celebrated” person is one we get excited to see, talk about, learn about. Angelina Jolie is a celebrity. Kanye West (my laziest long running joke) is a celebrity even if you hate him because he does things people want to talk about (& make lazy long running jokes about). The President is a celebrity, period, whether he’s Obama or Reagan or Rutherford B. Hayes, though Hayes is kinda D list now, which happens to all of us when we retire from the public eye.*

*If you so much as even think about “informing” me he’s dead in the Comments section, I will end you, though this means very little coming from an English person. I will probably serve you some crappy bagged tea & only bake you one cake.

For me it says that saints should be celebrities. We should celebrate & talk about those who have sacrificed great swaths of their lives (& sometimes their very lives) for the love of Christ. They show it to others, died in His name to honour it, lived it day in & out. But they weren’t being paid $3 mil a year to do an ad campaign, & they never flipped a table in childish rage on a reality show, so meh, say we.

This is actually just fine to the saint. Nobody who is a saint thinks they are one. They’re just doing their thang. They don’t want attention drawn to it; they don’t want a reward. They show love to others simply because it is the right thing to do. They exhibit this love to each individual, one at a time, because that is the most loving thing a human person can do–give personal time.

Anyone with a winning smile & a joke can stand up in front of a camera & say something nice & make people feel kinda good for a minute, maybe even longer. But saints will come to you when it’s convenient to you, not to them. Saints will help you just because you need it, not because they need someone to think they’re awesome. Saints don’t do things for others because someone’s watching.

So they can’t be celebrities. I don’t think the reverse is true. Celebrities could be saints & we’d have no idea, just like you don’t know that the guy going 20mph in the Corolla in front of you (allegedly the spawn of Satan & a diseased hamster as you curse him out from behind your steering wheel) gets up at 5 every morning & prepares meals for homeless folks. Or he visits sick children in the hospital. Or he donated bone marrow to a stranger. So yes, speed up, saintly man, but I’m sorry I called you the love child of Dolores Umbridge & a rusty flute.

Some of you (you know who you are) believe nobody does things from the kindness of their heart. You believe everybody’s got an angle. I used to believe as you do that everybody’s got their kink, their weakness, & no one is to be trusted. The PTSD part of me still eyes people warily in this fashion, suspecting that people are mostly crap. There are, however, real saints in the world. I think I’ve met a couple. It’s enough for me now to allow people to show me who they are. Most people are broken. Some heal jagged; some breaks reveal dazzling light patterns beneath, like the breaking set free the angel, at least in part. These are saints in our modern world. They’re broken, but they live in light anyway, & they want to share it.

But most people are crap. Jesus loves them anyway. If I can’t love them, I give them to Him. His SPCA is vast, His veterinary clinic fully stocked, funded & staffed, & His is a no kill facility.

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