This world

These are the vibes today, right here:

1 John 2:15-17: Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

“What is she upset about now? Ugh–the Bible.” Yeah, I know you.

I’ve actually had some forward momentum. At least one thing in my life is working out, and that’s huge. When everything has gone meshugena, getting one vital component sorted is wonderful. Finding a place to serve is wonderful.

I also find delirious pockets of happiness and laughter mixed with serenity and understanding here and there. They are usually at church, but that’s not a bad thing at all.

I am getting really far away from having any interest in what happens day to day and more stoked about what happens from age to age. This is utterly impractical and completely unfashionable, but I find that the constants in the human experience inspire the most passion. Love, birth, loss, rebirth, connection, meaning…this is not making front page news, and that’s fine.

The front page news is so depressing and triggering for a lot of us right now that I’m about to hide in a hermitage. Thankfully, throwing myself into work has about the same effect.

Facebook is a dumpster fire of misinformation. People share whatever version of affairs affirms their beliefs. People don’t talk to each other. There is yelling and point making, but no conversation. I imagine Twitter is the same way, but I just can’t bear to look at it anymore.

“Pride in our achievements.” Likes and retweets. Clicks. A lot people pay bills this way now. Heck, clicks paid my cellular bill this month. I’m not knocking this new economy, but I am asking you to read more than headlines. Click on the info embedded in stories. Get a fuller picture.

Pray. If you don’t pray, mocking those who do is just kind of weird. It’s like hating someone for imagining a better world. Nobody wants to be the bully in the after school special…except on the Internet.

I’m going to make myself sad. Okay, here’s the deal. You comment with a happy or at least pleasant thing that’s happened to you, in the world or in spite of it. Because that’s what spiritual joy is…taking pleasure in the connection to God and others despite the general crapitude of the world.

Let’s rain down sunshine on this piece. The things of this world are meh.

If you are so moved, donations are always kindly accepted. Thank you!

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God speaks in the doing

This has not been a good month.

The irony of becoming depressed with suicidal ideation in the very months after I publish a book on turning to Christ in times of terror & misery is not lost on me. It is in fact a great jumping off point for a dark humour indie film, but enough about inspiring dreck. This is a confession.

I cannot get into all the reasons this was a bad month, & they don’t matter because depression is depression. There was just a lot. A bit of it was financial, a lot of it was tremendous, unrelenting physical pain (which I have also written about, but less well). Some of it was long buried emotional pain, because I am extra good at pretending everything is peachy keen.

Don’t worry about the suicidal ideation, FYI. I ideate; I don’t plan & would certainly never carry out. I know that some of you who have known me a very long time are giving me side eye right now, because you remember a time when I did actually attempt to carry it out (or two). Those days are long past. I wouldn’t even normally describe myself as depressed in the past decade, except for now. Now is a thing.

What I do — & please don’t be jerks about this because there’s a whole story here involving a Buddhist empress — but I pray. And sometimes, when the pain is so intense I do not think I can stand another second, I pray the following:

Dear God, please heal or kill me immediately. I cannot bear another second.

Obvi, it’s not occurred to God to end my life just at this juncture. In fact, He has strangely seen fit to heal a great deal of other things that were wrong with me.

I’ve had a number of doctor, dentist, & physical therapy visits in the past months. And what I have learned at all of my most recent ones is, through my own hard work & some prescription nutrients I do not make or absorb on my own, I have improved my health so dramatically that every health care practitioner has expressed astonishment.

“Your body wants to get better,” one said. “Man, I wish all my patients worked as hard as you,” said another. “You have perfect teeth/retinas and beautiful skin!” gushed yet another couple of health care practitioners. I have improved my already pretty good lab work to stellar, & my terrible no good very bad ankle to Nearly Normal.

So the physical body, with the exception of its inability to recognize simple essential nutrients as good, is very, very healthy. Nobody believes I’m 43. I am physically 30.

Except for my central & peripheral nervous system. Those still fire like a sadist has a voodoo doll of me. Neurological stuff is a bitch, but I am always grateful it’s not organ failure. I guess if you’re going to have an organ go bad, the brain is the least…poisony of them.

How to explain…I’m in little to no danger of atherosclerosis, diabetes, COPD, liver damage, or kidney failure, and even my damaged intestines do some kind of job. Everything that’s wrong with me is in how my brain processes stimuli. It thinks everything is a life threatening injury, & it sends a casacde of pain neurotransmitters in kind.

This is not a fun existence.

But it’s also not a slow death, like the things I listed above are. It’s like…it’s like I prayed for death & God said, “Well, how about a healthier body? Would that work?”

And it kind of helps with the fibro, I guess. So now bad things need to just stop happening, & maybe I will find a moment in between crying bouts & panic attacks to be grateful that my hard work has paid off in radiant health — even if my brain 100% could not give the least of shits.

I mean, I never cry, & in the past month I’ve burst into tears in front of a substitute physical therapist, a nurse, a phlebotomist, a dentist, a dental hygienist, and an optometrist.  But I have also laughed just as hard at all of those appointments.

I’m miserable & feel like I’m short with everyone, but I’ve been called Sweetie & Cutie more times than I can count. I’ve argued before that people think I’m just adorbz when I’m angry & stampy-feets.

My prayers to God now are “Thanks?” and “You’re making me function better. Why? What have you got in store? I can’t see it yet. It seems like I am supposed to flail utterly everywhere while also having every reliable thing I needed fall out from underneath me.”

But I also thank Him for my friends, who have occasionally surprised me with kindnesses & timely bits of assistance that really have saved my ass. Most people wouldn’t want me to say their names, but Art is not most people. Art drove me home when my car died 39 minutes from it. Art is a magnificent being, & also called me a Sham Cougar, which…oh, it’s a long story.

Eventually, I will come up from this mire of unrelenting darkness & see all this as blessing. Right now, I can’t, probably because I still won’t really deeply face it & admit how bad it’s gotten. I keep trying to Gratitude Mindset my way out of things, which sometimes is bullshit. Sometimes, you really do just have to stare a thing in the face & say “You suck.”

So, My Life, you suck right now. You’ve kind of always sucked, but you got betterish at times & you even have moments of magic. But right now, you just plain, flat out suck, & I hate you. And now I feel bad for saying that to you. You didn’t mean to suck, & sometimes you even behave when I try to make you not suck. Maybe it’s actually fate that sucks.

Screw you, Fate, you bastard. Unless I am pre-paying for something bloody marvelous. In that case, I’ll take it all back upon receipt of my lay-away Destiny.

Which apparently requires me to have a mostly functioning ankle & the stellar blood work of a 30 year old woman who eats kale & jogs (I do neither of these things).

New book! 

Here it is!

For reasons I cannot imagine except I’ve been busy, I forgot to tell y’all I have new book out! Now this one has decidedly less sex & death in it than The Method, but it also has other goals. Like trying to help you feel like you have some say in what happens to you.

So if you’re feeling rubbish or frightened by things that you feel shouldn’t frighten you, Christ, Not Crisis is your jam, in paperback & Kindle. 

You don’t have to believe in Jesus for it to speak to you. I just happen to do so, which has been life changing for me. For example, I can confidently say I love you even though I’ve never met you. I want you to feel joy, or at least safety.

Well I’ll Be

My entire life, I have recoiled with horror when Mr. Mister’s “Take These Broken Wings” is played. This is because I associate it with a murder that I witnessed as a little girl.

It was a murder on television, but still. It scared me so much I ran out of the living room & into my bedroom, where the song was playing on my radio. I can’t hear it to this day without becoming miserable.

This is how I remembered the murder. Matt Dillon ran into a room where Natalie Wood was fighting with an albino who was cutting her with a straight razor. Then the albino was stabbed with a knitting needle.

It is now over 30 years later, & I still have nightmares about this scene, so in an effort to purge myself of this trauma, I crowd sourced Twitter. Useless. So I googled.

You want to know what horror film traumatized a nine-year-old girl so badly that she has nightmares about it at 43 years of age?

Foul Play. Starring Goldie Hawn & Chevy Chase. I’m told there’s even a Burgess Meredith karate fight.

Just kill me now.

But seriously how is this horrific sight funny??! 

Copyright whatever movie studio made this hellish vision & called it a comedy.


Children are impressionable! Be careful what they’re watching!

Knowing my mum she was passed out on the settee. Or cooking. Or my brother was feeding Doritos to the cat.

PM

This is a short story.

Alexander had been dead at least two weeks. Detectives not much bothered by the smell after years of exposure to it at countless death scenes milled about, blandly discussing reasons why nobody reported the decedent missing, or even absent from work.

They soon determined from bookmarks on his laptop that he worked from home at his own pace. Maybe he did well enough to afford an apartment in North Hollywood working only two weeks a month. The detectives all shrugged at each other. 

The coroner was almost certain it was suicide, just looking at the body. The extension cord around his neck had snapped under his weight eventually, sending the putrefying corpse to the floor with a bit of a splatter. The now-loosened post on his sturdy, well-made four poster bed told the tale. There was no auto-erotic asphyxiation. This guy kept his pants on. 

But nobody could find a note. 

There was a cursory investigation and the case was closed. Alexander’s Facebook seemed to indicate there was an uncle in Biloxi. They reached out to the man, who said it was a damn shame and hung up. When they called back to see if he wanted Alexander’s few personal effects, no one answered. 

They tried again the next day, and the next week, and even the next month, but the person answering always hung up. 

~~ 

Three minutes into the raid, with even their stalwart dwarven troops taking heavy fire, the party knew something was wrong. Lord Azazel never missed a raid, much less one he organized. He always provided magical support to the grunts, aided the noobz, and wielded that mithril-forged elven legendary blade, imbued with seven perfectly arranged attribute stones, with tremendous skill. Their beloved leader “L.A.” spent hundreds of hours finishing quests and mini-quests to make that sword, and he equipped it with healing stones so powerful, he could heal tens of fellow raiders at a time.

They were dying against the mountain orcs, and L.A. was M.I.A. The raiders were angry and panicked. Their guild would surely sink in the rankings, and all they’d win would be some lousy pieces of second tier armour and, like, maybe some gold. 

After the first raid was lost, things started to go downhill. They slipped from twelfth to nineteenth in their World’s ranks. There were rumours Lord Azazel abandoned them, but he was still listed as guild father and hadn’t turned over admin responsibilities to guild mother AthenaBlade61, which everyone figured he would if he had to stop playing again for a while, like he’d had to a year ago. 

They asked AthenaBlade61 several times where he was. She only responded “IDK.” 

Eventually, somebody offered to dox Lord Azazel, but the guild voted that it was poor manners, and ultimately AthenaBlade61 forbade it, asking them how each of them would feel if they quit playing and someone did it to them. 

Some in the guild started saying amongst themselves that she must know for a fact that he left the game, with others claiming they were crazy. L.A. had put too much time and effort and love into StoneQuestOnline for Mobile. There’s no way he’d abandon them. He loved to play and he loved giving noobz a leg up. 

The guild was so torn over it that they split into two guilds: To Live and Die in L.A. and Athena’s Blades. Neither guild ever attained a ranking above 25. Lady AthenaBlade61 turned her guild over to Lord Orcbanger20 a few months later and left the game. 

When she did, she deleted her account, destroying this private message: 

“I thought our marriage in-game meant something to you. But in the course of my work as a paid online political operative (don’t worry, sides don’t matter; it’s all highest bidder), I found out that you are actually a 52-year-old professor, have been married IRL to another professor for 26 years, and have a daughter my age. You should have told me. I shared intimate secrets about myself to you. I loved you. 

I can’t go on knowing our love is a lie. I can’t do this any more. I know I should be stronger for the guild, but I can’t. You were everything to me. You were the only reason I did anything, and you are getting into bed every night with a real life man. 

Goodbye.” 

Bowie

This is a short story.

“But imagine if Bowie had been convinced at an early age to never stand out, never be weird, always toe the line. What a disaster that would have been,” sulked the man into his latte. He could’ve sworn he asked for a large black, but he paid for a large black and got extra with the milk. He wasn’t gonna complain.

“Or worse,” harrumphed his companion. “What if he had been Bowie, with all the Bowie impulses, but never was rich?” He stirred his cappuccino without looking up, smiling faintly to himself without mirth.

Latte blinked and touched his own glasses out of nervous reflex. “I don’t follow you.”

Cappuccino was still stirring, but now removed the spoon. “Think about it,” he said without looking up, tasting the spoon. More sugar. He added some. Then, stirring again, he looked Latte in the eye. “If Bowie were just Bowie, a guy, and not Bowie the guy – what would he have been? Annoying and fey at best, dead at worst.”

Latte sputtered while Cappuccino sipped, having found a satisfying sweetness, “Nothing you’re saying to me makes sense.”

Cappuccino, whose real name was Al, waved his free hand in the general vicinity of the window. “Look at all of these unique and special assholes,” he said. Latte, whose real name was Geoff, gazed out into the street.

Al pointed with his spoon. “This one with the blue hair and the leather and the roller skates? She probably thinks she’s an artist. She probably thinks she’s unique. But look about a hundred feet over here, Geoffrey. No, other way. See that? Girl with pink hair, leather, and roller skates.” He stopped a second. “Actually, there’s a lot of them out there. Maybe there’s a flash mob or something. Anyhow, that’s beside the point.”

“What is your point, Al?” asked Geoff, who had sweat on his upper lip and receding hair line and had barely touched his latte.

Al laughed. “When weird people don’t have money, they’re just another unique asshole. And back in the day, when he was coming up, working class England would’ve killed him. Dressing like a girl and all that. He’d have been poof bashed or whatever those fancy assholes call it.”

Geoff was quite beside himself. He wiped his forehead with a napkin. “How can you say that about Bowie?”

Al laughed. “I’m not saying that about Bowie. I’m saying if he never had money, or fame, he would have been seen as just another annoying unique asshole like all the other annoying unique assholes. It doesn’t pay to be interesting, Geoff. Unless you have money, it seems contrived.” He took a substantial gulp of cappuccino.

Geoff wadded up his sweat-drenched napkin and bounced it on the table. He took a hearty swig of his latte. “Oh yeah, well, what do you know about it?”

Al, who looked like a cross between Robert Loggia and sensibly priced overstuffed couch, looked long into his cappuccino and laughed. With a twinkle in his eye, he told Geoff, “When I was 17, I did a performance art piece for the local community college where I wore a black leotard and draped myself in sausage.”

Geoff spat up a good portion of his latte on to the table, which he then mopped up with the sweaty napkin wad.

Al laughed. “Ten pounds of sausage. In links. And you know what my father did when he came to see my performance? He beat the shit out of me. That’s what he did. He said ‘Your mother and I didn’t suffer under Mussolini for you to waste perfectly good food!’ And he was right. He was right to say that, and he probably should’ve beat my ass two years earlier.”

Geoff just shook his head.

Al continued, “So do I love David Bowie as much as the next guy? Yes. But if he hadn’t been rich, somebody’s dad would’ve beat the shit out of him for being an annoying, unique asshole.”

Geoff stared out the window at what was indeed a flash mob of girls with unnaturally coloured hair, leather jackets, and roller skates. He sighed. “Bowie would’ve thought this was stupid.”

Al laughed, draining his cup. “Or he would’ve made it a lyric.” Doing an unnervingly spot-on impersonation, he sung to the tune of “All the Young Dudes”, “Skaters on Main, hair made of paint. Skaters on Main, leather and pain.”

Geoff was just sulking now. “I don’t think you appreciate Bowie at all. I think you think he’s a gimmick.”

Al slammed the cup down so hard, the other café patrons finally noticed the two old men by the window. “Get out,” he barked hoarsely.

Geoff sat back and blinked. “What?”

Al’s hands balled into fists on the table. “In all the years I’ve known you, you’ve never stooped so low. Get out.”

“But I…”

“I never want to see your face again.”

Geoff’s eyes went wide. “We were in Nam together.”

“Out,” hissed Al, and Geoff knew it was time to go. He left a couple dollars on the table and headed out into the rain.