A quest to make sense of it all. Or a sense to make a quest of it all.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gay pride. Straight pride. We all look like idiots sometimes.

So if you're at all aware of what's going on in America this weekend, you've probably noticed that it's time for everyone's favorite polarizing parade, in which the queerasexuals band together and strut around in stillettos, leather, bright colors, and whatever silly gear they can find. For what purpose? Depends on who you ask. Answers range from "to remind straights that we have a voice" to "just to have fun!" to "so the damn gays can shove their beliefs down our throats". If you happen to reside in a small country-fried town, you'll hear a lot more of that last one. Being around the public about 15 hours a day, I overhear a lot of opinions. Sometimes I'm asked for mine, and depending on my geographic location at the time, I often stay politely neutral in order to avoid total ostracization (or in some cases, stoning). What I've been hearing a lot of the last couple days is along the lines of "How can gays expect to be respected and taken seriously if they insist on acting all flamboyant and freakish to shove it down our throats??". (I repeat that phrase there because it's such a favorite among straights and other people whose rights are already in place and whose way of life is in no way threatened by sharing titles and benefits with their fellow citizens.)

I'm not going to launch into a discussion of right/wrong here. I'm not going to expound upon the danger of allowing your government to legislate based on the preferred religious text of whatever group happens to be in the majority at the time. I'm not going to point out all the questionable ways people cherry-pick contradicting parts of said text to base their politics on. It's Friday, and I'm tired, and a blog post isn't going to change anyone's mind. I also have several conservative friends and family members who read what goes on here, and I don't want to make it sound like I think they're stupid for their beliefs; they're not, and I respect their right to those beliefs.

No. What I'm doing today is politely requesting the Pride parade bashers to please shush if all you're gonna do is hate on the fags because some of them choose to sashay around looking like idiots this weekend. This is a special event. It is no different from any special event where everybody involved is basically trying to out-dumbass the person next to them in the name of spectacle. Gays don't have the monopoly on silly public behavior.

Anyone who wants to bitch about it is encouraged to speak up and defend a certain beloved event wherein women show their tits to straight men in exchange for plastic jewelry.

In conclusion:

Just sayin'. Unless you can tell me which of these are Pride-related and which are Doo-Dah, St. Patrick's Day, and Mardis Gras, please just keep words like "sanctity" and "freaks" out of your arguments against Pride parades.*

*Haha! Tricked you. None of these pics are from Pride events. Agree to not refer to Pride weekends anymore when we're discussing grown-up politics? Sweet.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wonder why they do that.

It was nearly time to go. Schaefer slowly rose to his full height, taking as deep a breath as he could manage. He looked around the small room, scanning over the faces of the clan. His children, his brothers and sisters, cousins, friends, and even a few rivals. His weak eyes fell on his wife, Denise, standing tall next to the exit. Her face was unreadable, and it crossed his mind to speak to her, and he almost did, but it wasn't quite time for that yet. First he had to walk. He took a step, hoping nobody saw the trembling in his skinny legs. Another step, and another. He looked straight ahead, passing the faces, not wanting to see their pity. Without a word, he continued down the narrow aisle his clan had formed, until he reached the doorway. He stopped, and looked at Denise, suddenly at a loss for words. She spoke first, breaking tradition and drawing gasps from the room.

"It's been a good run, Schaefer. I suppose I may even miss you."

He smiled. It was a shadow of a smile, but his eyes twinkled for just a moment.
"You're still very young," he replied. "You will forget me in time, and find someone new. Our children will forget me."

"Never, my love. Your children will know who their father was."

"These ones will. I'm sure I have others scattered across this region with no understanding of their lineage. I was a little reckless before I met you."

Denise laughed softly, and Schaefer managed a chuckle that quickly turned into a deep, racking cough. It finally passed, and he grew somber as the room suddenly grew brighter, as light flooded in through the narrow crack in the wall that served as a door. Behind him, he heard the quick shuffling of many feet, his companions backing away farther into the shadows. Someone whispered and was quickly hushed. He saw none of this. He had been in that formation many times. He looked down at his old, tired feet, and then up at Denise again, longing to touch her one last time...but that could not be. Her speaking first was one thing, and forgivable. To touch a loved one at the end would be too much. He could not bring shame upon his family, now, at the end of his walk. Denise nodded, understanding without speaking. He turned and faced the doorway, and forced his feet to move. It was the only time he had ever known real fear, and it took all of his strength and will. Taking a last breath from his home, he slipped through the exit and into the blinding light. Staggering across the floor, he began coughing again. Still he continued. He could not see at all now. He clutched at his chest and stumbled, falling to his knees. The pain was growing, and he could not get a full breath. At last the coughing stopped, but he still could not get enough air in. He crawled forward a few more steps, and fell onto his back, unable to go on. He stared upward into the white light, gasping shallow breaths. He was vaguely aware of a heavy rhythmic vibration and pounding, and knew The Tall Ones were nearby. His legs and arms slowly and involuntarily drew inward, curling and stiffening. He closed his eyes, and it was over.

Jake was startled out of his doze by his wife's shrieks. He jumped out of the recliner, tripping and almost falling over his startled terrier. He followed the sound into the kitchen, where Sheila stood, pointing at the floor.

"Ew! Oh, ew! Get him out of here!"

Jake looked where she was pointing, and heaved a sigh of combined relief and annoyance.

"My Lord, Sheila. I thought you'd cut one of your fingers off. You really needed to wake me up to come pick up a dead cockroach?" He grabbed a roll of paper towels off the counter and squatted down, examining the corpse for a moment. "Big one, ain't he? Bet he was old."

Sheila shuddered in revulsion. "Get him out. I didn't know we had roaches. I hadn't seen any til now!"

Jake shrugged and picked up the carcass with a paper towel. "I'll get some poison traps." He wadded up the paper towel and tossed it in the trash. "Weird, though, ain't it? They stay hid, but they come out into the light to die in the middle of the floor... wonder why they do that."

Monday, June 20, 2011

"I'm not really a waitress" is one of OPI's best colors.

This afternoon after work, I'm heading straight to the restaurant for my first shift there. All I know is that I'm starting out by hostessing and seating. I have no idea what to expect, or even what my schedule this week will look like. I do know I'm excited by the idea of making extra money while being in such close proximity to Tom Kka soup. It's been a long time since I've worked in a restaurant.

I'm just really, really happy that they don't have a salad bar. I'd rather endure watching Grease or listening to Michael McDonald than break down a salad bar ever again.

In other news, I was reunited with old friend Fowler over the weekend. We met up in Olive Branch and were soon joined by Megan. It was a lovely evening, and I can't wait to see both of them again.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In which my dad continues to be awesome.

Having just this weekend received confirmation on old suspicions regarding my ex husband's fidelity, I found myself talking to Pops about it.

Me: I just thought we had that one thing, you know? That we had that little bit of dignity, we could say we were never unfaithful.

Pops: No...you had dignity. He never did. You have dignity.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tell me about your mother breakfast.

Earlier this week, a coworker mentioned aloud that she had been losing her hair. It isn't noticeable to anyone else yet, but it's understandably really bothering her. She's right on the edge of menopause, and starting to experience hot flashes and night sweats. I've been listening to her talk about this and thinking, "Man, that's gotta suck." Yesterday she talked to her doctor and agreed to start a new medication that's supposed to help. She's already taking meds for high blood pressure and acid reflux.

She had a Lean Cuisine for lunch, and mentioned that she would probably make sandwiches for dinner.

I, being that annoying health nut (the really annoying one because she's still arguably overweight...but not for long!!), blurted out that those Lean Cuisines are hurting her and that I could probably come up with a menu for her that would encourage hair regrowth and naturally lower her blood pressure.

(Yes, I gained weight over the winter. Why? Coca Cola, that's why. I started enjoying one in the afternoon back around November, which was around the time... know what? I'm not going there. That slight slip off the clean-eating path sent me tumbling and rolling down a hill covered with convenience foods, HFCS, additives, and "enriched" white flour. I landed about a month ago, heavier and feeling like a slothful land beast. Eff that. I resolved to do what's best for me in every capacity, including what I put in my mouth. Eating clean shaved the equivalent of a first-grader off of me last year. I only need to lose maybe an 18 month-old again, or a Boston Terrier. In the last couple weeks, I've lost...about a Bichon Frise, and I've got so much energy I could re-shingle a roof by myself.)

I'm a huge believer in clean eating, and that before going on medications, one should always try to find a natural way to treat a problem. I'm making it my personal goal to get my coworker's blood pressure down, ease her acid reflux, help her lose a few pounds, and hopefully get her hair growing again, so that her doctor can OK her throwing away those damn chemicals with their heinous side effects (and heinous price tags).

This is going to be a lot of fun. I've got a lot of ideas, and I can't wait to ask her about her habits at home, her schedule, and what foods she likes and doesn't like. It's like a big jigsaw puzzle, only when you finish putting it together, someone gets to enjoy a better quality of life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Intermission, take 2.

I've been approaching this with the wrong attitude entirely. I've been sad about giving up my apartment and saying, "Well, I don't have to do this." Which is true. I don't. But here is where my attitude shifts: I can.

I've been looking at this like, "Poor me, poor me", which is a truckload of horse hockey. I am damn lucky. Instead of having to struggle my way through school and be uneasy about rent the whole time, I have this awesome family who's willing to let me crash for a couple semesters. This is a great opportunity. A lot of people don't have this kind of option. It's going to allow me to save a lot of money while finishing up at Northeast, so that when I'm ready to move on to _____ and continue my education there, I'll have a nest egg and not have to slum it. It also lets me spend more time with two of my favorite people in the world before I move to a different zip code and only see them once or twice a year.

In other news, yesterday I made one of the few really mature decisions I've made in awhile. It occured to me that if I don't take another trip to Chicago this August and use that money in a wiser way, I'll be back in a classroom in January. It sucks that I won't be able to see the manfriend until autumn, but this is how it's gotta be, and he agrees 100%. I got lucky there, too. What a great guy.

And in other, other news, tonight I'm going to one of my favorite restaurants to see about a job waiting tables at night. Cross your fingers.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I wouldn't necessarily call it a funk. I've just had a lot on my mind lately, trying to make some really tough decisions and mentally map out where each decision might take me. I can't shake the feeling that I'm hurtling toward a dead end no matter what I do. But I guess a lot of people in my position feel that way. I've been doing one thing long enough that it's basically the only thing I can do until I get more schoolin'. My alternatives without further education are not good. Even if I stay in this business, I'm pretty much hanging from the highest rung I can climb without official initials after my name. And it's not like I haven't been wanting to go back to school. I've just kept allowing obstacles to stop me, rather than suck it up and climb over them. One of those obstacles is my pride. It's convinced me a couple times over the last couple years to move out and get my own place, even though the education-hungry part of my brain shouted "Bad Idea!!". I make enough to comfortably live on my own, sure. But not comfortably live on my own and pay the remainder of an unpaid tuition in time to enroll for spring semester. I thought I could deal with that when I got the place on Maple Rd a few months ago.

I was wrong.

My pride's taken a lot of blows over the last year, almost all of them as a result of my own lack of critical thinking. So I figure it can take this blow, too, since deep down I know that it's really for the best. Living on my own comfortably in Corinth is not a good option when I step back and see that that's likely where I'll stay. I can see how I could let this semester and that semester pass, faster and faster, until education is no longer a priority because I've...settled. Settled for less than what I'm capable of, and certainly less than what would make me happy.

Back to Polk St.

So I've been pretty quiet lately. My conversations have all been superficial, and I've only read light things, and I've watched a lot more tv than usual. A lot of people would say those are symptoms of depression, but I'm not depressed. A little blue, but not depressed. I've just needed to take a few days to enter some new information, monkey around with my hard drive, and finally reboot with a new purpose.

I can't hit the ground running. This is an issue of patience and diligence, two things I usually run very short on. It's my way to look at a problem, size it up, and start pawing and snapping at it, poking at it, and getting angry at it. I'm always in a rush to fix things. I want to move NOW, I want to go NOW, I want to make up NOW, and why won't you cooperate now that I'm ready??

Once when I was little, my Grandma Charlie said, "Sarah just pushes and pushes until she can't stand it anymore." Very accurate. My way is childish, and rarely works.

So I'm sitting back and learning some patience. There is nothing to push right now. I'm in a period of waiting. This is a positive thing. I will get back in school faster, and in the meantime, I may even finish my novel.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Part 1 : "By the power of three times three, make them see, make them see."

If you owned a uterus and were under the age of 40 in 1996, or even if you didn't own the uterus and just hung out with humans who did, you probably immediately recognize that quote from The Craft, one of the silliest (and most enjoyable) movies ever made about witchcraft. Come to think of it, there aren't really a lot of movies about witchcraft that can be taken seriously. Even the really good ones are either more along the lines of dark humor (Sleepy Hollow, 1999) or not actually about witchcraft at all (The Crucible, 1996). It seems when the subject tries to take itself seriously, we get gems like Witchboard (1986), and oh, what a heap of fun that was. I'm not hatin'. Watching that movie is a truly fantastic use of 90 minutes.

A couple weeks ago, I made an offhand remark to a friend, joking that I had been hexed; I experienced a series of mishaps that week that left me with a sore toe and a broken phone. He asked me if I actually believed in curses, and I responded that I don't necessarily believe in the power of a curse based on its elements. I don't believe that roots or herbs or chants can directly affect me (unless said roots or herbs are poisonous, ground into powder, and slipped into my food, presumably from a giant ring worn on the witch's knobbiest finger). I do, however, believe in the power of suggestion, and that if you really think you've been cursed, it becomes a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. This is the principle at work in hoodoo, and make no mistake-hoodoo charms and curses work pretty well...as long as those being charmed or hexed know about it and believe in it. (Note: I refer to the casting here as hoodoo rather than Voodoo, to differentiate between the magic and the religion. Hoodoo is a relatively new term, and American in origin, and is magic without a defined religion, whereas Voodoo is a religion...and a fascinating one. We're not getting into the Vodun religion, where Voodoo is rooted; that's a thesis, not a blog post.)

I got to thinking about folk magic and superstitions, and how prevalent the latter are in our everyday lives. Asking around, I found that most people hold at least one or two superstitions that they weren't really aware of holding, and which in some cases directly contradict their chosen belief system. Take for instance the practice of knocking on wood, which I also discussed with my friend that day. Basically it's to thwart the mischevious tree sprites who live in the wood. Apparently, these malicious little buggers continue to live in wood after it's been chopped down, sanded, shaped, and fused together with other bits of wood, sat on display at a furniture store, and finally delivered to your home. (Stop snarking. It's the principle. Or something.) These sprites are just hanging out, waiting for humans to mention something they wouldn't want jinxed, so that they (the sprites) can wreak some havoc. The theory is that if you clobber their homes while you're talking about whatever it is that you want left alone, the sprites can't hear you, so you're safe. I don't think I need to describe how trying to appease spirits from pagan belief systems is in contradiction to, say, Christianity. Or how the idea of luck in general is contradictory to any monotheistic faith wherein the source of your safety and good fortune is your deity...but we still knock on wood, toss salt grains over our left shoulders, don't tell bad dreams before breakfast, and attach significance to certain numbers. 13, 7, and 3 seem to be favorites. In fact, no one I asked favored any even numbers. Hmm. The number 3 in particular is attached to all sorts of superstitions and beliefs. It's a constant detail in ghost stories and stories about demonic attacks and possession. Even a casual few minutes on Google will show you that a majority of people who wake up in the night from a terrifying dream, or awake to see "a figure at the foot of the bed!" will say they woke up at three a.m.

There is some meat to that, if you hold Christian beliefs. According to Matthew 27:45-46, Jesus died at about 3 p.m. "45-Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46-About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama Sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?". Jewish daily timekeeping back then started at six a.m. The third hour was nine a.m., the sixth hour was noon, the ninth hour was 3 p.m. It has been suggested that the increase in demonic and paranormal activity at 3 a.m. is a way of mocking the death of Christ. (This was touched on in one of my very favorite movies, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, based on the real-life 1976 exorcism of Anneliese Michel.) Again, we come back to the power of suggestion. Once you've heard that you're more likely to be scared out of your wits at 3 a.m., don't you think it's possible for that little information time-bomb to embed itself in your subconscious and detonate at 3 a.m., waking you up with a creepy feeling? I do. Absolutely, I do. I've had more experiences with Old Hag/sleep paralysis at that time than I care to count here.

The number 3 has long been associated with bad omens, and death omens. My mother told me a true story about my step-great-grandmother Mamie, and I found it pretty interesting. This was in 1942, and Mamie was pregnant. My great-grandfather Erskine was out of town for work, and Mamie was sleeping alone in her bed. The children, including my granny Cora, were all in their rooms. A the time, thick glass bed coasters were used to prevent the bed from sliding or marring the floor. Mamie woke in the middle of the night (time was not specified) to the sound of something under her bed...or rather, under the floor. It sounded like "someone under the house, hitting upward at the floor with a sledgehammer". There were three very loud blows, and then silence. Mamie, terrified, jumped out of bed and ran into Cora's room, where she stayed the rest of the night. The next morning, after telling the girls what had happened, they all went in to inspect the bed and found one of the coasters broken into three pieces. This unnerved Mamie, and convinced her it was a bad omen concerning her pregnancy. Whether she was correct on that is pure speculation. What is certain is that she went into labor not long after and delivered twins; one was my great uncle David, and the other was his unnamed sister, born dead.

Are superstitions and belief in omens neccessarily in contradiction with the Christianity my family professed? Probably not. But what about Ozark magic, Appalachian Granny Magic, wise women, folk medicine that relied as much on certain spoken words as on the healing powers of whatever plants or other ingredients being used? When my grandpa George was a boy, he was told that burying his mother's dishrag under the light of the moon would rid him of his warts. He did it. (I don't know if it worked...I don't remember him being warty, though, so I guess something worked between his childhood and when I knew him.) I know that when my uncle Dan was a toddler, he was roughhousing and slid hands-first into the fireplace, his little hands crashing right into the bright-hot coals and suffering terrible burns. My grandparents did not rush him to a hospital, but to a local wise woman who could "blow out the fire". The woman said words over his hands and blew on them. I don't know how long the healing took, but I'm told it was a fast healing, and his hands never showed any trace of the scarring that should have been permanent. We see here the curious kind of treatments that almost certainly fall under witchcraft, performed by people who self-identify as Christian. Also popular in folk wisdom: palm reading, tea leaf reading, coffee grounds reading, scrying mirrors. Divination, strictly prohibited by the Bible they otherwise follow. Is reading the coffee grounds at the bottom of your cup witchcraft? Probably not. But it is divination, for sure, and that's a big no-no. So why is witchcraft "bad", but folk wisdom/healing is ok, even though the practices are pretty similar? Is this a question of semantics? Yeah, I dunno.

To be continued...

A lot of ideas.

And too much on my mind to sort through them.

It's coming, though. Something.