I'm still a zen universalist Christian

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Monday, 30 June 2008

My faith has remained intact after attending an evening at an evil Buddhist centre (a place that has pictures of the uncommonly diabolic Dalai Lama lying around everywhere. I got a couple of books while I was there, which were free/or donation. Now I have that evil paraphernalia in my house, I'm sure I've opened myself up to Satan and his spawn to enter into my abode and ruin my life).

Okay, okay, I'll stop now. I shouldn't be so callously dismissive about a whole group of people who are going to perish evermore in the flames of hell.

But until they do, I think I might go along again next week. That was fun, and actually, really just confirmed that I am indeed a zen universalist Christian :) Or maybe I'll switch and become a Tibetan Buddhist universalist Christian :) It also confirmed that Buddhists are quite often tapping into reality. Oh, yessiree they indeedy wordy lordy are.

See, the thing is, I have long gone past the days when I needed someone else's theology to neatly tie up with mine before I could fraternise with them. But still, out of this talk tonight there was perhaps once that I felt a bit of a 'spirit twinge' about what the man was saying. And now I can't even remember what that was (which is a s-u-r-r-r-r-r-e sign, oh yes, that Satan is having his wicked way with me and I shall cast off the Lord Jesus Christ before the night is out and be off indulging in drunken orgies with men, women and dogs by mid-morning tomorrow). I think it was something about compassion, but I can't even remember what it was now but I felt a twinge because it felt like I wanted the word 'God' put in there but it wasn't. But there was a whole lot of good, commonsense stuff about looking at things in slightly different ways so as to foster compassion for others instead of getting angry, and talk about how linked we all are to each other, and about how meditation can help in the healing process, and how being selfish makes us unhappy and cherishing others makes us happy, and a whole lot of things I could imagine coming out of the mouth of Jesus.

Of course, then there were bits of meditation that could possibly cause some to squirm, but as I've already been indulging myself in that type of horridity for a while now, I have become sadly leprously immune to any spiritual alarm bells. Actually seriously, I can understand how people feel a bit creeped out by that, about things like imagining you are being filled with white light and then projecting it out towards people you need to forgive, etcetera. It does sound a bit loopy crazy if you are of the more straight Western veiw of reality, but this just feels to me like a creative visualising of what happens on some level when people pray.

The problem isn't so much what is said in Buddhism as that God is kind of absent. But even so, the fact s/he wasn't mentioned didn't even really matter to me somehow because I feel like I know that he is behind the white light, and behind the love and the ability to forgive, even as he holds our cells together, and if other people don't know that then I imagine someday they will. And anyway, it didn't stop me from praying for them or being able to hang out with them.

So there. And anyway, I don't even think Buddhism is a religion (even though there's a few worshipping of Buddha things that have filtered in, and Andi and I were saying we didn't think Buddha would be all that impressed with that, really). So yeah, I don't think Buddhism is a religion. But then again, come to think of it, I don't really think Christianity is meant to be one either.

Anyway, here's some Ongoing Adventures of Asbo Jesus for your enjoyment. As you can see, my compassion for my fundy brothers and sisters hasn't really grown all that much and I continue playing my part in fostering the division. Maybe next week I'll get me some compassion ;)

Edit: I feel really inadequate trying to describe "what Buddhism is about" because it's way too broad for me to be able to distil it down in 5 seconds (duh). But still, I guess it's still fun trying, as long as I'm happy to be wrong :)






This is the God I love. He's sure fine lookin' man. He's Something Else.

In other news, I am going here this evening to meditate with the heathens. Pray for my soul and say 16 hail Mary's for me ;)

Lemon picking

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Sunday, 29 June 2008

I have returned to writing my morning pages ee cummings style, with no grammar or punctuation. It really works for me for so many reasons that maybe I will start writing all my first drafts like this. Maybe that will give more of my first drafts a chance to (a) end and therefore (b) make it to second draft instead of stalling on the side of the first draft road (how pitted with holes that road is :)

Writing ee style would bring some kind of freedom into it, the freedom from grammatical rules and structure. But also, the way the sentences flow one into another would give a fluidity that says first draft first draft first draft. I like that buffer, that space. I need it. It would be like a safety helmet, a cloistering of this draft into myself, for me, no one else. Writing in that way would keep the fear at bay enough to write at all, would say with every word I write, "This is different to the stuff you see that's been typeset printed bound and transported. This is a lump of clay, and the very words you are using and the form says that, just in case you were thinking that what you are writing is maybe not too far away from being kiln fired. This is 300 million kilometres back the other way, where you get to play and swim in something to find out what it smells like, looks like, feels like. This is to remind you that this might not even get kiln fired at all, might not even make it past the stage where you discard it like an old boot. Or, headsmackingly, like a brand new, exquisite shoe that still, needs discarding. This reminds you that those questions of quality or possibility don't even exist in this space; how can you decide what to do with something that has barely begun to exist?"

There's something really freeing about being constantly reminded, this is first draft, this is first draft. About being reminded that what you are writing into being is so far removed from what it's going to be that friendly eyes reading finely parsed sentences of an ended piece would only ever be raping eyes at this point in time. Even my own. Just in the way that a mother's eyes would be invasive and deadly if she gazed on her unborn child (apart from those amazing in-uteru operations that are being performed today like some kind of wonderful creative dance). Even more so would be the neighbour or friend gazing. It would mean death, the unborn child always remaining and never cocooning out into a born child that runs, claps, loves, dies.

I have been fighting off a cold or flu again, just for something different. But I almost welcome the onslaught, of the bugs trying to congeal in my head, trying to get a foothold. Then, I get to bathe them in a beautiful blend of olive leaf extract, lemon juice and neem tea. That holy trinity of green and yellow fruits and leaves are helping in the healing of my very own nation. I love this nation more with the war-torn scars than I did in its seasons of peace.

I feel more able to access hope today. Yesterday was unfruitful. I couldn't get there, to the hope plateau of being able to write another word that would make any kind of sense to anyone anywhere. But today, the cavern crack has leached itself open again and I can see a faint shard of something up ahead. The best way of knowing is unknowing. The most uncomfortable way of knowing is unknowing, but it is a way for the left hand to not let the right hand know what it's doing, because the right hand has a tendency to squeeze the left hand so hard it goes numb and drops off.

Yesterday in my unfruitfulness I went to the house of a woman so fruitful I was scared I would fall pregnant just walking through her back gate. She had advertised lemons on Freecycle. The lemons I get from people whose eyes I look into always taste juicier than the ones I buy in the supermarket. The woman gave me a hoe, to use to pull the lemons down with, and asked me to pick my own, because she had a bad back. Off she went inside to do the dishes that hadn't been done for two days. I picked four plastic bagsful of yellow fruits, accompanied by the woman's twin daughters who were climbing in an accompanying tree. Five girls in all, in that house - a nine-year-old, five-year-old twins, one-year-old twins, and the woman would like a son. I picked four bagsfuls of lemons off a tree so rooted in its own soil, it's own lemonness, that coming away at the end of an hour's picking, it barely looked like I had picked any at all.

Her house and yard were full of stuff, things in the middle of being sorted, discarded. It was messy and unkempt and productive and exhilarating and I wanted to curl up in the corner of her decking and sit in the midst of all this life for a day or two. But instead I spent an hour pulling lemons down from the tree, chatting with her daughters, stopping to watch their requests that I admire their tree-climbing skills (very impressive). Two magies warbled from the large leafless trees of the house next door and I just knew that these lemons, the ones I had picked myself, from the tree belonging to a fruitful woman whose eyes I had looked into, would be the juiciest tasting lemons of all. I was accompanied to the gate by one daughter, who hugged me as I left.

To make lemons that are so ripe that they fall off the tree with a slight shake, the tree must, in the cycle of its life, lay dormant unto death.

Peace road

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...be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.
Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

It'll be different with me

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Saturday, 28 June 2008

What is that strange prideful thing about humans that makes us think that it'll be different with me? Women in potential romantic situations with men are maybe the ones who most indulge in such ridiculous thinking. I think it's the same sort of thinking that goes on with people in groups, where it's easy to fall into thinking that it's your group that has it most right.

My heart goes out to people who go into politics thinking, somehow, it'll be different with me. It's easy to berate politicians, but I think most of them are idealists wanting to make a difference. But what happens when the structures are corrupt? The political, social and religious systems that chew people up and churn them out with their idealism shredded.

I think it'll be different with me is really just a failure to face the hard slog of your own reality. We want to keep insisting that the way we are doing things now is the right way. Even though the evidence is overwhelming that the way we do things in the West is killing our spirits and the earth. It's different with me means that we can keep going and buying our little bits of consumer plastic to try to fill the void, because ... well, it's out there that's the problem. And I'm just one person. And I really want this. And it's sitting on the shelves and it's already been made, so I may as well just buy it.

That Jesus dude never concerned himself with trying to infiltrate the structures. He just got on with loving the unlovable and feeding the poor-in-whatever, doing what his heart needed to do. He didn't seek a seat on the Sanhredrin.

I keep forgetting

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Friday, 27 June 2008

I keep forgetting who I am. Not who I think I am or who the mindmonkeys or TVjabberers say. I keep forgetting who I am, I am. I need to get outside to walk.

I am always amazed at how I knew I desperately needed to be here because I was wilting, and yet once I'm here I know I underestimated the need. It's like I walked away from the mirror and forgot the earth as soon as I walked away.

I keep forgetting who I am and then I come and here I am. Amongst the tall fluffy rushes of the Maribyrnong River, I hear myself when the wind rustles through the stems, and the joy is sharp intensity.

The older I get the more I seep into the landscape around me, in preparation for the day I will seep into the earth with a sigh (except for clause 38.6(h)(1), bury me standing up with nothing between me and the ground).

Today, today when I see the gum tree I cry, and I don't know why I am crying.
Saw this over at Cheryl's place today at Hold This Space, and just HAD to repost in its entirety.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

‘The dichotomy between beauty and necessity has always been a false tension. Yet as a distraction, it has been extremely effective at crippling our power to bring full-bodied, earth-rending change. And those of us who are most intent on justice, those of us who are activists, and those of us who stand in the barrage of steady societal critique perhaps need to drink in more art than anyone else. In our line of work, the task of stoking our vision and constantly imagining possibilities is absolutely essential.

We can be so harsh and ascetic as we fling ourselves against the needs of the world. Art is accused of being bourgeois because much of the creation of art takes time and solitude and staring out the window. And how can we give ourselves permission to do that when people are starving and there is work to be done?

I think of Judas bemoaning the fragrant ointment that could have been sold to feed hundreds of hungry people but instead is poured in that single lavish, revolutionary gesture onto the head of Jesus. He views the profligate gesture as sin, and feeding the poor as the only good.

I know that voice. it comes from my own lips. But if we always see only those who are starving, we will continually wander the desert of the frantically working and overwhelmed. What we need - desperately - is to not be overwhelmed. And the single thing that keeps us from being overwhelmed is imagination…’


- taken from ‘How one justice-seeker was redeemed by beauty’, Dee Dee Risher, in Geez Magazine Spring ‘08 edition.

6.59 Sydenham. Thursday

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Thursday, 26 June 2008

The first I saw of him, he was standing the next door along in the carriage, smoking a fag. A small flicker of irritation passed through me but I thought, "Let the boy smoke" because it was apparent from where I was standing that there was a certain sort of edginess about him. It was like sharp short spikes of red were emanating out from him even from where I was standing, and he glared his way round the carriage, defying anyone to tell him to stop. He knew nobody would.

His girlfriend/enemy/best mate got off at Footscray and yelled platitudes at him as the train pulled away.

"Yeah, you're a fucking hero. Fucking h-e-r-o."

"Fuck off, ya moll," he yelled out the door as the train left. Lovers' tiff at Footscray station maybe ;)

Then he waltzed down the aisle towards my end of the carriage. The usual thing of, "Oh, no. Don't come near me!" My writer mind thinks he waltzed with insouicance, even before I looked it up - but really, I could just as easily say noncholance and sound like less of a smartarse. And anyway, I'm not so sure how noncholant or insouicant you can be when you've got blood spatters on your forehead and on your windcheater. But noncholance is an easy thing to counterfeit, especially when you learn it young. The counterfeit fools people more often than you'd think.

"What the fuck are you looking at?" he said to the guy sitting in front of me, who had been having a conversation with the guy in front of him about the bloody Labor government, and how they've had enough time to do [whatever it was] and they still haven't done it. The woman next to the other man had been saying that she thought that every politician should get thrown out of office when they don't come through with their promises. Which I imagine would make for an eternally echoing office. But it was around about then I tuned out. Political discussions about political structures seem quite pointless to me these days. And anyway, the conversation ended on an outsider's violent volition once one of the participants was asked what the fuck he was looking at.

"Nothing," was the correct reply, a downcast turn of the eyes, a human version of a puppy lying on its back and showing it's belly. A reply I would have viewed with scorn and derision as a teenager and which now shows to me, wisdom. The courage not to fight.

"Yeah, nothing's fucking right," the guy said. He sat down to my left. I stole a couple of quick glances at him but not for me tonight the entering into a conversation with a fellow traveller who was drawing me in. This one was all intimidation and spikiness. It is to the eternal gratitude and eternal loneliness of wounded people that spikiness works.

I don't know what the guy he sat down next to said to him. Whatever it was, it defused his anger. I'd like to think too it was my prayer for him, breathed out of my heart out the door of the train where I was looking because I was too scared to look at him. I couldn't bring myself to do anything else.

Whatever the guy said, a middle-aged dude with long ponytailed hair doing a crossword, it elicited an interesting response.

"Nah, mate, it's not alright. Nothing's fucking alright," bloodman said. Probably one of the more honest things said this evening in this carriage, full of largely lower-middle to middle-class people, coming home from a hard day's computer toil, just wanting to get home, get the door shut, get away from the freaks. A completely understandable and rational desire.

One that no Christian can comply with. Not really. One that we can rationalise away to our heart's content, but it's surely not an option. That desire to get away from the freaks fuels the reasons behind the violence of guys with blood spattered foreheads. Which sends the people scattering home even quicker. And so the snowball goes, and so the streets empty.

I wish I'd had the guts to lose my life to talk to that guy because when he said, "Nothing's fucking alright," he said it out to the entire carriage, and it was the most truthful thing the carriage had heard in its short life journey together, and we blew it. Like we always blow it lately now that God's dead and so is vision.

It's easy to think that no truth has been spoken 'cause it came out the mouth of a guy with a shithouse attitude, a foul mouth and a full container of violence. The Other. So easy to demonise the Other, right?

Of course, in one way you can argue that of course he is nothing to do with us. We have been off doing respectable things while he has been off bashing the shit out of people. But still. Whenever truth gets bleated out into train carriages, if we can't respond we should at least listen. Even if its by intimidation. Maybe he brought all he had to the table. But there were no crumbs anyway. The public table has no food on it. Keeping your head down and your eyes downcast is not always a brave thing.

The guy said to the carriage, "Hey, does this train go to Broadmeadows?" And the man who thought the Labor government had had ample time to do stuff said, "No, mate. Your best bet is to get off here [at West Footscray. Frank's station, right?] and catch the train back to North Melbourne."

"Oh, fuck. Thanks," he said, brushing past me as he got off the train and the carriage realised it had been holding its breath. There was a sudden rush of scapegoat cameraderie and strangers began talking to one another.

The second most honest thing said in the carriage was from the mouth of the woman who I see often, a simple-minded woman doing a simple-minded job that requires her to wear the unattractive fluorescent orange of the manual worker, and who said,

"Wow! I'm glad he got off! Oh, boy! Am I glad he got off!"

And that was the second most honest thing that was said, and I just felt like crying.
Radio Susie sometimes just plays a song for a snippet. A line will come into my head and then fade out again just as quickly.

But some songs just stay. One of those is Winter in America by ... whoever the dude is who sang that song.

Seriously, that would have to be the most pathetic, depressing song I HAVE EVER HEARD! That song makes me want to smash plates. The bit where he's talking about making love with strangers just gives me a yukky feeling in my bile, and I really wish he'd just gone off and had sad masturbatory-like sex and been seasonally affectively disordered somewhere where he didn't have access to instruments, a microphone and a method of recording.

I hate that song so much. It's as big a waste of three minutes of your life as this post is a waste of half a minute. That's 30 seconds you're never ever going to get back again. Sorry about that.

color breathing

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Tuesday, 24 June 2008

"Light is colour and colour is light. There are no actual colours in the world around us - only the waves, of varying lengths, which constitute light. These waves are absorbed and reflected by everything that light hits. The reflected waves enter our eyes, activating the rod and cone cells situated at the back of the eye, on the retina. These then transmit the light-triggered signals, via the optic nerve, to the visual centre at the back of the brain. It is only when this has occurred that we "see" colour.
Pauline Wills - Colour Therapy: Exercises and Inspirations for Well-Being


Last night I drew swirly things with pencils. This makes me happy. The swirly things are often nature-derived - seed pods and dramatic black swirly vines, and leaves and stuff. They're not always green, although I can float off on a deep mossy green. Last night's swirls were blue and orange.

I imagined, as I sat in my blue chair, that I was breathing in colour. Deep, relaxing blue, breathed deep into my lungs and out into my body. Then, to balance, its complementary colour, orange, opposite on the colour wheel, the colour of joy. Breathe in orange, breathe it out into my body.

I wore my long red coat today, the one I scored from the op shop for 11 bucks. Red is one of those colours, so vibrant and passionate, that also can rouse anger. Contrasted against the grey skies, it aroused my heart.

Red and grey look great together. The grey clouds totally covered the sky today on my way to work. I rejoiced that this didn't cause a corresponding upswing of my immune system as it's so often done in bleak years past. Grey skies are gonna clear up. They are still rather oppressive but I got to admire the fluffiness in them - never threatening rain, just threatening boredom. Grey is quite boring on its own (why so many cubicles in so many offices - grey? My cubicle walls are crimson. But they are just masquerading).

Today Palmo at work was wearing crimson. Agnes was wearing lime green. The colour of wonderful things that are probably in Kent's garden. Whenever I wear lime green people say, "Oh, that's your colour. You should wear it more often." Lime green is the colour of spring and wearing it in winter is a defying of death. And a defying of your eyes to read this on-screen. Sorry about that.

Today an Indian woman wore sari pants and a sari scarf of magenta, interwoven with gold thread. Sometimes I see a colour and I fall into it and fall into it and I come out the other end swimming on the air.

I stood at the station waiting for my train, and grabbed the thread of an idea and pulled, just a bit. Grabbed a couple of envelopes in my bag and began frantically writing on them, from Flagstaff to West Footscray, all up and down the sides of my bank statement and my telephone bill warning pending telephone closure (I don't care. I'm getting Skype).

I felt flushed, warm, pink. A few people were looking at me. This happens when I am excited. People pick up a change in your energy, I'm sure. It's more than smiles playing around mouths that cause us to look at one person over another, more than simply attractiveness or non-attractiveness. The people that interest us the most are the ones bubbling over with enthusiasm.

I am most enthusiastic when bubbling over with the beginnings of a story because I feel like the story is in touch with something else that knows all the good secrets in the world and will whisper them to me if I stop and rest. And having the beginnings of a story bubbling over in me makes me feel rich the way a big bank balance or power or prestige never could.

One day I will have the beginnings of a story and it will be about a colour and it will just be all too much. I will be overwhelmed and burst into tears and will be put away somewhere where the walls are padded blue.

And as they medicate me, I shall repeat like a mantra, shall scrawl it on the blue walls in indigo pen: The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most" (John Ruskin)

"Come now and let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow."

Keanu

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Monday, 23 June 2008

This is Lester, partaking of a piece of Keanu action. Most people when they come over to my house commandeer Keanu. My brother and my cousin have both slept on him for an evening's kip. I have slept on him quite often myself.

Keanu was born in a factory somewhere unknown. His first abode was at a house in Murrumbeena. The man loved Keanu and often lay on him to watch the television (he just didn't know his name was Keanu, nor that he had a penis. But he does. It's tucked away under the stitching).

One day the wife said, "Sell the couch." I think they bought another couch. Which is fine by me, because I ended up buying Keanu, valued at 3 grand, for 300 bucks off EBay. The best purchase I have yet made from there.

So why is my couch called Keanu? Well, I don't rightly know. Why is my car called Olive, or my laptop called Samantha? Some things just are.

Things Couch Keanu and Real Keanu Don't Have in Common
  • My couch is made of microsuede. Keanu is made of natural fibres. Actually, buying a microsuede couch was breaking my own rule, being a disliker of manmade stuff. But I bend the rules for Keanu. He's worth it.
  • Keanu's middle name is Charles. My couch doesn't have a middle name.
  • Real Keanu has lovely brown eyes. Couch Keanu has no eyes at all.
  • I can shove the remote down Couch Keanu's cushion crack and know where it is. If I shoved the remote down Real Keanu's crack I might not be able to find it again.
  • Couch Keanu has an accompanying chair, called Chair. Real Keanu just came single serve by himself.
  • Real Keanu has made heaps of money from his acting career. Couch Keanu only got that shitty gig in that D grade movie and then spent the rest of his acting career being the couch the swimming pool guy and the chick did their thing on in bad porn movies (it's okay, he's Scotchguarded).
Things Couch Keanu and Real Keanu Do Have in Common
  • Real Keanu has a sister called Karina. Couch Keanu has a sister called Karina, who lives in Moe with a guy called Rick.
  • Couch Keanu wipes clean with a sponge if you spill stuff on him. Real Keanu wipes clean with a sponge if you spill stuff on him too.
  • My couch has a wooden frame. Keanu sometimes has wooden acting.
  • I like to bounce up and down on my couch. I would like to bounce up and down on Keanu.
I've been having fits of guilt about posting the pics I do here from DeviantArt. My rationale for using them has been that I only use the ones that are available for download. I figured that it would be okay to use those ones on my blog - but still, it's really just rationalising away the fact that all of them are copyrighted and I'm violating it.

So, down they're comin'. From now on, I'm only going to use public domain or creative commons licensed stuff. Whee. Do I feel righeous ;) It's going to be harder to find stuff, but the lastest version of Firefox has this really cool search feature for creative commons, so let's see how we go.

I've deleted my Facebook account and I'm just about to delete my MySpace one too, when I get my old blog posts downloaded. I am bored with both of those places and sometimes, when my inner conspiracy theorist kicks in, I feel quite uncomfortable about them. Apart from that, they both shit me. No, Joe Blow from Texas, I don't want to be your friend. I don't need to build up my self-esteem by having 486 online buds, ta very much.

I have been trying to burn a whole lot of Mocca's CDs but my laptop isn't coming to the party. Do I feel guilty about burning CDs? Yes. Do I do it anyway? Yes. Do I feel guilty about doing it anyway? Yes.

But not enough to stop.

Creative constipation

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Sunday, 22 June 2008

Aagh, suddenly I've lost the door to the creative room. If I don't do something every day, these crazy Jack and the Beanstalk weeds grow up in, like, an hour and it's really hard to find my way in. Then, cleaning the stove becomes very important (well, that's metaphorically, 'cause I haven't been doing that either. In fact, today I have been doing pretty much stuff all, really, trying to do just what I want to do instead of what I should do - and consequently not getting dressed until 5pm :).

The difference these days is that I know that those weeds look really high, but their roots don't go down deep. They are paper weeds with paper roots. Indeed, sometimes I can pull the entire thing out in 5 minutes. But still, while I'm creatively choked, instead I'm reading other people's stuff, and loving this poem from Urbanmonk:

A Poem is a Suffocating Fish

Ive learnt
from all the crushing
and squeezing and straining
by that invisible hand
that seems to push your life
through a sieve like lumpy batter
that a poem is not a statement
but some plumbing
of the souls pond
hauling suffocating
fish up onto dry land

You cook them
they get smaller
and crispy
And then you eat them again
or serve them to your friends
In a letter to Wayne Jacobsen on The God Journey, someone said:

In trying to explain this to others [the difference of a life lived in God rather than a life lived to try to placate God], I've used this analogy: it's as if I've been looking at the back of a television for the last 20-odd years, wondering if this really is all there is. All of a sudden the TV's been turned around and I'm beginning to experience what I was meant to find all along.

Wayne:
Boy, if boring doesn't describe religion, I don't know what else does. It's like looking at the back of a TV set for 20 years.

Hehe :) Now, just to reiterate, I'm not talking about every Christian who goes to a Sunday morning meeting that is boring or 'religious'. Neither are all of the meetings themselves boring or 'religious'. But most of them are, for mine, not out of bad intentions but just because most of them are so bogged down in ... I dunno, tradition, religion, fear, that the life only gets to poke its head up here and there throughout the service before, oops, it's time for the fourth song, or you can't say that because you're just the congregation, or you can't have those problems because you're a believer, bathed in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, the Lord Jesus Christ ain't stopped me from having a whole lot of shit happen. In fact, all the Christians I know that I like best, both online and offline, are the ones who are having a whole lot of shit happening to them. Because they're admitting it, right? 'Cause they can. 'Cause the religious folk are having bad shit happen to them too, but they can't admit it because it doesn't fit into their religious paradigm. A paradigm which has basically nothing to do with God, and everything to do with the way people have related to him since forever. The religious system is not about God. It doesn't say anything about God as much as it says everything about human beings and why it is that we need God. And that counts for every single bloody one of us.

I said on Erin's blog the other day that I hate Christians. Actually, I think I said I fucking hate Christians. Which is pretty harsh, really. But I do, because they are some of the ugliest people on the planet, the overtly religious person who doesn't realise it. They come out of all religions. But the extent of my anger really probably says more about where I'm at than anything. 'Cause I might have spied out some good land, and even rolled around in its grasses, and I might be having some sort of a relationship with God that has actually got to the point where I feel safer in him than I ever have ever in any human person, and which has achieved a depth where, like last night, I can be driving to the video store and have this moment where I just felt this communion that brought tears to my eyes at the thought of him.

But I'm still the kind of person who 10 minutes later was bored, who has still got a whole lot of critical, judgmental things going down. And the place I can see that the most is in the way I treat my brothers and sisters, even if it's "not hurting anybody", even if it's only in my own head. 'Cause really, if I'd rolled around in the grass enough, I'd have come to the conclusion that it's not all about me, and about scoring points off other people even if it's in my own head. And that sucks just as much as being a 'religous' folk does.

Well, almost ;)
It is not my experience that society hates and fears the writer, or that society adulates the writer. Instead my experience is the common one, that society places the writer so far beyond the pale that society does not regard the writer at all.

Whenever an encounter between a writer of good will and a regular person of good will happens to touch on the subject of writing, each person discovers, dismayed, that good will is of no earthly use. The conversation cannot proceed. From such chastening encounters I have always learned far more than I intended.

Once, for example, I learned from a conversation with a neighbor that I had been living as it were in a fool's paragraph.

This neighbor, who crewed on a ferryboat, was one of the world's good, sane people. He was the local sheriff. He was an emergency medical technician, a volunteer fireman, a husband and father, and an unequaled contributor of witty remarks into the window of each car that rolled on and off the ferry. May his tribe increase.

One rainy day, this member of the real world gave me a ride home. I invited him in for a minute, and somehow all hell broke loose.

Politely, he asked me about my writing. Foolishly, not dreaming I was about to set my own world tumbling down around my ears, I said I hated to write. I said I would rather do anything else. He was amazed. He said, 'That's like a guy who works in a factory all day, and hates it.' Then I was amazed, for so it was. It was just like that. Why did I do it? I had never inquired. How had I let it creep up on me? Why wasn't I running a ferryboat, like sane people?

I hid my amazement as well as I could from both of us, and said that actually I avoided writing, and mostly what I did by way of work was fool around, and that for example that morning I had been breaking my brain trying to explain Whitehead to my journal. Why, he wanted to know, was I doing that? Again I stopped completely short; I could not imagine why on earth I was doing that. Why was I doing that?

But I rallied and mustered and said that the idea was to learn things; that you learn a thing, and then as a matter of course you learn the next thing, and the next thing ... As I spoke he nodded precisely in the way that one nods at the utterances of the deranged. '... And then,' I finished brightly, 'you die!'

At this we exchanged a mutual and enormous smile. Still nodding and smiling in perfect agreement, we ended the visit and walked to the door.


The Writing Life - Annie Dillard

Sounds good to me part II

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Saturday, 21 June 2008

Mike is in a blogging frenzy this morning (his time) in damp Dorset. This quote, from his friend (I hope his friend doesn't mind me reposting it here) just resonated so much with me:

God plants his dream in a person's heart and then moulds the person to fit the dream. Even though the moulding process seems to contradict the promise, the day comes when God moves the prepared person into his prepared place... and the dream becomes a reality.

Of course it's like that. But I have so many little dreams going on, and some days I doubt that any of them will come to pass, especially when I look at myself and start thinking stuff about how much I need to change and grow and be different to achieve what I want to achieve ... and this brings me back with not even a thud but a gentle, graceful landing into Now, and into whatever is going on in front of me. Wonderful stuff, Mike's friend! Thanks.

Sounds good to me

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Re-creation, holy leisure, is the mainstay of the contemplative soul, and the theology of Sabbath is its cornerstone. "On the seventh day," scripture says, "God rested." With that single image, that one line of Holy Writ, reflection, re-creation of the creative spirit, transcendence, the right to be bigger than what we do, is sanctified. To refuse to rest, to play, to run loose for awhile on the assumptions that work is holier, worthier of God, more useful to humankind than refreshment, strikes at the very root of contemplation. ...

Recreation is the act of stretching the soul. When we stop the race to nowhere, when we get off the carousel of productivity long enough to finally recognize that it is going in a circle, we reclaim a piece of our own humanity. ...

Only Sabbath, only re-creation gives me the chance to step back and think, to open up and be made new, to walk through life with eyes up and heart open, to expand the human parts of my human experience.


Illuminated Life, Joan Chittister

Lifted from Barbara's blog.

This just goes right into the middle of my solar plexus, and it whirls around in there like it's got fins and a tail.

This just goes right into the middle of my soul because in that space of holy leisure lies all the trinkets I've been uncovering, exploring, re-exploring, all those creative things that I can do that really yell "fuck you" to the culture more than holding up signs and protesting does. Turns out that being myself, and walking into what that means, fully inhabiting myself instead of abdicating 6 feet above myself, ends up being the absolute best thing I could be.

Okay. So I'm obviously not a rocket scientist. But still, who woulda thunk it?

Happy solstice!

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If I wasn't so self-conscious of my body (thanks, advertising, thanks past history) I would go dancing naked around a bonfire this evening. Instead, I think I will stay home and write meaningless posts about my couch.

Today is the Winter solstice. This time last year, I was scrabbling to get to this point, feeling already like I was hanging on like crazy to the notion that the days were going to get longer. This year, with better health, the lack of light isn't affecting me as much. I used to cry with the unfairness of it all that when you're sick, and you really desperately need things like good sleep, and functioning adrenal glands, and circadian rhythms that function at something like half speed to help you get better, that's the very time you don't get it. How cruel that is.

I guess one thing I've learnt out of that experience is to not judge other people when they say stuff like, "I can't get out of bed in the mornings" (seeing I still can't do that. Indeed, I slept in this morning and woke up at noon - which is late even for me). But when people say stuff about how they're really affected by certain things, and I can see other people who have blessedly had good health all their lives and who totally take it for granted, I can see the judgment in their eyes, you know? And it's just a reminder to me of how blind we all are, and how quick we are to condemn and judge and criticise those things that we don't understand or that scare us, and how it is that I'm just as quick as anybody else to do it in many areas. And yet I take solace that when it comes to health issues, I ain't gonna be doing that because I have learnt, through experience, in my own body and soul and spirit, what that "law" looks like when it gets walked out in the flesh.

We get to walk all the laws out in our flesh. When we really understand them, it's because they have smouldered themselves in, often with a sickening smell of burning flesh along the way, and it's all the difference in the world between learning and knowing it up in your head, and learning and knowing it in your entire body and soul and spirit.

Anyway, happy Saturday, bloggers. I'm just swimming in it this morning, the freedom. It feels so damn good. And happy solstice, too, Winter or Summer. I get this visual of the earth being finely and evenly balanced on the day of the solstice, the long day at one end balanced out by the long night at the other. And yet, in some way future but peeking itself into now, it's all perfect all the time. But we won't know that till we walk out into it ourselves, body, soul and spirit.

6.20 Sydenham

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Friday, 20 June 2008

Got the early train tonight. Stood in customary spot in doorway. Diagonally opposite, two teenage girls. In front of them, young man in early 20s sitting on the floor.

Was listening to his iPod and began singing. Quietly at first, but then louder.

"How do you describe a feeling?
I've only ever dreamt of this."

Desiring greater communication amongst his fellow travellers, he opened it up to the floor. He asked me first, and I kinda smiled at him. Hoped it was a rhetorical question. Thought he probably was maybe a bit mentally challenged or a bit drugged out or something because no one is that excited or communicative on the train, are we? Because we can't veer out of train convention. People might think we're whacked, you know? Guilt by association.

So he posed it to the girls in front of him and they did that thing where they were ignoring him but not fooling anybody. Kind of an ostrichey burying your eyes in the air and just waiting for the buzzing noise to go away.

So he posed it to me again. I could feel that feeling where you want to slide into the floor, you know? "Don't look at me!" The way I feel at comedy venues or at impro shows when they're scanning the crowd for someone to bring on stage. Don't - look - at - me. Oh, hot shame.

But this, this was tepid shame, really. And anyway, I have been blessed with a relatively outgoing personality, one that can switch off the gazes of the people staring at me on the train. Well, I'm pretty sure that personality trait still exists; it's been ripped around the edges, like everything, in recent years. And I am feeling a bit mentally challenged myself this week, a bit frail and fragile. But then, something tipped me over, poured me out, and I pushed down the shame. Had to, really. Would have been rude not to answer. I looked at him. Prayed that he wasn't going to say anything horrible to me. And he said,

"Guess who is singing this song!"

Right. The rest of the carriage is looking at me. The only time we look intently at each other on public transport is when someone has removed themselves from the 2 inch wide appropriate behaviour tangent and gone off and done something crazy like ... laugh. Or talk to strangers.

So fuck it. It makes my rebellion rise. The train ride is boring and this guy is looking me straight in the eye, which is more than I can say for most people you come across. And who can resist music trivia, right? So.

"Oh, I dunno," I say.

"Well, guess!" he says. He's in his early 20s, obviously gay, sitting on the ground, surrounded by his mini discs. I feel brain dead after hours in front of a computer screen. But this could be fun.

"Umm ..." I feel my 37 years. "Well, okay. Has it come out recently?" I ask.

"What do you mean by recently?"

"Well, in the last six months?"

"Well, yes. The album was released last October, and this single was released in May,"

He knows this performer pretty well, obviously. And I have a ridiculous remembrance for him stating those dates considering I can't remember what I was doing 5 minutes ago.

Okay. You're pushing the bottom of Susie's musical barrel, 'cause I can hear that disco-ey beat through your headphones, and me and music you dance on ecstasy to have never really been all that close. So here we go, making an idiot out of myself.

"No, you'll know her," he says confidently. "She's been around for 21 years."

"21 years? Okay. Maybe I will get here then. So she was around in 1987."

"Yep."

Mariah Carey was my first guess and hit upon the correct answer, Kylie - of course, Kylie, the love of so many gay men's livs - about third. This was getting fun, so then I played guessing some of his other musical tastes - Madonna (I've got her book "Sex", that she released back in 1992. It's full of really fucking crazy shit"), Amy Winehouse ("Her album is called Frank. That's my name. It's the only album that's ever been named after me.") We agreed that Elvis Presley was okay but not anything to go nuts over and I told him about some of the stuff I've been listening to lately - Counting Crows and Ray LaMontagne and The Beatles. And then we went on to talking about The Jennifer Tate Show, which I am really starting to get into now and think she is quite berwilliant. Frank's favourite character of hers is the old woman, who goes into various public places and behaves abominably and manages to say the word 'fuck' 14 times.

So Frank was getting off at West Footscray.

"Where are you getting off?" he asked as he got up to leave.

"Tottenham."

"Oh, I used to get off at Tottenham. Well, anyway, seeya!" And he ambled off the train, the doors closed, and off we took.

The elderly Vietnamese woman said to me,

"Excuse me," and pointed down at the ground where Frank had once been sitting and where his mobile phone still was. As the person who knew Frank best on the train, it seemed it fell to me to return his phone.

So anyway, now I have spoken to Frank's brother and Frank's Mum. Looked up "Mum" in his contacts on his phone, figured Mum was probably a good bet, and gave her a call. Could hear the suspicion in Frank's brother's voice when he answered the phone to, "Ahh, hi. Is this Frank's Mum's house?" Or maybe it was fear. Fear that then I was about to tell them that Frank had fulfilled his lifelong dream to fly off the Westgate, or had taken 14 eccies in a row and was lying in a bush at West Footscray station, or whatever. We always think the worst. Indeed, we're trained to.

So finally sorted out why I was ringing Frank's Mum. Got Frank to call me. He was all effusive and bubbly and gregarious and oh so very happy to get his phone back. Which I'm just about to drop off. I think I'll neglect to tell him I've just written a blog post about him :)

I feel strangely cheered, you know, having this conversation with this stranger on a train. It felt ... daring. Which is totally fucking ridiculous but it's always how it's gonna seem in this stupid society where every person who sings song lyrics must be a crazy head. No wonder we all teeter into depression, and ennui, and meaninglessness and drugs. Anything to get away from the place where the ways we are allowed to behave are 2 inches thick.

Edit: I got such a big hug when I dropped his phone off, heh :)

"Let me give you some money for it," he said, moving to go inside. And I said,

"No! Don't be silly! You don't have to pay me!" I noticed that I was being rather more flamboyant and dramatic in my speech, flinging my body around as I was talking. Isn't it funny how we mirror each other's speech and stuff? I used to think that was a symptom of a too-ill-formed identity but now I think it's evidence of the way that we all need each other. We're meant to seep into each other's edges, just a little bit. You can always rub it out again later if you don't want it.

And so he didn't go inside, and what I really wanted to say to him was,

"Well, actually, I don't s'pose you know anyone round here that sells single grams of dope, do you?" But I didn't. Luckily. Dammit.
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cat
more cat pictures

Hooray. Friday.

In other news, I still haven't met up with my old school friend yet. She leaves on Monday, and I'm so nervous about it that I'm kinda hoping we just let it slide. I think she would let it slide from her end because she's even more nervous than me.

Why am I so worried? I never used to be such a wussbag

Stability

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Thursday, 19 June 2008

This four days a week at a boring job thing is alright when you stay in the moment, when you tether yourself to here. To now.

Which is a terribly difficult thing to do in our culture. Everywhere I look are people living in a way which seems almost designed to send us whirling into space. I've been reading the latest issue of Adbusters. Got two copies free for writing something on their website, which was kinda a pretty cool deal. Reading about how they say that in 20 years' time, mental illness will be the number one cause of death in our society. They were surmising that much of the reason for that will be that our societies have removed themselves from the natural world to such a ridiculous extent.

It's no secret that I love trees and nature. I don't understand people who don't immerse themselves regularly in it. We need it. We need the earth. We need to sink our hands in it, or our bare feet. We think we can do without the earth like we think we can do without God, but really we can do without neither. Planting my feet on the earth grounds me literally. I think the past few years have forced me to this position. I'm so grateful. I have fallen in love even deeper with the earth.

It's a painful thing having your eyes opened (ever so slowly) to the reality of things. It is God's inexorable push, to draw us towards the light of reality. He knows anything else is polluted air for us. The air of Christendom is so dirty. Removed from her grounded earthroots, how could it not be so? It shows in her fruit and in her endorsement of wars and governments that rape the poorest of the poor in the name of economic and social models.

My health has stabilised. It's Winter, and at least once a week I am feeling the tug of my immune system downwards as it sets itself up to fight off cold or flu marauders. Every day, I drink lemon juice and sink into the yellow as I'm squeezing it by hand. Every day I drink olive leaf extract and two cups of neem tea. Those three things have contributed to being in this heady place where the colds and flus are held at bay. You don't truly appreciate your immune system until it's been a stuff-up for years on end. You don't truly appreciate having glands that work properly until you've gone through extended periods where they're standing up like painful golfballs on the side of your neck.

Man, my heart softens for people who are stuck in the hell of ill health. Because this society is sick itself it has no heart for those who are struggling physically with illness (we get suckered into thinking our Western societies aren't so bad, but the evidence is all around, in the very air, in that country over there, that we are living in every way that is unsustainable. We can't see it because the very system itself blinds us and we wish to be kept blinded because we don't want to give up our stuff).

Papa knows how our stuff has almost suffocated us. I don't think s/he needs to preach about it. God doesn't need to stick it into a PowerPoint presentation for us to get it. Seems to be much more interested in showing us, in our own bodies, and minds, and hearts, and souls, through interaction with other people, with the earth, with touch, taste, smell and sight, so that the things we learn are the things we experience. You can't experience anything in a book.

This post is a ramble. But sometimes you get that.

Tonight I hope to begin writing about my dear couch Keanu :)

Baraka

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Wednesday, 18 June 2008

I watched Baraka for the second time last night. Well, I didn't realise it was the second time until things started occurring to me again and I realised that this was again one of those times that I had forgotten I'd seen something because I'd been stoned the first time.

Sheesh, what a bloody waste of time, huh?

Smoking dope, I mean, not the movie. The movie is just wonderful, so very poetic in the way he juxtaposed certain scenes. I just can't get the chickens out of my head :(

I also can't get it out of my head that I was bawling like a baby watching those chickens, but not as hard watching kids crawl around on rubbish dumps. There's something really rooly wrong there.

It's just that chickens are innocent. And people aren't.

Miracle prayers

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Tuesday, 17 June 2008

You know the instrumental break in Miracle Drug where Edge goes all Edge-y on his gee-tar? I reckon God must have really loved it when he first said that to him.

I said it to God this morning too.

Papercut Art

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A while ago I came across the papercut art of Peter Callesen. I went searching for him again this morning to send the link to my art therapist. I just lurve this guy's stuff!



http://www.petercallesen.com/index/index2.html

My Life as a Tree

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Monday, 16 June 2008
















This is the first sculpture I have ever made as an adult. I'm pretty chuffed with it really, for a first effort. It's unfired as yet. I hope it lasts the furnace. If it doesn't it was nice knowing you, Harold.

That's her nickname, Harold. Which is pretty silly. But she won't tell me what her real name is yet. It's a secret. But I think it starts with A.

Me and clay, we've got this thing.

After playing with clay, me and Naughty went to the Arboretum again and saw some real live ones.
I am pure cactus. Had only four hours' sleep, but had a full day of vim and vigour. Which is basically a first for me and my health. I finally finished my essay. I am sorry my teacher has to read such drivel, but there's nothing for it. If I am allowed, and if there is space for another first-year subject in my degree, I am going to take an Introduction to Drawing and Painting class next semester. I'm excited about all this stuff. I'm also going off to buy some clay sometime soon :)


Remind me ...

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... to start on my essays earlier, someone? Anyone? ('Cause I don't want to take responsibility for my procrastination ;)

'Cos it's almost 2am and I've still got at least another hour to go. Late night trip to the servo to get milk to fuel the 2 cups of coffee I've had after midnight, a packet of Twisties for some low-quality carbs, and an impulse buy (how can you not impulse buy after midnight) - two packets of beef jerky for some thinking protein - but shite that stuff's expensive, and the dog dribbles enough to drown me so I have to share. Spoilt brat.

Wish me luck. Because I really don't give a shit about authority and authenticity of the writer in autobiography. But I have to make this some sort of cohesive thing. And I really wanna go to bed.
I'm on an email list that discusses and shares relational Christianity. Have been on it for years, came across it when I was in the process of leaving the church building I attended, and Googled something to that effect and came across Wayne Jacobsen's wonderful site and the yahoogroup that goes along with it.

I had some really cool online fellowship there, came across a whole stack of people who were feeling the disconnect in the building just as much as I was (oh, bliss to find likeminded souls) and it was just so good to be able to share without being judged, you know? To ask the difficult questions, and the questions that sounded as if you were losing your mind or your faith or both, and to have validation and affirmation. Sweet stuff.

I haven't been as involved lately (funny, but it's probably the time I have needed the fellowship the most, but I have been quite disabled at fellowshipping the last few years, far too focussed on my own stuff. And anyway, there's this blogging community I've fallen into now.

Actually, even though these two online forms are both situated on the internet, there are differences. Blogging is a far more public space and yet is singular expression in its general form. A forum is a confluence of voices. The dynamics created are much more representative of 'real life fellowship' than blogging. But blogging affords people a voice that they might not have out in 'real life fellowship'. I imagine the best type of real life fellowship would be a combination of those two things - everyone heard, everyone contributing, in a great symphony. That sounds a bit corny, but I still harbour hope :)

But anyway, I digress from my real aim, which is to reproduce a post one of the members made to the forum today (permission granted, of course) which resonated so with me that I wanted to share it with you:

In January of this year, I realized that June 14, 2008, would be the 40th anniversary of the day I decided to follow Jesus. It really overwhelmed me, as I looked back, because it seems I have wasted so much time. There were far too many years in the wilderness, far too many bad choices and living out the consequences of them. There was half a lifetime of doubts and fears, knowing I could never measure up to all the requirements that were tossed out at the Sunday club. Most of my life, I was a taker, a seeker of healing. Being so self-centered, I paid a big price. I never felt that my life made a difference.

I think it has been ten years or so since Father started nudging me outward, away from my inner needs and pains. I did spend half that time hating it, struggling against it, trying to keep the focus on me and what I mess I thought I was. Through a confusing loss, I spent about a year refocusing. The healing came slowly, but it DID come! So, the realization that I have been a follower of Jesus for 40 years was bittersweet, as my heart longed to make a difference for others.

The first conscious thing I did was to volunteer with Hospice. After being peripherally involved in the death by cancer of a life-long friend, it became a longing in my heart that could not be quenched, to be a friend to those who are dying, to make the last months of a life less stressful, more natural. So, I do that as God gives me grace.

But I wanted to do more. I wanted not only to reach out to others, but to show Father in some real and impactful way what our relationship means to me. I decided to plan a retreat. I wanted to get away and be with Father, sing and pray and read and journal for a few days, just to focus on Him and tell/show Him my feelings for Him in a concentrated way.

I saw a bumper sticker once: If you want to make God chuckle, try "making plans".

To hasten to my point, this week I am sleeping in a tent in a campground along the coast of California with my eight year old granddaughter. I brought a backpack full of books, Bibles, journals, etc., and haven't opened it once. I have learned much more, love much more, just by allowing Father to do what He does best: Love me. Here's what has happened:

Every day has been filled with activities. We are exhausted every night and fall straight to sleep. But each and every day, Father has been showing me something new.

Yesterday, as I sat on a piece of driftwood and watched my granddaughter romping in the surf, I thought about her life these past few years. Her bio dad is a drug addict, which she doesn't realize. She adores him. She doesn't know why her Mom divorced him, she just knows that her life is very different now, which is fantastic of course, but she doesn't understand a lot of it.

At almost the exact day of the divorce, her baby sister was born. So, not only had her dad left her life, but now she had to share her mom with a baby, who did and still does (at 2 1/2) get the lion's share of attention. Less than a year later, her mom met and quickly married a wonderful man, whom I adore and she kinda does. He is 20 years older than her mom, and a former Baptist minister, now a chaplain at our hospital. He is very strict, needless to say, and has three children (23 and 22 married, 12 living at home and spoiled rotten. So, she has gone from only child to middle child, and has had a rough time. As a result, I have spent a lot of time with her, as she lived in my house most of her life and I am the only relationship that has not changed in the past three years. Our relationship has been her only stability.

Sorry for that length.

Anyway, as I was watching her in the surf Father revealed to me that this is a life that I have ministered to in more significant ways than I am able to understand, not the least of which is this vacation we are taking together. I cannot even begin to explain the ways I have been blessed.

I broke down crying and began praising Him as I realized that instead of me coming on a trip where I could concentrate on Him all by myself, could pray for ways to make a difference, He clearly showed me the life He has placed right in front of me, a life in which I have made and continue to make a significant difference. The thing I had been wanting to do was right in front of me. I just didn't realize the depth of impact that I was having until Father opened my eyes to my little girl and her heart, her pain, the changes, the adjustments, the criticism, the demands...all the things she has had happen to her...and the solid place I am for her. What an honor.

That was SO long, but this has been SO impactful to me. I think in the back of my head I did realize that my relationship with my granddaughter was important, but the depth of it, the long-term impact seems enormous as I see it through Father's eyes.

Last year, my granddaughter made the decision to follow Jesus. Her mom did the same thing at the same age, but this child has known adversity much more than her mom did, and so I see her heart really being changed as she learns to love her God. What an enormous privilege it is to witness our Father at work in a young life, and to be a part of that work in ways I could not really see until right now.

Again, embarrassed by the length, but I am sitting in a tent waiting for a child's eyes to open for the day, and feeling SO much love.
I am writing a rather dreary essay about different forms of life writing (like autobiography, memoir, personal essays, amongst other forms like the graphic novel and even life writing as represented on social networks like Facebook). My essay is broadly about authenticity and authority of the writing subject. It examines issues of truth and falsity, as we have also been covering topics in this unit that blur the distinctions between "real" and "fiction", like "autobioraphical fiction" and "fictional autobiography" (two separate things) and even false autobiographies. It's an interesting subject but a fair wad of it kinda does my head in.

Actually, a lot of academe does my head in simply because it is so dry. But I understand the methods. Sometimes you need to bring things back to absolute rank dryness to be able to see them properly, before you let them burst forward again in all their "isness".

I actually think that some good comes out of academia, and I was just happy to be involved in a subject where the word "God" was allowed to be spoken without it being disparaged as a concept that was proven to be false by so-and-so back in the 60s or whatever.

Indeed, often I will read things that kinda made me smile, because I think how it is that God is in everything, is woven into the very fabric of who were are, if we can only understand that. And how it is that even in academia, where in many respects God is viewed as some sort of an anachronism, I notice him creeping back in unbeknownst, in through the back door, and it makes me laugh :) Like this:

In an earlier inquiry into the origins of selfhood, I presented self and language as mutually implicated in an interdependent system of symbolic behavior. To illustrate the dawn of the self-consciousness that is the stuff of autobiographical discourse, I focused on the celebrated well-house episode in Helen Keller's Story of My Life (1902), arguing that it offers "a rare, possibly unique, account ... of the emergence of selfhood that occurs ... at the moment when language is acquired" (Fictions 209-10). Although Keller had previously mastered a small vocabulary of finger-words spelled into her hand by her teacher, Anne Sullivan, it was only when Sullivan placed one of her hands under the spout and spelled into the other the word water that Keller achieved simultaneously a sense of language and self. It was truly a kind of intellectual and spiritual baptism: "I knew then that 'w-a-t-e-r' meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul" (Story 23). I summarized the upshot of the well-house episode schematically as follows: "the self ('my soul') emerges in the presence of language ('w-a-t-e-r') and the other ('Teacher')" (Fictions 212).
Relational Selves, Relational Lives - Eakin


And the Word became flesh and dwelt among them.

Happy birthday to Abbess Petunia, aka Tune, who has as her pet Christine from Abbey of the Arts.

Tune sure knows how to sleep with all of her being. Those animals - they just know how to be themselves, don't they?

Imagine a world of people who were all fully themselves (it's a promise). If it were possible, we would all be tempted to bow down and worship each other.

Wheee!!!

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Saturday, 14 June 2008

My footy team just beat Adelaide on their home turf, first time we've beat them there in 14 years. Wheeee!!!!


We're a happy team at Hawthorn
We're the mighty fighting Hawks
We love our club and we play to win
Riding the bumps with a grin
At Hawthorn

Come what may you'll find us striving
Teamwork is the thing that talks
One for all and all for one's
The way we play at Hawthorn
We are the mighty fighting Hawks

Procrastination

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I have just begun writing an essay which was due yesterday :( Why is it that as soon as something hits my to-do list it becomes a chore and all the fun goes out of it? It becomes a law and takes on all the connotations and fun (ie very little) of that.

But it's not just the chore element that has caused the procrastination. All it takes to get over the chore roadhump is a slight mind switch. The real reason I'm procrastinating is because I haven't been able to work out what I want to say. But before, I sat down and in my morning pages started threshing out what it was that I couldn't work out. Which sounds a bit strange, but so often I can articulate what I don't know, which is probably what Rumsfeld was trying to say when he got lampooned. How weird that place is, where we can see what we don't know.

But maybe there are two types of not knowing. The first type, you can see what you don't know because part of you on some deep level does know it, or is in the process of having it revealed. The second type is the things that we just don't know at all, couldn't see even if they were pointed out to us, things that we are so blind to they might as well not exist. Those things are evident to lots of other people. Which is a bit of a scary concept, really, and not a thought place that I want to sit in for too long. It's cold and concrete and has no scatter cushions or comfort. And certainly no God. He's here in the present, showing me the things that I already half-know. How gentle he is with the showing. It makes me trust him even more, the way he goes about revealing the hardest things of myself.

An old school friend is down in Melbourne at the moment from Western Australia, where she moved about 16 years ago. We haven't seen or spoken to each other for 15 years until recently. A few phone calls over the past few months, and now we're talking about catching up while she is down. Which is pretty scary, really. I'm not so sure if I'm going to be able to do it this weekend. I have procrastinated so much with this essay that I am running out of time. Sometimes I wonder if I procrastinated purposefully so I wouldn't be able to meet her this weekend. We are such wiley creatures. But no, I think I have procrastinated really because I have worked an extra day this week and I felt it. If nothing else, I have the writer's requirement for oodles and oodles of solitude in which to think and process things. It is growing stronger the more pronounced my creativity becomes, and has nothing to do with not wanting to be around other people. Actually, it enhances the time I spend with other people.

Except when those other people are old school friends I haven't seen for over a decade. The anticipation of that is quite fraught with anxiety.

I will be so relieved when my essay and my meeting (or not) are over.

This post was pure procrastination.

It's a chorish Saturday, bloggers.

Mixed messages

6 comments

Friday, 13 June 2008

Dear Pretty Baby,

I don't believe him. I just don't. Yes, yes, I know on the one hand he's telling you he wants to be yours and yours alone, and he's doing that thing with his eyes while he's saying it. But listen, girl. In the next breath he is here to tell you, honey, that he is bad to the bone. He's not sticking around, Pretty Baby. He may sound like he's going to, but he's already told you in verse 1 how not only has he broken a thousand hearts before you, but he's only halfway through. He's got another thousand to go.

Yours and yours alone, yes. Until he starts bonking your mother. Wake up to yourself, Pretty Baby.

(Aside: George Thorogood must be singing about someone else here, 'cause seriously, I don't think he's got the goods to make royalty deflate and chicks everywhere show him their tits and lose all their self-esteem. Maybe it's just me.)

Hooray for Boobies

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Thursday, 12 June 2008

Bloodhound Gang will fade into the annuls of musical history without my ever bothering to listen to one of their songs in its entirety. But the title of their 1999 album, Hooray for Boobies, however, will live on forever as one of the titles I like best. I mean, who can argue? Funbags, tits, bazoogas, boozies, mammaries, breasts are pretty cool inventions. I really admire the form and function of a pair of women's breasts aside from any sexual overtones because really, they just look good, dontchareckon?

But when you think about it deeper, though - when you isolate boobies and see them as these two jutty things hanging out the front of women's bodies just above their ribs, well, it's kinda weird, isn't it? What is it that sends men slathering over bags of fat? It's a mystery. And of course, there is a definite type of knocker that gets slathered over. The more stylised, pert and impossibly round and completely matching the better. Maybe Freud was right, and it's all about infantile notions of feeding at the funbag, but tits definitely have a kind of comfortable feel about them. Even when they're your own. Sometimes I cup mine, just to check they're still there. It's like a Linus blanket, only portable. I try to desist in public.

I was dismayed when I first developed breasts. I was about 10, or 11, I guess. Imagine if you suddenly sprouted growths out the side of your arm. All the things you did before are suddenly more cumbersome because you have to factor in these appendages developing in your body. Those first months of documentary evidence that my childhood was over forever were painful (oh, how embarrassing when people actually said something). But then I started getting the hang of it. You get used to anything after a while and anyway, it didn't take long for them to feel at home, like they belonged. Indeed, I became quite enamoured. These fine specimens were an unavoidable indicator that I was, at least physically, a woman.

When I was younger I used to gross out at those photos or videos of tribal women with those impossibly long thin breasts. I guess it's just what you're used to, huh? I have grown up in a century where almost every woman I know has reasonably roundish breasts, which naturally sag as she ages, but not anything resembling those. Or at least, if she does, she hides it because it is totally culturally unfathomable to have those types of breasts. So she hides them in a bra (and by the way, it's an urban myth that bras were invented by Otto Titzling. They've been around in some shape or form for all of recorded history, but the bra as we know it was actually invented by a woman, as far as I could tell in my very short 10 minutes of research conducted for this post. It's also interesting to note that in the US, the first patent was brought by a woman who needed something to wear under her evening dress. Too cumbersome was the corset that had been in vogue ever since the Frenchwoman Catherine de M├ędicis, wife of King Henri II, had introduced it into court in the 1550s and caused women to pass out for the next 350 years (http://inventors.about.com/od/bstartinventions/a/brassiere.htm). Wow. With bitches like that, who needs men enforcing the patriarchy?

When I think about those tribal women now, I think how cool it would be to be part of a culture that lets your body age naturally without feeling ashamed for somehow doing something cosmically wrong. And yet, despite myself, even though a lot of what is considered attractive is culturally determined, I still can't help but be slightly repulsed. I can't help it. I'm the product of my culture. The culture of the bra, right?

And yet I read this, from our friend Wikipedia:

"There is no medical reason to wear a bra... The decision is yours, based on your own personal comfort and aesthetics. And even though, as little girls, we were told that bras save us from hanging breasts,... whether you have always worn a bra or always gone bra-less, age and breastfeeding will naturally cause your breasts to sag." Dr. Niels Lauersen[34]

"Breasts were fine before the invention of the brassiere ... similar to the myth that women supposedly need corsets to support their stomach muscles... wearing a bra... has no medical necessity whatsoever... Except for the women who find bras especially comfortable or uncomfortable, the decision to wear or not wear one is purely aesthetic — or emotional... If you don't enjoy it, and job or social pressures don't force you into it, don't bother... A mistaken popular belief maintains that wearing a bra strengthens your breasts and prevents their eventual sagging. But you sag because of the proportion of fat and tissue in your breasts, and no bra changes that... If you don't like wearing a bra, don't wear one." Dr Susan Love[35]

Of course, I'm not gonna stop wearing a bra any time soon, but often the first thing I do when I get home is rip it off (easily accomplished single-handedly and able to be removed from under a t-shirt, no sweat). But maybe tomorrow I should just not bother? Get around the middle of the city with my clothed baps flying free. I'm tempted, but I would probably be hauled into the office for being unprofessional. It's an overtly sexual thing to get around with your baps free.

Which is all terribly ironic, considering how completely oversexualised our culture is. Just not in any way that's natural.

So whip the bra off, girls. They're going down anyway :)


Snickerdoodles

8 comments

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

I feel a bit ill from the raw biscuit dough I've just been eating. For my first writing challenge, suggested by Kent, to write about the snickerdoodle biscuit* (snickerdoodle doo!), I decided that writing about them was difficult when I had never had one. Write what you know, many writing books suggest, and while it is true that I know what biscuits in general taste like, I wanted to know what Snickerdoodles in particular tasted like. That whole write what you know thing - well, if you only wrote what you knew, how dull would our fiction be? It would all be about washing socks and cleaning the grouting of the shower and stuff. What, you say? I should get out more? Yea, I should and I shall. I also shall clean the grouting of the shower before I do. And speaking of fiction, I'm gearing up to write some again. It's been a long and lonely 13 months since I last wrote any. My art therapy definitely seems to be working :)

Anyway. I did doth digress. According to the only place we glean our information from these days, Wikipedia, here are a few bits and pieces about our humble Snickerdoodle:

The origin of the name “Snyckerdoodle” has given rise to many theories but few facts. The Joy of Cooking claims that snickerdoodles are probably German in origin, and that the name is a corruption of the German word for "snail dumpling" (Schneckennudeln, or cinnamon-dusted sweet rolls).[citation needed] Similarly, one author states that “the word `snicker' may have come from a Dutch word `snekrad,' or the German word `Schnecke,` both describing a snail-like shape.”[1] However, another author believes the name came from a New England tradition of fanciful, whimsical cookie names,[2] and yet another cites a series of tall tales around a hero named Snickerdoodle from the early 1900s.
Fascinating. Now, I'm not sure which recipe Kent's Mum used to make these biscuits that got him all dribbling out the side of his mouth in anticipation while chowing down on his steamed asparagus, but this is the one I used.

Before I started making the biscuits, I needed to go to the supermarket to get some sugar. When I got back and got started, I realised I didn't have any baking powder. Oh well. Not going back up the shop again. This is ridiculous anyway, baking biscuits at 10.30 at night. So instead of going back up the shop, I did a bit of substitution. That should work, right?

It was difficult rolling the pastry into a ball with my hands. Very messy, but I do love getting my hands dirty. And then rolling them into the cinnamon and sugar mixture to coat them made it a bit easier to form them into some sort of ball shape. The recipe said to keep a 2 inch distance between each biscuit to allow for rising. So I did. Kind of. Give or take an inch or 2.

Popped in the oven. Now, this oven's handle and fascia fell off a few weeks ago, right while I was in the middle of cooking a roast. Nigel, my friendly neighbourhood landlord and fix-it man managed to put it all back together. But that's okay. Shouldn't affect the oven. She's an old beastie, and she's always been about 20 degrees out, but that's okay. The roast I cooked in it a few weeks ago was primo. Temperature calls for 190 degrees? No wuckers. I'll bung it on 210.

Well. Perhaps it was the substituted baking powder. Perhaps the different flour I used. Perhaps the oven. I'm glad, really, that I ate so much biscuit dough. 'Cause I aint gonna be eating any biscuits. Those bastards needed a shot of viagra, 'cause they never quite made it up. Even though, by God, they expanded out sideways.

Sheesh, look how grotty the stovetop is in that photo! And how large my nostrils are in this one! You could hide a family of 4 up there. I wish I'd brushed my hair before I took this photo. I look like I'm developing a comb-over. And I wish I'd cleaned the stove. Apart from that, I'm fine with these photos :) (I can't be too mean to myself, in the hour of my failed snickerdoodling grief). Unfortunately no, my eyes are not that lovely shade of blue, but a somewhat more darker, grottier shade.

So anyway, in summary. Snickerdoodles sure smell nice when they're baking. All that cinnamon. Such a delightful smell (and, I will add, burning a stick of cinnamon along with a handful of cloves in boiling water on the stove is the most sensational of air fresheners). Snickerdoodles also taste nice raw. I can only imagine they would probably taste pretty good cooked, too.

Next time :)

* Biscuit = cookie for you Northerner folks.

Writing Challenge

17 comments

I like having set writing topics. There's something about having an enforced structure which gives you the freedom to go wild within the restriction. It's a cool thing. My 3D writers' group has one going at the moment, all based on a couple of wrongly-sent text messages one of the members got on his daughter's phone.

I keep thinking that I want to write about asparagus, which is really strange, because all I really have to say about asparagus is that (a) it tastes like shit and (b) it tastes like the taste I had in the back of my throat the whole time I had tonisillitis. But hey, who knows where it could go?

So anyway. I'm sick of talking about myself and my own stuff, and uni has finished for the semester (with one essay to go) and so I wanted to pose myself a challenge. Give me something to write about, people. Every single suggestion in the comments to this post, I will use as a blog post topic.

I can't promise they will be any good, and I can't promise they will be very long, but this is the task I set myself. So come on, fire away.

Hear Me Roar

5 comments

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Tess posted a poem several days ago that resonated with me so. I just came across it again, resonating with Lucy as she created some visual journal pieces as inspiration, that I have reproduced here without any permission at all :) Chicks rock.

The Woman in the Ordinary

The woman in the ordinary pudgy downcast girl
is crouching with eyes and muscles clenched.
Round and pebble smooth she effaces herself
under ripples of conversation and debate.
The woman in the block of ivory soap
has massive thighs that neigh,
great breasts that blare and strong arms that trumpet.
The woman of the golden fleece
laughs uproariously from the belly
inside the girl who imitates
a Christmas card virgin with glued hands,
who fishes for herself in others’ eyes,
who stoops and creeps to make herself smaller.
In her bottled up is a woman peppery as curry,
a yam of a woman of butter and brass,
compounded of acid and sweet like a pineapple,
like a handgrenade set to explode,
like goldenrod ready to bloom.

by Marge Piercy

Here's to us chicks rising up on the wings that God gave us, not hampered and restricted by the blerty blerty crap crap poo places we've been constricted into by the past, by rigidity, by tradition and by fear.

Yes, I'm still wearing a bra :)