Sunday, January 22, 2012

Now THAT is a loaded question:

  As pretty much none of you know, there is something called Snowfall Press that is a part of the shop Thad works at. They print books. It's the whole self-publishing thing that is getting bigger and bigger these days. I love going in there occasionally and looking at the extras from the book orders, or books that have been discarded because of some reason or another. Last night when I brought Thad coffee I flipped thru a workbook that looked......strange. It was all about 'self-actualization' whatever that means and how to achieve it. And in this workbook is where I found this gem of a question:

In case you can't read it, it says:
"Why do you suppose there are some who prefer to depict Jesus as white?"

   Nay, not since wasting my time and argumentative energy with an atheist a few weeks ago have I heard such a loaded and ridiculous question. First, I can justly call it a 'loaded' question because it uses words like "some who prefer".  The question of Jesus's race is not a preference. I do not choose on a daily basis to see the Son of God in my head as a white man. In fact, until reading this line it has never occured to me to think of the Son of God in terms of race because I DONT CARE. Because I am not racist it does not matter to me what race He was. 
   But, dear author of this workbook, here is a fact: Jesus was a Palestinian Jew. Jesus is an actual historical figure and he lived in an actual place and time and was born of a real woman in a real part of the world....and she was a Palestinian Jew. She was not Asian, she was not African, she was not Mayan or Indian. She was a Jew. This means that we can say--for a fact, not a preference--that Jesus had white skin. 
  But seriously who cares? In the grand scheme of things, who cares? And what is being inferred by the author asking this question that some of us would "prefer" to think Jesus was white? I don't have to think he was white, I take no comfort in the fact that he was white, it doesn't make me have warm fuzzy feelings towards him because he wasn't asian or wasn't African or wasn't whatever else we are being encouraged to imagine him as. This is ridiculous. 
   This is like asking us, why do some people prefer to think of Obama as black? Oh well that's a loaded question, too, but the answer is: if he wasn't black he wouldn't've been elected.  Another easy answer: No one wants to acknowledge that his mother is white. Sorry I just opened a pandora's box of a different topic so let me go somewhere else....
   Why do some people prefer to think of Da Vinci as white? Easy answer: Because he was. Because we know where he was born in history, we know what region he came from, we know that everyone else living in the same time and place as he was that was educated and trained as he was was also white. This is how we know, and it is not an issue of dispute.

  So why all the hubbub about Jesus being white? What's wrong with being white? And why does it matter? Jesus is not known for being The Great White Man--He is known for being the Son of God, the center of Christianity, for being the most radical prophet the world has ever seen, and for dying on a cross. Who finds it necessary to bring the color of his skin into it? 
   My own personal opinion on the answer to that question is that the only people who are concerned with the color of Jesus's skin are the people who are obsessed with the color of their own skin.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Merit of Dislike and the Mind Terrorists Down the Way

    Today a woman took a sweaty credit card from out of her bra and handed it to me. I was incredibly repulsed and simulteanously impressed with myself for only pausing for a moment before taking it, and for holding back my dry heave until I could hand her card back to her and walk away (straight to the handwashing sink, by the way). Customer service does things to you; it makes you do things you wouldn't normally do. Never, ever in any other situation would I accept ANYTHING that was handed to me from out of the warmth of a sweaty brazierre. I mean come on, lady. I would never do that to someone. Hey, touch this, I pulled it out of my underwear!! I mean....seriously?
  Someone rhetorically asked me once, "You don't like anything do you?" Of course this comment thinly veiled as a question was in defence of something awful that they had produced that I had the audacity to tell them the truth about, but anyhow, this exchange this morning made me think that obviously there are some things that are absolutely okay to despise. The Bible gives us many examples of things to despise (Sin, vain thoughts, lies, 'false ways', etc.). Despising something in and of itself is not bad, but the object being despised determines the validity of the dislike. I am in no way attempting to equate the exchange between the sweaty credit card and I this morning with Biblical commands to despise certain things, but mostly I want to comment on the fact that I feel the culture I live in demands a false cheerfulness and a blindness towards sin, despair, and the reality of the fallen world. I feel like the message I get all the time is Just be happy with it! Don't let it phase you! Don't let anything get you down!
  Isn't there a time to be a sad? A time to be "phased"? Shouldn't we allow ourselves to step back from time to time and evaluate? And isn't it the reality of a fallen world that at times upon evaluation we will absolutely find things that will get us down? Isn't part of being a joyful person knowing and dealing with sadness and sorrow appropriately?
   Before you are tempted to think I'm a 22 year old miserable old bat, I find life joyful. And also, I'm almost 23 anyway. I find joy in sadness, but more than anything I find joy in truth. Because the truth is, if my joy were dependent on anything in this world, I wouldn't have any. The one true and Living God is the only source of true joy that there is. All else is temporary, vain 'happiness' that will only crumble over time.
   So anyway all of this is why I feel not in the least bit slighted when I look around this world at times and have nothing to say but Ew. Sometimes it is freaking ew. Sometimes a lady will hand me her sweaty credit card from her sweaty bra and sometimes it will really boggle my mind. Sometimes I will be sad and sometimes I will let things phase me. But personally I think that's just life. I don't care to hear anymore "oh she's so negative" commentary, not that I have heard anything like that in awhile but it could just be that my detractors have given up because I don't listen to them anyway.

   So anywho that brings me to the mind-terroristy snowbirds that are currently occupying the condo at the end of our row. Their constant presence on their patio practically quarantines me at home. At first, and this can be taken as a sign of optimism, I thought they were just sweet, old mid-westerners that came here for 5 months out of the year to get out of the snow and that they would just innocently soak up the sun and keep to their corner of the block but oh no. Oh no, no, no. There are two major misunderstandings between us and them. The first is that A) They are old and retired and haven't been busy in decades. We are young and work a lot, which means that when I am leaving my house it's not because I am out for my third afternoon stroll. It means I am going somewhere, it means I have somewhere to be and NO I did not leave my house twenty minutes early to make time to talk to you about the clouds and how cute your dog is. B) They believe that not stopping to talk whilst passing them on the sidewalk is rude. I know this because the man told me, "Your neighbors seem rude, they never stop and talk when they pass by." (Insert feeling extremely awkward here.)
  So one day, the one and only day that week that I was coming home and truly didn't have anywhere to be for awhile, I thought....shucks I'll just be neighborly for a minute and maybe it will be enough to satisfy their need to hear their own voices talk to me.
 Oh no. No, no, no. 20 minutes into this conversation of nothing I'm sweating. It's 64 degrees out but I'm carrying a bag with a mac, an ipad, a kindle, and an 800 page textbook. None of the contents of my bag were things I was willing to set on the ground and I'm standing in the sun. So I begin to attempt to wrap the conversation up. If you know me, you know I am not shy about these things. I'm backing away. Slowly. Talking about the things I need to go do. And somehow all of these indicators of my attempt to extract myself from the situation are not registering with these mid-western types. I literally did not walk in my door for another 25 miserable minutes, at which point I both needed a shower and a glass of wine.
  That one encounter was enough to put the fear of Illinois in me. They want us to come over and play cards. They want me to read this book they just read. They want me to tell them where I'm going everytime I'm coming or going. It's to the point where I literally peek out my front door and down the way to see if they are there or not so I can brace myself to pretend I'm running or late or to stage another fake phone call. It is all becoming so exhausting--just coming and going--that yesterday I turned right out of my front door instead of left and walked around several buildings and five minutes out of my way just to avoid walking by them. And by the time I got to my car, which felt like a quick trip to Mordor later, they were standing in the parking lot with their dog. Who does that!!!!
  I think I wouldn't struggle so much if he hadn't said it....if he didn't have to tell me how rude he thinks people are that just walk by. And I know this is ridiculous. I know that just going happily on my way is not rude and that his opinion should have absolutely no bearing on my comings and goings but it's like Martin said at the end of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: "The fear of offending is stronger than the fear of pain", or in my case, the pain of walking an extra mile to my car.
  Dear Illinois, please clear out the snow quickly.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

When you have a grandma who throws nothing away,

you get to come upon these gems. I had the privelege of going through a few boxes of stuff she had kept over the years sometime in November. I laughed, I cried, I held the tshirt my dad played little league in that was so small it'd probably fit on my two year old nephew. Here are a few of my favorite gems:

My dad, being king of....the Hoover dam? I'm not sure. But check out those sweet kicks.

Pops again...he still makes this face when he's only mildly amused by something. So, typically, when I'm speaking.

UM?!?!?! HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A CUTER CHILD?!?!?! I love this picture so much I can't stand it. My dad's always been my hero, but just knowing that he was rockin' the straw hat, suspenders, and plaid since he learned how to walk adds to the amazingness.

Ah, my grandmother. Before she was Betty White and still Betty Summers. I spent several years sitting at the piano with her, and I'll throw on the CD I have of her playing her favorite hymns when I start to miss her something fierce that I'm tempted to wallow. Man that lady could play a piano!

My grandparents on their wedding day. PS Grandpa, you're sure a handsome devil!

The big bro and I. There's no date on it & I cant figure out where we were but that sure is a fancy orange sheet on that couch!

Anyhow I'm still unearthing some of the pictures I filched from grandma's boxes and boxes of stuff so there will probably be more to come.

Friday, January 6, 2012

"Back to School" or "The D-Bag With The Dragon Tattoo"

   I picked my scholastic endeavors back up today with gusto. I mean, I wore my reading glasses for heaven's sake. (I would cite the fact that I was 45 minutes early to class as a display of excitement, but everyone knows I'm 45 minutes early to everything.) I seriously felt like it was my first day of kindergarten, I was so jazzed.
   I worked for a little bit this morning, and it was the first shift at 24th St. and Baseline that I actually felt like I was working at the highest volume store this side of the I-60. I literally did nothing but bust my butt making drinks for 5 solid hours. They never stopped. It was relentless. It was awesome. When I got home I immediately sat down and passed out. Thirty minutes later I bolted upright and practically jumped in my car from my second story window. Bat out of hell.
   Of course I had a trenta iced tea with me, so the first order of business for me when I got on campus was finding a bathroom. I found them in a corner of the Language and Lit building and walked into one of the two that wasn't occupied. What met me when I walked into that bathroom immediately sent a flood of adrenaline through my body because I literally had walked into a scene from a horror movie. The only thing missing was a dead body, although I can't say for certain that there weren't bits of one. I just dry heaved thinking about it. I was sent into fight or flight mode immediately. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I actually looked for a demon hiding in the corner of the ceiling, because that is the only possible creature that could inhabit that space. It took me probably 15 seconds to extract myself from the situation. Never, in my entire life, not even on road trips or somewhere in the middle of the desert in Texas or next door to Leatherface have I encountered such an atrocity of a bathroom.
   There was a bathroom next to this one that was occupied. I stood in the hallway between the two of them hoping that maybe--just maybe--this other one had not also been destroyed by Satan's minions. I had nowhere else to go. Being late to class was not an option. So I stood, and hoped, and waited. Just then, one of those creatures from Avatar walked around the corner and headed for The Devil's Bathroom. Okay, not really, she wasn't an alien but she was taller than Thad, barely seemed capable of controlling her incredibly long and spindly legs, and probably weighed 95lbs. I immediately felt bad for her (knowing that she could not ward off the terrors of the bathroom like I could) so I warned her. I told her not to go in there. I must've looked something desperate, or either extremely serious (possibly disturbed), because she said she'd take my word for it and she waited in the hall with me.
   After a few minutes we both were curious about the bathroom that was occupied. I mean, who hangs out in a bathroom for that long? So Avatar knocked on the door and asked if anyone was in there. Just then, we heard the absolute loudest snorting noise I've ever heard in my life. Like, Hunter S. Thompson would've been proud type loud. And then we heard banging, and then someone said Just a minute! A few minutes (and I'm assuming a few lines) later, a girl with bright pink hair and bloodshot eyes walks out. Wiping her nose. How subtle. I had a moment where I thought, I bet this is the kind of girl I end up having to sit next to in class.
   Guess who sat down next to me in class five minutes later? Pink hair, white nostrils and all?
   The highlight of my experience today was my professor. I've yet to have an english teacher that I have not absolutely adored. Maybe it's cause I see me in them sometimes. For example, some of my favorite nuggets from his dialogue today: "I was going to do X but then I did something else instead" or "A day without caffeine is wasted" or "I had a student complain about me one time and I didn't care" or "If you write me an email and don't use punctuation I will delete it" or "I don't listen to voicemails, so if you leave me one, I will never ever hear it and I will deny even having that option on my phone."
   So basically I'm super stoked for this class in particular and I know it will be my absolute favorite, despite that pink hair white nostrils thinks she is a literary GENIUS, and whose best answer for Professor Farmer's question "What do you think this story is about?" resulted in her shouting "Penises!" I will just continue to ignore that that is even happening and be sure to sit elsewhere on Monday. (By the way, the story was about a school shooting.)
   The LL building is on University and College. So while I was standing at the light, ironically enough next to Avatar again, I was struggling breathing because I had to go to the bathroom so badly. I was pulling a Jason Bourne weighing where all the nearest bathrooms may or may not be and which would be the shortest distance away. Obviously I skipped the bathrooms in the LL because I will never subject myself to such a blight on humanity again. And that's when it happened. A d-bag with a dragon tattoo on his calf long-boarded his way, without even the slightest hesitation, right into Avatar.
   Remember how I told you that Avatar is built similarly to a baby giraffe? The poor thing literally went flying into the road. I mean, on her hands and knees in the middle of University Ave. D-Bag with the dragon tattoo turned around and yelled sorry but KEPT ROLLING ON HIS RUDE WAY, whilst I stepped into the road, grabbed her by the bicep--or, rather, her humerus bone--and picked her up. The poor thing was practically hysterical and she had cuts all over her hands and her tights were torn at one knee. I offered her some antibacterial lotion for her hands (because that's what I'd do!) but she declined, because it "would hurt." I thought about telling her that infections that lead to your hands being chopped off hurt even more but it was right then that I realized I was literally going to pee on campus my first day at school if I did not locate the nearest restroom in the next ten seconds so I told her I was terribly sorry about the jerk with the dragon tattoo and bolted.
   Across the street from where all this went down there are like, a million fast food places. This was where I planned on finding relief. To my dismay, the first one I went into didn't have a bathroom. And....neither did the second. Or third. At this point, just the sound of the ice moving around in my cup was making me grind my teeth with anxiety. I saw a building next to the parking garage I was parked in that looked snazzy and it looked like I had absolutely no business going in there and I was sure that at this point in my day I looked half crazed, but I went in anyway.  And wouldn't you know it? The bathroom I walked into was like an oasis. It was so clean, and so pristine, and so dang fancy you could eat in there and not even feel like a vagabond. The fake bricks in one of the walls were made of this opaline glass that made me forget how bad my stomach hurt for a second. The sink lit up from underneath and the soap smelled like lavender. Once I was relieved, and my blood pressure went back to normal and my eyes quit bulging out of my head it hit me that this bathroom is like, 100 yards away from the bathroom in the LL that should be bulldozed. Why do the fancy pants students in this building get to use 5 star bathrooms while the students in the LL are reduced to a bathroom unfit for rats? I think I'm going to petition for this injustice to be corrected.
   Well that was my first day at ASU. Now I'm going to enjoy all the clean sights and smells of my bathrooms at home and watch the Swedish version of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo!