Thursday, March 31, 2005

BullShit and Discordia: Not the Same Thing

Due to some difficulties related to the fact that I initially met with him during his medical program -- nothing catastrophic, don't worry, but we're in Nixonian CYA territory here -- CwMM2 will not appear here as promised in the immediate future.

I repeat that this is not catastrophic. MM is not getting kicked out of med school or anything even close. This is all a result of a stupid rumor, unrelated to the information on the blog, but I'm not going to risk endangering his future prospects or exposing him to any further possibility of censure until the matter has been handled, and at this point, we're not sure how long that is. (Since none of the parties involved, to my knowledge, know of this outlet's existence, I may be being more cautious than is warranted, but at this point, having unwittingly been party to a possible compromise in his life, it would be entirely irresponsible of me to discuss anything related to it here until there's some kind of resolution.)

Once any fallout that may occur (and even that is not certain at this point, and the worst-case scenario isn't even close to catastrophic where his interests are concerned) has occured, the situation is resolved, and he is no longer in any way affiliated with the physician who introduced us, I will begin posting CwMMs again. I am still keeping notes.

Any ranting I feel tempted to do about the inherent unfairness of this situation would require giving more detail than I can. Just suffice it to say that I am righteously indignant at the pea-sized brains that surround the issue, that I am still going to maintain a dialogue with MM (who went out of his way to assure me that he didn't blame me for what has occured), and that the benefits of that dialogue will be shared when the possibility that they could do harm has passed. I thought about deleting or locking the original post, but at this point, given how nonindicative it is, doing that would be an act of black magic, and I won't. According to him, the doctor in question will probably never mention it to me, so all I'm doing is praying about it. But the God I believe in on my good days won't let this young man be punished for trying to increase the Light in the world, not if I have anything to say about it.

Bloggerbot is also down, but I have edited the tattoo photos and they'll be up as soon as I can get access to the Hello server.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A Long Long Way From My Home

This happens a lot on Wednesdays.

I am far from home and couldn't get Blogger to let me do anything but post pics before I left. I will be returning at some point tonight, but will probably have company. Enjoy the kitty pics. Be good to yourselves.

When I return, CwMM2 and a Tarot reading by the Artist about the month of April, all for you. Because I love ya.

Go tell the kitties how pretty they are.

eta: Also coming pics, of me, the Artist, and Bass Playing Junkie, who made me spend about 45 minutes on the phone Monday night, transliterating Greek characters to the Artist ("Lambda, that's just L, right?" "No, lower case lambda. Draw an X and erase the upper right-hand quadrant...fuck, why didn't you take physics?" "Because I suck at math and in high school I didn't know how to read English, that's why!" And so forth. The Greek looks awesome though; BPJ was going to do it in Latin, but I talked him into the Greek and it looks much better.)

If you are lucky and the gods are kind, there will also be pics of mine and the Artists' matching pirate tattoos, that we got when we formed the Terrestrial Navy. Our tattoo guy came up with an idea for the Artist's Commodore sigil last night that, if it happens, will be pimper than Fiddy.

also eta: The Artist and I are feeding the group tonight, the usual arrangement where I buy food and he cooks it because he's better at it.

While we were at the Wal-Mart (my archnemesis, but only grocery store anywhere nearby), we went through the U-Scan line. A typically self-centered and trashy Wal-Mart denizen went up to a U-Scan lane with a crashed system, started pounding on it, then screamed at the clerk, "Why don't you get over here and fucking fix this?", then stormed out. (Because Wal-Mart cashiers are also IT people, who just choose to get paid shit for taking shit from people like her.)

The Artist left me with the groceries, stormed out into the parking lot right after her, and (in front of her five rugrats and white-trash husband) informed her that she is not, indeed, the only person on the planet, and that the people who work in the store don't make $5.15 an hour to listen to her scream at them and watch her bang on their machinery.

She just looked baffled for a minute, then FOLLOWED HIM BACK IN to give him the finger and yell "Bite me!" from so far off that he had to rely on my lip-reading skillz to tell him what she said.

He followed her back out again (grinning like a fool), said, "Excuse me?", and once he had her attention, traced a pentacle in the air, threw it at her, and (with rugrats goggling at him like he was the Antichrist), came back in the Wal-Mart grinning like a fool, while the cashier and the server in line in front of us (who was apologizing profusely because she had so many $1s to feed into the scanner) told him how awesome he was.

This is why I love the Artist. This is why he's my boy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The kitten taken by surprise -- she thought I was napping. (Heh.)

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The Eldest Kitty, as I have mentioned before, does not exactly enjoy the experience of being photographed.

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I keep trying to catch the kitten doing her full body extension from the chair to the top of the window, but she tricks me every time. She also likes to pull the privacy cling off the window, because she and Frank Lloyd Wright have beef.

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This was the only picture I could get of the reclusive Middle Kitty (he knows what the little gray beeping box is now, clever boy) -- he's climbing down from my bedside table, because he didn't want evidence that he'd been crawling around on the altar.

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In this shot, the Eldest Kitty is getting ready to pounce on the Kitten from behind, but I couldn't get that into the shot.

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Monday, March 28, 2005

Go To Bed!

Hell no!

I really should be in bed, but I'M NOT TIRED.
I should not work until 11:30 and think that I will go straight to bed when I get home so I can be well-rested for my 8 AM shift. As Laurie Notaro reminds us, the Ambitious You doesn't really exist when it comes to bedtime and getting up time.

CwMM coming soon. Lovies. And thanks for telling me how beautiful my babies are. If you haven't seen their loveliness below, go look, and tell me so. (The kitties are even bigger famewhores than I am.)

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Harm Me With Harmony

"Entropy, how can I explain it?
I'll take it brain by brain and have you all jumpin' sayin' it
Let's just say that it's a measure of disorder
In a system that is closed -- like with a border
It's sort of like a measurement of randomness
Proposed in 1850 by a German -- but I digress
What the fuck is entropy? I hear the people still exclaiming
It seems I'll have to start the explaining....
Order from disorder is a scientific rarity
Allow me to explain it with a little bit more clarity
Did I say rarity? I meant possibility
But in a closed system there will always be more entropy
That's entropy and I hope you're all down with it
If you are here's your membership.....

Who's down with entropy? MC Stephen Hawking, and every last homie, of course.


I can't get the stupid bastard VCR to display because I hate machines and they hate me back, and I have lunch with MM and don't want to get dressed. I don't have to, at the moment, but I still am not looking forward to the getting out of the house process.

Also I am nervous about where we are going to eat because all I know about Muslim eating habits is that it's not politic to take them to places that serve pulled-pork barbecue. Which is every third good place to eat in NashVegas. To top it all off, I have hives on the back of my right hand. For no reason that easily occurs to me.


The Artist called me from a field party last night, and told me to call and wake him if I hadn't heard from him. I did, and I think the phone's out of battery. So I hope he got to work OK, since he wasn't driving.

Bass Playing Buddy and Lady Alambil are the only peers I have going to church on Easter. Considering where I was this time ten years ago, that's amusing.


I have nothing else to say, but, for your of my cats not giving a damn.

I tried to coax the fat orange Eldest Cat into a spot suitable for photographing, but here's a grainy image of her in her natural habitat, curled up with a paper grocery bag in the hall.

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Our MK is a teenager now, which means he spends a lot of time hanging out in the bathroom and rolling his eyes. Bathroom counter objects from left to right: exfoliant, Pyrex "Forest Fancies" bowl, deodorant, baby powder, and a pair of scissors. That might just make me a serial killer.

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The older cats have abandoned the playground, so the kitten has taken over this Easter -- that's normally the spot the two heavyweight champs battle over, playing this endless game of "King of the Mountain/Queen on A Pedestal" that is both cute and annoying, as I know that one day they are going to break the table doing it.

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My kitten is, indeed, Rasputin.

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Saturday, March 26, 2005

Go, Go, Go, Go

Sometimes, nothing but 50 Cent will do. Especially when you feel like cappin' folks and slappin' hos. And if you watch how I move, you just might mistake me for a playa or pimp. If you're blind.


The verdict is in. I'm back on iron rations. I am not taking this well or with dignity.

But you should love it way more than you hate it..Nigga, you mad?


Now that you ask, Fiddy, yes, I am. Allow me to elucidate, my friend:

Little man who called me today,

I understand that it probably sucks to be 73, deaf, on Social Security, and a coin collector forced to purchase from my network.

That said, there is no excuse for you. Your purchase records for the past 6 months are going to be in your mailbox on Monday, because like I told you, they were mailed on Thursday, but you wasted 45 minutes of the best money-making time I would have had all day by berating me because I couldn't review every order you'd placed since January all at once, or speak without the accent that is, um, a part of my speech. The fact that not a single one of those payments you had your little knickers in a twist about were coming up any sooner than three weeks from now made me so angry in retrospect that you are quite lucky that I am not Bill Cosby in Ghost Dad, because this pacifist wanted to jump through the phone and choke the shit out of you.

I would tell you to fuck off and die, but you will, without my assistance. In the meantime, I just wanted to tell you that you're an asshole, and I hope they flag you for ER soon so I never have to speak to you again.

Also, a "thank-you" after that length of time can be perfunctory, but is absolutely required in a civilized society, which you apparently do not inhabit. Remember Robert Heinlein's suggestion of making bad manners a capital offence? You're the fucking poster child, old man.

No love,
your operator


TV Time ruled, of course. I had forgotten last night WAS TV Time. Topic: God is A Diva. Much hilarity was had, and yours truly was referred to as one of the TVT "Legends" for the first time. Also, Hawkeye. I heart Hawkeye. And Miss TV Time, all fucked up, threatening to kill a bitch who thought she'd try and take the title. (After last year when Miss TVT refused to give up her crown, the rules were changed so that she is Queen for Life unless someone can take her crown in a fight. And I know Miss TVT, and she fights dirty.)

You know you are awesome when you can IM your local radio station to call your phone because you've lost it in your apartment, and they not only will, without question, but will do so three times, which is how long it takes to find the phone, and leave funny messages on your voice mail every time.


Lunchtime tomorrow will be a CwMM, since neither of us have religious obligations tomorrow: transcript to follow, but probably not until Monday at the very earliest because I'm working swing shift, then first shift, and I will not be in any position to post when I get home tomorrow night.


Lovies to all of you who told my kitties how beautiful they are. And, happy Easter, if you're into that.

Quote from the WinAmp:

"Now I stretch your neck out and play it like the banjo." Damn right.

Friday, March 25, 2005


That is the sound on this, the night of the full moon.

I do not know. I am not sure. But it is looking fairly certain that the Powers that Be want me to extend my celibacy. For another quarter-year.

I try not to be a bad diviner. I try to read even my own cards honestly. But I reviewed a couple of spreads done at the same time as the main one, and it looks to me like I misjudged, intentionally or not, the right date, spiritually, to release the binding I placed upon myself.

Basically, I am being called upon to do a year declared, instead of backdating it to the having of the sex, as before.

This may seem weird, since really nothing is compelling me. But at the same time, all the things I believe in ARE compelling me, and if I'm not responsible enough to take what I'm being told as truth, then I just ought to hang up my cards and my coins and go back to Sunday school.

And this really sucks. Because I love sex, and I want sex, and that's why I have to keep not having sex, because I'm not ready to behave myself responsibly in a spiritual fashion.

Gently falling raindrop, we've moved from "Damn you" to "No, FUCK YOU!" complete with Judd Nelson impersonation. And denim jacket with cut off sleeves.

Off to do MORE divinations, to see if I have any wiggle room. Chances are I don't, but best to be thorough. Is this how The Ren Reb feels when it's time for Pesach?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be A Crazy Cat Lady

This doesn't even begin to express how gorgeous the sunsets are through the woods behind the Basement Den, particularly the one today when I went out to talk to the Ostara plants...

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These are my pitiful little Ostara daffodils, which got ripped up pretty bad by the storm the other night. St. Jude is hanging out in the background trying to make sure they live.

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This is the kitten when she thinks it's just her and the mousie DSH got her for Decemberween.

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This is the kitten, once she realized she was a victim of the Mom Paparazzi. Can you tell she's the instigator of the family?

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Black and white MK...still can't figure out why the flash has stopped working on the tiny machine, but we soldier on.

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Fnord Fnord Fuck -- Photo Essay

Tonight was GOING to be part II of my Why I Believe What I Believe & Why It Makes Me Sad series.

Of course, today I was going to do freelance work too, and instead the tape had been eaten when the old VCR crapped out, and it was too late for me to drive downtown and get another copy, because my contact was out of the office after 10. So instead I went to the Chinese buffet with Korea Army Buddy and his wife, aka Anoretic Homie, since he just got home and they are setting up housekeeping at base not too far away.

Then I slept off the Chinese food and went to group, where, since 2/7 of the people couldn't make it for the third week running (because March sucks), we didn't do anything rules-related and instead just cast a circle, did some minor work, did some post-work divinations, and then ate pizza and looked at CDHSarah's old HS yearbook.

CDHSarah did tell me I'd done the best divination she'd ever seen me do when the subject was not someone with whom I was intimately familiar, and that made me feel really good. Also, I lent my Kali that I got and lost, and my St. Francis came back. But I left my Legba box at CDHSarah's, so I feel kind of bereft.

Being in a good and post-successful-divinatory mood, I thought I'd review my notes from conversations with Lady A and write this thing. Then I sat down and started trying to review my notes, and realized that the PSD mood was quickly evaporating in the face of all the sense and sensibility I was trying to throw at it.

Then I remembered that I bought extra batteries, so I could check to see if my multifunction machine was still working, because one of its functions is a digital camera. PROJECT!

After some fucking around, downloading, and swearing, I have faux psychedelic, kind-of-what-they-look-like-if-they-were-different-colored pictures of the Elder and Middle Kitty. The Kitten, being entirely black and needlessly difficult, has not deigned to be anywhere that will allow her to be even poorly photographed, and when I try to chase her into the bathroom where the light is best, she just runs into the closet in the room where there is no light at all, and does the Kitten equivalent of sticking her fingers in her ears and saying "Neener."

Unfortunately, I am now tired and not about to start the piece I was going to write. Apparently some of you are still grokking the last nonsense, so maybe it's for the best.

Pictures of the cats. Enjoy. And leave me a comment telling me how beautiful they are, even in the wrong colors. Or else.

This is what the Elder Kitty would look like if real acid were like acid is in the movies. She is actually orange.

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This is what the Middle Kitty looks like, when your flash doesn't work for shit and neither do the filters on your freeware. He's actually dark gray.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Fnord Fnord Fnord: What I Believe & Why It Sometimes Makes Me Depressed, Part I

I suppose I'm a Discordian, because every time someone asks me what my religion is, I give a different answer. Fnord?

Recently I've been reading all kinds of articles -- this month's BUST, last month's Bitch -- written by women of faith defending their faith. It's odd to be a person of random faith and realize how defensive even the people on your side sometimes make it. (And that's not even to bring up what Conversations with my Muslim taught me, and I have to find time to hook up with MM again.)

Some of the answers I've given recently (and I get asked this question sometimes more than most people because of the nature of my work and my physical appearance): "Ganesh/Legba/Mary/Eris is my patron/ness." "I guess I'm a pagan, sort of." "I would have been a Rastafarian, except that I won't accept the divinity of Haile Selassie. "My dad says I'm a heathen." "By that definition, I consider myself a witch." "I've been a Reverend in the Church of Universal Life for a few years now.." "Pacifist." "Pantheistic solipsist."

All of the above are true, but the last one is the one I give most often, because its relative complication in the age of the fifteen minute attention span means that people usually just nod wisely and say something along the lines of "I've heard of that..." (They haven't, unless they're Robert Heinlein fans; an ex and I once decided that the description given by the creator of the conjunction in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress was the closest thing to our real life philosophy we'd ever read in plain language.) Only people who like to know things for real usually ask me to explain.

But when little old ladies ask me if I "have faith" (again, my job), I can always answer them confidently, "Yes, ma'am, I do." And when I see exit polls counting votes for Bush as votes for "moral values", I go, "Hey! What about all us not-easily-labeled cranky freethinkers? Didn't we start this country?"

Even the best Discordian needs a community of chaotic folks (that's ch/good and ch/neut for the D&D geeks), and mine meets Wednesday nights in the front room of a tiny urban household (kind of like the early Christians). We're in the process of rethinking our goals, but we serve -- as all spiritual communities do -- as a repository of "people like us" in a world that is often not "like us" -- in the sense of kind, good, or understanding. There are seven of us. There are five hundred people in my mother's church, where I was raised and baptized, and I see "W" stickers every time I visit there. But I notice the same seeds of intolerance among those I consider "my people" that I once condemned in hers.

Maybe hierarchical thinking is simply ingrained too deeply in the human culture, but I see us -- in our liberal wrath, in our sometimes-deserved bemoaning of the rights of people like us (not usually in working on magic and spiritual things time, but in social time) descend into sniping and bitterness and demonization of the other side. I find myself often in the position of what, for lack of a better term, I must call "devil's advocate" -- the one who says, "Guys, guys -- we can't blame the fact that the entire world is fucked up on Christians, we have to blame it on stupid people." I name-check the Quakers and the Ba'hai more often than I think I should have to when the negativity about organized religion in general gets too high. I know too many moral people of faith who thrive off order and companionship in their spiritual path to say that the moral and ethical people of random or no faith I know are better off, more intelligent, or more enlightened on the whole. While I still delight in telling people with eighties-hysteria about Satanism that the Eleven Satanic Laws of the Earth contain a prohibition against harming little children, I am often saddened to have to remind people I consider to be relatively sensitive and tolerant that two thousand years ago pagans were slaughtering Christians for sport.

I often entertain Manichaean morbidities -- the Manichaeans being a Gnostic offshoot, kicked out of Christianity for believing that evil, not good, created the world. But when my faith is not shaken, I believe that the entire universe was created of God. that the strings we can't see that Steve Hawking mathematically proved make the quanta spin and the atoms stick together and my cat start yowling at nothing at 5:30 in the morning on my day off are there and vibrating in a pattern most of us will never come close to comprehending because they are the only complete things -- the only things with total God-awareness, the only things that are not themselves made up of universes of tiner things. I often state that I believe in the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Sometimes, I just go Discordian and don't bother to explain fnord. That's why there may or may not be a Part II, if I decide to try to set down the explanations in writing. They've always come out of dialogue before.

That said, if to my cells my body is a universe, then I am a cell in the body of my world. And I know cancer when I see it, and I see cancer -- cancer in the government, cancer in the corporate culture, cancer in the gimme-gimme-me-mes and the oh-poor-me-what-can-I-dos. (I am both, sometimes, so this is on me, too.)

If I don't love my world, and wish to preserve it -- if I don't spread more good chaos in my space -- then I am cancer, too. One wandering cell of malevolent intent can do a body a whole hell of a lot of damage, and it's not damage I'm out for. Remember, I'm a pacifist. My values are moral values: do what's good for other people and not just yourself. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, even when you know they probably won't. Do not harm little children. God is love.

Jesus made water out of wine? Not hard if you can talk to atoms, and I'm sure he could -- some people think Jesus was the fifth Buddha, and I've got no evidence to the contrary. Jesus wants you to kill doctors? Um, Jesus hung out with a doctor. And an IRS guy. And a hooker. And a bunch of dirty hippie type people like myself, who argued and murmured and sometimes didn't believe. If Jesus were a black guy in my neighborhood, he and the disciples would have already been arrested on suspicion of something. Don't tell me a guy who got in touch with the universal Om well enough to pull atoms apart and rearrange them with his brain wants you to kill anybody, or hate anybody, or pass laws about anything. The real Jesus kept his mouth shut about laws that blatantly discriminated against his people, paid his taxes, and got killed for talking about nothing but loving each other and being decent. Allah valued hospitality so much he got on Abrahams's ass about not sharing food with a man who prayed differently. The Talmud values human life over any religious observance. I know all this and I don't practice a single one of those faiths. Were the Manichaeans right? Is the world really the plaything of the Demiurge? Is that why there are Bushes...because the Demiurge has been watching one of my partner stations and wants to kick it up a notch?

Crise de foi, crisis of faith. Crise de foie, crisis of the liver. Maybe this is all the fault of the bologna I had for dinner, but sometimes despair tries to set in. Let's refer back to my horoscope for March:

**note: I am not such a smart witch that I realized I'd need a different post for the celibacy thing and the horoscope thing, so neener, I ain't changin' it.**

March. No-Thingness (reversed). Life in March is apparently going to be a pointless void, or feel like one; nothingness as opposed to detachment. March is going to SUCK, I betcha. (V, the Hierophant. See why I hate Western decks? They're all scarylike.)

Ostara. Fighting. At the Spring Equinox "Fighting" is an OK card to get, less scary than it seems. Apparently this Equinox needs to be dedicated to Erys and the warrior gods. That's OK; I've been meaning to read the Principia Discordia for three years now and haven't gotten around thereto. Whip me a little harder, why don't you, Future? (Knight of Swords)

Swords are Air, the Mind. Fighting in the mind? At Ostara? You don't say. But it wasn't as bad as it could have been, mostly because I had the Principia at work, and that book will forcibly keep you from taking anyone and anything seriously, even the National Scrabble Championship.

The original notes on the entire month of March include the phrase "The world's not going to hell, it's just the Void, hon. Let go."

Damn you, gently falling raindrop..

**eta: The title said "Belive" for a minute. Fnord.**

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Blessed Ostara...Hey, Didja Miss Me?

How did it get to be a week since I updated?

Well, I won't bore you. I worked. I went to a party. I worked some more.

(The less said about this party, the better; invitation only 'do and very much a code-of-silence sort of thing. But I had fun. *wink* And yes, I'm still celibate. *damn*) But it did leave me out of town for 2 days, and then I had a cold, and...yeah. Sorry, guys. I said I wasn't going to do that week-long-silence shit this year.

I've been hella, hella busy...we're running new sales at work, I'm trying to get my second job started, and now, who knew? It's Ostara (the spring equinox).

So after a fifteen-hour stretch at work yesterday, followed by a seven-hour stretch today, I had to rush to Kroger, get eggs and paintbrushes, and daffodils, come home, blow out 12 eggs into 20-oz Coke bottles because I didn't have anything else to freeze them in (I'll use the yolks to make holy cakes for other holidays this year), paint runes for the list of stuff I set up earlier this week and promptly forgot about, and dig a hole behind the patio so I could smash the painted eggshells and plant the daffodils.

All that is done. There's more to do, but that's not stuff I can discuss here.

Sometimes being a paganish pantheist makes me tired. But then again, just being me makes me tired most of the time.


HUGE shouts to ET for the box of goodness of the literary variety she sent me this week; proper thank-you note to follow.

I don't have much to say. I'm busy. It's Ostara. Plant something, eat eggs, do whatever. I have nothing interesting to share at the moment.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Don't Worry, It's Just A Quickie

I have, have, HAVE to go to bed, but since I've barely been awake for 12 hours I thought I'd take a minute to give you the highlights.

Saturday was the Chieftess' & Champions' Combo Birthday Bash.

I saw umpty million people I haven't seen in forever, including but not limited to, Big Mama N, Big Daddy K, Big D, The Armorer and his wife Ianna, Jack Daniels Man and his awesome wife, as well as the usual suspects (CDHSarah and God, KayVon, the Artist, etc.)

Mon fils called and left a message, but hasn't called back yet. So I hope he does. Je t'adore, mon fils! Donne-moi un coup de telephone tout de suite, s'il te plait?

I also saw a girl I know the Artist had a fling with, and was able to behave, because I actually like her, and I don't think it's going to be a repeat, which is good, because I am a jealous beast and if he's not sleeping with me, I'd prefer that he didn't sleep with people I know reasonably well, because I am still a bit territorial about the man on whom I focus my limited heterosexuality.

We managed not to totally freak out the only Christian Republican at the party, who actually had a good time.

I got Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 when I bought C&C's present, a really fabulous bowl with a big, semi-Georgia O'Keefe flower on it that matches their new dining room decor. Not that I can WATCH them because the VCR crapped out, but I HAVE them and that's something.

I have been sober for 2 days, and I am coping, even though sobriety blows. (Not AA/NA sobriety, just taking a break.)

I got my boobies grabbed several times (by people who have boobie-grabbin' privileges), which was cool, and Ianna accidentally smacked me in the bush, which sucked a little. Also, I bit CDHSarah, who totally deserved it, and she was so drunk she forgot about it, which is even better, because now I won't get bitched at about it ad infinitum.

I got made fun of during CatchPhrase (which my team OWNED, thanks) because my first clue for "key" was "It's what cocaine comes in, it's the abbreviation for kilo." Hee! Damn rap stars.

I found the coolest present ever for the Artist and he loves it.

I managed to keep my cool even when there were upwards of thirty people in the small house, which is an accomplishment for l'il ol' me.

We all quoted Napoleon Dynamite to the point of ridiculousness.

CDHSarah, the Artist and I sat on the couch and treated the house to a rendition of the Strong Badian National Anthem.

This morning the Former Fling Girl brought back doughnuts (she had slept elsewhere but wanted to hang out before she drove back to the ATL) and we cleaned the house and hung out for a while, and then I went to work, where I owned it ALL. Brite Sale (lamps) this weekend, and I was the addon queen. I have some catching up to do for missing last weekend's sale due to kitty anxiety, which I have totally smoothed over with my supervisor. I made some strides today. We'll see when the updated numbers come out tomorrow how far I have to go.

It makes you feel really good when someone in authority over you, who has known you for maybe a month (but has the glowing recs from the last 2 years to go on) tells you that she knows you're responsible, that you wouldn't miss work unless it was truly unavoidable (snort), and that you manage your anxiety disorder so well that she never would have known you had it if you didn't share it with her.


The ParcePere is fixing the van! I'm getting my car back and I don't have to pay for it. Totally unsolicited, too -- when I asked him how to take off a starter, he decided he'd just rather pay my mechanic then let my non-machinery-oriented self play around under the hood. So, that's awesome.

Another super bonus: DSH's parents are out of town and she is housesitting, which means she'll be getting the papazan out of the attic that she's giving me -- the same one I totally coveted all through high school. Papazan yay.


Shouts to MWN for sharing Conversations with my Muslim with other folks. If any of those folks are readin', leave me a comment! The rest of y'all should too.

Now I'm going to bed. No, really. I must. It's all Wayne's World up in here...

"Go then!" "I'm going!" "Go then!" "I'm gone!"

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Something Completely Different: Conversations with my Muslim

Note, because I am overly sensitive: the title is a riff on Conversations with my Mother, an interpretive dance piece. I do not and have never owned a Muslim, but I did have the great honor of spending about 2 hours discussing religion with a young Muslim med student today who increased my knowledge of his faith probably tenfold in the space of half an afternoon, and I thought that, with all the disinformation and demonization of that faith at this moment, and being a member of a type of faith that's had the same sort of things said about it for a thousand years, that portions of that discussion should go here. If it's not your thing, go read about how the MK has returned, or skip down to the media at the very bottom.


MM: Do you know what the word Islam means?

PQIF: "Submission to the will of Allah"?

MM: You're good. Now, if a true Muslim is fanatic about anything, it is his monotheism. The word "Allah" has connotations of gender neutrality, of singleness, and of inability to be divided.

PQIF: I've heard it said that people's image of God tends to fall into one of two categories: either transcendent, where God is somewhere else and watching everything from a far vantage point, the Old Man with a Beard, or the Greek gods on Olympus -- or immanent, where God is considered to literally "be" everywhere at once. I know y'all don't make representative figures in your religious art, so I haven't ever gotten a handle on how Islam conceptualizes God.

MM: Allah's knowledge reaches everywhere; nothing can be hidden from the Creator...

PQIF: But is he inside Creation, or outside of it?

MM: It's a mystery. I'll tell you a parable in a minute about those kinds of questions, but it's a matter of faith; I spend more time worrying about where I am in relation to God than where God is in time and space.

PQIF: That makes a lot of sense.


MM: The Koran talks about Moses, and Abraham, and Jesus as well, as Muslims -- as people submitted to the will of Allah before the Koran was written, as Allah's messengers. We have stories about the Christian patriarchs, and I think it's sad that Christians have cut themselves off from that knowledge because of the difference over the divinity of Christ. It makes perfect sense that Allah can make a woman pregnant if he wants to without creating another God, at least to us; he's the Creator, he can do that, no problem. But being a messenger of Allah doesn't make you a god; it's a spiritual responsibility.

PQIF: Like the Buddha -- people who don't know anything about Buddhism often think that Buddha is a God, and he isn't. The Buddha is a title, a job that an individual does, and Siddhartha was only one of seven Buddhas.

MM: Explain that to me.

PQIF: The Buddha is a state of enlightenment granted to certain people, who use it to go and teach. According to their mystic traditions, the Buddha most people think of, the historical one, was really the fourth one, it's just that the others came before recorded history. And some people believe Jesus was the fifth one.

MM: Really?

PQIF: Yes, because the teachings of Jesus are very in tune with Buddhist thought. Some of his parables actually mirror things in the Lotus Sutra. But being the Buddha doesn't mean you are actually divine, because there's not really a central divinity in Buddhism. But no one actually worships the happy fat man, it's a complete misconception. The Buddha isn't holy, just in possession of higher knowledge that it's his job to share.

MM: Again, like the messengers of Allah. And not following the precepts of the Koran doesn't necessarily mean you are not a Muslim in the sense of submission to the will of Allah, because what Muslims are judged on is their intent.

PQIF: Elaborate.

MM: Because you owe everything to the Creator, what you do is not truly good unless it is done solely to honor the Creator. Regimes forcing non-Islamic women into certain forms of dress aren't really doing so to honor God, because Islam isn't supposed to be forced, it is a choice. They're placing their own desire to convert people over God's glory. You can do good things for the wrong reasons and Allah will not reward you for it.

PQIF: Oh! There's a Christian parable about that -- Jesus hanging out with his disciples, watching people make offerings and donations at the Temple, and some people are making a big old show of their prayers and making sure everyone hears their money hitting the bottom of the collection box, and Jesus warns the disciples that those people are getting their reward out of creating that display, and that there won't be a reward in heaven for them because of it.

MM: That's exactly it. You can follow every commandment, every precept, and if what's important to you is other people's opinions instead of God's glory, you might as well not be doing it. There's another parable about that, where three men are being judged: one's a scholar, one's a warrior, one's a rich man. When the rich man is asked what Allah gave him, he says riches. When asked how he used it, he says he did many charitable acts for the glory of Allah, and Allah points out that why he REALLY did it was so people would think him generous. The scholar points out that he wrote many books on Islam and that helped bring people to Allah. Allah points out that while he was doing it he was concerned with people believing him to be a great mind and great holy man. Same thing with the warrior: all of them had been claiming to do things for God so that people would think more highly of them. Submission requires humility, and greed and pride replace that humility. It's a balance between knowing that you are awesomely created by God to do the best you can, and remembering that without God you would be less than nothing.

PQIF: Yet another New Testament thing: there's a story in the Bible somewhere about a man whose house (which represents his soul) was possessed of a demon. Once the demon was cast out, instead of thanking God, the man immediately began to clean the house where the demon had messed it up. Once he was done, the house was so beautiful that seven other demons -- the 7 Deadly Sins of which Pride is foremost, according to some folks -- decided they'd like to move right in. If the guy had remembered to be humble and thank God for helping him expel the first demon, the other seven wouldn't have been able to get in. But while he was sweeping the dirt out the door Pride sneaked right in behind him and things were seven times worse than before.

MM: That's one-- I love that. Pride sneaked in behind him. That's really how it works, isn't it?

PQIF: The diseases of the human condition -- pride and greed and jealousy, anger, hate -- are pretty universal, and I can't think of a tradition that doesn't include warnings against them, most of them in stories like that one. They destroy; it's something every belief system tries to cope with.

MM: To a person truly submitting to the will of Allah, there is no self-interest. I mean, you take care of yourself, asceticism isn't really glorified by Islam, but if you are truly in submission you will gladly use your free will to give all the glory to your Creator, without whom you could do nothing.


MM: There is a story about Moses talking to Allah, when Allah inquires of him who Moses believes to be the most knowledgeable of his followers -- and understand, I'm condensing this a lot -- and Moses says it's himself, but Allah says he has another messenger who is more knowledgeable than Moses. Moses asks Allah who this guy is so Moses can go and study with him, and Allah demurs at first, but eventually tells him where this wise man can be found.

The messenger refuses to accept Moses as a student, saying that he's too impatient to hang out with him. Moses continues to beg and eventually the messenger relents and allows Moses to travel with them. Along the way they take a boat, and once they get off the boat, the messenger sinks it, much to the consternation of the hired fishermen it belongs to.

Moses freaks out at the teacher, asking him what he thinks he's doing. The teacher says this just proves that Moses is too impatient to hang out with him. Later he kills a little boy, and Moses responds the same. When they reach the city they were travelling to, the people there are rude and refuse to offer them hospitality, but on their way out the teacher fixes a portion of broken-down wall.

When Moses points out that he could have asked for payment from the uncharitable city, the teacher loses it. Moses has questioned him three times and he won't have it.

When Moses asks Allah why this is the wisest of all Allah's messengers, Allah tells him that the boat's sinking prevented it from being seized by soldiers nearby; sunk the fishermen could repair it, but if it had been stolen by the army, they would have starved. The child died because he had shamed his parents, but they could only afford one child; his death left room for a more holy person to be born, and because he was so young, he would go to Paradise anyway instead of growing up to be an evil man. And the wall that was falling down would have revealed a fortune hidden in it that belonged to some orphans, which the greedy and inhospitable city-dwellers would have stolen; repaired, it would come to light when the children were old enough to claim it. Moses couldn't claim to be knowledgeable because he could only see what surrounded him.

PQIF: He didn't have perspective. I like that. It reminds me of a Buddhist parable I know.

MM: I'd like to hear it.

PQIF: Two monks were travelling in the rainy season and came to a river they needed to cross. At the side of the river stood a girl in an expensive kimono -- and this dates from when even a cheap kimono could be priced equivalent to enough food to feed a family for a year, so the implication is that the young woman is a whore.

MM: OK, go on.

PQIF: She couldn't cross the river because of her priceless kimono. So the first monk picked her up and carried her across the river, depositing her on the other side. And the second monk is all, "Whaaaaa?" but doesn't say anything until they stop for the night.

As they reach the city the second monk can't hold his tongue any longer and he lets loose on the first monk. "I can't believe you did that! You know we're not supposed to have anything to do with women at all! What?"

The first monk just kind of looks at him and is all, "Um, dude, I left that woman on the other side of the river. Are you still carrying her?"

MM: (grins) That's great. That's great, I'll have to remember that.

PQIF: To me it says something about fundamentalism, about sticking your nose in other people's salvation. So does the first one. Of course, I'm kind of a collector of parables.

MM: Really?

PQIF: From a purely academic standpoint, they're excellent ways to determine the core values of a society, because parables usually illustrate ethics.

MM: That's true. That's very true.

PQIF: It also shows what they value: Christian parables deal with money and wealth a lot, not necessarily because people were greedy, but because in the time of Jesus people were used to a monetary system. But Eastern parables don't deal with that stuff as much because for a long time money wasn't measured in monetary units, but in amounts of rice, so parables about greed usually have to do with a crop, or a storehouse of rice, instead of finding a pearl of great price or something similar. Since literacy hasn't really been widespread throughout history, values tend to get passed down that way, and they're easier to parse out from stories like that.

In the one I told and the one you told one thing is clear: if you're focusing your energy on worrying about what your neighbor is doing with regards to his faith, you're distracted from your own spiritual path, which should require all your energy. Moses was wise and still couldn't believe that there was someone who could see farther than he could, past apparent sins into greater good. And the second monk missed out on his own time to meditate by worrying about the other monk's dedication to vows. Both are actions of pride, like we discussed.

MM: I'm really going to have to remember that one about the monks and the whore. I want you to send me the original if you don't mind.

PQIF: No problem.

MM: Here's another along those lines. Abraham -- same Abraham -- never ate alone his entire life. If he had to, he'd find an animal to share his food with rather than eat alone, because of the principle of hospitality.

So he met a traveller and invited him to eat dinner, and before eating the traveller blessed his food in the name of a foreign God. Abraham ran the guy off, said "You can't do that if you want to eat with me."

Allah talked to Abraham and chewed him out, told him that Allah had been patient with that particular man for 50 years, and Abraham couldn't even be patient with him for the space of a meal.

PQIF: It's such a shame that people don't know things like that about Islam -- or anything, really, just because the people practicing a perverted version of it are the ones they hear about. If they heard stories like that one as examples of Islamic thought, they'd retain more positivity.


MM: There are four states one can be in at any time, and actually you can be in at least 2 at once: in a tribulation, in a blessing, in accordance with the will of God, or not in accordance.

The proper response to a tribulation is patience, trusting Allah that there is a reason for the tribulation that you can't see with your limited vision. The improper response is despair; you can't truly despair if you trust your Creator.

The proper response to a blessing is gratitude, of course, and the wrong one is ingratitude, which includes taking all the credit for yourself.

The proper response to being in accordance is also gratitude, but slightly different -- the Arabic word has a meaning I can't really translate...

PQIF: I know that the words of the Prophet are in Arabic, and that the Koran can't be truly translated because the meaning changes, so I understand a little. Go on.

MM: You should be grateful to God for putting you where you are, in accordance. There's an overtone of joy there, because the improper response is to do it grudgingly -- you should always be joyful when you're doing what God wants. And of course the proper response to acting out of accordance is repentance and change, where the wrong response is to rationalize your intentions to make the sin OK. If you're acting with God, then there should be more good in the world, and less evil, and generally when you sin you're aware that it's not for any greater good but only for your own selfishness. Again, like pride, or greed.

PQIF: Actually that reminds me of the Pagan Law of Three, or sometimes of Seven: what you do, for good or ill, will come back on you, multiplied. It's not punishment, because karma isn't a punishment. But if you're the dad who hits the kid, and the kid goes and kicks the dog because he can't hit you back, when the dog bites you it's the evil you originally set loose that's coming back on you and you have no one to blame but yourself. Conversely, if you try hard to put more good into the world, there'll be more out there to come back on you. It's a "part of the problem or part of the solution" thing.

MM: We don't believe in karma exactly, but there is that idea; you can choose to make more evil or you can choose to make more good. Doesn't mean you'll get all blessings and no tribulations...

PQIF: Of course not...

MM: ...but acting in accordance usually means that there will be someone willing to help you through a tribulation if you need it, because you have spread hospitality and good will.

PQIF: Exactly.


There was a lot more than that in 2 hours, but those are the bits I remember best, in some cases kind of stitched together.

There may be more Conversations with my Muslim -- we decided that we needed to meet again and talk these things, and I hope he will come at some point and speak to the group about Islam as it's something none of us know more than the bare bones about. This is such a blessing for so many reasons, but one in particular.

There are a lot of Muslims where I live because my neighborhood is probably half immigrant if not more. Predominantly Hispanic, but there are a large contingent of African Muslims here, including the family who lives upstairs from me.

Fat Mo's, voted the best burger in Nashville on multiple occasions in the Nashville Scene yearly reader's poll, is our new Waffle House. You cannot stick to your diet at Mo's if indeed you are on one; you WILL eat a burger that weighs a pound and drips with grease, and like it, because it tastes like heaven. Or you'll do what DSH, who rarely eats red meat, does and eat a chicken sandwich the size of your head, with spicy fries, of course, because the spicy fries are enough to rhapsodize about. The guys who run it are Iranian Muslims; "Mo" is short for "Mohammed". Their meat is halal, and you see a lot of Muslims eating there, for that reason and the fact that, as I've mentioned, the food is really, really, really fucking good. Dammit. Now I want one, and I've eaten there twice this week already.

CDHSarah and I were eating there a few weeks back and there was a family eating there also; father, little girl of about 10, baby maybe 16 months. The little girl was wearing a red chador (the scarf that covers the hair but no other part of the face.) I noticed how she was fiddling with it, and also that it was older and a little too big for her, so probably her mother's. She wasn't quite old enough for one from what I understand about the custom, so to her it was obviously a very big deal and not something she was wearing every day yet. She kept checking herself out in every reflective surface.

We did to-go that night because CDHSarah had places to be later. On the way home, she mentioned that seeing the little girl in the chador had bothered her on some level. We talked about it. She -- and CDHSarah reads a lot and is not an ignorant person, but her knowledge of Islam is incredibly limited -- was under the impression that the chador was the first step to the burka, a notion of which I disavowed her. I pointed out to her that the dad and the baby had both had their hair covered as well, which she hadn't noticed due to her vantage point, and gave her my conjectures on the little girl doing the equivalent of playing dress-up in her mom's clothes. I also explained that the burka proponents are kind of the Islamic equivalent of the Assemblies of God people who think makeup, pierced ears, and pants are the Debbil, and that covering the hair is all that's really required, along with modesty in dress for men and women, threw in a comparison to the kippah (yarmulke) for Jews, and by then we were home and the conversation couldn't continue. She wasn't arguing against it, because she didn't know, but the little girl already in a chador before she had boobies just conjured up bad associations for her, things she'd heard on the news.

If people like CDHSarah, who is always studying religion, have been getting the wrong idea from the demonization of Islam in the "War for Terror and Against Oil -- No Wait, Strike That, Reverse it, Damn Teleprompter", what must people who have no interest in studying any religion other than their own be thinking right now about people like the courteous and respectful young man that sat and talked with me equitably for two hours, complimenting my dreads, listening to me and being listened to, with never a raised voice or shout of "Infidel!"? They probably think he's of the same mindset as the dirty cowards who blew up the WTC, whose imam apparently missed a few Vacation Koran School sessions about Moses and Abraham. And they are tragically, dangerously wrong, and that just makes me sad.

End hippy-dippy, "Tolerance R0xx0r$" post. Now, the media.

What I'm Reading

The Altar of my Soul: The Living Traditions of Santeria by Marta Morena Vega. The author is the president of the Board of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, and the story is her story about coming from America to Cuba to study, and eventually be initiated into, Santeria and Espiritismo as an adult, in the late seventies and early eighties. It's awesome if you're interested in those things, which I am, very much.

A Whistling Woman, the last Frederica Potter book by A.S. Byatt. Constant Readers will know I've been rereading this series, which got put on hold during the Flu Epidemic and Great Kitty Cat Hunt, as it requires a lot of concentration and I wasn't having it.

Olivia Joules & The Overactive Imagination, for about the umpty billionth time, because that book always makes me smile.

I've also been kind of halfheartedly rereading my Wooster & Jeeves novels by P.G. Wodehouse, but I haven't been feeling them and plus have read them fifty gabillion times. I need to get new books. Stat.

What I'm Watching

Nothing, because the VCR is in one of its periodic snits and without it the DVD player won't work. Pawnshop, here I come.

What I'm Hearing

Nothing right now either because I am really tired, and forgot to turn the WinAmp back on after I got off the phone with my boss. But some of the highlights of the day have been:
The Story of Reuben Clamso & His Strange Daughter by Arlo Guthrie
Little Babies by Sleater-Kinney (the second most hynotic chorus in non-mainstream music in my opinion)
Orthodox Girls, a spoken word piece by Matthue that cracks my shit right up.

In my head, all day, ever since watching Bowling For Columbine two nights ago, Take The Skinheads Bowling. All. Day. Long.
I like that song, Michael, don't get me wrong, but damn. Did you have to make it the menu song too to ensure that it wouldn't leave my brain? Or did your awesome PAs handle that choice?


Unless you're going to talk shit, you may leave a comment. You can leave one if you're going to talk shit, too, but be aware I have very little patience at the moment as the moon is almost new, so I may hit you with the metaphorical kendo stick if I decide you're acting ig'nant.

(This does not apply to GoG, as I pretty much permit him to talk shit, cause I kinda like him, and he had good things to say when my kitty came home. Plus, he can't be called what my mom refers to as an "igmo", by any definition. Love ya, GoG!)

Hallelujah Chorus: What You Wanted To Hear

As of 10 minutes ago, I was looking at the pitiful little bowl of food that has sat untouched by anyone but birds for 2 days, and praying to St. Jude, the patron saint of "things almost despaired of".

As of 9 minutes ago I heard a plaintive "Meow?".

L'mn'j'lo is home. L'mn'j'lo is safe. L'mn'j'lo is stuffing his face.

He still had to give chase, though, because he's like that; he made me run up 2 flights of stairs before he would allow himself to be picked up and his fur to be cried upon and kissed. Now he's running around, cleaning the kitten, drinking water, and reasserting his status as Emperor of All Floors. (I wish I had a digicam to show you how cute he and the kitten are, but trust me that it is cuter than just about anything in the history of ever.)

Let us give thanks.

To all the BUSTies, Special Sauce, MWN, Stevie, GoG, CDHSarah (even though she totally gloated over her correctness and my lack of faith) and the rest of the Paganesque Crewe for their spells for his safe return, my pendulum for being so right, Design School Homie for flyering assistance, my apartment manager, PRB's PRM & PRS, Carl Washington and Nashville Pet Finder, as well as the Nashville Humane Society, the folks at AISH who placed a prayer in Jerusalem's Wailing Wall for me, Sts. Anthony, Francis, and Jude, the Green Man, Hashem, Isis, Legba, and every deity, person and kittycat who crossed fingers and toes that he would be back soon and safe, THANK YOU. A billion times thank you.

Everyone has been showered with blessings in the brief time he was away; I, along with the Chieftess, helped CDHSarah get a job that pays more than 3 times what she was making as a Waffle Waitress, which means she'll have insurance for the first time in 3 years or more, and won't lose her house. I didn't get fired for missing work. I spent more time with my Elder Kitty, who is not usually all about hanging out with me but took pity on me in my grief, and got my Kitten to give me the time of day. I got a universal remote. I helped the Chieftess redecorate the dining room in the house she shares with the Champion. I found a second job that will supplement my income enough to probably let me get a handle on my credit card debt before the year is out. I reconnected with God in a way I haven't in a long time, and while it makes me feel kind of bad that it took a near-tragedy to kick-start me out of my spiritual ennui, it's nothing new to God, I'm sure.

Again, thank you all. There are other people to be notified, so I will cut this short by saying that SOMEONE whose name starts with Lemon and ends with Jello is getting his little ass chipped without delay (or, at least, as soon as I get the van fixed, which is also going to be done without delay.)

I am going to bed happy for the first time in six days, as soon as I let everyone else know that the prodigal is laid out on the back of the chair like he never left.

I told y'all you'd be the first to know.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

My, My, My State Sucks

Sars rules.

We all knew that.

She posted the information I sent her on TINO about Tennessee's proposed gay adoption ban and anti-gay marriage amendment.

God, we suck.

I mean, we REALLY, REALLY suck, and this sucks, and yeah.

I'm going to repeat what I said in the comments on TINO for all my non-Nashville/Tennessean readers.

Contact our reps. Tell them you're not coming here. (If you weren't intending to in the first place, you don't have to let them know that.) Most of Tennessee is a tourist state, what isn't agriculture based requires frequent transfusions of out-of-state funds (and agriculture is dying); whether you were planning to come here or not, tell them you WILL NOT come here while we keep acting like bigoted idiots and idiotic bigots. In particular, Diane Black, one of two sponsoring the legislation, comes from a community which in large part commutes to Metro Nashville for work, many of them in tourism-related industries (particularly the Opryland Hotel/Opry Mills complex). Let her know that, besides directly hurting the children of Tennessee to suit her moral agenda, she has just lost another visitor to our Convention Center, our Parthenon, our Country Music Hall of Fame, and that it is her constituency (not to mention the foster kids left unadopted who are about to lose their state sponsored health care) she is hurting with her "values".

If you want to take it that far, contact CMT, Dell, BellSouth, or any one of the other companies who are based here for the cheap, non-union labor, and let THEM know what you think, too. Dell probably has its own district by now. Send Bill Frist an email letting him know you won't be gracing the doors of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts any time soon.

Tourism is our lifeblood down here since the bottom fell out of farming. Hitting them in the pocket is the only way.

MWN and other Tennesseans, you know what to do. Anyone instate who wants to email me or comment here, we have some ideas if the referendum goes to ballot and would love to network.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Not What You Want: Take The Skinheads Bowling

We're just going to stay off the subject of my cat until there's some sort of development, because I am freaking pretty bad at this point.


CDHSarah has a really good job interview tomorrow, so I went running around with her today, to Target mostly, where I bought Bowling for Columbine, some socks, and neat pens.

That basically means I'm broke until Friday, but I'm not doing shit between now and then anyway other than going to the doctor, and they'll wait to get paid until I do. Kill Bill is $10 per volume, and when I go buy the sheets I was scoping today the Bills may make their way into my collection, but I knew just buying Vol. I would leave me all pissed off.

So I'm watching Michael Moore prop up pictures of little dead girls on Moses' lawn, and it's weird.

Michael Moore is like a kinder, gentler O'Reilly. He has an agenda and sometimes my natural "Question Reality" meter kicks into high gear while watching his product. (He also thanks Yoko Ono, which is awesome. Shut up. No, really, shut up. Yoko Ono is crazy, but bitch is fabulous doing it and I aspire to do the same.)

I mean, a lot of what he says is right, and he has to be bombastic and somewhat of an ass to get funding to make films that counter the prevalent American media. A lot of it's sobering, and unlike He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Called-A-Journalist, he doesn't make ad hominem attacks or assertions based entirely on fabrication. But he does stretch the truth, and stretching the truth, even in the defense of liberty, is a vice. A lot of his sequences -- especially the open-a-bank-account-get-a-gun sequence -- are sort of the left-wing equivalent of abortion videos.

Doesn't mean he's wrong, or should be stopped, or that I won't buy his movie (because I totally just did). I just take him with a grain of salt because he's so incredibly didactic.

That said, the "What a Wonderful World" (the Louis Armstrong version) American political overview montage is still one of the most moving, brilliant pieces of filmmaking I've ever seen.

What is very interesting is the commentary, which instead of some solipsist, narcissistic deconstruction by the main players, is narrated by interns and PAs who worked on the production, who have a more diverse palette of opinions while still being fairly liberal across the board. I'm having a lot of fun with this commentary.

Best quote thus far from the Intern Commentary:

"This is how I get my news; I get it from Chris Rock, The Daily Show, and Henry Rollins."

Plus they keep joking about how things are "so American", like the abandoned boats behind the Michigander hunters.

Right on. In the end, I'd still rather be preached to by Moore than any of the other autodidacts currently cluttering up my worldview.


I am hanging out, and I have no great conclusion, so good night for now.

Monday, March 07, 2005

ARRRGH...but, yay?

I feel guilty when things make me happy during this troubled time.

Nonetheless, may I crow a tiny bit?

I once had a professor I highly respected tell me that my advantage was that I could think almost-but-not-quite equally well in the left and right sides of my brain. He further opined that that was also why I have moments of almost transcendent klutziness. Dr. Chuck (not your real name), you r0xx0r. Sorry I was such a smooth criminal that I got away with (accidentally) lighting paper towels on fire in the lab and usually managed to put them out and hide the evidence before you could figure out where it was coming from. (Well, not so much sorry as "sorry I kind of suck at lab without a less-fearful partner." You never should have split me and Virginia Hippie up.)

I'm not clumsy all the time. I can do certain things that require fine motor skills. I just have screwy kinesthetic senses that get worse the closer things get to me. I am going to start telling people I have kinesthetic myopia when I don't want to do shit. Mostly it just means that I have bruises in weird places, almost exclusively on the left side of my body, but my mom swears to God that when I was four I used to aim for the open part of a door and hit the closed part so often that she got worried about me. (Coincidentally, that's the year my daycare worker, who had been trained during the period when lefties were reoriented as a matter of policy, got me to start using my right hand. Weird.)

The left brain/right brain thing may be overrated to a degree -- everyone uses both hemispheres, they just don't usually do them equally well. What occasioned Dr. Chuck's comment was a problem on a Precalculus test where, lacking the correct equation, I vectored the problem and solved the triangle on what would have normally been incomplete information, but we were allowed to use our graphing calculators, so I used trig, because at the time I was tutoring remedial geometry.

It's not the problem, I guess, it's how you solve the problem.

I can't solve the problem of my cat. Only God can do that and I trust God.

I can, however, make my life better, and stop being conquered by bullshit.


I can't deal with machinery.
That is one of my great failings.

Machinery hates me. I can hook up a computer, and I give people advice all day about what hook-ups they require for their electronics, and I have the theory, but that shit conquers me.

So I hadn't programmed the VCR to the Universal Remote, because the brand name is gone from it. But I have the possibility of some part-time work coming up which will require me to have a VCR (no, Sars didn't hire me as a recapper -- this is much less glamorous, transcription stuff for closed captioning on a piecework basis, but it pays over twice what I'm making now and will be some nice extra experience on my resumé. It's ironic that I generally would rather read about TV than watch TV, and I may be working for 2 different networks soon.)

I refuse to sit in the damn floor with my wireless keyboard in order to manually start and stop my VCR, because that would drive me fuggin' bugshit.

So I read the directions VERY carefully, put on something with a regular beat, and methodically pressed CHANNEL UP (after some other buttons that were required to use the search feature) somewhere in excess of 150 times to locate the code for the unidentified VCR.

This is a big accomplishment for someone of my severe antimechanical inclinations. I can use tools, although I'd rather not deal with the saw portion of the experience if I have an assistant, and ever since a girl named Natalina drilled my finger with a Makita when she was flirting with the male lead in Cinderella during a tech call, I have very little fear. But electronics fuck me up. I straight up break watches, small clocks, and most things digital. My computer hangs on by the bare threads, and anything more complicated than defragging I delegate to one of my associates for considerations.

So I can start and stop my VCR from my chair now and I'm about to have 2 work-from-home jobs. Can my future get any brighter?

Oh yeah. I'd like my cat back, universe, if that wouldn't be too terribly much trouble. Sending me a million assurances that he's OK and some fairly strong evidence (where the fuck is CSI when you need them?) that he's within sight of the house holed up, that is Not. The. Same. as having him here where I can feed him and love him and then take him to the vet and chip him.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Forty Eight Hours

48 hours plus, at this point, actually.

The MK's daddy, the Artist, is confident.
The pagans are confident.
The pendulum is confident.

At this point I'm nearly 100% that he knows there is food for him here, because the dogs that have already been caught noshing on it would probably not have carried the can out of eyesight like he does, and that I just have to catch him at it (his usual MO).

But my faith is starting to waver, and I need to work on that, because only total faith will make these magicks work.

Pagan Buddy is coming to pick me up in a bit; I have to go back to work today. I'm leaving water out, but no food, so that hopefully when I put food out upon my return tonight he will be hungry and I can catch him.

If he doesn't show up by tomorrow night I'm sending CDHSarah to rent a cat trap from the Humane Society. Or maybe someone will call about the flyer.

I'm going to go and meditate with my Green Man until PB shows up to pick me up. As I promised, y'all will be the first to know.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Kitty Kitty Poo, Where Are You?

The MK has not returned.

At this point he has been gone a little over 24 hours (I'm pretty sure he got out shortly before 7 yesterday morning). This is nothing. He has been gone for (once) 5 days at a time.

All hope is not lost.

My pendulum (one of my very favorite divinatory devices) insists strongly that I will see him again, that he is not hurt or dead, that he is hiding, and that if I don't find him myself he will come back on his own.

I slept with the Green Man under my pillow and dreamed about the MK sitting in a tree, not particularly distressed, just chillin'.

On the practical front, I am making flyers and putting them around the apartments and the neighborhood below us (we're on a hill and surrounded by a residential neighborhood.) A reward will be offered. Design School Homie is coming to drive me around the area in a little while.

CDHSarah has driven the same route 3 times and has seen no roadkill, which is gross, but comforting.

On the pagan front, I've called the members of my group who deal in Green Man related magick and there are multiple spells being performed right now to tell MK to get his little ass home. I'm pulling out my St. Francis cross before the search, and St. Jude is watching over the bowl of food on the back deck.

Thanks to all the Bloggers and BUSTies sending their positive thoughts out to us. I just have to keep telling myself that he does this EVERY SPRING (because he does) and that as soon as he is done proving that he's a big badass he'll come home wanting to be fed and petted. It's easier to keep that up when there are so many people with various appendages crossed, candles burning and so on.

I love you, L'mn'j'lo. (Don't tell the others but you've always been my favorite.) Your kitten is wandering around the house making dismayed noises wondering where you are. How about you come on back, and I'll feed you some rare hamburger, OK?

Love y'all. Thanks bunches. Keep those prayers coming.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Fuckkity Fuck FUCK

I am not at work.
The Middle Kitty is out.

Any positive thoughts to his quick, safe, still-viable return would be appreciated. I'm going to go freak the fuck out now.

That is all.

I'm Back, Bitches!

Wooooooooo. Woo. Woah.

Your faithful correspondent now knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she is not cut out for boot camp.

I am basically broke, because that's what happens to you even when your insurance has good disability benefits. When a significant portion of your monthly income is commission-based, and you lose that, plus 1/3 of your hourly, you are not, how do you say, flush with cash.

But I am back to work now, although not yet working from home (just you wait, y'all -- when I work from home I am dangerous), and right about the time my Internet service went down, I was scheduled for Hell Week, which turned into Hell Weeks Plural.

My service went down on a Friday. It was a major outage, across three sections of NashVegas, and service wasn't restored in all areas until Saturday afternoon.

My service never came back up. Now, I owe them a small chunk of money (although I've been making regular, partial payments to keep it connected), and so I was placed in the embarrassing position of having to call and find out if I was disconnected for nonpayment. Which, as it turned out, I was not.

Now, y'all know from the title of this blog that I work in the Customer Service Industry. Which cuts both ways when I am forced to deal with other companies, because for one, I'm really, really, really nice to customer reps, but for another, if they screw me I get pissed the fuck off. The first ComCast rep? Screwed me. Practically swore on her granny's grave she'd have someone out the next morning to fix it. As in, the next morning before I went to work on day One of Thirteen scheduled in a row. I explained to her in no uncertain terms that there was a two hour window, no more, and that I'd be expecting a tech during that time, as that is what she had promised me.

Needless to say, they didn't show. So I went on to work.

To make matters worse, the hapless tech (who swore up and down in a very convincing fashion that there were no notes of any kind about the service visit on the work order, which I think I believe) called me. While I was on the floor, at work. Which is also a huge no-no, although most of us have become absolutely expert at the "No, no, I'm not on my personal phone, I'm hunting under the desk for a dropped item!" game.

I got home. I checked my schedule, and I cursed. Because it was Hell Week.

We've got people out with the flu. We've also got a shortage of trained reps right now because we purged all the temps who didn't convert (doesn't THAT sound scary) during the Christmas season. (And at this company, there is no goddamn excuse NOT to convert. It's not all insane, impossible parameters, like my last temp job was.) Which means there is overtime coming out of the proverbial yin-yang.

I worked 65 hours last week. I'll work a minimum of 45 this week. As it played out, with the exception of Sundays, I worked between nine and twelve hours each and every day, skipping every off day to work more. Because everyone and their mother wants a piece of my paycheck at the moment, and with my commission -- I did $180 grand in sales this last month -- I should be able to get almost everyone what I owe them. And fix the van, too. Which is good.

Except that I figured out I don't really need to work that much when I'm not doing the from-home thing. Twelve hours in my big green chair with computer (unfortunately internet-free when I'm working, since the network blocks me out of all websites but ours), DVD, stereo, fridge within walking distance, and three kitties is no big thing. Twelve hours in the call center where I don't get a break during the last 3 1/2 and I have to dodge supervisors to go get a Coke during a busy show is, well, suboptimal. It's even less optimal when the vagaries of no-car-having, sick-with-flu being, and not-wanting-to-take-the-bus-itude mean that I frequently get to work an hour before starting and leave up to 2 and a half hours after I log out.

This schedule completely removed any possibility of being able to schedule a service call, actually. (Well, Thursday. While I was editing this it has become Friday.) And I wouldn't have had service today if I hadn't called an hour after my time slot to find that the Second Slackass Rep had scheduled my appointment for seven days later. (Hint: when you call on Saturday night, "next Thursday" is four days away, not eleven.) Luckily Ethan the Awesome in dispatch got me set up and they came by around 8 pm and fixed it in five minutes.

Hell week has ended. I took BOTH my days off this week -- well, I worked one of them, but that was cleaning for the Boss, which is not really a stressful work environment.

To put it as CDHSarah did while driving me home after Day Thirteen, "You need to stop working so much overtime, because it turns you into a bitch." (This was after we had one of our we're-both-Leos-and-also-in-third-grade "I'm tired-No, I'm tired - No, shut up, I am - No, YOU shut up, I'm tireder than you" fights while waiting to pick up my medication.) Valium helps, y'all, whether you're a CSR or a Waffle Waitress.

I'm not going to give you a blow-by-blow, because most of the Days consisted of:

Get up at asscrack of dawn. Get dressed. Lie back down in bed until Ride Du Jour calls to get let into the complex.
Go to work. Work. Work some more. Put phone on mute in order to curse at customer. Keep thinking about paycheck.
Paycheck comes for last pay period where flu was had. Immediately give 4/5 of paycheck to various creditors, which still does not pay off all money owed to a single one. Keep $100 for yourself after groceries -- this is your running money for the next 2 weeks.
Call everyone, all the time, while you are at work, every time you are not on the phone for business purposes, just to hear non-work-related human voices. Eat out of the machines because you are too exhausted to remember to make breakfast.
Come home from work very late. Go to check email and remember that you can't. Go lie in bed instead and read a book until you pass out. If you must eat, make sure it is something with no nutritional value that requires no effort, because standing up in the kitchen is not an acceptable use of your two hours of non-sleeping nightly free time.

But there were a few anomalies in there and I'll give 'em to ya.

The Doctor called. He has married his Horrible Girlfriend and is already trying to escape. His presence was expected today, but as he does, he didn't show. We'll hear from him soon enough. Now that we've seen he still exists, we have more faith that we'll see him again.

The Doctor died (Hunter S., not our Doctor.) Much mourning occured.

Our group wrote its mission statement and my version was accepted, unchanged, by unanimous consent, which made me feel really good.

Someone tried to solicit me to have sex for money, which was fucked up.

Design School Homie and Anorectic Homie and I finally got back together to have a night in, and while it wasn't as good as it used to be, we did have a good time making fun of the "swimsuits" on the Victoria's Secret website and watching Mean Girls. Also, AH's husband is coming home from Korea next week.

I bought a Universal Remote. Then I got high, found a name of a company which, when its letters are rearranged, spells a version of CDHSarah's full name, and programmed one of the buttons I don't use to her user code, making her laugh with glee.

I successfully won an argument with my bank, which has never happened ever in the history of my life before today.

My character got a set of red dragon scale mail (the best she can wear, due to class restrictions) and has proceeded to kick ass and take names, now that her AC is NEGATIVE SIX. That's right, bitches.

The Artist and I went on our first cooperative piratic raid (on an apartment abandoned by people who owe us considerable sums of money) and I scored a mirror that is So. Awesome. Really. Once I get it painted and get my digicam working again, I'll getcha a picture. It's not really worth $200, but I have new forks and a cool quilt and that, and it's enough. Plus -- hey, I got to be a real pirate!

I got told that a.) my dreads were so awesome that if I went to Jamaica I'd have trouble getting the Rastas to let me leave (by the young Jamaican guy at my work) and that b.) the girl with the awesome headwraps at work thinks my scarves are cooler than hers, and she does also have to readjust hers several times a day, which means I am not so much of a dipshit as I thought.

I developed a crush on a third girl at work, who is gay, but being a celibate I haven't let it get farther than the "I must dress cutely before work today despite the fact that my eyeballs are hanging out of my head, because SHE will be in my bay this afternoon" stage. We shall see what happens. (Her friend-not-gf at work has invited me tentatively to come and watch The L-Word with them at some point, so this could be promising.)

I met the cutest dog in the universe -- a six week old Chinese pug who lives upstairs and is so incredibly cute she's ALMOST as precious as the kitten on a bad hair day.

I got shouted out by a total stranger on last week's TV Time, who had heard the show where I called in jacked on TheraFlu and felt bad for me.

I made chicken fried steak better than the chicken fried steak produced by the Betty Crocker Cookbook. And since I promised my Elvis Twin, I will share the recipe with you now.

PQIF's Get People To Drive You Anywhere Chicken-Fried Steak

Step Zero: Get woken up at 8 am on your day off by asshole CSR. Spend an hour getting problem straightened out. Realize that you are not going back to sleep unless you put something in your belly. Decide that something had better be good. Remember that the person you were going to cook steak for cancelled on you and that said steaks are still in freezer.
Step One: Call your mom and get her to read you the BCC-approved recipe to chicken-fry round steak.
Step Two: Be smart and remember that you kind of suck at recipe cooking. Decide that you're going to cook one of your four cuts of meat by the recommended method before committing them all to the possible snafu.
Step Three: Defrost the round steaks in the microwave. Curse the microwave for taking all year.
Step Four: Preheat the oil. Be sure not to check for stray particles in the burner well which will cause your smoke alarm to go off. Go open bedroom window and garden door.
Step Five: Mix 2 tbsp milk and 2 eggs in a bowl. Beat the egg/milk mixture. Dip the Sample Cut into the egg and then into the flour. Repeat as needed. Go ahead and eggwash/flour all four cuts of meat.
Step Six: Brown the SC in the hot oil. Realize that you are so ghetto you don't have a properly fitted cover for your skillet and that, furthermore, the skillet in question is too big for your normal cover-it-with-a-plate MO. Cover it with a pan instead and hope for the best.
Step Seven: Realize about halfway through BCC's suggested cooking time that BCCsSCT is going to mean a lunch of carbon for you. Preheat the oven for broil and move the top rack down to the second notch. Pull the almost-carbonized, tough SC out of the pan. Mourn its inedibility. Open bag of corn chips and munch on them during steps 8-10.
Step Eight: Use the oil you just cooked the carbonized meat in and oil up your trusty cookie sheet. Re-egg and flour other cuts of meat. Give them each a healthy shot of lemon pepper and red pepper.
Step Nine: Pop the still-edible cuts on the cookie sheet into the oven. Turn them after ten minutes or so, give them another nine on the other side (might need more if you skip the BCC snafu and the oil isn't already hot). This will give you mid-rare, chicken-fried steak.
Step Ten: Get the French bread you've been saving to eat with said cuts. Realize it has gone moldy. Curse. Substitute toasted hamburger bun with melted cheese. Eat a couple of sandwiches.
Step Eleven: Call your mom. Tell her you love her, and you would like her other copy of the BCC. Do not tell her you will probably burn it in a fit of pique, as recommended in The Sweet Potato Queen's Book of Love, because she will probably not give you her spare loaf pan like she is supposed to if she is apprised of that fact, and you will not be able to bake Chocolate Stuff next week.
Step Twelve: Call CDHSarah (or your CDHSarah equivalent) and tempt her with promises of chicken-fried steak and Bill Hicks DVDs. To achieve this latter goal, once she has eaten the PQIFsGPTDYACFS, she will drive you to Radio Shack, where you will purchase a universal remote for only $3.99, despite the fact that on Wednesday she was swearing up and down that she was not going ANYWHERE of an errand-type nature with you the next day.

Missed you all terribly. I have to work tomorrow which means bed is about an hour overdue, but I wanted to let you know that I'm back and I love you. And tell you Bon appetit.

ETA: MWN! Don't lose faith! I just had to catch up on Tomato Nation, TINO and PVPOnline before I sat down to chronicle my week, and then got a call from my boss letting me know the info I emailed him never got there, and by the time I got started with the fine-tuning you had been here and gone. Come back? Please?