skeptic marriage

Looking through various wordpress posts tonight (after not logging in for months) and I kind of randomly came across the “marriage” tag.

What do you know? Most of them (at least most recent ones) were about religion – two or three on the awfulness of marriage between a christian and a non-believer. Other ones were quoting the bible as some sort of advice(?) about marriage. Here’s the thing. My husband and I are both atheists and we’re doing pretty great (he’s straight, I’m bisexual). And there are same-sex couples doing pretty great too – though for the life of me I have a difficult time when they’re christians themselves (sorry!). Okay, seriously sort of sorry. I’m a little (obviously) against religion and since the bible is kind of a pick and chose what standards various churches upkeep – most of the time anti-same-sex coupling up, it’s not the easiest thing for me to understand why someone would worship some thing that say’s “no”. Some churches are liberal or progressive or whatever term a person likes but it’s okay to say “I did this because I wanted to” and not because some church said I could while others call it a sin. If you’re gay-married and religious, have at it with comments…

In other news, I like my marriage to my “non-believing” husband and it’s a little weird that so many people need the bible or whatever religious preference to feel all high and mighty about marriage. I’ve written it before but it’s a contract. It’s something important between two people that feel extremely confident that they will want to spend their lives together. When people put it in biblical terms it’s actually less of a marriage in my opinion. It’s some sacred thing that they feel the need to honor because a god says so. I call bullshit.

I feel this way about a lot of religious stuff – follow the christian church’s teachings or you’ll go to hell… follow them so you go to heaven… follow them because you love a god and want to show respect. How about fulfilling a marriage contract because there are actual benefits to it? How about because you respect your spouse because of the person and not the spiritual being… and the benefits are not just legal benefits, but security and happiness. I am most definitely not married – nor do I stay married – because some supernatural being said to do so.

Some atheist marriages end in divorce; some theist marriages end in divorce. Sometimes there are fights, sometimes sex, sometimes boredom, sometimes adventure, sometimes vegging out in front of a television. We’re actually not so different than theists. I can relate to problems and greatness. At the end of the day, though, I cannot believe that it’s my destiny or fate or god-given. It’s cool that my husband and I got together and decided to make it official legally. It wasn’t some leap of faith when we got married – it was actually a “war-bride” situation but that’s okay.

It’s logic. Our pheromones didn’t really give us reaction – at first (now it’s great) – because although we didn’t meet online, the beginning of our relationship was spent half a world away – when he was deployed in Korea. So, I’m not so worried that the scent that gives chemistry is going to run out. We have similar values in all the right places and even if someday we go through a period when we’re not sexually attracted that’s going to be okay because he’s someone that I can relate to on an intellectual level; even if we get bored with each other, that’s okay too, we can force ourselves to take a vacation.

If theism works for people, that’s fine. But then don’t deny the theists that are fundamental mormons which have multiple wives. Don’t deny same-sex religious couples the right to get married (see, I support the cause!). On the fundamental mormons I am most definitely NOT talking about the weird shitty ass people that marry off teenagers… wait until the 20s and it better be consensual but if that’s how you go, that’s how you go.

Again, I love my marriage and I support marriage and don’t support divorce – break of contract people! – unless there is abuse; in which case, I hope those people can get out of it though I understand if they feel as though they can’t sometimes and that’s hard to know but it’s something I understand to be true.

I’m an atheist married to an atheist and we’re happy about being atheists and being married… so there!

There’s not a whole lot more I wanted to say other than I wish other people would stop thinking their marriages are so fantastic and solid because the bible tells them so.


things I didn’t expect about moving

So I’ve made references to it in my recent posts but I am planning a big move this summer… from the great state of Minnesota to the great(? don’t know yet) state of North Carolina. I read some articles about moving and how much it costs and what to keep, what to throw, what to sell, what to donate… will it be nice – or at least better than where you’re moving from?

It’s scary as shit to move across country (at least half way), because you can’t really visit the neighborhoods to get to know the real quality of life they offer. I would guess (really really hope) that people who are buying houses are actually visiting the place before they move but what of the rest of us? The people who aren’t very well off and just barely financially stable cannot visit the places we’re looking to rent. And of course landlords talk up neighborhoods like they’re the fucking best place to live in the whole United States (it IS their job) so their words mean jack shit. I am lucky that my best friend already lives in the city I’m moving to but even then, we have different tastes so maybe I ask her to tour an apartment I found on craigslist or or wherever and she tells me it’s ah-maze-ing and what if I get there and it’s unbearable? How sad would that be? Locked into a lease without being able to get out of it.

Then there’s the job thing. That might be the most vital part of a move. Literally everyone I’ve talked to has told me to have a job locked down before moving – duh! – but it’s not that easy. I’m sure employers want to have a face-to-face interview with any potential employee and that’s just not going to happen with me. I’m not spending money I should be saving for the actual move to take a flight to NC just to sit in front of someone for an hour judging me. I really like a few (hopefully hiring) companies down there and actually just mailed my first application today, but will they even call someone who isn’t yet in state? Will they maybe be interested but not hire until I’m solidly moved in? Is that a Catch 22? Move when you know you’ve got a job lined up but can’t get a job until you’ve moved… yeah it is. So, I’ll send out more resumes to wherever I can find with openings but even then, they probably won’t stay open until JUNE. I’ll have to let my boss’s know that I’ll be on the road by at least the middle of May. Grrr… Why oh why does this process have to be so hard? I’ll probably send some resume to the last job on my “dream job” list and get that one then get contracted only to get a call from the actual dream job and have to turn it down. Okay, can’t think like that! I WILL get my dream job and it WILL start when I want it to and they WILL accept a phone-interview as sufficient to hire.

I think the family/friend part has been the hardest emotionally. At first, I was so excited that I told all of my family and friends about it with pure joy. I didn’t think at all about their feelings and I regret that… a lot. I’m so excited to get out of this place that they live in and they like; worse, I am excited to be away from them – in their minds. It’s taken a lot of back-pedaling to reassure both my family and my friends that I do love them and will miss them but it’s difficult to really display any sort of sadness since I’m so happy for me. I’ve actually really thought about this a lot and realized that I’ve been spending a lot more time with everyone I care about who are (geographically) close to me but I sense myself caring less and less. It’s not on purpose but I can’t fully invest myself in their lives the way I should when I’m so focused on getting the hell out of here.

Last thing… getting rid of shit!!! Today I started going through clothes that I don’t ever wear and boxing them up for whatever appropriate place I can donate them to.  That was what I was doing right before I felt the need to blog about moving. I’ve wanted to do this anyway for quite a while. Every now and then I start to box up clothes I don’t really care for but never take them away and it’s like Christmas when I find them because as it turns out, I was totally looking for that shirt and I didn’t even know it! I feel pretty good about this boxing day (haha) and I know I’ll never unload these again because I’m only packing/moving essential clothing. A few shirts, pants, sweaters, one coat, and I can’t think of anything else. I can find a Goodwill when I get to North Carolina and go crazy. Whole new wardrobe time!!

Major kink in the chain… my loving husband… is a hoarder. He keeps everything and buys more every day. He’ll be the “problem” and hopefully we won’t end up one of those unfortunate couples who deteriorate because of a move.

I just want a simple move. I want to get rid of everything but the essentials, everything else can be bought at thrift stores until we’re good and rich and then we can buy really nice furniture and clothes and whatever else.

Cheers all!

don’t forget… please

I often tell people that I love my father more than anyone and there’s a lot of truth in that. I love my husband, my friends, my siblings and (sometimes) my mother; but my father above all. He’s had issues with bipolar disorder and diabetes but it never really affected me or my siblings. Well, over the past two years it’s become obvious that he is going through early-onset dementia.

Dementia is quite possibly the worst diagnoses you can hear about a loved one. With it comes depression, anxiety, grief and anger. We don’t really have any family history of it so I never saw my grandfather – even at 90 – go through this terrible process of forgetting things more and more every day.

I guess I didn’t know much about dementia growing up or even until the last few years. Even when my dad first really showed symptoms it didn’t hit me. He’s never been good with remembering names but some people never are; he looses his glasses from time to time but so do I; he reads books then kind of forgets what they’re about but that wasn’t new either – he’s always been just a bit forgetful and to be fair, he reads pretty intense non-fiction that any average person really needs to go over at least twice to fully comprehend. But lately, I can’t escape it all.

I used to call home at least every week; I let my dad know what was going on with me and my husband and how school and work were going and he would tell me about the latest adventure he had in various writers groups or however my relatives on his side were doing. Now when I call home, he asks, “do you have any pets?” I say I have a cat (every time) “what’s your cat’s name?” and “are you in school?” “do you have a job?” “what’s your job like?”, etc. etc. I try to grin and bear it. I mean, I guess it’s cool that he remembers my name – though not always where I live – and every time I answer his questions it seems so cool and new to him. He’s always happy to “learn” that I’m in school and I have a cat and I like my job alright enough. But it gets old; so I don’t call as often.

My dad seems pretty chill about the whole thing. He never says “dementia”, he only ever says that he’s “getting good at forgetting” in his old age. I know he gets depressed about it and sometimes talks about going to doctors and being on this antidepressant or another and that’s hard. I would’ve thought there would be some solace in knowing even if I get upset about his illness that at least he wouldn’t remember or realize that it is shitty – he should forget, right?

I thought about going to a support group for a little while but I haven’t yet nor to I think I will. I think there’s probably value in it but aside from days like today after I talked to him, I don’t feel the need to be miserable about it around other miserable people.

I’m moving this summer – 15 hours away by car – and there’s a big conflict there. I know that I need to move for my sanity and for a lot of other legitimate reasons; I need to be in a bigger city with better weather and more opportunities for better jobs as well as to be closer to my best friend and her child. But, what am I going to miss of my dad’s last few years of comprehension of who I am? It’s something I’ve talked about with friends and they are all agreed that I shouldn’t stay here where I’m miserable just to be close to my dad. I have no control and staying here isn’t going to fix him – I just don’t want to be forgotten. In the event I have kids I think it would be heartbreaking if every time I talked to him he asked me what their name(s) were. I’ve told him a few times where I’m moving but he forgets where and when it’s going to happen.

I would hope that if there are any readers out there who have been in this place, who know what it’s like to watch someone’s mind disappear and not be able to do anything about it, would leave some comments or write a post like this. I am aware that I’m not alone and no one is in this health epidemic. What does it take to stay positive when someone you love can’t remember important things about you. I’m lucky enough that he knows my name still, but what will the experience be like when even that is taken away from our relationship? What helps, what doesn’t? In my limited two-year experience the only thing that seems to help me is to forget it. Ironic? So, I’ve said my peace on the subject, now I shall read some posts and maybe find something positive to write about.

tougher ‘n you!

I’m from Minnesota and we know winter. We regularly experience weeks (months!) of below freezing temperatures and the midwest plains become adorned with roadside hills of snow, towering over even the tallest of minivans. I know transplants from Alaska that complain it just gets too cold here. But, we “weather on” and shit. Why? Because it makes us good and strong, right Mr. Keillor? (Go listen to some public radio immediately if you don’t know that reference – hint: Lake Wobegon.)

My mother sent me an email forward earlier this year that compares/contrasts various places to Minnesota and their reactions to winter storms. The gist of it is that when other people get themselves to church to pray because it’s snow-mageddon, we MAYBE have 2-hour late starts at public schools. That’s right, because we are TOUGH. We are INDEPENDENT. Which is bullshit. We probably complain about driving in the snow and bundling up just as much as people think we should if not more – we just don’t complain to outsiders. Does it really make us better to exist in such extreme temperatures? I think our lifespan is pretty decent but I also think that old people who can’t take the weather move as far away from here as possible so the stats might be a bit skewed. There are plenty of other factors, our health care is pretty fucking good – the Mayo brothers made a(n?) hospital that caters to royalty – literally. We have a fairly decent school system and people aren’t really working in horribly dangerous conditions year round. There’s a lot more to health and longevity than “braving the cold”.

Actually we do get a little bit used to it, with bad results. For about two weeks, we didn’t get above zero degrees fahrenheit and one day out of nowhere it was a balmy 15 degrees above zero and I walked around town like it was spring – left my gloves at home and everything. What do you know?… you can still get frostbite when it’s that WARM!! I ended up with the beginning stages of frostbite on my thumb and fingers. (Don’t try that at home, kids.)

In news that it’s quite possible no one cares about, I completely quit this blog. I enjoy sitting outside on my porch watching cars and writing. When it’s too cold, I sit under covers and cry… and cry… and watch old Star Trek episodes or the weather channel to make fun of people. The making fun of people, that’s where I was going! Off topic alert!

A few weeks ago I was cooped up in hell (we Minnesotans know that hell will NOT be a fire-y pit, rather and endless cold – you know, if it really existed). Anyway, the weather channel was showing people freaking the fuck out because it snowed something shy of 6 inches… Yeah, that happened in the southeastern states. I’m far from ignorant – I understand that people would and should freak out when it snows a LOT somewhere it’s not supposed to and where taxes do not go to things like snowplows and de-icing chemicals but I’m also pissed at the world that governments shut down for it when I have to get off my ass everyday and wear several layers of clothing, attempt to start a car on its last wheels and freeze my way to school and work.

This winter was a particularly bad one, and I get that. This “polar vortex” business really up-ed the game on what climate change can do to us next. But every week that we didn’t get higher than -5F, I got a little more and more depressed and then it hit me. Why the hell am I staying in this nonsense? Why?? Seriously, Minnesotans have this very sadistic sense of pride in holding the claim that we’re somehow “better” than people who don’t have to deal with getting stuck in several feet of snow even with 4-wheel drive engaged. But, why do we get pride out of living here?

Why does anyone feel a sense of pride for living a “harder” life? Why is it bad to be “soft”? No doubt there are benefits to doing something the hard way… more experience; knowing the difference between a crisis and a minor shenanigan; then being able to turn experience into knowledge and appropriately dealing with said crisis or shenanigan. But, what’s wrong with taking the experiences of the hard life and using them to give you insight on how to take the easy road – whatever that is for you?

As for me, I’m getting the hell outta’ Dodge. I’m headed south this summer – for good – so that I never have to experience the deathly temperatures my dear Minnesota has offered me these 28 years. Mind you, Minnesota gets much hotter and more humid than most people probably think in the summers – not quite as frequent as “stay home or you’ll die from hypothermia” but we get our fair share of “stay home or you’ll die from heat stroke”.

I’ll try not to be too prideful when winter comes around in North Carolina and I’m sporting a sweater instead of a parka. And by the way, thanks for reading if you did. Cheers!

my “the office”

I’ve been watching “The Office” (America style) on Netflix lately. Very funny show but basically hilarious crack-cocaine. Anyway, I had a meeting at work today and so badly wanted to make funny faces into a camera and then talk about it with producers afterward. I just think everything is funny at work now.

But, who really works in “the office” environment? Is it weird that I’ve always wanted to? I used to work at a coffee shop in a St. Paul skyway and we had all kinds of office workers come through. From the “big wigs” that randomly gave us tickets to sporting events to lowly temps that didn’t tip but I was cool with it because they probably got paid shit. Really, I felt a little jealous of all of them and maybe, if they hated their jobs as much as some office people claim to hate their jobs, they were jealous of mine. I still find the prospect of one day being employed at a business with cubicles somewhat ideal. I mean, they have consistent hours, they have a desk and computer and pictures of families and cats – how great is that? I guess I like my office but the hours are anything but consistent and we’re not dealing with something so hilarious as paper… I serve people with disabilities so when there’s a crisis, it’s an actual crisis involving people’s lives and not like we ran out of ink or something. I think it would be freeing to work in a place where I didn’t have to worry about knowing CPR because I might actually have to use it…

My favourite days are when we have meetings. Ever since I was young and my mom ditched the family for meetings on a weekly basis (oh, poor me, right?), I’ve always thought they must be really cool. And you know what… meetings later in life did not disappoint. I like to facilitate them and see how “on task” I can stay which is really weird because I’m not really a task master outside of work. Today we had a meeting during which the senior member of our exclusive (there are 6 of us) group got a text message. This is a 66-yr. old woman who just won’t quit and until last week had never had a cell phone. She got a smartphone last week and has already – sort of – learned to use it for calls and texts. Anyway, she has already figured out ringtones which I actually suspect was the first thing she asked about when she bought the phone. Right in the middle of the meeting the music for the wicked witch of the west (east?) started to play. OH damn, that was great. It marked one of the moments I’ve noticed lately which make me want to look into a camera and roll my eyes or something.

Is it weird to like meetings? Is that okay or is it some fucked up societal function we’ve begrudgingly adapted to in today’s world?

There are a few types of personalities that come out in meetings which are quite fascinating to watch. 1) the “can’t wait to leave to get back to work” 2) the “I will rock this meeting hardcore” 3) the “how can I make this meeting go on to run out the clock for the day” 4) the “I’m going to use the agenda of the meeting as a bully pulpit” and 5) the complainer. Okay, there are a lot more but I’ll go with these.

The people who can’t wait to get back to work are lame because things that actually need discussion get breezed over and they barely even listen and never talk. I’m a member of the second group so those “rock the meeting” types are my people! I suppose I have some respect for the ones that want to run out the clock because they go on and on about the most pointless shit. Bully pulpit types are amusing for basically the same reason except it isn’t pointless to them. Complainers, in meetings as with in life, are the worst. They bitch and bitch but never really come up with solutions and should really just skip meetings and go to therapists during that hour or however long it takes.

One of the members of our meetings is a pro. She actually comes in just to talk to us about other meetings; which basically means meetings are her life… which means I want her job.

But office life isn’t all meetings and I guess I have what I want except for the cubicle. There are the funny breaks during which people compare their animals to people or talk about which stores have sales or which singer/dancer deserves to win on *insert reality competition here*.

One thing about office life I don’t have – and can’t really have in my field (or climate) – is the awesome “work attire”. I’ve tried recently to ditch the sweatshirts and wear tasteful sweaters and do up my hair all perfect like but I’m not very good at it. If only I looked good in skirts… well, for now I’ll keep my jeans I guess.

I have to wonder… do cubicles rock as much as I think they do? Is a consistent 9-5 work schedule great or is it lame because there’s no “mixing it up”? What would I really think of lack-of-ink crises if I had to deal with them a lot? Would I lose some humanity in being just as concerned over a copier as I’ve been over serious mental health breakdowns of clients? Also… just how many meetings does that woman go to and how do I get her job? I hope it doesn’t involve wearing skirts…



I have been surrounded by babies and pregnancies this year. My high school sweetheart had a baby (with a close friend); my ex-boyfriend/mentor is about to be a dad; two of my 6 coworkers are expecting; my bestie is loving life with a beautiful 3-yr old; and it seems like everyone I talk to knows someone who is pregnant or a new parent. Fuck! What’s a girl to do with that much inundation? Do I have to have a baby too? Do I want to be a mom?

Let’s see… well, I certainly don’t have to have a baby… I think I want to be a mom… it’s a fertile world out there, will I just spontaneously get a bun in the oven?

I’m 28, married, I have a good job and I’ll be graduating from college in a few short months. My husband and I have always been open about talking about having kids. When we were dating I was openly opposed to having children. I didn’t have a horrible childhood but my mother wasn’t very good at being a mom and she told me once that her mother wasn’t very good at being a mom and I guess I figured I wouldn’t be good.

I’m a “hardcore” atheist but I won’t deny that there’s something to the energy about being surrounded by fertility and pregnancies and babies. I think I’ve even got to that point I’ve noticed in movies and books in which the woman sees a bunch babies and cares all of the sudden about her own potential reproduction. So, now that’s me? *sigh* Yes.

My husband and I in all of our openness have recently discussed children again. I thought about all of my friends with children and how I never contemplated them as mothers or fathers but how when their kids were born, they magically morphed into these awesome parental units. They didn’t all plan on having kids when they did but in the end, it always worked out for them. In our discussion we decided that since there’s no really right time, I would go off of birth control and just accept whatever happened. That lasted about two months and now I’m trying hard not to be upset that I haven’t gotten knocked up. Now, my brain is all fucked in the head because why the hell should I even care? I tell myself that I don’t really want a baby right now the time isn’t good, it doesn’t matter that I have a good job, he still has 2 years of school left…

Where does this “baby fever” come from? Seriously, where? Okay, biology. I get that, I like logic and I can logically be aware that since I’m in my late 20’s and I’ve got some decent genes to pass on, they want to be passed on. That’s how it works… genes want to survive, to replicate. Alright, good… some logic. But, what to do about it?

When we had our discussion, my husband said, “since there’s no right time, let’s not try to get pregnant but let’s stop trying not to get pregnant”. But, ugh, now I keep seeing the fertility all around me and keep thinking “will it happen?… When will it happen, already!?”. But then I am paranoid about buying those test strips that let you know if your life is about to get fucked up in all kinds of ways. I notice every single mood swing and every instance of nausea (I have a weak stomach to begin with) and every time my cycle is off (which it has always been when I’m not on the pill). I start to think… do I need to clean my house? What will the landlord say? Should I declaw my vicious cat?

These thoughts are so strong it’s annoying. It’s uncomfortable even blogging about it because I like to think I have a lot more on my mind and a lot more to offer with writing. But logically, I can’t stand up against biology. I can’t stare it in the face and say, “fuck you!”. I just have to go with it and hope one of us wins out. Either I stop thinking about it or I get preggers, it’s so frustrating to juggle the in-between bit.

Alright, now that it’s all written down maybe I can actually move on and get to the business of philosophizing or at least keep it out of my mind for a day or two. Here’s hoping…

hometown blues

I was born and raised in a small town in Midwest USA. As far as I know, most teenagers in small towns cry out to anyone who will listen that they want to move away ASAP. I certainly did. I remember being fourteen years old and writing in my journal that my town was cancerous. I still think there’s something to that. My hometown has a meat-packing plant and basically sustains its economy by killing living beings to spice up, package, and be sent around the globe for gluttonous consumption.

When we went on family vacations, I would always demand that my parents stop just shy of entering the city limits and I would dramatically leave the car and take a huge breath of the “fresh air” before going back into the dismal abyss. There aren’t many “pretty” places in that town. There’s a quaint enough land preserve which is nice to walk around; it has trees and other vegetation and walking paths but it’s a bit outside of town and you can’t really get to it without a car. So, if you haven’t gotten a license yet and your parents are busy, the only place to really walk around is a lake near the (meat-packing) plant. Not exaggerating, you can hear animals screaming around that lake. It was so traumatizing for me that I quit eating meat at a very young age and though I am not a vegetarian anymore, I still avoid it.

True to my words and determination, I got the hell out of Dodge and moved away – though not very far away (not far enough, I think). Anyway, I’m close enough that I go back for visits from time to time. Through a series of events (including Thanksgiving), I’ve been traveling back and forth from my hometown a lot recently. It’s made me feel very conflicted. As much as I despise that town, I recognize that I wouldn’t be who I am with the friends that I have or the husband I married if I hadn’t grown up there. I respect that because somehow I feel that growing up in such a depressing community makes people form some pretty strong friendships… or something. I suppose I don’t know where I’m going exactly with that thought but the fact is this: my best friends today are people I’ve known since day-care. This isn’t really weird to me but as I meet more and more people over the years, I find them to be bewildered by the fact that my friendships were formed before kindergarten. Are we so close-knit because of our upbringing? I don’t know. I do know that if it wasn’t for that hell-hole of a town growing up, we wouldn’t all be a part of this wonderful nuclear family we created for ourselves with all of our intensely strong bonds and oddball personalities. I also know that my childhood friends are the only ones I keep in touch with. I quit forming close bonds at the age of seventeen. Even before then, if I really think about it. I have “friends” here and there, but none so close…

Not coming from a point of egotism, my friends and I all shared similar gifts for communication and intellectual skills. We were all reading before kindergarten and some of us write particularly well, some are human dictionaries or encyclopedias, some are artistically talented and we are all above average in pretty much every category. I think the most depressing part of coming-of-age in our hometown is that the half of the group that stayed “home” are working at shitty jobs and reading Kerouac during smoke-breaks. Interestingly, none of us got a four-year-degree – I’ll be the first in May and I’m 28! So, the world says we’re not smart and that we can’t grasp positions beyond management for a food store or a production division of the meat-packing plant. But the stupidity of the United States’ higher education system should be left for another post.

The town I came from created some great people and I love my friends very dearly but I have to try not to pity the ones who stayed back. I’m happy they enjoy their lives as they are and I suppose it’s very Zen of them but the world is going to lack their contributions to it because they’ve become wage-slaves and they work then eat then read then drink or do drugs then work. It’s really no wonder that small towns across the States are infested with Meth and Heroine and alcohol abuse. What else are my friends going to do? As smart as we all were, we performed horribly in school because it was – frankly – too damn easy and without a challenge to rise to, who cares?

Going back to that small town has made me hyper aware of all of the dingy, sketchy parts of that community. I saw my friends getting high and drinking too much and I drank too much right along with them. What else do people do, really? There are no places to go after dark except bars and alcohol is an immediate escape from the shitty reality of life there. I shouldn’t “explain away” this behavior, there are many great people who lived much of their lives drunk but when I try to put my finger on why it is that everyone is looking desperately for that immediate escape, I can’t. There is some sort of trap to it, ensnaring my friends (and sometimes myself) in its harsh net of reality.

This is really just a rant about sadness and hostility I feel towards my hometown but I anticipate others will cry out “people make their own beds” or “pull your bootstraps up” or other bullshit. In fact, re-reading this post has only made me realize that even writing about that hell-hole is depressing and somehow smoggy.

religious “knowing”

I’m in an epistemology (the study of knowledge) course for my philosophy major. Lately, we’ve been discussing religious epistemology. Apparently, there’s a “knowing” of God or some other religious higher power. I am a skeptic in a class of uber-Catholics so, obviously completely lost. It’s not that I don’t know what they’re discussing, it’s just that I don’t believe what they “know” and certainly disagree with much of it.

We started our discussion on religion with a story about a man named Moses who saw a burning bush and it was God and the bush told him to get to Egypt and bring everyone with him. Okay, I believe that the story was written and I believe that other people believe it but I think that either Moses hallucinated or made it up.

They argued that God speaks to people in many ways and then we were all told to get in pairs and discuss our own religious experiences which led us to believe in a higher power. I suppose that none of my classmates wanted to be paired up with me, the lone atheist, but one particularly evangelistic person decided he would tell his story and that would help me to accept God into my life or something. He relayed a story about a woman who was about to die and she was screaming for days until a priest came in and blessed her. She calmed down and died shortly after. I may not know much about death but I’m guessing the closer a person gets to it, the more they have to start accepting it. Especially if a religious figure tells them to and tells them they’ll be off to heaven in no time. I don’t believe God stopped the crying, but I guess I respect that he experienced what he wanted to that day.

We moved on to talking about other people that have heard the word of God and have listened and done what they say he said and it was good. I asked about all of the people out there who have heard God telling them to kill there children or people who practice other religions or simply to go off of their sanity medications. What of those? Well, apparently they are sick and weren’t hearing God, maybe Satan was speaking to them… Okay, but what about Abraham who was told by God to kill his son? Well, God stepped in at the last minute and told him to stop. So, according to my classmates, it was a “test” from God to prove Abraham’s devotion. What about the Crusades and the genocide in the Old Testament? Apparently those are things that were legit at the time then corrected when Jesus came to die for our sins.

I find it hypocritical to suggest that some instances of killing are okay because God said so and it’s in he bible but other instances are due to schizophrenia or demonic trickery.

I believe that everyone takes from phenomena what they want to. I believe that there is no “knowing” of God and maybe no “knowing” of anything in the absolutist terms. There I go, being a frustrating skeptical relativist.

dealing with death

Some things I’ve learned (mostly the hard way) about death etiquette.

Recently, a friend of mine went through an horrific experience. Her dad died in freak accident and she witnessed it. I mean, what the fuck do you say about that? I remember reading about “funeral” etiquette and how it’s not okay to say “they’re in a better place” or “thank God they aren’t suffering anymore”. In my opinion none of those things are appropriate but I do have some respect when they’re used if you’re comforting a religious person about a loved one who died after a long hospitalization from a terminal illness. That most certainly was not the case with my friend. When I went to the funeral I just didn’t say anything. I hugged her and let her cry and felt myself wanting to say, “you’ll be okay” but I knew she wouldn’t, you don’t ever come back to normalcy after something so tragic. I just said, “I’m here for you”.

When I was nineteen, my best friend completed suicide. I can’t even count the number of people who didn’t know him at all that called me so that I could comfort them… that was most definitely not okay. I needed to get away and couldn’t get fast or far enough until I packed my bags and went to Hawai’i for an extended vacation 3 days after his death. It was perfect, I was with a lover and some of his friends and they had that “magic Hawai’i” way about them in which nothing they said was wrong. If it was, how would I notice? I was in Hawai’i! I could forget – for brief moments. That worked for me and I came back with a scorching sun-burn and some of the very best memories of my life while my friends and family had stayed for a funeral during which an obnoxious amount of people who never gave a fuck about my friend showed up to mourn him. I couldn’t have gone through with that without punching someone. By the time I got back, the false friends had moved on to other dramas in their lives and my close friends and I were each ready to experience our own grieving processes. Aside from that first day – before I went to Hawai’i, I didn’t cry at all. I did stop eating for a while but apparently that’s how my body reacts since I lack outward emotion.

Years went by and some older relatives died of various terminal illnesses and I simply couldn’t cry about it. I remember one death in particular – my aunt had incurable cancer and had been in a coma for a week and I was in the room with my other aunts and my mother when she died. Not “passed away” not “went to heaven”, she died. They were all crying so much and I stood there, awkward and uncomfortable. I told them I’d go tell my grandma and one aunt got mad at me because clearly she hated that I wasn’t crying and she thought that the sisters should tell grandma. Apparently they’d forgotten that my grandma is as emotionless as I am when people die… we all went together to tell her and grandma just said, “well, I figured it would be today or tomorrow”. Emotional genetics… powerful stuff. Even though it fit the criteria, I still refused to say “she’s in a better place now” because that’s not what they needed to hear. Their sister was dead. Never having experienced a sibling’s death, what do I know? Besides, I’m an atheist, how fucking disingenuous would that be? As much as they hate me for being so “coldhearted”, I have come to believe that they were grateful at least someone around had the rationality to write an obituary and figure out funeral arrangements because they certainly were passed the point of being logical. At least, my mom has told me as much. I think my aunts still distain me.

So what is it that we are all supposed to say? I think that when people are dealing with so much sadness, it kind of doesn’t matter what you say because their mind is in some other place. But what about after? What do I say to my friend who saw her father dead after a freak accident? What do I say to my mother about her sister dying? What do people say to me after my best friend killed himself? Actually, since I haven’t experienced anything but the latter, I do know what not to say. Except, never ever tell a friend of someone who’s completed suicide that they are where they want to be. No they’re not! They had some major mental health issues that either went undiagnosed or untreated or something in their brain just switched the wrong direction.

Just hug and say, “I’m here for you” and “just ask what I can do and I’ll do it”. Maybe you can’t do anything. Maybe all they want is their loved one back and you can’t make that happen. But you can do anything an should do everything in your means to help them along the grieving process. Maybe… they just need a friend.


cursing… thoughts? (explicit content)

When I was very young – we’re talking baby here – I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. He’s Bohemian and before I was speaking English, I was counting and saying various phrases in Czech. He is the one who taught me how to swear… in Czech, of course. I learned to translate one of those “bad” words into English and used it once when I was in a car with my dad and my brothers. My father pulled over immediately and gave me a “talking to” which kind of scared me because he’s the most calm and collected person I know. Well, swearing in English was out of the question but he didn’t speak Czech so I was in the clear with grandpa.

I grew up with parents who never swore (kind of obvious). It wasn’t until I was in my late teens when I heard my father curse and that was in a poem he wrote. Apparently poems are a free-zone for my writer father. He did tell me that in prose, it’s not okay to swear because it means that you can’t find other words to use which is just sad for you or something. It was too late, though. (Thanks grandpa!)

Okay, so I don’t find it appropriate when people just throw curse words around just to shock anyone who’s listening or reading but to me, they’re just words. Words that shouldn’t go unused simply because they have become taboo over time for one arbitrary reason or another.

Recently, I filled out a survey for a fellow student who’s writing a research paper on swear words and their offensive-ness. Do I have a problem with “fuck”? no; with “shit”? no; with “damnit”? no. Nor do I have a problem with “cunt” or “dick” or “asshole” or “hell” or “bitch”. I don’t have a problem with any one of those words or with any versions of them (“fuckface”, “shithead”, “dickweed”, etc.) whatsoever. At the end of the survey, he asked “what are the three most offensive words?” For that, I did come up with some words. I never use two words in particular and it pains me to even write them because they disgust me so fucking much: “faggot” and “nigger”. More disturbing is the latter doesn’t have a spell-check red underline… Ugh.

I am hopeless about correcting grammar so my ears hurt to hear “irregardless” or “ain’t” or “real” (when it should be “really”) or “cause” (when it should be “because”) and there are more like those. I’m rarely guilty of getting there, their, or they’re wrong and the same goes for two, to, or too and then there’s the your, you’re and so on. But that’s when I’m writing (obviously); also in writing, I use too many commas and ellipses but I’m not perfect and I’d never win a spelling bee so I shouldn’t be too judgmental.

Where am I going with this post? Oh yeah, I think it’s important to use words correctly even if they are curse words and for me, those are just fine… as long as they make sense in the sentence or phrase.

I noticed that I haven’t explicitly cursed in this post, excepting examples I gave, and I’m thinking back to things my father taught me after I grew up and started swearing a lot. He told me that using words that other people consider taboo should only only be used in sentences in which you want to make a point. If you’re cursing all the time, it’s expected and typical so there isn’t much you can add when you are really fucking upset or want to say something with gusto. He’s right, of course. It seems like so many people avoid swear words and don’t like them but do use them occasionally. (I don’t care how anti-swearing a person is, when something heavy falls on your toe, you will curse!) After a conversation with my husband I noticed that we don’t swear a lot and when we do it’s about loving or hating something very much so curse words underscore the “very”.

I think that all words should be valued for what they are… words. Words are powerful, they have meaning and emphasize communication between people; to express thoughts about various things. Because of the arbitrary taboo-ness of those “four letter words”, they actually have a distinct meaning in conversation. So I say, swear it up people of the world… but don’t over-use any word when you’re writing or talking because any word used too many times can and will make you seem less literate.