Demons, Death & Double Standards: “What a Slut…”

I ask your pardon for including the word “slut” in the title. I dislike the connotations and one sided power the word carries. I imagine the word as a broken woman, dragging her dirtied feet through this patriarchal world, a shamed prostitute surrounded by self-righteous rock throwers. A man I knew died recently and, as I learned, wasn’t married to whom I (and everyone else) assumed was his spouse. The news startled me, but I knew it wasn’t my business. I instead chose to help as I was able with the memorial arrangements. I overhead the following conversation happen the day of the funeral:

“And what was with “their companion” written in the obituary…? What, they weren’t married? …What a slut…”

Ecstatic giggling followed the speaker’s judgement. I couldn’t see the group listening, but could hear parts of the conversation. I imagined the speaker’s tongue like a snake’s, split and elegant, licking the air in glee as she laughed. The group murmured some type of consensual agreement I couldn’t quite decipher. The conversation moved onto other matters, sliding easily to other interests.

I sat in my chair, shocked, my brain numbly processing what I heard. I began wondering if I was honestly in the presence of a demon.

Read more

Changing of the Winds: Mary Poppins

I’ve always been entranced by a line in Disney’s original Mary Poppins movie. Julie Andrews says this line very quietly to the children at their bedtime when asked how long she’ll stay.

“I’ll stay until the wind changes,” she announces delicately to the children. As a child, that means only one thing: she’s going away. Mary is not permanent.

This perplexed me as a child and still rattles me a little as an adult. How brave Disney was to keep this element of the story, of change and letting go. Waiting periods and change are two of the hardest things for kids to understand. I’m not sure adults win the blue ribbon, either.

Read more

Disenchanted: American Christianity

Sometimes I feel as if America has “signed on” Jesus in a contract at the White House to become their spokesman and undersigner–their “yes” man. This Jesus is Caucasian, always Conservative Republican, is allowed to have an “acceptable” beard, and goes around in sandals and a billowing white tunic, shaking hands with politicians with a Crest sponsored smile. He hands out little medals to those who oppose abortion and easily excuses marital affairs, vulgarity and any covered up sex or child trafficking. He gives flowers to women wearing Gucci who write out checks to charity to avoid taxes at tax time. He kisses white babies and applauds business owners for forming jobs and trickling down a meager sustenance to the undeserving, wretched poor.

And then, if he has enough time in his daily itinerary, he hops onto a book signing by any number of white evangelicals in the blessed world of Christian Marketing and Business. He sits proudly behind the desk and recites pitches dutifully, saying “Yep, buy this book for $29.95. Don’t bother talking with me too much or accepting pain and trials–I sure don’t have the time when there are Senate seats to be won! American Christianity is pain free, pleasure filled with blessings upon blessings–but only if you buy this book and decide you’re worth it. Say, have you seen the latest Hallmark movie? They’re all white–just like me. White, blue eyed and blonde haired, mostly…Reminds me of growing up in the Middle East…”

Is it a wonder I feel disenchanted? It’s enough to make anyone gag on their Chick-Fil-A Coke…

Read more

Broken Glass & Writing

I broke a drinking glass this morning, right next to my Labrador walking alongside of me in our dining room. My groggy brain fired information; I saw the spray pattern and I grabbed my dog’s collar. We performed a very quick, prayer filled maneuvering around the glass shards. All I thought of was her paw pads, calloused but delicate and sensitive, being cut open and bleeding. We both escaped harm and the glass was cleaned up, with multiple passes of the broom, vacuum and a damp cloth.

I’m awake now, life. And thank you, gravity. You made life interesting once more.

Read more

A Phrase I’m Wearied of Hearing: “It’s a Witch Hunt!”

The current political climate in America is, to say the very least, volatile. The sitting president has broken every rule, thrown etiquette to the four winds and buried all sense of decency somewhere out in the Rose Gardens. Like many Americans, I’m persevering through, still somewhat in shock from the election results and wondering what 2020 will bring, indeed.

One phrase of the president’s I’ve heard and read, over and over, reached a crescendo with me today: “It’s a witch hunt!” This has become (for me) the boy who cried wolf. A child’s tantrum cry of “They made me do it!”, “It wasn’t me, it was them!” and “You can’t prove anything!” If we’re honest, it’s a barely concealed boast: “I’m above the law; I can turn around anything you find with my money. I’m a very rich man. Why are you wasting your time?”

What would Orwell think, if he were alive today? I’m sure the Founding Fathers would be spitting their mead across the tables, wondering if someone misplaced their beloved Declaration of Independence in the National Archives somewhere…

Read more

The Impermanence of Legacy

I walked my Labrador this evening. Over hills, through mud, grass, gravel and turf we went, smelling, sniffing and eating things of questionable nature before I could issue a stern “Ka kah!”* Upon our walk, we came across a memorial for local fire fighters. In the sidewalk ambling up laid worn bricks with donors’ names etched. Most of the names were erased by the elements, faint letters visible sporadically, leaving nonsense to be deciphered and speculated.

We lingered only a moment, as my Lab was undertaking a smell inventory. In the pause, I became aware how short human memory and legacies are, despite salesmen’s promises. We are born with nothing; we die with nothing. As a stumbling follower of Yeshua, this doesn’t bother me. I chose to place my trust in him and his words, something I don’t consider transient. This speck of dust does hope to leave some books behind, like the Brontës did in their century.  If anything, someone can use the novels to prop open a door for another. Or level a wobbly table or two on the Enterprise. It could happen.

Read more

Baby Showers: An INTJ Female Writer’s Perspective

I hate baby showers. More specifically, I detest being around large groups of women. They smack their lips, gossip, compliment each other on their blouses, their charm bracelets and delicately ask about family affairs while devouring every dripping detail. Surgery stories are swapped, pill brands and doctor’s advice exchanged and everyone secretly ranks themselves against each other.  The news gathered up is stored away in their overstuffed purses giving them neck aches and back problems, stalwart, steadfast symbols of their socioeconomic status and success. In the car, they ask their sisters and nieces what they thought of the awful food, the cute decorations and just what the hostess was thinking. I do not exaggerate. Women are subtly, and artfully, vicious. Cue harpies, banshees and the like.

Parties are grand acts and I am the jester, acting the innocent fool and observing it all quietly, hitting up the buffet line for thirds. No wonder Jesus made more wine at the wedding. Maybe it helped him get through it, too.

Read more

Firm Women & Firm Men: Perspective

Did you like how I listed women first in the title? The order rank of the genders is apparent in our culture, day in, day out. It seems only when we’re trying to be polite (“Ladies and gentlemen…”) or heroic (“Women and children first!”) does the order get reversed. In medical school, I’ve heard the male body is studied first, female second. Why, I query? No response. Doesn’t one have the babies and the other not, I continue? I learned in college “his” represents both “his” and “her” in academic writing, no need to bother with “they” or “them”. So why not “her” represent “his” and “her”, then, if it’s all the same? No response.

I don’t believe the genders were made to contradict each other and compete for survival. I think the idea should be laughable. Being different is okay; it’s not an invitation for some twisted version of this week’s “Survival of the Fittest.” Don’t make me wear shoulder pads, be aggressive, or take only two weeks for maternity leave. I believe we were made to complement each other and work alongside one another, each of our work important no matter how it’s parceled out and done. I think this compassion and respect became lost eons ago. And here we are. Ending sentences with verbs.

Read more

Puffins & The Dreaded Job Interview

I’ve been in the hot seat of many an interview in my time. Today, I got to be on the other end and watch the hopeful recipients display their wares of skills, expertise and life experiences. It’s always seemed like such a shallow procedure, a puffed up parade of puffins, waddling up and down in their plumage before an Emperor Penguin, hoping to be named top bird. I exaggerate, but only slightly. Sometimes I cringe at the individualism and think there must be a better way…

Interviewer: “Hello and thank you for coming to the interview today. I would like to ask you some questions. But who are the people sitting next to you?”

Interviewee: “Hello and thank you for the opportunity. Why, yes, with me today are both sets of my grandparents and also my parents. And in this urn I have here are my very great grandparents who came over on the Mayflower, you see, and first colonized America. My, the stories we can tell you about their sheer willpower. That’s where I get my skills in making spreadsheets!” Read more