Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Sorrows I Have Known...

Sometimes when I freak out like I have so often lately, I look back--not with fondness but with surprise at how quickly time flies--to periods of misery from the past.

I think the point is to say: But you were so miserable. You survived. It looked grim. It looked hopeless. You just kept going. Do that now.

(Of course, there's also the thought--sheesh. I've had enough of this. AGAIN?)

The absurd thing is that when I get through one of these sorrowful periods I immediately tell myself damnit! That's the last time!

But it never is.

The good thing about looking back is that it is a kind of nostalgia where you get to remember the past...along with your recollection of melancholy comes a bit of retro. Not even really recent retro "of Playstation One and marginally larger cel phones"

Sometimes such memories are very '90s, lying on a balcony, too drunk to move and hearing above the party's roar, the dialogue from Will and Grace float up from the apartment below.

But if I spend enough time hearkening back I can get to a period 1980s retro of listening to 1960s music. A double whammy...nostalgia within nostalgia.

Like me curled up for days in bed chain smoking and crying and listening to the Velvet Underground. That's right--smoking! Indoors! Remember that?

I lived off pudding for a week or so and then hated pudding and then later developed some kind of retro pudding craving that haunts me to this day.

It was in the period of the Ice Capades and Smurfs because I do remember a friend borrowing my coat, going out tripping and having a very strange trip due to things she kept finding in my pockets--apparently, dozens of Smurf Ice Capades flyers and Swiss Miss cocoa packets.

I was artistic. Hence, I saved things. For sculptures and stuff.

Now I still am a pack rat and it makes my life hell. Nor can I explain it fully. Except with two thing: First the thought, "I might need that later." (From someone who has made no installations/sculptures/mobiles for over a decade I still can't break the habit.) Then the fact that I can become nostalgic and emotionally attached to anything--even a scrap of paper, if it is the right scrap at the right time.

I used to justify this sick collecting habit by invoking Proust...but I stopped because that's pretty pathetic.

I threw some stuff away today and it made me so happy even though I know I will need it later.

Actually, it occurs to me that my retro is kind of sad in and of itself because even when I go back to the Joy Division days--a fairly recognizable soundtrack--there's so many retro memories that are either too obscure or else badly dated by objects that fail to fit the period. Flipper? I have a retro misery memory of the band Flipper. Who even knows about Flipper anymore?

Like now--I listen to Chopin. How's that going to play in the future when I recall my current misery? Chopin--could be any damn time at all.

Oh, but I forgot, the imminent (very imminent) baby will make dating the current craziness really easy. In case I ever feel the need to look back. Hey, that's something anyway.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Hell is (some) other people

Silly me. I thought you could be a Christian and dislike Mel Gibson and not want to see his scary movie.

I guess not. Waaah! I want to be a Christian! I thought I was one. OK, a somewhat sucky one. Christianity is not easy. I can't claim I'm particularly good at it.

But, still. I didn't know I had to vote Republican to get into heaven.

Well, actually, I don't have a whole lotta confidence about going to heaven. Actually, zero confidence. I'm not that confident of a person though and maybe I will luck out the way pessimists sometimes do.

The interesting thing is that I have been told--often on planes, going to third world countries, sitting next to missionaries, that all I have to do is say: "I open my heart to Jesus. I am a sinner and repent of my sin" and automatically, almost, I go to heaven.

But like, that's so easy. And I do that every day and am riddled with guilt so I'm assuming that there must be more to it than that.

Is it because I don't vote Republican and I want a strong separation of church and state and gay marriage and all the rest? Because of that I am going to hell?

Or because I'm a selfish slob who spends 100X more money on books than I ever have helping out any other poor slobs? And I think about myself constantly? And I'm just a jerk sometimes? Etc? This is always why I think I'm going to hell.

In any case, I'm hoping God is a little less bureaucratic than saying the right words (as easy as this is) but still cuts people a bit of slack--the way I would. I would cut lots and lots of people slack!

Martha Stewart? I'd cut her tons of slack. Yes, she seems cruel and greedy but if I was the judge of the universe, I'd give her time to change. She really needs to work with the poor or something. A year or two in Burkina Fasso would do wonders for her.

Come to think of it, from a theistic standpoint, going to prison might be the best thing that ever happened to her.

Donald Rumsfeld? Warmongering? Smiling with barely disguised glee at the thought of dropping bombs that will--without doubt--kill human beings, almost all of them guilty of no crime at all? Those things are bad alright, but with a little talking to, a wider range of reading, perhaps some education in compassion he too could be brought around. Working with the poor and sick, would that do it?

Donald Trump? I'm not sure about him. I can't think of anything that would cure him but perhaps there is something.

The point is, if it were up to me, I'd give everyone a second chance.

Speaking of attempted conversions on planes I'll never forget the time I wore out the Christians with my attempts to make them more like me. Yes, most pro-secular government people scoff in scorn when a Christian comes up to share their faith. But not me--I assume we have something in common. That's right, I assume we are all Christian! They are sweet, lots of them. They get confused when I discuss my views though. And sometimes weary.

My questions to the ones on the plane were genuine. I just thought it was funny that I was way more vociferous and fanatical than any Christian has a right to be.

Well, first I wanted to know why they went to convert people in Central America. Especially Guatemala. They are really very religious there, you know. Shouldn't they go to, say, the Village? If you want to find the Godless I would assume Laurel Canyon or Marin County would be a better place to start.

I can't remember what they said about that. But then I wanted to know another thing about the whole being gay is sinful schtick. Because that I simply don't get--Why? And isn't it really cruel in any case to assume that God would demand a lonely loveless life for anyone--which is what you get if you are gay and can't be with the one you love.

What it came down to, this one rather intelligent woman said, you have to love Jesus so much that the earthly things--like human sex and love--don't matter to you.

Well that again makes little sense since we are always grateful to God for the earthly things like love.

We got on to why you have to believe in Jesus, specifically. That seems so random. You are going to hell with eternal torment just because one thing didn't seem convincing to you, or was outside your culture, etc.? Isn't that a bit extreme? And why not be given a second chance, later, when you are dead? Why the requirement to believe with the expiration date of death?

OK, I won't bore you as I did them. But I'm telling you--they actually started laughing and I swear they thought I was hysterically funny. I got this feeling that deep down inside, they agreed with me. Maybe I was just imagining it. But I know if I had more time I could have brought them around. They wanted to watch the in flight movie, though.


As for the faith, the wages of sin, etc. I am now having my eyes opened rather brutally by

Fried Green al-Qaedas

World O' Crap

and Sadly, No!

Seriously, the World O' Crap guy/gal is truly brilliant. I thought my asides about my two favorite targets (over Sunday brunch, not on this blog) William "What the hell is your point?" Safire and Thomas "Non-Sequitur" Friedman were good...but World O' Crap makes me look like the amateur I am.

Their theme this week is the Devil and I am (no joke) scared by scary Devil movies. A whole lot. But they scared me even more last week just by making it obvious that there are actually people...maybe lots of people?...who actually want to turn the U.S. into a theocracy. A crazy theocracy. So if you are weak of heart maybe avoid these blogs with their tales of the theocrazies...