Thursday, May 25, 2006

The birthday season

It has begun. The birthday season (er, my birthday season, at any rate) is upon us. I'm leaving for a trip to Kentucky and Tennessee so that I can properly celebrate. My 35th birthday is next week and I thought a big celebration was in order, especially in light of all that's gone on for me over the last year. It's time to celebrate life!

As usual, I am running flight leaves in two and half hours and I am still doing laundry and burning CDs (I plan to do a lot of driving I think and can't be tuneless -- I'm including lots of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Over the Rhine, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lyle case you just had to know)...and, of course, blogging.

I hope I won't have to do a repeat performance of that time I ran through the airport barefoot (never had time to put my shoes back on after the screening) so that I could catch that plane. By the way, those little moving walkways? They're made of something like razor blades. Just in case you ever are running around an airport barefoot.

I'll be hanging with my cousin Anne (or, how we say it in our Norwegian family -- "cussin" Anne) and her husband and kids in Kentucky. I'm also going to be seeing Roy and another guy from Then my friends from South Carolina are going to drive to TN to meet up with me for an Over The Rhine concert (they have some mp3s here) and lots of fun on "the actual day" (that's an inside joke for family Mom gets a wee bit obsessed about celebrations being on "the actual day").

So here's my offer, left over and still good from my recent California trip. If you're a reader of my blog, or a GCNer (so, not part of the Phelp's clan, not an ax-murderer and not a crazy homophobe) and you're in the Nashville or Lexington areas, send me an e-mail.

All the rest of you still have time to shop!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


There's a bit of discussion going on in the comments for my last entry concerning the true origins of homosexuality. Turns out, it might be chocolate chips. Who knew?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Bigotry is contagious

Have you heard how gays have shortened lifespans? Or that gays suffer from something called "Gay Bowel Disease?" That homosexuals perpetrate half of all child molestations?

All of these lies (and there are many more where these came from) can be traced directly to one Paul Cameron. He has manufactured lies by writing his own studies that usually link to actual scientific studies, but distorting the findings of the scientists. It was actually for this reason that he was expelled from the American Psychological Association in 1983 and the Nebraska Psychological Association in 1984.

Not that any of this slowed him down. He continued to go on to write more scientific-sounding papers and studies, linking to his own earlier works. Other people linked to his bogus studies and then the religious right picked up those studies and cited them. It's an endless cycle that's just kept on going. Those who hate gays (and even those who wouldn't claim to hate gays at all) don't really care to check their facts and find out the sources of the source. The scientific community has pretty much ignored him since he's mostly been self-published or published in obscure journals.

I'm going to interrupt this news brief to tell you a little story.

There was a girl who was raised in a fundamentalist, Christian home. She loved to read and would devour anything written. Her parents received copies of Dr. Dobson's monthly newsletter and the American Family Associations newsletter. When she was fifteen she read "Special Report: AIDS" which blamed gay men for AIDs (and said they were intentially spreading it) and called for tattooing AIDS patients in the face. While she'd read about homosexuals for some time, when she was sixteen, it was there that she read that there was a Gay Agenda and it involved men molesting boys at every opportunity! It was there she fully formed in her head the notion of what it meant to be "homosexual." Being homosexual meant doing dirty things and teachers having sex with boys.

After she graduated from high school, in her home state of California, Representative Dannemeyer published "Shadow in the Land: Homosexuality in America." He called gay people the "ultimate enemy." Her parents received material from the Traditional Values Coalition that stated gay people should not be allowed to serve in the Military because other soldiers would get AIDs from the poor hygiene of the sick and dying AIDs-infested soldiers.

By the age of 21, she would spend nights alone in her room, drinking herself into oblivion in order to deal with the reality that she, too, was one of those homosexuals. The self-hatred ran deep and seemed to know no bounds. She would wake up, hungover, with "die, lesbo bitch, die" written on her skin in permanent marker. It seemed an impossible task to sort out her orientation and conceive of any kind of a life outside of disease, misery, and hatred. She gave herself non-permanent tattoos to reinforce the hatred, almost as if she was preparing for receiving an indelible state-ordered one in the future.

That girl was me.

And Paul Cameron was behind or working with all of those hateful organizations and "research" that came into our house on a regular basis.

As a community, gays still can't live down his old and debunked statistics. As recently as last year, Rob Parsley (a Christian televangelist) quoted some of Cameron's anti-gay statistics. They included "only 1 percent of the homosexual population in America will dies of old age, the average life expectancy for a homosexual in the United States is 43 years of age and although homosexuals represent only 2 percent of the population, they're carrying 60 percent of the known cases of syphilis." These statistics are directly from Cameron's so-called "research" and they were discredited years ago.

We have the chance now to stop another set of bogus statistics from having a life for the next 20 years or more.

Recently, and how this happened no one can still understand, an actual legitimate journal, the Journal of Biosocial Science, published a paper of his. This is a Cambridge University Press Journal. This is what Paul Cameron has been waiting for for a long time.

The paper is called "Children of Homosexuals and Transsexuals More Apt to be Homosexual." The first words are "'Common sense' holds that homosexuality is 'contagious'" and goes downhill from there.

Where does he get his data from? He says he's getting it from three other "books." OK, so what are these books? Studies? Research books?

Nope, they're just books. Non-research books. Books you can buy on Books that the authors never intended to have used to bolster anti-gay "research." Books that were not research to begin with, but books intended to approach a broad range of issues using the stories of kids with Gay parents.

One of these books is Abigail Garner's Families like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is. Abigail writes that when she found out about the paper, "I was shocked. I had interviewed over 50 adult kids for my book. Cameron had broken down my sample by gender and sexual orientation of the the parent, and the gender and sexual orientation of the offspring. He did the same for two other books, tallied up who dates men and who dates women and concluded that this sample is reflective of the broader population of people with gay parents."

She later clarifies, "In fact, I had made a point of having a roughly even number of straight kids and second generation kids so that both views would be evenly represented in the book. In other words, because of the goals of my book, I deliberately aimed to have 50% of the kids interviewed to be queer. Not because it is statistically reflective of the population, but to give it balance of perspective."

The press release about this article has gone out on the ChristianNewswire--It goes out to all the major Christian organizations.

Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin has done an excellent job of analyzing the article in question. Abigail Garner has been in contact with the both the Journal of BS (er, Biosocial Science) and other organizations to try to get this thing nipped in the bud. She's had no response from them. Jim Burroway has also contacted the JBS with no success.

Unless we can stop it, I see no reason why this won't be one more tool in the religious right's aresenal against gay parents (and this affects kids of gay parents who don't have the right to have both parents be legal guardians, gays who want to adopt, etc). There's a lot at stake here.

I don't want any other kid to hate themselves or live in as much fear and shame as I did. It's taken me years to sort myself and my orientation out. I wish I could have done that in an atmosphere of love, support, and truth--not bigotry based on lies.

That's what's really contagious. Not homosexuality, but the bigotry of Paul Cameron.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Giving thanks where it's due

After reminiscing with my friend Sheila about instructors and staff at the Junior College we attended in Santa Rosa, tonight I sent the following e-mail to my former academic counselor:
Karen, I have no idea if you remember me (frankly I'd be surprised if you did, it's been so many years).

I attended SRJC in 91-93 (roughly in there). I was a floundering art major who didn't plan on going to University until you got in my business about it. I think I met you initially because I was friends with a girl (XX) who had attempted suicide and you were her academic counselor. So I went to talk to you to let you know she'd be missing classes and you were the first person who asked how
I was doing about the whole thing! So I started going to you for my academic counseling.

Anyway, you were pretty much the only person encouraging me to continue my education. My parents were fundamentalist Christians who didn't believe in helping me financially with school (they didn't think I should go, and had said that if God wanted me to go, he would provide). Needless to say, it was a real struggle for me to even find it within myself to complete the process for loans and pursue a transfer to one of the UCs. But you encouraged me and helped me to fill out all the paperwork and get the transfer agreement process started.

It had honestly never occurred to me that I might be good enough to go to a University or even a State college--I had never even taken the SATs or planned on getting a degree (I remember you saying "you have a 3.9're smart!"). I truly didn't think I would ever be able to do that. I ended up graduating with honors, too, in 1995, in spite of a lot of family problems during that time. I really have you to thank for it.

I recently had the opportunity to walk around SRJC while on a visit back to CA (I live in Denver now). I thought of you, of course, and wondered if you were still there, or if I could find your info to thank you. Anyway, I know you may feel you've got a thankless job sometimes, but I just want to let you know you changed my life.

Thank you


If you're reading this and you have the chance to touch the life of a student, remember that you have no idea the difference a little encouragement could make.

(I'll also add that while she probably thought my year spent at the Bible college was a waste, and couldn't understand how my parents could take the stance they did, she never let that color her judgment or how she spoke to me about them. She didn't understand it or my faith, but she respected that I wasn't at a place where I was able to fully question the reality in which I'd been raised. I really appreciate her for that. Sometimes it's not in someone's best interests to try to shake all their foundations loose; sometimes all that's needed is a nudge in the right direction--they'll figure it out over time at the pace that's right for them.)

The travelogue

So my eyes and the perpetual headache (but not a tumor!) make blogging not so very much fun right now, but I really want write about my trip to California.

Hands down, this was the best time I've had back in California, since I moved away to de-gay in 1998.

The last time I was in the Bay Area, in 2003, nothing felt right to me. I thought that I would go back and have a fantastic time and feel wonderful (like I was "home" again). And I just didn't. Here's something I wrote upon my return in 03:
We went over the hill to Santa Cruz the day before I left, and it just felt different to me this time. Different...weird...different...sad. It was just like...this isn't my life anymore. Yes, I lived here for 5 years, went to college here, came out here, met my best friend (the fencer) here, started my career here, "found Jesus" here. And yet all of that seemed so removed. It was a weird feeling. I felt disconnected from everything. Like it wasn't a part of me anymore. I don't know how to explain it - or why it was important and made me feel so down. Even the ocean seemed sad that day. Everything just seemed gray and blah. And I loved it, sort of, but it wasn't home anymore. And I don't feel like here is really home either.
This time everything felt wonderful and happy to me. The difference? Me, and the fact that I am comfortable in my own skin for the first time in so many years.

On this visit I was at a place I love (the Bay Area), coming from a place I call home (Denver) and I now know who I am. The last time I was there I felt caught between who I had been (as gay and out) and who I'd been recently (as ex-gay) and who I felt like I was becoming (something more ex-ex-gay), and I just really wasn't comfortable in my own skin. Everything in Santa Cruz seemed like loss to me then. And there wasn't anything in Denver I felt like coming home to. I wasn't sure if I identified as gay or straight, Christian or not. I was in limbo land, looking for a place to call home.

(Wow. Reading back on those old journal entries from 2003 makes me realize how far I've come.)

So here's a bit of a travelogue of my trip (feel free to skim - it's long and probably boring to those who don't know me or aren't familiar with the Bay Area):

I flew in Thursday night and drove into San Francisco. I was amazed at how I still know how to get everywhere. I parked at Coit tower and walked down and back up most of Telegraph hill. I didn't see any wild parrots, but I did see tons of flowers and amazing gardens, not to mention the gorgeous view of the bay. I really need to get a camera.

As I was driving through San Francisco, I drove up a street with the most ridiculous incline, even for San Francisco. I really think this has got to be the steepest street in San Francisco. The smell of melting tires and overworked clutches brought back memories as we inched up this street (there was a stop sign at the top of the street, so it was lurch, burn rubber, and go and then slam on the brakes every few feet). It felt like I was in a ride at a theme park. I kept thinking my glasses were about to slide off the back of my head, and I remember feeling thankful I was seat-belted in. If I'd been in a convertible I know I would have lost things out the back of the car. Anyway, I get to the top of the hill and was greeted by a yellow sign that said "Hill." Thanks, San Francisco!

I ate dinner at Fisherman's wharf (I actually found free street parking, if you can believe that)--calamari and clam chowder--and bought french bread from Boudin's. As an aside, this is the best bread ever. I recommend the garlic and asiago cheese volcano bread. Real sourdough bread just cannot be made anywhere else but San Francisco!

I then drove down to San Mateo to catch my fencing friend, Janine, finishing up her class. This is the first time I've seen her since she got her Master's (the biggest difference that I see, since I don't know anything about fencing, is that she gets to wear black now, instead of white, and that she's super smart since she wrote an entire thesis on "The Decline of Right of Way"). I felt really proud and dorky watching her, reminiscing on when she first started studying fencing, and how long a route this has been for her. Here's a pic of the two of us together over the weekend.

I stayed with the Maestro and Maestra that night (her husband is also a fencing Maestro) and then we went to Santa Cruz the next day. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and while Janine got a massage, I had a leisurely breakfast at a Vegetarian restaurant that Peterson would have loved (they always look at me funny at these places when I ask for food with no soy--I'm allergic). Janine and her massage therapist (also a friend) and I ate lunch by the beach in Capitola. It was such a wonderful time. Janine and I also visited fabric and yarn stores so she could feed her many hobbies (hey, I can't complain, we picked out fabric for her to make me a new purse, and also fabric for a kitty quilt). And really, we could hang out at a pest-control convention or something and have fun...

Saturday was the GCN meetup. At this point I was staying with Brad, a wonderful GCNer. We had a picnic and played croquet. I am clearly not an expert at this game, although somehow I did end up coming in third. I may not rock at croquet, but here's a hidden talent of mine. I can play a song on the piano laying upside down on the bench with my arms crossed over each other. The best part is that I learned this skill at the age of possibly 9 or 10, from watching the Lawrence Welk show! It was my favorite "show and tell" event as a kid, and I guess still is now. I suppose it will always work to break the ice.

Here's one more pic of my GCN friend Sherri and I pretending to "fence" for Janine's amusement. I don't think she was amused. :)

Sunday was Mother's Day, so Janine and I had an un-Mother's Day celebration. We hung out in sunny Los Gatos all day, going into shops, buying beads and other girly things, eating at Pizza My Heart (my favorite Pizza place from Santa Cruz) and just generally having a good time. We had some good talks too, especially when I was suffering stabs of guilt about the situation with my own Mom. Janine was very supportive (she and her brother have not had any contact with their parents in years), but also reminded me that it's easy to only remember the good things, especially as one gets further away from having any contact. I was thinking of how I wished I could take my mom out for Mother's day, and spend time with her like so many other mothers and daughters were doing all around us. But there is too much water under the bridge at this point. Too much hurt, coupled with her complete unwillingness to address any of the issues honestly. So while I looked around and wished that I could have a happy Mother's day with my mom, the reality I'm sure would have been far different, and it would have left me more wounded in the end. I think it's good for me to keep that perspective.

Monday morning I drove up to Novato (north of San Francisco) and hung out with my friend Sheila. We haven't seen each other since 1997 (we think). The weird thing is that we pretty much looked the same, except for my longer hair and purse-toting ways. We drove out to Bodega Bay and spent the day there. I got more seafood (crab is in-season!) at Lucas Wharf. At the end of the day, I did my ceremony with the box. I'll write more about that in a separate post, perhaps. I think it was really healing and gave me a bit of closure. I still keep seeing the box bobbing in the water, going in and out of the foam, surrounded by dense fog. It was an important time.

That night Sheila and I drove into Santa Rosa to go check out the Junior College where we met. We walked all through Analy Hall (the art building where the sign was almost continually defaced, reading "Anal Hall") and Emeritus Hall. We were looking for past instructors but many of them have moved on now. Still, both of us had so many experiences there, good and bad, and we each grew up a lot during our time there, so it was fun to reminisce.

I stayed that night in Richmond and hung out in Bezerkely (Berkeley) and San Francisco the next day. It turns out I'm a great travel companion. I really like traveling by myself and not really having any plans. I drove around the east side of the City and then went over to the west side to spend some last moments at the beach before I had to go back to the airport.

All in all, it was one of the best vacations I've had in many years (maybe one of the best ever).

I'm leaving in a week to go to Kentucky and Tennessee for my 35th birthday bash, so we'll see if that can top this. Maybe I'll even get a camera before I go (an early birthday present to myself?)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

It's not a tumor

Just thought you might be interested to know that I probably don't have a brain tumor. It's also unlikely that I'm going blind (remind me to cancel that order for books on CD).

I had convinced myself a few weeks ago that I was going blind...but I think now that it's only a sinus infection that has come to live in the area around my eyes. It's to the point where I really can't stand reading and I often close one of my eyes to be able to focus well on something, especially when tired. And of course, there's the little fact that my eyes are constantly watering and there's pain behind my eyes. You can see where I might have taken these symptoms and run with them, right?

I had a coworker who once told me that he thought I was a necrophiliac. When I laughed and said, "I don't think that word means what you think it means..." he said "Oh, you're right. I meant kleptomaniac." Eventually he settled on "hemophiliac." (I'm not that, either.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I do in fact know the way to San Jose

And I'm leaving on a jet plane in a few hours.

I thought I'd get a few good blog posts up before I left but, shockingly, I left everything to the last minute, and didn't check when my flight actually leaves until last night (turns out, like every time, it's much earlier than I thought).

I know that "leaving it for the last minute" thing comes as a great shock to those who know me well. Although, if you're a client of mine, I'm not talking about your work, of course. That always gets done on time, every time, and I'd never dream of leaving it until the last minute. (Actually, this is true...I don't know why but if it's for a client, I'm all over it...maybe I should just pretend that all my personal business is for pay?)

Anyway, back to my trip. I'm heading out to California today for a well-deserved break and time with good friends. I'll be staying with my friend Janine, one of the only classically-trained Italian female fencing Maestros in the U.S. I'll hit the tail end of one of her classes tonight, and we'll spend the next three days hanging out, eating In-N-Out burger, and generally just doing a whole lot of nothing. We do plan to make a trip to Santa Cruz tomorrow, to check out the beach and maybe visit some old haunts (we were roommates for five years there).

I'll also be spending time with Brad from GCN (he's putting me up for three of the nights I'm in San Jose). We'll also have a mini-GCN meet with Bay Area folks on Saturday and I'm looking forward to that. If you're in the San Jose/Bay Area and would like to meet up with us (and you're not an ax-murderer or part of the Phelps' clan), shoot me an e-mail (it's on my profile).

On Monday I'm going to visit my friend Sheila. Sheil and I met in the fall of 1991. We had a humanities class together and also ended up riding the same bus with a crazy assortment of characters. We became pretty quick friends after we finally got up the nerve to talk to each other (about homework or something benign). We did a lot of hanging out and she witnessed a lot of changes in my life over the years. When we first met, I had just come out of the Bible college and was still a very vocal Christian (although suffering privately with my own doubts and a drinking problem). I just came across one of the papers I wrote for my humanities class, and it's really embarrassing. I think I was trying to convert my professor, although I was so unarmed for any kind of battle of wits on the issues.

Sheila came with me when I checked out the University of California at Santa Cruz (which ended up in a very funny incident in San Francisco when my old Nissan Sentra broke down on 19th Avenue and Sheila freaked out because she had to get home to wash her hair). I'm sorry, Sheila, I'll let it go one of these days. I came out to her over the phone (we hardly saw each other once I was in Santa Cruz - I'm not sure why), and she was always supportive of me. She was one of the many friends that I completely abandoned when I moved to Denver to be ex-gay.

We got in touch again just a few weeks ago, and I'm really looking forward to seeing her.

Tuesday I might spend up in Sonoma County area, where I was born and partially raised. I am toying with the idea of going out to Bodega Bay and doing something with the box of stuff that I have been putting together. I'm not sure if I'm going to end up doing that or not. We'll see. I just have really fond memories of being at the beach in Bodega Bay with my family through the years (my mom probably introduced me to that beach as an infant).

So, that's my story. If I owe you an e-mail or a phone call, it probably won't happen until next week. Maybe Max and Sophie will blog in my absence...that would be interesting (and perhaps instructive) to hear their side of the story for a change.

Happy Mother's day to all the mothers that read my blog, especially my sister. You're a great mother, sweetie. I love you.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I'm with stupid

After telling my therapist about my angst last week over the God/Satan cause/effect debate that spiraled out of control from the purse-thievery incident, my therapist says, "You want to know what really caused all that happening to you?"

(Do I?) Sure.

"You had a real lapse of good judgment. You did a stupid thing."

There's a reason she gets the big bucks.

Amen for personal responsibility. And amen for truth-tellers.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Good times

I have had a tremendously great weekend.

Last night I attended a Denver Soulforce event. The new director of Soulforce, Jeff Lutes, flew in from Texas to be with us and tell us about the upcoming action at Focus on the Family in July. It sounds very exciting, with the added bonus of Chad Allen and Billy Porter being there. But where are the famous lesbians? Why don't we get any famous lesbians? Ha. Ah well...I'll live. That's not the important part of the event, in my opinion, and isn't why I'd participate.

Last May I attended May Day at Focus on the Family, and it was a very important time for me. I had just seen Peterson's show, Doin' Time in The Homo No Mo Halfway House and was trying to come to some kind of terms with my own failure to experience orientation change, and was feeling very emotionally undone.

At that point, I still wasn't connected again with the gay community. I didn't know hardly any other gay people in Denver (well, unless you count ex-gays), had not had any contact with my parents in almost five months, and there I was standing outside of Focus on the Family, the headquarters of James Dobson (whose parenting methods I wrote about here).

The day after the rally, over 100 of us went back to Focus on the Family, which had closed its doors to visitors, in honor of our visit. We were forbidden to set foot on the grounds. The group stood vigil and sang as the Reitan family were arrested. I just couldn't hold back the tears. It felt as though I was personally experiencing the weight of the rejection by the Church that queer folks often feel. I was reliving every unkind word and deed I'd experienced from those who profess Christ and I was hearing all of Dr. Dobson's cruel and hateful lies against his fellow Americans, and (whether he wants to admit it or not) fellow Christians. I was standing outside Focus on the Family, with all kinds of other families, and we weren't allowed in. We weren't family. We weren't the right kind of family. It affected me in a deep and profound way.

The debriefing time afterwards was just as important for me. I felt connection to these other people who had stood up against injustice with me. There were straights, gays, all of us together. And we were our own family, and we were loved, and we loved on each other. I got to thank Randi, Phil and Jacob Reitan for willing to be our spokespeople; for willing to be arrested trying to deliver their letter to Dr. Dobson.

I left there energized and changed. Along with Peterson's show, it made me realize how important it is to tell our stories. I think that week in 2005 was absolutely pivotal for me in my journey. Until that point, I'd been stuck and floundering. I didn't know how to get beyond my ex-gay journey, and I was just...lost. So, all that being said, I'm looking forward to this next Soulforce Action focused on Focus and the untruths being spread by Dr. Dobson and his crew (for information and quotes about what Dobson has said, click here - it will automatically download a 1.4 mb PDF).

Whew, I didn't plan on writing all of that. Anyway, last night was a great night, connecting again with many of the Soulforce folks that I'd met last year. I hope to begin seeing a few of them more regularly, as I'm realizing how much I need to enlarge my circle of gay-affirming friends.

Today I had brunch with friends from one of the agencies I work with. They are an awesome couple. Kathryn is a talented poet and Joel is an equally talented, if quirky, designer and...well, it seems like he dabbles in a lot of things. Hmmm. That didn't sound as flattering as I meant it.

Anyway, brunch. Yes, it was fun. They collected a couple of friends in order to celebrate Kathryn's birthday and we had a lot of fun getting to know each other. The biggest shock out of this whole thing was to find out that one couple actually used to be good friends with my buddy Peterson, way back when he lived in NYC. That was a bit of a shocker. It is indeed a small world. They also know a friend of mine from the ex-gay ministry here in Denver. Then there was Bonnie, an incredible artist (check out her work; it really inspired me) and truly funny person. I hope to see them all again.

It was just a great time and something I really needed after the last week (heck, after the last few months). I'm going to be spending next weekend in California with one of my best friends. She doesn't have any contact with her mother (similar situation, somewhat, minus the gay thing) and we are going to have a non-Mother's day celebration of some sort. Or something. It will probably involve a trip to Trader Joes and In-N-Out though, you can be sure of that.

If only silly was the word...

A postcard from today's Post Secret update. Post Secret might be one of my favorite Sunday things....

Friday, May 05, 2006

Name it and blame it

Over the years I've been able to put a lot of my past to rest; to change negative patterns and behaviors. But it's not always easy to change ingrained thinking patterns, is it? And they sneak up on us sometimes.

I have a lot of thoughts and beliefs that feel like they are woven into the very fabric of my being, no matter how irrational they may seem to others (or even to myself at times). One of the biggest things I battle against is the notion that hard times happen because of something I've done wrong (good times I'm not so much concerned about--funny that).

I grew up learning that bad things could be blamed on either Satan or God. Satan, because you had done something bad and God had turned you over to him. Or because you had done something good/righteous and so Satan was suddenly taking notice of you and harrassing you. God could also cause calamity as a test of your faith and righteousness. But he could also cause bad things to happen as a means of correction for a misdeed, or as a way to communicate something important.

Good things could be attributed to God blessing you, or they could also be a result of going further away from God. Huh? Oh yes, because if you are further away from God, Satan might reward you for being his pawn, or at least not actively torment you, because you're weren't causing him any concern.

So I guess there's a 50% chance of blaming the right entity. Not bad odds. Although I still am uncertain as to how we should know who is to blame. Flip a coin?

Now, to be fair, every great once in a while I'd hear "the rain falls on the just and the unjust." Meaning, basically, "shit happens." There's no reason. It just is. But that was pretty rare.

I grew up with my parents asking me if I had unconfessed sin which, when coupled with taking communion, was causing my frequent and prolonged illnesses (actually, it was unconfessed food allergies, among other things).

When it would rain on a day that was set aside for, say, an abortion protest, then clearly it was Satan trying to attack the saints.

My parents also tell a story about how they couldn't sell their house because they were (unbeknownst to them) tithing improperly. When they realized the error and corrected the situation the house sold. God was withholding blessing to alert them to their error.

I have a friend who was diagnosed with MS a week before her wedding. A much-revered Christian friend of theirs actually had the nerve to tell her she thought it was a message from God that she should not marry her future husband (this husband, by the way, has stood by her through amazing physical deterioration for over 10 years now).

I remember being so ill at times (this only a few years ago) and thinking that if I continually prayed and sang praise and worship music (known as "offering the sacrifice of praise" to God), that I would heal faster. God would see my faith and be moved to heal. It would break the power that Satan had over me.

It used to confound me when I'd see nonbelievers with lots more money and outward success than I saw in our family. My parents were incredibly faithful with their money and giving. They supported numerous missionaries and tithed 10 percent religously, no matter what our financial situation was (sometimes quite dire; I've heard stories of us living on $400 a month and I know they almost lost the house on at least one occasion).

I'd ask my parents about it (you know, the neighbors who were unmarried, living in sin, and seemed to be "blessed" by earthly standards) and the response would be something like, "Well, they are getting their reward on earth--ours is in heaven" or "That's because Satan doesn't like the fact that we are doing the Lord's work, so we have more difficulties."

A guy I used to go to church with is now working with a pro-life/anti-gay/anti-Muslim organization and writes:
There have been spiritual attacks, but that's to be expected with the pot we're stirring. We're messing with systems that have been in place for a long time. Too long. Religious spirits have had dominion over the Church of New England for far too long. The're manifesting in crazy ways all over the place. The occult has deep roots here too. We've had to battle unusual sickness and confusion at every turn.

So after 30-some years of this kind of thinking, when things happen like, oh, I don't know, my purse being stolen, my glasses breaking, not having a cell phone or money or ID, and RTD having the unmitigated gall to launch an inane ad campaign, I naturally begin to it Satan? Is it God? Is it a sign?

I've heard it described as magical thinking. A friend called it superstition. I grew up just thinking it was the way things were.

And now it manifests itself in not reacting to bad things that happen. Being cheerful in spite of negative things, until a few days later I melt down under the pressure of not acknowledging my own feelings and emotions. I go through cycles of denial, guilt, shame, blaming myself, feeling the victim, woe is me, what am I doing wrong, what am I doing right, etc. It's not really a pretty picture.

I think I have this thought that if I don't acknowledge how bad something is, then Satan can't "win." See, I just know I can fool that Satan into picking on someone else if only I just act like nothing bad has happened! Or if I flipped the coin the other way, it goes like this: if I don't acknowledge how bad something is, I show God that I'm not looking to my external circumstances for my happiness (so, did I pass the test, God? Huh? Can you bless me now?)

I find it interesting how I can still hold onto these inconsistent beliefs (I mean, the reasons behind why something bad or good happens--at least in many Christian circles--couldn't be more contradictory), while not necessarily believing in them logically.

Now I'm trying to figure out where to go from here. How do I learn just to roll with the punches? To be calm in the midst of the storm not because of the reward I may get, or to avoid further calamity, but just because it is how I choose to live? How do I acknowledge my emotions (anger at being robbed, sadness at what was lost, frustration, etc) and not feel as if I gave in to a nameless, faceless enemy?

How do I stop trying to appease or please this strange and capricious God? How do I learn that life isn't about trying to outsmart Satan? How do I learn to just live in the moment and experience life as it comes--the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly--without trying to find some great meaning or some cosmic entity to blame or praise?

I do exist!

Quick update: My birth certificate arrived and I have a temporary driver's license (although no picture; hope that won't cause problems at the airport). I also got my debit card activated and was able to cash those checks. Hooray for money and ID! Now onto the hurculean task of filing all the paperwork to dispute all the charges made to my credit cards by the thieves. I also have been able to get in contact with some friends, so not feeling as isolated. And I saw the touring show of Les Mis last night. For my theatre-snob friends, I don't care what you think. ;p

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hide your bad advertising!

This has been a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (week, month, etc).

Perhaps delayed reaction from last weekend.

I just feel like most of my friends don't really give a shit.(OK, that's just dumb)...moving on...

It is driving me crazy that I can't call people.

I hate hearing commercials reminding me it is almost Mother's Day.

I hate that I just found out I don't have a superdrive on my mac G5. I paid for it! I special ordered it! I don't have it. It's too late to do anything about it.

I hate the fact I never bothered to notice that I can't burn DVDs until now, when I need it, nearly two years after I bought the machine.

I hate it when I get my hopes up about something that doesn't happen.

I hate the fact that I can't get a copy of my own police report, detailing the theft of my ID, without showing picture ID.

I hate this certain agency I'm working at and all of their font issues. Every time I work there, some crap with the fonts.

I hate the so-called Christian organizations that take advantage of my loved ones.

I hate the stupid new ad for RTD (Denver Metro bus system) that says "It all started on a bus...Rosa Parks...(1913-2005)" - WTH? Yeah, it all started on a bus cuz the stupid bus drivers wanted her to move to the back. She didn't. Then she walked. She wasn't on the bus. Neither were a bunch of other people. All these people not paying money to the bus company so they could prove they were fully humans and deserving of sitting wherever the hell they wanted. The bus became a symbol of the racism that was endured on a daily basis and is still endured on different levels to this day. This makes me want to ride a bus how exactly? Stupid advertising.

Wow, when I start criticizing random advertising, you know it's been a bad day.

I am in a mood, I guess you could say.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Very yay

Wow, blogger is sure acting up. It just posted five versions of the following that I wrote and never was able to post yesterday:
NOW I'm panicking.

I can't get my driver's license replaced without a birth certificate or passport.

I can't get my birth certificate without a sworn, notarized statement that I am who I am (per a new law passed in California to prevent identity theft). This, of course, will need to be based on ID, which I don't have.

I can't get a passport without the birth certificate.

I can't get on a plane (scheduled for May 11th) without some form of ID.

No one seems to be able to help me.

The DMV is insistent that I can't get my driver's license replaced without this government ID (birth certificate).

This could all be a bit tricky. I am officially panicking just a bit.

I told the guy at the DMV that I could bring in my birth announcement, cards I received on my first birthday, all my school report cards, and my degrees, but they don't seem to care about that. Not sure why a thief might have all of that, but it's not enough for me to establish that as who I am.

Doesn't seem to matter to them that they have my picture and signature on file. Nope. They need that birth certificate, marriage license or passport. GAH! Yeah, now I'm getting freaked out a bit. I really don't want to cancel my trip to CA. Not only do I have unrefundable airline tickets, but I am really looking forward to it.
Well, the good news is, my birth certificate is hopefully going to be FedExed to me tomorrow and will arrive here Thursday! Yay, and double-yay and hooray for my friend who found me a notary public who would take her word that I was who I said I was. Triple-yay for same friend loaning me her credit card so I could pay for the rushed Birth Certificate from VitalCheck. Quadruple yay for the friend who told me about the online/FedEx option.

I am really so incredibly happy this might be getting resolved. I honestly don't know what I would have done otherwise. I was so upset yesterday midday, before this all started to fall into place. Especially when everyone was telling me no, and I thought the soonest I could get my birth certificate (if I could find a notary public willing to help me) would be 4 weeks. So yay-yay-yay-yay. I am very close to being a real person again with an identity.

This also means I can have access to some money again. My bank is mailing me a new bank card, but I can't activate a new PIN unless I come into the branch with, you got it, photo ID! In the meantime, I am doing fine with some cash I'd stashed, although I feel so incredibly naked leaving the house everyday with just my keys.

As soon as I get my birth certificate and make a bunch of copies and stash them all over my house, I'm going to get a passport. This is never happening to me again! If they'd let me get two passports, I'd probably do that, too!