In response to the Pope, I declare NEW SINS!

1. Anthropomorphizing God IS A SIN

Do not assign human traits to God. God is not tall, benevolent, bearded, mighty, angry, fat, lean or male. God is God, and is beyond our minuscule comprehension. Therefore we should not assign human traits to God; it probably pisses Her off.

2. Excluding people from God’s table IS A SIN

Any Christian should be able to receive communion in any church. The Catholic Church has no business denying anyone a seat at Jesus’ table, and must immediately retract their posture that communion is only for the Catholics. For Pete’s (literally) sake, Jesus had JEWS (le gasp!) at the very first communion mass!

3. Forcing yourself between me and my God IS A SIN

God and I can hear and understand each other just fine. I don’t need anyone to relay my sins to God for me, and I don’t need anyone to put words into my mouth for God to hear. We’re doing just fine together, just me and God. But thanks for the offer. We’ll be sure to let you know if either one of us ever becomes unable to communicate for ourselves.

4. Deifying humans IS A SIN

Just as assigning human traits to God is a sin, it is also a sin to assign God’s qualities to a mere human, Jesus excepted. NO ONE is “infallible” except for God, so cut that shit out already.

5. Subjugating, devaluing and subsequently alienating fully 50% of the faithful IS A SIN

Bitch, please. It’s the 21st century, and lame excuses like “because Jesus was male” and “because Jesus wasn’t married” just aren’t cutting it any more. Just get over yourselves, start admitting women into the priesthood, and start allowing priests of either gender to marry and pro-create. With each other, even. If you do this, in 10 year’s time you’ll be thanking me for the idea.

a Valentine essay

In response to an exchange between two friends who found themselves at odds with their partners on Valentine’s Day, I offered the following thoughts:

+++++

Mah sistas, you are onto something there. I am convinced that we are not supposed to be living with men, and we do them a great disservice by expecting more from them than they are capable of providing. Instead, we are supposed to be living under the conditions that existed in hunter-gatherer societies. Women lived in multi-generational, co-operative dwellings with their offspring. Some of them went out to hunt and gather (worked outside of the home) while others remained in the dwelling to care for the kids (SAHMs). No one had any guilt about whichever role they chose, and no one felt taken for granted. No hunter/gatherer ever had to come home and start a whole other 8 hour job over again. There were plenty of lactating women around, so no one ever had to exhaust themselves getting up in the middle of the night if they didn’t want to. Each child had a multitude of mothers to care for them, dote upon them and raise them right. In short, it worked just swell.

Occasionally, a cave man would drop by with a side of bison, thwack it on the dwelling floor, pound his chest and declare, “Me Thor! Me bring meat! Me want sex!”.

The cooperative would evaluate the situation and determine whether or not there was interest in Thor’s, um, meat. Their level of approval and interest would make itself evident approximately nine months later.

Other than these occasional and very necessary interruptions, the women held no illusions about the opposite gender, preferring to remain with the sure thing, the thing that worked – themselves and each other, there in the multi-generational, all-women-and-children dwelling.

This arrangement served womankind well for millenia, until the Thors of the world banded together to invent patriarchy, the chief purpose of which was to sell the women a bill of goods about another illusory invention of theirs – romance. See, they had fond memories of their childhoods amongst the women, and wanted to be doted upon and cared for once more, but needed to fabricate just the right lie that would lure the women into believing that humans are a pair-bonding species. (NOTE: biologically speaking – we’re NOT!). For whatever reason, their duplicitous plot worked, and here we are – expecting things of them that were either promised or implied, but which are seldom delivered. I know not why such a conquest was successful, considering how happy we all were in the multi-generational dwelling. Whatever could it have been that altered our thinking thus?

I suspect the use of chocolate was involved.

yeah, so I think you should both ditch your husbands and go live together in a cooperative. If one of them brings you a side of bison on occasion, and the meat is judged to be acceptable… well, I trust you both know what to do!

Have I ever told you about The Elf Game?

The Elf Game was invented on Christmas Eve in Temecula, California, sometime back in the 1990s, based upon a random Christmas Eve occurrence from my childhood. I had flown in from Long Island that year to spend Christmas with my friend Penny and her family. She’s got two girls, and I think they were about 6 and 8 years old at the time.

Penny decorates her home like a mad woman. Every surface is covered with Christmas “stuff”, which is hauled out and distributed around the house each year, and then returned to the various Rubbermaid bins from whence they came. This particular year, whilst wandering about the house, I discovered two implements of elf were at my disposal – a set of hearty jingle bells (not the namby-pamby type, but the kind you’d expect to find around the neck of the horse drawing the one-horse open sleigh), and a Santa hat. A wicked plan formed within my brain.

Early in the day, the bells were heard at odd moments, coming from various parts of the house and surrounding yard. The first time they were heard, it reminded Auntie Tink *~*~* of a day long ago, a Christmas Eve just like this one, only there was snow and coldness and no palm trees. Ok, not so much like this one, but it was Christmas Eve nonetheless. And Auntie Tink’s *~*~* baby brother Chez Bro was being very, very naughty. He was playing in the basement and had decapitated his teddy bear. He was generally running berserk. He was yelled at, he was threatened, he was pleaded with – nothing worked.

Suddenly from upstairs we heard a jingling sound…

My older brother yelled down the basement stairs that there were elves in the driveway, peeking in the windows, listening to Chez Bro be naughty. He said the jingling sound was elf bells! And that Chez Bro had better be good or else there would be no presents, because the elves would tell Santa on his ass!

(Years later, at a Thanksgiving dinner, a bunch of adults sat around their parents’ dining room table, making confessions. It was at this time that we all confessed to having HATED three bean salad as children, and told of the artful ways we would dispose of it to show clean plates. One method, which may have been a tall tale spun of too much Thanksgiving dinner wine, was to pass it out the dining room window to the first person that managed to escape. However, we did not employ the “feed it to the dog under the table” method, because even the dog despised three bean salad. No dogs were hurt in the disposal of the three bean salad! So anyway, after the three bean salad epiphany, whereby my mother vowed never to serve us three bean salad ever again, big brother confessed that the jingling was my mother’s car keys.)

So I thought back to this day long ago, and decided that the elves could visit Temecula, California that year. I ran around ringing the bells all day at various places, which caused a stampede of children rushing to the spot to search for and gather evidence. They had a whiteboard amongst their playthings, so we set that up as a map of the house and yard, marking it with a big red “X” everywhere we suspected the elves had appeared. Clues like glitter in the grass and bits of green sea glass were found in the vicinity of where it was believed the elves had rung their bells.

“But HOW will the elves tell on us? Santa is at the North Pole!”, demanded one of the older children of the neighborhood. Ah, that’s easy. The elves whip out their little cell phones and leave Santa a voice mail, telling him the date, time, city, and name of the child who had committed the infraction.

Getting close to dinner time, I took the elf hat and snuck outside. I found a stick, and lurked beneath the livingroom windows. When the children came into the room, I bobbed the hat up and down on the stick, just so they could see the pointy tip and pom pom, as though the elf were marching around out there. With squeals, there was a mad dash for the door. I ditched the stick in the bushes and arranged myself in a sprawl on the front walk, still clutching the hat. The door sprung open just as I began to yell, “I almost had him! I almost had him! Look, I GOT HIS HAT!”

They were all gathered round me in a little knot, this wild woman with an elf hat. Their eyes were large in their heads. There was not a non-believer amongst them.

Thus was born The Elf Game.

Shooting Stars

I saw a shooting star tonight! Long-time readers may recall the last time I saw a shooting star. It was Sunday November 2nd, 2003 (scroll down a lot). I had just returned to my room at Disney’s Boardwalk Villas from having dinner at Boma with Chez Bro and da fambly.

I entered my darkened room and immediately made a beeline for the terrace door. As soon as I set foot on the terrace, I saw a shooting star, right over the Yacht Club! How cool was that?!?! Quickly, I shut my eyes and made my “when you wish upon a star” – and no, I won’t tell you what it was, for I want my dreams to come true!

Well, I can tell y’all now – I wished that night that I could move to Florida to live permanently. About 2.5 years later, that wish came true.

Granted, I had to do some work toward the fulfillment of that wish, but really, things lined up so harmonically – the exit from the Wall Street building, the telecommuting culture catching on like wildfire, the outsourcing agreement that ended up being insourced again, only people had moved away by then, thus setting a precendent… I’m tellin’ ya, it was the stars!

So… yes, I made a wish upon that star tonight. No, I won’t tell you what it was! We’ll see what happens…

Gloria, 1927-2006

Originally published in the online guest book memorializing Gloria, who left us too soon on January 15th 2006.

I guess everyone writes when they are ready. And I guess I’m ready now.

As Steven pointed out, this is an impossible task. These are only words, and words can never hope to describe the life-altering influence of one woman on so many people. On me.

Studying with Gloria was an accident. Presented with a list of teachers by the college I was attending, I simply chose the one closest to where I was living at the time. I was 21 years old, and I was nervous. I’d been waiting my whole life to take voice lessons. What if I found out I actually couldn’t sing, after all? And what if she was mean about it?

I arrived a bit early, and Gloria still had a student in the studio. Grandma Rose let me in (that was the first and last time I knocked – thereafter, I just came on in, like everyone else did). I sat on a chair in the kitchen, waiting my turn, feeling sort of like a fraud, when I began to hear some suspicious sounds coming from under the kitchen table. I peeked under the tablecloth, and the nerves went out the window. A box of puppies! I think one of them was probably Pinkerton, and another might have been Miss Liu. At any rate, a woman who kept a whole box of puppies under the kitchen table couldn’t possibly be all that scary.

Up until this day, I’d been laboring under the awful misconception that I wasn’t actually good at or capable of… anything. At all. Won’t go into the reasons for that here, but suffice it to say that early on in life, I’d had a sneaking suspicion that I could sing, but I was actively discouraged from pursuing it, or even thinking that it was true. Well, now I was going to find out whether or not I had been delusional, after all.

As that first lesson progressed, I stood before her, incredulous at what she was pulling out of me. What had been locked inside, denied light and encouragement, came pouring out, easily and unobstructed, to bask in all the warmth and glory of her beaming approval. She validated the existence of my giftedness – validated ME. Not to give in to hyperbole, but in those first 60 minutes, she pretty much saved my life. Really.

Being able to sing well has been the foundation upon which all faith and confidence in myself has been built – things which were crucial to the successes I’ve had both within and outside of the musical world. The bonus was, not only could I sing well, and believe in my own abilities, but I had a friend, too. She cared about me. She listened when I was tormented, she cried when I was sick, she swallowed her own hurt feelings and understood when I was confused, and she supported me when I made decisions that meant I’d be doing a lot less singing. Her support and love were shockingly unconditional. I knew her for all of my adult life, 24 years (we would have had our “25th anniversary” in September 2006). It’s hard to let her go.

And so, I won’t. Every Tuesday afternoon at around 3:45 PM, my Palm Pilot beeps at me. It’s reminding me that it’s time to shut down my computer, get into my car, and drive to Gloria’s house for my lesson. Although she has been gone for months now, I refuse to delete the calendar entry. And whenever it beeps, I smile. As painful as it is to know that I will never “come sing at her” ever again, it still gives me joy to be reminded of her in this way. When I hear the beep, I get that same feeling I had that first day – the dawning of disbelief, surprise, and delight in discovering that I really AM somebody. I am somebody because Gloria believed and showed me that I could believe, too.

How can words possibly compare to that?

Treading the fine line between "alone" and "free"…