Tuesday, December 30, 2008

is it me or

is christmas exhausting? i don't think it's christmas per se; i think it's the six weeks or so leading up to christmas. all the extra stuff we cram into our lives, pile onto our schedules, add to our to-do's, and make sure we get accomplished.
i love christmas. honestly. it's a celebration of winter and family and friendship and the christ child and gift-giving. it's wonderful. i love christmas music and christmas movies and christmas break.
and i'm glad it's over.

waylon jennings sang, back in the 70s, "are you sure hank done it this-a-way?"
i feel pretty sure jesus didn't want it done this-a-way. but then, jesus isn't in charge of christmas any more than god is in charge of christianity, so ...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

rest on the flight

"Rest on the Flight Into Egypt" by Luc Olivier Merson, 1879

saw this on naked pastor's blog. i don't know why it struck me, but it did - the muted colors? the mixture of beauty and danger in the story of the coming of god through a baby in a war-torn, occupied country? the risk mary and joseph took ... and the risk that any one of us takes, not when we're part of cultural christianity, but when we open ourselves up to the change that Love produces - demands - makes inevitable.

i wish for you in the next week or so that you feel Love. that it disrupt you. that it call you into places in which you may have to look for a small glow amidst seeming darkness, in order to find where god is at work.
in other words, that Love call you deep into your own life.
i'll see you there, even if i don't see you there.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

happy, happy holidays ...

just thought i'd share. it's a tense time of year. let's relax.






and, my personal favorite,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

megalomaniac - you're no jesus

one of my favorite bands is incubus. an alternative rock band, around for a decade or so i guess. soulful, playful, pissed off, hopeful. my kind of music.
there's a song of theirs, "megalomaniac," that i was listening to again recently. it's perfect.
watch this clip. for real.


here are the lyrics; they speak to me of the bosses and parents and friends and co-workers and pastors and CEOs and corporations and advertisers and tyrants who try to push us around and steal our hearts. fuck that.

I hear you on the radio
You permeate my screen; it's unkind but
If I met you in a scissor fight
I'd cut off both your wings on principle alone
On principle alone

Hey megalomaniac
You're no Jesus
Yeah, you're no fucking Elvis
Wash your hands clean of yourself baby and
Step down
Step down
Step down

If I were your appendages
I'd hold open your eyes
So you would see
That all of us are heaven sent
There was never meant to be only one
To be the only one

Hey megalomaniac
You're no Jesus
Yeah, you're no fucking Elvis
Wash your hands clean of yourself baby and
Step down
Step down
Step down

Yeah
You're no Jesus
You're no Elvis
You're no Jesus
You're no Jesus
You're no Elvis
YOU'RE NO ANSWER

STEP DOWN
STEP DOWN
STEP DOWN

Hey megalomaniac
You're no Jesus
Yeah, you're no fucking Elvis
Wash your hands clean of yourself baby and
Step down

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

333 and 10 questions on 121608

this is my 333rd post. weird. how on earth did that happen? i dunno, i guess just showing up and sharing something every few days for a few years - i started this blog in january of 2007 - it works that way.
here's a favorite post from way back. i think my answers are still pretty much the same now.

James Lipton on "Inside the Actors Studio" asks each actor the following questions at the end of the show.
i'd love to know your answers to these ten questions. here are mine.

1. What is your favorite word?
my favorite word is yes. the word that goes with it is no. they belong together.
2. What is your least favorite word?
my least favorite word is "need." as in, "i need this from you," which i'm learning is really about not having clarity about what i want. so, when people say to me, "i need this," i try to listen to what they are telling me they want. and when people say to me, "you need to do this," i try to listen to why i can't stand it to hear that ... and then be present with them while they tell me what they want.
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
courage. c s lewis says that every virtue when it's at its deepest place, is courage. love is courage. integrity is courage. compassion is courage.
i'm not always courageous. but i am learning to be.
4. What turns you off?
arrogance - which is just about fear.
5. What is your favorite curse word?
"shit." it's a great all-purpose word. i don't even stop myself from saying it. except on sunday mornings at journey, and that's a struggle.
6. What sound or noise do you love?
quiet - especially in nature. which isn't quiet, but it's not human sounds. i like the quiet when the journeyers are breathing when we're gathering ourselves and our hearts together. i like the quiet when my family or a child are sleeping.
and i love laughter. oh, wait, that's two sounds.
shit.
7. What sound or noise do you hate?
i used to hate crying - which was just about my own fear of opening up and feeling anything unpleasant. plus, growing up was very sucky and had a lot of crying in it, and i wanted to distance myself from that sound because of what it reminded me of.
now i believe in crying, my own and other people's, even though it's not always comfortable for me. but it's worth it.
the sound or noise i hate is the tape in my head that tells me "you can't do this."
i also believe that that tape in my head is worthy of listening to. but not listening to.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
painter
9. What profession would you not like to do?
corporate lawyer, or anything having to do with screwing over the little person.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
a. god exists.
b. i don't believe that there are pearly gates - they're a metaphor. but it's a nice image. the metaphor i like better is "the arms that love extends."
c. what i want god to say is, "yes."
i actually believe that god will say "yes" to me ... and to every being that has been in this earthly experience. and that doesn't have anything to do with "who goes to heaven." i don't give a shit. it's not about that for me.

Monday, December 15, 2008

it's going to effin' sleet .........

yeah. a cold front blew in. it's been ridiculously cold all day. never got out of the 30's.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

it's not effin' snowing ..............

it snowed last tuesday and we danced with christmas joy.
it was 75 degrees today.
that's the wonderful christmas season in texas. dammit. i wish it would snow more. i think i'm part viking.

crap.

of course, austin is such a kickass place to live, it's worth it.



but ... i'd still like it to be lower than 75 degrees at christmastime ...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

LET IT EFFIN' SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

if you haven't lived where it doesn't snow, i don't think you'll understand, but ... something so wonderful happened, that i'm still a little delirious:

it snowed in austin night before last.

snowed.

BIG FLAKES OF SNOW. LOTS OF 'EM.

it was ... transcendent. i felt my spirit go kind of loose.
i think i must have viking blood in me, or northern european encoding in my dna. when i'm in really cold, snowy weather, i feel the kind of joy that usually accompanies mystical epiphanies or christmas morning when you're six.
i'm serious.

the world i grew up in is not a place where it snows. and it's hot for about nine months, and oppressively hot for about four of those nine, and unbearably hot for around two of those four.
plus, from 5th grade til i graduated from high school, i lived in far south texas, which is flat and humid and a cross between the tropics and a desert. seriously.
and i wanted to live where it snowed. i dreamt of colorado. mountains. trees.
and then in december we'd sing "white christmas" and "winter wonderland" and "sleigh ride" and i felt as if i were LIVING A LIE. it was just wrong. i prayed for a white christmas. it never came.
i prayed that we'd move to the mountains. we never did.
tha's when i decided that there is no god.

but, i've collected little christmas figurines and toys my whole life, and every december i make little snow scenes with snowmen and santas and little houses and rudolph and elves, and i sprinkle it all with little fake snowflakes. it's my personal alternate reality / wished for utopia.

so, tuesday morning, the day started off in the 70s. at lunchtime a cold front came. by suppertime it was really cold. and about 1030 or 11 it started snowing.

AND IT'S NOT EVEN CHRISTMAS YET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! in austin, we usually get a day or so of some sort of frozen precipitation in, say, february. mostly ice. everything shuts down, and we all play with the snow/ice/sleet, and it's good. but it's no winter wonderland. and on top of that, christmas songs are long gone.

so, this is as good as it gets.

for those of you who are in the northern parts of america and the world, i know y'all seem to feel about months of snow and cold the way i feel about months of heat. but ... dammit ... this is my moment.

by the way, the high sunday is going to be 72.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Holy Bibel

when i think about the many translations and permutations that have given rise to what people consider "the word of god," i.e., in the post-enlightenment, reformation-word-brain-focused western world, i have only to see a resource like this one to remind me not to get too anxious about the whole thing. (a wonderful thing from the wonderful people at blueq)
here are some excerpts from the holy bibel, for people who think spelling (or correct translation?) isn't important:

Genesis 6:
"And Dog saw how great the wickedness of man had become.
So he said to Noah, 'I am going to put an end to tall people.
Make yourself a shark of cypress wood.
And behold I do bring a flood of waiters upon the earth.'"

or, if you're a new testament person, from Matthew:
"in this manner we therefore pray: 'Our father who carts in heaven, hallowed be thy lame.
thy kingdom come. thy will be done, on earth, as it is unleavened.
give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our bus passes, as we forgive those who bus pass against us....''

... i'm starting to wonder if the bible says a LOT of stuff that somebody misspelled along the way ...
no, thats nt posszbl ... Dog wouldn't alough thatt ...

Friday, December 5, 2008

when they get hit

freddie roach was a former professional boxer who, when he retired, had a record of 41 wins and only 13 losses. he also was willing to take a punch and wear his opponents down. then, when he retired, he found that he has a gift for training boxers. Roach is the owner of the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles, and is currently one of the most popular trainers in boxing. Roach was voted Trainer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2003, 2006 and 2007. he has trained 17 World Champions. Roach has also been honored as Trainer of the Year in 2003 by the Boxing Writers of America and has been inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame, the New England Boxing Hall of Fame, and most recently the California Boxing Hall of Fame. Freddie Roach continues working as one of the most sought after trainers in the world.
he happens to have parkinson's disease, so, when he's being interviewed on the radio or tv and people find his speaking uneven or halting, that's what's happening.
he's also about six months older than me.
and i have no idea if he's a good person or not, but the man is nothing if not tenacious.
i'm not into boxing. i don't like the violence. but i get that at its highest levels, boxing is choreography, and drama, and thinking, and strategy, and large-muscle-memory based in rigorous and extensive training and hard work. and i saw part of the hbo special about the upcoming fight between oscar de la hoya and manny paquiau, and then i've been listening for interviews with freddie. he's absolutely fascinating. i'm listening to him talk about training his fighters, and there are about twenty things he's planning and working out about his fighter all at once - psychology, pacing, fears, plan a in the ring, plan b in the ring, what to say and what not to say, and so on. this is big big business, and it's not won based on who can hit the hardest.

i heard him in an interview with jim rome a few days ago say, about boxers:
"when they get hit, they always go back to who they are."

as in, even with all the training, all the strategy, all the thinking through the options of the match, all the plans and contingency plans and backup plans - when a boxer gets hit hard, and is in pain, and the body and the pain break past the intellect, who a man or woman is down deep will come out. that's what will be present. but the pain isn't "who they are." the pain is the doorway down into who they are.
eddie says, that thing they truly are? that's what'll come out, and fight.

i got very tired earlier this week. i started to get mad. sad. discouraged. worried.
my awesome wife said, "when we are afraid, or tired, we lose good judgment. we lose the ability to see what is real and what isn't."
and she was right. because i rested, and rested some more, and cried and got quiet, and when i was more clear, it's not that i talked myself out of what i was feeling; it's that what i was feeling at the surface wasn't truly, truly what was inside me. what was deep within me is hope, and strength, and i'm up. i got hit. the first rush of pain was sadness, discouragement, worry. but then i went down into myself further. and what came back swinging was hope and power and peacemaking. swinging. sort of. still wobbly. but here. some days i want to go back to the corner and sit. some days i wish i'd never gone into boxing in the first place.

lots of people never get into the ring.
lots of people hide over in the corner.
lots of people won't train, won't listen, won't swing, won't cover.
lots of people will train, will listen to their trainers, will swing hard, will cover up, and will find who they are past the pain and shock and fatigue. but it takes guts and endurance.

who are you when you get hit?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

a little holiday perspective

here are some entries from the website mymiserablechristmas.com, in which people tell stories of sadness or crisis or whatever during the holidays. just thought i'd help put things in perspective for us all. or, i could show pictures of poor children. or of santa kneeling before baby jesus, which is weird.

9. The song of a child (12/13/99) - Little Drummer Girl, Age 26

When I was a child from the age of about 4 till I was nine my cousin and I were made to dress up in velveteen dresses and sing xmas songs Shirley Temple style. I'm still in therapy.

8. Make an offering (12/9/99) - Judy, Memphis, Age 25

I was a little tipsy on xmas eve. I threw up during the candlelight service during the quiet time all over the lady in front of me. It reeked beer and cheese, it made me puke even more. The worst part about it was that I forgot to change my baby's diaper and things just reeked even worse. I cried so hard, and got up and slipped and fell on the lady I threw up on. Then, the diaper came undone and soaked into the material of the pew.

243. Holidays up in smoke (12/06/07) - Connie, New York, Age 32

When I was six my dad got dead drunk and plunged headlong into the Christmas tree we had all worked so hard to string popcorn for and make beautiful. After I got married things went progressively downhill from there. One year my children set the living room rug on fire. Ex hubby and I quickly stomped it out. Last year my idiot boyfriend spent all my money on weed, so guess what both of us got…Nothing. This year was better. I spent the holiday with my new (non-druggie) sweetie and his family. One good Christmas - I think it’s a fluke.

247. As if I didn’t exist (12/06/07) - Gabriela, Maryland, Age 18

Last year on December 23 I got into a huge fight with my father and it got very violent. I left the house and slept in the car in the parking lot of my work. The next morning, I returned, hoping to reconcile, but was instead told to pack my things, give up my car keys and leave the house, even though I was the victim of the violence, not the other way around.

I was taking care of my neighbors’ house while they were out of town, so I ended up spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day across the street from my own house, sleeping on my neighbors’ couch. Through the window, I could see my family celebrating Christmas without me, as if I didn't exist.

201. Felled by flatulence (12/14/06) - Brandi, Virginia, Age 17

At Christmas Eve dinner with my boyfriend's family and three of their close friends, my boyfriend's stepfather passed out on the kitchen floor. We'd thought he'd had a stroke or heart attack, and when they examined him at the emergency room, they told us that it was a gaseous buildup in his intestines. He'd held in his gas throughout the dinner, and when he was walking to the bathroom it overwhelmed him. The next day everyone was still traumatized by the event.

254. It’s just a flesh wound (12/06/07) - Nick, New Jersey, Age 18

The Christmas right after the Xbox came out, in addition to the console and games, my brother and I had asked our dad for various knives and swords. He got us some pocket knives. One of them was razor-sharp and came in a leather sheath. After opening it and examining the blade, I tried to force it back into its resting place. The blade went through the sheath and through the web between my thumb and index finger. My dad freaked out and said I ruined Christmas. My drunken mom just screamed until he took me to the hospital. (She couldn't take me because she couldn't go out in public without any make-up.) I got stitches. The whole episode, which my older brother had videotaped, later was used as evidence in my parents’ divorce.

1. Santa's gonna get it (12/3/99) - Jase, Boston, MA, Age 25

When I was six, my drunken father threatened to blow Santa away with a shotgun if we weren't good. He said - "You little bastards better straighten up and fly right or I will get my shotgun and wait at the foot of the chimney for that fat fuck to come down and I will blow his head off." He was swaying as he said this to us. We didn't have a chimney.

and, my personal favorite ...

256. Vigilante dad (12/06/07) - Tim, Maine, Age 33

The worst Christmas I ever had was three years ago. My ex-wife had taken our two offspring for Christmas at “her house” (with the prick she had been cheating on me with while we were married). I spent Christmas Eve with a bottle of bourbon, watching "Face/Off" on my laptop and listening to the wind howl around my apartment building. Christmas morning, I woke up to the phone ringing, and it's my daughter crying her eyes out. She told me that Todd (the jagoff my ex dumped me for) had touched her in her “swimsuit area” while my ex was asleep.

I hopped in my car and went to my ex’s house. I pounded on the door and yelled, “I want to see my kids!” Todd opened the door and said, “What the fuck are you doing here?” I grabbed him and started beating the shit out of him. We fought for about 15 minutes, then the cops showed up (thanks neighbors!). The cops dragged us apart and began hitting me with their nightsticks. I yelled, “This cocksucker was raping my kid!”

The cops shoved me into the squad car and I spent the day in the holding cell. Then one of the cops told me that my kids were being released to their Grandmother. The next day, I got out of jail and went home to my answering machine. There was a message saying that neither my ex or Todd can care for the kids now. So my mother is bringing up my kids. She will do a better job than me. Now I have to find Todd and kill him.