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Friday, May 29, 2015

May 29

Missed my book club on Wednesday due to testing related exhaustion. Ugh. Plugging the word "circus" into a search engine supplies the definition, "a public scene of frenetic and noisily intrusive activity," and if that doesn't perfectly describe the end of grade testing cycle, then I don't know what does.

Our group was supposed to discuss Kim Werker's charge to go out on a "date" alone, which was sort of underwhelming an assignment for me as I do dinners and movies by myself all the time without thinking of it, and (did I mention?) I went to a freaking concert alone, so go me. However, this evening I did find myself briefly on my own in a public date space, and I didn't feel entirely comfortable or natural in the scene, so joining my group in spirit if not in person, I guess I'll talk about that a bit.

I made plans a while ago to meet D for an event at the art museum (Hell yes cocktails and crafts) this evening. Driving from my small town to The City during rush hour on a Friday afternoon seemed like a dicey proposition, so I left with way more time to spare than I actually needed and arrived at the museum an hour in advance of D. I wasn't too angsty about this since looking around art museums is a thing that I like to do, and I haven't been to our local one in years.

At first I didn't do a lot of nonsensical thinking. One of the first paintings I encountered was The Beheading of St. Catherine of Alexandria which married two of my favorite things -- excessive gold leaf and heads getting cut off. Mmm.... shiny AND gory....

As I wandered around though, the museum got more crowded. A band set up and started playing jazz-with-horns. Everyone who came in had really nice shoes. High heels with decorative wooden platforms and big buckle-y straps that hooked around the ankle. Bare legs all around. I had on tights and an old thrift store dress and I became very self conscious of being The Girl who was Alone and Looking at Art. Suddenly I couldn't shake the feeling that I was trying to star in a performance of myself, and not doing a very good job of it. I felt like a parody of a girl in a vintage dress at an art museum.

I stopped being able to enjoy the paintings and started worrying, "If I spend too long looking at one painting, then I'm just trying too hard to be a girl who comes to museums alone to gaze at Art. And if I just wander around, then CLEARLY I'm just here to be seen being here and not here to actually see anything." Such ridiculous dithering, and yet I could. not. stop.

Happily, D arrived very shortly after that crisis, and I was able to transition to the event where I had an AMAZING time which I will probably write about later.

 I've written before that I have a lot of hang-ups about the performance side of keeping this blog. There were definitely points in the fun part of our evening, especially when pictures were being taken, when I thought about how much I was going to enjoy it later when I was writing about what I was doing. But shouldn't the point of doing things just be the experience of doing them? This is something I struggle with a lot. I worry that this website is the equivalent of my self-conscious overdressed ass standing in the middle of a bunch of museum goers, thinking about how she looks and thinking that the only way to be genuinely herself is to not be thinking that. And yet still thinking of nothing else.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

I own no red clothing, and I kept wanting to fist bump the other few people who had done their best with purple.

The best thing about today's sermon (er... collect? homily? I am an Episcopalian by current practice, but a non-denominational "charismatic" protestant by upbringing, and there are times when I feel more adrift in the waters of our current church than J does, and he grew up without religion at all.) Anyway, the best thing about today's church service, which was outdoors on account of Pentecost, was the pinky fingernail sized frog that hopped along the edge of our picnic blanket. It was cute and fascinating! I've grown a lot in the time since I was a kid drawing on the back of my church bulletin, but I don't seem to have matured much in my ability to maintain focus on any kind of preaching.

Other good parts were the music, which was normal singing set to guitar rather than "chanting" led by piano and a cantor, and after church when there was a real church picnic, which I have not been to since I was such a young person and which provided all of the wondrous foods that seem exclusive to picnic lunches. (Oh three bean salad, how I love you! And cut up watermelon and baked beans and pimento cheese sandwiches with the crusts cut off!)

At some point I will have to gather and organize my thoughts on the topic of Why It Is That I Go To Church In The First Place. Largely it's because I do have some vague sense that it is important to focus on living a life that is in line with one's values, and church seems like a good way to maintain that focus.

I started to fall out of non-denominational "charismatic" Protestantism at age 18 when I could no longer reconcile what I felt in my conscience to be true with what my church was telling me I should believe. I was at my friend L's house, and he had a painting on the wall that his boyfriend had done of the two of them in the bathtub together, L's arms around the artist. It was the sweetest, most romantic thing I had ever seen, so pure and good and right that it killed the last shreds of  the "love the sinner hate the sin" bullshit that I had been clinging to as a young Christian with gay friends.

That's why we're at least sort of Episcopalians now. Our congregation anyway is big on social justice, and I get a lot out of hearing the lessons I've known since childhood framed in a way that supports this kind of thinking. There are a lot of aesthetic, decorative things that I would prefer about a less ritualized church experience, but amid all of the incense and chanting here there's nothing that I am ashamed of being associated with.

So there are lots of good reasons for us to attend a weekly service. That said, the real reason that we started going was J's mom. It would be a nice routine for her and good for us to have the support of a church community. ("We pray for all in our congregation who care for family members with dementia," is included in the"cycle of prayer" email that goes out weekly, and I do feel something when I read it. Uplifted.)

K moved into her eldercare home last Tuesday. This was our first Sunday without her. Yeah, we still went.

Like I said, I am still considering and sorting out the reasons that I'm going to church again after a solid twenty years without it. Maybe it will just boil down to picnic lunches and Our Friends Are There. I don't think I'll ever feel like a Christian the way I did as a teenager again. But I do feel like there's something valuable in fellowship with a community of like-minded individuals and being reminded of things like the beatitudes and being stewards of creation.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

My favorite is the one where she eats the whole cake.

The pool at my condo just opened for the summer. (In contrast, for the summer at my MiL's house, the palmetto bugs have come back out in force.) Even though J and I won't be moving back for four weeks at the earliest, I took a trip over there today just to get in to the water for a little bit. I sat in the sun reading Hyperbole and a Half until sweat was running down my back and I knew I'd be able to convince myself that it was hot enough to swim no matter how ridiculous-cold the water was.

The water was ridiculous-cold, and I waded out slowly like a wimp, listening to the kinder set make up the rules to their water-football game as they played it.

"Ok, starting now only throw it to a person."
"Ok, but starting now, right? That didn't count."
"Yeah, that didn't count, but now it does."

"No more jumping on people and wrestling them!"
"Unless the other person wants to."
"Well, yeah. Unless they want you to."

Spent about an hour floating and lazily paddling around in the deep end (out of the way of the football game, in case the 'throw it to a person' rule was suddenly revoked). Now my skin is tight, and I'm doubting the effectiveness of my sunscreen. Also, I smell like chlorine.

Also,  I am blissfully content. I'm hungry for signs and symbols that this year is at its end, and this definitely counted as one.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Napping would be the worst sin of all.

The worst part of weekends is that I stress out about the ways that I am NOT resting and recharging properly. All of my media serials (which is to say, three television shows and a podcast) have new episodes all at once, but I'm not watching (or listening to) any of them because that would be "wasting" my weekend. I am, however, sitting here on the internet, halfheartedly playing through a visual novel I've already completed twice as though that were a worthwhile use of my time.

And why do I have to use my time in a worthwhile fashion anyway? We're four weeks out from summer vacation, and I am exhausted. It's getting to the time of year where not just throwing a film on the Smartboard and calling it a day is an feat of incredible planning and fortitude. You'd think I'd allow myself to "just put on a movie" in my real life at least, but NO.

I have no real resolution to these thoughts. I have a feeling I'm going to post this for the sake of knowing that I've done so and then return to my listless sifting through of 'meaningful' activities that I have no desire to get down to. Gah.