Saturday, December 20, 2014

Why Does He Do That?

Jim's bell ringing again this year for the Salvation Army. I don't approve, he knows this, but he's not exactly jumping for the joy to be ringing their bell either but I think he feels an obligation to do it because he used to be the coordinator for the bell ringers from our church. The guy that took his position of the president of mens ministry at our church has apparently dropped the ball on doing some of the community wide things, like scheduling bell rings. Hence Jim does it.

This is so much the good-guy nature of Jim that I admire and just don't always get. We've had many conversations in this house about the things that are abhorrent about the Salvation Army, from the money and support they give to organizations that oppose civil rights for gay people to the fact that the exploit their work force and pay the workers very little. There's more wrong with them than their involvement in active homophobia, that's the issue that gets publicity.

While Jim agrees with me about stopping supporting them he also seems to be unable to say 'no' when his successor dropped the ball. Jim steps up and does those things when others bail. Was today a day of bailing, oh boy!

We got a progression of phone calls of those scheduled to ring the bell in front of our Wal Mart today, most of them bailing on the flimsiest of excuses. didn't complain, he either covered or found someone to cover, pulling two of the six shifts the church was responsible for in the freezing assed cold. He's nicer than I by far.

It made the day fractured and frantic. I admit, I don't like surprises, but I wasn't totally surprised that Jim got stuck doing the work and schedules. This has happened in the past.

When his phone was obviously malfunctioning I had to drive out to that most hated of places Wal Mart, on a day when you would not catch me dead ever shopping, the Saturday before Christmas. Wal Mart's parking lot was a sea of every kind of vehicle, from rolling scrap iron to fancy Hummers and Mercedes with the wilder than our usual pageant of the transmundane people coming in and out.

While my heart was shrinking three sizes and I could feel the rest of me seizing up into Mr. Grinch proportions  Jim was cheerfully working that bell and approaching folks for cash in his kettle.

I'm starting to think this cheerful helping and acceptance that Jim always models as the real picture of a good Christian man, not any of that hideous leader of the family bullshit tin-plated dictator pushed by most.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Shouting and Pointing and Coughing

This morning was taken up with getting rescue kitty Dora her booster shots after last months main vaccinations. That and going to the bank to sign more papers in my recent disagreement with McDonalds.

I got to the bank and had the head teller tell me I looked like death warmed over. Just what you want to hear when you're sick. Ugh.

A couple of weeks ago I was running too late to make breakfast on my way out the door to class. I drove through the McDonalds drive thru. There was no one in line. It was actually deserted for once. I pulled up to the first speaker box at our two speaker box McDonalds.. and waited... and waited.. and waited.. until someone pulled up behind me to the second speaker box, which came on and they took the second car's order then mine. Okay, fine, this only seems to happen when I'm already in a time crunch.

Pulling up to the payment window with my debit card in my hand the older lady working there opened the window and plucked the card out of my hand without a word before handed me the card back and a receipt. I looked at the receipt and realized that she'd charged me for the lady behind me instead of my order. I pointed it out. She shut the window and went to consult a manager, came back and told me that they were just going to give me my order for the amount they charged me for her order. I had underpaid by like twenty cents.

This isn't the first time this has happened at this drive thru, but it hasn't happened in a couple of years, so I told her no, reverse the charge on my card and charge me the correct amount. I've worked retail a few times, I know on most systems you just have to hit 'refund' on the card machine, and rerun the card. She refused, got a manager, who told me she didn't know how to reverse it. So they gave me the cash they'd charged me for the other ladies order and reran my card for the correct amount.

By the time this snafu was over I was 15 minutes late for class and people behind me were honking and shouting.

Got home and guess what! I have many multiple charges on my bank around for the same amount! Not just the initial charge they gave me cash for or the correct total. They charged my card eight more times in total for the same amount. Small amounts, but really, it's the principle of the thing. Eight times four bucks twenty cents is not going to overdraw my bank account, but I know for some of their customers it would. They should be charging the correct amount only.

I call up McDonalds, try to speak to the manager and get told yet again that I should have just shut up and taken my meal at the discounted price, manager says my card was not repeatedly charged.

I go down to McDonalds, speak to a different manager, who is not sympathetic, tells me to take it up with my bank, because these aren't charges, but 'holds'. They don't appear as holds or pending on my checking account. I email McDonalds corporate to complain a few days later and still no response at all. So I am disputing the charges now. Pain. In. My Ass... but I will never use my debit card at McDonalds again without asking what the total is. Multiple, multiple charges just because I wanted a large coffee and egg white McMuffin. Ugh.

So when I called to order Christmas flowers for my mother as my last official purchase of the Christmas season I was anticipating some aggravation. My mother told me when I was visiting her in her small south Louisiana town that the florist I always use there and know well from my years working Big National Florist had been bought out by the biggest florist group in the area, who I also knew well and hated. Why? Because I had many conversations with them like the one below.

Me: Greetings, it's Suzanne calling from Big National Floral Service and I need to know if you can take an order out for us tomorrow to EZ Killem Off Funeral Home. $100 total, mixed arrangement or appropriate sympathy plant.
Asshole Floral Group: *dead silence for 5 seconds, crickets chirping before snotty voice answers* We DO NOT take your company's order. STOP calling us!

They were listed in our network yet they always acted like inconvenienced assholes whenever I called to get an order delivered, even if I offered a big delivery premium to get the order delivered. They were the only ones in a large area that acted like that.

Plus when my father died the funeral home director advised me not to order the casket spray from this company because they over charged and had 'bad attitude'. I believe it now.

I got the owner when I called, and it was a name I'd dealt with. I kind of let him have it, told him I was unsure about using him since everyone else in his asshole floral group behaved badly towards me when I was working at the national floral service. We had a long conversation, he and I. Once I finally established his bonafides, who all we knew in common and that he hadn't worked at the offices I had the troubles with I relaxed. Had a, 'say how's your cousin Joe in Hammond doing?' sort of a conversation.

Ordered the flowers and candy I always get Mom, she loves flowers. I'm waiting to see what they send. That will be where the rubber meets the road and I'll know just how good this guy really is.

One of the things I've started really being strict on is doing business with others. I don't mind paying for services done right the first time and for consistent performance, be it florist or plumber.

Speaking of flowers, Jim brought home a beautiful bouquet for me, roses, carnations, calla lilies and spray roses, some greenery and baby's breath. He must have been reading my mind because I'd just been thinking how much I needed some fresh flowers this week.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Cult Within A Cult

I was going to talk about my scintillating and thrilling day yesterday gravitating between lying on the sofa, the kitchen to shove batches of Christmas cookies in and out of the oven for Jim's office party, loading unloading folding ironing laundry between more bouts laying down on the sofa because of the flu but then I ran into a posting on Facebook that make me take a look at something I'd been heavily involved with over at the Creek Church - Gwen Shamblin and her Weigh Down Workshop.

It must have been around 1997 or so when one of the older ladies at Creek Church started a Weigh Down Workshop class and I was exposed to the grating hog-calling voice of one Mrs. Gwen Shamblin and her ideas that all fat is sin.

Since I'd been fully immersed in a church that saw sin in every breath and the devil under every bush I wasn't scornful of this idea, like I should have been. I joined the group, watched the cheesetastic videos of Gwen saying you could eat whatever you wanted as long as you were spending scads of time with God every single day, were actually hungry when you sat down to eat and you ate only until you felt the beginnings of fullness.

This dietitian with a degree from a legitimate university, not some Bible college without accreditation, claimed that your body could make whatever nutrient you needed from whatever you ate. Carbs, proteins, fibers, vitamins, whatever, God had designed your body so magnificently and perfectly that He could turn that baked potato from a starch to a protein if your body really needed protein.

Did she have scientific analysis or tests or anything to back up her claim? Nope, just the Bible, like others in a shilling for that fat stack of sweet Jesus cash from Christians ministry (business). Even at my most indoctrinated True Believer (tm) swilling the koolaid mode I had doubts about that claim. But I found out that a combination of eating only when I was hungry, only what I was hungry for and only to fullness combined with her Bible study worked for me. I lost fifty pounds pretty easily.

The whole simple idea of eating when you are hungry and only to full is so so so simple and basic that I don't know why any of us took this as a novel new idea! But all the Bible study was just some Evangelical mental masturbatory material to make us feel so special and holy.

Eventually I took over as the WDW coordinator for our church. I held the meetings, I led the study, I pushed 'play' on the VCR. We went through many cycles of the WDW, and I lost about twenty more pounds. But... as time went by I saw the same faces repeating the WDW every three months and they
weren't losing weight, most playing mind games with the material and claiming they were following Gwen's instructions. This went on nearly three years.

Then my father had a stroke. Jim and I had to drive through the night as I'd missed the last evening flight from DC to South Louisiana and by driving straight through we figured out we'd arrive about an hour sooner than if I caught the first flight with an open seat the next day. What followed was a horrible couple of weeks where I arrived only to be told my father was brain dead, had to make the decision with my step mother to turn off life support and watch him die. Lots of family dysfunction from my aunts and others, one funeral where I was the only one not too emotionally wiped out so all the arrangements and planning fell to me. Drama.

When I came back I was still so wiped out, just then starting to deal with the emotional fallout of my beloved father's death, that I never restarted the WDW meetings. I told the members that between work and working through my grief I had to take a sabbatical from the meetings. Before many months had passed I was called into our pastor's office where he told me that we could no longer do WDW as an officially sanctioned church activity because there was some question about the faith of the founder Gwen Shamblin.

I didn't investigate it, taking our pastor's word that Gwen had denied the Trinity and told the rest in the group that we would no longer be meeting. Handed all the materials back to the pastor where they were promptly thrown out with the trash. I thought no more about it and shortly after got pretty heavily involved with conference hopping, going to Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, Brownsville Revival (which I'd started attending every time I went down to Louisiana a few years before my dad's death) and up to Global Awakenings in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

I've always said that the moment I started doing the conference hopping thing was the moment where my faith went from staid black and white to techicolor wide screen rainbow. I'm still glad I had that experience even if I no longer believe everything that was taught at those places. One thing that was pretty short supply at any of those places was legalism. Had I left the Creek without the teachings on love and the exposure to different types of theology I received I don't doubt I would be dead now, a suicide in the aftermath of our painful leaving from the Creek. The things I learned at other places sustained me during that time.

Years later I heard that Gwen had said most Christians weren't very Christian or serious about their faith. At the time I was shocked by her statement but after eight years out I have to say I agree with her. Where I disagree is in the fact that she started her own church, The Remnant, which has more in common with Michael Pearl and other dangerous theology than any movement to free Christianity from legalism.

After seeing someone mention Gwen and the Remnant church on Facebook this afternoon I did a great deal of Googling and reading, finding one of the best written pieces on the whole mess at describes her new teachings and church as this:
Each course, which is essentially a rehashing of her WDW philosophy and spirituality, is written with emphases that are rife with this unhealthy dimension of indoctrinating pressure. The targeted audiences for Shamblin's product line are all people already troubled by carnal perfectionism and pious obsession with one's "temple" - namely overweight people and her WDW/RF flocks. And Gwen expects her followers to not only agree with her fear-ridden view of God's severity but to adopt it into their own mindset with all of the spiritual, emotional and philosophical implications such fearful assumptions will personally bring to them.
Yep, like so many different hateful legalistic groups the Remnant church appears to be all about fear, fear, fear, getting others to join in the fearing and being exclusive.

Obsessed as she is with a desire to lead people in a church she would head and control, Shamblin has been repainting her entire WDW superstructure with all the bright colors her marketing successes could display. Gaining exposure on national and local TV markets provides for her new opportunities for market share. Such publicity is color coordinated seamlessly with the  promotional scheme of her Remnant programming, down to the "Before/After" photos, the teary testimonies by glowing, well dressed members, and the supremely self-assured visage of a beaming Gwen "loving on" her followers. But beneath it all to this day are the beautifully concealed snares of fear and dread Gwen had set for her audience to walk into.  
Shamblin has long known what she is doing. By continually making these fear-invoking moral and social codes binding upon all who join her Remnant movement, beginning with a rebaptism, she has established in essence a new body of pseudochristian religious law. Drawing from her obsession with Old Testament Judaism's perspective on Yahweh, and by adapting Jewish festivals and holy days out of her fertile religious imagination, Gwen Shamblin has - as she likes to point out through what others say about her - become a Lawgiver of a Remnant "Law" that her flock is to enthusiastically keep.  
In effect, she has become a modern day Ebionite, having created her own diet-oriented religion and culture, complete with its' own unique customs, rules and language using reinterpreted Christian and Jewish terminology. 
Many WDW and RF members and their families, tragically, never knew what hit them when they were seduced out of their Christian churches into this new cultic one. They smile and reckon themselves to be a "pure" and "free" people, but bear within themselves hidden wells of apprehension, terror and anxiety all the while hiding it so well from their fellow members of Zion. They are people of scarred and burnt out conscience in Remnant who will stand by it no matter what outrage of principle and practice evolves there, primarily because they are too petrified or fearful to come to grips with the consequences of freedom from it - namely the loss of their Remnant spouses, friends, even job connections and family circles. 
Any time anyone tries to tell you that only their group is 'pure', 'righteous', or 'free' run! People that want you to divorce your spouse because they don't believe the same way as you - quote Mr. Hoggwallop of  the movie 'Oh Brother Where Art Thou" you better R.U.N N. O.F.T! As fast as you can!

For all the faults and foilables of my old church and i's cult-like behaviors at they were able to recognize the cult in all of this and shut it down. Being drawn into Shamblin's Remnant would have made everything I went through leaving the Creek all that much worse, even if I'd been pressured by those at my old church to stay and divorce my husband because he wanted to go to a mainstream denomination church.

People that wander off into their own weird ponderings on the Old Testament sure do end up in some odd places.

One of the big scandals of the Remnant church is the death of an eight year old boy disciplined to death in the same way that children who's parents use Michael Pearl's 'To Train Up A Child' book killed them. More from Religion News Blog, who reported on this along with many other media outlets:

But the new charges filed against two Remnant Fellowship members, Joseph and Sonya Smith from Atlanta, may raise even more questions.
The Smiths are accused of killing their 8-year-old son Josef.
The new indictment claims that not only did the Smiths beat Josef, they also had locked him up in some sort of a wooden box.
And, in charges that could reflect back on their church’s teachings, they’re also accused of cruelty to children and false imprisonment — specifically for confining him in a small room.
It’s an idea that, in a church tape obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates, Sonya Smith told Shamblin that she’d learned from another Remnant leader.
“We got everything out of there and locked him in there from that Friday until Monday and only left him in his room with his Bible,” Sonya Smith boasted.
Shamblin told us, “Remnant does not advocate any of that.”
But here’s what she told Sonya Smith:
“That’s a miracle. You’ve got a child that’s going from bizarre down to in-control. So praise God.”
In addition, Joseph Smith, who is shown in one of Shamblin’s videos with an older son, is still charged along with his wife with child cruelty for allegedly beating young Josef with rod-like glue sticks.
“Glue sticks are actually sort of common within the Remnant Fellowship culture to be used to physically discipline children,” said former Remnant recruit Adam Brooks.
“Because they hurt like switches, that it really hurts, but it doesn’t make marks on your children,” former member Teri Phillips recalled.Former members say it’s an idea they heard at church.
Shamblin insisted it didn’t come from her.
“It came from a member somewhere, someplace else and then it went around.”
Sounds suspiciously like "To Train Up A Child" and Michael Pearl.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sexual Predators of All Stripes

I've been watching the news about Bill Cosby and his apparent habit of forcing beautiful women in his entertainment circles to have sex with him. I'm not surprised, it's been whispered about for years that he hasn't been faithful to his wife Camille. I am not even shocked at his rapist tendencies combined with his obvious disdain for sexual consent. Camille's statement denying what he's likely done is was particularly disgusting, but I get it, she has turned a blind eye to reality for all these years to keep her husband at her side.

What does puzzle me is her insistence in linking her husband's troubles with the ongoing Rolling Stone magazine confloption over a possible rape situation at the nearby University of Virginia. They aren't much related, no more than brussel sprouts and corn are related. They're both vegetables but aren't even prepared the same way most of the time, taste very different and have different growing seasons. Both scandals involve forced sex, rape, but in very different ways.

The local papers here in the Virginia Piedmont are minimizing the possible rape at UVA, but I'd expect that. UVA is practically a religion here. All Hail The Cavaliers!!

Last night one of my friends on social media, one of my church going friends, shared a link to a supposedly very Christian low-level entertainer/celebrity. He urged everyone to support this guy's projects because the celeb was SUCH a good Christian. Unfortunately I know otherwise. He's not quite as bad as Bill Cosby, but if he had been more famous I don't doubt at all he would have gone where Cosby went.

I'm not posting this guy's name here because the last thing I want is his ass here.

So how do I know this guy is a predator? Easy. Back in the late 1990s I first started doing online work after taking a number of classes on coding and web design. I was so busy with church websites and other websites that I quit working for the national social workers licensing agency I'd been employed by for years. I quit to do websites full time.

Through a friend of a friend of a friend I ended up doing a series of websites for some of the smaller indie film companies. I really enjoyed the creative aspects of this work and the perk of occasionally going to film festivals like Toronto and some of the other East Coast ones made it all the more enjoyable. Sometimes I took one or more of my kids with me, which is where my son Andy's desire to make indie films was born. Even if he's now working in the computer industry, film is his first love and he does his own films and some freelance work. I like to think I planted that seed by exposing him to the art house film community all those years ago.

One of the guys running a production company I'd done some work for asked me to do him a favor, help the unknown actor lead of his film by doing some web work for the actor at rock bottom prices. I agreed. I'd seen the film at one of the festivals and thought the guy was talented. Was contacted by the actor shortly there after and we agreed that I'd start a Yahoo Clubs site for him, do a pile of screen caps of his various commercials and projects with an eye towards doing a possible website.

I'm going to call his man King Creep. At that time he was being pitched also as the clean decent Christian entertainer and the person that asked me to help King Creep knew I was pretty far into the whole koolaid drinking Evangelical Christian community and lifestyle, figuring I'd likely do KC more good than someone that wasn't a Christian.

This was in the ancient days before social media, in fact Yahoo Clubs was about the closest thing to social media at the time. How ancient? So ancient that all those screen caps I did were from a VHS highlights reel.

Everything was set up and I rarely had much of anything to do with the Yahoo Club besides monitor it every few weeks. KC got a pilot followed by a 13 episode order for a sitcom. And gained a huge bump of new fans. Then the emails started.

The first one I blew off as a crackpot. It was from a father who was claiming that his 16 year old daughter had joined the Yahoo Club and had King Creep start private messaging her, highly inappropriate messages begging for sexual favors. King Creep also included some rude nude photographs. The problem was that no one could conclusively prove it was KC because his face was in none of the photographs. I decided this was some troublemaker and there was no real proof it was KC behind the photos and solicitations for cyber sex. Besides, he was a good Christian entertainer and engaged to be married! He would never do that.

But by the time I'd been contacted by something like 15 different people all claiming that King Creep had hit on them through private message and sent nude photos and sexual come ons I realized something was going on. Where there's enough smoke something is ablaze. I immediately made up a fake Yahoo profile using a photo of myself at the beach, cropped so that it only showed me from waist to shoulders with my long black hair and swimsuited breasts showing. A very modest suit that only hinted at cleavage. My daughter Margaret did something similar and we both joined the KC Yahoo club.

It didn't take long, KC showed up and private messaged both of us begging for cyber sex or phone sex and sending out nude photos that I was able to finally match to him, to a birth mark on the back of his elbow. King Creep was using the Yahoo Club for trolling for women to cyber sex with. We gave him Margaret's work number one afternoon and she told him she would have cyber sex with him. We both sat there, watching the caller id unit light up with the id of "Paramount Studios" and a Los Angeles area phone number before the call went to voice mail and we hear King Creep talk about wanting to get together for sex.

Shortly after I confronted him about all of this, asking how he could possibly market himself as a good guy and act like that with his female fans. He denied everything even as I had the nude photos, chat logs from many of the girls he approached, the voice mail and other things. He kept denying it, saying someone was setting him up. I had to tell him that day that I could no longer help him in any way. I took down the Yahoo Club and walked away.

Shortly after his sitcom was cancelled and he'd pop up on shows like "Law and Order" or the rare Comedy Central show. I wrote about what happened in great detail, much more detail that this, in my old Diaryland blog, even posting censured versions of the nudes. Over the course of a few months I started getting emails and blog comments from women who'd worked with King Creep, all with tales of being sexually harassed by him. One of the ladies had been a production assistant on Comedy Central's "The Man Show" and been treated with way more respect and no sexual harassment on that show compared to her days on King Creep's sitcom.

The bottom line. He was a sexual predator sixteen years ago and he's likely still preying on women in his path. He's still using the Good Christian Man mask too. A lesser version of Bill Cosby, but I think that has more to do with his smaller measure of fame than anything else.

My point? Don't be taken in by smiling masks and good Godly labels. You never know what is actually lurking behind that mask.

I still keep an eye on King Creep and yes, I still have all those chat logs, photos and other evidence on a flash drive. You never know when you might need it.

I hope that Bill Cosby is sued by all those women. I hope they win and I hope it sends a message to the King Creeps in the industry that preying on the women you work with will cost you more than it's worth.

And Good Christians (tm) wonder why I'm having such a hard time believing in the goodness of religion or even God. Sometimes I look at the cross and all I see is a man suffering horribly at the hands of an abusive father.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Flu Round 2

This has not been a great year for me in regards to the flu. First, my last pulmonologist talked me into waiting until mid-October to get my flu shot, meaning I picked up the flu strain that hit our town in early September, right after I usually get my flu shot. Not that the shot prevents every strain.

Yes, the flu shot makers have to guess something like more than a year in advance as to what strains are likely any given year and sometimes they guess wrong. This year it looks like they may have really dropped the ball.

On Saturday afternoon I could not get warm, even wearing wool socks with my furry leather slippers with the wood stove in the bedroom running full out crazy high while I shivered beneath a pile of quilts so high it looked like I was hiding under a huge fabric crazy meringue. Told Jim that this wasn't a good sign, usually when I start having trouble controlling the hot/cold signals in my body I'm coming down with something. And come down I did. This morning.

Sitting in class trying desperately to focus on the lesson at hand while feeling my head pounding with the thumping bass line coming through the walls from the Korean nail salon next door. Yep, me and my sensory overload getting kicked into gear by noise and flu. After about ninety minutes I started to feel faint and like I might just hurl that delicious spinach feta wrap and latte from Starbucks I'd inhaled earlier. The fact that I followed Starbucks coffee with 7-11 java didn't help any. I left as soon as I realized it was a useless task for me to try and follow anything being said.

Got home and took my temp only to find it was over a hundred. I cannot focus, barely got NLQ updated before having to lay down. Wrote a piece for NLQ but I'm sure it makes no sense at all.

Most of today was spent laying on the sofa watching "Veronica Mars" reruns on Pivot channel while drinking ginger ale and pausing for the occasional Oscillococcium. This time it's not helping. I cannot even read for more than a few minutes without making my headache worse. Better help by tomorrow as I still have way too much to do.

Sort of reminds me of the year when I was 12. Both of my parents and myself came down with the flu a day or so before Christmas. This was the year that my father bought my mother and I each a big five pound box of Elmer's Mastercraft chocolates, the good stuff. Chocoholic me couldn't even look at the box because it turned my stomach and it made me so dizzy to think about eating chocolates. We unwrapped presents that holiday and then all went back to bed for the day.

Talked to Laura early and while she doesn't have the flu she's been fighting some sort of nasty upper respiratory crud, even had to leave work early today. Different times of crud going around right now. Flu epidemic here in my town that is another one not vaccinated for in this year's shot, so bad that the schools have about half the kids out sick. In Laura's town/university it's not the flu, but this lung/head cold. We need a good deep snow to kill off the viruses.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fit Bits, Submission and Gender Roles

When I was down visiting my mother in Louisiana I had lunch with my friend Kay. She and I worked together for some years before I got married and moved to Europe. She was my maid of honor at my wedding.

We were giggling over crawfish etouffee about how strange life has turned out. We're both traditional wives, traditional in the sense that we do all the cleaning, cooking, domestic things and fulfill the 'female' roles in our marriages.

I don't know how it happened, but it did. She seemed to think it was more unusual for me be a traditional 'wife' because of the fact that I had been something of a free spirit in my unmarried days, someone that was open to many things, experimented and didn't have many boundaries. Sometimes when I am down home people that knew me from all those years ago refer to me as 'The Wild Girl', now I'm more 'The Mild Girl (Woman)'

One of the most touching parts of that lunch was revisiting where we both used to work and discovered there were still a handful of people working there we both knew from our time there. A guy named Joe we knew gave us both the sweetest of welcomes and so many hugs, as we reminisced about those days nearly thirty years ago.

Many of my old friends down home are surprised that I'm still married to Jim, saying he was always sort of 'old man-ish', to my wild child. Guess none of them picked up on the fact that his old man side had a craving for wild girl while my wild side wanted security and stability, unconditional love Whatever it is, it still works and works well.

Our various traditional roles we've sort of fallen into have led to some interesting wrinkles. Laura knows I pick out and buy all Christmas presents. I put the tree, decorate the house, cook the food, bake the cookies and hang the outside lights. Jim doesn't help. It's just not his thing and I have never minded. I would rather have things done my way the first time than trying to shepherd or guide someone else into meeting my own creative ideas or standards.

This year Laura is insisting that Jim pick out and purchase one of her Christmas gifts. She sent her dad a link to it on Amazon and told him which stores in our area sell this item, bands for her Fit Bit, but it's done no good. Jim is still confused about it, not sure what it is he's supposed to get.

He's the guy slaying the mastodon and I'm the one out there gathering the herbs and wild onions to cook it with.

I took pity on him and violated Laura's request. Was out shopping at one of the few places in this tiny town that sells Fit Bit bands and bought the last set. I know Laura is feeling like her dad doesn't put any thought or care into her presents, but she doesn't get it that it's something that has always made him feel overwhelmed, it has nothing to do with any lack of love, or not knowing her likes and dislikes. Plus, he's a guy. If she had requested floor mats for her car, or a special NFL jersey he would have been the go-to guy. But, Fit Bits? Not so much.

Neither of us are going to tell her that I am the one that picked up the item. He's going to wrap and present it to her. If this is what she needs to think to feel extra loved so be it. We're not going to bust that bubble. But at the same time I know it's better to step in and do those things for Jim that stress him out. It's a two hour commute one way into Washington DC and his office Monday thru Friday, and many nights he comes home, has dinner and quickly falls asleep. I do what I can to make his life as stress free as possible, I always have. I love him deeply.

But, Suzanne, I hear some of my detractors say, I thought you were against traditional gender roles and the submission of women? There's a big difference between mutually doing what each person can where their talents lie as a couple to make a home and life run smoothly. I hire the plumber, decide when things need to happen like having the roof replaced, which is my next big project. Jim doesn't expect me to consult him on those things, he just expects it to happen.

In a home where Christian submission of women happens no women would dare to plan vacations, buy airline tickets/hotel rooms, pick out a tradesman to do the work around the house, budget for it, write the check, deal with the accountant or the IRS or make big investment decisions. I do all of those things without a second thought because I'm good at them and it takes some of the load off Jim. He knows that these things are things I do well he doesn't do as well.

He does do a great many things well. Just a few: Jim washes the dishes. I hate doing that and he's good at it. He also does the vacuuming due to my asthma. None of that makes him any less masculine or has a damn thing to do with submission.

In my eyes it is way more 'Christian' to do things out of love for the other partner that you can spare them without stupid things like submission or gender roles.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


There are times in my life when I think I'd rather not be in some situations I find myself enmeshed in.

Example: When I was visiting my mother in South Louisiana she insisted we go see the film 'Gone Girl'. I didn't really mind, I'd read the book and knew what the twist was but rarely go to the movies. Part of not going often is that our tiny Southern town has a theater that has but four screens and most of the films are either kiddy flicks or the kind of Hollywood big budget action flick I wouldn't bother to see even if it was free.

What made this particular trip to the movies awkward was as soon as we were seated my mother started talking about Ben Affleck's dick showing up in the movie. Ben Affleck's dick? I'm not interested in seeing Ben Affleck's dick and even less interested in seeing Ben Affleck's dick with my aged mother. Who could only talk about Ben Affleck's dick!

Both of us must have been guzzling down too much diet coke or blinking or whatever because if Ben Affleck's dick made an appearance we sure missed it. We left the theater and my mother was still talking about his dick, wondering where it was and how we could have missed it.

There are just some things I am not prepared to do with my elderly mother, Viewing some actor's junk twenty feet high on the silver screen is one of those things!

Friday I spent the afternoon with other elderly but thankfully no one was shouting about some actor's genitalia. I did my usual volunteer gig down at the blood drive. But this time it was during the day, not Jim and I working the desk for the final two hours. Which meant I had to explain again and again and again to the older retired folk also volunteering during the day who I was and, yes, I do attend this big mainstream church hosting the blood drive.

Even as I find myself on sabbatical from church because lately I'm finding it triggering I found myself having to explain that I only attend the contemporary service, the service with the crazy rock and roll Jesus music. Which led to me having to explain the why of that. Explaining my faith or starting to be lack thereof, turned about as awkward as listening to my poor mother carrying on about wanting to see Ben Affleck's dick.

And the awkward didn't stop. I found myself later at a civic organization meeting that Jim is a part of, just doing the support staff stuff, only to have a few of his friends start talking about the political field of potential presidential candidates. I heard the names 'Bobby Jindal' and 'Ben Carson' tossed about and wished I was merely listening to my mother talking about some strange actor's cock. Straight out of Fox News fear mongering without any original ideas.

Perhaps I was just miffed with the whole Republican thing because Thursday night we stayed up late to see if Jim would have a paycheck the next day. Yet again the budget and monies to operate the federal government were delayed till the last moment.

More and more I'm starting to feel out of step with this world, like a stranger plopped down in a world that seems to have lost its damn mind. Perhaps Jim is right in wanting to move to Costa Rica next winter.