Thursday, March 31, 2016

Of Daffodils, Death and Dastardly Words

There is one, nope, make that two things I intensely dislike about spring. First, to paraphrase the wonderful Mr. Oatmeal - Winter is when miserable water leaks from the skies and Spring is when miserable waters leak from my eyes. Yeah, the high pollen levels are brutal. I live in an allergy pill haze, at least a thicker phase than normal.

The other thing that gets to me happens right around now. Seeing random blooming daffodils in places where there is nothing else. Like a lone daffodil or scrabby scrappy unkept patch of them in in a traffic median or by the side of the road.

Not talking about those orderly well-groomed swaths of the flower in laid out bed between the roads. I'm taking about the accident ones, the ones that someone must have planted many years ago oh so proudly near to their houses and now the daffodils are the only thing left of a life lived long ago. It makes me wonder about who planted that original bulb and how sad it is that this is the only reminder of their lives and homes.

Which brings me to my crazy not-so-great morning. I got up today to see I had a few private messages on Facebook asking me if I'd heard about a former close friend from my old church. Around nine am my phone started blowing up with calls. One was a dear friend of mine I've managed to stay friends with post-fundamentalist church leaving. The rest were all ladies from my former church that turned on me when I left, only deciding to be pleasant and semi-friendly to me again once Possum Creek Church imploded and split again before renaming itself Creekside Church.

What everyone wanted to tell me was about the impending death of my former friend. The lady I'm still friends with and I had a nice discussion, even if she'd had some pretty significant issues with the dying lady.

The rest? Contacting me to try and gossip. They were mistakenly laboring under the idea that dying lady and I were still thick as thieves, like we were at church. I'd stopped having much to do with her once she called me one day and told me I had to decide between my friendship with her and a certain bit of theology. I told my friend that day that this is not how friendship works and if she was going to try to control what I believed then it was nice knowing her and I hope she had a wonderful life.

My last contact with her came through her husband, good friend of Tom Smith. Her husband sent a pile of ugly nasty emails to my poor husband Jim, just like Tom Smith did, when we dared move our membership to a mainline denomination. Screeds promising hell, torture, fire and brimstone for leaving Possum Creek. They said they would be praying for live coals to be dumped on our heads so that we'd been tortured and convicted to turn back to the old church. Last contact ever.

There was a pile of potential slut-shaming going on in the words of the ones calling me that aren't my friends. Most of them blamed my former friend's cervical cancer on 'promiscuity' This is another one of those big lies that Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity loves to push as the truth when really it's when you contract HPV that your risk of cervical cancer goes up. I had some choice things to say to the ones whispering condemning slut shaming words about this lady having cancer. This was, of course, all wrapped in the guise of wanting to let me know so I could pray for her. Followed by asking me a pile of questions because they wrongly assumed we are still best of friends.

They don't care about her. They just wanted to gossip and try to pick my brain for any details I might have. I have none.

Pointing out to them that regular pap smears and checkups tend to catch things like cervical cancer while they are still treatable fell on more than a few deaf ears during these phone calls. Going to the doctor for regular checkups was looked down upon and shunned in the old church. Take your supplements and avoid doctors is the modus operandi of many there, which is why there were some very preventable deaths that happened while I was a member.

By the time they found this lady's cancer it had spread to her brain, liver and other organs. It's beyond treatment now. I'm so sad for her and her family. Mostly I'm sad because in all the years I knew her she was incredibly unhappy, unsatisfied with her husband, her life, her kids. She's dying and leaving not much more behind than straggling out of place daffodils. What a waste of a life trapped unhappily in a toxic system

When our friendship ended, like it did with strange demands that seem normal in a high demand faith group, I mourned my loss of her. She'd been the only other one at our church that I could get to go out and do spontaneous fun activities with. I remember a long ago rainy Virginia summer afternoon we spent smoking cigars, drinking homemade wine and using an air rifle to murder tin cans off a porch rail. We both snuck away from the ladies retreat to do that one. We'd gone on vacation together, got belly button piercings together and shared our sorrows and joys with each other. When she forced me to chose between her and my involvement with the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship it was really hard. It felt like she'd died.

So when the gossip brigade of old church regulars came a calling I'd already mourned her loss. Hearing the news just made me disgusted with the waste of years she's spent being unhappy and creating problems with all the way out there ways she tried to fix her unhappiness, only to find it returning. I pray her family finds a way to say goodbye and that she draws whatever comfort she can find from her beliefs. Hopefully none of the prayer-gossipers make her last days miserable.

Don't waste your life unhappily stuck in something that hurts you. Do those things that matter to you while you have the chance.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Spring Break

It's only Wednesday and it's already been a difficult week. Jim isn't getting any substitute teaching assignments due to it being Spring Break here. I'm being rubbed the wrong way by him, have been pretty angry over some of his behavior and been calling him out on it. Plus the asthma is bad again. Oh joy!

When the asthma's this bad I tend to walk around in my amphetamine-like haze hating on things randomly, like the very loud mouthed gal in the college lounge yesterday when I was attempting to work on No Longer Quivering. Her voice just kept cutting into my brain like a buzz saw. I'm still patting myself on my back for not going off on her or saying a word. Loud talkers bother me normally, but filled with asthma drugs and it becomes another level altogether.

But that's a good thing, right? That ability to control oneself when you really feel like visiting physical harm on someone for some very silly thing?

You know what else is a good thing? Not having to tiptoe around and bottle your ire or irritation with your spouse like you must in fundamentalism. The ability to be real and express your feelings, even when the feelings aren't nice ones.

I still struggle to find balance post-fundy town, knowing I sometimes overreact and I sometimes do or say the wrong thing. But I'm real now, unlike I was all those years before. That feels good. A real Spring Break.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Generation Gaps

Life is teaching me anew how deep the generation gaps run via various forms of entertainment and media. I just finished reading a book a friend recommended to me knowing I love history, I love classic literature and that I did an extensive reading on the Tudor dynasty a few year ago. The book was 'Forever Amber' by Kathleen Winsor.

That's a number of hours of my life I cannot get back! This book is considered  to be the first 'romance' novel written and published all the way back in the 1940s. Which makes me wonder what the hell passed for romance in those days. The main character, Amber St. Clare, spends the entire book trying to twist the arm of her first lover, Lord Bruce Carlton into marrying her. That's when she wasn't trying to gain social position and/or money by either boffing any man that might help her, and marrying more than a few of them along the way. She also kills one of her husbands after sleeping with his adult son because she's having fits of boredom living out in the sticks away from her changes to seduce King Charles II.

There's no romance. No sensuality or sex. Amber also has a pile of abortions and a handful of children as a consequence of using her magic vagina to further her fortunes. Nothing redeemable about her in this book.

The book also was not helped by the many typos in the Kindle version and the rambling repetitive storyline should have been reigned in by a decent content editor.

But the most shocking thing about this supposedly shocking poorly-written tome is the hundreds of reviews on Amazon saying this was the best, most historical, romantic, greatest book written. I have to conclude that those positive reviews are from women who are extremely sheltered and this is the first novel they've read or some extremely old little old ladies from a time when showing your ankle would be a sinful thing.

The only generation gap incident that happened this week was when I posted a clip of 'Mr Show's' parody of 'Jesus Christ Super Star' on a much younger friend's Facebook wall he thought it was stupid and a waste of time. It took me awhile but eventually I figured out he'd never seen the movie the clip was parodying. Yeah, it would suck and make no sense at all if you didn't see the movie. Plus it's not a movie he would have seen in his mostly fundamentalist Christian life either.

Guessing perspective and context change your view of things more than I initially realized.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail

Recently I started thinking about Easter in our run up to the holiday. It's been good, it's been bad and it's been quite strange.

When I was a kid, growing up in what I would have to term a religiously-schizophrenic home with a Catholic mother and an Episcopalian father and Methodist grandparents I never knew for sure where we were going to go to church for Easter that year. It all depended on who was talking to whom, who was where and various other dysfunctional family follies.

I knew three things for sure about Easter. 1. At least one grownup would get shit-faced drunk and rehash some boring old ancient grievance that would end the afternoon with someone in tears and someone else leaving in a huff. Ham and indigestion, unlike Thanksgiving, which is turkey and indigestion from this same behavior.

2. My Easter basket would be overflowing candy and goodies.

3. I'd be forced to wear something frilly and girly in some hideous pastel shade with white patent leather shoes when I'd rather wear jeans and a tee shirt. Ugh. This was my mother's idea.

A memory popped into my mind recently about Easter. Something I'd never share with my husband or anyone till the other day. For more than a few years every Saturday before Easter my sainted mother would ask me to help her put together Easter baskets for the children of the sharecropper family that lived on my grandfather's farm. I never quite understood why until years later when a family member spilled the gin-soaked beans - those kids were my grandfather's other kids. Yes, so somewhere out there I have half-aunts and uncles. I wonder about them, and hope this holiday finds them well.

When I had a family of my own I dropped large family get togethers with alcohol and resentments, moving far away from my family of origin, continuing on with the piles of candy tradition and made a few of our own new traditions, like making these chow mein noodle and melted marshmallow nests with jelly bean bird eggs and baking Jim's mother's sugar cookie recipe.

Once we joined our fundamentalist church Easter, like all holidays, took on insane levels of stress, pressure and conformity. Everything had to be P-E-R-F-E-C-T. I made my kids dress up much like my mother did me. I dressed up and we all went to church followed by a lavish sit down dinner I'd started slaving over two days before. In the aftermath I was always wiped out and wanted nothing more than to sleep for days.

When we got out of our old fundamentalist church I never wanted to dress up and do things 'the right way' ever again. One Easter we did a picnic with another family up in the Shenandoah Park, but now that the kids are grown and out on their own we usually bring some casual food up there and do a relaxed Easter dinner. That's what we're going to do tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it. Today I did the deviled eggs, the Easter nests, the cookies and the potato salad. Tomorrow morning I'll make the Virginia ham biscuits and the others attending will do most of the sides.

Now looking back at all the various Easters I have to say our relaxed no pressure one is the best one for me. Expectations suck. Fighting relatives suck worse. Sometimes church really sucks.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Josh Duggar, Second Chances, Forgiveness and Grace - Your Actions Reveal Your True Beliefs

One of the stories I loved the most in the Bible takes place after the crucifixion of Jesus and his return to the land of the living. John 21:1 -17. It's a simple story. Peter and some of the disciples are fishing. Peter is filled with guilt from having denied Jesus three times before his death. It's not a pretty scene, guilt, self-torture, fishing. But turns out that Jesus is on the beach, cooking breakfast and calls to them all, 'Y'all come eat!' No recriminations, no castigating them, no calling them over for an ass whupping all of them likely deserve. Jesus is concerned with meeting their most immediate needs and later their deeper spiritual needs.

I don't like much of the Bible, or believe that every word is true. Too many translations, too many flawed human hands this book has passed through. But I do love the stories of Jesus in it. Even to this day and the tale of Jesus simply feeding his friends has always touched me in a very deep way.

Today as I was reading the latest issue of In Touch Weekly my mind kept returning to that very forgiving Christ cooking on the beach for his disciples that didn't deserve it. Why? Well, this week had a story about Josh Duggar returning home to his family from one of those 'unnamed Duggar insiders' that just goes against much of what the Duggars claim to believe, professed to believe on Fox New's Megan Kelly show and sure didn't have anything in common with simple Jesus the beach breakfast chef.

Obviously many of the things Josh Duggar has done are clearly wrong. I'm not about to suggest he's not in the wrong, but he's not Satan's Little Helper either. He's just a guy, human and flawed like all of us. The article called Josh's return into the family fold the 'Homecoming from hell', suggesting that while Jim Bob and Michelle are making noises about Josh continuing on with therapy and that how they've all forgiven him it's not the truth at all.

Apparently behind the scenes many in the family weren't happy to see him return. Jill Duggar Dillard is known to have regretted her tearful appearance stating that she forgives her brother. She doesn't and is likely still dealing with what he did to her.  There's rumored to not be much real forgiveness going on within the family Some members don't even want to see him again, even if they are not above using Anna 's appearance and feelings about Josh's actions on the new show to reel in viewers.

What gives with that? The Duggars keep stating that they've forgiven Josh publicly and they are behaving contrary to that behind the scenes? It does not say much about what they believe, except perhaps the main thing they believe in and worship is not God so much as it is money. They're still angry that Josh's actions put the family finances in serious jeopardy for a long time.

The problem with that is that I think that most people can see through the fake, and faking it is what the new television show 'Counting On' seems to be about. I hope that the usual viewers of the Duggars recognize the serious cognitive dissonance going on between their words and what their actions are.

I think Jesus would have had no problem cooking breakfast for Josh, no matter what he'd done. Not just for in front of the cameras or in the media either. His acceptance, love and forgiveness would be genuine. Someone, in his family or in his community, is going to have to extend grace, help him overcome shame, blame and the likely huge amount of continued guilt being heaped upon him.

However most of us aren't so much like Jesus, even as many Christians love to pretend that they are. I almost feel sorry for Josh Duggar, knowing the judgment and petty behaviors he'll be subjected to for likely the rest of his life in his community.

Part of their religious posturing makes me nuts because of things like this, pretending everything is all a-okay while refusing to actually legitimately deal with the bad things, the bad things that their own warped theology involving normal human sexuality, needs and desires created. You cannot create a Frankenstein and then be surprised when he runs amok in the village.

That rehab, oh please! Reformers Unanimous, isn't a place to really dig into your issues, take responsibility for the things you've done and make the Herculean attempt to change. The type of legitimate therapy that would have genuinely benefited Josh Duggar isn't found there. I hold very little hope of there being any legitimate long term change or growth without legitimate treatment. Likely at some far in the future date we'd get word of another sex scandal involving Josh, something much worse than an Ashley Madison account and sex with a stripper. No one will be surprised.  I hope not, but am half-expecting it if things continue on in the same ways within the Duggar family. It's not an emotionally healthy environment for much of anyone.

One of the things that Josh Duggar learned in his Quiverfull family is that only appearances count. He learned that saying the right Christian buzzwords, controlling his behavior and words around his family was enough to fool them. He learned what so many of us in high demand religious environments learn quickly, to compartmentalize our lives and to hide those things we are taught we shouldn't be doing instead of just being our true selves around everyone. The culture of that life teaches surface conformity and lying as survival skills necessary to retain your own sanity and to cover the actions you take to meet your needs. 

Some of the family says that they cannot allow Josh around their children, and that's pretty understandable in light of what he did to his sisters in his teens. But their keeping him away from children should have happened after the first incident, not at this late date. This should have happened ten years ago, not so much now considering he's not molested any children since the incidents with his sisters and the one girl.

No one in the family should automatically trust him. Trust must be earned and he has clearly violated their trust. Forgiving someone doesn't mean you immediately allow them to resume a position where they have the power to hurt you even further. He has work to do in regaining trust, even with Anna.

But I personally believe in second chances, beach breakfasts or not. Part of me is hoping that what comes out of this mess is that Josh Duggar comes clean with his own feelings and needs, and breaks away from the dysfunctional life he's been spoonfed by his parents, and he comes into his own, that he makes the most of his second chances without too much negativity. Sometimes when you hit bottom it's the thing you needed in the first place. Hitting bottom gives you the freedom to be real.

Some folks want Jinger to be free. That would be nice, but first I'd love to see Josh Duggar overcome what he's done and make something valuable and real happen with the next 28 years of his life. Take Anna and the kids and RUN Josh!

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Day I Was Shamed For The Wrong Toilet Paper!

Nope, not going to whine about my asthma, even if it's hella bad right now.

Instead I want to tell the tale that I had not thought of in years. I remembered this after putting up a Quoting Quiverfull at No Longer Quivering where there was a quiverfull mother throwing shade on a big fancy house she looked at and it seemed more like sour grapes over something she couldn't afford in the first place.

Yeah, I get it that sometimes when something is way way out of your reach it's sometimes easy on your mind,  your nerves and your psyche if you sniff and say something derogatory about the person/place/thing you cannot have. But I'd forgotten I saw this in action at my old church a number of times in some of the stupidest ways imaginable.

One incident stands out and it involves someone that seemed to be in a bad mood all the time even when we were both on worship team together at the old church. I've run into her a scant handful of times since leaving and time plus distance hasn't improved her mood. She tried to chew me out recently for behaving with kindness and simple politeness towards her husband in a chance encounter at a local restaurant. She seemed to think I was going to try and poach her poor mountain man husband, which is utterly ridiculous. I was just being polite.You'd have to pay me to take him, not that there's anything wrong with him, he's just so not my type.

Once back when we were on worship team together we held a worship team get together at my home, a potluck. I volunteered to host it that year even if my house isn't the largest. Everyone seemed to have a good time, at least until she, I'll call her Jane, pulled me aside to complain about my toilet paper.

I was puzzled about what on earth Jane could be so annoyed about with my toilet paper. At the time I was using that Charmin tissue that's ultra soft. Jane gave me a telling off for, get this, wasting money on expensive toilet paper. I shit you not. I remember being taken aback that she would pick that to criticize me for, but I guess if you're that tightly controlling and trying to control everyone around you then toilet paper might fall under the heading of important. 

To this day I'm not entirely sure why my toilet paper being so soft was a sin, but after viewing this particular Quoting Quiverfull I am starting to think I somehow touched a nerve. Jane and her husband Jack lived in near squalor in a tiny old mobile home on his disability checks, so now I'm wondering if her telling me I was wasting money came out of their poverty and envy.

I don't get that. I have friends and family that have bigger or nicer homes, go on fabulous vacations, have fancier cars, you-name-it and I begrudge them none of that. I'm simply happy for them. And I sure do not judge anyone on what type of toilet paper they buy.

So much of fundamentalist Christianity seems to be built upon minding other people's business in bizarre ways and throwing shade at anyone not in complete agreement with you. What a sad limiting way to live. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It's Spring!

Today was an emotionally difficult day. I was interviewed by a journalist for quite a stretch and really touched upon some deep emotional wounds I still have from joining our old church. Most of the triggering memories involved the serious illness of my youngest child and my desperate bargaining with God to spare her life. Difficult times.

What wasn't a difficult memory is something I witnessed this morning when I went out to my car, a couple of birds flapping around together on the lawn.

When Laura was around 7 and Andy 10 years old we were going shopping one bright spring afternoon. As we pulled into the shopping center parking lot we could see a bird flapping around, like maybe it was injured. 'Mommy, let's help the bird, it's hurt!' Laura said so we drove up to the bird.

Just as we got close I could see the bird wasn't injured. It was two birds and they were doing that thing that most wild critters do every spring, they were going at it hammer and tongs, not caring that they were madly screwing in front of everyone in the Safeway parking lot.

That was one of those times in my mothering of the kids that I had to bite my tongue to keep from braying with laughter when the kids also realized what the birds were doing. I heard chorus of 'Ewww!' and 'Gross!' from the back seat of the car.

Yes, it's that time of year again, wild animals copulating everywhere..

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The No-Good Awful-Bad Dope Filled Day

Ironically yesterday when I was extolling the wonders of Xolair I didn't know what today held.

Last night I had two mild bouts of asthma, both after eating a few corn tortilla chips by Frito Lay. After realizing what was causing the wheezing I had to scan the back of the bag for likely culprits. It seems that they fry the chips in either sunflower seed oil or canola oil. In the distant past I've reacted to sunflower seed oil so I'm guessing that's it. Or perhaps the canola oil is a new allergy for me.

It starts with tingling in the mouth after eating an offending food, followed by feeling my airways get very tight. It happens in a matter of seconds. I spit out the food, medicate and move on.

So today when I got up and went to church I knew I'd been reacting lately to a few different things, like the chips, random people's colognes and cleaning products, but the reactions were relatively mild and I always get away from the trigger and medicate. And then today happened.

Jim and I managed to find the key and get into the church office to start counting the offering. Our church has three different services. When I arrived the offering for two of the services had already been collected and the people asked to fill in for this weekend weren't there. Yeah, we went into the office to make sure the counters were working and they weren't even there.

Back in August the pastor tasked Jim with running the offering counting, telling him to take charge, come up with the official method we would use and make sure everyone knew it. His decision. It's been chaos, sometimes devolving into the cranky cluster-you-know-what.

It's been chaos, but Jim finally came up with an effective way to do it, and I've joined him on the team pitching in when the counters do not show up, like today. Today was really not a big deal because immediately after church we were having a meeting of the team of people counting so that Jim could train everyone to do it to his standards. We swung into action, I did counting and organizing for the deposit and Jim started recording the transactions into the computer. We hadn't been doing it long when the counter team that had asked to trade weekends and count this Sunday finally showed up.

As more people started to arrive for the meeting one newer lady to the team I did not know showed up. As she walked through the door and past where I sat at the counting desk I just about fell over. She reeked of some very nasty cheap cologne that made my vocal cords slam shut. I went into my crazy rescue breathing method I was taught at Johns Hopkins to keep my vocal cords opening when I was exposed to something. I got up and went across the room, pawing through my purse for my portable nebulizer.

A couple folks started asking me if I was alright, I had to shake my head no and leave the room, still rummaging in my bag for the neb. Made it all the way down to the cool church basement, got out my neb while still doing the rescue breathing. By this point it was close, my lips, mouth and windpipe were tingling, my airways closed to a tiny hole and I was wheezing like crazy. Tossed in my pills, managed to fill the neb with Xopenex and start inhaling. Took three treatments to get any relief. I had out my epipen ready to use if it got any worse.

By that time some of the folks that know me that were in the basement saw I was struggling and almost made me start crying with their care and kindness, getting me a chair to sit in, fetching water, offering to drive me either to the ER or home. But the medicines started working some by that point and I thanked them and drove the five minutes home, knowing that once the allergy meds took full effect I needed to be somewhere comfortable and horizontal. I texted Jim what was going on because he'd been surrounded by people and talking, I wasn't sure he knew what happened.

One of the terrible tolls the attacks take on me is that when the attack is bad the adrenaline that floods my body sends me into a panic attack. If I'm home and it's happening I deal. I take my Ativan, lay down somewhere I feel safe (like under my desk) and keep telling myself that this too will pass, that's it's just my body's way of reacting. The panic attack happened while I was still at church, still wheezing and struggling to breath. I used my nebulizer and cried silly tears while wishing I was dead and feeling like the end of the world was here. Those asthma induced panic attacks are a horrible thing.

Once home the most I could do was lay on the sofa and watch television while oozing tears and whispering to myself that it was alright, like I'm some toddler. Four hours horizontal.

When Jim got home he was sympathetic, bringing me lunch and something to drink, watching television with me. But as the afternoon waxed on he reminded me again we had tickets to see the DC Balalaika Orchestra that afternoon. I didn't want to go, feeling so crummy I just wanted to do what I need to do after a bad attack, lay down and rest.

He insisted we go, that it was going to be fun, and I'd be in a safe place. We went and it was a pretty big mistake. Never ever ever ever again will I let him persuade me to do anything in the aftermath of a serious asthma bout.

We got to the theater and because I was fearful of having another attack I asked the box office attendant if I could possibly sit in the balcony, well off to the side, away from everyone else just so I wouldn't be exposed to lots of people and their possible colognes. Yes, this is one of those very rare occasions I asked for my ADA accommodations. Of course, said the box office guy, the balcony is closed because they have a film crew up there, but all I had to due was tell the usher the same thing I told him and I could have that accommodated, be seated away from anyone up in the closed balcony.

I've done this before at other venues when I'm having an asthmatic week. The Kennedy Center has allowed me special seating well away from the bulk of the crowd. I've had isolated balcony seating at the Castleton festival and other classical music venues we attend. Most places are willing to work with you if you have an ADA request if they can.

This time I got to the usher, repeated my request only to be told a firm 'no', that no one would be seated in the balcony for any reason, even an ADA accommodation,  We went into the theater and sat down. It was a milder version of that morning, but as soon as we were seated I started wheezing hard again. Ended up moved all the way down almost to the stage away from some of the crowd and it helped some. But by that time the panic attack was back as I used my portable nebulizer again and threw in more Ativan. I spent the first half of the performance silently weeping in the grips of the panic attack as Russian music filled the large restored theater.

Afterward, as we were leaving a lady stopped me and wanted to know if I knew where the elevator to the street level was, gesturing to an older lady barely able to stand, hanging onto the handle of her Zimmer frame (walker). They couldn't figure out how to get her out of there. While this was going on the clueless ushers were cleaning the place all around us.

Sadly I think this is going to be my first and last visit to this venue, the State Theater in Culpeper, Virginia. Clearly the staff has no idea or desire to help out anyone needing special assistance I'd say from my observations today. From looking around I see no areas you could possibly put a wheelchair and the many steps inside the auditorium would be a challenge for anyone with a walker. I'm thinking a complaint to the office that handles ADA violations might be in order tomorrow morning.

I guess I'm going to have to start being a real bitch and standing up for my own needs in the face of indifference. that was one of the things they were working with me about at therapy in the asthma research part of Johns Hopkins. I carried out of my old church the inability to stand up for myself, just smile and put the wants of others first.

Too bad because I would have loved to have gone to this venue more often. Many years ago when we first built our house here the only job I could find that didn't involve driving into DC and left me stay home with my children during the day was working as one of the managers of the local movie theater. When Jim got home from his day gig with the military at one of the listening posts here I'd hand the children off to him and go to work.

The State Theater was part of the chain I worked for. I worked in the sister theater across  town, a two screen theater built in a shopping center in the mid70s that lacked all the charm and grace of the State, which dated back to vaudeville days. During my nights at my theater I would occasionally get a call from the manager of the State that they didn't have a projectionist or change, or popcorn cups or whatever and be pressed into duty skeedaddling across town to help out.

The State is haunted and I've wondered since it was remodeled and opened as a live music venue if any of the people there now have had experiences like many of us did back in the days it was a movie house.. Just about everyone that worked the old State has seen old Mr. Pitt who built the place standing silently up in the balcony and seen his image slowly fade away.

The projection booth was also a paranormal hot spot. It was not unusual to go up into the projection booth, set out your tools, your splicer, your tape, lock the door and go downstairs to help main the concession stand and return to the booth a half hour later to find your things rearranged. Not in disarray, but neatly laid out in way you did not leave them. It's unnerving when it's a midnight showing and you know you're the only person in the place with a key to that door.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Truth About Xolair

One of the highly inaccurate things I saw reported on this week was at Alternet. One of their writers did a piece about the drug I was on for just shy of eight years - Xolair. The writer did a grave disservice to the many asthmatics out there by their allegations against the drug and the pharmacy company.

They alleged that Big Pharma was intentionally ripping people off with Xolair because of the insanely high cost of the drug and that doctors were prescribing this dangerous drug for anyone that even slightly wheezed once.

Here's the truth: Yes, the drug has a 'Black Box' warning from the FDA. Yes, it very slightly increases your chance of cancer. Yes, some folks on it have had strokes and heart attacks. But, as my favorite pulmonologist used to say that the population of Xolair users were much sicker than the average asthmatic to start with so you were automatically going to see higher rates of heart attacks and strokes. Add in the fact that epipens can bring on both of those conditions as well as severe asthma attacks alone can cause a stroke or heart attack and you're in the high risk group for those things in the first place.

He thought that the risk was likely less than what was reported because severe asthmatics are already prone to higher rates of stroke, heart attacks and death in the first place.

Another truth bomb debunking that article. They are claiming that doctors are willy-nilly writing Xolair scripts for anyone. Seriously? You're more likely to be able to get either Oxycontins or Adderal by the handful from your doctor than Xolair. It's an injectable drug of last choice. That means they've tried you on every available asthma drug in the known universe with no effect before they can even considering putting you on it. Before Xolair I was on freaking Methotrexate, a type of chemotherapy,  for over a year because everything else had been tried and failed.

You have to have high IgE rates in your blood before you're considered a good candidate too. Normal is a 100 or lower. When I was put on Xolair my IgE rates hovered around 27,000 and I was ending up in the ER two or three times a week in a respiratory crisis with an epipen hanging out of my leg.

Then there's dealing with your insurance company, who likely as not will be demanding a pile of tests, from blood and skin allergy testing to all sorts of other things before they'll consider it. In my case the insurance company decided it would be cheaper to pay for the drug than to have me running up huge hospital bills from being in the ER like clockwork and sometimes waking up intubated in the ICU.

Once you get your prescription you'll find that the few mail order pharmacies that ship Xolair are going to make you jump through hoops just to get the stuff. Every time you have an order due to ship to your doctor they'll want to speak to you first, question you about any possible side effects, sometimes order tests before they ship and as always, extract your credit card to pick up the copay for this pricey tiny vials of white powder that gets turned into a paste and injected into your arm at the doctor's office.  The security of Fort Knox.

It's a pain in the ass for the doctors office to get, store and inject you with. My doctor had me coming in so often for the shots that he decided to wave all copay fees for me. Does that sound like a greedy doctor trying to milk and bill for every single thing? Nope.

When they start you on Xolair you are told it's Black Box and why. I had to sign papers stating that I understood the risks and accepted responsibility for risks. I did it. You know why? Because at that point I was so sick with nearly constant allergic asthma that if my doctor had told me to eat a bowl of cat turds daily to cure it I would have said 'Pass the tabasco sauce please and hand me that spoon.'

For me it was the answer, or at least it was for nearly eight years. While I still had asthma and had attacks when exposed to allergens it gave me my life mostly back. Instead of walking past someone eating peanuts or smoking or wearing a very chemically laden cologne and going into a life threatening anaphalaxis reaction I merely coughed and wheezed a little bit and moved on past.

I had very few side effects. I do not have cancer. I have not had a heart attack or a stroke. But the sad fact with Xolair is for most patients it just suddenly stops working between the two year and five year mark. For me it worked until about eight years and I had to stop the drug. Since that time I've been tried on a pile of newer drugs, including a couple of other biologics like Xolair that are experimental right now with little success. I'm a patient at the Johns Hopkins Allergy and Asthma Research Center and also at the NHI asthma drug trials. So far I'm back to avoiding things and carrying my epipen. Thankfully my IgE levels haven't gone back up to scary high numbers. The Xolair bought me some longer term relieve apparently. 

You see all those ads out there for 'biologic' medicines for different types of immune system illnesses like RA, or Crohns disease and a host of others? All of those medicines came out of the research for Xolair.

The drug companies might charge too much and push some of their meds a little too hard, but for those of us without other options we're informed and ready to try the drugs of last resort if we get sick enough.

I'm waiting for the next big thing. I've already been ruled a poor candidate for Bronchial thermoplasty and none of the new classes of drugs are working well for me. They have to test these treatments on some folks, why not the ones of us open to it?

If you've stumbled here from a search on Xolair because your doctor is talking about treating you with it please know that it does work well for some people. You get used to having the shots after a few times. There are worse things, like dying from an asthma attack.

Relearning Simplicity

I'm still sick. It's like last time I had this infection. Good day (yesterday) followed by bad day (today). The only thing I accomplished today was running the bucket of washcloths I've been using as hot compresses through the sanitize steam cycle on my washer. Yes, I am back to having to sterilize anything I use to keep Jim from picking this antibiotic resistant infection up.

Sometimes I don't realize just how far I've gone from my old 'do everything perfectly' until I run up against situations and realize it's okay to be imperfect, to be wrong, to do things in a way opposite everything I was taught at my old church.

Example: Today, dragging around with a high fever wanting just to lay down. Started feeling like i needed something sweet and had nothing like that around here. I've been good, eaten right so I decided I was going to give in the to craving.

I started to go right back into my old fundamentalist mother mode. I pulled out the stainless steel mixing bowl, the butter, the eggs, the flour and prepared to start making brownies. Quickly realized because I cook and eat very differently now that I had nowhere near enough cocoa to make brownies. I was deflated, dashed hopes and expectations, almost started to mentally berate myself for failing to keep a fully stocked pantry, like I used to do in my old cult church days when I cooked copiously from scratch every single day.

Yeah, I got huge freaking piles of kale and things like yogurt, tofu and fruit, but nothing sweet and that says 'comfort food'

What did I do? I went to the local Starbucks for a latte and a single fresh scone. It was enough. I didn't feel guilty. I didn't beat myself up for failing to make brownies, doing the easy thing, spending money or any of the countless guilt buttons this would have been pushed in my old days.

I got an assortment of scones, doughnuts and danishes for the house just in case my husband Jim wants one.

Life is just so much more simple outside of the cult church walls where a scone is really just a scone without moral value or guilt.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Quarentined Again

Life is simply not as much fun when you cannot go anywhere because you might infect the masses. Plus it's hard to drive when you cannot barely see out of only swollen infected eye and the other eye is doing wonky things.

It's made using the computer and working a strange experience for sure. 

Yesterday I was really feeling just how sick I was. When there were things I had to do that I could not put off (banking/investment-related stuff) I trailed behind Jim sort of like this...

Yeah, that's it. I wish I could have been drug along laying down while Jim did all the adulting yesterday. I wasn't happy about spreading my cooties around the bank president's office. Meh.

The rest of the day was spent laying down on the chaise lounge on the deck trying to read a book about the St. Francis Dam collapse back in the 20s near Los Angeles. Finally I just gave up and did something I didn't need to see for. I crocheted. I can crochet in pitch blackness. I can crochet stoned out of my gourd on pain medications. I can crochet without looking at my hands once.

Today, thankfully, the medicines are finally starting to work so I wasn't horizontal all day. I did a few things like laundry and bread baking that must go on no matter how sick one gets. Even cleaned the kitchen. But the funniest part of the day was when my neighbor's kid was walking home from the high school and spied me using my vacuum on the nice deck carpeting. He got a huge kick out of the fact that I was vacuuming out side. Squirrel shit and pine needles.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Eyeache my Ear - MRSA House and Dreaming of Costa Rica

Just found out this morning that the painful burning of my left eye and lids is the reappearance of the MRSA infection I've been plagued with every since the day before Thanksgiving. Last week my hand/thumb and fingers on my right hand started itching and turning 50 shades of red before yesterday afternoon my left eye lids swelling and itching.

This is bout number 3. Does not seem to want to go away, never mind if I'm getting IV antibiotics, oral antibiotics and other meds. This thing just wants to ramble all the way around. Switcheroo meds yet again, another hour in the infusion center for re hydration and other meds and sent home with more meds after giving up more blood for blood cultures and another nasal swab.

But I am starting to recognize this thing before it emerges. First I get horribly dehydrated no matter hw much fluid I am drinking, the body siphons that off and sends it to the getting infected part. This time my left eye, eyelids and sinuses.  The next step is that I get a fever, followed by pain in a few hours. Don't let me kid anyone, the pain from the infection is one of the worst pains I've ever had. I've had natural childbirth, a finger nail removed without anesthesia and broken bones. This cannot compare.The final thing that happens before the extreme swelling and redness is I start feeling horrible, like I just finished ten rounds in the ring with the current UFC champ and now all I want to do is lay down and rest. Everything about my body screams 'Lay down right now.'

When I had the 'lay down right now' response to the simple task of getting up, getting dressed and making coffee I knew it was drag my self to the doctor asap. So I did.

The thing that is maddening about all of this is that its very likely I picked up this infection at the hospital back in early November.

The only fun bit of all of this is that sitting in the waiting room with some folks I know that have returned from central America with some sort of crud was discussion of our respective vacations since he and my husband have retired. They're headed to Arenal, Costa Rica soon and I shared not to pay the fancy hotel thirty  bucks each to sit in the thermal water pools heated by the volcano but drive on the main road out of La Fortuna looking for where the locals have parked their cars and congregated to sit for free in the natural bubbling springs coming out of the volcano.

I also told them as much as I could about the wellness resort we stayed at in La Fortuna, the Green Lagoon, one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever stayed at on the edge of the waterfalls and just below the deep green waters of the dead volcano turned lagoon. Take a look.....

The view from the hotel spa down into the valley

Looking down across someone's farm from our hotel room.

Another view, this time from the hotel pool area. See how grey the sky is? That's smoke the volcano park at Arenal, it's still an active volcano.

After an arduous 45 minute climb, much of up straight up, you arrive at the lava field from the last eruption, as far up the volcano as they will allow you to get..

And best of all, a delicious drink at a local restaurant made of mashed bananas, Bailey's Irish Cream and rum. All the restaurants we ate at were open air like this, a raised roof held up by poles. Once a gang of monkeys came into the restaurant and started fiddling with everything, people's cameras, cell phones, delicious adult beverages, you name it.

The very unfun bit of the trip? Having a friend from my old church message me that all the haters were watching my vacation photos going up on my Facebook wall and talking about what a sinful spendthrift heathen I'd turned into.

When I encounter those types of folks there's always a part of me that really just wants to mess with them in a bad way. My good and bad sides start fighting, just like they did in 'Animal House' for Larry Kroger. Warning: Clip below contains bare boobs and lots of colorful vulgarities so if you're easily offended do not watch.

I'm just like this when confronted with the choice of tormenting idiots that are wishing bad things upon me, or being the nice girl, the good girl and doing the right thing. Usually I'm a sap like Larry here and I don't squeeze anyone's gazongas or take advantage of them.

Costa Rica was one of the few times when I went with the mischievous evil inside. The next day, knowing that those folks with nothing better to do were dissecting and discussing my vacation drove me to post a photo of me at the resort's outside spa getting a massage while having a mango, rum and coconut refreshing adult beverage while talking about how awesome being naked outside at the spa was. I could almost hear the pearl necklaces being ripped apart in frustration.

That was another wonderful thing about the resort, the spa was built into the side of the mountain out of volcanic rock with the massage area outside in the sunshine on the rock terrace. Just the idea of being able to be completely naked outside while drinking rum and having a masseuse manipulating my body was a very far place from the jumper wearing face enhancing collars I once wore.

Sometimes ringing the chimes of some gossipy biddies with nothing better to do feels pretty good...

When Online Interactions Get Stupid....

A few minutes ago I found a posting at Melissa of Progressive Quiverful's site demanding I admit I was wrong and apologize?

For what?

The only thing I did 'wrong' was assuming that she was telling a fib about being hacked because the dickish move of erasing blog posts and claiming hacking seems to be one thing that super immature Christian Quiverfull bloggers seem prone to do whenever they get any pushback online. I've seen it before and I'm sure I'll see it again.

Once someone yesterday sent me a screen shot of the hack I removed the paragraph doubting that she'd been hacked. Today I received a decent email from Melissa so I took down a few posts and edited a few more because I didn't want to make her stress levels any higher. I said in my email to Melissa that dialogue with others is good and encouraged her to dialogue with our NLQ commenters.

Yes, I was wrong to assume Melissa was not truthful about her website hack, but that's it. I tried to reach out with an olive branch, silly me. I explained who was and wasn't a Christian in the rundown of a few writers at NLQ. I pointed out what negative history NLQ has with Free Jinger. I tried to encourage her to interact with us in much the same way mVaughn Ohlan has.

I know there are many that dislike Vaughn who post at NLQ, but as I've stated before, he's open to discussion and many are not. Actually, he's capable of rational discussion when most others aren't. Capable and willing, which is why I tried to point Melissa in my email towards discussion with us.  Vaughn really did not deserve the it's all about sex bashing that Cenk Uygar gave him recently on The Young Turks. Cenk did no research and got so many things wrong.

She's also objecting that I used her own words on modesty and not celebrating Christmas in NLQ's Quoting Quiverfull feature, apparently wanting me to say I was wrong for that. Reposting the words of another to illustrate some of the extreme legalism that goes on in the Quiverfull world is never wrong, it is illustrative and instructional.

My heart breaks for her two children suddenly having their entire worlds ripped away, changing all traditions like Christmas and being forced to fit into this new family structure that they didn't chose. I think it's cruel not to consider the emotional needs of the children just like I think trying to insist it's only skirts and long hair for Godliness is also simplistically not considering the needs and practicality of life for children. Jesus addressed neither only skirts being modest or not celebrating holidays. In fact, it looks like to me in the Gospels that Jesus himself celebrated the traditional Jewish holidays. Gifts on holidays are not sins and they don't dull the senses to the spiritual no matter how she tries to spin it.

I'm afraid that by suddenly embracing the whole quiverfull lifestyle Melissa is likely heaping pain, sorrow, confusion  and legalism on children too young to understand the why. Likely it's causing lots of internal cognitive dissonance within Melissa too. Taking on raising eight children from her husband's previous marriage cannot be an easy task no matter how you wrap what you're doing in the Bible.

Clearly whatever is going on inside of Melissa makes it not good for No Longer Quivering to quote anything she says.

But... here's a big but... we're not going to stop shouting from the rooftops just how dangerous the world of Fundamentalist Quiverfull actually is because one Jane-Come-Lately is unhappy with our words. Our side serves a greater purpose in exposing the parts that harm people, women, children, oh and yes, men. Quiverfull harms men as much as it does women.

Because of everything I've experienced at the hands of 'good Christians' in the world of Quiverfull I really fear for Melissa. She's skipping headlong into a journey that will likely leave her broken, like so many that have passed through NLQ and I don't want that for anyone, even her. When life in a high demand belief system finally fails her, and it will, we at NLQ will still be there and would still welcome her in.

But as of this moment we're doing a moratorium on Melissa based discussion at NLQ. She's got issues that are going to take more than the Bible and bad theology to solve. I don't wish to hurt her or add to her problems.

And at the same time I don't like passive aggressive people and I really despise those that try to manipulate me.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

It's What Comes Out That Really Matters

We're having gorgeous weather here in the Virgina Piedmont, blue skies, sunshine and warmer temperatures. Since we're supposed to have warmer weather for the next week I did my usual early spring chore, I set up our outdoor living room (deck).

During the winter I have extra bird feeders/squirrel feeders/critter feeders (think possums) set up on the deck. The rug and cantilevered umbrella that covers the entire deck along with the furniture cushions get stowed away in the garage and my pretty faux-wicker deck furniture gets piled in the corner under a tied down tarp to protect it from the weather. The creatures get the run of the deck.

With the critters comes what critters do best, there's just no polite way to put this, what critters do best is poop. Critter excrement on every surface you could imagine, deck railings, furniture, deck floor and even on my gardening bench.

You can tell quite a lot from excrement, from the health of the beast (even human beasts) all the way to exactly what type of animal is lurking about. Scat is informative, is this from a dejector type of bird or from a bird of prey or a simple sparrow? There was a great scene in my favorite 'Homicide: Life on the Street' that had Det. John Munch and Det. Stanley Bolander looking at bird crap splatter on their squad car and discussing what type of bird it was. It happened at the very beginning of season 3 episode 'Crosetti'

Sort of like people huh? You can put all the best into them, the holiest stuff, but what comes out reveals what's really inside. It pays to pay attention to the output from others. Is it crap they are spewing or gems of wisdom?

Monday, March 07, 2016

Once the Cracks Appear They Aren't so Easily Fixed..or Sweet Freedom

I spent some portion of today listening to another left the high demand cultic Quiverfull church friend of mine vent, mentally sort and just deal. My phone rang more than a few times today with friends going through emotional things that are mostly part of recovery, being re traumatized by circumstances or happenings. It's never easy.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for those you love is simply listen without judgment and without many words. Being heard is an important thing.

Surviving things like cults and childhood abuse isn't easy and it doesn't happen overnight. So why are some so eager to run headfirst into theology that wounds people and leaves a trail of brokenness? Because they're trying to 'fix' something they perceive that is broken or wrong in the first place. Looking for that place where it all makes sense. 

That's how it happened for me. My baby, my youngest child was four years old and had a health crisis. She ended up in UVA with very low blood platelets. Blood was oozing from her skin and welling up in horrific bruises that looked like huge blueberries burrowed into her flesh.

During the days when she wasn't improving, that the doctors could not determine why her platelets had died off and why she wasn't responding to the treatment I was locked in a silent prayer pleading with the Almighty. I promised God all sorts of things if he would just save my sweet girl. Watching her suffer first from the ITP and later with meningitis was one of the worst experiences of my life.

It was also when some of the folks from a church a friend attended took the opportunity to prey on my vulnerabilities by choosing that exact time to make an appeal for salvation. I'd been raised Catholic and was agnostic until this desperate time. They offered to pray for my daughter. She still didn't improve much and we were going back and forth to the hospital for treatments and packed platelet transfusions.

But I started going to this church, this nondenominational church filled with other lapsed Catholics like myself. At first it was so strange. Here I was, in my early thirties married to someone nearly a decade older than myself with our two small children. Attending this church made my husband very happy, so I swallowed my misgivings and kept attending with him, even as I was told that my youngest child was much too clingy and given a copy of 'To Train Up A Child', expected to spank a child with low blood platelets. I smiled, nodded and promptly threw the book in the nearest trashcan when I got out of the sight of the book giver and kept cuddling my sickly traumatized baby.

As time went on the church gained new members and started taking on an increasingly fundamentalist slant until we arrived at full quiverfull homeschooling evangelicalism/fundamentalism. I was a coward in those days, I never mentioned my misgivings, I swallowed them with a smile and got with the program. The only problem was that my body would not cooperate, I had a huge number of miscarriages over the years. No one had figured out yet that we had a bleeding disorder in our family that wasn't going to allow me to have any more children no matter how anyone prayed.

My dear husband became more and more uncomfortable with the direction of the church until he wanted to leave.

Our leaving was traumatic to me personally because I had so many people I thought were sisters and brothers turn on me in some very nasty ways. That was nine years ago and still to this day I run into folks from that old church that act in some ugly ways.

Why am I sharing my story yet again? Because if someone educated with a good life can be seduced into joining and staying in a cult church anyone can. I joined because of my inner bargaining with God during my child's illness, against all better judgment. I was miserable most of the time and having to pretend I was happy. Mask firmly in place, wearing my dumb jumpers and long hair even if I stuck out like a gringo in Tijuana. In fact, parts of my existence in those years was almost schizophrenic when I wore business suits to work and special 'modest' clothing at home.

Through it all I was pressured to conform, sometimes caught between my husband's insistence I used my education and work and the members of the church that fervently insisted I stay home and raise my children. No matter which direction I took I was going to anger someone. By the end I had lined up with the conformity of the others, even if it chafed.

The only part that didn't chafe was my relationship with God, with serving at the church and leading worship. I loved that and I still do, I'm still involved with those things at my mainstream church.

The thing I learned coming out of my old cult church is that conformity is deadly. It kills so many positive things in people, like critical thinking skills and the differing gifts and abilities of everyone, forced into a one sized fits all mold that fits very very few people well.

I see the truth of the lie of conformity in the blogs of those that are enmeshed in the gears of cult churches, so many of them seem like either desperate cries for help and rescue from outside or rationalizations for the very things they either struggle with or some attempt to convince their own selves that they are not screaming inside.

I wish them freedom and truth. Stop with the mindless conformity. There is rich and satisfying life outside of the box. Don't stay as long as I did in that terrible state. I was in it nearly 14 years. Don't waste all those years like I did.

I've stopped conforming to others expectations and rules. Others know that well about me. A while back I was at a local quilting shop to buy blender fabric to put between the blocks of the winter quilt I was making for our bed. One of my friends works there and she came up as I was perusing the batik fabrics and said she knew others usually use white or cream fabric and I probably felt I had to use a coordinating pastel fabric. She said she could tell I was eyeing the deep purple fabric, urging me to 'get out of the box' and get the purple. She laughed and said I was so far out of the box I needed to just be my true unconventional self and get the purple.  I did get the purple and it looks splendid. Had I attempted to get the pastel or cream I wouldn't have been as happy with the finished product.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Class, It Rhymes With Ass

Over the last few months I've had great fun poking at the missteps and foibles of all the candidates on both sides of the political spectrum. Who couldn't laugh at Ted Cruz's apparent booger eating during the debate or cringe when Rubio and Trump implied things about penis size? Is there anyone that hasn't looked at Hillary Clinton's outfits and wondered why she didn't pony up for a fashion stylist? I hurt for her frumpiness and I am no fan of hers.

But today Alternet really crossed a line in one of their articles. They wrote an article about Donald Trump's adult children and various wives, ex and current. The writer attacked all those related to Trump for everything from silly vanity music recordings to having modeled clothing at a fashion show. It was pretty low, disgraceful even, something that really shouldn't happen.

None of Trump's children or wives had any choice in being associated with a candidate that retweets Benito Mussolini quotes and naively thinks he can solve the complex issues of illegal immigration with a wall. You cannot help who your family is, no matter if he rides the back of the garbage truck for a living, or just happens to be an inflated egomaniac famous businessman with delusions of being the president.

They are not him. They also aren't running for president. They should be off-limits as a target for cheap shots, their personal lives shouldn't be fodder for speculation over their father./husband's campaign.

I think one of the things that annoys me the most when people write negative articles about Trump's family is the many people that want to point at his daughter and say she would be nothing without being part of his company. Ivanka Trump holds a business degree, in economics actually, from the Wharton School. They just don't hand those things out like participation trophies at a kids soccer league. Wharton isn't easy to attend, much less get that degree. Clearly she's intelligent and not entirely riding daddy's coat tails all the time.

As a candidate I don't much like Trump, except for the fact that no special interest group owns him. But I think his children have turned out pretty well on whole. At least Ivanka isn't a rich kid layabout like Paris Hilton and lots of other rich kids no matter what her faults may be.

Seriously media, leave the candidates families out of your sniping. They didn't have a choice in what family they are in. Stick to the real issues.

Jesus Magic - How Things Look Very Different Post-Fundigelicalism

This morning as I drove to church at the big mainstream place we've been attending nine years since leaving the Church of the Creek Critters (not the real name but quite close) I experienced something that would have driven me straight into the Jesus Magic thinking in the old days. In fact, I almost went right back into the looking for signs and miracles in things that are quite logically explained type of thinking anyway.

So what happened? Every single stop light I happened upon between Starbucks and the church turned yellow either as I approached or just as I was pulling under the light. All those yellow lights, perhaps as many as seven between my starting and stopping points, all turning yellow.

In the old days I would have taken all those yellow lights in a row as omens, something God caused to happen to warn me to be cautious of something or someone in my life. I would have spent weeks puzzling, praying, meditating on the meaning of all those yellow lights, because yellow lights mean slow down.

Just as I started to wonder if I was supposed to slow down or be cautious I caught myself, gave myself an interior smacking and laughingly said, 'They aren't an omen, they mean nothing, only that your speed and the settings of the lights somehow managed to line up just so to make that happen.'

I believe that. It was entirely random. Not any sort of 'god' sending me a message from the great beyond.

I used to believe there are nothing that was not spiritual. If I got the first parking space at the grocery store or some other minor thing worked out in my favor that it was God showing me his favor for being a believer. Just like I believed things like a streak of yellow lights was a message from God.

Now I look back at the type of thinking and wonder how I ever fell for it in the first place. I'm educated, I should have known better than to be sucked into the magical Jesus thinking. Knowing statistics and science didn't end that thought pattern. Nor has many years out of my old cult church either.

Part of me misses that, the simplistic surety over everything being 'God's will' and his favor.  Smug certainty of being part of the elect, that I was somehow superior to so many because I was a believer and gosh darn it, I deserved it!

Now it just looks like a type of spiritual selfishness, a righteous narcissism that demands that God is always going before you to smooth every stupid itty-bitty detail for you. How dare you think you are sooooooo important that God is scrambling to revolve everything around you and your needs.

So what does that type of thinking say about a deity giving you a close parking space or a sale on that mink vest you wanted, but allowing millions of babies to be deformed by the Zika virus? I wouldn't like that guy, I sure wouldn't want to worship that type of God. It is limiting and petty when you reduce the divine to some sort of white American Christian exceptionalism fairy plus you really aren't doing anyone justice.

It's just another one of those things I've abandoned since leaving my old church. God has enough serious real things to do without being an invisible personal assistant fulfilling the minute and petty.

But I still have to intentionally mentally kill off that magic thinking some days. It's just too easy to fall right back into it even after all these years of operating in reality and truth.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Blogger Melissa Progressive Quiverfull Locks Her Blog

After I announced at NLQ that I was going to start quoting some of this particular blogger's words she locked her blog.

That's okay, I still have plenty at ready for NLQ Like this, one of her last posts...

Victory over the FJ Beehive

Accent Line

The “Melissa of Green Gables” thread that the buzzy bees established for the nasty purpose of harassing me was locked by the administration of that wicked site: The in-fighting amongst all those gossiping harlequins exploded to such rage induced levels of nastiness that nothing would’ve satisfied them.

These harlots of gossip are the very things that scripture condemns in the qualities of women.

Such nasty, unwholesome qualities that this blog helped bring to light included hatred of men; vilification of innocents; and a valueless society of gossipy Fox Maidens possessed of deception, lies, anger, and angst.

Free Jinger condemns Fundamentalist Christians, such as my family, from within the sin-drenched protection of their Babylon hive. They proclaim their superiority over so-called “abusive religions” whilst being just as abusive (if not more so!) themselves!

They are the epitome of hypocrisy!

After locking the thread, it has now vanished. A desperate attempt to delete from view the mountain of evidence as to their true nature: Evil.

I have received support for my open dialog with the Fox Maidens. They have hurt people in the past, and they continue to hurt people. Don’t let them hurt you!

This blog was persecuted by Free Jinger, but God helped me remain calm and they collapsed under the weight of their own debauchery.

Like Sodom and Gomorrah: Not a single godly woman can be found within their hive.
I just question how calling people 'harlots' and then locking your blog is a victory? She tried so hard since December to get Vyckie Garrison and NLQ's attention with referencing how mean, nasty and evil we are that once I turned my attention to her she freaks out?

Was feeling sorry for the pile on virtual pounding she was getting, but if her tactics to get NLQ to acknowledge her and this post are anything to go by it's likely she's behaved in a very nasty bashing unpleasant way everywhere she went online.

The sad thing is that the situation likely caused by her own bad behavior is going to give her plenty of fodder to start wailing that she's the victim of 'Christian Persecution' Christian Entitlement Syndrome.

Shake heads, how stupid.

How do any of these people expect anyone to join their Jesus circle jerk by acting like jerks? Dear Lord please save me from fundamentalist Christians. 

Friday, March 04, 2016

Funny Keywords!

One of the things I love about blogging that I haven't engaged in for awhile is looking at what keywords lead people to find you. I've had some doozies in the past. I present this week's funniest one.

"surplus cheese"

The only thing I can figure out this one hits on is a posting I made while working at Childhelp, the day I tasted The Government Cheese for the first time and was unimpressed. I remember that day well because some of the funny little kids there advised me to dunk my toasted cheese sandwich into the tomato soup to make it even slightly edible. Good times!

Butt Hurt All Over The Place Lately With Bonus Vulgarities

The other day I had one of those experiences that is illustrative of something entirely different. I was going to vote on Super Tuesday, an incredibly frosty day here in the Virginia Piedmont. As I got out of my car at the polling place I could see one lone campaign volunteer chasing people around the parking lot in the most obnoxiously forward fashion to button hole them about his candidate, Ted Cruz.

I knew one thing, no matter who I was voting for I did not want to be stopped by this guy and waste time. I had a full plate that morning, visits to the lawyer, banker, post office and getting some real estate documents notarized, so once he ran for a voter I zig-zagged away from them, rapidly making for the side door of the polling place. I was almost there when I failed to notice the curb and fell like someone suddenly yanked my feet out from under me. When my head hit the pavement I let out a string of profanity so loudly that Mr. Volunteer ran away from me. Others helped me up, while he pretended I did not exist. Perfect. That is exactly what I wanted.

No real damage done, except to my personal dignity and I had a few bruises. The thin disks in my neck didn't much like it either. It was painkillers for the rest of the day, but I got through it and did what needed to happen to run the family.

There are a couple of good takeaways from that experience for me. First, that some folks are far too sensitive about things, like cursing. Butt hurt pearl clutching only harms yourself. We were talking about being too sensitive this morning at No Longer Quivering.

 Recent scientific studies have shown that people that vent their frustration or pain that way are usually much more honest, they have bigger vocabularies and they tend to deal better with pain and health challenges. Not that I'm advocating throwing around the F-bomb in front of little kids, just that it's not the end of the world and there are a few benefits to that behavior.

The other important thing that popped to mind is that you really shouldn't have to work that hard to stay away from folks that make your blood pressure rise. I should have just breezed past that guy without giving him the time of day. He has no power over me. I gave him too much power by my actions.

If they really bug you that much there's a solution. Stay away from them. Especially on the internet, click off their websites if you feel yourself becoming upset. Lord knows I've run away from enough fundamentalist websites, GOP candidates websites, some Democrats websites, pro-vegan websites, anti-vegan websites, dolphin sex websites, doll collector websites, you-name-it websites. There are some things that just are not for you, are only going to make you feel bad about yourself or annoy you that you have to man-up and click away from without reading more than a few words. Do it. You'll feel better for it.

Everyone keeps sending me a link to a minor-league Quiverfull blogger by the name of Melissa. I keep seeing Melissa all over the place because she's one of the bloggers that has tried to garner extra hits - clickbaiting - by mentioning NLQ and Vyckie Garrison repeatedly. In a very critical fashion I might add, but that makes perfect sense because Vyckie is the big bad Atheist of the Year who sums up everything a hard core Quiverfull momma detests. Melissa has made her hatred of Vyckie very clear on her blog.

I don't have time or energy to debate or quote everyone that tries to come up against our little site No Longer Quivering. When I quote people for the Quoting Quiverfull feature I try to stick with the biggies, the more major influences in that particular world, the Nancy Campbells and Michael Pearls of this world. Sometimes I will quote some of the lesser known cultural enforcers who have at least a few followers, like Vaughn Ohlman and that vile awful misogynist Biblical Gender Roles. I go after the dangerous people with actual followers they are influencing. If I can get one person to think about the deeper issues or have a reader realize that they are not the only ones suffering from leaving a high demand group then I've done my job.

One thing I have noticed with Melissa is that she's fighting with a huge group of people. She's angered people at Get Off My Internet, some homeschooling forum and the place we've had problems galore with - Free Jinger. That's a lot of fighting to maintain, and a whole lotta bitterness behavior and attention going on. I know what that feels like because back when I still gave a fuck what others thought of me I'd had my own head-knockings online.  It can be painful, particularly when this is the first time you have encountered significant pushback in a world that usually pats you on the back and reinforces your inner beliefs.

I know she is hurting. So.... see above and get the hell out of those places is what I'd tell her if I could! You'll be much happier for it. Stop caring so much what others online think of you.

Also I need to correct a few inaccuracies in her blog - Vyckie Garrison, myself, and No Longer Quivering are in no way affiliated with any of the above places she's fighting with.  We've had our own issues with them in the past and they are not attacking her blog because Vyckie told them too. I feel kind of sorry for her for having raised their ire like that.

Having that much power over an online group is sort of frightening from what I've seen. It tends to not bring out the best intentions or actions in people when they go into a lynch mob mentality.

I tend to view those places are necessary for those that post there. It allows them a forum to vent about whatever they dislike. Some of them need it, it's their best outlet for the frustrations they deal with. But that doesn't mean you should be dallying there.

To answer another rant of hers I'd like to point out that while she's carrying on about hating Vyckie and hating me (no, I'm not one of Vyckie's 'cohorts' - I am the admin at NLQ - there is an important difference but I doubt Melissa can tell the difference between those two) that the post she's so incensed about is one involving me asking why it's a common theme in the Quiverfull world that women do most of the labor involved with raising the family. Never did I say 'All Christians' like she's claiming. I know no one in my current church living that way. But both Vyckie and I can attest to our former lives in Quiverfull that women doing everything actually is how many Quiverfull families work - unless like the Duggars they get the kids to do all the hard work. It's a column I run every week asking the readers about the distinctives of Quiverfull and/or Evangelical Christianity. Most of the time I know the answer before I ask, it's constructed to engage readers not for the writers to gain knowledge. It frightens me that someone with such a complete lack of reading comprehension is homeschooling her children.

We have never quoted Melissa or said anything about her husband, no matter what she is saying on her blog. 

Stomping your feet and running away is never going to be judged as mature, loving or Christ-like. Again, Vyckie is not connected to the people Melissa is obsessing over. Name calling isn't very Christian either. And Christians wonder why people aren't rushing to join the church. It's because of attitudes like those demonstrated above.

There's more, but my right hand is playing up again. So I'll close. But, seriously, if she's so outraged by so many things it would benefit Melissa to simply stay out of those particular websites, including NLQ. Unless she's up for expressing in the comments why she thinks we're wrong, in a no personal insults way. I am curious. Vaughn Ohlman is the only Quiverfull person I've run across actually open to discussion and debate that does not go into personal insults, who will at least discuss ideas. Too bad more are incapable of that.

But I've had even less time to reply since November and the onset of this bout of MSRA. Today I'm struggling to update NLQ and this blog because my right hand is swelling, red, itchy and awful again after almost healing up. I'm dehydrated and it's likely I'll be back in the infusion center for IV meds and rehydrating by the end of the day. Just waiting to hear back from my infectious disease doctor right now.

During those months of my physical problems I was aided by the men in my family who've stepped up to keep NLQ running and strong. They've done it all and if my hand is any indication they might have to do it again. I am so grateful for the help. You guys rocks.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016


Learned yesterday from a buddy pal doctor friend of mine that my local hospital has had more cases of MRSA in the last six months than just me. Also, the hospital is one of the ones being censured for very high infection rates. Another friend that works at the hospital confirmed at least one of the other cases.

Here's the crazy thing, the cases are all over the hospital map. Usually when there's an infection disease outbreak in a hospital it's in one of the departments, like in the OR, or the ER dept. Not this one. Three weeks before I went all septic and sick I was in the outpatient center having my every year or so pulmonary function test. My understanding is that the other patients that ended up with it came from the surgical wing, the ER and even the baby nursery. Which makes me wonder if the source of the infection is something like perhaps an infected piece of equipment being used from place to place within the hospital.

While the doctors treating me have been telling me I could have picked it up anywhere I still think I picked this up while getting the PFT at the hospital. Very likely.

The sad thing is that my right thumb and index finger do not bend very well and I'm being told that it's unlikely I'm going to regain full use of either them or my hand. Which really pisses me off since it does impact what I do at NLQ, it makes fine detailed work like painting or using a pen/pencil just about impossible.