Monday, January 28, 2013

saving me (revolution)

Find something new, something that excites you. Find something old, something that bothers you. Find something you want to change. Find a change being made that you want to get behind. Find something you want to oppose. Find something you want to support. Find something to be passionate about. Revolt. And in so doing, revolt against the darkness.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Exodus 7-40, Leviticus 1-24

The schedule i set up for my Bible reading (back in May) really has me powering through the Old Testament. Which is fine with me; i've read the books of the Law approximately seven times in their entirety, and i was in a weekly Bible study on Leviticus last semester, so i feel like i don't need to take that much time with it.

Also, i need to be honest: i'm kind of in a dry spell right now, spiritually.

Faith goes through seasons, just like everything else in life (to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven), but Christians are sometimes made to feel guilt about being in one season or another. I've heard preachers saying that every day should be full of joy, that we should be overflowing with joy in Christ, that we should be so full of the boundless love and grace and mercy that we have received that nothing can bring us down.

I have a friend who suffered from clinical depression and was told to pray more and deepen her faith, and that Christ would fill her with joy.

Because nothing balances the chemicals in my brain like yet another fucking chorus of "Our God Reigns".

This semester, my Bible study is focusing on the non-fuzzy images of God. We're looking at the Jesus who hurled racial slurs at a woman who asked for His help, the Christ who withered a fig tree because it wasn't bearing fruit, at the God who ordered the slaughter of babies, the God who sent lying angels to prophets so that people would die. We're looking at Hagar, who got pile after pile of rancid shit dumped on her, and was ignored by God, except for when He was telling her to go back and take more abuse.

Last week, i went to a writing retreat where Benji talked about how the Church doesn't have sad songs. The Bible has psalms of lament, where we talk about how life sucks and we don't know why God won't rescue us. But in modern Christian contexts, the best we get is "Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, 'It is well, it is well with my soul." We don't make room for doubt, for sorrow, for anger. We must be happy.

In our Bible study, Benji said that theology should be "a testimony for conversion". In other words, what we say about God should make people want to know Him for themselves. This does NOT mean that you should walk up to strangers in the parking lot of a rest stop in New Jersey, hand them a tract, and tell them that God wants to save them from their sins (this happened to me over Christmas vacation). What it means is, the things you believe about God, the things you know about God, the things you say about God, should be compelling and attractive.

That doesn't necessarily mean that you should tell people that everything with Jesus is sunshine and roses. Even Jesus didn't say that (the Son of Man has no place to lay His head, He came to turn families against each other, people are going to hate you and treat you terribly, etc.) If i asked someone about their religion and they said, "It makes everything happy forever!", i would run away.

Some day, someone you love will die. If it hasn't happened already, it will. My grandmother is dead. My great aunt is dead. One of my friends is dying. My parents will die. My cousins will die. My siblings will die. My spouse, my kids, my co-workers, my pastor, my professors, my favorite musicians, the students i teach. Everyone i know and love will die some day. I will die. And maybe i'll go before some of the people i know and love and won't have to be there when it happens, but that just means that they will have to mourn my death.

People die. It's a part of life. And it is good and right to mourn them. We may be able to draw some comfort by thoughts of them in a happy afterlife, or by knowing that their pain and sickness are ended, but the reality is that they are dead in a box in the ground, rotting away. They will never again laugh with you. They will never again cry with you. They will not see you grow old. You will not see them grow old. My friend who is dying is in his 20s. I will never dance at his wedding, never meet his children, never tease him for his grey hairs. And it is good and right to mourn this. 

And there's a whole lot of other shit in life, too. People get sick and injured. Children get raped. People get fired. Hearts get broken. Spouses cheat on one another and lie about it. Houses burn down. Cancer exists. Homelessness exists. Malnutrition, starvation, poverty exist. Do you ever think about how fucked up it is that we have social workers? We have people whose job is to make sure you are taking care of your kids, and to remove them from your care if you are not. They make sure you are going to rehab. They make sure your kids are going to school. They make sure that there is food in the refrigerator and that you are not doing drugs or having sex in front of your toddler. Because there are SO MANY people who cannot take care of their own lives and the lives of their children that we have entire undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs devoted to training other people to take care of them.

There is a whole lot of shit in life, and it is right and good to mourn it. It is right and good to be angry over it. It is right and good to respond with negative emotions to these things. There are only two ways to completely remove yourself from all negative emotional response: heavy doses of psychiatric medication and death. Meds can also dull or remove positive feelings, and death is, well, death. A religion that promises that everything will be sunny all the time always is either lying or deluded, and either way you shouldn't drink any kool-aid they offer you.

I'm still reading my Bible. I'm still praying. I'm still having spiritual conversations with people, still writing about my feelings, still processing. I'm still a Christian. I'm still a doubter. Recently, someone asked me the question i've been fearing: what's the point of religion? Bad things still happen to good people, and there are good people who are not Christians, and even some good people who don't believe in any God at all, so what are you getting out of it?

I told him i didn't know. I don't know why i have faith. I don't know what i'm getting out of this whole religion thing.

This is true and not true. I can't point you to the pile of gold i've amassed because of God's financial blessings on my life. I can't point you to the perfect job He provided for me. My brother may be alive, but he's lost a leg and a year of his life and lots of memories and joy and God may have brought him miraculously out of his injuries but God still allowed him to be injured in the first place. I can't give you a bulleted list of reasons to follow God. I can't show you tangible things that God has done in my life. I believe that i have experienced miracles, but they all come with caveats (my brother's miraculous recovery wouldn't have been necessary if God hadn't let him be blown up in the first place).

But if you're in religion for what you're getting out of it, you're missing the point. I can tell you things that i've "gotten out of" my relationship with my boyfriend, but i'm not with him because he buys me nice presents or takes me out to eat or listens to me complain. I'm not with him because of what i'm "getting out of" the relationship. If that was all i wanted, i'd be dating someone with more money and time to lavish on me.

I'm with my boyfriend because i love him, and he loves me. I'm with God because i love Him, and He loves me.

I'm still mad at Him for a lot of the stuff in the Old and New Testaments. I'm mad at Him because of my brother, and because of the shooting in Connecticut, and because of people who say that God hates fags, and because of poverty and cancer and AIDS, and because i don't have enough money to student teach and buy everything i want from Amazon, and because my parents are divorced and shouldn't have been married in the first place so maybe i shouldn't even be alive, and because Republicans keep trying to take rights away from women and non-whites, and because of earthquakes and tsunamis and war and oppression and starvation and mental illness.

But being in a relationship means experiencing a whole range of shifting emotions, sometimes even many emotions at once. And my God lets me work through that stuff, even when that means i yell at Him or don't represent Him well to others or regard my personal devotional time with Him as a chore.

So i guess what i'm "getting out of" this is a love greater and freer and fuller and more compelling and empowering and gracious and overwhelming and gentle and sweet than any love i have ever known. It's a love that enables me to love better. It's a love that makes me better. It's a love that withstands my anger and weariness and confusion. And i don't know how to say any of that in a way that makes other people want to know God too, but i guess that's something that He and i can work on.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

why my boyfriend is a saint

You guys, i am a fucking handful.

It's not just the bouts of depression and anxiety, or the tendency to lash out in anger at the wrong people, or the habit of rambling on and on long past the point where i've said what i wanted to say, or the constant distractions of the written word, or my tumultuous relationship with my parents, or my penchant for melodramatic hyperbole, or my difficulty with expressing my negative feelings productively, or my flirtations with vegetarianism, or my bizarre affection for my cat (have i mentioned my tendency to ramble unnecessarily?).

All of that is mostly manageable, and mostly improving, and some of it is charming (as i keep trying to explain to him). Even all of it together isn't really all that bad; after all, we all have our flaws, charming or otherwise, we all carry our baggage and our scars, and anyone who gets into a relationship and isn't expecting at least some crap to be flung at their head is either extremely deluded or is in a relationship with a robot, sex doll, or other inanimate object.

But here's the thing: i can't live in the moment.

Some moments, yes. A moment that is particularly thrilling, moving, absorbing. I was completely wrapped up in Les Miserables. I was totally enthralled this morning when taking notes in a class. I am 100% focused during sex. When my brother was shot, i lived in the moment for weeks. I could barely think far enough ahead to go to work and feed myself each day. When something touches the very core of me, i will live in as many moments as it gives me.

But in every day life, i'm too eager. When things are going well, i want to run ahead and climb the next hill, because i can't wait to see how much better life will be. When things are going badly, i want to run away and over the next hill, because i can't wait for things to change. I can't just sit and let my bad feelings simmer and mellow. I can't just sit and let my good feelings deepen and expand. I have to get to the next thing.

This is especially apparent in my relationship.

John is very much about the moment. He rarely makes plans more than three weeks in advance. So when i'm trying to make plans for Valentine's day (just over three weeks away) or our anniversary (just over three months away) or Thanksgiving (hey, i told you i had a problem), his eyes are glazing over and he's saying, "It's January 23rd. How about if we make plans for the weekend?" And i'm like, "Okay, and then we can make plans for our 47th wedding anniversary!"

And that's the crux of the issue. I don't really know how to be someone's girlfriend.

I know how to be a friend. I know how to be someone's flirty friend who secretly has a crush on them and on whom they secretly have a crush. I know how to do the early stages of the relationship, where you're still a little awkward, still figuring out the rhythms of conversation and kissing, still testing your boundaries. And i know that the end game is marriage. Honestly, there has never been a point in my life where i seriously doubted whether i would ever get married. I always knew that i would some day, and i obviously knew that i would be dating the guy for a while first. But in my head, the fantasy was like, meet a guy in the library, flirt shamelessly for a few weeks, go on some coffee dates, go on some dinner dates, go to some concerts and plays, attend some events (like weddings and parties), meet the families, fall more and more in love, and then get married.

And we've done all that. We've seen plays and concerts, we've gone to a wedding, we've met the families, we're in love, we've done birthdays and Christmases and we're approaching our second anniversary. We've hit all the milestones, passed all the standards. So now my brain is telling me that the next step is to get married.

And that's true, to an extent. The next major thing that John and i do will either be to get married or break up. That's just how relationships go. But when i say "next thing", i don't necessarily mean "tomorrow" or "next week". Maybe next year, but that's still a long way away, and is by no means definite.

There are still questions i have to answer about him, and questions he has to answer about me. We've both seen things in the other person that we're not sure we want in our life partner. We've both seen a lack of things in the other person that we think we might want in our life partner. We've both seen things that are not necessarily issues or deficits, but are differences between us that may not be reconcilable. Logically, i know that we are not ready to get married yet. I need to finish my M. Ed. and get a job, he needs to get into and complete a master's program of his own, we need to find an apartment and a church, i need to get my budget under control, he needs to pick a book for Bible study . . . Logically, i know we are not ready to get married yet. I just don't know what to do right now, how to be his serious, long-term girlfriend without pressing him to move forward.

But he still puts up with me. His eyes may (definitely) glaze over when i start talking about wedding crap, but he lets me ramble. I may ask him every other day (or six times every day) what he wants to do for our anniversary, but he is still patient and gentle when he says, "I don't know. It's still three months away." He may get a little scared sometimes and give me a quick lecture on managing my expectations, but he doesn't run away. In fact, he is still excited to see me every day, still wants to snuggle me closer, still wants to make plans with me and dream dreams with me and anticipate a future with me, even if that future only extends three weeks from now. So i try to keep a tight grip on my horses and look around me a little more, because this moment i'm in right now? It's pretty damn amazing, and i want to make sure i cherish it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Exodus 7-38

Let's talk about the plagues.

Exodus 7:14-12:30 details the ten plagues that God sent to Egypt to let his people go. And it's obvious that Pharaoh is the villain of the piece; he enslaved these people and refuses to let them go, no matter what! Isn't it obvious that God is super-powerful and will stop at nothing to get His people free? Really, Pharaoh, aren't you just being a dick by clinging stubbornly to this power?

And for the first few plagues, you would be right. Pharaoh's heart is hard, and he refuses to budge. Although God knew that he wouldn't, so i guess He was just sending the plagues to punish the Egyptians for mistreating his people, or to show off his power, or something? Anyway.

After the sixth plague (boils), things shift a little. Exodus 9:12 says, "But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses." The Lord hardened his heart. We see the same thing after the eighth plague (locusts) and the ninth plague (darkness), and after the seventh plague we see that God still knew that Pharaoh would not change his mind. God and Pharaoh are in a stand-off, and God is cheating.

The last plague is the death of every firstborn child in Egypt. Pharaoh's firstborn son, the firstborn son of the peasants, even the firstborn animals of the livestock. God sends an angel to kill children, and He does so after intentionally ramping up the stakes again and again.

Hebrews tells us that God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that He could work greater and greater signs and miracles, and thereby prove His greatness and bring glory to His name. Now, intellectually i'm totally okay with this. If God is the all-powerful ruler of the universe who brought me into this world, He has every right to do whatever He wants with my life, including end it, just because He wants to.

But i don't want to hang out with a God like that. I don't like that God. And i don't know what else to say about that.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Year, New Obsession

I mentioned before that i'm trying to be healthier. Let's talk about how that's going.

I have been faithfully going to the gym three times a week for an hour each time for the last week and a half, except for one time when i gave up after forty minutes because the elliptical was hard to use. Don't laugh. It's tough to find your rhythm at first. Plus my knee was really hurting and i wanted to cry. But i still made it through forty minutes, so suck it.

Originally, i was planning to switch between the treadmill and the elliptical. The elliptical is better for my knees, because it's a lower-impact machine, but for that same reason it's not as good for muscle tone and bone strength. When you're forcing your bones and muscles to propel you forward and hold you upright, they get better at doing it, and then when you're old you won't have to worry so much about things like osteoporosis or becoming feeble. But i've noticed that i turn my right foot slightly outwards, which is probably why my right knee hurts way more than my left one. This tendency is easier to see and correct on the elliptical, so i'm mostly sticking to that now.

I'm using this app called My Fitness Pal to keep track of how i'm doing. It's pretty easy, and i like it a lot. Instead of one of those programs that tells you to eat four cups of steamed broccoli and do sixty crunches, this program is just a way to track what you're already doing and how successful your efforts are. When you set up your profile, you tell it things about your current status (weight, age, health conditions, etc.) and your goals (faster, stronger, thinner, etc.). You also put in your fitness plans (run thirty minutes every day or whatever.). Based on your age, weight, sex, lifestyle (as in, are you a sedentary office worker like me?), and fitness goals, it gives you a recommendation for net calories and an estimate for when you'll reach your goal. Each day, you input what you've eaten and what you've done, and it tells you what your net calories are. It also tells you how well you're matching your fitness goals by saying things like, "If every day is like this one, you'll lose one pound a week!" or "If every day is like this one, you'll be down to 214 pounds in five weeks!" (NB: they didn't ask me to write a review or anything, and the app is free. I highly recommend it.)

I usually eat very well, so the only real difference is that i'm being faithful about going to the gym three times a week, and that i'm giving myself less leeway for things like snacking. It used to be that i would sometimes get hungry in the afternoon and run over to the school store for some chips and a candy bar, to keep up my strength in the two hours remaining until dinner. (Go ahead and roll your eyes at me. I rolled my eyes at myself every time, but i did it anyway.) Now, when i want a snack, i eat something healthy, or i just stay hungry. I mean, i live in the USA, and i have a job and a home. I can live for five hours without food. I need to stop being such a drama queen about hunger, when i'm so much luckier in that regard than so many other people.

But let's take a minute to talk about my healthy snacks.

Have you ever eaten roasted salted almonds? Not chocolate covered almonds, or almonds crushed up in ice cream or a candy bar, or almonds coated in toffee or honey and cinnamon. Just plain, roasted almonds, lightly dusted with sea salt.

Did you know that they taste like cream?

One of my roommates was mildly obsessed with almonds for a while and ate them every day. But she ate, like, wasabi almonds, or chocolate mint dusted almonds, or whatever. They were all dressed up in other flavors. I don't know why anyone, having tasted what a plain almond is like, would ever want to mask that flavor. All i want to do is pair it with other amazing things, like dried cherries. Dried cherries! Why would anyone eat dried cranberries or raisins when there are tart, spicy, wine-like dried cherries in the world?! Dried cherries or dried apricots with plain almonds can render me speechless. Pair with a tiny bite of dark chocolate and it's hard to imagine anything more mind-meltingly delicious. (Of course, i say things like that and then i hear Tina Fey's voice in my head saying, "I don't know. Have you ever put a doughnut in the microwave?")

And then there's raw honey.

I've been learning more about honey and bees, because i'm worried about Colony Collapse Disorder (Google it. It's terrifying.) and what it means for the future of the planet, and i'm interested in healthy, natural foods that taste amazing, and i want to support local apiarists who treat their bees well, and i want to be exposed to real honey, not the processed clover crap that comes from a plastic bear. (Apparently, apiarists who make clover honey tend to treat their bees very poorly.) Bee Raw has shown me things about honey that i never thought possible. Their Florida orange blossom honey tastes like floral green tea. Their Maine wild raspberry honey tastes like butter. And the orange blossom honey with aged cheddar cheese and fresh bread is like manna from Heaven. Did you know that you could eat honey with cheese? Did you know that when you do, it will change your life? Did you know that raw honey can help reduce or eliminate suffering from seasonal allergies? Did you know that raw honey blends smoothly into even cold liquid, unlike processed honey, which tends to sink to the bottom stubbornly? Did you know that raw honey, whisked together with lime juice and a little mustard, makes a low-calorie salad dressing or marinade that is better than anything you could buy in the store? (Except Ranch, obviously. Nothing is better than Ranch.)

Don't worry. This isn't about to become a health and fitness blog. It will always be the bizarre hodgepodge you've come to know and love: bitching about my roommates or work or money, gushing sappy garbage about my boyfriend, talking about my mental illness(es), updating you on my comic book, reflecting on my daily devotions, and making absolute statements about education and writing and civil rights and the economy and politics and so forth. But sometimes, i will also talk about honey or the gym or salads. I'm growing as a person. It's beautiful and magical, so come with me on this crazy journey of life or shut up and read someone else's blog.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Genesis 23-50, Exodus 1-6

Genesis 24:57-58
So they said, "We will call the young woman and ask her personally." Then they called Rebekah and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" And she said, "I will go."

A lot has (rightly) been said about the negative aspects of the patriarchy in the Bible, particularly when we try to apply it to our modern American lives. And yeah, nine hundred and ninety nine times out of a thousand, women got the fuzzy end of the lollipop, and then some man took it away and said, "You can have this when you're done making my food and delivering my heir." But then you get a moment like this, where a girl's family actually asked their daughter if she was willing to marry Isaac. Granted, she still hadn't actually met Isaac, just his servant (who came bearing gifts of jewelry and such), but they still asked her what she wanted to do and respected her choice.

Genesis 50:20
"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."

This is one of those oft-misquoted passages of Scripture, but i think it's one where the misquote actually adds depth of meaning. What people tend to say is, "What men/people/we intended for evil, God intended for good," as an example of how God's will is supreme and our best efforts at fucking it all up can only go so far. At the end of the day, God's will will be done.

What's weird, though, is the context. This is Joseph speaking to his brothers, who sold him into slavery and told their father he was dead. Then, after his boss' cougar wife tried to jump his bones and accused him of rape, he went to prison. Then while he was in prison, he was interpreting people's dreams and asking them to petition to Pharaoh for his release, and then people were forgetting about him. Then he was finally let out of prison and became an adviser to the Pharaoh, and then the country went into a famine and he was responsible for feeding everyone. Then his brothers showed up to buy food and didn't recognize him, so he was able to mess with their heads for a while and con them into bringing his little brother for a visit. Then he finally revealed his identity and said the little gem quoted above. Because of what they did to him, he was able to save them all from dying of starvation, plus he also saved the entire nation of Egypt from the same fate.

Fast-forward a few generations. All of his descendants are slaves in Egypt, and it takes ten plagues and a shitload of miracles and threats and deception and finagling and debate and death (including deaths of children and animals) to get them all out, and then they wander around the desert for forty years, whining about how much better they had it when they were slaves, and then more people die, and then there's more miracles and idolatry and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of laws, and more death and wandering, and then some slaughtering of enemies and then the Promised Land.

Because of what Joseph's brothers did to him, he was able to save all of their lives. But because of his position in Egypt, the same one that allowed him to save the lives of so many, the whole family settled down in Egypt and eventually became slaves and had all kinds of death and adventures before they could get back home.

So, yeah. Whatever your flaws, whatever your failures, whatever your mistakes, whatever your outright rebellions, God will find a way to bring good from it. But it's not like everything will be sunny all the time always.

Yeah. I don't have a positive note to end on.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Reason #17 Why I Should Live With My Boyfriend

He's been sick lately, and i've had things to take care of in my own apartment, so i haven't been able to take care of him every day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

words, words, words

Hello!

I know you're all DYING to know what's happening with my comic book, so here's a quick update: STUFF. STUFF is going on.

One of my roommates (the Outlaw) is also a writer, and we've both been sorely missing the regular workshops that we had when we were in school. Recently, we decided to start workshopping again, hoping to draw other people in and forming a real writing group. So far, we have two and a half people.

The Outlaw and i have met twice. The second time we met, i gave him what i had so far of my comic script, and i got some really great feedback -- helpful, constructive, informative, encouraging. I have a LOT of work ahead of me, but i'm energized about it, so it won't be too bad.

We've decided to meet every week, and to vary the format: week one, we will workshop our own individual pieces. Week two, we will work on a collaborative play/short story thing that was Outlaw's idea. This gives us time in between meetings to write and revise based on workshops, helps us keep up our momentum, and allows plenty of time for thinking and reading and re-reading.

The half person has been invited to join the workshop meetings and is excited. Hopefully, we will have our first meeting with her next week.

So i'm re-writing my prologue and expanding it, and then i'll continue with the rest of the story, editing and darkening and writing, writing, writing. I'm very excited to have other people look at my work, and to see work from other people. There is nothing more inspiring than a really good workshop.

And if you live in the Boston area and have been looking for a writing workshop, let me know! We'd love to expand the group further.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Revelations 17-22, Genesis 1-22

Genesis 4:15
And the Lord said to him, "Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.

God says over and over again that only He is allowed to kill people, that only He is allowed to have vengeance, to take life. Yet in this first story of murder, God not only declines to kill Cain himself, but prevents anyone else from killing him. God goes out of His way to protect the first murderer.

Genesis 12:1
Now the Lord had said to Abram:
"Get out of your country,
From your kindred
And from your father's house,
To a land that I will show you."

What intrigues me about this is that final line: to a land that I will show you. God didn't say, "Go to Egypt", or "travel west for seven weeks" or anything like that. He just told Abram to go until He said to stop. Abram was traveling blind, placing his trust entirely in God's hands.

What's especially interesting is that, when you read on, you see that Abram messed up and wasn't able to get where he was going until he set it right. God said to leave his family behind, but Abram brought along his nephew, Lot. Abram and Lot camped out in Canaan and Jordan for a while, but Abram's servants and Lot's servants quarreled, because there wasn't enough water and food for everyone. So they parted ways, and Abram got stuck with Canaan. At which point God said, "This is where I wanted you to be."

Sometimes we just have to go until God tells us to stop. When we start to feel lost or confused, we should review what God told us to do. Have we followed His whole instruction, or only part of it? Is there something else we could be doing? Make sure we're doing what we're supposed to be doing, and then keep doing it until God tells us to stop.

Genesis 18:16-33

This is the passage where God decides to destroy Sodom and Abraham intercedes for them. Every time someone says something like, "We shouldn't question God; his ways are higher than ours," I want to beat them over the head with a baseball bat and scream these verses into their faces. God proclaimed His intentions, and Abraham argued with Him and got Him to change His mind. God wants us to engage with Him, to talk to Him, to press for what we think is right. Is there a time and a place for us to shut up and accept what God gives us? Absolutely. In fact, if you read the passage, Abraham is bargaining with God for righteous people in the city. He starts out with fifty: "Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?" He gets God to agree that it is worth saving the city, if fifty righteous people can be found within it. And then Abraham keeps bargaining, and talks God down to ten. If they can find ten righteous people in the city, it will be spared.

But that's how messed up this city is: there are not even ten righteous people in it. God generally has really good reasons for what He's doing. Yet He still allows us to ask questions, to doubt and argue, to engage Him in debate. He's awesome that way.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Okay, i have not been posting much as of late. My bad. Let's do a quick catch-up:

My birthday was awesome. Probably the best one i've ever had.

My mom and aunt somehow became convinced that i was going to get engaged this year over my birthday/Christmas. I did not, because i'm not insane. My mom had been married for three years by the time she was my age and is now divorced and married to someone else, and my aunt has been married and divorced twice, most recently to a guy who went temporarily insane and started vandalizing schools and trying to shoot her (true story), and is currently in a relationship with someone who lives in Florida, while she lives in Maryland, and neither of them wants to move. So clearly these should be my standards for whether or not my relationship is on the right track.

Instead of an engagement ring, i got measuring spoons and a gorgeous baking dish from my favorite kitchen store (Sur la Table), a comic book/graphic novel version of a world literature text book, and earrings. I also got the reassurance that if/when Boyfriend proposes, it won't be anywhere near a holiday or my birthday, because a) the engagement itself should be its own event and b) then i won't get a birthday/Christmas/Valentine's day/whatever present.

I drove to Maryland alone for the annual four Christmases. It was alternately stressful and boring, with some nice moments thrown in for good measure, and i got lots of cash and gift cards (including an $80 Victoria's Secret gift card from my mom, purchased in anticipation of my impending engagement), so my sisters and i hit the mall on December 26th and spent a ton of money. We then spent the rest of the week together, watching season one of Dexter and getting haircuts and eating dinner with our dad. We headed back to our mom's house on the 28th, where i made sure all of my devices were charged (especially my GPS) and packed a sandwich.

On the 29th, i drove for 9 1/2 hours through a snowstorm, alone, and mostly in the dark. It was a little scary, but mostly people were being smart and careful and i had some great audiobooks, so it was okay. I slept and showered and unpacked and snuggled with my boyfriend for most of the 30th. I picked up my cat from Benji's house on the 31st and then went home to prepare for the Gay Apparel holiday party that night.

My boyfriend and his roommates were hosting. "Gay Apparel" was completely open for interpretation; most people dressed pretty normally, but i and another woman dressed like Ellen and the other Ellen woman's husband dressed like a bear. The gay kind, not the grizzly kind. I got pleasantly drunk and kissed John at midnight and sobered up before bed (therefore waking up with only a mild hangover), and the next morning i and one of the roommates got bacon and coffee and made hangover breakfast for everyone.

Today is my first day back at work, so yesterday i hung around the house in leggings, eating chips and salsa and doing laundry and snuggling with my cat, who was being super cute and affectionate.

And after work, i am hitting the gym. It's time to stop making excuses and just fucking get in shape already. My dad is pre-diabetic, my grandmother and uncle are diabetic and my grandmother has had a quadruple bypass, my grandfather has gout and has recently had heart problems (on top of the gout and colon cancer), my other grandmother was an alcoholic and smoker who died of cancer of unknown origin, my other grandfather has had heart attacks and suffers from chronic high cholesterol and blood pressure, my dad has high cholesterol and blood pressure, my sisters have high cholesterol and blood pressure, and there is a long history on both sides of cancer, obesity, and other lifestyle-related forms of ill health. Plus a healthy dollop of sickness that wasn't preventable, like breast cancer.

So i'm eating better and exercising now, starting this year. I'm not going to be crazy about it. For one thing, there are way too many books to read for me to spend much of my time at the gym. For another thing, i hate gyms with a fiery passion and will move my workouts outside as soon as the weather permits. Furthermore, i have bad knees that prevent certain types of workouts (like running or squats).

But.

I am overweight and in bad shape. I have poor muscle tone, i get out of breath very easily, i'm tired all the time, i'm often depressed and/or anxious, i keep having to buy new clothes because i don't fit in the old ones, i jiggle unattractively when i walk, i have cellulite in my ass and thighs that can be seen through my clothing . . .

There are a million reasons not to work out, and they are all stupid. There are a million reasons to work out, and they are mostly life-and-death. Plus there are a few about looking good in a bikini which, while less urgent, are still important and valid.

I can't run, but i can use an elliptical. I can't afford therapy or medication, but the gym where i work is free for staff to use. I can't predict or prevent every health problem that might ever threaten me, but i can establish lifelong habits of good diet and occasional moderate exercise that will go a long way toward ensuring happiness and longevity. I can't turn into a gym rat or personal trainer or someone who would ever be featured in an exercise video, but i can put an audiobook on my iPod and feel a little more confident in fitted clothing.

2012 kicked ass. Today, i will start working to make 2013 even better.