A love affair

It isn’t your average love affair.

I’m in love with a pen.

Hurr’s the thang. I’ve always had an appreciation for quality writing utensils. Before I entered kindergarten, I knew full well that Crayola makes the best crayons and anything else is basically a chunk of useless wax. By fourth grade, you couldn’t pay me to sharpen a pencil, because all of mine were mechanical. By middle school, my instrument of choice was a purple Pilot V-5, the cap kind because the retractable wasn’t out yet. I still keep one of those in my arsenal. Toward the end of high school, I discovered the Staedtler Triplus fineliner, a .3mm German marker-pen that comes in over 20 colors. Actually, I just discovered last week that it comes in more than 20 colors, but I’ve been through at least 5 20-color sets since I was in high school.

Senior year of college, I bought my first .25mm Pentel Slicci. I was intrigued by such a fine tip, and it was only a couple bucks at the time, so I bought a black one. My memory of that first Slicci is a little hazy but I’m pretty sure it involved clouds opening up to a chorus of angels and all the little woodland creatures gathering around to sing and you know what, I think I might not be remembering this quite accurately. In any case, the Slicci is a really, really good pen.

From there, I went on to discover the Slicci in almost 20 different colors, then the Pilot Hi-Tec-C, and this week I have begun to bask in the majesty of the Uni-Ball Signo DX, .38mm.

My current love affair–don’t worry, Slicci, you’re still my best gal–is the Lavender Black Signo. It was new on JetPens recently, conveniently right around the time I accidentally destroyed my dark purple Slicci and had to replace it immediately. JetPens offers free shipping if you spend $25, so…my need for a $3 pen turned into my acquisition of 12 new pens, a few Signos among them.

Look at this pen.

It writes so smoothly. The ink is an incredible rich dark purple–none of that fuchsia bullshit you find in every other purple pen–and the nib is thin enough for detail but thick enough to stand out. The pen design itself is really clean and sharp, and the tip is structured such that you don’t have to be super delicate with it. Hi-Tec-Cs require a delicate touch, Sliccis are tougher than that but still a needle-tip that needs care, but nobody fucks with a Signo.

At .38mm, I won’t be using it for the same kind of detail work I do with .25mm Sliccis. As it turns out, a difference of .13mm is a substantial difference. But you know, different instruments for different purposes.

I tried really hard the other day to come up with a list of my top 5 pens. I decided to make it a list of my top 5 pen styles, with notations on each of which color I like best. Otherwise it’d be something like Slicci-Signo-Slicci-Slicci-Slicci. Boring. So here’s what I came up with:

  • .25mm Pentel Slicci (black, but also turquoise and dark purple)
  • .38mm Uni-Ball Signo DX (lavender black)
  • .3mm Staedtler Triplus (I like all of them)
  • fine-point Bic ballpoint, cap style (black, and yes this boring pen is actually a great one)
  • .4mm Pilot Hi-Tec-C (black)

Obviously I write in black a lot–I like dark colors, and you don’t get much darker.

Surprisingly for a pen aficionado, I don’t care much about fountain pens and other expensive styles. Maybe I’ll grow into them; who knows. I’m very much into gel ink, as long as the pens and the ink are high quality and not the shit I used to buy at the middle school bookstore. Marker-pens like the Triplus and the Stabilo are nice too, but the advantage of gel ink is that it doesn’t bleed through paper as easily. Same goes for liquid-ink pens like the Pilot V-5. Reliable inkflow, but happy bleedy happy bruisy.

Aaaand now I need to listen to Antony and the Johnsons.

Maybe next post will be a half-coherent fawning over my favorite music.

(Hint: Radical Face, Mumford & Sons, the Lonely Forest.)

Send in the clowns

No seriously, a troupe of clowns might add some intelligence and class to the Republican presidential-nomination race. As it stands, we have:

Mitt Romney, who is going to get nominated because he’s kept his damn mouth shut, even though he’s a Mormon, which apparently is somehow more worrying than…

Rick Perry, who has explicitly endorsed, in gubernatorial capacity, evangelical Christianity (personal note: I have nothing but unpleasant feelings about evangelicalism). Oh, and he has failed the “keep-your-damn-mouth-shut” test. Not just failed, more like faceplanted in gravel. “The three agencies that, when I get there, are gone–Commerce, Education, and uh…let’s see…the third one…I can’t [remember].” That was a hilarious moment, but did anyone actually hear him say that he wants to abolish the Dept. of Education?!

Newt Gingrich, who may or may not be actually running. Didn’t he say he wasn’t running not too long ago, and now he’s out talking about ending child labor laws? Hey! Fire all the janitors and replace them with elementary kids! I am not kidding. This man wants that to happen.

Michelle Bachmann, your friendly neighborhood anti-science, anti-feminism, pro-theocracy, unashamedly bigoted candidate who thinks “Not all cultures are equal” and global warming is a voodoo hoax. I realize that the page I’m about to link to is biased, but just read the quotations. The only thing that could make those things okay is if she turned out to be an undercover candidate employed by the Daily Show. Seeing as she is an actual elected Congresswoman, I’m pretty sure she actually believes these things.

Rick Santorum. Don’t Google him.

Jon Huntsman, who is apparently in the running? He, like Romney, is a Mormon (listen, to each their own, but I am astonished that people actually believe the claims of Mormonism) who has enough sense to keep his mouth shut. Apparently, these candidates’ popularity directly correlates with their insanity. Good sign for Huntsman, but I seriously suspect he’s too moderate for the Republican Party nowadays. Anyway, I’m suspicious of a candidate whose “issues” page only lists four issues, all of them advocating “American exceptionalism.” American exceptionalism is a pretty transparent code phrase for “America is the best at everything and fuck the rest of you.”

Ron Paul: “Not racist, but very popular with racists!” Well, okay, maybe he’s racist too. In any case, he seems to think this country is at a place, socially, where we can do away with civil rights laws and have totally harmonious race relations. Yeah, um, no. Paul is a libertarian in the extreme sense. He wants to do away with regulations, agencies, just slash it all because a country of 300 million people should be capable of fending for itself, right? Fending for the rich and powerful, maybe, but social supports are in place for a reason. That reason is that it’s a good idea to keep your citizenry alive. I don’t see that Paul realizes this. He’s really popular on the Internet (among white supremacists, anarchists, and male-dominated communities), and to his credit, he does seem to employ a measure of critical thought. Except the whole creationism thing. Creationism and rational thought are fundamentally incompatible, sorry.

Herman Cain…oh, Herman. Repeatedly accused of sexual assault, recently bragged to a crowd that he was so relieved that a doctor of his wasn’t Muslim, oh-so-cleverly quipped that for President “we need a leader, not a reader,” and proponent of the “9-9-9” tax plan, which places an incredibly heavy burden on the poor and doesn’t do a damn thing about the loopholes provided to the rich. I really hope he’s secretly an actor trying to see how ridiculous you can be and still be a viable candidate, but I know better than that.

Back in 2008, I thought the worst thing that could happen in 2012 was a Sarah Palin presidential run. Now, of course, she’s found it more profitable to be a reality TV star (well, her show was canceled after one season, but she had a show) and a Fox News talking head. (Fox News: Because Facts are Bad For You!) We might not have to worry about her this year, but somehow, astonishingly, even worse candidates have slithered out of the woodwork. You know, people say that “if ___ is elected, I’m moving to Canada!” Well, I have no plans to move to Canada, because if any of the above are elected, I’m going to get a lot of perverse enjoyment out of the resulting clusterfuck. And then I’ll cry, once I remember that the clusterfuck affects me too.

Oh, and for the record, I’m not thrilled about the prospect of voting for Obama. I hesitated to vote for him last year but did anyway because he wasn’t running with Palin (that’s very similar to running with scissors). I hope something changes if he is reelected, though. Although the Democratic Party is pretty solidly centrist, and Obama the Kenyan socialist Muslim (seriously, what?!) is too conservative for my taste, centrism doesn’t have to imply apathy. If the Democrats actually stood up to the Republican bullies, we might not be veering sharply toward a far-right theocracy. I mean, we’d still be going there, but not as fast.

Here’s what I want to see from a hypothetical Obama 2nd term. A universal healthcare option. Legalization of same-sex marriage. End the “war on drugs.” De-privatize the prison system. Finalize a solid plan to un-fuck the budget. Laugh out loud, publicly, the next time someone seriously brings up the birth certificate thing.

Could it be…SATAN?!

Obviously, that title refers to one of the best Saturday Night Live characters in the history of EVER.

Social networking can be a really fantastic thing. I like keeping in touch with people I’d otherwise lose contact with–awesome TAs from undergrad, random people from high school, Internet friends, etc. I freely admit to being an occasional facebook creeper, not in the I’m-gonna-stalk-you-and-kill-you sense, but more in the sense of rubbernecking. Like when you drive past something really scary like a fiery wreck or something really cool like well-done graffiti. Whatever the reason, you don’t want to miss out.

I sort of wish I’d missed out on this one, though.

Because I’m not a complete jerkface, I’ve blocked out names and pictures, but I’ve color-coded them so you can keep track of who’s who. I’m the purple one, because purple is the best color. Fact.

Let me just emphasize that charming insight. “Yes I do think there is no WAY that 3 black males at night have good intentions surrounding anyone’s car…”

Apparently, according to “A,” it’s totally okay for me (a white woman) to walk out to a parking lot, maybe with some friends, walk up to a red ’97 Buick (I ride in style, yo), start to get in only to realize that oh shit, that isn’t my car, and the people inside definitely are weirded out. Yeah, that’s legit. Now, substitute three black men in my place and OMG MURDER SATAN WORTHLESS SCARY EVIL! Also, apparently, these men should be “caught” for “committing crimes.” Yes, because walking by K’s car, creepily or not, is totally against the law, right?

It isn’t that I’m trying to make this a race issue. I mean, I’m pretty sure “A” made it a race issue to begin with, but I hesitated to pick up on that, because you know how people like to turn that shit right back around (“Oh, you had to go and make it about race! Now who’s the racist?”). I’m not trying to make it a race issue, because “A” got there far before I did. She also hopped aboard the Religious Crazy Train with “Satan’s helpers swarming [yo]ur car.” And then she went full-on batshit insane with “THEY ARE SERVING NO PURPOSE” and implying that the men were unemployed deadbeats (I’m being really generous when I say “implying”). I really hope that Disney movie she watched before bed wasn’t “Song of the South.”

And then we have “D,” she of the classy “Laura ur a moron” (I only blocked out my name for consistency’s sake). Fun fact: “D,” in sixth grade, vandalized the school playground with some phrase about me being a lesbian. In green nail polish, for whatever reason. Funner fact: Turns out, I am a lesbian. Anyway, I really enjoyed how, after I called her out on bullying me in elementary school and insulting me on facebook, the best response she could give was a smiley face. To be clear, I’m not looking for any kind of response from her about it, but I really enjoyed putting “ur a moron” in context. I don’t think I’m too far off-base in thinking that a smiley face is a pretty cowardly response (although, “A” seems to think it’s just adorable).

In all honesty, I don’t give a single microscopic fuck about the name-calling and banter here. I have been, however, profoundly disturbed by the racism and knee-jerk religious insanity. I have a sociology degree, I work in a field that strongly emphasizes diversity and social justice, I make a point to read the most repugnant shit on the internet, I believe in the power of knowing your enemy. It still blows my mind, somehow, that people I’ve known since I was a kid apparently hold beliefs and attitudes that are mainstream in white supremacist circles. I’m not naive; I know that shit is everywhere, I’m just privileged enough to be surprised when I’m smacked in the face with it.

Oh, and no. It isn’t Satan. There’s no such thing as devils or demons. They’re a fun rhetorical device and a fun Halloween costume, but then again so are unicorns.

Reading List

After writing my last blog post, I decided I needed to do some hardcore reading, and not just stuff on the Internet. I went to the library after work yesterday and checked out the following:

50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God (Guy P. Harrison)

The God Delusion (Richard Dawkins)

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Christopher Hitchens)

Letter to a Christian Nation (Sam Harris)

Misquoting Jesus: the Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Bart D. Ehrman)

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Malcolm Gladwell)

And a few others, like a collection of H.P. Lovecraft stories. May as well throw a little Cthulhu in the mix.

While looking for all these books at the library, I felt a little guilty. Not guilty as in “I’m going to hell for this,” but as in “This list is awfully biased.” To be fair, though, it isn’t like I need to research arguments for belief in a god. I grew up with it. I’ve been to a shitload of churches (okay, “shitload of churches” might send me to hell, if I thought such a place existed) and I’ve heard all kinds of reasons that atheism is wrong and bad and (*snerk*) illogical. My reading list is an attempt to balance all that out with things that might have a little bit more solid credibility than r/atheism.

In unrelated news, tonight is the annual Holly & Ivy dinner at one of the residence halls where I work. I’m pretty excited; I haven’t been to a residence hall program since I was an RA, and this one sounds like a lot of fun (plus free food). Everyone here seems really stressed out today, myself included, so I hope this mellows people out a little. We’re all so ready for Thanksgiving break. My plan is to drive north to Indy on Wednesday night for dinner with a friend, drive down to Greenwood after that, stay in Greenwood until Sunday afternoon/evening, then come back home to Bloomington for the last few weeks of the semester. My 25th birthday is the second Saturday in December, a week after that the res halls close, a week after that is Christmas, a week after that is New Year’s Eve/Day, then suddenly it’s 2012. November and December always fly by.

In the meantime, I can has weekend pls?

The opiate of the masses

Yeah, that one. Religion.

I have a long and complicated relationship with religion. Who doesn’t? I was raised by a Presbyterian/Methodist mom and a Catholic dad. Well, my dad’s more of a nominal Catholic at this point, but he grew up in the church and his parents were devout. Although my parents both are from Christian backgrounds, I think they have sort of a quasi-interfaith marriage, which makes me a product of a quasi-interfaith family. That said, the first time I attended a church more than a time or two was when I was 10 or 11, when my mom spent a few years at a startup Lutheran church. We didn’t go every Sunday, but I think my mom felt like she should be raising her kids in a stable religious environment instead of church-hopping a few times a year, so we went to the Lutheran church pretty frequently. Mom found a group of friends there that had a monthly playgroup, and the playgroup kids were my siblings’ ages, so they all got some social enjoyment out of it. I got a few babysitting jobs out of it once I got into high school, but at the time, I was at that awkward age where there was nothing for me to do in the playroom with the kids and nothing for me to do in the kitchen with the moms, so I always brought my latest art project or a book to read. The playgroup wasn’t churchy; it was just a group of families that met through church.

Most Christmases, we either visited my dad’s family in South Holland, IL or my mom’s family in St. Charles, IL. With my dad’s family, we had a pretty solid routine. Afternoon Mass (on Christmas Eve) at Holy Ghost, dinner at Glenwood Oaks, then back to my grandparents’ house for the good part–gifts and laughter and family time. I was never too thrilled with the prospect of sitting through Mass, but I like singing Christmas songs, so it was okay. Dinner was always nice, but by then I just wanted to get home and get to the good part. The Christmas routine as a whole was really focused around family, not religion. My feelings on extensive family time definitely varied (cue 13-year-old me wanting everyone to shut up and leave me alone) but in general, my Christmas memories are good.

Easter is, I guess, the other big Christian holiday. I haven’t celebrated Easter since my egg-hunting days; my family doesn’t make much of a deal of it beyond sending chocolate bunnies (which are very much appreciated, for sure). I’ve been to a few Easter church services, but not in a long time.

So I was raised basically “Christianish.” I went to the occasional Sunday school and learned “Jesus Loves Me” and got dressed up for Christmas Eve Mass. Culturally Christian, I guess. It wasn’t until middle school that I realized how seriously people take religion and how intense the environment can be.

In middle school, I started to think critically about religion. My thoughts weren’t sophisticated by any means, but I came to the conclusion that “Wait a minute, God made people and then killed them all in a flood? And what are all these insane rules in Leviticus? How does anyone know that Jesus was the son of God? Seriously, rose from the…yeah, no.” I had ventured into the danger zone: ATHEISM.

I say that facetiously, of course, because I’m veering near that zone as I write, and I don’t find it dangerous. Not, at least, until people find out.

Eighth grade. I literally got crowds of kids at my desk, yelling at me about how atheists go to hell and why can’t I just accept Jesus and Christianity is the only right answer for everything. My best friend at the time, who has now grown up into a wonderful person and genuinely good friend, was a strong Christian and had been taught that only Christians go to heaven, so she was pretty distressed at the prospect of her friend being tormented by her loving God for eternity. I don’t know which hurt worse–the mean-spirited proselytizing from the kids crowded at my desk or the not-too-subtle conversion attempts by my friends. “I just want you to go to heaven!” “I want you to know the peace of Christ!” I still don’t know if those things are honestly well-meant, but I try to think that they are.

Well, finally I said “screw it” and gave in. I even know the date: July 16, 2001. Aforementioned then-best-friend had just left for a trip to Europe, I was in the middle of a serious depressive episode, this was before widespread internet access so I had absolutely no contact with the one person who was keeping me sane. I realized after just a day or two that I was crushingly lonely, and I thought, well, I wouldn’t be lonely if there were a god. So I prayed, awkwardly. My actual motivation, though, was pretty obvious when my friend got back from Europe. Once she got over her jetlag, I told her that I was now a Christian, and I don’t think I’d ever seen her that excited for me. As a fun little complication, I had a ginormous crush on her, so her reaction was a big endorphin rush for me, and I totally pushed aside the niggling feeling that I’d really only “converted” because I wanted her to like me better. And from what I could tell, it worked.

My mom, at the time, had started taking my siblings and me to a Methodist church. When I was 13, I was supposed to go through confirmation and baptism, become a member of the church, the whole shebang. I went to a couple of the classes and couldn’t memorize any Bible verses through my burning rage. I was a firm atheist then, and I’d already “come out” as such to at least my dad, but I was also a “problem child” (in retrospect: emotionally disturbed) and I was made to go to church for a couple reasons. First was the simple “If we let you stay home, your siblings will want to stay home too. Consistency.” Admirable. The other reason, I think, was the desperate attempt of frustrated parents to figure out who this screaming teenager was and what she’d done with their honor-roll daughter.

Anyway, I’d finally convinced my mom to let me drop out of confirmation classes, probably in part to make me shut up about it! But after July 16th, I was all about the youth group. Read ALL the Bibles! Take ALL the notes! That lasted for…I don’t even know how long. A couple months, maximum? Just enough time for me to get brainwashed into thinking that doubting my religion was just the devil talking. I could’ve dodged that bear trap, but once you get a toe caught, you can’t move much.

It wasn’t even a very conservative church, and we’re talking Methodist, not Pentecostal, so they were relatively easy on the fire and brimstone. There was a kid in the youth group who stood up and gave an impassioned speech about how Harry Potter is the work of Satan and knowing that led her to go on a mission trip or something of the sort, and everyone clapped for her. There was a kid who, after the Columbia disaster, stood up and said sadly that “Well, we know two of those astronauts are in hell–one was Jewish and another was Hindu.” There was the creepy boy who flirted with me (there’s one in every youth group) and the youth leader who tried to take me under her wing as a new Christian until I told her I was gay, at which point she said some things about Sodom and Gomorrah that I knew well enough to tune out. I eventually stopped going to youth group and toned down the new-convert RAH RAH JESUS stuff.

Throughout high school, religion wasn’t much of a factor in my life. I considered myself a Christian but rarely went to church; I eventually came up with some form of “I’m a Christian but not one of those crazy ones” ethos.

In 2004, the movie “The Passion of the Christ” came out.

I still haven’t seen it, nor do I care to, because I’m pretty sure it’s just a snuff film for the lord. A bunch of my friends saw it, though, and overnight, en masse, they went from “eh, church is okay or whatever” to I LOVE JESUS AND YOU MUST LOVE JESUS AND EVERYTHING IS A SIN. It was, to put it lightly, jarring. Like all new converts, they settled down after awhile, and after a couple strategic social events, I found myself tagging along with them to church. Hayrides and ice cream and rock music–what’s not to love (insert obligatory Admiral Ackbar here)?

There were inconsistencies upon inconsistencies with what I couldn’t help believing, but I managed to sort of barely tread water. I held on to my basic moral values while being surrounded by fundamentalism. I still considered myself a Christian at the time, while simultaneously believing that God made me gay, non-Christians can go to heaven, the Bible shouldn’t be read literally, and Paul should’ve shut the hell up.

Enter college. Religion wasn’t a big deal for me freshman year. It all ramped up again sophomore year, though. I started sophomore year clawing my way out of a pit of depression and self-injury (yeah, that was a fun summer, except totally not). I started getting closer and closer to Kate, my best friend, as we helped each other sort through really gnarly feelings and experiences. Kate started going to church a lot. I wanted to spend time with her, so I tagged along (Ackbar again). The group she went to was connected with Campus Crusade for Christ, a well-established group with cultlike tendencies. She found some good in it, and I once again found myself playing along in hope that it would make us closer friends. In April, I went to a weekend retreat with that group, an experience that I can really only describe as “anxiety-inducing” and “scarring.” I must be a hell of an actress (hint: I’m not) because I somehow convinced myself that I was totally “moved” by the experience. Yeah, we call that a “weekend-long anxiety attack”–you’d be emotionally volatile too.

I heard so many stories of people’s “born-again” moments. “And this is how I KNOW Christ is my savior!” “The moment I accepted Lord Jesus…” “I have no doubt in my mind…” The implication, and sometimes they did away with implication entirely and stated it outright, was always that if you have doubts about Christianity, you’re not a good enough Christian (and therefore, of course, not a good enough person). You just need stronger faith! You just need to confess your sins! Read the Bible! Trust Jesus! Who needs logic when you have faith?

I couldn’t buy into it. Oh, I told people I was buying into it. I told Kate that “I know God exists because if even I believe in him despite all my skepticism, he must be real.” (What the FUCK, pardon my French, kind of logic is that?) I twisted my mind through all kinds of hoops and knots and semantic technicalities¬† in the hope that I could somehow find a way to get my mind to believe in religion.

Honestly? I’m still doing it. It’s crazy, I know. It’s absolutely insane and frighteningly illogical. The last label I gave myself was “agnostic theist.” Meaning, I don’t follow any religion, but I believe in a god, but who really knows? The thing is, what god was/am I believing in? If it’s the Christian God, the dude already has a backstory. Floods, commandments, and a son. If I don’t believe in that stuff, which I really just can’t, then it’s not the Christian God I believe in, it’s some out-of-canon fanfiction God. Like an omnipotent imaginary friend. It’s a wonderful thought. I like the thought that there is a being that designed the universe and has allowed it to unfurl, who loves each person (and, I would hope, each other living thing) unconditionally, who’s going to let us crash at his awesome pad when our bodies quit working. Sweet, right? Who wouldn’t want that kind of love and attention? Unfortunately, if there’s a supreme being who’s giving me that kind of love and attention, why is he (she) allowing incredible suffering in other parts of the world? If I pray to God for a job or for easy traffic, I sure hope I’d be further down on the heavenly priority list than people who lack basic human needs, but seeing as I have a job and a car and relatively good health and all that and still continue to have good things happen to me, apparently the priority list got scrambled. I’m not sure I want God answering my prayers when he hasn’t gotten to the important ones yet. If it were a person behaving like that, I don’t think I’d want that person to be my friend. If I’m going to believe in (and “trust”) a god, I want it to be a responsible god, and I want to believe that there is a responsible, omnipotent, loving being out there, but you can’t argue with reality. I can’t, anyway. I’ve done it too much and I’m over it.

So I don’t know what I am, religion-wise. I guess that makes me agnostic, which ironically is the one thing I can be sure of. If I’m an agnostic theist, then I come down on the side of believing that there is a god (but not claiming to be sure of it). I don’t know if I can do that. The only reason I have to believe in a god is that I’ve been trained to. That’s a shitty reason, and it’s not belief, it’s indoctrination.

I might be falling back on the side of atheism. In a vacuum I’d be perfectly fine with that, but the social implications are big. Not as big as they were when I was a teenager in conservative Greenwood, but still big. In my more irrational moments, I worry that if I settle on a lack of belief in a god, my Christian best friend will be disappointed. I have every confidence that she’ll always love me for who I am (hey, I am capable of belief–in things that make sense), but if she were to feel sad for me, or believe that I’m hellbound, or distance herself from me–again, this is my irrational mind speaking–that might be more of a rejection than any blatant rejection. If I can come to a comfortable conclusion about where I stand on the religion issue, I want the people I love to be happy for me and proud of me for it, and I’ve never heard of a Christian being proud of someone for declaring her atheism.

Then again, I also worry that I’m falling into the same damn trap, giving myself a religious label only as long as it will have a positive effect on my relationships. It’s comically stupid, but humans are social creatures; we’re wired to want acceptance.

And then there’s Pascal’s wager. Nothing to lose by believing in God, everything to lose by not believing. Unfortunately, for this to apply, belief would need to be a choice. Trust me, if belief were a choice, I wouldn’t have written this long blog post. And if there were a god, would he (she) have created me without belief, with the intent of sending me to hell? That doesn’t fit with the whole “a loving God” thing.

And those are just the big, overarching questions. I have all kinds of little doubts and disbeliefs about the Bible. “Virgin birth” is a pretty convenient “miracle” for a pregnant teenager who would’ve been killed for adultery. What if the historical Jesus had been a mentally ill man with delusions of being God and a striking charisma that made him a great cult leader? And the whole “risen from the dead” thing, oh really? That occurred to them before, say, grave robbers or people wanting to, for whatever reason, tamper with the body of an incredibly controversial political figure? And don’t get me started on the freaking ark or the garden of Eden. If the only condition for living in the garden was that Adam and Eve had to remain ignorant (don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil blah blah blah), I would’ve gotten the hell out of that garden too.

Those are only details. Cracks in the foundation. The other stuff, now that’s the sledgehammer. I don’t know at this point if I believe in a god. I lean toward no, but then the guilt and fear start nagging. The guilt and fear that I got from the church itself. If this were a relationship between people, it would be an emotionally abusive one. And you know, that alone should be reason enough for me to get the hell out–religion is still trying to stamp out my intelligence. That’s how it stays afloat, anyway. If religious establishments didn’t trample human intellect, the religious establishments would fall apart. I’ve already made it clear, years ago, that I want nothing to do with organized religion. I know I’m not a Christian. And if I’m a hundred percent honest with myself, social implications aside, fear and guilt aside, I see no reason to be anything other than an atheist.

Shiny things

I’ve been making lots of jewelry lately. Bracelets, specifically. They’re the perfect size and scope–earrings take just a few minutes to make and aren’t too satisfying, and I rarely wear necklaces other than the silver ones I wear every day. That said, I’m not necessarily making all these bracelets for myself. I’m hoping to sell them at craft fairs and such. If they don’t sell, oh well, I’ll have lots of pretty bracelets to wear!

My photography is really not good at all, but here are a few bracelets I’ve made lately.

Wreath

“Wreath” is a bracelet made with pearly glass rondelle-shaped beads. Each circular link is three jump rings linked in a Mobius knot. Closes with a lobster clasp.

Winter Berries

“Winter Berries” is a Byzantine chain maille bracelet interrupted by red glass pearls. Closes with a lobster clasp.

Regina

“Regina” is a queen’s-link chain maille bracelet. Closes with a lobster clasp.

Konstantine

“Konstantine” is a Byzantine chain maille bracelet interrupted by glass beads. The dark rings are hematite-colored glass beads, and inside are dark rose glass pearl beads. Closes with a lobster clasp.

I tried to get good pictures of my other three bracelets–Symphony, Valencia, and Galactic–but obviously I’m better at beading than I am at photography. “Symphony” is a series of off-white glass pearls on twisted wire links. “Galactic” is a series of glittery blue-black round glass beads on twisted wire links. “Valencia” is a Byzantine chain maille bracelet, no beads.

Answers to the most common questions I get:

  • I started doing wirework in December 2005. Self-taught, with the help of all kinds of great books and websites.
  • I make all of the chain links (jump rings) by hand, starting with a spool of wire.
  • The wire is copper with a sterling silver coating.
  • I design them pretty spontaneously–no patterns or plans.
  • Yes, I sell them (see mention of craft fairs above), but I don’t like to pimp them out because to me, this is a hobby. A potentially lucrative hobby, but I want to keep it low-stress for myself. Simply put, I don’t exactly advertise but I definitely do commissions.

So anyway, that explains a) what I do with my time, b) why my fingernails are mangled and my fingertips are callused, and c) where my paychecks go after I pay rent.

My homosexual agenda

6:30 am: Wake up to Fleet Foxes ringtone.

7:00 am: Drag lazy ass out of bed. Consider destroying institution of marriage.

7:05 am: Brush hair instead.

7:15 am: Get dressed. Zero percent flannel.

7:30 am: Make oatmeal. Strawberry flavored for extra gayness.

7:45 am: Drive to work.

8:00 am: Enter elevator, which if you think about it could be a vaginal metaphor, but I’d rather not think of it like that.

8:05-11:00 am: Paperwork, with extra-flamboyant mouse clicks. Oozing rainbows at this point.

11:00-11:30 am: Leadership team meeting. I’m the only gay in the room so of course I must…give my updates and take notes like anyone else, because my sexuality isn’t any more relevant than anyone else’s.

11:30am-noon: Surf Reddit.

noon-1:00 pm: Corrupt the innocent mind of my turkey sandwich and grapes. Surf Reddit.

1:00-5:00 pm: Paperwork, fully clothed and not making out with any hot ladies.

5:00 pm: Leave work, call best friend. Who is also a lady. Who likes dudes. And country music. The latter causes more friction (love you!).

7:00 pm: Clean owl cages. That is not a metaphor.

9:00 pm: Finally get around to attempting the destruction of the sanctity of marriage. As it turns out, crocheting a hat and eating ravioli have no effect on the sanctity of marriage.

10:30 pm: Tired from all this homosexuality. Should probably go to bed.

10:45 pm: Snuggle teddy bear and fall asleep.

Total children recruited into my sinful oatmeal-and-paperwork lifestyle: Zero.
Total vaginas ravaged: Zero.
Total marriages destroyed: Zero.
Total deities enraged: Zero.

I think I’m doing pretty well with this.

Let me just rip out your cervix a little…

Well. I went to the doctor today for a physical and a pap smear. New doctor was really nice, good feelings all around…until.

The other day I wrote that my general impulse toward preventive medicine is “if it ain’t broke, don’t stick a speculum in it.” Note that I don’t actually logically think that, which is why I call it an impulse. Anyway, here’s what I discovered today: If it ain’t broke, sticking a speculum in it is a great way to get there. Dr. Black is very nice and very gentle, but there’s only so gentle you can be when you stick a speculum in a virgin. In retrospect, it might’ve been slightly unwise to choose a family practitioner for this procedure, because I’m pretty sure children heard me yell profanity followed by “GET IT OUT GET IT OUT GET IT OUT.”

Okay, so I can be hyper-sensitive. I tried really hard to relax, but it just wasn’t happening, and now I feel like I just had violent sex with a bear. So much for going to the gym today.

In unrelated news, I realized the other day that the new iOS 5 is compatible with my iPod (3rd-gen Touch). Yay! I thought. I shall commence downloading! LOL NOPE. My computer is a 4-year-old Sony Vaio that actually has worse specs than my little netbook. iTunes chugs along on it pretty well for the most part, but it seems to have drawn a line in the sand. I keep getting time-out errors and such, and I sort of think it might be time to give up. I’m hoping to acquire a new computer (and a new iPod) relatively soon, so for now I’ll deal with iOS 4 and a computer that would look like this if it had a face.

It must be “shout nonsense and profanity from the porches all night” week here at my apartment complex. I was so close last night to opening my bedroom window and yelling “SHUT THE FUCK UP, WHAT ARE YOU, THREE? SHUT YOUR GODDAMN MOUTH.” But I didn’t, because that isn’t very respectful.

Responsibility

I am not good at responsibility.

Like Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half, I feel as though responsibility should be an achievement, something that you work toward, attain, and never have to worry about again. As it turns out, responsibility is not like that. Responsibility is more of a character trait, like athleticism or punctuality or badassedness. Some people are naturally athletic/badass/responsible, and other people are like me.

To be entirely fair, I recognize that I am on the autism spectrum, which in part means that I have some trouble with what’s referred to as “executive functioning.” Things like remembering to put on clothes, hit the left-side pedal when I want the car to stop, select appropriate grocery items, move laundry from washer to dryer…all those basic things that a nearly-25-year-old woman should pretty much be accustomed to doing without much thought. I should make a checklist for myself, but that’s another task I’d need to put on the checklist. Things that should be really obvious tend to either not occur to me or seem like incredibly daunting super-tasks. I’ve been known to look up from the computer at 10pm and wonder why my tummy is growly, and then remember that I was going to eat something eight hours ago but got sidetracked…

Still, having a little touch of the autism shouldn’t excuse me from behaving like some kind of an adult, so I try hard to keep track of all the things I should do and force myself to actually do them. To my benefit, I have a good memory for lists, so if I just think of my tasks in list form–very detailed list form–I can usually avoid missing really important stuff.

So anyway, responsibility. This adulthood stuff is no joke. I have things like a car and health insurance (yay!) and bills and bank accounts and an 8-to-5 job. I do things like go to the gym and make doctor appointments and go grocery shopping for responsible-people food like milk and fruit and yogurt that¬† doesn’t come in a squeezy-tube. And then I drive home after work (and the gym) and eat responsible-people food like rotisserie chicken and carrot sticks and whole-grain bullshit. It’s truly remarkable.

I did a new remarkable thing today: I made an appointment for a routine physical with a new doctor. First of all, while I know that responsible people believe in the value of things like “preventive medicine,” I have tended toward the side of “if it ain’t broke, don’t stick a speculum in it.” Second, how the heck are you supposed to pick a doctor when you don’t know any in town? I ended up going with the name I liked best and wound up with a different doctor at that same practice (who also has a nice-sounding name). So now I have this appointment set for tomorrow, and I had to figure out how to word the email to my boss (“So, I’m skipping out early in favor of being poked and prodded by a stranger, mkay?”) and now I need to figure out if I’ve accumulated any paid time off yet and if I can use it tomorrow (or if I want to). Then I’ll just need to cross my fingers and hope that I read my insurance information correctly and this whole doctor thing is actually covered.

If it all goes off without a hitch, I will feel so motherfucking responsible. Which is good, because I haven’t finished unpacking after my move back to Bloomington over a month ago. I could use a little responsibility in my life.

I just bit into a ridiculously delicious apple and the resulting crunch was so satisfying. I thought that should be recorded for posterity. Honeycrisp apples = good choice.

So I thought I’d blog.

On occasion, my brain comes up with what I like to call “thoughts.” Thoughts are when words bubble to the surface of your brain and cluster together in at least a semi-coherent fashion to form a concept that, if only momentarily, makes sense. Not all thoughts are interesting. “I think I’ll make oatmeal” is a thought, but it is probably not interesting, unless you consider that I’ve been looking for lower-sugar strawberry oatmeal for months and just recently found it again at Meijer, which makes breakfast so much more enjoyable than it was the day before I bought the oatmeal. Oh, wait. That’s still not interesting.

My reason for writing about these so-called “thoughts” is that this blog, if all goes according to plan, will act as a repository for said thoughts. Sometimes I might write interesting things, and other times I might write about oatmeal. Chances are I’ll write about owls a lot more than I write about oatmeal, because owls can do cool things like scream and fly, things that oatmeal never ever should do. If your oatmeal has talons, be careful, it might be a cleverly disguised owl.

It might not surprise you at this point to know that I am really, incredibly tired, and while the things I’m writing make sense to me now, I somehow doubt this entry will be quite the same beacon of clarity when I reread it at my desk at 9am.

I just realized why I’m so tired. My brain thinks it’s midnight. Daylight savings time is still confusing to me.