Friday, September 28, 2007

Educated Horses

The Tough Guy adjusted her aviator sunglasses, checked her hair in the rear view mirror and sped out of the apartment parking lot onto 15th street.

It was a gorgeous day outside; the kind of day that makes you want to roll down your windows and force everyone else to listen to your horrible taste in music. Rob Zombie it is, the Tough Guy thought as the sunlight bling-ed off her nose ring.

Her destination- the cigar store. It was buy 3 get one free day and the Tough Guy wanted some birthday cigars. Later, Left Hand Milk Stout and Kahlua smoke dancing on her tongue would make her very happy she made the journey.

Such a gorgeous day outside, but why couldn't she shake the horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach?

Was it the...? No. Maybe the.... ? No.

Oh yeah...she realized. Cupcakes don't keep for three weeks. No matter how badly I want chocolate, fuzzy german chocolate is never a good idea.


It's my birthday weekend (I turn 23 on Sunday) and I am very excited. :-)
Mark's coming into town and we have all sorts of entertaining things planned.
Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

This Worldly

(Btw, this picture is of a real cell phone charm you can buy on if you can't think of a birthday present for me... ;-))

In my Religion in Modern Japan class we've been studying what are called "new religions". (The new religions are basically religions that aren't the two historical religions of Japan- Buddhism and Shinto. ) There is one in particular that we focused on- Kurozumikyo, that I think is really interesting...but I'll comment on that at a later date.

One of the major critiques of religion in Japan is that it is too focused on "worldly benefits". There are multiple shrines and rituals that focus on specific needs and wants of the religious actors- for example a shrine where you can get amulets for protection of a new car. You pray to the various kami (deities) for prosperity and good fortune.

But I got to thinking- how often is Christianity subject to the same thing?

"Oh God if you just help me pass this test I promise I'll go to church every Sunday!"
"Please God, I want my team to win tonight..."
You get the picture...

What is the point of religion in the Western world? Does it help us feel more fulfilled as humans? Or do we go to church and pray simply to reap the benefits and blessing that we hope will be bestowed upon us?

I'd like to say that religion should be about fulfillment and living a better life, but then again I'm the girl who does experiments in instantaneous karma by donating to the Salvation Army and then buying a lottery ticket.

Just a thought...

Monday, September 24, 2007

I'll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places...

First off let me say- I am not a big fan of "chick flicks". While I do watch them from time to time, I'd definitely prefer a good comedy or sci-fi flick.

However, last night I found myself watching the chick flick to end all chick flicks- "The Notebook".

I thought I could just blow it off, that it would be a nice way to end my weekend stay in Springfield and it would give Marko Polo some time to get some homework done...Nope.

Before I knew it I was sobbing uncontrollably and slow dancing with Mark as the credits rolled.
Damn you "The Notebook". Damn you.

I don't know what it was- my subconscious fear of getting old and senile, the beautiful tragedy that was the love story...who knows? The movie wasn't even that good!

What I do know, and what is good is the beautiful non-so-tragic love story that is my life. It's so wonderful to love without compromises and be loved in return for who I am (even if who I am means sobbing at a silly chick flick). Finally...Love- to be understood, supported and feel renewed.

For the burden of life
is love,

but we carry the weight
and so must rest
in the arms of love
at last,
must rest in the arms
of love. -ginsberg

In other news-

Maitreya has come to Pier 1! Well Budai technically, but who really knows the difference anyway? ;-) While I'm still sad that I sold my favorite Amitabha the other day, it's nice to have a smiling face around the store.

Life is good. Very good.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


To the nice guy in my Religious Perspectives on War and Peace Class-

Thank you for always nodding your head in agreement with whatever anyone says, even when they're rambling a little. You always manage to make me feel like I'm not a complete idiot, even on those days when I'm Moses without Aaron. Thank you also for reminding me that we should support each other in class and actually listen instead of just waiting for our turn to talk.

That Girl Who Asked You What Gauge Your Ears Are

To Gmail-

Stop reading my emails. Your personalized ad thing at the top of my inbox is starting to make me mad. I do not need a fake doctor's note as I really was sick yesterday, and just because I have swollen lymph nodes it does not mean I have lymphoma.

Sick Girl

I just handed in the first paper of my graduate school career this morning. Ironically enough I'm ambivalent about my work on "The Ambivalence of the Sacred". I'm just glad to have it done and to be jetting off to Springfield for the weekend. Life is good.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I Don't Believe in Peter Pan
Frankenstein or Superman
All I Wanna Do Is...

My early birthday present from my parents this year was a bicycle.
I was really excited about going for rides and being able to get to class much easier...that was until about 11:15 today.

The Mindtaker was kind enough to accompany me on my inaugural ride, thankfully, because not too long into my ride I thought the bottom half of my body was going to forcibly remove itself from me. Okay perhaps I'm being a bit over-dramatic (Me? Never!), but I hadn't been on a bike in forever and it really REALLY hurt. I wanted to quit. We weren't even on campus yet and I wanted to give up and walk the damn thing home.

Gabriel was patient with me, (I'll admit I was acting like a five year old) and reminded me that it would get easier, that I should put the bike in a lower gear, and that I could do it. He didn't agree when I made disparaging comments about how I looked like a "dipwad" pedaling in such a low gear, and even humored my attempt at feigning bike knowledge when I told him he needed to raise his seat. We managed to make it all the way to the religious studies building and back...even surviving the descent down a steep hill directly south of my apartment complex. No time. :-) Thanks Gabe, I couldn't have done it without you.

Supposedly you never forget how to ride a bike. I call bullshit on that one. I needed time to re-learn, to gain balance, to use muscles long forgotten.

I think my spiritual life is looking more and more the same way. It's been so long since I've legitimately practiced, actually put devotion and intention into it, that I'm scared. I try a little, here and there, but 5 minutes into it I'm about ready to give up...and I do.

I'm realizing more and more that spirituality is hard to foster (at least for me) by yourself. I need someone who can show me compassion and patience when I'm acting like a five year old. Someone who will encourage me and explore with me and not let me give up.

I used to think that everyone who followed some sort of organized religion were sheep. (Cynicism and skepticism are my vices.) But more and more it'd be nice to find someone who has a vague idea of what's going on, advice on how to get where I want to go and insights to share.

I just don't know that church is where I want to be. Even where I need to be.
Isn't there a lower gear for this whole spirituality thing?

Friday, September 14, 2007

It's All In Your Head...

I spent some time yesterday thinking about suffering.

I'll admit it, I'm a little old lady- I occasionally struggle with sciatica and it was especially bad yesterday on my walk home from class. I felt a little bit like Igor dragging my foot behind me.
I know, I'm being over-dramatic...but you get the point.

But it got me thinking- what is suffering really?

We toss that word around sometimes without thinking. Suffering, for me, is nothing compared to the suffering of someone in say a conflict-ridden area of Africa.

But is there a hierarchy of suffering? Is my pain any less valid because of what I was born into?

Is the mental suffering many of us Americans struggle with less valid than the physical suffering of those in third-world countries?

I want to alleviate suffering. To devote my life to bringing peace to those around me.
Africa might be a bit hard for me to help all by myself at this point in my life.
So I'll start with an ice pack and my good friends and work from there.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Side-Tracking 101

I learned how to do it in high school.

I perfected it during undergrad.

Now, I'm unintentionally doing it in my graduate classes.

Don't ask me how we did it, but somehow in REL 601: "Approaches to the Study of Religion" tonight I found an opportunity to drop the fact that a friend of mine from high school is now an adult film star and we wound up explaining to our prof. about "Furries". know, "Furries".

Durkheim would have been proud?

Seriously though, this conversation started because we were discussing Emile Durkheim's definition of religion-

"A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, i.e. things set apart & forbidden-- beliefs and practices which unite in one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them."

For Durkheim, religion is an expression of social cohesion. Its rituals serve as a reaffirmation of the society for its members. But, and this was our question for Durkheim, where do you draw the line?

The comment I made which got us side-tracked had to do with the internet and the cyber-communities we create. How do sites like Facebook, Myspace and even Second Life (where your avatar can attend mass and other religious services) affect our society and thereby our religious practices?

Facebook and blogs create arbitrary communities. We can choose to join, to participate and then just leave with no consequences. We create relationships with people we hardly know, keep up relationships with barely any effort and extend our social network further than someone like Durkheim in the early days of sociology would have imagined possible. It's so fascinating!

Long story of how we got to Furries short- If a group fits the requirements for a religion, can it be called a religion? Fetish groups and other online communities seem to fit Durkheim's 4 major functions of religion-
  1. Disciplinary, forcing or administrating discipline
  2. Cohesive, bringing people together, a strong bond
  3. Vitalizing, to make more lively or vigorous, vitalise, boost spirit
  4. Euphoric, a good feeling, happiness, confidence, well-being
But perhaps we're really just replacing the real deal with easier, less demanding substitutes.

So here are my questions for you, fearless readers-
What's your new religion?
And how do you feel about online communities? Are they a positive experience? Or are they even a real society?


Monday, September 10, 2007

Nice Marmot

I blame my recent atrocious streak of solipsism for my current fit of pique.

Tonight's disconcerting realization at Panera- I might actually be a nihilist.

"We believe in nothing Lebowski!"

So in an attempt to save myself from epistemological peril and to thwart off a second existential crisis, I'm embarking on a odyssey with Esther Lightcap Meek and her book "Longing to Know". It should make for some enthralling posts. Perhaps she shall be my personal thaumaturge.

This ambivalence is are these $10 words. Ha!

Second thought for the evening: I'm better at listening than I am at sharing. I'm better at writing my thoughts and feelings than I am at speaking them. I could email you, but I've never wanted to be THAT girl. Oh but wait. I am.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Long Time, No Post

(Photo Credit: Marko Polo)

So apparently I made my Labor Day weekend last a week. Eh. I needed it.

My weekend spent with Mark and his family was great, especially in retrospect after having spent this weekend hanging out at the Pier...1 that is.

Last night at work was pretty awesome. I was the closing manager and the other associate on duty had never worked a real shift before. I became the goddess of my Pier 1 universe- selling things over the phone, training the new associate and keeping my customers happy. What an awesome experience! I was on top of my game and loving it. These are the nights I live for.

But the comfort and enthusiasm were short lived. Having left my little Pier 1 bubble where I "freakin' rule", I hit a wall when I came home and the panic quickly set in.

My life feels bigger than I can handle. There are only so many situations I'll face in my time at Pier 1 and I've been trained to know the answers.

Life, on the other hand, doesn't really come with that sort of training.
I have several important decisions to make in the next couple of years, and right now it's rather daunting.

So I'll take a deep breath, and take it 10 minutes at a time.

First decision to make (and trust me, this won't be easy) is what I should do my MA "area of competency" in...eeeek!

Religion in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean
Religion in Asia
Religion in the Middle East and North Africa
Religion in Europe
Religion in the USA
Religious Ethics
Jewish Studies
Islamic Studies
Theories and Methods of Studying Religion

The possibilities seem endless. I'm leaning toward Religion in the USA or Asia but really I want put my emphasis in gender studies... Now if only I can figure out a way to roll all 3 of those into one. :-D

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

My Long Weekend...

I am single-handedly contributing to the hole in the ozone layer.
If only I didn't look so cute riding in Mark's hearse!

This was my weekend-

"You make a good team"
Japanese Stroll Gardens
Bid Day=Nasty
Kassie's Couch
Gailey's Gals
Ear Stretching
The Mall
Tofu Casserole
Kassie's Couch
Ham Loaf
Convertible Hair
Mississippi River
Shower Reassurance
1 Year Anniversary 8 Months Early
Blissful sleep
Love is all you need

Life is good. So good!