Unpredictable Grief, Hopelessly Whitebread, and Only by the Grace of God

It’s probably a sad commentary on my current mental state that I really miss my dogs today. I’m ashamed to admit it but my heart aches so much more for these guys than for my late husband (hard to say, and sad- but true.)

It’s been almost three years since Jerry died and mostly when I think of him I guilt trip because I really don’t feel sad about it. It’s like I should…but I don’t. It feels like when Mom dragged us to Confession and I knew I should confess all the unforgiveness I held on to for all the shit my sisters and their friends did to me, but I just didn’t feel the remorse. I was going through the motions because I knew I was supposed to.

This condition of knowing- you- should- feel- bad- but- you- really- don’t caused me a lot of theological cognitive dissonance, (i.e. Catholic guilt…) until I realized that it is God who grants the gift of repentance, and it is God alone in Christ who forgives my sins. This is fantastic news, because in and of myself I just can’t do it. I can’t force myself to regret or feel sorry or to forgive. Back to Lutheran theology and Christ Alone. I get the sufficiency of Christ alone, if only because I am so pathetically weak and emotionally and spiritually impaired. Luther’s explanation of the Third Article of the Creed states it pretty clearly:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. – Martin Luther

Most of humanity, quite honestly I can do without, which may not be right, but I freely admit it. Clara and Lilo, I miss them both, and painfully at times. Even though they were dogs. I love the dogs I have now (Brutus and Lucy) and I am incredibly thankful for them, but there are days. Clara, especially, was my heart.

Emotions are just so damned complicated. Then again no dog ever did anything to hurt me, and I can’t say that about any relationship I have ever had with other humans. Especially Jerry or my sisters, because, well because. The wounds are deep and the scars profound. Can I forgive anyone by my own choice? I can only forgive by the grace and intervention of God, and it’s a long, hard process. The old Adam fights that one with a pernicious tenacity.

jesus forgives.jpg

I know part of the human condition is that no one gets out of life alive, but knowing my vulnerabilities and blind spots it is almost impossible for me to be open with anyone because I don’t know what weapon they are going to use against me. I don’t read people well at all. I’m fine with keeping everything on a superficial level but the deep dark secrets? I don’t mind letting others confide in me, but the converse is most certainly not true. I don’t want to rely on anyone because people use me and let me down.

I can’t say I understand what “normal” people think or feel. I’ve never been “normal” or anything close to it. All I know about “normal” is what I can see and script for navigational purposes. I put up a good front, but that’s exactly what it is, a front- a stressful and draining, but necessary, front.

june-cleaver (1)

I don’t think I would have done well with the 1950s housewife gig.

I can only see where I have been and I can only navigate through the mechanics of my own wiring, which has got to be skewed. I am sure that a psychologist would have a field day with me at this point in my life. It’s been over 15 years since I’ve seen a counselor (that probably would be a good idea, but I don’t have the scratch to afford it, nor can I take time off work.) There’s been a ton of crazy shit that has gone down in my life since then.

Oh, yes, crazy shit. Living with an alcoholic and the insanity and crazy-making that goes with that for 20+ years does wear one thin. Then he gets a terminal disease on top of that…which makes him even meaner and more irrational, even though at first he does try to do the right things to a degree. Add having to watch your best friend die, then having to dig her grave, (and I am referring to Clara, who was a dog, so don’t get any macabre ideas) then having to move in a fire sale, desperate sort of way, all while my terminally ill, alcoholic husband is screaming and raging as much against me as he is his inevitable death.

It’s hard to write that. Maybe the delayed reaction is kicking in after all. PTSD – the gift that keeps on giving. We can add in all the other right psychological terms too- learned helplessness, chronic anxiety, and our miserable old companion major depression, who is always camping out on the door mat waiting for the slightest opportunity to slip in the door and come in to stay for a good long time. It doesn’t help that anxiety and depression go hand and hand with autism, and there is mental illness galore in my family history. I even took one of those genetic screening tests for shits and grins (as if I didn’t already know my ethnic ancestry…oh yeah, living advertisement for the Most Whitest Anglo Saxon Ever…)

genetics (2)

The ethnic info was no surprise. It also showed I carry specific genes that increase one’s chances of being bi-polar, and of suffering from major depression and schizophrenia. That explains Mom’s family…and her to an extent, which is scary as hell because there are days when I seriously doubt my mental stability.

Sometimes I want to scream, cry, sleep, run or stage a twisted combination of all of the preceding. I’m afraid to even mention some of the good things happening in my life (and there are a few, and I thank God for everything with everything I can) because I’m not convinced it’s really real…and I’m afraid I’ll jinx it if it is.

There is something deeply sweet and undeserved about being able to be safe and loved in one’s home, and that is both majestic and terrifying because I have never been in such a place before.

There’s still a LOT of pain- emotional, spiritual and always, physical, and I don’t know where that’s going to go. I think it wants to translate into fear. I don’t want to give in to fear. The panic attacks are thankfully getting less frequent and less severe but they still happen. As for the arthritis flares, medication usually keeps it down to a dull roar, but when the fire is on, it’s on, and not much will touch it.

I spend a lot of time in sacred music and Bible reading these days even though I know that forgiveness and healing are not things I can do- but what God does for me.

Kyrie Eleison…

Men in …Dresses?, and Other Bad 1970s Clothing, Nasty Things in Jell-O, and Lingerie Musings

 

kaftans-386x699What self-respecting non-terrorist dude would wear these nighties? These outfits call for an immediate forfeiture of one’s Man Card, and/or enlistment in ISIS.

bad-mens-fashions-70s-seventies-clothes-funny-007

Maybe this explains rappers? Maybe the lace-up pants with the waistline at the titty nipples explain the sagger trend of the 90s and beyond?  Never again will we have BATHROOM SITUATIONS!  You know, the bathroom situations that ensue when nature calls and one cannot drop one’s pants quickly enough to direct the shit shower cleanly into the toilet bowl.  The opposite problem is equally disturbing though.  I don’t want a grown man shitting himself because he can’t untie his pants fast enough, but I also don’t want to see a grown man’s hairy crack because his waistband is under his ass cheeks.

I must say platform shoes for men are actually not a bad idea, at least for short men.  Dad’s only 5’6″ and he used to have some platform shoes, back in maybe 1976, until the dog decided her happy ass needed something to chew on. Then again, that dog was an inbred ankle biter who lived to be 16 (though blind and toothless and probably quite senile at the end.) Sad to say no one knows of her exact demise except that Dad let her out one night and she never came back.  If I know the redneck nation here in Marion, I would assume someone was driving around drunk and or stoned and hit the poor old thing as she wandered around in the middle of the road and didn’t know it.  She was probably all of about fifteen pounds and had the IQ of paint.  I love dogs, but this one was not the sharpest tool in the shed.

As far as the shoes, though their life was short, they did help keep him from getting Jackie smacked – like Benny Hill would smack poor Jackie- all the time.

jackie benny hill

Man, I loved Benny Hill.  I love British humor (or should I spell it humour) precisely because of the innuendo and double entendre.  I guess I can be easily entertained.

gross jello salad

1950s food was surprisingly dismal, at least from some of the pictures and recipes I’ve found.  I think I understand why people back in the day were so bloody thin.  Putting nasty things like celery (gag) and olives stuffed with pimentos that look like demented eyeballs (barf) and what looks to be squares of cheddar cheese (? good on their own, but not in this context) in lime Jell-O and then garnishing it with tomato wedges (the only thing that looks remotely edible here) and wilty lettuce is just plain gross. I would lose a lot of weight if this were the only thing I were permitted to eat.  I could probably even wear one of those June Cleaver dresses that also requires wearing a long line bra and girdle- and still be able to breathe- if I could only eat nasty stuff like this.

fifties girdlesI think I’d almost rather die than be corseted like this, even though it does make dresses look a hell of a lot better.  My grandmother used to be a lingerie buyer for a swanky department store.  She sold this stuff.  Wore this stuff.  Fitted people for this stuff.  I have worn this stuff only on special occasions and it’s hard to ward off both hypoxia and heat stroke wearing this stuff.  It’s hot and you can’t breathe worth a damn, let alone move. And the likelihood of having BATHROOM SITUATIONS is just as bad as with the lace-up pants, or with Levi’s 501s, which have button flies.  Yay.  Not to mention it’s hell on my nails.

At my age I need to be able to get to the crapper and drop my drawers with a minimum of pomp and circumstance.

 

Things That Might Be Right With the World, Absolute Truth, and the Arrogance of Supposition

philosoraptor-alternate-realities

I listened to an interesting theological / philosophical discussion today regarding pre-modernism, modernism, and post-modernism this morning.  Post-modern thinking explains much of the downright irrational insanity rampant in society today. I can’t find myself signing on to the post-modern paradigm even though most of the rest of the world already has.  This must be where the media gets the insanity that there are seventy-nine different genders, and that some men get periods.  (I might argue the PMS theory, but if I did, I would have to posit that men have PMS all month long.  Men are actually more emotional and less adaptive to change than women, at least in my experience, although I really don’t want to get into that debate.)

drag queen

There is such a thing as absolute truth.  As my illustrious offspring (who is even more of a rational, practical type than I) will tell you, nobody gets away with breaking the law of gravity, and if you think you’re the exception, you’re going to have a bad time.

I do understand the value of asking questions and of questioning authority- especially today.  I have a lot of doubts regarding the “voices of authority,” especially in the media and in science, and I think my trepidation is warranted.  Being the cynic that I normally am, it’s logical for me to question things that fail to make sense.  It probably doesn’t help that I am very much a literal thinker.  I tend to see things in black and white.  I know the gray areas are there, but I’m not much for living in them.

When I see hoof prints on a farm, I’m going to act on the supposition that the resident equines are horses rather than zebras.

horse

This being said, I am not against change simply because it’s something new to learn.  I am against change that is enacted simply for the novelty of it, or change to avoid offending “special snowflake” sensitivities.

I say again, there is absolute truth. Three does not equal five no matter what kind of argument is put forth. Absolutes don’t change no matter how badly we wish they would. There are boundaries that cannot be crossed, and laws (like the law of gravity) that cannot be broken.  There are near infinite kinds of idolatry conceived in mankind’s denial of truth and rebellion against it.  In the wake of the Fall it seems all we can do is set up substitute systems that are destined to fail because they are built on lies and human hubris.

Of the three philosophic worldviews (pre-modernism, modernism and post-modernism) I would have to categorize myself as subscribing to modernity (the post-modern deconstruction of truth and complete dearth of certainty is an utterly distasteful concept to me) for most of my life.  I wanted to believe in the god of Science.  I wanted to latch on to the Brave New World.  For seven years of my life I tried to say to myself, There Is No God.  By the grace of God, He smacked me down and made me realize that it’s not my world, it’s His.  I am not the creator, I am not the captain of my soul, and I am not in control. Here are more corollaries of absolute truth, courtesy of the pre-modern world- or more accurately, courtesy of the Creator, who does not have to honor man-made constructs.

Cross

The pendulum of popular opinion will reach its shift point eventually.  As was demonstrated in the farce that was the Obama administration (no matter how rosy a picture the media tried to paint) the reality was the Emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes.  There was no substance to that regime and no purpose to it except maybe as a warning against eliminating standards and ignoring national borders. The post-modern theory that there is no reality and there are no absolutes is just as nonsensical and illogical as a grown man thinking he is adorned in finery when he’s naked as a jay bird.

fail

I wonder what’s going to happen when boys who think they’re girls (and vice versa) realize that the reality of biology is an absolute.

I wonder if the Western world will realize (in time) that toxic ideologies do exist, and that Islam is not a “religion of peace,” but in reality it is a form of fascism more extreme than Nazism hiding behind a false religion.

I wonder if future generations might discover the reality of Absolute Truth and forgo the social experiments.

 

Deliver Me from the Kia of Death, Making Sarcasm Out of Pretty Much Everything…

2003 Kia OptimaI could only wish that the unfortunate 2003 Kia across the street were in this good of condition.  Someone recently decided to use its roof as a trampoline, and in the process broke out the back glass – which can’t be replaced because the roof rail is bent- so the back glass consists of that plastic people use in the winter if they don’t have storm windows, and duct tape.  Lots of duct tape.  I feel sorry for her for having to drive it.  The only cure for this thing is C4. Then again, when I see the volume of Natty cans in the yard and around their fire pit on Saturday and Sunday mornings, I understand.  All. Too. Well. She’s living la vida drunksitter.  Both her husband and her father-in-law make Jerry look like an amateur at drunk-n-stupid random destruction. Jerry destroyed stuff, yes, but even in his drunken stupidity, deep in that primal, reptilian part of his brain, he knew that trashing my car was a Really Bad Idea.  Apparently this tipsy redneck has discovered, the hard way, that if you want to go car surfing, you need something with a sturdier roof than an aged Kia Optima.  I hope she kicked his ass. She is twice his size.

put_up_the_pool_januaryThis is the same guy who put up the pool on January 5.  FYI: Central Ohio’s average January high temperature is 23°. Yes. Fahrenheit.  Then again this is the same rocket scientist, in the same pool,  who passed out on a floatie in the middle of the pool , surrounded by empty Natty cans, in the heat of the day, on a 90° (also Fahrenheit) day in the middle of July for a few hours. When all was said and done,  he was just about this RED.

I know when the Kia of death starts up.  It does actually start and run consistently which must be considered a plus if it’s the only thing one has to drive. It gets fired up at 5:55 AM every morning, just as I am about to get the Corolla out of the garage and get on my way.  It has a cracked exhaust manifold (and yes, I have been around things automotive long enough to know that sound) and makes about as much noise as something with a four cylinder engine possibly can. It could wake the dead.  It’s even louder than the old man’s Harley, and that’s saying a lot considering he can usually be spotted sporting t-shirts that have such pithy sayings as, “Loud Pipes Save Lives,” or “Gas, Grass or Ass, No One Rides for Free.”

I really don’t mind my redneck neighbors too much as long as they leave me alone and don’t repeat the shower of bottle rockets on my roof when the 4th of July rolls around. I don’t care if you burn down your house- after all, arson is sort of a tradition on the west side- but don’t burn mine down.  I do have homeowner’s insurance (and it’s not cheap, because of all you firebugs out there) but I don’t want to have to use it.  I hate moving and I have sworn not to do it again, Lord willing.

I don’t find much humor in the drunk and stupid episodes even though I am not the one living that nightmare anymore.  I might have a twinge of schadenfreude when I see the poor woman across the street dragging her man in off the front lawn when he’s passed out, but it’s more like a thankfulness that this time it’s not me cleaning up the mess and doing the dragging.

We are fast approaching Sun’s Out Guns Out season.  This means large, pasty white people are going to be wandering about outside in scandalous states of un- and ill- dress.

walmartShe has some nice tats. I have tats too, so I shouldn’t talk. Just no names, and no poorly drawn Pitbulls…

 

 

Part of Ancient History, Under the Radar (which is where I like to be…)

68toyotacoronacoupeThe above pictured Corona is older than me.  Not by much, because this is a 1968 Corona.  Unlike me, when this car was new it had 90 BHP and would (theoretically) do 90 MPH. Maybe it would with the standard “four on the floor.”  I can assure you no conventional automatic transmission paired with a 90 BHP engine will do that unless one is traveling downhill with a hefty tail wind.  If only Toyota had discovered the wonderful benefits of treating their body panels with rust preventative processes before 1988, there might still be some of these around here in Ohio. The drivetrains on these old beasts would last forever.  Sad thing is, today when one says “Corona,” it is usually in reference to an overrated Mexican beer.  Then again, I am biased because I simply don’t care for any kind of beer.  It all tastes like ear wax smells.

corona beerYuk.

In some respects there isn’t a whole lot lingering around that is older than me, at least things that haven’t been demolished, renovated or added onto.  That’s difficult for me in terms of appreciating architecture because I am very much a purist and I hate to see modern junk tacked onto beautiful old façades, windows bricked over, or lovely varnished woodwork painted over.

I understand today that nobody cares about the aesthetic in architecture- function is all that matters, even though that has led to the proliferation of churches that look like pole barns and houses that look like cardboard boxes. The schools that were torn down in the 1990s were replaced by prefabbed monstrosities that are reminiscent of prisons. It is wrong to warehouse children in such bleak surroundings devoid of light and beauty, but in a way it’s “right,” if you think about what’s going on behind those walls.

Today’s schools are little more than holding cells to help prevent the kiddies from shoplifting, battery and assault during the daytime hours.  Their minds are being filled with feel-good garbage while their parents are out scoring drugs and creating more children they can’t support and refuse to educate.  There is a sad irony in this only in that today’s educational system is all about political and social indoctrination and not about critical thinking or aspiring to something beyond one’s self, but I digress.  The dumbing down of public education was just beginning when I was in elementary school. I dare say that the quality of public education will not improve until every person who cares about his or her offspring’s education refuses to enroll them in the public schools.

I can appreciate the beauty of a Gothic cathedral, though I admit I seldom have time to seek out a time for prayer and solace in one.

canterbury-cathedral.jpgIf I ever make my way to England, I will have to check out the Canterbury Cathedral.

I know it’s dangerous to wax nostalgic, especially because not everything was better in the “good old days,” but there are some things from 50 years ago (not necessarily the old Corona pictured above) that might have been worth keeping around.

Penny candy is a good example.  Especially those wax cola bottles with the mystery liquid inside.  Or candy cigarettes.  Political correctness be damned.

penny candy

Then again, the fact that candy is significantly more expensive keeps me from being tempted to indulge in it.

Of course, music.  My playlists pretty much end by 1985. There are a few notable exceptions, but for the most part, there is not much beyond Steve Perry.

steve-perry

I like remaining under the radar on my birthday.  It’s kind of fun to just observe the day quietly.  Every day that Obama is NOT president is a good day. Sort of like it’s a good day when I’m remaining vertical and still sucking up valuable oxygen.  Been doing that (more or less) for 50 years straight now.

In some ways it’s hard to come to terms with being 50 years old.  There are days in which I feel like a piece of ancient history, and others when it doesn’t seem that long.

I’m old enough to know that there is no such thing as permanence- at least not in this lifetime.  Entropy is alive and well in this world.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

Calling Evil “Good” and Vice Versa, the Ongoing Toxic Legacy of the “Great” Society

 

lyndon johnsonLyndon Johnson has a legacy.  Of course “progressivism” (read: liberalism, socialism, Marxism, Hegelianism) didn’t start with him.  It didn’t even start in the United States with him.  Woodrow Wilson (under whom the federal income tax was established) was the first true progressive (read: liberal Democrat) president in US history.  FDR is probably the most well known of the liberal Democrat presidents, under whose watch much of the current nanny state was established.

Johnson’s term was a tipping point in that the already pervasive nanny state collided with the civil rights movement (which began, like women’s suffrage, as a noble cause) and the decay of traditional morality and ethics in society. 1968’s “war on poverty” continues on, but poverty marches on as if there had never been any sort of meaningful battle waged against it.  If one follows the trillions of dollars extorted from American taxpayers, one will find that precious little of it, save for in the Gucci purse of the occasional welfare queen who has learned how to put the screws to Uncle Sam, has ever found its way to the poor. There are, however, many suspiciously wealthy career politicians. They are suspiciously prominent on the blue side of the aisle…

marx and bernie

Today in 2019, civil rights have morphed into an irrational, untamed and ravenous monster.  Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King have given way to such fools as Rashida Tlaib

.rashida

In the name of civil rights there are endless taxpayer sponsored entitlements for everyone under the sun, especially for illegal immigrants and pet minority groups- but nothing but a big middle finger for those who are legal citizens who work and pay taxes.

In the name of civil rights there is discrimination- but only for those of northern European descent.

In the name of civil rights what was for thousands of years considered to be perversion and debauchery is celebrated and given legal preference over heterosexual marriage and family.

In the name of civil rights wicked people “celebrate their abortions” and encourage and promote abortion on demand.  Let’s call “abortion” what it is, murdering a human being-in spite of scientific proof that human life begins at conception.  Never mind that “a woman’s right to choose” begins with the word NO, unless she is willing to accept the potential consequences of her sexual behavior.

The definition of civil rights has transformed from the essential right of a human being to be regarded as equal to other human beings to that pithy dictum from Orwell’s Animal Farm: “Some pigs are more equal than others.”

We shouldn’t be surprised by what’s happening.  Even the framers’ best attempts to keep our government honest and balanced haven’t been entirely effective, and they won’t be, because there is no such thing as a 100% honest person. I am not a Calvinist, but I agree, John Calvin was completely correct in his assessment of the total depravity of man.  The current corruption and debauchery of those in American government at all levels are living proof that Calvin was right on that point. (I would argue with him on limited atonement and irresistible grace, but I am a Lutheran and that is a whole different issue.)

We have been warned.  I will give a brief disclaimer before I get into what I’m going to say.  I am a Christian.  I am a confessional (meaning I accept the teachings of the Book of Concord, i.e. the Lutheran Confessions, as being a true witness to the veracity of Scripture) Lutheran Christian which is not a popular form of Christianity here in the US.  Confessional Lutherans do not adhere to the “Left Behind” style of eschatology(eschatology is the study of end times) that is popular in apocalyptic action movies.   Rather, I hold to the confessional Lutheran stance of sola scriptura, which means: Scripture alone.  My eschatology (amillennialism)is derived from what the Holy Scriptures have to say about the days leading up to the return of the Lord and the end of days.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)

I am not going to presume to set dates for the end of the world.  I think it’s funny when people try.  Jesus told us pretty much what we need to know about the end of the world in Matthew 24:36-51.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Know Who You Are, and the Past Should Stay There

chewrestraints

Every now and then I entertain myself with a game of “what if,” even if that game simply reinforces the feeling and the thought that I have spent the last year walking away (relatively unscathed) from a 20+ year long train wreck.

Perhaps I have some “survivor’s guilt” and maybe a panic attack now and then, but even a necessary amputation is going to leave a scar.

I wondered if the 1 year anniversary of Jerry’s death would be traumatic.  Not so much. I spent a rather lovely day with family, and the date didn’t cross my mind until someone brought it up.

I do wonder if my experience of grief (or the lack thereof) is cold and heartless- because I don’t really miss him. He had managed to kill any affection I had for him long before he died. Between the alcoholic rages, browbeating, name calling and other indignities, I had gotten beyond angry and went straight to numb. I can’t say I have felt much of anything except maybe relief.

It used to be common wisdom (though we know better now) that children were born as tabula rasa, or with a clean slate- no experience, no biases, no predispositions.  In some ways I feel sort of like that, as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but then I feel as if I should have some kind of sadness.  Maybe I do feel a bit melancholy for years wasted or opportunities lost, but not what I would really call regret or even mourning.

I don’t think I am a heartless bitch.  Maybe numbness is a lot better than unforgiveness or just plain rage.