We Need to Talk About Jesus

Last week I shared a link on 'The Facebook,' 5 reasons to suspect that Jesus never existed. I thought it was interesting and added another reason: "Reason #6, a virgin mommy. Because, as everyone knows, good women don't sully themselves with sex, not even to give birth to the son of gawd."

I'm no theologian - I just thought it made points that might poke some holes in the whole Hayseuss theory. I like to do that. Poking is healthy.

Well, I often forget that I'm connected to a handful of people who are devout followers. One of them got pretty upset with me. The exact comment was, "Why would you say this? Do you know how many Christians there are in this world? If you don't believe in God, don't put doubt in peoples minds."

Yes, god forbid we should say anything that might offend all the Christians in the world. Jesus christ, what was I thinking?

The part that intrigued me was the line about doubt. Is Christianity that shaky of a sand castle that any possible doubt might bring the whole thing crashing down into a useless pile of dirt? That if followers start looking too closely, they might find out they're blindly buying into a big steaming pile of crap?

Full disclosure, I'm really anti-religion, in case that wasn't clear. I think it's ridiculous and have since I was very young. (Although, I think Judaism and Buddhism are cool in many ways.) Higher powers are fine by me - I have a few of my own. It's when people try to shove their higher power down my throat is when I start to shove back.

After seeing those thoughtful comments, I was blessed by another relative who graced my page with a video by a young man with trendy facial hair telling YouTubers that Hayseuss is lord or some such - I couldn't watch the whole thing. Not because it was utter bullshit, but because I was at the Subaru dealership getting my car serviced and I didn't need any divine help - I have an extended warranty.

But it really irritated me. Those who feel compelled to "spread the gospel" have no idea how offensive it is to those who don't need "saving" nor want to be "saved" or converted, or in any way dragged into that bullshit. Go spread that shit on some toast. What's worse, there's no reasoning with them. There's nothing you can say that will ever convince them you're not interested and never will be. It's like trying to reason with a toddler. A toddler with a superiority complex.

Because here's the thing, if your religion is one that requires you to recruit others, it's a cult. Or Amway. If your religion isn't strong enough on its own merits to let people discover it on their own and join up, then it really must be some hollow shit that depends on hive brain cult mentality to keep it going.

Lordy, it is hard to understand the arrogance and inconsideration these god-fearing people have to think they are in any way qualified to tell others how to live their lives (like Republicans!). How can they not realize how obnoxious it is to be so disrespectful of others, and how it works against their cause? Although it must work on those with terribly low self-esteem or those hopelessly lost in life and can't figure out how else to get by, which are exactly the lambs cults look for.

It makes me sad that a few people close to me have gone down this road and I'm pretty sure they're never coming back. I'd be happy for them if they seemed happy with Jebus in their lives, but they mostly seem hellbent on converting others, which just seems like they desperately need others to believe what they believe in order to feel good about believing it.

If it's such a blessed thing to believe, your joy should be the only selling point you'd ever need, but I don't see joy. I see desperation and righteous hypocrisy. I don't see these people living "christian" lives, they're doing the same shit they've always done, but now that they "believe," they're going to be saved? What the fuck sort of sense does that make? As much sense as trying to discuss this on Facebook.

Oddly, the very next day after this kerfuffle, some J-Dub peddlers showed up on the front porch with their Watchtower pamphlets. As a friend said, it would seem my god has a sense of humor and I think she's right. It's probably the best sign I've ever gotten that there might be a god. He/she seemed fine with me shooing those nice folks off my porch so I could get back to sinning.

Imagined Futures for Popular 80s Movies Characters

Ren & Ariel go off to Columbia together. After freshman year, Ariel starts dating women while Ren takes a vow of celebacy and gets deep into philosophy classes. After graduation, they get back together and move to Tribeca with Ariel's on/off girlfriend. Ariel becomes a successful writer and Ren runs a bar in the neighborhood. They don't go to reunions.

Sixteen Candles
Sam & Jake break up at the end of the summer. Turns out Jake prefers boys. After high school, Sam starts a successful wedding planning business and moves to the city. She attends the 10-year reunion and reunites with Farmer Ted. Farmer Ted became an actual organic foods farmer and is loving the organic foods craze. They have coffee the next day and fall madly in love. They get married in the same church where her sister got married, then Sam moves to Ted's farm and they raise five children.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Ferris gets into Yale then eventually flunks out, moves to New York and gets into advertising. Sloane joins a summer stock company then moves to New York to try her luck on Broadway. She and Ferris get married and three months later realize they have nothing in common except Cameron. Cameron becomes an investor in an automobile restoration company and dabbles in real estate. He and Sloane stayed in touch and she ends up moving back to Chicago to live with him and become a real estate agent. Jeanie and Boy in Police Station become pen pals and as soon as he's on parole, start a torrid love affair that lasts 50 years.

Dirty Dancing
Baby finishes high school and enrolls in Mount Holyoke College, but she can't stop thinking about Johnny. Johnny's become a talent agent managing performers up & down the East Coast. Baby manages to track him down while on Spring Break in Florida (she told her parents she would be at Peace Corps orientation meetings). They rekindle their romance and she drops out of school to study dance and help Johnny with his business. Looking for more meaning in life and growing tired of their nomadic lifestyle, Baby leaves Johnny to join a commune in upstate New York. She attends Woodstock, trips on acid and believes she must be adopted. She forms an interpretive dance company that tours the Catskill resorts.

Pretty in Pink
Andie and Blane go on one more date and Andie realizes he's a milquetoast and pulls the plug. She and Duckie hang out all summer, then Andie enrolls in City College to pursue fashion design and merchandising. Ducky becomes store manager at TRAX and collects bolo ties. Andie and Iona spend long hours working on design projects and eventually go into business together. Andie and Ducky still hang out, possibly in a romantic way.

Some Kind of Wonderful
Amanda said she needed time alone, but actually she returns to the security of a quasi-abusive co-dependent relationship with Hardy. They date date off & on for many years until Amanda has too much to drink one night and stumbles in front of a train on her way home. Watts becomes a drummer in a popular all-girls punk band and realizes she doesn't really have feeling for Keith when she begins dating the bassist. They move to San Francisco and become successful singer-songwriters.

It's the Hormones, Stupid!

Where do I start? I know, you don't care. You're not in my brain, mucking around in the bog that has become my thought swamp.

The Universe is being a tricky bitch again, with work, life, my lady parts.

I think I've officially started pre-menopause and let me tell you, it's pretty fucking annoying. The night sweats, sudden intolerance for even mildly warm days (after a life-long love of hot weather), erratic periods, heart palpitations, bitchiness, itchiness and brain fog. Some days I don't feel fully awake until 2 or 3 p.m.

Let me clarify - the itchiness isn't in my lady parts - it's occasional, random skin itchiness. The unsettled-ness within is radiating out to my skin. And now I have a nose hair that seems to be growing from up behind my cheekbone with the idea that it can reach my upper lip.

Not sure what sort of biological process excessively long nose hair serves. Is this a quick visual warning to potential mates that whatever eggs I have left are all a little long in the tooth and growing their own hair? That might explain the chin whiskers.

Even though my reproductive capabilities are winding down, they still kick me in the gut, somewhat literally. Lefty is still firing, using defective, putrid cysts for ye olde egg launches. The stupid thing bursts and pain radiates throughout my lower abdomen, hurting the most wherever the disgusting cyst fluid settles.

I don't mean a mildly uncomfortable Mittelschmerz that can feel like a cute little pinch. This is more like what being stabbed in the nads by a white hot poker might feel like. Or like walking around with shards of glass inside you. Peeing is great fun - feels OK at first, then come the sharp shooting pains as my bladder collapses back into the radioactive pool. The other night it was so bad I almost barfed. Now I know what that's like, so there's that.

While it's weird to be on the cusp of waving goodbye to Aunt Flo forever, I'm not going to miss this bullshit. Maybe she's just as flummoxed as I am about getting old and becoming irrelevant, but I'm not taking it out on her abdomen with a claw hammer. She really needs to chill out, pack her shit and go.

As I navigate my wondrous womanly adventure, David has embarked upon a Paleo path. This from a man whose main food groups were pizza, bread, bread, and pizza. He used to look upon anything green as alien and sinister. Now he puts spinach in not just his smoothies - yes, smoothies - he also eats it raw in salads. He used to pantomime puking if I ever suggested we have spinach.

He also got a FitBit.

He likes to randomly appear in my office, the kitchen or the hallway and tell me how many steps he's walked today and how much weight he's lost in the last five minutes. I'm overjoyed to hear it, having been Paleo-ish and much more active for several months while my weight holds fast at About The Same. This is what makes me go to Jim's and wolf down a Belgian waffle. My body is doing its own thing right now and I just have to relax and let it go.

Although, in the last few weeks, the Paleo approach does seem to be working (according to the scale & fat calipers this past weekend). It's amazing how easy it is. You eat natural foods in whatever quantity you want when you're hungry, move a little more every day, and that's it. No calorie counting, no measuring or portion policing, and no hour-long workouts every day (or any day). I still have a few grains now & then, but overall it couldn't be simpler. Maybe now I can replace my encyclopedic knowledge of macro nutrients and calories with something useful, like movie quotes.

Then there's the work fun. Both my computers crashed within a week and the laptop decided to restore itself to factory settings, which nuked all my documents, pictures, etc. and wasted an entire work day. Last week I shut it down to leave the office and didn't realize it was going to install Windows updates. 142 of them. This was after being blown off for an important meeting late in the day and I just wanted to get home. Two hours later, the 142nd update finished and I got home just after 9 p.m.

I guess the point is, there's little I can do about any of this. What's going on with my body, my electronic devices, my husband's life-changing diet, my nose hair. It's all about surrendering to the whims of the Universe and moving forward. That, and never again letting a computer make updates before it shuts down. (stupid! stupid! stupid!)

That's life. Life is like a giant litter box. You can scoop out the shit every day but the very next day, you'll have all new shit to scoop, so stay ready. And have a waffle now & then.

No Easy Answers

Isla Vista shooting, Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times
Part of a memorial at the I.V. Deli in Isla Vista, scene of part of the shooting rampage Friday night.

Like just about everyone else yesterday I watched the morning news out of Santa Barbara - another mass shooting by a "crazy lone gunman." A whack job got a gun and did the unthinkable. Again.

Then websites published his "manifesto." So I read it. Well, I skimmed it. Every page. Finally, one of these lunatics has left behind something that might explain why. If nothing else, he's provided an opportunity to try to understand how this happened, and maybe how prevent it from happening again.

What he left behind should be used to try to find a way to help other people who have dealt or are dealing with the same problems. It shouldn't be quickly dismissed as the ramblings of a psycho. It actually doesn't ramble at all - it's coherent and written fairly well.

This morning I'm seeing lots of headlines about his misogyny, that it was all about his hatred of women. That was part of it, and it eventually turned into a lot of that, but it goes deeper than that. This is my interpretation of what I skimmed.

He seemed to have had a fairly normal childhood for a kid from an educated, successful family. Then seemingly out of nowhere his parents divorce and his family foundation crumbles. His father quickly remarries and his new wife becomes the priority when at his father's house.

When he gets to middle school, as is often the case, shit goes sideways and his shyness, which was likely social anxiety disorder, undermines his ability to fit in and make friends. He's teased and bullied and finds escape in video games.

(Just the other day I read an article about the pain caused by being ignored - it's as severe as physical pain and may leave even longer lasting emotional damage. Whether you're ignored by your parents, family members or your classmates, over time, it can cause severe damage.)

At one point he started acting out at school to get some attention - any attention - even if it was only negative attention. Then he became known as the weird kid and was further ostracized. It sounds like he had no involvement with any sort of organized/team sports or clubs or any hobbies or interests outside of video games, occasional skateboarding and wishing for a social life.

His escape into video games is no substitute for social interaction. It also can't help when your parents keep moving and uprooting your life. Eventually his cherished room at his dad's house is given to his baby stepbrother and he's moved to another room on the bottom floor of the house.

When he hits puberty, it gets a hundred times worse. Without close friends or a solid support system, he gets more and more isolated in loneliness and the hopelessness of ever fitting in and being like everybody else - i.e. finding a girlfriend like all his other friends (and everyone else on the planet) seemed to be doing with ease.

It's hard to know how involved his parents were (or weren't) in his life. It sounds like he was pretty close to his mom and there were family trips, but he doesn't ever talk about day-to-day or weekly family routines with them, or things they always did together.

I got the sense that his father was largely absent and he was left alone to do his thing. He's allowed to quit activities when they get hard, and switch schools when he's bullied or creates his own problems he doesn't want to face. He was emotionally immature, in a big way.

He seemed devoid of any true self-esteem and self-worth, not realizing you have to build those things for yourself. They can't be bought or given to you, and it takes time to figure out who you really are and how you fit into this world. There was nothing of substance in there, in his core.

He never mentions ever being required to earn anything he ever had, whether the skateboards, designer clothes, games, computers or the BMW he used in his rampage.

He kept steadily losing touch with reality, blaming the world for his problems and thinking material things would make the cool kids accept him. Then there's the racism - whoa - where did he learn that? And the delusion, believing he's better than all the other guys, god-like, (even though he'd never done anything to earn that belief) and that he would win the lottery and with wealth all his problems would be solved. As he spirals further down, the one friend he's had since childhood cuts him off and then he's truly alone.

I don't think this kid was just mentally ill - although in the end he was completely mentally ill. He felt totally alone in the world and didn't know how to build his own person. The sense of entitlement he felt is common today. Lots of kids are growing up believing the world owes them something because they always got a trophy just for showing up.

Parents want to give their kids better lives, but in some cases, that seems to be backfiring. If a kid grows up without a whole lotta structure, or the "structure" is being shuttled back & forth between houses and the houses keep changing, and then he's not not expected to contribute in some way (daily/weekly chores), and then given almost whatever he asks for and doesn't have to earn it in any way, of course he isn't going to learn the satisfaction of doing anything on his own or for himself.

And leaving a kid to his own devices most of the time isn't providing freedom for him to find his way. Especially an emotionally stunted kid who has significant trouble integrating into his world. Not every kid is going to figure it out on his own and might benefit from being in some sort of consistent, ongoing structured activity where you're sort-of forced to interact and bond from "being in it together."

Of course this is just all my opinion and we all know about those. It's all so sad. The kids in Santa Barbara who died and the tragic downward spiral of someone who is just one of how many more struggling with the same problems. We know he wasn't the first and won't be the last.

A comprehensive psych evaluation as a requirement for buying a gun might have been helpful - if written in a way to expose the ideologies he'd developed over the years. His own parents tried to warn the police when the videos were posted a month before the killings, but the cops thought he seemed OK and they didn't check to see if he'd recently purchased any guns.

If his parents were so worried, why didn't they go get him and bring him home? Why didn't they dig deeper to try to find out what was really going on? Who else but his parents could have stepped in to try to help? Whose responsibility is it to get involved and try to help? Would it have even mattered by that point? Would it have been enough? Or would he have stayed on that path anyway?

How do we reach these kids when they're still kids and show them how to build their own lives and find the support they need to be healthy?

Workday Daycations

I've been living & working in San Francisco off & on for many years. I've lived in Park Merced, the Western Addition, Duboce Triangle and finally the Tendernob.

While living in my awesome Tendernob studio I worked at an awesome design agency in the Mission in the awesomest city there is. Life was pretty awesome.

Later on I moved out of the city and continued to work in the Mission, but it got a little less awesome with the commute, and then a lot more not awesome with the dot com crash. That's when I started freelancing and quickly became attached to sweatpants and naps during business hours.

I eventually went back to full-time work in the city to a job that was such a grind and its cavernous pit of misery so all-consuming, I don't remember enjoying being in the city. There was sobbing. Then migraines. And there was that time I threw up on BART.

Anyway, the point is, I could have tried to enjoy my surroundings a little more. Even if it's just a lunch hour, every day you can get a micro vacation if you want one. Back then I just wanted to stop sobbing. I have no idea where my coping skills were back then. I must have lost them at the Soup Company.

But now I'm back in the city part-time and every lunch hour I go out and walk around. Every day I go in a different direction and see what I find. Sometimes I just walk for the fun of walking - free exercise! Other times I have a goal in mind and go do it. I leave my phone in my pocket and look at everything. I often forget to make pictures, which is weird, but I'm just happy to be out & about.

I feel like it's my first time ever working in the city, but I know my way around. I love looking at the faces I pass and all the architecture. Most people are frowning or looking pinched, scowling down at their phones, shuffling around like I used to, too tired or burnt out to give a shit about where they are. I can relate.

I guess because I'm a bit older and wiser, and I'm a contractor, I'm not all wound up about the job and its issues. Now that I'm the writer and not the producer, the only thing I have to worry about is the words. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing.

I have had a couple of migraines since taking this gig - it's a major shock to the system to suddenly give up sweatpants and midday naps. But every day that I go into the city, I enjoy it as much as I can.

Today I found an awesome chair massage place - seriously awesome - and got a proper upper body massage to try to nix the headaches. This guy may have titanium fingers. Or maybe he's a cyborg with the best body work software ever developed. He found all the demons deep inside my cranky muscles and blew them up. I don't remember the last time I felt this good.

After that, I got a bottle of ridiculously overpriced cold-pressed juice and drank it while sitting in the sun, watching people hustle past me clutching their sandwiches. Then I got myself a four dollar almond milk latte and a quinoa salad.

Yesterday I walked down to the Ferry Building to meet my parents who happen to be in town this week. After hanging with them for a while I had a fantastic fourteen dollar salad.

Last week I wandered over to the Embarcadero Center and bought lotion I didn't need at L'Occitane. Early that same week I finally went to Dottie's at their new location. Definitely worth the walk but maybe not on a 90° day, mostly because of the urine stank all along Market Street. If you keep your mouth closed it's probably not too hazardous.

In the next month or so, the daycation is going to get upgraded to a serious excursion. A friend and I are cooking up a plan to play hooky and get on one of those double-decker buses and cruise around like real tourists.

And since I'm doing so much more walking now, I've used that to justify a nice little collection of retro sneakers. I still love you San Francisco, always will. Thanks for being so good to me.