Saturday, April 26, 2003

We have a possum again. I saw him eating from our cat's dry food dish in the front yard last night. Anybody who knows me knows that I hate possums. I don't hate a lot of things in this world, but I hate possums. I have nightmares about them.
A few years ago, a possum attacked Bugsy, our orange cat. Bugsy had to get stitches in her jaw and wear one of those lamp shades for a while.
My dad's a varmint hunter. He goes out into the desert and shoots coyotes in his spare time. He also has this big metal trap, just about house cat or possum sized. Once a cat goes in it, it spends the night in there miserable. It spends one night in the box, it never does it again. We let it out the next day, it flips us off and never even looks the trap again. I think both of the cats have spent a night in the trap and so have the other neighborhood cats.
So, Joe Possum comes along and sees the cat food out like it always is, but sees a big hunk of steak in the trap. He goes for the steak and in the morning, I go out and throw a blanket over him and drop some cat food in there. I mean, there's no use being inhumane about it. Dude's nocturnal and there's no reason to let him starve. They usually hiss and strike at me even though I'm trying to help them.
At this point, I should say that I'd like to put the possum in my car and drive it out to somebody's house that I don't like. Or to Chapman University.
However, inevitably Dad comes and takes the possum into the garage with a .22. It's quiet enough that children next door have played while the executions have gone on none the wiser. The body goes into the brown "lawn material" trash can. I know I shouldn't be telling the world this since this is illegal behavior. I also probably shouldn't be participating in it. I mean, I give money to PETA each year. But to me, it's part of being the alpha male to my cats. I have to keep the tribe safe, protect the food supply and so forth.
My novel has possums running through it every time something terrible is about to happen.
This possum's days are numbered. I'll keep you posted on Possum Watch. Operation Cat Food Shield. Operation Feline Security.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Sean and I had a conversation the other night about where we are and where we're going. We decided that there's a part of both of us that would like to be Bilbo Baggins.
We'd like to live in our comfy, little, round home and smoke a pipe and walk around barefoot in lounge wear. Life's about eating and good times with good friends, right?
But we're cursed with an awareness that's like our ring. We know that there are ring wraiths in the world. There's a lot of evil gaining power outside of the Shire and we also know that maybe, if we do just sit in our hobbit holes, the evil will come to the Shire in our lifetimes. So we feel we need to stand and rail against it. We feel we have work to do. Which is the other pull within us.

That got me thinking about who I would want to be in the trilogy. I know that I'm often Gollum as well. That's the pull I feel in the other direction for my Bilbo comfort. I dwell on my depravity until it's a self fufilling prophecy, a cycle that binds me.

My first thought was that I should like to be Gandalf, wise and courageous. But I'm not sure anybody is ever really Gandalf. He's kind of one of those heroic figures that's beyond us, like Aragorn (who I could never be like in the least.)

Then it hit me who I should like to be. Who in the series knows what he needs to do? Who also knows where he would like to be, but does what he has to do anyway? Who has is more together than anybody else in all of the tales of Middle Earth? Who is the real hero?

I should endeavor to be more like Sam Gamgee.

Sorry for the hiatus. Nissa and I have been fighting for about 48 hours now and boy are our mouths tired.

Relations have returned to friendly, if not strained. I've just slept for nine hours and I'm exhausted. But I go to Dr. Shrinker in about an hour, so maybe I'll be better for the second half of the day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

I'm tired, but I have more to say on the sin topic. I'll get to that later, maybe tomorrow I guess.
Today I procured about 50 books. 30 will probably sell quickly. Not too shabby. Mostly cookbooks. The most interesting one was "The Jane Austen Cook Book." It's all recipes of dishes mentioned in Jane Austen novels. I'm almost tempted to keep it. Never know when a pheasant might wander into my back yard.
I went to see Nissa and dine with her. We went to Watson's where I had a greasy grilled cheese with bacon. She's been working very hard to treat me well after the talks we had. We seem to have a new understanding that's like a cold beer on a hot night. We have a lot of love to work through the Crap Mountains.
I also went to go minature golfing with Charles and Phish tonight. Before we left, Sean, Chas, Phish and I had a long, enlightening, and broadening conversation about what I'd written about sin. Then Chas, Phish and I went a-golfing. I lost, as usual. But does any man truely lose at minature golf when he's had fun?

Monday, April 21, 2003

You know, something's been kicking around my noodle all day from when Rob called yesterday. He said that he was reading the Gospels because his hypothesis was that Jesus taught a bunch of great teachings and then the Christians screwed it all up. But, he said, now that he was reading them, he's finding that he's actually disagreeing with a good deal of the teachings. He said he'll call to discuss them when he finishes.
What sticks in my mind is that he said that one of the biggest problems he had was with the concept of sin. He doesn't believe in it. I'm always amazed to hear my friends, the majority of which are pagans, agnostics and other mutts, say that they have such a hard time with the concept of sin. It's one of the bits of Christian dogma that actually makes a lot of sense to me. I mean, I see and contribute to the depravity of humankind on a daily basis.
Now, I want to get straight that my ideas of sin and the definition of sin to a strict, party line Christian are worlds apart. I don't think my sexual experimentation (which ranges from the type that would get me a finger wagging to the type that would get stones thrown at me in a church) was sinful. Not at all. I don't even think my drug and alcohol abuse was sinful. Regretable? You bet. Sinful? Who did it hurt?
Now, the consequences and the errors in judgement under intoxicants led to some behavior that I might call sinful.
Sin, to me, is doing what we know we shouldn't ought to. It's harming others and deliberately being a greedhead. It boils down to some negative aspects of human nature like fear and selfishness. It's essentially the things we all do that if we didn't all do we'd be in utopia. It's the void where there is no compassion or love. There's only fear and hate, their opposites.
So, I think the Pope was right to say that this war is sinful.
It never fails to surprise me when people I know, who jump at any chance to point out how screwed up the world is, say that sin seems to be too bleak of a theological point. It's one of the few that I see in action.
Yes, I know it's a loaded term. I also realize that it's a Christian term and that there are many other religions that have much more palatable terms for "sin." But if the hawks can hijack free speech by throwing around terms like "Unamerican" or "Support your Troops" or steal the image of my flag, then I can call all self-righteous, selfish, fearful, hateful lashing out "Sin."
I see my nation sinning all over the place on a micro and macro level ever time I leave my house.

One last point. Albert Schweitzer had a theological assertion that he called "Reverence for Life." The basic concept was this:
I am a will to live. I am surrounded by other wills to live, which are all other beings. Therefore, that which promotes life and the quality of life can be called good and that which destroys life or decreases the quality of life can be called evil.

My basic point here is that I'm reluctant to dismiss something like "Sin" out of hand for my own spiritual comfort or to distance myself from religious legalists who I disagree with. I think it's too powerful of a term. I think it calls for too much accountability.
And it's such a wonderful concept to be able to throw in the face of those who believe in it. Case in point, at the anti-war rallies there were a rash of people with the sign that read, "Who Would Jesus Bomb?"

Sunday, April 20, 2003

It was a manic-depressive birthday. I moped a lot about the arguement Nissa and I had in the car on the way home. But there were a lot of highs today too. A lot of highs for 4/20. Rob, Lob, my grandmother, Andy, Phish & Chas, and my brother's family all called me to wish me a happy birthday. My parents took me out to Old World for a heavy German dinner. Then I opened their presents.
I got the LOTR:FOTR soundtrack, a celtic harp album, a bluegrass album, a New Orleans Cuban album, and Tchaikovsky's 6th by the Leningrad Philharmonic conducted by Evgeny Mravinsky, which is the version to get. Also a three DVD set of Chaplin's silent Sennet comedies, the Immortal Beloved DVD, and An Evening with Kevin Smith. And a first edition of the new Ray Bradbury.
Then I went to see Charles and Phish and Yod and Sean. Chas and Phish got me "ABC of Anarchism" which is an old primer text. I suppose they want me to grow an unruly mustache and carry around black, ball shaped bombs. It's a really gorgeous book that I can't wait to fill my brain with. They also gave a promise to dinner at Mother's.
Then I came home so that Nissa and I could work out a lot of our problem. I was able to be assertive enough to tell her that I need for her to treat me better (emotionally, that is. She's down on me a lot.) She agreed. It was a load off of my mind and one of the best presents of the day.
She also said that her mother got me soap and chocolate. Eat the chocolate, then wash your pores clean as a precautionary measure.

Also, The Ten Commandments was on tv tonight. I don't know why. I don't know why it wasn't The Greatest Story Ever Told with Rooster Cogburn saying "Truely this was the son of God." Or King of Kings where the Shadow tells a speculative story based on the gospels or Zeferellli's three-day long film Jesus of Nazareth. Or Life of Brian.
Charles summed up The Ten Commandments with this line, "Let my people go, you damned dirty ape!"

This morning Rob told me that it was Easter, 420, my birthday, Hitler's birthday, Columbine day, Van Gogh's birthday, et al. He told me to be careful about the vortex of energy this day promised to be. Brother, was he ever right!

Nissa woke me at five in the morning on Thursday. I didn't know what's what and I couldn't get back to sleep in the car. We stopped for breakfast in the middle of nowhere and I had one of those freak outs where it occurs to you that this might be the first true moment and all of your past up to that point was an implanted memory. If you've never had one of those moments, they can be pretty heady. I decided to go to sleep when we got back in the car.
We were on the 15, so I was sure I would wake up in Vegas. But I woke up and we were on the 40 about to go into Arizona. It was a few hours before it hit me that we were going to the Grand Canyon.
The canyon was beyond words. There were many loud tourists there, but it didn't matter. The canyon has a stillness to it that makes all of us inconsequential. People are like the parasites on our skin. We meditated on the edge for a while while watching the snow storm clouds envelop the heights and depths before us. I think we both wept on our own accord at the sight of it.
We stayed at a hostel in Flagstaff. We had our own little room, like a monastic cell with more whimsically painted walls. It was the perfect size for me. I was ready to move it with a suitcase full of clothes and a toothbrush as my only possesions. I also fell in love with Flagstaff. I would not mind living there at all at all.
The next morning we went to Sedona, which neither of us liked as much as we thought we would. I said that Sedona was like Laguna Beach, except with a southwest motif instead of the beach. Art for profits sake. Pah!
We both liked the Slide Rock Vortex. It had a life to it that made all of the tourists inconsequential. By the way, I'm aware that I was one of those tourists. Unlike most people, I like to feel inconsequential every once and a while. It make me care less when I sleep in late.
In Sedona, a lady in a new age bookstore asked Nissa if she would like a heart painting. Nissa was a lot more polite than I fear I would have been. We found a really cool art gallery far from the main drag. It was called Gallery 465. A man who taught ceramics at NAU for twenty some years ran it. He had giant pillar sculptures with mouth pieces that he showed us were actually giant wind instruments. Like giant tubas. We blew into them and a bowel loosening bellow issued forth from around our feet. It was glorious. Inside the gallery were great Easter Island type heads, decorated with different colors and blindfolds covering different parts of the faces. There was a Bush head with a tiny cowboy hat, missles tucked behind his ears, and those head-slappingly asinine quotes of his scrawled all over the face. There was a sea blue head with a tiny man in a rowboat in the hair. We loved it and even more so because we were actually able to find art in Sedona.
That night we went to NAU and drove around. It snowed, but none of it stuck. I could see the gears whirring in her noggin about graduate school.
Neither of us slept that night for some reason or another.
Next morning I ate dark chocolate covered organic coffee beans because I knew we'd be driving for eight hours. We went to the Northern Arizona Museum of Natural History and saw the dinosaur bones. Then we got on the road and had a long, eviscerating talk about our relationship. After fights and scrapes, we concluded that we have a problem with looking at what we lack instead of what we have, which can cause us to enjoy nothing.
I almost killed a man who tried to cut in front of us at a gas station on the Arizona border. He was trying to get away with something that he knew was wrong and, as is common amoung the petty, started yelling at Nissa when she called him on it. Nissa sent me into the cashier so that the guy would be able to leave the gas station with all of his teeth.
Today I am twenty-six years old. It's 4/20 and it's Easter. Lob, Rob and my grandmother have already called. Happy new year, all.