miércoles, noviembre 29, 2006

Greetings, My Christian Brethren

I got an email a few days ago from a gentleman representing a group of Christian bloggers. He had read my blog and somehow came to the conclusion that he would invite me to join his set. Of course, I was thankful for the invitation, but also curious as to what exactly he had read that made him think I was "Christian" in the "everyone must accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour" kind of way. I mean no offense, but when I think of a Christian, I think of that movie "Saved!", in which Hilary Faye, the ultra-Christian girl, hurls a Bible at a perceived heretic's back and shouts "I am full of Christ's love!!"

I do pray: if I need help or extra strength to keep myself sane, if I, my mom or dad or anyone I know are sick or in danger, you know, the usual. Sometimes these go with appeals to St. Jude, patron saint of impossible causes. For example, when I was trying to get paroled from my last office, I prayed and prayed, acknowledging of course that God would not put me in a situation He knows I can't handle. And then it happened, I was lifted out of that seventh circle of doom, and I spent the next few weeks randomly looking up at the heavens and giving thanks. I went to Catholic school for four years (but more for the fact that it was private and not so much for the parochial aspect of it), I've done time at several masses, and I've gone through First Communion and Confirmation. I've been known to wear a gold cross on a chain around my neck as well as a medal of the Virgin Mary. But I wear them more because they are symbols of protection given to me by my mother, who I really believe to be my guardian angel on earth. When I was in the hospital, close to death, my dad went to the shrine nearby to pray to the Virgin to help me, which she did, and with a quickness. We're all still thanking her for that, 20 years later.

So we are a religious family. But we tend to shun organized religion and what it teaches us, because we don't believe all of the rhetoric and dogma. Furthermore, some of it doesn't make any sense. And let me go even further and say that in my opinion, the Bible is a book written by men who insist it is the word of God, as if God said unto them "can you take dictation?" and the apostles all whipped out their old-school steno tablets and set to work. Don't get me wrong, the Bible does have a lot of good teachings in it, and for the most part, it encourages love and peace. But what doesn't make sense to me is, if God is such a benevolent and peaceful being, how then could He inspire such hatred in the world? Fanatical Muslims say that it is Allah and the prophet Mohammed who have ordered intifadahs and jihads all over the world against infidels. Christians said it was God who told them to ride off to Jerusalem to convert the Muslims during the Crusades. The Catholic kings of Spain insisted it was God who had them use torture to convert the Jews and Moors in the south of Spain to Catholicism. And now, it is God who says homosexuality is unnatural and shameful and we should pity gays and try to rid them of their "disease", as that is the Christian thing to do. Perhaps you can all see how none of this makes any sense, and even people who claim to be Christian or Muslim or Jewish misinterpret "what God said" in their respective Good Books. As for me, I'm sticking to the whole God as a benevolent and peaceful being idea, just to avoid confusion. So please, I don't want any titles or classifications being thrown my way.

Thank you.

martes, noviembre 28, 2006


I just read an op-ed in the New York Times (sorry, can't attach it) by Bob Herbert, in which he suggested that Americans should feel more responsibility and guilt for the war in Iraq, since America is the offending party. I usually like Herbert a lot, even though he is just a tad bit whiny, but he was way off the mark with this one.

I have no problem announcing that I feel absolutely no responsibility or guilt for the war in Iraq. There is no reason for me to feel responsible for a war which was started by a misguided coward that I didn't vote for and did not elect. If anyone should feel guilty, its the idiots who voted for Bush, Bush himself, and well as those who profit, directly or indirectly, from the war (and that last part takes care of the rest of the government). What I do feel is great sadness for the innocent Iraqi civilians (not the militants, to be clear), first and foremost: they did not elect Saddam, and therefore should not have to suffer invasion, occupation and crimes being committed against them in the name of deposing him and bringing Iraq to "democracy", which to the army apparently means the freedom to rape and murder a 14-year old Iraqi girl and kill her family. I feel immense pity for the soldiers who choose to go over there when they have no real idea what they are supporting, what they are fighting for or what they are doing and for the ones who "stress out" so much that they murder innocent people. I'm sorry that some of those soldiers had to come back from the war without limbs or otherwise injured so that they could realize the unnecessary danger Bush put them in. But guilt? Sorry, no.

I think the real tragedy is that not only is Iraq being destroyed, but that the government is slowly chipping away at all that which America is supposed to be made of. Responsibility for something that proves to be a mistake lies with the person who made that mistake and his enablers. Just because Americans are out in full force doing their holiday shopping, just like every year, does not mean they should be ashamed of themselves. On the contrary, for they are out there ensuring a wonderful holiday for themselves and their families. If anyone should have felt ashamed when they were shopping, it was definitely Condi, who was out buying Ferragamo shoes when the levees broke in New Orleans last year.

To improve on the government's lack of a sense of responsibility towards anything, Representative Charles Rangel has suggested that the draft be reinstated, so that government officials and the rich can be assured that their sons and daughters are in the same danger of being whisked off to war as the sons and daughters of those who are less financially fortunate. On first impact, the draft sounds like some awful and greedy policy, and there is always the possibility that, if the draft is reinstated, the rich will be able to buy themselves out of it anyway. But I can't deny that the draft definitely has an equalizing power to it, and I'm all for that.

lunes, noviembre 20, 2006

Rogue Waves

So that I am not accused of rambling without showing the way to the light at the end of the tunnel, let me just sum up my day so far by giving you a philosophical approach to the concept of Rogue waves.

No, rogue waves are not pieces of ocean targeted by Bush for possible invasion. They are large, very unexpected waves, like tidal waves, that occur many miles offshore for no scientific reason. That is, no seismic or any other type of conventional activity can be detected as a possible reason for the wave. There are many theories as to why these occur, such as shifting ocean currents or gases that bubble up from the bottom of the sea.

So, a boat goes sailing along the ocean, say, about 300 miles off the southern coast of South Africa, en route to New York. Let's say this boat is carrying plane tickets to Kuwait and daily subsistence allowances for 6 people who just happen to be in positions to rid the world of transnational crime. As these are traditionally difficult waters to navigate, for this is the region where the Atlantic meets the Indian ocean, some hardships are certainly expected. The boat sails along towards its destination, the crew determined to deliver its precious cargo. Then, all of a sudden, a huge wave, quickly gathering force, comes rolling towards this poor, doomed little boat. Since it is at sea and the wave is quite long, the boat cannot make a sudden change in its course to save itself nor will it simply be tossed onto shore by the wave. As the wave approaches with a vengeance, the crew of the boat have no choice but to prepare for death lest a miracle happen wherein they are beamed safely to shore, or into another profession, by the hand of God Himself.

It could be argued that if this little boat had not plunged into difficult waters, it would not have been hit by the rogue wave and the crew would continue to live in a comparative happy-land where no risks would ever be taken, no challenges would ever be met and no karma points earned, in a perpetual, circular journey towards an ever-increasing paycheck. But the crew, just for getting on that little boat and because of the determination with which they worked to rise to the challenge, are to be rewarded in the heavens. The more shit they had to wade through (no pun intended), the greater the personal rewards. This be my thinking.

miércoles, noviembre 08, 2006

There is hope for the world

By now most of you know that the Democrats have taken over the House and have made strong gains in the Senate. True to form, when the going gets tough, the Cons get going...right out the door. Let's all say a very hearty "LATER!!!!" to Rumsfeld. With luck and God's will, the new Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, who led the CIA under Bush the Elder, will be less of a problem and will handle Iraq, for one thing, a little better and with more sensibility than Rummy.

miércoles, noviembre 01, 2006

Friends...How Many of Us Have Them?

This post will be an ode of sorts to my old friend J, the person with whom I broke up on Friday. All the things I never said because I wanted to be nice and a good friend, since I did at many times enjoy her company, will now be said. If she will still read this blog, I cannot say for sure, but if she does and does not like what I have to say, tough titties.

First, let me relate to you the straw that broke the camel's back (the camel would be me in this scenario): Friday morning, I received an email from Miss J telling me that her parents were in town and did I want to have brunch on Sunday. Understand that this email was sent after three months of tense relations between us during which J. fired off the occasional message to see how I was doing and I replied and it was all very cordial/terse. See, she got herself a man back in February/March, T., for which I was happy because she really needed and deserved someone special. I had started to notice that we hung out less than before, and when we did, T. was coincidentally out of town. But when I invited her to a SummerStage event in August, and after saying yes, J. then decided to go to a museum with T. instead, I saw that we weren't hanging out because she spent all her weekends with him even though she often saw him during the week too, which to be fair, she told me outright. But see, he was, according to her, "nice", and I am, I know now, very mean chopped liver. A case of have boyfriend will leave girl(s) behind. Fair enough. Far be it from me to get in the way of destiny and love. So I stayed away thinking that when she was ready to see this friend again she would email or call and, well, we'd cross that bridge when we got to it.

Fast forward to Friday's email. I replied that my mom would be in town too and that we had plans for Sunday. J. replied that she had "given up" on trying to hang out with me because she thought I should take "a more problem-solving approach" to my life. She was referring to my bitching about my job, and other things when they weren't going right, and her perceived notion that I did not do anything about any of it. Note here that she says this to me about a week or so after I announced to her that I had secured a new job, which apparently went in one ear and quickly out the other. I will be the first to admit that, yes, I bitch and moan my fair share and beyond, but I certainly am not one to do nothing to solve the problem. Besides, if we did not bitch, why then were blogs invented? But this was definitely the comment that made my jaw drop: she said that she felt that her "only" job as my friend was to listen to me, and that any advice she would have offered would have made me mad, as if I were this beast who would turn even more beastly if she said something I didn't like. This made me feel like the most horrible person on earth, and I don't think I have resented any commentary more in my life. Honestly, if she were in front of me, I might have clocked her. Come to think of it, if she were in front of me, she wouldn't have said anything at all, and therein lies the problem. First of all, and I know she knew this even though she could really be annoyingly clueless at times, I listened to her a lot, too, even about things that were maddening to me, and for the record, she has one or two issues in her life that she never did anything about either. My reply: "I hope that, in the future, you will be more understanding of the fact that not everyone chooses to swallow bullshit and internalize everything," or something along those lines. I did not mention the fact that among the many things included in the job description of a friend is to LISTEN, in sickness and in health, for fuck's sake, and to try not to give unsolicited advice and just be a shoulder to cry on. That would just be spoon-feeding J. something that she should already know, and I already spoon-feed for a living. I concluded my response by saying that us not hanging out would prove to be a relief to us both, and I meant that with all my heart. Let me ask you, my lovely readers: have you ever known someone who inadvertently brought out the worst in you? Well, this was the case for me. J. made me want to pick on her like a schoolyard bully and I hated that I felt that way and that I might make her feel badly about herself in any way. I probably might have at some point, and for that I deeply apologize. Actually, I should have said this to her, but oh well.

Her pitiful reply: her parents had not raised her to be emotional. No shit. She was strangely unemotional, a little cold, even. I think at least 6 months passed before she would allow me to give her a friendly hug. Last October, my mom and I had dinner with her and her dad. I thought her dad was wonderful and extremely wise, and at hello and goodbye, he seemed very warm and offered a hug and kiss. Anyway, my mom mentioned to me that when she went to give J. a hug and kiss goodbye, J. tensed up and made this face of "get the hell away from me", which offends me even now, as I am fiercely protective of my mother and do not appreciate anyone making her feel awkward, not even my father or stepfather.

In any case, it's over. Neither I nor J. will have to do anymore play-acting. And no, I did not spend my weekend moping around the house singing Michael Jackson's "She's Out of My Life" or anything like that. I did talk to the lovely S., my trainer at the gym, and since I was in self-doubt mode (and PMSing on top of everything), I asked him if he thought I was pessimistic. I thought that he would know given that we've been "together" for three months now, he has seen me at my worst, and often tells me he loves me ( as a friend of course. Otherwise we'd already be married and waiting on beautiful Guatenigerian babies.) He said that, given what I have been through in my life, he thought I was pretty damn positive. My mother said the same thing, and she is always devastatingly honest with me. A REAL friend. Even my friends at work have always thanked me for bringing positive vibes into our awful office. I can only conclude that J. probably sensed that I wanted to pick on her, that I never really felt that wonderful about our friendship, so I guess things just ran their course. I regret that I spent so long carrying it on, and that I wasted my time as well as hers. I would love to say "no hard feelings", but that would be a lie, unfortunately.

By the by, the office party went OK. Me and the Russian started out by taking a few shots of Stoli before the speeches, so I was nice and warm when the Director started up. He had some very kind things to say about me, and added "Let this sad occasion serve as a lesson to all of you on how not to let excellent people go." Too bad only two of the people who needed to hear that were in attendance. I really do regret that my departure leaves some of my favorite colleagues in a little bit of a pickle, but all of them understand why I need to go and support me in my decision. I made my own little speech: "It is impossible for me to sum up almost 5 years in one tiny speech, but I want to thank you all for the good times as well as the bad, because it is the bad times that show us who our friends and supporters really are, and make us appreciate the good times even more."

Editor's Note - In response to a comment left by anonymous: This post was not directed to anyone in particular and was meant only to tell the story. However, the subject of the posting did read the post and actually replied to Mariposa's personal email. Please refer to the last line of the fifth paragraph. This still stands. Mariposa is not too self-righteous to admit that she will be holding a grudge in this particular case.