Monday, December 30, 2013

There's only one end for all living things.

Words become harsher the more precise they get.

A stomach pain becomes an infection that turns into inflamed lymph nodes. Inflamed becomes growths becomes masses becomes tumours becomes cancer.

Cancer that wasn't there three months ago. Cancer that has spread from my grandmothers lungs (where tumours surround her lung) to her abdomen (where a tumour presses on her stomach) to her spine.

The doctors are still doing tests - they know that the cancer hasn't spread to her bones and they swear that there's none in her brain but none of the news that comes is good. She's weak, she can't (or maybe won't) eat and so she's malnourished and dehydrated in spite of the fluids she's receiving through the IV. Her pain is high and stays there in spite of the different drugs they've been trying.

She's confused and forgetful - more than she was a week ago when she went into the hospital. We're not sure if it's the lack of nutrients (she 'eats' a single Ensure a day and refuses to eat more - her doctor has told her that if she won't try to eat more he will put a tube in her stomach - sometimes threats are the only way to work with my grandmother) or the pain killers (we have doubts as do the doctors - she was unable to spell her own name this afternoon and she hadn't had any strong pain killers today) or something else that we just don't know yet.

My cousin doesn't think she'll last a week.

The doctors keep talking about sending her to 'rehab' which I think is code for 'hospice' but no one is admitting it yet since her cancer hasn't been fine-tooth diagnosed. They think it's lung cancer, which only makes sense. My grandmother has smoked for sixty odd years. I'd be surprised if it was anything other than lung cancer.

I don't believe that she will ever go home again.

She wants to finish the crib quilt that she started for Baby Bakin' but we all know that right now she couldn't do it. She can't stand up without help.

She's cold all the time, in spite of running the heater in the room and the mountain of blankets piled on her.

I don't suppose that it will surprise anyone when I say that we're praying. I don't know what my parents are praying for but I'm not looking for a miracle. I don't believe that one is needed. This isn't a life being cut short, this is a life well lived coming to its natural end.

I pray for ease and peace for my grandmother and strength for my family, especially my mother on whom so many decisions rest.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

*taps mic*

ETA: That moment when a day later you realize that you used the wrong 'mike' in your title. *hides in shame* English is my ONLY LANGUAGE AND I CANNOT USE IT CORRECTLY!

Sheesh this place is dusty.

Okay, gonna try and be a good blogger (or any kind of blogger at all really) and get going again for the new year.

I've been busy at work with the new job, so that's awesome. Nearly got myself fired once (well, I *feel* like I nearly should have been fired because I made a huge mistake but no one was like, 'If you do this again...*cutting motions over throat*' but I felt super shitty about it)

My best friend is pregnant. Again. Funnily, she's due the same week her first baby (Evesdottir) was born. So that should be fun. Also I've been asked to be a Labor Assistant or some slightly longer title which I translate to, 'Hold my hand while I scream and see things you never wanted to see!' but also I get to see Baby Bakin' (2nd childs nickname which we are all never, never, EVER telling Eve, okay?) being born and that will be awesome.

And possibly traumatising.

I have been crowned the Queen of the Bad Words because I accidentally said 'Fuck' in front of a ten year old.

Who proceeded to rat me out to my mother. (She works at the school he attends.)

Yet I still have no crown. Which is sad.

Nothing much has changed except that I might have a Lego problem. I started with one tiny set and um...they may have taken over.

I regret nothing.

My grandmother is in the hospital and we're just sort of waiting to see what happens. According to the doctors she either has an infection, which they can treat, or she has cancer which they may or may not be able to treat. So it's wait and see at this point. They have to biopsy the masses in her chest and stomach and they're going to do that this weekend, possibly, if they can get her liver and kidneys to where they need to be (she has other health problems with those organs that have nothing to do with the masses - she's 83 and not in superb health).

I have seen the Hobbit far more times than is healthy and I would see it again and again.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Silly Confession Time

I swear I will write that post about marriage soon. But first!

One of my favorite sandwiches is a Cuban. Basically it's ham, smoked pork, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread that is then pressed. It's the best, most delicious sandwich ever.

This is a Cuban:

Onto the confession part.

A few years back my mother was getting us subs at Publix and asked my sister what to get for me. My sister knew that I loved Cubans so told my mom to get that. My mother, not knowing what was on a Cuban, trusted my sister's list of ingredients.

This list, unfortunately, was incorrect. And I keep forgetting to inform my mother of this. So, to this day, she orders me a 'Cuban' from Publix that is made with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato. No pickles, no mustard (because I don't generally like mustard - only in special situations) and not pressed.

Basically a ham and cheese sandwich.

And at this point it's gone on too long for me to tell her the truth.

God only knows what the people at the deli think.

Friday, September 13, 2013

My parents are having their 'worship team' (the band that plays in their church and yes that bothers me a lot) over tomorrow afternoon for a party. One of the members is moving to another country so it's a going away party.

I have been asked, politely, to not argue with anyone at the party.

Then what, I ask, is the point of having a bunch of religious people over to the house if I'm not allowed to discuss religion with them?


Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I'm about to finish God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage by Bishop Gene Robinson (Episcopal, of course).

I intend to do a post about it, because it is interesting, but first I wanted to get you guys' thoughts on what exactly marriage is. Get as detailed as you like: what is marriage? Who does what in a marriage ceremony? (Not like who stands where, but what is the role of the pastor/priest/imam/officiant, the family/friends, the individuals getting married, like that.) At what point are the couple married? Secularly? Religiously? What's the point of marriage? Stuff like that.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Judges 11

So I'm listening to the Catholic radio station on my way to the gym this evening and they were playing a show called Catholic Answers Live. The guest was a priest, Father Trigilio, I believe.

A gentleman called in and was questioning a story that he had read in a children's Bible. It was, as you might guess by the title of the post, the story contained in Judges 11, the story of Jephthah. For those unfamiliar with the story, the text is below:

11 Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute.  
Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.”  
So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.
Some time later, when the Ammonites were fighting against Israel,  
the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 
“Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.”
Jephthah said to them, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?”
The elders of Gilead said to him, “Nevertheless, we are turning to you now; come with us to fight the Ammonites, and you will be head over all of us who live in Gilead.”
Jephthah answered, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me—will I really be your head?”
10 The elders of Gilead replied, “The Lord is our witness; we will certainly do as you say.”  
11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words before the Lord in Mizpah.
12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: “What do you have against me that you have attacked my country?”
13 The king of the Ammonites answered Jephthah’s messengers, “When Israel came up out of Egypt, they took away my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, all the way to the Jordan. Now give it back peaceably.”
14 Jephthah sent back messengers to the Ammonite king,  
15 saying:“This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites.  
16 But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and on to Kadesh.  
17 Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Give us permission to go through your country,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent also to the king of Moab, and he refused. So Israel stayed at Kadesh.
18 “Next they traveled through the wilderness, skirted the lands of Edom and Moab, passed along the eastern side of the country of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon. They did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was its border.
19 “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, ‘Let us pass through your country to our own place.’ 20 Sihon, however, did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. He mustered all his troops and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.
21 “Then the Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and his whole army into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country,  
22 capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.
23 “Now since the Lord, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, what right have you to take it over?  
24 Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the Lord our God has given us, we will possess.  
25 Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them?  
26 For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn’t you retake them during that time?  
27 I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”
28 The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.
29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites.  
30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands,  
31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands. 
33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.
34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter.  
35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lord that I cannot break.”
36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 
37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”
38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 
39 After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.
From this comes the Israelite tradition  
40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

Right. So the man was questioning what the purpose was of having a story like that in the Bible, where a man sacrifices his own daughter to God. And the Father answered him, talking about the inadvisability of making such general, sweeping vows and the illicitness of making vows that go against God's law such as human sacrifice.

All fine and good. And then the host chimes in and is all, 'Well if you read to the end of the chapter he didn't end up sacrificing his daughter. It goes into another battle....and....'

Which is the point where I eyed my radio real hard. It bugged me so much that I made a point to remember to look up the chapter when I got home. Because I remember this story. Jephthah *did* uphold his vow.

Now there's some discussion over whether he killed his daughter or she was turned over to the Temple as a virginal servant or something like that. I'm pretty sure that sanil, our resident seminarian and knower of such things, did a post on this on her old blog, but it's gone now. Or..wait. Actually I think it might have been Susanne. Hang on.

Bugger. I can't find the post there either. But it does exist. Somewhere.

Susanne found it! Here it is.

I personally come down on the side of human sacrifice here, but there is some room for debate as to her actual fate. Regardless, one way or the other Jephthah's daughter was sacrificed.

This *really* bothers me, that the radio host said this. It's blatantly false!

Jephthah vowed to make a burnt offering out of whatever came out of his house first to greet him. Verse 39 says 'she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed'. I'm not sure how you get 'they went another way...' from that.

He killed his daughter and there is no textual criticism of him for doing so. The book goes on to talk about another battle that he fought and won and then he dies, supposedly from natural causes since it's not laid out.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Short rambling about kids

I don't know that I have much to say tonight, but I'm at work for another 2 hours so babble I shall!

The night shift girl took today off because it's her birthday and I can't really fault her since I do my best to take the whole week off for my birthday every year. :D

I've been thinking about kids, recently.

You all remember my friend Eve and her daughter Evesdottir. Who is my 'goddaughter', though what that means with a child that is unchurched, a father that was Seventh Day Adventist and a mother who was Methodist and a woman who bounces mentally back and forth between traditional Christianity (as seen in Catholicism and Orthodoxy) and Islam is something we've yet to really have to explore.

I look at her and sometimes I think, 'I want one. I want a dozen.' and then I think about a husband and a family and my own home and it's all nice and good and then I remember that I don't fall in love and that my life would be much easier if someone would just arrange a marriage for me. :p

And then I look at her and I hear stories of Eve staying up all night because Evesdottir was sick (she's fine) and having to clean up the mess (it was a *BIG* mess, poor baby) and I'm happy that I don't have one or a dozen because Evesdottir loves books and she was over at my house the other day and that's all well and good except she's only a year and a half and sometimes she still wants to put the book in her mouth and give Auntie Amber a heart attack.

And then I look at her and I think that if anything ever happened to her I'd fuck up the universe to make it right or get justice and I worry about what I would do if I had my own children because apparently kicking the shit out of other parents is frowned upon or something, I don't know.

And this is all a part of the reasons why it's probably good that I don't have kids.

Aside from the whole I don't believe in lying to them so my children would be full of terrible, 'non age appropriate' knowledge.

Like death. Why do we lie to kids about death? It's a hard concept, sure, but it's hard for adults too. What happens when someone or something (a pet) dies? They cease to be *here*, but what does that mean? Isn't that what religion is supposed to answer? If a parent has faith, why can't they just embrace that with their child in this instance?

And don't get me started on those parents who don't teach their kids the proper names for certain body parts. Ugh.

Kids are complicated and wonderful and I think they make the universe a little more bearable by their existence.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

It's totally wrong to write a post just so a friend can come get rage flaily at it, right?


*continues in her terrible wrong path*

Friday, July 26, 2013

Drink, Don't Drink, It's a Choice (aka it's 3 am, do you know where your free will is?)

And then I stayed up until an ungodly hour writing a post.

Susanne linked to this article on her Facebook and I made the mistake of following it to read it.

Go read it, I'll wait.


As you see, the article is simply a list of reasons why the author does not drink.

Good for her. There's no law that says that everyone has to drink. I know plenty of people who simply don't like alcohol (the taste) or are allergic to certain kinds (my grandmother is allergic to...I'm going to say tequila, but I could be wrong) or don't like certain kinds of alcohol (me - wine and champagne taste like rotten fruit, I don't care what you say and the only good beer is a German beer).

I know people who don't drink because they don't like what it does to them or what they've seen it do to others.

I know people who don't drink because they believe that God has commanded them not to.

There's nothing wrong with any of this.

I just wanted to clear that out of the way first. I am not advocating or demanding that everyone drink *now* because of Reasons.

So why are you writing this post, Amber?

*points* That's you guys, right there. Because I know you're asking that question.

Because while I respect her choice not to drink (for whatever reason) I feel like her stated reasons are not the hard hitting 'facts' that she seems to think that they are. And I feel as if, in spite of what she says, she does not respect the decisions of other Christians to drink.

If what she lists as her first reason is true (for her) then she *can't* respect their decision. I'll get there in a minute.

The second half of this post will (maybe) be more about some of the comments on that original post. We'll see. I've been rage composing responses to those comments for a while (in my head) so we might not get there if I can't get my emotional response under control. *thinks calm thoughts*

Right. Here we go.

"* The Bible says not to be drunk, and the line between having a drink and having too many drinks is just too fuzzy. Drunkenness, or being controlled by alcohol (even for a short time), is something that Christ died to set us free from. To me, drinking after He did that would be like being released from jail and choosing to frequent the jail parking lot."

The Bible *does* say not to be drunk. It says it a couple of times. It condemns *drunkenness*, not *alcohol*. There's a distinction there. And the line is not all that fuzzy. One drink does not make the average person *drunk*. One drink does not remove the self control of the average person. 'Too many drinks' is the point where your self control goes out the window. Where you can't walk straight. Where you can't stand up if you lean down. Where you say and do things that you are ashamed of when sober. 

Christ came to free us of sin (I'm not fond of the phrasing here because Christians continue to sin - Christ hasn't freed us from sin, He's established a path to lead us *away* from sin and offered us forgiveness for when we stumble). *Alcohol* and the moderate, controlled ingestion thereof is not a sin. The sin is in the *excess* that results in drunkenness. It *is* destructive to our bodies (the temples of the Holy Spirit), it *is* destructive to our souls (excessive drinking leads to a break down of the higher functions in our minds, the parts of us that control common sense, motor control, brain to mouth filter). *Drunkenness*, not *alcohol*.

Let's go with an easy parallel. 

Gluttony is a sin, I believe we can all agree on that, yes?

One cookie does not constitute gluttony. Eating *all* the cookies does constitute gluttony.

One drink does not constitute drunkenness. Drinking all the time, or in binges, does.

The Bible is massive. Even in the smaller part, the New Testament, there is plenty of room for a condemnation of drinking in and of itself. It doesn't exist. Christ drank. Christ was accused of being a drunkard. His first public miracle was turning water into wine for the wedding in Cana.

If drinking is a sin then Christ Himself sinned. And encouraged and enabled others to sin.

"*I don’t want to contribute financially to an industry that capitalizes on the pain, neediness, and addiction of anyone. I know too many people whose lives have either been ruined or forever altered by alcohol. Though many people are able to drink without becoming addicted, I wonder how many people, without realizing it, have come to depend on alcohol as a social crutch, trading in Christ-centered or even people-centered relationships that might have been for ones that revolve around the consumption of a substance."

Okay. I'm assuming that the author grows her own food, makes her own clothing from scratch, doesn't own a vehicle or use public transportation and-

Basically she must be Amish.

We can do our best not to support companies in any industry that mistreat their workers or have ties to questionable countries/groups/philosophies. But it's impossible to check every part of every product for moral perfection. 

She should probably stop tithing to her church, because one never knows what that money is *really* being used for. Don't missionaries capitalize on the pain and need of the people they proselytize to? Seems shady to me.

And I don't know how many people she thinks use alcohol as a social crutch. I've yet to see any pair or group of people anywhere who have nothing to talk about except for their drinks.

"* Alcohol dulls sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Alcohol creates spiritual static, making it hard for me to discern what God might be saying to me, and I never know what He’s going to say or when. Missing a divine appointment because I chose to drink, for me, would be like letting someone drown because I’m busy watching TV."

I'm going to need some sort of a reference for this one. Since the author, by her own admission, has never taken a drink I don't know how she's reached the conclusion that alcohol blocks the Holy Spirit. All I can do is cite Jesus and the Apostles, who all drank and didn't seem to have any 'static' from it.

I could also talk about all of the religious traditions in which mind altering substances are used as a way to open oneself up to the universe/gods/God and make it *easier* to touch the will of the Divine, but I suspect that those would be shunted to the side as paganism.

"* I don’t want to exclude anyone or hinder relationships. People who do drink often exclude those who don’t drink when they gather socially. I like peanut butter, but I don’t let it keep me from spending time with friends who have peanut allergies. I simply don’t eat peanut butter when I’m around them. The effects of drinking often carry over into the next day, causing others to feel as if they are less important than the drinking experience to the one who chooses to drink."

My social circles include people who drink and people who don't drink. Never have we excluded one group or the other from an activity or get together based on their alcohol related opinions. If we're getting together at a restaurant, those who drink will have a drink. Those who don't, won't. No one gets excluded. At home based parties or get togethers, there is always a *variety* of beverages to be chosen from. I have a friend who is allergic to tree nuts. I don't not serve items that have tree nuts in them, I just make sure she knows which dish she shouldn't eat and have a substitute for her. (I also struggle to remember that she is *not* allergic to peanuts, which just seems odd to me. But then again, she's my friend, so what do you expect?) 

I have friends who are vegetarian. I don't not serve meat when there's a group of people over, I just make sure that there are vegetarian options! 

No one is excluded! It's like magic!

If I had local Muslim friends I wouldn't serve them pork! But I'd serve non-Muslims pork! It's not rocket science!

re: the hangover bit. I will admit that I've never been hung over. My alcohol tolerance's pretty high. I have been 'can't walk a straight line, or even stand up totally straight, there was some slight listing to one side but I swear the floor was tilted, hugging everyone in the restaurant, kneel down to pick something up and can't get my legs to work' drunk. And I've woken up the next day just fine. So all I know from hangovers is from the outside. They don't look like a hell of a lot of fun. They have yet to make me feel like I am less valued than the alcohol that was consumed the night before. They do incite lectures on why we don't drink to excess, but that's mostly because I'm me and I have a captive audience at that point.

"* I don’t want to point others, particularly my children, toward anything that could potentially become a problem for or hurt them."

Excellent. I assume that the author is raising her children in a hermetically sealed environment.

But on a serious note: I'm by no means saying encourage your children to drink and smoke and have wild sex parties but if all you do is say 'NO. This is *bad*.' and don't give your children any exposure to something then they won't develop coping mechanisms for it. They won't know how to deal. There is also the chance that by making alcohol something forbidden (and I admit to making an assumption here) and not allowing discussion of it and it's good and bad points, that you are fomenting a rebellion involving secrecy which can lend itself more easily to addiction - the very thing you were trying to avoid.

"* If I chose to drink, it would be for me, to fulfill my own desires and purposes, which is where every sin issue I’ve ever had has started. I just don’t want to go there."

I personally see nothing wrong with doing something, within reason, because I desire it or it serves my purposes. Assuming that there is nothing intrinsically evil (or illegal) about it, of course. But the author doesn't want to drink because, I'm thinking, it doesn't serve or elevate Christ or Christianity in her mind. Okay.

"* If I broke off a piece of the Loritab, Darvacet, Percacet, or Vicadin in my cabinet every time I felt the need to relax, people would say I had a problem. I struggle to see how that is any different than pouring a glass of whatever when I feel the need to chill."

The key here is what is moderation and what is excess. What is necessity and what is indulgence. I have a coworker who has been on a steady prescription of anti-depressents and anti-anxiety medicines for four years. She takes these daily because she and her physician have decided that this is what she needs to be a functioning version of herself. Is she sinning by taking these drugs to save her life?

There are three bottles of vodka in my freezer. Every so often I have a little bit of one of them after a very long and stressful day. I have a drink, I don't *drink to the point of insensibility*.

"* I just don’t need it. As a Christian, every freedom is mine in Christ. In fact, the spiritual yard that the Father has given me to play in is way too huge for me to worry about whether or not to set foot in the 10X10 plot of freedom that is social drinking."

 Okay. *shrug* Again, not saying that you have to drink. This is, in my opinion, the best reason listed for not drinking. She doesn't want to. Excellent. Others do sometimes what to have a drink. This is also good.

"* I want to be set apart. The Bible doesn’t say that no one can ever drink, but God does tell several individuals whom He sets apart for higher tasks not to consume alcohol. There has to be a reason for that. On some level, He must value abstinence from alcohol, and, hey, if God is taking volunteers for higher tasks, sign me up!"

God tells different people a lot of different things in the Bible. 

Moses *saw* God, or got as close as any human being ever did to seeing God. There was, as far as I can recall at 3 am, never any instruction for Moses to not drink. 

Jesus *is* God, and He drank.

This last reason smacks, to me (but again it's early/late so...ymmv) of wanting to be 'special'. I've been there. It's a little slice of Holier Than Thou

"So, there it is. Do with it what you will, friends, but I felt I had to share. Let me say again that I do not think less of those who drink. It does make me sad, however, when I scroll through my Facebook and Twitter feeds and see that so many young Christians I know are constantly posting pictures of their alcoholic drinks and dropping the names of imported beers and mixed drinks they’ve consumed. What are they trying to prove? If they really believe drinking isn’t an issue, then why the show and tell?"

 Perhaps they post these pictures because they believe it isn't an issue. I know that I've posted pictures of cocktails occasionally. Not because I'm showcasing my 'sin', but because they were pretty or unusual. There is an artistry to bartending which, since then author has never had a drink she has likely never been close enough to appreciate.

And....nope. Still not un-ragey enough to deal with the comments.

Except to say this: There are at least two claims that alcohol is a cause of rape, incest and abuse.

No. The *cause* of rape (and I'm including incest under rape since I'm assuming that the commentators aren't imagining scenarios where a couple of family members get consensually, mutually drunk and then have sex) is rapists.

Are those rapists sometimes drunk? Yes.

Are their victims sometimes drunk? Yes.

Correlation does not equal causation.

A rapist rapes because they choose to do so.

An abuser abuses because they choose to do so.

I grew up with an abusive step-father. He drank, he took drugs. Neither of those things made him abusive. He was abusive because he took joy in the power he had to control us.

He feels slighted and unappreciated by the world around him and he turned that into pain and rage against women and children who had no defense and nowhere to go.

He was abusive because there is something fundamentally wrong inside of him. In his soul, in his brain chemistry, in his wiring. Whatever you choose. The alcohol did not make him abuse us, it did not take away his choice or his will.

Saying that the alcohol causes this behavior is one of two things, both of them insulting. You're either blaming the victim for being victimised or you're excusing the perpetrator by saying that the alcohol totally changed him, that he was a puppet to the will of the inanimate drink.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 1 & 2

I forgot to post last night, so tonight is day one and day two. Lucky you guys!

Day 1:

So I set the first alarm to go off at 5:30. This is about the time of the first Muslim prayer of the day and I figured that would give me an hour to eat and drink since sunrise, according to the Islamic calendar I looked at, is at 6:30(ish). I woke up, got up and turned my alarm off and crawled back into bed for another half an hour. Getting up at six gave me time to eat and drink a bottle of water, but it felt rushed since I was taking care of all the animals at the same time - once they know that you're up they expect to be fed and walked and all that good stuff.

It's about 10 am now. I did a light workout at the gym before I came into work, not my usual routine - not because I couldn't drink water but because I had to be into work early (I'm scheduled to be at noon today but the other woman here had to go to the bank - she's in the process of buying a house - and the DMV because they sent her a new drivers license that she didn't request and it feels a little suspicious to her). 

So far so good on the water/food front.

I've set my phone alarm to buzz me at the appropriate times for salat. Not that I'm going to pray (since I have no space and don't know how and am dubious about the appropriateness of it in the first place) but to break up my day in the closest manner I can to a practicing Muslims day.


It's 12:30 and I'm getting a little hungry. I miss not having a drink right beside me to sip, but I'm not *thirsty* yet.

I am, however, eyeing my sister's chicken nuggets. I know that they're terrible, I really do. But I love McDonald's chicken nuggets. A Mighty Kids Happy Meal with chicken nuggets and one of those blueberry-pomegranate smoothies. Mmmmm....

But no.


Every ad I see in every product is for food or a restaurant. Even pictures of people catching fish is a reminder of food - for those of us who like seafood anyway.

I am, however, planning to make an avocado-tomato salad that my mother gave me a recipe for tonight. This has no bearing on anything, just me thinking about how good that would taste. I'm also thinking about the salsa that Heather was making last night and how, in spite of the metric ton of garlic in the recipe, it sounds like something I want to try. My Dad is really fond of salsa. Personally I'm a salsa con queso kind of gal.

I really don't want to make these posts all about food, but I haven't reached any deep (or shallow) spiritual insights as of yet.

Mostly I'm just mildly hungry and thirsty.


Hunger is something that I'm not all that familiar with, to be honest. I'm never normally *hungry*, you understand? Like I eat at meal times because I know that I need to eat and I enjoy the food, but I don't get the stomach growling hunger if I skip a meal or eat a few hours late like some people do. And I've certainly never experienced the hunger of needing food and simply having it not be available. I imagine that that's several degrees above any kind of hunger I can imagine.

So the hunger isn't a problem, at least so far. I'd like to eat, but I'm not chewing the edge of the desk or anything. And I work a desk job in a nice air-conditioned building so it's not like I'm sweating and need water desperately. I'm well off in those respects. Of course my desk mate is eating KFC (again) across from me, so that's annoying. Again, I know KFC is not awesome, but it smells delicious.


Full disclosure, I took a tiny sip of diet sweet tea because I couldn't explain to my sister why I couldn't drink it.

I suck.


4:30 - And *now* that I've had that tiny sip, my throat is starting to feel dry. Bah. It wasn't even that great of a tea.


It was made with Splenda. Blaaaaaarrrghhhh....


5 ish - You know, I really need to figure out how to make my phones alarm vibrate and not make noise. I set it to silent, thinking that that would do it and I'd just feel/hear it buzz in my pocket, but just says 'ALARM' when it goes off. How is that helpful? It's not, that's how. If it didn't remember the approximate times it was supposed to be going off I wouldn't notice it at all.

*frowns at phone*



Of course now I have to avoid eating with the family because explaining experiments like this just a) confuses them and b) makes my Mom worry that I'm converting and not telling them. Which, to be fair, I was half way through becoming Catholic before I told them.


8:40 - 'Iftar' pizza! Um. Well, it was delicious, as was my sweet tea. Admittedly there was pepperoni on my pizza but you can all pretend it was turkey pepperoni if it makes you feel better. Again, not *actually* Muslim, so pork and I are okay.


Not really sure what the point was of setting my alarm to go off at 9:30 for the last prayer time. Not praying and not breaking up my day since my day is over! *goes back to playing Candy Crush*


I'm wondering if this is going to be rather pointless, at least for me. I think that this is kind of like Lent. You get out of it what you put in. I'm putting in (basically) not eating lunch. People who believe are far more likely to get something back from Ramadan.

Day 2:

5:30 - *bleep*-ing alarm.


6:30 - I stayed up after the 5:30 alarm, sort of. I mean I didn't go back to sleep, so that gave me more time to drink water and eat a little. Which was the point. But I didn't actually start being productive until a few minutes ago.


Noonish - today is a good day to be lazy in. I'm really tired today, but I think that has more to do with my habit of staying up late than anything else. Sadly I have to go to the gym now and be to work at 3. Life is haaarrddd..../childish whining


3 - My sister asked me to pick her up something to eat on the way into work. Going through the drive through at McDonald's is less fun when you're not eating anything.

Also, side note, people on your cell phones: When you get to the ordering spot, say 'Just one second' to the person on the phone, and make your order. DON'T tell the server that you need another second and then continue to talk about THINGS THAT ARE NOT FOOD on the cell phone. You will get honked at. A LOT.



Still no deep thoughts. Maybe I should add prayer to the mix? Not salat (again, questionable appropriateness and lack of practical knowledge).

I was listening to the Catholic station in the car and the speaker said something that bugs me. He said that the definition of faith is, 'Leaning so far on God that if He wasn't there, you'd fall over.' Which seems stupid. From a practical standpoint. All I can compare it to are the far too emotionally codependent people that I know. And I imagine it like that, where if one party leaves or dies or what have you then the other party collapses and can't function. Why would you want that? Why would God want that from you? That's idiocy. (I know that there are problems with this comparison, but it's my head and this is what comes up in it.)


8:42 - I'm gonna eat my salad (delicious salad....) and drink a giant (no seriously, you have no idea) Mountain Dew Icee. I'm here until midnight so caffeine is my friend. 

Oh! And I broke the fast with a greek yogurt. To be honest, I thought I'd brought strawberry and it was pomegranate, so that was a little confusing at first (I didn't look at the label) - there were all these tiny hard things in the yogurt and I was disturbed trying to figure out which part of the strawberry they were....


P.S.: Guys, it's almost 2 am here. Why did none of you stop me from drinking 52 oz. of Mountain Dew?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Okay, this past week was supposed to be me fasting.

I failed. I failed spectacularly.

I think the problem (in part) was that I just decided to do it without really preparing for it. I managed to sleep through my alarm *every* day and so not wake up until after sunrise. Which meant that I missed out on the pre-dawn breakfast and tanking up on water.

I'm going to give it another go this week, but plan better (set my phone alarm and leave my phone on the other side of the bedroom so I have to get up to turn it off).

*crosses all available limbs*

Hopefully this goes better.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

7 PM ramblings and Ramadan 'project'

I'm here at work for my new job, so you guys get a post. It'll be a short one though.

Mostly you're getting this because I have no schedule to check and see if I'm expecting any more jobs to come through (we do commercial printing and we rotate coming in for a couple of hours on Sunday nights to do the few products that print first thing Monday morning) and I've done the one that I had the files for. So I need to stay until 8 pm, just in case there is something else coming in.

I've got an hour to kill.

I hate not having work to do right now, but that's the nature of the beast. :(


Last night was kind of a mentally stabbity night for me. There was someone that I work with on my FB, telling me that we shouldn't voice our opinions about things that we don't have ALL the details on. Which is just asinine and I'm not saying it's me, but if superglue somehow gets on his chair tomorrow morning, well. Like I said, I admit nothing.

...just kidding. I won't superglue him to his chair.

He'd just take his pants off and that's something no one needs to see.

And I was reading a chapter by chapter review of the latest Anita Blake 'book' (I use that term SO, SO loosely in this case). That always makes me want to start a bonfire with the power of my rage. These are among the few books that I would burn in an instant if I came to universal power. Probably part of that is due to the fact that I used to like them. Not that they were ever high literature by any stretch of the imagination, but they were decent. There is nothing redeeming about them now.


I've been doing some sort of half-fast for the last week, like a training exercise. Probably this is something that I should have done before Ramadan started, but I'm not Muslim, so I do what I want.

Which is basically my life philosophy, if you drop the 'not Muslim' part of it.

But the plan is for me to do a correct Islamic fast starting tomorrow. I intend to do the entire week, but I'm not sure if I'll make it.

I was thinking about journaling/live blogging the fast (any thoughts that I have, not whining about how I would really like some food right now, thank you very much), and only posting the post after iftar. But I don't know if that would be appropriate. I know in Christian circles you're not supposed to draw attention to your fasts, but I'm not sure what the standard is in Muslim circles.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ramadan is coming....

By all the calculations that I've seen, it's 'scheduled' to start Tuesday. Or Wednesday, if there's no moon sighted, but I think most people are going with Tuesday as the start date.

Any of you have plans to mark or observe Ramadan in some way?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hello, My Name is Amber and I'm a Slacker

Well, at least my slacking has a little bit of an excuse?

I started a new job (my first new job in 17 years! what can I say, I'm unfond (It's a word because I say it is) of change and I was *super* competent in my last position, so I was not in the mood to change until I suddenly was). It's with the same company, so that's nice but it's completely different from what I was doing before so it's been a bit of a learning curve. This is my third week and I'm still loving it and I haven't broken the presses yet so all in all, it's a good thing.

I'm behind (so very, very behind) on my Qur'an posts, and obviously I have made no other posts in the interim. But I have a couple of books that people (Susanne) have said I should write about and I can just do random, why is this my life posts too.


I've been thinking, the past couple of days, about my tendency to try and bargain with God. I don't know if it's something in my personality or maybe it has more to do with the version of Christianity that I grew up with and have chosen to surround myself with, or maybe it's just a facet of American Christianity that's so basic we hardly notice it unless we're looking for it. Or maybe it's an American thing. Or a human thing. I don't know.

I'm sure you know what I mean. Prayers that start with: 'Dear God, if You...' or 'If You just let me get through this...' '...get me home safe...' '...keep my loved one safe...' and continue with '...I will/I promise/I won't...'


If God will do X then we will do Y. Whether that Y is praying more or giving up gambling or smoking or drinking or going to church or donating our time/money/etc to a worthy cause. We want to bribe God to do what we want Him to do. We think that we can influence the outcome of events by getting God to do what we want.

And it doesn't work that way. We can't do that. God will do what God will do and we can't change anything by trying to bribe Him.

Because of my new job I've been nervous, and I've found it much easier lately to just say 'thank you' to God for what I have, for getting through each day and having good days and not getting angry when something goes wrong or being scared when something bad happens. I have an...unpleasant 'relationship' with my mother's second husband (*ex* husband, I should point out for those who might not know). Basically I would be pleased if I never heard from him again. I don't fear him any more and I don't hate him any more (go team!) but I also don't want him in my life. He's recently started calling for me at work and I've spoken to him each time because otherwise he just keeps calling.

And you know, I was able, when he said that 'I'm going to be in a place that's good for me and I hope that you'll be in a place that's good for you' to respond 'Insha'Allah.' (I find that some things are better expressed in Arabic, okay? I can't quite explain to you the difference between insha'Allah and 'God willing' in my head except that perhaps I said 'God willing' so many times without meaning that it's impossible for me to take it seriously in my own mind. Insha'Allah carries none of that baggage for me. Or maybe I've just been reading too many Islamic posts/books lately.) I want us both to be in places that are good for us, the difference is that he thinks that's a place that can include us both and I know that that's not so.

I'm hardly saying that I don't grouse mentally when things go wrong (like the fact that our yard is so flooded I can't shower or do laundry or reliably flush a toilet) or that I don't ask God for things. I pray that each day is a good day, that I have the strength to get through anything that comes my way and I ask for God's help with that. But I don't try and bargain any more. And I do my best to remember to thank God that I have a house that's not an inch deep in water at the moment and that I have places that I can go to to do my laundry and take my shower and that I have toilets that *do* flush if treated gently.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

*spins around in chair*

Alright, as some of you may recall, I write fanfic as a hobby.

For those who don't know what fanfic is, that's probably for the best, but the short story is that there are people out there who write stories for other peoples' characters. There's no money involved, just the practice of writing and the joy we get from the readers' responses.

Anyway. I've gotten slack lately, and I've decided that since my Beta is on vacation for a couple of weeks that I'm going to have some pieces ready for her when she gets back.

It's going to break down like this:

My ongoing, oh, my god, why did you turn out so long, you were only meant to be 10k words, why are you breaking 30k and not even remotely done, I blame my Beta SO MUCH, why???? fic, aka: The Art of Breaking. It's ongoing, and I try to break the chapters into 5k words. I want to have another chapter of that ready for her, so the goal is 5k. The current count is.... 500 words: 500/5,000

The you damn well better be much shorter, I'm not telling the Beta about you, no, no, not until you're done because she's actually my evil twin and will make it all worse fic, aka: The Only Thing You Save. I don't really have a mental word count for this one, but let's call it 10k just to give us a goal. The current count is: 727/10,000

And the holy crap no, no, I'm not writing a Star Trek fic, go away ideas, please...but lookit that cute little plot bunny...fic. But that one's unstarted and we'll call that a bonus round.

The goal is to write at least 500 words a night on both of the stories, with maybe some ST:ITD fic if the mood strikes.

Expect whining about how Writing Is Hard for the foreseeable future.

Hopefully mixed in amongst Posts of Actual Content.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A couple of things, one of which is Book: Standing Alone in Mecca - Asra Q. Nomani (there's kind of sort of a theme...)

I kind of hate writing book reviews because I have a real problem walking the line between not telling people enough about the book and telling them too much. Also I tend to just talk about whatever comes to mind about the book, rather than doing it in some sort of actually helpful manner. You have been warned.

Also, I've been trying to write this post for a couple of days. The universe does not want this post written apparently.

AS A RANDOM (or maybe not so random) ASIDE:

I am thoroughly convinced that there is some sort of magical/mystical download that happens into the brains of women who convert to Islam and become hijabis. It's the only explanation for how they can all do it and make it look natural and perfect and I can't, no matter how many tutorials I watch. (Heather denies this, but I suspect that she's been sworn to secrecy vis a vis this process)

Lemme show you a thing:

This is the face of a woman who really wants her hijab to look good but knows that it doesn't. It is also the face of a woman whose one eye is red and swollen because Allergies and Florida, not because she has some horrible disease.
Admittedly I didn't bother pining it or anything, but still. This is a symptom of my disease. I love hijab, but it doesn't love me.

Also, glasses! Because my allergies are so bad right now that I can't wear my contacts. People tell me I look cute, but I think they're lying because they can see the seething hate behind my eyes.

Basically, I think I look like Bruce Banner when I wear glasses.

Which is fine, you know, if you're a guy. Which I am not.

GLASSES!!!! *shakes fist at sky*

Moving. On.

I picked up this book about four years ago and I'm sure there were a couple of reasons that I chose it, but mainly I recall picking it up because it was a description of someone going on Hajj. Why, you may ask? Because I REALLY would like to go to Mecca. Really a lot.

I will not, because non-Muslims aren't allowed, and I respect that even as I wish it wasn't so. Thusly, I have resigned myself to not ever going to see Mecca and have determined to get my fix vicariously. (As much as I ever resign myself to anything, which is not a whole lot, to be honest.) Still, you know, if they changed that rule (I know this won't happen) I would be there in a hot minute (assuming I could afford it) in spite of the fact that I hate crowds (it's very crowded) and dirt (from what everyone says there is a trash problem) and hotels and travel and....still. Mecca was the reason I picked this book up.

It is about Mecca, and the hajj, to a certain degree. But it's more about how the authors' experience in Mecca changed her and what she did with that change when she returned home. I should say that I've read nothing else by this author and while I'm aware that she's something of a polarizing figure in the American Muslim community I'm not up on any or all of the precise issues surrounding her. All I can talk about here is this particular book and my impressions from it.

Ms. Nomani was a newspaper reporter and it shows in the style of the book. The chapters are broken into sections that resemble newspaper articles more than anything else. They're concise episodes within the larger framework of the book and that makes it an easy book to pick up and read a bit, then set down and come back to later or to read through in longer chunks when you have the time.

I enjoyed the descriptions of Hajj, but I have to admit to being oddly dismayed to be told that the mosque has grown to include the path that Hagar took between Safa and Marwah. Why dismayed? Good question. I'm not entirely sure why this bothers me. Maybe it's because I, in my remove from the emotions of the event, am looking at it and thinking that they've sanitized this remembrance somehow. Does it take away from the impact of what they're doing for the people performing hajj? Probably not, or at least I hope not.

I was also maybe a little more than a bit freaked out by the crushing crowds that are described once or twice. Especially with the author having brought her infant son with her. I'm not claustrophobic, generally, but I think that would have been too much for me. Of course I also should like to think that I wouldn't bring an infant to a place like Mecca with all the possible diseases (not like ewwwwwwwwww *foreign* people, but whenever you travel there are strains of bacteria that you can encounter that are not native to your system, thus they hit you harder than the ones you're used to and with a baby...well. It's not the choice I would have made is all.) and the knowledge that people have died on Hajj due to fires and being crushed by the crowds (some people died during the Stoning of the Pillars on Ms. Nomani's Hajj).

Some of the depictions of Mecca itself made me sad, mostly the commercialization of the place with KFC's and other fast food type restaurants seemingly all over the place. I understand that it is a city and that there are millions of pilgrims, but in my head it's a holy city. KFC seems so out of place.

The question of the disconnect between the mixing of the genders at Mecca and the strict lines that can be encountered in other mosques all over the world stuck out to me too. Why is it okay for women and men to pray side my side in Mecca and not elsewhere?

I have to admit that I kept being surprised by how many things Ms. Nomani didn't seem to know about her own religion until she started looking into it due to the murder of her friend Daniel Pearl and the conception/birth of her son out of wedlock (and being abandoned by her son's father). It seems odd to me, but then I remember how many born Christians believe that the Bible was written in English originally.

My biggest problem, I guess, comes when Ms. Nomani returns home. She has, up until this point, not been involved in the local Muslim community. Due, it seems, to it not being a particularly inviting one to women. But I have to wonder if part of her perception, as a child, of it being uninviting is her mothers' aversion to the mosque. Her mother and father came from India and her mother came from a (according to the authors' book) very traditional area and family. She was never allowed or invited to participate in the community life of the mosque and never felt welcome. So I do wonder if that attitude trickled down to her daughter to a certain degree.

Ms. Nomani, on her return, goes to her local mosque and finds it wanting. Rather than become a part of the community and try and change things from the inside, she seems to appear and immediately begin demanding that things change and change right away to her way.

She refuses to use the women's section of the mosque but rather settles in the back of the men's section, refusing to leave when asked, ordered or threatened. While I can appreciate the point that there is no real reason for the women to be forced to pray in a room that leaves them feeling disconnected from the community, a room that is not equal in cleanliness or access, this felt so harsh to me, coming from someone who is basically a new comer to the community she is demanding change.

I was especially struck when Ms. Nomani describes a young woman who comes to the mosque to convert. She is not permitted to convert in the nice men's (main) hall, in front of the whole community, or even to have a microphone in the women's section so that the community can hear her take her shahadah. Instead she converts with only the other women present, and according to Ms. Nomani, laments that "This isn't the Islam I was promised." as she leaves. And I can relate, not to the specific circumstance, but to finding a religion not as promised.

I think we can all relate to that, to one degree or another.

*looks over 'review'*

I told you I was bad at this.

Anyway. Generally, I enjoyed the book. I'm not sure that I would like Ms. Nomani in person, but I found her writing to be easy to digest, informative, and it certainly kept my interest. Not so useful as an introduction to Islam (I have no impression that it was meant to be), it's definitely a memoir that gives you one point of view on the religion.
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