Jesus Lady

Jesus Lady lived a few houses down from us, on the house near the top of the hill (we lived nearer to the bottom).

She had a mean yellow dog and loud signs taped to the large windows of her front patio, which read:

JESUS SAVES THOSE WHO ARE SAVED.

JESUS LOVES.

JESUS WEEPS FOR YOUR SINS.

Etc., etc.

She was a small woman, but physically strong and persistent, as most people who believe themselves to be righteous often are. She waited in front of the patio (many school kids had to pass her house in their decent down the hill, towards home) and rushed forth to shove pamphlets about Jesus and how he loves and saves and weeps into our hands. She would hold on to coats or sleeves demanding to know if we loved Jesus in turn, and whether we were saved or not.

She did this most of her days, often with her mean old dog in tow. Together, they dominated the sidewalk. I came home from school with many pamphlets, which my parents used to wrap fish guts and egg shells so that they wouldn’t stick to the inside of the garbage can.

Jesus Lady got to know my face. How could she not? We saw each other almost every day. I went to that school for years.

I tried to dissuade her, get her to leave me alone. I really did. Told her I wasn’t interested, that I didn’t believe in god or Jesus, that I was Buddhist (and hence, good insofar as matters of the soul were concerned).

But Jesus Lady was not moved. Would not be made to see anything but her god-driven mission to save. Us. All.

So, one day I did the only thing that seemed natural. I lied right to Jesus Lady’s Jesus face.

“Yes, I am saved now.”

The transformation was instantaneous: she lit up like a fiberglass Jack-O-Lantern. I remember it well, her expansive grin slightly grotesque, her pallor decidedly…orange.

“Oh, praise Jesus! Praise Jesus! Praise Him!”

I expected her to see through the lie (I did not put much effort to selling it, just mechanically said the words, Yes. I. Am. Saved. Now.). That she accepted it so readily taught me that truth and validation are not the same thing, and that a lie, one beautiful lie between two people, can set them each free.

And that nothing is free.

From that day forward, I was able to walk by Jesus Lady (dog or no dog in tow) with only a mild, “There she is! The girl who is saved!” rather than the usual litany of “You’re going to Hell/Devil child!/Buddhism isn’t real!”

Etc., etc.

From that day forward, Jesus Lady watched me walk by, the child she saved for Jesus’ sake, who never had a word otherwise to share with her and whose friends snickered at her back with every, “She is saved! Praise Him,” that flew from her thin lips, empty words that they were.

***

Jesus Lady, I eventually learned, had an adult son. I’m pretty certain his name was Christopher (of course it was), but not in a factual way.

By then I was working most days in our city’s grimy downtown, one cashier among many.

That’s where I saw them, one summer’s day: Jesus Lady and her son (the dog was long, long dead) walking the streets, pamphlets in hand.

Her son. He was dressed as Jesus, complete with a straggly fake beard, flowing robes, a crown of (pipe-cleaner) thorns and a giant wooden cross strapped to his back, which immobilized his arms (his mother, naturally, handled the pamphlets).

It was quite the display; he really seemed to be suffering, under all that grab in that all that heat, bearing that mighty cross day after day in a downtown core that was already half-dead in its dying.

It took me days to see it, but then I did.

The cross. It had a set of roller skate wheels attached to its bottom, allowing this Jesus to master the sidewalks, but also to struggle against the burden of his beliefs quite convincingly, if he so chose. It was really up to him.

I wonder if he ever thanked god for that.

***

Did you know that “dog” spelled backward is “god”?

People say it is also the same thing the other way around, but as a non-believer, I have my doubts.

 

 

 

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Filed under Dogs, Mind and Body, Names, People, Race, Religion, THE PAST

Future Tense

I’ve found that I can commit to things (i.e. birthday parties, baby showers, dinners out, shows) when I already (that is beforehand) have an exit strategy in place (i.e. illness, emergency, act of God).

“I’m, uh, rather feverish at the moment.”

“My dog threw up!”

“My roof collapsed?”

I seldom, if ever, use the exit. But the fact that it is there, in place, is as much as a comfort as it is a crutch (is this, really, the Good Life? Can’t I do better?).

Also this: I tell myself that the event is so far, like out there, in the future, that it’s almost like not committing at all! That is a problem for another day, which is not today, maybe not even tomorrow.

And then, eventually, it hits me: the future is now. Or it will be.

Every. Single. Time.

(For the time being, anyway.)

I suppose I could just commit to less, make things more manageable, more orderly, less stressful. But I’m not there yet. I’m still not up to being that person, not yet.

I am becoming that person, yes, certainly. Eventually, I think so, I hope so.

But not now.

For now (for right now): I’d love to go to your thing! Count me in!

Yeah. Can’t hardly wait.

 

 

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Filed under Change, Communications, Events, Interruptions, Mind and Body, Philosophy, Routines, THE FUTURE

Lonesome Shoe

Every day for the past two weeks the same, sad sight: the shoe.

The lone shoe next to the sidewalk. The left shoe, one of a lost pair placed gingerly on a stone, waiting to be claimed. As if to say, “Here I am! I’ve been here this whole time, waiting like a good shoe should. Waiting for you.”

lone shoe

It is a very nice shoe, though at this point it has been rained and snowed on, at least twice. Who knows what else? Splendid still, despite everything, yet it is beginning, now, to take on the appearance of being constantly (perhaps permanently) wet.

As in sodden, soaked and sopping. And alone, to boot.

Poor shoe.

It’s still there, you know. Carried over from last year into this one, into this, the fourth day of the new year.

Poor left shoe.

Perhaps pants would be better.

Pants would be funnier, splayed out against the curb, brandished against the asphalt.

Pants, at least, are never lonesome.

 

 

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Filed under City Life, Interruptions, Philosophy

Resolution (2019 Edition)

  1. a) To be better, or less bad (or at the very least not as worst), which is to say, to set a new normal.
    b) New normal are hard.
    c) What is “normal”?

 

  1. a) Incremental, every day changes (i.e. to routines, habits, thought patterns).
    b) How incremental is enough?
    c) ???
    d) (This, perhaps, and for example, not incremental enough.)

 

  1. a) POSITIVE THOUGHTS ONLY.
    b) “ONLY”…proscriptive?
    c) Uh oh.

 

  1. a) Introspection!
    b) Don’t brood, but don’t not brood…
    c) Ugh. For real, just…ugh.

 

  1. PERSIST (why not?).

 

  1. RESIST (always, not never, be doing this).

 

  1. SMASH (read: the patriarchy).

 

  1. Climb every mountain!

 

  1. Slay every demon!

 

  1. Solve every murder!

 

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

 

GOOD LUCK.

 

 

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Filed under Ceremony, Change, Holiday, Mind and Body, Routines, THE FUTURE

Jiggety-Jig

Home again after cutting our holiday time with family short. By more than half, actually. A good ratio, a nice, sane, solid number. A more than reasonable amount of time, so measured.

There was a part of me that feels guilt – tinges of it – for leaving so soon, so abruptly. But then there’s your family and there are your relatives, your sense of self and the imposition of others.

You get to choose. You do.

It’s all relative, really.

What’s that line anyway? The one between fiction and reality?

I can’t imagine it being so thick, or very strong, if pressed.

 

 

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Filed under Change, Family, Holiday, Relationships

Seasonings

Season’s Greetings!

Happy Holidays!

Etc.

Lots of thoughts and sentiments this time of year. Most of it well-meaning, if prescriptive and stale.

(Or maybe not. But I don’t think so.)

Be thankful.

Best wishes.

Warm regards.

Do onto others.

Lots of people going to see family this time of year or, one way or another, family’s coming to see them. Which is better, or worse? For whatever it’s worth, who’s to say?

Lots of people staying put where they are, people coming to them or no, it’s time to relax, slow down a bit and recharge. Why. The. Hell. Not?

Lots places are open until midnight or beyond up until the big day. It may seem fun, or at least exciting, or at most necessary, to wander a Walmart at 2:00AM.

It probably isn’t. But ‘tis the season.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Holiday, Ritual, Words

SCM*

*Sweetened condensed milk. It’s one of those substances that I come across without looking for it or expecting it but then it’s there, in my life again.

So. Here. We. Go.

 

1. Open-Faced Sugar Margarine SCM Sandwich

A concoction of my uncle’s making:

1 Slice Any Bread (but best if white bread, the best and worst of the breads)

1 Tub Margarine

Granulated White Sugar, to taste

1 Entire Can SCM

Toast the bread so that the margarine will melt when slathered generously (basically obscenely) over bread. Burn bread, a little, for texture, if desired.

Sprinkle (OK, dump) sugar onto toast.

More slathering, this time of the ENTIRE CAN of SCM onto toast/margarine/sugar.

There. You’re done.

Enjoy?

Diabetic shock.

Enjoy!

 

2. Snack Time

I have a friend who loves SCM so much, there’s basically no stopping him from consuming every last ounce of it every time he gets his hands on it. His indulgent parents (I love them too) sometimes serve him some, especially when he’s feeling down.

They feed him from a saucer. Like a cat. There is often a spoon.

The below is mostly true.

He’ll eat it from the can, he’ll eat it from the saucer, he’ll eat it from a tube (SCM occasionally comes in tube form – easier access maybe? Faster consumption?). He’ll eat it at the table, reclined on a chair, sitting cross-legged on the rug.

(The above was mostly true.)

It never lasts long, the SCM. It’s always gone so fast.

To my friend’s credit, he offers me some every time. But I can’t partake, not of someone else’s pure, unadulterated bliss like that.

There are limits to what we do share and what we should.

 

3. Longevity Forever

There is only one “true” brand of SCM for me, and that’s Longevity Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (Lait Concentré Sucré/Sūa Ôg Tho).

Google it.

The logo features Shou, the Chinese deity for Longevity:

“According to legend, he was carried in his mother’s womb for ten years before being born, and was already an old man when delivered. He is recognized by his high, domed forehead and the peach which he carries as a symbol of immortality. The longevity god is usually shown smiling and friendly, and he may sometimes be carrying a gourd filled with the elixir of life.”

Or so says Wikipedia. Emphasis added, for affect.

Immortality. Elixir of life. SCM.

Go ahead. Treat yourself.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Family, Food, Friends

La Chasse Aux Canards

Growing up, my parents, my mother especially, periodically had fits of home improvement that often manifested in schemes to re-decorate the house.

One time, it was all new lamps (i.e. all the lamps in the house, replaced, with new ones).

One time, they let my aunt’s idiotic boyfriend spray-paint the kitchen cabinets so that they looked like stone – the dark grey textured type you’d find inside derelict amusement park rides (jungle themed or the like), or a poorly drawn cartoon.

One time, they decided paint was passé and wallpapered all the bedrooms, including mine.

My parents. They were (and remain) the “Children are meant to be seen and not heard” type. Which meant they picked out the wallpaper and did not consult us or take any protest on our part either seriously or at all. Which was fine with my siblings and I because we’d long resigned ourselves to living in a cramped house with loud tastes where everything, invariably, clashed. An amusement park ride, of sorts, of its very own.

You had to laugh. You just had to.

They wallpaper my parents picked out for me had dogs on it, at least.

“You like dogs. I got you dogs,” my mom said. “There,” she said, a word with as much finality in our house as, “So, there” or “The End.”

I did like dogs (I do). And was actually surprised that my mom had made such a concession in her decorating on my behalf.

Except. Interspersed with the dogs (a trio of spotted hounds) across the beige and brown background of the wallpaper were long cattail reeds, ducks in various stages of flight and men with guns. Muskets, actually.

A duck hunt frozen mid-frame repeated ad nauseam and plastered across the four walls of my bedroom. I would not have known what to do with such a scene – such a substance as that wallpaper – had I known beforehand that it even existed. But then, just like that, it was in my life and would remain so until we moved from the house, many years later.

I often think about my childhood bedroom as a sanctuary (I had a lock on the door and was generally left alone when in there). But then I remember the wallpaper and remind myself that freedom can be as much a luxury as it is a joke. Concessions can be their own intrusions, dogs or no.

There were men on my wall shooting at ducks.

Sometimes I imagined the ducks got away; other times the dogs or men got them. Eventually, I learned not to see men or ducks or dogs and just let the wallpaper be wallpaper.

Come to think of it: I never thanked my parents for the wallpaper. A part of me thinks that that’s only fair, but then we were never talking about fair, not here or anywhere even remotely close to it.

Were we?

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Birds, Change, Family, THE PAST

Picture of Health

The dietician called me in a half hour before my doctor’s appointment because we “needed to talk.” I say the dietician instead of my dietitian because every time I go to see the dietician for my health program they send me to a different dietician.

This dietician, was a dietician I had not yet met. She seemed solid, serious but also nervous (it was in her eyes). She sat me down in her office, equipped, I was surprised to see, with wide, generous windows and room enough for a table, functional chairs and a large desk.

(I have been in professor’s offices that were little more than storage closets, little less than repurposed cloakrooms.)

“We’re here today because your husband emailed us on your behalf.” There were, she went on, issues he wanted me to discuss with the dietician, a dietician, which today was this dietician. The whole thing was wildly conspiratorial, especially since I know my partner did not (and would not) go behind my back and rat me out, least of all to the/a/this dietician. Anyone.

Whoever that patient was, she was not me, a patient but not the patient under scrutiny.

I asked the dietician to check my file again.

I was right: I was not the patient she thought I was.

She took a closer look at my file.

“You’re doing great!” Then before she could stop herself: “Why are you even here?”

Why? Indeed!

I was then shuffled over to the doctor’s office (not so big or generous of windows, but it had a better view and a larger desk), and was told by this doctor (there are two) that she was “actually not too unhappy” with my progress.

I was then sent on my way, back out to the ether only to have to come back to see them again in a few weeks.

Them, they, whomever they happen to be that day.

Wonder who I will be?

 

 

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Filed under City Life, Health, People, Relationships

Express Purpose

I dreamed a family reunion which took place on a magnificent train from a bygone era. All my relatives were there – dead, alive, some I recognized and some who recognized me. Didn’t seem to matter.

The train was a model built to human scale; its dimensions (if not proportions) toy-like but functional, made to serve. No other way to explain it.

It was night. There were orbs of light inside and out and the terrain was a rolling countryside as seen from the track, set firmly on the rim of a long dormant volcano.

Round and round and round we went, making excellent time getting absolutely nowhere.

I noticed. Everyone on the train looked like me, related to me or no.

“What train is this? What train is this?” I asked.

The conductor approached slowly from askance to finally stand before me in all his accustomed glory. A white man with a mustache, impeccable. Red suit, gold buttons that glimmered and shone.

“This is the Oriental Express,” he said, which enraged me.

“Then I want off this train!” Family be damned.

“The only way off this train,” he replied dryly, “is to jump.”

The only way off the racist train was to jump – to throw yourself off – its interminable tracks.

Dreams may be symbolic, but there’s nothing that says they need be subtle.

I woke up angry, somewhat relieved.

But only somewhat.

 

 

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Filed under Dreams, Family, Race, Travel