Friday, June 29, 2012

Pushing Off the Rock with Floppy

Well, of course there are many rock bottoms in a life, and none of us miss getting a few. I'm rebounding from one right now, and today was maybe the beginning of a better time.

It started this morning when five golden vultures arrived at my house and perched on my Dodge Neon. The leader said his name was "Floppy."

EXHIBIT A: FLOPPY



So I said, "Okay, birds, we are going to a Druid Ritual at Bodine Field in Wharton State Forest. Any of you know where that is?"

They all did, of course. So I trusted them to draw me an excellent set of instructions and then fly ahead to make sure I was on the right course.

Everything was going swell until we got into spitting distance of Wharton State Forest. Then the bunch of them got scent of some big ol' deer that got winged and not flattened. They flew off and left me stranded with no map and vague directions that I copied down because my printer doesn't work.

I got all turned around and finally wound up at the Jersey Shore. (When you live in New Jersey, you quickly learn that all roads lead to the Jersey Shore eventually.) I've got a bitchin' great season beach pass for Ventnor/Margate, which is just south of Atlantic City. I went for a swim.

So, after being battered and flattened myself by the rough surf, I sprawled in my beach chair and told my sad story to a couple of Bonaparte gulls. Trust me, reader, seagulls are not vultures. Those gulls were eyeballing the goodies I meant to take to Druid Grove but was instead trying not to get sand in while I ate them myself. No self-respecting vulture would eat a slice of ciabatta bread. I had to beat the gulls away with a towel.

On my way home on the Atlantic City Expressway, I discovered that Floppy and his four comrades were following my car. We wound up back here at Chateau Johnson. I flung open the trash cans for them, because those doggone vultures were more of a lift than any other bored gods could ever be.

To all who sent me vultures, especially Floppy, blessed be.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rock Bottom

I'm at Rock Bottom.

It's not a place, it's a state of mind.

My life has been pretty blessed in terms of Rock Bottoms. The last one I had was 1977. At that time, all I needed to do was get the hell out of Dodge. Which I did, and I slept three days straight at my family farm.

This time I have obligations to other people, and I'm not doing a very good job of performing them. My daughters have had to parent me, because at Rock Bottom it's hard to interact well with others.

I've actually been sliding toward Rock Bottom for three weeks, but I still didn't see the rock at the bottom. Being an optimist, I've been trying to weasel my way out of it and look on the bright side.

Sometimes there just isn't a bright side.

You know who you find at Rock Bottom? All the scary, horrific bored deities who want to devour your soul and put you in some dreary afterworld. Can't even give these Types a graham cracker or a glass of iced tea. I don't want to hang with Them. It's not how I roll.

Therefore I will try to claw my way out of Rock Bottom by petitioning bored deities of every sort to come to my emotional rescue.

Send me vultures. Send me many vultures.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The "Greatest Class" Comes Unglued

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," and your host, Annie. I'm a school teacher off for the summer. Today I'm enjoying the luxury of having nothing to do but blog and laundry.

I have two daughters, The Heir and The Spare. I got the idea for their names from Princess Diana's two boys. Some Brits call Wills and Harry "The heir and the spare."

Both Heir and Spare graduated from the same high school, Snobville Memorial High. When Heir graduated four years ago, her class was hailed as "the greatest class" ever to come through the school.

(I had to wonder about that, because the Monkey Man went to that school. He graduated in 1960, which was probably a greater year.)

June 19 was Spare's turn to graduate, and once again her class was lauded as "the greatest class" ever to come out of the school. Well, you can make a compelling case. There's not a single Ivy League school that isn't getting at least one Snobville graduate. The valedictorian (a math whiz) will be going to Princeton and is so like "A Beautiful Mind" that it's freakin scary. The class president got a full scholarship to Rutgers, independent of financial need. Someone is going to West Point.

Trouble is, there's a dark underbelly to these high-performing schools in towns made up mostly of extremely wealthy families.

For the past five years, the local PTA has paid for a post-graduation party at the Snobville Country Club. (You can imagine how posh a country club in Snobville would be.) This post-graduation party costs the graduates nothing, not a penny. There's a DJ and great raffle items, like Xboxes and mini fridges and gift certificates. All paid for out of PTA money and donations.

The rationale behind this party is that it would keep the students from going out after graduation and getting drunk, high, or both, and having a tragic accident.

There were no breathalizers at the door of the party.

More than half the students arrived drunk and, by virtue of flasks, got drunker still at the party. Midway through the evening, students began to stagger and vomit. Someone puked on the dance floor. One student had to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance when he aspirated his vomit. The policemen on duty were the same ones who had taught this class about drinking and drugs back in fifth grade.

Spare doesn't drink, and I don't think she had ever seen a true drunken party. She came home so dismayed that, after speaking about it for ten minutes, said she didn't want to talk about it any more. When I asked her to show me which kids were drinking by using her yearbook, she said it would take too long, because mostly everyone was drinking except her friends. (She runs with the Ivy League crowd.)

Snobville has an ugly history of teenage drinking. Heir lost two classmates to drinking/drug use, including a boy who jumped off the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

What is it that drives these kids to such extremes?

I imagine that part of it is biochemical, because, after all, alcohol is a drug, and many kids medicate depression and anxiety with alcohol. Every high school in the country has its drinkers and its stoners.

However, in the case of Snobville, I think there's an extra stress load. High-achieving parents are either not home much, or they demand excellence from their kids to maintain their financial status. It's like this: Where do you go but down if your parents are millionaires but not gazillionaires? We aren't talking one percent here, or if we are, it's the newly-minted and insecure one percenters. Students are pressured to keep the money flowing into the family bloodstream. The absentee parents are probably trying to haul in enough money to maintain the blood flow if Junior turns out to be average.

Spare has hosted more than six big parties here at our little Snobville house on the wrong side of town. Six parties in one year. When she finally asked me for a big graduation party, I was flabbergasted. I said, "Ten of these kids on this invite list live in mansions. Why are we throwing the parties?"

She said, "Mostly their parents don't give a shit, and the rest of the parents don't want kids in their houses."

Message to rich parents who don't give a shit: The sound of smart kids playing charades in a tiny back yard is priceless.  Too late, you missed that. And having a warm and caring relationship with your flesh-and-blood is absolutely priceless. Too late, you missed that too.

Would you rather struggle financially and have a close and loving relationship with your kids, or rake in the bucks and hardly see Junior from week to week?

I had a very hard-working student at my school this year, an African American kid with a caring mom. One day he stayed after school on Friday to finish an assignment. When he was done, I said, "What are you going to do on the weekend?"

He said, "My mom and I usually drive around and look at the big houses in C**** H**** and Snobville. She wants me to live in one some day."

I told him, "If you and she could walk inside one of those houses and see what really happens there, you would save a lot of gas."

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Graduation 2012

Today I drive to Baltimore to fetch my mother-in-law. My sister is arriving in her own car, with her new adopted son and possibly her dog (although I asked her not to bring the dog). Who knows? She might bring all three of her dogs.

I will endure this because nothing is more important to me than my daughter The Spare, she who has enlivened my life for years with her comedy and her bright personality.

Spare, I'm walking the extra mile for you. I love you, and I'm proud that you were given your school's first-ever Technology Department award.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Spare Johnson, Snobville Memorial High School, Class of 2012.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Every Happy Dictator Should have a Mommy and a Daddy

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," and welcome to Anniebolic Steroid Anne! GrrrrrRRRRRrrrrr!

How angry am I? I've been blackballed from Anger Management classes!

Just kidding. But I am just. a. bit. out. of. the. sweetness. and. light. place.

I am an absolute sucker for people sticking their hands out for money. I have finally controlled the urge to give to the Knights of Columbus and the Salvation Army, but quite often I'll drop a dollar into a jar for a cause I know nothing about.


Thus Spare and I were at the local grocery emporium the other day, in a big ol' hurry, and there was a guy asking for change and handing out orange bookmarks. Never saw the guy, never heard of his outfit --New Jersey Council for Children's Rights. Children's rights? Well, everyone's in favor of children's rights ... oh ... except for genocidal dictators, those kind of vermin. So I dropped 27 cents into the jar.

The guy gave Spare a bookmark, saying, "You might need this." (Nope. Graduating on Tuesday.)

We got into the car, and Spare said, "Oh, crap! Look at this thing!"

There was a graphic of a little kid, with each hand being held by an unseen adult. "Because every child needs a mommy and a daddy."

Time to call Anniebolic Steroid Anne!

Last night when I ran into the store to get a bottle of olive oil, the dude wasn't around. So I scattered the change on the sidewalk. Hey, a kid has a right to a candy bar ... wasn't much more money in there than that.

Today I sat down with a little challenge. The kind of thing a school teacher can do in the summertime.

Here are some folks who grew up in traditional two-parent families (that being a mommy and daddy):

Adolf Hitler
Josef Stalin
Mao Zedong
Pol Pot
Mussolini
Emperor Hirohito

Fidel Castro did grow up in a single-parent household. Small potatoes compared to our nice, stable list above.

Granted, I did use Wikipedia, which I usually don't. But even if one or two of those dudes didn't deserve their Wiki press, that's still a pretty jaw-dropping load of genocidal maniacs.

I didn't even start on the serial killers, your basic Jeffrey Dahmers and Ted Bundys.

Suffice it to say that many children who got in the way of the group above had their rights (and their lives) snatched from them in an untimely and unsavory manner.

So, Anniebolic Anne made up a little list of these heartless dictators and went back to the store. First, she asked for her 27 cents back (even though she spilled more than that on the pavement yesterday). Then she informed the dude (same guy) that oftentimes children are far better served if one parent removes them from the daily battering and abuse of the other (personal experience).

I gave him back the book mark and said, "You are basically slapping the faces of a third of the people who walk into this store."

He asked if he could keep the list. I graciously allowed him to do so.

Then he asked if I had ever read the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Good news! I didn't punch him.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Granddad's diary

On this warm and sunny day in 1937, Granddad and his family visited Uncle Elmer. Then Granddad and my dad and my uncle Floyd went to children's church.

I suppose my grandmother was pregnant, because so far there's no mention of Uncle Richard.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Holding pattern

My cousin cleaned out our family farmhouse. He sent me a few things:

1. Watch repair books that belonged to my grandfather (payed forward to a watch repairman)
2. My grandfather's notebooks from his year at Shippensburg Normal School in 1923.
3. The Bibles my grandparents used for their devotions. (thrown away, they were really moldy)
4. Granddad's daily diaries from 1933 to 1947. (not as moldy somehow)

Wow! A treasure trove of family diaries, from the grandparent I loved the most!

Except for one thing.

Almost all he wrote about was the weather. My grandfather was a weather freak. In his old age he found immense comfort in a newfangled thing called The Weather Channel. He watched it for hours at a time.

While I'm sorting through my life, I think it will be fun to post some of Granddad's diary entries here, just in case anyone in my family ever cares about life in Artemas, PA 17211.


On June 12, 1937 it was fair and warm in Artemas, PA. My grandfather took his family to Uncle Sam's in the morning. Granddad, Uncle Floyd, and my dad went to church at Mt. Hope in the evening. Dad and Floyd spent the night with their uncle Earl. Granddad stayed with his cousin, Palmer Robinette. His wife stayed over with her uncle Sam. Earl cut his arm pretty bad.



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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Hiatus

"The Gods Are Bored" will be on hiatus for an undetermined amount of time. Please, dear friends, check out our extensive Archives -- 1774 posts! Do leave your silly comment on the 2005 "Science (Not Creation) Proves Fairies Exist." Otherwise, please roam. I love you all.

PS - I am giving away a nearly-new box of The Faerie Oracle cards and guidebook. I will send it to the first person who emails me their address. My email is on the profile page for the blog.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Liberation Theology

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Unseasonably cool here in the Great Blue Northeast just now. I will take it!

This is the magic time of year when school teachers everywhere take down student work and start pinning newspapers over their bulletin boards. What a fabulous rite of passage! Can a realistic sleeping schedule be right around the corner?

Anyway, as I was plastering up the newsprint, I saw a story from the New York Times in which it states that the Christian Right wants to malign Obama for his association with "liberation theology." Apparently liberation theology is big among African American Christians and is considered ... oh, hell, I don't know what it's considered amongst the Christian Right, because anything nasty they say about it will send them straight to Hell.

Before I became a school teacher, I was a writer -- mostly reference books. I was asked to contribute entries to this huge project called the Catholic Encyclopedia. Mind you, I was never Catholic, but I could write to a deadline.

And speaking of dead, those were mostly the people I was asked to write about: priests and nuns who were murdered for their ties to liberation theology. Some of these martyrs (for that is what the RC church considers them) are being considered for sainthood. Which they damn well deserve more than the crooked bunch running the Vatican these days!

Liberation theology is the radical idea that everyone, including the government, should be deeply concerned with the plight of the poor. You may have missed it, but Jesus Christ is on record as being a champion of the destitute and the undesirable, going so far as to suggest that these poor folks might sail into Heaven while the rich ones won't.

The Catholic martyrs I wrote about were mostly young religious people who incited demonstrations and other nonviolent peasant uprisings in Third World Latin America, in an effort to stop exploitation of cheap labor and wholesale oppression of the lower classes. I admired these dudes. (Most, but not all, were dudes.) I think they had the stuff that martyrs are made of.

I would ask Jesus to come here for an interview about liberation theology, but He's too busy. Try pinning him down! Even his own followers can't find him.

So, here in a nutshell, is my untutored view of liberation theology:

It's a good thing. We should take care of the poor. There will always be poor people among us, but we should take care of them anyway. People who ignore or dismiss poor people, for whatever reason, cannot truly call themselves Christians.

My sister-in-law told me that the robes the Cardinals wear at the Vatican cost $30,000 apiece. Chew on that one awhile and ask yourself if those martyred priests in Colombia and Argentina are going to hold open the Pearly Gates for their church's bureaucrats.

As for the Christian Right ... they're not.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A Land Called Fantasy

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," running amok with the faeries since 2005! Bring all your deities, and we'll have a picnic! Hurry up, though. I'm running out of my last jar of Marzetti slaw dressing, and I can't seem to find it in the stores anymore. Please, Gods, give me Marzetti!

Now there's a prayer that just might get answered.

If you're one of the three or four readers who come here frequently, you might have guessed that I had something like a crisis over the past weekend. It's too personal for a blog, having to do with serious matters of the heart. But let me tell you -- I felt your energy keeping me afloat. I only had one really bad moment, and that was when I was alone in my classroom. Otherwise you would have been proud of me. And while the situation is not exactly settled to my satisfaction, it is at least a little less freighted than it was.

Therefore, let us move onward and downward in classic "Gods Are Bored" fashion!

I've trashed, maligned, berated, and heaped disdain upon the Dominionist movement since I first heard about it. Nary a single troll in that loathsome company has slithered from under his bridge to challenge me. But the minute I started in on the Mormons ... oh boy. Always a sensitive lot, they're even more defensive than usual in this particular election cycle.

A recent troll took issue with my bafflement over the LDS position on masturbation (hereafter known in this blog as "turtle dove love"). I think in a nutshell that serious followers of this faith must have to use industrial strength scrub brushes in certain anatomical regions, just to keep hand from touching flesh.

I had forgotten what the troll pointed out. This stricture stems from the fantasies that accompany turtle dove love. These fantasies are sinful and lead to doom and destruction.

Once I read somewhere that the average male thinks about sex every three minutes. If that is the case, then being a Mormon must be hell on earth. Mind control that the CIA can only dream about. Imagine that the only time you can think about sex is when you are contemplating or undertaking coitus with the exhausted wife who has already borne you six children! What a way to live! I'd rather be an earthworm.

I'm not afraid to use myself as an Exhibit A here, even though I'm a woman. I have fantasized about every sort of sex except sadistic or pedophilia. I'm a lady of a certain age, so lots and lots of stuff has crossed my mind. Paul Newman, turtle dove lover! House painter home from college for the summer ... turtle dove lover!  Great big orgy of good-looking people, all sharing the bounty? Wheee! I think about it. Haven't ever done it. Seriously, does this harm anyone, just thinking about it?

Anticipating the troll, I will add the LDS stance on this. If you imagine "doing it" with someone you actually know, this can lead to really doing it, which must be a far greater sin than turtle dove loving. My counter argument for this is pretty simple, really.

The savvy turtle dove lover applies higher consciousness to the situation.

Higher consciousness is that little bug in your ear that warns you to keep it in the turtle dove realm. It's the sensible little something that reminds you of your home and hearth, that weighs the consequences. I can't decide whether Mormons are totally lacking this skill, or whether they have honed it to such perfection that they've robbed themselves of the need for it. Either way, their lives must be dull and difficult. And sadly fraught with shame.

As Exhibit A I will plead the Fifth on my own personal life except to say that turtle dove love has kept me out of trouble, it's kept my family to a manageable size, and it's sex with someone I love.

I got that last line from Woody Allen. It's a keeper.

Have a warm and wonderful "Gods Are Bored" day!

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Friday, June 01, 2012

The Bitter Pill

At springtime Rituals, I'm fond of saying, "If not for the dark of winter, would we really appreciate the bright, new spring?"

Of course this would make no sense to someone from the tropics (as many bored deities have pointed out to me), but to those of us in the nether regions of the Hemispheres, we "get it."

Without the bad, would we appreciate the good? Without the worst, would we shrug off the best?

Life gives us bitter pills to swallow sometimes. Gotta gulp 'em down. One of the most foul-tasting pills is quinine -- but forgo it in malaria country, and you'll be toast.

Then again, some bitter pills actually are poison. It's best to ponder deeply before you pop anything. Ask yourself what the consequences of that bitter pill will be. Will it make you better or worse? Will it kill you or make you more vibrant? Will it ease pain or increase it?

The bitter pill in our lives can be uncertainty. Uncertainty must be swallowed bravely, because it's going down your gullet whether you want it or not.

Without uncertainty, would we enjoy living in the moment? I think not. And I'm big on those live-in-the-moment experiences.

Take that tough, bitter pill. The sun will come out another day, and it will feel so good.