Monday, December 16, 2002

Shots Rang Out, As Shots Are Wont To Do

I'm having this stream-of-consciousness kind of day, where my mind is not grabbing on to things as I think it should... it's just meandering through the woods, babbling over the stones, gurgling around the inlets, shot through with tiny golden fish, littered with leaves and dead bugs.



Ontological Brunch

I feel so European just now... I'm eating double-cream Champignon for breakfast (it's like brie, but with mushrooms; apparently when you infuse brie with something else, such as champignons, it becomes transmogrified into that other thing). Of course, I'm eating breakfast well after lunchtime, and I am eating my brie on Pepperidge Farm's English Water crackers instead of a nice crusty baguette, but you get the idea.



I have often wondered whether or not I am the only person in the world who counts meals by which order they are eaten, rather than by which objects are eaten or at what time of day they are presented. Many people would consider cheese and crackers in the afternoon to be lunch, or at least a snack. But since it's the first food I've eaten today, I consider myself perfectly justified in calling it breakfast. I often love having scrambled eggs and bacon for dinner, too, sometimes as late as midnight (which would, techincally, make it "supper"). And yesterday, not only did I have my breakfast at 1 pm (after church, and I had French toast with sausage), but I ate my lunch (capered chicken salad left over from Friday's visit to Tahoe Joe's where my eyes had been considerably bigger than my stomach, but not nearly as big as the mouths of the people at the next table) at around 9 p.m. I therefore didn't eat dinner at all, which I'm sure counts as "dieting."



On the other hand, there are exceptions... for example, a sandwich is always lunch, no matter when or in what order you eat it. If I had gone around the corner to the sandwich shop and ordered my usual turkey on dark rye with everything, even if I had not touched a drop of food in the last twenty-four hours and certainly not since I last woke up, I would consider that "lunch." If I had a grilled cheese with tomato soup before going to bed at midnight, it would be "lunch." I don't know why that is. Pizza for breakfast, pancakes for dinner, I don't care... but a sandwich at 3 a.m. or 6 p.m. or the 12th of Never can only be lunch. Also, anything you eat between three and five, whether it's a burger or a petit-four or a strychnine tablet, is "tea."



It's my ontology... it doesn't have to make sense.



Pinkies Extended

I wonder why drinking coffee out of a cup-and-saucer feels so much daintier and classier than drinking it out of a mug? I further wonder why I don't drink coffee out of a cup-and-saucer more often, considering how much I enjoy it.



Gramminer Goin' a Coggo

Grandmother claims that, when I was little, I pronounced her name as "Gramminer." I'm not sure I believe her. She also claims that I pronounced Chicago as "Coggo," but I can't even imagine knowing what Chicago was at that age, nor therefore why I would discuss it at all. Apparently, my cousin Michael and I would play with Matchbox and Hotwheel cars on the borders of the living room carpet (when I was little, the carpet was a geometric and maplike Turkish pattern, instead of the floral Persian we have today), and that when we left the carpet we were "Goin' a Coggo." I think my cousin Michael told me that this Coggo was the farthest away one could go (it was certainly the furthest he had been at that age). But I maintain that I was given corrupt information, not that I myself corrupted the pronunciation. Another one that Grandmother often recalls is my pronunciation of "heckticopter" for helicopter... and I do believe that one, because I still think it's a more ringing word, with the quite descriptive word "hectic" contained within, and just that touch of onomatopoeia to give it authority.



I suspect sometimes that Grandmother is so enchanted by infantile behavior that she projects it where it doesn't belong. I am quite sure that enunciation has always been a priority to me... I have a distinct memory of teaching my sister the proper pronunciation of "spaghetti" (to this day, children saying "busketty" drives me insane). I also have a memory of demanding someone explain to me why the city of San Jose (where my aunt lives) was pronounced "Sanozay" when that was not how it was spelled (and after receiving the explanation, that it was a Spanish name, I have always carefully pronounced the Hispanic "J" with all of its aspiration and elegance).



But then, this is the mythology I accept about myself. I don't believe Grandmother's enchanted tales of my childhood garbles... but I am more than willing to believe my Mother's much-more-likely-to-be-fictional accounts of my first year of life. According to Mother, I never babbled, that my first words were a complete sentence. She also claims that I potty-trained myself and taught myself to walk, and all of this before I was one year old. I accept these assertions without question, because they fit with the image I have of myself... even knowing that my mother's relationship with the truth is tenuous at best. I mean, I have no memory of my childhood before about three years of age (the first time I saw my father without a beard, and about the time my parents divorced, though I don't know which came first or if they were related phenomena), so this could all be an elaborate fiction.



But still, I'm fairly sure I never called Grandmother "Gramminer." That just doesn't fit in. I believe, in fact, that it was the necessity of saying something as polysyllabic and fricative as Gran-d-moth-er at an early age (when most children are allowed to fudge with a Granny or Gramma or, shudder, Nana) that assisted me in being so well-spoken as a child. That, and the fact that I was the prissiest little queen of a child you ever saw, and would therefore have to overenunciate everything.



O, Sodom!

At church yesterday, the sermon centered on the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Early on, the minister stated that the sin of Sodom was, indeed, homosexuality and other sexual immorality, and that homosexuality was a sin. I spent the entire sermon with my arms crossed and my lips clenched in a thin and dangerous line. Grandmother didn't dare to so much as steal a glance at me to see how I was taking it, and spent the whole time looking straight forward, frozen, not at all unlike Lot's Wife. I considered leaving... in fact, I considered standing up (all six-foot-three of me), slinging my fawn Nautica trenchcoat over my shoulders, and stalking out, making as big a Margot Channing moment of it as I could in order to embarrass Grandmother and announce to the congragation that I was having none of this crap. But it wasn't Grandmother's fault, the congregation probably wouldn't have noticed me, and if they did they would smirk knowingly to themselves that the Damned cannot hear the Word of God... and I was, on a certain level, curious to see where the sermon went.



It was actually kind of interesting. And the minister did take time out of his piety to note (with his usual hammering and repetitive sincerity) that the sin of homosexuality does not excuse the sins of hatred, anger, violence, or murder in Christian hearts... that the sins of heterosexual adultery and fornication, of theft, of idolatry, of covetousness are just as heinous, and therefore homosexuality should not be treated any differently; and further that Christian men and women are not empowered to punish such sinners (that is God's prerogative) and not allowed by God to hate anyone. He took and advocated the Love the Sinner stance, and even left off the usual Hate the Sin tagline.



But the bottom line was that God's justice is not Man's justice, and even when we wish something weren't a sin, no matter how much we want God to not damn our friends and family for the sin of homosexuality, the Law is the Law. And that by compromising with sin, by living among sinners and accepting their sin as "cultural differences" or "progress", one commits Lot's error in living in Sodom... that by living among and accepting sinners, you cannot be untouched by sin, and may (like Lot's Wife) become so enamored of the sins and the sinners that you become damned along with them.



I think that got Grandmother pondering on her relationship with me. I mean, she's practically living in Downtown Sodom with me in the house... in many ways our current mutually beneficial relationship would not be possible if I weren't homosexual. Would a straight man be able to help her style her hair, help her shop for clothes and accessories, help her choose feminine hygiene products at the drugstore? Would a straight man feel perfectly comfortable waiting with her as she has a mammogram? (Okay, not perfectly comfortable... I have a sort of phobia about boobs) Would a straight man feel quite so complacent hanging out with an old woman all of the time? I somehow don't think so.



So to put her mind at ease on this topic, I challenged her belief system over brunch/breakfast/whatever at the Buttercup Kitchen, whither we had repaired after church and before plunging into the housewares department of K-mart to find a three-quart Revere double-boiler on sale. We discussed many topics of interpretation, such as the current hot-button issue in her congregation of women's participation in the church services.



See, recently there was a big study-and-discussion-and-interpretation movement to include women in more of the church's services... and the first fruit of that movement is women serving communion with the men. Grandmother is so scandalized by this that she doesn't know where to look when the Communion Prayers are said and the trays are passed around.



This is one of my main talking-points with her, because she knows exactly where in the bible it says that women should sit down and shut up during church services (I Corinthians 14:34 - "As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says." ) On this I point out that the context is regarding Speaking in Tongues... which her church does not do nor even believe. On top of this, just three chapters earlier, it quite clearly states that women must cover their heads when praying, or else shave their heads. Since Grandmother feels she looks silly in a hat, but would look much sillier bald, this is especially persuasive.



I explained to her that there are hundreds and hundreds of passages in the bible that have been glossed over by changing times. The silence of women, in Roman Greece where women were not educated and had no rights whatever, would be recommended... for these Greek women (Corinth was a Greek city, dedicated to Aphrodite and famous for its licentiousness) and Hebrew women might envy the freedoms of their more liberated Roman counterparts, and wish to ignorantly take part in the public Church.



The next obvious step in my spiel was going back to Leviticus where the Bible points out in no uncertain terms that homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God (Leviticus 18:21-23); however, there are lots and lots of other things which are also abominations... and these are things that are completely ignored by modern-day Christians and the more liberal Jews as well. Leaving an animal sacrifice uneaten for more than three days (that is, storing the food for later use) is an abomination. Any foods that do not qualify for the kosher diet are abominations. Mildew in your house, running sores of any kind, and other such are also abominations and will make you ritually unclean.



Furthermore, Christ himself supposedly said (according to Paul, whom I suspect greatly and who never even met Christ) that He was the New Covenant, and that the old covenant was therefore null (if possibly advisory, which is why the Old Testament is included). This passage is used to excuse us from circumcision, kosher foods, and animal sacrifice... but why just those things? Should it not also excuse us from all of the other Old Testament strictures?



Grandmother didn't have an answer for all of that. But then, neither do I. I don't even believe in the Bible, especially the Epistles, I think Paul set out to turn a small cult into a world religion for whatever reason, and that subsequent leaders arranged the books of the New Testament to support the creation of the Catholic Church. I'm not even sure what I think about Jesus Christ, whether he was anything other than a guru; I don't wish to committ myself against the possibility, and I do believe in many of His teachings (as related in the Gospels). But the Old Testament and the Epistles I definitely do not believe.



I personally think that the whole concept of Hebrew Laws were meant to preserve a nomadic race in an inhospitable environment. Most kosher food strictures outlaw foods that are really quite dangerous to eat, especially in a hot climate and desert ecosystems. In an environment like that, mildew could turn deadly, and running sores are contagious. Furthermore, during the Egyptian and Babylonian captivities, the Jews were living cheek-by-jowl with people whose cultures were wildly different from their own... for the Nation of Israel to survive such contact, they must keep themselves separate. Some other food strictures (such as boiling a kid in its dam's milk, the genesis of the meat-must-not-touch-dairy kosher rule) are direct references to Egyptian and Babylonian delicacies.



And the laws regarding sexual behaviors would be absolutely essential in countries whose sexual practices and religious practices were so closely intertwined. I mean, what about the stricture of a man dressing in the garments of a woman? If you look at historical evidence, the difference between male Hebrew garb and female was slight if any, pretty much a layered look with full-length tunics and cloaks. However, both Egypt and Babylon had transvestite temple prostitutes all over the place. And then, sexual behavior that does not result in children (remember the sin of Onan, who pulled out of his wife at the crucial moment and spilled his seed on the ground, and was struck dead without so much as a how-do-you-do) would certainly be a taboo - when so few children survived infancy, it would be a cultural imperative to keep having as many children as possible to keep the raw numbers high.



In sum, as far as I can see, the Abominations were all about survival of the race and the culture, and have nothing to do with modern life or Christian theology. This was all over Grandmother's head, and she was pretty sure I was incorrect in some key text... but having introduced a doubt of why she believes what she believes, I gave Grandmother a headache and she no longer worried whether or not she was committing Lot's Error by having a drag queen in her house. My work here is done.



Monsoon Shopping

I don't understand why so many people are out on the roads in this weather. I went out on Saturday to do some Christmas shopping, and God's Own Fury was lashing out all over the Bay Area... yet every road was crowded, every store was jammed, every restaurant had waiting lists out the door. Why don't people just fucking stay at home? I mean, I wouldn't be out driving in all that chaos if I could avoid it at all. Of course, perhaps they wouldn't, either... and are just as anxious as I to get the shopping done sooner rather than later, for who knows if the weather will get worse by Christmas?



At any rate, rain or no rain I managed to get most of my shopping done on Saturday. Caroline and I went to Costco, and I found all sorts of interesting things there at really good prices, and so got prezzies for my father, my nephew, my cousin Jamie and her husband, my aunt Terry, and the outgoing bookkeeper here at work. I even got a nice black sweater for myself. Then after taking Caroline to work, I went shopping up and down Piedmont Avenue, where I snagged gifts for my aunt Judy, my sister, my niece, my sponsor, Miss Daisy, and again something for myself (four blown-glass peacock tree ornaments with real peacock-feather tails).



Then yesterday, after the K-mart Terror (we found the pot Grandmother wanted as well as a couple of other things, then waited in line for half an hour or more, then got home and discovered that the pan was malformed and the lid didn't fit, so I have to take it back sometime), I got on the computer and sent gifts to my far-away family (my mother and her brood as well as the abovementioned cousin Michael) from Harry & David. Online shopping is so much more civilized... but tends to be rather more expensive.



Now I have to get something for my cousin Kellie, her two children, my coworker, Shiloh, and Grandmother (I know what I'm getting for her, a tea-kettle shaped like a rooster, but I have to actually go and get it). Also a little something for my coworker's baby, who is being baptised this weekend, and a few little something for the Galaxy Girls, and then boxes of candy for my box-stuffers and the cleaning lady and the landlord here at the office. And then I'll be done!



But will the weather be done? I hope so. Winter isn't supposed to come this early, here. It's supposed to be sunny on Christmas Day. But then, the only thing you can predict about the weather in the Bay Area is that you can't predict it.



Anyway, Happy Monday to you all! Here's a little something, a nice Magus and Mount from the Abercrombie & Fitch Creche Set (available at an overpriced suburban mall near you):



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