Monday, June 12, 2006
For a few years, I went to a non-denominational church with my parents when they decided to give religion a try. The church started out pretty middle of the road (despite the fact we were taught that humanism was evil in Sunday School, it was a liberal free-wheeling place). As a few seasons went by, we lost preacher after preacher due to no money in our small town and ended up with almost no congregation and a preacher named Art. Art seemed kind of average, working on his Ph.D. (he was on year fifteen) and had a wife, two kids. Then Art took a turn and started to try to liven up his preaching by talking about how great sex was with his wife ("You don't know Patsy like I know Patsy and we have super sex!"). If you'd seen Patsy, you would understand how truly frightening this statement was. He also determined that all steeples were evil (phallic symbols) and needed to be chopped down. All righty! There we were in a circle with an ax, our small steeple on the ground, receiving symbolic chops from the remaining church members. Someone shared during testimonial that a demonically-possessed squirrel had entered their home. My daddy rolled his eyes and said, This is it. We drove away, the steeple still outside the church on the ground, my daddy muttering about how it looked like some kind of godforsaken dog grave. We drove past Art and Patsy's van, plastered with pro-life stickers and about twenty years past running. I smiled and thought that how happy I was for that demon-squirrel. Sometimes that's all it takes to get you out of something that sucks.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"You don't know me, but you don't like me, say you care less how I feel. Who are you to sit and judge me? Have you ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?" Dwight Yoakum
1 Dr. Pepper
1 shot of spiced rum
Serve over crushed ice.
Benedictions and Maledictions
Thank you, lovely and beautiful Robin, dear friend and talented writer, for the insightful question from yesterday: What did you learn from your early marriage?
That's a great question because I never started thinking about that time in my life until I started writing the blog. As many people know, I don't really write much nonfiction -- I find it to be an incredibly difficult form. Weirdly enough, most of my fiction and poetry doesn't stray too far from autobiography (ie, Raymond Carver's quote about not pulling stories and poetry out of thin air). But the blog is kind of a back-door into hard parts of my life that I haven't be able to think about for a long bit of time. The time that I had a common-law marriage (meaning not church-sanctioned) wasn't a bad one -- I was young and going to graduate school and was on the mend from a sexually violent attack. At the very least, writing was giving me a way to process a lot of the things that had happened.
The simple answer for why I got married is that I was physically and emotionally afraid of being alone (suffering from what people now refer to as post-traumatic stress disorder -- know as "nervous from the service" in my hometown because of all the Vietnam Vets burdened with the panic attacks and constant level of terror that never leaves), but they why doesn't really address the question asked and in the end isn't as relevant as Robin's question. What I learned from it was that one should never sacrifice something that you can't sacrifice. The hard part of this is discernment, of course -- what can you give up to make your life better and what will deplete it? That's the battle that rages inside every person, man or woman, with every choice -- choice of career, marriage, religion and so on. I sometimes rail against marriage because I get tired of the party line that it's the only game going (much like some people feel about organized religion, an opinion I completely understand having grown up in the Bible Belt and getting pretty sick of being preached to by complete strangers.) The end of that relationship was remarkably easy for both parties --we both realized we had made a mistake and didn't make each other's lives a living hell because of it. That's grace, and I have never forgotten it.