Monday, June 12, 2006

Cooking Outside


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

Cooking Outside

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.

29 comments:

Sheila said...

your preacher talked about sex with his wife? really? creepy! hehe anyways great post today. Love the drink receipe... anything that involves dr. pepper is ALWAYS good!


sheila

Paul said...

My Cajun Queen, what a way to wake up! The demonically touched squirrel did it, man, that made me laugh. But the serious stuff, my heart goes out to you.

Blue from the C2

robin said...

Thank you, sweet M, for such a great post! I wholeheartedly agree with your comments about sacrifice and discernment. We've learned a lot about that within the past few years, haven't we? Glad you and your ex were able to part amicably. And that you eventually moved to Michigan! Enjoy the sunshine!

Love, R

Anonymous said...

Could you please call me Anonymous Rants instead of Anonynous Pants? Like your "Second Coming"--gets to the essence of Jesus for me. Forgiveness and compassion.

Anonymous said...

Willie Nelson always looks like he needs a five-day deodorant pad. Don Imus likes Dwight Yoakum, so I'll give him a pass.

Anonymous said...

Buck up cheri. Enjoy your free speech. The radical Islamic mullahs want to take it away from you. Fight like hell. Read a biography of Saint Joan of Arc.

John said...

Dear Michelle,

Another lovely post and, as with the kinder posters, my heart also goes out to you. As for the imbecilic ranter, I'm sure the plug can be pulled on him (how could it not be a him?) whenever you wish and as he probably well deserves. But if you need any positive assistance, your fans (including me) would be glad to help deal with the matter judiciously and expeditiously.

Anonymous said...

Listen to " Johnny Be Goode" by Chuck Berry.

Cheri said...

People who live and act behind a mask of identity are not taken seriously.

Cheri said...

Michelle-
Dr.Pepper and the Captain is a classic drink that all should enjoy. Captain and Dr.Pepper slurpees is far far better.

Even a man of God isn't perfect, but his followers should have been like your father and seen the insanity and perversion in his mind. I do think that men will be the end of this world.

As far as the common-law marriage, you are right- people do go for something by means of comfort and security, a way to fix the injuries on your confidence and trust.

Cindy said...

Dear Michelle,

What a bittersweet, strong post. Why are there so many vile men in the world? Luckily, there are some like your father.

xo
Cindy

robin said...

Best thing is to ignore what you don't like; children act out to get attention. When they don't get it, they usually pester someone else. It could be some old teacher who needs to retire, anyway, because he can't find anyone who'll listen to his BS anymore.

luma said...

Michelle I do not know if I understood right. Some words are as slangs and I do not understand. I think that of the difficulties of the daily one we must take off wisdom for the eventualities that can in the future appear in our life. The person who obtains to define its better god or, its religion or belief, obtains peace with more easiness. The peace is what more we want and is custoso. Happinesses! Kisses

John said...

Dear Michelle, here's a short comment to move this post off the unlucky number. Robin is probably right, but sometimes evil won't be ignored. I hope it is just some nutty has-been professor, as suggested.

Cheers to you and yours!

Anonymous said...

Do you really think 13 is an unlucky number to someone who casts spells?

Cindy said...

Michelle,

you're the powerful one in this grid, backed up by other strong women. And even John, as macho as he is, seems to support you correctly. 13 is not a bad number outside of Christian circles -- may I cast a spell on this anonymous professor, even though his sexually harrassing signature is pretty obvious.

xo
Cindy

robin said...

Looks like anonymous got what he wanted...too funny. Looking forward to the next post, Missy! Maybe a good question would be: What do you admire most about Raymond Carver's writing? I love the depth he reaches through the use of such small, simple sentences. Think I'll go write a bit, myself, now!

Love, R

Anonymous said...

Ray lived a lot and had great editors. "The Third Thing That Killed My Father Off" is his best story. Was Dummy, the main character, a victim of his social and emotional milieu, or was he the agent of his own destruction? A professor affirms the truth through the use of skill. Bring it on, Michelle.

Anonymous said...

Ray lived a lot and had great editors. "The Third Thing That Killed My Father Off" is his best story. Was Dummy, the main character, a victim of his social and emotional milieu, or was he the agent of his own destruction? A professor affirms the truth through the use of skill. Bring it on, Michelle.

Anonymous said...

Is repitition good for emphasis?

JR's Thumbprints said...

Don't know much about demonic squirrels; however, I did drink me some squirrel piss when I shouldn't have. --Jim

Anonymous said...

Pour over crushed ice.

robin said...

So, no name, what about that particular story leads you to define it as Ray's best?

Anonymous said...

The symbol of the bass pond is profound and Sophoclean in its depth.

robin said...

I agree with the Sophoclean symbolism. I'd say that depth of that nature comes more from life experience than from editing. My favorite: "So Much Water So Close To Home." Always reminds me of my ex when I read it and how proud I am for choosing to leave.

Michelle's Spell said...

Also love that story very much, Robin! The long version is the best one, the one where she stands up for herself at the end! I love how good Carver is with the female persona.

robin said...

Where can I find the long version? I've only got the book, Where I'm Calling From.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Miss R,
You have the long version in that book. There's a VERY short version in "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love." I like it, but don't think it's anywhere as good as the longer one.

robin said...

Oh, I was hoping there was a version where she had left, but then the story wouldn't have worked; he stayed true to the character of an abused woman. So sad! Think I'll stick with the long version! Thanks, M.