Friday, February 24, 2012

Milk and honey

Here is a brief story about a place I used to rent.

Looking back now I can say it was a quaint and cozy studio, but recalling the day I signed my lease I can also tell you I cried. I was moving from a spacious river-view tower apartment to some 300 square feet of old, dirty, direct-access-to-the-back-alley space. It was one of those house-turned-apartments that are often described as "full of character" or "charming". Yeah, and from the looks of it plenty of people had been charmed right the heck out. To say it felt "lived-in" would have been polite.

Bums camped in the adjacent empty lot.
That's not a joke.

But the point of this story is that this apartment had a dining nook. And that nook became sacred to me. You see, I had moved into this apartment based on some self-imposed lie that God required me to pay a sort of penance. For what, I really can't recall but more or less I needed to serve time in the wilderness. You know, like Moses. And Israel. And. . .WHATEVER. I reasoned with myself at the time that this is clearly what God needed from me in order for me to be right with Him. In order for me to get to the promised land! So I gave up my reserved parking space and my garbage disposal and I cried and I moved into my wilderness.

But back to the nook. (I don't think I need to tell you that GOD DIDN'T ASK ME TO MOVE TO ANY WILDERNESS. But He did use it. In fact, what I thought would be the most desolate time and place in my life turned out to be where God introduced me to my new family. They lived across the hall.) I don't know if it was due to limited seating, or to the fact that this nook's quaintness was about the only redeeming quality I originally found in the apartment, but I spent a fair amount of time in that nook. I read there, I prayed there, and if friends needed to vent that's where we sat. This nook became my space with God. He talked to me there.

I'm not getting all black-woman-in-a-shack on you, and I'm admitting that God probably spoke to me in other locations as well during this time, but this nook took up residence in my life as a sanctuary. It was where the psalms became real to me for the first time. It was where I felt free to cry out for however long it took my tears to surrender or find peace. It was where I felt known by God. I mean, there was a space in my home. Where God spoke. TO ME. 

Well. . .the point of this story is that I left that apartment and that nook a few years ago, and stop me before I exhaust my bible story references, but I've been looking back ever since. I literally took pictures of the nook before I moved out. (Complete with bible and candle props, I kid you not.) But this year week, as I've been struggling with God, or wanting to find the courage to, I've found myself not only questioning His goodness but His existence. I don't always feel His presence like I once did. I don't always feel known.

But tonight, as I was standing with my housemates in the space between the entryway and the living room, next to the stairs, next to our dirty shoes, I realized once again that God hasn't lead me into the wilderness. And that any space where people are trying, haphazardly as we may, to love one another in the completely ordinary and often defeating trials of daily life is a space that should be called sacred. God doesn't need a nook or any other meager temple. He's using His own means to remind me that He speaks. Some times even in my home, to me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

St. Valentine, you punk. . .

Unless there is a big fat sign reading PUMPKIN SPICE in front of Starbucks, I'm not a frequent customer. But today, this day of all blessed holidays, the tribute to St. Valentine (not) I thought I would go to Starbucks and purchase a less than mediocre drink because surely they will have Valentine's cups. You know, something obsecenely pink and red with hearts and silhouettes of little lovers kissing, and vague ethereal quotes about love. I'm not sure why exactly, I was convinced that Starbucks would have these cups (maybe because they prostitute every other celebration?!) but alas, this was my expectation. And WHY did I seek out this imagined cup? Because I thought it might cheer me right into the Valentine spirit. Yes, I am one of those people whom everyone loves to hate this time of year- I DON'T LIKE VALENTINE'S DAY. And since I know that everyone's rebuttal goes something like "Oh, you hate Valentine's day because it's so commercialized? Well what about every other holiday?!". Guess what. I hate Christmas too. And puppies!

I'm just kidding, I don't hate puppies.

I'm not going to to go into why I don't like Valentines day because no one cares. Heck, I barely care. I'm like oh, it's Valentines day? Cool, I guess I'll eat some chocolate. Wait, SO IT'S JUST ANOTHER DAY.

The point is I went to Starbucks to try and spread some cheer into my little Grinch-like heart and it was a FLOP. I'm not a complete lost cause though, I did wear my pink undies today.

-The Monster Queen

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dear men. (I wanted to include "angry vaginas" in the title but couldn't come up with anything witty)

I probably think you're an asshole before we've met. Part of me wants to be sorry about that but the rest of me remembers what experience has taught me. Which is that you are probably an asshole and I'll find out soon enough. I've been sorry in the past- sorry that I hold my past experiences over people, sorry that I sabotage relationships before they begin, sorry I'm so hard on men. But then once I discover that the next guy really is an asshole too, I'm ashamed for ever being sorry. So now I'm not.

I never wanted to be the kind of woman who listens to mad-girl music and gets together with her girlfriends, cursing the male species while eating fried foods and vocally contemplating becoming a nun. Honestly it's embarrassing. I don't want to hate men. I know a handful (a small handful, mind you) who are actually really respectable and amazing men, and there was definitely a period of time in which knowing them gave me hope that maybe my encounters with men, though highly unfortunate, were rare, but in fact knowing these decent men has made me all the more aware of how many inconsiderate pricks really are out there. MANY.

My particular brand of dissatisfaction lies namely with Christian men. My qualms with unsaved men are on a much smaller scale because I think it unfair of me to expect much from someone who has no great example to follow. But men who say they love God, yet refuse to love their sisters really unnerve me. How should a man love his sister? He should care to protect her heart by being mindful of his words and actions. He should desire that she know what to expect from men, by being the kind of man she can look to for some semblance of a standard. He should treat her as if she is valuable; as if she were created by God.

I'm not suggesting that Christian men need to be covering puddles with their coats and calling a girl's father before spending any time with her, nor am I side-stepping Christ and saying that men need to replace the standard He has set. What I am suggesting is that men in the church look different than men outside of it. I don't pretend to know what makes men tick. Sure, I could recite hypothesis after hypothesis of how each generation is losing family values due to the way our culture lives, and father-figures are being replaced by mother-figures which in turn leads to some psycho babble analysis of why men shuck responsibility and avoid relational commitment. And yes, I'm sure that's all good and true, but where does that leave women today? Accepting 30 year old boys as a poor substitute for men because daddy didn't teach them how to stand when they pee? Don't consider me completely void of compassion but my childhood was less than ideal too, so you won't see me handing any Get Out of Adulthood Free cards.

My standards are high, yes. And clearly my tolerance is low (and decreasing at a rapid rate). And okay, I should probably stop calling men "assholes". But I feel entirely lost, and rather hopeless in navigating how to be a friend, a sister, and a single woman to anyone of the opposite sex. Either I have to be that girl (who unabashedly orders bridal magazines and looooves babies and just can't wait to buy a house and sew some shit) or I have to pretend to be naive ("why yes, I'd love to hang out with you ambiguously until I'm forced to bring up the DTR at which point you'll probably tell me that you thought you might like me but now you realize we'd make better friends"). These options SUCK.

I'm not suppose to openly voice that YES, I'D LIKE TO GET MARRIED. Because everyone knows that will scare men away! But really because I don't want my desire to get married to be confused with I'll marry any man who'll have me. I am not hunting for a husband. But because, by God's grace, I recognize that men and women do operate differently I realize that boundaries are important. Lest some friend desire to spend curious amounts of time with me, I know that eventually my brain will start producing chemicals that, in the voice of giggly little school girls, will sound like DOES HE LIKE ME? DOES HE LIKE ME??? And since men so often either don't recognize or refuse to acknowledge these fundamental differences because they selfishly like the attention they know they get by being cryptic about their intentions, I'm forced to set boundaries. Awkward, borderline-childlike boundaries. And it's exhausting being the only functional adult in a relationship. Which brings me to the point of bashing men on the internet.

It's okay if you think I'm a bitch, or crazy, or just so damn typical. It kind of proves my point. And if you don't, well that's great, because in case you can't tell by now, I'd really love for someone to prove me wrong.