Wednesday, October 15, 2014

We Do Get Fooled Again

Lately, shared delusions of different types have been crossing my mind, both on the paths of my own tangential thoughts, and in things I’ve come across to read here and there.  Humans share ineffable bonds, and some of them we’d quite like to eff after all, probably.  We cling together in fear, in arrogance, and – above all – in ignorance.

We also forget and forget and forget, and therefore come to believe the silliest horsefeathers.  Such as, people were dumb and dirty in the past, as I’ve often gone on about.  Such as, we have evolved or changed or become anything new at all under the sun.  We’re very attached to this idea, that what today holds is ever better than yesterday … even as we yearn for yesterday with the sort of jealousy that can pervert itself nastily and become cancerous and violent.

I once sat in a church and listened to a long and angry sermon against evolution, actually, which … ended with a discussion of how we get flu shots because viruses grow and change and we have to conquer them with ever better drugs.  I’m not joking – evolution is wrong, but evolution totally happens.

We do this sort of thing a lot, and it is in sermons and on pulpits, in reaching out to each other and in quoting, being quoted, in rabidly nodding our heads together, that we gain some sense of self – this is someone I agree with, and therefore what I think, what I feel, must be RIGHT in some important way.

“It’s not just me.”

We seek that in almost ever level in our lives.  Those studies that show negative posts on social media “infect” related users and breed more of the same, complaint spawning complaint, because it is empirically true that misery loves company to death.  The way almost the whole world finds ways to make major events – especially catastrophes – “about ourselves”, finding ways not just to relate to the imponderable or epochal, but to own it.  9/11 was so powerful in this effect it gave us the story of Tania Head (not even her real name), one of the most famous survivors of the World Trade Center attacks, who happened to live in Spain at the time and was graduating a professional program at the time that brutality happened.  Before that, locally to my world, the Washington sniper drew half the east coast into a noose of fear that occasionally almost smelled like anticipation; living anywhere near those events conferred a sense of almost belonging to that threat, and of its belonging to us.  Anthrax scares in the mail had people psychosomatically ill all over the country, and gave the opportunity for morons or the mentally ill to frighten the wits out of crowds in strange places.

Yet, in this oh-so-enlightened world in which we are susceptible to shared delusions physical, emotional, and in many ways political:  we deeply enjoy looking backward at phenomena like the tarantism or the dancing mania of the middle ages, perhaps born out of plague and upheaval, and play a bit of down-the-nose-peering, to assure ourselves we are superior.  We, who deny – well, evolution, for one; or climate change; or the moon landing; or the HIV virus’ influence and connection to AIDS – love nothing so much as to look upon those who denied Galileo’s toppling of the heliocentric universe as the basest, risible ignorance.

It is intensely reassuring, for a species perpetually under the THREAT of the great unknowns of our lives, to hope, at least, we’ve risen out of some sort of darkness, surpassed ignorance, become *better* than we used to be.  There is a deep cultural, and *perhaps* pan-human need to believe in progress that leads us to look back, not in anger, but in the kind of bigotry that leads us to name entire swaths of time “The Dark Ages” and to peer morbidly at lost ideas of beauty or obsolete heirarchies of worthwhile attainments (or, very sadly, to look across the globe even in the present, presuming other cultures are stuck in the past) to prove to ourselves we are not “barbarians.”

The barbarians, of course, merely made the mistake of toppling a few things of their own, which for some reason we enjoy enshrining (from time to time) as pinnacles of human achievement.  Also, they didn’t write a very great deal, so we don’t have Viking Shakespeares to enshrine instead.  The barbarians get their vogue from time to time as well, but by and large “visigoth” didn’t become an insult in a perfectly balanced vaccuum, just for instance.  Or the word barbarian itself, which is an onomotopoeic word making fun of the way a foreign language sounded to a great lot of dead Romans who had a few funky habits of their own we occasionally stumble upon in order to make fun of.

We really are not better than ever before.

The consolation to that is:  we actually are not WORSE than ever before, either.  Our power to actually destroy ourselves probably skews the old bargain, to be sure.  But human nature is as a whole is full of the same greedy lot who don’t care about others … and the same breathtakingly beautiful, and the same generally decent, and the same petty individuals we’ve always had amongst ourselves.  The greedy ones regularly wreck the lives of others, the good ones give us hope, and the ones we know best sustain and madden and surround each other.

Stripped of all politics and consequence, human nature is a remarkably unchanging thing, for a dynamic so resilient and innovative and endlessly mercurial.  We fear together, and that makes us either dance together or believe we are sick together.  We are arrogant together, and that is born of fear too.  We are immensely capable and ingenious – remember how we all ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the HUMAN miracle and spectacle of the Chinese olympic opening ceremonies?  Both impressed at the show, and half-afraid of a nation so huge with such control over its people … and so many people to control … ?

WE only constant is change, in a way.  It defines and horrifies us, especially when the changes we have wrought and witnessed don’t go the way we expected, or would like.  It makes such a difference, and it makes none.

Only when we get to the deepest level – the individual – does the inevitability of change seem less a frightening unknown than a limitless potential.

I am still the meat and bones and voice my parents made … and I am nothing I was even just ten years ago, or five, or yesterday.  It’s a hell of a responsibility, and it’s both a swelling and a dangerous pride.  I need reassurance.  But not by dancing through a plague.  Just in the ones I know best.  In sustaining and maddening and being close to them.  And in finding they do the same in return.

What is it like along your evolutionary development?  Did you go from crouching to standing tall, a deep breath filling your chest … ?  With whom do you dance … ?

It's Like Wearing the Corset ...

“Fake it till you make it!”

The little piece of wisdom above has become a facile mantra for a society increaingly occupied by the hectic schedule of life as we’ve constructed it, and particularly by professional frustration and ambition in an economy not well laid out for most of us to find the types and levels of comfort we’ve also set as a general expectation.

The fake-it mantra goes along with the “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” maxim (and there is a whole blog post in that one, considering how resolutely “casual” so many workplaces have become …), and various other positive-professional mottoes we try to post in our brains and daily behavior in order to attain – basically – whatever it is that passes for financial success, as compared to where we stand right now.

“Fake it till you make it”, though, has applications and effects apart from the financial, and the older I get the more surprised I am – and pleased – at how very well it works.

There are days at both the office job that provides me regular paychecks, and at the unpaid job I maintain as an unpublished (but persistently aspiring) author, when really it’s all just a game.  And that’s not a bad thing.  It can make The Game easier, actually, to make it *play*.  Life’s no fun if you never play – and, sometimes, play helps you do life a bit better.

If I’m not feeling satisfied or motivated or even competent at the paying gig, I’ll make a point of popping in the boss’s office with a drive-by handful of “I’ve done this and this and this for you” comments – or questions “do you need hard copies/lunch reservations/documentation for X-meeting” – and the effect is usually strongest on myself.  It’s like I won the role of Moneypenny in some play – and saying the lines and getting the responses makes me feel like I’m playing it well.

So I get to *feel*, “Okay, I am not a fraud.”

And I also basically remind myself, “Hey.  *I am not a fraud.*”

I’ve been doing administrative/secretarial work for close to thirty years now, pretty much to the exclusion of any other professional work.  It’s something I enjoy, and/but changing jobs as often as I have, it’s never something I feel I know completely – which is a good thing. 
One of the important parts of changing jobs is overtly playing the part of a competent professional.

Being able to do a job and demonstrating that I can do it, I have found, are vastly different things:  and the latter is the wiser course.

It’s a bit like feedback from a boss; if you hear “thank you” or “can we widget this, thus” now and then, fairly consistently, it makes all the difference in knowing where you stand.  Performance reviews don’t do that, never have, and never will – but the smallest acknowledgement of daily to-do’s coming along regularly provides good bearings.  And that works both ways (the corporate-speak phrase “managing up” comes to mind, though without the passive-aggressive intent).  Feedback of the “A, B, and C are done/need something to get X done/changed the way Y is done” variety keeps ‘em aware you’re there and functioning.

I know an author who spent something like a week wearing a corset and cooking medieval recipes out of turnips, in order to get a feel for her period.  We can hardly replicate “what it was really like” – but method writing like that makes sense.  It’s the same at a job.  When I wear the rold of Moneypenny, I realize that not only can I walk in those shoes, but I can project that to others, and that’s a useful reminder/demonstration/feedback on all sides.

It also encourages others to TREAT me like Moneypenny – or like an author.

I approach an awful lot of my life with some form of calibrated appearance in mind.  This isn’t affectation nor artificiality (it may be manipulation, though …).  It’s just an actor’s heightened way of going into any scene.  I dress for my job, or for time spent with my mom and stepfather, or for some specific group of friends (… or for the Conference, yes) – I behave in one venue in a way I would not in others.

“I contain multitudes” …

Many of us do this without really thinking about it all that much.  Many can’t release themselves from a single self-image (when I see women on TV who wear $600, 7-inch high heels for every conceivable occasion, heavy makeup at all times, and false eyelashes even in the middle of the day, I pity them the stultifying consistency of such “glamour”, since it cannot be special, maintained at all times; likewise men who cannot get beyond khakis and polo shirts no matter where they go bewilder me with self-imposed homogeneity).

So we all play roles.  I need multiple roles, in order for any one of them to seem worthwhile or fun – being a slovenly hausfrau all day on a Saturday makes the odd Saturday night out with friends so much more fun, as does the pampering self-transformation from slovenly comfort to arch impracticality.  I need time with family and time as an employee and time as a friend, and time ALONE, just laughing at my dog and cat.  I need the demanding and yet transformative rituals of my day – getting up and getting dressed, as much as coming home, and getting dressed *down*.

It took me a long time to really believe I was a “real” author – not a laughable fraud.  This is true of a terribly large percentage of writers, and the way the industry is configured, unfortunately, encourages this, at least in traditional publishing.  Yet this isn’t on purpose – the more agents and editors I’ve met, the more delightful I’m aware that they are.  These are people who get to make a living not only doing something they love – reading – but they also get to act as conduits to bring new things they love to a whole audience.

I almost can’t imagine what that’s like.

But it’s certainly true that many of the editors and agents and designers and all the newer facilitators in a publishing world no longer strictly fashioned as a paradigm of “gatekeepers” (agents) and “keymasters” (publishing houses) SAY that this is what they love about what they do.  There is an undercurrent of glee – “I found something wonderful! I must have it! I must share it!” – and a very emotional kind of satisfaction in most interviews I read when I research agents, but also when I find articles and blogs and so on by cover designers and book doctors and editors who work outside publishing houses, helping authors to craft not only good work, but marketable work.  There is a mutual drive for satisfaction I’ve never seen in other areas of my own admittedly limited life, but it’s pretty wonderful.  The blogs I follow avidly all share this with a depth and clarity that is infectious:  they keep ME going, by telling me and ten thousand others, “you should KEEP GOING.”

This really isn’t faking it till you make it, of course.

But we all still have to fake so much.  We have to put on our Editorial Boots and kick the hell out of our manuscripts and plays and poems.  We have to put on the Authorial Jacket (with or without the little suede elbow patches; as your preference or genre or predilections dictate) and brave the autumnal blasts of rejection and revision and education until we’re tempered.  We have to wear a Marketing Hat, too – and live a bit online, and reach out, and plan, and consider, and be ready to Be Told, when it comes to supporting our work.

THIS is undoubtedly faking it, for most of us.

•    Faking like we have time in the week,
•    Faking like we are not scared out of our minds,
•    Faking like we really feel like we know what we’re doing,
•    Faking like it’s not annoying to have to do all this stuff without pay,
•    Faking like the friends and family around us who
     (a) overestimate the likelihood we’re going to Become the Next Bestseller, or
     (b) bitterly, ignorantly UNDERestimate it
     … are not discouraging beyond toleration,
•    Faking like there is anything at all about writing, other than the doing of it – all alone, at a wonderful desk or curled up with a beloved furbaby – that we can stand at all.

Faking it and knowing the fakery isn’t so much a lie as a *reminder* either works better and better as I get a bit older, or I am just finally getting, at my advanced age, just how well it always would have worked.

What’s your costume, what is the swashbuckling role you play … ?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dresses Undressed

Nabbed this when I saw it at Two NerdyHistory Girls.  Though the music is a hair sad, and the veins in the ghostly hands which appear here and there are ... weirdly animated and eerie ... the CLOTHES are beautiful, gorgeously constructed, and this look at all the layers of dress in this period is instructive and interesting.  The micro close up lace shot is as gorgeous as it looks like it would be from this preview still, by the way.


Thursday, October 9, 2014


I happen to follow some of the most amazing blogs and at least two Tumblrs, and of the latter you should go get your eyeballs nurtured, because Mojourner's Photos rock the extra bomb-diggety, y'all.

Speaking of sites that have wonderful vitamals and nutriments for the yumming of your eyes, do you follow the Caustic Cover Critic?  Because - seldom updated, but always worth a look.  Enjoy the Hallowe'en special:  hilarious, intriguingly conceived, and scary on multiple levels.  Boo!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Mojourner Truth lays out some (previously) Unwritten Rules of Archaeology.  (Pay close attention to the final rule.)  How much of this applies to your job?  Rather a lot does to mine - both my mortgage-paying gig, and writing too.

Law love the History Blog.  On cockerels and Christ.  Oh myyy! (But seriously:  the oldest image of Christ in Spain, on a glass plate, with background as to why the glass medium is important - and the cockerel comes from the grave goods of a child in Cirenchester.)

The Arrant Pedant visits Visual Thesaurus with a look at "less" versus "fewer".  The AP is awesome of the sauce-ular variety, as are the linguistic forensics.

And, in the continuing exchange program between every page Janet Reid maintains online and Gossamer the Editor cat, take a look at The Query Shark's advice on social media promotion.  "The only email that is appropriate to send to everyone in your address book is news of your death."  Priceless.

Soft kitty

Monday, October 6, 2014

In a Week ... Happy Anniversary!

Twelve years ago, I took my little niece with me on a beautiful Saturday morning to go looking for a new dog.  I honestly can’t recall whether she and I went to more than one place, but I can tell you the moment I saw this giant-eared, black-masked beastie looking out across the parking lot at the pet store, and I thought, “What a weird looking dog.”  She was one of a kind, yes, even down to her looks – and I remember looking at other animals, but could not tell you what we saw.  My niece and I both seemed to zero in on Sid – or maybe she zeroed in on us (certainly, I have been adopted by pets in my time, seemingly almost without will of my own).

Her peculiar, masked face was topped with one black ear (her only other black feature; and it did not go grey, as  her mask did, and disappear) and one white one with little dalmation spots.  She had a big square head like a Volvo:  it was boxy, but it was good.  And a deep furrow straight down the middle, from the top of her nose right back between those prodigious ears.

Siddy was four, and if “when they thought” her birthday was was right, we shared one.  And she was within about a week of being the same age as that niece of mine.

I remember the adoption process seeming so daunting, and even fearing I would not get to have her – I developed a fast crush on her, and the inimitable Zuba told me, when I was telling her about the other dog I was thinking about, “Diane, you are already calling her Siddy.  That is your dog.”

Zuba is no damned fool, and neither was Sweet La.  She got Zuba so well tied around her little claw even a sneeze straight in her face never dented her auntie’s love for that pup.

So Sid came home, still wearing a traffic cone from a kerfuffle with some other damned fool dog in foster care.  The guy I was seeing at the time evinced a bit of intimidation by her, so he had to go (I’d been looking for the right moment …).  And so she and I had nine years, nine months of I-was-the-luckiest- doggy-momma-evarrr, until that sad July 5.  And sigh.

That was just over two years ago, and it took me from July to October to be ready again … and that was when my MOM went with me to go find a pupadoodle.  Small niece was no longer available, though I kept her posted vicariously, and she ended up approving Penelope.

Penelope, whose little noodly yellow butt seemed so small to me, and whose round, light-bulb head was all full of wrinkledy loose skin and a set of ears the like of which even Siddy had never seen.  She hardly seemed built to hold them up.  Penelope, who seemed entirely unaware of the little things when I took her into the kitten section of that pet store.  Penelope, of the head full of white puppy teeth and insouciant underbite.  Penelope, wearing her little blue bandana around her neck, saying “ADOPT ME” – and I did.  (I had no choice:  I adopt ears.  And hers were prodigious.)

She grew into them – though they’re still quite the arresting feature.

Little did I know that 35-pound scrap of wiggles would turn into a 60-pound slab of … well, wiggles.  And tugs.  And would turn out to be the smartest dog I’ve ever known.  And *everything* about what it can be like to adopt a puppy instead of a more mature dog …

This month, it’s been two years since I recommitted my life to ever being good enough for my dog (and, now, Gossamer kitty as well), and the golden days are reminiscent of both pups’ early days.  Of course, Pen is significantly changed – not just physically – since she came home.  Twice the muscular body, to be sure, Penelope is also exponentially higher-energy, but almost heartbreakingly eager to please, and I am utterly her alpha.

It’s a different relationship than “doggy mommy” which was what I called my role with Siddy pretty much from the beginning.  Sid was a mellower animal, of course – and older – so our relationship was as much her choice as mine.  Penelope, being only about six months old when she came home with me, and of a history either unknown or undisclosed, was bursting with health and the sweetness of a baby girl, and cuter than I could even begin to contemplate resisting.  I had no idea what “almost there” meant with house training (and thank goodness, or I’d never have taken her home; she wee’d in the car on the way, before falling asleep in the back seat) … nor, honestly, what it’s like to live with a highly energetic dog of her size.

Ohhh, but my beautiful yellow baby girl.  She and Goss have never yet become cuddling partners, but they do play, and they have a good understanding.  The pair of them make me laugh so genuinely, so heartily.  Last night, Goss had been playing in the tub, as he is wont to do (how sad a day will it be, when I finally get a plumber to fix the leak …), and came out with a wet head bone.  Penelope was licking his head clean … or taking a drink off the cat, to be more accurate.

As adorable affection goes, I know folks go more for the gentle show of “AWW”-inducing love and friendship, but in our house, the dog slaking her thirst on the cat’s skull qualifies.

And, as much of a spazz-matazz as Penelope can be, the fact is, she’s really very like her predecessor, most of the time.  When she’s in the yard, she can blow off all the springbok-bouncing-across-the-savannah energy she can, and watching her physicality is incredible to me and always will be.  She is a Tigger, just a mass of power that hardly has to touch the ground when she’s really moving – and, like a proper Tigger, she’s fun-fun-fun-fun-fun.  But between bursts, she’s mellow and enjoys a good cat-nap just as much as any dog.  Heh.

She doesn’t tend to sit quite right at my feet, as Sid did, when I am on the couch, but does snuggle up by it if I am having a Sunday afternoon nap.  On those special mornings at home, too, when she is allowed on the bed, she is very good at staying in “her spot” until I indicate I’m ready to scratch her belly a little while, and much better than Sid, now that I think of it, at being still and not indulging extended scratching or washing time and jouncing the whole bed to bits.  She and Gossamer can pen me in (har) quite neatly, between them, and they’re both pretty good together when they’re allowed on the bed at once.  Though yesterday there *was* a near-cat-crushing experience, and Pen would not be told not to flop right against my tum, where the little guy already was.  Erm.

Like any dog, she has such power to melt me to a puddle.  She and Sidney MORE than have that in common, though I’m sure she depends on me in a much deeper way.  I love to just hold her whole head, wrapping my arms around her neck and patting her chest or around her legs.  Letting her have a treat – or a privilege in the house (getting on the bed, being allowed on the couch) is wonderful.  The way she physically *looks* to me for guidance is almost heart-wrenching.  Her ears are beautiful, warm, and the thickest velvet in the world.

And her head is still shaped a lot like a beet.  My dear little Beet Head Ned.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

JRW Conference

It's coming, y'all.  Who's with me!?

Imagine a World ...

... in which “My, how you’ve changed!” simply did not occur.  People did not change hairstyles with seasons or fashion, their wardrobes were not greatly variable – and, indeed, for poorer classes and perhaps those without the skill, time, or materials to sew, even alterations of what garments they did own might not be possible (leading us to those hilarious images of giant fat medieval men with tiny little coats).  A world in which most people saw the same smallish population throughout their lives, the only gaps in seeing someone perhaps arising with itinerant travelers or priests, whose physical appearance was largely irrelevant.  Imagine a world ... in which physical appearance was largely irrelevant in almost every context ...

... in which the measurement of time:  is not done.  Other than the sun and moon, timekeeping devices were extremely few and far between – ancient water clocks or sun dials being scarce and not always readily reliable in any case, there could be no expectation of meeting someone at two.  With travel being on foot (human or otherwise), traffic jams might be less an issue, however, the vagaries of stubborn beasts, broken axles, poor roads, or injury might turn a day’s journey to many, and even a “simple errand” into a more time-consuming affair.  Vagaries in a kitchen may also alter the timeline of any meal, and royal audiences were most likely to be cattle-call affairs, with little itinerary to events.  It would be typical for certain days to be reserved for certain business – at the civic level, criminal trials and hearings; the general annual schedule of an itinerant prieste, who could record for his communities the births and deaths for each year; market days and religious rites.

It was not a matter of time being measured at a different pace, but that pace itself was a concept without relevance, at least in the sense we contemplate time today.  It might well be important to get a thing done sooner than later, but “deadlines” were more along the lines of the best times to sow and reap, the most auspicious alignment of the stars for entering into a contract, the availability of priest or governor or hands to effect some change not just anyone might be able to take on.

Time was more spiritual, too, far more subjective, in a time where people did not have “nine-to-five’s.”  This may be the most difficult part of the different perspective of The Past for us to grasp.  We can stop and sit still, but not all of us have an easy grasp on – not only the spiritual, but on a spirituality, a subjective life and way of thinking, guided from the *outside*.

Free will has always existed, of course, and humand will employ it, scurrying little monsters that we are.  But the structure of a life lived not in a modern democracy, free will or no, maintains a different flavor in its very formation and expression.  We can’t be squelched, human beings. But we can be formed – and we can be disciplined (for good or ill) ...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy Blasphemy Day

Being, as some readers are aware, a church-goer, it may seem less than obvious for me to post about Blasphemy Day as a good thing - yet I have this compulsion, as a Christian, to dismantle RELIGION as opposed to FAITH - and the spiritual.

Religion is nothing more than a system, a tool - the regulated means by which we humans grapple with the ineffable to see if we might not eff it after all.

Of course, there is effing, and there is effing.  I can't say I believe we honestly have the right to eff the ineffable, no matter how much we want to.  I look at myself, for instance, and think - what makes me think I deserve answers?

And so, necessarily, the dogma and tenets and expectations (and, yes, even the congregation) of religion are, for me, not merely secondary but outright beside the point.  As a bishop-blessed Episcopalian, I have a three-legged stool (scripture, tradition, reason) - and, while I belong to a faith with more "trappings" than all matter to me most deeply, I have also applied some of those physical and verbal fixtures of religion to my belief in ways that are relevant.  What's interesting to me is that, as many more rules and particulars as my chosen religion has in  practice, it has far less concern for *dogma* than I was familiar with.  Its concern is not to have knowledge, but to honor the desire to learn - even if spiritual knowledge may, in the end, be impossible to attain.

Here lies my blasphemy:  I belong to a strongly trinitarian community of faith, and I have never, not once in my life, understood the point of, believed in, nor seen any need for the trinity at all.  This "holy spirit" thing is meaningless to me, in the most profound way - if it is possible to put it thus.  For me, the important - the *wondrous* - core of the divine is that G-d came and LIVED amongst us.

This is, for me, spiritually, the bit I'd run into the house for in a fire.

Crossing myself, the Nicene Creed, formulated prayer, the calendar - it's all good learning material, but it's all like the workbooks they gave to us in grade school - it's not what we need to know, but the exercise that helps us find that.  What we need to know is that G-d so loved the world that He extruded Himself (and, please understand, my liberal readers, that "he" is for me non gender specific in this context - I think that assigning biological plumbing to the divine is reductive beyond countenancing) into our life, our population, our *flesh*.  And then sacrificed that flesh.

Christ.  As demonstrative goes, that's the G-d for me.  Who takes us on to the point of taking on our skin and bones and pains.  The ultimate expression of divinity - in our own *stuff* ...

For most Christians, I have to think that that incredible identification with the divine is very deeply the point of accepting this faith.  A certain vanity - G-d in OUR image, as we in His.  A certain reassurance - that we are not alone, that whatever it is we don't understand is closer than we thought.  A relationship with G-d.

I adhere to religion not because I have faith, but because I need somewhere to PUT that faith, some container, some structure - some community in which to express it, to share it, to learn from, and to give to.  Discipline ... disciple.

I had all kinds of faith (rather literally) for years and years before I placed it into the hands of an established church.  And the church I chose, I didn't come to because some magic fish led the way or the wizard's beans grew up to heaven and led me there.  I chose it because of Betty, who sat next to me my first time.  I chose it because the building is beautiful, all wood and brick, and it felt unquantifiably AND quantifiably comfortable to me.  The beauty of the place mattered, and I was blessed to come to know a few wonderful people, and then we got our priest, who now has just left, after too short a time - but, apparently, the right amount of time.  I have faith in that not because religion is infallible and miraculous, but because I am open and we all must be, and it's not like the Devil's going to trot in where a fine, fine priest has vacated.  Life doesn't work that way; we have a good interim, the same man who presided when I first came to this church.  And I trust the church to give our opportunity to someone fine, once again.

The expression of my faith is entirely anathema to most religious people throughout the world and our histories.  My approach to religion disrespects it, even discounts it.  I'm infidel in as many traditions as concern themselves with blasphemers.  As with religion itself, I bypass this and attach my motivation to the interest of G-d, above any worship.  My chief prayer, "May I bring YOU satisfaction and joy."

But my second, importuning, wish:  "May we all bring one another satisfaction and joy."

That's what most of us want, really.

Happy Blasphemy Day.  How will you celebrate ... ?