Thursday, 28 February 2008

Earthquake explanations...

It's just so wrong.

I went to bed at 00.30 Wed morning, the earthquake hit at 00.56, and I SLEPT THROUGH IT. I'm absolutely gutted like a fish.

However, my housemate, Clare, woke up during the earthquake. Now, England doesn't get a lot of earthquakes, so when you first wake up and the room is shaking you think: "I must be dreaming." When it keeps shaking and you can hear your bottles of perfume rattling on your dresser, you try to find another explanation. We live near the ring road and on an RAF flight path, so I expect I'd think, "That lorry is taking a long time to go by" or "God, that plane is low."

But when I debriefed Clare last night, she offered one I hadn't thought of yet:

"At first, I thought someone was having violent sex."

I looked at her, but couldn't keep a straight face. "What, you thought A's boyfriend had arrived during the night?"

We both started laughing. "Well, no, I knew no one was *here* (THANKS on behalf of the housies, babe, that makes us feel OH SO DESIRABLE!), so I thought it was next door."

Hmmmm. Definite possibility. I'm sure it was probably the first time our 80 year old next door neighbour pulled out his S&M equipment since his hip op. Or maybe it was his 70-something wife pulling out her new giant Rabbit vibrator. God knows, they're loud enough at the regular size...

Absolutely bloody brilliant.

And you can tell why Clare and I are such good friends. Great minds...

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Grim hymns...

It is beyond my comprehension how a country that produced the likes of Thomas Tallis, Charles Wesley and William Chatterton Dix, to name just a few, can allow hymns like this in ANY sort of worship (and off-key, to boot):

All Heaven Declares

The glory of the riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisen looooooooooooooord [Risen? He's the bread of life, remember? Yeast and see that the Lord is good!]

Who can compare
with the beauty of the lord [Alan Rickman, Colin Firth as Darcy, Nigel Harman, Daniel Craig...]

Forever you will be
the lamb upon the throne [can I have you with Yorkshire pudding and gravy??]

I gladly bow my knee
And Worship You alone! [well, maybe alongside Krishna and Isis...but you're ok with that as long as they're not before you, right?]

I will proclaim
the glory of the riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisen Loooooooooooooord. [esp if he's challah, my favourite kind! Though I might go with Ruth and ask for a bagel. Onion, please!]

Grim grim grim.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Don't stand under tall trees during a thunderstorm, Irim...

Monday, 25 February 2008

Sorry, Mum, but I'll marry whom I want... the title of a brilliant letter from a Sikh son to his mother, excerpted in today's Times2 from his upcoming book, "If you don't know me by now".

The particulars of our lives are very different, but our emotions, our arguments, are very similar. I could have written so much of that letter:

"Sometimes I think you think that learning is like something you might buy from a shop, like a new washing machine or refrigerator: something that improves your life without changing you. But that's not the way it works. My education has changed me, and just because everyone else does something, it doesn't mean I have to. And just because you believe something, it doesn't mean I have to agree."

" I told myself that I wanted to give you what you wanted, that I could bury my true desires to make you happy. But it slowly became apparent that I could never go through with a marriage in which I didn't love the other person. I want more from my life than that.
And this is the thing: I have had more from life than that. I've loved and been loved back and now I know what it feels like, it's impossible to settle for less."

"And, if anything, if you accept me for who I am, rather than who you want me to be, we could be closer."

The list goes on. It couldn't have been articulated any better.

I let my parents know I wouldn't accept an arranged marriage by moving out in secrecy, taking three bin liners full of clothes and books that I wanted to keep. Sathnam is letting his mother know a different way. But we are united in this.

If only more South Asian girls and boys who feel the same way could find the courage to say the same and follow through. If just one sees today's Times2 or picks up Sathnam's book and finds that courage, it will all have been worth it.

Thursday, 21 February 2008


On a much lighter note, a friend's description of me:

"An over-excitable, sex-mad religious eclectic who enjoys pushing the boundaries of others with regard to politics and their concepts of what is acceptable behaviour for a grown woman."

She got it in one. What can I say?

I particularly love the juxtaposition of 'sex-mad' and 'religious'. It's just so me.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

It's all a bit gay...

From the BBC website:

Shlomo Benizri, of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas Party, said the tremors had been caused by lawmaking that gave "legitimacy to sodomy".

Wow. I'm sure the geologists who've been studying shifting plates for 30+ years will take that into account, schmu.., I mean, Shlomo.

Well, add that to the papal statement at Christmas that birth control and gay marriage are threats to world peace, and we know it must be true.

Sounds like they're in bed together.

God, it makes me so angry. Yeah, I know, you too - oh, they slipped that stuff into Leviticus when you weren't looking? Guess the Onion had it right then.

Last week, I watched a programme on adoption. The couple looking to adopt were two men who had met on a photo shoot in LA. After nearly a decade together, I've rarely seen a couple more in love - straight or gay.

They'd always considered children part of the equation. Looking around, they saw the immense need in the community around them, and instead of opting for a mother for one of their children, or a perfect little baby of an affluent Catholic teenage mother, they decided to adopt through fostering.

And which children did these white, gay, affluent men choose?

Black fraternal twins - a girl and a boy -
with developmental difficulties, born to a crack addicted mother. You would have wept to see the tenderness and love they gave these little ones as they swaddled them at night far past the age that normal children need to be so tightly wrapped. Or to see them terrified at the prospect of losing them to a member of the mother's family.

Do you think Shlomo, Benedict, the late John Paul or any of the white, clean-cut, affluent, smugly religious couples at my church would make that kind of commitment? Would adopt a child who didn't look like them? One that had developmental difficulties?

You can bet Satan will be hosting the Winter Olympics first.

Thus, the crux of my problem with the outwardly religious: you spout morals. I know bloody few of you who actually live by them. As with everything else, the more you talk or ostentatiously follow the rules, the less you really do - or believe.

Men like Dane Holweger and Israel Segal are vilified by 'priests' in the pulpit for living in sin. And yet, who fed? who gave water? who visited in prison?

Who took care of the little ones?

Not the Catholic Church, was it, Ben? That whole putting children at risk of being sexually molested by moving paedos around for years annihilates your moral authority. Especially since all you do is blame gay men and refuse to take any real action.

No. Those gay men that you vilify have taken care of the little ones - fed them, clothed them, loved them. My love and prayers are with them, Nola and Ziggy - they will raise two very fine children, mark my words.

Why? Because they love without regard to creed, colour or history - which makes them a lot closer to God than the pair of you, who spend your lives telling us you speak for Him.
Even if they live in an earthquake zone, Shlomo.

I know it certainly means that Dane and Israel are worlds closer to God than I am. They love, forgive, and open their hearts in ways that I can only imagine. Their ability to walk God's talk puts me to shame.

Mother and father, single parent, two fathers, two mothers - what does it matter? A nuclear family may look perfect on the outside but be hell on the inside. Appearance and outward behaviour, as so many in organised religion need to learn, mean little to nothing.

Take it from God - all you need is love.

Monday, 18 February 2008

I know I've been a bit tough...

on the Catholic Church, but not today. Hurrah for the Calendario Romano 2008, showing off some of the sexiest men in black: don't you just *love* a man in uniform?

As some of my readers are clerics, I'll spare their celibate sensibilities and keep them in the dark about exactly HOW bad a Catholic girl I'd like to be. But come on, ladies, surely you'd like to get him hot under the collar?

And who said receiving communion can't be sexy?

By God, if any of the (heterosexual - unfortunately, they're mostly [repressed] homosexuals) men who went to my church looked that good and displayed that kind of ease with their bodies/sexuality, I'd be back at Sunday mass in a heartbeat. Hell, I'd go to mass every damn day. I might even consider getting on my knees...

...or making him get on his. To quote U2:

"To touch is to heal,
To hurt is to steal -
If you want to kiss the sky,
Better learn how to kneel.
On your knees, boy"

Amen. Testify, brother.

And I am sooo going to be excommunicated tomorrow...but it will be so worth it.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Dream journal, day 1

Day 1, here goes:

1. This dream was quite long, and seemed to wrap round the others in a way. The space was never defined and kept shifting, but the lighting was a bright, bright natural light. I was going through a fairly normal day, though I sensed it more than saw it. The main part of this dream was auditory: a voice that kept saying, "Remember, Irim, 'shan'" - or a word that sounded like that. In the dream, I knew it meant calm, centered, grounded - the still place in the middle of a violent storm. At the end of the dream, I was holding a little girl on my lap (I knew she was mine, but I don't have children) and was beginning to read to her when the voice came again. I responded, "I don't know if I can."

Response: "Yes, you can, or you wouldn't be asked. You have to."

I hugged the little girl closer and the dream faded.

2. I was in a HUGE building - it wasn't dark, but there weren't any lights on. It was very Middle Eastern/Muslim in architecture - the same kind of arches, airiness, openness. Pink, which wasn't *too* unfortunate, but still... Very, very high ceilings - cathedral high and then some. I knew it was a school of some kind, and I had helped bring back a child who had disappeared. In front of me were two cheques which were rewards for what I'd done and though I felt a bit uncomfortable accepting them, the first one was reasonable. The second one was a large cheque - both in amount and size, and I remember saying, "I can't accept this, it's too much."
I'm not sure who was behind me - there hadn't been anyone initially, but he answered, "It's your due. Please, take it." I went to pick it up as THAT dream faded.

3. I was in a lounge with my brother (7 years younger) - whom I haven't seen or spoken to for about 10 years - looking at a white board in shock and disbelief. The lighting was very bright - a stand up lamp or several behind me. He was sitting on a long yellow sofa. I looked at him and said, "What do they mean when they say you can't read this?"

He said, "Well, I can't. What's the problem?"

"I'm sorry, how old are you now? What grade are you in?"

"I'm 8. I'm in 3rd grade." (He looked much older than that)

"Oh, well that's different then. NO. WAIT A MINUTE. YOU WERE BORN IN 19... - YOU'RE A LOT OLDER THAN THAT."

Fade to black.

4. And the final dream. I was an observer in this one rather than a participant. From behind and above, I was watching a group of law enforcement officials (not just policemen) gathered in what looked to be a briefing room with bright flourescent lights. They were trying to catch a serial killer. (Ok, yes, we know I watch too much CSI, Criminal Minds, etc.). It was clearly an American team, so I asked where I was. I saw a map of the US, with a red dot in the NW. When I looked it up today, it turned out to be Ketchum, Idaho, near the Sun Valley - where Ernest Hemingway committed suicide. Hmm.

One of the policemen was ringing a fellow officer in another part of the state to come and join the manhunt. "Hey, the work will start tomorrow, but tonight we can go out to a bar, have a few drinks, catch up. What do you say?"

I suddenly felt really apprehensive. I wanted to say, "No," but couldn't. Suddenly, my awareness was taken to the other end of the phone call. Even though it should have been daytime, it was very dark. All I could see was the police officer's boots, which were damp and covered with hay. I could hear him say, "Mmmm. Yes, it would be good to see you." I grew more terrified as I saw freshly dug earth and looked down the hill from his car, where I knew there was a body just out of sight. As he got into his car, my awareness was pulled back to the caller, who threw his arms up and said, "He's coming over! We'll have an extra pair of hands, but first, a night of drinking!"

I went to say, "NO! It's HIM. It's one of you!" Then I woke up...

I can see a couple of patterns, but over to you first...

Have fun!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Did you really say that?

No commentary for this - the conversation speaks for itself:

Irim: Kiwi housemate (KH), why is there so much girl-on-girl in porn?
KH: Because guys get jealous if there's another man, so there can't be two men.
Irim: Really? Ok.
Young, squeaky clean housemate (YSCH): EWWWWW. There's girl on girl stuff? Ugh.
KH: There is porn for women out there. You could try that.
YSCH: Yeah, I've heard about that.

Irim moves to walk out of the room.

Then YSCH turns around and says:

Have you ever watched midget porn? It's really funny.

KH and I, used to her as Miss Goody Two shoes, stare at her speechless in shock, and then I started to laugh and couldn't stop...

...stay tuned. From this weekend, I'm starting a dream journal and will be posting some of them here at the blog. I'll probably note patterns and do some interpretation, but help from the blog gallery would be much appreciated.

Over and out - off to read some of John O'Donohue's "Anam cara", which I started last night.

Shabbat shalom! x

Sex and pancakes...

Knew that would get your attention.

Really, this should have been posted 10 days ago - sorry, I've been a bit lazy.

Ten days ago would be Pancake Night, an evening spent with a fellow CSI fan, pancakes, nutella, lemon and sugar and...real Canadian maple syrup. Mmmmm.

I love going round to hers - we talk and laugh about everything from toilet humour to job applications and how we're really feeling about life at the moment.

So it was no surprise when the first thing she said when biting into a pancake smothered with Nutella was "Sex had better be like this."

"Oh, it is," I promised.

After that, we behaved ourselves impeccably. But then she said, "Ooh, this pancake is kind of dark..."

To which I responded, "I want the Paki pancake."

It was truly a global night: we had a Norweigian pancake, a South Indian one, and one from sub-Saharan Africa. And every pancake was liberally massaged with lemon & sugar, Nutella or maple syrup, with no regard for their race, nationality or creed.

A truly equal opportunity pancake night.

Now, if only there had been a couple of gorgeous men who needed rubbing down with Nutella...

Friday, 1 February 2008

Further to the previous post...

An elaboration on my papal manifesto - musical, of course, courtesy of "Criminal Minds" and the performers, Deadman:

Please come close, for I long for you to hear,
Hear the sound that will rid you of your fears.
In a land where no water can be found,
In a place where there is no fertile ground.
Longing for, yearning not to be forgotten;
In an age when the music is forgotten,
In an age when the music is forgotten.

And the truth (and the truth) speaks of great and mighty things,
Teaching us (teaching us) what the peace of Heaven brings;
We must give (we must give), we must give to all the others,
Those in need (those in need) who we fear to call our brothers;
Reaching out (reaching out) so that we are not forgotten,
In a time (in a time) when the music is forgotten,
In a time (in a time) when the music is forgotten.

If we stand on a hill and do not touch,
How can we do good?
If we wash our hands of all our friends,
What change can really come?
If we hide our fears and don't draw near, Have we really lived?
Or are we all just standing here, Hoping there is grace?

In a dream (in a dream) that I had not long ago,
Visions of (visions of) a city made of gold;
And a sound (and a sound) that I'd never heard before,
such a sound (such a sound), saturating to the core;
such a sound(such a sound)! One that cannot be forgotten.
In a time (in a time) when the music's not forgotten,
in a time (in a time) when the music's not forgotten.

Amen. Now that would be a Catholicism I could live with, embrace - and one I'd be proud to lead.

A prophetic picture...

Oh yes. I will be. And then I will take over the a good way, of course...even if it is a cardinal sin for a woman to hope to become one:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

The first thing to happen will be that all priests undoubtedly guilty of paedophilia will be defrocked and handed to the secular authorities, with no hope of return. Then out with the celibacy and men-only rules. After that, anyone who lacks pastoral ability or displays any sign of serious emotional problems/addictions/personality disorders will be sent to counselling in the first instance, suspended if they make no progress, and there will be rigorous psychological evaluation for entry to a seminary or religious order. If you don't display pastoral gifts, guess what? You're not called.

Next on the agenda - free thinking will be more than welcome - the Church is, after all, only a vehicle to God. If we're all on board this *universal* vehicle, then let's be honest about what we believe, and let's be secure enough to really listen to the people in our carriage. The church would also become truly Catholic - it would reach out to all peoples and all nations - to everyone in need, regardless of race, nationality, religion. No more of this 'take care of our own' mindset. Everyone is our own.

I'd be shipping condoms in bulk to AIDS-ravaged countries...and working with charities from Amnesty International to WaterAid.

Sex and intimacy would be de-stigmatised. There would be a rigorous pre-marriage counselling programme - none of the c**p I've witnessed where a priest doesn't want to do the real thing because, well, 'sex is dirty, and anyway, marriage is really second to my perfect celibate life.' (I'd hand you the bucket, but I'm using it.) Give me a penny for the number of times I've heard, "I give them 5 years, tops," come out of a priest's mouth, and I'd never need to work again. You're supposed to believe it's a SACRAMENT, you lazy smartass. If you did your job properly and cared more about their lives than your office or the money you were getting, they might be in the right place right now: counselling or broken up, rather than all dolled up in your church, a tragedy waiting to happen. Marriage is a sacrament, sex is holy - the church needs to stop claiming that's what it believes and needs to start ACTING like that's what it believes.

Birth control? Yeah, I'd be teaching that. No couple should have to make the choice between having more children than they can love and support and the ultimate physical expression of their love and unity. Premarital sex? Yes, but I'd make sure you learned that you don't have to if you don't want to - come to it in love and whole, don't do it TO BE LOVED and TO BECOME WHOLE.

Above all, we'd be proclaiming love, tolerance, justice and the pursuit of truth from the rooftops. And helping everyone else to scramble on. No us and them. Never again.

We'd be a truly Catholic Church.

After all, there are really only a few basic principles to live by, whatever you believe: Love as much and as hard as you can; be the voice for the voiceless and protect the vulnerable; give generously and without thought of return...

but it really comes down to this: we are all One in God, which makes every ONE of us holy.

It's time we got off our knees and started acting like it.

As pope, my manifesto would be simple (though the above would be a few of many ways to express it):

Let us build a republic of heaven on Earth.