Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Reflections on re-joining my HS class

What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am? --Oriah, Prelude to The Invitation

I am doing a Holy Week post - no, really. (Sorry, Dom, I know I promised! By Maundy Thursday...)

It just seems to be further down my muse's list than I think it should be. Or maybe there's just a certain way I think it has to happen, how I picture it unfolding - and that's not the way it's meant to. So I'm going to do something I find very hard - let it go. When it wants to be written, it will be.

This morning, as I scrolled down the 250-odd news items in my fb feed (I have busy friends), I noticed that one of my friends from high school had joined the fb group for our class. "Wow," I thought. "I didn't know my class had an FB group!" I went across to see who was there, and saw 20 members, including my 7th grade geography teacher, Mr Caussin, whom I've now friended.

Join? Not join? I was a year younger than the girls in my group, and my close friends - Nicole, Larisa, Sue, Lauren, Lauri - were all in the year below. I never really felt *part* of my class. In no way was this a fault of the class I was a member of: I had overprotective, controlling parents who wanted to push me as hard as possible academically without making sure I had a solid social life and support network to balance that - so I stood out in all the wrong ways, vacillating between lashing out, being standoffish and unbearably know-it-all. I didn't know how to connect, to have fun, to revel in the carefree time it should have been, with mingled apprehension and expectation of the life to unfold ahead, aware of the possibilities and potential I carried within me. So I never bonded with them over boys, parties, class activities, sports - so it never really gelled, despite the 7 years I was a member. I suspect life in that class would have been exactly the same had I gone to Springbrook, my local state school.

Nonetheless, I joined the fb group. No matter our past, we share a history. Outsider or no, they are my peops, those I grew up with, went through classes with, shared a school culture with. It was time to step into my past and own it - to make it mine.

Of course, the first thing I did was go to the photograph tab - expecting to feel what I felt in high school...or at best, nothing. But as soon as the first picture popped up, I was stunned. As I looked at these faces that I knew so well - yet didn't - frozen in a moment of time from our shared history, I was overcome by a fierce protectiveness and love for the girls they once were.

And for the women they've become, though I know them not. Such are the ties that bind.

The profile picture is of all 75+ of us at our graduation. Me in a white sari, the others in white dresses, looking out at the photographer on what was to be one of the most important days of our lives. Happy faces, apprehensive ones, sad ones, hopeful... did any of us, I wonder, as we stepped out on our paths, have an idea of how much possibility and potential lay before us? The choices we could make, including the one of stepping off the expected path of parents, society, school? Choosing our own success, creating out own paintings, defining success for ourselves? Knowing we could start again every day.

I doubt it. But maybe we have more of an inkling now.

What would I say if I could step through that photographer's lens and speak to those girls, to those expectant, happy, sad faces, with Senator Danforth's wonderful commencement speech on applauding for others yet to come? I'd ask them the question at the start of this piece, and then I'd ask them the following, also from the Prelude to Oriah's The Invitation:

What if the task is simply to unfold, to become who you already are in your essential nature- gentle, compassionate and capable of living fully and passionately present?

How would this change what you think you have to learn?

How would this shape the choices you have to make about how to spend today?

What if you knew that the impulse to move in a way that creates beauty in the world will arise from deep within and guide you every time you simply pay attention and wait?

How would this shape your stillness, your movement, your willingness to follow this impulse, to just let go and dance?

To understand, they might need the experience that was the gift of their lives yet to come: the joys, the sorrows, the losses, the heartbreak, the epiphanies, the everyday moments that were the threads that would form the tapestry of their lives. I'd give that girl in the sari an extra look of encouragement and try to let her know just how strong she really was. And to let her know, through the emotions struggling with each other on her face, that one day, she would understand.

Because I love her too. And I find myself rather fond of the woman she's become - I like to flatter myself that I know her very well, though sometimes she surprises me.

To my girls going to our reunion in a few weeks' time: I may not have been with you then, but I'm with you now. I wish you all the love and joy in the world, and may each year find you happier than the last. I can't be with you in body, but I'll be with you in heart and spirit. I wish I were there to hear your stories - but I hope to hear at least some of them here on facebook. Know that my love is with you.

Celebrate your lives and be proud. After all...

...we've come a long way, baby.

Monday, 15 March 2010

On why I hate the prodigal son, Mary & Martha and Sunday's sermon

I *HATE* the parable of the prodigal son. And I will NOT be told that I'm supposed to like it, how it's about 'forgiveness', or how mean-spirited I'm being.

Sorry, folks, but the tale of the prodigal son SUCKS ROCKS. It sucks as much as Jesus rebuking Martha, who is going through all this work so HE can get fed and feel at home, whilst Mary is sitting on her comely Palestinian ass not lifting a finger. You know, Big J, I love you, really, I do. But this was the time to say, "Mary, stop gazing up at me lovingly and go help your sister with the cooking. In fact, *I'll* come help cook - and we'll do that party thing of TALKING IN THE KITCHEN!"

Deal done. They both get to listen to Big J and Martha gets some help. I so love my problem-solving skills. *Preen* And the thought of Jesus in an apron, elbow deep in flour, really does it for me.

The prodigal son. Where to start? Asks dad for his half of the inheritance. Fine. Goes off to shag, drink, go crazy, fine. Goes broke - irresponsible, not fine.

Decides he'd eat the husks the pigs would. Fine, go for it. Actions, consequences.

After years of not giving a toss (rather than having a terrible relationship and cutting ties), "Oh, I'll go to Dad, he'll at least give me what he gives the servants! I'll go say, 'Dad, I suck and don't deserve to be your son, that should do the trick!'''

Dude, WTF?

Every priest I've asked about this has told me that this is about real repentance. This isn't real repentance; this is 'how do I get food in my stomach because I was enough of a dumbass not to set some money aside to earn interest?' If it were real repentance, occasioned when he was rich and in the midst of bounty, I'd have sympathy.

But well, erm, let's read my paraphrase of the Jerusalem Bible, shall we? That's one of the most pre-planned emotionally manipulative pieces of dialogue I've ever seen. For me, the emotional tenor is utterly fake.

As Daniel said in his sermon, the younger son is selfish (he said it about the elder too, but I disagree with him there, and we'll come to that in a moment).

To my priests: If I presented THAT to you in the confessional, you'd kick my ass (Dom would, anyway, he can spot fake repentance at a distance that would put a sniper to shame).

So there's problem number 1: younger son's selfishness.

Problem #2: Dad's reaction. Fine, run towards him and hug him, he's your boy.

But FFS, THE FATTED CALF?????????????????????????? INVITE EVERYONE IN TOWN?


Maybe this is my sympathy as a fellow eldest, I don't know - but I think it's more than that. Here's the dutiful son - the one who has worked alongside his father, quietly, dependably, constantly for years. He doesn't even get an animal for a dinner with his friend.

But his father kills the fatted calf for this emotionally manipulative little BRAT who hasn't even really said, from the heart, 'I'm sorry'?

Damn right, he's angry. I'm angry for him.

Why? Because time after time, I see people like the eldest son get taken for granted - the people who are quiet, dependable, always there. The father can claim that 'what's mine is yours', blah blah, but he appears to have a very poor understanding of human nature. His eldest, the steady, dependable one, needs OVERT appreciation as much as the younger wayward son needs to be welcomed back to the family. And what does the younger son learn by this huge feast? Go squander your life and come back home - not only will Dad welcome you back, he'll kill the most valuable animal for you.

Hmmmmmmmmm. Tanya Byron wouldn't be impressed. Neither am I.

Welcome him back with a low-key family dinner, let his brother have a go, really bring him home. Then set him to work the next morning. He's home and is always welcome there, but being high-maintenance and high-drama will get him no more attention than that.

So let this be a lesson to us all: turn and thank those who are always there for you - dependable, strong, those you almost take for granted. They're your real treasures, the ones who will always be there when you need them.


Today's sermon:

1. Pro-life as first principle.

Response: Yes, if that isn't equated with 'anti-abortion'. They're not the same thing. To be pro-life is to maximize the ability of every human being to live their life to the fullest: that's anti-war, anti-death penalty, dealing with refugees in a humane way, being anti-discrimination, making sure all have access to the same education/opportunities, creating a vocational track that's as good and as respected as the university track, continuing adult education, health insurance for all, the best health care, being allowed to be yourself, and so on.

But you can be pro-choice and all that.

2. No Catholic can vote pro-choice.

Here, we will respectfully disagree. I have thought out my pro-choice position, am aware that I am in opposition with the Church and have made my peace with that - but I don't feel it is in opposition to my Catholicism, which is about loving God and loving my neighbour; compassion; being pushed to be what I am meant to be.

Keeping abortion safe and legal is part of that.

3. 'Value free education' is to be avoided.

Agreed - though we disagree on the problem here: my argument is that there is NO SUCH THING as 'value-free education' - whether or not you claim to be teaching values, you ARE. Far better to have them explicit than implicit so you can choose, challenge, consider them.

4. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks rocks.


5. Secular society is at fault for... [fill in the blank]

Mmmmmm. Don't think we can go there till we examine ourselves first - and I mean saying 'The Catholic Church isn't perfect; it has a long way to go.'

One of my friends, when I pointed this out after mass, said, "But the secular world isn't easy on us."

Perhaps, but stop and think. How does secular society perceive you? As an institution that sees itself as having 'the truth' and as being better than it is. When is it hard on you? When it becomes blatantly clear that the institution ISN'T - that people are just the same inside as out.

I think they have an excuse, and I think secular society can be one of your greatest gifts if you pay attention to the mirror it holds up.

6. Sex education bill - wrong.

Need to read it first. But if the 'teaching sex at 5' hysteria is as blown out of proportion as I suspect it is, and is really only about telling kids NOT to let anyone touch them in certain places, talk to an adult if they feel uncomfortable, etc., I have to be all for that. It might have made all the difference to me. Not with my parents, but with someone else.

7. If someone is left out, we're all left out.

*HIGH FIVE* Absofuckinglutely.

8. Society is more than an aggregate of individuals.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! FTW! I'll happily see any of Maggie Thatcher's quotes dismantled any day...

Pandas will rule the world...

How do I get into conversations like these? This doesn't just happen to me on FB chat, btw.

What you need to know here is that the part of Dani is being played by James, and that (^^^) = a shark in fb chat. <(") is a penguin.

The shark appears to have evolved into a friendship totem for James and me, as we were pretty cross during a chat recently and wanted to sic (^^^) on various people.


The role of Dani has been temporarily assumed by her awesome, great, and relatively handsome husband *bow*

Good evening, Miss Irim. I was forced to make my lovely wife eat her dinner






Greetings Mr Jensey


Our forces are in alignment. That's good to know. (^^^)(^^^)

(^^^)(^^^) (^^^)(^^^) (^^^)(^^^) (^^^)(^^^) (^^^)(^^^)


(^^^)(^^^) Indeed

(^^^)(^^^) (^^^)(^^^)


I need to make certain you've had your (^^^)(^^^) quota of the day.


May the force be with you

thank you. And I you


And also with you


(^^^)(^^^) (^^^)(^^^) (^^^)(^^^) (^^^)(^^^) (^^^)(^^^)


jump the (^^^)(^^^)







I have way too much fun with those guys


Me too

Does this make me violent, I wonder?



[my attempt to have shark eat penguin]


I don't believe so. Not unless you're ordering your (^^^)(^^^) minions out into the masses to unleash destruction


I like them as guards


That's what they're best for.


I try to feed them a controlled amount of <(") or fish


Yes, those penguins are rather shifty creatures


I'm glad to know someone else doesn't quite trust them


<(") (^^^)(^^^)

Penguins are just well disguised aquatic pandas

It's rather sad that people find them so adorable and cute... No one believes me about the pandas either. :(:(

But when our furry overlords rule with an iron paw, then they'll know.

so sad...

humanity in the grips of pandas


And now as I try and spread word of their evil deeds, I am being pulled away... sigh




We're off to the eye doctor's in a few.


Later my friend. We'll start an fb group


Dani will pop back on and try and tell it's all nonsense, but she's part panda, so...

Maybe we should start a group


you married a panda? That was brave.


(^^^)(^^^) A few more for the road. (^^^)(^^^) It was a ploy on their part. I found out too late. Take care Miss Irim! (^^^)(^^^)


I think this conversation might have to become an fb note

That way, I can start to get the word out.


Oh Irim... you can't betray me like that! ;);) (We now return you to Dani)


Is it Dani who will feel betrayed??? By telling that you're part panda???


Considering I am part Panda... and you'd spread those horrible lies my husband has told you! The horror! ;)

And our children... what will become of them... they've Panda in their blood too... ;);)


An fb note it is then...


I find the whole thing totally hilarious.

Besides, it's only a matter of time before we rule the world.


As Dani's last comment proved, pandas are simply using their cute cuddliness to bring down our guard so they can use our vulnerability to rule the world. I'll be putting my guard back up with Chris Bear.

You've been warned. Join our group and spread the word before it's too late...