Sunday, April 21, 2019


Here in the buckle of the belt it is Easter and by, for,  and because of the LOVE OF GOD you will go to Church to believe the story of the day which is that a man who professed to be the son of God, born of a Virgin was crucified and three days later after his death resurrected back to life in order to cross over to the other side and rise to heaven to be with his dad.  So he was dead then alive to be dead again?  Okay, then.

Religion requires a suspension of disbelief that would be akin to Neil deGrasse Tyson watching The Martian.  The difference is that there are fewer scientists of his intellect in the world then there are believers of this book called the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud or any other religious text that makes one believe the stories told by men about visions or conversations they had with this God they call whatever name they choose to give.

This morning at dawn I awoke to BBC World News doing a story they called the Stations of the Cross. These were narratives told by women who had survived horrific lives to cross over to the other side of life in which to not just survive but to live.  Station 11 resonated with me as the narrator was so calm as she recalled her abuser taking her to a motel that the clerk asked no questions and only cared that the room was paid, where there was an elevator yet they never used as they walked up the stairs and there were thirteen, an irony not lost, and taken to a room where she serviced the sins of those who walked the same path.  No questions were asked and no one cared as long as the money was paid.   Ah yes ask me no questions I will tell you no lies.

This week again I found myself at a station myself where I  was asked a question and why I could not lie I wondered why I cared so much I was screaming at the top of my lungs to  a person who not unlike they many believers that align the pews of their place of worship wanting to believe whatever lies that they hear and in turn pay for them as a debt if not of gratitude but of obligation.

For me my home is my Sanctuary and my house of worship is the Theater. When the house lights go down and that moment before the first performer hits the stage there I see and experience a moment of excitement and pleasure that I feel in the early morning hours and that of the dusk when the light of day changes from night to day or day into night.  I am sure that is the moment when the air changes and all the goodness and darkness meld into one and I find peace.  Those are short time frames but yet they happen every day and it is every day I am grateful that I have another one to live and learn.  And I don't need to go to a place indoors to recognize the greatness of the world and its creation when it is all around me. 

Then I came to Tennessee a city on the rise, much like Christ, as there is little here they don't seem to appropriate that analogy when it comes to anything and everything here.  It is a sense of arrogance and entitlement that one would think would come from places that have rich histories, rich people and a rich culture that enables them to have that air of superiority; places like Manhattan  London, Paris and yes even like Moscow.   But there is little here to say that anything in Nashville is akin to these metropolitan cities, even Boston which I loathe, should be but really the people there are so horrific you rarely hear that city in the same breath unless it is about Sports, Marathons and Harvard.  Hmm that is  just like Nashville only we have a block of bars where the sinner go to wash away their sins down with cheap beer and really bad music that no church choir could ever replicate. To that I go, THANK GOD!

Perhaps why they lie here,  not like a rug as a rug offers decor, warmth and a sense of purpose, what lies that are on offer are just that lies.    When I came home to my place of peace and my sanctuary the other day I found a neighbor sitting aside the door to the unit below mine waiting for the real estate agent to let her in.  The same neighbor of the last two years who endlessly complains, whines and atones about the building, its neglect and the neighborhood all while having no reason to stay and who lives in a dumpier unit than mine for no other reason than this is convenient.  Almost everyone agrees this is a very convenient location.  If by convenient you mean "downtown" Nashville of which there is nothing for those who reside here unless honky tonks are your thing.    For the record there are better areas that are no less convenient but they are not as cheap and as a transient as this building.  So when we were told it was going condo someone forgot to tell the people who are still renting and the few that are buying that no one is going unless they are actually legally forced out and at this point reading laws and leases are seemingly beyond the capability of anyone who lives, runs or owns the building.  But the thought of this disturbing and bizarre girl living one step below was too much.  The six months I have left are my stations of the cross and each month I carry it one step at a time  to the end of the journey only with this cross I plan on dumping it at the state line as I am done abusing myself and being the victim.

I came here broken and I had an intent on fixing some of the things that mattered but the wound, the deeper wound I simply thought would heal as distance and time as we have been told often heals such wounds, had not.   Whoever said that must of been a Nashvillian as that is a big lie.  So while I have done little to nothing other than move here I do what I do best, keep busy, bury the dead and run from the living.   I should be a extra on Walking Dead as I have lived a life much like those survivors constantly on the move and on edge.

And while this week was the hysteria about the Muller Report I was in arms about my own rage and unhappiness that seems to never end. There are these brief moments where I feel that my cross has been lightened only to find another station around the corner and then up it goes on this back where seemingly no straw will ever break this Camel's.    So when I look up from the weight I cannot see the light as while I wear no crown of thorns my eyes are blurred not from blood or tears but of rage.
This is one cross that weighs a ton.

Trying to understand my anger means going back in history to study the past in which to learn for the future and try to cope in the present.  I have finally realized that all of this self analysis and self diagnosis is like the Bible it is just bullshit on a page that somehow is to supposed to explain, justify and excuse all the actions of man. Note man.  The men who write the stories rob those who surround them and take their strengths and make them their own.   Even the book of Psychiatric Disorders is called a "Bible" of mental health.  And when I read this story on NPR I could not ignore that this same Bible shares a common thread with the other as it too has labeled and mislabeled illnesses that had little to do with mental health and more about the personal issues of those who authored said bible.   Homosexuality anyone?  But there are many others that suddenly one finds oneself with a new label and fistful of pills in which to cure/treat/abuse or ignore. I found this essay on Bustle tries to explain what happens when you find yourself at a new station in which to place the cross.

 What defines us is often what destroys us.  We often choose that definition over time but often it is assigned to us and then we spend the rest of our lives trying to live it up, live it down or simply not live it.  We change names, we change spouses, we change gender and we change where we live.  We never stop changing and we never stop until we stop living.  But again this a CHOICE, we can choose our faith, we can choose our family and we can choose how we live our lives.  That is the purpose of free will.    Some are fine with who they are and they know that and like a tree they plant early put in their roots and spread and that they stand until the forces of nature or man choose to no longer wish it too.

 This past week found several cherry trees here in Nashville being dug up to be "moved" to meet the demands of the next biggest religion in the South - Sports.  The absurd NFL draft arrives here next week and to think that watching a bunch of men, pick a bunch of boys and paying big money for them to play on their teams is just another irony here in the South as it seems to remind me of a slave auction as most players are in fact Black and it cannot be lost that for many faces of color the only way to find success and wealth is from Sports  But the irony that this is also from Football, a sport that abuses the body and inevitably takes the mind as some reward for being the best at what you can do to entertain the masses.   And here in Nashville they are literally finding absurd religious analogies to this as some type of resurrection to the city.   To that I go MY GOD!  And yet I find myself using the same sporting analogy to define and understand my anger, that the perpetual state of offense in which I live has put me in a perpetual state of defense; that is anger's paradox - a strength and a weakness. 

The story of Jesus found himself with 12 Disciples and one willing to sell himself out for 30 Pieces of Silver, funny I think people in Nashville would sell themselves for less.  The obsession with money, the arrogance, the entitlement again shows itself in the children and their parents who cannot seem to function in the most basic of settings.  Yesterday at Yoga once again we found ourselves cleaning up after the previous class as if putting away the tools you use in which to keep God's body and mind strong and capable (as the walls at the YMCA are adorned with such scripture) is overwhelming.  Funny  that again that more than 3/4 of the people who live here are overweight and have massive health issues which is a  good thing that the major employers here are Hospitals, with Vanderbilt being the largest.

And  as we put away our tools another student and I spoke with the Teacher about the way people are here and the inability to listen and actually hear when you speak.  And when they do hear you they elect to select what you say and ignore it or misrepresent it.  My Yoga teacher was told to encourage the concepts of Yoga philosophy in her classes at Vanderbilt, which she did and was promptly reprimanded for teaching a "religion."  Which is odd as that was the same day the observer/evaluator commented that such a tool would be welcome.  So which is it?   Then  there was another time when asking students who were on their Menstrual cycle to advise her so she could accommodate. This was considered too personal a question.   Another strike.  Will the third be you're fired?  Doubtful this is not about anything that really matters as none of it is here it is simply to put people in their place, to reprimand and to scold is what they do, from the pulpit to the street it is a never ending struggle to listen and to be heard.    The fellow student, a trained and educated Nurse, was called addled by a Doctor there due to the meds she was using to offset knee pain which was why she was there in the first place in order to find another solution.  But rather that listen was instead  given a drug that she specifically told him she was allergic too leading to further major health issues and all accompanied by a bill.   So much for putting the Patient first.  She, as I did after my first go around with Vanderbilt, complained to all the executives and others in charge and in turn apologies offered but no real accommodation to resolve what brought her there in the first place,  so she moved on to another facility to find care.  In my case I decided I had to finish what I started  and see this as  just another station of which to stop with my cross but again it has been a lot to bear.   Vanderbilt has major problems and most of them surround communication, the word of Christ is one I have said many times during my encounters with the staff there.

Prayer is the drug, the message, the miracle,  and the tool used to salve the body and the mind.  Prayer is my conversation with God but in reality it is just to hear myself speak, to remind myself I am sane and yet talking to oneself is also a  sign of mental illness.  Ah yes another conundrum and another lie.   Faith is just that a belief and a choice.   That thing that Religion seems to want to take you away from, choosing to decide what one needs for one self.   But this same prayer to generate faith is used win a game, to get the lotto millions and to heal the sick.  So this gives you an idea how the tool that which is used to hammer a point home that only those who practice said faith matter and get what they deserve.  Funny about that prayer thing isn't it.    I have realized living here I don't get any of it.    I was told yesterday that the derogatory slurs, the ignorance and the failure to listen to me is not something I should take personally.  Well there is truth to that as there is again a presumption that everyone is an idiot and in turn need to be disrespected but when it is just coming at you non stop what choice do you have but to take it anything bu personal.  I see and that the reality that the idea of strength comes from this faith, from these teachings that fill this book that is of fiction. There is no way that all of this matters other than to those who wrote it and yet thousands of years later it is still literally gospel. Well I have taught history and literature for years and found strength in facts and from fiction but I know the difference.  And I know that when you speak to me personally it should be personal by knowing me and knowing of me.   So the only way I can cope is by withdrawing to my sanctuary and hiding in my home.  And the week that found the ways I do so falling apart (aka my Sonos system collapsing along with the thought of that lunatic nut living one step too close was another straw another station) and despite and finding others who have had similar problems doesn't make it better it just makes me less alone.  And I guess that is what wish to find in my Easter basket, Harvey, the invisible bunny that kept Elwood sane in a time of need.

 If you do not know the story it is about Elwood P. Dowd (played in the movie by James Stewart) a wealthy drunk who starts having visions of a giant rabbit named Harvey.   Elwood lives with his sister Veta  and her daughter; Veta worries that Elwood has gone insane. In the process of trying to have him committed, Veta admits that she occasionally sees Harvey herself. The director of the mental home, Dr. Chumley, tries to reconcile his duty to help Elwood with his own growing experiences with Harvey.

And that is what I wonder if being mad brings on the madness and that I will find myself crossing over to the other side where I cannot be rescued and in turn resurrected.   Life is like the water at the Baptismal fount and in turn gives life but faith that is intrinsic not extrinsic.  So sit in your pews and talk aloud and call it prayer and sing a song for the missing.  I will not be there and I know no one misses me and I will walk on with those who choose a different path to carry their cross.  I just keep reminding myself that this is not a place I plan on resting with mine. For a place of such Christians they are few and far between.   True Believers often are.   No wonder we walk alone.  But we are not missing we just have not been found, we too can be resurrected.

Monday, April 15, 2019

To Be Or Not

Is that not the proverbial question that Hamlet asked

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

So that is all about living or dying only death is brought by one's own hand.  I do think we have all pondered that question when the darkest nights have become our dawns and I am no less guilty of it.  Mine was walking down a street as I looked at ways to kill oneself with over the counter drugs, such as Advil with other like medications or alcohol to act as a toxic poison.  I thought if I got high enough on Marijuana that I could manage then by finally pulling a Whitney and drowning in the tub.  As I was doing that it was the Gypsy  who walked up to me and said to me that day, "Whatever you are doing please stop." And then I jumped into a new place of worship and ran that for awhile until I decided that while she was cheaper than therapy she was just another port in a storm and like the cards she tossed I chose to toss another and move to Tennessee.  Little did I know how cards like ports were so cavalierly drawn and withdrawn when the holder has so many in their hands and yet they are not open unless like my Gypsy, cash is in the other on offer.

 Life is a river that flows with the currents and while I continue my swimming here in the deep red sea of the Cumberland River in Nashville I wonder what other shores can offer and if there is a dock or pier I can emerge and find respite.  It is not here and it seems that when you are an outsider there is only so long they will allow you stay on board the cruise ship that sails these waters.

This past week the Director of Schools found himself on the other side of the school door and was ceremoniously shown the exit.  Naturally the waters were black and dark and that was the reason that many came to the conclusion he was asked to leave, they failed to note he was leaving with over a quarter of a  million dollars and was so happy to go he chose the Twitter handle "JosephUnchained,"  a note to Django Unchained, a horrifically over the top movie that Quentin Tarantino did as some sort of whitewashing black culture.   I guess he is not racist in the least as the Director seemed to believe all his challengers were,  as anyone daring to question a black man failing at his job is.  And Nashville Schools are awash with many who have tried to navigate said waters only to fail and leave on the next ship out of town so while he may be a "first" he is not the last.    Like Othello his Iago failed him but then this Prince did not suffer the same fate as he sailed away with his hands full.

 I mention the Director as we arrived at the same moment in time and it appears we are leaving in the same time frame.   He was thought of as a Savior in every sense and I arrived as the Carpetbagger with nothing more to offer but thought of one who is here just to take.     I finally gave in  and placidly accepted each slur and derogatory glance and whisper as that that is how it is here.   I did not see behind it darker references to my gender, age or place of birth as I accepted it as the "Nashville Way."  Ah the slings and arrows of God's Army.   For a city of Christians it fails to act in every concept of the word.

This is Nashville,  a city that faces a body of water,  but that turns its back upon it.  And to Nashville the pulpit is their prosperity and to enter the city you must either drown it or brings to the alter the sole matter of import - money.   From fame, from fortune, from greed or from need without money there is no welcome mat to await you when you come to the shore.  That dock or that pier is there for rental, a brief place to refill, refuel and to then leave, ensuring still that an offering on the plate was made but they have no plans on offer  to reciprocate or thank you for your donation.    There are however false smiles, nods of heads and promises that like the Country Music that fills your ears which are nothing more than lies and broken promises.   The smell that dominates the air is not of hot chicken but of desperation and that is what one feels from everyone you pass on the shore.  They are there like you in search of some permanence, a place to rest and a place to be,  but as they find one door another closes and after awhile you jump back in the water just to feel something, to feel clean and pure again.

Water is symbolic of washing away one's sins.  The Baptismal fount that is to clean a baby and anoint it a child of God is to of course introduce said baby to the faith it will practice for life  This idea of holy water as a sacramental for protection against evil is common among Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and varying other Christian faiths that align the shores here in Nashville like fast food restaurants along a highway.  But water has a role in many religions for two reasons:  First, it cleanses and washes away impurity.  It makes something appear clean and new again.  But this is not just physically but spiritually as well.   The second reason is that is the building block of life. For without water there is no life.  Water can create but it can destroy and the very Cumberland of which I swim nearly did to this city a decade ago.  It may be why the city simply ignores the threat and goes on with songs that fill the honky tonks align the street that once became filled with water and not tourists; however, those are the kind of Carpetbaggers they love here.  Come stay and leave your money at the door like sins left at a confessional.

In Christianity there is a story of a flood and about of God's decision to return the Earth to its pre-creation state of watery chaos in which to remake it in a reversal of creation.  In  Zoroatriansim, they  are very specific as they take that same story and believe that it was a threat to the sinful world where there was a need to build a ship  in which to put specimens of all animals, humans and foods in pairs in which to survive the flood and in turn build this new purer better world.  In Nashville where the way of Broad sits it is the King of Churches in which all donations are made of free will and without demand, a street was once a place of sin and now it is salvation for this the city of it. Funny how from sin all is excused when money is on the offer.   And yet all of this could once again be washed away when the river rises to seek its wrath again in the future.  Or is that to clean and to purify?

All stories have a central role and place in all faiths and all of them have stories about the power and significance of water.  From Babies in baskets to save the world to the waters that drown it? Who wrote such stories, how did they come to be so believed?  So many questions, so few to no answers.   No one cares as we only care about those that are own.  Religion is the foundation of confirmation bias and that extends in to all phases of thoughts and beliefs in one's life be they learned from both the informal and formal ways one does learn such things.    Despite all this water we have seen of late there is little good when water arrives without invite and fish like company stink after three days.  So is this for cleansing or for punishment?  Hmm... more questions no answers by either human or spirit.

As a woman I think of how the role of women in the Church have been portrayed and yet even today women cannot enter their homes or places of worship during their menstrual cycle as they are thought of as impure and unclean.  And this crosses faiths and believes in all the texts that preach the dogma, the stories and rules for which the followers interpret and believe as their own.   Funny that in reality and in science (which must be suspended in disbelief in order to believe in this higher power)  blood is not dirty when it comes from the body and yet it is thought of as such when it comes from a women, the same blood that enables life and yet these same people will go out of their way to prevent women from choosing and deciding about their bodies and life.   So who wrote these passages, made this dogma that let women die in isolation when it is a function of life?  The same that believe to take a life for a misdeed, for an infraction, for advocating war and violence to resolve a conflict where more blood is shed.  So is that blood clean and good as it was for the good of all and yet the blood that comes from the source of all life is unclean; and let us not forget when a woman no longer is biologically capable of shedding blood she too is no longer valuable.  Our worth is tied to fertility and it imprisons and isolates us in ways more than that the three stations of the cross we bear. 

 I feel this essay covers many of the issues that surround faith and women and how it lends to the behaviors and attitudes around what it is like to be a woman in the world regardless of faith. And the irony again that here in Tennessee the Domestic Violence numbers are wash upon the shore like plastic bags in the ocean that choke the fish and kill our marine life.  To be or not death is not a choice for those who forget that being a steward of the faith means loving all that lives and breathes, man or beast.  Stewardship is not just an act of benevolence it is an act of Christianity.

As  these shores align with the Churches that mask as lighthouses and they each use their own light in which to signal who is to enter and more importantly to note who is to remain in the water.  For them the water is the life and the blood is of Christ and it is shed with limitations and restrictions and it is there to both give and take.  For those who have little to offer from a life born into circumstances less than those they are deserved of less and the endless beliefs that come from mantras and dogmas are as false as those who wrote them.  And he who accuses excuses as it apples to those that stand outside buildings that help the needy in less Biblical sense shouting profanities and hurling names, as they know they have God's forgiveness regardless of their acts.   

The moral superiority is the act of entitlement that demonstrates itself in the rudeness, the general unkindness, the dismissveness and the odd baiting of you like a fish that they pull ashore and play with only to neither eat nor toss back but just let it flop and die.  Fish another symbol that again represents Christianity is just that a symbol like a tattoo you have but forgot what it meant that drunken night it was permanently affixed to your skin.  And like the original symbol that pagans and Greeks and Romans used it to represent fertility or, more specifically, the female reproductive organs. As once again it is all about water and life and blood and what defines women's worth.    Later the Christians used it as a symbol to message the followers as unlike say, the cross,  it attracted little suspicion, making it a perfect secret symbol for persecuted believers. 

Ah that defines Christianity the persecution complex and nowhere seems to envelop that better than Nashville. The have, the have nots, the racial disparities, the newcomers versus the natives and the seekers of fame and the singers who align the river like choral messengers of a choir to call the congregation into the hall of worship and leave their sins at the door but bring their wallets within. The cry of the battle is the message that defines history and tells the story about those who fought and who one. The arrival of the messenger be that the face of the pulpit or of the politic in the South they are often one in the same. 

In that respect I read a piece in the The New Yorker, Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds, and there is no greater divide in the grand canyon of life that fact versus faith.  Perhaps that is why the population is so resistant to education as facts make one question ones beliefs in search of truths.  I have my truths as we have come to say of late and yes they are yours and yours alone they may not be mine.  But to divide is to conquer and to conquer is to assimilate and in turn be homogeneous as when we are all indistinguishable other than the color of our skin and our gender we can pretend we share a set of values and their is then no threat to the order.  Conformity is like sheep and lets keep the sheep herded.

And that is why I find myself constantly swimming upstream and why the Director of Schools and the Former Slattern/Mayor found themselves pushed back in the water. They did not know their place and when in power, power corrupts absolutely and that flood will come to cleanse you and wash away your sins.  The only problem with some water is that what brings things to the shore has an undercurrent that can pull things away.     The tow is always strong, it is seductive and the choral messenger of the Ocean often has a seductive song.  The idea is to get there without drowning or again to be or not an allow yourself to sleep with the fishes.   Seduction is powerful and sinful and yet without sin we have no life.   Ah to be or not.