Reflections on Moments...

I haven't written in quite some time. This is less because I've fallen off the planet and more because I've been very busy with traveling (to Washington and Wisconsin and Minnesota) and falling (and staying) in love and celebrating holidays and birthdays and parties and buying a house with Jesse and moving into said house and renting/selling the old one (anybody want a house?) and hosting my visiting brother for a few weeks and with his aid rescuing my mom from Arkansas and getting my band off the ground. (Hug the Con Man, formed the week before Thanksgiving, with whole weeks taken off for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and moving. I sing. And write things.)

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Why it might be our Christian Duty to get Vaccinated...

A few weeks ago I made the decision to start taking communion via intinction. This is dipping the host into the wine and consuming them together instead of drinking from the common cup (which does contain pretty potent wine, and which is also wiped off by the adminstrants between recipients). My rationalization for this was as follows:
  1. There are elderly at my church, some nonzero number of whom may have compromised immune systems.
  2. Elderly people can die from a lot of illnesses I might unknowingly carry and which happen to be going around right now.
  3. I live a pretty high-stress life in which I don't take the best of care of myself (the best of care I would define as eating properly, exercising daily (with a rest day each week), and sleeping at least eight hours each night) and thus I am at high risk for infection.
  4. If I did get infected, I would be a carrier of such for some incubation period before I ever even knew there was something I was carrying which could hurt people.  
I made this decision for myself, and haven't dared suggest to anyone else that they follow suit, however it is of note that the Episcopalian Church, in preparation for a potential flu outbreak, has reminded parishoners that receiving communion in one kind has been doctrinally determined to be sufficient, which means that just receiving the body and abolishing the common cup is an acceptable measure to undertake in order to avoid spreading the epidemic in an individual parish should an outbreak occur.

That said, I've had a lot of friends asking questions regarding the need to vaccinate their children against H1N1 and I've had some relatives posting helpful information and links regarding reasons to be vaccinated based upon the epidemiology of the outbreak, and I've weighed in on some of those discussions, but I am not going to make a case for vaccinating your children here.  I'm going to make a case for vaccinating yourself here.  In so doing, I feel the need to make the disclaimer that I have not yet been vaccinated for H1N1 or the seasonal flu at this time, and the reason for this is because there is a shortage of vaccines in my area, such that the large hospitals and clinics are canceling vaccine clinics in order to keep their stores for those at highest risk of death or hospitalization from such. When such is readily available, I will immediately go get vaccinated for reasons I'm about to describe.

The people most at risk for death or hospitalization from flu infection are the elderly, children and young adults under 22, pregnant women, and immunosuppressed adults in none of the aforementioned categories. Within these categories, however, are individuals who are so immunosupressed they should not be given a vaccination at all. You've likely heard that you shouldn't get a vaccine when you are already sick with something else.  Well, there are some people in society with cancer, or HIV, or with persistent staph infections, or hepatitis, etc., such that they cannot be immunized at all.  Some college kids with run of the mill mononucleosis may be advised not to be vaccinated for a number of months.

What few people realize is that we encounter these people all over. Even if you cannot think of anyone you know in any of these categories, unless you're a hermit and don't go to grocery stores or libraries, don't take public transportation, and vow not to visit a hospital even if someone close to you is hospitalized, you are at risk of making people sick if you get sick. I didn't realize, for instance, that a member of the Jekyll & Hyde cast had cancer until two weeks before the show opened.  If that guy gets sick on my watch I'm going to feel horrible, and somewhat personally responsible. 

Sure, you might not know you are sick, and feel like you could say "Well, sure, I made them sick, but I didn't know I was sick, so how can I be blamed?"  Well, consider yourself under advisement. All of us are potential Typhoid Marys.  This flu season (and every flu season) there is a possibility you might make someone sick, and that sickness could kill them. And those of us that are Christians should be all the more aware that just as our driving habits affect the way the world watches us, our vaccination habits may affect our ability to be salt and light to the world.  The last thing I want is an elderly person afraid to go to church because there are young people there that might be potential contaminants.  I also do not want somebody in the hospital to think twice about calling me to come pray for them because I might expose them (and the other hospital occupants) to the flu. It's beautiful in some ways, for in lowering the risk of sickness for myself, I am also lowering the risks for my neighbor.  If enough of us get vaccinated, we might even manage to eliminate the risk pool altogether.

So there are my thoughts, which are, in conclusion, that we Christians should actually be the forerunners of those taking steps to protect society from sickness by getting vaccinated. Here's to hoping that my area gets more supplies so that I, too, can join the ranks of those who are loving my neighbor by sparing him from  potentially deadly flu transmission from my house. In the meantime, perhaps you, dear reader, should consider this while you make decisions about your own houses.

In Which I Relate Some Drivel....

I read the One Year Bible, New Living Translation about three to five mornings out of seven while I'm eating breakfast. Yesterday I was reading and was all "Wow, Jehoshaphat was the shiznit!" and was super-excited about cool stuff God did while he was king and then today I was like "Wow, his son Jehoram was horrible - killed his brothers and sisters? The hell?"

And that's how it goes, the Bible is as much of a roller coaster as I am, so it fits. I'm on the "skip" plan, as described to me by Julie Leman some ten years ago, wherein you just open the OYB to whichever date it is and worry nothing about that which you missed when you didn't read the day or two before. I read it all the way through about once a year in a bunch of different translations (NIV, The Message, NLT, TNIV, ESV - that's all I can recall) for several years so I'm not afraid there's some one section I'll forever miss or whatever.

I don't feel a compulsion to read every day - I read because I like it. I also don't feel the compulsion to go to church every week - I go because I like it. Although, I'm starting to feel a little twinge of guilt on that topic. Not because I think God thinks I should go every week or any nonsense like that - it's just that I'm the coordinator for the Something Society, and perhaps that means I should go meet people and the like. I just don't want to do it - I want to ride my bike on Sunday mornings when the weather is nice, and sleep in with Jesse when it isn't, but that's just how it goes. I don't know how I shall resolve this dissonance. Church attendance is for other seasons, not summer. I think I may pocket veto these problems and then in a month when it is no longer summer and I am excited about meeting people and the Something Society is holding events again, I'll go. Yes, that seems logical. Pocket veto it is.

Anyway that's about all I have. Oh, except that there's a time trial tonight and if I'm really lucky and the winds are really right and I ride my tail off, I might be able to shave off some more time on my PR and get close to or break the womens' course record. My current PR is 35 seconds off but I didn't work very hard to get that one, and now my bike's computer works and I'll know when I drop below 23 mph and be able to consciously say "Nope, not gonna go that slow." The computer's quantitative feedback will really help. That is, if the race isn't called for thunderstorms.

Jesse gets back from Minnesota this evening. I haven't seen him in 11 days and although we've texted and talked and even briefly debated the Amazon Kindle back-door deletion of content issue via email, I've missed him. I hope I get to see him soon.

...On Crossing the Rubicon...

Listening to Jars of Clay always makes me cry. It's a very strange thing these days, because right now I am really happy with life, but these songs can undo me in a way tasting of bittersweetneess and love-lost nostalgia like nothing else. I've been listening to their two most recent non-holiday studio albums (Good Monsters and The Long Fall Back To Earth) this evening and all the songs speak to me as if I made the wrong choice, and yet I know based on how little I worry and hurt and cry and how seldom I have been scared in the recent past that the dragons are behind and not ahead. That, of course, is saddening in and of itself.

I've been seeing a fellow for a few weeks now. His name is Jesse and I'm not going to say too much, but I'm very happy. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop (because in my experience there are always these extraneous shoes somewhere waiting to hit me in the head), but despite the tear-count of nights like this, I'm not actually sad; I'm finally allowing myself to feel again.

When I was young I used to feel without abandon. It was what made me, me. I am capable of thought and reason and God made those and gifted me with them, but my gut, while arrogantly strong, and occasionally wayward, is seldom wrong. The hole I dropped myself into when I started thinking too much and feeling too little is somewhere back there but I'm not going to return for sprained ankles and broken wrists again.

I think I've learned a lot though, and I'm grateful to those who have helped me with it - those who challenged me on intellectual grounds and drove into my stubborn head that my gut, while amazing, is not omniscient nor incapable of folly. It has also been helpful to learn that my modus operandi is disconcerting to most and offensive to some. For that, I apologize.

But as of now I feel rather at peace about myself and who I am and who I'm becoming, and I have few apologies about that save that I wish I could have managed to get here with less havoc wrought, hearts somehow left unbroken, and fewer harsh words exchanged. Regrets remain but I'm done manning the buckets of sorrow that have been coming through the ceiling and have finally gone up to the roof to patch the leaks. I'm not scared anymore, and I'm going to cry and love and care and go back to being me. The eggshells have been swept up, tossed out of the house, and no more will be walked upon.

And so I'm walking into another relationship blindly, for that is the way vulnerability works, but this time I am going with my gut and I am not going to think and certainly not worry about it anymore. I also know that if I take another hit I'll get by, which is better than I felt months ago when I worried I'd not survive if I ever tried again. It's helpful that all the shoes are safely in Nevada and none are going to knock me out anytime soon. Crossing the Rubicon is easier when you're not worried the sky will go hailing shoes. It still may, but not today.

All The Best Cigarettes

It's Memorial Day and I've still got a few things to do around the house - plan to change the furnace filter and add this fancy "clean cotton" scented thing my mom convinced me to buy when we were out shopping for curtains. I helped her pick some out and got a few new skirts, one of which I'm excited to wear when I go out later.

It's also the two year anniversary of when everything went a little crazy in my life and I reacquired a really dumb habit. I've given it a lot of thought and I think it is perfectly reasonable to acquire a dumb habit for a while if it helps you cope with major stress but after a while when stress levels readjust to regularity it is no longer the habit which is dumb, but the person engaging in said habit.

And thus today I have procured all of the best cigarettes. All of them. OK, maybe only two kinds - Dunhill Reds and Djarum Blacks - but these are the twinkly light ones - Christmas and All Hallow's Eve. Fitting, for today is a holiday as well, albeit a secular one. I'm going to get all dolled up and go out and consume those and cape cods as if there is no tomorrow, and then when tomorrow actually comes, start over, focus on becoming a better cyclist and writer, and avoid becoming the dumb one.

And of course, I post this here because I know the whole world will read it and then I'm stuck. While I'm sticking myself with deadlines and the like, I might, if I was really feeling like screwing myself, mention that I've given myself until Labor Day to finish a manuscript. Whoops, already did. Too late to back out now.

On Forgiveness and Walls

There is an internet meme going around right now which has as one of its questions "Do you know anyone in jail?" I tend not to do memes, and I tend not to read other peoples' memes, but I've glanced at this one by mistake a few times and none of my friends seem to know any prisoners. I find this interesting because I do know some prisoners - several in fact. They are all people that I would recognize immediately on the street, and who would all point at me and say "Yep, I know her."

I remember a few months back when I didn't want to go to karaoke one week because I wasn't for certain that anyone I knew would be there, and I was worried that the one person I knew would be this guy that had just been released on bail, after having been arrested for child pornography ownership. I didn't really think he would show up - everyone would know his offense if he did - but I concluded I didn't want to see him, especially if nobody else was around.

This is where this entry is going to go all wonky, and you all are going to think I'm off my rocker. Later that afternoon, after having thought about it for a good long while, I decided I did want to go, that I was going, and that I hoped that he was there and that no one else was around, because then I could talk to him and let him know that I knew he'd been arrested, and the cause, and then ask him if he needed to talk about it, in order to let him know that everyone, even people like him can be forgiven, and that there are not monstrosities that can separate people entirely from grace and God.

It was only a few months after this that I realized another person, someone I'd known since high school, or through high school friends - the exact year of our first acquaintance remains a blur - had been arrested for molesting his daughter. That of course is horrible, and even more disturbing, but my experiences from several months back tempered my reaction and I found myself inclined to pray for him and also his daughter, and his daughter's mother, especially praying that he doesn't become estranged from humanity when he's serving time such that he can't make it out and function and be rehabilitated such that such a thing will never ever happen again. I don't think that's impossible - in fact I'm reminded of a passage of the Bible where Peter turns incredulously to Jesus wondering if even the rich can't be saved, if anybody can, and Jesus responding stating that with God, anything is possible.

Well, for reasons unbeknownst to me, earlier today I was thinking about a novel that a friend of mine from way, way, way, back in the day started to write while he was in prison. This guy has long since gotten out, I have no idea where he lives or what he's doing (although I hope the answers to those questions aren't "prison," and "prison"). Anyway, the characters in the novel were I and a bunch of other people he knew, and we all lived in this big house, and I, for some reason, had an upstairs room with a sign reading "VERBOTEN" on the door, heavily locked, and from which all kinds of smells and sounds were said to emerge.

This is an odd thing, for I did not yet know that word, and I also did not yet have any mad-sciency tendencies (that I know of - I had not yet began my long string of engineer boyfriends), and so in many ways it has just now come to hit me as mildly prophetic. I have all kinds of ideas, I'm always interested in new things, doing random stuff, but I mostly don't let people into my life. Sure, I try to open up my life and tell everyone where the spare key is, and every now and then I go on sprees where I invite people over and cook for them and provide firewood and pointy sticks, but by and large everybody's at arms' length. This is especially true (for no reason I can figure out at all) if the person in question is a Christian.

What on earth is wrong with me? Am I really so ADHD I cannot sit still and just listen to and be with people? I mean, I don't feel any sort of friendship void, nor lack of connection with people, but my mother harps on me all the time stating that I don't have any real friends and instead have acquaintances out my ears. Is this a product of our culture? Am I mistaking socialization for friendship? Does anyone else know what on earth I'm talking about? (And if so, can they explain it or perhaps refute it?)

All I know is that I suspect there are probably some walls that have been up for a long time, walls which have holes in them which I occasionally let somebody in whom I'm interested find, and through which they might, if they were really daring and very small, crawl. And yeah, I have a good time in here - you might sometimes see the fireworks up high having originated from the other side, but by and large, that gate is locked, or nonexistent, with some kind of sign mentioning a live ammunition rifle range. To quote Slashdot's descriptor of a user with no foes, I "either like everyone or play my cards close to my chest." VERBOTEN.


Anti-Valentines Day Breakup Contest Winner!

I and my randomly paired partner Joseph (via names drawn from a bucket) won the Anti-Valentine's Day Breakup Contest last night. That is all. I felt a little sheepish for even trying to win (I'm not sure why, since it was a contest, and contests are, well, contested) but we rocked our skit. I mean, it could have been better, but the crowd laughed at all the right places and clapped us on the back afterward and said it was hilarious so I can't complain.

We won cards entitling us to pay no cover at Nekromancy (the weekly industrial night - not to be confused with Stitches the weekly goth night which I also frequent) through May 11. This is good because I tend to give up spending money on entertainment for Lent and this will eliminate my excuses for staying in. Sadly, I am dead tired today because after I realized we would probably make it into the final four couples that performed their skits in front of the crowd I felt obliged to stay for that and then after realizing it was going to be us by a landslide I felt like I had to stick it out until the contest was called. I think I fell asleep around 2:15 instead of my usual 12:15 for Monday nights.

It was probably good I had the whole contest thing to distract me because Alex showed up and ignoring him was kind of hard. I alternated between feeling mean for ignoring him and being firm in my resolve that you can't get over somebody if you still talk to them all the time, and of course I occasionally felt mad at him for being a clod too, although that set of sentiments is slowly passing. Also, I wasn't really feeling the music so the dancing that is my main purpose for going out in the first place wasn't really happening.