Thursday, February 21, 2013

True Story

Here I am, downtown, headed back to my car, on a recent Sunday - a famous Portland "sunbreak" in progress - and so the rays are reflecting energetically off the wet pavement, the people are smiling from their Sunday benedictions. It's only mid-morning so we have the day ahead of us to be useful, productive, goal-oriented. I wait patiently for the crosswalk signal. There's a man about my age on the other side, also waiting patiently. He's Indian-American, perfectly normal and well-groomed*, and he smiles at me, and looks away. I smile and look away. We wait for the walk signal. (*I point this out because hey, downtown Portland on a Sunday morning? There are plenty of unstable or homeless or still-drunk or plain ol' crazy people out and about. This is just a neighborly-seeming, regular dude.)

Just as we pass each other in the crosswalk he flings his arms wide and gestures loosely from my head to my toes, and says, "Beautiful! Such a beautiful woman!" and keeps walking, and doesn't look back. It burst forth from him; he says it in a way that he just HAD to tell me he thought I was beautiful. It couldn't remain unsaid, and he wanted nothing for it - nothing but to say it and move along with his day.

Do I think I'm particularly beautiful, especially worth such a joyous outburst? No, that's not why I'm sharing this with you, of course. I'm sharing it because I wonder what could happen this week if I'm compelled to share a loud, brash, big, silly compliment with someone - especially someone I don't know well, or at all - and what if I go ahead and do it? Will you do it with me, and tell me about it? Maybe it'll motivate me out of my straight-laced box and I'll be ready when I see someone do something nice, dance something beautifully, wear something crazy-unique, say something really funny in a public place. I'll be ready to shout out to them that they are wonderful! And then I'll share about it here, too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

You know Weight Watchers has become a lifestyle, not a diet, when...

The girl at the grocery store check-out-stand says to your husband, who has shopped faithfully only from The List and picked up no other extra items, "Are you REALLY going to eat all those vegetables?"

And he says, "Yeah! We totally are. Just me and my wife, even."

Then she looks askance at alllll those green things, just for two lil ol' people, and says, "My dog likes to play catch with Brussels sprouts," as she plunks them on the scale.

Yup, I'm feeling pretty proud. It's a tough world out there, with Michael Pollan's "edible food-like substances" at every turn!

Friday, February 8, 2013

ESP, baby.

Remember when I discovered I could read John's mind a couple weeks ago? (Here.)

Turns out, he can read mine too!

For context: this is a guy who has never heard of The Real World. Who couldn't pick Taylor Swift out of a line-up. Who wouldn't know TMZ from Perez Hilton and doesn't want to. Pop culture, as defined by the masses, is not for him - though he has his own popular culture, to be sure.

I wanted to tell him about a funny Zumba dance we're doing that makes us laugh, and dance hard, to be silly and sweaty and fantastic. But the moment I said, "Hey babe, have you seen that YouTube of that one song?" the lyrics fell out of my head and I couldn't remember how to sing the song or describe the video to him.

We were walking down a flight of stairs, and we got to the bottom, in silence, and he then goes, "Is it that one that goes, 'girl look at that body'?"

YES! It is! (Important to note: the video is super lame, and our Zumba dance is way better.)

But the best thing is that He Can Read My Mind. With his one piece of pop culture! Cool!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

(From) (About) The Pulpit

So to begin: there is the religion I know about, and participate in. Here are a couple snippets from last week's service...

One. We began group prayer with the words, "God of many names, or of no name...". 

Two. The sermon was about salvation, and it began with a reflection that in this church, salvation does not mean accepting anyone, including Jesus, as a savior. Instead we reflected on the question, "What is saving your life right now?" 

And what has saved your life in the past? A friend, a lover, a lucky break, a well-timed joke, a job offer, a snowstorm that meant you could stay home for one blessed day when you needed it? And if we've been saved, often and unexpectedly and over and over again, is it possible that on a given day, we might be someone else's salvation - for that single day, of course, not for life. Or is it possible that once in while, we save ourselves through diligence, good works, forgiveness of our own mistakes? 

And is it even further possible that we might be saved from the roles we play, and the masks we wear, and thus that a saved life is one where we live authentically, where we live exactly as we are, where we get to BE who we are and meant to be and DO what we know we were put here to do... saved from fear and faking and pain.

And then to end: there is the religion I read about in the news. My good ol' Top Ten New York Times iPhone App strikes again with these two gems today:

Pastor Says He Is Sorry for Role in Newtown Service
Rob Morris, a Lutheran pastor in Newtown, Conn., violated a denominational rule when he took part in an interfaith prayer service after the Sandy Hook massacre.

Bishops Reject Contraceptive Proposal
The nation's Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday rejected the latest White House proposal on health insurance coverage of contraceptives, saying it did not offer enough safeguards for religious hospitals, colleges and charities that objected to providing such coverage for their employees. 

So please pardon me if I find mainstream religion completely out-of-touch with the life I lead, the spiritual and religious life I pursue. And frankly, laughable right now. Who are these people? Who do they think they'll appeal to in the next three, five, fifteen years? Maybe I would laugh a little less and understand a little more if I could worship with them to a god of no name, and strive together to love both ourselves and others, as we/they are. But these headlines tonight make me feel silly about even pursuing such noble goals and dejected about any possible collaborative progress.