Yesterday the church where I work (and attend) had a showing of the film Fireproof to kick off a new short-term study on marriage.  I was not planning on attending.  Kirk Cameron, due to his repeated appearances on TBN, can kiss my ass.  Plus, I always get rather distressed by how craptacular Christian movies and things are.   Plus, why in this whole wide world would I want to watch something quite so cloying?  But a Very Nice Church Lady was begging for volunteers.  My recent raise has filled me with goodwill, so I agreed to work at the welcome table and then leave before the movie began.

The group who organized the event had raffle tickets–which I made, incidentally–they wanted everyone to fill in with their names, addresses, and emails.  The idea, of course, was to get contact information from the several dozen visitors  they were certain would show up to the movie and then invite them to church.  I was supposed to ask whether people were planning on attending this study and then mark their tickets with asterisks so the study’s organizers, Very Nice Church Lady and Hyperactive Southern Church Lady, could send out reminders.   Easy.

As I was preparing to go home, Hyperactive Southern Church Lady asked whether I’d filled in a raffle ticket.  No, I’d rather the prizes go to the visitors… of whom there were two, I did not add. 

Darlin’! You gotta. She grabbed me by both my arms and shook me a little.

That’s okay.  I’m not staying. 

You’re not staying! Are you at least coming to the study?

I wasn’t planning to, no.

Why not, sugar?

Because it would be strange and awkward.

Because you’re not married yet, honey?

Bingo.

Oh, babe, don’t worry about that.  This study’s for everyone.  I’m hoping the youth’ll come too.  We’ll teach y’all what to look for in a husband.

A number of things happened in that last sentence that made me a little uncomfortable: the equation of single adults with fifteen year olds, the (87% untrue) assumption that I’m out there husband shopping, the assumption that married people are necessarily smarter about relationships than single ones.  And her husband has a spectacular mullet.  Maybe I’m focusing a teeny bit on the wrong things here, but if I were looking for a husband I’d be after one who no longer wears the hairstyle he had in 1983.  Also, she put both her hands on my shoulders.  I was half worried she was going to lean in for a kiss, and all that made me uncomfortable too.

I told her I’d consider it, ducked out from under her arms, and then I went about my business.

On my way out the door, Very Nice Church Lady chased after me.  I’d already told her I wouldn’t be watching the movie when I was trying and failing to weasel out of volunteering, so I figured she had some item for the bulletin.  Or something.

I  wanted to invite you to the small group.

The marriage small group that you and Hyperactive Southern Church Lady are leading?

Yes! That’s the one.  Are you dating someone right now?

I said a vague sort of.

(Yeah, OGfPS is still in the picture.  He recently told me loves my hair.  I have unruly curls and expressing liking of them charms me considerably, in case you were wondering.  I said thanks.  He asked if I’d noticed that many of my curls are shaped like DNA.  Is it weird I find this endearing?  It is, isn’t it.)

You should come to this small group, churchrat.  You should come and bring a date.

Okay.  That’s weird but not 100% crazy.  I mean I can see that someone–not me, necessarily, but someone–in a serious dating relationship might want to attend a marriage study at their church as a means of further sussing out the suitablity of their SO.    Of course, no one here’s in a serious relationship so much as an enjoyable long distance flirtation with a measure  of potential.  But whatever.

I think the first night of a study like this would be a great date, a great first date.

And that, friends, is crazy.  Just. So. Crazy.  Not to mention wildly out of touch with the way people actually live their lives.  I mean, has she met a guy in his twenties or thirties?  Sheesh.

I think the first night of a study like this would be a hilariously bad date, the sort of date you’d suggest when you want someone never to call you again.

I finally got a raise for my work here at the church.  It’s kind of a substantial one, an increase in both hours and hourly wages.  I negotiated my way through a sort of wince-inducing committee meeting.  I even brought handouts, and I still can’t quite make eye contact with the people who agreed to give me said raise.  I’m not a person who, you know, asks for things.  But I cannot deny the results of my boldness are pretty gratifying.

I have landed two more housesitting gigs for the next two months.  I fail to understand how people say to themselves “let’s pay someone $25 a day to watch our cable and drink beer in her jammies.”  But I like it.  The house I’ll sit next–starting Thursday–is a big, inexplicable French chateau.  I’m looking forward to it.  I’ll bet they have a huge bathtub.

Also, I have a financial plan and financial planner.  It’s awesome.  I feel really good about my financial situation, even if I am still technically quite poor and living with my parents.  I have a plan.  Plans are much better than ignored concerns.  Guess who saves 20% of her income?  Oh, that’s right.  Me.

The church’s treasurer was talking to me about taxes the other day.  She said something about poverty incomes.  I said I prefer to think of it as the tiny and adorable income bracket.  Puppy-sized.  She’s the one with the tacky mansion.  Also, she doesn’t believe in social security.  I can’t wrap my head around people who are charitable but don’t believe in government programs.

My New Year was really, really good.  And my resolutions are going very well–to wit, the big raise.   And the fresh vegetables I’m eating while I type this.

You know I love?  Being an adult.  I’ve written this paragraph a number of times and then deleted it for being too vague or too specific or too rah rah rah.  So I’ll just say rather euphemistically that I love that I’m in a place in life where I know what I want in life and can articulate it.  I love knowing when to apply myself and when to cut and run.  I also love that I almost wrote Fuck and Run.  And I love Liz Phair before she stopped being awesome.

I blame the tendency to the rah rah rah with my recent fondness for hilarious quiverfull blogs.  Those sweet, spinsterish twenty-somethings who take prenatal vitamins while waiting for God to reveal their future spouses to them are so fucking positive.  Yeah.  I’m a bad person, aren’t I.

Yesterday I made orange sticky buns.  That’s a food.  Not a gross innuendo.  I also didn’t pick any fights with anyone pro-life on the anniversary of Roe v Wade.  That was a win.

This morning I overslept, dreaming I was petting an abandoned dog.  I woke up to discover I was stroking the top of my own head.  After some introspection, I’ve decided that I don’t feel even a little like an abandoned dog, so there’s no deeper meaning there.  Unless I’m revealing my desire to have the same hair color as dachshund.  They are a lovely color.

My formerly very short hair is past my shoulders and hasn’t been colored in literal years.  On the one hand, that’s probably the reason it’s so much softer and more manageable than my hair historically is.  On the other hand, BLARGH! I need new hair.

This morning I overslept, dreaming I was petting an abandoned dog.  I woke up to discover I was stroking the top of my own head.  After some introspection, I’ve decided that I don’t feel even a little like an abandoned dog, so there’s no deeper meaning there.  Unless I’m revealing my desire to have the same hair color as dachshund.  They are a lovely color.

I just sent my crashed computer off to be repaired.  I’m using my personal laptop.  It’s very old and nearly useless in this context, but it’s better than nothing.

Last night I discovered that some elderly family friends have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on bizarre, overpriced and ultimately useless shit that a prominent televangelist says will help them get through the “end times.”  I went into major asskicking mode and contacted their children, the Better Business Bureau, and everyone else I could think of.  My resolution for 2011 may be to take this bastard down.

This morning a creepy weird guy from church asked we put his wife on the prayer chain.  She’s fallen and hurt herself, he says  She seems to do that a suspiscious amount.  Their relationship has a strange power dynamic.  I just told the pastor I’m worried about her.  I really don’t know what else to do.  I think he hits her.  I really, really do.  But she’s doting and smiley and so on and is never away from him, so it’s hard to have more than suspicions.  There’s nothing I can think of to do with that particular bastard, which just makes me sick.

If you want my theological understanding of what it means to “take the name of the Lord your God in vain” it’s what these guys are doing.  Exploiting scripture to extort money and hiding behind holy language to hide abuse.  This makes me sick.

Ugh.  Not a great twenty four hours, really.

That was a cartoon sad sound.  Not the sound of kissing.

I had an eventful morning at work.  I’ve taken a job doing the bookkeeping for the daycare.  For a really, really nice hourly wage.  It’s not a very many hours at all, so the news isn’t all good.  Also, I’m not a huge fan of bookkeeping.  But every little bit helps.  Or so said a woman I once saw peeing in the ocean while she tried to drown her husband.

The people from the state agency that pays for the daycare were supposed to come by today at nine thirty to install the software on my computer to do the books and then show me how it’s used.   They didn’t show up til eleven 1115.  At 1120, my computer crashed.    While I attempted frantic repairs, State Agency Lady and I made small talk.  It was awful.   It’s hard to explain, really, how it became so awful so quickly.  But jeepers.  We went from “nice weather” to “oh, I don’t want to live anymore.”

Have you always wanted to be a church secretary?

No, although it does have some very fun aspects.

This is part time, right?

Yes.

So do you go to school?

I did.

So you must have, like, money you live off of.  A trust fund.  That must be awesome.

Oh.  No.  I’m looking for something full time.  The economy kind of sucks.

Don’t I know it.  I’m surprised you didn’t apply here to the daycare.

I don’t have those credentials and I don’t like kids.

What are your credentials?

I have a BA and have done some graduate work in ESL.

What’s your BA?

English.

What did you get that degree for?

[I don’t actually remember what I said, but I was thinking sarcastic thoughts that had to do with student loans and personal enrichment.]

That’s nice.  So you don’t like kids?  Do you not want to have kids, like, ever?

I should’ve mentioned what a terribly personal question that was and how inappropriate for small talk.  I mean, for all she knew I had some sort of terrible accident that caused my uterus to fall out and her questions would cause me great emotional pain.  Or, at the least, I should’ve told her that I like kids quite fine one on one but dislike being in rooms where six of them are crying at top volume.   That’s the truth anyway.  Instead, I shrugged.

I’ve got three kids, love ’em to death.  They’re 15, 20, and 17.

I was a little surprised she named them out of chronological order.  I wondered about that.  Maybe the fifteen and twenty year old are the same sex?  Or her favorites?  Or the seventeen year old is a stepchild?

Fun, I said, and rebooted my computer for the third time.

If you want kids, you’d better make up your mind.  Unless you want to adopt.  You’re about my age, right?

Maybe.  How old are you?

Forty two.

Well, I said, you look very young for your age.  I’ll be twenty nine in a couple of weeks.

Oh, you have some time then.  Are you seeing anyone?  Any daddies on the horizon?

Jeepers.  I didn’t know whether to fall over laughing or burst into tears.  In less than two minutes this woman made me feel like my academic credentials were useless, that I look old, and that apparently I’m some sort of unloved baby-hating she-beast.  All of this while my work computer crashed and crashed and crashed.

So later I told her I liked her pants.  I told her I didn’t have the nerve to wear corduroy because it can make a bit of a sound when a girl walks and I do admire her sartorial courage.

That’s right.  She called me old, so I called her fat.

I’m in fine form today, niceness wise.

Dang.

Sorry, Jesus.

Maybe give me a bit of a hand tomorrow?

This week I’ve been given the most marvelous gift.  Actually, I’ve been given two.  My sister gave me a present for my birthday a couple of weeks early.  But this the work relevant one: our denomination’s advent lectionary this year lists the second Sunday as “social justice Sunday.”   I think traditionally it’s supposed to be hope.  But, you know, we’re mainline protestants and we’re really, really sorry about how white and middle class we all are.

On the church facebook page, I’ve been running a daily scripture relevant to each week in Advent.  Last week there was a lot of stuff on there about making peace and finding peace in God and all of that.  This week I’ve begun with Proverbs 29:7, which says “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”

I’ve been pretty depressed with the Republican party’s awesome decision to cut off unemployment benefits unless people who make a quarter million dollars a year get to hang on to Bush’s tax cuts.  Of all the issues to take a stand for.  Sheesh.  Calling John Boehner evil in public, however roundabout the method, makes me feel better.

It shouldn’t, of course.  This is practically the definition of slacktivism and it’s passive aggressive and it’s using God’s word for my own spite-y little purposes.  But, dang, it feels nice.

Yesterday I made a Christmas bulletin board.  I cut out red and white paper snowflakes.  I printed off the word “welcome” from Word and then added glitter accents to the letters.  I replaced the o in welcome with a construction paper Christmas wreath with glitter holly.  I stapled the whole glittery mess to the bulletin board.

That’s awfully secular, don’t you think? asks Foul Bitch of a Choir Director.

What would you suggest?

Angels.  The baby Jesus.  The real meaning of the season.

I have neither the time nor the talent with scissors to make any of those things.   We only have construction paper here to work with.  But if you’d like to do the bulletin board, I’m happy to let you.  Or if you’d like to donate supplies for something a little more complicated, I’m sure folks would really appreciate that.

I said that in a sweet and cheerful voice.  I didn’t threaten to staple anyone’s face.  I didn’t mention that I thought her Teddy Bear Nativity sweatshirt was far more sacrilegious than some glitter spread hastily on paper will ever be.  I was nice, I swear.

I just think that a church ought not be so secular.

Do you have a suggestion about how the bulletin board should be done?

I just don’t like it.  It’s too secular.

God makes snowflakes, ma’am.

You made them.

It was an homage.  To, you know, God.

This morning I came into work to discover that during Saturday’s church workday my office had been cleaned.  It needed vacuuming, and the window sills could stand a dusting.  But imagine my surprise at discovering that everything on my desk had been arranged into one very tidy but utterly mixed-up pile.  I am afraid a good portion of my day will be spent restoring order to what looks like orderliness but is in fact a giant mess.  My favorite part, of course, is the little note on top that says “dosen’t this look much better!!  glad I could help, Crutchratt !! Have a great day!!!!!”

I don’t recognize the handwriting, so I am spared the impulse to thank the person responsible for my wrecked desk for what I assume was meant as a kind gesture.

I have definitely hurt my ribs coughing.  Yesterday, mid-cough, something popped, and today I actually have a bruise.  Ugh.   I’m trying to sleep my sickness away.  That’s the new plan.   I’m leaving here for a nap as soon as the rain slacks.

Is it just me, or is this blog lately too much about boys?   I mildly regret all the chatter about OGfPS in recent weeks.  I don’t know what’s going on there exactly.  He likes me a lot.  But I like someone else rather more than I like OGfPS, but there’s an, um, unfortunate and apparent asymmetry to things with that fellow.  Or maybe it’s just that I have an unfortunate habit of picking out boys as unsettled as I am?

It’s stopped raining.  Bye now.