Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jesus Hates a Swindler, But Loves a Party!

Hey there, y’all! What a week this has been! I am trying to get ready for the spring cleaning, packing up stuff for donations, and working around the clock at home and at my job. And, I managed to get in some writing. It’s a miracle….

Speaking of miracles, I recently had a religious experience, which is strange because I am not the most religious person, or the most regular church-goer, and I’m sure I could be a nicer person (hahaha!) but the Lord works in mysterious ways, and who am I to argue? ‘When the Roll is Called Up Yonder I’ll Be There’, but I’ll be late because I’m going to stop off for a glass of Kendall Jackson first. Maybe two. Anyway….

I’m not sure where to start, but I suppose it’s all a result of my cynicism and natural tendency to skepticism. It’s my nature to question everything and be stubborn about it. I guess it dates back to that crazy woman in Hollywood, Fl, who claims that she saw the Virgin Mary in her grilled cheese sandwich. Remember her? She ran to all the major networks touting the spiritual properties of her 10 year old sandwich that she believed held the image of the Virgin. Nonsense, y’all. I saw that sandwich and it’s Marlene Dietrich. Trust me, those two do not resemble each other, and I know my old Hollywood stars. No dice.

The thing that made me REALLY question her motives is the fact that she told CNN that the sandwich was soaked with the power of the Holy Spirit. The only thing soaked was those idiots who paid 28 large to purchase the sandwich. And no one has ever heard from those people ever again. After the whole Jonestown thing, I guess they knew not to drink the kool-aid, but no one told them not to eat the grilled cheese.

So I’m at work the other day, being my usual ray-of-sunshine self and my friend Kay calls me to come to her desk ASAP! Of course I go thundering over there across the building like a wounded buffalo to see what the problem is and there sits Kay, staring up at the wall.

What’s wrong? I gasp.

“It’s Jesus, up on the wall, floatin’”.

‘Scuse me?

“Look…it’s Jesus!”

Honey, how long have you been without Kendall Ja, I mean, sleep?

“No! Look at my computer screen and try this thing. How does it do that?”

I looked at the monitor and realized at once that someone had sent her one of those old-as-dirt emails with the optical illusions in it. You know, look at the lines against the pattern and try to tell if they’re bent or straight, candlestick or two faces, and on and on. The illusion in question was a photo negative with four dots down the middle. After staring at the four dots, you look up on the wall towards a source of light and you’ll see Jesus. Damn, if I stare at anything too long, who knows what I might see. So I told Kay my best explanation of this phenomenon.

"No. It’s Jesus, on the wall. I think this is a message from the Bible.”

Kay, baby, I’ve read the Bible, and I am absolutely sure there is no verse anywhere in the Bible that makes reference to the big kabuki floatin’ head o’Jesus. She would not be dissuaded, so I went back to my desk, vowing to go to church more, and drink more chardonnay. It’s okay, y’all, I think of it like communion wine. Really, like when Jerry found a cheeto that he said resembled Jesus. I ate it. You know, bread (or Cheetos) of Heaven.

Then we have some guy in the news, also from South Florida, who had chest pains and went to the ER for an x-ray. All well and good, until Mr. Man decided that he saw the image of Jesus in his x-ray. Now, mind you, the doctors and nurses really couldn’t see it, and the news people who reported the story said they couldn’t see it, but my natural curiosity made me take a look for myself. I found the pictures and knew immediately he was delusional, or heavily medicated, or both. You got somethin’, mister, but that’s not Jesus. I think it’s either TB or MRSA. That being the case, I guess he better look for Jesus, quick!

Don’t misunderstand my meaning here. I believe in God and I pray all the time. I just can’t abide the exploitation of religion and faith for financial gain. It’s rampant, folks.

So imagine my own surprise when I got a letter this week in the mail with God’s own prophecy for my life. The fact that I have read the Bible matters not to these scammers. So I got this letter, with dire instructions NOT TO OPEN the prophecy, but BURN IT UNOPENED unless I was willing to fill out the enclosed card and send a donation. Let’s face it, I’m not much one for following instructions, so naturally, with no intention of sending these fools anything, I opened the prophecy and sit there, jaw on the floor, in amazement.

First, I got a small paper prayer rug, only slightly larger than an index card. I was instructed to take this prayer rug, go to a quiet place in my house, and kneel on the rug while I feel the power of the Holy Spirit move through me. Hell’s bells, I have a five year old so there IS no quiet place in my house. And the only thing I would feel after lowering my fat, middle-aged body to the floor is the pain of every joint and muscle in my body going into a spasm as I try to hoist myself up off the floor with some piece of pseudo-religious foolishness stuck to my sweaty knee!

I got this nonsense one other time back when I was living in South Florida, from this same devious group. Only that time, there was no prophecy, just a postcard with a picture of Jesus (at least that’s what they told me). He was a light purple color, eyes closed. I was instructed to send money and then stare at the picture, whereupon I would see the closed eyes of Purple Jesus open and I would know all of the secrets of Heaven. What I have learned from the Bible is that the secrets of Heaven will revealed in God’s time, and in his way. I am also pretty sure that He will reveal His secrets and messages to me, not some flunky hiding behind religion to swindle me out of my hard earned money. I’m pretty sure salvation comes from merging of our hearts with God’s will. That’s how I see it, and I’ll stand by that.

Strangely enough, I remember when I was in college at a private Methodist Women’s college and we used to go to fraternity parties at the nearby Baptist co-ed college. Phi Delta Theta used to host an event called “The Old Couch Party” which involved all of us drinking heavily and then jumping off the roof of the fraternity house onto old couches that had been strategically arranged along the roofline all around the house. We would mix up some vile, 800 proof mixture in rubber garbage cans and we’d sip on it all night, the irony of all this being that this nasty, deadly concoction was called ‘Purple Jesus.’ In addition to all of the alcohol it boasted, it was full of grape juice, so we’d get drunk, jump off the roof, and scream “I don’t care if it rains or freezes, ‘long as I’ve got my Purple Jesus!” And then, we’d land with a resounding thud on the couch, and the only prayers were those of thanks the next day that we were still alive, and especially that the pounding in our heads would stop.

So here I am with my miniscule prayer rug, false prophets, and memories of Purple Jesus in a garbage can. I have searched through the Bible for ‘Floating Jesus’, ‘Big Honkin’ Purple Head of Jesus’, and ‘Jesus on an old couch’ and I have come up empty handed. And if I donated money to any of these idiots who hide behind false beliefs and predicate a testament of fear over faith, I would be even MORE empty handed. So be careful how you donate your money. And pray, because it works. Finally, party, because it’s fun, and it’s okay to celebrate.
And if you’re out and about, and you see Purple Jesus?

Run like Hell!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Fruits of My Labor

Having just celebrated Mother’s Day getting over some horrible virus, I am slowly coming back to life and reconnecting with my ‘mommy-self’. I must say I am glad, as horrid as it was, that it was only a virus that knocked me out for Mother’s Day. I was terrified, as only a fat girl could be, that I might have contracted Swine Flu. I just knew that people would find out I had the dreaded ‘pig disease’ and they’d go, “Yeah, figures!” At any rate, I am feeling better and rejoining the land of the living.

So I am surrounded by new life, and mothers-to-be. We have some sparrows nesting in our geranium plant, so we have seven babies in my poor, parched flower pot that I can’t water unless I want some sort of Alfred Hitchcock type of retaliation. And I have several friends at work who are expecting, so it’s rather nice. I have an expectant mother friend at work who asked me for some advice, and since I am SUCH an expert, I was more than happy to oblige. And as my friend is one of those still skinny, utterly gorgeous pregnant women, I opted not to hold back. Anything.

“It’s been great. My husband is going to a boot camp for first time fathers, and I am trying to eat healthy and exercise.”

Bwuhahaha….fool! First, the only boot camp Daddy needs is to cook your meals, clean your house, rub your tired feet, and tell you how beautiful you are. And since you only weigh 90 pounds, you need to start having a three-way with Ben and Jerry. Trust me on this.

“Well”, says Tiff, “I want to be in great shape for labor. I really don’t want to have drugs or anything.”

You’re too late. You needed to get an epidural the day you found out you were pregnant. You wanna be in great shape? You ARE in great shape, damn you. But when those labor pains start, you’re going to get a work out punching the shit out of your husband and pretty much everyone else who gets within punching distance. And you will realize the complete and utter stupidity of pattern breathing and you will scream for painkillers like a seasoned crackhead. Trust me…..I’ve been there.

I went into labor in the wee small hours of Tuesday, March 16, 2004. I had a difficult pregnancy. I was 34, looked like a dome home, and had gestational diabetes to contend with. (Ben and Jerry and I had to end our affair.) Where other women got morning sickness, I got Mad Cow Disease. I was one of those unfortunate women who looked hugely pregnant the moment I conceived. (Come to think of it, I’m afraid I still do. Damn you, Ben and Jerry!) And Jerry, my husband! He was such a trooper, he went with me to ALL of my appointments. I figured that since we had experienced the entire pregnancy together, he should be miserable, too. As the day approached, I was the size of The Epcot Center. The night before I delivered, my great friend (and a SuperMom), Yasmin, told me to eat a spicy Italian meal, have a glass of red wine, and watch a funny movie. She promised it would send me into labor. (Or, after all that starch, a diabetic coma.)

I took her advice, watched Moonstruck, laughed my ass off, and then went to bed. For about an hour. Then labor kicked in. I love these stories of women who SWEAR they didn’t know they were pregnant, never knew they were in labor, what have you. LIARS! There is no, absolutely NO mistaking labor. None! It hurts like a sonofabitch, and it’ll make you lose your religion. Or find it. Or create your own where you commit violent acts against all and sundry and use lots of profanity.

So we arrived at the hospital after several false starts. Not false labor, just me forgetting stuff like my hairdryer, then my brush, then my shower shoes. Jerry finally told me no way were we going home a fourth time so I could get my Bach CDs. Not that they mattered at that point. I was singing a libretto of cuss words the whole way to the ER. We arrived, Jerry signed us in and I began screaming for my epidural. And now I know the secret. The head nurse got really tired of hearing my big mouth and told me that once I got to three centimeters, I could have an epidural. (If you don’t know what that means, don’t ask.) I willed myself there and began screaming. Actually, I’m not sure I made it. By that time, the hospital staff might have just wanted to shut me up.


I have to say that was the BEST sleep I’d had in months. Well, it was probably the best sleep I’d had in my life. Jerry, who quit smoking in support of pending parenthood, bravely took that opportunity to drive around the corner to a service station, where he downed a couple of beers and smoked a whole pack of cigarettes in the car. Then, he got himself a Publix deli sandwich the size of Rhode Island and came back to the room. The nurse told him that he might have to leave as the smell of food might make me ill, but I was farther over the rainbow than Judy Garland, so I went right back to sleep. Imagine my annoyance when I felt some sort of tapping on my foot. I tried a well aimed kick at the head of whoever was disturbing my rest, but I was paralyzed from the waist down. Lucky for Dr. Jurado, too, because the way he was rooting around in my nether-regions, he was either going to propose marriage or I was going to bring my knees together and crush his head like a walnut. I know now that the epidural is administered to protect everyone ELSE in the labor and delivery room.

He thumped my feet and told me that our baby, Jenda, was in distress and we needed to go into surgery. I rallied and said that I really wanted to continue to try pushing, to which he replied, “You’re not really trying, Chica.” I found out later that he had vacation starting two days later, so there was no way in hell he was going to hang out in the hospital delivering my recalcitrant newborn. So off we went, and I had an emergency caesarean.

After Jerry ran off after Jenda and left me with Nurse Ratched, who refused me water, ice chips, or a blindfold and cigarette, I decided the thing to do as I came down off of all the drugs they gave me was to make an ass of myself in the hopes that they would give me more drugs to shut me up. Nurse Numbskull was immune to my profanity and threats of violence (and why wouldn’t she be? I was paralyzed from the waist down!) Jerry finally came back with Nurse Nice, who wheeled me into my private room, where at last, I got kinder treatment and ice chips. Once we were all ensconced, Mommy, Daddy, and baby, in our cozy little room, the nurses left and I spent the evening gazing at the amazing and wondrous creature that we had created.

I was sick of the liquid diet, and sick of everyone asking me if I had passed gas, which was not something I was going to admit to until Jerry whispered to me that passing gas meant that I was healing properly and could have solid food again. So I blew a wall down and got a cheeseburger. Life was good!

Day two was hell, because by then, all the drugs had worn off and I realized that in spite of my flabby tummy, I really used my abdominal muscles. For EVERYTHING! We really do, folks. We use them to laugh, cry, sit up, cough, lift, lay back down, you name it. Of course the worst was yet to come. In the meantime, we enjoyed our cloistered existence, flowers being delivered, nurses at our beck and call, and just our little family. I enjoyed yelling at Jerry as he tried to change ‘the first diaper’ and I even enjoyed taking laps around the nurse’s station, slowly shuffling and panting like Hugh Hefner trying to remember his way around the Playboy Mansion. But alas, all good things come to an end. Hence, that abdominal muscle thing.

One day, our (usually) very sweet recovery room nurse came in and announced that according to my chart, I had yet to have a bowel movement. Knowing that that would entail using muscles I vowed never to use again, I said, SO WHAT?

“Ma’am, we need to ensure that everything is working and healing. If you don’t have a bowel movement, we can’t release you from the hospital.”

Are you one of those nurses who’s hooked on the prescription drugs? You must be. Jerry, I said, call U-Haul and get all our stuff moved in here. I am perfectly prepared to spend the rest of my life here, but I hate their cheesy artwork. Get our essentials from home and donate the rest. It’s fine, really.

Then our dear sweet nurse said, “Get your ass outta that bed and do what you have to do. We’re gonna need this room for the next patient and you have to be out by tomorrow. Got it?” Then she stormed out.

I was almost in tears. Jerry could see how upset I was, and he just wanted to help. So he made a suggestion as he helped me out of the bed.

“I’m going to help you into the bathroom. I’ll stand outside the door and if you need me to help you, I’ll be right here so I can come in and help, okay?”

I have to admit that this stopped me in my tracks. Thinking about what would need to happen in there, how could he help me? I mean, is this like some kind of crisis for anyone besides me? Is he going to ‘talk it off the ledge’, like Good Cop, Bad Cop?

Me, Bad Cop: Come down from there, you little shit!

Jerry, Good Cop: “Take your time, it’s okay. No one wants to hurt you. We all just want to go home.”

Me, Bad Cop: You piece of shit! Get down from there!

And so on, and so on. Until finally, the deed was done, I was doubled over and in tears, and Jerry was booking himself a one-way ticket under an assumed name to start a new life.

We finally made it out of the hospital, into our car, and onto the Florida Turnpike, Jerry driving like Grandma Mildred at 30 miles per hour, and me in the backseat hovering over Jenda, who slept peacefully in her car-seat the whole way home. I like to think that all those ‘one-finger salutes’ we got were well meant, and not a result of our blocking up an entire highway doing only 30 mph.

Fast forward to 2009 (literally, folks. It flies by!) and we’re getting ready to send our baby off to kindergarten this fall. It seems like just yesterday that we were up all night, learning the feeding schedule, teething, potty training, and just going through all of the new parent learning curve, or, as I call it, ‘Baby Mama Drama.’ It was tough, and when Jenda misbehaves, I whip out the old “I was cut in half so you could get out”. God help me when she gets older and that one won’t work anymore. I remember the aches and pains, the sleepless nights, and boobs so sore I promised them an all expenses paid trip to Paris (which still hasn’t materialized!) I am reminded of my own mother telling me that someday I would have a child just like me, and Jerry’s mother cursing, er, blessing him with the same admonishment. So we have a daughter who looks just like Jerry (and hopefully has HIS metabolism) and who has my sarcastic mouth. Some days it’s a real challenge, just like pregnancy and childbirth were. So here’s my best advice…. Enjoy every minute.

I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mother's Day, Lego Blocks, and Divine Inspiration!

Well hey there y’all! I just can’t tell y’all how beautiful North Carolina is in the springtime! I enjoy seeing the flowers in bloom, going to the park with Jenda, and laughing my butt off at all the people complaining about the heat and humidity! HAHA you wimps! Spend a summer in South Florida, home of “The Humidity That Makes Your Hair Look Like THE LION KING!” Or Don King, depending on if it rains!

I look forward to this time of year because my favorite day is fast approaching (favorite day followed closely by Macy’s One Day Sale!) Mother’s Day! I envision Jenda working her little fingers off at her daycare making a card for me, or some gift that I will keep forever. I imagine breakfast in bed, a dozen roses, beautiful music….okay, you’re right. I’ll put that dream next to the one I call LOTTO WINNER! But really, for me, it is a sacred and holy day. Jerry and I were talking about it the other day. I said that I feel that Mother’s Day should be honored on the liturgical calendar as a religious holiday.

Jerry didn’t quite agree.

I feel that, for mothers, it is akin to Christmas for our Lord Jesus.

“You should watch what you say. That could be considered blasphemy!”

While I realize that I don’t go to church as often as I should, I like to think I am a good person. I know that God loves me and wants me to be happy. (Hey, a good glass of Kendall Jackson and an Ella Fitzgerald CD are pretty strong evidence in support of this!) I also know that I am created in his image. Okay, fair enough. I think Jesus is pretty amazing, but we don’t call him Mama. The Lord created us in his image to handle that. Let me explain these stunning Biblical similarities.

‘The Lord giveth and The Lord taketh away.’ Okay Moms, how many times have you told your kids, “I brought you into this world and if you don’t straighten up, I will dang sure take you out!” Uh huh. You know who you are.

“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”Uh huh. I have found petrified chicken mcnuggets as hard as rocks in my car that have been there since only the Lord knows when, and no amount of Febreeze will prevail against the smell.

David says of Saul’s men, “They sharpen their tongues like a serpent, the poison of asps is under their lips.” Yep. My mama used to say, “Don’t take that sharp tone with me, young lady, or you won’t believe what I’ll do to your little asp!” (Or words to that effect!)

Let’s take Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem from Nazareth, which was about a 5 day trip. Joseph gallantly allowed Mary, hugely pregnant, to ride the donkey. (Uh huh, thanks!) The terrain was rough and people had to travel in groups for safety. They were unable to find room at the inn, so Mary gave birth in a stable and placed her newborn baby in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. (Hey, we moms do whatever it takes!)

This mother Mary (y’all know my first name is Mary, right?), well, Jerry gallantly drove the 8 or so miles to the hospital with me screaming some serious wrath the whole way. Rough terrain? I felt every pothole, pebble in the road, you name it! Then when we got there, groups travelled into my room to put their hands in my hoohah to see how things were progressing with the birth.

Unlike Holy Mary, there would be no manger for Jenda. I raised all kinda hell to get a private room. Of course Jesus’ mom couldn’t do this. I mean, c’mon… Her son is the savior. No sense going around making an ass of herself and hurting his prospects. It’s just another prime example of maternal sacrifice.

I also like the story of Jesus feeding the masses. I reminded Jerry of this gospel from Matthew by bringing up Jenda’s most recent birthday. Untold numbers of kids descended on our house and I had to make that sheet cake from Food Lion go a mighty long way. I think Jesus was proud! Then when cake and ice cream were finished, I repainted the kitchen while they tore through the house like the Biblical plague of locusts. Trust me, they destroyed all the crops and livestock, well, okay, just the house. Four and five-year-olds on sugar high loose in your house will make you say, “Okay Moses…really, they can go anytime! Hurry!”

I love the story of Jesus walking on water to his disciples.


As a mother, I have gotten up in the middle of the night for one reason or another and have walked barefoot across Lego Blocks. Folks, that’s a pain that gives you a really deep spiritual understanding. It has brought me closer to God because I can hear him saying, “Look, Jesus was young once and it happened to me. I didn’t take my own name in vain, don’t you do it, either!” Want to get closer to God? Walk barefoot on Legos. Trust me, you’ll find your religion. (God being the creator of all things, I bet he only had to tell Jesus ONCE to clean his room!)

Jerry tried to counter with the big one. “Jesus could raise the dead. Moms can’t do that!”


I can honestly say that I think even our Lord and Savior would have a rough time waking Jenda up for daycare after she has stayed up too late watching Dora videos and eating ice cream. Trust me, y’all, I mean no disrespect, but Lazarus has NOTHING on Jenda when it’s time to get up in the morning. Just one more reason the Lord created mothers.

For me, this proves that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit think mothers are pretty special. Look at all the similarities in the life of Jesus and what moms do everyday.

Yep, our special day is pretty groovy.

So if Jerry and Jenda get up early to make me breakfast in bed (nah, it’ll never happen. Getting up early, I mean!) and dirty up all the dishes in the house, that’s okay. Great, in fact. If they serenade me with a tune they make up just for me, that’s great, too. The Lord tells us to make a joyful noise, and I can’t imagine anything more joyful.

(LOTTO WINNER would be cool!)

Like I said, Jesus is amazing, and he does all these cool things (that water in to wine thing? I would love to learn that one!) Jesus works miracles everyday. Our children are miracles, too. And in their case, even our Lord needed a mother’s help in creating these miracles.

And that is a special and sacred thing.

Y'all, can I get an Amen?!