A Grieving Year

I find it almost incomprehensible that such a talented man as my husband Reg was, is no more. How can such a large personality just be … well… gone? I can well imagine that death was what drove people to create religions. To be so full of life and personality one minute and be dead the next must have scared the wits out of early men and women. How to explain it?  Or perhaps they just accepted it, like they accepting hunting animals.

I am lucky to have so many videos of Reg. In a way, though, it’s even worse. To see him living and breathing and singing and then know that his body was burnt to a crisp and he lives no longer–that’s what I grieve. Even though he was a lousy husband, to know that you will never talk to that person again is a blow. But it’s not such a blow that I picture him in some imaginary place, like heaven or hell. He’s just gone. I feel nothing of his presence.

People ask me whether I felt his presence after he died and I haven’t. It’s not like I didn’t want to, but I don’t sense anything of him around me, watching me, or being near me. Perhaps it’s because we weren’t as close as some couples claim to be? Or, the more obvious explanation is that he’s no longer alive in spirit or in body, if there exists a duality in us. I am leaning toward no duality. Our personalities are formed by our life experiences, not our “spirits”. I don’t think I believe in spirits of dead people anymore even though it’s fun to imagine and hunt for ghosts. Yeah, like it’s fun to hunt for aliens to, but I don’t believe in them either.

Reg had a VERY large personality because he lived a very large and full life. Some don’t live half the life he did. I’m glad I can look back on that. Check Reg out doing what he loved the most: playing music.



“Taken Over By Fear…” and Quitting the Internet

There’s a great post on Bitch blogs this month about songstress Lily Allen quitting the internet. I must admit I’ve never heard of Lily Allen but a quick trip to YouTube fixed that:

But the blog post is about Allen’s decision to delete her Internet presence completely. Particularly telling is this paragraph about the decision, written by Bitch blogger Sady Doyle:

“I’m being taken over by the Fear.” Yeah, of course you are. Because, if you’re a woman, and you operate without fear – fear of people calling you fat or ugly, fear of being deemed unladylike (or “out of control,” or “bratty,” or whatever), fear of making people angry – people will do their very best to drill it into you. People will scold you, scorn you, call you names, tell you that you ought to feel ashamed of yourself. They’ll try to scare you, and keep you scared. And the end goal of fear is silence. It is always silence. Silence doesn’t have to mean not talking, either: only saying what you think people want to hear is also silence, maybe the worst kind of silence, because then people can point at you and go, look! She’s fine! And she’s on our side now! Gee, we really helped her out. No, you didn’t help her. And maybe you didn’t even bring her over to your side. Maybe you just made her too scared to tell you the truth. That’s the end goal of it, all of it: we want each other to get to that point (have you been to this point?) where you are just about to respond, you have something to say that you believe to be true, and then it just dries up in your mouth. And you think, why bother? You think, it doesn’t matter whether I’m right. You think, being right won’t help me in the long run. You think, silence is easier. It’s a permanent fear we’re working toward – every time that person dares to disagree with you, you want your voice ringing in her head, stilling her tongue, making her doubt herself too much to try anything. Or, if she speaks, you want your voice to come out of her mouth. Your voice, or a very good imitation.

Yes. What woman hasn’t wrestled with this and wanted to quit the Internet altogether? When we begin we aren’t aware of the environment. We even feel we can control it, but one thing we learn pretty quickly, as Doyle notes, the Internet “…thrives on people like her, people with an innate rawness, people with enormous personalities and very little inclination to trim them down. But here’s another thing the Internet thrives on: anger.” Ah yes, the Internet thrives on anger. Don’t we know it? An anger that feeds off the lives of others and others’ thoughts. How many of us women love to write but are surprised and mortified by the types of responses we get on our blogs? How many of us want to chuck it and be silent? I know I do. But blogging is sometimes the only way to get our ideas, which we deem inherently worthwhile, out there for others to read and that’s always a good thing. What’s not a good thing are those who feel it’s their duty to bring us “down a notch” when we get too “uppity” and when we “demand too much.” What’s not right is when others criticize everything we put on our blogs as if it’s their duty to keep track of us and our doings. I suspect that’s what Allen is dealing with and being such a public figure, the public thinks they have a right to call her on everything, including her private life. The cult of celebrity is cruel I’m sure.

But we ordinary women are also in danger of losing our unique voices when trying to placate everyone who comes along and happens upon our blogs. In our eagerness to pacify the angry, we compromise our internal integrity. We begin to doubt and to question and wonder, “Am I right in sticking to my guns about this?” The answer is simple; we are right if we’ve considered it and we feel it’s right. We are so conditioned to shut our mouths in the face of criticism that it is indeed easier to just stop putting our ideas out there. Allen is right when she says that an active Internet life impedes her actual life. For some of us though, the Internet is a means of connecting with others and a necessary means for those of us in long distance relationships, but we can so easily get sucked into lost vortices like Facebook, which is one of the best means to stay connected to family and the worst time wasters in terms of apps in the history of the Internet.

I suppose it’s a matter of balance and sanity. Staying grounded about what’s important to us is the main thing. How do we do that? Spend at least as much time off the Internet as on? Maybe. Taking time out to read a good book or see a movie that makes us think? Perhaps. Not letting Internet trolls and other riff-raff who just want to argue goad us into pointless arguments. You bet! Sticking by our hard won convictions even if everyone disagrees with us? Yes, with the caveat that we might be wrong. But also, making our own decision to quit for our own reasons and not because someone is being a thoughtless jackass in the responses. It’s perfectly okay to write what we want, when we want, and for as long as we want. Lily Allen had enough of those who questioned her conviction that music should be paid for. When she had enough, she quit. It may not even be the real reason. We don’t know. She doesn’t have to explain to anybody why she did so. We can wonder, but it’s not up to us. What is up to us is deciding when to speak and when to keep silent…in our own time… and for our own reasons.

Music, Art, Gender, Skepticism

While away I’ve missed some good stuff on the Internet. Here are some links to keep you busy on some of my favorite topics:


No one reviews music like Rob! I just discovered his “10” series. This should keep bloggers busy making their own lists or browsing through Rob’s incredible music knowledge.

Books and Art:

While in Budapest, I “discovered” a wonderful artist named Viktor Madarasz. I stood in front of this huge painting for some minutes. I don’t know what it was that struck me, but the paintings of his were all about death in war and the personal effects on people close to the deceased. Some of the examples at this web site look a little cartoonish when viewed on the computer, especially “Peter Zrinyi and Ferenc Frangepán in the Wiener-Neustadt Prison” but standing in front of it in the museum was a more satisfying and rich experience. The colors, the emotions on the faces, and the rich hues are not done justice on the web. Trust me!


While in Hungary, I was reminded again and again how intertwined the Catholic religion is with national politics. How do I know? Look at this picture:

I took this picture in St. Stephen’s Basilica, one of the largest churches in Eastern Europe. Doesn’t that look like a lovely statue of Jesus back there behind the tabernacle? Well, it’s not. It’s Istvan, King of Hungary, now St. Istvan (St. Stephen) to Hungarians. I must say that for me, it’s just as blasphemous as putting a statue of John F. Kennedy behind the tabernacle in the largest Catholic church in New York City. I mean really! It’s like that everywhere in Hungary. The Catholic church’s hold on politics in Hungary and Poland and most of Europe throughout history is astounding. If I hadn’t had a personal whirlwind tour myself through their National History Museum, I would have pooh-poohed it, but no more. It made me realize just how “protestant” I really am, deep down and to the core. I can only describe myself as a Baptist dressed in Catholic clothing, but with a philosophical brain. Oh, well, we are all an amalgam of something. On a side note, relic whore that I am, I did see the dried up right hand of St. Stephen, sitting in a reliquary in a side chapel at the Basilica. They parade his right hand through the streets every year on the anniversary of his death.

The only other thing of interest that other’s seem to blog about frequently is this “God Men” movement that everyone is talking about. In other words, it’s the same old men’s movement where men of the latest generation meet and get all “godly” and “manly” and “cocky” with each other because they aren’t “allowed” to in religious circles nowadays. Trust me, let the video run on their home page and tell me how this is any different from what men accuse women of doing (by “feminizing” the church). And I’m sure wiccans will want to take heed to the potential violence against them exhibited by these men. So, to counteract “feminization” we are now going to “masculinize” it? Yeah, that’ll work. In “Jesus For Real Men” by Brandon O’Brien, Paul Coughlin is quoted as saying in his book No More Christian Nice Guy,

The problem with the wimpy Jesus of the popular imagination is that “a meek and mild Jesus eventually is a bore. He doesn’t inspire us.”

How is this any different than women using feminine terms for God, because the traditionally patriarchal God doesn’t represent them? Absolutely no difference. This is classic boys club mentality. (and patriarchally trained women have them too. Just as stupid) Men can define the parameters of the church however they want because men define everything. They OWN it. It is a men’s club through and through. In fact, the bible is never addressed to women except to strip her of dignity or chastise her for not being “pure.”  Curiously, these same men who claim the New Testament transcends all boundaries are the same men interweaving the gospel into the current culture.  If you recall, the Corinthian church was going through similar throes. Women were bringing cultic elements into worship and over in the Roman church, men were bringing their pederastic tendencies, a holdover from pagan temple worship (so what else is new in Rome?). Nothing ever changes in Christianland. Besides, do they honestly think they are doing anything “new” anyway? Silly boys. I say let the men have their own churches. Let them do chest and bible thumping to their heart’s content and  let us women sneak quietly away and begin changing our society from outside the compound. Nothing will ever change inside it.


Have I missed anything in politics? Nope. But perhaps we can change the conversation.

And finally, a wonderful take on Skepticism.

Oh, No, She’s Baaaaack!

In the immortal words of Randy Quaid’s character in Independence Day, “Remember me boys? I’m Baaaaaaaack!” Me? Stay away? This persona is the closest I come to actually revealing the “real me” online. I tested other blogs. Started them. Deleted them. Wrung my hands in frustration and found them all wanting. Take me or leave me, this is “me” at my most obnoxious and stubborn. And, I might add, my most true. So with that caveat, let’s tour where I’ve been lately:

I love this rumination about the ethical questions surround ebay and their decision not to “sell” “virtual items” from Warcraft or Second Life on their web site. The discussion eventually moves to a philosophical level.

All the Golden Compass brouhaha has made me want to go out and buy Pullman’s books, although my daughter says they are boring. Still, whenever Christians boycott, I’m there buying, reading, or investigating what scares them so much. It’s a sure sign that something needs to be discovered! Read this delicious review from Mark Morford of SFGate. All the Protestant and Catholic fundies enraged by the movie fail to grasp the point: that if their god needs them to defend “him” (sic) from a movie or a book or any other pop culture phenomenon, what does that say about their god?

Pagans are celebrating Winter Solstice today and Wild Hunt Blog has a good summation of what that means for them.

It looks like Killing the Buddha has a new format. What was once a magazine style page has now transformed into blog format. I think I like it.

Let’s not forget some Christmas fun with my absolute favorite musical Christmas light display:

There are many other places I’ve been and to quote Seuss “Oh, the places I’ll go” but for now, enjoy the season! Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, and Blessings for the Holiday!