Friday, May 23, 2014

My Heart Is Sad...

I am seeing something a lot lately.  Actually, I have seen it for quite a while, but I think it's getting out-of-hand.

It am seeing LGBT individuals -- specifically those who are in a relationship or civil union or same-sex marriage -- getting fired from their jobs in Catholic institutions.

This phenomenon started out quite a while ago.  As I understood it, it mostly had to do with people in same-sex relationships not being allowed to teach theology in certain high schools, colleges, and universities.  The reasoning was that, if a person teaches Catholic THEOLOGY, their lives should be consistent with that theology.  I could kind of see this both ways.  I understood the position of the Catholic institutions.  On the other hand, I thought (and still think) that it is possible to know, understand, and teach something without actually agreeing with it or living it.

At the time, though, it was explained to me that there were many Catholic schools who were teaching things AS actual Catholic theology that were not actual Catholic theology.  This is a difficulty.  Students should learn the actual stuff before they all start disagreeing with it.  And I was led to believe that not hiring people in same-sex relationships to teach Catholic theology kind of went along with this idea of returning authenticity to the teaching of Catholicism in Catholic schools.  Again, I did not agree with that line of reasoning entirely, but it also didn't bother me a whole lot.  I had other fish to fry and I trusted the Powers-That-Be.

Now, though, I have to say that I think things are getting JUST A LITTLE BIT OUT OF CONTROL, especially since the legalization of gay marriage in many states.  Teachers in same-sex marriages (and other same-sex relationships) are being fired not just from positions of teaching Catholic theology, but they are being dismissed from all other types of teaching/administrative positions, as well.  And they are being fired, not just from schools, but from other types of Catholic institutions -- like parish choirs and food banks.  Sometimes, it is not even they who are making a "big announcement" about their marriages, but "busybodies" who happen to overhear (can we say "eavesdrop" on?) private conversations are ratting them out.  In my opinion, it is these eavesdroppers who should get the smack-down.  Being a "tattle-tale" was always discouraged during my upbringing.  It is just low-class and uncharitable.  In another instance, the marital status of a certain individual was mentioned in a newspaper article about her job running a Catholic charitable endeavor.  She never even made an issue of it.  You could say she was being respectful of the theology of the Church by never making an issue of her marriage.  She never got in anybody's face with it.  (Gay people are constantly being accused of "getting in people's faces" with their relationships.)  And yet, because the newspaper mentioned her marital status, she got fired.  That sucks.

I know what I am saying could be argued round and round and round, with never an end in sight.  But, it just seems to me that the Church is starting to look like it is on a witch hunt.

As for me, if I were poor, I wouldn't mind getting my food from a married lesbian lady.  And if I were to sing in a choir, I wouldn't mind being conducted by a married gay man.  And if I had kids in a school, I would be happy for them to have the opportunity to learn from a married gay person, not only the subject matter, but how to get along with a variety of people.  I would want them to learn that people in same-sex marriages should not be demonized or stigmatized or marginalized.  And, truthfully, if you are never around people who are in same-sex marriages and if you are always being told how evil same-sex marriage is, it might be rather natural to come to demonize -- or at least marginalize -- the people in that kind of relationship.  In order to see a "person" instead of an "issue," maybe you need to be around the person. 

Remember.  Pope Francis said that we "must not marginalize these people."  And if you fire them from every single position in every single Catholic institution, what do you call that, if not "marginalization"?  Yes, there are many who disagree with me on this.  There are many who think that not marginalizing gay people only has to do with employment in the secular arena.  There are people who think that not marginalizing gay people in the Church community means only allowing them to participate as "run-of-the-mill" parishioners, not as leaders of such things as choirs or lectors.  I disagree.  I think setting up those kinds of barriers is a type of unnecessary marginalization.  It also leads to the self-identified "good" Catholics coming to have a rather superior view of themselves in relation to the "not-so-good" Catholics.  And that is not good for anybody.

I know this is a very complicated issue for many people.  I know the "apologists" could knock all my "arguments" on their backside with all of their intellectual "reasoning." But, when I look at all these people getting fired and I look at the rather snobbish, unyielding attitude of those doing the "ratting out" and the firing, it just makes my heart cry.  It just does not seem right.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Homeschool Mom "Uniform" -- A New Twist

I was a homeschool mom for 13 years.  It was quite a bit of fun.  The only reason I stopped was because my youngest graduated from high school.  And no, I don't homeschool college.  Don't laugh, y'all.  There are some people who do.  But, that is not me.

Anyhow, for those of you who are (perhaps blissfully) unaware, there is a homeschool mom "uniform."  It's kind of a stereotype.  But, it's kind of true. 

And it is this:
     1. Denim Skirt -- midcalf or longer, non-form-fitting, often with an elastic waist.
     2. T-Shirt -- rather loose-fitting, often inscribed with a Catholic or Irish dance logo.
     3. Birkenstocks.

I do not mean to be poking fun at anybody here.  This is just the way it is.  Yes, it is a broad generalization.  A rather fair broad generalization, in my opinion.  And now somebody is going to call the ACLU on me.  ;-)

To tell you the truth, though, this "uniform" is rather practical.  It is well-suited for the, often simultaneous, tasks that homeschool moms must accomplish -- daily Mass, Latin lessons, nursing babies, cleaning up after toddlers, driving all over the county in a 12-seater van in order to properly socialize and enrich the kids, and cooking large vats of homegrown foods.  It can easily be worn both with or without a bra.  It is good for early pregnancy, post-partum, and menopause.  It doesn't matter what type of panties you put on under it.  You can even put shorts on under it, for those pick-up games of soccer your kids might talk you into.  It is also not very sexy, which can be a boon when you have seven children under the age of 10.  And it is complimented by all types of hairstyles -- long, short, and braids.

Anyway, upon looking at myself in the mirror today, I realized that I am wearing the homeschool mom "uniform," albeit with a little bit of a twist.  Perhaps it can be looked upon as the "uniform" for us retired homeschool moms.  Familiar enough to be comfortable, but also a bit edgy.  And non-comformist.  ALL homeschool moms are non-conformist.  That should be pretty clear when you read the paragraph above.  (And when you read the paragraph above, it should also be pretty clear that homeschool moms are NOT women to be messed with.  They are basically the same as femi-nazis, but with a slightly different worldview.)

So, I present to you -- the retired homeschool mom "uniform":
     1. Jersey Maxi Skirt -- from The Gap, rather form-fitting, navy blue and white striped, with a waistline that sits slightly below the navel.
     2. Harley Davidson t-shirt -- black, hip-length, a bit figure-hugging (but, not tight), emblazoned in gold lettering with the Harley-Davidson logo and various decorative designs.
     3. Nike flip-flops -- black, with gel soles. So comfy!
     4. A few (subtle) purple highlights in my brown hair.

A rather smooth fashion transition, don't you think, for us non-conformist, menopausal, retired, homeschool mom broads?  I think so.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Being A "Shit Disturber"

Yesterday, I commented on how my mom used to tell me that I was a "shit disturber."  She said this to me very, very often as I was growing up -- probably from the time I was about 7 or 8 years old.  This used to upset me a great deal.  I didn't mean to be a "shit disturber."  I just tended to say things that got people all riled up.

It has taken me a very long time to accept the fact that I am a "shit disturber."  I have often tried to hide it.  I have often been very ashamed of it.  I used to consider it one of my big sinful failings.  But then, I wondered -- what if it is actually a gift, this being a shit disturber?  What if it is one of my purposes in life?  That sounds rather delusional, I know.  And it probably is.  Jesus did say, after all, "Blessed are the peacemakers."  Although, what if what He actually said was in fact "cheesemakers"?

But -- for good or for ill -- the fact is that I am, indeed, a "shit disturber."  And -- often -- it is all pretty unintentional.  But, I have also been trying to use this rather problematic aspect of my personality in a more intentional manner.  I have been deploying it -- more often than not -- knowing full well what I am doing.

Why, you may wonder, do I do this?

Because, sometimes, I see things that really piss me off.  And I just feel the need to throw some grease onto the fire.  It is just this very visceral need.

Now, do I think I am correct in my opinions all the time while I am launching these grenades?

NO.  I often have very detailed debates with myself about my own opinions.  I know "my side" is not the only side.  I know that my perspective is only my perspective.

But, I've seen and experienced a lot of crap.  I've seen and experienced injustice.  I hear stuff that just makes me roll my eyes.  And I know many people -- young and old and in-between -- who just don't fit into the neat little molds that others would have them fit into.  I know many people -- young and old and in-between -- who have suffered from the (often unwitting) ignorance and narrow-mindedness of (often well-intentioned) people.  And I know that I have often been the unwitting, well-intentioned person who has caused suffering to those who don't fit into my version of how things "should" be.

I also have seen many, many people -- young and old and in-between -- get told about how "God's will" works by those who are quite sincere.  In fact, I have been the "victim" of some of these people myself.  So have my kids.  And their friends.  But -- many times, anyway -- the people explaining "God's will" really don't have the knowledge or authority to do so.  It can get a little prideful.  And it can be VERY, VERY difficult for the "victims" of these well-meaning "mentors," who seem to be so holy and faithful themselves.  Because the "victims" -- if they disagree with the "mentors" -- not only feel that they are, perhaps, disappointing a friend, but that they are disappointing God, even sinning.

This is the thing.  God's will is complicated.  EXTRAORDINARILY complicated.  It involves God (of course) and a person.  A person with a past and a present.  A person with experiences that are not your experiences.  A person with hidden crosses.  A person with a unique psychological make-up.  A person with a FREE WILL and an INDIVIDUAL CONSCIENCE -- things that are not to be messed with by anybody else, even those who consider themselves "faithful."

And to tell somebody that if something is God's will that it WILL happen?  I don't know.  I think that's a very simplistic, human way of looking at something that is of God.  After all, people are not puppets and God is not a puppet master.  And you know what the Bible says -- "God's ways are so far above our ways and God's thoughts above our thoughts..."  Also, to say this to a young, immature, impressionable person could just really be asking for A LOT of trouble.  And this I know.  I have seen it.  Repeatedly. 

Maybe I'm just disturbing the shit here.  I don't know.  I just hate to see people -- especially young people -- end up rather disullusioned about God, not because of anything God has done, but because of what His people have done in His name.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Speaking Of My Navigational Skills...

...or lack thereof.

Yesterday, Bridget and I went to LA.  We had a most wonderful time! First, we went to a Young Storytellers Foundation show at an elementary school.  The Young Storytellers Foundation is my most favorite thing in this whole world.  Afterwards, we went to a place called The Grove.  There is no point in going to The Grove to try to identify celebrities, because everyone there is a celebrity.  Pretty much, anyway.  So, the best thing is just to try to blend in and not look awkward and out-of-place.  Bridget had helped me to find a good outfit in which to disguise myself.  It seemed to work.  I did not attract any undue negative attention and everyone was very friendly and welcoming.  Bridget and I had a lovely dinner at The Grove (where she was much admired by the handsome young waiter person, who is probably an actor).  We also looked at the wonderful dancing fountain and shopped in some of the amazing stores.  Let me tell you -- Nordstrom at The Grove is NOT the same store as Nordstrom in Escondido.  I really wanted this pair of shoes I saw at Nordstrom.  They were a pair of ballet flats with a kitty cat face on them.  And the eyes of the kitty cat were jewels.  It was pretty much the most awesome pair of shoes, EVER.  But, they cost something like $500.  So, I did not buy them.  But, someday, I might.  If I have enough to drink at the trendy restaurant.


Back to my navigational "skills".

Usually, when I go to LA, I take the Toll Road.  The Toll Road connects the 5 to the 405, and it is a very nice way of avoiding a bunch of traffic.  The Toll Road that connects the 5 to the 405, as you are going north from San Diego, is something like the 73.  I'm a little unsure right now.  On this particular trip, though, we stayed on the 5, because we weren't getting on the 405.  We were going right from the 5 to the 10. 

On the way home, we went a slightly different way back to the 5.  After we left The Grove, we got on the 101.  We were taking that back to the 5.  As we were driving along, I saw a sign that said "Toll Road".  But, it was the 133 (or something like that), not the 73.  Unaware that there is more than one Toll Road, I figured that maybe it had a different number to go south, versus to go north.  So, I asked Bridget if I should get on it.  Quite taken aback, she replied (in a very alarmed tone of voice), "No!  We'll end up WAY east of where we want to be.  Why are you even thinking that?!?!"  I patiently explained my thinking that perhaps the same Toll Road was numbered differently for going in different directions.  It turns out that there is more than one Toll Road in Southern California.  You learn something new every day, eh? 

Bridget will now NEVER, EVER let me drive to LA alone.

Oh well, at least there are many, many cute waiters (a.k.a. actors) in LA by whom she can be admired.

Which brings up another thing.  Whenever I go anywhere with Bridget -- which I do often, because (for reasons of visual problems) she doesn't drive -- she is checked out by hot guys.  Sometimes, I am checked out by guys, too.  But, they're usually over 60 and not all that hot.  Occasionally, though, I am checked out by a hot young guy who seems to be into "cougars".  Too bad for those guys, though.  They need to move on to the proverbial "greener pastures", for I am not of the feline variety.  Anyway, when Bridget is checked out by these hot guys, I am not quite sure what to do with my eyes.  Where do I look?  At the ceiling?  At the ground?  Do I pretend I don't notice?  Do I give the hot guys dirty looks?  That seems mean.  Do I just let them know -- in a nonchalant way -- that I do notice, but that I am cool about it, as long as they are gentlemanly.  Poor Bridget.  She could have all kinds of boyfriends if she didn't have to take her mum with her everywhere.  She is a good sport, though, and the whole thing seems to amuse her.  Besides, I did buy her one awesome steak at The Grove.  And also an awesome designer t-shirt (which was -- in a manner of speaking -- on sale).

So, here's to our next adventure to LA.  Unless, of course, we end up in Vegas. :p

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Teeny Tiny Little Rant :p

There is something I have noticed over the years.

Now, this isn't to pick on anybody or point to anybody in particular.

It's just something I have noticed.

And I think it isn't fair.

When you listen to the radio or peruse various reading materials or go online, you will often see things about marriage.  You will often see things about Christian women in marriage.  And often, there are Christian women speaking out or asking questions about difficulties that arise in their marriages.

And -- it seems to me -- that 9 times out of 10, the advice dispensed is contingent upon the idea that it is, somehow, the Christian women's fault that they are having marital difficulties. 

These at-fault women are too demanding of their poor, overworked husbands.

The unreasonable women expect their poor, overworked husbands to help them --  with the kids, around the house, in the yard, with errands.

The not-Christian-enough women want their poor, overworked husbands to have a conversation with them in the evening.

The high-need women want their poor, overworked husbands to do fun things with them on the weekends.

The mean women sometimes don't feel like having sex with their poor, overworked husbands.  And sometimes the mean women do want to have sex with their poor, overworked husbands.  The women's sex drives seem to cause problems for their poor, overworked husbands, in either case.

And these not-faithful-to-God-enough women go to radio talk show hosts and reading materials and the Internet to try to get some advice about how to make their marriages happier.  They present their problems -- as they experience them -- and sincerely seek help.

And -- 9 out of 10 times -- they are told that it is their fault. 

They are told that their husbands work so very hard for them and their children, to provide for them.  They are told that they should be patient and comforting and align their own sexual needs and desires to those of their poor, overworked husbands.  They are told that they are home all day, without the demands of demanding bosses and demanding co-workers.  They are told that they have the freedom to do what they want with their days, while their husbands slave away for the family at stressful jobs.  They are told that God will smile upon them and their husbands will be nice to them if they just quit being demanding and just be good mommies and homemakers.  They are told that of course their husbands are going to avoid coming home and be unhelpful and -- I have heard this -- have affairs if they don't learn to be soft, gentle, understanding wives with clean, orderly homes, readily aligning themselves to their husbands sexual appetite (or lack thereof).  They are told that if they would just be "good enough" in their own role as mother and homemaker that their marital problems will improve.  They are told to take responsibility for their unhappiness as wives, because it is, essentially, their own fault.

Yes.  This is what I hear/read 9 out of 10 times when I come across women talking about marital difficulties on the radio, in print, and online.

And I'm not saying that women shouldn't try to be good to their husbands.  Of course they should.  But, baby, it is a two-way street.  And it isn't all the women's fault.  And I am sick of hearing that it is.


Being a wife and mom is hard, too.  It is a LOT of work.  It is a 24/7 job.  And women get tired and stressed and overworked just like men do.  And there are no sick days.  And there is no vacation time.  And there is no HR department that you can complain to if somebody screams and cries and throws a tantrum at you while you are on the job.  There is, basically, no relief.  And no adult conversation.  And no lunches out or in the cafeteria.  And no exercise room.


Dear Marital Advice People (Especially You Christian Ones) -- Stop Blaming It All On The Ladies -- Because That Is Complete And Utter Nonsense -- Best Regards, Marla :)

(And no.  This is not a veiled complaint about my hubby.  I wouldn't do that.)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Kickstarter "SouthLAnd" Movie Pitch Video

First of all, I would like to apologize.  I know I keep going on and on and on about this "SouthLAnd" movie.  And that would be one thing if I actually had any credentials in the movie-making field.  As it is, though, I'm probably driving you all nuts.  So sorry. :(

Anyway, this should be my last post on the subject.  I don't really think I can do anymore from here in my bedroom.  Then I'll go back to posting about my other "fields of expertise" -- religion and politics.  Oh, yeah -- and mom stuff.  And tales from the "hippie era".

So, as promised the other day, here are some ideas for -->

A KICKSTARTER PITCH VIDEO (a.k.a. the video that will get the fans to open their wallets):

I have noticed, over the years, that people are very reluctant to open their wallets.  For anything.  Even for stuff they believe in.  A lot of this is very legitimate.  People don't generally have much disposable income, especially these days.  But, some of the problem is that they are not sufficiently inspired.  They need a little fire lit under their rear ends.  How do we ignite that conflagration?

To me, there are four ingredients to this recipe:

     1.  The Product/Story:  The fans have to be confident that the "SouthLAnd" movie will make all their dreams come true -- their dreams for the overall story and their dreams for the characters.  Maybe this is a slight exaggeration, but I think it's basically accurate.  I am not much of a Bible quoter -- because I am a Catholic and everybody knows that we Catholics don't know our Bible quotes -- but there is one I would like to mention here.  It is Jeremiah 29:11-13 -- "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  I think this quote goes to the core of our human nature, to the core of our hearts.  It encompasses what we desire for ourselves and those we care about.  It sums up our hope for humanity.  And, frankly, it addresses what I think many, many people want to see in a story.  We are willing to go through ups and downs and ups and downs with the characters.  We are willing to see them flail and suffer and fall.  But, if they are characters we care about, we hope to end the story with at least a little hope for their futures, for their proverbial salvation, if you will.  I think, then, that any Kickstarter pitch video should address this hope of the fans.  At least, I think it is the hope of the fans, based on what I've experienced.  Nobody wants to see Cooper dead or Ben dooming himself to a life of existential despair.  (Just my two cents here.  But, I think it could help to bring in the $$$.)

     2.  Passion:  The pitch video has to express very clearly the passion possessed by those who will ultimately create it.  A good example of the type of passion I am speaking of is expressed in the Kickstarter pitch video of Scout Tufankjian, creator of The Armenian Diaspora Project.  She is an absolutely delightful woman, whose pitch video just wants to make you empty your bank account and mail her a great big check.  Go watch it and you will see what I mean.  But, save a little money for the "SouthLAnd" movie, okay?

     3.  Achievability:  The goal of the Kickstarter campaign -- the amount of money to be raised -- must be actually achievable.  We need to study our numbers (in terms of project budget, show ratings, potential number of donors, donor demographics) in order to come up with a goal (in dollar terms) that is actually doable.  And the fan-base being counted upon to donate needs to be convinced (not in a con-artist type of way, of course; but, in an honest way) that the goal is attainable.  I hate asking people, who are already probably struggling to make ends meet and fund their 401k's, to commit to making a donation if the campaign is going to end up failing.  That's just too much of an emotional roller-coaster ride for anybody to take in this post-economic-crash world, especially if those people are fans who just love "SouthLAnd" the way many of us do.

     4.  Name/Brand Recognition:  The individuals actually on-camera in the Kickstarter pitch video need to be identified closely with the show.  The executive producers/creators and lead actors come to mind here, of course.  Other possibilities are people who wrote and directed particularly memorable episodes. 

Thank-you again for your utmost patience and kind attention.  It's just that it really gets to me when I see how excited the fans become every time there is an interview or article mentioning the possibility of a "SouthLAnd" movie.  I would really love to see it happen, and I'm willing to do whatever I can to help it along.  Except go on Facebook.  I hate Facebook. 

I'll send this along to the usual suspects.

So, here's to a "SouthLAnd" movie!  And here's to it happening before Ben McKenzie gets too old to leap from rooftop to rooftop.  ;-)